After a stressful few months (or years, if you are an aspiring engineer in Bangladesh) at work or university, we all deserve a respite. When those Eid/Puja holidays suddenly turn into 9-day vacations, we don't wait for a second invitation to utilise those soon-to-be expiring visas and go out on the adventure of a lifetime! But being the confused and over-excited bunch that we are, most of us here in Bangladesh tend to overdo it. Here are 7 things, whether visiting for business or pleasure, you should avoid to make your trip more memorable.
1. Don't take your house with you
You don't always have to utilise that 30kg luggage limit. All hotels provide towels, toothpaste, shower gel and other essentials, so taking your Lux soap on a world tour is not the best idea. Similarly, get a good idea about the weather and pack according to your itinerary to avoid stuffing your luggage with clothes you probably won't be needing. Keeping two extra shirts is always wise. 6 pairs of jeans, though, is not.
2. Hotels are not the only option
Initial research will always redirect us to nearby hotels which are, more often than not, beyond our budgets. We then end up booking below-par hotels for a slightly lower price. That's when sites like Airbnb come in handy. Hostels and apartments are readily available in most tourist countries and will save you a fortune! In a recent visit to Singapore, yours truly saved USD 29 per day by staying in a comfortable hostel instead of those USD 703 multi-star hotels, which add very little to your experience in the first place.
3. Don't eat near tourist sites
What's cooler than a selfie in front of the Eiffel Tower with one of those fancy subways right? Have some mercy on your wallet and avoid this. Eateries near popular tourist sites know that you are here for one day and will probably never come back. As a result, food taste is the least of their priorities and more often than not, you will end up spending double for half the quality. If you want a real taste of the local cuisine at a reasonable price, visit restaurants near bus stops or stations.
4. Don't be shy
It's time to let go of your internal egos and admit that you don't know everything. At one point, Google Maps will ditch you too. Ask around—talk to the hotel staff, the guy at the MRT or that random stranger you met on the street, because locals will give you the best possible directions and those valuable insights that could save you a lot of money. Make your daily schedule based on their suggestions to make use of the shortest routes and cheapest eateries around.
5. Keep copies of your documents
Losing your passport in an unknown country is worse than a nightmare. But accidents happen and you should be prepared. Scan crucial documents and email them to yourself. Whenever you go out of your hotel, keep a copy of your passport with you in case the local police decide to have a quick chat. Save the number of the Bangladeshi Consulate in your destination and always be alert to avoid pickpockets.
6. Never exchange money at the airport
Airports have the worst possible exchange rates coupled with hefty commission charges to take advantage of you in your time in need. It is always better to exchange your money at home from local brokers. If the foreign currency isn't available here (like the Turkish lira), convert your hard earned takas into dollars or euros which are accepted by almost all tourist countries. If you still need the native currency, convert your money near tourist sites or popular shopping malls—these are strictly monitored by the local government and don't charge as much as the airports.
7. Don't forget your medication
Yours truly wanted to make a number 8 for this article with the heading 'Don't overeat'. But let's face it, that's not happening. If you are a light eater in Bangladesh, 6 meals a day abroad is a bare minimum. So keep those anti-diarrheal medications handy. Carry medication for colds and sunscreen if you are going near the beach and don't forget to avoid food that you are allergic to. In fact, keep anti-histamines nearby anyway. Time to dig in!