The content of each post is solely written by that contributor and only expresses the contributor's personal views. Each post does not represent the views of all the contributors or Women of Color Living Abroad as an organization. Each contributor is speaking from their own person experiences and/or perspective.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Scared Traveler: A Slight Change in Plans

Dottie Hill

I think there is a saying that goes something like this, “Even the best laid plans change.” I know the universe will not always bring sunny skies nor will it allow all of your cards to fall into place. So, a planned trip with friends has its ups and downs. What happens when one friend is prepared, and they can no longer take the trip but you aren’t prepared? For anyone that knows this, it can spell disaster while scrambling to make the most of an unprepared vacation. The one thing that can make a vacation less of a disaster is choosing the perfect place to stay. Luckily, for me that’s what I did even when one friend who possessed the know-how of the vacation spot could no longer go. The central location of the hostel I stayed at proved to be a blessing in disguise. Not only were there great places to see in the city center the location provided easy access to other places nearby using the subway or bus.

Forbidden City

With so much to see I was clueless to all the great tourist spots and not so great spots. Since I’m a firm believer in relying on the kindness of others, I did just that. This kind person happened to be the clerk at the hostel. What I got was more than what I was looking for. Not only did the person at the front desk give me a map of the historical places of the city, he also gave me a subway map. As I talked with him he mapped out everything I was interested in seeing on my map, and even provided information about great places the locals go in the city.

Street Food
As I explored the city and saw lots of things I couldn’t help but wonder how interesting it was without knowing anything before I came. I can tell you, if you decide to go to Beijing make sure you bring a great pair of walking shoes. There is so much to see in this city and different kinds of foods to try as well. Although, my palate screeched at the thought of candied fruit, it loved the steamed pork dumplings. Not surprising, there were no short supplies of familiar western food chains (McDonald’s and KFC). As always Starbucks is never hard to find anywhere you go, but seeing a Haagen Dazs store made my day.
For travelers like me or the most prepared travelers here are a few tips you may consider when traveling. Remember a great hotel or hostel will provide travelers with up to date maps of the city and/or subway lines. These are great sources for understanding where you are and getting an idea of where you want to go. Don’t just take the map and GOOGLE “sites to see in …” Talking with the person at the front desk will give you good insight to the city. Here are a few questions I asked the clerk on my recent vacation:
What’s a good place to eat around here? 
The Great Wall of China
Where do the locals go to shop?
Where are the clubs and bars?
Where are the bars the locals go to?
Is it easier to get to ... by bus or subway?
Which bus should I take?
Do you offer tours to different sites?
Where are the movie theaters?
Where are the running parks?

Tiananmen Square
These questions are general enough to get the desk clerk talking. Make sure you include questions that are geared towards things you like. Also, while you are chatting with this person, remember to have them outline places on your map. This will give you a better idea as to how far certain places are, and help you at planning your time. Then you will be able to choose where you want to go, and know if it’s a great place to visit.

Having a handy dandy app is a must for a scared and unprepared traveler like me. One of my favorite travel apps is Triposo. It’s an interactive travel guide that uses the web to give information on popular travel destinations around the world. You can download the guides you want on your phone and they’re all free. It has information from history to food and culture as well as maps. Although, I went on my vacation clueless I managed to have a great time. I hope that you are able to have an adventure whether you are prepared or not.

Good Luck!

No comments:

Post a Comment