Topic Index
Travel Journals

These journals are meant to serve as both documentation of my travel and hopefully provide some introductory help into specific locations by leaving a trail of guides, tips and resources I used.

Travel Tips

Most of these broad stroke tips and resources are in relation to my traveling in Asia but would probably be useful in some other areas.

Planning Consider going in low season to many places and you should be able to wing all your booking. You’ll find some resorts in Thailand for $20 a night. Sometimes buying one way tickets and hopping to your destination is cheaper. Make sure to know VISA info for the country you’re entering. Lonely Planet is extremely helpful to find all the important information about where you’re going. Your plans will most likely change. Use LP, Instagram, & various city guides to find places you want to see but don’t over commit.
Insurance Get it. Cheap and will come in handy if your camera is stolen, need medical help, or canceling your trip. World Nomads has an easy and reputable way to get it. 
Food “If you see it, eat it.” Eat street food. Go with your gut on food safety but don’t over judge it. When ordering food remember that just because you order a “salad” doesn’t mean it will be a salad. This rule applies to EVERYTHING. Sausage at breakfast can mean hot dog etc… Don’t be that person upset because “they” got it wrong. Most places that say “local & western” food really mean they do both half ass. Don’t fill up on the free western breakfasts at your hotel as there is much to try.
Lodging From experience Agoda is the best website to find deals on hotels. Go with the number rating and reviews not how many stars the hotel has. Many hostels for 2 people are the same price for a decent or even excellent hotel. AirBNB is overall the same price as hotels and more hassle.
Packing You will always regret packing too much. Get a camera size water resistant bag for wallet and phone. Saves the day on beach or in rain. You can wear merino wool socks for days on end without washing them with no smell. 
Money Have a backup situation. Carry debit cards from two different banks and store them in separate places. If you lose one you can transfer money from one bank to the other. Getting a new card mailed to you in 2 days is near impossible in the states and even more trouble overseas. I found myself using this solution twice in the last 5 years. Use ATM’s and carry small bills as most places don't break large amounts. XCurrency is the best looking simple currency app I've found.
Taxis Always take the metered cabs to avoid overcharge. There will be times to splurge for private transport.
Music Make sure to have music downloaded to your phone and Spotify playlists offline. You will be bummed if you’re on a plane/train/ferry and all you have is one album to listen to. Big headphones are clunky travel shit.
Water Besides the whole don’t drink from the tap stuff.. make sure you are drinking ENOUGH water. Common reason for being tired. Stock water before you go out so you don’t wake up at 2am thirsty and shit out of luck. Crushed ice in some countries is just tap water ice, so look for ice cubes.
Phone A backup battery is a MUST. I love the small Anker batteries. WiFi is everywhere. Use WhatsApp. FaceTime Audio proved to be the best free talk option for me on WiFi. Unlock your phone and use SIM cards in each country. If you’re traveling for awhile and in multiple countries consider getting T-Mobile with unlimited global plan. It works perfect when you step off the plane.
Scooters If you aren't confident don't rent them. Some places ask to keep your passport. It’s common so don’t overthink it.  Many places, especially in Bali's traffic, can be overlweming for new riders. Helmet always. Definitely get travel insurance if you are renting one.
Culture Learn some language: Hello, thank you, delicious. Being able to ask "what's your name" is always a good ice breaker. Brief yourself on the local etiquette. Put yourself in other people’s shoes. When in doubt concede. Be respectful of the attire.
Notes Use a notes app or notebook and write down everything. Having all Airline information in an offline setting, outside of email, will make you less stressed looking for a confirmation number at an Airport at 6am rush. Apple notes works great especially synched. TripIt app is amazing for collecting all travel info offline too.
Flights Cheap flights exist but it takes work to find some or you have to be willing to travel on flexible dates. I've yet to get a grasp on it but Momondo has proven me solid affordable flights. Most of the time round trip tickets are cheaper or equal to a one way however sometimes hopping from city to city can be cheaper than a direct flight if you only need to go one direction. If you're doing a 30+hr itenerary make sure to browse the ones around the 40-60hr. Sometimes they have 16-24hr layovers in a city you might want to visit for a night. Buy a blanket travel insurance package instead of through the airline.
Reserve Budget You change your mind while traveling. All of your expecations are different than reality. This could be in the form of staying an extra day in one city before moving to the next. It helps if you have a reserve budget for these situations. Several times I have eaten the cost of missing a hotel in one city to stay longer in another. Unless you are OCD about travel a lot of things will emerge on the way that you had no clue about. 
Two Day Rule Unless I'm in quick transit mode I try to use a minimum 2 day rule when staying in one location. It always sucks to check into a hotel and have to leave in the morning. And most places take longer then 24hrs to get an idea of what they are like. 
Landmarks Make note of landmarks around where you are staying while moving. Most of the time you're only looking at one side of the street while walking or in transit. When you walk home and you find yourself on the other side of the street things look very different. At night things look VERY different. You double guess yourself. 
Camera If you're looking to document your trip I suggest something smaller then a DSLR camera. Having a pocket sized camera or something small around your neck makes it easy to snap photos on a whim and you don't look as distracting as someone fidling with a big camera. 98% of the photos I take are with a Ricoh GR II. It's half the price of a FujiFilm X100T and does a superb job with versatile situations. But most importantly just find something that makes documenting your trip easy and fun.
All images copyright Michael Madrid 2017. Ask for a print. I'll mail it to you. hi@michaelmadrid.com