Travel tips, stories, and adventures from around the world.

If you’re headed to New York…

If you want to be a tourist in New York, just google “Things to do in NYC” and be done with it. You can do all the things that no NYer actually ever does (re: Times Square / Katz / Magnolia). If you want something a bit more adventurous and exciting (and NY), read on.

TL;DRIf you want to be a tourist in New York, just google “Things to do in NYC” and be done with it. You can do all the things that no New Yorker actually ever does (re: Times Square / Katz / Magnolia) – like going to Waikiki for peeps who grow up in Hawaii. If you want something a bit more adventurous and exciting (and NY), read on.

We’re going to take a break from all our cruise postings and post about NYC because we get asked pretty frequently about what people should do when they visit the city. Of course, take this all with a grain of salt as how you like to travel is pretty personal – and I get that. 🙂

We were (very, very) fortunate enough to live in Manhattan (re: Midtown, West Village, LES) for a few years with a short stint in Brooklyn. (Ok, fine – Williamsburg isn’t really BK.) Many of our friends and family came to visit, and we ended up being tour guides for a large chunk of our time there.

Trust me when I say – as a tourist, you can “do all the things no NYer ever does” – because we did them and when we told NYers, they were pretty amazed.

Over the years, a lot of people have emailed and asked Sara and I what to do – so here’s a small guide of what I’d suggest – maybe Sara will add some of her favs in the comments as there’s no way to capture the magic of the city in a single post. Since I still visit quite often, I’ll periodically update this post as time goes on (or maybe add new posts).

Note: We’re pretty adventurous and try a lot of new things and put ourselves in a lot of different (sometimes awkward/uncomfortable) situations. If that isn’t your thing, you probably should just stop right here and google “Things to do in NYC”.


Sleep No More

It’s now a bit old, but 6 years ago it was the best interactive theater experience we’d been to. If you want to read a bit about it before jumping in, the Times has an extensive write up about it.

#protip: If you don’t like surprises (BOOOOO!) and want to enter with #godmode, check out the Foursquare tips.  If you’re an explorer, you might even run into the orgy room (re: NC-17). If naked bodies aren’t your thing, you should probably stay away from this, but then again, what are you doing in NYC again? 🙂


MP3 Experiment

From Improv NYC – Sara found this on the Googles.  To find out more about our experience, check out recap #9. I can tell you that this is one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever participated in in my life as you listen to an audio track while taking part in a larger production.

#protip: If you don’t want to act silly in front of strangers, then do not do this. I repeat, do not do this. If your idea of fun is having a pillow or a water gun fight with a few hundred/thousand of your new best friends, then this is definitely for you. It was very, very fun.


Drunch

If you’re like me and wondering wtf “Drunch” is – it’s basically Sunday Brunch + all you can drink + club music… at 10 am. Yes, 10 am.  It’s a thing and generally happens in the Meatpacking District with 20-somethings who want to keep their Saturday night buzz going. It was also something we only did once with friends because honestly, I’m too old  – but it was a ton of fun. You’ll eat good food, down a bunch of Mimosas (re: bottomless) and see a lot of people dancing on tables. Reminded me of Ocean’s heyday in the 2000’s – but on Sunday morning.

#protip: Second rule of Drunch – Never meet up with your folks and plan to show them around town after Drunch. Sorry mom + dad! Good times.


Pizza

Discussing NYC Pizza is like talking about politics or climate change in the office, but here goes. If you want classic NYC, sit-down pizza in Manhattan, my favorites are John’s of Bleecker and Lombardi’s in Soho. We lived right off of Bleecker in the West Village, so you know I ate a lot of pizza.

For take-out slices, my favorites are Joe’s and Bleecker Street Pizza in the West Village and Prince Street Pizza in Soho. If you want something a bit more unique – Artichoke Pizza in Greenwich Village. (I’ll probably get an earful for that rec.)

As of late, I’ve been trekking it out to Williamsburg to hit up Emmy Squared (from the Emily’s duo) for Detroit Style pizza. If you don’t mind a trek, head to Di Fara‘s out in Brooklyn. Whatever you do, if you can afford it, don’t eat pizza from those dollar slice places. #doingitwrong

#protip: All the best pizza places are Downtown or in Brooklyn. If you’re eating pizza and not in one of those spots, you’re doing it wrong. Terribly wrong.


Street meat

You haven’t really lived if you’ve never eaten out of a NYC food cart.  From the churro lady @ the Bedford stop to the Halal vendors on… well, everywhere – they’re (mostly) tasty and wonderful. Definitely try some. If it’s running, my first recommendation would be to hit up Smorgasburg in Williamsburg. It’s a food truck convention with about 100 local vendors. It looks like they’re headed to the city soon so you won’t have to catch the dreaded L train.

My second recommendation would be Halal Guys on 53rd and 6th. During our first year in NYC, they were on my walk home from the office and I ate there at least 2x a week for a year straight. I’m exaggerating – kinda, but not really. They started to recognize me and even gave me a special reusable bag because I went so often. #nojoke #friends Haha.

#protip: They’re on all the corners except one, even if you see the NE/NW corners with super long lines, the SW corner is still them.  Watch out for the fake carts – it’s a dog-eat-dog street vendor world out there. Since they’ve become a national chain (and have brick and mortars around the city) , if you want something a bit more NYC, I’d highly recommend the King of Falafel on 53rd and Mad (Mon-Fri). Best falafels I’ve eaten in my whole life and being vegetarian, you know I’ve eaten a lot of them. It’s no joke that he’s the King of Falafel. They also have a place out in Queens – then again, what are you doing in Queens?


Games, games and well, more games

Fat Cat. Modern PinballSunshine Laundromat. Barcade. Chinatown Fair. SPiN NY. Royal Palms. Like with most things in life, I’m pretty competitive – these are my favorite places to play in the city.

Fat Cat: A bunch of TechStars folk (w/ Austen & myself) used to get together for a monthly foosball outing – sometimes crossing nights with NYC Foosball. There’s *really* cheap beer along with foosball, ping-pong, and pool. During the school year, there’s an endless supply of young NYUers to beat-up on. 😀 You might even run into professional ping pong players who will beat you with a shoe, right Austen?

Pinball: I used to drag Sara to Modern Pinball in Kips Bay after work on Fridays because you can pay a flat rate to play unlimited games for X number of hours or what I like to call “heaven”.  If you love pinball as much as I do, you should also trek it to Sunshine Laundromat out in Greenpoint because they have a sweet collection of pinball machines and a bar nestled behind a laundromat.

Barcade: While not as amazing as pinball, getting your fix in of old school video games is still super fun. There’s a ton of locations around the city now, but my favorite is still the Williamsburg one. As we’re on the subject of arcades, don’t forget to check out one of the last classic NYC arcades in Chinatown. Last time I was there, Chinatown Fair also has one of the few Killer Queen 5v5 machines (but I’m not positive it’s still there since it’s not listed on the KQ homepage anymore).

Royal Palms: This is probably the most unique of the bunch as it’s a shuffleboard spot out in Brooklyn. I always imagined it to be a game I’d play when I’m 70, but hey, it’s the BK and full of hipsters, so yeah. It’s a really large space with good drinks and a good bbq (Dinosaur) / ice cream (Ample Hill) joints nearby – so great for date night. Warning: if you’re playing locals, watch out for this guy named Austen – he’s pretty good I hear.

#protip: Do yourself a favor and do something on this list. Guarans that it’ll bring out your inner-child.


Dranks

There are tons of speakeasies in NYC. And if you haven’t been to one, you should go once. Sara and I went to most of them at least once and some of them a few times – here’s a decent Foursquare list of the most popular ones.

Personally, I’d recommend PDT because it’s both gimmicky and awesome to enter a bar through a phone booth in a hot dog shop. As a bonus, they also have a Double Dragon machine – so you can waste your quarters reliving your youth while you wait. You have to make a reservation (or end up waiting for hours) because it’s a tiny bar. Just keep calling, it’s not that hard to get a reso.

If you’re just trying to grab a drink, head out to the Lower East Side (LES) or the East Village (EV) because drinks will be cheaper and the crowd will be a lot less “douchey” and a lot more real.  With that said, I’m not a huge cocktail drinker as I tend to only drink Islay “band-aid” Scotch in my old age. For that, there’s no better place than the Brandy Library out in Tribeca. It’s pricey, but it’s quiet on slow nights and they have an insane collection of alcohol.

#protip: Not everywhere in the city is it $10 a beer. There are a lot of cheap places to drink downtown. Just avoid Midtown, Wall Street, and Tribeca and you’ll be fine. 😀


Whew. There were so many things we did in those 4 years that it’s hard to sum up all the amazing things that make up NYC in a single blog post. If I think up anything else, I’ll definitely add it here. If you’ve done something amazing in NYC that isn’t Times Square or the standard tourist trap (or just have a question or two about the city), definitely leave a comment!

Good Luck and safe travels!

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Kowloon Park vs. Kowloon Walled City Park

As much as I love big cities, there’s always something nice about stepping into greenery and (somewhat) quiet when you’re surrounded by skyscrapers. While we were in Hong Kong, these were the two parks we visited that I felt were worth mentioning.

As much as I love big cities, there’s always something nice about stepping into greenery and (somewhat) quiet when you’re surrounded by skyscrapers. While we were in Hong Kong, these were the two parks we visited that I felt were worth mentioning.

Our original plan was to only visit the Kowloon Walled City Park, since it was on a lot of those “top things to do” lists for Hong Kong and had four stars on Trip Advisor. However, I got it mixed up with Kowloon Park, which was a few blocks from our AirBnB. When we arrived, I realized we were at the wrong park, but since we were already there, we checked it out anyway (and went to the Walled City Park later that day).

TL;DR: Kowloon Walled City Park is beautiful and historic, but a bit small and out of the way. If your trip is short and you’re staying in/near Tsim Sha Tsui, I would skip it and check out the Kowloon Park instead, it’s just as pretty and actually much larger.

Kowloon Park

This is the park we went to first. Located right off the Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) MTR stop. Use exit A1, walk past the Kowloon Mosque and up the stairs to your left to enter the park.

It was busy, but not overwhelmingly crowded when we arrived around 10am. While the majority of the visitors seemed to be tourists, there were also locals doing Tai Chi and students on field trips.

At 33 acres, the park has a ton of attractions and we spent a good hour walking around and checking everything out. Check out the full map below for the full list.

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Kowloon Walled City Park

A bit further out, you need to take two trains to get here from TST. Starting on the Tsuen Wan (red) Line, transfer at Prince Edward Station to the Kwun Tong (green) Line, then get off at Lok Fu station. Once you get out of the station, take Exit A and walk toward the large retail shop signs (photo below).

Turn left on Junction Road and keep walking until you hit the next street, Tung Tsing Road. Cross the street, turn left, and the North West Gate will be on your right.

We arrived around 4:30pm (It took ~40 minutes from Hong Kong station – where we picked up dim sum at Tim Ho Wan). It was a Friday afternoon and the park was fairly empty – just one tour group and a few others walking around.

The park is a little over 7 acres and while there’s not as much going on here as there is at Kowloon Park, there was something about the quiet scenery that I really enjoyed. It might also have been because we had already walked around 15 miles by this point, and I was beat. Along with the pavilions and gardens, there’s a Kowloon Walled City exhibition in the Yamen (park office, building #1 on the below map).

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If you can only pick one

While both parks were nice, Kowloon Park reminded me of Central Park in NYC. It’s bustling with people, things to see and there were even some vending machines for drinks near the sculpture walk. On the other hand, The Walled City Park was quiet and filled with a lot more history.

If you’re into history, then definitely make time to head out there. If you’re traveling with small children, it’s probably best to stick to Kowloon Park since there’s more kid friendly activities there.

Kowloon Park (九龍公園)

Park Hours: 5am – 12am
Aviary/Bird Lake Hours: 6:30am – 6:45pm (Mar – Oct), 6:30am – 5:45pm (Nov – Feb)
Admission: Free
Address: 22 Austin Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Address in Chinese: 尖沙咀柯士甸道22號九龍公園體育館
Phone: +852 2724 3344

Additional Links

HK Leisure and Cultural Services Website
PDF Brochure (map and attractions)

Kowloon Walled City Park (九龍寨城公園)

Park Hours: 6:30am – 11pm
Exhibition Hours: 10am – 6pm (closed on Wednesdays)
Admission: Free
Address: Tung Tau Tsuen Road
Address in Chinese: 東正道
Phone: +852 2716 9962

Additional Links

HK Leisure and Cultural Services Website
PDF Brochure (map and attractions)
PDF Brochure of Exhibition
Visual History of Kowloon Walled City (Hongwrong.com)

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Tim Ho Wan – The world’s cheapest Michelin-star restaurant

Let the food and adventures begin! We started out our trip in Hong Kong, and while our list of places to write about is long, I figured this is a good place to start since they’re slated to open up a store in Royal Hawaiian Center this summer!

Let the food adventures begin! We started out our trip in Hong Kong, and while our list of places to write about is long, I figured this is a good place to start since Tim Ho Wan is planning to open up in Royal Hawaiian Center this summer! They also have a location in NYC if you can’t wait that long!

TL;DR: This place is worth it. If you’re anti-queues, go at an off hour and make sure you read the notes below on how to get there (if you’re headed to the HK MTR location). If you only have room for one thing: Baked Bun with BBQ Pork ?

Navigational woes

Google Map

There are four locations in Hong Kong and we had originally planned to go to the one in Olympian City, but since we were already at IFC (International Finance Center) after trekking the mid to central escalators, we decided to check out the one in the IFC Mall.

The address listed online was IFC Mall MTR Shop 12A, which seemed easy enough to find, but it’s a maze! I’ll save you our 15 minute back and forth confusion:

46

It’s actually NOT in the IFC Mall. Go to the Hong Kong station and head toward the Airport Express ticketing area. At the end, take the escalator down, go straight ahead, and it will be on your right. It’s in the L1 section on the above layout.

If you’re already in the mall, you can find it by heading toward the Airport Express or the MTR station (Tim Ho Won is located one level above the Airport Express). Look for this logo:

600px-MTRAirportExpress_logo.svg

We found it!

We arrived at a weird time, around 3:30 pm, but there were still a few people in line. Since we were on a pretty tight timeline, we opted for takeout and were given a paper order sheet to check off what we wanted.

Most people said it was packed when they came for lunch/dinner, so I definitely suggest coming at an off hour if your game plan is to sit down and eat (there aren’t any shared tables or places to sit in the station). Since our next stop was the Kowloon Walled City Park, we decided to jump on the MTR and eat in the park.

HOLY COW. The baked bun with BBQ pork was maybe the best thing ever. It’s not the traditional char siu bao that I’m used to getting at dim sum places in Hawaii (or anywhere else we’ve been, really). It was slightly sweet, flakey and so delish! So good that the previously vegetarian husband had TWO.

The pan fried turnip cakes were also great, but the baked pork bun stole the show. At $58 HKD (~$7.50 USD) for everything, it was definitely the cheapest Michelin-star food we’ve ever had, and chances are high that we’ll check out the one in Waikiki.

Tim Ho Wan (添好運)

中環香港站12A鋪(IFC地庫一層)
Hours: Mon to Sun, 9am – 9pm
Note: Cash only

Additional Links

Open Rice Link (Asia’s Yelp)
US Menu with pictures
Yelp Link for NYC location

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What to pack on a 14 day cruise

If you’re planning on taking a cruise, trust me when I say that cruisecritic.com will be your new best friend. We spent hours on that site (the forums are addicting) looking up…

If you’re planning on taking a cruise, trust me when I say that cruisecritic.com will be your new best friend. We spent hours on that site (the forums are addicting) looking up everything. Here’s what we learned from our first cruise:

How big is your stateroom?

This should be the first thing you figure out, and a quick google will pull up not only the exact square footage, but photos of the interiors of specific stateroom numbers (you should get this when you book your cruise). Our room included:

  • Total of 170 SF
  • Bed: 2 twins pushed together (this is the norm for “queen” beds)
  • Small couch and table
  • Closet with 24 hangers
  • 2nd closet with 6 shallow drawers and some space above
  • Safe that would fit my ipad air, but not Ry’s (15″) laptop
  • Under TV cabinet with mini fridge and drawer
  • Bathroom:
    • Two small shelves on the counter
    • 1 cabinet with 2 shelves (the other cabinet was for trash)

Protips

If you only read one section, read this one:

  • Pack a suitcase in a suitcase, or bring a foldable duffel – For the omiyage/shopping space
  • Dramamine / Ginger pills / those pressure point wrist things – we had 2 days of some pretty rough sea (17 foot waves!) and lots of people were sick. You can bet they were selling and not giving away the dramamine.
  • Take a photo of your luggage – This came in handy when we disembarked since one of our bags went missing. I showed them the pic and they pointed us toward where it was (the tag fell off and it was off in some random area).
  • Bring a pen – Every country has some sort of form to fill out and it’s always when there’s only one pen for 100 people to share.
  • Something to hold your room key in that isn’t your phone – Your room key doubles as your charge card on the ship, so you need it all the time. Mine demagnetized a bunch and was a huge pain (they blamed my cell phone).
  • Bring on Wine and Soda/Water – You can bring on up to 2 bottles of wine when you embark (per room). If you’re into soda/bottled water, this is a much cheaper route.
  • Downey wrinkle release – You can’t bring an iron, and getting your things pressed will cost you a pretty penny.

Note: these are tips specific to the Celebrity Millenium and may not apply if you’re on another cruise line or ship.


Our packing list

Won’t be detailing all the clothes, because when it comes to fashion, I’m probably the LAST person you should be taking notes from.

General

  • Extra hangers – on longer cruises, this is a lifesaver. I brought along 10 of those cheap ones from walmart and left them onboard when we disembarked.
  • Over the door storage – Because you’d be surprised what you can lose in 170 SF. This help beanies, umbrellas, lotions and all the random things we brought along. It was also only $5 at Ross, but I saw some hanger versions on Amazon that were like $2.
  • Hydroflask – for water because you’ll feel bad calling room service for water, but you also won’t want to walk up 8 decks to get it.
  • Hand sanitizer – For when you’re not on the boat. There are literally hand sanitizer machines at every turn when you’re on board.
  • Curling iron – for the fancy nights, also doubled as a make shift iron to get out some stubborn creases.
  • Silicone Makeup Applicator – I wasn’t a huge fan of these until I took them on this trip. It takes a bit of getting used to, but I LOVE them. Saves on so much product and super easy to clean. (This is the brand I purchased)
  • First Aid Kit
    • Immodium / Claritin / Benadryl (Since we were in China, but we ended up not needing at all)
    • Cold pills (Lifesaver, since I got sick then promptly spread my sick to Ry)
    • Cough drops
    • Thermometer (because I overpack)
    • Band aids (mostly used to cover up blisters from epic walking)
  • Febreeze – for when you don’t wash your clothes. KIDDDING. I brought because I hate smoke in my clothes and I thought we might go to an arcade in Asia.
  • Travel sized detergent – I hate paying for laundry and I hate overpacking so I washed some things in the sink. There was a line to hang things in the shower.
  • Razor / Shaving Gel / Shampoo / Conditioner / Bath Soap – Because I couldn’t just not shave for 14 days (haha). My hair is destroyed from coloring and my skin gets crazy dry in winter, so didn’t want to bother with the generic stuff. I just threw some half-empty bottles in my checked bags and tossed them at the end of the trip (more room for shopping!)
  • Covered coffee mug – Good in theory, but we only used it a couple times. If you’re an all day coffee drinker, I still suggest it. Or you’ll be carrying around hot water in those 6 oz mugs while you curse the rough water with burnt fingers.

Tech

  • Extra batteryThis is the beast of a power brick that we brought. It’s heavy, but it charged everyone’s things all day (3 phones, 2 pocket WiFi) without a problem.
  • International adapters – You don’t need this for the ship, as it includes 2 North American 110V outlets and 2 circular European 220V outlets, but we brought it for our nights in Hong Kong/China/Korea.
  • USB / Power strip – Most ships won’t allow you to bring a surge protector on board, but you can bring smaller extension cords. We brought this USB extension cord without incident.

Other Notes

When we were looking things up, there were a few things that I couldn’t find, so including those here.

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24 days around Asia

It’s been a whirlwind of a trip, and I made the huge mistake of not bringing my laptop. It made for a completely work-free environment, but it also meant that organizing and editing photos, as well as drafting blogs was a bit difficult. So get ready for the outpouring of content!

We’re back!

It’s been a whirlwind of a trip, and I made the huge mistake of not bringing my laptop. It made for a completely work-free environment, but it also meant that organizing and editing photos, as well as drafting blogs was a bit difficult. So get ready for the outpouring of content!

Four countries in 24 days

While that seems like a long time, aside from Hong Kong, Beijing and Seoul, we only stayed in each city for about 8-10 hours.

  1. Hong Kong, China
  2. Taipei/Keelung, Taiwan
  3. Nagasaki, Japan
  4. Busan, South Korea
  5. Jeju Island, South Korea
  6. Incheon, South Korea
  7. Beijing, China
  8. Shanghai, China
  9. Seoul, South Korea

Pounding the pavement

If you’ve read Ryan’s post about taking public transportation and the types of adventures he likes to have, you probably already have an idea of how we like to spend our vacations. That being said, the real proof is in the miles. Based on the S Health app on my phone, we averaged 11 miles everyday (when we weren’t stuck on the boat). If you’re curious how much actual walking we did, I dropped our stats into a spreadsheet, because #math.

Land tours vs exploring solo

With three days and two nights in Beijing, we decided to jump in on a land tour that Ry’s family booked. This was a huge help in terms of logistics, and our tour guide was extremely well-versed in the history and background of the locations we visited, but it did have the downside of being a pre-determined schedule that left zero room for meandering. I’ll write more about it in the post about Beijing – the overall experience wasn’t bad, but personally, I didn’t love being rushed around.

The best and worst of the trip

Since coming home, pretty much everyone I talk to has asked what the highlight of the trip was, and it’s been a hard question to answer. One friend put it pretty simply, and asked what I’ll remember most when I’m looking back on this in 10 years. Honestly?

The raccoon cafe! They were cute, mischievous, and honestly – that’s probably the only time I’ll ever play with a raccoon. Hahaha.

Cutest raccoon ever

The worst was having a fever for 4-days when we got back from China. Luckily two of those days were sea days, but we didn’t get to see much of anything in Shanghai because of it.

That’s it for the summary – look forward to lots of posts about the specifics of where we went and what we did!

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Why I catch public transportation in foreign countries and you should too!

I always find that one of the best experiences in a foreign country is taking public transportation. Whether it’s by bus or subway, you get an intimate glimpse into the daily lives of someone local to the area.

tl;dr – If you easily get anxiety, skip this blog post. You’ll thank me later. If you like adventure but have been taking taxis or ground tours in foreign cities, this is most definitely for you.

I always find that one of the best experiences in a foreign country is taking public transportation.

Ryan on the bus in Nagasaki

Whether it’s by bus or subway, you get an intimate glimpse into the daily lives of someone local to the area. It feels so alive to be deeply immersed in a foreign locale.  How else will you see all the drunken salary men stumbling home in Asia (!?!) or the amazing subway performers in NYC?  I often read travel blogs that skip over the logistics of getting to a destination and think to myself that they’ve missed a good chunk of the local culture – #DoingItWrong.

I get that it’s scary to not understand nor speak the language.

I get that it’s daunting to not be able to read public transportation schedules or catch a bus *gasp*! (It’s crazy how few people catch the bus here in Hawaii!)

I get that it’s nerve-wracking to be lost in a place you’ve never been.

#protip: Try it sometime when you’re not alone. It’s also (generally) cheaper than a cab.

It’s exhilarating. It’s educational. It’s exactly what I love about travel. In our latest travels, Sara and I headed out to Haedong Yonggungsa – about an hour and a half adventure on a subway + bus to a beautiful temple out on the northeastern Busan coast. I won’t lie – it was a bit harrowing being out in the middle of nowhere where people didn’t understand much English, and we spoke minimal Korean, but it was absolutely worth it. I’ll link to Sara’s blog post when she posts about it. 😀

Even though I’ve done it hundreds of times at this point in my life, here’s some helpful tips so that you can stop taking those guided land tours and venture out a bit to explore a foreign country’s countryside.

Some helpful tips if you plan on following my advice:

  1. Always have a portable electronic device like a cell phone or an iPad handy.
  2. Always carry an extra battery pack to make sure #1 stays on.
  3. Always have an Internet connection. It could be a cell phone plan, SIM card, or pocket WiFi, but always make sure you’ll have an Internet connection. Trust me when I say that there are hundreds if not thousands of apps that can help you navigate in a foreign country. This isn’t critical, but if you don’t have a connection, you’ll probably have to do a lot of pointing and what not to the locals (trust me on this one). 😀
  4. If available, download offline maps (re: Google Maps) so that you can screenshot locations and show bus drivers / subway operators / locals where you want to go in the case you lose Internet.
  5. Always carry your hotel card (or AirBnb location starred in Google Maps) and enough money to jump in a taxi if your anxiety ever gets too great. I think having this fail-safe allows me to explore with a greater level of confidence.
  6. Look to download the country’s messaging app as many services are integrated. For example, if visiting China, make sure you have WeChat. It even has a helpful Chinese-English translation tool in the case you really get stuck. If you’re in Korea, make sure to get Kakao, Line in Japan, Google Translate, etc. You get the message. There are so many digital applications that will help you not only communicate with others in a foreign country, but also help you navigate so you can GTFO.
  7. If you can afford it, buy the all-you-can-eat daily | weekly pass, etc. In my experience, this usually costs a bit more than paying for individual tickets, but it saves you the trouble of having to purchase a ticket every time and/or having exact change. If anything, see if the destination has the equivalent of a refillable transit card that you can deposit one lump sum and just swipe at stalls like the Pasmo/Suica cards in Japan or the T-Money cards in Seoul.
  8. Be respectful and learn a few words that you’d use on public transportation like “Thank You” or “Excuse Me”. Nothing worse than being “that American” in a foreign country.

So take my advice on your next adventure and tweet me a photo of your transit pass!

3 Comments on Why I catch public transportation in foreign countries and you should too!

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