From “The Berry”

should i pack it?

“Should I Pack It?” from “The Berry” (Click image for website)

“USING AN ASIAN TOILET – THE ART OF SQUAT, GO, WIPE, AND THROW”

Because these things are a need-to-know for study abroaders 🙂 **DB

“Using An Asian Toilet – The Art Of Squat, Go, Wipe, and Throw”

BY Unknown via “GuideinChina”

Everything you need to know before squatting over an Asian toilet

I figured having been here almost two months, it was about that time. It’s a fact: come to Asia and at one point or another, you’ll have to squat while going to the bathroom. I’m fortunate enough to live in a Western styled dorm, so I rarely have to use that “other kind of toilet”, but I do use them and with a good amount of success. I realize I’m not the first person to write on the subject – Marco Polo probably did back during Mongol rule when squat toilets were just dirt holes (still primitive when compared to the outhouse). However, his description didn’t have the colorful pictures, translated signs, and detailed diagrams like mine does. There’s more to it than just the perfect squat angle you know. Take a read, you won’t regret it when your bowels are relieved and pants are dry.  And in case you were worried, it’s relatively clean for a post about toilets. So here’s Everything You Need To Know Before Going To The Bathroom In China.

 

First, a few quick notes

1. China is a BYOTP country.

If you didn’t catch that, BYOTP is “Bring Your Own Toilet Paper” – 卫生纸 “weishengzhi”. In some of the more upscale, fancy, or international places, toilet paper is provided. But on the whole, if you don’t bring your own, your two options are to A) ask the guy in the stall next to you to borrow some, or B) walk home with a little extra something in your underwear. You can buy single rolls of toilet paper in just about any small store for less than a quarter, and I would suggest keeping a pack of pocket tissues with you at all times.

2. Yes, that’s a trash can in your stall. No it’s not for trash.

I haven’t been able to get a definitive answer on this, but in most places in Beijing, flushing toilet paper is a no-no. The sewage system in Beijing (and I’m pretty sure all of China) is old and worn out, and while you might be okay flushing one piece by accident, two is pretty much a sin. That’s right, no need to hesitate, you can just throw it right in with all of the other brown and white tie-dyed toilet paper wads. I like to think that those cans get emptied once a day, but I know that’s a little optimistic. On the positive side, there’s never a need to ask where a bathroom is…the constant stench of festering dirty toilet paper (or toilet paper composting if you will)  is a dead giveaway.

3. Different Names – formal and not so formal:

Squat toilet
Squatty potty
Pit toilet . . . .

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A Girl’s Guide to Surviving Study Abroad

“A Girl’s Guide to Surviving Study Abroad”

by Zoe Radner via “Huffington Post

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A smart girl’s tips for traveling abroad

While traveling abroad may be an equally enthralling experience for all, we ladies are faced with some unique challenges we must conquer during our journeys. Everyone receives the standard advice when traveling– tips to avoid pickpockets, find the best food and score the best deal on souvenirs. Aside from these more common suggestions, women must be equipped to deal with a whole other set of unique struggles.

Makeup Mishaps
Makeup is something I found to be one of the biggest nuisances during my travels. It’s a hassle to lug around a bag full of all your lotions, powders, creams and pencils when traveling continuously, or even over a short weekend trip. Not to mention, some of my most expensive and revered powder was smashed or shattered in a single instance of plane turbulence or mishandled luggage. Few things are more devastating than opening your bag to find that your nearly untouched Nars bronzer has crumbled into oblivion. To avoid mishaps like these, make sure you’re only packing the essentials for your trips. By bringing only what you can’t possible live without, you reduce the hassle and the threat of damage. If your powder does smash, a trick I’ve learned is mixing a little water in with the pieces, pressing it down to reform in the container and letting it dry.

Time of the Month Troubles
I was warned on multiple occasions prior to leaving for Europe that normal tampons, like Tampax, would be harder to find once abroad. While you don’t even want to imagine having to deal with a period while trying to explore and enjoy Europe, if you’re traveling for an extended period of time there’s a good chance you’ll have to. More often than not, I was able to find a completely normal selection of tampons in grocery stores and pharmacies across the continent. However, I have heard of people being unable to find tampons with applicators in some cities. Yikes. To salvage your European adventure while plagued with period, make sure you pack extra lady products in your bag, as well as Advil or Ibuprofen and water. . . .

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24 Best Travel Blogs and Websites 2015

Got any good ideas?~DB

“24 Best Travel Blogs and Websites 2015”

by Team Fathom via “Fathom

24 Best Travel Blogs and Websites 2015

When we compiled our original 24 Best Travel Blogs and Websites, we thought we were creating an index that would be useful for readers and for ourselves. Little did we know it would become the most popular feature we’ve ever published.

Three years later, the web has evolved and new talent has emerged. After considering hundreds of sites (the internet: it likes to travel), we’re proud to announce the 24 Best Travel Blogs and Websites of 2015.

This year, we’re honing in on personal journeys and very specific lenses people use when traveling. You’ll find a blog that distills the world into 12-hour itineraries, a website that catalogs the world’s best reading nooks, an online compendium of weekend jaunts from NYC, and a guide to traveling in search of the best oysters. Happy exploring.  . . .

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Top tips for keeping money safe abroad

“Top tips for keeping money safe abroad”

by Economic Voice Staff via “The Economic Voice

According to research carried out by my Travel Cash, almost one in four Brits (23%) has been stranded abroad without access to cash, with 30% of those reporting that this was as a result of being a victim of crime.  Myles Stephenson, CEO of my Travel Cash, offers advice to travellers to avoid typical pitfalls when heading abroad:

Carrying cash

“To avoid repeatedly paying for ATM charges, travellers often opt to withdraw lump sums of cash when abroad, which could make them vulnerable to loss or theft. Using a prepaid currency card means that ATM charges can be avoided, removing the need for holidaymakers to carry lots of cash with them and giving them peace of mind.”

Dynamic currency conversion (DCC)

“When using a credit or debit card for shopping abroad, tourists are often given the option to pay for the transaction in their own currency rather than the local one – which is portrayed as being more convenient. Rather than DCC simply showing the customer what the amount translates to in their domestic currency, it usually uses a less favourable exchange rate meaning the traveller pays extra. Tourists are better off paying in local currency or with a prepaid currency card to avoid paying these additional charges, as this kind of expense can add up during the course of a trip.”

Wallet (PD)What to do with your bank card

“Prepaid currency cards, such as those offered by my Travel Cash, also come with the added benefit that if the card were to be stolen, the customer’s personal bank account is not linked to it in any way. We advise customers to take out two cards on their account, so a stolen card can be blocked as soon as the theft is reported and any unused balance can then be transferred to the spare.”

Spread the load

“A good tip for keeping valuables safe is to make sure they are not all in the same place. When out and about it’s advisable to carry only what you need. Keep valuables you don’t require, in a secure place such as a hotel safe. When you are out keeping some spare cash in various different places other than in your wallet could help if you were to run into trouble,  it is never a good idea to keep valuables in your back pocket.”

Be discrete

“It is easy to see how tourists draw attention to themselves rifling through the unfamiliar bank notes of another currency when making a payment. It’s best not to make a scene when doing this and carrying a prepaid currency card means it can be avoided altogether.

“We would always advise all tourists to be aware of their surroundings when on holiday, and to make sure they take the necessary precautions to ensure that their trip goes off without a hitch.”

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Planning to study abroad? Remember student travel insurance

“Planning to study abroad? Remember student travel insurance”

by Adhil Shetty via “Money Control”

Overseas Student travel insurance offers to protect financial losses arising out of various unforeseen events. One should take a note of possible health issues and buy a suitable policy

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Studying abroad is a dream that most in the student community would confess to having, but few go on to actually realize it. Therefore, once you have earned the opportunity to study abroad, it makes sense focus on your goal rather than fritter your time away in mitigating unforeseen hurdles that one invariably confronts in life. This is where a student travel insurance policy comes in – it can help you be prepared for potential health risks, accidents and other unanticipated hazards.

Here is a detailed analysis of the features and exclusions of student insurances for interns or students who aspire to travel abroad for higher studies.

Ensuring Safety by the Aid of a Relatively Cheap Policy

Many people opine that their personal health insurance will automatically cover the medical issues for a traveler abroad, which, unfortunately, does not hold true in case of injury or illness. Even if the basic medical expenses are covered, there may be limitations on the policy, causing the policy holder to bear a major section of the expenses. On the other hand, with student travel insurance, the traveler can ensure full coverage for medical expenses at comparatively cheaper rates!

Insuring on the Basis of your Requirement

In the case of student exchange programs or internships, many students often decide to postpone their return; others tend to travel to nearby destinations before they return to their homeland. Under such circumstances, the trip-only insurance policies end on the scheduled date, which can be extended further in case of a long-term plan. Thus, whenever you decide to travel abroad, plan your trip carefully, analyzing the place of study and your immediate plans after the course. In case you have the option to gain some experience by volunteering or applying for an internship, it is ideally recommended to consider the long term student travel insurances that can be easily renewed online for an extended coverage.

Coverage for Homecoming

There are many insurers in the market who offer coverage for the short trips to home that student often make. This can be very useful in circumstances where you might need medical help when you have landed in your home country. This is another factor to be considered on while choosing your travel policy. For instance, if your academic institution does not allow you to leave the country during a term, you might not get a chance to pay a visit to your family. On the other hand, if you skip the coverage for brief homecoming, an unanticipated emergency or accident at your home can drain your pockets unless you plan for it beforehand.

Things to be considered Before Purchasing a Policy:

• How Far you are travelling: Medical care expenses are typically governed by the location of the patient as well as the patient’s condition. Consider the distance you are travelling before purchasing the insurance policy. Moreover, if you are travelling in a location with common health risks, you must pay special attention for that coverage in your policy.
• Determining the medical expenses available: In many countries, medical care facilities are provided by the academic institutions as a part of the sponsorship program. However, if your insurance policy includes this cost, it means that you do not need to worry about the bills even if you travel to other countries.
• Your own risk: Students traveling abroad for studies differ in personality and inclination for risk-taking. While some prefer to be hooked with projects and term papers, others might love exploring new places. Needless to say, almost every traveler faces a finite amount of risk, simply because they are away from their home country.

Exclusions in the Student Travel Insurance Policy

Much like all forms of insurance, student travel insurance too has its own set of limitations. Here are the most common exclusions in student travel insurance coverage:
1. Accidents or injuries caused by drinking or under the influence of drugs;
2. Any form of loss due to mental health problem or depression;
3. Returning to home country for availing medical facilities;
4. Accidents caused by personal risks or extreme behavior – for example, adventure sporting, diving or jumping off from heights.
5. Pre-existing medical condition, i.e. if you experience a serious illness or injury about 2-3 months prior to the trip, and in due course of the trip you need medical care for the same cause, the expenses will not be covered by the policy. . . . . .

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Book Review: “Italy Travel Guide: Top 40 Beautiful Places You Can’t Miss! “

“Italy Travel Guide:

Top 40 Beautiful Places You Can’t Miss! “ 

by Manuel de Cortes

A handy tour guide gifted to visitors of Italy.

 

Manuel de Cortes’s recent book, “Italy Travel Guide: Top 40 Beautiful Places You Can’t Miss” is an resources for travelers or students interested in visiting Italy.  At 125 pages, the book is small but still contains quite a bit of useful information on locations worth checking out during your trip.

I’ve never been to Italy, so I cannot actually tell you if the places he recommends are truly the best. But I looked up some reviews and pictures of the spots, and I would definitely want to check them out if it were me. I’m planning my dream trip to Italy one day, and this book gave me some great ideas 🙂

There are seven Chapters, including the introduction and conclusion. He has divided the country into a general overview, North Italy, Central Italy, South Italy, and the Islands.  Each gets its own description and list of recommended locations.  In addition to brief descriptions, he also throws in the fun fact here and there  to spice up your trip.

The book is a little simple, and he doesn’t include directions or tell you how to reach these spots. And it’s usually recommending a larger area (this city, that pot), so specifics like where to find dinner or shop aren’t here.  That will be up to you. But it is a good place to find ideas if you want to get a good look at all the different areas in the country.

Writing style: Pretty good. Some of the writing could have been edited better, but I feel that with a decent editor it would read like a professional.  Mr. Cortes has written several other books, and is obviously familiar with the writing process.  The book is self-published, and you can tell in some places. But overall, I really liked the flow and all the information he includes. A lot of people seem to have really appreciated his use of pictures – he has one for almost all of the major locations. It certainly helps you find them on the streets. 

If you are planning a trip to Italy, I recommend checking his book out.  You can find it on Amazon as a cheap E-book ($2.99) so you can carry it with you as you tour 🙂

 

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