Subscribe to our Blog
- Bad Authentication data.
At the close of each trip or big adventure, Joe and I like to debrief our recent experiences on the drive or flight home. We spent the last five weeks in China and have learned so much, both about the Chinese culture and way of life, but also about international travel and logistics. On the ten hour flight from Shanghai to San Francisco, we had ample time to talk about what we enjoyed most, all the people we met, and the things we would do differently if we return. However, we found ourselves primarily discussing what we learned about international travel and thought it would be fun to jot down and share our thoughts with others who already travel internationally or are planning to in the future. This was our first big international trip together as a married couple, but definitely not our last. We’ve already been dreaming and brainstorming about our next trip!
Plane tickets are tricky business. It used to be that the sooner you booked, the cheaper they were. The more and more I travel I am finding this to be false. Joe and I were able to get discounted airline tickets to China at a very reasonable price through a private connection we have. Typically, however, you can expect to pay approximately $2000 round trip for an international flight to any major city in China. To the best of my knowledge, you are also allowed one free checked bag on international flights. Once you arrive in China, domestic flights are reasonably priced. We flew from Shanghai to Guilin and spent about $150 per person for a one way ticket; this includes one free checked bag not exceeding 20 kilograms. To reserve and purchase these tickets, I simply googled “flights from Shanghai to Guilin”, clicked on one of the many travel sites, plugged in our travel dates, and found a list of departing flights, much like you would book a ticket online in the US. Checking in at the airport is also very similar and relatively easy, as everything is written in Chinese and English.
PACKING & LUGGAGE
Joe and I goofed up a bit here, but thankfully our travels weren’t affected by our luggage situation. My best advice in packing for an extended leisure trip would be to pack light! Make it a goal to carry everything you’ll need on your back in a large backpacking backpack. Also consider taking one small personal item such as a small backpack. It will come in handy for day trips and hiking. Being able to carry everything on your back allows you to move from place to place, city to city, hands free, very easily and quickly. The time of year you travel, the specific activities you’ll be doing, and so on will also determine if you need to pack additional items. For instance, Joe and I went to China primarily to rock climb and focus on photography, so we had to factor in our climbing gear and camera equipment. Opportunities to do laundry will vary. We did ours about once every week and a half and had no problems. It’s okay to smell a little while traveling internationally. 😉
With recent advances in technology, you can have as much or as little access as you want to the outside world. Because Joe and I own small businesses that are run online, we both decided to take our computers in order to manage our work load while abroad. Initially, we were concerned about taking two computers because of the extra weight, but in the end we are both very happy that we did. We had a lot of important business to take care of that could not have been done without two computers. Every hotel we stayed at offered free internet, although it was often only a LAN connection. Few places had WiFi available in the rooms, but most offered it in the lobby. We brought my cell phone along, but at $2.00 a minute through Verizon we opted only to use it in case of emergencies. If you are planning to stay more than a couple of months, I would suggest buying a pay-as-you-go phone through China Mobile. I don’t know much about pricing or coverage, but I have heard rumor that this is a good option. Another option for making phone calls is to use an online service called Skype. It costs 11 cents per minute and sounds just like a normal phone call. You can even use the video chat function of Skype free of charge as long as the person you are communicating with also has an account through Skype.
Part II coming next week…