Well, it has been an old idea circulating within the Agro-Know team: to use our experience from travelling frequently and create short guides for the cities that we visit. We tend to travel a lot as a team, in the context of the projects that we participate in as well as other events and for each trip, each one of us collects information regarding his/her trip that could be easily shared with others. These guides should be as simple as possible and include only basic, practical information, such as:
– What are the options for getting to the city from the airport?
– Where can I get a ticket for the bus/train from the aiport, how much does it cost and how do I validate it?
– Will I need an adapter for my electronic devices? Is the tap water safe to drink?
– Information on the hotels that we have already booked and stayed; were we pleased in the end?
– What to eat (local specialities /dishes) & where?
Of course this information exists out there and is usually easy to get; however, we are all busy people and duplicating the effort needed for the preparation of a trip seems like a luxury as time is never enough. This was exactly the reason that none of us managed to create a single guide as planned; there was not enough time after the trip to compile this kind of information. The best thing that we could do was to share some printed maps we got from the hotels we stayed in or some useful city brochures, but that’s not enough for planning the next trip to the same city.
In this context, and in an effort to bring up this forgotten idea, we plan to publish a series of blog posts with travel trips to the cities that we visit. These posts will focus on the steps needed in order for someone to reach (usually) the city center from the airport and provide some tips on the practicalities that will make a trip easier and more enjoyable, highlighting the specificities of each trip/city/country. Our experiences from the trips described will also aim to help everyone survive through their way forth and back home.
From our experience, some of the basic tips for a convenient trip, regardless the destination, are the following:
- Check the available options for reaching your hotel from the airport of your destination; do your homework when you have time back in the office and don’t expect to find your way after you reach the airport…this will save you time, frustration and effort. Taxis are the most convenient mean of transportation but sometimes they cost a lot!
- Travel light; carry as less as you can and pack smartly.
- Check the weather at your destination in advance; this may be significantly different than the weather at home and will allow you to pack all appropriate clothes and accessories (e.g. umbrellas, jackets, sandals, even shorts).
- Check the power outlets used in the destination country (and buy any adapters needed) and if the tap water is safe to drink. You can check the type of plugs used in the country of destination in various websites, such as the “Power Plugs and Power Sockets of the World“.
- If you need to exchange currency, be prepared for that and make an estimation of your expenses in advance. Banks and currency exchange vendors usually add some commission per transaction while the exchange rate may be significantly vary; we use the XE.com service for a draft estimation of the rate.
- Make a schedule about things that can be done during the flight (e.g. revise a presentation, read a book/report, prepare responses to pending emails), and if there is a connecting flight check of there is free wifi at the airport. This will allow you to send any emails you have prepared during the flight, download new ones etc., saving you time during the days of your trip.
- Download and print all necessary material in advance: boarding passes, hotel vouchers, tickets, maps/routes, transportation information etc. Having copies in your smartphone or tablet is ok, as long as they are charged. There’s no need to search for such information at the last minute.
- Be aware of differences in practicalities, such as where to buy bus/tram/train tickets, if automatic ticket machines accept cards, how to validate your ticket.
- If you have some free time during your stay at your destination, plan some activities like sightseeing, visits to museums etc. Spending free time in the hotel room might be depressing!
- Prepare your trip back home on time: Check in as early as possible (web check in), estimate the time needed for reaching the airport, check transportation options etc.
We really hope that you will find the series useful and that several people will contribute to this effort! In this context, everyone is invited to share any experiences (good or bad) from past trips as comments to this post and of course to publish them as individual posts in the AK blog; just ask for an account because guest posts are more than welcome here!