YQtravelling is back in business… Whatever business is

Hey folks,

Remember last year when I hadn’t been travelling much? Not really? Well, my bad since I didn’t write that much about it.

I’m happy to announce that I will be travelling more frequently in the coming months. Hurray!

Continue reading “YQtravelling is back in business… Whatever business is”

One major way video games helped me travel better

Scary video games

When I was growing up, I loved video games. I was envious of boys whose parents bought them game consoles. My dad didn’t believe in letting girls play video games.

To work my way around this, I played video games on the PC. My dad still complained but at least I had something to play with.

While in high school, I enjoyed playing Taiwanese RPGs (role paying games). Later on, I was obsessed with MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) with cutesy characters.

After I started work, I played a lot more video games on the PC thanks to my colleagues introducing me to Steam.

Playing for the story

Most of the time, the games I play don’t require a lot of skills. I usually cheat by checkout play-throughs. For me, the best part about video games is the story.

I mindlessly leveled up as I immersed myself in the virtual environment. It is really great being the hero and accomplishing all those feats without leaving my chair.

I didn’t realize how video games helped with travelling until some years ago. I discovered that video games had given me an indispensible skill for travelling:

I became good at reading maps and visualizing directions.

How video games helped build my sense of direction

How video games help me build my sense of direction

For me, the video games I played usually need my character to explore different locations. Sometimes there are maps for reference, such as this map system in Bioshock Infinite which is a favorite game of mine because of the storyline Other times, there would be fan-made maps for n00bs like me to use.

What is great about video games is that only only do you get to explore a location in-game, you can sometimes zoom out to see where you are in the bigger picture.

Through these virtual environment, I’ve also started visualizing space better. For example, if you ask me for directions to my house, my brain brings up a mental map (like in video games) and I can retrace my steps in this map and give good directions.

Of course, this skill doesn’t really work when I’m plonked down into a new city. Since there is no compass hanging on the upper right hand side of my vision (like in video games), I often end up in exactly the opposite direction of where I should go.

These days, I haven’t been playing video games much since my PC isn’t really made for the more advanced games. But still, I miss the days when I helped my in-game character fulfill his/her/its destiny and finish the story.

Read more about video games (and travel):

  1. Eleven-year-old tells benefits of video games on penelopetrunk.com
  2. Istanbul – The Assassin’s Creed Trail on thriftytraveller.wordpress.com

Why you should visit Natas travel fair

Singapore’s Natas travel fair is happening this coming weekend.

Surprisingly as an independent traveller, travel fairs are very useful.

Here is my post last year about my experience visiting Natas:

YQtravelling

I used to think that travel fairs are only for people who want to buy packaged tours. Personally, I do not like packaged tours because all activities are packed too tightly and I feel that I am shepherded around. But there are times when tours make sense.

Instead of continuing my bias about travel fairs, I visited the NATAS Travel Fair last year to see if travel fairs are useful for the independent traveller. Kind of surprisingly, my answer then was “yes” since the fair helped me with two out of three questions that I had about travelling.

This year, I visited the NATAS Travel Fair again but this time without any real goals.

Surprisingly, I found the visit even more exciting. Even though there were a lot of people, it was really fun seeing people getting exciting about travelling.

I wandered around the booths and spotted Travel Guard…

View original post 117 more words

I’m going to Melaka for a weekend trip [Weekend Traveller Series Part 9]

yq visits melaka

Welcome back to the fortnightly Weekend Traveller series where I share tips and strategies for travelling during the weekend so you can travel more using less work leave. You can find all of the previous posts for weekend end travel here.

Today’s post doesn’t have any travel planning tips. Instead, I want to share about my upcoming weekend travel. I will be going to Melaka for a 3-day trip next weekend.

Since my round-the-world trip, I’ve stopped most of my short-term (aka 2-day) trips because I do not have the budget and I already have too much free time.

However, my friend Debbie suggested that we take a trip overseas since she has an extra day of leave. We initially planned to head to Medan because of cheap plane tickets but there was volcano activity last month.

Check out the rest of the post…!

Why a weekend trip is the best time to start solo travelling [Weekend Traveller series part 8]

calendar_weekend_travel

Welcome back to the fortnightly Weekend Traveller series where I share tips and strategies for travelling during the weekend so you can travel more using less work leave. You can find all of the previous posts for weekend end travel here.

Today, I want to share why a weekend trip is the best time to travel solo.

solo travel selfie

After travelling around the world alone for 4 months, I have come to appreciate travelling with companions. That is, companions whom I can get along with on the road. There’s just something nice about being to share a moment with another person.

Check out the rest of the post…!

How to use Foursquare to plan a day’s travel [Weekend Traveller series part 7]

Plan a day's travel with Foursquare

Welcome back to the fortnightly Weekend Traveller series where I share tips and strategies for travelling during the weekend so you can travel more using less work leave. You can find all of the previous posts for weekend end travel here.

Today we will be learning how to use Foursquare to replace your guidebook.

foursquare for travel

In a previous post, I showed how to replace a travel guidebook with apps. Today, I will show you how you can replace your guidebook with Foursquare.

I am very in love with using Foursquare [Apple iOS | Google Android]for travel planning. The location-based services app tells you which places around you are popular and you can even refine your search to food, sights, nightlife and other details.

Check out the rest of the post…!

How to pack for a weekend trip [Weekend Traveller series part 6]

pack for the weekend

Welcome back to the fortnightly Weekend Traveller series where I share tips and strategies for travelling during the weekend so you can travel more using less work leave. You can find all of the previous posts for weekend end travel here.

Today, we will be thinking up a packing list for a 2-day trip.

Now that it’s almost time to leave for your trip, we need to start packing!

Packing for a weekend trip is very easy since you won’t need that much clothes. In fact, for one of my trips, I bought just my pajamas and washed my day clothes and wore them the next say after washing and drying them for the night.

overpacking

(Photo credit: Flickr–AlphaTangoBravo / Adam Baker)

Since all my weekend trips were in Southeast Asia, I don’t need a lot of thick clothing, besides a light sweater for the inevitable cold airplane/train/bus.

Here are some of the things you will need in your backpack for the weekend (besides all the basic underwear):

For city trips:

  • Fancy clothes for the night (not that I go out much at night)

For countryside trips:

  • Mosquito repellant
  • Walking shoes

Funnily, my list of electronics is much longer than my clothing list. For a weekend trip, I would bring:

  • Phone
  • Phone charger
  • Camera battery charger
  • Laptop and charger
  • E-book reader

Check out what others have to say about packing for the weekend:

how not to pack for weekend trip

What would you pack for a weekend trip?

Missed the previous weekend travel posts?

Part 1: Pros & cons of weekend travel
Part 2: Where to go for Weekend Travel?
Part 3: Choosing transportation for weekend travel
Part 4: Travel planning for weekend trips
Part 5: Make your own travel guide for a weekend trip
Part 6: How to pack for a weekend trip
Part 7: How to use Foursquare to plan a day’s travel
Part 8: Why a weekend trip is the best time to start solo travelling
Part 9: I’m going to Melaka for a weekend trip

How to make your own travel guide for a weekend trip [Weekend Traveller series part 5]

make your own travel guide

Welcome back to the fortnightly Weekend Traveller series where I share tips and strategies for travelling during the weekend so you can travel more using less work leave. You can find all of the previous posts for weekend end travel here.

Today, you will learn how to make your own travel guide sheets for the weekend end trip so you won’t need to bring a huge guidebook just for a 2-day journey,

Despite the abundance of travel information online, I still like reading guidebooks when I make travel plans. Guidebooks group information of sights and accommodation into areas, which helps you narrow down what to do and places to skip.

However, lugging a 1kg guidebook on a trip isn’t that fun. Plus, peering at a guidebook at the intersection of the road only makes you stand out as a tourist. That’s why it’s a lot more convenient to bring your own travel guide sheet which you can use as a reference while you traipse around.

To make your own guide sheet, you will need:

  • Word processing software such as Microsoft Word
  • Internet connection
  • Guidebooks
  • Travel tickets and hotel reservation information

My inspiration for the DIY weekend guidebook comes from Taiwanese budget travel expert 943.

Preparing the guidesheet

If you have narrowed down the places you want to see, it would make creating the guide sheet a lot easier.

What I like to include in my guide sheet are transportation information (How to get from the airport to the hotel), actual print screen of Google Maps (in case I don’t have internet connection when travelling), To-do lists etc.

This is how a completed guidesheet looks like:

sample travel guide weekend trip in bangkok

For multiple-day trips, I create one large table for each day. Then I list down the order of things I need/want to do.

Useful information to include in the guidesheet include:

  • Hotel address (In English as well as the local language–this helped when I was in Thailand.)
  • Tourist sites/things-to-do or eat (description of the place as well)
  • Address of places you want to visit (and directions to get there)
  • Google Maps screenshot of how to get to the location you want to visit

Most guidebooks have online versions so you can copy the description of the sight into your sheet directly instead of typing it.

Once everything is done, you can print the  guidesheet. I find that printing 2 pages of the guidesheet into one page and folding it in half it easier to hold.

UPDATE: Download a sample of the above guide sheet: Travel Guide Sheet sample from YQtravelling.com

What other information will you include in a guidesheet? Share them in the comments below:

Missed the previous weekend travel posts?

Part 1: Pros & cons of weekend travel
Part 2: Where to go for Weekend Travel?
Part 3: Choosing transportation for weekend travel
Part 4: Travel planning for weekend trips
Part 5: Make your own travel guide for a weekend trip
Part 6: How to pack for a weekend trip
Part 7: How to use Foursquare to plan a day’s travel
Part 8: Why a weekend trip is the best time to start solo travelling
Part 9: I’m going to Melaka for a weekend trip

Choosing transportation for Weekend Travel [Weekend Traveller series: Part 3]

where to go

Welcome to part 3 of the Weekend Traveller series, a fortnightly segment where I share tips and strategies for travelling during the weekend so you can travel more without using your work leave.

Last week, we talked about deciding which places to go for the weekend. Today, we will learn the pros and cons of different transportations for your weekend trip.

Planes are great for long distance travels
Planes are great for long distance travels

Plane

For long distances, planes are your best bet but the ticket prices can be quite expensive if you do not do a lot of planning. I usually buy my air tickets for budget airlines about 6 months in advance when there is a sale. I try not to buy full price tickets because it’s not worth the money.

Pros of planes for weekend travel:

  • Fast
  • Comfortable (compared to 6 hours of bus or train)
  • Not affected by traffic jam

Cons of planes for weekend travel:

  • Expensive ticket price [Solution: Buy tickets only during promo periods, do not buy luggage for budget flights.]
  • Terrible arrival/departure timings [Solution: Check other airlines or skip the destination]

Trains for weekend travel are usually bigger than this.

Train

If you have good train connections to the places you want to visit, taking the train might be a good option. I love taking night trains because I save on the cost of a night’s accommodation.

Pros of trains for weekend travel:

  • Relatively cheap prices (at least in Malaysia)
  • Not affected by traffic jams on the road
  • Trains with bunks==better sleep

Cons of trains for weekend travel:

  • Limited tickets for weekend travel [Solution: Buy your tickets in advance]
  • Shaky train, snoring passengers==not enough sleep [Solution: Sleeping pills? Deal with it.]

Night buses are not the most comfortable but they are cheap.

Night bus

I put night bus instead of I figure that you will need night buses for long distance travels.

Pros of buses for weekend travel:

Cheap

Cons of night buses for weekend travel:

Bad sleep [Solution: Even I cannot solve this. I just suck it up]

Affected by traffic jams [I was once 5 hours late because of a massive jam. Lesson learned: Take the train ]

Beware of pedestrians when driving

Driving

My mom and I had a mini road trip to the most northern part of Borneo island [LINK: Kudat Marina]. I would choose trains and buses over driving for a weekend trip because it’s more tiring. But if the place you are going to doesn’t have good

Pros of driving for weekend travel:

  • You have a car to drive around

Cons of driving for weekend travel:

  • Driving is quite tiring, especially for long hours

The deep blue sea awaits.

Boat

If you’re planning an island getaway for the weekend, taking a boat is probably your only choice so I won’t go into the pros and cons.

I haven’t been on any island trips for the weekend but the planning process should be the same: pick a nearby place and a good package so you don’t spend too much money.

Check out the rest of the series here:

Part 1: Pros & cons of weekend travel
Part 2: Where to go for Weekend Travel?
Part 3: Choosing transportation for weekend travel
Part 4: Travel planning for weekend trips
Part 5: Make your own travel guide for a weekend trip
Part 6: How to pack for a weekend trip
Part 7: How to use Foursquare to plan a day’s travel
Part 8: Why a weekend trip is the best time to start solo travelling
Part 9: I’m going to Melaka for a weekend trip

Where I’m off to next: China and Taiwan

china flag

Hello everyone! My 2-week break from blogging has just ended and I’m very excited to tell you about where I’m heading off to next.

china flag
china flag

On September 26, I’ll be flying to Hangzhou, China, where I will meet up with my friend Nicole. We’re spending a few days there before heading to Zhejiang for the wedding of our friend. After the wedding (and hopefully without a hangover), we will be going to Shanghai.

As it’s the National Day holidays in China then, I’m crossing all my fingers, toes and limbs that transportation will be smooth and we can get good hotel rooms at affordable rates.

After Shanghai, I’m flying to Taipei where I’ll be meeting my parents for a 10-day trip around the island. We’ll also be taking advantage of cheap tour groups organized by the Taiwanese government for overseas Chinese. Let’s hope we don’t fall into some strange loveboat tour. ;)

Do you live in either Hangzhou, Shanghai or Taiwan? Share your travel tips with me in the comments or on Facebook!

Where on earth is YQ?

Now, I’m back home in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Even though I’ve written about being homeless, I’ve come to realize that this place that I’ve lived in for a good 18 years of my life is really home–at least for now.

What have I been doing these few days? Besides helping out at my parents’ shops, I’ve been playing a bit of mahjong with my mom’s and working on the first draft of a Chinese travel memoir.

Wait… A memoir in Chinese? Yes, I working on a Chinese book first because my parents haven’t really been following my journey on my blog because English is not their main language.

Sad to say, I’ve only reached the end of Anuradhapura in my draft and that’s the first 10 days of the trip! I need to find out a way to be stop being so long winded.

I’ll be heading back to Singapore at the end of October to look for a “real job”.  If you know any company that’s looking for a travel and writing-loving person, ping me a note here in the comments or drop me an e-mail [yqtravelling AT gmail.com]. Thanks!

Safe travels,

YQ