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

Tips on taking train from Singapore to Malaysia

malaysia train ticket

UPDATE [JANUARY 2015] KTM STAFF TOLD ME THAT THE NIGHT TRAINS ARE STILL RUNNING. HOWEVER, THEY REFUSED TO BELIEVE ME WHEN I TOLD THEM I CANNOT BUY THE TICKETS ON LINE. KTM CUSTOMER SERVICE IS HORRIBLE. TSK TSK.

THE SELECTION APPEARS ON THE WEBSITE BUT SEATS CANNOT BE CHOSEN. LET’S ASSUME IT’S CANCELLED, UNLESS SOMEONE CALLS KTM TO CONFIRM.

Update [March 23, 2013] Check out the FAQ too

I went on the overnight train to Kuala Lumpur last weekend and it was really fun–the train ride and the trip. For those who have been wondering how to take the old rail train to Malaysia, here are some money saving tips that you can use to save on the train trip from Singapore to Malaysia. My guide will focus on buying tickets online.

1. Leave from JB Sentral instead of Woodlands, Singapore

Actually, you can stop reading from here because this is the best tip I have. As noted in my previous post announcing my trip, you will save half the amount if you leave from Malaysia instead of Singapore.

Based on the 2nd class sleeper ticket, I

Since the Singapore and Malaysia train stations are just a causeway away, it really makes more sense to travel to JB Sentral on public bus and board there. Plus, the KFC at JB Sentral is 24-hours, eat all the fried chicken you want!

If you really want to leave from Singapore (so you can skip the torturous bus ride across the causeway), I’d suggest you buy a cheap seat (about S$17) from Woodlands CIQ-JB Sentral. When the train reaches JB Sentral, you can hop off and go to your carriage. (The ticket checking for the JB passage starts when the train moves.)

2. But come back to Woodlands not JB

Am I confusing you? Yes, you leave from JB but come back to Woodlands. Why? The ticket from Malaysia to Singapore is in RM so it’ll still be cheap. You’ll also skip the horrible traffic jam on the causeway, especially if it’s commuting hours.

3. Choosing where to buy tickets

Back to ticket buying, I’ll assume that you are based in Singapore. Buy the ticket online instead of heading to JB Sentral’s ticketing counter. Plus, you’ll be charged in Singapore dollars if you buy directly at Woodlands.

My guide here will focus on buying online. KTMB’s Web site is a bit old school–it even has frames. But it gets it job done.

First check the timetable to figure out which train to catch. I picked the 23.55 train from JB because it arrives at 06.30 in KL. Saves me travelling time during the day. Then sign up for an account to book your tickets.

4. Selecting the tickets online

This part is slightly confusing because of KTMB’s naming convention:

  • JB Sentral=Johor Bahru train station
  • Sentral Kuala Lumpur=KL Sentral
  • Woodlands CIQ=Woodlands station

Pick the timing that you want to leave. Then you choose the type of sleeper/seat you want. I’d recommend the sleepers for overnighting to KL. There are 5 types of seats/sleeper.

  • ADMFB: Air-conditioned Day Night First-class Berth
  • ADNFD: Air-conditioned Day Night First-class Deluxe
  • ADNS: Air-conditioned Day Night Sleeper
  • AFC: Air-conditioned First Class
  • ASC: Air-conditioned Second Class

I’ve only been on ADNS’s upper bunk. It was quite a pleasant ride/sleep, minus the shaking and snoring man.

I was on the upper bunk

The page says you will need to key in passengers’ names and identificaiton number. They never checked mine against the ticket so if you are in a hurry, I think you can just put fake names/ID number.

5. Payment and proof

Pay using a regular credit/debit card to buy the tickets.

They will not send you a proof of confirmation, so remember to save the page. I usually save my Web pages in PDF form so it prints out nicer. I use PDF Creator which shows up as a virtual printer in my Print tool. (Don’t click the toolbar when installing).

Ticket!

Printing out the ticket is necessary. DO NOT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT.

6. Things to bring on train

Waiting for the trip to arrive is the hardest step. Here’s something you need to know about the trip: There is no food and drink station onboard so bring your own munchies and liquids.

Attention! During my trip in October, I found out that KTMB stopped providing blankets. Please bring something warm for the ride, it gets really cold.

Safety pins to pin your sleeping curtain will be very helpful. I found myself peering into curtains on my way back from the loo. Not much privacy for whoever was in it.

The only bus that seems to be on duty around 23.00 is the SBS and SMRT buses. So there is not much choice in the bus leaving Singapore to JB. Oh, the train might break down, like it did on my trip. Just sit/sleep through it with a smile.

BONUS! JB Sentral map

Many have been asking me about how to get to JB’s train station. I’ve used Google Map to show you that it’s really really easy to reach JB Sentral (where the station is). Map of JB Sentral, train station

Update [March 23, 2013] Check out the FAQ

Update [December 24, 2013] Comments are now closed.

Skip JR Pass, take long distance night bus

During my first trip to Japan in 2008, I bought a 7-Day Japan Rail Pass–JR Pass which currently costs 28,300 yen/US$ 367.90–and took the Shinkansen from Fukuoka to Tokyo, stopping in the Kansai region for sightseeing.

While the Shinkansen was speedy and comfortable, I decided not to buy the JR Pass during my last trip to Japan in October for four reasons

  1. JR Pass is really expensive even for one person, imagine splurging for two.
  2. We were in Japan for a 10-day trip and the JR Pass came in only 7-Day, 14-Day and 21-Day form so it wasn’t economically wise.
  3. We only planned to visit the Kansai region. If we were travelling a lot farther, I might have gotten the JR Pass or flew.
  4. By travelling by bus at night, I could save on accomodation but still get to my destination. My cheapest accomodation during the trip was my Tokyo stay at 5,300yen a night while Kyoto’s was 7,980 yen.