Travel Tips 101

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” -Agustine of Hippo

 

Once I was an unplanned traveler, but never again. As I’m becoming more and more of a frequent flyer, whether it’s for business or vacation, here are my essentials.

 

Preparing

  1. Know about the city. It doesn’t hurt to read a bit on the nuances, mannerisms, and do’s-don’ts of the place you are about to go to, especially if the culture is very different than what you are accustomed to. Also, watching the local news of that city is helpful.
  2. Check out the surrounding area of the place you would be staying at. Trust me, Google Maps will be your best friend.
  3. Keep a small journal to jot down small details about anything from currency exchange rates to the weather report, power outlet types, emergency contact numbers, etc.

 

Packing

  1. Make a list of the outfits you plan to wear. I also like to pack an extra spare outfit.
  2. Travel kits are always handy.
  3. Basic first-aid kit is a must, because accidents can happen.
  4. Keep a spare padlock and a universal power adapter in your carry-on luggage.
  5. If you are carrying cash, it’s better to distribute it in different bags as smaller amounts.
  6. If you are carrying a card, have a spare with you, in case it gets denied.
  7. Makeup essentials, a tiny perfume bottle, and facial wipes, to freshen up upon landing.
  8. Make sure you have all documents, passport, etc. and carry extra copies of them as well.
  9. I usually throw-in a book, because you never know what movies they have on the flight.

 

Upon Arriving

  1. Keep few hours spare on your first day upon arriving. Get to know the people and the area. For example, if the people have dinner by 7 pm, it is likely that most diners would be closed by 9 pm. Change your itinerary accordingly. If you are there for business purposes, keep margin for traffic, it wouldn’t be nice to arrive late.
  2. Also, find out about cheaper modes of transport. When travelling in a taxi, Uber, etc, check on the child-lock prior to sitting in the car.
  3. Deposit your important documents in a safety-box (if the hotel has provided it), and lock your luggage whenever you leave the room.

 


That’s it for my essentials (for the time being, I’ll add to it if more come to mind.)

Special thanks to Ahmed, Suaad, and Leena for contributing to this post.

 

Photo Credit: Visual Hunt .com

 

🙂 FTK

Frappuccino a Day, to Keep the Sleep Away

I usually drink coffee twice a day, but during exams or during other time-pressure, that number usually doubles. So, one day, on my way to the nearest branch of Starbucks**, I decided I’d try a new flavor of their Frappuccino® Blended Beverages everyday for a week, and I was able to study at night without falling asleep.

The full menu is here.

Here are the ones I’ve tried at least once, ranked from my most favorite to least:

  1. Coffee Frappuccino® Blended Coffee: This is my to-go order, and my most favorite to-date. (Nothing better than good ol’ traditional Frap.)
  2. Peppermint Mocha Light Frappuccino® Blended Beverage: I’d say this was my second fav. (It’s mint-choco, how can you not like it, add to it coffee – why hadn’t I tried it before!)
  3. Java Chip Frappuccino® Blended Coffee: Drink this if you are craving a LOT of chocolate.
  4. Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino® Blended Beverage: I just had to try it, and I was not disappointed, but I probably ordered it one or two more times only.
  5. Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino® Blended Beverage: Yum! Though, I didn’t eat anything for 6 hours after drinking this though, it felt like I’ve eaten a meal.
  6. Mocha Frappuccino® Blended Coffee: A bit too chocolaty for me.
  7. Green Tea Crème Frappuccino® Blended Crème: Not a big fan, and honestly I can’t recall the taste.

 

As for the service, I went to a total of 4 different Starbucks outlets surrounding my block, while the service was great, the baristas seemed unsure at first and confirmed the recipe (for the Peppermint Mocha and Green Tea Creme) with another barista before preparing my drink.

 

**This is not a sponsored post, it’s just me sharing my love for coffee.

 

Photo Credit: VisualHunt.com

🙂 FTK

My Year in Review: 2017

I don’t usually do New Year’s Resolutions, but I did want to achieve several personal goals for myself in 2017. While, some goals were achieved and some not, this year had been another roller coaster ride all in all, (although nothing can be compared to the roller coaster of the past year when I kept hopping from US to home and back, meanwhile juggling work and studies).


Lessons Learnt

  • Block the negativity: I would take any action, comment, etc. too personally, even if it wasn’t directed towards me. That would keep me irritated half the time, and the other half would be spent in self-deprecation.  But, then I thought, why the heck do I do this to myself, and started to let-go. And, it became easier with time.
  • Mental Health is important: I overthink almost by default, but that doesn’t help me. I end-up with headaches and sleep-less nights. I stress over something so much that I’m not able to use my head in anything else. To reduce my overthinking-induced-anxiety, I started writing down what bothered me, and prioritizing the issues and then finding a solution to it, wherever applicable. I also tried Mindfulness to sort through my loud thoughts.
  • People change as times change:  Obvious, yes. For me, it was the notion of accepting that change in others and supporting them, and with that, I also changed (hopefully for the better).
  • Live in the moment: As I’m growing older, I can’t help but notice that years are flying by. While I’m trying to prepare and plan my future goals, I’m thrown off-track by the uncertainty of it all. So I stopped fretting over it, instead, I do what I think is right, and well, just go with the flow (but control the general direction of it).
  • Try new things: So, one day you won’t say “I wish I had–” or “I always wanted to–“. Instead say, “I wanted to– and so I did.”

 

Going Forward

I would like to:

  • Motivate others.
  • Think more positively.
  • Evolve as a better person.
  • Tick of more bucket-list items.
  • Care less about the things that matter less.

 


So, here’s to another year of laughter and dreams, Happy New Year to All!

🙂 FTK

How to Get More Reading Done

With every passing month’s new releases, and with every new author you’ve discovered, your TBR (to-be-read) Pile never seems to lessen, when even more books are added on top of it.

I’ve been participating in Goodreads Annual Reading Challenge for 2 years now, (2016 & 2017). Both years (hopefully 2017 included) I’ve surpassed the number of books I thought I’d read for that year.

To start of with, I don’t go for the outrageous number of pledging 120 books for that year. I know its a “challenge”, but I like my goals to be S.M.A.R.T. (Just Google it)

I have an estimate of how many books I’ll be buying – well, planning to buy, in the year. Meanwhile, all my past hauls have lead to my bookshelf having 50% TBR books. [My Kindle Library is more of 90% TBR]. I make a point to finish at least one book per month. Adding the books I’m planning to buy, plus the books that are top of my TBR. Then rounding it – I end up with around +/- 20 books as my personal ‘challenge’ for that year.

 

So how to exceed that and get more reading done:

  1. Read more than one book. On average I read 3-4 books during the same time.
  2. Have books on various platforms. I have my paperbacks, Kindle, and epub reader app on my phone.
  3. Carry your book every where. During commute, or while eating lunch, or even at your work. These little breaks can give you a lead in your challenge, and having it various platforms will help as well. Heck, you can even get comfy and all tucked in your bed, and get your Kindle out, read until it falls over your sleeping face. (Been there, Done that)

The next two suggestions are from EpicReads via their Youtube Channel. I’ve yet to try it out myself.

  1. I’m not a fan of Audible Books, but it can seriously get some ‘reading’ done, by just how convenient it is. And if you increase the speed of narration, Bam! you are getting through that TBR-pile at the speed-of-sound! (ok bad joke)
  2. Commit a certain time for reading. We all are busy people, but one has to make time for reading. As a way to relax yourself after a hectic day, carve out little time – 20 minutes – to just get a mug of coffee/tea and a good book.

 

However, there comes that time when you hit a reading slump and nothing really catches your attention.

I prefer to give a short break, and let is run its course. but when it stretches over, I pick out a book that I’ve already read and thoroughly enjoyed. Re-reading books reminds me of the love I have for reading and the relaxation I get from it.  By the time I finish re-reading, I’m luckily out of my slump and can get back to picking a new book. (Yay!)

 

Lemme know how you get more reading done, and don’t let the slump get you in a dump. (ok seriously no more jokes)

 

Happy Reading!

 

🙂 FTK

Socialize like an Ambivert

I used to stress out every time there would be a gathering at my place, or whenever a group of friends’ friends organized a massive BBQ and everyone was going.

The thing was, I realized, I didn’t have to go. Sure, my friends were going to be there, but I can easily excuse myself earlier and all would be well.

I forgot to mention, I used to have social anxiety, which made me miserable around people.

 

As an ambivert (part introvert and part extrovert), while I didn’t mind social events, I just as same didn’t mind being by myself. So that left me on neutral grounds. Most of my decisions were then deflected to these questions:

‘Who else is going to be there?’ and

‘Do I really have the time to go there?’ and

‘Do I have something to wear for this event?’

Once I had the answers, it made it easier to schedule my time and work around with what I had left to finish of my pending chores.


So how to Party like an Ambivert?:

  1. You know who your friends are. And you also know which of those friends you are most comfortable with. It’s highly likely that they will be similar to you in terms of personality. Hanging out with them during social events, will give a sense of security to your introvert-side, while your extrovert-side still has fun.
  2. You don’t have to go to each and every single party or Happy-Hour you are invited to. Pick out the places that you like to visit or is convenient for you. This way, it’s easier when you need some quiet-time from all the socializing. But hey, if you want to be a party-animal; by all means, who’s stopping you.

But what to do when you are at a work-related event?

How to Network like an Ambivert?

  1. For a Seminar or conference, you might be able to find out who is attending. Look them up and connect with them via online platforms beforehand, then re-introduce yourself at the event.
  2. Observe the audience. You are not the only one who doesn’t know anyone or is feeling out of place. Narrow down to couple of people you might be interested in talking to, they might be of the same industry or might have mutual connection with you.
  3. Small talk is ugh, probably avoidable, because it may make you awkward. Instead start with some industry news you read recently, or better yet, discuss the topic of the event itself.
  4. Don’t push yourself, you don’t have to meet everyone. Quality over quantity.

 

Hope this helps! Happy Partying!

 

🙂 FTK

Photo via Visual Hunt .com