But do we live as we learn??? Not always – but below is a few of our main rules (if they are followed) the traveling both easy and happy 😉
- Do not create a massive travel plan with a very detailed agenda. Knowing the dates you should leave or enter the country is probably good enough + any idea of what direction you want to go.
- Do not travel long hours (except your first and last flight – usually there is no choice) We think the travel time (on the road) should not be more than 4-6 hours.
- Do not pre-book your stay for too many days – 2 days is recommended, then you will have time to test the “sleeping quality” of your pick and if not good enough, you have one day for looking around for a better choice. It is always easier to negotiate a good deal when you don’t carry all you luggage
- Book in advance to get comfortable seats (but not so long in advance that it is in conflict with Do-not-plan….
So how do we manage, do we travel according to this????
# Rule No 1 – partly failure?
Starting this trip in Thailand with already a fixed destination 3 weeks ahead, as we would meet up with friends in Kho Chang are not according to our “do-not-create-a-fixed-travel-plan”. On the other hand, that fixed date and destination gave us our direction and starting out in Pattaya we had plenty of destination to stop at (or skip) before we should be at Kho Chang.
While being in Kho Chang I read an add in Bangkok Post about the yearly Elephant Festival in Surin – staring in a few days – and I really, really wanted to go. Kho Chang is Eastern part of Thailand, so is Surin, but there were no short cuts to get there. So in order to make it we had to brake all our travel rules.
Since then we have been pretty good in following rule #No 1 – except that we missed our departure date out of Thailand with 2 days. Our next destination has been chosen to be a place reached within 4-6 hours by bus, we have not had any “MUST-GO-TO” or any dates we need to be at a certain place.
# Rule No 2 – partly failure?
Going from Kho Chang to Surin made us break this rule several time. As we didn’t want to spend 12-15 hours on a direct bus (or more or less direct) we decided to go via Bangkok and then continue some days later by VIP bus or train. As we had difficulties finding out if any VIP buses left in day-time, we decided to go by train, but both our travel days (Kho Chang via Trat to Bangkok and Bangkok to Surin) really extended our recommended (total) travel time of 4-6 hours. For the rest of the time in Thailand we then managed to keep traveling time short(er).
In Vietnam we could not stick to our recommendation when going to Dalat. First of all we did not find any suitable destination half-way between HCMC to Dalat to spend a night or two at, train did not exist, flying seem unnecessary expensive so it has to be bus – even if we know beforehand that it means an 8 hours (which in reality probably could be more) long bus drive
Since then we have managed pretty well to not exceed the 6-hours-travel-time
# Rule No 3 – major failure?
Do not pre-book you stay too many nights, sounds so easy and still so easy to forget thanks to good booking systems like agoda. Starting our trip very well, a couple of nights booked on the place in Pattaya with high review score on agoda (needed a few extra days to sleep out the jet-leg). Since we liked the hotel (actually it was a one-bedroom studio) very much, we extended the stay several times, but only a few days at the time – all according to our rules (so far so good).
When entering Kho Chang we did not book anything, as we were unsure if we will go directly from Pattaya or spend one night in Trat, and it was low season, and therefore normally no big issue finding a place to stay. We found the place we had checked out, first night we had to take a small room in the annex building (smelled very much of smoke), even if we were promised a better room the day after we were not sure if it was worth staying. But sleeping quality was good as the place were very quite and the included breakfast was also good, we decided to stay. When our next room was one of the better, on a corner with hill top view – we quickly made a one week reservation, and after some days we extended it to additional weeks (but at the end we checked out earlier than planned due to our Surin destination) Still according to the rules – sleep a night or two to check out the sleeping quality before extending your reservation.
On our way to Surin we got 3-4 days in Bangkok – no reason to shop around for better hotel, so all days pre-booked, and in Surin – due to the festival – we had to pre-book in order to get any room at all.
And for the rest of our stay in Thailand – we pre-booked all our rooms for 4 to 7 days.
Moving on to Vietnam we started pre-booking 6 nights in HCMC – even thought we now by experience that you get the best deals by walking around. But we were arriving pretty late and wanted to be sure, but quite stupid of us to pre-book 6 nights (special since we did not find our hotel extremely fantastic). In Dalat we also pre-booked, 3 days (again a stupid number of days as we had decided to try to stay long time), we were arriving pretty late, and wanted to have an address for the bus company to drop us off. Our first choice was a disaster, but our next (found by walk-in) was a nice one.
Next destination Nha Trang, and we were arriving close to New Year – starting out with 2 nights of pre-booking (= very good) but as the hotel was fully booked after that we got slightly panic (asked around for a couple of hotels in the close neighbourhood and they were all fully booked the coming weeks as well) so when they received a cancellation we made an extra week reservation immediately (before trying out the sleeping quality). Again terrible experience – the hotel, location, room size and room interior was nice, but that doesn’t help when it is so noisy around you with only a couple of quiet hours during night.
# Rule No 4 – accomplished
Due to the fact that we almost have no dates we need to follow, we normally knows a few days before when it is time to move on, and since we are flexible we always close the date&time where we can be seated in front. If they do not have any good seat available for our chosen dates, we try the day after or we try at a different company – or in worst case we decide to go somewhere else.