Hygiene 101 – How Not to Reek

What is with people that have horrible hygiene? Seriously, it’s like 1 in 5 people staying in hostels have horrible BO. I can understand if you’ve been camping for two weeks straight, I would be worried if you didn’t stink after that. But if you are living in a hostel, there is absolutely no excuse for stinking the place up. I don’t like walking into a room only to turn right back around because you smell worse than my socks did after flying/travelling for 96 hours straight. I ended up burning those socks by the way. If people are avoiding you, making weird faces like they just walked out of a port-o-jon, or you have become the butt of jokes lately (get it? butt of jokes, haha.) then you may just stink.

Your Hygiene Sucks, Take a Shower You Filthy Hippie

Your Hygiene Sucks, Take a Shower You Filthy Hippie

It’s not that hard people, especially if you are staying in a modern hostel with running water. Shower daily or at least every other day. You will instantly become more popular and have friends again. Wash your damn clothes too and not in the sink. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen some cheap ass washing his clothes with just water in a sink. Use laundry detergent and the washing machines. We don’t live in the middle ages so there is absolutely not excuse for not doing your laundry. Wearing a shirt for two days is alright as long as you don’t stink it up. I realise you don’t want to plunk down $8 to do a load of laundry but the rest of us want you to.

Deodorant is also a must. Smell your arm pits once in a while, if your lunch comes up, it may be time to reapply or even take a shower. Wearing deodorant every day is a must, not just when you are working. For some reason a lot of people think they can get away without any just because they are sitting around doing nothing in the hostel all day. This is not the case regardless if you took a shower that morning or not, wear some damn deodorant. My nose and everyone elses will thank you. If hygiene isn’t “big” in your country, realise you are not in your country any more (I’m speaking to you France). The rest of us from the modern world would appreciate it if you were more hygienic.

Here are some helpful hints for the chronically smelly:

  • Bathe daily
  • Wash your damn clothes
  • Wash your damn sleeping bag/sheets/blankets
  • Wear deodorant. Can’t find the one you like? Phone home.
  • Stop eating nasty food. Food that smells like shit will make you smell like shit. Eat healthier.
  • Have a strenuous job? Shower after as well.

I don’t care how poor you are, there is never an excuse to smell. No one will give money or a job to someone that smells like shit. Clean yourself up, not only will you become more popular but you won’t be that guy everyone is always bitching about.

Avoid Getting Sick when Staying in a Hostel

Getting sick is never fun, especially when you are abroad. Every time I stayed at ChiliBlue in Sydney, I seemed to get sick, in fact, I was almost constantly sick when I was there. It sucked. I have a pretty good immune system, maybe get sick once a year (and when I did, it was bad). So I was obviously dumbfounded that I couldn’t shake the constant cough and phlegm in the back of my throat. I sounded like I had smoked for 50 years or something, it was awful. I wasn’t the only one either, everyone was sick and that probably didn’t help the situation. You would finally get over one spell only to be hit by a new bug. Ick.

The most obvious reason we all kept getting sick was because we all came from different parts of the world, plain and simple. We all had different strains of something and were constantly around each other so naturally, we caught what everyone else had. After a while, your immune system builds up a natural defence and I can only imagine how strong mine is now after a miserable two months. There are ways to mitigate catching something, most are common sense but by following these simple steps, you can avoid being sick all the time.

First, the best thing to do is actually get sick. This may seem counter intuitive but it’s just best to get it over with because you are going to get sick. Just accept it. With the sharing of drinks, mold, and goon pong, you are constantly swapping germs with people whether you realise it or not. It’s gross to think about but it’s also a fact of life. Even if you don’t do that stuff, you are going to still catch something. By getting sick initially, you will boost your immune system and it will be more able to fight any other sickness you may catch. So go swap some drinks with people and get it over with.

After you initially get sick, drink plenty of fluids and not goon. Alcohol just prolongs the problem so try and stick to water if at all possible, Look into taking vitamin supplements as well. Emergency-C is a life savor and definitely helps you get over any cold you may catch faster than trying to tough it out. How long you are sick is ultimately up to you so take a lesson from your mother and practice good hygine after your initial sickness.

Now ChiliBlue, it was much harder to get over a cold. The prime reason for this was the lack of hygiene. We didn’t have soap dispensers in the bathroom so obviously many people skipped washing their hands, especially if they were drinking. When something you are used to being there such as a soap dispenser is no longer there, it is very easy to forget to wash your hands. Invest in a hand sanitiser. This is extremely important after your first cold as it will help prevent future colds or at least in someway mitigate the severity.

What truly saved my ass was antibiotics. Lucky for me, my friend omitted was able to send me some and that is what finally got me over the last hurdle. If you do not have access to antibiotics or any friends that are on some, go see a doctor. Antibiotics are easily obtained through a prescription and are very inexpensive abroad. Remember, finish all of them otherwise you will compromise your immune system further and further antibiotic treatments may not be as effective.

To Sum It Up

  • Hand sanitiser is your friend when soap is unavailable
  • After initially getting sick, wash your hands and frequently
  • Drink plenty of fluids, not goon
  • Take a vitamin C supplement if possible
  • Avoid sharing the same cups or drinks with other people, even if they aren’t sick, you are most contagious right before symptoms appear.
  • Wash your clothes and bed sheets frequently
  • The advise your mother gave you when you were younger was good, follow it

Prepaid Credit Cards – Receiving Money Abroad

Prepaid credit cards are a godsend. Money is one of those unfortunate evils in today’s world; no matter where you are in the world, you will need money as it is near impossible to travel without anything but the clothes on your back. So what happens when your wallet runs dry or you get stuck in a pinch? You usually phone home for your parents or friends to send you money. Using Western Union is great and all but it’s very expensive, same thing with international wire transfers. Fortunately, there is a cheap way to get money no matter where you are and just as instantaneously as other ways.

Enter the age of the prepaid credit card, something I discovered is by far the best tool for accessing money if you avoid banks and actual credit cards. There are hundreds of different prepaid credit cards out there too for any need. The problem travelling abroad is many of these cards charge an international “discount” fee of 3%, some even more. If you are transferring even a few hundred, that can be a few meals or a nights accommodation. It’s best to save that money and use the American Express prepaid card www.americanexpress.com/prepaid. By far the best prepaid credit card out there.

The American Express prepaid credit card is one of the best deals out there, plain and simple. The only fee I ever incur is the $2 ATM fee, even when travelling abroad, and the first ATM withdrawal is free per month. All other transactions happen at wholesale exchange rates so you do not incur any “discount” fees that may be charged to you with other prepaid cards, your banks debit card or even a regular credit card. Pretty good right? That’s more money in your pocket.

With the American Express prepaid credit card, you can add money via direct deposit, transfer money via bank account or use the Green Dot Money Pak, my preferred method. With this method, anyone can walk into a retailer that sells the Money Pak with cash and add money to the Money Pak. You scratch off the code on the back of the money pak, go to the website or call the phone number, enter your prepaid credit card number, the number you scratched off and instantly, the money is available. It is important to note that each Green Dot Money Pak can cost $4.95 so if possible, use a free way of adding money such as a bank account or direct deposit. Some retailers may not have the money available immediately and there can be a 15-30 minute wait period. The plus to the Green Dot Money Pak way is that anyone can buy it and send you the code.

Now if you aren’t a fan of American Express, you can go with the Green Dot Prepaid Credit Card as well. American Express isn’t widely accepted abroad as Visa and MasterCard are so it is important to research your destination to see if you can use it or not. ATMs will always accept American Express so if that’s the primary reason of using the card, it’s best to go that route as the Green Dot prepaid credit card has many more fees. You can add more money to the Green Dot prepaid credit card the same way as the American Express one.

Each of these cards are free if you order them online. Green Dot prepaid credit cards are available at retailers but incur a $4.95 charge and are generic meaning they don’t have your name on it. It’s best just to order the prepaid credit cards directly from the websites. No credit check is necessary either, just enter the required information and you’ll receive your new prepaid credit card in about a week. Note that you need to have a United States address so if you are already outside the country, have it shipped to someone within the states and have them ship it out to you. Usually it’s best to get the card before you depart obviously.

As for non-US travellers, there are options out there for you too but I have not researched it extensively. However, the use of prepaid credit cards is growing and you just need to find the right one that fits your needs. Google as always is a good starting place to search. Be sure to compare different offers as each prepaid credit card will have it’s pros and cons. Get the one that will be cheapest for you and try to avoid prepaid credit cards that charge international “discount” fees.

Fighting Hostel Boredom, Keep Yourself Entertained

Boredom is your number one enemy as a backpacker, or at least a close second after thieves. Chances are at some point, you will be stuck in your hostel for an extended period of time, whether it be due to the lack of funds, being sick, no work or other. If you don’t have the proper coping mechanisms and a plan to keep entertained, it will feel like an eternity that you are stuck in the hostel. Everyone’s reasons will differ for being stuck in the hostel but in general, the following should apply to all. With the right plan and being prepared however, you can survive your extended downtime in the hostel.

The best way to stay entertained and fight boredom is to socialise with your fellow backpackers, plain and simple. Some people may find this more difficult than others and if you are one of those people that are used to sitting in a corner and waiting for people to come to you, it’s time to change your ways. Most travellers you will encounter are extremely friendly and probably are in the same place as you, fighting off boredom. So get up and talking to people. The best way to break the ice is to introduce yourself, ask where they are from and what they are doing. From there, just go with the flow and before you know it, you’ll have a new friend to help keep you entertained.

If making friends isn’t your forte or you are sick of people (and at some point this will happen), it is important to have a backup plan. I own a massive movie and TV series collection and for those times that I don’t feel like dealing with people or no one is around, I usually switch to that as my entertainment method. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a good movie/TV series collection on your computer or tablet to fight off boredom. I bought a Western Digital My Passport 1 TB Hard Drive that was self powered pretty cheap and compatible with my laptop and table which holds everything I need and I have a ton of room to spare. Before you leave home, I highly recommend you stock up on anything you may want to watch, love to watch or even think you may want to watch. It’s well worth it. How I Met Your Mother has kept me entertained for hours and after 3 months, I am just finishing season 7.

Starting a blog is also quite common I have noticed. Not only does it keep your mind occupied but you can record your journey as well for those who are missing out back home. There are many free sites on the internet that allow you to self publish your blog and even upload photos. I would highly recommend WordPress which also powers my website as well. I used to not be one for writing blogs and in a sense I still hate writing about myself, but I found helping my fellow backpackers gives me some incentive to write. Even if you don’t want to write about your travels, write about something. You’d be amazed at how quickly the time flies when you are writing.

Finally, explore. You are in a foreign land and it is easy to quickly forget that. Chances are there are a million free things to do no matter where you are that are extremely close to your hostel. Even if it is just for a few hours, go on a bush walk or explore the city, you don’t necessarily need to spend any money either. If you are unsure of where to visit, head down to your hostels reception as they will usually have ideas. Fortunate to have money? Do something you usually wouldn’t do back home, go bungee jumping, skydiving or learn to surf, the first two are expensive but you can get away cheap learning to surf via trial and error.

There’s always something that you can find to entertain yourself by, you just need to look in the right places. Obviously these are simple examples so use your imagination. Bounce ideas off your fellow backpackers or get a group together to go do things. This can be harder if you are in a non-party hostel but chances are, you will find people that want to go out (as for that group of Germans that stay together only speaking deutsche, infiltrate and break them apart, it’s easily done.). Fighting boredom can be accomplished, you just need a little motivation and creativity. In some cases, just do what you might do back home with your downtime.

How to Get a Free Flight Home – Deportation

Deportation is almost never good, you’re forced out of a country that you may not want to leave. Chances are if you are an expatriate you will overstay your visa at some point or another and face deportation. But deportation doesn’t have to be bad in every case, after all you do get a “free” flight home. That’s what this article is about, using deportation laws to your advantage. Sometimes you need to get home, for whatever reason, whether you’re completely broke or there is an emergency, deportation can be the quickest and least expensive way back.

Now deportation doesn’t come without it’s drawbacks. In almost all cases, you will get a deportation stamp in the back of your passport informing all other countries that you are a liability in some form or another. Some countries are extremely strict when it comes to this stamp, others not so much; either way it is not a good stamp to have. Not only that, the country you are deported from will have a mandatory ban on you until a certain time has elapsed and you pay back the government for any money they spent on you in addition to a hefty fine. Expect a bill for a couple thousand dollars (but if you don’t plan on going back, no need to pay). That being the case, you should only use deportation to your advantage as a last ditch effort and if you plan to never visit that country again.

Usually the easiest way to get deported from a country is to break the terms of your visa, which is relatively easy to do or just plain lie about it. My advice if you want out of a country quick, find out the terms and conditions of your visa, they usually have what you can’t do in them. If you’re on a tourist visa, that usually means no work. Simply go into the immigration department, make up a phoney story about how you broke your terms and conditions and you’ll be on your way home. Granted, they might be lenient on you and give you a free pass, you never know. I would recommend being as aggravating and irritating as possible, the exact opposite of how you would act if you wanted to stay in the country.

All immigration agents have the authority to revoke your visa at any time and if you press them hard enough, if you’re a big enough pain in the ass, you can have the ball rolling in no time. Keep in mind that once you have your visa revoked, you immediately become an illegal in that country. Chances are you will be given a chance to leave on your own free will. Again, just continue to agitate the immigrations officer, they will get to the point where they have had enough of you and place you under arrest. Unfortunately, you will probably need to make a complete ass of yourself. You will be detained for up to a week in an immigrations detention facility while the country prepares your flight and swift exit.

On the day of your scheduled departure, you will be escorted from the detention facility to the nearest international airport, my recommendation is if you plan on getting deported, report to an immigration office near the closest international airport to ensure a swift and speedy exit. No one wants to remain in immigration detention longer than needed. You’ll be processed out, get a deportation stamp, deportation orders that stipulate the costs associated with your removal and when you are eligible to re-enter the country, if ever. You’ll then be escorted to your departure gate and the officers will not leave until your plane has disembarked from the jet way. At this point, you are on your way home!

Obviously there are many ways to get deported from a country but this is by far the easiest and most “legal” way of doing it. If you break a law, you might be stuck in the country while you face criminal proceedings so I do not recommend going out and picking a fight with some guy on the street. It’s just best to get into a verbal argument with an immigration officer and make up a bullshit story. Keep in mind, you will be deported to your home country, you will not have a choice of where they send you. The only way you *may* have a choice is if you are a dual-citizen but even then, they usually send you back to the country that issued the passport you used to enter the country in the first place.

If you do decide to go this route, you will need to be rude and make a general ass out of yourself. You will be detained and it will not be pleasant but if you have no other alternative, then this might just be your best bet. By no means do I encourage you to purposely get yourself deported as there are serious ramifications so it should not be taken lightly. This is an absolute last ditch option and should be only used as such.

There are some instances where it might not be possible to be deported even if you are not a citizen. (Citizens can never be deported from them home country fyi so don’t bother trying if that’s the case and you’re looking for a free flight.) Such an example would be if you are a permanent resident. Permanent residents can lose their status after breaking certain laws and I do not recommend doing this ever. Usually the laws you need to break have stiff prison sentences so do not do that. Just scrape some money together to leave legally. Plus having permanent residency is great so why would you want to put that in jeopardy?

Getting yourself deported should not be taken lightly as there are serious ramifications. As an individual, you need to weigh your situation to see if it’s worth the trouble. Also check information out on the web before trying this for specific countries. Some of the less developed countries may make it a criminal offence (as in prison terms could be enforced against you) to violate your visa terms so always err on the safe side and check before lying (or telling the truth) to an immigration officer. If you’re in a “modern” country, you’re usually fine.

Safe travels and consider all options before enacting on something. NEVER do anything illegal that could jeopardise your freedom!