5 days in Auckland living with locals: A 2nd visit


Greg is a modern World Explorer, Film-maker, Mobile & Google friendly Website producer, & Entrepreneur at the intersection of travel and technology. He has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store in 2012. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom. His 4 month 2013 journey took him to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

in Auckland living with locals
The Te Atatu Peninsula waterfront enjoys a breath taking view of Aucklands skyline

Return to Auckland – A rough start

I made the mistake during my 13 day 2011 New Zealand trip of not visiting Australia while I was in this part of the world. I learned from my mistake and scheduled a 5 day trip to Auckland, New Zealand, which is about a 3-4 hour flight from Sydney Australia. In this part of the world you may find that Jetstar airlines has the cheapest flights within Australia and New Zealand. Unfortunately they are stingy with their baggage allowance, they loose luggage, and sometimes your flight schedule is limited to early morning 6am or late night 11pm flights. On this flight Jetstar lost my checked luggage and it was past midnight in Auckland. Auckland is very much a car city especially if you want to get out of the city and see some of the natural sights that New Zealand has to offer. I made it past customs just in time to purchase a 3g sim card for my iphone from telecom nz for $25. I think it covered 500mb, but it was sufficient for my data research, email, and google map gps needs. My host suggested Apex car rentals, which ended up being cheaper than options going through kayak. My iphone batteries ran out and I was forced to take a picture of the google map directions on my ipad before it died. I made it to the property around 3:20am.

tip: if you are using your smartphone for google map gps be sure to bring a phone charger for the car

tip: give yourself some time to get used to driving on the left hand side and the controls

5 days in Auckland
The auckland gps trail for this trip

 

Want more Auckland coverage of the North and South Island?

I’ve recently released an E-book on my entire 23 day experience in New Zealand on the Amazon Kindle store

Check it out by clicking the image

new zealand book
Book cover for the ebook documenting my 23 day travel adventure
Next Stop: Melbourne, Australia: The most livable city in the world?

 

 

 

22 days living like a local in Sydney: The journey begins

By Greg Hung Aug 27 2013

updated May 7 2014


Greg is a modern World Explorer, Film-maker, Mobile & Google friendly Website producer,  & Entrepreneur at the intersection of travel and technology. He has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube videos in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store in 2012. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom. His 4 month 2013  journey took him to Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur

22 days living like a local in Sydney: The journey begins

A several months of planning, anticipation and talking about Australia it was now actually going to happen.

The first order of business was to get set up on a cell phone sim card for a local number in Australia with internet access. I ended up selecting a sim card provided by Yes Optus for $30 for 30 days of high speed access on a 3G network, which is fast enough for youtube, google maps, facebook, and surfing the internet. Vodaphone is a familiar name, but even the employees said that their coverage would be poor in some of the other Australia cities I was going to.

As I have basically sold all my major possessions and savings to make this trip Ive been more frugal than I normally am. As such I’ve been avoiding some luxuries such as cabs and limiting expensive dining out. It takes discipline after having enjoyed these comforts already while working at a good full-time job.

Sydney public transport and helpful Australia

I hate transfers from airport to your place of accommodation in most destinations. If I had the resources I would make this experience better. You should be able to get off the plane and after customs walk directly to your transportation that will take you where you are staying. It’s not rocket science. Back to Sydney so I missed the Eastern shuttle from the airport to Bondi beach area, and now I had my first experience with the Sydney public transportation system. Compared to Singapore, Taipei, and Vancouver I found the system confusing. Many square grids and colored lines and many interconnecting trains with dangerous gaps between the train and the platform. I was surprised that the train itself wasn’t exactly in tip top condition.

On the bright side I had a working cell phone and an Airbnb host to guide me as well as some friendly Australian locals. I asked a local girl at Bondi junction which bus I needed to take and she escorted me right to my bus and helped me with my luggage. I can tell you 18 days into my trip that local Sydney Australians are probably among the most friendly and helpful people that I’ve met. As a Canadian I have taken this friendliness for granted.

The Bondi Crib

living like a local in sydney
The Bondi Crib – A surfing themed cave with custom sandstone work with full kitchen, wifi, and local coffee shop across the street

As I monitored the blue dot on my Google maps I arrived at the stop at Dorcas street. My host John introduced me to the apartment and the area. This was my first private apartment suite from Airbnb. The spot was an original with the custom sandstone and surf inspired theme. The apartment had everything I needed from wifi, full kitchen, condiments, couch, ping pong table, and washer and dryer. John even provided wetsuit, surf and snorkel gear, which is a value add in my books. This would be a perfect space for a couple of people to enjoy a Bondi surfing retreat for a week.

Shocking prices

living like a local in sydney
a sample menu of the opera bar drink list. See if you can read it

As soon as I unpacked I made a stop to the local owned Chinese grocery store. I picked up some pasta, some veggies, pasta sauce, milk, and a small bread and the bill came to almost $30. I use a small cup of coffee  from Starbucks as a baseline between prices in Vancouver and Sydney. A small coffee in Vancouver goes for about $2. A small coffee at a Sydney Starbucks is $5!, but if you find a local spot (which most are better) the cheapest you will find is $3.50. Good cheap food will go for $10-13. Now I really appreciate the good prices we have in Vancouver. If I was going to survive 2 months Australia I was going to have to be in super frugal mode.  This meant shopping for local groceries, taking public transport, and basically questioning every expenditure while still trying to have a decent time. Sounds challenging?  Well I was still able to enjoy a local Australian Porterhouse  steak dinner by getting two steak cuts for about $8-9 by picking it up from Woolworths (where the locals shop for good priced quality groceries).

living like a local in sydney
Enjoying a good steak and not breaking the bank in Sydney

The Bondi lifestyle

living like a local in sydney
Bondi beach lives up to the hype

Bondi is well regarded by locals and from what I’ve read one of the most popular beaches in the world. I will vouch for that. I have seen some of the better beaches in the world from Turks and Caicos, Cancun, Maui and Honolulu. In my opinion Bondi is one of the best beaches because the sand is nice, it is large and spacious (unlike Honolulu), offers free Wifi, is clean, relatively clear water, and it has real waves. Big waves. There is a strong surfing culture. There were large groups of surfers in wetsuits riding waves and even chatted to a couple in the water. I bumped into several on my walk to the beach on their way out or on the way back. You don’t have to go that far out from the beach to catch some good waves. The north side of Bondi has tamer waves that are more beginner friendly while the side closer to Bondi Iceberg is closer to the rocks in the picture with rougher.  The waves are very powerful and it’s hard to get far from the shore. I didn’t find this at Honolulu.

tip: use a longer board. 7 foot or longer if you are a beginner. wear a wetsuit as salt water will burn against your stomach and the board.

Bondi is among several other beaches along a seawall path that leads to other beaches such as Bronte, and Tamamara. Each beach has it’s own vibe and characteristics. The locals here come out to walk,tan or jog along this path and at Bondi beach as part of their daily lifestlyle.

There are plenty of shops in the town of Bondi to have a drink and eat. I walked into town on a weekend night in Bondi to get a feel for the nightlife. It felt like a different vibe during the day with a lot of wild young people spilling outside of bars and young people loitering on the street. I enjoy my nightlife, but for some reason this didn’t feel like my scene or that welcoming.

I read much about Bondi Iceberg and felt that I had to at least check it out while I was staying in the area. The camera operator that I hired told me that the Bondi Iceberg club was a bit snooty and I had to arrange a filming with them beforehand. Later during my stay I came there for a drink and found that it was not pretentious as I thought it would be. They just asked for my drivers license and you’re free to order a drink and enjoy it on the patio along with some of the views of Bondi beach. In fact the prices of their beer and wine are very good. I sampled some other spots in Bondi like the Bucketlist bar for a beer and the surf shop for a deep fried Mars Bar. The Bondi Iceberg pool is something I didn’t try. It is not heated and I think the appeal of it for the locals is the heritage and the branding associated with the club.

There are many well located waterfront properties along the beach. I would love to have a vacation home here with the proximity to a world class beach, good year round weather, and it’s just about 25 minutes away from the Sydney CBD. to top it off there are many great adjacent beaches if you walk along the beach path known as the coastal walk.

Celebrating my birthday in the Sydney CBD

I found an excellent and attractive masseuse at Bondi iceberg, and treated myself to one with her to start out my birthday in Sydney. My masseuse had suggested checking out Watsons Bay. I made a mental note. Sydney is a huge area. Good thing my next Airbnb host offered to pick me up from my place at Bondi. I based myself in the neighborhood of Surrey Hills using Airbnb, a good neighborhood located a short 10 minutes walk to the CBD area. I started by exploring on foot to get familiar with the streets and my surroundings. I started by doing some grocery shopping at the local IGA. I had never once experienced a birthday in a city where I knew just about no one. I felt that I had to at least have a drink and attempt to make some friends. I quickly search the meetup site and found an informal entrepreneur event where beers were allowed. I walked and navigated myself using Google maps and asking people directions. At the event I had a good chat, drank some beer, and exchanged some business cards. Like some meetups in Vancouver this one felt like a superficial crowd and didn’t feel like I made many genuine connections with exception with one couple from New Zealand. I reached a point where I was ready to leave and try to see Iron Man 3 by myself. I found the main movie theater on George street and was not allowed in the movie theater because I brought my SLR camera. I decided not to risk leaving it with their office and sadly headed home.

living like a local in sydney
Celebrating my 35th birthday at a Thai restaurant with a new friend in Sydney

I walked down Elizabeth street checking out the various asian restaurants. The Mcdonalds cheeseburger meal wasn’t going to suffice as dinner after all it was my birthday. I was reading the menu of a Thai restaurant when I bumped into the New Zealand couple from the meetup that were doing their Avatar conference just up the road. They kindly offered to invite me for dinner at this restaurant. We had a good conversation and the couple suggested that I visit an area called New Town while in Sydney. Funny how things worked out that night. There are some good people in this world. I hope you’re reading this. Thank you.

Tip: It’s a good idea to get familiar with your local area on foot or on bike.

Surrey Hills & the Nightlife

living like a local in sydney
A taste of the Friday night Sydney nightlife in the Surrey Hills district H-Bar

Located just south of the main attractions Surrey Hills is a suburb lined with character homes with unique second floor terraces and cafe’s. It is a safe neighborhood during the day, but at night especially during the weekend I found much of the nightlife crowd makes their way through this area during the weekend. I did reserve a Friday night to sample some nightlife just a 4 minute walk away from my place. First stop was the H bar, which appeared to be a happening spot for a drink on a Friday. I snagged the only seat available on the outside bar for a sparking champagne. To figure out my next stop I asked the bar tender who suggested the wild rover and the Playbar just a minute away. Next stop was the Playbar. A bouncer guarded the door, but as I approached he greeted me and let me in. There was a good vibe in this place, with a live dj,  and some benches to sit. I grabbed a quick drink and took some footage before moving onto the Wild Rover.

The Wild Rover looked intimidating from the outside. A darkly lit building with people coming in and out guarded by a bouncer. As I walked closer I mentioned I was referred here by H bar to come have drink and was let in. This place was a controlled chaos. Limited seating with some table and seats by the bar with the majority of the space standing room only. Bar tenders dressed in smart outfits and with the crowd appearing to have a good time socializing with their group. Not the most solo friendly space but an interesting spot to check out on both floors and have a good beer. I ended the night by walking 5 minutes down Campbell street where you’ll find many of the Asian restaurants. I enjoyed a good meal of Korean Jap Chae noodles at the Campbell food court

Tip: Ask local bar tenders for suggestions for bars and lounges if you are unsure. They are usually in the know.

 3 Sisters & the making a good friend on the Meetup Coogee Coastal Walk Hike

living like a local in sydney

I decided to take half the day to get out of the city and take the train to go see an attraction called the 3 sisters. You take the train to small town and catch the bus to get off and take pictures of 3 pointed rocks known as the 3 sisters. Sorry I’m not getting too excited about this one, but the attraction did attract bus loads of chinese tourists that I had to compete with to get some decent pictures. If you’ve got some time in Sydney and want to get out of town to see an attraction then this is one idea. Personally I would like recommend spending your time seeing the Sydney Opera, Harbour Bridge, or the Coogee Coastal walk before even thinking about the 3 sisters.

living like a local in sydney
the Sydney harbour bridge

Speaking of the Coogee coastal walk I joined a meetup group called the Sydney Bushwalking Meetup to do this walk with a group. We would meet at the Circular Quay , the location where you would catch ferries and also see the Sydney Opera House, the Rocks, and the Harbour Bridge. We met our group and I immediately hit it off with an attractive UK expat. We got took the Ferry to Watson’s bay and snapped some shots of the Sydney skyline and along the coast. The walk is a great way to get some sunshine and exercise while enjoying the beautiful ocean and views along the coast. We walked past Bondi and Bronte beach and stopped at our destination at Coogee beach. During the walk I had a glimpse into expat life as one of the girls who had been living there told me that it was frustrating making friends with other expats because they would leave shortly after they met. Her solution and tip was to join associations that were more established like tennis clubs and make friends there. By the time we arrived at Coogee I found out my UK friend had a South African boyfriend, but we exchanged contacts to do dinner in Newtown before I left. Coogee was a nice family friendly beach to have a bbq or a picnic. Most of the group was too tired to BBQ after the hike so we picked up some kebabs and beer before I caught the bus back. A productive day where I got some exercise, some shots, and made a new friend.

Saving the best for Last: The Opera house & the Harbour Bridge

living like a local in sydney
The iconic opera house

Before I traveled to Sydney the image of Opera house was the image I envisioned when I thought about Sydney. To me it was an iconic structure and I had to all type of shots of it before my trip was over. To get to the Opera house you go to the circular quay. You have to walk about 10 minutes from there until you get to it. The first sight of it will have you reaching for your camera. It is indeed amazing. I recommend taking pictures of it during the day and night time and from both sides of the Harbour Bridge to cover all the angles. I walked inside it to check it out and use the bathroom. If I had budget I would probably have seen a show, but instead I chose to enjoy an organic tap beer at the Opera Bar. This bar is happening and you can enjoy it sitting my a heat lamp at night or by an outside table as you enjoy prime seats of the Opera House and the Harbour bridge. One sunny day I decided to reward myself after I filmed and enjoyed a beer and a pizza at this Opera Bar. It was one of my highlights of the Sydney trip and I savored every minute of it.

living like a local in sydney
Life is worth it. Opera Bar Sydney

The harbour bridge is also a significant structure and I recommend walking across it. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars to walk on top of the bridge you can spend around $11 halfway through the bridge and climb to the top. At the top there is a viewpoint where you can enjoy amazing 360 degrees views of the Opera house, the bridge and the people climbing it, and more. I also recommend to continue walking to the other side of the bridge where you will be rewarded with views of the Sydney skyline and another angle of the Opera House. If you plan it well you can get to the other side by sunset to take evening shots. Just when you thought you got all the best pictures try taking the ferry back to circular quay instead of walking back across the bridge. You will get picture angles of the Opera house that a good percentage of the tourists had never thought of.

 

living like a local in sydney
A pizza and beer are a perfect way to enjoy the sun and views of the Opera House

Tip: Try taking the ferry to Manley beach from circular quay. Its a worthwhile trip on its own and you’ll get good photo ops of the Opera house from the ferry.

Newtown & Brekkie

living like a local in sydney
delicious brekkie in surrey hills
living like a local in sydney
surrey-hills

On my last evening I met with my UK friend at the Newtown train station for dinner (she is camera shy btw) Newtown was packed with restaurants on both sides of the street. We decided to try a vietnamese restaurant. The next morning I decided to sample some brekkie in Surrey Hills. I settled on a spot referred by locals called Reuben Hills. The portion was small, but good quality and I ended up tagging some good tracks on my Shazam so I was happy. Back at the Surrey Hills mansion I had my bags packed and was about to open the door for the shuttle when I saw it drive by and stop at the street. I chased it down in my socks and the Airbnb host got him to drive back in front of the house. We said our goodbyes. Next stop a return to Auckland.

congrats you made it down this far. Please share this article using the floating bar to your left on a social media channel.

Produced by Greg Hung for Chicvoyage Productions 2013

The footage in this video is available for licensing

ChicVoyage offers high quality global travel content (videos, pictures, entertainment) available for licensing.

Stock Travel Footage Available for licensing

Produced by greg hung for chicvoyage productions 2013

Digital Nomad Videographer Lifestyle

music by – birocratic
tracks: orientation, merlot, bump #4, stay gold

music by – Tom Wendt
tracks: Cool Surf pour Joerg ind Liza
https://soundcloud.com/tom-wendt/cool-surf-pour-joerg-und-lisa

camera operator assistant: charles clement

thanks to
the Bucket list, Bondi Surf seafoods,Bondi iceberg club , and John F airbnb host

Vancouver Summer

Vancouver Summer

By Greg Hung Aug 1 2013


Greg is a World Explorer, Film-maker & Travel & Technology Serial Entrepreneur has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 40 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube videos in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom. ChicVoyage Travel provides travel information. ChicVoyage Productions provides high production video and websites services to the travel and hospitality industry. Lifestyletravel.tv features really good travel videos in one location on the web.

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur

I’ve lived in Vancouver since 1995 and being the explorer and active person that I am  believe I know the city well and I hope that visitor’s can get inspired and informed to visit Vancouver in the summer. I hope that Vancouverites feel proud of the city they live in because after traveling to all the countries because in my experience there isn’t too many cities I can think of that can compete with Vancouver in the summer. The beautiful mountain backdrop against the city, the world class ski resort mountains of cypress and grouse mountain, the active lifestyle along the seawall, and the hip area of Gastown and Yaletown and so much more. This video features host Alison from the successful Vancouver Nightlife I produced and currently the most viewed video for Vancouver nightlife. It also features my friend and part-time mode Catherine C showcasing Main street and the grouse grind hike of Vancouver.

The footage in this video is available for licensing

ChicVoyage offers high quality global travel content (videos, pictures, entertainment) available for licensing.

Stock Travel Footage Available for licensing


Produced by Greg Hung for Chicvoyage Productions 2013

Hosts – Alison R, Catherine C

Special thanks – Yaletown brewery

Music By
music by – BIROCRATIC

Songs -Bump #2 (Blue hour), Frappuccino 2, AS Bump #3, Orientation

Maui video featured on travelin10 video podcast

Maui Video

By Greg Hung Aug 9 2013


Greg is a World Explorer, Film-maker & Travel & Technology Serial Entrepreneur has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube videos in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom.

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur

I want to share a Maui video produced recently this year. During 2012 I returned to the office in Vancouver and the conversations in the office on Friday’s or before vacations often led to sharing of stories about Maui. I had heard about this beach paradise, and yet at the time I didn’t find a whole lot of quality videos on this destination to see what is it like. I traveled to Maui in May 2013 and decided to share part of the experience of traveling here by creating this Maui video. Memories of Maui include the wonderful hot weather, the oceanfront condo’s, pretty beaches, friendly people, and how beautiful and unspoiled this destination is. I’ve decided to partner with Vancouver travel podcaster travelin10.com available here. Enjoy

 

 

 

 

Melbourne Australia tour

a melbourne walking tour

By Greg Hung Aug 6th 2013

Melbourne Australia Tour


Greg is a World Explorer, Film-maker & Travel & Technology Serial Entrepreneur has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube videos in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom.

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur

Is Melbourne the most livable city in the world? According to the The EIU’s Global Liveability Report it is, but is it actually like to live there for 14 days like a local. I set out on a journey to answer this same question for some one the worlds most livable cities: Sydney, Auckland, Vancouver, Adelaide, and Melbourne. To give you a taste of Melbourne I decided to start with a walking tour video of Melbourne. After doing a google and youtube search today for Melbourne Australia walking tours I see there isn’t many professional videos out there. I hope this fills the void and offers something entertaining and informative for the views out there.

Melbourne Australia tour
Federation Square - A central meeting square near the South Bank to meet friends and surf the free wifi

During my time at their place I got a chance to know my Airbnb hosts, Gretchen and William quite well. I came up with an idea and inspiration to do a walking tour video of Melbourne hosted with my Airbnb hosts that I could also pitch to Airbnb for a future show. William and Gretchen thought it was a good idea as well and so we got it done.  As you can see they are very friendly and knowledgeable about Melbourne and I would recommend to stay them in South Bank if you can.

Melbourne Australia tour
One of many picture opportunities in the grafitti alleys of Melbourne

Melbourne has a strong coffee culture; however you may be surprised how difficult it is to find a regular drip coffee. They call it a pour over coffee and in Australia it was quite rare to find in contrast to the long black and flat whites. In the video we try out a coffee flight and get you watch the unique way and attention that is given during the preparation of the coffee flight. Melbourne also has a popular grafitti culture. William and Gretchen take us to the croft alley in chinatown where you’ll get to glimpse of these alleys from your computer without having to deal with the smell. We finish off at a diner where William will explain the popular style of burger found in Australia and Singapore called the wagyu burger. Food is generally expensive in Melbourne , but at this diner we show you where to find these quality burgers starting at $10.

Melbourne Australia Tour
The coffee flight tasting experience in Melbourne featured in the video

If you enjoy this video please do your part and share it with your friends. I would like to partner with Airbnb and do more of these videos worldwide and a larger viewership will bring me closer to that.

 

Essential travel tools for 2015

Essential travel tools for 2015


Greg is a World Explorer, Film-maker & Travel & Technology Serial Entrepreneur has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube videos in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom.

Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur
Greg Hung World explorer, film-maker & entrepreneur

Put away the lonely planet and arm yourself with a smartphone. The world is changing quickly especially technology. Technology is making a positive impact on the everyday traveler allowing you a great amount of travel independence. I don’t believe technology is a substitute for asking people questions, but they sure work well together. Being a seasoned traveler here is my 2013 list of essential travel tools

Unlocked smart phone

When I spent $900 Canadian for my iphone 4s I didn’t get to fully enjoy the benefits until I started traveling to countries like Taipei, Hong Kong, China, South Africa, Singapore, and Australia. The unlocked smartphone opens the door to so many benefits to you as a traveler. First, in most countries you can purchase a prepaid sim card at the airport ,which provides you access to a local phone number, sms capability and fast internet access. I refer to fast internet as 3G or higher. As a traveler you now have access to your google maps meaning you have hardly any excuse to get lost. Google maps now has audio GPS capability making your smartphone a functional gps. Plans typically range from $15-30 US for 500MB – 1GB depending on the country and some value for SMS and phone calls. Some other benefits:

  • Local phone calls without worrying about unexpected surprises with a monthly bill.  For most countries you can check the value on your sim in real-time by sending out an SMS message. You can also increase the value if  you run out ( also known as topping up) at convenience stores or a local branch at the mall
  • Smartphone Apps – finding the right app can add so much value to your everyday life and travel too. For example the XE currency app will allow you add numerous apps and convert prices for you on the fly and includes a calculator.

    essential travel tools for 2013
    an unlocked smartphone is an essential tool today
US Cash

this currency is one of the most portable and accepted in the world. If you have an opportunity to get a good rate get as much as you can. I’ve received excellent exchange rates on US in countries like South Africa, Australia, and Singapore that are better than drawing out money through debit.

Laptop/tablet

This depends on your needs. A well stocked ipad with movies, games, and electronic books gives you a portable way to pass your time on those long flights. You can also jot down notes, and use it to surf the web on a larger screen. If you are a travel blogger, serious videographer or photographer, or a professional that can do work using the internet a laptop is an essential tool. If you are taking plenty of photos and videos you can save it your laptop’s hard drive to free up your memory cards. You can take it a step further and bring a portal hard drive or memory stick to back up those memories.

essential travel tools for 2013
a tablet like an ipad is great for portable entertainment on the plane
essential travel tools for 2013
A thermos container can keep your cold water cold or your hot beverage hot.
Thermos Mug

A thermos mug is a container that features special technology that keeps your cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. You can use it keep hot teas when you are cold, cold drinks in hot weather, or use it to store your favorite beverage whatever it may be, If you are traveling in a country that offers free filtered that means you just fill up your container and save yourself some money

essential travel tools for 2013
a portable usb charger can give your smart phone an emergency charge while you’re out
Smart phone portable charger

Think of these as portable batteries that can charge your smartphone if you need to charge it up while on the go. Best of all these devices can be used for most USB devices. If you will be doing driving during your trip I recommend getting a USB charger for the cigarette lighter.

Camera

If you serious about travel you will get an SLR camera with a good versatile lens. The quality of the photos and video gives you access to create and capture memories like never before.  There are modern action camera’s like the go pro 3 that can capture video in the highest resolutions that are slow motion friendly (1080P 60 frames per second).  The camera’s have also begun to feature wifi and a smartphone app. This allows you connect your smartphone to your camera and do things like take a remote picture, and download it your phone and upload it to a social media site in minutes. I can write an entire article on this topic. For now I recommend a camera has high definition video capabilities, supports detachable lens, and getting a tripod.

Hardside luggage

These suitcases are made of a light durable plastic with four wheels. The suitcases are so light and will protect your luggage well. The four wheels will allow you to move the suitcase smoothly while keeping it upright allowing you to put more luggage on top of it. They also offer a pull out handle to easily pull your luggage. With almost all airlines charging by weight this case can provide long term convenience and savings.

WikiVoyage

This website is like Wikipedia for but travel. If you are traveling on the go and need essential travel information like how to get around and what to see and do then do a google search for the city you are in and append wikivoyage to it. For example “Kuala Lumpur Wikivoyage”. I believe travel guides like Lonely planet are useful as reference guides, but when you are on the go I find the wikivoyage to be more practical and useful. Best of all it is free. Check it out here.

Trip Advisor

This user generated content sites has been consistently helpful when traveling to countries like Turks & Caicos, Beijing, Bali, and more. Trip advisor does shine if you know the name of the business or activity for your destination. The value you get is the opinion your form form reading multiple reviews especially recent reviews that are written by travelers. Look at the reviewer’s credentials. Have they written many reviews and how descriptive are their reviews?  Be sure to do your part and contribute to the community by writing your own reviews. I like to read travel guides and the travel wiki to get an overview on the country and area I want to stay. When I zone in more detail that is when I find trip advisor can be another reference to confirm how good a hotel or a tour operator is.

Google Translate

I’ve recently arrived in Taipei, Taiwan to live and learn Mandarin. It is a reminder that we cannot expect people at every destination to speak english. When you have run out of sign language to communicate and don’t want to phone a friend for help you can rely on google translate to come to the rescue.  With support for 72 languages you can download the app and enter in a any word or phrase and have it instantly translated. Better yet you can press a button and have the software read out the word for you so you know how to pronounce and practice it. Just don’t turn up the volume to loud if you are easily embarrassed.

Pleco

This app is essential for looking up words in English or Chinese to find the translation. The most powerful took is the OCR add on to give you the capability to translate Chinese to English!

Airbnb

This app and website is an alternative to hotels that you can hire from local people. You can rent you short-term or longer term from a local apartment to a private room. I lived in Australia for 2 months using Airbnb’s and had a great experience living with locals like a local. Some hosts provide travel guides and even pick you up for the airport providing extras that hotels can’t offer.

Any there any there tools that you can suggest that are must haves for you??