15 de diciembre de 2016

Backpacker’s Checklist

Everyone gets a little anxious before traveling. There’s always that feeling that you’re forgetting something leaving an important item behind, especially when you have to pack all of your things into a huge backpack.

In many traveling experiences I’ve learned what to bring with me and what to leave at home. Throughout the years I’ve found myself in situations that I couldn’t solve or that made me spend more money that I expected to. For example, I forgot to bring my student ID with me once so I had to pay full price at every museum, while my friends got a free ticket or fair student discounts. There was also this time when I forgot to bring all of my outlet adapters so I had to buy a new one at the airport for about 20$. This other time we bought a bottle of wine to drink by the river, but none of us had a corkscrew, so you know what happened next… Yes, I know I didn’t die or went bankruptcy in these situations; but I could have eaten a lot more gelato if it weren’t for all of these unforeseen expenses.

To reduce the pre-trip anxiety (and hopefully, save you guys some money) I will share with you my list of important items divided by category.

Documents

∞ ID, Passport, and License: even if you’re not planning on driving, every trip is an adventure and you could end up in a situation that requires you to.
∞ Health and travel insurance.
∞ Check-in and reservation: they might ask for it you’re from another country.
∞ Student ID: when you’re young and traveling to another country, immigration personnel might think that you’re looking to stay there illegally. A student ID proves that you have plans to go back, plus you get discounts in every museum and other venues.
∞ Credit cards (and their PINs).
∞ List of your country’s embassies in all the places you’re visiting with their phone numbers (just in case you get in trouble).

Clothes

The kinds of clothes you pack depend on the season, but besides the obvious and no matter if I’m traveling during winter or summer I always like to pack those you-never-know items.
  • Swimsuit (even in winter).
  • Sweater (even in summer).
  • A nice suit or dress.
  • Sandals.
  • A hat.
  • Extra underwear.
  • Sunglasses.

Toiletries 

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Deodorant.
  • Shampoo and liquid soap.
  • Razors.
  • Tweezers.
  • Q-tips. 
  • Purell and wipes: you will need this on a daily basis. 
  • Baby powder and cologne: you don’t always get to shower. 
  • Microfiber towel: they’re compact and they dry fast so you can pack it back without getting your belongings wet. 

Extras 

  • Common medications: headache and stomachache pills, flu treatments, band-aids, alcohol. 
  • A pen.
  • Insect repellent.
  • A small umbrella.
  • TSA approved locks.
  • Waist-pouch: to protect your money and passport.
  • Sleeping bag.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Electronics and their chargers.
  • Outlet adapters: not every country has the same outlet and usually they cost a lot more if you’re in need and can’t find a good store. 
  • Cooler.
  • Backpack: pack a smaller one to carry your things while you walk around the city. That way you can leave your big backpack at the hostel. 
  • Flashlight.
  • Corkscrew and bottle opener.
  • Plastic bags: just in case you need to pack wet items among your dry ones. 

Things to do before the trip 

  • Scan your documents and send them to your own e-mail. That way you can print them in case the originals get lost or robbed. 
  • Get health and travel insurance. 
  • Print your hotel reservation or invitation letter. 
  • Charge all your electronic devices. 
  • Find maps of the cities you’re visiting. 
  • Make sure you don't need any extra paperwork or permits to get in there. 
  • Leave a key of your place to someone you trust in case there’s an emergency while you’re gone. 

Those are the items I always pack and the things I pay attention to when traveling as a backpacker. Hopefully I will continue to update it and improve it. With this checklist I wish you the best of lucks in the adventures to come and of course, you’re welcome to add items based on your own experience.
Bon voyage!

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12 de diciembre de 2016

5 Tips for Backpacking with Friends

Traveling with friends can be great, but when you’re backpacking you leave behind your regular lifestyle for a while. You may sometimes end up in difficult situations in which is easy to lose your mind and blame everyone else. Here’s a list of tips to reduce those hard times to a minimum:

1. Choose friends that you could see yourself living with.


I remember a trip to Spain, a couple of friends and I didn’t have Internet connection to book a hostel for our next destination and when we got there every single place was full. We walked for miles looking for a room and winded up sleeping on some benches at the train station. We got in a fight with one of them (the one we knew less) because he just couldn’t stand the situation.

Backpacking is a lot of fun but because of it is involves high levels of improvisation, sometimes things can get difficult. These experiences put every relationship to test so think it twice before you invite someone on your trip.

2. Make a list of countries/cities beforehand.


Each one of us travelers has a list of dream cities or countries. Unfortunately, it’s not necessary the same as everyone else’s.  After you gather your group of friends, talk about the places you’d all like to go. Then you can make a list of those you have in common, these ones will fall into the “can’t miss” category.



After you settled your places, plan your route in the smartest way possible, and by “Smartest” we mean shorten your distances and save up some money. You don’t even have to make the whole trip together! If you want to go alone or with just one from the group elsewhere; do it! Go separate ways and see what you can find. Don’t worry, you’ll meet them again pretty soon, eager to tell your stories and listen to theirs.

3. Define your transportation method.


There are many transportation methods nowadays. I’d recommend you to use the most flexible of them. Yes, there are a lot of cheap airlines that go between cities and countries, but because of their price you have very limited options when it comes to changing dates and luggage (normally just a carry-on).



As a backpacker, I can say that even if you’ve printed the schedule you made in a pretty neat Excel document, it won’t come out as you planned it. If you’re traveling to Europe there’s a website called eurail.com where you can buy train tickets that adapt to your trip. I usually buy the one that includes 10 travel days within two months. There’s also another website called blablacar.com that is similar to Uber but for longer distances and works all over Europe but as it covers greater distances there isn’t always a driver available. If not, you can always rely on buses.

4. MAPS. 


Although I love Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I’m not talking about their song here. I’m talking about real maps, paper maps. Don’t just rely on your phone or tablet, technology can fail and conditions may be unfavorable. Maybe you will run out of battery and forgot the charger at the hotel, or some pickpocket could take it without you noticing (hopefully not).



Perhaps there is just no signal in that certain area you went to. As soon as you set foot on a place, go to the Tourism Office and ask for a map and some recommendations. Spot your favorite landmarks, plan your days, ask around, meet new people.

5. Set an amount for common expenses.


In my country there’s a saying that goes kind of like this: “Settled accounts maintain friendships” (Cuentas claras conservan amistades). This means that when it comes to money it’s better to keep things crystal clear. When traveling in groups, generally everyone can cover their own expenses, but there are some expenses that come in a single tab. For instance, a big bottle of water to share, food at the supermarket, bus/subway tickets (it is usually cheaper to buy a 10 rides ticket) and since you’re on the go, sometimes you don’t stop to even it out and someone eventually says: “Here’s a 10, you can pay me later”. To avoid the I-owe-you-you-owe-me situation, at the beginning of the trip everyone puts 10-20 bucks in a pouch and the person carrying that pouch is responsible for the common expenses. That way, everyone spent the same amount. If the money runs out, just start over.


As the title suggests, those are just a few tips of a fellow backpacker, not commandments. As I said, you can’t really plan much a backpacker trip, in fact; you shouldn't. When it comes to traveling my motto is: the only things you really need are money and your passport.

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25 de noviembre de 2016

Apostillar un documento sin cita



Por alguna razón u otra, hemos necesitado apostillar un documento y el sistema actual arroja las citas para dentro de meses. Pero, ¿qué hacemos cuando necesitamos con urgencia una apostilla?

En este caso, necesitas:
  • Documentos a apostillar.
  • Pasaje con sello húmedo para dentro de los próximos tres días.
  • Fotocopia de la cédula.
  • Timbres fiscales de 0,5 UT (uno por documento).
  • Carta explicativa del motivo de urgencia.
  • Carta de la embajada o el organismo solicitante (si no tienes pasaje).
Con estos documentos, te diriges de lunes a jueves al Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y haces la cola de casos especiales (pregunta en la entrada).

Una vez dentro del edificio te ubicarán en la cola correspondiente, y esperas tu turno hasta que te atiendan. Cuando te reciban los documentos, te darán un comprobante (por lo general un papel firmado y sellado como circular de colegio) y con eso retiras a partir del día siguiente; de lunes a jueves en el turno de la tarde y los viernes en la mañana ya que esos días no se consignan documentos.

A considerar

  • Si no tienes pasaje o carta de la embajada no te dejarán pasar.
  • La cola se forma desde temprano, recomiendo ir a las 6:00am aunque empiecen a atender a las 8:30.
  • No dejan entrar con acompañantes.
  • Si paras el carro frente al ministerio te lo van a remolcar.

Cómo llegar


La entrada para estos trámites queda sobre la Avenida Urdaneta.

Si vas en camionetica, cualquiera que pase por la Libertador y siga, te deja justo en la cuadra anterior (donde hay un muñeco inflable de Chávez gigante).

Si vas en metro, te bajas en Capitolio y sales por la Esquina La Bolsa, la salida Padre Sierra. Subes en dirección al Ávila hasta llegar a la Urdaneta y cruzas a la izquierda.

Si vas en carro, puedes estacionar en un estacionamiento pequeño pasando la Baralt.

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Cómo sacar los antecedentes penales

Sacar los antecedentes penales en Venezuela toma alrededor de una semana (con dedicación).
Para este trámite no vale la pena usar gestor, se aprovechan de la desinformación y de lo simple que es.

Antes de comenzar, debes saber que por la cantidad de peticiones la página se cae o se queda esperando. Necesitas paciencia y un botón de F5 bien resistente.

Mi recomendación: usar Firefox, meterse a las 8:00 en punto y refrescar la página. Si está muy congestionada, hacerlo a las 11:00am. También puedes intentar usando un add-on VPN que se llama Hotspot Shield y poner la ubicación en Francia o España.

1) Inicia sesión en la página
Si no tienes un usuario creado, simplemente ingresa aquí y sigue los pasos.



2) Ingresa en Solicitud > Iniciar Solicitud
 

3) Rellena la información correspondiente. Los datos del ciudadano titular ya estarán ahí automáticamente. Si alguno de estos datos es erróneo, debes corregirlo con la entidad correspondiente antes de sacar los antecedentes penales.

También hay que tomar en cuenta que si el organismo lo escribes de manera incorrecta, tu trámite será rechazado. Mi recomendación es siempre escribir la embajada o consulado del país al que va dirigido.

IMPORTANTE: No uses acentos ni Ñ.

4) Guarda e imprime el comprobante de solicitud.
Al hacer clic en Registrar, te aparecerá un documento PDF que puedes guardar en tu computadora para imprimir luego. Si cierras la página por accidente, no te preocupes; puedes acceder a él nuevamente en la sección Solicitudes.

Recuerda que debes imprimir dos copias.


5) Espera el correo de aprobación.
Luego de registrar la solicitud e imprimir las dos copias del comprobante, debes esperar que te llegue el email. Generalmente llega al día siguiente en la tarde, pero para cuidarnos las espaldas, podemos iniciar sesión y chequear el estatus en la sección Solicitudes.

Recuerda: dos copias del Comprobante de Solicitud y una del Certificado de Antecedentes Penales.

6) Imprime el certificado de antecedentes penales.
El gobierno ya no quiere gastar ni una locha en nosotros así que tenemos que imprimir nuestro propio certificado. Debemos fijarnos en muchas cosas.
  • Nuestros datos deben estar correctos.
  • El organismo al que va dirigido también.
  • El documento debe tener el logo del MPPRIJP en el fondo y todos los códigos (QR, numéricos y de barra).
  • Debemos imprimirlo en una hoja carta en escala de grises. Hay impresoras que imprimen un poco azulado. Para prevenir, imprímelo en escala de grises y sácale una copia en blanco y negro.
  • Guárdalo en una carpeta ya que si tiene una arruga o pliegue no te lo aceptan.

7) Lleva los documentos a la sede.

No debes esperar tres días hábiles para llevar el documento, apenas recibas el email de aprobación puedes llevarlo a consignar.

Tampoco hace falta ir a las 5:00am. Recomiendo ir a entregar tipo 9:00 o 10:00am.

8) Retira tu documento tres días después.
Al entregar el documento, la sede se queda con una copia del comprobante y te da otra sellada con fecha. En ese momento te indicarán a partir de qué día puedes retirar el documento.

Ten en cuenta que necesitas la cédula laminada y el comprobante para retirarlo. Recomiendo ir a la misma hora de entrega.

Cómo llegar al Edificio París



Si vas en metro, te bajas en Bellas Artes, subes hasta la Avenida Este 0 (paralela a la Urdaneta) y caminas hacia la izquierda hasta encontrar la Plaza la Candelaria. En toda la plaza se encuentra el Edificio París. La entrada para este trámite está en el callejón entre el edificio y la iglesia.

Si vas en camionetica, agarras las que pasan por la Libertador, te bajas al finalizar el elevado de la Avenida Urdaneta (justo donde está el Banco Exterior) y cruzas la calle hacia la Plaza La Candelaria.

Si vas en carro, puedes estacionar frente al Centro Comercial Casa Bera que queda justo frente a la Plaza La Candelaria. La entrada queda en la Avenida Este 3 (paralela a la Urdaneta, hacia el Ávila).


Si tienes preguntas, déjala en los comentarios.

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