Infrequent International Travel – Logistic Planning

This Dubai- Bahrain trip I found myself woefully unprepared. Firstly there wasn’t much time before the trip what with work and usual life activities… Secondly, I didn’t appreciate the many factors that would crop up in international trips, because I am well prepared for domestic ones. So decided to make this list for readers and also for myself to keep in mind for next such trips!

Currency
Understand currency conversion well! Keep a bit of paper with conversion values like,
10AED = xx INR
30AED = xx INR
50AED = xx INR
so its easy to understand pricing with a quick look. Shopping tags will usually have very odd numbers like 186AED which is just very confusing to do mentally and on spur of moment as is needed!
It would be good to carry a calculator or use mobile calculator if possible! This leads to the next problem…

Socket Converters
Completely unprepared for the different socket type in Dubai. As a result my mobile ended up being off most of the times. This turned out to be a major pain point also because even my camera was discharged often! So do the research and carry couple of socket converters!!

Local Sim / Phone Connectivity
For about 800 INR we used to get a local Dubai Sim but I thought it was not necessary. A mistake. Its not just about actually making calls but just about feeling connected which makes a lot of difference! Don’t under estimate how addicted we are to connectivity! Also research how to use local payphones and have the necessary card or change with you at all times!
By the end of trip I started using my India SIM with international roaming!! It probably cost me 800 INR or more….

Time Difference
This didn’t affect me that much, just left me mildly confused. There is a difference of only couple of hours in Dubai – Bahrain – Mumbai. Bahrain 7pm was like 11pm here… So its not about just the actual time but also how the time looks. In India there is twilight at a particular time but conditions are very different in other zones in the world at that time! I believe the time zones would play greater havoc when the conditions are more dissimilar!

Public Transport
Research this! Ideally if we can know the ticketing system and routes beforehand, much better! For eg: in Dubai we need to buy a card before boarding the bus, unlike the system in India. so people in my group actually boarded planning to pay onboard with cash and then had to get down. Thankfully they weren’t fined…
Dubai has great public transport but Bahrain doesn’t! I had no idea about Bahrain… So the fact that I couldn’t just stand on a street and catch some transport left me feeling even more confused and helpless like!

Internet Connectivity – A big puzzle!
All the above I could have researched on the spur if only I had good internet connectivity. International internet connectivity is however, a puzzle to crack! Few solutions I have in mind,
1. Buy local Sim with internet connectivity. Hopefully it costs reasonable!
2. Free wi-fi zones. I had counted on these but was disappointed in Dubai! Paid were too expensive so I didn’t buy, probably another mistake!

What could be other solutions to these problems? And have you faced other problems… When you go on that rare international trip?

Flickr credit: Crosset Library Bennington College

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