Now that the dust has settled in, a part of me is ready to share a glimpse of #ARMENYAY – the 5-days-and-4-nights well deserved break that I had a few days into 2017. From #HappiestPlaceOnEarth to #JacquieJumpsInEurope and then, #jacquieXpeachyXTurkey, now this. It has become my thing to brand it with a hashtag – a millennial thing, if you know what I mean.
After feeling winter in Istanbul last year, I decided to up it a little bit and went for the real thing – snow and freezing temperatures. Not that 3 – 7 degrees Celsius wasn’t brutal, but I thought, why don’t I make a snowman?
I was vividly mapping it out in my mind – solo backpacking trip in an almost non-English speaking country where everything could go wrong and I’d still have fun anyway. When I was ready and convinced that I can pull this off, friends wanted to tag along – one after the other. To be quite honest, I’ve always traveled with someone and I was looking forward to finally doing this on my own. Then again, a delay means it’s supposed to be better when it comes so; I scrapped the original plan and settled with a crowd – 6 people who know each other on a plane ride is a crowd. It was tricky and a lot to handle for someone who’s used to travelling with only one company. Then again, life surprises you when you least expect it.
The travel plan was clear: Winter with snow in Armenia, temperature will be no joke – ranging from minus 4 to minus 12 degrees Celsius. I was kind of ready clothing wise, from Istanbul last year, so I only had to buy a couple of things to be fully ready: the reliable windbreaker and a really thick trench coat. It pays to have friends who own stuff you might need in the future – the Ugg boots that I wore for example was loaned from a friend with a promise that I will bring something back for her. What I always do when I prepare and plan a trip, aside from saving money, is I research the weather so I know if I need to buy anything to wear – that’ll be included in the budget.
The Basics in travelling:
1. Airline Reservation – fly with a budget airline and save your money on experiences when you reach there. If you can fly in style, then by all means, do so – if I can afford it, I would.
2. Accommodation – I admit I’m not a fan of hotels. Personally, I would prefer to sleep in a couch at a local host’s house so I get a taste of what it’s like to be one of them. Hotels are nice and comfy and relaxing, but I’m after experience – you don’t get a lot of that by being comfortable, nice and relaxed.
3. Visa – sort out your bureaucratic requirements first. Book reservations that do not charge cancellation fees just in case it doesn’t work out for you.
4. Clothing – how can you enjoy a foreign land if you’re not properly dressed for the place? Research the weather, check out your closet, shop for any essential piece of clothing that you will need for your trip.
What you need to do list:
1. Itinerary – make up your mind if you will DIY your travel or book a tour – I always DIY because I find it cheaper and easier to depend on myself. With DIY, it’s your time, your rules and your mistakes, you’re your own boss so that’ll make the trip even more exciting. I’m after the experience and the lessons after. All good things require hard work.
2. Documentation – with Social Media and internet not leaving anytime soon, you have to pay attention to Documentation as much as you pay attention to the whole trip itself. If it’s not on any Social Media platform, it did not happen. Kidding aside, it’s now relatively easy to document and keep memories of just about anything, and documenting your trip should be at the top of the list. I always try to improve each time because my purpose is to have something to show to my children.
3. Packing List – this makes your travel life much better. If you make a list of everything that you need to bring with you, what could go wrong?
Armenia is a 3-4 hour flight from Dubai – FlyDubai’s season sale offered the return flight DXB-EVN-DXB at a takeaway price of 740aed (US$ 203). A friend of mine has a cousin who lives in Yerevan hosted us and became our local tour guide. The locals do not speak English so it was a big thing that He was there and showed us around, also, we stayed with him so we did not need any accommodation booking.
I’m a tenacious planner and every time I plan to travel, I work on a budget. Like I said before, I’m not rich but that doesn’t mean I can’t travel. I try to research everything – I spend hours, even days, on travel sites, travel blogs, reading reviews to get familiar with the place I’m visiting, and to find out just how much money I need to take with me, margin of error included. There are things in life that you can “YOLO”, but travel money isn’t one of them. It pays to be prepared so you know how much you need.
The itinerary including the budget and packing list is here: yeyrevan – this was made for a group of 6, so you might need to adjust your budget according to the number of people you’re travelling with. Generally, Armenia isn’t an expensive place – it sounds like it is if you are there because you spend in hundreds/thousands in their local currency.
The stories, photos and all that stuff is for the next post – I’m a fan of delayed gratification. For now, you can watch the travel video that I made for this trip.