Travel tips (Singapore, India, Japan)

The dos and don’ts of train travel safety, as depicted in this awesome poster in the Singapore MRT.

Guess who’s back? Me!!!!

Oh, but I guess you maybe didn’t even know I went anywhere. Since my blog-posting consistency is spotty at best I suppose it would be hard to tell. Anyway, for the record I just came back from an AMAZING trip to India, and while it definitely fit all the cliché criteria for “an amazing trip to India” (ie “life-changing”, “eye-opening”… did I already use “amazing”?), I hope to talk more about that later.

For now, I just wanted to share some very practical pearls of wisdom that I wish I had known before embarking on my recent journey. They’ll probably only come in handy if you find yourself traveling to and/or within the countries of Singapore, India, and Japan… but hey, if it happened to me, it could happen to you! In fact, I highly recommend that it does–they’re all awesome (despite some minor transit-related issues, which you can avoid with the following).

In no particular order…

  • Air India sucks, don’t fly with them (at least as of right now because their pilots are striking which is causing as much as 75% of flights to be cancelled–luckily not mine, but a couple people in my group, which really messed with travel plans!)
  • Singapore Changi Airport has 3 main terminals plus the “Budget Terminal.” Important to know mostly if your flight is in/out of the Budget Terminal–if you’re cheap like me, this may end up being the case.
  • On that note, Changi Airport is awesome. However, you can’t check into one of its convenient transit hotels after you’ve cleared customs–ie, if you have a layover in Singapore and leave the airport to go sightseeing (which I think you should), you are no longer eligible to check into a transit hotel because you’re not allowed back into the transit area UNLESS you already have a boarding pass for your next flight (which you probably won’t).
  • When entering Indian airports, you’ll most likely be asked to show a printout confirmation of your flight itinerary. If you don’t have one, it’s still possible to enter, but expect up to a 10-minute run-around which is annoying and so not worth it! It’s never happened to me at airports in any other countries, but obviously, the lesson is that having a printed travel itinerary in any case is a good idea.
  • You can’t exchange Indian rupees into Japanese yen in Japan. At least not in Narita Airport. Lame :(
  • I can’t stress enough the wonderful ways of the electric-powered massage chairs all over Tokyo airports. So worth the 200 yen for 10 minutes of bliss amidst your epic journey, weary traveler!
  • When exiting baggage areas in Japan airports, more than likely they’ll ask to see your luggage tags given to you at the time of check-in to match and confirm them with those on your bags. So don’t lose them!

Perhaps one day I’ll write a book with all this intensely valuable international travel expertise. Lonely Planet and Fodors, watch out!

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