If you’re feeling the excitement of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, you’ll enjoy my guest post today from Blake Abel, with tips on how to get maximum enjoyment from your visit, based on his experiences at the Beijing Olympics.
With the Vancouver Olympics fast approaching, it is time to get Olympic fever. As travelers we can relate to the thousands of people booking flights, finding room and board and carefully planning their vacation to beautiful Vancouver in Canada. I have been all over the world, to many countries, and very few match up to the city and people you see at the Olympic Games. I went with my family to the Olympics in Beijing in the summer in 2008 to support my sister who was competing in the synchronized swimming event. Although she didn’t win a medal, we had a wonderful time and I have some Olympic size tips for those visiting Vancouver for the Olympic games.
Plan before you go
Obviously right? One thing we learned when visiting Beijing is that there was not enough time in a day to see all the sites and scenes. Any Europe traveler knows that in order to visit all the hot tourist spots, you have to plan, plan, plan. Couple that with the Olympic games, the events, the nightlife, and the spontaneous redirects and you end up in chaos.
Find a balance between visiting on a whim and seeing the things you actually want to see. We barely made it to the Great Wall and we could have seen way more countryside – disappointing!
Find a translator
This doesn’t apply to the Vancouver games unless you struggle with your English, but I found myself ruffling though my Mandarin book just to find where the bathroom was. It is important to take books like mine, but more important to have someone you know, hire, or kidnap to help you in your travels to a foreign country. If we had a translator we could have cut our time in half, from bantering with waiters, cab drivers, and policemen. Yes, policemen.
Get travel insurance
Low cost travel insurance can help you immensely. Lost baggage or getting sick can be the worst thing in a foreign country. This is something my family and I regret immensely. We incurred costs that could have been reimbursed if we had purchased trip travel insurance. My brother got appendicitis in Beijing, was rushed to a hospital and thankfully we paid Yen instead of dollars. Unfortunately, it was in the thousands of dollars. Getting out of a cab, I hit a nice Chinese man, sending him off his bike. We paid again for the accident and were almost thrown in prison. It is really important when you are traveling (yes, even to Canada) that you stay protected, and be insured.
The Olympic Games causes a lot of excitement, it catches you eye, you stay in the village you watch the events you can get into, and you miss the rest of the city/country. One of the biggest advice I can give to visitors to Vancouver is “don’t stop at Vancouver and Whistler”. I have been to these cities and though they are great, they don’t grab the full culture you can get from Canada. Visit the outskirts, go to the woods, play in the snow, and embrace the country you traveled, one hundred, a thousand miles to visit. If you don’t, you will regret it.
Many thanks for this guest post to Blake who writes about travelling insurance and loves to travel in Europe and Asia. He is currently planning his next trip to Sri Lanka with a team of Americans, there to help set up a new orphanage. His passion is to help people with travel tips, staying on budget, and find low cost travel insurance.