Since my last blog, I’ve taken a pretty big step in my life and moved from a small village in rural England to Mexico City! It’s always been a goal of mine to be based somewhere hot (especially when it’s cold back home), and in this special two-part blog I want to give you a series of tips that I’ve found useful during my travels as a poker player, and especially when settling into a new country.
In my poker career, I’ve been lucky enough to have traveled to many amazing locations playing poker tournaments, both on my own and with groups of friends. I love doing both and am very grateful for the experiences I’ve had and friends I’ve made along the way. I’m generally very happy here in Mexico City and I’d strongly recommend checking out the city if you ever get the chance.
Many poker players have relocated to Mexico but generally, to either the beaches or border towns, Mexico City is very overlooked I feel. I’d like to thank my roommate Ian and my girlfriend Carolina for helping me with the move. I’m now in an awesome apartment complex which should allow me to work on various aspects of life and poker. Here are some tips I’ve picked up over the years when it comes to traveling.
Take screenshots of your travel information
This is something I’m rather obsessive over. I take pictures/save screenshots of all my confirmation pages/itineraries/literally anything else I might need. This is automatically backed up so I can access it on any device if I need it. I have a separate email folder for upcoming trips which greatly reduces the amount of panicking when I’m running predictably late for my flight and can’t find my booking reference.
Avoid heavy roaming charges
There are multiple ways to do this and the best one will depend on how much you travel, how long you’re going to be in one place, your current phone provider and in my case, where you live. If you’re traveling for two weeks or more, it might be best to just get a SIM card in the country you’re visiting, you should be able to check out the options before you set off. I’ve seen deals vary widely in terms of value, look out for bargains. I’ve found data only SIMs to be great options if reasonably priced.
I prefer to choose a mobile handset that has dual Sim capability, allowing me to have access to two SIM cards from the one device. Additionally, ensure your data roaming is switched to off when abroad.
When all else fails. The downloadable app now provides the ability to download languages that you can use when offline, which I’ve found immensely helpful here in Mexico.
Check-in online at the last minute
This is a contentious one. However, when traveling alone, I have found (purely as a result of my chronic laziness and tendency to procrastinate) that checking-in online very late gives me a higher chance of being allocated the extra leg-room seats. My theory for this is that airlines leave the option to purchase extra leg room as long as possible. Therefore on sold-out flights where not all the legroom options are purchased, the last people to check-in have no choice but to be allocated the luxurious seats. I’ve found that I’ve rarely been allocated a middle seat when using this method. Be sure to check the airline’s policy for check-in. Sometimes you just need to show up at the airport with your passport, other times you’ll have a specific window to check-in online and upload your passport details, otherwise, you’ll be charged a fee.
If your flight is delayed you may be due compensation
A company called AirHelp contacted me after my flight from Miami to Brussels was delayed in November by a little over three hours. They handled everything, updated me the whole time and whilst I was writing this blog, they have won me €195 in compensation. They took €100 themselves but there’s absolutely no way I’d have chased this up of my own accord, all I had to do was tick a few boxes and they did all the work for me. If you’re legally literate and can handle the stress of dealing with companies such as Ryanair or Easyjet, then you may be best off handling the claim yourself, I don’t have a way to know how easy this would be. Either way, if your flight’s delayed, it’s worth checking to see if you’re due compensation.
Force yourself to be a tourist
At least once per trip, you’ll be glad you did it and even if you brick your schedule, you’ll be able to say you did something vaguely productive. I’ve been that guy who busts four tournaments in a day who then goes back to his room to lose online on more than one occasion. While it’s important to put in volume to justify your expenses, you’re probably in a very interesting location where there’s a lot of things to see and do. A good place to start is by simply googling, “top ten tourist attractions in x” and choosing the one that appeals to you the most. I personally like to try and sample the local cuisine too, not to mention the local pubs and bars.
Talk to people
This wasn’t an easy thing for me to start doing but I’ve ended up making a lot of good friends that I wouldn’t have done if I’d have stayed totally silent at the tables. Especially if you’re traveling alone, you’ll find that a lot of people regardless of demographic or ability have something interesting to say or have knowledge of the area. I’ve had a number of enjoyable meals and great nights out with people I’ve met at the table. Tips for restaurants and places to go/avoid are not always accessible with a simple Google. I’ve also saved a lot of money through mutually beneficial currency trades that I probably wouldn’t have if I’d kept the hoodie up and glasses on pre-ante.
That’s all for now, make sure to check back some time next week for part two of my tips and tricks to hassle-free travel!