Traveling so easy a Gingerbread can do it!
Use a reliable and affordable visa service.
Chinese Visas cannot be mailed. Its Easy Passport & Visa courier service was the most affordable visa courier we found. Customer representatives were very responsive and our visas were received before the estimated delivery date.
Carry the local currency in cash.
Yuan is the most popular form of payment, and in some areas, the only payment accepted. Credit cards and US dollars were not accepted at most places.
Know the exchange rate.
The IPhone XE Currency app kept us up to date on current exchange rates.
Plan to maximize your free time.
Before our trip we read several DK Eyewitness Travel Guides. The books provided maps, tips, and popular attractions. We were able to maximize our free time during our G Adventures tour.
Rest comfortably regardless of accommodations.
We purchased Therm-A-Rest Compressible Pillows for the overnight train, but used them almost every night in addition to the hotel pillows. The pillows provided weren’t all like the fluffy, feather or foam pillows we were used to.
Many times there were long breaks between meals or we were unsure of the available food options. We brought a lot of snacks to keep up our energy levels and eat something we were comfortable with.
Safely carry essentials.
I carried a Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Mini Shoulder Bag everywhere. It had enough room to fit our necessities, but was flat enough not to be a burden. The locking main compartment zipper and slash proof cross body strap kept our valuables safe.
Carry hand sanitizer and toilet paper or tissues in your day bag.
Many of the bathrooms do not have soap, paper towels, or toilet paper. Also, squat toilets are much more common than Western style toilets, which takes some getting used to.
Take advantage of freebies!
Multiple times complimentary hotel toiletries saved the day, especially on the overnight train. In China, most hotels offered disposable slippers, toothbrush and toothpaste sets, shampoo, and soap. On more than one occasion I was glad I saved the Delta sleep kit (earplugs, headphones, and eye mask) and blanket from our flight.
We had another week of traveling after our G Adventures China Express tour ended. Knowing we would constantly be on the go, we packed as light as possible and booked an Airbnb with a washer during the next leg of our trip. Between the 2 of us, our luggage consisted of two backpacks, one carry-on bag, and one half empty check-in bag with room for souvenirs. We also packed two foldable Longchamp Le Pliage Travel Bags we could fill and check on our flight home if necessary.
Bring comfortable shoes.
I wear flip flops all 4 seasons and comfortably walk miles in them. I never expected to wear sneakers every day. My light gray Asics MetroLyte went with almost every outfit and were lightweight, casual, and very comfortable.
Purchase travel insurance.
We easily found affordable insurance satisfying the G Adventures requirements at Travel Insurance.
Download a translation app.
We used the Google Translate app every day to read menus, tickets, signs, and labels.
Write hotel names and addresses on note cards.
Before the trip, we wrote our hotel addresses in English and Chinese on a note card to hand the taxi drivers. This eliminated the stress and confusion of relaying our destination to our drivers with a language barrier.