Planning your next trip and looking for some advice?
Maybe you have traveled before, be it for holidays, business or a long term trip. Having the best knowledge to manage your trip well and to help you enjoy all of the experiences along the way is important when setting out. Having traveled, I have put together five tips to help you with your travels.
Be an early riser
Wake up for sunrise to have the best locations and views all to yourself. Sunrise is a spectacular time for snapping some photos due to the unique light. Higher risk or “dodgy” areas are also less threatening in the morning times too. If you’re on a long term trip, then having some time to yourself can be a nice way to appreciate life, free from distractions.
Have some humility
In years to come, you will look back on your travels and remember all of the times when you felt like you looked like a fool. When you’re in a new place with different languages and traditions, it’s very easy to feel vulnerable or silly for not knowing something or doing something in a different way. But don’t get embarrassed, just laugh at yourself and take a deep breath. Don’t fear failure and remember to empathise with peoples customs.
Extra cash is king!
All over the world, cash is still king. In the event of an emergency, stashing some cash in multiple places is a good idea just to cover yourself. I would suggest a couple hundred pound/dollars/euros worth at least. That way, if you do happen to lose your wallet, if your debit/credit card stops functioning, or if ATMs actually run out of cash, you’ll be safe as you will have your stash!
Examples of places to stash your extra cash would be under shoe insoles, in your socks, in a toiletry bag, or in a secret compartment in your bag.
Meet Local People
Many places will be full of travelers, depending where you go and what the purpose of your trip is. You should make it your business to avoid fellow travelers for some of your trip and strike up conversations with the local people. Generally, basic English is the language of world. So relax, it is much easier to communicate than you may have thought, especially combining body language and tone of voice.
The locals may teach you a traditional cooking method or some unique music. The people you meet will enrich your travels much more than sights will.
Patience is a virtue
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Whatever is thrown at you, life is too short to be annoyed or frustrated for any longer than a minute!
Miss your bus or train? Not to worry, there will be another one shortly.
Wifi goes down for an hour? Great! Talk to a human being or take an unplanned trip over to closest village and look around. Have patience.
The bottom line is
You will figure it all out as you go. Stuff will happen, your direction might change. That’s life.
In a previous article we touched on three of the many scams that you may encounter on your travels, from taking a ride in a cab to using your gadgets on public wifi. Below, there are three further scams to watch out for and how to avoid them:
A closed attraction
This travel scam is common among major tourist locations. A random “friendly” local (who probably also speaks very good English) approaches you, informing you that the attraction you were looking to visit is actually closed, for any possible reasons (e.g. religious, national holiday). They will then happily guide or bring you to a different shop or attraction where you will be pressured into buying something or pay over the top for entry.
Visit the ticket office or shop front and find out for yourself if it is closed! Alternatively, you could ask a local who is willing to help.
The group photo offer
At a busy tourist attraction or landmark, a local will offer you to take a big group photo with your friends. As soon as you start getting ready for the shot, you look up to discover that your new photographer friend has completely vanished, along with the expensive smart phone or camera.
This is a tricky one to judge, you really need to analyse the situation well. Busy attractions in cities are typically the most risky of places for this scam. If you really need to, ask a fellow tourist to take the photo and exchange the favour.
Motorbike/scooter rental damage
You rent out a scooter or motorbike. It seems to get damaged overnight, or worse again it gets stolen!
The owner demands additional payment or tells you that repairing it will be expensive and wants compensation. But what you didn’t realise is that it the owner or his associates was the bike thief.
Get out your phone and take some photos of the motorbike first to document any previously visible damage. Buy your own lock to use, don’t use one provided by that rental person (who may really have the spare keys for it!). If possible, don’t tell the rental company where you’re staying and please also inspect that there is a secure place for parking the motorbike overnight.
More to come
As with my previous three scams and how to avoid them, it really is down to being vigilant and aware of the pitfalls of being goods and services in foreign places. Having your wits about you is key, so try to be of sound mind when you do go to buy something or ask for advice on something. Being under the influence gives scam artists the upper hand to take advantage of you, especially if it is night time and where running off could be a very easy option for them. If you haven’t already done so, check out my other article on 3 Travel Scams (And How To Avoid Them)
No matter where you go in the world, there will be shady characters and pool looking to make a quick buck!
The best way to avoid and scams and chambers is to know what to look out for.
Taking advantage of gullible tourists is big business! If you aren’t careful, you could become the victim.
It’s easy to think that as a traveler, you are smart enough to avoid being scammed. Truth be told, it being scammed happens to the best of us.
Whether it’s being ridiculously overcharged on taxi rides to mistakenly revealing your credit card information to a potential scam artist, knowing what scams exist is a good starting point.
There are lots of different scams but I have just mentioned five below to help you avoid losing any money and keeping you safe.
The broken meter in your taxi
For this scam, cab/taxi drivers on airport and train station routes are often known to try this. But it can indeed happen anywhere. After getting into the taxi and the driver starts to drive, they will tell you that their meter is broken and try to charge you a ridiculous fare (this can in sky high if you aren;t careful so watch out for this scam!).
You should negotiate your rate before you drive off, or at least ensure that the driver’s meter is actually working before you hop into the car. If they refuse to turn on their meter, or tries to tell you that it is cheaper without using the meter, then hop out and get another driver.
Closed or overbooked hotel
Again, this travel scam usually happens with taxi drivers. En route to your accommodation, your driver will try to tell you that the hotel you staying at is closed or over-booked and conveniently offer to bring you to a hotel that is more expensive, where they will of course receive a nice commission!
Give your hotel a call in advance to sure that they are open. Ask them if they offer a shuttle service from the airport and then arrange a pickup. If your driver still maintains that your hotel isn’t available, insist that he takes you anyway.
Fake WiFi Hubs
While WiFi can be found almost anywhere today, some free unlocked connections might actually be dangerous. Hackers can set up unsecured wifi hotspots in public locations that entice unsuspecting tourists to eagerly connect into — giving the scammer access to your device, pass codes and online accounts etc.
Always ask for the official wifi connection and password in the hotel, coffee shop or airport. Sometimes this is written on the wall, on the menu or on the receipt. To give yourself some security, try encrypting all of your activity online using a virtual private network (VPN).
More to come
These are just a taster of the scams out there. The main thing is to watch out for suspicious behaviour, especially involving money. Be vigilant and trust your gut instinct.
Have you decided to take the leap and go travelling for the first time?
Fo many, this is a daunting prospect and may involve quitting your job or taking unpaid extended leave. Leaving a job, family and friends behind you is by no means an easy thing to do but once you bite the bullet and book your first flight you’ll be well on your way to a more exciting appreciative life as you venture through he world. For your first trip, knowing what to pack and what not to pack is a big dilemma.
You’ll find as you go through your travels that you will often unload clothes and/or non essentials, maybe selling them or donating them to save space and weight for your rucksack. Having the correct information about local visas, currencies, taxes, transport and accommodation are so important as well or you might find yourself overwhelmed.
I’ve put together a checklist of seven useful tips for the newbie traveller below. These are a solid foundation to get you started on your way.
7 useful tips for first time travellers
1. Get your passport in order Having your passport well in date is a simple but very often overlooked thing to do before you go jet setting. It’s easy to forget when your passport expires and if you do not use it frequently, you might have no reason to check that the date doesn’t expire soon! The last thing you want is to discover on the day of your flight that your passport just expired. Also, when you are on your trip make sure to check the date before you intend to book a flight home, as you may be gone on a long term trip so have forgotten about your passport altogether.
2. Get your phone sorted out You might think that keeping your current phone plan and phone is a good idea but with roaming charges and signal issues, you are probably better of starting from scratch with a local option. This all depends on where you ware visiting and for how long. Be sensible, don’t go spending a fortune on a new top of the range smart phone for the sake of a month trip! There are great plans available for sim cards and basic phones too. After all, you don’t want to be on your phone 24/7 while you travel. That kind of defeats the purpose of experiencing travel in its best form.
3. Don’t go somewhere too remote or crazy If you are traveling solo, maybe go somewhere that is well known and reviewed enough online. Talk to other who have gone to where you want to go. Keep an eye on local current affairs and laws etc. Some countries have laws that you might deem as crazy but which is normal practise to them. Do your research and learn as mush as you can about the pitfalls and challenges of your destination. There are numerous offline and online guides, books and blogs that can help you to understand your trip better, from foods and vaccines to visas and crime issues.
4. Get the right luggage gear Bring a good quality comfortable backpack and/or small gadget bag if you are bringing a camera, tablet or laptop. There are loads of great bags out there online and many of the travel and outdoor-adventure shops stock great options. Remember you want to pack lightly and try to use a strict “in or out” policy with yourself. In addition to having the right bags or cases, you should have some locks and name tags to identify and protect your baggage on the road, or when you have to wait at the luggage collection belt.
5. Travel insurance (belongings and health cover) Depending on where you are going, there are varying degrees of local safety theft and crime and general health risks that may be more evident in certain parts of the country or region you are visiting. Having a good insurance plan is crucial, no matter what length of time you plan to go for. If you will be taking part in outdoor / adventure activities then you should make sure that you have the best insurance cover to cater for these, as some companies and policies won’t cover certain activities.
6. Make digital backups Make a digital copy of your passport, drivers license, itinerary, flights, boarding passes and insurance information. Also, make a digital copy of any required visas you may need. You never know, you might lose your paper documents, your luggage could go missing in transit or worse again it could get stolen, leaving you without important documents. Before you leave, make a copy of whatever you can and put them on a password protected USB key and also create a password protected Dropbox or Google Drive folder with eh digital copies in them. That way, you can access them from any computer online or with your USB key.
7. Be open to staying in hostels Staying in hostels is one of the best ways to meet other backpackers and travellers on your journey. There are too many great hostels around the world, it just depends on where you are going and what your likes and budgets are. Beware though, that hostels are basic in nature and also that you may end up sharing a random bunk bed or share in a 16 bed dorm room! This is normal. Hostels are cheap and great fun and most of them have solid wifi access.
To wrap up • Travel lightly and protect your luggage • Stay where your budget will permit, hostels and camping are great options for low budgets • Back up your documents to a USB key and some cloud storage service • Check that passport well before you book a flight and actually fly • Do your research and don’t go anywhere too crazy or off the beaten track • Buy a local phone or sim plan (depending on your trip’s length) • Get yourself insured and any valuable gadgets too.
Traveling can be as cheap or expensive as you want it or make it to be. If you want to save some money on your travels, so you can extend your stay or pay for experiences on the go, then some simple clever budgeting is the way to go! Below, I have outlined five ways that you can save money on the road. Some are more so for American travellers but they are worth reading no matter where you are coming from.
Check your credit line
You will need to ensure that your credit history is looking good if you want to get a credit card with travel rewards/points. Bear in mind, some countries don’t offer these types of credit cards. So check out if you can get one in your country first.
Find out your credit score and simulate what would happen if you spent x amount on flights or made a large purchase. A credit simulator tool will give you an idea of what your financial boundaries would be.
Give it a shot, and see what your score looks like here. Many apps like credit simulators are 100% free so give it a try!
Avoid bad rates at foreign exchange providers
Getting approved for a travel reward card will depend on point 1 above of having your credit rating in a solid place. This can give you bonuses like travel insurance and no fees for foreign currency transfers.
While traveling, converting your currency at the airport (a lot of tourists do!) typically means that you will get overcharged! You might receive a “commission-free” exchange but you’ll also get a horrible exchange rate and that’s where the company makes the money, at your expense.
Usually, is can be cheaper to just use your debit card at an ATM to take out cash. Having a good credit card while traveling, will give you flexibility for higher purchases such as hotels, excursions or renting a vehicle. (while you might also collect some free travel points!).
Always know the exchange rate for the country you are traveling to. Check out the rates online before you convert your currency.
Get yourself some travel insurance
Some travel rewards credit cards also offer travel insurance to many of their customers, free of charge even!
It might vary depending on the credit card but many companies also offer free insurance for car rentals, insurance if your flight is delayed and also insurance for lost or damaged luggage, which could be valuable to you if you are traveling with expensive electronic gadgets.
Find out from your credit card provider what they can offer you regarding insurance.
Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees for ATMs
If you are an American, many US credit card providers will charge you a non-US transaction fee for purchases overseas. This can be as high as 3%, so it is worth looking into if you can source an alternative credit card or see if they will allow free overseas transactions in certain retailers or locations.
Planning your trip can be fun and exciting but don’t plan too much or your trip itself might become less exciting as it will be too scripted and you might feel that you have to rigidly stick to the plan!
After all, you may find that you prefer one place over another and so rearrange your plans to move on or stay. Spontaneity is great and keep sth travel experience fresh and unique. It’s in these spontaneous moments that we learn something new or meet someone who we will never forget. I have listed below five things to do or ways to approach travelling that you might like to consider:
As you travel throughout the world, you will see the vast variances in the poverty divide. You should make it your business to volunteer for worthwhile meaningful projects while you are traveling. This is not only a rewarding experience, but you can often learn more about a country and its people in addition to making new friends through volunteer work. You might find somewhere to volunteer when you arrive or you can pre-plan it.
There are a couple of websites around where you can search for recommended opportunities to volunteer around the world. Do some research and find something that is close to your heart and will benefit people.
Get lost on purpose
To see where the real people live and work, you’ll need to go visit those areas. So many places in the world are geared up for tourism and this gives a certain portrayal of an area but often you will need to venture out further to discover authenticity. Not knowing where you are going, wander off!
Make note of your hostel or accommodation name if you need to get a taxi back later, then just randomly pick a direction and get your feet moving.
But what about danger? Don’t be too worried about meandering across a dangerous neighbourhood either, as many locals will usually warn you before hand.
Eat local cuisine
Coming from he Western world, you might think that you already know what Chinese or Indian food tastes like? But you are probably wrong! On your travels, taste everything even if you don’t really know what you’r eating. Ask for local eating recommendations too. If eating street food, choose a vendor with a big queue out in front!
Don’t make the mistake of cramming five countries into five weeks of travel!
Usually, all of the good stuff that you’ll forever more cherish happens when you simply take your time to explore the area. You will learn about the activities that you won’t find in the guidebook and you will also meet people who are eager to show you around. Its nice to not have to be anywhere at any time and just soak it all up.
These four things can really help you enhance your experience of travel. There are lots of ways to make your traveling better, more rewarding, more exciting or whatever it is you are looking for!
Have you ever wondered why some people like or share certain things, I certainly have? Nowadays, an account on social media has become our digital ID. We all have different personalities, behavior, and patterns and various social media give us an opportunity to express ourselves. But, at what cost, have we lost a tough with reality and is our personal life at risk? Not many people would agree with this statement because for them networks such as Facebook and Twitter are a way to relax and have some fun.
Does social media reflect your personality
I could say that in some way this is true. Based on our personality we will share individual posts, like specific pages and accept friends based on our character. The social media is now representing our personality in a digital world. But, this all can be deceiving as well, we might be under the influence of some online trends, so we decide to share and like concrete posts. For example, I have a Facebook account, and I am an active user, sometimes I just publish or post something which is popular at the moment, but that doesn’t mean I am thrilled about those things. Many people act in the same way, just to get the bigger number of comments or likes. In this case, I just want to give you the two sides of the same coin. It all depends on the personality of the individual.
Social media can change you
With the use of social media, you get a chance to change and design your brand or your name. But, that doesn’t mean you are the same person in real life. Many people use networks like Twitter and Facebook to promote their business and to increase popularity. We often fail to mention the things we consider our fault, but we highlight other parts of our personality and appearance we believe are the best. Social media accounts used in this way, in most cases are deceiving, and we have a hard time recognizing what is the truth and what is the lie. On the other hand, some people use social media to promote their personality the statement “you are what you share” can be applied to them. You just need to be able to recognize them.
Do your posts and likes really describe you?
It all depends on a person, as we already mentioned, there are two types of people on social media. One type is in search on popularity and likes, and the other kind is here to express its personality and thoughts through posts, pictures, and likes. I would say that 50% of users are honest and the other half is just pretending.
As a professional blogger, I understand the importance of privacy, especially since will all live in a world of smartphones and Facebook. Unfortunately, not all people are aware how social media can be a dangerous place to store your private information. Nowadays, everything has become transparent, I personally don’t have a problem with that, but at some point, you need to draw the line and set up some boundaries. There are just some things that should stay private. In this blog post, I am going to discuss privacy and how you can protect your personal information.
Think before you share
Many social media users like to share pictures from their trips. In some way, this can be an interesting way to tell your friends about the places you have visited. But, what happens if someone abuses your personal information, especially if you have posted photos of your children. Luckily, nowadays, many social media have found the way to help you limit the flow of information. You now have an option, to publish posts only your friends can see. But, it’s up to you if you are going to use it. I strongly advise you to utilize this option because the safety of you and your family is one of the most important things.
Think who are your friends
Even though Facebook promotes a rigorous measure against an invasion of privacy, you can never be safe enough. Reflect on the list of friend you have on this social network and how well do you know them. We have many examples where people accept “friends” without even knowing them. This is a reckless and very dangerous decision because you don’t know who is behind those accounts. They might just be spying you to get more information about you, for example, who is your family, where do you travel, where do you live? Next time you accept someone as a friend on any social media, think about these things.
Lock your posts
If you own a personal social media account and you have no interest promoting your business or blog, I suggest you to lock your posts and your account. This is the safest way to protect yourself. For example, if you are traveling to some remote destination, someone who became friend with you for a particular purpose, can see your posts, know where you are, and rob your house.
London is one of the great cosmopolitan cities to visit, with loads to see and do. Whether you are after museums, shopping malls or just some sightseeing, there is something for every type of traveler. However, London is often compared to similar cities in Western Europe. So with that in mind, there are hundreds of great spots to visit around United Kingdom besides London. Below are just a few great places to go to on your travels.
For summery weather, go to Edinburgh! Filled with art festivals, a great comedy scene and spectacular scenery, Edinburgh is a wonderful choose to experience a culturally steeped city. If you are into museums, the National Museum of Scotland will give you a nice taster of country’s history. Believe it of not, you’ll see more than just scotch whiskey, kilts and medieval swords!
Moving on a little further, in Glasgow, art fans will really love the stunning art gallery and museum at Kelvingrove.
On the Northwesterly side of Scotland, little towns such as Torridon offer visitors nice surprises like sea-life tours, yachting, and camping for those of you who like the outdoors.
King of the castle? Inverness, Cardiff, Windsor and Skye sports some nice castles where the grandeur of the nation’s intricate past is on full display. Scotland is home to the famous Stirling Castle. However, if you are not going that far up north, check out somewhere closer to London, maybe Leeds Castle in the southeast of the city. There are a number of chartered buses in operation from tour companies to drive you between castles, so do your research prior to your trip to find the best options and prices.
A medieval city and home to Canterbury Cathedral and St. Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury was a major pilgrimage location for many years, boasting a fascinating rich history. Regardless of if you don’t like or don’t want organised tour guides, Canterbury is definitely one place where you will miss out if you don’t hire one.
To gain more knowledge and historical insight, check out Southampton, York, Manchester, Liverpool or basically any of the cities that have something unique in their history. For example, Southampton, was the port where the famous Titanic departed from back in 1912. It also houses the SeaCity Museum. Whereas Manchester on the other hand, sports the National Football Museum for any of you die-hard soccer fans (we call it football in the UK). If transportation and infrastructure is your thing, then York has a whole museum dedicated to trains and railroads and better again it is free in! Beatles fan? Liverpool is the place for you, with the dedicated Beatles museum. Also check out The Beatles Story while you’re there.
Fields of real flowers are nice and all, but what if you could experience blooms that live forever? Well, you can in Hull! Celebrating the City of Culture 2017, an annual event held all over the world in an effort to celebrate a city’s vibrancy culture, people and arts point of view — Hull houses a field of yellow flowers, in King Edward Square. What’s the catch? The more than 1,700 flowers are made out of nearly 147,000 bricks of Lego!
With many charms, in the southwest of the Cotswolds region, this place is not to be missed. As it is further away from London, it is not as over run as other regions. A little town with cobblestoned streets, boasting vintage shops and artisan breweries among the bustling markets, Stroud manages to offer a charming history as well as the modern requirements of today’s traveler.
A lovely little historic town, Rye is similar to other market based towns across Britain. However, what makes this place special is its location on the Romney marshes. This is along the edge of one of the longest beaches on the South coast. Staying in town? Expect to rummage through the antique shops and wander through the alleys and battlements.
Glamping tickle your fancy?
On the other end of the spectrum of hustle and bustle is being out in the open with nature. Maybe part of your trip requires some nice relaxing down time int he countryside. Then glamping is ideal for you, giving you a glorified camping experience.
Roulotte Retreat, Melrose
Hide away from the cold in a traditional Gypsy’s caravan at the Roulotte Retreat in Melrose on the Scottish border. With the Eildon Hills overlooking, each caravan has its own style and flavour to it influenced from Morocco, Celtic and Indian cultures.
Back to London maybe?
If you are a first timer to London, maybe you want to spend more of your trip there. Great! It’s pretty easy to make your way over to Cambridge, where you’ll find the Fitzwilliam Museum and of course the Cambridge University Botanical Gardens.
If you ware looking for nice beaches, then Southend-on-Sea is a stunning destination.
For a countryside shopping experience, High Wycombe will tickle your fancy and has some amazing architecture to keep you gazing and questioning.
Budgets and more information
With the economy starting to recover and all of the rustle and bustle with Brexit, the travel industry will probably take much longer to reach maximum capacity once again. For you the traveler, this is great because it means competition among tourism and travel companies will remain competitive giving you a great number of choices for all budgets!
If you are traveling from outside of Europe, for now, make sure you have the correct visa and that your passport is in date (the visa will depend on how long you intend to stay for).
Do your research based on where you want to go, find out costs, the pros and cons of the area and the best times to book and you’ll be on your way!
Considering that millions of people are active on Facebook, this social media has become a new Google. Ever since Facebook implemented ads on its platform, many users discover new things, places, and gadgets through them. In the last decade, Facebook has become a massive mega force and now is changing the way how people think and behave. So, let’s see how Facebook is affecting traveling.
It promotes travel applications
Many tech companies use Facebook for the purpose of marketing. They market their apps on this social media, where many people have access to it. So, in this way, they shape the public’s opinion and affect their choice of destination. Recently, many travel apps have appeared on Facebook, and people started using them as a very convenient solution to choose or review a certain destination. Now, users have a chance to see what is right for them and what to avoid. In the past, this has been passed along in person, but now people have become a part of this virtual community where everything is transparent.
Hotels, resorts, and tourist organization apps
Sites like Facebook are used as an excellent online marketing because of the vast accessibility. Many hotels, resorts, and tourist agency target people through this social media. They are offering them a possibility to download their app, through Facebook. Many users will seize this chance to explore something new, to connect with people and to hear their experience, rather than trying something for the first time on their own. Through these apps, you can book and pay for the hotel room, read the reviews of other users and explore interesting things site can offer you. The Facebook application trends have become a powerful weapon, which has one goal, to attract a bigger number of visitors to a certain destination and they are succeeding in that.