Category Archives: Travel Tips

Filling The Void: 10 Ways To Kill Time Before Checking In

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Ever been stuck in that post-check-out, pre-check-in void while travelling, or even just arrived earlier than scheduled and can’t book in for four hours? It sucks, especially when you just want to enjoy a holiday vibe! Here are a few ways to pass that time without feeling like you are waiting.

First, ask to stash your luggage so you are free to explore – you could even take this opportunity to find out if there is a different room already free and avoid waiting around altogether!

  1. Ask to use the hotel facilities – whether it is a lounge, lobby, or leisure area they’ll probably let you in before you check in.
  2. Head to a local spa – it will be relaxing, refreshing and will wash away the dreaded travel grime.
  3. Seek out a nearby gym – a burst of exercise will hopefully leave you feeling energised, plus you can get cleaned up with a well-deserved shower after.
  4. Go for a leisurely brunch – enjoying a bellyful of food while watching the local life pass by will soon get you in the holiday vibe.
  5. Take the opportunity to exchange currency – or do any other tedious tasks that need doing just to get them out of the way.
  6. Go to a local museum or gallery – not only will you fit in something that might not be on your itinerary, but you’ll also learn heaps about the local culture during your visit.
  7. Go for a walk – by exploring the local area you’ll find out what you’d like to see and experience more of during your stay. It is also a great way to scope out hidden gems that you’d otherwise miss with a set itinerary.
  8. Journal – whether you head to a nearby open space, a café or bar, finding somewhere to journal is a great idea for whiling away time.
  9. Revise your itinerary – this is the best time to take a look at your ideas because you can pick up local literature for lesser known attractions and excursions, and you can also ask the locals, and other holiday makers what they would (and would not) recommend.
  10. Ask for early check-in – if you know you are going to be early, ask in advance about an early check-in. In most cases hotels and hosts are able to accommodate given enough notice, but may charge for the service.

 

Arriving way before your check-in time is a pain, but not as bad as missing your flight or connection and missing out on holiday time! Make sure your travel insurance covers you for missed departures!

The Secrets to Making The Most of a Short Break Abroad

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The truth about short breaks is that they are exhausting – right? Just when you need a few days respite, with a splash of adventure you end up travelled out, rushed and wishing you’d spent a long weekend at home with a book instead. Unless you do it right of course – here’s how!

1. Follow the cardinal rule – the number of hours you travel should not be greater than the number of days of your trip.

Going for 4 days? Limit your flight time to four hours! You could even argue that the time spent in travelling to and from the airport should count too. Breaking this rule will mean that you will spend most of your trip getting from A to B rather than enjoying your destination, and you might just add a bit of jetlag into the mix if you travel really far!

2. Pick a destination or experience that is very different from “real life” at home.

The more novel your travel experience, the more you’ll feel like you have had a proper holiday and a decent break.

3. Stay at one hotel or apartment rather than travelling through your destination.

The post-check-out, pre-check-in void between 11 and 2 is best avoided, especially on a short break. Time is of the essence, so don’t spend it waiting around!

4. Upgrade yourself!

If you yearn to live a luxury lifestyle, a short break may well be the perfect opportunity to do it. A five-star hotel for 3 days is going to be more financially accessible than for a long holiday. OK, you might spend the same as you would on a 7-day budget break, but instead you have a long weekend of absolute bliss to enjoy!

5. Create the perfect “holiday experience sandwich” when you plan your itinerary.

Make the first day a day to relax, unwind and do things that aren’t mentally, emotionally, financially or physically taxing. Use the middle section of your trip to see, do, and experience everything on your to-do list so that you really feel like you’ve made the most of your trip. Finally, save the last day for unwinding – maybe head to a local spa, or have a long luxurious feast at a local restaurant.

Follow these tips and not only will you have a full and rewarding holiday experience, but you’ll also come back feeling like you have managed to relax and unwind – a rarity with a short break abroad!

Lagom – The Swedish Goldilocks Principle for Globetrotters

Lagom – a Swedish word that has no direct translation. It more or less means not too much, not too little, just the right amount. It can be applied to every aspect of life – whether that be the amount of cream you have in your coffee, the way you dress, how you decorate your home, or how you travel! Here are some top travel tips that we think hit the lagom vibe.

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Take an extended break

In Sweden it is common for people to take three to four weeks off in the summer to enjoy the weather. While this isn’t an option for everyone, the key is to make sure that you take more days than you think you need to enjoy your holiday. So, if it is a weekend city break you are going on, add an extra day either side to prepare, and to come home and relax after travelling. Going on a longer holiday? Same principle – take more days than you think you need, you’ll be glad of it when your itinerary is approaching capacity.

Plan a sensible itinerary

Cramming in sightseeing and activities to a pre-booked holiday is not adhering to lagom. You don’t want to do so little you feel like you are wasting time, but you also don’t want to be rushed off your feet trying to fit everything in – you want balance. Before you book your holiday decide what it is you want to do, how much time you ideally need to enjoy each activity to its fullest, and also how long it will take to get from A to B to C… Then add some time for doing NOTHING – only with space in your schedule can you embrace something spontaneous, or take some time to rest between adventures! Once you know that, create your itinerary and book your holiday. If it feels like there is too much for the holiday time you can take, remember you can always come back another time!

Get close to nature

Lagom is about keeping things simple, something a spell in the great outdoors can provide in abundance, but remember we aren’t aiming for extremes! Enjoy outdoor activities that are within your skill-range, environments that aren’t going to cause discomfort, and above all, remember to dress for the weather. There is a saying “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”

Eat fresh, eat local

You can also use the concept of lagom to enjoy the local cuisine – in moderation of course. So, bingeing on steak and red wine in Argentina is not lagom, but indulging in a fine cut with a reserve occasionally during your stay is. Choose items off the menu that do not have a negative impact on the wellbeing of local wildlife or ecosystems – something to be mindful of in places where the popularity of seafood is leading to an overfishing problem. Finally, only eat what you need, no need to go large, order big, or have three courses when two will do.

Choose ethical travel

Low impact and ethical travel is on the rise. This encompasses a wide range of tourist activities that take the excessive side of tourism into account, things like damage to flora and fauna, overcrowding, and negative impacts on the economy and the life of locals. Wherever you travel make sure that you are adding to the local economy during your stay, that you leave as little trace as possible while you are there, and that you are mindful of the impact of your presence in everything you do.

Top Tips For First Time Travelling Abroad With Toddlers

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Tantrums, a short attention span, and the tendency to spontaneously require something completely unexpected (or unattainable) can scupper the best-laid travel plans. Here are some top tips from parents who travel to ensure your toddler is on best form on holiday.

Tell them what is going to happen –From an early start and travelling in their PJs, to what it feels like to board a plane, boat or train, tell your toddler what to expect on the journey. Who they may encounter, the crazy spaces they might experience, and what the travel staff expects of them should all be revealed.

Let them pack their bag (with some assistance) – Maybe you don’t think FooFooFluffBunny is an essential travel item, but your child might, and it could be the one thing that they demand if they get a little travel stress. Let them pick their own toys to take, and compromise with some parental recommendations. Taking them shopping for their own travel essentials will make sure it’s not a fight to get a flannel and toothbrush in, but it will also get them excited about the adventure ahead.

Pack the right snacks –Hunger is the enemy, but don’t let sweet treats be the way to distract. You’ll never get a toddler to sit still after a box of raisins let alone a pack of sweets. Keep the snacks simple, nutritious and on-hand.

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Pack the right entertainment –A tablet is a compact and versatile answer to keeping a child occupied on a long journey. While colouring pens and paper and travel games might seem like the superior choice parentally, rummaging for dropped bits under seats is no fun. Just remember to load plenty of games, drawing apps and books on to the tablet before you set off.

Break everything up into bite-size chunks– The journey AND the holiday! Some parents recommend 15-minute activity slots on a long journey, and while on holiday break the days up so that there is something for everyone. A sightseeing tour for the grown ups in the morning for example, followed by an afternoon of adventure play or a pool. Throw in the promise of a holiday ice cream for being patient, and you should have a happy family all round.

Play dress-up for sightseeing– Longer excursions for less toddler-exciting attractions will require a little creativity. Take along their favourite dress-up set, or get something that ties in with the theme of where you plan to visit. Dressing up will make the whole experience more immersive for them, and hopefully keep them occupied so you can enjoy it too.

Devise a treasure hunt –And make it last for the whole holiday! A simple list of things to spot will be a great distraction when toddlers are getting a little testing. Keep it simple with flowers, cats, dogs, cars, trams, tuk-tuks – whatever is common in your destination – then throw in a few curve balls like a heart shaped cloud, banana shaped hat… you get the idea. Make sure there is a reward for hitting certain targets – more holiday ice cream for example, and encourage a bit of teamwork if travelling with more than one child.

The Worst Holiday Destinations In The World To Visit in June

Ever planned a badly-timed break? Spent your Round The World Trip visiting every destination in the wrong season? If you are thinking of a last-minute getaway this month, you’ll do well to avoid the following locations!

Dubai, UAE

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In June in Dubai it is really really hot, and really really humid, which makes really really hot feel like a bath in a volcano. Basically the seasonal high of 40°C combined with 58% humidity makes it feel like a searing 59°C! That is hotter than the hottest place on earth! If you must go, stick to indoor activities – thankfully quite easy due to the many luxury shopping malls and the world’s largest aquarium.

The Everglades, Florida

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June marks the start of several seasons in the Everglades – The Wet Season, The Hurricane Season and the Mosquito Season, not the most sought after combination on anyone’s travel itinerary! Plus the thunderstorms at this time of year can last for hours, so you’ll find yourself hiding for cover most of the time. FYI, the best months to visit are December to April.

Havana, Cuba

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Hot, wet and very very windy. June in Havana marks the start of the Hurricane Season, and the stats say it will rain on average for half the month. We all know that wind and rain are the number one enemies of enjoying a Cuban cigar, so save your trip for another time, ideally between December and May.

Death Valley National Park, California

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This destination holds the impressive Highest Recorded Temperature In The World title, and guess when it was recorded? Yup, June – a whopping 56.7°C! The previous record of 58°Crecorded atEl Azizia, Libya, and held for around 90 years, was deemed to be inaccurate by as much as 7°C because the measurement was taken over tarmac, not a true representation of the desert terrain.

Don’t forget your travel insurance! A well-chosen policy can help you out when Mother Nature decides to scupper your travel plans. Bad weather can mean cancelled flights, long delays, and in extreme cases the need for replaced belongings and even repatriation! Speak to our travel insurance advisors to make sure you’ve got the cover you reallyneed for your next break!

 

Scorchio! 10 Tanning Tips Sun Seekers Tend To Ignore

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With the holiday season well underway and temperatures soaring in the UK, we thought this list of tips that sun-worshipers tend to ignore would be rather timely.

  1. Wear sunscreen to suit your skin type – never choose anything less than SPF 15.
  2. Make sure your sunscreen provides UVA protection as well as UVB protection.
  3. Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before exposure to the sun.
  4. Reapply sunscreen regularly, and always after swimming.
  5. Wear clothes that protect from the sun.

Crazy Fact: A regular t-shirt actually offers less protection than an SPF 15 sunscreen. Choose clothes that are tightly woven, or have been given a dedicated SPF rating – especially for children!

  1. Stay out of the direct sun between 11am and 3pm when it’s at its strongest, or at least limit your time exposed during these times.
  2. Wear sunglasses to prevent cataracts caused by sun damage – make sure they have a protection rating.
  3. Buy a new sunscreen at the start of each season, its shelf life is reduced when exposed to hot temperatures.
  4. Apply sunscreen even on a cloudy day or when sitting in the shade. The rays are still strong and can damage your skin.
  5. Check the SPF of your cosmetics, if it is less than 15, or has no SPF at all, use with sunscreen.

Top Tip: Get on the fake tan, but don’t be fooled into thinking your skin is protected because it is darker! How long you can stay in the sun isn’t actually determined by how dark your skin is; it is down to your skin type. So, a person who is classed as Type I (very fair) who has darker skin is just as vulnerable to the effects of UV damage as they are without a tan.

 

Vegan Travel Tips – Easy Ways To Keep To Your Plant Based Diet Abroad

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In the UK we are pretty blessed when it comes to eateries understanding “specialist dietary requirements”, but in some places around the world it is harder to get the importance across. Here are some top tips for ensuring your plant-based diet isn’t compromised!

Learn the lingo for the things you want to avoid. It is easier to get a straight answer about the vegan-ness of the food if you ask directly whether it has butter, milk, honey, or egg etc. in.

Say that you have an allergy to the ingredients you want to avoid. In some places dietary choices aren’t given as much respect as they are in the UK, saying you have an allergy, to dairy for example, should ensure your meal is free from animal products.

Tell your host about your vegan diet. You are more likely to bag yourself easy vegan alternatives if you give the hotel or guesthouse a heads up about what you can and can’t eat in advance. Leave it until check in and you might have to go hungry.

Stock up on your own vegan essentials such as milk and spread. If your hotel or guesthouse is somewhat lacking on vegan alternatives, ask them if they can keep your supplies to hand in the kitchen. This way you can be sure you’ll be able to start your day with a vegan-friendly breakfast.

Go online to find vegan restaurants at your destination. Websites such as happycow.net have user-rated recommendations for vegan-friendly eateries all over the world.

Carry vegan condiments and snacks at all times. Whether it is a bottle of soy sauce to stop the street vendor plastering fish sauce on your noodles, or a vegan power bar for when you just can’t find anywhere to accommodate your diet, having your own supplies will prevent you getting “hangry” on holiday!

Choose vegan-friendly accommodation. There are lots of retreats, hostels, and hotels that cater for vegans, or you could choose to couchsurf with a vegan host. As well as ensuring your diet stays clean, you’ll also know that the complimentary toiletries are vegan-friendly and you won’t be confronted with animal-hide furnishings or décor.

The Zen of Travelling

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Philosophical musings for enjoying far-flung adventures.

Live In The Moment

Thinking about life after the big trip, whether that be the internship, your next job, or simply “aaaaarrrrggghhhh, what am I going to do for money?” will definitely put a dampener on your travels. So much so in fact, that you might miss all the things you wanted to go on the trip for. Instead, learn to be present, learn to just be.

How to do it? Taking up the practice of meditation or mindful breathing is a great way to rein wandering thoughts in and get back in the moment!

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Getting anxious, fraught, or upset by minor setbacks, changes of plans, inconveniencies, or mishaps is going to turn your trip of a lifetime into a stress-pit! Stuff happens, and unless it is putting your physical, mental or emotional health and safety on the line, just let it go, save your sweat for real problems!

How to do it? Ask yourself, “Will this matter tomorrow? ”If it’s something small, this should put the incident into perspective.

TIP: If you like the idea of not having to sweat the big stuff either – do make sure you have travel insurance that suits your trip. It can help if you are ill, lose your belongings or have them stolen, find that your flights have been cancelled, and even if you take a nasty tumble during some daredevil adventure!

Employ The F**k It Philosophy

Yes, it is a real thing, there are courses and retreats and all sorts to help people embrace the notion of “F**k It”. There are two basic ways one can employ this method. Either “F**k it, I’m doing it!” with gung-ho enthusiasm, or “F**k it, I don’t need to do it!”, with a laid back assurance that the world will be just fine if you don’t.

How to do it? Approach every opportunity with openness and curiosity rather than caution and resistance. Take a moment to tune in and really feel which “F**k It” is appropriate to you.

Don’t Buy Stuff, Do Stuff

Chances are that your decision to go on a globetrotting adventure was to experience “stuff” and get a taste of freedom, not to burden yourself with “stuff” and feel what has come to be known as “stuffocation”.

How to do it? Set yourself a budget and only buy what you need – this includes trips, excursions, fabulous foods – no need to get too thrifty about spending on experiences! BUT, if the urge for retail therapy strikes, just think which adventure on your itinerary you’d have to sacrifice to have it, and what a pain it’ll be to lug around!

11 Totally Awesome Pre-Holiday Detox Tips – Get Summer Ready!

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Want to look hot on your next holiday? Check out these tips which promise to turn up the temperature by beating the bloat, burning the fat, and giving you a wonderfully healthy glow (without a fad diet in sight)!

1. Hydrate at the right time – Drinking your water between meals will make your digestion more effective. As well as making you feel good on the inside, effective elimination could in turn lead to clearer skin! Experts advise to drink a glass of water no less than 15 minutes before a meal and no sooner than an hour after eating.

2. Savour your food on a smaller plate – Choosing a smaller plate means you are less likely to serve up a huge portion, but be mindful that you should eat slowly too. It takes about 20 minutes for your tummy to get the signal it is full. If you finish your meal before then, you are likely to head for seconds you really don’t need.

3. Keep caffeine as a morning treat – Indulging in caffeinated drinks later in the day can impact on your ability to get a good night’s kip. In fact, one study showed that consuming caffeine 6 hours before bedtime reduced sleep time by 1 hour! Ideally, stick to the morning, but definitely no later than 4pm if you want a fresh glowing look for your holiday.

4. Get on the mat – The yoga mat that is. Yoga isn’t just about exercise, it is a combination of breathing techniques (Pranayama), meditation, and movement (Asana). Practiced regularly this combination will promote relaxation, reduce stress, improve digestion, and give greater physical and mental strength. The result will be more energy, and a natural radiance from within!

5. No raw after 4 – As with caffeine, the advice is that raw food should not be consumed after 4pm. This is because the uncooked cellulose in raw foods is harder to digest, especially when your metabolism is starting to wind down ready for rest, which ups the chances of bloating after eating your dinner-time salad.

6. Let go of excess baggage – No, we aren’t talking about hand luggage! Believe it or not swelling and bloating could be down to negative emotions connected to stressful events in your life that you have not yet let go of. Systems such as DTO can release the negative feelings, and the body naturally changes as a result.

7. Take three 10 minute walks a day – Apparently a brisk 10 minute walk that gets your blood pumping taken three times a day is better for you than trying to hit your daily 10,000 steps. The key is to ensure you get a bit out of breath.

8. Eat the rainbow – This is not permission to stuff your face with Skittles! While we don’t want to encourage fad diets, healthy eating is a must. One easy and fun way is to aim to create a rainbow of different coloured foods on your plate. At the very least it means you’ll be avoiding beige dinners, synonymous with an unhealthy diet!

9. Pamper yourself! – Body brushing, face packs, hair masks, nail oil, manicure, pedicure… the list could go on indefinitely! Make sure that every inch of your wonderful self is treated to a pampering in the lead up to your holiday. Start at least a month before you go for the best results!

10. Make time for a massage – There aren’t many activities that can improve your health while you literally lie down and do nothing! As well as having all the benefits of relaxation, a massage can boost the immune system, and make the body more effective at getting rid of toxins by increasing circulation.

11. Catch some Zs – Sleep, or lack of it, is top of the list for bad skin, sluggish digestion, and increased stress, so if you want to look good you HAVE to get your rest! A top tip for a good night’s slumber is: NO screen time for an hour before bed, in fact no screen at all near you – this is because the blue light interferes with the production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.

Disclaimer: These tips may not be suitable for you! Please seek advice from your GP before making changes to your diet, wellness, or exercise routine if you think it is necessary, or if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

Backpacking Life Lessons – 20 Things You Discover On Your First Trip

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  1. You don’t need a change of clothes for everyday.
  2. Layering is the best way to dress for all weathers.
  3. Cotton clothes retain water, which is rubbish for backpacking in the winter. During the summer however that is an obvious perk.
  4. Wool socks and base layers are the way to go in winter.
  5. Merino wool is worth the money because it’s not itchy.
  6. Extra socks are a necessity not a luxury.
  7. Every little thing you can cut from your backpack bag really does make it weigh less.
  8. Pack less, smile more.
  9. Pack a portable charger WITH converters.
  10. Take a kindle not hardcopies of books.
  11. Download “offline” maps while you have wifi.
  12. Listening to music on an mp3 player is better than wasting phone battery.
  13. Microfibre towels take ages to dry, a wash cloth is just as good as a towel.
  14. Ziplock bags in various sizes will save your day, every day.
  15. Going with the flow and hoping to find a bed for the night doesn’t work out if you turn up mid-festival/holiday/celebration… check how busy your destination might be before you head there.
  16. Good socks are just as important as good shoes and boots.
  17. Sock liners are a luxury you make room for if you don’t want stinky feet or blisters.
  18. Looking for stuff in an unorganised pack is a waste of time – pack your bag so the stuff you use the most is on the top or in external pockets.
  19. Earplugs are a must if you want a good night’s sleep.
  20. Hostel beds can be rank even at the best of times – pack a travel sheet.

 

Don’t forget your travel insurance! Living out of a bag and being constantly on the move ups the risk of losing belongings, or having them stolen. We have special long stay insurance perfect for backpacking adventures. Cover from 3 to 18 months covering casual work plus many sports.