Monthly Archives:

January 2017

How I learned to love travelling solo

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Travelling solo takes guts and calls on your reserves of resilience. But it can be incredibly fulfilling. If you’re someone who wants to observe, think, absorb, then solo travelling is a way to give yourself the space to really live in a culture, rather than rushing through it chattering to a companion.

I found it scary at first but then began to relish the insights you get. Walking down a quiet street in a Spanish town, noting the Moorish influences and exchanging a nod with a lady sitting outside her shop. Watching the Northern lights in silence from your balcony while you drink a weird Norwegian liqueur. Even standing in a city centre first thing and watching people rushing to their offices, then taking a late breakfast in one of the places they eat at.

These are all things that are just as good, if not better, alone. Haven’t we all had the experience of trying to take in a spectacular sight while our travelling companion talks non-stop?

The thing is, solo experiences needn’t be lonely experiences. With social media, email and smartphones, we can share the special things we find with people whose opinions we really care about, even when it’s not possible to be in the same place at the same time. Our experience enriches them and their response can light up our journey.

And travelling solo has changed hugely with the advent of sites like airbnb. It makes a great change to stay with people who live in a place, rather than only meeting other travellers. And you can use these sites’ identity checks as an extra level of security when travelling.

And I guess I’ve learned too, that with a smartphone and a good book – you’re really never alone.

What to Consider When Choosing to Travel by Train or Rental Car

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Planning a trip can be quite stressful, and deciding whether you should rent a car or travel by train is a dilemma you may be faced with. Consider these aspects before choosing between the two options for your next trip:

Infrastructure

The infrastructure in the region you’ll be travelling through is an important factor to consider when choosing between train and rental car travel. Some countries, such as a few of those in Eastern Europe, may have very bad roads and will thus make driving not only stressful, but also dangerous. Others, such as Ireland, don’t have extensive rail coverage, and therefore it might be difficult to get where you want to by train.

The Number of Travellers

Driving a car is usually less expensive than travelling by train when you share the costs with multiple people. Rental and fuel expenses can be too steep for a person travelling solo, however, and having to navigate and drive at the same time can become quite overwhelming, especially with driving on a different side of the road and with signs in different languages.

Distance & Vacation Duration

For short duration vacations (under a week) and trips where you will be moving around a lot but you won’t need to cover a very large distance, car rental is the best option. If you’ll be covering a wide area or go on an extended duration trip, taking the train will prove to be cheaper and more convenient overall.

Will There Be Kids Coming Along?

Travelling with children always makes things more stressful and complicated. If you choose to rent a car, you’ll have much more flexibility in terms of refreshment stops and breaks to let the kids stretch their legs and consume some of their energy. On the train, however, the children will have more room to move around and places to explore, but you must pay attention to ensure they don’t disturb other travellers.

Keep these aspects in mind when deciding between car rentals and train travel to make sure you enjoy your trip to the fullest.

Save Money On Travel Costs With Inverse Vacation Planning

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Inverse vacation planning is an excellent method for saving money on your travel and accommodation costs when you go on holiday. This technique involves ‘flipping’ the way in which you plan for your vacation on its head. Read on to find out about inverse vacation planning and how it can help you.

When we usually go on vacation, we tend to decide where and when it is that we want to travel first. Then, we start trying to find deals on plane tickets, train and bus fares and accommodation to suit those plans. Of course, the amount of money that we can save using this traditional method will be very much limited both by the destination that we want to travel to and the time of year in which we want to travel. But, is there another way? Yes, inverse vacation planning!

Inverse vacation planning involves finding the cheapest holiday deals first (no matter when or where they are) and then planning your vacation around them. This means that you can embrace more flexibility and spontaneity in your holiday planning – and also that you can save a whole lot of money in the process.

For example, imagine that you decide you want to go to Iceland in a particular week in winter to see the Aurora Borealis. You shop around for the cheapest deals and find a holiday that – all in – costs you and your partner £1000 for the week that you wanted. Now, imagine that you would just like to go on vacation, somewhere nice, any time during the winter break. You find a deal to go to Paris that costs you just £350 for two people with flights and accommodation included. Choosing the inverse vacation planning option gives you a fun holiday and cuts your bills by a third.

Why jet lag is worse when you’re travelling east

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It’s an experience that any seasoned traveller knows all too well, getting off a long-haul flight with that feeling of not quite knowing if you should be awake or asleep and knowing that the next couple of days are going to be rough. When we travel across time zones our bodies have to adapt to a set of circumstances that we just weren’t designed to cope with. Deep within our brains is a tiny but crucial structure known as the hypothalamus that regulates, among many other things, our circadian rhythms otherwise known as the sleep/wake cycle.

When we skip across time zones on a long flight our hypothalamus has to play catch up with the change in environment. What many people had noticed with the problems associated with this disruption to our body clock’s normal functioning was that the severity of the jet lag was significantly affected by the direction of travel. For most people the feelings of tiredness and the general sense of dislocation were much worse when travelling from west to east rather than the other way round. If your journey takes you from east to west, say flying from London to Los Angeles, your brain and body experience what is known as phase delay. This means that as the clocks go backward your body has to set itself back rather than leap forward.

In practice this is likely to mean you will simply have to stay awake for a few extra hours in order to adjust to your new setting. Travelling west to east on the other hand means you are skipping forward with the clocks, known as phase advance. In effect this means it feels like you’re missing a much bigger chunk of time and maybe even a whole night’s sleep. So now you know!

How to Pack Healthy Food When You Travel

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When you travel, whether it’s for holiday or business, it can be easy to fall in to unhealthy routines. Jetlag can screw up your sleep schedule, while walking through an airport or a train station can see you bombarded with adverts and promotions for unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks. This all means that you easily get carried away, and suddenly your wallet is lighter and you feel sick from binging on bad food.

But a little planning and thinking ahead can help you avoid temptation, and arrive at your destination feeling healthy, happy, and ready to explore! Get yourself a good, study plastic lunch box, and raid your kitchen!

Delicious nibbles

There are lots of snacks you can tuck away for later. A selection of mixed nuts will give you a protein boost that will fill you up for longer. Babybel mini cheeses can be combined with some light gluten free crackers to make a filling lunch. Make yourself a small fruit salad by dicing a few fruits, or if you’re not flying you can make a homemade smoothie and pour it in a travel flask. Slices of cucumber, combined with cherry tomatoes and some diced radish, make an easy salad.

If crisps or chocolate are your vice, then pack healthier versions from the supermarket. Vegetable crisps are healthier than regular ones, as are spiced mini rice balls. Packing cereal bars can help with your sweet tooth, or bake yourself a healthier alternative a few days before you leave, such as apple and oat muffins.

Coping with Kids

Your tinies may not be good travellers at the best of times, and when they’re hungry they’re even worse! Packing a selection of nibbles will help stave off a tantrum, and keep them quiet while they eat. Carrot sticks, apple slices, homemade fruit flapjacks, packets of raisins, and some plain chicken wrapped up in a flour tortilla, can be easily eaten in the back of a car or on a train.
Simply giving yourself a few days to plan and prepare can make all the difference. Your travel plans won’t be a surprise, your food shouldn’t be either!

What to Look for in a Good Travel Credit Card

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When you go travelling, it is so important to have access to enough cash to pay for all of those cocktails, delicious dinners, scuba diving experience and the all important hotel room. That is why a travel credit card is a good idea. But, what should you look for in a good travel credit card? Below is a handy guide.

One very important thing to look for is the interest rate and the fees associated with using the card. A good travel credit card will enable you to use it abroad without incurring payment fees (these fees almost always need to be paid if you use a debit card abroad) and it will also have a low interest rate. If you are taking out a credit card just for a few months to use on holiday with the intention of not using it afterwards, one handy trick is to opt for a card that offers 0% interest for the first few months of use. That way, you can use a credit card without being charged for it.

Another factor to take into account is the security of your card. Will your credit card provider guarantee that they will protect your money if your card is stolen? Do you have access to telephone support or online banking whilst you are abroad?

Finally, do check out if any of the travel credit cards you are thinking of taking out come with any extras. It is not uncommon for credit cards to bring with them free travel and health insurance policies, for example. That means that you will not need to spend any extra cash on insuring your belongings when you head off on holiday.

Now, you are ready to use your travel credit card. Remember not to spend any more than you can pay back.

Five Ways to Make Extra Cash Whilst Travelling

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We have all been there, you head out into the world with the money you’ve worked hard to save, only to find that it doesn’t quite stretch far enough to fuel your wanderlust entirely. Well, here are five ways to earn a little extra money to help keep you moving.

Work in your Hostel

It’s always worth asking at your hostel if they have any work available. Hostels will often give guests a couple of hours work at the front desk and will usually pay you, or at the very least let you stay for a couple of nights for free.

Teach a Language

There is a lot of demand for language tutors. A good way to make some extra money is to put up signs offering language tutoring on notice boards. These one-to-one casual lessons often take place in cafes and won’t feel like work at all.

Work in a Bar

Getting a couple of casual shifts in each destination you have lined up will definitely ease the financial burden. And if you are not strong with languages, then there are always Irish or Australian pubs around that are used to travelling English speakers looking for a few casual shifts.

Travel Writing

If you have a way with words, there is always a market for good travel writing. Start your own blog, send pieces to known travel writing websites, look online for freelance opportunities that will take your writing and pay you for it.

Au Pair

There are many agencies online and even more families looking for Au Pairs for their children. Whether it’s just to look after the kids after school, or help to develop their language skills, it shouldn’t be a problem finding a job and you will receive payment or a place to sleep in return.

How to Start a Travel Blog

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Travel blogging, exploring the world, logging your experiences, and sharing them with thousands of internet users who want to visit the places you write about. Can it get any better? Well yes; if you’re good, very good, you can make a living from it as well. So how do you start a money making travel blog?

Choose a Domain Name

Your domain name will be your websites name; or your author pseudonym if you like. Keep it short and keep it memorable. Two of the best known and best read travel bloggers are nomadicmatt and expertvagabond. How about <i>travelinghobo.com</i>? My apologies if it’s already out there, but you get the picture.

Choosing a Host for Your Blog

You may have already started blogging about your travels using one of the free blogging sites available such as Blogger.com or WordPress.com. All good experience, but if you want to make money, unfortunately that’s all they are – good experience.

Use a hosting site like BlueHost or Hostgator, very popular, and relatively cheap. Once you’ve picked your host, pick a plan for a few pounds a month.

Install WordPress Software

WordPress is the undisputed leader of blogging platforms. Follow the on-screen instructions on your chosen host and install it to your domain name, in this example, <i>travellinghobo.com.</i>

Once WordPress is installed there are thousands of plug-ins available to give you an all singing-all dancing blog, but don’t go overboard. Get used to how everything works, and then add plug-ins that you really need.

Social Media is the Key

Unfortunately, those thousands of visitors you’re aiming for don’t just appear. You have to encourage them. Get established on as many social media platforms as you can. Adding short synopses of your blogs, photographs and short videos will help attract all that traffic.

You don’t have to wait for your first expedition as a fledgling travel blogger to get something on your website. Recall your first family holiday, or first solo adventure abroad, or preparations you are making for that first trip. They will help your audience get to know you, and give you some hands-on practise of how your blog works. Good luck – and happy travel blogging.