Travel Tips

Travel tips to make that trip just a little bit better! Link at the bottom to a very interesting read on 10 mistakes not to make when travelling solo.

Slow Down

Slow down and spend more time in places.  Donโ€™t rush from site to site but take your time and enjoy the views, sounds and smells.  Take a seat in a cafe and have a cool drink and watch the world go by.  Try and stay an extra night to really get a feel of the place and enjoy the daily life.

slow down

Wake Up Early

This is the best time to miss the crowds so set that alarm and force yourself up! (Even though you are on holiday to relax!) Sites are usually empty first thing and you can enjoy a lovely early morning walk through the area just watching the locals go about their daily business.  This is also a good time to take pictures as there wonโ€™t be people or too much traffic getting in the way and you often have the best light.

Take Pictures

Itโ€™s nice to put the phone or the camera away at times and enjoy life without spending your day looking through a viewfinder. Sometimes it’s also great to enjoy life through a lens, so get out your camera or phone and start snapping.  In some countries there are society rules about things that you can photograph so do your research as you donโ€™t want to end up in trouble!  If you want to take a picture of a person, just ask! Itโ€™s best to buy something from the person you have photographed if they are selling something or give them a tip.

Taking a picture

Donโ€™t Be Discouraged

If something goes wrong donโ€™t worry! It might be a missed train or something has closed or you got your dates wrong.  Usually something even better will come out of it.  Just take a few minutes to re-group, maybe sit on a bench or find a cafe and go through your options.  Donโ€™t stress and everything will be fine.

Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Donโ€™t feel that you have to and donโ€™t allow someone to pressure you into doing something that you donโ€™t want to do, but sometimes it can be nice to do or try something that you normally might not.  That could be a hot air balloon ride, cage diving with sharks, a cooking class in Thailand or maybe even a bungee jump (check its safe though). Go for it and enjoy yourself!

diving into the ocean

Write Down The Hotel Address

This always comes in handy.  Either write it down and save it on your phone or write it down and put it in your bag. Sometimes a hotel will have a little card saying the address in the language of country so ask just in case (and take a picture!)  Sometimes you might have to ask someone for directions or show the address to a taxi driver.  Helpful if you have it to hand!

Eat Away From Tourist Attractions

You donโ€™t have to go far but just wander for a few streets (or more if you want!) Iโ€™ve always found that food is cheaper away from the main tourist attractions and just as nice, if not nicer.  I think it caters more for locals the further away from the attraction you go.  A little trick of mine is to see where all the locals are eating.  If somewhere is very popular with locals then the food must be good, so why donโ€™t you try there?

glass of wine

Explore Transport Options

A lot of people seem to want to jump into the nearest taxi.  But this can be expensive, the taxi gets stuck in traffic and can become very hot and stuffy.  Usually trains and buses are very easy to use and cost just a fraction of the price, so ,if possible, check these out.

horse and sleigh

Travel Insurance

Always buy travel insurance no matter how short or long your trip is.  Something may happen and youโ€™ll be so glad you have it.  A flight could be cancelled, connections missed and hotel reservations also missed because of this.  Travel insurance will normally cover the cost. Read the small print! Another example is injury.  Say you managed to break a bone (as I did a few years ago whilst boarding a boat in Malaysia) or you sustain injury somehow.  Without insurance this could cost you thousands of Dollars so make sure you have insurance to cover this.  Insurance will also cover you if something is lost or stolen, so bear this in mind!

Travel Light

The worst thing in the world is having to drag a heavy and cumbersome bag around.  Every time you are packing something ask yourself, do I really need this?  Packing cubes are good for this.  You can organise your belongings and its easy to roll up and fold clothes into small squares so they fit in more easily.  Always put liquids in a plastic bag, you never know if they might leak!

From experience Iโ€™ve learned that its good to always travel with a scarf or a sarong.  A scarf is small and fits in your bag easily and may be needed to cover your head when entering a religious building.  A sarong can be used as a beach cover up or if you need to cover your legs.  One more thing, donโ€™t forget your suncream! Bear in mind that at a higher altitude, the air is thinner and the sun is stronger. Itโ€™s best to have it just in case.  It is also a good idea to take a set of bamboo cutlery with you, in case you plan to just buy a meal from the supermarket to eat in your room in the evening.  I bought a set after a memorable occasion when I ended up eating a salad with a cocktail stick! You can find a similar set here on amazon. For packing cubes, also have a look on amazon

suitcase

Research The Country

I find that its always best to know a little something about where you are visiting.  As a keen photographer I always research the best photography spots.  Iโ€™ll also find out what the local food is and what can be bought there.  I also always check the FCO website as this gives advice about whether travelling to a particular destination is possible, what vaccinations and visas are needed, if there has been any trouble, local customs and natural disasters such as earthquakes.  If you can, learn โ€˜pleaseโ€™ and โ€˜thank youโ€™ (or more!) in the local language.  That always goes down well.

map reading

Treat Yourself

This is your trip so treat yourself.  If you want to eat in the expensive restaurant which has the gorgeous view then eat there!  If you want to buy that beautiful but slightly expensive mirror in the souq in Morocco then buy it!  Its always nice to have a souvenir for memories of your trip. 

Treating yourself could also run to having your hair washed and blow dried at the local salon.  This can be very cheap and an experience in itself.  On a trip to Burma I visited the hair salon in the village.  The tap was outside, so the lady leaned through the window and filled up a bucket with cold water and proceeded to wash my hair with it.  Then the power failed and she was unable to dry it!  All in all it was a very enjoyable experience and something you probably never see in the UK!

Local Food

I always make a point of trying the local food.  It usually is very good and nice to try and immerse yourself in the country that you are visiting.  And where else could you try the traditional cuisine of that particular country? Bologna does the best pasta I have ever tasted and it was even better as I tried a type Iโ€™d never had before. Cornwall does amazing Cornish pasties, and the tacos and enchiladas in Mexico are to die for!  Chicken Kiev in Kiev, Yakitori and sushi in Japan and Turkish kebabs in Turkey to name a few.  If youโ€™re heading to Australia, light up that barbie for a steak!

If you are near a port or the sea, try the fresh fish cooked in the local style, itโ€™s bound to be good!  However, I do draw the line at trying roasted guinea pig in Peru and tarantulas in Cambodia.  A girl has to have her limits!

food

Stay In Touch

Always stay in touch with the people you love and who care about it.  It doesnโ€™t have to be much, just a simple text a day just to let people know that youโ€™re okay.

If Iโ€™m on a different time zone and the UK is much further ahead, I always make a point of texting my parents when I arrive back at the hotel.  They will be asleep but like to wake up to a message to know Iโ€™m safe.

phone

Entertainment Materials

Its good to have something to do on a flight, a long train or bus journey or if you have a long wait somewhere.  A tablet is small and lightweight and you can download lots of things onto this to watch.  My favourite is a kindle as Iโ€™m an avid reader.  It is small, easy to carry and best of all I can carry loads of reading material around with me.  The kindle app can also be downloaded onto a tablet or iPhone.

kindle

Free Walking Tours

This is a really good way to the city and to get some steps in at the same time.  Most cities will offer several and I have always found the guide to be entertaining and knowledgeable.  As it is free the only way the guides earn is through tips so always leave one at the end, they will have earned it.  It doesnโ€™t have to be much, maybe just $5 but it is always appreciated. See my Handy Travel Apps page for details about free walking tours.

boots

Back Up Photos

Always back up your pictures! Save them to iCloud if you just have a phone with you or if youโ€™re travelling with a laptop then save them to a flash drive.ย  Youโ€™ll be gutted if you lose them!

This is a really interesting read on mistakes not to make when travelling solo:

https://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/solo-travel/solo-travel-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them