12 Pro Tips for Travelling South East Asia: Before You Go & When You Arrive

We have put together 12 pro tips for travelling to South East Asia including 6 pro tips for before you go and 6 pro tips for when you arrive. These are a few key things we wish we had known prior to our first trip to South East Asia and now, after countless trips to this incredible side of the world, we feel these are something every first-time traveller should know.

Before You Go

1. Pack Light 

When travelling to South East Asian countries, the weather will be HOT so the last thing you want to be doing is carrying around a huge backpack/suitcase packed with expensive clothes you probably won’t end up wearing anyway. In Asia, clothes are super cheap, which means you can pick up vests, t-shirts, shorts, dresses etc. for the equivalent of a couple of pound. They are often lightweight too, which makes them perfect for the local weather. Plus, you won’t have to worry about losing or ruining these clothes as they can easily be replaced. However, the sizes are often pretty small so make sure you try the first few items on to get a feel for the size that you need and make sure you are comfortable wearing them before buying lots of items. 

2. Don’t Over Plan 

One of the great things about travelling is all the people you will meet along the road who will open your eyes to places you might not have even considered before. Therefore, although it’s good to have a rough plan on places you want to go and things you want to see, leaving a bit of wiggle room for a change of plans and spontaneity could lead to the experience of a life time. When we travelled to Bali, Indonesia, for the first time, it was only when we arrived that we found out about the beautiful Gili Islands. As we had already booked our flight out of Bali and are next accommodation, we could only squeeze in a one day excursion to the islands! We did return the next year though…check out our photo highlights here.  

3. Get Travel Insurance 

A wise man always travels with insurance. No matter how long or short the trip, having the right cover is as much of an essential as accommodation. There are many factors to consider including which destinations you plan to travel to, what activities you plan on doing, and how long you plan on travelling for. Therefore, ensure you provide as much accurate information as possible when deciding on your insurance. Our go-to site is compare the market as it makes it super easy to compare between various travel insurance providers to ensure you get the right cover. 

4. Get Relevant Vaccinations 

Depending on what you plan to do and where you plan to go when you arrive in South East Asia will determine which vaccinations you will need. For example, if you plan to spend a lot of time in Thailand’s jungle, you will likely need malaria prevention, among many others. However, if you plan on staying in the inner city, this likely won’t be a requirement. Prior to travelling, ensure you visit your local doctor and provide as much information as you can with regard to your travel plans as this will ensure you get the vaccinations you need. If you are unsure whether you will visit the jungle but it’s a possibility, it’s better to be safe than sorry and get the vaccination anyway. That way, you won’t have to miss out on any spontaneous trips for these reasons. 

5. Have Some Local Currency 

It’s always handy to have some of the local currency when arriving in a new country so you can grab essentials such as transport to your hotel and food and drinks. Plus, it might take some time to find a local currency exchange so having enough cash to get you through a day or two is recommended. It might be a good idea to change extra cash as you need it so that you are not travelling with lots of money on your persons. This can be more secure and should you lose your cash, you will always have a back-up with the money in your bank. Plus, you can often get better rates when exchanging cash locally in South East Asian countries.  

6. Get to Know the Visa Requirements 

Each destination you visit will likely have different visa requirements and it’s important you are aware of the regulations before you arrive. Often countries require you to have the visa in place before you arrive at the airport, while others (e.g. Thailand, Indonesia) allow you to complete a short form when you arrive at the airport and get your visa upon arrival. This is often for short stays (e.g. 1-3 months), however, it always depends on the country that your passport was issued, so it’s really important that you check out the guidelines on the country’s official government website in advance of visiting to ensure you have the correct documentation in place. 

 

When You Arrive

1. Educate Yourself on the Local Culture and Respect It 

South East Asia is beaming with culture that is very different to what you may be used to, specially if you are travelling from Western countries such as the UK, Europe or America. It’s important that we remain with respect when visiting these countries and particularly when visiting religious monuments such as temples and statues. Educate yourself on the local culture prior to arrival and then practice it when you are at the destination. There is plenty of information available on official government websites and travel blogs so you shouldn’t go short on places to find reliable information.

2. Agree a Taxi Price before You Get In  

It’s always best to agree a taxi price before you get in the taxi and specially before you arrive at your location to ensure you get the best and most accurate price for the trip. Not all taxi drivers will try to take advantage of travellers, but just like in many other countries around the world, there is the possibility that this could happen in South East Asia. Therefore, we recommend agreeing a price before you set off on your journey and ensuring you are aware of the local conversion rate would help too. 

3. Always Pay for an Air Conditioned Room 

Although South East Asia has its storms and wet weather, it is renowned for its intense heat and humidity, something we from the UK might not be all too familiar with. It remains hot at night too, so make sure the room you are staying in is well air conditioned (and that the air conditioning actually works, well!), otherwise you could be in for a rather uncomfortable night, which could impede on your plans the next day if you end up super tired from lack of sleep. 

4. Learn How to Bargain for a Good Price  

Bargaining for the best price in Asia is expected, specially in the local markets – it’s part of the South East Asian culture. Therefore, you should become comfortable with haggling and never accept the first price offered by the seller. They know the price is too high and they expect you to try and get a better price. A rule of thumb is that you should pay around half the original price offered by the seller. But, it’s always wise to shop around and see what others are asking for the same item, then you can price compare and make a confident purchase decision. 

5. If You Rent a Scooter, Ensure You Take Pictures of it Before You Leave  

It’s great fun renting a scooter in South East Asia. You can easily explore the wonderful places at your own leisure and get off the beaten track to seek out quiet beaches and local bars and eateries. The price isn’t too bad either and for the equivalent of a couple of UK£/US$ per day (this varies depending on location), you can often take the scooter wherever you want, just as long as you bring it back in the same condition as when you rented it. Because you often have to provide your passport and hotel details, we highly recommend taking pictures of the scooter outside the rental place before you leave. That way, the existing damages are evident so you can’t be accused or charged for something that you didn’t do. Always lock the scooter up outside your hotel or when going for food and drinks because if it gets stolen, it’s your responsibility. Also, if you do plan on hiring a scooter, quad bike or car for example, ensure you have an international drivers license as its against the law to drive without one in South East Asia and your travel insurance won’t cover you. 

6. Ensure You Have Evidence of Onward Travel 

If you have a 30 days visa, you will be expected to provide evidence of your onward travel after the last date so although it’s always good to plan loosely not precisely, it’s always best to have some form of transport arranged for your exit from that specific country. Failing to do so might result in you being restricted access from entering the country or leaving the country you are already in to travel to the country you are aiming to go to. For example, you might be restricted from leaving Australia to get to Indonesia if your visa in Indonesia is 30 days and you don’t have proof of onward travel from Indonesia after the 30 day period. 

Have you got any more tips that should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below and we will add them on, with credit to yourself and your blog!

7 Tips on Travelling as a Couple

Travelling as a couple can be a wonderful thing. You can create so many amazing memories together by exploring new places, taking on new challenges, trying new activities, gaining new skills and meeting new people. It can really make your relationship but it also has the potential to break it if you let it.

Just think, you will be  spending every day together meaning that you will essentially be living out of each others pockets. But fear not, we have been travelling together as a couple for almost seven years now and have got the perfect tips that are guaranteed to make every adventure together as a travelling couple a great one.

The secrets are to have patience and a flexible mindset, try new things and don’t forget to laugh along the way, make decisions as a team and learn how to compromise, beware of tiredness, and make special time for yourselves, for each other and also to make new friends.

1. Have patience and a flexible mindset

While on the road, you will likely find yourselves in many challenging situations, both mentally and physically. People deal with such situations differently and it’s important to know yourself and your partner well enough to understand how you and he/she will react and deal with these situations. By doing so, you will then be able to respond accordingly and allow patience to kick in. Try not to blame your partner for a situation that cannot be changed and remember that things don’t always go to plan and everything always happens for a reason.

For example, Brett and I have missed many a flight over the years. This particular time, we where travelling from Bali to Kuala Lumpur (KL) hours before his 21st birthday when our flight was cancelled for the foreseeable future due to volcanic ash. Naturally, Brett was upset thinking we would have to spend his 21st birthday in Bail airport. Rather than reacting the same or becoming angry at our cancelled flight (after all, volcanic ash is completely out of either our control), I quickly booked an equally luxurious hotel in Bali and arranged our transport so we could settle in ahead of his birthday.

Within an hour we where in our hotel robes ordering room service with big smiles on our faces. Looking back, it is clear that it must of happened for a reason. We obviously weren’t supposed to be on that flight or spend his birthday in KL. By remaining calm, having a flexible mindset and making the most of a bad situation, we were able to have a great time with our alternative plans.

2. Try new things and don’t forget to laugh and have fun along the way 

Travelling is all about new adventures and it’s also a great way to step out of your comfort zone with your partner and have a good laugh together. You could try various water sports or unusual foods, just keep in mind that the main point is you both remaining lighthearted and having fun. Who care’s if you can’t do a particular activity? The joy comes form trying and not taking life too seriously.

For example, when we were in Dubai, Brett and I tried fly boarding for the first time together (FYI, it’s as difficult as it looks!). Neither of us had any skills and could barely get out of the water for the first 15 minutes, but we had so much fun and were crying with laughter at one another while trying. The joy came from not mastering a new skill, but from trying something new and challenging together and creating shared memories that we can look back and laugh about for the rest of our lives. 

3. Make team decisions and learn how to compromise  

When travelling together, you will not only have someone to do new and exciting things with, you will also have someone to share the big decisions. Taking one another’s ideas and opinions into consideration and coming to a mutual decision is one of the great things about travelling as a couple. However, you both won’t always want to do everything the same, which means will have to learn to compromise and come to a mutual decision that suits you both. 

For example, an activity on my bucket list was to learn how to dive, however, Brett had never really considered it. Knowing how much it meant to me, we headed to the Gili islands in Indonesia in July 2018 for our first diving experience. At first, he wasn’t really enjoying it but after day two when he proved to himself what he could do he was so happy. On day three, we were both awarded our PADI Open Water certificate. Now, he can’t wait to get back into the water and continue our diving journey.  

You just never know if you will love or hate an experience until you’ve tried it. So try to be open minded with your partner’s suggestions and compromise where necessary.  Your partner will love you for giving a little bit and trying something for them.   

4. Don’t let tiredness ruin your day 

It’s easy to become over tired when you are travelling. Early morning flights and late nights combined with sleeping in various beds that aren’t your own leads to irregular sleeping patterns. Add to this long days exploring new destinations plus warmer or cooler weather than you are used to back home means you can and will get very tired very quickly while on the road. 

The key thing is to stay light-hearted and remember you are both likely feeling the same way. Tiredness can make a person more emotional and more sensitive than perhaps they tend to be day-to-day, so take this on board and try to treat your partner accordingly. Given that you will likely be a long way from home and from your loved ones, it’s important you come together at tough times and remind each other that you are in this together and you are both feeling the same.

Show them a little love and take a day to do nothing but relax together. You could take a spa day or simply lay by the pool. Sometimes it can be hard to slow down when you’ve been on the go for so long, your mind might be in overdrive. But, it’s important to take at least one day every now and then to simply relax and recharge your batteries. It will make a world of difference to the rest of your journey. 

5. Make friends outside the two of you 

When travelling as a couple, it’s very easy to remain just the two of you, to be hesitant to make friends and share the experience with groups of single individuals or even other couples. It’s natural to behave this way and in order to change it, you’ve really got to recognise it and challenge it. Speaking to people and making friends while travelling can make your trip together so much more enjoyable and memorable and can even open up opportunities you might never have dreamed of possible.

People are fascinating and when travelling, you will meet people from all corners of the world, from various lifestyles and upbringing, it seems a shame not to make the most of getting to know these people. They might share travel tips and expose you to destinations, activities or travel hacks you didn’t think of. You might never have these opportunities again and who knows, you might even make friends for life, or even continue your journey as a couple travelling with your new found friends. 

6. Take time to yourself 

Equally important as making new friends is taking time to yourself. In our previous post, we spoke about how travelling as a couple can test your relationship because you will spend every moment with this person. This can either make or break your relationship but if you’re like us and value your alone time, it’s important to make time for this in order to (potentially) save your relationship and any silly arguments deriving from limited alone time. It’s not that spending too much time together is bad, it’s just that being in solitude is equally important to clear your mind and it has even been linked to increased happiness, better life satisfaction, improved stress management, and less depression.

So, even if you don’t want to split up for safety reasons, you can still have your alone time. For example, one could be taking a swim in the pool while the other relaxes with a book on the loungers. One could be having a cocktail by the bar while the other hits the gym. Don’t take offence if your partner wants some times to his/herself, its only human nature. 

7. Take time together by arranging a weekly date night  

So you have made time for yourselves and you’ve taken time to make friends with other travellers and/or locals, which leads us to making time for each other. Essentially, you will be spending a lot of time together so it’s easy to lose track of the importance of creating special ‘date’ nights to really enjoy each others company. It doesn’t have be for a birthday or another special occasion, its simply just to switch off from the demands of life and travelling and enjoy being with one another.

For example, you could dress up and head to sky bar, enjoy a fancy dinner at a restaurant overlooking the ocean at sunset, take a sunset stroll with your feet in the sand, cook a dinner together, have a cosy night in, enjoy a few cocktails or go out for the night. Whatever it is, just make sure it’s just the two of you and you focus on nothing but each other. Making time for a date night each week can make your relationship much stronger and your travels together much more enjoyable. 

Although there are many challenges of travelling as couple, there are also abundant opportunities and benefits as well! What are your best tips for travelling as a couple?

Benefits & Challenges of Travelling on a Budget as a Couple (+ How to Overcome Those Challenges!)

Travelling as a couple has its own benefits and challenges. Unlike travelling alone, you always have someone with you to share the experiences with and together, you can plan and make decisions along the way. However, when travelling on a budget as a couple, there are certain things you might have to give extra thought to compared with travelling solo. For example, you might want some privacy at night, so staying in mixed-dorm hostels is off limits. Given that this is often the most affordable accommodation, it can be a bit more tricky to travel on a budget as a couple. Having done this for almost eight years now, we have gained plenty of experience on how you can enjoy taking on the world with your other half without breaking the bank. 

You can still stay in hostels, just pick them wisely

You can still stay in certain hostels, just make sure you do your research beforehand to check its suitable for couples. In other words, check they have private bedrooms with/without a private bathroom depending on your preferences. Also, you will have to book ahead to make sure you secure these type of rooms as they often sell out first and fast. 

Our first hostel experience as a couple was in Kuala Lumpur (KL) back in 2015. Our Malaysian friend picked us up from the airport and dropped us at Back Home where we stayed for 4 nights. Despite him warning us to ‘be careful roaming this area at night’, we had a great stay. We booked a private room and although the bathroom was shared, they were same sex facilities. The entire hostel was wonderfully designed, clean and offered a delicious breakfast in the open roof terrace. We had a great first-time hostel experience as a couple here and would highly recommend it if you are travelling to KL. There are many hostels around the world just like Back Home and we recommend checking out Hostel World  or Booking.com for the best deals.

Costs can always be halved 

When two become one, often they share or split finances. This can come in handy when booking accommodation because it’s always more affordable for two people than one. Just a quick search on Booking.com will show you that the price for a 1 person room and a 2 person room doesn’t differ all that much. Therefore, you can always split the costs down the middle and benefit from savings over time. 

You don’t have to split the costs on everything though. For example, Brett often spends a lot more on food and drinks than me, therefore, we tend to pay for our own rather than split the bill down the middle. He also likes to spend on souvenirs from the places we visit whereas I save my extra cash for Yoga classes and facials. Therefore, splitting costs in certain areas while remaining with a spare savings pot for yourselves could make the trip more enjoyable because you can still indulge on things separately. After all, just because you are a travelling couple, you are still independent from one another with your own interests and things you want to spend your hard earned cash on. 

Safety in numbers 

One of the great things about travelling as a couple is that you will always have someone by your side. This means you will likely feel safer in general and especially when travelling off the beaten track. There are certain budget locations throughout the world that have a reputation for being dangerous for female solo travellers (e.g. India). So travelling with your partner could really take the edge off and allow you to experience these beautiful locations where your money can be stretched much further. 

Of course, never take your guard down fully. Just because you are with someone else doesn’t mean nothing can happen so always remain aware of this. It’s just more comforting and reassuring to have someone there with you. That being said, travelling as a couple can also test your relationship. You will be spending the majority of every day with this person, so it will likely either make or break your relationship. For this reason, ensure you make time for yourselves. For example, one could be relaxing by the pool while the other is taking a dip in the ocean.   

Stay in an AirBnB and cook

Staying in an AirBnB is a great option for couples because it provides you with all the space and facilities you could need to really make yourselves at home. One of the best things is that you can have a night in and cook your favourite meals. This can be an adventure in itself: finding the local supermarket, experimenting with local produce and figuring out the new apartment. You can even light some candles and make a romantic night in with a movie and wine. 

Plus, dining in will save you lots of money compared with eating out. You can even prepare breakfast before you head out for the day and a lunch to take with you. That way, you can also keep track on what you are eating which helps towards keeping fit and healthy while on the road.

Save costs on travel essentials and suitcase fees 

Often hotels provide basic toiletries so you don’t have to carry much. However, if you prefer to take your own, or even just for those little extras, it’s always great to share them in order to save suitcase space and money while on the road. Also, sharing a suitcase means you only have to pay to check one bag in. This can come in really handy when you are travelling on short-haul flights where the bag check-in fee is often pretty hefty. Plus, you will only have to lug around one big bag between the two of you. It’s a win, win!

Although travelling on a budget as couple has its challenges, don’t let them put you off because the rewards outweigh them by far. There is nothing that cannot be done without a little planning and preparation. Therefore, if you follow the simple tips throughout this guide, you can easily save money together while on the road, which means you can travel further for longer or spend your extra cash in other areas.

Where to find the best flight deals to anywhere in the world

Who doesn’t love to save money on flights? If you can get the same economy seat for up to half price less, you would be silly not too, right? Fortunately, there are many businesses out there who have made this process easier by being dedicated to searching thousands of websites each day in order to bring you the best cheap flight deals to locations all over the world.

However, it’s up to you to be savvy with your online search. Don’t just settle for the price provided directly from specific airlines such as Emirates or Qatar without exploring your options first. The websites below draw on thousands, if not millions, of travel websites in order to present you with the best flight deals. Saving money on flights has never been easier!

1. Jacks Flight Club

Jacks Flight Club is one of our favourite websites to find cheap flight deals because they always have the cheapest and most convenient flight deals to great locations such as Los Angeles or Hong Kong. The biggest savings tend to be on long-haul trips where members can save over £400 per ticket. However, they also offer short weekend-trips to destinations such as those in Europe from over 50 airports in the UK.  By scanning both long-haul and budget airline websites, you can rest assured knowing you are getting the best deal of the moment when booking with Jacks Flight Club.

This company have been featured in Lonely Planet and major news channels including The Telegraph and The Independent for their ability to find discounts, hidden offers and error fares. Becoming a member of Jacks Flight Club is easy. Simply sign up to their mailing list for free using the link above and you will receive the latest, exclusive deals twice a week straight to your inbox. They also offer a premium membership for those looking to get up to four times more flight deals and perks than free members.

2. Momondo

Momondo is a global travel search site that compares multiple cheap flights as well as hotel, care hire, and package deals. Although it doesn’t sell these directly, it draws on hundreds of websites to provide you with the best available prices so that you can compare and contrast yourself and book the most suitable one for you. This leaves you in total control of your booking and allows you to see whether flying direct would cost you twice as much as changing flights in transit.

Momondo have been featured in many leading media such as Forbes and have won awards for their work including Best Meta Search Engine and Best Airfare Search, which leaves no doubt that you will find great deals through this website. The site is free to use and will always lead you to the company selling the best deal, rather than booking direct through Momondo.

3. Cheap Flights

Cheap Flights is owned by Kayak and although it doesn’t sell flights directly similar to Momondo, it provides a platform that brings together great flight, hotel, and package deals from various travel agents all into one website. You can often find bargains on here including last minute cheap flights. Make sure you sign up to their mailing list to receive offers straight to your inbox to make sure you don’t miss out on the top steals.

4. Air Fare Watch Dog

Air Fare Watch Dog is good at finding airfare errors, that is, when an airline or travel agent accidentally lists a pricing mistake, which leads to them selling the ticket at a significantly lower rate than it’s worth. The mistake fare could be for a number of reasons such as currency conversion mistake, computer glitch, human error, or fuel surcharges. The trick is to find the error before the airline realises its been wrongly advertised.

Air Fare Watch Dog look for the best route including shorter flight times, limited stopovers, and top routes. They do this by searching thousands of routes, airlines, and hotels to find the best available deals at that time. Flight prices always change within minutes or hours, so it’s important to sign up to their mail list to receive instant alerts when they do so. If you see an absolute bargain, be sure to snap it up there and then otherwise you could miss out on the deal of a lifetime, and this goes for all the websites listed here.

5. Kiwi

Kiwi combines the prices from all airlines for your selected route and dates so you can easily compare and contrast the best deals. Because they look at alternative routes, such as indirect flights with multiple airlines, you can often find much cheaper deals than flying with just one specific airline. You can also download their mobile application so its easy to check for cheap flights while on the road.

Using these websites can help save you a fortune in the long run, especially if you are an avid traveller or on a year-long trip around the world. Just think how else you could spend those hundreds of pounds you have saved just by taking a little extra time to conduct more than one flight search…

How to change your hotel booking after ‘late cancellation’

Plans change. People can’t always make it, some get sick, flights get cancelled or delayed, and sometimes we just want to spend a little longer in the paradise we are in before we move on to our next destination. That’s what we call life! Life is unpredictable and especially when traveling, plans can (and sometimes have to) change, but that’s ok!

Unfortunately, when making online hotel bookings it’s not always possible to make changes free of charge after a specific date, particularly when booking via online booking agents such as Booking.com, Kayak, Hotels.com etc. This date can be anything from a few weeks prior up until the night before your anticipated arrival. Often when you try to cancel or modify your booking after this date via the company website, you will be informed that you cannot make changes at this point and in case of a no show (i.e. you don’t turn up) you will be charged the entire hotel fee.

We have found ourselves in this situation many times in various destinations and we are sure you have/will at some point in your lifetime too. Previously, we have taken it as a loss of finances believing that nothing can be done about the situation and the companies involved won’t understand/care or alter their ‘policies’ for one booking. After all, both the hotel and booking agent are running businesses and if the cancellation is too late the hotel likely won’t be able to fill that room meaning it’s either their loss or yours.

Here’s an example. When flying to Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia, from Bali, Indonesia, our flight was delayed due to volcanic ash clouds so we couldn’t leave the island for another few days. In KL, we had booked a luxury hotel for Brett’s birthday celebrations and already the date had passed for free cancellation. Rather than contacting the hotel and explaining our situation, we just took it as a loss of finances and was charged the full amount for the 4 night stay. This has happened numerous times including recently, which motivated this post as I found myself in this predicament again and was just certain there must be something we can do about it this time.

Recently, my sister and I planned to hike Snowdon at 1am on Summer Solstice to enjoy the sunrise views from atop the 1,000 metre high mountain at around 5.30am. Given that it’s the highest mountain in Wales and would have been my first night time hike, we trained moderately (I would like to say extensively but that would be a lie!), and went on as many walks as we could in the three months prior.

Anyway, one week before our anticipated hike I returned from a week long conference trip to Munich, Germany (you may have seen a few highlights on our Instagram @travellinguru_). I felt fine and hopped back into my daily routine of work, gym, yoga, until three days before the day we were due to hike, I became awfully rundown with flu-like symptoms.

Ever the optimist and not one for being beat by illness, I left it right until the night before we were due to leave for Snowdon until I admitted defeat. How could I hike the highest mountain in Wales when I couldn’t even walk upstairs without feeling breathless? Unfortunately, the date had passed where we could modify our booking free of charge so we were challenged with either paying the full amount or trying our luck to change the booking.

We tried our luck and got lucky! I want to share with you just how we did it because it’s super easy and to be honest, I was so surprised it worked because as I mentioned earlier, we thought policies were policies!

If you find yourself in the same situation, try following these three simple steps to change your hotel booking after the agreed modification date has passed when booked via a booking agent.

1. Contact the hotel

First, you need to contact the hotel and explain your situation. It is often better to contact them via telephone as you are almost guaranteed a response whereas emails can get passed on from employee to employee and often disregarded. For us, we explained how we would kindly like to request to change from a family room accommodating three people to a twin room accommodating two people as one of our group have fallen sick last minute and therefore cannot make the trip. It seemed silly to pay a 1/3 of a £200 per night hotel when I wasn’t even there!

Essentially, the conversation you have here will determine whether you continue to the next step as it really is up to the hotel whether they will honour your request or not. You may wish to express your concerns with the manager as they will have more power over the decision. Often hotels can be more understanding than you might initially think so it is always good to contact them and discuss your options. If the hotel agrees, move to step two.

2. Contact the booking agent

If you have booked your hotel through a third party such as Booking.com, Kayak, or Hotels.com, the hotel will likely inform you that it is your responsibility to arrange with the booking agent to make official changes to the booking. In this case, the booking agent could potentially charge an admin fee, but this will depend on the company policy.

Again, contacting via telephone is best and often the only way to get in contact with these kind of companies. You might be able to use an online chat room on the company website. However, this could delay the process and will likely lead you to phoning an actual human being to clarify the details later on. At this point, make sure you have your booking details to hand including your confirmation number, pin code (if appropriate e.g. on Booking.com), contact details of the person who made the booking (including name, address, email and contact number), and details of the modifications you want to make (e.g. date, room size etc.).

Confirm with the booking agent that the hotel have agreed to alter your booking, however, they requested that the booking agent officially makes these changes and resends the booking confirmation to you and the hotel with the new details. At this stage, any admin fees and change in price will be calculated and should be clearly discussed before confirming the new arrangements.

3. Booking agent confirms with hotel

The booking agent will then contact the hotel to confirm that the hotel have agreed to allow these changes. If you are speaking on the phone to the booking agent, you will likely be put on hold while they contact the hotel. However, if they cannot reach them at that moment, they will send an email with the details to the hotel and you will have to wait for the response via email.

If contact is successful, the booking agent should confirm this and you should be sent a new booking confirmation via email with the modified booking details including change of date/price etc. where applicable.

If contact is unsuccessful and you are still waiting for the email after 24 hours, it might be best to follow the process again and see whether it has been confirmed. It might be that the hotel have disregarded or forgotten about the email so it is best to have the booking agent try again.

Also, make sure you change the booking before you check in because once you’ve checked in, it makes it a lot more difficult to modify your booking, especially if you have paid upon arrival.

Although you might not be successful each time you wish to modify a booking past the agreed date, it’s certainly worth a try given that policies and people are different from once place to the next. If you can potentially save some money while on your travels, it’s certainly worth a shot, right? We will definitely be using this method on our future travels.

How Travelling Could Lead to Opportunities that Change Your Life for the Better

Whether you are away for a few months or a few years, travelling the world could open up many doors for you in terms of developing your self, your relationships and your career and ultimately change your life for the better. With much more leisure time at your disposal and with you being exposed to various cultures and ways of living, you might find yourself with a fresh perspective on what you want and need out of life and your future goals. You will also meet people from diverse backgrounds, which could lead to various opportunities.

Here are just five potential opportunities that could arise while you are travelling and things to consider if you are travelling with intent to start your own business, network and/or advance your career, meet someone new and start a new life abroad, develop your interpersonal skills and worldly knowledge or discover your calling.

1. Set up your own business  

With all that time on your hands to ponder and explore, you might be inspired to start your own business while on the road or return home to set up said business. While travelling, there are many ways you can start making money. For example, you might start blogging about your adventures and inspiring others to take the leap and travel the world too. You might specialise in how to backpack on a budget in South America or how to travel the states with a family.

Whatever it is, you can learn ways to monetise your blog such as affiliate marketing or developing ebooks and online courses. The latter two could even develop into an online business in their own right. If you start your business while on the road, this could result in you continuing your travels for much longer than anticipated because you will be earning money to keep you going.

2. Networking and advance your career

One of the beauty’s of travelling the world is that you never know who you might meet. The world is full of fascinating people that you might never have met if you had stayed within the vicinity of your home town. Meeting people is a great way to make lifelong friends but also you never know what opportunities might present themselves in terms of advancing your career.

For instance, you might meet someone who has their own business and is looking for a freelance designer or writer to join their team, which just so happens to be your area of expertise. You might even meet a local business owner who has the perfect job opportunity for you, or you could build a network and meet the ideal employer through this network and land yourself that dream job in Australia. There are so many opportunities in this area and this is just one of the many reasons why it’s a great idea to get chatting to others and develop friendships and connections while you are travelling.

3. Meet someone new and start a new life abroad 

So many of our friends have gone travelling to South East Asia and Australia and either met someone out there and started a new life, or returned home with a partner they have met while travelling. For example, our friend from a small town in the High Peaks National Park, UK, travelled all around South East Asia where he met his South Korean girlfriend. Together, they continued their adventures and went on to Australia before finally returning to the UK almost a year later.

While his South Korean girlfriend spoke limited English when they met, after spending so much time together travelling, she developed her English language skills and he can now hold a conversation in Korean. Not only have each of them learnt a new language, they have built memories that will last a lifetime and met someone they could potentially spend the rest of their life with. Who knows whether they will end up living in the UK or Korea, or somewhere completely different. The point is that when travelling you never know who you might meet and where that could lead too. But the chances are it could lead you to moving abroad and embracing a completely different culture and way of life, beyond anything you ever imagined.

4. Develop interpersonal skills and worldly knowledge

Whether you are barely in your 20’s or you are far into your 30’s, 40’s or more, taking a trip around the world will open you up to new experiences, which will deepen your worldly knowledge. If you go alone or with friends, you will grow as a person, such as developing your own independence, learning how to take time to yourself, learning a new skill, or gaining the confidence to make new friends and try new things. There’s just something about being out of your home country that makes you able to push your mental boundaries and take more risks. As a result, you will surprise yourself at how outgoing you really are and how many things you are actually willing to experience. For example, you might never have dreamed of skydiving, however, in a new land and with new friends, you might have the spontaneity within you to take that plunge.

5. Discover your calling  

During your time travelling, your perspective on life and your goals might change because of two reasons. First, you will have plenty of time to ponder and rediscover your inner self in terms of your interests, passion, things that are most important to you, and the overall direction you want your life to take. Second, you will be exposed to new cultures and ways of living, some that may be much less privileged than your life back home, which could lead to you appreciating the ‘smaller’ things in life. Both of us and the majority of our friends who are well travelled have returned with much more content and self-awareness and understanding of themselves and the world around them.

There are many opportunities that could potentially arise while you are travelling the world. They will present themselves in various ways and it’s up to you to grab a hold and make the most of them. By doing so, you will have a much richer and meaningful travelling experience and could change your life in wonderful ways.

 

How to Overcome the Fear of Leaving Daily Life Behind to Travel the World

Leaving your routine life behind to travel the world can be a little daunting to see the least. You may or may not love your life back home, you will likely have friends and family, and many responsibilities such as bills to pay and/or children. You might even be on your way to building a successful career or be well established and be wondering whether your chance for such success will come again. These responsibilities of daily life and fears of what the future holds can make the decision to up sticks and travel the world seem like a huge risk and lead to many feelings of anxiousness, worry, and ultimately lead to fear of taking the leap and potentially never doing so.

However, if your dream of travelling the world is something you think of every day you should never give up on doing it. Life is short and our time as humans on planet Earth is extremely limited in the grand scheme of things.

One question to ask yourself is what do you want your story to be? Do you want to be telling stories to your grandchildren of how you spent most of your days working hard and taking the odd holiday every now and then? Or do you want to be the ultimate storyteller who travelled the world, meeting new faces each day, taking new risks and adventures even to that day?

If you prefer the first statement then that’s ok, but we’re presuming that as you’re reading this article, you’re the type of person who dreams for the second. Of course, being the ultimate storyteller comes as a result of the many adventures taken over the years, being the risk taker and the adventurer, and ultimately, living the dream you think about every single day.

Now, it’s not going to be easy and we understand you have your concerns. However, our six tips listed below might just be what you are looking for in order to take that leap. Interested? Read on.

1. Remember, you’re not the first person to up sticks and tour the world, and you’ll certainly not be the last  

Each year, millions of people of various demographic and socioeconomic background take the plunge and leave their daily routine behind to travel the world. That means you are not the first and you certainly won’t be the last. Indeed, others might have less risk than yourself in terms of financial, career or family commitments, but remember that everyone has their own challenges although they may differ from your own.

Also, if you think how many 18 year olds and recent graduates take a gap year, get up to all sorts of mischief and still return home in one piece, then we’re pretty sure you’ll be able to do it too. The many roads throughout the world are well established and well toured, which means you are following in the footsteps of other adventurers who have been there before. For some, this is all the reassurance and comfort they need but might not have realised yet.

2. Because you’re not the first, we can guarantee new friends will be plentiful

Because you’re not the first, we can almost guarantee you will meet plenty of people along the way in the same situation as you, travelling the world and anticipating new experiences and meeting new friends. People you meet on the road will likely become friends for life. This could be other travellers or local people of the many destinations you will visit. Either way, you will create long lasting friendships with people from all corners of the world and from different cultures than your own, which opens up many doors for deepening your worldly knowledge.

In current times, it’s much easier to stay connected with people wherever you are in the world, which means that you need never lose touch with friends you meet along the road, even when you go your separate ways. Who knows, in the future you might exchange visits to each other’s home countries, which could lead to you exploring destinations you might not have even thought of visiting previously. The best part, you will have your own personal local guide who knows the best places to visit, eat and drink, and that person will be your friend, which means the experience will be shared and much more enjoyable and memorable.

3. The media portrays the world to be much scarier than it really is

Switching on any major news channel will stimulate fear in anyone with half a heart. It’s purposefully developed in order to do so which makes the world outside your home country seem like a scary place, right? Remembering our parents and grandparents response when we took our first trip to South East Asia is a prime example. No one in either of our families had travelled further than Europe from the UK so the thought of us, a couple in our early 20’s and the babies of both families, taking our backpacks and heading to the other side of the world stimulated major fear in every family member.

Having never visited themselves, all our family had as source was the major media channels, which they have watched each day for many years with devastating stories of terrorism, missing travellers, and natural disasters. In their mind we were travelling to an underdeveloped and dangerous part of the world that travellers should not entertain. This couldn’t be further from the truth, which is evident given that South East Asia as we know it is booming with tourism that continues to grow in popularity year on year, and rightly so.

The moral of this story is that you shouldn’t believe everything you hear from the media and that fear is often a result of the unknown. Naturally, humans are creatures of habit and most feel comfort and security in what they know, that being their own home, town and daily routine. For some, this is fine. However, if you feel like you need to break free to live your dream life, know that the world is a wonderful place and as long as you keep your wits about you and use your common sense when travelling you should be fine. You will make so many memories and be content knowing that you lived your life the way you wanted to, taking risks and exploring this beautiful place we call home.

4. You’re more than capable to travel the world alone or with friends

You are much smarter and capable to travel the world than you and any one who doubts you may think so. All it takes is time and patience to conduct your research and plan your trip, and also a little self confidence in your ability to do so. As previously mentioned, many young adults and first-time travellers head out into the big wide world on their own and with friends and family each year, so why can’t you?

If you are unsure where to start, there are many resources on our blog that are useful for pre-trip planning such as:

  1. How to Budget in Daily Life So You Can Save Up to Travel the World
  2. How to Pack Smarter for Your Next Trip
  3. How to Live the High Life while Travelling on a Budget
  4. How to Find the Best Hotel Deals Anywhere in the World

5. Remember, nothings permanent 

You’ve been travelling the world for three months and now you are ready to go home. Perhaps you’ve seen everything you set out to see. You might have realised that life on the road isn’t for you because being around friends and family is more important than anything else. Maybe you set out on a mission of self-discovery and found it sooner than expected. Whatever your reason, know that returning home at any time is absolutely fine. Whether that’s one month, three months, or three years. The point is that you got up and went in the first place, which is much more than many other people have done.

Don’t be ashamed to return sooner than anticipated. We’re sure your loved ones will be celebrating with joy and you will return much more content getting on with your life knowing that you lived your dream for as long as you wanted to. We can almost guarantee you will have plenty of exciting stories to tell and will be referring back to them for the rest of your life. And who knows, in due course you might be ready to travel again. Maybe even somewhere different this time.

The best thing is, you’ve already done it once so you know three key things. One, you are more than capable to plan a trip around the world. Two, you most certainly have the courage and confidence to do so. Three, you are a doer, not a dreamer!

6. You have too many commitments that you can’t leave behind  

We all have commitments, some bigger and more complicated than others, but as the saying goes, “where there’s a will, there’s a way”, that’s for sure. The most common perceived barriers to travelling the world are associated with financial capability and having children. In our previous post, we have discussed how you can Budget in Daily Life So You Can Save Up to Travel the World. These tips can be useful for overcoming perceived financial barriers and is worth checking out if this is something you are concerned about.

If you have children, travelling the world can still be done. Take for example, World Travel Family, who decided to travel the world with their children in 2012 and continue do so to this day while running a successful travel blog. You can find many tips on how to do so on their blog, which could be the motivation and tools you need.

In sum, travelling the world is possible for most of us and although it might seem daunting at first, if it is your ultimate dream to travel the world, you should never give up on it! Even if the time isn’t right yet, it might be in the near or distant future. Remember that you are never too old to take the plunge and many obstacles and fears can and must be overcome for you to live your dream.

How to Keep Fit & Healthy while on the Road

Keeping fit and healthy while on the road can be challenging. Changing destinations every few weeks/days, travelling overland/taking numerous flights, and getting your bearings in a new destination can mean that maintaining your health and fitness takes a back seat.

However, when travelling you are constantly being exposed to new environments and exerting yourself sometimes on a daily basis, which means it is super important to maintain your health and fitness to avoid getting sick while you are way.

That is why we have brought together a few of our top tips to keeping fit and healthy while on the road that we have been using over the years. If you have any tips to share, drop a comment below!

Make your own lunch/dinner when possible 

Making your own meals can not only save you a fortune, but it can ensure you control the way your food is cooked and therefore its nutritional value. When eating out, you can never be too sure on the ingredients that are put into your dish or the way that it is cooked (e.g. deep fried, sautéed, oven baked etc.). This could easily make what seems like a 500kcal meal into a 1500kcal meal, when it really doesn’t have to be. 

Taking a packed lunch and snacks on your days out and cooking wholesome dinners where possible can really help you maintain a balanced and healthy diet while you are away. It can be fun too because you can experiment with local ingredients and flavours and perhaps host a dinner party with your new found friends.

Seek out healthy eateries before you arrive 

When you are travelling to a new destination, do some research before you arrive into the best healthy cafés, restaurants, and supermarkets in the local area. This will save you time when you get there and will allow you to be healthy straight from the get go.

You will know just where to find the local farmers market and which cafés/restaurants serve the leanest and most ethically produced dishes. Buying local produce and dining at local eateries will also benefit the local community. 

Don’t feel pressured to be drinking every night 

Just because you are travelling does not mean you have to be drinking and partying every night. If that is your thing, that’s ok. But it is also ok to take a different approach to travelling, such as a health and wellness/feel good approach. 

If you are drinking every night, you probably won’t want to rise early and get your workout in or head up that mountain for sunrise. You will likely spend your days hiding in the shade, feeling grim and overloading on carbs and sugar.

If that’s what you travel for, great. But if it’s not, it’s time to re-evaluate and stop giving into peer pressure feeling like you should be drinking and partying every night until the sun comes up. Learn how to socialise and call it a night early enough for you to get the things done that you travelled all that way for.

Keep active 

Get outside, climb a mountain, swim in the ocean, commit to swimming so many lengths in the pool before you head out for the day, walk, walk, walk until you cannot walk any more (or at least until you’ve reached your daily step count). There are an abundance of opportunities to keep active when travelling and it’s up to you to take advantage of them. 

The best thing is, the majority of the activities are in the great outdoors. Combine being in nature with working up a sweat and your mental state will skyrocket from the endorphin overload.  

Seek out gyms before you arrive 

Often places you travel to will be a city or coastal town that is also home to a community. Therefore, you will likely find many of the facilities you have back home, including a gym. However, they might be difficult to find depending on where you travel to and importantly, they might not offer day/week/month passes. Therefore, it really is best to do your research before you head out. Send a few emails to the local gyms to see if you can get a short term pass and check with hotels to see what the day rate of using their facilities is or whether they have any offers on. 

Gyms are great for those tropical storms and rainy days. The hotel you are staying at might even have a gym or you might decide to pay a bit more for a hotel with a gym. Drawing on experience though, many hotel gyms are not always good and sometimes over sold. Often the images make the facilities look great and when you arrive it is just a treadmill and some free weights in a stuffy room with no windows. Not very motivating to workout, huh? 

Do HIIT workouts in your hotel 

If you struggle to find a gym or you are trying to keep costs down while travelling, simply do a workout in your hotel room on a rainy day or on the beach/in the park when the weathers nice. Play some music and load a YouTube video for motivation. Our favourite YouTube channel for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts is Fitness Blender. They have plenty of 20-60 minute videos for any level of fitness and are really varied so you won’t have to do the same workout everyday. 

Take a workout kit and make the most of everything around you

You could even travel with some simple equipment. For example, we always take a skipping rope for cardio and a resistance band for body weight exercises. If you want to do weighted body weight exercises, load up your backpack and use that in place of a barbell. Robe belts are great for stretching afterwards.

Drink plenty of water

This ones kind of a given but worth mentioning as it’s one of the most important points to remember. It’s so easy to go about your day and forget to drink plenty of water. If you are being super active or travelling in a hot country, you need to stay hydrated to avoid becoming sick and exhausted. You will be sweating more which means you need to replace the water your body is losing. 

As you can see, there are many ways to keep fit and healthy while on the road, the key is to plan ahead and prepare for each step of your journey.

How to Fly to Asia on the Cheap and Visit More Destinations

Flying from the Western World to Asia can be quite expensive given that we are pretty much on the opposite ends of the world. But, Asia is renowned for idyllic beaches, cheap drinks and foods, inexpensive luxury accommodation and affordable massages, which is why many Westerners flock here for vacation year after year. However, although it may be cheap upon arrival, the airfare can be pretty hefty when flying direct to certain destinations, which is why we have compiled a few tips and tricks to help you reach your dream paradise island on the cheap.

1. Fly to a cheaper destination in transit 

If you are trying to travel to Bali for example, flights will likely be in the region of £800 during peak holiday time (e.g. British summer time). However, you could fly to a nearby destination for much cheaper such as Kuala Lumpur (KL), where flights are likely to be around £450. Then, you can easily take a flight from KL-Bali for around £100. You could even choose to stay over in KL for a night or two given that it’s a fairly cheap, cool city, and why wouldn’t you want to add another destination to your travels, right?

So, let’s say you have spent around £550 on flights and yes you will have incurred an little extra cost on accommodation and travel to the city from the airport, say around £100 between two of you, but you would have still saved £150 and got to tick another destination off your bucket list. Happy days!

2. Travel outside of your country’s main holidays 

Do you really have to travel in August or can you afford to travel earlier in the year? Certainly a question to ponder if you are trying to find a cheaper flight to Asia. Flights can be more than double during the main holidays for obvious reasons (August through September is British summer time/school holidays in the UK). But, if you are flexible with going earlier or later in the year, you will find that prices drop drastically. Of course you want to check the weather in Asia during various times of year, but we have always travelled in June-July, paid around £450 for flights to Asia, and had mostly great weather. Also, play around with the travel dates. Being flexible by even just a few days can save you a lot of money.

3. Plan ahead 

It’s July and you want to travel to Asia next month. Well, don’t be surprised when the price of flights cost you a decent months wage. The trick here is simple, plan ahead. Often when we travel abroad, we are booking our flights way in advance (as much as 8-12 months in advance) in order to get the best price. It really does make a difference and will also allow you to snap up the best hotel deals.

4. Scout about for prices 

A top website for long-haul flights is Skyscanner, which is where we have mostly found our best deals for long-haul flights. There are many Online Travel Agents (OTAs) operating on here (e.g. BudgetAir, eDreams), which you will be directed to, and the airfare might go up as you are passed on to the company website. In this case, ensure you double check Skyscanner again and perhaps try another OTA that might not increase the price as much when directed to their website.

Before you book though, it is best to browse the airlines own website (e.g. Emirates, Qatar etc.) as they might have deals on if you are lucky. However, we have often found that booking direct can sometimes more than double the airfare, so be savvy.

How to Pack Smarter for Your Next Trip

Deciding what you will need for your trip, especially if you are going away for a while, and then managing to fit all your ‘essentials’ into your bag can be somewhat of a challenge. Add to this size and weight limitations with specific airlines and checked-baggage fees and you’ve got a big task on your hands.

Not to mention keeping your belongings safe and clean and your essentials on hand so you don’t have unpack your entire bag every time you need your charger. To make this process easier, we have put together a few tips and tricks on how to pack smarter for your next trip that we have learned along the road.

Make a list of your essentials (and then a separate list of extra items) 

Before you even begin packing things in your bag, you need to make a list. In fact, you need to make two lists: one for your essentials and one for your extras.

On your essentials list, jot down everything you literally could not travel without. This might include your passport, sun screen, underwear, a couple of clothing items…you get the picture. 

Then, jot down a list of extras. This could be anything from an extra pair of shoes you could live without or an extra outfit you will probably will never wear. Listing them from high to low priority will also help when it comes to deciding what stays and what goes. 

Once you have packed all your essentials and you are happy they fit comfortably in your bag, then it’s time to move on to your essentials. Because you have listed them in order of priority, it should be easy to just start packing the items in your bag one by one until you have no more room left. 

Top tip: Leave some extra wiggle room for if you make any spontaneous purchases while you are travelling or start your travels and realise you have left off a few essentials. This also leaves room for snacks and water when travelling overland. 

Use waterproof luggage organisers

Luggage organisers literally changed the game when it comes to packing, especially if you have a back pack. Not only do they organise your things, they protect your items from getting wet, dirty, or damaged. You can even try compression bags which vacuum-pack your clothes into a tight bundle so they take up minimum space.

When taking a boat trip from the Gili Islands back to Bali, our two backpacks were thrown on the top of the boat. As the boat set sail the rain came down. And it doesn’t just rain in Bali, it POURS. The waves were covering the boat and everyone inside sat slightly (OK, VERY) anxious in their life jackets.

Thankfully, we returned to shore safe and sound, just a little shaken up and sea sick. Surprisingly, our bags remained on the top deck and despite an attempt by the sailers to cover the luggage with a waterproof sheet due to the storm that was brewing the sky prior to departure, we were thrown our soaking wet bags from the deck. As you can imagine everything inside was soaked too and that was our lesson learned – ALWAYS DOUBLE BAG YOUR BELONGINGS! 

Have your liquids and electrical’s handy

Travelling through airports with your liquids and hand luggage can be somewhat of a  headache at times. Having to unpack your bag and dig around in all your personal belongings while other travellers and the airport staff stand around clock-checking can be a little off-putting. 

It can be really useful to have your bag of liquids and electric items in a separate bag so that you can simply pull the smaller bag out of your much larger bag and pop your bits and bobs in the trays. It helps if the bag you are using is lightweight, such as a cotton tote bag, because you can easily fold it up when it’s not in use. Plus, cotton tote bags double up as a beach bag or a shopping bag! 

This can also be useful for when you get on the plane and you want to quickly grab your on-board entertainment essentials from your bag without holding up the queue of people trying to get to their seats. Pop all your bits and bobs such as headphones, books/e-readers, chargers, and snacks and water in a separate bag and simply pull it out of your larger bag when you get to your seat. 

Keep your valuables to hand and separate from your main luggage

If you check in your baggage, there is a chance it could get lost in transit so you will want to make sure you have your valuables and essential items on you at all times. If you are travelling with electrical items such as your laptop and camera, keep them in a cabin bag together with your money, passport, jewellery, hotel and flight confirmation, phone and chargers, mini toiletry pack and anything else you can think of.

Even if all you are carrying is a cabin bag, which is usually the case when travelling with a backpack on short-haul flights, make sure you have a separate bag (similar trick as above) with your valuables in and keep it in sight at all times.