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?

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 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.

Travelling Overland from Malaysia for 48 Hours in Singapore

Taking the overnight sleeper train from Kuala Lumpur (KL) to Singapore is an interesting experience. Flights tend to be much cheaper from the UK to KL, plus, you get to stop off and explore the city before catching the overnight sleeper across the border.

Travelling overland as opposed to flying can help to keep costs down too. Catch the train from KL Sentral Station to Singapore from as little as £7 for a second class sleeper. A private cabin with private toilet and wash facilities will cost slightly extra, but make sure you book early to avoid disappointment as they tend to book up rapid, which you can do so through Seat61.

Alternatively, you can book economy tickets upon arrival at the station. Be sure to take enough water and snacks because there is none available on the train. The journey alone is 7 hours, then once in Singapore it is a case of queuing for a good hour to get through immigration, then onto passport control, then a queue for a taxi before finally travelling into the city and arriving at your accommodation.

Despite how hot and humid KL and Singapore are throughout the day, the train gets cooler at night so take some warm clothes, a blanket and a pillow for comfort as none are provided on the train.

The highlight of this journey is the golden sunrise while approaching Singapore. We arrived early morning (around 9am) and already the heat was formidable. Singapore is an expensive city so we only stayed here for two nights and decided to get a taste of real backpacking and stay in a local hostel before heading off to our hotels in Bali.

Finding Budget Accommodation

Given that Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in the world, finding budget accommodation can be quite a challenge. After a thorough search through review sites, we settled on Rucksack Inn at Lavender street given its location, just a short bus ride from the main shopping area, Orchard Road.

Rucksack Inn at Lavender Street has a real home-from-home vibe, a small kitchen area where breakfast facilities are available all day long, tea, coffee, bread, jam, butter, peanut butter, and a communal area where groups of backpackers from all around the world gather to plan the days activities. The first rule of the house is shoes off at the door, and each room has its own ‘shoe box’ where you can store them and pop them back on each time you leave.

The rooms are small and sweet, include air con and a large, comfortable bed. The shower facilities are clean but make sure you get up early to beat standing around in line. We had a lovely stay here during out last trip would certainly recommend it for a short budget stay in Singapore for any type of traveller.

For couples, the rooms are private and big enough for a short stay. Solo travellers will benefit from the communal area which is a great place to meet other travellers.

Price: £53 for a standard double room with shared bathroom. 

Day 1

After checking in at the hostel head straight to Marina Bay. The bus station is a two minute walk from Rucksack Inn, which is ideal for getting around on a short stay. Spend the rest of the morning drinking tea at the lavish Flyer lounge while gazing out at the Marina and Singapore’s stunning skyline.

Grab an ice-cream at Gelatissimo, which serves delightful Italian ice-cream. Follow it up with lunch at one of the nearby restaurants before hopping on a boat ride along Singapore river to catch a great view of the city.

As the evening dawns, the food markets come alive. Experience the vibrant atmosphere within the food area that bustles with locals and tourists while sampling the local cuisine from Singapore Food Treats located at Level 1 of the Flyer. The area comprises numerous stalls serving authentic dishes such as local favourites Bak Kut Teh, Satay Bee Hoon and Laksa.

Hop on the Singapore Flyer (aka the big wheel) and catch the view of the bay’s waters from the top of the flyer. The skyline is even more incredible at night and will leave you with an unforgettable experience.

Day 2

Start the day in Singapore’s very own Chinatown. Here, you will find an array of shops and markets stalls where you will find gadgets and souvenirs beneath a canopy of red and gold lanterns as well as numerous temples such as the intriguing Sri Mariamman, Singapore’s oldest Hindu Temple that dates back to 1827. The temple has fantastic architecture with vibrant colours and characters all over.

Once you have finished exploring here, catch the MRT to Orchard Road, a shoppers paradise with an extensive range of shopping malls that stretch for miles, with Times Square-esque animated billboards to lure you in to the designer emporiums and high-street retailers. This part of the city is full of fashionista’s and high-flyers and expensive sports cars lace the streets of the countless Louis-Vuitton, Gucci and Rolex empires.

Grab a bite to eat at Kilo At Pact serving fresh salads, sushi rolls, or rice bowls and offering a great spot to catch a break and re-fuel for the afternoon. Remember, the heat in Singapore is exhaustive so keep hydrated and stroll inside the shopping malls for a blast of cool air-con.

You can really catch Singapore’s highlights in as little as 48 hours, but if you have more time to kill there is certainly much more to explore.

 

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.

 

How to Travel From North-South Thailand in Under Two Weeks

 

2-week Thailand Itinerary

Overview of the route:

UK – Bangkok – Chiangmai – Chiangrai – Bangkok – Phuket – Phi Phi Islands – Krabi – UK

First leg: UK-Bangkok

Approx travel time: 21 hours.

Return flights from UK airports to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport usually average somewhere between £380-£450 depending on the time of year you go. In the height of British summertime (July/August) prices can increase dramatically so take this into consideration when planning your trip dates.

If you fly emirates, you will layover in Dubai and possibly even take a long weekend break here before heading to Thailand. The flight to Dubai is around seven and a half hours and Dubai to Thailand is around the same, possibly an hour shorter. So if you aren’t great at flying long-haul, a couple of days in Dubai could be the solution. Plus, you get to explore another destination in transit.

Bangkok

Duration: 2 nights

We have a separate itinerary on how to spend your first 48 hours in Bangkok.

Second leg: Bangkok-Chiangmai (Northern Thailand)

Duration: 3 nights

Take the overnight sleeper train from Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok to Chiangmai for around £25 one-way depending on your cabin preference. Seat 61 has extensive information regarding travel by train across South East Asia, Europe, UK, Africa, America, and Australasia, so it is very handy to make note of this site whenever you are planning rail travel.

If you prefer to pre-book tickets anywhere in Asia head to 12go. As an intermediary, 12go manually purchase tickets from Thai Railways and although they might add a small fee, purchasing from them saves you the hassle of purchasing tickets when you are ready to leave. This is particularly handy to reduce the risk of your preferred cabin or even the entire train being sold out so it is best to grab your tickets before you go from here.

The company are highly reputable and have official offices directly opposite Bangkok railway station. For £25pp you will get a second-class cabin with both an upper and lower bunk, which are clean and comfortable with fresh bedding and air-con. Blankets are provided because it gets much cooler at night.

Chiangmai

While in Chiangmai, grab a real taste of Thai culture by experiencing a Muay Thai Boxing match at one of the many stadiums around such as the Thapea Boxing Stadium and the Kawila Boxing Stadium. Tickets tend to cost around 400-600 baht depending on where you decide to sit. You can often book through your hotel which is handy because they can arrange inclusive pick-up but not always drop-off post-match.

Day excursion to Chiangrai

Chiangrai is a mountainous province that is home to the stunning White Temple. It takes around 3hrs to reach from Chiangmai and the White Temple alone is 100% worth the long car ride. Plus, you can soak up the view of lush greenery and local Thai life on your way.

Tours tend to leave early (around 7.30am) so make sure you book on the excursion ahead of time and at least the day before. You will also get the chance to enjoy other activities depending on the tour you choose and whether you opt for half-day or full-day excursion.

Once you have enjoyed your time up north, it’s time to head south. Take the overnight sleeper back to Bangkok for cheap flights to Southern Thailand. Alternatively, Chiangmai has its own airport that provides direct flights to Phuket, taking around 2hrs and costing around £50.

Third leg: Bangkok-Phuket (Southern Thailand)

Approx travel time: 1hr 30minutes.

Flights from Bangkok to Phuket can cost as little as £30 one-way, maybe even less if you are flexible with your dates. We are always keeping an eye on Skyscanner when planning a trip because you can save a good amount as prices drop and increase from day to day.

Phuket

Duration: 3 nights

There is so much to do in Phuket. A full day tour is a great way to see top sites such as the breathtaking Big Buddha that sits 45-metres tall on the top of the Nakkered Hills and overlooks Chalong, Kata, and Rawai. You will also get to visit temples such as the beautifully decorated Wat Chalong temple, and Wat Srisoonthorn, which is a 29-metre-high sleeping Buddha.

Phuket is home to Patong Beach, which is laced with many beach resorts, bars, clubs, and restaurants, and a great place to spend both day and night. If you fancy a day out, Phang Nga Bay in the north east of Phuket is where can admire the sheer limestone cliffs that sit vertically out of the emerald green waters.

Head to Patong’s Bangla road for a taste of the nightlife Phuket has to offer. If you are looking to have some fun, be sure to keep an open mind and a sense of humour because there is nothing that can prepare you for the Phuket nightlife!

If you began your trip in Bangkok you might be a little more prepared, but this place definitely took us by surprise and we had spent a couple of days in Bangkok prior! If you are looking for more low-key entertainment, check out a Simon Cabaret show at Patong beach or FantaSea show at Kamala beach.

Fourth leg: Phuket-Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Duration: 3 nights

Take a boat ride from Phuket pier to Tonsai Pier on the Phi Phi islands to enjoy the island life. This is a place where can switch off from your hectic life back home and waste days lazing around on the beach under the blazing sun, and enjoy fire dance shows, and fresh local food by night.

The island remains with a rugged edge because it suffered from a Tsunami in 2005. Further inland some wreckage remains, but the locals have done a great job at rebuilding businesses, particularly tourist hotspots along the coast. Having said that, there really is no reason to venture inland when the majority of restaurants, bars, and hotels and resorts are on the beach front.

The Phi Phi islands are a great location to try your hand at diving, or if your a pro, there are some great tours here that head to Phi Phi Leh, the island where “The Beach” ft. Leo Decaprio is filmed, and the famous James Bond island featured in “The Man with the Golden Gun”. Dive stores are a plenty here but if you don’t feel like diving you can take an island-hopping boat tour. The boat tours are great for scuba diving and catching the sunset on the cruise back.

Fifth leg: Phi Phi Islands – Krabi

From Tonsai Pier take a 3hr boat trip to Krabi pier.

Krabi

Duration: 3 nights

Krabi is one of the most relaxing places in Thailand with white sand beaches such as Railay Beach, limestone cliffs, a jungle, and a coastline that stretches over 200 miles. Head to Thung Teao Forest Natural Park to experience some of the most outstanding natural beauty in the whole of Thailand. The Crystal Lagoon, also known as Emerald Lagoon, contains clear, warm waters where you can take a dip and float away while admiring the waterfall.

Sixth leg: Krabi-Next destination

There are many places to travel on from here and you will find cheap flights to nearby countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia. You can fly from Krabi airport direct to some destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, but if you are heading further afield such as Australia, South Korea, or Japan, you will likely have to fly to Bangkok first, which will also be the case if you are heading back to the UK.

How to Budget in Daily Life So You Can Save Up to Travel the World

Budgeting in daily life so you can save up and travel the world can be quite a challenge but it is not impossible, you just have to make a few alterations to your daily spends and focus and commit to achieve your end goal.

With the following tips you could be taking your dream trip/living your dream lifestyle sooner than you may think!

  1. Keep a diary of your spends

Keeping a diary of everything you spend can really help when you are trying to save for your trip around the world. Take a notebook, a diary, or simply use the notes section on your smartphone to jot down everything you spend each week.

Be realistic about your expenditure too. If you have monthly outgoings of £500 and you commute to work by train daily which averages at around £150 per month then include that too. Also, don’t forget your food allowance, your toiletries allowance, and then a budget for miscellaneous items (e.g. make-up, a winter coat, shoes for work etc.) and so on.

If you are unsure how much you spend on each of these areas per month, conduct a trail month first. Jot down everything you spend and categorise as above. Then, tally it up at the end of the month and take a moment to reflect on your spending habits.

You might be surprised at how much money you waste on pointless things, or how much that daily trip to the overpriced corner shop is costing you, which might make you think twice about where you are buying your food/snacks while trying to save (another key point to reconsider – switching supermarkets!).

  1. Prioritise and learn to live minimally 

This is really about identifying your needs and your wants. Yes, you NEED food, clothes, toiletries etc., they are basic living essentials for the life you are living right now. But, do you really NEED an extra pack of cookies? Do you really NEED the same pair of shoes in two colours? Do you really NEED another handbag so you have a change of style?

The answer is probably no. You have to learn how to live minimally. Sure, treat yourself now and then, life is too short not to. But if you are serious about your travel plans then you have to prioritise your needs and your wants and decide what is more important.

  1. Avoid browsing in shops (physical and online!)

If you are a shopaholic trying to save for your trip of a lifetime, it is probably best to stay away from the shops at all cost. That means no browsing online for fun on your lunch break and no strolling down the high street “just to see what is out there/if there are any sales on”.

When you are getting a million and one retailers flooding your inbox on the daily, be strong and do not open them. It will only lead to impulse purchases and a reduction in your hard earned savings.

Keep a memo on the background of your phone if it helps. It could be anything from “Stay Strong!” or a picture of your idea of paradise. Each time you are on the verge of spending, take a moment to think of the life you could be living or the trip you could be taking if you could resist a new outfit.

  1. Bring your own supplies to work

Bring your own coffee and milk to work if you have a kitchen and eliminate the need for your morning Starbucks. Even if you don’t have a kitchen at work to make a coffee, invest in a good flask and take that with you to work each day. You could save over a £1,000 more per year just by making this one small change to your daily routine.

The same goes for food. Eating out every day you are at work, grabbing a coffee or two, adding snacks on top, and then topping all that off with a dinner out each week…well, you can see how this has all begun to add up can’t you?

Preparing your own meals can save you a fortune. Take some time at the weekend to prepare a few meals for throughout the week. You can even cook a large portion of your favourite hearty wholesome dish and freeze portions that you can take with you and heat up at work. That way, you can ensure you are eating nourishing foods while working and probably avoid that mid -afternoon snack.

Preparing your own meals is also a much easier way to ensure you are getting your 5-a-day and limiting the amount of salt/sugar intake that comes along with processed foods that you may/may not be diving into while you are out. Heck, that is one easy change that will not only save you money but will get you beach-body-ready!

  1. Focus and commit!

Finally, you have to focus and commit. You have to REALLY want it. If you don’t, you are wasting your time. After conducting point one above, you can calculate a realistic amount you are able to save each month and from this you can calculate how long it is going to take you to save up enough money to take your desired trip.

Be realistic with yourself and each month put away the specific amount of money into a savings pot and each month as it grows you will be one step closer to your goal. You could even try breaking it down into smaller chunks and put a couple of pounds away per day. That way, you will feel like you are one small step closer each and every day.

How to Live the High Life while Travelling on a Budget

Indulging on fancy dinners and luxury hotels isn’t always top of the agenda when travelling on a budget, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. This article provides you with five of our key tips on how to live the high life while travelling on a budget. This means you get to enjoy all the luxuries while still keeping within your daily spends. We know you are probably thinking this is impossible right now, but read on and you will be surprised. All these tips are tried and tested and we use them on every single one of our trips so you can rest assured knowing that these tips are realistic and easy to implement, which means that you too can live the high life while travelling on a budget.

1. Compromise 

Before you read on, you must remember the most important thing is that you have to compromise. You have to really decide what is important to you and what is not. Is a big comfy bed with private bathroom the most important for you, then budget on point 2 and 3 below. If you are happy to sleep in a hostel, then spoil yourself with point 5 below.

Travelling on a budget has never been easier, you have just got to be savvy with your spending and not splurge on absolutely everything. If your goal is to travel for a specific length of time, you have really got to ensure your budget is going to see you through to the end and you aren’t going to be ET phoning home asking for a saviour within the first week of your trip.

2. Take packed lunches + snacks and splurge on a fancy dinner 

This seems like a given and if you have been budgeting over the past year or so to save for your travels, you’ve probably got this one on lock down. Everyone knows that eating out can be expensive. In some counties across South East Asia, food can be much cheaper than say, if you are travelling across Europe. But that still doesn’t mean that eating out is cheaper than buying snacks and packing a sandwich for lunch.

Another tip, always pack water. Especially in Europe, water can be very expensive, particularly at the top sights including museums which usually have free entrance. I mean, they have got to make their money some way, right? So, get your backpack and don’t be afraid to cram it with all the snacks and water to keep you going throughout the day.

Then, in the evening you can quite happily go and splurge on a luxury dinner because you wouldn’t have spent much throughout the day. After all, life is all about balance…

3. Budget on hotels to sleep in, pay for a day pass at a luxury hotel to use the facilities all day

Pick a hostel or a budget hotel to stay in for a couple of nights, perhaps with no facilities such as swimming pool, gym etc. Then, during the day you can head to a 4* or 5* hotel and pay a small fee for a day pass and enjoy their luxury rooftop swimming pool with city/mountain views.

Most hotels around the world charge as little as £5-£10, even in the UK. You can stay as long as you like and if you take note from tip 4 you can even save on food and drinks. If you are in Kuala Lumpur, check out Aloft hotels. Plus, they have a hotel right near the main train station so it is the perfect place to spend the day even if you are awaiting an overnight sleeper train…

4. Take the day/overnight sleeper train rather than an expensive flight 

Yes, it might take longer. But it is also more affordable, more cultural, and you will get to see some amazing sights on the way if you travel by day. If you travel over night, you will likely wake up to an incredible sunrise just like we did on our overnight sleeper train from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, plus, you will have saved money on paying for a night in a hotel. Another bonus is that you will have a much more interesting story to tell about your experience traveling across country rather than just another cramped flight on a dodgy budget airline.

If you are in Asia, check out Seat61. If you are in Europe, there are many options depending on your route. For instance, if you travelling in one country try Go Euro or if you are inter-railing across multiple countries head to Interrail.

If you really want a slice of luxury while on a long train journey, check out the options for a private cabin and it will likely still rival the price of a flight and hotel accommodation.

5. Dress fancy, head to a sky bar

You are on a budget, perhaps you have been roughing it for weeks on end going from hostel to hostel and for one night you just want to feel like the prince/princess that you really are. Well, even if you are on a budget, get your best outfit hand washed, hang it out to dry, and the next evening throw it on and head to a sky bar.

There literally is no place better to feel like a million bucks and enjoy a slice of the high life. Yes, you might have to pay a little more than £1 for a drink (which won’t be served in a bucket with neon straws FYI) but, you only have to buy one drink to enjoy the incredible city views from above while escaping the hustle and bustle of the city life down below.

As you can see, even if you are on a budget you can quite easily live the high life while travelling. You can enjoy all the fancy sky bars, luxury swimming pools, and fancy dinners while making sure your funds last you your anticipated length of time on the road.