10 Travel Mobile Apps You Should Be Using by 2020

There are thousands of travel-related mobile applications (apps) available nowadays and you can spend days on end trying to seek out the worthy ones. We wanted to take that stress away from you by offering our top 10 go-to travel applications. From helping with price comparison, cash saving, trip planning and getting around new destinations, your future trips won’t be the same with these must-have applications. 

1. Hopper

Hopper is the most recent travel mobile app that got us excited! It basically monitors prices for flights and hotels and predicts when the price is likely to increase or decrease. This means you can save money by booking before the price goes up or waiting patiently for the price to decrease. Hopper predicts prices with 95% accuracy up to 1 year in advance and is one of the easiest ways to save money on flights and hotels.   

2. TripIt

TripIt is the best trip-planning mobile app we have come across yet. It organises all your travel plans and creates a single itinerary for every trip. You can download it for free and simply forward your confirmation emails for your flight, hotel or car bookings to their email and they instantly add it to your trip that’s set up on the app.  

3. Hotel Tonight

If you are travelling in America, Europe or Australia, Hotel Tonight can help you find discounted hotel accommodation available for last minute bookings. Far too often, hotels take advantage of guests looking for a last-minute place to crash and more than double the standard per night rate. With Hotel Tonight, you can search for the most affordable accommodation, which will not only save you money, it will save you lots of time walking from hotel to hotel when you are tired from all the travel.

4. Skyscanner

Skyscanner is our go-to website for flight search and price comparison and the company’s mobile app makes it even easier to quickly search for flights at any time. It searches millions of flights from over 1,200 sources and then offers you the best option based on the cheapest or easiest route. The search usually returns pages of results for you to choose from so you can pick a more expensive yet convenient route, if that suits. We always recommend using the chart feature, which allows you to see the cheapest days to fly on. It’s surprising how altering your plans by one or two days can result in savings of up to hundreds of pounds. You can also set notifications for various routes so you are notified of the price changes immediately. 

5. AirBnB

The sharing economy is continuously growing and AirBnB are showing no signs of slowing down. You can always find affordable stays through this site and when hosted by a local, it offers the same benefits as hostels where you can meet local people and get some inside tips, yet with the privacy of your own place. AirBnB also has added services now where locals offer experiences and adventures and you can search local restaurants, so it’s definitely worth having the app on hand when exploring new places.  

6. Booking.com

Booking.com consistently offer the cheapest guesthouse and both budget and luxury hotel rates. We use them most of the time for booking accommodation and find that even when compared with booking direct with the hotel/hostel, booking.com will offer the same, if not cheaper rate. 

7. Google Maps

When exploring new places, Google Maps will be your best friend. We often use this app for searching nearby attractions and places to eat and you can even use if offline in locations where you don’t have roaming data. 

8. Lounge Buddy

Lounge Buddy is great for finding airport lounges that provide you access on the door for a fee. It even provides you with information on what to expect when you are in there, from the food and drinks on the menu to whether you can freshen up with a shower. 

9. XE Currency

XE is our go-to site for getting to grips with the local currency when travelling. It offers a simple conversion feature with any currency you can think of and also offers business-oriented features such as rates for precious metals and historic currency charts, if that’s your thing. The company’s app can even be accessed offline because it saves the last updated rates, which is great for locations where you don’t have roaming data or WIFI access.   

10. Google Translate

Google Translate is really useful for instantly translating words, phrases and web pages into your language when travelling. It can also translate audio, which means that you can communicate instantly via the app with other people, such as taxi drivers. The mobile app now has an integrated Augmented Reality (AR) feature, which means you can simply take a picture of a sign and it will translate the written text for you in real-time. 

The above travel apps will lead you to time and cost savings and help you travel further, for longer, and with more convenience. The world of mobile apps is constantly evolving and growing and especially in the travel industry, there are so many opportunities to integrate them into your travel journey. Take advantage of this technology and use it to your advantage.  These are currently our top 10 go-to mobile travel apps, yet with 2020 on the horizon, it’s anticipated that the new year will see a new wave of exciting apps to download!

3 Ways Virtual Reality is Transforming the Travel Industry

Virtual Reality (VR) is receiving increasing interest from tourism marketers globally. Combined with 360-degree video capture, VR can virtually transport you to travel destinations around the world and provide you with experiences beyond your wildest dreams, all without leaving your sofa. This technology has already begun to make an impact on the travel industry and this is just the beginning. Here, we have listed just three ways VR is transforming the travel industry and its potential future impact.    

1. Virtual Tours  

Virtual tours have become a popular marketing method, where tourism marketers can offer potential visitors an immersive insight into the destination. This novel method of marketing has been found to entice people to explore new destinations that they might not have previously, and influence them to actually visit the destinations in real life. 

Putting on the VR headset could transport you to a luxury hotel in Tokyo and within seconds, you could be enjoying a Bird’s Eye View of the Grand Canyon. Virtual tours are particularly useful for travel agents as they can allow customers to have a 360-degree view of different locations, which increases their trust and manages their expectations compared with browsing through traditional 2D media. Travel operators might choose to offer VR in-store or as a mobile application that users can access from home.  

Similar methods have been used by hotels with the likes of Marriott providing virtual tours of their international hotels with an aim to provide potential visitors with a realistic insight into their offerings and encourage people to visit. Putting on the VR headset allows hotel guests to experience a collection of travel destinations from Beijing to Chile, while experiencing the accommodation Marriott can provide in these destinations should they decide to visit. 

This “try-before-you-buy” type of experience empowers potential visitors with the ability to take a virtual walkthrough of the hotels facilities and room types, which can avoid any confusion and disappointment upon arrival. 

2. Accessibility

VR also makes certain trips and experiences accessible for all including those individuals who may have limitations with their travel ability or experience anxiety or fear due to heights or flying. In VR, you could find yourself skydiving off the empire state building or swimming with great white sharks, perhaps such experiences are ones you would never dream of having in real life. 

Also, VR can allow people to access sites that might be inaccessible due to safety or over tourism, hence, VR could also contribute to cultural preservation. For example, if the influx of tourism at a historic site is becoming too much for the grounds to take, then it is possible for tourists to view the site in VR. Not only will this contribute to preservation of historical sites, it will also allow for the history and culture to live on through time. 

3. In-flight entertainment 

Although not widespread yet, VR could really take off as a form of in-flight entertainment, especially for long-haul trips. Imagine taking a 14-hour flight from the UK to Hong Kong, popping on a VR headset and being immersed into a completely new world of your choice for hours on end rather than being present in the same plane. 

You could potentially play games in VR with friends from back home or others on the flight – that’s one way to keep the young ones occupied, that’s for sure! If gaming isn’t your thing, you could watch short movies, documentaries or TV shows in 360-degree, or even immerse into a deep meditation. If you have fear of flying, this could be one way to overcome this fear. 

In fact, earlier this year, British Airways announced they will be offering first class passengers on select international flights the opportunity to experience in-flight  VR entertainment and also therapeutic programmes such as meditation and sound therapy. 

Although there remains barriers before it becomes widespread on planes, that won’t stop companies such as Inflight VR from achieving their goal of enabling passengers to immerse in VR while up in the clouds. We are excited to see what the future holds for this innovative business venture! 

What are your thoughts on the impact VR will have on the travel industry? Is this a technology you will use now and/or in the future?

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!

How to See the Best of The Lake District in One Long Weekend

Located in North West England, The Lake District National Park is one of the most stunning locations in the UK.  Here, you will find vast lakes, quaint villages and mountainous scenery and with that there are plenty activities and delicious eateries suitable for all the family. Having lived here for over ten years, we were super excited to put this mini guide together which allows you to see the best of the Lakes in one long weekend.

The Lakes is great to visit all year round. With its stunning landscapes, it really is beautiful come snow, rain or sun. However, the best time to visit the Lakes is dependent on the activities you want to take part in. Of course, the sunny weather is never guaranteed and especially in the lakes which is famous for its yearly downpours and floods.

Nevertheless, if you would like to do plenty of outdoor activities without the rain, plan your trip between April and September. If you enjoy the snow, your looking at January to March. Any other cold weather one might wish for, visit between October to December. This year, the weather has begun to look up over the Easter break with the mini heat wave so perhaps this is a great time to plan your future visits earlier on in the year too!

Day 1: Arrive in Ambleside 

There are many great places to stay around the lake district and South Lakes in particular. Ambleside is a great mid point where you can easily reach the main tourist areas including Grasmere, Keswick, Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere. There are many B&Bs, high-end hotels, budget hostels (e.g. YHA), static caravans, holiday homes and AirBnBs. If you fancy something a bit different, you can also find quirky accommodation such as sleeping pods and tipis, which can be a bit more affordable compared to the B&Bs and hotels depending on the time of year you visit.

Once you have settled into your accommodation, it’s time to boost your energy for the afternoon ahead. There are many great eateries around Ambleside including Zefferelis offering quality vegetarian cuisine at affordable prices. On the lunch menu, you can find filled jacket potatoes, goats cheese bruschetta, nut roast salad, sharing platters, sandwiches and a selection of other Mediterranean style dishes. 

If you are not keen on vegetarian food, you can find tasty pub grub at The White Lion. You could even grab a take-out sandwich, salad box or pastry from The Picnic Box or try the best Fish and Chips in town from Walnut Fish and Chip Shop opposite Zeffirelli’s. During the summer time, you can enjoy your take-out food in Rothay Park on Vicarage Road or Boran’s Park on MacIver Lane. Both parks are reachable by foot from Ambleside Town. 

After you have re-fuelled, it’s time for your first taste of the outdoors. From Ambleside town, head to Stockghyll force, which is just behind The Salutation Hotel & Spa, for a short and sweet walk around the waterfalls. The walk is suitable for most abilities and you can enjoy the 70 foot waterfall from the viewpoint. Once you arrive back in Ambleside, there are some lovely shops to explore such as the Rock Shop and Silver Moon on North Road. 

Take a break to refresh at your hotel and get ready for dinner. There are some great spots around Ambleside including The Lily and Lucy’s on a Plate, which are perfect for couples. Ghandi’s Café has a good selection of vegetarian and vegan options and is great for all the family. Zefferelis offer dinner and movie deals, which is worth checking out if you want to make an evening of it. 

The Log House offers fine dining and can be a bit more expensive. Towards the edge of town you will find one of the best spots, Wateredge Inn, offering delicious food from day to night at The Bar and Grill restaurant. Here, you can sit out in the garden which overlooks Lake Windermere, while indulging on locally sourced foods. 

Day 2: Take a Road Trip to Grasmere and Keswick 

From Ambleside you can easily reach Grasmere within 15 minutes. Grasmere is one of Cumbria’s most popular villages due to its link with William Wordsworth who lived in Dove Cottage with his sister Dorothy from 1799-1808. Having lived a stones throw away from the cottage for over five years, we can say it’s very popular with tourists to say the least! Many flock here throughout the year on coach tours to visit the place where Wordsworth composed some of his most famous and  best-loved poems and Dorothy kept her famous Grasmere journals.

Dove cottage dates back to the early 17th century while many other buildings in Grasmere date back to the 19th or early 20th century except for the Church  which is from the 13th century. Nowadays, gift shops and cafés are plentiful and the village provides the perfect location for a leisurely stroll around the shops. Here, you can grab a delicious lunch at Heidi’s Café or enjoy a hearty meal at Tweedies. Afterwards is the perfect time to enjoy a walk around Grasmere Lake.

From Grasmere, you can continue on the A591 to Keswick, which will take around 20 minutes. The drive to Keswick is one of the most stunning where you will be greeted with views of Thirlmere reservoir as you drop down the pass at Dunmail Raise. Before you arrive in the centre of Keswick, take a short detour to the stone circle at Castlerigg. Constructed as a part of the megalithic tradition, which lasted from 3,300 to 900 BC during the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Ages, the stone circle is one of few stone circles in Britain. Here, you can enjoy the beautiful setting, which overlooks Thirlmere Valley with a backdrop of mountains including High Seat and Helvellyn.

Once you arrive in Keswick, you can wander around the quaint town and visit Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, which offers varied collections that feature Keswick’s landscape, history and culture. Located just a 15 minute leisurely stroll from Keswick town centre is Derwent Water, a 3 mile long, 1 mile wide, 72 feet deep water body known as “Keswicks Lake”. Here, you enjoy a scenic walk around the water on flat and easy paths. If you fancy a hike, Cat Bells is within three miles of the town of Keswick and is situated on the western shore of Derwent Water. At 451 metres high, Cat Bells is not for the faint hearted but will reward those who climb it with stunning views at the top. Once back in the village, re-fuel at one of the many eateries in Keswick town such as The Italian Casa Bella or the Wainwright Pub for local pub grub.

Day 3: Visit the Nearby Towns of Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere

Windermere is just a short 15 minute drive from Ambleside and is a small town just over a mile from the lake shore. From here, you can reach Bowness-on-Windermere, which is one of the busiest towns along the shoreline where you will find the main jetties for cruise boats. Windermere Lake is 10.5 miles long, one mile wide, 220 feat deep and is the largest natural lake in both the Lake District and in England.

The lake cruises allow you to spend anywhere from 45 minutes to a full day on the water, which is for sure the best way to take in the stunning Lakeland views. The voyage will provide you with views of the mountainous scenery, secluded bays and woodland areas. You can even add on attractions such as the Lakes Aquarium, Steam Train or the Lakeland Motor Museum.

If you are feeling more adventurous, you can even hire your own row or motor boat or try your hand at kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding at Brockhole or Low Wood Bay, which are both located between Ambleside and Windermere. Low Wood Bay also features a café open to all with one of the best views in the Lakes. Alternatively, there are many places to hire a bike where you can explore the woodland areas or take to the road, or simply grab an ice-cream and take a stroll down the bay at Bowness while enjoying the scenery.

After a fun-packed day its time for some food and Windermere and Bowness do not disappoint when it comes to delicious eateries. Located in Windermere town, Bodega offers a lively atmosphere where you can enjoy cocktails and traditional Spanish tapas, which is perfect for couples and groups. Similarly, located in the heart of Windermere in one of the towns most historic buildings, Brown Sugar offers the perfect location for relaxed dining and drinks.

For local seasonal produce down in Bowness, head to The Angel Inn, a restaurant welcoming of all the family including the dog. Enjoy a variety of dishes from steak and lentil chilli to burgers, curry and pizza. Alternatively, The Flying Pig is a traditional pub  situated a stones throw from Lake Windermere where you can enjoy high quality, fresh food at a good price while sipping on local ale. If you fancy a few drinks afterwards, The Fizzy Tarté cocktail bar serves some of the best cocktails in the Lakes.

The heart of the Lake District really does have something for everyone. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or you simply want a weekend of relaxation, you will be sure to find it here in the beautiful Lakes.

 

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 See the Best of Vietnam in Less than 10 Days

Vietnam is growing in popularity among tourists that admire its natural beauty and mountainous scenery but more so because it is one destination where tourism is quite affordable. It is easily reachable from the South East Asian hotspots such as Thailand so a trip here is a great choice for the low budget traveller and is definitely worth a visit while you are touring this part of the world.

To help you see the best of Vietnam in such a short space of time all while travelling on a budget, we have put together our tried and tested travel itinerary that we recently followed while visiting Vietnam. It will take you on a whirlwind stop to experience some of the best bits this country has to offer all in under ten days.

Overview of the Route:

Ho Chi Minh City – Nha Trang Bay – Hanoi

You could arrive by flight to Ho Chi Minh city (SGN) airport in the south and head north, or you can begin in the capital city of Hanoi (HAN) in the north and head south and do the trip in reverse.

If you arrive at Ho Chi Minh City like us, spend a couple of days here before moving on to Nha Trang and finally on to the capital city of Hanoi and the nearby stunning Ha Long Bay. If you have more time, be sure to hit up the delightful ancient town of Hoi An from here.

2 NIGHTS IN HO CHI MINH CITY

Ho Chi Minh is the largest city in the country and has many historic and cultural locations to explore. The city alone is a wonder to behold given its French colonial structures and would require more than two days to see the whole of it but you can really catch the best bits in this short time. Plus, if it’s your first time here you might be a little overwhelmed by the chaos of the traffic, motorbikes on pavements, and the intense heat.

After resting the morning of your first day, spend the remaining time touring the city. A few great places to see are the Independence Palace, Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon and City Hall. The best means of transportation within the city is by taxi and it’s often best to arrange with your hotel to make sure you get the best price.

For a cultural experience you can catch a cyclo, which is a cycling rickshaw. Cyclo drivers are abundant in the city and often hang out near major hotels and markets ready to offer tourists a tour of the top attraction via cyclo. Fares are often around 12,000d to 25,000d for short trips and 25,000d to 40,000d for longer trips and trips at night, however, bargaining for the price is essential and should be agreed prior.

It’s also not uncommon for local people to offer you a ride on a motorbike for a small fee. This isn’t the safest option as they usually cram as many people as possible on one motorbike so we suggest avoiding it all costs.

On the second day, round up your Ho Chi Minh tour by visiting Bên Thành market where you can experience local food and pick up souvenirs. Here, you can bargain with the locals for a discount as much as 50% off the initial price.

3-4 NIGHTS IN NHA TRANG

The next stop is the coastal city of Nha Trang, located in the south central of Vietnam. From Ho Chi Minh you can reach Nha Trang by the overnight sleeper train or bus but be sure to book in advance on 12go as they often sell out. If you are short on time it’s best to book a flight to Nha Trang Cam Ranh (CXR) as they are much quicker and easily affordable and you can spend four nights instead of three in Nha Trang. That way, you can really make the most your time at this stunning location that is characterized by scenic beaches and islands, and the perfect destination for a great adventure of water sports, nature tours, lazy beach days, and crazy nightlife.

Also, after booking the overnight sleeper train we were very disappointed as a travelling couple to find that our two ‘beds’ were very small, on the back row of the bus, and in between a family of international travellers. We couldn’t even sit up on the bed and the aisles on the coach were narrow. Given that it was over a ten hour trip and the coach was fully booked, we decided to opt out and take a direct flight the next morning. If you are an easy sleeper and don’t mind being cramped for a length of time then the coach trip shouldn’t bother you and is the more economic option.

After settling into Nha Trang, take to the water and explore the bay on a kayaking or rafting tour. This is a great way to explore the islands nearby including the popular Monkey Island, Bamboo Island and Ebony Island.

Later, take your pick from the other attractions the city has to offer such as the biennial sea festival, scuba diving, beaches, resorts, spas and water park.

By night, don’t miss your chance to party at the exclusive rooftop Skylight Bar that is often home to famous DJ’s. You can party all night while admiring the skyline from the 360-degree skydeck. You could even arrive early and enjoy dinner with a view at the clubs on-site restaurant, Chefs Club, which serves international asian fusion cuisine and overlooks the bay’s coastline from 43 floors up.

3 NIGHTS IN HANOI

After a three-four day stay at Nha Trang, make your way to the capital city of Hanoi. There is a train route from Nha Trang to Hanoi or you can easily book a flight for as little as £30 depending on the time of year and time of your booking.

In Hanoi, begin your tour by visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, a popular attraction in the city that doesn’t cost a penny. At the Mausoleum you will see the remains of the Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh preserved in glass. Make sure you wear appropriate dress because shorts, short skirts or sleeveless blouses are not allowed in the Ho Chi Minh complex, nor are cameras inside the mausoleum.

Next, head on to other attractions such as the One Pillar Pagoda, the Presidential Palace, the Fine Arts Museum, and Hoàn Kiên Lake. If you are keen on tasting foreign cuisines then a tour of the food streets will expose you to the various Hanoi dishes.

The final destination on this trip is from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay. Simply book on an excursion with one of the local tour operators a day or two before you plan to go. Trips range in price depending on the coach facilities and the tour operator you choose so make sure you shop around before booking.

It will take around three and a half hour hours to reach Ha Long Bay from Hanoi so make sure you take plenty of water, snacks, and a hand held fan wouldn’t go a miss as great air con on the bus is never guaranteed.

The tour includes a boat ride to Tit Top island where you can view the bay from a summit, sunbathe, kayak, raft, and interact with the locals. Aboard the cruise you will be served an authentic vietnamese buffet style dinner where you can expect fried tofu, rice, fish, and vegetables.

During this trip you will see the boat village where whole families are permanent residents on small fishing boats in the Ha Long Bay area. The scenery here is truly stunning and we highly recommend kayaking through the caves. For photographic insights into this excursion, see A Photo Journey Sailing Through Ha Long Bay by Boat and Kayak.

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 Find the Best Hotel Deals Anywhere in the World

With so many options available, finding the best hotel deals can be quite a challenge no matter where in the world you are travelling. To take some of the stress out of it for you and ensure you get the best deals whether you are travelling for a long weekend or taking a gap year, we have compiled a few tips and tricks that we have been using since we began travelling the world back in 2015. If you are ready to become a savvy traveller, read on!

Scout about on various intermediaries

Intermediaries such as Booking.com, Agoda, Hostel World, Kayak etc. offer a good variety of various types of accommodation for you to choose from. It really is great to see your options all in once place as you can easily compare the facilities and prices at each accommodation.

However, intermediaries set their own additional rate which means they often provide different prices. Make sure you browse on the various websites in order to get the best deals. For example, booking.com could be offering a 3-night stay for £160 inclusive of breakfast, while on Agoda you might find the same hotel WITHOUT breakfast or with different terms and conditions (i.e. non-refundable) for the same price, or even 10-20% higher/lower.

Therefore, you can make your decision based on the options. Would you rather pay £160 for a 3-night stay with breakfast and the option to cancel right up until the date? Or would you rather pay £140 for a 3-night stay without breakfast and risk losing your entire payment should your plans change. It really is worth considering such factors as it can save you money in the long run, and more money always means more travel.

Check out the hotels own website

Often hotels will offer deals if you book direct with them or you might find they are offering a complimentary breakfast for the same price. This is because intermediaries add an extra fee for acting as the middle man and connecting the hotelier with the consumer. However, when booking direct with the hotel, you eliminate the need for the middle man, thus eliminating the extra fee.

For example, during our recent trip to Geneva we reserved the hotel through booking.com at a rate of £1200 for 2 rooms, 4 people, 3 nights. While the flexibility to change the dates or cancel the booking entirely up until a day or two before our due arrival was appealing, breakfast wasn’t included and the price seemed fairly high compared to the rate of the ‘pay now/non-refundable’ option. After browsing on the hotels OWN website we came to realise the price was substantially lower at £850 AND included breakfast for our entire stay!

It is definitely worth the extra time to browse the various options available once you have decided on the accommodation you want to stay at. You could be making a huge saving or enjoying a few extra add-ons that will enhance your experience while saving you money when you arrive.

Book ahead

Often we hear people say how booking last minute will get you last minute discounts because the hotel are trying to get a quick sale rather than lose the money for an entire nights stay. However, based on experience, we say quite the opposite and our advice here is to always book ahead.

When booking last minute, there is always the chance that the hoteliers understand your desperation and take advantage of it. For example, let’s say you arrive in a new city late at night. The hoteliers know that you are not going to want to be roaming the streets with all your belongings for much longer. Therefore, they are able to charge you a hefty price based on your situation at that moment in time.

If you had booked ahead, you would have already had the accommodation at the best rate. When we say ahead, we say sooner the better. Once you know you are heading somewhere on a specific date, get that accommodation reserved. Even if there is a possibility that your plans might change, use the intermediaries mentioned above to at least make a reservation because the price of your reservation can even be lower than just turning up and hoping for the best. Also, becoming a regular member on booking.com could earn you ‘genius discount’ allowing you to save up to 10% off your entire booking. This might seem like a small discount but it can add up when you are travelling regularly.