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!

6 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Tokyo for the First Time

Tokyo is one of the most exciting cities in the world where you can enjoy unique and unforgettable experiences. From seeing the largest Mountain in Japan to exploring the city by Mario Go Kart, you won’t go short of fun things to do in this exciting city.

However, there are many things first time visitors need to be aware of when visiting Japan’s capital for the first time from correct etiquette when out in public places to avoiding disappointment when visiting top attractions. Spending a bit of time planning your trip before you go can ensure you have a more satisfactory trip and get to see and do all the things you planned to.

Having learned the hard way during our first visit to Tokyo, we want to ensure you don’t experience the same pitfalls as we did. Therefore, we have compiled our list of 6 things you should know before visiting Tokyo for the first time. This includes how to behave in public areas, using public transport (including getting to and from the both Narita and Haneda airport), the best times to see cherry blossoms, how to ensure you are equipped to experience one of the top tours in Tokyo (Mario Go Kart), and finally, having realistic expectations of Mount. Fuji.

1. Be Aware of How to Behave in Public Areas

Japan is a country where respect is everything so as a tourist you should respect this rule and ensure you are aware of the basic manners, behaviours and etiquette to abide by when visiting this part of the world. A few basics that we learned the hard way where to cover up tattoos in public, keep a low voice (i.e. no shouting) in public areas, and do not eat or drink in the street or on public transport.

A word on tattoos: When awaiting the check-in time for our hotel after a sleepless night of travelling from Hong Kong, we visited another hotel to laze about by the outdoor pool. Upon arrival, we were kindly informed that Brett couldn’t go in unless he covered up his entire forearm tattoo. We then had to leave the hotel to seek out a local pharmacy where we purchased a cover up for his arm that was suitable for swimming. In order to avoid being in this situation, make sure you cover up any tattoos when visiting public areas and this includes both small and large tattoos.

Keep a low tone when out in public: Being quiet when out in Japan is also a must so make sure you don’t raise your voice as this may seem aggressive or disrespectful and could land you in some trouble. Even if you are simply expressing excitement, ensure this is in a soft and quiet manner.

Tipping isn’t expected: Although in many European and American countries it’s often polite to provide a tip to hospitality staff as restaurants, taxi drivers or your hotel, for example, it’s quite the opposite in Japan. Tipping is often not expected given that the Japanese believe that good service is the standard and attempting to provide a tip may result in your it being refused and handed back to you.

If you insist on tipping, it’s recommended that you place the money in an envelope to hand it over, rather than pulling money directly from your pocket or purse. However, given that tipping is not expected by the Japanese, it can be more polite to not provide a tip and just express your gratefulness for a great service by thanking the employees and keeping your money to yourself.

Additional points to consider: Other things to consider which might seem disrespectful are pointing with your finger, staring at locals, being on the phone in public, blowing your nose in public (make sure you go the toilet for this) and counting change when you have made a cash payment. Overall, ensure you read around Japanese etiquette before visiting the country to avoid upsetting the locals and if you take anything from this post, remember that quietness and respect go a long way in this country.

2. Using Public Transport in Japan

The Japanese public transport network is known for being clean, reliable, and offering an excellent, efficient service. As with most major cities, visitors are provided the option of bus, subway or train with the subway being the most convenient and preferred way to get around the city (including ours). You can buy multi-day tickets that can be used throughout 1-3 days costing around 800-1500 Yen (approx. £6-£12), which can be more convenient and save you time each day.

Although the underground system isn’t the easiest to understand given the vast size of the metropolitan area, taking taxis can be timely (given the inner-city traffic) and costly, so it could pay off in the long run to try your best at getting to grips with the underground system.

Granted, the subway can be even trickier for foreigners who don’t understand the local language given that there the majority of signs etc. are in Japanese. However, bear in mind that the locals are often more than happy to help and you could always ask the ticket staff although a high level of English language isn’t guaranteed so getting to know a few basics of the local language could go a long way. Alternatively, Google Translate could be your new best friend.

3. Pre-book Airport Transfer or Take Public Transport

During our first trip to Tokyo, we arrived at Haneda Airport during the early hours of the morning so public transport was limited. We joined the orderly taxi queue and as we were surviving on no sleep, we didn’t even realise we had been bundled into a local black cab (i.e. the more expensive taxi!). It wasn’t until 15 minutes into the journey, Brett noticed the metre quickly growing and when we finally arrived at our hotel around 25 minutes later we were blown away by the fee, which was the equivalent to more than 32,000 Yen (approx. £250)!

For just a short 25 minute journey, we paid the equivalent to more than one nights stay in our hotel. We quickly learned that getting around by taxi was not the most economic mode of transport to say the least. For the rest of our time in Tokyo, we walked and took the subway.

However, when leaving Tokyo and travelling to Indonesia on an early morning flight, we decided to take the train rather than pay 38,500 Yen (approx. £300) for a taxi as quoted by our hotel. We caught the subway to central Tokyo and after some running around we eventually found the platform where the first airport train was due to arrive. The JR Narita Express takes around one hour to reach the airport and costs around 3000 Yen (approx. £24) one-way with departures every 30-60 minutes.

When the train stopped, we were informed that we couldn’t board with the tickets we had purchased as the JR Narita Express is reservation only so pre-booked seats are required. We were then challenged with running back to the ticket office to purchase the correct tickets and overall it was a lot of fuss and unnecessary stress that could have been avoided had we planned our trip more carefully and known this vital information.

So when you are visiting Tokyo, make sure you have either pre-arranged airport transfer or ensure your flight lands during the hours that public transport is operating to avoid a hefty taxi fee like we did.

Also, if you travel by train, make sure you pre-book your seats. We recommend doing this online or have your hotel book it for you as trying to achieve this at the various train stations like we did could result in a lot of lost time and money and a lot of stress in fear of missed flights!

4. Realistic Expectations of Mount. Fuji Tour

One of the main attractions for people visiting Tokyo is to take a day excursion to see the wonderful Mount. Fuji (or Fuji-san in Japanese), Japan’s highest and most prominent mountain standing at a staggering 3,776 metres high. Located around 60 miles west of the Tokyo-Yokohama metropolitan area, Mount. Fuji attracts over 250,000 visitors per year.

Although it has remained dormant since its last eruption in 1707, geologists still classify it as an active volcano. There are many options for experiencing the mountain and visitors can opt to climb or take a full or half day tour by bullet train or cruise/bus tour. Check out Get Your Guide for more specific options and pricing, which varies from £50 upwards (approx. 6,500 Yen) and the option to add on extra activities such as shopping or fruit picking. You can also book tours locally while in Tokyo, which we recommend based on our experience below.

The mountain is best viewed from afar, so during our stay we aimed to book on a full day tour to experience the views of Mount. Fuji and the surrounding areas including shrines, hot spring towns and Lake Kawaguchi and Oshino Hakkai. However, when we headed to a local tour operator to book our day excursion, we were kindly informed that even on the clearest of days, the visibility of the mountain is limited.

During our stay, we hadn’t experienced the best weather in Tokyo but it had brightened up in the 24 hours prior to our visit and us aiming to book a tour. However, the forecast wasn’t that great so the tour operator suggested for us to not waste our money on the tour that would have cost us more than 25,000 Yen (approx. £200).

So if you plan on visiting Mount. Fuji during your trip to Tokyo, it’s recommended that you visit from Autumn to Winter. It’s visible from the capital on some days between November and February and rarely between April and August with September being Typhoon season, so again visibility is low.

We will be heading back to see the stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site in the future, this time with better planning!

5. International License Required for Mario Go Kart City Tour

One of the most exciting and popular tours in Tokyo is the Mario Go Kart city tour, a real-life Mario Kart experience. It’s exactly as it sounds, you dress as your favourite comic such as Mario or Luigi and explore the city by Go Kart for between two and four hours.

The tours are led by a local guide and you will get to see top attractions such as Tokyo Tower, Shibuya Crossing and Rainbow Bridge, among many others. You can even hire an action camera to record your entire journey, all you have to do is bring or buy your own SD card. The Karts are also equipped with Bluetooth speakers so you can enjoy your own music while exploring the city in the most exciting way.

Prices start from around 8,500 Yen (approx. £66) and vary depending on which of the three tours you decide to take and you can also access reduced-rate tickets via Voyagin. There are also a few things to consider prior to your tour with the most important being the correct drivers license.

Given that the Go-Kart experience takes place on the roads, it’s important that you have one of the following drivers licenses depending on your country of origin:

  1. A full Japanese Driver’s license
  2. SOFA driving license for US Forces Japan
  3. Passport with forieng driving license (issued in Switzerland, Germany, France, Taiwan, Belgium, Solvenia or Monaco) with Japanese translation by authorised organisation
  4. Passport with an international driving permit (issued by a signatory to the 1949 Geneva Convention)

It’s best to make sure you have the correct license prior to visiting in order to ensure you can take part in this exciting tour during your visit. For further information, click here.

6. Cherry Blossom Blooming Dates are Short and Sweet

When absorbed in the hustle and bustle of the fast-paced city life, it’s always nice to escape into nature for a while, which is why we always seek out parks and gardens on city breaks. During our visit to Tokyo, we visited Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden (featured in our 15 Photos that Will Make You Want to Visit Tokyo), which is one of the capital’s largest and most popular parks.

The gardens are conveniently located just a short walk from Shinjuku station and you just pay a small fee of 500 Yen upon entering through Shinjuku Gate. Then, you are free to wander the tranquil scenery and make your way through the many gardens including the Japanese Garden, English Garden and French Garden.

The gardens are one of the best places in the city to see the Cherry Blossoms. However, as we found out during our trip, they are in bloom for a very short period of time so it’s important to plan your visit accordingly if you aim to see them during your visit to Tokyo.

Ensure you double check when they are due to start blooming and plan your visit to coincide with this. Be aware that once they have begun to bloom, they hit full bloom around a week later and a further week later most of the blossoms will have fallen off the trees. This gives you just a two week window to see the wonderful pink cherry blossoms during your visit to Tokyo.

Also, the gardens open at 9am throughout the year, however, the closing hours vary from season to season so make sure you double check this too. High season (July-August) is often as late as 7pm, reducing to 6pm during mid-season (March-June and August-September) and 4.30pm during low season (October-March).

There are so many exciting things to see and do in the ultramodern city of Tokyo. We love this city because it isn’t like any other and you can easily combine exploring national parks and gardens with the hustle and bustle of the city centre. We hope these tips and tricks help planning your trip to this incredible part of the world!

 

7 Tips on Travelling as a Couple

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

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

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

1. Have patience and a flexible mindset

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Make team decisions and learn how to compromise  

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

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

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

4. Don’t let tiredness ruin your day 

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

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

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

5. Make friends outside the two of you 

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

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

6. Take time to yourself 

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

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

7. Take time together by arranging a weekly date night  

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

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

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

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

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

You can still stay in hostels, just pick them wisely

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

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

Costs can always be halved 

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

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

Safety in numbers 

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

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

Stay in an AirBnB and cook

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

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

Save costs on travel essentials and suitcase fees 

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

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

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

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

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

1. Jacks Flight Club

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

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

2. Momondo

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

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

3. Cheap Flights

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

4. Air Fare Watch Dog

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

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

5. Kiwi

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

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

How to change your hotel booking after ‘late cancellation’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Contact the hotel

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

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

2. Contact the booking agent

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

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

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

3. Booking agent confirms with hotel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Set up your own business  

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

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

2. Networking and advance your career

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

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

3. Meet someone new and start a new life abroad 

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

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

4. Develop interpersonal skills and worldly knowledge

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

5. Discover your calling  

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Remember, nothings permanent 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to 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.

 

5 Fun Activities To Do in Dubai

Now the hot-spot of the UAE and beyond, Dubai is a modern, cosmopolitan city that is packed with something for everyone, from shopping and dining at some of the worlds top restaurants to exploring the desert by 4×4.

The city strives to be the world’s first and best in many things, especially in the area of architecture, and the local people are proud of their country and its development to date. Dubai is home to the world renowned structures including the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. The city has been built to be explored and the tour companies in the UAE have not failed in offering exhilarating ways for tourists to explore the cities wonders.

Dubai is the perfect location for a long weekend break in between travelling to Asian/Australasian destinations such as Thailand, Bali, and Australia. Flights with Emirates often stop here for layover anyway, so you can always extend your stay for a couple of nights before continuing your journey. Incorporating Dubai into your trip will not increase your trip costs by much as flights tend to be around the same price whether you fly straight to Asia/Australasia or you stay a few nights in Dubai on-route.

To help you experience the best of Dubai in a long weekend, we have put together 5 of our favourite fun activities to have a go at while you are here.

1. Desert Safari

A desert safari is an opportunity to see the wonder that makes up a large part of the country. There are many tour operators such as Me and My Tourism and Arabian Adventures that offer this tour for around the same price (approx. AED230/£48 per person), so all you need to do is check them out and select one that suits you. The tour begins with a bumpy ride through the sandy terrain, bashing the dunes as you go in a 4×4 vehicle. Provisions are also made for tourists to stay overnight at ‘desert camp’ while being treated to local cuisine and enjoying henna tattoos and traditional entertainment. As part of the trip you can enjoy barbecued shawarma, shisha, belly dance entertainment, falcon handling, and a camel ride around the dunes, although these come at an extra cost to the trip so make sure you take some cash with you.

2. Yellow Boat Tour

The Yellow Boat Tour Company offers a great tour in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi in their famous yellow inflatable boats. The tour provides tourists with the opportunity to see how magnificent the city really is when viewed from the waters. The tour is unique in that the boats are designed to cut through the waves at high-speed and the skippers are not afraid to ramp up the mph across the water.

The company offers general and exclusive tours to families, couples, corporate groups and single tourists. The Dubai tour begins at the marina before heading out to the open waters to take in the sights of the Palm Jumeirah where you can see the perfect view of Palm Jumeirah villas, owned by the rich and famous, as well as the royal family of Dubai. You might even get to see the royals pet tigers roaming the beach front garden. During this trip, you will also see the magnificent Burj Al Arab, the prominent Atlantis hotel and the ‘Miami of Dubai’ – the spectacular skyline that makes up the Dubai Marina.

As well as this guided tour, the Yellow boat company also offers fishing trips on the Arabian Gulf, as well as a variety of water sports. Prices start from AED158 (approx. £32) for a 1 hour Yellow Boat Tour and AED945 (approx. £196) for a 3 hour fishing tour.

3. Jet Ski Tour

Jet skiing has again become a thing in Dubai after the authorities eased on the restriction they previously put on the sport. Nowadays, there are many operators such as Sea Ride Dubai and Ride in Dubai that are ready to guide you on a tour around the island taking a similar route to the Yellow boat company mentioned above. This tour is an exciting way to experience the water and see the landmarks of Dubai. Just like the yellow boat tour, you get to see the towering structures from the sea while handling your own jet ski for an hour on the waters. Prices start from AED350 (approx. £72) for 30 minutes and AED600 (approx. £125) for 1 hour.

4. Dinner Cruise

A dinner cruise in a traditional Dhow converted to a floating restaurant has become a tradition in Dubai. You can have a quiet lunch or a merry dinner with traditional entertainment as the Dhow cruises along the creek or the marina waters. These floating restaurants do not only offer traditional arabic food and parties, they let you see the city in a whole new light at night. Check out Xclusive Yachts and Dhow Dinner Cruise Dubai. Prices vary depending on the company and level of service you book and can range from AED141/£30 – AED242/£60 per person.

5. Shop Like Never Before

Let’s not forget the real deal in Dubai – shop until you drop! Dubai is a popular shopping destination that is only growing year on year following the development of countless shopping malls, including the Mall of the Emirates and the biggest mall in the world today – Dubai Mall. There is nothing you won’t find here and you can even experience the indoor Aquarium and Underwater Zoo (prices start from AED141/£30 per person) where you can admire the fascinating underwater world. Here, you can even experience cage snorkelling and shark diving. Virtual Reality (VR) ZOO (approx. AED30/£6) lets you take a trip to the jungles of Africa and Asia to find jungle animals you might never have seen face to face. The Burj Khalifa is also accessible from the Dubai Mall, but be sure to grab your tickets online as they are much more expensive when you purchase from the box office within the mall. Online, prices start from AED141  (approx. £30) per adult and AED106 (approx. £22) for children and you will pay slightly more to access the higher levels. Also, make sure you are plan your trip within the opening hours (8.30-14.30 and then 19.00 until closing).

There are so many fun activities to do in Dubai and here we have listed our top five. As always, we recommend searching around for the best service with a competitive price. Booking online can often save you 10% off the entire booking so its always best to compare a few companies and check the online price before booking with your hotel or direct with a travel agent when you are in the city.