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?

5 Activities for a Rainy Day in Ubud, Bali

Bali is well known for its glorious warm weather that attracts lots of visitors from all over the world throughout the year. But, just like similar destinations such as Thailand and the Philippines, it is also prone to tropical thunder storms and heavy downpour, which can come and go quickly, but often they like to stick around for a little while.

On our previous trip to Ubud, Bali, we found ourselves in this very situation. While we had initial excitement experiencing the thunderstorm from our balcony at Ubud View Bungalow, we hadn’t really thought of any activities that didn’t involve being out in the lovely sunshine such as exploring temples, wandering the markets, or simply lazing by the pool.

As the thunderstorm continued overnight and into the morning, we found ourselves pondering on what to do with our days not knowing how many we would have to fill with ‘rainy day’ activities.

After some serious thought and a little research, we managed to compile a list of several fun things we could do while the thunderstorm continued outside.

We quickly figured out that if a thunderstorm calls for anything, its a bit of self-care such as a spa day or yoga class and a bit of indulgence such as enjoying delicious food and drinks.

As the rain continues to pour down here in the UK, this seems like a fitting time to reflect and share our fun rainy day activities with you guys. While the list below is focused on our recommendations in Ubud, you can easily enjoy these or similar rainy day activities in other locations.

1. Take a Yoga Class

Ubud is well known as the ideal retreat for rejuvenation so it comes as no surprise that Yoga is thriving here. There are abundant Yoga retreats and classes available so you won’t be short of a place to practice.

In Ubud, you will be surrounded by lush greenery including jungles and rice paddies, which provides the perfect backdrop and tranquility to relax and unwind.

The Yoga Barn is one of the largest retreat centres in South East Asia and a popular location that provides classes and workshops year-round from early morning to late evening. The Yoga Barn is an artistically crafted studio and retreat centre that captures the true essence of Ubud and the island of Bali.

2. Lunch at The Alchemy

Take advantage of the rainy day weather by filling your tummy with delicious food, which you won’t go short of in Bali!

Our favourite spot here is The Alchemy for sure, which is the first 100% raw vegan cafe in Bali. It provides freshly prepared dishes that are free from refined sugar, flour, dairy, wheat and chemical additives. They offer a wholesome raw and vegan salad bar that serves the best buddha bowls in the area. You will find everything from zucchini pasta and coconut noodles, to raw burgers and curried vegetables.

The real treat here is the juice menu that is full of organic, energising juices, as well as the dessert bar serving mouthwatering raw chocolates, truffles, brownies and more. Situated in-store is the Alchemy’s own health store stocking superfoods, organic produce, and cosmetics for you to take home.

3. Take a Cooking Class with the Locals

Taking a cooking class will allow you to discover exotic Balinese fruits, herbs and spices and their medicinal properties too. Many are hosted by local families who provide private traditional Balinese cooking experiences where you can learn to cook local dishes such as Pepes Ikan and Bregedel.

You can sit back and enjoy the delicious dishes you helped to prepare from the family’s home while learning about life in Bali from people who have grew up there.

Many of these private experiences include extras such as a guided tour around Ubud and even pick-up and drop-off to and from your hotel.

The best part? You’ll be helping to support the local people and economy. TripAdvisor is a great place to find traditional Balinese cooking experiences and its always good to hear stories from others who have experienced it previously.

4. Cook Traditional Balinese Food with Local Produce

Depending on where you are staying you could even take advantage of cooking your own food using local ingredients.

Seek out fresh produce that you might not get back home such as Mongosteen and Durian (fyi, Durian tends to be touch and go due to the strong smell and taste and is often banned from hotels so perhaps only useful if you are in private accommodation).

You could always try your hand at recreating traditional dishes such as Nasi Goreng (rice with vegetables and egg). Brit and The Blonde have compiled a pretty good list of 10 Indonesian Dishes for Vegetarians that we highly recommend checking out.

5. Enjoy a Traditional Balinese Spa Treatment

In Ubud (and throughout Bali for that matter), you won’t go short of a spot to enjoy a spa treatment or two. They are on every corner (literally) and won’t break the bank either. Of course, the price is dependent on where you go for a treatment and which treatment you select, but there really will be something to suit all budgets.

For example, you will likely stumble upon more affordable masseurs as you are walking down the street and will pay a bit more in hotels and high-end spas but still affordable nonetheless.

We always opt for a full body massage and I tie in a facial too (its all about that self-care, right?). But, if the rain continues, why not get nails, hair, and a body scrub too!

After all, you have probably been travelling for some time, you deserve it…

If there is one thing we can guarantee, its that you won’t regret this expenditure as you will be fully relaxed and refreshed.

See, there really is no need to be disappointed when the rain hits in destinations such as Ubud. There are still plenty of activities to do while hiding out from the rain.  Plus, nothing beats the excitement of a tropical thunderstorm.

Our favourite thing is to sit back on the balcony at night (under shelter) with lots of snacks and watch the storm pound down. What are you favourite rainy day activities while travelling?

The Best Historical Sights in Vienna, Austria’s Cultural Capital

Vienna is a city full of culture and intriguing historical structures to explore. The baroque streetscapes are laced with beautiful architecture and imperial palaces are plentiful. With our short guide, we show you how to see the best of the city’s culture, which can be achieved in one long weekend.   

The majority of historical sights, grand architecture, art galleries and museums are located in the Museum Quarter, Museumsplatz, which is one of the largest cultural quarters in the world. Here, you will find abundant museums such as the Natural History Museum, the Leopold Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and not forgetting the stunning Hofburg Palace.

Below, is our short guide on how to soak up the best of the Viennese culture. You can easily explore the top cultural sights within one long weekend while also having time to indulge in the delicious cuisine. We recommend visiting during the Spring for beautiful weather so you can leisurely stroll around this beautiful city.

City Hall

IMG_1392The City Hall is located in the heart of Vienna in the Rathausplatz in the Innere Stadt district. Originally, the building was designed and built by former architect of the Cathedral of Cologne, Friedrich von Schmidt, and was considered the most important secular building in the neo-gothic style in the city between 1872 and 1883. To date, it is arguably one of the most stunning City Halls in Europe.

The Natural History Museum

IMG_1393The Museum of Natural History covers some square footage and comprises an extensive collection of world-famous and unique objects such as enormous dinosaur skeletons and both land and underwater creatures. It even has its own Digital Planetarium that shows full dome films and you can check out latest screenings here. A tour inside to explore the 39 exhibit halls will take you on a journey through the ages.

IMG_4647The National History Museum offers a great way to spend a long afternoon and we recommend allocating around 2-3 hours to cover the entire museum at leisure. Plus, you can take a short break at the café, which serves traditional Viennese coffee specialities, pastries and traditional snacks as well as main dishes during lunch hours.

Hofburg Palace

Stunning Hofburg, The Imperial Palace, was the residence and seat of government of the Habsburg emperors until 1918. Today, it is home to numerous museums with outstanding collections such as the Spanish Riding School, a congress centre, the seat of the Austrian Federal President as well as the historic Heldenplatz.

The Austrian National Library

The Austrian National Library is the countries largest library and central memory institution. As you can see from the photos, the interior is absolutely stunning and you will be amazed by the historical collections of unique artefacts, manuscripts, photographs, maps and globes.

IMG_4686The library is home to over 3.9 million books and besides attracting lots of international visitors, it is a great meeting place for researchers and students.

St Stephen’s Cathedral

IMG_4575

St Stephens Cathedral is a must for every visitor to Vienna. For more than 700 years, the cathedral has been the symbol of Vienna and today, it remains one of the most important and iconic Gothic structures in Austria. Inside, you can climb the 343 steps up the tower and enjoy breathtaking views of the city.

The National Theatre

Us

The Austrian National Theatre, also known as Burgtheater, is one of Europes largest theatres. Located opposite the City Hall, the venue attracts over 400,000 theatre-goers to over 800 performers each year. The stunning white building with marble features is adorned with statues of famous writers such as Goethe and Schiller. Inside, the theatre provides a great atmosphere for cultural events such as Austrian playwrights. It has a world-wide reputation for dramatic art and is proudly one of the first German-speaking theatres in Europe.

Other beautiful buildings around Vienna

IMG_4601It’s not just the wonderful historical buildings that are now home to museums and art galleries that have the most beautiful architecture, the city is laced with it. Almost every corner you turn will present you with a stunning sight, that’s why we recommend visiting in the spring or summer months so you can enjoy a stroll around the inner streets at leisure.

 

Have you visited Vienna before? We’d love to hear about your trips to one of our favourite European cities!

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.