How often should we travel?

Whilst some people’s idea of happiness is to get a mortgage and pay off their debts, enslaved to a full time job, this is the idea of hell to others. 

In an ideal world we should be travelling constantly. We were not designed to buy a house and never leave it. The world is impossibly large for a reason, to explore it.

So if, like me, you cannot afford to travel constantly, so have the home and a full time job and waste hours dreaming about travel… How often should we get away?

When I used to work in travel, a month would never pass that I wasn’t on a plane, and I loved it! Nowadays I am lucky if I get away more than once a year. And I don’t even have kids or a mortgage. 

So I decided to travel with work, set up a new life across the country and start a fresh. It’s great because there is a whole new part of the world to explore and it’s fresh and exciting all the time. Although, nothing quite beats getting a flight and travelling a new continent..

  

*Guest Blogger* Packing Tips & Tricks for Travel

Packing Tips & Tricks for Travel – from guest blogger – http://www.rebateszone.com

Anyone who has ever found nature to be attractive will at one point in their life wish to visit one of the greatest artistic works of nature: The Grand Canyon. Who can withstand the lure of its layered bands of red rock and its huge expanse! The mule rides and the hiking are definitely worth the effort. Sometimes people who like their nature green have a difficulty in accepting that bare rocks can be beautiful as well. But, even they would admit that the mile deep natural formation is beautiful in its own way.

However, this isn’t your weekend trip. It can be made into one, if you live close enough, but The Grand Canyon requires some special preparations. You cannot appear before the King in your humble clothes, who knows, he may have you killed for the insolence. If you like to be up and close with it, it is best to start planning the trip well ahead of time. The first order of business is packing right for it. Depending on when and where you decide to go, you may have to take special clothing with you. The South Rim is generally pleasant in the Summer, so we suggest you go there.

Nevertheless, it is best to start with making a list of the things that are recommended for the trip. These can include hydration packs, clothing, toiletries, a nice camera, etc. A good backpack from Backcountry is essential (http://www.rebateszone.com/backcountry-promo). This is even more important if you plan on a hiking trip in addition to sightseeing. Optimal weight distribution will help you stay on your feet for longer. If you plan to take toiletries in the same bag as your camera, it would be best to seal them off in a separate bag.

But, this is just the tip of the iceberg, to become a master back packer; we suggest reading through the following info-graphic, which has been prepared just for you.

Thank you to Jose Gonzalez for creating this useful post, with helpful hints for packing.

If I can add one bit of advice; if taking electronics on board, please make sure they are fully charged in case of security requesting you turn it on. If it does not switch on, they could confiscate your belongings!!

Please feel free to check out more at http://www.rebateszone.com

 

New York City in a Nutshell

New York City in a Nutshell

One of the first thing that surprises me about New York is the size of it. Coming from London which is over 1,500 km2 and homes just over 8.5 million people, New York City is a measly (in comparison) 789 km2 and houses more residents at around 8.7 million. That’s 11,000 people per km2. Not accounting for the hoardes of tourists that flock to the city on the daily…!! You can actually rarely see the sky due to the vast amount of skyscrapers.

  
On arrival to the New York airports, prepare for severe interrogation from immigration. My officer actually asked me for the reason I broke up with an ex boyfriend I had travelled to New York with some five years previously. The only response I could give was, ‘he wasn’t a great egg..’

Whatever time of day or night it is, if you are near Times Square, daylight cannot be detected. At 10pm the skies are brighter than a summers afternoon.

You can’t smoke anywhere in the city! All bars and restaurants have made their outside areas (and within 25 ft) totally non smoking. You are not permitted to smoke in the parks. So if you’re a smoker, try to find a stoop or quiet sidewalk. This is not a bad thing!

The subway is gross. It’s cheaper than Londons equivalent – The Underground (which it actually copied the idea from), but you can tell. It’s quick and convenient, though.

Getting a taxi has become increasingly difficult during the summer months. One day, on fifth avenue in a desperate rush, I was actually reduced to tears and was bargaining with a New Yorker who was trying to get home so I could make it 15 blocks to an important meeting. If you can get the subway, do it!

If you’re in the world’s shittiest mood,  or ecstatically delirious, New York City just works. There is no inbetween.

That Flighty Feeling…

… Nothing compares to that feeling you get when you have booked the flights you have been pondering on for several weeks.

I just did it!

Next month, a week in New York City, followed by a trip to Bali and Singapore!

It’s been too long, international travel…

There is no such thing as travelling ‘alone’..

There is no such thing as travelling ‘alone’..

There is definitely a stigma attached to the word – alone.

There shouldn’t be, and here’s why..

We are all alone.

We are all brought into and out of the world equally. People we meet along the way are companions. There to fill us with company and love, sometimes with upset and pain. But the fact remains the same, we are still, always…. Alone. How you fill your time is up to you.

So why is there a stigma attached with travelling alone? I suppose people might consider it a safety risk… But guess what? You can easily be attacked as a two-some as you could travelling alone. If anything, you could be an easier target for attack in a group because you let your guard down.

People may even think… ‘Don’t you have any friends?? You must be a loner to travel by yourself..’ Well, I’m here to tell you, officially – screw them, and their opinions.

Travel can be equally or more amazing when travelling by yourself. But this is not a unique situation of ‘alone-ness.’ It just means you are travelling without company. And it can be incredible.

The stranger in a pub and his advice…

The stranger in a pub and his advice…

I love it when you meet a complete stranger and they say something to you…. A simple sentence that just falls from their lips like an old apple from a limp tree branch. But THAT sentence will stay with you forever. The stranger has no idea that their blaze alcohol fuelled babble with give you a piece of advice that will change your life forever.

I was sat in a bar one summers afternoon with a friend and we began chatting to a man who had flown back into the UK from Japan where he has been living for several years, teaching English. Due to our mutual love of exploring the other continents, the conversation drew in towards my favourite subject… ‘Travel’

At this point, I had never travelled alone before and was toying with the idea of booking a long haul solo trip to Asia and Australia for a few months. But! I was in a long term relationship. One that I thought was very happy at the time. I didn’t want to leave him for several months and I discussed this with the stranger.

What he said to me changed my life.

“In five years time, which will you regret more? Not going travelling or risking the relationship?”

Sure enough, five years have passed since that comment. I went travelling. The relationship didn’t last, and I can honestly look back with no regrets because I found my passion in life and I found myself. 

 

How to Get an Extra Holiday for FREE and Avoid Long Layovers on Connecting Flights and What Exactly a ‘Transit’ or ‘Stopover’ Means.

How to Get an Extra Holiday for FREE and Avoid Long Layovers on Connecting Flights and What Exactly a ‘Transit’ or ‘Stopover’ Means.

Some people will know a little about this. I know that many others know nothing at all, I hope this post helps all of you in some way in your future travels.

When you are travelling super duper long haul, there is only a maximum amount of distance one flight can take you due to fuel restrictions etc, so it’s very common to take a connecting flight to your destination. Sometimes these flights have 2 or more ‘transits’. A transit is basically when you remain airside at an airport in any given destination, without clearing immigration, awaiting boarding your connecting onward flight. This means you have booked the entirety of your journey on one ticket and any checked luggage will be sent through to your final destination for you, and you just need to change aircraft.

More often than not, flights with one or more transits are much cheaper than flying direct, so this is a great way to save some coins if time is on your side.

So, you may often find amazingly cheap flights that involve a connection time at an airport of over ten hours. This is often because of busy dates and limited availability on the flights with good connection times. Take note;

  • This can be excruciatingly dull and you can easily spend what you saved on the flight cost actually inside the airport.
  • Officially a ‘transit’ is only a transit if your connection is under 8 hours. This means you may require a transit visa for 8 hours and 10 minutes, incurring more fees.
  • Anything over 24 hours will certainly require a visa, if required in your stopover destination.

So basically, if you are only considering doing a long transit to save a few pennies, I would say it’s not worth it.

BUT… There is a much better solution. 

  • Be flexible with your dates. Moving your outbound date by just one day could shorten your total journey time by many hours and free up availability in your perfect connecting flight.
  • Abuse the situation and swap your awful long transit to a stopover!!

What is a stopover, you ask?

A stopover is a planned break in your journey. For example, say you book a flight from London- Sydney, with a transit in Dubai. Your luggage will be checked from London to Sydney and in Dubai, you change planes. What you CAN do is actually book a flight to Dubai, stay for a few days and then fly onwards to Sydney. This means you will collect your hold bags at Dubai, clear immigration, leave the airport and return to check in again for your Dubai – Sydney flight. * Please note that all ticket rules vary and whilst many airlines offer this free of charge, some will charge a small fee and there will likely be a small airport tax increase. 

So, if you are flying through Dubai anyway, make the most and tick that country off your list.

Emirates via Dubai is just an example but this can work on almost ANY flight ticket with a transit.

Happy free holiday hunting!

Short Haul Winter Sun for Brits in April

Short Haul Winter Sun for Brits in April

Where is hot in April? 

This is a question I asked myself whilst looking for a hot break somewhere next month.

April is right on the cusp of winter and summer for many destinations in Europe so it’s hard to know where to choose to go if you’re in search of sunshine. I have written this blog to give some inspiration for short haul winter sun from the UK. Short haul, I classify as under 5 hours flight time.

1.

The Canary Islands are mountainous, pretty, volcanic islands off the East coast of Africa and are pretty much in line with the Sahara Desert. They are touristy and often have beaches packed with British tourists. The four main islands are Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. Temperatures in April range from 18-20 degrees but often can get hotter.

  
2.

Egypt offers guaranteed sunshine year round. Resorts such as Sharm El Sheikh, Luxor or Hurghada are nestled far away enough from political unrest and are in my opinion, tourist friendly and safe. Temperatures in April average at 25 degrees.

  
3.

Morocco offers many cultural attractions such as the city of Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains, along with beautiful beach resorts. Temperatures in April average between 18-24 degrees.

  
4. 

Malta and Gozo are pretty much as far south you can get in the Meditteranean. They get very warm from May onwards but in April you can look at averages of around 20 degrees.

  
5. 

Cyprus in Europe is verging into the Middle East heat zone and it’s truly a superb country. I’d recommend hiring a car and spend your days exploring. They drive on the left also! Temperatures in April average t the slightly cooler 16 degrees but often reach 21 degrees.

  
6.

Jordan. OK, this is a smidge over a 5 hour flight, but this is my favourite short haul destination. With jam packed fun in the desert, the ancient city of Petra and the Dead Sea on offer, it’s worth the extra bit of flying. Temperatures in April average 28 degrees! Don’t go in July because you will burst into flames.

  
7.

Tunisia. Many people are put off travelling there are the terrorist attacks last year. One could argue that perhaps it is now one of the safest places to travel to. Temperatures in April are averaging around 16 degrees.

   

Alone at Christmas…

Alone at Christmas…

If you are on a long term trip or temporarily living abroad, one of the hardest times is being separated from loved ones during the festive period.

Christmas, for most, is a time to spend with those nearest and dearest and share – love!!!

For me, it’s important to spend it with family. My family are very spread out and not particularly close. But, at Christmas, we all stop for a day and spend it with each other. I normally adore Christmas.

This is going to be my first Christmas alone. I am sadly not travelling, I am working. I chose a career in healthcare which does not stop when Santa visits. I have also just experienced a relationship break up and am now living alone again. This got me thinking about people all over the world who, for whatever reason, cannot spend Christmas with their loved ones.

There has been a lot of press about people who are alone this Christmas and it encouraged me to look into it. It breaks my heart to think of elderly, homeless or lonely people who have nobody or nothing over Christmas. Loneliness and depression increases. It’s no wonder that January has the highest suicide rate of any month.

Let’s all take a minute to think of those less fortunate than ourselves over Christmas, or even donate your time or a small amount of money to a local homeless shelter. Check on your elderly neighbours who live alone or even better, invite them for dinner.

  

Great… Wall

After several weeks of nothing but horrific, gut wrenching nightmares while I sleep… Last night I dreamt that I quit my job and walked the entire length of the Great Wall of China. I had no idea I even wanted to do that!

Dreams are funny things that really influence your mood and decisions. I had best start researching flights to Ulaanbataar!