It’s happened to the best of us, we either get a horrendous cold / flu, a bad case of travellers diarrhoea or something worse requiring admission to hospital. It’s bad enough when it strikes in your comfort zone, but what if all you have a suitcase of a few belongings and a crummy room without hot water? Here is a quick guide to help you in this situation;
1. Always always always take travel insurance, without question. Purchase a decent policy that provides medical cover for the whole duration of your trip as a minimum.
2. Make sure you always have some bottled water with you wherever you go. If illness or injury occurs, you will need hydration.
3. On every trip, take a few sachets of diarolyt or similar brands. They are sachets you mix with water to replace lost electrolytes in severe cases of vomiting and diarrhoea. Trust me, in such cases you may not be able to get to a shop and it’s important for your health to keep these balanced and yourself hydrated.
4. Check where the nearest clinics / hospitals are prior to departure. If you have a known medical condition, this is important!
5. Always take basic medical supplies away with you, not all places have easy access to these. The major ones I’d recommend is; antiseptic cream, paracetamol, ibuprofen, plasters, bandages, also lavender essential oil has fantastic healing properties. Keep them to hand, if you get an infection it’s best to manage it before it can become more serious!!
In light of the recent A Level results, there are likely thousands of teenagers currently in the UK at a loose end and perhaps you are one of them. You haven’t yet chosen a career path that warrants higher education and maybe you are scrambling through the competition to bag that summer job?
This is the not the time to be pulling your hair out, worrying about your future. This is the time to discover who you are and exactly what you want from this merry-go-round we call life. This is the absolute perfect timing to throw your essentials into a backpack and head of into the unknown as the glorious ‘backpacker’.
The world is a huge place and travel will teach you so much about life. Everyday will bring you opportunities to immerse yourself in a new culture and try food so exquisite you won’t miss your Sunday roast. It will bring people into your life who will mean so much to you and may never leave. Travel will teach you about change. It will teach you confidence and to love yourself and how to treat others with respect. Travel will teach you how to communicate with others, even when you do not speak the same language. It will teach you how to survive without your family and friends to lean on and most importantly, it will show you who you really are.
So when you return, your friends may be a year into their studies, but who will have the better education??
Is it scary? Yes. Is it hard? Yes. Is it possible? Absolutely.
There are companies on the market that specialise in tailoring your year out to explore the world and find you the best airfares to visit all the places you can fit on your list and can hold your hand right up until the day when you spread your wings and fly (well… board the plane!)
So what are you waiting for? The world is waiting for you.
*Warning!! Travel can be highly addictive and you may get the ‘travel bug’.*
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..
Once the ‘I Do’s’ are done, there is more often than not, an amazing honeymoon to look forward to.
During my years as a travel agent, I frequently encountered female clients who had booked their honeymoon and got a little carried away and made mistakes. You may be in this position right now and unsure on how to book your flights once you have legally changed your name.
This blog is here to help you!!
Firstly, don’t panic. The honeymoon is meant to be the antidote to the mounds of stress that accompanies the weeks or months of planning a wedding.
Your airline or travel agent is always very clear when it comes to instructions on booking your flights. Always book your ticket with the name exactly as it appears in your passport. Exactly. This means that even once your name has been changed legally by deed poll, it may appear differently as your maiden name in your passport. Always book the ticket with what is displayed in your passport.
What do you do if you have booked your ticket in your new married name but your passport is still in your maiden name?
The standard rule across the aviation industry is that scheduled airlines do not ever allow a name change. However, they sometimes are flexible on this. If you have made a mistake and booked your ticket in your new name (not as it appears in your passport), contact your airline or travel agent immediately. More often than not, the airline will allow you to travel on the ticket still if you take proof of the name change with you i.e. Birth certificate / marriage certificate. This is not gospel and you must contact the airline to clarify an exemption.
In developed countries, busy commuting to college or work, it’s easy to think this is normality for the entire world. We all moan about our governments and healthcare systems etc etc, but we hardly ever stop to appreciate the fact that we have them.
When travelling to the outback, farthest depths of developing countries, it’s only then when it hits you, hard, that there are people, families, children, who are ‘unknown’. They are not a statistic, they do not have a passport, they do not have a bank account. They live in the same clothes day in, day out, perhaps in a tent in the desert with nothing around for miles but their family.
I was fortunate enough to sit with such a family and drink tea with them in the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan some years back. There was not a trace of electricity or television. They had simple cushions and blankets under a basic tent to provide shelter from the punishing heat. Two young boys played up in the rocks while their parents sat with us and talked. They were generous and offered what they could and more importantly, they seemed happy. Imagine a life where education and employment doesn’t exist. Only skills for survival..
The youngest of the two boys was coughing, a lot. I work in healthcare so I could tell he had a pretty bad lower airway infection. This family, with their simple means of survival, had no easy access to antibiotics. Even a shower.
In the developed world we lose our minds because our network provider ‘crashes’ for an hour, disabling access to making phone calls. But this family, they had never seen an iPad before.
Having just returned from a trip to New York City, I noticed how expensive taxis have become compared to my last visit 5 years ago. I recall paying $50 for a taxi to and from the airport. This has now doubled! A round trip in a taxi will now cost around $200! I can’t comment on JFK as I didn’t commute this way, although from what I heard the taxi’s cost almost the same heading that way.
There is an alternative which is almost as convenient and considerably cheaper. The train!
On arrival to Newark airport, follow signs for ‘Air Train’ which takes you from the terminals and then get off at the ‘Train Station.’
Here you can purchase a train ticket from the NJ Transit machines which currently charge 13 bucks to Penn station. This is the stop you want for Manhattan and is directly next to Madison Square Garden and next to Macy’s.
Make sure you do not get off the train at Penn Newark, this is not correct for the city. Once you arrive at Penn station (New York), exit onto 7th avenue and you will find Madison Square Garden and a large taxi rank in front of you if you need wheels to get to your hotel.
Trains run approx. every 30 minutes. I used it both to and fro the airport and it was reliable and convenient for me. It can be annoying if you have large suitcases as there is not much room on the trains to store luggage, but I managed.
Travel isn’t always beaches, sunsets and floating around in awe. There are amazing perks, for sure! Don’t be fooled, there are very crappy bits too…
Top 6 Best Bits About Travel
1. Experience. By this I mean soaking in new sights, doing something new and challenging outside of your comfort zone; this is the best.
2. Meeting new people. We make friends constantly when we travel, and they are usually like minded people on our wavelength and they are the best!
3. Culture and dining. Seeing how other people get by day-to-day is truly enriching. Eating the food and flavours they create is a wonderful part of travel. Each nation has a signature dish and its great to try new things.
4. Climate. Often where we travel to will have a drastically different climate to home. Be it snow or sunshine, it’s great to experience a landscape with a different season. Skiing down a mountain, or laying on a beach topping up that tan… Bliss!
5. Activities. Travel always pushes us to our limits and a large percentage of people who travel are more likely to take part in something whilst away than they would at home. In turn, this makes us happier and builds self esteem.
6. Escape. By far one of the best bits about travel is escaping our own versions of reality. We imagine what it would be like to live in this land that is by any stretch, miles better than our own boring lives.
Top 6 Worst Bits About Travel
1. Exhaustion. Like it or not, travelling can be tiresome. Even once the hours, if not days of trekking through airports and surviving long haul flights is done, we want to cram our days with so much excitement that sometimes we forget to get enough rest at night and end up feeling like we need a holiday once the trip is over.
2. Creature comforts. Yes it’s great to ‘get away from it all’, but after a while we start to miss the simple things like our own bed, a kitchen to prepare the finer things in life (such as a cup of tea and some toast!) and the sofa. Even people or pets are comforts we miss when away!
3. Mosquitos. Or any ‘foreign creepy crawly’ that we have never seen before and therefore are not certain if it will kill us just by looking directly at us.
4. TD. This is an abbreviation for travellers diarrhoea. Anyone who travels to other continents often will be familiar with this one. It’s often caused by undercooked street food or even tiny particles of faeces in your food. Yum.
5. Jet lag. Especially on an around the world ticket, you are forever trying to get your body climatised and adjusted to your new home. Chances are, by the time you sync up with your zone, it’s time to leave.
6. Language barriers. Let’s face it, our arms get tired from gesturing everything we are trying to say. When we eventually return home we notice we speak in simple language. We may approach a stranger in the street and ask, “You… Have…. Time??”
Hotels in Manhattan are notoriously overpriced in general, so on a recent visit I was keen to cut back some pennies. I have known of the hotel Pennsylvania 2* for many years having booked it for thousands of clients and I actually walked past it 5 years ago. It’s well known for being a good budget hotel (starting rates around $150 per night) in the city centre. I have had mixed reviews about the hotel and was honestly not expecting much at all on arrival on a recent six day city break.
The first thing that shocked me was the size of the hotel, it has around 2,000 rooms and towers high (much like many New York buildings) and the queue for check in.
After a long day of travelling, a 45 minute wait to get to the front desk was not ideal. Properties of this magnitude will always have drawbacks. BUT, on the flip side, having a room on the 12th floor meant so much of the New York noise couldn’t be heard when sleeping which is a massive bonus and something most people do not think about when booking a hotel. The check in staff were very friendly and professional.. Worth the wait.
The bedrooms are a little dated and the bathrooms, although clean could certainly have a little revamp. The beds are very comfortable. I think the mattresses were the fancy hypo allergenic sprung types with a topper, which my back appreciated after battling the city each day.
A very bizarre thing happened during our stay. We had a ‘do not disturb’ tag on our door so house keeping did not visit. But, on our return, there was an extra fridge freezer in our room! We couldn’t understand why it had been brought in as we already had one and we certainly hadn’t asked for it. I half expected to find an oven the next day…!
The room keys frequently decided to fall asleep during our visit requiring a frustrating 60 minute round trip to reception and security etc etc to gain access to our room.
Facilities at the hotel are decent, hotel guests have access to an Olympic size swimming pool next door free of charge and if you are offered breakfast, take it!! It’s at a buffet cafe accross the street and is fantastic; salad, fruit, cereal, bagels, pancakes, toast, hot food, tea, coffee and juice…. I am salivating whilst writing this just remembering it. There are also a few stores inside the hotel and a coffee shop. Seating is available in the lobby, but there could be a little more given the amount of guests. The hotel is wheelchair friendly as there are ramps / lifts available.
The best bit by far, location location location!! The hotel is directly opposite Penn train station (which operates a direct train to Newark airport), and Madison Square Garden. The hotel also has several subway stations within a few minutes walk. Times Square is about a 15 minute walk north of the hotel and Central Park another 15 minutes north.
Overall, I was happy with my stay. Would I stay here again? Absolutely. Would I recommend it to others? Definitely. Suitable for all ages? Yes, although in my opinion it is perhaps a little more suited for 18-45 years. Friendly staff? Yes, and mostly very helpful.
I was pleasantly surprised by my stay and if you are considering staying here, do not let bad reviews put you off. It is budget accommodation so don’t expect a 5* hotel, but it’s a great gem in the heart of Manhattan.
Picture this – a world without people in it. Travelling to other countries without anybody to see or talk to. Sure there would still be art and beautiful beaches. But if there were either no people there, or everybody was the same, travel would simply be dull.
Culture or language would not exist without people. Some of my favourite experiences while travelling have only been brought to life because of the people that surrounded me, even if they were just…. strangers.
I love photographing strangers while I’m travelling. If I see people talking in a photograph, I imagine what they are talking about, or where they are walking to. Watching people celebrate festivals or even funerals in a different way than I have only known in my own, “normal” life, is magnificent.
Here are my favourite photographs of strangers that I have taken during my travels over the world.
I feel that photographing strangers is the best way to reflect on your travels and really discover the culture of the places you visit. You can learn so much from people you don’t know.
I have travelled solo on several occasions. It is different to travelling with companions because you connect more with your surroundings and the culture and really find yourself.
In developed or the western world, being female isn’t an issue. However, in some countries travelling alone as a woman can be a problem. I’ve lost count of the times locals asked me where my husband was when I was travelling alone. This doesn’t overly concern me but there are some destinations I would think twice about venturing to with just my backpack.
I have compiled a list of the top ten destinations recommended for solo female travellers, based on culture, shock factor, variety, personal experience and recommendations. These are also fantastic destinations for chaps too!
In fact all of the west coast of America including San Francisco, LA and Vegas. Seattle is popular with solo travellers because of the many tourist attractions which include the infamous space needle, Pike Place market, Ballard lochs, the great wheel and the many, many beautiful parks. It’s a fabulous city nestled next to incredibly beautiful forests, parks and ferry boats to take in the views.
2. New York City
New York, New York. What can I say? With Times Square, radio city hall, Madison square garden, shopping, theatres, sightseeing and architecture, Central Park and the Statue of Liberty, the city is your best friend when you are travelling there. You don’t need actual friends too.
3. Great Britan.
With places like London, the New Forest, Cornwall, Wales, the Peak and Lake districts, Scotland and Ireland, you don’t need travel companions, just a lot of time to see it all. Castles and countryside, cities and lakes.. We are a lovely welcoming bunch over here anyway, come and say hi!
Barcelona is one of my favourite European cities and I would travel months here by myself in a heartbeat. It’s got everything anybody could want in a city; charm, culture, impossibly beautiful buildings, a stunning beach, great nightlife, history and museums and a huge selection of music and food options.
5. Sri Lanka
A friend of mine lived in Sri Lanka for many months, volunteering in a turtle sanctuary. She loved it, felt very safe and made heaps of friends. Sri Lanka is beautiful, has loads of gorgeous beaches and bustling towns and the people are very welcoming.
Anyone who has been will know that Thailand is one of the friendliest and most welcoming countries in the world, not to mention luminous. It attracts backpackers from all over the world so you are sure to make friends to travel with. It’s vast landscape means much time can be spent city surfing or island hopping.
7. South America
This is very broad, I admit. But the countries recommended would be Peru (for Machu Picchu), Argentina and cross the border into Chile, Buenos Aires and Rio for the yearly famous carnival.
I had the most incredible experience of my life travelling Bali solo. It’s a magical place with beautiful people and indescribable landscapes. There is so much to see and do from white water rafting to cooking classes, riding a bike through Ubud, visiting markets or surfing.
Many Brits head over to Oz on a working visa and never return home. I can’t imagine why, with all of that sunshine, beer and beaches on offer.
10. New Zealand
National parks, waterfalls, movie sets. It’s one of the most ‘liveable’ places in the world and attracts backpackers worldwide.