Category Archives: travel

travel

Is there need for paper travel guides in the next decade?

Travel guides…once a must-have companion for globe-trotting now seem to have lost their way amid an endless sea of online content – whether just socials, videos, or even humble blogs like this here publication. Of course, these titles have also expanded online, but with patchy updates and content hidden for the paid-for editions, they don’t seem too dissimilar from any free content.

So, is there any need for paper travel guides in 2019/2020?

1. Authority and Trust.
The idea is that the person who’s been commissioned to do a travel guide is a respected, neutral and trustworthy source and so worth listening to. In theory that makes sense. However, when I read that a really big name publication wasn’t paying fair wages – which encouraged writers to not visit everywhere they wrote about and also try to get as many freebies to actually be able to afford to live – it got me wondering about how these people are any different from the millions of bloggers out there.

2. Maps and routes
One of the best things I used enjoyed about guide books was using their maps, they were well-designed and had all the places of interest cleverly pinned. Sadly with the introduction of online maps, complete with everything of interest labelled and transport and travel times, plus the ability to create your own maps has left these in the dust.

3. Itineraries 
I would argue, despite online maps being incredible useful, that one of the strong suits of travel guide books is their suggested itineraries. If you’re planning a big trip across lots of places, they are extremely useful in their suggested routes and timings that will not always be easy to judge from online research. For example, the fact the ferry leaves only on the last Tuesday of the month, that once a week bus route is something you don’t wanna miss!

4. Out of date
As mentioned earlier, these publications do have online presences, but sadly the fast changing nature, particularly of out of the way places, means hotels, restaurants, and other sites they write about in their main editions are prone to close, move or suddenly be not worth visiting. So you will always end up online to find what you need.

5. When you just read them for fun
If you really want to visit somewhere but life gets in the way, they do feel like a guilty pleasure to read in lieu of not actually going there ‘yet’. If you get a good, well written one it can inspire you to actually get off your ass and make that trip finally happen. Also they make your bookcase look much more interesting.

6. Inside knowledge
While trust can be an issue, if you get a good recommendation on a travel guide, I think it can still be worth snapping up for some proper inside knowledge. There are a few authors at certain guides who have lived, worked and travelled in their countries, meaning they offer real proper local tips and tricks that can actually save you quite a bit of money and time as well embarrassment.

Conclusion
So are travel guide publications still worth your time? I’d say increasingly not, unless you need a good cross-country itinerary or get a recommendation for a really well written one from someone who’s lived and travelled there extensively.

Do you use travel books?

London - travel

To Shoot Or Not To Shoot + Where To Take Guiltfree Photos In London

From Notting Hill in London and Rue Cremieux in Paris to Rainbow Row in Savannah, residents everywhere are complaining about people disturbing their day-to-day lives while holding photoshoots outside their front door. We’ve all been guilty of a snap or two in front of a colourful house, street art or cute doors. But who’s actually crossed the line and walked into someone’s porch, done a yoga pose leaning against a front door or even filmed a dance routine? And while it’s not exactly someone’s house, is trampling through flower fields for that perfect pixie photoshoot really worth it?

Is this an increasing phenomenon? We can all agree that articles like 12 Instagram Photo Spots in Paris That You Have To Visit, 15 Best Places to Take Pictures in London and 7 Pretty Cafes in New York are more and more ever-present, whether on blogs, or even bigger sites like CN Traveller and Visit London. I even recently read that 37% of Dutch people look for Instagrammable places to visit during a city trip – that’s quite a lot!

Now, of course this isn’t a new thing, remember picture postcards, seaside photo boards, and of course photographs in general (we’ve all got our horror stories of Auntie and Uncle bringing their holiday snaps to share), plus famous pop culture photo spots like the Beatles on Abbey Road and any movie set in Paris, New York or London. Today, the latest flavour is Instagram or your favourite social media platform of the month.

So why do we all want to snap ourself while on our travels? Is it for the memory, immortalising that moment, or for the likes? Either way, layouts, arranging people and composition can be a tough cookie to crack, especially if you’re in a bit of a rush, meaning it’s often so much easier to replicate something than to think of one yourself. Have you ever found a nice photo spot and suddenly found quite a few other people want to join and see what the fuss is all about?

William Shewell Ellis via Eastman Museum

This is definitely something Kodak must have realised when they introduced Kodak Picture Spots in the 1920s. Interestingly, the Kodak signs started as roadside markers across the US highlighting general points of interest to photograph, which helped popularise picture-taking behaviour. Then they found their way into Disney theme parks, national parks and historic landmarks. But now we’ve gone from helpful signs saying ‘Why not take a photo here?’ on landmarks and tourist sites to ‘No photos allowed’ to protect against people’s houses getting a tad overrun by influencers. So what’s the answer? Shooting-guilt free I reckon.

instagram photo spot Covent Garden London


Want to keep your shoot guilt-free?
How about keeping these in mind?


Covent Garden is frontrunner when it comes to curated photo opps that don’t invade people’s porches. It recently started off with flower-decorated swinging benches, but now includes seasonal curated corners as well as the Covent Garden Infinity Chamber, as well as sponsored sections which pop up from time to time. If you want all of these to yourself go out and explore it on Christmas Day, when it’s all empty.

The red phone boxes are the ultimate London landmark and as no one uses phones anymore, you’ll free as guilt-free as a zero-calorie ice-cream (but beware their aroma if you step inside!). You can find the famous red ones in Covent Garden (the market, and nearby Broad Court), Bloomsbury (Byng Place), Parliament Square and Smithfield Meat Market. There’s also a sponsored phone booth in Spitalfields Market that’s designed and placed with the aim for everyone to take a photo and display the big DW in the background.

Street art murals are perfect backdrops if you’re looking for something colourful. Some of the best examples include the Redemption Bar angel wings near Old Steet, the colourful Lakwena mural right behind Liberty in Carnaby Street, or pretty much all of Brick Lane. Don’t forget to credit the creator when posting these, it’s the least you can do.

For an overdose of photo-spot cuteness head to cafes like created-for-the-Gram Peggy Porchen, flowery heaven Dalloway Terrace or the pink perfection that is Sketch. They’ve built their identity around creating the perfect photo setting. So get yourself those overpriced scones or eclairs and take as many shots as you like.

Shall we make make an unwritten pact to not disturb, distress or bother people (or nature) in their natural habitats, even if it means missing out on that perfect snap?

travel

The Travel Blog Posts That Never Were

Once in a while when I’m stuck for inspiration I end up on one of those blogs that dispense blog topics you should write about. So I pick a few that seem interesting, write out a breakdown and then realise I’m too straight to the point and can’t even reach 200 words! I don’t want my golden answers to go to waste so here is a good old listicle…

How to Fit Everything in a Carry On – Roll your clothes, get packing cubes and if it doesn’t close a bit of violence may be called for.

What’s In Your Camera Bag – Camera bag? You mean my tote bag where let my camera and extra lens swing around? And extra battery if I’m feeling daring?

The Ultimate Paris Packing List – You mean the extra two t-shirts I packed during my 36 hours trip back in April? I’m the last person you should take fashion advice from, but I can tell you that whatever top you pack make sure it has stripes.

10 Tips on How to Save For Travel – Why 10 when you only need one: over the years I’ve tracked my average daily holiday spend so I just multiply that amount by my vacation days and divide by 12, this way I know how much I need to set aside every payday. I always calculate a bit extra, but in case I need a bigger budget for a more expensive destination I would look at cutting expenses like skipping on eating out, lunch take-away and going for drinks.

How to Plan a Trip with a Big Group – Ignore the emoji-filled Whatsapp groupchat until someone with actual planning skills steps up and volunteers.

polaroids london

Best Photo Spots in London – London is photogenic, so literally anywhere as long as you don’t stand in the middle of the road and in the way of people trying to pass by.

How to Book the Cheapest Flights – I don’t want to be that person that advises you to book a 6 AM flight from a regional airport 3 hours from your home just to save £30.

What posts do you have that you can’t seem to finish?

travel

Give Me A City Break: Bad First Impressions (And What I Would Do Different Next Time)

A while ago I wrote about places I loved and wouldn’t mind visiting again, but I can’t forget the places I didn’t click with. Spoiler alert: it was me, always me (not them!).

BARCELONA

On paper, Barcelona and I sounded like a match made in heaven: much needed winter sun, lots of history and delicious food – everything I usually need to satisfy that wanderlust. But for some reason we just didn’t hit it off.

Do Different Next Time: there was some kind of spark and I’m not sure if I should revisit Barcelona or try another region in Spain to rekindle the romance.

KYOTO

The day I arrived in Kyoto it rained and I was jet lagged and disoriented. As me and my friends only had one afternoon to check out the Gion area and the nearby park, it didn’t leave me in awe and neither I nor the city projected warmth and acceptance. Though the geisha we spotted was a plus.

Do Different Next Time: not just use it as a base for day trips but actually book a ryokan, explore the wider city and maybe even throw in a tea ceremony.

LJUBLJANA

Poor, poor Ljubljana, the city I passed by so many times, but never really gave a chance – friendzoned it almost – as it was the last pit stop on our long drives from the Netherlands to Bosnia. And the one time I did make it to the city I was too tired and I couldn’t be bothered to visit anything except the castle and the main square.

Do Different Next Time: explore the city and tourist attractions instead of just the outer suburbs, plus maybe try the prison turned hostel.

VILNIUS

Back when I was young, wild and free I thought it was a good idea to hit the 3 Baltic capitals in 5 days. Tallinn was cute and charming, Riga was raw and romantic and Vilnius was a finish line and the place to catch a breath before taking the plane home. Which is a shame as I only remember this Alice in Wonderland mural and a coffeeshop that made amazing lattes.

Do Different Next Time: schedule in more time and see what’s beyond the streets of the hostel.

SYDNEY

While I was in Melbourne I was on the tightest budget ever, so I didn’t get to see much of the Down Under. A weekend trip with friends to Sydney was superbudget and supershort and you really can’t cover everything in two days. The Coogee to Bondi walk and day trip to the Blue Mountains were special, while Darling Harbour and the Sydney Opera House were not so much. Also … I kept comparing everything to Melbourne, which isn’t really fair..

Do Different Next Time: you guessed it right … take the time to learn, relax and see more of the city. And stop comparing it with the ever-perfect Melbourne.

CHRISTIANA

Freetown Christiana in Copenhagen was another letdown. Where I expected a hippie community living from art, producing their own goods and living the life it was overshadowed by trash, torn down sheds and people smoking hash. Not to mention men in masks selling drugs on the main street and a lot of huuuuuuge dogs were walking around.

Do Different Next Time: yeah … there won’t be a next time, unless I can find a time-travel machine!

ISLA MUJARES

My research on Isla Mujares made it sound like a car free paradise where you could get around by golf car and with a world-class, beautiful beach, but instead there was traffic, streets full of rude golf car drivers and beach views ruined by tons of boats doing day tours cluttering the water. Isla Mujares was supposed to be this paradise and escape from Cancun, but it was really just Little Cancun.

Do Different Next Time: lower my expectations if I ever get the chance to go to Yucatan and maybe visit Isla Cozumel, Isla Holbox or one of the other smaller islands instead.

                                              What places did you just not ‘click’ with?

London - travel

20 Photos That Might Make You Want To Visit The Next Lumiere London

It’s no Glow Eindhoven or Vivid Sydney, but Lumiere London is a pretty good reason to brave a cold, damp January evening. For four days, international artists get free reign to light up London with over 50 installations.

What they don’t mention in the press release is:
2 rude Dutch people
3 crying mums
10 kids on scooters
12 places trying to seduce you with hot chocolate
20 sites where you’re not sure if it’s part of the festival or just accidental Lumiere.

Despite this, there’s more than a few bright lights to dazzle you. Mine were:

Child Hood @ Trafalager Square – all my Hertz go to this one

Harmonic Portal @ 197 Piccadilly –  loved these watts and wats

The Wave @ the South Bank –  lightened up my mood

Entre les rangs @ King’s Cross – was truly delightful to walk around

OSC-L & Sixty Minute Spectrum @ South Bank – leave you in the dark

You might want to dim your expectations when you come across these ones:

Waterlicht @ King’s Cross


Be Faithful To Your Dreams @ 197 Piccadilly

Guardian Angels @ King’s Cross

Friction @ 103/113 Regent Street

Lampounette @ King’s Cross

UFO @ King’s Cross