Category Archives: travel

travel

Money Pitfalls: How To Avoid Wasting Cash On Holiday

Chances are your relationship with your bank account is feeling a little strained at the moment. There was the expensive December month and you might have booked a flight or two when you panicked during your first week back in the office. Now you’ve got a few months to go and save up, but have you considered the money you might waste while on holiday? Here are some tips to avoid financial heartache I made so you don’t have to. You are welcome.

  • Not packing strategically can cost you quite a bit of money. Not only in terms of exceeding the weight allowance…but how many times have you forgotten your toothbrush? Not to mention all the  full size products you by accidently packed and had to hand in and repurchase again. So make sure that you write down a packing list and double check.
  • Saving yourself £30 and flying with a budget airline to a smaller airport can feel like you just entered the wonder world of Extreme Couponing, but then you find out it takes 2 hours and £50 to get to the city from that small airport. So always compare how much it will cost you to get to from main as well as the regional airport to your destination. It might be dull, but worth it in the end.
  • Spontaneous decisions can end up fun, but could also end up costing you a lot, so you might want to look into planning your activities ahead of the trip. The train tickets for that day trip you planned might end up being the same amount for as it would have cost you to fly to your holiday destination.
  • Money exchange costs, especially at airports are a massive money trap and you should never ever change currency at an airport. Check online for the best deals in your country or use your card to withdraw cash when you arrive.
  • But before you do that do check how much your bank charges you for paying/withdrawing abroad .The first time I went abroad with my UK card I found out I paid over £30 for card charges! With that money I could have bought a one way ticket to Paris.
  • Not reading the fine print. So forgetting to check in or finding out your suitcase is literally 2 mm too big for the budget airline and you end up paying an additional £60. And you know what? You are the only to blame so next time listen to your mom when she asks you if the suitcase isn’t too big, they have a special extra sense for this.
  • Not making use of your hostel/Ar BnB kitchen can cost you a lot. Ok, true … in some countries it can actually be cheaper to go out, but your first stop should the supermarket. There you can explore and stock up on goods you can’t find at home. It doesn’t have to be a 4 course meal, but get your baguette and cheese for breakfast and invest what you save in an extra drink that evening – or invest it in something more useful.
  • It’s fun when you mix up the exchange rate and everything is CHEAPER than you thought, but it’s not too great when it happens the other way round. I remember in Latvia everything seemed super super cheap until I realised I mixed the exchange rate up and in the 48 hours I spend there costed way more than it should have been. It’s 2018 and there are apps for this so no more excuses.

    How much have you wasted during your last holiday?

Mexico - travel

October – December or Things I’ve Been Doing While Abandoning This Blog

Happy New Year and heeellow 2018! Before I start spoiling you with new content let’s look at what I was up to in the last 3 months of 2017. Spoiler alert: actually not that much.

Been there
Mexico: Cancun – Vallolidad – Tulum – Isla Mujeres: to eat tacos and look at rocks that the Mayans left us.

Done That
I finally made it to Mexico! I had just over a week to see what the Yucatan region was all about:

  • The food guys! The food! We can all agree that visiting a new location is all about how many meals and snacks you can fit in between all the other activities and it did not disappoint. The variety in tacos, quesadillas and salsas was beyond even my high hopes – the overall winner had to be Antojitos La Chiapaneca in Tulum, mainly because of the giant salsa table with every topping imaginable.

  • Vallolidad was everything I wanted and more, from checking out to colourfull buildings to cooling down in nearby cenotes (underground caverns) and evening walks in the park – even the schoolband that practices their Christmas show until 3 AM outside the hostel had its charm.
  • And then there was the magnificent Chichen Itza – you can read the high and lowlights here.
  • I still don’t know what to think of Cancun itself – one day I might share the story on how I looked death in the eyes not once, not twice, but three times while in Cancun…
  • I have read and seen so much of Tulum on blogs that I had the feeling I already kind of been there and it all sounded amazing on paper but apart from above mentioned tacos I didn’t really feel it… though the swings do get you a lot of IG likes.

I wish I could hibernate through the winter months, but as that’s not too healthy I managed to make something out of the cold and wet London days and I:

  • did the Underground Tour that I had been trying to get to tickets for forever – LOVED IT
  • drowned my tastebuds in a cheese fondue – why did I wait this long!?!?
  • kicked off the first section of the Green Walk – more like a grey walk, but that for another time
  • saw lots of movies – Thor:Ragnarok being a absolute highlight and Justice League the ultimate lowlight
  • made it to The Kitchens in Spittalfields – two thumbs up for the mezze and steamed tofu buns
  • peeked at the Geffrye Museum before they close for refurbishment – great if you love peeking inside other people’s homes
  • checked out the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret – such a little gem and I can’t wait to share more soon

Bucketlist Moments?
Seeing the amazing Chichen Itza, finally getting one of the Underground Tours AND eating Tacos and Quesadillas for a week without getting sick or bored of it. Check, check and check.

Lowlights
As if an 8 hour hour flight isn’t bad enough, mine came with a really really loud little neighbouring passenger. It would have been understandable if the kid was in pain, but the tears were just for attention, and it only zipped it after it got what it wanted.

Missing out on tickets for the Harry Potter exhibition. By the time this self proclaimed fan found about the exhibition the weekend tickets were long gone and I’m not sure I can justify taking time off work for it! Thankfully I caught a documentary on the whole thing, so hopefully that can hold me off for the moment.

What do you have planned for 2018?

travel

7 things I’m leaving behind in 2017

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m excited about filling these pages with my new adventures and I’m just know that 2018 will be for Tea C what 2017 was for Cardi B. But before I look ahead I need to say goodbye to a few things.

This pair of sandals that served me good for 4 British Summers plus lots of trips broke beyond repair in Mexico and I had to leave them behind, fairwell you brave ‘soles’. I’ve tried Teva (#nospon), but they are either too big or too small and with the Saltwaters (#nospon) I had the feeling I was turning into some kind of duck creature.

I really need to be a bit less relaxed on confirming important details – and not just assuming things will all work out bright and breezy on the day. This relaxed attitude meant I my mouth was left hanging wide open as the train ticket person told me the price for a journey was three times what I had accounted for! I did do some prep research, but I probably got distracted by a cat GIF…

I have to stop going on trips without cleaning up my phone memory first. I don’t want to be in a situation with a killer sunset happening at Piazzale Michelangelo while I’m stuck deleting photos of a breakfast I had in 2015. Actually … can I leave my phone in 2017?

In addition to the shitty phone, there is also the untrustworthy external charger – that only works if the wind blows in a particular way at any given time and I do a small dance counter-clockwise three times on one leg. This charger with a personality needs the heave ho – it’s forced me way too many times to interact with people for directions without the use of online phone maps.

Stress before going away has eaten away at me a lot more than I like to admit, especiall with uncontrollable reoccurring thoughts and certain actions I had to do to avoid the thoughts. I have taken the first steps and I’m definitely ok and ready to leave behind a chunk of it. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to rearrange my travel guides in order of how hot it was on the day I visited.

And there is the suitcase whose wheels broke after the second time I used it, I need some kind of commitment otherwise you are going to end up in a dust corner. Plus it stressed me out as it’s one of those that may get checked in and who knows how it will reappear…Let’s hope my backpack will last me another 12 years because it’s my comfort blanket and I don’t know if I could take it if those straps gave up on me mid-trip.

When I see an amazing last minute super cheap flight to an exotic island I can’t help but why I didn’t save my annual leaving days instead of doing the 3/4 smaller trips. Just an example of stupid silly what ifs and other worries that come to mind, and as there really is no point in ‘what ifs?’ and they are not worth my time or energy so I’m letting go of those and making my second motto ‘better an oops than a what if’.

What are you leaving behind in 2017?

travel

the Dummies Guide to Travel Blogging: How To Write Any City Guide

Thinking of starting a blog to write about all the awesome places you’ve been to? Or, got a case of writers’ block? Here’s a tongue in cheek walkthrough on how to (or possibly, not how to) write a city guide of pretty much any place.

kotorStart off with a short intro that sounds poetic but is actually meaningless for readers and can be used for any city really.
“It is such an incredible, beautiful, fun city! You can easily wander around, and reach all of the X,Y and Z, but it still retains its old charm.You might think you need a tour guide, but getting lost is half the fun, especially in the little alleys and hidden spots.”

Then hit off with some general tips accompanied with dreamy photos.
“Why don’t you check out the church/cathedral/temple/mosque [delete as appropriate] on the main square. If you’re a fan of this type of architecture, you’ll fall in love with X, with its bеаutіful [colour] walls and multі-ѕріrеd rооf/stairs/walls.”

feast-london-tobacco-dock“Make sure to hit the [market] and grab yourself one of the amazing [local delicacy].”

“When hunting for a bite to eat, stay away from the restaurants on [main street] as they are often overpriced tourist traps. Make sure to check out the smaller places in the side streets, including this shockingly good [bar].”

Give a little tip and call it ‘insider info’, after all you’ve spent a two whole days in the city.
“If you get a little tired on your feet, don’t give in to taxis or a car, but try the bus/metro/tram as it’s cheaper and you get the chance to experience life like the locals.”

On accommodations.
“Stay at a hostel just outside the city as it’s cheaper and you’ll make friends a lot easier. Or try AirBnB, you are actually lucky, because if you use THIS code you get X discount on your booking.”  Make it sound like it’s something you arranged for them and not a regular thing, also don’t mentioned that it’s only for first time bookers, they’ll find out themselves. Continue with some more wise words on where to book your stay”

“For both hotels and AirBnBs, you’re are more likely to find cheaper accommodation in the outer districts. You don’t need to stay in [insert neighbourhood city is known for] to have a good visit to [insert city]. Many neighbourhoods in X  and X  are cute or upcoming areas, and  close to many great tourist attractions, and it is easy to access [city centre] by [insert transport] in 15-20 minutes, which is a whole experience in itself and feels more like an experience than a holiday.”

city guideAny city now has a coffee place so you should definitely include one to up your hipster credibility.
“This hip coffee place is just like your gran’s house. Only here the sewing machines serve as tables and you have to pay for your coffee and cake. The [carrot/sponge/tequila-cream] cake is delicious, try one slice, or maybe the whole thing…”

view from the shard, london, londra,londen,londres,shardAlways mention a thing or two that are free, everyone loves a freebie.
“Many don’t know this, but you can climb to the top of [building] to get an amazing 360 degrees view. And the icing on the cake – it’s for free, so more money to spend on [drink/cake/souvenirs]”

When you’ve run out of stuff to say on your location, try a tip about a museum – not that anyone gets too excited about visiting one, but you don’t want to come across some philistine and the SEO helps too.
“Expose your eyes to [artistic movement] at the [Museum of Art]. Here you’ll find works of [Picasso/Dali/Matisse], including that [famous example] you’ll want to tell everyone about.”

I’m sure we’re all guilty our standard ‘go-to’ ideas when we write, but it’s amazing how some places can all just sound the same, so I like to use this as inspiration to try and make every post I write try to capture a little piece of the magic of where I’ve been.

Have you got any examples of similar things?