July 2016

Five essential resources to help you travel

When you first decide to go travelling it can feel so overwhelming - there is so much information out there (and a lot of it is contradictory). Never fear; I am here to help! Here are my five essential resources that have helped me to navigate the occasionally murky waters of adventuring!

Lonely Planet

I know it can seem a bit obvious but Lonely Planet has 40 years of experience in world travel and it is still the best place to start when you’ve never been to a particular city or country. It’s always my first point of call when I decide to go on a trip. You can use their website or you can purchase their guide books (or a mix of the two). Most of their guides have the option to purchase a physical copy or an ebook, and often will let you just purchase the chapters you need. Their website has basic details (currency, times to travel, transport options) for most cities in most countries as well as tons of useful articles.

Trip Advisor

I love Trip Advisor for finding hotels and restaurants. It’s peer reviewed so it’s excellent for determining what places are worth your time;it even includes a map feature to help you find places based on location. I particularly like their app - as well as letting you search and save hotels and restaurants it also has city guides. These city guides are available on and offline - meaning that if you've downloaded them you can access them without wifi or data being on (essential for keeping your phone bill manageable overseas). I love using the city guides as a map (no need to carry around giant bulky maps!) and to find good places to eat on the go (vital if you're a foodie like yours truly).

Google Maps

Google Maps has been an absolute saviour on our trips - particularly for working out the easiest way to get from the train station or airport to our hotel. Once you key in your location and destination it gives you options for walking, biking, driving and public transport.

My favourite feature is the public transport option - it’s hard to work out public transport in cities you aren’t familiar with (particularly when you don't speak the language) and Google Maps makes it really simple. It has saved us a ton of money on taxis and helped us feel instantly more comfortable in a new city.

Folder (& a photocopier)

Bear with me on this one  - I absolutely recommend having paper copies of all of your flights, trains and hotel bookings with you when you travel. I know that you have everything saved to your phone (and if you have Gmail it will be on your calendar as well) but what happens if you lose your phone? What happens if you were counting on WiFi to access a ticket and there is none?

Having paper copies seems cumbersome and old fashioned but it ensures you have a back up option of everything in case something happens. Whether you’re travelling for a week or a month you want as little stress as possible and this is one way to guarantee this.

It’s also worth having photocopies of your passport and driver’s license on hand in case they get stolen or lost. This will help you with reporting it to the authorities, and for getting out of the country when it’s time to leave.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is 100% mandatory. No matter where you're going or how long you're going for you will want the certainty of knowing that if you lose your baggage, have your money stolen or get sick that you have something in place to help you. I've been lucky and haven't had to use travel insurance (yet!) but that hasn't made me any less grateful to have it. 

Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo

Tips for travelling with your lover

Travelling with your lover is a fantastic way to get to know them better and to have an adventure that you can cherish. It isn’t without its challenges though - it can reveal differences in your personalities that aren’t obvious when you are in your home environment. Navigating these challenges aren't impossible - and it can be a great opportunity to learn more about your beloved and get closer to them.

Understand what you want

The first thing you need to work out is what you want from your trip: do you want to lounge in your hotel pool, go on hikes or drift from one bar to another. There is no right way to travel - and what you want from one holiday might be vastly different to what you want from another.

It can also be interesting to learn what you define as relaxing - it might be that you find skiing relaxing or you might prefer to sip hot chocolate in the chalet. It's important to not just understand what you want to do but to also accept your preferences. As I said; there's no right way to travel - so if you really like laying on the beach and not going anywhere near the sea don't feel bad. 

Understand what they want

This isn’t just about you of course; it’s about your lover as well. What do they want from the trip? My husband is definitely more relaxed than I am when we travel - he does enjoy going on adventures but he also enjoys chilling out in the hotel room as well. His attitude is definitely a really good balance to mine because if I had my way I would be out of the hotel all day and would probably burn out really quickly. So I've learnt to really enjoy those relaxing moments.

You may have a very similar or very different attitudes towards travel - and if they are very different it’s important to chat with your lover before you travel to help come to an agreement. Maybe you’ll go out for a solo adventure whilst your lover takes an afternoon nap (or vice versa). There’s no problem with not having the same desires from your holiday - it’s far more important that you’re upfront about it to avoid frustration and resentment later.

Really focus on them

Going on holiday is the perfect time to focus on your lover. This is the time to put away your phone and really engage in the relationship. In your day to day life you often don’t have much time together (I know I don’t) so take this opportunity to get to know your lover better.

Some of my favourite memories are ones from our trips together; without all the day to day distractions that pull us away from each other. Travelling together has absolutely made us much closer; both through having a shared experience and by making sure that we really engage with each other when we're away.

Allow for some space

I know I just said you need to really focus on your lover, but it’s also important to take some time by yourself. It's likely that you will be sharing all of your meals as well as a hotel room and this is normally a lot more time than most people spend together. For many couples their first holiday will be the most time that they will have ever spent together and the best way to avoid conflict is to take time by yourself.

This could mean taking some time to read in your hotel room or going for a solo walk in the morning. Allowing for some space will help make your time together more special, and help ease any natural tensions that will happen when you’re spending 24 hours a day with the same person.

Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo