As someone who has spent several months travelling in South America, I can attest that what you pack and what you choose to leave behind is the difference between a great trip and annoying back pain. Before you start your journey, the storage challenges fall broadly into two categories: how to physically fit all your possessions into your travel luggage, and what to do with the stuff you leave behind. By overcoming these issues, you stand a much better chance of your trip going smoothly.
What to Take
We all know the maxim: “pack light”, so why can so few of us obey this rule? The answer is: fear of the unknown. How can we be sure we won’t need an extra towel/a hairdryer/our favourite shirt? The “take everything” approach might make sense on romantic weekend breaks, but interestingly this impulse is even stronger on longer trips (as your survival instinct kicks in).
One of the biggest considerations, in terms of packing, is number of activities. For example, you might need clothing for general day-to-day activities, exercise, going out in the evening, special activities (like hiking) and sleeping. They’ll also need different shoes (sneakers for day wear, running shoes for exercise, high heels/formal shoes for going out, hiking boots and slippers). Five pairs of shoes are going to be very heavy, so consider items that multitask. For the above example – I might take a pair of shoes that are good for both walking and light exercise, and another pair of smarter black daywear shoes that I can wear on more dressed up occasions too. Two pairs, done (sorry slippers).
Here are some other tips:
- Roll your clothes to fit more in, and pack layered clothing that can easily be put on/taken off as you get hotter/colder. Also consider what you look like with all your layers on together… savvy traveller or asylum escapee?
- Don’t buy a massive first aid kit unless you’re planning to do high-risk activities (find one that’s well stocked but compact).
- Bring extra plastic bags and small zip lock bags. You can never have enough of these.
- Make sure the day backpack you take has lots of compartments to help keep track of things (documents in one, guidebooks in another).
- Speaking of guidebooks, they’re usually heavy. Consider replacing one of your two paper guidebooks with an electronic edition. Even if you don’t have a kindle, you can download the kindle app on your Smartphone and read eBooks that way.
- Another great space saving item is a compact microfiber travel towel.
- Instead of a water bottle, pack a plastic bladder (takes up much less room when empty).
- Remember, it’s not just about weight; it’s also about ease of repacking (especially important if you’re moving around a lot on your travels).
What to do with the stuff you leave behind
The length of time you’re away will have a major impact on this. If you’re travelling for weeks or months instead of days, then investing in storage is paramount (you don’t want to come back to find your possessions missing or damaged). But even if you’re travelling for a few weeks, many people now rent out their house or room to help cover costs, so storage will be a consideration too. Self storage works great for travellers – its flexible, safe and a minimum stay can be as little as seven days. But there are several ways to make it work harder for you:
- Once you’ve decided on a storage room, maximise the space. The more organized the storage room is the more you’ll fit in. Stack lighter items on heavier, but leave room for last minute packing/unpacking.
- Label everything and be specific – “bathroom stuff” is too vague, and when you’ve back from your travels you’ll appreciate the time you took to name boxes
- Some storage facilities will discount “irregular” sized rooms (ones that aren’t rectangle in shape – they might have a small alcove, say, rather than just four walls). Ask the storage facility manager about “value” or irregular rooms and see if they have any discounts.
- Van hire can add another cost to your storage requirement if you don’t own a vehicle big enough to transport your possessions, but some storage facilities will refund the costs of your van hire – ask them.
- If you plan to store your items for a long time, you might be able to get an even bigger saving if you can pay in advance.
- Make sure you know where all the bolts/screws are to put things back together again
- Think about what you’ll need first when you get back after your travels and make sure these are easily available in the storage room.
Drew writes for Big Yellow Self Storage. See their website for more information about cheap storage deals for travellers and other storage tips.
Scott on Google+
Adrenaline junkies are always looking for their next big thrill. If you want to scream your way through the day with your heart ready to burst through your chest there’s nearly always a new attraction to visit at one of the world’s great theme parks. And for the calmer family members there are also plenty of activities to participate in whilst others are whirled around at great speed, twisting and turning, plummeting and spiralling. Here are the world’s top theme parks and their latest and greatest attractions.
1. Thorpe Park , England
Thorpe Park is one of Britain’s favourite destinations for excitement. Some of the most exciting white-knuckle rides make their home here. Lately, Thorpe Park unveiled the UK’s first winged rollercoaster. Look out for the Swarm and be a part of this historical ride.
2. Chessington World of Adventures & Zoo, England
Moving away from the scream-inducing roller coasters of Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures & Zoo offers something for all the family. The zoo with exotic animals from all over the world is something people of all ages will just love and the Madagascar Live! stage show is the latest attraction offering delight and wonder. The World of Adventures is ten ‘lands’ offering themed rides and activities – areas include the Land of the Dragons, Mexicana, Transylvania and Forbidden Kingdom.
3. Magic Kingdom, Florida
You might know the Magic Kingdom by its more popular name of the Walt Disney World Resort. It needs no explanation. 50 million people experience the wonder and the magic of the world of Disney’s imagination. Iconic characters make their appearance, there are attractions and rides for every age and parades with fabulous firework displays. It’s the world’s most popular theme park and there’s everything you could ever want here.
4. Luna Park, Melbourne
During your trip down under, visit Luna Park where you can experience a piece of theme park history. It’s over a hundred years old and plays host to the Scenic Railway, which is still in operation and acted as the forerunner to the modern roller coasters of today. There’s also a whole load of the most up-to-date style rides from carousels to thrilling coasters.
5. Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi
What little boy (or even grown up boy) doesn’t love Ferrari? Make every would-be racing driver’s dream come true with a visit to Yas Island and Ferrari World. It covers 30,080 acres with four separate theme parks and two water parks. Physical fitness centres and five golf courses offer something for the adults, and the enjoyable water slides can entertain children for hours. There’s also the Formula Rossa, which has the honour of being the fastest rollercoaster in the world.
$6.5 billion Singapore dollars went into the building of Resorts World. It includes two gigantic casinos, the Universal Studios theme park, and plenty of roller coasters and rides. The Marine Life Park is also the world’s largest oceanarium with hundreds of the sea’s rarest creatures on view.
7. Pacific Park, Los Angeles
Go back in time to the classic boardwalk era with a visit to Pacific Park. What it gives up in terms of investment it claims in terms of history and atmosphere. With a huge carnival wheel at the end of the pier you can look out over the golden beaches of Los Angeles and spot the towering skyscrapers on the horizon, whilst also looking out into the panoramic Pacific Ocean.
Scott on Google+
For years, Europeans have been among the most avid travelers in the world. This trend is expected to continue and even amplify over the coming years with travel companies in Europe expecting the number of hotel bookings to increase substantially in 2013.
When planning, the key to an unforgettable holiday experience often depends on different factors, such as choosing the right holiday destination and planning the activities you want to do. One aspect that is often overlooked is choosing the right accommodation. Any traveler, who has already experienced having chosen the wrong hotel or hostel, can elaborate how such decisions can make or break a relaxing getaway.
Tips for choosing the right hotel
Thankfully, it is rare for hotels to be so unpleasant that guests have decided to leave but negative surprises can occur when you are not careful about your accommodation choices. Experienced travelers have gotten this skill down but if you are visiting a different part of the world for the first time, websites dedicated to hotel reviews are a popular place to carry out a bit of research. Everything, from the location, service, security, food and overall cleanliness can be rated by the guests. The more customers participating, the more reliable ratings become, so completing reviews yourself is also important when ending your stay.
One of the leading and reliable hotel review websites can be found on www.zoover.co.uk. Here, thousands of hotel reviews from all over the world can be found. Surf a bit yourself and read different accommodation reviews, before making your final choice. Usually places that have a large amount of reviews or detailed comments are a safe bet for travelers. By taking into account your budget, traveling style and preferred activities as well, you should find the ideal place to stay and hope to guarantee a perfect holiday.
Image Credit: copyright © Andreas Hermsdorf / pixelio.deScott on Google+
Manchester has always held a special place in my heart, so i was excited to have visited again over the weekend. My friends and I managed to travel first class on the Virgin Pendolino service from London Euston, which gets you into Manchester Picadilly in around two hours. Luckily, one of the travelling party works for Virgin, so our upgrade was on the house.
Now first class isnt really what you’d expect. There isnt any silver service or special treatment. Instead, you just get a less crowded carriage and free food/drink service. Id give it a 6/10. We did get a couple of passes from the drinks cart, so made full use of that!
Most of the weekend was spent catching up with old poker friends – although the snow made it quite difficult to move around, we did have time to make a few snowmen. I called this guy Tony. He seems to have a problem with smoking.
We arrived into Manchester around 9pm on Friday and went straight out to revisit some of our old student haunts. We ended up at 42s (aka 42nd Street), which is a pretty dingy nightclub that plays mostly indie music and serves very cheap drinks. 3 double vodka and red bull and 3 beers for £15 – cant complain.
The main event of the weekend was Saturday night. We decided between us weeks in advance that we would be playing poker games throughout the night at our friend Fionn’s flat in town. Mixed with a liberal sprinkle of booze this ended up taking us to 4am in the morning. We played the normal games like Texas Hold’em and Omaha, but also blind mans bluff and other crazy games when the booze kicked in. Overall, I ended up with a nice little profit for the night too, so it was a good weekend overall.
Our host for the night Fionn may have had a little too much for the evening so he ended up out for the count later on in the night. Luckily i got a very flattering picture of him comatose on the table. He seems to have a habit of falling asleep on his chips. Luckily for him that prevents him losing any more money than he had already for the night.
Sunday really was a tough time for all of us. Emergency breakfast was needed immediately to revive us all.
And as soon as it started, my weekend in Manchester was over, with an 11am train back to London closing up the trip. If you are travelling from London, i would say the first class upgrade isnt really worth it. Just book plenty in advance on Trainline to get a cheap advance ticket.
Scott on Google+
Next up in our blogger interview series we have Michael Glass from travel inspiration and tips sharing site, TravelByU.com. Take it away Michael…!
1. Hi Michael, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Tell us a little about yourself.
Thanks for having me! Well I started in the travel industry about 15 years or so ago working for Club Med. I was lucky enough to work in the Whitsunday Islands and then got transferred to Mauritius. It’s a tough life but someone had to do it. After my return I started working as a travel agent and moved through to a management role quite rapidly. This time on the front line of customer service really served me well in figuring out the major pain points customers were experiencing.
My first experience into the online world was in a senior management position at a luxury travel company and from then on I realized that there were some great opportunities on the web. So without going into too much more detail I had an idea for a travel website and started the TravelByU project with my friend (and co-founder James).
2. You website is TravelByU – Can you explain your site to those not familiar?
Sure. The site started it’s life as a travel directory and has now morphed into a destination guide (and soon to be travel planning tool). We are focussed on really personalizing the entire travel planning experience by letting the user search for places by their interests and matching them with suitable destinations. The goal is to put the user in control of their trip from the inspiration stage through the booking process.
We are also in the process of adding interesting festivals and events to each destination guide. There are so many amazing things going on around the world but the information can be difficult to find at times.
When you register on the site you get a funky travel profile where you can add the places you have been (or want to go), along with any festivals you are interested in. We want to create an environment so travelers can share their experiences, photos and tips with the TravelByU community.
3. What are the best ways to use the internet for travel planning and research?
Use TravelByU.com! hey you had to expect that one right Ok ok if I had to suggest some other sites that I like right now they would be: Dcovery.com – a great app that lets you curate your own travel guides from anything on the web. Skyscanner.com – probably the best flight metasearch around currently and Room77.com – for hotels.
4. What attracted you to the world of digital?
I love solving problems and the internet is also a great outlet for my creativity. Being able to have an impact on how people view travel in different countries. We have turned out to be quite popular in Indonesia already which is something I could never have imagines.
5. Where are you in the world right now ?
Right now I am sitting at my desk in San Francisco, freezing my butt off as we are currently having a colder than normal winter. Plus I just got back from spending my Christmas in the Philippines so the change was quite a shock to the system.
6. Do you have a favorite continent or country to visit and why?
I have been fortunate enough to travel quite extensively throughout Asia, Europe, the Pacific and the USA so it is difficult to play favorites. China and India had always been very low on my bucket list but after visiting them they were both unexpected gems and I would love to go back.
Cambodia probably had the biggest effect on me personally as it was my first encounter with real in-your-face poverty. Definitely a life-changing experience meeting these people who had nothing but were the most generous people I have met.
Italy will always hold a special place in my heart too. The people, the culture, the lifestyle, the scenery and who can forget the FOOD! I think one day I can see myself living in Italy…..
7. What are your new year travel resolutions..?
Travel to at least one place I haven’t been to. It has been a travel resolution of mine every year for a while now.
8. If you had a fun travel story to tell us over a beer, what would it be?
Ha ha. I have so many travel stories we would need a keg of beer and a couple of weeks to tell them. Getting interviewed on Chinese TV in Beijing would have to be up there as a pretty fun story to tell though. I was with a tour group and the reporter wanted to see if I knew any Mandarin. I think the objective was to poke fun at the foreigner at first but when I rattled off a few words the interview turned out to be a good laugh for everyone… especially me.
9. What is your travel itinerary looking like for 2013?
Nothing set in stone at the moment but we are tossing up a few ideas. Black Rock Nevada for Burning Man, Myanmar (Burma), Vancouver and Central America…. but we will see how things pan out.
10. How can people get in touch with you? (social, website url etc)
Come and connect with me on TravelByU. Register at www.travelbyu.com/register. From there you can find all of our social profile on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google +.
Wow, thanks for the great interview Michael!Scott on Google+
This weekend i am off up north to the wonderful city of Manchester. It’s a city i know and love well, so i will write up a little trip report when i am back.
Much of the weekend will involve reliving some of my studenty days, so i expect to sink a few B52′s and have hangovers a plenty. Til’ next time!
Scott on Google+
Europe’s recent economic woes haven’t been easy for anyone, but some have suffered more than others. Spain, a nation with a staggering trade deficit, plummeting real estate prices, and record unemployment has been especially hard-hit If a silver lining exists, it must be the booming tourist-trade. In 2011 and 2012 it was the single fastest growing industry. Spain’s future as a significant player in European affairs depends on its ability to reverse recent economic trends, and it is no exaggeration to say that the tourist industry may make all the difference.
For many tourists, especially in the UK, the quintessential European holiday is a visit to the Mediterranean coast, to soak up sun, history, culture, and cocktails. In recent years budget conscious travellers began seeking bargains on the beaches of Turkey and North Africa; bad news for traditional destinations. Political unrest has now reversed this trend, as pleasure-seekers shy away from danger and discover that prices have plummeted in Spain. Many who never dreamed it now find the coast of Spain within their budget, while veteran travellers have a good excuse to go back and stay longer.
The beautiful Andalusia shore is the home of the Costa del Sol, a region whose economy is overwhelmingly dependent on tourism. Far from feeling jealousy or resentment at the relative prosperity of travellers from the UK and beyond, the residents of the “Coast of Sun” are extremely grateful for these visitors who bring an infusion of capital to the local economies; tourism means the difference between thriving and merely surviving for the residents of this region. Historic resorts like family-friendly Benalmadena, exciting Torremolinos, and charming Estepona are heavily dependent on tourists, and the money spent at their restaurants, bars, and shops is the lifeblood that allows these towns to survive.
The expansion of the tourist economy has also allowed diversification along the Costa del Sol, with options available for all budgets and style of travel. From high-end luxury to family friendly resort holidays to worry-free and all-inclusive packages, it is now possible for anyone to experience Spain in their own way and at their own pace. There are also a dizzying array of options for planning and booking, from old-fashioned tourist agencies to cutting-edge online planners. Most travellers feel safer sticking with licensed travel groups like TUI Travel PLC, which has many reliable affiliates, like First Choice, a company that specialises in All-Inclusive bookings. You can see their latest deals on Costa del Sol holidays by clicking here.
All-inclusive means just that; booking in this way means your holiday package includes flight, lodging, transportation, meals, excursions, entertainment, and even drinks. These holidays packages are a smart move for travellers, but also good news for Spain’s economy; relationships with local business and knowledge of the area means tourist money goes to better restaurants, safer lodgings, and honest bars, shops, and taxis. All-Inclusive means a better, safer experience, which leads to repeat visits and good word-of-mouth; everybody wins. Spain’s economic future remains uncertain, but cautious optimism is in order. As long as there are holiday-seekers interested in affordable luxury, Costa del Sol’s tourist industry will thrive, and that may make all the difference for Spain.Scott on Google+
There are now so many options for cheap weekend breaks across Europe that unforgettable adventures are accessible to everyone. No matter your budget, your age or your interests, you can be sure to find a city break to suit you – have look on Superbreak.com for some pointers. But when you venture into a foreign city, it is very important to be aware of local customs, rules of etiquette, and key phrases in the local language in order to make the most of your stay. A city such as Madrid can be a wonderful destination for a weekend break, but most first-time visitors can be shocked at how different it is to the more tourist-driven Barcelona. Here are some tips to help you enjoy Madrid like a local.
Adjust your body clock
Madrid is a 24 hour city. After the citizens of the Spanish capital take their afternoon siesta, they are recharged and ready to take on the night. Dinner is typically a late affair and nobody eats before 9pm. Unless you want to be the people sat alone in a restaurant, it’s recommended that you stave off the hunger pains with a few bites of light tapas in the early evening before enjoying your main meal later in the night. If you feel like enjoying a night on the town, make sure you’re well rested so that you have plenty of stamina for staying awake until the early hours. When the clubs close in the UK, they open in Spain, and the music will keep pumping until daylight breaks and beyond.
Indulge in Spanish tapas
The Spanish love their food, and at every little bar on the winding streets of Madrid you will be able to find delicious tapas dishes. Some tapas treats you should definitely try are patatas bravas (potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce), shrimps cooked in garlic, calamari, and, of course, no trip to Madrid would be complete without consuming plenty of Spanish tortilla or omelette. If you don’t feel like walking from bar to bar, then head to Mercado de San Miguel where you can find many reasonably priced tapas all under one roof.
Brush up on your Spanish
Unlike Barcelona, there is little English spoken in Madrid. So in order to make the most of your city break, it’s advisable to learn a few key phrases in advance. Politeness will get you a long way so make sure that you know how to say please (por favor) and thank you (gracias). And of course, it never hurts to know how to order a couple of beers. To order two beers, just say, “Dos cervesas, por favor” to the bartender and you’ll have two cold ones right away. Sorted.Scott on Google+
Music is one of my true passions when travelling around the world, and London is one of the world’s best metropolitan clubbing destinations, alongside the usual favourites like Berlin, Amsterdam and Barcelona. Here is a quick run down of some of my favourite London clubbing destinations for electronic music lovers.
Located just by the Ministry of Sound in South East’s Elephant and Castle, the Corsica Studios have been a hot bed for electronic music since 2005. The music found at the club is rooted in house, techno, electro and disco, but often incorporates dubstep, drum & bass and bass music. Whilst Corsica is a low capacity venue, it makes up for that in atmosphere and grit.
5 Farrell Court; Elephant & Castle; London SE17 1LB
One of my favourite London clubs has to go to Plastic People in Shoreditch. Originally home to a number of the FWD grime nights, Plastic People has developed over the years into a highly sought after electronic music venue for established DJs and rising starsto show off their stuff. Top artists have included the likes of Thom Yorke, Theo Parish, Moodyman, Four Tet, SBTRKT and Joy Orbison to name but a few.
The club also boasts a Funktion One sound system that is argued to be one of the best in the city.
147-149 CurtainRoad, London, EC2
No London clubbing list is complete without a mention of the wonderful Fabric club in Farringdon. Once voted the world’s best club, Fabric regularly hosts the upper-echelons of DJing talent from around the world. Whilst the club is spread over three quite large rooms, this also offers a great deal of variety on any given night, with room three offering smaller upcoming DJs a chance to shine. Rooms one and two normally are reserved for the big name DJ sets. As a general rule though, Friday nights are DnB and dubstep heavy and Saturday nights are normally filled with techno, electro or house music.
For all serious clubbers, Fabric is a must-see destination. Also check out the Fabric Live mix CDs for a taste of what the club has to offer.
77a Charterhouse Street, London, EC1M 3HN
For the achingly-hip East London crowd, one of the top clubbing destinations has to be The Nest on Stoke Newington Road. Primarily an electronic music venue, The Nest has played host to the likes of electro-legend Erol Alkan, Simian Mobile Disco, Diplo and Drop the Lime. Get down on a Saturday for the best vibe – it’s usually pretty darn busy, but drinks prices are reasonable.
36 Stoke Newington Road, Dalston, London, N16 7XJ
If you have any other good suggestions i would love to hear them! Let us know in the comments below.
Scott on Google+
Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city – and it could be the most charming too. Today, Waterford is a blend of old and new, classic and contemporary – and it’s hard to believe that this industrious city was first settled back in 853 by Viking raiders. But that’s where it all began – and its base on the River Suir led to it becoming a prosperous city of great importance throughout the ages, flourishing in various industries from shipbuilding to glass production.
Waterford is justifiably proud of its heritage and wherever you turn, you’ll be confronted with a piece of its fascinating past. The city’s story comes to life in its ancient architecture such as the iconic Reginald’s Tower – a 13th century defense tower and a timeless landmark of Waterford. It’s also the oldest monument to retain its Viking name. You can find the magnificent tower in the Viking Quarter and explore its past through an on-site museum.
And as museums go, this fascinating city has certainly got the lion’s share. The Waterford Museum of Treasures features three museums, each focusing on different ages and chronicling over one thousand years of history. Treasures of Viking Waterford is the Reginald’s Tower museum as mentioned earlier, and is home to a magnificent collection of historic and archaeological artefacts dating back to the Viking era. The other museums in the collection include the Treasures of Medieval Waterford, situated between Cathedral Square and the Bishop’s Palace, and the Treasures of Georgian Waterford based at Waterford’s Mall.
Today, Waterford is celebrated for much more than its rich heritage. It has a thriving crystal trade – a legacy of its former glass-masking industry, a flourishing arts scene, a lively nightlife with live music almost every night and a bustling event calendar, with diary dates ranging from arts and street festivals to culinary celebrations and of course, a St Patrick’s Day parade.
Whether you’re planning to explore the city’s past or join in the annual St Patrick’s Day festivities, there are a number of accommodation options available. Travelodge Waterford offers a convenient location just outside of the city centre, away from the hustle and bustle yet close to the major road networks. It’s also a cost-effective option – perfect for a city break with a difference that won’t break the bank.
So what’s stopping you? Get your stay booked and discover the charm of Waterford. With hundreds of years of history, a lovely riverside location, a bubbly nightlife and a friendly welcome, you’ve got all the right ingredients for a cracking weekend getaway.Scott on Google+