What Your Travel Searches Reveal About You

January is the month every year, where travel searches peak across the United Kingdom, and it’s quite significant. They are nearly 300% more compared to any other month of the year. Perhaps it’s something about the cold start to the year that drives us to seek warmer adventures to look forward to, or it could be that we want to get organised and start the year planning our vacations for the coming twelve months. I know I definitely fit into the latter group, for me, January is an exciting month to map out the year ahead and fill it with things I know will make it the best yet.

But what are you searching for when it comes to travel? Below I have taken a sample of the biggest questions you’re seeking answers for when it comes to organising your vacations, as well as some surprising discoveries about your searches.

Your Top Search – Best Holiday Destinations

We all want to make sure that we use our precious travel time wisely, so it comes as no surprise that the top travel searches are mainly about getting the destination right so that we go on a trip to remember for years to come.

Your Surprising SearchPhotos Matter Most

It perhaps comes as more of a surprise that we are now often using photo and social media based inspiration to influence where we visit next. Searches for ‘the best Instagrammable travel places’ and ‘Instagrammable destinations’ are rising rapidly, as well as people looking for the holidays that will give them the best photo opportunities in-between enjoying a gelato and exploring historic sites.

If you are looking for inspiration on where to visit in 2020, I have put together a post featuring my favourite all time destinations and many of them have free travel guides and itineraries for you to use.

To save you the click though, my top five are:

  1. Japan
  2. Iceland
  3. Norway
  4. Switzerland
  5. Italy

However if you want to see what the experts are recommending, the Lonely Planet annual ‘Best in Travel’ guide is well worth a read. You can access it here – https://www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel

They list their top ten countries for 2020 as:

  1. Bhutan
  2. England
  3. North Macedonia
  4. Aruba
  5. eSwatini
  6. Costa Rica
  7. Netherlands
  8. Liberia
  9. Morocco
  10. Uruguay

And finally, if neither of those lists appeal, you can always do as others’ are clearly doing, and use Instagram as inspiration of where to head next, bonus points in doing it this way is that you’re guaranteed to get a beautiful photo to add to your feed as this is how you picked where to head to!

Next Top Search – Last Minute Flights

There’s clearly two types of travellers in the world. Those looking and preparing their plans in January (the majority) and those who love a great last minute deal and are looking for a quick getaway.

Over the last five years, the volume of people looking for last minute deals has dropped. Perhaps we no longer are looking for the standard sunny late deal and our travelling preferences have started to change. However, for those who still love the last minute planning, searches for late flight deals peak in mid-July. Perhaps you are regretting not booking a summer trip as your co-workers head off on their adventures, or you are really needing a break from the day to day by the mid-point of the year, so you quickly get looking for a way to escape reality for just a few days.

For most people, the driver for the later deals seems to definitely be cost, with the word ‘cheap’ being included in the majority of last minute flight searches we make.

If you are looking for a late deal, there are five simple things you can do to make your search more fruitful.

  1. You get bigger savings when you book a deal as a whole, rather than just flights. Flight themselves are vastly cheaper when booked early. So if you are keen to get a good late deal, book your travel as a package deal to score the best savings.
  2. Be flexible with your dates, and try to fly mid-week where possible for the best savings. A different of two days can often change the price by hundreds (I have genuinely seen this more often than not)
  3. Set up alerts and subscribe to websites known for promoting late deals. If you are part of their mailing list, you get first visibility of any sales, or good deals they offer.
  4. Booking 14 days before or less is known as the ‘magic window’ and it’s the time where companies really slash their prices to fill up their packages and hotels. Try and hold out if you can before booking.
  5. Be flexible. With last minute deals, you often may not find the package in your price point for the destination you’re seeking. Be open to where you are heading for the best possible savings.
Photo by Ricardo Esquivel on Pexels.com

Searches are Changing – Travel Money

Ahead of a trip, we all like to make sure we have our currency for our new destination sorted. Interestingly, a lot of us only start looking into preparing it a week ahead of our planned vacation.

Of course, the top searches are primarily about rates and best exchange offers, but there’s been some interesting shifts over the last five years in travel money questions.

We used to look for the best rates with well-known high street brands. The Post Office is the top searched firm favourite, followed by Tesco, Asda then Sainsburys. Clearly, we like to combine getting our Euros with our weekly shop in the UK!

However these days, we are also looking for the best new alternatives to cash or prepaid cards for our trips. Revolut and Monzo cards searches are rising in popularity quickly, especially ahead of the summer months. This may be because many of us are seeking easy ways to pay abroad, with less hassle and better rates.

Alternatively, it could be that as Brits we now travel a lot more (on average, we see an increase of 8% more travel year on year) so a simpler solution for frequent travel and currency exchange is now needed by many.

Personally, I have a Revolut Card and I love it for many reasons.

  1. The ease of payment abroad, and fee free cash withdrawals
  2. The fact that you can monitor what you have spent your money on with great charts showing a breakdown (I clearly have a problem with eating meals out)
  3. It takes seconds to transfer to another Revolut card holder, making splitting costs abroad simple
  4. The exchange rates are always great, and you avoid the fees you would incur by paying on your usual cards abroad

If you want a better way to spend abroad (or even just track your finances better at home), get your Free Revolut card using my affiliate link here today.

Something We All Need – Travel Packing Tips

After you have sorted your destination, got yourself a great deal and looked for the best way to pay for your meals and experiences abroad, your next big question is usually seeking advice on what you need to pack for your upcoming adventure.

With the rise in short-breaks and only free hand luggage with budget airlines, many of you are now searching for the best way to get all the essentials on your vacation with you, without paying the essential luggage fees.

Here are the five best packing tips I use on a regular basis that you may benefit from too:

  1. Roll don’t fold! You can easily fit more in your suitcase if you roll your items vs. folding them (and as a bonus, they will crease less this way too).
  2. Packing cubes are the best packing travel invention. Sort your suitcase into handy sections which makes living out of a bag much easier, and reduces the stress of pulling out everything in your case numerous times during a trip to find that one item you need that’s currently evading you.
  3. Plan your outfits before packing, to avoid taking everything you might possibly need and quickly running out of space. Even better, use online capsule wardrobe guides for great inspiration on how to pair a few items to make many outfits.
  4. Pack in advance. There’s nothing like a last minute rush to guarantee you will forget something or end up taking way too much as you panic about what to add into the case just hours before you need to leave.
  5. Always have a spare outfit, toiletries and important documents in your hand baggage. You never know what might happen on a trip and it always pays to be prepared.         

What 2020 Travel Trends Will You Be Embracing?

As we move into a new decade, our travel desires and habits are changing to reflect our new desires and wishes when it comes to adventuring and experiencing more of the world. 

Below are some of the key travel trends I think will shape 2020 and the next few years. Do you recognise any of these from what you’ve been looking for personally? Do you disagree with any?

Train and Non-Air Travel

With the growing rise of ‘flight-shame’ and awareness of the environmental impact regular plane travel has on the planet and climate, people are looking for alternative methods of transport when it comes to planning their next adventures.

Because of this, train, boat and car travel will see an increase in popularity as people combine a more eco-friendly way to arrive with a scenic journey to their destination. 

In 2020, we have reached the joint decision to fly for only one ‘long-haul’ trip where we can’t reach the destination by other means, and then continue the rest of our adventures through other modes of transport. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good start and lets us test what travel through different means really looks like. 

We will be embracing bikes, trains and long road trips to see as much as the world on our doorstep as we can. (Although for full disclosure, this excludes required business travel and trips to see family back in the UK seen as we have a new arrival this year that many want to meet.)

Short Breaks

The usual seven or ten day traditional holiday is moving over and making room for the rapid rise in shorter mini-breaks and weekends away. Younger generations are becoming more ‘leave-savvy’ when it comes to using their hard earned vacation days, and want to utilise them to see and experience more places. 

Therefore, we are seeing a rapid rise in three night destination hops rather than the longer week long holiday to disconnect and unwind. For 2020 and beyond, expect to see more people heading off for long weekends three to four times a year than one big all-expenses holiday in the summer.

We have been huge fans of mini-breaks for years’ now, and spend a good few hours every January working out how to best structure our leave to maximise our adventures for the coming year. Add a day onto public holidays, travel when quiet, and make the most of your weekends with amazing experiences to be found just an hour or two away.

Travelling with Pets

According to Mintel, 59% of British consumers now have a pet, and the biggest trend for growth when it comes to ownership is thanks to the younger millennials (21-30) who are now adopting a furry friend at the same time as their parents were choosing to have children. 

With this rise in younger pet households comes the rise in people travelling with their furry companions. Pet friendly hotels, planes and restaurant demand is on the rapid rise. 52% of American millennial pet owners will now take their pet with them if they are away from home for more than two nights. 

For those who find it harder to travel with their pets, such as those with cats, smaller mammals or animals who don’t quite like the journey, there’s also been a boom in services to support this. Sites like Trusted Housesitters have been gaining rapid popularity, and for good reason. 

Some of the best airlines to travel with a pet are JetBlue, Air France and Swiss Airlines according to independent reviews. Plus, the best countries to travel to or live with a dog? France, Switzerland, Italy and Canada top the list thanks to their pet friendly ways of life. 

Our cats love to travel in the car for short trips, but we don’t think they would quite like a longer journey. So we love sites like Trusted Housesitters and local cat friendly hotels for short breaks away or cat sitting support. 

My brother and sister in-law are literally the leaders in travelling with pets. Their dog Hiro has been alongside them as they take a gap year flying with them to Canada, the US, Mexico, Costa Rica and much more.

Ethical Travel

A survey by Sainsbury’s in the summer of 2019 predicted that 25% of Brits would be vegetarian or vegan by 2025. This accounts for the rise in demand for both vegan hotels, and eco-tourism and more ethical travel. 

People are becoming more aware of their travel footprint, choosing to take ‘no-waste’ amenity kits with them on breaks, seeking out vegan or vegetarian hotels to stay in and paying to offset their carbon footprints for each flight, delivery or service they use. 

I love to see it on sites like Viator, where tour companies are now offering more ethical excursions so you can see more of a country without damaging it through your tourist footprint. 

Family Travel

There’s been a huge growth in people travelling and going away with their extended family and it’s something I think will keep being popular for many years to come. 

As more people lead busier lives, or live further away from each other, the chance to all meet up together in an exciting new destination and to make memories as a family is really appealing. 

There’s been a surge in families booking large rentals, such as through sites like AirBnb, and making the most of both their destination but also time at the lodgings together to just relax, reconnect and make lasting memories. 

Detox Holidays

Whilst technology is a great enabler for every day life, often people are looking towards their holidays as a way of escaping the constant buzz and noise of being always connected. 

A lot of ‘technology-free’ retreats, hotels and vacations are popping up which promise a chance for you to truly disconnect for a period of time. An opportunity to go back to basics and enjoy reading, nature, hiking or the sights around you without online distractions. 

Honestly, this is something I want to try more in 2020. Perhaps not at a ‘technology-free’ retreat, but by leaving our phones behind in the hotel safe, the laptops at home, and properly disconnecting when away. We did this in the South of France late last year, to the level that we had several people asking if we had got there safe and everything was okay as they hadn’t seen any updates on our Instagram about being there.

It was a big reality check for us, and needless to say we now put the phones away during the day and only then upload any photos or highlights of the day when back at our hotel in the evening.

Staycations

Tied with the rise in eco-tourism, as well as the desire to discover more about the beautiful sites on your doorstep, there’s no surprise that staycations are seeing a boom in popularity again amongst travellers.

Whether it’s venturing out to discover hidden gems in your own country, or even just getting together a lot of little luxuries for a weekend hidden away at home, a staycation can really help you relax and recharge without having to (a) spend a fortune or (b) travel far. 

With our first child arriving in just a few months, I hope to use 2020 as a chance to explore more locally, giving us the thrill of going away without the stress of flights, travel and paperwork. Camping is a big love of ours, so we hope that this is one way we can achieve this in the summer. 

My Ten Favourite Destinations Of The Decade

It has been an incredible decade for travel, adventure and experiences. I can honestly say that I practised what I preached over the last ten years, and made travel a main priority based on my personal goals, interests and hopes.

It has required a lot of sacrifice, financial discipline and preparation but it has also resulted in some of the best memories I have ever held. Since 2009, I have been fortunate enough to travel to thirty-seven countries and over eighty different cities. This post is a reflection on my all-time top ten destinations I visited during the last ten years. I hope it can provide you with some inspiration for your next adventure.

Some interesting things that stood out to me when I made the list included the fact that I am clearly happiest travelling in winter or colder conditions, I am more of a rural rather than city break adventurer and a lot of the attraction of a place has to do with the food.

Here are the top ten, ranking in order, with my favourite places first. 

Japan – Kyoto

A country which fuses modern and ancient traditions seamlessly, Japan is a melting pot of culture, tech, art and history. Everything you want to say about Japan can be summarised as a perfect juxtaposition. Chaotic but ordered, futuristic and yet so deeply rooted in tradition, high-rises circling around historic gardens and shrines. This place on paper doesn’t work, but in reality it’s a place which offers you a wealth of different experiences in such a short space of time, and it’s enthralling.

Arriving in Kyoto you quickly get the sense that this city is a cultural and spiritual hub of Japan. There’s over 2000 different shrines, temples and statues hidden amongst the modern city centre. Explore traditional Japanese wooden houses in the Gion district, taste local delicacies in the sprawling markets and enjoy traditional tea ceremonies or stay in a local Ryokan to truly immerse yourself in the historic culture of Japan.

Visit: March-May

Eat: Ramen, Okonomiyaki, Sushi and Korokke

Stay: In a traditional ryokan

See: Shrines, markets, Gion district, surrounding mountains

Full visit guide – open here

Iceland

A magical combination of glaciers, geysers and volcanos make Iceland a truly unique landscape. A place where you can experience the joys of wilderness, the warmth of the locals and the true power of earth and Mother Nature.

It is the stark juxtaposition of the fire from the volcanos and ice from the glaciers that give Iceland its staggering landscape and distinctive opportunities for experiences like no other for tourists. In just a day you can soak in a geothermal lagoon, walk on lava fields and black sand beaches, stand atop ice-covered volcanos and under ice cold waterfalls, and take in the sparse and captivating glaciers.

Visit: February / March for snow and Northern Lights, July / August for hiking and outdoors
Eat: Fresh fish, hearty stews and strong drinks!
Stay: In a Reykjavik hotel with a good spa
See: Waterfalls, Glaciers, Natural Hot Springs and Volcanos

Full visit guide – open here

Norway – Tromso

If you are looking for a magical break, to a place where nature truly delivers breathtaking experiences at every moment, look no further than Tromso, a cosy town nestled right in the heart of the arctic circle.

Surrounded by small peaks, icy fjords and covered in a blanket of soft snow for six months of the year. Tromso is Norway’s most northern city, located in the heart of the Arctic Circle, and it makes a great base for exploring the many wonders mother nature has to offer.

This small city is the gateway to the Northern Lights, in close proximity to several breathtaking fjords and home to the historic Sami culture. Visit and experience a weekend filled with Reindeers, skating on frozen lakes and late night chases to catch a glimpse of the rare but wonderful northern lights as they fill the dark night skies.

Visit: November through March
Eat: Local foods and plenty of Christmas Tea!
Stay: In the Radisson Tromso City Centre
See: Northern Lights, Arctic Fjords, Reindeers and Frozen Lakes

Full visit guide – open here

Switzerland

I am incredibly lucky that a place we as a family decided to relocate to nearly fifteen months ago is now one of my all time favourite countries. Switzerland has so much to offer, and I am thankful every day that I get to explore so much on my doorstep.

With glacier-topped mountains seemingly on every corner, incredible alpine lakes and long green valleys to hike through, there’s so much to offer in this picturesque Alpine paradise. There’s a plethora of outdoor activities to be enjoyed. From skiing and skating in the snow, to biking and hiking in the summer. Here we have experienced more adrenaline activities such as paragliding and climbing in a year, than we have in our lifetime.

Plus, there’s always the draw of the UNESCO heritage vineyards and local caves serving their finest produce every spring and autumn.

Visit: Year-round, depending on your activity and weather preference
Eat: Fondue, Rosti, Chocolate and Fine-dining
Stay: Zurbriggen Hotel Zermatt
See: Mountains, Gorges, Lakes, Valleys and Old Alpine Towns

Full activity guide – open here

Italy – Tuscany

When you think of romantic retreats, Italy is always a good idea. The Tuscan region brings together everything that Italy has to offer, and goes above and beyond with the delivery.

Rolling vineyards, rustic farmhouses and B&B’s, old winding Italian roads and some of the best local foods and wine money can buy are all found in this quaint and historic region on the Italian west coast.

Stay in the hillside outside of Lucca, Siena or Florence and spend your days walking, exploring local farms and producers and cooking at home with the best local ingredients you can source each day after a quiet brunch in town.

There’s so much history and things to do, especially in central Florence that I don’t have space in this post without boring you all. However you can read my upcoming guide to Florence specifically in the next couple of weeks’ if you are feeling inspired.

If you want a guaranteed break filled with delicious food, romantic walks and breathtaking landscapes then book a flight to Tuscany today.

Visit: April-September
Eat: Pasta, Stews, Wine, Bread
Stay: Old Farmhouse Hotels / AirBnBs
See: Vineyards, Florence, Old Tuscan Villages, Rolling Hills

Full visit guide – open here

Cuba

Cuba, the Caribbean destination for culture, history, Cadillac’s and true escapism. Although it’s not got the reputation of the nearby islands for luxury five star retreats and resorts, it offers so much more in the experiences and opportunities you can digest whilst exploring this magical isle.

Never has there been a better time to visit and experience the mix of faded and crumbling Spanish colonial architecture, a dose of communism, white sand beaches and dancing Salsa and drinking rum until the sun goes down. In the last decade, private enterprise has been given the green-light and so many Cuban entrepreneurs have started to offer new opportunities for visitors. From private tours in a vintage Chevrolet to delicious food served in someone’s own casa, there’s a lot more to sample, straight from the locals themselves.

A pastel paradise, Cuba is a destination for people who enjoy travelling but also can adapt to the unexpected and be prepared to slow right down and appreciate an unhurried way of life. While we were there, we got used to we came to call ‘Cuban time’. A little longer to be served, an extended wait to buy a ticket or the complexities that came with getting from A to B. However for us, all this added to the charm of being able to explore a country that seems to be hovering between the past and present.

Havana is an enchanting maze of a city, which we first glimpsed from the old Spanish fort El Morro situated across the bay, overlooking the vast capital. Instantly from afar we could see the patchwork of different architectures all woven together, Colonial, Gothic, American and Russian, illustrating the complex history of Cuba in just a glance.

We found the best way to explore Havana was on foot, weaving our way through the crumbling and pastel lined cobbled streets. Stop to absorb everything you have seen in the many bohemian bars, wander into the art-deco hotel Hemingway made his home for months and stand in one of the many squares that represent the different times and layers of history that have shaped this city like no other.

Our top sights included the Malecon seafront, the Plaza Vieja Square, Plaza de la Revolution and the old town. You should also make an effort to explore the less regenerated area of Centro Habana, in order to get a true feel of life and reality for many Cubans. It is filled with an energy and buzz, away from the crowded tourist hotspots, and showcases the less polished side of the capital, away from the pastel cafes and restored main squares.

Visit: December – April
Eat: Cuban Sandwich, Rice in Black Beans, Vaca Frita, Pastelitos
Stay: Homestay or classic beach front hotel
See: Havana, Cardenas, Varadero, Trinidad

Morocco – Marrakech

Listed as Trip Advisor’s Destination of the Year for 2015, Marrakech is an incredible sensory experience, from the warm smell of rich spices to incredible views of dusky red buildings and city walls situated in the shadow of the Atlas Mountains.

The heart of the magical city, the Medina, is bustling with excitement and history, and a maze of winding alleyways filled with souks, street food stalls and hidden Riads. If we had been alone, I am certain we would have found ourselves lost within the narrow passages, although that wouldn’t have been a bad thing. We could have stayed in the souks for hours, you could discover a new sight, smell or sound there every minute you walked around.

The city is home to many peaceful and lush gardens, which are perfect to unwind in after a morning in the medina. If you have some time, you can always take a carriage ride around several of the serene gardens to take them all in at once.

Also, make sure you head out to the Atlas Mountains, for a camping experience under the stars.

Visit: February – May
Eat: Cous Cous, Tagine, Mint Tea
Stay: Riads in the centre
See: Atlas Mountains, Medina, Souks, Spas

Argentina

Argentina is a sprawling natural wonderland, filled with peaks, forests and the lively city of buenos aires, there’s just so much to see in this incredible South American country.

Watch tango, explore the markets and enjoy good food in a local restaurant whilst people watching. Get out of the city to explore the natural waterfalls, Andes Mountain range and the huge range of wildlife. Spot penguins, whales, giant anteaters and more!

Head to Patagonia, the Perito Moreno Glacier and the south to truly immerse yourself in this naturally outstanding country. Especially if you’re a big fan of winter sports.

In the capital, there are heaps of vintage bookstores, creative boutiques and local stores and bars to sip on a cocktail under the sun.

Visit: Depending on where Argentina is a year-round destination
Eat: Chimichurri, Empanadas, Mate, Steak, Barbecue
Stay: Depends where you are based!
See: As much as you truly can, you need at least two weeks to see the best of the country

Australia – Great Ocean Road 

Drive along the coast of the wild southern ocean via winding narrow roads, small rainforests and amazing clifftop viewpoints. situated just a short distance from Melbourne, head out and explore all the striking coastal landscapes Victoria has to offer.

The Great Ocean Road consists of 243km of incredible landscapes, terrains and wildlife. Although it could technically be driven end to end in around six hours, I would really recommend doing this over several days to allow you to enjoy and experience the different sections of the route.

You will stop at world class surfing beaches, witness Koala’s and Kangaroos in the wild, and get to wander through lush tropical rainforests on your way to see the Twelve Apostle’s and other iconic sites towards the end of the route.

Visit: November – January
Eat: Whole foods, vegan treats, and fresh seafood
Stay: Beacon Point Ocean View Villas
See: 12 Apostles, Wildlife, Apollo Bay, Rainforests, Surfing, Lighthouses

Download my free visit guide here

Moscow – Russia

Somewhere I visited fleetingly but it left such a longing to go back it had to make this list. A historical city, sprawling out from the Kremlin and Red Square through to majestic surrounding streets, and tall imposing architecture.

Explore retro clubs and cafes nodding to the soviet era, experience luxury afternoon tea in fine dining restaurants and bars. Wander through ornate shopping malls and discover colourful hidden gems, historic fortresses and huge cathedrals dotted all across the city.

Visit: March – June
Eat: Pelmeni, Borshch, Pirozhki and luxury dining
Stay: Ritz Moscow
See: Kremlin, Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum, Bolshoi Theatre, The Ornate Subway, Alexander Garden, State Museum.

EasyJet Travel Hacks – Ten Top Tips To Have A Better Budget Flight

Love them or loathe them, you can’t deny that the European budget airline carriers have opened up a whole host of opportunities and freedoms when it comes to short haul travel and city breaks. For less than you would normally spend on a weekend meal and night out, you can now fly return to most European cities. This year I managed to fly back to the UK for less than taxi to my hotel upon arrival cost.

However, it definitely comes with some strings attached. Often these carriers make up for their low fares in the extras they charge to provide you with a more comfortable and stress-free flight. Thanks to a combination of business and personal travel I have sat on upwards of twenty EasyJet planes in 2019 (I don’t want to count the actual figure in case it’s much higher).

Due to this, I have discovered some surprisingly little tips and tricks that may make your journey a little less budget, and a little more enjoyable when you next board.

Check in as early as you can to improve your seat

You can check into an EasyJet flight up to 30 days before you depart. However, if you are a bit like me, you tend to leave this part to the few days before when you are finalising your packing and gathering paperwork for a trip.

In the future, try not to put it off and do it as soon as you get the email saying check in is open. You will be allocated a better seat as more are available and the algorithm can do more magic this way.

Cabin bag plus duty free bag in many airports

In most major airports, EasyJet allows you to take your one cabin bag on board in addition to one bag of duty free shopping. This can be a genius travel hack if you prepare properly. Following previous airport purchases, I have kept a Boots, and a Duty Free plastic bag that I always fold into the front of my case.

Then, when I need to queue to board, I put my handbag or tablet into this plastic bag. If I purchase something in the airport, I don’t bring out my trusty old carrier and use this instead.

This way, you don’t get fined for having a second small bag when boarding, and it means that you don’t need to struggle with using a big suitcase as a handbag for little things like your phone, passport and mints in the airport and plane.

I now do this for practically every flight, and fingers crossed, no issues yet!

Obviously this has two disclaimers:

  1. It may not always work for you like it has for me, so if you take this risk and don’t have room for the second bag in your luggage, you will have to pay a fee.
  2. Make sure your duty free bag actually is from a shop in the airport (you can’t just take any plastic carrier!)

Use their fare finders to get the best prices

If you book directly on their site, and look for best prices using their EasyJet Fare Finder, you can find some great deals, especially if you can be flexible with your departure dates and times.

Become a regular and join their Flight Club

If you take enough flights a year, EasyJet send you an email welcoming you into their ‘Flight Club’. It has many benefits but my personal favourite is the ability to change your flights without paying the admin fee, instead you just pay any difference in cost if there is any.

Additionally, if you find your flight for less after booking, they will ensure you get this difference back.

If you take regular short haul trips, it can good to be loyal to one provider to benefit from their perks.

Photo by Jason Toevs on Pexels.com

Pack your own snacks (and drinks too!)

You can no longer bring full bottles through security at departures unless they are under 100ml, but you can bring an empty and reusable water carrier.

Then when you pass security, fill this up at the many free fountains before boarding. This way, you save yourself the £2-3 they charge for bottled water. On this note however, if you ask the crew they can give you free cups of tap water if you go to their galley and ask politely.

Additionally, you can bring through a pre-packed lunch if you don’t want to buy the food on board.

Buying food vouchers before you board

However on the above, if you know you’re going to eat on the plane, EasyJet do these great vouchers that allow you to buy their meal deals for less before you board.

If you are definitely going to want food and a drink, a little bit of prep before you buy goes a long way.

Board early to avoid your bag being placed in the hold

Although usually I hate it when people gather around the boarding gate before their class or zone has been called (if you are one of these people, I genuinely would be interested to know why you do this) an EasyJet flight is where I make an exception to this rule.

Primarily because they don’t board by zones like bigger airlines, and because they have a new rule where only the first seventy bags through the gate go onto the plane. The rest are taken to the hold, free of charge, for you to collect on arrival.

Honestly, I personally like the rule, as there’s nothing worse than your flight being delayed as people struggle to find space for their luggage and coats in the overhead lockers.

However it does mean if you want your bag with you in the cabin, you need to be one of the first seventy to board.

Photo by Tranmautritam on Pexels.com

Hand luggage limit is on size, not weight

As long as you can lift it, it can fly in the cabin. EasyJet are great in that whilst the cabin bags have a size limit, they don’t have a weight limit.

So if you have a few big items you need to take, and they risk your hold luggage going over-weight and incurring a bigger fee, stick them in your cabin baggage when packing.

This was a true lifesaver for me when I was moving to Switzerland without my furniture for four months. All my books came with me in my hand luggage to save weight-space in my two hold bags.

As long as you can personally lift it into the overhead locker, you can fly with it!

Extra legroom gets an extra under seat bag for free

If you book a seat with extra legroom (priced from around £10 up to £25) depending on the flight, you get to board first, and get a second piece of cabin baggage for free.

Sometimes this works out better than having to pay for hold luggage if it’s just a laptop or small rucksack you need to fit all your extra stuff in for a week away.

Going hands-free allows for boarding priority – can be for an individual or a group at a discount

You can pay to check in your cabin baggage for a little as £7 per person, or there’s a discount if you are a bigger family and travelling in a group.

This way, you put it in the hold but you get to board the plane first, and usually the luggage is waiting for you when you disembark as it gets priority status for offloading. A good way to avoid carrying heavy cases around and to get on the plane and seated before the rush.

Five of the Best Couple’s Travel Destinations to Inspire Your Next Trip

If you want to truly deepen, test or discover more about a new relationship, book a vacation together. Travelling as a couple is an incredible experience as it allows you to visit new places and make memories together. It expands your own personal perspective on a destination as you start to see it through another’s eyes as well as your own. Oh, and should anything go a little wrong, it also gives you the opportunity to see how you work together to overcome it and still make the most of your time away.

Personally, I think it’s also really important to travel alone, on trips with friends without your spouse, and with wider family to really discover more about yourself and the world around you. However it’s true that not much beats a trip away with your loved one discovering new cultures one place at a time.

For those looking for their next retreat as a two, these are my favourite destinations to visit as a couple, and have all been personally tested so the tips are all genuine!

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Iceland

Whether it’s watching the Northern lights under a cosy blanket or three in the winter months, or soaking up the warm summer with thermal spas and outdoor adventures, Iceland is a dream romantic destination for couples all year round

Book a long weekend away and experience the true power of nature from all corners of this country. There’s lots of rustic AirBnB wooden lodges, with floor to ceiling windows easily bookable online. Take along some warm clothes, your best hiking boots and spend the weekend under waterfalls, in the presence of active volcanos and at the mercy of all the elements.

When you are tired at the end of your long treks, visit many of the famous thermal spas to soak away the steps of the day and enjoy a glass of champagne in the natural baths under the stars.

I am still surprised when many of my well-travelled friends have yet to tick off Iceland on their destination bucket lists. It’s one of my favourite places in the world, and I am always itching to go back.

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Photo by Mark Dalton on Pexels.com

Ireland

For a romantic mix of city breaks and incredible countryside, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Ireland. Start with two days in Dublin, exploring the magical Trinity College Library and take a book to read in the University gardens under the sun.

In between exploring the town centre and many shops, have afternoon tea at the Laduree Café in Dublin and then go back to rest before spending the evening in the cobbled Temple Bar district, enjoying great live music, and of course a pint of Guinness or three.

When you are feeling all ‘citied’ out, take the local tram, train or bus out to the countryside or the sea. Howth and The Wicklow Mountains are both nearby and allow you to experience a quieter and gentler side to Ireland. Top tip – when we went to Howth it was sunny but incredibly windy. Definitely dress for all seasons as the weather can be very different to the city!

Stay in a luxury city-centre hotel to have a comfortable place to go back and relax in, after sampling the local wildlife and delicacies.

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Lisbon

Cobbled narrow streets, pastel buildings with terracotta roofs, and food a plenty. Lisbon is a rustic and picture perfect place to go away as a two and experience great food, history and cultural highlights in one sprawling city.

You can spend your days wandering around the cobbled old town eating local seafood, exploring quaint art galleries and testing the cult Pasteis de Nata, which have a different recipe in every bakery so you definitely need a few to choose your favourite.

If you have time, take a trip out to the nearby old fishing towns on the coast for a quieter day of Portuguese culture, and consider hiring or booking a place on a boat trip to see the sunset in the best possible way.

The TimeOut Market and the botanical gardens are great places to have a romantic date, with two very different vibes and feelings.

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Tuscany

When you think of romantic retreats, Italy is always a good idea. The Tuscan region brings together everything that Italy has to offer, and goes above and beyond with the delivery.

Rolling vineyards, rustic farmhouses and B&B’s, old winding Italian roads and some of the best local foods and wine money can buy are all found in this quaint and historic region on the Italian west coast.

Stay in the hillside outside of Lucca, Siena or Florence and spend your days walking, exploring local farms and producers and cooking at home with the best local ingredients you can source each day after a quiet brunch in town.

There’s so much history and things to do, especially in central Florence that I don’t have space in this post without boring you all. However you can read my upcoming guide to Florence specifically in the next couple of weeks’ if you are feeling inspired.

If you want a guaranteed break filled with delicious food, romantic walks and breathtaking landscapes then book a flight to Tuscany today.

New York

New York

A little further afield than the other places on this list, but no romantic getaway list would be complete without a nod to New York. In the city that never sleeps, there’s a wealth of ways you can explore and connect with your other half whilst really experiencing the trip of a lifetime in the world’s most famous city.

From wandering around their world class art museums (MOMA, Guggenheim, MET) to afternoons boating and picnicking in Central Park, there’s plenty of ways to take in this huge and incredible city together.

Don’t go expecting a quiet romantic holiday however, this is definitely more an activity packed week away, but will easily create many memories for you to look back on as a two in such a short space of time.

Take in the sunset at the Top of the Rockefeller building, enjoy Sunday brunch at one of the city’s best hotels and wear off the soles of your shoes walking through the endless boroughs and districts which all have new experiences to offer to you.

Do you think anywhere is missing on this list? Where’s your favourite place to go as a two?

 

How We Travel So Often When We Have Pets – Our Top Tips

It’s no secret that we both travel frequently for work and also leisure. Whether it’s a quick weekend away by train or a long haul vacation, there’s a number one priority for us to address when it comes to travelling, even before we book a flight, hotel or plan an itinerary. Making sure our two cats are well taken care of during our absence.

If we couldn’t secure trusted and comfortable care for our pets then the travel wouldn’t happen because for us they are the highest priority. Living abroad also brings a new element of challenge. Sometimes we used to be able to rely on the incredible kindness and support from family and friends for sitting, we no longer have that option now we are more remote.

Thanks to a great recommendation, we have been able to continue adventuring with the peace of mind that our pets and home are well taken care of. These days, for nearly every trip, we use the incredible Trusted Housesitters website. By the way, this isn’t a sponsored post for this service (I doubt they would pay me for my moderate traffic), it’s truly a website I want to shout far and wide about to help others in need of pet care, or free accommodation abroad when travelling.

Trusted Housesitters is a platform that connects people needing pet care with trusted travellers who are looking for accommodation. It’s a simple exchange, free pet care for free accommodation. Everyone wins!

The site allows you to list the dates you are away, along with a profile of your home, pets and their needs. From this, potential sitters apply to come stay and you can message them, explore their profile and read reviews from previous verified sits they have completed to ensure you have the right person for your home and pets. So far, we have hosted five wonderful sitters, and will continue to do so in the future.

The peace of mind of the reviews, third-party platform to communicate through, and the option to Skype chat with them ahead of the stays are really comforting. As people who haven’t put their cats in kennels for personal reasons (not against other’s choosing to do so but it’s not something we would like to do ourselves) this is a way we have managed to maintain our travel goals whilst keeping the furry ones happy.

It costs around £90 a year for membership and then it’s free to list as many stays as you need. For us, that’s the price of an independent sitter for one day, so it’s really worth it.

We were nervous the first time we left but now we are really comfortable and happy with the process. Plus, the reviews on our profile about our two cats having distinct ‘characters’ always make us laugh. It’s refreshing to know you’re not the only ones who think your cats are weirdos.

It’s a service we also hope to use for accommodation too in the near future. The thought of combining a holiday with a friendly household pet to come home to each day sounds too good to be true. There’s listings worldwide, and some of the places look truly incredible.

If you are looking for a cost-neutral and trusted way for your pets to be taken care of during any future trips, or local free accommodation in return for walks and feeds, then I would really recommend checking the site out.

Plus, if you ever want to come and look after Arthur and Margot, we’d love for you to explore Switzerland through our home.

Can You Guess? The Top Searched For Lonely Planet Destinations In 2019 And My Thoughts On Them.

As the weather gets warmer, it’s natural that we start to think about our travel plans and where to venture to this year for some much needed Vitamin D, time out and new experiences.

When looking for where to go to next, I am a big fan of visual searching, social media inspiration and also trying to seek out a destination that suits my needs. Sometimes you want a city break, other times a more adventurous tropical retreat.

To inspire you with your choices for 2019, here’s what the UK has been looking for when it comes to travel guides and destination advice. The top searches for Lonely Planet this year so far are:

  1. London
  2. Sri Lanka
  3. Croatia
  4. Portugal
  5. Japan
  6. Thailand
  7. New York
  8. Rome
  9. Vietnam
  10. Barcelona
  11. Canada
  12. Iceland

If the above looks like an amazing list to help you decide where to visit next, but you’re still a little stumped on which one or where, here’s my thoughts on the one’s I have visited myself.

Dubrovnik Old Town Croatia

Croatia is incredible, and has so much to offer across all the different cities and landscapes of the country. I have written a longer guide to getting the most out of Dubrovnik here, and also have explored the beautiful and historic northern port of Zadar which I can wholly recommend. Go for culture, pristine national parks, delicious fresh seafood and of course, island hopping.

Portugal is a warm, vibrant and welcoming country. Visit Lisbon for aesthetically pleasing buildings, tiled interiors and a lively and exciting atmosphere. Taste the custard tarts, watch the local dancing late at night, and hop from one bar to another to experience all the best tapas the city can offer.

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Japan is easily the best country I have ever visited, and you can read more in detail on this guide here. Go for the hospitality, the incredible juxtaposition of old meets new with the futuristic cities filled with ancient shrines and culture. It’s a real foodie place so stop and savour all the street food at the many local markets, and don’t leave without taking the bullet train to get out of the main hub of Tokyo and everything this incredible country has to offer.

A true land of natural wonder, Iceland was genuinely the best place I ever visited until Japan knocked it off first place this March. It’s a strong second however. A place where you really feel connected with nature, able to explore volcanic landscapes, natural baths and glaciers in the space of a day. The people are friendly, hilarious and incredibly artistically gifted. Read more in my guide here.

Thailand was our first experience of Asia, and it really did not disappoint. From gorgeous islands, to kayaking out in the Andaman Sea, eating all the mouth-wateringly good local dishes and hiking through the mountains it is a country that can offer you so many experiences you just need to choose what’s right for you. There’s endless shrines, golden bays and jungles to hike through, now you just need to decide how to spend your time there!

Because it was our honeymoon destination, Rome will always hold a special place in my heart. Go for a city of history. Somewhere where you can really stand in the middle of the Coliseum, Roman Forum or the Vatican and feel the immense scale and power of these grand places. The food is always good, the red wine fantastic, and the location means it’s close to many of Italy’s other golden destinations such as Pompeii, Amalfi and Florence. There’s just something about Italy that captures you when you are there. It delivers many recurring simple pleasures that they have honed and got just right over the years. We have gone back to Italy every year, at least once, for the last seven years now, and there’s a reason for this. It’s the country that just keeps on giving.

apartment architecture balcony barcelona

Barcelona is a city which is just always alive and awake. I have visited the city six times and yet still there’s an endless list of things I have yet to do there, restaurants I want to eat at, or bars I wanted to experience. Honestly, you’d never find yourself bored in this warm and vast city. Come for the historical sites, the breath-taking Sagrada Familia and the green parks surrounding the city, but stay for the award-winning food, local cuisines and of course, the sangria and red wine. Don’t miss the regular festivals held there to really immerse yourself in the city.

I can’t comment on Vietnam, Sri Lanka, or Canada. However watch this space for our New York update after September this year.

If you have any top tips you can share on the big apple, or any of the countries above, please comment below and inspire others with your insider advice and helpful comments.

 

 

 

FAQ – Travel Edition

If I had to estimate how many questions I regularly get based on my writing, I would average it out somewhere between more than I get letters through the post for any topic, but less than I get texts from my budget app telling me I have spent too much on eating out that month again.

But in all seriousness, I do get some really great regular questions around travelling from all you wanderlust lovers out there. To make things a little simpler, I thought I would collate a small sample of the most frequently asked travel queries and my answers here.

What are your three favourite countries?

Without a doubt Italy, Iceland and Switzerland. Italy for the food, the architecture and history. Iceland for nature, dramatic landscapes and people. Switzerland for the mountains, the lakes and the outdoor activities on offer, as well as really good food.

We did our first holiday, technically our honeymoon from the UK together to Rome, and every year since we’ve visited Italy at least once. So far we’ve seen Amalfi, Capri, Naples, Sardinia, Venice, Milan, Lake Como, Bergamo, Aosta and Rome. This year we are going to explore Tuscany.

What’s your favourite weekend getaway?

When I lived in the UK, I actually loved to explore local as I think often when we think of travel, we think it has to involve crossing borders. For me, a perfect weekend included an old castle, stately home, rustic B&B or even a tent somewhere in the UK’s dales, moors or lakes.

Scottish highlands is my favourite, but wasn’t the easiest to get to.

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Who do you travel with?

90% of the time, I travel with my wonderful husband. However we love a group adventure and so we regularly do trips with our siblings, parents or friends.

Around once / twice a month I will travel alone for work.

How do you afford to travel so often?

Live minimally, buy little, and only what you really need. Often a return flight can cost the same as a new pair of shoes you really don’t need. If travel is your end-game, you need to prioritize this over a new Xbox game or upgrading a car when yours works perfectly.

It’s not for everyone, but it’s important to us, so we make these choices.

Our home, transport and clothes are not the best, but they do the job, which leaves more money to see the world.

Oh, and I work hard to make it a reality too.

How do you travel and work? What is your job?

Prioritization, it’s the most important factor. A recent study by CIO showed that if you take all your allocated leave in a year you’re up to 26% more productive than people who don’t.

Time off is important, and it’s important to spend that time off valuably. We organize leave so it works best for us, for travelling and adventuring. One day off makes a long weekend, which equals a three day break.

Don’t look back and regret it, plan your time wisely, and put those plans into action.

Long haul flying advice?

Go with a good airline, keep hydrated, book your seats in advance to get the best options and know you’ll be comfortable (rows of just two seats for a couple are worth the extra money).

Take entertainment, a good sleep-aid is never a bad idea, and invest in a travel cushion, comfy layered clothes and a foot rest or inflatable pillow.

Oh, and antiseptic wipes, planes are FULL of germs and a good seat and tray wipe-down is never a bad idea.

Lastly, match your in-flight sleep to your new destination timezone, helps with the jet lag.

How far in advance do you book a trip?

If it’s somewhere I want to go that year, I use flight alerts and book it when the cost is lowest. Many travel apps can also help you with previous years’ data to predict when flights will be at their lowest cost. Hopper is a really good app for this.

For weekend breaks, often I book around three months in advance. I always book a hotel as soon as I book a flight, and then cancel it closer to the time if I see a better deal.

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Where should I go next?

Wherever makes you happy. Look for a place that meets your travel needs and wish-lists, don’t try and seek out the hit new destination or follow the crowds, chances are it may not suit you personally and you may be disappointed. Find something you love to do, and find the best place to do it!

Any downsides to travelling?

I get pretty bad anxiety so before any trip I usually find myself nervous and wanting to cancel, rather than the excitement you should get. For this, my husband is a trooper who makes sure we get on the plane.

Language can be a barrier in tricky situations, so downloading the Google Translate app is a real must.

If you do it too much, you can find yourself weary, so make sure you have a good balance between coming and going.

If it goes wrong, it goes wrong. Cancelled flights, bad weather or lost luggage can ruin a trip. Which is why it’s always good to be prepared, have a plan B, and get good insurance!

The environmental cost is not great at all, which is why we always try and pay the optional offset contributions that airlines now offer, and reduce our impact in other ways day to day, such as not eating meat at home or recently deciding to no longer own a car.

Any other questions? I’d love to hear and answer them so pop them in the comments below!

How To Decide Where To Include On Your Travel Bucket List

Modern transport, low cost fares and easier access to visas has made travel, adventure and exploring a lot easier and more accessible to all. With return flights to Spain costing less than most capital city train tickets for a daily commute it’s easy to see why we are often choosing Sangria over subway stations.

For people who love to explore and adventure, the question is less about how, and more about where. Where should we go to next? Like many people I have my own ‘bucket list’ of dream destinations I hope to visit over the next few years, but trying to decide what we included, or where we should go next, involves a lot of deliberation. 

Unless you’re a full time travel editor, blogger or don’t need to work, non-stop travelling isn’t a long-term reality. We may get a few weeks a year, a gap-year opportunity or a career break but still within these periods we need to make some hard choices about where we visit, what we see and what countries are non-negotiable in our explorations.

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Several factors helped to shape our destination dream-list, but overall, every place we put on there needs to do three things:

  • Are we going because it will provide us with an experience, memory, or taste of culture we want to experience and take-away? Not every experience is for everyone, so whilst one person may have loved the place, make sure you’re visiting it for the right reasons or you may be disappointed in your experience.
  • Do we know enough about it? It’s easy to choose a place down to photos or Pinterest inspiration alone, but before any place goes on our list, we make sure we know about everything from what the cities can offer, to the climate, food and adventures on offer at the destination. A white sand beach looks incredible on a photo, but if that’s all the place has to offer and you need daily action and activities, you may find the trip lacking.
  • Will a trip here make us happy? Make sure you’re going for the right reasons. I know many people who have travelled to a place because it’s the ‘hit’ place to be seen (myself included!) and yet when they get there, it’s not comparable to what they saw the online bloggers, travel journalists and influencers experiencing. This is because often they have the budget, know-how and infrastructure of a team working with them to make the trip look the best it can, because at the end of the day, it will be used to sell more of the same going forward. We’ve all seen and learnt from Fyre Festival right?! So choose somewhere that makes you feel happy and excited to go to, no one else.

But before we get to assess a place using the above criteria, and adding it to our list, we firstly need the inspiration. Now there’s no right or wrong way to get ideas for your next trip, but here’s some insight into how we discover places, in case it helps you.

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Visual search

Whether on Pinterest feeds, Instagram wanderlust accounts or a quick google search for iconic places, a picture speaks a thousand words.

Often, after seeing the photo, we start to do some research into the place it was taken. What else is there on offer? Does it always look like this or is this some clever influencer framing going on? If we discover that that photo is just the tip of the iceberg and the place has way more to offer in terms of adventure, good food and good views, it goes onto the list.

Interest based

Find something you love to do, and then find the best places to do this across the world. If you’re a top surfer, looking for the best places to ride waves worldwide is a good way to begin compiling your bucket list.

For us, we love good food, watersports (especially on boats), mountains and hiking, and photography. Often we use these as checkpoints to make sure a destination can offer us elements of all or most of the above. We know when we get to do all of this on a trip, we have the best times.

We won’t put anywhere on our list that’s just ‘I want to go to this country’. It has to be ‘I want to go to this country and do this’ because this way, it’s more concrete as to why this destination appeals.

Speak to others

So I know my point one of deciding if a place should be on your list says be wary of recommendations, but this is only if you fall in love with the idea of a place because someone says ‘it’s the best place they’ve ever been’ and you leave it at that and book your flights.

Often, the best travel advice I have got is from my close friends who also travel regularly too. I make sure when they are telling me about somewhere I ask for the details, like why was the place so amazing for you, what did you do there, or what was the food, culture and transport like?

If you go for more of the insider tip route and dig deeper into their passion, you will quickly discover if their experience is similar to what you are seeking. If they went for the best beach holiday, and you’re after more of a city hopping vibe, you’ll find out that perhaps it’s not for you.

Rely on the experts

Lonely planet, National Geographic, and many big travel editors and bloggers are still around and being listened to for a reason.

If you are looking for new inspiration, or want to check if a place really is for you, their websites are a great place to get ideas flowing.

I don’t visit any place without the latest Lonely Planet guide in my backpack.

Final thoughts

All the above is great for choosing where, but then you need to choose when. For this element, it becomes a little easier because you can think more pragmatically.

Budgets, weather at the destination, what kind of escape (City, beach snow) you are seeking or who you are travelling with will help you whittle down where’s next.

At the end of the day, there’s so many places to choose from, but there’s no right or wrong. Just choose places you dream of, that make you happy. Don’t follow the crowd to be disappointed, at the end of the day, it’s only your memories you’ll be impacting.

Easy Camping – Top Tips For Just Switching Off

When you’re looking for picturesque views, ultimate peace and quiet and a chance to really get away and escape, not much can beat camping in the great outdoors.

Everyone has their own reasons why they love camping, and it’s no surprise that the popularity of this fuss-free getaway just keeps on growing.

Life is getting louder, more stressful and harder to switch off from, it’s a fact. We are exposed to 5000 advertisements and messages on an average day, spend over eight hours on staring at a screen, and thanks to the internet we now receive five times as much information a day as we did in the 1980’s. 

So no wonder people are turning back to basics, and seeking the peaceful respite that camping can provide. Especially if there’s no phone signal at your chosen destination.

This is the main reason we love to get away, pop up a tent and talk the hours away under the open skies. Now I wouldn’t say we are camping experts. I certainly have many more pitches and tents to erect before I could claim that title. However we have been on a fair few trips, and we are starting to feel that we have got the basics down when it comes to having a perfect outdoors break.

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So below I will share my easy camping tips. For those who are more seasoned outdoor sleepers, please share your advice in the comments below, it will be great to hear your insights.

Book a great campsite

There are thousands of campsites across the U.K, so you will be truly spoilt for choice when it comes to immersing yourself in nature for some much needed R&R. Personally, my favourite places to pitch up are in the Scottish Loch Lomond area, Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and the Yorkshire Coast. Being by the lake or the sea is a top priority when I am looking for a destination, especially if I can open up my tent in the morning and see right out over the coast whilst still toasty in my duvet.

I love the site www.pitchup.com for instant booking of tent pitches, camping pods and much more. We use it when we are booking a last minute getaway and need quick sight of visibility rather than ringing around a lot of destinations. Plus, they have loads of reviews, so you can quickly see if the site is right for you.

Arrive Early

Get to your site with enough time to put up your tent, and discover where the bathrooms, showers and water points are whilst it’s still light. It’s fully possible to do it all in the dark via torchlight, but it makes for a much more relaxing stay if you can get yourself set up in the daytime.

Practice at home first

We have all been there. Whether it’s a tent, flat pack furniture or a new recipe. Following instructions for the first time is never easy. Prepare yourself for putting up your tent by making sure you have practiced at least once at home first. You will be really grateful, especially if the weather isn’t pleasant and you want to get it up as quickly as possible!

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Invest in your kit

Good quality camping gear can make or break a trip. Invest in the core pieces which really matter. A good tent, quality camp chairs, a robust airbed and stove or portable BBQ. There’s nothing worse than getting to a dream weekend away and the tent collapsing, airbed deflating or BBQ breaking (I have experienced the two former, and only thanks to Duct Tape did we get through the stay!) Oh, on that note, duct tape fixes a lot of camping issues – so have some in your bag.

Pop-up tents can be brilliant for dry one-night stays, we often use it if we are away for half a day, but I wouldn’t advise you use it for wet weather or longer breaks.

Side note – before you do invest in all the above however, maybe lend the kit from a friend first to try out if camping is for you.

Camping doesn’t have to mean being uncomfortable

Take what you need with you to make yourself comfortable and relaxed on your trip. We always pack:

  • A good quality airbed
  • Picnic blanket and groundmat to go under it – double dry
  • Portable toilet (when the night-time walks for the bathroom blocks are too far)
  • Extra throws to go on top of the airbed (most heat is lost from the cold ground below you)
  • Camp chairs
  • An actual duvet on warm nights (much cosier than a sleeping bag)
  • Portable speaker
  • Whistling kettle (got to get the morning coffee in!)

Prepare your entertainment

Quite often, relaxing under the stars is enough, however it’s always great to have some cards, and travel board games that you can play as the night winds down and the sun is still in the sky.

Deet is your best friend

Like I have written many times before, Deet is one of my top ten must-have items when travelling. Midges and camping go hand in hand. Firepits and citronella spray can also help.

Plan for rain

You’re going to sleep outdoors, in the UK. There’s a high possibility of rain. By being prepared, it makes it a whole lot easier. Take clothes that dry quickly, keep wellies on standby, and an umbrella for cooking in the drizzle.

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Take the right essentials

I always think the key to a good camping trip is solid preparation. I don’t go without the following little extras as essentials:

  • Spare plastic bags for wet clothes, rubbish, and much more
  • Wet wipes
  • Deet
  • Bottle opener (or better yet, a multi-tool knife)
  • First aid kit
  • Spare tent pegs
  • Duct Tape
  • A water container to refill on site
  • Torch and batteries
  • A charging powerbank (for loading up your phone for a map to get home the next day)

Camping is fun with friends

Camping can be romantic, but also a great social activity with a great group of friends. Stories round the campfire, slightly warm wine and roasting marshmellows make for a great group weekend away.

Book a site and get people on board for a new take on group holidays.

What is your top camping advice? Do you have any brilliant sites we should check out? Comment below and I will share in the next blog.