Saving Money as a Solo Traveller

Life as a solo traveller can be financially tough, as the majority of travel expenses such as hotels and car rental are much cheaper when travelling as a couple, whether this is with a partner or a friend… yet, there are certain things you can do that can save you money as a solo traveller which is what this article is going to look at.

TRAVEL OFF SEASON – One of the most significant benefits of being a solo traveller is that you only have to work around your schedule; you don’t have to worry about taking kids out of school, or the time constraints of your partner’s work schedule.  You are free to work exclusively around what works best for you… and in this sense, you are often more able to travel out of season – which will make the cost of travel a lot cheaper. Continue reading

5 Ways That Will Help You Save Money For Your Next RV Road Trip

RV travel is an appealing way to hit the road on your next trip. Not only does it offer convenience and flexibility, but the low costs offer peace of mind for the budget traveller. Some advance planning is required and that also provides a chance to tailor the trip to exactly what you want to see and do.

There are many ways that you can save money for your next RV road trip. First and foremost, decide on your budget. This way you can really start to analyse where you can and can’t cut down the price tag. Find out what steps you can take to save money and maximize fun for the whole family.

Rent an RV – RVing on a budget is made so much easier with the option of renting. You can pick your RV based on price, style or practicality. This will save you a tonne of money upfront and works out cheaper than renting out rooms in every single city. It also makes for a much better experience.
Make sure that you rent from a trustworthy, reputable company. You don’t want your trip ruined by an unmaintained RV. Many RVs will also come with all necessities included, so you only have to pack your clothes. Another benefit; the RV dealers will probably have a lot of travel tips and tricks up their sleeves.

Pack all your food – Just one takeaway there, one restaurant here and breakfast out again…it all adds up. Before you know it, you’ve spent hundreds on fast food, that you could have been making in your kitchen. So many backpackers and travellers would be envious of your ample kitchen. Make the most of it. Pack everything from snacks, canned and dried food to all the items you need for your favorite meal. A lot of veteran RVers have started taking slow cookers on their travels. This way they can explore whilst their food cooks, have some for leftovers and make the minimal amount of mess. Genius.

Save gas and take it slow – Why are you rushing through those amazing locations? Why not slow down, take everything in and save yourself a bit of money at the same time. 55mph is the recommended speed for saving gas and you have the benefit of viewing some spectacular scenery and wildlife, not just speeding by. The same also applies to those who refuse to use a GPS. If you get lost, think about all that gas you wasted, when you could have just invested in a useful GPS.

Plan everything ahead – RV life doesn’t have to be spontaneous to be exciting. If you’re looking to save money, you’ll have to budget a little bit. Prior planning will allow you to find the cheapest possible camping grounds, search for deals, avoid roads that don’t take RVs, find the best routes and time everything at the cheapest season.
Just take the time to dive into a bit of research, especially if you’re on a tight budget. You won’t regret it.

These are all simple steps that you can take, just a couple weeks in advance. The plan ahead type of RVers save so much more money than the just go road trippers. You never know, you might find yourself in a situation where how much you save shocks you.

Safety Guide for Solo Travelers

Heading off on a solo adventure can be really inspiring and fun. You get to do whatever you feel like without having to take everyone else into consideration – and you have time to really get to know yourself.

Yet, being on your own in a distant land can also seem a bit intimidating to those who haven’t done it before and, if this is your first time as a solo traveler, you should try to stick to these basic safety rules.

While it’s impossible to safeguard yourself completely from everything that might happen, you can certainly make those unfortunate or even dangerous situations a lot less likely. Here is a handy guide to first-time solo travelers so that you are able to stay a bit safer and enjoy the journey.

First: Don’t dress to impress – The number one rule to being out and about on your own as a tourist is to stay street smart. It’s not to say that you have yourself to blame if you get robbed, though, as this can happen to anyone – but if you manage to stay smart, you’re making it a bit less likely.

Dress in casual and comfortable clothes and try to avoid looking fancy, so to speak. It’s no point putting on your nicest outfit when you’re traveling, in any way, as you’d want your clothes to be comfortable and durable.

With that being said, you can dress smart without actually acting smart when you’re out and about. Since there are so many distractions and a lot to look at all the time, we tend to get a bit caught up in it – and may forget to check out belongings or our bag.

Keep your valuables close to your body, even in one of those beloved fanny packs, and try not to flash your phone around all the time. Especially not when you’re on public transport as you never know if someone jumps you, grabs your phone, and heads for the door in a split second.

Next: Look smart – Being street smart is about more than just dressing in comfortable and non-flashy outfits, though, as those who are looking to take advantage of people are more likely to approach you if you’re wandering around all confused.

If you do get lost, ask someone for directions and head off with your head held high. Seeming confused, uncertain, and lost are great ways to get targeted by those who are looking for vulnerable tourists; you want to give off the impression that you know exactly where you’re going and what’s going on.

The same goes for when you’re handling your money at the ATM. Thieves know very well that tourists, in general, need to use these machines and they tend to hang around, ready to ‘help you out’ in case you should need it.

Needless to say, you should never accept help at the ATM – not even if the person seems genuinely nice and helpful. The risk is way too high and you’re better off going straight to the bank for help instead.

A classic way of targeting you while you’re fumbling around at the ATM, sending out more tourist-vibes than a middle-aged German man in sandals and a sun hat, is to work in pairs.

One will stand behind you and make a note of your PIN while the other one will offer you some friendly help.

This is, of course, just to snatch your card so fast you simply assume the machine ate it – and, by the time you call the bank to block your card, they’ve already withdrawn your cash at the ATM around the corner.

Look smart, pretend like you know what you’re doing, and keep a strict eye on your belongings at all times. It’s not the end of the world if something like this should happen, but it’s definitely annoying and highly avoidable.

Have some backup funds ready – Since you never know if you should lose your belongings, if they get stolen, or if you suddenly need to get back home ASAP, it’s a good idea to have a decent amount of backup cash ready at hand. Even if you don’t plan on using it, the money will give you a sense of comfort and confidence while trotting the globe on your own.

If this is impossible, you should at least try to have a plan B and even a plan C up your sleeve. Find a few options online in terms of short-term loans to help you out if you’re in a pinch; even if you’ll never need it, this kind of backup gives you the confidence you need when traveling.

Have a look at this option, for example, which offers no credit check loans online instant approval so that you’re able to get home instantly if the situation should call for it. That way, you don’t have to call your friends and family for a short-term loan and can stay independent no matter what.

Know when to ask for help – Finally, one of the most important things you can do for yourself while traveling is to trust your gut feeling. If someone feels off or if you don’t feel safe, in general, approach a member of the staff wherever you are for help.

When it comes to judging people’s character, your instinct tends to get things right. Don’t stay in the dorm if you and a creepy someone are the only ones staying there, and keep in mind that it’s way better to be a bit too cautious than to end up in a dangerous situation.

Look after yourself, ask the staff for help if you think you need it, and trust your gut feeling no matter what.

Alternative Getaways for the Adventurous

When it comes to travel, some people can’t think of anything better than a week or two of uninterrupted sunbathing and relaxation. However, you should also bear in mind that this isn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea and consequently isn’t the way that all of us may want to vacation. Some of us want to get up and be active. We want to explore, see new things, and rustle up some awe inspiring experiences to talk about back home. We want to see the world beyond our doorstep and revel in new landscapes. If this sounds like you, here are some ideas for alternative getaways that should tick all of your boxes!

Adventure Challenges – If you’re feeling active, you should consider taking on Global Adventure Challenges. This will allow you to carry out some sort of challenge overseas at the same time as raising money for a chosen charity through your pursuits. Not only will you benefit yourself, but you will benefit the wider world too! You could trek through national parks or hike up a mountain. You could ride a snowmobile across white expanses of ice and snow. You could snorkel through warm waters, encountering coral, turtles, and other forms of sea life. The possibilities are endless, and each experience will leave you feeling well rewarded!

Wildlife Encounters – When you head overseas you can encounter new cultures, landscapes, languages, and cuisines that you have never come close to before. But something that tends to really catch people’s attention when away from home is local wildlife. You get used to a certain set of native animals where you live and any creature outside of these species is likely to be a real novelty. Now, it’s extremely important that if you do things in the right way if  you want to encounter unfamiliar species. It is cruel to attend zoos, captive safari parks, or resorts that keep whales, dolphins, seals, and other sea life in tanks. Attractions such as circuses with animals, Tiger Temples, elephant rides, and camel rides should also be avoided. Why? Because these animals have been taken from their natural habitats and forced into submission by people. They should not be carrying out tricks or spend their lives cooped up solely for the purpose of our entertainment. Instead, seek out animals in their wild habitats. Whenever doing so, make sure to use a reliable and ethical tour guide who can also guarantee your safety. Consider snorkelling or diving, whale watching at sea, or genuine safaris.

These are just a couple of ideas to get your imagination going. There are plenty more options out there. So, do your research, get booked up, and pack appropriately! A swimsuit and pair of flips flops might not quite cut it for this exciting trip!

Halloween in Wichita

If you haven’t yet been looking for an online tutorial to give your pumpkin carving a new style this year, there’s still plenty of time to make the most of Halloween. In fact, if you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary – or if you’re worried that your neighborhood can’t cope with your ghost and zombie costumes –, you might want to plan a Halloween trip out of town. Indeed, there are plenty of exciting ‘haunted’ spots all over the USA. It’s not uncommon for last minute holidaymakers to book a tour of the most haunted sites in North America around Halloween time. However, if you want to feel the thrill, you might want to stay away from crowded sites – such as the Eastern State Penitentiary of Philadelphia which receives several thousands of visitors every year, for instance. Instead, try to luck in lesser-known sites that are guaranteed to give you all the fear factor you need! Wichita is a top choice if you happen to be around Kansas.

Getting there – The  easiest way to get to Wichita is to fly to the Dwight D. Eisenhower airport, which is the largest airport in Kansas. You’d better be looking for a hotel near the Wichita Airport, so that you can leave your bag before heading to town. What do you need to pack? A good camera – Wichita offers plenty of haunted sites you want to capture –, a warm jumper for outdoor explorations, and maybe your best zombie costumes for the night of Halloween! If you choose to come by road, you can plan a bit of a scenic journey by taking the Route 66 which goes through Kansas. However, if you’re driving to Wichita, do plan a few days off to make the most of the trip!  

What to do? – Wichita is one of those towns that have many locations which are genuinely haunted – or rumored to be so, which is practically the same thing when you’re walking around in your best Halloween gear! However, if this is a little more adventurous than you’d like, you can find plenty of safe, scary houses and sites in town. The Pumpkins at the Park attraction is located in the wildlife park and takes you on a haunted maze alongside some of the scariest creatures of the park. If you prefer more diversity in your frightening evening, try the Wicked Island attractions. The Wicked Island Haunted Forest takes you through a path of mutants, clowns, spiders, and snakes. If you love to combine fear and brains, you should try their horror-themed escape room where you have 30 minutes to solve the puzzle and escape. Finally, conclude your day out with a sweet pumpkin treat to recharge your batteries – you’ll need it after all those emotions! Try one of the delicious pumpkin donuts from the Donut Whole and Hurts Donut. Want something more grown-up? Head to the Brewing Company to taste the Yumpkin Pumpkin Ale! Many reports they’ve seen real ghosts after their first pint!

For a little bit of scary fun this Halloween, Wichita offers the perfect balance of real haunted sites, haunted attractions and plenty of yummy pumpkinissimo treats to keep you going. For anyone in Kansas or around, it’s the perfect ground to stretch your ghost spandex.

From Dawn To Dusk: Some Of The Highlights Of Arizona

As home to some of the most beautiful sights in the United States, Arizona has to be one of the visual feasts of anybody’s road trip, and if you are traversing the states, the Grand Canyon state needs to be one of the highlights of your journeys. But what actually is there for those on their travels that are looking for a combination of culture and fantastic sites?

El Tovar Dining Room – Located in the National Park South Rim, this eatery is classic American dining at its best! Be sure to reserve your table to get the best seats in the house, or if you’ve spent a long day hiking across the trails, you could relax in the cocktail lounge for some after dinner drinks.

The Walnut Canyon National Monument – If you head into the city of Flagstaff, you will see these dwellings that date back to the pre-Columbian era. And if you are looking for the right hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona, The Comfort Inn is one of many great places to put your feet up and contemplate the wondrous sites you’ve seen that day. The Walnut Canyon was home to a village of cliff dwellers, and if you go there during the winter months, you will see the area white with snow, providing quite a contrast to what the typical image of Arizona is.

Heard Museum – In Phoenix, this museum shows the vast history of the American Indian tribes in the Southwest. As far as an insight into the natives of hundreds of years ago, this museum provides an education for every single one of us, detailed via various films, art galleries, and spirit dolls, known as Hopi Kachinas. In addition to this, there are various events posted throughout the year, such as Indian fares or even competitions! As far as an educational experience is concerned, this museum is actually one of the best overall in the whole of the United States!

The Lowell Observatory – If you head down to Flagstaff on a clear night, you should swing by the observatory, and see the Cosmos for yourself! This landmark is famous for the first sighting of Pluto back in 1930. And, since 1894, people have had the opportunity to look at the universe through various telescopes, including the 1896 Clark Telescope.

Musical Instrument Museum – While there are millions of things to do in Phoenix, get yourself to the greater Phoenix area and have a musical education unlike anywhere else! Throughout these five galleries, you will experience the 200 countries and territories musical heritage, from Hawaiian ukuleles to thumb pianos from Uganda, here is where music comes to life, especially with wireless recordings of long-forgotten relics of the musical past you can listen to via headphone, but if you are looking for something a little more “contemporary”, check out the Alice Cooper display!

Not just a state of sweeping canyons, Arizona is, of course, home to many national parks, but this is scratching the surface of what Arizona has to offer.

Have an Amazing Time in North Carolina

There are so many things to do in North Carolina, it would be hard not to have an amazing time while you are there. Whether you are planning a weekend break or a longer vacation, there is no shortage of things to do to suit all ages and interests.

Visit Wilmington – Wilmington is a popular destination because it has something for everyone. You can enjoy live music, visit art exhibitions, stroll along the pedestrian-friendly Riverwalk, which is lined with shops and cafes, or hop aboard a water taxi to the famous World War II Battleship North Carolina. There are watersports, nightlife, tram rides and a whole host of other things waiting for you in Wilmington. Comfort Inn hotel in Wilmington, North Carolina is a great base to stay when you want to enjoy the pleasures of this wonderful city. You’ll never have to go too far for anything.

Biltmore Estate, Ashville – George Washington Vanderbilt was the developer of this estate, which is America’s largest home. There are 8,000 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains to explore. The house is still owned privately by his descendants. There are guided tours, which take about 2 hours and there are cafes and restaurants for you to enjoy fine cuisine.

North Carolina Aquarium – The North Carolina Aquarium gives you the chance to explore a unique environment watching river otters and sharks or touching stingrays as you enjoy your vacation. A rainy day, or if you have had too much sunshine, is the perfect opportunity to visit one of the three locations at Fort Fisher, Pine Knoll Shores, or Manteo. In fact, why not visit all three to enjoy the experience to the full.

Dead Broke Farm – Located in Raleigh, Dead Broke Farm has 110 acres of land with over 10 miles of wooded trails.  Horse riding, pony riding and camping are just some of the things on offer at what can be a very exciting experience for anyone.

The North Carolina State Capital – Raleigh is the North Carolina State Capital and is a place that is well worth a visit. From the history of the city to the latest technological innovation, you will find it all in Raleigh. Live music, festivals and visual arts are all part of life here. There are history museums, science museums, beer gardens, concerts and many other things to do in Raleigh. You can even visit the ballet, a chocolate factory or treat yourself to a spa day. The eateries cater for every type of taste imaginable, and if you are vegetarian, vegan or want Asian food, you will have no problem in finding the highest quality cuisine.

 

Lots More Places In North Carolina – North Carolina covers a very large area, and mentioned here is nowhere near all the amazing places to visit or activities to take part in. There is the Nascar Hall of Fame, Pullen Park, North Carolina Zoo, the Raleigh Greenway Stadium,  Linville Falls, Marble Kids Museum and a whole range of other fun things to do.

I may have only mentioned a few but the one thing we can be sure of is that you will have an amazing time in North Carolina if you give it a chance!

Planning a US Road Trip

Chances are that at some point in your travels you’ve heard that the journey counts for a lot more than the destination. This is particularly poignant when you decide to get from A to B through an extended road trip! Not only will you end up in a brilliant end location, but you will make all sorts of memories, see all sorts of sites, and witness all sorts of landscapes along the way. Now, the world is your oyster when it comes to driving, but the USA holds some of the most iconic road trip routes in the world. Here are some places that you might want to pass through on the way!

Route 66 – As soon as “road trip” is brought up in conversation, there tends to be one road in particular that springs to people’s minds, no matter where they live in the world – Route 66. This highway was one of the first in the US system and has garnered various nicknames over the years, including the “Will Rogers Highway”, the “Main Street of America”, and the “Mother Road”. It traverses almost 4000 kilometres of terrain and passes through the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois. So, there are plenty of world-renowned places to visit as you travel along it if you so choose. This is, of course, pretty intense and you’re going to have to make a whole lot of stop offs on the way. So, make sure to book up comfortable accommodation en route. Consider hotel rooms in Lake Jackson, Texas. This will give you a relaxing break away from the wheel and a chance to take in some of the destinations you’re passing through.

Pacific Coast Highway – The Pacific Coast Highway runs from San Diego to San Francisco. Officially known as “State Route 1”, this route spans the California coastline, giving you plenty of opportunities to visit The Golden State. The majority of the state has a Mediterranean style climate, and draws in visitors with its warm and dry summers and average temperature of 21 degrees Celsius and above. The hottest months are June, July, and August, so if you arrange your road trip during this time, try to make sure you’re driving a convertible or a vehicle with a seriously impressive air conditioning system. Take a break in San Francisco. San Francisco lies on the East Coast of California and is host to endless wonderful sights, from the world renowned structure of the Golden Gate Bridge to Alcatraz Island, one of the world’s most notoriously inescapable prisons. If you plan to visit the big sights in San Fran, make sure to book tickets well in advance, as demand is high and you don’t want to be left waiting in huge queues during your trip.

These are just two different routes that you can take on your all American road trip, but they are extremely popular for good reason. They give you plenty to see and do, no matter when you decide to visit!

Should You Get Out On The Road During Your Next Trip?

When it comes to traveling, there are so many different options that you can consider. You have the ideal chance to see somewhere different, but yet so many people will travel somewhere and then stay close to resort or within the location they have chosen. Leaving so much unseen and not experienced. This is when a road trip or at least hiring a car while away can give you that flexibility. So I thought I would share with you some of the reasons why I think getting out and about on the road, either as your actual holiday, or as part of your holiday, is easy to do.

You have more space for all of your things – Hiring  a car, or using your own for a road trip, means that you can essentially pack up the boot with everything you need. If you are hiring a car for a day trip it gives you that flexibility of taking everything you need without ensuring you can carry it or fit it in the bag, meaning you could enjoy your day better. If you are going on a road trip it allows you to take up things that perhaps you couldn’t fit in a carry on. Maybe you want to take your tripod for your camera so you can capture amazing shots or video footage. The boot allows you to take all of those things you might struggle to do on a plane.

You get to see some wonderful sights from the road – On a road trip, you can plan it so you specifically take certain routes to your end destination. With a bit of research you are bound to find things to do and other places to see along the way. A fitted roof rack can give you extra storage for things like foldaway chairs and fitting an awning, which you can view here, means that you could park up and enjoy your surroundings while being protected from the sun or rain. You could follow the same strategy when it comes to your day trip or period of time when you hire a car, enabling you to see more of the location you have visited.

It can make traveling much easier and less stressful – If you tend to be a bit of a worrier, then getting on a plane, making flight times and perhaps change overs can often mean that you are stressed before you get away. A car and road trip could be an easier and stress free way to travel as you can take it at your own pace. You could then factor in as many breaks as you think are needed to help you start off your holiday just the way you are meant to.

It is more affordable than you think – Finally, a road trip could be an affordable holiday option. It gives you the chance to see different places and take up accommodation such as camping or local airBnB’s. Hiring a car as part of your ongoing vacation is actually cheaper than you would think, you don’t necessarily need a big car for small day trips, which could bring the price down considerably.

I hope that this has inspired you to consider getting out on the road during your next trip.

Charming Costa Nova and Aveiro, Portugal

Portugal’s coastal towns like Lagos and Aveiro are known for the summer vibes – warm breezes, lapping waves and intense sunshine. This is when most people would go; but we are not most people! We got the cold winds, crashing waves and moments of sun mixed with winter clouds. Nonetheless, just as with the southern coastline and towns of Portugal, we found our way around and saw a quieter side of the summer hotspots in the middle of winter.

The photo above is not photoshopped. I did not digital enhance this photo by taking tourists strolling along out of the shot. There was no one around. Lest you think the day was blustery and cold, it wasn’t. It was, as you can see, a perfectly sunny and perfectly mild brisk winter day. The weather was perfect in my opinion. We took photos, looked at the waterfront on the “marsh” or intercoastal side of the barrier island and then drove to the beach.

The beach was just as quiet, but also just as beautiful. While the temperatures were too cold for me to don a bathing suit, they were great for a walk in the sand.

Having our fill of salty air and breezes, we headed inland a few minutes. Aveiro is a quick drive over the bridge and easily visible on your drive out to Costa Nova. Aveiro is not a bustling city like Lisbon or Porto, rather a larger town with plenty to see and do but with fewer traffic jams and stop lights. There was a bit of a frenetic energy the day we visited, but I attribute the buzz to the Christmas season.

The cobblestone streets, colorful tiled walls and intricate architecture are par for the course when it comes to Portugal cities, or European cities for that matter. But there is one feature that makes this city almost uniquely its own – boats. But, not just any boats – gondolas. Plus, to make it better, these gondolas move site seers through the city via canals. It’s like a little Venice, Italy.

Aveiro and Costa Nova are easy day trips from Porto – only an hour or so drive by car. Once there your experience will depend on the season. Both towns are very busy and alive during the warmer summer months. However, we found the energy or Aveiro mixed with the almost eerie quiet of Costa Nova in the winter months the perfect recipe for a great day in Portugal.