4th September, 10:10
Ok, can we just take a minute to be baffled at HOW IT’S SEPTEMBER ALREADY!? This summer really has been one of the quickest yet, and I can safely say we’re now into the autumnal sunshine. Aww.
Anyway, as I’m sure you’ve seen, I went away for a 6 week holiday this year (which already seems like a lifetime ago) to Bali, Malaysia and Thailand. It was my first long-haul, travelling holiday and was an absolutely amazing experience! So, if you’re planning your next vacay, interested in doing so, or just enjoy my blogs (yay), I’ve complied a list of helpful travelling tips and tricks based on my own experiences to help you along the way. Do you have any of your own to add? If so, leave them in the comments below!
1. Research, research, research
This might seem like an obvious one, but the first hotel/flight you’ve come across online probably is not the cheapest or best for you. I like to really spend some time looking into the exact area I’m going, what I want to be close to, the reviews etc of all places I’m planning on going and I find this truly helps me make the best decision. Some great comparison and informative sites are Skyscanner, TripAdvisor and Kayak.
2. Invest in a travel debit/credit card
Honestly these are SO much more convenient than carrying around wads of cash, particularly if you’re visiting multiple countries with multiple currencies! You can get these though many banks, though the best deal I found was through Revolout. The exchange rate keeps up-to-date automatically for you so you’re always getting the best rate, and the basic account is FREE!
3. Avoid airport buys
Everything at the airport is a lot more expensive, from water to souvenirs! Try and have a meal before you get there to save money, and take a refillable water bottle to fill at a water fountain rather than spending £5 on a bottle there.
4. If you’re long-hauling, invest in a neck pillow
God, a good neck pillow is literally incredible. Not even just for flights, for life. Some airlines will provide you one but it’s often a bit flimsey, so don’t rely on it. Also when I was away, if we ever stayed somewhere with pillows I really didn’t get on with, I could whack out the neck pillow and get my money’s worth.
5. Do not book activities/tours over TripAdvisor
I was very tempted to before we went away, as I was afraid activities like the elephant sanctuary visit would get super booked up. But I am very glad we didn’t. Every single place we went, street vendors, hotels and local organisations were offering the very same tours/activities as advertised on TripAdvisor for a much, MUCH cheaper price. So wait it out – it’ll be worth it!
6. Keep an eye out for Grab/Uber/Bluebird
Sometimes having a local independent driver is a great experience, and there’s more freedom to make different stops/see more sights if you’re wanting to. However, if you’re looking at getting from A to B, find out if Grab/Uber etc operate in the area and book a taxi with them. Not only are they cheaper, but you can set up an app so that you can pay for your ride via card, saving the need to get cash out.
7. Pens, pens, pens
I had no idea that many countries require you to fill out a customs form before entering the country – often, these are given to you on the plane. It saves a lot of time and grovelling if you bring your own pen to complete these, as there’s often a long waiting time to borrow the flight attendant’s!
8. Pack properly
I’m rubbish at this generally, but I do make an effort to pack as cleverly as possible. Packing cubes are amazing as they help you differentiate different items as well as what needs washing and what’s clean, so I’d recommend those. Pack things you know you can wear more than once, shoes you are confident are comfy, and, as hot as it’s forecast to be, at least ONE jacket/jumper! Also, if you’re hopping between a few different places, don’t unpack all of your things in every hotel. It might make it look homey but it’s super annoying having to repack constantly!
9. Eat local food
Food local to the place you are will always be the cheapest and most delicious. Push the boat out and try something unusual – you’ll probably only be here the once, and you can eat a burger any time!
10. If you want a bargain…
- Turn cookies off when you look for holidays
- Consider flying at more unconventional times
- Check out sites such as Expedia and Holiday Pirates for good package deals
- Google and use relevant discount codes
- Check the same hotel/flight on multiple sites: they won’t all be the same cost