Top Tip Tuesday – First aid kits

I noticed the other day how long it’s been since I last wrote my blog – wow, how time flies! And sadly I can’t even say that I have been using the time to travel – I have not managed to venture far outside of London so far this year. But that all changes tomorrow, as we leave for a week of sunshine in Montenegro!

Until I can put together some thoughts on my holiday, I thought I would update the blog with another Top Tip Tuesday.

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I was reminded of this tip just the other day when I was reminiscing about travelling with my sister back in 2004. At the end of our year around the world we found ourselves on a small island in Fiji, lazing in hammocks, eating fresh fish and sleeping in man-made huts.

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The size of the spiders was something I had not been prepared for – some were the span of dinner plates and had huge yellow and black stripes. Trying to sleep in a hut with a thatched roof and the sound of scuttling will test even the hardiest of sleepers!

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Finally – this is where the first aid kit tip comes in!

Simply – take one and pack it to the brim with safety pins, miniature sticky tape, plasters, and anything else that will help secure one thing to another. Because you’re highly likely to need it for emergencies that are not of the first-aid kind!

In Fiji, I spent a good 30 minutes sticking, pinning, and tying closed the holes in the mosquito net so that spiders and bugs couldn’t get inside. My sister (someone who can fall asleep instantly) thought I was insane but it was the only way I could close my eyes with confidence!

A standard first aid kit usually contains:

  • plasters – in a variety of shapes and sizes
  • sticky tape
  • gauze bandages – different sizes
  • safety pins
  • tweezers
  • scissors
  • alcohol cleansing gel
  • painkillers – like paracetamol
  • antihistamines
  • antiseptic cream
  • fluid replacement powders – for upset stomachs

Just remember, those big spiders and small stomach upsets are well worth it when you get to experience the best sunsets you’ve ever seen in your life!

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Until next time travellers!

 

Top Tip Tuesday – Learn the lingo!

Time for another Top Tip on a Tuesday – Why not gain a new skill and learn a language?

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When travelling abroad it is really important to immerse yourself into everything and the best way to do that is to try to learn the local language. In some cases this is much easier than others – Catalan will not come easy to many people! But if you can learn the local lingo, I guarantee it will enhance your experience ten-fold!

Learn before you go

For many people, going on a long trip involves a lot of planning and saving of money, for many months beforehand. So why not use that time to also get a few language lessons in? You could try a local night school or even check out online selling websites like Gumtree (in the UK) or Craigslist, where local people might be offering their linguistic services.

Alternatively you can buy an online/CD based language course, like Rosetta Stone. They provide you with discs of courses to work your way through, with tests to complete in order to advance further. They even give you a headset which works through voice recognition, so that you can practice pronouncing each word or phrase.

Happy locals

The reaction you get from local people when you speak their language is one of the most uplifting you will experience. Several times in South America I engaged in conversation with locals and they were so enthusiastic!

You’ll find people are often more helpful and kind too – they stop viewing you as a wealthy tourist and instead see you as someone who has taken the time to learn to converse with them.

School time

If you don’t have the chance to learn before you go, you can always stop at a school while you’re on your trip. This is obviously more viable an option for people on long trips! Many places will have a local school who will open up time for travellers to stop in and do a few classes.

I did this in a small town in Bolivia for a week – attending classes in a local children’s school, using spare classrooms. The lady teaching us was very patient and her efforts were rewarded when we found ourselves at the local market throwing out Spanish phrases left, right and centre!

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In our Bolivian school

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With our teacher Gavi

So get yourself prepared for those travels and learn the lingo! 

Top Tip Tuesday – Ride the local bus

It’s been a while since I last wrote – but it’s that time! Here’s another Top Tip on a Tuesday!

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Today’s top tip – Ride the local bus

Having been from large scary cities to small back-water villages in all manner of countries, this is one of the best pieces of advice I can give to anyone finding their way around a new place.

Oh my, it’s cheap!

What with long-haul air fares, connecting flights, and all-night coach trips, travellers are used to parting with lots of cash in order to get to their destination. Local buses are often the most inexpensive method of travel that you will encounter on a trip – so make the most of it.

In Brazil I travelled on the bus to the Corcovado (hill with the Christ the Redeemer statue on top) for less than 50p, whereas other tourists had paid up to £30 for taxis across Rio. Just remember to have small change to hand, as a bus driver in any country will not appreciate breaking large notes!

Learn a little

It doesn’t matter if the place you’re visiting has the newest, most advanced subway system in the world – you won’t learn anything about where you are if you’re travelling underground! Get above ground and ride with the locals.

Just sitting on buses can wield all kinds of treasures, like listening to conversations in the local language (being subtle of course, not eavesdropping). Watch out of the window to see if you pass anything of interest, like markets, shops, or places of historical interest. You may see something that is not in the guidebook!

Get it wrong

At some point you may go wrong in your quest to reach a destination – but unless you’re on a schedule, don’t panic! Bus routes work in the opposite direction too, so just hop off and get one going back the other way. Going wrong often results in happy accidents and finding unusual places you never meant to be!

If you really don’t have a clue where you are, be brave and try the local lingo. In Argentina I used extremely dicey Spanish on a bus driver and he was the sweetest man in the world, stopping especially for me and waving me to the front of the bus, then smiling and waving goodbye. Giving it a try almost always goes down well!

Like my tip? Got a good local bus story? Let me know your thoughts! 

Top Tip Tuesday

It’s Tuesday, so I thought ‘why not impart some knowledge that could help travellers and week-enders alike’?

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Today’s Top Tip – You Don’t Need to take the Kitchen Sink! 

It is so tempting when you’re travelling to pack hundreds of bits of clothing and an extra pair of every type of shoe…..just in case! Don’t fall foul of the most typical traveller mistake.

1. Write a list

Sounds incredibly obvious but when you see all those items on paper and the list is really long, it means your bag will be really heavy as a result! Be ruthless with the list and it’ll save you re-packing time later.

2. Roll pack

Rolling clothes instead of folding and stacking saves SO much space – honestly, try it! Also, stuffing underwear, swimsuits and other smaller items into shoes save oodles of room!

3. Don’t double up

You know that top you love that you have in three different colours? You probably don’t need all three! And those jeans you have in boot leg, skinny and flare style? You don’t need all of those either! This is especially important if you’re backpacking because most backpackers have foregone style in favour of no backache – don’t lumber yourself with multiples, shed the extras!

4. Buy it or bin it! 

This tip is a spin-off of the previous tip – people can start hyperventilating at the thought of what might be happen if you leave something behind. In reality, you can buy almost anything you need, anywhere in the world – it’s called Visa! Also, if you’re on a long trip you’ll find that you shed things as you go. Don’t be afraid to leave old items behind and gain new ones along the way.

5. Accessorised up to the eyeballs

No I am not talking about jewellery and handbags! These days, shops are continually spinning a line on all of the gadgets you can buy that will make your travels that much easier. Don’t get suckered in! Some are genuinely useful (e.g. drawstring, waterproof bags for dirty or wet clothes) but others are just space fillers and money takers! In many instances you can use alternatives or live without (e.g. travel cushions, where you can happily use a rolled up jumper or go without!). Ask yourself if you really need it before parting with your hard-earned cash!

Do you have any tips of your own? Disagree with any of mine? I love a debate so feel free to comment!