Archive | April 2015

Nepal…

Isn’t a place that I’d like to be at the moment in the wake of what happened at the weekend.

The news footage shown on the BBC here in the UK has shown some of the after effects in cities and at Everest Base Camp and it’s good to see that countries, governments, non-government organisations and companies have reacted quickly as the effects have become known.

It’s a shame then that some people have been posting messages on forums about how their travel plans have been messed up because of the earthquake instead of thinking about what’s happened and how it affects the people, the families of those who have lost family members, relatives, friends, work colleagues plus the state of play in places, the infrastructure and the economy of the country.

One suspects that the posters should be thinking about others rather than themselves and pondering what it’s like in the places which have  been affected by the quake and aftershocks that haven’t been accessed by rescue & medical teams or by camera crews…

More ways and means…

If you don’t need a smartphone, don’t have one!

I got a new phone last week and opted for a basic talk/text/basic internet/email model with the same amount of minutes, unlimited text and a 500mb ceiling for internet usage for £2 per month less than I was paying on the old contract.

Savings over the length of the contract? Around £48…

I don’t send picture messages via phone or send messages with emoticons either, so save more money that way!

Phone does have a camera that could come in useful when out and about, especially as it has a flash unit and the phone has Bluetooth.

The new phone is still going to stay at home on most trips though… exceptions may be made when travelling in countries that have no roaming charges on the 3 network.

Salesman did try to talk us into considering an iPad for life on the move.

We resisted as we’ve looked at iPads from the time they were introduced and we’re still not tempted to dive in and buy one.

The subject of tablets came up again over the weekend though thanks to a madcap idea we had that’s being worked on. May have to investigate further to see whether it’s a possibility if or when the madcap idea comes off!

On the subject of other money savings to help fund travel – one store’s loyalty card use started a chain of vouchers that had me paying out £4.31 for around £16.57 worth of food items last week.

Use of card and two vouchers (£1 off a £5 purchase & £5 off any purchase) plus a selection of items from the reductions fridge, no longer stocked shelf and the coffee promotion helped along the way!

Complete meal for two including a rare sweet course plus a high end can of coffee and a rather large bar of Cadbury’s chocolate went down rather well for some reason… over two nights of course!

We also use loyalty cards as and when the providers make us an offer we can’t refuse – like a decent reduction on a £20/£30 shop voucher deal when we’re buying the food in for the month. We still check Lidl prices first…

Check on the costs of accommodation for different times of the year and as to whether there’s any offers available should you stay on longer.

Had this on campsites here in the UK and it’s come up a few times on both Late Rooms over here and on Booking.com for places in warmer climes.

Also check out what the rates are for Hostelling International affiliated hostels.

We’ve found room rates that were cheaper in these hostels (especially if you opt for shared facilities rather than en-suite ones). Mind you, we’re still trying to find the English translation button on at least one European HI affiliate organisation – if the Portuguese HI affiliate can do it, anyone can!

There’s also the potential for a reduction on the overnight charges abroad too if you’re a member of your home country hostelling association (i.e. YHA here in the UK).

A YHA membership card also gives you reduced price kit at various outdoor stores here in the UK too – may only be 10% off full price items, but hey, reduced prices mean more money for your trip!

Buy any clothing out of season if you can – colours and sizes may be limited, but if the brand’s a good one, the item should last you a while.

Select travel clothing and equipment that’s multi-functional.

Can it be used for activities as well as a night out?

Or as part of a layering system when the temperatures drop?

Do the shoes or sandals cut it on the trail as well as in town?

And can your travel towel be used as a sarong as well as a towel and as a means to squeeze excess water out of your travel clothing if you’re washing and wearing stuff as you go along?

Do you eat and drink at places on the main tourist drag?

Or do you go off centre in search of the places that the locals use which have set menus or meal of the day offers?

Do you go for coffee at a local place?

Or a chain?

Do you buy a bottle of water in a bar?

Or in a supermarket?

And if you buy a bottle of wine, can you get the ruddy bottle open when you get back to your digs?

Discount store bottle openers don’t always work as we found out one night in Sintra.

We called it The Curse Of The Cork Bottle Stopper Night…

Can you book direct with the accommodation?

Or do you have to go through a middleman website to do the booking?

Are you willing to wing it when you’re in country?

Or do you want everything sewn up well in advance with no room for manoevures?

Do you really need to book a taxi in advance?

Or do you just roll the dice?

There will be more, oh yes, there will be more!

Ways and means…

A poster on Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree Forum has just asked how one saves up for travelling.

Some of what follows was posted as a reply – and yes, it’s UK orientated, but there’s a couple of tips that could be followed in local equivalents in other countries…

Shop at Lidl, make a good shopping list out before shopping as a means of avoiding extra purchases.

Check out the websites of food stores in your area to see what reductions or offers are in place (i.e. the cider that Caroline likes is between £2 and £2.39 a bottle in some stores – it’s currently £1.50 in Tesco until next week).

Shop at other food stores late afternoon/end of day to get any food bargains.

Get a number 4 haircut every so often to avoid paying out for a haircut a month (works well for blokes, or someone who is going for the Sinead o’Connor look!),

Drive a small 1.2 litre hatchback.

Go to cinemas that have a loyalty card and reduced prices 2.5 days a week or buy insurance from friends of Meerkats to get 2 for 1 with Meerkat Movies – Simples!

I had a student card until I hit 40 (student union split from the UK’s NUS, which meant that a few place which took the card and gave discounts no longer did). Good for reduced price cinema tickets, eating out in other colleges and getting into classical concerts, salsa clubs etc.

Camp wherever possible on summer trips here in the UK and buy food to cook on the site in local farm shops, site shops or supermarkets. Eat out as a treat!

Travel hand luggage only so bag in the hold or bag in the trunk charges in cabs.

Buy travel clothing or kit in the sales.

Don’t carry much tech when travelling – charged Kindle and a digital compact camera plus charger is usually my lot.

Kindle gets loaded with classic books before the trip – the ones that are usually free!

Or new books that cost 99p or thereabouts.

Don’t take a phone whilst away, not even a talk and text one.

So no roaming charges and work/other pains in the neck can’t bother you either when on shorter trips

Use photocopies of info on destinations or cannibalised guide books.

Use lobby computers at hotels or hostels.

Use buses and trains and don’t hire cars to get around.

Try wherever possible to eat out on deals or what can be bought in the local supermarket/shop/cabin/trolley.

Lay off the booze, especially in Norway!

I’ll add more over the next few days….

One to watch?

We’re hearing on the grapevine that there’s a new idea coming along in the world of travel clothing.

Creases drop out with one shake, the fabric doesn’t stain when red wine, curry or chilli sauce comes into contact with it and last but not least, it never needs washing because there are never any residual odours after wearing the garments.

A step in the right direction for lightweight travellers?

Could be – it would effective mean that for some travellers, all you need to do is have one outfit and wear it every day!

Any drawbacks? None that I can see!

More could break on this after noon BST today in the UK…

And it did, because yes, it’s April Fool’s Day!