Travel with a mate http://www.travelwithamate.com Travel advice, destinations and reviews from a family of travel addicts. Wed, 22 Mar 2017 07:44:13 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 6 tips for planning a trip to London http://www.travelwithamate.com/6-tips-planning-trip-london/ Wed, 22 Mar 2017 07:44:13 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31162 London, one of the most populous cities of England, is also the capital of the country and is extremely popular among the visitors from across the work. A 21st century city, London is  contemporarily designed cities which has its roots in the Roman times. With London Eye and Big Ben, London has established itself as ...

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London, one of the most populous cities of England, is also the capital of the country and is extremely popular among the visitors from across the work. A 21st century city, London is  contemporarily designed cities which has its roots in the Roman times. With London Eye and Big Ben, London has established itself as a prominent city on the global map.

If you are planning a trip to London, and are little apprehensive about the visit, about how would you manage in this new city and what vital points you need to consider. So, here are 6 important points which you must consider before you visit London.

Thursdays are the New Fridays In London

On the Thursday evenings, all the Londoners are all set to enjoy and let off some serious steam. In London, the Thursday nights are the perfect time of the week to go out. Most of the pubs, bars and restaurants are open till midnight, and are filled with the locals flaunting an amazing atmosphere.

Book an Airport Taxi Service

While arriving in a new city like London, one needs to plan the to the hotel, in order to avoid any hassles in finding an appropriate taxi service from the airport. If you are wondering about where you can book a reliable airport taxi service for the airport transfers, then check this link. From here, you can easily make online bookings at highly cost-effective prices.

Be Ready For the Pesky 12.5% Service Charge

If you are not aware with the fact, then, you must know that most of the restaurants add an additional service charge of 12.5% to your final bill. While it is more common in restaurants, but some bars also add this charge to your drinks bill.

Oxford Street is Not the Only Shopping Destination

For shopaholics, London is no less than a shopping heaven, here they can find any upmarket brand and some of the most inimitable stuff. While many visitors straightway head to the Oxford street, but its way too much crowded on Saturdays. There are many other streets, such as Regent Street, Westfield Shopping Centre, The Kings Road, Covent Garden where you can buy many good things.

Take the Bus

The red bus in London is one of the most popular rides in the city, and with cheaper tickets and availability of seats most of the time, it is certainly a better option when compared to the tube. Wherever you are in London, the nearest bus stop will never be more than 5 minutes walk away from that point.

Take Restaurant Recommendations from the Locals

Instead of using the internet every time to get information about the city, it is wise to ask the locals. No one can give you better advice and opinions as the locals of the city can, especially when it comes to food and eateries. So, always ask the locals for the restaurant recommendations.

The aforementioned points will certainly help you out with a lot of things when you visit London, the capital city of England.

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Top Tips and Tech to Smooth Your Path to Success http://www.travelwithamate.com/top-tips-tech-smooth-path-success/ Tue, 21 Mar 2017 14:35:49 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31158 Whether long-term traveling around the world or taking shorter, more frequent trips, it’s estimated over 32,000,000 people travelled overseas from the US alone in 2015. With traveling consistently on the rise with more and more people choosing to branch out and explore new places, one specific activity has also increased in popularity too: travel writing. ...

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Whether long-term traveling around the world or taking shorter, more frequent trips, it’s estimated over 32,000,000 people travelled overseas from the US alone in 2015. With traveling consistently on the rise with more and more people choosing to branch out and explore new places, one specific activity has also increased in popularity too: travel writing.

Writing about travel experiences is a concept many choose to try out, simply because it allows you to re-live your experience and share it with other like-minded people. However, with the world of blogging being more saturated than ever before, it can be difficult to achieve success with travel writing. But, if you’re truly passionate and determined to make your mark in the travel writing world, here are a few tips and useful apps you can use to boost your path to success.

Choose the right locations

As with any form of writing, the content must be engaging and provide value to the reader. So, establish the direction you want your writing to go, and select locations and topics based on that. Then, once you’ve built up some sort of following, go ahead and ask your readers which places they’d like to learn about next!

Staying consistent is essential when trying to make it as a travel writer, and choosing locations that have some sort of theme or trend to them is sure to give you a unique voice your readers will want to hear.

Alarm Clock for Me

When travel writing, it’s crucial to make the most of every single place you visit. If you get lazy and find yourself missing out on important activities or sight-seeing opportunities, your content will suffer.

To counteract this and ensure you’re always refreshed and ready to throw yourself into the experience, Alarm Clock for Me is a great app to help regulate and maintain the best possible sleeping pattern for your system. Available right now on Google Play, this app features an innovative sleep timer that plays white noise or relaxing music to efficiently lull you to sleep. So, if you’re still buzzing from the day’s activities but know you need to wake up bright and early, this feature is a sure-fire method for inducing relaxation and sleep.

Instagram

By far one of the most popular apps of our generation, Instagram has taken photo sharing to a whole new level. An essential part of travel writing is to have amazing photos, and Instagram is the perfect platform to make your pictures look as good as possible.

Better still, you can even place a link to your Instagram page to any piece you write, giving readers the chance to browse through all your pictures in conjunction with reading your work!

Traveling is often hailed as an important life experience, with more people than ever wanting to branch out into travel writing. But as long as you find your individual voice, make time to do as many fun activities as possible and keep your content consistent, you’re chances of success will be much higher.

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Sensible Strategies for Enjoying Train Travel with Kids http://www.travelwithamate.com/sensible-strategies-enjoying-train-travel-kids/ Tue, 21 Mar 2017 14:28:12 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31154 Taking a train trip with your kids can be very exciting for them and a bit fretful too if they don’t know what to expect and how to cope with traveling a different way to usual. Here is a look at some ways to make the adventure go smoothly and allow your kids to the ...

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Taking a train trip with your kids can be very exciting for them and a bit fretful too if they don’t know what to expect and how to cope with traveling a different way to usual.

Here is a look at some ways to make the adventure go smoothly and allow your kids to the chance to enjoy traveling by train. Including a tip to start the day well before you board the train, a reminder to remember sleep patterns, and some entertainment and food options to keep everyone happy.

Give yourself plenty of time

Stress levels for parents and kids are immediately raised when you have to make a mad dash to board the train before it leaves the station.

Don’t start the day off in a bad way by not giving yourself enough time to get to the station and take a look around before it is time to climb aboard.

It would be a good idea to encourage your child’s natural curiosity anyway, so try to give yourself at least thirty minutes and maybe an hour before your departure time, so that you can relax at the station and let the kids take in all the sights and sounds.

Try to think about sleep

If you are traveling with a young child or baby who still has a sleep during the day, it would be a wise idea to try and plan your journey around that regular pattern.

Traveling during the expected naptime won’t be a problem if you are fully prepared and make sure you bring all their usual comfort items like their favorite toy or blanket. It would also be a good move to bring your stroller with you so that they can go to sleep in there if the carriage is crowded or it is easier to snuggle them down in a familiar item.

 

Entertainment options

A train journey can be considered entertainment in its own right but after they have finished looking out of the window and exploring the train, you want to have a few options on hand to keep them entertained.

You will have to be practical with what you pack as you don’t want to be carrying loads of books, toys, and games around with you, but there are plenty of things you can take that fit the bill.

Alongside the traditional card games and books that are easy to pack, you can also make good use of your smartphone by downloading some useful apps that they could use for entertainment.

The mandala coloring book app could be a good option, as it is an activity that appeals to all ages and will keep them busy for hours. If you are going to load some arcade game options as well, remind your children of the need to respect other passengers and ask them to turn the sound down so that others don’t have to listen to the sound effects too.

Plenty to eat

You don’t want anyone in your party going hungry during the train journey as that is bound to make them restless and can lead to a few tantrums.

If you are on a long-distance route there should be a restaurant car to cater for your needs, but it would be a good backup plan to have plenty of snacks and drinks to hand as well.

Most kids seem to enjoy the idea of traveling by train and if you are fully prepared for the journey, it can be a great way to enjoy some family fun and reach your chosen destination.

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Great Ways to De-Stress on Holiday http://www.travelwithamate.com/great-ways-de-stress-holiday/ Thu, 16 Mar 2017 04:59:41 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31146 Many of us in the modern world struggle with stress. There is just so much going on and our lives move at such a fast pace. It can be hard to unwind. One of the best ways to relax is taking a holiday. However, when you’ve got a lot going on, it can still be ...

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Many of us in the modern world struggle with stress. There is just so much going on and our lives move at such a fast pace. It can be hard to unwind. One of the best ways to relax is taking a holiday. However, when you’ve got a lot going on, it can still be difficult to relax and forget your troubles when you are away from home. Here are some great tips to help you to do just that.

Prepare Your Home

No one likes going away, only to return home to a messy, cluttered house with lots to do as soon as you walk through the door. So, give your home a good spring clean before you go. Spring cleaning not only helps you relax with less to worry about while you are away; it also means you can ease back into everyday life upon your return.

Organise

Plan in advance. Any last-minute rushes will only succeed in making you feel more stressed. So, write a list of anything you need to do. Make sure you have everything you need, including passports, money, visas, insurance, travel arrangements, and any holiday clothes, in plenty of time. Then, pack, with a few days to spare.

Rest Beforehand

Once you are all packed and ready to go, spend the last few days before you travel resting as much as possible. Even if you are working, enjoy getting home and having nothing to do. Treat yourself to a spring-themed bingo game from Ladbrokes or read a book. Whatever it takes to get you into that chilled-out holiday mood.

Cut Down Phone Time

Once you arrive, try to limit the amount of time you spend on your phone messaging, surfing the web, or reading emails. Leave the real world at home. While it may not be possible, or practical, to avoid your phone completely, set yourself rules, and stick to them. Have a certain time each day that you check on family, but no more.

Have a Social Media Break

Social media is terrible for making us feel bad. Try to avoid it, especially if you are traveling in peak holiday time and a lot of others will be posting about their holidays. You will only start to compare, and feel jealous. Leave posting your photos until you get home.

Talk

If you are dealing with any problems, be sure to talk them through. Either, before you travel, or at the start of your holiday. Bottling things up will lead to more stress and sometimes it’s easier to talk away from home. But, then try your best to move on, and enjoy yourself.

Budget

One of the main stresses when it comes to holidays, is money. The best way to avoid any holiday related money worries is to make a budget, and ensure you stick to it.

Holidays are a great way to unwind, relax, and have some fun. The downtime can also help you spot solutions to your problems, and put things into perspective. However, you won’t get any of these benefits if you are too stressed out to enjoy yourself. Follow these tips, and remember, you deserve a break. Then, let go, and chill out.

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6 Great Things to Do During Your Jiuzhaigou Tour http://www.travelwithamate.com/6-great-things-jiuzhaigou-tour/ Tue, 28 Feb 2017 07:51:20 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31128 Have you ever heard about heaven on earth? Maybe they were talking about Jiuzhaigou. Located in the mountainous region of Sichuan Province, China, Jiuzhaigou Valley is a popular UNESCO world Heritage Site with charming natural scenery of colorful lakes, majestic waterfalls, red maple leaves and spectacular forest. Here are 6 awesome things you could do during your ...

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Have you ever heard about heaven on earth? Maybe they were talking about Jiuzhaigou. Located in the mountainous region of Sichuan Province, China, Jiuzhaigou Valley is a popular UNESCO world Heritage Site with charming natural scenery of colorful lakes, majestic waterfalls, red maple leaves and spectacular forest. Here are 6 awesome things you could do during your Jiuzhaigou tour.

Enjoy the Magic Water

There is a saying that “one enjoys no better water sceneries after visiting Jiuzhaigou”. If you have ever come to Jiuzhaigou, you would be shocked by the 114 lakes and pools and 5 waterfalls.

The water in Jiuzhaigou is so clean that you can stand by the bank of a lake seeing fished swimming around. Sometimes the water is crystal, sometimes it’s blue and sometimes it changes to green, which is a magic scenery in the world.

One of the most famous lakes in Jiuzhaigou Valley is named Panda Lake because giant pandas in Jiuzhaigou used to coming here to drink and look for food. Another lake that you should not miss is Long Lake, the largest lake in Jiuzhaigou. Long Lake is in dark blue and looks like a large piece of jewel lied among the snow mountains.

Pearl Beach Waterfall is one of the most representative attractions in Jiuzhaigou. Being different from other lakes, it has a soft sandy beach with a bridge over it. The water run under the bridge and cause banked waves. These little water drops of waves were called pearl by the local people.

Appreciate Red Maple Leaves

The best scenery in Jiuzhaigou occurs in every autumn when the maple leaves turn to red, the water remain blue and peaks of mountains start to blanch constituting a contrasting picture. You can just use your mobile phone to shoot beautiful photos.

The best time to visit Jiuzhaigou for the red leaves is from late September to early November. The leaves slowly turn to red from green and yellow and golden, and finally it might be purple. Different colors mix together making the autumn lively and energetic.

However, from October to November, it is always difficult to book tickets and accommodations because the beautiful scenery attracts numerous people to come to Jiuzhaigou. It is suggested to book your trip to Jiuzhaigou in advance if you plan to visit this fairy land during these months.

Hike in Jiuzhaigou

If you want to fully immerse in Jiuzhaigou, you could try to trek there. You can buy a tour-bus ticket at the entrance, take the tour bus up to the virgin forest, and use one day to walk back so that it wouldn’t be too tired but you can still enjoy the sceneries.

From Virgin Forest, you can go with the signs to Swan Lake and then Grass Lake. Then, you can take the tour-bus from Grass Lake to Giant Panda Lake, walk from which to Pearl Beach Waterfall, and then Mirror Lake. Taking tour-bus to Nuorilang Restaurant for your lunch is the last thing you should do in the morning.

In the afternoon, you can stick to this routine: Nuorilang – (bus) – Five Color Lake – (bus) – Valentine beach – (walk) – Tiger lake – (walk) – Shuzheng Waterfall  – (walk) –  Shuzheng Lakes – (bus) – Sparkling Lake – (walk) – Reed Lake(walk) – Bonsail Shoals.

The gallery roads along the attractions are well-built, so don’t worry about the traffic. What you need is a pair of comfortable boot and a ventilate coat. And it may take you 1 day to finish this routine.

Have a Lakeside Picnic

There is only one restaurant in the Jiuzhaigou Park, which is called Nuorilang Restaurant inside Nuorilang Tourism Service Center. You can buy some food there, which is mainly Chinese food, or you can take some food with you before you leave the accommodation in the morning.

You can sit and lie down near the lakes, and enjoy your snacks with your friends. Eating with this beautiful view benefits your mood and your feelings. After finishing your picnic, please remember to clear your trashes before you go.

Visit Local Tibetan Village

Jiuzhaigou is named for 9 Tibetan villages which are located near the Shuzheng Valley, selling small products, souvenirs, snacks and handicrafts. Accept for Shuzheng, Heye, and Zechawa village, there is also Rexi in the smaller Zaru Valley and behind Heye village are Jianpan, Panya and Yana villages. Guodu and Hejiao villages are no longer populated.

You can feel the Tibetan culture in these villages, and know more about their lifestyle and attitude towards the world, which is totally and widely different from fast-paced modern life.

Watch ‘The Mystery of Tibet’Show

The most grandiose and famous dance and music concert in Jiuzhaigou is The Mystery of Tibet. There are 1000 seats for tourists. Some popular traditional ethnic Chinese artists like Rongzhongerjia and Yang Liping have performed here.

This concert shows the spirit of Tibetan people, tells a moving story, delivers a kind of belief, and provides a good channel for people to know more about Tibet and Jiuzhaigou Valley.

The show time of The Mystery of Tibet is from 7 pm to 8 pm every night, which is not too long to hold your other plans back.

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Yelloh! Village Le Ridin http://www.travelwithamate.com/yelloh-village-le-ridin/ Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:44:31 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31114 Camping might not be the first thing we think of when planning a holiday in France. But maybe it should be. Why tread those same worn paths of holidays past? Most of us work at the same place five days a week, travel the same routes, go to the same neighborhood restaurants—you get what I ...

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Camping might not be the first thing we think of when planning a holiday in France. But maybe it should be. Why tread those same worn paths of holidays past? Most of us work at the same place five days a week, travel the same routes, go to the same neighborhood restaurants—you get what I mean.

Why not break out of the sameness of our lives? A holiday is the perfect time to realign our spirits, and camping at Yelloh! Village Le Ridin is the perfect way to do it. Conveniently located in northwest France, Le Ridin is only four hours, more or less, from London by car or train. So convenient that if you prefer to wade rather than dive into this new adventure, you can book for a long weekend between 1 March and 1 October.

Also, if you’re not ready to pitch a tent, rent a cottage and have all the comforts of home. I haven’t mentioned yet how very affordable these camping villages are, have I? You’ll see that when you price the cottages. Cottages accommodate two, four or six people, and then there’s the large villa for groups of eight to ten.

In the village itself, there are swimming pools and water games and, when you’d like some private time, a Jacuzzi. When you’d like some pampering, there is a spa with hydro massage and chronotherapy. Nearby you will find Henson horses, a paintball arena and a rock-climbing wall, among other activities.

Also nearby is the Baie de Somme with its white-chalk cliffs, pristine beaches and, maybe most fascinating of all, a seal colony! The area has a raw, primeval beauty palette of colors that inspired some of France’s greatest artists, such as Delacroix, Degas and Corot.

While you are there, immerse yourself in the “Belle Epoque,” France’s period of artistic grandeur in the late 19th-early 20th centuries on the Chemin de Fer (“path of iron” i.e. railway), an enchanting steam train that will take you gently through the meadows and marshes of Baie de Somme and the Côte Picarde with their wonderland of carefully conserved flora and fauna.

Along the 27-kilometre route, discover the commune of Saint-Valery-sur-Somme with its medieval charm and fortifications, Gothic church, and boardwalk that borders the bay. The commune also includes the Picardie Museum that takes you back to the 19th century with the locksmith in his workshop, the farrier and the basket-maker—forty trades in all and more than 6,000 tools.

Across the bay is the commune of Le Crotoy, known for its fishing economy and excellent bird watching certainly, but also as the place where Joan of Arc was imprisoned before being taken to Rouen, Jules Vern wrote 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Toulouse-Lautrec painted.

Back at the ranch—and by that I mean the village, you will begin to plan what you will do on your next holiday at Le Ridin, because we haven’t even scratched the surface. We haven’t talked about the cities of Rue and Amiens with their treasures, the Hauts-de-France region and the Bagatelle Amusement Park. We haven’t talked about the “thousand and one” (methinks there is some artistic license there— but then I’ve never counted!) paths to hike and bike. The boat rides, sand sailing and kayaking. So much more to tell you, but that’s for another time or you can check this other article I wrote for Yelloh! Village.

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How to Spend a Weekend in London with a Difference http://www.travelwithamate.com/spend-weekend-london-difference/ Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:55:12 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31107 Whether you’re travelling to London for the first time or the hundredth time, you’ll no doubt want to make sure this weekend away is one to remember. And with so much to offer, you needn’t do the standard touristy things, such as going on the London Eye or visiting the Tower of London. Whilst these ...

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Whether you’re travelling to London for the first time or the hundredth time, you’ll no doubt want to make sure this weekend away is one to remember. And with so much to offer, you needn’t do the standard touristy things, such as going on the London Eye or visiting the Tower of London. Whilst these are great, cultural things to do – why not have a go at making your visit to London a unique one?

With that in mind, here are some cool ideas for your next city break to London:

Go to the Markets

If you like to grab a bargain and you love to go to markets, you’ll not be disappointed with what’s on offer in London. For example, Borough Market boasts plenty of fresh fruit and veg, scrumptious street food and lots of baked treats. Or, if you’re looking for vintage clothes, antique furniture and plenty of bric-a-brac, you might want to head down to Brick Lane Market. And don’t forget to venture to Columbia Road, where you’ll find trees, bulbs, shrubs and plants, which are perfect for the discerning gardener.

Just remember – if you are going to spend your weekend touring the markets, you might want to book an apartment (like Urban Retreats Apartments, for example) because then you’ll have somewhere to store all your buys, and cook your produce!

Explore Its Quirky Cuisine

London is renowned for its food, and its Michelin-star restaurants in particular. But you needn’t spend a fortune on food while you’re travelling around London. There are plenty of unique restaurants to dine in, including the Rainforest Café, which boasts a tropical theme and is aimed towards the kids. Or, if you’re a fan of Forest Gump, you may want to head down to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. This cool restaurant has been based on the film and is centred around Alabama and the main characters. Plus, you can enjoy everything from jambalaya to grilled steaks!

Brace Yourself for a Ghost Tour

Because London’s steeped in history, there’s plenty of tales to tell, and some of these have a ghostly element to them. So why not book yourself on one of the ghost tours that are available and put on your bravest face? For example, you may want to visit the Black Lion Pub in Hammersmith as it’s believed to be haunted by Thomas Millwood. He was mistakenly shot in 1803 because someone thought he was, rather ironically, the original Hammersmith Ghost who had been terrorising the area. However, it was later revealed that this was, in fact, a shoemaker, John Graham, who’d been dressing up to scare people.

One thing’s for sure, whatever you like to do in your spare time, there’s something on offer in London – from unique sightseeing tours to gastronomic events.

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Best smartphone apps to travel with http://www.travelwithamate.com/best-smartphone-apps-travel/ Thu, 23 Feb 2017 11:21:16 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31100 Its true to say that smartphones have transformed how we travel. Everything from the music we listen to on a 10 hour bus ride, the way we read books on the beach, the games we play and the tools we use to get around. There isn’t much our little pocket computers can’t do. There’s thousands ...

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Its true to say that smartphones have transformed how we travel. Everything from the music we listen to on a 10 hour bus ride, the way we read books on the beach, the games we play and the tools we use to get around. There isn’t much our little pocket computers can’t do. There’s thousands of travel apps to choose from but recommendations and reviews are key to picking the best ones. So here’s our latest pick of the best apps for travelling in 2017

Revolut

Quite simply the best way to spend money while you’re abroad. Revolut is an app that accompanies a Mastercard you can very easily apply for. The card arrives within a couple of days and the app makes it super easy to add money to your card. The real revolutionary part of this is that your card will always be in local currency wherever you travel in the world. You can top up from your bank account or other debit card, or better still use ApplePay on the iPhone to instantly add funds. Exchange rates are insanely good too. Just a few pennies way from the current market value. Never again will you lose money while travelling, you’ll always get the best exchange rate and zero fees! The app is very easy to use and even includes live chat features to answer any queries you have.

Tripcase

Add all your flights to the Tripcase app and it’ll not only tell you what terminal and gate to go to but also plenty of information about the airports, destination weather, getting around and also an accompanying Apple Watch app to notify you when it’s time to go to the gate. I love apps like this as they help me organize all my flights and give me all the info I need to make travelling to the airports and boarding the planes a real breeze.

Online Games

While travel is often exciting there are plenty of moments of boredom. Whether its sat on the beach or a tediously long bus or train journey, there’s always a time when you’ll reach for your phone and play a few games. Group games like Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit are handy to keep sociable. For a brain teaser I recommend Monument Valley which is as beautiful as it is frustrating! Its best to pick games that aren’t to graphics heavy as these will drain your battery quicker. You could also try an online slots machines and play for fun or real money too.

Google Translate

There will no doubt always be a time you’ll be stumped by some local language, but thankfully there’s an app for that! Google’s translate app is by far the best out there and has plenty of features for converting local language in to meaningful English! It’s not always perfect so do expect it to work 100% of the time, still it’s a great app to have at your disposal should you need it.

AirBnB

We’re a total convert to the short term rental offerings of sites like AirBnB. There are quite a few similar services these days but in our experience the AirBnB app is the best. It’s easy to hunt around for what you want, very easy to contact the property owner and discuss any requirements you may have, there’s also clear indication of longer term discounts and a handy view of all your bookings with all the details you need to get to your next accommodation. Definitely the most intuitive travel app we’ve used and having your own space instead of a hotel room is awesome. Download it here

CityMapper

This little app has jumped up the ranks to be a firm favorite when we travel. If you’re visiting any major city then this app will have all the maps, points of interest, information and guidance you’ll ever need to easily get around. It’s my go to app if I want to know something quickly. Try it out here.

Uber

Move over cabs, Uber is here to stay! Often cheaper than local taxi companies and secure payments over the app, it makes travel in foreign countries super easy. One piece of advice though, some drivers won’t pick up new members, only those with a few reviews under their belt, so I highly recommend putting it to good use in your own country before taking it abroad, or at least expect a few possible rides to pass you by! On the whole you’ll save money and I have no doubt we’ll see an ever increasing number of drivers join this service. The app is intuitive and fun to use too.

DuoLingo

Hands down the easiest way to learn a new language. It’s fun, colorful and actually makes learning languages memorable! With numerous ways to test your skills, DuoLingo is how every language learning app should be. You have no excuse when travelling to another country, learn the lingo and connect with the locals!

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Your last-minute gap year: 5 things you need to consider before you leave http://www.travelwithamate.com/last-minute-gap-year-5-things-need-consider-leave/ Thu, 23 Feb 2017 11:09:03 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31097 When many people decide to take a gap year, they can spend months planning it to the finest detail. However, there isn’t always time to make these preparations, especially if you decide to embark on a trip at the last minute. You might really want to set off first thing tomorrow, but if you don’t ...

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When many people decide to take a gap year, they can spend months planning it to the finest detail. However, there isn’t always time to make these preparations, especially if you decide to embark on a trip at the last minute. You might really want to set off first thing tomorrow, but if you don’t plan the essentials you won’t get very far at all. We’ve put together a list of five things you absolutely need to consider before saying your goodbyes. Read on to find out what they are.

Decide on your destination and how you will fund your trip

Deciding on where you are going and what you are going to do is the first big question you will have to consider once you’ve decided a gap year is for you. Although you still have a lot of choice, you may find that many of the best opportunities have already been booked, and that some charities require you to undertake a lot of fundraising before you can go abroad.

Furthermore, unless you have been saving, a last-minute gap year can be difficult to fund at the drop of a hat. Gapyear.com suggest that the average cost stands around £5,000, so unless you have this kind of money saved up, you might have to explore other options. Working holidays are one option, with many countries like Canada, New Zealand, and Australia offering a visa that allows you to undertake some work to fund your travels. Teaching English is another popular choice and one that can be rewarding in many ways — check out our article about teaching abroad here.

Be prepared to meet healthcare requirements

Many potential destinations require you to meet certain healthcare requirements before they will let you in, so you need to be prepared to meet them. One of the main things you will need to do is to ensure you have been vaccinated against any diseases that are present in the region — you may need to get a certificate to prove you’ve had your shot.

Remember that you can’t usually arrange to have vaccinations overnight. Furthermore, many require a number of weeks and months of regular boosters before they are considered effective. Use the NHS’s Fit for Travel website to see what the requirements are for your country of choice, then be ready to postpone any provisional departure dates to accommodate what could be a life-saving process.

Check your travel documents

Nothing will put your travel plans on hold quicker than an out-of-date passport, so it’s always worth checking that yours will be valid for the full amount of time you will be travelling. You may also have to comply with the entry requirements of your destination country, with many requiring visas for entry and long-term stay. The process of acquiring one can be drawn out (depending on the nation), and there is no way of speeding it up, so it is something you will just have to work into your plans. There is usually a fee and you may even have to visit an embassy or consulate for an interview in some cases. The government’s travel advice pages will give you the country-by-country entry information you need.

Choose how you will take your travel money

We’ve already discussed initially financing your trip, but you will also have to plan for how you will take funds for day-to-day living and other travelling costs that can’t be paid in advance. Avoid credit cards if you can, as you can rack up a lot of debt with interest. You shouldn’t carry your entire budget around in cash either, just in case you are the victim of robbery.

The safest choice is to opt for a pre-paid card, which you can load with money beforehand and top-up when necessary. They act like a debit card and allow you to pay in shops and withdraw cash from an ATM, but they don’t allow you to overspend what you don’t have. MoneySavingExpert.com have a round-up of the best cards here, as well as more information about using them.

It’s also worth remembering that you will need some cash for when you first arrive at your destination, as there will be costs that you can’t pay with your card straight away — public transport and small cafes and bars are two examples. You can pick up last-minute currency at a foreign exchange specialist like H&T Pawnbrokers, where you can order online and pick-up instore as quickly as 24 hours later.

Get good travel insurance

There is a good chance that your gap year will be full of new, exciting, and sometimes daring escapades, so getting some good travel insurance should be at the top of your agenda. Hospital treatment or repatriation can be astronomically expensive if you are paying for it out of your own pocket, so your policy will play an invaluable role if the worst happens.

There are quite a few insurance providers who have deals that are specially designed for people going on a gap year, so it’s well worth taking the time to browse for the best one that covers everything that you want to do. A great starting point is this top ten from Money.co.uk, which allows you to compare the best policies and get an idea of what you’re looking for.

Take these five considerations on board if you decide to take a last-minute gap year and you will much more prepared for what is in store on your adventure.

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What should you do when you visit Hampshire with your family? http://www.travelwithamate.com/visit-hampshire-family/ Mon, 20 Feb 2017 20:36:37 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31084 Located on the south coast of UK, Hampshire is an ideal place to spend quality time and fun-filled holiday with your family. Once you reach there, you would find a plethora of activities to indulge in and several things to do with your family in Hampshire. You are sure to have a memorable travel experience ...

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Located on the south coast of UK, Hampshire is an ideal place to spend quality time and fun-filled holiday with your family. Once you reach there, you would find a plethora of activities to indulge in and several things to do with your family in Hampshire. You are sure to have a memorable travel experience in Hampshire since there is the entire wealth of attractions, events for your family members, pubs, restaurants, beaches, amusement parks, museums, range of outstanding hotels, cottages and campsites. If you and your family members are adventure seekers, you may enjoy water sports activities like fishing, golfing, horse riding, etc. If you are a Shopaholic, there are many shopping destinations here.

Discover a line of Hampshire coasts and beaches

The nature reserves, the beautiful country parks, plenty of open spaces in the Solent coastline of Hampshire offers a welcome retreat for the nature lovers and walkers. If you wish for a day out on the beaches or by the seaside, you may check out Beachlands on the Hampshire’s Hayling Island. Here you may swim and paddle through. To enjoy a dramatic view of the Solent, do check out the Historic Hurst Castle. If you wish for a child friendly and cleaner beache, do head for Hayling Island to enjoy water sports activities.

Discovering the charm and immense beauty of The New Forest

The New Forest is the very charming destination that almost permits you to step back in time. Covering the area of 566sq kilometres, it has unspoilt woodlands, river valleys and heathlands. You will spot plenty of animals and birds here, including the cattle, ponies, deer. One can enjoy horse riding, walking and cycling here. Some of the local attractions include National Motor Museum, Exbury Gardens, Breamore House and Museum. The New Forest is again a green destination.

Weekly and monthly events

You can be the part of weekly or regular town markets in the New Milton, Hythe, Hampshire farmer’s Market. The New Forest Show has been taking place in July that includes the most tempting food hall to sample sweets, chutneys, ice creams, fish dishes, jam and meats.

The chief family attractions in Hampshire

There are many family attractions in Hampshire and numerous places which you can explore with your family. You can watch the marine life, visit the country parks, and nature reserves. In fact, the country parks offer an exciting range of activities for kids. Most of the historic sites and museums here feature interactive exhibits, cinemas, country’s theme parks, swimming pools to keep the kids entertained. If you want your kids to get closer to the wonders of this natural world, visit the Marwell Zoo. Then, Paulton Theme Park is again a wonderful place where you meet Peppa Pig. Beaulieu is again a home to the National Motor Museum.

Basing House in Hampshire is again an interesting place where you may discover several stories. It is a historical site which is must to visit. The place offers choices in accommodation like lavish to medium range hotels, cottages, villas and condominiums.

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Hiring a car while travelling http://www.travelwithamate.com/hiring-car-travelling/ Fri, 17 Feb 2017 17:57:52 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31077 Every year millions of us head abroad on holiday and many of us decide to hire a car while we’re there. After all, it’s the perfect way to add even more freedom to a time when we’ll be relaxing and enjoying ourselves, as well as being the best way to visit attractions that are a ...

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Every year millions of us head abroad on holiday and many of us decide to hire a car while we’re there. After all, it’s the perfect way to add even more freedom to a time when we’ll be relaxing and enjoying ourselves, as well as being the best way to visit attractions that are a little off the beaten track, not to mention secret and secluded beaches. Of course you can opt to take the organised trips that many holiday reps are all too keen to promote but these are expensive, especially if you’re travelling as a family, and they also mean that you need to fit in with their schedule, not yours.

Car hire firms offer such a wide range of vehicles from compact minis up to large people carriers so there’s bound to be the right one for you and a little searching around online will find the most competitive prices. Incidentally, it is a far better idea to make sure that you do book your car in advance rather than taking your chances and trying to arrange it on your arrival. The prices will be much higher and they may not even have any cars available, especially at peak times of the year.

It may also be that there’s a type of car that you’ve always wanted to drive and by booking in advance you can be sure that you’ll secure that particular make and model. To get the very best value from your car hire there are certain things to consider wherever you’re travelling. For example most rental companies will point out that there is a very high excess, often as much as £1,000, on their own insurance which means that you could be faced with hefty bill if you do have a scrape. They therefore offer you additional insurance to cover the excess but it’s invariably very expensive. It’s far better to arrange your own before you go with a reputable insurer. For even better value you can even arrange annual cover which is ideal if you’re planning more than one trip each year.

You’ll also be given the option of paying for a full tank of fuel when you collect the car or of returning it with a full tank. Most people agree that it’s better to take the former option for a couple of reasons. The first is that finding a petrol station near to your drop-off point at the end of your holiday’s not always easy, especially if you’re pressed for time. The second is that if the hire company does need to fill up the car they will charge way over the going rate for the fuel and probably add a refuelling cost as well.

Two other things to consider are children’s car seats and sat nav. Both are expensive if you add them to your car rental so it’s best to take your own if possible. Today there are even a number of sat nav apps that let you download maps for free onto your phone and most airlines will let you take children’s car seats as hold luggage.

So while there are lots of things to think about if you’re going to hire a car it’s undoubtedly a good idea if you want to enjoy real freedom on your holiday. It just takes a little planning ahead and you’ll be ready to hit the road.

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What to invest in before you head off travelling http://www.travelwithamate.com/invest-head-off-travelling/ Thu, 16 Feb 2017 14:53:41 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31058 Once you have the flights booked, your accommodation strategized, and a vague idea of itinerary, it’s time to start thinking about your luggage and what you will need to take with you. Of course, all of us want to save our spends for the actual adventure, but there are some things that are worth spending ...

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Once you have the flights booked, your accommodation strategized, and a vague idea of itinerary, it’s time to start thinking about your luggage and what you will need to take with you. Of course, all of us want to save our spends for the actual adventure, but there are some things that are worth spending decent money on beforehand to ensure you have a fantastic and safe trip, whilst also being sturdy enough to use time and again. The obvious thing here is to get a decent backpack and learn to pack it well, but what special items can you fill it with to make your trip comfortable, safe and fun?

Sturdy footwear

Never underestimate the importance of good footwear when you are off travelling. Believe me, I have tried climbing a volcano in Reefs, and it is not an experience I am keen to repeat or recommend. There are several brands who specialise in creating hybrid comfortable and stylish footwear that can withstand walking tours and still look good at night. Whilst some things in life are worth being economical with, it is definitely worth spending on securing your feet, they are going to get a good workout on your travels!

 

Bum Bag

Where you’re going to keep your cash and how to look after it are two of the most important considerations. There might be times when you’ll need to carry large amounts of money on you, where you’re heading into jungles, deserts or wilderness. For these times, getting a decent bum bag will serve you well. Skate Hut have some funky designs, including the ‘slim’ range., which can be concealed easily and won’t alter your silhouette.

Music 

Some of the most exciting events in our lives can be defined and recalled by the music that accompanied them. Whenever I hear a certain song, I am immediately on the long surfing beach at San Juan Del Sur, on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua. Deciding what music to take, and how to listen to it, will mean that you are in control of the soundtrack to your memories. Create some beachy playlists, ones for relaxing and ones for motivation prior to going, when you already have a good internet connection. If you are a sociable music listener, consider getting a wireless speaker to cast your music into the shared areas at hostels and whilst out on the beach.

Travel towel

One of the most space saving and time saving items you can possibly get into your suitcase; a travel towel is a real lifesaver. Made of thin and fast drying cotton, it also packs down, leaving more room in your suitcase for clothes (or rum, take your pick!)

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Reasons to visit Boston in 2017 http://www.travelwithamate.com/reasons-to-visit-boston-in-2017/ Tue, 14 Feb 2017 14:50:35 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31046 There are great cities of the world perfect for a short break or even a week long exploration. Boston is definitely on that list and is a city of many faces with colourful history and culture worth seeing. Plenty of amazing places to eat, to party, to learn and to stay. So lets dive in to ...

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There are great cities of the world perfect for a short break or even a week long exploration. Boston is definitely on that list and is a city of many faces with colourful history and culture worth seeing. Plenty of amazing places to eat, to party, to learn and to stay. So lets dive in to some of the best reasons to visit in 2017.

Summer in the city

Summer in Boston is beautiful. With tree lined streets of gorgeous brownstone houses its a pleasure to meander through the residential areas and enjoy the greenery that fills this city. There’s also plenty of parks, my favourite being Boston Common right in the city centre. Its a very walkable city so the summer time is without doubt the best time to visit. Renting a bicycle is a great idea if you want to see more quickly and cheaply. Not to mention the great exercise you’ll get. Autumn is also a great time to visit as the many trees turn the streets a bright shade of orange. Remember to bring your camera!

Historical architecture

With so much history around every corner its no surprise that Boston is filled with fantastic buildings worth checking out too. The city was founded back in 1630 and is full of beautiful Georgian style houses very close to the city centre. The Library is by far my favourite building and well worth taking a look inside too as the splendour doesn’t stop at the front door. There’s some iconic buildings nestled within the modern skyscrapers of the central business district, all an easy walk from central hotels. Also worth checking out the Italian North End and Beacon Hill too for some elaborate architecture.

Baseball!

Home to the Boston Red Sox, a team founded back in 1901. The city’s famous baseball team has Fenway Park as its home, one of the most famous and iconic baseball stadiums in America. Its also very easy to get to from central Boston. A must when you’re in town. The cheapest tickets are around $52 with some of the best views in the stadium at around $95. Its not often you get to catch a baseball game so why not take the opportunity in Boston! Check out boston.redsox.mlb.com for more info.

Important to know

As with all of America right now, International travellers under the new Visa Waiver Program (VWP) will require approval of ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) which can easily be done online. Its the law that all international travellers have this so don’t head off to Boston without yours! Its very easy to sort your ESTA so don’t worry.

I also recommend getting a local tourist SIM card for your phone at the airport if you have time. Walking around the city is made all the easier with maps so if you can use your smartphone’s data connection you’ll have no problem finding all the sights you want to see. It also means you can make the most of Uber cabs which will make getting around cheap and easy.

Getting to Boston

Being on the East coast of America, flight times from Europe are quick and painless. Just 6 hours from the UK with many flights leaving daily. You can fly from all major airports in the UK including Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester. With so many airlines flying West there’s plenty of competition to drive prices down. Once you’ve landed in Boston just jump in a yellow cab and head for the city centre. You’ll find plenty of very well located hotels within easy walk of all the sights. Its a very walkable city so you can tick off many of the tourist attractions on foot or if you’re feeling lazy the public buses make life very easy.

 

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5 considerations you should make before driving abroad http://www.travelwithamate.com/5-considerations-make-driving-abroad/ Tue, 14 Feb 2017 11:02:32 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31042 Sometimes, relying on tour companies and public transport is simply not enough if you want to see and do all the things on your holiday itinerary. For the destinations that are harder to reach or not on the typical travel company’s agenda, driving yourself is the only sensible option. Whether you are using your own ...

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Sometimes, relying on tour companies and public transport is simply not enough if you want to see and do all the things on your holiday itinerary. For the destinations that are harder to reach or not on the typical travel company’s agenda, driving yourself is the only sensible option.

Whether you are using your own vehicle or renting a car, driving abroad can present its own challenges which can be difficult to adjust to, especially if you have never done it before. There are a few considerations that you need to make when planning your trip to ensure you have a safe and smooth journey. Let’s take a closer look.

Get ready to drive on ‘the other side’

To us Brits, driving on ‘the other side’ means sticking to the right-hand lane, as opposed to the left side that we are used to in the UK. Unless you have a private road, there’s nowhere that you can really practice back in the UK, so it really is a case of learning as you go. The experience can be disconcerting at first but, by taking a patient approach, you’ll soon get used to it.

Take things slowly and remain calm and focused — getting agitated will only make you more prone to making mistakes. Remind yourself of your surroundings at every left-hand turn and roundabout to make sure you are ready to do things slightly differently. You should also try to stay parallel to central road markings, as this will ensure you don’t find yourself drifting into a more familiar position.

Prepare your vehicle

If you are taking your own vehicle on a touring trip, you should take the time to carry out some essential checks before you set off — it’s easier to get them sorted in the UK than when you are on the road elsewhere. The AA recommend that you carry out these quick checks weekly, so it would be wise to run through them ahead of your trip. And, if you are aware of any major maintenance that needs to take place, taking your car to the garage should become a priority.

Be aware of any local laws

Though most countries in Europe have fairly similar driving laws, it’s worth being aware of local regulations that might trip you up. Whether it is the no speed limit autobahns in Germany or the need to carry a breathalyser in France, there are some differences that you need to know to stay on the right side of the law. You should also be aware of the legal requirements for driving abroad, which can be viewed here on the government’s website.

Even if you have driven in a particular country before, it’s important to review the rules, as they can change at any time. Take, for example, the fairly recent Spanish speed limits and penalties that came into force in 2014 — detailed in this article from Lookers. If you have driven in Spain before, you might be unaware of these changes and be caught out, which would be completely avoidable with a bit of research.

Plan in advance for difficult driving conditions

Depending on your destination, you may be faced with some difficult conditions that require advanced driving techniques to handle. This can be especially true if you are heading to a rural or mountainous region, where roads might be in poorer condition, there may be more of an incline, or you could experience unforeseen obstacles in your path. You should be aware of as many potential dangers as possible before you leave, and read up on how you should deal with particular hazards. You will also need to make sure your vehicle is equipped with the right kit should you break down, as help might be further away than in a more populated area — a travel kit, such as this one from Screwfix, will ensure you are prepared.

Check your insurance and breakdown cover

Though your breakdown cover and insurance might cover you throughout the UK, it’s worth double-checking each of your policies before you embark for new shores. Many insurance policies will include a third party when overseas, but there may be an extra charge for receiving the same coverage as you get at home. For breakdowns, it is possible to take out cover for a single trip if you don’t want to upgrade your whole policy or don’t have any in the first place — you can find out more about this and get a quote on Moneysupermarket.com.

Take these five considerations into account before your next driving trip abroad and you can be confident you are well prepared. 

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5 essentials for your beach holiday capsule wardrobe http://www.travelwithamate.com/5-essentials-beach-holiday-capsule-wardrobe/ Mon, 13 Feb 2017 17:26:48 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31034 We’ve all been there — it’s the morning of your flight and you find yourself hauling a suitcase that you already know is over the weight limit. You tried to keep your choice of clothes nice and simple, but you ended up packing everything anyway. Being indecisive can cost you at the check-in counter, where ...

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We’ve all been there — it’s the morning of your flight and you find yourself hauling a suitcase that you already know is over the weight limit. You tried to keep your choice of clothes nice and simple, but you ended up packing everything anyway. Being indecisive can cost you at the check-in counter, where you will find yourself paying for every extra kilo. If only there was a way to successfully pick the perfect items for your trip away.

The good news is that you can easily achieve a more economical packing regime by mastering the art of building a capsule wardrobe. By putting in some time to carefully plan your clothing, you can bring along everything you need, and leave the kitchen sink at home. Read on to discover our five essential picks for luggage-friendly packing.

A relaxed midi dress

Bring along a relaxed midi dress, such as this Isabel De Pedro bird print number from Jules B, as it’s something you can wear to and from the beach, at lunch, or even out for dinner in the evening. The dress has a tie-knot and open back, which makes it perfect for days when the sun is shining.

A beach-worthy tunic dress

With a tunic dress, you can wear it casually through the day, and you double it up as a beach cover-up when you want to relax. This stripe print tunic dress from Asda George has an attractive striped pattern, vintage style sleeves, and a self-tie belt for cinching it in at the waist. It’s a stylish choice that won’t break the bank.

A flattering swimsuit

A beach holiday wardrobe wouldn’t be complete without at least one swimsuit for when you’relounging around on the shore or splashing through the waves. Plus, they don’t take up an awful lot of space in your suitcase, so you might even be able to bring along a few choices. We like this Seafolly Optic Wave Deep Swimsuit from Surfdome, which is very flattering and has an attractive geometric pattern.

A pair of flexible flip-flops

Flip-flops really are the flexible footwear of the holiday season — they can be worn to the beach, round the pool, out for a casual lunch, or just around the apartment. As you will be wearing them quite often, comfort is key, and they don’t come comfier than those from Havianas, the original Brazilian brand. These Slim Animals print flip-flops are durable as well as funky, fall apart on the second day of your holiday.

A pair of stylish sunglasses

Like swimwear and flip-flops, a pair of sunglasses is essential for a beach holiday, and the more stylish the better. These luxurious Italia Independent I-I MOD 0807 COMBO sunglasses are incredibly well made, with a frame of plastic and steel. They’re also very on-trend, with a combination of angular and rounded lines creating a shape that stands out from the more generic crowd.

Pack the five essentials listed in this article and you will be well on your way to building a capsule wardrobe that won’t leave you paying for any unexpected luggage weight. Bon voyage!

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How to see the world on a budget http://www.travelwithamate.com/how-to-see-the-world-on-a-budget/ Tue, 07 Feb 2017 10:39:20 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31018 Most people want to see as much of the world as possible, but it doesn’t always seem financially viable. However, if you put in the necessary research and plan well, country-hopping could be more affordable than you could ever imagine. In this article, we outline some ways in which you can see more of the ...

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Most people want to see as much of the world as possible, but it doesn’t always seem financially viable. However, if you put in the necessary research and plan well, country-hopping could be more affordable than you could ever imagine.

In this article, we outline some ways in which you can see more of the world on a budget. So, read on to find out more.

Choose your destinations carefully

When you’re planning a holiday on a budget, you need to think carefully about your destination. While it can be tempting to visit well-known and popular cities like London, New York or Paris, you’ll struggle to enjoy them properly if money is tight. So, it’s wise to opt for somewhere that’s more affordable but just as exciting — trust us, those places exist!

According to Skyscanner’s list of the cheapest holiday destinations for 2017, the likes of Sri Lanka, the Dominican Republic and Budapest are all beautiful locations that you can easily enjoy for a fraction of the price of the cities we mentioned above.

Consider alternative modes of transport

Holidaymakers’ largest expenses tend to be travel and accommodation, so cutting costs in this area could save you a lot of money. But, this doesn’t mean you have to endure budget bus trips and hostel stays.

The River Cruise Line, for example, offers river cruises around some of Europe’s most famous waterways. These cruises offer both travel and accommodation in one and take passengers to the heart of various cities peppered across the continent. So, they’re a great alternative option when you’re looking to book a holiday on a budget.

Choose your food and drink wisely

If you’re trying to make your trip as affordable as possible, you probably don’t want to take a huge amount of spending money with you. So, to ensure you don’t break the bank, you should carefully select where you’re going to eat and drink.

Opting for street food whenever possible will not only save you money, but also give you an authentic taste of the local cuisine. Plus, low prices certainly don’t mean low quality, and you’ll likely find yourself paying fast food prices for some very impressive meals.

If you’ll be new to this way of eating, The Guardian has a great guide to the world’s best street food that’s worth a read before you set off on your travels.

Invest in city passes

If you do decide to visit a large city and want to see everything it has to offer, it’s usually worth investing in a city pass. These are offered by New York, Paris and London among others and, while they can seem expensive at first, they give you access to these cities’ biggest attractions and often allow you to use public transport systems. So, if you like to fill your holidays with sightseeing, they’re definitely worth it.

Hopefully you’re now feeling much more confident about organising your next holiday on a budget. Travelling can seem impossible when money is tight, but that’s not the case. You simply need to follow these tips to get the most out of the funds you do have.

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A visit to the Guildhall art gallery & amphitheatre in London http://www.travelwithamate.com/visit-guildhall-art-gallery-amphitheatre-london/ Fri, 03 Feb 2017 15:10:29 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31008 The foundation of London was laid by the Romans in about AD 50. The city grew swiftly during their reign as one of the most important Roman settlements in the province, on account of trade that flourished because of the River Thames. There were several large public buildings constructed by the Romans at the time. ...

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The foundation of London was laid by the Romans in about AD 50. The city grew swiftly during their reign as one of the most important Roman settlements in the province, on account of trade that flourished because of the River Thames. There were several large public buildings constructed by the Romans at the time. One of the most striking of these is the Roman amphitheatre in the city. It was initially made of wood and later partially rebuilt in stone and tile during the early part of the second century. It is these remains that can be seen by visitors to the basement of the Guildhall Art Gallery.

If you are a history buff and keen to learn more about the history of Britain, a trip to London is a must! While in London it is best to stay in a hotel in the centre of the city. If you visit it during the winter months there are a number of great London hotel deals to choose from.

Guildhall Art Gallery in the City of London

The benefit of staying at any accommodation in Paddington or the hotels near Moorgate is that they are well connected to all parts of London. Plus you are a stone’s throw away from the best shopping and entertainment venues and attractions in the area.

If you are staying at The Montcalm Brewery Hotel on Chiswell Street London you will be a short distance from the Guildhall Art Gallery & Amphitheatre, which is a wonderful place to explore. It offers visitors an opportunity to visit an archaeological site and view authentic Roman relics and artefacts. These sessions are conducted by a professional archaeologist, who gives a detailed introduction to London in Roman times, the topography as it existed at that time and life during that ancient period. There is a stunning art collection of more than 400 years, with art works by prominent Victorian artists, and the remains of the amphitheatre. The gallery also organises exhibitions and other events on a regular basis.

The Guildhall Art Gallery was founded in 1886 with the purpose of creating ‘a Collection of Art Treasures worthy of the capital city’. However, the actual building was completely destroyed in an air raid during World War II. It was during restoration work carried out in 1988, when it was in the process of being restored on its original site that archaeologists found the relics of London’s Roman Amphitheatre. The building was constructed in a way to include the underground ruins and opened to the public in 1999.

Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman London’s Amphitheatre is a fabulous place to spend an afternoon exploring on a trip to the city. Apart from the fantastic art works the artefacts and relics of the Roman amphitheatre is what draws visitors to the place. Visitors to the Guildhall Art Gallery get a free entry on Fridays and also a free tour (if they want). Although it is always best to opt for the guided tour of the place. It is the best way to learn about the history of the place as the accompanying professional guide is a treasure trove of information and history about the artwork and the Roman ruins to be found here. The tour lasts for about 40 minutes and is well worth joining!

Guildhall Art Gallery

The tour offers a great opportunity to see some of the best exhibits of the permanent collection, along with the amphitheatre. The art gallery has more than 4000 pieces of art as part of its collection. As a norm there are about 250 on display at a time.

There is the famous painting by William Miller which shows the Swearing in of the Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Nathaniel Newham. It is a painting that tells a vivid story with a number of characters that form part of the scene. And it becomes all the more interesting with the expert commentary of the guide, who apart from his extensive knowledge, explains the details in a most interesting manner.

One of the most impressive and massive artworks is the piece done by John Singleton Copley, which is ‘The Siege of Gibraltar’. It took the artist 8 long years to complete. It is artfully done and is based on an actual battle that happened in Gibraltar on 13 September, 1782. It draws and captivates the attention of all who visit the gallery. You could stand and admire it in detail after the tour is over.

Other prominent paintings that are worth viewing in the gallery are Ninth of November, The Last Evening, My First Sermon, The Waterworks at London Bridge on Fire 1779, The Story of Smithfield Market Exhibition and Entrance to the Fleet River among other fine pieces of art. Even if you are not too much of an art lover, you will leave the place with a new sense of appreciation for art as a powerful medium to convey a message.

Then a visit to the Roman Amphitheatre, which is the only of its kind in the city and within the gallery, is an amazing experience. While there is not much in terms of remains of the original building itself, just a few sections of the wall and other relics, it is the use of digital technology that makes it a life like experience. The gallery management has made optimal use of modern technology to enhance the experience of visitors to such a level, as to envision what the actual 7000 seat building must have looked like at the time it was built. A visit to the Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman London’s Amphitheatre, is definitely a must to have on your trip to London.

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Tourist attractions near Buckingham Palace http://www.travelwithamate.com/tourist-attractions-near-buckingham-palace/ Fri, 03 Feb 2017 15:09:31 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=31000 London houses probably the largest number of tourist attractions in the UK. The city has an enormous number of places to explore both in terms of landmarks and of historical significance. All of this makes it a very attractive tourist destination to spend a holiday in. While London is a lovely city to spend a ...

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London houses probably the largest number of tourist attractions in the UK. The city has an enormous number of places to explore both in terms of landmarks and of historical significance. All of this makes it a very attractive tourist destination to spend a holiday in.

While London is a lovely city to spend a holiday in at any time of the year, the tourist off-season is a good time to drop in for those who have a limited budget. That is when the Central London hotels special offers are available, which are a great way to save on accommodation.

A good place to stay in the heart of the city is the Paddington Court Executive Rooms, which apart from being moderately priced offer the best in facilities and comfort. Another benefit is its location that offers convenient access to the numerous attractions in the centre of London. These include top attractions like:

Clarence House

Behind two black imposing gates are visible two soldiers of the Queens Guard that guard the entrance to Clarence House. It was built in the early 19th century for the Duke of Clarence and its architect was John Nash. Clarence House has been the residence of members of the royal family with it being home to the Queen Mother for past half a century. Now it is the official residence of the Prince of Wales and his spouse. The house is only accessible to the public for one month every year, when the prince and his wife are away for the holidays.

St. James’s Palace

The construction of the palace began in 1531 and it was completed in 1536. It was commissioned by Henry VIII who made it his home with Anne Boleyn in 1533. Since then it has served as home to several British monarch’s including Queen Mary I, King Charles II, Queen Elizabeth II and James II among many others.  The Royal Chapel at St. James’s Palace served as the venue for the marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert in 1840 and also served as the location for the christening of Prince George, son of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2012.

Now the palace primarily serves a different purpose with the offices of the Royal Collection Department being located here. It is also used by the Accession Council that meet here to officially announce a new monarch after the demise of the previous monarch. Its state rooms are also used to welcome guests on state visits. It also serves as the Household Office for Prince William and Prince Harry, even though neither stay here. It could be safe to say that St. James’s Palace is the work place of the Royal Family.

St James Palace in Pall Mall

Trafalgar Square

It was built to commemorate the famous naval victory of Admiral Horatio Nelson over the combined naval armada of the French and the Spanish. It is the most famous Square in London and has been as a site for celebrations as well as protests all through the years. It also hosts numerous events through the year like opera and ballet shows and even showing American football games. Along with Nelson’s statue other statues of battle scenes along with King George IV are to be seen here. Only the statue in the northwest corner changes regularly. It is part of the Fourth Plinth project for which the works of different artists are chosen to be displayed here temporarily for a certain period. To the north is the National Gallery with the South African embassy in the east and the Canadian embassy to the west.

Street view of Trafalgar Square

Admiralty Arch

These form part of a ceremonial entrance to Buckingham Palace. They were commissioned to be built by King Edward VII during the early 20th century. The centre arch is only used for ceremonial occasions with the remaining two arches that flank it used to allow traffic to pass. The presence of the arches is the reason why the Mall Road is red in colour and not the traditional black. This is because the Mall Road is symbolic of a red carpet that is used to welcome guests up to Buckingham Palace.

St. James’s Park

It initially was the site of a leper hospital during medieval times. In the 1500s it was used as a hunting site by King Henry VIII and stayed in the hands of the Royal Family till the late 1700s. It was King Charles II who decided to allow the public to gain access to St. James’s Park in the 1660’s. It was decided to be used to keep the King’s exotic collection of rare birds at the park. Even now there is a family of pelicans in the park that are descendants of the original birds. It is charming place to relax, have a picnic or even to feed the birds here. The swans in the area are owned by the Queen. St. James’s Park is out of the most scenic and beautiful of all of the city’s Royal Parks.

Westminster Abbey

It occupies a prominent position as probably the most recognised and famous churches on the planet. It is built on a site that has served as a place of worship for about 14 centuries.  The Abbey that is built of stones dates back to the last 10 centuries with additions in the 11th, 15th and also in the Victorian era forming part of it. Westminster Abbey has a strong link to the Royal Family. In fact the Abbey was built upon instructions from King Edward the Confessor, who was monarch of England in the 1100s. It has also played host to royal weddings including that of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip and recently that of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It is the coronation venue of all the monarchs of Britain (except two) and also the place where most of the monarchs lie buried.  It also contains the tombs of prominent British public figures of the likes of Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Sir Laurence Olivier to name just a few of the luminaries laid to rest here.

Westminster Abbey

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Places to go Ice Skating in London http://www.travelwithamate.com/places-go-ice-skating-london/ Fri, 03 Feb 2017 15:00:51 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30982 If the idea of going ice skating in the shadow of one of London’s most famous landmarks makes you excited then read on, because we have some great choices of places you can go ice skating in the capital.  Many of these ice skating rinks are pop-up rinks, staying open only over the winter period, ...

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If the idea of going ice skating in the shadow of one of London’s most famous landmarks makes you excited then read on, because we have some great choices of places you can go ice skating in the capital.  Many of these ice skating rinks are pop-up rinks, staying open only over the winter period, but they tend to be an annual thing so even if you have missed it for now they will re-open later in 2017 with specific dates and locations being released closer to the time.

The Natural History Museum

One of the most famous museums in the city, the ice rink here will re-open again in October 2017 and will no doubt be as popular as ever.  Grab your skates and spin on the ice with this iconic landmark building just behind you and a giant, 40 foot Christmas tree towering over the ice.  Not to mention the twinkling fairy lights and decorations which serve to make this a very festive experience all round.  After you have enjoyed some ice skating, make sure you head into the museum where you can enjoy some hot chocolate or mulled wine as you thaw out and warm up again in the café which overlooks the East Lawn of the museum and the ice rink.

Natural History Museum

Alexandra Palace

It is possible to enjoy ice skating at this iconic building in the city all year round and it is even possible to take lessons here as well if you want to gain some confidence on the ice.  Alexandra Palace is located in North London and offers a range of special events too such as ‘Vanilla Ice on Ice’.  There is an Ice Café and an Ice Disco which takes place each Saturday evening with the resident DJ.

Canary Wharf

For a truly stunning ice skating experience, you have to try out the LUMINOCITY ice skating at Canary Wharf.  Open until the end of February 2017, this rink is illuminated with LED lights which have been placed all around the rink but also underneath the ice as well.  This ice rink is under cover which means you can skate whatever the weather but thanks to the clear roof, you can feel as though you are still outside and skate as you admire the towering modern skyscrapers which make up this part of the city.  It’s the perfect option if you are taking advantage of one of the late winter London hotels special offers and want to enjoy a last minute winter activity before spring arrives in the city.

Lee Valley Ice Centre

For year-round skating, the Lee Valley Ice Centre is the perfect option.  It is open to the public most days of the week with skating aids available for younger children who aren’t as steady on the ice as they would like to be and want to gain some confidence.  There are also disco sessions on a Friday and a Saturday, between 8.30pm and 10.30pm with disco music, disco lights and lots of opportunities for disco dancing as well.

Somerset House

Just 15 minutes from The Marble Arch by Montcalm London, the ice skating rink at Somerset House is considered to be one of the best in the city and probably has a lot to do with the beautiful backdrop provided by this neoclassical house.  Set in the Courtyard of Somerset House, this ice skating rink is open throughout the day and well into the evening with a full range of entertainment with live music from top international DJs.  There is also a food and drink lodge which is placed rink-side and in 2016 there was a Fortnum & Mason Christmas pop-up shop to be explored as well which may well make a reappearance in 2017.

Somerset House

The Tower of London

This iconic landmark has been home to an ice skating rink each winter for a number of years and 2017 looks to be no different.  Although the ice skating rink is open throughout the day, it is certainly worth trying to visit once dusk has fallen to see the side of this 1,000 year old Palace illuminated with snowflakes creating a very romantic and wintery setting.  This last year also saw the addition of a pop-up bar and lounge: Eis Haus, which was made entirely of ice and filled with ice sculptures.  For those who didn’t fancy the cold there was also the Dip-Dunk Lodge which served warming food and drink and overlooked the ice skating rink.

Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park

One of the city’s biggest winter events, Winter Wonderland arrives in Hyde Park each November and brings a plethora of exciting activities including a fun fair, a world of ice sculptures, plenty of pop-up lodges and chalets where you can pick up trinkets, food and drink, a Ferris wheel and, of course, an ice skating rink.  The ice skating rink here is the biggest open-air ice skating rink in the country and it is well worth a visit if you want to take to the ice and be surrounded by one of the most festive atmosphere’s you can find in London at this time.

Winter Wonderland

Queens Ice and Bowl

In Bayswater there is also Queens Ice and Bowl, an indoor ice rink and bowling alley which has a rich history; it first opened in 1932, it remains the only permanent ice rink in the heart of London and it was the first venue to be used by the BBC for televised skating.  There is a giant 9,000 square foot ice rink and the venue recently underwent a conversion to restore the original period roof beams to their former glory.  There are plenty of other ways to stay entertained here as well once you’ve enjoyed some skating: ten bowling alleys, a diner, a regular programme of events featuring live music, classic arcade games, and a pop-up cinema are just some of the options available for a night (or day) spent at Queens.

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Interesting Things To Do In Winter In London http://www.travelwithamate.com/interesting-things-winter-london/ Fri, 03 Feb 2017 14:52:38 +0000 http://www.travelwithamate.com/?p=30983 London is a great place to visit all year round. The city offers visitors a plethora of options in terms of sightseeing, shopping and entertainment all year round. The benefit of travelling to the city in the winter is that it is less crowded and there are great discounts and deals available at that time ...

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London is a great place to visit all year round. The city offers visitors a plethora of options in terms of sightseeing, shopping and entertainment all year round. The benefit of travelling to the city in the winter is that it is less crowded and there are great discounts and deals available at that time of the year.

It is always a good idea to stay in the heart of the city, like at any Lancaster Gate hotel in London. The biggest benefit of staying in a central spot is good transport connectivity as well as the easy access to shopping and entertainment venues in the city.

A good choice would be the Park Grand London Lancaster Gate Hotel conveniently located and reasonably priced. Just a few of the many interesting things to do and places to visit at winter in London are:

Take a tour of the city’s haunted pubs:

While there is a raft of walking tours to all the tourist spots and historic landmarks in the city, winter is the perfect time to set out on a tour of the haunted pubs to be found in London. London has an ancient history of more than 2000 years, and like any other old city it has its fair share of dark and macabre happenings. If you enjoy the thrill of exploring the unknown and are stout-hearted enough to attempt it, a tour of the haunted pubs in London is a thrilling experience. Just ensure you are well wrapped up for the cold when dusk approaches, as the tours take place when night approaches.

Shop for Christmas:

If you are in London in the festive season the there is nothing quite as exciting as hopping for Christmas. With areas like Oxford Street and Regent Street among other great shopping spots, shopping in the festive season under the lovely lights is a surreal experience. And if you get lucky you also might be able to snag a great deal or two.

Visit the Christmas market in Covent Garden:

Another great spot to visit in the run-up to Christmas is the excellent Christmas Market in Covent Garden. At that part of the year it houses a massive silver reindeer and the market is famous for its gift options and wonderful handicrafts. And another bonus of shopping at Covent Garden is that some of the trendiest stores are to be found in close proximity to the area.

Christmas market

Attend a West End show:

One of the best things about watching a West End shows after Christmas is that it does not only offer an opportunity to escape the freezing temperatures but also the ticket prices of these shows are far cheaper. This is because there are relatively fewer visitors and tourists in London as a consequence of which there is less demand for theatre tickets. So make the most of this opportunity and enjoy some of the best West End shows at deeply discounted prices.

London's west end

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