Staying Safe as a Solo Traveller

Going away with family and friends can be fun, but there’s nothing like the freedom of solo travel. Exploring a new city on your own time, with no demands to alter the route or having to sit down for a break when you are ready to go.  Read on for more about staying safe as a solo traveller.

The idea of travelling solo can scare some people, but it isn’t necessarily dangerous.  It’s all about being prepared and knowing what to do if you get yourself in a difficult situation. Knowing the better destinations to visit and how to hold yourself when you are walking around. But be realistic, there will always be risks, even staying in your own country is no guarantee of safety.  Knowing and preparing for these risks is the best action to take.

 

Plan Ahead

Your journey begins before you board the plane. From the moment you start planning your solo travel, you want to be prepared. Start with your travel insurance, providing as much information on destinations and activities as you can.

Learn about the areas you are going to visit.  Read up on other travellers who have gone either solo or as a group. Find out areas to avoid or if there are certain times of day, or even year, that are considered unsafe.

Plan your initial route to your accommodation.  Then consider planning routes between your intended destinations.  This will save you some hassle on your trip and give you more time to explore.

Learn about the local customs and cultures, for instance, common clothing found in the area. When travelling, you want to be able to blend in, rather than accidently declare yourself a naïve tourist.  Or worse, culturally offend someone!  Learning some basics in the native language will also benefit you greatly. Being able to speak a few words will almost certainly help locals warm up to you more should you need help.  Being able to read a few words will really help you too.

Familiarise yourself with the types of scams you may find in the area, this will allow you to avoid them and walk away when you suspect something isn’t right. Although you should always be aware of your surroundings, rather than expecting to be picked for a con.

Check out this Foreign Travel Checklist for some more guidance from Gov.UK

staying safe as a solo traveller

Accommodation

When choosing your accommodation, try to choose somewhere that someone you know has used and had good experiences with. If this option is not available, find somewhere with good quality reviews across a number of trusted sites.

Consider quality and safety as well as budget. Hostels can be great fun, not to mention nice and cheap, but come with increased safety risks. There are plenty of hotels, boutique and chain offering cheaper rooms for solo travellers without compromising on safety and comfort.

For example, the Crash Pad rooms in a Nottingham city centre hotel – these rooms are designed to be stylish and comfortable, but for use of solo travellers only.

Time of arrival at your accommodation is important.  Arrive as early as you can in the day.  Not only will this help you find your location easier, but you’ll get a better feel for the surrounding area. If you come to find your accommodation isn’t going to be suitable, you’ve also left yourself some time to find alternative arrangements.

Never give away your accommodation while you’re travelling, close friends and family being the exception. Your base of operation is your area of safety and given this information away could cause you trouble in the future.

While You’re Travelling

Be a smart traveller and make sure you’re prepared for when you are travelling around. Keep the number of personal items to a minimum so you have less to worry about (and check!) and make sure they are kept hidden securely on your person at all times.

Keep spare cash or an alternative credit/debit card hidden away from your main purse or pocket. If you are caught out by a pickpocket, at least you won’t be stranded with no means to pay your way.

Always be alert and aware of your surroundings.  You don’t need to be suspicious of everyone but certainly be more reserved than you would be at home. You’ll want to keep a clear head, steering away from drink and drugs – this could impair your judgement and make you an easy victim. Never give away personal information and make sure that you stay in populated areas.

Make sure you are polite while travelling but know when to make a fuss. Should you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation you shouldn’t be afraid to alert those around you.

Anywhere you travel, make sure you do so with confidence, you don’t want to make yourself look like a nervous traveller or an easy target for scams.

Before heading away, you can also register your journey with your government and/or leave your journey details with friends and family. This way if there is any unrest in a destination country you will be advised and it’s easier to track where you might be.

When you’re sufficiently prepared, travelling alone can be an enjoyable experience where you can learn a lot about yourself.

Where will your next journey take you?

staying safe as a solo traveller

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When to Fly to Avoid Flight Delays and Cancellations

Starting off your adventure with a canceled or delayed flight can throw a major wrench into your travel plans. During the lead up to a trip, you might find yourself worrying about the possibility that you could end up spending longer in the airport than you had originally intended.
The good news is there may be a way that you can stack the odds in your favor.  Travel sites and airlines are frequently known for keeping track of important flight data.  By using this information, you can learn a little more about the best times to schedule your flights.

Read on for tips to avoid flight delays and cancellations!

When to Fly to Avoid Flight Delays and Cancellations

The Best Times of Day for a Flight

When scheduling your next journey, one of the first things to think about is when in the day you’re going to take to fly.  In most cases, the early bird will get the worm with flight choices.  Flights that leave between 6 am and 7 am are generally the most likely to be on time.  This is because they haven’t had chance to be affected by other issues that might have appeared throughout the day.
The later in the day your flight is, the more likely it is that you’ll face a problematic “stacking effect”. One slight delay quickly becomes a huge issue, or even a cancellation. The trend for increasing flight delays continues up to 6 pm in most cases, at which point it starts to taper off again.
According to experts, even the smallest delay can cause a ripple effect causing even more delays in the future.

First thing in the morning, you’re starting with a fresh set of planes, fewer passengers, and shorter lines.  That means that you don’t have to worry as much about unexpected issues. What’s more, air traffic is lighter the earlier you fly.

 

The Best Days for a Flight

You might be surprised to learn that Saturday is one of the best days to fly according to some statistics. That may be because people prefer to start their vacation earlier in the week.  Or maybe people assume that  weekends are going to be busy, so they ensure to book throughout the week instead.
Whatever the reason, research shows us that Friday is generally the worst day to travel. Up to 30% of flights being delayed that day on average. Additionally, Friday is also the day when more flights are scheduled.  This means that there are more chances for problems with air traffic and cancellations.
Here’s your insight into which days you should choose for your next trip or vacation:
the best days to fly.png

The Best Seasons for a Flight

Importantly, the details given above can differ depending on which airline you choose to fly with.  Also, which airport you’re traveling from, and where you’re going to.  Another point to consider is the season. Although the question of which season to pick is a little harder to pin down, here are some general rules to follow:

Avoid Fridays during Summer: You already know that Fridays are the busiest day of the week for airports, but the problem becomes even worse during summer when the children are out of school and more people decide to take vacations.

Be flexible around the holidays: If you’re flying around the holiday season, remember that a lot of other people will be hoping to get home to their families too, this means that peak activity levels and prices can both begin to spike.

Travel during the low season: Finally, make sure that you always look for the low season around your destination – which is when it’s less likely to get the most visitors. This will help you to choose a more delay-free time to fly.

Looking at all the above, it seems as though the best thing you can do is travel as early as possible on a non-holiday Saturday sometime during the year. Of course, even with statistics, you can never know exactly what’s going to happen with any given airline.

Ultimately, you should always be prepared to handle the stress of a cancellation or delay, no matter how hard you try to avoid them.  Building extra time into your plans to account for delays will help too!

 

I hope these tips have helped, let me know what you think and if you have any more to share!Don’t forget to check out my tips on staying healthy while traveling with the family!

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Moving Overseas? Make packing easier!

When you’re moving long distance, especially if you’re moving to another country completely, packing can be a complete headache. What do you take? What can you leave behind? How are you going to get it all done? These are just some of the questions that plague your existence as you plan the packing stage of a life-changing move. But you know what? Packing for an overseas move doesn’t have to be all that difficult.

make packing easier for moving abroad

Here are some simple tips to help you make your move easier:

 

Enlist Help

If you don’t want to go into total meltdown, then you’ll want to ask a few good friends or family members to help you out. Not only will they be able to assist you with the physical aspects of packing, but they’ll be there to help keep the kids occupied and encourage you to get rid of the unnecessary when you really don’t want to, which brings us to…

 

Declutter

If you’re living in a house that’s brimming with stuff, it’s going to be really, and I mean REALLY expensive to ship it overseas. In most cases, it just isn’t practical to take everything you own. This is why you need to get serious about your stuff.

 

Go through your house making an inventory of what you have.  Sit down and hash out what you NEED to take with you, what you would like to take, what can be left behind and what might be difficult to transport. Making Sell, Donate, Trash lists are super helpful.  Feeling organised is so empowering when you’re moving abroad.. If you plan to move back sometime, keeping your stuff in storage is also an option. Just bear in mind it might be tough convincing the kids to give up their much-loved toys!

 

Hire an Experienced Moving Company

make packing for moving abroad easier

Hiring a long-standing moving company who has experience with moving long-distance, like the ones at https://www.mybekins.com/locations/oakland-ca-movers/ , is essential if you want your stuff to reach its new destination, and in one piece. Of course, you’ll have to do your part by very carefully packing it up with lots of bubble wrap and the like to minimize the chances of it getting broken on its long journey.

 

Use Vacuum Bags

For all your clothes bedding and even soft toys, use vacuum sealed bags. They hugely reduce the amount of space these things take up. There’s some great ones at Bed Bath and Beyond.  It’s often volume as opposed to weight that you run out of first, so this really helps!  

 

Embrace Being Unburdened

make packing for moving overseas easy

 

If there’s one thing that will help make packing for an overseas move easier for you, it is embracing minimalism. There’s a certain feeling that comes with unburdening yourself of possessions you thought you’d always have that is so liberating. This makes it much easier to leave stuff behind. So, put the focus on your new life and remind yourself and the kids that you can always replace stuff if you really need to and packing should become very easy to you very quickly.

 

Good luck with your move!

 

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Visiting Warwick Castle With Young Kids

Before Mark and I were Married and lived in the Seychelles he took me to Warwick Castle. He had worked there when he was younger. We had a really great time there.

Flash forward a few years to when we had Arthur it was exactly the kind of place we were excited to show him when we visited the UK. We resisted the temptation on our previous trip as he was a little young to appreciate it.

This time around though, we knew he would absolutely love it. We had already taken him to Kenilworth Castle and he’d had a great time there.  I thought I’d share our experience with visiting Warwick Castle with our young kids!

Warwick Castle With Young Kids

Visiting Warwick Castle With Young Kids

This year Warwick Castle had added a big medieval style glamping ground. While this was pretty exciting and is definitely something we will consider next time around, it did mean that the car park was now a long walk from the main entrance to the castle, not ideal with two young kids!!

We had managed to get vouchers for the park from some Cadbury’s chocolate. We (okay, mostly me) even ate a big bag of buttons on the way so we could have another one…..I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right, I am truly a hero.

It was a good thing we did have those vouchers because I was pretty shocked when I saw the entrance fees!

The castle is owned by Madame Tussaud’s (also owners of big theme parks like Thorpe Park and Alton Towers) and they have made some big changes since we had last been there. It definitely had a theme park feel to the place now.  Whether that is a good or bad thing, overall I’m still not totally decided either way!!

Visiting Warwick Castle With Young Kids

When it rains

We were pretty unfortunate with the weather as it started absolutely tipping it down not long after we arrived. Like everyone else we then headed inside the Great Hall and the rooms to take shelter from the rain. It was nice to walk around here, but didn’t appeal all that much to the boys. We had thought that Arthur would really like seeing all the suits of armour, but unfortunately he was really rather scared of them!!!  Freddie seemed to be enjoying it all though!

Visiting Warwick Castle With Young Kids

I was a little concerned at this point that the day was going to be a wash out because there really isn’t all that much to do inside there, that would be suitable for the little ones!

Visiting Warwick Castle With Young Kids

Luckily for us, the rain did eventually ease up and we headed back outside. We took some lunch at one of the stalls as opposed to trying to get inside anywhere as it was packed!

Towers and Ramparts

After having a wonder around the grounds we decided we wanted to go up to the top so we left Freddie with Gran and started our trek.  In true bad blogger style I can’t remember the name of the walk that takes you around all the towers…..but the main thing to note about it, is that there are A LOT of steps.  Seriously, there are hundreds!  Its also really quite narrow and not a lot of railings on the internal steps.  Anything that was outside though felt secure with extra railings etc!

Visiting Warwick Castle With Young Kids

Now obviously thats because its a real Castle and health and safety was not top priority back in those days!  But, obviously its something to consider when deciding whether or not to try and take small kids up there!  Arthur, at 3, was not able to walk the whole way and definitely was getting restless on the busy steps.  The problem is that once you’ve started there aren’t really any ways out except the actual exit so that could be a bit disastrous if your kid decides to throw a bit of a wobbly!!  Luckily, no wobblies from Arthur this time but he definitely did need some help from Daddy at some points!

Visiting Warwick Castle With Young Kids

Aside from all that though, it was really nice to do that and there are some amazing views to be had!

Visiting Warwick Castle With Young Kids

Playgrounds

After that we decided to let Arthur and Freddie stretch their legs a bit and took him to a kids park, Pageant Playground.  It was great in there with lots of different slides and walkways for Arthur to go nuts on!

Visiting Warwick Castle With Young Kids

We then wandered round to the other new feature at Warwick Castle which is the Horrible Histories Maze.  This was something that we all really enjoyed, as we ‘got lost in time’

Arthur was playing it cool a little (read: totally posing for our new camera!) but he really enjoyed running around in there, finding all the different areas.

Visiting Warwick Castle With Young Kids

 

Let me tell you, this was definitely something all ages were enjoying!  There was no way we were going to leave without having collected all the stamps first!!!

Visiting Warwick Castle With Young Kids

 

Arthur clearly is no Mastermind but you didn’t have to be to enjoy the Maze!  It didn’t matter that he didn’t understand the history, he loved the whole experience of exploring the maze!

Visiting Warwick Castle With Young Kids

 

I don’t mind admitting that I was totally down with taking the chance to turn it into a little photoshoot!!!

Visiting Warwick Castle With Young Kids

 

Shows and activities

There are loads of daily shows and activities at Warwick Castle, along with special events at different times of the year.  All the adults were excited about the Knights Tournament and really wanted to see the Trebuchet be fired.

With Arthur already showing that he wasn’t keen on Knights shows at Kenilworth Castle I didn’t have high hopes for Arthur being on board with this one.  Particularly since I knew it would be louder and flashier at Warwick Castle.  We tried our luck anyway but it didn’t take long for Arthur to get a little overwhelmed by it all.  Perhaps the long walk up the towers had not been such a good idea because he was totally exhausted.  I put him in the pushchair, left Freddie with everyone else and took him for a walk.  It wasn’t long before he was totally out (which is quite impressive for a boy that no longer naps!)

Freddie on the other hand, was apparently totally mesmerised and loved the whole thing!!

The knights.  Visiting Warwick Castle With Young Kids

 

Should you visit Warwick Castle with Young Kids?

In an annoyingly non committal answer; it depends.

For our kids, Id say Kenilworth Castle  was a little more suitable for them.  But, that was mostly down to Arthur being overwhelmed by the noise, business and in your face-ness that came with Warwick Castle.  There were other kids Arthur’s age that were soaking in the atmosphere!

I think that picking your day weather wise is very important, as there really isn’t all that much to keep the little ones entertained in the wet.

From what I gather, there are vouchers available a lot of the time for Warwick Castle and I would definitely take advantage of that.  You can also save 30% by booking online which is great and saves potential wait time when you arrive!

Next time we are in the UK, Arthur will be 5 and Freddie 3 (oh my!) and I think that they will get a lot more out of the day then they did this time around.

All in all though we did have lots of fun at Warwick Castle and there are plenty of great memories for us and the boys from our trip there!

Visiting Warwick Castle with Young Kids

Have you been to Warwick Castle with young kids?  Would you recommend it?

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UK trip Summer 2016: Kenilworth Castle

I have sat down with good intentions to write about our UK trip so many times.  We did so many different things that i felt that one post was not doing our trip any justice.

 

So instead I thought I would do a few posts about our best moments of the trip and share our favourite photos too!

About Kenilworth Castle

An absolute highlight for us was going to Kenilworth Castle.  If you have never been we can highly recommend!  The castle is 900 years old and is surrounded by beautiful Elizabethan gardens.

We took our visit while staying with Mark’s parents in Leamington Spa.  It’s a really short drive from there which was a definite bonus with the kids!

The castle is mostly ruins now but you can still get inside and explore.  Being an English Heritage site, there was loads of information around sharing the castle’s history.  Not that we got much time to sit and read any of that with Arthur keen to run around and explore!

 

It costs £10.10 per adult and £6 for 5-15.  I’m pretty sure the boys were free.  There is a family ticket for 2 adults and up to 3 kids for £26.20

English Heritage members get in for free.

 

Our trip to Kenilworth Castle

We planned our trip to be on a day where there was a Knights performance.  We thought that Arthur would be really interested in the Knights but on reflection he was a bit too young to be engaged with the ‘story’ side of it all.  The show took a while to get going and all he wanted to do was go and explore the castle.  We decided that while the crowds were sat watching the show that it was probably a good time to go and check out the castle anyway!

Arthur absolutely loved being able to run around and explore the ruins.

Kenilworth Castle Summer 2016

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle Summer 2016

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle

There was loads of big open spaces and that was absolutely perfect for Arthur to run around like crazy!

 

Kenilworth Castle Summer 2016

 

Kenilworth Castle Summer 2016

 

Poor Freddie had already been struck down with his first ever cold by this point and so was not 100%.  He still enjoyed the fresh air and loved the big grassy areas to crawl around on.

Kenilworth Castle Summer 2016

He even came up with us to the top of the castle keep to take in the views!

Kenilworth Castle keep

Is it worth a trip?

In short, Yes!

We had a fantastic time at Kenilworth castle and we will definitely take the boys back again next time we are in the UK.  I would definitely recommend to anyone!  For us on reflection we would have been better to go on a day when there wasn’t any events on but if the boys were slightly older i’m sure they would have enjoyed that side of it.  In the end it didn’t effect us too much, apart from a bit longer queuing for drinks etc!

There are loads of areas that are pushchair accessible and lots of open spaces for kids to run around.

Events are being held at the castle all the time so take a look at their site for information on upcoming events!

taking kids to Kenilworth castle

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UK Trip Summer 2016

We have been back for a couple of weeks now and our UK trip already feels like a long time ago.

 

Jet lag has now worn off (We are seriously missing the jet lag induced 8am lie ins from the kids!)  and we are getting used to it being just the 4 of us in our house!

 

Mark is back at work and next week Arthur will be back at school (he will be doing full days now but perhaps thats for another post!).  Its been a while since I’ve had both boys by myself and I had definitely forgotten how much hard work that is!

 

I want to take the time to write about lots of different parts of our trip as separate posts as there really is so much to share!  We certainly squeezed a lot into our 6 weeks!

So look out for posts about our time in

Leamington Spa with Mark’s family

UK Trip Summer 2016

 

our trip down to Plymouth  (and Freddie’s first birthday!)

UK Trip Summer 2016

and a week away at a beautiful cottage in Cornwall with my family.

UK Trip summer 2016

We really had such an amazing time, it was great to catch up with everyone and to see the boys experience so many things that they don’t get to back here in Seychelles.  We were so lucky to be able to spend 6 weeks there.  It meant we got about 3 weeks with each of our families, which was a really good amount of time for everyone to have with the boys (because lets be honest, its them that people really want to see!!)

I have a couple thousand (eeeeek) pictures to go through before these posts get done.  We got a new camera and so we were even more snap happy than usual!  So I have lots to be getting on with!

I do love going through all the pictures though so its not a chore!  Its like living the trip all over again!

 

 

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Still here!!

As you may have noticed, things have been mega quiet on the blog recently.  I am still here I promise!  We’ve been away on holiday but now we are back from an amazing trip to the UK!

Still here!!  Trip to the UK

I had not planned to take a blogging break while we were away but we had such a fantastic time that I barely looked at the iPad the whole time we were gone.

 

Of course that now means I’ve got loads to write about and lots of pictures to share, which is always a nice feeling for any blogger!

 

We had a bit of a rough journey coming home with me being sick as a dog for the whole 30 odd hours of travel but I can’t really remember any of that now and most importantly we are all back safely.

 

We are pretty much unpacked now and starting to get back to real life!  The boys are settling back pretty well.   We still have two weeks before school starts (although mark and all the teachers will be back in work for one of those weeks) and so we can ease back into life here before the madness of Arthur being full time at school starts!

 

So, that’s it for now.  I just wanted to remind everyone that I am still here!!  In the next week or so I’ll get my blogging head properly back on and I’m really looking forward to it!

 

I hope everyone has had an amazing summer!

 

 

 

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