26h February 2017
Oh, hello there and congrats on surviving Storm Doris! If you’ve ever taken even the briefest look at my blog, then it won’t exactly come as a surprise to you to hear that I love travel. Like, a lot. There’s just something about exploring new places and uncovering different cultures that I find simply insatiable, and my travel bucket list grows longer by the day. With this in mind, the lovely folk over at GoEuro have challenged us blogger peeps to share the very best travel lessons we’ve learnt on our many adventures around the world. Yeah, I think I just said ‘peeps’. This is what happens when I listen to a Stormzy album once. Before my apparent new-found street vernacular takes over and I embarrass myself further, let’s get started…
1. Remember Your Passport
Now this may sound incredibly obvious but, trust me, there’s always going to be someone foolish enough to forget their passport when it really matters. And yes, that person has been me. Last week in Washington DC I managed to leave my passport in my hotel room when I needed it to get into the Pentagon. THE ACTUAL PENTAGON. I’m such a mug I should have PG Tips and boiling water inside me. I had to RUN all the way to my hotel (which was 20 minutes and a train-ride away) but made it back with literally seconds to spare. On the bright side, I got a police escort through the actual Pentagon to re-join my tour group which was pretty cool. To avoid this, obviously double check you have the essentials every time you leave ANYWHERE. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, and in the future I’ll definitely be scanning all my important documents and sending them to my phone before I go anywhere. The Pentagon ‘peeps’ (there it is again) said if I had a photo of it they would’ve let me in, and if it's good enough for the Pentagon, it's good enough for me.
2. Go Off the Beaten Track
So you’re in a brand new place experiencing beautiful culture and making lifelong memories. You may never return to this place, so make the most of it and actually EXPLORE. Yeah, a McDonalds is great and always much appreciated, but think of all the amazing independent restaurants, cafes and bars you could find if you just looked a little deeper. For example, in DC we were SO CLOSE to settling for a Burger King when we came across a little place called ‘&pizza’. We gave it a shot and it turned out to be the best pizza I’ve ever eaten – you pay just $9 for a pizza and then pick from a huge selection of UNLIMITED toppings. It was one of the cheapest meals we had, but hands-down the best. It’s only available in Washington which makes my heart (and stomach) intensely sad, but if I hadn’t gone off the beaten track I would never have found it. Likewise, there are some amazing places, streets and views you can find just by taking a little stroll - just like the BEAUTIFUL Grundtvig's Kirke in Copenhagen!
3. Check Your Currency
Again, this may sound blindingly obvious, but this is a real life story and I genuinely cannot believe it’s true. So, last year, my grandparents decided to take a trip to Florida, USA. They went to a popular UK currency exchange place (I won’t name names, snitches get stitches) and asked for their Great British Sterling to be exchanged for some dollars. When they arrived in the States, they went to pay for their car-rental, only to open their paper wallet and find a wad of euros… not dollars. They claim to specifically remember discussing their destination with the woman at the desk, so we’re honestly not sure how this managed to occur. But, take this as a lesson just as I have, always check your currency before you go! If you’re on a bit of a budget, it’s definitely worth making a note on your phone of how much you’ve spent each day and how much you have left to work with. You can also get ‘Currency Converters’ on the App Store to help you work out if what you’re buying is a discount or not. Ka-ching!
4. Check What Time Sunset Is
If you’re into travel photography like me, checking what time sunset and sunrise will be is really useful. These times are known as ‘golden hour’ – the time when lighting is perfect and all your photos will look beautiful. It really does work, and sometimes an amazing sunset can make a stunning view all the more impressive. For example, check out this view from the Rockefeller Centre in New York City, improved massively by the stunning sunset which just so happened to be taking place at the same time. This was no coincidence; I’d Googled in advance to check what time the sunset would be, and booked our tickets for about half an hour earlier. Not only did it make a perfect picture, but it was also an incredible thing to see with my own eyes, and something I will never ever forget.
5. Always Roll Your Clothes
Now, some packing tips bestowed upon me by my travel-savvy parents. The top tip my mum swears by: always roll your clothes in your suitcase. And, trust me, it really works. The amount of room this saves is extraordinary. Also, plan your outfits in advance so you don’t overpack. Pack things you can wear more than once and wear your largest items to the airport / station. Stuffing your socks and pants in any spare pairs of shoes you bring in your case also helps save room. If you’ve got a backpack to carry and worry the weather won’t be quite up to scratch, line the inside with a bin-liner and you will forever be greatful at the lack of sogginess. I’ve also heard that you can use tissue paper to avoid creasing and pack tumble dryer sheets in your bag to keep everything smelling fresh, but these tips are ones I’m yet to try.
6. Put Dirty Shoes in Shower Caps
Sometimes you have genius ideas which don’t work out. Like the time my brother and I used a cheese-grater to grate polysterine packaging on a trampoline to make it look like snow. Try explaining to your parents that you accidentally sliced your thumb with a cheese-grater on a trampoline. Yeah, that was not fun. Sometimes, however, your genius ideas do work out, and here is how. On a recent trip to Copenhagen, my brand-new trainers ended up getting ridiculously muddy. I couldn’t wear them to the airport, so wanted to pack them in my case, but then risked ruining all of my clothes. I came up with the idea of wrapping my shoes in the unused free shower caps we had in our hotel room, and it worked a charm. My shoes arrived home without absolutely destroying everything else, ready for a thorough cleaning. Plus - it was free!
7. Use Hotel TVs to Charge Your Phone
So you forgot to pack your phone charger’s adaptor, eh? Or is someone else using it? Well, my friend, fret no more because I have the perfect solution. Almost every TV will have a USB port, which, funnily enough, happens to be the exact shape required for a phone wire. Plug your phone into the TV and watch it spring back to life. Of course, this is assuming that your hotel room has a television. If not, often popular cafes have ports to plug your phone in which you could use, as well as free wi-fi! I’ve also heard that people often share the password to locked wi-fi servers in popular places on online forums, so maybe have a little look and save your data costs. Although, try to avoid logging into any banking accounts or typing in a password you use for lots of different social accounts on a public wi-fi server, as you never know who has access to that information.
8. Take Every Opportunity To Travel
Finally, if you have the opportunity to travel, grab it with both hands and never look back. Just have an open mind, look forward to new experiences and enjoy every second, because these are the moments you'll look back on and smile when you're old and saggy. So, try that bizarre local food, go on a midnight walk around the city that never sleeps, explore that pleasant-looking independent shop, stick around for an extra few minutes to watch the sunset. Just never stop loving it, embracing it, learning from it. Here's to new adventures.
Thank you very much for reading - I hope some of these tips help out on your next trips away! Recently I've been focusing all my energy on getting my YouTube channel fully up and running with weekly uploads, so this blog has been ever-so-slightly neglected of recent. However, I'm really excited to be able to say that from this point on, I am going to be uploading a new post (at least) EVERY Thursday! Yep, new videos every Monday and new blog posts every Thursday! Don't say I don't treat ya.
If you're feeling inspired and are looking to book a trip away, check out GoEuro and all you travel dreams will come true. Their site (and app!) is really easy to use and is your doorway to the rest of the world, so what are you waiting for? It's also got loads and loads of other amazing tips and ideas for you to browse, so you can satiate your wanderlust in the meantime. This has been an entry for their awesome #TravelLessons competition, so be sure to check out the other incredible entries. Thanks again for reading and having a lovely day! G'bye!
By Jack Edwards