Thursday, 22 January 2015

10 Tips for Stress Free Travel

Firstly, do you want a break from the normal routine of life? If so, then don’t approach it the same way as you do at home. Planning, organising, technology, friendships and rushing around can all be exhausting. If you want to take a break from the norm, then simplify things.

1. Chose your Companions Wisely
Hitting the open road, whether to relax or seek thrills, is a big adventure and naturally you want to share this with friends. However who you travel with is a key part of the experience and good friends aren’t necessarily good travel companion. You need to be able to tolerate them for intense periods of time (and likewise) and have the same aspirations as to how and where you’ll travel, or you’ll find yourself sneaking out in the middle of the night and boarding the next bus out of there.

2. Go it Alone
A favourite of mine for long trips that are going to be life-changing is to travel solo. It offers you a chance to explore ‘you’ for a while, so maybe go it alone and find out how good it is to be just you. You’ll always meet people along the way (whether you like it or not) and if transient or friends for life, these people will make up a part of your travelling experience just as friends from home would.

3. Pack Less
Do you really need every travel gadget out there? Simplify your luggage with a few key items of clothing and essentials. It will hurt less if it all gets lost too. I love the feel of books and swapping along the way, but a Kindle is a great way to pack all your reading needs. Likewise if you want to take a mobile phone with you, a smartphone that can be used for photo snaps, emailing home, booking ahead and using travel apps is ideal. Keep it simple – less to worry about means more time enjoying where you are!

4. Go with the Flow
I love planning trips, I love reading about the places, culture, history, and trawling through maps of where I want to go. Then I just go. Not with any plans, but just with an idea of sites and what highlights I don’t want to miss. I still always pack a guide book because I like to thumb through it, but the rest is a surprise. If you have a tight schedule or are meeting up with people, then check transport isn’t a weekly affair, but don’t get bogged down in booking every night in advance.

5. But Don’t Get Caught Out
If you’re travelling in peak season or want to be in certain places on certain dates, then book ahead to guarantee. Now the whole world is obsessed with online bookings, those people have forced a situation where no rooms are held for ‘walk ins’ – or people just arriving without warning – the old fashioned way. If you want to stay somewhere decent and it’s peak season or during a festival, you’ll only guarantee your desired accommodation by booking in advance. If you like an adventure, wing it!

6. Enjoy the Moment
Don’t be the person who doesn’t see anything because your camera is fixed to your face, or you spent all your time on your hostel wifi telling everyone on facebook what you were ‘experiencing’. Cut loose the technology and open your eyes and ears to what’s actually around you. Other people are more likely to want to talk to you too!

7. Speak the language
Or at least play the guitar. Locals appreciate you making an attempt at their language, and it’s only polite to learn the minimum. It’s also useful to be able to communicate. If you’re not good at languages, learn the guitar. Bought us a meal in India once, and you’ll definitely pick up some hippy girls along the way as a bonus.

8. Trust your instincts
If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Dodgy men, alleys, drug dealers, cops and food are all best avoided. You’ll thank yourself, the worse that can happen by playing it safe is you mildy offend someone, walk the long way or go without lunch. The other way and you’re in a world of pain.

9. Get Insurance
The downside of traveling (and life in general) is that shit happens. You can easily be drugged, robbed, fall out a tree-house, or leave all your stuff on the roof of a bus. Having done all of these, I’m an advocat of buying ‘peace of mind'; because when you need it, you really really need it.

10. Enjoy it! Don’t force it.
If you arrive at your destination and find yourself feeling disappointed, overwhelmed or even unsafe, then move on. You can always come back another time. Pushing boundaries should be more about trying water-skiing than fear and loathing. And not everywhere is exciting and welcoming either – it’s not just you.

Will Amazon Become the Next Big OTA?

Max Starkov, President & CEO at HEBS Digital takes a look at Amazon entering the travel retail market with their new industry-focused travel offices. Will Amazon become the next Or the next Expedia? Can Amazon become a major OTA player or are they just testing the water?

Read his illuminating article here on