Using Public Transport
Instead of using private taxis or renting a car while you’re travelling, there’s a cheaper and more environmentally friendly way to get around. Public transport can cut carbon emissions as well as being accessible in many countries - every country I’ve visited I’ve used public transport in one form or another to get around the city without breaking the bank too. For example, in New York I could see yellow taxis as far as the eye could see but there’s also an extensive metro system as well as the use of trains to get to and from the airport. One better than public transport would be walking, in some instances public transport is absolutely needed, but there are some journeys that can be considered walkable. Not only is walking a way to keep healthy but it’s also one to see the sights around the place you’re visiting.
Try and Pick Direct Flights
Flights are the guiltiest members out of all forms of transport for the increasingly high CO2 emissions - with hundreds of flights leaving a day it’ll take a huge impact to cut these down. However, if you go out of your way to book direct flights then this will reduce the demand for a second flight to take you to your final destination - such as from London Heathrow to New York and from there to Las Vegas. Or, if possible, there’s the option of travelling by train and ferry to certain destinations both in your country and surrounding countries. Not only can a train and ferry hold over double the passengers that an aircraft could, it also works out environmentally friendlier in the long run. The Man in Seat 61 found that travelling from London to Paris by plane creates 240kg of CO2 emissions compared to only 22kg of CO2 by using the Eurostar. Additionally, the journey time is less and overall more efficient in terms of being environmentally friendly as the CO2 emissions are reduced by 91% when using the Eurostar instead of a plane.
Bringing Eco-friendly Materials
Nothing can be overlooked when trying to be environmentally friendly - even the simplest of things such as a reusable shopping bag and a water bottle (preferably one made out of stainless steel or one which is completely plastic free). Plastic bags take hundreds upon hundreds of years to decompose and more worryingly most of it ends up in the ocean which in turn hurts our ocean wildlife. Around most cities there’s at least a few water fountains around which allow visitors fill up their water bottles for the day ahead. In reception areas there may be a water bottle for the same use also, if not then there should be some form of drinkable water on site - if in doubt then there’s no harm asking. If you have the money and are willing to invest in a bamboo toothbrush and hairbrush then go ahead - they’re environmentally friendly and I’ve heard that they’re better than plastic toothbrushes and hairbrushes. There has now been a rise in the availability of metal razors rather than using plastic ones and the use of menstrual cups rather than menstrual pads and tampons - every little act helps the environment in one way or another.
The Simple Things
The small things lead to a bigger picture and this case your small actions can lead to a big environmental impact from just an individual alone. In your accommodation these small actions can be reusing your towels rather than asking for them to be washed everyday as well as the same principle being applied for bed sheets. As someone who washes their bed sheets weekly as well as their towels every other day - I wouldn’t expect any more at a hotel than what I’d usually do. Even avoiding the single use shampoo, conditioner and soap given to guests complimentary - even the single use shower caps should be left alone. Everything is made of plastic as this material is cheap and seems to be a reliable way to keep products fresh. The majority of hotels and establishments still supply single use plastics but hopefully in the near future they will resort to more sustainable materials that will help the environment. Guests should try not to have long showers and turn off the lights when out or not needed - these tips sound simple but the majority of people don’t understand how these small acts can make a big difference. Even asking if you can recycle items such as shopping bags made from paper in your hotel is better than simply throwing them away when they’re recyclable products. Most hotels just supply one bin - used for rubbish, which cleaning staff simply bin as that’s what a bin is for - rather than seeing what can be recycled and what can’t. Overall, the best way to be environmentally friendly would be to avoid single use plastic in all shapes and forms - from plastic cups to the plastic that sanitary products come in that are sometimes offered.
Watch What You Buy As A Souvenir
In certain countries there may be souvenirs made out of endangered species which not only endangers our wildlife even more but you may be found to be breaking the law when you return home. If tourists keep buying these souvenirs then it’s a sign that these products are in demand which mean more endangered animals will be killed - supply and demand. Avoid small plastic souvenirs that seem mass produced - for example if you see lots of small plastic toys that clearly say “Made in China” they’re not representing the country you’ve visited. Instead buy local - it’ll be more likely that your money will go directly to local people and help a small business rather than supporting a large business. Buying from local shops and people will also mean you’re helping the economy and helping these people carry on their work. If you have your heart set on getting a souvenir then make sure it’s a practical one - not something that will stay on a shelf and collect dust over time. Even the best memories can be recorded in a journal or by taking pictures on your phone that can be developed once you’re back home.
When flying there’s numerous ways to save the environment - from taking reusable straws with you to then rejecting the plastic covered materials given on-board. Reusable cutlery is one of the cheapest options for those wanting to reject the plastic spoons, forks and knives which are then covered in plastic during flights. If you bring your own earphones or headphones then you can then reject the single use earphones which are also covered in plastic too - you get the idea with flights and single use plastic. Single use plastic is also used on the blankets and pillows given to passengers on long haul flights - even though this keeps the blankets and pillows clean and new - there are other environmentally friendly alternatives. If you really want to research how to be environmentally friendly, then you can research what airlines are doing to reduce their carbon footprint.
No I didn’t just create a random word by headbutting my keyboard - plogging is the new trendy term for jogging and picking up litter. Not only can you stay healthy but you can reduce the impact of litter on our beautiful beaches and surrounding areas. This trend really took off in recent months and for the better - you can recycle and throw away items that you find to prevent them from going into the ocean and harming wildlife. As the slogan goes “The rubbish way to get fit” really means what it says - you can make a difference to both your body and the environment in one small step - or preferably lots of small steps.
While abroad, what's the point of going to chain restaurants and even worse fast food restaurants that you know and potentially love. Why travel across the world to eat the same fast food that you eat in your home country? Eating locally not only allows visitors to experience new flavours and food but uses local produce and ingredients - which in turn prevents food waste and reduces the travel time between farm and table. Street food is also cheaper than restaurants allowing visitors to get incredible food for a fraction of the price while getting an authentic experience. If you do visit a restaurant and have some food leftover - ask for a doggy bag so that you can prevent your food from going to waste and straight into the bin. Too Good To Go is an incredible app that prevents food from going to waste - click here to read about it!
With the notion that people are trying to become more environmentally friendly in all possible ways there has been a rise with eco-friendly hotels across the globe. These hotels ensure that they operate in a sustainable manner which is seen through all aspects of a guests visit. The smaller things consist of low energy light bulbs, buying in bulk as well as encouraging and providing information on how guests can reduce their carbon footprint and help the environment. Information about the hotel itself and maps are used with recycled paper as well as breakfast consisting of organic produce which can either be grown on site or bought locally. Any waste that comes directly from the hotel will be put into a compost - such as food waste from breakfast such as fruit and bread. Solar panels will be found across the roof to prevent the use of electricity as much as possible and furniture such as beds and tables will be made from sustainable source material. In some of the rooms there may be plants dotted around the room as these absorb toxins from the air as well as just creating a nice little touch for travellers.
Travelling can be stressful for some, with people on the other side of the world wondering if they made sure they turned off the tap in the bathroom and whether their house is safe. If something unexpected happens while you’re abroad, you need to make sure that you have everything you’d need including access to your debit and credit cards as well as knowing how to contact your travel insurance provider.
Have You Got Everything?
Before you make your trip to the airport the first thing to do is make sure that you have everything. It seems silly and unnecessary but you’d be surprised at the amount of people that turn up to the airport without essential items such as their passport and information regarding their flight or booking. Writing a checklist is the easiest way to make sure you’ve got everything and prevents those self-doubts when you’re at 35,000 feet. The most important items include: passport, VISA documents, hotel or accommodation confirmation, travel insurance documents, credit or debit cards as well as money.
Travel insurance is one of the most important items you will need before travelling - make sure that you know what your travel insurance covers as well as how much you’re covered for. If you’ve purchased an annual policy then make sure it’s in date and includes the countries you’re visiting. For example, some policies have some exclusions when travelling within Europe and within the United States as well as countries such as Turkey and Egypt. Most importantly, make sure that you have information that you may need if you run into a problem as well as your policy documents to refer to (including your policy reference number and any supporting documents).
Is Your Passport in Date?
Another stupid question but regardless your passport doesn’t expire on the date that it states it expires - technically. Certain countries require visitors to have more than 6 months left on their passport to enter. Imagine getting all the way to your final destination to be told that you cannot enter because you simply didn’t spend a few seconds checking that you have enough months left on your passport. While you’re checking these dates you should also check if you have enough pages left to be given a stamp stating what date you need to leave the country by. If you’re a frequent traveller then you’d know how quickly these pages can become filled out - especially when border control officials pick a spot that nearly takes up the whole page.
Do You Have A Visa?
When booking your holiday the airline you’re flying with usually recommends getting your Visa to prevent any last minute panicking - especially if you’re at the airport and remember you’ve completely forgotten to buy one. It took me around 3 minutes to look at Visa Application Fees through GOV.UK. Applying for an ESTA, which is the American version of a Visa, took me no more than 20 minutes as well as only taking around a week to get it confirmed. Depending on the country you’re visiting, Visas can cost up to £100, which would not only break the bank if booking last minute but eats into your hard earned spending money.
If you plan to rent a car while you’re abroad then make sure that you have an International Driving Permit (IDP) if needed as well as your driver's license from your home country. An International Driving Permit may only be needed if you’re travelling outside of the EU but there’s also specific requirements that need to be followed such as overseas driving rules. For some countries you may need to purchase emission stickers as well as headlight converter stickers which conforms to the state and local rules. Not only will you be breaking the law if you do not abide by these rules but you could be in for a hefty fine too.
If you’re on medication then not only must you make sure that you have enough to last you for the duration of your trip but also make sure that your medication has your name clearly stated on it. If your bag is searched and a your medication is found without any labels or signage that states that it's yours - the border control will not only have a hard time believing you but may also confiscate it if it’s a controlled drug. I always make sure that I bring a copy of my prescription as well as making sure that all medication is in my hand luggage and readily available if it needs inspection.
Have You Got Your Travel Vaccinations?
Depending on the country you’re visiting, visitors are advised to get their vaccinations to prevent against diseases found in other parts of the world. In the UK there’s four vaccinations which are currently free: polio, typhoid, hepatitis A and cholera - more information can be found by clicking here. Some countries also require proof of vaccination, so it would be important to keep a record and carry any documents supporting these just in case they’re needed. If you have an immune deficiency and want to travel to certain countries then you may be strongly advised by your GP to avoid certain vaccinations - it’s better to be safe than sorry so check before you even begin to book up your holiday.
It would be advisable to make a small first aid kit, even if you’ve planned to stay in the hotel the entire time, as anything can happen. These small first aid kits could simply be paracetamol, plasters, bandages and antiseptic wipes as well as hydration tablets such as Dioraltye (for those suffering from diarrhoea). It’s horrible not having paracetamol when you’re in a country where you cannot obtain it or cannot find a pharmacist that speaks the same language as you. Especially if you’re travelling with children then plasters will be a lifesaver as children tend to fall over out of nowhere and instead of rushing around to try and get plasters - having them on hand will be a lot easier.
You’ve found the perfect accommodation but wait - there’s a problem with your booking. This can make every traveller’s worst nightmare come to life, especially when they’ve just arrived after hours upon hours of travelling. However, if you have documents that state you’re reserved or paid in full for your stay it’ll make it much easier to find your booking and resolve any queries. Many people rely on their phone to store bookings and documents but there’s always that small chance that you may get no signal or the WiFi may not be working. Carrying an extra copy of your reservation is advisable - even when you’ve arrived in a country such as America and need to show proof of where you’ll be staying.
Taking Copies Of Everything
It’s advisable to take a copy of every important document to which you can leave in your accommodation or even better the safe that’s provided. Printing out your tickets is a great idea, as mentioned above, there’s the uncertainty that your phone may not work or run out of battery when you need it. Furthermore, some airlines don’t allow passengers to show their tickets on their phone which also applies to train tickets - especially if you’re standing in front of the ticket inspector whose demanding to see your ticket while your phone miraculously wants to freeze. Taking a copy of your passport is essential for two reasons - if you’ve become a victim of theft then you can take your copy to the police to prevent it being used elsewhere. The second reason being that you will have a copy of your passport to give to your accommodation especially if you’re booking through platforms such as Airbnb or Booking.com.
Notify Friends & Family of Your Whereabouts
If you’re travelling for one day or one hundred days then you should tell your close family and friends, including reliable neighbours, who will keep an eye on your house/flat while you’re gone. If you give your itinerary to even one person, it’ll give them an idea of where you’ll be if you fail to pick up your phone or even worse if you’ve been declared missing. Notifying friends and family of your whereabouts will also come in handy if there’s an emergency such as a terrorist attack or if there’s an emergency within the country. For example, when members of my family were on holiday there were reports of an earthquake in another part of the country they were staying in. Miraculously they had no idea as there were no English-speaking channels but luckily they had the chance to prepare themselves for the worst and make suitable arrangements.
Check What You’ve Booked Up
The amount of times I’ve booked up specific excursions or events and somehow booked another event on the same day surprises me - I really have a goldfish brain. If you book through platforms such as GetYourGuide then there’s the chance you can either modify or cancel your reservation up to the day before without being charged. Making an itinerary prevents this and doubles up as a guide to follow when travelling. As some events and excursions are non-refundable I’d advise just spending that extra minute or two checking the dates and making sure that you’ve got the correct date before ending up out of pocket.
What Are You Allowed To Carry?
Packing a suitcase can be one of the easiest tasks before travelling, well for me it is, but there are slight restrictions as to what you can and cannot bring. The obvious being you cannot bring any explosive materials, weapons or drugs but there are restrictions on food when travelling abroad. For example, when collecting my luggage at New York there were numerous families begging officials to not fine them as they had taken fresh fruit from the flight into New York - something that’s prohibited and means a passenger can be given a fine of up to $500 - not the greatest way to begin your holiday. Not only is there a restriction on what you can bring in but there’s a restriction on the weight of your suitcase. If you go over the maximum weight limit then you will be either forced to leave your precious souvenirs behind or pay a hefty price to allow your suitcase to go through.
What’s The Weather Like?
You’d be surprised how hot it was in New York when I visited - I didn’t wear half of the outfits I packed as I had resorted to wearing shorts and tank tops for the majority of my stay. Before packing the first thing you should do is check what the weather would be like and more specifically what temperatures you’ll be living in for the next few days. On the other hand, I researched how cold Poland would be when I visited in November but I underestimated how cold it would be when visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau - a thermal vest, thick t-shirt, a hoodie and a thick insulated jacket still wasn’t enough to stop me from shaking in my boots. Packing an umbrella never hurt anyone - even if where you’re travelling to predicts to be warm and sunny, the same might not be said from when you return from your travels (especially if you live in the UK).
One thing that catches everyone out is forgetting that plug sockets around the world are very different from the ones we’re used to back at home. I’ve been caught out a few times and have been left asking at reception where the nearest supermarket is and trust me, these adaptors don’t come easily nor cheaply. It would be advisable to bring more than one, the same applies to phone leads, as there’s always that small chance that they could break and you’d be left without them. Even at the airport or train station adaptors have come in handy time and time again - from checking Facebook updates to then make sure everyone knows how much you really are going to miss Paris.
Portable Chargers & Charging Electronics
As much as we all think that 79% will be enough to get us through a 3 hour flight, people fail to recognise that you’d most likely use your phone at the airport with the free WiFi as well as using your phone when you arrive at your destination. Making sure that your phone, laptop and other electronics are charged fully will prevent the worry that halfway through listening to your specially made Spotify playlist for the flight your phone will run out of battery. A portable charger is a readily and cheaply available product, if you buy it before travelling, with it being small and compact meaning it can easily fit into your pocket and charge your phone.
Can You Use Your Phone Abroad?
Luckily I’m with Three, a network that allows me to use my texts, minutes and data abroad at no extra cost to me, which most provides also allow customers to do. However, when travelling outside of Europe providers may not support your use of data in countries such as America and Australia - which if you don’t read about beforehand might leave you with a hefty phone bill and can ultimately ruin a perfectly enjoyable holiday. When me and my friend had got off the plane at New York and began making our way to our hotel, she found out that her mobile provider doesn’t allow her to use her phone in America - which led to a sigh and the realisation that she couldn’t like all the comments on Facebook from people telling her to enjoy her holiday.
Debit & Credit Cards
If you’ve chosen to use your debit or credit card while abroad then make sure you contact your bank so they can allow payments and transactions to go through. A simple phone call will allow the bank to put a message on your account rather than blocking your card with the suspicion of fraud on your account. When you’re abroad this is the worst thing that could happen - not having access to your bank account if you needed to pay for hospital bills or returning flights if necessary. Furthermore, it would be advisable to leave enough money in your account so that bills and other direct debits can be taken out accordingly. If you do decide to use your debit or credit card - try using an account that doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee attached to it as you might spend even more than you had hoped.
Getting foreign currency can be a bit of a hassle with different providers stating that they’re the best and you’ll get the best rates in town. Sometimes this can be so much of a hassle for people that they actually forget to do it - trust me I know a few people who have completely forgot to change up their pounds and pence for euros and cents. If you’ve already got your chosen currency then make sure you’ve got enough and just a little extra in case something goes wrong or you just plan to treat yourself while abroad. Cash always comes in handy even if you’re set on using your debit or credit card and the ATM or the card itself doesn’t work abroad.
Research About The Place You’re Visiting
If you’re planning to go to countries which local communities prefer tourists to wear conservative clothing when out and about or visiting sacred temples - then it’s better to be prepared. For example, if you’re wearing shorts and a tank top then there is no way that you’ll be allowed in as you will be asked to return once you’ve covered up or you will need to purchase additional clothing while there. In countries located in the Middle East and Asia tourists are required to cover up from their shoulders down to their knees - this information can allow visitors to wear clothes that respects these customs and make themselves feel comfortable. In Dubai public displays of affection aren’t illegal but are frowned upon as well as two people of opposite genders sharing a hotel room - as sex outside of marriage is illegal as well as homosexuality. So if you are unmarried and travelling with a partner, try to avoid displays of affection and sharing a room until your return home - it’s better than a hefty fine and in extreme circumstances jail time.
Getting a tattoo is a lot more than a ‘spur of the moment’ decision - it’s a lifelong commitment and a constant reminder that you have ink on your skin. Even for me, who got a tattoo 2 years ago, I planned for 4 years what design I wanted and had time to think it over and make sure that I wanted this on my skin. Even to this day I’m still pleased that I took the time to find a design I wanted, decide for ages whether I wanted it and from there find a reputable and safe tattoo parlour to get it done with.
While abroad, most people celebrate being free from daily stresses and experiencing new cultures as well as experiences. Most people want to capture their travels in something memorable, which is completely understandable. I’d settle for photographs and items that I can treasure and keep forever whereas some people prefer getting tattoos - either way, the choice is up to the individual but there are some pros and cons to getting a tattoo abroad.
Do You Really Like The Idea Of A Tattoo?
A tattoo, a beautiful piece of art, which shall remain on your body for the rest of your life. Well unless you get it removed, but that destroys the idea of how beautiful tattoos are. Either way, as mentioned before, for some people the idea of a tattoo can become a reality in the spur of the moment - which might look incredible for the rest of your travels but will you like it when you return home? If you’ve decided there and then you want a tattoo then I’d spent time reconsidering, especially if you’ve had a drink or two especially since many things can go wrong if you drink and decide to get a tattoo done. Even though most parlours should refuse clients who have been drinking for numerous reasons some class money as a more important factor. If you do want to go abroad and get a tattoo done, get an image of it and place it on your body - Will it look good in a months time? Will you be happy having this on your body for the rest of your life? If you immediately cannot say yes to either of these questions, then it’s time to reconsider.
Where Are You Going To Get It Done?
One of the things I would advise against with all of my might is do not get a tattoo on a whim and walk into the first tattoo parlour you see. If you’re walking past a few tattoo parlours that catch your eye then note the name of them down - once you get back to your accommodation do your research into the parlour itself. Make sure they are licensed to tattoo clients and from there make sure they meet safety requirements - if possible, go into the shop and see whether it’s clean. A license should be prominently displayed as well as the parlour itself smelling and seeming clean - it should resemble the smell of a hospital. If you do your research and even have one doubt in your mind - avoid the parlour at all costs. Even if you really want a tattoo while on holiday - you could always get it done back in your home country and no one would really know the difference.
One quote that sticks with me is: "Good tattoos aren't cheap, and cheap tattoos aren't good." A very wise reminder for those being offered cheap tattoos - if you’re given a quote of $20 for a few words on your arm then simply walk away. Not only is this a price that will leave you regretting your decision but may also impact your health - you could get a lovely tattoo but follow up with an infection afterwards. I paid £50 for a tattoo that reads “lust for life” which admittedly is more expensive than the average tattoo but the parlour was highly rated, it was very clean and the needle used was sterile. Additionally, the parlour gave me information regarding aftercare and if I needed a touch up they would be happy to do it for free in the future.
Are You Comfortable Travelling With A New Tattoo?
As much as having a new tattoo is exciting and you cannot wait to share images of it all across social media and send it to your friends and family, once again safety comes first. After getting a tattoo, you should follow the instructions from the parlour regarding how to look after it throughout the first week - it will begin to scab and fall off which is never pretty. You need to keep tattoos clean - which means you cannot put it in direct sunlight and must keep it protected from seawater, even water from a swimming pool should be avoided. If you’ve gone to a hot country then I would advise against getting a large tattoo - keeping it covered might be a problem. Regardless, you’ll need to keep the area clean to prevent infections and allow the tattoo to heal in its own time. That also means that you cannot pick it or pull of the scabs, that’s why loose clothing is advised rather than tight clothing that could accidentally peel off scabs.
Will There Be The Problem Of A Language Barrier?
If you have your heart set on a tattoo that has words included within it - make sure that you bring an image with you and you have clear communication with the tattoo artist. I’m sure we’ve all seen the tattoo “NO RAGRETS” - to which I’m sure it’s one regret they’ll have when they have to live with it for the rest of their life. If you go to a parlour where your language isn’t their first then reconsider your plans - a lot could go wrong. Initially the tattoo artist could spell words wrong or even worse give you a tattoo that you never agreed on but are now stuck with. Then there’s the form of payment - you may scammed out of even more money if the tattoo artist knows you cannot speak the same language as them - they may take advantage of this especially if you haven’t got to grips with the local currency.
What Happens If You Need To Go Back?
Unfortunately there are some instances where you may not be entirely happy with your tattoo or you may need a small touch up. How could you possibly get back to this tattoo parlour if you’re 2000 miles away? This is my main reason against ever getting a tattoo in another country for this reason exactly. The tattoo parlour could mysteriously close down for reasons including operating under unhygienic conditions or as they’ve gone bankrupt. Then there’s no place to complain too and even get a resolution from. However, if you’ve done your research and spoke to the artist and you’re more than trusting in their work then go ahead - just make sure that you note down the aftercare instructions and any contact information.
Getting Your Tattoo
If you’ve read all of the above tips, done your research into the parlour and are happy to go ahead and get a tattoo, here are a few final tips:
EasyJet has become a rising favourite for those wanting to travel across Europe and other surrounding areas such as Tel Aviv and Damascus. EasyJet has notably gained popularity for providing over 1,000 routes which span across 30 countries with flights departing as we speak. However, with such an inexpensive airline there are some downfalls, as they say you pay for what you get - but is easyJet an airline that should be avoided simply because they offer unmissable prices?
When you visit the easyJet website the first thing that visitors notice will be the deals that easyJet are currently offering, in this case there’s flights for £29.99 to Belfast - one way, per person. EasyJet have even advertised Malaga for £19.99 which is dependant on two passengers flying from London Gatwick and prices are representative of a one way flight. With deals like these, which seem unbeatable, it’s no wonder that easyJet has gained such as large following with over 80 million passengers flying with the airline in 2018, according to Statista. As someone who uses easyJet frequently, it’s one of the sole reasons I’m able to travel so much for someone whose on a budget. Additionally, with over 5 major airports such as London Gatwick and London Luton supporting easyJet flights, it’s become a reliable airline to use.
You’ve selected your £29.99 seats and even possibly a cheaper return as while doing my research I found flights from Barcelona to London Gatwick for £19.99. Too good to be true? Well if you plan to use hand luggage and have no preference as to where you sit, then it really is an incredible deal. However, if you do have hold luggage then easyJet will charge an additional fee of £18-20 for a 15-23kg bag, which is an average price for one bag per flight. If you have any sports equipment such as skis and boots as well as snowboards then you may be paying a lot more than you had hoped - £74 more for each item. It gets considerably worse for those wanting to transport large items such as bicycles and canoes as this will set you back £90, which again is per item, per flight. If you haven’t got any equipment then you can make a sigh of relief as reserving a seat only costs £5-8 for a standard seat towards the middle of the plane. For those wanting to be nearer the front then a seat may set you back £8-9 or if you want to go all out and sit right at the front of the plane then this will set you back a whopping £20 - in some cases it’s more than the ticket itself. These small charges is how easyJet makes it money as those travelling with friends and families consider the tickets to be so cheap that they can afford to reserve seats to sit next to each other.
The easyJet website and app allows customers to have a smooth experience, with it taking less than 5 minutes in some cases to buy tickets for flights with an email confirmation shortly arriving. EasyJet are very transparent with their price breakdown as well as giving passengers more than enough information regarding their flight. EasyJet outline what time the bag drop opens as well as what time the gate closes - allowing passengers to plan their journey to the airport around this. There’s information regarding what passengers should do after booking - fill in their passport details and how to get their boarding passes, which is available to download and print 30 days before you fly. These boarding passes can either be printed or shown through the easyJet app, which is handy for our technology savvy generation as they can also be added to our online wallets. For a budget airline, easyJet really goes above and beyond for what passengers would expect, but then again easyJet wants customers to return and use their service again.
As mentioned before, I’ve flown with easyJet lots of times before which had led me to experience mostly positive experiences but then again I’ve had some of the worst experiences with them. The positive experiences with easyJet is that the flights have left on time in most cases and enough leg room to sit comfortably for a 2-3 hour flight and even sleep on the flight. Additionally, all of the staff that easyJet employ, from the customer service team to the cabin crew, they’ve always been polite and helpful throughout my journey. Unfortunately, when I travelled to Amsterdam I was subject to a 4 hour delay to which the staff seemed to be as confused as the passengers were, with the times being pushed further and further back. Passengers were given vouchers to buy food and drink either at the airport or on the plane. However, with the flight being only 45 minutes, by the time I would’ve got my drink, it would then be time to land. Either way, it’s a hit or miss situation with some passengers experiencing as smooth of a flight as possible whereas others wouldn’t trust easyJet again after their experiences.
It should be noted that when flying with easyJet you will not get any complimentary snacks or drinks, it is a budget airline and they need to make their money somehow - which is where the Bistro comes into play. With a meal deal costing passengers £7.50/€9.50 is quite an expensive lunch considering that in places such as Boots and WHSmith you can get a meal deal for £3-4, even at the airport. For this price you get a main, drink and a snack but recently the choices of mains has decreased and the quality followed suit too. However, as mentioned in previous posts, bring your own food to the airport or have a large meal before travelling to prevent you from feeling tempted to spend your money on food at the airport or on the plane. The Boutique from easyJet is expensive too, with even duty free prices not being low enough to make me splurge on a new fragrance or a watch that I know I don’t need. Either way, looking through the Boutique magazine does allow passengers to take their mind off flying and doubles up as reading material. It’s a clever sales pitch, as easyJet state that passengers can only carry hand luggage only, which then in turn only allows passengers to carry a limit of 100ml per item of liquids. If you bought a perfume that exceeded these 100ml limits then you may be faced with throwing your purchase away or having to pay extra to put your luggage under the plane - that purchase doesn’t seem so cheap now does it?
If you want to fly with easyJet, which is known to be an affordable and mostly a reliable airline, then you should go ahead and book with them. Just keep in mind that you will be imposed to easyJet’s rules of hand luggage only and the mystery of where you’ll be sitting on the plane if you haven’t prebooked your seat. For those wanting a simple flight with no frills, then easyJet is the way to go - even if you want added luxury then you can splurge on a seat at the front of the plane or towards the front.
When I flew to New York in July 2019 I had the pleasure of flying with British Airways - both on my departure and return flight. As it was a 8-9 hour flight I wanted to make sure that I was travelling comfortably and with an airline that had been praised by not only friends and family members but by people online too. Without further ado, here’s my review of my British Airways flight where I was seated in Economy Class.
What is Economy Class?
When travelling by plane there are a range of classes that passengers can travel by, each with their own price tag and unique benefits tailored to suit individuals needs. Within this specific flight there were four different classes - Economy, Premium Economy, then to Business Class and First Class. The higher the class, the more expensive it becomes for passengers which is justified by the amount of privacy given to passengers, the different meal options, the facilities such as the bathroom and the general area as well as the airport experience passengers will receive.
Booking Up Tickets
In September 2018 I booked up two return tickets from London Heathrow to John F. Kennedy Airport to which I booked up Economy World Traveller. However, when I was researching the different departures from London Heathrow I found that there were two different options for Economy: Hand Baggage only or Economy: Checked Baggage. The difference between these options doesn’t only count for the luggage but also differs in price - only around £50 per flight but also allows passengers to pick their seat for free 24 hours before as well as allowing passengers to change their flight for a fee. Either way, the whole process was very easy when using the British Airways website as well as the information being provided at every step.
Only one issue came a few months after initially booking my tickets - British Airways moved me and my friends seat to another spot, even though we had paid. The same occurrence happened on the flight returning from New York as we were once again moved without notice, only to find out at the airport. It was a slight inconvenience but regardless as this was an overnight flight I couldn’t be bothered to dispute it.
In total the flights altogether were £907.22 - which worked out £453.61 per person, as there were two of us, which then works out to be £226.80 per flight. These prices were absolutely incredible - in comparison I had spent £220 when travelling to Gran Canaria during the Easter holidays for a family vacation. This price included £168.11 in government, authority and airport charges such as £78 for Air Passenger Duty and £44.91 Passenger Service Charge in the United Kingdom. Immediately after purchasing my tickets a full confirmation email was sent to me - all the information was clearly stated which included departure time and dates as well as a price breakdown. The only downside to booking with British Airways was the expensive seating prices - £23 for a seat in the rows towards the back, per person per way. However, more importantly British Airways had included useful information such as reminding me to purchase a ESTA to enter the country and what my luggage allowances were.
As I had purchased tickets for Economy World Traveller I was allowed three items of luggage altogether. The first item of luggage was my main suitcase which had the requirements of being 90 x 75 x 43cm and the weight restriction of 23kg. The second item of luggage, which for me was hand luggage, had the same weight limit but different dimensional restrictions of 56cm x 45cm x 25cm. The third piece of luggage, which for me was a small cross body bag to carry my passport, medication and other important documents, had the dimensional restrictions of 40cm x 30cm x 15cm as well as having a weight restriction of 23kg. If you were taking a lot of luggage on your departure or your return flight then British Airways certainly gives passengers more than enough. However, if for some reason your luggage is overweight then you’ll be subject to a £65 fee and if you want to bring an additional piece of luggage then you will be charged the same fee of £65.
The Economy Class Seat
As mentioned previously, as the seats were right at the back of the plane and as I had an aisle seat there was more than enough legroom for even a tall person such as myself. The seat itself was a 32-inch seat pitch and the reason I decided to sit at the back of the plane would be the feeling of reclining my seat without the person behind me feeling cramped or having to be asked to move my seat so those behind me could use their trays. On the seat itself there were the basic amenities: a pillow and a blanket as well as a small pair of earphones for the flight. Admittedly it wasn't the best but wasn't the worst considering it's economy quality plus it was free - I’ll settle for anything if I’ve been up since 5:30am. The only problem with the position of my seat was the lack of overhead lockers which in turn led me to use someone else’s locker which then led to a snowball effect of everyone using other passengers lockers.
In front of me was a screen which was a regular iPad size (9 inches) - enough to watch films and look up information regarding the flight and estimated time of arrival. There were seven categories: Movies, TV, Audio, Games, Kids, Maps and Information. All of these categories gave enough entertainment and information which would keep both adults and kids entertained for the entirety of the flight, in this case it was 8 hours. There were a range of newly released Movies and TV Shows, which was entertaining and great to see. For this particular flight I enjoyed watching Spy and from there watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race All Stars - which isn’t even available in the UK on Netflix. It took my mind away from the thought of flying and made the 8 hours fly by. My favourite part of the screen was the integrated USB socket allowing me to charge my iPhone for the entirety of the flight which saved me using my own portable charger.
The one downside to this flight was the option to pay for WiFi - which set me back £4.99 for an entire hour whereas if I wanted 4 hours worth of WiFi it would’ve set me back £10.99. As I bought this WiFi I was surprised how fast it was especially since we were 38,000 feet in the air. I was able to check all forms of social media including Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram without any problems. I was able to send and receive messages on Whatsapp almost immediately - it seems even though I had to pay for WiFi it was well worth it.
Food & Drink
The food and drinks served on the plane were more than enough to satisfy a passenger as well as making sure they got their money's worth. Once we were up in the air the first snack that was offered was a small bag of pretzels and a drink, which could either be a soft drink, water, orange juice or an alcoholic beverage. From there the main course was served which consisted of either a chicken or pasta dish, accompanied by a starter which was salad in this case, crackers and cheese, a roll and a small dessert. A small cup of water was also offered but there was so much offered on this flight that it barely fit on the tray - that gives you an indication that you're getting a good sized amount of food. From there we were offered another drink and to my surprise we were offered a Magnum Ice Lolly. A while later we were then offered another drink but this time it was between orange juice and water. An hour or two before landing we were offered a chicken sandwich and a chocolate bar but by this point I was completely full but still managed to eat the chocolate bar. Around an hour before landing all passengers were offered another drink. Throughout this the flight attendants were attentive by making sure that all mess was cleared up and trays were taken from passengers once they were finished with them.
As standard there were four toilets at the back of the plane which never got crowded even after everyone had been served their meals - which was lucky for me as I was sitting right next to them. The toilets were a standard size for an aircraft - enough to move in and wash your hands without bumping into the door and hitting your head on the ceiling. For the first time I had seen sanitary products being offered to passengers in little drawers under the sink - a very good initiative for those who had either forgot to pack them or had unfortunately started throughout their flight.
Arrival at John F. Kennedy
Throughout the flight we were given updates directly from the pilot regarding the status of the flight, which was helpful and saved me checking the onboard map every twenty minutes or so - you can tell I’m impatient. Regardless, we arrived on time and not a minute too soon apparently, as soon as the flight came to a stop people jumped out of their seats to only stand there for ages to be let off the plane. Of course First Class would be let off first, then Business Class, Premium Economy and last but not least Economy. However, I took the time to gather my belongings and make sure that I had everything. Around 25 minutes passed and I was able to disembark without any problems - staff even took the time to talk to me while I was waiting to get up from my seat asking if it was my first time in New York and whether I enjoyed the flight.
Upon disembarking off the actual plane we were guided towards the Immigration Area of John F. Kennedy Airport for which another 20 minutes were spent standing in line rehearsing what I was going to say. Either way, the process was quick and the baggage followed within another 20 minutes which meant I spent less than an hour in the airport - a lot less than I had planned.
As this was the first time I had flown with British Airways it certainly won’t be my last as I’ve already booked up flights for 2020 with the same airline. For the price I paid, which was £453.61 for a return journey including the additional payment of reserving seats, I consider this an incredible deal when summarising everything onboard including the service and the food. Even though you’re given the bare minimum in Economy Class - the bare minimum turned out to be quite a lot! Possibly in the future I will be travelling Premium Economy or Business Class to see whether it lives up to the high standards expected. Even though I only ran into one problem overall, I was able to rectify British Airway’s mistake myself and no more was said of it.
From the moment I stepped into Heathrow Terminal 5 until the time I landed at Terminal 7 in John F. Kennedy Airport, I had a pleasant experience which is why British Airways has become so memorable in my opinion. British Airways is ranked as a 4-star airline and for good measure too - whatever class you’re flying there is bound to be attentive staff, delicious food and an enjoyable experience. In this instance, you get for what you pay for and in my opinion £453.61 has stretched even further than I would’ve imagined it to.
One of the most commonly asked questions I receive would be asking how much spending money should one person take, whether they’re going for a city break or flying to the other side of the world for a month long vacation. The simple answer is that one size doesn’t fit all - there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration such as whether your accommodation has been paid for, the attractions you’ll be visiting as well as whether the country is known to be expensive or inexpensive.
Before buying any sort of currency it would be advisable to do your research into the places you’ll be visiting and whether they’re notoriously known for being expensive or more hopefully inexpensive. For example, when I travelled to Poland I had brought 500zł to which I returned with 200zł as the prices there had been incredibly inexpensive even though I had splurged on meals as well as gifts for family and friends. If you simply type in “Is ____ expensive?” then you’ll get a rough idea of what travellers have spent regarding food, drinks, activities as well as the price range of specific items which should hopefully begin to give you an idea of how much to take.
If you’ve already prebooked and paid in full for your accommodation then this segment won’t apply to you. If you’ve chosen the option to pay for your accommodation upon arrival then the first thing to do would be to create a separate bank account to store the money to pay for this in - mainly as it will mean that the money will stay there without the option for it to be spent. It’s also important to remember that some debit and credit card companies will charge a foreign transaction fee - which is around 2-3% of the total purchase. From the moment you reserve your accommodation I’d begin to save and make a plan of how much you will need as well as seeing what your accommodation includes.
Food and Drink
Before I travel anywhere I make sure that I’ve scouted out the local restaurants, cafes and bars in the local area. The reason for this being that I would be able to see how much the food and drink near my accommodation would cost - from there I could make an estimate of how much I would be spending per meal, per day. If you’ve got your breakfast included with your room rate for your accommodation then you will only need to focus on lunch, dinner and extra snacks. When I travelled to Amsterdam I knew that dinner would set me back around €20 whereas lunch would only set me back €10 as well as snacks per day only costing €3. From there I worked out that I should budget just over €30 per day for food and as I was there for three days it meant I budgeted around €90. This allows me to give me leeway as if I spend over then it’s accounted for as well as if I spend under this amount it allowed me to bring money back home to exchange.
Personally I prefer to book as many activities as I can before travelling, the main reason being that it allows me to simply turn up and enjoy the attraction or tour. However, in some circumstances such as free walking tours - the only way I can tip these tours is by attending the tour and then tipping afterwards using the local currency. I tip at least €10-20 per tour, even if it’s stated that it’s a “free” walking tour - more information regarding these tours can be found by clicking here. If you’ve already booked up your activities then keep extra money spare in case you visit a gift shop from the museum or landmark - you never know what they may sell and what may catch your eye.
If on holiday you buy more than the odd souvenir and go full out in the local shops and any shopping centres then make sure that your wallet can cope. For example, in New York I knew that there were two main shopping centres and hundreds of shops that I wanted to go in which allowed me to budget around $50 to $70 to fund my shopping habit - some days I spent around this amount and some days I spent a lot less than I had planned. Either way, I had to keep in consideration that I had a weight limit for both suitcases, which I went over slightly but luckily never got charged.
Transport can either be one of the most expensive areas when travelling simply because a taxi here and there will soon add up. Hundreds upon hundreds of cities such as London, New York, Barcelona and Paris have extensive methods of public transport which are very inexpensive and convenient. If you plan to use public transport then see whether it’s worth investing into a transport card or pass that allows you to use public transportation cheaply around the city you’re in. If you do want to use taxis then research beforehand what a journey will cost you, for example from one landmark to another, which not only allows you to have a rough idea of how much money to bring but prevents you from being scammed. Additionally, make sure that you know what taxi’s look like, it sounds stupid, but you wouldn’t want to get into an unmarked taxi as there’s a risk of your safety being breached as well as your wallet.
Spending Money for Amsterdam 2020:
As I’m travelling back to Amsterdam next year I already have a budget in mind which has allowed me to purchase euros here and there to save up for the trip. As I’m there for three nights but four days I budgeted that I will need around €200 - I always bring extra in case of an emergency or I see something I’d like to buy and splurge on.
As much as the question has the answer in itself already, it’s an act of judgement and how your morality works. Free Walking Tours have been around for years and have become popular for those travelling on a budget who want to see everything the city they’re visiting has to offer. In Amsterdam walking tours are popular as getting around by car is not only time consuming but won’t allow you to see everything Amsterdam has to offer. These walking tours have found their popularity through recent bloggers and word of mouth - internet marketing has allowed these tours to become popular without spending a penny.
The way these free walking tours work is a tour will be advertised on the tour company’s website or through the use of social media platforms. People wishing to go on the tour will either have to sign up with their email and confirm their attendance or simply turn up at the specified time and location given. From there the guide will introduce themselves and most importantly explain how these tours work: they work for free and reply on tips and donations from visitors who use these guides. At the end of the tour there will be the chance to tip these guides or simply walk away - but it’s simply not that simple. As much as people will already be thinking “I can simply walk away after all of this is done' 'the reality is a lot different. After watching the guide speak for two or three hours while recalling information and dates about events in the city - how can you not feel obliged to tip? I’ve been on many walking tours and have not seen anyone once walk away without putting in at least £10/€11. Additionally, some of these tours can be as small as up to four people - making it more of a private tour than a public one, which then leads many to tip even more.
Nevertheless, there’s still the question of ethics and morality coming into play here. There have been many articles written regarding the ethics of these companies including whether they pay their taxes on this income they’re receiving as it’s advertised as a free walking tour. Furthermore, many people are concerned as to how much these tour guides actually take home - how much of their profits need to be given to their management or company and how much profit is actually made? This is the point where most people’s opinions regarding free tours change as their mind flashes back to when they tipped their tour guide a less than generous tips or some even walking away and paying nothing.
Regardless, these tour guides deliver exceptional information regarding the city you’re visiting whether it be about the history, the impact of the First and Second World War or specific areas in rain or shine. This shouldn’t only be a tour that is praised by the gracious tips of €10, €15 or €20 but should be spoken about more often as these people purely rely on tips to which some tour guides will actually have to give away a small part of their earnings. Even though I’m someone who tries to save money in whatever way I can, I have found that these “free walking tours” are the furthest notion from free that could be found but I am more than happy to pay into these tours and keep them going for as long as possible.
Travel During The Off-Season
Travelling during the off-season seems easier said than done, especially if you’re planning to visit Disneyland with children. Parents and guardians can now be liable to fines if they’re found taking their child out of school for unnecessary reasons - in this case Disneyland is deemed one of them. Nevertheless, there is a way around this and it’s by taking your child to Disneyland during a bank holiday weekend or when there’s a planned inset day that happens on either a Monday or Friday. As this would mean a three day weekend which allows a weekend away without the hefty price tag. Schools should display their yearly term-dates and inset days in advance on their website. If not, then another option would be asking the school directly and in most cases they will be more than happy to comply.
Save Money on Disneyland Tickets & Deals
Before you buy tickets to Disneyland it’s worth researching what rides certain parks have on offer, to which you can plan how many you could go on. For example, if you’re with a three or four year old then certain rides and attractions have certain height restrictions to which staff abide by very strictly. From there, if you plan to go on around 20 rides then plan how quickly you could get through these rides - would you need a two day ticket or a three day ticket? Additionally, I’ve seen numerous discounts on the Disneyland website, most deals revolve around 2 days stay for the price of 1 - take advantage of these! At the moment there’s a special offer where adults can get into Disneyland for children’s prices. If you do decide to stay in hotels surrounding the park then there are even more deals including free breakfasts for children throughout their stay as well as discounts of up to 25% off.
Plan, Plan & Plan Even More!
As mentioned previously, if you’ve decided what rides and attractions you’d like to see then it’d be worth researching into whether it’s worth getting a FastPass. If you’re only in Disneyland for a day or two then see whether it’d be cheaper getting a FastPass to get you onto all the rides you’d like - they start at £39.58. This price may be cheaper than spending money on another night at a hotel, the costs of food as well as if travelling on certain days may cost more. Research into what rides would be open during your visit to avoid disappointment - Disneyland clearly states on their website which rides will be closed for specific days. Furthermore, research into what parades and characters you’d like to visit and what time they take place - from there you can plan around this while making sure you get the best seat in the house to enjoy them!
As much as Disneyland hotels offer the full experience for those wanting to experience the magic of Disney in all forms - it comes with a hefty price tag. For those who have their heart set on staying in a Disney hotel then look into the best deal for your stay - free breakfast, character breakfasts as well as discounts on your stay altogether if park tickets are included. However, when I was in Paris and Orlando I stayed off-site to firstly save money as well as being able to see the city without the constraints of being within a certain area. As I only visited Disneyland and Walt Disney World for a day it worked out a lot cheaper when taking into consideration the price of the hotel, transport to and from the park as well as transport options to get to the airport.
Free Breakfast & Bringing Snacks Into The Park
Most hotels do offer free breakfast for guests staying, which can either be a continental breakfast or a full cooked breakfast (most of these hotels will offer buffet breakfasts). In most cases you’ll have breakfast included within the price of the hotel, which is an added bonus, since breakfast will most definitely fill you up for the first part of the day. When I stayed in Paris, I used the baguettes, cheese and ham provided at breakfast to make my own lunch as well as my family quickly catching on and following suit. Disneyland allows visitors to bring in their own food and drinks with exceptions on alcoholic drinks as well as food that needs to be heated or unprepared. Visitors are allowed to bring in sandwiches, small fruit bags and anything that their heart desires that follows Disneyland’s rules. When I was in Paris for my birthday I saw a family of around 20 bring out a slow cooker with as much food as the eye could see. I mean I’m not judging - you do you, but that really is a genius idea, especially with so many people.
Buy Souvenirs Before You Go
Visiting Disneyland means the unfortunate trip through the numerous gift shops placed around the park and strategically located outside the exit of rides and attractions. I splurged on a piece of clothing as it was my birthday and it set me back €40-50 but to this day it’s still my favourite jumper and has lasted well. However, small toys, plushies and even small items such as pens can cost visitors an arm and a leg - especially with children being the masters of persuasion and begging. If you use websites such as Amazon and eBay, then you can find items such as autograph books, frames as well as even personalised t-shirts for as little as £5. In shops such as Primark the whole family can get outfits for Disneyland at a price that will definitely won’t break the bank.
Bring A Small First Aid Kit & Other Essential Items
As much as this tip may sound extreme - do you know how hard it is to find plasters throughout Disneyland? Throughout the whole park there isn’t one shop that sells a small pack of plasters as they’re located in pharmacies outside of the park such as Val d’Europe (which will also cost a small fortune to get there and then back into the park by taxi). Plasters can cost as little as 70p in some shops and can even be bought in discount shops with Disney-themed plasters too. Children love running around, it’s all fun and games until they fall over and wobble over to you screaming in pain - if you had a plaster on you it saves the hassle of making your child wobble around the park trying to find one. Paracetamol costs around 30p in supermarkets and after a long day at Disneyland you may need it especially if you’ve spent all day there. Make sure to bring sunscreen with you if you’re spending all day in the heat, especially if you haven’t bought one which only needs one application to last the day. Even wet wipes save the day when children enjoy their food so much that it goes absolutely everywhere and even for a simple clean up after touching everything. A small sick bag does the trick too, even for me, as some rides are simply just too much for us all and leaves us feeling worse for wear afterwards.
Carry Reusable Water Bottles
Not only is carrying water important for those spending all day in the scorching sun to keep hydrated but also doubles up as a light refreshment throughout the day. There are tons of drinking fountains around Disneyland which beats paying the extortionate prices for a small bottle of water or even a soft drink. It’ll also save time going into certain shops and restaurants for a simple drink and most importantly it saves the environment! The amount of plastic wasted from those visiting Disneyland is ridiculous as well as those deciding to leave their waste all over the floor for others to step and trip on.
Bring Your Own Stroller/Wheelchair
Bringing your own stroller may seem completely obvious but for some the idea of lugging their stroller all the way to Disneyland seems like too much of an effort. Especially for those staying off-site who may have to use public transport to get into Disneyland - I understand how much of a nightmare than can be especially early in the morning. However, once I tell you the prices of renting out a stroller this will definitely make you think twice. The price to rent out a stroller for the day currently stands at €20 with a €75 deposit as well as the fact that by the time you get there they may all be rented out. The same price applies to wheelchairs - €20 with a €75 deposit.
Check The Weather Before You Go
As much as this tip might seem ridiculous in the sense of saving money, it’s very important as in the park umbrellas and ponchos will cost you more than loose change. If you check the weather beforehand, which can either be done by asking someone at reception or using your phone, you can see what you’ll need to pack instead of buying it at the park. If it’s sunny and hot then make sure you bring water, sunglasses, sunscreen and aftersun. On the other hand, if it’s raining and cold then make sure you wrap up warm and bring an umbrella or a poncho.
Using Public Transport Instead Of Renting A Car
For larger families it may seem the best option to rent a car while you’re at Disneyland but for those travelling by themselves or with a small group then I’d advise taking the cheaper option of public transport. Parking at Disneyland can be a tiresome effort as well as an expensive one, with prices ranging with the different parks but it can be as much as €45. Then from there it’s a long walk into the park - in Paris it took me around 20 minutes to get from the car park into the actual park as we used a coach service.
Annual passes are one of the best options for saving money at Disneyland and they’re not too expensive either. For Disneyland Paris an annual past costs as little as €179 which allows visitors 150 days throughout the year to visit. However, there are other options which are more expensive but offer discounts at shops, hotels, restaurants, PhotoPasses and even extra time in the park before it officially opens. The most expensive option is €449 but comes with a range of incredible benefits as well as allowing visitors to come and go whenever they please within the year. As a ticket to Disneyland Paris currently stands at £94.11 for a Super Magic Ticket (2 Parks/1 Day) - you’d only need to go twice to Disneyland to get your money’s worth.
If you have your heart set on getting professional pictures during your trip to Disneyland, then it’d be worth investing into a PhotoPass. As one photo currently costs €16 which allows a digital print for the visitor as well as giving a choice of frame, you’d only need to get 4 pictures taken to get your money’s worth as the PhotoPass is currently priced at €59.99 which allows visitors to get their photos digitally rather than in physical prints. It’s a win-win situation as you can develop these photos once you return home from your visit for as cheap as 40p a print as well as not having the task of carrying around the photos all day.
Disneyland Gift Cards
Gift cards make a wonderful present if you’re given money for Christmas and don’t know what to do with it - it doubles up as cards that your kids can spend in the park. Once the money’s gone - they know that they can't buy anything else so it makes them choose their souvenirs wisely. Additionally, in Disneyland parks there is a small fee for those wanting to withdraw money from ATMs so instead visitors should purchase a Disney gift card directly from one of the shops. Not only does this eliminate the small fee charged by ATMs but allows a budget for spending to take place. If you only put a certain amount on these gift cards, then once they run out you’ll know where your spending stops and can save money for your next trip to Disneyland.
Check Your Receipts
I’m sure we’ve all glanced at our receipts after spending money in Disneyland, to check how much our bank account will suffer after buying just a simple hamburger and a drink. Regardless, there’s an option to get discounts at specific retailers but the only downside is that you will need to purchase these goods on the same day. A small discount is better than no discount - especially if you plan to get a few souvenirs from Disneyland.
The Best Things In Life Are Free
Throughout Disneyland there are lots of different freebies that are mostly unknown to visitors. The first being a birthday badge or a first visit badge which you can get as soon as you enter the park in City Hall - it also doubles up as a souvenir. Watching the parades is also another free option which saves standing in the heat in endless queues but allows you to sit down, eat a quick snack and have a quick drink while enjoying everything Disneyland has to offer. Additionally, there’s small pieces of candy and sweets being offered if you go into the many sweet shops and places around Disneyland. It might be small but in all honestly it’s better than nothing when needing to satisfy a sweet tooth. During special events throughout the year there are free face painting opportunities and even crafts for kids to enjoy for free.
Disneyland offers all visitors the opportunity to connect to their WiFi which isn’t half bad - it’s fast, allowed me to check my emails as well as make FaceTime calls to my family and friends. For those who don’t have data roaming options with their phone plan then free WiFi not only saves money but would allow your battery to stretch out throughout the day. There’s apps available for each park you visit - which include an interactive map which uses your location to tell you the rides nearest to you and their current waiting times.
Read Up On Reviews
There’s nothing worse than going into a restaurant, having the worst meal imaginable and then having to pay an extortionate price for it. Luckily websites such as TripAdvisor come in handy here as hundreds of people have reviewed specific restaurants around Disneyland, with comments on the service, food and overall price. A quick search will be able to tell you if it’s worth it and more importantly if you’ll be getting the most for your money. There are hundreds of different forums within the website which helps if you have a dietary requirement or any allergies - people are more than happy to help other visitors to Disneyland who have been in the same position.
Even though I’ve visited lots of different countries, experienced different cultures as well as doing activities I could’ve only dreamed of - having a bucket list reminds us all of our achievements throughout our life. Searching through hundreds of different lists allowed me to make my own bucket list - with the main goal of completing mostly all or if I’m lucky all of them before I die. When I’m older I’ll be able to look back upon my list, with many of the goals crossed out and be able to see the highlights of my life. My bucket list does include personal goals as well as travel based goals. Throughout the upcoming years ahead I will update this blog post and my bucket list when I complete a specific goal - adding the date I completed it on.
Travel insurance, the one thing that us travellers always buy with the idea that it's an added layer of protection in case something unfortunately goes wrong during our holiday. However, a large number of people are unsure as to how they would go ahead and claim back on their travel insurance policy if they fall victim to theft, lost baggage or a delayed flight. Knowing how to claim on your travel insurance is important not only because it will reimburse money spent on medical bills or on the replacement of items but will avoid being stranded in another country.
What Can You Claim On and How?
Even though there's tons of different insurance providers offering a wide variety of insurance cover for specific incidents - the main features covered will include medical and personal injury, lost or stolen baggage, theft of personal items, cancellation or abandonment of a holiday as well as delays within the airline.
Claiming On Your Travel Insurance
What Happens If I'm Not Satisfied?
If you're not satisfied with the outcome of your claim, then firstly request a final letter of response from the insurance provider you took our your travel insurance with. This will outline their reasons for rejecting your claim as well as the date it was rejected. From there you can then take it to the Ombudsman, if you live in the UK, or a place such as Citizen's Advice or similar. An Ombudsman's job essentially is to resolve a complaint before it escalates and goes to court. The Ombudsman may take a while - I'm currently in the middle of a claim which has been going on for 3 months as I needed to provide additional information as well as the Ombudsman having thousands upon thousands of claims that need investigating. If you're then not satisfied with the service as you're unable to gain help then you can complain to the Ombudsman once again and from there research other organisations that may be able to help with your claim.
Before visiting New York, I spent hours and hours searching through different travel websites, blogs and forums to determine how much my trip to New York would cost me. Not only are there a range of different factors such as accommodation and flights but also other factors such as spending money, attractions and landmarks as well as many more! Even the smallest of things such as travel insurance can't be overlooked especially when travelling internationally, these prices seem to increase dramatically compared to visiting a country in the EU. I kept every single receipt from the moment I booked my flights and hotel to the moment I got on the plane at JFK which marked the end of my trip. There are 7 different factors which compiled my budget:
Flights to New York can be very cheap or very expensive depending on where you live - domestic trips are obviously going to be a lot cheaper than international flights. Luckily for me I was able to book return flights with British Airways, which included reserving a seat as well as purchasing WiFi for an hour, which cost £562.72. The flights itself was booked in September 2018 for July 2019 and as I travelled outside of school holidays as well as before Independence Day, my flights were reasonably cheaper compared to flights during late July and throughout August. I chose to go World Traveller (Economy) which allowed three bags: a small handbag, a small suitcase which counts as hand luggage and a larger suitcase (hold luggage). British Airways were absolutely incredible for both flights, I would recommend them for travelling comfortably for long-haul flights as well as their unbeatable prices. If you want to find out more information regarding my flight then click here to see my TripAdvisor review.
As New York attracts millions of tourists throughout the year, room rates can change depending on the month, season or if there's any holidays such as Independence Day or Thanksgiving. While searching for accommodation in New York I started by using the site Booking.com to narrow my search down for a hotel in New York rather than a hostel or apartment. From there I narrowed my search down to hotels that were located in Manhattan and those which were located near Midtown Manhattan as it would be in the centre of everything. From there I was still left with a long list of hotels each with their own unique selling point and ranging prices. From there I done my own research into the hotel's reviews from TripAdvisor, to which I'm so glad I did since some hotels may look absolutely spectacular but once you dig a little deeper this image quickly vanishes. Some hotels were reviewed to have bed bugs, guests being overcharged as well as having an unforgettable stay for the wrong reasons. I finally decided on the hotel I wanted to stay at: The Hilton Garden Inn/West 35th Street which cost £1058.26 which was per person, as there were two of us travelling. This price was based on a 9-night stay which included a double room with two double beds, an enormous bathroom and the room itself being spacious with lots of different amenities. The hotel prided itself on its 3-star rating as well as being part of the Hilton chain, a reputable chain that has hotels located all across the globe.
Transport was one of the cheapest factors I considered before even travelling to New York. While planning my itinerary I looked at where the location of certain shops, landmarks and attractions were and from there I researched how to get there from The Hilton Garden Inn. Another reason why I booked The Hilton Garden Inn was the vast variety of transport options, with Herald Square/34th Street being a stone's throw away from the hotel as well as having 8 different subway lines passing through the station. I had planned to buy a MetroCard with a 7-Day Unlimited Ride connected to it, which originally set me back $33 + $1 New MetroCard fee. I got more than my money's worth with my MetroCard as I was taking on average 5/6 journeys per day, doubling the amount I had paid for the card and saving me the hassle of topping up my card per ride. The card itself costs $1, which can be refilled throughout your time in New York. I also added extra credit to my MetroCard when travelling to New Jersey for the day to visit Newport Centre. Additionally, as I had travelled to and from the airport via the AirTrain and Long Island Rail Way (LIRR) that set me back an additional $13 per journey, dependant on the time of day I was travelling as well as my final destination. I only used the New York Subway, the LIRR and AirTrain throughout my trip with no private taxis taken - which brought my total for transport at £70.50.
One of the most important factors travellers should consider before booking their flights and accommodation for New York, or any holiday in general, would be purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance is so important as it prevents travellers from being out of pocket as well as being covered for their gadgets, baggage, flights or anything that may misfortune travellers throughout their trip and most importantly their health. As I say, you cannot put a price on health, but while buying travel insurance I was more than happy to pay £24.67 which was a Single Trip Insurance which covered mostly all of the factors mentioned above. I'm more than glad that I purchased travel insurance as while I was in New York I contracted a UTI (Bladder Infection) which left me in agony and unable to walk properly around 4 days into my trip. I paid upfront as I would then claim this money when I had returned from my holiday but it cost me $155 to see a doctor and from there $80 for antibiotics. I paid £24.67 and I'm in the process of reclaiming my money back rather than being £190 out of pocket if I hadn't purchased insurance.
Attractions & Activities
Attractions and activities can range in price depending on the budget of the person travelling as well as what they plan to do throughout their stay in New York. For example, if a traveller wants to see an NBA Game tickets can range from $25-40 for a seat whereas a ticket for a baseball game at Yankee Stadium can range from $15-230 depending on your choice of seating. The same rule applies for those wishing to visit a range of different museums while in New York, some museums such as The American Museum of Natural History operates on a pay-as-you-wish basis meaning visitors can pay anywhere from $1 to $30 if they wished (or even more). The 9/11 Museum & Memorial is a must see in New York and prices start at £20.78 if bought beforehand allowing visitors to skip the queue or buying tickets on the day for $26. Some attractions are free such as visiting Times Square, The Staten Island Ferry as well as visiting Central Park. However, those who may want to go on walking tours, those wanting to go up the Statue of Liberty and those wanting to spend more time sightseeing than shopping will spend more on activities and attractions. In total I spent £100.26 on attractions and activities in New York, which include visiting Central Park Zoo, The Empire State Building, 9/11 Museum & Memorial and The American Museum of Natural History. All tickets were booked in advance via GetYourGuide where you're able to buy tickets that allow visitors to skip the line as well as being able to modify or cancel these tickets before or during your trip.
This is the part of the blog where I hang my head in shame while I type out how much I spent during my time in New York. As I had planned to go absolutely crazy in New York on shopping I made sure that I'd sorted my clothes out before going to New York and donating some to charity as well as figuring out my size in the US (as it's very different than the UK). I went to every shop imaginable - from Bath and Body Works to Macy's to then TJ Maxx to get unbelievable deals and then to China Town to get souvenirs for my friends and family. It's all fun and games picking up items and putting them in your basket until everything has been rung up and the cashier declares your total is $112.32 - where did it all go wrong? I only picked up 15 shower gels, 32 hand sanitizers, 4 candles, 2 bottles of perfume and.. oh, I did buy a lot.. Throughout my stay in New York I spent the grand total of £479.85. Some people may not shop that much while in New York, this price applies to those who shop everyday and want to buy designer goods that are discounted in shops such as Macy's and TJ Maxx.
Food & Drink
It's very hard to determine how much travellers should budget when travelling to New York for food and drink. There are people who don't mind a $1 slice of pizza and a $3 hot-dog whereas there are others who prefer to dine in more fancier and therefore more expensive restuarants. I had three meals per day, breakfast, lunch and dinner and sometimes a quick snack. In this section of my budget I included snacks bought from Target and Walgreens to put in the fridge of my hotel room such as soft drinks, water, cookies and chocolate. It's also important to note that I turned 20 during my trip to New York, which meant I wasn't able to purchase or consume alcohol as the law restricts the age to consume and purchase alcohol at 21. Every person has different tastes in food as well as some having dietary requirements which makes it hard to pinpoint a budget for food and drink. I budgeted $50 per day:
TOTAL SPENT FOR 9 DAYS IN NEW YORK: £2,536.88 (Approximately $3,140)
As this was my first trip to New York I had planned that I would spend a lot, especially with accommodation and shopping, as I wouldn't have a chance to return back for the next few years. Nearly half of the money spent consisted of paying for the hotel, which would've been a lot more if I had decided to travel alone, as well as a huge majority being taken by purchasing flights. I'd chosen and preferred to fly with a airline such as British Airways as they provide a high quality service and I knew I would be in good hands. Others may prefer airlines that costs less whereas others may pay for more expensive airline tickets if they want to travel in style and luxury.
Whether you’re a first time flyer or someone who’s taken hundreds of flights, I think we can all agree that the process of getting through the airport and onto the plane can be stressful at times. Since airports can be very busy some passengers may feel overwhelmed and stressed when going through procedures such as checking in, going through security, finding your gate number and then making sure you board your flight on time. No one wants to do the walk of shame onto the plane after their names have been blasted throughout the airport for a last call.
Before Getting to The Airport
Before travelling to the airport there are numerous steps to making sure you can have a hassle free holiday and making sure that you have all bases covered in the event of an emergency. The first step would be making sure that you know your luggage restrictions, whether it be for hand luggage only or checked luggage, since airlines will charge you extra for an overweight bag. While checking your luggage restrictions it would be useful to check that you’ve packed everything you may need, even the smallest of things such as earphones or plug adaptors, I couldn’t imagine a four hour flight without my earphones. The most important items would be your passport, travel insurance and if required an ESTA or Visa. It would be advisable to double check what method of transport you’re going to use to get to the airport, whether it be public transport or a taxi service, to make sure that you have train tickets or confirmation from the taxi company to make your trip to the airport stress free.
There are three main ways to check-in at the airport. The most useful and efficient one would be to check-in online, with the advances in technology airlines allow passengers to check-in and gain access to their boarding pass ahead of time to save them the hassle in the airport. However, if you don’t have access to a printer or smartphone then there are two more ways of checking in at the airport - self-service kiosks or check-in counters. There are now numerous kiosks at the airport that allow passengers to check-in at the airport and from there print off their boarding passes at no extra cost to them. Different airports require different forms of information such as your booking reference number or the credit card you paid for the flights with to allow you to check-in and gain your boarding passes. If you’re not good with technology or don’t want the hassle then you can always go up to the check-in counters at the airport but be wary as there may be long queues if people have the same idea as you. Either way there is a specific time limit which allows a passenger to check-in - if you’re checking in online or in person but depends on that specific airline. A handy tip would be to research this before going to the airport as you’ll know how much time you have and can reach an estimate as to when best to get to the airport.
Another step that comes under checking in would be checking in any luggage you want to put under the plane for your journey. This would require the passenger to go either to the automated check-in facilities for luggage or to go to the check-in counters at the airport. Before checking your bag in it would be handy to check you have all of your essentials on you - your passport, ESTA/Visa, travel insurance documents, phone and any medication you may need. Airlines will scan your bags through an airport scanner so once again it would be handy to read up on what you can and cannot bring onto a plane. The obvious being weapons and flammable items but some other items such as liquids and gels over 100ml if they’re in your hand luggage. There is also the issue of size and weight - there are a wide range of different requirements for both hand luggage and checked luggage - if the bag is overweight or is bigger than the size dimensions listed then you will have to pay. Each airline has their own requirements so once again check ahead of time.
One of the most nerve wracking procedures for me at the airport is going through security - I have no idea why, I don’t have anything on me that I shouldn’t and I’m completely innocent. After reading that sentence back I can understand why I’m always asked to step aside and searched. There are numerous signs around the airport, which should be just past the check-in area, to guide you to where the security area is. In most airports there’s areas for which passengers can put their liquids into plastic bags which are transparent so the contents can be seen. If needed you can take a moment to gather your belongings ready for the x-ray machine to save you the hassle once you get there. Once past this point you may be asked to show your boarding pass or scan it under a machine to allow you entry. If you scan your boarding pass and it doesn’t let you through the main reason may be that you’re too late and automatic measures stop you from going through any further.
Once you’ve shown your boarding pass a member of staff will guide you to a queue. Don’t worry if the queues seem really long - it takes around a minute to get through security and there are usually lots of staff members on hand to help. Once you get to security area, before the metal detector, make sure you take everything out of your pockets that may trigger the metal detector or require the staff to search your body. Place your liquids in your plastic bag as well as your handbag or luggage in the box provided to you and then walk through the x-ray machine. If the staff members say nothing then you’re free to collect your luggage and then move on, if the staff members tell you to step to the side then you will be searched and if nothing is found you will be sent on your way. If you are searched then you will have a member of staff from the same sex doing it and it will be as simple as a pat down of your body. The worst part about this for me is that I’m very ticklish - smiling and laughing while being searched has never worked out in my favour. Numerous times I’ve had my hand luggage searched and drug swabs have been taken - nothing has been found though! If this happens to you then do not fret - this happens to many passengers while travelling and in most cases it’s a random check on passengers bags. Once you have gotten through the x-ray machine and security then there’s an area for you to gather your belongings and sit down before venturing through the airport.
After going through security the next step would be simply to relax, grab something to eat and do some shopping. Different airports have different facilities but most airports have numerous screens which will inform you what time your boarding gate will be announced and from there the actual gate number. In most restaurants there will be screens located inside or just outside - allowing you to grab a bite to eat without the stress of thinking you may miss your flight. There are lots of seating areas at the airport as well as complimentary WiFi allowing passengers to check their emails or update their Facebook status that they’re going on holiday. Some airlines email you when your gate has been announced or notify you through their own app - a handy feature but to be safe I’d always check the screens before making my way to the gate. Once your gate has been announced you should make your way to it, these gates can close up to 15 minutes before departure (even though you’re in the airport and through security).
Once you’ve reached the gate it’s handy to check on the screens that this gate is going to your chosen destination. There have been instances where gates have changed and some passengers have been left behind as they hadn’t realised this and were left sitting in another gate. A member of staff will ask you to provide your passport and boarding pass, to which you’ll then be allowed to sit down and wait to be asked to board the plane. If you’re travelling on a long haul flight then passengers may be called in terms of groups - the last being economy and the first obviously being first class. Either way the group number or letter will be clearly stated on your boarding pass. If you’re unsure then don’t hesitate to ask a member of staff as they’re there to help. You will then be directed through a chute connected to the plane or you may have to walk to the plane itself and walk up a flight of stairs.
Once You’re On The Plane
Once you’ve got onto the plane the first person you’ll see is a member of the cabin crew who will check your boarding pass and direct you to your seat. Once you’ve found your seat waste no time in putting your larger hand luggage in the overhead lockers and sit down. One of the things I hate is standing behind someone who takes hours to make put their luggage in the overhead lockers and creates a queue behind them. Once you’ve sat down, fasten your seat belt and make sure smaller hand luggage is stowed below the seat in front of you. The cabin crew will walk throughout the plane to make sure everyone has their seat belt on and all necessary items are stowed away before informing passengers of the safety procedures. These procedures are very important, such as putting your phone on aeroplane mode to making sure passengers know what to do if there’s an emergency landing, so make sure you give your full attention to the cabin crew. The sign for the seat belts will be turned off and the food carts will start their journey throughout the plane around 20-30 minutes from take off. This allows passengers to walk around and also use the toilets while on-board. Before disembarking the plane make sure you have everything you need. Enjoy your travels!
We've all been there - you're confident and proud of your packing skills to only realise that your suitcase won't shut. I've been there. With me having to sit on friends and families suitcases to make sure they close shut with the silent prayers that their suitcase doesn't bust open and the contents fly everywhere. We've also all been there when we've brought too much, we all have the sweats going up to the counter to have our bags dropped off and praying that the attendant won't announce my bags are overweight. Luckily for me she's talking about the bags and not me. With these packing tips you'll wonder why you never thought of these before and will have no more worries about items fitting in your suitcase or it being overweight.
Making a Packing List
As simple as it seems making a list can be one of the most helpful tips when packing for a holiday. Write down everything you may need from clothes to medications and toiletries. I would firstly write down how many days you're travelling for as well as the climate of that certain region or country. From there you can decide what clothes would be appropriate to take with you. From there you can work out how many toiletries you'll need - I'm sure you don't need a whole bottle of shampoo and conditioner for a three day vacation. That's why shops sell travel bottles - they're reusable and can save a lot of weight when travelling with hand luggage or checked luggage. You can also take this list away with you so when you're packing your suitcase to return home, you can make sure you have all items you came with. I've left so many iPhone chargers in hotel rooms since I simply overlook it when packing to return home - it also prevents me from charging my phone on the way back home. Try making 40% last for a four hour journey when you've download a film and two episodes of Ru Paul's Drag Race to watch while on the flight.
Know Your Limits!
It would be advisable to check with your airline how much luggage you're allowed and it's weight, whether it's hand luggage only or whether you're allowed to put a checked piece of luggage under the plane. For example, some flights with EasyJet only allow a customer to bring just a suitcase or weekend bag within specific measurements as well as a small purse or bag. There is no weight limit but you need to make sure that you can lift the bag above your head when putting it in the overhead lockers. However, with airlines such as British Airways hand luggage is limited to 23kg on long haul flights as well as 23kg for checked luggage. Limits and sizes change with airline, it would be better to check and buy a scale to weigh your bags rather to pay extra to have your bag accepted onto the plane. Something no one wants to fork out for since these prices can start from £30 for one piece of luggage being overweight.
Wear Your Heaviest Clothes
If you're travelling to somewhere cold, for me this was Iceland, wear everything that would take up the most space in your suitcase. When I travelled to Iceland I wore a vest top, a hoodie, a thick jacket as well as snow boots since these items would've taken up all the space in my suitcase alone. Even putting my gloves in my pocket saved extra space in my suitcase as they were quite thick. But don't go too overboard like one passenger did where they bought a jacket that held all of their items to prevent them from going over the weight limit and save space in their suitcase. Just use common sense, whatever seems the heaviest and takes up the most space - consider if wearing it would be an advantage.
Leave Extra Space in Your Suitcase
We've all done it, packed everything perfectly back into our suitcase when returning from holiday to then look and see loads of small gifts and presents still needing to be packed. When travelling leave some room for souvenirs or gifts, you'll accumulate more than you think! The tip above applies once again - even if you wear a jumper on the way home and from that have space for items you've bought. If you've bought smaller items such as snow globes or magnets, put them in the pockets of your hoodies in your suitcase or put them inside a t-shirt that can be rolled. This barely takes up any space and allows your valuables to be safely protected when you return home.
Carry a Bag of Essentials With You
If you're allowed to keep your hand luggage with you throughout your journey - which can be small suitcase or a weekend bag - put your essentials in it and an outfit if your checked luggage is lost or misplaced. For example, I'd keep a bra, change of underwear, leggings, a t-shirt, socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste as well as a hairbrush in my hand luggage so I'd be able to live out of my hand luggage until my checked luggage turns up. This happened to a family member of mine when we travelled to Iceland - she had her child with her and the suitcase with all the clothes and nappies went missing as well as the pram breaking upon touchdown. An absolute nightmare when you're abroad with a young child without nappies, clothes and other essentials especially when you haven't packed an extra bag.
Roll Your Clothes!
This idea is simply brilliant - instead of folding your clothes, roll them. This is a game changer in the sense that you won't believe how many clothes you'll be able to fit in and you'd be able to see what clothes you're bringing with you from a quick glance. Rolling your clothes will also reduce the chances of them creasing - another handy tip would be to use vacuum bags if you really want to save even more space and reduce the likelihood of creasing even more. Even though you obviously can't fold shoes, you can put socks in your shoes to keep their shape as well as save more space in your suitcase. If you have a pair of sandals or flip flops then simply place them either side of your clothes along the edges of your suitcase - you won't even know that they're there!
Try a Test Run
If your airline requires you to place your hand luggage in the overhead lockers then make sure you can actually lift your suitcase above your head. In some videos I've seen airlines asking passengers to make sure they can lift their own bag before boarding the plane - something you don't want to do when you're just about to board your flight and go on holiday. If you can't lift your luggage over your head then go back and review what's weighing down your suitcase. If you find a heavy item that's causing the problem then go ahead and see if it's worth wearing it on the way out there. The same tip applies for when you'll be dragging your suitcase around the airport as well as on the way to your accommodation. If you find it difficult to do this then it may be worth investing in a suitcase with four wheels to spread the weight of your luggage as well as making it easier to transport.
If you're travelling with a hidden disability or condition, travelling may require extra support for some. The sunflower lanyard is a symbol to which allows members of staff, either working at airports or at train stations, to recognise that they may need additional assistance during their journey. By wearing a sunflower lanyard an individual is allowed to go throughout their journey independently but has the option of knowing that members of staff are on hand throughout your journey to support them. In a sense passengers can notify staff discretly that they may have anxiety, ADHD, dementia or a visual impariement as well as any other conditions. This allows privacy for the person wearing the sunflower lanyard as they do not need to state or disclose their condition but the sunflower lanyard represents this. Members of staff are notified that people wearing a sunflower lanyard may need assistance and have been trained to recognise that a passenger may need additional help throughout the different parts of their journey.
The best part about the sunflower lanyard is that it's completely free and reusable, they can be used on other journeys throughout airports or train stations and even in supermarkets such as Sainsbury's. Wherever you go the sunflower has become a symbol for hidden disabilities, something that is important for passengers with hidden disabilties since they can range from being a physical condition to a mental condition that could cause distress or make a journey stressful. As I suffer from anxiety this lanyard brings me extra comfort and security knowing that if needed help members of staff would be there to assist me throughout my journey. I've had panic attacks in the airport before as well as feeling extremely anxious, with no members of staff being able to help me, but now since I have a sunflower lanyard this represents that I may need additional help throughout my journey. This simply could be redirecting me to a shorter queue through security or assistance while boarding the plane. My only problem with this sunflower lanyard is that one size does not fit all - different people may need different forms of help and assistance throughout their visit, it depends on what disability the passenger has. Additionally, in the past I have had panic attacks on flights where I've cried for two hours straight, my body was shaking and even passengers intervened to see if I was okay - no members of staff on the plane intervened at all even though they could see I was physically distressed. I wasn't wearing a sunflower lanyard at the time but I still expected some form of assistance as it made the journey a horrible experience for both me and other passengers on the plane.
How to Get a Sunflower Lanyard
There are a range of ways to get a sunflower lanyard or another object to represent hidden disabilities, you can either pick them up at the airport or have them delivered to your home address before you fly. The airports and train companies offering this lanyard currently are:
More information can be found here:
Before booking up a hotel I read reviews and see what people think about the hotel and their experience there. Even for certain excursions and services I read reviews to see whether or not it would be a worthwhile experience for me as well as seeing if it's worth the price advertised. There are hundreds of websites dedicated to storing reviews so that they're readily available whenever someone wants to read them. My favourite website for reading and posting reviews would be Trip Advisor, I have used it for many years and have avoided certain places that look attractive and stylish but end up leaving people upset and unsatisfied with their stay. There are other websites that I frequently use such as Trust Pilot and Booking.com as well as reading the reviews while on Google Maps. Even though reviews can be helpful, some reviews become biased on experience and for situations and events that the place simply couldn't help. For example, if the hotel is in a busy area then it may have good transport links but the obvious being that it may be a little loud at times, especially if there's a special occasion and event in that specific country. This blog post lays an outline as to how to write a review that includes details that will help other travellers and will put out a fair opinion on the hotel you're visiting.
In this sense you may note down whether it's walking distance from any popular landmarks as well as noting down the transport links available. You may include your experience getting to and from the hotel, if you used public transport and if you got a taxi from the airport you could also include how much the fare cost. It would be helpful to add photos from outside the hotel room, in Paris from my hotel window I could see the Eiffel Tower, which added more value into my review as it gave me beautiful views throughout my stay. Reviews that I enjoy reading are ones that state if there are any shops nearby and any popular restaurants, from there it allows other people to research this restaurant and see if the shops around them would suite their needs throughout their stay. It's very important to explain the surrounding area it's in as well as explaining whether or not you felt safe in that particular area especially if you were walking there early in the morning or late at night.
When checking in make sure you make note of the time you got to the hotel, if you arrived at the hotel too early and most importantly before the check-in time then don't be surprised if the hotel turns you away and asks for you to come back later. In some reviews people may express anger and frustration that their rooms were not ready when they arrived but some fail to state that they arrived too early, if they had arrived after the check-in time and their room was not ready then that's simply a fault on the part of the hotel. Throughout your check-in process it would be handy to note whether the staff at the reception were friendly to you as well as if the process of checking in and out was simple and quick. In some lucky occasions some travellers review that they were given a free bottle of champagne and chocolates upon arrival but some people may be disappointed that this didn't happen to them upon arrival. The reason behind this being is that hotels like to celebrate special occasions such as wedding anniversary's and mile stone birthdays. If you do receive anything from the reception desk as well as if you find anything in your room, it would be helpful to other travellers to write down the reason you received these complementary gifts so that other travellers don't have high expectations when arriving as well as from there leaving a bad review for the hotel. If you do check-in late at the hotel then it would be important to note whether the hotel has a 24 hour reception or whether it's open until a certain time. This saves travellers the hassle and fuss of trying to ring up a number to get the key to their room if the reception closes before their arrival.
In most reviews the first thing you will read is whether or not the bed was comfy, the million dollar question, which for some people is a make or break as to whether they stay at that hotel. Travellers may complain that the bed is too hard or too soft but when writing a review all you simply need to note is whether the bed was comfy, hotels can't cater to everyone's mattress preferences. Another handy tip would be to describe the decor, if you like it then that's great - there will be other people who have similar tastes that will also enjoy it. If you don't like the decor then you must have a reason behind it such as if the wallpaper is ripping or if there's chippings on the desk included with your room. You can't simply write that you hate the rooms decor simply because it isn't to your taste, once again the hotel cannot cater to everyone's tastes so they try their best to find a middle ground for their customers. If you have a TV in the room then it would be helpful to note down what channels come with it and whether any of them included English speaking channels or channels that you're able to watch and understand. The room sizing is also an important part of a review but it's important to note what hotel room you have booked, if you have booked up a standard room then the room will have enough space for one or two beds, room to put your suitcase as well as having room to move around - don't expect space to start doing cartwheels and running around. Did the room you were staying in have features such as a wardrobe or a place to hang up your clothes as well as a safe to store your valuables? (most hotels include a safe within the wardrobe). If on the hotel website the hotel clearly states that they don't include a safe in the rooms then there is no need to express your disappointment in a rude way. The option would be to recommend to the hotel and other travellers that the hotel doesn't include a safe in the rooms, which would be an option for the hotel to consider, but mentioning that the hotel clearly states this on their website. If you're staying in a hot country then it would be important to state whether the hotel has air conditioning and whether this was enough to allow you to stay cool throughout your stay as well as if it was loud. The reason behind this being that some people are very sensitive to noise and may not be able to sleep if they can constantly hear the sound of an air conditioner in their room. Photos are one of the most helpful part of a review since travellers can clearly see what a review is referring to - if there's dirt in the room and showing the facilities within the room. Even though adding photos from the view from your room is helpful to some travellers, it's important to note that you are staying in one room with one set view, other rooms may have an even better or worse view. If you want to help other travellers then you can add a handy tip such as, if you want a good view of the London Eye then I would recommend requesting a room with that view or on the 7th floor.
Most hotels offer small shampoos, conditioners, shower gels and small packets of soap to their guests, this would be handy to include in your review whether the hotel provided any of these things (which would benefit travellers that are travelling light). Some travellers may review that there wasn't enough towels in the room, a fair point to make, but it's simple to get more towels - phone up or go down to reception and politely ask for some more (problem solved!). If you're staying in a 4 or 5 star hotel then you may be lucky enough to be supplied with gowns throughout your stay, many people may find this appealing as the star rating of the hotel reflects on the necessities and items within the room. One of my favourite products that I found in a hotel room was sanitary bags, something that most hotels don't offer, but this small touch made me feel a lot more comfortable and gave me a hygienic way to dispose of my sanitary products. The most important review of a bathroom would be whether it's clean - we all have different standards of what clean is - but the bottom line is would the bathroom and shower be clean enough for use and would you be comfortable using it. It would be important to note whether the hotel supplies you with a hairdryer, which is normally located in the bathroom, since then it saves travellers bringing their own. However, when I've read reviews that a hotel includes a hairdryer, this hairdryer has turned out to have very little power and to be very weak - making it unusable since I have very thick and long hair. Shower pressure is another thing that many people consider important in a review, especially since some people may be concerned about their water usage to help the environment whereas others prefer a higher and stronger water pressure when using the shower.
Facilities & Services
Many travellers overlook including the different types of facilities and services in their review mainly because they never used them so they thought not to include them. Even if you don't use the facilities such as the spa, swimming pool or Jacuzzi, another traveller may benefit from knowing that these facilities are at the hotel especially if they're staying at the hotel for long period of time. The utter most important part of a review that my eyes scan for first is whether the hotel offers WiFi - either paid or free. If the hotel offers free WiFi then I expect it to cover most areas of the hotel, including my room and the dining areas of the hotel if I chose to use them. If the hotel offers the option of paid WiFi, in which you decide to purchase and use, it would be helpful for you to give a comparison of whether the paid WiFi had a better speed and whether it was overall worth the cost. If you have housekeeping then most likely you will bump into them throughout your stay or when you're walking through the hotel. Did the housekeeping replenish all the items that were used up, such as toilet rolls and used towels, or did they miss it out? If they did miss it out then once again it's important to review this in the sense that this could've been a one off and an error as well as commenting whether you got the problem resolved. Then the person reading the review can sum up whether the hotel does this constantly or whether it was a one off incident. A small majority of hotels don't offer parking, which is stated on their website, but many people forget to research this before their stay and sometimes forget they have booked a rental car. If the hotel does offer parking then you can include the rates of parking that the hotel charge and the location of the parking. For example, some hotels may offer parking underneath the building whereas others may have a car park located opposite the hotel or in some cases even down the next street.
As much as price isn't an issue for some travellers as paying more may mean a more luxurious hotel as well as a higher star rating. However, price is an important factor for a number of reasons and it must be reviewed carefully. The reason behind this being is that if you state that you paid an awfully high rate for the hotel room, state the dates you stayed there and how long ago you booked the hotel room - if you book during the summer holidays and a few days before the trip then prices will be at an all time high. This would be a chance for you to help travellers save money by stating the best seasons to travel as well as including how you booked a room - if you book through the hotel it might be cheaper and the hotel may include some free gifts as well as offering you a code to get discount on your next stay. When reviewing the price it's important to work out whether the star rating, facilities and services offered by the hotel as well as the room itself matches the price you're paying for the room per night. If you're paying a very small price then don't be surprised when the star rating matches the quality of the room as well as the facilities and services offered.
Most hotels offer a free continental or cooked breakfast, in some cases you may be lucky and receive both, which is becoming more frequent and common among hotels. The price of the breakfast is usually included in the room rate, which is an added bonus, but it's important to note if there was a wide variety of food that would suite everyone's tastes. If you are offered a free continental breakfast then you may receive nothing more than cereal, toast and yogurt, which is standard and reasonable since you're enjoying a free breakfast from the comfort of your hotel. If you do decide to eat the breakfast offered then state what food items were offered as well as whether they were replenished. Some hotels unfortunately stop replenishing food items after a certain time, which leads me to the point of mentioning that reviewers should state what time they went down to breakfast. If you were the first one to go down to breakfast when it opened then you'll get first choice of the food and have more choice whereas if you go to breakfast minutes before it's over then don't be surprised that there's little options available. If you do have to pay for the breakfast then you can really go into detail to whether the breakfast was worth the money since you're paying for it. In my opinion if the breakfast is included within the room rate I don't like to complain as this I'll eat anything that's included within the price of the room - I'm grateful that it's free as it saves me money throughout my stay. If you decide to have dinner at the hotel the same rules apply, comment on whether you enjoyed the food and whether it was worth it when in contrast to the prices they charged.
If you did have any problems at the hotel it's important to highlight it - to show how the hotel dealt with it and to see if the solution was quick and efficient. Did they sort the problem out? If they did then highlight the member of staff that was helpful enough to help you resolve your problem as well as in what way did they solve your problem. If they didn't then highlight the steps you took to get your issue resolved and what the hotel said in response to that. If you include in your review that you had a problem in most cases the hotel will reply to your review where you can reach out to them and explain your situation. Hotels do this as they don't want negative feedback on their hotel for problems that could've been sorted while the guest was staying there. If there's anything that you think the hotel could improve on then give them constructive criticism as to what they could do to make the next guests stay even better than yours. Hotels often appreciate customer feedback as they're constantly striding to provide the best experience for their guests and keep them returning.
The last part of your review should sum up your experience at the hotel. Did you enjoy your stay? If so then highlight the main reasons as to why you enjoyed it and if not then highlight the reasons that your stay wasn't as good as it could've been. Would you end up coming again? Another point to conclude on would be to praise the people that prided themselves in putting your satisfaction and enjoyment as their priority throughout your stay. One kind message goes a long way and the person working at the hotel, whether it be a member of staff or housekeeping, would really appreciate your kind words.
Tips and tricks for all aspects of travelling, most of which include saving money.