Archives

The Easiest Ways you can Save Money on Travelling (and still have a great time)

Travel Blog, Travel Tips - Ross French - July 2, 2020

Everyone should have the opportunity to travel the world. Sadly, for many people, it’s the potential cost of heading across the world that stops them from achieving their travel dreams. Flights, accommodation, food, activities as well as money for emergencies…the costs quickly add up.

However, despite common misconceptions about travel it is entirely possible to travel the world on a limited budget and even save yourself some money in the process. Want to know more? Here we’ve gathered some of the easiest ways you can save money on travelling (and still have a great time)!

First of all…

Creating a travel budget is something all travellers must do. Otherwise, you’ll have no idea where you can afford to go, how much you’ll have to spend and how long you can stay for before you run out of money. Creating a simple budget will ensure you make the most out of your money, avoid overspending and make better travel choices to make your money go further. Try a budget calculator to get you started.

Avoid peak times

Thinking of making travel plans for summer? Or around public holidays? It’ll cost you a fortune and you’ll probably spend most of your budget before you’ve even stepped foot on a plane. Avoiding peak times means that you’ll get to visit your intended destination but without the crowds, tourists and the hefty price tag. Do some research into the quiet months of the year and consider your options.

Be clever with your accommodation location

Sure, the cheapest hostel or hotel is on the outskirts of town, but the cost of travelling to places of interest or a nice restaurant probably negates your potential saving. It’s also inconvenient and time-consuming. When searching for accommodation, look for a location that’s within walking distance of areas you’d like to explore. Don’t forget to compare prices on hotel comparison sites.

Eat like the locals

Chain restaurants and tourist hotspots will charge a fortune. Whereas street food and smaller, local cafes and bars provide a much more authentic and budget-friendly option. Trying new cuisine plays a huge part in the travelling experience, but you shouldn’t have to break the bank to do it. Eating like a local means you get the best of both worlds. Speak with hostel/hotel staff about food recommendations.

Cook your own food

Choosing to stay somewhere that has kitchen facilities means that you can save money on eating out every single day and enjoy a home-cooked meal. If you shop at local markets – even just a few days a week – then you’ll be able to save money and eat something with some nutritional value!

And finally, consider getting a job

If you want to extend your stay overseas, then why not find some work to fund your stay? Bar and restaurant work is ideal. Alternatively, there’s fruit and flower picking, working in resorts or even working your job remotely on the other side of the world could be an option. If you’re planning on working overseas, it’s much better to secure a role before you travel.

Continue Reading

Top destinations to visit in the Middle East

Travel Blog - Ross French - May 7, 2020

Most people think of the Middle East as just a place with sun, sand, and shriveled land, but there is much more in this enchanting land. From majestic historical ruins, magnificent architectural treasures to exquisite beaches, man-made marvel, and gastronomical delights, the Middle East is a treasure trove of beautiful destinations that should definitely be a part of any traveler’s bucket list. And what’s more, travel to most of the places is easy with frequent flights operating through Saudi Airlines. Here is a list of places that you should definitely consider while planning your next vacation to this mystical, ancient region of the Middle East.

1. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

The historic city of Jeddah was the capital of Saudi Arabia till 1982 when it was moved to Riyadh. Today, this culturally rich and beguiling city is the melting pot of all the races of the Red Sea. Often dubbed as the gateway for pilgrimages to Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the city has a lot to offer to tourists. Take a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Gate to Mecca, be mesmerized by King Fahd’s fountain, claimed to be the tallest fountain in the world, or simply soak in the balmy weather at the beach resorts up the coast.

2. Madinah, Saudi Arabia

Madinah, also known as Medina, is part of Saudi Arabia’s expansive desert terrain. It is second only to Mecca in terms of religious significance for Muslims, but it is one of the best to showcase the culture and traditions of Saudi Arabia. The city has a lot to offer to travelers – from ancient monuments to the cultural traditions of the land. A must-visit is the Masjid-e-Nabawi, where the Prophet has been laid to rest. The 7-mosques is also a place worth visiting. A small complex of six small mosques, it depicts the history of the place.

3. Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia, one of the most traveled destinations in Turkey, is straight out of a fairy tale where natural beauty blends beautifully with stunning historical monuments. Most popular for unique geological features called fairy tale chimneys, these swirling volcanic-rock landscapes swoon in tourists from all over the world. Some of the must-see places in this enchanting city are villages carved out of the hillsides, Byzantine-era rock-cut churches with magnificent frescoes, and a labyrinth of underground cities. A must-do while here is the hot air balloon ride to get a bird’s-eye view of the valleys and the incredible rock formations.

4. Cairo, Egypt

Cairo has millions of visitors all year round, tempting them with breathtaking architecture, grand historical monuments, and myriad archaeological sites. The Sphinx and the iconic Pyramids are a must-do when you are in the sprawling capital of Egypt. A visit to the vast Egyptian Museum, treasure trove of antiquities is a must-visit too. Also, be ready to be charmed by Midan Tahrir, called the “Paris on the Nile” and enchanted by Old Cairo, home to Egypt’s Coptic Christian community. The best part is that there are many cheap flights operating from all over the world to Egypt, making traveling easy.

Conclusion

Whenever traveling to the Middle East, remember to carry the required travel gear to make your holiday comfortable and hassle-free. The Middle East is a cradle of civilizations, home to some of the most spectacular places. Here, history is not written in books but littered in places all around. From the ancient relics found in Cairo, to the tombs and mosques in Madinah and Jeddah, and the volcanic-rock landscapes in Cappadocia, here is where you will find that the past is always present as history and is the heart and soul of the land.

Continue Reading

Taipei Travel Guide

China - Ross French - May 7, 2020

Taiwan is divided into several major provinces. For most of the tourists, you will want to pick one of the following two places as your first destination: Taipei and Xinbei, which is commonly known as the northern part of Taiwan; or Kaohsiung and Tainan, which is known as the Southern part.

While many other options exist, you would want to stay within Taipei for their first trip to Taiwan. This is, therefore, a detailed guide showing your way around Taipei.

Traveling and Accommodations

After getting off the plane at Taoyuan Airport, you would have four options: Take the Taoyuan High-Speed Railway, the Taoyuan MRT, Airport bus or Taxi. You will most likely arrive at the Taipei MRT Station if you intend to take any of the public mass transport.

The Taxi is fairly priced – assuming that you are dropping off at Taipei Station, the taxi fare would roughly be 600NT. If you would like to get to your hotel directly, taxis are usually the way to go.

The High-Speed Rail is the fastest (probably even faster than taxi) but also the costliest out of the rest three. MRT and the bus take the same time, so it would depend on your preference. One thing’s for sure: There are so many English signs in the airport to guide your way. You are very unlikely to get lost.

Once you are in the city, you should primarily use the MRT (the local Metro system) to travel around. Most of the city’s attractions are easily accessible using the MRT, but note that the metro system is complex and is considered quite confusing for many first-time visitors, so be prepared to get lost a few times. You can keep on using Taxi or calling Uber, or hop on a bus to experience the city. Also, Taipei is a very walkable city, and you should be able to walk from places to places if you know your way around. It’s your choice!

One last thing: The rate of hotel rooms caters to all markets and rooms are available every time of the year. If you don’t know where to look, hotels near Ximending and Taipei Station, possibly Wanhua and Zhongxiao Dunhua districts are your safest bets.

Attractions

Many of the biggest and most important landmarks in Taiwan, such as the Taipei 101, National Palace Museum and The National Taiwan University are within the city.

Taipei 101 is the tallest building of Taiwan. It is 101 floors high—hence the name—and the top floors comprise two observation decks. This is one of the sleekest buildings of the city, and the best place to have a bird’s-eye view of the city. After you’ve enjoyed the view from above, you should also have a look at the lower floors—it is a mall with a huge food stall serving international food.

The National Palace Museum is not the same as the one in Beijing. They share the same Chinese name (Gu-Gong—literally translated as ‘the old palace’) and have a similar focus: Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks dated back to the Ming and Ching dynasty. While the scale of collection in Taipei is much smaller than the one in Beijing, this is still one of the biggest collections of Chinese artwork out of the world. If you are into art and Chinese culture, check it out.

Lastly, there is the National Taiwan University, which is known as NTU. NTU is the Harvard of Taiwan. While you may not enter campus’ building (Unless you have been invited by someone from the campus), you may take photos on the outskirts of this historical campus. CD shops, book stores and eateries are scattered around here, so even if you are not going inside the campus, there’s no harm in walking around.

Shopping

When compared with other parts of Taiwan, Taipei is well known for being a shopper’s Heaven. SOGO, atre, Shin Kong Mitsukoshi are just some upscale big malls in The Shinyi commercial circle. In there, you should be able to find all the international big brands you know and love.

Taipei is also known for its underground shopping malls. The Taipei Underground Shopping Mall hosts shops that sell tourist goods and souvenirs. It is also famous for selling Japanese Comics, novels, video games and related goods.

One place you should definitely visit would be Ximending, which is a pedestrian walkway a-la ‘night market’. While the business here usually starts in the afternoon, in the evening, Ximending kicks into another gear. You will most likely find people queuing for bubble tea and restaurants, while the shops sell an array of souvenirs and clothing items. Wallets, bags, accessories, clothes, Taiwanese snacks, and many traditionally related goods that can furnish your rooms, can easily be found here.

As for your souvenir wish list, Food is usually your safest bet. Pineapple Cakes, Tea leafs, ‘pork papers’ (pork jerkies which are thin as a piece of paper—this is super crunchy) are some most sought after items that will satisfy even your pickiest friends.

One thing you might not have expected would be books—Taiwan has quite the literature scene. If you know a friend who can read Chinese, why not buy him a book of Yang Mu, one of the greatest modern poets in Taiwan?

With so much to buy and enjoy in Taipei, why not book your tickets now? Fly to Taipei now with Cathay Pacific.

Food

Even without mentioning, you should have heard about bubble tea by now, which is a variant of milk tea with tapioca balls added on, served cold. You will see people drinking this popular drink once you’ve touched down, as bubble tea shops can be found literally everywhere—including the Taoyuan airport.

Besides bubble tea, you would most likely want to taste some local snacks and food. Some of the stuffs you should definitely try include:

1. Xiaolongbao/Meat dumplings

The term literally translated as ‘small cage buns’. It is, however, not a bun, but meat dumplings with soups inside, wrapped in a very thin layer of skin that’s almost translucent. This item does not originate from Taiwan, but it is very popular there.

2. Beef Noodles

While the Beef served with the noodles is nice, what makes a bowl of beef noodles shines is the soup, which could have taken over 24 hours to prepare. Luckily, you don’t have to wait for 24 hours for your bowl, as Beef Noodles can be found in most of the places in Taiwan.

3. Oyster vermicelli

While the name might trick you into thinking this is a noodle dish, this is more like a soup or a snack. Small pebbles of oysters and vermicelli are the main ingredients. Pig intestines are often added. If you think this is some odd Asian flavor, wait until you taste the Umami flavor on the soup, which is usually based on fish stocks or bonito flakes. You will be pleasantly surprised.

4. Fried Chicken cutlet

We are not referring to the American style Wings or the Korean style chicken nuggets, or any of the stuff you have in KFC. Taiwanese like their chicken cutlet fried and sprinkled with spiced salt, sometimes with paprika. It is spicy, crispy and juicy. In short: It’s finger licking good.

You can find many of the food listed here in any of the ‘night markets’ in Taipei. Shilin night market, Shi-Da Night Market and Raohe Street Night Market are some places where you can start looking.

In Conclusion

There is really nothing stopping you from visiting Taiwan. So what are you waiting for? Book your tickets to Taipei now.

Continue Reading

Kickstart your Travel Funds with These Simple Saving Ideas

Travel Tips - Ross French - April 25, 2020

Dreaming of travelling the world? What’s stopping you? For most, it’s the cost. From flight tickets to other transport, hotels and hostels, activities, insurance, souvenirs, drinks, food, even your travel supplies, it all adds up to a pretty hefty amount. Sadly, it’s this large sum that puts many people off the idea of travelling.

I’ll never save as much money as that! That’s a crazy amount – it’s just not worth it!

Sound familiar? The truth is that regardless of how much money you might need, travelling is money well spent. So, how can you save money for your travel adventures? Here we’ll look at how you can kickstart your travel funds with these simple saving ideas.

Invest in an ISA

An ISA is a special kind of saving account where you can deposit as much as 20k a year, without having to pay a penny on tax. Meaning that your money works hard to earn you interest! Click here to find out more about ISAs and how to find the right one for you. The money you save each month can be placed in your ISA and saved over time until you’re ready to hit the road. It’s a simple yet effective way to save and travel.

Sell those unwanted belongings

If you’re going to be on the road for a while, then it might make sense to get rid of a lot of your old belongings and utilise the money for your travels instead. From old clothes to accessories, even home décor items, shoes, books and tech. Check out eBay, Craigslist and Facebook marketplace for a captive buying audience. Remember – one mans trash is another man’s treasure!

Work even more

If overtime or more shifts are available, then you should consider taking them on and putting your earnings straight into your travel fund. If extra shifts aren’t possible right now, then don’t worry you can make money by participating in online surveys, earning cash back on certain goods, or even utilising your skills and talents and selling your own products and services online. E.g. arts and crafts, voiceover work, logo design etc.

Cut out the miscellaneous spends

Unless you’re buying it for your trip, you don’t need it. Including vices such as cigarettes and even alcohol. Video games, new clothes, books, nights and meals out, handbags etc. It might seem a little difficult at first, but if you keep your travel goal in mind you’ll know that it’s all going to be worth it in the end.

Continue Reading

10 Fun and Free Things to Do in Sarasota

Travel Blog - Ross French - April 7, 2020

Are you wondering about going on a trip to Sarasota and curious to find out the best free things to do in Sarasota? Then dont worry, you can check out the best free things to do in Sarasota below.

Sarasota is located at the heart of Florida’s western coast, United States. It is one of the major Gulf Coast cities in Florida. Sarasota is at a distance of 60 miles from the south of a beautiful Tampa Bay.

Beautiful Sarasota is the best place to visit at any time of the year. Above all, it is most beautiful during the winter seasons. So, you shouldn’t miss visiting sarasota in the winter season as you can have lots of best things to do in Sarasota. Sarasota is an attractive place running up to 725 square miles of land and 37 miles of open shoreline. In other words, it is a fairyland with a beautiful coastline.

Sarasota is a city with natural beauty, delightful climate, arts, and culture. Sarasota is the coastal paradise of the western coast of Florida. It is a go-to place for families and tourists. Above all, it is the best place to relax, sit back, and enjoy for the retirees admiring the natural beauty.

The best part is it’s home for many celebrities, for instance, Stephen King and Rosie O’Donnel and more. It is about an hour from Tampa Bay and two hours from Orlando. Therefore, making it a great place to come visit on weekends and holidays. Sarasota is considered as the city of paradise, mixed with a hint of reality.
The County of Sarasota offers an excellent combination of culture with modern experiences. However, its museums, along with fine dining experience, perfect beaches, a wide range of shopping possibilities. Here are some of the free and fun things to do in Sarasota.

1. A day on the beach: Sarasota is the home for the number one beaches in the country. Siesta Key beach is the most visited beach. Tourists can sit and relax, enjoying the warm sun, sipping on the cool drinks, and watch the waves go up and down, which is free of cost.

In addition, there are Lido, Longboat, Nokomis, and Manasota beaches offering a beautiful view. These beaches are mainly known for their sharks’ teeth. Siesta beach is awarded as the best beach in the United States on several occasions.

The beaches here are widely known for their bright white and quartz crystal sands. A day on the beach is definitely the best free things to do in Sarasota.

2. Go Camping: Sarasota’s key beachfront campground is on Siesta Key. It is the Turtle Beach Campground. This campground is next to the Gulf of Mexico. Camping along the Gulf coast from sunrise to sunset is a breathtaking experience with maximum fun.

This tree line campground is full of padded camping and picnic tables. Apart from that, this is the campground in all of Florida with direct access to the beach. This campground houses the unique loggerhead and green turtle nests. Therefore the name Turtle Beach Campground.

3. Go on a picnic: In addition to the beaches, Sarasota is full of several parks. In other words, Sarasota is an excellent place for a picnic. Island Park offers a wide range of fabulous and free services.

For instance a beautiful blue waters, a beautiful water fountain for children, massive sculptures, big boats, sun, and shade. Besides, there are parks Celery Fields Regional stormwater facility is an excellent place for visitors, to enjoy the scenic views.

Similarly, Circus Hammick, Curry Creek Preserve, Deer Prairie Creek Preserve are the parks best for a picnic.

4. Visit the Unconditional Surrender Statue: The iconic photo of a sailor kissing a nurse on the streets of Times Square on Valentine’s Day. This photograph was taken during the celebration after the announcement of the end of World War-II.

This iconic picture was built in the form of a statue in downtown Sarasota. There is a lot of controversy surrounding this photograph, which makes it more interesting.

5. Go for a bicycle ride, walk: Sarasota offers a wide range of places to visit. There are many parks and beaches in Sarasota offering bicycle rides. Long walks on the beaches in Sarasota with your loved ones make the day come alive.

Drive through Legacy trail. Go kayaking and canoeing in the Carlton Reserve. Taking a walk with your pets, fishing in Celery Fields Parks of Sarasota gives you a great feel.

6. Community Drum circle: Sarasota County houses several hippies. The hippie community holds the community drum circle every Sunday on Siesta Key Beach due to the healing property of quartz crystal beaches.

This event takes place an hour before the sunset. This is a ceremonial event and a must-go place. Above all, it involves chanting, singing, and dancing all night long.

7. Visit the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art: Sarasota’s one of the most visited museums is The John & Mable Ringling Museum. Sarasota is a Circus city once. John Ringling is the owner of the show called “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

The John & Mable Ringling Museum is a part of his home filled with interesting and unusual pieces of artifacts. The entry is free on Mondays.

8. Go on a festive mode: Sarasota hosts numerous festivals all around the year. For instance, the Sarasota Film Festival is held annually, attracting many films from across the globe.

Similarly, Ringling International Arts Festival is held in the Historic Asolo Theatre. In addition, the Sarasota Chalk Festival was held yearly in the historic area of Burns.

The Harvey Milk Festival is a music festival, and the first international street painting festival is held in Sarasota. In conclusion, Sarasota is thumping in colors and music all around the year.

9. Watch a live show: Live music is the best way to enjoy the calmness of the wavy beaches. Live music performances held every Sunday nights on Siesta Beach. The entry is free to visit these live music concerts.

10. Visit to the Farmers market: the farmers market in Sarasota is full of fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, it is full of crafts and handmade objects. Farmer’s market is open for all on every Sunday morning at Siesta Key farmers market. So, this is one of the best things to do in Sarasota as well.

Continue Reading