The Time I almost Died, White Water Rafting

‘Do one thing every day that scares you!!!’ They said.

I’ve spent my entire life being pretty tame. I once even cried the whole way down an abseiling wall. I’d always liked my feet safely on dry land… Until I travelled. Travel pushes you to your limits. So, whilst in Bali I decided to push the boat out and try white water rafting.

Our guide, a slim, young Indonesian man gave us a quick briefing and explained that when he shouts ‘boom’ we need to duck to avoid fallen trees etc. I recall him saying that if we fall in the water it was ‘bye-bye’, and then he laughed. This didn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

He helped me into the boat with my friend and two Australian teenage boys. They were half my age and lived on the opposite side of the world. In every-day life, we would have absolutely nothing in common. Yet in this hour, smashing through the speeding waters in the jungle, they would become my family.

The start of the rafting was gentle, our boat softly pondering through the waters. Giant, powerful cliffs surrounded us and there would be the occasional family sitting on the banks, farming or making clothes. I could hear rattle snakes and cheerful bird songs. Then things started to speed up…

We each had an oar to help row, but naturally were using it to splash as much water as possible at the passing tourists. The world passed by quickly, my eyes were struggling to keep focus on danger, whilst trying to spot potential water-fight warfare. The rocky, green cliffs were whizzing past me in a hot blur. I believe this is where the ‘fight or flight’ syndrome kicked in… Adrenaline started pulsating around my body. My clothes were soaking wet, my finger nail bent right back and I bumped my helmet-covered head on a rock-wall. All the while, I felt no pain.

A collection of boats had gathered, stuck at the top of a small waterfall in the direction we were headed. Our pathway was blocked except for a large rock protruding from the centre of the waters. We ricocheted from several boats and at high speed slid up the rock and became wedged. Before I even knew what was happening, I felt myself in mid-air, violently flung from my boat. I was face up, watching the sky distance itself from me, aware that beneath my body was a sheer drop into harsh, rocky waters. I wasn’t afraid or worried, I guess it all happened too quickly for anything resembling emotion to settle in me.

In that second, the guide (who was half my size) grabbed onto the shoulder of my life-vest and a large chunk of my hair and pulled me effortlessly back into the boat. He actually saved my life. I couldn’t stop laughing and hugging him.

On my next visit to Bali, what was the first thing I did? Booked myself onto a white water rafting session.

Missing Travel..

It’s hard to write about travel, when it seems like years have passed since I had the fortune of stepping on an aircraft.

Sometimes ‘life’ gets in the way and prevents us the ability to whizz off on an adventure.

I still spend literally hours planning trips and pricing up my next wacky journey. But, the reality is at the moment, jetting off is not easy. Work commitments, health scares, moving house etc etc are all part of life’s little bumps.

I miss it. I start feeling disconnected from myself when I don’t get to go off exploring.

Is this normal? Am I addicted to travel?

Here’s Why You Should Book Your Holiday Far in Advance

Cuddle Your Globe

Aside from the fact that you will generally get a better value holiday and more choice on available flights and hotels when you book your trip further in advance, there is another reason to plan to jet off months before you travel.

Studies have shown that having something huge to look forward to, such as an exciting holiday, actually reduces stress levels and makes every day tasks and work much more tolerable. Enjoy this for as many months as you can!!!

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How To Arrange Your Holiday Visa to Anywhere

Many destinations now require a visa for entry, even as a tourist.

This blog will help you regardless of you nationality and destination.

I am not going to list every country and every nationality link that requires a visa because frankly, I don’t have the time or space on my blog. What I can share with you should save you a lot of time and money.

Whatever your nationality and wherever you are travelling to, you can quickly and easily check your visa requirements by looking on the embassy website.

NOW, bare in mind that there will be hundreds of companies posing as the official visa website, always click on the link to the website with the word ’embassy’ in it.

For example;

http://www.chinese-embassy.org.uk

There will be step by step instructions on how to apply for a visa and all the fees. Other companies will offer to process your visa for you, but you will often pay more than 100% mark up for the Priveledge. Yes it’s fiddly and time consuming to do it yourself, but it is straight forward and will save you lots of cash. If you are worried about making a mistake, either get a friend to help you, or most embassies themselves will charge a smaller fee to check it and allow and reapply if you have made an error.

To test the theory, I am a British Citizen and I looked at the cost of a tourist visa to China. It’s £85. The first of these so-called official visa companies I looked at that was not the official embassy website was charging £171 for exactly the same visa! I’m not trying to put these companies out of business because if you can afford to pay extra and don’t have the time or energy to do it yourself then I guess it’s worth paying the extra, but at least shop around a bit.

Some countries off the top of my head that will almost certainly require a visa for tourist entry are;

China

USA

Australia

Vietnam 

India

Again, this will all depend on what passport you are travelling on.

This doesn’t apply with ‘visa on arrival’ which is common in countries like Egypt and Indonesia which is basically just a tourist entry fee and is done, on arrival, like it says on the tin.

I hope this helps you and saves you from being ripped off.

How to Get an Extra Holiday for FREE and Avoid Long Layovers on Connecting Flights and What Exactly a ‘Transit’ or ‘Stopover’ Means.

How to Get an Extra Holiday for FREE and Avoid Long Layovers on Connecting Flights and What Exactly a ‘Transit’ or ‘Stopover’ Means.

Some people will know a little about this. I know that many others know nothing at all, I hope this post helps all of you in some way in your future travels.

When you are travelling super duper long haul, there is only a maximum amount of distance one flight can take you due to fuel restrictions etc, so it’s very common to take a connecting flight to your destination. Sometimes these flights have 2 or more ‘transits’. A transit is basically when you remain airside at an airport in any given destination, without clearing immigration, awaiting boarding your connecting onward flight. This means you have booked the entirety of your journey on one ticket and any checked luggage will be sent through to your final destination for you, and you just need to change aircraft.

More often than not, flights with one or more transits are much cheaper than flying direct, so this is a great way to save some coins if time is on your side.

So, you may often find amazingly cheap flights that involve a connection time at an airport of over ten hours. This is often because of busy dates and limited availability on the flights with good connection times. Take note;

  • This can be excruciatingly dull and you can easily spend what you saved on the flight cost actually inside the airport.
  • Officially a ‘transit’ is only a transit if your connection is under 8 hours. This means you may require a transit visa for 8 hours and 10 minutes, incurring more fees.
  • Anything over 24 hours will certainly require a visa, if required in your stopover destination.

So basically, if you are only considering doing a long transit to save a few pennies, I would say it’s not worth it.

BUT… There is a much better solution. 

  • Be flexible with your dates. Moving your outbound date by just one day could shorten your total journey time by many hours and free up availability in your perfect connecting flight.
  • Abuse the situation and swap your awful long transit to a stopover!!

What is a stopover, you ask?

A stopover is a planned break in your journey. For example, say you book a flight from London- Sydney, with a transit in Dubai. Your luggage will be checked from London to Sydney and in Dubai, you change planes. What you CAN do is actually book a flight to Dubai, stay for a few days and then fly onwards to Sydney. This means you will collect your hold bags at Dubai, clear immigration, leave the airport and return to check in again for your Dubai – Sydney flight. * Please note that all ticket rules vary and whilst many airlines offer this free of charge, some will charge a small fee and there will likely be a small airport tax increase. 

So, if you are flying through Dubai anyway, make the most and tick that country off your list.

Emirates via Dubai is just an example but this can work on almost ANY flight ticket with a transit.

Happy free holiday hunting!

Cheaper Flights in the UK

Cheaper Flights in the UK

The Scottish National Party (SNP) are planning to reduce the APD (air passenger duty) which is a large bulk of the tax we all pay on our flight tickets, by half for all flights departing from Scottish airports. This is an attempt to boost tourism, economy and employment in Scotland.

A one way long haul ticket for an adult out of the U.K. currently has APD of around £73. (£12 for short haul and considerably more in premium cabins). So expect to pay half of these in the future if you fly from the chilly northern country.

What does this mean for Brits?

If you live halfway between Scotland and England, it will be miles more financially beneficial for you to fly from Scotland.

Airlines will likely be encouraged to relocate or increase flights from Scotland in attempt to make revenue.

If you book early enough, trains from parts of the U.K. To Scotland will save you money overall when compared to flying from your local airport.

Short Haul Winter Sun for Brits in April

Short Haul Winter Sun for Brits in April

Where is hot in April? 

This is a question I asked myself whilst looking for a hot break somewhere next month.

April is right on the cusp of winter and summer for many destinations in Europe so it’s hard to know where to choose to go if you’re in search of sunshine. I have written this blog to give some inspiration for short haul winter sun from the UK. Short haul, I classify as under 5 hours flight time.

1.

The Canary Islands are mountainous, pretty, volcanic islands off the East coast of Africa and are pretty much in line with the Sahara Desert. They are touristy and often have beaches packed with British tourists. The four main islands are Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. Temperatures in April range from 18-20 degrees but often can get hotter.

  
2.

Egypt offers guaranteed sunshine year round. Resorts such as Sharm El Sheikh, Luxor or Hurghada are nestled far away enough from political unrest and are in my opinion, tourist friendly and safe. Temperatures in April average at 25 degrees.

  
3.

Morocco offers many cultural attractions such as the city of Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains, along with beautiful beach resorts. Temperatures in April average between 18-24 degrees.

  
4. 

Malta and Gozo are pretty much as far south you can get in the Meditteranean. They get very warm from May onwards but in April you can look at averages of around 20 degrees.

  
5. 

Cyprus in Europe is verging into the Middle East heat zone and it’s truly a superb country. I’d recommend hiring a car and spend your days exploring. They drive on the left also! Temperatures in April average t the slightly cooler 16 degrees but often reach 21 degrees.

  
6.

Jordan. OK, this is a smidge over a 5 hour flight, but this is my favourite short haul destination. With jam packed fun in the desert, the ancient city of Petra and the Dead Sea on offer, it’s worth the extra bit of flying. Temperatures in April average 28 degrees! Don’t go in July because you will burst into flames.

  
7.

Tunisia. Many people are put off travelling there are the terrorist attacks last year. One could argue that perhaps it is now one of the safest places to travel to. Temperatures in April are averaging around 16 degrees.