How To Plan A Trip

The famous novelist Edward Streeter once said, “Travel is ninety percent anticipation and ten percent recollection”. It’s a fantastic quote and really applicable to me because I really enjoy planning any kind of trip.

For example, we’re going away tomorrow with friends – nothing fancy, just hanging out together in a forest for a weekend. But I have been making lists for months. Shopping lists, planning lists, schedules, you name it, I’ve made it. The sheer act of making a list makes me anticipate and visualise whatever trip it is I’m going on.

D on the other hand is not a planner. That showed a little in him being responsible for planning our trip to Machu Picchu. I reminded him that Inca Trail tickets would sell out months in advance, and he waited until we were actually in Cusco before he made any enquiries. In the end, we had a lovely day out, but the Inca Trail is still on our bucket list.

I like to plan trips in my bullet journal. This year, it’s in this really cute notebook someone gifted to us at our leaving party last year. The thing I like most about having a bullet journal, is that all my ideas, calendars and plans are in one book. However, your plans don’t need to be all colorful and neat. I have done this on paper, on the computer or even the back of old receipts. To help give what I’ve written a more practical example, I planned a trip to Iceland – under each heading just look for the italics writing.

Plan A Trip
1.) Decide where you want to go, when and roughly how long for

We want to go to Iceland in the summer (so I don’t get frostbite) and for probably around 10 days.

Talk to friends about recommendations or spend hours on instagram looking at gorgeous destinations. However you want to decide on a destination is up to you.

You might have a fixed time that you need to go, for example when you and your travelling mate managed to get time off together. If you’re not constrained as to when you should go, you can decide by thinking about climate and peak seasons.

Do you want to go for a weekend? 10 days? Or a month? You can make a rough guess depending on how much leave you have and how long you think your budget will last you.

Plan A Trip

Photo Credit: Canva

2.) Set your budget

I like to work off a rough £100 per day budget for Europe, but I know Iceland is more expensive than that, so I’ll say £150. £150 x 10 = £1500.

Speaking of budget – now is the time to be thinking about it, not when the credit card bill comes in 2 weeks after your trip. How much do you have available to spend? Is it realistic, and does it make sense? There’s no point spending two thirds of your budget getting somewhere if you’ll only be able to afford one night in a hostel and a sandwich before you run out of money.

3.) Research your destination

I know I want to go to Reykjavik, but mostly because it’s fun to say. D is desperate to take a dip in the Blue Lagoon and see some awesome waterfalls. The list I make from Pinterest is super long, so you don’t want me to recreate it here.

The first place I check when I’m researching a destination in Pinterest. I usually look at 5 or 6 pins that other bloggers have compiled about where to go and what to see. Write down ALL of the activites (or hotels, or restaurants – whatever) that appeal. At this stage, don’t worry about the price or the difficulty to get to – we’ll get to that later.

Plan A Trip

At this point I always draw a map or save the places on googlemaps. It helps so much to see where things are and to group different activities by location.

4.) Create a Draft Schedule

I fit in some places to go on a road trip in a circle coming out from Reykjavik, which includes a few waterfalls. Then I schedule the dive that would be super cool to do so that we have a quiet day before and at least 24 hours before our flight. Afterwards, I slot in all the smaller activities around Reykjavik. I realise that we don’t need to be away for 10 days, and that 7 days will be enough.

Make a schedule for each day you plan to be away. Each day should have an AM box and a PM box. Start assigning groups of activities to slots. The first ones should be those you absolutely HAVE to do, then put in the ones that are closest/cheapest, and keep going until you run out of days/activities.

Plan A Trip
5.) Check flight and hotel prices

On skyscanner, I check the prices of the flights for the whole of the month of June to find the flights that work best for us. I look on Hotels.com for a nice, central hotel in Reykjavik and for hotels on our road trip route. 

If the only hotels you can find are £250 a night, you might want to think about shortening your trip, which will affect what activities you can do. The other thing that might affect how long you’re away is the crazy amount that flight prices change by day.

6.) Solidify your plans

Go back to your draft schedule and check that the dates and hotels work with your plan. Make sure you have roughly costed out each activity.

7.) Decide if that fits in with your budget

Seeing as the plan is now to go for 7 days, my budget is now £1050. If you look closely at the photo in four, you’ll see that what I actually planned to do will be in the region of £2500 – more than double. If we go in the colder, off season we could save £300. Deciding against the very expensive dive would take it down another £600. Staying in hostels instead of hotels might save us another £200, and deciding on free activities instead of paid ones could bring that down another £200. Then that’s £1200, which is much closer to my original budget.

Does this fit your budget? If not, you’ll need to make some adjustments. Think about what is more important to you. For example, do you want to sacrifice having a private room, so you can afford to eat out every night? This is a very personal thing. It’s up to you to decide whether what you are planning to do is worth the money you will be paying for it.

Plan a Trip

Photo Credit: Canva

8.) Book it!

That’s it! You’ve planned a trip.  I hope you enjoy it.

What are your tips for planning trips? Do you love planning, or hate it? Let us know in the comments below!

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Minimalist Travel | The absolute bare essentials

While we were travelling, one of the first things that anyone noticed about us was our backpacks. We spent a whole year living out of a 30L and a 35L backpack. Most other people that we met had 60-70L just for themselves! After settling back into life in the UK and renting out a one bed flat, we are so grateful for the lessons that we’ve learnt about minimalist travel in this past year. It has meant that we can rent the smallest flat we’ve ever seen and still fit every single one of our possessions into it. Except a wedding dress – which I feel needs a whole post on what to do with the most expensive and impractical dress you will ever buy!

It took a lot of time for me to get into the minimalism mindset. I uprooted my whole childhood bedroom into my room in student halls (which was about half the size) without throwing anything away. I bought all the “essentials” that I needed as a young adult starting life on my own. In the end, my room was an absolute mess, and you could never see the floor! It never occurred to me that I was so busy out having fun and studying that I might not need all these things anymore. So they all stayed.

Later, we moved into a big house and bought furniture and decorations to fill each high-ceilinged echoey room. Our stuff somehow magically expanded to fit the space we had available. I was always scratching my head wondering why the house was always messy. It was about this time that I discovered blogs written by American Moms who loved to organise. I had great fun putting all my crap into pretty boxes without ever realising that I didn’t need it!

Anyway, coming back to the point. Minimalism is a great concept to explore whether you have a seven bed mansion or you’re just packing up your childhood bedroom. But it’s most useful to travellers who want to save their back by only carrying what they need, save on airplane luggage fees and always have room to bring back a few souvenirs.

Minimalist Travel

The Attitude of minimalist travel

The most important change is always going to be the hardest. Attitudes based on other people’s perceptions and ‘the way things have always been’ are ingrained and we rarely question them.

What If – This is still the biggest thorn in my paw. I hate the thought of needing something and not having it, especially when I only threw it away a week ago! But in this day and age, you can almost always get something you need in the place that you’re in – except if you’re way off the beaten track. I like the Minimalists rule that if you can get the item again within 20 miles for under $20, there’s no reason to keep it around ‘just in case’

Sunken Cost – Before we left, we bought a sterile needle kit. Whether or not this was necessary is absolutely up for debate, but I still think I would buy it again if I had a do-over. We never did use it and it’s now sitting on a shelf in our flat taunting me with its shiny redness. Anyway, we could have ditched it when we arrived in Australia and had over two months with a little extra space in our bags. “But it was so expensive and we haven’t even used it!”, we cried. This is an example of sunken cost. The money’s already gone – it’s just hurting your bag capacity to keep it around now.

That’s disgusting! – I am going to say a few things in this blog post that make me seem like I live in a bush and don’t shower for weeks on end. That’s not really how I live, at least most of the time. But if I don’t shower for a couple of weeks, it’s not going to kill me, and it won’t kill you either.

Clothing

There’s this school of thought that after a t-shirt is worn once, it’s “dirty” and needs to be washed. Even if you’ve only had it on for two hours while watching a film in a cinema with air conditioning so high it feels like you’re in the middle of the arctic. T-shirts can go for 2-3 days and jeans can usually last a week, even longer if you’re only hanging out by yourself or spending most of your time in swimwear at the beach.

I think I’d cope perfectly well with two t-shirts, a pair of shorts/jeans, a bikini, a dress and hand full of underwear. Most of which I wouldn’t have to carry with me as I would be wearing it to travel. I do worry that other people see me in the same thing two days in a row and them thinking I’m icky.  But who cares what they think?!

I genuinely believe that the only footwear that is necessary are flip flops. You can hike in them and swoosh through flooded streets in them. You can dress them up and down. I used to wear them 12 months of the year in the UK. I also carry running shoes with me when I travel, although I’ve started to see articles about barefoot travel springing up all over the internet.

Toiletries

It is very easy to take way too many toiletries with you. Each thing is usually less than the size of a deck of cards, which you can cram anywhere. They are taking up space in your bag and adding to the weight on your back every time you pack up and travel. It also means you have to fiddle with tiny plastic bags and make sure it’s somewhere accessible in your hand luggage. What a drama.

I am going to assume that you understand why anyone looking to travel with less would not be taking things like anti-frizz serum or eye-shadow primer. So there are only a handful of things to take; soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, razor, shampoo. All essential, right?

Well, no actually.

I’d like to suggest that the only essential in that list is a toothbrush. There’s some research and a lot of anecdotal evidence that says all the rest of it is unnecessary. Some people get by just fine without them. Others shout from the rooftops that their hair/skin/teeth are better for not using them. It’s about experimenting with what works for your body, ignoring the adverts companies spend millions on trying to get you to buy their products and mainly not giving a crap about what someone else thinks is disgusting.

Electronics

I always spend time daydreaming about how it would have been being an Explorer 100 or 200 years ago. I would love to have the courage to not take a single electronic thing with me when I travelled. But thinking about it, I wouldn’t be able to take a photo of the town map. Then I would get lost after 5 minutes. I couldn’t phone the hotel I was staying at. I wouldn’t be able to figure out how to ask a local for directions without resorting to shouting very slowly in English.

I’m pretty sure that would not be a fun way to travel. Luckily, in the 21st century, we have a tiny device that does all of those things. You probably have one anyway – a smartphone! If your smartphone doesn’t do it, you probably didn’t need it done anyway. A charger and multi country adapter plug are probably two things worth packing.

http://www.theminimalists.com/jic/

Ultimately, the secret to minimalistic travel is getting into the right mindset and forgetting all you know about what is normal and what everybody else does.  This is a basis to start packing from. I am in no way saying that if you take more than this then you are a failure. I have never taken this little, even if I’m only going away for a weekend. But if you start from this minimum, you can rest assured that every other item you take is a luxury. Then you can really think about whether it deserves to take up valuable real estate in your bag.

What’s your biggest reservation about taking the absolute minimum travelling? Do you have any stories about when you packed way too much? What do you consider the absolute essentials? Let us know in the comments below!

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Buying a car in Australia (and then selling it)

So, you’re planning on heading ‘Down Under’; or you’re already there and thinking about the best way to get around. Are you planning a trip up the East Coast and dreaming of the open road? If yes, you may consider buying a car in Australia. We did and it was great…mostly.

There are plenty of ways to travel around Australia; if you’ve got the money and want to rack up the air-miles you can fly. If you’re a backpacker, you’re probably thinking of using the Greyhound. Or maybe hiring a camper van/caravan is more your thing; but if you get it right, buying a car in Australia could be the most cost effective way to travel. However there are a number of pitfalls to avoid and things you should know.

buying a car in australia
buying a car in australia - bruce

The initial process of buying a car in Australia is the same as anywhere else. For the purposes of this post I’m going to assume you won’t be buying a new one (I mean, if you’re just travelling why would you?!). So you find a car, you agree a price and you pay for it. Considerations at this point:-

  • How many seats do you need?
  • Do you need to be able to sleep in it?
  • How long will you need the car for? (relevant for REGO – see below)
  • Has the car been serviced recently?
  • Does it come with a road safety certificate?
  • Does it test drive OK?

If you are in Sydney we suggest you check out the Sydney Travellers Car Market. This is where we found our car. It’s a place for travellers to buy and sell their cars so it’s handy at both ends of the journey.

REGO

Rego is the car registration, effectively equivalent to car tax in the UK. The difference in Australia is that the remaining, unexpired registration transfers across to the new owner when a vehicle is sold. Renewing the registration can be quite expensive. Therefore it’s worth buying a car with a long time left on the REGO and avoiding those with little or no time left. If it will have some time on it when you’re ready to sell, even better!

insurancebuying a car in australia - RMS

When buying a car In Australia, the only mandatory insurance is called CTP – ‘compulsory third party’. This only covers other people involved in an accident. It does not cover the driver or any damage to vehicles etc. It is entirely voluntary whether you decide to opt for further insurance cover.

Different states deal with the CTP differently. It can be included with the REGO transfer (i.e. you pay for both at the same time) or as in NSW you have the option of finding your own CTP to ensure you get the best rate. Note: You will not be able to transfer the REGO without having CTP in place.

post purchase admin

Congratulations, you’ve bought a car in Australia! Now there is some admin to be sorted out. The REGO needs to be transferred into your name within 14 days of the purchase. You need to find a Roads & Maritime Service Centre to do this. These are everywhere, so it shouldn’t be too hard. Make sure you have the following with you:-

  • Vehicle details i.e. registration plate number.
  • Details of the purchase –  date & price
  • Evidence of the sale (invoice/sales contract)
  • Completed forms – they will provide these.
  • Money to pay the transfer fee.

You will also need a ‘MyService’ account for the state you are in (i.e. MyServiceNSW). You can do this at the same time as the transfer. However you will need to provide proof of identity such as a passport and proof of your Australian address.

If you’re staying in a hotel or hostel, even if just for a few days, you can use a invoice from them. However if you’re House-sitting or staying in an Air BnB for example,  you can open a bank account with Commonwealth Bank using just your passport (yes a bank will let you have an account with no proof of address, but you can’t register a car!). You can then use the opening account certificate as evidence of your address.

buying a car in australia - open road

Now you’re all sorted. Go and explore the open road! Check out our other posts for ideas on where to go in your new motor:-

Melbourne to Sydney | Sydney to Brisbane | Brisbane to Cairns

Note: It’s a great idea to get the car serviced after each 10,000km of driving. That might sound like a lot but before you know it, the time comes round at it’s servicing time.

Selling your car

You’ve done all the driving you can take. Or you’d love to carry on, but unfortunately the workplace is calling you back home. So now it’s time to try and sell your car.

Photo Credit: AbsolutelyAustralia.com.au

As we mentioned above, if you’re finishing up in Sydney, consider taking it to the Sydney Travellers Car Supermarket. Bear in mind there is a cost to this. If you bought it from a dealer they may offer a guaranteed buy-back option although it will likely be at a substantial reduction of the price (ours was just 40%!). Finally, Gumtree is also a great site to place an advert; it may be worth adding it as soon as you’ve bought it with an ‘available from’ date so it has lots of time to be seen. Other options include placing ads in hostels or on other online forums like lonely planet.

what you need

Road Safety Certificate – In the UK cars need to be MOT’d regularly to ensure that there are no dodgy cars on the road. In Australia there is an equivalent however they differ between states. In Queensland for example, prior to offering a vehicle for sale, you have to obtain and display a Safety Certificate (previsouly called a blue slip). It is valid for 2 months or 2,000km. However as there are no periodic safety checks required in QLD, it is likely to be more difficult for a vehicle to pass. Another thing to note is only authorised garages can provide one.

In NSW however, it is more similar to the UK annual car service. When you renew the annual REGO detailed above, any cars over 5 years old need to have safety certificate first. So it will
probably be easier to get one there and if you’re REGO hasn’t run out yet, you don’t need to worry about it!

buying a car in Australia - notice of disposalNotice of Disposal – Once you’ve sold your car, make sure you let the Service centre know.  You do this by submitting a Notice of Disposal. This confirms the details of the sale, the new purchaser and acts as Proof of Sale in place of an invoice in a private sale.

Submitting the notice of disposal is very important. If you don’t advise that you have transferred ownership you could be held liable for the new owner’s parking fines or road tolls.


Have you thought about buying a car in Australia? Or have you already done it and successfully sold it? Get in touch below, we’d love to hear from you.

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Australia quirks

It’s time for another instalment of our ‘Quirks of…’ series. This time we’re looking at the weird and wonderful aspects of the land down under – Australia Quirks.

Australia was somewhere I had wanted to visit since I was little. It was a magical places, so far away filled with strange animals and places I’d heard about on travel programs. In actual fact it is a strange mix of England and America with a little something extra (I supposed you’d call it Australian) thrown in. Continue reading

Least favourite things about travelling for 350 days

Our amazing adventure of traversing the globe for a whole year is almost at an end. As our previous post indicated we have been on the road for over 350 days. We’ve seen loads of different countries, witnessed awesome spectacles, eaten exotic food and met some brilliant people. But it hasn’t all been roses and kittens; On request from one our readers here are some of our least favourite things about travelling for 350 days.

least favourite things about travelling - sad C & D

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Travel experiences – our favourites after 350 days on the road

It’s almost over; our year long round the world trip is almost over *wipes tear from eye*. That means we’ve been on the road over 350 days, That’s 350 days of travel experiences. (Not all of them favourable, but our next post will talk about that).

We’re sad that it’s over, but happy to be going back to the UK and seeing friends and family. It means we can share our travel experiences with them in person over a beer. This will be our last ‘favourite things’ post for this trip and possibly ever. So make sure you check out the previous posts and see our favourite things from our whole year of travelling:-

300 Days | 150 Days | 100 Days | 50 Days

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300 Days Travelling on the Road – Our Favourite Things

We made it! We’ve now been travelling for over 300 days! We hope you all had a great Christmas, we certainly did and we’re looking forward to what 2017 has in store for us.

We haven’t done a favourite things post for a long time, our last was when we reached 150 days. Since then our travelling has taken us to Thailand both north and down south on the islands; we did a whistle-stop trip down through Vietnam and spent time in Malaysia. We volunteered at a party hostel, had a lovely visit from C’s mum and D’s parents came to see us for a week in Cambodia. Now we’re in Sydney where we’ve spent Christmas and New Year.

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Merry Christmas from Love C and D

Season’s greetings Love C and D’ers!  The big day has finally arrived; the stress of getting the decorations up, buying all the food and ceaselessly searching out those gifts  is over.  Put your feet up, pour yourself a glass of your favourite tipple and enjoy a fantastic, family-filled, fun-fuelled Christmas Day.

Christmas - Merry Christmas

We just wanted to write a short post to say thank you to all of you, for your support over the last 10 months. Whether it’s reading and commenting on our blog posts, liking our Instagram posts, Retweeting our tweets or sharing our Facebook posts.  Without you it wouldn’t be worth it.

We’ve had an absolutely brilliant 10 months of travelling the world. From our initial nervous beginnings in Rio, to driving across State lines to the Grand Canyon in the US.  From a rocky start in Bangkok to finally getting my PADI Open Water scuba diving certification in Phuket. We’ve seen things and visited places that some people can only dream of and we’re feeling very blessed.

So firstly have a very merry Christmas. Eat lots, be grateful for whatever gifts you receive, make the most of the all important family time and remember, you’re celebrating the birth of Jesus! Secondly, we hope you enjoy seeing in the new year in spectacular fashion – we will be with fireworks over Sydney Harbour Bridge!  And finally we send you our best wishes for a prosperous 2017.

Love C and D x

Open Water Diver Course – The Lowdown

Scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef is top of our bucket list. In order to do this, we obviously need to be able to scuba dive.  C qualified seven years ago but I had only ever done a try-dive in a swimming pool.  So when we arrived in Phuket I knew it was time to get my Open Water Diver certification.

The course is split into three sections:- knowledge development (theory), confined water dives (swimming pool) and open water dives (in the sea). Continue reading