Category Archives: Travel Tips

Travel tips to help you make the most of your European trips. Tips on the best things to see, places to stay and eat in European destinations.. The lowdown from locals and experienced European travellers to help you plan your travels.

10 Reasons to Travel Solo in Your Lifetime

Traveling solo is an entirely different experience than doing so with a gaggle of friends or a loved one. You approach each day differently, make alternative choices of destinations, and choose the duration of stay and plan activities based solely on what you want.

Here are 10 reasons to travel solo at least once in your life.

More Control Over Your Trip

Setting off on trips can be great, but when traveling with one or more people, it has to accommodate everyone’s needs, wants and desires. How many places you can fit into each day, how long to stop at each destination, and what activities to do while there all depends on the group consensus.

When you travel solo, it’s all up to you. If you feel like exploring Memphis, you can get on the road and go do that. If Florida is next, just get up and go!

Get Better with Money

You may be still be spending dollars and cents, or a completely different currency, but when you travel, money management becomes immediately necessary. This is because there’s never enough money to do everything, so you must budget, make frugal choices and splurge carefully to not run short of cash.

It May Lead to a Complete Life Change

Depending on how long you go away for, you could become a completely different person by the time you return. This won’t happen if you go on a one-week vacation, but a three month extend trip around south-east Asia is going to change you in interesting ways. You may return with a clearer world view, more confident or willing to give new things a try.

Improve Your Sense of Security

While people worry about the safety of travel, the reality is that it’s only usually people who ignore their own safety (or the safety of their possessions) that make themselves a target. Most people are fundamentally good. When being sensible, usually everything will be fine.

One you’ve traveled alone; you’ll realize that the risks were way overstated.

Explore Your Creativity

Traveling gives you the chance to be more creative without the criticism. While away, you’ll see plenty of street artists or sculptors exhibiting their works in tourist spots and feel a desire to try being creative yourself.

If you’ve already had those tendencies previously, then it’s full speed ahead.

You’ll Learn to Be Responsible for Yourself

Solving problems and dealing with the unexpected while thinking on your feet becomes second nature for a traveler.

If you’re more of a dependent personality and rely on others to solve your problems, it can leave you unstuck when something really bad happens. If you’re avoiding taking on more responsibility in your life, traveling solo will teach you to be self-sufficient.

Non-Planners Learn a New Skill

While traveling without a plan can also be fun, most travelers find they need to set off with a plan in mind.

Doing research proves useful, if only to pick a place to stay and take the time to check the travelers’ reviews on TripAdvisor before making the booking. Also, when planning, you can pick more affordable routes and avoid scams or touts looking to separate you from your hard-earned greenbacks.

Make Fast Friends with New People

When you’re less outgoing, traveling alone forces you communicate more with people. Whether to get directions, find out the better places to eat, or just to socialize, traveling is great for developing better interpersonal skills and making new friends.

Begin to Learn a New Language

There’s no better way to learn the basics of a new language than to immerse yourself in it. When wanting to learn Spanish, go to Mexico or Spain. Want to learn French? Spend time in France.

Nothing replaces going to a language school while in-country, but you can still pick up some useful phrases hanging out in tourist spots.

Expand Your Comfort Zone

If you’ve been stuck in a rut in your life and cannot get free of it, sometimes a major change is required.

Traveling to another city within the U.S. can be a culture shock of its own, but visiting another country is entirely different. Even if you’re thinking about going somewhere close like Mexico, spend time outside of the tourist hotspots to soak up the local flavor.

Traveling solo is a must-do activity while you’re young enough to enjoy it fully. Don’t wait!

Where are the Best Places to Downsize in the UK?

Life changes such as the children finally leaving home, or retirement from work can lead to people reconsidering their housing needs. Whether it’s to save money, or simply the desire to have a smaller home and garden to maintain, downsizing can be an exciting opportunity.

Once the decision to downsize has been made, it could be worthwhile considering not just the size of home wanted, but also the location. A new home in a different part of the country with interesting places to explore visit can offer a whole new lease of life.

Consider these two prime locations in England. A town and a city that are very different but enjoy an excellent range of affordable properties available for downsizers, as well as offering an incredible quality of life.

The South Coast

Fareham in Hampshire featured in the top 50 places to live for quality of life in both the Lloyds Banking Group’s Halifax 2019 survey and Yopa’s Retirement Guide. Up 36 places in the same survey from its position in 2018, this is a market town
conveniently located between the cities of Southampton and Portsmouth.

Fareham has a coastal location with easy access to beautiful countryside nearby. Both the South Downs and the New Forest make for great days out, offering a range of leisure activities such as walking, cycling or horse-riding. There are plenty of water-based sports available nearby, from sailing to kayaking and paddle-boarding, the Solent hosts them all.

For history buffs, Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard has a replica of Nelson’s ship, HMS Victory, and the Tudor warship the Mary Rose on display. There are also naval museums, shops, restaurants harbour tours and seasonal events. For those living nearby, it would be worth buying an annual ticket to regularly enjoy everything on offer. No doubt any visiting family or friends would also enjoy this attraction.

The town’s pedestrianised shopping centre and choice of cafes and restaurants are well-regarded. Tripadvisor reviews are positive, with reviewers writing that the range of well-known brands and smaller independent shops holds its own against the competition of the city shopping centres. Parking is plentiful and the town is well-connected by public transport with both a bus and train station. Trains run regularly to local destinations as well as further afield to London Waterloo, Brighton and Cardiff.

This location has a healthy but competitively priced property market. Flats average around £167,000 and smaller houses can be seen on the market for £230,000 plus. Properties for the over 55s are available for under £100,000.

The North West

Further to the north, the city of Chester is a wonderful place to live. Named Deva Victrix by the Romans who founded it as a fortress, the city sits on the banks of River Dee. It is notable, amongst other things, for its amazing black and white architectural buildings and the intact city walls.

The city has an impressive thousand year old catherdral for residents to visit or worship in. Built from sandstone with amazing details externally, it is also worth venturing inside to enjoy the stunning nave and painted roof. Shopping is an upmarket experience. Visit the Rows which have shops in two tiers and photograph the beautiful historic Eastgate Clock which is reputedly the second most photographed clock in the UK, after Big Ben.

For leisure activities, residents are thoroughly spoilt for choice. As well as the usual sports centres and golf courses, the city is home to the Cheshire County Cricket Club and a local football club. For horse-racing fans, the city boasts England’s oldest racecourse, the Roodee, as it is known. The Roodee hosts its most valuable festival meeting in May, with the Dee Stakes used as a Derby trial by top trainers and racehorses.

As Cheshire’s county city, the streets are full of top-quality places to eat and drink including a Michelin starred restaurant, Simon Radley at the Chester Grosvenor.

Chester has so much going for it, downsizers might find it hard to believe it could have properties to suit the downsized budget. Average prices are very slightly less than in Fareham and pleasant properties can be found on the market for just under £200,000. For those wanting to get the full historic experience, there is a range of beautiful period properties to choose from, but expect to pay more for these, particularly when located nearer the city centre.

The Garden at House of Dun

I visited the gardens at the House of Dun, near Montrose in Angus, in the early evening in mid September. It was after closing time for the house, but I was happy to enjoy the evening sunshine in the garden, which is open until dusk.

As I am a member of the National Trust of Scotland, I was exempt  the £3 parking charge. There’s no charge for entry to the garden.

I spent most of my time at the House of Dun in the walled garden.

I sat on a  bench where it was sheltered from the wind,

There were still plenty of flowers in bloom.

There was a crown shaped hedge in the centre of the Walled Garden.

I then spent a few minutes at the front of House of Dun, admiring the circular hedge and the countryside views.

I could make out the Montrose Basin in the distance. There is a path down to the basin, but I didn’t have the time or energy for that.

I really enjoyed my evening visit to the garden at House of Dun. My only quibble was that the toilets were closed. In my opinion, they should be open until dusk too.

Holidaying With Another Couple

Going on holiday with your couple friends isn’t everyone’s idea of a perfect break. You might be worried about potential clashes when staying in such close proximity or that you and your partner won’t get any time alone.

However, holidaying with another couple can be great if you’re open and honest about any worries because let’s face it, they’ll probably feel the same way as you do! Here’s a few things to bear in mind when you’re planning a holiday with another couple.

It Could Be Much Cheaper

One of the main benefits of holidaying with coupled up friends is how much money you could save. With the price split between you all, you could rent an full-blown apartment or a Spanish villa with a pool, like from Villa Plus for example. Somewhere like this might be out of your price range when it’s just the two of you, but it could become an affordable option when split between two or three couples. A luxury villa in Spain for less? Sign me up!

Plan Some Separate Couple Time

Remember that just because you’re on holiday with other couples, it doesn’t mean you have to do everything together! Make sure everyone’s on the same page in this respect; plan group events together, such as day trips and meals, but also schedule some separate couple activities so you’re not spending 24/7 as a group.

After all, your holiday budgets won’t be the same and you’ll probably have different things that you want to see and do. However, don’t write these off too quickly as having individual interests can be a good thing! You might get to see a whole new side of your holiday destination that you wouldn’t normally.

Be Respectful

Last but not least, be respectful of your holiday pals. The good thing is that you’ll all be on your best behaviour already, so you’re less likely to engage in silly couple squabbles that could arise if it was just the two of you.

Even so, remember to give each other space. Holidays can be intense experiences that can shake even the strongest of friends! This is particularly important when partners are involved as there’s likely to be at least one person who doesn’t know the others as well, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re not living in each other’s pockets.

If you want a luxury holiday villa for cheaper, it could be a good idea to book with your couple friends. As long as you all agree about the important aspects (such as budgets, the itinerary and giving mutual respect) going away with another couple could be a match made in holiday heaven!

Malleny Garden in Edinburgh

Malleny Garden is located in Balerno, an Edinburgh suburb which lies 8 miles south west of the city centre.

I’d visited the garden a few times in the past, the most recent occasion being around 12 years ago. I’d been to the nearby Jupiter Artland sculpture park in the morning. I thought that Malleny Garden would be a good place to eat my picnic lunch. It was a good choice. I was hungry when I arrived at the garden. I was immediately attracted to the bench behind some yellow flowers.

It was lovely inside the green house.

There were even some seats for a wet or colder day.

There were some pretty flowers bordered by red bushes.

The yew trees are around 400 years old.

Malleny Garden has a heritage collection of roses. Very few were in bloom when I visited in late July.

Malleny Garden is open every day from 10am to 5pm (or dusk if earlier). There’s a toilet in the garden.





How Brexit Will Affect Travel to Europe

As Brexit approaches at the end of March, many UK citizens are wondering how it’s going to affect their travel plans. Depending on whether there is a deal struck between the EU and the UK, travel will impacted in a variety of ways. While it will change holidays in the EU, there is nothing major to worry about. Being prepared for the changes is key. Here is what you should be thinking about if you are planning on going abroad after Brexit.

Flight Prices

Since air travel has been relatively unrestricted between the United Kingdom and EU countries, it is unclear how the flights and flight prices will fully change. Budget airlines rely on this open sky policy, and a deal between the EU and the UK will likely determine how much higher prices will go. Up until now, it doesn’t appear that they will stay the same. The government has a contingency plan for areas that would cause major disruptions. These would affect civilians and businesses, including financial services, air transport, and customs. This preparedness will not reciprocate for EU members, however.


While the EU has confirmed the British travelers will need to pay for a €7 travel permit, which will be valid for three years. This is a part of the European Travel Information and Authorization Scheme (ETIAS). Every traveler to the EU will need to pay the fee and register 72 hours in advance of travel.


Passports will also change in accordance to EU countries. The government is recommending that travelers have at least six months on their passports from the day they go abroad. If you renewed your passport before it expired, extra days could have been added. It is best to check how many days you have left on your passport ahead of time. To do so, use the passport-checking tool online.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance will be impacted greatly by Brexit. European health insurance cards (EHIC). EHICs cover pre-existing conditions and emergencies when traveling. “In the absence of an agreement on future relations that covers this topic, a House of Lords report said, “the rights currently enjoyed by 27 million UK citizens, thanks to the EHIC, will cease after Brexit.”

According to an expert at MoneyPug, a site specializing in cheap travel insurance, some reciprocal emergency measures with EU countries may be negotiated, but right now it seems like individual deals will be struck with each state. While it remains uncertain, the UK government has proposed a law to begin implementing this measure. Without EHIC, purchasing insurance for particular trips will be the way to ensure that you don’t have to pay large sums in an accident, emergency, or illness. Those with pre-existing conditions will need to get specialized insurance.

Mobile Roaming

Under the current rules, mobile data is the same in the rest of the EU as the United Kingdom, but this will change. In the event of no deal with the EU, free roaming will not be guaranteed, but some mobile phone providers, including Tesco Mobile, Vodafone, and O2 have said they won’t charge for roaming in Europe. The UK government has also said that it will legislate to put £45 limits on charges while abroad.

Tour Operators

The Association of British Travel Agents has said that British travelers should be confident to book after March. In a statement they noted that tour operators provide the most comprehensive consumer protection. In fact, travel tours are protected under Package Travel Regulations, which will give you the right of a full refund. The Association of Independent Tour Operators agrees. They suggest booking holidays that have full financial protection. While tours are the safest way to book a holiday, you will still be able to travel to Europe without booking a tour or losing too much money. It is important to know ahead of time how the regulations will change between Britain and the country you are traveling to.


The relationship between the pound and the euro has already changed, and it will continue to do so. It has become more expensive for British travelers in Europe, and the exchange rate will likely fall more. After Theresa May’s vote to delay the parliamentary vote on December 17th the pound dropped to its lowest in two years, exchanging with the euro at 1.11 pounds.

While many things about traveling to Europe will change, being informed will help you avoid headaches and extraneous charges. Planning is always key to a successful holiday. Don’t allow Brexit to change your plans or discourage inspiration for the perfect vacation. It won’t be as difficult as it seems. Get ahead of it, and start today!

Personalized Items for Your Journey

Although travelling is a great experience, it can sometimes also be a stressful and difficult experience. Everyone loves a holiday, everyone loves seeing new places. Getting there, however, can be a nightmare. If you’ve never experienced the miserable process of losing your belongings, you doubtless know someone who has. There is a way to mitigate this risk, though, and ensure a more comfortable travelling experience. How? By using personalized travel items.

At specialist online printing companies, like, you will see a wide variety of personalised printed items available. This allows you to minimise the risk of your property being wrongly identified or lost while you’re travelling.

Having your things taken by mistake is never fun. It’s not always malicious, either, not everyone is out to steal. When you have a sea of thirty similar shaped and shaded cases it can be difficult to know at a glance which is yours. The same applies to items such as caps, jackets, and even water bottles. They can all be easy to lose if you’re not careful. Custom printing these items allow both you and other travellers to identify who they belong to, easily. It also reduces the risk you forget something yourself. If you see a cap with your name or design on it, you are more likely to notice it if you leave it laying around somewhere.

Enjoy plenty of choice

Nowadays online printers are not only useful for businesses; also as a customer you can enjoy the benefits of custom printing. There is a wide variety of items that can be custom printed at a specialist printing website. This means that custom printed goods aren’t just useful for holidaymakers. Those who regularly find themselves travelling for work, for example, will also find many useful items available for custom printing. Even down to the smallest items such as a pen, you can personally identify your possessions to ensure they don’t get pilfered.

Affordable and easy

Something else to consider about personalised printing is that when it’s done online it’s very easy and quick. It’s a process that takes mere minutes; you can do it on your lunch break or settled on your favourite chair in front of the TV. Simple choose your items, choose your design options, check out – done! Your goods will be printed to your specifications and delivered to your door. It’s as simple as that. With no overheads from physical store locations, it’s much cheaper, too.

The next time you travel, make sure both you and everyone around you can identify what’s yours easily thanks to custom printing.

The Advantages of Renting a Car in Glasgow

While there’s a lot to see and do in the Scottish city of Glasgow, you can have some wonderful day trips from the city if you have a rental car.

Advantages of Hiring a Car

  1. Flexibility – You are not bound by public transport destinations and timetables.
  2. Cost – It could be cheaper to rent a car than pay public transport fares, if there are at least two people in the car.
  3. You Don’t Have to Carry Your Gear – You can be prepared for the Scottish four seasons in one day, or take a picnic/BBQ to eat at a scenic spot.

Finding a Hire Car in Glasgow

I believe that May is a good time to visit Scotland. The days are are long and the weather often pleasant, although you never know in Scotland.

I had a look at prices to rent a car in Glasgow on the Discover Car Hire website for one week in mid May next year. The website compares prices from many different car rental firms.

The lowest price was £146 for an economy grade of car e.g. a Renault Kangoo through Alamo. Strangely, the cheapest mini car cost more than this, coming in at over £200 for the base price.

If you would prefer a slightly larger car, I found a compact car e.g. a Peugeot 308 for £168 through SIxt.  An intermediate car e.g. a Skoda Octavia cost £269 through Alamo. For a standard car such as Vauxhall Insignia, which could very comfortably seat four adults, the price was £288 through Sixt.

When my husband and I rent a car we generally go for a compact. We never have a lot of luggage, just two carry on suitcases, so they can easily fit in the boot of a compact car.

You can opt to pay an additional fee to full coverage. This means that you don’t have to pay any excesses for damage, breakdown expenses or lost keys. I always select this option when renting a car. For the compact car that added another £48, approximately 40%, bringing the price up to £173.

When you make a booking on the Discover Car Hire website, you pay a deposit of around 30% of the total price at the time of booking, You can cancel free of charge up to 48 hours prior to pick up time. You pay the balance when you pick up your hire car.

Some Driving Tips for the UK

In the UK,  we drive on the left hand side of the road. If you are from a country in which you drive on the right hand side, it can take a little time to get used to the gear stick being on your left side instead of your right. There are lots of roundabouts in the Scotland, so remember to give way from the right.

In general, the road signage in Scotland is very good. Google maps is a very useful navigation tool. However, as you may lose your mobile broadband signal is some rural areas, I’d recommend that you also have a map. Look at the route on the map before you set off on a journey, writing down the destinations and road numbers.

Ideas for Days Out by Car from Glasgow


Oban is a coastal town which lies in a horse shoe shaped bay. It takes around two hours to drive there from Glasgow.

The first part of the drive takes you along Loch Lomond. There’s a nice parking area at Inveruglas at the north of the loch.

You’ll drive through Glen Coe as you head west on the A82.

Once you are in Oban, you get some great views over the bay from McCaig’s Tower (a folly built as a job creation scheme by a banker).

Stirling/ Callander Circular

The city of Stirling, where I live, is a 30 minute drive by motorway from Glasgow. It’s well known for Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument. But I suggest that you also visit Cambuskenneth Abbey and the Battle of Bannockburn.

As you head towards Callander, you can stop to see Doune Castle. The castle was one of locations used in the Outlander series. There’s a level walk along the old railway line in Callander if you feel like stretching your legs. From Callander the return route to Glasgow is on the A811 passing through Garmore and Killearn.


Ayrshire is reached by driving down the M77 motorway from Glasgow. The recently renovated Burns Birthplace Museum is in Alloway, just south of the town of Ayr. There are two buildings. Burn’s Birthplace and the museum. You can walk between them along Poet’s Walk on which there are several sculptures related to Burn’s poems.

If you are an art lover, Rozelle House, is worth a visit. It’s only a few minutes drive from the Burn’s Birthplace Museum.

Culzean Castle lies further south. It’s located in a beautiful spot on the coast. There’s a walled garden, a lake and extensive grounds to explore.

If you don’t want to drive too far south, you could head east from Ayr to visit Dumfries House. The Queen Elizabeth Garden there is fantastic.

I hope that you find my tips for days out by hire car from Glasgow useful and that you have great holiday in Scotland.

How to Travel Around Europe On Your Motorcycle

Europe is not just known for its large and beautiful cities like Paris, Munich, Rome, and Amsterdam, the continent has a very scenic countryside as well. What better way to explore European culture, the scenic valleys, the art, the history and the food than to set out on your trusty motorcycle and enjoy the nature unadulterated. In this guide, I will throw some light on the technicalities of riding your bike through Europe.

Safety First

We have heard this phrase repeatedly. Although many of us shun it trying to be daring, it is actually for our own good, especially when riding a motorcycle. Riding a bike exposes your entire body and in the event of a mishap, your body receives most injuries. Considering you will be traveling from one country to another in this state on a bike,you should be prepared. I know you adore to go on your European adventure and I am not here to stop you. So, the first thing you need, which I feel is most important, is a helmet. Look for stylish motorcycle helmets for sale and pick the one that best suits your personality. For better safety, select from extra large motorcycle helmets.They provide better protection.

Increase Storage Space

Since you are going on a cross-country trip, you need essential stuff. This would have been easier if you had a car to keep your luggage and essentials but no worries. Fortunately, there are accessories you can buy for your bike to add space. Look for well-built side bags. These bags come in various sizes and shapes, so search carefully and choose the right ones. If side bags aren’t your thing, look for hard top boxes that can be fitted to the rear end of your bike. These cases keep your stuff safe in all kinds of weather, however, they cost more than the side bags.

Draft a Route

Obviously, there are so many so many countries and places to explore in Europe but you cannot see them all, at least not in one go. Therefore, I suggest you to draft yourroute on a map before you set out on your trip. Mark which countries you want tovisit, which routes you will take, where you will stop etc. Planning ahead can save you time on the road. I know nobody likes to be lost or stranded in an unknown place.

Intelligent Packing

Packing is an art that only a few are good at. If you are one of those who have mastered it, you are in luck. Others need to learn and learn fast. To start off, you won’t be able to take so many things with you, so cramming things together in your side bag won’t help you out. Your essentials should be properly placed where you can reach them easily. Always pack your things based on their priority of use. Think about the items you will need more frequently and pack them in the last or keep them handy in your backpack.

Prepare Your Bike for the Journey

Before you leave the safety of your home, inspect your bike for any damages, change tires if you need to and repair any faulty part. The last thing you want is a mishap like a broken bike chain in the middle of the highway with nowhere to go and no one to help. I suggest you allow a motorcycle mechanic to take a look and inspect all the essential components for a seamless journey.

Once you are done with the preparation, sit back, relax and wait for the day you get to have your very own European adventure.

Why London Is The Ideal Destination Anytime Of The Year

International travel has always been an exciting venture for anyone planning a vacation. Knowing the culture of a completely new place, immersing themselves in the whole experience and energy of the city and taking in the sights for unforgettable memories is a summation of a litany of things everybody would like to indulge in on a trip to a foreign land. A lot of global destinations are on the radar of Indian tourists nowadays but one city never drops off their travel bucket list: London.

You might enjoy your weekly getaways or a staycation at some boutique hotel in Bali, Indonesia, or a taste of fine dining at a few good restaurants in Crete, Greece, but the fact that London is almost always on our mind during these trips will not be refuted by anyone. The iconic skyline, the history of its royalty, the beautiful amalgamation of the past and future and the mighty good restaurants in London are just some of the UK capital’s highlights. Here are a few reasons why London will remain the ideal destination any time you want to plan an international vacation:

Tourist Attractions

All the Hollywood and Bollywood movies showing montages of London’s tourist hotspots already had us itching to visit those places. The life-like wax statues of Madam Tussauds, the magnificent Buckingham Palace and the vast greenery of Hyde Park are all slices of paradise for first time and returning tourists. What’s more, you can see all of these places from a bird’s eye view when you visit the London Eye! If you are not looking for the usual London trip, transport yourself back in history with a trip to the Natural History or British Museum. London has something for everyone!


West End theatre is one of the most popular districts, globally renowned for plays that are critically acclaimed and loved. London’s theatre scene is supposed to represent the highest level of commercial theatre along with New York’s Broadway, and has been host to a lot of memorable plays. You can walk down and immerse yourself into a theatrical experience that is unmatched by any other in the world. If you are lucky, you may even see your favourite Hollywood stars play famous characters, live in front of your eyes.


London is the mecca for a lot of sports fanatics. You will get a majority of iconic sports establishments in the city, with football, cricket and lawn tennis all having prominent structures here. Premier League giants Arsenal and Chelsea have football stadiums that have been host to historical clashes in football, while the Lord’s Cricket Ground has had its fair share of memorable battles. One of the most prestigious tennis tournaments, the Wimbledon, is conducted here in London, so it is safe to say that the city will give you the ideal dosage of different sports, leaving you exhilarated on each of your visits.


The versatile range of accommodation you will find in London will suit almost all kinds of budgets without any compromise. Bed and breakfast establishments are very popular with authentic English breakfasts and a traditional stay guaranteed. The 5-star hotels in London give you a taste of how the royals lived (and still live) in England, with every service you can imagine of at your beck and call. Hotels like The LaLiT are also close to tourists attractions like the Tower Bridge, making it easy and convenient to plan your day without travelling too much.