Over numerous city breaks, holidays and sunshine-seeking trips I’ve learnt a few things about travelling that I’ve turned into some simple rules that I follow every time I go away to make the break run as smoothly as possible! We’ve recently been to Dublin which you would have seen if you follow me on Instagram and I definitely used all of these tips before and during the time that we were away.
1. Check The Weather
First and foremost, this is the first thing I do before I book and before I pack for a trip. If you’re heading to a city in the UK or Ireland, the weather’s usually going to be similar to how it is at home at the time that you travel. Basically, it’s pretty cold, windy and rainy in Nottingham at the moment and it was fairly similar in Dublin! I made sure that I’d packed my warmest jumpers, comfiest trainers and made sure that we had some inside activities planned whilst we were there too. The same goes for warm-weather holidays too. We needed to take some jumpers and sweaters last time we went to Greece because they were due a storm. Don’t ever ignore the weather forecast!
2. Plan Your Packing
This obviously follows the first point but I’ve learnt to plan my outfits for each day and night that I’m away and this just makes packing so much easier and lighter. I take snaps of each outfit on my phone so I know what I’ve planned too! In terms of liquids, we always travel hand-luggage only and we’ve become pros at packing to the under 100ml and tiny plastic bag limit. I save loads of samples from magazines and events over the year of shampoo, face wash, foundation etc and then take these instead of bulky bottles. Sachets and samples are perfect for travelling light!
3. Budget Properly
We always end up coming home with about €100 because we take a little extra to cover emergencies but usually we’re pretty spot on with budgeting. Usually, for food, our budget is around €30 for breakfast, €30 for lunch and €60 for dinner per day and then we add in another €20 for coffees and taxis during the day. We usually don’t spend all of this and some days will be more expensive than others but food-wise, this is what we work to.
We always make sure that we’ve already booked our activities or trips before we go away so they’re already paid for or we look up how much they are before we leave and make sure there’s enough money for what we want to do. It’s a great idea to have any idea of how much you need to take because you don’t want to be caught short!
4. Make An Itinerary
A great idea to get the best out of your travels is to look up things that interest you in the location that you’re going or plan a gig or your trip around visiting friends or family. Check blogs, ask for recommendations on Twitter using the #travelbloggers or #tbloggers hashtag or even just the hashtag for where you’re heading on Instagram and you’ll find loads of things that people recommend. Be wary of guided tours that can turn out to be very expensive and you might not be interested on everything on the trip so check them out before you buy.
But, as good as having an itinerary is, don’t be afraid to stray from your original plan. For example, we were going to go and visit the Book of Kells & Trinity College in Dublin but we found out that the entry was €11 each and we didn’t actually know what the Book of Kells was or even if we were actually interested in it. So, we left it and we don’t regret it at all. Trinity College will always be there so perhaps we’ll head back in the summer and check it out with some sunnier weather behind it.
Top Tip: Just because everyone says you have to go somewhere, you don’t if it doesn’t interest you!
5. Take Public Transport
We switch between both public transport and taking taxis when it comes to city breaks. In places like Barcelona and Amsterdam, the public transport is so easy to use and most people speak English so you can ask if you get lost. This is normally a much cheaper option for airport transfers. We got the train into Barcelona and an airport coach on the way back to the terminal and in Dublin, we jumped on a €10 return bus instead of grabbing an expensive taxi to our hotel. We usually get taxis pre-booked if we go somewhere like Greece which is less of a city break and is trickier to get around but always check out or book things like this out before you go!
6. You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get
Another lesson that we’ve learnt during our travels is to always ask for an upgrade or some extras if you want them because if you don’t ask, you don’t get! Small things like complimentary snacks and small boxes of chocolate like this cute gesture from The Spencer Hotel for my birthday trip to Dublin can really make a trip special. All you have to do is find their general manager’s email and pop a polite request over and they’ll usually see what they can do if they have free rooms or anything else they can offer like free spa/gym access. You can also ask for upgrades and things like late check out once you’re there as they’ll more likely be able to accommodate with what they have available on the day. Especially as a travel blogger, you can swing this kind of thing if you can show them some previous examples. It doesn’t have to be a lot but sometimes you can get incredible upgrades like Luke & I received in Liverpool for our anniversary.
7. Don’t Be Afraid To Complain
When it comes to your holiday, you need to remember that it’s your break that you’ve paid for. Even when I’m not away on holiday, if I’m paying for something and it arrives and it’s not perfect or how I’d expect it to be, I’ll complain, ask for a refund or ask for it to be replaced. We ended up getting a completely free brunch whilst we were away in Dublin as our breakfasts both arrived cold. We asked for them to be re-done and the restaurant obviously don’t receive many complaints as the manager was mortified and we received two coffees and two full English brekkies for free! This was their fault, of course, the breakfast wasn’t right, but if we’d have paid and been annoyed that we’d paid for a mediocre breakfast, it would have ruined our day. But, in the end, we received a tasty, piping hot breakfast and two coffees each and were really satisfied.
8. Don’t Waste Time Getting Lost
Another tip that I’ve learnt through a few city breaks is to not waste time getting lost. Ask for directions, get as many maps as you can and plan your routes. Another great tip is that if you’re on O2, sign up for O2 Travel. This means that you can use your data for £1.99 a day whilst you’re out of the UK. This means that you don’t have to give up the lifesaver that is Google Maps and you’ll hardly ever get lost!
The prison you can see here is the Kilmainham Gaol tour in Dublin, it’s awesome, really really interesting and amazing value as it’s only €8 a person for at least two hours of fun! We took a taxi to and from Kilmainham as it was snowing and tricky to navigate to.
9. Chill Out
Finally, remember that you’re supposed to be on holiday! Whether it’s a city break or a sunny beach holiday, try not to get too stressed about things. We always end up burning ourselves out during city breaks because we try and fit so much in and always end up feeling like we need a holiday at the end of it! It’s not worth making yourself actually uncomfortable just to see a monument that will always be there.
10. Take Photographs!
Finally, make sure that you document your favourite parts of the trip! Upload them to Instagram or Facebook, tweet them, do whatever you need to to make sure that you don’t forget about the fun that you had on the trip. Forget about the holiday haters that complain about your cocktail in the sun pics, they’ll do exactly the same when they go away! Here’s the Kilmainham Gaol again below.
Here’s the Kilmainham Gaol again below.
These are my Travel Lessons and I hope they’ve helped. This is a recap of my time in Dublin for you guys and an entry into Go Euro’s #travellessons competition.