Travelling Solo or Travel With a Buddy

When it comes to taking holidays, is it better to travel solo or travel with a buddy? This is a question that plagues my mind whenever I am thinking of going on a holiday. I have holidayed with a buddy, but as a solo person traversing through life, there have been many times where travelling alone was the only option.

So, is travelling solo the way to go or is it best to have a travel buddy? 

Travel with a buddy.

If you can travel with a buddy there are numerous advantages.

1. You have someone to look after your luggage when you need to visit the toilet or have to order food.
2. You have someone to share your holiday with, take your photos, and someone to relive your holiday with when you return home.
3. You can save money with accommodation by choosing twin share and therefore avoiding the single supplement that many hotels and tour companies charge.
4. For the single ladies, there is an extra level of protection when you have a travel buddy. You can be anxiety-free when you want to visit an isolated place of interest, go for a ramble through the forest, and you can have someone to watch over your drink when you’re in the pub.

Travelling Solo

Travelling solo is a popular option with many travellers.

1. You can do what you want and go where you like.
2. You can have a room all to yourself.
3. Avoid any contention or arguments that can sometimes arise during a holiday.
4. Party all night and then arrive back at your hotel without having to explain where you have been.

I have had a chance to experience both of these two travel options, but sometimes your choice will depend on why you are travelling. If it’s a business trip you may not have the option to travel with a buddy.

Some female travellers may choose the travelling solo option as they travel solo very well and wouldn’t have it any other way, but I have had some scary moments whilst travelling on my own. But I have learned that this mode of travel can be done well if you practice some travelling safety tips.

Here is some advice for travellers who choose the travelling solo option.

Some of this advice may seem obvious but you may be surprised at how many travellers don’t adhere to these tourist travel tips and find themselves in dire straits.

  • Before you leave the country tell family and friends your travel plans, especially if you are booking your holiday online. I leave a copy of my itinerary with my family/friends even if I am going on a specialised tour.
  • Register with Smartraveller.gov.au or a similar government department in your country.
  • If you are visiting an isolated place or hiking in the great doors, make sure you you tell someone where you are going, like a concierge or hotel manager. Take water, food, warm clothes, and a map/compass, as the digital guide of choice, the mobile/cell phone doesn’t always have network coverage.
  • For female travellers, never leave your drink unattended and, where possible, if someone offers to buy you a drink, order it yourself at the bar. 
  • When you’re travelling in a busy city, don’t explore deserted side streets and keep your bag securely in front of you or use a travel wallet under your clothes. Avoid stashing your cash or documents in your pockets. I know someone who doesn’t use a wallet and had lost a significant amount of cash after storing it in his shirt pocket.
  • Stay alert in crowds. Statistics show that cowardly muggers more often than not prey on people who stroll along nonchalantly or those who look fearful. So be brave and walk with an attitude.

Of course it isn’t always possible to avoid all problems and tragedies whilst travelling, but whether you travel solo or with a travel buddy, practicing these tourist travel trips and being prepared before you embark on your holiday can make all the difference.

 

Image:

Backpacker

andrew_t8

Pixabay.com

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Explore the Great Aussie Outdoors: Camping in Glen Davis

Explore the great Aussie Outdoors.  

Aside from the iconic Australian landmarks like the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and the dynamic city life and bright lights of Kings Cross, the best way to experience Australia is to explore the great Aussie outdoors on a camping weekend.

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I recently did an overnight camping and four wheel driving stint near Glen Davis in the Capertee Valley, which is located in the Wollemi National Park, just north of the town of Lithgow.

Our camping spot was the Coorongooba Campground, which is surrounded by a golden brown monolithic escarpment and spectacular rock formations. There are picnic areas, barbecue facilities, and plenty of spots to set up your tent or camper trailer, but if you don’t have the luxuries of a hot shower or your own portable toilet, get ready to rough it as there are minimal toilet facilities available and no running water.  There are other camping areas that offer hot showers and running water like the Glen Davis Camping Area and for those who like something a little more comfortable there are elegant boutique hotels and secluded cottages.

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For those with kids there is a river and plenty of wide open spaces for the kids to ride their bikes, and there are plenty of chances to sneak a peak at some of the wildlife: goannas, kangaroos, and a resident wombat. 

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Dunns Swamp is a great place to picnic, swim and explore the lake in a canoe.

Four wheel driving. Embrace the Open Road. 

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If you like your extreme outdoor activities there are many four wheel driving tracks available. We took a heart pumping and hair raising drive that was full of sharp turns, hairpin bends, and and moments where we were precariously teetering on the edge of a rocky road that had a sheer cliff on one side that lead down to the valley floor. But the thrilling ride was well worth it as we were greeted by spectacular views at Mount Airlie.

Experience the Australian countryside.

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Australia is well known for its ruggedly beautiful countryside, so a visit to Pearson’s Lookout will give you the opportunity to view uninterrupted stunning views of the Capertee Valley and Australia’s own Grand Canyon.

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There are also many bush-walks available in the Wollemi National Park, as well as horse riding and mountain biking along the Crown Creek Fire Trail in the Gardens of Stone National Park.

Besides what I have noted here there are many more activities and accommodation choices that tourists can discover as they seek to explore the great Aussie outdoors.

Happy travelling!

 

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Tourist Travel Tales

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Great Britain is a country that is easily traveled with a few choices available for its many travelers: train, bus, or hire car. And whether you visit England, Scotland, Ireland or Wales, there are a treasure trove of things just waiting for you to explore and discover them. But the best thing about travelling and going on holidays is not so much what you experience within a countries borders, but it is the fascinating tales that you can tell your family and friends when you arrive home.

As a solo traveler around Britain, I have had a mixed bag of delightful, humorous, awe-inspiring and terrifying experiences. But the good mixed in with the bad has helped me to a more savvy traveler and has enriched my life in ways that I had never expected. So I would like to share some of my travel tales with you in the hopes that you too will become a savvy traveler.

Cloud over mountain

Image: Brecon Beacons National Park. Diana Jane Heath.

 

Tale no. 1.  A chance to banish my horse-riding fears in Wales.

I have always loved horse-riding, but after an accident some years ago, I had developed a fear of horses. But during my visit to London, and after some cajoling from a travel buddy, I took a three day trip to Wales, which included a one-day horse-riding trek. The day we arrived in the Brecon Beacons National Park and drove to the horse-riding centre, I was beginning to feel apprehensive and my mind was so consumed with the thoughts of falling off or being thrown from a horse that I missed the stunning rich green mountainous Welsh countryside.

 

Horses at Pen y Fan James Woolley

 

My fear began to intensify as we arrived at the Horse Riding and Pony Trekking Centre, and as we saw the horses or ponies being led out into the yard, I felt there was no way I could go through with this. My travel buddy smiled encouragingly at me, and the trek guide assured any nerve-racked beginners that the ponies were well-trained and that there was nothing to fear.

I tried to hide at the back of the group and was thinking of re-considering, but before I could head for the hills, the trek guide had selected a beautiful pony for me. She was called Niwl (Welsh for mist), and as I was given the reins, Niwl regarded me coolly with a gimlet eye. I knew that horses could sense fear so I tried to be as nonchalant as possible, but as took my place in the saddle, Niwl was no fool, and she shifted uneasily from foot to foot and turned her head towards me. I knew she could see though my false bravado. But my fear was unfounded. These Welsh ponies were indeed well trained and they plodded along calmly behind each other as we headed along the trail.

We rode along for about half an hour and breathed in the delightfully fresh mountain air.  Then one of the trek guides took some of the more experienced riders for a canter ahead while the rest of us were content to just ride along single file and take in the scenery.   After the trek was over, I was pleased. My trek has been incident-free, and as we arrived back at the centre, I dismounted from my pony like a well-trained equestrian. I said goodbye to Niwl and patted her on her dappled brown downy cheek, and I’m sure she winked back at me.

That night whilst having a drink at the bar, my travel buddy grinned at me and asked whether I had finally defeated my equine fear. I had to admit that my experience with Niwl had helped me to feel a little more relaxed about horse-riding, but my verdict for the future was to stay on solid ground.

Whether you are an experienced rider or a first time beginner and even though you may be like me and suffer from horse-related trauma, the amazing Welsh ponies will steal your heart and may also instill in you a passion for horse-riding.

If you are traveling to Wales, take a look at some of these horse-riding and pony trekking centres:

 

Cantref Riding Centre, near Brecon

Ellesmere Riding Centre, Llangorse

Llangorse Riding Centre, Llangorse

Trans Wales Trails

 

Happy travels!

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Tale no. 2. A wild and wonderful ride through Dartmoor.

While I was visiting the South of England, I took a Trafalgar tour through Devon and Cornwall. One night we were to have dinner at the Dartmoor Inn, which is nestled among the wild and ruggedly beautiful Dartmoor National Park.

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Our accommodation was just a short drive to the inn, but it was ride that I would never forget.

Our bus driver, with a wide grin plastered on his face and an eerie light glimmering from his eyes, took us on a wild and wonderful crazy drive along a secluded country road with the dark and mysterious moors on either side. Our only illumination was the dim lighting inside the bus and the full moon that sailed in and out of the clouds. Occasionally, outside the window, tiny flickering lights danced along the moors in the distance, and I wondered whether they could be the fabled Will-o’-the-wisp–the ghostly lights that are rumoured to have lured many a hapless traveller to their certain death.

As we careened madly down the windy road with its sharp twists and turns, the manic bus driver entertained us with silly jokes and and bizarre tales such as the tale of the bus driver who had to fight off a pair of giant hairy hands that mysteriously appeared and wrestled with him for control of the vehicle.  As I left the bus I couldn’t help but sneak a peek at the driver’s hands. Although this story was just for our tourist amusement, it fitted in perfectly with the surreal and nail biting drive through the spooky scenery.  

Stay tuned for more travel tales

 

Images:

Aircraft. The Pixelman

Pixabay.com

Houses of Parliament/Palace of Westminster/Big Ben.  Photo by Unsplash.

Pixabay.com

Horses at Pen y Fan. James Woolley. Flickr.com (Creative Commons)

Additional images:

DJ Heath

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Top Places to Visit in Sydney

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As a resident Sydneysider who has visited many other iconic cities, I know how overwhelming it can be arriving in an unknown city for the first time. Although are many great travel sites out there that provide detailed information for tourists, I wanted to provide a more personalised guide to my own city – Sydney, Australia. So read on and discover some of the top places to visit in Sydney

Sydney has been called home by the indigenous Aboriginal people, early British convicts and settlers. This harbourside city has been voted as one the World’s Best Cities to Live In, and as a city that has come of age it should be a destination of choice on a tourist‘s bucket list.

It is one of the world’s best cities for many reasons; its harbour looks great day or night, it offers a tourist so many things to do and see, and of course, like many of Australia’s other cities, Sydney reflects the famous Aussie spirit of friendliness.

Sydney is home to many well-known landmarks and tourist hot-spots. Iconic images such as the Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, and of course, the legendary Bondi Beach, will quickly come to mind. But besides these world famous urban structures and beach-side gems, here are some Top Tourist Tips for some hidden treasures and places and activities that are well worth discovering.

Activities

Barangaroo

Historic Barangaroo has been a site of spiritual and cultural significance for the Aboriginal people long before colonisation. It has also recently undergone an extreme face-lift as part of Sydney’s largest urban renewal projects and it is now proudly titled, Sydney’s new Harbour foreshore playground. It is located on the western harbour foreshore and is easily accessible from Circular Quay, Wynyard Station and Darling Harbour. Although its development continues to evolve with more additions planned for 2016 up until 2023, Barangaroo offers its visitors a wealth of cafes, bars, restaurants, parks and cultural experiences.

You can picnic in the Barangaroo Reserve, a six-hectare headland that features a spectacular sandstone foreshore, and is home to 75,000 native shrubs and trees. You can walk or cycle or join a guided tour and learn about the history of Barangaroo and its rich indigenous heritage. Barangaroo also hosts a wide range of art and cultural events such as The Ephemeral City.

Dee Why Beach.

Although most tourist have Bondi Beach on their list when visiting Sydney, I recommend some of the other beaches that are located on the North Shore. My personal favourite is Dee Why Beach.  It has a family friend beach for swimming, and a rock pool.  Enjoy the magnificent views of the ocean from The Bicentennial Coastal Walkway, a cliff walk that takes you past Long Reef golf links and down to North Curl Curl Beach.  You can choose to chill out and sample some of Dee Why’s finest dining at the many beach front cafes and restaurants like Stella Blu.

The Royal Botanical Gardens.

The Royal Botanical Gardens is an idyllic horticultural centrepiece located in the heart of Sydney. One step inside the gates and you can escape from the hustle and bustle of the crowds and stroll down winding paths that are lined with colourful native flowers and trees. You can breath in the fresh scented air and visit one of the many gardens on display like the HSBC Oriental Garden, and the Palace Rose Garden or enjoy a picnic under the shade of the Coolabah tree. Maybe you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a laughing Kookaburra or a Crimson Rosella or see a Flying-Fox. But beware of the bold Australian White Ibis – they are guilty of stealing a snack or two.

Sydney Tall Ships.

A great way of experiencing the beautiful Sydney harbour is on-board a Sydney Harbour Tall Ship. As you travel out into the harbour on a vessel that is part of Australia’s maritime history, and with the wind in your hair and the sails above you billowing in the breeze, you can enjoy a range of dining or entertainment options.

You can choose a Champagne Brunch Cruise or a Wine and Canapes Dinner Cruise. If you are feeling adventurous why not join the Convicts, Castles and Champagne Tour or experience a live show, the wildly entertaining, Attack of the Pirates.

Sydney Harbour Jet-boat

If you see yourself as a thrill-seeker why not try the Sydney Harbour Jet-boat. Take a ride on the wild side with Thunder Jet’s Twist Ride or the Extreme Adrenaline Ride. You can also take home a video of your ride to prove to your friends and family that you are truly an adrenaline junkie.

The Harbour Bridge Climb

The Sydney Harbour Bridge (affectionately known as the ‘coat-hanger’) is a magnificent and enduring icon of Australia. It has even featured in Hollywood movies such as Independence Day. Although many travellers are happy to sit back and admire its grand steel arch and study concrete and granite pylons from a safe viewing distance on the Circular Quay foreshore, why not take part in the Harbour Bridge Climb.  As you begin your climb you will not only appreciate the sacrifice of those who gave their lives while building this mighty structure, you will be rewarded with the spectacular panoramic views at the top.

Bars and Restaurants

If you are looking for a great night out in Sydney, then look no further than Ivy’s entertainment quarter on George Street, which is the number one place for first class dining, entertainment, and retail options. You can sample an Aussie beer at The Royal George, enjoy a cocktail while sitting at the marble bar at the sophisticated Establishment, or experience Ivy’s unique night-club, Pacha, that combines burlesque, dance and features circus performers.

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‘The Establishment’

 

The Opera Bar

The Opera Bar is situated at Circular Quay, near the Opera House steps. As well as being located in the middle of the cultural heart of Sydney, The Opera Bar provides uninterrupted views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which is spectacular day or night.

Gowings Bar & Grill

Gowings Bar & Grill came as quite a surprise to me as I had no idea it existing until a few months ago. I discovered this little wine and dining gem after a recommendation from a friend. It is located inside the historic Gowings and State Theatre building on Market Street.

Stylish, Spacious and Sophisticated, the Gowings Bar & Grill offers comfy couches to relax and an extensive wine list and mouth-watering cuisine. Gowings Bar & Grill is a mix of European Brasserie style and contemporary design and offers breakfast, lunch (closed for lunch on Sundays) and dinner, and the bar is open until 12 am. As well as the Bar & Grill, there is also a boutique hotel (QT Sydney Hotel) located inside the same building, with 200 guest suites.

 

Stay tuned for more Tourist Travel Tips for the great city of Sydney.

Happy travelling!

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A guide for newbie plane travellers.

 

When it comes to airplane travel – the well-worn phrase “the journey is more important than the destination” can depend on one all important factor – are you a savvy traveller? You don’t have to be an experienced frequent flyer to be travel-savvy, but you can certainly travel better when you are a well-informed traveller.

I am not a seasoned traveller, but I would like to stay that I am now a savvy traveller when it comes to airplane travel as I have clocked up quite a few air miles during my life-time. Although I am still not 100% convinced that I am a fan of this mode of travel, I believe that if you are prepared with some essential tourist travel tips you will travel more comfortably. So before I begin this guide for newbie plane travellers, let me digress.

The first time I dreamed of being on a plane was when I was a child. As I stood in my backyard and gazed up at the sleek white underbellies of the many planes that flew thousands of miles above our house, I wondered what it would be like to travel on one of those amazing flying machines. My nana lived near the airport and from her balcony I used to watch the airplanes coming into land at Mascot airport. At night they looked like tiny fairy lights twinkling away in the night sky.

The next time I was at the airport I was saying goodbye to my dad who was going back to visit his homeland, England. With my face pressed up against the glass in the terminal lounge, I watched one of the 747’s take off and it looked impressive as it raced down the runway and gracefully rose from the confines of the earth into the endless abandonment of the sky. As I got older I continued to dream and save so that I would, one day, be escaping to far-flung romantic destinations and exploring iconic cities that I had only read about in a book or seen on the television.

But one of my earliest experiences of the airport that impressed upon me were the masses of people rushing to and fro with luggage piled high on trolleys or dragging their baggage behind them. I wondered why so many of them looked so cranky because in my mind I saw them as the lucky ones who were able to fly away from grim reality and escape to exciting and exotic destinations.

I would ask my friends who were experienced travellers about these weary-looking passengers and the responses quite often were “It’s because some of them are about to miss their flights, or they have been stuck on a plane for over 20 hours and that’s a long time to be sitting in one place.” At the time I did not give these responses much thought, but now that I have had the opportunity to be one of those cranky worn-out plane commuters, I sympathise wholeheartedly.

An introduction to the ‘joys’ of plane travel.

My first plane flight was terrifying. I was on a short domestic flight from Sydney to Coolangatta, which is located on the Gold Coast. My travel buddy, a more experienced traveller, failed to tell me about the dreaded word that haunts all frequent flyers- turbulence! Honestly, I thought I was going to die. The plane was going up and down and I am sure side-to-side. Of course now I know that the pilot was dropping the plane a thousand feet or so to escape the bad weather. I had never been scared of death before but that was because I had never been faced with it. At least that was what I believed at the time.

I looked over at my friend who sitting next to me as cool as a cucumber and she glanced back at me with an amused expression, patted my arm and said “Don’t worry it’s only turbulence, it will all be over soon.” In disbelief I stared at her and thought “Great thanks for telling me – now!” Secretly I wanted her to be as panic stricken like I was. And what’s worse, as we finally came into land, this terrible searing pain began to run from my ears into my neck. My ears were blocked, but I could certainly hear my heart hammering away. My friend was still calm as ever and infuriatingly insensitive to my suffering – miserable comforter that she was – “Just blow through your nose and your ears will unblock” – was her cool response. Yeah right! It took me an hour after the flight to unblock them.

Since that day I have flown several times, and if there has ever been any turbulence, I had become as nonchalant as my travel buddy had been.  I have had a few scary moments since then, but all of my journeys had only been short domestic flights. I had not attempted the flight to end all flights – the international or transatlantic flight.

Sydney to London is 21+ hours, with a short stop over in Singapore (these days it is via Dubai). I now fully understand all those grumpy irritable “get out of my way I want to kill someone first and then have a shower second” travellers I saw in the airport all those years ago.

Aviation is completely unnatural. The birds have got it right. Unfortunately we will never be able to take to flight like our feathered friends. Airplane travel can be enjoyable if you have the privilege of flying Business or First Class, but being stuck for hours squashed between other cranky travellers and having to sit in a cramped seat can feel like a nightmare. All Economy travellers look forward to getting up and stretching their legs which never seems to stretch anything. One month later and I still had knots in places I never knew existed.

If you are new to plane travel do not despair or panic, just remember these Top Ten Tourist Travel Tips and you will be a savvy traveller and hopefully a more comfortable one.

 

Pre-flight tips

1. Research your chosen airline and your country of destination.

A savvy traveller knows what to expect from plane travel. Of course, this does not include unforeseen circumstances. If you research the effects of plane travel and the details of the airline that you will be travelling with your mind will be put at ease. Also researching your destination has a two-fold purpose: you will be familiar with the country’s culture, weather, transport options, and it also helps you to be prepared when you finally leave the airport.

When I travel I always research the details of my chosen airline such as their seat options, food and entertainment as these things can change depending on the airline. Before I left Australia to fly to England I researched the best option for traveling from London to Yorkshire. The answer was: National Express Coaches. And if you book online you might be able to snag a cheap fare.

There are also some good travel sites on the Internet that will help you become a well-informed traveller. https://smartraveller.gov.au.

2. Ask a travel agent.

If you are still a little old fashioned and you do not like the idea of booking through a website, a reputable travel agent can not only can secure you a good deal, they can provide additional information about travel as well. They have the travel experience and they have heard many tales from other travellers, so it is well worth asking them for advice.

In-flight tips.

3. Avoid Alcohol if you can. Drink plenty of water.

Being a captive passenger for an exceedingly long time makes a plane traveller look forward to the food, which is pretty good these days. Then there is the alcohol, which we are told by the experts to avoid and drink water instead. Alcohol may distance you from the reality of being stuck in a hollow noisy metal tube but it can be very dehydrating. On a long flight I still like to have a drink or two but I alternate my alcohol with glasses of water as it helps with the dehydration that can result from the air conditioning.

4. Dream of your destination.

Whether it is a business trip, a holiday or flying home to see the relatives, think or dream about what you will be doing once you leave the plane. One thing I got right as a complete novice to the rules of flying is that when things get hairy in the air my thoughts turned to my future destination, my holiday, which I have been dreaming about for months.

When it comes to flying – the destination is more important than the journey. Flying is just a means to an end.

Of course, plane travel has its perks – your own personal entertainment system.  And if you are unable to pay for the luxurious Business Class or First Class, you now have the Economy Plus option that offers slightly wider seating and more leg room.

5. Take the aisle seat.

Not everyone will agree with me, but if you are terrified of heights do not sit in the window seat, you will be tempted to look out the window. If you have ever seen the original Twilight Zone movie, you will never look out a window again. So try to get an aisle seat. You may have to be mindful of the drink trolley as it sails merrily by at some ridiculous hour, but at least you can get up and stretch your legs without having to clamber over your fellow passengers in the adjoining seats.

6. Be Entertained.

Keep yourself entertained. Watch the movie, listen to music, read a book, play a game. If you have a smartphone or iPad, you can switch them to Flight mode, when you are advised to do so, and live -stream the music from the in-flight music channel. Many airlines offer fantastic on-board entertainment options. Also consider this – you are paying for it as part of your flight so why not use it. Entertainment will distract you from your fears. Simple, but effective.

7. Travel medicine.

Travel sickness can have you stuck in the toilet at the airport, which can cause you to possibly miss your flight, but if you buy some travel medicine – you can be spared this embarrassment. Ginger is also good for an upset stomach. If you forget to buy medicine before hand, you should be able to purchase some at the airport.

8. Take earplugs and eye-drops.

Earplugs can help with the in-flight noise: crying babies or overly chatty fellow travellers.

Eye-drops are a good way of coping with dry or irritated eyes during your flight. I developed an allergy on my way back from London and I was almost blind for most of the flight. Fortunately a friendly fellow traveller helped me locate my luggage once we had reached Sydney. But some eye-drops would have come in handy.

9. Buy a travel eye mask.

A travel eye mask can help to block out any light. Even when the lights are dimmed on the plane, there will still be reading lights that could cause you grief and make you loose sleep.

10. Take a travel pillow.

An airline will usually provide you with a pillow, but bring your own in case you want to have a short kip in the airport lounge. But remember to keep your eye on the time. Time flies in the airport, which causes many travellers to miss their flights. You will know who these travellers are, they are the people who are running like crazy through the terminal.

 

This is my personal favourite travel tip: Buy some lollies. They can help when your ears begin to block as the plane starts its descent.

 

Finally, remember the travel mantra: When it comes to flying, it is not the journey that matters but the destination.

Happy travelling!

 

Image:

depositphotos.com

 

 

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