Charity shops are my bread and butter; I spend a lot of time scouring them, whether I’m at home or away, and I try to visit any interesting ones I pass. However, not all travellers support charities when they’re packing, holidaying or returning home, and they don’t realise how easy it is to adjust to giving something back. Here are the best ways to support charities as you travel, whatever your time and budget.
Visit Charity Shops in Your Destination
Yelp is particularly good for pre-trip research. Plus, some councils list all the shops – Edinburgh has a detailed charity shop map, designed to help locals, but good for tourists, too.
If I owned a second home (not that I even own a first home, but let’s overlook that for a second), it would be in Edinburgh: the city of excellent bookshops, raw history and, as you’ll soon see, some of the best independent cafes.
I spend time here every summer, grabbing as many Festival Fringe and Book Festival experiences as I can, like the cultural equivalent of the cash-in-a-wind-tunnel finale frenzy in The Crystal Maze. It’s an exhausting but essential part of my year, and a chance to see new plays and shows with family and friends.
Dovecot is a pretty well-hidden venue. Tucked at the end of Edinburgh’s Infirmary Street, in what used to be a public bathhouse, the Dovecot Studio produces tapestries and rugs for worldwide clients. It also maintains its own creative foundation, and the Dovecot Gallery shows contemporary art exhibitions, which drew me in to visit.
The Dovecot Gallery’s leading current exhibitions are striking in their own right, but together they make a formidable pair, and they’ll be running until late September to give you a serious culture injection.
Back in the early days of visiting the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, I’d always look forward to the long train ride up north and watching the world go by from my window seat. However, after a fraught train journey last year, involving delays, confusion and crouching in a packed corridor for several hours, I decided to try the Caledonian Sleeper for this year’s trip home.
Would it be worth swapping a hotel room, or an early evening train and a night in my own bed, for a night on the tracks in a Standard Sleeper Twin Berth? There was only one way to find out…
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is nearly upon us for another year – where does the time go? In fact, time is all too precious when you’re at the Fringe, and it can feel as though you need to be a logistics expert to pack as much into your day as possible.
However, taking a breather in between shows doesn’t have to involve lurking in the nearest Starbucks. Those tiny bits of free time can be maximised by doing something fun, unusual and also cheap.
Dine student-style in Southside – 30 mins
Nearby venues: Underbelly Med Quad (V302), BBC@Potterow (V25), Assembly George Square Theatre (V8).
Another year of travel highs and lows has gone by, so it’s time for a review of poppy-filled, sports-dominated, battle-scarred 2014. The stories below stood out for me as the most realistic insights into much-discussed destinations and travel habits.
Trouble in Paradise
Thailand suffered from the effects of harsh military rule and the aftershock of a tragic double murder, claiming the lives of two British holidaymakers. The country’s Tourism Authority is now trying to put a positive spin on martial law, claiming it offers greater safety for visitors, but the increased presence of the police and the army isn’t appealing to everyone. During the darkest times for Thailand, Russian tourists helped to boost the economy, but the falling value of the rouble has seen fewer Russian arrivals. Fortunately, high-spending Chinese visitors have helped Thailand get back on its feet again. This is all the more important as it’s now been 10 years since the devastating Boxing Day tsunami claimed 8,000 lives and affected 12,000 homes.
Sometimes talking about the Ed Fringe (full title: Edinburgh Festival Fringe) makes you sound like a character from a Vietnam War film. “You don’t know… you weren’t there… it was carnage,” is just one response likely to wind up festival newbies. Yet I cannot emphasise enough how annoyingly important it is not to walk into this event blindfolded, either metaphorically or literally (ouch). Of course you’ll enjoy blustering around and trying to work out which performances sound like your thing, but you won’t be having so much fun when you’re greeted with the crushing sense of disappointment delivered by an ever-increasing box office queue or, worse, a huge list of sold out shows when you reach the front of said queue.
This year I’ll make my fifth trip to the Fringe Festival and my seventh trip to the city – Edinburgh, I’m unashamedly under your spell. It’s not just the Fringe that draws me in (I’ve been here in rainy October and still found plenty to do), as there’s always something new or unseen to discover. It’s constantly changing, with a buzzing art scene and some really tempting vintage shops, not to mention the art exhibitions, in particular the Printmakers’ Studios in the Old Town.
Calavera (Span. feminine noun) = skull. A travel blog with a love of culture, dark tourism and the unconventional.