Those travel advertising dweebs have got a lot to answer for – out of all the beautifully Photoshopped pictures of snow-capped mountains, charity hill treks and celebratory Machu Picchu poses, the unglamorous reality of altitude sickness doesn’t get a look-in.
Perhaps the sight of a grumpy tourist clutching their head and begging for a darkened room isn’t much of an incentive for potential customers, but it’s something mountain visitors need to be warned about, much like yodelling or the onslaught of posh children mowing down first-time skiers for kicks.
Jetlag, insomnia, irritating plane passengers, hyperactive children and loud hotel neighbours… just some of the things you don’t want to encounter when you’re away. I’m all too familiar with a lot of these bugbears, and I’d do pretty much anything to avoid them, but a lot of the methods I’ve tried have only been partially effective. Earplugs can be fiddly, eye masks can be uncomfortable, and switching hotel rooms or plane seats is often impossible.
Desperate to find a product that would help reduce noise and distractions whilst travelling, I tried out the SleepPhones® Volume Control Headband Headphones, which offer noise control and allow users to play their own music (preferably something relaxing) through the headphones to help them sleep.
It’s a country with beaches, tropical rainforests, mountains and deserts, dotted with Mayan temples and vibrant cities; yes, Mexico is anything but one-dimensional. One minute you could be listening to a mariachi band in a zócalo (town square), the next you could be wandering through a national park or getting to grips with water sports.
With so much to see and do, it can be hard to build your perfect itinerary. So, to kick-start your Mexican holiday inspiration, I’ve narrowed down some of the best things you should do during your trip.
People say memories are one of the best things you can bring back from a trip, but I’m willing to bet photos come a close second for most of us. However, it can be a challenge to get a beautiful shot when you’re far from being a pro.
The good news is, it doesn’t take long to build confidence and ability behind the camera. Start getting to grips with photography now and you’ll be able to put your skills to the test when you’re next on the road.
Basic Beginner Tips
Think about composition. What story are you trying to tell in your picture, and what do you want to include or exclude from it? Move away from putting your subject in the centre all the time, and get to know the rule of thirds: imagine your screen divided into thirds each way (nine little squares) then have the subject intersecting the points where some of those squares meet.
Now we can admit we’re not safe from pouting posers in the shadows of a city gallery or on a sun-bleached Thai beach, perhaps it’s time we all acknowledged the growing trend of the self-absorbed holiday. You know, the one where the background is fairly immaterial, an all-inclusive resort or a luxury yacht is hungrily booked up and the tourist doesn’t actually have to tour anything. They might venture out on a very occasional excursion, but it will mainly be an exercise in creating photo opportunities (starring themselves) and trying not to engage with anyone who doesn’t speak impeccable English.
Lonely Planet describes the Chichester Festival Theatre (CFT) as ‘somewhat Soviet-looking’. However, the interior is definitely bang up to date, thanks to a £22 million renovation project affecting every part of the inner space, from the snazzy trap door in the stage to the 100 extra seats and the distinctive ceiling art in the cafe.
I took a free tour of the new layout, as part of the first Live Night, a special event aimed at theatregoers aged 16-25, which took place shortly before the evening’s performance of Amadeus.
Long-suffering readers of the blog will know that I’m in my element when I’m tracking down unusual or obscure sights on my travels, but I know not everyone finds it easy to do the detective work, especially if you’re short on time or patience.
I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t take much of an effort to really research a destination, so that’s why I was pretty chuffed to see Expedia throwing down the gauntlet to travellers with the launch of their new interactive map, called Hidden Places, centred around Dubrovnik, in Croatia.
You’ve managed to save up and pay for your next adventure – congratulations – but there’s one more financial challenge ahead. How do you keep tabs on your holiday money and stretch your budget when you’re away?
Being an inherent cheapskate, I feel duty-bound to pass on some of my advice, which hopefully you’ll find useful. Here are my top tips for fellow travellers:
Become a Champion Haggler
Obviously this isn’t one to pull off if you’re visiting a posh department store abroad, but when you’re heading for markets and smaller shops then it’s worth remembering your bargaining power. When the seller gives you their opening price, offer them about 50% less, which will show them you’re not looking to pay more than you should have to. You’ll then have some leeway when it comes to negotiating a final price, whereas if you’d immediately offered the seller 75% of the original price then you’d be unlikely to get much of a discount overall.