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Six tips for your coach-tour trip

Six tips for your coach-tour trip

by ben

Last summer, I spent 10 days on the road travelling through Europe via coach. I would highly recommend it – particularly if you have limited time and money, or if you’re travelling solo. It’s great if you’re nervous about travelling, because you’re in a big group and everything has already been organised for you.

There are many coach-tour companies to go with, but I happened to go with TopDeck.

If you do choose to go on a coach tour, here are a few tips to ensure you make the most of your time away from home:

Don’t pack your whole wardrobe
Over-packing and over-spending on your travelsI can’t stress this enough. Sometimes the hostels you stay in have awkward spiral-staircases (I’m referring to castle accommodation we had in Germany’s Rhine Valley). Light, small suitcases will be ideal for the few outfits you’d need –  especially since there are usually laundry facilities at the hostels.

My rule of thumb: Pack one clothing option for every weather possibility, and one formal outfit. Everything else needs to be comfy, conservative clothes for walking in – we walked 15 kilometres in Paris including the 600+ stairs up the Eiffel Tower, to give you an idea.

Look out the window, not at the mirror
Travelling to Paris eiffel tower on a coach tourPlease don’t be concerned by how you look. Be natural and don’t spend two hours in your room stressing over what to wear for dinner. Get going – there’s food downstairs, people to talk to and a fantastic country you’ve never been to outside your door!

What’s a ‘comfort zone’? Try everything – go for bike tours in Amsterdam, climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower, hike through the mountains of  the Swiss Alps, stroke the horses in Bruges who trip-trop through the city, eat that Italian pizza and pasta, eat those French garlic snails! This is not the time to watch your waistline.

Above all, send your postcards
Take your selfies for sending postcards while travellingMost hostels and some coaches have WiFi, so instead of saving up your photos to upload to Facebook, send them back to friends and family with Postsnap. Upload your selfie from Venice, write a message and send! We have printers all over the world, so no matter where your recipient is they’ll receive your postcard within days. They make great keep-sakes and souvenirs that you don’t have to carry around with you – they’ll be waiting on your doorstep upon your return home, ready for reminiscing.

Shower in the evenings, not in the mornings
Go on an adventure while travellingMornings can be hectic! So have your shower in the evening without worrying about the line of impatient, sleepy people outside. You’ll have more privacy and less stress in the evenings, but more importantly, a lie-in during the morning.

Early birds: Going on a coach tour means a strict schedule needs to be stuck to, and this usually includes early-morning departures. It can be fast-paced – one day we had breakfast in Italy, lunch in Austria, and dinner in Germany!

Hangovers are not fun when on a the road
Drinking while travellingAfter our night in Italy, I remember looking around at my fellow travellers on the coach the next morning and not feeling the slightest tinge of regret in staying [more-or-less] sober the night before. “Sleeping it off on the coach” is not as practical as it sounds, and motion-sickness appears to be much worse when hung-over.

Top tip: Spend your money on experiences, not alcohol. I’m sure you’ve already experienced the feeling of drinking too much, so spend your time staying alert and experience Paris at sunset or early mornings in Switzerland instead!

‘Hello, let’s be friends. Best friends.’
Finding best friends on your travelsOn my trip, there were more than 40 people from every corner of the world, including a woman who lived literally around the corner from me back home! (What!?) You’ll make life-long friends, and you’ll have plenty of offers for free accommodation for future trips to Australia, Canada, Mexico, USA…

Everyone is in the same boat as you, everyone wants to have fun and be kind, so don’t be shy – book your epic road trip and remember it with personalised Postsnap postcards. ?

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Travel destinations that need to be on your bucket list

If you’re starting to think about all the amazing and wonderful places you’d love to visit and send postcards from, make sure you include these top five places!

1. Send a postcard from Iceland

Iceland should be on your bucket list of places to visit

Icelandic ponies

If you enjoy the great outdoors, epic scenery, hotdogs, peace, quiet and horses, then a road trip around Iceland has to be on your bucket list! You can’t ever predict the weather in Iceland – a tiny island in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean is prone to serious cold snaps and rather windy weather.

But as a guide, if you go in the summer you will miss the snow and be confronted with lush fields between the mountains where wild horses graze, but beware of the midges at this time of year. If winter looks too cold for you, I suggest autumn (Aug-Oct). The crisp, cool air can still sting but you may just be lucky to catch the northern lights providing the clouds stay away.

Top tip: The best way to see Iceland is by van as you will likely get bored (and broke) staying in the city. Happy Campers are a great van rental company to use.

2. Send a postcard from New Zealand

Hobbiton in New Zealand should be on your bucket list

Hobbiton (Lord of the Rings movie set), Matamata

But the big question is: North Island or South Island?
North Island is full of tourist hot spots like the hot water beaches of the Coromandel, the luge in Rotorua, 90 Mile Beach, and Hobbiton (Lord of the Rings set). You also have the two major cities of Auckland and Wellington, if you fancy a spot of shopping.

Whereas in the South Island you have about a million people spread out on an island the size of England and Wales combined!* Vast open roads that link pleasant rural and skiing towns such as Arrowtown, Queenstown and the Edinburgh-esk city of Dunedin. If you love the countryside, mountains, lakes and a place to ski (or walk in the summer), then rent a camper van and get going!

*England and Wales is populated by about 56 million people on 151,040km² of land, and the South Island is populated by one million on 151,215 km² of land!

3. Send a postcard from Dorset

Dorset should be on your travel bucket list

Durdle Door, Dorset

If you’re coming to England, I suggest skipping London and coming straight to Dorset! Home of the Jurassic Coast, and the cliffs made famous by Broadchurch. Plus, the beautiful beaches of the Purbecks, the shopping district of Bournemouth and the grand New Forest. There is so much to do here! Just be aware that Dorset is far from being an undiscovered holiday destination, so it may be best to come outside of the school holidays to avoid enjoying the view from inside a stationary vehicle on a gridlocked road.

4. Send a postcard from Paris

Moulin Rouge in Paris should be on your travel bucket list

The famous Moulin Rouge, Paris

Stereotypical, I know, but Paris is a place of expression and stunning sites. Parisians are as brusque and confident as they are elegant and indulgent. Guilt from eating good food doesn’t seem to be common place here as it is in the UK, and quite frankly, I loved this attitude! Eat good food, get inspired by the architecture and art, wear elegant clothes, walk, talk and express yourself confidently. If you go to Paris, get ready to immerse yourself into the culture of simply enjoying life at a slower pace without the guilt.

5. Send a postcard from Melbourne

Graffiti lane in Melbourne should be on your travel bucket list

Hosier Lane (AKA Graffiti Lane), Melbourne

The arty heart of Australia found on the Southern coastline. A broad city of trams and cafes, with streets populated by painters, graffiti artists, performers and musicians. Melbourne is colourful, vibrant and youthful with a distinct character fuelled by independent companies that sell vinyl records and skewered burgers. The coffee-drinking and brunch-eating culture is an important part of life here – a perfect place to shop or to sit in a brick-walled, back-alley cafe and write that zombie romance novel you always meant to.

 

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Travel Trip Map Direction Exploration Planning Concept

You got your sandals, your suncream, your towel and your favourite dress. You are ready for a relaxing week on a Tenerife beach… Or are you. Read on to discover the top 6 things you never want to forget to take on your paradise holiday this Easter!

Taking a Beach holiday selfie for your postcard.Your phone (to send postcards with)
Download Postsnap before you leave to get ready to send postcards when you land. Selfies on the beach and photos of your fancy hotel dinners needn’t wait a week to be shown to Nana Ellie, or Rachel from work. Take a pic, upload it to the Postsnap app, add an address and send!

Top tip: Don’t forget to buy your Postsnap Prepay before you go to ensure quicker and cheaper postcards. ?

An adapter plug
Most countries have different plug sockets, so be sure to buy your adapter before you leave. The last thing you want is for your Facebook status to go without an update for the week. ?  (Don’t even joke about it.?)

Padlock for bags
After packing the night before and getting the last few things in the suitcase throughout the morning, isn’t it always the way that you forget to tie your bags’ zips together!? I personally use shoelaces, but if padlocks are your preference then snap them on to one of the zips and put your key in your purse.

Toiletries
Toothpaste and toothbrushes are some of the most commonly forgotten items. Although they’re easily replaced, be sure to pack a toiletry bag with your bits and bobs for the morning you leave. Don’t forget your comb or hairbrush, too!

The three S’s:
Sunglasses It’s one of those little things that you wouldn’t think to put in your bag before driving to the airport beneath the overcast, grey and gloomy UK sky.
Swimsuit One of the most obvious and important items for a beach holiday, that is so often forgotten.
Smile! Travelling can be stressful, but don’t forget to pack and wear a smile! ?

What to pack for your holiday awaySort out your phone’s roaming
Let’s not even imagine a life without internet. A mobile phone without 4g? Worse yet, mobile data that charges you a bomb just for checking Instagram… This isn’t good. Get your roaming data sorted before you leave to avoid any scary bills when you get home.

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Print instagram photos into postcards app

Print Instagram photos as postcardsRecently, a fantastic travel blogger called Travel Dave reviewed Postsnap. He talks us through his experience of making and sending a card using the Postsnap app, and explains how it’s quicker than buying and posting a generic postcard while travelling.

“Traditional postcards take too much time away from your holiday” – Travel Dave

Travel Dave also mentions how Postsnap can save the day if you’ve forgotten to send a postcard or greeting card!

He even made an amazing video to talk you through how easy it is to convert your Instagram photos into real life postcards:

Check it out!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUeh35AL-yk&w=560&h=315]

Download the Postsnap app from iTunes: http://bit.ly/2gMJgwg and use the Travel Dave promo code for 20% off:  TRAVELDAVE

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Download these must-have travel apps on your phone

There may be times when you need to put your phone away while travelling. But your phone can also become the handiest travelling buddy you can have.

Here are the top five apps every traveller should have on their phone while on the go:

Air Bnb - Must have travel appAirBnb
Perfect for the impromptu traveller. With the AirBnb app, it is easy to book accommodation at short notice – particularly helpful for long-term stays. Something I didn’t know, was that you can use this app to book guided local experiences and excursions, for a Sunday afternoon or a mini-break.

Trip Advisor - must have travel appsTrip Advisor
This is my go-to for finding places to eat when in a new, strange city. Wanting to find a close-by coffee shop to experience the local culture and cuisine, while avoiding the likes of Starbucks and Costa? The Trip Advisor app will conveniently list numerous places that fit your dietary requirements and criteria, including independent reviews from previous customers to base your choice upon.

Trip Advisor also offers millions of reviews and information on accommodation and destinations.

Whatsapp - must have travel appsWhatsapp
The instant messaging app that allows you to easily keep in touch with friends and family for free. It has overtaken the likes of text messaging, which may incur extra charges while overseas. Whatsapp, similar to Facebook Messenger and Viber, allows group chats as well as photo, video and file sharing, enabling you to keep in touch and share your experiences easily with the people who matter most.

Google Translate - must have travel appGoogle Translate
A rather handy tool to ensure you’re always able to communicate with people around you without a language barrier. Just like the desktop-based Google Translate, you can copy and paste text for immediate translation. But a particularly smart feature of this app includes the ability to point your device’s camera at a sign or text, and the app will translate it for you in real time. Handy when you need to know which is the men’s and women’s toilets!

Postsnap - must have travel appPostsnap App
Postcards are coming back. Personalise your own postcard with your own text, and your own photo of the Golden Gate Bridge or Sydney Opera House to send back to friends and family in physical form. Use the Postsnap App for a personal card while you’re so far away from home.

There’s also no excuse to miss birthdays or anniversaries while away anymore, either. Postsnap also provides personalised Greeting Cards that are sent in envelopes.

As long as you have WiFi and battery on your iPhone, you are set for travelling. Sometimes your phone is the best travelling tool you can have.

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Kayaking photo for a personalised card

Tips for taking the best gap year

by ben

 

Kayaking photo for a personalised cardIf you break into an ugly-cry upon hearing Slade’s ‘Far, Far Away,’ or sob after watching ‘Into the Wild,’ then it sounds like you’re ready to take a gap year to travel rather than go to uni.

Read on to find out our handsome tips to make sure your year-long excursion becomes an A+ trip of a lifetime!

No money means no travel
Sigh… The harsh realities of being a free spirit. Unfortunately, flights, travel, food and shelter (and anything fun) all cost money. Budget well, and save-up before buying that giant backpack and walking boots you’ve had your eye on. You may find that you’ll only have enough money to tramp around with them for a month before running out of cash. You don’t want to end up watching them sit in your wardrobe at your parent’s house for the remaining 11 months…

Not totally sure you want to travel? Exchange!
University exchanges are most certainly an option for most schools. Swapping with a student in Belgium or Australia or Canada kills two birds with one stone! Not only would you be getting a university education (to keep your parents happy), but you’ll also be experiencing an entirely different culture and country with the security of having accommodation taken care of.

Think of your CV
You may just want to skip off into the distance and live life to the full and on the edge… But more often than not, you will eventually want to stay somewhere that’s not a hostel for longer than a week. When this day comes, you don’t want to panic when looking at your blank CV. Don’t get me wrong, travelling looks great on the CV, but volunteering and internships in between look amazing too. This also means you’ll have recent references!

Seeing the sites without the hassle
Coach tours such as ConTiki or TopDeck have incredible reviews. They have itinerary sussed, and you’re travelling in a big group of people your own age. They travel all around the world, so pick a place and go! You don’t even have to go for that long, from a few days for those who are tight on time, to a couple of months for those who are dedicated.

You’re far, far away with your head up in the clouds – but with a plan
Know why you’re travelling. Having a rough list of places you want to go or things you really want to do, brings structure to your fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants lifestyle. Believe it or not, a bit of planning is a good thing because it’ll keep you motivated! Particularly if you’re travelling on your own, some days you may find it difficult to muster the enthusiasm to leave your hostel. But if you have a checklist, then you will feel more focussed and will use your time well.

Camp America
Camp America is a massively popular Camp to work at for the summer. You get your accommodation sorted and even get a little cash! All you need is a talent to teach children (art, sports, swimming, horseriding, woodwork…). Once you’ve worked at the kids’ camp, most employees travel around America together – great for those feeling nervous about going on their own.

But the sound of home is loud!
“Enjoy yourself, but when you stop having fun, come home” – more wise words from my Dad.
A year doesn’t seem like a long time if you’ve been working and schooling and keeping busy. But travelling can make the days seem longer if you don’t have to be up for 7am every morning with a regular routine. Once you have had a few weeks of hang overs and a few reality checks, you might just have everything out of your system within a month or two. Make the most of your time and do what you need to do, but don’t waste your money – it’s not a failure to come home early. You can always go to uni mid-semester, or work for a bit.

Best of luck for your travels!

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Tyneham village in Dorset. A great place to get away to on the weekend.

Got the in-laws over for the weekend? Need a break after the first week of school? We’ve got you covered! Read on to find out what you could get up to in Dorset. With the weather being this good, you have to get outside!

1. Durdle Door
Durdle Door in Dorset on a personalised cardA classic beach day spot to marvel at natural rock formations on the Jurassic Coast. Despite the pebbly beach, it’s a beautiful place to spend the day. After a bit of a walk, you will find yourself looking over the cliffs to the coves below. Once you’ve picked your way down the rocky path with your towels and picnics, I suggest walking an extra two minutes around the cove, you will usually find yourself almost isolated.

Durdle Door photo:// http://www.visit-dorset.com/

2. Old Harry Rocks
If you’re a fan of views of the open ocean – from the safety of spongy grass clifftops – then I suggest going to Old Harry Rocks in Swanage. A lovely stroll from the road to see the view is worth it. You can carry on around the cliffs for as far as your legs will take you.

3. Wareham
Perhaps a slightly underestimated old town located between the rural town of Wool and Holton Heath. With a few lovely pubs and market days looking over the river, Wareham is a relaxing place to enjoy good food at a leisurely pace.

4. Burley, New Forest
Burley village new forest on a personalised postcard
Burley Village is in the heart of the New Forest with a rich history of smugglers, dragons and witches. Today, it is likely to be witch-less, but full of quaint shops, walks, horses and bike rides. A perfect family day out to relax with the roaming cattle and ponies. Don’t forget your ice creams! Find out more here.


Burley photo:// http://www.new-forest-national-park.com/burley.html

5. Bournemouth Pier
If you’re looking for something a bit more exciting and bustling I would certainly recommend Bournemouth. If you can brave the traffic and limited parking, you’ll find numerous shops beyond the seafront, which sport a picturesque pier beside a large aquarium.

6. Weymouth
In the 2012 London Olympics, Weymouth’s waters were the host venue for the sailing events. Golden beaches and old fashioned seafronts, Weymouth is a popular holiday spot particularly on a hot summer’s day.

7. Chapman’s Pool
Chapman’s Pool is a beautiful cove to spend a day in (if the weather permits). Walking around to Chapman’s Pool can be challenging depending on where you start, or super easy if you cheat and drive to the nearby carpark. Either way there is a golden reward close by – a pub with the best cider and pasties around called The Square and Compass.

8. Tyneham Village
Tyneham village in Dorset. A great place to get away to on the weekend.
An enchanting ghost town that was evacuated in 1943 during World War II. The eerie and interesting village located near Lulworth is only open on the weekends as the area is still used by the army during the week, and managed by the Ministry of Defence. It’s not just ruins, the church and schoolhouse have been renovated to emulate how it would have looked. Every building has a descriptive plaque to explain who lived in each house, including a brief history of them. A pleasant walk back in time.
Tyneham photo:// Jodie

9. Corfe Castle
A haunting thousand-year-old castle ruin, partially demolished in the 1600s during war, overlooks the romantic and historic township of Corfe. A fascinating tour of Corfe Castle, followed by markets and tearooms in the town below makes an ideal day out for all.

10. Postsnap your weekend!
On your weekend, the top thing to do in Dorset is to download the Postsnap app. This way your beautiful photos can be shared to your friends and family in the form of physical postcards sent straight to their door.

Hopefully the weather stays beautiful and sunny for you. But if not, enjoy the tearooms and pubs of Dorset’s beautiful villages. Find out more here.

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