The Clever Travel Companion Updates
The Top European Destinations to Travel Solo November 08 2017, 0 Comments
Although travelling by yourself is not always the most appealing plan, depending on where you’re headed, it might turn out to be a once in a lifetime experience. Given that it’s hard to match your schedule with that of your potential travel companions, sometimes, you might have to take matters into your own hands and go solo, which could be daunting. But if you have done it before, you will agree that there is something both challenging and stimulating about setting out on an adventure by yourself. However, some places are better to visit alone than others, which is why we have compiled some of the best destinations for you, particularly if you’re in Europe. It's always ideal to make sure you bring the best travel gear with you, for safety, comfort and practicality. See more here.
At the top of our list is Berlin, the multifaceted German capital. With a vibrant nightlife and infinite culture on, you’ll be entertained here all day and might even end up making friends during your stay, as it is a popular destination for solo travelers. From museums to landmarks and everything in between including parks, record stores, vintage markets, international gastronomy, unbeatable nightclubs and concerts, Berlin is also an affordable and safe city, which are two fundamental elements that make it a great choice if you’re planning a solo trip. No matter how long you stay, you’re likely to enjoy the experience by yourself as you’ll be able to visit the places that interest you the most without having to compromise. It's also a great walking city so make sure you go prepared! See more.
Another large capital we must add to our list is London. In spite of being a large city, London is very well connected with trains and underground services, meaning you can stay right outside the center if you want to spend less and still be able to get to the main attractions quite easily. With so many places to visit and an unstoppable entertainment agenda that includes everything from music festivals and jam sessions to mental sports tournaments and horse races, London is open 24/7 and will offer you pretty much anything you’re looking for. Although it is less affordable than Berlin, you will not find it hard to spot a quality, comfortable hostel and an inexpensive, refreshing pint, which is a great choice to end your day, especially by the riverside and accompanied by a good book.
Our third choice is also a capital city that is famous for having friendly and sociable residents as well as great beer, fantastic transportation, delicious food, lovely weather and magnificent museums. Madrid, rated the best city in Europe for living abroad, has become an increasingly popular city in Europe over the years without reaching the extreme levels of tourism that Barcelona is now trying to control, this Spanish city offers a genuine experience to its visitors. Safe and affordable, its accommodation offers have also increased, which complements the fact that it’s a city in which you can find something to do every day of the week, so you’re likely to fall in love with its energy and never feel lonely while being surrounded by welcoming Madrilenians. Between museums, the fantastic Buen Retiro Park and the infinite choices of bars, you’ll be well entertained during your stay and will possibly end up chatting with the locals, which means you might even learn a few words in Spanish to further enrich your travel experience.
There are many other destinations in Europe to visit by yourself that are equally amusing, safe and stimulating like Porto, Copenhagen, Bilbao, Turin, Hamburg and Stockholm. However, if we had to recommend places to travel solo as many times as you want, we would insist on Berlin, London and Madrid as they are all interesting and ever-changing locations that never fail to welcome visitors. And, with their cosmopolitan atmospheres, you’ll feel like you are a part of the cities when you visit them.
Useful Ways to Spend Downtime While Travelling September 19 2017, 0 Comments
After intensive sightseeing, walking and blogging, you may feel tired and need some time off. While travelling is ultimately exciting, it is also exhausting more often than not. The good news is – you can still spend your time in useful ways, even while resting during or between trips. Here is how to make use of your downtime and get new impressions while actually having rest.
Top 7 Things To Fill Your Downtime
1. Talk to locals.
On a day you are not doing anything in particular, you can walk out of your hotel room and visit the nearest bar, coffee shop or park, and engage in a conversation with locals. It is surprising how much you can learn by just talking: you can start picking up on the local language, get to know real-life stories which are never told in travel magazines, and get tips for the best local restaurants and spots that only the locals go to.
2. Reconnect with friends.
Writing cards seems old school and sentimental, but this is what makes it unique in today’s digitalized world. Use your time off to write a few locally purchased cards with beautiful views or letters to your friends and loved ones and send them by regular post. People will be both happy and surprised to receive them, even if that happens in two weeks. Alternatively, you can use other means of communication, like Skype or messages, to talk to those you care about and miss.
3. Do yoga or work out outside.
Physical exercise is always a good way to reboot your body and restart your brain after intense travelling experiences. Doing it in a nice local park will add to your positive trip impressions, help you relax and change scenery.
4. Explore your hotel.
If you are too tired to go outside, you can explore what your hotel has to offer: there may be some interesting discounts for spa sessions, a bar with a picturesque view or a hotel history museum. Whatever there is, chances are you will find something interesting for yourself.
5. Shop for souvenirs.
A quiet time in small shops can help you relax and take care of something to bring to your loved ones when you’re back. If you limit the area that you want to shop in, you will not get too tired.
6. Enjoy local food.
A good way to relax is to explore the nearby eateries for some local specialties you’ve never tried before – a mini gastro tour around your area. You can spend a day strolling from one restaurant to another, trying out small portions of local dishes and drinks.
Reading can be both relaxing and informative, depending on what you opt for. It could be books on local history and culture, news of your hometown, a romance novel or Freebaccarat info – anything that would help you relax and decompress after intense travelling experiences. You could also dedicate some time to sorting out your emails or updating on your business at home, if you feel like working.
Overall, spending downtime while you are travelling can be as exciting and useful as the travelling itself. So, try to spend every moment of it enjoying yourself and the life around you.
7 Africa Travel Safety Tips (That work for the rest of the world too!) April 25 2016, 1 Comment
A few years ago I spent 7 months backpacking Africa, by myself, using only public transportation. Out of all the places I've traveled in the world, Africa has become my favorite. It's not too dangerous or unsafe either. By following the backpacking tips below, I navigated the entire continent as a solo girl without any problems.
- Keep Your Money/Valuables Hidden on You. I was never robbed, thankfully, but even if I was, the thief wouldn't have gotten much since my valuables were all hidden inside my Clever Travel Companion blank tank top (You can read more about how this kept me safe + tips on which size to buy, etc on my backpacking Africa travel blog). I met a backpacker in Tanzania, however, whose taxi driver drove him out of town, stole his wallet, then left him on the side of the road. Luckily, the driver was nice enough to reach back into my friend's wallet and give him enough change for a bus ride back to town (a very thoughtful thief!). But if this would have happened to me, the driver would have only gotten about $20 because the rest of my money, credit cards, and passport were concealed in my tank top.
- Watch Out for Thieves at Hostels. Unfortunately, some of the worst thieves are other backpackers or the cleaners at your backpacker lodge. To prevent this from happening to you, I recommend packing a lock and using it to secure the lockers that most hostels provide in the rooms. During my trip when this wasn't an option, I put all my important essentials in my Clever Travel tank, and folded it up nicely with the rest of my clothes. If someone did go through my stuff, they wouldn't steal a plain old item like that, and they also wouldn't suspect it was hiding my passport and money.
- Don't lose your Sh*T! I think it's normal to want to go a little crazy on vacation, especially the first few days or weeks. But that's when the most trouble happens. For me it meant I spent exorbitant amounts of money in the beginning when I was in South Africa and then had to do some serious damage control on my budget for the rest of the trip. I saw a lot of good people though doing drugs, breaking country laws knowingly, or hanging out at shady bars in shady areas which are all things they admitted to never doing at home.Then they got mad when they were arrested for smoking weed or held up after drinking in a ghetto. Granted, as a traveler you're not going to know all the laws and most places in Africa do look a little questionable, but my advice is to keep yourself together and make sure you're making smart choices even in the beginning.
- Ask Locals for Advice. The best way I stayed safe while backpacking Africa was by asking locals safety advice then following it. For example, an American expat in Rwanda told me I could walk down a dark alley in Kigali at 2am with all my valuables out in the open, and nothing bad would happen. And although I didn't quite test it out, I did feel very safe. But in Nairobi, a local told me that as soon as it gets dark, I needed to quit walking and take a taxi even if I was only going a few blocks away. So that's what I did, and what I credit to a fun (and safe) experience in the town whose bad reputation earned it the name “Nairobbery.”
- Use Common Sense. Looking back, most my travel mistakes happened because I just didn't use common sense. The same was true for other travelers. Like when my backpacking friend, Oron, got malaria because he forgot to take his anti-malaria medicine for three weeks. Or when I recently heard of a traveler getting gored by a rhino because he got too close to it during a photo-op. Usually the unfortunate happens in travel because we just quit thinking.
- Leave the Situation-Fast! No matter, how careful you are, you can still easily wind up in a bad situation accidentally. My advice-run! That's what I did when I ended up in a really sketchy hostel in Durban, South Africa that looked more like a crack den. I found some Canadian backpackers who felt the same as me, and we shared a taxi and got out of there quick! I met some British girls who told me in Malawi that they went out clubbing with a local guy, but started to feel uncomfortable with how he was acting and where he was taking them. They nicely came up with an excuse and left. Even if everything seems fine, but you just have a bad feeling, I'd listen to it because it's literally better to be safe than sorry.
- Don't Tempt a Thief. While no situation justifies robbing or harming someone, there's no reason to make it easy. I always cringed when I saw someone walking around with a money belt. In my opinion, that just screams, “Rob me!” Their cash could be just as easily reached, however, in the pocket of a Clever Travel Companion pair of underwear, only with the added advantage of being secure. Same thing goes for a Chinese backpacker I met who was walking around Mozambique with her computer in a laptop case. I felt really bad when someone stole it from her when she was walking back from an internet cafe, but at the same time, locals never looked twice at me when I was carrying my computer because I was storing it in my dusty backpack.
I hope you see that backpacking Africa can be easily (and safely) traveled. Because even though I had visited over 20 countries before my trip—including European, Asian, and Latino, I found African countries to be the best for so many reasons!
Check out my blog Backpacking Africa for Beginners www.backpackingafricaforbeginners.com for more ideas on which countries to visit and how to do it, plus get a free 15% off coupon to Clever Travel Companion by downloading the complete edition of my free African travel E-book and check out this blog to see what other neat stuff Clever Travel gear can do!
About the Author: Val Bowden backpacked from Cape Town to Cairo, going through 13 African countries, all by herself. After her trip, she moved back to the continent and has been living in Addis Ababa ever since. You can download her E-book, Backpacking Africa for Beginners http://backpackingafricaforbeginners.com/book/or her guides on Ethiopia, Kilimanjaro, & scoring cheap flights for free (although any contribution goes towards a social impact business she's starting in Ethiopia).
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