My top 10 travel tips – Binny Shah-Patel
“AFTER years of travelling to various destinations as a seasoned food and travel blogger, here are some of my tips that can make travel easier and more enjoyable to help you make the most of your next trip!”
Don’t rely on stock photos of a destination: Keep an open mind when looking at magazines, TripAdvisor or Instagram as often these are a carefully-curated idealisation, using Photoshop and filters, to make places look more enticing. Not every destination will give you the ‘postcard effect’ and might end up being dirty or overcrowded in reality. My recommendation is do use Instagram, but go by photos under the location tag to get a true sense of what to expect.
Try going off season and avoid travelling on weekends: Some popular destinations get ridiculously busy during peak season, and I would suggest travelling during the low season as not only will there be less crowds, you will get better deals too. In Europe, my favourite times to travel are mid-September to end of November, and March-May. I find it is also slightly cheaper to fly on weekdays than weekends. During low season, hotels have reasonable rates so you can get better hotels for less.
Do plenty of research: If you have specific dietary requirements or there are specific places you want to see, always book in advance to avoid disappointment or queues. Make a rough list of what the highlights of a destination are so you don’t come back and get upset that you missed something. Don’t over plan your itinerary. The best travel moments usually arise from unplanned moments, detours or getting lost. Leave yourself free time to wander and relax.
Go with an open mind: Sometimes things happen that are out of your control. The one thing you always have control over is how you respond. This happened to me in Bali, and I had to cut my trip short as the volcano erupted, but I took it in my stride and made the most of the time I had left before evacuating. Go with the flow and no matter what happens, just keep an open mind, try to adapt to the situation and stay positive.
Don’t book any unethical animal experiences: Please avoid booking unethical animal experiences when travelling, be it swimming with dolphins, taking a selfie with a tiger or riding an elephant. By choosing not to visit these venues, you will play a crucial part in shutting them down and curbing the demand. By choosing to interact with a wild animal, you are supporting a cruel and inhumane industry.
Travel more sustainably: Try booking direct flights rather than via multiple destinations to reduce carbon emissions. Book hotels with sustainability initiatives such as recycling programmes, biodegradable toiletries, solar power and on-site organic food production. Carry a refillable BPA-free water bottle, which will save you money and limit single-use plastic bottles. Pair it with a metal straw to avoid using plastic straws. Carry a rubbish bag to fill any trash you may see on beaches or in parks.
Be social media aware: For safety, be careful of what you post on social media while you are away. For example, if you have a public Instagram account, never reveal the hotel you are staying in or your room number in real time as you never know who is looking at it. I always post this on check out. Before leaving for your destination, don’t advertise all over social media or to your taxi driver, especially if you are leaving your house empty.
Use packing cubes: I love packing cubes as these keep everything organised. I use space wisely, whether it is cables inside sunglass cases or fragrances inside socks. I use every imaginable space to pack my bits and bobs! Roll your clothes and always put the heaviest items at the base of the suitcase first. Depending on where you are going, you will appreciate the space if you decide to purchase items from your destination to take back home.
Minimise jet lag: There are great ways of dealing with jet lag to ensure you aren’t fatigued and lacking energy when there is so much to discover at your destination. Firstly, tire yourself out before a flight so you get decent sleep during the flight. Resist alcohol or caffeine on the plane and drink plenty of water. On the day you land back, resist the urge to sleep all day and instead carry on with your day as normal and go to bed at your usual time.
Find beauty in small things: When you are rushing or being impulsive to see the main landmarks in a country you can miss out on the small things and beauty in certain places. Sometimes it is so important to slow down, move your head away from your smartphone screen, and look around and observe all that’s around you. They sometimes end up being the nicest discoveries and the most unique. Binny Shah-Patel is an award-winning food and travel blogger.
Visit www. binnysfoodand travel.com & Instagram:@binnysfoodandtravel