I’ve had 15 out-of-town holidays in the past 18 months, which surely must be some kind of non-famous-person record! I’ve loved all the travel and know it’s been an amazing season that probably won’t ever happen again. But here are a few travel tips I’ve picked up and appreciated along the way…
If you have the choice, always book an apartment or house over a hotel room. Hotels might be nice for a night or two, but you’ll appreciate the extra space, personality and the option to cook for yourselves. We’ve used sites like AirBnB (international), Book a Bach (NZ) and Kenya Holiday House (for this gorgeous house, above) and found some incredible, and good-value, properties.
Here’s a great routine if you want to make the most of your days, get the prettiest light for photos, and be able to enjoy all the night life has to offer – without feeling zonked the next day.
7-8:30am: After a sleep-in on your first morning (to make it really feel like holidays), be up and out the door by 8:30am at the latest.
8:30am-1pm: Fill the first half of the day with vintage markets, museums, medieval castles, art galleries and anything indoors. You’ll have energy to deal with the queues – you may even beat them – and you can save the outdoor adventures for when the light is perfect for photos.
1-3pm: Pop into a local grocery market (like the Florentine market below) to collect supplies for a picnic lunch. Eating out the whole trip gets pricey, and what’s better than a block of yummy cheese, fresh bread and a juicy nectarine? Afterwards, head home for a siesta.
3-4pm: Snooze! Don’t read, don’t watch TV, don’t surf the internet. Actually lie down and recharge.
4-5pm onwards: Depending where you are, ‘golden hour’ may fall anywhere between 4-9pm. Use this time as an opportunity to get out and explore – the back streets, the ancient ruins, the lake or forest or mountains. The light just before and on sunset makes the prettiest pictures. Come nightfall, keep exploring! So many cities really come to life after dark. Eat when the locals eat (usually later than I’m used to, especially if in Africa or Europe) and eat where the locals eat. Find the top restaurants on Trip Advisor and be sure to visit at least one!
When my mum was in Europe last year, she bought us Christmas ornaments for our tree. They were perfect – small enough for her to carry for weeks, but much more meaningful than a snow globe or fridge magnet. If you’re buying for friends, pick something they could actually wear or use back home. A pretty scarf is great, or a quirky pair of earrings.
And now if you’re buying for yourself… I stocked up on beautiful underwear in Italy, partly out of necessity (there’s not a great range here in Kenya) and partly because it’s romantic and lovely and now I’m reminded everyday of our wonderful trip away. So much better than a snow globe, right?