It's no secret that wherever I go, some kind of disaster follows me and I don't think I've ever travelled anywhere without some kind of horrific panic about something or over so along the way I've picked up some tips about how to avoid these kind of disasters. There's no stress quite like the fear of missing a plane!
1. Balance Saving Money With Efficiency
Let's be honest, we all want to save a bit of money from travelling and this is especially true when you live in the north like us and the train to anywhere further south than York costs more than £100 each. Jess and I travelled down to London to catch the Eurostar to Paris a couple of weeks ago and instead of paying £160 each for the train, we decided to get the overnight Megabus. It cost us £6 each return (yup - six British pounds!!) and we thought we'd grabbed a right bargain as it would arrive into London two hours before our Eurostar, leaving us plenty of time to get to St Pancras right? Wrong! The Megabus as we soon discovered, is one of the most unreliable modes of transport known to man and low and behold we were left in the middle of Newcastle in the freezing cold for a little under two hours and the service we received was abysmal. No one told us it was going to be late or explained why, I asked the staff member at the bus stop if he had any idea what time the bus would be arriving and he was extremely rude and as you can expect, the Megabus twitter account was less than helpful with a mere "sorry, there's nothing we can do." We ended up missing our Eurostar and had to pay to get transferred on the next one and luckily the Eurostar staff were amazing. The bus was also freezing, it was dirty, uncomfortable and full of shouting, swearing people so was the money saving really worth it? Definitely not - it's not worth the discomfort or the stress but when you're only paying £6 is there anything you can really say?
2. Check, double-check and triple-check you have enough time to make your flight
This seems so obvious but its importance cannot be overstated. We relied too heavily on our sat-nav when travelling from our hotel to Manchester airport in February and it ended up taking us to a Travelodge in the centre of Manchester....in the middle of morning rush hour. Needless to say, it was one of the worst journeys of my life and we made our flight with literally minutes to spare - we just assumed that the sat-nav was right and we learned the hard way that you really need to check them. Always remember that it's better to be super early at the airport than super late - it's easy to be transferred onto another train but this isn't so easy when it's a flight!
3. Take Sensible Shoes
Yup, this is one for us fashion bloggers! Until you've had a pair of shoes ruin your trip, you won't know just how much a pair of shoes can ruin your trip. I stupidly only took heels to Rome with me and they cut into foot so deeply it got infected and I literally couldn't walk. My foot swelled up to three times it's normal size and I couldn't stand on it without support but obviously because I was in Rome, I had to grit my teeth and soldier through it...wearing heels. Because that's all I'd packed. Don't just think "oh I'll be okay in them!" because you probably won't be. You don't want to spend your entire trip thinking about when your next cafe stop will be just so you can rest your poor lil legs!
4. Split Your Money
When my purse was stolen out of my bag in Amsterdam, it had everything in it. It had my bank card, my English money, my Euros, my driving license.... it had just about my entire life in it so as you can imagine I was left distraught. I had done everything I could have done to avoid being pickpocketed; I had a sturdy backpack, I had the drawstrings tied, I tried to put my purse deep into my bag but unfortunately, these thieves are extremely skilled and sometimes there's nothing you can do. If I'd split my money or left my bank card in the safe at my hotel, I wouldn't have lost as much. The only saving grace was that Jess had all of our tickets for things in her purse so thankfully we didn't lose them too but it still caused a crazy amount of stress (and crying over my Michael Kors purse) that could have been avoided.
5. Pack Spare Underwear
Does anyone else always pack extra underwear and socks "just in case" and then when you think about it, you don't actually know why you're packing them? Well in September, Karl and I found out exactly why. Our flight back home from Sharm was cancelled due to a sandstorm and we had to spend an extra night in Sharm and you might think "yay another night on holiday" but it really wasn't. We were put in an absolutely disgusting hotel that didn't cater for vegetarians, that had ant infestations in most of the rooms and all in all was absolutely awful. We felt dirty and after sitting the airport for 7 hours waiting for an update on our flight, let me tell you the extra underwear, socks and pyjamas felt like a godsend.
6. Do Your Research Before Booking
It's so easy to just book your trip on a whim because it's cheap or easy but there's nothing worse than spending a lot of money on a trip for you to hate it because you didn't research the location of your hotel or you didn't read the reviews. Reviews on TripAdvisor can be helpful but I'd always take them with a pinch of salt. People are much more likely to go on a leave a bad review than a good review and I've stayed in some hotels that had bad TripAdvisor reviews that I loved. I always research the location of the hotel, look at how close it is to the major attractions I want to visit, public transport links and then I'll read reviews. If we all made more of an effort to leave good reviews as well as bad, it would make booking our dream hotels much easier! Also don't expect the standard of a five star hotel if you've only paid for a three star which is what a lot of people on TripAdvisor seem to want. You'll only end up disappointed.
7. Plan carefully
Of course it's nice to do things DIY and do things on a whim - that's what makes travelling fun right? There are some things though that you can't just do on a whim. For example, it's key that you know how you're going to get around as you don't want to end up stranded somewhere. The panic that can set in when you're well and truly lost in the middle of a strange city is like nothing else so planning your journey is essential. Also, keep hold of your passport! I lost my passport in Croatia and luckily, our lovely taxi driver found it in the airport and knew it belonged to me so brought it back to me. Next time I might not be so lucky!
These might all seem like they're common sense but they're so easy to overlook! What are your tips for avoiding travelling disasters?