Pirates, you know what day it is....yep, Travel Tip Tuesday is upon us and we're ready for our weekly dose of inspiration. For those of you who missed out in weeks before (and why is that, by the way?), in this series we have a sit down and a
shot of rum cup of tea with our favourite travel personalities to find out more about their top hints and tricks.
This week we've had a chat with Laura of Wander with Laura, a 27 year old blogger who turned to travel when her life took an unexpected turn five years ago. She's since became a passionate advocate of sustainable travel, combining her love of globetrotting with caring for the globe. Laura is also keen on finding the best trips for the most affordable rates (a skill which earned her the title of Post Office Affordable Blog of the Year 2018). Of course, we just had to find out more..
We all have a story about how we fell in love with travelling - what's yours?
Hey guys! I've always loved exploring new countries but my travel addiction really kicked into gear back in 2015. Within a the same week, my relationship of five years AND my first graduate job out of university ended and it genuinely felt like my entire life was falling apart. But while I was distraught, I went home with the seed planted in my mind - I'd always wanted to travel more so it felt like the perfect opportunity.
This could have easily been the worst time of my life but travelling turned it into the best. Since then, I've visited 19 new countries, made some incredible friends and even backpacked solo down the east coast of Australia for two months! Seeing more of the world really changes your perspective and outlook on life and I can't tell you how thankful I am to be able to do it.
You're passionate about sustainable travel. How did this interest come about?
You know what, I can't actually remember the moment that the idea of travelling more sustainably first came to mind but it's been gradually building for a good few years now. While I was backpacking Asia in 2017, I slowly became aware of just how much waste tourism was creating; from constantly buying plastic bottles of water to partygoers who would litter beaches without a care in the world, I realised that I wanted to see our beautiful planet in a way that wasn't going to cause harm to the environment and local communities.
What are your top tips on sustainable travelling for those looking to try it in 2019?
It's been amazing to see public perception in the UK shift over the last year to making more sustainable decisions in our everyday lives but it's easy for these habits to go out of the window when we get out of our daily routine. My top three tips to get started would be:
- If you're in the habit of carrying a resuable shopping bag or water bottle at home, do the same abroad!
- Try to avoid buying miniature toiletries for every trip. Instead, decant some of what you already own into smaller, reusable bottles.
- Support local communities wherever possible. Rather than staying in hotel chains, I love to seek out eco-friendly guesthouses or boutique hotels that put money back into the local area rather than a huge multi-national chain.
If you're already there, why not look into something bigger? One of my goals for 2019 is to put some money into carbon offset projects to try and balance the impact I'm making by taking lots of flights. It's not a perfect solution but it's all about taking small steps to improve day by day.
As winner of Post Office Affordable Blog of the Year 2018, we reckon you must know a thing or two about budget travel! What are your top hacks for getting the most of your travels for the fewest pennies?
I can't tell you how proud I was to win that award! Well firstly, I'm always looking for great deals on websites like HolidayPirates (genuinely, I think I may be an addict)! Unless there's a sale, you'll find that flights are almost always cheapest when the dates first come into range so if you've got definite dates of travel, you'll be best getting them locked in ASAP. I usually put my own flights and accommodation together as it's often cheaper but sometimes travel agents can get access to better fares and prices than the general public so it's always worth doing price comparisons to check.
If you're doing a big trip with several pricey 'once in a lifetime' activities, speak to an operator to see whether they'll offer you a discount for booking two or more activiites at once. In Australia, many backpacker-style agencies did this and you can make some great savings if you're savvy.
Aside from this, I'd recommend maximising your time away to enjoy multi-stop trips if possible. For example, booking a set of return flights to Prague then another set to Germany the next month could work out way more expensive than combining these into one trip with a train ride between cities. I'm a huge fan of a multi-centre trip for saving money!
You're a HolidayPirates fan! What's the best deal you've booked through our site?
You're right - I'm constantly scouring the Facebook page for amazing offers! Last year I tagged two of my best friends in a deal to Marrakech and later that evening, we were booking ourselves a city break. We got great flight times with a stunning riad for five nights and only paid about £150 each so we were absolutely made up! We had a fantastic trip and I'm always on the lookout for more great deals to take us on our next one.
On your blog you've discussed your love of group tours. What advice would you give to somebody considering giving them a try?
Are you the kind of person that's desperate to see the world but can't ever persuade any friends or family to join you? If so, I'd say a group tour is absolutely perfect for you. Before I headed out on my first group tour - an 18 day trip around 10 different European countries! - I was incredibly shy and nervous but it quickly became the best thing I've ever done. You meet people from all over the world and within a matter of days you genuinely feel like a big family, as cheesy as it sounds.
If you're considering a tour, I'd be honest about your travel style and pick a company or destination based on these values but most of all, go with an open mind and you'll be in for an absolute ball.
Are you a plane or train travel kind of person?
I'm really trying to reduce my carbon footprint so wherever possible, I'll take a train or bus rather than internal flights. There's something really relaxing about long train journeys and the scenery is often amazing! But sometimes time constraints mean that you need to take the faster option and I don't think I'll ever get bored of flying: even when I'm cramped and uncomfortable after sitting in the same chair for 10 hours straight, just one look out of the window reminds me how amazingly lucky I am to be able to travel by plane.
Where's your favourite spot to enjoy a staycation?
This will seem crazy but I've not explored anywhere near as much of the UK as I'd have liked! But I live really close to North Wales and it's such a beautiful part of the world, full of lush green hills and some beautiful scenery. When I was growing up, my family spent a lot of time in Angelsey so it holds a special place in my heart.
Your top three favourite destinations you've visited so far?
Argh, the impossible question for any travel lover! Honestly, I've fallen in love with the vast majority of countries that I visited but begrudgingly I've tried to pick out a couple that really stood out:
- New Zealand. Honestly, every time I think about New Zealand it blows my mind. It's got to be one of the most naturally stunning places on the planet and when we visited, it was just constant blue skies, the most crystal clear lakes and snow-capped mountains. I really hope to visit again one day but if you're based in Europe and want to start with somewhere closer to home, Switzerland is similarly gorgeous. Yep, I sneaked an extra one in there haha!
- Croatia. A couple of friends and I went on a group sailing trip in Croatia and it was easily one of the best weeks of my life. From swimming in the warm sea every day to exploring the different islands with their own unique personalities, it's a country I can see myself going back to again and again. I'd absolutely love to visit the Plitvice Lakes next.
- Malaysia. This was a close call with Vietnam but I wanted to include Malaysia as it wasn't on my original backpacking itinerary. We made a last minute decision to spend our final three weeks there before heading back to the UK and it was the best choice! I hadn't realised how diverse the country was but one day we'd be up in the hills visiting tea plantations and the next, we'd be checking out the amazing street art in Georgetown, Penang. It's also renowned for amazing beaches and snorkelling along the coast - not to mention the metropolis of Kuala Lumpur! - so it's well worth a trip. Plus, it's really affordable too!
Finally, what trips do you have lined up for this year?
I'm really excited to be visiting the Philippines in February: it's been one of my dream destinations for so long that it still feels surreal to imagine myself actually being there! As well as kayaking in El Nido, I can't wait to explore the waterfalls in Cebu and hopefully get to snorkel with turtles again - they're one of my favourite animals!
Aside from this, I've not locked in anything definite yet but I've got no doubt that there will be more trips coming up in 2019. At the top of my bucket list is visiting Slovenia - did you know that Ljbuliana is supposed to be one of the greenest cities in Europe? - and I'd love to do a summer tour around some of the Balkans like Albania, Montenegro and Macedonia. If I won the lottery though, I'd be off to Japan in a heartbeat. Fingers crossed!