Category Archives: Travel Planning

40 Travel-Related Activities You Can Do In The Home

Travel themed activities for the home

This guide is for those who have suddenly been told that they can’t travel and want to scratch that itch, or readers who have a lot of time on their hands and need to entertain themselves. So whether you are an armchair traveller, looking for practical jobs related to travel around the house or are filling a timetable during homeschooling, here’s the ultimate list of travel-related things to do at home including crafts, food, education and exercise. 

Travel-Related Activities You Can Do Home

1. Virtual Tours of Museums, Landmarks, Parks + Wine

Free Tours

Never mind a line skip ticket, those in self-isolation can still enjoy front row seats of the world’s top museums including the British Museum, the Guggenheim and Anne Frank’s House in Amsterdam. 

Using the timeline and destinations on the British Museum site, you can click on the items that the museum ‘acquired’ to find out more about them. 

Normally you need a couple of hours to visit the Guggenheim in NYC but today you can look at photographs of the modern art hung on the walls within minutes. 

Click through the artefacts of Anne Frank’s house and learn about the family who protected her from the Nazis.

Want more than museums? Beat the crowds at landmarks too using Google Street Views. Here’s the Taj Mahal for starters.

Love to go outside? Google Earth zooms in to National Parks around the world. Here’s the Badlands in the USA. 

LA is sharing a sunset over Venice Beach every day.

Need some space? Alder Planetarium has live exhibitions.

Tune in radio stations all around the world at Radio Garden. Beautiful.

Lesson idea: Set a challenge to spot certain things in each Street View or draw a landmark but in a different setting/season. 

Get lost in travel by taking this quiz to see what travel quote is your mantra.

Mines is ‘surely all the greatest wonders of the world, the horizon is the greatest’.

Gemma and Craig Two Scots Abroad Travel Guides Big Bend National Park Texas

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Guided Tours

Harry Potter

Potterheads! Don’t be bored muggles.

Join The Potter Trail around Edinburgh during a 1-hour private video tour of Harry Potter locations in Edinburgh.

The Potter Trails Virtual Tour

Richard and the team are trained performances and Potter enthusiasts.

Not only do you collect points throughout by answering the quiz questions but you can also test the tour guide.

The tour is normally £40 but if you quote ‘twoscotsabroad5’ at checkout you will get 5% off! Reserve your spot here.

Any referral commission received will be added to The Potter Trail’s donation to Scottish Trans Alliance in reaction to JK Rowling’s recent actions.

Harry Potter steamtrain going over Glenfinnan Viaduct

Outlander Virtual Tours

You read that right!

Now you can follow of the steps of Jamie and Claire without leaving your home.

Our friends at the award-winning Mary’s Meanders have been delivering Outlander tours for the last six years.

Anne and Emma are the sweetest and know all things Outlander and ancestry in Scotland.

In this online Outlander tour, you join Mary’s Meanders and fellow Outlander fans/friends via Zoom and take a tour of the Outlander locations in Scotland.

Here’s a picture of me in Falkland aka Inverness in Outlander. Recognise the scene?

For more information and the booking form, click here. Tell them Two Scots Abroad sent you!

Mrs Baird B&B Jamie Outlander Falkland Scotland_

Movie Tours

Discover movie locations, virtually, in Edinburgh or London.

Tours with a Conscience

Support ex-homeless people while taking a UK city tour with Invisible Cities.

Invisible Cities Tours Edinburgh Online

For The Big Kids!

Our friends at Luxe Adventure Traveler are hosting virtual wine tasting experiences! Check out the schedule here.

» This section has become so big I’ve created a new guide which you can read here

2. Virtual Guided Tours of Popular Places

Step into the Sistine Chapel, meander around the Met or head underground from the comfort of your armchair with this exciting lists of virtual tours from home with guides.

Colosseum in Rome

Virtual 3D Animals

I am about to rock your world!

Using your phone, ask Google to see a bear or another kind of animal.

Choose ‘View in 3D’ and follow the instructions letting your camera take in some of the floor.

Boom! You now have a bear in your house.

Google 3D Animal

3. Watch a Comedy or Theatre Show

Big fan of the Edinburgh Fringe?

Seeing a comedy show doesn’t have to happen only once a year!

The Stand Edinburgh and The Stand Glasgow have a Stand on Demand programme where you can rent comedy stand up on their site.

Or what about a bit of magic?

Quantum Magician is putting up tuition videos on his site here.

The world-renowned National Theatre offers streaming.

Check out options through this link.

Finally, Andrew Lloyd Webber has announced that every Friday evening is now musical night on YouTube!

It will be streamed on the channel, The Show Must Go On!

You can rent previous shows too.

The Stand Live

4. Colouring In Books For Big Kids

Colour in Edinburgh Castle, shade in some sweary words or crayon Claire and Jamie from Outlander (UK / US) with these adult colouring-in books.

While the benefits of colouring in are debated, mindfulness gurus suggest that the act helps reduce anxiety.

If anything, it’s 10 minutes away from your phone or tablet while you chill in the house. 

5. Learn a Language

For my next trick and trip, I’m going to be fluent in…

Thinking about learning a second language and keep putting it off?

Use this time indoors to finally smash that goal.

And that’s actually how it starts.

Set an achievable goal, a deadline and identify how you are going to reach that goal.

Tapas with Drinks I Granada Spain I 10 Things to do in Granada on a Budget

For example:

Goal: The ability to read and understand a menu in my chosen language

Deadline: Three days


  • Use the Duolingo app daily to get to the ‘restaurants’ section
  • Write out food types and restaurant lingo into a notebook
  • Commit to repeatedly saying food types and recording to your phone for one hour each day
Duoling App


  • Create a menu without looking at support
  • Order from the menu and record on your phone or to a native who speaks the language through voice recording or video call

How long does it take to learn a language? That depends on how much time you commit.

Learning Methods

You can’t immerse yourself in the culture since you are staying at home, but you can do the following:

Bombard Your Brain

  • Listen to radio stations and songs in the target language
  • Watch YouTube vlogs in the language
  • Get into a TV show, even better if you can find a show or film you know well which is then dubbed in the language

Study The Language

  • Use online courses to study reading, writing and listening aspects of the language
  • Read children’s books and translate, building a word bank in a notebook
  • Speak to natives through video calls if you can
  • Use free apps such as Duolingo to have fun while you learn
Improve your Spanish

Assess Your Progress 

  • Create, write a report, fictional story, blog, newspaper article, menu, advert, etc
  • Share; is there anyone that can mark your work for you online?

Teach others, also known as The Protégé Effect, one of the best ways to consolidate learning

Peru San Blas Spanish School I Cusco

6. Cook an International Meal

Taste your travels again. Here are some of our favourites which Chef Craig makes frequently.

International Breakfast Meal Ideas

  • Tex Mex burrito: Refried beans, scrambled egg, cheese, hot sauce, soft tortilla
  • French Toast: is it actually French? Bread dipped in eggs and fried
  • Porridge (oats) with peanut butter: Perfect Scottish/Canadian fusion
  • Typical Nicaraguan breakfast: Gallo pinto (rice with red beans), eggs, soft tortilla
  • Wash down with Greek frappe, better than Dalgona Whipped Coffee apparently!
Don Juan El Taco Grande Juan in a Million | Ten Cool Things to do in Awesome Austin

Lunches and Dinners 

  • Cuban Ropa Vieja: Slow cook beef (we use pork), veg with oregano, ground cumin, sweet paprika and tomato. It’s supposed to have olives but Craig says no
  • Japanese ramen: slow cooker recipe from Wagamama UK / UK
  • Scottish haggis, neeps and tatties: Meat or veg haggis, boiled turnip and mashed potatoes
  • Hungarian goulash: Slow cook sh*t loads of paprika, tinned tomato, bell pepper and meat
  • Tofu Pad Thai: This is one of the rare dishes I cook following Thug Kitchen’s recipe UK / US
  • Med Mezze Platter: I love to assemble food like falafel, couscous with chilli, mango, yoghurt with mint, salad, hummus

→ What are your favourites? Share in the comments below.

Ramen Aeon Asahikawa_

7. Cook With a Class By Live Stream

You need to be in a kitchen with a professional chef to learn to cook a native dish right?


Take a two-hour pasta making class by Livestream with Nonna Live.

All you need to do is click here, pay $50 (down from $100) and select a date for your live stream lesson with an authentic Italian cook.

Not only are you learning a new skill you are supporting a business who is not making any income now that we can’t travel.

A week before your lesson you will be sent a shopping list which links to Amazon. 

My friend Christine took this class in person and is asking content creators to help support Nona through live streams.

Nonalive Italy Cooking Class

8. Drink Your Way Around The World

Does what it says on the tin!

Booze your way through Britain with scrumpy (cider), gin and whisky, belt down the Belgian beers and get the party started with tequila from Mexico.

Laphroig Islay Whisky Scotland

Here are some of our favourites:

  • Absinthe from Switzerland, who knew?!
  • Barraquito: Coffee from the Canaries, condensed milk, Tia Maria, espresso coffee, milk
  • Bulls Blood: Wine from Eger, Hungary UK
  • Edinburgh Gin: Nation’s sweetheart, neither of us drink gin but everyone else does
  • Cuba Libre: Rum, coke and lime. Simple
  • Hand Grenades from New Orleans: Gin, vodka, light rum, melon liqueur, pineapple juice
  • Ice Wine from Canada
  • Laphroaig Whisky from Scotland
  • Palinka from Hungary: Good luck!
  • Pisco Sours from Peru: Blows your mind
  • Punk IPA craft beer by Brewdog in Scotland
  • Ron Miel: Honey rum, add to a cup of tea
  • Sake from Japan: Like wine, there’s a sake for everyone! I like sweet sake
  • Schnapps from Austria
  • Tinto de Verano from Spain: Table red wine with a mixer like Fanta or soda and fruit
  • Unicum from Hungary: Similar to Absinthe
  • Zubrowka vodka from Poland: Drink neat or with apple juice 

You could even play a round of international pub golf! Get your pals involved via video call. 

Create a scoreboard and celebrate the winner. 

I’m well aware that we know more booze than meals! Don’t forget your hangover busting hydration tablets UK / US.

Peru Hop Pisco Tour | Peru

Pisco Sours in Peru98. Build a Beer Map

Craft beer fans should check out this beer map (UK / US) which has spaces for beer caps!

Decorative and documents your beer trail.

Beer Flight Lazarus Austin Craft Beer Brewery_

Or let a Parisian take you on a wine and cheese tasting session, through your screen!

This 60-90 session is available to readers from mainland US.

French cheese and wine is delivered overnight and attendees learn more about the four kinds of cheese and three wines during the session.

Find out more here

Wine glass against a vineyard backdrop

9. Dancing With The Stars

What’s your vibe, flamenco or the fling?

Dance plays a huge part in culture; pick your passion and learn to dance.

A way to introduce some exercise for the body and the brain.

Scottish couple doing ceilidh dance man in a kilt

Did you know I was a Highland dancer from the age of 2 until I was 17?!

Here’s a lesson of the Highland fling which I quickly knocked up.

Please please please tag me on social media once you’ve learnt it. I want to see your videos. I’m at @twoscotsabroad on every channel.

Here’s the music.

I’ve also typed up the instructions below.

How to do the Highland Fling


  • Stand tall, zip your body up, ankles together, toes pointing out to create a triangle
  • Ball your fists and place on your waist just above your hips
  • Bow from the waist for three counts
  • Bow back up for a further three counts
  • Raise your feet so you are standing on the balls of your feet, ankles and legs together

First Step

  • Put your left arm in the air with a curve on the elbow, your middle finger touching your thumb
  • Point your right toes to the side
  • Hop your right foot to the back of your calf creating a triangle with your leg
  • Hop your right foot to the front of your leg, retaining the triangle
  • Hop your right foot to the back again
  • Swap sides and do the same with the left foot


  • Arms on your waist like before
  • Point your left foot to the left
  • Hop a quarter turn and place your left foot on the back of your right calf
  • Hop another quarter and place your left foot on the front of your right calf
  • Finally, hop all the way around to the front with your left foot on the back of your right calf


  • Come down from the balls of your feet
  • Take a bow, see the introduction instructions

Congratulations! Now show me, tag @twoscotsbroad 

» You may also like | Where to meet sexy men in kilts in Scotland

Highland Dancers in kilts.jpg

10. Kids Olympics at Home

OK, that’s a slight exaggeration but the gorgeous Joe Wicks from The Body Coach has a catalogue of lessons on his YouTube channel.

Wicks has been working on his mission to get more kids moving for a while now.

His lessons are accessible and fun.

11. Build a Golf Simulator 

It might not be the Old Course in St Andrews but if you have room to swing a cat you can build a golf simulator.

This guide details exactly what you need and how to do it.

12. Escape The Room 

You’ve maybe come across an escape room on a rainy day during a city break or have been forced to endure one during a team bonding event, well guess what?!

You don’t have to leave your home to try and escape if you have Alexa.

Just ask Alexa to ‘launch escape the room’ and choose which room you would like to escape.

Alexa will then describe the scenario and you reply with instructions. Keep it simple and watch your speed.

This really challenges your brain because you have to visualise while remembering what you’ve been told to escape to freedom.

13. Board Games Aren’t Boring

Set up a game of Risk to fight out a conflict or play a city-specific Monopoly.

Here’s Scotland Monopoly (UK) or National Parks (USA) as an example.

Jigsaw’s going down well in Travelnuity’s house too.

14. Play That Funky Music

Like Craig, do you have two guitars gathering dust in the living room?

It’s time to pick a tune and learn it. Check the University of YouTube for lessons. 

What’s your weapon of choice?

Sabino Huaman Cusco

15. Make a Playlist

We do this for most trips.

Pull up Spotify, create a playlist, add pals to help and let the tunes take you back!

Here’s our Scotland playlist.

Pretend you are road tripping through Europe.

Car wing mirror, Iceland landscape

16. Become a Photographer

Learn how to take better holiday photos on your phone or camera by doing a photography course.

Nikon Camera have realised a whole bunch of online courses which you can now access for free.

Happy with the basics?

What about delving into post-production?

Here’s my friend Scott’s hyperlapse class course.

17. ‘Upgrade Your Brain’

My friend Alison sent me this link to FREE Udemy courses in case I wanted to ‘upgrade my brain’ which I thought was a genius way of putting it. 

Udemy is a bank of paid-for courses but there quite a few free ones covering heaps of topics from job interview formulas to ethical hacking.

Udemy Free Courses

18. Holiday Nails

Give a new meaning to holiday nails by doing them yourself.

I know! What a throwback idea.

Pick a destination and adopt the flag or choose a theme like Disney and go all out. 

If you need to remove your Shellac yourself, cut up pads, soak in acetone, wrap tinfoil around your fingers and leave for ten minutes. Scrape off the flakes. Not ideal but needs must!

Green Tea and Pink Flower Ice Cream Otatomari Pond Rishiri Island

19. Yoga at Home

Grab a towel or a yoga mat and stick on 30 Days With Adriene on YouTube.

She’s cool, makes you feel good about yourself and eases you in gently. 

Yoga with Adriene_

20. Sort Out The Travel Drawer

Guilty of decanting your travel essentials into the drawer and playing the rummaging game for the next trip?

Now is your time to sort out your travel shizzle.

Use boxes to separate and bags for storage. Ditch old liquids and clean out bottles for future use.

Don’t have a travel drawer? Sort out your clothes drawers.

I’ve recently started rolling my clothes and inserting them into drawers. Game-changing space hack. 

Passports and Currency

21. Watch Travel Related Shows

My name is Gemma and I am a TV-aholic.

I’ve not seen everything though so I’m going to put a * next to what I’ve still to smash. Share your suggestions below, please.

Honestly, the shows I’m recommending below are seriously good TV. My choice of movies, on the other hand, might not be to everyone’s taste!

Netflix Travel/Destination Shows

New York

Gossip Girls, How I Met Your Mother, Friends, Suits, Mad Men, The Get Down, You, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Pose, Tiger King, Power*, Brooklyn 99*, Russian Doll*, Sex and the City is on Now TV.

Beautiful skyline of Central Park and New York city from Rockefeller Observatory - Top of the Rock - New York, USA


Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Soundtrack, You, Glow, The Politician, Girl Boss, Big Little Lies is on Now TV.

Washington DC

House of Cards, Homeland, Knock Down The House*

Washington DC. Cherry Blossom


How To Get Away With Murder*


Jane the Virgin, Dexter (thanks Midnight Blue Elephant).



New England

Gossip Girl.

Montpelier in Vermont with fall foliage and buildings

UK and Ireland

White Gold, Gavin and Stacey, Peaky Blinders, Unforgotten, Fresh Meat, Derry Girls, Happy Valley, Skins, Top Boy, The Crown, Bad Education, Line of Duty, Outnumbered, The IT Crowd, Bodyguard, Sherlock, The Thick Of It, Peep Show, Doctor Who*, Still Game, People Just Do Nothing, Marcella, Absolutely Fabulous, Extras, Bridgerton.

London Eye

Central and South America


Australia and New Zealand

Top of the Lake.


Planet Earth, Blue Planet, Dark Tourist, Jack Whitehall Travels With My Dad, Top Gear.

Death Road Bolivia Gravity

Destination Themed Movies


Brooklyn, Isn’t It Romantic, New Year’s Eve, Wine Country, Someone Great, Lady Bird, Clueless, The House Bunny, La La Land, Legally Blonde, Pitch Perfect, When Harry Met Sally, Dallas Buyers Club, Goodfellas, Birdman, Gatsby, Annie.

Times Square New York_


Eat Pray Love, Outlaw King, The Two Popes, The King*, What A Girl Wants, Midnight in Paris, From Rome with Love

» My friend Sonja has a list of Scotland themed movies here

Outlaw King Filming Locations Scotland


Lost in Translation (Japan).



22. Read A Book

Switch off, tune out and get lost in the narrative about a destination or non-fiction travel experiences.

  • The Paris Wife by Paula McLain UK / US
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon UK / US
  • The Beach by Alex Garland UK / US
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed UK / US
  • Marching Powder by Rusty Young UK / US
  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris UK / US
  • Chernobyl Prayer By Svetlana Alexievich UK / US
  • Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch UK / US
  • The Omniverse Series by Steve Karmazenuk (space) UK / US

» My friend Yvette has listed books related to Scotland here

Moulin Rogue Paris_

Travel Guides By Fellow Bloggers – Please Support

  • The Grand Hostels: Luxury Hostels of the World by BudgetTraveller UK 
  • Everything You Need to Know About Wheelchair Accessible Cruising by Sylvia Longmire UK / US
  • The Solo Female Travel Book by Jen Ruiz UK / US
  • Solo Trip: Me, Myself & the World by Annika Ziehen UK / US
  • The Ultimate Guide to Backpacking the Globe on a Shoestring Budget by Dave Brett UK / US
  • Affording Travel: Saving Strategies for Financially Savvy Travelers by Danielle Desir UK / US
  • How To Get The Best Travel Deals by M D Harding UK / US
  • Travelling While Black by Roobens Fils UK / US
  • London Eyes: Short Stories by Frances M. Thompson UK / US
  • The Traveling Child Goes to Rio de Janeiro by Monet Hambrick UK / US
  • Flåm and the Fjords: Flåm, Aurland and the Aurlandsfjord Area by Lisa Stentvedt UK / US
  • ABC Travel Greenbook: Connecting the African Diaspora by Martinique Lewis UK / US
  • Dark Skies (Lonely Planet) by Valeria Stimac UK

Read the full guide to travel books by travel experts here.

Currency Palau Nacional

23. Buy Travel Gifts

Show the travel fan in your life that they will travel again or remind them of a positive travel memory.

We have heaps of gift guides on Two Scots Abroad depending on the type of travel.

Line Drawing Map Scotland Etsy Poster

24. Make Travel Inspired Presents

Short on spends but still want to make a gift? Let’s get creative.

  • Purchase a roll of world map wrapping paper (UK / US)
  • Cut out the area that means something to you and/or the receiver
  • Frame it or put it on a card
  • Read more home-made gift ideas here
Map Heart Shaped Card I Prints in Frames I Homemade Gift Ideas_

25. Start Your Zero Waste Journey

Panicking about all the plastic? Cautious of your environmental footprint?

The zero-waste community has created a wealth of resources and products to help you make the switch.

Consider the following:

  • Go for delivered glass milk bottles over store-bought cartons
  • Switch tampons for period pants (my preference – get 15% off) or a menstrual cup UK / US
  • Ditch the plastic straw for sustainable and sturdy bamboo (my preference) UK / US or metal
  • Consider collapsable Tupperware UK / US over cling film/Saran wrap 
  • Use old clothes for cleaning
  • Invest in a tote and say no to single-use bags

These small steps will make a big difference in your mindset. Read more about my zero-waste journey here.

Zero waste gifts

26. Create a Spa Experience

Turkish hammam scrubs are probably out the window unless you have a large tiled area and a tall Turkish man to hose you down, but a relaxing spa experience is doable!

Fill the bath, drop a bath bomb, dim the lights, light the candles, slap on a hair and face mask. Zen. 

La Vista Private Spa Asahidake Hokkaido_

27. Make a Spa in a Jar

Want to make someone feel better?

Grab an empty jar, put a nice piece of material around it and fill it with mini bath melts UK / US and beauty products. 

28. Go Camping

My friends Megan and Scott from Bobo and Chichi jokingly suggested we drive around the corner in our campervan to have one night out in the wild.

Jokes on them as I’m genuinely suggesting you build a fort or pitch a tent (minus the pegs), make some s’mores and pull out your best campfires songs.

This activity is especially fun for families. 

Smore, hand, tartan nails

29. Learn To Camp Cook

Got a camping stove that needs to be dusted off?

Now is the time to light that baby and using only the bare essential ingredients learn to camp cook.

Example of recipes can be found in these campervan cookbook UK / US

Camper Van Big Bend Texas

30. Build Your Survival Skills

Any Bear Grylls looking to go off the grid?

Whether you are looking to grow your own veg or dressing a wound now is the ideal time to sharpen your mind as well as your pen knife. 

31. Bring Travel Memories Into The Home

There are lots of ways to bring past trips into the present:

  • Print images and frame
  • Create scrapbooks with messages
  • Build bullet journals
  • Add clips to polaroids and pin to walls
Polaroid Tour in Vienna

32. Scratch Map

A popular travel gift is a world or State Scratch Map UK / US which starts with a metallic map outline and reveals a country once scratched lightly.

33. Waterproof Your Coat

Eurgh, a job I’ve been meaning to do forever but keep putting it off.

Waterproof your coat to ensure it continues to be water-resistant.

Use reliable cleaning and sealing products such as Nikwax Tech Wash and Nikwax Wash-In. Buy the combo here UK / US

Rain Iceland hike. Mountain Equipment jacket, hat. Gemma and Craig._

34. Clean Your Hiking Boots

Place down an old piece of material to protect your floor.

Find an old toothbrush and get scrubbing. 

Salomon Quest Women Lightweight Waterproof Boot

35. Call Your Pals Abroad

Keeping in contact couldn’t be easier with the use of video chats!

Book clubs, personal training sessions and family catch-ups can continue with the likes of Facebook Messenger, Skype and Zoom. 

» Read next | 10 games to play using group calls + new pub quiz round ideas

Group Call Facebook Messanger

36. Plan Your Next Trip

Travel planning is my favourite hobby. 

I love getting lost in travel photos, working out how to visit busy tourist attractions best, tapping into local tips, choosing the rooftop bar with the best sundown drinks, sussing out the local hikes, checking out the easiest day trips and mapping it all out then bringing it all together in a travel guide.

So whether your next planned trip is hiking to Machu Picchu in Peru or road tripping around the North Coast 500 in Scotland there is a really good chance I’ve created a ridiculously useful guide for it.

  » Click here to see which destinations I’ve been to.

The Lares Trek to Machu Picchu

Coming to Scotland and need help? My friends create Scotland itineraries for you! Click below to find out more:

Aberdeen bullers of buchan Scotland

37. Get Inspiration

Still at the dreaming stage? Here are some roundup posts to whet your whistle:

Honestly, we have so much content. Check it out here.

Sagrada Familia Ayre Hotel Barcelona _

38. Starting to Save?

With this halt in travel, you might be wondering how to strategise a saving plan to travel further.

We did that too! In 2015 we paused our careers and took a 17-month career break to travel the Americas and Europe.

We saved £20K to do so and volunteered for our keep through Workaway to save on the road.

» Here are our saving tips to get you started

Currency for Travel
39. Start a Blog or Website 

Twiddling your thumbs and looking for a project to dive into?

Do you love your hobby or passion enough to make it your full-time job?

Wondering how to move your offline business online?

Spoiler alert – this means working a 40+ hour week creating content while at your home base, constantly taking notes, planning photography and video, keeping up to date with technical aspects of running an online business, constantly fighting algorithm changes but…

It’s the best job ever.

No boss, supportive community, freedom to work where and when you want.

Gemma Armit Travel Blogger Cappadocia Turkey

Do not believe the ads that say ‘travel the world for free’; consider travel blogging if you want to monetise travel guides, sell services and products, work on campaigns to promote areas and are willing to take on the peaks and troughs of being self-employed.

Make no mistake, just now is a trough for travel and tourism but other industries are still thriving. 

Still interested? Here’s a free guide on how to set up a blog with tips on domains, hosting and branding.

It’s the same information you’d use to set up any niche.

Looking for consultation?

Send me an email introducing yourself to [email protected] and we can chat (depending on your commitment).

I have a decade of teaching experience, I run a Facebook group with 7K members and I teach bloggers how to rank on Google. No time wasters, please. 

Not every travel writer has a blog, although it does help to have a portfolio online.

In this guide by friend Sandra Henriques and others share 30 lessons from professional travel writers and editors. 

Travel Writing 101: Everything You Need To Know To Start The Best Job In The World: 30+ ‘how to’ lessons from professional travel writers and editors UK / US.

Blogging is Making Me Ill Travel

40. Build a Business Not Just a Blog

If there are any bloggers reading this and thinking about ripping it off for their own blog why not do something more practical and learn SEO (search engine optimisation) so when people start searching for travel advice on Google your content will get seen.

Bookmark for later!

Any questions or comments? Just leave them below. 

Travel activities, travel activity ideas, travel planning, travel saving, travel gifts, travel books, travel movies, travel TV shows, travel inspiration, travel food, online cooking classes, homeschool ideas, homeschool lessons, homeschool activities

Cuba Currency: Everything You Need To Know For 2022

Cuba Currency. CUC. CUP

Cuba’s currency has changed – locals and tourists say goodbye to the so-called dual currency system and hello to the reactivation of the historic national currency, the Cuban Peso (CUP). However, visitors are reporting that you might not actually use any Pesos while visiting Cuba.

This guide will detail everything you need to know about Cuban currency, answer whether you can use your credit card in Cuba and discuss the rumoured USD tax AND exchange fee!

Want to share your currency in Cuba experience? Please leave a comment at the end of this guide or contact us.

Traveling to Cuba soon? Here’s our first timer’s guide to Cuba

What Type of Cuba Currency Is There?

There is now one unified currency in Cuba, the Cuban Peso (CUP).

The CUP which should trade at 24 pesos to the US Dollar.

However, travelers who have recently returned state that they didn’t need Pesos at all.

Previously, there were two currencies.

The CUP, outlined above, which tourists only really used for street food, and the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC).

The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC pronounced Cook), was the so-called Cuban tourist currency, used daily by foreigners to pay for accommodation such as casas particulares, buses, taxis, tours and food.

The CUC will be phased out, making way for the CUP.

Here is how to tell the difference between the two notes.

  • CUP = Pesos, pictures of people on the bill/note. Che on the 3 CUP note
  • CUC = Convertibles, pictures of monuments on the bill/note
  • 1 CUC = 24 CUP, check the up to date rates here

The 3 peso note is popular with visitors as it has Che Guevara face on it!

Cuban Currency

Can I Get Cuban Currency in the UK/US/Etc?

No, you can’t exchange your native currency for Cuban in your home country or anywhere in the world apart from Cuba.

However, it is looking like you don’t actually need to worry about Cuban Pesos as hotels, restaurants and taxis are accepting Pound sterling (GBP) and Euros (EUR).

You can also exchange money at these places to and it is being suggested that the street exchange value is much better than rates offered at official places.

Thanks to Tim in the comments for this update.

Note: Some locals refer to the Pound as Sterling, just remember that if you are trying to exchange money.

It’s a little muddier for US Dollars (USD) with some saying that they are accepted on the street and others saying restaurants and taxis will take USD but not all hotels.

Some hotels are offering 25% discount off the food bill if you pay with credit card using GBP or USD.

Thanks to A. Loch for the feedback from their most recent trip to Cuba.

You may also like our guide to scams in Cuba that actually happen.

Vintage Car Havana Cuba

What Currency to Take to Cuba?

You can’t buy CUP in other countries like you can buy euros for your trip to, say, Paris.

As a workaround, it is recommended* that you take either of the following three currencies to Cuba in cash:

  1. Pound sterling (GBP)
  2. Euros (EUR)
  3. Canadian dollars (CAD)

You can see today’s Cuba exchange rate here as well as other currencies accepted and their exchange rates.

* Taking GBP, EUR or CAD is only recommended if the exchange rate is good for you at home and you don’t have to go miles out of your way to make the exchange. Shop around online to see what the best rates are before deciding if you are going to exchange your native currency for either of the three.

What is the Cuba Exchange Rate for USD?

Up until July 2020, there was a 10% conversion fee on the US “greenback” dollar.

This meant visitors were charged the 3% conversation fee discussed above and a further 10% fee so 13% fee in total.

Previously, this would have meant:

  • $10 USD – 13% (1.30) = $8.70
  • $100 USD – 13% (13) = $87

According to many news outlets, as of July 2020, the 10% tax has now been scrapped. Do you have experience of this? Please leave us a comment or email gemma(at)twoscotsabroad(dot)com.

However, the official Banco Central De Cuba still shows GBP, EUR and CAD to offer better conversions than the USD.

How to Get Cuban Currency

As mentioned above, you might not need to Cuban currency during your trip.

However, for your own knowledge, here is how to get Cuban currency.

The official Cuba money exchange is called CaDeCa (Casa de Cambio).

They can be found everywhere in Havana and the bigger cities but less so in smaller towns.

We were caught out in Caleton by Playa Larga as the bank hours were limited. Luckily new friends lent us some CUC so we could go diving at the Bay of Pigs the next day.

To exchange money at CaDeCa you need:

  • An early rise
  • Your passport
  • Patience

Be prepared to wait in long lines.

I read that CADECA shops close at 3pm so get there early, at opening times is recommended. Although changing money in Cuba is not impossible, it can be taxing on time.

There are two CADECA at Havana airport, check upstairs for the quieter one which had no line when we arrived.

It is recommended to exchange as much as you are comfortable with at the airport.

The airport ATM did not work during our departure.

Cue panic as we were not aware that there was a tax you have to pay to leave. Luckily our airline had already covered it. Read our guide to Cuba to avoid the silly mistakes we made.

You can also exchange GBP or EUR to Peso locally; ask your casa host, hotels or taxis drivers.

Line at bank in Havana Cuba

Should I Exchange Money at my Casa?

It is common for visitors to exchange money at their casa.

Not all casas will offer this service but they will point you in the right direction of who can help if you want to exchange money.

You can shop around this way too.

Have you exchanged money at your casa? Please share your experience in the comments below.

Read next: a guide to casas in Cuba.

What about ATMs in Cuba?

There are ‘hole in the wall’ ATMs in Cuba and we used them after our cash ran out.

Non-US Visa is the preferred card. Others may not work.

Again, there may be lines and there are instances when the money runs out. ATMs also max out so you may have to return for more.

Cash may come out before your card so remember to lift it out the machine or it will get swallowed. We had a swallowed card incident in Peru and it sucked, boom boom!

Overall, getting cash in Cuba is relatively easy if you have a non-US card that works, can beat the crowds and don’t mind making a few runs.

Vinales Casa Particulare Cuba

Can You Use Credit Cards in Cuba?

Increasingly, hotels, restaurants and tour accept non-US credit cards.

It isn’t certain whether your credit card will work in Cuba so it is best to have cash too.

So How Much Does Cuba Cost?

The total budget for 3 weeks in Cuba came to 1903.50 USD. That’s 90 USD per day for two people with limited activities and one week in an all-inclusive resort. You can read the full details here in our breakdown guide.

Playa Ancon Trinidad Cuba

Frequently Asked Questions

What money is used in Cuba?

Officially, the currency used in Cuba is the Cuban Peso (CUP) but EUR, GBP and CAD are wildly accepted.

Can I use USD in Cuba? 

Possibly. Some say the street value for USD exchange is good.

Should I exchange my USD before I go to Cuba?

You can’t actually exchange USD to CUP outside of Cuba.

Should I exchange my USD to another currency before I travel?

This very much depends on what exchange rate you can get for GBP, CAD or EUR.

If the rate is poor, it may be worth you taking USD.

If it involves you having to drive for miles and eats into your time, just take USD and be prepared to wait in line.

Further Reading 

Vinales Farmer Cuba

Final Words

I hope this has helped answer your question – what currency do you use in Cuba?

To recap, the best currency to take to Cuba is either EUR, GBP or CAD, depending on where you are traveling from.

Did you find this useful?
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Planning a trip to Cuba in the future? You need to know about Cuba's currency changes. Gone is the so-called tourist currency, the CUC. Click to find out more.

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17 Most Romantic Places in Europe: Ideas For Couples

Most Romantic Places in Europe-

Looking for the most romantic places in Europe for a Valentine’s Day trip, potential engagement proposal or time away from the daily grind? This guide details some luxury but mostly affordable romantic cities in Europe as well as a few cute towns and villages where you can spend quality time with your loved one. We also asked our social media followers what their top recommendations for romantic getaways in Europe are; keep reading to find out which made it to the list. 

The Most Romantic Places in Europe

1. Vienna, Austria

Before I visited Vienna I assumed it was going to be vanilla but I was so wrong.

Austria’s capital is packed with pretty historical buildings like Schönbrunn Palace, a handful of rooftop bars for sundown drinks and a vintage fairground with a working Ferris wheel.

Polaroid Tour in Vienna

Romantic ideas include capturing the moment with a nostalgic Polaroid tour of Vienna, visiting ‘The Kiss’ by Gustav Klimt and the daring Judith at the Belvedere then closing the day with a cruise on the River Danube. 

Art and opera make Vienna. If you are into either, consider purchasing a ticket for the Wiener Staatsoper/State Opera House or visiting Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier. Check out the bars and cute same-sex couple pedestrian crossing lights while you are in the cool District 7th. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Austria since 2019.

Karlsplatz Vienna

Coffee culture is huge in Vienna so drink the hangover away at a traditional cafe like Cafe Hawelka.

If your loved one likes Christmas, Vienna is the city to visit in December. There are 20 Christmas markets spread over a variety of districts. Christmas doesn’t feel forced or like a cash cow in Vienna as it does in other European cities; its glistening lights, cute huts and festive cheer is genuinely entrenched in cultural history. Find out more in our Christmas guide.

Vienna proposal location: Private cart dinner on the Prater Ferris wheel.

Couple cuddling at Christmas Markets Vienna Austria

» Read more | How to spend three days in Vienna 

2. Paris, France

Paris? Most romantic cities in Europe cliché I hear you say but honestly there is a reason it’s the city of love. Paris’s messy relationship with romance is steeped in literature and art and portrayed in TV and film.

Paris is world-renowned. From Hemingway’s first two marriages to Blair and the new Bass’s fleeting moment, the raucous Moulin Rouge print by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec to Owen Wilson going back in time to Paris 1920s. You can’t escape romance in Paris. 

Paris’s story of love is featured in lyrics and music videos by the likes of Camera Obscura (French Navy), Pete Doherty (For Lovers) and Taylor Swift (Begin Again).

La Refuge Paris

Like Paris on the screen, everyone holds hands and steals a kiss so you won’t feel out of place embracing in the streets.

River Seine strolls, Montmartre wanders and people watching from outside seating at cafes, it doesn’t get more romantic!

Although off-season is quieter than summer, it is likely that you will still see a number of engagement proposals at Trocadero which is the best spot for photos of the Eiffel Tower. I did in December anyway. Find out all the best things to do in Paris in winter.

Dotted around the city you will spot vintage photo booths which print off four different stills. A cute couple’s souvenir just like in the film Amelie.

In Marsai, you will find gay-friendly bars and restaurants and rainbow crossings. Same-sex marriage has been legal since 2013.

Paris proposal location: by the River Seine with a bottle of wine and picnic like my friend Joe did!

Paris views from Arch de Triumph

3. Kyiv, Ukraine

When thinking about places to go for Valentine’s Day, Kyiv/Kiev is not an obvious choice, but those that have visited before will agree, love is in the air in Ukraine’s capital.

Young couples stroll hand in hand with bouquets of flowers, Instagram fans get professional shots next to the pastel houses of Podil and others show off their romance by attaching a lock to Lovers’ Bridge. 

Kyiv is a great party city which might be appealing if drinking into the wee hours means romance to you. Same-sex marriage is not yet legal however the city celebrated its biggest Pride Festival where many politicians marched with locals. 

Another bonus is that Kyiv is very budget-friendly if you are looking for one of the cheaper weekends away in Europe. 

Kyiv proposal location: viewing platform of St Andrews Church with the city views.

» Read next | 40 things to do in Kyiv, including Chernobyl 

St Andrews Church Kiev

4. Berlin, Germany

Romance doesn’t have to mean roses and champagne. For couples who prefer beer, gigs and art, Berlin is an obvious Valentine’s day getaway.

Head to the top of the Berlin TV Tower for 360 views of the city and a romantic dinner at Alexanderplatz.

Take a walk through Tiergarten Park and enjoy an ice-cold beer at Café am Neuen See.

Couples that spray together, stay together so check out this graffiti class and tour combo.

Visiting in December? A trip to a traditional Christmas market is a must. Check out Gendarmenmarkt.

Berlin’s LGBT+ experience is world-renowned with the city being instantly recognisable as a gay-friendly destination. Same-sex marriage has been legal since 2017. 

Berlin proposal location: in winter, Gendarmenmarkt. In summer, the TV Tower

5. London, United Kingdom

Is London romantic? With a nickname like the Big Smoke, connotations of passion and love don’t spring to mind but there are definitely areas and things to do in London which make it on to our list.

Take a boat ride on the Thames, see the city from up high on the London Eye or enjoy a champagne afternoon tea on a double-decker bus.

Snuggle up on the sofa while watching a movie at the luxury Electric cinema or catch a show at one of the many theatres.

Is your other half a Potterhead? Then add this walking tour to your romantic itinerary for the Muggle in your life. Time for a day trip? Here’s how to get to the Harry Potter studios from London.

In the warmer months take a stroll along the canal at Little Venice or pick up a picnic at one of the markets such as Covent Gardens and enjoy it at Hyde Park.

Soho in the West End is the where you will find a collection of gay bars and clubs. Same-sex marriage has been legal in England since 2014. 

London proposal location: at St Katharine Docks with the landmark Tower Bridge in the background.  

» You make also like | London on a budget tips, how to get to Harry Potter Studios and our Tower of London guide

London on a budget

6. Edinburgh, Scotland 

Cobbled streets of the Old Town, upmarket restaurants on George Street and the views from Calton Hill, Edinburgh is a firm contender for the best European trips for couples. 

From Princes Street Gardens, be in awe of Edinburgh Castle as it sits on top of an extinct volcano.

Meander down the Royal Mile, taking a detour down the cute Victoria Street and into Edinburgh’s Grassmarket. 

Enjoy a day at the beach! There are two to choose from; Portobello and Cramand.

Bar hop and brunch at the village in the city, Leith, and then walk the Waters of Leith through the very photogenic Dean’s Village ending in the city centre. The most popular gay club is CC Blooms which makes up the Pink Triangle with the Regent Bar (food/bar) and Planet Bar.  Same-sex marriage has been legal in Scotland since 2014. 

People drinking at Port o Leith pub in Leith Edinburgh

Nurse the hangover during a lazy afternoon in Stockbridge, popping into the shops and restaurants while ahhing at the cute local dogs.

Join a walking tour! Such as the crazily popular Harry Potter tour. Other notable TV and  Notable filming locations include those from the romantic One Day.

Watch the sunset from Calton Hill, Arthur’s Seat or with a drink at Juniper across from the Waverley Station on Princes Street, or reserve a sofa at The Dominion cinema and enjoy a wine or beer while watching a movie.

I highly recommend Norton House for a spa day. It’s not in the city centre but worth the journey.

Edinburgh proposal location: The Vennel with castle views.

» Read next | 70 things to do in Edinburgh | Where to stay

Views of Edinburgh from Calton Hill

7. Glasgow, Scotland 

Not all romantic breaks in Europe have to follow romance according to Hallmark and Scotland’s largest city definitely bucks this trend.

Glasgow is rugged and raw. It very much feels like a working city. It’s honest and its people are among the friendliest in the world.

Ideas include bar hopping, lunch stops and shopping on Great Western Road and Byres Road using the subway, getting off at Hillhead in the West End. 

From here, don’t miss the gorgeous cloisters at Glasgow University, filming location for the Netflix TV show, Outlaw King and most importantly, Outlander!

Browse the art at Kelvingrove Museum; go at 1pm on Saturday to listen to the free organ recital.

Floating Heads Installation by Sophie Cave at Glasgow Kelvingrove Museum

When dark falls, dine on Ashton Lane, the cobbled street under twinkling fairy lights. See a movie at the comfortable and modern Grosvenor Cinema or have a laugh at the intimate comedy club, The Stand.

In the City Centre, connect with your partner through dance at Sloan’s ceilidh every Friday on Argyle Street.

See the best views of the city from The Lighthouse museum and do the street art mural tour taking you to the East End.

Climb the hill to Glasgow’s Necropolis for epic views and stroll through Glasgow Green to the People’s Palace. Go for drinks at the hip BAaD then see a show at the vintage Barrowlands.

Glasgow is gay-friendly. Popular clubs include Speakeasy and Polo Lounge. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Scotland since 2014. 

Glasgow proposal location: Botanic Gardens

» You may also like | How to spend one day in Glasgow

St Mungo Glasgow Street Art

8. South Iceland 

Beaches, geysers and waterfalls; the south of Iceland is an obvious romantic location.

Hire a car from Keflavik Airport and kick start your couple’s Iceland road trip.

Drive to Jökulsárlón Glacier aka Diamond Beach for a dreamy sunset then work your way back over four days stopping at the abandoned DC plane wreck hike, Seljalandsfoss waterfall and Reynisfjara aka Black Sand Beach, then join the Golden Route to see the more popular Iceland tourist attractions.

Girl at Jokulsarlon Diamond Beach

Spend half a day enjoying a couple’s trip to a lagoon-like the popular Blue Lagoon or more affordable Secret Lagoon. 

Visit during winter for the best chances of seeing the Northern Lights. 

Have you heard of glamping? These luxury tents are a unique option for couples in the south. 

Iceland is expensive but if you need your clubbing fix, spend some time in the capital, Reykjavik.

Iceland as a country doesn’t just tolerate its LGBTQ+ community, it celebrates them. Same-sex marriage has been legal since 2010. 

Iceland proposal location: Diamond Beach at sunset or Seljalandsfoss waterfall at sunrise

» Read next | How to plan your Iceland road trip or Iceland honeymoon 

Honeymoon in Iceland

9. Barcelona, Spain

If you like palm trees with your passion and architecture on your adventure then Barcelona in Spain is a great option for mini-honeymoon breaks.

Spend a day bronzing at the beach then enjoy sundown drinks with views of the Gothic Quarter Barcelona Cathedral from Hotel Colon (image below).

Drink chilled sangria close to but not on busy Las Rambla and dine on tapas at the El Born area.

Hotel Ayre has a lovely rooftop terrace with views of Sagrada Familia (feature image). 

Steal a kiss in front of the Kiss street art mural on Plaça d’Isidre Nonell. This mural is a large image of two lips embraced in a sensual kiss, but when you look closely, it’s not quite what it first seems.

Take a couple of shots in front of the Palau Nacional. Its noisy water feature lights up at weekend nights.

» Read next |2 days in Barcelona itinerary

Palau Nacional Craig Gemma

Feel the passion of love at a flamenco show tucked away in El Born then seek out the Speakeasy.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Spain since 2005 and we saw lots of same-sex couples holding hands during our most recent trip to Barcelona. 

Barcelona proposal location: a rooftop bar at sunset. 

Barcelona Cathedral Gemma Craig

10. Ljubljana, Slovenia 

I asked Craig which city is the most romantic in Europe and he suggested Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana.

Why? It’s easy on the eye!

Hire a bike and pedal to the ‘beach’, Špica, enjoy a boat ride in the canal and pop a love lock on Butcher’s Bridge.

Take the funicular up to Ljubljana Castle for lovely views. Enjoy a sunset drink at Nebotičnik and watch the day disappear with your loved one. While Slovenia has not passed a bill to legalise same-sex marriage, Ljubljana is a liberal city. 

Ljubljana proposal location: Ljubljana Castle.

» Read next | Things to do in Ljubljana

Hercules Foutain in Ljubljana Slovenia, Balkans

11. Bled, Slovenia

I’d argue that Bled is just as romantic, even more so! Bled is Europe’s fairytale town.

It has a castle on a cliff and a church in the middle of a lake. It really is a scene from a fairytale.

Hire a boat and row to Bled Church, The Church of the Assumption. Walk up the 99 steps to ring the church bell. It’s customary for the groom to carry his bride up the stairs!

In summer, you can sunbathe by the lake at Grajsko Kopališče.

Don’t leave without trying the delightful custard Bled cake.

Bled proposal location: any spot around the lake or viewing point.

» Read now | What to do in Bled

Bled Church with snow

12. Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina 

Mostar is another enchanting town in Europe.

Located in Bosnia and Herzegovina, close enough to Croatia to do as a day trip, Mostar has cobbled streets and a bridge over turquoise waters.

During summer, locals dive off the bridge if paid a handsome fee!  

Mostar proposal location: Bottom viewing point, the closest to the bridge is a bit pongy so avoid.

» Find out more | Mostar travel guide

Stari Most Mostar Bridge over blue water

13. Krakow, Poland

Krakow in Poland is a cute town with a lot going on. Cloth Hall in the main square is a striking Renaissance-era style building often pictured with a romantic horse-drawn cart. The upper hall, Sukiennice, is a museum.

Diamonds are out and amber is in at Krakow. Pick up an amber gift at the market in Cloth Hall where you can find everything from amber necklaces to broaches.

Wawel Castle sits by a lake, providing a lovely reflection.

Krakow is so cheap for drinks so enjoy cheap vodka in the Jewish Quarter bars. This is another budget romantic holiday destination in Europe. 

Krakow’s gay scene is modest; same-sex marriage is not legal but there have been over a decade of Pride marches. 

Krakow proposal location: Wawel Castle in the evening or Sukennice rooftop during the day.

» You may also like | Krakow travel guide + How to get to Auschwitz

Pretzel Krakow

14. Prague, Czech Republic 

If castles, cathedrals and beer says romance to you and your partner then Prague in Czechia/Czech Republic may be a great option for you.

Enjoy a cruise along the Vltava River and take in the Prague attractions from the panoramic windows or see the city’s twinkling lights reflect on the river on a night cruise.

Hike up Petrin Hill for city views of the City of a Thousand Spires. Spot Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral keeping company with the hundreds of cute orange topped buildings.

While Poland’s popular precious stone is amber, Prague’s is garnet, my birthstone! Although the most popular worldwide, Czech garnet doesn’t just come in deep red, you can purchase green too. Just make sure you trust the source and get a certificate to go with the stone or piece.

Book over May 1st to share Love Day with the locals.

There’s no denying that Prague is one of the busiest cities in Eastern Europe so if you plan to propose on the popular Charles Bridge do so very early in the morning and/or during low season. The bridge is open 24/7.

Beer plays a massive part in Czech culture and it is very affordable! 

While same-sex marriage is not legal in the Czech Republic yet, registered partnership is and the country is said to be one of the most liberal in Central Europe. 

Prague proposal idea: Charles Bridge like my cousin or a quiet spot on the castle gardens. 

Prague Scenic view on bridges over Vltava river in Prague city. Charles bridge (Karluv Most) and old historical buildings, Czech Republic

15. Lapland, Finland 

Want to feel like a kid again during a romantic winter trip?

Visit Lapland in December to meet the big man, enjoy thrilling husky rides or a daring snowmobile trip.

Adventure fans might want to ski, ice hike or go ice fishing as well.

Warm up in a steaming sauna with your partner at the end of the day or enjoy a hot Glögi Finish mulled wine.

If you’re lucky you might just catch the dancing lights on a Northern Lights safari!

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Finland since 2017 and Rovaniemi celebrates Arctic Pride each year. Culturally, sauna experiences are often split by gender and done so naked, something I’ve had to get over being a prude Brit! 

I’ve not been to Lapland myself but my family are just back and said it’s expensive but you forget the price tag when you touchdown because Lapland in winter is pure magic. I would really, truly love to do this trip. Hint, hint. 

Lapland proposal idea: during a festive sleigh ride.

16. Amalfi Coast, Italy 

Every Instagrammer’s wet dream is the rugged Amalfi Coast and Sorrento is the perfect base according to my best friend who went on her honeymoon here.

Opt for a hotel on the hill to feel like you are staying in the middle of nowhere with the choice to saunter into the busy town in 15 minutes.

From Sorrento, do a road trip along the coastline and take a boat trip to the lush Positano or visit Pompeii by train.

Alternatively, make Ischia off the coast of Naples your base for beaches, hot springs and castles which is a short ferry ride from Sorrento. 

Since Sorrento is expensive, it is often said to be one of the best anniversary destinations in Europe. Avoid high season. A same-sex union is recognised in Italy but not marriage. 

17. Rome, Italy

Bohemian streets, magical piazzas and street art murals for the edgier couple.

Rome is one of Europe’s most romantic getaways and often one of the first city breaks a couple will take. 

Visit the open museums of the Coliseum and the Forum, enjoy wine and pasta at the hip district of Monti and party in the night away to live music and cocktails at Trastevere. 

Trastevere restaurant bar Rome food

Watch the sun set from one of Rome’s seven hills such as Aventine Hill. 

Read our guide things to do at night in Rome for more.

Also, here’s our one day in Rome itinerary and where to stay in Rome.

Bike and shubbery 35 via degli spagnoli Rome_

Bonus – Cappadocia, Turkey

Not quite Europe but so close and no guide to romantic destinations would be complete without a nod to the magical Cappadocia.

Home to hot air balloon rides and fairy chimneys, Cappadocia has increased in popularity since the introduction of Instagram as a planning tool for travel.

With a number of romantic hotels with terraces to watch the balloons rise with the sun and luxurious swimming pools it’s easy to see why so many couples use Cappadocia as a backdrop for their wedding pictures. 

Sunrise hot air balloon rides Turkey

Turkey does not recognise same-sex marriage and Pride in the capital, Ankara has been banned for security reasons. 

Cappadocia proposal location: before a hot air balloon ride. In the balloon would be too tight space-wise.

» Read next | Everything you need to know about Cappadocia

Pin to your travel planning board for later

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Final Words

Whether you are splurging or saving, looking for something subtle or extravagant, this guide has detailed the best European cities to visit in February and beyond. Let us know which you opt for in the comments below.

Long Term Travel Planning: Save, Book, Go!

Long term travel planning guide

Looking for advice on long term travel planning but not sure where to start? You’ve come to the right place. My husband, Craig, and I (Gemma) took an 18-month career break to the travel the Americas and Europe and have detailed every single movement from saving to packing, planning to staying alive on the road. We visited 16 countries in 17 months from Cuba to Canada, Spain to the States and here is our long term travel itinerary, our daily average budget, and practical tips on how to travel long term.

1. Long Term Travel Destinations

Long term travel routes have to be considered with a sensible head. Yes, it would be sexy to drive along Route 66 in a Cadillac or fun to sing karaoke with the kids in Tokyo but both activities are expensive.

Setting (and sticking to) a long term travel budget is far more challenging than a quick three-week trip island hopping in Thailand then going home to comfortable wage at the end of the month to pay off the credit card bills. There is no home and there is no pay at the end of the month!


Write down where you want to go and what you want to do. Then it is time to do some research – this is all part of the long term travel experience! Use social media, travel blogs, tourist board websites, and Pinterest to get a feel for backpacking prices, visa instructions (and costs), itineraries, public transport information, and ideas of things to do.

Check Prices Online

You’ll swiftly work out that some countries are more expensive than others. For example – a dorm bed in Sydney, Australia starts at $19 whereas you’ll find one in Bogota, Colombia for $6.

Some continents/areas are cheaper than others but countries within those continents/areas vary wildly.

Let’s take Southeast Asia for instance. Hanoi, Vietnam is super cheap, you can get a bed for $2.50 (in a 6.5 rated hostel) compare that to Singapore where dorm beds start at $11 for 5/10 hostel.

Beers in Hanoi are $1.50, Singapore? $8.37!

I’ll cover our strategy for booking cheap accommodation below as it makes sense to investigate flight prices, more on that to come.

If you are travelling long term on a budget, I would strongly suggest avoiding the following countries:

  • USA and Canada
  • Europe’s Nordic countries
  • Australia and New Zealand
  • Japan

But I want to see Niagara Falls! I know, you can – just be prepared to burn through cash like Harry Styles does ladies.

Japanese yen in front of Kyoto gate

Facebook Groups for Travel Planning 

Don’t be afraid to chat with bloggers on social media or join Facebook groups to ask for advice.

There are two excellent Facebook groups for female travel lovers where non-biased travellers of all ages, shapes, and sizes give advice about their home countries and places they’ve visited – Girls V Globe and Girls Love Travel.

These groups are especially useful for ladies looking to long term travel alone.

Every destination has a Facebook group now. Just use the search function to find them.

Airport I Long Term Travel Planning

2. Saving for Travel

My name is Gemma and I am a super saver.

My best tips for saving is to set up three bank accounts.

The first account is where your pay goes, a second account for savings which cannot be touched, and a third for savings which can be tapped into for a wedding gift or new car tires (safety first!)

Next tip is to write down how much you spend (every single detail) for one week and then work out how much you can realistically live off. Each payday, move your savings over into the mentioned accounts.

Avoid window shopping, if there is no temptation, you won’t splurge!

Sell your stuff at car boot sales. Complain! Speaking to companies can reduce your monthly payments, for example, your phone provider. Go sober, not drinking every weekend was one of our biggest saving techniques.

 Read more | We managed to save £20K to travel, and you can too.

Long Term Travel Saving Advice

3. Cheap Flights and Other Transport

Craig lives on the Skyscanner app!

He claims that it is one of the long term travel must-haves, due to its ‘go anywhere’ function.

If you are flexible with dates and destinations – you will find cheap flights.

When searching for flights via computer, always set your computer to ‘incognito’ or ‘private browsing’ so websites do not remember your previous searches and hike up their prices.

Another travel tip is to Google the local airlines, bus companies, and train lines for your desired countries then go directly to their sites.

For example, Air Asia is a popular low budget airline which covers South East Asia and beyond. Sign up for the newsletters of these airlines for deals.

Don’t be scared of buses! We bussed all around Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia – some of the overnight buses have bad boy lazy chairs! Go local!

Do what the natives do – chicken buses in Central America are a thrifty traveller’s dream. Always be cautious of your belongings, opportunists roam in every country. Overnight trains in Vietnam have beds!

Car rental is sometimes a cheaper option in the long run and Bla Bla Car is a new car-sharing option for you to consider. Have you tried Über or Lyft in your home city? It’s a cheaper taxi service which runs from an app.

Important note: on entry, countries (bar those in the European Union) may request evidence of an outbound ticket. Immigration wants proof that you are leaving their country.

This restricts the ‘footloose and fancy-free’ hippy lifestyle, a little planning ahead is always required. We were asked by every country for this proof – do not take this warning lightly.

Long term travel visas can also be tricky – be prepared for each country to have different rules regarding visas. For example in Cuba, you must have a Cuba Tourist Card before arriving. Going to Cuba? Here’s our planning guide.

Currency for Travel

4. Travel Accommodation Search

While searching for cheap accommodation do consider the reviews of places too, we managed to avoid bed bugs and I hope you do.

Each continent/country favours different search engines for hotels – for example, for North America, Agonda for Asia.

Hostelworld is still my go-to for hostels.

In Nicaragua, many hostels, hotels, and guest houses advertise via Airbnb, even though they are not private houses.

We’ve stayed in an airstream in Austin, a prison in Slovenia, and a time capsule in Portland!

Word of mouth! Backpackers love to chat and pass on their experiences. Read about our good and bad hostel experiences.

Couchsurfing is not something that we have used during this trip. This website connects travellers with people who can offer a sofa or bed.

Both set up profiles and can leave reviews, like Airbnb but without paying. Naturally, your safety is paramount, so be sure that you are comfortable from the beginning.

We did swap our skills for a bed in WWOOFing style voluntary work (no fruit picking!) through the website Workaway.

» Read more | Check out our review of Workaway and HelpX for more details

You will need this variety of long term travel accommodation, especially if travelling in a couple – often you will want private space but other times you will want/need to converse with other human beings!

Stay in a Prison in Ljubljana I Chicken Bus I Passports and Currency I Long Term Travel Planning

5. Pills, Bills, and Travel Insurance

Do not get caught out by medical charges. Long term travel insurance should be up there with Havaiana flip-flops in the priority list.

During your research ensure that companies cover the types of travel (high altitude hiking?) and activities (skiing at Whistler?) that you plan to do.

I did have to visit the doctor in Vancouver which cost $100 CAD and then the physiotherapist (twice $100 CAD) for ear crystals (dizziness), and our insurer (True Traveller) refunded half of the balance.

Malaria and Zika exist and they can floor you. Cover up, avoid dusk and stagnant water, use protection, and take malaria tablets. The more countries you visit, the higher the chance of long term travel malaria being an issue.

Check out if your desirable destinations require malaria treatment. Ladies, for those of us doing long term travel in your 30s, Zika can cause defects in babies for up to two years, get tested as soon as you return. Check with your local travel clinic what vaccinations you require. If you don’t have them, your insurer has a reason not to pay out.

Long term travel birth control can be a dodgy one.

My GP prescribed one year of the pill, I sneakily had a few packs left from other trips to the doctors – luckily I am healthy and my blood pressure did not change.

Probably not wise advice to give as deep vein thrombosis can be linked to the combined contraceptive pill and long haul flights.

Help! I am a fast fat, and Craig is a speedy skinny.

Neither of us liked the way our bodies looked after four months of travel, long term travel weight gain can happen. Regardless of how many hikes you are doing, if you are eating churros every day it won’t keep them at bay! The solution?

Slow travel. I wrote a post on this while spending two months of the summer in British Columbia, by stopping we could move more. Ironic.

Churros so good I Long Term Travel Planning

6. Longterm Travel Packing List?

 Here is a quick overview of what we recommend

  • Long term travel backpacks – we have 80-litre packs which have a 20-litre zip on/off day packs, very useful for 2/3 day trips like hiking the Colca Canyon and long term travel carry on
  • Lightweight foldaway raincoats – I love my Marmot Precip US / UK. It’s electric blue!
  • Invest in a purifying / filter water bottle, save money and the environment – check out our unbiased review of DrinkSafe Travel Tap or get 15% off Water To Go [quote TSA15 at checkout]
  • Portable charger – we use Anker charger US / UK for phones
  • Digital nomads – I never travel without Mac but not everyone is a fan of Apple so here is a review of the best laptops to take travelling
  • I was never robbed, I used my trusty PacSafe which ties around your daypack and hooks up to a radiator or bed frame then you clip a padlock to it.

You may also like

Benarty Hill hike, Fife Scotland. Gemma wearing blue Marmot Precip jacket, bag, hat. Bowie the dog in background. Trees, loch._

7. Long Term Travel Hacks

Here’re five travel hacks to save your sanity and keep long term travel expenses down

  • Large scarves or flags make great dens in dorm rooms
  • Avoid long term travel cell phone bills by closing your account and switching phone to ‘airplane mode’ then pick up WiFi in cafes, accommodation, etc
  • Take an external hard drive and swap films with other travellers
  • Tweet your bank, then DM them with a contact, ours called us all over the world!
  • Craig maintains that Wednesday is the cheapest day to book flights

8. Long Term Travel Mistakes We Made

Learn from our mishaps

  • Cheap flights don’t always work out cheap! Price how to get from the airport, how expensive the airport hotels are, is the time waiting between flights worth what you will spend in the airport shops?
  • Write down information in a diary – it’s easy to forget what day it is when travelling and this can cause havoc when you are supposed to check in, start a trip, etc. We turned up at one hostel two days early in Cusco!
  • Back up images – don’t overwrite SD cards, transfer to an external hard drive, and save online
  • Slow down, you don’t have to see EVERYTHING and you will experience more stopping in an area for longer than one or two nights, avoid burn out
  • Solo travellers – be wise, read this guide on how to travel safely flying solo

Filter and Purifying Water Bottle_

9. Avoid Blowing Long Term Travel Budget

Readers always ask – how do we organise our monthly budget posts?

In a nutshell – persistence. Craig takes note of how much we spend every day.

He jots down what the item was and the cost.

At the end of each week he tallies up the items under categories – accommodation, food, transport, trips, socialising, miscellaneous/ luxury and sends the numbers to me, ta – da, we have a monthly budget post!

Not going to lie, it takes commitment, patience, and attention to detail – the last two characteristics I do not possess.

However, I personally think it’s the only way to travel long term on a small (ish) budget. At the end of the week/month, you can work out what is costing too much and cut back. Ice cream anyone?…

Another tip to help stretch your travel budget is signing up for Workaway or Help X (mentioned above), researching jobs abroad, or starting a travel blog

→ How do you keep control of your budget? Tell us in the comments below.

We have worked out that our daily average long term travel expenses are £34.50 each.

That covers 17 months on the road with 20 weeks volunteering (in hotels, hostels, family homes) for our keep and 5 nights staying with friends.

We estimated how much we saved through working with partners via the blog and added that to the total for a realistic long term travel budget.

Dog Sitting in Granada I Long Term Travel Planning

10. Romance on the Road

Couples that rave together, stay together.

So what about those who live in each other’s pockets, on limited money, with no GPS for a number of months? Long term travel in relationships is a test, whether that be a friend, parent, sibling, or significant other.

My best advice for long term travel as a couple is to test the water first. We endured a 5 – week trip to South East Asia two years before this long term travel trip.

We didn’t kill each other so started saving for the future.

Get hobbies – whether that is reading, blogging, or DJing (Craig makes music on his phone!)

Learning new skills is a great way to avoid getting on each other’s nerves.

Oh, and get used to going to the toilet in close proximately of each other!

These long term travel relationship tips worked for us – I left Scotland with my boyfriend, and came home with a husband (the same man!)

We got hitched in Austin!

An Austin Elopement - Lou Neff Point, Ladybird Lake - Corey Mendez Photography I Long Term Travel Planning

11. Long Term Travel Planning Itinerary

Still with me?

If you find this article useful, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter and never miss a post – there will be much more to come.

This section outlines where we went and what we did over the past 17 months.

There were three countries that we were pretty set on seeing.

Peru for Machu Picchu, Vancouver, Canada to suss out future living arrangements, and Cuba, to drink rum and dive (not at the same time).

The trip had to start in March as we were keen to attend the music festival South By Southwest in Austin, Texas.

Any plans after that were a bonus (and financially motivated!)

I’ve calculated the average daily budget for each country for two people including accommodation, transport, trips, food, socialising, and luxuries.

I’ve identified some of the big things we spent money on in brackets. I’ve added the price of trips/stays when we worked with partners to give you a true reflection of the prices in these countries.

They do not include flights between countries.


After a stopover at a JFK airport, we touched down in New Orleans where we spent the next three days listening to jazz, drinking hand grenades and eating Po Boys!

Next up, one week in Austin, Texas for the popular music festival South By Southwest. We watched new and old bands, drank beer, and ate tacos all without putting our hands in our pockets! Love free stuff? Check out how to do SXSW for free.

  • Duration: 9 nights
  • Average daily budget: $100 (based on a private room and hostel)
  • Currency: American Dollar

Lafette's Blacksmith Shop Bar I Long Term Travel Planning


We temporarily said goodbye to the United States of America (pausing our ESTA visa waiver) and headed to Peru in South America for one month.

In Peru, we hiked, biked, and attended Spanish school. Our Spanish is still muy malo!

  • Duration: One Month
  • Average daily budget: $76 (2 treks, Peru Hop pass, Spanish school, dorm beds)
  • Currency: Peruvian Nuevo Sol
  • Thinking of Peru? It is so much more than just Machu Picchu
  • Here are 14 ways to get to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu I Long Term Travel Planning

Three weeks in Bolivia was spent between the capital, La Paz, the Bolivian Salt Flats – Salar de Uyuni, and the warmer city – Sucre.

One of Craig’s highlights was cycling Death Road. For the first time since leaving, we actually stopped! Feeling a tad burnt out we booked into an apartment in the suburbs of La Paz and breathed.

  • Duration: 3 weeks
  • Average daily budget: $35 (Bolivia Hop pass, dorms, Salt Flats, Death Road cycle)
  • Currency: Bolivian Boliviano
  • Don’t bypass this in Bolivia

Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni, Salt Flats, Sunset Shots


A late addition to the long term itinerary was Colombia. Every backpacker that we met raved about the country, our only background information about Colombia was cocaine and cartels.

Craig found cheap flights via Skyscanner so off we went to the Caribbean coast! Highlights include the friendly Colombian people, Tayrona National Park, and empanadas.

  • Duration: 3.5 weeks
  • Average Daily Budget: $53 (Bikes, Volcan El Totumo, Tayrona National Park, dorms)
  • Currency: Colombian Peso
  • Colombia – no cocaine in sight

Piscina Beach Tayrona National Park Colombia I Long Term Travel Planning


Hello Havana! We touched down in the land of cigars and salsa with grand plans of backpacking our way around the island (which is possible in three weeks) however we ran out of money, and patience.

Cuba is hard work.

I can’t sugar coat it! Yes the rum is super cheap and tasty, and the beaches are paradise but it is hot, some locals see you as a walking dollar sign, and the lack of free information made transit tough work.

We were suffering from long term travel fatigue after four months of crazy backpacking.

After two weeks of travel (Havana – Viñales – Playa Larga – Trinidad), we booked ourselves into an all-inclusive resort in Varadero – a holiday within a holiday.

This was the cheapest option for saving our long term travel budget!

  • Duration: 3 weeks
  • Average Daily Spend: $90 (Havana Walking Tour, diving, all-inclusive, casas)
  • Currency: CUP
  • Dreaming of Cuba? Check out our Cuba Travel Guide

Havana I Long Term Travel Planning

July – January

The summer months of July and August were spent on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada.

This hidden gem is only a 40-minute ferry ride from Vancouver and boasts of lakes, hikes, and craft beer.

  • Duration: 2 months
  • Currency: Canadian Dollar
  • This is where we want to live: the Sunshine Coast, BC
  • All our Canada content starts here

Sechelt Inlet | Sunshine Coast BC

For the autumn and winter months, we moved to the bright lights of Vancouver!

Renting two apartments over the four months, catching the end of summer in Kitsilano then the rainy months in hipster Main Street. We were lucky enough to review West Trek’s tour of the Canadian Rockies.

For four days we gawked at those blue lakes, hiked around beautiful Banff, and made friends for life with the tour guides.

I left Craig for 5 days and flew West to Toronto! My best friend, Helen, met me. We ate our way around the city, cycled through Toronto Island, and felt the mist of Niagara Falls.

We were very lucky in Canada, not only did we make good friends, our family and friends from Scotland came to visit! Everyone wants a bit of B.C!

Craig also proposed under the fake stars of the Macmillan Space Center on my favourite day of the year… Hallowe’en!

  • Duration: 4 months
  • Average Daily Budget: $85 (apartment, hikes, lots of nice food)
  • Currency: Canadian Dollar

Peyto Lake Rockies | Two Scots Abroad


Rested and ready to put the rucksack back on, we skipped over the border to America where we spent two nights in Washington state, filling our stomachs in Seattle. The next four days we partied in Portland. Oregon’s capital city, Portland, is a very cool place.

Full of food carts, cycle routes, and craft beer – it’s easy to lose a long weekend there.

  • Duration: 6 nights
  • Average Daily Budget: $128 (based on two dorm beds at $32 each)
  • Currency: American Dollar
  • USA’s hipster city?

Portland Food | Two Scots Abroad

On our way to Nicaragua in Central America, we took an extended stopover in… Orlando! For five days we unleashed our inner kid at Disney World, Universal Studios, and iDrive!

  • Duration: 6 nights
  • Average Daily Budget: $334 (tickets to theme parks, hotel $89 per night)
  • Currency: American Dollar


By February that backpacking burn out was looming, the solution? Five weeks living in paradise! We moved into a hotel in Las Peñitas and worked for a bed and one meal. These type of Workaway programmes have stretched our £20K budget and made travelling for longer possible.

In total, we have completed five work/stay programmes. During our time in Las Peñitas, we visited León at the weekends and even boarded down an active volcano!

For the final three weeks in Nicaragua, we backpacked around Ometepe (an island with volcanoes), Somoto (a beautiful canyon), Granada (a very well developed city) and Managua (the capital and transport hub).

  • Duration: 8 weeks
  • Average Daily Budget: $35 (scooter hire, hikes, tattoos, private room in hostel)
  • Currency: Nicaraguan Córdoba
  • We lived in paradise

Las Penitas, Nicaragua Sunset


In March we returned to Austin, Texas, after a one-night stopover in the ridiculously expensive San Jose, Costa Rica.

I arrived in Texas an Orrock and left as an Armit – Craig and I eloped in Austin!

We got hitched after SXSW at the lush Lady Bird Lake then partied at the DJs Junior Boys in the evening. A perfect day!

Junior Boys Mohawk, An Austin Elopement - Corey Mendez Photography


By April we had said goodbye to USA, after one night in New York, we touched down in Oslo, Norway then met our true destination, Budapest, Hungary.

We spent the next five weeks in Hungary, 3.5 weeks of that was spent living with a family helping out around the house and garden. The rest of the time we soaked in spas and socialised in Budapest (cheapest place in Europe to drink) with family and friends who visited us. We also hired a car and took a Hungarian road trip to explore Budapest’s day trips.

Tasting Table Budapest I Long Term Travel Planning


May was pretty manic!

First stop was the laid back Ljubljana, Europe’s cutest city! We also visited Bled and Kolpa River in Slovenia (eight nights) before moving on to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) Sarajevo (six nights). That is a damn cool city, rich in history and culture. If heading to BiH, Mostar is not to be missed!

Next up was Serbia’s Belgrade (three nights) then the buzzing capital city of Romania, Bucharest!

Belgrade bypassed me but Bucharest blew me away. We left Bucharest with a stopover in Bergamo, Italy on our way to the sun.

  • Duration: 20 nights
  • Average Daily Budget: $56 (private room)
  • Currency: Slovenia (Euro), BiH (Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark), Serbia (Serbian dinar), Romania (Romanian leu) and Italy (Euro)
  • Further Reading: See city names!

Mostar Stari Most Bridge I Long Term Travel Planning


Welcome to warmer climates! Hello Espanol! The summer month of June was divided up between Marbella with Craig’s family, our final Workaway in Granada, and Malaga with my friends Shelley and Jen G.

  • Duration: 34 nights
  • Average Daily Budget: $65 (based on $32 private room)
  • Currency: Euros
  • I wouldn’t say Granada is my favourite city, what’s yours?

Malaga Spain


Last stop – Portugal! We spent the next ten days using the capital, Lisbon, as a base. We attended the music festival NOS Alive, watched Portugal win the European Championships, and devoured custard tarts in Belem.

Wine Portugal I Long Term Travel Planning

12. How To Apply For A Career Break

So why a sabbatical? I had always regretted not taking a gap year between university and work so when I found out that after three years of working with my council that I could apply for a sabbatical that was me ready.

When Craig and I met, he was planning on moving to Holland but put that on hold and we tested the wayfaring waters with a five-week trip to South East Asia. We did not kill each other, so the long term planning began.

I verbalised my plans with my line manager and head manager, they were both supportive so I put in my application with a supporting statement which identified what benefits me taking a career break would bring to my job.

I was a politics and current affairs teacher so the justification was pretty straight forward – I wanted to bring the textbook to life!

Craig is a self – employed gas engineer, he passed his business to his brother.

Waiting for it to happen or making it happen fellow travel lovers?

Have we missed work? Yes, I miss the routine, constant chat, and the banter with the students, but I have still worked every day – blogging which I now do full time.

» Read my step by step guide on how to apply for a sabbatical

13. Long Term Travel Checklist

To finish off this ridiculously big guide of long term travel advice here is a quick to-do list for you to check off and remember – long term travel is not for everyone. I had an incredible time but I’m looking forward to the shorter trips that the future holds!

  • Work out your budget
  • Investigate countries which meet the budget
  • Price flights
  • Start selling and saving
  • Advise work/apply for a career break
  • Get vaccinations/buy travel insurance (research travel quotes here)
  • Organise visas, credit cards, and currency
  • Stop dreaming, start living!

Here is our advice to Scottish mum/daughter duo who are about to take the trip of a lifetime
~ featured on STV2

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Considering long term travel planning but don't know where to start? Practical tips on how to plan, save, budget, and wander safely!

Any questions or quips?
Fire them in the comments and I’ll get back to you.

How To Plan A Trip + Free Planning Spreadsheet plan a trip

Wondering how to plan a trip? Whether you are planning a vacation, a weekend away, long-term sabbatical, ski break, road trip, couple, family, group or solo adventure, our guide details the stages of planning from inspiration to saving, planning to surviving on the road. So let’s get you moving from armchair to airport with our eight practical steps.

Trip Planner: How to Plan the Best Trip Ever

1. Travel Inspiration

Firstly, where to go and what type of trip to take?

Inspiration comes in many forms like movies, books, word of mouth, discounts, YouTube, social media, Pinterest and blogs.

You can check out all the destinations I’ve written about here. From Cuba to Canada, Northern Ireland to Nicaragua!

When I see a destination that looks fun or interesting I either save it to an inspiration board on Pinterest or a Collection on Instagram.

Rishiri Island Japan

Gemma in Rishiri Island, Japan

How to Save to Pinterest

Pinterest is a visual search engine used by millions of people all over the world every month.

Marketing-savvy websites play on this and include a ‘Pin it’ button which either pops up when you hover over an image or is placed at the top, bottom or side of the post/page.

To save, click the P button, a Pinterest box will pop up, save to an appropriate folder. You have to have an account set up in order to do this. Sign up here, it’s free.

Some website articles will have a ‘pin’ image which is a vertical image with some kind of text overlay. They are usually found near the bottom of the post and useful because the text on the pin will act as a reminder to where you found the inspiration.

On Pinterest itself, when you click the image you pinned, the link with click through to the post or page you saved it from. Neat eh?

How to Save to Collections on Instagram

I absolutely adore this feature on Instagram and have lots of folders covering everything from photo spots to holiday nail art.

When you see an image you like on Instagram…

  • Tap the ribbon type symbol at the bottom right-hand side of the app.
  • The option to ‘Save to Collection’ then appears to the left. Click this.
  • If you then hit the big plus sign to the right you can create a new Collection such as the name of the destination you want to visit.

I first discovered the hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia, Turkey on Instagram and booked up a balloon ride the following year.

Visual platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and other social media channels are the culprit for many credit card bills!

2. Budget Your Trip

So now we are talking about cash and credit cards we need to discuss how to save money for a trip.

There’s no point having destinations in mind if you don’t have the budget for it.

I have six tips to help you at this stage of planning.

How to Save For a Trip

Tip 1: Location, Location, Location!

Plan wisely. Choose destinations that meet your bank balance and/or go in low season.

Avoid big events and festivals unless this is the main reason you want to visit the destination.

As an example, take the film, interactive media, and music festival, South By Southwest in Austin, Texas.

Each March, thousands of business people and visitors move into the city while many of the locals move out because they can charge three times the amount on their properties.

Be wary that the time of year can and will impact on the weather.

While many popular destinations in Europe such as Paris enjoy four seasons in the year, countries such as Thailand experience monsoon season and different parts of the country get it at different times.

A cheap trip to a city might not work out cheap if you have to spend money on indoor activities to stay comfortable.

Don’t be put off by winter, I especially love cities and towns at Christmas time.

Love winter travel too?

You can check out our festive guides to:

Here’s some roundup posts on the most magical places to spend the winter period in Europe, popular winter destinations in the Americas, Europe’s best Christmas markets and what to pack for a ski trip.

Finally, don’t miss our guide to fun New Year’s Eve parties around the world!

Vienna in Winter December Christmas World on Rathausplatz

If you can, avoid school and public holidays. This will help keep the flight and accommodation costs down.

We’ll talk about this more below.

Budget airlines don’t always end up being cheap if you land far away from the intended destination.

Check the distance, mode of transport to get between the two and how long it takes. If it adds on another three hours by bus it might be worth paying the additional money to fly closer.

Overnight flights can rob your sleep. Factor this into your planning.

If you are keeping costs down, here are the best places to travel on a budget, from our experience:

Camper Van Big Bend Texas

Texas Road Trip

Tip 2: Canada or Crap?

Canada or crap was our philosophy while we were saving for our 18-month career break to travel the Americas and Europe. If it couldn’t fit in a backpack, it wasn’t being bought.

If you are thinking of taking a sabbatical, here’s how I applied for mine.

Tip 3: Three Bank Accounts For Saving

Open three bank accounts. Have your income enter one. Work out how much you spend, identify your needs (housing, bills, food) and wants (clothes, huge TV packages, nail art).

Create a livable wage and put the majority of the rest of your pay into another savings account. Do not touch these savings.

But why three? In the third account move some money over. This is the account that you can take money out from if you are struggling. Maybe you need to buy a gift, a kid needs new shoes, the washing machine goes, etc.

Saving shouldn’t be stressful when it is for the end of goal of the dream trip.

» Read our 5s of savings strategy which saved us £20K for travel

Tip 4: Cards With Extras

There are many credit and debit cards on the market that offer a bonus if you shop with them.

For example, you can accrue airline points with while you shop or enjoy free cash withdrawals abroad.

Some monthly accounts offer free cell phone insurance or even better, travel insurance for short trips.

We currently use a UK Nationwide account which includes travel insurance and free ATM withdrawals abroad for £13 per month. We also use the Halifax Clarity for credit transactions.

We’ve previously used the Lloyds credit card but since losing the American Express portion of the dual card deal we no longer support it because you can’t take money out abroad without charges. The Avios points are lower with Mastercard than with Amex too. Find out more in our travel cards guide.

→ Note: Usually you will find that the airline points are for one airline only and you can often get cheaper flights with a budget airline. It really depends if you are loyal to one airline carrier to make points cards work. The industry has really cracked down on people abusing the system.

Tip 5: The Travel Essentials

There are some items you must fork out for.

Firstly, travel insurance.

While some banks accounts may offer insurance for short term travel trips, you will need more coverage if going away on an extended trip, to a certain location it does not cover or if you plan to do an activity it doesn’t include like high altitude hiking or winter skiing.

We use True Traveller which is a company for Europeans. Many others use World Nomads.

I claimed through True Traveller when I was sick in Canada with no issues. You can read about my experience and our comparison guide here.

Secondly, injections and medicine.

There may be vaccinations you have to get to stay safe during your trip and to keep your travel insurance working.

Some companies don’t have to pay out if you are do not have the correct vaccinations, and they won’t.

Check with your health care provider to see which vaccinations you need for your destination.

Finally, gear. Buy cheap, buy twice! There are some items you need to invest in depending on the seasons, if you are moving around with luggage, or taking a long travel trip.

Tip 6: Travel Gear Essentials

  • Waterproof outerwear – We wear Moutain Equipment US / UK and Marmot Precip US / UK
  • Gore-Tex hiking boots or shoes – Salomon Ellipse trek shoes or boots US / UK&nbsp for me
  • Durable luggage – carry-on sized bags or rolling cases?

 » Read next: Every item we travel with + the ones we dropped

Mt Asahidake Craig and Gemma at Summit_

Hiking Mount Asahidake, Japan

3. Planning Your Trip

OK so now we’ve progressed onto the fun part: destination trip planning!

Open up a spreadsheet or the free online Excel, Sheets.

Title tab one, PRICING. Add a new tab and call it ITINERARY.

On tab one, column one, write out the step-by-step way to get the destination from your doorstep. Add each leg to a new line.

For example, ‘bus or taxi to airport’, then on line two, ‘flight one’. Line three might be ‘flight two’ depending on how far you are going or ‘private hire to hotel’. You get the point.

In column two, write out how much that portion of the trip costs. Use Google Maps and Skyscanner to help price the journey.

In column three, add the dates out and in four, return dates. The final column, five, should be the total. Total up each section individually then total everything together.

Use the code =SUM( then highlight the amount in the row ) for easy addition.

Open up tab two, ‘Itinerary’ and add your intended dates along the top giving each day one row.

Add a rough note of the kind of things you think you will do on each day. Use your notes from Instagram Collections and the posts you saved on Pinterest. This will change so don’t stress about it.

Go to a tours website like GetYourGuide. Add the destination to the search bar.

→ WARNING: This may take you back to the inspiration stage!

Pull up the tours and fast passes that grab your attention.

Go back to your planning spreadsheet. On tab one, ‘Pricing’

Create a new section underneath transport for tours and activities.

Add each tour/activity that you plan to do to its own line. Type in the price in column two.

Alternatively, just use the one I made earlier! Click here to access it, you will have to save it to be able to edit it.

Travel planning spreadsheet

Google Maps Trip Planning

I honestly love planning trips and one of the best tools to use is free, as long as you have a Gmail account.

Go to My Maps by Google. Click create a new map. In the search bar, type in one of the areas you want to visit such as the Louvre in Paris. Hit search and a pin will appear.

  • Click ‘add to map’ and then edit the colour, the icon if you wish, and add a note if you have any. For example, the Louvre is closed Tuesdays
  • On the left-hand side of the map you should change the name of the map
  • Also, edit the name of the ‘layer’ to activities or similar
  • Go through the same process with all the other things you want to do
  • Keep the same colour and icons and save to the same layer. This will help you visually plan what you can feasibly do in one day and also how to group activities

Google Maps

I also use Google Maps to work out timings between places and then save it to my homepage on my phone.

To add multiple stops to Maps make sure you are using the walking option.

To save to your phone homepage, click the three dots next to the top location and choose ‘add route to Home screen’.

I tend to have one for each day and use it to help get around when I’m on the trip.

Go back to the planning spreadsheet, select tab two ‘Itinerary’ and move about activities.

 » Here’s our recommended apps for staying in contact

Booking Accommodation

The type of accommodation you book is very much dictated by your budget.

We’ve done everything from volunteering for our keep to dorms in hostels progressing to apartments, B&Bs and now since we mostly do shorter trips, affordable hotels.

I tend to only rent apartments if I know that the city doesn’t suffer from ‘buy to rent’ issues which are out-pricing locals for example in Venice or Lisbon. Sometimes having my own apartment is necessary if I need to work or require a kitchen.

Booking Hotels

Go to, type destination into the search bar along with the dates. The most popular properties tend to appear at the top.

You can filter to read ‘hotel only’ and your price point. You can also request details such as hotels with parking, etc.

Browse through the hotels, look at the reviews, double-check how much the room you require costs and then add to ‘My List’ which is done by hitting the heart.

Create a destination folder in My Lists or they will all appear in the next trip section. No biggie.

Go back to My Maps. Click on the left-hand table and choose ‘add layer’. Name it ‘accommodation’.

Copy and paste the addresses of the hotels you like into the search bar. Choose a colour and icon.

Make sure that only the accommodation layer is ticked or the hotel pin will save to every layer.

If you do add to the wrong layer, just click on the name of the left-hand side table and then edit on the pin. You’ll find the delete symbol there.

Once you have added the accommodation layer, tick the boxes for both activities and accommodation and check which hotel is best for your itinerary.

Go back to and book.

The more you book with, the cheaper the prices get as you unlock Genius points. It does pay to be loyal.

I’ve tried other platforms such as Hotels and Expedia but I prefer because it allows you to cancel trips up to a certain time frame.

Add the hotel fees to the planning spreadsheet. Do you need to lose a tour? Can you budget another night or better transport option?

Las Vegas strip with hotels and landmarks at night

Keep Accommodation Costs Down

Learn from my mistakes, here are some ways to enjoy low-cost travel when it comes to booking accommodation:

  • Check that airport hotels are actually at the airport and have a 24/7 shuttle inclusive of price
  • Book hotels near transport lines if in big cities
  • Avoid hotel breakfast unless it seems worth it and you will be up/in for them
  • If you are into photography/avoiding crowds book hotels near an activity, we did this in Japan for sunrise shots
  • Pay extra to stay in hotels that are experiential like Sultan Cave Suites in Cappadocia for the views

La Vista Hotel Asahidake Onsen Hokkaido

Getting Around

We tend to use our feet to get around during long weekend trips but sometimes areas are too big, the weather is torrential or we’re running late.

Check out the bus and train systems and also weigh up whether Uber is cheaper than national taxi services. In some cases, it will be, in others won’t.

You might find that taxi drivers straddle both badges and take hires through taxi apps and also at taxi ranks.

Work out if buying a city transport pass is cheaper than doing it trip by trip.

Rent bikes or electric scooters.

If taking a multi-destination trip, consider whether budget airlines which save on time are worth the money. If you have time, take the train or bus for a different, cheaper and often more environmentally friendly experience.

Research car share schemes in bigger cities if you want to make day trips.

Car rental abroad really isn’t as scary as you think and is often the more affordable option. Read our guide weighing up the pros and cons here.

Kamikawa Bike Ride Hokkaido_

4. Keep Costs Down On the Road

While you are on vacation, there are a number of ways to keep costs down.

  • Walk, everywhere
  • Attend tip-based ‘free’ tours
  • Pack a filter water bottle and fill up at the tap
  • Have a big lunch instead of dinner
  • Bring collapsible Tupperware and take a doggy bag home from meals
  • Search for deals, coupons and 2-4-1 but look out for added taxes
  • Get out into nature, hiking is free

Stac Polliadh hike Ullapool Scotland Highlands, Craig, Gemma posing._

Stac Pollaidh, Scotland

5. Examples of Trip Budgets

We religiously keep a record of what we spend during our trips as it helps us to inform future plans. Why not add a tab to your planning spreadsheet and do so too?

Here’s an overview of some of our trips. We’ve not included flights since the price differs depending on long you are going for and where you are departing from.

The below travel budgets are for two people unless otherwise stated.

How Much Does Vienna Cost?

  • Hotel: £377 (three nights in November)
  • Taxi: £22.71
  • Transfers: £48 (from airport to city)
  • Food: £100 (food tour included in activities, we pretty much ate from stalls)
  • Drinks: £141.92 (£4-6 glass of wine/we went to bars every night)
  • City Cards: £30 (discount to top attractions)
  • Activities: £334

Vienna Rathaus

Vienna, Austria

How Much Does An Iceland Road Trip Cost?

  • Accommodation: £484 (four nights in September)
  • Car rental: £270 (includes airport pick up/drop off)
  • Petrol/Gas: £244 (ouch!)
  • Food: £116 (eating out and food shops)
  • Drinks: £85.50 (a few drinks, not cheap/not a drinking holiday)
  • Activities: £50 (one spa/lots of free stuff)

Reynisfjara Icelands Black Stack

How Much Does Kyiv Cost?

  • Apartment: £254 (three nights in September)
  • Food: £98 (for one, wine included)
  • Activities: £100 (Chernobyl day trip and Kyiv walking tour tip)
  • Uber: £17 (one ride to the airport, a few in the city)
  • Transport: £10

St Andrews Church Kiev

How Much Does the Scottish Highlands Cost?

  • B&Bs: £400 (5 nights in July)
  • Food: £250
  • Petrol: £143 (used own car)
  • Activities: £5 (1 x Smoo Cave)

Achmelvich Beach NC500 Motorhomes

How Much Does One Week in Japan Cost?

  • Accommodation: £434 (six nights in September)
  • Food: £391 (drinks mixed with some meals)
  • Drink: £133
  • Trains: £456 (JR pass)
  • Transport: £45 (metro/buses)
  • Taxi: £49 (avoid taxis if you can)
  • Activities: £153

Fushimi Inari Shrine Camera Shot

 » Looking for more inspiration? Check out our bucket list

6. Packing For a Trip

Hands up who is an over-packer?!

What to pack for a trip will very much depend on the length of time, climate and intended activities and tours.

First, you need to think about the luggage.

How much weight and what size of bag are you permitted to take? Check individual airline regulations but on the whole, dimensions for carry-on luggage maxes out at 22″ x 17″ x 8″/56 x 45 x 25 cm.

Cabin-only baggage also restricts the amount of liquid you can take to one small plastic bag with a limit of 100ml per product. Read our review of the best hand luggage backpacks/cases here.

Switch to solid toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner and soap to get around this regulation, save the plastic tide and prevents spillages.

To wheel or not to wheel? That is the question.

If you are simply taking a vacation which involves moving luggage from a bus to a resort then the quality of wheels shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

If you are planning a multi-location trip, you will have to invest in a sturdy wheelbase. I recommend something by Eagle Creek like the Expanse US / UK which is what I now use for weekend trips.

Eagle Creek has a lifetime guarantee but you won’t need it because their cases are built for off-road situations so no cobbled street or sandy road can beat it.

Unlike the super affordable IT case! I’ve burnt through two cases now. Terrible for the environment. I returned one and use the other for storage.

Eagle Creek are not cheap but you get what you pay for. Remember, buy cheap, buy twice. You can check out the latest wheeled bags review here.

Eagle Creek Expanse

If you are backpacking you might want to consider a backpack instead of a suitcase. They are easier to manoeuvre around places with, give you hands-free walking and are pretty much the done thing when backpacking.

The downside is you have to carry the weight on your bag. Some people can’t believe this but Craig uses an 80L backpack and he fills it to the brim. If you can pack lighter, go for a smaller 60L or 40L.

When carrying your backpack on your back you put your day bag on your front. It looks silly but it does help balance the weight.

There are two main types of backpacks, top loading and front loading.

Top-loading bags tend to have a drawstring at the top and some kind of side and bottom access if designed well.

Front-loading open up like a suitcase so you have easy access. I much prefer this version and used it during our big backpacking trip.

Vango Rucksack I Women Packing Guide

Please excuse the plastic bottle! This was 2016. We did re-use it

How to Pack

There are two ways to pack a case or bag best.

Firstly, the rolling method. This involves rolling items up and placing in the bag. This method also avoids lines which you can get from folding.

Secondly, the folding method which you will be familiar with.

Whichever way you go with you will want packing cubes or large zip lock bags to separate items. Avoid bags that make a noise, especially if booking in communal rooms. You might like our guide on tips for staying on hostels.

I stuff shoes into the sides of the bag/case and pack walking boots in a bag to avoid things getting dirty.

I then close the luggage and pull it by the top handle and shoogle it.

This then creates more space at the top for a waterproof toiletries bag. If you are road tripping and/or using communal showers you will want to a hanging toiletry bag. Check out our road trip packing list for more essential items.

I tend to pack electronics in my day bag, using makeup bags and packing cubes to organise. Our large tripod has to go in the hold, it wouldn’t get passed security in carry-on luggage.

 » Read more: Our packing list, item by item.

7. Meet New Friends

Are you going solo or are you fed up with your travel partner? It is relatively easy to make friends when on a trip. Here are a few ideas:

  • Volunteer with the likes Workaway or HelpX
  • Get friendly on tours, free walking tours are a great way to meet like-minded people
  • Book into social accommodation like hostels. Private rooms are mostly available as well as dorms
  • Do a bar hop, pub crawl or craft beer/gin/wine tour
  • Attend festivals or workshops
  • Learn the language! Here’s how to learn Spanish without leaving your home

Instagram Collections is also great for remembering the people you meet on the road. Just ask for their Instagram and save an image you will remember from their profile to the destination/event collection board.

Halong Bay Castaways Island Friends I First Time Visitor Tips- Hanoi & Halong Bay

Halong Bay, Vietnam

8. Staying Safe On The Road

Regardless if you are going solo or in a group staying safe is paramount.

Be cautious of super cheap accommodation, double-check that the area is right for you. Can you walk around in the dark? Are there certain streets you should stick to? Is a hotel with a reception desk a better option than a self-service apartment? If it doesn’t feel right, get out. I left a sketchy hostel in San Francisco and didn’t regret it.

Take a photo of car plates and let the driver see you do this if you are on your own. Use legit apps that inform you when the driver is on the way and what car they are driving.

To keep belongings safe, consider the PacSafe net US / UK which ties around bags and secures to non-moveable items. They also have bags but I find them too bulky.

Share your itinerary with family but don’t broadcast it live on social media. Give yourself a day or two delay.

Switch on a phone tracking device like Find My Phone.

Avoid large crowds like at street performers in cities, there is a chance thieves are operating.

Take photos of your ID, passport and medical records if applicable. Keep a note of your bank lost card contact number. Check your bank statements often and report anything that seems dodgy. Most banks will call you on a landline if you DM them on Twitter.

Drink booze and have fun but know your limits. Stick to the group especially in areas you do not know well.

Use a filter water bottle, here’s our review, to avoid getting sick. If you do get sick don’t be stubborn about seeking help from health care professionals. You have travel insurance for a reason!

Speak to people about the local scams. Here’s a list of the ones in Cuba. You might think some are laughable but they all happened to us to people we met. Cuba is safe by the way, there’s just a lot of economical scams that happen to trusting tourists.

Do as Paris from Gilmore Girls and Kevin from Home Alone does, talk to your invisible friends if you have to answer the door while alone.

Colca Canyon, Craig, refilling filter water bottle, day bag, Salomon walking boots

 » Planning a long-term trip? This guide tells you everything you need to know

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Final Words

I hope that this has helped you during your research on how to plan an overseas trip. Please do share your planning tips in the comments below or leave any questions.