Category Archives: Travel Planning

Hostel Rules and Regulations – Don’t Be THAT Traveller

HOSTEL DORM ETIQUETTE

What is it with a lack of hostel dorm etiquette? I (Gemma) write this annoyed after yet another sleepless night in a hostel dorm. This time a chica dragged her rucksack in at 2am, opened and closed about twenty zips, seriously how many zips on that thing? Then she shines her iPhone torch all over the joint. We get it, hostels are a cheap form of accommodation which makes a budget stretch further but they are not a replacement for home so stop treating 8-bed dorms like your bedroom back at your mum’s house. Turns out I am not alone in the hostel hustle, I reached out to fellow travellers and we’ve put together a list of hotels rules and regulations to help everyone sleep better at night. Be sure to tell us any of your stories or hostel tips and tricks in the comments below!


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What is a Hostel?

Hostels are an economical form of accommodation which comes after camping and couchsurfing in the international hierarchy of budget travel sleeping arrangements.

They usually offer some form of social setting whether that be a bar, garden or rooftop seating area, or even a swimming pool in warmer climates.

Hostels are a great place to meet new travel buddies because there usually is an element of organised fun through quizzes, pub crawls, themed nights and even cultural activities like city walking tours.

What is a Hostel Like?

Contrary to belief, hostels are not just for party backpackers. They come in all shapes and sizes from dives to rooms fit for divas. Sleeping arrangements differ depending on the hostel.

Some offer private rooms with private bathrooms, others have private rooms with shared bathing facilities. I’ve even been in hostels with outdoor sleeping options (in Budapest). Most hostels have dorm rooms in common.

What is a Dorm Room?

Forget North American sorority dorms and think more Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sleeping arrangements and you are halfway there.

Jokes aside, dorm rooms are rooms with beds which are usually in bunk form (one up/one down) to save space. You can expect anything from a 2-bed bunk to 16-bed and the price of a hostel stay gets less the more beds in the room.

There should be a locker for you to place your belongings.

They sassier hostels have lockers big enough for your 60l backpacks. Hostels are cosy, which means making friends is pretty easy.

The more modern dorms have privacy curtains, alternatively, opt for the bottom bunk and hang up a large scarf or flag.

Are Hostels Safe?

Hostels are only as safe as you prepare for them to be. Just because someone carries a backpack like you it doesn’t mean they are not an opportunist.

Now I am not accusing every traveller of being a thief, just have your wits about you and be wise. Tips – don’t leave out anything you want to keep from going walkies.

Personally, I don’t even charge electronics unless I am in the room.

Alternatively, charge a capacitor battery pack like our reliable Anker US / UK and use that to charge on the go.

We swear by the PacSafe net US / UK for keeping gear safe. We travelled with it through the Americas (North, Central, South) and Europe and came home target-free. To use, pack a day bag full of your expensive kit and passport then close it.

Place the bag in the PacSafe net before closing tight, wrap the wire around something non-moveable like a bed frame and then clip the padlock (TSA approved comes recommended) closed with the bag securely attached to the frame. Now cover with a scarf.

Most hostel buildings have call features at their front door to avoid anyone walking in and out. We’ve left our larger rucksacks in cloakrooms for days while out hiking and never faced any issues to do with security.

You can read individual hostel reviews on the likes of Hostelworld which will help you also make a decision about each one.

Hostel Rules and Regulations

So now that we’ve covered the basics of backpacker accommodation lets move on with the tips for staying in a hostel. Whether you are staying in a hostel for the first time or you’ve racked up the party hostel passport stamps, there’s a takeaway for everyone.

Hostel Dorm Security

Staying in a dorm requires a few quick checks. Take two seconds to memorise the code for the door, or try your key in the lock to make sure it works – even if it’s open when you arrive.

That door is the only security you and your fellow travellers have and it’s really important that you keep it secure.

Even if valuables are in lockers inside the rooms, most locker padlocks can easily be picked. So, make sure you always, always lock the door when you go out – that’s just good hostel manners.

By Danni Lawson |  Live in 10 countries

Granted, a dorm is never going to be as quiet as a private room.

Yet, a lot can be done to ensure the peaceful coexistence of all guests. One of the unspoken yet basic rules in hostel dorms should be that of keeping the level of noise to a minimum. Those checking out in the early hours should always make sure to pack their bags the night before, while nobody is asleep and preferably before 10 or 11 pm.

By doing that, they will keep noise levels at a minimum while everyone in the dorm is asleep. It’s a simple, yet very nice gesture that doesn’t require that much effort and that goes a long way into making sure that even the most crowded of spaces becomes an oasis of peace.

By Claudia Tavani | My Adventures Across The World

Do Not Turn On The Lights Between 11pm-8am

One of the most annoying things a traveller who is staying in a dorm room can do is to be inconsiderate when they switch on the light after 11 pm, especially when someone is already asleep. Be polite, some people have an early flight and want their beauty sleep as much as possible or the ones who come home late from a party will surely not appreciate the bright light too early either.

If you need to do something, you can use the torch of your phone. It’s just a simple but nice act.

By Mary | A Mary Road


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Put Your Phone On Silent

One of the best things you can do for the people in your hostel dorm room is to silence your phone. I have shared rooms with too many travellers who believe that everyone around them needs to know when they receive a text message or phone call, but it really just makes the rest of us stir crazy.

It is understood that if you’re waiting on an important call, you turn your phone on loudly so you don’t miss it. But, if you’re casually texting, it can be done in silence (this includes turning off keyboard sounds on phones).

In addition, it is also rude to have a conversation on your phone late at night or early in the morning inside a dorm room.

Most hostels have a social space or living area where you can take care of these matters – your bed is not the place to do it.

By Megan | Meganstarr

How To Deal With Snoring in Hostels

We get it, you’ve had a hard night on the sauce and you are prone to a little open mouth, blocked nose snoring action but pal, it really is not fair on anyone else in the room.

Many of your dorm friends might be getting up a 3 am for a hike so your freight train breathing is going to ruin their paid excursion.

  • If you are the guilty party, do everyone a favour and get a private room
  • If you are the victim

1. Try moving the snorer. Reddit recommends throwing M&Ms at the perpetrator.
2. Pack and use earplugs 
3. Consider a headphone headband. Craig even sleeps with it home, I don’t snore, honest!
4. Be really rude the next day and get ready REALLY noisily next the to the snorer.
5. Complain – we had to do it in Toronto. Three of us left a four-bed dorm. Mass exodus!


Bookmark | The best carry-on backpacks for travel 


 

Invest In Headphones

Listening to music and watching movies are great ways to pass time in the evenings or on a lazy day, but not everyone in a hostel dorm will want to listen at the same time.

Especially at night when others are sleeping, hostel guests should do what they can to avoid disturbing others – including sounds from phones and laptops.

Trying to fall asleep to the sound of gunfire in an action movie or a blend of three different people’s music at the same time is annoying and will surely draw complaints from light sleepers and people who like peace and quiet. Popping in a pair of headphones is an easy way to keep dormmates from holding a grudge.

They don’t need to be expensive noise-cancelling headphones – cheap earbuds will do the trick so music or movies can be played all night if necessary.

By Kris | Nomad by Trade

Sharing Is Not Caring

Hostels can be a bit intimidating for first-timers but they are fun and inexpensive. One of the downsides of staying in a hostel is the fact that some people can be disrespectful and clueless.

Paying for a shared space doesn’t mean everyone has the right to do what they want.

Asking yourself these questions:

  • Do I enjoy the aroma of dead-rat smelling shoes wafting around with the aircon-breeze while I’m contemplating life?
  • Do I want to see a naked lady changing bloody sanitary products while I’m thinking of what food to eat next?

The answer is always no! Most hostels have shoe racks outside of dorm rooms. Use it. Girls, there is a toilet just 5 metres away from your bed, insert there. It only takes a minute to spare someone from a life of tampon trauma. Be a hero and do your ladies’ business privately.

By Christine Rogador | The Travelling Pinoys

Save Your Smells

Dorm bedrooms are usually small, thus any smell inside becomes X times stronger than outside. Moreover, in AC rooms, all the smells are stuck in the closed space.

Bedrooms are mainly meant for sleeping, so it’s best to keep neutral/fresh scent there. That means eating spicy food or any types of snacks is not appropriate. There is a kitchen in any hostel, where you are more than welcomed to eat!

It’s also time to control your favourite perfume. Some people tend to apply more perfume since it becomes lighter outside because of the weather and wind. The air is still in the room, so all the sprays from all the guests will mix and stay.

If you are a smoker, hang-out outside for a while till the strong smell of cigarettes will reduce to the minimum. Many non-smokers are susceptible to cigarette scent and, most probably, they would not like it spread in the bedroom.

By Natalia |Mytriphack

Dorm Rooms Are Not Laundromats

Long-term travel can’t be non-stop awesome travel experiences. At some point, everyone needs to do their laundry. Many hostels have washing machines that travellers can pay to use.

Unfortunately, some travellers decide to save money and hang their wet clothes around the dorm to dry. Some string a line from one bed to another. Others merely drape their wet clothes and towel over their bed and sometimes over other bunks.

This is not OK; having to navigate around someone else’s laundry is unpleasant. Rather than hanging or draping their wet laundry around the dorm to dry, people staying in hostels should always use the dryer or hang their clothes outside on a washing line if there is one provided. Hostel staff can always advise what laundry facilities they have available.

By James Ian | Travel Collecting

Don’t Leave Your Sh*t In Communal Bathrooms

Hostels are normally associated with youth, freedom and a laid-back life, but that is not to be confused with lack of respect and common sense.

On the contrary, sharing space with others implies, or should imply, respecting one another and following unwritten rules of a certain kind of common sense which, unfortunately, not for everybody is “common”.

One of those rules concerns shared bathroom space. “Shared bathrooms” means that the bathroom is shared among many people and therefore it’s not wise nor respectful to leave one’s toiletries in the little space available, be it a chair, a shelf or whatever that is available.

That space is temporary for the person using the facilities at that time. Your toiletry bag is your storage, not the communal bathroom space. It’s easy to understand, there is simply no room for everybody’s stuff.

By Isabella Biava | Boundless Roads


Don’t Steal My Sh*t

Don’t steal other people’s stuff. You might think that this is obvious, but the amount of times things go missing in hostels it is ridiculous.

From mobile phones and other valuables to dirty clothes, shoes and food from the fridge, why do some people think its ok to take other people’s stuff? It is never OK to take things that don’t belong to you. Even if you’re drunk, eating someone else’s pizza is not cool.

Backpackers usually have a tight budget, which certainly won’t stretch to providing someone they don’t know with free food or anything else which takes their fancy! Buy your own stuff, or just go without.

By Claire Sturzaker | Tales of a Backpacker

You Can’t Sit With Us, Well Me (Name That Film)

For many travellers, staying at a hostel provides a built-in community on the road and potential new friends, which can be great – if you want that from your travel experience.

However, for travellers who are a bit more introverted or shy (or simply prefer solitude and travelling alone), hostels can quickly become overwhelming environments when others approach them constantly to try and make plans together.

When you’re staying at a hostel, be mindful of people’s personal space and aware of the cues they may be giving you. If you sense that someone is enjoying being alone and isn’t looking for a new travel companion, respect their wishes. Don’t insist that you eat together, hang out constantly, or travel together to the next destination.

Travelling is an inherently overstimulating and often overwhelming experience, and lots of people are seeking solitude and reflection time (or need to work while travelling), not necessarily looking for a crew of new pals to hang out with on the road.

That being said, there are plenty of hostellers who are happy to make new friends and pick up a travel buddy – look out for them and don’t hesitate to reach out when people seem receptive.

By Sierra Dehmler | Passport Voyager

Get A Room

I get it. You’re on holiday.

You’ve found THE ONE. Or maybe it’s the beer talking. Anyway. Things get heavy. It’s time to take this somewhere… more intimate. That towel you’ve put up hanging from the bunk above will act as the perfect sound and light barrier, right? Surely no-one will hear you?

The answer, I’m sad to say, is no. Everyone will hear you. No-one wants to. Please, do everyone a favour and don’t have sex in a hostel dorm.
Unless you are:

a) The only person in the hostel dorm or
b)… to be honest, there is no B.

Just don’t do it. If sex is something you find yourself doing, get a private room, or find a private place that doesn’t have a bunch of other strangers lying in the dark listening to your magnificent sounds. However quiet you think you are being, and however fluffy that towel… they can definitely hear you. And no-one wants that.

This also applies to tents incidentally.

By Laurence Norah | Finding the Universe

Final Words

Over 10+ tips later from angry travellers, I think we can all agree on this hostel etiquette advice and move forward in our quest to travel carefree and happily into the sun.

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Tips on how to survive hostels | Hostel dorms | Backpacking | Hostel dorm tips | Budget travel

What really grinds your gears in hostels?

Keep in Touch with Friends: 6 Free Communications Apps

How to stay in contact with friends

Travel insurance is researched, the currency is ordered, your waterproof coat is packed – gearing up for a long-term travel trip is exciting yet exhausting! You never really understand the negative impact of life on the road until you are sleeping in the tenth different bed in two weeks or hunting for a quick turnaround dry cleaners and it’s during those lows that you wish you could have a hug from a parent or a moan with a familiar face. Fear not, although physical touch can’t be made, yet, there are apps to help you keep in touch with friends while touring and here’s the lowdown on our (Gemma and Craig) six favourites.

How to Keep in Touch with Friends

1. WhatsApp

Everyone has WhatsApp or Telegram on their mobile phones now which is great for sending free images of you swinging on a hammock to the folks back home and keeping up to date with stories and gossip. One of the neatest aspects of the best wifi texting app, WhatsApp, is the group function.

I have a series of group chats such as one with my friends from university called ‘Put On The Red Light’ (named after The Police song, Roxanne, as we used to do the drinking game to that tune at the student union) and countless country-specific groups to help arrange our trips. Craig has ‘Therapy’ with his pals from the home area, you are best not knowing what is said that group.

Understated functions of WhatsApp includes GIFs (found in the emoji section) and the option to edit and type/draw on pictures. WhatsApp also allows calls and video calls for one to one chats.

2. Facebook Messanger

Like WhatsApp, the Facebook Messanger app gives travellers the opportunity to chat with people in other countries via typing, call or video. It also has the option of group chats. Facebook Messenger is where I conduct most of my business chats with other digital content creators. As you can see in the image below, we discuss very important business details.

Since I’ve only ever met a few in the flesh (internet friends!) we’ve not exchanged numbers so don’t use WhatsApp.

FB Messenger has a great selection of GIFs too and digital icons like floating hearts and confetti!

I like how you can search chats for topics discussed in groups via Messenger on FB desktop and also mute chats that you don’t want notifications for.

These free group communication apps, WhatsApp and Messenger, have a recording function which is lovely if you want to hear someone’s voice. Our Colombian friends actually use voice record more than text! 

You will need to be connected to 4G or WiFi to use both apps. If your phone provider does not cover this in foreign countries check out an international WiFi hotspot.  

→ Note – why don’t you just use Facetime? Well, my friends, I moved away from Apple phone last summer and I don’t think I’ll be going back. 

 

3. Skype

Since the creation of WhatsApp and Facebook video, Skype has become pretty much redundant however Skype Credit for mobile is still useful if you are passing through a country fleetingly and it doesn’t make sense to invest in a new sim package. 

4. Spotify

So obviously we all know that Spotify is a music streaming app which I love and mention frequently in gift guides but how can this app help communicate with people back home? Playlists!

You can create a ‘collaborative’ playlist which allows another Spotify user to contribute. Why not create a theme challenge for the week? An alternative way to stay connected.

5. Send a Postcard

In this digital age, how often do we print our holiday snaps?

Go one better and make family back home envious as they go about the 9-5 grind by posting pics of your hiking, surfing and skiing! Stay in the good books and never miss an event again.

These apps let you send a card online for less than $2 which is cheaper than buying a card on Etsy.

Photos can be put into themed templates, ‘framed’, text font adapted and envelopes added for an additional charge. Another plus? Dates can be stored in the app diary so you will never forget a birthday or anniversary again.

6. Words With Friends

An oldy but a goody! This app is essentially Scrabble with a different name but you don’t need to be around the same board to play it. Users can play all over the world so not only are you checking in with friends, you are also exercising the brain. You’ll miss that, believe me!

Whether you are touching base at home or keeping in contact with new travel friends these recommendations will get you chatting and keep you ‘appy.

Hover and add to your planning board

Travel apps - communication apps

How do you stay connected?

5 days in Ireland itinerary: Introducing Ireland’s Ancient East

Farm food on table at Green Barn Ireland

I (Gemma) travelled to Ireland feeling underwhelmed. It’ll just be like Scotland I thought. Oh, how I was wrong. Sure, there are lush green fields, daunting cliffs, and drizzly weather but Ireland has one up on its tourism counterpart; it has deadly hospitality and striking resilience. Spend time in Dublin (if you must) then depart to Ireland’s Ancient East on this 5 days in Ireland itinerary (this can be extended or shortened, additional East of Ireland attractions included).

5 days in Ireland Itinerary: Ireland’s Ancient East

Where is Ireland’s Ancient East

After the widely successful West Atlantic Way campaign pushing visitors out of the capital city, Dublin, towards the 16,000 miles of rugged coastline (like road trips, check out the Scottish Highlands North Coast 500), Fāilte Ireland have cleverly routed attractions over 17 counties, from the border of Northern Ireland down to Cork in the south, anything east of the Shannon River is deemed Ancient East territory – and that’s many regions to explore.

We visited the central areas of Killashee, Kildare, Kilkenny (it’s a city!), Thomastown and Tipperary all of which are entwined in 5,000 years of history and wrapped up in stories.

Luckily for you, the extremely friendly locals and businesses love the chat and want to share their version of events and success. Warning – the Irish charm is alive, kicking, and infectious so let’s get started with our 5-day tour of Ireland. 

You can plot your itinerary using this travel map planner.

The Apple Farm | 5 days in Ireland itinerary: Ireland's Ancient East

Day 1 Dublin – Killashee, County Kildare  

Killashee Hotel is a destination in itself. This 4-star hotel and spa has 141 beds, 25 suites, 18 meeting rooms, 3 ballrooms and 13 unique windows at the front of the house. It’s not just an interesting building to look at, it also has an intriguing past. Killashee Hotel was once a school for boys ran by La Sainte Nuns, this hotel embraces its own Ancient East story! We had the pleasure of meeting with the hotel gardener who advised us that kids can play in the 280 acres of garden, visit the 7-year-old butterfly farm and send a message to the fairies… Will they reply? Anything is possible in Ireland’s Ancient East.

Kilashee Hotel | Irelands Anciet East

Things to do around Killashee

The town of Naas (Nás na Ríogh) where the hotel is located has several bars (of course), a public swimming pool, Craddockstown Golf Club, and a new theatre called the Moat Theatre. Residents can use the complimentary bikes at the Killashee Hotel.  

  • Website: click here
  • Note: 3 days in Ireland itinerary can also be created from recommendations

Day 2-3 Ireland Itinerary 5 days: Killashee- Kilkenny

Burtown House, near Athy (co. Kildare)

This Georgian villa, Burtown House, continues to be lived in and loved by the Fennell Family. Photographer, James Fennel and his wife Joanna not only open their gardens to the public but also feed guests of the Green Barn Restaurant from the field to fork. You can literally watch the vegetables grow while sipping on some beetroot soup. The gardens have been in continual production for over 150 years and make a nice day out for the family on the Ireland Ancient East route.

Green Barn | 3 days in Ireland itinerary

James and Joanna are an example of how innovative the Ancient East residents are, they not only have a  cafe but also an art studio, apartment, and 12 acres of gardens and park, some of which is soon to see a step up from glamping, luxurious huts with *drumroll* outdoor baths. Sign me up now.

  • Address: Burtown House, Athy, Co. Kildare, Ireland
  • Website: Click here
  • Opening time: Gardens Feb-Oct | Green Barn Wed-Sun
  • Price: Gardens 8 Euros per adult

What to see in Kilkenny

Fact: ‘Kil’ means church in Irish Gaelic and Kilkenny is the medieval capital of Ireland. We have to make one thing clear; Kilkenny is a city, not a town. If you want to rile the locals up, go ahead and name the Marble City incorrectly.

The city of Kilkenny (population 24, 000) has 70 pubs and is home to Smithwick’s Brewery (a big hit with the Americans in my tour group), the Mediaeval Mile, and Kilkenny Castle.

The Medieval Mile

Take a tour with Kilkenny’s longest serving tour guide to hear the stories of the city’s past. Kilkenny’s nooks and crannies are full of tales of torture and pain. Find out the story behind the Kilkenny Cats and why Alice Kyteler fled (on her broomstick?) to England never to be seen again.

  • Website: click here
  • Meeting place: Kilkenny Tourist Office, Rose Inn Street

Kilkenny Medieval Mile | 5 days in Ireland Itinerary

Kilkenny Castle

Over the past 8 centuries, Kilkenny has passed hands to several families and finally sold to the public for a token £50. If you look carefully you can still see the gun holes in the building.

  • Note: drones are not allowed in the Castle grounds  

Kilkenny Castle | 3 days in Ireland

What to do in Kilkenny

Smithwicks Tour

Who knew brewery tours could be so interactive? The Smithwicks experience (to pronounce: drop the w) is a 4D, sensory experience which tells its family story through visuals, touch, smell and most importantly, taste! Although Ireland’s oldest beer is no longer made on site (moved to Dublin), the walk-through museum is still highly recommended and the reward at the end is satisfying.

  • Address: 44 Parliament Street, Kilkenny, Co Kilkenny, Ireland
  • Website: click here
  • Tours: Every day, times seasonal
  • Price: 15 Euro

Smithswick Tours | Kilkenny Ancient East

Kilkenny tourist office

  • Address: Shee Alms House, Rose Inn Street, Kilkenny, Ireland

Festivals in Kilkenny

This city can seriously give Edinburgh a run for its money when it comes to the number of festivals.

This October sees the start of the foodie festival, Savour Kilkenny, November is Kilkenomics then Subtitles European Film Festival, and December sees the start of the Christmas festivities.

Read more: Edinburgh’s Fringe – the world’s largest art fest

Places to stay in Kilkenny, Ireland

There are a number of hotels in Kilkenny but none has a story quite like the Pembroke Hotel. This 4-star city centre boutique hotel has a resident guest, a ‘Special’ racing car called the Statham-Ford Special built on the very spot the Pembroke stands now. The Statham-Ford Special was designed, created and driven by George Statham (hence the racing car title and the restaurant/bar name) and guess what? The car still runs today. How would I know? I was taken for a spin!

This stunning boutique hotel has deceivingly big rooms (disguised space) and management are happy to share the stories of the city from the Pembroke rooftop, just ask at the reception for your free history tour.

  • Address: 11 Patrick St, Gardens, Kilkenny, Ireland
  • Website: click here
  • Price: Rooms start from 109 Euros but book out fast

Premboke Hotel | Kilkenny things to do

On the outskirts of the city sits 17th-century Lyrath Estate Hotel and Spa looking pretty with a real country estate feel. This striking estate sits on 170 acres of land amongst trees, lakes, and Lady Charlotte’s historic gardens. There are two permanent guests too, the hotel dogs (you’ll soon see a theme of really attracts me to hotels – history and furry residents!)

Residents are only 5 minutes drive from the city of Kilkenny but the Lyrath Estate has not one but four restaurants onsite from the flagship restaurant, La Perla to the casual (and alfresco in summer) Tupper’s Bar, and not to forget Oriental foodies choice, Yindees and finally aperitifs and drinks in the X Bar.

  • Address: Dublin Rd, Lyrath, Kilkenny, Ireland
  • Website: click here
  • Price: Rooms start at 140 Euros, packages available

Lyrath Estate | Kilkenny Hotels

Cheaper alternatives include the Springhill Court Hotel. This newly refurbished hotel offers clean rooms, access to fitness suite and swimming pool, onsite Paddock Bar with live music and meals at Oscar’s Bistro. The Springhill Court Hotel is within walking distance to Kilkenny city centre and accepts group bookings.

  • Address: Springhill Court Conference, Leisure & Spa Hotel, Kilkenny
  • Website: click here
  • Price: Rooms start at 80 Euros

Springhill Hotel | Hotels in Kilkenny

Day 4 Kilkenny (city)-Thomastown (Kilkenny)

Highbank Orchard, Cuffsgrange

Toot toot, all aboard the Highbank Orchard tractor train. Take a ride through the 17th century converted mill gardens and farm while Rod shares his pip to sip stories of cider, syrups, and sauce. This family’s talents are never-ending. Julie and Rod distill cider, brandy, mead, and to the team’s annoyance, syrup and treacle (try cleaning the drum out after that run!) This lively pair are easy to be around and the ability of the Ancient East’s businesses to adapt like chameleon really shines through at the award-winning Highbank.

Fact: Ireland’s apples are sprayed 26 times per year on average but not at Highbank. This orchard has been chemical-free for 30 years.  

Like the sound of this biodiverse orchard? Well, you can stay overnight. Rod and Julie ‘apply (boom boom) open up their gates to customers.

  • Address: Highbank Organic Farm, Cuffesgrange, Co Kilkenny,
  • Website: click here
  • Price: From £101 (3 bed)

Highbank Apple Orchard | Ireland East road trip

Thomastown, Kilkenny

Bassett’s Restaurant is not just a restaurant; it’s an art gallery. Two trees protrude between the tables and the walls are tiled with Portuguese art. The family-run eatery serves up an extensive menu including aged rib, wood-fired pizzas (thumbs up from our Italian friends), brioche bun burgers,

  • Tip: If visiting in summer, dine alfresco
  • Address: Marsh’s street, Thomastown, Kilkenny
  • Website: click here

Bassetts | Thomastown places to eat

The Truffle Fairy

Milk, dark, white, fruity, salty, nutty and sweet. These are a few of my favourite things and luckily for us on Ireland’s Ancient East food trail they are crafted and sold by award-winning Mary at the Truffle Fairy shop. Heading to Killarney? You’ll find a second chocolate shop in town soon.

  • Address: Chapel Ln, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny
  • Website: click here

Truffle Fairy | Thomastown Ancient East Ireland

Where to stay in Thomastown

Mount Juliet

You are in good company at Mount Juliet, numerous statesmen and professional golfers have creased the sheets at this Georgian home.

The 5-star Mount Juliet hosts events, weddings, golfing trips and everyday meals in at The Hound Restaurant and fine dining at the hotel’s Michelin star Lady Helen restaurant. The Hound was once home to stables. If you look closely past the cosy country chic decor you can spot the rings with which the horses were tied to. The Estate boasts of four different locations for rooms, Manor House, Hunter’s Yard, Rose Garden Lodges and Chauffer’s Lodge. Don’t forget to look at the decor in the Manor House, the devil is in the detail and it was done by hand.

  • Address: Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland
  • Website: click here

Mount Juliet Thomastown | Ireland road trips

Mount Juliet | Ireland road trips

Alternative route

From here you are just over one hour from the Wexford on the coast. Points of interest include:

  • Duncannon, Ballinoulart, Curracloe, Ballymoney BeachesKilmore Quay bike hire
  • Courtown Adventure & Leisure Centre
  • Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience
  • Watersports including paddleboarding and kayaking
  • Wilton Castle,  Enniscorthy Castle and Johnstown Castle
  • Selskar Abbey
  • Plus much more

Day 5 Thomastown – Tipperary

Taste of Tipperary

It’s a long way to Tipperary, which isn’t actually true if you start in Dublin (2 hours) or Shannon (55 minutes). This town is a delight for nature and food lovers. This Ancient East county is affectionately known as Tipp.

The Apple Farm, Cahir

Next stop is Cahir, to the Apple Farm which has been planting since 1968. This apple orchard ran by the Traas family is not just about the apple harvest but also the cider, soda, camping and a kid’s park. For over 50 years, 60 different types of apples have fallen from these trees in Cahir.

  • Tip: Most expensive apples are the ones you don’t eat, pay more for nice products to avoid waste. Try the lemonade
  • Address: The Apple Farm, Moorstown, Cahir, Co. Tipperary
  • Website: click here

The Apple Farm | 5 days in Ireland

Restaurants in Cashel

Head to the town of Cashel to see the Rock of Cashel then dine at Mikey Ryan’s. This modern restaurant serves local produce in a home worthy decorated space. Chef, Liam Kirwan, is present in the menu, cooking up food adapted from his Gran’s menu – ‘a tribute’ he calls it. Muscles, burgers, tarts, cheeses, and also apples from Anne’s garden – Mikey Ryan’s menu is not just about the produce, it’s pretty.

  • Tip: Try the sourdough crisps. For something unusual, the Crubeen throwback to 80s Ireland.  Vegan food available
  • Address:  76 Main St, St. Dominick’s Abbey, Cashel, Co. Tipperary
  • Facebook: click here

Mickey Ryans | Irelands Ancient East Foodies

Galtee Honey Farm

Did you know that honey is not always runny? The Mac Giolla Codas beekeeping family-run Galtee Honey Farm caring for over 150 hives. Honey isn’t just used for breakfast and singer’s voices! The sweet stuff is increasingly being incorporated into cosmetics, natural remedies, and mead (alcoholic beverage). Galtee Honey Farm can be purchased around Ireland’s Ancient East.

  • Website: click here
  • Note: tours may be opening soon

Where to stay in Tipperary

The Georgian Hotel Minella in Clonmel is not only home to stylish bedrooms, Club Minella, The Restaurant and 10 acres of land but also two dogs called Bobo and Mop. Please don’t let your ego believe that patrons are oohing and aahing at your arrival, the fanfare is for Bobo who is sitting with his ‘what up’ attitude.

Sister and brother, Elizabeth and John, manage Hotel Minella and this sense of family is felt throughout the Tipperary community. The restaurant uses oil from Emerald Oils, cheese from Cashel Blue, and butcher meat by Piedmontese. Behind the bar you’ll find Merrys Irish Cream and Tipperary whiskey (whisky in Scotland). The Tipperary Whiskey distillery is owned by a young, Scottish woman (so many female business owners in the Ancient East) who followed an Irish man over to the Emerald Isles.

  • Address: Coleville Rd, Croan Lower, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, Ireland
  • Website: click here
  • Prices: From 150 Euros

Hotel Minella | Hotels in Tipperary

An Irish breakfast

The infamous Irish breakfast consists of bacon, sausage, fried tomato, and a black or white pudding. White pudding is the same as black (meat and oats) but minus the blood. Hotel Minella uses Inch House award-winning pudding, which is melt in your mouth magic. Pudding is also served as part of a Scottish breakfast. The biggest difference between the Irish and Scottish breakfast is us Scots include a flat potato scone (you would never know it’s a potato) while the Irish include some kind of fried potato. My favourite part of the Irish breakfast is the Guinness brown bread with creamy butter.

Kilashee Hotel | Irish Breakfast

7 days in Ireland itinerary

Alternative route – Waterford area

Waterford is home to the crystal and historic buildings such as

  • Bishop’s Palace
  • Curraghmore House
  • Lismore Castle

Want more? Head south to Cork

Republic of Ireland points of interest

  • The English Market
  • Lunch on St. Patrick’s Street
  • Wander Fitzgerald Park
  • City Gaol (jail/prison)
  • Blackrock Castle Observatory
  • Blarney Castle and the Blarney Stone

Food tourism Ireland

Long gone are the days of overcooked potatoes and chewy stew. To be sure Guinness bread and creamy butter are still on the menu (thankfully) but this inspirational area has heavily focused on the farm to fork, soil to oil, pip to sip philosophy and much of the food you eat during the Ancient East trail will be sourced from a garden, farm, or orchard within a tiny radiance.

Mickey Ryans in Cashel | Irelands Anciet East Food Trail

Love road trips? Check out Scotland’s Route 66 – the North Coast 500

Ireland attractions map

Ancient East Map Ireland

Final words

The Irish are forward thinking. Living off the tail of the Celtic tiger then smacked down by the recession, business owners banded together to support each other and that sense of community is evident in the east. We drank cocktails with Highbank Orchard apple juice at Statham’s Bar and ate Inch House black pudding at Minella. This year, go to Dublin but get ready to depart for Ireland Ancient East 5 day tour of Ireland.

Proud member of the TBEX Ireland team. This road trip was made possible by Fāilte Ireland, opinions are mine as always.


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Over to you. Any tips or questions?

Tell me in the comments below

Buy Trips, Not Trash: Cool Bucket List Ideas

Craig at Snowbombing in Austria | Bucket List Items

Craig and I (Gemma) have been travelling together since we met in 2012. Our first trip to Southeast Asia was a test run to see if you could spend over a month in such close proximity without killing each other. Surprise, we had a thrilling experience and no one was drowned in the Gulf of Thailand or pushed in front of a moped in Hanoi! Three years later we took an 18-month career break to travel the Americas and Europe, in taking this risk we had ample time to tick off our ever-growing cool bucket list ideas. We prefer to travel slow, at times even volunteering to help stretch our budget for longer and giving us the chance to immerse ourselves in the local community but often time and money dictates, and we take a whirlwind tour of our desired destinations – we believe it’s all about balance and hope that after reading our travel tips and quips here at Two Scots Abroad that you will believe that you can make travel happen too.

The Big Two Scots Abroad Cool Bucket List Ideas

 I’ve identified what we’ve managed to do and link to the story so you can have a nosey. 
      1. Visit Westminster – I did work experience
      2. Take a photo of Bled, Slovenia – it rained all day, unfortunately (still nice, take a look)
      3. See a diver at Mostar – no one dived while we were there, stunning though
      4. Island hopping in Scotland – not complete but have visited Skye and Islay
      5. Take a road trip – North Coast 500 in the Scottish Highlands
      6. Appear on TV – Craig was interviewed in Austin!
      7. Go to space camp – video to prove it
      8. Sunbathe on a boat while sailing –
      9. Aztecs in Mexico –
      10. Glacier in Argentina –
      11. Go to Siberia –
      12. Take a helicopter ride –
      13. See the northern lights –
      14. Go to a lagoon – this September!
      15. Live in Canada (permanently…)
      16.  
      17.  

Stac Pollaidh Ullapool | North Coast 500 Guide

Adventure Bucket List Items

  1. Hike a volcano – Cerro Negro and Maderas in Nicaragua
  2. Hike an active volcano and board down it – Volcano boarding in Nicaragua
  3. Hike to Machu Picchu – via the Lares Trek
  4. Scuba dive – Craig did his first dive in Cuba + video! (Gemma’s first was Australia)
  5. Cycle the World’s Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia – hated it, Craig loved it!
  6. Ski at Whistler in Canada – my second ski attempt
  7. Surf – Colombia, I am rubbish at it
  8. Road trip around the Faroe Islands –
  9. Skydive and get a ridiculous photo with my cheeks pushed back –
  10. The polar bear plunge in Alaska – (did it in Canada)
  11. Swing at the end of the world in Ecuador –
  12. Trek the Amazon –
  13. Ride the bobsled track in Alberta –
  14. Camp at Yellowstone National Park –
  15. Go zorbing –
  16. Do a safari –
  17. Parachute –

Volcano Boarding Leon | Backpacking in Nicaragua

Unique Bucket List Ideas

  1. Say ‘I do’ abroad – we did it! On March 22nd 2016, we eloped to Austin, Texas.
  2. Eat breakfast by a river or ocean – Organic breakfast baskets at Big Berry in Slovenia
  3. Ride in a convertible – Havana in a vintage yellow mustang
  4. Make maple syrup lollies in the snow in North America –
  5. Swim in the infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands –
  6. Watch the hot air balloons at Cappadocia (Turkey) – did it, it was magical!
  7. Ice skate on a natural rink –
  8. Dine at a high viewpoint –
  9. Visit the Ice Castle in Edmonton
  10. Do The Stans tour –
  11.  

Austin Elopement | Cool bucket list ideas

Art and Music Bucket List Items

  1. Attend South By Southwest (for free) – Done, twice, then we got married after it! Craig is going again this year
  2. Have a drink in a jazz club in New Orleans – kicked off our career break with this
  3. Ski and party and Snowbombing in Austria – our belated honeymoon – we also went to Vienna, the city of music
  4. Get a travel-related tattoo – León in Nicaragua (Gemma – Banff in the Rockies, Craig – space)
  5. Take photos at Bolivia’s Salt Flats – during daylight and sunset, magical
  6. Take the City Centre Mural Trail in Glasgow, Scotland – check out our Facebook for our mini guide
  7. See the street art in Vilnius, Lithuania –
  8. Party at Dreamland in Margate (Shoreditch by the sea!) –
  9. Also, check out Bristol’s street art –
  10. Visit the area where Broadchurch was filmed (Dorset) –
  11. Stalk the city that Arcade Fire formed in (Montreal) –
  12. Get our hipster on in Hamburg –
  13. Sit on that bike in Penang, Malaysia –
  14. Attend the Hindu festival Holi –
  15. Attend Up Helly Aa in Shetland –
  16. See DJs in Ibiza –
  17. Be a Burner –

Simple Bucket List Ideas

  1. Eat authentic Thai (Gemma, Craig hates Thai food) – for two weeks in the north and south Thailand
  2. Get up to watch a sunrise – We set the alarm in Koh Samui, Thailand
  3. See a sunset at the same spot for at least one week – Las Peñitas, Nicaragua (for three weeks)
  4. Witness a winter sunset – Sunshine Coast, BC
  5. Swim in the sea at night – Koh Samui (after a few cocktails, I lost £50)
  6. Travel solo – Gemma NYC, Boston and Chicago, Craig in Canada
  7. Sleep under the stars – Gemma in Monument Valley (no tent!)
  8. Dispel a country’s stereotype – Colombia!
  9. Cycle a coastline – Fife, my home region and Lima in Peru
  10. Attend a baseball game – not as exciting as I thought!
  11. Rollerskate – around Stanley Park in Vancouver
  12. Watch a sloth move –
  13. Hot air balloon ride – It was magical, read about Cappadocia here
  14. Sleep in a castle –
  15.  

Ultimate Bucket List Idea : Las Penitas Nicaragua

Foodies Bucket List

  1. Eat ceviche in Peru – Gemma, Craig hates fish! Minus the cilantro (coriander) though
  2. Gorge on a Tex Mex breakfast – best hangover meal in Austin
  3. Make a pizza – in Slovenia as part of the Big Berry glampsite experience
  4. Eat a sandwich in NYC – I chose baloney, yuck!
  5. Chow down on bugs –Bangkok, salty
  6. Make Pad Thai – Chiang Mai Basil Cook School
  7. Eat Pasteis de Nata in Belém, Portugal – magic in your mouth
  8. Eat empanadas – every day in South America pretty much!
  9. Stuff our faces with a North Am breakfast – Vancouver, Canada (pancakes!)
  10. Make something new once a month (I hate cooking) – ongoing
  11. Try deep fat fried Mars Bar – we did it, but not in Scotland!
  12. Visit a Scottish whisky distillery – Isle of Islay and Isle of Skye
  13. Drink a flight of beer in Portland – Portland is craft beer heaven
  14. Salsa and rum in Havana – and Vinales and Trinidad!
  15. Drink Guinness in Ireland – on the Ancient East
  16. Try Filipino Pancit Palabok and Biko –
  17. Eat Laksa in Malaysia (image below is Liverpool) –
  18. Eat bull tongue in South Africa –
  19. Make a maple syrup lolly in Ottawa –
  20. Try true Mexican food (and not just mushy nachos) –
  21. Eat an authentic curry in India –
  22. Try a cornish pasty –
  23. Go to vodka distillery –
  24. Taste pasta in Italy –
  25. Tokyo Japanese Food Liverpool

As the stamps on our passports increase, the items here multiply. Bucket lists are supposed to be fluid and adaptable, there will be no stage in our lives where we manage to do all of the exciting experiences the world has to hold but we’ll definitely give it a bash! We think our travel bucket list is realistic, what do you think?

Like it? Pin it!

Cool Bucket List Ideas | Unique Bucket List Items

What are your bucket list ideas?
Tell us in the comments below

10 Tips for Travel with Kids Because Life Shouldn’t Stop!

Travel with kids

Since Craig I (Gemma) met we’ve travelled. Seeking adventure during a 5-week Southeast Asia trip, taking a 17-month career break to travel the Americas and Europe, getting engaged in Vancouver and then eloping to Austin, Texas. Now we’re home and we’ve bought the house and got the dog the obvious next steps in life is to get knocked up. This is not a disclosure; there is no haggis in the oven but I wanted to prove to the naysayers that while travel with kids is a challenge, it certainly can happen. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to save and plan for your next trip with kids as well as where to stay, how to feed and entertain and what to do when they get sick. Tips from fellow kickass travellers who will prove to you that family travel can be stress-free (ish).

1. Saving for Family Travel

The most common thing people say to me when they hear that I travel with kids is ‘how can you afford to travel so much?’ The answer is easy; we make it a priority. I shop frugally, doing my grocery shop once per week and I only buy what I need.

We try to avoid eating out too often although we don’t cook on Friday night; that’s pizza night but this feeds all of us for about $30. Luckily, I am not a big shopper, I could not think of anything worse than wandering around the shops, which means I don’t spend money on unnecessary things.

I shop with a purpose only, something that has been instilled in me most probably from having three kids in for years! We save all of our spare change, every few months we take it to the bank and deposit it into the holiday account (note from Two Scots Abroad, we actually recommend that you have three bank accounts when saving, see why here). When the kids were younger, we had a house cleaner to help me with the workload. Since the kids have gone to school, I now do the cleaning again myself.

Once that’s done, I happily sit down and reward my travel account with the amount that we once paid the cleaner. This money often covers our spending money or pays for an attraction or experience we all want to do. We fly budget airlines so that we can upgrade our hotel choices. Our flights are short-term pain for long-term gain. These are small ways to save money that can make a big impact.

Pile of dollars

2. Planning and Packing for Family Vacations and Trips

One thing I have learned from travelling with kids is that you really need to be organised. Gone are the days of ‘winging it’ for us – we have everything planned ahead of time.

This all starts with packing for our trips. It used to be so easy; throw a few clothes and toiletries into your backpack or suitcase and, as long as you had your passport and credit card, you would worry about the rest as you went.

But now a comprehensive family packing list is essential. You don’t want to risk forgetting to pack formula or nappies or wet wipes, and God forbid you to forget your kid’s favourite cuddly toy!

Now I never pack without using a packing list on my iPhone, to make sure I don’t forget anything. We now always try to organise accommodation well in advance (I don’t advise trawling round town with two small kids in tow trying to find somewhere to stay), and we research child-friendly of hotels, emailing ahead to ensure we have extra bedding etc.

We also tend to organise airport transfers ahead of time – either through the hotel or a private company, or at least we will have researched the best way to get to our hotel. We travel a lot in Asia and taxis here often do not have seat belts so we prefer to use hotel transfers in this situation.

And finally, we will research tours and activities ahead of time. We do tend to do ‘adult trips’ with our kids – ie. adventure travel but we always ensure there is something specifically for the kids to do every day too – whether it be a hotel swimming pool, playing on the beach or finding a playground. Read more – a breakdown of what travelling Europe with children is like.

Kayaking Sunshine Coast British Columbia

3. Travel with Toddlers Destinations (and Bigger Kids)

If you are reading this guide and wondering OK I know how to save and pack but now where to travel with kids, we’re here to help. We have two pre-schoolers and we’ve taken them to some amazing places around the world, but our kids’ favourite destinations are always ones with a beach.

What kid doesn’t love a beach? We get to relax, build sandcastles, and play with them in the waves while they have the time of their lives. It makes for some fantastic family bonding. Our favourite family beach vacations so far have been to the Bahamas, Cuba, Aruba, Southern California, and Kribi Cameroon.

Honestly, any beach will do as long as there is sand and waves, which keeps kids entertained for days on end. Then you can sprinkle in some culture, sightseeing and museums nearby to mix things up a little and take a break from the sun. Everyone is happy!

If you are not beach people, then tips for family trips include visits to national parks. Holidays to national parks are educational and allow everyone to enjoy the great outdoors together.

Parents get exercise and kids burn energy running around outside. Spending time in nature is shown to relieve stress, and what parent doesn’t need that? No matter the kids’ ages, national parks are a great fit. When our son was one, we put him in a baby carrier and he gazed up at the trees as we hiked the Great Smoky Mountains.

Our daughter was 3 and she hiked like a champ and still talks about the waterfalls we discovered. We returned this year and our 2-year-old son blew us away with his stamina on long vigorous paths. Needless to say, the kids slept well after all that hiking and they learned a few things about forest conservation and wild animals. Another win-win!

Cascais I Lisbon Day Trips Beaches

4. Creating an Itinerary

One of the biggest things I have learnt since travelling with children is to tailor your itinerary to suit every family member, not just the child.

Firstly, choose destinations and activities that are going to be enjoyable for all family members. Letting older children have some say about where you are going and what you do, will get them involved and excited about your trip. Alternating between adult activities and child-orientated activities is also one way to teach patience and compromise.

A bonus of pre-booking some activities online is you can get some great savings. I’ve found that having some activities planned is also an easy way to talk to children about an upcoming trip and get them excited about what they are going to experience.

Another thing to think about when planning your trip is to allow for plenty of rest times. You might enjoy jumping from one museum to another in Italy but your children, whether toddler or teen are probably not going to have the same enthusiasm. For younger children, it is a great idea to find some local parks or green areas where they can let off a little steam. For teens, it can be as simple as stopping for a food break or some technology time.

Titanic Museum Belfast

5. Slow Travel

When travelling with kids, you take the fun but also the drama with you. This can start with the baby’s crying, the toddler’s tantrums and the teen’s puberty blues and when you are all in it together there may be no possible escape.

However, there is an excellent way to diminish the drama’s frequency and its impact on your overall well-being: slow travel. Travelling slowly is hot and happening. Not without reason, because it gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture and learn the language a bit. Moreover, in general, the slower you travel, the cheaper your holiday is.

But when (full time) travelling with kids, slow travel has a more important advantage. It gives the whole family a chance to relax, to just be and to let all the impressions sink in. Kids need that time off. In honesty, grown-ups too, but they can cope better with busy travel schedules.

So on your next travels don’t plan sightseeing trips every day. Stay several nights in one place, take (half) day trips from there and schedule a regular stay at home day where your kids can play and swim. In the end, you might see less of your destination, but you’ll get rewarded with easy-going kids, fun experiences and a relaxing vibe.

Car wing mirror, Iceland landscape

6. Sleeping Situation on the Road

Getting my pre-schooler and infant to sleep at home is a tough enough task between requests for water from my 4-year-old and the drowsy wailing that my infant graces us with each night. Add in jet lag, an unfamiliar room, and getting them to sleep on the road is nothing short of a miracle. After being THAT person whose baby screamed through the night despite my best efforts, I’ve come up with some tricks that help ease the process of sleeping on the road.

For the pre-schooler, we do our best to get her excited about the changes she’ll face while sleeping away from home. She has a special little cot that’s just hers and we just use it when we’re traveling, so it’s extra special. Since it’s the same cot she uses constantly, it smells familiar to her and she’s got the attached pillow feeling just right.

When we’re traveling with a toddler on a plane, we make a big deal out of letting her watch a TV show before she stretches out on a blow-up pillow that’s made for sleeping on planes. We even got her a small toiletries case so she has duplicates of her favourites from home.

For our infant, we practically started traveling with him from birth, so we’re getting pretty good about staving off screaming fits since that’s the best way to make everyone in the hotel hate us!

He just grew out of this soft-sided travel bassinet that folded up to be a diaper bag but before that we let him sleep in it at home for a few nights before our first big trip to get him used to it. After a transition phase, he adjusted and would fall asleep without any issues. Keeping his routine as close as possible to what it is at home also helps.

If either wakes up from jet lag, we do our best to calm them down and get them back to sleep. Sometimes that works, and sometimes we’re up at 3am in Munich eating yogurt.

Adding in a nap or two as you transition those first few days in a time zone seems to help as well. No matter what, staying calm and being flexible with your sleep schedule is the priority!

Plane wing, blue sky

7. Choosing Accommodation whilst Travelling with Kids

We have been travelling with our daughter since she was 6 months of age and at this age, we would not allow her to eat anything from outside.

The best option found was to book apartments, which had a well-equipped kitchen where we could make baby food.

Apartments have also helped us save on our food during travels, as we would mostly have our breakfast and dinner in the room. Apartments are spacious with more than one room and help kid move around and play while we have better privacy when compared to hotels rooms.

Airbnb in La Paz

Bonus tip – Try house sitting!

We try to create a “home away from home” as we travel with our son. The absolute best way to accomplish that for us, is house-sitting! My family has been travelling full time since 2014.

We’ve spent almost a year and a half of that time house sitting around the world. This has helped us save an incredible amount of money, as house sitters we get to stay free in exchange for caring for property and pets.

Access to all the comforts of home like a full kitchen to cook meals, a washer to do laundry, and cute pets to play with, make traveling with kids so much easier and affordable. Our son is eight now and he’s learned so much about caring for different kinds of animals.

Then there are the benefits of staying in a local neighbourhood versus a hotel in a tourist zone. It’s given all of us the opportunity to live like locals as we travel. We’ve had so many more awesome cultural experiences than we would have staying in an area geared toward tourists.

The best part about house sitting as we travel is we all have a stronger connection to the places we visit and more lasting memories as well. If minding someone’s house and pets sounds like something you’d like to try while you travel with your kids check out this post  20 Popular House Sitting Questions Answered for more information.

8. Food Tips for Travelling with Kids

If I had to buy a drink or something to eat for my little one every time she was thirsty or hungry I would completely blow my holiday budget on food alone. Over the years of travelling with a little one from baby, to toddler and now young child I have learned a few tips when it comes to food and kids when travelling.

Take snacks on the plane, whilst you cannot take food off the plane with you once you reach your destination (if its international) you can take food on to the plane.  Sometimes it can take a while for the flight attendants to reach you with food, so this way you can feed the kids whenever they are hungry.

This also prevents meltdowns when the kids do not like what they are served by air staff. I also take an empty drink bottle onto the plane with us.  Whilst you cannot take water onto most planes, ask the flight attendants to fill up the kids drink bottles once you board.

One of the first things we do when we reach our destination is to do stock up on snacks and bottled water at a local supermarket.

We keep our stash in our hotel room and back our day bag full of goodies before we head out each day.  Kids are always hungry at the most inconvenient time, like when there isn’t a shop in sight or you have just commenced a 5-hour bus trip or something! And don’t forget to fill up those drink bottles each day too so you are not forever purchasing bottled water.

Tree Tribe Bottle Gift

9. Travel with Kids: Sickness on the Road

Having sick kids is never fun, having sick kids when you’re travelling is even more difficult. As the mother of a tween and a teen we’ve been through all stages of childhood – and sickness at this point. Over time I’ve developed a few strategies and tricks that work well to plan ahead and deal with sickness.

First, I ALWAYS have a travel first aid kit with me. Instead of carrying full-size amounts of medicines I compact it all down into a makeup bag and bring just enough of everything to make it through a day, or overnight until I can get to the pharmacy for more. I try to purchase non-liquid versions of medications (in both adult and kid doses) such as acetaminophen, Pepto Bismol for the stomach, cold and flu medication, motion sickness pills and more.

Along with having this packed we also try to make good choices when it comes to eating and drinking. We don’t actually avoid local food; in fact we go for it as the number one option because if local people are eating it, they know better than us what is good (Two Scots Abroad can vouch for this, one of the highlights of travelling around Vietnam was sitting on the tiny chairs with the locals eating street food).

We also allow our kids to drink one soda a day. I know this sounds odd but we’ve found that the sugar helps combat upset stomachs. Finally, making sure they have enough rest has been vital to staying healthy. Not pushing too hard and knowing when to slow down – or stop completely – is sometimes the most important way to combat illness.

Two Scots Abroad interjection: Naturally we do not advise going away without travel insurance as adults but this is especially important when you are responsible for other people’s lives too. These wee guys are dependent on you, do not let them down. We are insured by True Traveller. I did have to use them while in Vancouver, I had one GP visit and two stints at a physio; True Traveller paid out quickly which was ideal as we were on a budget.

10. How to Entertain a Toddler on a Plane

Travelling with kids is both fun and tiring; you need to how to keep the kids of all ages entertained. When travelling with toddlers on long haul flights, load up a smartphone or tablet with educational games and movies that your kids will watch.

Also, ensure that the games can be played without the Internet as it is never pretty when your kid wants to play their favourite game on the plane and it needs a signal! Hide these favourite Internet games in a folder before you travel to avoid unwanted demands. Always pack headphones that your kids will wear. These are best tested out before you go so the kids are used to wearing them before your trip.

Travel Journals are excellent for school-aged kids. There are a variety of destination journals available so see if you can find one related to the destination you are traveling to.

Also, books are great for any age but they can take up room so look for exchange bookshops on your travels and swap them over.

A deck of cards keeps kids of all ages entertained. In the toddler years, games of snap are great fun and as they get older play card games or use cards to teach maths. For the toddlers of this world, a set of cars or figurines can be invaluable to travel with.

The fun they have exploring new places with their favourites toys are worth the luggage space they take up. Why not set photo challenges with the figures using a kid-friendly camera?

Games like I spy are great fun as well as educational; get your older children to spell out the words for extra praise. Finally, pack a tennis ball or inflatable ball that won’t take up much space. They provide hours of fun wherever you travel in the world.

This guide has hopefully reassured any worries about travelling with children and inspired you to not let dreams of short or long-term travel die because there is a mini-me on your back instead of a rucksack! We feel honoured to work with travellers of all ages who do not let this fear prevent them from seeing the world, I hope to be like them when I grow up too.

Did you find this useful?

What tips would you include? Pop them in the comments below.