Five ways to make the most of your holiday


By | Category: Travel Advice & Contacts, Travel tips & opinions

Heading off for half term? Check out these five fabulous tips and tricks for getting the most out of your holiday

Turn off technology
A recent study by American Express revealed that around half of us are checking social media up to 15 times a day – seriously – while we’re away. Just About Travel says: it’s time to put down your smartphone. We’re not for one minute suggesting you throw it off a cliff – make no mistake, we’d be lost without ours – but don’t be afraid to turn it off (your phone’s battery will thank you too) and appreciate what is around you. There’s nothing more depressing than standing in front of one of the world’s natural wonders and watching fellow travellers and tourists tapping away on enormous iPhones. Soak up and savour your surroundings – you can post that picture on Facebook or Instagram at a later date.

Learn (a little) of the lingo
Try and learning a little of the local language before you board that plane. It’s not always necessary – particularly in places like the UAE and Oman where English is the lingua franca  but will help integrate you into the community. In China, mastering at least some Mandarin is a must if you want to be able to eat and explore with ease. The same goes for Spanish in South America. Don’t worry about pronunciation if – like the JAT team – you’re not a natural linguist. Too many of us panic about pronunciation and fear that we will look like a fool. But, in our experience, most locals will be impressed that you’re making the effort to learn their language – always remember that you are a guest in someone else’s country – and forgive you for any pronunciation mishaps.

Live like a local
Lots of Brits are still reluctant to eat and drink foreign food but – in our minds at least – it’s criminal to visit Thailand and pass up the opportunity to try Pad Thai in favour of Fish and chips. Or to visit Mexico and not indulge in Huevos rancheros (a classic, not to mention, delicious Mexican breakfast of tortillas, rice, beans, and eggs smothered in a spicy red sauce) upon rising. Sure you might not like the local delicacies (the Filipino favourite balut – an 18-day-old fertilised duck egg – certainly made us squirm) but how do you know if you don’t give them a chance? So go ahead ahead: eat and drink like a local. Most likely you’ll end up with some lasting memories – in addition to discovering a few new favourite food dishes.


Travel lightly
“Travel like Ghandi, with simple clothes, open eyes and an uncluttered mind.” So said Rick Steves – an American author and television personality, passionate about European travel. Rick is right.
Lay everything you’re thinking of packing out on your bed. Done that? Good. Now half it. A suitcase or backpack bulging with books, clothes and gadgets isn’t going to ‘make’ your trip. Quite the opposite: more stuff, simply equals more stress. Who wants to be lugging a heavy bag about for a week, constantly worried about what might happen to your iPad et al? And if you  do find that you’re missing material possessions, panic not: you can probably pick them up for a snip of what you’d pay back home. Which leads us to our final point…

 

Make a difference
Travel responsibly. By this we mean supporting small, locally owned and run hotels, shops and tour guides thereby putting money into local pockets as opposed to impersonal, international chains. On the subject of dosh, don’t get carried away trying to get the best deal. Haggling in markets is a lot of fun but keep in mind that the £5 you’re saving could feed the vendor’s entire family for a day. Make sure you know what’s happening in the country/city you’re visiting. So, for example, if there’s a water shortage, keep showers to a minimum and reuse water bottles wherever possible. Lastly don’t be a critic: keep in mind that things won’t always go to plan. If you’re determined to bad mouth a place, why bother even boarding that plane in the first place?

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