Food and drink are one of my favourite ways to experience a new place. Cuisine plays such a big part of the local cultures you will want to immerse yourself in when abroad. Sure, nowadays you can eat food from pretty much anywhere in your nearest city but it probably will never measure up to the authentic experience. Often times it isn’t the fancy meals that are the best when travelling but the authentic. Here are 6 tips for the best food experiences abroad.
Check if you can drink the tap water
In many places it isn’t safe to drink the tap water so never assume it is! This should be one of the things you research before you fly out so you are well prepared. If tap water isn’t potable either buy bottled water or boil tap water to be used for drinking, cooking, and brushing your teeth. If you drink non-potable water you could be exposing yourself to bacteria which could make you sick and ruin your tip.
Research delicacies your destination is famed for
Another thing which is always on my list to investigate before I go off on a trip is what I should be eating and drinking when there. Are you visiting a famous wine region? Is there a local beer? Is there a signature dish that everyone associates to a country or city? Make sure you know what the must trys are for wherever you are headed to as well as a couple of eateries that are known for it to make sure you don’t miss out.
Eat at food markets / street food
Food markets are a brilliant way to snack your way through multiple local delicacies and can typically be much cheaper and more convenient than sitting down for a meal. My advice is to always try things even if you don’t think you will be a fan! It is better to have an experience once rather than to regret not having it. The smaller portions often typical of food markets means you can try multiple dishes and get a fresh and quick sweet and savoury fix.
Ask locals where they eat
Most hostels and airbnbs are happy to provide food recommendations and often have a prepped list for their guests. I usually ask locals where they eat when I am out and about too so I am not getting a recommendation to a place that hospitality staff think tourists will like or which are affiliated with my accommodation. If your friends and family have previously visited where your destinations, definitely make sure to get their favourites beforehand too!
Ask waiters for their menu recommendations
Although often times waiters simply will respond to this question with the most expensive thing on the menu or the special the chef wants to sell out of, it is always worth asking the question. With a bit of charm and rapport with the wait staff I have found I always get truly good suggestions on my trips and have never regretted a choice.
Share multiple plates with your travel buddy
Now I know some people won’t share food even with their mother but please relax your rules when abroad! I am someone who never knows what to choose on a menu because there is too much I like the look of. I have a couple of travel buddies who are always down to get multiple things to share which means we all get to experience and discover more than if we each just had our own singular plate of food.
One of the best things about living in Melbourne is the number of amazing places at a reasonable driving distance, the Grampians and the Great Ocean Road being two of those gems.
Why to go: Get out of the city Where to stay: Camp, hostels, Airbnb How long to stay: 1-2 nights at the Grampians and 1 night along the Great Ocean Road Transport: Hire a car, go slow on the winding Ocean Road Don’t miss: The amazing views from the mountains and coastline Go with: A group of friends Food: Make sure to always keep your driver happy and fed Vibe: A breath of fresh non-urban air
Why this road trip?
I studied abroad in Melbourne from 2015-2016 and one of the best things about living there is the number of amazing places at a reasonable driving distance, the Grampians and the Great Ocean Road being two of those gems. I did two Great Ocean Road trips during my year abroad, one with my friends, and one when my cousin visited in March. You can’t go to Melbourne and not see the Great Ocean Road, so when I had visitors there was no getting out of a repeat. However, there are so many stops along the route that you are guaranteed to see something you haven’t seen before. I decided to tack on the Grampians when my cousin came to maximise what she got to see whilst also diversifying the route for myself. I loved the mixture of sea and mountains. We went to the Grampians first as we didn’t want to have to return to the city exhausted from hiking, which meant we were able to make our way back down to Melbourne at our own pace alongside the sea. The drive to the Grampians from Melbourne is around 3.5 hours and once you get to the ocean from the Grampians the drive back along the coast is approximately 5 hours.
What to do at the Grampians?
There are plenty of trails to choose from at the Grampians with varying levels of difficulty. We got to the campsite in the evening and woke up early in preparation to spend all day hiking around the mountains before heading to the Great Ocean Road. Below are three of the best spots not to miss in my opinion.
From the Reek Lookout car park, the walk to The Balconies jaw like structure is approximately 2km. It can get quite full of tourists and it isn’t a particularly big spot so it is probably one to visit first!
The Pinnacle is where I took the feature photo for this post, and it is definitely not a sight you want to miss. We took the easiest route from the Sundial Car Park which is around a 2km / 45 min walk and then spent a good bit of time there taking in the views.
I recommend getting up close to the MacKenzie Falls via the MacKenzie Falls Walk (2km return). There are some narrow steps to get to the bottom of the falls which of course you will need to climb back up, so bank some time to take a breather and chill by the water before you head back up.
Where to visit on the Great Ocean Road?
This is by no means an exhaustive list. I did a Great Ocean Road trip more than once during my time in Melbourne and I liked seeing different things every time to shake up the experience. If I went again I would choose some new spots to continue exploring the area but the below are definitely my three favourites so far.
London Arch is my favourite stop because you get the awe inspiring coastal formations with less tourists and quicker beach access. These stops are all beautiful from the lookouts, there is no denying that, but there is something special about walking on the beach alongside these structures. The experience gives you one of those ‘puts your life into perspective’ moments.
The image of these coastline formations are synonymous with any Great Ocean Road trip and there is a reason they are so famous, but what I love the most is the beaches these formations are on. The lookout gets packed quickly with tourists so I recommend committing the time to walk on the beaches alongside it to take in these beasts.
Split Point Lighthouse at Aireys Inlet
The coastline around Split Point Lighthouse is stunning. Ultimately all of the coast is beautiful but I liked that Split Point was less packed with tourist than the famed 12 Apostles. The greenery around the lighthouse was also a nice contrast from the pale tan of the rest of the stretch of beaches along the road.
How long should and where to stay at each stop?
My cousin and I are quite possibly the fanciest people you have ever met and may or may not have slept in our rental car throughout the whole three nights on the road. Now, if you aren’t on a student budget I fully recommend camping or finding some cool hostels and/or Airbnbs on the way. Our trip was only 3 days and 4 nights given the short time my cousin had in the country but I think it was enough. I would recommend sleeping the night at the Grampians before a full day of hiking. Given you will be tired post hike, stay the night in the Grampians before heading off toward the Great Ocean Road to slowly make your way back Melbourne. Break up your drive back down and the stops along the way by staying the night at a coastal town midway.
Make the trip moments
This being the first time I had driven since passing my driving test at 17 and having to deal with hook turns in Melbourne CBD and the winding roads along the coast
Spending approximately 30 minutes figuring out how to turn on the rental car and proceeding to graze it before leaving the parking lot (thank the travel gods I convinced my cousin we needed full cover)
Using KFC’s Wi-Fi to do an online test for university whilst eating others customers’ leftovers and a tupperware with tuna salad (one of my finer moments in this life)
Our Michelin star dinners of raw carrots and bacon and cheese dip
Getting back to the car to witness a parking ticket being slapped on our hood post a 5 minute stop, then backing into a pole when leaving late to return the rental car
Having our petrol gauge drop from half full to empty on the motorway on our way back to return the car with nearly 0% phone battery (we asked for a car with a USB port for charging, we did not get it)
Bringing a jar or gherkins along as if it was our favourite child, yes, there is a photo album of family pictures
Coronavirus has flipped the travel industry on it’s head. Airlines are struggling and nationwide lockdowns essentially ceased all but non-essential travel for a good while there. Are you thinking about going on a trip and are concerned about the restrictions and safety of this new environment? Here are my top tips as someone who has done a couple of trips during the summer of 2020.
Check country restrictions before booking
Gone are the days when all you were checking before booking flights was whether you needed a visa. Entry requirements for countries are now super convoluted and changing daily so it can be hard to keep up. My favourite resource is the UK government travel advice site which shows up to date info on whether countries are open to tourists or not as well as any pre-requisites to entry. Check this before you book anything and ensure you are aware of the status of the country you are intending to visit as well as your own. Is your home country beginning to spike, meaning it may be blacklisted from entry? Assess the risk and book only if you are happy to take the chance of any quarantines upon return or entry being imposed.
Decide whether you can commit to a 2 week self-quarantine upon return
A lot of countries, particularly in Europe, opened their borders to encourage the tourism their economies rely on over summer. Rather than flat out blocking flights from different countries, the commonplace approach is now to impose a 2 week quarantine on people arriving from certain locations. If you are visiting a country with a worse COVID-19 status than your own, it is likely you will only be asked to self-isolate when you get back rather than when you arrive. Is it feasible for you to stay at home for 2 weeks following your trip with your job and responsibilities? Make sure it is before you hit that reserve button. If you need to quarantine 2 weeks at your destination, if the intention is travel, don’t do it. Two weeks in a hotel room is miserable.
Be aware that refunds may take time
Lots of airlines are cancelling flights these days given they can’t fill all the flights they would normally have scheduled. If this happens to you you are entitled to your money back, however, given all the travel disruption during this pandemic airlines are being slow to process these refunds. A lot of airlines are also pushing to give their customers vouchers for future flights rather than cash. I advise patience with the travel industry at this time and some empathy for the pressure it is under. Only choose to travel if you are in a position where you can comfortably wait for any refunds to be returned to you in months rather than days.
Check your travel insurance and get cancellation cover
If you want peace of mind, ensure your travel insurance offers some COVID cover. Not all companies offer support for cancellations or getting ill when abroad so make sure you are informed and have coverage you are comfortable with. I would also advise paying that little extra to secure cancellation cover for your flights during these times. Even if there aren’t formal restrictions on travel, you may decide against your trip and will only get your refund with this kind of protection.
Check country requirements 72 hours before flying
Countries are now implementing self assessment forms for people looking to enter. These forms typically ask you to confirm that you have not had any COVID symptoms in the last 48 hours and that you haven’t been to any countries they deem high risk in the last 14 days. Often upon completing these forms you are sent a QR code which airline staff request to see before allowing you to board. Check the UK travel site to ensure you have the required forms completed WELL AHEAD OF TIME. Some countries request you complete their forms 48h before departing. Don’t rely on your airline to inform you about these forms as it is on the passenger to be prepared for their flight. Also be mindful of any forms you may need to fill out on your return to your home country, for example the UK requires forms to be filled to confirm where you will be self-isolating when returning from countries that demand it.
Bring a medical mask
If you have a cute, quirky, and/or washable mask by all means bring it with you, however, ensure you also have at least one medical grade mask in your carry on. In all the airports I have visited masks are mandatory at all times as well as on your actual flight. When returning from Sardinia recently I was also stopped and told I could proceed without a medical mask, and thank goodness I had one with me!
Go to your gate as soon as it opens & board early
If you have done your due diligence, you should have everything you need to board your flight without issues. My advice is to not leave anything to chance. I missed a flight because I didn’t have a form filled out and sat waiting for the boarding line to recede before approaching. The airline shockingly didn’t announce that any forms needed to be presented and when I finally joined the queue towards the end of boarding, the staff were unhelpful and I had the gate close on me 1 minute before I had the form filled out. If you are missing anything and you find out towards the start of boarding, you have time to figure it out.
Bring your own food on the flight
I tend to do this anyway because flight food and airport offerings can be expensive and mediocre at best. In this environment there are limited food options at airports and if you bring your own food you reduce your interaction with others and thus the risk of contracting the virus.
Give yourself extra time for security checks
It isn’t guaranteed that the security check process will take longer than normal. Actually a lot of airports have more security lanes open to encourage social distancing. However, the only constant throughout this pandemic is unpredictability. It is better to be safe than sorry, so give yourself some extra time to get through the airport, especially at smaller airports.
Be smart about your itinerary
If current pandemic restrictions allow you to travel, do so responsibly and respectfully. The effects of the pandemic are here to stay and my approach is to work with this new normal. I don’t want to stop doing something I love if I can do it safely for myself and those around me. Yes, these are weird times and most destinations won’t be what they usually are, however, this does not make them not worth visiting. Take advantage of the fact that top tourist destinations will be less busy and focus on more nature heavy and outdoors itineraries when thinking about travelling. Bank on the fact that many places will be closed, this is not the time to do a city escape packed with museums.
Seeing wildlife is an amazing motivator for travel. Unfortunately in many parts of the world animals are abused by our fellow humans, and in particular exploited for the benefit of the travel industry. Here are some things to consider to ensure your interactions with animals stay ethical.
Put yourself in their shoes
Animals deserve respect. My favourite way to ensure I check my behaviour when encountering wildlife abroad is by putting myself in their shoes. Would I like some random person to start petting me, invading my personal space, destroying my home? No. Treat animals the way you would want to be treated in the same situation.
Don’t touch or ride animals
It is called wildlife for a reason folks. Animals are supposed to be wild. Wildlife is not supposed to be in a cage, lined up for tourist selfies, or forced to hug us. As soft as a koala may be, if you are hugging it you are ethically blurring lines, even in a sanctuary. Sure a sanctuary may keep animals in decent conditions and fund conservation projects but it still doesn’t mean that we should be partaking in anything more than observation.
Watching an animal in its natural undisturbed habitat? What an honour! This is the best way to appreciate a creature, not how soft its fur is! Watch for long enough and you can get a sense of an animal’s character and mannerisms, a much more valuable interaction than a threatening approach which scares it off.
Now, I am not trying to argue that you should never interact with any animals. However, only ever engage if an animal approaches and touches you and you deem it safe to respond. Much like you shouldn’t be touching another human without consent, let animals make the first move to engage with you to ensure it is something they want and not something that will distress them.
Use your voice in defence
If you are going on safari or want to visit a sanctuary, do your best to choose responsible and ethical providers. Take things a step further by speaking up if you see any cruelty against animals whilst travelling, particularly if the cruelty is inflicted for the sake of tourism. Opt not to ride the elephant. Leave reviews exposing the treatment of animals where you have had bad experiences and alert the local animal services if they exist.
In my past there have definitely been situations where my easy going nature has dissuaded me from making a fuss in less than desirable travel situations where I probably should have. One of my friends is super talented at voicing her complaints when things aren’t up to standard and she has been given plenty of free stuff as a result. Travelling with her has opened my eyes and I now see her as my boss-guru what taught me to own that as a customer I have rights and am entitled to what I paid for and nothing less. Here are some top things to keep in mind when your travels don’t go as planned and you want to say something about it.
Do not feel guilty
You have entered into a transaction, you are paying for a product or service, you are not paying to suffer inconvenience so that you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. You have the right to receive the quality you pay for. Sure, complaining can be awkward at first, but remind yourself you are not being unreasonable, you are merely seeking a provider to make good on what was agreed. Never feel guilty for demanding what you have paid for in a mutually agreed deal.
Kill them with kindness. Ok not kindness, but a reasonable, firm, and disappointed demeanour rather than rudeness. It boils down to the fact that you paid for something that you either didn’t get or wasn’t up to scratch so you are entitled to be disappointed, have a right to complain, and should expect the provider to try and make amends. If you are calm, providers more often than not see reason rather than immediately going on the defence if they feel attacked.
I think it is important to complain or feedback if something isn’t right, however, I don’t recommend doing it just to seek free stuff or money back. You should have no expectations. Whilst with certain well known travel names you will likely get some form of compensation, in many cases things won’t play out the way you would like. Don’t let this ruin your trip! Stay positive! It is a mishap which in my experience can make for a funny story. Only complain because it feels right to you, to get it off your chest, and never do it seeking a certain response or remorse which you may not get.
Something wrong with your hotel room? Make a fuss immediately. If you do, the managers can’t say that you never raised an issue if they still haven’t taken action by the end or your stay. If you complain straight away you may be looking at a room upgrade rather than an inconvenient stay and a discount. Raise issues from the get go, and you throw in the added benefit of freeing yourself from the frustration which could affect your trip.
Demand to speak to the manager
Employees will always take you seriously when you request to speak to management. Rather than this needing to sound threatening, the ask shows that you are serious and expect a resolution and to be respectfully heard. A good manager should put you as the client first even if a poor employee hasn’t.
Play the review card
Management not playing ball? If you really feel hard done by and want to ensure they do right by you, mention the fact that you are going to have to give them poor reviews for not assisting you with your complaints. The travel industry is so competitive that reviews literally translate to profit or loss. You are completely in your right to write an honest review and the intention reminds providers that you may be one person but your voice can have significant impact.
Certain deals can disappear one day to the next and when you go to claim what you paid for providers can deny that it existed. It is always a good idea to have a printed confirmation of bookings to avoid any confusion if what you paid for is not available. If complaining after the fact for a refund but have messages that you complained during your travels, this is powerful evidence you should always include too.
If the sound of hiring a car, and roaming around a place with an interesting past, divine food, and some stunning seaside cliff views is up your street, Malta is for you!
Currency: EUR Why to go: Rich history, good food, & beautiful scenery Where to stay: Airbnbs with parking How long to stay: 1-2 nights at each place Transport: Hire a car, drive on the left Don’t miss: Area around St. Peters Pool and Ras il-Fniek Go with: A group of friends Food: Famed for rabbit Vibe: Easy going, slow pace
Why go to Malta
My cousins and I selected Malta for our first international trip as a group of three slightly disastrous humans. I won’t lie, it was chosen off the ‘Everywhere’ list of destinations on Skyscanner as it met our budget, none of us had ever been, and we were seeking some sun. However, having now experienced the islands in the archipelago, I am a firm fan. From one side of Malta to the other is less than an hour by car, making it perfect for a shorter trip that still feels very much complete. If the sound of hiring a car, and roaming around a place with an interesting past, divine food, and some stunning seaside cliff views is up your street, Malta is for you!
Where to visit in Malta
The Maltese archipelago consists of the islands of Malta (the largest), Gozo, and Comino (the smallest). Given time constraints, we opted to only visit Malta and Gozo stopping at various places on our way round with the car. Below is a selection of our top spots we found on offer during our Maltese road trip.
Sliema works as a perfect base for day visits to Valletta. It is cheaper to stay here overnight than Valletta itself and you get an awesome view of the city which you would not get from inside the walls. There is not too much to call out here in terms of sight seeing but we had the best food of the trip at a restaurant called Ta’ Kris which we could tell was top class due to all the local clientele. It’s a reasonably small place with hard worked staff, so don’t expect speed, but if you get yourself a booking you are really in for a treat. Rabbit is a Maltese specialty and the rabbit dishes here were super tasty!
Valletta was gorgeous to walk around. The city is a unique mix, housing beautiful churches, quirky coloured apartments, and a spattering of some ‘hipster’ bars. It is the ultimate cool city with a laidback vibe packed with a serious historical punch. You want to give yourself time to get lost amongst the streets here but make sure to visit some of the museums to ensure you leave with an appreciation of everything the country has seen in its past. I recommend The Malta Experience for a short movie which explains the history and the War Memorial at the ocean end of the city for some awesome views of the forts surrounding Valletta. Finish your day here watching the sunset from the upper Barrakka Gardens when you are too tired to walk anymore.
Gozo has plenty to offer, so although we only spent one day and night here, I would recommend tacking on a day or two. We started our visit by taking in the megalithic Ġgantija temples to get an understanding of how ancient the land is.
Following our cultural visit of the day we headed to Marsalforn which considering it was March was quite empty. However, during high season a lot of tourists stay around here, particularly those looking to dive, as the town hosts a few diving shops. It was nice to walk around the dock area and I can definitely see the outdoor restaurant spaces packed in summer with tourists enjoying an Aperol Spritz or two.
Next we headed to the Azure Window and Blue Hole site. The Azure Window has actually collapsed now so you can’t see the arc structure which used to stand at this location. Either way this is a breathtaking area at the edge of the island of Gozo with cliffs a plenty to fulfil your sit, stare, and contemplate life needs.
I recommend visiting Victoria at night. It is the main city on the island and boasts the stunning Ċittadella. At night the walls are lit up similarly to Valletta and it makes for a killer view. Walking around the place without other tourists made me feel like I was creeping around a castle in Dorne in Game of Thrones in the dead of night and I was all for it.
Mdina is another of the incredible walled cities Malta has to offer. We started our visit here during the day getting lost around the city streets. At night, once again the city lit up which gave it that important castle feel. The streets are peppered with classy bars and restaurants, so although it is the old capital, you get the sense that people really socialise there rather than just treating it as a tourist destination.
Marsaxlokk is known as the best place to see the famous Maltese luzzu fishing boats. The boats are typically painted bright blue yellow and red with a pair of eyes on the bow. This small fishing village did not disappoint on the boat front and we had a stellar seafood lunch to boot.
My favourite part of the whole trip was our hike from Marsaxlokk to the St. Peters Pool area. The walk is super nice, giving you a bird’s eye view of the village you leave behind from a path bordered by old beige walls, cacti, and yellow flowers. We actually took a wrong turn and happened to find the most beautiful place of the whole trip. We never made it to St. Peter’s Pool but found an area of multiple natural pools which were bordered by the Mediterranean, almost like natural infinity pools. There was no one around seeing as most tourist traffic heads to St. Peter’s, so it became our own little paradise. What made it was the view of the Ras il-Fniek cliffs to the left whilst we bathed!
How long to stay in Malta
Malta is ideal for short trips because it is so small. Crossing the main island of Malta on it’s longest side takes less than 1 hour by road, so if you hire a car you have your independence and can check out as much of the country as you want. We stayed 6 days including our departure and arrival days and we squeezed so much in. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. However, we did not visit Comino. If you have the luxury of time and want to see absolutely everything, give yourself a full 7-10 days and you will leave feeling like locals.
Transport in Malta
Malta does have a public bus system which many opt for to get from place A to B. Many also just visit Malta as a beach destination and spend most of their time in one spot. Our intention was to see as much of the island as we reasonably could and a road trip gave us the freedom to do that. If you have the time, I am sure the bus is cheaper, however, we didn’t want to find ourselves having to wait 1 hour after missing a bus (which would be typical of us). Also, be aware that in Malta you drive on the left hand side of the road!
Where to stay in Malta
Parking isn’t the easiest in Malta if you are not a confident driver. It is a small place so you can imagine it is a lot of parallel parking situations on small streets. Given the best way to see Malta is by hiring a car, I would recommend trying to secure Airbnbs with some parking space to make your life easier. That said, we predominantly used Booking.com to secure hotels and hostels at reasonable prices. In all honesty, the important thing here is proximity to where you are visiting as once you have arrived, the best thing to do is leave the car close to your accommodation and walk around given the size of the place.
Make the trip moments
My first trip with some of my favourite humans, being the disastrous triplet cousins we are
Screaming on our way to Sliema from the airport after getting volunteered to drive us as the one who is ‘used to’ driving on the left
The flashy lights around the churches all over Malta
The food at Ta’ Kris (R.I.P. the leftover pasta we forgot in the fridge)
Taking photos of us sleeping everywhere to curate a beautiful album for our parents
Falling asleep during The Malta Experience movie – I swear it was good but two thirds of us are pale and the sun hit us hard
So many cats, cats everywhere, cat sanctuaries in the middle of more than one Maltese town
Initiating our cousin into our sleep in the car habits in Gozo
Watching Black Panther in Victoria one evening just because (favourite Marvel film)
Doing everything last minute: renting a car, finding accommodation, you name it we did it
Loving Cisk beer and not loving Kinnie so much (acquired taste)
Fly into Malta in the morning and pick up your rental car (hopefully you are more organised than us and booked ahead)
Argue over who has to drive first in this foreign land, and when that is settled, head off to Sliema to drop off your stuff (once again, hopefully you are not booking accommodation in the car on the way to the town like us)
Make a reservation for dinner at Ta’ Kris and go walk around Sliema and the waterfront, getting a glimpse of nearby Valletta all lit up in the dark
Make yourself comfortable (seriously, service was slow) at Ta’ Kris for the best food of the whole holiday – be sure to try the rabbit dishes
Day 2: Valletta
Wake up early and shake off your food hangover because it is time to drive to Valletta (see if you can find parking in one of the towns in between Sliema and Valletta and walk the rest of the way as you won’t need the car)
Spend the day roaming the quirky streets of the walled city, being sure to make time for some museums (I recommend The Malta Experience for a short film summarising the history of the island) and the War Memorial from which you get a great view of Fort Ricasoli
Watch sunset at the upper Barrakka Gardens accompanied by an ice cream
Day 3: Gozo
Stop at Għadira Bay for breakfast by the sea before heading to the ferry station near Cirkewwa to purchase a return ticket to Gozo
Kill the time until the ferry arrives by taking in the views at Sunset Spot
Enjoy the 30 min crossing to Mġarr and upon arrival make your way straight to the Ġgantija temples for your daily dose of Maltese history
Drive to Marsalforn for lunch and a nosy around the waterfront
Continue on to the Azure Window (collapsed but still beaut) and the Blue Hole and spend some time jumping around the rocks and letting the stellar cliff views sink in
When night falls, head to Victoria to spend the night, but only after wandering about the lit up Ċittadella without the bustle of the day tourists
Day 4: Mdina & Dingli Cliffs
It is finally time for a beach day, up to you where, but I would recommend Ramla which is one of the most popular on Gozo (be sure to pick up ice cold Cisk beer and some crisps)
Get the ferry back to the main island and drive to the Dingli Cliffs for a walk and sunset
After sunset, make your way to Mdina, park up and get lost around the awesome old fortified capital at night
Day 5: Marsaxlokk & St. Peter’s Pool
Drive over to Marsaxlokk and spend some time at the waterfront checking out the luzzus (traditional Maltese fishing boats which are brightly coloured with eyes on the bow)
Leave the car at Marsaxlokk, pack a picnic, and hike over to St. Peter’s Pool and Ras il-Fniek to take in the phenomenal cliffside views
Get a little lost and head just northeast of St. Peter’s Pool to find your own private little paddling pools with infinity style views of the ocean
Day 6: St Julian’s
Wake up and enjoy a farewell breakfast in St Julian’s followed by a walk along the waterfront
Head off to the airport with plenty of time to return the car
Bust out the cards, and enjoy the last moments before you fly off reminiscing about the best moments of the trip whilst absolutely dominating at any and every game
You don’t want to be caught short when away and are desperately in need of a plaster or paracetamol. Sure, depending on your destination some typical first aid items may be easy or hard to get, but if you can, it is always best to come prepared. Why suffer on your trip without these when you can have them ready to go!
Aloe vera or after sun
I have certainly had a painful, bright red, ‘I am clearly not from here’ burn before. Ok, ok, I have had several. The thought of aloe vera on your toasty skin should be enough for you to pack this and I should not have to convince you more. Also, if you don’t burn easily, this is still a must to hydrate your skin after harsh sun.
Let’s all be kind to and take care of our bodies and lather up when we are spending full days roaming around outside. Remember, just because it is not sunny, it does not mean you are not getting hit with that UV.
A box of waterproof plasters
Scratches, cuts, and/or blisters. You are pretty much guaranteed to get some (at least if you are as clumsy as me) and you can avoid any unnecessary discomfort if you have some plasters handy. Be sure to pack a box with various sizes for choice!
If you need to disinfect a cut on the go before plastering it up, these are lifesavers. The wipes are individually packaged so you don’t need to bulk up your luggage with the box.
Mosquito repellent (with DEET)
A MUST. Please do yourself a favour and avoid as many annoying and itchy bites as you can. I know repellent can smell super strong but it is better to be cautious with mozzies particularly in malaria risk zones.
If you are prone to headaches, hangovers, and/or you know your monthly pal is coming, make sure you have some with you. Ditch the box to reduce the bulk in your first aid kit.
Lip balm with SPF
Cracked and sore lips are never fun. If you are somewhere hot you are going to be dehydrated with dry lips, if you are in a cold spot, your lips will suffer equally. Pack the balm, and make sure it has SPF protection for that extra self love.
Tweezers always come in handy in case you need to remove a splinter or tick. Secondary use being to keep those eyebrows looking FINE.
If you have never got the shits travelling have you even travelled? I certainly have, during unbelievably long bus journeys when all I wanted to do was avoid the public toilet. Once again, do yourself a solid (pun was not intended but shall leave as funny) and pack this!
You can feel pretty low on energy after a bout of diarrhoea. Hydration tablets can support you in recovering more quickly and have been my best friend in destinations such as Peru where many days were physically demanding hikes.
Travelling is one way which people try and ‘escape’ their normal. For some it is super easy to be present and mindful of their surroundings when abroad, but for other workaholics it may be a challenge. Here are 5 tips for quieting your mind and zoning into the here and now.
Turn off all notifications
This is the first thing you should do in your destination if you are addicted to your phone (like most of us). A notification is a cry for attention, a message to react rather than relax! No! You are in an awesome destination in a completely unique moment that you will never relive. This is no exaggeration. Sure, you can return to a place you have been before, but it will a different time, you will be older, your circumstances will have changed, you may not be with the same people, and so on. This moment in time is yours and irreplaceable, do not let this be intruded upon by work or friend drama you can address later. I’m not telling you to forgo tech (you will need Google Maps) but limit yourself to an hour in the evening where you answer your messages and check your emails.
Think of 3 things you like in your destination that you do not have at home
Giving yourself a thought exercise of this nature will allow you to focus your mind and attention on where you are. Sometimes I find myself wandering around new places and missing the details. Challenging yourself to reflect on the place you are in can help you tune in to all the characteristics that make it so special.
Be still and people watch
People watching is a brilliant way to learn about the customs and culture of a place. A destination is not just about the natural beauty or tourist hot spots, but about the inhabitants! A good hour of watching passers by also means you have to be still for an hour which will encourage your mind to be also. Whether it be sipping a coffee at a cafe or sat on a bench, how often do we actually permit ourselves to be calm and not constantly in motion either physically or mentally? When you are travelling you hopefully have left behind the time pressures and responsibilities of your everyday life, so spoil your soul and sit still! In this day and age it is a luxury and one of the things I look forward to the most when travelling.
Wander without a particular destination
This works particularly well in cities or towns where you are staying. If it is safe to do so, meander around the streets without necessarily having a destination. If you are not distracted by getting somewhere you need to go you can discover hidden gems and most importantly be more aware of what is around you rather than following that Maps route.
Move that body
The benefits of exercise for mental health and focus are still very much the same wherever you are in the world. Hopefully, your destination may offer opportunities to be active in ways that are a little bit different from home, but do not forget to move whether that be swimming, windsurfing, hiking, or yoga. The more it diverges from your normal activities the better!
It is sure to happen at some point during your travels, you will be hit by a miserable rainy day (fingers crossed it will be an exception rather than the rule). Particularly if your destination is about the weather and the outdoors, this can really suck, I feel for you, and sometimes it is hard to perk yourself up or know what to do. Here are 10 ideas that I pull from when stuck in this shituation.
Indoor local/artisan markets
If you are in a city or even a small town, there are likely to be markets you can spend some time nosing around! Think farmers markets for treats, vintage markets for some stellar finds, or art markets to find that unique piece that just needs to be in your living room. Markets are often indoors and if not sometimes have some sort of protection for bad weather so they are good spots to leave for a day you know the weather might turn on you.
Are you somewhere that is famed for its food and drink scene? Indulge! Hopefully you are with company and you can share some bites and get some drinks around town. It might be a bit more spenny than your typical day but you can visit the best spots in the area, find some gems, and you will definitely sleep well after.
Museums, galleries, & libraries
Enrich yourself with some local culture. I am not just talking about taking in the exhibitions themselves, but also witnessing the architectural beauty of these buildings which can be sights to behold. Maybe you don’t usually prioritise museums and galleries, so now is your chance, and they are particularly great if you didn’t do too much reading up on the history of your destinations beforehand. Once again, good to plan to visit these kind of sites if you know there is going to be a rainy day during your stay.
I absolutely love tasting all the different cuisines around the world, and the flavours my palate has experienced abroad has definitely influenced my cooking at home. A cooking class can be a way to learn how to spice your food, balance sweet and sour, or even just nail the cooking of a fresh piece of fish. If cooking is your passion, there is nothing better than some hands on experience and local culinary wisdom.
Hit a local hotspot
I am talking about finding a popular game pub (board games, ping pong, darts, anything), a karaoke bar, a bowling alley, a pool/billiards hall, or an arcade. Some of my best memories on my trips are hanging, chatting, and laughing with my friends at establishments like these. This is a chance to see how people from different places spend their leisure time and what niche haunts are on offer, whilst potentially giving you a chance to try and beat the locals at a game of pool.
Cards, a book, and a coffee shop
Live like a local, in my opinion it is the best way to travel. Find a quirky coffee shop, or if you are alone, google a rad hostel with some awesome communal areas to find some company. I always bring a pack of playing cards with me when I am on a trip and love learning new games from my friends on a commute or a down day. Spend the day drinking good coffee, living that cafe scene life, and getting sucked into your book du jour or hell even a good Netflix binge.
Get out if you’ve got the gear
If you are in Peru or some other destination where you knew you would be out and about with the possibility of rain, hopefully you have come prepared. If the rain is not awful and you have got a cagoule, get out there! The weather can clear up mid-hike and hey, sometimes, it is part of the fun, or why the memory stands out later on. One of my favourite stories from a trip to Toronto was getting absolutely drenched whilst helping my two friends carry a mattress about 20 blocks (long story and definitely not dressed appropriately). If it is just rain, get out there!
If we are talking a full on storm, windy as fuck, no chance you are going out kind of day, use the time to journal about your trip for future reference, plan the rest of your trip, and declutter your photos, because hunny you know you need the extra storage space!
Google what is on offer where you are staying. It could be kite making, glass blowing, jewellery making, paper lantern making, or a pottery class, the possibilities really are endless. If you want something a bit more mobile, try a dance class!
Go to a local gig
See if you can find a bar that has live music on! This is a great way to discover the local music scene. Another tip would be to check out whether they have Sofar Sounds gigs where you are. I have been to a couple of them before and highly recommend them. The organisation puts on intimate gigs at ‘secret’ spots where you can bring your own drinks. In London, I have had the privilege of seeing some really awesome local flats through this company which made perfect makeshift stages for the artists.