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For some people, packing a suitcase to take with you on your travels can be extremely stressful. What if you haven’t packed enough clothes? How are you going to get everything to fit into one bag? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. One common method to pack for a big trip away is to write down a list of everything you may need and then tick the items off as you put them into your bag. However, there are other things you mustn’t forget when packing your suitcase/backpack. There also some little tricks to make your items more secure and to make packing less stressful. Always remember a padlock One thing that you should always remember to do when packing your suitcase for any trip is to padlock the zips together. This is to help prevent anyone wanting to steal your luggage. Sure, any thief that wanted to get into…

Essex is a county east of London and is most notorious for its hit T.V. show Towie where the shows boys and girls act like bumbling idiots and hook up with each other. It is the standard junk reality T.V. that everyone pretends to hate but simultaneously cannot get enough of. However, Essex has a lot more to offer than just fake tan and Vajazzles (if you do not know what a Vajazzle is, I suggest you do not google it). With a gorgeous coastline and vast countryside, Essex makes the perfect place for a road trip. The Essex road trip itinerary below contains all the things to do in Essex including all of the hidden gems of Essex!

For the sake of this road trip around Essex, it is starting in the area of Chigwell, but depending on your location you can drive around Essex in the opposite direction. Alternatively, you can use this ultimate Essex road trip guide as a starting point to planning your own road trip.

Chigwell

In the district of Epping Forest sits Chigwell. Just outside of London, Chigwell is the perfect location to live if you want to be just outside the city but further enough away that there are plenty of places to walk your dog. However Chigwell is not the most affordable area to live. The area is notorious for homing the rich including the billionaire business man Sir Alan Sugar.

For the first stop on your road trip across Essex, you should take a stroll around Epping Forest and then perhaps pay a visit to the Hainault Forest Country Park. There is a boating lake and a small farm inside that is appropriate for the whole family. Or why not browse in envy at all the mansions in the area and dream about how the other half live?

Brentwood

On the next stop on your Essex road trip you should consider visiting the famous Brentwood. Home to the Towie cast and the town in which most of the show is filmed, when visiting Brentwood you can spot some of the places from the show. From Amy Childs Salon to the Sugar Hut, most of Brentwood’s high street will look familiar if you’ve ever seen the show. If you’re spending the night in Brentwood, why not pop in the Sugar Hut for a drink or two. Who knows who you will bump in to!

Southend-on-Sea

When travelling around Essex you cannot skip past Southend-on-Sea. It is a very traditional British seaside town and it has everything you need for the perfect day at the beach (if the weather is all good, that is). It has an extremely long pier that you can catch a train to get from one end to the other and along the seafront is a big theme park. So if you’re after a scenic walk, or you much prefer some adrenaline activity, Southend-on-Sea has something for everyone! Southend-on-Sea is also a good place to visit for the weekend as they will have numerous caravan parks at an affordable rate! There is so many things to do in Southend-on-Sea and so you shouldn’t miss this town out of your road trip.

Colchester Zoo

Colchester Zoo is rated the second best zoo in the United Kingdom and therefore can’t be missed from the ultimate road trip around Essex. The zoo has over 250 animal species to discover and it is praised for its number of interactive activities. Did you know that you can feed both the elephants and giraffes and you don’t have to pay a penny on top of your ticket price? A day is never enough time to spend at the zoo however, if you only have one day in Colchester the zoo will definitely keep you entertained.

If you have a bigger budget for your road trip around Essex then Colchester Zoo offers many different unique experiences such as being a zoo keeper for the day. All dependent on the animal of your choice, this will include making food for the animals, feeding them and you might even get the chance to cuddle them!

Colchester Castle

Colchester is the oldest recorded town in the country. It is a town you cannot miss on your road trip around Essex because it was the countries first ever city. It is full with a rich history dating all the way back to the Roman era. Soon after the Roman settlement of Britain in AD 43, Colchester (known back then as Camulodunum) became the capitol city of England. You can understand just why Colchester was chosen when you walk around the town. The town centre is on top of a big hill which would have given the Roman’s an advantage in battle.

The Temple of Claudius used to sit where the Colchester Castle sits today. Today it forms the base of the Norman Castle that you can take a look around and learn a lot about the history of not only Colchester but the history of England. So if you’re fascinated by history then Colchester Castle is a must see on your road trip across Essex!

Walton-on-the-Naze beach

If you’re looking for a quieter beach on your road trip then Walton-on-the-Naze is only a 30 minute drive from Colchester. It is the perfect place for beautiful coastal walks and it even has a pier that will keep you entertained. With a little imagination there are plenty of things to do in Walton-on-the-Naze, however I have put together a list of things to do in Walton-on-the-Naze for some inspiration.

Hedingham Castle

Again, if you are interested in history, or you just like walking around pretty places then Hedingham Castle cannot be missed from your tour of Essex. Hedingham castle is a 900 year old Norman Keep and it is a part of an estate of gorgeous woodland. It is a common estate in Essex to get married in as on a sunny spring day, the flowers surrounding the area blossom and the lake glistens.

Other than weddings, medieval themed pantomimes are common shows that you can watch at Hedingham castle. You can also view bird shows on this estate and this is something worth looking into when planning your Essex road trip.

Dedham Boathouse

Dedham is on the boarder of Essex and Suffolk and is a beautiful village with gorgeous countryside. Along the river you can hire rowing boats and row along the river. Alternatively you can bring your own paddle-boards and/or Kayaks and spend the day exploring the riverbanks. When the weather is nice, this makes for a beautiful day out. The last time I rented a rowing boat, a herd of cows came right down to the river for a drink and they came very close to us. It is a lovely opportunity to see some cows in their natural environment.

Audley end house and garden

The last stop on this road trip across Essex is to a large 17th century country house outside of Saffron Walden. It is named as one of the finest Jacobean houses in the whole of England and is absolutely stunning. Just like Hedingham castle, there are always events on at this estate. Not only can you admire the interiors of this mansion but you can also walk around the beautiful well maintained gardens of this estate. Therefore, if you are interested in history or you just like walking around beautiful places then Audley End House and Gardens is not to be missed when road tripping around Essex.

If you are planning a holiday in Devon this year, you will no doubt be interested in the local cuisine, of which there is plenty. Devon has a unique culture and that is reflected in the delicious dishes they create, and with that in mind, here are a few must-tries when holidaying in the beautiful county of Devon. Pies and Pastries – Thanks to high quality of dairy products available in Devon, you can enjoy a wide range of dessert type pastries in any of the tea shops, and with clotted cream and home-made strawberry jam, there is a wide range of delicious pastry-based dishes on the menu. The Cornish and Devon Pasty – This delicious pie that is filled with meat and vegetables is known the world over, and for good reason. Anywhere in either Devon or Cornwall, you can sample many types of Cornish Pasty, especially when you…

Thousands of visitors flock to Chicago each year from all around the world. The Windy City definitely has its fair share of tourist attractions worthy of visiting. From the ever popular Cloudgate- or as Chicagoans affectionately refer to as The Bean- to Millennium Park to the Museum of Science and Industry, there is enough to keep every traveler’s interest peaked for days. But if you’re looking for something more off the beaten path, you may want to consider these hidden gems. The Hidden Gems of Chicago has something to offer to everyone!

Athenian Room

The Lincoln Park neighbourhood is full of awesome restaurants for any kind of palette. We discovered the Athenian Room while living in Lincoln Park during D’s law school days. Back then, we didn’t have the budget to eat out often, but the Athenian Room was our go to restaurant when we wanted to celebrate- birthdays, anniversaries, you name it. He almost always got the steak while I favoured the gyros. And we always ordered the baklava for dessert. 

Address: 807 W Webster Ave, Chicago

Lincoln Park

Most everyone visiting Chicago has heard of the famous Millennium Park, located near the Loop. But another great park that is just as picturesque and not nearly as well known is Lincoln Park, on the north side of the city. Lincoln Park is hands down our favourite spot in the city. Located just a short walk from North Avenue Beach, it’s the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll or quiet spot to sit and people watch. 

Chicago Botanic Garden

The Hidden Gems of Chicago

Okay, so the Chicago Botanic Garden isn’t actually in the city. I hadn’t even heard of this gorgeous oasis until we moved to the suburbs from Chicago. Located in Glencoe, on the north shore, it takes a bit of planning in order to get there. But if you are able, it is definitely worth a visit. There is no admission fee to visit the gardens but you will have to pay for parking. 

Address: 1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe 

La Lagartija Taqueria

Of all of the Mexican restaurants in Chicago, you have probably never heard of La Lagartija Taqueria. Located on the corner of Ashland Ave on the west side of the city, this hole-in-the- wall joint is not in the safest area of the city. I personally think that could be the reason it isn’t frequented as much as it should be. To be honest, the only reason we discovered La Lagartija Taqueria is because I worked in that area when we lived downtown. Though I’m so glad to be done working in that neighbourhood, I’m sad that I don’t have a reason to make the journey for their amazing tacos. 

Address: 132 S Ashland Ave, Chicago 

Glencoe Beach

The Hidden Gems of Chicago

Before I moved to Chicago, I didn’t realise that the city had so many sandy beaches. It makes sense since the Windy City sits right on the shores of Lake Michigan. But I didn’t realise that they were so sandy. Chicago residents flock to the shores at beaches such as North Avenue Beach and Montrose Beach, to name a few. And why not? However, the free city beaches tend 

to get crowded on hot summer days. Approximately 25 miles north of the city, is another of Chicago’s hidden gems- Glencoe Beach. Though you have to pay a small entrance fee per person, for it’s worth it. The beach is less crowded and includes more amenities than the downtown beaches. These include pavilions to rent, and a playground complete with slides and swings, which my kids love. 

Lake Katherine

Our most recent find in the greater Chicago area is definitely what I would consider a hidden gem. Lake Katherine is a bit of a drive- about an hour outside of the Loop in Palos Heights, but if you’re a nature enthusiast, it’s worth making the trip. The mile-long stretch around the man made lake is beautiful and serene and full of nature- the perfect break from the hectic city scene. 

Though Chicago boasts some pretty amazing tourist attractions that are worth visiting, make sure to take some time to discover some of the lesser known places, too. You’ll be glad you did! After living here for eight years, we have hardly even scratched the surface of hidden gems in the Windy City. But we’re looking forward to finding more.

While most people may visit Silicon Valley for business, there are many places to be explored outside of the high-tech bubble. Here are a few Silicon Valley hidden gems worth visiting when you make your way south of Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram headquarters towards a collection of cities called the South Bay!

Start off your day at Living Room Coffee Craft where a portion of your purchase will be donated to local organisations. You will find a spacious interior filled with tables of all sizes to relax and enjoy your morning. Have a coffee or tea with their fresh pastries! The peach brown butter cake has an amazing caramelised exterior and the fresh peach slice compliments the cake. Their gluten-free “everything cheese waffle” is a fantastic version of the Brazilian pão de queijo made of tapioca or rice flour giving it a distinct chewy texture. Mix that in with sesame, poppy seeds, dried garlic, and onions for a unique bite! The Living Room Coffee Craft is definitely a Hidden Gem of Silicon Valley!

If coffee wasn’t enough to get your blood pumping or you have the desire to be in nature, we have that too! Head to Villa Montalvo and hike among California Redwoods without having to drive an hour away through windy mountain roads. As a non-hiker, I really appreciate the easy incline and shaded trail here. To make things more interesting, there is actually an arts residency program attached to the grounds of Villa Montalvo and hosts over a hundred artists a year. (Probably the reason people don’t think you can hike here.) Check out the statues located inside the picturesque garden while you cool down from your hike. Both entrance and parking is free in Lots 2, 3, or 4.

Ready for lunch? Pop into one of my favourite Silicon Valley hidden gems at family-owned Antipasto’s Deli for salad, a plate of pasta, or a completely customisable sandwich. I recommend their chicken ravioli with half tomato basil cream (TBC) and half alfredo sauce. The in-house ravioli is one of the best I’ve ever had. (There’s an all-cheese version, too!) They are so soft and comforting, just like fluffy pillows. The meat for their sandwiches is sliced upon ordering and pairs incredibly well with their fresh baked bread.

While street art isn’t exactly hidden, it will be easy to miss if you don’t know where to go. San Jose is a really big city! The Arts District lies mainly on South First Street in Downtown San Jose. Check out The 100 Block Mural Project to see the work of 100 local artists who created their own mini mural on a 3×3 square. The resulting 900-square foot space is filled with different art styles, techniques, and colours is truly a sight to behold. If you want to see more, wander over to the next few blocks and see what else you can find!

Since you’re in the downtown area, don’t leave without trying another Silicon Valley hidden gem with some of the best tacos in all of San Jose! Stroll down or catch a ride on an electric scooter towards 10th Street to Cali Spartan Mexican Kitchen. I highly recommend their guacamole and chips (with a chili lime seasoning) and any of their tacos. They have a full menu so you’re bound to find something delicious! Note: It is cash only. There is an ATM on the premises.

If you plan to visit the area, which of these places would you check out? If you’re a native to the South Bay Area, have you been to any of the places I recommended? What Silicon Valley hidden gems would you add to the list?

For too long now, travelling the world has always been associated with wealth. It is a dream that can only come true if you are born rich and have unlimited funds to splash on hotels, cruises and flights. However, for just as long the poorer people have also been making their way around the globe. But how does someone with a limited amount of money travel the world? The secret is to save as much money as possible before your departure and then budget your finances during your trip. You may not be able to stay in luxurious villas and party on yachts, but you will still be able to see the world and experience things you wouldn’t if you stay at home. This post will provide you with top tips on how to save money to travel the world. Visualise the kind of life you want The first step…

Heading off on a new adventure means you need to plan what you are going to take along with you. Are you going on a summer holiday and will need to pack swimwear? Or are you going on a camping trip where you will need to pack a tent full of items? Regardless, every trip is different and therefore you will need to take different things with you. However there are some products that you should take travelling with you as they will make your life easier. Read on to find out which 10 products you need to take travelling with you in 2019.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Packing Cubes

If you like to stay super organised when you are travelling then one of the best things for you to purchase is a set of packing cubes. Packing cubes are pretty self-explanatory. They are cubes that you can separate your clothes, toiletries and other items into. These are extremely helpful at knowing exactly where everything is in your suitcase, they also make your suitcase look super neat and organised. Also, if you prefer to travel with a backpack, it means you don’t have to rummage around in your sack for too long. You simply pull the right packing cube out and from there it’s easy.

A Camera

A camera is not a necessary product to take travelling with you but in my experience it enhances your experience. Think about a trip you went on a couple of years ago and ask yourself how much you can remember about that trip. As the years go on you remember less and less. However if you had some nice photographs to look back on then you can almost relive your memories long after you returned from your trip.

One of the best cameras to take with you on holidays where you will be in water or holidays full of adventurous activities is the GoPro. This little camera is very small, meaning you can fit it anywhere. Also, it can now shoot 4k which is an added bonus.

However one of the disadvantages of a GoPro is that it only shoots wide angled shots. If you’re more interested in an affordable camera that takes high quality photos and can zoom then the Canon G7x is a good camera to opt for.

Power bank

One item that I cannot go without is a power bank. When I’m travelling around in a new city, I need a fully charged phone and camera. There’s nothing worse than when your camera dies and you really want to carry on taking photographs or you’re lost and you need a charged phone to use google maps. Me and my partner also tend to opt for digital tickets for trains, attractions and boarding passes and so we really need to make sure our phones are fully charged.

Universal Adaptor

Whenever you travel to a new country you need to make sure that you have a power adaptor that fits the countries plug sockets. Most countries power sockets vary and so if you want to use your chargers you will need to a take an adaptor. I used to always purchase separate adaptors for every country I visited until I discovered that you can  purchase a universal adaptor that has multiple options to fit multiple socket types. This is particularly ideal if you are going on a long trip and will be visiting multiple different countries. It saves you having to carry around multiple adaptors.

Money Belt/ Bum Bag

One of my favourite items that I always wear when I am travelling anywhere is my bum bag (or ‘fanny pack‘). It is perfect for when you’re going through airports or train stations because all the important stuff is so easily accessible. Passport, money, bank cards are all good things to keep in your bum bag. This also makes those important items more secure because they are right in front of you. A thief will have a harder time stealing those items when they’re in your bum bag than if they were with your other luggage.

A male alternative, or something that may be easier for men to wear, is a money belt. This is because often men wear shorts that can easily conceal it. This little device is a belt with a secret pocket that you can wear on your waist under your clothing. Not only is this a perfect place to hide money, but you can also purchase waterproof money belts that you can wear in the water.

A Dry Bag

A popular item to travel with, especially if you’re heading to hot countries where you will be around the water a lot of the time, is a dry bag. These are bags that are waterproof and can keep your stuff dry when you are: at the beach, on a boat trip and/or round a swimming pool. These can come in many different sizes dependent on what you are planning to put in them.

Extension lead

Another extremely useful travel hack that was recently brought to my attention is to take an extension lead on holiday with you. This means that you only have to take/purchase one adaptor as opposed to however many plug sockets you would need. This is particularly useful if you are traveling with a family and everyone needs a plug socket to charge their phone. Perhaps if you are travelling solo then this may not be something you would need to take travelling with you.

A Good Book

This is just a personal preference but I can not go anywhere without a good book to keep me entertained on long journeys. I usually like to read something travel related or about characters that are going on adventures. One of the last books I read was by one of my favourite YouTubers Psychotraveller and it was about her journey on a working holiday visa in Australia. I have given this book a review and you can read this here if you would like.

Waterproof cover for your backpack

This item isn’t essential but it is a good purchase if you are going to be walking around with a backpack on your back. If it rains whist you are outside with your backpack then without a waterproof cover your backpack and its contents would get wet. This is the last thing you would want as it may make all your clothes smell damp. One simple solution is to purchase a waterproof cover for your back.

Travel Pillow

Last but not least, one product that you should always travel with is a travel pillow. They come in many variations and it can prevent you getting a sore and tender neck on long journeys. A lot of travel pillows can be rolled into small packaging which you can easily tie onto your backpack. This way you do not need to use up your luggage space.

Travelling is a lot more accessible than it was fifty years ago and we only have the internet to thank for that. More people are being educated on working holiday visas by social influencers and searching online means you are more likely to find cheap flights. However, becoming educated on travel is not the only reason that backpacking is increasingly popular. Having a decent laptop is resulting on people using an online presence to work their way around the world. With a little bit of creativity, there are many ways you can utilise the internet to your advantage. Here is just 5 businesses that allow you to travel the world.  YouTube Uploading travel vlogs onto YouTube is one way a lot of backpackers have made enough money to continue their adventures around the globe. After establishing a following on YouTube and other social networking sites such as Instagram, travel vloggers…

This weeks post in the Hidden Gems Series takes us to Kuala Lumpar in Malaysia. What a dream it would be to explore the capitol of a country so rich in culture. If you are lucky enough to be visiting soon, then you may find yourself wanting to explore some places that aren’t so full of tourist. The Hidden Gems of Kuala Lumpar are not too hard to find, if you know where you are looking! Firstly, I would like to thank Jess ling for putting together this post and bringing to light all the amazing Hidden Gems there are in Kuala Lumpar. I’d strongly suggest checking out her blog for more posts on Kuala Lumpar! Taman Eco Rimba Kuala Lumpur If you are looking for a beautiful, natural jungle in the city then head over to Taman Eco Rimba Kuala Lumpur! On Jess’ first visit she was surprised by…

Have you ever lost money from a non-refundable flight or hotel reservation because something suddenly came up in your life prohibiting you from traveling? You are not alone. Thousands of people every day lose money this way because they are not aware that their reservations may be transferred and sold to another traveller through a safe and trustworthy platform.

Thankfully, SpareFare.net has come up with a solution for this frustrating problem. Its marketplace connects people who have already bought a flight, hotel room, or holiday package but are unable to use them, with buyers searching for travel options at bargain prices. This allows sellers to recover a portion of their money, while the new buyers receive a discount of up to 50-60% from the current price of travel bookings. It is a total win-win for everyone and a much-needed solution in the travel industry!

Saving your non-refundable holiday

Can I sell my flight to someone else? Yes, you can!

Many people are unaware that their reservations can be transferred to other travellers. However, flights, for example, can be transferred to someone else if your airline allows you to change the name associated with the flight ticket. The airline usually charges a fee for name changes which tends to vary from airline to airline. Most low-cost airlines offer name changes as part of their official policy statements and the name change is completed through the airline’s online website very quickly.

SpareFare - refund my holiday

Can I sell my hotel reservation to someone else? Absolutely!

Hotel reservations are even easier to transfer. If the reservation is made through an online booking engine, the name change is done through the traveller’s online account. If the booking is made directly through the hotel, all you need to do is call the hotel’s reception desk and they will do it for you. Hotels typically do not charge name change fees.

How are secondary travel marketplaces different from selling your flight on platforms like Ebay, for example?

SpareFare has built-in fraud protection for both the buyers and the sellers in its system. It acts as an intermediary which dramatically reduces the risk typically associated with transferring flights, hotel rooms and holidays to strangers. Sellers gain protection because they do not have to change the name on the reservations and pay the name change fees until SpareFare has received the money from the buyer. This, then, guarantees the sellers that they will be refunded for the name change fees on a reservation, ensuring they won’t lose even more money than before.

SpareFare

Buyers gain protection, as well, because SpareFare doesn’t release the money to the seller until the date of the flight or the check-in date of the hotel to ensure the reservation is legitimate.  This prevents sellers from selling the same reservation to multiple buyers. This varies greatly from selling or purchasing travel reservations on platforms like Ebay, where trust is a significant barrier between buyers and sellers. And with so many technological hacks and travel scams in our world today, users are rightful to be cautious about general selling sites like Ebay. Travel reservations are expensive, and if something goes wrong, travellers can suffer considerable losses. SpareFare also verifies the authenticity of all offers when they are listed on the platform. This assures buyers that they will not be scammed and the listings are available for transfer.