Category Archives: Travel Tips

Budget Travel Tips for Europe

Travelling around Europe is an unforgettable experience, whether you’re exploring the beautiful narrow streets of Lisbon, tucking into a delicious pizza in Naples or enjoying a romantic weekend in Paris. This diversity of culture and tradition is unique to Europe, and there are a lot of cheap flights to be found nowadays. However, if you are not travel savvy, then there are risks that you could put a real dent in your wallet – with the average family holiday to Europe costing around £2,000. Fortunately, there are cost-effective tips which will allow you to have the best experience possible whilst keeping some money in the bank!

1. Finding a Great Flight

It is beneficial to book your flights in advance in order to locate the best airline deals; there are many flight packages which can be found for discounted prices. Do some comparative online research on websites such as You can save a lot of money by booking flights as a group and knowing which seasons allow you to book the cheapest flights.

2. Make Use of Public Transport

If you’re travelling on a budget, it’s safe to assume you won’t be taking a cab between your destinations. It is a great idea to learn about the public transportation system in each city you visit, as many cities offer short-term travel passes for public transportation. An alternative option would be to rent a bicycle and explore the city; for example, this would be perfect if you were travelling to Amsterdam, whereby cycling is a fundamental part of their culture. By taking the time to do this, it would be possible to save an astronomical amount of money.

3. Choosing Your Hotel

Selecting the right hotel is always challenging – does it have a pool? Is it located near a beach, a bar or an airport? Is it affordable? To solve these pressing questions, it is advisable to visit a hotel comparison website such as Trivago. These companies offer reviews on almost every reputable hotel in Europe, which will allow you to make an informed decision on the cheapest and most tailored hotel to suit your holiday. It is just as important to get the best deals on airport hotels in the UK. Recently, it has become increasingly common for tourists to stop-off at airport hotels in order to the reduce the stress of travelling. It is highly advisable that, for example, you identify the best deals on gatwick airport hotels via a quality provider, before travelling to Europe.

spend less on your travel

4. Prevent Waste Whilst Enjoying the Taste

By now, if you have followed the travelling tips suggested, then you will have saved a lot of money on your airfare, local travel and accommodation. However, unfortunately, you have checked your balance back home and realised you have reached your credit card limit. What is to blame? Restaurants bills. Most tourist do not know where or what to eat. If you don’t pay attention to the cost of your meals, you will waste the majority of your budget. Fear not, by using restaurant guides to research the prices in advance, or by visiting local markets that offer fresh, affordable food, you can prevent wasting money whilst still enjoying the taste of European culture.

5. City Passes

Most of the beautiful and vibrant European cities offer passes which allow you to access various key attractions. If you are seeking a highly cultural trip then these all-in-one passes are the perfect companion, allowing you to get the most out of your holiday for the lowest prices. For example, if you were taking your family to visit Rome, instead of separately paying for access to the Colosseum, the Vatican or the Pantheon; it would make cost-effective sense to purchase a city pass.

6. Family Packages

Who said that travelling with your children was expensive? Most attractions offer large discounts for children and teenagers, so purchase a family package deal for your airfare and accommodation. Give them life-long memories without breaking your budget!

7. Travel on Weekdays

Trains, flights and attraction tickets tend to be more expensive during weekends, so plan your trip to fall on a weekday to avoid the crowds and extra-fees. Travelling between Monday-Friday will save you a lot of hassle.

how to travel in budget

8. Cost-effective Airport Parking

If your journey to the airport requires you to drive, then it is highly recommendable to choose a form of cost-effective airport parking. This does not take much time at all, for example, you can purchase Stansted parking from Holiday Extras from around £8.25 per day in a matter of minutes; which could save you enough money to afford one more night out at your favourite tapas bar in Barcelona. Overall, it makes sense to save money and ensure the security of your vehicle for the duration of your holiday.

9. Travel Insurance

It is vital to have travel insurance, but often you can be faced with overpriced offerings which attempt to make money through fear factor. Essentially, when travelling around Europe, your best friend is the European Health Insurance Card – this will cover most medical costs. However, if you suffer from Diabetes or another kind of serious medical condition, contact the relevant organisation, such as to receive a specific low-cost offering to cover the extras the standard EHIC card does not.

Bon Voyage!

Hopefully you have followed these travelling tips and are fully-prepared to get the most out of your holiday to Europe, whilst cutting-out all of the unnecessary costs. We would love to hear about your holiday experiences and your own money-saving tips which can be shared around the travelling community – have a fantastic time!

To Call BS or Not?

So, we can guess that Shakespeare knew at least a thing or two about bullshit, and he phrases his put down here wonderfully well – I wish I could shut someone down as gracefully as that. Normally I just say “bullshit”, and then get vigorously told off by someone who knows a lot more about the subject than me. I’m working on caution, but I can’t say I’ve mastered it just yet.

Point is; eventually when you’re travelling around the place somebody’s going to tell you some bullshit. They might not know if it is or isn’t true. You certainly won’t. But, just like truth can be stranger than fiction; fiction can be much more entertaining than truth. Here are a couple of stories that I was told by the locals that, like all good bullshit, are mixed with the truth. It’s hard to tell where one begins and the other ends, but however you look at it, they’re great stories and it’s fun to believe, sometimes. As Shakespeare said:

When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her though I know she lies

So, my first wonderful example of the very best kind of bullshit was told to me by an Italian man during a long wait at Venice’s train station. He complimented his bad English beautifully with enormous, Italian hand gestures and helped both of us pass the time in what would have otherwise been a long and boring wait.

He told me that during the time of the Crusades, the cunning Doge (Duke) of Venice offered transport to crusading armies across the Mediterranean, to do his part in the Crusades. However, (and here’s where it gets iffy) the Doge took the crusaders to Constantinople, which was at war with Venice, and told the Crusaders they were in the Holy Land. The Crusaders, gullible fools, attacked the city and captured it within the month. Then, the clever Venetians took them back to Europe, patting them on the back, muttering some variant of “good job lads, we’ll take it from here”.

Thus, the land of Constantinople came under the control of the Republic of Venice. At least, that’s what I heard. I’ve refused to do any research on the subject: much as I’d like to know more, I want to enjoy the story as it is. See what you can find out, if you’re curious.

My second fun-fiction occurs a few hundred years later, and quite close by in global terms. This was told to me by a very kind, enormously drunk Bulgarian man who called himself “The Duke”, strangely enough. Whilst I waited for a train change in Sofia to take me to Prague from Istanbul, he told me his variant on the Legend of King Dracula, or, as my Bulgarian man called him, Vlad the Impaler. Rumour goes that Vlad was incredibly cruel to his Ottoman enemies in the south, and used to execute them by jamming a stake into their, erm, rectum and then leaving the stakes there till they died. Nasty stuff, and generally recognised as true by historians.

My Bulgarian had a different variant. Apparently, old King Vlad was much nicer than history teaches us, and was actually just the subject and inventor of a Blackadder-style cunning plan. Vlad encouraged rumours of his nasty treatment of his enemies in order to scare them away from ever actually attacking, therefore saving many lives on what would have otherwise been a long and difficult war. It’s obviously difficult to tell which one’s right now – if it was a good enough lie, it would look just like the truth.

The only advice I can give you for these stories is to visit and see if you can find out for yourself. Or collect your own “bullshit” story – there’s plenty to go around. Remember Shakespeare – believe her though you know she lies – it’s much more fun.

Top Beaches to Visit this Upcoming October

It’s not too late to be thinking about a spontaneous October half term holiday with the kids and with plenty of beach holidays with Neilson available, you can start dreaming about a lazy week in the sun, topping up your tan and watching your children have a fabulous time on the sand.

With free kids clubs in many resorts to keep them entertained for hours and an abundance of activities to keep you all happy, October half term breaks may be selling fast but there’s still chance you and your brood could be enjoying one too.

So, where to go? At this time of year, you can’t always guarantee great weather in the popular Mediterranean hotspots closer to home, but heading a little further, to Greece or Turkey, will mean a better guarantee of sunshine, dry weather and an unforgettable time.


Situated in Turkey, this resort occupies its own stretch of private beach within a protected natural park – you can’t get better than that, can you! Worlds apart from its neighbour, Marmaris, you can enjoy tranquillity, relaxation and as many activities as you wish, including dinghy sailing, paddleboarding, windsurfing and mountain biking.

summer holiday best place


The beachclub in Teos offers a touch of traditional Turkey, with authentic cuisine, picturesque sights and pretty walks. With a wide range of activities available, you and the family will be able to stay as active as you like – if you can tear yourself away from the fantastic pool, that is!

best place to visit in summer


Characterised by white wash buildings that are typical of Greek retreats, Sivota is located on the west coast of mainland Greece and is home to a huge number of pristine beaches and clear waters. The beach club is an idyllic retreat and perfect for as an activity-filled break. From waterskiing and wakeboarding to mountain biking and walks aplenty, there’s something for everyone here.

Don’t just sit around for October half term – treat your family to a pre-Christmas holiday in the sun!

Last Minute Summer Tan locations

My European summer is coming to an end, and in a final act of angry defiance and without any more preamble, here’s five of the best places to visit to still get a tan in Europe. Godspeed.

Croatia. Lovely, cheap, and still very sunny, Croatia’s my number one choice to still get some rays. The beaches are still lovely and the season’s coming to an end; so everything will be even cheaper than it already is and the beaches will be nowhere near as busy as they were a month ago. Make sure to visit the islands just off the coast in one of the many day trips that are available from Rijeka – a lovely city with a hilly backdrop from the coast.
Spain. Specifically, the south coast or the plains in the country. By the by, the rain in Spain hardly ever falls on the plain – it falls on the mountains in the north, just like it does everywhere else in the world, as explained wonderfully tersely in this Wikipedia article. You can detect the righteous scientific anger in whoever wrote that. Isn’t it beautiful? Much like Spain itself (I know, I know, that was cheap). Make sure to eat as much food as you possibly can – nobody does holiday food like the Spaniards. Nobody mentioned getting themselves a beach body, did they?
Malta. This lovely little island has a vast amount to offer. If you feel like it, buy a tent and visit one of the campsites near the beach – it’ll be cheaper than a hotel and sometimes it’s great fun, particularly in the weather they’re still lucky enough to have. Make sure to take a wine tour, too. Maltese wine is in enormous demand throughout the world and if you can afford it, it might be sensible to invest in a bottle which will increase in value over the years.
Crete. This lovely island has a tonne of history – it’s been conquered and re-conquered by more civilisations than you could shake a stick at. You can see why they all bothered – Crete is beautiful, and is bound to still be as sunny and lovely now as it was two months ago. The different civilisations’ effect on the architecture and culture of the island is evident, and easy to see. Make sure to visit some of the many archaeological sites here, particularly the ancient city of Knossos – site of the famous labyrinth of the Minotaur. If you haven’t heard of it (for shame), read about it here.
Southern Italy. Go to the boot heel. The area round here is unlike the rest of Italy – it’s still a beautiful place, but travelling here is more in tune with the wildlife and nature of the country, as opposed to the city-hopping that most Italian adventures are (quite rightly) defined by. Having said that, Lecce has to be up there as one of the best Italian towns in the country. Make sure to visit. Here, the pizzas are the best in the world – they were invented near here, after all; and the sun shines for at least another month. Giving you, dear reader, enough time to have that last bit of holiday I’m sure you deserve.

If you don’t like the sound of any of this, just jump in a sun bed instead. Sure, you’ll be orange, and won’t really have the same experience as you would as the places I’ve listed; but it will be a damn sight cheaper. Your call, but I think we can guess what one I’d suggest.

Traveling Phone Advice

Phones are a constant, annoying, frustrating uphill battle when travelling – I find myself wasting days in internet cafes sending emails and social-media-ing when I really don’t need to be, just because my phone isn’t doing what I want it to do. And even if it did do what I wanted it to do, I’d be charged through the nose for it.

I remember I was once in Istanbul when my Blackberry, unsurprisingly in hindsight, broke completely. At the time I was in negotiations with my bank attempting to explain to them that when I said I was going travelling I did, indeed, mean travelling to more than one country. Fortunately, there’s a road in Istanbul for everything, and I picked up a lovely, hardy Nokia for about $40 (phones haven’t had time to depreciate much there) which worked pretty well for the rest of the trip. That didn’t stop me being charged a painful amount every time I made a phone call or sent a text, and God help you if you accidentally click the “internet” icon (that’s what was particularly so good about the Nokia).

The best deal I’ve managed to find so far as far as a contract goes is Vodafone’s “Eurotraveller” deal – $6 a day plus normal network fees and you can call and text from the rest of Europe as much as you like. It’s not ideal though – $6 a day still makes me wince a little, and I haven’t dared to use the internet. As far as the rest of the world goes, I just try to turn my phone off and keep it off as much as possible – I just assumed that was the way it would have to go every time I travelled.

But I forgot! We live in the modern world, with technology and smartphones and apps and clever, helpful stuff round every corner. This week’s clever, helpful stuff that I’ve stumbled upon is a couple of clever apps from a company called Rebtel. The Rebtel app gives users a fighting chance against international phones bills by working through a web or SMS-based app. There’s a few different ways to do it, but as far as texting goes, you want to have a look at their international texting page.

Texting’s not the only thing they’re good for either – their calling system works much the same way and again saves me a hell of a lot of money when I’m travelling. Rebtel’s call app is available for the Android (I have an Android, so I know that one) and, after a quick Google… yes! it’s available for the iPhone, iPad, Windows phone and various other platforms too. You can download a free calling app here.

I wouldn’t like to estimate how much money Rebtel’s saved me because it’ll sound sensationalist – I am a travel writer, after all – but it will save anyone who’s hoping to go travelling and stay in contact with people back home (or perhaps more importantly, people they’re travelling with). Rebtel comes very, very highly recommended. Get it.

Why You Need to Own a Caravan

1. Freedom to go (and sleep!) wherever you want

As an avid hiker and camper who can’t stand gigantic motor homes occupying scarce camping spots at national parks, I’m often envious of fellow adventurers who own a caravan. If you think about, you almost always have to drive to wherever you’re going to hike and camp – so why not pull a small caravan and have an excellent little base to work out of? When you need a solid nights rest, respite from the heat or cold, or a sheltered place to cook your food, a caravan is blessing. You can leave it parked with your car while you go out on back country hikes and come back to it a few days later to rest and recharge. Just be sure to get it insured! Just like your car, it can get broken into or stolen. I’ve had my car broken into last summer when I left it parked off a remote country road in Utah while I was back country hiking and camping for a few days. Thank god for insurance, replaced my broken window and ripped out stereo. If you ever need insurance, take a look at the Caravan Club website.

2. Affordability

Caravans can be cheap, much cheaper than motor homes. You can easily find a used caravan in decent quality for a few thousand dollars or less. These are typically older and have a great retro look to them. In my opinion, this is ideal – cheap, cool looking and basic. Check out for an excellent selection of affordable vintage caravans.

If you feel like springing a little extra cash you can get something really nice. In fact, there are caravans that aren’t much different from a motor home. Massive lorry sized beasts with full on kitchens, showers, living rooms and bathrooms. For me that’s a bit much – both in terms of my needs and my wallet – but if you’ve got it and your one for creature comforts…by all means. Thing is, when they’re that big you’ll need a solid truck to pull it. Most small sized caravans you can pull with a compact or even subcompact car!

3. Caravan Culture

Lets be honest, everyone loves a guy with a caravan, especially a vintage looking caravan. Think about any music festival you’ve ever been too. Who’s got it better than the guy with a caravan? Like I said, it’s an excellent space to base your self out of for a few days. You can haul more gear, more food, more beer and whatever else you fancy in a caravan than you can in a car alone. And you have a real place to sleep with walls that can at least partially block out the constant festival noise, lights and weird smells going on around you. Plus, a caravan gives you a little more privacy than a tent, should you need it 😉

On top of festival appeal of caravans, most countries in Europe and states in the US have caravan clubs that you can join and meet likeminded people. It’s much like the boathouse culture in the UK and northern Europe. They all get a long and have a great little community that is ready-built around the caravan life style. I’m not saying you have to live in your caravan, but you probably could! Certainly some people do.

The Best Holiday Destination

The most overlooked holiday destination is your own backyard. It is the one place that you can escape to all year round, yet most people forget that it even exists. Instead people spend time in front of the TV, living their dreams through other peoples existence. Yet the strange thing is that wherever you happen to be in the world, you will find someone dreaming about taking a holiday where you live.

holiday on your own country

You know, there is actually a large chance that you will have seen less of the tourist attractions in your region than someone who has taken a holiday around where you live. In fact, to prove my point, the next time you meet a foreign person walking around ask them where they’ve visited. You will almost certainly listen to a list of places that you’ve considered going to, but decided against it because that what’s the point (after all you live there and could visit these places whenever you want to).local vacation ideas

This aversion to exploring your own back yard is a strange and unfortunate phenomenon. Watching the TV or browsing the Internet you will see plenty of amazing holiday destinations and then start imagining yourself doing things that you’d never consider doing at home (like taking a walk down the beach). Most people just take what is around them for granted. However, as the sun comes out around Europe and the temperatures start to heat up, it is the time to start reminding yourself what makes the place you live in so special.

local holiday

So here’s an idea. If you live in the countryside then take a walk through the fields or go hiking on the highlands or trekking through a forest. Explore the city you live in and visit some of the most famous tourist attractions (there is a reason people come from all over the world to see these places). The best thing about where you live though is that you know all the best places to visit and those secret gems that the tourists have never heard of. Be careful though if you decide to explore your neighborhood, you might find yourself having a better time than you had sitting in front of the TV!

Costa Tours

For over 60 years, Costa Cruises has delivered Italian-style cruise holidays to some of the world’s most beautiful and soul-stirring locations. From the Spanish coast to Dubai, the Caribbean to Egypt’s vibrant Red Sea, it’s no wonder this long-established cruise brand continues to draw customers back to its gleaming ships and packed itineraries one year after another.

So where can you travel with Costa Cruises? The real question is, where can’t you travel?

During the winter months, when it’s cold and drizzly back home, you could enjoy a winter warmer in the western Mediterranean, taking in the delights of Agadir and Casablanca in Morocco, the bustling Spanish city of Barcelona, Ajaccio in Corsica and the beautiful landscapes of southern Sardinia. A new addition to the winter itineraries is the Canary Islands, so look out for sun-baked voyages with Costa Cruises to the volcanic islands of Tenerife and the likes of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, as well as opportunities to visit some of the smaller islands surrounding these popular holiday hotspots.

If you fancy travelling a little further afield, a quick look at the Costa Cruises website will serve up all sorts of different ideas on your next escape. How about Brazil and Argentina in South America, or a mesmerising jaunt to such eastern splendours as Dubai, Egypt, Aqaba in Jordan, and Israel’s beautiful Red Sea town of Eilat.

And of course who could forget the endless charm and desert island-style beaches of the Caribbean? Visit breathtaking Barbados, explore the Dominican Republic or discover the ancient Mayan heritage and golden sands of Mexico’s Caribbean Coast.

Parking at the Airport

When you’re planning a holiday, it can feel like there’s a never-ending list of things to do. From booking the flights and organising your travel insurance, to buying local guide books and packing your cases, there’s always something to organise. Getting to the airport is another thing you need to sort out – but it’s certainly not one that you should push to the bottom of the pile. Instead, when it comes to airport parking – whether it’s Glasgow Airport parking or parking at London Heathrow – the sooner you book, the better your chance of saving money.

When you book well in advance you’ll have a better chance of snapping up a special offer. Many airport parking operators regularly advertise discounts on advance bookings, sometimes offering deals like 10% or 15% off the cost of your airport parking. As well as the chance to save money, when you book in advance you’ll also benefit from greater availability. Let’s face it, the alternative is to turn up and trust to luck that there will be an available space which can be a risky, and often pricey, option.

When it comes to booking your space, you can book direct with the airport or by searching for a local airport parking operator. For instance, type ‘Glasgow Airport parking’ into a search engine and scour the local agents (make sure they’re reputable ones!) to see which offers the best price. You can also choose a tour operator, like Thomas Cook, to find a suitable airport parking arrangement. In fact, Thomas Cook provides a fast quote system with the best prices, and a high level of secure parking too – so it may be worth going direct to their website first.

Get that done as son as possible, and it’s one more thing to tick off the list, bringing your holiday that little bit closer.

Avoiding Bed Bugs and Travel Critters

Ask any long term traveller, compulsive backpacker and chronic city-breaker, when the travel bug gets you, you can’t stop. But there is one thing that can put a damper on your addiction. Small, seemingly insignificant, they can turn your stay into a night of itching at best to a week or two in hospital with hallucinations at worst. Here’s a little run down of the bugs to avoid, or put up with when you’re on the road.

Midges: You don’t need to go to the jungles of the Amazon basin to encounter voracious insects. Just head for the Highlands of Scotland and you’ll get plenty of hassle there. Highland midges are notorious UK summer pests. But you won’t only find them in Scotland, any place that has acidic soils will do. That means Scandinavia, particularly in the North (in Norway, they go under the code name knott), or in Russia or Northern China.

If you haven’t ever encountered midges, consider yourself lucky. I have seen the coolest, most self-controlled people loose their mind because of these little beasts. When they come at you, they just don’t buzz around like a mosquito. It’s a cloud of them that will attack. They are tiny and will get in any space they can to get to your skin. Their bite is not proportionate to their size! According to some estimates, midges cost the tourist industry 373 million USD each  year in lost revenue! Any way to avoid it? Well not if you want to go rambling through the Highlands. Although some experts say that the first midge to bite you will release a pheromone advertising how tasty you are. So just avoid that first bite! Also, they don’t like direct sunlight! And as natural repellents go, you can use Citronella, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Neem or Bog Myrtle, which you can find in essential oil form.

Ticks: If midges are a nuisance because of the pain, ticks are very discreet but can have a very real detrimental effect on your health. Ticks are tiny woodland bloodsucking bugs found all around the world, but especially in warm and humid countries. How does an eight-legged wingless bloodsucker get to you? They chill out on the end of twigs and branches waiting for you to brush past. That’s when they hitch a ride and they will crawl towards those nice and warm parts of your body to eat in peace: armpits, groin, ears.

These little guys are potential carriers of a long list of diseases. You probably know about Lyme disease, which can have serious implications for your health. I’m not going to go through all the symptoms here as there is loads of information on the Internet. But the thing is, you need to try and keep them off you. There are different techniques that don’t require you to stay locked in the house! You can keep them from crawling up your legs by tucking your trousers into your socks (I know, not exactly very fashionable), but you can also use Rose Geranium essential oil, mixed with Sweet Almond oil and use this as a repellent. Just cover those areas of exposed skin and those sensitive areas ticks are fond of. When you get home from walks in the woods, check yourself for ticks, with a partner for greater efficacy (and fun?). If you find any, you can remove them with pointed tweezers, just grab them as close as possible to the skin and pull gently without twisting or squeezing too hard. Disinfect the bite, with tea tree oil, for example.

Mosquitoes: Well, we all know about mosquitoes. Actually, some of the worst mosquitoes I have encountered were in Lapland, in Norway. They were huge, bit through clothes and were absolutely relentless. The Laps I met there told me I should just get naked and sit there for a while, and my body would get used to their saliva, which they inject to stop coagulation and actually causes the allergic reaction that makes you twitch and itch for days. I didn’t try that.

If running around naked and teasing the mozzies is an option in Scandinavia, it’s not really possible to do so in the tropics. Although you might be baring quite a bit of skin due to the heat. Mosquitoes in the tropics carry quite a few bacterial diseases, the most infamous of which is malaria. But mosquito-borne diseases also include Dengue Fever, Yellow fever, West Nile Virus, Elephantiasis,…

How to keep the mosquitoes away. Well, there’s not much you can do. Sleep under a mosquito net, wear long sleeves. There are many kinds of repellents, some of them might actually be as bad for you as they are for the mosquitoes (such as repellents containing DEET). I prefer to use natural repellents such as essential oils of Citronella, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Neem or Rosemary, or a fragrant mix of some of them. Experiment with the smells!

Malaria is a problem in many places in the world, and the WHO estimates 660,000 people die of malaria every year. A recent study showed that the parasite also affects the mosquito’s sense of smell, making it three times more likely to bite a human than an uninfected mosquito! The parasite is becoming more and more resistant to drugs, particularly in Cambodia. I have discovered a very effective prophylactic, that can also be used to cure if you get malaria. When I was in Papua, Indonesia for over a year, I used a plant called Artemisia annua. It came as a powder, I mixed it with honey (it is horribly bitter) and had a teaspoonful of the stuff every morning. Kept the doctor away! You can find more information about Artemisia annua here.

Bed Bugs: Bed bugs are making a comeback all around the world. They had disappeared due to the extensive use of pesticides, and particularly DDT. By the time DDT was banned in the 70s and 80s, they had already become resistant to most pesticides, and were itching to get back into worldwide action. And so here they are. These critters are not confined to the developing world, but have been reported in New York, Boston five-star hotels as well as across Europe and Australia. Despite their planetary success, bedbugs are not actually dangerous (except for the few who are highly sensitive), but they are a real pain in the a**!

Bedbugs like to hide in bed frames, mattresses, cracks and crevices or behind electric wires. Just do a quick inspection before you lay down on the bed, exhausted from your day of travelling. They look a bit like ticks, small reddish-brown.

What many travellers don’t realise is that they are sometimes actually carrying their bedbugs around with them! Although they can’t fly, they will happily hitch a ride in your clothes or luggage. They won’t travel on you as they don’t like human heat.

Some tricks to avoid bringing bedbugs home from your travels: keep your luggage above ground, or in a place removed from the sleeping area, such as in the bathroom of your hotel room. Don’t put your backpack or suitcase on the bed to prevent them from crawling aboard. As they like warmth, they might also be attracted to your laptop, so don’t use your laptop in bed (it’s bad for you anyway!). If you get bitten, wash your clothes immediately in very hot water, put them in a dryer or have them dry cleaned. Leave your suitcase out in the sun for a few days or in the cold for a couple of weeks.

Spiders and Scorpions: When you are travelling in tropical countries, keep an eye out for spiders and scorpions. Although you would expect them if you are trekking through the jungle, they can also enter homes and hotels, particularly those in a more rural setting. I have myself had a few close encounters with these eight-legged creatures, and luckily had more of a fright and a hip-hop/French Cancan session than any real harm. Once was as I was hitch-hiking through Thailand, a fruit farmer (lamyai – dragon’s eye: yummy!) let me stay in the rooms used by his seasonal pickers.

I was about to get into bed when I saw movement right next to my bare feet. Looked down and there was a golden scorpion trundling along towards my toes. I jumped away and he and I had a little game of running around, me trying to chase him out of the door, and he desperately trying to run under the bed. I got him out unharmed in the end, sweeping him out with a towl.

Anyone who has been to tropical countries will have noticed the amazing webs spiders weave on electric wires and bridges. That’s fine, they don’t bother me. But getting woken up by a scream (my girlfriend) as a huge Papuan spider is crawling along the inside of the mosquito net (if it’s not keeping out palm-sized spiders, what about mozzies?), that’s another story. Too close for comfort, but nowhere to go as trying to get out would have made it fall right on us. We did get it out (rather I got it out) with the help of a few kitchen utensils, but the spider could leap about a yard at a time and was absolutely not cooperative.