Practical Tips for Driving in Brazil

Brazil is a huge and fantastic country, and the best way to discover it is by car or motorcycle.

Of course, when you’re used to driving in Europe or the US, you will quickly notice a number of differences. In this post, I would like to give some practical information and pointers about driving in Brazil.

Tips for driving in Brazil
Tips for driving in Brazil

The rules of driving in Brazil

In my opinion, driving in Brazil can be divided into a number of different conditions:

The “rules” (I don’t mean “the law”) vary according to which situation you’re in, but one thing that almost always applies is: who has the bigger vehicle, has the upper hand.

Don’t expect people to stop and give way, even if you have priority (like on a roundabout). Don’t expect people to use indicators when they turn left or right. Don’t be surprised to see cars and even trucks driving at night without lights.

  • Big cities – Traffic jams: In the big cities you will almost always end up in a traffic jam. Rio de Janeiro but especially São Paulo are notorious for the hectic traffic. The already complicated situation is often made worse by accidents, broken down vehicles or storms (flooding). there are also hundreds of motorcycles (125 – 250cc) making their way through the rows of cars, honking their horns and switching lanes, often at considerable speeds, so be VERY careful in traffic jams and check your mirrors before changing lanes.
  • Major highways: These are usually in good condition and especially the toll roads are equipped with a well-functioning tow service (free of charge). In case of an accident or engine problems, you will get towed to the next gas station. One of the best highways in Brazil (also the most expensive in terms of toll) is the BR116 (the “Dutra”) between Rio and São Paulo. São Paulo is the state with the densest road network. a quick look at the road map of Brazil and you see this very easily.
  • The condition of vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles…) goes from excellent to literally falling apart… I’ve seen cars with doors missing, or pieces being held together with a piece of rope. You also see lots of cars with completely bald tires. Some vehicles you see here wouldn’t last 10 minutes on the road in Europe.

I don’t want to scare anyone, because a road trip in Brazil can be an extremely rewarding experience. It’s just that with the right information, you can avoid bad situations or at least avoid getting frustrated by the undisciplined or even reckless behaviour of other road users.

Related Read: Most Beautiful Regions in Brazil for Motorcycling

Tips for driving in Brazil
Tips for driving in Brazil

Tips for driving in Brazil

Here are five practical hints and recommendations for anyone who wants to venture out on the road in this amazing country.

1. Road conditions in Brazil

As in most countries, road conditions in Brazil can vary a great deal. As a general rule, the roads in the south and south-east regions are in much better shape than those up north. When you cross the state border between Espirito Santo and Bahia, the BR101 suddenly changes from a double two lane highway with perfect asphalt into a secondary road with potholes and no hard shoulders. No better example of the economical differences between the South-east and the North-east of Brazil. Independent from the location, heavy rains can wreak havoc, causing land slides, wash away part of the road surface or leave impassable mud holes.

  • Holes in the road: Sometimes water can wash away the earth under the asphalt and eventually part of the pavement will cave in and a hole will appear in the road… people usually “mark” these places with a leafy tree branch. So when you see something that looks like there’s a tree growing out of the asphalt, there’s probably a deep hole in the road. Needless to say that this kind of “signalization” is very hard to spot in the dark…
  • Dirt roads: are very common in Brazil, especially in the rural interior, and are being used intensively by cars, motorcycles, but also by trucks and buses. Some of them have codes (like RJ153 or SP225) and are official state roads and are usually kept in reasonable condition, whereas the “unofficial” dirt roads can be in very bad shape, especially after the rainy season, when landslides make lots of roads very difficult to use. One good rule of thumb is: when you’re in a dirt road and don’t see any tracks from other cars, (meaning that the road hasn’t been used for quite some time), chances are that the road you’re on is not going anywhere and it might be a good idea to turn around and find another route to your destination.
  • Signalization: On the major highways, signalization is good, but in more remote areas and small cities and villages, don’t rely on following signs to get somewhere. You will often see signs to your destination for a while until they vanish. In case you’re lost, gas stations usually are a good source of information, but you will have to get it from someone who only speaks Portuguese…Signalization of road works is usually good, even in the dirt roads.
  • Speedbumps: To control the speed of vehicles around schools or in village centers and residential areas, there are numerous speed bumps all over the country. The official name is “Lombada” but most people call them “quebra molas” (literally: suspension breakers). this is not exaggerated, because some of these bumps are so high and steep they almost look like concrete half-cylindres. Hitting one of these at high-speed will destroy your car… They should be painted in bright yellow and black stripes for visibility, but unfortunately this is not always the case. Beware!
  • Flanelinhas: when you park your car in most urban centres, it is very common to see a guy come up to you, indicating that he’s going to keep an eye on your car. They also “help” people to find parking spots and sometimes even offer to wash your car. These people are called “Flanelinhas”, and what they are doing is illegal, but it is unwise to turn them down if you don’t want to end up with a few scratches on your car.

2. Gas stations in Brazil

Gas stations in Brazil are still very much operated by humans. Unlike in Europe, where in most countries you need to fill your tank yourself, every station has several attendants who will fill up the car for you. Usually there’s no problem to pay with a credit or debit card, but several gas stations in more remote areas that will only accept cash.

  • Gasoline prices and quality: Gasoline prices in Brazil are high compared to the US (about 7$ a gallon), but lower than in Europe. Some gas stations – usually the small, unknown brands – have lower prices, but this usually means that the alcohol level in the Gasoline is higher than the legal 20-25%. Some gasoline you buy at “cheaper” gas stations has up to 60% of alcohol in it. It is always advisable to buy your gas at a big distributor station like Petrobras or Shell…

3. Animals (and other stuff) on the road

Unfortunately, Brazil has thousands, if not millions of stray animals wandering the streets. Cows, horses, donkeys, dogs… not to speak about the wildlife, like capivara, tatu, snakes, lizards…  Your reflexes can be tested.

4. Use a GPS for directions when driving

A GPS can be a great tool and save you lots of time and gas as long as it has a good map installed. I have a Garmin GPS that I use both on my motorcycle and in the car, and I arrived in Brazil with the standard Garmin map of Brazil that I purchased in Belgium.

As long as I was on a major road or a significant city, things seemed fine, but once I started venturing into the interior, I quickly learned that the Garmin map was all but accurate. In fact it was perfectly unusable… (sorry Garmin, but that’s just the way it is..)

When you come to Brazil you want to use your Garmin GPS, make sure you have a good map installed. I strongly recommend the “Tracksource” map. It is totally free, developed by volunteers and as far as I have been experiencing up to now, very accurate.

Another advantage this map has, is that it not only contains the official roads (Federal and state roads) but also a wealth of small roads, 4×4 tracks and hiking trails that aren’t on ANY map. Some smaller cities don’t have all the streets yet, but there’s a monthly update and the map gets more complete every time.

To download and install the Tracksource map, go to: www.tracksource.org.br

5. Be prepared when driving in Brazil

Whenever setting out on a road trip, bring the following:

  • Some food & water
  • maps of the area you’re going to travel through
  • Flashlight / Headlight
  • A phone card: comes in handy when you’re in an area without mobile phone signal. every small village has at least one payphone (orelhão). You can also call collect (a cobrar) from the payphones
  • Cash for highway toll (there’s no way to pay with any type of card)
  • Cash for gas (especially when you plan to go to remote areas)

and make sure to:

Hope this was useful.


Tips for Holidays in Prague with Kids

Prague has been always famous for being a destination for adults with its animated nightlife, pubs and clubs. But, what about visiting Prague with kids?

Because of such a reputation, the capital of the Czech Republic has never been considered as a friendly destinations for families traveling with children, which is not always true. Prague has a lot to offer for kids, unique attractions and new activities that may enrich the experience of your children and open them to a different culture.

In this article we will try to talk about all the necessary and important points that you should consider while organizing your trip to Prague with your children.

Best views in Prague
Best views in Prague

A guide to visiting Prague with kids

Make the most of your trip to Prague with the family with these top tips.

Where to stay with kids in Prague?

First important thing that will play the biggest role in the success of your trip, is the accommodation, where should you stay?

To be more concrete and specific, we won’t really recommend a hotel in Prague if you are traveling with kids, with the growing number of serviced apartments in Prague, you have now a large choice of great apartments of different sizes where you can stay with your family, it’s far better than a hotel and with the fully equipped kitchen, it gives you more freedom in regards to meals and meal times. You will feel like home in Prague, no restrictions but enough of space and flexibility, and you will for sure save money if you go for an apartment.

We would highly recommend apartments in the Mala Strana (Lesser Town), also as the Old Town apartments and if you want to save more on your budget, you can choose even a budget apartment in one of the residential areas around the center of Prague, you will use the metro and/or the tramway and usually kids like trains. For example in Andel district, near Novy Smichov Shopping center which offers many facilities for children.

Prague airport transfer with children

Here an important remark, to go from the airport to your apartment, better to book a Prague airport transfer service in advance, it’s more safe and practical than catching the bus or a taxi at your arrival. And don’t forget to order in advance the children safety seats for the airport transfer, usually the safety seats are free of charges.

Where to eat with children in Prague?

Usually children are not allowed in pubs (Hospoda and Pivnice) in Prague, and even if they do allow, don’t take your children to such places. Smoking is still not prohibited in the Czech republic as in some other European countries, and the aeration inside restaurants is not that good.

Also Czech cuisine is not that healthy, and worse if your kids are used to McDonalds or KFC’s. In Prague we recommend you to go to one of Ambiente restaurants, they have kid’s corner open daily from 10am to 5pm, they cook fresh, they have a nonsmoking area, they provide a great service (which is unusual in Prague), and they have their restaurants of different specialties almost in each district in the center of Prague. More you can find on Ambiente restaurant website.

Related Read: The Perfect 3-day Prague Itinerary

Prague with kids
Prague with kids

Where to go with kids during your stay in Prague?

Petrin Hill and its mirror maze in Prague

Take the funicular railway to Petrin hill, there is a copy of the Eiffel Towner and a mirror maze inside, usually fun for children, then if the weather is good you can walk through the Rose Garden and the nice parks of Petrin to the neighborhood of Prague Castle.

Prague Castle Guards

Once you are at Prague Castle, let children see the changing of the Guards ceremony, it could be a good memorable scene for the kinds, sometimes they can even take a photo with the guard. Join a small group tour of the Prague Castle.

Prague castle
Prague castle

Toy Museum of Prague

Near Prague Castle we recommend to visit the toys museum at Jirska street number 4, the entrance is free of charges for children under 15 and 60 CZK (around 2 EUR) for adults.

This museum is considered as the second largest museum of this kind in the world with its 7 exhibition rooms and a collection of toys not only from the Czech Republic but from all over the world and belonging to different civilizations and centuries.

This won’t be interesting only for children, but also for you as an adult, you will refresh your memory seeing toys that you used to play with in your childhood.

Prague Zoo

Don’t miss the zoo of Prague, it’s located in U Trojskeho zamku number 3/120, in Prague 7, you can take the bus112 from Nadrazi Holesovice metro station, or if you want a unique experience, take the boat that goes from the center of Prague to the zoo and sales around 75 minutes. The zoo is worth spending the whole day with children. Here’s is the official website of Prague zoo.

Sea World in Prague

An impressing Sea World permanent exhibition located at the fairground in Vystaviste in Prague 7 with a flat of 1.000 m2 and a water volume of around 260.000 liters holding about 4.500 varieties of fishes and other sea animals. Visit the website of Prague sea world.

Prague National Technical Museum

With its 50.000 filing items exhibited on 13.000 m2, the National Technical Museum of Prague could play an educational role in your children’s knowledge.

Divadlo Minor Puppet Theater of Prague 

This is the largest puppet theatre in Prague which offers shows suitable for different kid’s ages. The Czech Republic has a long tradition in marionette making and its theatrical performance, so don’t miss Divadlo Minor, it’s right in the center of Prague in Vodickova street number 6.

Boat Trip on Vltava River in Prague

This an unforgettable experience for your kids and a romantic cruise for you also, you will admire Charles Bridge and Prague Castle in different way. Try to go for this boat trip at the sunset and don’t forget your camera. You can also join this boat trip to the zoo.

Nostalgic Tram Line ride and Prague Public Transport Museum

Pay only 35 CZK (20 CZK for children) and jump in the historical nostalgic Tram Line No. 91, kids like trains and enjoy the ride, mainly if you don’t have a similar tram in your home town,

If you want you can combine your Nostalgic Tram Line ride with a visit to the Prague Public Transport Museum (Muzeum MHD). It is located in the former tram depot of Stresovice in Prague 6 and it houses a unique collection of period public transportation vehicles going back to 1875, the year in which the first tramway, pulled by horses, started operating in the streets of the Royal Capital City of Prague.

Zlute Lazne outdoor swimming and playground in Prague

Take the tram number 21, 16, 17 or 3 to tram stop Dvorce and you will find the “yellow spa”, a multi-functional center for sports and free-time activities for all age groups including children.

You will find in Zlute Lazne a grass beach, a beach volleyball court, a dragon boats, a water bicycle rental, a closed cage for sand football gladiators, 8 courts for petanque, table tennis, netball street-ball, xxl chessboard, bouldering, restaurants and an Internet cafe, Children’s play area, inflatable swimming pool with toys, baby sitting, dancing area, a safe parking and all areas are with wheelchair access.

Children playgrounds in Prague

Whiling traveling to Prague with kids, you’ll likely want to find a place for your kids to get rid of some energy!

In Prague you will find children playgrounds in every district, it doesn’t matter where you will stay. Usually playgrounds are in green parks and accessible only for children and their parents, no dogs and no adults are allowed. One of the largest play areas is the Detsky Ostrov / Children’s Island, a long, narrow river island in the Vltava river, accessible via a footbridge from the Janackovo nabreri embankment.

Shopping for kids in Prague

  • Wooden toys: Handmade quality traditional Czech wooden toys are almost everywhere in specialized shops, mainly in the Old Town.
  • Sparky’s toy shop: One of the biggest toy shops in Prague, located in the Old Town at Havirska street number 2
  • Mothercare: Baby wear and accessories on the first floor in the Myselbek shopping center in Na Prikope
  • C&A” shop: The first floor is for the kids clothes with a play area.
  • Palac Knih: a large book shop with a children section
  • Marks and Spencer: First floor for children clothes
  • Oasis City: Just next to Marks & Spencer in the Wenceslas Square, you will find a place where you can leave your kids under supervision with different levels depending on the age of the kids starting from 2 years old, they charge 60 CZK per hour (around 2 EUR)
  • More shops for kids like Au Pays des Mimis or Zara Kids are in Novy Smichov Shopping center in Andel district.

Looking for more things to do in Prague with kids? Check out these posts:


Top Tips for Booking Cheap Flights

What are the top tips for booking cheap flights?

We all want to save on flights but most of us could do with some help and advice to get us started.

You should already know to compare prices for everything you need from flights, travel insurance, hotels and more but these tips should help further.

Follow this tips for booking flights and you’re no doubt about to get the best deal.

Booking cheap flights
Booking cheap flights

Top Tips for Booking Cheap Flights

When is the best time to fly

Did you know the day of the week that you choose to travel can affect the price of your air ticket? Tuesdays and Wednesdays are generally the best days to fly if you like a bargain. Fridays and Sundays are the most popular so expect higher rates on these days. With Saturdays, it depends on the destination as the day is not liked by business travelers but is popular with one week package holidaymakers.

Even if you do need to travel on a high demand day, the time of day can still make a difference. Evening flights are wanted by business travelers so think about leaving at lunchtime instead. The overnight red-eye flights can have some great deals as can the early morning flights, especially with budget airlines.

When to book flights

If you are looking at a budget carrier then the earlier you book the better. Months before your departure date is when the bargains are to be found as prices go up as availability reduces.

Other airlines will also try to entice you with offers and deals when they first release tickets so, again, early planning can be best. If you have a preferred airline, sign up for their e-newsletter/Like them on Facebook/follow them on twitter, etc. as they often offer deals to subscribers first.

If planning so far ahead is not for you, the other time to get a great deal is a few days before the flight leaves. Last minute offers are there to try and fill up the remaining seats so if you can be flexible with when you can fly then try this option (read all about planning last minute vacations).

The time of day you look for an online fare also matters as strangely many have found the cheaper fares in the early hours of the morning, around 2-3am. Whether it’s in your time zone or the airline’s is not clear but bargain hunters could try both options.

Related Read: How to Find Cheap Airline Tickets Using a VPN

Where to book your flight

Online travel aggregators such as Expedia are a good place to start as you can compare rates with different airlines and they do bundled packages with accommodation.

Travel search engines such as Kayak are considered to be second generation travel aggregators and offer similar options.

Travel Agents can still be worth talking to as they are travel specialists but be aware they may have commission deals that suit them well but possibly not you.

Airline websites are the place for those last minute deals and to get an idea of routes and prices they can offer.

Finding the best airfares during peak season

So how do you find affordable flights to popular destinations during peak holiday season?

Here are some tips:

  1. Looking for airports close to your destination (for example Sharjah is an airport which is only a 30 minute drive from Dubai). Sharjah is the hub of Air Arabia, (one of the best low cost airlines in the Middle East). Check out these airports in California.
  2. Keeping an eye over airlines, especially national carriers, which provide affordable airfares to destinations as compared to other carriers.
  3. Being flexible with dates of travel (+/- 2-3 days). There are always chances of you getting affordable airfares for flights taking off during weekdays (Mondays to Thursdays) than weekends.
  4. Catching a red-eye (night) flight. While flying in odd hours or avoiding rush hours can be a bit tough it could be a lot easier on your wallet.
  5. Booking in advance (if possible, although I would recommend you to book flights only when your travel plans are confirmed as Air Tickets are usually non-refundable).
  6. Managing your Frequent Flier Miles to your benefit.
  7. Using internet tools for airfare tracking.


The Ultimate Collection of Road Trip Tips

There is nothing fun like piling everyone in a vehicle and going for an old-fashioned road trip.

The allure of the adventure and the fact that it is such an economical option as compared to a vacation. As the miles start to increase and the weariness sets in, everyone starts to feel tired and bored. 

But, don’t worry. We’ve got the ultimate collection of road trip tips to make sure that you have an epic, memorable road trip with your friends or family.

Let’s dive straight in…

Planning a Round-The-World Trip
Planning a road trip

The Ultimate Collection of Road Trip Tips

Top tricks to make your road trip safe and memorable for the whole family.

Before you leave

Make sure you take your driving license. It’s so obvious, yet so forgettable.

Take your specs too, if you wear them for driving, and some sunglasses.

If you’re old or have a disability that affects your ability to drive, check with the hire company if they have any restrictions on people like you.

Compare quotes from different hire companies. There are a number of recognized stores in the US and they’re pretty similar in terms of cars and service, so try to get a good deal.

If you can, get your map or GPS before you leave. At least try to get directions from the car hire place to the main road!

Carry a First Aid Kit 

Before you get into the driver’s seat and drive off, make sure you have a complete first aid kit with you. Make sure you have a variety of items in the kit to cover a wide range of emergencies.

With trips being so unpredictable, you need to make sure the kit is extensive enough. If you had a kit before and used some items on a previous trip, you need to find out what items are missing and you replace them.   

Travel as a Group 

A road trip will be very boring if you decide to go on your own. At first it may seem fun due to the freedom you feel, but with time, you start getting bored. Having a group will be more ideal because you will be able to interact and have fun. 

One other thing about travelling in a group is that you will feel safer when you have other people around you. In case your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, you are less likely to be at risk of getting burgled as compared to when you are travelling alone.

Therefore, when planning a road trip, ask your friends and colleagues and plan on travelling together.   

Find Something Unusual 

There are many places along the road that you can make a stopover to turn your trip into an interesting one – all you need to do is find the places. Use the billboards on the roadside or use a search engine to find any attractions along your route.

Find a way to incorporate the site into your trip so that you have something to talk about many years to come. Additionally, most of these attractions are normally near the highway and inexpensive. These locations may also serve as educational stopovers for the children especially when they represent landmarks that are a part of history.   

Add an Element of Safari to the Trip 

Major highways have one or more wildlife attractions located near the highway. It would be a nice experience to see animals you have not seen before in your life. It will also be a lovely surprise for the kids to see some wild animals for the first time in their life. After a long and tedious journey, it is usually nice to just glide through a park so that you and the rest of the group can have a welcome distraction.   

Leave Details Behind 

Most of the time you find that the apprehension of going on a long road trip makes you forget the most important thing about any journey – safety. One way that you can be sure of help when something happens is by telling someone else about your travel plans. If you are not at a specific place after a given period of time, the person will let the authorities know. It is also good to let someone know by calling every time you reach a given place.   

Learn Some Road Trip Games 

There are several games that have been invented both for the adults and the young. These road games are not only for entertaining the travellers but also to keep everyone alert. Some of these games include “I Spy” which involves clues and guesses. Such games will keep everyone engaged and entertained for a long period of time.   

Road trip tips
Road trip tips

Carry Some Snacks 

If the journey is long, getting cranky is easy especially for the young ones. This usually happens due to hunger. Well, you can tackle this problem by carrying snacks of various types for the children as well as adults. Make sure these snacks are appropriate, fun and delicious for everyone that is on the trip.

Also have snacks that are specific for a particular type of condition suffered by any member of the group. This applies for people suffering from conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and ulcers.   

Choose Quiet Rest Stops 

Along the way, you need to stop time and again to rest. When choosing ideal places for stopovers, consider quiet rest stops especially if you have children in the group. Such stops will offer you a more relaxed environment to sit and cool off the hassle of the journey.

Additionally, the children will have enough space to run around before getting into the car for the second stretch of the trip.   

Bring Great Music or Audio Books with You 

Every road trip needs some music. You need to sit down and find out what every member of the group likes in terms of music and collect enough last the whole trip. Many people who have been on road trips can remember what happened on the trip when a particular song plays on the stereo.

It is also advisable for you to get sing-along music that all of you can join in and sing. You can also get some audio books especially for the little ones.   

Double Check Your Vehicle 

The vehicle is what will make or break the trip. Make sure the vehicle is spacious enough to hold all the travellers and in a condition to move long distances. You can have a mechanic to double check everything just to be on the safe side. If you have any doubts about the car, you can go ahead and rent one for the trip. When it comes to such a situation, you need to work with a reliable car rental service.   

Here are the top features to consider in a vehicle when taking a road trip:

Exterior

Whether a fan of driving an SUV or wanting to ride in a sedan, there are a few features that are important when driving through different climates and various environments. Depending on individual preference, these features to be helpful during a road trip.

  • Privacy Windows Featured in Rear Sides and Back of Vehicle

Interior

The most important thing I am looking for when on a road trip is to be comfortable for consecutive hours at a time. This means I need room to store all my gadgets, maps and snacks within close proximity to reach when needed. Also, breathing in fresh air, singing to the top of my lungs and knowing which direction I’m headed tops my list.

So while most of these popular features are optional, they sure do make the road trip more enjoyable.

  • Dual Zone Automatic Climate Control with AC and Heat
  • Sterio System with USB port and iPod Connectivity
  • Sunroof or Moonroof
  • Bluetooth
  • Dashboard Navigation System
  • Power door locks and Power Windows
  • Auxillary Power Outlets
  • Cruise Control
  • Cup Holders, Cargo Space and Overhead-and-Center Consoles

Related Read: Tips for Sleeping in Your Car

Performance

As long as you can get from point A to point B shouldn’t be your only worry, having a high-performing and safe vehicle is very important to consider before going on a road trip. Make sure the vehicle’s breaks work, engine is tuned-up and any other mechanical specs are up to par before hitting the open road.

But besides the standard performance of the vehicle, these features make the road trip more conveniant and safe.

  • Rear Parking Assist Sonar
  • Daytime Running Lights
  • Advance Airbag System
  • Tire Pressure Monitor System
Road trip tips
Road trip tips

The do’s and don’ts of road trip safety

Aside from choosing the right tunes to play on the radio, staying safe on your road trip is vital to having a trip that will make the memory books.

Follow these road trip tips for safety do’s and don’ts before your wheels hit the pavement!

  • DO try to blend in. There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist, but being confident is one of the top theft deterrents, so trying to blend in like a local allows you to exude just that. Don’t leave maps out in plain sight, and if you need to consult one while walking around town, do it discreetly. Follow up our guidelines of how to avoid pickpockets.
  • DON’T try to reach the next gas station when you’re at a quarter tank. If you’re not familiar with the route, don’t risk it! Being stalled out on the side of the road with no gas and maybe even a lack of cell phone reception is certainly a safety risk.
  • DO look at your backseat when you get into your car. We hope your road trip will only be a happy one, but crimes do happen. Take a look in your backseat to make sure no one has stowed themselves inside, ready to take control of your car when you put the key in the ignition.
  • DON’T keep washer fluid or hard objects in your backseat. If you’re going 45 mph and need to stop suddenly, you can imagine how any fluids, toys, or books are going to fly around your car. Harmful fluids can even open and spill. Keep it neat and trim for you and your passengers’ safety.
  • DO stash an emergency kit in your car. The old adage about being safe than sorry always rings true. Keep a box in your car filled with water, snacks, a flashlight, a warm blanket, flares, a first-aid kit, and jumper cables if your battery dies.
  • DON’T stay on the first floor of a motel. It may be easier to carry your luggage in to a room on the first floor after a long day of driving, but it’s also easier for thieves to break into your room. Even better – get a room facing the parking lot so you can keep an eye on your vehicle. Read all about the difference between a motel and a hotel.

Road trips are a rite of passage and are often unforgettable adventures, but it’s important to keep an eye on your personal safety and security while traveling on the open road. Use your common sense, and if a situation or area doesn’t feel right, go with your gut and get out of it!

Travelling is not easy especially when you have children in tow. You need to make sure you meet the demands of both the young and the mature so that you can make the trip amazing. Use the above road trip tips to make your road trip safe and memorable.


Great Tips for Planning a Round-The-World Trip

The RTW traveler: a breed of road veteran surpassed in experience perhaps only by the steely-eyed, scarf-wearing newspaper foreign correspondent.

The idea of round-the-world travel has been gaining traction in recent years, with more and more people, from a widening variety of age ranges and backgrounds, deciding it’s possible to add a big trip to their life-plan. Especially as more businesses and workers have taken up remote working – meaning that you can travel the world, while keeping up with your day job!

But, what goes into planning a round-the-world trip?

I’m going give you a few tips (seven to be exact) to help you better arrange your planning, to you show you how to kickstart your round-the-world trip with an ease you may not have recognized.

To more easily break it down, I’ll put the process into chronological steps you can tick off one by one.

Planning a Round-The-World Trip
Planning a Round-The-World Trip

7 Tips for Planning a Round-The-World Trip

Step 1: Finalize where you’re going

Before you start planning your round-the-world trip, you need to have an idea of where you’d like to go.

This process of deciding where to go may have started when you first discovered there was a world out there to travel to, when you first saw images of places like the Great Pyramids and Machu Picchu, when words like Burma, Bali and Buenos Aires only just began to capture your imagination.

The final decisions about destinations should take place about six to eight months before you want to leave. This way you’ll still have a couple months before you lock down your route by buying plane tickets. 

If you need to, hang a world map on your wall, put some pins or stickers on it, and reinforce the idea that you’ll actually be in these places soon. Adjust them if your itinerary strategy or motivation changes. If anything, this process will serve to coalesce your vision, not to mention sharpen you geography skills – which is great since you’ll be needing them later on.

For some inspiration, check out these posts:

Step 2: Create your round-the-world trip budget (and stick to it)

The financial aspect of round-the-world travel planning may be the most challenging and least fun part but someone’s going to have to pay for the trip, and if it’s you, set a budget. It could be the one thing that keeps you on the road when others are running out of money.

There are ways to determine how much things are going to cost; the Internet is rife with information about the costs associated with round-the-world trips, so use the resource to formally assign some costs to your budget plan.

Make yourself comfortable and physically write down your numbers based on your personal traveling style. Use a spreadsheet if necessary, some expensive budgeting software, an abacus, whatever works best for you because you’ll want to be able get a complete overview as you work your way through the process.

Here are some categories to get you started:

  • Plane tickets – see step 4.
  • Accommodations – you’ll need a place to stay every night, but this doesn’t have to be expensive. If this is a concern, extend your stay in countries where the cost of living is cheaper, and lower your room standards in countries that are more expensive. Look to homestays, couchsurfing, long-term rentals to keep costs down.
  • Food – if you’re a self-proclaimed epicurean, budget for lots of restaurants, otherwise set you food budget lower by vowing to eat cheaply.
  • Entertainment – i.e. tours, shows, activities. Things like white water rafting, ziplinging, Zorbing come up via circumstance and you might not want to miss out. Keep money in this category so you can actually thrill yourself once in a while, perhaps with a jetboat ride around the fjords of New Zealand.
  • Transportation – trains, cars, taxis, ferries, tuk-tuks, bike rickshaws. This is absolutely essential to have in the budget; you’re going to be covering a lot of ground outside the plane, make sure you have money to get places.
  • Purchases – things like souvenirs, specialty items. Keep this small since you’ll quickly grow weary of carrying things around or else shipping them home.
  • Minor incidentals – give yourself a big buffer on this because things come up, many things and you don’t know quite how things will be on the road. You can adjust it a few weeks after your trip starts to see how you’re doing resisting overspending.

Step 3: Plan what you’ll be doing when abroad

Even at this point you should have a pretty good idea about how you’ll be spending your time while you’re on the road. This helps dramatically when alloting how much time to spend in each place. Take it from me, a place can get pretty dull when idly passing each day by.

Will you be:

Each of these requires different time commitments. You’ll also need to know how long for reasons such as visa stays, setting dates for departing flights, aligning dates for planned events down the road.

Revisit your budget to include these details.

Step 4: Pick up your tickets

There are a variety of places to purchase round-the-world plane tickets. I won’t go into them here suffice it to say some are better than others. But certainly don’t stop at the first place you see.

Also know that the airlines are not the only game in town. As a matter of fact, my recommendation is unless you’re using airline miles, look elsewhere. The Alliances’ websites may be slick and easy on the eyes but it doesn’t mean you’re doing yourself a favor by using them to buy your tickets. There are numerous rules, restrictions and pigeonholes that aren’t immediately clear but that force into traveling a certain way, and quite unnecessarily. Perhaps get a price from the airlines to set the bar and buy the trip elsewhere.

It’s actually possible to have the ticket purchasing process be fun, not riddled with frustrations, headaches and uncertainties.

Choose your patronage based on the following:

  • Value
  • Service
  • Pleasure of experience
  • Gut instinct

Do-it-yourselfers, remember: a couple hundred dollars more spent to have someone else book your tickets may be the difference between unsolveable logistical road snafu and an effortless journey around the world. The choice is up to you and how you want to go about planning a round-the-world trip.

If you’re doing it all yourself though, remember to tick that ‘flexible’ tickets box – you never know!

The best time to buy plane tickets is 4 – 6 months before your departure.

Step 5: Organize your life

You’re taking the trip, you’ve already decided that. In order to keep everything on track, you’ll need to make sure the time leading up to your departure is spent making smooth transition into your traveling life. I’ll call this your “exit strategy”.

Think of this strategy as a straight line to your departure day, and then think of a puppy trying to walk that line. Every time the puppy strays off the line (due to sparkly objects, the smell of cooking steak, someone trying to make him do tricks) pick him up and put him back on. Always remember, at the end of the line is you getting on the plane!

Your exit strategy will function best if you write down a timeline of when you need to do things to get done by the time you leave. A written timeline will make it 100% easier to remember what you’ve forgotten. If you need help putting a timeline together, there are options online.

Some major parts:

  • Set up your job sabbatical or organise your remote working schedule.
  • Deal with your pets, house and car.
  • Get passports/visas.
  • Buy plane tickets.
  • Get travel insurance.
Planning a Round-The-World Trip
Planning a Round-The-World Trip

Step 6: Book a couple nights of accommodation in the first few cities you’ll be traveling too

Give yourself smooth arrivals in foreign cities by knowing where you’ll be going when you get off the plane. Book a couple nights accommodations before you leave for the first few cities (you can always extend the stay if the location and price were right) then book accommodations further along as you get better at predicting your needs.

It’s probably not a good idea to book stays more than a month or two ahead since things may change dramatically on your itinerary and canceling or changing reservations is often trickier than booking them.

Step 7: Get ready to leave for your round-the-world trip

This may arguably be the most angst-ridden time you’ve ever known. There are a million things left to do, and that’s okay. You can’t change that. What you can change is your approach to them. If you’ve been using a planning timeline, you should be perfectly set up to slide right into traveling. You’ll have purchased all the items you need to buy, you’ll have set up your vitals for your absence, you’ll have kissed the dog goodbye.

Organization is key, make it a habit and it will help you dramatically once you’re on the road.

That should do it. Seven steps to get you juiced to start achieving your travel dreams!


Sustainable Travel Tips on a Budget

Want to leave goodness in your path when you travel?

These sustainable travel tips will help you to embark on travels that are good for the earth, communities and yourself.

They will help you to immerse in local culture, see the land through the eyes of the people who live there and it will save you a ton of money.

It’s also possible to travel sustainably while on a budget…here’s our tips.

Sustainable travel tips
Sustainable travel tips – Walk, bike and use public transportation over taxis, rental cars, and flights.

Sustainable Travel Tips on a Budget

Live happy. Live healthy. Live free. Live beyond yourself. And travel sustainably.

Here’s our top sustainable travel tips:

1. Walk, bike and use public transportation over taxis, rental cars, and flights.

2. Eat locally produced food. Stick to a whole food plant based diet, which means more veggies, fruits, grains, nuts and less or no animal products

3. Be a part of the local economy. Eat local, shop local, play local. Avoid national chains and corporations.

4. Reduce- Reuse- Recycle– In that order. Trash sucks, don’t make it! Check out our sustainable camping tips.

5. Use the sharing economy. Use websites like couchsurfing.comwarmshowers.org, wwoof.net and craigslist.org. The sharing economy is one of our top tips for how to travel the world for free!

6. Buy less stuff and purchase used stuff when you can. You can buy second-hand camping gear, luggage and clothes.

7. Conserve water and electricity. Just be conscious of your usage. Refrain from buying water in plastic bottles by rather taking your own travel water bottle and filling it up with tap water (where safe).

8. Don’t use one time use anything’s (bags, take out containers, bottled water, straws, napkins etc.) Carry your own reusable dishes, cutlery and bags.

9. Positive consumerism. Buy from businesses that are using business for good.

10. Simplify. The less you need the easier it is to be friendly to our planet and to get around.

11. Travel light and carry only what you need (here’s our guide on how to pack lightly). It will force you to interact with the locals.

12. Be conscious. When you make decisions take into account where things come from and how they were produced. If you don’t know then find out. Take action by putting the information you find to good use.

13. Live beyond yourself. How do your actions affect other humans, animals, and the earth? Make your decisions based on the wellbeing of everyone and everything not just you.

14. Lend a hand to the local community. Spend time at orphanages, volunteer at a community kitchen, or pick up trash from the beach. There are so many ways to give back!

15. Help protect wildlife by refusing to purchase wildlife products and take part in tourism activities that include animals.

16. Don’t go where you’re asked not to go. Certain places are out of bounds for a reason – they could be private land, or they could be protected wildlife areas. Respect the rules of both the land and the local community.

Check out these other sustainable travel tips:


Top Costa Rica Travel Tips to Make the Most of your Trip

A popular destination for bird-watching, surfing and adventure sports, from white-water rafting to zip-liningCosta Rica is undeniably touristy, so unless you stay in the middle of nowhere, don’t expect to escape other visitors completely.

However, if you choose your time (don’t go over the Christmas holidays) and destination carefully, you can escape the crowds.

If you’re going to be heading to Costa Rica anytime soon, we’ve got the top Costa Rica travel tips to make the most of your trip to this adventurous country.

Related Read: Costa Rica 7 Day Itinerary

Costa Rica travel tips
Costa Rica travel tips

Top Costa Rica Travel Tips

Follow these top tips for Costa Rica travel to make sure that you have the most enjoyable and memorable trip to Costa Rica.

1. Make Manuel Antonio your home

The small southern Pacific Coast community of Manuel Antonio and the adjoining town of Quepos have an interesting population mix of expats, tourists and locals, making it a fascinating place to spend some time. It’s also very attractive, set amongst lush jungle and boasting alluring beaches.

2. Book a beach/tree house

We did both. We spent one week in a jaw-dropping villa without walls overlooking the jungle and another week at a house just steps from the sand. They were both wonderful, and aside from the luxuries of space and privacy, and the opportunity to cook our own food (we made local dish gallo pinto!), what we loved most were the friendly visits by locals who dropped in unannounced each day. Yes, I’m talking about the monkeys!

We love this Tree House Lodge in Puerto Viejo.

3. Use public transport

There’s no need to hire a 4WD, which is what many guidebooks tell you to do. After heavy rains some of the roads are impassable, so trust me, you don’t want to be behind the wheel – it’s best to be in the back seat of a vehicle driven by an experienced local.

Organize a transfer to your holiday rental, and then use the affordable local buses that frequently run between Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park.

4. Shop the local markets

An excellent farmers market is held in Quepos, running parallel to the waterfront, where you’ll find plenty of fresh local produce for about the same price you’ll pay in the supermarket, only the quality is better. You’ll also find free-range eggs and baked breads and cakes.

5. Do as the locals do

There are all sorts of regular local events happening in Manuel Antonio and Quepos, from yoga classes and football matches to chess tournaments and movie nights, and the friendly locals are more than happy to welcome newcomers.

How much more authentic can travel get?

6. Hit the national parks

Costa Rica has 32 national parks and Manuel Antonio National Park is one of the most popular, with plenty of wildlife to see. On the morning we visited, we spotted sloths, agouti, tent-making bats, blue morpho butterflies, purple and orange tropical land crabs, red and black scarlet tanagers, a laughing falcon, vibrant toucans, glorious iguanas, cute raccoons, and a boa constrictor.

The locals love the wildlife as much as the tourists do, so go with a local, such as the excellent licensed guide we used.

Check out these tours to Manuel Antonio National Park.

Costa Rica travel tips
Visit the sloths in the Costa Rica National Parks

7. Spend time on the sand

The locals seem to live on the beach. It doesn’t matter where they come from but they all have deep dark tans. When we were here we would bump into people we met everyday at the beach – taking their daily walks, collecting seashells, reading a book, riding a horse, throwing a Frisbee, just watching the sunset, or enjoying a surf.

8. Learn to surf

Costa Rica is a popular surfing destination, for locals and visitors alike, so if you don’t surf and you want to do as the locals do, then you need to learn how. There are a couple of surfing schools, but individual instructors came more highly recommended to us by locals, such as long-time surfing teacher Ivan Castillo (batiquepos@hotmail.com) who can be found renting his boards out under a shady tree not far from the lifesavers’ stand.

9. Volunteer

The locals and expats are an active and altruistic bunch, devoting time to all sorts of causes, so why not volunteer a day or at the very least a few hours of your time while you’re there? We participated in a tree-planting event with local schools organized by the Titi Conservation Alliance, aimed at re-establishing a biological corridor for the endangered red backed squirrel monkeys.

When we visited they’d already planted 35,000 trees and planted 650 the day we joined them.

Related Read: Cultural greetings while volunteering in South America

10. Do very little

There’s no denying that it’s hot and humid here, so how do the locals always look as cool as cucumbers? By doing very little, that’s how. The locals have ‘the art of doing nothing’ down to a very fine art. How many destinations can you go to where you can live like locals and take a good old-fashioned lie-on-the-beach holiday at the same time? Manual Antonio, for one, Costa Rica for another.

Costa Rica beaches
The perfect spot to do nothing in Costa Rica

Here’s a few more Costa Rica travel tips


Simple Tips for an Easy Visa Application

Applying for a visa can be one of the most stressful parts of traveling. From figuring out what type of visa you need to how to apply for one and gathering the MANY documents required.

Not to mention getting the timing right to make sure that you get your visa in time!

While we can’t take away all the admin that often comes with visa applications, it is possible to have a relatively easy visa application process.

Here’s a few simple tips to ensuring that you have an easy visa application!

Applying for a visa might seem daunting, but it’s not impossible. Here’s a few visa application tips to help make the process much easier.

Get help if you need it

If you don’t have time to figure out the whole visa application process yourself, or just don’t feel like going through the hassle, then hire a visa application service, like ByeVisa.

ByeVisa are eVisa experts and make international travel simple and stress free. Not only do they provide all the information that you need, but you can apply for your eVisa with them – in just a few clicks!

Not all visa application services assist with all visas. ByeVisa, for example, assists with Canada, USA, Vietnam, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Cambodia eVisas.

Start your application process early

If you know that you’re going to need a visa for the country that you’re visiting, start planning your travels early. Most countries accept visa applications up to 90 days before your date of travel, so don’t wait until the last minute.

While some visas may come through really quickly, others can take a few weeks. Each country has different turnaround times, which you can usually find on their dedicated websites. Be aware that during peak season visa processing can take longer than anticipated.

If you do need a visa in a hurry though, you can always opt for Priority Visa Service (available for certain countries). However, you will need to pay extra for this service.

Make sure that your passport is valid

We often forget to check the expiry dates on our passports, but it’s an important detail for your visa application.

Most visa application requirements include your passport being valid for at least three to six months beyond the date that you plan to leave the destination.

Some visas, like the US ESTA Tourist Visa, may require your passport to be an electronic passport that includes a digital chip with biometric information.

Follow ALL the requirements

You’ll usually be able to find a checklist of the requirements for the visa for your destination. It’s important that you follow ALL of the requirements by getting all of the documentation ready.

The last thing that you want to do is waste a visa appointment slot by getting rejected purely because you left out a document.

The standard requirements are usually:

  • Your visa application form (accurately filled out).
  • Recent passport photos.
  • Valid passport.
  • Round-trip flight details (here’s how to get cheap flights).
  • Accommodation bookings or letter of invitation.
  • Proof of financial means.
  • Travel insurance policy.
  • Proof of paid visa.

Every visa is different, so make sure that your research specifically for the destination that you’re visiting as some might require additional documents.

Depending on the type of visa that you’re applying for, whether it’s a business visa, working holiday visa or long-term visa, you may need further documentation. Some countries may require you to submit a letter of employment from your country.

If you have all of these documents ready beforehand, you’ll more likely have an easy visa application process.

Be clear on your reason for travel

Why do you want to visit that country? You’re going to be asked this question on your visa application form, during your interview (if required), and probably also at passport control when you arrive. So, it’s a good idea to be clear on your purpose of travel (and stick to it).

Are you visiting family? Are you going for work or a conference? Is this purely a holiday trip?

You will be asked to prove your reason. If, for example, you’re going to visit family, you may be required to provide a letter of invitation along with a copy of your family members passport. If you’re going for work, then you’ll likely be required to produce a letter from your work.

Include a cover letter

This tip is mostly geared towards those applying for a Schengen Visa where it’s quite common to include a cover letter in your application.

This is your time to shine, and PITCH yourself. Include your reasons why you’re traveling to the country (including that you love their country), your planned itinerary, your financial means, and your reasons to return home. They want to know what you’re going to be getting up to in their country and that, when your visa expires, you’ll be leaving.

Easy visa applications come to those who are prepared. Do your research, get your documents ready and start the process early!

Travelling in a Pandemic: Crucial Safe Travel Tips

The ongoing lockdown restrictions have most avid travelers itching for their next wanderlust-fueled adventure. However, as we’ve all realized, the global pandemic is forcing us to redefine how we look at ‘safe travel’.

While extensive globetrotting is not advisable right now, travelling in a pandemic means adjusting to a new travel norm: stringent COVID-19 safety protocols!

Travelling in a pandemic

The reality is that there are many risks involved with travelling amid a pandemic. Stepping into this ‘new travel normal’ means equipping yourself with various health and safety guidelines at all times.

While mass international travel may still be a while away, we understand that some travellers may need to start heading off on international business trips or important family visits.

Whether you’re taking an international trip or keeping your travels local, here’s a few crucial safe travel tips for traveling in a pandemic.

Flying in a pandemic
Flying in a pandemic

1. Check the entry restrictions and requirements

Travelling during a pandemic means that you need to get used to doing your research. And we don’t mean simply Googling the most underrated beaches or local places to explore and calling it a day. Before you can begin planning your itinerary, make sure that you fully understand the COVID-19 travel restrictions and entry requirements of the country that you are visiting.

It’s important to note that each country has varying entry requirements. Regularly visiting their official government website means that you will be able to receive all of their specific restrictions in full.

Most countries also require a negative PCR test result taken within 48 to 72 hours before your trip. Remember to leave enough time to get tested and have the results back before you head to the airport to ensure that your test is valid.

2. Get travel insurance

Regardless of where you are heading, travelling during a pandemic means adding travel insurance to your list of must-haves. For those of you considering skipping out on the added expense, it’s worthwhile noting that this level of insurance is crucial.

It’s important, however, to read through the COVID-19 cover that the insurance provider offers. World Nomads, for example, does not cover travel to countries with a COVID travel ban, so familiarize yourself with the exclusions (read more about their Coronavirus cover here).

COVID-19 travel insurance is more of a safe travel essential than it is a safe travel tip. To put it bluntly: you absolutely NEED it, and it’s an additional cost you won’t regret!

Get a travel insurance quote from World Nomads below:

3. Get to the airport early

The days of rushing through the airport doors and catching your flight JUST in time are over.

With new pandemic regulations being enforced, airports now are operating differently. If you have been given the green light to head to your destination, then you need to prepare to jump through a few more hoops once you get to the airport.

Staff are taking measures to ensure that they collect all of your health declarations upon arrival. You could be asked to complete a travel risk assessment, take another rapid COVID-19 test and provide detailed information on where you are going.

As you can imagine, this can be somewhat time-consuming, so arrive early enough to go through all of these necessary health checks.

Here’s a few tips for keeping yourself entertained at the airport.

Travelling in a pandemic
Travelling in a pandemic – expect many screenings.

4. Permits and visas are your new accessories

Paperwork is a large part of travelling in a pandemic. With the tourism industry looking to make a significant comeback, it seems that the only way to access specific destinations is with the help of stay permits and special visas.

Without this documentation you may be refused entry at the border or airport. Ensure that you get all the necessities ready, including your papers and forms in advance! We also suggest printing out a few certified copies of your visa and permit – this will prove to be a total lifesaver!

5. Get ready to quarantine

Again, every country has different quarantine measures in place, so you will have to familiarise yourself with your specific definition. While safety protocols vary from country to country, it seems many destinations require you to quarantine for two weeks before entering the country.

When you plan on travelling back to your home country, you will most likely be asked to undergo another two-week quarantine before you are allowed back in.

It’s also worth highlighting that most travel insurance policies do not cover this mandatory quarantine stay. This means that you will be required to cover this expense out-of-pocket, so you might want to add this cost to your budget planning beforehand.

6. Have flexible plans

Strict planning may not be everyone’s forte, but this pandemic is proof that you always need to prepare for the unexpected – especially when it comes to travelling in a pandemic. Once you land at your destination, you must be aware that many government officials are placing various travel corridors and tiers.

These travel corridors and tiers mean that borders and certain areas may be closed at a moment’s notice if they see a spike in COVID-19 cases. Keeping up with these travel bubbles and tiers can get a little confusing, so your best bet is to keep an eye on travel websites and government sites to keep up to date on travel movements.

It would be in your best interest to pay a little extra for booking flexibility when it comes to your accommodation, flights and any booked tours. That way, if borders are closed, you can change the dates!

Don’t forget to add reusable eco-friendly masks to your travel kit

An alarming number of disposable masks and gloves have been found on beaches across the world. Obviously, this isn’t great for the environment. So, if possible, it’s best to opt for reusable eco-friendly masks instead of the disposable ones.

Here’s a few options:

The reality is that travelling in a pandemic can seem daunting and overwhelming. However, the point isn’t to scare you. The aim here is to ensure that you always understand the importance of staying informed and prepared.  If you follow these safe travel tips, you will be in for a fun (and safe) trip!


Tips for Seeing Melbourne on a Budget

There is no doubt about it; Australia is an expensive place to holiday.

Flights to the continent at the bottom of the earth are costly and then there are accommodation and entertainment costs that will quickly drain a meagre travel budget.

But that is no reason to leave Australia and its second biggest city Melbourne, off your itinerary. We’ve got the tips for how to experience Melbourne on a budget!

No other city in Australia is so diverse and rich in different styles, cultures and lifestyles as Melbourne. There is a Mediterranean atmosphere in the metropolis, which is called the cultural capital of Australia.

Under the influence of the many immigrants who since the start have established in Melbourne, the city has become a melting pot of peoples and cultures. This population composition ensures that the young city in constant motion.

Let’s dive in.

Melbourne on a budget
Melbourne on a budget

Melbourne on a budget

Listed below are some tips for seeing the best that Melbourne has to offer on a tight budget.

Sport

Melbourne is obsessed with Australia Rules Football, a game, as the name suggests that is played only in Australia. A standard ticket to see a game costs more than $20 however at Melbourne’s biggest sporting ground, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), the gates are opened at three quarter time, mainly to allow for the losing side’s supporters to make a humbled exit from the venue. For the budget savvy traveller this means that you can get in and watch the final, and most exciting quarter of a match for free.

Free tourist shuttle

Fancy a free tour around the city of Melbourne? The Melbourne City Tourist Shuttle is just that. This free jump on, jump off bus makes a trip around the city of Melbourne and includes sites such as The Shrine of Remembrance, Southbank, Docklands, The Melbourne Museum and Chinatown. The driver gives a short commentary as the bus makes its one and a half hour round trip and buses run every half hour.

Food at Queen Victoria Market

Eating in restaurants quickly eats up your travel dollars. Self-catering is the way to go if you are on a budget and a great way to combine sightseeing with shopping is by going to the Queen Victoria Market. The Queen Vic, as it is known to locals, has been on the same site since 1878. The deli hall has all sorts of goods from fresh made pastas, sandwich meats and homemade dips. The fruit and vegetable are also fresh and cheap.

Queen Victoria Market is the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere, with over 600 traders selling everything the palate could desire, and shouting out their tempting offerings in traditional market style. On Sunday the produce stalls are replaced with clothing and knick-knacks – great for finding something weird and wonderful. In summer the market is open on Wednesday evenings from 17:30 to 22:00, when it features hawker-style food stalls, music and dance performances.

Explore the art scene

Melbourne is known for its vibrant art scene. A few of the free galleries to check out include the National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, known by the cute acronym ACMI, which has changing displays based on digital culture.

Set in an imposing boom-style terrace, the Alcaston is a contemporary Australian art gallery, focusing on living indigenous artists. The gallery works directly with communities and is particularly attentive to cultural sensitivities. There’s also a space dedicated to works on paper.

However art is not just confined to stuffy galleries in Melbourne. Hosier Lane, near Flinders Street Station is an outdoor gallery of street art which is always evolving. Every available space in the laneway is spray painted, stencilled or postered with designs including the rubbish bins and metal bars of gates and because it’s a laneway it’s always open.

Swan around Albert Park Lake

Hundreds of elegant black swans and a plethora of exotic water birds including pelicans, cormorants and herons will greet you as you stroll around the 5km perimeter of this beautiful lake. Lakeside Drive was used as an international motor-racing circuit in the 1950s, and since 1996 the revamped track has been the venue for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix each March. The lake offers stunning views of down-town Melbourne, so worth the visit for a bit of camera action.

Chinatown for slug dim sum

The red archways across both ends of Little Bourke St’s Chinatown are your gateways to clattering woks, glowing neon, exotic aromas and shops with floor-to-ceiling chambers of medicinal herbs and tinctures. Melbourne’s Chinatown dates back to the 1850s when Chinese prospectors joined the rush to find gold. In the 19th century the single-storey brick buildings once housed brothels, opium dens and boarding houses. It’s the best place for yum cha (dim sum) or sea slug in Sichuan sauce for the adventurous eater!

Flinders Street Station for a schooner in a dirty old boozer!

Melbourne’s first railway station, Flinders Street, was built in 1854 and designed by two railway workers who ensured fabulous facilities for their fellow workers. Sadly the station is in disrepair but in its heyday buzzed with a concert hall, a library, and even a ballroom. Now it’s reportedly one of the busiest train station in the Southern Hemisphere!

Enjoy a schooner (slightly smaller than a pint) in the city’s iconic pub Young & Jackson’s, which sits opposite the station and has been in service for over 140 years. It’s also famous for the naked young lady who hangs around upstairs! The nude portrait Chloe, painted by Jules Lefebvre, caused an outcry in the puritan Melbourne of 1883. Public opposition saw the painting taken down from the National Gallery of Victoria and bought by the hotel in 1908.

Melbourne on a budget, Australia
Flinders Street, Melbourne, Australia

More typical Melbourne experiences

While there are loads of ways to experience Melbourne on a budget. If there’s a little bit of room in your budget to splash out…we recommend some of the below typical Melbourne experiences to add to your bucket list.

Eating and Drinking in Fitzroy Street

Melbourne was founded in 1835 after it was found in the area around the city of gold. The inhabitants of the city are proud. Much more than people from Sydney, they love their city.

The population of Melbourne loves the good life and loves to eat and drink. Throughout the city you can find cheap food and drink, but in some parts of Melbourne going out to eat can get pricey. In the district around Fitzroy Street bars and cafes are piling up.

Melbourne coffee in Brunswick

Around Brunswick Street are the best pubs and bars tucked away in the narrow alleys called laneways, that wind through the area.

Cozy little bars are filled with young and artistic city residents, getting together to the famous Melbourne to drink coffee. Many former residents of the city say they still miss Melbourne’s coffee times.

Federation Square

For a good cup of coffee, you can also go to the Federation Square. This square was built in 2001 to celebrate Australia and the centenary of the state.

The modern design of the square stands in stark contrast to the Victorian buildings that define the face of Melbourne. 

During the long summer evenings it is an ideal place to enjoy the view over the Yarra River and the Botanical Gardens. During the Australian Open tennis tournament, mad people of Melbourne follows the matches on big screens at the Federation Square.

Melbourne Sports City

Melbourne is a sports town as shown by the several major sporting events that are organized every year.

Besides the Australian Open there is also the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix held in Melbourne. The final of the long Australian Rules Football season is played in Melbourne too. Though, these are probably the least budget-friendly times to visit Melbourne.

The most important sporting event is the Melbourne Cup, the horse known as ‘the race that stops the nation’. Dressed in gala dress attracts everyone to the Flemington Race Track to gambling.

Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne
Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix

Steps to St. Kilda Beach

Besides a sports city, Melbourne is also the cultural center of Australia. Every night of the week there are concerts, shows, club nights and festivals organized throughout the city.

The night is long in Melbourne. Only around sunrise are the young people of the city after a party night.

One of the areas holding many nightclubs is St. Kilda. An additional advantage is that just a few steps from the club, you can stretch out on the famous beach of Melbourne.

Budget-friendly accommodation in Melbourne

We’ve searched high and low for the best budget-friendly accommodation options in Melbourne – for all types of travelers!

Boutique Hotel: The Plough Hotel

Part restaurant, part bar, part hotel, this multitasking space was established way back in 1868, but came back on the scene after a heritage-friendly refurbishment in 2013.

Hotel: The Victoria Hotel

A hotel with all the features without a high price: onsite bar, restaurant, fitness centre, plunge pool, spa and sauna. Plus, it’s located in the highly sought-after Little Collins Street.

Hostel: Melbourne Central YHA

Centrally located with both shared dorms and private dorm rooms. If you want to splash out for a private room, you can get a balcony, en suite and coffeemaker (depending which tier you opt for).

Apartment: Cosmopolitan Hotel

A great option for families, offering spacious two-bedroom apartments with a kitchen, lounge area and space to chill out.

More into Airbnbs? Search for Melbourne Airbnbs below:

Interested in the big Australian cities? Check out these posts:

A Guide to the Best Cities in AustraliaA Guide to the Best Cities in Australia

A Self-Guided Walking Tour in Sydney

Reasons to Visit Brisbane, Australia