Things I learnt while planning my round the world trip




It will be the trip of a lifetime, navigating yourself round the world, while experiencing different cultures, and tasting new cuisines.


Planning a round the world trip (RTW) can be time consuming, and with only a few weeks left until I depart on my own adventure, I wanted to share what I have learnt from my experience.


Research your trip


Researching your trip can save you a lot of time and money when you reach your chosen destination, but you should only read information from knowledgeable, trusted sources, because there is a lot of inaccurate content published on the internet.


Smart phone apps are brilliant for planning


Technology has advanced somewhat since the first mobile phone came on to the market over thirty years ago, and booking accommodation while on the road has huge benefits - obviously, providing you have access to free WiFi, or an affordable international SIM card with a decent data plan. 


For accommodation my favourite apps are and Airbnb. Tripit is a useful app for keeping track of your trip, and allows you to log flights, hotels, and restaurant reservations. The Trip Advisor apps are helpful for browsing reviews, and reading travel guides offline (if you download them).


Hotel cancellation policies


There is a likelihood that you will change your plans, and if this is your first time travelling for a significant period of time, you might be tempted to book your accommodation in advance – if you feel the need, book a hotel that does not have a strict cancellation policy. Make sure that you can cancel the hotel up to a few days before you arrive; this gives you the comfort and flexibility to change your mind.


When booking any part of your trip, make sure you have read through the booking terms and conditions and look for any hidden charges – I discovered one hotel that had a ludicrous charge for paying by credit card, and many hotels in SE Asia only accept cash.







ATM charges


If are a UK resident, think about opening up an account at the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society because they do not charge for transactions abroad, both withdrawing cash at ATM’s and when using your debit card in shops, restaurants, etc. 


Bear in mind though that in some countries, the banks add on a hefty ATM fee – in Thailand: banks charge foreign card users 180BHT per transaction, that’s nearly £3.50!


Do you have any tips from lessons you’ve learnt while planning your RTW trip?   I hope this helps you plan your round the world trip – it’ll be an adventure, so make sure you enjoy every moment, and remember, what you’re creating are memories that will last a lifetime.


by Darren Cronian



Disclosure: Darren is travelling on a Navigator round the world ticket which is valid for 12 months and is date changeable free of charge. His RTW consultant is Stuart, the handsome one.

Choosing the Best Tablet for Your Travels



If you're going to take a tablet computer along on your travels, it has to do several things well. It needs to be light while also remaining durable. Battery life needs to be good enough to get you through a long-haul flight, and it needs to have plenty of storage for your apps, photos and entertainment.

Whether you need cellular data or not will depend on how connected you really want to be, and what other devices you travel with. You'll pay quite a bit extra for 4G tablets, so if you're happy with using Wi-Fi instead or can use your phone as a hotspot, this is a good place to save some money.

Here are my recommendations for both small/medium tablets and their full-size cousins.

Best small to medium sized tablet

If your priority is to keep luggage size and weight down, go for a small to medium-sized tablet with a screen size of 8.5 inches or less. That's about the limit for being able to comfortably hold it in one hand, and it will fit easily into a jacket pocket or small bag.

Samsung makes (far too) many different tablet models, but it's the Tab S 8.4 that shines for travellers. While the 16GB of onboard storage isn't great, a microSD slot lets you add extra space cheaply when you need it. It also includes 50GB of Dropbox cloud storage free for two years, which is handy for keeping those holiday snaps backed up.

It's slim and light, with a fast processor, bright, high resolution screen and battery that should see you through a day of moderate use. The Wi-Fi version is around £265 on Amazon.

For a cheap yet surprisingly decent option, consider the Asus MeMo Pad 7. For £99 you'll get a thin 7” tablet with good battery life, 16GB of storage plus a microSD slot for extra space, and a nippy processor.

I can't recommend Apple's iPad Mini 3. At £319 for the base model and £90+ more for one with reasonable storage, it's just too expensive compared to the competition. You'd be better off looking elsewhere or waiting for a new version later this year, but if you must have a small Apple tablet right now, the older Mini 2 has similar specifications and costs £80 less.



Best large tablet

If you're not travelling with a laptop, consider a full-size tablet instead – the extra screen size makes watching video and reading books and web pages easier, although you'll likely need a stand or both hands for extended use.

When cost isn't a concern, the iPad Air 2 is the best large tablet out there. The bright, high-resolution 9.7” screen and blazingly fast processor is coupled with a sleek, lightweight design. The battery will last a full day under all but the heaviest loads, and if you're one of those people who insists on taking video with their tablet, you can do it in full HD.

You'll need to shell out £399 for the base model with 16GB of storage, or £479 for a more useful 64GB.

The Samsung Tab S 10.5 (the bigger version of my earlier pick) is also a compelling choice. It has a super-high resolution 10.5” screen, will last a remarkable 14 hours when watching video and has the same microSD slot for storage upgrades. You'll pay around £345 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version.

For those who don't know whether they'd prefer a laptop or tablet, many hybrid devices aim to provide the best of both. Most don't even get close, but one that does is the £349 Asus Transformer T200. It performs well as a Windows-based tablet, with a sharp 11.6” screen and 32GB of inbuilt storage, but it's the included keyboard dock that makes it shine. You'll get extra battery life, a 500GB hard drive and, obviously, a real keyboard when needing to type anything longer than a few sentences.

by Dave Dean

What's the Best Laptop For Your Round-The-World Trip?



Thinking of buying a laptop for your round-the-world trip? While most travellers can get by with just a smartphone or tablet, many still want a decent keyboard, larger screen and plenty of computing power on tap. Handheld gadgets are catching up fast, but especially for those who work from the road, notebooks and laptop/tablet hybrids remain firmly on the packing list. Here's what to look out for in 2015.


Apple Macbook Air


If you're an Apple fan, the decision is easy. The Macbook Air is a thin, lightweight, durable and attractive laptop, with enough speed and storage options to keep all but the most demanding users happy. While the 11” base model is very limited, spending an extra couple of hundred pounds yields major benefits. For £979 you'll get 8GB of memory for a faster, more useful machine, and a 256GB drive so you won't run out of space for photos before the end of your trip.


The Air is backed with good support, especially if you're travelling in one of the 16 countries with physical Apple stores where it can be dropped in for repair. If you'll be on the road after the initial twelve month warranty runs out, it's worth paying extra for Apple Care to extend it for another two years.


Dell XPS 13


Dell released an updated version of the XPS 13 in January, and it's one of the best travel laptops out there. The company has managed to squeeze a 13” screen into an 11” body, so it's easy to fit in a small daypack. It weighs 2.8lbs, and unusually for Dell, the base model is actually worth buying. For £1099 you'll pick up a machine with a speedy i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB drive, up to 12 hours of battery life and a super high-resolution touch screen.


Like the Air, the XPS 13 is extremely thin, but making the body from aluminum and carbon fibre means it's still durable enough to handle the inevitable knocks. The laptop comes with a 12 month next business day warranty, which can be upgraded up to an extra three years. For under fifty pounds you can also get accidental damage cover for liquid spills, drops and power surges – all of which are depressingly likely on the road.


Microsoft Surface Pro


Hybrid laptop/tablets are becoming increasingly popular, letting you have a full keyboard when you need it and a touch-screen entertainment device when you don't. There are dozens of hybrids out there, but one of the best is the Microsoft Surface Pro 3.


It comes with a high-resolution 12” touch screen (including a stylus), and has the power to run Windows 8 and almost any app without skipping a beat. It's a remarkably light 1.8lbs, although the fancy clip-on cover that includes an integrated keyboard for doing real work does add a bit of extra weight.


The Surface Pro doesn't come cheap, unfortunately – for a comparable specification to the Air or XPS 13, including the Smart Cover, you're looking at £1219. Still, if you can bag a special offer, this is a great device to travel with.


Asus Chi T100 

If you like the idea of a hybrid Windows laptop/tablet, but can't justify spending £1000+ on it, check out the Asus Transformer Book range instead. While they aren't really designed for handling high-end tasks, writing documents, editing photos and browsing the web aren't a problem, and you'll pay a lot less for them.


Asus has just announced updates across the range, and although the release date hasn't been announced yet, the T100 Chi looks like the one to beat for travellers. It will come with 2GB of RAM, a 1920x1200 screen and up to 128GB of storage, is just over 7mm thick and includes a  detachable keyboard. By itself it weighs less than 1.3lbs – the keyboard adds an extra pound or so.


The best part? If the US pricing is anything to go by, the starting price should only be around £300 when it hits UK shelves.

Did I miss any? What's your choice of travel laptop?


by Dave Dean

Five things I have learnt on my round the world trip




Last week I was kayaking towards the amazing Angthong National Marine Park in Thailand. Today, I am sat on my balcony, overlooking Lake Toba on Samosir Island. Travelling round the world comes with its own challenges and after seven weeks exploring SE Asia, I have learnt a lot of lessons that I would like to share with you.


Expect travel issues


This is the last thing you want to read when you’re planning a round the world trip, but things happen that are out of your control. You will find yourself in stressful situations, like struggling to find your hostel late at night, flight delays, and occasionally being ripped off. I’m afraid it happens. Just take a deep breath, smile and remember that your family and friends are either sat in an office working, or getting drenched cycling to work.


Travel light


Prior to starting my RTW trip I spent countless hours deciding if I should take one cabin size backpack, or, check in a large backpack. My concern was that the airline could lose my luggage, and I wouldn’t be in one place long enough to get it back. In the end I opted for a 46-litre backpack. I jump off the plane (of course, not literally!), through security, and walk straight past the baggage claim area, with a smug grin on my face.


For clothing, pack three of everything; so three t-shirts, three pairs of shorts etc. After you’ve packed your backpack, go through it again and remove any items that you don’t really need – be strict with yourself, you will not regret it.


Don’t look vulnerable


When you arrive at a new destination, walk through that exit with confidence – big striding steps, smile on your face, sending out the message that you know which direction you are heading in and how you are getting there. Walk around looking like a lost little sheep will send out a signal that you’re vulnerable, and the locals will pounce.


I walked through Kualanamu International airport in Medan, Indonesia looking stressed because my bankcard wouldn’t work in the ATM, and local tricksters pounced on me.







Be a responsible traveller


I have a problem with animals like elephants being used to entertain tourists, and cringe at the thought of them being made to do stupid acts like kick a football and do circus tricks. So, while in Thailand I went to an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai where I learned more about the dwindling numbers of elephants in the country (approx. 3,000 left), and helped feed them. Of course, this tour was aimed at tourists, but it was much more ethical in my eyes. It is important that you are responsible about the places that you visit on your travels.


Have a great travel agency behind you


Having a reputable travel agency behind you can be the difference between a trip of a lifetime, and a trip from hell. There is no doubt that your travel plans will change, and having the support of a travel agent helps make the trip stress free. I wouldn’t have said that five years ago, but for a round the world trip they’re an essential part of it.


Singapore next!



by Darren Cronian


Disclosure: Darren is travelling on a Navigator round the world ticket which is valid for 12 months and is date changeable free of charge. His RTW consultant is Stuart, the handsome one.

round the world tips



Today, I am sat in a café overlooking the Pacific Ocean, in the small town of Kaikoura, New Zealand; it’s a beautiful place.  Reflecting the last five months of my round the world trip, it has been a thoroughly positive experience, but here are some tips that I would like to share.