Driving Abroad: The Mistakes You Don’t Want To Make On Your Travels

We all know that there’s nothing quite like a road trip. The trouble is that driving abroad isn’t always as enjoyable as it looks on the silver screen. If you’re preparing for an adventure on four wheels in far-flung lands, here are some mistakes you don’t want to make.

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Image credit https://pixabay.com/en/nature-road-trip-water-sea-ocean-2571115/

Driving on the wrong side

Even the most experienced driver can come unstuck when it comes to navigating the roads when they are required to drive on the other side of the road. Before you jump in your hire car, check which side you need to drive on and make sure you’re ready for the trip ahead. It can take a while to get your head around looking for traffic in the other direction and moving the opposite way around a roundabout, so go steady, drive carefully, and give yourself plenty of time and space.

Hiring the wrong type of car

It may seem incredibly romantic to cruise along the coast in a classic car or to hire an old-school 4×4 at a local dealer in the middle of nowhere on a remote island, but it’s wise to use your head, rather than your heart when it comes to renting a car. Choose reputable dealers such as Burswood Car Rentals, read customer reviews, and avoid any deals that appear too good to be true. Make sure you check what is included in the fee. Sometimes, the lowest prices are not the best value offers, as they don’t include insurance. You may find that you end up adding a load of extras, which make the total higher than other quotes you received.

Speeding

You may be used to trundling along the motorway at 70mph at home, but speed restrictions are not universal. When you’re in a different country, you need to be wary of the speed limit. Look out for signs, and read up on the rules of the road before you travel. It’s also worth noting that some countries operate in mph and others deal in kilometres. If you get caught speeding, you may not always be able to play the tourist who had no idea about the speed limit card, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Driving like the locals

If you’ve got a line of traffic behind you, or drivers careering past waving their arms at you, you may be tempted to adopt the same driving habits, but resist. When you’re new to driving in a different country, the car is unfamiliar to you, and you don’t know the roads, it’s better to be safe than sorry. As you gain more confidence, you can increase your speed, but try not to panic if cars are weaving in and out of lanes to get around you or they’re driving way over the speed limit. Keep your eyes on the road, and drive at the speed marked on the road signs.

Driving around when you’re on holiday is an adventure. If you have a car or a campervan, you can explore at your own pace, you have freedom to roam, and you can stop whenever you like, but there are potential downsides to consider. Driving in a different country isn’t always plain sailing, and it can be stressful. Hopefully, these tips will help you to avoid mistakes and ensure you enjoy a trip to remember for all the right reasons.

Stress – free travel tips

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Many people like the idea of visiting new places and travelling around the world. What they don’t like quite so much is the stress and pressure that comes with the process of travelling. That’s understandable, but it shouldn’t stop you from experiencing new places because that’s something that everyone can and should benefit from in life. Here are some tips that’ll help take the stress out of travel for you, so make the most of them next time you travel.

Research Your Destination

Before you go anywhere or even finalize your travel plans, you should try to learn as much as possible about where you’re going to. When you are able to do this, you will find that it becomes much easier for you to get to grips with the location when you land. That period of adjustment won’t be so stressful, and you can get on with enjoying your trip right away.

Let Someone Else Do the Work

These days, there are so many businesses out there that are all about organizing your travel plans and doing the hard work for you. If you don’t like making arrangements and working through all the fine details, a company like Gwin’s Travel can do it for you. There’s nothing better for removing stress from the process than outsourcing that process to someone else entirely.

Create a List for Packing

Packing is one of the most stressful things, and it only becomes more stressful for you if you reach your destination only to realize that you forgot to pack some of the things you had needed to take with you. That’s why you should make a packing list long in advance. You can then follow it closely as you pack your bags and, theoretically, nothing should be left behind.

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Be Careful About Mobile Data

You’re probably not going to have a stress-free travel experience if you’re constantly worrying about how you’re going to handle the issue of mobile data. For many people who don’t think about this, they can end up with a massive bill because using data overseas can be costly. Be careful and talk to your provider before you travel to avoid undue stress relating to this matter.

Embrace Comfort

Comfort is really important when you’re travelling, especially if you’re going to be travelling long distances. It’s a good idea to wear clothes that you feel comfortable in, regardless of how stylish they may or may not be. You can also use things like travel pillows or even book business class seats to make your experience even more leisurely and comfortable. It’ll certainly help you get things off to the right start.

Travelling can be stressful if you don’t approach it in the right way. But never let that fool you into believing it has to be stressful because that’s simply not the case at all. There are many ways to achieve hassle-free travel, and these ideas here should help you to get your approach to it right.

 

Make the most of a trip to Mexico

Mexico can have a reputation for being unsafe in some places, but it’s still an extremely popular travel destination. As well as receiving plenty of visitors from the US and its other neighbours, people from all over the world come to enjoy Mexico. Beach resorts are particularly popular, and places like Cancun, Cozumel and Tulum see lots of action. If you’re thinking of taking a trip to Mexico, a bit of planning can go a long way to help you make the most of your time there. There’s lots to see and do, so start thinking about how you want to experience the country.

Learn Some of the Language.

Being fluent in Spanish certainly isn’t necessary if you want to visit Mexico. You can get by with English but, as in any country, the locals will appreciate it if you make an effort. Knowing at least some basic phrases can get you far. Even if it doesn’t help you to understand people more, it can make the locals like you more! Look for the best online Spanish course for your needs if you want to learn. Learning online is a good idea if you want to fit your learning around a busy schedule. You can study when and where you want. But try to get some real-world practice too if you can.

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Credit: Max Pixel

Know How to Stay Safe

Mexico’s reputation for being unsafe isn’t exactly fair. While there are certainly some regions that you wouldn’t want to visit, most tourists are likely to be perfectly safe. Any area that sees a lot of tourism, such as beach resorts, major cities and historical sites, is likely to be safe for you. However, you still need to be careful, just like you do in any other travel destination. Take the usual precautions that you would while travelling to keep you and your possessions safe. One thing you might want to be particularly careful of is taxi scams.

Decide How Much You Want to Spend

Many people will tell you that Mexico is very cheap and you can make your budget go far. While you can find some bargains, you might also discover that locations popular with tourists aren’t always so cheap. If you want to choose a more affordable location, you will generally find that places on the Pacific coast are more affordable than those in the east of Mexico.

Go Beyond the Beaches

 

Mexico has some incredible beaches that can offer you a fantastic stay. However, there’s more to Mexico than just the beaches. There’s a lot more to see, from mountains to plenty of culture in the cities. If you’re going for a beach trip, that’s fine. But if you don’t want to spend all your time on the beach, you can explore further afield. Consider taking a road trip or joining a tour so that you can see more of the country.

Mexico has a lot to offer travellers of all types. If you want to have a memorable trip, keep your mind open about where to go and what to do.

Travelling across Europe

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Europe is huge, so to travel across it would take you a very long time. So, we’re not suggesting that you attempt to tackle it all, but we do think that you should go for some of the best bits. Europe is truly stunning, and there are some incredible destinations that you could visit along your travels. But, we’re bet you’re wondering how we think you would be able to afford all of this? Well, it’s simple. Pack a bag, take a tent with you, and cut out all of the rubbish of hotels and jumping from flight to flight. Once you’re in Europe, getting on a plane and stopping in fancy hotels isn’t what you have to do. There’s so much freedom to pretty much go wherever you want, however you want. If you love the idea of camping, then see if we can get you to travel across Europe!

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Where To Go

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Europe is the perfect mix of city breaks, beach locations, mountainous wonders…and anything else in between. If you’re looking for something that’s super varied, then you’ve pick the right part of the world to travel. If you were looking to explore some incredible mountains, mixed in with beautiful culture and people, then Switzerland is the place to go. It’s arguably one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and it’s landscape revolves around white top mountains, and picturesque villages. If you were looking for something a bit more beachy, then Spain is the place for you. All of the coast of Spain is filled with tourist hotspots, beautiful beach locations, and a pretty cheap time. In both of these locations you will be able to find campsites where you can set up shop, and it’ll be pretty easy for you to get around and explore as well!

What To Pack

It all depends on how long you’re going for. If you’re going for a few weeks, then you’re going to have to pack plenty of pants and socks, and enough clothes for around 10 days. Then, you’ll need to sort your camping equipment, and you’ll definitely need to make sure you get absolutely everything. From a floor topper, to the tent itself, it’s all going to have to come with you. You can see more here if you’re looking to find out what is needed for a camping trip. As long as you have the essentials, you can keep picking things up in every country that you go to. Make sure you also take things like suncream, a pack up phone, and a portable charger with you!

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The Logistics

You can either get around by train, bus, or plane. If you’re taking flights, make sure you find out whether it would be cheaper to get the Euro train, or a cross country train. If you are getting flights, always shop around to make sure you’re getting the best deal!

Brooklyn bridge park

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Brooklyn’s waterfront

The Brooklyn bridge park is a true gem of New York City. With a charming atmosphere and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. The Park represents a reconstruction of the post industrial waterfront, which goes from Atlantic avenue in the South (the Columbia heights neighborhood), under the gorgeous Brooklyn heights promenade, past the impressive Brooklyn bridge, to north of the Manhattan bridge, to the trendy neighborhood of DUMBO (Down under the Manhattan bridge).

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What to see and do

View the iconic Manhattan skyline

The view from the Brooklyn bridge park is one of my favorites places to observe the dramatic Manhattan skyline. On a clear summers day or during a sunset, the view is incredible.

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Bike Ride

Go riding through the lush green park, taking in the views with a cool breeze from the East river. An easy 1.3 mile ride from one of the park to the other.

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Wine and dine

Picnic

With plenty of green space and iconic views, the Brooklyn Bridge park provides a great opportunity to have a picnic and chill out.

Splurge at the River cafe

With a stunning setting, a romantic atmosphere and incredible views, the river cafe is the perfect place to dine on special occasion.

Buzz bar

A chill place to grab a drink and a quick bite to eat. With outdoor seating and live music events this is the perfect place to relax after exploring the Brooklyn Bridge park.

Brooklyn ice cream factory

Satisfy your sweet tooth at the famous Brooklyn ice cream factory. The lines do get long but the ice cream is truly delicious and satisfying on a hot summers day.

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Free events

Take advantage of the events  that the park puts on during the warmer months.

From waterfront workouts, water sports (Kayaking, rowing ect), summer night movies, environmental volunteering days, and books under the bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge park offers something for everyone.

Check out their website for upcoming events – Brooklyn Bridge park website

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Visit the trendy neighborhood of DUMBO

Down under the Manhattan bridge. This area was once a ferry landing, and is characterized as 19th century industrial with warehouse buildings. With its Belgian block streets, the neighborhood definitely has a lot of charm and character. It has now been taken over by hipsters, and is one of New York’s trendiest neighborhoods, with plenty of places for weekend brunch, art events, photo shoots and is also considered to  be the tech hub of Brooklyn.

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DUMBO

Down under the Manhattan Bridge

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Take a photo under the Manhattan Bridge

Stop at the intersection of Water and Washington street to take this iconic photo. It is now one of the most famous Instagram photos of New York City. The view is pretty impressive, with the Manhattan bridge framing the Empire State building.

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The Brooklyn bridge park and surrounding neighborhoods are a true jewel of the city that never sleeps. It is one of my favorite neighborhoods and I always enjoy strolling through this area. It has changed a lot and will continue to do so. This area of the city has so much to offer. I would recommend visiting.

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Brooklyn bridge park night views

 

 

Acadia National Park

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Maine

The breathtaking treasure of the north Atlantic coast, Acadia National Park is located in the state of Maine. Maine is the northeastern most U.S state, and is a part of the “New England” region. The state of Maine, is boarded by the state of New Hampshire to the west, the dramatic Atlantic ocean to the southeast and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec to the northeast and northwest. From its natural beauty, stunning views and friendly and welcoming locals, a trip to Maine is well worth it. And the magical Acadia National Park is the true gem of this charming state.

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Acadia National Park

Acadia National park is one of the oldest U.S National Parks, east of the Mississippi river! It was first established as a National Monument in July 1916, and was then changed to a National Park in 1919. The majority of the 49,052 acres of the park is located on Mount Desert Island, which is the largest Island of the coast of Maine, and is also the 6th largest island in contiguous U.S.

Acadia is the highest rocky headlands along of the Atlantic coastline of the U.S, and has a large abundance of biodiversity. Here you can explore a range of landscapes, from the rocky coastlines, to forests, ponds, marshlands, fields and mountains! A true nature lovers playground.

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Highlights and must sees

Bass Harbor head lighthouse

Visit the charming lighthouse, with views of the rocky coastline, and stay to watch a breathtaking sunset. There are also hiking options from here.

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Sand beach

A gorgeous beach that is nestled between granite mountains and rocky shores.

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Ocean trail

Walk from sand beach to otter cliff. An easy walk, with the most breathing views of the Atlantic ocean.

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Thunder hole

A natural rock inlet where you can see and hear the waves crash with a thunderous boom and high flying foam.

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Park loop road

27 miles long, this route connects the parks lakes, mountains, forests and rocky shores with many observation points along the way. A great introduction to seeing the beauty of Acadia.

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Cadillac mountain

Drive or hike the impressive Cadillac mountain. This gorgeous mountain sits at 1,5350 ft above sea level and provides stunning views of Acadia. The perfect place to watch the sunrise.

Bar harbor

A charming sea side town on Mount desert island, and is known as the gateway to Acadia. With charming boutiques and restaurants this is a popular town to visit when exploring Acadia.

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Acadia National park is a truly magnificent place. There is so much natural beauty and diversity to explore.  It is one of my favorite U.S national parks and a highlight from our travels in the United States. A true gem of the east coast.

 

Blue Ridge Parkway

Heading South

Over the Christmas/New Year holiday period we decided to drive to New Orleans for New Years Eve. We left New York City, five days before Christmas heading south. The only ‘plans’ and accommodation we had wasn’t until the 30th, so we could enjoy the drive and see where we would end up! Looking at the map of the USA, I also decided that I would love to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the way down. So we headed for the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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Scenic drive

The Blue Ridge Parkway is an absolute dream, the scenery is breathtaking.  It is America’s longest linear park, stretching 469 miles, connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Shenandoah National Park. Located in the States of North Carolina and Virginia. Parts of the Appalachian mountains are also included in the parkway.  The Blue Ridge Parkway is a nature lovers dream, rich in biodiversity. There is so much variance in the fauna, flora, climate and geological features.

 

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Peaks of Otter

Before we left NYC, we had decided that we would rather camp in various National forest or State forest camping grounds, so the trip could remain relatively unplanned and be more cost effective. So the first area that we stayed at, was Peaks of Otter,  now being that this was in the middle of December and we did not do any research, the visitor center and camping area is actually closed at this time of year! It was raining and getting late, and as our car is set up for sleeping in ect we still stayed near the visitors center. The next morning we woke up to a blanket of fog, I felt that the thick fog enhanced the beauty. Peaks of Otter surrounds the Jefferson National Forest, and provides breathtaking views. You can take multiple hiking trails near the visitor center. Due to the fog being so thick, we decided to hike the shortest route, the elk run loop. This hike offers a self guided ecology walk, with displays along the walk describing the forest community, very cool.

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Overlooks

Next stop along the parkway, the Head Foremost Mountain overlook and the Arnold Valley Overlook.

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The fog had still not cleared up by lunch time! I can only imagine how spectacular these views are on a clear spring or summers day.

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Curtis Creek

For our second night, we camped at Curtis creek, a camping ground nestled in the mountains at the base of the Blue Ridge mountains. This campsite was open (Closes December 31st) and works on a first come, first serve system.  Near the camp ground, there are multiple hiking trails on offer, plus the pretty creek.

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Nantahala National Forest

After hiking during the morning at curtis creek, we drove to Asheville, N.C to spend the day there ( a separate blog post). After Asheville, we continued the journey towards the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This time, camping in the Gorgeous Nantahala National Forest. Nantahala is Cherokee for “land of the noonday sun” a very fitting name for this beautiful forest. The forest is half a million acres of pristine woodlands. A true beauty to explore. Our campsite for the night was located at Lake Santeetlah, a mountain lake surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest. A really pretty and relaxing place to camp.

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Next stop – The Great Smoky Mountains National Park