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Backpacking travel hacks

Photo by Pawan Yadav from Pexels

Backpacking is an extraordinary opportunity full of excitement and adventure. That being said, it can also be stressful and costly. These travel hacks will help to limit the stress that comes with backpacking, and allow you to fully focus on the adventure. 

  • Use private browsing
  • Roll your clothing
  • Buy a portable phone charger
  • Take advantage of credit card offers
  • Stay for free 
  • Adapt your travel style
  • Rely on Wi-Fi
  • Use WhatsApp
  • Download Google Translate 
  • Keep rechargeable batteries in the fridge 

Use private browsing 

When booking any kind of travel, always use private browsing. Travel sites can monitor when you have visited their website and what you have searched for by installing cookies on your browser, which can lead to inflated prices. Using private browsing prevents these sites from monitoring your activity and will guarantee you the best travel prices. 

Photo by Peter Olexa from Pexels

Roll your clothing

Travel backpacks do not have a lot of room, so space-saving techniques are essential. One space-saving technique is to roll your clothing rather than fold. Rolling your clothing will make it much easier to arrange them inside your backpack and will also limit the creases on each garment. Alternatively, you can also use your clothing to wrap up valuables that you want to take with you, such as a camera. 

Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

Buy a portable phone charger 

Although there will be places to charge your phone on your travels, there is no guarantee that your phone won’t completely run out of battery before you get there. It is vitally important to have a charged phone with you at all times whilst you are backpacking, so that you can look up directions, book transport, or in case of emergencies. Investing in a portable phone charger is the best way to guarantee that your phone always has a good amount of battery left in it. Just make sure that you remember to charge your portable charger before leaving for the day. 

Photo by ready made from Pexels

Take advantage of credit card offers

There are several credit card companies that offer lucrative deals perfect for backpackers. These can include travel insurance deals, travel points, and allowing you to use your card in multiple different countries without additional charges. Thoroughly research the pros and cons of several different credit card options, and decide whether it is worth signing up for one. You may find it is the easiest option for you. 

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

Stay for free

If you are an avid backpacker you may have made friends and connections in places that you have previously visited. Alternatively, you may be backpacking to a country that you have never visited before but know someone who lives there. Either way, make use of your connections and try and get free accommodation for a few nights. As long as you trust the individual that you are asking to stay with, there is no harm in requesting if you can sleep on their sofa for a couple of nights. It may end up saving you a lot of money. 

Photo by Tim Samuel from Pexels

Adapt your travel style

If you are travelling to different countries, or even different areas of the same country, you will have to adapt your travel style to reflect how pricey the area is. You will find that in some places, such as capital cities, accommodation, food, and activities are more costly than in smaller towns and villages. Before heading to your next destination, do some research. If the area is costly, find free activities and consider staying in a hostel rather than a hotel. If the area you are heading to isn’t as pricey, don’t restrict yourself. Spend a little bit more money on accommodation or eating at a nice restaurant. Backpacking is all about balance. As long as you have enough money to get yourself safely from one location to another, it’s perfectly acceptable to use the rest of your money to treat yourself. 

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels

Rely on Wi-Fi 

Some countries you visit will charge you for making calls and sending texts outside of the country. Don’t risk these charges and instead rely on Wi-Fi. Most areas you visit will have places that supply Wi-Fi, such as restaurants, cafes, and hotels. Use these services to stay in touch with friends and family. Wi-Fi is free, so don’t risk any additional charges by using your phones data. 

Photo by Uriel Mont from Pexels

Use WhatsApp

Texting and calling to a phone outside of the country you are in can incur additional charges. Rather than texting or calling, download WhatsApp on your phone and use it to stay in contact with friends and family. WhatsApp is a messaging platform that uses Wi-Fi to keep you connected. You can send messages, phots, videos, and even call other WhatsApp users completely free of charge. Make sure to download the app before you leave and encourage the people you want to stay in touch with to do the same. 

Photo by Alok Sharma from Pexels

Download Google Translate

As you are backpacking you will encounter an array of different languages. Although you may encounter people who speak the same language as yourself, you will have a much more authentic experience of the countries you are visiting if you interact with the locals, including speaking to them in their native language. Download Google Translate so that you can quickly and efficiently translate what people are saying, and form a cohesive response. Overtime you may find yourself picking up phrases and learning parts of the language. 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Keep rechargeable batteries in the fridge

It may sound strange to keep batteries in the fridge, but it is incredibly effective. Most rechargeable batteries retain 90% of their full charge when they are kept in cooler temperatures. When you get back from a long day of sightseeing, put your batteries in the fridge overnight and by the time you go out the next day they will be ready to use again. 

Photo by PhotoMIX Company from Pexels

Never run out of clothing whilst you are backpacking. Laundryheap operates internationally, from the UK to the USA, Singapore to Bahrain, you can check if Laundrheap operates in your next backpacking destination by heading to the Laundryheap website or downloading the free Laundryheap app. 


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Visiting Dubai: The Do’s and Do Not’s

Dubai is a city known for being technologically and architecturally advanced, yet it is incredibly traditional and religious. That is why we have made this guide of Do’s and Do Not’s for your visit to Dubai.

Do

  • Dress respectfully 
  • Take taxis
  • Drink tap water 
  • Leave the city 
  • See the Burj Khalifa

Dress respectfully

Dubai is a traditional Islamic city so dressing conservatively is highly advised. It’s suggested that women wear loose-fitting dresses and skirts, and men trousers and jeans coupled with long sleeve tops. However, just because you have to dress conservatively, it doesn’t mean you can’t dress fashionably. Dubai is one of the capital cities of fashion, where men and women alike love to experiment with colours, fabrics, and patterns. So, be fashion-forward with your conservative attire. 

Take taxis 

Taxi services in Dubai are reasonably priced and a great way to escape the heat and travel around the city. Additionally, if you are planning a wild Dubai night out, it’s best to plan to get to the club via taxi. It’s an offence in Dubai to be seen on the street intoxicated and could lead to a fine or even a month in prison. Better to be safe and book your taxi to and from the club than risk a prison sentence. 

Image by Fabio Achilli

Drink tap water 

Despite popular debate, it is safe to drink tap water in Dubai, so give it a taste. If you are still dubious, there are hotels that will import bottled water from Europe, however, due to the lack of environmental sustainability importation promotes, drinking imported water should be avoided. Instead, ask for locally sourced bottled water to avoid the harm to the environment and avoid the tap. 

Leave the city 

Dubai is a beautiful cosmopolitan city, but there is a lot to explore just outside the city walls. Take a trip to the desert one day and experience life beyond the city of Dubai. Desert safari experiences can be bought at a range of prices, and often involve a camel ride. Go wild for a day and return to the civilisation of the city later on. 

Image by alfonso venzuela

See the Burj Khalifa 

No Dubai trip is complete without seeing the Burj Kalifa. Standing 829 meters tall, the Burj Kalifa is the tallest building in the world and an architectural sight to behold. You can pay to see Dubai from the buildings viewing platform 555 meters up, or be shadowed by the building as you observe it, for free, from below. Either way, your trip to Dubai will not be complete without visiting this spectacular structure. 

Don’t

  • Wear swimwear away from the water
  • Take photos of government buildings 
  • Eat or drink in public during Ramadan 
  • Engage in PDA
  • Make big plans on a Friday

Wear swimwear away from the water 

As previously discussed, Dubai has a conservative dress code; this code also applies to swimwear. When at the beach or a pool it is completely acceptable to wear any form of swimwear that you desire. However, as soon as you step out of the water, you must be conscious of your clothing and consider throwing on a dress or shirt over your swimwear. 

Image by Sakena

Take photos of government buildings

Regardless of where you go on holiday you always want to take a few snaps for the memories. Dubai is home to some of the most extraordinary modern-day buildings that, undoubtedly, need to be caught on camera. This being said, be mindful not to capture any government buildings as, for security reasons, this is strictly prohibited.  

Image by Michael Theis

Eat or drink in public during Ramadan 

During the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims will take part in Ramadan where they will fast during daylight hours. If you are visiting Dubai during Ramadan the locals won’t expect you to take part in the festival, however, you must be respectful towards those who are. If you want to eat and drink during daylight hours there are a handful of cafes and restaurants that stay open, however, you’re options will be limited. Alternatively, you can eat and drink in your room until the sun goes down. 

Image by George Shahda

Engage in PDA 

Public Displays of Affection (PDA) are a strong offense in Dubai. Everything from a kiss on the cheek to hugging in public is considered indecent. At a push, a married couple may hold hands, but even that is pushing the boundaries of acceptability. To avoid causing offense, it’s best to save showering your other half in affection until you return to your hotel room.  

Make big plans on a Friday 

Friday is considered a holy day in Dubai and is therefore not for working. Don’t worry, the whole city doesn’t grind to a halt, but you should expect there to be a limited number of amenities open. Bear this in mind when planning your Dubai trip and consider having a beach day on Friday. 

Image by Dr. Norbert Heidenbluth

Whatever you’re plans are in Dubai, do make sure that you use Laundryheap for all your holiday laundering needs and do not miss out on the opportunity to enjoy your trip in the freshest smelling clothes. 


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Challenges Of Travelling Solo

Solo travelling can be an experience like no other! With no friends or family with you, it can be easy to begin daydreaming about sleeping in with no judgement or stuffing our faces day after day, guilt-free. 

Travelling solo can indeed produce a wealth of excitement and adventure. It is also true that it brings with it some real struggles. One day your drinking at a hostel bar with new your new fascinating international friends, the next you might find yourself alone and lost in one of the less friendly neighbourhoods in town. If you are thinking of giving solo travelling a try, then make sure know what you are getting yourself into. 

  • Breaking the news to friends and family that you will be solo travelling
  • Having to make new friends 
  • Bringing your bag with you EVERYWHERE
  • Not speaking to anyone for a whole day (or more)
  • Relying on selfies
  • No one to split the bill with 
  • Getting lost on your own
  • Feeling sick with no one to look after you
  • Having no one to share your experiences with 

Breaking the news to friends and family that you will be solo travelling

This is something anyone who has considered travelling solo will understand. Before your dream is even close to becoming a reality, expect your parents to ask you thousands of time: “Why would you want to travel ALONE?!”. The same applies to close friends who might take offence to you wanting to travel on your own instead of with them. 

Getting questioned by your friends and family is always the first struggle solo travellers face themselves with. Some will question your motives for travelling solo, some your capacity to make friends and others might question your ability to survive on your own! Nearly 100% of the people bombarding you with such questions would have never been solo travelling themselves. They might not understand the numerous reasons there are for wanting to see the world on your own. Don’t let these initial reactions from people put you off of your dream. 

Having to make new friends 

The fear of not making new friends when travelling alone is probably number one on most peoples list of worries about travelling solo. Images flash through our minds of us sitting alone at a hostel bar, no one wanting to talk to us, checking our phones habitually for any human contact we can find.  

This reality can be especially true for those of us who are more introverted and don’t make friends as easily as others. It might be that you are surrounded by more brash extroverts who prevent you from getting a word in or just that you find it hard to build enough courage to start a conversation with someone. Thankfully, there are some suggestions to combat this struggle. You can always book day trips where you find plenty of like-minded solo travellers also looking for friends. Better yet, you could use this opportunity as a chance to grow your social skills and push you out of your comfort zone. 

Bringing your bag with you EVERYWHERE

Picture this, you have just arrived at your destination after 8 excruciating hours on a bus with no toilet on board. In a desperate hurry, you grab your bags and head full steam ahead for the bathroom. Just as you enter the door of the bathroom, you realise no one is with you to look after your bag, meaning you have to stuff yourself and your two oversized bags into the cubicle with you. 

This situation isn’t unique to bus stations, though. Want to go to the toilet in Mac Donald’s? Better bring your bag. Want to check out that beautiful view at the top of the hill? Be sure to take your bag. With no one around to watch out for your stuff, you have to be extra vigilant and ensure you bring your luggage with you EVERYWHERE when travelling from one spot to another. 

Not speaking to anyone for a whole day (or more)

The thought of spending some time alone could seem appealing to some people thinking of travelling solo. Although not all people quite realise just how much time they will spend alone. It is pretty common to leave the hostel in the morning, explore the city all day, and return at night without having said a word to anyone. Especially if you are in a country with locals who speak little English. 

While this can sound like heaven to some people, others aren’t as keen on their own company. This can often induce feelings of loneliness in people. The best way to avoid this problem is to hang around the hostel bar – strike up a conversation with the barman and your fellow travellers. Ask about their time in the city, or their experiences travelling so far, you might just find out some useful tips. You could end up finding yourself the perfect companion to accompany you on your next exploration around the city. 

Relying on selfies

A common theme for most solo travellers is that their photo albums only consist of two types of photos: photos of incredible views; and selfies with said incredible views in the background. You want to capture this once in a lifetime moment, but also don’t want to look like an obnoxious tourist carrying a selfie stick around. 

The only solution to this struggle is to ask a stranger to take a picture of you. It could be helpful to learn how to ask for a photo in the local language. This might seem like an impossible challenge, but it could be the only way to get that photo you so desperately desire.

No one to split the bills with

Splitting the bill on holiday is a ritual many of us take for granted. We all have glorious memories of enjoying delicious meals with friends on holiday and not being able to believe how cheap it was when divided up in the group. 

This problem doesn’t just relate to your time spent eating out on holiday. That cab from the airport would be 1/2 the price if you had 2 friends with you. That private hotel room with two beds inside would also be 1/2 the price if you had someone else to share with. As a solo traveller, you have to get used to eating all the costs throughout your trip. There isn’t an easy answer to this problem, you can use tools like Uber Pool to split the cost of taxis, but you will need to find friends to dine with if you want some help covering dinner. 

Getting lost on your own

Having two heads instead of one when navigating your way around a new city comes with its advantages. When you get lost in a new place with a friend, it can be an exciting adventure that you will one day retell to all your friends. When you get lost in a foreign place on your own, it can quickly become a scary experience, especially as darkness starts to creep into the sky. 

The best thing you can do if you find yourself in this sort of situation is to remain calm and remind yourself that if you got yourself to this point, then you can yourself back to your hostel. It might be a good idea to carry a business card from your hotel or hostel or take down the address on a piece of paper. That way you’ll always have the address to get home, even when your phone has run out of battery. Another tip would be making the most of the free city maps you find in almost every hotel or hostel reception.  

Feeling sick with no one to look after you

It’s never nice getting sick, especially when you are on holiday, and even more so if you are alone. No one wants to be the person in a hostel dorm keeping everyone up all night, with there sneezes and coughs, not to mention the fear of spreading the illness. 

With no friend to confide in and tell you it’s going to be OK, you can find yourself calling your parents at awkward times to describe your symptoms in the hope they have the magic cure. If you do get sick while travelling solo, take the time to slow down, get some rest and take the break your body is clearly crying out for. It could be a solid move to treat yourself to that private hostel room to ensure you don’t alienate yourself from the rest of the backpackers by keeping them up all night.

Having no one to share the experience with 

There will be various times throughout your solo journey that something unbelievable will appear in front of you, you will be dying to discuss this phenomenon, but alas, you will be alone. This can often be a strange realisation for travellers when they find themself faces with incredible beauty but have no one to discuss it with. 

That is not to say these moments can’t still be enjoyed when you are alone. Times like this are perfect for self-reflection or journaling your experiences. It will also help you to appreciate your own company and eventually realise some moments are more special when only experienced by yourself.

If you are travelling solo and you are lucky enough to end up in one of the cities we operate in, why not choose Laundryheap as your new laundry companion. We are currently based in London, but our services are available in London, Manchester, Coventry, Birmingham, New York, Dublin, Dubai, Sharjah and Amsterdam.