Spain is one of the most fascinating countries in the world. Packed with famous landmarks, stunning scenery, rich history and a vibrant culture – why wouldn’t you want to visit? Well, you’re not alone. With more than 82 million visitors a year, tourism in Spain is big business – and if you’re not careful, you can easily find yourself trapped with the crowds, eating in overpriced restaurants with little more than tacky souvenirs to remind you of your trip – a far cry from the real Spain. If you really want to escape the tourist traps, keep these tips in mind.

Listen to those who know

Very often, simply talking to someone who has been somewhere many times and knows it intimately is the best way to find out what to avoid. Seasoned travellers and expats often have a lots of great recommendations. And don’t forget to ask your hotel concierge or taxi driver – they generally avoid tourist places when they go out, so it’s a perfect way to get great advice from experienced locals who really know their town.

Of course, when you’re next enjoying your café con leche in the one of the street cafes, why not strike up conversation? Even if you don’t speak Spanish, arm yourself with a few useful phrases and you’ll be surprised just how much a friendly local will help you. People love giving their opinions and this has worked for me on many occasions.

Steer away from the obvious locations

While Spain’s famous landmarks are stunning, you can often find similarly amazing places just round the corner and far away from the tourist hubbub. The extremely popular Las Ramblas in Barcelona is just a few minutes away from the much more local-friendly Rambla del Poblenou, and while the Plaza Mayor in Madrid is wonderful, you’ll soak up just as much of the amazing Madridian atmosphere at the far less busy market El Rastro.

Similarly, make time for smaller museums such as the Sorolla house museum in Madrid and you’ll have a far more relaxed experience. Indeed, why not avoid the tourist trap completely and visit some of the many equally historic and picturesque smaller cities such as Cáceres and Girona, where you’ll often find the Spanish taking their weekend breaks? The magnificent Segovia and stunning Córdoba are packed with history and offer a real alternative to the traditional tourist-thronged major cities.

Follow the history, art and food

Dig into Spain’s vast history and you’ll be leaving the hordes of tourists behind. Visit the region of Extremadura for the country’s finest Roman ruins and mysterious medieval cities, while also enjoying its amazing scenery, food and wine practically tourist-free! Experience Dali first hand without the crowds by visiting the lesser-known Pubol Castle in Girona, while Colonia Guell brings you closer to Gaudí without the bustle of Barcelona.

Wherever you are however, find the best street for traditional tapas and pintxos and enjoy a piece of Spanish life without the queues. You’ll also notice there are plenty of so-called authentic flamenco shows, but these are typically just for tourists. To experience the true flamenco spirit, go to dances in crowded local bars or old gypsy caves.

Take your time

Finally, rather than sticking to a rigid agenda and whizzing from one place to the next, explore at your own pace. Going late in the day after the crowds have left or getting up early is an ideal way to avoid the busy tourists. Arrive just after sunrise and a familiar tourist trap won’t feel half as busy.

It’s also worth taking a tip from the locals and relax in the plazas or take a paseo (a slow walk around town). You couldn’t find a less touristy thing to do – it’s quite simply how the Spanish wind down. In fact, follow what they do and eat when they do and you’ll soon wonder where all the tourists are. A large vermouth before lunch or some churros in the late afternoon may seem strange, but you won’t see tourists doing this and it must mean something for the Spanish to enjoy it so much. So go ahead and order one!

There is so much this country has to offer. Get away from the traditional tourist traps and your holiday will be filled with wonderful memories of the real magic of Spain.

How To Get Away From The Tourist Traps In Spain

 

Cuddle Fairy

There’s nothing quite like a road trip when it comes to feeling the wind in your hair and the thrill of the open road. Road trips are a cheap way to truly get down to some proper exploring, and they can be physically and mentally rewarding too. Far cheaper than flights, road trips also give you total control over your destination and your stops. However, if you want to trim the budget even more, then these hacks from professional travellers might see you being able to afford a road trip much more often. Escape your comfort zone without worrying about your wallet, and embrace the open road in search of adventure.

Slow down

When the long, empty road is ahead of you, it’s always going to be tempting to slam your foot on the accelerator and speed along the route. Doing so might get you to your destination faster, but it could also end up costing you a lot more money. Not only will speeding leave you open to the risk of being stopped and fined, but driving aggressively has been proven to waste your gas too. Slow down, relax, and reduce your gas spend by up to a massive 30%. Of course, taking your time means that you also get to enjoy the atmosphere of your surroundings, and that’s always going to be worth more than how high you get your speedometer. There are some great ways to drive that can save you fuel money, so forget driving fast and concentrate on driving smart.

Consider your transport

If you’re planning to drive your own car, then you need to make sure that it is ready for the journey. Book it in for some maintenance because a breakdown mid-route could end up being very expensive while also ruining your journey. Most professional travellers understand that the best way to reduce car risks is to rent a car for the journey. Car rental is an excellent way to ensure that you get a more comfortable vehicle that is absolutely suited to the needs of you and your passengers. Chose a new model and you’ll even get the perks available, and those too can be a money-saver. Look at renting a car, and you may find that your expenses suddenly drop.

Plan your food

While it’s always nice to eat out in a new restaurant, those food stops can quickly become an extravagant expense. Three meals a day in diners and fast food places still mean spending money that you may not want to waste. Instead of pulling into the nearest restaurant, consider stopping at a supermarket as an alternative option. Grocery stores are a great way to save money on food. By getting a little more creative in the supermarket, you can save your budget, and be healthier too. You could even prep some meals and snacks to take along with you. Make sure that you have tools and utensils with you, and your wallet will thank you as you continue driving by all of those roadside diners.

Take the advice of professional travellers, and your road trip needn’t be a budget-buster. Plan your trip in advance, and you might just end up rushing to the car every time you have a spare weekend, and all without breaking your bank account too.

Post Comment Love

Anyone that has ever set foot inside zone 6 will know that London is famous for being much more expensive than anywhere else in the UK. Of course, the folks that live there just seem to put up with it, but for someone travelling from another city or country, it can be a big shock! Luckily, there are plenty of ways to see this beautiful city and experience what it has to offer that won’t clear out your wallet before you’ve even begun. Read on to find out what they are.

london

 

Image here

Public transport

One of the best ways to see the city is to use the buses, trains, and tubes that crisscross its borders. It one of the cheapest ways as well, and much less expensive than using black cabs or even Ubers.

In fact, you can buy a day travel card that will allow you to use any public transport within zones 1 (central London ) to 6 (outer London) and in-between. You can even use your debit card at the touch ticket points now, and it will automatically take off the cost of your journey up to a set amount. Something that can be hugely convenient and save you money and that you can read more about here.

Museums and galleries

Now, one of the best things to do in London that will cost you nothing is to visit the many galleries and museums that are located there. Something that you can find out more about in my post here.

Of course, one of the most favoured being The National History Museum situated on Cromwell Road. There you will find collections and exhibits on Space, the Ocean, Human Evolution, and most famously Dinosaurs. The building itself built by Alfred Waterhouse in 19th Century is also noteworthy, and of course you can miss the Blue Whale skeleton suspended in main entrance haul, a site that is worth the visit alone.

 

Of course, the National History Museum is not the only place of note to enjoy for free. In fact, many people head straight for Bankside, where the Tate Modern is located in an old Power Station. Open from 10am to 6pm the Tate Modern is also free to enjoy, and you can augment your visit by crossing the Millenium Bridge over the Thames to get there.

London

The Tate Modern in an impressive structure.

Image here

Once you arrive head in through the main entrance and discover whether there is a large-scale sculpture exhibition in the main turbine hall. Past ones include metal spiders, cracked concrete, and even twirling slides that allowed visitors to travel from the top to the bottom floor.

Deals and special offers

Now, not everything that is fun in London is free, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay through the nose either. In fact, if you are savvy and use deals, vouchers, and special offers you can do things that would typically cost a great deal more.

London

Picture source

For example, attending an event such as an expo, or taking a Thames river cruise can be made much more affordable by looking for a voucher first. You may even be able to see your favourite plays and musicals in London at a reduced cost by using a ticket website to check and compare prices before you book. Yes, you will have to pay out a little for such an experience, but if the rest of your trip is low cost and almost free, you can use such activities a the main event, and build the rest of your excursion around them.

A note on dining out

Lastly, something that is consistently overpriced in London is the food. This applies whether you are grabbing a sandwich on the go or sitting down to a slap up meal in a restaurant. That is why, if you are not using a voucher or coupon for meals your best bet is to visit a supermarket and grab come picnic items and then head to the nearest park.

Luckily, there are parks of varying sizes dotted all over London, some of the largest and most famous being Regents Park, Crystal Palace Park and Hyde Park in where you can check out the famous speakers corner, hire a deckchair, or feed the ducks with any lunch scraps you may have left over.

Rest assured that won’t be the only one eating alfresco there either unless it’s pouring with rain. Picnicking in the park is also fantastic way of saving the money you do have for more significant and exciting experience when visiting the city of London.

The Skinflint's Guide To London

Looking after your health when travelling is essential whether the purpose of your trip if for business or pleasure. It is never nice to be poorly but when you are overseas, everything can seem that much more daunting and scary particularly if there are language barriers to contend with. Let’s look at how you can take care of yourself and your family when travelling in Europe.

Take medication with you

If you are on medication for an ailment already, taking some with you may be essential and will certainly make things simpler for you. You might also want to pack some generic medicines such as painkillers and travel sickness pills. Check out the rules and regulations around this course of action well in advance as they will be different depending on which country you are visiting.

EHIC Card

An EHIC lets you get state healthcare in other EEA countries and Switzerland at a reduced cost or sometimes for free.

If you have one already check it is in date before you travel. If you don’t apply for one quickly and do not pay for one. You can find out more with this Guide to EHIC which you can find online.

Travel Insurance

Be aware that the EHIC should never be seen as an alternative to travel insurance. Do you really want to forego the protection that travel insurance can give to repatriate you if there was serious health incident whilst you are overseas? Travel insurance can also protect you in the event of missed flights and lost or stolen property. There are plenty of horror stories about what can happen when travel insurance is not in place.

Language skills

Ideally learn the language of the country you are visiting. This will always enhance your trip in so many ways from communicating with officials to making friends with the locals. There are good online courses available with apps like Babbel or Duolingo which can either get you going from scratch or improve you current levels of a particular language. If that seems too daunting, do consider a good phrase book. If you know the words and sentences you are likely to need, make the effort to learn those. It can speed things up which always helps when there is a mild or serous health concern.

Ask for help

Forget about the stiff upper lip and ask for assistance when you need it. Some people should help anyway such as your travel company or your accommodation provider. Do not be scared of approaching someone and asking for support. Most people are kind and only too happy to help in an emergency.

What are your tips for looking after your health when travelling in Europe?

 

 

 

 

PoCoLo

The end of the summer holidays does not mean the end of family adventures. Are you ooking for something different to do with your family that will get you all active and enjoying quality time together? Let’s face it both adults and children are spending far too much time attached to screens these days.  You could  consider getting involved with an extreme sport to boost health and communication while creating solid family memories!

But which activity will be the best for your family? Many of us are going out of our comfort zones when trying new adventures so where do we start? From what equipment you need and safety processes you should be aware of, to relevant trivia and a look at the origins of each sport, Chill Factore, home to the UK’s longest indoor real-snow slope for family days out in Manchester, explores the nation’s best extreme sports for families.

Rock climbing

Despite not being the sportiest child I did enjoy climbing both at the local sports centre and when out and about. Rock climbing is an adrenaline-pumping activity that is excellent for getting kids fully engaged in sport both indoors and out.. Rock climbing started to become a loved sport around the end of the 1800s, with the Lake District considered one of three, major ‘birthplaces of rock climbing.

Of course, as popularity for the sport grew in the 1940s and 1950s, so did the demand for safety equipment and climbing aids, which made the activity more accessible for younger people and families. From steel carabiners to nylon ropes, technology has helped to propel rock climbing into mainstream sport. Today, you can climb all over the UK — both at indoor venues and on outdoor walls — and the sport has grading system that rates the difficulty of a climb and the climber’s skill to help make the sport even safer. This is hugely reassuring to parents when our children are taking up the sport.

 Benefits of rock climbing for families

  • Builds upper and lower body strength.
  • Enhances problem-solving skills (i.e. considering the best route for reaching the top).
  • Encourages concentration.

Rock climbing as a family

I am a big believer in bringing in the experts when starting something new.If you’re just starting out, make sure you choose an instructing company with a high customer rating — especially for safety and teaching. The Association of British Climbing Walls is a good place to start if you’re looking for a climbing wall in your area.

In rock climbing, you’ll notice that you use your lower limbs more than your upper limbs — great to boost fitness and strength but may be tough for little ones at first. Although you and your family will improve in time, it may be worth opting for a few indoor sessions until you’re all confident with the height and physical strain. Once your family feels ready and has learned a few techniques, why not book an outdoor climbing session? There are lots of packages at popular landmarks across the UK and you can even make it into a weekend away. You can bet you will make some magical family memories so get out there and reach for the skies.

Snowkiting

Snowkiting — or kite skiing — is an exciting winter sport that is growing in popularity. Generally, the snowkiting season runs from October until June, with the best time to go snowkiting being around Christmas time — ideal for a winter sun or festive family break with a difference. In snowkiting, your family will use the power of a kite to board or ski over snow. After time, you can learn to pull off big jumps and land with ease, plus you have the opportunity to snowkite over frozen lakes which offers an unforgettable experience.

 

Snowkiting has been around for only a few years as a serious sport, but it was born out of a fusion of snowboarding and the growing demand by sporting fans for foil kites (an aeroplane wing shaped cloth structure). Although the US and France are both touted as being the sport’s origin, snowkiting is now available across Europe and North America in resorts such as Tirol and Haugastøl.

 

Benefits of snowkiting for families

  • Improves balance and coordination.
  • Allows you to breath in fresh, unpolluted air.
  • Uses all major muscle groups.

 

Snowkiting as a family

Booking a winter getaway is a great way to beat the seasonal blues as  nights get darker and kids head back to school. You could think about snowkiting but bear in mind that this is not a simple activity to master and there are risks involved. It is vital to  only book a session that is designed for youngsters by a reputable company.

Snowkiting is an intense aerobic activity and you can easily overheat. Wear layers including a helmet and snow shoes that you can easily remove and put back on. You’ll also need goggles and gloves to make sure your vision is not impaired, and your hands stay warm and easy to move. There are excellent kids’ snow gear available online but check with the snowkiting company first to see if you can simply hire what you need on the day.

In snowkiting, you can wear a board or skis, so ask your child which they feel more comfortable wearing to help them get to grips with the sport. It also might be a good idea to book your child a few extra snow lessons at a venue in the UK prior to your holiday to make sure they’re refreshed on how to hold themselves on the slopes! Nobody wants a stressed child or tantrums when you have invested in a winter break.

Rafting

Rafting is a top extreme sport for families. Encouraging team work and a great way to explore British waterways and countryside, it’s no surprise that families opt for rafting experiences to enjoy quality time together. Lots of fun is guaranteed when you get out and about on rivers and lakes.

Brits have rafted for decades and you can book rafting excursions from a huge range of watersports companies and tours. The British Canoeing organisation — the UK’s national governing body for paddlesports — has been around since 1936, while the International Scale of River Difficulty is adopted by most nations to rate rapids to help keep rafters safe.

With destinations like the River Tummel in Scotland, Tryweryn River in Wales and River Derwent in England; there’s no need to pay for flights abroad with this extreme sport. The UK is filled with waterways and sailing is obviously a huge part of British history. But did you know that the first rubber river raft was invented nearly 200 years ago by US soldiers?

Benefits of rafting for families

  • Helps boost communication, as your family must speak clearly to each other to navigate the boat.
  • Allows for family bonding — no time for, or place to keep, phones and tablets on board.
  • Enhances self-esteem and gives a feeling of accomplishment. You and your family can track your journey and take on key roles on board to make sure you reach the end safely.

Rafting as a family

But what do you need to bear in mind when it comes to rafting with your family? Obviously, there are some risks involved with rafting, so we’d always recommend making group bookings that provide an on-board instructor. If you haven’t done this sport before, you’ll need to wear synthetic layers (e.g. long-sleeve shirts and trousers), life jacket, windproof jacket, and helmet. Renting a wetsuit might be a good idea, too, and you’ll need to make sure you have rescue throw bags, if your rafting company doesn’t provide you with these.

I think rafting appeals most to our family. Which extreme adventure will you try first?ad

Top Extreme Adventures For Families