Top 10 Travel Tips from Scarlet Jones Travels

Top 10 Travel Tips from Scarlet Jones Travels

…or what you will learn when you travel with me!

Join me on one of my 1 to 1 fully accompanied tours and you will experience so much more than a holiday.  We will get under the skin of a region or a country but you will learn much, much more.  During your trip we will have some great fun and I can let you into the secrets of my Top 10 Travel Tips.

Travel with me

If you want a holiday but you don’t want to travel solo or if you don’t fancy a group tour then come with me. I will be your travel buddy.

Top 10 Travel Tips - Nice

Travel with me

Some of the following tips  will be more relevant if you want to join me on my Beginner’s Backpacking trip (such as surviving a dormitory) but as we travel together, who knows; maybe I can inspire you to up your happiness levels to a whole new sphere and persuade you to go backpacking next time!

Find out more about my personalised tours at this Travel With Me link but do read on, and learn about my Top 10 Travel Tips.  They are:

  • Getting lost is an art form
  • Dormitory do’s and don’ts
  • How to read a street map
  • What to pack in your rucksack
  • How to eat like a local
  • How to navigate around the public transport system
  • How to haggle and barter
  • How to spot a scam
  • How to avoid or survive sickness while travelling
  • How travel will boost your self-confidence and self-esteem

Top 10 Travel Tips

  1. Getting lost is an art form

If you follow my blog you will know that I am always getting lost.  I can read a map.  I can navigate with a compass but I am always getting lost.

Part of my problem is that I exit a bus station or a hostel and while I may understand that my road lies to the left, very often the road to the right looks far more interesting.  I tell myself, I will just wander along it for a few minutes to see what is around the next corner, and then, bam! I don’t have a clue where I am.

I have however turned this into an art form and I will often now actually proactively go out of my way to lose myself with a series of games that I play when I have some free time.

I have also got many tricks which help me to get back onto track again and which usually get me out of trouble.  They work. Usually.

Top 10 Travel Tips - getting lost

which way?


  1. Dormitory do’s and don’ts

I love to sleep in dormitories.  I actually now sleep better when there is gentle breathing around me and I feel safe knowing that there are people around should there ever be any trouble.

However, there are some dormitory nightmares out there and believe me the nicest people can be VERY grumpy when their sleep is disturbed.  Do you want to avoid being the one who gets hissed at or worse when you turn the light on at 3 in the morning?  Do you want to know what the other major mistakes are that are made by those horrible people that everybody hates?

Here’s a big hint and no doubt you will be thinking how obvious but yes, it happened to us in our hostel in Siem Reap.  And now once, but 3 mornings running.  A girl crept quietly out of bed at 4.30 am, showered and then proceeded to blast her hair dry for 10 minutes with a hairdryer!  Who would ever think that behaviour like that was acceptable?

I can tell you all of the things to avoid being that traveller from hell and all the things that you can do to make your stay a great one.

  1. How to read a street map

This may be a strange one to put in here from somebody who is always getting lost but I can navigate from a map.  Drop me in the middle of the countryside with a decent ordnance survey map and a proper compass and I will get you home.  Street maps come in various standards of quality, they may not be to scale so you could end up walking miles and things that are marked on there may not be there any longer.  But I am capable of reading a street map and I can give you plenty of tips to help you too.  And no, I don’t need to turn it upside down either.

Top 10 Travel Tips

I got horribly lost following this map


Do you like what you are reading so far?  Plan your own tailor made holiday.  You will stay in a hotel or a town house or a riverside villa.  Pick your top activities from a menu and I will design your perfect trip.  During a Skype chat we will confirm the accommodation, the transport arrangements and the things that you will see and do.  You can tweak the trip and make sure that you are 100% happy with it and then sit back and leave the rest to me.  You only have to book your flight, buy travel insurance and order your currency.  This autumn and winter I want to explore Catalunya with you, but if you have any other preferred destinations do drop me a line and I will do my best to work it into my schedule.

Complete this menu card  and email it to me for your no-obligation quote.


And now continue reading my Top 10 Travel Tips.


  1. What to pack in your rucksack

Everybody takes too many things when they go travelling for the first few times but believe me, after you have tried to run for the bus with your full pack on your back or staggered along a country lane because the train station is in the middle of nowhere, or balanced yourself precariously on the back of a motor taxi with your back pack threatening to drag you off unceremoniously onto your bum, you will soon weed out the unnecessary things that you are lugging around with you.  I can give you information on the best bag to buy (in my opinion) and also the best things to put in it.

  1. How to eat like a local

It’s nice to treat yourself when you are on holiday but it can work out to be very expensive if you eat out and often you will just find yourself eating generic food that you can buy back home.  Pizza is always my go-to fallback but pizza is pizza.  I try to eat in the local markets with the workers or from carts in the street with the school children. If I am in a cafe or a restaurant I will opt for the local speciality or if I can’t choose, I ask the waiter what is their favourite, or I stick a pin somewhere in the menu.  Stay in a home stay or volunteer on a work exchange programme – these will open your food world to a whole new experience. And if I am in a town where I am spoilt for choice and I simply can’t decide where to eat – why I think of a number and I count up to that number as I pass the various establishments – and I have to eat at #6 (or wherever).

Top 10 Travel tips

Finger food in Malaysia

  1. How to navigate around the public transport system

Again, this one often goes hand in hand with getting lost but it can open up new horizons.  Many of the developing countries have state of the art transport systems as money is ploughed into their infrastructure.  It was a bit of a shock to the system to find that the only way to where I was going in Medellin was via a cable car and it feels like something out of a futuristic film to skim across the top of a city in a SkyTrain.

At the opposite end of the scale there are the chicken buses, jeeps, motorbike taxis and tuktuks.  Crammed in cheek to jowl with goats, chickens and babies, they may be hot but you certainly connect with local people and more often than not may have a baby plonked on your lap to take care of, or the family next to you will share their fruit with you.

Top 10 Travel Tips - hitchhiking

Hitching a lift from a truck driver


And why not backpack?  There are many benefits when you stay in a hostel and backpack but it can be really daunting planning your first trip especially when you want to go solo.  Join me on my Beginner’s Backpacking course and I will meet you at the airport and show you the ropes.  We will travel together for a couple of weeks and then when you have the confidence you can set off on your own. And if you get in at the start, well I plan to be around Malaysia for a couple of months so I won’t be very far away should you need a friend.  What are you waiting for? There are some real flight bargains out to Asia at the moment.


Here are the next 3 of my Top 10 Travel Tips


  1. Learn how to haggle and barter

Smile, don’t start to haggle unless you really want to buy something, smile some more, be realistic about the price (people have to feed their families), smile and smile.

Know when to walk away, know when to give in and pay up and smile.

In many countries haggling is THE way to shop.  When you live somewhere for a while you soon learn the acceptable price for things and if you are off to the shops the best thing that you can do is to observe the locals.  Wander slowly around the market eavesdropping and watching how many notes are passed over for the items that you have your eye on.  You can expect to have a higher price quoted just because you are a tourist but there are ways to reduce that and have some fun into the bargain.

Top 10 Travel Tip- haggling

Top 10 Travel Tip #7 – How to haggle

  1. How to spot a scam

I have been scammed and it’s not a great feeling but I put it down to experience and I am sure that bad karma will come around to THAT woman in George Town eventually.  I know of travellers who have come off far worse than me and I reckon that I am pretty street-wise now.  I have been able to warn friends off from obvious tricks which have included a cab driver taking off with our luggage and the baby milk trick.  Travel with me and I can bring you up to speed on the popular scams and show you how you can be careful but don’t allow fear to stop you from taking chances.

This trusting couple invited us to shelter in their home during a storm

This trusting couple invited us to shelter in their home during a storm

  1. How to avoid or survive sickness while travelling

I got around South America with nothing more than altitude sickness and then I made up for it in S E Asia big time!  But I have pared down my first aid kit and I buy medicines as and when needed.  Often, so long as you get past the language barrier, the local remedies are the best anyway.  You can’t beat a herbal tea from a waitress who sees you clutching your stomach, Chinese medicine for a parasite or coca leaves for altitude sickness?  And forget Deet with all of its toxins.  Buy and use whatever the locals use for an insect repellent.

Keep your immune system raised with fresh fruit juices and vegetables and keep away from too much booze and drugs.  If you do get sick it can also be worth paying some extra money and buying a night or two in a private room.

Top 10 Travel Tips

fresh coconuts – the cure all


If you would prefer to choose an off the peg tour you can click on this link and join my guided tour in Catalunya.  On this tour all of the work has been done for you – you only need to decide if you would prefer to hike or to bike for one day.  And if that is too much for you, well just leave the decision to me!!


And my final Top 10 Travel Tip is….


  1. Travel will boost your self-confidence and self-esteem

When you travel you will probably have a drama or three but as you come out the other side you will realise that you did survive and, probably, you will have learnt a valuable lesson.  And those lessons are not just about how to cope when your bus catches fire or you get your money stolen on the border, but they are lessons which will reveal much about yourself and your abilities.

If you join me on one of my tailor made tours what can you expect?

Firstly, you will have a fully personalised tour tailor made just for you.  You will find out all about my Top 10 Travel Tips which I have compiled after more than three years travelling solo.

You can be confident that you will benefit from my travel experiences and you will have a fantastic holiday.  I can’t guarantee perfect weather but the food will be awesome, the accommodation comfortable and the activities will be interesting.

Travel with me

All of the tour packages that are available as Something Slightly Different came about in response to many of you, my readers, asking of you could travel with me.  I am now giving you that opportunity.  Read the links in this article and if you have any questions feel free to drop me an email or reply in the comments below.

Before you go, I have a question for you.

I would love to travel with you and get to know you better.  If you are hesitating about booking a tour with me, tell me, what is stopping you?

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