1. Pack less
Travelling with just hand-luggage should be your goal. Do you really need six pairs of heels, tea bags, and an iron? Take less and you’ll travel cheaper (no check-in luggage fees), travel faster (no waiting for your bags), and travel easier (one bag means less to lug around). More: 7 best hand-luggage bags Sam Baldwin, Skyscanner Travel Editor
2. Leave the guidebook at home
Rather than taking your entire copy of the Rough Guide or Lonely Planet, just photocopy the pages you need, then discard after you have used them. Saves space and weight. James Teideman, Skyscanner Marketing Communications Executive
3. Never join the security queue with kids in
Go for the one with the ‘suits’. It will move much quicker. Alistair Hann, Skyscanner Chief Technology Officer
4. Never wear flip flops (on a plane)
I used to work for an airline and we were told never to wear sandals on board an aircraft. In the unlikely event of an emergency, it’s best to have a good set of sturdy shoes that will protect your feet from heat or sharp objects. Matthew Smith, Skyscanner Content Partnership Executive
5. Jiggle it (just a little bit)
If you’re petrified of turbulence during flights, try slightly jiggling your body when you hit some rough air. No one will notice because everyone is being moved around due to the aircraft movement. Sounds a little crazy but your movement will counteract that of the aircraft and you won’t feel the turbulence so much. It really does work! Jamie Wortley, Skyscanner PR Consultant
6. Choose your seat-mate carefully
If you get the choice of plane seat, always sit far away from: babies, groups of friends who will chat, or women (men tend to need the toilet less often than ladies). More: REVEALED: the perfect plane seat Miss Evodie Fleury, Skyscanner Market Development Assistant, France
7. Learn a little lingo
Memorise a handful of words of the local language, and have the courage to use them! It’s amazing how just a few words will go a long way; locals tend to warm to those who have made the effort to communicate with them in their own tongue. More: 7 secrets of learning a language fast Rachel Evatt, Skyscanner Product Director
8. Keep your mouth shut
If you are in a country where it is unsafe to drink the water, keep your mouth shut in the shower. Suzanne Morrison, Skyscanner Project Manager
9. Hotels are not the only fruit
Staying in a hotel when you’re on holiday is not the only option. Or in a hostel for that matter. Apartments or rooms in private homes are where the savvy travellers rest their heads these days. Sam Baldwin, Skyscanner Travel Editor
10. Ditch your friends
Travelling all by your lonesome might seem daunting at first, but it gives you a chance to really immerse yourself in the travel experience. I’ve met friends for life, learnt a new language, and had amazing experiences by travelling solo. More: 10 tips for travelling solo Victoria Bailie, Skyscanner PR Manager
The fake police officer scam is a popular one in many large cities. Most often, a person will approach a tourist and offer illicit items, like drugs. While conversing one or two other people will approach, appearing to be police officers and flashing “badges.” They will then insist the unknowing traveler hand over their passport and wallet. However, they are not police officers.
This has never happened to me.
How To Avoid It:
Never hand over your wallet or passport. Request they show you their identification and then inform them you will call the police to confirm they are who they say they are. Or tell them your passport is locked up in the hotel safe, and they’ll need to accompany you to your hotel. If they don’t allow this, simply walk away.
Attraction Is Closed
A common travel scam in major tourist areas, some friendly local (who just happens to speak excellent English) will approach and inform you that the attraction you want to visit is closed for any number of reasons (religious ceremony, holiday, etc.). Then they’ll guide you to a different attraction or shop where you’re pressured to purchase something or pay a lot for entry.
At a busy public square in Mexico, a local man began asking about my travels in perfect English. He then proceeded to tell me the town’s famous hammock shop was closed, but he knew of another nearby. I thanked him but ignored the advice and found the original shop open.
How To Avoid It:
Instead of taking the local’s word, head to the ticket counter or shop and see for yourself. Or ask someone else nearby for confirmation.
Friendly ATM Helper
Someone approaches at an ATM cash machine to help you avoid local bank fees. What they really want to do is scan your ATM card with the card skimmer in their pocket and watch you enter your pin number so they can drain your account later.
I’m embarrassed to say I almost fell for this scam in South Africa. One man was the helpful local, the second pretended to be a fellow customer waiting in line who agreed with what the first was saying. When the first guy canceled my transaction and told me to try it again, I realized what was happening, grabbed my card and walked away.
How To Avoid It:
Never let anyone near you while you’re making an ATM transaction, and ALWAYS cover the number pad with your other hand while entering your pin code. If someone approaches, take your card and find another ATM.
Injured Or Child Beggars
Usually deaf, blind, or pregnant, sometimes accompanied by a “helper”, beggars will ask you for money. Women with babies are common (they might not even be theirs). Children are also frequently used by begging gangs to collect money. Why? Because it’s difficult for most people to say no to the old, injured, or young. Sometimes an accomplice nearby is just watching to see where you keep your wallet so they can pickpocket you later.
You’ll see this stuff almost everywhere.
How To Avoid It:
It’s practically impossible to distinguish who is legit and who is not, so my policy is to never give cash to street beggars. However I do buy food or giveaway old clothes to them. Then your money isn’t going to a gang.
Group Photo Offer
While hanging out in a busy tourist location or landmark, a local offers to take a group photo of you and your friends. As you’re getting ready to pose for your awesome new Facebook jumping shot, you look up and realize your new friend has completely disappeared. With your expensive camera.
I’ve never fallen for this scam, but I’ve had a few people try. In fact one guy tried last week in the middle of Dublin. He was pretty shady (and possibly high), so I told him thanks but I’m good.
How To Avoid It:
This one is tough, you really need to read the situation. I’ve happily handed my $3000 camera over to other people for a group photo. But it’s almost always me asking them for the favor, not them offering out of the blue. Busy city attractions are the most risky places for this. If you have to, ask fellow tourists instead and return the favor for them.
Fake WiFi Hubs
While you can find WiFi almost anywhere these days, some of those free unlocked connections might be dangerous. Hackers will set up tempting unsecured wifi hotspots in public locations that unsuspecting victims eagerly connect to — giving the thief access to your computer, passwords, online accounts, and more.
I’ve never fallen for this scam, as far as I know.
How To Avoid It:
Always ask the hotel/coffee shop/airport staff which wifi connection is the official one. Especially when you see a tempting unlocked connection. To encrypt all your online activity, use a VPN, or virtual private network. I use one called ZenMate.
Walk about ten minutes from the hubbub of Princes Street and you’ll suddenly find yourself in what looks like a Bohemian country village, complete with stone bridges, gabled houses and only the sound of the Water of Leith to keep you company. This is Dean Village, one of Edinburgh’s hidden attractions. Walk one way alongside the water to get to the National Gallery of Modern Art (signposted), or stroll in the opposite direction to Stockbridge, another idyllic, well-to-do area of town virtually untouched by festival fever.
How to get to Dean Village
Head up Queensferry Street at the West End of Princes Street and turn left onto Bells Brae, following the cobbled road down to the water from here.
Possibly Edinburgh’s most popular attraction that’s not actually in Edinburgh, the success of the book and film The DaVinci Code (filmed on location here) has brought many a curious visitor to this beautiful church, looking for clues to the mythical Holy Grail. Fictional references aside, the incredible stone carvings preserved here since the fifteenth century, in particular the famous Apprentice Pillar, are enough to wow anyone. Make a day of it and explore the path that runs past the Chapel grounds and through the gorgeous greenery of Roslin Glen Country Park. Festival? What Festival?
How to get to Rosslyn Chapel
The village of Roslin (with its confusing alternative spelling) is seven miles from Edinburgh and easily accessed by catching bus no. 15 from Lothian Road.
Stone carvings at Rosslyn Chapel Image: landhere, CC BY-SA 2.0..
This originally Roman town is now best-known for its sporting traditions, with Musselburgh Racecourse and the historic Musselburgh Links, the oldest golf course in the world, both must-see sights for sports fans. You can also potter around the the past at the nearby Palladian-style property, Newhailes (Lothian bus no.30 stops outside the gate), or stop at the restaurant housed in the old Tolbooth on the High Street to sample some modern Scottish cuisine. Watching the boats bobbing at Fisherrow harbour, you’d hardly know that all the fun and frolics of Edinburgh is just five miles away.
How to get to Musselburgh
A recently installed bypass from Edinburgh means its a mere 25-minute drive, or you can get to Musselburgh directly along the coastal cycle path from Leith or Portobello. Lothian bus 45 also goes this way.
With its romantic causeway at the mercy of the Firth of Forth tides, and a tiny centre consisting mainly of whitewashed brickwork, the old harbour and obligatory local pub, Cramond is the very definition of a quaint seaside village. Check the tide times here and plan your walk across to Cramond Island, site of former World War II defences. Don’t worry if you miss your chance, though – there are lovely, if bracing, walks to be had along the seafront, while The Cramond Inn does a mean line in pie-and-mash style comfort food and cheaper pints than you’ll find in many central Edinburgh pubs. On a budget? We’ve got more money-saving tips on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe here.
How to get to Cramond
Bus no. 41 will take you from Edinburgh straight to the main street in Cramond.
Shady people love to take advantage of tourists, and if you’re not careful, it’s easy to become a victim. Here are some of the most common travel scams around the world.
As travelers, it is easy to think that we are smart enough to avoid getting ripped off. But, the truth is, it happens to the best of us. Including me!
From getting ridiculously overcharged on cab rides to unknowingly revealing credit card information, travel scams exist the world over.
While it is nearly impossible to know when you will be scammed, it is important to know what kind of scams exist, and what to do should the situation arise.
Most Common Travel Scams (2015)
It sucks to get scammed by a stranger when you’re traveling on vacation. Even after 5 years of continuous travel, I still get caught off guard from time to time.
Here are some of the most common scams you’re likely to encounter, along with personal stories from my own experiences. Knowledge is power! The more people that know about these scams, the less likely you’ll fall for them.
Broken Taxi Meter
Cab drivers near airports or train stations are known to pull this scam, but it can happen anywhere. When you get into a taxi and start to drive, the driver will inform you that the meter is broken and charge you a ridiculous price (to the tune of 100s of dollars if you’re not careful).
This is a very common one in Central America, especially Costa Rica. I’ve probably had 10 different taxi drivers try to pull this scam on me around the world. I fell for it once, during my first year traveling.
How To Avoid It:
Negotiate rates ahead of time, or ensure the meter is in fact working before you get in the car. If the taxi driver refuses to turn on the meter, or tells you it’s cheaper without the meter, get out and opt for another driver. Not all cab drivers are scammers.
Overbooked Or Closed Hotel
Again, this common travel scam happens largely with cab drivers. While en route to your hotel, the driver will tell you your hotel is either closed or overbooked and then take you to a more expensive hotel where the driver receives a nice fat commission.
Luckily I’ve never fallen for this one, however I’ve had 3 or 4 drivers try to scam me this way. Usually by saying the hotel is a bad one, or that it’s closed.
How To Avoid It:
Call your hotel in advance and make sure they’re open. Ask if they offer shuttle service and then schedule a pickup. If your taxi driver still tells you the hotel is not available, insist that he take you there anyway. Tell him you already have a reservation (even if you don’t).
Free Bracelets Or Rosemary
This scam tends to prey on female travelers. A friendly man or woman will approach to chat, then place a “free” friendship bracelet on your wrist. Or hand you a sprig of Rosemary for good luck. Once you have it, they will demand money. When you refuse, they will begin to cause a scene.
I’ve had gypsy women in Madrid try to give me Rosemary.
How To Avoid It:
Don’t allow anyone to put anything on your body, and be extremely wary of accepting anything for free unless there is a good reason for it. Especially in very touristy areas. Ignore them and keep walking.
Spills On Your Clothing
Common in Europe, a traveler will be walking down the street and feel something plop on their shoulder — often times bird poop or a fast-food condiment. Then, a friendly stranger approaches and begins to wipe off the offending mess while plucking your wallet from your pocket or purse.
This has never happened to me.
How To Avoid It:
The best thing to do in situations like this is to not allow someone to help you. Instead, go to a restroom and clean the mess off yourself.
Edinburgh’s seaside and affectionately known as ‘Porty’ by Edinburghers, this former Victorian resort has plenty of faded charm and – crucially during August – the chance of a bit of peace and quiet. Of course, on hot days you’ll be sharing the beach with rapidly reddening locals desperate for some sunshine, but on most days you can claim a patch of pebbles for yourself. Walk, rollerblade or bike down the esplanade (you could even cycle all the way to Musselburgh using the Coastal Path), and call in at one of the city’s cosiest pubs, the Espy. Handy if it starts chucking it down with rain while you’re having a paddle, the Espy has a robust menu of food, cocktails and hot toddys, as well as a cubby hole of board games in the back room.
How to get to Portobello
The easiest way to get to Portobello, Lothian bus no. 26 from Princes Street.
Portobello Beach Image: Lee Kindness, CC BY 2.0..
Within walking distance of the major Edinburgh attractions but far enough that you can block out the sound of the Royal Mile street performers, this ruined Medieval fortress is awash with bleak Scottish drama and wind-battered turrets. Although no longer habitable, it’s a remarkably well-preserved fifteenth century castle, with its very own Mary Queen of Scots claim to fame – it was here that Mary fled when her favourite, Rizzio, was murdered at Holyrood Palace. Before you get back on the Edinburgh sightseeing trail, head for a pint or a bite at traditional pub, the Sheep Heid Inn in Duddingston, while you’re round this side of Holyrood Park.
How to get to Craigmillar Castle
Bus no. 49 or 42 heading south of the city, down Dalkeith Road. The 42 also runs through Duddingston Village if you’re going on to the Sheep Heid.
Officially the Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill Nature Reserve, the focal point here is Blackford Hill, home of the University of Edinburgh’s Royal Observatory. Check the Visitor Centre website to find out dates of their Public Astronomy Evenings this year, for fascinating tours and the chance to use the powerful telescopes to observe the heavens. During the day, the hill has a handy map at the top telling you which of Edinburgh’s many other peaks you can see off in the distance. Take the stiff but short climb up, or follow the gentler walking routes around Blackford Pond and the ‘Braid Burn’ – the stream which runs through the nature reserve. You might even spot an otter, a kingfisher or a heron in these peaceful wetlands.
How to get to Blackford Hill
Lothian buses can drop you off near various different entrances to the reserve. For Blackford Hill and the Observatory, take the 41 from The Mound, or for the Hermitage of Braid western entrance, jump on a 11, 15, 15A or 16 from Lothian Road.
If you’re determined to travel light, read on for our top tips on getting all of your luggage onboard:
1. Always check your hand luggage dimensions
All airlines have slightly different luggage restrictions so always measure your hand luggage bags well before flying, especially when travelling with an airline for the first time. Remember, British Airways’s baggage allowance includes handles and wheels, so don’t get caught out by that awkward baggage gauge at the last minute! If you’re in danger of exceeding the limitations, look for a new cabin bag – most luggage stores now make it easy to find ‘cabin-approved’ rucksacks and suitcases. Unsure where to start? Use our carry-on bag guide to review the best of the bunch.
2. Grab a guarantee
Most airlines can’t promise that your cabin bags will make it into the overhead lockers, meaning you may be left waiting around the baggage carousel, just for your overnight bag to Edinburgh. But British Airways does guarantee your smaller bag will be taken onboard, as long as you attach one of their yellow tags to the bag (available at the airport check-in desk). Make sure the tag’s visible before you board, and you’ll never have to go without your ear plugs or your travel pillow again!
3. Shop around for a fare deal
British Airways is no budget airline and has an impressive range of airfare grades, meaning you don’t have to struggle with the zip on your tiny suitcase! Even what the airline terms ‘Economy’ class includes a lot more than the seat, with snacks, drinks and family-friendly extras. On short-haul BA flights, Economy comes with three options: Basic, Plus and Plus Flex (Europe) or Business UK (British Airways UK domestic). While Basic is the ‘hand luggage only’ option you may be looking for, Plus comes with free checked baggage and Business UK allows you priority boarding so you can easily slide your holdall into the lockers before everyone else gets there. Alternatively, British Airways Premium Economy is available on some international flights and lends you a little more legroom for your oversized handbag, plus two pieces of hold luggage (23kg each) included in the price.
BA club meal Image: Jun Seita, CC BY 2.0.
4. Fly to Brazil
We’re not kidding. As mentioned above, there are different, more generous, rules regarding British Airways luggage allowance on flights in and out of Brazil. In fact, several other international airlines including American Airlines make the same exceptions. Why? Well, officially, Brazil’s Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) stipulates that flights to and from Brazil must allow two checked bags weighing up to 32kg and hand baggage can measure up to 45cm (although the number of cabin bags vary between destination/origin countries). Some speculate that this allows travellers to buy more Brazilian goods to bring home. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) states that the absolute maximum weight for checked luggage is 32kg, though airlines can choose to restrict this to a lower weight, so it may be that Brazil is just maxing out the amount holidaymakers can take. Either way, even if the dazzling white beaches and upcoming Rio 2016 Olympics aren’t enough of an incentive, Brazil seems to be a good choice for people who like to travel with all their home comforts!
1. Patience Is Important
Don’t sweat the stuff you can’t control. Life is much too short to be angry & annoyed all the time. Did you miss your bus? No worries, there will be another one. ATMs out of money? Great! Take an unplanned road trip over to the next town and explore. Sometimes freakouts happen regardless.
Just take a deep breath and remind yourself that it could be worse.
2. Wake Up Early
Rise at sunrise to have the best attractions all to yourself while avoiding crowds. It’s also a magical time for photos due to soft diffused light, and usually easier to interact with locals. Sketchy areas are less dangerous in the morning too. Honest hardworking people wake up early; touts, scammers, and criminals sleep in.
3. Laugh At Yourself
You will definitely look like a fool many times when traveling to new places. Rather than get embarrassed, laugh at yourself. Don’t be afraid to screw up, and don’t take life so seriously.
Once a whole bus full of Guatemalans laughed with glee when I forced our driver to stop so I could urgently pee on the side of the road. Returning to the bus and laughing with them gave me new friends for the rest of the journey.
4. Stash Extra Cash
Cash is king around the world. To cover your ass in an emergency, make sure to stash some in a few different places. I recommend at least a couple hundred dollars worth. If you lose your wallet, your card stops working, or the ATMs run out of money, you’ll be glad you did.
Some of my favorite stash spots include socks, under shoe inserts, a toiletry bag, around the frame of a backpack, even sewn behind a patch on your bag.
5. Meet Local People
Make it a point to avoid other travelers from time to time and start conversations with local people. Basic English is spoken widely all over the world, so it’s easier to communicate with them than you might think, especially when you combine hand gestures and body language.
Learn from those who live in the country you’re visiting. People enrich your travels more than sights do.
What is British Airways checked luggage allowance?
This is where it gets complicated: it all depends on the route you’re flying and what ticket type you’ve purchased. British Airways offers free checked baggage on most flights from the UK, but if you’ve purchased a ‘hand luggage only’ ticket, you will need to pay extra for checked bags. It’s worth doing this before you get to the BA check in – fees can be double if you pay at the airport. Here’s a summary of BA’s hold luggage rules:
‘Hand baggage only’ tickets: depending on your destination and departure airport, you’ll pay between £20 and £35 online in advance per checked bag, and between £40 and £65 if you pay at the airport.
All other flights, including Economy, Premium Economy, Business come with a free checked bag allowance
Club World and First Class travellers can get three bags weighing 32kg each for free, again, depending on where you’re flying to and from
To check your allowance or fees, log in to your booking on the BA website or browse this table of charges.
Can I bring musical instruments or sports equipment on British Airways flights?
You are allowed to bring additional items like guitars as part of your hand baggage, if they fit the above size restrictions
BA will try to accommodate larger and heavier musical instruments up to 45kg and measuring 190cm x 75cm x 65cm if you give 24 hours notice before departure
Sporting goods like tennis rackets and diving equipment must be under 23kg and up to 56cm x 45cm x 25cm to be counted as hand luggage, otherwise you may have to pay a heavy/oversized bag charge
You can bring a bicycle up to 190cm in length if it’s packed in a bicycle bag with tyres deflated and pedals and handlebars fixed to minimise width
Bali may be an enduringly popular holiday destination, but there are plenty of ways to discover the island beyond the surf of Kuta Beach. From lush rice terraces to chocolate-making tours, follow our top tips for what to do in Bali off the tourist trail…
1. El Kabron
Cliff top club with spectacular ocean sunsets
Located on the cliffs on the west side of the Bukit (a peninsula to the south of the island), this beach club and restaurant is one of the finest places to visit in Bali of an afternoon. El Kabron not only boasts some of the best ocean views and sunsets in Bali, but it also has a pool overlooking the ocean. It’s a great place to enjoy a sundowner or a glass of wine or two, with the Spanish chef and local Indonesian team cooking up a range of traditional Spanish dishes. Don’t miss the squid ink seafood paella, and try some chocolate ganache truffles to round everything off!
How to get there
The club can be a little difficult to find, which makes it even more special; just get on the road to Bingin Beach (approx 20 km/45 minute drive from Bali Airport), then you can pick up the signs for El Kabron from there.
Bali sunset over the ocean
2. Big Tree Farms
Chocolate tours and workshops
Real chocoholics, Big Tree Farms Bamboo Chocolate Factory should definitely be on your Bali sightseeing hit list. Working in partnership with farmers across Indonesia, Big Tree Farms support local communities to grow organic coconut, salt, cashews and cacao which is used to make the tastiest products. Join one of the daily tours around their factory (Mon to Fri from 2pm) – there are free samples in it for you, including a welcome Coco Mojo drink. If this is not chocolately enough for you, they also organise group chocolate-making classes.