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A weekend in Prague (for travel bloggers and creatives)

A weekend in Prague (for travel bloggers and creatives)

A welcome cool breeze skimmed across the Vltava, as dozens of paddle-boat revellers and a few small ferries floated past me on excursions along the Prague waterfront. I’d arrived ahead of Cooper for our weekend in Prague for travel bloggers – or, with a creative content twist; you see, we’re on our way to another annual TBEX conference, and I couldn’t be more excited to be in the Czech Republic.

It was Friday afternoon about 6.30pm and after a scorching hot day fighting through crowds for a glimpse at the city’s famously pretty highlights, I’d stumbled into a stunning yet quite secluded spot by the water. The place was otherwise anonymous, crudely labelled ‘Riverside Bar’ on a blackboard out the back of the place.

The shabby-chic joint served cold drinks and was streaming chilled House tunes – right up my alley. Similar name as a luxe and expensive Brisbane counterpart (that admittedly I love), yet cheap, romantic, less sweaty and overlooking the city’s medieval structures including the Charles Bridge. With a flavoursome gin and tonic sparkling in my eyes and the sun beginning its descent across the Czech Republic, it occurred to me, this is the life. I could be an a$$ and hashtag it ‘blessed’, but…

For the first time in months, I’d say, I sat without thought, just observing in peace.

It’s been so so busy this year and I need this weekend in Prague. I don’t like to overuse the word ‘busy’ – we tout a saying in my team at work about how ‘busy’ has become an excuse, often meaning that actually, you believe your ‘stuff’ to be more important than someone else’s, when often we have no idea what others are up against, nor do we remember to be respectful of it.

That said, while I’ve tried hard to balance things, it’s been tough, and writing or blogging for myself and for this lifestyle and travel space is the last thing I have energy for. Yet, it’s in my heart. And away from the hustle and bustle of Prague’s overcrowded tourist centre (not to mention my ‘other’ routine life), yet with its best bits in my line of sight, I felt inspired again.

While I moan about the crowds (apparently Prague is the fifth most visited city in Europe), I must admit to having a moment on Friday afternoon. I was wandering the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage listed Old Town Square, and as I gazed around me at the colourful, historical architecture and felt energy of so many who had come before, my breath caught and tears came to my eyes. It was rather overwhelming and took me by surprise. Probably nothing to do with being deliriously tired following a work social the night before and a 6am flight.

In all seriousness, it’s as beautiful as I remember it, and more than that, how lucky are we to have the chance to be in such places, so far from home?

Beyond the selfie sticks and those taking more photos of themselves than their surroundings, the depths of crowds attempting to enter popular areas, and hundreds of tourist groups dripping in deep-fried ice-cream-stuffed doughnut cones (yep it’s a thing, although not even Czech, as I understand it), there is palpable magic in this city of red rooftops and a thousand spires, wooded hills, romantic views and influence from generations gone by.

Founded in the latter part of the 9th Century, Prague became the seat of the kings of Bohemia. The city flourished during the 14th Century and for hundreds of years was a multi-ethnic city with an influential Czech, German and Jewish population.

From 1939 the country was occupied by the Nazis and while Prague’s structures remained relatively undamaged during the war, most Jews either fled the city or were killed in the Holocaust. The German population was then expelled in the aftermath of WWII.

Most of us remember the Prague that was under Communist rule for over 40 years, rarely visited by tourists until after the Velvet Revolution on 17 November 1989. Freedom meant a huge economic boom and an influx of delighted visitors from then on, which only increased after the Czech Republic joined the European Union in 2004.

As mentioned, we’re destined for TBEX Europe 2018, in a place I’d never thought to have visited, Ostrava. That said, as travel bloggers and explorers we are very excited to see somewhere new! Preparing and in Prague for the weekend, Cooper and I wanted our schedule to be part (re)discovery, part relaxing, part planning for networking and the conference (which I blogged about for the TBEX Events site recently).

We stayed about twenty minutes walk from the city centre, at Hotel Kinsky Gardens in a quiet Prague neighbourhood, yet with the convenience of supermarkets, shopping mall, pubs, a delicious tapas restaurant called Miro, and tram stop not five minutes’ walk away.

The river precinct I came to love (including the ‘Riverside Bar’, gorgeous new waterfront restaurant opening this week Kalina Kampa and Belle Vida Cafe) was just ten minutes walk from our accommodation, and is perfect for anyone who has done the central Prague tourist bit and is happy to indulge in the views away from the chaos.

On Saturday night I hosted my very first TBEX meet-up (this is my sixth TBEX conference so I’m excited to have taken this step).

We met up with four locals to Prague and five visitors from as far as America, Costa Rica and another conference attendee coming from England like us. We ran the plans through the conference Facebook group and Katie (an American expat living in Prague) chose a cool pub on a hill with a view for our group’s meet-up, and Prague local Veronika assisted with finding an impromptu dining option so we could all hang out and try local cuisine.

It was immensely fun to meet other travel bloggers and content creators in Prague this weekend and part of the reason we’re so pleased we continue to develop our little corner of the web here, for love and a hobby.

Prague is easy to do as a city break – you can walk around the old town, to the castle, up to view points, catch trams to gardens, boat-ride around the Vltava, enjoy a little jazz, join a free walking tour and get cultural in museums.

A weekend in Prague: practical tips

Be careful of taxis, they can be unregulated and rip you off. Go with a pre-booked service or use the trams and trains as they are very well run and cheap, but DO buy a ticket as if you get caught without one or if you have not validated it the fines are hefty.

Try the beer (it’s the home of Pilsner, after all), and as always, get out of the tourist areas of a cheaper experience when it comes to food and dining.

Take your money out of an ATM that’s associated with a bank and be careful of the exchange outlets that say ‘zero commission’ (usually they are hiking up hidden charges).

Importantly, be curious. In our case, this weekend in Prague was for us as travel bloggers: an unexpected low-key treat and reminder of how much I’ve gained from travel – the people met, surprising and inspired moments, lands wandered at early (or late) hours, and the fulfilment that pursuing creativity provides. We are lucky, but I too am grateful.

Onwards to Ostrava…

Got a question on where to stay, how to get around or things to do in Prague? Drop us a line in the comments – we love to chat and share

Travel Live Learn vlog

Travel Live Learn vlog

 

Have you seen our latest clips? We’ll post below from Tuscany, but you can subscribe here on YouTube and never miss one :) We also post alternative content on Instagram and Facebook, linked on this site.

Let us know if you have requests for clips from the UK and Europe and we’ll see what we can do!

Thanks for stopping by,

Coops and Sarah

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2 days in Stockholm

2 days in Stockholm

All I can say about Stockholm is that you really should add the city to your travel bucket-list – at least 2 days in Stockholm, if not more. I insist.

Travel itinerary: 2 days in Stockholm

From the moment you arrive at the airport (Arlanda, in our case), the fresh, contemporary vibe is obvious and alive.

I gazed around the deserted airport and was instantly impressed by its creative, interesting spaces.

Stockholm is one of those neat, efficient cities too, and I’m glad because it’s one expectation I had.

We landed late at night (well, it was the wee hours of the morning actually), but regardless of the time, taxis were on hand, as was a speedy shuttle bus that makes the rounds every ten minutes to collect travellers who are destined for one of the surrounding hotels.

We’d flown in across a skyline lit up by a midnight sun – novel! It’s the latest I’ve ever witnessed the sun setting, and a sure sign we’d made it pretty far north.

Despite the 12.30am time slot, the sky still glistened with fading evening light, so we got a good look at the unique airport hostel suspended in the air within a Boeing 747.

Pretty cool, almost like a living outdoor piece of art.

 

Stockholm, capital of Scandinavia, was the first of our 2016 summer destinations because we were headed to the TBEX conference (my fourth), and we’re so glad the city hosted us!

To be honest, we may have put it off because countries in this region have a bit of a reputation for being expensive.

While the majority of costs we came across as travellers (accommodation, food, alcohol, tours, taxis, transfers etc.) were on par with London prices, I would say that yes, most visitors might feel a bit of a price pinch.

However, there are economical ways to experience Stockholm, and I’d definitely not let the exchange rate determine whether you visit this very magical city.

Stockholm city - 2 days in Stockholm itinerary

Stockholm is …

Built on 14 islands connected by 57 bridges and the very first European Green Capital, Stockholm really is one of the most beautiful cities we’ve been to.

It probably is up there within the top five prettiest capitals in the world (as the customs officer proudly boasted to us).

Other things we love about Stockholm include the decent, free WiFi (particularly important for digital nomads and bloggers, but then there are plenty of business travellers here too); transport is straightforward and easy to navigate, the people are really helpful and friendly and there’s no language barrier for an English speaker. The purchase of alcohol can be a bit tricky, but it’s ok if you’re organised (video coming on this topic soon).

Stockholm is a city of music, art, fashion and technology, not to mention being the home of the Nobel Peace Prize and annual awards.

If you’re on a budget, consider planning for two to four days to really get a nice taste of what Stockholm is all about.

We were in town for five days, but I’d booked flights and accommodation well in advance in the hope that I’d secure the best price.

Day one of our adventure (pre-conference) was a trip to Sweden’s oldest town, Sigtuna (post coming soon). By the time the conference ended, we really did only have a couple of days to see and do as much as we could. I felt happy by the end of the trip that I’d scraped the surface of this pretty city, and touched upon some terrific, highly-recommended experiences.

Here’s my best tips for you on how to spend 48 hours in Stockholm.

2 days in Stockholm - wander the streets

 

48 hours in Stockholm

We were staying near Central Station in Stockholm, and while I understand there are plenty of other options in other areas, if you can find accommodation near here it is very convenient for access to and from Arlanda airport, as well as being an easy point to explore from.

There’s also a mall that forms part of the station which includes supermarkets and convenience amenities.

City sightseeing

When we are short on time we tend to head straight for a hop-on-hop-off tour bus option which enables us to get our bearings and work out our priorities for the rest of the trip.

On the ground, you can buy a pass that offers 48 hours in Stockholm for exploring and doubles as a transport ticket.

There are three main tour-operators of this nature in Stockholm, and all include a boat tour option. It’s an easy place to start and provides an excellent overview of Stockholm which is actually a much bigger city than I imagined.

2 days in Stockholm - there's no end of excellent adventures to be had

 

Vasa Museum

This place is a real treat – built around a huge old war ship which was destined to sink back in 1628.

The king at the time insisted that a double row of canons be built along each side, despite engineers’ pleas that it would never hold up. Within twenty minutes of the ship setting sail, it had capsized taking crew with her.

The ship sat preserved under the water in Stockholm’s harbour for over three hundred years. By 1961 Stockholm had the right combination of skills and post-WWII enthusiasm to raise Vasa to the surface, and because the water is low in salt here, the ship had hardly deteriorated (within reason, of course).

As such, you can walk around her now, and touch a little (or a large) bit of intriguing history. It really is very cool, and this attraction is listed in many top 10 lists of the best museums to visit in the world. Find out more here.

The ABBA museum

Just up the road from the Vasa Museum is a place not just dedicated to one of the world’s most famous pop groups, but to the evolution of modern music too: the Abba Museum.

It’s worth walking here from the Vasa Museum because this area of Stockholm (on the island of Djurgården) is filled with pretty parks and waterways, so the entire experience is just lovely!

Inside the glittery world of the ABBA museum, you’ll discover fun disco and music rooms featuring memorabilia and hits from different eras over the past 80 years or so. If music is your thing, and/or if you’re a child of the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, in particular you’ll probably (secretly) love this place.

Top tip: Visit late in the afternoon, because there’s a nice bar and restaurant attached to it, and it’s a feel-good excursion so you’re likely to want to take that energy into a night out in Stockholm…

 

Stockholm old town square - 2 days in Stockholm

 

By boat

One of the city’s charms is that everywhere you look there are mesmerizing bodies of water, so we didn’t want to leave without taking in the views from this perspective.

In one day we enjoyed two delightful options. This included a quick trip out to the archipelago to the Fjäderholmarna islands (a mere few of the area’s thousands of pristine islands). Also a more localised tour (linked with the hop-on-hop-off coach tour) which presented views of the Old Town (Gamla Stan), Nordic Museum and Vasa Museum, Gröna Lund (Stockholm’s amusement park that’s lit up the waterfront since 1883) and all of the city’s steeples and colourful buildings in a way that’s impossible to experience on land.

 

 

Photography museum (Fotografiska)

We found this creative oasis was most easily accessible via one of the local boat hop-on-hop-off tours, when you can step off your ride and walk right in.

I’m a fan of photography (even over art) and found the exhibits at Fotografiska beautifully presented and engaging.

My favourites (exhibiting in 2016) were the stunning portraits of famous Swedish actress Greta Garbot from the earlier part of last century, and Bryan Adams’ showcase, ‘Exposed’. Yes, the Canadian singer-turned-photographer (I had no idea!) is actually wonderfully talented and his exhibition includes candid celebrity shots as well as thoughtful images of young injured returned-soldiers.

Top tip: Make your way to the top of the museum to its large café, and for the price of a cup of tea, you can indulge in amazing views of the city and waterways.

 

2 days in Stockholm - Gamla Stan alley

 

Old town (Gamla Stan)

Gamla Stan is a large, wonderfully preserved old city center, and one of the most popular medieval spaces in Europe.

Ideal for exploring on foot, it is a photographer’s dream brimming with narrow alleyways, old churches, cobbled streets, grand central squares and tall, brightly coloured buildings that seem untouched by time (this region hasn’t seen war in over 200 years, so the city is in pretty good shape).

The Nobel Museum which presents information on the Nobel Prize, Nobel laureates from 1901 to present, and the life of the founder of the prize, Alfred Nobel, is situated in the heart of the area.

 

Stockholm Gamla Stan travellivelearn Sarah Blinco
The Old Town is also a good spot to top up on any gifts or souvenirs – there’s plenty of stores targeting visitors.

Alternatively, you might simply choose to enjoy a fika (coffee and cake break), or a treat from one of the specialty ice-cream stores producing very large, freshly-made waffle cones that smelled mouth-wateringly good. My favourite!

Top tip: read our special foodie-insider’s guide on the best bars, restaurants and cafes to visit and chill out in Stockholm.

Stockholm pass

We actually utilised the Stockholm Pass to access every one of these experiences, and with loads more on offer (including longer boat trips and a whole host of excellent museums and attractions) this is definitely worth considering if you have time and the inclination to take in as much as you possibly can.

 

Stockholm old town - 2 days in Stockholm itinerary

 

~

Do you have tips or questions? Let us know in the comments.

Expat explore Europe in summer | a recent traveller’s top tips

Expat explore Europe in summer | a recent traveller’s top tips

Last year, 21-year-old Jordan Lea Hart, embarked on a once-in-her-young-lifetime trip abroad. While she’d enjoyed a holiday or two closer to home and with family, this was her first significant trip overseas – just she and her best friend, Rachael. We’d spoken to the girls a few times about travel and life abroad, and were very excited to hear when they took the massive step to book and confirm it all.

Jordan Lea and Rachael enjoyed the same tour of Europe with Expat Explore that we did in 2011 (on just the second 26-day itinerary since the group launched it), and I was keen to find out more about the experience, their tips and stories of travel and friendship. Most importantly, I was keen for insights into why they too, advocate taking the chance to travel, live and learn!

When did you travel to Europe?

In July and August 2015, European summer time.

This was your first major overseas trip – how did the decision come about to do it?

Throughout high school, my best friend and I always talked about travelling to Europe, specifically London, because we love historical buildings and English boys! Once we finally had enough coin we booked it.

When did you decide what type of travel option to pursue?

I wanted to do a coach tour as it just seemed like the most cost-effective way to get a taste of each country. Originally the plan was to go on a month tour, then rent a car and road trip around Ireland, Scotland and Wales, however that didn’t end up on the agenda due to work and study commitments.

We decided on Expat Explore’s 26 Day Ultimate Europe Tour because it is great value for money (even considering the conversion from Aussie dollars).

One of the first things our tour guide, Will, said was, “You guys are travellers, not tourists, we are not going to hold your hand everywhere you go, it’s up to you. YOU create your journey, we just guide.”

It was awesome because that’s exactly what he did – told us the way to our hotel, how to get home, and what time we would be leaving for the next trip. We never considered a party-type tour, we really wanted to make the most of our travels, not spend the time in bars 24/7 and hung-over every day! Not to say we didn’t have a few cheeky drinks.

Was there anything you were worried about prior to taking this big trip so far away from home?

I was worried about missing home too much; I was in a brand new relationship so this trip was a massive test on us. I missed him terribly but we survived it, thank God for Viber.  

Jordan Lea Expat Explore story travellivelearn 2016 Prague Castle

Do you think you were well prepared for the trip, or did you learn along the way?

Prior to us leaving I quit my job! I was treating this trip as a fresh start for me, to get perspective on what I really want. I had to be very careful with my money, budgeted a lot, made trips to the local supermarkets to get fresh fruit and snacks for the long coach journeys.

Clothing was something I was not prepared for. I was under the impression Europe would have cold days, and I would only need so many shoes or pairs of socks. The little things ran out fast, and I packed about 10 jumpers and no summer clothes. That was a massive wake-up and I spent a lot of money buying summer basics (most of Europe is hot in summer!). But I learned little tricks after a few weeks, like washing delicates in the sink then rolling them up in the bathroom mat so they dried a lot faster.

I also thought this would be a great best friend trip, just myself and Rachael the whole time! But we met some lifelong friends, we created ‘the squad’ after two days on tour – myself, Rachael and three rowdy British girls – we were inseparable.

What were three highlights of Europe?

The whole trip was a highlight but I do recall a few special moments.

Our first stop was Amsterdam, and Expat scheduled an optional activity for day one on the road. Everyone else on the bus went except Rachael and I; We ditched it. Woke up late, caught the train into the city centre, wandered around just taking it all in for six hours. We walked away from all the tourist areas and went local. We found all these amazing hidden cafes and lunch hot-spots. It was beautiful and so peaceful to just wander and soak up all the culture. Once we got back to tourist-central, we naturally tested the devil’s lettuce from the local coffee shop (not to be confused with cafe) and ended up having the wildest night of our lives.

Sneaking into random hotels, running along the canals and eating the best yogurt and fruit anyone could ever have – our first day was done right.

The second highlight for me was meeting the squad, Alice, Anya and Sara. Here are five girls with completely different backgrounds and we clicked instantly as if we were long-lost soul-mates. We had one night in the Rhine Valley where we all had too much wine, ended up smashing karaoke with a Spice Girls comeback, and we were almost as good as the real thing. So many nights were unforgettable with these girls!

Barcelona was an absolute highlight for me personally; the culture of that place blows my mind! Oh and the sangria!

The last highlight, even though bitter-sweet, was our final night of the tour in France, sitting under the Eiffel Tower and its 9pm light show, drinking mini bottles of wine, with our cheese dips and chocolate.  

Jordan Lea Expat Explore story travellivelearn 2016 with mates

Some England highlights?

The UK was a short but sweet stay, four days in total, but so full of life. We went to the markets, Harry Potter studio tour and stayed walking-distance from Oxford Street. Also spent a night drinking cocktails with some of my favourite people. It was the perfect end to our trip.

What did you learn about yourself through this experience?

That if I set a goal to do something it will be achieved. And, that I can successfully catch public transport in any country! It helped me also appreciate how lucky I am to have had the chance to do this at 21. Most people don’t get that chance, even couples on our tour said this was their first holiday overseas and they were well over 50.

How has such a significant travel experience shaped the way you are now planning for your future?

It only makes me want to plan for more! I have the thirst for travel, the way it opens your eyes is something else. The world is a fascinating place.

What’s your advice for anyone planning to travel or tour Europe in the summer?

You need a reliable water bottle, sunscreen and good walking shoes.

Be warned of the crowds in Italy, it will have you feeling like you’re suffocating, so go see all the major sights in the afternoon, because in summer the sun doesn’t set until 9pm so it’s nowhere near as hot then.

Learn the underground in European cities. Local trains usually work like clockwork and will take you anywhere you need to go. It all works in colour lines so don’t worry about not knowing the language if you need to get around.

In France, buy souvenirs from the salespeople on the street, not stalls; the sellers are lovely and you get the same thing but for half the price!

Jordan Lea Expat Explore story travellivelearn 2016 on the road

What are your essential travel planning websites and apps?

In Europe, always search for the city metro map and have a screen copy on your phone for reference. In London, download the app Kabbie. I would have been lost without this – it’s like Uber but cheap. Another helpful tip is to buy your food and alcohol for your trip. This saves you so much money; the supermarkets have everything you could ever need! Don’t get stuck buying supplies at expensive bars or corner stores.

Would you recommend a tour and why?

Yes! Especially if you have never travelled to that country before, it helps you get your bearings and you have a whole coach support system; a tour guide who you can bother with a thousand questions as they know all the good spots, and you meet amazing people. Once you have done a tour, you can go back the places you enjoyed and you’ll already have knowledge to get around like (nearly) a local!

What does travel mean to you now?

A world of opportunities! I have found what I want to do: work, save, travel.

Follow Jordan-Lea’s adventures on Instagram

How to travel the world – a must-read guide

How to travel the world – a must-read guide

 

…11 top tips on how to travel the world, and all you need to know about tech, travel and clean underwear on the road! Discover more with world-explorers, Ryan Morgan and Denyka Roberson


This past Christmas, Sarah and I decided to visit the coolest city on the Nordic block, Copenhagen. The Danish capital is a clean and dynamic metropolitan city infused with modern architecture, stunning palaces, narrow streets, canals and beautiful homes.

To make our Christmas experience in Copenhagen even more exciting and homely, we were joined by my young cousin, Ryan and his fiancée, Denyka, who for the better part of 11 months have been travelling the world, bouncing from one country to the next, across South East Asia, America, Canada, Europe and the UK.

The last time Sarah and I were experimenting on how to travel the world in a similar capacity, we didn’t have the luxury of staying in an Airbnb, or utilising the over-abundance of apps and devices available to locate economical accommodation and flights, compare currencies, and more importantly, make the overall organisation of travel less stressful.

Over a few festive drinks, (at an Airbnb, of course), we had a chat to Ryan and Denyka about all they had learned on the road, since packing up in Australia last January (2015).

Here’s the cream of what we learned from our pair of innovative, adventuring millennials.

How to travel the world – 11 top tips with Ryan Morgan and Denyka Roberson

Underwear

The magic number of underwear to carry is 10! Yep, while this is an amusing piece of advice (which was passed onto them on Facebook by another world-explorer before they travelled), they’ve tried, tested and found it to be true. You can live in one pair of jeans for a week but this rule doesn’t apply to underwear, and this number keeps you going for a few days, even when it’s a challenge to get your washing done.

Accommodation

Over 90 per cent of their travels (and when friends have not been able to host), they’ve chosen to stay in an Airbnb – an accommodation brand name that, as travellers know well, has really come to the forefront of the industry over the past year or so. They say the quality, variety, location and price of accommodation Airbnb offers is incomparable. Two of their favourite Airbnb accommodations were in Iceland, and both offered experience as well as a roof over their heads.

One was an old van converted into a room with a double bed and a very warm heater. The scenery was exquisite, and they were positioned uniquely in front of snow-capped mountains with stunning views of the Icelandic wilderness. The other, a barn converted into comfortable accommodation set right in the middle of an Iceland horse farm. The host openly welcomed guests to feed and play with the beautiful animals, all included in the standard price of the listing.

Ryan and Denyka Iceland accommodation airbnb

Airbnb is based on trust and reviews. Guests and hosts are both reviewed by one another. Treat the host’s home with the utmost respect, leave it clean (like you hopefully would your own space) and communicate openly and honestly. A bad review could prevent you being invited to stay with an Airbnb in the future.

Getting around

For booking the cheapest mode of transportation with the best rates they like Skyscanner, Google Flights and Rome 2 Rio.

Skyscanner – an airline comparison site featuring plenty of airlines around the world, some you probably have never heard of. Skyscanner brings them all together on one convenient space and allows you to compare based on the most important factor, price.

Google Flights – another airline comparison site with a very helpful, unique feature which allows you to view the prices of nearby cities of the region you are flying to. A slight variation in your journey can help you save hundreds, or maybe thousands of dollars off the cost of your next trip.

Rome2Rio – used to search for all types of transport; buses, trains, car rental and flights. Rome2Rio makes suggestions like flying from Dublin to Bristol then catching a bus to Cardiff which was three times cheaper than flying direct Dublin to Cardiff!

Ryan and Denyka Iceland - Cliffs Dyrholaey

Communication and Technology

Before heading off on their grand adventure, Ryan and Denyka chose to arm themselves with two different top-end smartphones (Samsung Galaxy S5 and LG G3). They decided on this route so that, for example, they could get a better response in situations where one phone’s WiFi works and the other doesn’t; the cameras work in different ways in varying situations.

Also, sometimes one phone will attract a better SIM card deal around the world than the other, or provide technical compatibility that another device cannot. All in all, this choice has helped with cost-efficiency, security, communication and image/video capture.

Cloud backup

Ryan and Denyka will not live (or travel!) without access to cloud storage. At around $10 a month, they have unlimited Dropbox storage to safely backup everything – documents, photos, video – to the cloud. Their advice is to plan for all of your belongings to be stolen e.g. passports, visas, personal documents and photos – that’s worst case scenario. If you’re fine to access it via any computer in the world, then your worries are greatly alleviated.

Online security

Don’t get complacent about password-protecting your devices and software. They’ve had personal experience at being surprised about what thieves can gather out of the smallest bit of information that can be garnered from anything from your text messages to emails and logins. If it has the ability to be secured, lock it up!

On the other side of this, Denyka and Ryan have found that it’s really easy to ping locations back to family using functions on apps like Google Hangouts, Viber and Whatsapp. This is a terrific idea, we think, because when you’re travelling around a country indefinitely and with no set plans, it’s important that someone at a home base has a good idea where you have been and where you are. This goes beyond just checking-in on Facebook!

Making friends on the road

Their top tip? Join a local pub crawl everywhere you go! This surprised me at first, but I realised it makes total sense, because mostly people joining in are fellow travellers and soon-to-be international friends. Also, don’t be afraid to go and talk to people when you are out, because let’s face it, most people are lovely once you get chatting. They have made a lot of friends joking about aeroplane legroom, suggesting ride-shares, and even asking locals on the streets for recommendations on what to do in their hometown.

Networking

It’s not just for business people! Start and maintain WhatsApp groups as you travel, and share photos with your new friends (but do this privately, out of courtesy).

Because Ryan and Denyka have cleverly stayed in touch on Whatsapp (and also Facebook), they’ve been invited to stay in exotic places around the globe. Their new friends love seeing them again, and are proud to showcase their homeland to this friendly pair of Aussies.

They have actually based travel destinations solely on catching up with new friends they have met on the road. One thing they are looking forward to most on returning home to Australia is having their international mates come and visit.

Packing

They reminded us to prioritise what you need, and organise important belongings into one bag; that is, toiletries, clothes for the day or week. Keep your most-needed belongings at the top. Also, they split their belongings so that if a bag was to go missing, they both still have some clothes and essentials to share. Pack light, you do not need to travel with five pairs of jeans.

Over the past year, the contents of their bags has completely changed – from singlets and shorts in South East Asia, to warm coats and jeans in Europe. Remember, it’s better to pack light than regretfully over-pack it. If you desperately need something in particular, never fear, if you can purchase it during your travels.

Staying in touch

Denyka and Ryan use Facebook to search for people who live in places they are planning to visit, and have found it to be a really easy way to find friends who are either there when they’re visiting, or friends who have just been and who can share travel tips.

Favourite apps

After all this talk about tech, what are their must-have apps (aside from Airbnb, Whatsapp and Dropbox, as mentioned above) for on the road?

1. Google Maps – Ryan and Denyka use this app religiously as it provides detailed information about an area, as well as specific directions from one location to another. Important when trying to find an Airbnb in an unfamiliar city. Thankfully the app also offers aerial and street views of properties. How many arguments do you think this prevents!

2. Maps.Me – the offline equivalent of Google Maps. Although nowhere near as many features, it will still get you back to your accommodation in a pinch. Country maps are downloaded while on a WiFi connection, to be used later while offline.

3. XE Currency – allows comparison and conversion of currencies on-the-go. They found this helpful particularly when purchasing groceries, souvenirs and the odd beverage, and is critical when you’re sticking to a budget.

4. Uber – connects drivers with passengers directly, unlike hailing a taxi or booking through a centralised service. The pair find Uber to be significantly more economical than a taxi. Also, the app tells you how many cars are in your area, and the cheapest, fastest route to a destination.

5. Tripomatic – allows users to choose attractions they want to see and creates a day-by-day itinerary for any journey. Travel books are too heavy to carry, this app is the perfect replacement.

Sarah and I collected magnets of our favourite destinations around the world. Ryan and Denyka’s tradition is a little more physical – they take photos of themselves doing handstands in front of iconic landmarks and buildings!

Ryan and Denyka - Washington DC - Whitehouse

If you’ve found this helpful, have a tip or story to share, please let us know in the comments below.

Read about our Christmas in Copenhagen here