Within every epic adventure, there’s a moment of realisation; that your trip is not that endless journey of amazement you once thought it would be.
Like a hardy explorer, who — with a smile in his heart — stands tall and breathes deeply, after summitting a long-awaited peak, gazing across a landscape of enduring memories, and blinding possibilities, he knows the only way is down.
But what if there were ways for everyday travellers, like you and I, to make the experience last just a little bit longer? A doggy life, designed to eke out the last remaining drops of your trip.
It should come as no surprise — given the title of this blog post — that I have summoned five relatively easy steps to help you to do that.
I’m about to whip you through a run-down, which should inspire you to dabble with at least one idea. However, this is far from a dictatorship; if you’ve discovered a secret solution to stretching your travel experiences just a little bit further, then I welcome you to scribe them into our trusty comments section, right at the foot of this post.
You know the drill. You’ve booked yourself a 20 hour bus journey through some rough and rickety terrain, and as much as it’s always worth it once you arrive at the next amazing destination, those hours can drag big time while you’re en route.
So, how do you entertain yourself for that long trip? Your iPod is an obvious choice, but won’t last for the whole journey. A book is a good option, although after an hour it’s likely to become travel sickness central.
Of course, looking out of the window and taking in the incredible scenery is the number one thing to do on a long bus journey (it is the very reason you’re all those miles away from home after all) however, your brain will probably need some variation, even from that.
Marc van Vuren / Shutterstock.com
To help you out, I’ve clubbed together a selection of pretty useless, but very cool tricks that you can spend time perfecting and then use to impress your mates for years to come. I’ve even included some handy YouTube clips to help you perfect your technique.
In the age of the cheap long haul flight, it’s easier than ever to escape to far flung corners of the world and forget about what we have right here on our doorstop. Step forward Europe. It’s got culture, diversity, history, pavement cafés and a rail system that connects the whole damn continent. In a nutshell, it’s every traveller’s dream.
But what if you’ve already drunk steins with the best of them in Munich, sailed down the canals on a gondola in Venice and posed for those photos in Paris where it looks like you’re holding the Eiffel Tower in the palm of your hand?
Don’t fret. Europe, like a caped crusader that just can’t be defeated, is swooping in and coming to the rescue. It’s bursting with unique, charismatic cities that have managed to remain slightly below the tourist radar and just begging to be the star of your next long weekend.
The cobbled street - a European city staple | Image courtesy of Kevin George
Hello curious traveller! If you’ve visited before – welcome back! And if this is your first time – well aren’t you in for a treat. The Travel Gauntlet opens its doors every fortnight to one travel enthusiast and one of our very own Travel Experts, both willing to have their travel knowledge, expertise and storytelling abilities put to the test.
We’ve had lots of you guys stepping forward over the past few weeks, all asking to have a go at running the Travel Gauntlet. We’re a welcoming bunch here; we never turn an eager traveller away. So drop us an email if you want to take part, and you’ll get five questions of your very own to answer.
So let’s meet this week’s brave participants…
In the red corner, it’s…
…travel fan James Watson from Hertfordshire! Here he is making friends on Monkey Island near Koh Phi Phi in Thailand. James says, “I spent the whole day there, the island was empty so we just had a few beers watched the sunset and then took a slow boat back to the beach”. Sounds lovely!
James monkeys around (sorry) in Thailand
Imagine spending your entire day talking about travel, and putting together people’s dream trips, while gaining qualifications and getting paid for your efforts. Meet Alun Chapple, one of young apprentices.
We know that dedication and passion are what makes a great Travel Expert (our fancy term for a sales consultant!), not necessarily qualifications and previous experience. So we’ve introduced STA Travel apprenticeships. An awesome way you can earn a living and learn about the travel industry, while gaining an NVQ and certificate in travel services (including a shed load of cool perks to boot).
Alun — yes, with a U — is 20 years old, and has joined the team in our Southampton store, after gaining a spot on the apprenticeship programme. I caught up with him to get the low-down on what he thinks of his job, and what makes him tick when it comes to travelling.
Here's Alun striking a perfect Travel Expert pose, at our store in Southampton