Your 2019 travel horoscope

Question: How do you make sure that your next trip is your best trip?

Answer: You planet.

OR, you could throw cosmic caution to the wind, and turn to the stars instead!

Hear us out, celestial cynics.

Ever wondered why you’re compatible with certain travel companions, or are drawn to seemingly random destinations? (Aside from the intergalactic forces of Instagram, that is). Or, why some travellers are organised within an inch of their spreadsheets, while you’re perpetually upside down in your backpack in search of your passport? (Capricorn, meet Gemini – you guys need each other).

Well, we think we just might have the answers. Or at the very least, have had a lot of fun trying!

Shoot to your star sign, or read the whole chart and share with your besties.

 

Aquarius | Pisces | Aries | Taurus | Gemini | Cancer | Leo | Virgo | Libra | Scorpio | Sagittarius | Capricorn

AQUARIUS
“The wannabe influencer”
Uranus can cause major problems for Aquarian travellers. (Sorry, we just had to get it out of the way, we’re honestly done now). As their ruling planet, it can make them either timid and shy, or boisterous and eccentric in character. But what all Aquarians share, aside from a confusing personality disorder, is their independence, quirkiness and intellectual nature. Aquarians see a world of possibilities everywhere, making them natural travellers, always searching for offbeat and original destinations, and sharing them with others.

Although adept at putting up barriers to avoid intimate situations, often coming across as aloof until you have gained their trust (never hug an Aquarian, not even an awkward side hug), Aquarians are big-hearted humanitarians. They love helping people and are excellent problem solvers, always able to see both sides of a situation. This makes them great travel companions, useful for adjudicating card games, drinking competitions and arguments over who gets the top bunk. (Back down Leo, go and cat nap somewhere else).

Symbolised by a water bearer, an Aquarius is also a useful traveller to have on your team. Especially in the following situations: hot countries, hiking, all other travel-related occasions.

Travel match: The weird, wacky and wonderful world of Japan.
Cosmic compatibility: Should travel with a Leo or Sagittarius.
Can’t travel without: Water purifying tablets or a UV Steripen.
Most likely to abroad: Start a niche blog about Japanese cat cafés.

PISCES
“The soul surfer”
No Kurt Cobain, it’s not okay to eat fish. These fish have feelings. Lots of feelings.

The most tolerant sign of the zodiac, Pisces make the kindest travellers and most faithful travelling companions. Wise, compassionate and always willing to help others, they easily make new friends and ask for very little back.

Ruled by the planet Neptune, Pisces are an artistic bunch who are drawn to music as much as water, with beaches and lakesides appealing to their spiritual, melodic and, let’s face it, lazy side! Man, these swimmers love to nap. However, for these music-loving soles, it’s all about the bass. And their desire to grab a moment of solitude or sleep on the road will usually come after they’ve gone completely cray at a club, festival or beach bar. They generally hake show offs, and would rather to be alone rather than spend time with travellers who aren’t on their wavelength.

Because of their easygoing nature, Pisces can often come across as pushovers, so don’t forget to stand up for yourself this year! In the world of travelling, you may be a small fish in a big pond, but be careful not to lose your voice and get lost at sea.

Water analogies and fish puns over. (Sorry, ish).

Travel match: Festival travel, anywhere, so long as there is a beat and a beach to sleep on after.
Cosmic compatibility: Should travel with a Virgo or Taurus.
Can’t travel without: Snorkel mask and eye mask.
Most likely to abroad: Adopt a stray puppy and hide it from hostel staff.

ARIES
“The CEO (Chief Exploration Officer)”
Represented by a flying ram, Aries are clearly natural travellers. (Although in general, ewe should always be wary of livestock on any form of aircraft). The first sign of the zodiac, Aries travellers are certainly not afraid to be leaders of the pack. Ruled by their heads, they’ll pick the destination, plan the itinerary and probably buy the first round at the airport. Confident, enthusiastic and born organisers, they make excellent travel companions for the more laidback or indecisive signs of the solar system. (Looking at you Libra, stop weighing things up and sort out your cosmic BS).

One of the most active of the star signs, Aries travellers are also adventurous, outdoorsy and naturally competitive. Which is why you should never go head to horns with an Aries at either running races, competitive sandcastle building or hostel card games. Guaranteed, you’ll end up being the ‘Arsehole’. (Or ‘Shithead’, or whatever other unfortunately named card game you’re playing that night).

Never happier than when out on a mission or planning one, just be aware that these itchy-hooved travellers may become impatient with long periods of inactivity, and so should be avoided at all costs on designated hangover/hammock days.

Travel match: Campervan road trip across North America, Australia or New Zealand.
Cosmic compatibility: Should travel with a Libra or Leo.
Can’t travel without: GoPro to capture everything as they speed through life.
Most likely to abroad: Steal all your money at pool.

TAURUS
“The high flyer”
The wandering bull, it’s said that these wayfaring bovines are destined to wander the planet in search of love. Whether actual bull or not, this sign is clearly destined to be a great traveller. And if not find love, at the very least get some excellent passport stamps trying.

Ruled by Venus, the planet of love, Taurus travellers are drawn to romance and beauty. Lovers of art, culture and food, they literally have the horn for anything that pulls on their creative senses – cookery classes, basket weaving, neon body paint…

That said, whilst a magpie towards shiny and material things, and thus the star sign that’s most likely to blow their budget on big gestures or a plate of Michelin-star microherbs, they’re also a hands-on Earth sign, and equally wouldn’t be out of place on a volunteer project.

One of the most reliable signs, a Taurus is a solid person to travel with – protective, loving and generous. But be careful, they are risk averse (this bull will never bungy) and prone to stubbornness. Never take a bull by the horns. They prefer harmony and routine, often happier in big cities rather than off-the-beaten-track destinations, so let them lead and don’t make them go anywhere they don’t want to.

Travel match: Explore the colour, creativity and classicism of Buenos Aires.
Cosmic compatibility: Should travel with a Scorpio or Cancer.
Can’t travel without: A stylish and well-planned travel wardrobe.
Most likely to abroad: Actually visit an art gallery, rather than just pretend to like everyone else.

GEMINI
“The Peter Pan traveller”
Let’s party! No, let’s read a book. Doh, I just don’t know what’s up with me today, I feel so conflicted!

Ladies, gentlemen and mystics, meet your split personality traveller, Gemini. Curious, expressive and pathologically scared of routine, Geminis fly by the seat of their elephant-print pants, constantly running away from boredom and towards their next adventure.

Making friends? No problem. Next destination? Sure. Happy to take whatever life throws at them, Gemini are born travellers. Often feeling like their other half is missing, they’re constantly on the search for new friends and experiences. However, they are gentle rather than overbearing souls, and hate travelling alone. Which is fine, when cosmically at least, as twins there are always at least two of you.

Big chatters and deep thinkers, Geminis make excellent travel companions, especially for shyer signs whose worst nightmare is first-day hostel chat. The only problem is, restless one minute and reflective the next, you never know which Gemini traveller you’re going to get. Which can be confusing, as how do you dress for both a disco AND a fireside discourse on Shantaram? Sequins, perhaps.

However sweet and social as a sign, a Gemini’s love for a D&M can be exhausting. Which is why it’s wise to politely shun a chatty Gemini traveller in the following situations: hangovers, toilet queues, libraries.

Travel match: The Philippines. Only another 7,000 more islands to go, you guys!
Cosmic compatibility: Should travel with a Sagittarius or Aquarius.
Can’t travel without: A worn copy of Paolo Coelho’s The Alchemist.
Most likely to abroad: Go fully nomad, only to turn up three years later with a freaking awesome beard.

CANCER
“The BTF (Best Travel Friend)”
Although depicted as a lone crab, solo travel isn’t always in the stars for Cancerian travellers. Their adventurous imagination, but strong ties to friends and family at home, can often see them scuttling sideways back to shore. (Which is also okay, as in this metaphor, that’s usually where the beach bar is).

Despite their hard shell, these compassionate crustaceans are a sensitive sign, deeply empathetic to the world around them. This makes them wonderful travellers, kind to the people and places they visit. Usually happier travelling with their close inner circle, Cancerians can often end up being more concerned with whether everyone else is having a good time, rather than focusing on creating their own memories.

However tricky Cancerians may be to get to know at first, once cracked, you’ll struggle to find a more fun, loyal and protective travelling companion. Put it this way, they’re not the type of traveller to spill their guts to a bunch of strangers around a firepit and five cans of strong cider, but they are the type to hold your hair back if you do.

Just be aware, as a Water sign, Cancerians will have waves of highs and lows, so leave them alone for their ‘me’ time or they may get crabby. Just make sure they don’t hermit too much.

Travel match: A group trip around Indonesia or Southeast Asia with mates.
Cosmic compatibility: Should travel with a Capricorn or Taurus.
Can’t travel without: Their headphones. While better in groups, Cancerians need their alone time.
Most likely to abroad: Get a really crap matching traveller tattoo… because everyone else has.

LEO
“The animal”
The mane event, you’ll always find a Leo at the heart of the action, surrounded by new friends. A Fire sign with great hair, Leo travellers are confident, warmhearted and outgoing, with an infectious energy that can be impossible to resist. Effortlessly collecting friends from all over the world, their trips are often planned around visiting them.

Quick-minded and quick-witted, these cool cats like to dominate and are great problem-solvers. Happy to take the initiative when it comes to resolving tricky travelling situations, but too fearful of embarrassment or failure to get into any real scrapes, they make great travel companions.

Just be aware though, that travelling with a Leo can be full on. In love with life and everything it offers, these lions rarely sleep – tonight or any other night. (A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh… apologies for the Lion King earworm that’s now stuck on loop in your head!). This passion for the wild life makes Leos excellent party animals, but shocking dorm room companions. Plus, you know, the snoring.

Unable to resist an adventure, Leos suffer FOMO easily and don’t like to hear the word ‘no’. They are the kings and queens of the jungle after all, with a large pride. The ego kind, not just the harem-of-worshipping-followers kind.

Travel match: Tanzania safari followed by Zzzzzz on Zanzibar’s tropical beaches.
Cosmic compatibility: Should travel with an Aquarius or Gemini.
Can’t travel without: Tinder.
Most likely to abroad: Go to a party in one country and wake up in another. And then selfie it.

VIRGO
“The excel explorer”
Expert planners, every traveller needs this celestial goddess on their squad. Virgos are kind, loyal, and possess the one thing that all travellers desire – an alphabetically-ordered Lonely Planet bookshelf.

The organisers and analysers of the zodiac, Virgos like practicality, cleanliness and wellness: traits that are reflected in how they travel. Fortunately for these list-loving signs, the travel world is home to the king of all lists – the bucket list! And a Virgo traveller will rarely feel happy with themselves until they have ticked off every experience on it.

An Earth sign, Virgos have a deep sense of humanity, and are drawn to places of natural beauty and calmness that appeal to their orderly nature. Which is why if you ever meet a stranger on a mountain quietly formatting an Excel spreadsheet, it’s most probably a Virgo.

However, Virgos can often come unstuck in the chaos of travelling life. They like to leave very little to chance and can get so obsessed with the details, that they forget to enjoy the ride. Take heed, hardworking Virgos, your sign is a goddess! Try to balance work and play, and let your locks down a bit more this year. Besides, every traveller needs a massively misjudged dreadlock phase.

Travel match: Working holiday in Canada. Clean mountain air and just the right amount of mischief.
Cosmic compatibility: Should travel with a Pisces or Cancer.
Can’t travel without: Anti-bac, guidebook and a bucket list.
Most likely to abroad: Completely freak out when they run out of the aforementioned anti-bac.

LIBRA
“The wandering diplomat”
Ahh, the scales. No one’s friend in bathrooms or at the bungy jump weigh in, everyone’s friend when it comes to negotiating a peaceful resolution to the great Anglo-Aussie traveller debate: Marmite vs. Vegemite. (Marmite clearly, you actual monsters).

The zodiac’s most sociable sign, Librans are sharers, thinkers and lovers. Philosophical but non-confrontational, they require constant stimulation from the things around them, whether that be books or beauty. As travellers, they are quick to form emotional connections whenever they travel and are prone to falling in love. (Ski instructors, surf instructors, diving instructors of the world, watch out! Not you driving instructors, sorry).

Like their namesake scales, Librans crave symmetry when they travel and the perfect balance of exploring and chilling. Often sentimental, they’re happy to revisit past destinations, where they’ll always find a new reason to fall in love with it again. Although they like beautiful things, their fair-minded spirit and sense of humanity hates conformity, and so they often find beauty in places others don’t.

Easily able to adjust to new situations, Librans make laidback travel companions. However, their indecisiveness can be frustrating. Also, on the other side of the scales, their love for a debate can often tip over into “I told you so” territory. No one likes a know it all, Libra.

Travel match: Balance your yin and yang with a rafting and yoga retreat in Rishikesh, India.
Cosmic compatibility: Should travel with an Aries or Sagittarius.
Can’t travel without: Something to read. Librans rarely visit a place without learning about it first.
Most likely to abroad: Have been there, done that and got their t-shirt stolen for being so annoying.

SCORPIO
“The sassy one”
There’s no beating around the bush, jungle or any other nature-related metaphor with Scorpio travellers. One of the most distinctive signs of the zodiac, Scorpios are decisive and independent, always confident in where they’re going and what they’re doing. Passionate and brave, but with cool heads, their resourcefulness as travellers is a cosmic force to be reckoned with. Essentially, if you need to argue your way out of a missed bus, hostel mix up or unpaid parking ticket, you need a Scorpio on your side – they will never back down.

Scorpios may initially come across as suspicious, and much like their namesake scorpions, spikey. However, as a Water sign, they are deeply in tune with their own and other people’s emotions. Once you get past the tough traveller act, they make the most loyal friends, which is why you’ll often find Scorpios travelling with a bunch of lifetime mates.

Like life, Scorpios attack travelling at a million miles an hour, always pushing their itineraries and holiday allowance to include as many new places and experiences as they can. Our advice to you Scorpio, would be to take some time to chill this year. Not everything in life is a battle.

Travel match: Embrace your Water sign and some ‘Fiji time’ on the islands.
Cosmic compatibility: Should travel with a Taurus or Cancer.
Can’t travel without: Their phone, with every app imaginable – Scorpio’s have to be in control.
Most likely to abroad: Talk their way into an upgrade.

SAGITTARIUS
“The lone ranger”
Depicted as an armed centaur, Sagittarius are the great travellers of the zodiac.

Strong-willed, independent and outdoorsy, they make fearless solo travellers, happy to leave the pack behind and veer off the beaten track. Which also pretty much makes them the heartbreakers of the hostel world. Bye bye love of my life, it was fun while it lasted. (Aries sobs quietly into her guidebook).

Ruled by Jupiter, the largest planet of the zodiac, Sagittarius are larger-than-life characters, whose enthusiasm for the world knows no bounds. Known for their generosity and humour, if you come across a Sag on your travels, hold onto them while you can – it will be one hell of a ride.

However, never try to trap a Sag. Happy with their own company and not needing the approval of others, if a situation isn’t working for them, they’ll simply move on. Clinginess will only increase their impatient nature and itchy hooves. Also, these warriors shoot from the hip, with an honesty that can come across as blunt. Basically, if you’re having an emotional day, never ask a Sag if your bum looks big. They’ll say yes. Which is ironic, as their sign is half horse. Ass.

Our advice for 2019, stop trailblazing. Sometimes, we all need to be part of a pack.

Travel match: Gallop off into the sunset and snow-capped solitude of Patagonia.
Cosmic compatibility: Should travel with a Gemini or Aries.
Can’t travel without: A battered 20-year old rucksack, covered in sew-on patches.
Most likely to abroad: Add the most notches to their belt, sorry, patches to their pack.

CAPRICORN
“The flashpacker”
All work and no play makes Capricorn a dull… goat? One of the most disciplined signs of the zodiac, it’s time to give this hardworker a holiday!

Like their fellow Earth signs, Capricorns are practical, organised and make excellent trip planners. However, they often find it difficult to completely unwind on holiday, preferring instead to keep busy with day trips, nights out, and business calls by the pool on giant 80s mobile phones. Nope, that’s definitely the TV show, Dallas. Either way, whatever floats their goat. Because you should never push a Capricorn – they are always completely in charge of their own destiny.

Perfectionists to the core, whose success in life and love of nice things often makes them more flashpacker than backpacker, a Capricorn’s trip will always be the envy of others, with beautifully curated Insta stories and posts. (Even if it was a struggle to reach that summit, you will never see it).

Detail orientated, a Capricorn’s travel plans are always achievable, they always know what visas are required, and they never lose anything. Nope, not even at 3am. This admirable skill for passport and hostel key detective work, combined with their loyalty and kindness, makes them excellent travel companions.

Travel match: Apply your hardworking ethos to a volunteer project in Central America.
Cosmic compatibility: Should travel with a Taurus or Cancer.
Can’t travel without: Wi-Fi. Instagram can’t update itself.
Most likely to abroad: Surprise everyone by falling in love with the trip leader and becoming an artisan cheesemaker.

24 things travellers may find confusing about Australia

1. Sausage Sizzles. If an Australian invites you to one of these, politely accept. It means you’re going to eat sausages (snags), possibly for charity.

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2. Thongs. If you’re going to work in thongs, you (probably) don’t work in a strip club, you’re merely wearing flip flops to work.

3. No one actually drinks Fosters. Gutted.

4. Everyone is obsessed with the radio station, Triple J. And when the annual Hottest 100 is released on Australia Day, most Australians wet themselves with excitement.

5. Golden Gaytime, anyone? We’re actually just offering you a much-loved Australian ice-cream.

6. Australia has snow, and ski resorts. Mind. Blown.

7. Burger King is called Hungry Jacks in Australia.

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8. The beer sizes are beyond confusing and can vary between states. Schooners, ponies, pots, handles, pints (that aren’t pint-sized)… it’s fairly messed up.

9. Although every Australian we’ve ever met has been blind drunk, it’s actually illegal to be drunk in a pub in Australia.

10. To work in a bar in some parts of Australia, you may have to pass a RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) test on how to spot drunk people. Tip: they look just like you.

11. Gambling though is fine, with most pubs having an area designated to slot machines, or “pokies”.

12. Sliced beetroot in burgers, really?

13. Swearing. It can take a while for visitors to get used to being greeted with, “oi ****!”. But it’s actually a nice thing, and usually just means “Hey friend!”.

14. Bogans.

15. The place names are often a source of confusion, and humour. Humpty Doo, Come by Chance, Titty Bong, and Eggs & Bacon Bay.

16. Fairy Bread. White bread, butter, sprinkles… even acceptable for fully-formed adults to eat.

17. Want to grab a nice bottle of wine to go with your lonely dinner-for-one? Well you can’t, saddo. Supermarkets don’t sell booze, so you’ll have to go to the “Bottle-O” instead.

18. … and these are sometimes drive-thru. Roll with it.

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19. Lollies. Particularly confusing to Brits, lollies are sweets or candy and DO NOT come on a stick.

20. EFTPOS. This is how Australians pay for things.

21. AFL. In our opinion, seven too many players for a footy pitch. Those tiny shorts though, we’re down with.

22. Australians getting really dressed up, and then absolutely smashed. Usually on race day.

23. Eurovision. Don’t be freaked out, but Australia is in Eurovision. They love it more than we do for some reason, so we allow it.

24. Frog, toad and cockroach racing in pubs. So wrong.

Now that we’ve prepped you, you’re ready for your Aussie adventure! If you’re looking to read up a little more on Australia, head over to our travel guide for deals, tips and inspiration. Want to hop straight on that flight? Head to our flights page you eager beaver!

7 ways to reduce plastic waste with your ISIC card

Single use plastic. The most maligned material of 2018: everyone is talking about and everyone is trying to reduce it, including the saviours of saving students everywhere over at ISIC HQ! On top of introducing virtual cards, they’ve also secured all these discounts on products that will help your save money AND the planet. Plastic-free props, guys.

 

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1. Go VIRTUAL with ISIC

In a recent effort to reduce their own plastic production and waste, ISIC have made the conscious decision to increase the cost of all ISIC/IYTC/ITIC plastic cards. You can still purchase one of their new kind-to-the-planet virtual ID cards at the normal cost of £12, but if you want a plastic card as well, you’ll need to fork out an additional £3. If you’re a full-time student, under 31 or a teacher, get yours now.

2. Say no to plastic utensils

Sunday hangover got you swiping right to potential food-baes on the delivery apps? Be sure to request NO cutlery with your order! If you can make it to the front door, you can make it to the cutlery drawer in the kitchen. Plus, never be tempted by plastic cutlery during your lunch break by picking up one of these re-usable sporks from Snow+Rock. (ISIC discount: 10% off in-store).

3. Save your 5p coins and avoid plastic carrier bags

This seemingly small charge has reduced the number of carrier bags issued in the UK from 7.6 billion in 2014 to a little over one billion in 2017-18! Let’s see that number drop even further by swapping to reusable carry bags.

4. Use your own reusable cup

Don’t be fooled by paper takeaway cups, they usually have an inner plastic lining that can’t be recycled, not to mention plastic lids. If you’re running late to class/work/most things and must get takeaway, bring your own reusable cup to your local coffee dealer. Or go to LEON (ISIC discount: 15% off). They’ll pour your life energy into biodegradable, compostable and recyclable cups.

5. Straight from the tap

Tap water in the UK is the most rigorously tested in the world, actually making it safer to drink than bottled water. Plus, it’s free! So why not pour it into a reusable bottle from the purveyors of PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING WE EVER WANTED TO BUY IN THE WORLD over at Hema. Plus, they also do eco-friendly washing up liquid. Legends. (ISIC discount: 10% off).

6. Straws suck, big time

Do the ocean a favour and request no straw with your drink orders. We couldn’t be prouder of the Latin food lovers and cocktail connoisseurs over at Las Iguanas (ISIC discount: 25% off), who recently decided to go straw-free. Not a fan of having to lift a glass to your lips (#thestruggleisreal #butisitreally), or paper party straws that go soft in minutes? Invest in reusable straws, problem solved.

7. Rethink disposable health and beauty items

Items like toothbrushes, disposable razors and shower gels all have plastic-free, eco-friendly alternatives. Introducing ISIC’s fave new discount partner, Acala (ISIC discount: 15% off). They’re an all-natural online store with a mantra of plastic free and zero waste packaging. Items range from bamboo toothbrushes and charcoal toothpaste to shampoo bars (hello never-having-to-worry-about-the-100ml-liquid-limit at the airport again).

Ready to help save the planet with an ISIC card? Head to our site to buy one, eco-warrior!

10 things in New Zealand to throw yourself off

Bungy jumps, skydives, human hamster wheels… New Zealand is the home of adrenalin adventures.

With most backpacker hop-on hop-off buses and group tours building in time on their itineraries for people to throw themselves off, at, or down stuff, there’s no escaping New Zealand’s love for adventure.

So get out of your comfort zone and into a dropzone by ticking off a few of these extreme sports.

Bungy jumping

In 1987, Kiwi AJ Hackett snuck up the Eiffel Tower and threw himself off. Giant pylon-inspired architecture isn’t for everyone.

The cord-bouncing daredevil then went on to illegally jump off even more buildings and bridges before finally going straight and setting up jump sites (plus canyon swings, ziprides and other stomach-dropping mischief) back home in New Zealand.

Where: Karawau, Nevis and The Ledge in Queenstown, and the Auckland Bridge Bungy. Best bit: The free upside-down hair rinse at the bottom, it adds extra bounce to your locks.

Shotover Jet

Speeding through narrow river canyons, 360° spins, screaming passengers… not a high-speed American car chase, but the world’s most famous jetboat ride.

Where: Shotover River, Queenstown. Best bit: Having your expletives drowned out by face fulls of water.

Tandem skydiving

Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of sitting next to a screaming child and/or the flight has run out of gin, will know all about wanting to throw themselves out of a plane.

Where: Auckland, Taupo, Wanaka or Queenstown. Best bit: Being strapped to an instructor.

 

OGO

There’s only one thing better than rolling down a 350-metre hill in a giant inflatable ball. Filling that giant inflatable ball with water.

Where: Rotorua. Best bit: Being a bit of an animal – even if it is just a hamster.

 

Whitewater rafting

Some of the greatest and most scenic rafting in the world, they call it white because that’s generally the colour of your face. Things rapid-ly get better though, usually when you stop for lunch.

Where: Queenstown and Rotorua. Best bit: When your guide tells you it’s their first day on the job, LOL.

 

Blackwater rafting

 

The hipsters of the rafting world (it’s all about the underground scene), this is like regular rafting, only along subterranean rivers, caves and waterfalls.

Where: Waitomo Caves. Best bit: Finding out that glow worms live in cities.

 

Scuba diving

Jacques Cousteau, the undisputed champion of underwater wandering, rated Poor Knights Island as one of the best dives in the world. The sea-battered volcanoes are now a web of cliffs and tunnels; home to sponge gardens, psychedelic marine life, stingrays and the world’s largest sea cave.

Where: Poor Knights Island, North Island. Best bit: Breathing underwater.

 

Cycling

Coastal tracks, mountain passes and stunning lakesides – this scenery never gets tyre-ing. Head out on iconic day rides, such as the Otago Central Rail Trail or Te Anau to Manapouri, or go full pelt and ride from Auckland to Wellington, or Christchurch to Queenstown with an organised group tour.

Where: Wherever the wheels are, there’ll be a way. Best bit: Padded shorts. Otherwise, it’s just a bit of a bummer.

 

Skiing and boarding

World-famous for its skiing, you wouldn’t be board on either of New Zealand’s islands. However, you can’t beat the Southern Alps on the South Island. Easy access to four ski fields – Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Cardrona and Treble Cone – plus great bars to get piste in afterwards.

Where: Wanaka or Queenstown. Best bit: The pizza at Winnie’s in Queenstown afterwards.

Surfing

Raglan is not only a barrel of laughs (surfer joke), but it also has the longest and most consistent left-hand break in the world. If caught, a pro surfer could ride it for 2km. If you’re a beginner, maybe wait until you’ve got the hang (ten) of things a bit first.

Where: Raglan, North Island. Best bit: It’s all pretty swell.

Ready to head off on an adventure in New Zealand à la Bilbo Baggins (minus the creepy Orcs and the endless war)? Check out our New Zealand travel guide, which has loads of handy info, plus deals across flights, tours, flexible bus passes and campervans.

10 myths about Round the World tickets, answered

Hello confusion, it’s us, STA Travel – the original Round the World Experts. We’re here to answer all your questions about Round the World tickets from; ‘Can you only fly in one direction?’, ‘Are tickets only valid for 12 months?’, ‘Can I only do a set route?’, and ‘Do planes have a left phalange?’ (OK, the last one, we still don’t know the answer…)

Myth: I can’t make up my own route.

Codswallop.

This may be true of other travel companies – where you have to choose a route based on mileage, airlines or the number of stops – but happily, that’s not us.
We’ve been negotiating (flirting/bribing) with the world’s leading airlines for over 35 years so just tell our Travel Experts exactly where you want to go, and they’ll piece these tickets together to create your ultimate route.

Example 1: Howard liked Icelandic blondes, doughnuts and ancient South American civilisations. People said it wasn’t possible, some even laughed, we didn’t and so the below route was born, now open to all who share the same dreams. Thanks Howard.

 

Example 2: Sally landed a job working at a summer camp close to New York, then wanted to travel the whole of the USA overland, before heading to Asia to volunteer. Via, of course, some of the best beaches in the world. And Sally wasn’t the only one who envisioned a gap year that looked just like this. Hence, the Bula Loop was birthed.

Psst. We have a whole host of Round the World routes so popular we named them right here, with extra ‘add-on’ destinations available from just £49 a pop.

 

Myth: I have to fly in one direction around the world.

Why? Are you Superman? Or Santa?
With our exclusive tickets, there are no restrictions. Fly out and back via the same route, fly in a loop the loop, heck, fly to every single country if you really want (though that really isn’t cost effective). If you can dream it, we can do it – cue the jazzy music.

Example: Ali wanted to fly from the UK to Canada, then to New Zealand, then back to Canada, then back to New Zealand on his Round the World trip. Ali wasn’t great at planning trips but luckily his Travel Expert was.

 

Myth: I have to be a student to book at STA Travel.

Let’s clear this up once and for all, before someone does a keg stand in one our stores.
WE ARE NOT JUST FOR STUDENTS.

True, if you’re a full-time student or under 31, you qualify for our legendary BlueTicket service, however, we still cater to you over 30’s because you know, you don’t hit your 30th birthday and decide to never leave the country again…

Example: Mike had such a good time on his gap year that his mum and dad decided to spend some of Mike’s inheritance on two Round the World tickets. Mike is furious. His parents have ignored his messages on Facebook, they’re in Brazil learning to samba.

Myth: All Round the World tickets go via Australia.

Well, this is definitely not right, but it’s so, so right to go visit Australia. Just sayin’. 

Myth: I have to pay for my ticket all in one go

Baloney! (We love this word, we don’t even care.)

At STA Travel, we don’t agree with credit card debt, organ harvesting or blackmail as legitimate methods to fund your trip. That’s why on the majority of our tickets, you’ll be able to put down a deposit to secure your flights while they’re at their cheapest, and pay the balance 10 weeks before you fly.

Example: Jenny checked her bank account on the 20th of the month to find just £64 left… Gutted after dreaming of booking a trip around the world, she then came across the £49 deposit offer with STA Travel and in ten minutes had her flights booked and spent the remaining £15 on wine to celebrate. Now that’s what we call budget management.

Myth: It’s cheaper to book myself online.

Are you a wizard? No? Luckily our Travel Experts are… Travellers themselves, they’re awesome human beings with the added bonus of having useful flight knowledge!

Round the World tickets are virtually impossible to book online, or the fares are too complex to be available online. Piecing together the route, rules and pricing of months worth of flights takes knowledge, patience and a Sherlock Holmes-style mind palace of airline routes and stopovers.

Myth: Tickets get cheaper the later you book.

Lies.

Airlines release their seats around 10-11 months ahead of the flight, and those seats are released in different price brackets. The cheapest seats will always sell out first, so the later you book, the more you’ll have to pay.

Example: Cheryl once got a bargain last-minute package holiday to Falirake in Greece, so waited until the week before to book her Round the World ticket. Cheryl is going back to Falirake this year.

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Myth: I can only go away for 12 months.

Granted, this is the case with some set Round the World tickets. However, we realised long ago that one year wasn’t nearly long enough to see the world. That’s why we have unique tickets where you can stay away for 18 months or longer. Perfect for working holiday makers, students and trust fund jetset babies with bundles of someone else’s cash.

Myth: It’s expensive to change dates.

Wrong.

It’s a universal truth that travellers excel at happy hours and changing their minds. That’s why we invented MultiFLEX. Add this date change pass to your flights and make unlimited changes to your flights on the road.

Tip: Try and give as much notice as you can when changing your dates. We’re good, but we can’t magic extra seats on planes that are either full or have sold out of your priced ticket.

So in summary. You can pretty much make up your own route, pay for it later and if you fudge up on the road, change your dates anyway. Fancy having a look at our routes? Head on over to our round the world page or our multi-stop flights.

8 things you need to know about booking your next flight as early as possible

Everybody wants to pay as little as humanly possible for their trip. Why waste cash on expensive flights when you could spend it on, you know, actually travelling? But how can you make sure you’re getting the best deal? Fear not, we’re about to give you a few handy hints and insider info that could help you save a bundle on your next trip.

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ISIC me! How to save on planning and packing for your trip

Pop quiz. What do all the below have in common?

Lonely-rugby-shirt-wearing-Millennial-runs-late-to-airport? Nope? …No idea then.

Answer: They are just five of the thousands of travel, tech and fashion items you can get discounts on with your ISIC card. Intrigued? Read on, traveller, and you could save hundreds throughout your gap year.

 

What is an ISIC card?

It’s the only form of internationally recognised student ID, and we’ve been flashing our ISIC plastic around the planet for local student discounts and free drinks for years. But what we didn’t realise, was just how much you could save on planning and packing before you go.

An ISIC card will set you back just £12. Plus, the kind-to-the-planet humans at ISIC have now made their cards plastic-free with new virtual ID cards on their free app. So, you can keep your plastic fantastic Barbs, we ain’t interested. (We may still want to play with your Barbie Dreamhouse though, and perhaps Ken’s smart casual ‘resort-wear’ wardrobe…).

From airport trains to travel threads and tech, tap on the ISIC app for all this good stuff before you go. Here’s how.

 

Planning your trip

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Lonely Planet – 30% off guides

The oracle for travellers everywhere, we don’t know what we did before Lonely Planet. Got lost and phoned home a lot, probably. With your ISIC card you’ll get 30% off all printed guidebooks and eBooks on the Lonely Planet UK online shop.

 

STA Travel Clinic – 10% off vaccinations

Holler, there’s a doctor in the house! Well, it’s actually a nurse, and they’re inside a selected range of STA Travel stores, but it’s basically the same thing. Get 10% off vaccinations at travel clinics in our London Victoria, Liverpool, Manchester Deansgate, Leeds, Bristol and Southampton stores.

 

Getting to the airport

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20% off National Express

National Express coaches connect almost 1,000 towns, cities and regional airports across the UK, and they’re the best option for budget-minded backpackers hitting up the world via the departures lounge of any London airport. Or home to see mum and dad.

 

25% off Travel from London Paddington to Heathrow on the Heathrow Express

It only takes 25 minutes. Boom. Just avoid stowaway bears with a penchant for marmalade – it could slow you down.

 

25% off the Gatwick Express

Depart from London Victoria Coach Station (the hub connecting London with the rest of the UK via coach), and in just 30 minutes, you’ll be airside and nursing one final British pint in the Wetherspoons in no time.

 

25% off the Stansted Express

One for all the north and east Londoners. Trains depart from London Liverpool Street to Stanstead Airport via Tottenham Hale every 15 minutes.

 

 

On the road

 

10% off Withlocals experiences

See a city like a local, with over 1,000 activities, day trips and food experiences – all run by the natives who know it best.

 

30% off language courses with Busuu

With over 80 million users, Busuu is the world’s largest social network for learning a language. Learn online at home or on the road with the Busuu app.

 

20% off your first booking and 10% off your second booking with FlixBus

We’re so onboard with this ethos. Founded as a start-up to offer sustainable and affordable European bus travel, the FlixBus network now connects 1,700+ destinations.

 

 

Travel gear

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10% off instore at Snow+Rock

This is where you’ll find the planet’s coolest brands including Roxy and Quicksilver (for the surfers), Norrona, Patagonia and The North Face (for the climbers) and Fjallraven (for general cool as hell explorer types).

 

10% off instore at Cotswold Outdoor

Go get some expert advice and every piece of traveller kit imaginable, from walking boots to water bottles.

 

10% off online at O’Neill

Shredders and surfers since 1952, O’Neill also invented the wetsuit, so your new surf ‘n’ turf capsule wardrobe is in legendary hands.

 

 

Fashion threads

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Because tie-dye everything, $2 elephant print pants and turtle anklets will only get you so far (across the whole of Asia to Australia ain’t bad though).

 

Jack Wills – 15% off instore

Flash your ISIC in any Jack Wills store for 15% off your holiday shop, from sunnies and passport holders, to their signature sweats.

 

Missguided – 10% off online

One for the adventuresses. Bold, straight talking and forward thinking, take your fierce look away with you, with 10% off online.

 

Forever 21 – 10% off online and instore

The peter pan of fashion, as travellers, we’re also up for being 21 forever. Get 10% off your new travel wardrobe online and instore. Hema – 10% off instore We love Hema’s fresh designs and summer vibes. Pick up everything from suitcases and stationary, to hammocks and hand lotion.

 

 

Training for THAT travel bod

We like you exactly as you are, but if you need to get fit before you fly, get in training with these offers…

 

10% off bikes instore at Cycle Surgery

That’s just how we ride.

 

10% off instore at RunnersNeed

Perfect gear for your running away wardrobe.ore.

 

10% off online at Acala

The plastic-free and zero-waste humans at Acala are giving ISIC-holders 10% off their range of eco-friendly health and beauty products.

 

 

Tech

 

 

Up to 10% off Apple products

How do you like these apples? Up to 10% off MacBooks and iPads! For the discount, just verify your card at myisic.co.uk/discounts/apple/.

 

25% off Suido headphones and Marshall headphones, speakers and accessories

More rock ‘n’ roll than the Flinstones, get a whopping 25% off this classic and much-loved British brand. Get your promo code at myisic.co.uk/discounts/marshall-headphones/

 

30% off Trace Me luggage trackers

Worried about the airline losing your bag? Trace Me’s permanent luggage tracker tag will help speed up its recovery and give you USD$500 bag loss guarantee.

 

20% off GoCase products

Your one stop shop for powerbanks, headphones, screen protectors and custom phone cases.

 

Up to 20% off WD Western Digital online with free shipping

Stay safe and sort everything you need to store, share and protect your digital life on your trip, with up 20% off.

 

To buy your ISIC, IYTC or ITIC card, just take your student, under 31 or teacher ID to any STA Travel store, or sort it all online here

Love islands: match to your perfect Fiji island

If you’re anything like us, you’re obsessed with Love Island (not an island at all, but actually a villa in Mallorca), and you spend the weekday slot of 9pm-10pm frantically WhatsApp’ing your other Love Island-obsessed mates…

Did you know that the first series of Love Island was filmed on Armstrong Island in Fiji? Big up Bianca Gascoigne and Calum Best. In honour of those original islanders, we’re playing the part of ‘The Flack’, and getting ready to couple you up with your perfect Fiji Island – that’s 100% your type, and not just on paper.

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Join the green scene! Our eco-traveller packing guide. 

Are you a scruncher, folder or a roller?

Oi, mind out of the cistern! We’re talking about packing. More specifically, how you can be greener and more ethical with what goes into your backpack. 

Buzzkill guys, but by 2050, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. 

As travellers and all around decent human beings, we have a responsibility to protect the rivers, beaches, mountains and oceans that have given us so much unconditional and unqualified love over the years. Which means thinking about what you’re taking with you from your world, into theirs. 

The good news is, both big brands and start-ups are responding to travellers’ desires for more eco-friendly and sustainable travel gear. Here are just some of our favourite green products that are currently out there. 

STAnd up, Go Green, Do Good.

Refillable toiletry bottles

Those handy travel-sized toiletries that we love so much? Great for short trips and getting around the 100ml hand luggage rule, but a nightmare for the oceans and landfill sites where the miniature plastic bottles end up. Invest in refillable bottles instead. We love GoToob by Humangear. Fresh shades, BPA-free and a lifetime guarantee.

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Mineral suncream

Some of the chemicals and parabens in sun-cream are not only bad for your skin, but also for the oceans and reefs that you swim in. Using a mineral-based sun-cream like JĀSÖN will not only protect your skin, but also the environment. There are no artificial colours or animal by-products, and the packaging is bio-degradable and packaged in recycled and/or recyclable containers. Now that’s hot!

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Bamboo toothbrushes

That plastic toothbrush that you replace every six months? That toothbrush never disappears. The plastic can’t decompose, which means all your toothbrushes are out there in the world somewhere.

Go for a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush instead, like Humble Brush. Their ‘Go Humble, Give Smiles’ project also means that for every brush you buy, a child in need will receive a toothbrush, oral care or hygiene education. Plus, bamboo is naturally antimicrobial, so you won’t get any of that nasty bacteria that hang out on your plastic brush.

A post shared by The Humble Co. #HumbleBrush (@thehumble.co) on

Refillable water bottles

Barbie was wrong, plastic is not fantastic. Rivers, coastlines and railway verges clogged with rubbish and plastic bottles are a familiar sight for many travellers. Which is exactly where your single-use plastic bottle will end up.

Take a refillable bottle away with you. We are OBSESSED with Dutch-brand Dopper. So many reasons… not least the dreamy shades of neon corals and cool aquas, BPA-plastic free bottles that are recyclable when you’re done, and a wicked ethos where 5% of the company turnover is pumped into their projects. Oh, and a removable cup that looks – to us – much like it’s designed specifically for wine.

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Soaps and sanitizers

Just what the doctor ordered for every eco-warrior, there’s not a single occasion when we don’t have Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Organic Hand Sanitizer in our hand and man bags. Kills 99.9% of germs, smells incredible, and doesn’t strip your skin like normal anti-bac.

We’re also all over Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid soap. You can use this stuff for literally everything when you’re away – face, body, hair, food, laundry, dishes. It comes in ten lush scents, is made with organic and fair-trade ingredients, and is packaged in a 100% post-consumer recycled bottle.

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Bamboo sarongs

We know what you’re thinking, another bamboo product. And what about the effing pandas, you monsters!

Okay, this does raise an important issue about checking that the natural products you’re buying are responsibly sourced. However, bamboo consumes much less water than cotton and doesn’t need high quality arable land to grow, which makes it much more sustainable. It’s also 60% more absorbent than cotton and it’s super soft (like a panda), making it the perfect travel accessory.

We love Karavan’s Bamboo Peshtemal. Bus blanket, top sheet, sarong, towel… you genuinely have to try one to appreciate how fast they dry out, way faster than a travel towel. Plus, they look sheet hot! Here at STA Travel HQ, they’re a staple for every trip.

Reusable tote bags

Did you know that carrier bags are illegal in Rwanda? Yep, totes ahead of the game.

You’re probably the kind of person that wouldn’t use a single-use plastic bag at home, right? So why would it be any different when you’re away? Take a foldaway reusable tote with you, also great for doubling as a beach and laundry bag.

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Backpacks

The key to backpacks and being sustainable often comes down to longevity and not upgrading your backpack every few years. Find a size and shape that works for you, and you’ll have your beloved pack a lifetime. (On a personal note, this author’s Osprey side-loader is on its 20th year and just about to visit its 89th country. Old school).

However, there are also brands out there such as the mountain legends VAUDE, who now offer environmentally-friendly backpacks that are ethically produced and made from sustainable materials. Check out their awesome Green Shape eco-range.

Sustainable clothing

It’s perhaps fair to say that once-upon-a-time, if you wanted to buy ethical clothing, you had to be into a certain, look? We’re personally down with the whole boho hemp vibes, but if you’re not, brands like Patagonia, Volcom and H&M Conscious are doing sustainable gear that does good and looks good. Surfdome.com have a whole section of their site dedicated to gear that’s sustainable in some way.


We could go on…got your own eco-packing and green tips?

We want to hear them! Shoot us an email at blog@statravel.com 

Want to consume less and do good on your travels. Why not add in one of our conservation trips to your next big adventure? See here.

Where the city slogan is… keep Austin weird

Texas’ quirky state capital has natural beauty, bohemian southern charm and a live music bar on every block. Cruise up the South Congress for vintage boutiques and street art, shop for the perfect pair of cowboy boots at Allens Boots, and cool off with the paddle-boarders and picnickers at super-chill Lady Bird Lake in the middle of town.

shopping in austin

For the art

With community paint parks, iconic street art and random messages of kindness sprayed on the sidewalks, Austin’s streets are galleries in themselves. Check out the famous ‘I love you so much’ script on the side of Jo’s coffee, Daniel Johnston’s ‘Hi, how are you’ cartoon frog, and the constantly changing murals at the community-run HOPE Outdoor Gallery.

art in austin

For the food

It’s true, everything is bigger in Texas! Tex-Mex, food trucks and southern barbecues – Austin’s food scene is huge. For handmade tortillas and the best tacos in town, check out Veracruz All Natural; for buckets of chicken and creole okra, hit up Lucy’s Fried Chicken; and for a taste of traditional Texan barbecue, Stubb’s Bar-B-Q is legendary.

food in austin

For the music

Home to South by Southwest, Austin City Limits Festival and over 250 live music venues, Austin lives up to its ‘Live Music Capital of the World’ title. The city is alive with the sound of sax, soulful vocals and an irresistible Deep South twang. One venue not to miss is the Continental Club, famous for hosting an eclectic mix of genres from punk to country under one roof, seven nights a week.

music in austin

If deliciously loaded taco’s, a thriving music scene and seriously cool cowboys aren’t enough to entice you, continue to explore Austin through the eyes of UK Band Skinny Living with our interactive music video here.