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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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.



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.



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.


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.

9 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.


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.

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.


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.


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.

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.


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


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


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.






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.

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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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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.


Best trips for solo travellers

People are overrated anyway.

STA Travel Beats, India and Europe
Good for: solo festival-goers

“Nah, I’m not really into Stormzy, or Clean Bandit, or fun. But thanks for asking anyway, mate!”.

First of all, doesn’t like Stormzy? What kind of monsters are we dealing with here. And second of all, if your own friends aren’t interested in going to festivals with you, then we know a gang of people who are.

In collaboration with the music-mad humans at Beats Travel, our small group festival tours are hitting up a serious lineup of festivals this year. 8 Day Icelandic Beats takes on Iceland’s Secret Solstice in June (the Foos and The Prodigy headlined last year) and 10 Day Balkan Beats includes Serbia’s EXIT festival in July, plus Sail Beats in Croatia and Goa Beats in India.

Unique tours built around music, culture and people, you’ll explore new destinations, the local underground music scene and some of the greatest moshpits on the planet. And more to the point, you’ll do it with people who quite clearly have much better taste in music than your regular friends.

We’d be there in heartbeat.

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Bura Surfhouse, Lagos, Portugal
Good for: solo surfers and yogis

Get down with your new omies! (Ommmmm….).

Finally, an establishment that appreciates drinking time as much as downward facing dog time. Located on the Portuguese Algarve, this super social surf hostel is great for solo travellers. Famous for its banana pancakes and subversive combination of sporting and drinking activities, there are heaps of ways to explore the area. Or just chill out at the pool bar or rooftop terrace.

Specialist packages include the 5 Day Surf Yoga Wine, 5 Day Boot Camp, or our particular favourite, Bad Yogis, described as 9 days of “stretching and savasana followed by (several) 1€ beers and BBQs by the pool”.

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9 Day Galápagos Camping Adventure, Ecuador
Good for: solo Planet Earth fans

Let the animals be your friends instead.

These dancing blue footed boobies make excellent dancefloor partners. And as you’re camping on the islands, it’s a much more economical way to see the Galápagos than on a cruise.

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1-2 Week Thai Elephant Conservation, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Good for: solo animal lovers

Or how about these elephants in Thailand? They come with their own trunks, making them excellent travel partners. And as an elephant never forgets, you’ll basically have a best friend for life.

Working at this internationally-renowned conservation project, you’ll help feed, bathe and care for abandoned or abused elephants, with weekends free to explore with the other volunteers. There’s also an on-site dog rescue project. Just stop now…

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Kiwi Experience, New Zealand
Good for: solo adrenaline junkies

Welcome to the friend zone.

Backpackers have been exploring New Zealand on Kiwi Experience’s legendary hop-on hop-off buses for over 30 years. More popular than a company credit card at a Christmas party, Kiwi Ex is the perfect way to meet other travellers while discover one magical country. (So magical, it even has its own government appointed wizard. His name is Ian. Not Ian McKellen – real name Gandalf – but another Ian).

Make friends from all over the world, have the freedom to travel at your own pace, and book beds and bungy jumps as you go – making your trip as active as you want.

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G Adventures active tours, mostly high up places
Good for: solo hikers

Hiking up big scary-looking mountains on your own is a truly terrible idea. So, if you can’t find a friend mad enough to climb Kilimanjaro, Everest, Annapurna or Mount Blanc with you, join these guys.

G Adventures connect you with other trekkers, helping everyone keep costs down compared to hiring individual guides and porters. Share laughs (and Deep Heat), and cheer each other on, celebrating your achievement at the top with new friends you’ll never forget.

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Contiki tours, pretty much everywhere
Good for: solo 18-35s

Showing the young, the wild and the free the world since 1962, Contiki are the go-to tour company for 18-35 year olds. With more activities, meals and accommodation included than other tour companies, it’s a great way for solo travellers to buddy up and not blow their budget by having to pay for single rooms or private guides.

Plus, while we love partying with the odd Octogenarian, Contiki are a good way of ensuring that your tour group’s demographic stays strictly Calvin Harris. (“I’ve got love for you if you were born in the 80’s, the 80’s…).

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So don’t hang about waiting for your pals to get their act together, head on a solo excursion and make some new ones?

Find the perfect tour for you here >