A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: ofenelon

Top Tips for a Big Trip

Tips for Travelling

• It sounds obvious but make sure your passport is in date for the next few years and has space in it for stamps/visas etc. In India in most accommodation, they took photocopies of our passport so it might be a good idea to bring photocopies so you don’t have to hand it over for long. Your passport is really the only thing you cant live without while travelling so guard it with your life.

•Preparation before you go is so important. We gave a folder with all our details (health insurance numbers, passport photocopy etc) to someone we trusted so in an emergency that we lost everything we could contact someone at home for details.

•Money: Its really so important to have multiple cash cards as they don’t all work. Bring a Visa and a MasterCard if you can. We use to hide away some dollars ($100) so if we were really stuck, we would have something. US Dollars are known everywhere so its best to have.

•I would really advise not to buy too big of backpack as explained in the last blog. Mine was 38L and it was heavy enough. You will also need a small bag for everyday. Make sure its one you can put around you securely.

• Give yourself time in places even if it means seeing less. You will enjoy places more if you spend some time there and get to know the area and the people. Also, it is very tiring constantly on the move.

•Pack essential items and nothing else (see packing list in last blog). For your essential items, such as walking boots, trekking trousers buy good quality so they will last . For other bits, you can always buy stuff as you go along. Sometimes it's better to buy local clothes when you get there. I had a few long skirts made when I arrived in places. They were super cheap and looked well. When I didn’t need them any more, I would give them away.

•Bring a good basic first aid kit but remember that a lot of medicines etc are much cheaper in other countries so you can stock up where needed with bug creams, dehydration salts, painkillers, water purification tablets etc.

•Being from Ireland we were not use to the heat in most countries. Remember to drink water regularly and always have dehydration salts in your first aid kit….just in case.

•Before entering a country, look at the entry requirements in advance. Some countries require you to have proof that your leaving that country such as an onward ticket.

•Bring a kindle if you have one. It will be your best friend on long journeys.

•Keep an account of your trip. You will be glad in years to come.

•Treat yourself the odd time to a really nice place to stay, manicure etc.

•Be careful of where you eat. For example, in India, we found it best to eat in the local busy vegetarian restaurants as there is a high turnover of food. Sometimes it’s worse to eat in the empty tourist places as food has been sitting about. If your unsure then try cooked vegetarian food.

•When choosing your places to visit, consider picking something you really want to do in that country and work around it, that was what we did and it worked really well as we now have highlights from every country and not just one.

•We found the website ‘trip advisor’ very good for accommodation once you can recognise what’s a real review or not. Guide books are brilliant for general info but didn’t find them as good for accommodation.

•When you arrive in a new place and are unsure about it, get a taxi to your accommodation and ask them about the local area to see if its safe to walk around at night etc.. In Asia, we often booked taxis in advance from the airports to avoid the crowds of taxi people coming up to you. They can be quite intimidating we avoided the hassle by having a taxi waiting for us. Only get into registered taxis.

•I was quite nervous in new cities as they could be so big and different but try not to think that everyone is out to kill you. The chances are they are not. Its wise to be cautious and take general safety precautions but don’t let it ruin your time somewhere.

•Dont be too disappointed if your not enjoying somewhere or are feeling a little down. Everybody expects travellers to be carefree and having the time of your life but sometimes it can be very stressful and tiring hopping from place to place. If you start to feel down, maybe chat to people at home to cheer yourself up. Allow yourself time in places so you dont get burnt out.

Posted by ofenelon 07:22 Comments (0)

What to pack for travelling??

This is the hardest thing to decide before heading off on a big trip and it is one that caused us the most anguish. We spent a long time planning what to pack and I have to say that the preparations were worth it. We got it spot on. If your trip involves jumping in and out of countries then its even more complicated as you need a variety of clothes, shoes etc. However the best decision we made and I would absolutely recommend it as a top tip is to BUY A SMALL BACKPACK !!!! By small I mean 40L or else. Mine was 38L and it was more than enough. If you buy a bigger pack, you will fill it and have to carry it. If you don't have the space, you will make do. You can get almost everything as your travelling so I would only buy good essential items and then pick up others and give away unwanted clothing as you go along.

Recommended Packing List for all sorts of climates

1) BACKPACK(maximum size 40L): Spend time picking this out and make sure its fits correctly. Buy a brand that will last. I had a 38L Gregory pack and it was fantastic. Ger had a Deuter and it was brill too. You might also want a small daypack or handbag that you can put securely around you.

2) TRAIL RUNNERS OR HIKING BOOTS. We had trail runners (salomon) because we wanted to do running too but if your hiking/walking then a good pair of hiking boots would do.

3) WALKING SANDALS for walking around everyday. you can pick up flip flops later as you go around too.

4) 1 X TREKKING TROUSERS, you might want ones that covert to shorts or that roll up so you can use them in hot weather too. The long ones are great for evenings when insects are out.

5) 1 X Shorts/Trekking skirt/3 quarter length trousers

6) 1 x Swimming Suit/Bikini. I'd also bring goggles if you plan on doing a lot or a snorkeling set if you plan on doing a lot of it at the start of the trip. The rental ones are not great at times and you could sell it on or give it to someone when your finished with it.

7) 1 x Fleece or Jumper. Fleece is good.

8) 3 X T-shirts/stringy tops. If your going to Muslim countries, you wont wear stringy tops on their own so t-shirts might be better

9) 1 x Sarong. Get one that you can use as a wrap/skirt or just to sit on. I had one and found it invaluable....especially when I wanted to cover up from the sun or avoid insect bites.

10) Underwear: get some quick dry underwear and some good quality trekking socks. Buy good quality as this can be harder to find as you go around.

11) 1 x Skirt/dress. At times you might want to be a bit dressier so I would bring a maxi dress or something that you can wear both day and night.

11) Buff for neck and head. These are very handy to have.

12) Jacket: A windproof/waterproof is good. The soft-shell windproof brilliant for trekking but you will need a lighter rain jacket then too. Or you can splash out on a Gore-Tex one that does everything. We bought our heavier jackets as we went along as we didn’t need one for the first few months. I only had a light raincoat. Its depends where you start.

13) Rash Vest: this is great to have for snorkeling, swimming and keeping the sun off. Its hard to get so I'd get one before you leave.

14) Toiletries..keep it to a minimum, they weigh so much and you can top them up as you go along

15) Electronics: we had a camera, waterproof camera (can really recommend the Kodak play sport for this, small laptop and kindle (it will be your best friend), universal world plug.

16) Essential Kit Items: Head torch, universal sink plug, basic first aid kit (you can top this up as you go along), dry bag (maybe a couple of these). Store electronics plus etc in dry bag. safety belt for money etc.

17) Essential Paperwork: Passport, drivers license, ticket print out etc.

Posted by ofenelon 07:20 Comments (1)

Homeward Bound

Bogota was our last stop before the long journey home to Ireland. It was hard believe that such an adventure was over but I think we were ready to return when the time came. The trip was absolutely amazing. I have no doubt it will be the biggest adventure of our lives and it was worth every penny spent and every sore muscle hiking up mountains etc. Leaving Ireland almost a year ago, I had no idea what to expect and was nervous to say the least. However, after visiting the places we did, I can now see that our world is a magnificent place and hopefully we will get to see more of it as the years go on. I think the biggest lesson that I learnt overall is really how lucky I am to have the life I do in Ireland. While much of landscapes may have been magnificent, there is no doubt that there is far too much poverty in the world. The conditions that some people live in is just heartbreaking and it seems very unjust that I have so much and others have so little. It was good for me to see this, as while its difficult to process, it has definitely made me appreciate was I have. Who knows, perhaps in the future i can doing something to help those in need of it.

Travelling itself was quite the experience, full of new adventures and I will never complain about the length of journeys in Ireland again!!! It has toughened me up and I think I'm ready to tackle any challenge that comes along, except maybe mosquitos!!!

I want to thank everyone so much for following the blog and leaving the comments. It was so great staying in touch with everyone. I hope ye all enjoyed the blog. I will post up a page with some tips for travelling etc. following this one. If anyone plans on travelling to any of the countries we visited and wants more info, please dont hesitate to send me a message.

Thanks again,


Dodging Mosquito Status: So we may be free from mossies but it seems they have contacted their Irish comrades 'the horsefly' to continue with the attack. I got two bites the other day that are more painful than any mossie bite. Does anyone know anything about dodging horseflies?

Posted by ofenelon 07:16 Archived in Ireland Comments (4)

Heavenly diving and the city that won our hearts!!

With only a few weeks left of our trip, we knew we had a last chance to do some diving in warm waters so we booked flights to the island of San Andres in the Caribbean. San Andres is not exactly close to close of Colombia but it is part of it. It became known to us because its popular with Colombian tourists and is known for its beautiful coral reefs. We had originally planned to go to Taganga on the coast of Colombia but after hearing that the reef was almost dead we decided against it.

When we arrived in San Andres, we were collected by our guesthouse, rested for the day and then met Werner, the owner of the dive shop and our dive guide for the week. We booked 10 dives (2 per day) and it was brilliant. The dive sites were really relaxing, full of beautiful coral and we saw some really interesting marine life including a few reef sharks. Actually the site where we saw the sharks was really class. It was on the east of the Island and as such can be harder to get to when the weather was bad. Luckily, we got there one of the days and we really enjoyed it. I would really recommend diving off San Andres and Werner’s dive shop ‘Karibik Divers’ was really excellent. The island itself is nice enough with lots of hotels, shops and anything related to tourists but it was the diving that really interested us. We loved the warm waters and it was a perfect way to gain a bit more experience and to really appreciate the beautiful life in the ocean.

After diving we sadly only had a few days left in Colombia which we spent in Bogota. We had spent one night in Medellin before diving which was really cool. Bogota was really class city. In fact, it was probably our favorite in South America. Its very diverse with lots of cool neighborhoods, interesting sites, amazing street art, restaurants etc. Its also very big so we done a bike tour to get our bearings and it was a brilliant tour. We got to see areas that we never would have on our own and sampled lots of the yummy exotic fruit that Colombia is famous for. Our only big regret about Colombia was not spending enough time there. Colombia has certainly had its fair share of problems and had such a bad reputation up until recent years but every traveler we met in South America absolutely loved it and so did we. It has certainly done lots to improve its reputation and I’d love to explore it a bit more if I ever return. There is so much to do there that I think it will be another trip itself. Here are a few pictures from the bike tour.


Dodging Mosquito Status: In San Andres, they were back in force to presumably give us one last strike before our return to Ireland. Thankfully in Bogota, it was bit too cold except for a monster of a one that met its end in our hotel room in The final battle!!

Posted by ofenelon 08:49 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Ecuador - a delightful surprise

After such a wonderful time in the Galapagos, we returned to mainland Ecuador. We began with a trip to Banos. We had heard a lot about Banos in the guide books. It's famed for its hot thermal baths, volcano, a place to do adventure sports and for just being an overall really cool place to chill out a. It wasn't wrong. It is a really relaxing spot to chill for a few days and there is no shortage of things to do. We only had 3 days there so we decided on a bit of rafting which I really enjoyed. The guides were good craic and there were enough rapids to keep a bit of excitement in it. We didn't have much of a chance to do much else but just chill out and start to stock up on homecoming presents. We stayed in a really nice hostel called La casa de molina blanca which felt a bit like a home from home. I was very sad to leave Banos. It would be a great place to return to with a group of friends.

Onward from Banos we began our journey in search of an eco-lodge called 'The Black Sheep Inn', Chugchilan We had heard other travelers mention about how good it was and we felt like we needed a bit of rest and recuperation so it sounded like the spot to do it. The only thing about it is that from Banos it takes about 7 hours to get there, 3 of which are pretty uncomfortable on a bumpy road. Albeit that journey seemed short enough to us at that stage. The nice thing about the lodge is that when you do arrive there you are right up beside the famous Laguna Quilotoa. This area is very beautiful and many travelers do what is known as the Quilotoa loop, trekking from village to village. I have to say that this eco-lodge was one of the nicest places we stayed in our months of travelling. It is an all inclusive accommodation and they only serve vegetarian food which is yummy and plentiful. They also have a really nice yoga studio which we were both really grateful for. The other great thing about it is that you can do numerous treks from there. We just done one short trek as were tired and Ger had a bit of a stomach bug. It was a beautiful trek though. It really is a stunning area of Ecuador. Here are a few pics.


Our last stop in Ecuador was the capital, Quito. We spent two days here before catching our flight to Bogota. We both really enjoyed Quito despite it being a little bit ruined for us by people telling us how previously how likely we were to be robbed. We weren't robbed and found the city to be as safe as other cities once you take the usual precautions. Its a very beautiful city consisting of a stunning old town and then a newer town. Its is big but easy enough to walk around in the central town. There is lots to see in a couple of days and some good spots to eat out. I would particularly recommend 'Jimmys' stall in the central market for some of the best fish I have had in my life.

I was sad flying out of Quito and leaving Ecuador. Its a fabulous country. Its really diverse and its small enough to get around and experience it all. We didn't have enough time to do the Jungle but its meant to be great too. The people in Ecuador were noticeably friendlier than in Peru and Bolivia and the transport was frequent and cheap. If you want a 3 week trip to South America, I would highly recommend Ecuador as the country to visit.

Dodging Mosquito Status: After the Galapagos, they weren't too bad where we were as we began to ascend in altitude again. Something tells me they would be ready and waiting in the Jungle had we ventured there!!!!

Posted by ofenelon 23:57 Archived in Ecuador Tagged sheep banos ecuador 'black inn' Comments (0)

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