5 tips for travelling as a couple

by Carmen Allan-Petale

Today is our first wedding anniversary.

I can’t believe it’s been a year! It’s absolutely flown by. One year ago we were saying our vows and about to leave for our sunny honeymoon in Margaret River and yet it feels like it was yesterday.

They say that the first year of marriage is the hardest but if our first 12 months are anything to go by then our marriage is going to be a breeze.

Me and Dave on our wedding day this time last year

Me and Dave on our wedding day this time last year

What do you think is the key to a successful marriage?

Some say you should live with your partner before you tie the knot to see whether you can put up with each other’s living habits.

I think this is important, but just as equally I think you need to travel with your other half to see whether you get along glued to the hip 24-7. Travelling can bring out the best and the worst in us and it’s good to check whether you both have similar travelling styles before you decide to spend the rest of your lives together. And trust me, it’ll be a true test to see just how strong your relationship is!

Dave and I travelled together a lot before we tied the knot

Dave and I travelled together a lot before we tied the knot

Dave and I have been travelling together for nearly five years now and during that time we’ve learnt a lot about how best to travel together as a couple.

So I thought I’d share my top five tips with you below.

1.      Decide on the itinerary together

It’s a good idea for both of you to get involved in planning your itinerary before your travel. Not only will this ensure you’re both happy about your plans but it’ll also get you excited about your trip.

Dave and I like to sit down and map out where we’re going and how long we’ll stay in each town before we book our accommodation.

I normally research each bed and breakfast, hotel or hostel I think would be nice to stay at but will always send Dave a link to see whether he likes it too.

2.      Compromise

Decide early on what you’re hoping to get out of the trip together. If you’re keen on laying on the beach all day but your partner would rather being hiking in the mountains make sure you’re aware about your differences so you can take it in turns to do something each of you enjoy.

Compromising is important in any marriage, travelling or not

Compromising is important in any marriage, travelling or not

Dave loves anything to do with military and war, like going to the Duxford Air Museum, but that stuff doesn’t really tickle my fancy.

If you take me to another war museum i swear I'll shoot you!

If you take me to another war museum i swear I’ll shoot you!

I prefer shopping.

So when we travel together I often agree to go to another war museum if he promises to go to the beach with me afterwards. Or he says he’ll come shopping with me if we only go into a maximum of four shops.

So compromising is important. (And not just for travelling – for any relationship to work well!)

3.      Give each other space

Spending 24 hours a day with someone can be tedious, no matter how much you love each other. Set aside some time each day to do your own thing, even if it means taking some time off to read a book or write an email.

Make sure you respect your partner’s time out as well.

You don't have to spend every waking moment together to be happy - some personal space can improve your relationship when travelling

You don’t have to spend every waking moment together to be happy – some personal space can improve your relationship when travelling

If they’re relaxing with a glass of wine and a good book, try and cease your chatter for awhile so they can take the time to truly chill out.

Sometimes this can be difficult for me, the ultimate chatterbox, but I’ve learnt to respect Dave’s space over time. Dave also likes to go for a run every now and again and while we’re on holiday and I take the time to do some writing. A good chance to have some alone time.

4.      Motivate each other

If you’re on a long trip, sometimes you can start to feel a little lazy and want to spend your whole time relaxing by the pool.

That’s fine if that’s all you want to do.

But if you went on holiday to see the sights and then can’t be bothered getting out of bed in the morning then you might regret it later.

Dave and I normally spend each night over dinner discussing what we plan to do the next day.

We also say what time we’re going to wake up in the morning and then encourage each other to get out of bed at that time. It also helps if you book an early tour or some place you need to be – that’ll help you stop being so lazy and help you to make the most of your holiday.

Motivate each other to get out of bed and go exploring

Motivate each other to get out of bed and go exploring

5.      Agree on how to handle your finances

It’s a good idea to decide who’ll be buying what before you travel. The last thing you want to have happen is for one of you to run out of money and have to ask to borrow some funds. But make sure you have more than one bank account between you and a number of bank cards. There’s been times when my bank card has been eaten by a foreign ATM and if it wasn’t for Dave’s card I would’ve been stranded.

But as a whole, Dave and I share all our finances so we’ve never really had to worry about talking about money. There have been times when I’ve earned more and times (significantly more time) that Dave’s earned more. But as Dave likes to say, ‘it all comes out in the wash!’

However, we do budget and save money ahead of a trip.

We also talk about how much money we should spend during a holiday and try as best we can to stick to it. And so far we’ve never had a debt so something must be working!

When travelling to asia, some of the best places to relax are nepal and vietnam. You can design your own holiday to Nepal and Vietnam at www.tripfuser.com.

Top 5 most romantic places we’ve been

by Carmen Allan-Petale

Happy Valentine’s Day! We hope that you were spoilt from your Valentine. And if you don’t have one, never mind, we think it’s a bit of a commercial day anyway. (Or maybe I’m just saying that to make me feel better because Dave didn’t buy me a gift this year.)

After nearly five years together romance could easily die. But even though Dave didn’t buy me a present today he didn’t need to – because he shows me he loves me every day, not just on Valentine’s day. Although don’t tell him I said that because I wouldn’t mind a gift next year!

Enjoying a romantic kiss in Budapest

Enjoying a romantic kiss in Budapest

But it’s true, he cooks me dinner most nights and contrary to the stereotypical husband, he does most of the vacuum cleaning. I know that when we one day have children he’ll probably change most of their nappies too. I’m lucky to have a husband like him – I know many men who wouldn’t lift a finger. (I’ve never seen my dad cook dinner that wasn’t a barbie, for example.)

But what about travelling and romance? We’ve been to so many beautiful places that it’s hard to choose our top five most romantic locations, but I’ll give it a go!

1. Santorini, Greece

I may have been bitten by mosquitoes all over my face, making me look like an ogre, but Santorini was still a romantic place for us. We went at the end of the summer season which meant the party scene wasn’t really happening, but we could skinny dip at the beach without any interruptions, so that was nice!

The beautiful view overlooking Santorini - much prettier than my mostquito-bitten face was at the time!

The beautiful view overlooking Santorini – much prettier than my mostquito-bitten face was at the time!

2. Paris, France

It’s not called ‘The City of Love’ without reason. Just strolling down the tree-lined promenades makes you want to embrace the person nearest to you – lover or not. Going for a boat ride along the Seine or being serenaded by a musician in a restaurant in any other city might seem cheesy but in Paris it just seems oh-so-right.

Paris. Is there a city on earth more romantic?

Paris. Is there a city on earth more romantic?

It's true - Paris je t'aime!

It’s true – Paris je t’aime!

3. Lisbon, Portugal

This was a bit of a surprise for us because even though we didn’t know what to expect, a romantic setting was far from our minds. But Lisbon has a lot of charm. The cobbled streets and rickety trams (Lisbon has the oldest tram system in Europe) make it feel as though you’re stepping back in time. And watching the sun set over terracotta-tiled roofs is something else.

Watching the sunset of Lisbon took my breath away

Watching the sunset of Lisbon took my breath away

4. Lucca, Italy

We went to Lucca whilst we were travelling through Tuscany. It was on a bit of a whim – we were driving by and thought it’d be a nice place to go for lunch. We spent the afternoon strolling the town housed within medieval walls and rode bikes in its parks. The highlight of the day was wandering past a jeweller when a sparkly diamond caught my eye. The rock drew me into the store and lo and behold we walked out with our wedding bands. Romantic, indeed.

The view from the top of the church tower in Lucca, Italy

The view from the top of the church tower in Lucca, Italy

5. Margaret River, Australia

Talking of weddings, Margaret River was where we spent our honeymoon so it has a special meaning for us. We’d watch the kangaroos hopping in the field outside our secluded hilltop retreat and in the evenings we’d lie in bed and look at the stars from the windows. Sigh. I’d do anything to be back there now, escaping the drab British winter!

Enjoying the serenity in Western Australia with a picnic next to Margaret River

Enjoying the serenity in Western Australia with a picnic next to Margaret River

My Destination’s Biggest Baddest Bucket List – please vote for us!

by Carmen Allan-Petale

What is your dream? What do you want more than anything else in the world? For some it’s to live in a mansion. For others it’s to own the best wardrobe.

For me and Dave, it’s travelling the world.

Of course, travelling doesn’t come for free which is probably why we haven’t spent our lives travelling indefinitely. (Although we do hope to get there someday.)

So when we saw My Destination’s competition – Biggest Baddest Bucket List – where you can win six months’ free travel to your bucket list locations, we knew we had to enter.

Not only do My Destination and its partners pay for your six month adventure, at the end of your tour they give you $50,000. Yes, that’s right, $50,000. You can spend it on whatever you want but for me and Dave (if either of us were to win) we’d spend it on more travelling.

But there’s a catch.

Over the six months, during which time you’re expected to visit at least 25 destinations (which means moving to a new spot once a week) you have to promote the location via blogging and social media.

Dave and I do this anyway and we LOVE it (as you all know) so this certainly seems like it’d be a dream come true.

So without further delay, please find our entries below. Please vote for us by sharing our entries on as many social media channels as you possibly can.

My entry can be found here.

Dave’s entry can be found here.

Thank you – please wish us luck!

 

 

Top 13 places to visit in 2013

by Dave and Carmen Allan-Petale

A new year is upon us and many of you will shortly be planning your adventures for this year. We thought we’d devise a list of the top 13 places we think are worth visiting over the next 12 months. Some of the locations we’ve been to but others we’re yet to see

Places we’ve been and want to go back to:

1. Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

If you haven’t been to Croatia, the country is worth a visit in itself but make sure you put Plitvice Lakes on your itinerary. Many people venturing to the country stick to the coast but this national park is well worth the trip away from the ocean. Imagine mile after mile of deep forest, crashing waterfalls and water so clear you can see the scales on the countless fish swimming through the reeds.

Dave admiring the view of  just one of the lakes...sublime

Dave admiring the view of just one of the Plitvice Lakes…sublime

2. Lisbon, Portugal

Portugal is one of our favourite European countries but most Brits head to the south when they visit. We loved Lisbon because it’s very charming – it’s almost like being in Italy except the locals aren’t as used to tourists, which is nice. The tram system is the oldest in Europe and as you roll up the cobbled streets it really feels as though you’ve stepped back to the early 1900s.

We know where we'd rather be...

We know where we’d rather be… in Lisbon!

3. Puglia, southern Italy

This is where the Italians go on holiday in Italy. When we went we stayed in a beautiful villa that’s been featured on the architectural show Grand Designs, called Il Collegio. It’s very remote but that’s half the beauty of it. Up on the hill is the town which has sweeping views over the vineyard-spotted land.

Try the fish - prego!

Try the fish in Puglia – prego!

 4. Cornwall, England

If you want to see the true English countryside, this is the place to visit. The best thing about going to the southernmost tip of the country is that the locals are a lot more relaxed than elsewhere in the nation, making for a pleasant visit. Tourism is their lifeblood here so you’ll be treated well. Ensure you go on a country walk and finish of your jaunt in a pub lunch, ordering the fish of the day.

Cornwall is beautiful any time of year, rain, hail or shine

Cornwall is beautiful any time of year, rain, hail or shine

 5. Santorini, Greece

Take advantage of the many tourists being deterred from travelling to Greece this year because of the austerity crisis and make the trip. Santorini is like an island out of fairytale. You can choose what colour sandy beach you’d like to visit – thanks to the volcano on the island there’s black, white and red sand to pick from. Take a day trip to the nearby uninhabited island where a volcano is still active a hike to the crater.

The market stalls in the main square are scary at first but if you overcome your fear a world of taste is yours

Marrakesh’s market stalls in the main square are scary at first but if you overcome your fear a world of taste is yours

6. Marrakesh, Morocco

If you want to visit a place that is a strange mix between first and third world then Morocco is the place to be. You can order a mint tea at a French cafe before visiting the hustle and bustle of the main market square where it’s not uncommon to see men carrying sheep on their shoulders. Relax in one of the many hammans as the women give you a scrub down, or go on a hiking trip to the nearby Atlas Mountains – the beauty is spectacular.

 7. Ypres, Belgium

Next year is the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of World War I but get in early with a historic trip to the battlefields. Dave went to Ypres last year with a friend to retrace the footsteps of their grandfathers who fought in World War I and II and although very sad, they found it rewarding to learn more about their ancestors. Ypres was completely destroyed in the Great War but its inhabitants rebuilt it brick by brick until it was restored to its former glory, so it’s well worth a visit.

 8. San Sebastian, Spain

We loved our visit to San Sebastian a few years ago, where we hired out a campervan and travelled like hippies all around the country. We found that if you’re worried about staying in touch with your family when you’re on the road, you can use local phone cards. And if you don’t wish to spend any money on phone calls, international texting is one more option that’s cheap and easy.

In San Sebastian, we spent a beautiful sunny afternoon swimming at the beach before enjoying an afternoon glass of wine at one of the many bars in the town. Everyone around us sipped their drinks slowly, revelling in being with their friends and enjoying the moment.

This is the minute's silence on Remembrance Day in Yvpes, Belgium

This is the minute’s silence on Remembrance Day in Yvpes, Belgium

Places we haven’t been and want to go to:

9.   Coral Bay, Western Australia

I used to visit Coral Bay as a kid but Dave’s never been and I’d love to take him there. Dubbed the new Great Barrier Reef, unlike Queensland’s reef you don’t need to take a boat out to reach the coral, you simply swim to it. Which makes it great for those who don’t yet have their scuba license – like me – as it’s easy to enjoy the fish with just a snorkel and some flippers. During my time there I’ve swum with some stunning fish and even a turtle.

10.   Utah, USA

After seeing the film 127 Hours we’ve put Utah on our list. In fact, the setting is so stunning there’s been many a film set here. The scenery in 127 Hours looks amazing and we’d love to hike through the rocky regions. We’d set out early to watch the sun rise but we’d make sure we let someone know where we’re travelling to so we don’t have to chop our arms off if we get stuck down a ravine.

11.   Kenya, Africa

I did a safari in Zimbabwe with my parents when I was nine and Dave’s never gone further south than Morocco in Africa, so this is another place I’m dying to visit. After watching David Attenborough’s Africa, how could you not want to visit this ever-changing continent? Serengeti looks stunning and I’d relish in the chance to see elephants and rhinos in the wild once more.

Me on a canoe on the Zambezi river in Zimbabwe when I was nine. I'd love to see Kenya!

Me on a canoe on the Zambezi river in Zimbabwe when I was nine. I’d love to see Kenya now I’m all grown up!

12.   Falkland Islands

We went to huge travel show in London and the Falkland Islands had its first ever publicly campaign to bring tourists to its remote shores in the freezing South Atlantic. The islands are famous for the violent tussle between Britain and Argentina in 1982 for control of their sovereignty. Politics aside, the folks at the stall told us about the miles of rugged coast to explore and the teeming species of wildlife there. Seals, penguins, albatrosses and even whales – all seen from the back of a hired Land Rover with a B&B and a warm pub waiting at the end. Worth fighting for!

13.   Havana, Cuba

Our good friends Corrin and Rosie just went to the Cuban capital and had a blast. We all know the sterotypes – mojitos, cigars, rum, salsa dancing and old American cars. We want to experience all of that, but also see how day to day life is in this Communist holdout. Decades of American sanctions and poverty have taken their toll but it seems things are loosening up so it would be cool to see the changes as well as the traditions.

Learning to ski the hard way

by Dave Allan-Petale

I have never been skiing. I can’t ice skate. When I tried a skateboard at a mate’s 8th birthday party I fell on my face and got a bloody nose. Balance is not my thing.

But I married into a family of skiing fanatics who spend every waking minute either reminiscing about ‘that time in Falls Creek’ or planning ahead for another alpine adventure.

My father-in-law is so obsessed the sport that it was with unconcealed horror he accepted a novice skier into the family. In fact, I think he used the words: “No son of mine will not be able to ski.”

So no pressure then.

Like a lamb to the slaughter, I’m heading to the slopes in France at Sainte Foy Tarentaise with my wife, the in-laws and our mates who are also ski obsessed. I will be the caboose on their high speed ski train, and if I don’t pick up the skill I’m bound to get left behind.

Great.

I'm more used to the gentler slopes of a British  common

I’m more used to the gentler slopes of a British common

I saw snow for the first time when I was 15. I was on a coach tour of western Europe with my grandfather and sister and had reached the Italian Alps which were draped in a fine layer of pure white. The driver stopped and we tumbled out into the fresh air, scooping up handfuls of the stuff and having a snowball fight. I didn’t realise you needed powder snow to make the right kind of snowballs and ended up bruising my sister’s shoulder with the weapon-grade missile I created. So not a good start.

I gave ice skating a go once in Vienna - look, one hand!

I gave ice skating a go once in Vienna – look, only one hand on the rail!

But I’m determined to make skiing a success. A few months ago, or was it six (?), I went along to a ski training centre at a golf club in leafy West London. For an extortionate amount of pounds I got to strap on a pair of skis and take turns with a middle aged man on an angled bit of wet Astroturf that was like a giant treadmill. A young English bloke coached me through ‘the snow plough’, which involves angling the skis in at the front and out at the back so you can slow down or even stop. I mastered this, just, only to be told what I had learned was in fact useless because no one ever does the snow plough and it’s really a last resort, kind of like using the hand brake on the motorway.

According to Carmen, the only cool way to stop is by using the ‘hockey stop’.

So I’m sure my snow plough skills will come in handy.

I've been training hard for apres-ski for many years.

I’ve been training hard for apres-ski for many years.

I’ve neglected to go back to the ski centre and learn more things I will supposedly never use on the ski fields, so I’m going to have to take lessons when we get to Sainte Foy. I don’t mind though. The experienced ones can go off and do black runs or whatever while I muck around on the baby slopes having the occasional espresso.

I really do hope I can pick up the knack because from what I have been told (over and over and over) is that skiing is amazing fun. I guess it’s like anything, trial and error, though error in this discipline means falling flat on your face in the snow. Or worse. Wish me luck.

But don’t say break a leg.

The difficulties of being so far from the ones you love

by Carmen Allan-Petale

It has been 10 months since I last saw my parents. For some that’s fine, but for me it’s too long. If we lived in the same city we’d probably see each other once a week and so to go for almost a year without a parental hug is a long time for me.

Me and my dad in sunny Australia

Me and my dad in sunny Australia

We Skype each other every week and I look forward to the one hour (or sometimes longer) chats. Technology has made it so much easier to keep in touch. I remember when I was 19 and went backpacking around Europe for six weeks. The only time I managed to call home is when I fell sick and had to visit a Spanish doctor who spoke no English. Panicked and upset, I scrambled together some change, made for the phone booth and dialled the long distance phone call.

Mum’s words comforted me – for about two minutes until my money ran out.

These days communication technology has improved but the time difference is still a pain. The eight hour gap means I can only Skype my family on the weekend or on my lunch break at work, which isn’t very practical. If something happens and I need to speak to my parents urgently, this can prove difficult. Like when Dave proposed and I had to wait a whole night before sharing the news.

But this is the peril of living overseas.

You’re separated from those you love and it’s difficult. You often miss weddings – you can’t fly back for them all – and when someone you love dies it’s particularly tough.

Me and my mum when we went back to visit nearly a year ago

Me and my mum when we went back to visit nearly a year ago

I wouldn’t give up my travelling lifestyle to be back within short driving distance of my parent’s house but when something bad happens that 24 hour flight time makes them seem forever away. Recently my grandma, who lived in Cape Town, passed away and my mum had to take a last minute flight from Australia to be with her. Thankfully she made it to her bedside in time to say goodbye but it makes you ponder the vast ocean in between me and my family, making me think ‘What if…?’

But you can’t live in fear.

When Dave’s granddad passed away shortly after we moved to the UK, we couldn’t afford to fly back for the funeral. It was heart breaking. But then Dave reflected on his journey and decided his granddad – who loved travelling himself and passed this passion on to Dave – would want him to be out there, exploring the world and living his life. It couldn’t change what had happened but Dave could take comfort in this thought.

Dave with his dad and mum when we met up with them travelling through Italy

Dave with his dad and mum when we met up with them travelling through Italy

Anyway, I’m not going to get too melancholy. The good news is I’ll be seeing my folks today for two weeks, and I CANNOT wait. They’re coming to London and then we’re travelling to Paris and Geneva before skiing for a week in the French Alps. I’m not sure when I’ll see them again after that, so I plan to make the most of every minute.

10 bloggers who inspired us in 2012

by Carmen Allan-Petale

2012. What a life changing year. It was the year we got married and started this blog. And it was the year we change our attitudes to how we live our lives.

Sometimes you go on a journey that changes you forever, and for us that was our trip in September to the TBU conference in Porto.

We met so many inspiring people and realised we could actually incorporate our passion for travel into our lives in a more fulfilling way.

So with the aim of spreading the inspiration, here are 10 bloggers we met in 2012 who inspired us, in no particular order.

Watching our last sunset in Porto and contemplating how our lives were going to change after the conference

Watching our last sunset in Porto and contemplating how our lives were going to change after the conference

1. Andy of Grown Up Travel

Dave and Andy first bonded over their love for James Bond and to this day Andy has been the blogger who has helped us the most on our journey. From tips on how to make money from our blog to how to get the best accommodation, Andy has guided us and asked for nothing in return.

Andy is an inspiration because he often travels with his two young children and his wife, and has earned a lot of money from his blog – a testimony to how good it is.

2. Victoria and Steve of Bridges and Balloons

We haven’t yet had the chance to meet Steve but we became friends with Victoria at the TBU conference. Victoria and Steve spent the best part of 2012 travelling South America and Steve is a film maker who has just released a brilliant documentary about The Overview Effect, which you can watch and read more about here.

Victoria made the decision to quit her writing job for a life on the road after she lost a loved one and the strength and courage she has had to take this life-changing journey is both impressive and heart-warming.

3. Janice of Solo Traveller

Janice also decided to go travelling – on her own – after losing a loved one. Her journey since then is fascinating and although Janice may travel solo, she has made her mark on the travel blogging world by creating collaborations with other travel bloggers.

Janice was the force behind a series of books on travelling – The Traveller’s Handbooks – which came out towards the end of last year. Janice demonstrates the positive way in which the travel community can work together and is truly inspiring.

TBU put on an amazing spread at the Travel Bloggy Awards. It was a very fun night

TBU put on an amazing spread at the Travel Bloggy Awards. It was a very fun night

4. Deb and Dave of Planet D

When Deb and Dave opened the TBU conference with their uplifting and high-energy speech, we were blown away. We could see so many parallels between their old lives and our current ones and it made us take time out and really ponder on what it is we want from life.

They said that because they worked in Hollywood, everyone always told them how amazing it must be to have such brilliant jobs. But inside they didn’t feel fulfilled. So they quit it all and now live on the road 24-7. They also happen to write one of the most successful travel blogs of all time too.

5. Kate of Adventurous Kate

Kate certainly has some adventurous stories to tell. Here’s one – she was shipwrecked off the coast of Indonesia on one of her press trips. But aside from her fascinating stories, Kate taught us a lot about pitching for press trips and complimentary accommodation at the TBU conference. Since then, we’ve put a lot of her advice in to action, with great success. So thank you Kate!

Kate of Adventurous Kate kisses her well-deserved travel blogging award

Kate of Adventurous Kate kisses her well-deserved travel blogging award

6. Dan and Audrey of Uncornered Market

What I love about Dan and Audrey is that they don’t just travel for their own pleasure – they genuinely want to make a difference to the places they go and the people they meet. They’ve been to some far-flung places like Azerbaijan and they make a point of giving money to the local people – hand-to-hand – when they travel, benefiting the local community directly.

I love the photos on their blog, they’re really beautiful. But one of the biggest things about Dan and Audrey that I love is how humble and down to earth they are, especially after how much they’ve achieved. An inspiration to us all.

7. Michael of Time Travel Turtle

When we met Michael, a fellow Aussie, we quickly realised we had some mutual friends, which isn’t too unexpected when you meet an Aussie on the road. Michael is a journalist by trade and we love reading his blogs because they’re always written to a very high standard and tell interesting stories.

But judge for yourself – I especially like this blog about an interesting character (the oldest backpacker in the world?) he met at a hostel.

The view from the travel awards venue. Beautiful as the sun set over the river

The view from the travel awards venue. Beautiful as the sun set over the river

8. Chris of Aussie Nomad

Chris is another selfless blogger who isn’t just set on his own agenda – but is keen to help other bloggers too. He’s been doing just that recently – aiding us in launching our new website. He’s had a lot of patience with my lack of web design knowledge and I’m very grateful!

Chris has a computer programming background and says he’s not a very good writer, but I don’t agree! He wouldn’t be one of the most popular travel bloggers in the world if he wasn’t a good writer. The quality of his photos is impressive, especially because he takes them all with an iPhone! Just goes to show you don’t need fancy equipment to produce high quality content.

9. Erin and Simon of Never Ending Voyage

Erin and Simon are softly spoken but then again, their achievements speak for themselves. They’re currently in the process of launching a new phone app for helping you with your travelling budget, which Simon has designed.

I cornered Erin at a TBU party and chewed off her ear with a million and one questions ranging from photo editing software to travel insurance and she gave me invaluable insight into the travel blogging world. We’re very grateful for all their helpful tips!

10. Jodi of Legal Nomads

Jodi may be tiny but her passion for living life is immense. She dropped her job as a lawyer to travel the world and writes about travel and one of our other passions – food. She wrote The Food Traveler’s Handbook as part of Janice’s collaboration and we’ve been reading and enjoying it.

But don’t read her blog on an empty stomach – it might have you drooling!

Combining our love for travel with our love for food - genius!

Combining our love for travel with our love for food – genius!

Dave and I would just like to say a big thank you to all the above travellers for continuing to inspire us. Many of your stories have given us the motivation to make our blog into what it is today. When we first started writing Double-Barrelled Travel we had no idea it would be as satisfying as it has been and it has opened the doors to so many great opportunities that we’re very grateful for. Meeting the above people is just one of many.

2012… Cheers to a great year!

Well, that went fast. 2012 has come and is nearly gone. This year has been a top speed drag race that has never let up; it’s only from the quiet of a Cornwall pub where we’re writing this that we can reflect on this year.

We started the year with the main event; the wedding. January and February went by in a slow burn of drudgery, to-do lists and endless anticipation. Then we boarded a plane to Australia and the 9th of March came and went so fast it was hard to believe it happened at all. Carmen looked amazing in her wedding dress and took Dave’s breath away when he saw her (writes Dave). He was a little hot under his Savile Row tailored collar, mostly from the 40 degree heat, but things cooled down when the knot was tied and drinks started to flow. A few days later we knifed down to the deep south of Western Australia and had our honeymoon filled with lip smacking wine, delicious food and beautiful scenery. Not bad!

Me and Dave on our wedding day

Us on our wedding day…nice!

Carmen returned to London with a new job as an Account Executive at Southerly Communications – her first step out of journalism… but she’s really enjoying it. Dave welcomed day shifts at the BBC, as well, with open arms.

In London, we were experiencing some of the coolest events to hit the city in a long time. First up was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, her 60th year on the throne. We had just moved to a new place in Vauxhall, right by the River Thames, and made sure to get a good spot to see the Queen float by in her Jubilee Pageant.

masksmeanddave

Harry and Kate for the day at the Diamond Jubilee

After that royal knees up came the London 2012 Olympic Games. The summer weather was a bit disappointing, as was the performance of the Australian team, but we still managed to make best of it and cheer on the Brits and Aussies in equal measure (well, ok, maybe the Aussies much more than the Brits!).

The big highlight of the year (after the wedding!) was all the travel. We launched Double-Barrelled Travel in July and since then we have made sure to live up to the name. We had an amazing time travelling through Croatia, from its historic heart at Zagreb and the Plitvice Lakes, to the white sand and blue sea perfection of its Mediterranean coastline. Split, Zadar, Hvar, Dubrovnik – places that we’ll never forget and will always want to return to.

The two of us posing on the city walls

In Dubrovnik, Croatia – ahhhh sun!

After that came Portugal and we had a perfect time exploring this rich land, driving from Lisbon through and up to Porto. There we had a truly eye-opening experience at the Travel Bloggers Unite conference in Portugal – the reason for our visit. Hearing other travel bloggers talk about what is possible in the travel blogging realm was the kick in the pants/pat on the back we needed to take our blog seriously and back ourselves to take it on as a calling, not just a hobby.

Sun set on our last night in Lison. Sigh.

Sun set on our last night in Lisbon. Sigh.

We returned to London determined to make a go of it, and started using our professional abilities in media to make video blogs, something we’re really excited about. Dave did some experimenting when he went to Normandy and Belgium for the Remembrance Day services while Carmen has been giving presenting a go. Who knows where 2013 will take us? The only limit is gravity, and even that is negotiable!  Thanks for all your support this year and for taking the time to follow, read, watch or tweet us. Bring on the New Year!

Much love,

Carmen and Dave Allan-Petale

Fikay Fashion: Travelling and inspiring others

by Carmen and Dave Allan-Petale

Sometimes Dave and I meet inspiring people who make us feel as though anything is possible.

Deb and Dave from The Planet D made us feel like that and so too did Dan and Audrey from Uncornered Market. Their adventures and stories were both inspiring and motivating.

Recently we met Aaron Jones from Fikay Fashion, a young entrepreneur who told us about his journey to bring a better way of life to people living in Cambodia. See below for the video and full story on Fikay Fashion.

Why I’ve quit drinking lately

by Carmen Allan-Petale

I’ve never been adverse to a little tipple but when I moved to London four years ago, I really got into the spirit of things.

Back home in Perth, Australia, it’s difficult to have a heavy night out because public transport links aren’t efficient (trains were only every hour during off peak periods) and taxis are in short supply. So it meant limiting yourself to one glass of wine or end up stranded for the whole night until the trains started running again at 6am.

But London changed that.

We don’t have a car, so no need to worry about drink driving. And if the tubes had stopped running there’s always a night bus to get on. Yes, it might take you an hour to get home but unlike back in Perth, it was guaranteed you’d get there.

Probably should’ve stuck to water the whole night, not just from this point…

Cue heavy drinking. London’s work hard / play hard culture almost expects you to do it. Many label it the ‘Heathrow injection’ – step onto British soil and you automatically gain 10 pounds in alcohol-related fat. Pub life is as recognised as Prince Harry stumbling out of a nightclub at 4am. Friday night drinks involve heading to a watering hole straight from work, skipping dinner and downing two bottles of wine before fumbling to the nearest kebab shop and sprinting for the last tube to avoid the aforementioned hour-long night bus journey.

And I did stupid things.

On one of those sprints to the tube through the rain (whilst in stilettos) I went flying into the air, landing sprawled with a thump on the escalator, skirt scrunched up to my waist. I managed to get on to the tube only to be told by a fellow drunk idiot that my upper thigh looked like the after effects of a George Foreman grill. I still have the scar on my butt. Not my finest hour.

Having a drink in hand at most events just feels natural – but is it?

But the drinking carried on and each weekend I’d wake up with a throbbing head and a dry mouth, vowing never to drink again. But I would. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying I’m an alcoholic. I didn’t crave the drink. I just did it because everyone else did it and I liked the taste. It helped me get into the party mood.

But drinking was making me ill.

Slowly I began to feel worse and worse. My mum noted (over Skype) that I always had bags under my eyes. My weekends weren’t very productive (if at all) and I always felt bloated.

Recently I was told my body doesn’t handle sugar well. Which explains why, even though I’d given up wheat because I’m allergic to gluten, my stomach was still swelling all the time. There’s loads of sugar in wine and this combined with the natural yeasts in your stomach creates a fermentation effect which leads to bloating.

So I decided to give up drinking.

It’s been more than three weeks now, which doesn’t sound like much but for someone who had a glass of wine with most dinners, it’s an achievement. And I feel better for it. My stomach doesn’t bloat anymore and I feel a lot more motivated to get out of bed in the mornings. True, I may still have a lie in on the weekends (I never was an early bird) but when I get out of bed I actually feel like leaving the house rather than lying on the couch and watching back-to-back episodes of Mad Men.

Buh-bye wine! See ya at Christmas time (in moderation)

I’m going to steer clear of drinking until Christmas.

And when I go back to it I’m going to avoid sugary drinks and not drink in such large quantities. Do you reckon I can do it?