5 signs you’ve been bitten by the travel bug

There are some for whom international travel is as much a given as their birthday or the coming of the seasons. Ever since childhood they’ve been accustomed to going away and have come to regard it as not just a welcome reprieve from the pressures of their job, career and familial obligations, but as a basic human right. Yet, there are also many for whom the call of wanderlust is a relatively new phenomenon. They may have enjoyed a few activity breaks in their home country but the pleasures of seeing the great wide world are relatively new to them. For these people this new experience quickly becomes intoxicating and soon their every thought is geared towards lining up their next holiday.

5 signs you've been bitten by the travel bug

If this sounds like you, here are some telltale signs that will confirm that you’ve well and truly been bitten by the travel bug…

You want the things you used to want a whole lot less
After a bite from the travel bug you suddenly become a whole ,lot pickier about what you spend your precious disposable income on. That dress you lusted over a few months back? Pfft! A mere frippery! Those shoes that your life once seemed so incomplete without? A shocking frivolity. Every spare penny you have is, in your mind, already spent on the deposit for your next big getaway.

You’re already lining up avenues of credit
Sure, we should all be saving more, but the rising cost of living combined with the stagnation of most people’s wages mean that saving is not as easy as it sounds. Plus, most savings accounts suck! When the travel bug bites but you just can’t squirrel away as much as you’d like to, all avenues of credit look increasingly appealing. If you have poor credit there are personal loans no credit check no bank account required but if you can, opt for a credit card with a low or 0% introductory APR. Box clever with the interest rates and keep moving the debt around or you might find next year’s getaway that much harder!

You can’t watch a movie without pulling your phone or tablet out
The cinema is often a gateway to new and exotic lands, either real or imagined. But when we see a location that looks so gorgeous we want to step through the screen and lay down a beach towel, real travel bugs are instantly on their phone trying to find out where the scene was shot and the cost of a return flight.

You’re setting aside fridge space for more magnets
Just like a stamp on your passport, a fridge magnet is a fun reminder of a far away land that brings memories flooding back every time you lay eyes on it. You likely have a precious one or two on there, but your kids’ artwork is going to have to go somewhere else because you’re saving room for more.

Your bookcase is thronged with phrase books and rough guides
Preparing for a trip is half the fun, right? So, just to be on the safe side you’ve scoured Amazon for rough guides and phrase books for every destination on your ‘to do’ list… Y’know… Just in case!

Post written in collaboration with Hayley Edlund.

Where to watch Sumo Wrestling in Tokyo

Where to watch Sumo wrestling in Tokyo

Sumo wrestling is a big part of Japanese culture and is actually Japan’s national sport. If you have a ‘Japan Bucket List’ of any description, then watching a bit of sumo is likely to be on there.

Of course, the ideal scenario would be to get tickets for a tournament. There are three main tournaments in Tokyo every year, held in January, May and September. But what if you happen to visit Japan outside of these three months?

My answer is – visit a sumo stable.

Where to watch sumo wrestling in Tokyo

Sumo stables are where the wrestlers live and train together, and you can go along and watch their morning practice. It’s not really touted as a tourist attraction as such but we went along to one and were able to watch the wrestlers through the window.

Sumo is the national sport of Japan

We went to the Arashio-beya which is around a minutes walk from the A2 exit of Hamacho Station on the Toei Subway Shinjuku Line. Practice takes place between 7.30am and 10am. Their website does have a Japanese script and a phone number to call so you can check in advance if the practice is on the next day, which I did but unfortunately I couldn’t understand the response despite following the script! I can’t remember if we asked our hotel to call on our behalf or just showed up but it all worked out ok.

You’re unlikely to stay and watch the full length of training as it can feel a little crowded by the window standing among the wrestler’s bicycles and other gawping tourists, but it’s definitely worth stopping by for the experience.

Watch the sumo wrestlers training in Tokyo

If you liked this you might like some of my other Japan posts or you might like might Japan in less than 60 seconds video.

Where to watch sumo wrestling in Tokyo

Activity ideas for UK holidays

You might be saving up for that dream holiday in the Maldives, or maybe you just think it’s completely out of your budget and you’ll never be able to afford it. Either way, sometimes it’s nice to just have a short holiday in the UK in order to have a break on a budget. Below are three activities you can do to add a bit of interest to your British-bound break.

Head to the beach

It is often said that you are never more than 70 miles from the coast in the UK, so a beach break could be just the thing to help you unwind. You could go for a day trip or opt for a longer stay, either way there are a whole host of things to keep you occupied at the beach. From building sandcastles and digging the obligatory massive hole to a plethora of water-based activities to suit any budget. Skimboards are fairly cheap and can offer hours of fun as you and your family attempt to time your run just right to meet the incoming tide. Be careful though, try and skim on water that is too shallow and you’ll end up finding out exactly what a British beach tastes like. If you are on the South West coast you could even opt for surfing lessons and hire out a wetsuit and board for the week.

sprocker dog enjoying the beach

Go for a walk

It may seem like a simple activity, but most people end up spending a large proportion of their day sat down. At a desk all day working, in the car driving backwards and forwards, and in front of the TV in the evenings. Going for a nice stroll along the cliff tops or into the countryside could be the breath of fresh air you needed to reset. You could even choose to head into the wild and spend a whole week walking and camping through the wilderness. Reading up on some of the top tips when cross country walking could help to give you an idea of what to expect and whether it could be the right break for you.

The white cliffs of Dover

Museums and Wildlife parks

Wherever you choose to holiday in the UK, whether that be on the coast, in a city, or out amongst nature, you are sure to never be too far from a museum. From the usual history and art museums of London to the more specialised offerings such as the tank museum in Dorset, there is a museum for every interest and niche. There is also an abundance of wildlife parks. You could head to a safari or nature reserve, or head to one of the many sanctuaries. Whatever your favourite animal, you’re bound to be able to go and see it up close and personal somewhere in the UK.

penguin at colchester zoo

There you have it, a few ideas for activities you can do on your UK based holidays that will ensure that everyone is kept happy and busy, just don’t forget to leave time to relax in the evenings with your beverage of choice.

Post written in collaboration with Collette Lower. Images my own.

Quirky restaurants in Costa Rica

Looking for a slightly unusual dining experience in Costa Rica? Well I’ll tell you about two quirky restaurants I visited.

Tree House Restaurant – Santa Elena, Monteverde

quirky restaurants in Costa Rica
Quirky restaurant in Monteverde Costa Rica

We spotted this place on our way to our hotel in Monteverde, hard to miss really given that it has a blooming great big tree sticking out of the middle of it!

We were told a few days before by a taxi driver that Costa Ricans don’t like to chop trees down so instead build around them – roads, restaurants, whatever. The Tree House Restaurant was built in 2004 and in the middle sits a huge ficus tree!

Tree House Restaurant - a quirky dining experience in Santa Elena

We stopped at the Tree House for lunch after a morning at Selvatura Park. There’s plenty of choice on the menu. While my husband went for fajitas, I opted for a more traditional Costa Rican dish – Casado. Casado means “married” in Spanish and the dish can be best described as a marriage of food on a plate. Mine was a vegetarian version which consisted of rice, beans, tortilla, salad, veg, cheese, avocado and plantain. I quite enjoy meals where I can try lots of different things, variety is the spice of life after all!

Casado - a typical Costa Rican dish

Dining in a tree house

I don’t know how the casado fared against other restaurants, but I enjoyed it! And if I ever went back to Santa Elena I’d be sure to stop by the Tree House again.

El Avion – Manuel Antonio

El Avion - quirky restaurants in Costa Rica

I thought I’d seen it all when I visited a McDonalds in an aeroplane in New Zealand but no, Costa Rica has a restaurant with a plane too. At El Avion, the plane is the bar area and the restaurant is just behind it.

Situated in the touristy town of Manuel Antonio, the plane is kind of what initially draws the tourists attention but on further inspection its actually the beautiful sunset views you get from the restaurant that makes people want to dine here. If you’re planning on watching the sun set here then get here early as everybody else has the same idea!

El Avion - a place to watch the sun set

Sunset is a popular time to visit El Avion restaurant in Manuel Antonio

We both opted for fajitas which were nice but something didn’t quite agree with me and spoilt the evening. I don’t blame the restaurant though as hubby had the same and he was fine. Having said that though, I think if I ever come back to El Avion it would be for the cocktails!

Bit of a tourist trap but I can’t deny the sunsets were beautiful and it was lovely to spot a toucan in the distance.

Sunset view from El Avion in Manuel Antonio

Toucan in the distance


If quirky restaurants are your cup of tea then you might enjoy reading about the Alice in Wonderland Restaurant Tokyo or some of my other foodie adventures.

Quirky restaurants in Costa Rica

Reasons to travel (rather than sitting at home!)

People travel for many reasons, each with their own little motivation. Be it the need for relaxation, discovering different cultures to see friends, chances are everyone has something. The list goes on and on, and generally, not many people need much convincing to go travelling. However, there are times when one would rather just sit down and do nothing at home, lazing about the whole day without doing anything productive. As dismal as it may sound, it’s a safe bet to say that the large majority of people have been in that situation before. Work and the responsibilities of everyday life get to you, and all that’s on your mind is shutting down for a while. Nothing to be ashamed of, but is it the best thing to do? You could sit and do nothing at home, or travel somewhere else and then do nothing. An enticing proposition, is it not? Without further ado, let’s look at some reasons to travel around rather than sit at home and stare at the TV.

image via pexels

Wanderlust

The world spans far and wide, but life is short. Many people have that insatiable sense of wanderlust which just cannot be quenched by sitting around at home or checking out holiday destinations online. They need the real thing, the feeling of being in a new place with new people, new weather, new shops and suspicious looking foods with ingredients in languages other than their own. The call of the unknown, slowly exploring every nook and cranny of an otherwise alien to you location. It’s something that cannot be explained in words, only experienced.

With a purpose

Some people travel to different countries to help others. People usually go to less well-off countries to support the locals there. Volunteers from all over the world travel to places like India and Africa to try and make a difference in whatever way they can. Be it by helping homeless children get off the street or helping the local wildlife thrive. It is something everyone should consider at least once and if you really do not want to or cannot then the next best option still stands. Donating to or participating in charity adventures such as No Birds Bash involves both helping others and travelling making it a perfect fit in this scenario.

image via pexels

For fun

If you are travelling somewhere in your spare time and you are not having fun while doing so, you should try to realise why that was. After all, travelling itself is not an unfun thing, other than the lack of legroom on the plane it’s usually a blast. Maybe it was a one-off trip which turned out to be bland and the location which you had your expectations set so high for turned out to be not much different than several other places you’ve seen. If that happens, do not get discouraged, the world holds more different types of settings and opportunities for adventure than there are ants in your backyard. Getting put off from travelling for a while by a single trip is one of the worst things you can do to yourself, and if you ever hit that moment then just remember, that you travel for fun first and foremost. Do not be afraid to go to more exotic locations, somewhere across the world completely different from your usual place of residence. This does not mean you have to go and live in the jungle for a month, but countries far from the west such as Japan, have such staggeringly different cultures that you can explore the world anew. Be it amidst a busy metropolis like Tokyo or in a tranquil countryside like Kyōgoku. There’s something for everyone.

Post written in collaboration with Jay Donnelly.