My Rick Steves book contribution

Perhaps my luck in the travel world started from birth. I grew up a few hours from Edmonds, just north of Seattle, the home of Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door where hundreds of travellers and like-minded individuals work tirelessly to constantly update and improve guidebooks for those who want to enjoy Europe on a budget.
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Secrets of London’s Oyster Card

Planning a trip to London? Great! This post is for you.

Live in London and haven’t discovered all the perks of your Oyster Card yet? Read on.

London’s Oyster Card not only gets you around London but also offers secret 2-for-1 deals not prominently advertised and unique card designs you have to ask for specially.

Oyster Cards are more than just the travel card most people use them for. Even a Londoner can learn something here.
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Travel plans were made to be broken

Sometimes a great pre-trip idea just doesn’t feel so great after you’re on the road. Maybe the weather is bad, the culture isn’t what you thought it would be or you found yourself happily stuck somewhere else.

My first big trip to Europe, I had a month planned before I left and thought I’d plan the rest while I was travelling. I wanted to know where I was going to be for the next month, how I was going to get there and what I was going to do.

I knew some flexibility was necessary, but I felt I had to have a rough plan in my mind (ok, a bit more than a rough plan). After a month of planned travel in Ireland, that whole philosophy was thrown out the window.
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Picking, packing and pimping your pack

Preparing for a trip is a great feeling. There’s a lot to do and a great buzz of impending departure. One of my favourite things to do (besides hopping on the plane) is pack.

I know this sounds crazy, but I really do enjoy it. Making sure I have everything that I need, but not things that I don’t need (even though they still sneak into my bag somehow) and that my pack can still be closed is a huge equation that I thrive off of.

I know some people hate it. If I could pack for them, I would. Maybe they just haven’t found the right method or they don’t have the right luggage.

Choosing your luggage, your packing style and even changing your pack to fit your needs can hugely influence whether packing will be fun or torturous. It’s different for everyone, every trip and every location. I’ve found what works for me and by following a few general pointers, packing can be quick, easy and relatively painless.
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The fury of the overpacking trolls

Most travellers are victims of the overpacking trolls at some point or another. They think they’ll need this and they might need that and before they know it, they’re wheeling two huge suitcases behind them in the airport, stumbling with each step.

This doesn’t have to be you. You don’t have to be a victim of the overpacking trolls. Overpacking is easy to prevent and you’ll be happy you avoided the troll’s terror.
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London’s other side: What to see if it’s not your first time

To say London is large would be an understatement. The city is massive and it is stuffed to the gills with people from all over the world. Needless to say, there’s a lot to see.

While guidebooks can direct you to the major tourist areas, I like the off-beat sites and experiences. Here’s a list of some of my favourites.
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Diary of a mad Icelandic volcano – Grímsvötn attacks

Everyone heard about Eyjafjallajökull (say it with me: Aey-ya-fiat-la-yo-khult, Eyja means island, fjall means mountain and jökull means glacier), commonly referred to as ‘the volcano’ or simply ‘Eya’, that erupted in April 2010.

Most of Europe was affected for weeks by the ash cloud as it coated the continent and cancelled air travel.

When I visited Iceland in December 2010 I realised why.

Even 7-8 months after the eruption, there was still ash on the ground and every wind gust blew blinding ash at us, making driving difficult and causing our cameras to fail temporarily.

The fine ash from Eyjafjallajökull got into every nook and cranny. There was ash in our car and in our bags. It coated anything that was wet or damp and created a fine layer of ash on our skin.

It was an adventure and we laughed about it, but we could easily see why it wreaked so much havoc on the continent.
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