Top 5 Must-Have Travel Apps to Kickstart 2018

Thanks to technology and smart devices, booking hotel reservations, flights, car rentals, planning itineraries, and looking up restaurants and food hubs, have never been so easy. In this article, we will share with you our favorite travel apps for 2018.

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Yuggler

Travelling with kids is never easy. They need constant sensory input and would easily get cranky if bored. If you have kids and can relate to this, Yuggler is your best friend. This app helps you find kid-friendly activities in your destination. It allows you to set filters to check out different places, photos, and even tips depending on your children’s ages. It is currently only available to iOS users but the developer is building an Android version to go live soon.

ME

Sometimes, the travel experience is better without a tour guide. You get to explore and learn the culture yourself. You establish a connection with the locals. You learn how to get to a certain place by asking around, or by reading signs (and using your instincts). If you are that kind of traveller, MAPS.ME should be on your smartphone now. No matter where you are in the world, whether you are in a remote area or a bustling city, you can find your way because it can be used offline. All you need to do is download the maps ahead of time. It is available to both iOS and Android users.

Google Translate

This one is not new, but it never gets old and overrated. Learning a foreign language does not happen in 2 weeks, so this is definitely a great tool for you to be able to communicate with the locals when on a vacation in a foreign land. If you don’t know this yet, Google Translate can be used offline and provides real time translation. All you need to do is choose and download a language ahead of time. Aim the camera at the text you need translated and voila!

XE

It is a fact that many people do poorly in Math. And even if you are a Math expert, it’s no fun to have to manually convert rates into different currencies every time you need to. XE is an app that allows you to punch in the numbers that you need converted. You don’t have to pull up your phone’s calculator every time you need to convert an amount to a specific currency. Want to quickly find out how much 8,945 Vietnamese Dong is in US Dollars? XE does that for you.

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Like A Local

People travel not only to see different places, but also to experience a different culture. Travelling is more memorable if you get to experience how locals live, go where locals go, and do what they do. Like A Local gives you just that. It features tips from locals that give you an idea where to go, what to try, what to do, and where to eat. The best thing? You don’t even need internet connection!

These are my top apps to prep myself with more globe exploring in 2018. What are your favourite travel apps? Come and share with us!


mish

Hello, I am Mish! I used to work as a travel expert, customer service specialist and a communications trainer in the past. After working for eight years straight since I graduated, I decided to give up my corporate job to focuses on my 4-year old son, works as a freelance writer and a real estate assistant. I am a sun-worshipper, a water baby, and an earth warrior. And oh, I’m tiny but I am an Olympic-level glutton. Let me bring your tummy around the globe! You can reach me at LinkedIn.

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Guest Post: HOW TO DO A DIY YOGA RETREAT IN KOH TAO, THAILAND.

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I started to look into yoga retreats after four months on the road. I wanted a break from the constant moving around, and a place to chill out for a bit. Now, just to be clear I am not a yogi. In fact I’ve only ever been to a handful of classes, before deciding I was way to intimidated by the other people wearing fancy yoga pants, with super flexible backs, strong arms and actual ab muscles. I came out of downward facing dog red in the face and regretting the cigarette I’d just had outside. Essentially I lacked the commitment to further any sort of practice.

So I don’t really know what compelled me to go to a remote island and do yoga. I’m not doubting that I needed to go; my behaviour is erratic, my emotions are generally out of control and I’d spent the last four months boozing and eating burgers.
But my body is just not made for yoga; I don’t mean that like I’m just not that good at it. Literally I’m not built for yoga. An old abdominal operation left a scar running across my belly; as a result I basically haven’t used my very important yoga core muscles in 20 years. The same operation nicked a blood vessel to my left leg, causing it not to sweat (I know, I am so weird). So my danger of face planting is very, very real. I also don’t know my rights and lefts, and of course I am not at all flexible.
Nonetheless, I knew my mind needed to go, even if my body was non-compliant. So I boldly strode off to my first yoga class, not actually that apprehensive, but I think that was just lack of sleep from my journey down from Bangkok.
When I first arrived in Koh Tao, I had planned to go to different yoga studio, Grounded. Which I found out had recently moved and after much googling I just couldn’t find it. So I set out to look for another, and came across Ocean Sound Dive and Yoga. Which was closer, the reviews were great, and they had a budget approved deal on classes. I also needed to commit to this quickly, as with every minute that passed I was at more and more risk of reverting my decision and just signing up to the pub crawl instead.
I had originally planned to stay in the cheapest hostel I could find, and just eat the inflated islands prices for a few weeks. But after the first class  I got talking to another girl, who ended up giving me a lift home, we got chatting about accommodation, plans, life etc etc… Anyway, she was moving out the next day for three weeks, I planned to stay for three weeks; it was perfect, super convenient and dirt cheap. The following day I was in. I was committed.
My first class at Ocean Sound fortunately Restorative and eases me and my aching body in nicely. The instructors were easy going, totally non-pretentious and really knew their shit. The clientele varied from short to long term holiday makers/backpackers and workers from the island. Mostly women, but with the odd guy thrown in for good measure; and all really  lovely.
The studio was super homely; beautifully decorated with large windows, high wooden ceilings, tiled floors, a few discrete spiritual symbols and what I’m told is top of the range equipment. It had a calm and chilled out atmosphere, was really clean, with an abundance of fans, free water refills (which I totally abused) but most importantly it was just super friendly and everyone was welcome.
Classes covered Vinyasa, Hatha, Yin and Restorative. Yin was my favourite because I’m lazy, but I tried to mix it up. Classes are at 7am (I never made it to any of those), 10am and 6pm mostly lasting 90 minutes.
The total pricings worked out at 6,500 bht for 3 weeks at P&N Guesthouse (although there were many others like it). I had my own double bed, shower, kitchen, a small living room and balcony. A two minute walk from the yoga studio in Ban Koh Tao; it seemed  a popular choice for others in my position. The entire block was filled up with European girls spending a few weeks on Koh Tao being all hippy an’ shit.
For the yoga I paid 1000 bht for a one week unlimited pass. So two classes a day (could’ve done three if my body didn’t feel so middle aged). Which worked out at a ridiculous 70 bht per class (approx. £1.55/$2/1.80euro).
To keep my spending down I got the majority of my meals (mostly Pad Thai) from the street stall by my house ‘Lady Sandwich’ and although Lady was a little frosty at first, she soon warmed up to me when she saw I was a repeat customer.
One week in and I really loved the little retreat I’d made for myself. I felt calmer, and the subtle changes to my body were satisfying. I guiltlessly found myself searching yoga inspiration on Insta and Pintrest. I think the yoga has me now.
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A talented 29 year old traveler and writer of the blog https://goneshmavelling.com. Come and follow her adventures around South East Asia, then on to South America on a very strict budget.

How To Keep Your Valuables Safe When Travelling

There are so many fun things to do when you travel. And because, most of the time, your mind is preoccupied with your itinerary and exciting activity plans, it’s so easy to get your mind off your valuables. We have listed some tips for you to make sure you keep your valuables safe when travelling:

First of all, make sure to only bring the necessities when travelling. That means you have to leave your jewellery and other expensive items that you may not need during your trip. For instance, if you’re going on a trip for 3 days to the beach with an itinerary that includes mostly water activities, it may not be a good idea to bring a laptop or your gold chains with you. And unless you’re a blogger or going to an important event, leave your designer bags and dresses at home.

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Keep your passport, IDs, money and credit cards on you. Some say putting them in a money belt is the best way, but a neck bag or neck wallet that you can slide underneath your shirt actually does a better job at keeping these items safe.

This may seem impossible to do, but try to avoid getting wasted and walking around in a foreign land with your valuables. You’re very vulnerable when you’re drunk, so if you’re going out to party, leave your valuables in a locker.

It is never a good idea to trust a complete stranger to help you with your luggage. If in case you are in dire need of help, make sure the bag that has all the valuables is with you and not with someone else.

Do not put your cash in one place. If you have $250, do not put all of them in a wallet. If you lose your wallet, you will have to say goodbye to all your cash, too.

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Get creative when hiding your cash. Roll your bills and put them in empty lip balm/beauty product containers, vitamin bottles or even your kid’s Play-Doh containers. If a thief decides to break into your hotel room, they would usually go for the most obvious places that might contain money (bag, locker, closet, mattress, pillow, drawers) but they would not have time to open vitamin bottles or Play-Doh containers.

Always be aware of your surroundings. Tricksters—young or old—are literally everywhere these days. They move really fast in stealth mode and you wouldn’t have the slightest idea about what’s going on if you zone out.

Invest in anti-theft luggage. Bags that are slash-proof and tamper-proof are really helpful. They can be costly in some places, but it’s worth it.
When shopping or going to the ATM to withdraw cash, do not stay long and count your cash at the ATM. Doing so makes you an easy prey for thieves.

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When roaming around, make sure to find out the name of the place you’re in by asking around. In case you lose something, you would know where you’ve been and hopefully be able to trace where you lost your stuff.

The tips on how to keep your valuables safe are endless. No matter where you are going, the best way to stay safe would be to remain vigilant at all times. Have a happy and safe trip!


 

mish

Mish worked as a travel expert, customer service specialist and a communications trainer in the past. After working for eight years straight since she graduated, she decided to give up her corporate job. She now focuses on her 4-year old son, works as a freelance writer and a real estate assistant. She is a sun-worshipper, a water baby, and an earth warrior. And oh, she’s tiny but she is an Olympic-level glutton. Let her bring your tummy around the globe! You can reach her at LinkedIn.

Travelling with Kids

When I was small, our family was not rich and we hardly can afford a vacation as a family together. Yet my father never fails to bring us all for a trip, at least once every 2 years. I don’t remember much about the beauty or location, all I remember was the excited feeling of first time seeing the beach, first time get on that “xich lo”, first time tasting some special food. Those memories are still vivid even though I was so small.

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That’s why I believed that it is vital for the child to grow up, building the experiences and bonding with their parents during the vacations. For those family on an extreme budget like us, and think travelling is such a luxury, don’t be, start planning and get going.

Take this article as a humble idea sharing and I hope your family will have a wonderful vacation.

Budget Right
Don’t be spontaneous, carefully plan to ensure you have a smooth carefree vacation. We normally save money first, then match our budget. This normally gives us less stress as there isn’t specific target to reach. What my father did is we have a piggy bank, named “travel”, every day he would add about $3 in (well we are in Vietnam though, so monthly income is about $400).

Technically it was less than 1% of the total income. Apart from that mandatory “daily dose”, if any of us has a suggestion on how or what we want from the coming trip, we can contribute to the piggy bank with a small note attached to it (like this $ is for me to eat all the type of ice cream). Nobody can touch the amount in the piggy bank until the end of the year.

This gives the young kids like us the sense of being responsible and saving, we learned from very small age, to reach your goal, sometimes, you got to sacrifice. I also never forget the thrill when we “kill” the piggy bank and count the money, full of satisfaction.

So now you have some amount on hand, start planning.

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Below is a list of a few essentials for you to prepare in matching the budget. You can do research first and shortlisted a couple of options and present to your kids so you all can decide together (with your pre-set direction).

Accommodation
Kids love activities and they do not really care about the fanciness, well most of them. Just ensure the place is safe. Tent for camping, homestay (plenty on Airbnb or HomeAway), don’t opt for fancy hotels. So mix them up, few days in a tent, few days in the homestay, few days in a barn even if you taking the country road, variety is the key. You can even register to swap home so maybe if lucky enough, no accommodation fee to worry about.

Transportation
Depending on the distance, you can choose the bus, flight, boat or even a road trip if time allows. If you are planning a road trip, the easiest way to plant is using Google My Maps to roughly get an idea on the routes to take. If you are unsure which transportation suite best use Rome2Rio for a suggestion. Just make sure your children’s state of health is able to withstand the journey, if any of them have severe sea sick, avoid boat at any cost. While at the destination, travelling around as a family can be costly, some public transport modes do offer children a discounted rate, so do make sure you ask. There are a handful of apps you can use to compare costs of different transportations.

Food
Sometimes, kids are willing to try the new food. While other times, they may just want to have the usual ones. So, best to pack some comfort food such as cereal, snack bar, and instant porridge so that if your little ones don’t like the local food, they won’t be left hungry. Plus, this can save you some costs in case you travel to quite remote areas and have to pay like $5 for a simple cereal bowl because your kids won’t want to eat anything else.

Medicine
Another important thing to bear in mind, for any kind of travelling, everyone in the family needs a thorough check and get common medicine. A first aid kit is a must have when you travelling with young kids.

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Activities
The most headache for parents when it comes to travelling with kids is to ensure they are entertained throughout the trip. They are more creative and much willing to learn and adapt than you think!

Drop by the beach, bring along the swimsuits and your family can have an amazing bonding time. Zoos, Safari or getting their hand dirty with farm activities are something surely excite them too. Museums are also the best spot for you and your children to learn something new together.

Actually, the idea of being in a new place with unusual routines are already thrilling them to bits (to us as well), so don’t worry and just enjoy the moments. Stroll along the street, talk to local people, try new food.

Tip: do not treat them as your kids, treat them as your buddies, ask for opinions, share the stories… you will be amazed by learning about the world through their eyes.

Tip: do bring some light board games so your family does not get bored at night.

Alternative Planning
If things don’t go according to plan, your family still can have heaps of fun. As kids are sensitive, being disappointed can really ruin their holiday. Make sure you discuss with them beforehand, for example, the plan is to go to the zoo on that day but if it’s raining, what else do you think we can do?

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Rules
Finally, it is essential to teach and make sure your kids well understand these rules. Set rules of public behaviours like no screaming or crying, rules on what they can and cannot buy, rules on the minimum distance they should keep with their parent so you never lose sight of them.

Teach them how to find you in a crowd or who should they contact to if they are lost. Have a list of police station number on the cities you plan to go and always keep them with your child (bracelet or pocket) together with your phone number. All these are the extremely important while travelling to somewhere crowded, they should know who they can turn to for help in case of need.

All in all, travelling with your little buddy can be a reward if you treat them as your travelling buddies. Always discuss openly and get them involved in decision making because when kids feel that their opinions are heard, they tend to behave and cooperate.

So, don’t wait, go build the memories before they grow up!

We understand that a parent’s life is overwhelming and busy, juggling with kids, school and work. Here at LadyRedot, we can help to ease the frustrations of planning a trip aboard. Talk to us @ askus@ladyredot.com to find out how we can help!


 

june June explores different roles to find out what is her passion. She used to be a travel consultant, a Kindergarden English teacher, an Expedia’s Lodging Partner Support agent, and the latest is being a freelancer. Eventually, she figures that her passion is to express the hospitality spirit from her heart and inspire others from her works. Being a writer for LadyRedot, where she get inspired and inspire others, and running her own bed and breakfast in her homeland. She views life as a colorful and adventurous journey, join her as she shares her passion with you! You can reach out to her @ LinkedIn.

 

The Benefits of Traveling Solo

Travelling is, undeniably, beneficial to everyone. It can be fun and life changing at the same time.

Nowadays, it has become very popular and more people are going on trips than ever before. But the question is, how do we make the experience even more worthwhile? Should we go in groups? Or is it best to travel solo? A lot of people say travelling with a group of friends is better, but a portion of the world’s population thinks otherwise. They say going solo is actually as beneficial or even better! Why?

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Going on a solo trip is, admit it, easy to plan. Personally, I’ve had numerous travel plans that fell through just because one of my friends who initially decided to go, suddenly changed her mind. And I don’t know about you guys, but with my friends, if one expresses hesitation about the trip, a couple of others will be disheartened and will eventually decide not to go, too. Being a damper on the fun can be contagious.

Bummer, right?

Well, when you travel alone, you’re the master of your own schedule and this won’t happen!

Do anything you like. Go anywhere you want.

When you travel solo, you can do whatever you like without the hassle of asking for somebody’s opinion, and without waiting for someone’s approval. Spur-of-the-moment ideas are always possible! And the best part is, you don’t have to go through the process of arguing where to eat and where to go next, right? (Which normally happens when in a group)

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Well, when you travel alone, you’re still going to need help from different people. Asking for directions, asking locals where to eat or what transportation to take can be stepping-stones to new relationships.

“Me time” is always a good time. Every once in a while, we have to be alone and one with nature. It’s a good way to relax and think of your goals and aspirations. The tranquillity can also help you realise things you have not thought of in the past.

Stepping out of your comfort zone makes you stronger. Challenging yourself and doing things that you never thought you would do are some of the things that will help you improve yourself. So if you have always been terrified of travelling alone, it’s time you consider the idea. As they say, you will never know what you are capable if you do not try.
Whether you’re 18 or 80, there is always something you have yet to discover about yourself. There can be self-discovery moments in doing things alone, in an isolated bubble, away from the unsolicited opinions of other people. Who knows, you might just surprise yourself in the process!

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You can be yourself, and no one will judge you. When you travel, you will be surrounded by people who do not know you. You can do whatever you want (of course, without disrespecting their culture) and be the best version of yourself because, although the strangers you bump into may judge you, you won’t even care.

Experience is the best teacher. Travelling solo will help you learn things and see them in a different perspective. You also will also learn to appreciate life more and realise that although it never runs out of obstacles, it is beautiful.

Over here in LadyRedot, we will make sure you are well taken off in our hands. Reach out to us at askus@ladyredot.com now!


 

mish

Mish worked as a travel expert, customer service specialist and a communications trainer in the past. After working for eight years straight since she graduated, she decided to give up her corporate job. She now focuses on her 4-year old son, works as a freelance writer and a real estate assistant. She is a sun-worshipper, a water baby, and an earth warrior. And oh, she’s tiny but she is an Olympic-level glutton. Let her bring your tummy around the globe! You can reach her at LinkedIn.

Going Unplugged!

Let’s talk about something fun and to look forward to. What else but a holiday, of course! Many of you read the articles I wrote and commented to me that you wanted so much to take a break but every time, you ended up not enjoying your holiday because you will always be checking your phone, or reading your emails or updating your Calendar etc. So put your mobiles, iPads and laptops aside and get ready to take the plunge – Going Unplugged.

  1. The Meridian Club Turks & Caicos

Watching the wonderful sunset from my room, enjoying the sea breeze caressing my hair without a care in the world. According to the hotel website here, they ban phone usage in the hotel area and rooms and provides little internet access. Of course, during an emergency (we’re talking about your boss had pulled out all his hair or whatever left of it), you can still use your mobile in a designated area only.
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2. Bloomfield Lodge

G’day, mate! This wonderful secluded area is located in Queensland, Australia. The moment you step off the private plane, your mobile signal drops really low. It is definitely a good way to avoid calls from your pesky secretary. For more beautiful pictures of the lodge, come here.

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3. Campgrounded

This cool organisation offers camping trips for adults. Once you are there, you will be prohibited to use any electronic devices and you will also go without a watch. Zero technology. The best part is talking about work is strictly not allow. Imagine not having to listen to your partner gripping about work  for days! Ahhh… Bliss! Find out more here.

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4. Paya Beach Resort

My favourite beach resort in the world!! I have been a regular guest here just because they do not offer internet services in the room and their mobile signal is super low (one bar exactly). My boss often groan whenever I tell him I am going to Tioman retreat, he knows he couldn’t get me there and god knows, how often he tried. Love it here.

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5. Bagus Place

Another resort that I always wanted to try at Tioman is Bagus Place. There is no wifi, no air conditioned and only one restaurant opened on certain allocated times. The beauty of this place is that they truly bring you back to basic. Each of the huts are so isolated that you might not bump into your neighbours until meal times.

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Looks like I have just shared 5 gems that the world have been hiding from us! I’m sure there are more but these are my favourite getaways. Remember a holiday break means a break from everything. If you constantly check what’s new on FaceBook or what is showing on HBO, you never get the much-needed rest. Give your eyes (tiny words on a tinier mobile screen), your ears (from the ‘ding’ arrival Whatsapp sound), your heart (from boiling in anger that some bugger screws your latest project) and your mind a well-deserved break. After all, your boss can’t fault you for not answering emails when you are so far away.

Love these locations or do you have somewhere better? I love to hear from you! Remember, I am just an email away.


Writer’s Profile

Kally

Kally is a former Sales and Customer Service manager turned Writer and Founder of MiddleMe.net. She came from Singapore; lived in Shanghai and now calls Kuala Lumpur her home. After hanging up her corporate briefcase, she now pursue her passions – Writing, Traveling and of course, hunting for good food

Connect with me @ Kally@ladyredot.com