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Don’t get me wrong...I love a hidden gem as much as the next traveller. Venturing off the tourist grid just a tad, and discovering an amazing place, person, sight, smell or taste, is as soul reviving as seeing some of the world’s most celebrated attractions. These moments of unexpected finds make one feel like an ancient explorer; perhaps the first and only soul to ever stumble upon a particular treasure.

Considering the fact we live in an era when you’d be hard pressed to unearth a nook of the world not yet ‘seen’ or ‘done’ by someone else (apparently there are a few in the depths of the Amazon but I’m far too allergic to all things sticky and bitey to prove the theory myself), feeling like a 21st century Marco Polo in Europe certainly has its rewards. Yet sometimes, I do wonder if our incessant drive to unveil the unexplored has the potential to lead us astray.

Are we doing the places we visit a disservice, by blatantly dismissing some of their most revered attractions?

Can the search of the authentic ever be taken too far?

Apr 16th 2014, 15:08 by Laura Pattara

Post your intention to pack your bags for a glorious week-end away to an amazing city and your Facebook feed will no doubt be inundated with 1001 snippets of advice, insider tips and invaluable hints. Or so it will seem...

Whilst your friends’ intentions are admirable, their actions are far less ‘priceless’ than they may appear. It’s bad enough that our own governments do nothing but warn us of the dangers of travelling abroad, whilst misleadingly leaving their own turf to appear as a safe haven, now we also have to listen to Aunt Betty who is adamant that all French people are rude and that Paris is just awash with young thuds just itching to snatch your bag. Never mind that Aunt Betty has never actually even been to Paris!

The Worst Travel Advice You Will Ever Hear

Apr 7th 2014, 12:39 by Laura Pattara

I’m a firm believer that everyone should travel alone at least once in life. The benefits are so extensive (read all about them here), and at times so life changing, that it should really be at the top of everyone’s bucket-list. Yes, it can be THAT powerful!

However, I can certainly understand the trepidation felt by many who have not yet discovered this most incredible way to experience the world. The questions are many: will I get lonely? Will I be safe? Will I get bored? I may smile to myself and think ‘oh if only you knew!’, but that’s easy for me to do. I travelled alone for years, all those fears are now long past me. But I vividly remember what it was like to get out of the airport, in a foreign city, all on my own for the very first time. If I remember correctly, I was a nervous wreck, sucked a whole Ventolin in a jiffy and thought I wouldn’t last five minutes. Twenty years later and the memory of that first week-end away still warms the cockles of my heart.

Lone ranger, the world is your oyster! Here are the best ways to shuck it out of its shell.

Travel Alone: Top Tips for a Safe and Fun Adventure

Travelling alone may seem daunting to the uninitiated, yet ask anyone who has actually tried it, and they’ll likely sing lyrical about the whole experience. Solo travel can be an amazing opportunity for self-growth, as attested by all those (like me) who tried it once, got hopelessly addicted and continued to indulge for many years. Unlike what many believe, it is not a punishment or statement of failure!

Travelling alone is a gift, an indulgence...and about the best present you can give yourself.

And here’s why:

Travel alone: gift yourself this amazing experience

Mar 18th 2014, 11:19 by Laura Pattara

Spend a week-end away with a few friends and you’ll soon discover just how irritable, short tempered and impatient you are. Well I’m here to tell you that, in fact, it’s not you...it’s them! Being stuck in a foreign city with exasperating travel-personalities is enough to make even the most zen-infused guru seethe with frustration. While there are literally hundreds of things you could do or say to drive your travel companions up the wall with madness, there are a few defining ways to really ensure you crush life-long friendships and make enemies wherever you lay your hat. Is you ambition to get indicted into the Travel Companion Hall of Shame? Then by all means, follow these genial hints and success will be guaranteed!

How to LOSE friends and NOT impress people when travelling!

Mar 10th 2014, 13:23 by Laura Pattara

In retrospect, it’s fair to say that someone so accident-prone should have never been allowed to dine in the dark. Quite frankly, considering I tend to spill vino on myself and fellow diners when I am allowed to keep all my senses working...what did I think would happen when I dined with my eyes wide shut? Ooohh!! And add an irrational fear of the dark to the equation and you can just imagine the kind of delightful dining experience I had at Dans Le Noir.

What I LOVE, however, is anything remotely experimental, weird and incredibly nonsensical; which is how some people have described this dining experience. Once I read those reviews I just knew I had to try it. My adventurous spirit will override all other senses each and every time!

Dining in the dark..

Mar 4th 2014, 14:00 by Laura Pattara

As much as we would all love to fly to Paris with just a credit card in our wallet and a smile on our faces, this may not always be feasible; nor all that great to be honest. I once found myself abroad for the week-end having forgotten to pack underwear (who on earth does that?) and I actually resented having to waste a whole morning in the City of Love roaming department stores for ones I liked. I realized then that the only shopping spree I truly appreciate is the utterly superfluous one. Or one at Victoria’s Secret.

Anyhow...packing for a few days away is not rocket science, I know, but I reason you may appreciate some tried-and-tested tips nonetheless.

Top 5 things NOT to pack for a week-end getaway

Feb 26th 2014, 10:49 by Laura Pattara

Now I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch nor, as they say in Italy, catch my bear before selling it’s skin however I am under the impression that one certain budget airline’s infamous and sometimes bloody battles of the boarding gate may well be on their way to becoming as historic as Waterloo. Having recently taken 4 flights with this particular company - despite telling myself and my husband that we would never fly with them again, battle weary after one war too many– we found ourselves in need of cheap flights and of course, this airline was the most economic option. Booking online using an improved website, no longer requires 25 clicks to book one flight and within record time we were printing out boarding passes WITH ALLOCATED SEATING!

The Battle of The Boarding Gate

Feb 18th 2014, 08:16 by Michelle Reid

Do you spend your lunch-break scouring deals on Kayak and checking out reviews on Trip Advisor? Does your dog growl when you get home but leaps with bliss when he sees your house sitter? If you answered yes to these, I have some bad news. You, my fellow nomad, may be a travel-addict.

Travel is like a drug, it affects people of all ages and for all sorts of different reasons. Some people travel to relax, others to explore new lands and discover foreign cultures. It matters not why, how or when one travels, as long as that itch is satisfied on a regular basis, then the travel-addict will remain calm, cool and collected. Much like all other addictions, travel also has a way of sneaking up on you insidiously. You won’t realise you have a problem, of course; not until a visiting friend asks you why your shower caddy is full with miniature shampoo bottles and why there are 27 pairs of fluffy white hotel slippers next to your front door.

Top 15 signs you’re a travel addict

Feb 14th 2014, 13:40 by Laura Pattara

We all love a week-end away in another country. The change of scenery, pace, food and...well...everything, is as rejuvenating for the soul as a daylong pamper session at Aveda is for the body. But to be honest, sometimes I do wish foreign countries didn’t come with foreign languages. Mostly, because I really suck at them.

So I thought I’d compile a genial guide to help the linguistically challenged. You know, those tortured souls who start a dozen online language courses a year and never bother to stick at one longer than a few weeks. Is that just me? Well, this year might be different. Inshallah.

Here are some wicked tips to help you blend right in...no matter where you go.

How to Avoid Those Lost in Translation Moments When Travelling

Feb 7th 2014, 13:44 by Laura Pattara