Travel Tips

A collection of travel tips to help boost your travelling adventures!

Check the Price!

This one might sound like we’re stating the obvious but stick with us! Sometimes, we’ve been looking at flight prices for a particular place and we’ve thought “great, that looks cheap, let’s go!”. However, once we’ve looked further into it, adding baggage or pre-booked seats ramps up the flight price. Alternatively, flight prices might be fine but accommodation prices are through the roof. Or the travel from the airport to the accommodation adds another £50 each. Sometimes, it’s cheap to get there and stay, but food and activities cost a bomb – it all mounts up and suddenly, what started as a cheap weekend trip costs the same as a few weeks away somewhere exotic! Do your research, check out what the costs are. You might find that those cheap flights are accompanied by an expensive place to stay. On the flip side, you might also find that more expensive flights are balanced out by really cheap accommodation, meaning you can travel further or stay longer than you first anticipated!

Get Prepping

We can’t stress enough how much research we do before a trip! It’s great to simply turn up to a place and go with the flow. There is nothing quite like the sense of adventure you get with a flexible route – however, when you are short on time, it can mean that you don’t get the most out of your trip. By researching properly, you can be informed about the best approach: to just go with the flow or to book things in advance so that you don’t miss out. A good example was when we visited Alcatraz: without booking, we’d have missed out on an amazing experience! Do your research – what is nearby? Can you add a stop over into your trip? What do you absolutely need to book? By working out a good plan in advance, you can maybe get to see a few extra places for very little cost. Make sure that your time and your budget work for you!

Think About When You Travel

Particularly for short breaks away, consider when you travel. Most people can get away over a weekend, however this obviously means that there are more demands on flights and accommodation at these times. For short breaks, we try to pick times of the year where most people are not looking to travel – in term time, through the week, avoiding national holidays at the destination we are travelling to. This means you can usually get cheaper fares with less crowds. Using Skyscanner’s ‘price alert’ email will let you know of the best times to travel to your chosen destination.

For big trips, we book our flights around 6 months in advance and pay them off bit by bit. It allows you to get a clear savings plan in place to afford those trips that are a little more expensive. For long-haul flights, we tend to use Trailfinders in the UK – usually putting down a small deposit and then paying off the flights month by month until around six weeks before the trip.

Ask The Locals

How often do we hear of people visiting our local area and think ‘I wouldn’t have gone there!!’ It’s exactly the same when we travel! Find a local, a waiter, bar staff or park worker and ask them where they would spend an hour or two if they weren’t working. You get lots of cool ideas and often, they aren’t the ones on the usual tourist lists. You are far more likely to get a personal experience of the place you are visiting and there is a chance that you’ll make a new friend!

Ask other Travellers

This sounds simple, and it really is! Similar to the previous tip, travellers have their own set of experiences and knowledge about places to visit, travelling on the cheap and sharing ways of making your adventure even more awesome! Part of travelling is meeting new people, so start a conversation! I’m terrible at speaking to new people so I’ve learnt to start small; ask for a recommendation on what food tastes great and build up to asking about good places to spend an hour or so. We’ve found some real gems through this method that we would have otherwise missed.

Consider How Long To Spend In a Location

When you are looking at planning a trip, write down all of the ‘must do’ activities you want to experience. Estimate how much time they will take, then add on an extra day to ensure that you have time to ‘go off plan’ or be side tracked by something shiny (it happens to me a lot!). This should give you a good idea of how long to stay in one place without missing out on the main things you want to do.

Do you have other tips to make your trip go smoothly or to get more from your money? We’d love to hear from you!!

10 Top Tips for Visiting Alcatraz

10 tips to improve your visit to Alcatraz

Alcatraz is iconic. Everyone knows of the maximum high security prison just off the San Francisco coast. For this week’s post we wanted to share with you our tips to get the most out of your visit:

1. Planning Your Trip

I can’t stress this enough – book well in advance! On our trip, we’d been keeping an eye on tickets and they were selling out weeks in advance. In fact, the first time we visited San Francisco we didn’t manage to get any tickets. Granted, this was in peak summer time, but I have heard that other people have experienced a similar challenge at less busy points of the season.

Our tip is to get online as soon as you know when you will be in San Francisco and book those tickets – the earlier the better to make sure that you get your selected slot.

2. Get The Right Ticket

Although there is only one company that runs trips to the island and the prison (it’s classed as a National Park), you can buy tickets from more than one place. Be warned, these are often ticket resale sites who add their own costs on top. There are also tours around Alcatraz which do exactly that: take you around the island without allowing you to get off the boat – pretty disappointing if you were expecting a trip into the prison. To make sure you get the right ticket, visit: Alcatraz Cruises.

The lighthouse on Alcatraz

3. Take ID

Make sure that the person booking the tickets brings their ID with them, or at least a photocopy of it. You won’t be allowed to take the tour without it.

4. Allow Enough Time

Anyone who knows me is fully aware that I am late for everything. Wandering Beeb likes to be on time. It’s a struggle. For a trip like this, you don’t want to leave too little time and end up missing something interesting.

We walked up from Fisherman’s Wharf to Pier 33 where the crossing to Alcatraz takes place. It’s much further than we thought and there were queues to pass security. Make sure you get there with enough time to navigate security and finish up your drinks / food before you board the boat, or you might find that you don’t even make it to the island.

Making your way around the prison, the grounds and the island takes far longer than you think – if you have other things planned in for your day after returning from Alcatraz, make sure you have left enough time to see everything and visit all the different parts of the prison and grounds. Official tour guides recommend at least 3 hours to see everything.

Be sure to visit all of the buildings on the island - there are some hidden gems!

5. When To Go

The day trip is far less busy (although a trip at any time of day is fairly crowded) and you get some beautiful views on the way to the island – however, for us, the evening trip wins hands down. Although you don’t get the same views on the sea crossing as you would in the day time, seeing the island rise out of the murky darkness on the night trip is one sight that sets the scene for the rest of the prison and you don’t want to miss it!

Seeing Alcatraz rising out of the mist is a vision that will stay with me for a long time.

6. Take A Coat

But it’s a sunny day” I hear you shout. It doesn’t matter! On our visit, I had the same thought and just took a light jumper. Big mistake – I froze my way around the island and was glad of the small amount of warmth to be found in my dodgy hotel room (that’s another story) at the end of the day.

It gets incredibly chilly once you are out on the water and evening trips are down right cold. The combination of open sea, winds and damp buildings mean that wrapping up warm is a must.

7. Let Staff Know in Advance of Mobility Needs

Alcatraz island is very steep. If you have mobility needs, let the staff know in advance as they have some limited transport to help people get about from A to B.

8. Take The Tour Option

The audio tour adds a huge amount to the experience of the prison – with sound effects of clanging cells, stories of the prisoners housed at Alcatraz and insight into the perspective of the guards, it gives a very detailed insight into life in the prison. It’s also fun to watch other visitors randomly pointing at things the audio has mentioned and making faces at some of the horrible stories being told. That might just be me though – I’m a total people watcher (but not in a creepy way, I promise).

One other thing to be aware of: if you take the evening tour, you get a few extras in comparison to the day trip. Extra information on the island from your captain and a couple of extra trip options (such as the hospital or other prison floors). We visited the hospital and this was, without a doubt, the most creepy part of the whole trip.

The hospital wing in Alcatraz

9. Remember Your Camera

Obviously you’ll want to get those important Insta snaps of the inside of the prison, but don’t forget to turn your camera around on the boat ride to/ from the island.

The boat journey is a great place to grab some photos of the San Francisco coastline that you might otherwise miss.

10. Catch The Slamming Of The Cells

The calls of “Rack ’em” echoed down the halls, fading away to nothing. Silence followed. Then, breaking the stillness, came the sound of the cell doors slamming shut in unison. It was chilling and by far the best part of the visit to Alcatraz.

The slamming of the cells really brings home the isolation and loneliness of the prison like nothing else on the tour. Make sure you find out if the tour slot you are booking on will feature the cells closing, as it really brings the experience to life.

Don’t miss the slamming of the Cells

What areas of Alcatraz did you find the most interesting? Did we miss a tip? Let us know in the comments.

Zombie Girl & Wandering Beeb xx

Travel Tip: Get the Tent Out!

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When we first started to travel, I was not a camping fan. I dislike bugs, being cold and mud – so it was no surprise that I’d rather stay in a comfy, warm hotel. However, on our first trip to a National Park in the USA, I was persuaded to give it a go. I’m so glad that I did! It was the best part of our trip, with nights around the campfire firmly cemented in my memory.

One of the main reasons I was happy to give it a go was for the cost. Accommodation is one of the most expensive elements of travelling. Camping can help with that. With pitch costs of around $26 per night in Wawona, Yosemite, camping can cut your accommodation costs in half.


When we first travelled to Yosemite and Tahoe, we had no clue about what tent to get and we didn’t want to have to pay extra to fly the tent over to our destination. This meant that we visited Kmart on our first day in the USA and, after much deliberation, we ended up buying a tent that was probably more suited to a backyard sleep over than a week or so in a couple of National Parks. Our main selection criteria was that it was big enough for three of us and had a sewn-in ground sheet (I refused to camp of there was a chance that spiders could crawl into my bed – ugh). We also ended up with sleeping bags that were fairly thin, and in one person’s case – didn’t come up past their chest! To be fair, the tent and the sleeping bags did their job – they were cheep and cheerful (we were not going to pay to fly them back to England and so they would be given away at the end of our trip) and they kept us clean and dry, however, they weren’t really designed for the cold nights of Yosemite.

Learning from our first experience, the next time we camped, we purchased a huge four-man tent in the UK and counted this as one of our bags, splitting the rest of our gear between the baggage allowance for the remaining three people in our party. This actually worked out far cheaper and meant that we had a sturdy, well-made tent for our adventures. Although there was lots of room in this tent (we could fit in four large airbeds!), it took four people, a good thirty minutes and the tips of one of my fingers to put up.

The big tent is great, particularly for camping trips on the UK but it only works out cheaper to take abroad if there are a few of you with whom you can split the luggage. So what do we do if it’s just me and Wandering Beeb? We did a huge amount of research and purchased a much smaller tent. We ended up with a MSR Elixir 3 tent.


This little tent is a beauty! Firstly, it looks the business – it’s fairly low to the ground and has a curved design, giving you lots of head room whilst feeling really airy. The ground sheet is sewn-in and the two doors are well-sealed to prevent any unwanted visitors or rain getting in. Although there is a two-man version of the tent, we were sensible to go for the three-man option to get a little extra room as it’s a very snug inside. It’s small, geometric design made it really sturdy and it was unbelievably easy to put up. Usually there is a lot of swearing and sore fingers when we camp – not in this case as it’s easy enough for one person to put it up in about 10 minutes – winner!! Even better, as it’s so lightweight and can be split up into two small bags, we were able to fit it in with our usual luggage allowance, meaning that we didn’t incur any extra charges.


One of the best things about this tent had to be the option to remove the outer layer and look up through the mesh panels at the stars. The Yosemite night sky is one of the most beautiful sights we have ever seen and to be able to look up at the stars from the comfort of our sleeping bags was incredible – something you would absolutely miss out on in a hotel.

As well as incredible sights, camping brings you together as travellers like nothing else. There is something about a good campfire and nights huddled round a torch that bond you in a way nothing else can.

What tent do you use? Any good recommendations? Tell us in the comments!