Month: April 2014

Trekmates volume reducer from the Gap Year Travel Store

Flooglebinder does its best to keep you updated with current science related tweets and product reviews which will be coming to our new site soon.

Large Trekmates volume reducer from the Gap Year Travel Store

  • Ziplock closure
  • Airtight and water tight

– Simply fill and roll the air out through the one-way valve.

I have used a similar product before but was more targeted towards storage in the home and required a hoover, as opposed to travel, so I must admit I was a bit sceptical when I first pulled them out the packaging, as wasn’t quite sure how different it would be to rolling my clothes, which I would usually do when travelling. However, I decided to place one of the biggest things I could get my hands on, which at the time was a pillow, and was very surprised to see the results:

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I pulled the zip across and began to roll from the zip end down towards the one way valve and very easily compressed the bag, and pillow inside, to a considerably reduced size. There was no air coming back into the bag and no increase in size over time, so unlike trying to squeeze a sleeping bag back into its sleeve, which we have all experienced and probably cried about, after a sleepless night in a cold, wet tent, this remained tightly compressed. 

I wouldn’t have considered this item before trying it but don’t think I would now travel without one….in fact I now have 2. 

It folds up to practically nothing, although I would be careful not to bend the zip closure to much so that you don’t break the seal over time. I recommend rolling it up and storing it long ways so that there is little effect on the zip and seal.

This item is currently reduced to £7.99 and with this code you can receive a further 10% off : FLOOGLE10GAP

Check out Gap Year Travel Store for other essential products: http://www.gapyeartravelstore.com/trekmates-vacuum-compression-bags.html

Logos: colour and fonts…

Logos: colour and fonts...

I don’t come from a marketing background although wish I did at times, so playing around with our new logo was tough, especially considering we thought it was ok the first time round. However, with some industry insight it appeared that our logo was aimed at a slightly older demographic to who we were trying to target, which is anyone that fits into the following: students, backpackers and flashpackers. So technically has no age bracket as our programs are open to anyone who fits into the those three areas, so it was even harder when designing the new logo.

The first battle was simply layout but we were happy with out first template but then we had to decide on font: nothing too serious or corporate; but not too unfledged, so went with a typewriter font that we hope gets across what we’re about: travel, documentation, journals and exploration.

Then we had to look at colour which was by the far the hardest, as our programs are certainly environmental, so looked at earthy colours, although they lacked excitement and passion, so we focused on energy, enthusiasm and inspiration but still with a stable, composed and reliable element, which is exactly what we’re about…Fun, exciting travel with a purpose.

What do you think?

Never too old to learn but never too young to teach!

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From an early age I was a bit of a ‘know it all’ and I’m sure still show similar signs of this trait but not in the same way. Now it’s more a reflection of my experience and travels but I’m cautious to not evoke the same emotion, as certainly discovered that as we grow older we learn a great deal and that never stops. We experience new things, go through new emotions and evoke very different feelings as a result of these experiences.  

BUT WE CAN STILL LEARN A LOT FROM YOUTH…A few years back I met someone who was going through a difficult chapter in their life and without me even realising I taught them many things. Being their junior it was very enlightening to see the impact that I could have, as despite my age, my thoughts, perspective and optimistic approach was a big help. I have also learnt a lot from this person as their outlook and perspective, which is as a result of their experiences, has evoked feelings and emotions that causes them to think the way they do now… We are a reflection of our own experiences.

As we get older we encounter more experiences which helps us to learn and develop but sometimes this can also cause doubt, so lets look even younger – CHILDREN!

Children have had very little experiences yet whilst this is a rapid learning curve, for them, we can also learn a great deal. Their innocence breeds a sense of freedom that we seem to forget as we age, so its refreshing to see this and not forget that we can sometimes be tarnished from certain experiences…we shouldn’t let these confine our thoughts or views.

“It is good to learn from our experiences, but don’t forget how exciting it is to encounter new ones!”

 

The way to plan for a trip!

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We all travel differently, different classes, different destinations and for different reasons but as long as you know your goals and objectives, you can ensure you’ll trip will be what you want it to be;

  • PLANNING AND PREPARATION
  • LOCATION AND BUDGET
  • RESEARCH AND REACH
  • VISAS AND VACCINATIONS
  • BOOKING YOUR TRIP
  • PACKING
  • DO IT

The following is broken down into digestible areas so you can revisit at any point depending at what stage you’re at…

  • PLANNING AND PREPARATION

I find this element of the trip the hardest part, as unlike some I don’t like to just see what happens when I’m there, I like to plan which I hate to admit, and girlfriend loves to tease me about. As much as I love the spontaneity and know many things will happen that I didn’t plan or prepare for, which are usually the most exciting, I like to find out about where I’m going and what it offers to make sure I don’t miss out on anything.

However, the chances are I’ll get there, do my ‘cultural day’ meet some locals and check out the ‘local scene’ – that to me is the best culture to experience. Don’t get me the wrong, the history and their traditions, amongst the architecture and infrastructure, is usually fascinating but being a contemporary modern day man, that’s what I want to experience…the modern day!

  • LOCATION AND BUDGET

The initial planning stage can be a bit of a catch 22, as do you start with the budget or the location? I would say start with the location and back track from there, as you can save and work towards your goal or if it’s beyond your financial reach, or timeframe, there are always good alternatives. Do what you can to stay within your budget, which I appreciate can be very tricky, as we all get excited and carried away when playing with ‘monopoly money’. The closer you stick to your budget the less you’ll worry on the trip, after trip and the better chance you have to save for the next one. 

  • RESEARCH AND REACH

Whatever the reason for your trip is, whether its conservation, community, business, pleasure, backpacking or flashpacking and I’m sure many more, researching into the local area will ensure you know what the location has to offer. Check out review sites like www.tripadvisor.co.uk , as testimonials are obviously carefully selected, but these kinds of comments are from the consumer and offer a true reflection. Don’t forget to reach out to friends and ask if they know anyone there or anyone that has been, as recommendations from your friends and like minded people will hopefully offer a shared interest. I have met some of my closest friends this way and explored places like a true local.

As well as researching the area, you need to research the best way to get there. This can be done very easily today with so many online search engines and forums. I would always check a minimum of three, usually starting with www.makemytrip.com and then cross-referencing against the likes of www.expedia.com , www.lastminute.com and the airline directly. For accommodation this is easy as using your budget you can straight away refine your search and then use review sites to check them out. Don’t forget homestays and couch surfing, as it can be a great alternative and brilliant way to meet people. But, be careful and if possible thoroughly check reviews for these types of accommodation and ensure someone knows where you are at all times.

  • VISAS AND VACCINATIONS

These can become quite a surprise if you haven’t done your research properly, as I recently discovered on a trip to Russia where my visa was double the cost of my flight and quite a stressful process. Hence the reason for this stage being before ‘BOOKING YOUR TRIP’. Ensure you check what your restrictions are and if travelling with passengers of different nationality their restrictions too, as duration and fees can vary drastically. If visa’s are on arrival make sure you always have spare passport photos, different sizes if possible, as well as local currency and dollars. Personally I like to always travel with some Dollars, local currency and home currency, for both transit and emergencies.

Vaccinations are a vital part of your research and cannot be looked at lightly, so please make sure you check with your local GP and seek professional advice from specialists such as www.masta.com. Certain vaccinations need to start their course three months before, such as Hep B, as the course is staggered over timed intervals whilst others will need boosters, such as Tetanus.  Vaccinations will also vary depending on your health, and logistics, as it may not always be convenient to take your medication or you may not want to take them daily if they make you feel sick or dizzy etc.

  • BOOKING YOUR TRIP

Now you’ve done your research into the area and how to get there, you’re almost set. Paying for the trip is the most exciting part for me, obviously apart from the trip itself, as this is it…this is the commitment…the payment the confirmation…the realisation that you’re actually going…it doesn’t get much more exciting than that. So, make sure you enjoy it.

Ensure you’re paying at the best time, i.e. not too late for flights, or in some cases to early for accommodation, as they can often offer flash sales but this is hard to predict and can be a gamble. Check the fees associated with certain cards and that the card you are booking with will be with you during the trip as quite often they may want to see proof of the purchase card. 

  • PACKING AND CHECKING IN

We always take more than we need, which is understandable with today’s obvious effects of climate change, but if you have the room it doesn’t really matter, as long as your bag is the right weight and dimensions, the only downside is you carrying it all.  Depending on your activities make sure you have everything you need or can purchase/rent when there, which can save a lot of room and unnecessary weight, i.e. scuba diving equipment which is often included in the course or very cheap to borrow. Think through your itinerary as its usually the smallest things we forget that are essential, like plug adaptors, head torches, or bumbags (the small discrete type) – as not quite sure they’re back in fashion just yet.

Find out when you can check in online and try to get near a door to get off promptly, every person you walk past can save a significant amount of time at immigration. I like to think that every person I walk past saves me 5 mins, so apart from looking like one of those weird speed walkers, I’m out nice and quickly, getting to where I want to be.

Unnecessary fees for overweight bags or checking in without a boarding pass, such as www.ryanair.com charging £15 to print, which is ludicrous especially after you are already a paying customer, can be a horrible start to your trip, so make sure you have added your personal information online, checked in and printed all boarding passes.

  • DO IT

We’re almost there: research is going well, more than likely a continuous process; you have a few jabs in your arms; less money in the bank; a bag full of stuff you probably don’t need, and overweight; a barcode on your phone to check you in and a passport full of funny writing and awful pictures… now enjoy it, be safe, do everything you want to do as you don’t know when or if you’ll be back, and open your mind to new cultures, new experiences and new people…DO IT

 

 

Rat Race: Societal Pressure

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There are always moments in our life where we reflect on what it is we want to achieve, what our goals are and how we are we doing in terms of reaching them. There is nothing wrong with asking these questions from time to time but ensure that you write the answers down, and date it, so that you can check your progress. Depending on how you are doing with your goals, set some targets to achieve for the next check point, as it’s makes a big difference to physically see these accomplishments being achieved.

Whatever your goals are be true to yourself and don’t give way to what I call ‘societal pressure’. This is all around us constantly whether on TV, print or more importantly through friends and family, so very difficult to ignore, but don’t forget your goals, your passion and you purpose.

If you have no goals, its hard to find purpose and with no purpose, its hard to find passion!

We all like different things and want different things from our lives, whether it’s the career, the car, the helping hand, the volunteer, the worker, the cook, the actor, the actress, the star, the medic, the designer, the gardener, it’s an endless world of opportunities so don’t be afraid to set your goals high and get what you want from this journey.

I’ve spent many years in 9-5 rat race and see that churn of robots climbing the stairs, those senseless faces, ear phones diluting the world around them, and heads buried into gadgets, that stop us appreciating what is in front of us! How different would this world be if we all did what we loved? And why can’t we? 

We all know people that love and hate the same job so surely it’s right for some but not others? If you could put everyone in the job they loved, wouldn’t the world be a happier place? Everyone doing what they enjoy…a sea of smiles and an army of ants enjoying their role in this society.

I don’t understand economics, I never studies psychology, and I was pretty bad at maths, BUT I’m taking a calculated guess that there are enough people in this world to do the jobs that need to be done and enjoy them, whilst others complete the jobs that don’t need to be done but with passion. 

Find your purpose and follow it with passion!

“By investing in your travels…your travels will invest in you”

Hey Guys,

Sorry its taken longer than expected to get part 2 up, with working and setting up a business, I don’t find time to write as much as i’d like and always find it better when I have a clear mind…Flooglebinder, is going well and we have some exciting new programs this year including Tiger reserves in India, Elephant sanctuaries in Sri Lanka and trekking programs in Nepal, along with a re-brand, so check out the new site soon…currently have a holding site so you can see what we’re about: www.flooglebinder.co.uk

So back to the trip: following on from Shangahi we made our way to Beijing on a sleeper train, which was certainly an experience…no where near as bad as I thought, at least this one I could sit up without my head hitting the ceiling. However, the rattling carriage which kept us up all night wasn’t fun, especially when Rich hit it to stop rattling and it got ten times worse. It was at this point that you either laugh or cry and fortunately I chose to laugh, although I think Richie cried a little bit inside.

Beijing was really cool but we were very lucky as I had a friend that was living out there…we would have had a very different experience without him as he showed us places that we would never have visited, mainly restaurant orientated, which some of you may already know is very important to me ;0 I would highly recommend always reaching out to friends and acquaintances as you’ll be sure to find a few hidden gems as opposed to getting caught up in the tourist traps.

We spent a day on the Great Wall of China and then hit another sleeper train to Xian to see the Terracotta Army, which was amazing. Don’t get me wrong the Great Wall of China is very impressive, and we only saw a very small part of it, but I’ve always wanted to see the Terracotta Army, i’m not sure why or how I even heard of it as a kid, but always been on my list and i wasn’t disappointed.

You sometimes feel obliged to see certain things, whether artistic, cultural or historical, but I can often get a little bored on the ‘cultural days’ out. Most of the time its my ignorance or lack of knowledge and unless you have a guide or headset you don’t always know what you’re looking at, what the story is, or value its true meaning, so always good to invest time and money to do it properly, and fully appreciate the places you are visiting… in return you’ll have a far greater experience.

“Plan you trip, reach out to friends and do your research…by investing in your travels…your travels will invest in you”

p.s. Dont get caught up in the Jade factories that they try to include on every tour you go on..they’ll probably try and incorporate more than one as well.

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