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“Holy crap – this thing is freaking tiny!”– that was my first reaction when I opened up the new DJI Mavic Air for the first time!

The latest drone by the crew at DJI comes in an insanely tiny (and stunningly beautiful) design and packs some serious punch in the tech department.

Having spent the last week putting it through its paces on my latest adventure out in Byron Bay, Australia to see how it handles life on the road, here’s my run through review of the Mavic Air and whether it’s a contender for the best drone for travel…

“review of the Mavic Air and whether it’s a contender for the best drone for travel…” #MavicAir
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REVIEW: Is The DJI Mavic Air The Best Drone For Travel? Mavic Air – Main Specs

Meet The New Mavic Air

Ok for those looking at everything from a tech perspective here’s a quick lowdown of the main Mavic Air specifications so you can have a little geek out;

  • Weight – 430g
  • Dimensions folded – 168x83x49mm
  • Dimension unfolded – 168x184x64mm
  • Max speed – 28.8kph
  • Max speed (sport mode) – 68.4kph
  • Max flight time – 21mins
  • Max distance (phone only) – 80m
  • Max distance (controller) = 4km
  • Camera – 12mp (and 32mp sphere panoramas)

Max Video Resolution:

  • 4k = 30 frames per second
  • 2.7k = 60 frames per second
  • 1080 = 120 frames per second
  • 720 = 120 frames per second
Mavic Air – Small Drone With Big News

Despite being almost as small as your smartphone the Mavic Air is packed full of incredible tech and although some of this is already standard across the DJI drone range the Air did come with some significant new upgrades.

There’s A Lot Packed Into It!

To make things simple here are some of my top features and highlights so you can easily see whats’s new under the hood;

  • NEW Forward, down and now BACKWARD environmental sensors (very much appreciated!)
  • 3 axis gimbal (for super stable videos)
  • NEW HDR photos
  • NEW 8GB internal memory (and absolute saviour if you forget your SD card or run out of memory!)
  • NEW Foldable Controller (even the joysticks unscrew and slot away for a slimline fit)
  • NEW FlightAutonomy 2.0 (basically the obstacle avoidance on the Air is epic!)
  • Intelligent Flight Modes (such as active track, tap fly, tripod etc)
  • NEW Asteroid (an epic way to smoothly capture yourself in a scene)
  • NEW Boomerang (basically a fancy selfie mode which zooms right out into a mini planet style shot)
  • NEW 32MP sphere panorama (great for capture interstice, 360 images)
  • User Friendly (both the app and controller have the same easy to use DJI interface of the entire drone range)

It’s amazing that all of the above features come packed into a drone that weighs nearly half of the Mavic Pro and folds down into a size that’s actually smaller that the Spark!

“all of the above features come packed into a drone that weighs nearly half of the Mavic Pro”…
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What’s The Mavic Air Like To Fly?

Super Stable – Even With Wind!

One of my biggest concerns about the Mavic Air was how it was going to handle in the air given its size.

I’ve got used to flying the Pro which is incredibly stable and can handle a fair bit of wind without too many issues and stability was my biggest issue when reviewing the Spark – it just didn’t fly how I needed it to fly and it did feel less stable.

I shouldn’t have been worried though – the way the Air handles mirrors the Pro perfectly!

It’s responsive, stable and can handle the wind with ease – something I really put to the test whilst shooting the surf and the headland in Byron as there was a pretty hefty offshore wind!

In standard mode it does feel slightly sluggish with ascent and descent speeds (although admittedly I think I just have to tweak some of the settings to remedy this) but in regards to approaching video and images it’s a dream to fly.

The real fun though comes when you flick it into sports mode and the Mavic Air really comes into it’s own – this thing is fast, but still retains shooting stability – ideal for shooting tracking shots along the beach, keeping up with dive boats on the move or shooting surfing!

Basically if you’re used to flying the Mavic Pro or any of the Phantom series you’ll barely notice any change in flight style when using the Air.

“It’s responsive, stable and can handle the wind with ease” #MavicAir
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Well Worth The Cash For Shots Like This!

How Much Does Mavic Air Cost?

So how much does all the tech set you back?

Well admittedly yes, this isn’t going to be the cheapest item on your packing list, but you knew that already!

The Mavic Air starts at £769 ($799USD or $1299AUD) or the Mavic Air Fly More Combo is currently reduced to £949 ($999USD or $1599AUD) – which then includes a bunch of extras like 2 extra batteries (so 3 total), some extra propellers, carry bag (which is surprisingly compact and beautifully made!) and a battery charging hub.

And given the fact you’ll want at least 1 extra battery the fly more combo is certainly a wise investment – so I you do have the cash that’s what I’d personally recommend going for.

“The Mavic Air starts at £769 ($799USD or $1299AUD)”
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Mavic Air v Spark and Mavic Pro/Platinum

The Air Is Always In My Day Pack Now

When it comes to the best drone for travel there are now 3 main contenders to choose from in the DJI range – the Mavic Air, Mavic Pro/Plantinum (check out my full Mavic Pro review here) and the Spark (check out my full Spark review here).

When it comes to specs both the Air and the Pro blow the Spark clean out of the water, both shooting 4k and also having the 3 axis gimbal which ultimately results in much smoother and clearer footage.

And size wise folded up the Mavic Air is almost the same size as the Spark.

Basically unless you want the most affordable option the Spark is pretty much off the table. That being said as a first drone or for someone who wants the most affordable option (although admittedly the controller brings it to nearly yet same price as the Air) the Spark is still not going to let you down, but if you have the money to upgrade do it!

Picture Perfect Days In Byron Bay

So the real fight here is between the Mavic Air and the Mavic Pro/Platinum.

At £130 more expensive you’d think the Pro would win straight out. But in actual fact the Mavic Air matches (or beats!) the Pro/Platinum in almost every specification!

It’s faster, lighter, smaller and boasts the addition of backward sensors and more advanced object avoidance!

In fact the only two big things the Air doesn’t match up with is flight time (21mins v 27mins) and max distance (7km v 4km)

And for most people the flight distance isn’t something you’ll ever be that worried about!

So in simple terms;

Spark Advantages (v Mavic Air) – cheaper

Mavic Pro Advantages (v Mavic Air) – longer flight time, bigger max flight distance

“in actual fact the Mavic Air..

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Yeewwwww…. ‘Straya!

Backpacking in Australia and ultimately doing my working holiday visa in Australia is still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

In fact it basically started my long term travels and got me where I am today.

And I get emails everyday from people looking to do the same (which is why I put together my Ultimate Guide To Working & Travelling In Australia!) but there are definitely some key things I wish I’d known before travelling in Oz.

Some are pretty obvious in hindsight, some have been learnt from personal experience, but all will help you land in Australia a bit more prepared for life down under…

“doing my working holiday visa in Australia is still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made”
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10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Backpacking In Australia

Yup, it can rain in Australia too!

It DOES Get Cold

Despite what you might think, Australia does have a winter and yes it DOES get cold. Admittedly we’re not talking about the whole of Oz here when it comes to wrapping up in jumpers and jeans, but if you find yourself in Melbourne, Adelaide or even Sydney in July/August time you might well be needing some extras layers and a heater!

It Also Gets REALLY Hot

On the flip side of that you can get super caught out with how freaking hot Australia can get. January in Melbourne and it’s not uncommon to have the temperature hit low-mid 40 degrees.

You might be thinking “yaaaaaaay for the sun” but seriously that’s melting style hot and you won’t be leaving anywhere with A/C.

And with that in mind, also make sure you’re slapping on the suncream regularly, even when it’s overcast. Aussie sun is dangerous!

Make sure you have enough dollar!

Backpacking In Australia Is Pretty Pricey

If you’re busy bouncing around the globe, chances are that you’ll be passing through South East Asia on the way to Australia, where life is cheap and you can happily coast by on $20 a day.

Well you’re in for a big wake up call in Australia!

Gone are the days where the Aussie dollar had an awesome exchange rate (at one point it was $3AUD to £1GBP!) so you’ll need to make sure you’ve got the travel funds to cover you.

I did a full breakdown of how much to budget for a month in Australia – and all in you’re going to need about $109AUD/£68GBP a day – which EXCLUDES booze!

Don’t underestimate thesis of Oz!

It’s REALLY Big!

Australia is a HUGE country, so don’t go underestimating the distances between places and the travel times. The amount of people that email me about doing Sydney > Cairns in a week is crazy.

The main East Coast route is over 2,400km – so realistically you’re going to need a MINIMUM of 2 weeks to cover that and even then you’ll be rushing it quite a bit.

So do your research, download my Ultimate Australia Guide, check out my 4 week Australia itinerary or my East Coast Australia mini guide and make sure you’re prepared.

Or let me help you out with my East Coast Australia Planner!

It’s Not Quite As Dangerous As You Think

Yes we all know Australia is home to a million deadly snakes and spiders and that the ocean is full of sharks and that babies get eaten by dingos or you might get mauled by a dropbear.

But seriously, Oz isn’t as dangerous as you might think.

I’ve spent some serious time living and travelling all around Australia and I’ve seen 2 red back spiders, 4 snakes and 2 sharks (apart from the ones I’ve seen scuba diving!)

…and I’m still alive and unhurt.

In fact you’re more likely to injure yourself whilst drunk or get hideous sunburn – so like all things in life, be aware and be sensible and you’ll reduce the risk!

..and none of these guys are Aussie!

You’ll Meet More Backpackers Than Locals

If I was to do a rough count, I’d say I probably know about 20-30 true Aussies.

Most of them I actually met travelling OUTSIDE Australia!

The backpacker bubble in Oz means that you’ll probably end up meeting WAY more backpackers than locals in Oz – and most of those are going to be German!

Sure if you do some rural work out in the sticks you might meet some more Aussies, but don’t expect to nab that Aussie husband or wife that easily!

Love it or hate it, you’ll drink goon!

Goon Hangovers SUCK

Goon is cheap Aussie boxed wine and it tastes pretty gross. But when 4 litres of the stuff is about  a quarter of the price of a slab of beers, you’ll soon learn to love it for the sake of your travel budget!

And it’s one thing having to deal with drinking goon, but goon hangovers are the worst – so be prepared for some crazy dreams, days laying around in bed and stock yourself up with Berroca to help bring you back to life!

How Stunning The West Coast Is

Everyone goes on about the East Coast trail – it’s the most popular part of Australia to backpack and yes it is totally worth it.

What many people overlook though is the West Coast of Australia.

Sure it’s a bit more difficult and expensive to travel, but it’s absolutely stunning and spots like Ningaloo, Exmouth and Monkey Mia are places you’ll never forget visiting for all the right reasons.

So if you have the time and money make sure you go check it out

So many epic bucket list items!

That There’s SO Much To Do

One of the other reasons I highly recommend at least 4 weeks on the East Coast of Australia (along with the fact that it’s a long way to travel) is the fact there are just so many things to see and do. From learning to surf in Byron Bay, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, road tripping the Great Ocean Road, to doing a 4×4 tour around Fraser Island, sailing the Whitsunday Islands or snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef – you can easily fill a month with incredible experiences.

And that’s without bringing the rest off the country into the mix too!

How about shark cage diving in Port Lincoln? Maybe swimming with whale sharks in Exmouth? Or how about camping in the Red Centre and watching the sunrise over Uluru?

…That I’d Fall In Love With It

The biggest thing that I wish I’d known though, is how much of a lasting impression Australia would make on me and that no matter where in the world I’m travelling, a little piece of me is always longing to get back.

So if you have the chance to do a working holiday visa, or extend to do your second year, make sure you take advantage of all the time you can spend in Oz, it’s a pretty magical place.

Have been backpacking in Australia? Anything you wish you’d known before heading down under? Share them in the comments!

The post 10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Backpacking In Australia appeared first on Backpacker Banter.

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So what’s the best way to manage your money on the road?

The saying goes – “if travelling was free you’d never see me again” and as much as I love to help you guys with tips and advice on how to budget for your travels and how to save money on the road unfortunately travelling isn’t free and you do need some cash to make it a reality.

It sucks I know, but lets just accept that fact and move on!

One of the questions I get asked most is how do I manage my money whilst travelling?

How do I keep track of my spending as I travel and how do I deal with paying for stuff and withdrawing cash across all these different countries?

Up until recently I had been using the STA Cashcard. It has served me well, but I’m quick to admit it probably isn’t the most cost effective way of dealing with my money whilst backpacking, especially long term.

My American buddies seemed to be spoiled for choice with amazing travel credit card deals (don’t even get me started on the air miles they can quickly rack up!) but being from the UK gave me much more limited options.

And then at the end of 2017 I came across Starling bank, a new UK disruptor bank, which not only brought with it some huge leaps in user interfaces, but also some massive advantages when it came to spending my money abroad.

“how do I manage my money whilst travelling?”
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REVIEW: Starling Bank – The Best Way To Manage Money Whilst Travelling? Easy Setup, App Only Format

Super Easy To Setup!

First off one quick point – currently Starling is for UK residents only. So if you’re not from the UK, sorry this article isn’t going to be any help to you!

If however you are from the UK happy days!

Starling Bank is an app only bank – which means you’ll need to download the iOS or Android app to gain access to it. No website. Just the app.

It’s also incredibly easy to setup – and you’ll be up and running within about 10 minutes. Seriously it’s that easy and you could easily smash it out on your commute to work or lunch break, so no excuses!

Also it does ask you if you have a referral code when you set it up, be awesome and use mine which is WPT8V6ZT.

And full disclosure I don’t think this earns me any cash, in fact I’m not sure what it gets me, but use it anyway! haha!

Ok I know some of you are now going to be thinking “is this safe?” – well I did some research and Starling Bank is all fully regulated in the UK and is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) so your deposits are protected up to £85,000 – which is the same as most ‘traditional’ UK banks. So you can rest easy.

Once you’re all set up you’ll be given a virtual card which you can start using right away via Apple Pay and such like, but your physical card will arrive within a few days anyway.

“you’ll be up and running within about 10mins. Seriously it’s that easy” @starlingbank
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Your Money, Simplified

So User Friendly

I know I haven’t mentioned travelling with this card yet, but we’ll get there, so hold tight.

The other HUGE kudos I have for Starling is how user friendly this app is and the awesome features it has built in to help you manage your money both at home and abroad.

I usually bank with HSBC and I’ll be totally honest, their app totally SUCKS. It’s clunky, it’s ugly, it crashes. Considering the amount of money they’re making you would think they’d have the decency to bring someone in to give it a makeover and actually work! *rant over*

The best way I can describe the Starling app is if Apple did your banking, this is what it would look and feel like. It’s smooth, easy and designed to help you get what you need done quickly and easily.

“the awesome features it has built in to help you manage your money home and abroad”
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The home screen of the app contains two key pieces of information – the balance of your account and how much you’ve spent today.

Where Does Your Dollar Go?!

Two very important pieces of info and the basics of what most people need to know – whether you’re at home or off travelling!

From this home screen you can then delve into the super handy stats and info that banking with Starling allows you to track.

From the category of your spending – like travel, hotels, groceries, shopping, eating out – to the individual businesses you’re spending your cash at.

Starling tracks that and then gives you a handy overview of how much you’ve spent over the month and even as a percentage of your overall spending.

So if you’re a huge fan of 2am ham and cheese toasties at 7/11 in Thailand, you’ll quickly be able to see how much those midnight munchies are racking up a month!

Or how much of your hard earned cash you’re spending at Starbucks on coffee, or on flights.

If you suck at managing your day to day spending, this app is going to give you a huge reality check and allow you to easily see where your cash is going and where you might need to make some changes.

“If you suck at managing your day to day spending, this app is going to give you a huge reality…
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Amazing For Managing Your Money Abroad

The stats are just one of the reasons I absolutely love the Starling Banking app in general, but they’re also super useful for managing my money abroad too.

Zero Fees Abroad – Yeeewww!

But by far the biggest advantage of Starling is the fact they have zero fees abroad.

Yup zero, as in 0, nada, nothing.

They won’t charge you for taking out cash abroad (admittedly if the cash machine charges you’ll have to pay that, but that’s almost impossible to avoid) and using it to pay by card for things abroad is also fee free.

Compare that to the loading fee I had with my STA Cashcard or the set fees I had for withdrawing cash no matter how big or small the amount and those savings will quickly add up.

And not only that but you’ll get the live MasterCard exchange rates when spending abroad. Which basically means they aren’t ripping you off with a terrible exchange rate either. In fact I plugged some of my spending into currency conversion site XE.com (which I use a lot on the road, so download that app too!) and the Starling rate was exactly the same.

Happy days.

And as for tracking spending – the app will display your expenses in both local currency and GBP.

Winning.

There’s also some nifty other features that lend themselves well to life on the road too – like being able to block and unblock your own card (if you misplace it!) as well as notifications for payments, which means if someone clones your card you’ll instantly know about it.

And there’s a 24/7 live chat built right into the app too, so if you have any issues you won’t be on hold for hours!

“by far the biggest advantage of Starling is the fact they have zero fees abroad.” @starlingbank
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Saving For Travelling?

Keep Your Savings…Safe!

One of the other awesome features the Starling Bank has built into the app is the “Goals” section.

Simply put you can create as many savings pots as you want, instantly, within the app.

No more setting up new saver accounts to keep yourself from spending all your wages. You can set your goal amount and the app will calculate how close you are as a percentage.

Once you’ve moved your money into your goal, you can’t spend it via your card, so it’s safe from being used accidentally when you decide to get another round in at the bar!

However, if you do find yourself needing to dip into your savings pot you can quickly and easily transfer it back into your main account.

With this feature, it’s easy to create lots of little savings schemes for parts of your trip – especially if you’re planning a big around the world adventure.

Bookmark Your Money For Awesome Experiences!

Why not create a savings goal for your flights?

How about one for each country you’re visiting so you can track your spending even more?

Or why not create a separate savings goal for each of your big bucket list items like that skydive you’ve always wanted to do or your open water dive course?

It’s quick, easy and will allow you to keep a firm grip on managing your money whilst abroad.

And that’s ALWAYS a good thing!

“It’s quick, easy and will allow you to keep a firm grip on managing your money whilst abroad.”
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Am I Being Paid To Say All This Stuff?

Some of you are probably wondering if this is a big advertorial for Starling Bank or if they’re giving me some cash to recommend their banking services.

Well I can honestly say they’re not. In fact I don’t even know what that referral code will do either! haha!

After using Starling Bank for the last few months both back in the UK and with trips to Madeira and Morocco,I can safely say this is how I’m going to be managing my money abroad from now on.

It’s easy, convenient and most of all it’s going to save me money.

It does what every bank should do – it puts you firmly back in charge of your money and gives you easy access to the data you need to feel in control again.

And..

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The new year is here and it’s time to start planning another year of awesome adventures!If you’re looking for some of the top destination to travel in 2018 you’re in luck – I picked the brains of some of my fellow travel bloggers to bring you some quirky ideas for your next set of travel plans.

From specular beaches and off the beaten track spots to city breaks and surfing – here are 18 epic travel destinations for your 2018 bucket list!

18 Travel Destinations For Your 2018 Bucket List Astana, Kazakhstan by Patrick from German Backpacker

Astana

I visited northern Kazakhstan as a part of my Trans-Siberian Railway journey across Russia. My detour to Kazakhstan’s capital Astana was absolutely worth it, therefore you should consider this surreal city in your travel plans for 2018! I didn’t know a lot about Astana before visiting, but I certainly didn’t expect to find myself in such a futuristic and modern city.

Astana’s architecture is very unique – visit the beautiful presidential palace, get on top of the Bayterek tower for a great panorama, explore the Khan Shatyr shopping mall and marvel at the incredible Hazret Sultan Mosque and the surreal “Palace of Peace”-pyramid. If you don’t know a lot about Kazakhstan’s history and culture (like me), visit the National Museum for some insights.

Astana is still quite undiscovered for international tourists, and I didn’t see any other travelers while exploring the city. Therefore, you will have most of these beautiful spots all to yourself and locals are very friendly, helpful and open towards internationals. You certainly won’t regret your visit!

Nusa Penida by Tom from Travel Tom Tom

Nusa Penida

It took me more than 5 years to finally hop on a boat from Bali to Nusa Penida, but I am super happy I finally did last year. If you now ask me where to go in Bali I will send you on a boat to this magical island 45 minutes southeast of Bali.

The incredible coastline, spectacular viewpoints, high cliffs, amazing beaches and adventurous things to do made this island my secret travel tip for 2018. The best thing to do is rent a motorbike and tour around the island. This is the ultimate way to explore all the tourist spots in Nusa Penida.

Don’t miss Kelingking Beach, the dinosaur shaped beach and Angels Billabong in the South, chill out in the idyllic Crystal Bay and watch the sunrise at Atuh Beach. But my favorite place to go are the Blue Stairs at Peguyangan where you can spot manta rays from high above.

You can also go diving with these incredible sea creatures and if you are lucky you can even spot a Mola Mola. If you are looking for a cool island hopping adventure this is the best place to go in Indonesia.

Sea of Cortez, Mexico by Collette from Roamaroo

Sea Of Cortez

In this day and age, it’s difficult to find a travel destination that hasn’t been overtaken by Instagrammers or descended upon by throngs of tourists. The Sea of Cortez is the beautiful body of water located between Baja California and mainland Mexico. The sea has some of the richest underwater sea life in the entire world; so much so that Jacques Cousteau deemed the area, “The World’s Aquarium.”

While travelers must fly into the touristy town of Cabo San Lucas to visit this destination, a journey through the Sea of Cortez takes you away from cities and into a sea of sanctuary. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to a unique landscape with idyllic aqua waters surrounded by gargantuan red mountains. Days are spent exploring uninhabited islands with white-sand beaches, diving into the waters of Cabo Pulmo National Park, and swimming with whale sharks.
Vanuatu by Kate from Travel For Difference

Vanuatu

Amongst the many island nations that lie in the South Pacific, Vanuatu is one that is sadly not as popular.

Only 3 hours from the east coast of Australia, this beautiful tropical haven is one that many travellers should make a priority for 2018. Surrounded by picturesque beaches, luscious rainforests and breath-taking resorts, Vanuatu makes the perfect place for a little balmy escape.
Here, on this relatively small island, you’ll never run out of activities to do; water sports, blue lagoon swims, rainforest ziplining, waterfall visits and snorkelling… Just to name a few.

For those that want to enjoy a tropical oasis without costing the bank, Vanuatu truly is your one-stop shop! Here, you can adventure into breathtaking natural beauty for the day, before heading back to a beachfront villa in the evening to relax. There’s nothing quite watching the sunset from your private oceanfront room after a day of total adventure, right?

No matter what you desire on your holiday, Vanuatu is a country that simply has it all!

Aswan, Egypt by Shelly from Finding Beyond

Aswan

Situated in the South East of Egypt on the majestic Nile River, Aswan gets less attention than other Egyptian cities such as Cairo and Luxor, but this is a good thing. Fewer tourists mean fewer crowds, less hassle on the streets and more of a relaxing Egyptian experience. Aswan could be considered laid back when compared to the cities in the North.

Aswan has its fair share of ancient temples and tombs to explore, including the impressive Abu Simbel (a day trip) and the Tombs of the Nobles, but for us, the highlight of Aswan is its location on the most beautiful part of the Nile River. Watch the sunset while floating on board a felucca, explore Elephantine Island, have lunch at the riverside Old Cataract Hotel or hike up one of the nearby towering sand dunes for amazing views of the city on the shimmering Nile. Aswan is also steeped in Nubian history and offers real Nubian villages to stay in for the most authentic Egyptian accommodation.

San Sebastian by Tom of The Travelling Tom

San Sebastian

San Sebastian may be one of the lesser known destinations in Spain, but it’s one you should definitely visit!

Despite its small size, there are plenty of things to do in the city. You can relax on La Concha beach and enjoy the stunning views of the Biscay Bay. You can hike up Monte Igeldo and be rewarded with an incredible view of the city and mountains. You can also go surfing at Playa Zurriola, minutes from the ciy centre, if you wish. There’s just so much to do!

As well as all these activities, San Sebastian is famous for its culinary scene. There are a number of Michelin starred restaurants in the city. If you want something a bit cheaper, head into any bar in town and tuck into the pintxos, a Basque deliciacy!

San Sebastian isn’t the first place people think of when they head to Spain, but it’s one you should definitely check out!

Sarajevo by Jub at Tiki Touring Kiwi

Sarajevo

Sarajevo isn’t a destination on every bucket list yet but does offer something for everyone. Surrounded by nature, you can make day trips to waterfalls, abandoned Olympic sites, the green pyramids, and even Mostar. The city itself is filled with history and after taking a free walking tour, you can’t help but admire the..

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If you’re planning a trip to the Maldives on a budget then the chances are you’ve already read my posts on how much does the Maldives cost to travel which covers everything from boat transfers to accommodation and activities.

But travelling the Maldives on a budget means you need to be aware of the local cultures, rules and a few other things that will not only make sure you’re respectful of the country you’re exploring, but also means you’ll have a much better time!

If you plan on kicking back in the Maldives at a 5* resort like Anantara generally speaking you won’t need to worry too much – however if you’re heading to local islands like Fulidhoo or Thulusdhoo then there are some handy thing you’ll need to know before travelling around the Maldives….

Helpful Tips And Advice For Travelling In The Maldives On A Budget The Maldives Is A Strict Muslim Country

The Maldives is under “common law/sharia law” which means all the locals are Muslim – this also mean that the entire country fasts during daylight hours during Ramadan, something I found out about the hard way!

Ramadan changes every year (so do your research!) and lasts 30 days – if you’re travelling outside of the resort island during this time don’t expect to find ANY restaurants open during the day and avoid eating in public too. I totally overlooked this fact when I was planning my trip and although it wasn’t the worst thing to ever happen it did mean I couldnt eat out and enjoy the local food as much!

The Muslim weekend is also slightly different – Friday and Saturday – with Friday being the main day of rest. So shops, restaurants and most importantly ferries wont be an option.

With the Muslim faith also comes a ban on alcohol. So if you’re travelling to local island you can forget that cocktail on the beach vision you have – you cant even bring it in with you as you have to sign a waiver at the airport saying you don’t have anything!

I feel it’s also important to point out here that “Sharia Law” and “Muslim Country” shouldn’t be fast track words to anything scary, especially for those of you read any mainstream media.

The Maldives is both safe and more important enjoyable to travel and there are plenty of solo female travellers here too.

On Local Island Make Sure You Cover Up And Be Respectful

Dress Code In The Maldives

So is there a dress code in the Maldives? Well yes!

Ladies, keep it covered up including shoulders and nothing above the knees, a sarong is a great investment to achieve this without overheating!

Guys, you need to be respectful too so no wandering around in just your boardies!

This also applies to swimming too so ladies a rashest and boardies might be a wise investment if you plan on swimming.

…if you’re heading to any kind of resort though the above doesn’t apply and it’s a bit of a free for all!

Stick To The Tourist Beaches For Swimming

Tourist Beaches?

Alongside the dress code the Maldives has also introduced tourist beaches – specific sections of beach for foreigners wanting to top up their tan a bit and laze on the sand. These are portioned off with fences and are kept pretty tidy too.

Even though these are slightly more relaxed dress code wise ladies should cover up if you want to avoid any unwanted attention, but you shouldn’t have any worries going for a swim in a bikini here or posing for your Instagram shots!

The Weather In The Maldives

The chances are that if you’re planning a trip to the Maldives you want stunning beaches, blue skies and palm trees, so figuring out the best time of year to visit the Maldives for the best weather is pretty crucial!

Bring On The Sunshine!

So what are the seasons in the Maldives?

  • High/Dry Season = December > April
  • Low/Wet Season = May > October

Just keep in mind that wet/dry season aren’t as clear cut now due to climate change so obviously sunshine isn’t 100% guaranteed!

Also if you’re planning on travelling the Maldives on a budget keep in mind that low season prices are also cheaper as you’re making the trade off for the weather and you can get some epic hotel/guesthouse deal during this period.

For those looking for the best of both worlds November is the main shoulder season so you’ll have a good balance of weather and price.

What To Pack For The Maldives

It’s pretty easy to pack light for a trip to the Maldives – especially if you just plan on lazing on beaches and snorkelling on the coral reefs!

However there are a few things I’d recommend bringing along with you as items such as suncream are pretty pricey on the ground in the Maldives.

  • Sarong
  • Board shorts and rash vest
  • Loose cotton clothing
  • Swimwear
  • A sunhat
  • Sunglasses
  • High factor sun lotion (go up a factor!)
  • After sun lotion (you’ll still need it anyway!)
  • Mosquito repellent
  • If you wear glasses, consider a prescription snorkel mask.
  • If you’re travelling during low season, a very light rain jacket (one that can be packed small) might be worth considering.

So Much Good Food!

Food In The Maldives

Maldivian food is very fish and rice based and if you’re heading to local island be prepared for a lack of variety in your meals! If like me you’re vegetarian or don’t eat fish you may well need to pre order meals at local restaurants/guest houses.

That being said you can get some super tasty food and there’s also plenty of Sri Lankan influence in some of the meals – so if you enjoy a good curry or dhal happy days indeed!

Visas For The Maldives

One of the great things about travelling to the Maldives is that for myself (British Passport) visas are done on arrival and best of all FREE! Sometimes you’ll need to have proof of onward travel before you can board your flight, but that’s no big deal.

In fact for a lot of countries tourist visas for Maldives are free on done on arrival – but as with all visas this varies from country to country so double check before you book your trip!

Please note this was correct at the time of writing and make sure you double check current visa regulations before travelling

Mobile SIM and Data

Share Your Insta Shots Even Faster!

You’d think that being on a bunch of remote island would mean you’d be totally cut off from the world, well I was pleasantly surprised to discover that not only is mobile data pretty cheap in the Maldives, it’s also super reliable too!

So you can easily Instagram your slice of paradise and make everyone jealous!

…very handy for a digital nomad like myself, but maybe not so much if you want to disconnect from the outside world and relax!

You can grab a local SIM card and pre load it with data just outside the arrival hall at the airport (come out and take a right). I picked up one from DhiMobile and got 14 days with 15GB of mobile data for $32

Many guesthouses and resorts have wifi though, but if you need to stay connected its best to grab one before you leave Male, as you’ll have a much faster and reliable connection.

If you’re heading to the Maldives these posts should help you out too…

Have you travelled the Maldives on a budget? Any handy hints or tips you’d like to share?

The post Helpful Tips And Advice For Travelling In The Maldives On A Budget appeared first on Backpacker Banter.

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Most people think that the Maldives is a pretty expensive place to explore, with a hefty price. But over the last few years tourism in the Maldives has evolved and it’s now possible to travel the Maldives on a budget too – great news for anyone who had this island paradise on their bucket list!

The easiest way to explore the Maldives on a budget is to head to the local islands – with spots like Fulidhoo becoming increasingly popular.

One of my favourite local island though Thulusdhoo in the Kaafu Atoll and it was the first place I actually headed to on my first Maldives trip as it’s one of the most popular surf islands in the Maldives.

So if you surf, love the ocean or simply want to kick back on a stunning Maldives island Thulusdhoo is certainly somewhere you should consider!

I roped in my local buddy Ni who lives in Thulusdhoo to help me put together the complete guide to Thulusdhoo island, with some epic insider knowledge and fact checking so you can start planning your trip here…

“if you surf, love the ocean or simply want to kick back on a stunning Maldives island Thulusdhoo…
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Thulusdhoo Island – A Complete Guide How To Get To Thulusdhoo

First off you’re going to need to know how to get to Thulusdhoo. Now this might change if you’re island hopping or staying at another resort beforehand, but the simplest and most common option is from Male.

You can easily get to Male from the airport, the local ferry leaves every 10mins and costs about $1USD.

From here the cheapest way of getting to Thulusdhoo is the local ferry from Male which takes 85 mins at a cost of only $3USD. These now depart from Male every day, however the times vary slightly.

  • Local Ferry (85 mins) departs Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday @ 3:30pm
  • Slow Ferry (120mins) departs Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday @ 2:30pm
  • Friday @ 10:30pm

Or if you want to get there a bit quicker there’s the 25 minute speedboat ferries which cost $30USD and run multiple times daily – there are a few providers for this so if you’re staying on Thulusdhoo most guest houses and hotels can arrange the best times for you.

“the cheapest way of getting to Thulusdhoo is the local ferry from Male”
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Where To Stay On Thulusdhoo

Thulusdhoo is pretty geared up for a variety of budgets and unlike islands such as Fulidhoo there is a pretty solid range of accommodation to choose from.

Thulusdhoo – One Of My Favourite Local Islands

If you’re heading there for waves there are a a few surf camp options, for those wanting more luxury there’s a couple mid range hotels and those who want a more local experiences have plenty of guesthouses and even homestays.

Luckily pretty much everyone is switched on enough to be able to booking online – so check out some of my favourites and click the links to find out more and book!


Booking.com

“Thulusdhoo is pretty geared up for a variety of budgets”
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Surf Spots On/Around Thulusdhoo

When everyone thinks of the Maldives they usually envision tranquil lagoons and calm seas – which in a lot of areas is true – but the Maldives is also home to some absolutely world class surf too!

And one of the most famous breaks – Cokes – is right off the corner of Thulusdhoo Island, which means that this little slice of paradise is the perfect spot for surfers, especially those wanting to experience the Maldives on a budget!

And if you’re heading this way for waves here are some of the top breaks in the area;

Cokes Is The Most Famous Spot In The Region

Cokes – Cokes is by far the most famous break in the area and is part of the island itself – accessible by a short walk over the iconic bridge (although be careful on it, it’s not the most structurally sound!) and a short paddle out.

This fast, right hand reef break serves up some amazing rides and can handle some solid swell – with some epic barrel sessions for the experienced surfer.

Due to the shallow reef, heavy swell and powerful sweep it’s only suitable for intermediate and advanced surfers.

Chickens – a short boat trip across the channel from Thulusdhoo Chickens is a pretty awesome left hand break for long boarders and more novice surfers on a smaller swell.

But don’t be too fooled, it can handle a solid swell too and produce some amazing rides!

Ninjas – a slightly more mellow break (also referred to as Piddlies) Ninjas is one of the more beginner friendly and longboard friendly waves in the area and is best surfed at 4 foot and under and breaks much slower than most of the waves in the area. Perfect for learning and cruising!

Sultans – for those who want something a bit bigger and challenging this is the spot and it’s certainly not one for beginners or low end intermediates! Handling some solid size get prepared for some awesome tube rides.

Breaking anywhere from 4 foot up it really starts to come into its own at 8 foot plus, however with this sizeable perfection often come the crowds and it’s a favourite with surf charter boats in the area too.

Surfing In The Maldives At Cokes Surf Spot, Thulusdhoo (Drone Edit) - YouTube

” the Maldives is also home to some absolutely world class surf too!”
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Things To Do On Thulusdhoo (That Aren’t Surfing!)

Yup, it’s not just about the waves on Thulusdhoo, so even if you’re not a surfer you can keep yourself busy. Or if you have a partner that doesn’t surf you know they wont be complaining too much whilst you get your fill of waves!

Head Off And Explore Some Other Reefs Too

Tourist Beach – the islands tourist beach is the perfect place to top up your tan and the only bit of sand where you can get away with bikinis and boardies only. It’s something the local Maldivian Islands have implemented to appease both the religious aspect of the country, but also the demands of tourism.

The lagoon here is also a great place for a snorkel and keep an eye out for all the hermit crabs scurrying around the shoreline!

Dolphin Watching – there are heaps of dolphins in the waters around the island (they can often be spotted from the surf) so if you want to get up close to them a few agencies on the island offer dolphin watching trips. They’re not guaranteed though, but its a fun way to spend a morning on the ocean.

Snorkelling Day Trip – if the surf is pumping then the reefs around the island can be a bit choppy for snorkelling so jump on a day trip and head out to some of the calmer snorkel spots in the surrounding area. Definitely one everyone should do.

Surf Lesson – ok ok, so this is technically surfing, but more for those who haven’t tried it before! The inside lagoon at Cokes is a fun spot to give it a try so go get your stoke on!

Stand Up Paddle Boarding – if the ocean is flat this is an awesome option, for fitness freaks it’s an epic core workout, for the rest of us it’s a nice tranquil way to explore the water and spot the baby sharks!

Scuba Diving – although not as famed for it’s scuba diving as other local islands there are still plenty of dive sites surrounding Thulusdhoo. So if that’s your thing get amongst it and see what lies beneath the surface too.

How Much To Budget For Thulusdhoo

So how much should you budget for your stay on Thulusdhoo?

Well obviously your biggest cost is going to be accommodation (which ranges form $50USD a night up) but this really depends on where you end up booking.

So aside from that here are some of the main costs you’ll need to take into account for Thulusdhoo;

  • Local ferry from Male – $3
  • Speed boat from Male – $30
  • Budget guest house – $40
  • Mid range hotel – $60-100
  • Local style meal – $5
  • Western style meal – $10
  • Surfboard hire – $35
  • Surf lesson – $75
  • Scuba diving (certified, 2 tank dive) – $146
  • Scuba diving (introductory scuba dive) – $132
  • Dolphin watching trip – $25
  • Snorkelling day trip – $20-30
  • Sandbank Trip – $35
  • Fishing trip – $35
When To Go To Thulusdhoo And How Long To Stay

The best time of year to visit Thulusdhoo is really going to depend on your reason for heading this way.

Are You Here For Waves Or Relaxation?!

Basically are you going to Thulusdhoo to surf, or because you want to visit a local Maldives island? Answering that could well change when you want to book your trip…

Surf season = March to October

Peak surf season = June to August

Best Season for weather = January to March

With eh above in mind, if you want to get the best of both worlds March is the optimal time, but be aware that the surf season doesn’t run to a schedule, so you may well turn up and find it flat – or pumping.

But if you’re planning a surf trip you already knew that!

With an average monthly temperature of 28 degrees you’re not going to go too wrong whatever time of year you head to Thulusdhoo.

One thing I would keep in mind though is double check the dates for Ramadan (the Muslim fasting holiday) as all the local restaurants will be shut during daylight hours. You can still hit up the grocery stores and buy supplies to cook yourself, but it’s something to consider.

And as for how long to stay…I guess that depends on the swell!

If you’re not surfing though 4 days to a week is a good chunk of time before heading off to another local island.

“Peak surf season on Thulusdhoo is June to August, but the best weather is January to March”
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Have you hit up Thulusdhoo for surfing or simply exploring? Any tips, costs or advice you’d like to share?

The post Thulusdhoo Island – A Complete Guide To The Maldives Surfing Paradise appeared first on Backpacker Banter.

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The Maldives is renowned for it’s incredible resorts – with postcard perfect beaches, overwater bungalows and indulgent escapes.

And having explored the Maldives on a budget I also decided to sample what a luxury Maldives escape had to offer and headed to Anantara Dhigu.

Situated just a 35 minutes speedboat transfer from Male Airport in the Kaafu Atoll the stunning resort of Anantara is everything you’d expect from a 5* island resort in the Maldives – with sun, sand and good times all round!

“I also decided to sample what a luxury Maldives escape had to offer and headed to Anantara Dhigu”
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Anantara Dhigu Maldives – The Perfect Island Retreat One Resort, 3 Islands

Anantara is actually comprised of 3 island within the same lagoon – Anantara Dhigu, Anantara Veli and Naladhu Private Island.

Anantara Dhigu – Island Paradise!

I stayed at Anantara Dhigu – which the family or younger couples island in one of the Beachfront Villas.

With a huge bed and a sandy path that lead straight down to the ocean it was a stunning area to unwind and fall asleep to the sound of the ocean – although admittedly I didn’t spend much time in there as I was out enjoying the sunshine and ocean!

The room came kitted out with all the amenities you’d expect from a resort of this calibre – A/C, mini bar, coffee machine, TV and in-house dining if you required it.

Honestly through the bathroom of the room was even more of a draw than the room – and about the same size!

Bliss

There was a huge outdoor bath (more than big enough for two people to chill out with a bottle of champagne…not that that happened at all!) and an outdoor waterfall shower too where you could rinse off after a dip in the ocean beneath the palm trees listening to the local birds.

And of course if you wanted to upgrade your stay  you could splash out and go for the overwater bungalow options – which sit at the end of the island overlooking the lagoon, with school of fish and baby sharks cruising just below your balcony – perfectly cliched but beautiful!

“Anantara is actually comprised of 3 island within the same lagoon”
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All About The Ocean

The Ocean Hammock Is A Must!

As with pretty much every Maldives resort Anantara is all about the ocean – with huge stretches of beach to relax and top you tan up on alongside a variety of ocean based activities too.

Grab a kayaking (there’s a couple off totally clear, glass ones which you should try at least once!) snorkel or stand up paddle board and explore the lagoon which is teeming with fish, rays and some baby sharks too.

For those who want to get really amongst the marine life Anantara has an in house dive centre (Aquafanatics Dive Centre) which caters for all levels of diver. Whether you’re looking to give scuba diving a try for the first time or you’re an experienced diver there are plenty of dive sites around the resort to keep you busy.

Glass Kayak Anyone?!

Drift dives amongst huge schools of fish being hunted be trevally to coral bombies teeming with macro lift.

Or if you’d prefer a little bit more adrenaline with your salt water why not hit the waves and go surfing? Anantara is one of the Maldives bases for Tropic Surf and their team of salt water gurus will happily get you up and riding at the resorts private surf break!

Again – from beginners to advanced – no matter what your level of surfing this break will leave you with a huge smile on your face and rides you’ll be chatting about over beers into the night.

“As with pretty much every Maldives resort Anantara is all about the ocean”
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Dine Out In Style

The fact that Anantara is made of of 3 islands makes dinning out here and experience in itself and with 6 restaurants to choose from you’re pretty covered – from Italian to Japanese!

Quick word of warning though – you’ll need to pre book a table at least 24 hours in advance to avoid having to eat super late or choose another place to dine!

My favourite part of this setup though is the fact you’ll need to get one of the inter island boats to your restaurant – cruising through the lagoon at night is pretty beautiful and the lights underneath them attract lots of marine life – so keep and eye out for hunting stingrays and sharks en route to your meal!

There are also two main bars within the islands – the Aqua bar caters for all guests and is great for a place to grab a cold beer during the day, but if you’re looking for something a bit more chilled and classy the Dhoni is an adults only area and ideal for a sunset drink.

Both have stunning ocean views, amazing cocktails and chilled vibes – plus some really tasty bar snacks too!

“with 6 restaurants to choose from you’re pretty covered – from Italian to Japanese!”
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Relax and Pamper Yourself

The Perfect Place To Indulge!

And of course if you’re on holiday the chances are your gain to want to indulge yourself – you are on island time after all!

So make sure you pay a visit to the beautiful overwater spa that Dhigu has to offer.

Their massage rooms even have glass panels in the floor so you can watch the fish swim below you as you get your back massage!

Or if you fancy something a bit more al fresco how about a treatment in the outdoor area – where the sound and breeze of the ocean will kickstart your relaxation.

As you might expect there are a variety of treatments to choose from so whether you want a manicure or a couples massage there’s more than a few excuses to treat yourself.

“make sure you pay a visit to the beautiful overwater spa that Dhigu has to offer”
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Anantara Dhigu – The Cost

Why Not Splash Out On An Overwater Bungalow?

So how much will all the luxury set you back?

Well Anantara is one of the more high end Maldives resorts and a double Beach Bungalow starts at around $515 per night.

Or for those looking to splash and tick and overwater bungalow off your bucket list expect to pay around $1035 per night for the pleasure.

With this price tag comes all the little extras that are going to make your stay in the Maldives even more special – from an A/C lounge in Male Airport (seriously, you’re going to appreciated that!) to cold towels on the transfer boat and staff who will remember your name within hours of arrival.

…they’ll even wave you off as you say goodbye!

And if you really want to go ALL out you could stay at the Naladhu Private Island which is the most luxurious option of the 3 – but this will set you back $1500 a night min, but your room will come with its own private butler and you could well be rubbing shoulders with celebs like Cristiano Ronaldo who often holiday there!

Check out the latest rates and availability for all 3 here.

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Drones are fast becoming the next big travel accessory – with aerial pics and video creating a serious case of wanderlust all over your Instagram feed!

And the new DJI Spark looks like a serious contender for anyone looking to find the best drone for travel – compact, powerful and surprisingly affordable..it seems to tick all the boxes.

I spent the a few weeks in Thailand and the Maldives putting the DJI Spark through its paces on the road – from kayak trips and island hopping to dive boats.

So if you’re trying to decide on the best drone for travel here’s my hands on review of the DJI Spark – including a comparison to the Mavic Pro

DJI Spark Review – The Best Drone For Travel? (Inc Spark v Mavic Pro) Portability

How Tiny Is The Spark?!

The first thing that totally blew me away when unboxing the DJI Spark was how freaking tiny the whole thing is. Seriously my iPhone 7S is bigger than this drone and it only weighs 300g!

It even makes the Mavic Pro look like a beast – the whole thing is actually about the same size as a Mavic Pro battery!

So yeah when it comes to portability even when in a case the DJI Spark is amazing on space – which is obviously a huge factor when deciding on the best drone for travel.

There are obviously some trade offs with the small size of the Spark though – most notably the fact the battery life is about 15 minutes. Now 15 mins is still great all things considered, but it does mean you need to be a bit more on the ball about what you want to shoot and I’d certainly recommend investing in at least 1 if not 2 spare batteries for it.

“The first thing that totally blew me away when unboxing the DJI Spark was how freaking tiny the…
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Remote v Smartphone

Alongside portability is the fact the DJI Spark is designed to be used straight off the bat with your smartphone.

For the average traveller the range of 8m high and 30m radius is going to be ample room to create some awesome videos and photos – however this will be a big limitation for those more serious about their drone work.

However there is a solution and the Spark Remote increases this range massively to 500m high and a 2km radius – heaps of creative freedom and more than enough for most people.

Personally I’m not a huge fan of flying it smartphone only as the responsiveness and control of the remote is much more suited for getting solid footage, so if that’s the main reason you’re grabbing a drone it’s worth seriously considering the remote too.

“Personally I’m not a huge fan of flying it smartphone only”
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Setup Time

With the smartphone as a controller you can get the Spark up in the air super fast – in fact I’d go to say it’s even quicker to setup and fly that the Mavic Pro. So if you’re flying this way happy days!

The Spark Remote Is Much Better For Flying – But Not Setup Time

If however you’re using the remote you might find everything a bit slower the get going and this is my biggest issue with the DJI Spark.

Unlike the Mavic Pro remote which plugs directly into your smartphone and then connects with the drone the Spark uses a different interface (I wont bore you with the geeky details but basically it allows the Spark to be smaller and cheaper) and you have to connect your smartphone to the remote via wifi and then connect the remote to the Spark.

And I’ve found there to be a lot of issue with this process and I’ve had to reset the remote and the pairing on more than one occasion to get everything to work smoothly, or my phone simply isn’t picking up the wifi signal from the remote.

This has meant on a few occasions I’ve simply given up with the Spark and setup the Mavic which I was also luckily barring with me too.

Obviously this is not ideal – especially if you’re either not super tech savvy to get everything fixed quickly or are shooting with a tight time constraint, which is usually the case when travelling.

“With the smartphone as a controller you can get the Spark up in the air super fast”
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Intelligent Flight Modes

Even though the DJI Spark is packed into a small size it doesn’t sacrifice the awesome range of intelligent flight modes which make DJI drones so easy to fly and produce amazing footage with.

The Video And Photo Quality Of The Spark Is Spot On

In fact the DJI Spark even has some extra intelligent modes that its big brothers the Mavic Pro and Phantom don’t have yet!

Rocket – flying straight up with the subject directly below

Circle – simply circle around whilst focused on a single subject. With this you can easily set the speed and distance from the subject

Dronie – flying backwards and upwards whilst focusing on the subject

Helix – spiral up in an increasingly large circle whilst focusing on the subject below

Palm control and landing – palm landing was one of the biggest things I was excited about as it gives the Spark a huge advantage on flying in confined spaces or on boats/beach which I tend to do a lot of. It’s kinda scary at first but you soon adapt to it!

It also boasts other gesture controls and tap fly but honestly I haven’t found the need to play around with them too much.

“it doesn’t sacrifice the awesome range of intelligent flight modes”
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User Friendly

And alongside these intelligent flight modes is the fact the DJI Spark boasts much the same user friendliness the rest of the DJI range have – which is ultimately one of the reasons they’re so popular as drones.

The interface on your smartphone has pretty much all the same details and controls – although with the more limited range of shoot modes comes a slight trim back on the creative control you have access to, something you need to keep in mind when deciding if the Spark is right for you.

Overall from ease of use there’s nothing much I can fault (except the whole controller connection thing) and the drone is super simple to fly. For newbies you’ll find it super easy to pick up and you’ll be flying in no time.

For those seasoned drone pilots there’s nothing you really need to tweak and you’ll quickly discover that the Spark is super fun to fly…and despite its size it’s incredibly stable in the air.

“the DJI Spark boasts much the same user friendliness the rest of the DJI range have”
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And The Cost?

One of the huge plus points for the DJI Spark is the fact it’s so budget friendly – with the drone only option coming in at just £519, or the Fly More Combo (which includes the remote, case, spare battery and extras) for £699

Compare that to £1099 for the Mavic Pro or £1359 for the Mavic Pro Fly More Combo and it looks even more budget friendly!

This price point still sets it out from a toy drone – but if you’re looking at the Spark the chances are you aren’t in the market for something like that anyway.

For anyone considering their first drone this is the perfect place to start and it can easily justify that price tag.

“One of the huge plus points for the DJI Spark is the fact it’s so budget friendly”
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Spark v The Mavic Pro

After giving the Mavic Pro such an amazing review as the best drone for travel this is going to be the main other option people will be comparing the DJI Spark with when deciding on what drone to buy – so which should you buy?

The Spark Makes Even The Mavic Looks BIG!

DJI Spark Advantages
  • Much more compact
  • Way more budget friendly
  • Perfect first drone
  • Palm landing and intelligent flight modes
DJI Mavic Pro Advantages
  • Bigger range of creative controls
  • Higher video and image spec
  • Quicker Setup (with remote)
  • 3 axis gimbal (v Spark 2 axis) = smoother footage
  • Longer battery life (25mins v 15mins)
So Is The DJI Spark The Best Drone For Travel?

All things considered is the DJI Spark the best drone for travel and should you buy it?

Well hopefully these quick fire questions will help you decide!

If money is no objectbuy the Mavic Pro

If you want the best option for creating video on the road and creativityget the Mavic Pro (or even Phantom 4)

Looking for your first droneget the DJI Spark

Want to capture some easy aerial photos and video on your travelsget the DJI Spark

Want to customise your drone with some colourgrab the DJI Spark

Personally I Still Prefer The Mavic Pro

Ultimately the Mavic Pro (despite the added size) is still going to be my preferred drone for travel – mainly because of the fact I want the higher video and imaging spec but also because I like the way it handles a bit more along with the fact in my personal experience it’s much more reliable with setup time.

If you’re investing in your first drone for your travel though the DJI Spark packs some serious punch and is going to be the perfect way to get int drone photography and video though – so for more people it’s going to be more than enough to boost their Instagram game!

Do you travel with the Spark or the Mavic Pro? How do you find it?
DJI Spark Review - The Best Drone For Travel? (Inc Spark v Mavic Pro)
Portability
Features
Specs
Usability
Pros
  • Insanely small
  • Low price point
  • Great first drone
Cons
  • Remote setup time
  • Only 1080 video
2017-12-01
4.7Overall Score

The post DJI Spark Review – The Best Drone For Travel? (Inc Spark v Mavic Pro) appeared first on

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It might be because I’m getting a bit older, or maybe a bit more refined – but I’ve started getting a taste for a good wine tour on my travels!

From South Africa to Australia – there are many destinations. across the world where you can mix adventure with a good bit of sophisticated culture!

Admittedly I have no clue what I’m talking about when it comes to wine (I’m learning…slowly!) so I thought I’d enlist the seasoned skills of Suzanne from Tastes Of The Hunter Wine Tours to help you guys make the most of your next wine tour…

Wine Tasting Faux Pas – 4 Etiquette Tips To Get The Best From Your Tasting

Bring On The Wine!

Having attended and organised many wine tastings I’ve certainly seen some extraordinary guest approaches from those who pretend to be wine connoisseurs to those who have no idea what the spittoon is for!

If you are relatively new to wine tasting (but don’t want to miss out on all the fun!) you may not realise that some behaviours that seem completely innocent to you are actually a big no-no.

As a neutral insider to the whole process, I can certainly vouch for the fact that cellar door staff listen carefully to the group “banter” and are quite good at making judgements as to whether they should pour more generous portions or offer the group a taste of premium or aged vintages that are not normally on the tasting list.

It is certainly in your best interests to give the “right” signals to the presenter that indicate you are interested in the tasting and the wines being presented.

You don’t have to be a wine expert or a trainee James Halliday.

Let’s take a look at some things not to do when you are enjoying a group presentation at a cellar door….

Don’t wear excessive amounts of make-up or perfume

This one is as much for your own enjoyment as the pleasure of others around you. As any woman knows it is inevitable that some of your lippy will make it into your mouth as well as on your wine glass.

Other than your lip line looking unsightly on the rim of your glass, your lipstick is also interfering with your perception of the flavours of the wine.

Keep in mind also that our sense of smell plays a huge part when it comes to the enjoyment of wine.

There is little point unlocking the additional scents of the gorgeous looking portion before you by swirling vigorously if your perception of it is going to be masked by the strong perfume you are wearing.

And the person sitting next to you won’t thank you either!

As many private group wine tastings can be conducted in quite enclosed spaces such as the barrel room or an underground cellar it is particularly important to consider the enjoyment of others and refrain from strong perfumes.

Don’t leave the tasting half way through in order to smoke

You would think “surely no-one would do this?” however the number of times I have seen up to a third of the table get up and leave to stand a few metres away and puff on a cigarette, still astounds me!

You may be at your wit’s end waiting for an opportunity to smoke but if you do this it sends a clear message to the cellar door staff that you are not interested in finding a quality wine to purchase and for many boutique cellar doors who “live and die” by their sales, you are sounding the death of your own tasting experience. And place yourself in the shoes of the presenter… how would you feel?

Don’t forget that when you return to the table you will smell quite strongly of cigarettes, which again affects the olfactory senses of everyone around you.

Not to mention smoking is like letting off a nuclear bomb inside your mouth as far as allowing your palate to pick up on all the subtle flavours that a boutique wine has to offer.

Don’t forget to use a system to keep track of the wines you liked

For the purposes of easy cleaning, many cellar doors will place laminated tasting lists infront of their guests which can quickly be wiped with a damp cloth if they should fall victim to any wine related “accidents”.

However they are no good for keeping track of which wines you liked the best during the tasting.

Almost all cellar doors will be able to supply you with a pen/pencil and a paper tasting list if you request one and if you use it actively during your tasting you will not only remember which drops impressed you the most in 45 minutes time once the presentation is done, you send the message to the cellar door staff that you are serious about considering their wines.

Pro tip: Use a system involving points out of 20 or a rating out of 5 stars (the most amusing one I’ve seen was how many smiley faces to award a wine!) rather than simply ticking the ones you liked.

It isn’t going to be much help to look at your list of 8 ticks at the conclusion of the tasting if you have a limited budget (or limited luggage space) that doesn’t allow you to purchase the entire tasting list!

Don’t consume every tasting portion you are offered

I can hear you saying right now… you’re kidding right?!

But if you do the maths an average private group tasting involves around 8 tasting portions (often a few more if premium wines are brought out as “special” items for the group to try) multiplied by 3-4 cellar doors… you can end up with 32 or more wine samplings to find room for.

Remember…this is a tasting not a drinking session!

And we’re not smashing boxes of goon here!

Considering a tasting portion can be as generous as a third of a glass of wine it will definitely start to add up for you as the day goes on.

It can be quite difficult to estimate how much you have had to drink on a wine tasting trip so joining an organised tour is a must so you don’t have to worry about the driving! You can also leverage the knowledge of a guide who is passionate about local wines and drinks them regularly who can advise you what you may or may not like.

I love to talk to the guests who join us on wine tours of the hunter valley and by being familiar with the wines being tasted at each venue and getting a “feel” for which wines guests enjoyed at the venues early in the tour, I enjoy the challenge of advising guests later in the day.

I can personally vouch for the fact that the exact same wine can taste quite different when you are intoxicated compared to when you are sober. When intoxicated it is harder to taste the fruit flavours against the acidity and as the day goes on you can only taste the sweetness and nothing else!

So while you want to have some fun, it may be an idea to only consume the wines you enjoy the best. Or if that seems far too criminal you can always consume the first 3 sips (you don’t actually taste a wine properly on the first sip) and discard the rest.

Or I’m sure a helpful friend at your table might be willing to take the excess in your glass off your hands!

It wouldn’t be the first time I have come home with several bottles that I have purchased on a tour  which I have tried later only to wonder “what was I thinking when I purchased this?”.

So to avoid disappointment it would be a good idea to pace yourself throughout the day. Otherwise you will have paid upwards of $25 a bottle for a wine to mix with your spag bol sauce!

Maybe Invest In a Good Glass

And don’t forget that the glassware being used is influencing your perception of the vino being served. Cellar doors tend to use very large glasses that encourage swirling and by the nature of their shape (pear shaped) amplify the aromas.

If you thought a particular wine was “good” but maybe not at the level of “great”, you might want to stick to your “great” and “absolutely awesome” list when it comes time to pull out your wallet. Especially if you normally drink wine at home from a beaker!

If you’ve made the time in your busy holiday schedule to include some wine tasting you want to get the most out of it that you can.There are so many fabulous wine regions around the world to tempt you that produce styles that are very different to what you are able to access at home so you would be mad not to make room in your bags for some choice bottles of local produce.

By following these tips you will have a tasting experience that you will remember and get the right bottle of joy to enjoy later as well.

The post Wine Tasting Faux Pas – 4 Etiquette Tips To Get The Best From Your Tasting appeared first on Backpacker Banter.

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Wish You Were Here?!

The Maldives is one of those bucket list destinations that everyone should try and visit once in their lives – and having visited there a few times now one of the first things people ask me is how much does the Maldives cost?

It’s viewed by many people as a pretty high end, luxury, honeymoon destination and up until recently that was very much the case. In recent years though this has begun to change and now the Maldives is a destination which can accommodate a huge range of travellers with all levels of budget – from local guest houses to 5* resorts.

So if you’re planning a trip to the Maldives soon here’s my guide to how much to Maldives cost to travel, no matter what style of travel and level of luxury you’re after!

FYI – All prices in this post are in $USD as the Maldives also uses this as a currency.

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How Much Does The Maldives Cost – From Luxury Resorts To Budget Travel Options Flights To The Maldives

The Maldives sits in the middle of the Indian Ocean – just below the coast of India and Sri Lanka. Despite being seemingly in the middle of nowhere the amount of tourism that it draw means that flying to the Maldives isn’t actually as pricey as you might think.

Make Sure You Get A Window Seat!

As well as stand alone return flights from Europe you can also easily package it into a bigger around the world flight ticket too – so a stop over en route to South East Asia or even Australia isn’t as complicated as you might think.

For long haul flights from Europe here are some solid options;

  • Qatar – stopping over in Doha
  • Sri Lanka – stopping over in Columbo
  • Emirates – although in recent years Emirates have shot up in price I still use them a lot for multiple destination tickets and I nabbed a London > Maldives > Sri Lanka > Singapore > Australia flight all in for just over £600 one way. In fact adding in the stop to Sri Lanka and Singapore only added about £50 and I could stay as long as I wanted – so in theory I could’ve then bounced around South East Asia for a few month from Singapore.
  • British Airways – these guys also offer direct flights to the Maldives from the UK in high season. They aren’t the cheapest but its a good option to look into if you want convenience

If you’re already in South East Asia then there are also some low cost airlines who fly to the Maldives, often under $150 each way once you’d added in luggage!

  • Air Asia – you can easily grab flights from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and even Phuket for u
  • Scoot – these guys fly direct from Singapore which is a great hub for the rest of Asia and onward international flights.
  • Jet – if you’re coming from a trip from India they offer some low cost options too

The bottom line with flights is to check out sites like Skyscanner and ideally be flexible with your dates to nab the best fares. I also recommend signing up to sites such as I Know The Pilot and Secret Flying which will alert you to some awesome flight deals to the Maldives and elsewhere in the world too.

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Visas For The Maldives

One of the great things about travelling to the Maldives is that for myself (British Passport) visas are done on arrival and best of all FREE! Sometimes you’ll need to have proof of onward travel before you can board your flight, but that’s no big deal.

In fact for a lot of countries tourist visas for Maldives are free on done on arrival – but as with all visas this varies from country to country so double check before you book your trip!

Please note this was correct at the time of writing and make sure you double check current visa regulations before travelling

Budget Accommodation In The Maldives

There Are Plenty Of Local Island Options – Including Fulidhoo

Up until recently the Maldives was pretty exclusive when it came to accommodation – with big hotel and private island resort holding a monopoly, which made it almost impossible to travel the Maldives on a budget without knowing a local!

But in the last 5 years the government has relaxed the rules on locals owning guesthouses and a whole array of entrepreneurial Maldivians have opened up guest houses on a variety of island within the country – offering paradise at a fraction of the cost!

One of the best ways to find, book and manage your accommodation budget for the Maldives is through Air B N B (click here to get $33 of free travel credit too!) which is quickly becoming the booking platform of choice for the area.

Islands such as Maafushi and Fulidhoo seem to have sky rocketed in popularity as a result and you can now grab a private double room from $50 per night, with an average price of around $60.

Yes that’s a bit more pricey than spots like Thailand or Cambodia – but it’s still cheaper than 2 dorm beds in Australia!

And you’re in the freaking Maldives!

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Awesome Local islands to check out;
  • Maafushi (South Male Atoll) – out of all the local island options this is certainly the most popular and easy option. It’s only a quick 30 minute speed boat from Male Airport and there’s a huge range of accommodation and food options for all budgets. There are plenty of mini day trips to check out too and it’s a favourite of fellow travel blogger Lauren from Never Ending Footsteps – you can check out her full Maafushi blog post here.

Thulsdhoo – One Of My Favourite Surf Islands!

  • Fulidhoo (Vaavu Atoll) – I headed here for a week of scuba diving with Fulidhoo Dive and absolutely loved it! Not only was the scuba diving incredible but the island itself was beautiful too. Only about 200 people live here and it’s a super sleepy and quiet spot to relax. We managed to grab a room at the beachfront Kinan Retreat for just £45 a night
  • Thulusdhoo (North Male Atoll) – my personal favourite just because of the amazing surf it offers up! For non surfers there are still plenty of accommodation options, snorkelling and good beaches to enjoy. The lagoon section is also full of baby shark swimming around which are super cute to watch!
  • Ukulhas (North Ari Atoll) – this island is noted for its green island credentials and eco ethics, so kudos to them! This is also a great location for snorkelling with manta rays and they even have hammerhead shark diving here in the right season.

For a bit more info on travelling the Maldives on a budget check out this post

Mid Range Accommodation In The Maldives

Beachfront With Busting The Budget!

For those with a bit more cash to splash and who want a bit more luxury but without totally smashing your bank balance there are also some awesome mid range accommodation options throughout the Maldives.

For local islands you can get some comfortable hotels for around $100-150 which will get you a pretty nice setup and all the amenities you’d expect from a hotel.

Options such as Season Paradise on Thulusdhoo (around $90) Kinan Retreat on Fulidhoo (around $60 per night) The Barefoot Eco Hotel on Hanimaadhoo (around $100) are great examples of these.

Keep an eye out on Booking.com for deals of the day and flash deals to nab yourself a bargain and also be aware that these prices will fluctuate with the seasons too!

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Resort Accommodation In The Maldives
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