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Month: January 2017

How to reduce your plastic use on your Travels

How to reduce your plastic use on your Travels

It seems that no matter where you travel in the world, the beaches always have washed up rubbish and are always littered with plastic.    Now, it’s common knowledge that plastic waste is bad for the environment and our oceans, but it is everywhere!.

A plastic bag can take hundreds of years to breakdown, yet despite knowing this, every year, millions of plastic items end up in our oceans.  This pollutes and damages the delicate marine life, I’m sure you have seen some of the postings on social media where, for example a whale or turtle has died as a result of  consuming plastic bags, after mistaking them as edible jelly fish.

All waste is bad, but in many areas of the world they don’t have efficient waste disposal processes and don’t have any recycling facilities.   Please also remember that when you travel to remote picturesque islands, there will be higher costs to dispose of waste via boats, or often waste is burnt, buried or thrown into our oceans as it can be a more economical way of hiding waste.

 

So what can we do to help reduce waste and in particular plastic waste on our travels, wherever in the world you may be traveling.

Say NO to Straws !

Plastic disposable straws are an environmental nightmare.  You can often see these littering local coral reefs when diving or snorkelling.  For years, I have been told you should use a straw and not drink directly from a can, as you don’t know how dirty the top of the can is! – I would say that is logical, especially if you’re off the beaten track.    So where possible buy glass bottles as the cap protects the lip of the bottle where you drink from, or use a reusable straw.   These now come in a wide variety, they are small, light and easily fit into you backpack or bag.


£4.99 click image to see on Amazon

 

 

Avoid using plastic bags

This may seem like an obvious one, but often travellers are automatically given plastic bags as in many countries, shopkeepers will automatically place your bought goods into a bag for you.  Say no! (with a smile) You can get some great, cool looking, practical reusable shopping bags that take up hardly any room.

£5.26 click image to see on Amazon

 

Buy drink cans rather than plastic bottles / bags.

When you buy a drink choose a canned variety rather than plastic bottles or cartons with plastic straws.   Many local vendors in the Far East sell drinks in plastic bags with straws in – these are the worst to buy.  Marine life wont eat a can, although I have seen crabs live in them!.

Reuse plastic bottles

How you refill your plastic bottle depends where in the world you are.  If you’re in a country with drinkable water on tap – need I say more!.    If you’re in a country where you have to drink bottle water, many resorts have the large water / juice dispensers.  Fill up your bottle from the dispenser.  Not only does this save you money it also reduces your plastic usage.

Take your own drink bottle

There are a wide variety of refillable water bottles on the market and it’s best to find one that suits your own individual needs.  Some are just water bottles and some can filter the water to different qualities.

The Life Saver Bottle:

    • LIFESAVER bottle filters out bacteria, viruses, cysts, parasites and fungi from water
    • Tested by Independent Test House to meet adaption of NSF Protocol 231
    • Filters 4,000 litres / 1056 US gallons of water
    • FAILSAFE – an automatic indicator when the cartridge needs replacing
    • BPA and BPS free

£110 click image to see on Amazon

The Life Straw:

This is similar to the Life Saver but it doesn’t remove viruses.  They are cheaper but filter less quantities

£39.99 click image to see on Amazon

 

 

Another way of being able to refill your  water bottle is to use a UV Steripen.  You can refill any water bottle and then use the Steripen to make the water safe to drink.  They work really well (the taste is not great – so if you have any fruit put a slice or two in to help disguise the puddle taste !!).  We used one when we climbed Mount Kinabalu.  We were able to fill up from the various rain water tanks on the way up while others had to carry the weight of lots of  bottles of water.

£83.13 click image to see on Amazon

 

Be aware when your shopping

When you’re shopping consciously buy products with less plastic packaging.  Choose glass jars rather than plastic or products packed in cardboard rather than plastic.  Buying fresh fruit or ingredients you can take your own reusable bag.

Pack a reusable razor.

Take a razor that has changeable blades rather than buying disposable razors – it also takes less space in your backpack or case.  And, any shaving foam, sun creams, shampoo, shower gel or leftover liquids that you can’t take with you – give it to new found friends along the way, that need it rather than bin anything.

If everyone took a few simple steps to reduce their plastic usage, collectively it would make a difference.  We can only control our own actions – so take action and lead by example and TREAD the Globe responsibly.

Our first time under water – try a discovery dive

Our first time under water – try a discovery dive

I have always loved snorkelling – it gives you that glimpse into another world below from the familiar comfort of the surface.  So, whenever I planned a trip away to warmer tropical climates, I would always make sure that part of the holiday had a few days next to the beach with the best coral reef we could find.  Marianne and I have never really been the kind to sit and sunbathe on a beach for hours, we both get itchy feet after an hour or so …..

Our first trip to Sabah, Borneo was no exception.  After a lot of research, and looking in the lonely planet travel guide (and online I came to the conclusion that the islands off the East Coast of Sabah looked and sounded perfect.  All of the resorts seemed to be geared towards divers so the waters must be good right?.  It took some time to find somewhere to stay within our budget.  Many were hundreds of £’s per night even for non divers.  I eventually came across a resort that was both very reasonably priced and claimed to have an amazing house reef right off the beach.  Sold! I booked 3 nights at Scuba Junkie on the island of Mabul.

As I sat on the boat for the 45 minute journey it takes to get to the island I was excited to jump into that water with my mask and snorkel –  I had been sat in my office in the UK thinking about this moment for long enough !.   As soon as we arrived and checked in I was off down to the beach.  I walked in up to my waist and started swimming.  WOW there was a turtle right there under me in no more than 5 feet of water.  I was not disappointed.  I swam out over the reef and was amazed at the variety of  life below me.  Marianne was back in the resort – she is not such a keen swimmer, she has been heard saying she hates water! and I had to share my excitement with the first person I saw! I then started to babble like a child let loose in Willie Wonka’s Chocolate factory.  The person I was talking to turned out to be one of Scuba Junkie’s instructors called Jason.

Me & Jason – the reason we started diving

He asked if I was a diver and I said no just a snorkeler and he then said why don’t I give it a try.  At that time I was under the impression that you couldn’t just try it without being a qualified diver.  Jason went on to explain the Padi – discovery dive.  OK sold.  I found Marianne and shared my excitement.  Her jaw hit the floor when I said I had booked us both on a discovery dive the following morning. (she hates water and is claustrophobic a great combination for a diver)

                                      The end of Scuba Junkie’s Jetty

Jason met us on the jetty and spent time talking us through diving, explaining some basic tests, hand signals and rules that we had to do before we were able to dive with him.  The most important rule is NEVER hold your breath under water as the air can expand in your lungs as you ascend.  We were now wet suited up with tanks on our backs and climbing down the steps towards the sunken platform at the end of the jetty.  What a great set up, a secure platform in which we can practice and do our basic skill tests.   Marianne was breathing just under the surface in no time.  My brain had a real hang up.  Snorkelling is one thing, but breathing without that link to the surface was another thing !.  I think I must hold the record, for the longest time before taking their first breath !  It must have been 20 minutes my brain just didn’t want to do it.  Jason deserved a medal for his patience and constantly gave me supportive words of encouragement.

Our first dive – how exciting !

Eventually, we were kneeling on the platform and taking it in turns to demonstrate some basic skills after Jason had shown us what to do.  We had to take out our regulator, and clear it both with our breath and also by purging it, showing how we could retrieve our regulator in case we dropped it and clear water out of our mask.

OK – tests all done and we were off descending down. We could go to a maximum of 12 meters and followed Jason who kept a close eye on us.  Many people I have spoken to suffer with their ears and it took a couple of dives before I fully understood that you have to pop you ears on the way down before they start to hurt.  If your ears hurt stop going any deeper and slowly go up a meter or so until they stop hurting, clear them again before slowly descending again.

It really was another world, we saw a huge variety of fish and corals.  Marianne got fixated by a turtle that swam past that she stopped following Jason and started following the turtle – until she felt Jason pulling her fins to take her out of the trance.

A lion Fish & Eel

We both loved it so much we paid for an additional 2 dives and rented a camera so we could capture the moment.

 

There were  fish everywhere.

We love turtles.

This was how our love of diving started – all because Jason persuaded me to try it – Thank you Jason.

We will soon have reached the 100 dive milestone – that’s another story!

So next time, you have the opportunity give it a go – it may change your life – it certainly has for us !

 

Clown Fish                                                    Crocodile Fish

Save money on your travels by paying up front

Save money on your travels by paying up front

There are lots of ways that you can save money when travelling – in this post we’ll look at the advantage of paying in advance.

When we go on holiday we always choose to book directly rather than through a travel agent (I’ll discuss the reasons for this in a future post)

Many hotels and dive resorts allow you to guarantee the booking with your credit card and then pay at the end of your stay.   For years I have just paid with my credit or debit card not giving too much thought to the cost of the transaction and in particular the exchange rate.

I decided to look into this when I was asked to send a deposit for one resort and realised that we could save a lot of money.

 

 

So you ask what’s the problem with paying with your credit or debit card?  The credit card companies & banks will generally give you much lower rate that the published rate  – they have to make their money some how right.  They will also charge you a non-sterling transaction fee which is usually about 2.75 – 3 % of the total transaction.  Some banks will also charge an additional fee of £1 – £1.50 per transaction.  If you pay by card for numerous transactions on holiday this soon adds up. Check with your bank to make sure your using the best card, if you do pay by card, and not paying these additional fees.  Some hotels or resorts will also charge a credit card handling fee this can be an additional 3% its always worth checking when you book so you can plan the best way for you to pay.

Right let’s looks at an example – so  say that I am booked into a dive resort in Malaysia and the stay for 2 of us for a week is 5,500 Malaysian Ringgits (MYR).   The current published online rate today (14/1/17) on www.xe.com is 5.44 MYR to £1 and this converts  to £1,011.03

Example 1:  Paid by credit /debit card whilst on holiday

Ok I choose to pay with my Natwest debit card today.  Their rate today is 5.17 MYR to £1.

The cost of the stay is  5,500 MYR.   The resort charges 3% credit card charge so new total is 5,665 MYR

The bank will now charge you 2.75% non-sterling fee so total is now 5,820.79 MYR

Based on the banks exchange rate this is £1,125.88

Example 2:  Paid in advance

I researched and found the most cost effective way to send money is through a company called transferwise. It was very easy to set up was fast and saved a lot of money.  I would highly recommend it.

So if today I sent 5,500 MYR as a prepayment it will cost £1,019.22 (including the fees). That’s a massive saving of £106.66 compared to using your card to pay on the day.

You can see the advantages right !  There is always a concern that you need to cancel and what happens when you have already paid – well any losses should be covered by your travel insurance.  I have had to cancel before and have always got my money back from the company that I left the deposit with (you may loose a little converting it back).

How to save even more money

I have found another way to get even more back.   For those of you in the UK I am sure you have all heard of the cash back sites there’s a few of them around. (not sure if other countries have these but it’s definitely worth checking).  Such as topcashback.co.uk .  I was always reluctant to sign up thinking there must be a catch but it genuinely works.   I decided to sign up to topcashback.

After signing up I looked up Transferwise on the Top Cashback site and it showed a cash back rate of £15 for any new customers on their 1st transaction. (prices vary and I have checked today and it is £11.50 ).   When I signed up I got the £15 back.  That’s another £15 for doing nothing.

Even better topcashback offers a referral service so if you recommend a friend then you receive a payment back (this amount varies but can be £10-£20). Once you join recommend you partner and you will get the £20 and be able to set up another Transferwise account for the next transaction and have a further £11.50 payback as a new customer (make sure it set up another Transferwise account in different name and different email address).  That’s more money back.

Savings all round – I now try my best to pay in advance using Transferwise when I can. I hope that you liked this  post and that you save lots on you next holiday.

Happy travelling and go tread the globe

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Thanks for reading

Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary & Kinabatangan River- Favourite pics

Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary & Kinabatangan River- Favourite pics

Mabul & Surrounding Islands – Sabah – Favourite Pics

Mabul & Surrounding Islands – Sabah – Favourite Pics

Watch this Space !!!

Watch this Space !!!

We are pleased to announce that we are currently putting together a website that will show you the way to TREAD – Travel Responsibly, get fabulous Eats, have awesome Adventures and spectacular Diving.

We are part of a growing community of people, that believe that travel is a responsibility – take only photos and leave only memories.  We are going to show you ways to travel for longer, by saving money and help you choose places that you want to go, by giving realistic and helpful tips to suit all budgets and bucket lists.

Making sure that we introduce all the amazing people that we meet along the way – for example MMF (Marine Megafauna Foundation) that we met when diving with Manta Rays in Komodo National Park, Sepilok (Orangutan Rehabilitation Rescue Centre) on a Trip to Borneo, and the environmental officers at Scuba Junkie on Mabul Island in Sabah to name a few.  Sharing our ever expanding knowledge and stories (even the embarrassing ones !!) to help you plan your trips and maximize your holiday experiences.