To shock fellow travelers while traveling the world I always told them the same story: I have been to Bangkok 17 times, almost 10 times to Indonesia, 3 times to most countries in South America, Australia and numerous times in the States, but although I grew up 3 hours from Paris and 4 hours from London I never made it to those cities. Attending WTM in London ruined my story, although I still have never seen the Eiffel Tower! :)
From Brussels to London
Looking for cheap ways to get to London I found a flight for only $20 from Cologne and within 50 minutes after take off I would have landed in London already. I also found a bus for $30 that took 10 hours; obviously I chose to take the bus, right?
To get to Cologne Airport would have taken me 1,5 hours and $20, I would have had to wait at the airport for 1,5 hours and then I would have landed at one of the outer airports in London. By plane it would eventually have cost me more money than by bus plus taking the cheap busses services would be so much more convenient. Putting some effort in online research for travel opportunities is one of the easiest budget travel tips I give in my article about my travel hacks. I hopped on the bus 20 minutes from my parents place, changed busses in Brussels, took the Eurotunnel for the first time in my life and got off in London city center. The tunnel was a cool experience and the bus ride was extra comfy as I had the first two seats on the top floor of a double-decker bus for myself! WINNER
After WTF Istanbul, ITB Berlin and ITE Ho Chi Minh City this was my fourth travel trade show this year already. The only times I am swapping my board shorts and flipflops for a suit and seriously, I enjoy it! I was hosted by one of my friends who lives in London. We met in Indonesia where I was doing Magic Mushrooms on the Gili Islands and when she heard I was coming to London she offered to host me in exchange for a Traveltomtom interview on her website! ;)
Meeting people and potential partners in London
In my article about ITE Ho Chi Minh City I exactly explained what bloggers do on events like this. Needless to say networking is the number one thing to do and damn I love that.
I like to be friendly to strangers, smile, have a little chat, talk about travel and may be exchange contacts for business purposes. On top of that it is a place to put a face to your email to those people you have already met online.
Of course I had to go to the Maldives stand and say hi to my friends from Maldives TV who lately hosted me for the World Travel Writers’ Conference, say hi to the organization who organized my trip to Israel, had a coffee with the Trip of Wonders Indonesia crew and continued my way to the country I blog about most: Thailand and pass by the Philippines for when I want to travel to El Nido again.
Another great thing about these Travel Event is that you are able to go to talks about current developments and hot topics in the tourism sector. For bloggers the ones regarding influencer marketing are very interesting to listen to.
Travel schedule for Traveltomtom in 2018
In a lot of interviews I get asked about my travel plans and although they are unpredictable as I tend to go there where I get invited I kind of have a rough plan for spring 2018 and that is to explore Central Asia and all the –stan countries. All of them were presented at WTM so I tried to make a connection with them for future references and so did I talk with Pakistan: What is a blogger? Show me how that works on Instagram! How funny, but I had a little chat with these friendly gentlemen and got to try some delicious Pakistani treats.
Do these travel trade shows really lead to something? I can’t tell you exactly, but at least they have my business card and may they ever consider working with bloggers I hope they think about me. Of course that is the main reason I show my face at these massive events, but the coolest part is in fact meeting up with all the other bloggers and influencers at the meet up parties. It was good to see all their faces again! I seriously love the blogging community! Also a special thank to those people who recognized me from my social media channels and stopped me to have a little chat and a picture, you guys are the best!
If you don’t have a destination you can never get lost
This for sure is one of my favorite quotes and totally applies to the trip I am taking right now. I decided to leave my big Rimowa suitcase at my parents place and only bring my lovely Pacsafe with me. It is like an oversized daypack/little backpack but that opens like a suitcase. I fitted all my winter clothes (read: 1 jeans, two long sleeves and a hoodie) in it plus some extra t-shirts and my camera equipment and left for a trip around Europe. Without baggage I would be free to go wherever I wanted based on cheap flights available through the cool Skyscanner option FLY EVERYWHERE. Basically through Skyscanner you can check what is the cheapest flight available on a specific date leaving all destination options open. It looks like this:
My first time to Scotland
A great plan right? So while in London I saw flights for less than $10 to Portugal, Ireland, Norway, Italy and Poland. Guess where I ended up going? Edinburgh by night bus! :) I sat in a cramped bus for 10 hours and paid $50 for it. Countries I have never been before simply have my preference and since I was fairly close I decided to visit Scotland. As I am a disaster in making decision I only planned on going to Edinburgh two days in advance and found out that train travel in the UK is extremely expensive and to travel by bus is not really cheap either. Anyway I made it to country number 82.
When thinking about Scotland I always though about grey skies, rain and windy weather conditions. My picture was completely wrong apart from the strong wind as I experienced 4 amazingly sunny days in this beautiful city. I felt like I was walking around in the Middle Ages, not that I know how it looked back then, but we all watch movies, right? :)
The buildings are so detailed and I guess it is Gothic style but forgive me if it is not, I’m not really a historian. The exterior of these buildings are in such contrast with the modern and cosy interior and I found some really lovely coffee shops to hang out in: I would recommend warming up in Brew Lab and The Wall were they serve good coffee and you can hang out with loads of young people all working on their projects on their laptops. Inspiring vibe!
The temperatures were hard to cope with though and getting a coffee every couple hundred meters did not get me far either. I did my best to deal with temperatures getting close to zero. Especially while patiently taking photos to get the shot I wanted I felt like my hand were falling off. Seeing signs saying grab an ice cold Coca Cola made me realize I am not made for this climate as I’m pretty sure these signs were not really sarcastic for the die-hard Scottish. But Edinburgh apart from the cold weather you were really cool. Here is a list of winter items you can't go without. Be better prepared than me!
Best places to see in Edinburgh
While in Edinburgh you should definitely make sure to see the castle and the view over the city from there, but the best panorama spot is on Calton Hill, only 15 minutes walk from the city center. There are so many cathedrals that I seriously could not count them, although everything with a gotic shaped tower on top of a building is a cathedral in my eyes. If you want to visit them all it is going to be a long day. Walking around in old town is fabulous itself. Basically it does not really matter I loved all the streets and pubs and the vibe.
There are loads of cool apartments on Airbnb and if you sign up for Airbnb I can offer you a $40 discount on your first night if you sign up through this link. Already have an Airbnb account? Then just sign up with a new email address and get $40 off again! Easy, right? ;)
Thanks for keeping up with Traveltomtom! Next week I will fly to Portugal where I lived one of my travel dreams for a week: traveling around in a van!