Posted by: Admin | April 30, 2012

Travel Tips

Having spent a wonderful few days in Barcelona with Daughter Number 2, I’ve been preoccupied with travel tips for those who are, like me,  in possession of 50 year-old legs. Mine, you see, are currently worn down to stumps. And swollen. Not to mention the fact that my back feels as if it’s been snapped and I could happily sleep for 24 hours straight. Allow me to impart my hard-won wisdom on the subject of travelling with someone much younger than oneself…

  1. When booking a cheap hotel for a city break, check first where the red light district is located. Our room was clean and comfortable, but overlooked a street that was, um… lively all day until about 4am. This didn’t seem to bother my daughter, who slept like a log, but I seemed to be party to every negotiation. Fortunately, I don’t speak the language, or I might have been tempted to lean out of the window and yell: just pay her already, you cheapskate! 
  2. Take two pairs of comfortable shoes and alternate them. Forget heels – you’ll never keep up, never mind look elegant.
  3. Either wear clothes with secure pockets, or put your valuables in a small bag worn across the body and under your jacket. That way your bag can’t be snatched, pick pocketed, or cut from you with a knife wielded from a passing moped. (We had no problems like this, thank goodness, but we made it difficult which I think helped)
  4. Following on from above, walk in the centre of the pavement and keep your wits about you. Check your route before you leave the hotel and if you have to check a map or phone, duck into a doorway or a shop and be discreet. Don’t wander around in a dream with your iPad in your hand…
  5. Insist on being fed and watered regularly and keep hydrated throughout the day.
  6. A siesta is a cultural experience in Mediterranean countries. Return to the hotel and make the most of it by lying down with you feet higher than your heart. Be prepared to listen to music so that your companion doesn’t get bored and hustle you off again before you’ve recharged. I was lucky – my young person slept for longer than I did.
  7. Make a lose itinerary, plan your route and don’t waste your leg power wandering around looking for things. Make the most of the  underground system and buses. Consider hopping on one of those tourist buses so that you get a quick overview of the sights whilst sitting on your butt, giving you an idea of those you’ll want to visit later.
  8. Further to the above, consider climbing to the highest point (normally in a park or up the tower of a cathedral) on the first day so that you get an overview of the city. That way you won’t feel overwhelmed by the endless concrete throughways that you have to navigate to find those pretty squares and narrow streets.
  9. To save weight, download a travel guide to your smartphone BEFORE you leave home. Leave it until you get there and you’ll end up burning through your 50megs for £40 by using data roaming.
  10. Don’t be afraid to slow things down if the pace gets too much for you. There’s a lot to be said for pacing, for sitting in a cafe and watching the world go by and using the time to chat and reconnect.

My lovely girl is off again tomorrow having been home for just 10 days. Those four days in Barcelona were so precious – and worth every ache, blister and sleepless night!



  1. Funnily enough, I’ve just read a book about Bar-they-lona and it sounds an awful lot more interesting than Madrid. Many thousands of years ago I went to see an exhibition of art and design from Barcelona at The Hayward Gallery in Londond and it struck me as a very cultural, groovy place to be.

    • I wouldn’t recognise groovy if it slapped me in the face, Beloni 😉
      “Bizarre” was the word we used most often as our trip became a tour of the architectural sights, and it was certainly interesting!

  2. Thanks for the wise tips, Jo. I’ll try to remember them when I’m wandering London in another six weeks 🙂 My heart craves travel even more today than it used to, but my body definitely can’t handle what I could years ago…(much as I do not want to admit that!)

    • I know what you mean about your “heart craving travel”, jecolourfulheart. Maybe it’s a sense of time moving on, of needing to see things before our eyesight fades too much, or our legs give out on us? The world was always there for us to see, but it seemed that it could wait. Now we are more conscious of time passing.

  3. Good writing, stunning photos and sound advice. Hope all is well. Maxine XXX

  4. Thank you, Maxine 😉
    Funnily enough, I was thinking about you and your group only the other day. Would you mind emailing me – – to discuss some thought I have?

  5. Sage advice Jo. I have been living in this fabulous city for 14 years and you hit all the nails on the head.

    • Welcome, kmapostcards! I loved Barcelona. There was a genuinely friendly atmosphere and everyone we spoke to was open and keen to help. I’ll be publishing some images from the trip on my business blog in due course – Hope to see you there!

  6. Glad you had fun Mum! Sorry, I’m used to 12 hours of running around everywhere to see as much as possible! I can imagine you will remind me of this when I’m 50 and I’ll feel bad for dragging you for miles and miles. Aren’t you glad we did it by foot though, never would have seen as much of that amazing architecture if we’d got on an overpriced tourist bus! 😉 xxx

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