Leaving a Positive Community Footprint when I Travel.


The bottom line is, I’m fussy as to what creature shares my bed when I’m travelling!

Early on in my travels, I learnt a valuable lesson pre internet from a seasoned traveller. He always requested to view the room before handing over his money and used to give the bed a dam good bang to test for dust and any potential undesirable creatures!. He often used to ask to view another room too, so he could compare and naturally barter, this totally meets my West Walian tendancies!

That’s one of the reasons I tend not to book ahead when I’m travelling. I will have obviously done my research as to whats available in the area I want to stay in. I often email the hotel/guest house/hostal in advance, but don’t always get a reply in time for a variety of reasons, time difference, access to wifi etc I have developed a standard list of criteria that has held me in good stead over the years.

1. One criteria that has crept further towards the top over recent years is about whether the money I pay stays local and has the potential to make a greater impact on the local community. I feel I need to know whether my monies however large or small goes to some multinational bank account overseas or within the community where I have been travelling. I know sometimes, this is is not always possible.

These are the other criteria which matter to me when booking my accommodation:-

2. Security. I often rely on my gut instinct for this by watching what goes on in reception when I first come in. In reality, this means asking a couple of questions at reception about how things work in terms of security as well as credibility of bedroom door/window security; Another reason why it’s good to request a look at the room in advance. And, I test for hot water at the same time (if it’s available).

I’ve also learnt to travel with an Egyptian sleeping bag liner for the rare occasions where there isn’t too many choices of accommodation and I’m not certain on the bed bug front. In reality, this has only ever happened once, never the less, the liner packs small and is very light. I have also used it on other occasions when the temperature dropped and there was no extra blankets available.

3. Certain Creature Comforts. Once I’m happy the security element of the hotel is fine, I also like to establish certain creature comforts. There’s not pointing being pious about it. Knowing what I will and won’t accept is important, as enjoyment is a major part of the reason why I go travelling. My most important one for me is on-suite. Not my bag walking down corridors in my dressing gown to use the facilities thank you!

Having just three criteria for making a judgement on my accommodation needs when travelling makes my life simpler and frees me to do when I like most, making memories!

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No Sprechen sie?

One of the most common questions I get asked when i rely some of my travel stories is how many languages do I speak. Welsh, English, tourist Spanish and dreadful French is my usual answer. But I don’t let that deter me! Family and friends often feel that a lack of languages others English is one of the main barriers to travelling outside the mainstream tourist areas across the world. Particularly if you go off the beaten track. I can totally understand how that would put potential travellers off the idea, but it doesn’t have to be.


Luckily, years ago, I hit on a simple solution in a local book store where I discovered a small booklet called ‘Point at it’. It’s probably been the best £5 I have ever spent in terms of my travel kit. It has pictures of every possible scenario you will need for travel. It has never failed me! It’s so well used. And, when I have used it to communicate with people, it’s had a great response, acted like an icebreaker in some circumstances and really easy to use. Imagine working out at a street food stall in Sichuan Provence, China, I was thinking about eating goats brain! I changed my mind about that for dinner!

Combined with the handy phrases located at the back of the Rough Guide Travel guide to the region i was travelling, more than equipped me with what I have needed during the course of my travels!. Such as for accommodation, public transport, eating, sight seeing, even hospital visits!

Nowadays, I also take with me an electronic pocket translator that translates well over a dozen languages.

It’s safe to say, my well thumbed picture dictionary has given me loads of funny eventful memories, and isn’t that what travelling is all about ?

Do you have any useful language gadgets to help with travel? Let me know.


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Ena Lloyd


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No room at the inn!

Whats’s possibly the independent traveller’s worst nightmare? Arriving somewhere remote, and all the accommodation is taken. This has happened to me. Call it bad planning on my behalf as I didn’t pick up there was a local Fiesta. Call it bad luck. But if it happens to you, the solution is simple, Get on an overnight bus, bus/train/boat to next town etc.

Here’s my story from 2004.

I was using Salta as a base to explore the Southern Andes, Argentina to see some wildlife, salt planes and dramatic scenery. It’s serious gaucho country and the poncho is live and well. Each region has it’s style and pattern of poncho and boy does it come in handy.

The town of Salta is pleasant enough but it’s surrounding area is the real big draw. After sending a couple of days in town to enable me to arrange my trip which would take 3 nights, four days in total. Off I set with 8 strangers in a mini bus towards Antofogasta. The trip was curtailed on the second day due to a major landslide. The driver said as there was no alternative route, so we had to make our way back to Salta. I made my way back to the hotel I had left the day before for a room. The look on the receptionist’s face suggested I was asking for hen’s teeth, as Salta was hosting a massive car race and every hotel, guest house, hostel were full to the rafters. I asked if I could leave my luggage at the hotel to enquire at other hotels in the vain hope of a last minute cancellation. The staff were more than happy to oblige. Although the look on their faces, they thought my efforts would be in vain. They were right, after walking around the town for two hours. I had drawn a blank. Well I thought, tonight was going to be the first, sleeping in a bus shelter was likely to be my only option.Great!

On returning to pickup my luggage, the receptionist asked me to wait a minute, as the manager wanted to speak to me. When he got off the phone, he had contacted his secretary’s mother who took in paying guests periodically and she had a spare room for a couple of nights. Would I mind paying her in dollars not pesos though!

Here again was another example of South American kindness which I have experienced on a number of occasions. The trouble I had in getting the manager to accept a bottle of fine red wine as a thank you was nobody’s business.

So in my case, I didn’t have to get back on an overnight bus, train etc!

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