Lonely Planet Writer

Traveller talk: August 2016

Humpback Whale with huge pectoral fin raised, lunge-feeding in the Channel Islands National Park, Santa Barbara Humpback whale feeding in the Channel Islands, Santa Barbara © Vikki Hunt / Shutterstock

August saw Thorn Tree veterans come to the aid of lots of new posters: there were conversations around nature holidays in California, travelling with children, border stamps in the Middle East and ridiculous London accommodation prices… and many more. Here are the highlights.

Dreaming about nature holidays in California

First time poster kubawinter is visiting San Diego soon and is hoping to ‘see some nature and landscapes' in California. Nutraxfornerves jumps in with a suggestion of whale watching while in San Diego and posts a list of companies offering tours in November. She says that although it’s not peak time for whales, ‘you should see a few, as well as sea lions, dolphins and tons of birds. You might get lucky and see a blue whale’.

Kubawinter also reveals a desire to visit the desert and TT-ers help to nail down the itinerary further to fit it all in.

Leaving in two weeks and super scared :(

Another virgin poster sarahflesher asks the community for advice about her five-month trip to Phuket and the Maldives to complete her dive training. The 18-year-old is worried about being homesick and adds: ‘When I booked this, I was super excited and the adrenaline had me going. Now that my departure date is exactly two weeks away I am so scared.’

The TT community confess to getting the ‘jitters’ before trips despite varying degrees of travel experience. Emma33 says Sarah has made a ‘great decision’ to do the dive course first as she’ll get to meet fellow travellers there. Travellingtulip adds that with Skype and social media it’s easy to keep in touch with friends and family back home. We hope Sarah reports back on her trip when she gets a chance!

Have kid, will travel

Jules_Karacho (yet another new member) says she has been lurking ‘for years’ reading about all the places she’d love to visit but now needs some advice to put some solid travel plans in place. While she has lots of experience travelling in Southeast Asia, she’s never done it alone with her 4-year-old in tow before.

Spoonz recommends Thailand and Cambodia as a ‘hundred times easier and more pleasant with a child’ than India and TT-er api agrees. Marcthetraveler recommends Sri Lanka, with travelwithchild suggesting Goa and Kerala.

Dome of the Rock and the Wailing Wall Dome of the Rock and the Wailing Wall at dusk © Daniel Zelazo / Getty Images

Passport headaches in the Middle East

Stanovnik wants to visit Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Egypt (in that order). Originally he wanted to visit Israel after Lebanon but has been told he won’t be able to enter Israel from that side. He asks TT-ers their advice as ‘some people have recommended to even skip Israel altogether due to risk of not being able to enter to other countries.’

Fluffy_bunny suggests being ‘honest and up front about it’ and says this approach has seen him enter Israel with three Yemeni work visas, four Iraqi work visas, a couple of stamps from UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, plus stamps from Somalia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Egypt. He adds: ‘I went in knowing I would be questioned at the border. I waited 20 minutes to talk to an official, they politely asked me questions for 20+ minutes (offering water or tea), then they let me on my way. Total of an hour... tops.’

TT-ers concur that following the order of countries Stanovnik suggests is best and to avoid mentioning future Israel travel plans in Iran and Lebanon.

Suitcases vs backpacks

Vanatcha is planning a trip to Australia this December but has a bad back and is not sure whether to invest in a backpack or wheeled suitcase. She is slightly more inclined to go for a backpack to give the holiday more of a ‘backpacking’ feel but doesn’t want to end up in agony.

Markfawkner recommends a wheeled case, arguing that the 'prestige of a backpack will be massively reduced if you are in pain’. Yet, bunyip58 – who has personally suffered the miseries of a bad back – says they ‘won't travel with anything except a backpack and a daypack’. Bunyip58 reasons that wheeled luggage involves a lot of lifting in awkward spots and adds, ‘my experience is that getting a pack onto your back is a lot less stressful on the back.’

Cost of London hotels

Raki_man had to have a ‘hot cup of tea and a bit of a lie down’ after discovering how extortionate London accommodation prices have become. Around £60 or £70 a night is the absolute cheapest the community could find, with posters discussing halls of residences (as they are vacant outside of term time) and the practicalities and costs of commuting in from the suburbs.