Two Wheels Are Better Than Four

by Nicole Farrell

I'd been recommended 'Delhi by Bike' Tour of Old Delhi and I was not dissapointed. The tour started early at 6 am to beat the city traffic and crowds. There were two guides, one rode at the front and the other rode behind. The ride was relaxed and the pace was perfect for a non athlete! The traffic was OK and I always felt safe.

   

We often left our bikes and wandered the lane ways and markets. This is an example of one of the old haveli (palaces). The process to restore them is slow but gradually gaining momentum.

    

The tour stops at various markets, including the spice market. We walked up a few flights of stairs to get an excellent overview of the local market and streets below. Even at 6am in the morning, the city of Delhi is bustling with activity.

My guide Tenzin had excellent local knowledge and shared an excellent insight into life in Delhi. We saw areas where men wait for casual work each day as labourers and tradesmen. We also saw a charity which offers medical help to street people or the poor. People que for hours to have wounds dressed or get medication. The service was run by volunteers and I was more than happy to offer a donation.

     

 Flower markets in India are one of my favourite places to visit as the colours are so vibrant. Our Royal Rajasthan and Textiles, temples and tastes of India Tours both offer an insight into Old Delhi (we’ll walk and take rickshaws). Find out more here

 

 

Your Ultimate Guide to Craft Shops in New York

by Nicole Farrell

New York is a shopper's paradise and the garment district and surrounding streets has plenty to offer. My first stop was the iconic M & J Trimming, established in 1936.

  

This shop is wall to wall ribbons. I used to own Craft Queen which stocked Australia's largest range of ribbons online but this was something else! Image every ribbon you've ever seen in one place. It was difficult to know where to look first!

I love that the ribbons were organised into colours and styles.

  

M & J also stock a wide range of buttons. 

  

 M & J Trimming can be found at 1008 Sixth Ave, New York.

My next shop was East Coast Trimming Corp. It had a vintage feel and also had an amazing range and selection.

Look at this amazing colour range.

 

East Coast Trimming Corp is at 142 West 38th Street, New York

The Garment District of New York has a treasure trove of fabric and textile shops.

  

Look at the range of zippers!

Also worth a visit are these quilting shops:

Gotham Quilts - 40B W 37th Street, New York

Victoria Findlay Wolfe Quilts - 325 W 38th Street #803 (8th floor) New York

 

Top 10 Travel Money Mistakes To Avoid

by Nicole Farrell

Let's face it, money is essential when you travel. Get it wrong and your trip can be a disaster. I've made a list of 10 money mistakes I see people make when travelling overseas.

1. Only taking one source of money - If something goes wrong, like loosing your ATM card, then you have no access to money. I recommend carrying multiple cards and cash as a back up. It's better to be safe than sorry, especially when you are in a foreign country. In some countries, such as India and China, ATMs often don't work and some are not available for International customers. It is a waste of time searching for a functioning ATM. Trust me, I have sometimes tried up to 10 ATMs when doing business in China!

 

2. Not knowing the conversion rate - Before you depart research the local currency and if possible, arrange some cash before you travel. Sometimes in countries such as India, it is not possible to obtain local money until you arrive. In that case, find an ATM in the airport and make sure you are familiar with the notes before leaving the airport.

My favourite app for currency conversion is Currencyapp. It is simple to use, caters for 150 currencies and can be used offline.

If the exchange rate is tricky to remember or convert, I suggest making a chart to keep in your wallet. It will help for the first few days when everything is new. We provide these on our tours! 

  

3. Using your ATM card - While this is possible, there are often additional hidden costs. Most banks charge a withdrawal fee AND a currency conversion fee and these can add up. To minimise fees, I always take the maximum amount of cash at a time. In some countries this is only $200 which does not go far when travelling (and shopping!).

For Australian travellers, this Canstar report, ranks the travel cards according to pricing and features. It is worth a read. These cards often have lower fees and some are linked to frequent flyer programs. 

4. Don't put all of your eggs in one basket - Well not literally! I keep money in a few places when I travel. I stash a large note in my toiletry bag, keep another one in my sock or bra and spread my cash between different pockets in my purse and bag. If I do drop my money or my purse is stolen, I'll always have some cash with me.

 

5. Paying the first price - I lived in Asia for eight years and like to shop so quickly learnt to bargain! I would describe myself as hard but fair and I like to keep the interaction light hearted and fun so I joke or smile to help with my negotiating! In many countries, it is part of daily life and expected. On tour I am happy to help with prices and bargaining. 

These photos are from the souks of Marrakesh where bargaining is half the fun!

   

6. Not knowing how much to tip - Being Australian I am not used to tipping and find it awkward. I usually ask around and then decide on the appropriate amount. I always tip more in poorer countries and try to ensure the money goes directly to the person rather than the organisation. On our tours, we have a bag for coins and small notes and let our local guide take care of giving to beggars or those less fortunate. 

7. Not having an understanding of costs before arriving - It is always a good idea to organise an airport transfer prior to arrival. If you haven't pre-booked,  I recommend researching online to estimate the cost of a taxi. I find airports, train and bus stations can sometimes attract less than honest members of the community. I also never go with people who approach me in these public places. I prefer to wait in line and hopefully get a more reputable driver.

8. Not learning the local language - I always try and learn a few basic phrases. I have 10 words of Mandarin including 'too expensive' and 'how much?' These simple phrases of Mandarin have saved me lots of money over the years! Locals love it when you try to speak their language.

9. Forgetting to notify your bank of travel plans - This is becoming increasingly important as banks and credit card companies try to reduce fraud. A quick phone call prior to departure can avoid any problems. We have prepared the ultimate pre-departure checklist to help ensure you are organised and ready for your next adventure. Download your free printable copy today and you'll save time and your sanity!

10. Using public wi-fi for financial transactions - These networks are often not secure so it is advisable to avoid using them for online banking.

Do you have any money travel tips? Pop over to our facebook page and share them with us! Safe travels! Nicole