Monday, 27 March 2017

My 15 top travel tips for India.

This is my second post in my Travel series, In this post I am going to share my best 15 tips that I recommend when travelling in India.




The best time to travel to India is between October- March, this is when the weather is at its best. India is a very large country and there is so much to see and do that you really need to plan your itinerary to cover small sections of the country. This year we planned our trip to see Rajasthan. India is very diverse, there is a huge difference in the lifestyle and mentality of people. Large cities in India are very cosmopolitan and modern and are in par with western countries but in the rural towns and villages people still have orthodox beliefs and follow traditional lifestyle and customs.

My 15 top travel tips for India:

1. If you are staying in a hotel that has a safety deposit box, store your passports and extra money in there and only carry what you need for daily use on person. If there is no safe then invest in a bum bag or body belt to keep your pass ports and extra cash safe on person.

2. Be careful and discreet when taking money in and out of your purse. Have two purses one with a small amount of cash to spend in the day and a second purse securely placed at the bottom of your rucksack / shoulder bag with the remaining spare cash.( Tip pin your purse to the lining of your bag with a nappy pin, this way no pickpocket will be able to take easily it even if they tried.)


3. Do not wear skimpy cloths, not all places in India are modern, avoid shorts, miniskirts and vest tops. Be warned people will stare, they find foreigners intriguing, my advice is to fit in and not draw attention to yourself. In India you can get really nice cotton trousers and cotton kurta tops for a few pounds. Purchase a few and wear them, they are comfortable and keep you cool too.





4. Wear comfortable shoes, roads and pavements are uneven and lots of tourist places have dirt tracks and are in remote places.

5. Carry a thin shawl / scarf with you, many religious places will expect you to cover your head as a mark of respect. Be respectful in religious places.

6. Carry a couple of pairs of cheap cotton socks, you are not allowed to wear shoes in temples and mosques, you will need to take them off. It’s much nicer to walk with socks than bare feet and you can discard the socks if they get dirty, keeping your feet clean.

7. A lot of tourist spots charge for using cameras, the charge is a couple of pounds at the most. Some temples / forts do not allow photography or filming be respectful and don't abuse the system.

8. When taking pictures of locals, do ask permission, a lot of them will happily let you take a photo although don't be surprised if they ask you for payment. Generally a ten rupee note will keep them happy that is about 15 pence!!!





9. Carry a bottle of water with you at all times as it can get rather hot and you should keep hydrated.

10. Toilet facilities in India are not the best so be prepared and carry a toilet roll, antibacterial wipes and hand sanitiser in your bag.

11. In India unless you are in government run shops or large department stores where prices are fixed, it’s normal to haggle. The rule of thumb is to offer half of the asking price and haggle from there.

12. Take care when you get approached by beggars, if you give to one, in less than a blink you will be surrounded with more than you can manage. Do not encourage it although seeing small children begging is heart breaking.

13. In most tourist spots you will be harassed with tour guides, only use government approved ones that carry an official Id.

14. Travelling in rickshaws is dirt cheap but hold onto for your life, there are no seat belts or doors and always hold tight your belonging do not leave them unattended.

15. Last but not the least, be careful with food. Although street food looks tempting it can give you a bad tummy, there are no food safety standards in India, and you never know how long the food has been sweltering in the heat. Also do not add ice to your drinks and make sure if you enjoy a glass of sugarcane juice on the streets its not diluted with tap water.



Above all go with the flow, in India nothing happens in a hurry, be patient, traffic stops to let animals pass, people skim in and out of traffic and there are no highway code rules. People in India are happy, they are really friendly and welcome tourists, so respect their country and people and you will have the most amazing experience of your life.

To follow my India travel series do check out my previous post:


Rishikesh

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

7 things to make your tax return easy to complete.


Image courtesy of clipartfest.com

Tax returns are not everyone's cup of tea, they are time consuming, stressful and really require good book keeping to ensure all is in order. 

My top 7 tips for a stress free tax return are:

1. If it is your first time as a self employed person, then make sure you register in plenty of time as it takes a few weeks to set things up with HMRC.

2. Have a folder with a section for each month where you keep your receipts, annotate details of expenses and tally them up on a monthly basis. I also take photos of my receipts and up load them in a folder called receipts on my computer.

3. Create a separate folder on your computer for your tax return for each year so that all your yearly Tax return documents are saved in one place.

4. Create spread sheet (1) on the computer call it "Earnings", I find Excel a good programme to use. Have a column for each month and record your earnings. Tally them at the end of each month.

4. Create a second spread sheet (2) and call it "Expenses", create a column for each month and record your expenses.Tally them at the end of each month.

5. Create a third spread sheet (3) and call it "Invoices" in this sheet keep a record of all your invoices, who they were sent to, date they were sent, and the date you were paid. Tally them at the end of each month.

6.  Keep your spread sheets updated regularly so that you do not forget any thing. At the end of your tax year all you need to do is add each months details to get your yearly tax expenses and earnings.

7.  Do not procrastinate over tax matters if you update regularly there will not be a last minute panic.


Many people employ an accountant to do all the hard work but bear in mind that accountants are not super human and they can only help you as much as you help your self. If you keep good records then all you need to do at the end of the year is to pass all the details to your accountant for them to do your tax return. There are many accountancy companies that will do your tax return for you, one particular company that offers this service is Brighton accountants Plummer Parsons. It's always a good idea to chat to your accountant, they will offer you lots of good advise and help to make your life easy. Some accountants even offer ready made templates for you to record your income and expenses.

Finally remember that you must put aside some of your income on a monthly basis to pay the tax man, otherwise you will be in a big shock when the bill comes!!

*collaborative post

Thursday, 16 March 2017

10 essentials to pack in your carry on airline bag.


In February I finally achieved my dream of travelling around Rajasthan India. It was the most amazing experience and I am going to share my journey through a series of blog posts. What I learnt is that to enjoy your trip, travel light and be organised. In this post I am going to share 10 essentials that one should make sure you carry in your airline bag.
I highly recommend that you choose your carry on hand luggage that is practical light weight and fits within the airline size guide.


Image courtesy of https://www.skyscanner.net/

Choose a lightweight trolley bag or backpack. I would advise to pack light and only carry basic essentials, its often very tempting to take unnecessary items that just adds weight, the less you have to carry the more relaxed you will be.


My top 10 tips are:


1. Carry a small cross over handbag to hold important documents such as passports, tickets, phone and money. This will enable you to have your most important possessions on person at all times. Some airlines only allow one piece of hand luggage you can easily pop your crossover bag in your trolley bag whilst going through security checks and then you can remove it and carry on person.


2. Keep a paper list of emergency contacts, photocopies of passports and important documents such as insurance details in case you lose your phone or important documents. 

3. Keep pens and small notebook you may be required to fill in a customs form on the aircraft before landing.

4. Pack a book or tablet to keep you occupied.


5. Pack a light weight jacket, pasmina or shawl as it can be rather cold on an aeroplane and I would highly recommend flight socks also  as they will stop you getting swollen ankles.

6. Carry a portable battery pack and chargers and headphones. If you find having a pillow useful take with you the inflated one that can be deflated for easy storing.


7. Pack some energy snacks such as cereal bars in case of delays and some boiled sweets to suck in case your ears pop during takeoff and landing.





8. Pack paracetamol, ibuprofen, hand sanitiser (make sure not bigger than 100 ml), tissues and antibacterial wipes.



9. Lightweight change of clothing for long haul flights; t shirt, trousers, under cloths and socks. ( I always carry a toothbrush, spare pair of glasses too.)

10. Last but not least I always purchase a bottle of water to take onto the aircraft with me once I have checked in. It is very important to keep hydrated when travelling.

I find that having these items in my carry on really useful and it makes travelling comfortable knowing I have all my basic essentials with me. Also don't forget to weigh your hand luggage prior to leaving home to make sure it is within the weight allowed for the airline you are travelling with.

When travelling are there any items that you find useful to carry, do let me know your tips and suggestions in the comments section.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Easter Egg Decorations~Bostik Bloggers 2017



As a child I have fond memories of painting boiled eggs for Easter. We also used to dye the eggs and create marbled patterns on them. This year in the Bostik box there were some polystyrene Easter Eggs, they were perfect for decorating so Little M and I created some sparkly Easter Egg decorations. They make the perfect table centre for a Easter themed table setting.


To create these decorations you will need:

Polysterene Easter Eggs
Bostik Glue
Glitter (colour of your choice)
Polythene bag
Ribbons
Stick on gems

1. Using a brush spread glue all over the egg.
2. Place the glued egg into the polythene bag and sprinkle it all over with the glitter, shake the bag to cover the eggs fully. This is the easiest way to coat the eggs with glitter without getting a glittery mess every where.



3. Remove the egg from the bag and leave the glitter to dry fully.



4. Tie a decorative ribbon around the egg.





5. Stick on the gems to finish the eggs.



Being part of the Bostik 2017 bloggers with Tots100 and Merrily Crafts, I was sent some craft items in a box to create this project.


Sunday, 5 March 2017

Easter Treats Basket- Bostik Bloggers 2017


This is the second year I am part of the Bostik bloggers, its really fun to receive themed craft boxes and create kids crafts with my niece little M.The box this month is themed Easter, it may sound like its too early for Easter craft but I am posting this post in time so that you have plenty of time to get the required equipment to create your own treat baskets in time for Easter.

On this blustery sunday afternoon little M arrived wrapped in her hat and scarf. She was really excited to get crafting so after a glass of warm turmeric milk as she was full of cold, I let her look through the box. She really enjoyed decorating the cut out bunny and the polystyrene Easter eggs.








Little M and I also made some 3 d chocolate Easter bunnies and Easter eggs using a silicon mould and some milk chocolate.






While the 3d chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs were setting in the fridge we made a lovely Easter treat basket that we filled with Easter Easter Chicks, chocolate bunnies and chocolate Easter Eggs for her to take home.





To make the Easter Treats Basket you will need:

2 sheets of printed paper 6 x 6 inches
1 piece ribbon 10 inched long
Pencil
Ruler
Bostik Glue
Scissors
Easter decorations
Shredded tisue paper/straw
Chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies

To see how to make the Easter Treats Basket please watch the video below.








Little M was really excited to take home her 3 d chocolate treats and the lovely Easter treats basket we made. These activities do require adult supervision but they are simple to make and keeps kids entertained whilst making some lovely homemade gifts which are a pleasure to receive.

  
Being part of the Bostik 2017 bloggers with Tots100 and Merrily Crafts, I was sent some craft items in a box to create this project.

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