If you’re an avid social media user and like to be in-the-know when it comes to the world of travel, there’s a good chance that you’ve come across ‘Of Travels and Tales‘ on Instagram. The Abu Dhabi based travel influencers share their adventures through colourful photographs as they traverse the globe and have amassed over 100,000 avid followers in the process. Their account covers everything from city breaks to off the beaten path gems, covering 49 countries over 6 continents so far! We catch up with Delaine and Jackson to talk about all things travel and to learn how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their plans.
How did you get started in the world of travel?
It all started with our first-ever trip to Thailand in 2010 right after we got married. We were so impressed with Thai cuisine and culture that we felt the urge to travel more and a feeling of wanting to see more. After we returned back home, we felt that something was missing in our lives and thought that the only thing that would bring us real happiness would be hopping on another plane. Rather than over-spending on unnecessary things at home, we began to save money for future trips.
Do you prefer the beach, city or culture holidays?
We definitely prefer a mix of all three and make sure that the countries we visit have a bit of everything. Some good examples would be Croatia, Mexico and Italy. We love beautiful beaches but tend to get bored easily if we don’t see some real action. The same goes for big cities. We love the hustle and bustle of a big city but need a break once in a while. When we visit a country, we want to be able to experience everything. That’s the reason we spend anything between 10 days to 2 weeks there so that we can see as much as possible.
Where is your favourite place to travel on a budget?
It’s hard to pick only one country because most of Eastern Europe and Latin America can be seen on a budget. For us living in UAE though, airline tickets to Central and South America can cost a lot, however, once you’re in the country, everything is reasonable. As for Eastern European countries, we do have a lot of budget airlines from the UAE, such as Wizz Air. One of our favourite countries which we so sceptical about visiting at first was Hungary. The capital Budapest has so much to see, and you can easily have a nice meal for AED 20. It is a pocket-friendly destination.
How did you know you had ‘made it’ as travel influencers?
When people started consulting us before planning their trips, we knew that we’d made it. We started the Instagram account in 2013 to share our random travel photos with friends. Little did we know what we would inspire many people. We get a lot of messages from people telling us about how they got to know of a particular location because of our Instagram. This makes us very happy and gives us a sense of fulfilment.
When you are on location, do you have a strict routine?
For the majority of the countries, yes we do. We plan a day-to-day itinerary before our trip and make sure that we follow it so as to try and avoid wasting time. We’ve already spent a lot on air tickets and know that we would be spending even more during our trip, so we want to see as much as we can. At times, it can get a bit hectic, especially when we have to wake up at 4am, walk or drive around the entire day and return to the hotel at 10pm. We have to admit though, things do not always go as planned – we miss trains, we get stuck in traffic, we lose our way, but again, this is a part of travelling as well.
What are your top travel tips?
1. While booking air tickets or hotels, compare prices on various websites, including hotels or airlines websites. And pre-pay as much as possible to avoid any extra charges.
2. Buy a local sim card wherever you go. It will be cheaper than using an international sim card, a portable device, or your own phone for roaming.
3. Research a country thoroughly before visiting. We do not mean just preparing an itinerary but rather every aspect of a country, particularly its safety. It’s better to be cautious and well prepared for anything.
Have you had to cancel travel plans due to Covid-19?
We had trips planned for the entire year but nothing booked for after April. However, we had a trip booked to Malta during the last week of March and had to cancel it. We planned this trip in January and we were so excited about it. All our hotels were booked, and we intended on driving around the country. We even changed the airlines twice before the trip to avoid transiting through countries that were severely affected back then. Ultimately, borders were closed, and we had no choice.
How do you think COVID-19 has affected the future of travel?
Once borders open, people may be a bit hesitant to travel. Especially families with young children and people with certain medical conditions. You can practice social distancing while you are at home but certainly not on a plane or in a tourist attraction. It’s hard to avoid crowds. As a result of this, businesses such as airlines, hotels and tour operators may suffer losses or have to offer big discounts to attract customers. Basically, COVID-19 has crippled the one thing that connected people.
Have you visited anywhere that you would want to return to over and over again?
Japan! We visited Japan over 4 years ago during spring and fell in love with the country and the people. It’s quite strange because there was a language barrier and we hardly understood each other, but the people went out of their way to help us. Japanese culture is so unique. How often do you come across a country where there’s pin-drop silence on public transport? Another country that we’d love to return to is Iceland! When we visited Iceland last year, it felt like we were on a different planet. The landscape is unlike anything we had ever seen. Iceland is also the most expensive country we’ve been to, but it was so worth it.
As soon as it is safe to travel, where is next on your list?
It’s going to be hard to decide as we need to assess the situation in every country before we visit. If things go well, we’ll probably take a road-trip along the West Coast of the USA or make that trip to Malta that we did not manage to complete.
If you were given an open ticket to travel anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?
There’s only one continent that we haven’t set foot onto yet, and that is Antarctica. As weird as it sounds, it would probably be Antarctica. It’s literally at the end of the world. We’ve heard that a cruise from Argentina to Antarctica costs over 6000 USD. Let’s not forget additional expenses such as the airline fare from UAE to Argentina. We might need to win the lottery for this to happen. Once we visit Antarctica, we can proudly say that we’ve been to all 7 continents. We need to tick this off our bucket list. ✤
GO: Visit http://oftravelsandtales.weebly.com and check out all the latest travel information, city guides and destination reviews. Follow Delaine and Jackson on Instagram @oftravelsandtales_ for more travel inspiration.