My husband and I have decided to drive our camper van back to Australia via Asia. We’re not sure which route to take (specifically, whether to go through Kazakhstan or Mongolia). Can you help, and can you suggest any good companies to ship our camper from Asia to Australia?
Ella, via email
There are a number of safety concerns with travel to Kazakhstan: most recently, the town of Zhanaozen has been the site of unrest, and you should not travel to Shepte. If you do choose to drive across Kazakhstan, you should keep abreast of the political situation as there have also been clashes elsewhere in the country.
I would recommend going through Mongolia where there are no restrictions. However, this will involve further driving within Russia which also has some travel restrictions right now. The north Caucasus and the area bordering Georgia should be avoided. Also, you will need an international driving licence to drive in Mongolia and the Ukraine, and in Russia you are advised to have a Russian translation of your UK driving licence.
To transport your campervan, you should be aware that it will be pricey! Excess Baggage (excess-baggage.com) is an established firm: their average shipping cost for this starts at around £4000.
When you have decided your route, you will need to confirm vehicle import restrictions for the countries you are travelling to.
I am planning a short break this spring to Budapest. I have never been before, so what would you recommend as must-sees? We are on a budget.
Matt, via email
Budapest can easily be enjoyed on a budget. It’s a largely walkable city and you can see a number of the major sights in just a few days. Spend a morning in the castle district and start out at the Royal Palace, where you will find an ornate building steeped in history; it’s packed with monuments, statues and two museums. You will have to pay to enter some attractions in the palace, such as The History Museum (£3.60) and the National Gallery (£3.80), so it’s worth prioritising your time and money according to your personal interests.
Then head to the nearby Fisherman’s Bastion. This beautiful Disney castle-esque structure is not only a great sight but also provides some of the best views of the city. Next, stroll along the Danube to view the stunning parliamentary building – one of the world’s best looking centres of government.
After all of that exploring, opt for a second day of relaxation at the Széchenyi Baths (budapestgyogyfurdoi.hu). The largest medicinal bath extant in Europe, its ornate yellow building is stunning and entry is under £10. Then stroll around the lush green of City Park and down to top tourist sight Heroes’ Square. If you want to indulge in some shopping, pedestrianised street Váci utca is the place to go.
Song of a sarong
Always travel with a sarong! A sarong can be a towel, a picnic rug, a sheet, a blanket, rain protector, a piece of clothing (scarf, dress, skirt, bolero or top), a pillow, and I’m sure there are many more uses. It is light and will always fit in your backpack/ suitcase. Plus it dries quick! Bonus!
Keira Douglas, via email
Go go gadgets
A reusable fold-up plastic water bottle by Platypus can be refilled at drinking fountains and save you a lot of money. Also get yourself a Kindle, and then you won’t need to carry heavy paperbacks everywhere on your trip. Happy travelling!
Brita Bevis, via Facebook