Cambridge Travel Guide for Backpackers

Whether you’re on a budget or not, if you are thinking of travelling through Cambridge, England anytime soon, you might want to read this Cambridge travel guide before you go.

I’m living in Cambridge, UK as I type this and I’ve been here for over a year now; I leave in one in half months for my first ever solo travel. This is why I thought I’d make this my first post.

What better place to start then the very beautiful city you currently live in?!

This guide is more intended for the backpacker than the holiday goer but Cambridge isn’t cheap, if you know where to look and go though, you can have a great time visiting the museums, botanical gardens, Universities and Colleges and much more!

How to get to Cambridge

Getting to Cambridge all depends on where you are coming from, and your budget.

Stansted Airport

If you are flying, Stansted Airport is the closest airport to Cambridge. There is a direct train which is very easy to find that departs for Cambridge regularly. Trains take between 30 – 40 minutes and the price ranges from £9.50 to £12.50 depending on the time of day you go. There is also a bus option which I will explain in the next section.

Bus and Coach

There are buses that run to Cambridge from Birmingham, London, Milton Keynes, Oxford and Stansted Airport. You need to decide what is the best form of transport for you, but using buses will be your cheapest option.

All of the buses arrive and depart at the coach stop on Drummer Street and Emmanuel Street which are right next to each other and are in the very centre of the city. To check all prices and times the best place to go is the National Express website, which you can find here.

Train

Cambridge has a very good train service and is easy to find. With a lot of connections to London, Stansted Airport and East Anglia, using trains is easily the quickest option if you are in a hurry There are three main Rail Lines;

Cross Country – This is a direct link between Stansted Airport and Birmingham, this is the quickest line for anyone travelling from Birmingham or Stansted or anywhere in between.

National Express East Anglia – This train runs to London Liverpool Street. They also have trains running in the Ely / Norwich direction.

First Capital Express – Trains to London Kings Cross (Can also be spelt London Kings X), also trains to Ely and Kings Lynn. To be honest, I’ve never paid much attention to the railway line I was using and I’ve used trains a lot in Cambridge! I tend to use the National Rail website to check live times and prices before I leave.

Local Transport

If you need to use a bus to get around Cambridge then Stage Coach is your best option. You can get a day pass for £3.30 which is valid all day and can be used as many times as you need on all Cambridge Stagecoach Buses. Buses run every 10 – 20 mins.

Accommodation

Staying in Cambridge can be expensive, the cheapest place I know about is the YHA, it’s a hostel and it has very good reviews. Prices are about £20 a night. If you want a hotel they can be at the very least £75 a night up to the £400 mark, yikes! This is why if you are a budget backpacker, staying at the YHA Cambridge Hostel is by far your best bet.It’s only a 5 minute walk from the train station and a 15 minute walk from the city centre.

Food and Drink

There are many places in Cambridge to get breakfast, lunch and dinner, with plenty of places to buy snacks, but it isn’t cheap, except to pay at least £5 for a good meal. Check out this website for a great guide on the cheapest places to eat in Cambridge, England.

Things To Do / See

This section could get pretty long as there are many things to do, from visiting museums, gallery’s, universities and colleges to partying in some of the clubs. I have to admit, the nightlife in Cambridge isn’t the best but most people visit Cambridge for the attractions rather than to party.

Museums

The Fitzwilliam Museum – Free

If art and antiquities is your thing then the Fitz Museum is for you.

Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences – Free

This is the Cambridge University museum of Geology.

University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology – Free

Self-Explanatory!

Whipple Museum – Free

The History of Science

County Folk Museum – Free

For the Folk lovers

Museum of Classical Archaeology – Free

Another Museum from the CU.

Scott Polar Museum – Free

History of the science in the Antarctic exploration

Museum of Zoology – Closed until 2016

Galleries

Kettles Yard – Free

One of the best art galleries in Cambridge

New Hall Art Collection – Free

Close to the Fitz Museum

Pubs and Clubs

There are many beautiful pubs and a few clubs in Cambridge if you fancy a bit of night life.

Fez Club

Probably the most popular club for students, normally £3 to £5 entry.

The Fountain

This is a day time pub and turns into a club at night, it’s one of the more popular places in Cambridge, and depending on what you like, this could be the best place for. I’d have to say it’s my favourite place to go when there is a decent night happening.

The King Street Run

My favourite pub, not for everyone, but has a great atmosphere!

The Regal This is the cheapest place in Cambridge to get a drink, always free entry and located on Regent street.

For more information on the best pubs and clubs in Cambridge have a look at the VisitCambridge website.

Punting

Most punting places charge from around £14.00 for adults and £7 for kids. Here are some of the most popular places to go punting in Cambridge.

The Cambridge Punting Company – guided punt tours along the backs of the historical Cambridge University. Cambridge Chauffeur Punts – See the famous bridges and colleges along the River Cam.

Let’s Go Punting – private and shared Chauffeured River Tours of Cambridge.

Scudamores Punting – College backs punting.

Botanic Gardens

The botanic gardens in Cambridge, opened in 1846 and hosts plants from all over the world inside 40-acres of gardens and glasshouses! It cost £4.50 for admission.

Historical walks

If you are interested in the history of Cambridge and its walks I would recommend this website, it has detailed maps and lots of information!

What is a Flashpacker? 10 Traits That Separate Flashpackers From Backpackers

As promised, here are what I see as some of the defining elements of flashpacking. (Please excuse the HUGE generalizations. It’s all in fun!) These generalizations come from my reading experience and about 10 flashpackers I’ve met in SE Asia so far (which is to say I don’t know too many, so I’m interested to hear from more of you!). Most flashpackers I’ve come in contact with has been through the blogosphere.

1. Flashpackers are NOT a sub-set of backpackers. Backpackers being defined here as those who travel on a strict budgets, use backpacks, and prefer traveling experiences over touring experiences (a distinction that is like the problem of evil discussion in philosophy, mix two beers and you could go at it all night long). In my experience, the different attunements to money make the two fundamentally different types of travelers. Flashpackers will, for example, stay in a super budget hotel, but splurge on the famous restaurant in town. Therefore the fundamental credo of the backpacker might be to seek out budget experiences that are “locally authentic” (in the best cases), whereas the credo of the flashpacker would be to seek out high value experiences that are personally interesting.

2. Flashpackers have mobile income or more budget then they could expect to spend during their allotted travel time. This is perhaps the most critical difference-flashpackers have been defined before as merely backpackers with money, and the money element is what is generally the driving the key differences between flashpackers and their backpacking counterparts.

3. Flashpackers seek out high value experiences and services. Whereas a tourist might seek high convenience, or highly transparent experience (understandable or pre-arranged) and the backpacker seeks budget experience-whatever is cheaper. Flashpackers seek a high value for their dollars. Yesterday I shared 30 minutes of my morning walk with a backpacker (just off the bus with two huge bags, must have been over 50 lbs of stuff, this seems to be about the average for backpackers) on the SE Asia circuit looking for a hotel room-she must have spent an extra 2 hours trying to save 2 dollars (or 1 pound for her) on accommodation. The flashpacker, with a more flexible budget, would have traded 1 dollar for 2 extra hours of exploration. The flashpacker will also stay at a luxury resort if it’s a good value and an interesting experience-whereas backpackers might eschew this experience as in-authentic.

4. Flashpackers have business or career experience. In general, this seems true. Two things seem to fall out from this-most flashpackers I’ve meet are trolling up a million business ideas, foreign lands are an ideal place to cross fertilize business ideas and create high value outcomes and partnerships. Also, flashpackers tend to be more skilled negotiators-backpackers will trudge around town all day looking to save a dollar-a flashpackers will learn how to save 25% off their hotel by using the right strategy.

5. Flashpackers are more experienced. Most flashpackers are former backpackers who caught the bug, turned it into a science, and managed to create a lifestyle out of constant traveling. A standard mold for flashpackers is essentially former backpackers who now have some money.

6. Flashpackers carry 50 dollars instead of 50 pounds (of luggage). Two days from now I get on a plane to fly to Hanoi, where the winter season is starting. My first order of business will be to get a warm jacket and hat.

7. Flashpackers are concerned about the time value of their money. Because they have more freedom with their budget, flashpackers are more likely to rent cars or use budget airlines than take more time consuming travel options.

8. Flashpackers are often on career breaks. If they haven’t yet managed to have mobile streams of income through companies, many flashpackers are living off of a good amount of savings and tend to have at least some small assets.

9. Flashpackers travel with toys. Laptop, phone, MP3 player, video camera, SLR camera, you name it. Flashpackers are digitized and connected to the world.

10. Flashpackers are FAST and FLEXIBLE– a more often than not, LIGHT. Their flexibility with budget, and efficiency with digital communications, allows them to use “GIT” or “get it there” techniques to keep their packs light and efficient. If the average pack weight for a backpacker is 40-50lbs, flashpackers are would average about 20lbs.

Travel Insurance For Backpackers And Hikers

If you have a tour in your mind and you want to travel the free way, a good backpacker travel insurance policy is a thing you must consider before tour. Backpacking trips are bit riskier than regular planned travels. So in such case good backpacker travel insurance becomes a mandatory criterion for a hassle free tour.

Most of the insurers don’t know all the benefits of insurance as they are unaware but these insurance policies help a traveler in many ways.

A Backpacker insurance policy is basically for those who are low on budget. You don’t have to pay high for regular insurance policy but you will surely get the essential coverage with backpackers travel insurance policy. It covers you and your luggage at very less cost, as this type of insurance is designed for backpackers who are known for their low budgeted and unplanned travel schedules.

Before going through you must know backpacker insurance policy and its features.

Features provided by backpacker travel insurance

There are some important features and coverage that backpacker travel insurance policy can provide, these are as follows;

  • In case if you have to extend you trip due to any unexpected reason, backpacker insurance covers it too.
  • You get all covers round the clock all the year no matter what time or circumstances are there.
  • If you get sick during you trip, all the medical expenses will be covered by backpacker insurance providers. Most of the time such insurance policies also covers personal incidents that occur during travel (please confirm this before buying insurance policy from you insurance provider).
  • Many travel insurance firms provide option to opt out which they don’t want to be covered and ask for the things which they want to be covered. This flexibility is an added advantage for insurers.
  • Many travel insurance firms provide the option to the insurer that what they really want to be covered in their policy. This flexibility is an added advantage for insurers.
  • Many backpacker tours for winter sports, some travel for scuba diving. Such adventurous sports have high risks involved which can lead you to physical damages. Covers for such sports are also available as an optional measure. You can add such sports covers in your existing insurance for added safety.
  • You can extend you insurance any time with a single click sitting at your home in front of your computer.
  • Make sure that insurance policy covers the location in which you are planning to travel. Some travel insurance companies provide insurance policies only for a certain country.

Now the biggest which every travelers generally asks is “Do I really need a backpacker insurance policy? And is it really worth it? “

Backpacker travel insurance is surely recommended for you if you fell into any of these categories

  • You travel alone at places which are expected.
  • Your travel schedule is unexpected and never planned.
  • You have medical history or you are above 50 years of age.

Backpacking is surely an adventurous trip but it has its own risks too. Backpackers are very prone to injuries, robbery and related issues. There are some possible issues in which backpackers can easily get coverage. These are as follows:

Tour cancellation – Trips are cancelled many times due to many issues. Sometimes due to bad weather and sometimes due to some personal reason, one has to cancel his/her trip.

Emergency medical care – backpackers are very much prone to issue like food poisoning, diarrhea and other infections. Such diseases can lead to serious health issues which can be covered by purchasing insurance.

Accidents – accidents are common and can be occur at any time. Insurance not only covers for your injury but also the person affected by your mistake.

Theft or robbery – backpacker usually travel alone. They also stay at budget hotels. All this makes them prone to things like baggage theft and robbery.

Considering the current global scenario which is quite unsafe, having proper backpacker travel insurance is very necessary.

A backpacker insurance policy can be a great help for every traveler who wants to travel the free way. So what are you waiting for? Get a backpacker travel insurance for yourself and roam free