Guide to female solo backpacking

What a daunting thought? Even writing it now I have to ask myself ‘was I mad?’ but of course we all know that I wasn’t mad at all, in fact I was mad to have not done it sooner!

Being a female solo backpacker has its many perks as well as raising a lot of issues you would never have thought about otherwise!

IMG_3183Firstly, you have to think about yourself! Sounds obvious right? I find that when you are alone for an extended period of time you get used to meeting new people and you just kind of go along with whatever they want to do for the company. Make sure you do what you want as well! I can’t stress enough how much stronger and confident you will become whilst backpacking solo, so instead of being that person that just goes with the flow, make the flow follow you!

Don’t forget you might have better ideas than everyone else and then the people you meet will want to come along with you because most the time, no one actually knows what they’re doing!

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Hostels. A massive hurdle for any first time backpacker to overcome (unless you have heaps of money that is, but then are you really backpacking in 5* resorts, I think not). Now the question your faced with, do you spend that extra few pounds, dollar, baht or rupee to get that female dorm? Most of the time it’s not needed although it is a bit strange if the hostel is like the above photo and you wake up facing some big hairy Fijian man! Before I left I was freaking about staying in a dorm with strange smelly men that I’ve never met before but in all  honestly, you get used to it! Don’t forget if it is that bad then you can just change rooms or leave the next day? Not a problem at all! Oh and lets not forget, girls can be weird and smelly too!

IMG_5107Further on hostels, you are more than likely going to stay in a few places that are not what you call, how do I say this? Fit for human life to live in? Okay that’s a joke, but they are going to be pretty dire. Just laugh about it! What more can you do? It is all part of the experience! This bathroom, WOW. That bucket you see, yeah that is how you flush the toilet and worms would come out the tiles on the floor when you showered. It was a delight!

Going back to that a previous paragraph and the part about freaking out, that happens. Just keep your whits about you, try and keep a level head and your be fine! Just be aware of your surroundings, if something seems odd, chances are it is! Your a smart, independent woman at this stage you will be able to get yourself out of that situation, just be confident!

IMG_5034Last but not least, have fun! Don’t spend your time worrying about what other people are doing or thinking, don’t worry if your hair is turning to dreadlocks (although the whole world does have coconut oil pretty much and that will sort it out) Hey, don’t even worry if something gets lost or stolen, I mean it’s a pain but there is not one thing that can’t be solved! You will learn to overcome any problems that arise and by the end of it you will look back and those things won’t matter as long as you have had the best time possible!

So if your at that place where your thinking about going, your thinking about travel and worried about doing it yourself, just do it. Worst comes to worst and you really hate it, you can just go home! Your never know if you like it unless you try!
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Making the move!

Woooooow it’s been a while since I’ve written anything on here and that being for a good reason! For any of you that don’t know, I’ve taken the plunge, packed up my life as I thought I knew and made the massive step of moving to Australia!!!

I know this is a common thing for us Brits to do a ‘gap year’ (although this is usually between studies which I haven’t actually done) and head over to the land down under where I am now part of the 2.5 million UK tourists in this wonderful country!

When I got home (home?) after my last travels, I landed to the cold, winter, greyness of the UK and instantly felt strange. I didn’t feel like I fitted in any more, in this place that I had lived my whole life, a place I have friends and family, a house and a job. Yet this wasn’t where I wanted to be, in fact I wanted to be anywhere other than there! I  just knew that seeing new places was what I wanted to be doing!

So there I was, day 2 of landing in the UK after months of being away, handing in my notice over lunch to my manager whilst still dreaming of the Thai adventures and Bali sunsets I had just left behind, mentally planning my next adventure!

I had to move out of my house, not realising how much junk I had actually collected over the years, arrange someone to move in, arrange adult things like gas inspections and mortgages. I’m telling you now, after only having to think about what to eat that day and finding places to stay this was WAYYYY  harder than I had thought, my brain had just stopped working like it used to. In fact everything about me completely changed from when I left the first time to when I went home.

On the 13th February, exactly 31 days after I touched down on UK soil I was off again!

IMG_4536.JPGNext thing I know, BAM, I’m in Australia, Perth to be exact. The heat is just something else, well I have got used to it now but that first few days, my god I was sweating like crazy after being in freezing temperatures for a month, it’s strange how quickly your body can adjust to different climates! So there I am, feeling groggy and jet lagged, desperate for a shower and a glass of ice cold water (or cider) I am ready to see what this place has to offer.

IMG_4514Margaret River is where we decided to set up base, about 3 hours south of Perth City. I was completely swept of my feet when I got here! The relaxed atmosphere, the beach, the kangaroos, you name it! Camper vans and 4×4 everywhere you look, winery that scream at you to come and taste their award winning wines, local food markets and outdoor cinemas. Do you understand why I wanted to come here now? This place is just an adventure in itself!
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IMG_6930.JPGStraight away I went and bought myself my own little 4×4… which is currently trying to die on me already but we won’t worry about that until it actually happens right? This gave me the freedom to escape to the beach whenever I wanted, to find new places to explore, to visit the tourist attractions (because I am a tourist still although this is now home), and to just enjoy this beautiful area with all the incredible people I have met along the way!

Keep your eyes peeled for more on my move and what I get up to whilst over in Australia!
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Fabulous Fiji

Oh Fiji, how you changed my life in so many ways.

A three week trip to Fiji suddenly turned into 5 weeks and my god where they full of adventure, thrill, fear, and hangovers!

img_3934When you think of Fiji, you think of the luxury, the white sandy beaches and the utterly gorgeous surroundings, but there is so much more to this place than anyone can ever imagine. For any of you that don’t know, Fiji is a group of 332 islands that are based in the South Pacific and yes, backpackers, there is a place here for you too!

Turning up at Fiji, being greeted at the airport by a guy from the hostel, the second destination on my trip, I had no idea what to expect other than what I imagined as per the last paragraph, oh no was I wrong. Rocking up to the hostel the beach was  covered in grey/black sand, you know that sand that burns your feet if you walk on it? Yes that. The water wasn’t clear and there was a TON of mosquitos (which FYI just hang out around me using my legs as a feeding ground, NOT COOL) as well as a crying English girl telling me how awful the place was within the first 5 minutes of my arrival, don’t judge a book by its cover! As soon as you get to the islands it all changes, in fact even getting 5 minutes from the main land by boat it changes!

 

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In instant panic mode, the only thing you can do is book as many things as possible in order to make sure you have the most amazing time. First of all diving, my uncle is an avid diver therefor my dad suggested I complete my open water diving qualification. This was the first time I have ever dived and to be honest, I am not sure how I feel about it! I completed it, but I did have a little slight hiccup as part of the qualification you have to take your mask off underwater then back on and clear it. This sounds simple, but when your 5+ metres under the water this is a tiny bit unnerving to say the least!! The good 100% out weighs the bad in diving though, we got to see the most incredible sea life ranging from Leopard Sharks to Lobsters! Unimaginable amounts of fish swimming within touching distance and coral of all colours your eyes wouldn’t even believe, it is just when you look up, to a sheer face of coral wall when you realise how deep you really are!
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img_8934The next thing on my list of things to do was island hopping, this is a must for any backpacker that’s heading over to Fiji, this is something you will never experience (well you might but still do this anyway!) I booked this through a company called Awesome Fiji, although you can book it yourself all separately, 6 days and 5 nights hopping from island to island, I did it as cheap as possible because you want to experience the real deal right? Oh, and it’s quite expensive but SO worth it. Each island had no hot water (fine if you go in the summer and it’s boiling hot, not so fine if the weather is cooling down and you have to wash your hair in the evening and OH EMMMM GEEEEEE putting your head under the water and yeah, wow, you get my gist). Electric? What electric? Okay, that is an exaggeration, you get about 1-2 hours electric a day but lets not forget your in paradise, who needs electric and wifi when there is so much more to experience! I made friends with an awesome girl named Jen and we did the island hopping trip together BUT you can 100% do it on your own as well!

img_3990So what I am trying to get at is that Fiji has plenty to see and do, don’t be put off thinking it’s all honeymoons and couples because it’s not, it’s music festivals, zip lining, diving, swimming, partying and just experiencing the local life. Visit a village, get on a bus to anywhere, buy food from the markets and soak up the life these people lead because it really is incredible! Who wants to stay on the tourist path anyway?!

Keep your eyes peeled on the blog for further in Fiji, you really thought I could fit 5 weeks in 1 post?

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What I learnt whilst backpacking

If you throw out the idea that your thinking about going backpacking, people will instantly start taking the piss and asking questions such as ‘What? Are you going to find yourself or something?’ and ‘How are YOU going to manage that?!’but what these people didn’t realise is that their negativity spurred me along in reality.

I am one of those people that if you say I can’t do something, majority of the time I won’t stop until I prove them wrong so although it was hard at times, I actually did learn a lot about my self!

For starters, I’m weak as hell. My backpack for my last 3 and a half month trip was 12kg at most, no matter how much I went to the gym, I struggled to carry this. Has any backpack designers ever thought of making a backpack for someone petite and not a normal size adult because we backpack too?! The backpack was huge pretty much… but its just something you have to deal with!
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You have to have faith! Give people the benefit of the doubt! If you live your life scared of every person you see you would never get anywhere, obviously be cautious, I’m not saying being stupid, I’m saying if your lost, ask a local, get on that local bus, get in that taxi and just have a teeny bit of faith they’re not going to murder you because they probably aren’t!

You don’t need many clothes! I’m about to embark on my next trip and the amount of clothes I have thrown out whilst moving from my place in the UK is ridiculous! When backpacking you probably end up wearing the same 4/5 outfits on repeat and your fine with that! Until you end up sitting waiting for your clothes to be cleaned and dried whilst in a blanket naked…

img_4673Micro fibre towels are the one. I owe the person who told me to get these big time!! They’re horrible, don’t get me wrong but anyone that has used them knows that 1. when you finally  get to use a real towel its like wrapping yourself if a sheet of perfect softness which really drys you! Its amazing. 2. They dry quickly, they fold up small, they’re easy to carry. If I was to have tried to take a real towel I would have spent half my time with a smelly heavy towel on my back making the backpack harder to carry!

Last but by far means least, the people! I don’t think I can go on enough about the people I met whilst away. I would say the number 1 thing I have learnt is to be patient! I met some of the most weird and wonderful people whilst I was away. You might be with someone that you think is the oddest person ever but thats fine! The world needs odd people! The same thing goes, chances are you will meet some of the best people who you really think you want to be friends with for life!


So yes, this is just a few of my 6am thoughts whilst I STILL cannot sleep properly although I’ve been home for a month now! Too many things going on in my mind to rest, like my next trip! Keep your eyes peeled!

Top 7 tips on surviving Trek America

Venturing out into the big wide world for the first time is daunting. I’m not going to say it might be, because there is no ‘might be’ about it, it is. Anyone that says otherwise is a liar, without meaning to sound too harsh. When I went on my first Trek America trip I had all the what I’m assuming is normal thoughts of going it alone in such a vast, yet incredible country. This is my top tips on how to survive Trek America and make it the best trip OF.YOUR.LIFE.

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1. Be open minded 
Yep, sounds like an obvious one right? Your going to be meeting up with a group of people you have never met and going to be spending a lot of time with them and I mean, A LOT of time with them and sometimes (most of the time) in a very small space. These people aren’t going to be who you ‘usually’ socialise with and they’re not going to look like/act or even talk how your used to. Is this a bad thing? No, infact this is the best thing about Trek America, the people. These people are all in the same boat as you because lets not forget, your strange to them too! Accept everyone for who they are because if you can do that, you can concur the world and it’s going to be brilliant! Food for thought – Good time to learn some foreign phrases and words?

2. Your going to be tired
The trip I went on, Western 2, is involving a lot of camping. This is therefore not going to provide the best night sleep ever but you do get used to it! You will survive! Being tired sucks, but it is all part of the experience! There is also going to be a lot of early morning where you have to pack away the campsite super early and get on the road again. Alarms are going to be going off left right and centre. It is worth it, trust me. Those early morning are going to take you to the next destination of your trip and there is no doubt in my mind, that 5:30am alarm is going to sound like a good thing by the end of the trip!

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14642292_10154337385693891_3244172900531588161_n3. Tents
Yep, like my last point, your going to be sleeping in tents. Now you might be an expert camper and you might know your stuff, which is great, but the majority of us don’t. LISTEN TO YOUR LEADER regarding how to put up your tent. Your going to be doing it a lot. You think your listening the first time but really, chances are, your not. Your thinking ‘I can’t believe I’m going to be sleeping in a tent with someone who I have only just met’ or ‘OMG I’m putting up a tent’. Yep simple things, but really, it will benefit you to listen because when it comes to the next 27 gazillion times of putting it up and down it will help to know your stuff!

4. Food
I personally, am the fussiest person ever and also a vegetarian so one of my worries when going was what was I going to eat? You do not need to worry! I was in a group of amazing people who really thought about what I was going to eat as well as themselves and the chances are, you will be too! Don’t be afraid to say if you don’t like something and also don’t be afraid to try new things (this is rich coming from me but honestly, it really will be fine). Maybe even make a suggestion of a meal you like and volunteer to make it for the group!

img_35015. The cold
This is obviously weather dependent and also trip dependent. My trip started on the 2nd October and was 15 days around California. California and cold in the same paragraph I hear you say? Yes, that is correct. Camping in the Grand Canyon was possibly the coldest night I have experience ever,ever,ever! Be prepared for all weather. Take that extra fluffy pair of socks, take that extra jumper, even chuck in a hat! If the Trek America team recommend to take it, TAKE IT. Or if you don’t there is always going to be a stop at a K-Mart and you can purchase that extra blanket there!

6. The Van
Your going to be spending a lot of time in the van travelling from one place to the next and when a 10 hour drive doesn’t sound that long when you read it, it really is. Prepare a playlist! The Leader will most probably have an aux lead in the van so you can be the DJ for the day! Just make sure it’s music you think the whole group will like not just yourself.

7. Experience 
Be ready to experience thing you have never experienced before! I sound like a new block buster movie right there, but seriously. The Trek America trips are arranged so that you can see the most amazing parts of America and you really are going to so I’m warning you, life is never going to be the same again. Your going to see the most beautiful landmarks, your going to have the hardest, stomach hurting laughs and your going to meet the most incredible people! Would I recommend a Trek America trip? YES! Even if your slightly thinking about it, just do it. I can promise you if your trip is anything like mine, you are not going to regret it and hey, you never know, you might get the chance to get married in Vegas!

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Why travelling has saved my life 

Okay, saved my life is a teeny bit dramatic I admit, in reality it has made my life.

Society cements into our minds about what life is meant to be like and how the correct path should go which, for years, I’ve been right on track to success, should I have continued to follow this. But I took the plunge and by far this is the best thing I’ve ever done. 

Small, blonde and pathetic I decided that I was going to step into the world of solo travelling. Some people may say brave, others say stupid but I don’t care either way. Adventure is something I’ve always been into, wether that be exploring or getting into trouble, count me in and as the saying goes, the world is your oyster. 

From hiking the Grand Canyon and watching the sunset to watching new friends making fools of themselves learning how to climb coconut trees, this is what I live for now. I have no place I can call home, although I will still refer to the place my parents live as home, I’m not sure I fit in there any more. Of corse, there have been hard days, days I’ve felt heartbroken and days I’ve missed ‘the norm’ but it’s also hard to imagine living like that on a daily basis again at home when I can live in paradise. I like the having to find somewhere to go next and the meeting new people, my god have I met so many people along the way, people who I would never have spoken to before and that have opened my eyes to a whole different perspective which I now completely cherish. People I have known for 3 days and cried about leaving (yes, that’s true) as well as people I couldn’t wait to leave!

I don’t know what I want to do with my life now, but I know I want to make a difference and I want to see and experience as much as I physically can.  I want to go and live, not just exist. This may not be for everyone which is fine, but this is for me. You cannot be happy in life unless your happy in yourself and I can say, hand on heart, I am the happiest I’ve ever been and I cannot wait for my next adventure to start! 

Dare to be yourself

Social media has a massive impact on everyone and everything, from little things like what shampoo you use (incase you want to snap a pic of that) to how people feel about their self image and sometimes it can all get a bit much.

A lot of my teen years where spent worrying about having the latest trainers or the most fashionable item of clothing, even if I didn’t even like it! Unlike many, I was never just given these things by my parents I always had to wait or earn it which made me want it even more! Looking back now I ask  myself why?! Why was this ‘stuff’ so important? Really what I wanted to wear was red skinny jeans with black stars on but that just wasn’t cool?!

I also have crazy curly hair which is constantly surrounded by a light frizz (by light I mean massive frizz in all directions that grows as the day goes on). I can’t even begin to tell you how many hours I have spent straightening and flattening my hair because no one else has this wildness about them? But why does it even matter? Now if you see me and my hair is smooth or doesn’t have this frizz about it, you will know it is a special occasion because girls, I have way better things to do in life than straighten my hair every half an hour.

So now we can ask ourselves why do these things matter, why do we all care so much about other people and what makes us look like the popular people because I would much rather live my life how I want to and I am sure that no one would even care if I did go out with my red star jeans and my crazy hair. We should all complement each other and be proud of who we are and what we like because really, we are going to be the only ones unhappy if we don’t! Being yourself is always better than being someone else and if I can do it you can too!

 

Failing can be a good thing

Not everything in life goes to plan we should all know this and sometimes this can really get us down but everyone needs to remember that it is not always a bad thing to fail or for things to not be exact.

I am someone who has a life plan and really focus and strive for what I want, people that know me will hopefully be nodding their heads in agreement at this statement (possibly laughing). I am so hard on myself and when things don’t go to plan I get SO frustrated and am always having that thought of ‘I give up’ or ‘there is no point anymore in trying’ but recently I have started to realise actually, things happen for a reason. Maybe things havnt gone exactly as I had planned because thats not meant to be my plan!

I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason and sometimes if things fail on me then I find it really helpful to stop and think, this is just a hiccup in the road and we live in an amazing world with so many opportunities for each and every one of us and actually, we are all capable of what we wish for if we put our mind to it.

So if you are going through something at the moment, that could be anything from a change to the norm to something more drastic just remember that everything will always work its self out in the end and actually I think everything will work out better because the fall back in the first place will make you reivaluate and work even harder the next time!

P.S these photos have nothing to do with this but I love them and they are from my recent trip to the Ideal home show in London for christmas.

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Why we all need to take a break

With Christmas and New Year fast approaching now is the perfect time of year to take a break and reflect on life and I don’t mean these new years resolutions that everyone makes with the best intentions of sticking to but they last all of five minutes, I mean real things that take time to make happen.

I find that if I don’t have a life plan then I feel completely lost, I really need something to set my mind on and work towards, wether that being doing that extra hours overtime at work so that I can get a take away at the end of the month or saving to go on holiday or buy a house (although the house on is a lot longer thought out than the take away I can assure you now). My point being, that it is vital to have a plan and taking a break from your daily routine can really help you reflect on what you find important.

Taking a break from work and just relaxing will make you feel so much more productive when you go back and it can give you time to realise 1. how happy you are and where you want your next career step to be within your role or 2. how much you hate your job and where you want to move forward to in the future! These things can both be brilliant and challenging but that little time to yourself can really help you make decisions that you wouldn’t necessarily do when your in the daily rush of things!

Time to yourself, this can be anything from sitting down reading the latest book out by your favourite author, to watching 17 hours of gossip girl straight and when Netflix asks that question ‘are you still watching?’ is the only reason you realise its dark outside. I find just taking some ‘Me time’ a necessity in my week just to make myself feel calmer really, with no one for me to ask questions and me not asking anyone else questions (mainly the latter as I can talk for England) but this helps de stress and gives you time to do what makes you happy!

Let me know what you do in your spare time when your taking a break and maybe I could give it a try?!

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Why we should all step outside our comfort zone

For the past few years I have been suffering from a slight form of anxiety and I have found that this has really held me back from doing so many this for a while so at the beginning of this year I decided that I was just going to agree to more things than I usually would and I would just give more things a go basically and I can honestly say I am so happy I made this decision.

How many times have you looked back at things and not necessarily regretted something but just wished you had done more or just tweaked the slightest bit. My thing is that I make myself feel sick if I go places new or further away from my house. I am not ill at all I just convince myself I feel ill so that I can go home, which is my safe place, where I know everything is okay and I can’t be hurt. Well yes that is my being crazy, or am I crazy, I don’t know. This year I have actually been working on telling myself that actually I am being so silly and that I don’t feel ill and that I can actually continue and I will be fine.

Have you also ever been in that situation when once you have actually gone ahead with something that your not so sure about at the beginning then once you have done it you ask yourself ‘why was I so worried about that?’ Yep well thats my daily conversation with myself. This year I got invited to a festival. This to me was the scariest thing ever as there would be SO many people and so many things I wasn’t used to but I went through with it and was 100% loving life. I cannot wait for next year and to go again and again and again!

Moral of the story is, relax and give it a chance. If anything was to go wrong it can more than likely be sorted and you will 95% of the time be fine. You might surprise yourself and actually find something that you really enjoy that you didn’t know you would.

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