Adventuring The Giants Causeway

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On my recent adventure to the Emerald Isle I had a bunch of places I wanted to visit along the East Coast of Ireland and researching how to  see them all I found one company who were a good fit for me, Paddy Wagon Tours.  I’d heard about previously heard about them from some friends while backpacking Europe a few years’ ago and had liked their line up for the Giants Causeway tour.

On the morning of the tour I’d been running late. I’d over-slept my alarm despite going to bed crazy early the night before and was really regretting that as I ran to the meeting place. Sadly for me, the bus still left about ten minutes late and I arrived about ten minutes early so I really didn’t need to rush after all.

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On their big green bus I passed through what felt like a huge swath of the country. Having a cheeky nap seemed a great idea after days’ and days’ of early mornings and late nights.

I awoke to our chatty driver Sean giving a quick drive-by tour of Belfast on the way through (we would return here for a short stop on the way back). He told us about the troubles briefly pointing out that there are plenty of places that he couldn’t go “espehsally in a big green bus” knowingly I smiled to myself, remembering friends from Dublin telling me that they didn’t fancy visiting the Northern Irish capital because there were places they couldn’t go with their thick Southern Irish accents.

Tourist Central: Some Old Trees That Have Taken Everyones Fancy

Tourist Central: Some Old Trees That Have Taken Everyones Fancy

We passed through towns that were said to inspire the Game of Thrones series and Sean would talk about how he could see clear parallels between Irish history and The Game Of Thrones itself however, the dragons confused him.

We saw the three hundred year old trees used for filming the Game of Thrones. This photo stop for me was a bit of a disappointment as I would have liked photo’s with just me and the trees as everyone would, it’s a shame none of us could get ourselves worked out so the photo’s could be taken and everyone had run around in everyone’s photo’s making all photo’s taken at the site while I was there look too touristic.

Dunluce Castle looking particularly photogenic (as it does every single day!)

Dunluce Castle looking particularly photogenic (as it does every single day!)

After that photo stop there was another outside Dunluce Castle, the famous ruin on the side of the ocean cliffs that I’d been dying to see on my last trip to Ireland but had missed. The stop was brief but as all I wanted was a photo to show my grandmother I’d been there, that was fine.

The highlight of the tour and what myself and some of the girls’ on my bus agreed was more beautiful than the cliffs of Mohr was the Giants Causeway. It’s really breathtaking to be there. The pictures cannot do it any real justice (although of course I’ll share mine with you!). this has been a well-touristed site for a long time and for good reason! I walked over the apparent ruins of the giants causeway (really the remnants after a volcanic eruption). And was totally in awe. I never paid much attention to geo-sciences (sorry geo-sciences!) but this site would be one to spark many a scientists (and artist and poets) imagination. Although it’s beauty is not traditional, symmetrical beauty as people so prize in nature the causeway had its own swagger, like the ugly duckling who’d grown into a beautiful swan and still had that attitude of “I don’t care how I look, this is who I am”. After visiting the causeway I was pretty quiet on the bus to lunch, just thinking about the place.

Taken inside the pub where we had lunch (yeah... I don't think locals use this pub!)

Taken inside the pub where we had lunch (yeah… I don’t think locals use this pub!)

Lunch was pretty fab, not just because a busy day makes you hungry! I had the Irish stew and would recommend it if you took this tour as the other traditional looking steak and Guinness pie didn’t look very exciting). All of the meals are around eight or nine pounds sterling (this is Northern Ireland remember they don’t use the Euro here). Although it’s better to pay by cash in sterling you can also pay by card. Try not to pay in euro’s as the rate is crazy high.

Next, the isle of Carrick-a-Rede! Here I paid the extra eight euro and took the rope bridge across. Of course, I was terrified and my legs turned to jelly moments after crossing (the lovely Irish girl on the other side told me I didn’t look scared at all, oh… such a lie!) but I crossed, for you guys. So I could tell you how it was and you’ll be happy to hear that it was awesome! If you’re frightened of the 100 meter drop onto a cliff or the ocean if anything goes wrong with that terrible wooden bridge you might want to hold on tight to the railings and not look down, just look right in front of you like I did. And don’t stress about the bridge moving too much, it will move a whole lot but you’re here already and you’re not allowed to turn around, walk on now! The photo’s you’ll get on the other side are well worth it (and the bragging rights too!).

Heading back to the mainland after visiting the Isle.

Heading back to the mainland after visiting the Isle.

Later we visited Belfast for an hour or so. Although this doesn’t seem much time to do anything you might want to read a few of the things mentioned on my Belfast self-guided walking tour or you could just go to the top of the central shopping center’s tower for a good (free) view of Belfast for a few photo’s (view as seen on my Instagram) before taking some odd shots in other places, grabbing a coffee and jumping back on the coach.

The tour ends back in Dublin. You’ll be tired but remember to pick up all your things before you leave, thank your driver and smile to yourself, you did it! You did cross the bridge too right?

Checking out the view on belfast (last pic from today’s tour!) #belfast #Ireland

A photo posted by Stacey Farley (@adventurer.stacey) on

Throughout the day we would have different people arriving back to the bus late and this meant that the tour wound up being longer than it had been scheduled to be – if you decide to book this one you’ll want to keep that in mind – for me the tour ended thirteen hours after it began. Of course I was tired and didn’t end up doing anything after it besides packing my bag for my flight the following day (which I didn’t miss although I was tempted to!) Ireland has quickly become one of my favourite places in the world, besides Laos of course.

A big thank you to Paddy Wagon Tours who provided a free seat on this tour so I could review it. Please note also that all other expenses were paid for by myself (ie. Accommodation, flights, food, tour extras, etc.)

Over to you guys! What would you recommend to first time visitors to the Emerald Isle? Please comment below so others’ can read and follow your advice should they choose to do so.

How To Move To The UK

“Adventurer Stacey’s in the London, that’s awesome for her! How do I do that?” is what I hear behind every question I’m asked about my recent re-location. I used to ask those questions too before I took on a life of travel and adventure, now that things have gone full-circle I’m smiling to myself. I’ve created a list to break down the steps for a move to the UK (or any country for that matter) which I hope you can find useful:

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#1 Draw up a plan

Preparations for relocation can start up to six months before you move. For me this time, it was only three months however, many people take less time. It’s up to you and your personal needs.

#2 Passport check!

Do you have one? Is it valid for much longer? If you need a new one start going through the process of passport application ASAP as you need a passport to apply for visas. For some people who’re eligible for a UK or EU passport, they won’t need to worry about the next steps (and the rest of us are jealous of you, by the way!)

#3 Get the correct work visa

Most Aussie’s, Kiwi’s and Canadian’s under 31 will opt for a Working Holiday visa. These are easy to get and can take as little as two weeks however, if you’re highly skilled you may want to apply for the highly skilled migrant visas. Check with the British High Commission ASAP which visa type best applies to your situation.

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#4 Book Flights

I’ve written a bit about how to find cheap flights in the past but as a general rule, booking in off season or shoulder season to the UK is usually cheaper, you may also want to see if there is a big difference between business class seats and economy as sometimes the price is very close and being such a long flight for some, you may want that luxury.

#5 Purchase travel insurance

I’m with World Nomads who I strongly recommend because their coverage is so good – they even offer coverage for work-related injuries (lets hope that’s never a problem!) and cover you for more than just the UK. You can also renew your cover as you travel which is great for those of us who need it (like myself!)

#6 Sort out your home

If you own your place, you might want to consider renting it out to help with those mortgage repayments. If you are renting, you’ll want to find someone who can keep your stuff at their place or work out a storage option. Make sure you have this sorted well in advance to moving as you don’t need the stress.

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#7 Mail: what are you doing with it?

You might want to consider getting a friend or family member to open your mail at home and relay anything important to you. Or alternately you can get everything sent to you electronically through a service or from the companies themselves.

#8 Consider power of attorney

This is not a must-do however, many long-term travellers or expats give their power of attorney to a trusted friend of family member back home. This is an extension of someone just reading your mail for you however, you might want to look into it and see if it’s an option for you considering you do plan to be away for a while.

#9 Health checks

You will want to ensure any vaccinations are up-to-date, your dental checks out and your doctor has had a good look at you before you go. You’ll also want to ensure any medications you are on are also available in the UK and take a note from your doctor about any medications you’ll be taking with you on the plane. It’s also important if you have contact lenses or glasses that you take an optical prescription with you as well.

Apparently the horse had a hole drilled in him to drain water... hole is in his penis so he looks like he is weeing when it rains. Cannot verify this story, but thought you'd like to know...

Apparently the horse had a hole drilled in him to drain water… hole is in his penis so he looks like he is weeing when it rains. Cannot verify this story, but thought you’d like to know…

#10 Pack properly and on time

I am an experienced backpacker but for sure, there were packing mistakes I made the first time I moved here. I left some things at home that I sort of needed and had to buy there. I would prefer to go that way than the other way though. You should start packing no more than a month before you leave (in order not to over-pack) and no less than a week before you leave (because you don’t need to stress about packing last moment). I have a general packing list for backpacking too that is a good starting point.

#11 Photocopy important documents

Make copies of important documents before you go: passport, travel insurance, visas, credit cards, hotel/hostel reservations and tickets. You’ll want to leave these at home however, some people make several copies and carry some with them, leave one copy at home and email another copy to themselves so if something goes wrong they can deal with it then and there rather than having to call that person at home and ask for their credit card numbers when they need to cancel them.

#12 Get some spare passport photo’s taken

Generally with travel this is a good idea – I’ve had to use spare passport photo’s a number of times for things like visas. I’ve never been unlucky enough however, I’ve heard some police in some countries want them for police reports if you have to report theft.

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#13 Get your CV sorted

I’ve previously mentioned this on the blog however, UK employers prefer two-page CV’s with dates of each job (starting and leaving). Make sure yours is UK ready before you go as this will save plenty of time and hassle once you arrive.

#14 Contact your UK-based mates

This is super important! Sure, a whole lot of Aussie’s, Kiwi’s and Canadian’s move to the UK every single year and it won’t take much for you to make new friends but it’s much, much easier to have those familiar friends around you when you arrive and it’s never been easier to do this. Shortly before you leave (I left mine to a month before I left) you can change your city on facebook to the one you will be moving to in the UK and then search for other people in your friends’ list who’re in the same city. Surprisingly, you will find people who you didn’t know had moved. I found some old university friends which was great because they already knew what professional jobs were like here, employers expectations, etc. and could help me out. Also, joining facebook groups is a great way to hit the ground running. There’s a bunch of more formal ways to do this too like university alumni organisations, clubs and groups you’re a member of back home, etc. however, this is becoming the more popular way to connect so why not?

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I hope that break down has helped you guys’ who’re thinking of making the big move and I sincerely hope this method of breaking things down encourages some of you to chase those travel dreams. I’d love to hear about others’ experiences with moving to the UK and any advice they would have for people considering it in the comments below. Keep adventuring guys’!

Apps For Moving To London

Lost in London I was asking people in the street for directions. Everyone I asked must have been a local as they kept walking. I managed to stop one girl, an Eastern European who helped me with my map. Thank god for immigration!

But you dear reader, you don’t need to have this experience. Through careful research I’ve found the best apps for moving to London (or visiting, if you’re going there with a smart phone) so you don’t have to be asking directions of local’s who’re busy pretending they didn’t hear you, paying too much for a black cab, missing out on great travel deals, lonely in the big city, hungry and unable to find decent take-away or one thousand other problems you face when new to such a huge city!

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Uber

This seemed to be at the top of all my friends’ lists and I was a little sad to see that as London has the best taxi’s in the world however, It’s a very popular app in London for a reason! When you sign up with Uber use the code uberAdventurerStaceyue to get a free ride (I get one too when you use the code)

City Mapper

Everyone has this! It’s a London must with its maps for walking, cycling and public transport you’ll be using it constantly when you’re new (or if you visit new areas, which feels like it’s always happening in London!)

Google Maps

I’ve previously mentioned this in my list of apps for independent travellers, here’s just one more place it’s useful.

Tube Tamer

The network can be confusing, especially when you’re new so this app has been great for me!

Whatsapp

This seems super popular in the London and if you don’t have it before your move, you’ll need it soon enough!

Meetup App

Meetups are quite popular in London as London is a super transient city with plenty of people coming here for work and losing their old communities. A great way to meet new people or just to connect with others’ who share your interest. Totally keen to jump into London photography groups as those seem the right ones to meet other people who love the city just as much as I do and who notice all those little things that I might miss!

Excuses2Meet

Kind of like the appy equivalent of going to a real-life meetup event, you can put things in you’re looking to do with your new friends like “someone to play videogames with” and find other’s who’ve said they’re looking for the same thing. I’ve downloaded it (along with all the others) however, it feels like it might take more time to meet people than just showing up at a MeetUp event. We’ll see what happens!

Fever

This is a great idea! An app that helps you find things to do in London this week. It tailors its suggestions to you based on preferences you put into the app really good for wanting to show your knowledge of what’s on without having to do much work. Also great for when you make those early friends everyone makes when moving to a new city who don’t really know what’s going on and aren’t very good tour guides at all.

YPlan

Similar concept to Fever, I’ve still not decided which I prefer so have listed both.

Groupon

This is quite popular in London for loads of stuff (as the high rent prices mean everyone is pretty skint and needs discounts). Also has great travel deals on it from time to time.

Spareroom

How everyone finds their flatmates – now in an app!

Just Eat

Want to know if that place on the corner is any good to eat at? Going out with friends all spur of the moment and don’t know anywhere good? (Of course you don’t! You’re new to London!) Here’s a simple solution.

Do you have any recommendations for apps that London Newbies should have that are not listed? Please leave those awesome recommendations in the comments below!

Four Of My Favorite Things About Dublin

I’m in Dublin this week for St. Patrick’s Day and am very excited to be here! It’s a great little city and very hard to get lost in (although, I do try!). The atmosphere this time of year though is what I came here for. Everyone’s Irish, even those who’re not and the city is full of revelers having a good time and spreading the Irish cheer.

My favorite things about Dublin though, are not the cliché one’s or the tourists, from my last trip here I had four favorites I wrote about in my travel journal. Actually, there were more but four seemed an appropriate number for an Irish story (like the four leaf clover, its lucky!) so I picked my favorite four and here they are:

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Pub Culture

Ireland has some of the best pub culture in the world. You can walk into a pub in the middle of the day and find local people drinking and shooting the breeze. Unlike in many other places in the world where a pub is a bar or a venue you go to dance, in Ireland they’re like public lounge rooms and people pop in for a drink and to catch up with their neighbors, the local gossip and politics.

At night though, pubs are full of great music, dancing and slightly awkward local boys’ trying to chat up local girls’. They’re fun places to be full of laughter and good cheer. Something I wish there was more of everywhere in the world.

Dublin Chippers

I was introduced to Dublin chippers by a local the first time I was in Ireland. Everywhere in the world seems to have its after-drinking food and a 2am trip to the Dublin chipper to pick up some fish and chips (or likely just chips) is as good as any after-drinking food in my book. Plus, you always seem to find someone you know in there, even if you have only been in town a few days’. Small place, very friendly.

Irish Directions

The first time I was in Ireland this happened to me and I thought it was just one weird guy but apparently it’s not uncommon (says Irish comedians, one shown below on youtube)

In my story, young pre-backpack Adventurer Stacey had over packed her suitcase and had broken it. She had to find a shopping mall to buy a new suitcase but got lost on the way (as always) and had to ask for directions. Most of the places in the world where I have asked directions I get something boring like, “Turn left at this set of lights and keep going, it’s on your left.” But not in Ireland. In Ireland the directions were more like, “Go left here and walk for ten minutes, then turn right and walk another five minutes, it’s on your left.” I laughed, surely he wasn’t serious. Did he know the pace of my walk? If I was likely to get distracted on the way and stop? Wind speed? Direction? I told him to stop taking the piss and tell me for real, how I get there. He laughed and told me he’d already told me before walking away. There was no-one else around so I decided to try it and you won’t believe, I got there. (the part about directions is at the two minute mark)

Irish Slang & Humor – You’ll Never Get It, Even When You Think You Do

I’ve had Irish friends and I think at this stage I mostly understand them (even though sometimes they do seem pretty alien) but when I was first in Ireland, often slang would go straight over my head and locals obviously didn’t want to tell me that they didn’t mean what they were saying.

One of my more vivid memories was when two older Irish men were at the pub, one asked the other what he wanted, “Oh, just a half Guinness” “Only a half?” asked his shocked friend before leaning closer to me and uttering, “He’s not well you know.” I thought he meant his friend was genuinely unwell, maybe he was about to go in for surgery and shouldn’t be drinking. As a result, I asked the first guy about his health and if he was okay, really. Did he need to go home? Some water? He just stared at me in confusion. Neither talked to me for the rest of the night. I later heard from someone that someone being “not well” was slang, a dismissive way of saying someone was crazy. I wonder if these guys’ thought I genuinely was crazy after the event.

Those are my four – now, if you excuse me I’m off to enjoy this wonderful little city!

Visiting Charles Darwin’s House While In London

Downe House, as viewed from the gardens

Downe House, as viewed from the gardens

After completing my training as a biologist at university one of the things I was most looking forward to while visiting London last year was Charles Darwin’s house! The grandfather of biology himself who studied everything living around him, even chronicling the growth of his own son was someone who I was sad I’d never had the opportunity to meet, this was an opportunity to get up close and personal with the great genius himself!

On the map it’s a simple hour-long journey to Downe House however, that’s boring. I’ll tell you how it really is on the ground: From London Waterloo station which you got to by some feat of genius through the rush hour chaos (note: don’t actually do this in ‘peak times’) you catch the South Eastern Line train to Orpington. You’ll notice how village-y this place is compared to London right away when a nearby bobby smiles at you. Chat to him, he’s friendly and has a funny non-London accent that you’ve never heard before. Ask him about the buses and you’ll find you need to catch the R8 bus (there is only one bus that goes to Downe House) ask the driver when you climb aboard if they can stop at Charles Darwin’s house for you, they will know where it is and will also smile at you which you will find unsettling after being in London. You’ll find a seat next to a teenager who’s been looking at you strangely due to your foreign accent (you think) and will ride out until the bus stops – not in front of a bus stop but just on the road and the driver calls to you, letting you know you’ve arrived. There you will be, in a small country lane as the tiny bus pulls away you’ll see a big house that you’ve come all this way to see right before your eyes. Feel the excitement but don’t run at it, you’re on the road remember. Look left, then right then left again before crossing.

The super-cute R8 bus, just stick out your arm!

The super-cute R8 bus, just stick out your arm!

I don’t want to give too much away because I want readers to go there themselves (genuinely I do! It’s such a positive experience after being cooped up in London!) but I’ll tell you some of my favourite things about my visit just to wet your appetite.

The gardens are beautiful! They’re where Darwin did plenty of experimenting and hypothesising. He took a walk in his gardens every day, even in the harsh English winter when he was an old man. They’ve been dutifully restored to an approximation of what they were thought to look like in the time Darwin there.

You've arrived (can you see those open times? Taking notes?)

You’ve arrived (can you see those open times? Taking notes?)

The museum itself holds some surprises even to those who’ve read plenty about Darwin and who’re familiar with his work – Darwin was ahead of his time in that he was an active father and a husband who saw his wife as an equal. Although followers of his work realise how much he love his wife that he almost didn’t release his Origin of Species for fear of hurting his wife with her deep religious sensibilities are surprised to see how he would find time after working to play board games with his wife and talk to her about things that were more intellectual, valuing her opinions. His relationship with his children was also more modern than his times. He actually spent time with them (outside of studying them as infants and measuring their growth and development for his work as a scientist). Apparently he was also very kind to his staff as well.

I was also surprised to see Darwin’s notes on his own health – I’d know he had battled with ill health throughout his adult life however, to see that he’d kept a diary made me smile. Something like that seems the type of thing I’d do!

A slide used by Darwin's children to slide down their stairs - what a fun childhood!

A slide used by Darwin’s children to slide down their stairs – what a fun childhood!

I came away from the experience feeling like I’d learned plenty about Darwin whose work had been a big part of my studies and was the basis for a discipline I have such respect for! I would recommend a visit to Dawne House for visitors to Kent and London as it’s a really beautiful place and getting there is a really nice adventure!

Darwin's finches hold a special place in the hearts of many biologists (and you can see them here, how exciting!)

Darwin’s finches hold a special place in the hearts of many biologists (and you can see them here, how exciting!)

Getting back too, was fun. I stood on the street and waved to a bus that stopped for me. After climbing aboard we were driving for a while and as the lane narrowed (these lanes were not consistent at all) we came face-to-face with a four wheel drive that had to back up so we could get past. It was a real adventure and so much fun laughing along with the local teenagers about how hopeless the other driver was!

Darwin's study where he did much of his work!

Darwin’s study where he did much of his work!

Arriving back in London that evening I felt newly refreshed and pretty wonderful! I’d spent a day in the country side, admiring a beautiful home, a wonderful garden and learning (I’m a life-long learner!)

Over to you! Have you ever visited Downe House? Would you recommend it to your friends? What other things would you recommend to the London visitor?

There’s No Shame In Going Home

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When I left Scotland I felt pretty bad. That’s an understatement, really. I felt like I had failed at something. I’d set off telling everyone that I was going to live in the UK. There were multiple going away dinners, parties, casual, after-work drinks. There were even over-dramatized cries of, “I may never see Stacey again! I want to enjoy every moment!” I’d even written about it on the blog for my international audience. Then, after very little time in the UK, I’d decided I’d really wanted to travel. I wanted to just backpack freely with little to no plan. This was how I’d travelled previously and I really missed the sense of freedom and adventure.

While I was traveling and feeling the unpleasantness of stomach issues, how travel was harder than I told myself and around the time I discovered the spiritual side of travel I felt an epiphany. I really loved backpacking and I was broadening my horizons more than I could have previously imagined but, there I was feeling the pull back to the UK. But not to Scotland, to London. I wanted to experience a mega city. I wanted to see things in a different light as a foreigner living somewhere rather than travelling. I was now ready. Finally.

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Sometimes, as strange as it can seem, we are not ready when we assume we are. Sometimes, actually almost all of the time life is not as we think it should be. Instead of a smooth course that goes on until it reaches a logical conclusion, life can throw things at you all the time that you never expected and that’s fine. That’s life, you have the learn to be adaptive and roll with the punches as much as you have to learn to sit back and enjoy a few cool rums and some lobster on the beach (Belize was a happy find for that!).

I’ve learned so much from my first “failure to launch” in the UK and feel so blessed to have had that experience. If I had not, I would not be now happily telling you all that I’m landing in London on the 22nd of March, would you like to catch up? I also wouldn’t be able to share my own story for those who’re upset at the idea that maybe things won’t turn out as planned and maybe they will have to go home for whatever reason. Perhaps they will run out of cash quicker than they imagined, perhaps they will have to go home due to family emergency, perhaps they will get sick or perhaps they just weren’t ready like I was.

Swimming up to say hello (one of my favorite shots from snorkeling in Belize!)

Swimming up to say hello (one of my favorite shots from snorkeling in Belize!)

Whatever happens, it’s always okay to go home. There is no shame in admitting that life happens and the best laid plans do not always work out. Maybe next time.

Over to you, have you ever had an experience of leaving a place earlier than expected? What advice would you give to others staring down the barrel of these decisions?

Working Holidays

I’ve tried to blog about these as an abstract idea a number of times however, it’s difficult to really write just one post that tells one all they need to know about working holidays in general terms when there is so much to know.

Essentially, working holidays are a way for young people to travel in a way that they can legally work in a country where they do not have citizenship or residency, a work sponsor or any real ties to the local community. Essentially, they’re a great way to pick up odd jobs to supplement your travels and explore. Some people use working holiday visas as a way to scope potential professional employers, to spend time in their partner’s country without having to marry or for a million other reasons. Today though, I’m going to talk about working holiday visas and what they’re traditionally used for. If you’re looking for sponsor advice, you won’t find it here. That’s a post for another time.

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Where can I go for my working holiday?

This really depends on which citizenship (or passport) you hold. If you only have the one like myself, then you can google “working holiday arrangements for X NATIONALITY” and lists will appear with working holiday agreements that are applicable to people of your nationality. As a general guide though people tend to visit places that are on the other side of the world to them. Most Europeans want to come to Australia or New Zealand and most Canadian’s and Antipodeans want to go to Europe. Working holidays can be hard for those in places like South Africa (with fewer options now after the UK changed their laws) and in the USA as the American government doesn’t seem so keen on working holiday visas. There will be options for most people with most passports however.

How do I choose a place?

A question I can answer with another question, what do you want to get out of the experience? Depending on how you want to answer that, I will give you a better answer, but to help you on your way, here are some things you’ll want to consider.Sydney-Harbour-Bridge-At-Night-Adventurer-Stacey

Cost of living vs. saving

One cannot blame people for wanting to enjoy their working holidays by finding space to rent and work in cities like Sydney, Tokyo, London and New York but then, how expensive it is to live in these cities is something that should be considered. Although one can earn enough to live comfortably working odd hospitality jobs in Sydney the same cannot be said for London where the minimum wage (which is what you will earn, don’t try telling yourself otherwise) is so low that there are huge campaigns to move to a ‘living wage’ which happily for the people in the UK are now being taken up on a governmental level.

A good way to work out cost of living is to google “cost of living in CITY”. I have used Numbeo as a good comparison website where in the past I have drawn comparisons between my home city of Melbourbe, Australia and the cost of living in other places. I then go on to look at wages – what’s the pay like in ‘survival jobs’ like hospitality, customer service, retail? What’s the salary like in professional jobs once I am settled? What’s the likelihood on this visa that I would get a job in the field that I want to work?

A great way as well to find out what it’s like in-country is to find friends who’ve lived in the place before, or friends of friends. Posting a status update on twitter or facebook could be good for this. Asking your friends if they or anyone they know has lived in this place is a good start to get information from people. Another good idea is to hit up travel forums, facebook groups (such as the Aussies in London facebook page or Kiwi’s in London facebook group) and to hit google. Google is going to be your friend a lot here, you can already see that, can’t you?

The Beautiful Manly Beach at Sunrise (Image credit: Nigel Howe)

The Beautiful Manly Beach at Sunrise (Image credit: Nigel Howe)

Lifestyle factors

Another thing to think about as well is what lifestyle you want to lead when you are there. What climate do you want to live in? What hobbies do you want to pursue? Is there anything you don’t want to have to deal with that is a deal breaker when choosing a place to live? If you don’t like smog, London’s probably not for you. Happy with your monolingual English-speaker status? Tokyo is likely not your place either.

I know two friends’ had a working holiday in Australia and they chose Sydney not for the pretty harbor (which they would hardly see) but for the city beaches being so close. This way they could go to work in the morning and work on their sun tan in the afternoon. Another friend loved history and wanted to learn French so went to Paris for her working holiday (the first, she’s been on several working holidays now). Work out what you want first then work out how to get it’s the best way to do things in this situation.

Ireland-Thatched-Roof-House-Adventurer-Stacey

Cultural interest and language

I touched on it already, but if there is a culture you’re particularly interested or a language you want to learn, sometimes working holidays give you that valuable immersion time you wouldn’t be able to enjoy otherwise. Not only do you live in a place like a local but you work like a local too and having the same lifestyle, it’s easier to understand a language and culture when you’re living the local rhythm. There’s a bunch of words that will make sense that are native to this place and that there’s no equivalent to in your own language that you will learn more about when you see how the people live, work and play.

 

So what about you? Have you been on any working holidays? Got any planned? What’s some general advice you would give to someone who was planning this type of trip?

Travel Fails: How I Always Miss The Party

I recently booked a flight and while talking to the travel agent* I told him how much I was looking forward to this trip as I’d previously been to Dublin in March of 2012 and had left the city before the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and now I was looking forward to a St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin 2016!

That’s right guys, I’m having a proper St. Patrick’s day this year!

But before you get all jealous and start telling me how unfair it is that you don’t get to be at the party, let me tell you a few of my own stories about how I’ve missed more than one big party because of poor travel planning. I’ve never been a great planner, but sometimes you really do have face-palm moments when you realise you could have, should have done something differently.

I loved how excited people were for the national day - Chilean flags EVERYWHERE!

I loved how excited people were for the national day – Chilean flags EVERYWHERE!

Missing Chile’s National Holiday

This was painful! Not only did I miss the great day, but I flew out of Santiago on Chile’s national day. Poor form by me not only because I missed this wonderful day but also because I missed it, almost didn’t make the airport because nothing was running for the national holiday and experienced an earthquake (perhaps unrelated, but I wanted to throw that in!). What was I doing!?

Missing A Genuine St. Patrick’s Day In Dublin

Okay, so I touched on this already. But it still hurts to know how much green beer and craic I missed out on. Especially when I consider I’d made some decent local friends when I backpacked Ireland who could have shown me all the awesome things about Dublin – and Ireland – on their national day that weirdly, seems to be the only national day of any one nation celebrated by everyone in the world. Perhaps this is a testament to the charm of the Irish that everyone wants to celebrate their national day or perhaps it’s their huge world-wide migration with something like 70 million people all over the world having Irish names or maybe just good marketing. Not sure, will tell you after March 17th.

Laos-Adventurer-Stacey

Missing The Boat And Other Asian Disasters

I didn’t plan my first trip to South East Asia very well at all as testament to the fact that I seemed to miss out on all the great backpacker experiences. Instead of being able to spend 30 days’ in Thailand and traveling the whole country in one go, I flew from Bangkok to Phnom Phen just four days’ after arriving which meant I had to keep leaving Thailand and going back in for two-week long visa sprints. I also missed the rocket festival in Laos by a few hours, missed taking the slow boat into Laos and flew (doh!) which meant I missed all those great ‘slow boat friends’ everyone else had and was travelling with not to mention the fact I spent stupid money flying about because I didn’t want to book with local airlines and would book last moment. Yeah, total fail.

I hope that perhaps in all my travel mistakes, my reader’s can learn from them and not repeat them themselves. They would easily save money and have a better time themselves. You’re welcome.

How about you? Do you have any great travel timing fails you’d like to share? Please comment below so the rest of us can learn from your mistakes, cheers for being awesome enough to do that in advance too!

 

*I don’t always use agents however, when I do I use STA Travel. They have great deals and are totally understanding when you tell them you only want to book a few things (like flights and insurance) through them and want to do the rest independent. I recommend them and plenty of other great travel brands to my readers.

2016 Is Here! No-One Forget Their New Year’s Resolutions!

Often people set themselves unrealistic New Year’s resolutions. Thing like, “I’m going to lose weight” and “I’m going to learn a language” are great, but just a few short weeks’ in, they’ve stopped going to gym and have stopped their language classes through a mixture of complicated emotions, unclear goals and other personal reasons. If people really wanted to do these things, they wouldn’t need a resolution to do them, these things would just get done.

Fireworks in my home town of Melbourne, Australia. (Image credit: Chris Phutully)

Fireworks in my home town of Melbourne, Australia. (Image credit: Chris Phutully)

However, as someone who’s so interested in travel she has a travel blog and nerds on all about travel whenever she has a chance, I feel I can attest that any travel-related New Year’s resolutions I say I will do will happen because 1) I am obviously committed to following my travel dreams and because 2) you are all watching me and will remind me this time in 2017 if I do not fulfil these travel dreams.

Don’t lie to yourself, you totally will remind me and that’s totally okay, I welcome it. I appreciate the social responsibility here as someone who’s constantly trying to inspire others to travel to do some travel myself.

How cheeky those London street artists are!

How cheeky those London street artists are!

So my travel resolutions for 2016 are:

  • I am going to succeed in living abroad. I’m not going to just go abroad for a short time, decide it’s too hard and leave again. I’m going to be a proper expat, if only for a few months. I have some plans in the works that I’ll talk about in the coming weeks’. Watch this space!
  • I want to see three new countries this year – I’ve visited something like 32 countries to date (I think, don’t quote me on that because I never was much of a numbers woman) but I want to visit three new ones, countries I have never visited before, so I can have different experiences and insights into a new (to me) culture.
  • I’m going to connect more – with the places that I am and the people that I meet. I want to find out one interesting thing about every person I meet on the road in 2016. Perhaps I will write them down. I will write them down and share the most interesting with you all. Likely this blog post will come out in late 2016 so again, keep watching this space.
In front of Chichen Itza Pyramid (Did you know they were built to mark my birthday? 21st of September, those Mayans!)

In front of Chichen Itza Pyramid (Did you know they were built to mark my birthday? 21st of September, those Mayans!)

Those are my three. I would write more but those three are enough. I’d rather focus on three totally awesome things to achieve and do them well over a bunch of things that I could do not-so-well.

Now it’s your turn! What are your New Year’s Resolutions for 2016 and do any involve travel?

If Money And Time Were Unlimited, Would You?

Adventurer-Stacey-Bath-England-UK

A girlfriend of mine often asks this question whenever people say ‘no’ to her when she asks them to go someplace or do something awesome with her. Usually people are saying no because they don’t want to do something and they’re often dishonest with themselves that that’s the reason they’re saying no, but she uses this question to make them aware of what they want and also of whether they truly want something.

Often, when it comes to travel people use a bunch of excuses, mostly around money and time. Often they will also put down travellers in an effort to make themselves feel better for not chasing their own wild dreams. Sadly, they think by saying this they can get away with continuing to be unhappy.

The Natural History Museum, London's own Roaring Dinosaur!

The Natural History Museum, London’s own Life-Size Roaring Dinosaur!

What I want to do is unlock the reasons for these poor feelings and make people realise that they really can have everything they want and that their life right now – believe it or not – is exactly as they want it to be.

I’ll start.

If I had all the money and time in the world I would own houses all over the world and use them to spring board to wonderful places. In these properties I would stay with my loved ones and we would travel together. No-one would need to work or worry about anything because we have all the money and time in the world. We would travel slowly, making new friends and having amazing experiences along the way.

Melbourne-Yarra-River-Adventurer-Stacey

I would also find some causes as I travelled that I could give my time or money to; find things that fed me and gave me insights into myself and the world like meditation, yoga and art; I would be as loving as I could be to those around me in the hope that I could be part of a positive change and not just taking from places but giving something back.

I would learn, teach and walk through the world with a big smile on my face, taking in all that I could and giving all that I could to others.

The Scott's spit in the Heart of Midlothian (do you know why?)

The Scott’s spit in the Heart of Midlothian (do you know why?)

My hobbies, like SCUBA diving and sampling delicious foods would be things that would draw me to different places and other ways to see things.

Of course, I don’t have all the money and time in the world, but I am doing my best with what I do have. Although I can’t travel full-time with my family and friends and we can’t stay in the best digs when we do, I do travel with others for periods of time in my travels around the world.

These guy's were so kind to pose for my photo! Their colleague even took it for us - Great PR for the UK police force!

These guy’s were so kind to pose for my photo! Their colleague even took it for us – Great PR for the UK police force!

I do give as much of myself as I can to others in my time, energy and a helping hand when needed. I think that all humans should seek to give as much –if not more – than they take as part of my spiritual philosophy.

Life will never be perfect and we cannot have everything as we want it, but we can be – in ourselves – the closest to the people we want to be each and every day.

Mr. Darcey and I in bath (I was so excited to have met my Jane Austin favorite!)

Mr. Darcey and I in bath (I was so excited to have met my Jane Austin favorite!)

So why not?

 

A note: I realise it’s the festive season and many religions are having holidays’ around this time of year however, as my blog is read by an international audience I thought it would be better to not have a “Christmas” (the holiday I celebrate) post this year. Of course, my love goes out to everyone, every time of year.