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!

My Thoughts On World Nomads Travel Insurance

Urging readers to ensure they have travel insurance and talking about how important it is, is one thing then the inevitable questions about which provider to go with hit my inbox. So who do I personally use for my travel insurance and would I recommend them?

I’ve travelled plenty and have used a range of travel insurance providers over the years’. I’ve had single-trip policies and multi-trip policies however, my current policy is with World Nomads and their policy is a little different. They’re set up for long-term travellers and due to my positive experience with them I will be renewing my insurance with them when it runs out.

You DON'T Have travel insurance you say...?

You DON’T Have travel insurance you say…?

My World Nomads Experience…

I’ve had a World Nomads policy for nine months now (or so… I think… it’s been some time) and at quote their policy seemed really reasonable to me. Information about them was easy to come by with most other travel bloggers using them, big travel brands recommending them and plenty of sites that compare policies talking about them in comparison to other providers and their insurance policies in relation to other insurance policies.

For me, knowing I’m with a big company who deal with issues that long-term travellers face specifically makes a huge difference to my piece of mind.

I’ve had to email them a number of times about my policy as my plans changed. I would ask them if it was okay to travel here or there and if there would be additional costs, to date there have been none and the service has been great with them responding to my emails within a few days’ with answers that I needed!

I’ve not had to claim anything and hope I never do have to (because who wants to get hurt while traveling, right!?) but know I’m covered if I do need assistance and this provides me with a great peace of mind.

Something I love too which I have not had to do (yet, but will need to do within the next few months’) is that you can renew your cover on the road (because where are most independent travellers anyway?) so you can keep traveling and enjoy your carefree lifestyle for as long as you can afford it rather than having to worry about what to do when cover runs out. I believe too that you can get cover after you’re on the trip although I’ve never tried to as I always make sure I’m covered before I go.

I don't have travel insurance and don't know if getting into this big, potentially bottomless pool is a good idea...

I don’t have travel insurance and don’t know if getting into this big, potentially bottomless pool is a good idea…

Would I recommend Work Nomads To My Friends?

The answer is a resounding “YES!” unlike other travel insurance companies I’ve been with these guy’s specifically tailor to long-term travellers, they also have extra things like cover for if you’re hurt at work which to me is super important as I do work as I travel.

I wouldn’t recommend any product I didn’t use myself and totally love so you can be sure this recommendation carries some weight behind it.

I like these guys – they have great service, reasonable prices (considering the cover you’re getting), are recommended by just about everyone including myself for a reason!

If you’re interested in getting a quote on your travel insurance and could do so using my link or the World Nomad’s widget to the right of this post in the side bar (which means at no additional cost to you I earn a small amount of money from the company) that would be great as you’re helping me to keep traveling and dispensing more awesome, super-relevant advice! Thank you in advance!

Ah, cool water! So glad I have my travel insurance now...

Ah, cool water! So glad I have my travel insurance now…

Is It Hard To Find Work In London?

UK-England-London-Tourist-Photo-Big-Ben-Adventurer-Stacey

Something I see often on travel and expat forums is people stressing out, the common concern is clear: “But what if I get to London and cannot find work!”

Although this worry is totally understandable, it’s unlikely to be a real issue for many people. As long as their savvy, able to find work in their own countries and are willing to be a bit creative when the chips are low, finding work in London shouldn’t be a real concern.

The last time I was in London I had three job offers in as many days (and I wasn’t even living there!) of course, these were not high paying jobs and I would have needed to find something else eventually had I of chosen to live in London but the point is that in London, “Survival jobs” are abound if one cannot find the job in the industry they wish to work in.

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The three jobs I was offered were one in a restaurant, one in a bar and one in retail. Of course, two of the jobs paid slightly above minimum wage and the third was below minimum wage however, if one was in debt when they moved to London (as many backpackers are by the time they reach the “London stop”) or needed to find a job quickly they could quite easily find work.

Now let’s talk about those coveted professional job’s most people would prefer to be working with their higher pay and more sociable hours. How does one get one with as little stress as possible? Here’s a short, four-point strategy to keep in mind:

#1: What work will you do? “Anything” is not an answer!

It’s okay to have a fall-back (aforementioned survival job) in case your professional ambitions take some time to take off in the new city (let’s be honest, employers seeking a professional workforce have turn-arounds of something like 4-6 weeks between sending your application in and your start date and not everyone can afford to spend that time in their new flat on the couch). However, having some direction is important for when those opportunities do come up. Going to London and knowing you want to use your marketing degree gives you something to aim for when you are applying online or through agencies for positions and when you are in your survival job in the pub when a marketing executive comes in for a pint, you can smile and ask questions that may bring up leads (just don’t do this in front of your boss, okay?)

One must have a direction, or no tree shall be climbed...

One must have a direction, or no tree shall be climbed…

#2 Get your resume London-ready before leaving home

I love writing but even I cannot stand resume writing and when you must have a copy of your resume for each job type (ie. Your survival job AND your professional job) it’s all the more annoying. Before I land in London I will have a science resume, a hospitality resume and a nanny/babysitting resume. Different countries have different resume templates and it’s best to make sure your resume matches that of the country you’re moving to.

#3 Have a pre-London-arrival and post-London-arrival strategy

So you know you’re amazing and any employer should be happy to have you but, maybe you’re a week away from flying out and too busy with preparations for the new city to keep applying for jobs? That’s okay because you have a bunch of number’s to call once you’ve arrived, a killer strategy for hiding the jet-lag induced bags under your eyes and are perfectly willing to ask anyone – even the owner of the curry house where you have your first London lunch – about work opportunities. Having some sort of plan for “if I don’t find work from home” is positive and will help you far more than if you never let yourself have one.

#4 Consider agencies

Employment agencies are a big deal in the UK. Many professionals, both local and expat’s find their work through them and often they will be working within forty-eight hours of arriving in London (crazy, right?). The best way I’ve found to register with UK employment agencies is through Agency Central

No idea what this building is, but know that no-one working minimum wage is living here, or driving that car...

No idea what this building is, but know that no-one working minimum wage is living here, or driving that car…

Moving to a new city will never be easy however, when one considers the transient nature of mega-cities like London’s population the well-worn path of people before you does make it appear easier to make this work than it sometimes feels like when you’re receiving rejection letters. Chin up, it’s all part of the experience and this is a great “coming of age” experience for many young Kiwi’s, Aussies and Canadian’s for a very long time.

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?

What It’s Really Like To Survive An 8.3 Magnitude Earthquake

Chile-Adventurer-StaceyI felt cosy tucked into bed in my pink, flannel PJs, I’d been talking to a girl who’d been placed in my dorm room maybe an hour before when the room started shaking. I was the first to notice as I was lying in bed and her standing. Like anyone who wants to be in denial I turned to the new girl and asked, “Is that an earth quake?” At first, she tried to laugh it off, “of course not! How could it be!”

I stood up anyway and walked to the doorway, I’d seen this in an American film. They had earth quakes in America and they always stood in doorways until it was over.

There was this guy feeding his well-dressed alpaca in a city park, awesome!

There was this guy feeding his well-dressed alpaca in a city park, awesome!

Quickly, a few things happened. A French-Canadian guy asked me if it was an earth quake too (apparently I’m not the only one who’s keen on denial) then a Spaniard jumped out of the shower, towel around his waist and asked me the same question. As the Spaniard got out of the shower and found me sharing my doorway with two other people, we all realised how funny the scene was and laughed. I laughed all the way down the stairs and onto the street as our hostel owner ushered us out of the building: you’re told to leave buildings and stand on the street in case of earth quakes as buildings often collapse and it’s best not to be in that collapsed building if you can help it, right!?

As we stood there plenty of locals passed us on the Santiago street. They all looked confused and some women even gave me a funny look. Where did all these gringo’s come from and what did that girl think she was doing, standing around in her PJs? I wasn’t the only fashion disaster as I stood next to the guy in his towel. Luckily we weren’t out there long – the first time.

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! (Photo taken in Valparaiso, one of the most heavily damaged tsunami areas)

I messaged my parents (like any well-trained solo female traveller who had a habit of being in countries when they had natural disasters). My dad messaged me back quickly to let me know there was a tsunami warning and the earth quake had been a big one, he sent me this message even before people in-country knew what was going on. The power of the internet! I wasn’t really sure if I should worry about tsunami warnings however, so asked the hostel owner if this was a problem. He said we were inland and it wasn’t. I would read in news reports later that coastal towns I had just visited were affected by the tsunami and realised that I was lucky that I had come back to this hostel earlier than expected because I had had such a wonderful time here.

The second big earth quake hit again when I was in bed. Again I walked outside. Everyone teased the man who had previously been wearing a towel and told him he shouldn’t bother with the clothes he was now wearing before rounding on me to tease me about my poor fashion sense.

Santiago-Chile-Mountains-And-City-Adventurer-Stacey

Even with a light atmosphere I did feel a bit uncomfortable, I could feel this earth quake was bigger than the last one and that it had lasted longer. Later I would discover this earth quake was an 8.3 and the previous had been a 7.9. Of course I hadn’t been at the epicentre so the earth quakes I felt were not as strong as they were in other places.

Throughout the night it felt like there were aftershocks constantly. I had tried to sleep through them but was a little jumpy – getting out of bed two or three times thinking it was another big earth quake when it wasn’t – I eventually got to sleep and the next day discovered that my bed was half off its base, obviously in the night the earth quakes had moved my bed so much I was almost on the floor, yet I hadn’t woken up. Proof you can sleep through anything if you’re tired enough.

Life's tough for palace guard dog's as you can see...

Life’s tough for palace guard dog’s as you can see…

At breakfast we read more about the earth quakes – finding out how big they had been and the damage they had done. I was surprised the death toll was so small, I knew locals were used to earth quakes but that they’d managed to get through such a huge event relatively unscathed still surprised me. Of course there were huge problems close to the coast with people’s homes and boats being flung around by the waves.

Later that same day I met a local guy who was a friend of the hostel owner. His whole family were in affected areas and he was saying he would go there and help them rebuild – another testament to the generosity of Chilean people, he had no question weather he would go help his family: Family are important and it’s just what you do.

Reading reports of the earth quakes later inspired me to write my own story so others’ would see that they are not as scary as had been made out in media and that the world is much safer than we think. Also because I think Chilean’s are pretty awesome people and this is a place everyone should visit and not be scare off by seismic activity.

Don’t Let Anyone Mushroom You About Travel

A friend of mine in the UK was complaining about her manager, she said he was mushroom managing her and launched into a tirade about how much it sucked she wasn’t being told anything. At the time I patiently listened and didn’t interrupt – not even to ask what mushroom management was – after we spoke however, I did some googling.

According to Urban Dictionary:

mushroom management

A management philosophy prescribing to the theory that to best motivate your employees, you must at all times:

  1. Keep them in the dark.

  2. Feed them full of shit.

I thought this was such a great expression! Mushroom management! Being that I wasn’t working at the time – I was travelling – I couldn’t use it but then started thinking of how much it related to travel.

Entering into a lava tunnel on Isla Isabella, Galapagos Islands. I didn't know then how much my claustrophobia would be put to the test...

Entering into a lava tunnel on Isla Isabella, Galapagos Islands. I didn’t know then how much my claustrophobia would be put to the test…

When I was in the Galapagos Islands for example, I had the ferry ride from hell. I was so sick on the ride that I had to lean over the side several times, losing my lunch as well as my dignity. Later after finding a hotel I had a shower and washed my hair before catching a friend for dinner.

I said to her earnestly, “Everyone has these romantic ideas around travel, but today I threw up in my hair!” she thought this was the funniest statement and told me I should write it down (well here it is, I do hope she is reading!)

This is very true though – people are always mushrooming you about travel. At the time that people are travelling, it’s hard. They’re lost in a foreign land with no real idea where they’re going or what they’re doing, they have language barriers to contend with and often other things that crop up too, people taking advantage of their not knowing the city or country, being robbed, mugged or ripped off, weather extremes you wouldn’t believe, never having a decent nights sleep and having to function above how they would have to at home just to navigate this strange land.

A Galapagos Sea Lion moments before it attacked someone who was sitting nearby. Doesn't look aggressive, does it?

A Galapagos Sea Lion moments before it attacked someone who was sitting nearby. Doesn’t look aggressive, does it?

I love travel, but I’m under no illusions that it’s hard work.

Sure, we post pictures of nice beaches and cool animals to Instagram but the reality is that to get to that nice beach we had to walk through some pretty shady parts of a highly dangerous city to find the ferry terminal and to see that animal we had to pay an extra few thousand dollars in flights and learn enough of the local language to find a hotel, a restaurant, a taxi, whatever.

Travel is not easy, at all, ever.

But I still love it and I can’t see myself seeing the world any other way, even if I had a lot more money. I just feel so much richer from being forced to learn another language, from being forced into close quarters with such a variety of interesting people, from being forced to eat the local food and to find it’s absolutely amazing!

Horses warming down after informal street racing (where I almost got hit)

Horses warming down after informal street racing (where I almost got hit)

Travel isn’t romantic at all and it’s far from easy, but it makes me happy so I’m going to keep doing it.

Even though travel is hard, you still want more of it too right?

Travelling Creatives: Wandering The World, Making Art

Travel really brings out creativity in people, to live an unconventional life of travelling freely for extended periods of time people have to get creative.

Artisans from a nomadic tribe currently in Guatemala create beautiful jewelry

Artisans from a nomadic tribe currently in Guatemala create beautiful jewelry

While I was in the UK I was staying in hostels (or living in hostels technically when you consider the length of time) and while I was there I met some of the most talented musicians I think I have ever met in my life. I felt so much richer just for having been enchanted by their art.

In South America the creative types morph from buskers with guitars into jugglers, circus folk and artisans who make jewellery, handicrafts and even bars of soap to sell in their pursuit of a live lived on the road. These guys’ seem to be living a much rougher lifestyle from the outside however, they seem much happier than their often better-off European busking cousins.

In the past I’ve also met traveling hairdressers, the best hair cut I ever had was in a hostel in Belize. They’re every bit as creative in their marketing to backpackers for fast cash before moving onto the next town as the traditional artisan creatives.

Scots-Bagpipes-Edinburgh-Adventurer-Stacey

Being around all of these creative types feels amazing! While in Edinburgh I was nudged by some musicians who were living in the hostel to come to a bar and listen to music. Sounds unremarkable as most bars with live music tend to put a band on themselves however, this bar had just opened the floor to anyone who was interested in playing. As a result half of the bar was talented musicians and the other half was people like myself who happily listened. The bar was so full of people one could hardly move but that didn’t matter, you had no reason to want to go anywhere. To buy a drink one would pass their money to the bar from person-to-person (a lot of trust here) and then have their drink passed back from person-to-person (even more trust when you consider how much Scot’s love a drink!). It was such a great experience and one I will cherish always, it really fed my soul.

Being as surrounded by creative energy as I am while on the road I want to dust off a guitar and learn to play again, or start up my own travelling micro-business in handicrafts or to learn to cut hair so I can cut travellers hair and make enough to travel onwards.

Sadly, I am lacking in these areas at the moment. I am a writer and find great pleasure in a quiet corner of a hostel common room, tea mug in hand writing for my blog and for my personal travel journal. This is my creative streak expressed.

Although writing is solitary I know it won’t make me quick money like busking or selling jewellery will. Perhaps I should have polished some other skills before I left home. Hindsight is twenty-twenty!

 

Do you have skills that can make you money on the road? If so, will/do you use them to aid your travels?

Goodbye Scotland, can’t say I miss ‘ye

Scots-Bagpipes-Edinburgh-Adventurer-Stacey

It’s not that I didn’t have a good time in Scotland: I learned plenty, saw some beautiful landscapes and castles (as anyone on my Instagram will tell you) and came into contact with a culture I’d been curious about for some time. Meeting a Scot abroad is not the same as meeting one in their homeland so I knew I would need to go to the place to get a real feeling for why the people are the way they are and also to meet more of these lovely people.

But then there were the other things. Edinburgh my chosen city was full of foreigners, although I love a good international city the rich Scottish culture I had been seeking wasn’t as strong as I’d hoped. The scots I met there (outside of service jobs which the Scots and indeed anyone no-one in the UK excels at) were generally nice people with a few exceptions as happens anywhere else in the world.

People chilling out in the grave yard at lunch time: Only a Scot wouldn't notice how depressing that is!

People chilling out in the grave yard at lunch time: Only a Scot wouldn’t notice how depressing that is!

 

I had my heart set on Scotland, and Edinburgh in particular so the idea of moving back down to London or to another UK city didn’t really appeal to me right in that moment. I tried Glasgow (a nightmare from the first), Belfast held little interest for more than a day trip, I had previously decided London was too big and crazy for me (still love you though London!). Generally nothing else really fit the bill for what I wanted – a small city with charm and great food and night life.

Although this feeling has changed after leaving the UK, I wonder how much of that is nostalgia or me not knowing I had a good thing when I had it.One needs to give herself some time to consider this as the obstacles for working in the UK as an Aussie are quite difficult.

 

I swear, Edinburgh has the biggest Sea Gulls! Pretty sure their dogs are smaller...

I swear, Edinburgh has the biggest Sea Gulls! Pretty sure their dogs are smaller…

 

One of the big barriers for me was the cost of living in the UK and the fact that as an Australian who was in the country legally it was near impossible for me to do basic things you need to do before I can work like getting a national insurance number (a tax requirement for anyone working in the UK) and setting up a bank account. I met plenty of Aussie’s who’d given up on working legally despite the hundreds of dollars they had spent on the visa and who were working illegally for cash and earning much less than the minimum wage (the UK minimum wage is not a living wage to start with). Some as low as four pounds an hour which is lunch money.

I never thought the move would be easy but it really was an uphill battle right from the start. Without the option for legal work, I would be stuck working illegally in industries outside my own (I’m a scientist) and would be living underneath the poverty line in foreign country. What about my dreams of international travel within Europe? About a wonderful resume when I return home with yet more international experience?

It got dark at around 11pm but was cold much, much sooner that far north.

It got dark at around 11pm but was cold much, much sooner that far north.

Taking a look around at this situation you can imagine what I did next. The next logical step after touring the UK and visiting all those castles and ruins I was so crazy about was to book a one-way ticket to Mexico! Didn’t see that coming? Not on my Instagram then?

If you’ve had similar issues with travel plans not going quite to plan, I’d love to hear them! Please share in the comments below. Or just commiserate with me. Poor girl, has her health but cannot live in cold, dreary Scotland! Must be so hard!

What qualifies me to give you travel advice

I read a lot of junk on the internet, plenty of it written by self-proclaimed experts in their fields. Most of the experts are just regular people who have plenty of experience in one area. For example, if someone has 10 years marketing experience, they might call themselves a marketing expert online. It sounds better than just talking about their experience, right?

Recently a friend introduced me as a “travel expert”. I had to laugh at this then thought about it, I guess I am as much an expert as people on the internet as I travel extensively, research widely and have several years’ experience at this, but that’s not why you should listen to me when you are planning your travel.

Berlin-Wall--Adventurer-StaceyI have said it before and I will say it again: on the road, I have made a lot of mistakes. I have gotten lost, gotten ripped off and potentially put myself at huge risks, with the thought in mind that I can handle anything. Worst of all, I get scared about travel and have my own fears of the unknown.

These things are natural and human, mistakes are common, fears are more so. Overcoming those fears is less common and getting back on the horse after making big mistakes and getting on with it is less so as well. I could have given up my dreams of travel at any time and retreated back to my comfort zone, but I didn’t and I won’t finish travelling until I feel happy with my personal achievements.

Travelling solo in NYC I made some new friends, check them out!

Travelling solo in NYC I made some new friends, check them out!

Travel has helped me develop as a person, to find my strengths in communication and negotiation and gave me the opportunity to exercise my personal charm and capacity for empathy. Travel has thought me a lot and continues to teach me. I am a student of life and love that the whole world is my classroom!

Right now I am in the UK at the beginning of my working holiday. It’s been a really good time full of new adventures and exploration. I have allowed myself the freedom to go anywhere in the UK and will be exploring more of Westeros the UK in this next two years than I ever have before. I’ll explore Europe further at a slower pace than I have in the past as a backpacker speeding about.

Free Falling (the wind in my cheeks!)

Free Falling (the wind in my cheeks!)

It was my travel dream to be here and I am achieving that as you read this. If you are going to get advice from someone that someone should have been where you are in the past and be living their dream now. To inspire you, they have to be doing what you want to be doing, right? I think I qualify.

What’s your travel dream? What do you want out of travel? In years from now when you’re in a nursing home talking to all the other elderly women and men, what will you tell them? Will you tell them you followed your dreams and had your own adventures or that you let your fears stop you?

NYC-Central_Park-Adventurer-StaceyTime to take the next step? As always, I’m here to help and am available for travel consulting sessions via skype. Yes, even in old Blighty, I’m here for you guys.