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!

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?

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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.

Travelers: Tablets vs. Readers

Last week I spoke about travel gadgets that make travel easier but didn’t talk about two very popular travel gadgets, tablets and ereaders on purpose as I wanted to dedicate more space to this so I can go more in-depth than I could in a general post.

Personally I’ve travelled with my laptop, tablet and ereader (not all at the same time) and have found that it really depends on what I am hoping to get out of the trip and how much time I think I will actually be spending on each device.

Before I launch into the pro’s and con’s of each, it’s important to note that I’m not too much of a tech head. To give some perspective: I do run my own website which I built entirely on my own however, I don’t know what type of computer I’m currently typing this on. I know it’s a laptop and I know it’s black, that’s about it. If you want expert advice on the most modern tech, this isn’t the space for it. For general pro’s and con’s however:

Things you can never leave home without! ... Or not?

Things you can never leave home without! … Or not?

Tablets

Pro’s over an ereader

  • Can do more – tired of reading War and Peace? You can switch to facebook and chat to your friends or play candy crush.
  • Pictures – my ereader’s getting old and pictures (for books that have them) don’t show up whereas in the tablet they do, which is great.
  • Doubles as a camera – not always appropriate having someone hold up their tablet in public but is great for when you want great shots you can enjoy right away and upload everywhere.
  • Take your work with you – digital nomad or workaholic, you can work on the go with a tablet, something you cannot do with an ereader.

Ereaders

Pro’s over a tablet

  • Price – these are cheaper to buy outright (usually no more than $150 to tablets that can easily be over $500)
  • Less likely to be stolen – sadly, I’ve seen those people in hostels who look longingly at others’ belongings as if they would prefer they were theirs, to date however, I’ve never seen anyone look twice at an old kindle.
  • Better battery life – I had an ipad for an old job of mine which would need to be charged all the time however, my little reader if it’s not being used lasts for months. If it is being used it lasts for less but still I have plenty of warning before I have to charge it.
  • Easier to fall off the grid – I know plenty of travellers who hate tech because it keeps them (they feel) tethered to home. They know if they have more ease of communication with loved ones back home, they are less likely to immerse themselves in the culture they’ve come to experience so they prefer to use tech that isn’t linked to their facebook accounts.

Keeping your tech safe

A quick note on keeping your tech safe – when you check into a hostel/hotel ensure there is a locker or somewhere to put your tech (and moneybelt, etc.) before you take it out of your bag so others’ don’t see it then see you slip it back into your easy-to-steal bag. It’s also a great idea to not flash your tech around too much in countries where theft and mugging is common. All someone needs is to see your valuables and follow you when you wonder off on your own to use a bathroom for example.

I had plenty of tech with me in South and Central America and I was really weary of it to the point where I wouldn’t take it out or even reference it in conversation with other travellers. Although this may sound a bit over-the-top it’s better to be safe than sorry.

How about you? Do you travel with a tablet on a ereader? Why/why not?

Backpacker’s Best Friends: Gadgets, Gizmo’s And The Rest

The most useful things I own also happen to take up the least amount of space in my backpack. I’ve chosen eight of my favorites I think every backpacker should take with them when traveling.

The Mayan people sharing their favorite gadgets before the internet.

The Mayan people sharing their favorite gadgets before the internet.

Clothes-pegless clothesline – these are widely available at camping stores and I do not remember where I got mine but it’s easily the most useful thing for me backpacking. I have used mine in countless countries to dry my clothes (both after being washed and after being caught in the rain) and even used it with I lived in Canada and the university clothes dryers were dodgy. Very small and very useful. Should be part of anyone’s kit.

Sewing kit – I’ve used mine a number of times and sadly one of those was when my backpack broke. Even for someone like me who’s never had any skill for needle work can use these to fix some pretty daunting problems.

Sleep sheet – I didn’t have one of these before I went to Asia for the first time and I regretted it when I stayed in places that didn’t offer sheets to travelers. They’re also useful to wrap around fragile souvenirs when you’re going home.

Sarong – used this in place of a sleep sheet before I had one. Also used it for my hair, as a towel at the beach, as a skirt, a top, to cover up for temples and after tubing in Laos. I could keep going but I won’t. Just make sure you have one.

Travel towel – best thing ever! I actually now have two, I loved mine so much! They are towels that are super absorbent to dry you off easily but also dry easily themselves and don’t take up as much space in your bag as a regular towel would.

Toiletries bag that has a hook – sounds so simple, and it is! I’ve appreciated the little hook on my toiletries bag so much over the years. Goes everywhere, no drama. As you’re using it daily in different locations you will grow to love it!

Ear plugs – lifesaver! Mine are special ones for the plane that do something weird to you so your ears don’t pop – not complaining and don’t totally understand them but recommend ear plugs for all that plane/bus/train/car travel with crying babies/drunk backpackers/locals playing their music at unsociable hours and for the hostel room when you’re sleeping right under the snorer.

Money belt – I don’t always use mine as a money belt but it does have RFID blocking technologies so has often just been there to protect my passport (from theft and from having water spilt on it in my bag)

RFID wallet – I have one of these and love it, it’s small but great. Everyone should have one. As someone who’s had their card compromised while overseas I can tell you, getting cash when you have no card, don’t speak the language and are not sure what’s going on is tough.

 

What about you? What gadgets have saved you over the years’? OR, what gadget do you think you would get the most use out of while traveling?

Most Useful Travel Apps for Independent Travelers

Well, I guess everyone's going mobile now...

Well, I guess everyone’s going mobile now…

I’ve been asked what the most useful travel apps were for independent travelers a number of times over the years’ and have decided to do a round-up this week of the best travel apps I’ve used so far in my life as an independent traveler. Of course, every location will have specific apps (like bus/train apps for different European countries, for example). I chose to keep this pretty general though so not to get too bogged down. Feel free to add your favorite travel apps in the comments too so other readers can benefit from your experience.

Google Maps

Old faithful Google Maps has everything an adventurer who’s consistently getting lost needs plus a little extra. If you’re looking for something in particular in a city Google Maps can come in very handy. Of course, you can put in an address or name of business but you can also do more general searches and see what’s around you. Things like “ATM” or “Restaurant” plus there is reviews, etc. given by other users of google so you’re never going anywhere comply blind which is great.

XE Currency Converter

I pulled this app up when I first got to Belize and the hostel owner smiled at me, “You all use this app!” he said, “It’s good because if you didn’t, I’d just charge what I wanted!” then he laughed. He was joking (one hopes), this is a super useful for when you’re not totally comfortable with a new currency yet or when you will be using a few different currencies on your trip and want to stay on budget.

WhatsApp Messenger

Easiest way I’ve found to keep in touch with loved ones while traveling (and at home!) is WhatsApp Messenger. You can send an SMS for free to anyone as long as you have a WiFi or 3G connection.

TripAdvisor

An old favorite, I’ve used them TripAdviror app to look up great places to stay but also to double check claims of some places that they have high ratings on there (the website doesn’t always match claims!)

TripIt

Your mum will love you for this! Instead of asking you all the time exactly where you are, you can email your itinerary to other people from your phone, plus having your itinerary all in one place makes life easier for you. TripIt is great for new independent travellers who don’t want to miss a thing!

Accommodation

Depending on your style and budget there are a number of apps available. I’ve chosen my three favourites.

HostelBookers/Hostel World

Competing companies these two both have great deals, it just depends on whose interface you prefer. Occasionally for some parts of the world too, one website/app is better than the other, this is something you learn through experience however. HostelBookers app is here and Hostel World’s app is here.

Hotel Tonight

Not that we want to always be booking last moment but in travel, things are constantly changing and it’s good to have this app to find those last moment deals when you need to be hooked up.

AirBnB

Love this website! The AirBnB app is great too for when you want to stay somewhere a little different to the usual hostel/hotel and have a more unique and local experience. You’ll stay with locals and learn more about the place you’re staying in from them than you may staying in tourist-centric, less personal accommodation.

Airfare

Depending on your preference as with accommodation apps, both of these are great apps.

SkyScanner

I first heart of SkyScanner a few years’ ago when I was backpacking South East Asia for the first time. Everyone was using it and it was brand new and shiny then, now it’s very popular and much more polished. I use it all the time when booking flights myself (Note: I also recommend the website for booking flights).

Hipmunk

I’m newer to this than SkyScanner but like it so far! The Hupmunk is pretty cute and I also like how they list the lowest prices first in both airfare and accommodation and how in accommodation it tells you on the first screen if there is WiFi there. Wifi is a high priority of mine.

As mentioned previously, I’d love to hear your recommendations for travel apps worth using. Please comment below and share your favorites so others’ can check them out.

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.

UK-Scotland-edinburgh-Adventurer-Stacey

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.

UK-Scots-Flag-Adventurer-Stacey

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?

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.

What to pack

“What to pack?” is something that I’ve agonised over in the past and now know that I don’t need as much as I once thought I needed. When you consider how much you need something vs. how much it weighs/how much room it takes up in your pack it’s often not hard to come to a ‘this is what I need to take with me’ conclusion.

Being from Australia where everything is expensive, I have a huge incentive for buying things abroad when I need them. Although it’s good to keep in mind that even if you’re not from an expensive country sometimes it’s good leave anything you’re unsure if you want to pack at home. leaving the “maybe” items at home then picking them up as you go rather than take them with you and never use them.

The first time I visited Europe I went in the middle of a European winter. I packed a two-in-one fleece and rain coat I’d bought in Australia for a large sum then ended up ditching it for a much cheaper, better quality trench coat that helped me fit in in Paris much better and could be worn with just about anything.

The offending white snow jacket

The offending white snow jacket

Onto my packing list, the list is for a woman but can easily be adapted for a man (just replace my little black dress with your going out clothes and you’re set).

Clothes
3 long pair of trousers, either cotton ones or 1-2 of jeans if I am travelling somewhere cold.
1 bathing suit
1 sarong (good for covering up at the beach AND to use as a sheet when the hostel isn’t the cleanest)
1 little black dress for when I go out at night
1-2 dresses for daytime wear
1 leggings (if it’s cold under trousers or dresses – they are not pants).
1 dressy top
2 singlets
1 longer top that covers shoulders for temples/churches
1 pair of flip-flops (usually wear on the plane as going through security you often have to remove them)
1 pair of sneakers
1 pair of black flats to go with little black dress
12 pairs of socks
14 pairs of underwear. (It’s not excessive – underwear always runs out first, so taking more than I need is important!)

Toiletries
1 toothbrush
1 tube of toothpaste
1 dry shampoo bar (which doubles as shower gel)
1 lightweight travel towel
1 Hair brush
Deodorant
I’m not a make-up wearer but you might want to take a small amount of make-up.

I keep a small St. John’s medical kit and keep it stocked, then add:
Earplugs
Paracetamol
Tampons (I’ve been told that men should stock these in their first aid kits of nose bleeds, so don’t disregard this one off-hand)
Any prescribed medication

Tech stuff I’ll be carrying as a blogger:
Laptop
Camera
Smart Phone
Universal charger/adaptor (This applies to everyone)

Misc. items
a few locks for backpack or locker at hostel
Zip-lock bags (to put liquids in or take when around water)
Plastic bags or laundry bags
A copy of my travel docks separate to the originals – also email someone at home a copy as well.

Edited to add: you might want to check out my post on travel gadgets that make backpacking way easier.

I hope this list helps. If you have any questions you’re welcome to comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP. Also, take a moment to join my mailing list as I send tones of unpublished travel tips and tricks through there as well.