Saturday, 5 September 2015

What they don't tell you about travelling...

Obviously everyone wants to tell you about the positives of travelling, but I thought I would write a post on the things people don't mention all the time.

1. It can get lonely.
Travelling to a new place on your own and having to start over again getting to know people can be daunting. I really didn't want to leave Thailand and the people I had met due to a bad experience t the beginning. When I got to NZ it was hard for me to get talking to people again but thankfully I met lovely people who made it easy.

2. It can get boring.
Sitting on a 12 hour bus from Sydney to Byron Bay is not my idea of fun and the long bus journies can get boring, especially if they're overnight when people want to sleep. Not everyone wants to sit on a bus talking to their new found friend to them so make sure you have headphones/a book to keep yourself occupied.

3. You will have sleepless nights.
The beds are uncomfortable...they're cheap hostel beds so what else do you expect? If you are tired enough you will sleep anywhere.

4. There is always the annoying "seasoned" traveller.
They claim they have been everywhere and love to give you advised about t he most random things. to think they are being nice when really they're constant bragging is downright annoying.

5. In fact there's always annoying people.
The "daddy paid for my trip and I am so rich" or the "I had to work 5 jobs to afford this" and you are there like well we all wanted to travel who cares how we got here just enjoy it or leave me alone.

6. Budgeting is hard.
You planned your expenses down to the tee, but when you get to Queenstown everyone's doing the bungee and you really want to but your budget says no. At the end of the end you are only going to do this once (maybe more if you are lucky) so sod the budget and do the bungee.

Travelling is the most amazing experience but when sometime is only telling you the positives remember there are a few negatives.

Billie xxx




Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Being home

I have been home for four months now and everything is just as it was.I went back to work, I saw my friends and nothing has changed - not that I had expected it to. However, I do feel a longing to go back travelling...but I am not sure I would. Hostel Living was OK short term, but could I do it again? I'm not sure. 

My biggest regret is not flying to Fiji but instead wasting 15 days at the end of my trip in Melbourne/Sydney. It's quite a long flight to go just for a holiday so maybe that will tempt me to go back. I also want to visit Bali and I should have done that while I was in Thailand. I am trying to go back, even if just for a holiday, to Thailand to do the Thai Island Hopper East with Contiki but that only runs from April to September which is a bit hard for me next year.

What I have realised is that I hate routine - getting up, going to work, coming home. I miss the spontaneity of travelling and not knowing what the day has ahead for you, but I am not sure what I can do to generate that same feeling.

I also miss meeting new people every day and hearing their stories and I miss the people I met. I knew that the "we will stay in touch and see each other when we are home" would never happen, and normally I am someone who is OK with that and don't actually care about it, but this time I've found it hard. I miss the people I met and spent time with. Maybe because it wasn't a two week holiday in a holiday resort but an adventure of a lifetime.

Travelling has huge financial implications as well, I need to save to buy my own place but I'm torn to go travelling again. It is all so confusing right now, I thought if I left if for a while this confused feeling would go away - but it hasn't.

I thought I would come home and everything would make sense and I would know exactly what I wanted in life, but the complete opposite has happened - I feel more confused than ever. Everyone says travelling is about finding yourself, yet I feel I have sort've lost myself.

If anyone has any tips on how to get over travelling - please let me know in the comments.

Billie xxx

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Shake Shack Review

As soon as I heard that there was a Shake Shack in Stratford Westfield I NEEDED to go. So on Friday I finally dragged my brother there! As soon as we walked in he remarked "it's just like a McDonalds" and I should've taken that as a warning. After asking the cashier what he recommended, I got a Shake Burger and I can't remember what my brother got but it didn't look much different.

As soon as the food came I was disappointed, it looked lackluster and there was hardly any burger! The fries were hard and cold, and my brother said the cheese on the cheesy chips wasn't great. Then we tried our burgers, it was OK but nothing great, the sauce was a bit sickly after a while. It had the tiniest bit of lettuce and tomato on, not good value for money at all. The drinks were made up of mainly ice! My brother ordered a large half ice tea half lemonade...he might as well have got water as the ice watered it down so much. He was going to get a Shake but he gave that a miss after the terrible food. He was right it was just a glorified McDonalds.

So in summary, it wasn't worth it. I've been told Five Guys is better by some, and by others that that also isn't great so I'm skeptical to try it. Let me know what you guys think of Shake Shack below.

Billie xxx

Monday, 27 April 2015

Travel bucket list

I know I have only just come back from a trip of a lifetime, but there are so many more places I want to visit!

1. Fiji
How amazing does it look? While I was in Oz and NZ a lot of people I met had either been or were going to Fiji and it's something I wish I'd done instead of wasting 10 days in Sydney.

2. Bali
Another place a few people went that I met was Bali which also looks and sounds amazing! 

3. Gili Tragwangan
Ok clearly I just want to go places with nice beaches, but I've heard so many good things about Gili!

4. Vietnam 
I wish I had done Vietnam while I was in Thailand!

5. Cambodia
Another place I had wish I'd done while in Thailand, it looks amazing!

6. Laos
This just looks so beautiful!

7. Hawaii
Who doesn't want to go to Hawaii? It's just the place everyone dreams of going!

I also want to go back to the South Island of New Zealand, especially to do Milford Sound and the Nevis Bungy jump. I also want to go to Perth and Darwin as well as possibly doing Northern Territory of Australia and the Outback!

Let me know where is on your travel list in the comment.

Billie xxx

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Things that happen when you return from travelling

So I've come back from 3 months of travelling and it felt so weird for the first few days!

1. I had to wear normal shoes
AND IT HURT. I literally wore flip flips (jandals/thongs) for most of my trip so having to stuff my foot in a closed shoe was word. Within about 3 hours they killed me.

2. Everyone asks the same questions
"How was it?" "What was your favourite place?" and "Where did you go again?" will get asked over and over again. You find yourself felling bored with having to answer the same question, but everyone is just interested.

3. You want to smile at everyone
Then you remember you live in London and no one does that. It seems strange not to introduce yourself every day to someone new or not to smile at someone in the hope they will talk to you. You miss meeting new people and hearing about their lives.

4. You scroll through your Facebook/Instagram feeling sad
Looking at everything you posted while you were away brings back happy memories but it also makes you really sad.

5. You find yourself looking for your passport
You slightly panic when you look in our bag and your passport isn't there, and then you remember you're at home and you don't need it!

6. Food is readily available
You open the fridge and everything in it is yours! You don't have to stick a bag with your name in there in the hope that no one will steal your food.

7. Nothing has changed at home
This will depend on the amount of time you spend away, but for me everything has stayed the same!

Anyone else experienced this or have anything to add please comment :)

Billie xxx

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Things I missed while away

Yes, travelling is amazing but it's inevitable you are going to miss home comforts. Here is a few things I missed while I was away. 

1. Food.
My mums roast dinner is the best, any I had in NZ or OZ didn't come close! I found myself craving her roasts! Fish and chips was another food I missed and felt that the NZ/Oz version just wasn't the same. Yes the fish was fresher (I don't eat fish) but the chips were no here near a good, and they didn't have the option of savoloy. Proper pie and mash was another major craving I had, yes they had "Pie Face" but it wasn't proper East End Pie Mash.

2. Your own bed/space.
After a while hostel rooms with get on your nerves, no where to make a mess and just have your own space sometimes I just wanted my own privacy.

3. A proper shower.
I got so excited when the hostel had a good shower. A massive plus for me is a shower stall to put your clothes on.

4. Your car.
Ok maybe this was just me but there was a few times I just wanted to jump in my car and drive off!

5. Your wardrobe.
The ability to just open your wardrobe and moan about having nothing to wear rather than literally having nothing to wear. To just have the choice of clothes!

They probably are only silly things to miss but they are definitely things that I missed a lot. Leave a comment if there is anything you missed while travelling.

Billie xxx

Monday, 20 April 2015

Travel Tips

Everyone needs some travel tips before they embark on their journey of a lifetime, so here's mine for you.

1. Book in advance!
I met so many people who hadn't booked hostels in advance and ended up with no where to stay. Instead they had to sleep on the beach or they had to sneak into their friends rooms to sleep on the floor. I always booked in adancve using my Hostelworld app, which was brilliant.

2. Research!
Research your hostels, I made this mistake in Surfer's Paradise and ended up staying a 20 minute walk away from the main strip. Hostelworld allows users to leave reviews, so read them, also look on TripAdvisor  for reviews. Also research the area you're staying in so you know what activities there are to do and where to eat etc.

3. Budget.
Don't run out of money. So many travellers end up doing this due to extra activities. On the Kiwi Experience you sign up to the activities on the bus and end up paying for them forgetting they may not be included in your budget. This also comes into research, look at the activities to include into your budget. The Kiwi Experience do have a handy guide on how much things will cost on their website and booklet. Also, try to pay for things before you leave, which is what I done, so that you only have to budget for food/drink and accommodation. 

4. Talk to everyone!
Everyone is there for the same reason and 9 times out of ten they will want to socialise with you but may find it harder than others. Go to the events that hostels provide if you want to meet people, especially if you are travelling alone. Most hostels will have free walks or quiz nights which will help you to make friends. 

5. Open your horizons.
Don't stick to the normal big standard tourist stuff, delve deeper. I stayed in a Maori Village in NZ and it was amazing as I got to experience their culture first hand. I could have jsut watched the cultural show but I wanted to learn more about them and their lifestyle. If you can find activities like this, go for it!

6. Prepare for things not to go to plan.
It happens. Deal with it, it'll give you a new experience! My bag was left in Sydney while I was in Auckland and instead of getting angry, I dealt with it, called them made sure my bag was coming the next day (even though I did have to call them continuously the next day) and purchased some extra clothes just in case. 

7. Don't sleep in.
Ok there will be some days you really need to rest, but I met people who ended up sleeping in alot and missing out. Don't be that person, get out there! Even if you did have a massive night the night before, getting out and about will help you. 

8. Get some earplugs.
There may be a night where you want to stay in, but the rest of your room want to go out. They will come in late and they will make alot of noise, don't get angry it's going to happen. So get some earplugs and try and minimalise the noise. People will snore, talk to each other loudly and play music while you're in the room...it happens!

9. Keep a journal.
I didn't do this even though I bought one so now I am trying to retrospectively write one and it's proving difficult. I hate handwriting stuff because my handwriting is awful, so having to do 3 months worth of memories is going to be difficult. Added to that I keep forgetting things then remembering later on. Do it at the time!

That's some of my tips, if you have any more please leave a comment.

Billie xxx

East Coast of Australia

Australia. 

The place where most people want to go, and I got to experience. As most people do in Oz, I embarked on a journey of the East Coast. My first stop was Sydney for two nights and I was excited to see the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. ON my first day I woke early and started an unintentional six hour walk around Sydney. I just wanted to see everything, so from my hostel I went to the Harbour Bridge, onto the Opera House then through the Botantic Gardens, it was beautiful. I've found through my travels that I'm not a fan of the cities and this was true with Sydney, the CBD is far too much like London and I couldn't wait to move on. 
I had already purchased the Oz Experience pass through STA Travel, so I took a 12 hour Greyhound Bus to Byron Bay. Byron's a lovely relaxing place but a little small for me. Here I had booked a surf lesson and I think it's safe to say I can't surf but it was a fun experience. I also took a day trip to Nimbin and all I can say is what a weird place, it's something to experience but it's oh so weird.

Next stop Surfer's Paradise and I loved this place. Perfect to relax by the beach but also an abundance of activities to do. I had met a Canadian girl and we purchased a 3 day pass to the theme parks, but due to limited time I could only complete 2 days. We went to Wet-n-Wild and Movie World and at $90 the pass was good value for money.

After this I continued to Brisbane where I visited Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo. After watching his programs when I was younger I was very excited to see the World famous Zoo and I was not disappointed, his legacy definitely still lives on. Here I also re-connected with two guys I had met in Thailand and they showed me around their home city before taking me on a night out. This was fun as I could see the place from a locals perspective and it meant I could see beyond to typical tourist stuff.

Also included in the Oz Experience is a trip to Fraser Island so I journeyed to Rainbow Beach to start this tour. Rainbow Beach is uninspiring and probably one of the most boring place in Oz. Fraser Island on the contrary was amazing and where I met the best group of people. We spent 3 days and 2 nights there where we saw some amazing wildlife and made some amazing memories. I was gutted when it was over, but fortunately we had found out that most of us where booked on the same activities for the rest of the trip. I even ended up doing the tour with people who I met on NZ. 

Whitsunday's was next on my tour so I headed to Airlie Beach which had a lovely little lagoon to relax on. I went on boat called Siska for 2 days and 1 night, unfortunately as I'm scared of the sea I didn't snorkel here but those who did swam with a turtle. Whitsundays was one of my favourite activities, the crew was amazing and so was the experience. My ultimate favourite was Magnetic Island, where I headed to next. I stayed in Townsville the night before and I promise you, if you go to Oz, DO NOT STAY HERE. This is the most boring place I have ever been, worst than Christchurch and Rainbow Beach combined. When I got to Magnetic Island I hired a Topless Car with some of the group I met in Fraser Island in order to explore the Island. We embarked on the Forts Walk and saw a wild koala and also headed the see wild wallabies while the sunset.I loved the experience.

After this I headed to my final stop along the East Coast, Cairns, where I spent 6 nights and retrospectively wished I spent longer. Here I went to the Atherton Tablelands and visited the spot where Peter Andre shot Mysterious Girl and the Herbal Essence advert is filmed. Barefoot Tours were excellent and I would highly recommend them. Being scared of the sea I did't think I would be able snorkel The Great Barrier Reef, but which the help of a friend I managed to and it was incredible. 

Due to the fact I had a lot of time left over, I flew down to Melbourne, where the temperatures dropped dramatically, and I was adamant I was losing my tan. However, I was glad I experience Melbourne/St Kilda as well as Sydney. For the last 10 days, I headed to Bondi and back to the CBD and although I don't like Sydney I made the most of my time there. I completed to Bondi to Coogee Walk and visited Manly which I loved.

And that completes my trip of a lifetime. I made brilliant memories with some amazing people and I am gutted it's over.

Onto the next adventure? I hope so.

Billie xxx

Sunday, 19 April 2015

New Zealand South Island

After a 7.15 pickup in Wellington it was time to take the ferry over to the South Island and see what that had in store for us.

Our first stop was Kaiterteri which was beautiful! It was a lodge on its own next to the beach. We stayed on the beach for a few hours after arriving before departing again the next day. If I had known how pretty and relaxing it was I think I would have stayed an extra night to experience it. Unfortunately I didn't so it was time to head to Westport the next day where we could either embark on a surf lesson or paddle boarding. Seeing as I had already paid to do my Surf Lesson in Australia, I decided on the paddle boarding which I was to do in the morning. Well, this never happened as some of the group came back from the nights paddle boarding and expressed how disappointed they were with it and that I shouldn't bother getting up early to do it. Apparently the tide was low and the water was dirty, and in my opinion if the instructors are aware of this then they should not allow the lesson to do ahead. Luckily, the local cinema had agreed to stay open late for us so they we could see a special screening of Fifty Shades of Grey. It wasn't the best film but it was nice to go with people and all laugh at how bad the film was.

The next day was headed to Lake Mahinapua, affectionately known as the "Poo Pub". On our way there was stopped off in a shopping town so that we could buy some materials for the party later that night as it was fancy dress and our theme was "Face Paint". Upon arrival we were given shots, best check-in ever, and shown to our lodges. A few of us headed to the Lake which was very scenic before getting ready for the night ahead. I was a Lion and Lydia kindly painted this for me as I am not very artistic. The winner of the face paint would receive a free Canyon Swing to do in Queenstown so everyone put in a lot of effort. Our food for the night was a Roast Dinner, which I was excited for as I had missed these from home, but unfortunately it didn't live up to my mums standards. Then the night began, it was such a good night and the bus completely bonded! I didn't win though :( but I was going to do the Canyon Swing regardless. The next day, some of us with sore heads, we headed to Franz Josef, the home of the Glacier Walk. 

For me, Franz Josef was a place to relax as I didn't take part in any activities. We did that night however have all you can eat pizza for $12. For backpackers this is amazing as we will literally eat all the pizza, but even this defeated us as it didn't stop coming! We also had a free day here for the people who did want to do the glacier walk and it was a chance to catch up with people we knew on the bus behind us. The stop after this was Wanaka, which was the calm before the storm of Queenstown. We arrived on the same day as a triathlon and sat by the Lake while watching them. That night a few of us watched the end of it and found out someone had got married along the way! An early night ensued so that we were ready for Queenstown.

Queenstown. My favourite place ever. I love Queenstown. Adrenaline Capital of the World. Our first stop was the first Bungy Jump where a few of us jumped and the rest spectated. We then got to our accommodation and headed straight to the Canyon Swing. This was amazing. You can chose how you can leave the platform, I chose to go by "The Chair". I was supposed to lean back and push myself off but I couldn't do this so the people who worked there let me go...literally. The staff there are sicko's! They play with you soooo much to scare you, but at the same time it's amazing. After screaming my head off I realised I loved it! That night it was a bus bar crawl around the town which was amazing and drunken! I spent 3 nights in Queenstown and ended up on bar crawls every night with the other buses as they had people on who I knew. Queenstown is the place you re-meet everyone and it's amazing. During the next two days I just relaxed with people, watched Tash get a tattoo and got my tragus pierced. Unfortunately I didn't get to do the Milford Sound but I heard it was amazing.

We then headed to Lake Tekapo...not much to say about this place it's just a stop and I was gutted we left people I had made friends with, however the scenery is beautiful. After this I spent 2 days in Christchurch which is the most depressing place ever due to the 2011 earthquake. I even had to spend my birthday there and if its wasn't for the people there I would have hated it. Such a shame a good trip was spoiled by an anti-climax.

In summary, New Zealand is beautiful and I cant recommend it enough. Go there if you can. I can't upload pictures at the moment to prove this but head over to my Instagram to see them as there are loads on there. If you do go NZ, go with The Kiwi Experience, it's the best way to do it and they are amazing. They have so many different passes which can be tailored to you. My bus driver Simon was so informative but so funny at the same time and made my trip. I met amazing people on that bus! GO TO NEW ZEALAND.

Next stop Australia.

Billie xxx

Monday, 2 March 2015

New Zealand North Island

Oh New Zealand how you amazed me! Such a pretty country!!! Here I done the Kiwi Experience, which is good but a few admin errors on their part did cause a stir. I started in Auckland and went up to the Bay of Islands before returning to Auckland. Paihia was so beautiful and we were there for a major anniversary of the signing of a treaty between the Maori's and Europeans.

From Auckland we went to Hot Water Beach where supposedly you can make a hole and its hot but the tide was too far in for us to do this. Then it was on to Waitomo where I went caving...OMG what an experience! The glowworms lit up the cave!!!

Then it was onto Rotorua which stunk of eggs!!! This place was different as we stayed at the Maori Village for a night which was amazing! We learnt games, weaving and a song! We ate amazing food after watching a Cultural show and when everyone left we sat in hot tubs and toasted marshmallows.

Next was Taupo where we got to stay 2 nights so I partook in a skydive 15000ft high! Best experience of my life!!! So weird when you're freefalling for 80seconds but so amazing. The same night we sailed on the Lake to watch the sunset. So surreal how you meet new people most days and have the best time with them.

The penultimate destination of the North Island was River Valley which was in the bum f**ck of no where as our driver Simon would put it. It was so pretty and so away from everything and we had such a good night. Although we did have a massive 32 bed dorm to share!

Lastly was Wellington which I barely saw as we got there 7pm and left the next day at 7am. If I had the chance I would have spent the next day there too so I could experience the capital.

NEXT UP...SOUTH ISLAND.

Billie xxx

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Thailand

Hello!

First on my list was Thailand where I done a Contiki Tour called Thai Islans Hopper West. I would honestly tell everyone to do Contiki tours, they are amazing.

I started in Bangkok on my own for 2 nights and I can safely say I wont be going back there. I've found that people either love or hate it there and unfortunately I hated it.

I travelled to Phuket to join the tour group in Patong. I was so lucky to have met an amazing group of people and spend the most 8 days with them. Patong is a crazy crazy crazy place. So surreal and so different from day to night. Here we embarked on a day trip to James Bond Island among other stops. We were taken around an area by canoes which was amazing and the guides enthusiastically took many pictures for us.

Then it was onto Ko Phi Phi which was lovely. During day it day it was so lovely and relaxing but at night it completely changed. We stayed on a lovely hotel on the beach. We also had a boat trip here which took us to Maya Beach, the Beach from the Leonardo DiCaprio film. This was absolutely beautiful. We also could snorkel and swim when we stopped.

We finished in Krabi where I feel 2 nights was not enough to explore so I feel a return is needed. I did have a Thai Massage here which HURT! I opted to get it done "strong" and I regretted it instantly, an hour of torture!

Now I am in New Zealand but I really want to return to do Thai Island Hopper East! So fingers crossed.

Billie xxx

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Surviving the plane journey

Hello

Plane journies are never fun but long haul ones are just a pain. I literally sat next to someone who sung to her ipod! I also find it sooooo hard to sleep on planes hence why i spent my first day in Bangkok sleeping!!! By far the best airline I have been in to date is Emirites!!! The service was brilliant and the plane food...omg amazing!

I literally stopped over in Dubai for an hour and have only seen the airport but have totally decided I need to go there! Definitely next on my list of places!

Billie xxx

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Travelling...

Hello!


So I soon will be travelling to the other side of the world!!! So I wanted to do a post on essentials I am taking!

1. Backpack!
Obviously! No way am I going to be a traveler wheeling around a suitcase. I've bought an Osprey one that has a detachable day park which I think is such a good idea when I am on little day trips I wont have to take the heavy backpack.

2. Sleeping bag inline
I am going to be staying in hostels so just in case the beds are a bit grotty I can sleep in this.

3. Towel
No this is not any old beach towel, this is probably the best towel I have ever discovered. It is literally the size of a calculator when folded up and its micro fibre and super absorbent. Literally the best thing ever!

4. Waterproof jacket
I am going to hot countries, but some hot/humid countries means random downpours so I figured it would be best just to have one.

5. Insect repellent
Purely because mosquito/gnat bites are the most annoying thing ever.

6. Flight socks
No one wants to end up with blood clots! With so many flights these are probably a wise thing to buy.

7. Wipes
Just in case you need wipes! They are such a good thing to have even on a day to day basis.

Well these are some of the things I will be taking with me! Let me know if there are any other essentials I should be taking!

Billie xxx