My Favourite Five Fiction Books to Take Travelling

…whilst pushing your travel boundaries, push your literary ones too!

If you’ve ever been travelling you probably know that one way to survive long flights, bus trips or delays is to carry a good book.

These are just a few of my favourites, after all I love books and often read one a day if I’m on a beach day!

1. The Motorcycle Diaries – Che Guevara

One of my favourite books, short, easy to read and essential reading before any trip to South America or Cuba.

My Goodreads review

2. The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury

 

This will make you question how you judge a people and a place, so whilst pushing your travel boundaries, push your literary ones too.

My Goodreads review
Continue reading “My Favourite Five Fiction Books to Take Travelling”

My Tiny London City Break – it’s not just palaces and designer shops

Here I identify a gap in the market. Reading glasses. Why don’t book shops sell them?

My Tiny London City Break – it’s not just palaces and designer shops

My Tiny London City Break - it's not just palaces and designer shops

London is a great city break destination. Not the cheapest city to visit but if you can afford a day or two it’s quirky and not just palaces and expensive designer shops, although they are there too.


Getting To London

Due to bagging a bargain first class ticket I end up in the Virgin First Class waiting room, lush. I’m a bit of a reverse snob so do feel a little awkward entering the ‘exclusive’ area with its lovely and surprisingly comfy designer chairs.

Virgin Trains First Class Waiting Room

(Note to self, write and ask Richard Branson for one of the spares, would be ideal for my hallway)

For some reason at Doncaster, luckily sunny Donny as usual, the first class carriage stops miles down the platform, well 100 yards at least, so I trekked off to the distant pillar with the helpful carriage number posted on it and waited for an on time train.

Doncaster Rail Station

Easy to find my seat, settle in, plug in charger for phone and log on free wifi. The wifi is a bit hit and miss but as it’s free and easy to log in I have no problem with it. Pinterest with its heavy image base didn’t load but I was able to do some emails, catch up with Twitter and start this post in my Scrivener app.

Free refreshments are in with the ticket price, although my train was the early one so the breakfast only menu was on. A little muffin didn’t quite do it, when I had my heart set on the chicken wrap but it’s free so who am I to moan.  I daren’t risk the chocolate Danish whilst wearing a white cotton top.

Arrival in London

Numerous teas later, yes you know I love my brews, I arrived in London.

Continue reading “My Tiny London City Break – it’s not just palaces and designer shops”

5 Reasons to Travel on the Tranzalpine Railroad, Aotearoa, New Zealand – Christchurch to Greymouth

If you live at the top of a mountain, where it rains, a lot, I guess you need a sense of humour.

Tranzalpine Railroad, Aotearoa, New Zealand Christchurch to Greymouth5 Reasons to Travel on the Tranzalpine Railroad, Aotearoa, New Zealand – Christchurch to Greymouth

1. The Tranzalpine train link between Christchurch and Greymouth, Aotearoa, New Zealand, is one of the world’s most iconic rail journeys

I know why. It’s a cliche but the scenic route is truly visually stunning. It is hard to capture the number of oohs, aaahs and wows that you hear. Both your own and fellow traveller’s as you watch the highs and lows of the terrain through the huge picture windows. The train has an plug in audio commentary for travellers to learn as they go along, I’d recommend tuning in to it. Embrace your inner tourist and listen to the experts, you really should learn something about the area.

2. You can relax and look at the amazing scenery without distraction

The route goes up to the infamous Arthur’s Pass high in the mountains. A windy place occupied by a tiny community. Some people go there for a day or three, no doubt to go hiking or mountaineering. I salute you. The terrain didn’t look hospitable, even on a sunny day. It is hard to imagine how bleak it would have been for ‘Arthur’ and any other pioneers. As we learnt on the train commentary the original terrain would have been basically dry grasses, most of the greenery we now see has been imported over the decades / centuries. Bleak indeed.

Land of the long white cloudThe ‘land of the long white cloud’ is illustrated quite clearly, although the weather change dramatically through the day and from one side of a very long tunnel and the other.  The palm trees in such a desolate place was a surprise, especially when I’m told my garden in Sunny Donny isn’t warm enough for one.



3. The train has an open sided carriage to allow for clear photography

The very breezy and chilly open cabin is fantastic. Take your coat it is more than a bit nippy! Put your camera around your neck or on a wrist strap. You let go of it up here you sure as heck ain’t going to get it back! Don’t stick your head or hands out in a tragic selfie fashion either as unexpected bridges and tunnels pop up unannounced. Tranzalpine viewsI laughed at the thought of having something similar in a fairly mild UK climate, maybe across the Pennines. Our UK system is so totally dominated by Health & Safety it wouldn’t get past the drawing board. Well done to the brave souls allowing a truly immersive travelling experience in the open air.

I chatted with one guy who lives nearby and travels regularly in the open carriage just to get back in touch with his local area and its beauty. What a great idea. How often do you do that where you live?

4. It’s an education

Braided River in New Zealand

Do you know what a braided river is? No, me neither until I discovered it’s one ‘braided’ by the debris and gravel brought down by the waters from the hills. They are dramatic, beautiful and a little intimidating. I can imagine the powerful waters just rushing down one day, taking everything in its path on its torrential journey.

If you live at the top of a mountain, where it rains, a lot, I guess you need a sense of humour. I hadn’t expected to see such imaginative art in a garden at the rail track, so who ever you are – WELL DONE!

Corrugated Iron ArtworkCorrugated metal art in a ‘thing’ in Aotearoa (NZ), no idea why but you see it in the most unexpected places. It’s a personal choice I guess but local art adds character so is always a bonus.

5. It gets you from A to B, what more do you need

Oh yes, and the day I travelled was the day I discovered a strange jelly type sweet (I’m reserving judgment on that one, excuse the almost cannibalistic joining of the two dissected bodies) and Peanut slab! Peanut Slab & CoffeeDEEP JOY!!! Anyone travelling in Aotearoa you HAVE to try it (peanut allergy excepted of course)

You may also like:

https://www.christieadamswriter.com/5-reasons-i-became-a-backpacker-yes-me-a-50-year-old-woman/

Why are the Blue Mountains blue?

http://www.newzealand.com/int/arthurs-pass/

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5 Reasons to Visit Wellington in Aotearoa, New Zealand

If you have any recommendations for people who wish to stay longer please let me know, I can only comment on the things I saw in my very few hours in this harbour of culture which sits at the feet of a tall and thriving metropolis.

5 Reasons to Visit Wellington in Aotearoa, New Zealand5 Reasons to Visit Wellington in Aotearoa, New Zealand

After driving for many hours with this view or ones very similar, we arrived in Wellington on the North Island of Aotearoa (aka New Zealand) I can think of a dozen reasons to do the same again, but here’s my first 5.

Aotearoa Mountain Landscape

1. People focussed city centre

I keep emphasising you should be making your own schedules, don’t always go with the guide books however…I’m my own worst enemy.

I listened when people said, don’t spend much time in Wellington. It was a mistake but I don’t do regret so all’s good. This mistake meant we only had a few hours whilst waiting for the ferry (to the South Island) to fully explore and enjoy Wellington.

Please try to stay longer as from my short visit it proved to be a place to enjoy at leisure, cafe culture and history well balanced for people to enjoy. A melting pot of cafe dwellers. Office workers in their precious downtime chilling out on huge water front floor cushions.  Children kayaking in the safe haven harbour. Trend setters lounging with the ever present phones in hand, selfie heaven.

OK, so it was warm and sunny and we found a gorgeous organic cafe with amazing take away food to eat at the harbour, oh and a craft market full of retro fabrics, crafts and local art, so maybe my view is biased.

2. Art and sculpture

Yes Wellington you do the ‘expensive’ or ‘mainstream’ pieces better than Melbourne (no one can beat Melbourne for street art)

Solace in the Wind

I love works by Andrew Gormley and this one reminds me of his work. Its also very ‘Prometheus’ don’t you think?

Solace in the Wind

‘Solace in the Wind’, the naked man leaning over the edge of the harbour as if being held up by a gust of wind, is the work of Max Patte – an Englishman who came to Wellington to work at Weta Studios (the effects company behind movies like Avatar and the Lord of the Rings trilogy). Patte was inspired to create the sculpture in response to his own feelings about the Wellington waterfront, a place that he found comforting during difficult times. While the wind might not feel solacing to everyone, it is an inspiring statement on the emotional ties we develop with places….”

3. Maori history and art as the norm not an added extra

The harbour area was the place we spent our time. The ‘powers that be’ have incorporated maori style artwork within the buildings and bridge structures so they are part of the built environment. They stand out for tourists but also become part of every day for locals. I love that idea and wish more local areas would embrace their histories with such enthusiasm. Until we accept that we are all products of multi-culturalism we will never Wellington Sculpturereally be at peace together. Art and architecture has a huge part to play in that (sorry just had to get that out of my system)

Make sure you don’t miss all the small plaques along the dock area, tributes to sailors, soldiers and citizens lost at sea or at war. Take the time to read them, they are both moving and informative. 

4. Ferry that ran on time

This small but often ignored fact is one which, to a traveller, can mean the difference between getting to a safe accommodation on time or not arriving at all. It can not be underestimated.



5. A comfortable, cosmopolitan, credible (and apparently safe) waterside dock

Wellington HarbourThe planners have incorporated old and new and in what looks like a fairly recently renovated harbour area succeeded in making a place for people. Young, old, local, traveller, all mingled in. A group of guys placing soccer on the faux grass pitch, maori art used as architectural pieces of value.

Brilliant, one up for town planners, credit where it’s due.

If you have any recommendations for people who wish to stay longer please let me know, I can only comment on the things I saw in my very few hours in this harbour of culture which sits at the feet of a tall and thriving metropolis.

You may also like:

https://www.christieadamswriter.com/maori-hangi/

https://www.christieadamswriter.com/rotorua-wai-o-tapu-aotearoa/

Nomadic Matt

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5 Reasons I Became A Backpacker, Yes Me, A 50 Year Old Woman!

I get asked this so often, so I thought I’d explain the 5 main reasons I became a backpacker as a 50 year old woman

5 Reasons I Became A Backpacker, Yes Me, A 50 Year Old Woman!I am constantly surprised by how many women, young and old, say to me ‘Aren’t you scared?’ or ‘Wow, I could never do that’ or even ‘You must be mad, it’s dangerous!’

What prompts friends to worry so much about me, am I going bungee jumping off the grand canyon or maybe walking barefoot across hot coals? No, just going on a holiday with a back pack instead of a suitcase. I know! Crazy right?

I get asked this so often, so I thought I’d explain the 5 main reasons I became a backpacker as a 50 year old woman:

1. I couldn’t afford to visit the places I wanted to see any other way

My independent nature has led me to always pay my way. I’ve never been answerable to anyone for my bills and as a single parent money was always tight. My redundancy payment meant I finally had the cash if I managed it right. My bucket list, now called my ‘f**k it’ list, included seeing Uluru in Australia’s Red Centre. I investigated tours OMG not an option! So I looked at flight prices. Hmm, not too bad. I’d used YHA in the UK, so investigated hostels in Australia…looking more accessible now…I planned and planned and planned and guess what I did it! Un- be – lee – va – bull!!

2. I wanted to challenge myself

Why now? I never had a gap year in my youth, they were something hairy university students did. It was the era when only the children of the rich could afford university let alone gap years. So I never got to travel very far afield then. Then came the mortgage, solo, so I had to stay employed or lose my home. This was before career breaks were even thought of let alone suggested. Next I had my daughter. Whilst I did take her camping and occasionally overseas, I had strict timetables of holidays dates from the 9-5 and nurseries etc. Travelling with a pack just didn’t seem possible. Excuses, excuses. I have often chosen the safe option, I did a 9 – 5 office job for years. I worked in a risk environment so often chose the path less bumpy. I don’t regret anything, you do what you have to do to get by, to put on food on the table etc. However life is short, you have to take some risks, I still battle my inner risk manager.

3. I want to be a positive female role model

So move on a few years. I’m married. I’m a grandmother. I’ve been made redundant from my career three times. I know! Who saw any of that coming! My daughter needed to see a woman can do anything if she puts her mind to it. She should get that inspiration from me. She’s a parent herself now. My grand children need to know that granny went to that place on the globe that’s all the way around the other side. They need to see someone standing on top of a volcano. If they don’t see me pushing myself what will motivate them to do the same?

4. I now have the luxury of time

I was determined to make a third redundancy a positive thing. I went through the stages of grief you go through when you lose something so fundamental in your life, it wasn’t easy. I’m a stubborn independent person who refuses to be browbeaten by people. I’m no longer restricted by only being able to take a maximum two week break from work. I’m no longer tied by that ridiculous rule in the UK of being fined if you take your kids out of school to travel (oh, don’t get me started!) I have time to plan. I can spend time checking out the flight prices, reading the travel guides, learning from bloggers who’ve been there, done that. Importantly if you are able to be flexible in your plans you can access much cheaper flights etc.

5. I wanted to be like my Dad

My Dad never went back packing, as far as I know. However on his death bed he told me “I’ve seen everything I want to see. I’ve done everything I want to do” Wow! Awesome, how cool was that. Now there’s a certain point in your life, that sneaks up on you, a voice that says “Blooming heck! I have to do this now before I’m too old to do it, or dead!” That may be when you lose a parent or a friend who’s younger than you. When you lose your job. It can happen when you notice one too many hairs in the wrong place or wrinkles that seem to have appeared in your sleep.When I lost my Dad I had so much to do, so much I wanted to see. I knew I had to start, and start soon. I did not want to get to the pearly gates, or what ever else we see at the end, and think ‘if only’. Anyway, whatever the reason I hope you reach that point sooner rather than later and get out of any rut you’re in. Whilst I miss my family like crazy when I travel Skype and FaceTime mean I can chat with the grand babies at the click of a button from anywhere with wifi (Thank you McDonalds)

So, what possessed me to become a backpacker as a 50 year old woman? Christie Adams with a backpackWell, the question for me was why wouldn’t I. I love a list, so I sat down and wrote a list of places and things I wanted to see. I’m ticking them off, one by one. I won’t get to them all, that’s the point, it’s an evolving list however I’ve only been backpacking a few years and already have seen more than I ever imagined.

Backpacking is such an obvious choice once you sit down and think about it. If you are in any doubt if you should try it, YES YES and YES you should. Bit scared? Just go for a weekend away, in a hostel with a day pack. Try it! You won’t regret it.

If you want to just go for it full on, my Australia trip may give you some pointers.

Good female travel blogs to check out for more inspiration:

http://theblondeabroad.com/

http://floratheexplorer.com/

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Top 5 reasons to attend a Maori Hangi

haka and women doing the poi, if you think it looks easy have a go. I have my own poi and can even whack myself on the back of my head if I lose concentration!

Maori drummers at a Maori Hangi - night timeWhen in Aotearoa (New Zealand) you must try to attend a hangi. It is based around food, ceremony and the traditional cooking in a pit with hot stones.It can feel a bit touristy but get over that and enjoy it.

We went to our hangi (pronounced hungi) in Rotorua with an independent maori managed company, who had gone into the industry to take ownership of their history back from the big hotel chains, Tamaki Maori Village. You can stay overnight however we only had time for the evening event. Transport etc all included.

It’s worth looking for one similar rather than pay to go on a really falsely profiting and manufactured one. We had a full evening, including demonstrations of a village with maori arts, history etc. A show with haka and women doing the poi, if you think it looks easy have a go. I have my own poi and can even whack myself on the back of my head if I lose concentration! Not for me the flaming poi of hippies at Glastonbury then.

Maori woodcarver

We learnt about how the facial tattoos are designed, symbolism and sadly ongoing prejudice. We spoke to a few maori who knew they couldn’t get their facial tattoos permanently etched until they retired as ‘society’ would not employ them. Oh don’t get me started, when will we learn to look to the inside of a person not the shell that holds them.

Maori wood carving of a manIt was a great evening, the only slight criticism, which was acknowledged by the organisers before I mentioned it. I couldn’t see how chocolate cake, custard, meringue and peaches fit in to the culture, but I guess needs must and folk wanted a pudding so that’s what was easy to serve the masses. It was tasty at the end of a long day.

 

Top 5:

The haka (I can never get enough)

Encouragement to take photos to ‘spread the word about maori history’

Education

Culture

Art

Ageism in the travel industry, can we move on please?

Ageism in the travel industry, can we move on please? As a single mum I struggled to afford a tent let alone a flight. Now I am able to book on budget flights and travel abroad I refuse to allow someone to stop me because of my date of birth.

Originally I posted this in August 2015, I wanted to remind you that I’m happy to research and promote companies who do not discriminate on age.
Christie Adams at top of Angkor Wat temple
Lifelong ambition

In my new state of mindfulness assisted by Buddha and an Apple app, I still sadly find myself annoyed, disappointed and sometimes downright cross, which I agree is a very British emotion.

“What causes this disgruntlement?” I hear you cry. “Well…” it is due to the travel industry and how they exclude consumers purely basing their bias on age.

You need to market to your ‘audience’, I know that, I’ve done sales training. Demographics are a basic foundation stone to achieving sales. Your audience is those people who have an interest in your product, who contact you, buy your products or more commonly these days those who find you in the leviathan aka the internet.

Black and White photograph of a grave yard
A while yet

I have searched the world wide web to track down a travel company who specialises in yak riding in the upper volta, yes this is a slightly exaggerated example used to illustrate the argument. However, can you imagine my frustration at being told I can partake this exclusive and no doubt thrilling occupation but only if I haven’t yet reached the grand old age of 31!

A travel company who specialise in gap year travel helped with honeymoon arrangements supporting my own efforts to visit Asia. I had the nerve to get married over that magic age of 31, something young ones find amusing if not totally confusing. To be honest it confused me a bit too!

Christie Adams on a beach swing in Thailand
Bliss

I been greeted by a travel agent staff member (no name tag luckily) who reluctantly left their ‘much more important than an old customer’ cup of tea to advise they ‘usually cater to people who are at university’. He only just managed to avoid the ‘you’re too old for me to care’ which still came across with his follow up statement of ‘most of our tours are aimed at those under 30.’ Ironically I attended university, and graduated, in my 40’s too so his comment made even less sense to me.

Avoiding physical assault charges by resisting the temptation to show that old women can still pack a punch I took the moral high ground and left. I returned later and spoke to my usual contact, female,  who BRILLIANTLY helped arrange a bucket list trip. I think it’s such a shame that the company could have missed out and so could I because of a prejudice without any foundation.

The ‘pink pound’ of the 80’s was replaced with the ‘financial equity release’ of the 00’s this continues and with massive redundancy packages and streamlining of employers getting older people out and about at much younger ages. Surely this is a massive market. They aren’t all wealthy, they aren’t all able to or want to use 5 star hotels with armed guards or take a sedate cruise. As a single mum I struggled to afford a tent let alone a flight. Now I am able to book on budget flights and travel abroad I refuse to allow someone to stop me because of my date of birth.

Christie Adams in Hong Kong in a chair
I don’t need one of these just yet!

Many, many want to enjoy their newly gained freedom, spend money in ethical outlets and tick off items on the bucket lists. Please can companies start opening up their tours to this group? We aren’t all in bath chairs however we may not want to get rat a*sed overnight either. I’m fairly sure not everyone below the age of 30 wants to do that either to be fair.

In the past month I have been excluded from a travel photography competition, a travel competition and a writing competition all because I now have a lower number in my DOB box. WHY!! I now have the time to do these things, I may want to share them with my offspring or friends and as mortality is looming, so I’m informed by the looks of the younger travel staff, I have the enthusiasm to get up and do it too.

If younger people now need colouring books to destress them, maybe its time to accept that older folk may actually want to see outside their bubble and ‘burbs and partake of food, drink and activities. That may be in their own country or in the web that is the real big wide world.

Ageism in the travel industry, can we move on please? A major incentive to start my blog was to share with others the joy of experiencing independent travel. I intend to push my own boundaries and will share what I can with my readers. Please subscribe if you share the will to enjoy your life, no matter what age. I don’t record your DOB, its not relevant to me, and shouldn’t be to others.

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Hervey Bay – a whale of a time

We MUST start respecting our oceans

Whale breach
Whale breach

The research says Hervey Bay is the main hop off point for Fraser Island, however sadly our timetable didn’t allow for that excursion. Hervey was mainly scheduled in to break up an otherwise long journey on the Greyhound bus.

Only having four hours to spare whilst in town we relied on the receptionist at the hostel / campsite to advise us on the best use of that time. We owe her a huge debt of gratitude. Originally plans were to ensure no holiday activity or experience was duplicated and whale watching was scheduled in for New Zealand / Aotearoa.

Whale Tail
Whale Tail

Once we chatted with the locals we decided to squeeze in a whale watching boat trip of half a day. We didn’t hold out much hope, after all why should we be so arrogant as to expect wild life to pander to our pathetic half a day time frame, if nothing else we’d have a boat trip. I also had concerns about the ethics of ‘chasing’ a spectacular animal whilst they just peacefully moved through the seas. The boat we chose had a marine biologist on board so we hoped that gave it credibility. This later proved to be acceptable to us as we did back off from each whale promptly and didn’t approach too close. I have seen horrific shark and dolphin watching where up to 30 boats and divers totally encircle and ‘hound’ the animals, surely that shouldn’t be legal.

Whale Mum & Baby
Whale Mum & Baby
Whale showing off
Whale showing off

Anyone who has seen animals in the wild will know that I can’t describe the thrill and privilege of watching a whale feed her baby, our biologist advised us she assumes a ‘tail up’ position for the young one. I was torn between watching and photographing. Life should be seen directly not through a lens but I wanted to capture the magnificence too. Apparently the mother’s ‘wave’ as they watch the boats, I really hope we didn’t stress her out.

Just to reassure you I have zoomed in on these images, the joys of my new Tamron 16-300mm lens.

 

Top 5 things I learnt in Hervey:

Speak to the locals

Don’t waste a moment, if you have a spare hour, use it

Respect nature

Choose the ethical option wherever possible

We MUST start respecting our oceans

(OK, sorry such a predictable title for today’s blog)

Why are the Blue Mountains blue?

As I expressed my concern at the gale force winds I was corrected by the owner of the resort, who just happened to be passing. He informed me the same type of cable cars are used in ski resorts and are perfectly capable of keeping us in one piece.

Three Sisters
Three Sisters

Why are the Blue Mountains blue? Yep, same question I asked. When you get there it becomes apparent that they aren’t a harsh artificial blue just a soft blue hue. Upon discussion in a group of locals and tourists we think it’s because of the reflection of the sky against the white trunks of the trees. The trees in Australia have various genius ways of self preservation and restoration after fire, one of which is to shed it’s bark, leaving a white trunk. So I’m told, arborists feel free to correct me. Anyway the blue enhances the absolutely breath taking views.

View from cable car
View from cable car

I pushed my limits once again by not only taking to a seemingly deadly steep tram / train journey down a ravine and back up in a cable car. I then travelled across a deep ravine in a what I considered a glass bottomed ‘death cage’ otherwise known as a ‘skyway’.

Words in Stone
Words in Stone

As I expressed my concern at the gale force winds I was corrected by the owner of the resort, who just happened to be passing. He informed me the same type of cable cars are used in ski resorts and are perfectly capable of keeping us in one piece. I’m here, so guess what he got it right. Thankfully.

Top 5 things about Blue Mountains:

The views

The walks into the woodlands

The opportunity to challenge yourself

An unspoilt wilderness

They really are BLUE!

5 Great Reasons To Go Back Packing

Don’t put on big headphones, listen to the announcements, soak in the languages, watch the boards, chat to someone. You may get inspiration for your next trip. Trust me you will want to do it again.

5 Great Reasons To Go Backpacking written on a tropical beach sceneI always held aspirations to go backpacking however for various reasons, children, work, money, excuses, fear etc I didn’t get started until after I reached 50.  Wow, if I did regrets I may regret that. Why?

1. It’s the freedom to do what you want. I know, cliched, but trust me, it is. You put your pack on your back and go where you like. You will get all sorts of advice about how a true backpacker walks everywhere, or scarily hitch hikes (please don’t do this unless you are very experienced, if at all). Well that’s OK for those who choose to but don’t be ashamed if you get a bus or a taxi. They can save you hours which you can then enjoy doing whatever exciting activity you choose. All you need to do is book your flights and leave the ‘in-between’ to plan as you go. If you aren’t on a deadline you can get an open ended ticket. If you like the reassurance of having things booked you can do that. Hint! Always allow more time than you think. Work on the theory that timetables are a sort of rough guide, not factual. Relax and enjoy the moment.

2. Your money goes further. Now this is a big bonus and I can promise you I wouldn’t have seen Asia or Australia any other way. You won’t get dragged in to buying loads of unwanted souvenirs, you can’t carry them! How to save most money? PLANNING!! You may see hippies along the way who take every day as it comes however they may also have a laptop in their pack, an online marketing business and access to every app in existence that taps into cheap flights. You get cheap flights, especially long haul, by planning. Don’t rule out going to a travel agent and asking for their advice. They are professionals, they know things. You can pinch ideas about itineraries from them or pick up their brochures (I often cut out the small maps to stick in my travel journal)

3. You meet people. Now this is a tricky one for me, as I tend to be a recluse. I guess most writers are. I am quite happy in my own space. However, when you travel with a pack you tend to meet more people and talk. You meet people who are travelling. You meet people who work in cafes and bistros. Yes, you talk to locals.Do not be fooled by appearances, or intimidated. You meet passengers on buses. You meet people who drive buses. This is great because people know stuff, they know things about your destination that isn’t in brochures, you can make friends across the globe so easily. It enhances the whole experience, honestly. You get the idea? Too scary, need a moment? Put your headphones on and hold a book.

4. Your money is well spent. I am surprised and saddened at how many people don’t spend money locally at their chosen holiday destinations. Please get out there, buy coffee, chat with locals (see no. 3) I love street food. Your tour operator will often tell you to avoid it if they have a restaurant they want you to go to, wonder why that is…hmm. Anyway, I always carry my own cutlery and make sure I see the raw food before it gets thrown on the burners. Think about it, in a restaurant can you do that? Your money goes directly into the local economy. Hint! One exception you could make to this local support ethos is to use the traveller’s secret resource…McDonalds! Free wifi folks! Now you know why the hippies go abroad and still sit in Macker D’s. I highly recommend their Asian iced tea, it’s on the kids menu but yummy!

5. It’s fun and life affirming. You may need a few days to settle in to your new routine, or lack of it, then you really will feel amazing. Try hard to avoid the last minute rush, pack in advance, make lists, carry a planner, read your tour guides, get your travel insurance, wear comfy clothes. If you can, get to the airport a bit early, relax. You are on holiday now! I love people watching and trust me at airports you get every mix you can imagine. Don’t put on big headphones, listen to the announcements, soak in the languages, watch the boards, chat to someone. You may get inspiration for your next trip. Trust me you will want to do it again. Enjoy every moment, watch the sunsets, wake up for sunrise, get that bus to the other side of the city/island/country and don’t forget to let me know how it went via the comments or social media, you’ll find the links here: contact page

So make plans, you can do it no matter what age you are. It will be worth it and I’m sure once you’ve tried it you’ll be hooked.

Further reading:

Check out my blog, some posts about Australia coming soon…

Check out some other great blogs:

http://www.justapack.com/about-us/

http://www.thebrokebackpacker.com/top-10-travel-blogs/

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