Preparing for your adventures.

Travelling is something that people either do or don’t do. But either way, travelling is one of the worlds greatest adventures. Although I wouldn’t say I am as worldly wide as I hoped, I do have a reasonable amount of knowledge upon the area, that I’m willing to share. If you’re here, reading this post you’re either:

A) a traveller who is interested in how other people prepare

B) a newbie traveller, looking for all the advice they can get, or

C) simply curious.

There is no right or wrong in preparing to travel, of course, there are the obvious things that you have to do before you step on a plane and adventure out into another country. But realistically, you can prepare how you want to do it. If you’re going to a destination after destination, some people would rather book before they leave their home country. However, others are more interested in the pure adventure and just going where the wind takes them. I, personally, would rather book beforehand. Although I do love adventure, without the lack of organisation, I would have an anxiety meltdown.

I have travelled a fair amount of times and still, one of my favourite things to do is read articles, watch YouTube videos and admire people’s photography skills, this to me gets me motivated… inspires me to travel and see the world for what it is. However, almost everytime I read or watch or view something relating to travelling there is always some new advice that I come across. Travelling, is constantly changing and developing. Advice is everywhere.

“Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell not stuff to show.”

Travelling is a daunting aspect, whether you’re an avid traveller or new. Every time I step onto a plane, after countless of times being on one. I get a wave of panic, have I forgotten something? what if I don’t like where I’m going? what if it isn’t the great experience I expected? what if I don’t see the places I want to see? But, this is something you have to get over time and time again. It is understandable, you’re going to a new country – maybe alone, maybe with people that you hardly know – most of the time, the culture is different in comparison to your own, people live in a way you could never imagine, language barriers come to clash, you may have never come across some of the food dishes in your life. But although, all these reasons are scary for the individual traveller. They’re also the reason you wanted to travel in the first place.

Therefore, to travel, these are my main tips and tricks:

  • Plan, research & budget: If you wish to take a year out to travel, for this, I would ideally start to plan and research a year or two before. Of course, this all depends on your financial status and whether you can afford the places you wish to go. If not, how long will it take you to save up for those places? Get a job and put so much money away every month. Have a goal target for the years end. Research where you would like to travel to and what type of places you would like to visit once there. Of course, you will be on a time frame so don’t have the expectations that you will be able to see and do everything in a certain country.
  • Bank accounts & SIM cards: Inform your bank that you’re going away. If you’re taking your debit/credit card with you and start to splash the cash, your back will become suspicious about spending abroad and may lock your account. Not something you would like to entertain on your travels. Of course, ring your bank before you travel… sometimes they have offers that can make spending cheaper with your card when abroad. Depending on how long you spend in a country, you may want to consider getting an international SIM card, check the offers that your phone company provides. However, if you plan on spending a month or longer in a country you might want to consider getting a local number.
  • Important documents: Remember you will need your, Passport (maybe even photocopy the identification page just to be on the safe side), you may need to carry around a Visa document, as well as travel insurance, health information and drivers license. It all really depends what you intend to do whilst travelling and how long you’re staying for.
  • Packing: Do not over-pack! This will become an annoyance. Of course, it all depends where you are staying and how long you are staying for. Remember there are always shops abroad. If you really need something, you can buy it there! Don’t pack what you’re unsure of.
  • Who are you travelling with?: It’s always good to know beforehand who will be coming with you or, will you be going alone. If you’re travelling with someone, make sure they won’t back out last minute and leave you stranded. Although, if you have no one to travel with, you can always use apps and website that allows you safely to meet other travellers.

“We have nothing to lose and a world to see”

Regardless of what I’ve written and all the advice that I have given, the most important and vital thing that you can do whilst travelling, is to have fun. Enjoy being in the now, make memories, make friends, laugh, cry… do it all and say YES to everything. Make it a memory of a lifetime.

My Travel Bucket List

There is a lot of places that I would love to travel to before I die. Too many in fact, that I don’t think I could possibly keep track off. However, I thought I’d write as many of the places that I could think of here and maybe one day I will write a post about my experience in one or more of these destinations. Now, I must state these are no way in any type of order.

Great Barrier Reef
Australia

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Photo credited to Mark Gray

A beautiful and magnificent sight that stretches more than 3000km up the northeastern coast of Australia. The worlds largest set of coral reefs with 400 different types of coral and 1500 species of fish. There has also been a variety of whales, dolphins and porpoises. As well as this, there are six species of sea turtles and 17 different sea snakes. Although, if you’re still not convinced by such a picturesque landscape and species, then the fact that the reef may no longer be around in the next couple of years due to rising sea temperatures that have been bleaching and killing the coral might tempt you to see it before its end. It certainly has me.

Dubrovnik Old City Walls
Croatia

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Photo credited to Rich Edwards

According to playwriter, critic, polemicist, and political activist George Bernard Shaw, someone so enchanted by such a beautiful city said that “those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik” and referred the place as “the pearl of the Adriatic”. A scenic old town that was also the setting for King’s Landing in Game of Thrones. So, a fan of Game of Thrones? Then you should definitely visit. There is also a variety of Gothic and Renaissance churches, alluring Venetian palazzos with carved fountains. The perfect place to capture so stunning landscape shots.

Temples of Angkor
Cambodia

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Photo credited Michael Aquino

Now, who wouldn’t want to see these magnificent and quaint temples, one of the worlds greatest to the Hindu God, Vishnu and the greatest monuments of the Hindu Kingdom. A temple so extraordinary, cut from thousands of sandstone blocks and carved floor-to-ceiling with legends from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas. Angkor wat has a complex of more than 1000 temples, shrines and tombs that create a literal city. So, if you want to see what beautiful sites the world has to offer Angkor wat should definitely be on your to-do list.

Salar de Uyuni
Bolivia

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Photo credited to Cody Gough

Such a beautiful landscape and one of the worlds largest salt flats is Salar de Uyuni. Hotels such as the Palacio de Sal – built solely from salt and when I say built solely from salt, I mean that the walls, floor, ceilings, furniture and even the sculptures are made from salt. It is a literal statement. Taking a tour across the Salar de Uyuni a magnificent scene where the surface water transforms the floor into a mirror. Who wouldn’t want to see something so alluring?

The Ubud Monkey Forest
Bali

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Photo credited to the monkey forest Ubud website

Who wouldn’t want to visit a bunch of monkeys in their habitat? Roaming around freely. The Ubud Monkey Forest is a nature reserve and Hindu temple complex in Bali, Indonesia. It is a truly magical and enchanting experience and anyone would be lucky if they had the chance to experience such a place. According to the Ubud Monkey Forest website, there are around 600 monkeys residing in the forest. The forest uses the Tri Hita Karana concept, a traditional philosophy “stating three ways to reach physical and spiritual well-being”. Therefore, not only do you get to see a variety of monkeys yet kind find a sense of peace.

The Northern Lights

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Photo credited to Jamie Carter

Who wouldn’t want to see such an illuminating and fascinating sight? The perfect place to capture such mesmerizing images. Whilst most people travel to Europe to see the auroras, you can also view the lights in Northern Alaska. I’ve read, that the lights are at their most intense during the months of September and March due to the Earth’s tilt in relation to the sun. There are a number of places where you can stand and watch the northern lights such as; Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Canada.

Thailand Islands
Thailand

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Now, who wouldn’t want to see the beautiful islands in Thailand? Ko Phi Phi is the largest out of all the Thai islands and provides beautiful infrastructures and views.  If you’re into rock climbing, scuba diving and hiking then Koh Tao is the island for you. Becoming more popular in the tourist factor, a variety of bars and nightclubs have opened to regulate to such population. If you’re more into the views such as magnificent waterfalls, white sand beaches, rainforests and coral reefs then adventure off to Ko Chang.

Torres del Paine National Park
Chile

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Photo credited to Ecocamp Patagonia website

This stunningly beautiful landscape found in the lakes and mountains of Chile is truly a magical and enchanting place. Torres del Paine National park is the perfect place to disconnect yourself from everyday realities and place yourself within the unfathomable mountains. So large and monstrous in size, you seem almost insignificant to the world. As well as this, you can explore Chiles capital Santiago – a city full of dance, theatre and music.

Of course, there are so many places that I would love to visit and hopefully, one day I will. But for now, for today I’ll only share a few destinations.

NYC: A city full of wonder, culture and intensity.

Now, it’s been a good three years since I visited New York. But I can remember it as though it was yesterday. The freshness that seemed to flatter the air as I walked out of the airport. A city unlike any other. A city like a dream, wonder and anticipation.

I don’t even know where to begin with this city. Or how to begin. New York has always been a city I’ve dreamt about, a city I never expected to visit in my lifetime. But when the opportunity arose, I grabbed it as quick as I could. How could I let such an exciting opportunity go? Who could? As a child, New York was everywhere from my favourite TV shows to novels and even across my small town in the North of England. It was everywhere and I had to see it.

It’s a city like you would never expect. It’s so much more. It has everything you could ever dream off, from the people to the buildings to the adventures. I remember the feeling as we drove towards the big city, I could see it in the distance and even from afar you could see how substantial the city truly was. It was mesmerising. The buildings higher and taller than I ever believed, you could sense how truly hectic the city was.

Now, I went with my College so I was aged around seventeen – eighteen and to a young adult adventuring into an immense city, a trip without parents for the first time was a big deal and completely nerve-wracking. But I wouldn’t change my experience for the world. The city was looming over us as we drove towards the big apple and as we entered. My god, I couldn’t even explain the feelings that ran throughout my body. I expected to see businessmen and women clattering about, rushing with cups of coffee in their hands as they raced to their jobs. But no, to my surprise we entered the city during Gay Pride. Therefore, the city was packed with such a diverse culture. Men and women danced around the streets drinking beers and wine in celebration of such a positive stance against discrimination. Bright colours illuminated from building and floating parades that made their way down the streets.

However, due to the pride, it made it extremely difficult for our coach to make its way through the NYC streets. Ultimately, we had to grab our luggage and attempt to find our hotel by ourselves. And there we were. Twenty-something students stranded in the middle of New York without any clue on where to go. Luckily, our teachers had visited the same hotel on a previous trip and had a slight idea where to go. Nevertheless, that did not help. The group ending up splitting with some students rushing as they followed the teachers with some including me who stopped, sat on their suitcase and watched the parade float by. I had just got into New York. There was no way I was missing such an experience. Unfortunately, at this point, I had my camera packed away and wasn’t able to capture any decent images. But I did get a few videos on my phone.

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I went with my English Literature class during my A-Levels so the trip consisted of seeing landmarks that related to the novels that we had read. Such as The Great Gatsby. Therefore, we saw the Plaza hotel an iconic and truly historic building built in 1907. I and a few friends walked to Queensboro bridge to view how monumental it truly was, and I don’t exaggerate when I say it was colossal and honestly so magnificent. We took a bike ride around central park, viewing sites such as The Ramble and Lake, Strawberry Field’s Imagine Mosaic, which honoured The Beatles John Lennon who lived and was killed at the Dakota Apartments just across the road from the sight and the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain. All, which was such a sight to see and definitely worth adding it to your to-do list. Also, I would advise catching one of the bike rides around the park. Depending on the person you get and how you deal with it, it’s very cheap.

Of course, NYC is such a big city and it’s just impossible that you are able to see all the sights within three days. But you can see an awful lot if you plan it carefully and stick to it. Other sights that I saw that I think any first time tourist has to see would by Times Square. The square has a vibe to it, a vibe that I can’t quite pinpoint – it’s almost surreal, as though you are not actually there. The large buildings tower over you almost making you feel light headed when you glance upwards. The lights – especially at night are so bright I honestly believe you would still need to wear sunglasses. Next is the Empire State Building, which is probably the scariest experience yet. You don’t actually realise how high up you are until you look over the edge and see the city. It is breathtaking and definitely hair-raising. But 100% worth it.

Another sight I would make the time to see is the world trade centre memorial. The memorial is in the former location at the World Centre sight, the former location of the twin towers, where on September 11th, 2001 suicide bombers crashed two planes into both buildings killing 2,996 people and injuring over 6,000. The sight itself was eery almost – extremely quiet and peaceful. Yet, beautiful all at the same time. It’s the perfect way to pay your respect to those who lost their lives whilst learning as you go.

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Amsterdam: A city full of canals, coffee shops and the Red light district.

I’ve been to Amsterdam a fair few times now. Purely because my uncles live over there and how I can’t thank them enough for introducing me to such a beautiful and historic city. The first time I ventured across the English Channel and into the Netherlands, I never knew what to expect. Of course, I was young and wasn’t able to experience all the things that the city is known for in the younger culture of England. I’m sure you can guess what that is. Getting high and the Red light district. However, I experienced a lot whilst exploring the city, ranging from antique coffee shops, the most beautiful bricked and tilted houses, restaurants to walking down the canals and seeing everything nature had to offer in the most exquisite parks.

(I also feel I should apologise for the quality of the images shown. I was young and unexperienced with a camera at this point)

The second time I visited, my uncle met us at the airport and we traveled via a double decker train – much to my surprise and amazement that double decker trains even existed – to central Amsterdam. From here, we boarded onto a tram on our way to my uncles apartment. As we got off, my mum and sister somehow managed to get themselves stuck on the tram and was left stranded without the tour guide that was my uncle. Upon realisation, my uncle, myself and my mums girlfriend sprinted after the tram – suitcases heavily trailing behind us in order to catch up with my mum. Who eventually made it off the tram and to my uncles Apartment.

If I were to tell you to explore anything. It would be everything. Explore as much as you can because everything that the city has to offer is worth seeing. Amsterdam’s world famous floating flower market, Bloemenmarkt is a must see if you’re in love with nature. It stretches along the Singel canal, Muntplein and Koningsplein square in the City’s Southern canal belt. Something you can’t miss even if you wanted too. It is such a beautiful sight. The market consists of 15 florists, garden and souvenir shops as well as some small cafes where you can sit and grab a bite to eat or a cup of coffee whilst watching the many tourists swell amongst the flowers.

As well as this, I would advise you take a boat trip down one of the city’s many canals. Upon doing this, you’re able to pack more sights into a small amount of time, alongside being able to sit back and relax as the city floats around you. On my little journey I saw a variety of boats owned by those who lived within the city. Some large, some small but all equally intriguing and unique in their own way. We floated past the Anne Frank museum. Although, I didn’t go inside I would most definitely put that on my to do list the next time I visit the city. Most spectacular – I saw a floating Chinese restaurant on Lake IJ. Again, something I never had the pleasure to experience but definitely want too in the future.

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(Again, I can’t apologise more for the quality of these images)

If you are the type of person looking for excitement and party I would definitely advise you take the trip in April where you can experience a full day of day drinking on Queens day or now known as Kings day considering ‘Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, the longest reigning Dutch monarch, announced her abdication after 33 years on the throne’. For those who haven’t heard of the event. I’ll give you a brief overview with the help of a little research. It’s a day and night event set in a carnival like setting, stretching in the depths of the city, along the canals and within the parks. The event attracts more than 700 tourists each year, and who is surprised? It’s an event fulfilled with fun, dancing and drinking! What more could you want? From my experience, it was a hectic day with people swarming the streets. Though the event was more than overfilled the atmosphere itself was chilled and relaxed and I would be more than happy to experience the event now I’m old enough to actually understand it.

If you’re thinking about visiting Amsterdam and are unsure. I would cast aside your doubt and 100% make the trip. I believe that the city is a must see for all. It has everything for everyone. Who doesn’t want cute bike rides along the canal and getting high in chilled out vintage coffee shops? It’s an experience you’d never forget. Trust me. And you can do all this on an extremely tight budget or with all the money in the world. So, students, looking for a quick trip away after your exams. Give Amsterdam ago.