An Epic Year of Travel: 2017 Highlights


As 2017 is quickly drawing to an end, it's the perfect time to reflect on highlights and favourite memories created from this year's travels.

I had an amazing year full of different experiences, learning about new cultures, trying new food, making new friends, being more independent, working hard and having fun at the same time.

2017 brought me to eight different countries including Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and New Zealand.

Let's take it back to the beginning.

In January, Gareth and I's time in the Gold Coast had sadly come to an end and we travelled over a few days down Australia's East Coast on a road trip to our next home for the year in Canberra.

A stop at the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour along the way
The National War Museum, Canberra

In January, February, March and April I visited Sydney, the first two times for concerts (Puscifer and Guns N' Roses), one for a weekend getaway to see Aladdin at the theatre and another time with my mum who came to visit over the Easter break.

Luna Park, Sydney
The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House in the background

Overseas, I ventured off in May on an epic four-month adventure in Southeast Asia, most of it solo. I had some great opportunities working with various hotels and tour companies throughout my time away.

I began in Bali with my friends where we had a super fun week and I then went on to visit the largest city in Southeast Asia which was a whole new experience for me.

My best friends and I in Ubud
The view from my Airbnb in Jakarta

I was so excited to next fly to Thailand where I spent a wonderful month there. It had been 4.5 years since I had last been and I enjoyed so much revisiting Bangkok's beautiful temples and making new friends there.

Wat Pho, Bangkok

My biggest highlights of my time in Thailand include the islands Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi and right up north in Chiang Rai.

The picture of paradise: Phi Phi Island
Snorkeling on a Maya Bay tour
The White Temple, Chiang Rai
Singha Beer Park, Chiang Rai

In July Gareth flew over to meet me in Vietnam and we stayed in our very first overwater bungalow! #TravelGoals. I especially loved wandering through the quaint ancient town of Hoi An.

Da Nang Cathedral pre-meeting up with Gareth
Vedana Lagoon, Phu Loc

Exploring the imperial city Hue
Beautiful lanterns of Hoi An

After exploring central Vietnam I was off solo again to Cambodia for the first time. Seeing Angkor Wat and the surrounding ancient temples was such a dream come true!



I visited a floating village and local school and learned about the devasting history centred in Phnom Penh.

Floating village
Royal Palace, Phnom Penh

I bounced over to beautiful Laos where I worked with my final hotel and started staying at hostels where I met some amazing people who I continued to travel with.

Patuxai, Vientiane
River tubing in Vang Vieng
The beautiful Kuang Si Waterfall

I finally flew to the country I was the most excited to visit: Myanmar. I only had two weeks there and I did an epic whirlwind tour starting in Yangon.
I instantly loved it for how different it was from the other countries and how extremely friendly the locals were. I had my first spotlight moment where locals were lining up to take photos with me (because of my blonde hair I'm assuming!).

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon

Like Laos, I bused from place to place, visiting Inle Lake, Bagan and Mandalay. Sunrises, sunsets, e-bikes and boat tours. I met some more wonderful new travel buddies and really enjoyed soaking up Burmese culture.

Traditional fisherman on Inle Lake
Rice fields
Sunrise over the temples in Bagan
Sunrise at U-Bein Bridge, Mandalay

When my time in Myanmar had come to an end in August I flew back to Bangkok to meet my mum. She was there for personal reasons and I was her support person, so I got to spend another three weeks in Thailand (yay).
It was her first time to Asia so I enjoyed showing her the beautiful palace and temples, the crazy shopping malls, fun food places and beautiful skyline views.

Wat Arun, Bangkok
Unicorn Cafe, Bangkok 
Sunset cocktails with a view

We also visited the beach town Hua Hin for a few nights before heading home in September. 

In October I went to Melbourne to work with a company on a Great Ocean Road tour. Seeing The Twelve Apostles was another big bucket list tick for me!

The Twelve Apostles, Victoria
Awesome street art graffiti in Melbourne

In the last months of living in the capital city of Australia, I worked with a couple of local tour companies and Gareth and I made the most of our time there.
We went to multiple live sports matches, many events on, visited nature parks, museums, even Canberra's Space Station which is part of Nasa's Deep Space Network. (I'll be writing up a best things to do in Canberra post in the new year).

On a wine tour in the Canberra region
Koala spotting at Tidbinbilla Nature Park
Feeding friendly locals on a weekend getaway in Merimbula, NSW



On December 13th our three years in Australia had come to an end and we moved back to New Zealand. Our first stop was in Wellington where I loved visiting my old favourite spots around the city and catching up with my friends.

The Bucket Fountain on Cuba Street, Wellington

We just spent a lovely Christmas in Greytown which I wrote about in more detail on my secondary blog thegeekyrockchick.com and we are now currently residing in the Manawatu region.

There we have my 2017 travel highlights in a nutshell! It was my first year as a 'proper' travel blogger and I loved every moment! I'm so grateful to be able to travel and for the opportunities helping towards building my dream career.

I still have a long way to go and I'm excited to see what 2018 has in store for me, beginning with my first ever trip to the United States and Canada!

I also made a highlights video on YouTube if you would like to watch my year of travels:


Thanks so much to everyone who is following along on my journey, through social media and here on my blog. You all mean the world to me and thank you all for your support.

I hope you have a fantastic and safe New Years. I will be sharing my 2018 travel goals in my next post, hope to see you there!


Happy Travels,

Is it Safe to Travel Alone as a Female? (Tips to Travel Smart)


This is a question I get asked quite often and it is also something I wondered myself when I first started travelling alone.
Everybody's experiences are of course different but for me personally... my answer is

YES.

I have never had a single problem in all of my solo travels including cities that are known to be notorious for pickpockets and crime such as Athens, Barcelona, Jakarta, Phnom Penh etc. However, I did witness incidences, so they certainly are places to be alert in for a reason, as you should be for wherever you travel.



Have I just been lucky then? I have never had any items lost or stolen, or had anybody try to bother me while travelling.
Perhaps.

I thought recently, surely after four months travelling mostly solo around Southeast Asia, something bad was bound to happen. But, nope. I have never even missed a flight or had my bags misplaced. (Thank goodness!).

Again, it could be due to being in the right place at the right time and it could also be due to the fact that I would say I'm a smart traveller.



I'm not ever worried about travelling alone, but I am always aware of my surroundings and never let my guard down.

Through experience and common sense, I've learned easy ways to help stay safer, not get my stuff stolen and therefore just have a bloody good time and not have to worry about dealing with those consequences.

That doesn't mean I've never had anything bad at all happen to me while travelling.
Oh yes, nobody is perfect! I have had people try to scam me, I've been so lost in a foreign place I've almost broken down, I've had my credit card details stolen, I've stayed in some horrid rat and drug infested places... but bad times such as these are only temporary and lead to future learning and funny stories.



Yes, bad things can happen, but you don't need to be afraid or be put off travelling alone as a female because of it. The truth is, the majority of local people are extremely friendly and welcoming and would rather help you than harm you.

As they say, you are more likely to have a crime done against you in your own country. (This is true for me!). You just need to travel smart.

Below are some handy travel and safety tips that I always use myself:


Travel tips to help stay safe

⚫ If you have a long-strapped bag always carry it across your body, zipped and tightly secure. If you have a spare hand, hold on to it too whenever possible.



⚫ When using your phone out walking on the street, hold it close to your body and always with two hands.

⚫ If you don't have data available, download the city you are in prior on Google Maps offline so you will never get lost.

⚫ Don't trust strangers even if they seem nice. Never get in a car or go somewhere with them by yourself.

⚫ Make sure at least one person has your current travel itinerary and always knows where you are staying and where you should be.



⚫ Always keep sight of your belongings at train stations, airports etc.

⚫ Don't go out walking alone late at night.

⚫ Don't get too drunk. Always be in control.

⚫ Don't carry more cash than you would need for the day and always have a spare EFTPOS/credit card located separately from the one you carry.

⚫ Dress conservatively, especially in places where it is customary.



⚫ Where you can, travelling by Uber is a smart way to get around. The app tracks the driver and you, keeping both of your information in the system and the payment is done through the app via credit card so no money is exchanged.

⚫ Grab the business card of your accommodation to take around with you, even most hostels have them. That way you always have the address and phone number of where you are staying in case you get lost and can't communicate with a driver.

⚫ Trust your intuition. If something doesn't feel right, then it probably isn't.

Pin it! :)

Hopefully these tips can help you to feel more confident and stay safe when travelling solo as a female. Just remember there are so many of us out there doing it so you aren't really alone!

Travelling solo opens up a whole new world of experiences as you learn to navigate situations on your own, make new friendships and basically do whatever you want!
Enjoy it.

Do you have any other tips to add to this list? Comment below, I'd love to read them.

Happy Travels,

Why You Should Study Abroad (& My Experience)


Studying overseas in a foreign country may be one of the most beneficial experiences for a university student. I studied abroad in Germany 2015 and it was the greatest year of my life. I changed and developed so much as a person, I got to travel all through Europe and met so many incredible people along the way.
If you are thinking about going on an exchange- go for it! Here are five reasons why you should along with snippets of my own experience.


1. Experience a new way of life

You will have the opportunity to properly experience a new way of life.
You're not only visiting that new country and place- you are actually studying and living there, so you get to have that real experience.
You will take in a brand new culture and fully immerse yourself in it. You'll discover incredible new foods, customs and traditions of the locals. There's no better way to develop and learn language skills and get a better understanding and appreciation for the nation’s people and history.

Enjoying the delights of Germany!

I studied abroad in Konstanz (at Universität Konstanz) which is in the south of Germany, right on the border of Switzerland. The history of the medieval city astounded me- the first traces of civilisation dates back to the Stone Age!
The city was the most beautiful place I've ever been to- and I'm from New Zealand! Konstanz was one of the few towns left untouched during WW2 due to their close proximity to Switzerland, so the gorgeous Old Town with its incredible buildings and architecture all remain.
Konstanz sits on the crystal blue Bodensee (Lake Constance) of which the Rhine branches off and is surrounded by snow-capped Alps- it is such a magical place and I loved every second of my time there. I really enjoyed using German in every day life (most shop keepers didn't speak English) and learning the differences between southern Germany to the rest of the country.

The beautiful Lake Constance at sunset
Gorgeous architecture


2. You get to travel!

It's the perfect opportunity to see the world. Take that leap and dive into it headfirst!
You get the chance to explore your new country and travel to neighbouring countries as well, especially if you're studying in Europe and Asia with plenty right on your doorstep.

At Konstanz University we got the option to arrive a month before the semester started where we could do an intensive German language course (to get up to scratch- it really helped!) and had the opportunity to take part in loads of trips and activities organised by the university's fantastic international team.
I signed up for every single one and we started by exploring our new city and were taken on a historical walking tour of Konstanz. Throughout the month we visited across the lake to neighbouring Meersburg where we toured their 5th Century castle, to Reichenau, through the Black Forest to Freiburg- all nearby places in the state of Baden-Württemberg.

Seeing Neuschwantsein Castle was a dream come true!
Throughout the semester there were plenty of other organised excursions too, including hikes in Switzerland and Austria. My favourite was the trip to the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. I also managed to get away to Munich, Stuttgart and Berlin on days off with friends or by myself.

Internationally, we could literally walk to Switzerland in less than 10 minutes, and France and Austria were only a couple of hours drive away. I absolutely loved having all these countries on my doorstep!
I went to Switzerland (a lot), France, Italy, London and then travelled all over Europe for two months after the semester ended before heading home.

Feuersee and Johannes Church in Stuttgart


3. Personal development

Being on your own in a foreign country is something everyone should experience.
You will be faced with all sorts of challenges- a new living situation, education system, possible language barriers. But you will learn and overcome all of these, and find new interests you may not have been exposed to before.
Being in a new place by yourself might be out of your comfort zone, but it tests your ability to adapt to change and challenging situations which is a great life skill to have.

A new challenge for me university-wise was group work. That was definitely something I wasn't used to and hadn't experienced since maybe Year 9 (age 13).
Group work was required for almost every single paper and credit, so you had to heavily rely on your team and in turn not let them down (which was a lot of pressure!). However, I grouped with some brilliant and hard working German students and we all worked together very well, so I was quite lucky that we all pulled together and got top marks.

The view of Konstanz University

Travelling solo was completely new to me and it really helped my personal development.
Being totally independent and taking charge made me much more confident.
You learn a lot about yourself- what you like, what you don't like, and you get to do exactly what you want without pleasing anybody else. It's a wonderful and freeing feeling which is fantastic to experience.

Lake Constance with the Imperia statue and Alps in the background


4. Make lifelong friends

One of the best opportunities you get from studying abroad is meeting new people from all over the world. I met the most wonderful and kind-hearted people from Estonia, Belgium, Chile, Norway, Turkey, The United States, Sweden, Ukraine- the list goes on and on.
Not to mention the wonderful Germans who I found very friendly and excited to meet us as well. You're thrown into this exciting time with a great bunch of people who are in the same situation as you. You get to travel with them in your time off and have the opportunity to really get to know and create lasting relationships which is invaluable.

I am typically a pretty shy person and quite happy to keep to myself. But on my exchange I was determined to be more outgoing, make new friends and change my ways. I said yes to every invite and opportunity. I hung with my German classmates at BBQs, went on excursions and weekend trips, hung out and partied with my fellow internationals and made real friends whom I miss dearly! 

Regular hang-spot on the Rhine
Typical night out at the local club Berrys


5. Career opportunities

Studying abroad shows that you are driven, independent and open-minded.
When you finish your exchange program and return home, you'll return with a fresh new perspective on culture, language skills and education, all of which are very attractive to future employers.
Many students create ties with their host country and find they love it so much they decide to seek work there. A local experience and education will be very valuable when searching for a potential job in that country.

For me- it led to this very blog! I wrote a small blog for my friends and family while abroad about my adventures in Germany and Europe, and when I got home I missed writing (and travelling!) so much- that I decided to create a proper blog which ignited my dream of becoming a professional travel blogger. I've only been at it for less than a year now but I couldn't be happier pursuing my dream career and writing to inspire others to travel and live out their own dreams.

Gorgeous view from the Konstanz Münster

I look back on my student exchange so warmly and Konstanz will forever have a place in my heart. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to study there and I'm forever grateful to Victoria University of Wellington and the Baden-Württemberg scholarship for making it possible, and of course to Universität Konstanz for the fantastic semester and making us international students feel so welcome.

If you get the chance to go on a student exchange then I recommend it 100%! It will change your life, I guarantee it.

Have you studied abroad? If so where did you go and how did you find it?
If not- where would you like to go?

Happy travels,
Pin it! :)

*This post contains some images that are not my own.

Solo Travel | My Top Tips


As some of you might know, last year I went on an exchange at Konstanz University and lived in Germany for 6 months, and before and after my semester I travelled as much of Europe as I possibly could. You can read here all about my Solo Travel | My Experience & Thoughts.

I know so many people that have no desire whatsoever to try solo travel, as the thought of being alone or bored positively terrifies them. They worry about the danger or would rather wait to have someone to share those experiences with.
Succumb to these fears, or waiting around as an excuse however, and you could miss out on one of the most addictive travel experiences around.
The idea of going it alone on a big trip is daunting for anyone and perhaps more so for women, for whom safety issues can be more of a concern. But don't let this put you off!
Travelling solo opens up a whole new world of experiences as you learn to navigate situations on your own, make new friendships and basically do whatever you want!

Don't waste any more time waiting for that perfect travel companion who may never come! Your perfect travel companion- is you. I couldn't recommend solo travel enough. 
It is honestly empowering and life changing for the better.
Here are my tips to prepare for a successful solo adventure, so if you're thinking of taking the plunge- you will nail it and never look back!


My Top Tips!


Learn to like your travelling companion: You

"But I can't" or "I'll be lonely!" is perhaps the most common cries from people who've never travelled alone. People who depend on other people and feel like they can't do things on their own are often in hiding from themselves.
Travelling alone brings you face to face with yourself- with your failings and your strengths.
That confrontation is inevitable in life; don't put it off.
You really do learn a lot about yourself, and as cheesy as it sounds- it's true that you get in touch with yourself as well.
Learn to enjoy your own company, plan an epic fun trip filled with everything you have always wished to do. and you will have the time of your life! You may even find you prefer to travel alone and want to do it every time!

If you are a bit nervous write yourself a letter before you head off. In it put all your feelings of excitement and why you are going. Perhaps you want to challenge yourself, see something you've always desired, or move on from a bad breakup.
When you're away, open it up and read it when you need it most, which will refresh your excitement and it might even be a humorous keepsake to look back on years later after all you've accomplished! Know why you have decided to travel alone and be happy with that as this will help you with many hundreds of decisions you'll make on your trip, from where you go to who you decide to engage with. Take that positive mindset with you; it will open so many doors.



Revel in your selfishness

Having no one but yourself to decide what to do each day is a rare luxury. Imagine: no one to sneer if you want to find the local art house cinema and watch old black-and-white movies all day.
No one to sigh over your love of eclectic novelty museums. No one to gripe when you whip through a gallery in 30 minutes instead of taking the tour. You won't have to apologise for missing that train from Florence to Rome or for sleeping in late.
You don't have anyone else's feelings to take into consideration, and that is sometimes the most encouraging reason to travel alone.
You get to do exactly as you please, because it's all about you. Trust me- you will really enjoy it and wonder how it took you so long to do this before!



Be confident

Sometimes you really do have to fake it until you make it. Walk confidently even if you are lost, with your head held high.
Nothing says clueless more like standing on a street corner with a huge map and a terrified expression!
 The key to travelling solo is looking confident, even if you don't always feel it.
Eventually you will learn the ropes and confidence will become natural. 

Just know that everyone has to start somewhere, and the important thing is that you're doing it alone, so gain confidence from that and trust your instincts. What you are doing is pretty dang awesome, so throw on some shades and walk around like you belong there.



Book in advance 

Spontaneous trips are always fun- but if you book well in advance it is so much cheaper. Flights, buses, accommodation, everything is a much better price.
Book these as soon as you can to get the best deal and then there's no going back!
Hash out the rest of the details later (like activities and things you want to do there).


Get there early!

I don't get nervous travelling except for the getting to the airport, train or bus station on time part. That part stresses me out because I would absolutely hate to miss a flight or ride and be stranded especially if you are on a tight budget.
Pack everything up and have your bag ready the night before and get to the airport or station as early as possible. Take into account the traffic, hold ups, waiting in line, all these things can affect your time so go extra early so you don't have to worry. I've had a few very close shaves before and I'll tell you, it's not good for the heart!



Prepare well

Plan ahead- especially if you are a woman, so you know what you should be wearing and to avoid arriving in a new place late at night. Read up on what is culturally acceptable and what is not. That way you avoid drawing attention to yourself for the wrong reasons.
It's also handy to learn a bit about the country you're going to, and if you have the time to learn the basics of the languages of the countries you will be travelling to.
Even if that is just 'hello', 'goodbye', 'please' and 'thank you.' It is seen as very polite and can get you a long way with the locals.
Always carry a copy of your passport and have all your documents and information organised.
If you go to quite foreign places like I have been- some tickets are not in English.
Even certain airlines that I used weren't in English and didn't have the option to change.
So before you leave, take the time to use google translate if you need to, and print all of your tickets out to double check and highlight all the important things like the time, place, address, how long you need to be there beforehand and so on.
While I was travelling I had a light clear plastic sleeve with my print outs that I carried in my backpack with my laptop. It was all in order for when I needed it, for example, bus ticket, directions and map to my accommodation, accommodation confirmation, and so on.


Walking & bus tours

A lot of cities these days have free walking tours and offer different activities such as food and drink tours, or a bicycle ride tour or castle tour etc.
It's a great way to be introduced to the city and being by yourself it's the perfect opportunity to meet and interact with new people. You are in a group for a couple of hours and the tour guides as well are always really friendly and stick around at the end to answer any questions.
Hop on Hop off bus tours are another great way to see the city. Usually there are options for 24, 48 or 72 hours and you can use it as you please. They go to all the main tourist attractions as well as cover a lot of the city and perimeters which you probably wouldn't see otherwise. They usually also include organised walking tours as well as river cruises which is perfect. I did Hop on Hop off tours in Vienna and Budapest and I really enjoyed them.


Hostel advice

Hostels are great to socialise and meet new people and if you don't mind sharing a room with strangers then go for it, it's your decision. But if you're a female and alone then you do actually have the option in a lot of places now to stay in female only dorm rooms, so I would really recommend that.
Hostels usually always have activities and social events on every night of the week.
I'm not one to stay in hostels myself now, unless I'm with someone I know.
Just my preference. I've stayed in mixed rooms a few times in the past and they've all been really bad experiences. Some guys are so creepy and it's just not fun and could potentially be very unsafe. So on my big Europe solo trip I did at first look into female only dorms, but then I discovered Airbnb.


Airbnb

Use Airbnb! You can browse online and filter for places in your price range, where exactly you want to stay, if you want your own room- even your own self-contained place.
Choose places that are verified and have good reviews and comments about them.
I used Airbnb for Vienna (I had my own student style full self contained unit), Budapest (this was so cheap- 10 Euros a night), Krakow (this was an amazing modern loft with great views and the girl went away for the weekend so I had the whole place to myself for 3 of the nights!), Prague (a huge town house located right in the town centre), and I also used it in Dublin and Rome with my friends- in both cases we booked a whole house/apartment out just for us and it was much cheaper than a hotel. Here's the link here if you want to check it out: Airbnb website.


Be adventurous

Don't let being by yourself hold you back from doing the things you want to. For example dining alone- there is absolutely nothing wrong with eating alone at a restaurant or going to the pub by yourself for a couple of beers.
I did that all the time! Yeah, people do look at you and wonder, but let them.
You're there to enjoy yourself and I especially am there to eat good food- it's one of my greatest loves of travelling- to try the new foods and drink, so of course I'm going to walk into restaurants and cafes and say, "Table for one".
Sometimes I read a book on my phone while I'm eating or catch up on the news if there's free wifi.

Dining alone in Hungary
If I'm at a pub sometimes I will sit at the bar if there's a space, and quite often the bar tenders will have a chat to you and I've had people sitting next to me start conversations with me, which leads to my next point:


Talk to strangers

(But only if you're comfortable- don't talk to anyone that makes you nervous.
You can usually tell straight away if the person is friendly or just plain weird).
I ordinarily am a pretty shy person and don't normally go out of my way to talk to strangers- except for when I travel, I do love to meet new people from different places and cultures.
It leads to opportunities and even new friendships.
One evening I had alone in Athens I was sitting at a table in an outdoor restaurant looking at a menu, when two guys around my age that were sitting next to me invited me to join them- which was so nice. Potentially awkward, but they looked cool and friendly so I said yes, which is my next tip:


Say yes

Say yes to opportunities and situations that might be outside of your comfort zone.
If people invite you to hang out with them or do something fun and you feel safe about it, then why turn that down?
It turned out these two guys were German- from Berlin, so we had a lot to chat about and we even went out for a few beers after dinner. They showed me a really unique street and took me to a cool rooftop bar overlooking the Acropolis which I went back to again another time- it was a magical spot.


Pack light

I won't bore you with this tip, as I'm sure you've heard it all before! But be conscious that you have to carry everything on your back or lug it around in a suitcase all by yourself- through stations, up stairs- everywhere! So really do leave behind things you won't need and only pack essentials.
I have the biggest bad habit of packing too many clothes, as I usually end up always wearing the same things all the time!



No need for a selfie stick...

I know it's totally your choice if you want a selfie stick (I really don't like them- but that's just my opinion!). It may seem handy for capturing those winning selfies, but- seriously you don't need one. People have been taking their own photos for many years- by way of asking others to take it for them.
Go 'old-school' and browse a friendly looking and trustworthy couple for example who are probably taking photos themselves. You can exchange and take one of them and then they take one of you. It's extremely common and more often than not others will probably approach you first so jump on board!


Ask for help

Definitely do not be afraid to ask for help if you need it. The kindness of strangers has even overwhelmed me and helped me out of a few tight spots many times.
I've had a restaurant owner give me their wifi password to help me as I was lost, I've asked a random guy in an airport to use his phone because mine didn't work and I had no way of contacting my friend I was supposed to meet an hour before, and even just little things like directions, and which train to catch because you don't know where you are and its not in English...the majority of people have no problem with helping those in need.


Stay positive

Don't let the little things get you down. Not everything is going to be perfect and not everything goes to plan. But if you go in with a carefree and easy-going attitude, then those little hiccups that are bound to happen are just going to bounce right off of you.


Stay in contact

When you can, always let someone know where you are (city/country-wise).
I relied solely on free wifi so whenever I had the chance to use it somewhere I would message my fiance to tell him where I was etc.
I had also typed up an itinerary for my accommodation and travel information and sent that to him and also my mum, in case they didn't hear from me, they would at least know where I was at all times.


Enjoy!

My most important tip is to enjoy yourself!

It's an incredible experience and one
that will truly enrich your life. 

I really encourage solo travel, you really get in touch with yourself and it's wonderful and freeing being able to do exactly what you want and when you want.
It's also a great opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and push boundaries you wouldn't normally push, and meet interesting new people from all over the world.



I hope these extra tips will help towards successfully preparing you if you are looking at a solo adventure for the first time.
To sum up- get excited, plan exactly whatever you want to do, be brave and prepare well, and you will have the absolute time of your life! The world has so much to offer- you just have to go out there and find it. Solo travel is an incredible experience, and one that you will look back on and be really proud to have done.

Thanks for reading, let me know in the comments if you're preparing for your first solo trip, or feel free to ask any questions if you have any.

Pin it! :)


















*This post contains images that are not my own

Solo travel | My Experience & Thoughts


My travel background story

I didn't grow up travelling internationally, like so many lucky people do who live in Europe for example, with a vast array of neighbouring countries on their doorstep.
As grateful as I am to have been born in New Zealand- the downside is that it is literally at the bottom of the world, far far away from everything else. With the exception of Australia of course- only a three-hour flight away, and some of my childhood friends were lucky enough to go on vacation there but our family didn't quite have those kind of funds.
Instead, we toured New Zealand by car, every couple of years in the Summer time we would either go North or South, so I am very lucky to have explored my entire country numerous times from top to bottom.
I had always had that desire though- to reach beyond those borders, and it wasn't until I was 22 years old that I finally saved enough money for a 4 week holiday to Australia, where I got my first taste of international travel. I was instantly hooked, and thrived on the many differences between our two countries.

Since then I have had the pleasure of visiting over 20 countries in Europe and South East Asia. I absolutely love travelling and cannot imagine my life without it. I enjoy so much the experience of visiting new places, learning about new cultures and languages and different ways of life, I enjoy trying new food and drink and soaking up that rich history that New Zealand lacks.
Travelling has certainly changed my life, as has taking that next step into solo travel.
It has made me a more independent and confident person, and it is something I'm really proud of to look back on. Here I share with you an outline of my experience.
I have also written a blog post on Travelling Solo | My Top Tips.


My Experience

As a lot of you might know, last year I went on an exchange at Konstanz University and lived in Germany for 6 months, and before and after my semester I travelled as much of Europe as I possibly could.
My biggest trip was after the semester had ended when I left Germany and travelled all over Europe from July to September before flying home. I had an absolute blast!

The first part of my big trip I travelled all on my own, for over two weeks. I started from Konstanz, Germany and travelled to Vienna, Austria, then to Budapest, Hungary, through Slovakia up to Krakow, Poland then via Wroclaw, across to Prague in Czech Republic.

My solo travel, from Konstanz to Prague & all the stops along the way

I did this all by bus! It is so cheap to travel by bus in Europe, all though it's not exactly the most fun way to travel, especially when the bus is full and it does take a very long time.
But, it's all a part of the experience and I relished in getting to see with my own eyes, the very different countries rolling past right before me.

To be honest I was a bit nervous about travelling on my own at first. I was still pretty new to travel, and I had never done anything like this before. Also, I was going to Eastern Europe and I had no idea what to expect. I was a bit nervous as well that I had no data on my phone, I was solely relying on pre-printed maps and notes I had organised for myself before I left, to get to and find my accommodation once I arrived in each place (going old-school!).
But my first 4 nights in Vienna were perfect- it was just like Germany and they spoke German there so I felt right at home.

Meeting the pandas at the world's oldest zoo in Vienna! (Yes I asked a stranger to take this pic for me!)
I had a lovely time walking though the beautiful streets, enjoying the delicious Wurst and Apfelstrudel. I got a 48 hour Hop on Hop off tour which was a great way to see the city and it included a free walking tour and river cruise that I did as well. I visited the famous Schoenbrunn Palace and the world's oldest zoo.

Budapest for me was a tad more of a struggle. I was definitely in Eastern Europe now! I had a lot of trouble finding my accommodation- it took me hours, and it was down very crumbly and dodgy looking streets, so I was a bit nervous walking around the area. It wasn't a very English-speaking country, but I got by. I did enjoy my time there, but I stuck to the main tourist hubs and definitely made sure that I was home each night by the time it was dark.
I only had 2 nights there but I again did a Hop on Hop off tour which was great, and I got to see quite a lot of the city thanks to that. I really enjoyed the food and beer and super cheap prices of it!

Budapest Parliament, Hungary
Poland and Prague I found more than fantastic. Again it took me hours to find my accommodation in Krakow so by the time I reached Prague I gave up and took the easy road- I got a taxi from the bus station! (Taxis are so much cheaper there anyway).
I felt perfectly safe walking around both cities by myself, but again I did try to not stay out too late just to be safe.

I was in Krakow for 5 nights and met a nice French girl on a free walking tour I did, she was also alone so we met up again another day and had dinner and drinks which was really nice.
On another tour in Krakow- this time a food and drink one, the tour guide was really cool and afterwards offered us all to join him at a pub he knew of that had 1 euro pints (Krakow has the cheapest beer in the world!) and to just hang out. So a lot of people did and it was a really enjoyable day.
It turned out my tour guide was a huge Lord of the Rings fan like me and had been in our New Zealand media and I knew who he was! He had paraded around the streets of Wellington dressed as a goblin trying to get into The Hobbit movies.

My tour guide & I in Krakow
So we got along really well. (Actually the conversation first started when I mentioned to him "Nice tattoo- I have the same one!" (The elvish one ring script). Here's the news article about him if you're interested: Article.
In Krakow I did a day trip to Auschwitz which was very sobering, and also went on a trip to the Salt Mines. I really enjoyed the Medieval Square (the largest in the world) and all of the very old and beautiful historical buildings.

I had 4 nights in Prague and also went on a few tours there. On a food and drink tour everyone afterwards stayed together and all had more drinks and dinner and that was really fun. We were all from different corners of the world with different stories and the conversations were very fascinating!
So even if you travel alone, there are always so many situations where you can meet new people and still have just a good a time as if you were with friends.
In Prague I made sure to visit the famous castle and I absolutely loved the old town streets and beautiful buildings.

Medieval Old Town Square, Prague
From Prague I flew to Dublin where I met up with two of my friends living in London and we had an awesome long weekend there. I went back to London with them afterwards and stayed there for a week before joining a Contiki group travelling from London down through France and Spain.
It finished in Barcelona where I was again solo for 5 more days. I really enjoyed my time there but again tried not to stay out late.
I did just one night when I went to see the Magic Fountain light show, and I was pretty nervous walking around the subways, but as it was very packed with people I tried to move with the crowds to not be targeted as a solo female. I always made sure my bag was strapped over my chest as well and facing more to my front. I was always alert but I never had any trouble.

Gaudi's work, Barcelona
In Barcelona I pretty much just walked and took the subway everywhere, and enjoyed the Paella, Sangria, the shopping and the beach. I loved visiting the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell and seeing all of Gaudi's work.

From Barcelona I flew to Athens where I did another Contiki tour, this time around the Greek and Turkish islands. It was so magical and I made some great friends, in both the Contiki groups.
After that I just had one more night alone in Athens, and then three of my awesome Kiwi friends flew all the way from New Zealand and met me there. I stayed in Athens for a week in total and then together we went on to travel Italy and finally ended for me back in Germany at Munich for Oktoberfest (which was one of my ultimate dreams come true).
My friends then travelled on but it was time for me to go home after nearly 8 months away.

Acropolis, Athens

It was a really incredible trip and I enjoyed my solo travels just as much as any other.
It was truly one of the greatest experiences of my life and I really encourage from the bottom of my heart for you to do the same. Even if it's just a small trip, you really do get in touch with yourself and you will relish the ultimate freedom of doing whatever you please. You will grow as a person, gain confidence and can take anything that life throws at you!

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