Tips To Have The BEST Flight Ever



I’d like to think that I’m a pretty good flier at this point. This of course, wasn't always the case. I still remember the very first time I had to catch a plane by myself like it was yesterday...

I made sure to leave for the airport with plenty of time to spare, but I unwittingly didn't factor into that time rush-hour traffic - or the case of a natural disaster... there happened to be a major earthquake (not in my city thankfully) but it meant the roads were packed and the airport (once I finally arrived) was chaotic due to planes being stranded.

I was in a huge panic as I was yet to check in and drop my suitcase off and my flight was supposed to be leaving in half an hour... oh did I mention it was also a few days before Christmas?
Hectic.
My heart had quite a workout that day.

Because of the earthquake, that did however mean that my flight (thankfully) was quite delayed so I did make it just fine. I'm sure not everyone has had quite a stressful first flight alone as that!

Since then I've made the mistake of leaving for the airport too early (four hours is far too much time to kill), so by now I'm pretty sure I've got it down pat.

Since flying is on my mind I thought I could share my best tips with you to have a great flight from start to finish.




Before the Airport

For a smooth security experience here are a few tips:

Pack smart. There is nothing worse than being held up because you accidentally packed something in your carry-on luggage you’re not allowed to bring onboard the plane (cough don't pack scissors cough). Your airline and airport's website should provide all the information and guidelines you will need online.

Dress smart. When dressing for the day, be wary that things like watches, belts and jackets will need to be removed before going through the scanners. Wear minimal jewellery to avoid setting off the metal detector and choose shoes that are easy to get on and off.

Don’t pack your laptop deep in your carry-on - you will need to remove it efficiently and put it on a separate tray to go through the scanners. If you have to dig through and displace everything in your carry-on you’ll hold up the line and annoy everyone behind you. Fish it out and have it ready in your arms before you get to the tray section.

If you're one of those people that security guards always pick on, know that if for any reason you’re uncomfortable going through a body scanner it’s your right to ask for a private screening with an agent of the same sex.

It's a good idea to download your airline's app and have your ticket on your phone - this way there is zero chance of losing/forgetting it and you have all of the information you need at your fingertips.

Keep your passport in a secure but easily accessible place.


Remember your carry-on essentials. These will vary from person to person, but here are mine:

Cosy socks - the second I get on the plane my shoes come off. (Pro tip: Make sure your shoes/socks/feet don’t smell at all. Otherwise be respectful and keep your shoes on!).

Noise-cancelling headphones - a highly essential item, not only to listen to music or watch movies but to drown out any background noise like the crying baby that's always only an aisle or two away.

Snacks - in the case where you may not be getting a meal, bring your favourite snacks to get you through. Make sure to have consumed them before entering a foreign country.

Empty water bottle - you can’t take a full water bottle through security, but if you bring an empty one you can fill it up after security so you don’t get ripped off by airline prices.

Entertainment - to alleviate boredom bring things to do to pass the time. I like to download a couple of books on my Kindle app, make sure I have plenty of music and a game or two on my phone. (Also be sure to pack your phone charger).

Chapstick, hand sanitizer, panadol and gum - a few other essentials that are always in my everyday bag and especially in my carry-on.

Something warm - planes get really cold, so even if you're heading to a warm destination, bring a light sweater or at least a versatile scarf that can keep you warm during your flight.

One of my favourite airports - Changi in Singapore

At the Airport

Airports can be chaotic. My best tip here is to keep your head and don’t stress out. Most travellers can say they’ve missed connections or sat at the wrong gate for hours, but at the end of the day, it's going to take you where you want/need to go eventually! Here are a few airport tips to help get you through:

If you have some time to kill before your flight then walk and move around as much as you can. You are probably about to be seated for hours and hours which is never comfortable, so try to get as much activity in beforehand.

Don’t line up just because everyone else is - flights are usually called in boarding groups. I’m not a big fan of hurrying up just to wait on a cramped plane, so I stay seated/linger nearby until they call my boarding group.

Don’t crowd the luggage return at your final destination. When everyone stands that close to the carousel while waiting for their bag to come out, people whose bags are actually already out can’t grab theirs without throwing elbows. It makes more sense to stand back while you wait and then step forward when you actually spot your bag. Please pass this tip on!

(Probably) The best plane in the world!

On the plane

It’s the final stretch! Once you’re on the plane you’re about as good as gold (unless you have to hurry to make a connection) but there are still steps you can take on the plane to make your flight as comfortable as possible:

Have your things you wish to use during the flight easily accessible. I put everything I might need in the seat pocket in front of me. This will include my phone, headphones, cosy socks, filled water bottle, hand sanitizer, pen, chapstick and gum. This way I won't have to worry about getting into my bag in the overhead locker.

Kick off your shoes, place on your headphones, get cosy and settle in for a long flight.
Try to time getting up for regular stretches/going to the bathroom before meals are about to be served. This way you will avoid having to dodge the cart and everyone else that goes to the bathroom afterwards.

Typical snack and beverage on an  internal Air New Zealand flight

If you are in for a long-haul flight, then don't forget to also pack your toothbrush and mini toothpaste (some airlines will provide this for you) and some kind of face wipes to help remove any makeup or just to freshen up before sleeping and then once you wake - you will feel so much better for it.

Stay hydrated! It's easy to go nuts if there's an open bar onboard, but alcohol will only make you more dehydrated, will make you need to go to the bathroom more, may hinder sleep and leave you feeling more jet-lagged once you arrive. Sure, have a couple if you like, but make sure to match it by drinking plenty of water.

When the plane lands, stay seated. So many times I see the aisle seaters stand up and move into the aisle quick-smart. More often than not, it takes a long time to be able to disembark and now a third of the plane is stuck standing in crowded quarters. You might be excited to get off, but if you stay seated you’ll be more comfortable for longer.




No matter what your airport experience is - don’t let it put a damper on your entire trip!
If you stress about the fact that you missed your connection and arrived 3 hours later, you’re spending time focusing on the negative instead of getting pumped for the adventure to come. Everyone has their own airport battle stories, and earning yours is a rite of passage.

Where is your next trip taking you to? I have a one-way ticket booked to South-East Asia next month and I'm so excited!

Happy Travels,

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Eleven Quotes to Inspire the Travel Dreamer in You


I do love a good quote.

They can bring a comfort that those wild dreams you long to chase might not be such a crazy idea after all.

There's a dreamer in all of us, and sometimes we just need a boost or reminder that it is really possible to achieve anything you set your mind to.

If you're in need of a little motivation today, I've put together eleven of my favourite quotes using my own photos, to hopefully inspire the travel dreamer in you, and to get out there and live your best life.

Let's do this!

1.

2.



3.


4.



5.


6.


7.


8.


9.


10.


11.


Which quote is your favourite?

Happy Travels,
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The Benefits of Backpacking


There are some really great benefits of backpacking, which is why so many people do it every year. It's a great experience to have at least once in your lifetime. To be able to wander freely with no rigid plan and do as you please every day is a priceless and fun way to discover a new place.
If you’re thinking of making the trip, but need that final push- here are a few reasons why it’s a good idea to give backpacking a go:


You Meet The Best People

A lot of the time when you go backpacking you tend to stay in places that you might not otherwise have entertained, like hostels with huge rooms that you’ll be sharing with people you’ve never met before.
This might seem like an intimidating prospect if you’ve never done it before, but the truth is- you’re going to have the time of your life.
I have made the best of friends on my solo travel adventures. My only advice is if you're a female and not comfortable with sharing a room with the opposite sex, then book a hostel that has female-only dorms.
The best thing about backpackers’ hostels is that everyone is there for the same reason – because they love travelling and seeing the world, and because they’re looking for a little adventure, just like you.
If you want to, you can still spend most of your time by yourself, just you and your guidebook, but if you’re looking for some people to go exploring or partying with, then other backpackers will be the ideal companions. It's such a great opportunity to connect with people through all walks of life from all over the globe.




It Encourages You To Be Independent

There’s no better way to learn real independence than by travelling by yourself. If you’re young, you might not have been away from home much by yourself before, so going backpacking will help you figure out that you can sort out everything by yourself, and that you know how to spend time alone without feeling as though you’re about to get eaten alive by your own thoughts.
If you're going travelling- chances are you’ve worked hard to save money, you’ve checked out sites like thebackpackerlifestyle.com to figure out what exactly you’re going to need, and you’ve realised that actually- you can do anything you want to.
It's a wonderful and very freeing feeling and really helps you to grow more confident. Travelling solo through Europe certainly helped me to become a more confident person. You learn so much on the road by yourself and you grow stronger. There are bad times as well as the good but it's all experience and afterwards I felt that no matter what life threw at me I could deal with it. If you go in with a positive attitude and mindset then those little things that do go wrong won't bother you.




The Costs Are Low

One of the best things about backpacking is that- especially if you go by yourself, it’s easy to keep your costs down. If you’ve never learned to budget before, then now is absolutely the time to start. Make sure that you don’t go over the amount of money that you assign yourself for each week – ending up in financial dire straits is not the best way to spend your awesome backpacking trip.
Although you should be aware of how much you’re spending, you should also make sure that you aren’t too stingy – you should fully experience the places that you go to and treat yourself to some great meals and sightseeing trips. Not wanting to fork out the money to go whale watching or something else equally cool is the sort of thing you’ll regret for the rest of your life.
But overall while you are backpacking you can get cheap accommodation, if you eat locally then food and drink costs will be low, and transportation costs are low if you make the most of local public methods like buses and trains to hop from place to place.
Depending on where you travel to is also a big factor. Places like South-East Asia and Eastern Europe are a haven for budget travellers as you can literally live comfortably on $20-$40 a day.




You Can Choose What You Do

Another excellent benefit of backpacking is that you can decide exactly what you want to do. You have the freedom to choose where you want to travel to, whether it's hopping around Europe, stomping through cities, soaking up history and culture or spending days on a beach in Thailand. Although it’s important to have some sort of a plan (you don’t want to run out of money before you’ve paid for your flights home!) you can afford to be flexible and see where each day takes you, instead of assigning each day a number of activities like you might if you were going on a regular holiday.
Going backpacking gives you the time you need to really explore the rest of the world – it’ll broaden your horizons and you’ll return home at the end of the trip feeling brighter and more inspired. That, my friends, is what it's all about.




You Will Learn Something

This is a solid guarantee and the first reason to get out and see the world. You will learn something that you never knew before, and whether it’s something about yourself or the outside world, backpacking is an opportunity to soak up stuff that you would never find by just sitting at home.
You might discover that you have a gift for reading maps and signposts in German or that your new favourite food is a bowl of Vietnamese noodles- whatever it is, it’s worth the trip.


If you need one more benefit from backpacking it’s this- it’s fun. Even the parts you don’t enjoy at the time, waiting around for that bus, a rude receptionist, the rip-off bar – that’s all going to be part of the laughs when you get back home and tell everyone about it.
Just enjoy the journey!

Have you ever been backpacking or are you wanting to in the very near future?

Happy Travels,
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*This post contains affiliate links and images that are not my own.

Planning Your 2017 Travel Itinerary

It’s a fresh new year with endless possibilities and a new travel itinerary to create and get excited for! It's a great idea to start planning your 2017 travels in advance so you know exactly where you’re going, what and how much you need to save for, and so you’re able to plan around important events.
Ticking off those bucket list dreams and going to the right places at the right time is crucial for helping you have the best experience possible.
Here are some top ideas of places to be from around the world to add to your 2017 travel itinerary:


Holi Festival- India, Nepal, Sri Lanka

Holi is a spring festival of colours celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and others, primarily observed in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
It marks the start of spring and the triumph of good will and is one of the most important festivals celebrated during the year.
The night before- Holi starts with bonfires which are lit right on the city streets.
If you are in Nepal you won’t see this so much but if you happen to be in Mumbai or some cities in India these are quite common and impressive. Over 30,000 fires burn across India lighting up the night sky in anticipation of this event.
The main event is the next day when people who “play” Holi paint each other’s faces and bodies with coloured powder or throw coloured water at each other from buckets and water balloons.
It's all in good fun and almost everyone finds themselves participating one way or the other.
If you want to experience Holi this year, it is held on Monday, March 13th.



St Patrick’s Day in Dublin

St Patrick’s Day is celebrated by many people all around the world, but there’s nowhere quite like Dublin to celebrate it properly. Absolutely everybody gets into the spirit of things here, and you’ll find people decked out in green and the national flag flying from every lamppost and shop you come across.
Thousands of people go to see the parade on the 17th of March. It usually starts in Parnell Square at noon, and you’ll see all kinds of weird and wonderful things there.
You could even plan to do a St Patrick walking tour, to learn everything there is to learn about this patron saint.



Easter in Greece

One of the greatest celebrations of Christianity is Easter, and the faithful Christians all over Greece follow the Holy Week ritual devoutly.
Easter Sunday is celebrated this year on April 16th, and at midnight the most amazing celebration takes place. 
People take unlit candles to churches, and when it is time to return back they light their candles with the church's holy flame. As they walk back through the town, there are celebratory bells, fireworks and lots of different celebrations going on.
It's a unique experience for visitors and one worth adding to the list!



Spring in New Orleans

Going to New Orleans in Spring can be so much fun. During the all-too-brief period just after the madness of Mardi Gras, but before the oppressive summer heat really kicks in: this is when you want to pack in all the outdoor activities you can handle.
Check out the area’s biggest festivals, plus a whole litany of concerts, crawfish boils, fêtes, parades, soirees... you know. All the good stuff.
Between the dates of April 25th-May 4th you can visit the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival. There have been some incredible artists play here, from Bruce Springsteen to Robin Thicke. That's just one of many festivals; there’s also St Joseph’s day, Soul Fest, and Earth Fest to name a few.
If you're wanting to experience a real American Spring Break then New Orleans is one of the top places to do just that.



Edinburgh Fringe Festival

For over 50 years Scotland's capital city has seen a unique explosion of creative energy within the Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world. 
Held in August annually, this year it runs from 4th-28th August.
In 2015 the event was the largest is had ever been and spanned 25 days and featured 50,459 performances of 3,314 shows in 313 venues.
It is an open access performing arts festival, meaning there is no selection committee, and anyone may participate, with any type of performance.
Edinburgh has spawned many notable original shows and helped establish the careers of many writers and performers, including Rowan Atkinson, Steven Berkoff, Jo Brand, Billy Connolly, Ben Elton, Eddie Izzard to name a few.
With such a creative and electric atmosphere, and shows and entertainment for everyone- it's certainly an event to attend!



Oktoberfest in Munich

Oktoberfest is the world's largest beer festival held yearly in Munich, Bavaria in Germany.
It's a 16-18-day folk festival running from mid-September to the first weekend in October, with more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year. 
The Oktoberfest is a very important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since 1810.
In 2017 it is running from September 16th-October 3rd.
If you like beer, German food, or just having a great time- this an event to do at least once in your lifetime. 
Dress up in the traditional Bavarian outfits- lederhosen for guys and dirndl for girls, drink beer (or wine if you prefer), go on carnival rides, enjoy the delicious food and party in the biggest beer halls in the world with like-minded people.
I attended in 2015 and it was one of the greatest times I've ever had!
As a tip, book as early as you can- as accommodation is very expensive and gets booked out quickly, and I would also recommend going in the second or third week, as the first week was extremely busy!



Day of the Dead, Mexico

Day of the Dead is one of the most important cultural events in the Mexican calendar. It is all about honouring the dead with food, colourful flowers, candles, parades, decorative masks, sugar skulls and dancing skeletons.
The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. 
It is particularly celebrated with a carnivalesque remembrance in Mexico, where it is a national holiday. Day of the Dead is celebrated from October 31st-November 2nd.



Christmas/New Years in New York

Doesn’t Christmas and New Years in New York sound like a dream come true? It’s no secret that New York is one of the most beautiful places to go at this time of year.
There are so many pretty lights, an incredible festive atmosphere, and if you’re lucky- it might even snow. New York New Years Eve will be like nothing you’ve ever done before. There are so many festive events and parties to attend and the streets and shops are incredibly decorated.
The big New Years Eve countdown in Times Square is one of the top places in the world to be on 31st December, with the infamous ball drop and the world-class music performances and entertainment throughout the evening.
It would absolutely be a night to remember and a fantastic way to bring in the new year!



There we have some of the top places in the world to head to this year in 2017.
These are some truly incredible events and definitely worth doing at least once in your lifetime! Why not cross a couple of these off this year?
For me, I dream of Christmas and New Years in New York!
What do you dream of and what are you planning for your 2017 travel itinerary?

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*This post is a collaboration and contains images that are not my own

Travelling on a Budget Tips


Travelling can be rather expensive - with long haul flights, visa costs and accommodation being just the beginning. There is such an enormous variety of places to go and so many things to see - it’s natural to think you might need to take out a second mortgage to get it done in a way that truly does it justice.
Travelling on a budget, however, is easier than you might expect - so many people are doing it and you don't have to be a young backpacker to do it yourself.
Here are a few of my top tips for anyone travelling even on the tightest of budgets.

Transport

Overland travel in particular, is quite affordable with inexpensive buses, train tickets as well as other means of cheap transport such as car sharing.
There are plenty of low-cost airlines out there as well - you just need to know where to look!

A good place to start that I love to use is the website www.rome2rio.com.
This compares the costs of multiple airlines, bus, ferry, car and train companies to help find you the most affordable route.
If you're wondering how to get from point X to point Z for example - you can easily find out through this website.

Below I've put together a list of cheap transport options that could come in handy and might save you money while travelling:


Budget flight sites:


This search site is similar to Rome2Rio but focuses on flights and enables users to find the least expensive flights to any destination in Europe.


Similar to above, this search engine helps find and compare flight prices and find the cheapest flights for any destination in the world.


Another search engine to help find the most inexpensive flights around the world.

If you are flying in Europe don't forget your etias.com documents.


Budget bus lines:


Eurolines is an affordable long distance bus company covering Europe and Morocco.


This bus company operates mainly in the UK and USA, with some buses operating through mainland Europe.


This is a German bus company with very affordable fares operating through mainland Europe.


This is Poland's low-cost bus service with routes into Germany, Slovakia and Czech Republic.


International routes connecting major cities including Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna, London, Berlin, Bonn, Moscow and many more.


Best train search site:


This site has the most up to date and best routes for train travel, with fare prices and time of travel within most countries in the world.


Ride Shares:


The largest and most trusted carpooling site in Europe- it connects drivers who are travelling through Europe with people looking for a ride. Fuel costs for the journey are shared.


Trip hopping searches not only ride share sites but also buses, trains and planes.
You can post a request to see who is offering a ride.



Budget Accommodation

There are many budget accommodation options out there from hostels to couchsurfing. Here are a few good websites to find the best prices depending on where you'd like to stay:


If you don't mind sharing a room with other people this website is the best to find what you're looking for and compare prices.


Couchsurfing allows you to meet some amazing locals and staying with them is free! Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to get a room, but sometimes you’ll literally be on the couch.


This is my personal favourite option - as I prefer to stay somewhere with my own room!
You can search for rooms available and filter by your price range, specific requirements (eg. laundry, wifi) and in the area you would like to stay.
If you've never tried it before and would like to, sign up by using my code following this link here and get $50 AUD off your first stay.

Hotels

You can still find hotel rooms pretty cheap sometimes. Some good places to filter from the cheapest rooms available first include:



www.agoda.com



Now that we've covered the basics - here are a few more quick tips to keep those travelling costs down!

Choose lower-cost places

If you wish to take a trip somewhere for a decent amount of time and not spent all of your money in the first couple of weeks - choose destinations known to be more budget-friendly.
South-East Asia is one of the most popular regions to travel to in the world for a reason.
You have the ability to stay somewhere fairly decent and eat and drink well even on the lowest of budgets. Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia are the ones I've travelled through so far and can vouch for.
Same goes for travelling through Eastern Europe. Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic were all very inexpensive and perfect places for travellers on a budget. These are just places from my own experience - I'm sure there are many more around the world, such as South America for example.


Go for the free attractions

Of course plan for those few special things you want to do that cost, but there are loads of attractions in every city that are still amazing that won't cost you a thing!
Many museums and galleries are free, there are beautiful parks and all sorts for nothing.
One of my favourite things to do in a new city is to go on a free walking tour.

Free Walking Tours

There are two great companies I know of that I will always choose to go for:

Next City Tours- I have done their walking tours in Prague and Barcelona.

Sandemans - I have done their walking tours in London, Dublin and Berlin.

Both are excellent and a great way to be introduced to a city. You get taken around by foot to a lot of the main highlights and attractions and the guides are always very friendly, helpful and full of interesting historical facts and stories.

Do some research before you go, I'm sure many travel blogs out there will be able to share free or very cheap things to do in each specific place.
If you’re a student, teacher, or under age 26 you can sign up for discounts and save a lot that way. When I travelled through Europe I got into loads of attractions (such as the Acropolis in Athens) for free just by showing my student ID card.

Live like a local

Even the cheapest of countries can still be expensive if you live like a tourist. 
Restaurants, resorts and tour companies are out there to take advantage of you and your money and will take any opportunity to hike up the price.
Living like a local will save you a tonne of money as well as allowing you to truly experience the country as well.
You can do this by eating where the locals eat and ordering off a non-English menu.
Find out where the locals drink their beer - it's usually a heck of a lot cheaper!
Stay somewhere on the outskirts of those big tourist attractions where the locals live.
This is where you'll find many of their local places, supermarkets, shopping and fresh food markets and so on.


Cook your own meals

Whenever you are able to - cook your own meals. Be sure to of course try the local food and eat out occasionally, but make the most of cooking for yourself which will save you a lot of money. Consider going for the street food, rather than sit down restaurant meals - eat like the locals! Buying your lunches from a supermarket or local bakery too is a very budget friendly option.


Work while you're there

Depending on how long you are travelling for, you might be able to find work to help supplement your trip. It's usually fairly easy to find casual jobs working as a bar worker, hostel worker, tour guide, Au pair, waiter/waitress and so on, as long as you speak the language and are willing!


You don’t need a tonne of money to be able to travel. You just need to make it a priority. 
Do your research, keep an eye out for deals, travel cheaply and enjoy!
Stop making excuses and turn that travel dream into a reality!



I hope you found these tips helpful. Let me know if you have any questions or budget travel tips of your own to add.

Thanks for reading,

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*This post is a collaboration and contains images that are not my own.

Visas 101: All you need to know


You’ve got your trip booked, your passport renewed and you’re ready to pack your bags.
But, there’s just one more thing; your visa! It can sometimes be a complicated affair, getting documents like a visa prepared.
There are forms to fill in, photos to take, potential interviews and a heap more to do.
At other times it can be as simple as filling out a form online.
To give you a helping hand- this post will take you through some important information regarding visas. Of course, every country is different, and so is every visa- so be sure to do some research for yourself.


What Is A Visa?

A visa is a document issued by a country's government. It specifies that the visa holder is entitled to stay within the country for a certain amount of time. Of course, breaking a country’s laws or rules could result in a visa being taken away.
Sometimes you can choose how long you want a visa for, other times there is a limit. Sometimes it also depends on whether you need a work visa or a tourist visa.
Visas are used to curb illegal immigration, by making it possible for people to prove that they’re legal. It also gives the country’s government time to vet people before they enter the country. This means that existing criminal records can cause visas to be rejected by certain countries. You can find all of the requirement information for your specific destination online.




Do I Need One?

It depends on where you are going and where you are from. Sometimes, you won’t need a visa at all. This is usually the case when travelling within a group of countries like the EU. But, if you’re travelling between continents or countries with strict border control, you’re likely to need a visa. 
To find out whether or not you will need a visa, look for the country’s government site regarding immigration. They are usually very upfront with this information and it’s easy to understand.
Another way you can check what countries you need a visa for is via Wikipedia.
For example, I would google "Countries New Zealand needs a visa" and the Wikipedia page with the full list immediately comes up.


How To Get A Visa

Getting your hands on a visa can potentially be a long process.
Visit the website set up by the country’s government, for visa handling. This will give you an overview of the application process. They’ll let you either download forms to print out or complete an online form. 
In some countries, you can even get an electronic visa that you don’t need paperwork for. 
The next step in the application process is different for each country. Some countries will allow you to buy a visa on arrival in the airport. This requires no prior application and is usually quite cheap.

My Visa Experiences:

I am travelling to Vietnam in three weeks and I had to complete an online form to apply for a tourist visa for less than a month. A few days later after it was approved, they sent through the paperwork which I have printed out.
I just have to take that and two passport-approved and sized photographs with me and I can get my official visa done and stamped on arrival at the airport before entering Vietnam. It costs around $40 USD.

When I studied and lived in Germany last year, as I was staying for longer than three months I needed a student visa. This required many many forms (the Germans are very bureaucratic), photos and a small interview. Thankfully as the forms were in German the university helped us international students to fill these in and took us to the office to get it sorted as a group.
We also needed bank statements with a certain amount of money in it proving that we could afford to live in Germany for however long we were staying for.
My visa fee was waved as I was on a scholarship, however it would have otherwise cost 80 €.


When To Apply

You should apply for your visa as soon as you possibly can. The process can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to even a few months, so it’s best to be liberal with time. 
Some countries won’t let you apply any earlier than three months before the visa start date, so definitely be aware of these restrictions and apply as soon as you can.


Possible Requirements

During the application process, you may be asked for more than you originally had to give. Sometimes, you’ll need to travel to an embassy for an interview. Other times, they may require more documentation. A lot of the time these extra requirements countries may enforce are done on a random basis. They do this to make it harder for certain people to avoid detection. But you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide!


Hopefully this will ease some of the stress when it comes to planning your next big trip that requires a visa! Just remember to do plenty of research in advance. This will give you an edge when it comes to getting all of the applications done in time.


Thanks for reading,
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*This post was a collaboration and contains images that are not my own.

How to plan a Destination Wedding: My Experience



Choosing the destination

First things first! Choose the right destination! Do you have somewhere in mind you have always dreamed of getting married? If it is somewhere that you truly want- then make it happen!
Make sure you have heard the place is known for weddings and that it's a good fit for you.
Whether it's one or two years away or even a few months, it should be an affordable price you can manage.
Pick somewhere that gets you excited thinking about it, where you can imagine tying the knot and having the best day of your life.
Is it on a tropical island on a beach? Perhaps it's in an exciting city in a grand church, or on a vineyard in Tuscany.
Wherever the place, try to pick somewhere that's relatively easy to get to and keep in mind your guests that you wish to come too.

My destination:

For me, I'm not too fussed about the whole wedding thing- I wouldn't mind being married in Las Vegas! For my fiance- his dream destination is in Tuscany (and hey I agree that would have been amazing!).
But if we had of chosen Europe- my family and the majority of our friends would not have been able to make it. We would have been lucky to have more than four guests.
Because we did really want our family there as well as our closest friends- we compromised and chose Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.
It's a country we haven't been to (exciting for me), it's on a stunning tropical island that apparently really does look exactly like the pictures, and it's an easy flight from New Zealand (about four hours) where all of our guests are coming from.


We did consider Fiji as well (also in the Pacific Ocean), but we found the prices of Rarotonga to be more comparable to New Zealand, whereas in Fiji prices of things were over-inflated and quite often double. Rarotonga was better value for ourselves and our guests too and it looks just as gorgeous- if not even more so!

We thought Rarotonga would be perfect for us because we aren't having a traditional wedding, rather we want it to be a very relaxed and fun affair for all of our guests and for us as well- we want to actually have an amazing and enjoyable day!
So many people we have heard from say that their wedding day was ghastly expensive, stressful and goes by in the blink of an eye.
That's why we thought going 'Island Styles' and having a casual ceremony on the beach, followed by a relaxed reception under a marquee in the sand with good music, food and drink would fit us perfectly.




Picking the wedding venue

Once you have chosen your destination it's time to get researching on the wedding venue options! It's a great idea to go with ones that already have great reviews and to choose one that comes with a package and a wedding planner.

What we did:

We booked our trip through Flight Centre and they gave us three good recommendations of resorts where you stay and host both the ceremony and reception.
We took those recommendations on board but the most important thing is to do your own research. We spent hours and hours on Trip Advisor going through every place that offered wedding resorts.
In the end it was a hard toss up between two and I honestly think both would have been perfect. The comments were all lovely and had glowing reviews as wedding venues.
We ended up choosing one over the other because of the stunning luxury beachfront suite we would be staying in for one, which looks like an absolute dream!

We chose The Pacific Resort and we are so incredibly happy that we did because organising our wedding with them has been such a breeze.
They have a fabulous weddings coordinator and she is so great at answering any of our questions, incorporating everything we want and she knows exactly how to make our day run smoothly and without a glitch. We've had numerous emails back and forth throughout the year as well as two skype calls and it really has been so simple and stress-free to work with her- she is very good at what she does!
I can't wait to write a review of the resort as a wedding destination as I'm very confident it will be everything we can possibly imagine!

Once the venue and dates have been chosen, book it along with your flights and travel insurance.

This will be the view from our room at The Pacific Resort! *love heart eyes emoji*

Guests

Choosing who you wish to come is the next step. Start with Save The Dates and send them out as early as you can. If you want as many guests to be able to make it then the earliest warning and most time to save is ideal (for both parties!).
For ours, I just created my own Save The Date image and sent it in an email to each person to save a bit of money.
We asked for an informal RSVP and a few months later once we knew who was interested in coming we mailed out the formal invitations.
For destination weddings it's always nice to keep it small and personal. For us the ideal amount was no more than 30 of our closest friends and family.
If you wish to invite only a select few, then you just have to be very hard on yourself when sending out the Save The Dates. You don't have to invite every distant relative or co-worker- it's your special day so only invite those who you truly want to be there.



Sort the details with the planner

Next it's time to get working with the wedding planner and sort out all of those details!
This will include:

  • Ceremony time and details
  • Celebrant
  • Marriage license
  • Reception details
  • Food and drink
  • Music and entertainment
  • Cake and flowers

Your wedding planner should be able to provide you with all of the information and choices for the above- all you have to do is choose what you would like!
In our packages with The Pacific Resort most things are included and you can opt into extra things if that tickles your fancy.
For example, we just took the basic ceremony package which includes the celebrant, marriage license and certificate, a perfectly groomed area on the beach with 8 decorated chairs and signing table, floral arrangements, sound system and of course the unlimited services of the professional wedding coordinator.
They have many wonderful extras you can include and a couple we have chosen is having a handmade floral archway to stand under and a string band to play for the ceremony and then into the reception for the first couple of hours.
For our reception package included is a beautifully decorated marquee with fairy lights, floral table decorations and candles, flaming tiki torches, linen and chair covers and a sound system.
With our food and beverage packages we have a personal bar with a bartender as well as all of the food organised and cooked fresh on site.
We don't have to worry about a thing on the day except to enjoy ourselves as it will all be taken care of and the wedding coordinator will be there the whole time as well to help with anything to make the day as perfect as possible.



Organise yourself:

Some things that you will have to organise yourself include:

  • Makeup and hair 
  • Photographer 

(For these two above planners should be able to give you good recommendations).

  • The obvious things like your wedding dress, suits etc.
  • Any extras you might like that gives it a personal touch.
    Maybe you'll want to organise some games, have sky lanterns, extra bride and groom table decorations, a lolly bar or ice cream truck etc.
  • Speeches and any readings
  • Seating plan arrangements and any gift bags
  • Hen and stag activities

Extras, gift bags and hen and stag activities are totally optional, but it's always a nice touch especially as your guests are travelling a long way to be with you for your day, and it's a great way to acknowledge that and thank them.
We wanted a day where we could all get together before the wedding, meet up and have some fun- so we organised a boys and girls activity day.
The boys are going out on a big game fishing trip and will be enjoying a BBQ lunch and a few beers on board. 
The girls are doing an afternoon to sunset cruise on a glass-bottomed boat with drinks and nibbles and some organised games on a sandy island. 
Afterwards, everyone is meeting up together at a chosen place for dinner and drinks and it's a fantastic chance for all the guests to meet prior to the wedding day and for us to all hang out.




Enjoy!

I'm yet to test this point out- but not long to go for me now! We fly into Rarotonga on the 20th of November and I have no doubt that everything will be taken care of and we will feel instantly relaxed.
My destination wedding planning experience so far has been better than I imagined and I'm so grateful to The Pacific Resort for that.

Our first full day there is a Monday and we have a morning meeting with the lovely wedding coordinator, where she will show us through the resort and wedding locations and go through all of the fine details and any last minute decisions.
We will also meet with the celebrant during that time and go through how we want our vows to be done.
After that we have an afternoon meeting with our photographer and the rest of our time is free to relax and enjoy ourselves.
On Tuesday I have my hair and makeup consultation and then our organised Hen and Stag activities in the afternoon, and our meet up afterwards for dinner and a few drinks.
Wednesday is a free pamper day for me where I am planning on getting a nice massage and my nails done, and then Thursday the 24th is the big day!


It's less than two weeks until I fly out now so it's all getting very exciting.
I hope you found this post interesting and helpful in any way if you are planning a destination wedding of your own.
Stay tuned for a Rarotonga Travel Diary upon my return, and then a hotel and wedding destination review of The Pacific Resort.
If I have any more tips to add I may do a second more updated post on destination weddings.

Thanks so much for reading and I hope to catch you in my next post!

Pin it! :)
*This post contains images that are not my own.

Ultimate Travelling Essentials to pack!


You've booked your flight, accommodation, worked hard to save your money and probably waited for what seemed like forever - now the time has finally come to pack for your upcoming travel adventure!
Some people love packing, some people hate it.
I'm the former as I get so enthusiastic whenever I'm about to jet off and I love the excitement of getting everything prepared and ready to go.
(So much so that usually I can't even sleep the night before!).


Aside from packing the obvious things like:

Passport, wallet, phone, tickets, sunglasses, camera, clothes, toiletries, book,

etc. - take a minute and check the following travel essentials listed below.
The country you're travelling to might surprise you - every destination is different, so it's always better to be prepared.
Here is a checklist that includes the essentials to pack and also some handy items which can be useful depending on where and how long you will be travelling.


Essentials:

Travel documents copies


It's really important to make copies of your passport just in case it gets lost or damaged. Same for any required travel visas.
It's a good idea to also print out confirmations, especially for hotel bookings and any pre-booked extra trips and activities - as quite often bookings can get 'lost' and are nowhere to be found in the system.
If you are travelling for a while it can also be handy to make a print out of your itinerary to refer to along the way, with all the important info highlighted such as flight/travel times and top things you wish to do.


Noise cancelling headphones


This is a big necessity for me! As well as having an extensive music playlist.
Noise cancelling headphones are my saviour on aeroplanes. Even if I don't feel like listening to music I'll pop them on anyway to tune out all the noise around me.


Earplugs & eyemask


Another necessity similar to above! Useful for when trying to sleep on long-haul flights and even for those noisy hotel rooms or hostels that also never quite get dark enough at night.


Surge protector & adapter


Surge protectors are important to make sure your electronics don't fry in case of different surge strengths. It's a smart idea to bring a double plug adapter with you to be able to plug in two devices at once if you need to.

Day pack/bag


Take a fairly lightweight backpack with you that doesn't take up much room in the suitcase.
It's great for carrying all those essential items such as wallet, camera, drink bottle, snacks etc. Be sure it's comfortable to wear all day for those daily out and about trips.

Appropriate footwear

Something I've learnt the hard way - pack appropriate footwear! You walk so much more when you travel and it's so important to wear durable and comfortable shoes.
Your legs will probably already be aching at the end of the day (love that feeling though!) so don't add to the pain by having sore feet too.


Wind & rain proof jacket


Another important travelling item is the wind and rain proof jacket (maybe not so much if you are just going to a tropical island!).
Nobody wants to be stuck in the rain while travelling. When choosing one try to go for the all-in-one kind - both wind and waterproof, lightweight and with a pocket. These are both comfortable and useful and can be easily packed into your luggage.


Hand sanitizer

Very very important! You don't want to get sick, especially while on holiday so use it frequently - after touching money, door handles, rails etc. and especially before eating if you can't wash your hands first.


Mini travel health kit


Pack a mini health kit with any medications you may need, along with panadol/aspirin, cold/flu medicine, antibiotics, Imodium (just in case!) and basic first aid supplies such as plasters and so on. Small scissors are also very handy to pack (just don't put them in your carry-on bag... woops!).


Tissues

Take at least a couple of small tissue packets with you and have one on you at all times in your day pack. Not only for nose emergencies but more so for the many places that don't have toilet paper! (Especially common in South-East Asia and other developing countries).


Plastic bags & snap/zip lock bags


Take a few plastic grocery bags for any dirty or wet clothes, and to wrap your shoes in before packing them in your suitcase.
Snap/zip lock bags are also great to seal any toiletry liquids that may leek, to keep all of your chargers together or any loose items, to put your rubbish into whilst out and about, and even to seal your phone in if it happens to downpour!


Small padlocks

I highly recommend putting a lock on your suitcase while travelling to and from your destination and keeping any valuables locked up inside it when leaving your accommodation for the day.
If you're staying in a hostel quite often they provide lockers but you have to provide your own lock for it. It's also handy to bring a spare if you're going somewhere notorious for pickpockets. Keep your backpack locked up and all of your belongings safe!


If you're going somewhere hot:

Wet wipes 


Wet wipes or baby wipes are excellent to take if you're doing a long tour, hiking, backpacking or just going somewhere really hot! They are perfect to help freshen up.
You can wipe your face, hands or whole self with if you're missing a shower, and they are even handy to clean your belongings with if you get dirty shoes for example.


Insect repellent


It's a great idea to bring a small insect repellent with you if you are going somewhere warm and will be spending a lot of time outside. Use especially when at the beach and in the evenings to keep away those pesky mosquitoes, flies and other blood-sucking bugs.


Light scarf/sarong
If you're heading to a hot destination you probably won't be bringing many warm clothes - so a light scarf or sarong is perfect for during the flight to keep warm or to even use as a pillow. It can also double up as a beach cover up or for visiting temples.


Sunblock & hat


Don't forget your hat and sunblock! Protecting your skin from sun damage is extremely important, especially as you'll probably be spending extra time in it. Soak up those rays but do be sun-smart.


If you're travelling for a while:

Mini sewing kit
I'm not kidding you I have used my mini sewing kit and I am so glad that I had it! (I had to sew up a large rip in the back of my suitcase which saved me from having to buy a new one). Pack a small kit with a couple of basic needles and threads as well as safety pins and spare buttons. You know that you will need it that one time you don't pack it!


Washing powder

If I'm travelling for a while I have no problem at all with hand-washing my clothes in the sink, so I always take a small ziplock bag with a scoop of washing powder with me.
It's a heck of a lot cheaper and more fuss-free just to wash your clothes yourself!


Other handy things I take (optional):

Notebook and pens


I do like to write so I always take a small notebook and pen with me. I like to write down the highlights of each day (I love looking back on these years later!) as well as any ideas of things I'd like to do or places to eat at etc.


Bottle opener


This is an essential item for fellow beer drinkers out there! I do enjoy chilling in the hotel room for example on the balcony, having a couple of local store-bought beers in the afternoon sun or before heading out for dinner.
For the wine drinkers - you may want to bring a Swiss army knife with you for those pesky corks (or of course if you are camping/hiking/backpacking it will definitely come in handy for that too).


Umbrella
I always pack a small, lightweight but durable umbrella. I would recommend it if you're going somewhere in the colder months, definitely if you're going to the UK, or somewhere with regular afternoon downpours!

Protein bars


Lastly, it's a great idea to take a packet of good protein bars with you for your day pack. Being active all day long will wake up your appetite, so having a quick and filling snack on hand is useful to curb hunger in-between meals, which can also save you some money!



There we have my ultimate list of travelling essentials to pack. Let me know in the comments if you have any other essentials you can't go without - I'd love to read them!

Happy Travels,

Pin it! :)

*This post contains images that are not my own.

Summer holiday: Travel packing essentials | Bali


I'm so excited that I'm off travelling to Bali, Indonesia today!!! My fiance and I were there only 8 months ago which was our last proper holiday, but we loved it so much that we spontaneously decided to go back. We booked our tickets only 2 and a half weeks ago... I think that's so cool and exciting doing fun impulsive things like this!
We both love to travel and as it's mid-Winter here and my fiance has a bit of time off work, it was the perfect time for a quick getaway to unwind.
We looked into a few options like Malaysia and Thailand as well, but they were a lot more expensive in comparison and take more than 13 hours flying time to get there.

The great thing about Indonesia is that it's so close to Australia- only 6 hours flight from us, so as this is just a quick trip and we want to mostly relax, we thought going back to Bali was perfect for us. I'm looking forward to it so much!
It's a tropical Summer there year-round, full of great beaches, palm trees, friendly smiling locals, and most importantly delicious (and cheap) food and drink!
Here I share with you my Summer holiday packing essentials as I'm so excited, and writing about it fuels it even more! I include a few typical Summer holiday outfits and swimwear, as well as my essential travel items and products.


Outfits


As the weather is extremely hot and humid- light and breezy outfits are the way to go!
I'm bringing with me three floaty dresses, shown below, as well as a couple of jean shorts and plenty of singlets to mix and match. Even taking a light cardy for the evenings is not necessary- it's still hot and sticky even at night! (Thank god for air conditioning in our rooms).
I'll only be bringing one sweatshirt with me and that will be to wear on the plane!

Denim high-waist shorts from Jay Jays, white Elwood singlet 

Favourite quote :p

Purple floral dress from H&M, paired with white Converse

Blue tie-dye baby doll dress from Dotti, paired with black detailed sandals

Purple O'Neil singlet, black Vans side bag

Blue dotted dress from H&M paired with black leather strap sandals


Pool/beach essentials


We are planning on spending a lot of time at the pool and beach so here's exactly what I'll be bringing for that:

  • 4x bikinis
  • Sunnies
  • Hat
  • Sunblock
  • Book (or 2)
  • Board shorts, light singlet
  • Jandals (flipflops)
  • Canvas bag


Bikinis I'm taking!

Assorted collection from Cotton On Body, Factorie, Jay Jays & Farmers

I find it easiest to carry all of my items from the hotel room- room key, sunblock, book, water, towel etc. in a cheap canvas/carry bag. I'll just throw on board shorts and a light singlet over my bikini and wear jandals to and from the pool or beach.
(Exactly the same as my picture below from the last trip to Bali- apart from I'm wearing his jandals in the photo for some reason and mine are next to me- so ignore that!).




Carry-on Essentials


Things I take with me every time I travel in my carry-on/hand luggage:

  • Passport
  • Phone, wallet
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Headphones
  • Plug adaptor
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Panadol
  • Chap stick
  • Notebook & pen
  • Water bottle



Beauty & skincare products


I like to keep it very simple when I'm on holiday and I also prefer to travel light, so I only take the essential make up, skin and bath products that I need. My make up all fits into one small cosmetic bag and my other products below fit into a medium-sized toiletry bag.
Starting with make up, I'm taking with me:

  • Mascara
  • Eyeliner
  • 2x small
    eyeshadows
  • Matte mousse
  • Powder
  • Concealer
  • Lipstick

Skincare and toiletries:

  • Mini shampoo & conditioner
  • Facial scrub/wash
  • Daily moisturiser
  • Make up wipes
  • Deoderant
  • Mini toothpaste, brush & floss
  • Razor
  • Travel-sized hairspray
  • Small hair comb


Cheeky selfie last time in Bali!

And there we have all of my Summer holiday travel packing essentials and what I'm taking with me to Bali!
No hair straighteners, laptop or heels.
We are going for a simple relaxing beach holiday, with a few fun island explorations and cultural activities thrown in there as well.

Thanks so much for reading, let me know in the comments if you have any other holiday essentials yourself or if you have a trip coming up that you're looking forward to.

This will be my last post for July as I don't return until the 30th.
Stay tuned for a Bali Travel Diary post about what I got up to along with plenty more pictures.


See you next month!

The Potato Head Beach Club, Seminyak

Tegalalang Rice Terraces, Ubud

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.

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*This post contains images that are not my own

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