Curing Wanderlust Whilst You’re Stuck At Home

So recently, my case of wanderlust has been beyond ridiculously strong. And to rub it all in, I’d say about 90% of my Facebook friends are in Europe at the moment and obviously have exceptional internet service because they seem to be instagramming every minute of their trip. And so I’ve spent my break working working working, with the wanderlust increasing. So here’s my guide to all of you who are also stuck working at home over the break, with their toes twitching for adventure.

Check out a local farmers markets and enjoy some local, tasty food with friends
Check out a local farmers markets and enjoy some local, tasty food with friends

Treat your tastebuds. One of my favourite parts of travelling is eating amazing food 24/7. So why not treat yourself to that expensive Italian restaurant that you’ve never been to before? Or that quaint little cafe you walk past on your way to work? Go out with a friend or two, eat lots of food and drink even more wine. If you drink enough wine, it’ll feel like you’re in Italy or any other country before you know it.

Banana and bacon french toast in Newtown, Sydney
Banana and bacon french toast in Newtown, Sydney

Snap away. When you’re in a new place and especially a different country, you can’t help but see everything as unique, different, beautiful and in need of being on your Instagram immediately. If you apply that mindset to you’re hometown, you’ll look at it in a completely different way and be quite astounded with how beautiful it can be. And your instagram will love you for it!

Be a tourist in your hometown. Sure you may roll your eyes at all the tourists taking photos of famous buildings or street signs or statues. But how about you join them for a day? Go to all of the hotspots and embrace how remarkable the place you live in is.

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Go away for a few nights. I recently booked a 4 night holiday to Melbourne and it was one of the best things I could’ve done. It’s true, 4 nights in a new city isn’t much, but it sure is enough to check out of reality and have some fun exploring somewhere new. You can read about all of my Melbourne adventures here.

Get on a train. Or a bus, or a car and head and go on a daytrip somewhere. A small trainstop that you’ve always been through but have no idea what’s there, a bus ride to the last stop and go for an adventure. The key is to look at everything as if it was the first time.

Stick with the classics, and your breath will be blown away
Stick with the classics, and your breath will be blown away

Watch a foreign film. You don’t even have to get out of your PJ’s for this one. Just explore some of the great foreign films on offer on Netlix and bam, you’re in another country. Les Intouchables, Samba, Amelie and Amour are some of my favourite French films which will leave you feeling as though you’re strolling through Paris.

If these ideas are not enough to cure your wanderlust until you’re next overseas holiday, then why haven’t you gone already?!

xxx A

Have the attitude of an Exchange Student

I’ve been lucky enough to meet some incredible exchange students throughout my time of living at university college. People from all over the world who have embarked on an epic adventure to study for six months or a year are lucky enough to spend their time in beautiful Wollongong. And whilst they’re from all over the world, from many different cultures, they all have one thing in common… an incredibly positive, spontaneous and adventurous outlook on life. And whilst I’m so grateful for the friendships I’ve made, I’ll always be grateful for showing me how to truly make the most of every opportunity. And here are some of the most admirable thing about Exchange Students.

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They’re spontaneous. If you ask an exchange student what the did on the weekend, don’t expect your stock standard ‘aw, not much,’ because chances are, they actually did something awesome. ‘I went to Melbourne… road tripped up the coast… went camping in the Blue Mountains… went skydiving…’ Exchange students are always doing the unexpected, saying yes and have their bags pakced just in time to get on the next train to, well, anywhere. Their answers will leave you reconsidering your saturday night Sex & the City marathon.

They’re productive and balanced. When they’re not jetsetting around the country, they’re busy doing everything else the physically have time for. Playing sports (and trying new ones), being involved with clubs, going out every second Wednesday night, going hiking, surfing, swimming, exploring… And then on top of that, they get all of their assignments done. It must be the all rounded balance that they have in their lives which keeps them motivated and lifted, and this is one of the biggest traits that I’m trying to adopt myself.

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They’re positive and optimistic. Maybe it’s because they’re free to reinvent themselves in a new country, but most exchange students tend not to dwell on the little problems that life throws at you. Instead, they’ll look at the bigger picture and think ‘hey, it’s not so bad, look at where I am, in a beautiful country with so many opportunities and I’m stressing out about a little essay.’ It’s such an beautiful outlook to have on life because it’s so easy to worry and worry and worry even more about all the little things. But instead, we should just take one big step back, take a deep breath and try to look on the bright side.

They’re ridiculously friendly. You say hello and introduce yourself and next minute, you’re talking about travelling and your favourite country/city/food. They’re all open minded because they’ve travelled across the world to study and here to make friends.

(One of the bonuses) You’ll have a lounge to crash on in the future. Think of all the people you know from all of those countries around the world and all of the lounges that are just waiting to be slept on. Plus you’ll have a local tourguide to show your around. It’s a win-win situation.

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They’re focused and driven. They’ve obviously got their shit together. They’ve organized a semester or two to study at another university (and as someone currently going through this process, it’s time consuming and difficult), plus accommodation, living expenses and travel plans to organise, as well as doing something which will positively contribute towards their degree and future… they’ve definitely got a bigger plan. It’s incredibly motivating because it’s something I also want to achieve and lucky for me, I have awesome people to show me how it’s done.

But the WORST thing about Exchange Students… Despite all these amazing qualities about all these incredible people, why do they love you then leave you?! You create an awesome friendship and even more awesome memories… and then they leave! So to all the wonderful exchange students out there, past present and future, if you could just fix one tiny little flaw for me, that’d be great… please don’t leave!

*Dedicated to all my incredible exchange friends here and across the world. Can’t wait to crash on your lounge some time soon.

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xxx A

Morning Tea with World of Wanderlust

Just incase morning tea at the Shangri-La’s Horizon Club isn’t good enough, add Brooke Saward, travel and lifestyle blogger, into the scenario and you have one of the best morning tea’s an aspiring writer can have.

I have been following Brooke’s incredibly inspiring travel blog, World of Wanderlust for nearly two years now and she’s inspired me in so many ways to make the most out of life and appreciate the gift of travel. (read here) I was lucky enough to get the chance to meet her and it was so incredibly motivating and just down right freakin awesome!

Brooke and some very inspiring readers
Brooke and some very inspiring readers

I had no idea what to expect. Here is a girl who’s living her dream. THE dream. Travelled to over 50 countries, written books, how could she possibly find someone like me interesting?! To actually see her in person, just made her and everything she stands for so much more real.

We talked about so many different things; the importance of being a positive role model, relationships, university, pinterest, macaroons, travel as the most valuable form of education, Tasmania, Taylor Swift, the changing face of the internet, future travel plans, life and how freakin awesome the Blogosphere is.

Desserts by the renowned Anna Polyviou at the Shangri-La
Desserts by the renowned Anna Polyviou at the Shangri-La

It was incredible to get a insider’s view into the World of Wanderlust. I have a new found respect for her and other full time travel bloggers. Brooke makes it look so easy, staying in luxurious hotels and seeing all corners of the world. But it’s so much more than that. Switching between time zones, living out of a suitcase, trying to maintain relationships, managing your own business, all whilst trying to deal with the regular emotions associated with traveling. And at the bottom of it all, she seems so humble and appreciative. She’s worked damn hard to get where she is today and now she’s living her dream. THE dream. And after an amazing morning tea, with an amazing person, I feel like I have the ultimate control over my life and it’s up to me to make the most of it.

View of Sydney Harbour from the 30th floor of the Shangri-La
View of Sydney Harbour from the 30th floor of the Shangri-La

Sure, I may never be paid to travel the whole world and stay in 5 star hotels, but something better may even happen. But it’s up to me to make sure it does!

So, graçias Brooke for allowing me to realise my potential and passion in life and daring me to be brave enough to pursue it.

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xxx A

Iceland: Why It’s The Most Magical Place on Earth

Iceland. The name is somewhat deceiving, because there’s so much more than ice to this wonderful country offers. With waterfalls geysirs, volcanoes, lakes, mountains, elves… it should probably be renamed Magicland or maybe even Narnia. I was lucky enough to go there in January of 2014 for a few short days (literally, there was only 3.5 hours of sunlight a day), and it’s somewhere I hope to revisit next year in Summer. After some positive procrastination of searching through some of my favourite travel blogs and personal photos, and engaging in some more procrastination now, here’s some of the most incredible things about Iceland, and why it will leave you coming back for more.

The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon. Where it can be 0-2degrees outside and a balmy 30-35degrees in the water. Whilst it is a little bit expensive, it’s totally worth it to be surrounded by snow capped mountains, in the warmth, it’s an absolute MUST! I’d recommend going either as soon as you arrive in Iceland or before you leave because The Blue Lagoon is half way between Reykjavik and the airport and that way, you won’t waste a whole day getting there and back.

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Chasing Waterfalls. I went to Gullfoss when it was half frozen and my bones were completely frozen. However there’s so many other beautiful waterfalls in Iceland that I cannot wait to go back and visit!

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It was so cold and windy that I had to hold my beanie on
Selijalandsfoss, source
Selijalandsfoss, source

Geysirs and Volcanos. The land of Iceland is extremely active and versatile. Everywhere you look, there’s a something different to capture that you’ve never seen before and may never get the chance to see again.IMG_7020Reykjavík, the people and the culture. Reykavik is a unique city (or more like a big town) homed to a lot of great little bars and restaurants, with a niche little culture. The Icelandic people I met are ridiculously nice and sweet, welcoming, helpful, and the men can definitely rock a beard. With unique history, fun facts and the world’s only penis museum, Reykjavík is a gorgeously unique place.

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View of Reykjavik from the Church –  Source
Hallgrímskirkja
Hallgrímskirkja

The VIKINGS. Enough said really.

The Sun Voyager
The Sun Voyager

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The Mountains, the landscape, the sky and the land. Iceland is like anything I’ve ever seen on earth. And I can’t wait to go back again (hopefully in Summer) and do and see even more!

And here’s my bucketlist for next time I hit up Iceland!

Ride Icelandic Ponies

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Go Snorkelling at Silfra-  the Eurasian and North American continental plates

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And see the Northern Lights!

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Do you have any other recommendations for when I go back to Iceland? Do you have any favourite photos to share? Let me know in the comments below!

xxx A

Living Below the Poverty Line for 5 days – Here We Go

‘Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity, it is an act of justice’ – Nelson Mandela

This week, I’ll be living on $2 a day to raise money for people living below the poverty line across the world.

You can show your support and donate here so that together, we can help eradicate extreme poverty https://www.livebelowtheline.com.au/me/ahaynes

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The following photo is what I’ve purchased for my 5 day challenge. Goodbye coffee, goodbye yummy pumpkin seed Helgas bread, goodbye honey (why is honey so expensive?) and hello Coles’ white boring yucky bread and lots and lots of pasta! I must admit, I was quite surprised at how much I could actually purchase for $10 – even peanut butter! I’m not going to deny, it’s going to be a bit of a challenge but as soon as Saturday rolls around, I can go back to eating like normal, whereas others simply do not have that option. So that is the reason why this is such an important cause.

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xxx A

Friends Across The Globe: Reunion

Me, Nicole, Charline and Mack
Me, Nicole, Charline and Mack

They say that the friends you make when you first move out of home are friends for life. And regardless of distance or time, or how long it’s been since you’ve talked you know that they’ll be there for you. I was fortunate enough last weekend to meet up with these beautiful (above), who were some of my housemates whilst I was living in London. Whilst some of you may think, what’s the big deal, well I’m not sure you could ever understand the incredible bond we created at Clarendon 9. I was 18 when I moved into that house and was just discovering myself and the world around me. I was always up for trying new things, going on adventures and making the most of every opportunity. My time in London wasn’t always smooth sailing and my housemates were by my side through thick and thin. Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 5.42.56 pm As I waited at Central Station, having not seen my London family for almost 18months, I was absolutely overwhelmed with anxiety and excitement. I scanned every face, my heart skipping a beat every time I saw someone resembling my friends. I had been lucky enough to see Nicole in February and seeing her face again was so exciting. When we (finally) saw Charline and Mack walking through the Central, I couldn’t contain my excitement. We crept up on them, swarming them with hugs and nearly giving Mack a heart attack. After smothering them both with hugs and covering Mack’s shirt with makeup (my bad) we headed off to have some lunch and coffee, just like London times. From then on, we did not stop talking. It was like no time had passed at all and hearing their voices and seeing their faces right in front of me was so special and heart warming.

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For a long time, I was always conscious of starting a story with ‘when I was in London…’ because I didn’t want to seem like I was bragging. But after reminiscing about all the crazy adventures we got up to, I really don’t care at all. Why? Because London was the best year of my life. It was much more than just me living it up in another city, but it was where I made incredible friends, learnt my limits, discovered new things and learnt more about myself and what I want in life. And my London family, my housemates helped me through all of it and I’ll make be eternally grateful for that.

At the Royal Ascot
At the Royal Ascot

So what now? Who knows when we’ll see each other next. In the next month, this year, or next? Regardless of when I see my London family next, I know that we’ll all continue to change. Whilst I may have grown up considerably and changed a lot, some might say even matured, but in some way, there’s an 18 year old me still looking optimistically out at the world that my London family know all too well.

Until next time!

xxx A

1 Year On: Returning ‘Home’ After A Year Abroad

Firstly, I’ll start by saying how extremely difficult it was for me to write this post. Not physically write it, but for me to actually accept the fact that this big journey that I’ve been living (my Eurotrip Gap Year) was a year ago and is officially over.

So this time 2 years ago (January of 2013) I got on a plane and headed off to London (you can read about my Gap Year here). One year later (a year ago nearly to the day) I said goodbye to London and G’Day to Australia. And as the months flew by, I got stuck in to my new uni life (read about my adventures of 2014 here) as my London life slowly slipped away. So what are the biggest changes readjusting to life back ‘home?’ How do I define home? What’s the hardest part of it all? Here it is.

About to jet off to Iceland
About to jet off to Iceland

Home isn’t quite the same – you’re stuck somewhere in between. For a few months you mistakingly refer to home as in London (after all, it was home sweet home), then you start calling your parents house home, then where you’re living home and then you just get confused. I believe home truly is where the heart is, and my heart seems to be scattered around the world.

You have an identity crisis – you get on the plane all strong minded like ‘yea I know who I am and I’m not gonna let anyone change me.’ Then you land in Sydney, see all your friends and family and suddenly have an identity crisis. WHO AM I? It’s a terrifying experience, thinking that the old you is slipping away, making way for the new you that you’re not quite sure you like. The thought that got me through this ‘transformation’ is that I’m growing and learning from every experience (good or bad) and at the end of the day, it will help make me stronger.

Conquering a hike through a valley
Trying to be a strong independent woman

People see you as the same little you that left – Not the strong independent traveller you now are. School friends see you as the nerd that studied too much, or too things too seriously, or partied too much… but little do they know how much you’ve changed. You feel so empowered, accomplished and strong until someone says ‘aw, you haven’t changed one bit,’ then all that confidence disappears like packets of Tim Tam’s on sale.

You can no longer say ‘This time last year’- For some reason, this was such a comforting statement. Comparing my life now to my adventures last year. But now I can say this time next year… who knows where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing!’ That is the most motivating thought I have. The thought of the unknown!

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Welcoming new challenges and adventures

You can see people getting bored with your travelling stories but you’ll still tell them again – What do you mean you don’t want to hear about how I lost my purse in Rome and magically found it an hour later with all my money in it? Or the time I crashed the best house party in London? Or the time I got to march in the St. Pattys Day Parade in Dublin? Or the time… Ok I get it, you’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it a few more times yet so get comfortable.

You get a serious case of PTD (Post Travel Depression) – You have the highest high that travel offers and suddenly you stop and you’re back at home. Then you come crashing down with the realisation that it’s over. It’s real and it sucks.

You lose touch with your ‘lifelong friends’- At high school you have about 50 BFFL pink sparkly necklaces. And as soon as you jet off, the sparkles seem to magically disappear. This isn’t necessarily a sad part of leaving home, it’s just the inevitable change in life that takes some getting used to. Regardless of if you actually keep these friendships for life, you’ll always have the precious memories of friendships.

My (short) Christmas with my family 2014
You realise how important family is!

But you also find out who your real friends are – You might now have to message everyday. In fact, one of my best friends that was in Australia when I was overseas and I barely spoke. Not because we didn’t want to, but because we were so preoccupied with our busy lives. And the second one of us needed eachother, we’d be there. The minute I returned to Australia it was like I never left. It’s those sorts of friendships that will last for years and will be the most special. Best Friends For Life (for real).

You don’t settle for okay anymore – You’ve had a taste of the spicy, succulent, addictive flavours of the world and crave it everyday. Why would you then settle for a little salt and pepper seasoning? You won’t accept ordinary, or average, or okay… you try to make everything incredible!

You feel motivated to do it again – Was it all worth it? The love, the pain, the grief, homesickness, the ongoing identity crisis… (see image below)! So what am I doing about it now? I’m trying to live life to the fullest, to appreciate everything and everyone I have and bring on the adventures for 2015 and years to come!

x A

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If it’s on Sex and the City, it must be true