Upcoming Travel Plans (3 NEW COUNTRIES)

You know me, a few months at home and my feet are already itching for a new adventure. But how, when, where? After returning from my epic trip to Europe and North America, I’m pretty broke and most people assume I’m going to quietly finish my degree and prepare for adult life. HELL NO! When have I ever done anything quietly, or done what is expected of me? OK, enough foreplay, let’s jump straight into the juicy details of my epic travel plans.

050d1537b79aadd90eaf99eb5329e5e3
Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Where: USA, Guatemala, Belize & Mexico

Flying into Los Angeles, I’ll be spending a few nights adjusting to jetlag and just embracing being back in that fabulous city again. Then I’ll be flying to Antigua (Guatemela) to start a 16 day G Adventures tour called the Mayan Sun (click here for more tour info).

From Cancun, I’ll be flying to Mexico City where I’ll spend 3 weeks, before returning to LA and then back to Sydney for the start of Spring semester (and my last semester at university).

78ce927c60ab523983ebcc06b2fefd2f

What: G Adventures Tour & AIM Overseas Short Course

Mayan Sun: 16 days exploring the best of Central America! And it looks pretty freakin epic. Through Guatemala, Belize and ending up in Playa del Carmen in Mexico, it’s definitely going to be 2 and a half hectic, crazy and amazing weeks of adventure. Between Mayan ruins, pyramids, islands, rainforests, beaches and jungles…. I’m not sure if anything can really prepare me for this adventure. The map of the itinerary is below.

Screenshot 2017-04-04 10.54.21
Mayan Sun (Northbound)

AIM Overseas: If you’ve been following my journey for a while now, you would have known that last year I did an AIM Overseas short course in La Rochelle, France (if you missed it, you can catch up here). I’m back and doing another one. I’ll be studying Immigration, Human Rights & Mexican Society for 3 weeks in Mexico City. Over th course of 3 weeks, we’ll be exploring and learning about the history of migration patters and relations between USA and Mexico, different push and pull factors and looking at who are migrants (women, children, illegal immigrants, workers, care takers etc). I know this experience will be hugely confrontation, but I believe what I will learn and gain from this experience will shape and influence my career objectives and motivate me even more to change the world. Program info is here if you want to find out more.

564156d086f18e61d8fc40c8efe252ea
Mexico City. 

How: Government Funding and Graduation

I know that I’m super lucky to live and study in Australia, a country that supports my tertiary education and experience. I will receive an OS-Help Loan (a loan of $6500) that goes onto my HECS, along with the rest of my education fees and I only start paying off my student debt once I start earning over $50000 a year (freakin amazing system and I’m so grateful). This loan is designed to assist students with the costs of studying overseas (flights, program fees etc). If it wasn’t for this loan, I would not be able to afford to participate.

The degree I’m studying is International Studies/Communications, and as part of my degree, the university encourages us to travel and study abroad. Therefore, I’m able to receive credit towards my degree to help me graduate (pretty cool hey?!).

20d7f5c53052effa20391fe386e6faa7
Tikal, Guatemala

Over to you

So now I’ve told you my plans, now I need your advice, input and expertise. Have you been to any of these places? Do you have any tips, advice, words of wisdom? Any must see places? Must eat, drink, buy? Please let me know because I’d love to hear from you!

Well – there you go, my epic travel plans for July. I know it’s going to come around in the blink of an eye so watch this space!

Peace!

 

 

 

My Epic Travel Plans: JUNE – AUGUST

“I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.”

After putting some plans into action, I can finally reveal to you my incredibly exciting plans for the next few months! One of the best things about travel is planning. And one of the other good things is actually making these plans come to life! Now, it’s just a matter of time.

24th June: Sydney -> Manila (one night stopover)

25th June: Manila -> London (I’m back baby!)

26th June – 3rd July: LONDON! I’m talking visiting old friends, visiting my old house, my old local pub and my old stomping ground which is East London. I’m also talking visiting friends that I haven’t seen for years, and visiting places I didn’t get to go when I was there in 2013.

a23f7440e575e9bef89a58021e27097d.jpg
Hamstead Heath, London. One of my favourite places. Source

3rd July – 29th July – La Rochelle, France. So I’m spending a month in France doing an AIM Overseas Short Course. For 4 weeks I’ll be living, learning and breathing everything French. I’ll be studying French language every morning, and be doing cultural activities like tasting wine and cheese in the afternoon. This is where I’ll be for Bastille Day and my birthday! I’m a little nervous because I haven’t studied French for the past 6 months but I think there’s only one way to learn… and that’s do as the French do.

d3c94f93b59924e94829f87674d2a16f
The beautiful streets of La Rochelle! Source

29th July – 12th August: Roadtrip/Epic Adventures! I don’t have any locked in plans as of yet, but that’s always fun, just to wing it a little and see where I end up. I may go north to Rennes, Mont St Michel or Dinan. I may go south to Toulouse, Bayonne and end up in Spain in San Sebastian. Or I may go south east and go to Nice, Cannes and through to Italy. Wherever I go and whoever I’m with, I know I’ll have an awesome time!

7019af47a5f6b30314c169023b2fd284
San Sebastian, Spain… who knows where I’ll end up? Source

12th August – 18th August: ICELAND! I am beyond ridiculously excited to go back to Iceland! I was there in Winter of 2014 where I nearly froze to death. This year, I’ll be returning in Summer (where it’s still likely to be cold) but nonetheless… I’m determined to get out there and discover all that this unique country has to offer. I’m planning on visiting friends, chasing waterfalls and swimming in natural thermal hot springs! Watch out Iceland!

d586721bb17fd2130e8f92c2f38bd2d4.jpg
Akureyri, Iceland. Source

18th August —- MONTREAL! As of the 18th of August, I’ll be in Montreal. I’ll be here until late December as an exchange student at the University of Concordia! A part from having to organise where I’m going to be living during this time, everything is coming together nicely and I freakin’ cannot wait!

d0d84890cf33dd21dea970010317e36f.jpg
Cannot wait to explore French Canada! Source 

And from there, who knows? But hey, I think that’s the best part!

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Things To Do 50 Days Out From Your Flight

The days keep flying by and the numbers on your countdown app keep getting lower and lower. Then suddenly, there’s only 50 days until you fly out and you internally start to freak out a little bit. It can be overwhelming planning on overseas trip – there’s so many things to keep in mind and to consider. And you’re still trying to maintain uni, work your sanity… it’s tough work. Lucky for you, I’ve complied a list of 5 things you should be looking at doing as soon as possible if not now when you’re 50 days out from your flight.

1. Visas

Does the country you’re going to require you to have a visa? What sort of visa do you need? What are you eligible for? How do you get a visa? Do you need to apply online? Do you need to book an appointment? How much does it cost? How long does it take to issue? These are all questions you should be asking. If you’re as confused as I was by what visa you need, I’d recommend the following site Visa Link. This link does a quick check of the types of visas that Australian citizens need and how to apply for them. It’s simple and explains the different sorts of visas in an easy to understand way.

*Tip* Always apply for an online visa through the official government, embassy or consulate website to ensure you’re not paying for any hidden fees.

4f10a6aa8b314b22ebbc0015e242cbe5
Passport – Check! Visa – Check! Money – Check! Ready to Go! Source.

2. Currency 

What’s the currency conversion for the place I’m going to? Is it cheap or expensive? How much should I expect to pay for things? How much should I budget for each day? Numbeo is a great website that has all the answers! You can pick your home currency (AUD) and the city you’re going to and it will do the conversions and tell you how much the price of living is in those cities. It’s always a good idea to get some cash of the country you’re going to before you land – just in case!

*Tip* Check out how much a coffee costs! You can start your budget there!

3. Apps

Smartphones are not only great for all of their functions, but also the amazing apps available to travellers! One of my favourite guides is by World of Wanderlust here. While you’ve got access to your wifi network, start downloading the apps you’ll need which will make your life a million times easier once overseas! A must have for me is a currency conversion, language translation, tube/metro maps, uber and skyscanner!

*Tip* I always look up directions, tube/metro routes before I head out for a day while I still have wifi. Screenshot is your new best friend!

b4ad439306309391db3ceae066837892
Never get lost on the metro again with a metro app. Source

4. Money

How am I going to access money overseas? What fees will I have to pay? What if I lose my card overseas? What if my account is frozen? What if there’s an emergency and I need money quickly? I know a lot of these questions revolve around money, but let’s be honest, you’re not going to get very far without it. First things first, let your bank know you’re going overseas. That way, they won’t freeze your account when they see someone buying sangria in Spain. From there, talk to your bank about options for using your cards overseas. You might find they have a travel card you may be able to apply for. But don’t be afraid to look around, even if it means joining another bank. The last thin you want is for your hard earned cash to go towards transaction and conversion fees!

Personally, I use an ANZ travel card. It allows your to load several different currencies onto the same card at any one time. There’s very small fees on withdrawing cash and no fees on paying for items overseas (the dream). Every time you ‘re load’ your card, there is a fee, however it locks in the exchange rate from the day you purchase your card so it’s better than paying for conversion fees.

*Tip* See if you can apply for a travel card that comes with a back up card. The ANZ travel card comes with a back up one. Your primary one in your wallet, and your back up one in your suitcase. It’s always a piece of mind knowing you’ll always have access to money.

aa0ddc871c44483bd1528d2c22674cb0.jpg
What are you waiting for? Get moving. Source

5. Health

You can’t get the most out of your travels if you become sick. And being sick in a foreign country is not fun at all. Make sure you book in to your see your GP before you go to check if you need any vaccines. Make an appointment with your dentist to make sure you put your best smile forward. If using any contraception or any other prescription medication, ensure that you have enough to take with you and if you need an extra script or doctors note, pack that too. This also includes making sure you have travel insurance. It’s always good to know that you’ve got someone there for you if something does go wrong, and that you won’t be smacked with a big medical fee. The last thing you want is to be sick overseas so do all that you can at home before you jet off.

*Tip* Make sure that any prescription drugs your taking overseas are legal in the country you’re visiting.

Of course there’s plenty more to do, but you can do them closer to your fly out date. These are some of the things that can take a while to organise so get onto it now! Do you have any other suggestions? Any MUST DO’S 50 days out? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

What Happens When You Say YES: The Road To Paris

So yesterday afternoon, I finished my Summer Session class and was walking home. It was hot, sticky and a pretty uneventful day and definitely wasn’t looking forward to going home to study. I walked home via the travel agent. I kept walking… and then I thought ‘mmm I might just pop in and talk to someone about flights.’ And that’s when my few seconds of insanity helped me develop a plan and a dream.

Later this year I’ll be heading to La Rochelle in France to study French for a month (how freakin’ cool!). The program is set to start in July and with it already being mid January, I had a fleeting moment of thinking ‘wow, that’s only in a few months.’ So I looked up the key dates for my university, making sure exams would be finished and came up with a window of time to fly.

bd7aa1807df3885c1575fdabf8cd3670
La Rochelle, France. Source

I had been doing some research on Skyscanner and found a really cheap flight, Sydney > Singapore > Paris. The only issue is that it was with some random European budget airline company I’d never heard of and you had to book it through an even more random website. Something about flying internationally and random or strange websites just really doesn’t sit well with me.

So I spoke to my now travel agent and she did some researching. She found an extremely cheap flight to Paris. Sydney > Singapore > Helsinki > Paris. The only issue is, that I feel that stopovers are such an amazing way to make the most of a unique opportunity to experience a new place. If I did take this flight, I’d want to stop in both Singapore and Helsinki for at least 3 days and before you know it, I’d probably have already spent a few hundred dollars before even getting to Paris. My travel agent then did some more researching and found another great deal, Sydney > Doha > Paris (with no stopover fees). As she’s typing away at her computer, she asks… ‘would you want to stop over in Qatar?’ And I said ‘why not?’ 

86830533c9df79cbfcb81fc8b4790ada
Doha, Qatar. Source

I’m booking my travel through STA Travel.  With them, I was able to layby my flight with stopover, airport transfers and 2 nights accommodation for $99. Then you just need to make the full payment 10 weeks prior to departure. The best thing is, if you want to change your flight… you can!

So even though at the moment at the end of June I’ll be heading to Doha and then Paris… who knows if those plans will change!

I walked out of that travel agent with my heart pounding and my hands tingling. Finally, I have actually booked something to secure my spot jetsetting to Paris and exploring a new part of the world along the way. And that’s where saying YES can take you, Doha, Qatar. 

Have you been to Doha or Qatar? I don’t know anyone who’s been there before so any suggestions on what I have to see and do… please let me know in the comments below! Yours sincerely, a very excited traveller. 

5f20ce19e6fd7342e755d2a0778ee5bd
Doha, Qatar. Source