Re-inventing the stigma of Travelling Solo

Travelling alone. When you say it, alarm bells seem to sound in peoples minds thinking ‘haven’t you seen Taken?’ Yes I have seen Taken. Great movie. Other things that I get asked about are ‘aren’t you worried you’ll get pick-pocketed/raped/kidnapped/sold/murdered?’ Obviously yes, though not because I’m travelling alone. Just because there’s some messed up people out there, yes, even in Australia. Horrible things can happen to anyone in the world, and I want to make sure I’m out there, living my dream and enjoying myself whilst I can.

So, this is why I think travelling alone is great, and why it’s time to reinvent the stereotypes of young people (especially women) travelling alone.

You have to think for yourself.

I know it seems obvious, but when you’re used to asking your family/friends/google for help or directions, you can find yourself in some interesting situations. The most important thing when making decisions in foreign countries is, trusting your gut instinct, because more often than not, that’s the decision you should go with. Also thinking, would I tell my mum that? For the most part its probably no, and fair enough, we don’t want our mother’s to know every single thing about what we do. Maybe, would my future self/partner/significant other/best friend approve of this? I think this is an important question to ask because travelling alone can be associated with YOLO or living in the moment. And that’s fine, as long as you don’t wake up to find your passport, phone, money stolen and no recollection of the night before. Thinking for yourself is about making smart choices. You can still have exciting and memorable experiences from making smart decisions, you’re just eliminating unnecessary risk, and your safety overseas is definitely a priority.

Navigating foreign cities can be confusing, but when you nail it... it's an awesome feeling! http://www.chamberofcommerce.pl/map-of-krakow/map-of-krakow.jpg
Navigating foreign cities can be confusing, but when you nail it… it’s an awesome feeling!
http://www.chamberofcommerce.pl/map-of-krakow/map-of-krakow.jpg

 You have heaps of time to yourself.

Obviously. You’re travelling alone. On those 9 hour bus rides through the EuroTunnel, things can get a bit boring, however, I’ve had some of the best times on long bus and train rides. I remember being on a 5 hour bus ride from Galway to Derry/Londonderry in Ireland. I had my earphones in and my journal out. As I was reflecting on my adventures and staring out the window at the luscious green countryside, I was hit with this overwhelming internal feeling. It’s difficult to explain but everything just makes sense and you feel completely focused on who you are and what you want in life.

 You meet sooooo many people!

Because you are by yourself, you’re more likely to put yourself out there and start a conversation in a hostel room (because too much alone time can be, well, lonely). It just starts with a smile a ‘hello’ and ‘where are you from?’ The conversation just roles on from there. You begin to develop your own travelling ‘speech’ as I call it (but I’ll talk about that later).

The best thing about meeting other travellers is that they’re here to explore, just like you. Together, you might go grocery shopping together, on a day trip together or our to a bar together.

I remember on a pub crawl in Dublin (a lot of great things happened in Ireland) I met a great American guy who introduced me to his Danish friends. We partied all night long, explored Dublin the next day, exchanged details and a few months later, visited him in Paris!

I also remember on a walking tour of Budapest, I met three people from Romania but lived in Germany, but were visiting Budapest because the man and woman just got married and the other girl was the maid of honour who was doing her PhD in Budapest. You just meet some really interesting people. You may forget their names, but you’ll always have that one photo of them immortalized in your photo album, reminding you of how awesome some people are.

And the best part is… you don’t need to take any more awkward selfies, you have a new friend to help you out!

My Romanian/German friends overlooking the Danube River - Budapest, Hungary
My Romanian/German friends overlooking the Danube River – Budapest, Hungary

 You can go where you want to go.

When travelling in a group, with limited time in a city, different people want to see different sights or monuments, which can cause a bit of unnecessary conflict. But when you’re solo, you can hike up the top of Mt. Arthur in Edinburgh, or go to Musée D’Orsay instead of the Lourve in Paris or spend the morning at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, or you can chose to sleep in and catch up on sleep. It’s entirely up to you!

You tend not to spend as much money. (Yay saving money)

When you’re travelling by yourself, you’re completely OK with having 2minute noodles for lunch, dinner and maybe even breakfast sometimes. More money for those art galleries or pub crawls!

 You get an awesome workout!

Whether you’ve got a backpack or suitcase, you’re going to have a lot of luggage. Whilst you may be getting callouses on your hands and you feel like you can’t take one more step up those long cobblestone paths, think of the awesome workout you’re getting! You don’t need to spend any money on a gym because you’ve got no one to help you out with your luggage. However, when dealing with train station steps, it can be quite difficult. When I was carrying suitcases through on the Tube, people always offer to help with your luggage. Poor things. Don’t know what they’re getting themselves in for when they pick it up. Or if you’re tank enough by now, you can carry it yourself.

And not to forget all the walking you do over cities! I wish I carried a pedometer with me sometimes because cities like London and Paris which are HUGE… you would definitely rack up heaps of kilometres.

Conquering Arthur's Seat
Conquering Arthur’s Seat – Edinburgh, Scotland

 Your confidence and ‘I can do anything’ attitude multiplies by a million.

You can navigate through London’s Tube system and order food in French and can understand what the waiter says (in French), you feel on top of the world! And rightfully so, all the skills you’ve learnt over your travels are paying off and things are running smoothly.

I think we should carry this awesome mindset beyond our travels and into our everyday lives. Imagine if you’re swamped by uni work (OK I don’t have to imagine it, that’s my reality right now), and you just think, ‘pft, if I can navigate the streets of Amsterdam at night, I can do this 2000 word essay.’ Yes, being in Amsterdam is way cooler than writing an essay on globalization, but that mindset can help you achieve anything you want! Take advantage of it!

 Not convinced yet?

I’ve had some amazing holidays with my friends and they’ve been absolutely incredible! However, when you’re new to a country or your friend is saving their money, I totally encourage you to jet set alone!

I promise it will be one of the most scary, exciting, nerve racking, limit pushing, incredible experiences of your life!

Any questions/comments/queries please let me know!

xxx

A

 

 

I’ve Been (Nearly) Everywhere Man!

These are just some places I’ve been in the world. I still have many more continents, countries and cities to explore, but this is what I’ve done so far!

Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel to keep up to date with my adventures.

Australia

Everywhere! Except Tasmania which is definitely on my list of places to go!

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My beautiful home town of Port Stephens

 Austria

Innsbruck // Salzburg // Hopfgarten (2013)

Innsbruck Spanish Castle, Austria
A Winter Wonderland in Innsbruck, Austria

Belize

San Ignacio // Caye Caulker

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Snorkelling the Barrier Reef in Caye Caulker

Canada

Montréal // Toronto // Québec City (2016)

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View of Montreal from Mont-Royal

 China

Shanghai (2013)

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Stunning Shanghai. Welcome to the future

 Czech Republic

Prague (where I nearly died from alcohol poisoning) (2013)

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Rooftops of Prague

 England

London // Brighton // Leeds // York // Whitby // Harrogate //

LONDON 2016

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London… my home away from home

 France

Paris, Paris (again), Paris (again for my birthday!) (2013) //

PARIS 2016 (I’ve been there FIVE times because I love it so much!)

La Rochelle // Bordeaux (2016)

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La Rochelle. The cutest little place you’ve ever seen

 Germany

Munich // Dachau (2013)

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Sombering moment at Dachau concentration camp.

 Greece

Zakynthos (Zante) (2013)

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Banana beach! Totally worth the dangerous motorbike ride there

Guatemala

Antigua // Lake Atitlan // Rio Dulce // Flores // Tikal

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The colourful streets of Antigua

 Hungary

Budapest (2013)

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Thermal pools in Budapest

 Iceland

Reykjavik // Golden Circle(tour) (2013) //

Westman Islands // ROAD TRIP (2016)

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Surrounded by mountains on the Westman Islands

 Italy

Venice // Rome // Naples // Pompeii (2013)

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The beautiful canals of Venice

 Ireland

Dublin // Cork // Galway // Derry/Londonderry (whatever you prefer to call it) // Belfast (2013)

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Irish coastline near the Giant’s Causeway.

Mexico

Mahaual // Mexico City

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New Zealand

Palmerston North // Wellington // Lake Taupo // Rotarua // Tauranga // Auckland // Hamilton // Christchurch // Queenstown // (2010)

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Mud baths in Rotarua, New Zealand

 Netherlands

Amsterdam (2013)

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Tulips in Amsterdam

 Norway

Oslo (Ok I didn’t really go to Norway, however I did spend a lovely 9 hours in its small airport overnight, freezing my ass off, trying to sleep and drinking coffee/eating baguettes only to find out that because of the exchange rate, paid 15pounds for a baguette! It’s also stamped in my passport. So even though I don’t really consider that I’ve been to Norway, I did have an interesting experience there so I still count it). (2013)

Philippines

Manila 

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The insane traffic of Manila

Poland

Krakow (2013)

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Celebrating NYE in Krakow

 Scotland

Edinburgh // St. Andrews // Oban // Isle of Skye // Inverness // Aberdeen // Dundee (2013)

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Hiking in the Scottish Highlands

Spain

San Sebastian // Barcelona (2016)

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Soaking up the sun in San Sebastian

United States

Washington D.C // Boston // New York City // San Francisco // Pacific Coast Highway // Los Angeles // Hawaii

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Capitol Hill before the world went crazy and voted for Trump

10 Reasons You Should Add Scotland To Your Itinerary Now

Isle Of Skye - Scotland
Isle Of Skye – Scotland

Scotland. A wild, rugged country. Where red heads roam free and it’s perfectly acceptable to say Aye and Wee. On my travels, many people told me about how I should go to Ireland, ‘it’s so green, the accent is so sexy, they know how to party, there’s so much history…’ and yes that is true… but how many people have you heard say ‘YOU MUST GO TO SCOTLAND!’ Well here I am telling you this! SCOTLAND IS WHERE IT’S AT!

These are the places I visited

-Edinburgh

-St. Andrews

-Inverness

-Isle of Skye

-Oban

-Aberdeen

-Dundee

1 – They have the sexiest accent! Seriously, any Scottish men out there give me a call. Whilst you might not always understand what they’re saying, it’s ok, you can just stare into their eyes and nod your head. The people are so so friendly. Unlike the snobbish Londoners, the Scots know how to make you feel welcome. When I first arrived off the train in Edinburgh, a gentleman helped me find my hostel and carry my bag without being creepy! Yay. You can approach almost anyone in the street and they’ll be more than happy to help you out with directions, translations or just to say hello.

Skyline of Edinburgh
Skyline of Edinburgh

2 – Edinburgh is the coolest capital city ever! The windy roads, cobblestone streets, open green spaces, clean crisp air, best and cheap nightlife, amazing pubs and a castle in the middle of the city… it has everything you could ever want out of a city! And it’s relatively small, so you can explore the city by foot. Be sure to make the climb up to Arthur’s Seat to get a breath of fresh air and a spectacular view over the city.

Conquering Arthur's Seat
Conquering Arthur’s Seat

3 – Scotland has so many castles! Like 3000 (most are complete ruins but still spectacular). So if you’re into your knights in shining armour, kingdoms and castle walls, look no further than Scotland. For the full list of castles visit http://www.scotland.com/castles/ A lot of the castles are free, so you can climb in and around them and capture some wicked photos.

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4- Harry Potter was written and filmed here! Enough said really.

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5 – The Isle of Skye is one of the most majestical places on Earth. Basically untouched by man, you can completely immerse yourself in the beautiful countryside!

Fairy Cirlces - Isle of Skye
Fairy Cirlces – Isle of Skye

6 – You can spend hours by Loch Ness, looking for Nessy! You can enjoy a beer or whisky by the lake and watch the sun set whilst having your camera by your side. If you’re game enough, you can jump into the nearly freezing water, unfortunately I wasn’t game enough, but what a great story to tell.

Looking for Nessy - Loch Ness
Looking for Nessy – Loch Ness

7 – The landscape is completely surreal. Moutains, rivers, valleys, lakes with small winding roads to take it all in.

Conquering a hike through a valley
Conquering a hike through a valley

8- It snows! For all of us Australians that have never seen snow before, it’s quite a remarkable experience. Scotland has ski fields and beautiful snow capped mountains, and in the midst of winter, snow will creep down to the lowlands into the bigger towns and cities where you can throw snowballs and make snowmen.

Enjoying the snow maybe a little too much
Enjoying the snow maybe a little too much

9 – It has beautiful beaches and coastal areas. Perhaps, not in winter, however when it starts to heat up, you can flock to the sandy beaches. My favourite was in St. Andrews where you can see the ruins of a cathederal, castle and run your feet through the sand.

Crystal clear waters, surrounded by mountains
Crystal clear waters, surrounded by mountains

10 – IT’S JUST DAMN BEAUTIFUL!

Wee cottage in the woods
Wee cottage in the woods

I hope this has inspired you to add Scotland to your itinerary for your next adventure!

Ciao Lads and Lass’

 

My Favourite Place In London : The Heron Tower

London oh London. You are not just another city, but your own country, your own ecosystem, buzzing with people, music, sound, buses, cars, towers, bridges and foxes. Last year, I was lucky enough to call London home. East London, so that makes me one tough girl. Whether it was getting to work, meeting friends, having a night out or exploring the city, there’s a hidden gem around every corner… you just need to know where to look.

So these little segments will be about the little nooks and crannys that don’t quite make it into the Lonely Planet books, but are definitely worth the detour.

Best view in London
Best view in London- Sushi Samba – Heron Tower

If you want to get the best view in London, don’t wait in line for hours and waste your money to go on the London Eye… instead take advantage of this free lookout and one of the best bars in London. Located right outside Liverpool St Tube Station (Central, Hammersmith & City, Circle Line), the Heron Tower is the big one down and on the right (you really can’t miss it).

Sunsetting over London - http://www.timeout.com/london/bars-pubs/sushisamba-bar
Sunsetting over London – http://www.timeout.com/london/bars-pubs/sushisamba-bar

It is quite a fancy place so dress to impress.

There’s always a guy on the door by the lift (very fancy) and just say you’re going up for a drink. You enter a glass lift and press 38. If you’re terrified of heights, I strongly suggest closing your eyes. You’re whisked up ever so quickly watching the world disappear beneath your feet. It’s hard to resist a nervous laugh. Warning right now… THE DRINKS ARE EXPENSIVE. 2 glasses of wine as pictured above will set you back about 15pounds! But on a good occasion (like your best friends 21st) there’s nothing better.

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You can sit by the window on intimate little stools and slowly sip your wine or outside there is a beautiful viewing platform (which overlooks the suburbs) with a fire pit to keep you warm at night and a large tree dotted in gorgeous fairy lights, the perfect place to lay back and lose yourself somewhere on the horizon.

On a clear day, you can see the entire city (except for the Chard). St Pauls Cathederal, the Thames, The Gherkin and millions of little ants as you look 38 stories below. By night, it is even more spectacular as you see the city burst to life with red, yellow and orange hues igniting the bustling city.

The Gherkin lit up at night
The Gherkin lit up at night

This is such a fancy, private and beautiful place to bring all of your friends that are new to London, you’re guaranteed to see chins hit the floor.

If (like me) you’re too poor to buy drinks up there, after you check out the amazing view, Shoreditch and Brick Lane are just around the corner, waiting to be discovered.

Ciao

1 New Friend Request

‘Hey, yea I’m from (insert country here).’
‘Oh really? I want to go there one day.’
‘Ah well add me and when you come hit me up.

I’ve had this conversation so many times. And my facebook friends keep growing in number as you meet people from everywhere across the globe. There are so many places that I do wish to visit in the world and yes if you’ll let me crash on your lounge and take me out to your favourite bar, let’s do it. However, I just recently got to thinking about all the people you meet through your travels, you might have an amazing time with them, and you may never see them again, but you’ll always see their status updates and keep up to date on their life.

My Romanian/German friends overlooking the Danube River - Budapest, Hungary
My Romanian/German friends overlooking the Danube River – Budapest, Hungary

 Twenty years ago, you would’ve had a great time out with some cool people, went your separate ways, never saw them again, and they may cross your mind a few years later as you reminisce.
But now due to facebook, a night out turns into a virtual connection lasting a lifetime.
And it gets me thinking about what it really means to be someone’s friend, beyond a friendship request.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love scrolling down my news feed and seeing things in all different languages, with pictures from the snow, mountains or beaches. And I love the fact that at some point in our two very different lives, our paths crossed, we smiled at each other and formed a bond. The unfortunate thing really is, I still know everything that’s happening to you in your life, but I genuinely don’t know if I’ll ever see you again. And you’ll see what’s happening in this person’s life for years to come.
So how do you cut people out of your life now? You really can’t. Whereas 20 years ago, if you outgrew someone, that was it. But now it’s all so personal and people take great offence to being blocked or deleted. Life definitely needs those buttons to filter out those people who are no good for you, but does it have to be so public? It’s such a relief when you do realise that you don’t need certain people in your life and you can cut them out, but until then your friend requests keep rolling in.

The coolest roomates you could ask for in a hostel, French, Slovenian, American and German friends - Edinburgh, Scotland
The coolest roomates you could ask for in a hostel, French, Slovenian, American and German friends – Edinburgh, Scotland

Some of my closest friends that I have the fondest memories with , are people that you share intimate moments with. Whether it’s telling them your secrets, going on an adventure together, staying up until 3am just talking about nothing in particular, calling them when you’re in trouble and just someone to hug and who makes you feel at home. And it’s just a bonus if you can crash on their lounge when you go traveling to their home country. But it’s those relationships that last beyond that one night out, you message them, have your little inside jokes, have numerous photos with them and you’re already planning when you can see eachother again. You don’t necessarily have to talk everyday or skype once a week, but when you do talk, it’s like it was yesterday. And when you talk, you’re not telling them everything you’ve done for the past month, instead just having a general conversation filled with laughter that doesn’t really make sense.

My American friends at the Cliffs of Moher - Ireland
My American friends at the Cliffs of Moher – Ireland

It’s crazy how social media has changed friendships especially within the travel community, because back in the day if you really wanted to keep in touch with someone special, you would get their home address, print off some pictures, write a letter and send it across the world which could take weeks. But now everything is instantaneous. Night out. Take some photos. Have a good chat. Discuss future travel plans. ‘Oh add me.’ And done, you’re now friends for life, where that friendship once wouldn’t have exceeded that night.

And I’m not saying in any way that this is a bad thing at all, it’s fantastic. 20 years ago it would’ve been impossible to have pen pals from Brazil, America, Canada, Scotland, France, Sweden, China… all at the same time. I am so thankful for all the incredible people I’ve met in my travels from all across the world, and I probably follow you on facebook, Instagram or twitter. I wish you all of the best in your lives and really do hope I get to crash on your lounge at some point and my offer is always there, if you’re ever in Australia, please do come a visit. Until then keep the status updates, snapchats, tweets and posts coming.

Ciao

p.s (everyone in these photos are truly incredible! we shared some amazing times together and these photos are just a small reminder of the memories i’ll carry with my for life).

Being a Stylish and Practical Traveller

Now that you’ve decided if you want to take a suitcase or backpack overseas on your big adventure, it’s time to pack it! These items and words of advice are things that I wish people told me to take/not to take, so I hope that this is helpful. *Also note that this is more for people traveling in winter for up to 3 months compared to people moving overseas to live. Also, things you pack will greatly depend on what time of the year you’re going travelling, but with European summers/winters, they’re never quite predictable.*

Check out this youtube video of easy steps to pack your bag

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_igdkwII5yU&list=UU7xSgl9D3Mnw1xzwKh8yVYA

As you’re packing, lay everything out neatly on your bed so that you can visualise everything before you shove it into your bag.

Essentials

1 – Passport – You’re not going to get very far without it

2 – Bank Cards – Register them with your bank to inform them you’ll be overseas

3 – Money – Have some local currency on you when you land

4 – Travel Insurance – You just never know what life is going to throw at you

5 – Medication – Pack any medicine you may need and check that they comply with laws of the country you’re entering. It’s not a bad idea to have a little first aid kit with you either. With some bandaids, antiseptic cream, panadol, nurofen and cold and flu tablets. Don’t worry about taking anti-diarrhoea or anti-nausea tablets because most European countries have high standards of food preparation and water quality. If you’re unfortunate enough to catch something bad, speak to the hostel staff immediately so they can assist you.

Technology

1 – Phone – I took my iPhone 5 and it was literally my life, if you take a smart phone, then I wouldn’t recommend taking a laptop. It’ll just be heavy in your bag and you run the risk of losing it or getting it stolen

2 – Camera – You want a good little camera to document your trip and that you can just put in your pocket. Unless you’re a professional photographer, a massive Canon SLR will just be chunky and in the way.

3 – Chargers – Make sure you have the chargers to all of your electronic devices!

4 – Adaptors – Make sure you have an AU-EU or AU-UK adaptor before you go so you can charge your phone as soon as your check in

packed-suitcase

In the Bag

1 – 1 pair of boots – I took my black Doc Martens and man they go with absolutely everything!

2- 1 big, warm, long coat – you will be wearing this everyday, so make sure its warm and you love it! (Opt for navy or black,  it’s practical but also hides dirt/marks)

My favourite Oasis coat, jeans and Docs - Saint Andrews, Scotland
My favourite Oasis coat, jeans and Docs – Saint Andrews, Scotland

3 – 2 pairs of thermals – I took a thermal singlet (which I legit wore every day) a long sleeve thermal for those extra cold days, and 2 pairs of thermal tights (I also wore them everyday)

4 – Your swimmers – It may be winter and snowing outside, but you never know where you’re going to end up

5 – Socks and Undies – This is where you thanks Mum for the mundane presents on your birthday. Take enough underwear to last you 2 weeks because you don’t know when you’ll get to do your washing next. Take 2 pairs of thermal, fluffy socks and 3 pairs of little ankle socks (whenever I went out in freezing conditions, I sometimes wore 2 or 3 pairs of socks at once). Also girls, you really don’t need that many bras. Personally, I’d take 3, max! They just take up room.

6 – 3 T-shirts – you can wear these all the time, they’re comfy and practical

7 – 1 pair of jeans – black of denim will go with everything. If you’ve got a bit more room you can pack 2 paris but you can definitely get by just on 1.

8 – 1 or 2 going out outfits – for girls this is easy, pack 2 pretty/sexy dresses for when you hit up the town. Boys, just a nice pair of trousers, chinos, and a dress shirt so you can pull all the ladies.

9- Gloves/Beanies/Hats/Scarves – Invest in 1 good scarf, 1 pair of warm and water proof gloves (i own beautiful leather ones) and 1 cool beanie that will go with most things. Keep these in a separate part of your bag because you’ll be accessing these all the time.

My other gorgeous Forever New coat, jeans, Docs, favourite scarf and beanie that I wore everywhere! - Krakow, Poland
My other gorgeous Forever New coat, jeans, Docs, favourite scarf and beanie that I wore everywhere! – Krakow, Poland

10 – Thongs – and for you non-Australians, I mean ‘flip-flops.’ If you’re staying in hostels, you want to be wearing thongs in those showers. Because you have no idea what’s happened there before… ewww.

11 – Toiletries – Have a toiletries bag to keep everything together. You’ll need shampoo/conditioner (you can buy bottles where they’re 2 in 1), face wash, face wipes, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, moisturiser, make-up for girls and anything else you use in the shower on a regular basis.

12 – A diary – I kept a diary whilst overseas and it’s my favourite thing to do, read back over it and reminisce about my adventures.

13 – A friendly attitude and open mind – you’re going to meet so many incredible people from every corner of this globe. Ask questions, go out, talk, adventure, get lost and learn along the way. Open your mind and you never know what you might discover next.

Ciao