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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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?!).

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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!

 

 

 

How to be TECH SAVVY whilst travelling

Let’s be honest, in this day and age, if you didn’t get a photo of it, did it even happen? OK I’m totally joking. Well kind of. There’s nothing I love more than capturing a moment. With people, of an event, a sunrise, a sunset… anything. And not just capturing a moment, but sometimes, you ‘get by with a little help from technology.’ So here’s the list of things I’m taking overseas with me.

GO PRO HERO+

I bought this about a month ago with a collection of gift vouchers I’d been saving for a rainy day. Finally I took the plunge and bought my beautiful GO PRO. I’m genuinely surprised by just how good this little thing is. The video and photo quality is amazing, it’s even more amazing under water, and the sound quality is actually pretty good. My GOPRO actually motivates me to get out and do fun and adventurous things.

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GO PRO HERO +

iPhone 6S

You always need a phone with you. So naturally, I’ll be taking the one I already own. I’ve had a Lifeproof case for the past 6 months and I don’t know what I would do without it. It’s a huge piece of mind knowing that if you drop it or spill some liquid, your phone is well protected. The iPhone 6S also takes pretty damn good photos and videos (in fact, I’m quite surprised with the video quality). I love the slow-mo and timelapse option as well. Plus – it’s always good to be able to call, text, gram on the go.

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iPhone 6S with a Lifeproof case

Power adapters

You’re not going to get far at all without power adapters. Personally I prefer the individual adapters. I’ve had friends in the past deal with faulty and very dodgy universal adapters

Power board

I always take a power board with me. It saves being stuck charging one thing at a time because you only have one adaptor. Taking a power board is a simple and effective way to make sure you’ve satisfied all of your charging needs.

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Adapters, pocket scales, hard drive and power pack

Chargers galore

Check, check and double check you’ve got all of your chargers. Handy tip: I usually keep all of my chargers in a cotton draw string bag. It keeps them all together. There’s nothing worse than losing a part of your charger. I’m speaking from experience so trust me on this one.

Gorilla Pod

I first discovered this little beauty when my sister bought one for her adventures overseas last year. So I just knew I had to get one myself. This one is compatible for any camera that you screw on to a tripod stand. It’s also got a tripod to GOPRO piece which means you can use it for your SLR then quickly switch over to using it for your GOPRO. Pretty fancy.

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Power pack

I even take this when I know I’m going to be out all day in Sydney. Sometimes when you’re Snapchatting, Instagramming and Facebooking, it chews up your battery faster than you down an espresso. Making sure you bring a fully charger power pack in your day pack will make sure you get to gram til your hearts content.

Mac Book Air

I don’t normally take my laptop away with me, but because I’m going on exchange and will be attending university overseas, it’s a no brainer. Plus, if I want to keep up with the blogging and vlogging, it’s going to be pretty damn handy.

CANON Powershot G7X Mark II

La piece de resistance…. My beautiful little Canon G7X. I’m kind of in love! I chose this camera because of its compact size, built in wifi, manual modes to experiment with and flip screen, perfect for snapping a quick selfie or vlogging. I’m still figuring out how to use it exactly, but I’ll get there – watch out Instagram… I’m coming for you.

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But here comes the savvy part;

The most important thing to remember is that whatever you take away with you, you need to be prepared to lose. As much as it would suck if I lost something or had something stolen (not my Canon – nope – thieves, you keep your hands off), at the end of the day, they’re all replaceable. What you can’t put a price on is your happiness, health and safety.

Make sure you’ve got insurance and take photos of your receipts and serial numbers.

Be smart with your tech. There’s no need to carry around a big flashy camera through the backstreets of a city, showing it off.

If you ask someone to take your picture, ask someone who has a similar camera to you. It’s much easier and you’re more likely to get a better photo. Trust me, it’s extremely difficult trying to explain how to take a photo in another language.

Et voila – that’s my list of tech things I’m taking with me on my trip. Do you have any savvy tips and tricks? Is there something that you HAVE to pack with you on your trip? Let me know in the comments below. 

 

 

 

 

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: MAY

My my my… May has been FULL ON! Thinking back on the month that has been, I can’t believe how much I’ve managed to squeeze into 31 days! And it’s crazy to think that in *whispers* 25 days… I’m jetting off on my epic adventure. Whilst I’m currently trying to reframe from ripping my hair out (I’ve got 3 x 40% assignments due in the next few days), I’m also getting ridiculously excited for my trip. It’s served as a great motivational tool to get me through these past few weeks of intense uni work. So… it’s that time again when I recap on my favourite things for this month!

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Testing out the new GOPRO

I bought a GOPRO

The time came and I finally bought a GOPRO! And OMG I’m in LOVE! Now I’m sure you can read a million reviews about GOPROS online but honestly – I just absolutely love it! It’s small, takes amazing quality photos and videos and motivates you to get out there and take some awesome footage! You can check out a little edit I’ve thrown together about my roadtrip.

ROADTRIP!

Speaking of roadtrip (and if you check out the video above) you can see that I had a pretty good time! I work as a student rep at uni and I was lucky enough to be sent away for a week to represent the uni at various careers markets. Whilst a lot of hard work goes in to these trips, it’s always great when you get a chance to unwind at the beach, go for an adventure or explore a new place after a long day at work.

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Showing off at Nobby’s Beach, Newcastle

Lunch with my Grandparents and Family

Because I live about 5hours away from home, I don’t make it home as often as I’d like. And when I do it’s only for such a short amount of time. So I was absolutely ecstatic when my Grandparents called me saying they would be in Wollongong and wanted to have lunch with me. I always love catching up with my family. I’m constantly inspired and reminded of how lucky I am to have such a supportive family who loves and encourages me.

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Lunch with my beautiful grandparents

Uni Work

I know this is ridiculously nerdy, but I’ve really been engaged with a lot of my coursework for the past few weeks. I recently wrote an essay about gender inequality in the work force which I was ridiculously passionate about. At the moment I’m half way through making a short video about empowerment and nudity, again, another topic I find really engaging and important. That’s one of the best things about my degree, it’s not just ‘you have to learn this’ but it’s ‘I want to know more about this…’ 

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 Tunes

I think I’ve been driving my housemates absolutely crazy with how much I’ve played this song lately! I have no idea how I came across this amazing tune but I’m definitely not letting it go anytime soon!

Flume you’ve done it again! Providing the goods to pump us up and sing our little hearts out! This song was the soundtrack to my roadtrip, so every time I hear it, I just think adventure!

And just as an added bonus, this is another fave of mine from May. Again, I somehow stumbled across this one on a late night prowl through Youtube and dayum I’m grateful. This song is perfect when you’re winding down after a long day at work and you’ve got a cup of tea in hand!

Films

I don’t usually include films in my ‘favourites’ list – partly because I usually don’t have enough time to watch them but Oh My God this movie is such a laugh! I’m not sure if it’s because it’s too relatable, laugh out loud worthy or the combination of amazing actors but dayum, this is an absolute MUST for anyone trying to figure out how to be single. 

Quote

A quote I’ve totally been trying to live by this month is the following.. ‘may your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears’ – Nelson Mandela. With all of my adventures just around the corner, I’ve been making some awesome plans and I’m soooooo damn excited. Hopes don’t come without fears, and of course it’s only natural to be nervous, but that’s what life is built on!

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Well, June, you’re probably going to disappear way too quickly, so I’m looking forward to smashing out uni and enjoying the time I have left here in Australia before I jet off! I hope your month has been just as wonderful and that June welcomes you kindly.

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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?’ 

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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. 

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Doha, Qatar. Source