Erin Reki Receives Liebster Award!

Oh my gosh, you guys… YOU GUYS!*
Come look at this!

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I got nominated for an award by this awesome blog This Big Wild World!

I actually got awarded this back in July.  JULY!

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That is how completely and utterly swamped I’ve been with my little jaunt around bits of Europe. I’d just like to say thank you a million times over to This Big Wild World for nominating me and her kind words about my blog. Here’s what she wrote;

Erin Reki is a blog with the subtitle “Travel. Art. Nonsense.” I love the quirkiness of this blog. It is more than just a travel blog, she shares her cartoons, art and advice all inspired by her travels. If you’re a creative mind, a traveller, or looking for something unique, I highly recommend this blog!

To return the favour here is what I think about This Big Wild World and why you should check it out.

 This Big Wild World follows the stories of a soulful 30 something traveller with a kind heart and big lens. Her stories are inspiring yet informative and her photographs are beautiful. Her personality shines through a lot of her writing and I love her openness, honesty and appreciation for what she already has in life.
In this regards she replaces  The Bucket List with The Nectar List and after reading the philosophy behind it, you’ll want to do the same. It encourages you to reflect on the moments or experiences that have changed your life or you as a person. The things that have affected you most.
Instead of looking forward to what you want to do, you’re looking back appreciating what you’ve already had. A quick summary of your life. A chance to be grateful. Congratulations you made it this far and nothing has killed you yet! That’s got to be good! I love this idea and may very well right one of my own one day soon.

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Now for those of you that don’t know the Liebster Award is an internet based award given by bloggers to other bloggers. It is given to bloggers with under 200 followers to encourage growth and spread support. You are given questions to answer and in return you must pay it forward to other bloggers and ask them questions.
The official rules of the accepting can be found on The Global Aussie.

In the new rules for 2017 there is an optional 10 random facts part and I’m going to include the 10 random facts about myself  because well…. I want to.

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  1. I have a black belt in junior ju-jitsu and know how to handle weapons. Watch yo’self!
  2. I learnt how to ride a bike in Singapore at age 24. I know this sounds lame but I used skateboards growing up, not bikes.
  3. I have a Charmander tattoo (that’s Pokemon guys) to match my brothers Squirtle tattoo because we are cool like that.
  4. I prefer to watch animated film in comparison to films with real people in them.
  5. I’m nervous around dogs so I pretend to ignore them, but I do love them. It’s a mixed emotion. I adore cats though. I’m trying to say I’m a cat person, but dogs are nice too.
  6. I’m currently a 32FF UK bra size and yes I want a goddam reduction. My poor back hates me.
  7. I’m a 9gagger but yeah I do get laid and yeah I’m a girl and yeah I did just assume my gender.
  8. I’m 5’1, and wish I could carry a fold up step everywhere with me.
  9. I left home just a few months after turning 16. I lived at various friends’ houses until the local council gave me an apartment.
  10. I put a spoon in a microwave once.

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Here are the questions asked by This Big Wild World and my best attempt at answering.

Where do you call home?

Wherever I lay my head. Which is usually on Sean. Home is an odd concept to me.

But if the underlying meaning of this question is to find out where I originate from that would be England, specifically the north, even more specifically Sheffield in South Yorkshire. You know, where Yorkshire puddings are made, the Arctic Monkeys play every hour and Sean Bean is king.

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What was the last random act of kindness you did? (HINT: If you can’t think of one, do something before you write your post)

I restrained myself from screaming and crying on the last flight I was on (it was that bad and I was cranky) and the child in from was doing enough for the both of us. I thought I’d spare the other passengers the extra drama, that’s kindness right? Okay, I’m gonna go donate some of my stuff now.

What are you most thankful for?

My life. In general. I guess. I dunno. Right now? Like right this minute? Probably this white hot chocolate drink, I’m thankful for its hot creamy tastiness on this cold, so cold night. I came to Australia for the heat! What’s with this cold front?! Let’s turn up the heat and get on with Aussie summer please.

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What are you currently working to improve for yourself or your blog?

Oh my my my. Sooooo many things. Blog wise I’m trying to improve my writing, reading about coding, trying to improve my drawing and painting. I currently (and for the part year) have been blogging without a laptop or pc, I do this all on my phone. It’s painfully slow and I’m limited to what I can do.  I’m saving up for a computer right now.
A little bit louder for the people in the back….
I DON’T HAVE A COMPUTER!!!! I HAVE TO BLOG AND DO ALL THIS ON. MY. PHONE!!!!!!

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What advice would you give someone wanting to start a blog?

Spare a thought for your boyfriend or girlfriend, friends and family. They will have to listen to you if you constantly jibber jabber on about your blog.

Oh and if you’re like me and start swearing like a sailor when you can’t get something to work (I accidentally deleted a whole blog post once) just mind your language around small children. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.

NOW IT’S MY TURN TO PAY IT FORWARD! 

My nominees are:

  1. Morrisons Enroute
    An amazing Canadian power couple that shares advice about traveling as a unit. The highs, the lows and everything in between.  If anyone has ever traveled with their other half then this blog is for you!
  2. Chasing Krista
    Her photographs are so beautiful and website is extremely well laid out. She’s gone off the beaten track a few times with some weird and wonderful experiences and locations most other travelers didn’t know existed. Well worth a nosy!
  3. Lori World Hapa
    Lori is incredibly smart, thoughtful and kind, she has lived in interesting life and has some great stories to tell. Her blog comprises of telling these stories and although there aren’t many they are definitely worth the read!
  4. She Goes Global
    She has a beautiful writing style and is able to make the unrelatable well…relatable. It’s humble, helpful and her positivity and honesty make this blog one I can’t stop reading.
  5. The Rambling Mermaid
    Scuba drive enthusiast with some serious travel locations under her belt. There’s also some very interesting thought provoking reads going on up in here.
  6. Art Teach Travel
    A teacher, an artist, a traveler. I can relate to all three! Although I only do two of them now. Quite funny too in the way that she writes. Teachers, artists and travellers should stop here.
  7. Joy Makon
    Absolutely gorgeous watercolour paintings! You need to check this on out whether you like art or not (who doesn’t like art? Seriously?) I’d say more but I think I’d go into a fit of jealous rage.

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My 5 questions for them are;

1) What is the lowest (and potentially funniest and most embarrassing) moment you’ve had whilst travelling?

2) Can you briefly describe a meaningful experience with a person you met traveling and know you might never see again?

3) Have you ever been on the receiving end of negative criticism  (possibly from friends and family) about your lifestyle? If so, how did you react?

4) What have you done this year so far that you are most proud of? Travel related or not.

5) How do you manage your stuff storage-wise when you travel? Asking for a friend.

If you have been nominated I look forward to hearing back from you and reading your posts. Please share the love. Many people believe the Liebster award is similar to a chain email/letter and sure it shares similarities but the underlining idea is to help promote each others’ blogs.

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Thank you for the graphic and all the information The Global Aussie.

And another final thank you to This Big Wild World.

*P.s I call a collective group of people ‘guys’ and it has nothing to do with gender but more my own inability to change the dialect in which I speak.

​P.p.s Sorry not sorry for the unruly amount of gifs in this post. I don’t usually do it. But today got away from me.

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When you Want to Turn your Passion into a Full Time Thingy

“True guilt is guilt at the obligation one owes to oneself to be oneself. False guilt is guilt felt at not being what other people feel one ought to be or assume that one is.” – R.D. Laing

Hello again! Hope you’re all doing fantastic!
Happy, healthy, aware that Christmas is nearly on the way…. all that jazz!

I’ve been away from blogging for a while because I needed time to concentrate on getting my travels well organised. It’s been a hectic past three/four months.

Just to quickly fill you in (lol) we left our jobs at the grain plant at the end of May and have since;

  • travelled down the Australian East Coast with my little sister and her boyfriend,
  • walked part of the Great Wall of China,
  • flew back to the UK where I was Maid Of Honour at a wedding in the Derbyshire countryside,
  • had a trip to Barcelona,
  • attended a funeral in Sheffield,
  • worked at Latitude Festival in Suffolk,
  • stayed with friends just outside of Rome,
  • flew over to Northern Ireland to attend a wedding in the South,
  • went on a short city break in Amsterdam where we went to Mysteryland festival (Craig Daaavid),
  • did a mini tour of Singapore

and… now we’re back home in Moree back on the grain farm for the next three months until it’s off to New Zealand! Phew! (oh and I passed my driving theory test.)

Several months ago I was kinda complaining I was homesick …well, not anymore.

I did make some new friends though and got to see some old ones though.

Anywho this post is titled ‘When you want to turn your passion into a full time thingy?’ So we’ll jog on with that!

MAKE TIME FOR IT (Whatever it is)
My point of mentioning what I’ve been up to over the summer other than to inform friends and family is that despite what all those overly optimistic books and sites say about turning your passion into a career… is that life does get in the way sometimes. Sometimes necessary life stuff, sometimes fun life stuff.  Either way an incredibly positive colleague told me you have to make time for what you want.

So if you want something, try and make time for it! I’ve set aside mornings to draw more cartoons and half of Sunday to get some painting done.

Now that you’ve set aside time in your schedule…it’s time to plan what to do with that time!

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How could you not wanna paint that! Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

PLAN YOUR GOALS
You might have set aside time but now what do you do with that time? I always start with research and reading. Although I guess you could always just talk to people too… hmmm… being sociable? *Sticks head back in a book.*
Then using what you’ve found out from others, create your own blueprint to achieving your own goals!
For example in the future I plan to improve my drawing and painting up to a standard I’d be happy selling them and hopefully you buying them!  (whilst also setting up in New Zealand.)
To achieve this I have looked at other artists who have already done this, taken up their advice about practicing art everyday, created a schedule and a list of areas where I need to improve.

I also plan to continue to improve my writing to bring you the best content I can; however I have been stuck with blogging recently, as I lost site of my goal. THERE’S NO POINT aiming for a goal you don’t really want.

This is why it’s always important to re-evaluate goals, whether it’s what you do for work, savings, fitness or any hobby that you wish to turn into a career.

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If it hadn’t been for my planning we never would have seen the Great Wall of China! Or as Karl Pilkington says “The Alright Wall of China.”

CHECK IN WITH YOUR VALUES
An easy way to check if you’re working towards goals that aren’t working for you is to see if they reflect your top three values in life. I learnt this from the book The Life Plan by Shannah Kennedy.
Basically, you create or find a list of values such as friendship, affection, wealth, health, economic stability, adventure etc etc etc.
Make sure this is quite an extensive list. Then go through and pick your top ten. Then your top five. Then your top three. And.. your top one if you like.
Now every time you are faced with a decision ask yourself;

“Does what I’m doing right now align with my values?
Does it help me towards what I really want?”

If the answer is no, you’re probably wasting your time. If you’re really not obligated to do it, don’t. Put yourself first.

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I started blogging because I wanted to share my art and stories about travelling with everyone because creativity is in one of my top three values.

Through my blogging I’d like to take credit for inspiring and helping my sister go abroad. Since then I’ve been dreaming of turning this into a full time thing.

Economic stability is in one of my top three too. I’ve had an empty shop for a while and will be working on changing that in 2018 or sooner.

It’s now time to jump back in with both feet!

So although this may not be the post you were expecting with a step by step guide of how to turn your pash into profit, it is the first step, my first step, maybe our first step!

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Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day!

I’ve had to take baby steps (mainly because I don’t have laptop or computer.)

I’m at the start of my journey. And I hope you will follow me on it (especially now I’m back on it like Sonic!)
Maybe you’re just starting out too!
Maybe you’ve been doing this for a while and you might find it entertaining to watch me flail, fail and struggle my way from a fat caterpillar into a beautiful butterfree. Or not.

All I know is that we are not alone on this journey. I have friends that are doing similar things and sharing their stories too! All unique and exciting! Shout out to others on their journey.

I have so much love and support for the Travel Beans, the Morrisons Enroute and not even finally Mari-ly & Argo‘s blog, even though I can’t read it as it’s in Estonian… fantastic photo’s though, and all awesome people!

So in the next few months my intentions are to share with you a few bits and pieces of what I’ve learnt over the summer from travelling with siblings to being a maid of honour abroad! I’ll also be sharing my travels of Barcelona, Rome and Amsterdam.

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Ahh Dam, why are you so expensive. *sigh*

I will continue with my Lil Big Sister Travel Co. posts as Beanie is still off traveling and I don’t want her to get in trouble (although there seems to be very little I can do about that.)
I’m aiming to post more little cartoons, at least two a week! And I’m working on another secret little project too!

And if you’re just starting your journey too I encourage you to go for it! You really do just have to stick with it. (I may just be repeating to myself.)

Here are my favourite resources and things I’ve been reading lately that have encouraged me to start taking the first step!

  • The Life Plan by Shannah Kennedy
  • The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
  • The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
  • Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
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We’ll end this with a photograph of Surfers Paradise, Australia cos why not?

P.s The cover photo is from Mysteryland, Amsterdam. Be sure to check out my Instagram!

Packing List for Australia 

Lil Big Sister Travel Co. 

I may not be the best person for this as I’m a all or nothing kinda person. 

I’m currently carting around random things that most backpackers wouldn’t even entertain the idea of.  Red wine vinegar, full length easel, 7 or 8 pairs of shoes, teapot… you get the idea.

I’m so excited for my lil sister Beanie.  She decided last year that she’d had enough of the UK & wanted to travel! Her first big trip and she’s coming over to Australia! 

She’s super excited and I said I’d help her out with planning so I came up with Lil Big Sister Travel Company! 

The previous Lil Big Sister Travel Co. Blog Posts are:

  • Intro to Lil Big Sister Travel Co. 
  • To Do List
  • Savings Plan

Immediately after Christmas Beanie started asking me about a packing list. She got her brand new backpack and I imagine she’s eager to fill it!

Well Beanie don’t go spending your Christmas and birthday cash just yet! Let your little big sister butt in! I’m going to try and give you the best advice I can (even if I don’t take my own advice, you should.  Don’t buy a teapot.)

First of all! Before you go stuffing things in that bag…

Check flight baggage allowances!

This can catch some people out. 

Imagine you’re on your way to Australia, you have two layovers and three flights to catch. The last two’s baggage allowance is 35kg but the first one is 25kg. If you pack over that 25kg you’re going to have to pay charges! 

Always check your baggage allowance for every flight! And only pack the minimum amount unless you wanna pay extra. 

Label your luggage!

Yes it’s those back to school days where you had to write your name in everything. There are some nice people out there that will happily try to find you if you lose something. I add an email address onto mine so the person can email me and find out where I am instead of thinking about shipping it back to mum’s house in the UK.

Try to predict the future!

Pack light if you know you’re going to be moving around a lot. Or if you know you can cope living the minimalist life.  Or if you have a shoulder injury. (Why don’t I take my own advice?!)

You can pack heavier or a little more stuff if you know you’re going to be staying in one place for a while and you can legitimately keep your stuff there without worrying about it.

Know where and when!

A lot of what you pack will depend on where you’re going and when you’re going…why? Because of the weather! Australia is incredibly diverse. Summer can be over 45 degrees and Winter (when the sun goes down) can be minus numbers! When we worked on the herb farm in Mulgowie, during the winter we couldn’t feel our fingers or toes! Apparently in Stanthorpe they had snow!

Remember Australia is the complete opposite to the UK.

UK – Summer June, July, August Winter December, January, February

Straya – Winter June, July, August Summer December, January, February      This means their festival season is around Christmas and New Years!

UK- Head South for warmer climates! The further North you go the colder you get, Scotland brrrr.

Straya – Head North for warmer climates! The further South you go the colder you get, Melbourne and Tasmania!

I guess what I’m saying is take at least one coat.

What to Pack!

Important documents

This is next because without these you won’t be getting on the plane! Get a nice thin little folder to put in the back of your backpack for these. 

Take photocopies/photos of these and send them to your email address and someone else responsible. In fact feel free to send a copy to me or mum to look after. This is in case you lose them we still have the details. These documents include: 

Passport 
Visa 
Travel insurance policy
Any medical documents/info 
Bank Cards
ID cards (driving)
CV (make sure this is up to date and has a nice photo on it)
Spare passport photos (they’re just handy)

Technology

Music.

No one I know can survive anything without music. Don’t just rely on your phone to play music. A) incase you lose it, B) you might have to work somewhere they don’t allow mobiles and C) battery life. 
Make sure you take earphones too.

If you have one or can afford to get a spare get a small ipod or mp3 player of some sort.

And back up all your music (or at least your favorite) on a computer or cloud storage. The drives are L-O-N-G here.

Mobile Phone.

As I’m typing this I started looking around wildly for my phone! It’s in my hand. Doh. Get insurance or a back up phone. Just in case. 

Make sure it’s unlocked too as you need a sim card when you get here. 

Also make sure it has enough space in it or get a bigger memory card for it. Most people take ALL their photos on their phone.  You don’t wanna come face to face with a koala bear only to find out you have no space left! #travelnightmare 

Then again you could always carry another…

Camera.

This is useful for when your phone battery dies. It’s completely up to you what you want to buy, if you’re just going to put photos on facebook then trust me don’t spend the money on something too fancy or technical. You won’t need it and it might get wrecked on hikes or trips to the beach.

Kindle/Kobo/Reading thing.

I actually don’t know if you read books. If you don’t, you should! This one is completely up to you. If you read a lot of books then these devices are fantastic. They so much space. Check out the reviews bit don’t feel you have to get the most expensive one. Mine cost £30 and it does what I need. If you’re not too bothered you can pick up cheap/free books anywhere.

If you need any inspiration for a travel reading list I’ll try put one together next month. 

Laptop/Notebook.

This one again is up to you.  It depends on how much you spend on the computer and how much you can do in your phone. I can do most things on my phone and im only thinking of buying a computer because I NEED Photoshop in my life. Just remember if it’s not essential, it’s just something else to worry about.

Adapter.

It’s cheaper to buy one of these in the UK.

Travel hairdryer.

Can be useful if you’re imitating Rapunzel, otherwise not needed. Same goes for staightners etc.

Clothes

As I’ve said before this will depend on the weather and what you’re doing.

It’s up to you if you want to wear white or light coloured clothes but I warn you they don’t stay white for long.

I wish I had bought packing cubes sooner! These will save you so much hassle and time!
Have a look for some cheap ones on Amazon.com

I’d recommend;

A couple of tank tops (baggy & tight)

A t-shirt and a nice top

A long sleeve shirt (for cold/mozzie time)

A pair of shorts (denim to look cool) or skirts whatever you’re into.

A pair of jeans or long trousers (again for the cold and bugs)

A dress or two (mine are the same dress) …

Hat! A big one! Seriously! If you’ve ever get a sun burnt scalp you’ll know why this is so important.

Swim gear (bikini, board shorts/whatever) … FYI they sell really cute/cool stuff here in the surf shops so consider buying swim wear here!

Lightweight jacket or coat (extra points if it’s waterproof)

Jumper/sweater/hoodie type thing.

Pjs.

Underwear (I shouldn’t have to tell you to pack socks. For goodness sake!)

REMEMBER you’ll be going for job interviews at some stage so make sure you have at least one outfit that’s smart casual aka jeans and nice top.

Accessories

Sunglasses.
Big huge ones with proper UV protection! Don’t go swimming in the sea with them on unless they are superglued to your head. You will lose then in minutes.

Waterbottle.
Get a nice one, bpa free, with a clip attachment or something and carry it everywhere!

Towels
You can get really cute cheap beach towels from a shop called Cotton On here, so save and get one here.
Travel towels for after showers are pretty good and quite cheap from sports direct. They don’t take up a lot of space and dry quickly.

Bags
You have your big backpack but don’t forget a day one, this could be a cute lil backpack for day outs or a large handbag. Just imagine you’re going out for a day at the beach and see which bag fits all your stuff.
Preferably one with a zip so things don’t fall out or are easily pinched.

If you plan on doing a lot of swimming some people invest in dry bags to keep things… well dry. I had one in Thailand when we were on boat trips all the time.

Watch.
Up to you. Dunno if you wear one…

Shoes…

Sandals/flipflops/thongs.
You need these.

Trainers.
Something you can wear all day comfortably.

Fancy/going out shoes.
If you go out for a nice meal anywhere or even that job interview your not going to wear your flip flops or trainers, right?

Cosmetics
I guarantee that you won’t wear as much make up here as you usually would. Two reasons.  1) it’s hard to put on over suncream and 2) sweat.
If you’re by the beach you don’t need it anyway.  But yeah this one’s totally up to you.  Just don’t go OTT. Except fake tan with shimmer. You go girl *snaps fingers* Er huh!  
Lipsticks dangerous see what not to bring below.

Hair care!!!! 
Favorite brands. This might not be that import make to you but if you absolutely cannot live without a product make sure that Australia stores stock it.
Your experience may be different to mine but the two things that actually detangle my hair aren’t available here.  Or I’ve not found them anywhere. And one of them is Aussie. Ironic huh? The range of hair care in Australia is abysmal.  Sorry Straya but it is. Sort it out!!
(I know you like bedhead, don’t worry they have that.)

Extra useful things

Padlocks.
If you’re going to stay in Hostels you will need your own padlocks for your lockers. I recommend a combination padlock over a padlock with keys. I’m more likely to lose a key than to forget a few numbers.

Sleeping aids.
Calms. (Natural sleeping remedy)
Ear plugs.
Sleeping eye mask.
Worth their weight in gold for light sleepers.

First Aid Kit.
At least one of you should carry this. No need for two but seriously get one. You won’t need it until you need NEED it. Things you should have in it:
Savlon, gauze, bandage, plasters, paracetamol, ibuprofen, ….

Scrapbooking/journal/ hobby stuff.
This is optional, I know you’ve got a new book and it’s just nice to write about wear you’ve been, glue ticket stubs in or write down things you wanna do. It’s like Pinterest…before the internet!
I’d go mental if I didn’t have a sketchbook!

Insect repellent & Tiger Balm
Australia isn’t as bad for bugs as SE Asia but they still have mosquitos and sand flies.  They like to feast at dusk and dawn so make sure your armed with repellent. 
It should have at least 50% deet in it. 100% is too much. Lethal. If it leaks it will dissolve plastic. Don’t put that on your skin. 50% is fine. 
Buy it cheap at sports direct.

Tiger balm you can get in Boots. It should be part of your med kit. It soothes insect bites, clears stuffy noses, relaxes muscle pain. It does everything except tapdance.

What NOT to Pack! 

Sunblock/screen/cream/whatever it’s called. The UV rays are stronger here so european standards won’t do. It has to be approved by the Australian Cancer Council. 
Bring a little bit aka a small travel size bottle to get you by.

Too many valuables. Jewelry or sentimental things that would be really difficult to replace. A couple is ok but you don’t want to be constantly worried about stuff.

Lipstick or other cosmetics that will easily melt. They will melt if you’re living in a car/tent/somewhere workout a fridge or aircon.
Oh candles melt too. Don’t buy candles. 

Drugs.
I shouldn’t have to tell you this but they have sniffer dogs at the airport. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Just say NO to drugs!

The kitchen sink. 
There’s just no need.

P.s

Remember this is just a guide. 
If you can’t fit everything in don’t worry too much you can always get stuff here when you need it. And if you want to take more be my guest. I have three effin blankets and a multi coloured unicorn teddy bear.

Your Savings Plan for Travel

Lil Big Sister Travel Co. 

First of all for a savings plan. Reminder this was made for my little sister but you can still apply this post to your own plans if you’re creative. 

Before you go anywhere, make sure you afford everything before you leave. 

The following:

  • FLIGHTS: one way £350-500
  • To get in and to live off: £2,500
  • Visa application:  £215
  • Travel insurance: £300
  • Extras and miscellaneous: £200

TOTAL: £3700. Ish

You will need to plan how long it will take to get this.  Then you will know what sort of date you’re realistically looking at going.

REMEMBER to add anything else you think of later on to this number. Travel can be full of hidden costs. 

SAVING PLAN

STEP 1 

1. List all your income ( what you earn a week)
2. Then list all your outgoings (so everything you spend money on every week) 

3. Subtract your outgoings from your income and down the total.  Even if it’s minus.

Remember to be honest with yourself.  You dont have to show it anyone if you don’t want.  Just remember if you lie. You are only lying to yourself. 

If you were guessing about your outgoings (everybody does)…

To get a more realistic idea. You will need to keep a diary of everything you spend.  Write it all down. Everything.  

Then add it all up at the end of the week. 

See if you were right.

Get a mini notebook and carry it everywhere. It might be difficult to remember to do. But try.

An example:

Income: £600 a week.

Outgoing: Rent – £150 a week. Food – £100. Bills – £50. Extras – £100. Social – £100.

What’s left = £100 a week. (SP).

STEP 2

Step 1 will give you an idea of your potential weekly savings.  That number you worked out will show you how long it will take to reach your goal. Don’t worry if it’s not alot or if it’s minus we’ll deal with that. We’ll call this number your SP or saving potential.

You’re goal is £3,700. Don’t panic, it’s achievable! Trust me! And we know you can do it! Shia la’Bouf believes in you too!

When we’ve broken it down it won’t seem as much.

In Step 2 we do a timeline check. If you need £3,700 divide it by your SP number (how much you can save in a week) and this will equal how many weeks it will take to achieve it.

For example.

The date is Monday 14th March I need £3,000 and I can save £100 a week. 

3000÷100 =30. 

So it will take 30 weeks. 

This means I would be able to afford to go on Monday 10th October! 

Figure out what day you can leave on!

And don’t panic if it says 2018. We’ll fix that in step 3.

TIP

You can add on any current savings you have.  Say you have £500 saved already. Now you only need £2,500 so use that number in your calculation.

REMEMBER 

Remember if you don’t understand or need help, just contact our 24/7 helpline on Facebook and one of our advisors will get back to you when they’ve finished running around the farm. (Only applies to my little sister… although if anyone fancies sending me an email it’s erin.reki@gmail.com or visit the contact page.)

Send me your questions! Unless you’re my ex in which case you can bugger off.

STEP 3

If you’re SP number is a minus or not as high as you want it to be or maybe it might take you until 2029 to save the money! You need to look at increasing your income and spending less money.

First let’s look at spending less.  We’ll tackle increasing your income in Step 4.

What can you save money on?

Write a new outgoings list with how much you are going to let yourself spend every week.  Try and stick to it.

Every time you are thinking of spending ask yourself:

“Do I really NEED this? Or do I want to live at the beach?”

If you do need it ask yourself:

“Can I get it cheaper?”

Do your research. Freecycle is now a thing. So is ebay or just ask around if friends and family are willing to donate things you might need.  

Distract yourself away from places that might encourage you to buy stuff you don’t need.  Aka don’t go window shopping. 

Instead of eating out, make meals at home. 

Explain to people your savings goals so that they may support you. 

If you have a vice or bad habit now is the time to kick it. Calculate how much alcohol or cigarettes are costing you per week and get some help to quit.

Put your savings in a high interest rate saving account. I’ve gained over £100 in a year just from interest. Free money. Yay!

STEP 4

Increase your income. How? Let’s look at some ways.

1. Selling your stuff. 

Remember not to sell anything you’ll regret. Read my post about that. 

You can ask people if they would like to donate unwanted items too.

Carboots are great, but remember some things are worth a lot more on ebay. 

For any clothes that don’t sell on ebay put them on the carboot and for any that don’t sell on the carboot, you can weigh them in for cash. 

Books can be sold online. So can electronics. 

Friends and family night be interested in your stuff too.

2. Work extra hours. No one wants to hear this.  But you do what you must.

3. If you can make or do anything that people might want. Do that. Bake sales. Nails. Makeup.  Kids facepaint. Busking. Anything you can spare time to do. 

4. Don’t be afraid to research other ways to make cash 🙂 the internet has lots of good ideas. Market research, testing websites, audio typing etc.  And ask people too. Get yourself out there. People might need dogs walking and babies sitting. 

Step 5

You should hold yourself accountable and monitor your savings. 

Download from online or make your own savings chart. Every time you put a certain amount of money away colour in the box or tick it off. I made mine on excel and I usually tick mine off after I save £100. 

This is so you can see your progress. It motivates you and reminds you what you are working towards. Put it somewhere you will see it everyday! 

And that is your savings plan.

P.s 

I will post about applying for passports, visas, flights and insurance at some point. But the next post will be about what to pack because Beanie has been harassing me for it! 🙂

Your Very Basic To Do List for getting Started to Travel

Lil Big Sister Travel Co. 

When my little sister said she wanted to come to Oz, after I broke down what a company proposing to help your move would do I started with a list of what she needed to do. Here it is!

1. Save some cash!

Flights are around £500/600 depending on when you fly and who you fly with. I always use the skyscanner app or website.

Travel Insurance is a must! Ours cost around £300 for two of us 18 months with Alpha Travel Insurance. It’ll cost different depending on how long you need cover and what the cover…covers.

Oz officials say you should have £2,500 in your account when you enter the country…this is to cover living expenses before you get a job and a return flight in case you are stuck.

Visa is $446 including the card charge which is around £250.

Plus money if you want to buy a car. You can always save up for one here though.  I honestly don’t know how I’d manage here without one but some people use the greyhound buses or get lifts and travel in groups. You never know who you’ll meet!

2. Download useful apps, music etc and get inspired.

Read some travel blogs for inspiration just to get an idea of what you want to do and other useful things.  Basically do some research.

I recommend downloading the app ‘Currency’ its a green circle with lots of money symbols in it.

The reason you need to get your tech and stuff sorted before you go (and well in advance) is because before you get a sim card you will be stuck for internet here. Free wifi is limited and it’s even worse in the countryside!

Journeys are long here. Don’t get caught out without entertainment.

3. Before you apply for your visa…

Check your passport is in date and has at least two years on it. If not, get a new one. 

You are also better off paying for your visa with Australian dollars and you’ll need a travel cash card anyway.  So you might as well get one asap. I have a caxtonfx card. It’s dead easy to apply for.

When you get your card load some cash onto it in Australian dollars and then you can apply for your visa.

You might need a medical but you don’t really need to worry about any other kinds of travel jabs or malaria pills and that sorta stuff if your only going to Australia.

4. Get your flights booked!

It’s a really long flight so you might want to stop over somewhere, Singapore airport has a swimming pool!!

Like I mentioned I use Skyscanner most of the time.  

Here would be a good time to mention that you should sign up to frequent flyer points or airmiles. I don’t expect you to 100% understand ‘travel hacking’ just yet but it’s good practice and you should give that term a quick google. You’ll be kicking yourself you didn’t start it when you first started travelling. I do. 

5. Choose your insurance!

Do NOT I repeat do NOT travel without travel insurance.  If you think you can get in a plane without it please first read some of the personal horror stories online. If God forbid something terrible happens, you will have enough on your plate without having to worry about the cost. It’s just not worth it. 

You saved up your money to buy your insurance in step 1, so now buy it. 

It may be the most boring thing on the planet and seems like a punishment from the devil himself but it’s actually important to read through your policies. Know what you are covered for. It’s also your responsibility to make sure you understand them.  If you don’t read through them with someone and work it out together. That or call the company.

6. Pack your bags!

Don’t worry too much about this one. I’ll write you a packing list to help you start thinking about the things you might wanna take soon enough. You should really start with step 1 at least 6 months prior to when you want to travel anyway so we have time to come back to this. 

So in very basic terms:

1. Save some mulah.

2. Download inspo and stuff.

3. Get visa.

4. Buy flights.

5. Get insured.

Now, there may be other things your thinking about that aren’t on this list including TFNs, mobile phones, getting a job and what to take with you. We’ll come back to those things as soon as you’ve finished these 5 steps as there’s no point knowing about Medicare cards etc if you haven’t already been granted a visa and booked your flights etc.

Your on your way though! And congratulations and being brave enough to start!

P.s

My next post will help you with step 1. Saving money. A lot of people don’t travel because they think it’s unaffordable. I will help you overcome that thinking with another step by step plan.

Lil Big Sister Travel Company

Our promise to help you help yo’self!

First a little explanation for this post. I’m an older sister to a younger brother Pest and the youngest, little sister Beanie. The thing is I’m also the shortest therefore I’m the little (lil) big sister.

Last year Beanie decided that she’d had enough of the UK and wants to travel! Her first big trip and she’s coming over to Australia! I’m so excited for her! And judging by our last conversation she’s super excited.

I said I’d help her out with planning so I came up with Lil Big Sister Travel Company! 

It’s just a gimmick I came up with as she was looking at companies to help facilitate her working holiday in Australia. These companies are expensive and some are even scams!

Don’t fall for it. Let me see what I can do instead…

Lil Big Sister Travel Co. 

We’re not going to do it all for you, but neither would a company. Even if they claim they will. 

We’re here to give you all the advice, guidance and help you need to get to Australia. We can tell you everything you need to know before you go and more!

Get ready for sun, sand, spiders and making some serious mulah.

Why choose Lil Big Sister Travel Co.?

We can offer you everything the big companies can and more! 

Visa advise? Yep. 

Airport transfer? You got it. 

Everything else?  We got it covered.  

Mummy will feel better her little one is with someone she knows.. And one of the best things about us? It’s free. 

Do you qualify?

That all depends on you. Nobody and I mean nobody can grant you a visa except the Australian government.  All they ask of you is that you’re not a criminal, don’t have any diseases and can afford to stay there for 3 months without a job aka £2,500 to £3,000.

What could you do?

Again this is completely up to you.  Working with animals, bar work, surf instructing, retail, farm work. Why not use your dancing or singing skills? There’s lots of opportunities here and the minimum wage is equivalent of £11 an hour. Just don’t blow it all!
First things first!

What do you really need to qualify to get a visa?

  • Aged 18–30 when applying.  You’re 19 so we’re good on this one.
  • Citizen of eligible country.  UK. Cool beans.
  • No criminal convictions. Let’s hope this is a no.
  • Sometimes you have to pass a medical exam.
  • No serious driving offences. Yeah cool.
  • Valid passport. Make sure you have enough pages and that it won’t expire in a couple if years. Just in case.
  • Evidence of sufficient funds. Now this is the ballbuster. You need £2,500 to £3,000 in your bank account to enter the country. 

What’s Included?

So you’ve seen some companies and this is what they usually offer. 

We’ve dissected, explained and found out the real cost of these things for you. 

  • First job opportunity within the first five days.
  • Unlimited job opportunities.
  • Transfer from Brisbane airport to hostel.
  • 5 nights accommodation in a hostel in Surfer’s Paradise.
  • Choice of sightseeing or party tour.
  • Australian mobile phone.

The reason for this is that it can cost that much to set yourself up in Oz. Food, travel, luxuries, everything is expensive. For example we spent £1,000 in the first month. And that didn’t involve buying a car and we walked from the airport to our hostel with all our bags. It’s not easy, but anything worth it never is. Get saving! 

Plus;

  • A dedicated Trip Coordinator for entire journey.
  • “Welcome to Australia” orientation session.
  • Working holiday visa advice.
  • Bank account and Tax File No. advice.
  • Mail holding & luggage storage.
  • Ongoing support from our Australian office.
  • Advice on finding accommodation.
  • Access to resource centre (wifi, printing, etc.).
  • Discounted activities & tours.
  • Australian tax return assistance.

Okay so let’s break it down.

A job opportunity could just be an interview. You won’t be able to pick the job you want.  It could be a commission based sales job or piece rate picking. Sometimes the company will offer to pay for your accommodation if you don’t get a ‘job opportunity’ but it won’t state what kind of accommodation or for how long.  3 nights in a rusty shed anyone? 

It won’t ever come down to this as you will always at least get an interview.  Trust me you can get that on your own.  All you need is a CV. Getting a job in Oz is the same in the UK. They have recruitment agencies here for free and you can easily give your CV into places and just ask if they are looking for anyone. Australia also has community boards and you can choose which one you apply for. Not to mention Facebook groups with job ads.

Actual cost £0.

Unlimited job opportunities. Same as above. You just have to speak to an agency or business owners and other human beings. You’ll be fine.

 Again actual cost £0.

Transfer from airport to hostel. Depends when you fly in to. But a lot of the time you can either walk, get the bus or a taxi for around £20. Unless we’re in the area in which case it’s free because we’ll pick you up.  

£0-20.

5 nights in wherever, maybe Surfer’s Paradise. Can’t choose where you stay if you go with a company. Hostelbookers.com or hostelworld.com or yha.com.au is really easy to use. 5 nights accommodation and remember this doesn’t include food, depends on which one you choose…£75. 

Choice of sightseeing tour or party tour. We can drive you around for free if you wanna sightsee. Hostels offer discounts on party and sightseeing tours anyway. So again depends what you want to do. Example koala tour £30.

Australian mobile. They may give you a crappy phone with a naff sim. If you have a phone that is unlocked you can put any Australian sim in it.  You choose how many minutes and how much data you need.  Like a woolworths sim is £15 a month for unlimited minutes and texts and 1gb data. So phone unlocking £10 sim £15.

Trip Coordinator. You can do that.  Because you can read. I’ll help you out. But all you need to do is ask yourself where do you want to go and what do you want to do? Use TripAdvisor to find out what’s around. £??

Australian orientation. I can talk your ear off about Oz for as long as you’ll let me. £0.

Visa advice. When you’ve started your savings  plan we’ll apply for this.  A visa costs £215. Advise costs £0.

Bank account. When you get your visa granted you can apply for a bank account online from the UK and is free.  £0.

TFN. Tax File number.  You fill in the form online, takes 10 minutes and get it sent to a post office in Oz who will save it for 30 days for free.  Unless we have an address in which case you can send it to ours. Again all free. £0.

Mail forwarding.  This is another thing nobody ever tells you and took us 2 days online researching to find out. Like the TFN you can get anything like all your post sent and saved for free at the good old post office.  Or ours. £0.

Luggage service.  No one needs this. No one. Ever. At all. Full stop. Not worth considering. 

Ongoing support from the Australian office.  So the trip coordinator then. Yep covered that. Instead of 24-7 support from a stranger how about 24-7 support from a sister. £0. Freeeeee.

Advice on finding accommodation.  I can help you look through adverts in newspapers and go to estate agents to ask what they’ve got but I won’t insult your intelligence.  You can do that yourself too. It’s just like if you were looking to rent a place in the UK except is easier.  £0.

Access to a resource centre with wifi, printing and stuff. This is a library. There’s one in every town and they’re still free.  £0.

Discounted activities and tours. Like I’ve said we can help you with that. And if you go to a tourist information office they give students and under 25s discounts.  And hostels give you discounts too. £0.

Australian tax return.  Don’t even worry about that until you plan on leaving.  We’ll figure that nonsense out together.  £0.


What extra does Lil Big Sister Travel Co. do?

  • Advice on medical issues like what vaccinations to get.
  • Advice on what to bring and what not to bring to Oz.
  • Personal saving plan. 
  • Timeline of what to get ready and when. 
  • A link to the most comprehensive, best and cheapest travel insurance.
  • Links to travellers forums so you can chat to people, maybe meet people your age who are going in the same direction as you so you can have your own amazing adventure!
  • We’ll keep an eye on cheap flights and deals for you on Sky scanner.  
    Also I give you;

  • 1 token for free breakfast at The Coffee Club
  • 1 token for a free Maccy Dees.
  • Accommodation if we can provide it and you are stuck.
  • Possibly a lift from the airport.

Anything else you can think of that we haven’t included, just contact our office on Facebook and our manager (your big sister) will be able to come to an agreement. 

P.s 

Fine print.

Lil Big Sister Travel Co. Is not held responsible for the little sisters actions or inability to act upon any advice given by our company including and not limited by; not following the savings plan, refusing vaccinations, missed flights etc.

P.p.s

This is just for my little sister, if I do decide to ever turn Lil Big Sister Travel Co. into a real thing available for everyone I’ll let you all know.  And it probably won’t be free. 😉

Homesickness; an embarrasing confession.

Gosh I’m a terrible blogger.

My last blog post was the first week of January. It is now the last week of January and I was supposed to post at least once a week.  Or at least that was my original plan. However after my last post bragging and complaining about Sydney not much has happened. Oh wait! We did go to the Tamworth Country Music Festival. Where I discovered this beautiful music!

We went back to our little town in the outback and went back to work on the grain plant. In an attempt to shift the holiday weight we’ve both joined the gym across the road and are enjoying the local hot baths. And whilst I am ever grateful that I have a job, a roof (not a car roof) over my head and stability in our lives, I’ve been getting homesick.

It’s not nice to admit but it has been growing over the past few months and the closer we get to our flight date to go back to UK it grows even more. I did expect this though. As soon as New Years was over I knew the questions would start pouring in about whether we’ve booked our flights yet or not. The more I think about home, the weirder it gets. 

I used to hate the cold, wet, miserable weather of the UK. Now whenever I go outside it feels like I’m in a goddamn sauna surrounded by 40 hairdryers on the hot setting. My lipsticks have all melted in the car and doing your hair in any kind of style seems to be an exercise in futility.

There’s no cold water unless you put it in the fridge. All the stuff out of the plumbing comes out luke warm. And don’t even attempt to go barefoot outside! You will more than likely suffer third degree burns on the soles of your feet.

I’m sick of the flies, spiders, snakes and poisoness barb shooting caterpillars, which are genuinely a thing. And I’m not too keen about the fact that I have to travel 8 hours return journey in the car to buy the mascara of my choice. Guess I could just order it online. Poor little me. 

Sounds kinda trivial now I’ve put it on “paper” but I’m not gonna deny that all these little things haven’t been mounted up. The majority of the homesick mountain consists of less trivial things though. Like how I really miss Rosie’s sofa, glasses of wine with the girls and making fun of everything that’s wrong with the world. I even miss her fiance’s poor attempts at making conversation leaving us with familar awkward silence. I’m even looking forward to the inevitable inquisition.

I miss my mum’s ah-ha moments when I show her something new on the computer and my sister when you laughs at something completely ridiculous or none existent (I swear she still has an imaginary friend.) I also miss this idiot…

I can’t wait to have hommity pie in Bakewell with my dad again, catch up with old friends over coffee, check my niece isn’t getting taller than me and we still have to meet a new member of the family yet, she’ll nearly be 2 by the time we get back! I can’t wait to hear my grandparents praise/complain about my hair. And my cat! Awwww I’m gonna cuddle him until he claws my face! And then I’ll cuddle him some more! There’s lots of people I miss and can’t wait to see again! Plus, that mascara will be a 15 min bus journey aware from my house! Yuss! Bonus!

I’m not sure why I’ve been so down about it all, I guess it feels like I’m stuck in the arse end of nowhere, doing a job that could easily be replaced by some up-to-date software. Yeah, that’s probably it. Maybe all this mushyness was due to Blue Monday too! You know most Australians don’t know that’s even a thing.

They have Australia Day instead. Which I spent indoors in the aircon drawing cartoons and watching Moana. Because trust me it’s too damn hot outside! The only pro about going outside at the moment is putting this on, because well it just smells effin’ fantastic. Why did I not buy this a year ago?!

Well, Blue Monday is behind us. We’re rolling into February and things can only get better right? *Looks at the world news* Yeesh. Okay, fair enough. 

Okay so to at least make this post slightly useful and not end up on a downer. Here are the things that I do to alleviate the homesickness and not fall into the spiralling pit of despair and broken dreams (dramatic much)

1. Talk to people. This works in two different ways. You may feel better by talking to people back home online. Or by ignoring the tech for a while and talking to people around you and connecting with them. Try both and see which works.

2. Try to recreate some home comforts, for me this is blasting the aircon on the lowest it will go (not enviroment friendly I know), putting some wooly things on and making a sunday dinner whilst watching something British. I suggest Blackadder, Spaced, Fawlty Towers, Black Books and anything Sherlock Holmes related.

3. Exercise. I’m not an expert but apparently it’s a fact that exercise makes you feel better about everything. So does chocolate. But exercise is better for you. Apparently.

4. Speaking of chocolate, here’s what NOT to do…

Don’t drink, do drugs, gamble, spend or eat your pain. It’s easy to do and a slippery slope. Where does this slope lead? Remember the pit of despair and broken dreams? Yeah, there.

5. Fill your spare time with other things rather just just wallowing in self pity. Examples are this are…

a) A healthy hobby such as painting, photography, writing, reading etc, 

B) You could finally get around to those boring time consuming tasks that everone puts off, like organising photos or  computer files, evaluate your finances, clean your backpack 

c) Plan ahead, write a bucket list or things you want to do in the future you can look forward to,

d) Connect with others that feel the same way, you can find plenty of other blogs just google “homesickness”. Easy!

e) Write out your thoughts. What do you miss about home? What don’t you miss? What don’t you like about the place your in? And more importantly what DO you like about your current location?
Realise it’s all just a trade off, you swap one set of problems for another. Sorry but I don’t think paradise really exists. It is what you make of it though. List as many good things as possible and practice gratitude daily.

6. Check your travel insurance policy! Really this should be number 1! Most people won’t know what’s covered under their policy. You might be able to claim up to £450 for a trip back home as long as it is under 21 days depending on your policy. Check the terms and conditions and contact the company to see if you qualify. 
You might be able to come home for a couple of weeks in which time you’ll have enough time to see everyone get over your homesickness get bored and go back on your ‘holiday’ without wasting your visa or spending too much of your own cash. 
You won’t know if you don’t ask! 
I know reading insurance policies is the most boring thing on the planet and seems like a punishment from the devil himself but it’s actually important! Check your policy!!!

7. Laughter! Limit your intake of neggy stuff. And overdose on the funnies! I’m not just talking internet memes, vines and youtub videos of people falling over. There’s good old fashion stand up comedy and board games! Let me recommend this Estonian board game… I’ll not explain it. Spoils the fun.
Also if you haven’t heard of Cards of Humanity…well, give it a look.

I contributed to a funny blog post a couple of weeks ago… if you’ve experienced hostels at their worst a few of these are ridicuulously and sometimes painfully relateable!

Dear Hostel guy!

If that doesn’t make you laugh I’ll leave you with this photo of me and my brother.


P.s
Again just a little reminder to listen to this artist, Roshani.

Fireflies, Fireworks and Fatigue. Sydney in 4 days.

I’m not sure if we’re emotionally ready to share this story yet, but here goes.

On December 23rd, the last day of work at the Grain Plant for the year, everyone keeps asking us what our plans are for the holidays.

We haven’t got any. We’ve been working so hard recently to make a good impression on the bosses in the hope that they will keep us on past the end of January. After work we tend to either go to the gym or sit and read internet articles, we hardly talk or make plans. Talking is exhausting.

For the first few days of the holidays we did nothing. Quite literally nothing. It was amazing! I managed to do a bit of painting which I’m happy about.

Both of us always tend to get a little homesick around this time of year. As much as I don’t want to admit it I’ve been homesick since this time last year! I love slow travel and would prefer it over fast travel any day but after a year of not seeing friends and family in person, it tends to lose it’s appeal.

This fantastic Christmas Summer song made my mum cry!

Even with slow travel you can experience travel burn out. Especially when you’re already homesick. I never thought I would get homesick or travel burn out but travelling down the coast from Cairns it happened, which resulted in my Halloween nightmare in Brisbane. But enough of that!
After our comfy, air conditioned Christmas we decided we should probably make some decisions!

After a few hours of analysing the calendar we decided to drive down to Sydney for New Years Eve and spend 4 days around the area. The day after Boxing day (27th) we did a tiny bit of research, I skim read a couple of travel blogs to see what there was worth seeing and wrote up a rough itinerary. This seemed a little pointless because I already knew in the back of my mind as soon as I hit the high street in Sydney I’d be swallowed up by the shops and forget all the sight seeing.

Yes I’m the worst tourist ever. I was more excited by the prospect of window displays than the Opera House. I know. I’m terrible. Either way I wrote my itinerary with no intention of following it, just naïve hope.

The next day (28th) we set off later than we should have. Around 8 am …ish. This was because I stayed up late the night before watching the animated movie ‘Trolls’. I regret nothing.

We began the tedious 8 hour car journey to the Blue Mountains (with stops on the way).

Dat boi.

I get incredibly restless in the car so by the time we got to the Blue Mountains I was already in a funky mood. The Irishman forced me to walk to the lookout point and just before I was going to take a huff and have a temper tantrum I looked over the landscape and calmed down.

Oooh look instagram videos…

“I guess this is why the call them the Blue Mountains”

“What? Why?”

“…Because they’re blue.”

Australia isn’t very creative with their naming of places. Oh look, there’s a forest on a hill let’s call it Forest Hill. Love it.

We arrived just in time for sunset. It was quite busy at the rest top, plenty of campers here. We opened the carboot and lay out the mattress in the car and watched the fireflies float past us. Yes peeps! There are fireflies!! It would have been romantic if it hadn’t have been for Sean’s terrible jokes. I’m happy to report I survived the night.

The next morning we drove to Coogee Beach as the 6km walk between Coogee and Bondi beach had been a recurring theme on the things to do in Sydney lists I’d been reading.

Parking. Hmm yes this is an interesting one. There is paid car parking but Sean decided to park in the residential area. I wasn’t too sure about this as it’s illegal in other beach areas of Australia. We checked the community forums and it seemed okay, although I felt like we were being rude. “Those awful backpackers!”

Sean.

We got our coffee fix at Coogee Pavillion which I almost immediately fell in love with. I now know why it’s so popular the décor is beautiful! Unfortunately we only got coffee as there wasn’t anything on the menu we fancied.

Whale hello there.

I NEED an inflatable dragon in my life.

This dog cares not for your rules.

Now there’s something they don’t tell you in the blogs. It’s really, really hot in Summer (if you didn’t already know) we’re taking up to and over 40 degrees!! Plus during the holidays it’s extra crowded. I didn’t mind the people but being incredibly self conscious and lacking any confidence what so ever I sported the colours of Christmas past. Red, through exhaustion and embarrassment at my extreme lack of fitness and sweaty hair. Green through pure envy as I watched slim sunkissed skimpy bikini wearing individuals gracefully past me without breaking a sweat or getting chub rub.

Yeah, coming to the beach after several days of laying about eating my weight in Ferro Rocher and Terry’s chocolate orange didn’t do much for my self image I can tell you that! I had decided to wear my tatty gym gear too! Fail. Not great for photos! Oh no. I guess I’ll have to come back to get nicer looking photos of us.*gasp* What a shame.

I love all the famous graffiti at Bondi!

Bat pug.

One other thing. Don’t forget to reapply  sunscreen. Especially if you’re sweating! You don’t want ridiculous tan lines/burns because you forgot a bit of cream.

Omg we have to walk back.

The Bucket List. Very popular & crowded.

After seeing Bondi we foolishly started to walk back. In hindsight we should have gotten the bus so we actually had time to chill on one of the beaches. Bondi was packed but we could have chilled elsewhere. Our 6k walk turned into a 12k walk complete with sun burn, a sore from my stupid bra rubbing due to the sweat and a lack of water towards the end. Again? Why do I keep making this mistake???!! If you’re planning a trip here there are free water taps, just make sure you drink enough and keep topping up. We are fools.

The walk one way took us about 2 hours because of all the photos we took.

Stairs! My only weakness! How did you know?!

We had planned to go to Darling Harbour that evening but we were shattered from the walk so we skipped it and went up the road for sushi. This place was amazing! I had the bento box and there was way too much food! I almost went into a food coma and fell asleep in my miso soup!!

New Years Eve Eve we spent in the city or CBD. As I suspected we spent the majority of our time shopping. Living in Moree is very limiting. It’s a very small town with a few locals shops and odd opening hours. We walked across the Harbour Bridge, spied on Sydney Opera House, I had another famous tantrum for some reason, we hit the shops then went for Spanish tapas and a Thai massage, we also picked up Japanese candy (gummi).

Guess where.

Nom.

We recommend getting an Opal card to get around on the public which is the same as an Oyster card in London.

NYE was just madness. We arrived into the city around 10am. I wish I had taken a photo of the queue for the first vantage point we chose; Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. Luckily there is an app for that! Well, just a website but it’s good enough. It helps you pick out where you want to be for the fireworks tells you what time it’s open and handy tips.

After deciding we wouldn’t last more than 15 minutes queueing in the sun we made our way to our second choice by 11am; Observatory Hill Park. We wouldn’t get the view of the Opera House. Apparently you have to start queuing around 6am or earlier for that!! And it’s only getting earlier as it grows in popularity. We got a great view of the harbour bridge though and as the people kept pouring in I’m grateful we got there early. The gates opened at 12 and we quickly made it up the hill. Then began our long 12 hour wait for a 12 minute firework show. Pack a picnic. Or bring cash.

Observatory Hill Park.

Screw you inflatable bed man.

I tried to get a little sleep but it was so crowded with people tiptoeing around the sea of bodies I was lucky not to get trodden on. Two people almost fell on me and the girl in front of me got her hand squished!

Totally worth it.

Bonus Instagram video!
After the show it took us two hours to get back to the car. Walking and getting on an overcrowded bus.

Like being part of a zombie horde.

So, driving out of Sydney on NYE is something that should be avoided. Traffic, road blocks, people, drunk people, police, satnavs can all play a huge part on the level of difficulty. I, Sean had decided that I was going to take the long scenic route home through the blue mountains as I figured there would be less traffic getting out of the city with the majority of people hitting the coastal roads. I second guessed myself.

I was planning a 650km minimum drive back to Moree straight after the fireworks, so the hours driving would be from 2am onwards. Driving through the countryside means Roo’s and Wallabies, which means 80km max per hour and constantly on the lookout. We decided to take the motorway and got lucky as soon as we got onto the Harbour tunnel. It was practically deserted. Everyone must have been using public transport or staying the night which was great news for us as we pretty much had clear roads the full way home, 110km, cruise control, easy. I must admit, I probably wouldn’t risk the drive again.

A couple of times I thought I would have to pull in and sleep for a couple of hours. Driving an automatic, on straight roads, on cruise control means as a driver I just have to keep between the lines. That means it’s a pretty boring drive; more likely to drift off to sleep and into a ditch. Stopping every hour or two and just getting out of the car or jumping around for a while kept me going, as did singing loudly. By the time we got about 2 hours from Moree, I was done. Exhausted. Still, I found the energy and alertness to make it back in one piece. I couldn’t have done it without her shortness singing with me and asking me If I was OK every 5 minutes. The extra hours in bed on NYD have made our last day of our Christmas Holidays even more relaxing. In total the drive to 8 hours. Never again.

P.s Please don’t ever attempt to do something like this drive. It’s dangerous and like I said earlier, we are fools.

P.p.s I’m so glad my mother doesn’t read my blog.

My Halloween Hostel Nightmare!

I know we are in the Christmas\New Year Holiday period but I was watching Nightmare Before Christmas #traditions and it reminded me of this years Halloween.

The title might be a slight exaggeration, nothing terrifying or life threatening happened, it’s just my fragile sensibilities and sense of smell that were destroyed. 

The story starts off with a heated argument in a over heating car…but first! A little context.

The Irishman and I had just come back from a three week luxurious holiday in Bali. As far as I’m concerned we should have bloody stayed there! At first I was so pleased to see my little purple wagon in the airport carpark. It took me three hours to get sick of it. We flew back into Darwin & Darwin is hot! Damn hot!

The next morning we started the two day drive to Cairns to visit a friend. The only good thing about this drive was the Dinosaur Trail.

When we got to Sean’s friend Will’s house in Cairns… his place! Omgosh wow! Absolutely beautiful! I didnt want to leave but after a few nights out drinking, lounging in his pool when he was at work and getting addicted to Rick & Morty and Brooklyn 99… it was time to leave. 
Especially after we had the privledge of visiting Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation.

Back to driving around, sat restless in the passenger seat, spending too much money on food and showering less than necessary.
We did have an interesting time travelling South, a snokelling trip on the reef, art in Townsville, koalas on Magnetic Island, reunions in Airlie Beach with a boat trip to the Whitsundays, a helicopter over the Great Barrier Reef, another reunion in Noosa, countless beach walks. We did so much I’ll have to write another post about it all! It was fantastic… and exhausting. Exhausting for us AND our wallets. 

The original plan was to bypass Brisbane and much of Gold Coast, as we had been before. I unfortunatley lost my bank card and needed to go to Coolangatta in the South of Gold Coast to get it. This is where the story turns sour.

We were on our way there and had been driving for over 3 hours, tired, hungry, sweaty and I lost it. I have no idea now what the arguement was about but it erupted into horrible words and things we both didn’t mean. It was one of those awful arguements where neither one of you is willing to back down or show weakness. So at the next service station I sat in the public toilets crying my eyes out. I know, cringe. Angry, upset and unable to call anyone in the UK due to the time difference, I posted an SOS on the Facebook Group Girls Love Travel (GLT).

The response I received was unbelievable! Girls from all over the world sent me supportive messages. A lot of their advice echoed what I was thinking myself. “We need to spend some time apart.” When you spend 24/7 with one person, living in a car, there is no mystery left in the relationship and you’re bound to get on eachothers nerves.
I got the nerve to get back in the car and I asked to be taken to Brisbane. It was getting late. We broke down on the way down, on the motorway too. Dangerous and noisy. FML.

I did not say a word but I knew I had had enough of traveling now. I was lucky enough that a lovely young lady offered to let me stay at hers for the night. After I got dropped off in Brisbane I waited and waited. I think it was about 20 minutes of searching in the dark but eventually I got picked up! Waiting for a mate in the dark at the train station with almost no battery. Pretty scary. We got pizza, tim tams and ice cream, and I laughed and cried with this  wonderful stranger and her room mate, who both had the patience and generousity of saints! Thanks Annie!

The next day I booked myself into a hostel. The Chill Hostel. Ugh. I was still a little delicate, upset and tired. The guy at the front desk was waaaaay too much for me. Loud and scatter brained. I asked for a female dorm. It was completely empty! Nobody shared my room. 

Billy no mates. But a guy (who I think worked at the hostel) did come into my room a few times and when he saw me just ran back out. Maybe he wanted to come in for a snooze. He freaked me out so I went out. When I got back the reception was shut. I spent the night in a creepy, empty, cold, very cold room with no blankets or sheets. Chill hostel = crazy guy, empty room, bloke kept trying to come in my room, no bed sheets, freezing cold. I didn’t sleep a wink. 

The next morning there was a woman/dragon behind the desk and she asked me for my sheets. I told her I didn’t get any and she tried to argue with me. I walked away. Not enough energy for that nonsense. I did a little more research this time and chose Bunk hostel in Fortitude Valley. Strangely enough when I told the lady behind the desk at Bunk my story about the other hostel she asked “Was this at Chill?”  …. “You can read minds?” She laughed and gave me a free early check in.

It was coming up to Halloween night fast and I had no plans, but thanks to GLT another friendly stranger planned to meet up with me. I was starting to feel bad about our argument though and starting to miss him. Arguing on the road is tough, especially so far from home. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers and Hailee!

The night before Halloween me and Hailee went to the club attached to my hostel as it was free entry and would be cheper than actual Halloween night. It was funny and I had a great time! That girls got some moves and she really makes me laugh! She’s up for anything! I unfortunately must have looked like easy prey. Towards the end of the night when Hailee left I got railroaded into a conversation on my way out. I managed to side step out of his sights and run as far away as I possibly could. I can be so naive and dumb. What a nightmare! Plus the price of alcohol is pretty frightening.

Again I asked for a female dorm and I got a four bed female room. These other three girls gave me stink eye as soon as I walked in! Their stuff was all over everything and it smelt like someone had been sick in every corner of the room! I tried to make conversation with a couple of them. The first one scoffed at me as if we were in a Hollywood teenage drama flick. The other girl had a complete break down when I asked her about plug sockets.  She explained where they were and how to use them! …Er… thanks? 

Apparently I made a hostel faux pás when I moved a few of their things off the floor so I wouldn’t tread on them. And my photo would be slightly better looking.

Anyway Halloween was spent hungover wondering around on my own, getting stalked down dark alley ways in the daytime to get a Halloween cupcake, then watching scary movies on my own in a room full of pyscho girls who looked like they wouldn’t care if they got away with my murder or not.
Did I call Sean back to pick me up the next day? Yes. Yes I did.

P.s if this wasn’t scary enough… check out the color of this cup of tea I paid $4.50 for. 

I Sold Everything to Travel. Oops?

I didn’t really think that one through…

I love all of those inspirationals posts you see online. Especially the ones that tell you to ‘Leave it all behind! Grab your passport & go!’ This is not one of those posts. This is more of the personal pros and cons of taking that advice.

When anyone makes the decision to travel, sometimes you inevitably find yourself looking for other methods to top up your funds, so you can run away a little faster.

Selling all your stuff is one of those methods.

Ultimate inspirational travel quotes List

In the beginning I wasn’t influenced by these posts very much. I wasn’t a big blog reader back then but the pictures are damn influential. They work their way into your brain and the short sentences on the front are enough to make you subconsciously want to pack your bags and leave. 

6 years ago when I started travelling and went to Nepal I  had very little compared to what I have today. I must have read something because I distinctly remember cutting my spending so I would have some pocket money for the stalls of Kathmandu. Just a little side note, this change in spending habits created a little rift between me and some friends. When a 21 year old party animal stops wanting to go out it raises questions and slightly alienates people. You should try to be honest & upfront with people. I wasn’t. 

Then before our big year long trip I sold everything. Well, most of it. Worst of all things I wish I hadn’t. Just a couple of nostalgic things. Most of which I wouldn’t remember I had if I hadn’t have taken photos of them for ebay. Photos I have still lurking in my hard drive to remind me how much I wanted to see Vietnam. 

I know they’re only material things and I left it all behind for a reason.  My travels have been worth so much more to me than stuff and things. Priorities change though.  Back then I didn’t need a laptop, hair styling things and dresses, I needed a sturdy backpack, hiking shoes and flight tickets. Now things are changing again. 
My best friend is getting married next year and once again I need flight tickets but now I need hair thingys and a fancy dress or two. As for the laptop I sold mine over a year ago. I created this site using my mobile. I use mobile apps to write posts and edit photos. Everything. It’s limiting.  I used to create cartoons using Photoshop and I used to be interested in creating digital art. I could edit high res images with Lightroom on a laptop. So I’ve really limited myself in terms of what I can do. 

“No! Not another temple!” “But it says it’s a must see…”

I thought about putting some of my savings towards a computer but right now I’m still saving for flight money to get home. There’s not much point in me complaining about selling my laptop though as I needed the cash at the time and I needed to buy a new one anyway. However I could have held on to it for a while longer. The silly thing is I could have used it to edit images to create items to go into my shop. I looked into it and my mobile just cannot handle the pressure.  It finds it too hard to put things in my online shop. Sad face. 

The urgency that I felt to sell all my stuff before out trip started meant that I got rid of stuff before I’d finished with it. 

Oh ffs what have I done…

Yeah so not having a computer. That sucks.  I do nearly everything on my phone. And like I wrote in my post ‘Living in a car‘ I struggle without electricity unless the cars running. We recently had to buy a new battery. We killed the last one. Dead. 
#firstworldfuckinproblems.

I could have worked a little longer instead of looking at all my possessions as a potential sale. I had itchy feet and no patience and I occasionally feel like an idiot for that now. 

I don’t have any material possessions to go back to. I have to start all over again. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if I hadn’t started from almost nothing. 

At one point in my life I was homeless but that’s another embarrasing story for another embarrasing time. I remember when I had to decide between spending £5 on electricity or food. When I get the money together to buy my own sofa bed I was pretty proud of myself. It wasn’t even that comfy. The second hand donated tatty thing some relative of a friend gave me was so much better. I was 17. I didn’t know how to buy goddam furniture. But I had started. And it felt like an accomplishment at the time. Now I’m at zero again. I’m not scared just midly annoyed. When I think about my travels, I’d sell everything all over again. Especially that stupid sofa bed. 

Thinking about all the nostalgic things I sold though. OMG. I will never have those things again. If I had given myself more time I could have sold some things (late 80’s early 90’s memorabilia) for a much higher price. For example I had a collection of original trolls, a lot of Pound Puppies, Pokemon cards and a limited edition Pikachu N64 which I think is my biggest regret. 

While I do have these odd feelings of regret about nostalic stuff I’m also thinking when the hell will I ever use that again?! It’s just stuff. I mean if I ever get to old age, yes I’m going to spend my retirement gaming. But not on an N64. I finished Pokemon Snap, thank you.

I’ve tried to adopt the Japanese method of thanking an item for its service and then letting it go (and yeah I probably read about this on one of those Pinterest posts too). It’s very effective and I recommend if you are a hoarder you give it a try.

There are thousands of posts and blogs with great advice on how to de-clutter your life. A few of my favourite…

De-cluttering can be immensely freeing. You don’t always feel as bogged down by stuff and it’s not as stressful as you might think. You just have to learn to let go. (Cue Disney song)

I’ve had a long rant about my painful lack of technology, starting from scratch and getting rid of toys my 10 year old self said I’d keep forever.

I haven’t really written about what I got in return. All the good stuff. The pros. Simple answer? I got extra money to travel. Aaaand..what you get from traveling is pretty hard to put into words. 

I’m not sure anyone really understands it until they try it. Those of you who have will understand. Those who haven’t, hopefully your curiosities will get the better of you!

There are tons of blogs telling you how to save/earn more money, like I said this isn’t one of them. Do some research. Knock yourself out. Here’s a few to start you off!

I may write one of my own in the future but it’ll definitely have a warning and a link to this post. I mean those posts are inspirational but life can be a little more complicated than that. As my rant may or may not have proved. 

You can commit to an idea and still have doubts. 

Something convenient at the time may prove inconvenient in the future. 

Current self is nearly always wiser than past self. 

Future self will possibly (hopefully) be wiser than current self. 

P.S I’m not sure the point of this post but if you made it to the end…. you’re welcome.