At the end of summer, I was lucky enough to travel to three beautiful places in Spain: Corella, San Sebastian and Bilbao. I’m feeling a little nostalgic today, or perhaps the reality of university is starting to hit me and I’m craving a bit of a mental step back from it all – either way, I thought this would be a good moment to look back over my street photography from my little September Spanish adventure.
Nestled away in Northeastern Europe, Latvia is perhaps an underappreciated country in the travelling community. However, this Baltic State has a lot to boast about, of which I only managed to glimpse a little of in the three days I spent roaming the cobbled streets of the Old Town, staring up at the remarkably decorative buildings and observing the traditional and much-hyped Song and Dance Festival that happened to be going on whilst I was there.
The overused phrase ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ definitely rings true when it comes to describing travel adventures; hence the start of my travel photojournal series… First up on the list is my rundown of Riga – the unassuming capital of Latvia.
During May I put out a post about how to make friends as a young solo female traveller. As I wrote that post, the word count started edging towards 2000 and I thought that it might be a good idea to break it into two. As the post took shape, it naturally split itself into tips for people travelling from place to place, never staying anywhere for too long, and advice for those attempting to settle somewhere slightly longer-term. The post I published before covered the first of these, whilst this post will focus on the latter.
When I was travelling in 2016, I did a mix of both things: I visited a couple of countries and places for a week or two at a time, and I also lived in Sydney, Australia for around four months. That’s not too much time, but it definitely felt like a different experience to the other places I visited. I got a job there, lived in a house and made a few more friends.
One of the main reasons people say they don’t travel is down to money. A lot of people out there will go on to claim that finances are just an excuse, and it is possible to travel with little to no money. While I’m not going to claim that it can’t be done, I am going to say that it does cost something to travel and everyone’s idea of ‘little money’ is different. Effective travel budgeting takes planning and experience to get right and I want to share some of the realistic things I’ve learnt that have saved me cash on the road.
Of course, the best way to truly grab yourself a budget travel deal is through complete flexibility with both time and place. In this ideal world, there’s no restriction on the time you spend away, what month you go abroad, or the destination you visit. Yet, I know this is not the case for most of us. There’s always something to get in the way. So each of the following ideas are adaptable to the amount of flexibility you have, and some will be more helpful for you than others.
I’m happy to announce the second guest post on my blog, by the lovely Linda from Travel Lit. In return, I wrote a post about how I used the internet to find farm work and friends in Hawaii at age 18. If this captures your interest, head on over to Travel Lit to have a read. It includes tips on finding these opportunities across the world and an account of my personal experience as a young solo traveller. But for now, stick around to read Linda’s story of travelling with anxiety…
It is unbelievable how many people are suffering from anxiety nowadays. And it is crazy how many people do not know that the cause of their weird, unexplainable problems is actually anxiety. So many of us feel unsafe, worried and constantly anxious and it keeps us from even the most basic daily chores. When it comes to traveling, leaving the house and heading into the unknown, anxiety tends to pull together all its power and hit extra hard. Well, I am no exclusion and I deal with it every day while constantly on the road. And, if I can deal with it and enjoy my travels to the fullest – anyone can. Let’s see how it attacks and how to overcome it for good! And most importantly, acknowledge that anxiety should not stop you from traveling.
As this post goes out to the world, my friend and I will be about to (hopefully) make it to Poland. As is the deal with all my June posts, this one is pre-written so there’s a chance I’m not where this post thinks I am. But, if everything goes to plan, I have spent several days exploring Athens and have now come across Europe to see the beautiful sights of Warsaw. From here, I will be hopping over to Prague, then staying in Amsterdam for a while before making my way across the pond to New York. If you haven’t already realised, this is a diverse adventure: packing things that suit all of the stops on this trip is not exactly going to be the easiest task.
But fear not. I have a little experience travelling (pretty) light, and I’m going to do everything I can to keep the weight down for this trip. After all, the carry-on limit on one of our planes is 8kg…
We’ve fully crept into June now – the sun is more persistent, and the clouds are shying away. At least, this is my prediction from pre-writing this post in the middle of May. Let’s be honest, it’s probably more likely that it’s raining on the day I post this, or we’ve got that weird weather which even Brits don’t know how to handle: half of us are strutting in shorts and making the slapping sound on the pavement with our flip-flops, and the other half of us have looked out the window and decided it’s a scarf day. I feel like this introduction is a little pointless, seeing as all of this is purely guesswork. How do people cope with scheduling posts? I’m never organised enough to do these.
So you’re probably wondering then, why did I write this post so long ago? Well, ladies and gentlemen, this is a skill I’m going to have to perfect over May (have had to perfect over May?) – wait, I am getting so confused. How do people deal with tenses in pre-written posts? Agh. Anyway, for the rest of June, and start of July, all of my posts are going to be like this. Well, hopefully not full of quite so many messy-and-confused vibes, but either way they will have been written in advance.
This is because I am going travelling! I had my last day at work in May, sent in my final university essays, and my friend arrived from Florida on 6th to begin our European/American adventure. I thought it would be nice to let you all know where I’m off to, considering it’s impacting my blogging schedule quite a bit…
Where are we going?
Sofia, Bulgaria… sort of
We’ll be having an eight hour layover here on the first leg of our journey and we’re hoping to get out of the airport to explore the city a little. I’ve heard lots of great things about Sofia, so if we like it we might have to pop back another time to do the city justice. Hopefully we’ll have time to see a couple of churches and roam the streets a bit before hoping back on the plane to…
I guess this will count as our first real stop on the trip. A city steeped in so much history, I’ve got pretty high expectations. Watch out Greece, you better impress me. Next up is…
Somewhere I have less expectations for but probably not justifiably. Poland has never been on my travel radar really, until I started seeing images of the beautiful cities and landscape. Apparently Poland has a lot to offer, but it’s kept that one quite quiet! After a few days, we’ll hop over to…
Prague, Czech Republic
I’ve heard a little bit about the amazing sights of Prague but have yet to experience them first hand. We have enough time here to relax and soak it all in, so hopefully the weather will be nice! Then we fly to…
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
This is the one destination on the list I have been to before, around eight years ago with my family, when I was twelve. I loved it then and I’m interested to see what it will be like going to the same place with a new perspective. Then we say bye to Europe and finish off with a week in…
New York City, USA
I’ve always wanted to go here, but honestly, who hasn’t? It’s seriously cliché to want to visit the Big Apple but I’m not denying it, so it’s fine, right? I think this will be a great way to end a trip across a whole handful of different cultures, landscapes and sights.
Picking the destinations
It might seem like this list of places has been pulled out of a hat, it’s so random. Actually, that wouldn’t be far from the truth. This trip took quite a while to plan, and went through several completely different itineraries to get to where it is now. In the end, it really came down to working out the cheapest option around a couple of conditions.
- We had to start in England
- We had to end in New York
- Amsterdam was a high priority (and coincidently the cheapest European city to fly to New York from)
- It had to be across June/July
With that information, I used Skyscanner to search for cheap combinations of flights to fill up our time gap between England and Amsterdam. Working forwards from the UK, there seemed to be several options, one of which was Greece, and working backwards from Amsterdam it seemed Prague was crazily cheap. It all kind of came together when I discovered Poland was one of the cheapest places to fly to from Athens and the cheapest place to fly from to Prague. That was it. Itinerary put together.
How much were the flights?
In total? I think I’ve paid around £500 for the six flights, including the two across the Atlantic. So that’s pretty great I’d say. Travelling doesn’t really have to be expensive if you’ve got flexibility on your side. If you’re happy to go to a whole range of different places, and have time to play about with your dates, then the flights don’t have to stack up into the £1000s.
For me, June is about more than just adventure; it’s about letting go, having fun and getting away from my hometown for a little bit. It’s time to reconnect with the carefree part of me that thrives on new experiences, and gets energy from doing rather than resting.
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I know, I’m doing a double take too. A travel post?! From me? What kind of crazy day is this? When I originally started this blog, I wanted to use the space to share lots of travel stories and tips, but found myself feeling a little sad whenever I started trying to write them. I was in a place where all I wanted to do was get on a plane somewhere and explore. And I couldn’t. But I think I’ve realised that now, and feel in a better mindset to positively talk about travel experiences, rather than wistfully. It also might have something to do with the fact that I’m going on some pretty epic travels in June… I’m getting pretty excited, not gonna lie.
Anyway, that is for another post. Today I want to talk about making friends. More specifically, making friends whilst travelling. I’m going to be honest here: this can be a tricky game to play. Trying to balance having fun adventures with the safety alerts going off in the back of your mind can be tiring. But I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be ridiculously complicated.
There’s a lot you can learn about yourself when lying absolutely and totally awake because someone in your hostel dorm room snores. This is a harsh truth I discovered on perhaps my fourth day in Sydney, seven weeks into travelling and on the precipice of the emotionally-taxing journey to find work, a place to live and friends in a new city.
Up until that point, I had mostly managed to miss out on the hostel experience, living a life of luxury some of the time and in situations more isolating and grimy other times. This included a friend’s family home, a room in a stranger’s suburban house, a tent pitched in the humidity of a Hawaiian farm and a whole floor (bathroom included) of a family friend’s cousin’s house. I’ll let you work out which of these fall into the luxury category and which of these fall painfully short of comfortable.
From July to November 2016 I lived in Sydney, Australia, in a room I shared with two girls I met in a hostel. I had moved out there alone and it was my first time solo travelling; as you can imagine, this was a period of intense ups and downs. The further I get away from those days, the more they become tinged in nostalgia and the more I want to hold onto those months I spent abroad.
I thought I’d write a short gratitude piece about some of my experiences there in a similar style to the 101 words I shared a few weeks ago about appreciating the January sunshine. In that post I mentioned how acknowledging small moments that make me happy in day to day life is one of my goals for 2018, so today’s post will be a paragraph of appreciation for my Sydney travel memories.