Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Top travel apps

As much as I hate to admit it, I really can't function without my phone. I have a terrible sense of direction, so end up being saved by Google on a daily basis, and I can get flustered or anxious if I don't have a way of contacting someone in an emergency.

My iPhone addiction increases dramatically when I'm travelling. Being lost sends me reeling at the best of times, and being lost in a country where I don't speak the language can send me into a full on melt down. Here are the apps I make sure I have downloaded before I leave for a trip.

Google Maps

Pretty standard, but an essential nonetheless, but be aware that your phone signal is dependent on your location so the app might not always work, and if your phone is anything like mine it'll drain the battery like a mother bitch. But for finding your hostel late at night or hunting down the closest bar, it's a God send.

Currency Converter

I found out how essential this one is for travel the hard way, Danish Kroner are completely different to GBP, and God knows what I ended up paying for a pint of beer. The one I use is a universal unit converter called Units Plus. Available for both android and iPhone, it's free to downloaded and doesn't require the internet so can be accessed anywhere.

Hostel World

Finding somewhere to stay while you're travelling can be a balls out nightmare, especially if you're like me and tend to just make things up as you go along. Hostel World is great for finding accommodation, and you can filter your results depending on your individual needs. A word of warning however, the cheapest option isn't always going to be the best. I've ended up wondering around Rome at 1 am after a low cost reservation fell through, and ended up paying double what I wanted just so I had somewhere to stay for the night. Read the reviews and follow instructions for each individual hostel and you'll be completely fine.

Just for the love of God lock up your stuff.


Similar to Hostel World, Airbnb makes find accommodation incredibly easy, and is great if you've had enough of sharing a shower with 11 other people and are craving some privacy. I only stayed in an Airbnb twice during my trip to Europe, and both times had amazing experiences. Hosts often offer discounted prices for longer stays, so it's worth planning ahead if you're thinking of staying in one place for more than a couple of days.


Yes, they may drive you mad, maybe they've sent you 25 texts asking if you're okay and you've already Skyped twice this week despite only arriving Monday, but call your damn friends/parents. They're going to worry about you whatever so get rid of the 'my contract doesn't work abroad' bullshit and WhatsApp them. You'll be surprised at how much they appreciate it.

Speak & Translate 

Okay, I admit it, it's not something I'm overly proud of, but I'm that person. The stereotypical Brit that has absolutely no understanding of any other language. Perfectly fine if you're ordering a beer, not so useful when trying to navigate your way around the subway. This app is quick and easy to use, and can help you feel like less of a tourist when you're trying to find your way around.


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Where next?

Last night I arrived home from a 10 day trip to Canada and I'm already itching to go on my next trip. Coming home so early wasn't exactly part of the plan, but everything happens for a reason and my savings need a serious boost, so I was going to have to fly back to the UK at some point anyway.

Since before I left for Europe in April, I already knew I wanted to go back. I spent most of my interailing trip visiting big cities, and I'm really keen to explore some of the more rural parts of Europe. Interail offer one country passes as well as global passes, and there's no way I'm passing up a month of travel around Poland for £54. 

Another country I'm desperate to head to is Vietnam. Absolutely no idea how it's made its way onto my travel bucket list, but its been there for quite a while. I can't imagine anywhere as culturally different to the UK as Southeast Asia, and I've already checked out the cost of flights in the new year. 

Next is Mexico. One of my closest friends an I had a conversation once about spending our days doing Yoga on a Mexican beach, and since then I haven't been able to get it out of my head. Visions of doing the downward dog while the sun sets might not be over realistic - but I'm sure I'll get to do it at least once.

In the mean time, it's home and the UK for me. My savings goal has been set, I'm about to start job hunting and my blog needs some serious work. I'd never thought I'd be the type to catch the travel bug, but now I'm so in love it hurts.


Friday, 9 June 2017

Interailing 101: Travel toiletries

When travelling around Europe, the amount I carried around with me decreased dramatically and what started as an obscenely large 14kg bag ended up being the bare essentials.

One of the first culls I made was to my toiletry bag. Normally I'm quite realistic about what I will need, but I found myself leaving so much behind as I'd fallen for the 'just in case' rule. Here are the absolutely necessary things I needed on my trip, and a few mistakes I made along the way.

These aren't necessarily the brands I took with me, just examples of the products I used.

Shampoo and conditioner

Absolute basics, and one I couldn't get rid of no matter how hard I tried to rationalise with myself that they weren't an essential. I'm quite lucky in that, thanks to how short my hair is, something this size can last me for quite a while, meaning I was able to take it in my carry-on. 

Shower gel

Another essential. I originally carried a bar of soap around with me, using it as both body and face wash. Turns out, bars of soap don't travel very well, and I ended up with a gross gammy mess that I had to get rid of. Although it may take up less space, they're far less practical and better swapped for a travel size bottle of shower gel.

Toothbrush, paste and floss

A few essentials I could never contemplate living without. My mum's a dental hygienist so luckily I have access to an obscene amount of travel-sized tubes of toothpaste and I went for a travel toothbrush that folds in on itself to take up less space. 

Face wash and moisturiser 

These were the only two things I purchased whilst travelling, as I found I missed them and needed to include them in my normal routine. Normally if you're unsure of something I'd say leave it and see how you feel along the way, but if a product is part of your daily routine, be sure to include it in your bag. 


For the good of both yourself and others.

Add in a nail file, clippers, talcum powder and a box of condoms and I was ready to go. 


Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Interailing 101: Packing

Earlier in the year, I decided to take advantage of the May bank holiday andtravellingling for a few weeks. My parents bought me an Interrail pass for my 25th birthday, and I spent my lunch breaks pouring over maps of Europe trying to plan out my route.

Inevitably, my plans changed and I decided that I wasn't enjoying my job and instead wanted to travel for a lot longer. Leaving at the end of my 3-month probationary period, I packed up my desk on the 13th and was on a plane to Berlin in less than 24 hours.

When planning my trip, I spend an obscene amount of time glued to YouTube, researching packing videos from channels such as Hey Nadine, One Girl One Suitcase and the vagabrothers trying to decide what I needed to bring with me, whilst wondering how on earth I would be able to carry my life around on my back for the next 4 weeks without causing irreparable damage to my already questionable spine.

What I didn't realise at the time was that I wasn't packing for my own needs, but instead those of the people I watched online. Whilst I thought I needed to go out and by a pashmina specifically to use as a towel/sarong (despite having no plans to step foot anywhere near a beach) what I really needed were things to enable me to enjoy my trip, without wanting for anything whilst I travelled around. I wasn't packing what I needed, I was packing what they needed, which ended up being a total waste.

Throughout my trip, the amount I travelled around with decreased dramatically. Here are a few packing tips and tricks I picked up as I went along.

Shoes, shoes, shoes 

Whilst I love me a 6-inch heel, I'd already ascertained that I'd have absolutely no need for a stiletto whilst backpacking. I rarely go out nights out and have a tendency to end up in agonising pain the morning after a night of dancing and drinking.

Scoliosis, hypermobility, sciatica and heels do not mix.

What I didn't realise that I'd hardly need any spare shoes at all. I started off with around 5 pairs, and this quickly decreased to 3 (including a pair of my trusty Primark flip-flops). Shoes are heavy, bulky and can take up far to much room in a backpack. If you're happy to wander around in one or two comfortable pairs then I highly recommend not taking any more. It hurt having to let my favourite boots and flats go, but it was nothing compared to the benefit I felt lightening my bulging bag.


Since learning to accept my scarred, lumpy and acne prone skin, I've dramatically decreased the amount of make up I wear and own. I used to spend millennia in front of my mirror trying to conceal my pockmarks and dark circles, but at 25 years old I've finally come to terms with the fact that my skin isn't changing anytime soon.

Because of this, the amount of makeup I took on my trip was already pretty small. Nothing overly adventurous, just a few bits to brighten myself up if I ever fancied it. I'm hardly a Maybelline rep after all.

During the course of my trip, however, my attitudes towards my skin changed even more.

I realised that, instead of increasing my confidence, slathering my face in an array of chemical concoctions each day only served to make me feel worse. Everything I drank would end up covered in lipstick, forcing me to check my appearance every 30 seconds to check I hadn't turned into the clown from American Horror Story: Freak Show. I'd end the day with charcoal dark smudges circling my pupils, and anything I applied to the rest of my face completely dissappeared by lunch. I was wasting my time.

Makeup was another thing I ditched from my pack, leaving it in hostels with a friendly 'free to a good home' label stuck on the front. Another tiny bit of weight taken from my bag, and a little treat for someone else.

Want verses. need. 

Whilst I found myself travelling around with a load of crap I didn't need, I also ended up missing a few things as well.

Early on I decided not to take my geriatric laptop away with me. It's being held together my prayer and wishful thinking at this point, loads slower than a 7am Monday morning Starbucks queue and ways 5lbs. I didn't want to risk losing it, and I knew it would hurt to carry around.

In the end, regular access to a computer was what I ended up missing the most. I find it very difficult to type on my iPad and therfore my plans to document my travels on my blog fell by the wayside. When packing your bags for travel it's important to include not only the things that you need, but a few things that you want as well.


Interrail and Eurail passes (for non-EU citizens) can be purchased from www.interail.eu and www.eurail.com. Prices start at 38 GBP for a one country pass and 180 GBH for a global pass.