Here’s What Else I Have Learned Through Travel Blogging in 2016

From how to make money while you’re traveling, to how to gain more traffic on your blog, and just about everything else in between, the amount that I have learned about travel, blogging, and myself over the past years has been immense and amazing.

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It’s been a little while though since my last “what I have learned” piece, so I decided it was just about time for a new one.

Names Matter

One thing that I have learned as I have been getting more and more knowledgeable about how people search for content that they feel is interesting – aka how people come across a travel blog – is that that first impression matters more than anything else. If I have a generic title like My Travel Blog, then it won’t really entice anyone to click and read through. I actually have been incredibly thankful for having been able to snatch the unique blog name that I have and being able to buy the perfect domain name to represent it. If you aren’t sure of how to go about this, use a site like this to see if the name you want is available, then have the option to snap it up right away if so! The power of a good name and domain is that people will not only find you in the search results, but find you intriguing enough to give you a read.

Tip: Try shortening you blog name too (you’ll probably do this a lot in email and communications – so it’s good to see how it sounds shortened). I wish someone had told me this, because my blog name, shortened, is TWATS. Haha. 

Use tools properly

There are some great tools out there for helping you come up with content, and also research content. When I’m stuck for ideas, I love using Google Keyword Planner. It helps you see what people are searching for, how many people are searching for it, and other useful info. When I dedicate time to properly researching these things, and probably using these tools – the end result is amazing. My blog posts end up ranking highly in Google, and then end up bringing in a lot of traffic. Which brings me onto my next point…

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Traffic Matters

These people coming to your site and reading it are actually a big deal if you are planning to make your blog a full-time career, or at least a successful side venture. Of course this doesn’t happen by just relying on your creative blog name alone; there are many ways to increase blog traffic, including things like SEO, marketing, and social networking. You should first educate yourself on some of these tactics and implement them into your blog. Once they are implemented, however, and you are seeing the number of people reading your blog increase, that’s when things get really interesting!

Don’t be restricted and stop putting pressure on yourself

At the end of last year I really wanted to start writing about other things (not just travel) so I set up an entirely new blog (The Elle-Rose Edit). Oh my gosh, I’m so glad I followed my heart. Now I have another place to write and be creative – without ruining the ‘travel theme’ of this blog I worked so hard to build. Never but restrictions on yourself – you can do whatever you want and write about whatever you want – that’s the beauty of blogging. If you want to branch out into a new topic – just do it!

Motivation is like gold-dust

As I have a full-time job, on top of my blogging work – I’m constantly searching for motivation. I’ve found that early mornings motivate me really well (there’s nothing quite as good as getting a to-do-list accomplished before 9am!) and the gym gives me time to think and time to organise my thoughts. When you find your own motivation techniques, stick with them, because motivation is gold dust and is so easy to lose!

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The future…

As I mentioned before, I originally started this blog to pretty much keep my Mum and my boyfriend Pad’s Mum informed of our life and adventures as we travelled. However, as it developed and evolved into the large project that it is now, I have learned that with a great amount of web traffic comes great opportunity.

Not only are people reading what I write and liking and sharing it, but because of my traffic and influence, I have brands approaching me to write. Whether it is a product review or an affiliate partnership, or I am being given vacation perks that form the basis for the next blog post, these opportunities have helped me to be able to keep travelling and writing about it, and have made the process even easier to accomplish. With all this new information at my disposal, I hope to keep on learning. It’s an incredible situation to be in – so lets hope it continues :)

Creative ways to document your travels

Whether it’s a European minibreak or a year-long voyage, travelling tends to be a bit of a whirlwind. As a blogger, I’ve become accustomed to capturing every last detail – from the most memorable eateries to how it feels waking up to the New York skyline – but I know how easily these things can pass us by. Some of my most prized possessions are my photographs and frames, and something I adore looking through is a scrapbook I kept whilst Pad and I travelled the world a few years ago.

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Living in the moment is an absolute must when it comes to experiencing new places, but preserving these memories for years to come is just as important. I want to be 80 years old and flicking through old photos and reliving amazing memories.

Here are some creative ways to document your travels and truly capture each and every adventure…

Start a collection

Only when I look back over the past few years do I truly realise just how many amazing places I have seen. Of course, keeping track of every trip is easily done with a list, but this doesn’t exactly make for great memorabilia. Collecting a small item from each place you visit is a great way to bring back the essence of each city or country, and marks another spot on the map that you’ve explored. I’ve started doing it with magnets (tip of the hat to my future mother-in-law, but I also collect a photobooth strip from holidays too). Aside from that, postcards, stamps, shot glasses and newspaper cuttings all make for cheap, lightweight and easily portable souvenirs.

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Keep a written journal

The internet is full of wonderful ways to document your travels, but some moments simply call for the good old-fashioned methods – like sitting on a deserted beach, for instance. A handwritten journal is one of the most personal ways to capture your journey, and the private nature of it makes it easy to jot down your thoughts without too much consideration. This doesn’t have to be a well-crafted log; simply brainstorm whatever comes to mind – where you are, what you can see, hear and smell, and how you’re feeling in that particular instance. Reading back over it in years to come will no doubt transport you back to those places and moments in time.

Here’s a couple of pages from my journal in 2012. I love reading it back!

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Take photos…

This might seem like a given, but taking photos is so important when it comes to freeze-framing each trip. In addition to all the customary shots of scenery and landmarks, I like to keep some less glamorous ones for my personal collection – a coach-journey selfie or amateur snapshot of that early morning coffee in the hotel often bring back the most vivid memories of how it actually felt to be travelling.

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…and put them in a scrapbook

Just as important as taking photos is printing them! This is something that often gets forgotten in the digital age, but photos are as good as wasted if you simply store them in a folder on your laptop. Use a service like Snapfish to print them out, and do something creative with them – fill a scrapbook with pictures, plane tickets and keepsakes, or put together a collage for your bedroom wall.

Use the internet

As previously mentioned, the possibilities for documenting your travels via the internet are endless. Social media is great for posting regular updates, but these might not be so easy to locate in the future, so I recommend creating a separate online space dedicated solely to your travels. With various packages available from 1&1’s free website builder, you can keep photos, videos and travel-related content in one easily accessible place. Even if you don’t fancy yourself as a blogger, creating an online log serves as a lifelong memento that you can continue to go back to, much like a virtual scrapbook.

Create a playlist

Last but not least, there is nothing like music to bring on overpowering waves of nostalgia. No matter where you go in the world, there will always be songs that remind you of a particular place or evoke certain feelings. Create a playlist of all the songs you associate with your travels, and be transported back to those wonderful places every time you listen to it.

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The problem with growing up.

I started this blog way back in 2012, when my boyfriend and I (he’s now my fiancé!) decided to pack up our London flat, and go travelling for a year.

Here’s a cheesy then and now photo, to illustrate how young we once looked…

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My main observation from before (left) and now (right) is how good Pad looks in a suit. And the fact he event owns a suit now (and will willingly wear it) may actually be the biggest change during the last 3 years.

This blog was something different back then.

It was a travel diary, a letter to friends back home and a way for me to remember all the amazing memories we were making.

I read back some of those blog posts, and it’s like being transported back there. I can remember every little details about the hotel room I wrote it from or the dodgy hotel WiFi I had to try and conquer to get it uploaded. Life during that year was this giant adventure, a different place every few days, flights, airports, beaches, food… basically a never ending supply of things to write about.

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Returning to London…

I knew when we got back to London (back to real life) that the blog would slow down a little. That wasn’t going to come as any great surprise. I wasn’t travelling anymore. When I had once been moving to a new country or city every few days, I was now settling in for the long haul and signing one-year leases on apartments.

For a while I kept writing about the places I had been to the year before, thinking of new angles, or thinking of things I’d missed at the time. I took so many photos, that I was never going to run out…. Surely?

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And for a while, it was working, and it still is I suppose. I got nominated and invited to The Cosmopolitan Blog Awards for ‘Best Travel Blog’. The traffic is better than it’s ever been (one thing I’m really proud of is how much traffic the blog receives) and I’m lucky to be listed often in ‘travel blogger round-ups’. I even topped my personal goal for Instagram followers this year.

But despite all that, the inevitable happened. 

I began to feel like a bit of a fraud.

It’s hard to feel like a travel blogger, when you’re barely travelling at all. And for the past two years I haven’t been really, because other things in life have taken priority.

Here are the trips I’ve taken in the last two years:

Summer of 2014: 4 night trip to Venice

Summer of 2014: USA Roadtrip (San Fran, Los Angeles and Las Vegas)

Christmas of 2014: NYC over NYE (we got engaged!)

February of 2015: 3 day city break to Berlin  

October of 2015: 7 night beach break to Ibiza  

November of 2015: 7 night birthday trip to Las Vegas 

This is probably a lot compared to some people (and I’m grateful everyday that I get to travel when I do) – but compared to before when we were constantly moving and exploring, and compared to other travel bloggers out there who are constantly on the road – it’s hardly anything. And I started to feel that in a big way.

They say ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ and I guess, that’s what has started to happen. I can’t keep up with other travel bloggers anymore, because I have other commitments, responsibilities, interests, hobbies, limitations – that make travelling much more difficult.

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So why isn’t it working?

Well, it’s not for want of trying. I’ve been offered many press trips this year, which would’ve boosted my travel count hugely – but having a full-time job has stopped me from being able to accept pretty much all of them.

I only have so many days holiday to work with now, and the days when I do go away, I want it to be with people I love.

We’re also planning a wedding at the moment, which is expensive. And even though the wedding may have stopped us travelling as much as we’d hoped, to be honest, I’ve loved every second of the wedding planning, and we have such an incredible day planned that it seems an equal trade-off for a few vacations.

But, non-the-less, it’s hard to be jetting off here there and everywhere, when you’re putting all your savings aside for something else. I’m sure it’s the same for people buying a house.

Is it time for a change? 

I think because of the nature of my blog, and being a ‘travel blog’, I’ve actually felt a bit ‘pigeon-holed’ into it this year. I’ve had so much ‘other’ stuff I’ve wanted to write about this year…

  • My wedding plans and all those little details I’ve been putting together.
  • Searching for a wedding venue, a wedding dress, the hilarious journey of finding a wedding dress. 
  • Weddings I’ve been to (we went to 5 this year). 
  • Budgeting for weddings (not exactly fun – but holy crap someone will find that info useful!).
  • Cooking and Baking.
  • Style and Home decor (my apartment is bloody gorgeous). 
  • Work stuff – I do creative stuff for work, and I’ve been desperate to share some of it. 

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But because none of this was ‘travel’ related I haven’t felt like it belonged on here. So it didn’t really belong anywhere.

Which brings me onto a decision.

It’s time for a rebrand. 

The truth is, I’m not a travel blogger anymore. I’m a blogger who sometimes travels, who knows a lot about travel and who LOVES travel – but who also knows and loves a lot of other stuff to. And whose life is a big messy mix of lots of wonderful things.

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I’m not sure when it’ll happen (hopefully soon) but it’s time for my blog to reflect how I’ve changed. This doesn’t mean an end to travel stuff, it just means a beginning to lots of other stuff.

I’ve grown up. I have responsibilities. I’m not a 22 year old living out of a suitcase any more, and actually I’m kind of good with that. I have a super awesome fiancé, and a soon-to-be best wedding ever, an amazing apartment in London, a job where I create cool stuff. Maybe the new tagline of my blog should be:

Sometimes I travel, sometimes I don’t. 

When I want to write about the cool snowflake jam-tarts I made, or the ridiculously delicious cupcakes Pad made – I want that to be OK and to belong on the blog just as much as a weekend in Europe or a road trip in America. I want to write about all the cool stuff I’ve bought for the wedding, and about colour-schemes and flat-lays and alls that other creative stuff I’m doing day in day out.

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Another small change…

I also noticed this year (and it’s probably another factor that has lead me to this decision) is that I don’t read many new travel blogs any more. I still have my favourites; Angie Silverspoon, Jess Gibson, The Everywhereist and Girl Tweets World and Pack your Passport – but I read these blogs because I know the women writing them are lovely and I’m interested in reading their adventures and seeing their photos, because it’s about them, not necessarily because it’s about travel.

I haven’t been doing much new-reading in travel this year, and I’ve barely discovered any new travel blogs.

The blogs I have loved discovering this year have mainly been lifestyle blogs, and that’s a big sign for me that it’s where my interest is leaning. I’ve loved reading Poppy Dinsey, The Processco Diaries, Girl Lost in the City, From the Corners of The Curve, The Londoner and a load more.

So we’ll see where it goes :) and where the blog heads. But hopefully it’s somewhere good!

Travel Stock Photos Vs Travel in Real Life

I wonder if stock photos are taken from some alternate universe where you can look fabulous at the airport, and being windswept is only ever in the glamorous sense.

Because they sure don’t line up with my own experiences of travelling…

Preparing to travel in stock photos… 

“Look at me in my perfectly ironed, no creases, outfit and my amazingly straightened hair”

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Preparing to travel in real life… 

“I woke up at 6am, I’m still half asleep, and that is why I’m only showing you my feet. It’s the only part of me that looks half presentable”

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Getting lost in Stock Photos…. 

“Hey best friend with equally amazing legs, let’s sit jauntily on this wall and look at this massively oversized map”

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Getting lost in Real Life…

“The map is clearly wrong. My feet are aching. Lets sit on the floor and I’ll use my expensive roaming data to figure out where we actually are”

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Getting windswept in Stock Photos… 

“Don’t mind me whilst I stretch out my beautifully tanned and shiny legs at the front of this culturally diverse wooden boat”

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Getting windswept in Real Life:

*Shouting over the sound of crashing waves and holding on for dear life*

“I JUST STRAIGHTENED MY HAIR IN THE HOTEL AND NOW IT’S BASICALLY A DREADLOCK AND I HAVE SALT WATER IN MY EYE!!”

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Making yourself at home in Stock Photos… 

“I’ll still leave everything in my case all neat and tidy, but rearrange stuff ever so slightly so it looks like I’m a real person living an exciting life”

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Making yourself at home in Real Life… 

“YEAH HOTEL ROOM!! A SEMI-PERMANENT BASE! Let’s unpack everything we own even if we’re just staying for night!!!!”

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Taking a selfie in Stock Photos… 

“Look how adorable we are”

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Taking a selfie in Real Life… 

“Maybe taking a photo on this cliff edge wasn’t such a good idea after all. Oh well, let’s follow through, I’ve got the camera out now”

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Experimenting with local dress in Stock Photos… 

“I am so damn sexy in my oriental dress and mysterious pose on the mountains”

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Experimenting with local dress in Real Life… 

“No we don’t actually want to buy 4 hats, can we just borrow them for a photo?”

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Roadtrips in Stock Photos…. 

“I literally could not look any cooler. With my vintage brightly coloured automobile and my retro luggage strapped on the roof. Best idea ever!”

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Roadtrips in Real Life… 

When you find a car that is below your budget…

“It’s from the 1970s? OK, age isn’t an issue, as long as it works!”

“It only has a cassette player? No worries, we can sing instead!”

“There’s no aircon? Sure thing we’ll just open all the windows!”

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Jumping for joy in Stock Photos… 

“OK everyone… After 3!!!”

“Yay it’s perfection! Look even the sun is in the middle of the shot!”

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Jumping for joy in Real Life… 

“OK, we’ve tried this like 10 times now. I’m really sweaty from jumping up and down and running to press the shutter button every 30 seconds. Maybe we should just steal one from Google Images?”

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Hanging out in a hammock in Stock Photos… 

“Let’s both of us hang out in this hammock and kiss and hug with no regards to the fact we’re both sitting in a hanging structure. Because it’s totally safe and not going to fall off or anything”

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Hanging out in a hammock in Real Life… 

“OK, after taking 15 minutes to gather the nerves to get in it, and then another 10 minutes figuring out how best to get in it, I’m finally in it. Take my photo quickly before I fall out”

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Having a picnic in Stock Photos…

“Let’s pack colour co-ordinating tea towels and picnic rugs and then eat fruit and healthy stuff that compliments the colour scheme of the fabrics we previous chose. Fun!”

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Having a picnic in Real Life… 

“Let’s get all the awesome unhealthy food we’d never usually buy and also BEER. Also if someone remember a towel or something to sit on”

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Trying out local delicacies in Stock Photos….

“Oooh I’ve never tried such amazing wine from this rare vineyard. Also check out the weather, it’s just amazing and exactly what you’d picture a vineyard to be like. How lucky for us”

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Trying out local delicacies in Real Life… 

“LOOK WHAT I FOUND!! IT’S JERKY MADE FROM KANGAROO”

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Jumping in water in Stock Photos…

“WE ARE SO INSPIRING AND INSTAGRAMMABLE RIGHT NOW!”

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Jumping in water in Real Life…

“Umm guys, I’m really sorry… But you might have to jump into that freezing cold lake one more time… I pressed the shutter too late”

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Souvenir shopping in Stock Photos… 

“Oh gosh, this culturally appropriate keyring will be just what Kevin wants”

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Souvenir shopping in Real Life… 

“Look I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but plleeeeaaaaseeeee?”

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Air travel in Stock Photos… 

“zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”

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Air travel in Real Life… 

“Maybe if I distract myself with the pretty view from the window, I’ll forget about how sleep deprived I am and how much leg room I don’t have”

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All stock images used, were sourced from Getty Images.

A few Q&As about me, my blog and travel blogging in general

I get a few emails a month asking me how I got into blogging, and asking my advice on setting up blogs, and how it all started for me… so I thought I’d put together a little Q&A blog post to answer some of the questions I regularly get asked.

Let me know in the comments if you have any more, or if I’ve left any unanswered! :)

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What kind of traveller are you?

My fiancé Pad and I like to travel far and wide (the further the destination is from home… the better!) – and as we’ve grown-up together we’ve grown to love luxury and travel comfortably. After travelling together around the world for a year (budgeting and saving), our travel style has grown-up just like our relationship has. At this stage in our lives, we’d rather have a week in a luxury hotel,  than have 3 weeks in a hostel.

On this blog you’ll find older blog posts with great tips on budgeting and long-term travel, but you’ll also find newer blog posts about one-off vacations in high-end hotels and resorts, and reviews and tips for luxury travel.

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How old are you? 

I’m 25 years old.

Where do you live? 

I live with my fiancé Pad in London. When I started this blog, we were travelling full-time, but now we have a permanent base.

You can see photos of our apartment by clicking here.

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How did you start this blog? 

I started this blog in September 2012, when my boyfriend (now fiancé!) Paddy Moogan and I set off on a ‘Round The World’ adventure. After a few (very long flights) we arrived at our first destination – New Zealand! After falling head over heels for NZ, and living there for 6 pretty incredible months (Queenstown – to be precise) the next stage of our journey began.

What was the next stage? Many more months of globe trotting – covering pretty much everywhere on our way home to London. We stopped off in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and the USA.

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Since returning back home to London, we’ve been travelling and vacationing as much as we possibly can ever since. On this blog you’ll find just about all information you need for any of the destinations we’ve visited…. as well as photos, random stories, reviews and other bits and bobs.

Do you blog full-time? 

No. I still have a full-time job in London and I now fit in all my travelling around my full-time job. I’m the social media manager for a quirky homeware brand (they’re called Tiger). I also do a lot of freelance writing for online publications and print magazines…. I’m a monthly bridal columnist for Inspired Bride Magazine for example, and I also write their honeymoon features occasionally too.

Here are some of places I’ve written for, or been featured in:

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Why do you love travel blogging? 

Because I love travelling and I love writing – the best way for me to do both of those things is to have a travel blog – it’s like the perfect combination.

I also love photography – and taking photos while I travel has always been a massive part of my life. Having a blog to keep and share all those photos is really important to me too.

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What is the hardest thing about travel blogging? 

At the moment the most difficult thing about travel blogging is finding the time to do it. Working full-time means finding the time to jet away is hard enough – never mind finding the time to write about it all afterwards.

Every blog post needs writing, researching – and every photo in the post has usually been edited too (I have a very distinct style of photography so I like to make sure the filters and effects stay consistent). There is then the job of keeping on top of emails from travel brands, and potential blog partners (I get around 20 emails per day about the blog), and keeping social media updated too.

All of this is very time consuming, and it’s sometimes difficult to fit all this in around my already very busy schedule! But I manage – and it’s always worth it!

Do you only travel with your fiancé? 

Most of the time – yes! He’s my number one person, and travelling is always brilliant with him. I do still head away on vacation with my amazing friends and family though, like my trip to Venice with Harriet last year, or my weekend away in paris with my sister Bekah.Variety is the spice of life!

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How has your blog influenced or changed your writing and journalism career?

Blogging has given me loads of opportunities to write for some amazing publications, and it has made me more well-known within the journalism industry too. For anyone who would love to make journalism their career, I would always recommend setting up a blog.

Why? It’s lets you practise your passion, and it’s proof for employers that you can write and you love doing it. Remember that a blog can be about anything… travel, fashion, make-up, style, life in general, DIY… literally – if you can do it, you can blog about it.

What are you most proud of? 

I’m mega proud of the blog as a whole – the design of it, the success of it and just being able to say ‘Hey, I made that, it’s mine” – that’s a pretty awesome feeling.

Aside from the blog, I’m really proud of some great coverage the blog got recently on The Daily Mail, The Metro and Good Morning America after they spotted my ‘thumbs up‘ story from around the world.

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Oh, and I’m very proud of my Instagram channel (click here to follow me!) where my followers have been growing massively since I set up the account. I’m nearly about to hit 5000 followers and that’s unreal. It’s seeing things like this happen that make all the hard work so worth it :)

How to make money when travelling – my personal advice

As a travel blogger, I receive a few emails per week, asking about money – how I make it and how I finance a lifestyle of travelling.

It’s definitely a topic that lots of people want to know about and whilst I have my own tried and tested ways (which I’ll mention below) there are lots of other ways I know have worked for other bloggers and other travellers too. The truth is – everyone will fund their travels a different way. It depends on the kind of travelling you want to do, the budget you have, and the places you want to go.

I’m no longer a wandering traveller – as I have a permanent job and base in London, but a couple of years ago I was travelling the world with my boyfriend, and both of us were making money on the go. So I hope I can give some good advice!

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Here are the money-making methods that have worked for me…

Writing and blogging

The great thing about writing is – you can do it any place – so long as you have a computer (and WiFi). Obviously, this makes it a fantastic money-making-method for travellers. When I travelled with my boyfriend Pad for a year, this was my main way of making money – and I loved it.

Believe it or not – brands are always looking for people to write and blog for them – because blogging and content are becoming very powerful tools for marketing. If writing is something you’re skilled at – I’d suggest learning a little about content marketing (what the industry is, what brands are looking for…) and then contacting brands speculatively asking if they require anyone like you. Never be afraid to confront them about work. Being cheeky often works – if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

I’ll often look for brands I admire, that perhaps aren’t playing to their strengths in terms of blogging or content. If I know I could do an awesome job – I’ll email them and tell them just that. You’d be surprised how often it works.

Our 'hotel-room-office' when travelling in Oz. MESSY!

Our ‘hotel-room-office’ when travelling in Oz. MESSY!

Social media management

As someone who has spent their entire career in social media, it’s something I’ve gotten pretty good at along the way – and is now a skill I can sell. I manage the social media pages for small brands and big brands on a freelance basis (and permanent basis) – and even though I’m permanently based in London now – that wasn’t always the case.

When I was travelling a couple of years ago – social media management was a brilliant way of making money on the move. As with writing – it’s something you can do anywhere – so long as you’ve got a computer and a half decent internet connection. Don’t take this kind of work lightly though as it comes with a lot of hard work, round the clock monitoring – and responsibility. After all, once you start managing someone’s social pages, you’ve become the public voice of the brand. Where there is no room for muck-ups.

If it’s something you want to pursue, then you’ll need to get experience first. If your friends own any small businesses, maybe you could help them manage their pages? Or better still, set up your own social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are all good places to start) and start reading industry blogs too – because all that will help you become knowledgable. Social media changes almost weekly – and you’ll need be on top of this to be taken seriously in any professional context. It’s a lot of work.

What has worked for other people?

Hospitality work in bars, restaurants and cafes

This is one of the obvious choices – as it can be as casual as you’d like it to be, a bar job might last2 weeks or 2 months. Depends how long you want to stay in one place!

It’s fantastic for travellers too – because it’s the perfect way to meet new people and get to know the area. My one piece of advice here though – is to get-smart about job hunting. Randomly handing out CVs doesn’t quite cut it in many tourist-spots, and might just be wasted effort. There are job sites out there which specifically cater (haha pun intended!) to hospitality jobs only (Leisure jobs is one example to check out) and if you’re applying for jobs through sites like this, at least you know the place is actually hiring – and the right person is receiving your CV.

I remember when I was working in bars and restaurants, if someone came in with a CV, we’d just toss it in a drawer and it would never even get looked at by the manager. Applying online means you can ensure it gets seen.

House-sitting

I’ve never actually done this, but it seems like an awesome way to make money and sort out accommodation. basically, when people with big houses go away – they often need someone to look after the house, the gardens and sometimes the animals. You can actually get paid for this… I know, amazing right?

If you’re interested in this route of travelling and money-making, then I’d recommend checking out The Globe Trotter Girls, who are two bloggers based in the US, and also self proclaimed experts on house-sitting. Their blog has a load more information on it than I could ever fit in here, so just go take a look. There are so many useful bits of advice on there.

Here are some other websites with info about house-sitting too:

Housecarers.com

Mindmyhouse.com 

Trustedhousesitters.com

San Francisco tourist photos

You never know what kind of house you might find…

Photography

If you’re a dab hand with a camera, you can sell photos no matter where in the world you happen to be. And the best thing is, there are quite a few options you could take.

Flytographer hire freelancers in specific cities all over the world for one-off projects – so that’s pretty cool. But if you like to keep things simple – you can always go down the tried and tested route of selling stock images. I’ve been wanting to do more of this, as there’s a lot of money in it potentially. I wrote a post on my blog the other day about the best places to sell images online – so take a read of that for some ideas, there are so many sites you can choose from, each having varying levels of profit, etc.

As you’d probably guess, travel photography is always in demand, so it’s well worth a look at. You could be sitting on a gold-mine!

Stock photo websites love shots like this one I took in the USA.

Stock photo websites love shots like this one I took in the USA.

Web Design and technical stuff

This is similar to writing and social media – in that you can do it anywhere – so long as you have a good computer and a half decent internet connection. People will always need web designers (until web designing robots are invented, anyway)  so if this is something you can do – then you might want to look into doing it freelance. Even training people to create their own WordPress sites, could earn you big bucks on the go. You could do the training over Skype too – so no need to worry about being in the same country or timezone.

A few other ideas: 

– You could be an Au Pair for a family and get room and board (plus weekly spending)

-You could make money translating foreign menus into English

– You could do a summer camp program and then travel afterwards with the money you earned

– Good at cutting hair? You could do haircuts in hostels!

– In Australia? Fruit picking is always an option!

– Teach English in a school! You’ll need the right qualification, but if you have then or can get them – this is great, rewarding work

 

The 8 stages of Jet Lag

Stage 1: You get off the plane – for 1 hour all tiredness is cast aside in favour of excitement. 

Common symptom of Stage 1: Hopping around in excitement and using the word ‘yay’.

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Stage 2: You resolve to stay awake until ‘bed-time’ in your current location. 

Common symptom of Stage 2: Constant and severe yawning.

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Stage 3: You begin the agonising wait until ‘bed-time’. 

Common symptoms of Stage 3: Talking about bed way too much, day-dreaming about bed, falling asleep in random places.

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Stage 4: You climb into bed like it’s the best thing you’ve ever climbed into in your life. Which it is. Oh my god it so is.

Common symptoms of Stage 4: Hogging of the duvet, dead-to-the-world-ness and snoring

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Stage 5: You wake up in the middle of the night, with no idea how you got there, where you are or what time it is…. followed by relief and excitement that you’re allowed to go back to sleep. 

Common symptoms of Stage 5: Panic, confusion, followed by relief.

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Stage 6: You try to go back to sleep (you try and try) – but your body is having none of it. 

Common symptoms of Stage 6: Insomnia.

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Stage 7: Morning arrives, and you’re just as exhausted, sleepy, sick and tired as you were the night before.

Common symptoms of Stage 7: Grumpiness and general hangover-like feeling.

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Stage 8: You resolve to stay awake until ‘bed-time’ in your current location…. 

And the cycle continues… Welcome to the world of travelling and jetlag.

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Travel apps I couldn’t live without. Seriously.

If you’d have asked me a year ago what travel gadget I couldn’t live without, I don’t know if I’d have even had an answer – I’m not a big gadget person to be honest. But after my boyfriend Pad upgraded his iPad, his old tablet got passed down to me and now I can safely say, my iPad is quickly becoming my most valued (and needed) travel gadget.

So just in case Santa is reading: I’ve started looking online in places like Argos for something for myself, something as fancy as a Samsung Tab 3 or one of the brand new Apple tablets. Anyway… I figured I’d pop together some of must-have apps, that I use and abuse on my tablet, and couldn’t travel without…

Trip Advisor 

I’ve become one of those annoying people who won’t book a thing without checking Trip Advisor first. I get way more from looking through real customer photos, than I do the professional ones – and I’ll obsess about every review until I’m sure somewhere sounds perfect. It’s not just for booking hotels though – I check restaurants and activities too. I have a problem. I know. I’m working on it.

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Google Maps

I’m awful at natural finding my way somewhere – but holy crap am I good at maps. I love maps. Sometimes I’ll get lost, on purpose, just to whip out a map and find my way back again. I also like to sneakily look at a map, and then pretend to my boyfriend Pad that I’m just a real natural at directions. I don’t think I’ve fooled him yet, but it’s fun trying.

Sky Scanner

I don’t use any other flight booking portal. This is my favourite and one true love.

iTunes

I have a guilty secret. No matter where I go in the world, I like to finish my day with an episode of Friends. I must have seen every episode 100 times or more. Luckily Pad is also fond of the show (the relationship probably wouldn’t work out if he wasn’t) and when we go abroad our iPads become our tiny little Friends screen. We ignore local TV most of the time (unless we’re in the USA, because let’s face it the USA has AWESOME TV) and watch Friends instead. Again and again. And I need iTunes for this. So it makes my list.

Air BnB

My favourite accommodation site for grabbing a bargain in big cities. AirBnB have the local-style accommodation that Pad and I love and their website and app are beautifully designed, which makes me love them even more.

Our AirBnB in NYC

Our AirBnB in NYC

Uber

The taxi firm taking the world by storm – I LOVE UBER. I would have Uber’s babies if Uber were a man. When we were in San Francisco in the summer (where, by the way, public transport sucks) we hopped in more Ubers than I could count. And it was sooo cheap. And quick. Seriously, just download it, it’s so good.

City Mapper

Again, another life-changing app for city dwellers and city breakers. They’re breaking out into lots more cities now too, so it’s only going to get better and better which is great. I’d recommend anyone who visits / frequents cities to download this app. Even if you’ve lived in London for 5 years, this app is still incredibly helpful.

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VSCO

A lovely little image editing app that gives a little more control over filters, etc, than Instagram. Once you’ve edited them you can pop them in Instagram too – so that’s awesome. There’s also a good community of lovely photo people to engage with!

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From one blogger to another…. #Zoella

I’m not sure if you’ve come across blogger and vlogger Zoella – she specialises in lifestyle and beauty tips, and her videos live on YouTube. She one of many vloggers out there – but she’s one that is doing extremely well and has managed to make a career from her hard work. I’m not one of Zoe’s 6 million subscribers but hell, I can recognise an achievement when I see one, and I can respect someone for having built a community and following that big.

She’s clearly talented, innovative and digitally savvy – proved by everything she’s achieved, and is still achieving. Such as being the digital ambassador for charity Mind. She has a Penguin book deal. She has her own bespoke beauty range.

Did I mention she’s only 24 years old? 

To me, all of that is pretty inspirational. Not just for young women, but for men too – and for teenagers and for adults. Her story is one of hard work. Doing something you love, and making a career out of it. And doing it all yourself.

Anyway the reason I’m writing this, is because today, The Independent released this article (click the image to read it in full):

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I’m sure Chloe Hamilton is a smart girl, but publishing this article (in my opinion) was a stupid thing to do.

Why? Because even if Zoella isn’t your cup of tea, it’s pretty clear she’s a role model. It’s pretty clear she’s a hard worker, and it’s pretty obvious she’s doing pretty well in life. Just a quick Google will show you those things.

Just because Zoe hasn’t built her following by working at a newspaper first, doesn’t make her achievements less. In fact, it probably means more, because she’s done it all herself. Let’s just take a second to appreciate the time and effort that must have taken. 6 million isn’t a small number, FYI.

Also, it’s fine to have a voice and express your opinion. Chloe is allowed to not like Zoe’s brand. That’s fine. It’s personal taste. Just don’t be nasty about it.

Notice how I am currently critiquing Chloe’s article, that I disagree with – without being nasty or hateful towards Chloe herself. I’ve even stated above she’s probably very smart (she writes for the Independent, which is a big achievement). It can be done. You can be critical and give feedback without offending or belittling some and their accomplishments.

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What isn’t fine is insulting someone you don’t even know on a personal level in a national newspaper… just because you don’t like the type of business they’ve built for themselves. It’s none of your business. Don’t watch her videos if they bring you out in hives. It’s that simple.

I secretly hope Zoe does a special video tonight for hives remedies. Just to be the bigger person. 

It’s not OK to say these things about someone:

Her eyes are enormous. She looks like a startled bird. 

[Her name is] so irritatingly Disney-fied it makes my stomach churn.

Zoe’s (sorry, Zoella sticks in my throat and on my keyboard) particular brand of sickly sweet girl power brings me out in hives.

When are women going to stop stamping on each other, and start supporting each other instead?

When are we going to be able to praise a young woman in business, instead of slamming her down for just about everything we can think of?

And then, she pokes the stick at bloggers in general… 

And if I wasn’t already a bit annoyed, this is what really got me.

Blogging isn’t easy. It’s hard.

To make a great blog takes time, energy and knowledge of various online practises (such as WordPress, social media, SEO, online PR). You know what else it takes? A whole lot of hard work. I know this because I’m a blogger myself, and my blog isn’t half the size of Zoe’s – so I can’t imagine the amount of time and maintenance hers must demand.

But according to Chloe, Zoe has “trodden an easy-peasy path to fame and fortune”. 

No Chloe. 

Blogging isn’t ‘easy-peasy’. It might be enjoyable and fun – but it’s not easy. Especially if you’re posting the sheer amount of content Zoe is, and you’re engaging with a community of 6 million subscribers.

Anyway. That’s all I wanted to write. Rant over.

I’m disappointed in The Independent for publishing an article so damaging and so unjustified. Just because a young woman has risen to fame through her self-made blog (and not through a traditional career path, such as writing for The Independent for example) – doesn’t make her less worthy of the praise she deserves for being a smart, independent and successful business woman, and role model.

It’s also not nice to insult people. Especially if you’ve never met them.

Well done to The Telegraph for publishing this article shortly after, and fighting her corner. Rightly so.

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But hey, in the end, Chloe has done Zoella’s brand a favour.

She’s now trending worldwide – with pretty much every tweet jumping to her defence.

Learning how to live with a holiday allowance

As a student and during my year travelling after university, I never had to worry about a holiday allowance. Summer holidays were weeks and weeks of endless time for wasting away – and the possibilities were endless (so long as you’d saved up enough of that left over student loan).

As an adult it’s much more difficult – and the one thing I struggle with is the holiday allowance.

I just hate having a cap on my freedom (which is what a holiday allowance feel like most of the time).

25 days? I COULD SPEND 25 DAYS IN ONE PLACE IN ONE GO.

But 25 is actually pretty lucky. In my first job I had only 20 days (ouch) and I know US friends who have even less than that.

I thought I’d write about how to make the most of those precious allotted days, and also thought I’d put feelers out to see if anyone had any clever tricks and tips for making the most of them – which I hadn’t thought of yet. So please leave me suggestions in the comment section 😉

1. Make the most of weekends

If you book 5 days off from Monday to Friday – you technically get a 9 day holiday, if you include the two weekends either side. This is stretching your allowance that little bit further, which is what everyone wants!

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2. Bank holidays are your friend

March and April in the UK are bank holiday hot-spots (especially Easter). I know prices always go up around this time, but making the most of those 2/3 free-days is crucial. It potentially means you could have a mini getaway without using any of your allotted holiday days. Bonus!

3. Find short-haul locations that feel like they’re long-haul

For me, I love the feeling of jetsetting far away, but I know that the time it takes to travel – and the time jetlag can waste away isn’t the most efficient solution to my itchy feet. If you can get somewhere in a few hours, that feels far enough away to satisfy that wanderlust, then not only do you avoid jet lag (hurrah!) but you save time and holiday days too. Last week Pad and I took a 5 hour over-night train journey to Cornwall. It was amazing to be somewhere completely different in so little time, and without the jet-lag and airport stress.

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4. Negotiate un-paid vacation days

Some companies will let you take unpaid vacation days, if you’re absolutely desperate to jam in a little more travelling. Sure – you won’t get paid for those days like you would normal vacation days – but if you have seriously itchy feet, this could be the way around it.

5. Use the time-difference to your advantage 

If you’re travelling long-haul then keep in mind the time difference – and try and think how you can use this to your advantage. For example, when flying to Asia or Thailand from the UK, you actually arrive maybe a day (or two sometimes!) after you took off (technically speaking) so you loose a bit of time there. On the way back however, you gain that time back, which is pretty handy for getting over the jet-lag before starting work again.

6. Make use of business trips

Some people travel for work to pretty nice places (my boyfriend often goes to the States for conference speaking) and when this occurs, he’ll often book some vacation days either side and spend time in the city he’s flown into. It means he gets some time in a new city.

 

Top 15 sites to sell your photos online

I take a lot of travel photos (it comes naturally, being a travel blogger!) and I’m always thinking of ways that those photos can make me money. I love the photos I’ve taken, so surely other people would too?

Here I’ve put together a big list of websites where you can sell your travel photos online, some are big companies you’ll have heard of – others are smaller companies – that might make a better choice if you’re taking this on as a side project for extra ‘pocket-money’. Either way – these are all great places to sell your photos online – so get reading!

iStock Photo

Sell your images through iStock Photo and you’ll earn a royalty rate of 15% for each download. There is also an option to become an exclusive contributor and earn up to 45% instead, which is pretty impressive. These website has a good community feel to it – there are lots of forums and group discussion, which really helps when you’re trying to figure out which of your photos will sell online better than others.

Art Storefronts

Learn how to sell photos online as fine art, and get your own eCommerce website with must-have features to increase your art sales.  This is a robust website platform for professional photographers focused on selling their images as art prints.  They provide first-class educational resources, and a step-by-step Success Plan to ensure that you follow best-practices.  You can print and fulfill your own orders, choose your own lab, or use one of their labs for automated print fulfillment (“print on demand”).  There is also a members-only forum where all customers share ideas, sales strategies, and receive guidance
from industry experts.

SmugMug

This website is a lot like an online gallery or portfolio – with the added benefit of being able to sell your photos online via the tool too. It’s great as it has two purposes. The first (of course) to sell your photos, the second – to make them look awesome. And you’re more likely to sell more photos online, the more professional and awesome you’ve got them displayed.  You can set your own pricing and you get to keep 85% of the markup – but that’s not all, as well as selling digital downloads, you have the option of selling prints and greetings cards too, which is good for those of us who want more selling options.

Alamy

On Alamy photographers earn a whopping 60% royalty fee on any images they sell, so it’s easy to see why this website is such a popular choice when it comes to selling photos online. It’s one of the world’s largest stock photo libraries – so you’l have a fair bit of competition,  but maybe that’s a good thing and will help you step up your game!

Stockxpert

This is one of the smaller websites on the list, but still offers a great reach for beginners – so would make a fantastic option for anyone wanting to dip their toe into the world of selling photos online. The royalty isn’t too bad either – you’ll get 50% of the price of each photos you sell.

Dreamstime

Dreamstime is a microstock agency, and one of the best there is. Aside from being easy to use, it is well thought of and reputable too – which is just as important when making the decision of where to sell your photos online. Before you start selling, you’ll need to get your images approved by their editors (which can be a long process) but once you’ve been approved and you’ve got the hang of it, a rate of 25-50% royalty is yours for the taking.

PhotoShelter

This is perhaps one of the more well known options on this list, and if you like the idea of selling your work (but at the same time want to retain complete control and pocket more of the profit – who doesn’t want those things?) you could consider setting up a professional photography website with built-in ecommerce from PhotoShelter. The PhotoShelter system is modern, and will make your images look beautiful.

Crestock

To start selling with Crestock, simply sign up to their website, follow through the easy registration process… and you’re good to go! They’ll give you 30% royalty, so once the images have been approved by staff you may be able to start selling images within the week!

Fotolia

I like Fotolia for its convenience, fair royalties and expansive market reach. Sign up and present your work to more than four million image buyers around the world, around the clock and you’ll notice your images start selling quickly and seamlessly. Each time one of your photos sell, you earn a royalty of between 20% and 63% of your sale, which is immediately added to your Fotolia account – which takes away any money hassles.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock is a highly ranking website which means it likely gets a lot of online traffic – perfect for making sure you sell your photos! Shutterstock also have an approval process in place – and you’ll have to submit ten initial images for approval before you can proceed with any others. But no fear! There are many online forums on their website where you can pick up hints and tips for getting this right first time. With Shutterstock you’ll earn between $0.25 and $28 each time an image of yours sells, depending on the licence.

123RF

With this site, their royalty structure is based on your contributor level, which is quite unique. It basically means, the more images you upload, the more you can earn – good news for anyone who plans to commit to this full-time. The amount you receive could rise from 30% up to 60% if you are particularly active on the site – so get started quickly and build up your reputation.

Can Stock Photo

Can Stock Photo offers photographers a 50% royalty fee which is great if you’re just starting out. Once you’re a member it’s easy to submit images and you can get going almost immediately.

Zenfolio

Zenfolio allows you to create a portfolio site of your work, a little like Smug Mug mentioned above. You can upload photos, create galleries, password protect galleries, and make your photos available for purchase – a great option for wedding and event photographers where you might make several sales off the back of one event. There is a 14-day free trial available if you want to give it a spin first.

Red Bubble

This is a more quirky one, but I wanted to include it! If your images are more VSCO and Instagram friendly – than studio lighting and fake smiles, you may find the audience on Red Bubble more interested in what you have to sell. They don’t just sell images, it’s all about the products too – so you could sell canvases with your images on, for example.

Snap Market

This is a bargain stock photo website, so the amount you’ll make will be less per image – but if people buy in bulk, it may end up equalising anyway. With a less strict submission process that other big names on this list, it may be a good option for anyone wanting to test the water.

To see examples of my own photos that have sold well online, I’d love you to take a look at the following blog posts – they can be really helpful for inspiration (especially if you take travel photos too!): 

A photo for everywhere I went in 2013

Central park, NYC, in Autumn

The beautiful windows I found in Venice, Italy

Bondi Beach Street Art, Sydney Australia

Photos of Santa Monica, USA

San Francisco and her city streets

Must see things in Sydney, Australia

Here’s my must-see and must-do list of things in Sydney, Australia. It’s a city I adore and hopefully you will too after you’ve been to all these places!

The little gallery below is something I’m playing around with and experimenting with, so just take a scroll through and let me know what you think!


Must see: Sydney by Elle-Rose Williams on Exposure

Proof that we all look stupid sometimes.

When you take as many photos as I do when I travel – some of them are bound to go wrong / be crap / look awful.

Sometimes it can just be near impossible to get all the right elements into place for the perfect snap, whether it be too much rain, wind or even laughter…

Here are a few of my favourite out-takes.

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This shot took a couple of times to take, but the end result (where we look normal) is nowhere near as good as these two. First the yawning… then the laughing at the yawning. It’s all fun in Hong Kong.

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The photo below is from The Great Ocean Road in Australia where, incase you hadn’t already guessed, it’s really windy. This is one of my favourie photos from our time in Australia for the simple reason that it’s utterly ridiculous and we both look like morons.

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And another shot from just down the road, looking just as windswept. I’m not sure what my hair is doing here, but I’m pretty sure it’s not good…

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Bad lighting is something I’m usually pretty good at avoiding, but occasionally you can’t predict it. I took the photo below on the strike of midnight as we watched the fireworks in Sydney. We were so close the fireworks that the camera picked up on all the light and it messed up the shot.

I kind of love this photo more than any of the others though because of all the crazy colours, and for the very reason other people might have deleted the shot. It sums up the night for me and the magic view we had.

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Sometimes you can’t predict what’s going to happen when you take a photo. One minute you’re taking a nice photo and smiling, and the next you’re bricking it because Thailand is dangerous and everyone drives like a maniac. Luckily Pad was on hand to capture the change in emotion!

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Accidental zoom is always annoying. I took the photo below without realising the lens was slightly zoomed. The result? a headless boyfriend. Oops.

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Another example of never knowing what’s going to happen, here is Pad struggling with an umbrella on Hamilton Island in Australia. He’s handling it like a pro, as you can see.

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And finally, the last two photos – are fine examples of why having long hair is only ever a hassle!

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Competition: WIN a gorgeous summer holiday hamper

I don’t blog about clothes very often (in fact, I think this might be the first time I’ve ever crossed over into fashion!) but I love fashion and putting together my holiday wardrobe is usually one of my favourite parts of travelling.

I spend months stalking my favourite stores online before I’ve even booked the flights sometimes! Looking for and finding the perfect dresses, kaftans, shoes (you name it) for where I’m headed makes me even more excited for the trip itself. My boyfriend often makes fun of me, as I usually start packing more than a week before our flight is even due to leave.

I always need a good balance of summer dresses, going-out dresses, comfy ‘plane’ clothes and a range of sensible (and not so sensible) footwear. And most importantly I always like to have an amazing selection of poolside stuff that I could swap and change on different days. Especially on a beach holiday when you spend most of your day by the pool – it’s nice to find some gorgeous pieces for then too.

Win some summer goodies… 

Nardis Beach has been my holiday secret for a while, but to celebrate the last of the summer sun I thought I’d let you in on it – and give you the chance to win one of their beautiful Kaftans too…. it’s always hard to pass up the chance to have a nosy at their collection (it’s gorgeous) and the piece I’m giving away is one my my personal favourites. I knew you ladies would love their stuff, so I decided to run a mini-competition for you to enter!

This particular kaftan is light and floaty and very flattering. It’s as light as a feather too – so quick to dry and won’t eat up your luggage allowance…. which is always a crucial point for me!

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If you win, not only will you receive a brand new, beautiful Nardis Beach Kaftan worth £165 and absolutely lush (click here to see the product page on their website) but you’ll also receive a mini-hamper of goodies from myself, full of all the little things I’d never leave home without if I was going away.

It’ll be a lovely little treat to end the summer with!

How do you enter?

You can enter really easily using the app below – there are a few ways to enter, the more you do – the more chance you have of winning. Yay!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WIN an Autographer camera! Your new travel BFF.

Autographer is this awesome little wearable camera (the world’s first) and it automatically decides when to take photos throughout your day. So you literally just need to clip it on (maybe to your top, your handbag, whatever) and then go and enjoy yourself. 

It’s such a fun product and it’s so suited to my interests of travel and photography. It’s the perfect little travel companion (if travelling is your thing) but it’s also a great little camera for families and events too.

To celebrate the launch of their new Autographer Mount Adapter (read more about that here) and the fact that the camera is now mountable to tripods too (which is really cool, and means you can do time lapse, etc), they are looking for the perfect #candidmoments photograph, submitted by you.

There will be four winners chosen, with each lucky winner receiving an Autographer wearable camera (worth £299), a Mount Adapter (worth £30) and a tripod or mount to go alongside. For example, this might be a bike mount for capturing amazing journeys or a tripod for capturing amazing sunsets and time-lapse sequences. I even set mine up on the tripod during a BBQ and didn’t have to worry about a thing all night – because I knew the camera was doing the hard work for me.

Here are a few of my favourite Autographer photos:  

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How do you enter?

We’re looking for images that reflect the same spontaneous, candid, naturalness that Autographer so easily captures.

The perfect #candidmoments.

You can enter via Twitter and Instagram, and the process is really simple…

1. Ensure you’re following Autographer on the platform you’ve chosen to enter via. You can find our social profiles here:

Twitter: @Autographer

Instagram: @Autographer

2. Upload your photo, making sure you tag @autographer and use the hashtag #candidmoments

3. That’s it!

Fancy taking a look at other people’s entries? We’ll be uploading our favourite entries to our Pinterest board ‘Candid Moments’ throughout the competition and there are already some great entries on there already :) 

A panel of judges here at Autographer will decide on the winners and the final 4 will be announced on social media on Thursday 31st July.

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And to inspire you even further, here are a few Autographer photos from my recent trip to Venice! :) For me I love the wideangle lens, which is perfect for travelling as it means you don’t miss any of the details, but it also gives the photos a unique look and sets them apart from others. 

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And here are a few examples of using Autographer to create Instagram videos and time-lapse sequences: 

My next trip…. Is VENICE!

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When I visited Las Vegas last year, Pad and I stayed in The Venetian Hotel and that was when I first fell in love with Venice. Yes, OK, fake Venice. But still, I figured, if I loved the fake version so much, I’m bound to fall head over heels (crazy Notebook love) with the real Venice.

My friend Harriet and I were looking for somewhere to go for a short break in June earlier in the year, and we both brought up Venice a bit tentatively. We both have boyfriends – and I think we were both expecting the other to say ‘I’m sorry – but Venice is reserved for a loved-up couple vacation, not a girls getaway.’ 

Except that neither of us thought that, and both of us wanted to go. And heck, I’ll go have a super romantic weekend away with my BFF and be done with it. So we’re going to Venice and I can’t wait. I’ve always wanted to go there, so it will be a major bucket list item checked off.

Where will I be staying? 

We’re going to be staying at LaGare Hotel, a new hotel (converted from a very old glass factory) just off the main Venice island. I’m kind of excited to be staying in local Venice, rather than touristy Venice, as I think we’ll see a whole different side to the city. It’s a 10 minute boat ride away from the main island, and the hotel offers a free shuttle – so I figure we’re pretty much sorted.

You can see here which island the hotel is located on. See, not too far!

You can see here which island the hotel is located on. See, not too far!

The hotel itself looks pretty stunning, the perfect retreat to go back to after a long day of sightseeing. I’ve got to the age now where I appreciate a nice hotel and a lovely place to come home to in the evening – and (as much as it pains me to say) my hostel days are well and truly behind me. I like comfy beds, big pillows, aircon and a decent hotel bar too much now to give them up. 

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Who are we flying with? 

I big priority for me with this holiday was that I really wanted to fly into Marco Polo airport. I’ve heard the views are pretty incredible when you fly into Venice and I wanted to be able to take advantage of them!

Most budget airlines don’t actually fly into Marco Polo I found (which was a bit annoying), but luckily I found some really affordable Monarch direct flights which were at good times (no 5am wake up call…. phew), and also flew into Marco Polo (yay!). So I got my bargain prices and my Venice view. I can’t wait to get taking photos on the plane.

What will we be doing? 

To be honest, I’m going without knowing too much what’s on offer. I’ve never been before, so I’m excited to just walk around, explore and stumble across some beautiful places. I did a quick Google search to find out what the main tourist places were (see below) as I don’t want us to miss anything crucial – but when I visit cities I love just finding those amazing hidden gems by myself.

Most people who I’ve spoken to have said the same thing really.

The magic of Venice is just exploring, walking around and soaking it all in. 

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It was the same when I visited Rome. Sure, we knew what the main sites were and we knew what the main things we wanted to see were. My favourite moments though, were stumbling across things by accident. It’s more of an adventure that way.

I’ll also be taking my Autographer on this trip (my first time taking it somewhere since I started working there) so I’m majorly excited to get it out and start taking shots somewhere different to London! It’s very quickly become my favourite little travel gadget and I can’t wait to see the incredible shots it’ll take out and about in Venice :) Credit must go to Toby (my wonderful colleague) for the shots of Venice you see below!

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Have you been to Venice and do you have any suggestions or favourite places? I’ll be there for 3 days – so would love to hear any tips or great restaurants, etc. 

Top Travel Vloggers on YouTube

I love travel vloggers, it’s amazing to see where they’ve been, what they’re doing, etc. It brings a whole other level to travel blogging.  Here’s an awesome list of travel vloggers full of the most incredible vloggers around and some really inspiring travel stories and videos. 

If you love travelling and you love energetic, creative people – you’re going to adore this bunch of people and watching their amazing travel tales. So enjoy!

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How to know how much you should be tipping on holiday

One of my biggest confusions when travelling is knowing when and how much to tip.

I hate the idea of offending people – so I always do my research before I travel anywhere, so I know exactly what is expected from me. I’m lucky that my boyfriend Pad is an overly generous tipper anyway, so we don’t usually run into situations where we offend people anymore anyway.

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Saying that…

I remember the first time I ever visited NYC with my Mum and my little sister. We ate a meal in TGI Friday’s in Times Square and left a tip of 15% after we’d finished. We were pretty pleased with the service and assumed that 15% was a good tip. However when we exited the restaurant, a rather ‘pissed off’ waiter came up to us and asked us (quite aggressively) what he could possibly have done to warrant such a low tip. We were gobsmacked (at the anger he had towards us) and very apologetic too (we never meant to offend him). We quickly explained that tipping 10% is the ‘norm’ in the UK, and topped up the amount.

I don’t think this waiter would’ve let us leave if we hadn’t! 

But ever since then, I’ve always been careful about tipping (especially in the states) so figured I’d put a bit of info together about it all.

The main thing though, is to do your research

– Do a quick Google search before you leave and see if you can get a direct answer. If not that, then any travel agent (or guide book) will hopefully be able to tell you the expected amount.

– Don’t forget about tour operators and adding that price onto the cost. We took a tour in Vegas and the tip that the driver expected was about 20-25% of the ticket price. This ended up being $40 so it’s a good job we budgeted for it and knew that’s what was expected.

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– At hotels, be aware that any kind of ‘added service’ will expect a small tip. In US hotels this often includes housekeeping too. Leave the tip on the pillow (it doesn’t have to be much, perhaps $1/2 a day). Same goes for luggage guys at the taxi rank, and the taxi drivers themselves!

In Vegas we found that tipping a couple of dollars in the morning when we left the hotel for the day, ensured more towels and more shampoo goodies when we got back. Coincidence? Maybe.

In Vegas we found that tipping a couple of dollars in the morning when we left the hotel for the day, ensured more towels and more shampoo goodies when we got back. Coincidence? Maybe.

– For all occasions which aren’t restaurants and tours – If you’re unsure, just round up to the nearest ten. If your taxi far cost $8, then just give them $10. I always try to think, that those few dollars will means more to them than you.

– Be wary of ‘help’ at places like the airport. Many people will offer to carry your bags without you even asking. These people aren’t (usually) doing it out of the kindness of their hearts, they will want tipping so bear that in mind.

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– Even in all-inclusive resorts you may be expected to tip for some services. I recently went away to the Dominican Republic and if we wanted waiter service on the beach or pool, you were expected to tip $2/3 for each order.

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Who else might need tipping?

Waiter

Waitress

Bartender

Sommelier

Parking valet

Hotel porter

Taxi driver

Housekeeper

Concierge

Hairdresser

Beautician.

Make sure you’ve got cash on you (small change) 

Keep some small bills or coins in a separate purse or wallet, so you’ll always have some at hand. This totally avoids those awkward moments and awkward conversations.

Here are a few tips for specific destinations (found via Thomas Cook): 

·         Spain/Canary Islands (Currency: Euro)
Housekeeper: About 5 euros per person per week.
Hotel porter: About 1 euro per item of luggage.
Waiter: If you’ve just had a cup of coffee, don’t feel obliged, however if you’ve had a meal you might want to leave a few euros, depending on the size of the bill. Spanish bartenders don’t expect tips.
Taxi driver: No tip required.

·         Greece (Currency: Euro)
Housekeeper: 3 -4 euros per person per week.
Hotel porter: About 1 euro per item of luggage, however porterage is not commonplace outside Athens.
Waiter: Approximately 10% of the restaurant bill.
Taxi driver: Taxi drivers don’t tend to expect a tip, unless you are travelling on a long journey. Ask the taxi driver to use the meter, or provide you with a quote before your journey.

·         Turkey (Currency: Turkish lira)
Housekeeper: Approximately 5-6 Turkish lira per person per week.
Hotel porter: Approximately 2-3 Turkish lira per item of luggage.
Waiter: Approximately 10% of the bill at dinner. If you eat lunch somewhere small and reasonable, you can just round up.
Taxi driver: Approximately 2-3 Turkish lira for short distances.

·         Egypt (Currency: Egyptian pound)
Tips are highly appreciated here, and the locals generally prefer receiving US dollars rather than Egyptian pounds.
Housekeeper : Approximately 20-25 Egyptian pounds per person per week.
Hotel porter : Approximately 5 Egyptian pounds per item of luggage.
Waiter: 10% of the bill, unless gratuity is already included in which case you can just round upwards . At the all-inclusive hotels, you might want to consider tipping 10-15 Egyptian pounds every now and then.
Taxi driver: No tip required and remember you can often haggle the price.

·         Cyprus (Currency: Euro)
Housekeeper: About 4-6 euros per person per week.
Hotel porter: 1-2 euros per item of luggage.
Waiter: 10% of the bill.
Taxi driver: No tip required.

·        USA (Currency: US dollar)
Waiter: 15-25%, waiters usually rely on tips in order to stay above the minimum wage, so a 15-25% tip is standard. Paying 25% would indicate that you received great service, but even if you weren’t particularly happy, a 10% tip is still expected. If you don’t tip at all, you risk being followed out of the restaurant by an unhappy waiter wanting to know what they did wrong, like we did in NYC!
Bar: $1 for every drink.
Taxi: $1 for short rides and 15-20% from the airport.
Hotel porter: $1 per item of luggage.

Ever had a bad experience when tipping someone? 

Did you like the photos featured in this blog post? Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @TheWorldAndThenSome where I post lots more gorgeous photos from my travels!

Can Hypnotherapy cure a Fear of Flying?

I’ve written about my fear of flying previously, and to this day it remains on of the most emotional things I’ve ever written about. It’s hard writing about your flying phobia (or any fear) – especially when it’s the kind of fear that completely consumes you, as mine is.

I haven’t always been terrified of flying. I’ve never particularly enjoyed it (who does?) – but it wasn’t until my boyfriend and I set out on our RTW trip, that it really reared it’s ugly head. We had two pretty bad flights when travelling; the first coming into land at Queenstown (New Zealand) which we later learned is a specially classified airport – because it’s so tricky to fly into, and the second was coming into land at Hong Kong during a huge thunderstorm at midnight.

Those two flights were bad enough to burn themselves into my memory and leave scars, and ever since the very thought of flying sends shivers down my spine and makes my hands clammy with sweat.

I prefer to have my feet on solid ground.

I prefer to have my feet on solid ground.

Saying that though, I’m actively trying to overcome my fear. Earlier in the year in March, before a long-haul flight to The Dominican Republic, I had two hypnotherapy sessions to see if (maybe) it could help me. I contacted Jennie Francis who works at Harley Street in London and arranged to have two sessions with her a few days before I was due to take off.

I want to start by saying, I had no idea what to expect from Hypnotherapy. I had no idea whether it would work, or have any effect at all – but I was positive I wanted to give it a try and I was feeling good about the idea it might work.

The sessions themselves lasted about an hour (ish) with about 35 minutes of that being Hypnotherapy. In our first session, Jennie was really keen to chat with me openly – about what my fear was and where it was rooted from. My fear of flying comes from a lack of understanding, and also a lack of control. So Jennie targeted these two key areas in our sessions.

The experience itself was bizarre. Kind of like falling asleep – but knowing you’re not really asleep. Like when you hit snooze in the morning and doze off for a while. You know you’re on the verge of consciousness and you’re very aware that at any moment you could be awake again – but you’re still very detached from reality and waking thoughts. Like when you’re snoozing – It feels like you’ve been asleep for hours when the buzzer next rings – but in actual fact it’s only been a few minutes. It’s a bizarre warped sense of reality, but completely pleasant to be in – almost like a guided day dream.

Jennie was pleased with how my body had reacted to the hypnotherapy after the first session, and I’ll admit – when I left I was feeling really positive too. I had been dreading the day in the office as I knew I had lots of unpleasant tasks ahead of me – and yet suddenly (and it was a sudden change) it didn’t seem so bad anymore.

It seemed to leak over into other areas of my life too – and I felt myself being a little more carefree and less anxious in general.

After my second and final session I left Jennie’s office feeling really positive, and even though I knew I’d be flying the very next day – I wasn’t filled with the dread that I usually would have been. Ordinarily – before the hypnotherapy – the ‘pre-flying dread’ would have set in at least 48 hours before boarding the flight. This time, I didn’t really get it until I entered the airport. I even slept the night before the flight – which felt like an achievement in itself.

I know, to many people, this might seem like a small success – but I really can’t describe the sheer relief I felt to have been lifted from the fear – if only temporarily.

Stupidly (and this set my confidence back a bit) Pad and I forgot to check in online before our flight (doh!) so we didn’t get to sit next to each other. This made me panic a bit – which was frustrating because it was the first time I’d felt anything negative towards flying since the hypnotherapy. I’ll admit, some of those old feelings did start to creep back and I got a bit teary – but it was more the idea of facing the flight without Pad at my side (something I’d taken for granted would happen).

It wasn’t so much the flight itself. I like to have a hand to hold.

My hand-holding partner.

My hand-holding partner.

Once we got on the flight and had taken off, I was OK. Take off and landing were still a bit tentative – and were still my least favourite parts of the experience (they always have been) – but I had Jennie’s voice in my head the entire time telling me to be calm, telling me I was in a safe environment and telling me to relax.

One of the exercises we did in the sessions was a visualisation exercise where I imagined walking down a spiral staircase into a garden. With every step I took, I had to feel myself becoming more and more calm. This didn’t stand out to me during the sessions themselves – but when I was on the flight and felt myself begin to panic, I found closing my eyes and imagining the staircase and the calmness, really relaxing and really helpful. Whenever we went through a patch of turbulence I did the same thing, and it got my thoughts back on track.

Another thing to note, is that I found myself enjoying the experience more so than I ever had. I was no longer scared stiff. Sure, I wasn’t lapping it up – but I allowed myself to relax into the flight and I wasn’t perched on the edge of my seat the entire time either. I even got up and walked around for 10 minutes at one point – which in previously flights I’d have struggled to allow myself to do.

Even now, 2 months later – I’m reflecting positively – not negatively. That’s a tiny difference but for me it’s an important one. The thing I try and remind myself constantly, is that I don’t actually want to be scared. More than anything I want this fear to be gone. So I’m urging the hypnotherapy to be successful and I’m urging myself to continue those positive thoughts.

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I’ll be flying solo in June (on my way to Venice) and I’ll be flying solo out to Vegas (in July) so I guess my confidence will truly be tested then.

Let’s see…!

Did you like the photos featured in this blog post? Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @TheWorldAndThenSome where I post lots more gorgeous photos from my travels!

#epicadventures photography competition

The folks over at Blacks (who do outdoor clothing and adventure gear) are currently running a competition for bloggers and photographers. The challenge is, to create a blog post showcasing your entries to the following categories:

  • Wild
  • Fast
  • Panoramic
  • Epic

In case you’re thinking of entering yourself, you then tweet the link to @Blacks_Online using the hashtag #epicadventures. Individual category winners will be judged by a panel, while the overall winner will be judged by Explore’s managing director Ashley Toft. The overall winner will win £2000 to spend with Explore.co.uk. Four runners up will receive gift cards worth £150 to spend in Blacks stores and www.blacks.co.uk.

I decided I wanted to give the competition a go. As a travel blogger, photography is one of my favourite things – as (of course) is adventure. If you can class adventure as a hobby, I totally would. Anyway, below you’ll find my photographs, I’ve gone with two photographs for each category – because I couldn’t decide and had way too many options…

Wild

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Patong, Phuket: Probably the wildest place I’ve ever been. Not wild as in ‘nature’ but wild as in ‘holy crap this is insane’. One walk up and down the main street and you’ll feel so thrown in at the deep-end, you’ll be wishing for those little orange inflatables you used to wear as a kid. This town is wild – the wildest place I’ve ever been. Period.

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The Great Ocean Road, Australia: This photo is one of my favourites from our RTW trip. My boyfriend isn’t a fan – but I think this photo is hilarious. After a day of driving along the wildly beautiful Great Ocean Road, we got out to take a walk along the coast cliffs to see the twelve apostles. The wind was WILD. The most wild wind you can imagine. And upon trying to take a photo to capture the wildness – this is what I got. Perfect!

Fast

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Hong Kong: I took this photo in a very ‘locals’ neighbourhood in Hong Kong whilst we were there for a few days. We went looking for amazing food – and found this incredible noodle place. This old man must have been about 70 years old, but the speed at which he was making these noodles was incredible. I could barely capture it in focus he was doing it so fast.

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Paris: This was a shot I took of the Eiffel Tower with a huge main road between myself and the tower. For me, it sums up Paris. It’s this huge, bustling, busy, fast-moving city – but with these never-changing, historic monuments. I love how this photo captured the speed of the city and how fast it moves, rather than the slower, romantic side of things.

Panoramic

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Hong Kong: A panoramic shot taken from Victoria’s Peak in Hong Kong. Without a doubt the best view you can get of the huge city. I love how you can see everything as far as the camera reaches.

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Christchurch, NZ: One of the photogenic beaches I’ve ever been on – this photo sums up the lazy beach lifestyle in NZ and Oz. I love the surfers centred in the frame, and it remains one of my favourite photos that I ever took.

Epic

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Queenstown, NZ: Whilst my boyfriend and I lived in New Zealand, this was the view from our balcony. I must have taken a photo from this spot every day – and every day the vied was epic. How can it not be; with those mountains, the lake, the sharp peaks and the awesome clouds? This photo is my favourite of all the ones I took because (for me anyway) it sums up the sheer size and scale of New Zealand and it expresses just how Epic that part of the world it. Everything about this photo is epic, and my heart aches whenever I look at it!

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Kuala Lumpur: This photo was taken from my hotel window in Kuala Lumpur. A huge storm had erupted in the sky minutes before I took this and I loved seeing the rain lash against the window as the thunder and lightening struck the sky and the buildings in the distance. It was truly epic and one of the most incredible storms I’ve ever witnessed!

If you’ve entered this competition, I’d love for you to post a link to your own blog post! Which photo was your favourite? :)

 

11 things you learn about yourself when travelling

1. How patient you are (or aren’t) 

Nothing tests your patience quite like travelling. Whether it’s a delayed flight in Hong Kong or a 3 hour traffic jam in Bangkok – you’ll soon find out if patience is one of your strong points. For me – not so much. I now know that how bad I am with queuing. I’m one of those awful people who switches queues, and tries to guess which is the shortest and then swears when the other queue starts moving faster than the one I chose.

Luckily, my boyfriend Pad is as patient as they come, and usually stops me in my tracks.

One of my favourite things to do when I'm super bored during delays, or stopovers (basically any impatience-inducing situation!) is to take stupid photos. Try it - it seriously works.

One of my favourite things to do when I’m super bored during delays, or stopovers (basically any impatience-inducing situation!) is to take stupid photos. Try it – it seriously works.

2. What you’re afraid of (or aren’t)

There are many things I thought would scare me, but when it came round to it – didn’t phase me in the slightest. Things like moving half way across the world, for example. Then there were other fears such as flying, which really reared their ugly heads during our round the world trip. Travelling is an experience that does make you vulnerable – and as soon as you identify what those things are that scare you – you can try your hardest to overcome them.

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3. Who you love

There will always be people you miss when you go away somewhere, and it’s only when you’re travelling that you realise just how much you love those special people. I was lucky enough to be travelling with my boyfriend Pad, but there were still family and friends who I missed hugely.

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4. How obsessive compulsive you are (or aren’t)

The morning before I fly I get super obsessive compulsive, making sure I have everything, checking things ten times over – the process of travelling just totally brings it out in me.

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5. How accident-prone you are

I’ve always known I was clumsy (as a child I broke multiple bones multiple times) – but travelling cemented the knowledge that I was well and truly accident prone. One day we went zip-lining in Queenstown, and the entire time I was petrified that my accident-prone self would end up in some kind of painful situation. Somehow though, I managed to get to the very last zip-line with no bruises or bumps or anything.

But I celebrated way too soon. Before taking the leap on the last wire, I managed to slice my fingers right down to the tendon by putting my hands in the wrong place at the wrong time. Blood went everywhere, and as if the adrenaline from the zip-lining wasn’t enough, I now had that ‘oh god I’m injured’ adrenaline rushing through me too. Luckily the nearest hospital was only down the hill – but to get there quickly I needed to zip-line down to the final wire. Covered in blood, soaked in tears and with a huge bandaged hand.

Not my finest moment! 

The photo on the left was taken just seconds before the 'incident'. Look how ignorant and happy I am...!

The photo on the left was taken just seconds before the ‘incident’. Look how ignorant and happy I am…!

6. If you’re a burner

As a kid my mum was always pretty amazing with making sure we were coated in suncream. As an adult, I’m less strict on myself (or I was until I learnt a hard lesson in Los Angeles). Before meeting Pad in San Francisco, I decided to spend a few days in LA on my own, I’d never been before and want some sunshine, and to see the beaches, the city and the Walk of Fame.

I had an open top bus tour ticket (my guilty pleasure when sightseeing), so decided I’d spend the first day seeing the city that way. I put on a pretty dress, took my sunglasses, packed my camera and headed out. The evil thing about open top bus tours though, is the breeze. It tricks you into thinking you’re safe from the sun, because if you’ve got a cool breeze running through your hair, how could you possibly be burning?

That day I spent 3 hours on the bus in the morning, and got to my mid-way point of Santa Monica Pier. There I had lunch in a gorgeous cafe – and when I went to the bathroom after I noticed I was looking a bit pink.

I quickly bought some high factor suncream and literally pasted it on, but it was too late. By the evening, the sun-burn had come through properly and I was as red as a lobster. By 10pm I couldn’t move without cringing in pain.

I wanted to share the embarrassing burn photo - because hopefully you'll learn the same lesson I did without the pain! WEAR SUN CREAM!

This is before and after… I wanted to share the embarrassing burn photo – because hopefully you’ll learn the same lesson I did without all the pain! Oh good god…. JUST WEAR SUN CREAM!

The next 3 days were painful, hilarious and beetroot red – all in equal measure.

Lesson learnt.

7. What transportation you can sleep on (and which you can’t)

I can sleep for hours uninterrupted on a train or in a coach or car. Give me a plane and suddenly I’m an insomniac.

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8. Whether or not you get sea-sick

The only boats I’d ever really been on before we set off around the world, was a huge ferry. But when travelling we seemed to find ourselves on smaller speedboats, catamarans and tiny ferry boats a lot. That was when I discovered I get pretty sea sick. I also had no idea you could buy tablets for sea-sickness (because if you’ve never needed something, how do you know it exists?) so that realisation was life-saving. I bought a little jar full of magic sea-sick pills in New Zealand, and kept them with me for the following 6 months. Best discovery ever!

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9. How good you are at time-keeping

You’ll never doubt your time-keeping skills until you nearly miss a plane. And then you’ll start to arrive an hour early for everything from then on.

10. How much you rely on sleep

I never understood what ‘burning the candle at both ends’ really meant until we began travelling full-time. It’s so easy to burn yourself out, but travelling is so exciting, sometimes you just forget about sleep completely. But it catches up with you and you’ll end up crashing at some point.

One time in Las Vegas, we’d flown for a straight 48 hours (ish) from Hong Kong to get there – and the jet-lag upon arriving was unbearable. I was falling asleep at the table in restaurants, I was struggling to stay awake even when we were walking. I never knew it was possible to be that tired, my body was actually giving up on me. But I kept fighting it, because I was determined to be present – be in Vegas and have fun.

I should’ve just given-in to the jet-lag on the first night, instead of fighting it…. but I didn’t. So 3 nights in, my body finally had the last say. I fell asleep “for a quick nap” at 3pm one afternoon, and pretty much lost all sense. I was supposed to wake up at 6pm (we had tickets to a show) but my body wouldn’t move from the bed. I was awake, and I was willing myself to move, to get out of bed – but it just wasn’t going to happen. I couldn’t even lift my arms to eat the food that Pad brought me, I was so weak. It was pure exhaustion.

That night I slept from 3pm until about 11am the next morning (20 hours sleep). Which is the most I have ever slept.

I don't have any photos of me sleeping. So this one of Pad will have to do.

I don’t have any photos of me sleeping. So this one of Pad will have to do.

11. How much you love travelling

You don’t realise how amazing it is until you’ve been and done it. And you won’t realise how much you love it, until you get back to reality.

A Photo For Everywhere I Went in 2013.

2013 has without a doubt been the best year of my life. We’ve been to more places than I can count, so here they all are and I’m hoping I haven’t missed anywhere out… Also, these aren’t in any particular order!

One photo for each place we visited :) I’ve tried to choose the photo that summed the place up for me, or the photo or moment I remembered most.

paris slow motion night time

Paris

Queenstown view gondola blue

Queenstown, NZ

London shard sunshine clouds

London, UK

NYC blue building greenwich

New York City, USA

Girl in grand canyon sunshine

The Grand Canyon, USA

Bellagio fountains las vegas blogger

Las Vegas, USA

Hong Kong slow shutter speed skyline

Hong Kong

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Phuket, Thailand

grand palace bangkok summer sunshine

Bangkok, Thailand

wild elephant koh samui thailand

Koh Samui, Thailand

marina bay sands sparkle singapore

Singapore

thailand beach sunshine aqua longboat

Angthong National Park, Thailand

kuala lumpur traders hotel view sunset

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

byron bay beach sunset surfers australia

Byron Bay, Oz

gold coast surfers paradise ocean beach

Surfers Paradise, Oz

brisbane evening night time reflection

Brisbane, Oz

noosa australia beach wave surfing

Noosa, Oz

fraser island australia sunset beach

Fraser Island, Oz

hamilton island parrots birds view reef hotel

Hamilton Island, Oz

great ocean road view mist storm

The Great Ocean Road, Oz

woman wetsuit great barrier reef ocean

The Great Barrier Reef, Oz

view from plane cairns clouds

Cairns, Oz

melbourne in the evening with slow shutter speed

Melbourne, Oz

surfers on the beach in New Zealand

Christchurch, NZ

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The Blue Mountains, Oz

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Bondi, Oz
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Sydney, Oz

 For more memories, and my other travel highlights from 2013, take a read of this blog post, about my favourite moments from the year.

Did you like the photos featured in this blog post? Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @TheWorldAndThenSome where I post lots more gorgeous photos from my travels!

What has your 2013 highlight been?

A few things I want to wax lyrical about….

This month has been pretty busy (hence the lack of posts!) – but I just wanted to write a quick post about some awesome things I’ve found / come across / done… etc.

So here goes.

City Mapper App. 

citymapper.com

I’m hooked on this app. I lived in London for 4 (ish) years now and I know my way round pretty damn well, but this little miracle app just makes life so much easier. I love finishing my working day and clicking the little “get me home” button – I feel like Dorothy clicking her little red heels. Seriously – if you live in London and haven’t downloaded this app – you need to get on it.

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These gorgeous boots! 

www.sorel.com/womens-medina-rain-ankle-boot

I’ve been on a quest for the perfect pair of winter boots for about 2 months now (I like to be prepared, OK?) and I finally found them. I think these ones are going to last me a good few years too. So anyway, let me list off why they’re so awesome.

Firstly, they’re fully waterproof (if you’ve ever lived in London you’ll be nodding along already).

Secondly, they’re half welly / half heel (a good combination in anyone’s books) and it feels like you’re bouncing along the street.

Thirdly, They are the perfect combination between work shoe and going-out shoe (good for after work drinks).

And finally…. have you seen how nice they are!?

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Balham! 

My boyfriend and I have decided to move house – and we’re heading over to Balham. It’s a lovely little London borough, full of cute pubs, restaurants and quirky shops – we literally can’t wait to live there. We’re probably going to move there at the end of November – so we’re property hunting like crazy at the moment! My inbox is just full of estate agents!

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Autumn time (finally!) 

Seems like summer has lasted a lifetime in London this year, but Autumn is definitely here – and it’s nice to wrap up warm in a coat and wear some boots at last (see above haha). I love autumn, it’s my favourite time of year (what with fireworks night and my birthday) so I’m glad it’s rolled around at last. Next stop christmas….!

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And finally, this guy.

Because it’s nice to have boots, a new flat, fireworks, birthdays and conkers… but it’s even nicer to have him.

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Cosmopolitan Blog Awards 2013 – Photos and Goodies

So… The Cosmopolitan Blog Awards hey?! 

After only a year of travel blogging it was so amazing to be shortlisted for Best Travel Blog, and it’s something I am so proud of! First off (let’s get the bad bit out of the way first…) I didn’t win. But the lovely Jayne from 30 before 40 did win – and she totally deserved it. In fact, all the girls in the travel category would’ve deserved it – I think we’d have all agreed. It was amazing to be there, supporting each other – and it was kind of a big deal! It’s the first time Cosmo have ever included a travel category, so I felt we were there to represent!

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With Jayne (30 before 40) and Victoria (Pommie Travels)

So let’s start from the beginning…! I’ve tried to include as many photos as possible to give you a glimpse into the night, as it was lots of fun. I was actually at work during the day, and when I finished at 5.30pm (I got to leave 30 mins early thanks to my lovely boss Sian!) I rushed up the road and had my hair blow-dried super fast. It looked lovely for about an hour – then swiftly lost all shape and style. Sometimes I don’t know why I bother! 

But at least I looked presentable for a little while.

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Shameless ‘hairdressers’ selfie

When I arrived, I swiftly dropped off my coat and bag in the cloak room (I love it when places have cloak rooms…. kudos Cosmo) and went on the lookout for some bloggers I recognised. You weren’t actually allowed to bring a plus one – so it was a great to network and meet lots of new people! I quickly found Jayne and Victoria (other travel blogging nominees) and we started trying out all the cool freebies Cosmo had in store.

There were cocktails (cosmopolitans of course!)….

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There were free beauty treatments (nails, fake eye lashes and blow drying!)….

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There was a (super fun!) photobooth….

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And of course the amazing goody bags we left with too (but I’ll get to those later). The nicest part of the night was definitely meeting the other ladies who were nominated, it was so lovely to put faces to names and finally get to meet all these girls who’ve inspired me for the past year.

Here are some links, if you fancy reading their blogs too!

An Unfamiliar Sky

40 Countries Before I’m 30

Isabelle’s Travel Guide

Pommie Travels 

The Travelista

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Katie, Jess and Jayne – looking fabulous!

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The view on the way home wasn’t too shabby either! 

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OK. So now onto the exciting bit… THE GOODY BAG! It was so jam packed, I actually got a taxi home (because I didn’t want to carry it on the tube…) so that will hopefully put it into perspective. I literally can’t wait to try out all the stuff inside…. waiting for the weekend when I can have a proper rumble through it all!

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A few things that were included were:

– photo editing software

– Next accessories (hat and necklace)

– posh vodka

– posh soap and bath goodies

– mini speakers thingy

– cookery book

– whitening toothpaste

– fake tan

– fake tan mitten

– boutique necklace

– chocolate

– biscuits

– popcorn

– some posh tea bags

– haircut voucher

– some other stuff I’m sure I’m forgetting!

 

So that’s it! Hope this blog post was as entertaining as the night was! Big thanks to everyone who voted and helped get me to the awards, it was such an amazing opportunity and such a lovely evening. I hope to be there next year too! :)

Congrats again to Jayne who won – you deserve it lovely lady!

Did you like the photos featured in this blog post? Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @TheWorldAndThenSome where I post lots more gorgeous photos from my travels!

Tips and Advice for Travelling Together as a Couple.

I was always going to travel.

Whether it was on my own or maybe with a friend (or boyfriend as it so happened to transpire!). It was something I always wanted to do, and always planned to do.

Having met Pad 3 years ago and after realising we both wanted to make our travel dreams happen, I felt so privileged to be able to share such a life-changing experience and such an exciting adventure with someone who I loved so much. Not many people get to do that, and now I can’t imagine seeing the world without him by my side.

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But it’s not easy, and travelling does test your relationship unlike any other life-experience or situation can. It’s almost like a pressure cooker for relationships, and we found, even after only a year travelling together, that we managed to cram in 5 years worth of experiences. Our relationship became so much stronger in our year travelling, than it ever was whilst we lived in London, and that is a gift in itself.

So I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while, and offer up a bit of personal advice to other couples planning on hitting the road together. But this doesn’t just apply to romantic couples, I think a lot of this advice (albeit, maybe not every point I’ll make) also applies to friends travelling together too.

1. Be patient.

This is just common sense, but you need to always have patience with your partner and with yourself. Pad and I were constantly with each other 24/7 for around 9 months – and we leant on each a lot. In every day life, you’d probably never spend this much full-on time with each other, so having that patience is really important. Be quick to forgive and don’t linger on things that get in the way of you enjoying your experience together.

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Never forget how lucky you are and where you are. Little things don’t need to matter so try not to blow things out of proportion.

2. Play to your strengths.

Different people have different skills, so make sure you identify these. Pad always keeps hold of our passports of and documents when we take flights because airports stress me out enough, what with my fear of flying. Having to worry about passports and boarding passes on top of that would push me over the edge! On the other hand, I love to plan and organise things – so the majority of the planning and the routes we took, were organised by me months before we even left.

3. Understand and accept that things will go wrong.

When you travel together, the likelihood is, one of you is going to get ill or injured – or whatever else could possibly happen. During travelling I managed to slice open my finger whilst zip-lining, get stomach flu twice and get terrible “I need to sleep all day” jet-lag in more than a few destinations. These things could have ruined the trip if we’d have let ourselves get worried or worked up – but we just let it pass. When I had stomach flu, Pad looked after me so well and I was so thankful to have him there, otherwise I would have been a miserable mess. When I sliced open my finger and got lumbered with a £98 medical bill,  it would’ve been so easy to feel sorry for myself – but Pad made me see the funny side and in the end it was kind of hilarious. Always force the other person to see the bright-side, and keep each other smiling. It could always be worse!

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4. Be a team. 

Leave any selfishness at the door, because it just doesn’t work when you travel together as a couple. If you have a team mentality about your relationship, then things become naturally easy, and suddenly those little problems don’t matter anymore.

5. Find your triggers.

Every relationship has certain triggers which might cause stress or worry or arguments. Saying that, Pad and I are pretty lucky because we very rarely argue anyway. However I would still go out of my way to avoid a situation I know might cause tension. Sometimes it’s as simple as arriving at the airport with plenty of time to spare (so you don’t need to rush each other). For lots of couples it’s the financial side of travelling that can cause stress, so make sure you’ve sorted this and budgeted thoroughly before you leave. By doing this, hopefully it will never be an issue, and will never prevent you from having fun.

6. Other couples make great company. 

We travelled with our amazing friends Harriet and Ben for parts of our trip, and they made fantastic travelling companions. Travelling with another couple means you create a nice balance as a group, and it means no one is ever left out or isolated. On a more practical side, it also means when the girls want to go shopping – the boys can go enjoy a pint. Then everyone is happy.

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7. Realise that it’s OK to be different. 

Some days it’s OK to spend time apart. It’s normal for you to want to explore something, and for it to be completely uninteresting to your partner. This usually happened with shopping for us…. I love shopping and bargaining and wandering aimlessly through markets and shops. Whereas Pad could just as happily give that a miss. The moment you realise it’s OK to spend a few hours apart here and there, it’ll take the pressure off. I wouldn’t expect Pad to fake an interest in shopping just for my benefit – I’d much rather he spend that time doing something that makes him happy.

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Pad taking some ‘me’ time

8. Surprise each other. 

Keep surprising each other and keep making those little romantic gestures. Pad surprised me in Las Vegas by booking a Limo to pick us up from the airport, which was wonderful… and it meant so much that he’d thought that far ahead, just to make me smile. Try and keep making an effort too, for example, every few weeks take yourselves out for a nice meal and dress up in your best clothes and treat yourselves.  It can be easy to forget to go on ‘a date’ when you travel together – because you’re with each other all the time anyway. But I think it makes a big difference, and those nights are often the ones you remember the most because they felt special.

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What I’ve learnt after one year of travel blogging

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Almost one year ago today I started this travel blog. With just over a month to go until Pad and I set off on our RTW trip, we set it up together as a place to keep family and friends updated on everything we were doing. I’m pretty sure, at that time, the only people reading the blog were mainly our Mums.

Since then however, it’s evolved into much more of that.

It became pretty obvious after a few weeks that the blog was really my baby – and Pad took a step back and let me take it for my own. Which I did. It’s changed a lot – it’s grown hugely and become something I’m really proud to own. Writing has always been a passion of mine, as has photography, and it’s great to have somewhere to call my own where I can share those things.

It’s not easy though. I wanted to talk about the things I’ve learnt this year, because there are so many, but also because I think there are often a lot of misconceptions about the blogging world (especially travel blogging) and I wanted to shed some of my own light on them.

So here we go….

It’s an uphill struggle at first.

The first few months, I felt like I was putting a lot of work into the blog, and not getting a whole lot back. Once I realised I wanted the blog to be something more than a place for my Mum to come and check what I was up to (Hi Mum) I was so keen to get other people reading the blog, but wasn’t sure how to go about doing it. This, for me anyway, was the hardest part of blogging. Those first few months when you’re writing great content, visiting amazing places – but no one is reading about it.

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But it will get easier. Be patient.

After the initial few months I noticed my audience getting bigger, and that was so encouraging. This is the stage when you need to really push yourself and see it through. You’ll start seeing your hard work pay off (finally)! Getting to this point was the hardest part, but once you’ve got there you’ll notice that your content is shared more, you’re getting more readers and you’re becoming more social and suddenly you’ll forget about that hard slog in the beginning.

Be prepared for misconceptions.

I think a lot of people who aren’t bloggers (whatever the industry) don’t realise quite how much work goes into blogging and quite how much time it takes up. When I’m not actually doing the travelling, I’ll be writing up the experience, editing photos, doing social media stuff…. It’s very time consuming. A lot of travel bloggers I admire (40 before 30 and The Everywhereist, for example) do their travel blogging full-time, which is an ideal situation for anyone like me, but right now seems a long way off. When I was travelling with Pad, I usually had to schedule a day in every destination to write up what we’d done, edit photos, answer emails and schedule in posts – but of course, that’s all the work you never hear about. So I guess, when people ask me about blogging and tell me how lucky I am, whilst I do agree (I am lucky, I’d never disagree there) I have earned all of this and the opportunities that arise are through a lot of time and effort.

All set up for a night of writing in Sydney.

All set up for a night of blogging whilst in Sydney.

Sometimes all you have to do is ask.

Around 4 months into blogging, I decided I wanted a bit of a return on my investment – so I started contacting brands, hotels and companies asking them if they’d be happy to offer me something in return for coverage on the blog. This made budgeting our trip a whole lot easier (and saved us money) and all I had to do was ask. Who’d have thought? Sometimes the lessons are that simple.  Now I get brands approaching me more than I approach them – and I do have to say no occasionally to offers that don’t quite suit the blog or my readers. But it all started off by having a bit of courage and going after what I wanted. Now, I’m not afraid to ask. Because what’s the worst that could happen? Sometimes you have to take ownership for a situation, and when you do, you might be surprised by how successful you can be.

One of our favourite freebies

One of our favourite freebies

It’s about way more than just writing and taking photos. 

It’s about writing, taking photos, editing photos, SEO, learning WordPress, designing your blog, learning what widgets are, outreaching, online PR, social media… the list goes on.

Learn from others around you.

I mentioned above, a couple of ladies I really admire in the travel blogging world and there are plenty more. Taking inspiration from them is really a big part of developing my own blog. Travel is such a big industry, there is room for everyone, so don’t look at other bloggers like competition – look at them as people you can admire creatively, and who you can make connections with to help strengthen your own blog and your own voice.

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It’s OK to give yourself a day-off.

Sometimes when we were travelling, the last thing I wanted to do was blog. Sometimes it was jet-lag, sometimes it was just being too busy with sightseeing, sometimes I would rather have been sat in the pool (which isn’t exactly lap-top friendly). And that’s OK. It’s a lot of hard work and you’re allowed to give yourself time off.

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You won’t always have something positive to write about. 

As a travel blogger, I want to encourage people to travel and inspire them to. But sometimes (and it has happened a few times during the last year) you find yourself with nothing positive to write about. When we visited Christchurch (NZ) I loved the city, but I was so overwhelmed and effected by how destroyed the city was from the earthquake – that it took me 6 months to finally get my thoughts typed up (read them here). In Patong (Thailand) I struggled with finding anything positive about the location whatsoever… but thought it better to be honest about that, than lie and pretend I’d loved every second. 

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It hasn’t all been written. 

I kind of thought when I first started blogging, that everything had already been written in some way or another, but that’s so un-true. Everything is unique, because no one else is writing about things with your voice or your opinions.

It might not only be travel you write about. 

There are many things I love in life. Travelling is one of them (so makes sense, that I own a travel blog huh?) but Pad and I are also big foodies. I’ve found that when we were travelling the food was something we were fascinated with – and we often looked forward to the most…. so it started to seep into the content of my blog too. But for me travel and food go hand in hand together and it’s all about the culture and tasting different cultures.

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Success is a hard thing to define. 

I’m not sure how you define success in the blogging niche – but I hope I’m on my way. There is still a lot I’d like to do with my blog, but I know I’m moving in the right direction and creating content I’m proud to share and I hope people love reading. I was recently shortlisted by Cosmopolitan as their travel blogger of the year (you can vote here) and that was such a huge compliment and was a really huge step towards what I’m hoping to achieve more of. My blog is relatively new compared to others on the list (there are some amazing blogs nominated alongside me) – so it’s pretty humbling to be on there.

I’m so excited to see what Year 2 of blogging will bring, and I’m already planning all the places I’ll hopefully see and experience along the way. This travel blog is the best thing I ever created, and probably the most time and effort I’ve spent on anything too, and I hope it carries on growing as strong in this next year as it currently is!

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The Ultimate A-Z of Round the World Travel

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A is for AIR-CONDITIONING

Stopping in Asia or Australia? Or anywhere remotely hot or humid? Trust me – in room air-conditioning is worth every extra penny you might pay for it. It’s like walking into your own private fridge. Pure bliss. After stopping in Bondi Beach during a heatwave and only having a crappy in-room fan, I’ll always opt for AC now because during those 4 days… we were actually melting.

B is for BAGGAGE

Airlines will charge you extra for just a couple of additional KG’s in your bag, so if you think you’re going to be over the agreed limit, call ahead (or look online) and book yourself extra weight. It’ll cost you half the price than the “un-planned” fees at the airport. This especially applies if your airline is a budget one.

C is for CURRENCY

We’ve been drained dry by currency charges and bank charges whilst travelling (so much so I almost get tearful just thinking about it). Just one cash withdrawal in the states (doesn’t matter how much we take out, small or big amount) ends up costing us about (NZ)$30. That’s $7.50 from our bank, $24 from the US bank and $4 from the ATM machine. It’s like a slap in the face. So make sure, when budgetting, you include stuff like this in your calculations.

D is for DEET

If you’re going to anywhere with Mozzies, then try and get your hands on some Deet. It’s not sold in the UK (at least, I don’t think it is) so I’d never seen it before moving to NZ. When travelling though, I’m always a prime target for insects, and seem to get bitten and bitten. Like I’m some kind of buffet. Deet is the strongest repellent out there – and really helped my sanity when we were travelling through Oz and Thailand because it meant I wasn’t paranoid about being bitten every time there was a bug in the vicinity. It made the top of my packing list.

round the world packing essentials insect repellant

E is for Eggs

The best, easiest, yummiest breakfast you can get. They fill you up.  They’re cheap. They’re healthy. You can get them (without fail) in every country you go to. Mmmm Eggs.

F is for FEAR

We’ll have been on about 22 flights in total once these nine months are over, and for someone who is scared of flying (more about that here, if you’re curious) – this is a big deal. I thought I would’ve overcome my fear by now, but the truth is, I haven’t I’m working on it – but it’s going to be a long journey and it’s one I’ve only just started on. One thing I have learnt, is that you can’t let fear stop you or prevent you from doing anything. Fear is a choice, and sometimes you just have to choose to leave it at the door.

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G is for GREYHOUND

If you’re in Australia, the easiest and cheapest way to see as much of the country as possible is to book a greyhound pass. It was so hassle free, and it just works. Plus, it’s such a blessing not to drive those long distances yourself. Sleeping in the back of a coach is way better than falling asleep at the wheel.

H is for HOSTELS vs HOTELS

If you’re in Australia or NZ – your money will go much further if you opt for hostels over hotels as Oz and NZ are REALLY expensive. But fear not – hostels are actually pretty sweet – some of the hostels we stopped in have been like little boutique hotels or B&Bs! Saying that though, in places like Thailand and Malaysia you’ll be able to afford a decent 4/5* hotel for what you’d have paid for a hostel in Oz. Money is so contextual, and you’ll be able to afford much different standards in different places, so make sure you research this properly. Don’t assume you have to slum it everywhere – because you probably don’t. Also – our new favourite website is AirBnB – where you can rent out rooms and apartments – we did that in NYC and saved so much money and stopped right in the heart of Manhattan.

I is for ICE

In Thailand I got sick most days because I was drinking the local water without even realising it. Because of the ice in drinks (buckets in Thailand are a prime culprit for this). So be careful. If you have a sensitive stomach, avoid ice in your drinks and just buy sealed refrigerated bottles. You should never drink tap water here, and always drink bottled. You shouldn’t really even brush your teeth with the tap water, so if you’re like me and have a super sensitive system, make sure you’re cautious with water in places like this.

Our 300 BHT buckets.

J is for JOURNAL 

I started my travel journal in January – and it’s where I keep literally everything to do with our trip recorded and noted down. At first it’s where I planned everything, not it’s where I write down memories, or stick in photos, or note down awesome restaurants we ate at. I just want proof of what we did – and although having this blog is great, and having Facebook albums is good too – having something tangible really appeals to the writer in me. I’ll treasure my journal forever now – and it’s so great to read through all the random musings I made months ago.

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K is for KINDNESS

Whether you’re a traveller or a local – kindness goes such a long way in this world. During this trip I’ve really been surprised by how kind some strangers have been, and it has reminded me to always be understanding of tourists and travellers in my hometown of London. I’ll always try and help people out if they look lost, but now I’ll make a more conscious effort and maybe look out for people who look like they need pointing in the right direction. It take nothing to smile, or to help someone out, and I think we all need to remember that at times.

L is for LATE CHECK-OUT

The gold-dust of hotel or hostel extras, having a late check-out option is the absolute best. There is nothing worse than having to check out at 10am, and then hanging around until 6pm for your next flight, with not only your huge suitcase but your hand luggage too. We learnt pretty fast to always ask if it was an option when we checked in or booked the room online.

M is for MAPS

Oh my goodness. Get yourself a map. First thing we do when we get to a new place is grab a map from our hotel or our hostel reception. Or (when you’re stopping with family) make them draw you a map, like I did in Singapore with my Uncle David. Even if you don’t use it – it’s so worth having it on you. Just in case. In countries when English isn’t the first language and isn’t widely spoken – having a map is going to be more reliable than asking the locals too – because there is always the chance they didn’t understand you, or they misheard you, or you misheard them, or they don’t even know the way anyway.

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N is for NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES

For long haul flights, I really can’t big-up noise cancelling headphones enough. If you’ve never tried quality headphones like this – as soon as you do you’ll never look back. They do require a bit of an investment (a good pair will cost about £150+) but they are worth every penny as it means when you’re flying you can actually block out all the plane and engine noise – and genuinely hear your music or TV shows and films. For me, they actually calm my nerves a lot too, and I put the headphones on during take-off and landing just to silence all the air-craft noises around me, which means I panic less.

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O is for an OPEN-MIND

Having an open mind about everything when you travel is so important. Whether it be some food you haven’t tried before (or a drink – like the photo below) – a funny looking route to your destination or even a questionable looking hotel… you never know who you might meet or what you might discover. Saying that though, I think you should always trust your instincts – if something feels off, trust your gut. Better to be safe than sorry.

Hong Kong Foodie Tour

P is for PROOF

Lots of countries will require printed proof of your onward travel before you enter the country – so make sure you have this printed out. Australia, New Zealand and the USA are big sticklers for this. Make sure you have confirmation of your exiting flight, as well as your entering one, because that’s the one they care about. As long as they know you’re leaving at some point – they’ll let you in!

Q is for QUEEN

Bohemian Rhapsody is the ultimate road trip and travelling song, and will be the one song that bonds any group of strangers together almost immediately. So if you find yourself flung together with a group of people on a group tour – just whack this on the CD player. You’ll all be BFFs before the 5 minutes is over.

R is for REGRETS

As soon as you board that plane, you’ll realise you’re doing the right thing. No one ever regretted travelling – it’s one of those experiences that well and truly defines you. I know, especially for Pad and I, it has defined our relationship too and made it a million times stronger than it was before we set off. All of my favourite moments from travelling were when I pushed myself to think outside the box, or challenged myself or faced my fears – I can’t imagine how much regret I’d have had if I’d passed up any of those opportunities. So just bite the bullet.

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S is for SWEAT TOWEL

In Asia, it became pretty obvious that it was impossible to be outside for more than 5 minutes without your face dripping with sweat. That’s kind of gross – but it’s the brutal truth of Thailand, Singapore and other places round there, and the kind of humidity and temperatures we were coping with. I started taking the flannel or face cloth from the hotel bathroom with me wherever I went – as a quick wipe-down tool for myself (and everyone else I was with…) and we started referring it to the ‘sweat towel’. Yes, It was pretty gross – but I think we were all pretty relieved to not look like we were melting all the time.

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T is for TV

When you’re travelling for a long time, in a non-English country you really do miss English and American TV.  This applied to us big time when we were travelling through Thailand and Hong Kong – as we usually only had one English channel in the hotel room. The truth is, you’re not going to want to go out every night, and as a long term traveller you do occasionally crave a night in. Pick a box set before you set off so you always have something to watch on those rainy days, jet lagged days or days when you can’t be bothered to go out in the humidity.

U is for the UPGRADES

Upgrades are NOT totally out of reach for the normal traveller – and we soon realised this. Sure, we never got upgraded to first class (DAMN YOU VIRGIN AIRLINES!) we did get upgraded in our hotels quite frequently. My biggest lesson I learnt, was to always ask.If you don’t ask, you don’t get. In Las Vegas we upgraded our standard room to a one-bedroom suite for the tiny amount of $20 a night additional… which was a bloody bargain. And it made a huge difference too – we could literally do cartwheels around the living room, it was so big.

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V is for VIEW

All of my favourite hotels we stopped in had incredible views, and now (whenever we travel) the view from the hotel window is going to be top of my list. Sounds like a silly revelation to make – but it’s such an amazing start to the day when you wake up to something beautiful.

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W is for WATER

Always carry a bottle of water with you wherever you go, because you never know when you might need it. Especially in the heat, you’ll find yourself getting dehydrated quicker than before – so carrying one around with you is so important. Also, take one on long-haul flights with you too, those little cups they give you are never enough.

X is for X-RAY

Oh come on. Coming up with things that begin with X is super hard. I will find a way to tie this in though. X-Rays are bad and expensive… so get travel insurance before you leave for your trip. Otherwise you’ll end up paying out of your ears if anything goes wrong.

Y is for YOU

Keep in mind when you travel that this is your trip and you’re there to enjoy yourself. It’s easy when you travel to keep doing all the things you feel like you should be doing – and then you end up not enjoying it and wishing you’d done something else. We had this with Fraser Island in Australia. I knew the camping option wouldn’t be the right thing for us to do (because I HATE bugs and the island is riddled with them) so I opted for day option instead. Even the day option was a bit disappointing and we both agreed afterwards we would rather have stayed in Noosa a bit longer and just skipped past Fraser Island completely. I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s your memories you’re making – so make sure you make yourself happy. If that means sipping coffee on the beach, instead of camping on a cliff – so be it.

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Z is for ZZZZZ’s

Sleep is so important. I learnt the hard way in Las Vegas when I burnt my candle completely out. I crashed one day at 4pm in the afternoon and didn’t wake up until 11am the next morning, sleeping through a Cirque Du Soleil show we had tickets for. That was my body’s way of saying, time for a rest. Jet Lag can be a real bitch, so don’t push yourself too hard. If you need to sleep, then take it easy – otherwise you’ll end up sleeping through a Cirque Du Soleil show and kicking yourself for it the next day.

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