The most romantic cities to propose in

As a mega-fan of romantic movies and love stories, I’ve always loved writing about the most romantic places and destinations. For me, even before I got engaged, NYC was always top of the list. Then, when my boyfriend popped the question there, it cemented it’s place at the top of my ‘loved-up locations list’.

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For me, there’s nowhere more romantic than New York. NYC has always been my favourite place – the whole city feels like a movie set and it feels like anything can happen at any moment. That mindset, is romantic in itself. The feeling of never ending possibilities. 

When my other half proposed in NYC, that’s exactly what it felt like, a movie. It actually took me a minute to reply to him, because I was so overwhelmed by how perfect the moment was. I know a proposal would’ve been amazing anywhere – but NYC is the city where all my favourite love stories happened, so it was the perfect place for my love story to happen too

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Anyway, it turns I’m not the only one who is dreamy-eyed for NYC. A recent data round up from Instagram by Ingle and Rhode shows that NYC is the most ‘instagrammable proposal destination’ in the world. I’m not surprised, I lived it and loved it, and I can confirm – it totally deserves the number one spot.

But where else is on the list?

Well, here’s the rest of the round-up…


1.New York,United States

2.Los Angeles, United States

3.Seattle,United States

4.Miami,United States

5.Chicago,United States


7.London,United Kingdom

8.San Diego,United States

9.Orlando,United States



12.San Francisco,United States

13.Las Vegas,United States

14.Atlanta,United States


16.Washington,United States

17.Dubai,United Arab Emirates

18.Philadelphia,United States


20.Honolulu,United States

There are some really surprising entries on the list –

I love that Honolulu managed to get into the top 20 (maybe there are some seriously romantic LOST fans out there!?) and I love that un-conventional city Las Vegas has made it into the top 20 too. I love Las Vegas, and I’ve always found it to be a surprisingly romantic destination, so it’s nice to know my feelings are shared by others too.

Of course, it’s no surprise to see cities like Dubai and London on the list, I’ve lived in both of these cities and I know just how beautiful and romantic they can be.

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If you had to pick a city on the list to get engaged, which would you choose?


An Interview with Arthur Williams from TV show ‘Flying to the Ends of the Earth’

It’s not often I feel immediately compelled to do something, but when I watched the first episode of ‘Flying to the Ends of the Earth’ on Channel 4 earlier this week – I knew the shows presenter Arthur Williams was someone I wanted to talk to.

If you haven’t seen it yet, go and watch it after reading this interview! It’s the best bit of TV I’ve watched in ages. 

From the very start of the programme I immediately liked the guy, he was friendly, funny and down-to-earth and seemed genuinely passionate about the programme and the adventures he was going on. I also gained a huge amount of respect for Arthur too as the programme went on – because Arthur did everything whilst in a wheelchair.

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If you haven’t seen the show, Arthur’s ‘mission’ is to explore the far flung corners of the Earth – the places you can only get to via a plane (and he’s a pilot too, as well as an adventurer!). This means some of the flight paths the crew face through the TV show are the most dangerous and unpredictable in the world, some of which Arthur pilots himself.

So I wanted to chat to this guy! I mean, who wouldn’t?

So Arthur, give us some history about yourself! When did you learn to fly?

I learnt to fly when I was 21. I was in the marines for 5 years (I joined after school at 17) then served with 42 commando and specialised in communications and signals. Joined 6 assault squadron onboard HMS Albion and went to Sierra Leone. Then I had a car accident in which I broke my back, meaning I can’t feel or use my legs.

So I’ve always been in this predicament whilst flying. After the accident I needed to find another line of work, so I learnt to fly and bloody loved it! Wouldn’t change it for the world! This is just another chapter. I want to continue doing this and building on it.

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It’s why your documentary interested me so much when I first switched on the TV! I thought to myself, maybe if I watch these crazy flight paths, the next one I fly won’t seem so bad!

Well the strips you see in the series are the most extreme In the world. They don’t get any more dangerous than that!

And yet you seemed more excited than scared! It was pretty impressive! What goes through your mind when you’re on the plane? Or even beforehand?

I think before hand and during flight I have a feeling of being excited and just contently happy.

I think flying just runs through my blood. The first memories I have as a child are about aeroplanes. It’s a very weird love affair. But I find that all my pilot friends feel the same way, you don’t fly aeroplanes and have an attitude that’s ‘yeah they’re OK but it earns the pennies’. Everyone I know or have met who flies lives for it.

Was travelling always high on your agenda, even before the documentary? Was it something you did often? Or did you throw yourself in at the deep-end?

I’ve always had the wonderlust. Me and my brothers were brought up in the country next to a farm and from day one would go exploring the fields around the village. Joining the marines meant I got to travel all over the world and I just loved that. Canada, America, all over Europe, Africa,  the Med, Iceland… 

Which was your favourite destination from filming the documentary? 

I really do love Nepal. But to name a specific location it’ll be Haggerstone Island in the Torres Straights. Between Australia and Papua New Guinea. It’s out of this world paradise. It’s this little island that is owned by a modern day ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ who have raised their three kids on it.

Just them on the island? 

Yeah just themselves. They’ve been there since the 70’s and have built their own inflict rupture to support themselves and their guests from resources they have on the island. You can go swimming and within 5 minutes harpoon a massive cray fish and BBQ it on the beach. They don’t work, they just provide for themselves, but by God do they live a luxury lifestyle.

I’m going nearby for my honeymoon next year – maybe I should give them a call and drop in?

They accommodate guests who pay like £3000 a night! Check the price! But you have to try it! You’ll never feel so off the radar anywhere in the world, it’s amazing.

That’s what I love, that off-radar feeling.

Yeah me too. We live a far too congested life.

So where was the hardest place you visited?

The Dolpa region of the Himalayas, definitely not built for a man in a wheelchair and I needed a bit of help from the crew here and there which I found hard.

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I saw that clip in last weeks show, I thought you handled it really well.

Thank you, it is tough because I don’t like asking for help, but as you can imagine the mountains are demanding on your arms, it certainly helped being quite fit!

Did you do any specialist training for off-road stuff and tricky landscapes before leaving? Or did you just wing it?

Nah I just managed it. Before we left as a crew though we had a remote trauma training day which involved dealing with car accidents first aid and hostile situations.

What were you most worried about before setting off? And also what were you most excited about? (I can guess it was flying – but still thought I’d ask!)

My biggest concern was being a burden on the team, but we gelled like brothers really within the first week and thankfully we just worked. Hmmm the thing I was most excited about? I think mountain flying in the Himalayas –  but actually I think, spending time with the real 100% real tribes in West Papua.

Once in a lifetime for sure that one!

I know! Especially when you think the last reported case of cannibalism was only in the mid 90’s. And the couple we were staying with were missionaries and had their farther eaten by the next tribe along!

What has filming the documentary taught you about yourself?

I think just how much I was born to explore and get out and about. I could never work the 9-5 or office based job. There’s a famous quote from someone who I forget, which is ‘life’s a book, and if you don’t travel you only read a page’ I’m sure you’ve heard it. 

Do you have any more plans in the works for more exploring?

I desperately hope they commission a series two but we’ll see. We do have other ideas with the channel which are bigger and better but they’re confidential at the moment! Basically along the same lines but more episodes and more dynamic discovery of places.

We live in a bubble world that and we’re spoon fed everything we should do and like and I’m so fed up with it! I’m not saying go out there and hurt yourself, but when we leave this country, and the rules and restrictions, it brings you so much freedom and you can almost breath easily. 


What I loved so much about the documentary was how real it was. Un-staged, raw travel – just a normal guy exploring.

Thank you. I am just a normal guy, I’ll never  be what they call ‘talent’ haha!

Arthur Williams

Now the hardest question! Where haven’t you been, that would be next on your list?

I love finding the locations that are unique. I’d never go traveling in Thailand for example. D love to go and explore Russia. The far flung extreme regions, Siberia for example. I’d also love to go to South America, Greenland, Iceland and also some of the tiniest island around the world.

Arthur actually has his own blog (click here to read it) which I highly recommend checking out. He’s going to be writing more about his adventures on there – so if you enjoyed the TV shows, you’ll definitely enjoy reading his take on things on there too.

I was so happy to be able to talk to Arthur, and it’s not often you feel humbled in a persons company. An awesome guy, and a brilliant TV show (there are still 2 more episode to come, on Channel 4!) so make sure you tune in.

The time we got engaged in NYC.

I am (admittedly) a NYC obsessive. I grew up surrounding myself with everything NYC related, I was absolutely obsessed with the city – and still am. I visited for the first time when I was 18, and have kept visiting every couple of years since then.

It’s basically like a love-affair. 

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My other love (cheesy, but let’s roll with it) is my amazing boyfriend and my partner in all my adventures – Pad. So I guess it only makes sense, that he’d choose New York City as the place he wanted to propose. Which is exactly what happened on December 30th 2014 – during our most recent visit to the city.

I don’t want to go too much into detail – because I feel like it should be a private moment, that we get to tell people about in person, rather than on a blog…. but it was the most perfect moment I ever could’ve imagined and we had the most incredible, wonderful holiday too.

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It’s funny, because Pad has always told me flat out, he would NEVER EVER propose in NYC. His reasoning was that it’d be way to predictable, and I’d totally see it coming. And I totally bought it. I believed him.

So much so, when this trip to New York arrived, I couldn’t have been further from expecting it. Which made the moment even more special.

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Some of our best memories have been in New York. One of our first ever proper holidays was here, and we returned shortly after on the tail-end of our round the world trip. It’s somewhere we both adore – and now has a firm place in our lives and memories, as the place we got engaged.

There is no one else I’d rather keep making memories with, than him. And I can’t wait for all our future adventures, which just keep getting better and better. 

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My Christmas and New Year traditions…

Every year when Christmas rolls around, I literally find it impossible to contain my excitement. Christ and New Year is absolutely my favourite time of year – above and beyond any other month / season.

I have two very different traditions for Christmas and New Year though, so I thought I’d share them.

Christmas traditions….

Before Christmas comes, in December I basically spend every weekend soaking up everything Christmassy EVER in London. That includes Winter Wonderland (this weekend), any german market or festive market, Covent Garden (done), Oxford Street lights (done) decorating our tree (done) and just general merriment and mostly, Mulled Cider.

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Then, Christmas Day and Boxing Day is all about snuggling up on the sofa with family (with the radiators on full blast), opening presents and then cooking a massive Christmas dinner, which we sit down to eat at around 3pm. We’ve usually eaten too many sweets to be hungry before then anyway.

Following this will be lots of Baileys and lots of crappy Christmas themed movies. YAY!

My Christmasses growing up were just as lovely, and it’s those years I remember the most. This would (of course) all take place in our family-home – which was a beautiful cottage in the North of England, with picture-perfect countryside views, and amazing countryside walks just a step out of the door. We’d all go out and walk the dog and sometimes even go sledging on the golf course (if it had snowed).

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To recreate the magic of a country Christmas (like the ones of my youth!) I found some gorgeous winter cottages on which fit the bill!

Orchard Cottage, Penzance
Green Hedges, Bath
Pathways, Beachwood Cottage, Lansdown
Martleaves Farm, Wyke Regis
Armswell House, Ansty

I also found some research by them too – from a winter-snug survey they did (best name for a survey like ever, right?) which listed the top things people want during a snuggly winter getaway…

1.       A log fire (74%) – Seems reasonable! I know my family hour had one, and it was magic! And also – it’s how Santa visits!

2.       A steaming pot of slow-cooked stew (45%) – Made by Mum of course!

3.       Hot chocolate (43%) – CADBURYS FOR ME!

4.       Large bath (42%) – Yes, yes a thousand times yes. How else will I warm up my numb bum from sledging and snow angels?

5.       WiFi (39%) – Because it might be Christmas but I still need Instagram. 

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Now onto my New Year traditions… 

If Christmas is all about family, then New Year is all about Pad and I. It’s our special night together, because we don’t spend Christmas day together. For the last 4 years we’ve spent every new year’s eve in a different country watching a different iconic bell-chime.

The most memorable was Sydney (how could it not be, really?!) and we’ve both agreed that was hands-down one of the best nights ever. We watched the fireworks from the perfect spot ever in the Botanical gardens, and had the best view of the fireworks imaginable.

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Last year we stood in the freezing cold on a London rooftop and watched the wheel light up from up high. It was magical, and we saw every firework display in London light up around us too.

This year, we’re going to NYC! We’ve both been dreaming of this one for ages – and couldn’t be more excited. It’s another one to tick off the list!

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I think next year we might have to do Vegas! 😉

What are your traditions around this time of year? How will you be spending December and January? 

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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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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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?





Parking valet

Hotel porter

Taxi driver





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!

What is it like to attend a movie premiere?

Ever wondered what is it like to attend a movie premiere? Well I found out for myself!

I’ve never thought of myself as a lucky person (far from it) – most of the time if someone in the room is going to trip up / fall over / break something / embarrass themselves – it’ll most likely be me.

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But anyway, last week I saw a competition on twitter, with the prize being 2 tickets to the Godzilla movie premiere in London. I live in London anyway (and I was super excited for Godzilla) so I decided to enter. With absolutely no thought about winning, I entered it and forgot all about it minutes later. Which is easy to do when you’ve never won anything, like, ever.

5 hours (or so) later I was jumping up and down in my seat (like Tom Cruise on Oprah) because I’d had a tweet telling me I’d won the tickets. This was a big deal! The first time I’d ever won anything! ALSO IT MEANT I WAS GOING TO A PREMIERE!


So I went and it was great. Godzilla, incase you were wondering about the actual movie, was pretty solid. Both myself and the boyfriend gave it a solid 7/10. Not bad.

The main excitement though was being able to get dressed up and walk the red carpet, and a chance for me to see Pad in a suit (which never happens, ever).

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When did we arrive? 

Our ticket said anytime between 6pm and 6.45pm. So, as we’d arrived a bit early, we sat in a bar in Leicester Square as we waited for the time to approach. We could see the red carpet warming up from our seats at the bar, so that was kind of exciting. When we saw loads of flashed going off, we figured some of the celebs had started to arrive, so we decided to head over and make our entrance too.

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There were two entrances, one for car arrivals (pretty much all the a-listers were arriving that way) and one for guests who were on foot. This was us. We waited in a holding area of about 50 other people, whilst they let us enter the red carpet in groups. I’m guessing this was done to spread out the excitement, and to prevent too many people crowding on the carpet at one time.

What happens when you’re on the red carpet?

In short? You get asked to keep walking!

It was incredible to walk along the red carpet past the movie stars and with all the crowds cheering, etc, but you had to walk slowly to really make the most of it because there were staff on the carpet actively trying to get you to speed up. Pad and I milked it for all it was worth (and being a blogger I consider myself pretty good at taking sneaky photos) – so we posed for a few photos ourselves, a few times, and took a few photos for other people in our little group too.

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Here we are! I think we almost look like could fit in….? 

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I even spotted the man himself, Brian Cranston getting interviewed – and managed to get a sneaky snap of that too.

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Entering the cinema…

There are two entrances to the cinema, well it’s one big entrance but two different sides. One side for the ‘riffraff’ (that was us) and one for the a-listers and stars of the movie. One entrance took you upstairs and one took your downstairs. The premiere cinema screen actually has two tiers in Leicester Square, so the celebs sit on the top tier, well out of reach of all the ordinary folk! The cinema is huge itself – with leopard print chairs (which I thought was a bit weird) but each to their own.

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On everyone’s seat was a bottle of water, and a box of little biscuit things. Oh and 3D glasses for the film. If you wanted other drinks and snacks there were these guys selling them old ‘hollywood-style out of little boxes around their necks, and a drinks cart at the front of the cinema. We had been assigned seats (on our tickets) so we headed straight over and took our seats!

On the cinema screen at the front they were showing all the red carpet goings-on outside, so that was pretty cool. We got to watch all the interviews and stuff before the film started which gave it a lot of context, and gave us things to look out for in the movie.

The film itself! 

Before the film started, all the cast and directors (and other important people) came up on stage to say a few words. This was one of my favourite parts. I mean, when else can you watch a movie and have the director personally introduce it beforehand? As we were really close to the front too – the cast were literally a few feet away, so it felt really special.

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Excuse the terrible quality of some of these photos – we were asked not to bring full sized cameras into the cinema, so my camera phone had to suffice!

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Godzilla was a great movie, not what I expected and definitely lived up to the hype that had surrounded it before entering. It was pretty scary in parts too (but I’m a bit of a wimp) so don’t take my word for it.

One thing I really loved was the ‘whooping’ and cheering from the crowd at key moments of the film. I wish I could do this at every movie I ever watch from now on.

There was a real community feel to the screening and everyone was really excited and involved. When two of the main characters kissed at the end there was whistling and cheering – and when the film ended and the big climax scene at the end happened (don’t worry – no spoilers) the room erupted with clapping and cheers. It was such a change to normal – and a real experience.

Sometimes I think we’re a little to reserved as British, but it felt super American in the premiere, like the director was the boss and we were all his own personal cheerleading squad.

Pad and I got an Uber taxi home afterwards (to stick to the celebrity-feel of the evening).

Then we got McDonalds and sat on the sofa watching Inbetweeners. Which made us feel back to normal again. 

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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!

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.

air new zealand space seat review

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.

My Favourite Moments from 2013

2013 has been a pretty good year for me…. after months and months of planning and organising our big round the world trip – 2013 was the year we finally got to set off and do it. Because it was such an incredible year, I wanted to put some of our highlights down on paper (virtual paper!). So here are my favourite moments from 2013 (in no particular order I might add!).

Storm chasing in Hong Kong 

Whilst we were in Hong Kong, it never seemed to stop raining. One particular day though, as we boarded the Star Ferry, on our way back to our hotel – we could actually see the storm approaching. You can see it in the photo below, and from the moment that photo was taken, it took about 5 minutes to reach us on the boat. I can honestly say, I’ve never seen or felt rain like it. It literally came out of nowhere, and then just pelted down for about an hour at full force. Pad and I were in absolute awe of it, and although we attempted to shelter for awhile, in the end we just legged it into the rain and decided to risk it. Needless to say – we got absolutely drenched.

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Waking up to this view in Hong Kong

We wanted to book ourselves a room with a view when we were in Hong Kong (because as far as views go – Hong Kong has a pretty incredible one on offer) so we opted for a suite at at The Langham Place Hotel in Mongkok. It was so stunning, and the room was everything we’d hoped for. The view from our window is what you can see in the photo below – and it was just perfect. Waking up (and going to sleep) with that outlook was just incredible.

For more photos of gorgeous Hong Kong, click here.

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Winning (and gambling) at The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore

Now, Pad will claim it was his idea to walk away from the table when we did (whatever…) but whoever’s idea it was – we went away from the Casino $200 up. If only we’d been as lucky in Las Vegas a few months later….! It was literally like we couldn’t stop winning… I think the old man next us was our lucky mascot. Definitely an amazing way to end our time in Singapore.

To read more about my time in Singapore, click here.

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Having a private luxury pod on the Singapore Flyer

We were gifted some complimentary tickets for The Singapore Flyer by their PR team, and expected to rock up and experience the regular tourist attraction. What actually happened, was much different! We were chauffeured through to a private entrance, got to skip the entire queue, and walked straight into our very own luxury pod at sunset. It was pretty amazing – and even more so because it was a complete surprise. It was also the first time we’d both tried the famous Singapore Sling – and The Flyer was the perfect place to try it for the first time!

For my full review of The Singapore Flyer, click here. 

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Our 5 days on The Gold Coast

The Gold Coast was one of our last stops in Australia, and after a month of hostels and budgeting – we splashed out a little when we finally arrived at Surfers Paradise. Our hotel room overlooks the beautiful rivers, and every night the sunset was just beyond beautiful. We had planned to cram our 5 days there full of theme parks and activities – but when we arrived we realised all we wanted to do was relax and take it easy. We drank a lot of cider on that balcony, we (attempted) our very own Oz BBQ (and failed miserably!), we ate a lot of frozen yoghurt, had the best caesar salad ever, and we spent hours laying on the beach doing absolutely nothing.

For more information about The Gold Coast, click here. 

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Learning to surf in Noosa

We hadn’t really prioritised surfing to be honest, but a girl we met at our hostel recommended it to us – so we decided (on a whim) to give it a try. I think we were both a bit apprehensive looking back – but within 20 minutes in the water we were both in love! Learning to surf was so much fun, and both us have agreed several times since, that it absolutely was one of the best things we ever decided to do. I know that Pad is beyond excited to give it another go as soon as we’re anywhere near another beach – so next year should be much the same! If you are looking to learn surfing, Noosa is such a beautiful spot to do it and quite an appealing spot too. The waters are warm, not to deep and it is home to Australia’s best surf school!

Click here for info about our first surfing lesson in Noosa.

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Seeing The Great Barrier Reef

I can’t really put this into words. But if you’ve been – you’ll know. I’ve never before felt so small, so insignificant and yet so free and inspired. I know that sounds super lame-ass. But you really can’t understand until you’ve been and seen this whole other world under the waves. We didn’t even get the best weather for it (I suffered pretty horrendous seasickness whilst on our boat) and yet, you still can’t avoid the beauty and the peacefulness that lies underneath the waves.

It was bizarre actually. Above the water there was wind, gales and you were being thrown about, but then once you were underneath the sea it was completely different. Pad and I spent our time gliding around under the water holding hands (otherwise we would’ve drifted apart!) trying to point out all the amazing creatures. At one point this turtle swam up literally a few centimetres in front of us, and I got to reach out and touch it’s shell. That right there, was just amazing.

To read the full blog post about our day on the reef, click here.

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Introducing these guys to Fergburger (and other things!)

During our last few weeks in Queenstown, two of my very best friends came and stopped with us in New Zealand for a few weeks. Sharing our new home with them was so much fun – and it was great to share all these amazing things we’d done and found with them too. This included Fergburger, Flame (Ben’s face when he saw the size of the mixed grill was hilarious!), Fat Badgers (which we had like 3 times?!), and the gorgeous Kelvin Heights (where we finally jumped in the lake).

More about all that, by clicking here! 

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Onsen Hot Pools in Queenstown

This was such a treat, and really was a once in a lifetime experience. Onsen Hot Pools are located a little way out of Queenstown (about a 10 minute drive through the mountains) but worth the trip – especially for those who want to do some relaxing after all the adrenaline activities. We went for the evening package, and has champagne, candles and even a little picnic hamper. Perfection!

For a full review (and lot’s more photos!) of The Onsen Hot Pools, click here. 

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NZ Road trip with Moogan

For Paddy’s birthday, we rented a car and explored our little bit of the South Island. We crammed so much in, and it was so much fun just zipping around, playing music a bit too loud and finding all those hidden places we’d never have found without a car. The reason he looks so happy below – is because of how modern and swish the car was. The previous time we had rented a car in NZ, we’d been stuck with a car that was about 30 years old… and still had a cassette player. One of my most hilarious memories from this road trip was Puzzling World in Wanaka. They have this one room on there where you feel like you’re walking up but actually you’re walking down. It’s weird – and difficult to explain. Anyway, the aim of this room is to (quite simply) get to the other side without falling over. We’d both fallen in to the final wall and were already laughing, when this old Chinese man turned the corner and mouthed “help me!” with all seriousness. All three of us burst out laughing and we were still laughing out it an hour later.

For more on our road tripping stuff, click here. 

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New Years Eve in Sydney

I can’t think of a better way we could’ve started 2013. The night was perfect, the view was breathtaking and the experience was just priceless. I’ll never forget it – and for anyone even contemplating spending NYE in Sydney, I would just say DO IT. We spent the night at Sydney Harbourlights and it was the best money we’ve ever spent.

For more info about an incredible night, click here. 

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Finally seeing the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas

I loved Las vegas, and my favourite part was (of course) the Bellagio Fountains. Not much to say other than WOW. Yes they’re touristy, but they’re so magical too! I’d been so excited to see them, and they didn’t disappoint at all. We’re hoping to go back to Las vegas in 2014 – so I hopefully won’t have to wait too long to see them again!

Click here to read more about Las Vegas. 

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The Grand Canyon

Another thing I’d been dying to see, needless to say, the Grand Canyon didn’t disappoint either. I mean…. how can it?! We went with Pink Jeep Tours and everything about the day was just fantastic. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it.

For more info on our day in The Grand Canyon, click here. 

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Putting our padlock on Padlock Bridge

Paris was our last destination of the year, and putting our Padlock on the bridge seemed really fitting. We’ve been through a lot this year, and that seemed like such a perfect way to round things off.

Click here to see more photos from Padlock Bridge in Paris.

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Moving into our new London home 

After months of being on the road earlier in the year, we were both so excited to be settled into a home again. We’ve decided to settle in Balham (South West London) and our home is so gorgeous. Moving day has definitely been a highlight, and every day since too.

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Things do to in Paris when it Rains

Pad and I have a habit of getting unlucky with weather.

When we were in Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong and the USA earlier in the year – thunder and rain seemed to follow is around like a bad smell. Occasionally we’d get excited about a blue sky when we woke up in the morning – only to discover clouds rolling in seconds later.

Saying that though, its something we’ve always made the best of. Yes rain isn’t always the most ideal weather type – but most of the time, if you’re somewhere worth being, with someone worth being with – it doesn’t matter if it’s raining or not.

So, back to Paris.

I thought I’d share a few photos of us looking all drenched!

Paris in the rain tip 1: Find someone tech savvy and nimble to take tourist photos for you. The longer you wait for them to take the photo – the wetter you’re going to get!

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Paris in the rain tip 2: When looking for somewhere to shelter from the rain – choose small cafes on back streets, not big cafes right by the attractions. This glass of Coke set us back 18 Euros! 18! Ouch. At least he looks like he’s enjoying it though hey?

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Paris in the rain tip 3: Paris is still very pretty (even in rain) but make sure you remember to whip your camera out whenever sunshine makes a rare cameo during your day.

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Paris in the rain tip 4: When the rain gets really really bad – just go hide in the Metro, and ride the train until the people getting on don’t look wet anymore. That means the rain has probably stopped.

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Paris in the rain tip 5: If you smile in photos – no one will notice the rain, or that you are soaking wet through.

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Paris in the rain tip 6: This isn’t a tip really, just proof that the above tip is in fact true and correct.

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Paris in the rain tip 7: The Sacré Cœur is kind of windy so doubles up your wetness factor (but the view is proper nice). Approach with caution when in the rain, don’t expect your umbrella to keep you safe.

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Paris in the rain tip 8: Wear boots (waterproof if you can). Under all those beautiful autumn leaves are puddles of mud. You have been warned! 
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Paris in the rain tip 9: Book a nice hotel you can run back to when it all gets too much.

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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!


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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My only regret from travelling the world….

Is that I didn’t get contact lenses first. 

I know that’s a weird thing to write about on a travel blog. But I FINALLY got round to getting contacts this week, and I’ve spent the whole week wishing I’d got them sooner. It’s pretty awesome – being given the gift of un-hindered vision – and I literally could not recommend it more.

Before I went travelling, I was torn between two options. Either I got myself some new glasses and some subscription sunglasses for the big trip, or I took the leap and went for contact lenses. In the end I decided contacts seemed a bit drastic – and decided to stick to glasses.

There’s nothing wrong with glasses. Let’s clear that up straight away. I love mine – and have been wearing them on and off for about 8 years now.

When I begun travelling though, they became such a hindrance. In places like Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong (and even Australia at times) when the humidity was super high my glasses would always steam up when we walked outside into the heat, which got hugely frustrating after the first few times! Due to the fact I was always taking photos and videos of ourselves too (and I rarely like photos of myself in glasses) I would always have to take the glasses off when we took a photo. Which I know is a bit vain – but I’m being completely honest and open here.

I think my glasses were in my bra for this photo. Ha.

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It’s also something else to worry about losing – that kind of worry you don’t really have with contacts – because once contacts are in your eyes – they’re not going to get sat on, or left on a bus, or scratched, or get smashed in your bag accidentally. Which seems to be my frequent life-story with glasses.

So basically.

Even just walking around London this week with contacts I noticed how easier life is. As I mentioned, I don’t tend to wear my glasses full-time (usually just for sight-seeing, watching TV, general life stuff that requires me to see things far away).

But now:

I can actually read street signs.

I can read tube maps on the tube.

I can see the numbers on the front of buses before they pull into the stop.

I can see people I know when they’re walking towards me (which is great and avoids those awkward “oh I literally didn’t see you there!” conversations) 

I can watch 3D films WITHOUT having to wear my normal glasses under the 3D glasses. Yes I really had to do this.

I can’t help thinking how much easier having contacts would have made sightseeing, and how much more fun I’d have had  exploring – if I’d have been able to see the world as clearly as I now can with contacts. So yeah, if you’re even considering getting contact lenses – just do it. Especially if you’re considering them in regards to travelling. I would do anything to go back in time and go snorkelling on the great barrier reef with contacts in…. I keep thinking of all the extra things I would’ve been able to see…!

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I guess it’s a good excuse to go and do it all again though right??


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



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.


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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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.


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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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.


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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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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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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Did you enjoy this post or find it helpful? If so I’d love if you could spare a second to vote for me in The Cosmopolitan Blog Awards 2014. Just click here to get to the voting site. Thanks a million!

VIDEO: This is What a Year of Travelling Looks Like…..

So I made a video….

I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed filming it!

Also, on a related note – I recently got shortlisted for best travel blog by the Cosmo Blog Awards. If you have a second – I would love for you to vote 🙂

Just click here.

The process is pretty simple, just click ‘next’ until you reach the travel category, and you’ll find The World and Then Some at the top of the list. Select it – then keep scrolling through until you reach the last category and it says ‘submit’. Then submit 🙂

Thanks so much!

I Have Something To Confess.

One thing I was hoping to get out of travelling – or rather, get rid of – was my fear of flying.

I know. Why travel the world when you are absolutely petrified of flying?

Why put yourself through multiple flights on average, every 5 days, if you hate it?

Well, honestly – because I think my passion for travel out-weighs my fear for flying. But that doesn’t make it any less real. 

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I honestly thought that eventually, by travelling, my fear would gradually fade into the background. That it would simmer down and that perhaps I’d be able to finally relax into a flight and the idea of flying instead of dreading it the entire day prior.

But that hasn’t really happened.

I had a bit of a breakdown on our last night in Bangkok, because I’m so sick of feeling paralysed by this fear. And I think it’s important to talk about it – because unlike what many people may believe, travelling isn’t fun 100% of the time. For me, it’s incredible the entire time we’re on solid ground. But the day when we’re due to fly? And the flight itself? You’ll find me clutching my boyfriends hand, a bag of nerves, wishing I was anywhere else but there.

So maybe it’s important to be honest about these things. 

And maybe, if you’re someone who also has a fear of flying, and you’re reading this. Maybe you’ll feel encouraged by the fact that even though I hate flying and it fills me with pure dread, I still board that flight and I cope with it the best I can. Because I know travel is worth it all.

But I’m trying so hard to overcome it, despite a few hiccups along the way.

Over new year, we had a terrible flight into Queenstown, NZ where our plane had a missed approach on landing and we had to surge up the engines again metres from the runway and take-off again. I was an absolute wreck during those few minutes, and I think it erased any progress I’d made previously. Before that, I’d never really hated the landing part (because, hey – it means you’re nearly there) but now my nerves are so on edge during landing I find myself glancing around the cabin frantically every 30 seconds. Pad compared me to a Meerkat – if that helps you imagine it. A super panicked Meerkat. Having a bad day.

Ever since then I’ve felt myself getting worse and it’s become a bit of a downward spiral. In Thailand on a couple of internal flights we had to fly on smaller planes with propellers instead of engines. This was almost a breaking point for me. I literally felt overwhelmed by the fear. I even contemplated having us drive across Thailand and hiring a taxi to take us to our next destination (making a 45 minute plane journey a 7 hour drive). But Pad being the ever supportive boyfriend he is, assured me that I’d be OK – and we were. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t spend the entire flight gripping his hand and cutting off his circulation.

Why am I writing this?

Well, after I had my Bangkok-Breakdown, Pad asked me what I was actually scared of. And I put it down to a mixture of things.

I hate not having control.

I don’t understand how it works.

I hate the sensation of flying.

I dread the turbulence. And I hate the dreading.

It goes on.

So Pad told me to start researching how a plane works. To help me understand. So I could understand exactly what all the sounds were that scared me so much. So I could change my outlook of flying, to a positive one instead of a negative one.

I don’t know why I’d never thought of it before honestly. I feel a bit foolish for never typing into Google “How does a plane stay in the air” or “tips for fearful flyers” but I never had before that night. Which is stupid. Because there are so many people out there with the same fear (1 in 6 apparently) and they are all there, online offering advice.

So now, I know how a plane stays up. It’s something to do with lift, and the way the air glides over the wings of the plane – which creates different pressure levels. And that makes me feel a bit better.

I also know that whilst turbulence is a discomfort – it isn’t dangerous, and the planes are designed to with-stand it and they are designed to be strong and safe in turbulence.

I found this website…. and I read through the FAQs and the forums and I can’t thank the guy who wrote it enough.

I read tips like, watching children’s television helps – because they distract you easily and are designed for short attention spans. I read that it helps to imagine turbulence as bumps in the road or like waves on a boat. I read that it helps to imagine the captain doing day-to-day things like brushing his teeth and driving to work. And then imaging him going home after the flight to his family and having tea. Because, although it isn’t to you – this flight is completely routine to him.

It’s helping now, just typing all this stuff out. 

So, last night when we boarded our plane to Hong Kong I was feeling OK. Not confident, not happy or excited – but OK. Which was enough for me at that moment in time. I told Pad, that during this flight I was going to be brave, and that I was going to cope. Which I did.

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Turns out, it was a blessing I found all that advice, and especially the website which I mentioned earlier – because this flight to Hong Kong was a particularly bad one. We actually descended into Hong Kong at night time through a Thunder Storm, probably the biggest thunder storm I’ve ever seen. My heart is beating harder in my chest just describing it. We could see lightening out of the window, bright and white. The turbulence was bad – very bad. At one point we dropped a considerable distance, and many people on board screamed.

But the entire time, I kept my head down, I kept my hands in Pad’s and I closed my eyes. I kept telling myself all the information I’d read the night before. I kept recounting it in my head over and over. I even said a few of the things out loud, as if that might make it more true and convincing.

But I didn’t cry. And I didn’t panic.

In fact, when we touched down, I had dry eyes and I even managed to smile. And then minutes later, I managed to laugh. I had trusted the captain, I had trusted the plane and I was OK. Yes it had been horrible and frightening – and even now I’m trying not to think about it – but I had been so brave.

I don’t think I’ve ever said this, but I was really proud of myself. I’d actually surprised myself with how brave I’d been.

So, I probably can do this. 

And because the World has a sense of humour (and maybe as a reminder to me to have one too in situations like this), after the flight had taxied to the airport I started to pack up my stuff from the little pocket in front of me where I keep my tablet and headphones, etc during the flight. I reached in, and I saw something small, red and yellow, stuffed in the bottom of the pocket and pulled it out. It had clearly been forgotten by the last person who sat there.

It was a super hero mask.

Maybe that’s all I needed all along. 

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Things I’ll Miss About Australia (And Things I Won’t)

As far as travelling destinations go – Australia is like the ultimate one. It’s one of those places that you daydream about when you’re from the UK (especially with programmes like Home and Away romanticising the place every night at 5pm). It’s not hard to see why so many of us Brits want to travel Australia – and the more you see the more you fall in love with this beautiful country.

I can hardly believe actually that we’ve been here a month now. It’s gone so fast, and we’ve seen so much – it’s going to be bizarre saying goodbye and heading off our next destination – Asia. But as a fond farewell, here are a few things I’ll miss about this beautiful place…

1. The beaches

Never before have I ever seen such beautiful beaches as I have whilst in Australia. The beaches are huge, and some span for miles up the coastline making for the most incredibly humbling views. Pad and I loved driving the Great Ocean Road down in Melbourne and seeing the huge beaches and waves as we drove by them, but we also love the tropical beaches of The Whitsundays (even though we had rain!) and the gorgeous golden sands of Noosa, Surfers Paradise and Byron Bay. It’s also amazing to be able to swim in the sea properly – and not have to worry about freezing your toes off if you stay in too long. The sea here is clean, warm and perfectly turquoise in most places we visited. Paradise!

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2. The atmosphere

It’s no coincidence that people stereotype Aussies and Kiwis as laid back and relaxed. It’s a stereotype that is completely accurate. We love that about Australia – we love being able to walk around bare foot, not having to rush anywhere and just generally having a sunny attitude. I’ve felt safe in almost all the places we’ve visited both during the daytime and during the night-time. We’re both pretty laid back anyway in life – but here it’s just the norm and nothing is too much hassle and people are friendly from the get go. In a way it reminded me of being back home in North of England – where everyone is your friend even if you don’t know them – something which I missed a lot moving down to London. But yeah, the atmosphere is nice and puts a smile on your face. We also love the outdoor facilities they have over here – especially the public BBQs!

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3. Sydney

We loved Sydney and we’ll miss it. If it wasn’t so far away – I think we’d definitely be considered moving there and maybe setting up sticks. It’s an awesome city with just about everything you could want. London is pretty awesome (granted) but it doesn’t have any perfect golden beaches nearby. Unless you count Brighton Beach – which I don’t.

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4. The TV schedule

This is a silly one and I probably shouldn’t even admit to it – being a world traveller and all that. But the TV in Australia is SO good. They have all the best US shows (including Friends, brand new Big Bang Theory AND How I Met Your Mother AND Amazing Race) old and new, as well as British and Australian shows. Pad and I are pretty hooked on this show they’ve been airing here called Hannibal – a new US series, and now we’re going to have to wait like 5 years to finish the series. Because that’s probably how long it’ll take to come to the UK. Not that I’m bitter or anything… 😉

5. The weather

Because it’s amazing when the sun shines and makes me want to do this every morning as we walk to the beach.

And the things I won’t miss…. 

1. The Prices

Australia is SO expensive. The most expensive place I’ve ever been and Pad agrees. When we budgeted for Australia we had to budget much more than we usually would – simply because we knew it would end up being more than we expected. For those of you from the UK – these are the kind of prices you end up paying for stuff in £s for various things over here in Oz…

Bottle of Brand Shampoo (for example Loreal): £6.50 (normal price in UK? About £2.50) 

Bottle of Batiste Dry Shampoo: £8/9 (normal UK price? About £1.50) 

Cocktail in Restaurant: £14-20 (normal UK price? About £5-10)

Mars Bar: £3 (normal UK price? About £1, maybe less)

Robinsons Fruit Squash: £8 (normal UK price? About £1) 

You get the picture. If you’re coming to Australia make sure you’ve saved up your pennies because it’s very unforgiving financially.

2. The long drives

Australia is huge and we’ve covered a lot of miles in a short amount of time. One thing I’m not going to miss are the huge drives we’ve done from place to place. 13 hours on a coach isn’t fun. It is cheap though and a great way to see the country – so I guess that equals itself out somewhat.

The Great Ocean Road Melbourne Victoria Australia

3. The insects

In Australia I have had (approximately) 15 insect bites. If not more. You forget that Australia is a tropical country the further North you go and I seemed to be getting eaten alive in Cairns, by ants, spiders, mozzies, sand flies… you name it. My worst bites were ant bites in Cairns, which were actually painful (rather than just irritating) but you learn to live with it. It’s a small price to pay for such a gorgeous location.

4. The threat of Sharks

It’s no secret that Australia has sharks, and it does cross your mind occasionally when you’re in the sea (however beautiful the beach is that you’re on) that there coule be a few lurking around. Luckily we didn’t encounter any, but it sure will be nice to swim in the sea and not have to worry about a jaws style fin emerging above the waves.

Night-Time City-Scape Photography

My favourite time to take photos is during the evening when the sun goes down – because for most cities this is when they look the prettiest and the definitely the most photogenic! This will only be a short post – just a few of my own favourite snapshots from previous trips taken during my favourite time of day.

One of the things I’m most excited for when we set off on our RTW trip is taking even more of these night time photos. So expect another blog post very similar to this in a few months, with some very different locations though!

Sydney harbour night time landscape

Sydney – Darling Harbour

Sydney harbour night time landscape

Sydney – Darling Harbour

Sydney harbour night time landscape

Sydney – Darling Harbour

Sydney harbour night time landscape

Sydney – Taken from The Botanical Gardens

Sydney harbour night time landscape

Sydney – Taken from The Botanical Gardens

Wellington harbour night time landscape

Wellington Harbour

Wellington harbour night time landscape

Wellington Harbour

Dubai Marina night time landscape

Dubai Marina

New York City night time sky scrapers

Times Square, NYC

New York City night time sky scrapers

Manhattan, NYC (taken from the Pulaski Bridge)

Dubai Marina night time landscape

Dubai – Burj al Arab Hotel

London City night time sky scrapers

London Embankment

The Oman UAE Night time

The Oman

London night time landscape

Trafalgar Square, London

I Freaking Love Photo Booths. Part 1.

I love photos. But more than that, I love instant photos. Photo Booths are my favourite thing. In the whole world.

There is this one little photo booth in Queenstown Cinema (now, the first thing you have to understand about Queenstown Cinema is it’s like a 1980’s throwback). It has these little curtains around it, and it’s only $4 to get 6 photos. I make Paddy go in it with me every time we see a film.

It has actually inspired me though – and when we set off travelling in 6 weeks, I’m going to try and find a photo booth in every city we visit. Then at the end of the trip I’m going to cut them all up and fram them in a big frame. I love my photos, but there’s something a bit special about a photo booth picture. Then we’ll have this awesome souvenir showing how we’ve changed (etc) whilst travelling (I’m guessing the main change will be our tan).

Here are a few so far….

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Things we’ve learnt whilst travelling.

I know it’s cliche to sit here and say that travelling has been a journey of discovery – but for once – such a cliche is actually pretty true.

Cheesy, but true. 

When faced with bug bites, weird hostels, flight delays, awful landings, getting lost, heat waves (and a number of other things) you really learn a lot about yourself. Pad and I haven’t even really begun our travelling yet – I mean, yes, we’re in New Zealand and we’ve travelled around NZ and a bit of Oz – but all our major adventuring is still to come. Even saying that though, there is so much we’ve learnt about ourselves (and about each other) and about travelling in general.

Here are some of those things. 

I pack too many clothes.

It’s a problem. I’m trying to cut down but it’s like an addiction. We only have 20kgs when we go travelling in a month…. which isn’t a lot when you consider I had 32kgs coming out to NZ. I still don’t know how I got away with that at the airport.

Food is just as important as sight-seeing.

In Sydney Pad proclaimed one evening, that he was consuming “the best kebab I’ve ever had”. Which was quite a momentous occasion. The thing is, we love food. And when you’re abroad the food is just as much an experience as all the other stuff. One of the main things we’re excited for when we travel is the food in the USA. All those ribs and brisket and pulled pork. Yum.

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A traveller and a backpacker are two different things. 

We are travellers, not backpackers. And I’ve started to realise that they are very different things. What’s the difference? Well, to a certain extent we’ve planned what we’re going to be doing, we have flights booked and we’ve can’t miss them. We won’t be sleeping on the beach to save cash (as awesome as that sounds) and we’d choose a private room in a hostel over a dorm any day.  We also don’t mind splashing out on a bit of luxury here and there, if it means our experience is enriched and we get a good nights sleep. I think maybe it’s a mind set, and although we’ll both be carrying backpacks around with us – backpackers we certainly aren’t. That’s not to say I don’t admire backpackers – it’s just a different way of travelling and a different way of seeing the world. Both ways equally as awesome and I don’t think it matters how you see the world and how you experience it – as long as you’re happy, having an awesome time and safe.

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DEET will save the world one day. 

As someone who gets eaten alive every time any kind of biting insect is around – my discovery of DEET has changed my life. I can’t wait to get to Thailand and be all “yeah mozzies, that’s right, you can’t get me anymore”. I’ve heard that DEET can be bad for you, but until there are tests proving it, I’ll be using it.

Don’t just pack ‘nice clothes’

As well as the nice clothe (dresses, shoes, swimwear, etc) – you need to pack sportswear too. Stock up on some decent trainers, some shorts, some comfy tops and cotton vests. You might not wear this kind of stuff at home, but you will wear it when you’re travelling and you’ll regret it if you don’t pack these basics.

Neither of us will willingly be uncomfortable.

Pad and I like to be comfortable and I think we’ve both learnt that comfort is worth the extra money – especially when you’re travelling. In Bondi Beach we stopped in a private double in the YHA, which was great (and surprisingly comfy) but the room had no air conditioning. The weather was scorching outside (we were there on the brink of a record breaking heatwave) and without AC the room was literally a sauna. I think we’d both agree that little comforts like this are worth the extra money now – especially after a few sleepless nights like we had there. Have you ever tried to sleep in a sauna? It’s hard.

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The sauna room in all it’s glory.

I’m an organisational FREAK.

Guilty. I don’t plan because it eases my mind (although that’s one of the reasons) but because I actually enjoy planning. Pad bought me a travel journal Moleskin for Christmas which now has every bit of research and planning you could ever wish for in it. I’ve even written in the book, that if lost, I’ll offer $100 as a reward. That’s how valuable it is to us now. I love planning and I’m a bit of a freak for it. Which is good really, because Pad isn’t. At all. So we strike a good balance.

I like maps and lists and tour books.

I like maps and lists and tour books.

A king-size bed is worth every extra penny you pay for it. 

In Auckland we stayed in the Sky City Casino and we had the biggest bed known to man. We’ve stayed in entire rooms in hostels, that weren’t as big as this bed. It was amazing.

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We’ll never have it all figured out.

Before I got the Moleskin, I was constantly rewriting our plans on paper, again and again. I’d keep crossing places off, finding new ones and then starting the whole planning process again. It became a bit of a joke between us. But the thing is, it just goes to show – you’ll never have it all figured out. You can plan and plan, but the thing is, you never know for sure what to expect until you’re there. And even then, things might change.

WiFi is currency. 

In New Zealand and Australia, you’ll come across really random areas, where people are all sat with laptops and iPads. The other day we were walking in Queenstown and there was this girl skyping someone on a bench in the middle of the high street. She must have found some WiFi signal and decided to take advantage of it. This is common behaviour  and the more you travel the more you start to view WiFi as currency.

“Oh, your crappy cafe has FREE WIFI?! I’M IN!”

We always forget the suncream.

It’s a problem. We’re working on it. One day we’ll learn.

It’s OK just to sit and do nothing. 

A lot fo the time when you’re travelling you feel the pressure to be out, doing things and seeing things. But to be honest, a lot of the time, some of the nicest memories I have of a place is when we’ve done absolutely nothing. In NYC a couple of years ago one of our favourite things to do was just sit and people watch. In Bondi Beach I spent 4 hours sat on our roof terrace in a beanbag reading. Sometimes it’s nice just to sit and do nothing.

How I usually am, when we arrive in a new place.

How I usually am, when we arrive in a new place.

Money needs thinking about, and then re-thinking about.

Budgetting is one of those things that requires a bit of time and attention. Before we came to New Zealand, we had an idea about rent, and how much we’d budget for food, utilities and various other things. But New Zealand and Australia are both very expensive (especially for every day basics and food shopping) which we didn’t really count on or predict. In New Zealand I pay the equivalent of £4.50 for a bottle of Shampoo that at home would cost me £1.50 or less. It’s annoying – but there aren’t any alternatives and it’s just something you need to adjust to and make sure you have the flexibility to adjust to as well.

We’re pretty good at this relationship thing. 

You know that scene in Sex and The City when Charlotte and her husband get food poisoning  and in a weird way it’s kind of romantic, because they take care of each other? Well I spent almost all of January sick with stomach flu, and not once did Pad complain about taking care of me. I was a miserable mess  but he didn’t once make me feel guilty about it. That’s a real relationship test and we definitely pulled through it. Earlier on in January we had a terrible landing into Queenstown (actually we first had a “missed landing”) which shook me right down to my core. I was a crying wreck on the flight, and I genuinely wouldn’t have got through it without Pad. Travelling tends to throw up all sorts of challenges, and it’s nice to know we’re strong enough to get through them.

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Pad will always look after the passports. 

And the tickets. And the boarding passes.

Bad weather doesn’t need to ruin things. 

When we went up to Bay of Islands we were pretty sure we were going to get this incredible sunny weather for the entire week, but instead we got the tail-end of a tropical storm happening in the Cook Islands. The weather was rubbish – but it didn’t ruin our trip. If it starts raining, go dance in it. If there’s a heat wave, go jump in the ocean.

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Cities have registered taxi cabs for a reason. 

We learnt this lesson in NYC, when we mistakenly got into a private cab instead of a yellow one at the airport (rookie mistake). Everything was fine, and the taxi man was very nice, until he turned round and asked us for a ridiculous amount of money for the taxi journey. We paid it, assuming it was the standard amount. Only afterwards did we find out all taxis have a fixed fee from the airport and that fixed fee was much, much lower than what we’d paid. Lesson learnt.

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Getting techie with it.

About three years ago I knew absolutely nothing about blogging, or wordpress, or servers or pretty much anything overly techie. Sure, I read blogs, and I used the internet, and I admired from afar those who ran their own blogs – but running and owning one myself seemed like the very distant future. It wasn’t though. I actually own 4 websites now, my personal blog (a social and PR industry niche), an online wedding magazine and a lingerie blog.

I’ve come a long way, and I don’t mind saying it. Sometimes when I mess around with WordPress and stuff, I’m actually surprised at how much I know. Now – I’m no pro or jedi-blogger, but I like to think I know what I’m doing now, and I that I do it pretty well. It also makes a huge difference being over in NZ now… as we have an inspiring place to write and we have plenty of time to do it too!

One of favourite writing spots – on our balcony.

So here are some things I’ve learnt: 

  • Content is King: Working in online marketing, this is one of the things being drilled home at the moment. If you want to succeed online, you need to be writing and producing great content. It has to be original too. Some second hand article you’ve borrowed from some other website, just won’t cut it anymore and you’d be kidding yourself if you thought it would. As someone who loves writing, this is something that came naturally to me from the start – I love writing content and taking photographs – the content side of things was never an issue.
  • Brand yourself: Part of my blogging for all my websites, is that I wanted them to be branded properly, and I wanted to build my personal brand too. This is something I never really thought of before I started blogging, but now I’m really aware of my personal brand and all the things tied to it. I think as a blogger, you have to be. Keep an eye on your personal Google search – and make sure your results are in-keeping. Think about your social profiles too and make sure they are branded and relevant.
  • Network – It wasn’t until I started working online, that I realised how important networking is. Good networking is what will get you spikes in traffic, it’s what will get you followers and fans and it’s how you spread the word about your blog and yourself. Make friends with people in your niche and communicate with them too – it should be an engaging experience – not a one-way one. Plus it’s great to support other people and their work too.
  • Set yourself up: When I first started blogging, I was signed up to a blogging platform that didn’t really offer me much flexibility design-wise. I’m now on WordPress which is externally hosted – which means I can change up design, widgets, themes, etc pretty easily. The whole hosting thing did kind of confuse me at first though, so it’s worth getting someone to talk you through it when you start setting it up. Finding review websites is always helpful, like this one. I’ve gone through about 3 different designs for this blog alone – as the content has grown, and as the blog has evolved, so has the way I wanted it all to look.
  • Social matters: Sharing your updates on social media really matters with blogging. If you can – schedule automatic tweets and statuses because it saves you the hassle of remembering to do it. Also, have a look at hashtags and stuff that’s going to spread your work to wider circles than just your own. The hashtag #ttot is a good one for the travel industry.
  • Know the right people: Getting your work infront of the right people is so important – because they’re the people who will willingly share and pass-on your blogs and articles. If you had an awesome experience at the hotel someone owns, tweet them about it and blog about it for them. Some of my biggest traffic spikes have been when people I’ve tweeted have retweeted or shared something on their own networks – because my blog post has benefited them and offered them good publicity, and I told them about it.
  • It costs money: And there is no getting around it. To run a successful blog, you’re probably going to need to invest a bit of money and a lot of time to get it where it needs to be. Money will probably need to be spent on the following things; hosting, theme designs, logo designers (unless you’re creative and can do it yourself), domain names and registration. It can be hard getting together the extra cash to fund these bits and pieces (especially if you weren’t budgeting for it) so looking for new ways to make extra money is always helpful for times like this.
  • Don’t be afraid to evolve: When I started this blog it was relatively small, and I thought the design should reflect that. It was more of a personal project than anything – so that friends and family could keep up with what we were doing. As time has gone on though, the website has grown, the archive has grown and my audience has grown too. Sure, there is still a long way to go but I’ve recently re-designed the blog to keep up with the growing readership and to show off the blog and how much I’ve achieved with it. I’m not working and blogging with some big travel brands too – so it’s all about encouraging those relationships.

The stories behind the photographs.

I love taking photos – and growing up I think I used to annoy people at times with my incessant need to take photos all the time. As a traveller though – this is something which definitely pays off – as months (even years) after your trip, you can look through and have all these incredible memories flood back to you.

Sometimes though, there is a much more interesting story behind a photograph, than what you’d initially think. I was browsing through a couple of photos from Sydney today, and it was funny thinking of all the stories behind some of the photos I took – even though at first glance they look like just your average holiday snap. Anyway, this got me thinking – so I decided to trawl through some much older photos too (some from travelling, some not) to see what I could find. So here they are… photos and stories.

On first glance this photo looks a bit rubbish. It’s all blurred and it’s not really in focus at all. But this was taken exactly at midnight NYE as we watched the Sydney fireworks display infront of us. We’d been planning it for so long, and it was such an awesome night, that it doesn’t even matter if the photo is rubbish.

This photo was taken during our trip to NYC in 2011. We’d been walking around somewhere central and came across this random group of girls all waiting around this door. In NYC you’re always expecting to run into someone famous – so I asked who these kids were waiting for and they told me they were expecting Robert Pattinson to arrive soon. Now, I don’t even like him that much, and I frown upon the Twilight movies – but still, it’d be cool to see him, right? So we waiting in-line for like 30 minutes seeing if he’d show up. He didn’t.

Before I lived in London, day trips to London were like the best thing ever. Emily, Lizzie and myself arranged a day trip to the big city one summer and it was awesome. However. Please note the colour of my hair. BLONDE. Except the blonde was awful and didn’t sut me at all. So for the whole day I took all my photos in black and white. I know that’s ridiculous but it’s true. The next day I dyed my hair back brown. Lesson learnt.

This is probably the most hilarious photos I’ve ever taken. Not really because it’s even that funny – but because I remember how much we laughed when we noticed it. I think it still remains one of our family’s in-jokes. Grace and Megan I’m talking to you.

This photo isn’t really anything special when you first look at it. Just a couple of shadows. It’s actually the first photo I ever took of Pad and I though, so pretty special to me. I remember how annoying my bag was too (it was fringed and the little fringes would fall out in random places, like a breadcrumb trail). It was taken in Trafalgar Sq, one of our favourite places even now.

This photo was taken one NYE, when myself and lovely girlies decided we’d stop in instead of go out. We decided to do some kind of “ready steady cook” kind of thing and each of us brought ingredients and different parts of the meal. It was all going very well, but both Philippa and Marcelle spent the night with food poisoning. I thought I’d got away with it though and escaped the food poisoning (which was lucky – as I had a flight the next day) but I had no such luck. My food poisoning kicked in the next day and I spent a night throwing up in the airport. But look at us here, all happy and blissfully unaware of what would come.

Taken in the Oman in the middle east, this was taken after hours of being thrown around the back of a 4×4 jeep. I think Bekah and I just need some fresh air, and also to feel solid ground for 5 minutes.

About 5 minutes before this photo was taken I had been sobbing to myself. Not that you’d be able to tell! This was taken at the top of a big hill in Bay of Islands, NZ – a hill which we’d had to (practically) climb and hike up barefoot. It took about 20 minutes, but was probably the steepest thing I’ve ever walked up. For the duration of said climb, I had been certain we were nearly at the top – but the top never came. So I cried. I cried for the top to come. It did eventually, and when I got up there it dawned on me how much of a loser I was. The view was worth it, promise. And I’ll try never to be so pathetic again when faced with a steep incline.

This was taken in the Vatican, Rome. The holiday itself, was one of my favourite holidays ever but I think Philippa would agree this day was our low-point. I had made a bad footwear choice (this get’s icky, so stop reading if you’re not feeling it) as Rome is covered in cobble stones – and flimsy footwear just doesn’t cut it there. My shoes were super flimsy and the blisters I got spoke for themselves. They had personalities, names and professions and lives of their own. Anyway – it all got too much – so I popped my blister in the Vatican courtyard. Even typing that feels wrong. But I did. I’m sorry Mr Pope. This photo was taken just afterwards.

This is the best travel game ever. And I think during our skiing holiday we were all on the brink of addiction with this game. Literally, I think I enjoyed the game more than the skiing. It’s called Bananagrams incase anyone was interested. Buy it.

I still get teased for this photo and it’s one of the biggest running jokes between Pad and I. The night we took it was at the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, and was one of my favourite dates we’ve ever had. And, I don’t mind that I look stupid, because I know how much (on many occasions) it’s made him laugh. I wish I’d bought that hat though.


Skateboards and Hitch Hikers

There are two things in life, which I (being totally honest here) thought only existed in American movies. These two things are: Skateboarders and Hitch Hikers. Sure, I knew that both of these things were actually things (and not made up, like say – Unicorns) but growing up in the UK, you only ever get skateboarders in skate parks, and you only ever get hitch hikers – if they’re doing some charitable event across Europe.

In NZ (and Australia I noticed) though – people use skateboards as a legitimate mode of transport. They actually use it to get from Point A to Point B. Not just for fun, or for doing fancy tricks in the park, or even to fill some teenage angst stereotype – people skateboard here because it is a fast, and nifty way to travel. It’s a weird thing to get used to really – at first it used to scare the bejesus out of me every time one of them went past.


Because skateboards are loud! Not like Tony Hawk would have you believe on his video games. When people are using them to scoot at 40 miles an hour down the road – they sound like cracks of thunder, and you look and there is nothing there – just some barefoot hipster (yes, barefoot – those danger dabbling ruffians) making his way to work – zooming down the street 10 ft ahead of you.

The other thing, as the title suggests, is hitch hiking.

Now, I know that hitch hiking is a thing. That people do. But if I’m being honest – I thought it was something that people only do in two of the following situations:

1) Raising money for charity, so you can say you’ve hitch hiked across Europe or to Morocco. Or something like that.

2) In horror movies as a sure fire way to “get dead”.

These are the only two situations of hitch hiking I have ever come across. EVER. Oh, and that episode of Friends where Joey and Pheobe drive back from Vegas and pick up the random guy. But even in that occurance the first thing she asks him is “Are you a murderer?”

In New Zealand though, hitch hiking is pretty common, and it’s (apparently) perfectly acceptable and safe. Not that this would ever convince me to do it, but I’m always surprised by how common it is here. Pad and I walk to the gym most days in the town, and on numerous occasions now I’ve spotted people standing on the main road with their thumbs stuck out. It’s so cliched I want to laugh – but it’s real and they’re actually doing it.

When my family came to stay in November, they drove to Glenorchy, and on the way back told me they picked up a random girl who had been planning to walk back to Queenstown. First of all – this girl is mental, because that’s like a 5 hour walk – but also they didn’t really think it was a big deal. But if the same had happened in London – I’d be like “YOU PICKED SOMEONE UP OFF THE STREET!?”

But in Queenstown, I think it’s a bit different. Maybe it’s because of the travellers lifestyle here in NZ and the common goal that most people seem to have. Who knows.

Have you ever hitch hiked? 


“IT’S CHRISTMAS!” (read that like Slade sings it)


Which is awesome. And the world didn’t end like those Mayan people thought it would, which means…. We actually get to open our presents! Oh isn’t life good. Anyway, here are some photos of our Christmas in New Zealand, it’s been quite a strange experience so far if I’m being honest especially with the sunshine and summery weather going against anything any British person would be used to during December. I’m used to wearing 3/4 jumpers, 2 pairs of socks, sitting stupidly close to the fire and being snowed in. But, saying that, we have done our best to make it still seem festive and seem christmassy, even though the weather is telling us something completely to the contrary. These efforts have included:

– Me making an awesome Spotify playlist (which features mainly Michael Buble) and singing along to it at least 1 hour of each day. This time schedule is only rough – sometimes it is 3 hours. My favourite this year is “Christmas (Baby please come home)” I think I have played that song to it’s death the past few days and I’m sure Pad would agree. I’m still not tired of it though (Pad would likely disagree), and have to try my hardest not to dance around like Matilda on the table (skip about halfway through this clip and you’ll know what I mean) whenever it comes on.

– Our amazing Christmas tree is looking better now that it did when I put it up in November (Yes November. I really like Christmas) and I added some red baubles because the silver and white made it seem a bit “show-homey”. I know no one cares that I added red baubles – but I do and I think they look really pretty. Said she, the Christmas loser.


– PRESENTS!! I wasn’t too sure we’d have that many presents under the tree this year because you can hardly expect people to send them to you when you lives miles and miles across the other side of the world. But actually we have a nice little stack under there, and every time I see it it makes me feel like a kid again. We have some awesome family and friends who have sent us cards and presents and they’ve been arriving in a steady stream since the start of December. It’s really made us feel both loved and special. That’s super corny, but it’s also super true.

– My lovely Nanny actually brought some of her ‘hand-made’ christmas decorations over to NZ with her when she visited us, which was really special and made me feel like a proper grown-up. Which would sound weird and completely bizarre to anyone outside of the family… So let me explain. Basically, my Nanny has always knitted all the grandchildren in the family their own Christmas stocking, and it’s somewhat a tradition to open all the stockings together every year when all the family (which includes, aunties, uncles, cousins…) get together. But whilst each grandchild has their own stocking – the adults have their own decorations, so my Mum (come christmas) would always take out the decorations that Nanny had knitted for her. Anyway, this year, Nanny brought Paddy and I a stocking each and our own set of Christmas decorations too.

– We’ve majorly stocked up on sweets and chocolate too – because (let’s face it) it’s not christmas without copious amounts of sugar and unhealthy things. I’ve actually had to wrap my Christmas candy up and put it under the tree – because I lack so much self restraint. If it wasn’t wrapped up and under there, I definitely would’ve eaten it by now.

– New Zealand has been pretty good so far with Christmas movies, they’ve already aired Love Actually and Home Alone (so that was a very promising start) so we’re hoping that over Christmas we’ll still get the classic Christmas movies on TV just like we would in the UK. BUT – if all else fails, we went to the DVD rental store today and majorly stocked up on films and boxsets to keep us going. Because, you know, just in case. If you were thinking “they don’t look very festive” well we did go in with a festive list of movies, but they were all sold out. So we opted for “entertainment factor” instead.

– Last but not least, we have bought loads of food. I did take a picture of the fridge looking all full and amazing – but then Pad pointed out that actually, all the Christmas food was in the freezer. Fail on my part. I did take a photo of our dessert plans though, cupcakes with these fancy little Christmas tree decorations I found. I know my little sister will be overly impressed by the icing sugar for the cupcakes – seen as she basically lived off that when she was a kid.

If Carlsberg did boats…. Rock The Boat, NZ.

The second half of our trip to Bay of Islands was to be spent on the Rock Cruise. I’d been looking forward to this since we first booked our flight to New Zealand like 7 months ago. Pad went three years ago when he first visited the country and I’d already heard loads about it (all good) so the expectations were definitely high.

I can well and truly say, every expectation was met. This tour is absolutely one of the must-do things in New Zealand, without a doubt. Bay of Islands is about a 3.5 hours drive from Auckland, which can seem a bit heavy – but in all honesty – it’s worth every second of that drive to go on this tour.

Anyway, I took so many photos during the 2 days on board – I’ll let them do most of the talking.

We were booked into the double cabin on board – which was a super cute little wooden room with a little double bed. It had a gorgeous sliding door window which looked out onto the water (kind of obvious – because it’s a boat) but waterviews always make me swoon. This was a view that would take some beating, especially as it changed every time we set sail and cruised somewhere else in the area.

There’s plenty of room in the cabin, not that you spend much time in there – you’re too busy doing all the awesome activities they have planned for you! I think we had the only double cabin on board- and I’m pretty sure the other rooms are quads and dorm-style. Still – they all looked roomy and pretty similar to ours in design. You’re only on there for one night anyway – so whichever room you have would be fine.

The best bit?

One of the biggest selling points for this boat-tour (and probably what sets it miles apart from others in NZ) is the incredible staff and how informal they make the whole experience. In the past I’ve felt a bit like sheep being loaded onto a boat – being told to do this and look here, etc. The Rock Cruise is nothing like this though – there are scheduled activities and a clear itinerary – but actually, if you’re not feeling any of it, or you’d rather just chill out at the cute little bar on board, that’s fine. There’s no pressure.

The staff are awesome too – friendly and helpful and hilarious from the moment you step on board. They’re all young (which we loved, being a young couple, as they were all a similar age) but I’m guessing if you’re in an older crowd the staff inject a bit of youthfulness and excitement into the whole experience too.  Big kudos to Dan who was on his first cruise, and was made to drink some weird concoction of fish grossness (which you can see above). Also to Ryan and James who definitely deserve some kind of medal for continued enthusiasm and all-round lovelyness. And also Johnny, Steph, Chelsea, Ben and Jake! Keep up the good work guys, I think you’ve built the best team of staff this side of the hemisphere!

Evening activities?

As the evening rolled in, we’d cruised over to a gorgeous little bay, to set up anchor for the night. The bay we were in was pretty stunning (the amount of photos I took testaments to that). Within a few minutes of settling in the bay, the crew had the fishing rods out – and I was so eager. I’ve never fished properly before – and had a funny feeling I’d be awesome at it.

I wasn’t as good as I might have hoped (not a single fish was caught by myself) but it was still extremely fun! I had a few nibbles, and my bait kept going missing but alas I didn’t catch anything. Except some coral. Which was exciting for about 3 minutes whilst I reeled it in thinking it was a fish. Error!

Catch of the day. Obviously.

It’s hard to concentrate on fishing though, when this is the view. That’s my excuse.

After fishing, it was tea-time (yay!) and the crew got the BBQ going. Tea consisted of Steak and Sausage and a variety of salad, bread and other yummy stuff. I was pretty impressed by the food actually, there was a big choice of stuff and it filled us both up for the kayaking later on. Tea is a great time to get chatting to the other guests onboard too, as you all sit on a huge long table. We were lucky to sit near the guy who caught a big Snapper fish – so got a sneaky taste!

Night Kayaking anyone? 

This was my highlight of the entire trip. There are a few things that made this little part of the trip so good though; not only was it a first for me (I’ve never kayaked at night time before!) but the surroundings were just beautiful. The stars in the sky were so clear and stunning – probably the most clear sky I’ve ever seen in my life, only being topped by Abersoch in Wales. This night sky topped that 100% though, with so little light pollution, you really can see every tiny star. The other thing that makes this kind of magic is the plancton in the water (did I spell that right?) which glows whenever you move it. It means that whenever you move through the water it glows around you. It’s something incredibly beautiful and something I’ve never seen before – which made it that bit special.

Day 2

Next morning, we were up to the following views – which was definitely enough to wake us up! We slept pretty well actually – although there was a phantom snorer on board – who was never named and shamed. His (Well, I’m guessing it was a he) snoring was literally shaking the boat at one point!

Breakfast was at 8am, which surprisingly we made in time and consisted of porridge (yum) and fruits and cereal. The morning then consisted of some diving in the nearby reef, and a trip over to a little bay / beach which was just stunning.

The island we headed over to was probably the most lovely, remote beach I’ve yet to visit. Part of the trip over there though, did consist of a (very hardcore) walk up a hill, so you could really take in the views from up top. Whilst the views were definitely worth it…. I have never been one for hills (especially walking up them) – so I was a bit of a wimp here. OK a lot of a wimp, I swore several times while trying to keep my cool getting up the “mountain”.

Those views I was telling you about.

I could’ve happily just stayed on this beach all week.

So yeah. That’s about it! After we headed back to the boat, we had some lovely lunch (beef sandwiches) and then cruised back over to Paihia in the sunshine. I don’t know what else I can do to convince you to do the Rock Cruise, if you’re not convinced by now there is no hope. For you. Ever. Because you’ll be really missing out.

Oh, here is the blog post from the first half of our Bay of Islands trip. In case you want more reading!