My 7 Packing Essentials 

Everyone has packing does and don’ts, and funnily enough it’s one of the most regular questions I’m asked from customers! I’m a massive fan of multiple use products, I hate the idea of wasting space so these are my top tips no matter where you are travelling!

  • Talcum Powder

There are so many uses for some talc, I use talcum powder as a form of chub rub (for chaffing), you can use it for dry shampoo, I also use it after a shower to cool down. I find using this in an evening stops me from getting quite so hot and bothered in those humid destinations

  • Paw Paw

Again another multi use product! I use mine for a lip balm, chaffing, as after sun, and for bite relief. Don’t know what I did without it!

  • Tiger Balm

Another of my multiple use products! I use tiger balm for everything, from headaches to bites I think this product is a must in the packing!

  • My Anker Power Bar

I ordered this on a whim ready for an upcoming holiday after reading decent reviews on Amazon. Perfect for trips out, charge the power bar before you leave and you’ll have enough power to charge your phone/camera up completely at least once!

  • Multi Usb travel adapter

I was brought this as a a leaving gift & can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciated it everyday! When your sharing a dorm with 6 people and there is only 1 plug socket… Which leads me nicely onto my next must have

  • Extension

What can I say? You’ll be the best dorm mate ever! ūüėČ there were many a dorm I stayed in where there was one socket next to the who happened to be there the longest bed! Certainly helps everyone out and who doesn’t like helping others! (and looking like a pro traveller)

  • Avon Dry Oil Spray

Funnily enough I bring this on almost every trip with me and is my favourite ‘insect repellent’ I say this lightly as it is not advertised as this and is not sold as a repellent. Due to the high citronella scent which is known for its repelling bugs it has been claimed by many to work and I for one agree. I use this every evening after being in the sun to rehydrate my skin and block those pesky nippers!

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My Favourite Sydney Markets

Having lived in Sydney for over a year I wanted to share my best loved weekend pastimes and give you all the needed info on the best markets Sydney has to offer for a wide variety of needs.

So in no particular order….

The Rocks Markets

If your looking for something a little different and want to be in the most luxurious setting then The Rocks is just the ticket. Home to the oldest settlement of Sydney, just by the harbours edge these markets go all out bringing you some of the best local produce.

Often purchasing direct from the designer/Artist where else better to look for your souvenirs for back home? ¬†With ranges of dresses, one off jewellery and original art works and prints you’ll be sure to find something.

These are definitely the prettiest of all the markets, splayed out across the cobblestone streets and with glimpses of the opera house be sure to spend some time in the Rocks to explore the beautiful area!

The rocks markets are held Saturday & Sunday with a food market held on Friday evenings. Be sure to check out there website here for timings and seasonal variations. You’ll find the markets at the most Northern end of George Street, The Rocks.

Glebe Markets

If your looking for a more traditional trash and treasure (or a car boot for the British) then this is just the ticket. With second hand goods for sale amongst stall holders you’ll be able to spend hours looking through racks of clothing, books and CDs/records and new designs at this hip open air markets.

With food for sale and even an area to try on clothing you’ll easily be able to will away a couple of hours.

Be sure to check out the local area while these, Glebe is a hot pot for independent restaurants, bars and stores and is one lovely long road taking you to Glebe park and the foreshore for some lovely views out over the water.

You’ll find the Markets every Saturday morning at the public school located at 183 Glebe point road. Be sure to check out there website here for timings and seasonal variations.¬†

Manly Arts And Crafts Market

A market with a view, Manly’s markets are held just off the beach front, perfect for those who are wishing to enjoy a sunny day on the coast.

With stalls selling prints and art, jewellery and hand made leather goods is is often my first stop when bringing visitors and for when I need to treat myself to a new piece of jewellery. I’ve just brought my third ring in as many years and they are all still in beautiful condition even with wear everyday.

Getting to Manly may be a little more difficult than some of my other recommendations but I do thing Manly is a must do while in Sydney! – Be sure to take the walk to Shelly beach and see if you can spot any Eastern water dragons!

If you are lucky enough to be visiting for on the third Saturday of the month then head round the corner to Manly Public School for their markets. A trash and treasure you’ll be able to kix with the ‘real’ locals and help the school in their fundraising.(Located only a few moments walk away on the corner of Darley Road and Wentworth Street.)

Manly markets are held on Saturdays & Sunday’s on the corner of Market Lane & Sydney street. once off the ferry follow the signage to the beach and you’ll find them half way down. Be sure to check out there website here for timings and seasonal variations.

Sydney’s Paddy’s Markets

Likely the largest you’ll find in Sydney Paddy’s indoor markets are chockablock of stalls selling everything from art prints, key rings and novelty t-shirts. Held Wednesday to Sunday there’s no need to rush trying to time your days right, you can pop in for some release from the heat/rain.

They may be a little tacky but you’ll be sure to find something for anybody here! I’ve brought a ton of art and prints from here which all hangs proudly on my walls at home.

Paddy’s markets are held Wed-Sun and located on the corner of Thomas & Hay streets, Haymarket. Be sure to check out there website here for timings and seasonal variations.

British Airways, Travel Review

I’ve seen a lot of bad press out there recently from passengers travelling on British Airways and wanted to throw my own opinion out there having recently travelled with them on my way to Hong Kong from London.

If I’m honest I’ve never been loyal to any particular airline, I do favour Malaysian airways as you may know from my review here. But I hands up will use whoever is the cheapest and has the times best suited to my needs of the trip.

My favourite thing about long haul travel is sticking my headphones in as soon as able and continually watching movies until my plane lands the other side….

Unfortunately for me I found the choices lacking anything new on the aircraft which wasn’t a huge problem as they had a favourites list of choices with Dirty Dancing and Disney so I could, I suppose I should also thank them as it meant I did actually try for a little shut eye!

Think the food choice was good, and on my 21:00 arrival 15:00 we were feed twice with one snack between. The most unusual part was one meal was a breakfast dish just before we landed, but local time was 15:00 meaning it should have been a ‘lunch’ dish personally.

Found the crew to be attentive and were happy to help, being stuck in the window seat they’d continually bring over water and juice for me to stop having to try and get out each time. They also were very patient when I got my foot hammock stuck (which I’ll review later!) and helped me get it out intact, even advising the worst case of getting the engineer out to take the seat apart… luckily for everyone it didn’t come to this!

Take off was a little late, but the pilots made up the time in the air meaning we still arrived as expected.

All in all although I did enjoy my flight unless they were the best priced or connection I wouldn’t choose BA over any other airline but I wouldn’t hesitate if they were!

A Budgeting Guide For Dubai

Having heard the rumours and panicking about last minute currency exchanges my trip to Dubai was finally here!

Having tried to research the trip and a spending guide I noticed how lacking the internet was of one, So below I've helped list a compilation of things you may need to budget for on your trip!

Dinning Out

Breakfast at a hotel if not included – 16-25aed

Lunch or dinner at a hotel – ranging from special offers of 39 – to 150aed

McDonalds meal – 23-30aed

Meal with soft drinks in a mid range restaurant- 100aed

Coffee at coffee house – 20aed

 

Out and about

Metro from the airport to the city centre – 10.50aed

Unlimited day ticket for metro (all zones) -20aed

5 Mile journey in a taxi – 26aed

Day entry to a water-park – 310aed

Soft drink from a supermarket – 9-13aed

Bottle of water from a supermarket – 1aed

Can of beer from a supermarket – 9aed

Crisps – 10aed

Cigarettes –  10aed

 

Hope this helps some towards your budgeting plans for a trip to Dubai, I averaged £100 spending a day while I was there and that covered eating out for lunch and dinner mid-range, visiting a water-park and travelling using a mixture of taxis and metro.

Has anyone else been to Dubai, Did you manage to spend less than me a day? Was there anything I may need to add onto the list?

 

At the time of travel the exchange rate was 4.41 Dirham to the Great British Pound, please check the current exchange rates before travel.

India Clothing Guide For Women

After spending the last couple of weeks in India I wanted to help those overwhelmed with their upcoming trip as I had been only just before.

After hearing numerous stories and seeing a large misconception from my own experiences,¬† I’d heard about women travelling alone and feeling uncomfortable in public and I can hand on heart advise this was not the case for me and I saw what I would only describe as beachwear being worn in the larger cities of New Delhi and Jaipur!

Now first things first, You are going to be looked at. It’s normal, we all love to people watch and the locals are no different. Depending on where you are visiting they may have never seen a red head/blonde *insert something about your self here* before and you must just learn to take it in your stride.

Yes you must dress modestly. However this is all relative to each!

Maxi skirts will become your best friend if they aren’t already, You’ll be thankful when it comes to using the roadside/attraction public squat toilets. I didn’t find this attracted anymore attention than usual either.

Keeping to the culture keeping your shoulders and knees covered is the best way to show respect and be comfortable. Cotton and light coloured clothing in those hot summer months are also best advised!

For me I had plenty of tshirts and blouses which kept my chest covered and shoulders off display and topped up my stash with a quick visit to primark.

Has anyone else been before? How did you feel and what did you wear?

Places To Vist From Ubud, Bali

Located in the uplands of Bali only 2 hours from the popular coastal resort, Ubud sits pretty amongst Bali’s most famous landscapes.

Most may recognise Ubud¬†from Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ the picture however is a little different from that you will find when you arrive. Having built on the back of the tourism with the books popularity there now is much more than perceived in the movie, Not that this doesn’t better benefit the local communities it does mean you won’t fall off the beaten track as she does in the movie.

Having recently visited I wanted to share my top not to miss tips to show how you can get off the beaten track!

 

Tegenungan Village Waterfall

Located only a short drive from Ubud plan a day to visit the beautiful falls, As it is only a short drive and a small entry fee (10,000) plan a full day here to give you time to climb down and spend some time in the waters. Although a steep climb is is not as far as it appears! As we were on a day trip we only got long enough to visit for a photo stop however we’d of liked to spend a long morning there, Taking a slow walk back to the restaurants and stalls along the entrance and car park before we headed home.

 

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Tirta Empul (Holy Spring Temple)

With so many great places to visit in Ubud a couple of days in the town will not go a miss! Tirta Empul or for the tourists known as the holy spring temple is a place where the local Hindus are able to self cleanse the mind and soul using the holy waters in the natural springs within the temple. It was super interesting to obverse each person ‘cleansing’ themselves and there was nowhere I felt as calm while I travelled in Bali.

Entrance was approx 15,000 per person and it does included a sarong hire (bring your own if you wish to use the cleansing pools)

Plan to spend a hour or two to enjoy all on offer, and to capture photos. There is some of the most beautiful architecture I’ve seen and I spent ages trying to capture the intricate details.

On a side note if you were looking to get some shopping done and knick-knack shopping done the market maze on your exit is the place to go! You can enter the markets without having entered the temples so if temples aren’t your thing check out the stores. They have the same produce as the markets in Ubud market but the ladies here see a lot less visitors in the same space of time so get less trade. I brought so much while I shopped I spent my daily budget within 15 mins.

 

 

Tegallalang

Often seen blazoned across the front of the Bali guide books the rice terraces in Bali are unmissable. Only a very short drive from Ubud you enter into the small village set around the planting fields.

As one of the more recognised this unbelievably is located on the side of the main through road, Surrounded by shops and restaurants, It feels so out of place. When we travelled the fields had just been recently cut back so it wasn’t as spectacular as I’d seen in previous photos and it turns out had we arrived only a day before this wouldn’t be the case (ask your hotel and local drivers as they’ll be able to advise locally the last time it was cropped)

You must pay an entry fee when arriving in the village, and is a per car/motorcycle and less than £2. You then are free to scramble in the fields and capture as many photos as you would like.

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Goa Gajah (Elephant Temple)

Located only 6kms from Ubud this beautiful carved cave is not to miss if you are looking to include some culture in your trip to Bali.

Somewhat misleading the Elephant temples name comes from the intricate carvings on the entrance into the medication cave. You can easily spend an hour or two and hire a local guide on arrival to talk you through the history of the temple and it’s historical purpose for the locals of Indonesia.

Entry is approx. 10,000 per person

If you are after shopping the markets surrounding the temple are a great place to grab a bargain. The stall holders get less trade here due to the lack of visitors so make the most of an afternoon and give your money into the local communities and grab your self a treat or two.

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Please remember as when visiting any local religious sites and small communities to dress appropriately. This will mean ladies covering their arms and legs while in the vicinity. As the weather can get humid I recommend wearing a t-shirt with a pair of shorts and purchasing a sarong from the local traders to use as a wrap up and cover your legs.

 

All prices are quoted in local currency and based on an exchange rate correct at the time of posting. £1 is equal to 17,000 IDR

The Best Backpacker Islands In Fiji

After spending a month in Fiji and visiting 12 of the Yasawa and Manacuna island chain I wanted to share my knowledge to help you get the most of your trip and ensure you have the best time possible while keeping to what can be a strict budget!

I’ve chosen the islands based on the likeliness of meeting fellow travellers and with enough free activities to keep your days filled with fun!

 

 

South Sea Island

I loved my time on South Sea so much I wrote it’s own post, Check it out here!

With communal dining tables and one large dorm room of 32 beds it’s pretty hard not to get talking to people here! Be sure to take advantage of the free water sports on offer with your new friends.

Beachcomber Island

Another Island I spent some time on and ended up writing a whole post about my stay, Check it out here!

Known as the party island of Fiji it is pretty hard to not meet people, With a huge dorm room of 198 beds and communal style dinning the folk at Beachcomber try hard to get groups of people together ready to enjoy some time together in the evening once the fun really begins! If you are staying on Beachcomber for a couple of days and do make some new friends, why not arrange a day trip from the island over to Cloud Nine? A floating bar in the middle of the Paficic Ocean…. What dreams are made of! Check it out online here!

 

Wayolailai Ecohaven Resort

One of my favourites which I spend many a day lounging in the hammocks on the beach enjoying lazy sunny days. I’ve wrote a whole post about it here.

Sitting on the hillside with the most dramatic sunsets I’ve seen, the tradition keepers at Wayolailai are keeping things real. With traditional Bures (a wood or straw hut some what similar to a cabin) room upgrades sitting pretty within the gardens of the property.

This resort has plenty going on to meet others staying on the islands and for those into keeping active you will find lots of like minded backpackers. With kayaking, summit hiking, shark diving there is something for everyone.

For those more like myself be excited with jewellery making classes, basket weaving and star gazing.

 

Barefoot Manta Resort

With the resort located smack in the middle of three beautiful beaches it is easy to see why this is a firm favourite with the backpackers! With one for Sunrise, Sunset and Manta Ray Beach sitting right on the well know Manta-Ray channel its easy to wile the days away.

As the resort sits on the channel for the passing Mantas come summer (May-Oct) floods of backpackers arrive hoping to arrive their dreams of seeing these majestic creatures in the wild. With viewings almost daily in the season you won’t need to wait long until you are doing the snorkel fins and mask and heading into the water, and then what a story for your dinner companions.

Having lots of activities on the books it is a real crowd pleaser, From abseiling down the rocky cliffsides to Weaving lessons they are also home to the Vinaka Fiji volunteer program (check out there website here) meaning you can pay back to the beautiful country as a thanks for hosting you!

 

White Sandy Beach

Located on the largest island in the Yasawa group, Naviti there is two resorts next door to each other meaning you have twice the chance meet up with new travellers.

Not everyone wants a party resort to meet others and lets face it although great for a couple of nights your liver and wallet will be glad you’ve moved on which is where White Sandy Beach comes in. It is a quiet resort so if you were wanting the party life I suggest this may not fit the bill, but for those looking for something more traditional to share with their fellow peers than White Sandy Beach is the place to be.

Sitting beachfront this small property has a house reef steps from your dorm and a hammock with the best view of the bay.

With a large communal dinning table and activities planned by the staff you will never get bored. With Fijian singing and dancing its hard not to get involved. Personally my favourite part of the none flashy resort is the staff, They work incredibly hard to ensure everyone who visits will not be alone and are great at helping those who may be a little shy meeting the other travellers at the resort.

 

Boathouse Nanuya

Mega modern Nanuya is for the flash packers amongst us. Lets face it after a couple of weeks/months without the home comforts there is nothing nicer than having a these on hand and this is where the Boathouse comes in.

Decked out with ultra modern features like hot water (can be a rarity in Fiji) air conditioning, a western menu, WIFI and now with SKY ¬†it attracts all those who’ve missed creature comforts.

Not like this is a bad thing, for myself I know I was desperate for a hot shower and a great burger after a month of fish and curry it was all I was dreaming about! As this is a great resort for everyone you get an opportunity to meet lots of different people, Most of which you will find have visited the other islands also.

With so many activities and facilities on offer it can be easy to spend 4/5 days at the resort so keep this in mind when hopping through the islands! Sign up for the sunset cruises, Glass bottom boat tours, fishing trips but be sure to check out the close by Sawa-I-Lau Caves for a great afternoon out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Ocean Roading

Who doesn’t love a road trip? Imagine 243 kilometres of coastal road with the big blue on one side and the other dramatic cliff-side and green rain-forests while you drive one of the most popular drives in the world.

Stretching from Torquay in the East, Only 97 kms from Melbourne to Warrnambool in the West this drive is made of so famous thanks to the passing of the surfside resorts, and scenic landscapes along its stretch and the important history it plays for the Australians.

Built in memorial of those who fought and dies within the first world war, the servicemen who returned were given reemployment in building this roadway to help the coastal towns in their struggle with their isolation from the larger ports and cities.

Here’s my low down on the Great Ocean Road and my tips on where to stay and see along the way!

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*Torquay

Heading only few hours drive from Melbourne this coastal town is one of the most famous along the route as it is home to the surfing mecca of Bells Beach. Home to the Rip Curl competitions every Easter this is the longest running surfing competition and means you are sure to be able to spend some time watching the pros do there best practising even outside of the summer season! We ended up spending three hours in the rain mesmerised by the swells of the water and the elegance of those riding.

There are tons of discount stores in Torquay should the surfer chic take hold and you are desperate for some new gear. For those looking for professional gear these outlet stores will offer better discounts than you can get in the larger cities.

If you are new to surfing personally I prefer Torquay to have your first experience rather than in Byron as everyone is keen to. The beaches in the area have taught Kelly Slater and that’s a good enough excuse as any, Lessons for beginners, intermediate and advance can be picked up locally and keep your eye in the store windows for local instructors rather than the larger group sessions!

If you are the sporty type or are pushed for time have wander at the Australian National Surfing Museum to learn more, or try your hand at some sunbathing and surf watching from the shore!

Looking for somewhere to stay? Try the Bells Beach Backpackers for an affordable and comfortable stop.

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*Lorne

Heading further west Lorne is another cute seaside town, Although for us we used this as the gateway into the the Great Otway National Park. With hundreds of walks, hikes and sights we wanted to spend a couple of days away from the beaches discovering the more interesting in land area. With lush tropical plants and ferns its hard to remember you haven’t just entered Jurassic Park. Take in an evening tour with your torches looking for the elusive glow worms that live within the tropical fauna

For those wanting to learn more history surrounding the great ocean road head to the heritage centre in the visitor centre in town.

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*Apollo Bay

Heading further south Apollo Bay is a popular stop way on the route, and a nice place to rest for a night or two. With a lovely long beach right on the roadside it is easy to spend a day or two soaking up the sun in the summer months and enjoy the small town charm.

We also used Apollo Bay for the Otway national park as we were again closer to some of the hikes in the area and took in a couple of waterfall hikes the hostel reception staff recommended.

We also headed out to the Otway National Park from here to Lake Elizabeth for canoeing at dusk to see if we could spot the magical platypus. Only a 50 min drive each way this was an amazing experience and can be booked before you arrive here. Advance booking is highly recommended and if you don’t spot a platypus then you will receive a 20% discount on your next trip. If you chose the dusk rather than the dawn you may also spot those glow worms I told you about!

Looking for somewhere to stay? Try the surfside Backpackers located just opposite the beach, this popular hostel has lots of common areas and chances to meet new people.

 

*Twelve Apostles 

Heading north again towards our final stop now, over 227 kms from Melbourne is the twelve apostles off the coast of port cambell national park. Formed from the erroision of the harsh southern sea there are now fewer than 10 remaining so no better excuse than to pull over before they completely disappear.

dsc00716As you can see from my picture even a day in the middle of summer doesn’t mean the weather will play nice!

These limestone stacks are the most famous structure along your trip and one of the busiest spots you will come to along your journey with day trippers desperate to get a selfie with the Apostles in the background.

There are tons of spots to pull over on your way to Warrnambool, including any of the beaches along the shipwrek coastline, the Loch Ard Gorge or the London Arch.

 

 

*Warrnambool

Saving the best for last (If travelling from Melbourne) Warrnambool was my favourite town on my journey along the great ocean road and my starting point as we drove from Adelaide.

As we were out of season it was unfortunate we couldn’t take advantage of the local whale watching tours, although we did head to the look out point over the waters to see if there was anything else we could spot!

Be sure to head back to the Tower Hill area for Kangaroo, Emu and Koala spotting as they are both native to the area, take in some of the short nature trails or complete some of the longer hikes. Be sure to enquire about the tours surrounding the local Aboriginal culture!

Dining at Cactus Jam was a highlight and having some flavoured margaritas to toast our journey was brilliant. The food was incredibly tasty and good value, a great find and I highly recommend it to anyone who makes it this far!

 

Now I know there are some who are visiting with a short window to explore the area and with day trips from Melbourne on offer you have no excuse not to see the wonders along the route, However if you have the opportunity to spend longer make sure you do! Hire a camper/car and spend at least 3 nights travelling along the GOR, I’m positive you wont regret it… Hopefully after reading my post you’ll know there is so much more to see than the Twelve Apostles. 

 

Travel agent top tip, be very mindful of the ever changing speed limits if you are hiring a car… Thanks to this i received my first ever driving offence. Although there are no cameras in place there are plenty of speed traps and police waiting, drive with extreme caution around and during public holidays.  

My Favourite Sunsets And Where To Find Them

Not being a morning person my favourite time of the day is dusk and I love to plan how I’ll view the last light of the day.

My most memorable moments from my year in Sydney were watching the colours change from my favourite spot in the Sydney Harbour, since I’ve learned to appreciate the moment a little more and enjoy with a sundowner, great company or a good book!

Here are some of my favourite pictures over the last couple of years!
Pictured above is the rolling green hills in Cairns while I was on a sunset water tour. Australia, Cairns. Queensland.

 

Just look at this beauty I caught the last moments of last month (November) on my walk home from work. UK

 

wp-1481582528130.jpgThis is from one of my most recent trips, After arriving on the ferry we climbed the short walk to the look out point to arrive in the nick of time! Gili Trawangan, Indonesia.

 

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This was a picture perfect moment I captured while I was spending time in Fiji, You must expect a view like this nightly! Naviti Island, Fiji.

 

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I caught this while we were bumping around in our safari jeep headed out to see what animals we could come across as the day turned to night. Addo National Park, South Africa.

 

IMG_1044My final sunset memory is the unforgettable experience of watching the sunset from Uluru, Australia. This is a once in a lifetime kind of thing and to experience the colours of the rock and sky change together is incredible!

 

 

Follow me over on Instagram for the most up to date photos and blog posts here.

 

A Photo Post Of My South African Safari

Having safaried in Kenya before I was better prepared with my trusty bridge camera this time and I wanted to share some of the amazing snaps I captured on my trip.

I apologise in advance for those who are squeamish, one of the greatest experiences of my safari was witnessing a cheetah feasting on its lunch.

These pictures were taken at The Garden Route Safari Lodge.