Browsing Category

Featured

New York Subway
Featured

What youll come to miss about New York

If I can make it there, Ill make it anywhere. Its up to you, New York, New York. Frank Sinatra

Truth.

I can still feel the earth beneath me rumbling, the effects of the underground subway bellowing beneath, where Prospect Park meets the local cinema, turn the corner and dont blink or youll miss it. Running now to get to your subway, even though youre in no real rush (everyone in NY is in some kind of rush) and you know it doesnt matter if you miss this train, but the frustration to wait a mere 12-20 minutes for the next train resonates with your desire to be at the place where you are trying to get too.

Ah New York, with your sky scrapers, and your vast scale of worldwide citizens from business men to transvestites to the extreme poor to the succulently rich.

You hold a place in my heart that creates a further desire to travel, to broaden, to excel.

Once upon a time a very little 19 year old me found myself living in an apartment in Brooklyns wonderful up and coming Park Slope. The streets filled with Gluten Free pizza shops and young mums walking the streets with their expensive German branded strollers (something that as an Au Pair you come to recognise). A place where a Japanese student comes to broaden there English and Americans flock too, to further their career. Europeans come to holiday and backpackers come to see what all the fuss is about. And little 19 year old me not quite yet at the full extent of the backpacker I am today, nor a normal holidayer, I went to NYC for the same reason I continue to travel the world now, to find myself.

NYC Subways, Jan 2013

I lived in Brooklyn 4 months. Too young to enter nightclubs I invested in a fake ID. Something that as far as Manhattan goes was far beyond worth investing in but lingering on the other side of the bridge, where hipsters where born and bad haircuts are considered cool, was a place where bar managers let you in upon how ripped your jeans and how brightly coloured your hair was as opposed to your actual age. I settled in swimmingly to Brooklyn and acquired a sort of soft spot for its ability to be able to wear whatever you want and call it fashion. I started to open up, to become more daring and individualizing myself. I started creating me. And boy did it feel good.

Four months may seem not long enough or simply too long to an outsider that does not know the full extent of what New York has to offer. For me, it was just enough, for me, it lead to the next great thing.

Happy to leave but sad to go. I knew I would return, once, twice, three times. Continuously through out my life.

Now, two of my dearest friends are planning their trip to the States, flying into New York they asked me to send them a list of things to do and not to do, over rated attractions and holes in the wall that I am familiar with. So, with NY frequently on my mind this week, I have come to realise how much I really do love it, and what I really do miss about it.

The start of my life in NY, Jan 2012

Something you cannot understand until you witness it, a place where dreams are made but more often than not dreams are also shattered. In all its beauty, its obscure noise and its seductive social stamina, here is a list of things you will, once witnessed, come to miss about New York;

  • The attractively large bookstores and the ability to sit in them for hours New York is home to some extremely large bookstores and of course the New York City public library. Both are places where you can walk around the store, find a section you like, pick out several books, and plant yourself in the middle of the pathway, legs spread out across the floor and just be. For as long as you like. Trust me this is not something you can do in Australia, if your found in a book store in Australia, spread out amongst the sci-fi section, youre going to get a rude, Excuse me Miss/Sir, this isnt a library. Its a damn beautiful thing, Barnes and Nobles will forever be one of my favourite places in Brooklyn and in Manhattan.
  • The thrift stores Oh the thrift stores! Think about the types of people that come in and out of NY year round, now think of their wardrobes Now think of what wonder the thrift stores across NYC have accumulated in the past 50 years. Second hand fur coats, that no, I will not feel bad for wearing because, they come second hand, they have been worn to the bone, and at winter time in NY, they keep you damn warm! First discovering thrifts in Williamsburg in Brooklyn was like eating ice cream for the first time, you want to race around to get to it all before it melts away, even though you know you can come back for another scoop.
  • The museums I had never really been into museums until I moved to NY, I dont get modern art and walking around staring at things your not allowed to touch annoys me. But wondering the streets and coming across museums such as the Natural history museum, the Sex museum, the MOMA or the Guggenheim was, Ill admit, pretty cool. You cant be bored in NYC, if you are, go to a museum, there is THAT many to pick from.
  • The endless eating possibilities Yes, I am one of those annoying friends that when you go to lunch with will state all my allergies and disagree on most places that you tell me, But they serve salad there too. Yes, I will research places before we go out in the area before we go, especially if we are in a place like NYC. My god, I was in culinary heaven. New York caters to every which person, whatever allergy, whatever cuisine, whatever craving you have. Take a walk on the wild side through NYCs streets and fill yourself up with whatever your heart desires.
  • The hipsters in Brooklyn I miss them. Youll see them, you might laugh at them and ask them sarcastically how their half full, macchiato, with one extra sugar twice removed was, only to receive a response fit for an episode of Masterchef. But later in life youll miss their tight black jeans with their brown suede loafers and red lipstick to stare at and get fashion inspiration that youll never admit was from them, from.
  • The music venues In the four months I lived in NYC I saw the Wombats, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Hilltop Hoods, Band of Skulls, and the Temper Trap with the possibilities (though not the funds) to see musicians I had dreamed of seeing my whole life. Blink 182, Alanis Morrisette, and so many other artists walk their instruments through the music venues of New York daily. It is crazy the amount of excellent acts playing when you look up on ticket master the NY tri-state area.
  • The life-style choice Whilst sometimes I really dont miss it, other times I really do. Right now I live quite the opposite life of that of someone in NY does and I could not be happier. But sometimes you miss that rush, you miss the sirens going past your windows at night, those sirens that once bothered you now you dont even first glance, you miss the thrill in dressing up whenever your leaving the house, the ability to express yourself through clothes and knowing that no one else gives a fuck, youll miss the dinner dates on the lower East or West side and the NYU students that take over most of the lower West end of Manhattan. A place where being too much is never too much.

The Brooklyn Bridge, Jan 2013

New York I love you but your bringing me down, New York I love you but your freaking me out LCD Soundsystem has got it right, a bitter sweet relationship forms between you and the city that never sleeps. When it starts to become mostly bitter, let your sweet tooth sink in before it evolves into mostly neglect. And do what I did, once your time in New York dwindles, leave, head somewhere a little softer, like San Francisco, and later return to it, itll by then have turned into your past love.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Baz Luhrmann

Things to Love About San Francisco
Featured

7 Reasons To Move To San Francisco

Any one who doesn’t have a great time in San Francisco is pretty much dead to me Anthony Boudain

About a month ago I touched down in my home country, Australia, after 8 months of extravagant travel. In hopes of finding even just a little of the love I found every day through my overseas experience, I set out on what took me a month to find a place to quiet my mind and restore my health (as well as my credit card). A place to call home, if only for half a year, mas o menas (more or less). Because lets be honest, we all know I will be taking off again as soon as I have the funds too.

A little more lost than usual I set to the open road of Australia, exploring areas I had in the past explored, and in the past already imprinted my feet in. I couldnt find my groove. I couldnt find that cosmic sensation I feel when I find myself in San Francisco, when I find myself on the road with my thumb sticking out, ready for the next stretch of adventure.

But then An old friend who I lived with in San Francisco called me, and told me of a place she had been living on the other side of the country. Margaret River, WA.

Gather your things, no, you dont even need things, just gather yourself and get your butt over here!, she told me.

With little to no direction and an almost empty backpack I did what I always do in times when I am unsure of where life is taking me. I got on a plane and 5 hours later I was on the other side of the country. I hitched from Perth down south to Margaret River, and I found myself in a town that quite frankly, had been waiting for me.

Lost and found in San Francisco, re-united in Western Australia.

The other day when I went into a café to hand in my resume and plead for a job, the lady behind the counter started asking me some questions. She looked down at my resume and then back up at me, obviously seeing that my resume stated I had worked in San Francisco for a long period of time. She asked me, So your from California then?, and without even thinking a Yep! escaped my mouth. Whilst I corrected myself out loud, whispers in my head spoke to me and said, If you are labelled as a part of any area in this world, it is Northern California.

That introduction leads me to the quote you first read at the top of this post. When I meet someone new and they tell me they are from San Francisco, have lived in San Francisco, or visited or are going to visit San Francisco, every atom in my body shines and my body jolts up, my eyes gleam and if I wasnt fully engaged in the conversation before hand, I am now.
I have only ever met one person who disliked San Francisco My initial reaction was a slap (only a light, how-could-you?! kind of slap) on the shoulder and a yelp followed by multiple How could you NOT love San Francisco?! questions.

That person, besides using him as a reference to this blog post, I would say is now dead to me.

San Francisco is the most eccentric, magically diverse, and majestically charismatic city I have ever laid my eyes on. It is my one and for now, only true love. It is the place where I fell in love with life, the place where I discovered myself and the place that led me to believe that absolutely anything is possible. I might be being biased, but speak to any other person who has spent time in the city of fog, and I bet you will get a similar response.

Some say San Francisco is a vortex, a place where all people from around the globe come to be in unison. It is so much more than what I portray it to be, San Francisco is a beacon of what the rest of the world strives to be. It is magic.

San Franciscos Golden Girl

If you’re still not sold on San Francisco then these 7 points may change your mind:

1. Acceptance

NoCals most intoxicatingly beautiful city owes its rep not only to the rolling hills, golden sunrises/sunsets and intensifying surrounding forests, but also to the people, from all walks of life, who have made San Francisco.. well San Francisco. The bikers, the hippies, the gypsys, the hipsters (oh so many hipsters), the tech nerds, the health gurus, the working class man, walking around the streets of San Francisco is similar to looking around the cafeteria at lunch time and categorising each table, Mean Girls style.

In San Francisco, theres a Come as you are policy, which brightens the city and leaves it blossoming and growing to the full extent of what it is; a communal area where you can be whoever you want to be.

Young and reckless and at Bay to Breakers 2013!

2. The Weather

The only city in the world that has its own name for the fog that engulfs it. Karl the fog even has his own twitter account that states, All that is sunny does not glitter, not all those in the fog are lost.. How could you not love Karl?!

The ever changing weather leaves you stripping down half naked in the day, and bundling up layer upon layer at night. Its a fashion forward city that allows you to wear the best of your wardrobe, all seasons, no matter what time of year it is. It is the one place, where the fog, the cold, the wind, doesnt bother people, because the differentiating weather is purely what makes the city what it is.

3. The Bike Epidemic

If ever you wanted to live in a city where riding a bike is way more acceptable than driving a car to work, SF is the place for you. Despite its ridiculous rolling hills that connect the city, San Francisco is known for the accumulating people that ride their bikes around the city with smiles on their faces and muscles in their legs glistening. The city even has its very own bicycle coalition that continues to improve the roads for San Franciscans. Green paths mark the roads with cross-town bike paths guiding locals to and from their destinations.

4. Mexican food

Need I say more? NoCals Mexican food really is a thing of beauty. Living in Australia my whole life, I was unaware of what real Mexican food really is. I am aware, of course (especially after experiencing Mexico myself) that even Californias Mexican is westernized, but damn, who even cares? Moving to San Francisco allows you a cheap diet of dirty burritos and nachos as big as your head to share (if you dare) with a mate. Late nights in the mission result in cheap, disgustingly large proportioned feeds at taquerias, and corn chips will never taste the same after leaving the state.

5. Nature Redwoods, mountains and beaches oh my!

The best of both worlds, with the redwood forest right over the Golden Gate Bridge and hiking trails ever which way. Stinson beach for a day trip, or perhaps some rock climbing around the area of Marin. And forget Central Park in NYC, the Golden Gate park, as well as Dolores park is where it is at. Get exploring!

6. Dolores park

I cannot put the pleasure of this park into words. Just go. Maybe you will find yourself in a cardboard robot war fight, or sliding down an improvised water slide naked. You might even pick up a new hobbie whilst your eating infused delicious chocolate brownies. Hula hoops, slack lines and boom boxes can be found at this park, daily.

Dolores park

7. The open sense of community

Above all, San Francisco is one for all, all for one. With the hippie movement from the summer of 67 still lingering in the city of love, it is accepted that you are all in this together. The community in San Francisco is one that seems to be lost in a lot of other parts of the world. My first point of San Francisco allowing you to be whoever you want to resonate with the community, and the open aspect of everyone opening their eccentric selves up to everyone else around them no matter how different they all are.

Instant best friends made in the Castro one sunny afternoon.

I can still feel the sun on my back, whilst I fight with the wind in its attempt to blow up my skirt as I walk hand in hand with my loves of San Francisco, up to Dolores Park for a Sunday Fun-day. The afternoon ends with a beer or two in one of the missions filthy bars, I am surrounded by dirty mission boys, tattoos and all, as well as foreigners and locals a like, that came to be my bread and butter whilst I was living there.

Walking up Haight street to go to my favorite Whole foods markets to get my dried mango and coconut water, to then go laze in the sun on Hippie Hill was a favorite past time.

Ah San Francisco, I left my heart, my soul, my wholesome self with you. You encapsulated me at a young age and you will forever be a part of me.
Ill always find myself crawling back to you for more.

Until next time 😉

Watching my wonderful city swing by from Marin County, CA.

“If you’re alive, you can’t be bored in San Francisco. If you’re not alive, San Francisco will bring you to life”- William Saroyan

Australia Sunrise
Featured

Hello Australia

“There is only one way to learn. Its through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey.” Paulo Coehlo

Three months ago, I decided that I thought it was time to head back to Australia.

I was in Germany at the time, and had concerning thoughts of what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go and how I wanted to live.

The answers all boiled down to a basic concept, the same basic concept in fact, that I had based my travels on when leaving Australia last August; To travel and enjoy life, with minimum money, and a healthy, wholesome lifestyle.

In Germany, I had really come to realize how lucky I am to be Australian, to be able to live the life I lead. Earning great income, whilst still reaping the benefits of taking holidays and being able to pick up and leave for months at a time whenever I felt the need. Only to come back to Australia and find any kind of job in which ever field I chose, quite easily.

I made the executive decision to fly home to Australia, and start a new adventure, somewhere outside of Sydney. I booked flights then and there.
I knew I wanted to spend time in Spain so I searched for the cheapest avenues for me to get back to Australia from there. I found two cheap flights, one that would lead me to Bangkok, Thailand, and another, 10 days later that would lead me back to Sydney.

I booked my tickets, and decided that I would not tell a soul about my plans of returning to Sydney, so that I could surprise all my loved ones.
And thus started a web of lies being spun to those I would skype with, those I wanted to surprise the most, who would, over the next 3 months, constantly ask what my plans were.

I went day by day, avoiding skype calls, deferring Facebook messages away from, So what are you going to do after London?, If you like Spain so much, why dont you stay?. Needless to say I almost caved and told my best friends, my sister, my mum, that I would soon be back in Australia. But I kept my cool, I flew to Thailand from Barcelona, and via social media let everyone know I was there.

I got quite a few messages stating that I was getting closer and closer to the country therefore I must be coming home soon, but i deferred these again with the illusion that, as I headed to the North of Thailand, I was leading myself to Laos.

I spent 10 days in Thailands mountain towns, Chiang Mai and Pai. I met some incredible people, and returning to Asia made me feel another kind of lust for travel, one different to that of Europe or even the USA. I found myself questioning again if I was making the right decision going back to Australia

But today, as I surprised my best friend in Sydney, as I jumped out of the boot of the car surprising another friend, and as I spent the night, outside of a friends back yard with a picnic rug, I knew I had made the right decision.

As soon as I stepped out of the Airport and into the Australian air, I could taste the sea salt from miles away, I could feel my skin grow sticky from the mild humidity. I was home, and it felt good.

Now that is not to say I am going back to my old life, no way. In fact, after 2 weeks in Sydney, I will be driving up the coast of Australia with Shea, the friend I most recently traveled with up until today, looking for a place to nest for the coming months.

And as for those amazing places I fell deep for, I will be back for you, all in good time.

This video is a small part of my journey, something to remember how special my time with these people and those places were.

Though nothing, no words, no photos or film, will capture how infinite I felt, sharing these experiences, I am forever in debt to all the people who have entered my life the past coming months They touched me in a way I cant explain, and have changed my very soul.

A wonderful boy I met in Spain wrote me a message in my journal that read; Such a beautiful day, clouds are not that grey, such a beautiful day and I couldnt agree with him more.

“If I am really part of your dream, you’ll come back one day.” Paulo Coelho

Cheap Travel
Featured

Nine Tricks I have used to Travel the World Solo and Penniless

When it comes to long-term travel, people usually find ways to prolong turning their daydreams into a reality, allowing them to crumple and disappear as the clock ticks side to side. This eventually leaves them at a time in their life when they are to busy with work, or now have prior commitments like kids, mortgages or future optimistic business opportunities that are bound to take of any minute. Their fond idealistic thoughts of leaving behind all their belongings and going forth, Into the Wild, with nothing but a back pack on their back and the road in front of them, ready to climb every mountain that stands in their way, turns into exactly that A distant thought of what once could have been.

Weve all heard it all before, from one time or another.

I wish I had the courage to do what you do.

I wish I could just pick up and leave everything behind.

Well once I pay off my debt from school/my car/house/etc,etc Ill go travel.
Ill work for one more year (even though we all know you have more than enough money to pick up and leave for months right now) and then Ill quit my job and travel.

Time is, quite literally of the essence. And your time is NOW.

STOP with the excuses, stop being lazy, get up and live your life!
I have spent the past four years since finishing high school flying across the world, with almost nothing in my pocket, and I have always made it. I have always been fine, better than fine!

From a Schoolies trip in Bali, that I spent mostly blind drunk or hung over by a pool, to eating sushi in Kyoto, from running through the streets of Melbourne, comparing the cities vibrant air to NoCals San Francisco, to spending a miserable winter in Vancouver, and now a magical winter throughout Europe. I have always left Australia with a ridiculously low amount of money, and most importantly, a fire in my heart, to make my way through this Earth, creating my life to what I want it to be as I go.

Traveling in Japan with Niki, her Mother showing us some sites in 2011

These have been my wanderlust Endeavors over the past 4 years:

  • December 2010: Bali, Indonesia-3 weeks
  • December/January 2010/2011: New Zealand-3 weeks
  • September/October 2011: Japan-4 weeks
  • January 2012-June 2013: USA/Canada-18 months
  • September-October 2013: Thailand/Cambodia-5 weeks
  • August 2014-Current day: USA/Mexico/UK/Europe-5 months almost to the day, and counting!

This is only international, over the past four years I have made multiple trips from where I was living in Australia from my home town in Sydney up through Byron Bay, NSW and down to Melbourne, Victoria.

A hidden treasure a local in Chang Mai (Northern Thailand) took us too in 2013, beautiful and free! 

Traveling on a budget is a completely different experience to traveling with loads of money. Here are my top tips to traveling almost penniless from continent to continent:

1. Dont Be Picky-You are after all, a backpacker right? Who needs a private room with their own bathroom, in a hotel that has absolutely no character. That shit is for our parents wanting a vacation from us, or a family on a trip to Disneyland. Immerse yourself in hostels, eat local, CHEAP food, dont settle for the first expensive restaurant you walk into, walk and ask around. It can make such a difference between spending $5 or $12 on a meal.

2. Hitchhike-Hitchhiking is a fast and effective way to get around and save money! As long as you have your wits about you and you dont lack common sense, hitchhiking is easy! Getting from one place to another is a pretty boring and un-adventorous task anyway, theres no fun in sitting on a bus for 8 hours going cross country. Try your luck and see how far you get! Youll be surprised.

3. When Traveling, the Internet is your friend-Social media is forever rapidly growing around us. We are all guilty of sitting on our Facebook page scrolling down our news feed seeing what everyone back home is doing, or what those travelers who asked you to join them are now doing on another some-what more appealing destination. I am just as guilty of this as the next person. BUT, when using social media outlets in moderation and accordance whilst traveling, a range of connections can be made that can help save money and guarantee an entirely unique experience.

Some examples:

Couchsurfing: I have talked about this website before in past blog posts. A website that allows us to connect to other travelers or hosts in the existing area you are in, in search for a (free) place to crash or a friend to gain. I have met some INCREDIBLE people from couch surfing, people who have literally taken me off the street, hosted me in their wonderful homes, and helped me experience their town, city, country, in a truly distinct and of course, local way. A way I would never have been able to see if I had stayed in a hotel or even a hostel! There are so many benefits of couch surfing, try it on for size next time your trotting around the globe.

Rideshare: Ok I get that hitchhiking isnt for everyone. So take it slow and ease your way into cheap ways of getting from A to B. Ride share is a great way to do this. Its safe and super easy! Throw in a bit of cash for gas, get some snacks for the road, and be prepared to talk about your adventures and future endeavors when you get in the car for the long ride. There are many a websites for this kind of travel, in Europe you can use BlaBlaCar, and in the USA you have Craigslist as well as ridester.com and ridejoy.com.
Australia and the UK/Ireland you can use Gumtree.com.
Its a great way to see the land and how far your stretch is from one place to the other, if you come to a nice view-point your driver might even stop and let you take photos! Try getting that kind of service on a bus or a plane.

Wwoofing and Workaway: Yes, I have spoken often and fondly of these websites in the past and I will continue to do so.

When I left Australia 5 months ago, I wanted to get my hands dirty. I wanted to learn how to be able to provide for myself, and learn more about how mother nature really works. I want to be able to live a life with minimal surroundings, create my own meals where I can taste the pure love and energy thats placed into it and really learn about my connection, as a human, with the Earth.  I set out in search for like-minded humans, in search for the same, and what I found did not disappoint.

Wwoofing in the US and Mexico was life changing. I learnt SO MUCH, yet so little and there is still so much more to learn! It is a great way to travel, you connect not only with people, but deeply with yourself, as well as the earth beneath your feet. And! You get to eat amazing food, and you have a place accommodating you in exchange for a few hours honest work a day. I believe that this is what our lives should be, an honest exchange from one another, helping each other out as we enjoy our surroundings.
Workaway is similar to Wwoofing but broadens your horizons further from just working on farms, to working in home stays and other similar arrangements in exchange for a few hours work a day, you receive a place to sleep and food.

Tinder: Yep, I have Tinder, as most of you reading this do (whether you want to admit it or not), and I use it to my advantage just like the rest of you do too. Except my advantage is perhaps a little different to societies direct if you will, main purpose of Tinder.

Now I agree, that it is silly that this social media dating app has taken the world by storm, and has now become a regular way for girls and guys to communicate with each other. What happened to the days when you could just walk up to a guy and say, Hey, Im attracted to you, lets go on an adventure.

Now its like, Hey, you look like a good one night stand., and thats portraying Tinder discreetly, weve all had way more forward Tinder matches then that
But I learned to use Tinder my own way, adventurously, and oh! the adventures I have had from the people I have met on Tinder! I have climbed some of San Franciscos greatest, most hidden peaks, with Tinder matches, places I never would have known to go to unless these people had showed me. I have found myself in exclusively alternative hole-in-the-wall bars and pubs through out Arizona, New Mexico, Amsterdam, and all over, that alone I wouldnt have known to step into with out these Tinder matches.
One time, one of my Tinder dates, walking into a tattoo parlor to meet me for the first time, paid for my tattoo within 5 minutes of meeting me (having only realized AFTER I was tattooed that this parlor was Cash Only) I of course paid him back, but this guy hardly knew me, I could have flown back to Australia the next day for all he knew.

Multiple and MOST of the Tinder matches I have met up with have been people who, yeah sure, I thought to be attractive at the start, but in the end have turned into big brothers or best friends for me.

When traveling Tinder can be a savior, and I use it in the same way I use couch surfing. If your tired of walking around, introducing yourself to every second person you meet, hanging out with them for an hour or two then finding yourself alone again, try out Tinder, you might just end up meeting someone cool, who you really connect with. For those of you reading this with an utmost disgusted expression on your face, all I can say is, get over yourself. I meet people without even trying, in the streets, in pubs, in parks, crossing the roads and through striking up conversations with strangers almost everywhere I go. But Tinder is fun, a new way of meeting people. I dont think its necessary to use it religiously, but why not let yourself loose on the app once in a while and find some like-minded people you can relate too.

Blogs: Travel blogs are a great way of finding out about places to visit, some of the places Ive visited have been based on blog posts I have read from blogs I follow, of girls and guys of all ages that travel the world.
Never under-estimate a good blog! I first really started getting into researching and finding good travels blogs to read when I got back to Australia after visiting South East Asia. A girl I met in Cambodia, Ashley from the USA, had been traveling of the money she makes from her blog for over 2 years, her persistence to see the world and write about it inspired me so much to find more people through blogging that have the same passions as her and I do. I usually search for quirky and unusual blogs that stand out to my lifestyle, I then find inspiration from individual blog posts about where I want to travel too.

For example; Ashleys blog post on The Craziest things that happened in India had me kicking myself for canceling my flight to Chennai from Rome in January, and writing a bucket list of things I want to see/do/witness when entering India. Check out her dramatic yet spiritual Indian adventures through this link: http://ashleyabroad.com/2014/11/04/craziest-things-happened-india/

Another example; another blog I follow, heartmyback.com is written by a 26 year old USA/Norwegian girl named Silvia. Besides Silvias inspiring long luscious hair that she seems to keep immaculately beautiful through out her travels, I am also largely inspired to now travel through Iran. After reading Silvias blog post on road tripping through Irans hills and lakes, I know that whenever I eventually get to India, it being so close, I want to experience Iran as well. A young girl solo traveling through Iran is almost unheard off, but if Silvia can do it so can I! I knew this before I read this blog post, but it is nice to read the adventures of a girl who is similar in age and from a similar background as you having succeeded in solo traveling through a middle eastern country.

Search the internet for some inspiration and see what surfaces, I am very thankful to the numerous creative blogs I follow, for opening me up to places I may never have bothered even thinking about to explore.

Exploring California with a good friend I made from Tinder 2014

4. Set A Budget for the Day/Week/Month-I usually set a budget for each month, if I spend more than what I thought I would within that time frame, I am usually super hard on myself for about an hour, then I tend to relax and get over it. Im only human after all! Setting up a budget can help you immensely though, you look at what you have left and you realize that is what you need to live off for the coming weeks. Never take out anymore cash from the ATM then what you need, once its in sight, it goes quicker then you can blink. I usually take out money from ATMs monthly and hide what I dont need deep in my backpack.

5. Eat The Food People Offer You!-When I first starting traveling I use to hesitate to eat the food people held out for me, even when I did eat it I would pick at it, eat it slow, and never ask for seconds. I do not have that problem anymore. These days I take what I can get, no hesitation. Ill go for seconds, thirds and still have room for dessert. Stop hesitating and just eat! People wouldnt offer you food, whether it be a home cooked meal or paying for your dinner, if they didnt want to. Let them do it! They feel good for helping, you get some sustenance and everyones happy!

Another issue I have had with excepting food from people is my allergies, I am intolerant to gluten and dairy and I am a vegetarian. I am very serious about my food, I totally believe that you are what you eat, when I can afford it I buy only organic and local foods. However traveling, you kind of say goodbye to that privilege, and although I would obviously rather not eat things with gluten and dairy in them most foods have them in some way or another. And I am in no position to pass up free food, so, most of the time I am very lenient with these things. I still will not touch any meats, chicken or fish no matter how hard anyone tries to push me to eat it, but as far as my allergies go, a little bread, if thats all there is, wont kill me.

6. The Best Things In Life Are Free-I have never really been a museum girl, modern art annoys me and the Mona Lisa is to small for me to see without my glasses. I thrive off running through fields of flowers, or jumping on the back of someones motorbike and witnessing a city with the wind in my face. Climbing peaks to see the view, and taking advantage of every donation based yoga class I can find. Getting lost in cities on purpose and really learning the roots to each place by eventually finding your way back again before the sky night falls. The best things in life really are free, get creative when traveling almost penniless, you dont really have a choice in the end anyway!

7. Take Up Some Hobbies-Since this most recent trip of traveling I have learnt how to make dreamcatchers and jewelry, I have learnt how to play the guitar (not well but as long as you enjoy it who cares!), how to cook some authentic dishes from different countries I have visited, and also picked up some awesome recipes from people I have met along the way, and I have read some fabulous books. I even picked up a hula hoop in Mexico and taught myself how to hula. I have also of course, started this blog, which is a great outlet to expressing how I am feeling, even if no one does read it, I love writing it for myself. I have also enjoyed starting to make little films of my travels as I go, and writing down inspirational quotes I want to remember in my journal. All these little hobbies have helped me stay sane as I have waited for rides, sat on airplanes, waited for people to get ready or pick me up, and when I have had nothing else to do, I turn to these things. Best of all, it costs nothing to read a book or play guitar!

Waiting for a ride in Juluchuca, Mexico, October 2014

8. Be an Au Pair for a While-If you find an area you like and your hesitant to leave, why not stick around? There are many ways you can work abroad, Au Pairing is only one of them. I like Au Pairing because I of course love kids, but you can also find ways to do this with no fees from websites, craigslist for the US and Canada is a great way to find jobs, for Europe, check https://www.aupair-world.net/. Au Pairing is a great way to immerse yourself into a different cultural whilst getting paid a little to work an easy and enjoyable job, and living for free. The possibilities are endless, but Au Pairing is a great place to start for working abroad, especially if its your first time over seas, there is something comforting about becoming a part of some one elses family, far away from your own.

9. Travel to Places Where you have Friends-The beauty about traveling so much and being open to meeting new people is that you find yourself with invitations all over the world, from Thailand to Berlin, Rome to Seattle! From people you spend only a couple of minutes with to people you spend weeks with. There is obviously a deeper connection with you and the people that invite you or you invite to come stay. Its a wonderful thing and it is something you should learn to take advantage off.

Not only will you get to rekindle your friendship with these people, but you will get to see them in their natural habitat, and you will get to live like a local!

I have been in Berlin a week, a destination I had desperately wanted to go to for years, now here I am, with one of my best friends and her typical German family right in the centre of it all! They feed me, they play tour guide, they even took me to their family Christmas where I got to witness first hand a proper German Christmas, complete with presents!
On top of that, yesterday some Swedish boys I met in Cambodia, messaged me saying they are also in Berlin, and so we spent the day together. You will find yourself constantly surrounded by amazing people from your past travel endeavors, popping up in your present travel endeavors! That is really something special!

Christmas with the best! This year in Berlin, Germany

So there it is! My top and most effective tips for traveling solo and traveling penniless! If I can do it you can too! Money does not make the world go round, people make the world go round.

It’s a big world out there with much to explore, dont let something as silly as money put you in a bind or pull you down. Take some action and make your time count!

Traveling Solo
Featured

The Fundamentals of Traveling Solo

Since leaving Australia my traveling escapades have been mostly solo.

Its true that yes, as my plane took off over looking Sydney Harbour I had an old friend from home sitting beside me with our heads full of explicit dreams of what was about to unfold And yes, I did meet up with a dear friend in New Mexico and traveled down into Mexico with her, for 6 weeks we explored the earths depths together loving and learning as we grew to our substantial selves, the inevitability of us both knowing that we would soon part ways and once again, we would both be on our own.

I cherish the times that I have with those I travel with. A deeper connection is made than one of an individuals every day life.

For one; Your both on this self discovery lighted path (you can defy and deny it all you want, but every single human is on a path to self discovery, a traveler is just more pro-active about it, that is what traveling is all about!) and so you connect with certain beings, you either repel them or hold onto them, weary but curious as to how this individual can impact your life.

For another; your both uncertain of the road ahead, what will you do today, tomorrow, next Sunday? Some people dis like the uncertainty of what their days could bring them, but for the most part, travelers love this, it becomes a way of life for you that you thrive towards. After all who wants to know what tomorrow holds? Not knowing is SO much more fun who knows what could be looming around the corner for you. This can bring you close to those around you, as your interests and indulgences contrast and mix together.

In between the mountains you climb, the bridges you cross and the spirited people you connect with along the way, you start to unravel yourself into the human you knew you had inside of you (at least this is how I feel).

A few days ago, I was sitting in a hostel in Dublin, Ireland. I had spent a week with friends down the West coast of Cork and I had come to Dublin a couple of nights to explore and to catch my flight to France.

I sat there watching the minutes tick by, waiting to catch the bus to the airport. I had a new friend next to me, an American named Ryan, who I had spent the day with in Dublin, posting mail back home to our loved ones and resorting from the outside word of Dublins cold winds to the inside world of a guitar store, were we sat and played for hours. Although I had this incredible person with me, although I was surrounded by people, I felt lonely. Really, really lonely.

Something that for a long time I would not admit on the road, people would ask me, Dont you get lonely traveling by yourself? and my thoughts are instinctively something along the lines of,No Im awesome to be around, I love my own company. Of course I would word this to those who ask in a less self-obsessed way. But it is true! I do love my own company and I LOVE traveling by myself, I honestly would not have it any other way. Because at the end of the day, who would you want to chose to spend 24/7 with? Who would you want to travel the world with? Who would you want to share some of the most crucial moments in your life with?
Yourself.

Forced to take a selfie with the Eiffel Tour (the life of a lone traveler)

I am a firm believer of this, and yes Ill admit I am selfish in this way. I am 22 years old and I am selfish because I dont want to work my way around the world with someone, jeopardizing my own interests and actions for someone elses. I dont want to travel with someone, find a place that I love and have to keep moving because thats what we had planned. And I certainly do not want to give into societies standards of finding a job, staying in one place for an extended period of time and living life like so many in this world do, doing something I dislike, surrounded by people who are connected to the constant rat race of what our lives have been planned to do, to eat out at night. I would much rather eat plain broccoli and granola anyway (oh wait I already do that).

However, from time to time the loneliness sets in. You find yourself in a crowded room asking why you did this alone, why your miles away from your family and your friends. Why you are in the BLISTERING COLD, wrapped up literally layer upon layer, while your friends sip ciders, with their sunburnt skin, sitting in the sand on a 40 degree day back home.

All apart of the experience you say? Yes, this is true, but when your sick in bed, far from home, in a cold house in Ireland you some what say Fuck all the inspirational quotes, I want to go home..
Those of you who know me are probably thinking; Nat?! Saying to hell with it with those inspirational quotes?! No way.

A lone traveler I met on the side of road who is now an unforgettable friend.

But its true and it happens.

Fast forward to a week later. I am sitting in my own private hot tub in Paris, I have just had an incredible meal I got to make in a huge kitchen (for me this is a heaven in itself, especially when your traveling and cooking and kitchens are a luxury), I am about switch from hot tub to the sauna I have all to myself, all this regardless of the fact I have literally run out of money, no dollars to my name. This is all thanks to a wonderful French family I found via Workaway.com. In exchange for a little bit of house work I stay in Paris for free for the dedicated time we organized. (Lets be honest though, all I have done is vacuum and make delicious vegan goods for everyone)
I thought to myself, To hell with being lonely, this is great! It really IS all apart of the experience!

I have said it before and I will say it again and again, I am constantly baffled and astonished with the love, support and unreasonable amount of protection I have been given and I have constantly watching over me. It is overwhelmingly awesome!

The American I met in Ireland handed me over an old book he had already read, he wrote a note in it before giving it to me. Not individually to me, but to whom ever comes across it in the future. It read; To you, dear reader, I say: Live, even when living seems hopeless, when all is dark, there are still enough sparks in the world to light your way.

After a day of mixed emotions in Ireland, it ended in a warm bed in France, I opened the book and found this hidden note, and the sparks that for the first time in a really long time were very dimly lit, (yet still afloat) sparked back into reality, into existence, and I didnt feel alone anymore Because in being alone, I have come into so much abundance, so much love, so much personal growth and healing, and have found so much hope in everything I do, and every person I meet, and I knew, I could feel, that we are all alone together.

I called this post The Fundamentals of Traveling Solo, I guess what I am really trying to state is that, the most fundamental thing you will experience when traveling solo, is loneliness. Loneliness in its erratic negative influence, and in its forever seeing positive existence. Loneliness, that in the end, could be one of your greatest gratitudes.

 Hitchhiking through Ireland on my lonesome. Kinsale, Ireland.

In the morning I say Bon Voyage to Paris and hello to Amsterdam! A decision I abruptly made on the spot last night, ahh the joys of spontaneous travel. Making my way to Berlin for Xmas and New Years one country at a time.

PS. If anyone wants to travel on a low budget, check out workaway.com. Bloody excellent site! Like Wwoofing but broader options!

On the road in Ireland, happy as could be!

Mexico Cactus
Featured

10 Things I Have Learnt Since Being in Mexico

Hola Senors and Senoritas!

I am alive and well, would you believe it, in a tiny little town in the South of Mexico.

I have been living at Playa Viva for the past week, in a town called Juluchuca. Playa Viva is an Eco-friendly resort that hosts Wwoofers.
It is a beautiful resort right on the beach, with an agriculture area 5 minutes by truck from the resort. Us commoners can be found there during the day, weeding and planting, painting and lazing. (Only sometimes lazing we usually work pretty hard 😉 )

I have learned a lot in my time here in Mexico, I have had a lot of ups and downs. Most of the ups include coconuts and most of the downs include mosquitoes. I thought I would tell you all a little about the knowledge I have gained that other travellers might find helpful when preparing for a trip to Mexico!

So here it is; 10 things I have learnt since being in Mexico:

  1. Nothing will ever prepare you for the attack of the mosquitoes I am NOT over exagerating on this. I arrived in Mexico, my legs bare from my nails, from blood and scabs This did not last. As soon as I hit the mountains, the mosquitoes hit me, and badly. The first night I woke up vigurously scratching my bites in the humid heat, I was almost crying. My nails were filled with dead skin, I was making myself bleed, and I had nothing to ease the pain. As well as this I learnt a week later that Dengue fever is highly common in Mexico, and that we should all be very aware of this, especially with the way our legs were looking. Dengue fever is a tropical disease that gets past through to humans from mosquitoes, trust me, you do not want to get this, especially whilst travelling. You will find yourself stuck in bed with a high fever for a week, crying and contemplating your sanity of leaving your comfort zone.
    Once we got to Playa Viva, things got worse, as our bites continued, we discovered our lovely little Casablanca (The Wwoofers home in Playa Viva, we call it the white house) beds are ridden with bed bugs. Ah the joys of travel hey!
    Playa Viva has however provided us with mosquitoe spray, which has helped immensly. My legs are finally starting to look human again. As for the bed bugs well we dont necessarily want to keep them as pets, but until we leave our casablanca there isnt much we can do but to put up with them. Do yourself a favor before entering Mexico, buy some bug spray, and some cream to ease your wounds.
  2. If you like coconuts, you will like Mexico I personally, go loko for coco, (crazy for coconuts!). I travel with a jar of coconut oil wherever I go and use it for my body, my hair, cooking oil, everything! Imagine my delight when I get to Mexico and as you would assume, coconuts are EVERYWHERE! Coconuts to drink, coconuts to eat, coconut candy, art made from the coconut shells, jewerlly made from coconuts, and yes, even houses made from coconut!
    A lovely Mexican genius, Sapo, our guide at Playa Viva, made a barn out of coconut and bamboo three years ago, we are currently renovating it to help build it stronger. It is AMAZING! Who would of thought coconuts could be strong enough to build a pretty awesome barn! Agriculture at its best I would say.
    At work coconuts get cut open and shared around all day long, they have amazing properties that keep your thirst quenched and are so so good for you! Electrolytes for days! I get very excited when I talk about coconuts as you can probably tell, my favourite Spanish phrase is Quiero oon coco, which means I want a coconut!.
  3. If you are a vegetarian travelling Mexico, be prepared to struggle Especially if you do not speak Spanish. You will become an outcast to those around you. Mexicans love their meat. To them a vegetarian is someone who would like vegetables with their meal. The first week in Mexico was dull, we filled up on cheese and corn, until we learnt how to say without meat. Even then you struggle, they do not have much to offer you in the ways of vegetables, you can get quesadillas with salsa and beans. You can get beans. You can get rice Thats about it. Until you learn to get creative, I had some delicious pineapple tacos in San Miguel De Allande! It can be tough but as long as you dont mind walking past stalls of fishy, meaty produce getting cut into in the markets, you will survive. It has gotten easier as we have travelled further down the coast. Just prepare to be laughed at, I cant tell you the ridiculous responses we have gotten, I think the best was when our Spanish speaking friend Jake, told his friend from Ecuador that me and Forrest do not eat meat, her response was a laugh followed by a What, no way?! in Spanish followed by a Why?.
  4. If you are just learning Spanish, no one will understand you when you speak what you have learnt Since being in Mexico I have been teaching myself Spanish. My Australian accent doesnt do much for Mexicans, even when I speak what I have learnt. There are so many different meanings for different words, and different ways to say words that are spelt the same or similar. Sometimes when I speak Spanish to the other Wwoofers who know English, they just laugh and correct me. But I am trying thats what counts right! Well yes but understand that you can get very frustrated trying to speak and having people not understand you even though you feel you are being very clear and saying what you need to say, correctly. All in good fun though!
  5. Mexicans are friendly! Dont listen to those Americans who say, WHAT?! Your going into Mexico, and your a single white female? Are you STUPID?. Mexicans are SO friendly, especially to white single females! They all want to learn English and even when you come across those who know not a word of English, it can be SO much fun trying to have conversations with them! You both usually end up in hysterics saying, No entiendo, no entiendo!.
    Mexico can be dangerous, we all know about the huge drug cartel problems right now, and the currupt issues of the police and whatever else. But it is no more dangerous to travel here then to travel SE Asia, or even the USA. If you are smart and cautious you will be fine!
  6. You are a novelty to Mexicans This could fall under the Mexicans are friendly category but I think it deserves its own. Mexicans love you just because you are foreign to them. Watch them fuss over your skin or your hair, whilst you look at their skin and hair and wonder the same thing they are probably wondering, HOW do they keep it so lush?!. Dont be one of those tourists who is rude and stand offish, just take it for what it is and let them stare at you, you are of course, in their territory.
  7. Over night buses are COLD – Bring a blanket, a coat, a scarf, a beanie. SOMETHING to keep you warm, because bus rides can be long, and bloody cold! I curse myself every time I am a half hour into a bus ride, Why did I leave my jacket in my back pack under the bus? Why arent I wearing leggings?. I sit there and tell myself how when I get to the next town I am going to buy a pair of jeans and boots and a blanket and carry them around Mexico with me. Of course, I have not done that. Just be prepared for the air conditioning to be full blast the whole 8 hour bus ride through the night. Or end up like I did, after your third long over night bus ride you catch tonsilitis and complain for a whole week.
  8. The water is not safe to drink I learnt this the hard way. Mexicans may tell you it is safe, because they are use to the water provided for them. We are not! The first week or two in Mexico in the mountains I was drinking the water and had no problem. As soon as I hit the coast line I thought to myself that it could be dangerous to drink the water here, resulting in illness. After a week of being here I let my guard down and started boiling water for tea to drink and to put the boiled water in the freezer to drink cool later, all so I could avoid paying for water. I should have listened to my intuition. Pay the few Pesos and get yourself some bottled water! Not all of you will get sick, some of us having stronger immune systems than others, and when it comes down to it, it is just a whole lot of new bacteria entering your system and bacteria is good for you right?
  9. Its more expensive then you think –  50 Pesos equals around $4.20 AUD. 20 Pesos here for this, 30 Pesos there for that. Its cheap right! Dirt cheap in fact! This is true, though you leave the house with 400 Pesos and by the end of the day you have burned through almost $40 dollars on absolutely nothing! The thing that got me the first week I was in Mexico was the delicious snacks in the carts on the streets. I would see delicious fresh fruit cut up and by some to eat, 20 minutes later I would find a coconut, another 20 minutes later I would find ice cream. By the end of the day you have spent an unnecessary amount of money on things you didnt need too.
    As well as this, the buses are a lot more expensive then what I thought they would be. In my first 2 weeks here I spent maybe $250 AUD, the majority, probably more then half of this, was on those way to cold buses. Just be cautious of how much you will be spending on transport.
    This is fine for most, but for those (like me) traveling on a budget, do yourself a favor and make a plan of how much you want to spend each day, each week. Itll make your life easier.
  10. Things are not always what they seem – Our first Wwoofing farm sounded so perfect and exactly what we were looking for! An organic farm in the mountains with a darling restaurant at the front of it. Two horses, a few sheep and dogs. We would be working picking the organic vegetables and tending to the animals, staying in a little home specially made for the Wwoofers who visit.
    Our first two days we thought we hit the jack pot, we had done next to no work, we spent our days lazing around the house, reading, making crafts and showering in the AMAZING out door shower they had built in the main home, where the family lived. How ever at this point it was only the 28 year old son who was living and running the farm.
    When we first arrived he stated that our Wwoofers home was not ready for us so we would stay in the spare bed room in his lovely home until it was ready.
    On our third day we were getting itchy feet, we were over lazing around and wanted to work, and learn about his crops. That morning one of the workers took us to the horses pen to clean out their home. What we found was horrible. The horses, a mother and a foal, were malnourished, and standing in ATLEAST a foot of their own feces. Their home was tiny and they did not look happy. We took them out of our cage and spent the day shoveling their poop out.
    Over our time there we also came to recognize that the produce was not organic at all, as well as that the main crop was sugar cane, which is obviously just being sold to the USA to help fatten the population.
    Aside from these factors we were still willing to stick out the 2 weeks we had promised to stay Until we were moved to our Wwoofers home and saw what awaited us.
    It related more to a jail cell then to anything else. A small room, with a mattress laying on maybe two planks of woods, it smelt of rot and mould and the mattress was torn all over, if you hit the mattress you could see the dust escape it.
    I will sleep in the wild, on a rusted bed or a small room. But no way was I sleeping in that room. We moved on. We later learnt that in Mexico animals are more seen for their purposes, food, skin, transportation, and not usually well kept. Of course this is not the case everywhere, but we were not prepared to be in an environment that supported to what I believe to be animal cruelty.
    Now we are on an incredible farm where animals are seen as amazing creatures that help us! Our first day at Playa Viva we released around 70 baby turtles onto the sand and watched them crawl into the ocean and get swept away!


Ixtapas beach, a half hour from Playa Viva

Itchy legs

Working hard at Playa Viva

Playa Viva

Life at Casablanca

So there it is! Some factors I have come across since living that Mexican lifestyle!

The positives most definitely out way the negatives! Don’t be dis-heartened by the negatives, Mexico is an amazing cultural country with beautiful landscapes and people!

Apologies also for any grammatic mistakes in this post. I sit here at an internet cafe in the closest town, Zihuatanejo, at a computer that has outlined everything I have written with a little red line underneath it as it is used to Spanish words.

More to come next Sunday on our time at Playa Viva! Buones

Buones Tardes ladies and gents!