This month, I've been jetting around far more frequently than usual. I kicked off the month back home in the UK, where I spent several relaxing weeks falling back in love with my hometown of London. From there, I took my first steps in the Middle East, taking trips to Muscat, in Oman and Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. I loved both countries -- Oman, especially -- and I'm already planning for a much longer visit later this year. I finished off the month in one of my favorite cities -- Saigon, in Vietnam! I'm very happy to be back in Southeast Asia.
Here's what I've been writing about this month:
5 Ways to Overcome Loneliness While Traveling - It happens to all of us, and usually when we least expect it. I share some of my top tips for overcoming loneliness while traveling.
Which Size Backpack is Right for You? - This month I upgraded my backpack from a 45 liter one, to an enormous 70 liters! Why? My needs had changed. I no longer travel as a backpacker, hopping from one city to the next with barely any possessions. Instead, I travel slowly, renting apartments and staying in a city for a few months. A bigger backpack is perfect for my new travel style! In this article, I share how to work out which backpack is right for you.
7 Ways to Travel The World for Free - Isn't traveling for free the ultimate dream? Here I share some ways to score free accommodation and transport.
When Friends and Family Don't Support Your Travel Dreams - Sadly, when I announced I wanted to travel, my family and friends were very unsupportive. I share some advice on how to convince them that travel is the best option for you.
5 Myths About Student Travel - I debunk some popular student travel myths -- from having your parents fund your trip to only traveling to get drunk and party.
How Much Make Up Should You Take Traveling? - Travel makes you low maintenance, and you'll often find that you wear far less make up on the road than you do at home. This article shares how to figure out how much to take with you.
How to Travel as a Couple Without Killing Each Other - I've traveled successfully with my boyfriend for almost three years -- here's how to travel as a couple without wanting to kill each other.
How to Treat Mosquito Bites While Traveling - I'm back in Southeast Asia so it's time for me to get used to being bitten by mosquitoes every time I step outside. In this article, I share how travelers can treat mosquito bites on the road -- after all, we're unlikely to be carrying baking soda and vinegar in our backpacks, which are common remedies. How can you stop those bites itching if you're not carrying around your entire kitchen cabinet?
When I first starting to travel, as a student during weekend breaks, I would only stay in dorm rooms. I loved getting to meet new people, I loved the atmosphere, and I especially loved the prices. When I first started to travel full-time, I spent the first six months living solely in dorm rooms.
Now, however? Now I feel like I have outgrown dorms. I recently stayed in a dorm room in Washington DC and Reykjavik, and I found myself not enjoying a single second of it. There were noisy snorers who kept me awake all night, there were smelly people who refused to wash, and there were people who spent hours in the shower so that I couldn't use it. Yes, I think it's time for me to take a break from dorm room living for a few months.
What's your opinion on dorm rooms? Do you see them as a necessary evil as a budget traveler? Or do you love getting to meet people and share a room with them? How do you feel about the following list: The Unwritten Rules of Dorm Room Etiquette?
When I first set off to travel, I decided to leave my phone behind -- I didn't want to go through the hassle of picking up local SIM cards every time I arrived in a new country, and I knew I could use Skype to make phone calls instead. I spent the first couple of years on the road proudly traveling without.
However, after one too many times spent getting lost, I decided to give in and reconnect myself to the online world. To my great surprise, I found that after buying a phone, I still rarely bothered to even turn it on. Instead, I found myself still longing to disconnect from the online world whenever I would step outside my hostel. Now, I just use the maps feature of my phone to help me find my way -- and that's about it!
What do you think? Do you travel with a smartphone?
I was traveling from Zagreb to Sarajevo in August 2012. It was an incredibly hot day and I was looking forward to the night-time chill. I had booked a flight on an overnight train -- the only train we could find at such short notice. Unfortunately, the train didn't have any sleeper carriages.
We were allocated seats in a carriages that had the windows jammed in the open position, meaning that I was freezing cold for the night. I was sat next to some noisy locals who didn't intend to sleep on the train and spent the whole journey chattering away. Finally, I was in an extremely dirty carriage that was full of dust and smelt of smoke. It wasn't a pleasant journey.
Fortunately, that was an isolated event. On all over occassions I found that the overnight trains in Eastern Europe were pleasant, clean, and extremely affordable.
Have you taken an overnight train in Eastern Europe? How did you find it?
For many people, the idea of being able to fund your travels around the world seems like the ultimate dream. Fortunately, it's not an unrealistic dream, either. I've met hundreds of people over the past few years who have found a way to finance their travels.
For some people it's continuing to work at their corporate job, but doing so remotely. For others it's about following their creativity and busking or hairdressing their way around the world. Some people freelance to fund their travels, and others spend their lives on water, working on a cruise ship. There really are so many ways to work your way around the world.
What are some of the ways you've come across that people use to fund their travels? Are any of them on our list of 25 ways to fund long term travel?
I love to travel. It's the reason why I decided to build a life that revolves around it. However, I'd be lying if I said there were no negatives to a life of permanent travel.
I've found that the biggest downside of traveling full-time is having to spend time away from my family. I'm incredibly close with them, and it breaks my heart when I have to say goodbye. When you compare the technology of today with what it was like to travel twenty years ago, however, I can't help but feel fortunate. Thanks to the Internet, it's now easier than ever to stay connected with my family when on the road.
What do you think the biggest downside of travel is?
Travel exposes you to germs you haven't had a chance to build up a resistance to -- not to mention all those horrible tropical diseases! One of my biggest fears is catching a mosquito-borne illness while traveling, but I've been fortunate to evade them thus far.
Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that I've avoided sickness altogether. The worst illness I've had while traveling is the bout of food poisoning I had while I was living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It was Valentine's Day. I was planning a huge celebration with my boyfriend and then... I found myself in the most horrific pain I've ever experienced. My stomach cramped and groaned as I spent the next 12 hours in tears, convinced I had cholera. Yes, I'm a traveling hypochondriac.
Fortunately, I recovered after those 12 hours passed and was able to celebrate Valentine's Day with my boyfriend a day later than expected.
What's the worst illness you've had while traveling?
It was the night before I was due to fly to Australia from New Zealand when I suddenly realised that I hadn't got my visa in advance. I had been traveling for two years, had applied for dozens of visas and yet, for some reason, I had forgotten that I needed to apply for an Australian visa.
I quickly rushed online to apply for a visa, only to find that the immigration website would be down for the next few hours for maintenance. When the site was finally back online, I raced through the application and then, I waited. I sat awake all night waiting for the approval to come through, terrified that I wouldn't be allowed into the country.
That morning, it still hadn't been approved. I decided to head to the airport just in case I'd be approved on the way there, and I was!
I have to say that that was one of the most stressful visa related issue I've ever had! I also learned a valuable lesson: always research the entry requirements of a country before you arrive -- that way, you'll know if you need to apply for a visa in advance.
Have you ever forgotten to apply for a visa?
I began my travel writing career as a travel blogger, writing over at Never Ending Footsteps. Like a lot of travel bloggers, I never intended to turn blogging into a full-time career. It took just six months for me to make my first penny from the site, and now, three years later, it makes up a large percentage of my travel fund.
If you're considering starting a travel blog to fund your travels, then my latest blog post is for you: How to Make Money as a Travel Blogger.
Spring Break is one of most enjoyable times of the year for students. It gives you some time to take a break from college, head to warmer destinations and meet lots of new people.
This year, I celebrated Spring Break on the islands of Belize, in Central America. This was my first visit to Belize, and it definitely exceeded my expectations. I spent my couple of weeks relaxing in the laid back town of Placencia, sunbathing and meeting new people on backpacker hangout of Caye Caulker, and exploring Mayan ruins in the jungle near San Ignacio.
Would I recommend Belize as a Spring Break destination? Absolutely! However, while there is lots of partying on the cayes, Spring Break isn't a big celebration. If you like chilled out, relaxed destinations without hoards of tourists, spend Spring Break in Belize. The only downside was that it's slightly more expensive than other countries in Central America (though still cheaper than the USA). If you're going to be traveling on a budget, consider visiting Guatemala or Honduras for Spring Break 2015.
How was your Spring Break? Have you made any plans for next year? Check out the list of dates for Spring Break 2015 and get planning!