12. Merry Christmas and happy travels!

For quite a while now I have been wondering what I can write on the 12th day to round the series off. My original plan was to set my goals for next year but I want 2020 to be a year of freedom and spontaneity so writing goals to stick to seemed to go against that. I have therefore decided to keep it short and sweet and write something that I really wish I had read this time last year…

If you have been thinking about going traveling then take this as a sign and go!

It doesn’t have to be for a year. It doesn’t have to be for a month. It can be a weekend if that is what feels right to you. Just pack a bag, pick a place that inspires you and go!

If you don’t feel like you’re in the right space for it now, be it financially, mentally or any other personal reasons holding you back, then make a commitment to yourself to get to a point when you are ready to go. Open a savings account and put a pound in a week, spend a night in an air BnB down the road to test out being away from home, find a map and circle all the places you want to go. Every little thing is a step closer to that trip away.

Here is a round up of all the other posts from this series, in case you have missed any, that may help you get ready to book that plane ticket:

1. Where are you going traveling?

2. How much will it cost?

3. Have you thought about packing?

4. What made you want to go traveling?

5. Did I tell you about the time when…

6. Have you traveled anywhere this year?

7. Won’t you miss home too much?

8. You have to read ____ when you’re away

9. How did you get into Camp America?

10. What’s on your bucket list?

11. Are you going to be okay on your own?

I really hope you have enjoyed this series and I cannot wait to start documenting my travels next year!

Merry Christmas and happy travels!

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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8. You have to read ____ when you’re away

The beauty of traveling is that not only do you get to live lots of incredible activities you also get a chance for lots of downtime to finally tuck into that book you’ve been meaning to read for ages! I try to read every day on my commute to work but I am looking forward to being able to get into a book without having to constantly check I haven’t missed my stop. I’ve been collecting a long list on my phone over the past few months of books I want to read but I thought I would give you guys some recommendations of books I have loved!

The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah

I can tell a book is good when it makes me miss my stop on multiple mornings because I just can’t stop reading. The Nightingale is about 2 sisters who live in France during the Second World War and the different ways they adapt to survive. It is a story of love, fear and how far people will go for their family. Although it is not a true story it really highlights the terror of the war and the hard decisions people were forced to make daily simply to survive. Expect tears of both sorrow and happiness and a book you will struggle to put down.

Fall of Giants – Ken Follett

Sticking with the war theme, Ken Folletts trio of books follow multiple stories through both world wars as well as the Cold War. Fall of Giants is situated in the era of World War One and follows 5 families whose lives intertwine through the trials and terrors of war. It has everything from action to romance and, although it is fictional, includes true facts and figures that mean you end up getting a history lesson without even trying. They are big big big books so great for if you have a long flight ahead of you!

The Holiday – T.M.Logan

If you like a bit of mystery, drama and suspense then The Holiday is the one for you. Imagine going on holiday to Italy with 4 of your best friends and all your families to then discover that one of them might be having an affair with your husband! It is a wonderfully written story that keeps you guessing till the last minute yet is still a light read. A perfect one to dip into when lounging around the pool. To this day I have never met anyone who has read this book and expected the twist at the end so give it a try and see if you guess it right!

The Rumour – Lesley Kara

Another one for you mystery fans out there, the rumour follows a young mum in a new town who hears a rumour that a famous child murderer (as in someone who killed someone as a child not someone who kills children) lives among them. It’s not the most thrilling book ever but it will leave you desperate to find out the truth and also has a really nice story running through it about how far a mother will go to protect their child.

The Forgotten Village – Lorna Cook

If you’re looking for an easy read that is still interesting then this is the one for you. It follows 2 story’s over 2 time periods that cross over in very clever ways. The first is a story of a middle aged women who is looking for something exciting in her life and ends up falling for a hunky historian and the second is the story of a lady of a manor who is desperate for a way to escape her life. It is beautifully written and you’ll end up rooting for both women as if they were your friends in real life.

The Trials and Triumphs of Grace Atherton – Anstey Harris

A classic romance story about a women who has fallen in love with a married man and struggles with the reality of having the man you love living with another women. It has lots of underlining stories about friendship, music and how events in our childhood can effect us as adults. It can be quite predictable but it will leave a warm feeling in your heart when you get to the last page.

Only Child – Rhiannon Navin

This is one of those books that can be hard to read but in the best way. It is written from the perspective of a 6 year old boy who was involved in a school shooting in America and the effects it has on him and his family. It is perfectly written with the innocence of a child who can’t quite grasp the horrors that have happened and why everyone around him has changed. It can be quite triggering at times and at one point I had to put it down as I was too angry and one of the characters to keep reading but I guess any book that makes you feel raw emotion must be something special!

The Stranger Beside Me – Ann Rule

For all you true crime lovers out there this is the one for you! Ann Rule is a crime writer who also, unknowingly, happed to be friends in real like with one of the most infamous serial killers everywhere – Ted Bundy. It is written from her perspective and about how she came to find out and accept the fact that a man she was very close with was actually one of the biggest monsters this world has seen. She goes over in detail the crimes he committed, so still one to read if you don’t know much about him, and is such an honest account that makes you realise we really don’t know much about most people we call friends!

Everything I Know About Love – Dolly Alderton

If you want a self help book without actually reading a self help book then this is for you. I bet there isn’t a single young girl, or boy, on this planet that cannot relate to one of Dollys stories about her love life. It follows her through her teens all the way to her thirties and she talks in detail about the lessons she has learnt about love along the way. It doesn’t just focus on romantic love it also touches a lot on the love we have for our friends, family and even ourselves which I think is so refreshing to read. It also includes a really helpful recipe for hangover mac and cheese!

This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

I don’t think there are many people left who haven’t read this book and there’s good reason for that – it is simply amazing. It is the honest recounts of an NHS doctor who worked in the gynaecological department of a hospital and will make you laugh, cry and squirm at the things he has seen and done! It also has such an important message about the neglect of the NHS and just how overworked yet incredible the doctors and nurses we have in this country are. It shows you the sacrifices they have to make for our own well being and will leave you feeling very lucky that there are people like Adam Kay in the world.

If you have any good book recommendations or have read any of these before then please let me know in the comments!

Merry Christmas and happy travels!

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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3. Have you thought about packing?

When it comes to packing I am playing a total guessing game. I have never been on a long trip like this before and I think that it is all going to be trial and error. For that reason I am trying to keep everything limited and cheap so that if I do end up with too much I wont be heart broken leaving anything behind. I have read lots of packing blog posts off Pinterest from people who have already been traveling and this is what I have concluded to be the best list of what to bring.

Packing Basics

Choosing to go away at the start of January has many perks. For example, new year, new me, it is a great way to escape the harsh winter of England and I can use Christmas as a chance to get a few of the things I need for my trip. I haven’t actually got around to packing yet, but I did add some key items to my list to Santa this year:

  1. Backpack
  2. Packing Cubes
  3. First Aid Kit
  4. Towel
  5. Travel Adapter
  6. Luggage Locks
  7. Travel Sewing Kit
  8. Drinking Straws
  9. Filter Bottle
  10. Hot/Cold food container
  11. Scruba Wash Bag
  12. Portable Charger
  13. Eye mask
  14. Travel pillow
  15. Deck of cards
  16. Notebook/diary
  17. Torch

I am not by any means be expecting all of this to be gifted to me so after christmas I will purchase anything, that I am missing, myself.

Clothes/Shoes

There are obviously lots of other basics I will need such as clothes and shoes but I am just going to reuse everything I have in the back of my cupboard instead on investing in new things. If you want a basic plan however I am planning on bringing:

  1. 4 x t-shirts/vest tops
  2. 2 x shorts
  3. 1x maxi skirt
  4. 2 x summer dresses
  5. 7 x underwear
  6. 2 x swim wear
  7. 1 x light jumper
  8. 1 x light raincoat
  9. Flip flops
  10. Trainers

Toiletries

The next thing to think about is toiletries. I am trying to keep this minimal and as eco friendly as I can so I don’t cause more damage to the beautiful places I am going to see. I hardly ever way make up at home so i am limiting myself to absolute basics just incase of the odd night out.

  1. Shampoo bar
  2. Body soap
  3. Deodorant
  4. Bug repellent
  5. Sun cream
  6. Face wash
  7. Mascara
  8. Pencil eye liner
  9. Eyebrow Powder
  10. Concealer stick
  11. Super glue (you never know when this will come in handy!) 

Electronics

I don’t want to be lugged down by heavy electronics so I am going to limit myself to the absolute basics that I know I will use daily:

  1. Phone
  2. Camera
  3. Kindle
  4. Earphones
  5. Charging cables

As I said this is a total guessing game for me now so I will be sure to do an updated list of what I actually used when I get back.

Merry Christmas and happy travels!

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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2. How much will it cost?

This is a tough question to answer because obviously until I get out there, I don’t know how much I am going to spend. What I have learnt though is that traveling is expensive (and I haven’t even got on the plane yet.)

Now obviously there are cheaper and there are more expensive ways to do everything when it comes to going away so don’t take this as the only price tag on everything but this is going to be a run down on what I have spent so far. I think if you are planning a trip away it is important to establish your main priority. For example, if you want to be able to go away for a long time then budgeting is going to be key and you may have to stay in cheaper places or do less activities as compensation. Alternatively, if you aren’t as bothered with how long you are away then you can always splash out on places you stay or what you go to see/do. I see myself as somewhere in the middle. I want to go for around 3 months but also don’t want to miss out on adventures so will therefore be happy to come home sooner if it means that most of my days out there were jam packed with activities.

1. Tour of Asia

It is no secret that group tours are always more expensive than if you were to make the exact same trip yourself. With the extra cost however comes experience, 24/7 help and the ease of knowing that all your travel and accommodation is sorted. I am going on a 30 day trip around 4 countries in Asia with all travel (excluding flights there and back) and accommodation as well as various activities and meals.

Cost: £1,499.00

2. Flights

I have only booked my flight out to Thailand so far, as I am not quite sure where my travels are going to take me, and as with my tour, I decided to spend a bit more for some extra ease of mind. It is a lot cheaper to get a flight with a stop over but seeing as it is my first big trip away I chose the more expensive direct flight. I am flying with Thai Airways and leaving early January.

Cost: £579

3. Insurance

I think insurance is something that some people easily overlook but it is actually one of the biggest necessities for travel. Yes I can see how it might be viewed as a waste of money, as it is something you don’t actually want to use, but the cost of medical attention or loss of possessions can often be triple the amount of an insurance quote – it is definitely worth it for the peace of mind! I went for platinum cover with a company called Cover for You and added in an excess waiver and extra cover for activities and gadget loss.

Cost: £209

4. Visas

These vary a lot depending on which country you visit and your nationality so these facts and figures may not apply to you. When traveling from the UK for short periods of time, some countries don’t require a Visa (New Zealand, Thailand & Vietnam) therefore won’t cost you anything but others aren’t as simple.

Laos: $35 (purchase at the border)

Cambodia: $30 (purchase at the border)

Australia: £20 service charge (if you want a visa to work whilst in Australia that costs around £400)

5. Injections

Whilst writing this blog post I have come to the conclusion that I have probably gone about everything in the most expensive way  and injections sadly also fit into this category. You can get quite a few injections on the NHS but be sure to book in an appointment 6 – 8 weeks before you go. I forgot to do this so wasn’t able to get time off work or an appointment in time at my GP. As a result I went to Boots to get all mine done, which was easy as you could go on weekends, but also horrendously expensive. I also opted to get all the injections they offered (hepatitis A & B, typhoid and Japanese encephalitis) as a few of the diseases are passed through mosquito bites and I am like candy to those pesky bugs! Be sure to get proper medical advice about the recommended vaccines for where you are going and use your own judgement to weigh up which of the optional ones you want to get.

Cost: roughly £400

6. Belongings

I may have splashed the cash on all the other things on this list but I am saving all the pennies I can on belongings. For all the big items, like my rucksack for example, I have asked for them for christmas and my birthday as a way to keep my own costs down. When it comes to items like clothes and shoes I am just digging out all the old stuff in my closet that I don’t mind getting ruined and only buying essentials like a first aid kit to bring with me. I will give a ball park estimate on how much I think it would all cost to buy yourself from new but there are lots of clever ways to save on belongings.

Cost: £500

What I really want to get through in this post is that there is no official cost for traveling. There are areas some will want to spend more in and others will use as an opportunity to save and that is all totally fine. Seeing as this is my first big trip on my own, I didn’t want to leave much up to chance. In most cases therefore I chose the more expensive options that came with more security. Hopefully this will be a helpful guide if you are thinking of going traveling but aren’t sure just how much it is going to be.

Merry Christmas and happy travels!

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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1. Where are you going traveling?

A few weeks ago I announced on my Instagram that from January next year I am trading my Oyster card for my passport and going traveling for 9 months. It is something I have been planning for months and dreaming of for years so I can’t explain how excited I am to say it’s only a few weeks away now. I’ve received a lot of different reactions from people when I tell them I’m jetting off and a whole range of questions from “can I come with?” to “are you crazy?” which has sparked me to put this little travel blog to good use and answer some of those questions.

I know at this time of year the only thing on people’s minds is if a “ring for wine” bell is inappropriate for office secret Santa or where you can hide your box of salted caramel matchsticks so your nan doesn’t eat them all but I thought I would put my own spin on a christmas classic and do the 12 days of travel!

Everyday I will answer one a common question I get as a response to “I am going traveling” and hopefully it might help you if it’s something you’re interested in doing or just give you something to read as your partner tries on their 17th New Year’s Eve outfit possibility!

Today I thought we would begin with my story and the most common questioned asked: Where are you going travelling?

At the age of 22 I have been lucky enough to visit 3/7 of the continents this world has to offer so I thought for my first big journey out there alone I would try to tick off another 2 – Asia and Australia. I am going to be venturing on a group tour of South East Asia, stopping along the way in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. I chose to go on a group tour instead of venturing it alone for the simple reason of I found it all quite intimidating. Not only are they new countries to me, they are totally new cultures, weathers, cuisines and it all felt a but too much to face solo. Being in a group will allow me to experience everything but with a safety net of having my journeys and accommodation already sorted. I know that I won’t have much time in each town but I am seeing this trip as my taster session to then return in future years and delve deeper into places that I don’t want to leave behind.

Now technically this is where the first section of my trip ends as I have nothing else booked in after my group trip ends. That however is all part of the grand plan. I have never been away from home on my own for longer than a couple of weeks so I might finish my month off and feel like it is time to go back or I might have come down with a strong case of the travel bug and never want to go home. I just don’t know! That is why I have left it open to see who I meet, how I feel and just giving myself the total freedom to do whatever feels right for me. If I do have the desire to continue then I have my heart set on catching a flight over to explore the beautiful lands of Australia and New Zealand. Even though I have never been to either of these countries I feel much more confident doing them on my own as they speak English and have a culture that, I might naively be assuming, echoes that of what we have here in England. These familiarities make the task of exploring somewhere new thousands of miles away from home on my own a lot less daunting and a lot more exciting! My vague plan is to grab a greyhound bus ticket, stay in hostels and hopefully make some new friends along the way to continue my adventure with.

When the time comes that I have either run out of energy, desire or money (most likely the latter) then I will catch a flight back home. As the last part of my trip is so vague I have no real idea of when this will be but I have predicted around April/May giving me just enough time to get my visa sorted for my second trip. Camp America!

I think it has been roughly 4 years now that I have said I am going to apply for a summer at Camp America but this is finally the year that I have made it happen. I will be uploading another post a bit later on about the whole application process, but I am thrilled that it all paid off and I will spending next summer in the state of New York singing camp fire songs, teaching photography and living my best parent-trap-esk camp counsellor life! If that wasn’t enough, the visa allows another month of travel in America so I will be sure to put that to good use and potentially do a trip down the East Coast. As with my earlier trip I am leaving it all up in the air now and waiting to see who I meet and what other plans just fall into place.

If all goes to plan, then in October next year I will be back in my own bed reminiscing over the endless memories I have made all over the world and no doubt planning my next trip away. But for now, that is day 1 of my 12 days of travel done!

Merry Christmas and happy travels!

Go and grab another cuppa on me, Em x

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