With summer fast approaching, it’s finally time to book the holiday you’ve been dreaming of all winter. Whether it’s an exotic beach or a city break that gets you in the mood, it’s all about leaving your cares behind and spending a few precious days indulging your every whim. With that in mind, it’s worth exploring the different ways you can maximise the spoils and ensure you get the most out of your holiday.

Points mean prizes

You’re probably going to book your holiday via credit card, so this is the ideal time to take advantage of a rewards points system. Most companies operate these, allowing customers to build up points with purchases that can later be converted into benefits. Saving up for air miles and complimentary hotel stays is a good way to make paying for the most expensive parts of your holiday less painful, but even when you’re away you could be working towards your next break. By using your credit card instead of cash at the theatre or when dining out, you could earn extra treats, so it’s worth researching which places are affiliated with your chosen credit card company. Most credit cards also offer cashback on purchases, which comes in handy when gift shopping for the folks back home.

Join the club

Instead of spending the weeks before your holiday flicking through gorgeous pictures of your destination and daydreaming, start researching what’s going on there to see if you can take advantage any deals. There might be a nightclub offering complimentary champagne for group entry, a new restaurant having an opening night party, or even a resort spa with exclusive early-bird packages. In an industry as competitive as tourism, everyone will want to pamper you – so let them!

Knowledge is power

When you’re visiting a destination for the first time, it can be difficult to find your bearings. Insider information is invaluable when travelling, whether it’s pointing out which restaurants to avoid, letting you in on a hidden gem off the beaten path or even recommending a particular cocktail. The world’s largest travel review website, TripAdvisor, operates an online community where travellers can share information on shops, restaurants and hotels that offer exclusive treats and benefits to specified cardholders. You’ll also get insight into each reviewer’s individual experience, giving you the knowledge you need to plan a perfect holiday.

TripAdvisor has teamed up with credit cards from American Express to offer cardmembers exclusive access to special offers, local hotspots and bespoke reviews of some of the world’s finest destinations. From rooftop bars to underground excursions, you can get expert information on every part of your trip.

 

Bahamas is an archipelago based on 700 islands known for the magnificent coral reefs and for their sunny beaches. But the real deal in the archipelago is the vivid nightlife, when all the islands are illuminated like stars and people party long into the daylight.

Las Vegas style entertainment

Cable Beach, located on the New Providence Island, offers two venues which provide fun and safety. Wyndham Nassau Resort  has luxurious casinos and a 800 seats theater which offers high quality entertainment, spectacular shows and complete gambling experience which can rival with Las Vegas hotels.

The Island way of gambling

Crystal Palace Casino is another spot on the beach where real fun begins after dark. Being the largest venue on Cable Beach, it offers a baccarat table, 7 craps tables, 51 blackjack tables and 750 slot machines. The bars and the restaurants on the beach offer a sweet break from gambling. Live music and delicious cocktails are the complementary treatments for those who want to stay away from the games and enjoy a dance session.

Grand_Bahamas_Island

Natural features of the Bahamas islands

Nightlife in the islands offers fun and many entertainment opportunities, but the real beauty of the islands should not be missed either. The natural coral reefs and the crystal clear waters are perfect for divers, while the sunny beaches may offer a silent escape after a noisy gambling experience. The wild side of the archipelago also has an untouched green version, perfect for a long night walk.

Online gambling

The tourists who don’t want to spend the entire night inside a casino because they are keen on exploring the natural island beauty, can always try their luck online while relaxing on the beach. Learning the rules at fult tilt poker is ideal for people trying gambling for the first time. The beginners can watch helpful tutorials teaching them how to make deposits and how to play. The house offers to double the value of the deposit for free so you can play using these money and win real cash.

Non-gamers have the same fun

Even if Bahamas is a true paradise for gamblers, as there are casinos in every possible corner of the little islands, tourists who don’t gamble are also treated like VIPs. Atlantis Paradise Island Resort and Casino is one of the favorite spots for gamers, but all guests can have nightlife fun at the comedy club or at the extravagantly decorated bar.

Fire eaters and fries

On the Grand Bahama Island tourists can enjoy street shows after dark, enjoying the nightlife in the middle if the Lucaya Marketplace. Artists gather in the night to put on interesting shows of fire-eating, while the Junkanoo street parade catches all the eyes. Drummers and Djs enhance the fun and mesmerize tourists, who can quickly find themselves dancing in the street in a general party. After all this fun, one must enjoy the street cuisine and taste the real island spirit which comes with the famous  fish fries.

 

Scotland’s vast natural heritage is a great reason to visit Britain. The country’s gardens offer a delightful opportunity to indulge your senses and explore the very best of Britain’s natural scenery. Take a look at some of the finest Scottish gardens.

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Discover more Scottish and English Gardens from VisitBritain

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Drummond Castle Gardens

These gardens combine to perfection stunning Renaissance architecture with superb scenery. This Perthshire venue dates from the mid-18th century, and the garden’s layout and gorgeous details will surely transport visitors to the stately glamour of a bygone area.

Monteviot Gardens

Located in Jedburgh, a historic market town south of Edinburgh, the Monteviot Gardens are the ideal place to disconnect from the busy pace of daily life. Here you can stroll around wonderful rose, herb, river, and water gardens, which are connected to each other through lovely ponds and bridges. Don’t miss the Monteviot’s arboretum and the gardens’ top terrace.

Rocheid Garden

Rocheid is a hidden and relaxing gem in the heart of cosmopolitan Edinburgh. This garden features gorgeous exotic plants and flowers that gather gracefully around a crystal-clear natural pond. The result is a beautiful collage of bright colours that never fail to make an impression on visitors.

Brockhole Gardens

Although the Lake District is not part of Scotland, a trip to this wonderful part of Cumbria is well worth the detour if only to visit the splendid Brockhole Gardens. Located right next to Windermere Lake, these gardens feature 30 acres of terraced land that has been beautifully landscaped to bring out the best of this stunning area. For the best views of these gardens, go on the exciting tree-top trek at Brockhole.

 

This post has been brought to you by VisitBritain

 

best budget adventures in floridaWhen most people think of Florida, they think of the large resorts that welcome millions of tourists every year. But outside of Disney World and Universal Studios there’s a whole wealth of great attractions to discover, and on a great budget too.

Florida holidays are becoming more accessible to people nowadays, with the likes of Florida 4 Less offering cheap flights to the state regularly. And with so much to see and do, it could be a vacation you never forget.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Located 70 miles off the coast of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is a small archipelago of coral islands, that includes the preservation of Fort Jefferson, a 19th century coastal fortress built as a naval station to help prevent piracy in the Caribbean. Popular amongst nature lovers, the islands are awash with tropical birds, colourful coral reefs and eclectic sea life.

Priced just $5 for a week’s entry to the park, with the option to camp for an extra $3 per day, the national park is accessible by ferry and seaplane and is perfect for anyone who wants to be one with nature. Able to snorkel, bird-watch and explore the incredible fort, it’s a far cry from the busy tourist spots of Key West.

Cycle in the Everglades

The Everglades are one of the true, natural beauties in the Sunshine State and is awash with magnificent wildlife just waiting to be discovered. Home to numerous endangered species including the manatee, American crocodile and the Florida panther, the state opened the National Park in 1947 to protect the natural landscape, and is now enjoyed by over a million visitors every year.

Priced at just $5 entry for cyclists, you’re free to roam the park for seven days along the 43 mile network of trails through the lush pinelands.

Experience Daytona

Not only does Daytona have one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida, but it’s also home to one of the world’s most famous motor races. The Daytona 500 attracts over 200,000 visitors every February to the city as well as large amounts of NASCAR fanatics throughout the year. Tickets can be grabbed from as little as $40, whilst the city during a race-day has an unrivalled atmosphere.

If motorsport isn’t your thing however, then a walk along the boardwalk can be just as thrilling. With stalls, games and attractions you can enjoy hours of fun before slipping down to the beach for a relaxing afternoon watching the waves.

 

St Augustine

St Augustine is the oldest city in the United States. Established in 1575, St Augustine is located just 40 miles south of Jacksonville and is perhaps the most charming city in the state. Steeped in a rich history, the Spanish colonial-era architecture draws a number of tourists to the city, whilst it’s civil rights moment that was prominent in the mid 1960’s can be read about in the Civil Rights Library.

The Basilica Cathedral is a reminder of its Spanish history, meanwhile the rolling coastline and St Augustine Alligator Farm is a reminder of the glorious Florida setting it owns.

Kennedy Space Center

Taking one step beyond is compulsory at the Kennedy Space Center. Just a stone’s throw from Orlando, the center has been home to every NASA human space flight since 1968 and is one of the most enthralling museums in Florida.

For $50 you can experience the awe-inspiring scale of the largest rocket ever made, hear the tales of a veteran NASA astronaut, and get your hands on some actual moon rock. It’s a full day out at the Space Center and a unique experience that can’t be found anywhere else.

 

Paris is one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in the world, and a great way to capture your experience in Paris is through the written word. Travel writing is highly enjoyable, whether it be for others or for your own pleasure. You can also harness your writing skills and tell others all about Paris and its wonderful tourist attractions. You can also use your writing skills to help readers understand the city and the best attractions to see and activities to do. Paris is a wonderful city and great way to get the most of the city is by purchasing a Paris Visite Pass, this way you can write about all the attractions in the city and save money at the same time.

You may find it tricky to get started and be unsure how to create a well-written piece. However, Silver Travel Advisor has recently provided some excellent travel writing tips from established travel writers that will help you get started.

View on Paris form Notre Dame cathedral_113654788

Avoiding cliches

One tip the site gave is to avoid using too many clichés, or to use them sparingly if they seem appropriate.
Many of the attractions in Paris are so unique that you may yourself inspired to describe them in a more original way, rather than using clichés.
For example, rather than simply calling the Arc De Triomphe ‘visually stunning’, why not write about its history and architecture in a little more detail, or use a simile to describe the building’s shape and size?

Use words to create an image in the mind of the reader

Silver Travel Advisor suggests that most people have a visual awareness and we are more compelled by words that create an image in our minds.
The site recommends that you close your eyes and think back to the attraction you want to write about, and then describe the pictures that come into your head. The site also suggests that you use descriptive words, such as certain shapes and colours.
The site also suggests that you should read other travel articles and suggests picking out several phases in the text that make you feel like you are there and look at the way they have been written. Also, when you visit Paris why not take some travel books regarding France and Paris along with you, and think about the way the author conveyed his or her experience?

Adventurous use of adjectives

Silver Travel Advisor recommends that you try and use unusual adjectives in your travel writing in a natural way. For example, when describing the Louvre’s pyramid, use words like striking, gleaming or grand. You can even use very unusual adjectives, such as pulchritudinous or incandescent. However, you should yourself if these would fit naturally within the text.

Be funny

Silver Travel Advisor also recommends that you be humorous in your text, but limit this to avoid making your entire article a comedy. They also suggest that you attempt to convey your personality in your travel writing. Write about funny personal experiences, and try to be a little self-deprecating. For example, if you made a silly mistake during your time in Paris, such as going in the wrong entrance at an attraction – put it in your writing to tell a funny story that everyone can relate to.

shutterstock_92655643London is one of the most interesting and exciting cities. It has something for everyone of all ages and the city’s attractions are legendary. Like most capital cities there are must-see attractions that visitors will not want to miss. London also has excellent nightlife, with superb restaurants, cultural events, theatre performances, live music, legendary clubs and much more and one of the best ways to get a great sample of what it has to offer is a hop on hop off London bus…

London Zoo

One of the most popular London attractions is London Zoo, which is a fantastic day out for all the family. This famous zoo is the first scientific zoo in the world, and has played a major part in the study and conversation of animals since it opened in 1847. Today the zoo houses over 755 animal species, making it the largest zoo in the UK. A visit to the zoo at Regents Park is one of the most memorable days out for visitors to London.

Tower of London

Another must-see for visitors to London is the Tower of London. This beautiful fortress is situated on the north bank of the Thames. It was commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1078, shortly after the Norman conquest of England. The Tower of London is remarkably well preserved and contains many fascinating artefacts, including the Crown Jewels. During the 17th and 18th centuries it was used as a prison, and the monarchs of the time would send undesirables “to the Tower” where they would be tortured and punished. Despite its rather macabre history the building is very beautiful with the original interior and makes for a fascinating day out. Do not forget to chat to the friendly Beefeaters that guard the gates!

Changing of the Guard

No trip to London is complete without seeing the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. Buckingham Palace is home to Queen Elizabeth II and is a beautiful building. The changing of the guard is a spectacular sight and a great way to observe Britain’s pomp and glory. The changing of the guard occurs every other day at the palace.

Museums and Galleries

London also has some of the world’s best museums and art galleries. The Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum have breathtaking artefacts. The V&A is dedicated to the history of art and design, and the British Museum is dedicated to human history. Both museums contain artefacts from ancient times, and the British Museum has vast halls with reconstructed ancient buildings and casts from ancient archaeological sites. Other famous London museums include the Natural History Museum and Science Museum, and a visit to the Tate Modern is essential for a contemporary art fix!

The Globe

Other major attractions include the Shakespeare Globe Theatre on the south bank, St Paul’s Cathedral, Windsor Castle, the Churchill War Rooms and much more. You can ensure that you get to see all the best attractions in London by joining a sightseeing tour. This will include a guide so you will understand more about the attractions you visit. If you prefer to go it alone then you can easily pick up a London Map that is specifically designed for tourists, which will help you to navigate the city with ease.

Georgina Young tells us about an adventure exploring Monkey Beach in Penang National Park, Malaysia.

It is completely out of character, I don’t know what was going through my mind as I was packing my backpack at 7:30am. Six litres of water? Check. Snacks for the day? Check. Change of clothes? Check. Copious amounts of suntan lotion? Check.

I’ve got everything ready to go, and I pull on my hike bag, the same one that just the night before was housing all my worldly belongings, and walk out of my hostel into the bright morning light. I immediately put on my sunglasses and make my way to the bus stop, water bottles weighing me down.

The bus winds pleasantly for more than an hour through northern Penang, stopping off at the all places a tourist could ever want to see. Lush mountains blend into white sandy beaches, wildlife parks litter the highway. There is nothing quite like the nature and beauty of this island UNESCO heritage site.

Both a young Spanish girl and I disembark at the last stop, the national park. After ignoring all the scouts trying to sell me things on the path up to the park, registering my intentions with the park staff, I begin my trek into the reserve.

I’m immediately struck by the wide, smooth, paved pathway. Maybe this trek is going to be a lot easier than imagined, was it oversold? But after around half a kilometre things get decidedly more rocky and by the kilometre mark the pathway has all but disappeared. The further and further into the forest I go, the more treacherous the route becomes until I am hoping from post to post over a sheer drop and literally crawling in, out, under and over sprawling tree roots.

The trees own this forest I am just a guest here.

I stop frequently and gulp down huge amounts of water. The tiny black and white map I’ve been given says that it will take 1 ½ hours to make it to my destination, to Monkey Beach, but I know it will take me much longer as thoroughly unaccustomed to hiking as I am, particularly in these conditions.

In my short shorts and tank top, carving my way through vines and tree branches, I feel like the real life Lara Croft only of course much more pink and sweaty. I pass several small quaint beaches on the way and consider just stopping here away from the tourist traps.

But then I see it over the horizon. The pure sand cuts around the forest and the mountain side for what seems like miles. The little boat moored up to shore gives the stereotypical impression of any island paradise. But this view is all mine.

Monkey Beach
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AgfaPhoto

As I descend onto the beach from my mountain pass I see the critter for which the beach is named. Monkey’s fighting for position on several of the trees that surround this idyllic beach setting. I scramble up onto a rock in order to change into my clothes and take a dip in the clear, turquoise bay, but just as I get out my clothes for changing, a monkey has seized them.

“Hit it with a stick!” I hear a woman’s voice echoing from a nearby rock.

I try in vain to look for a stick, but failing to see anything scary enough to fend off this fearsome beast I make myself large and hiss. More so to do with the fact that the stolen bag contains only clothes and not food, rather than my less than scary attempt to fend him off, the monkey drops my bag and scarpers. I retrieve my bathers and finish changing, thanking the American on the rocks for her advice.

Placing my hike bag as close to the sea as possible without it getting wet I dive into the sea and feel the refreshingly cool liquid flow over me, relieving me from the scorching heat. Up on the beach I see a French couple, abandon their bags near the trees and hasten towards the sea. But shouting I warn them.

“Careful Monkeys!” and they too tie their bags somewhere near the coast. After around 20 minutes in the sea I hear the French girl scream as she scares two carefully approaching monkeys from my luggage. You give a little you get a little. I spend the whole day, talking with tourists who have made the tiring trek themselves, locals who make their living selling jet ski rides and lying in the sun.

A tanned, fit Malaysian beach bum enquires whether I would like a jet ski back to shore and I honestly tell him that I only have 4 Ringits on me and that’s for the bus home. He then suggests that next time I come I should bring my boyfriend.

“Yea I should” I say aimlessly back.  I of course need to find myself a boyfriend first.

Believing me to be poor and unavailable he gives up on his quest to talk to me and I spend the day reading in the beating sun.

AgfaPhoto

AgfaPhoto

AgfaPhoto

By 4pm as the sun is no longer at it’s highest and feeling well rested I begin my return journey, this time starting at the hardest point making my way back to the easiest. The pathway is just as deserted as before and I passing people is rare. On one of my frequent stops I am passed by a group of Malaysians hiking the trail barefoot thinking that the only reason I could be sitting there in the mud was because I had fallen and was injured. They rush to my aid.

“Oh no I’m fine. Just taking a rest”

The concept is alien to them, and they take off on their hardened, hobbit heels.

As I reach the entrance again, having ripped my leggings in half and exhausted, I refused to take the advice I have read to change into dry clothes believing that the refreshing breeze of the bus air con will be more than welcome after the heat blast I feel like I have just walked through. And it is for around 30 minutes, before I realise how wrong I was, shivering on the bus, my clothes completely soaked through with what I have to remind myself is not in fact sea water as my brain reasons it must be, but sweat.

While thinking to myself “this is why I don’t go hiking” I have to console myself with the memory of the beach paradise I discovered, and how few people are able to see it as I have.

About the Author: George is a 20-something hitchhiker, solo female traveller and cunning linguist, currently teaching in Kyushu, Japan. She circumnavigates the globe and teaches languages to all those in her wake. She has travelled Europe and Oz extensively, and has taught languages in 7 different countries and counting. Her blog is a mix of language learning, TEFL tips and general travel tales. Follow her journey at George on the Go or on Facebook or Twitter.

Over the past 5 years I have travelled A LOT! I spent 2 years travelling through Asia and Australia and now I travel somewhere new at least once a month. I’m incredibly lucky and I love the travel lifestyle/career that I’ve chosen but I have a travel secret to share with you: I’m terrible at travelling.

Yes, even after years of travelling, I’m still not very good at it. I enjoy every minute of travelling and I love writing about my travels and sharing my travel photos but I’m pretty useless at the actual travel part.

Here are a few examples.

I always blow my budget

Most of the time I don’t actually have a budget in mind but when I do, I always end up blowing it too quickly. My designated travel money seems to disappear from my pockets before I’m even half way through my holiday. I try to cut back on expenses, alcohol and expensive trips but there is always a little voice in the back of my head that says, ‘You only live once and you may never come back here ever again! Go on girl, have fun!’ And before I know it, I’ve not got a penny to my name.

I always get lost

It’s a running joke between my family and friends about how I was born without a sense of direction. They say it as though a ‘sense of direction’ is an organ or some kind of internal compass that ensures you always know which way to go and, unfortunately, it’s something I don’t have. To put it into perspective, I can walk into a shop on the high street and when I walk back out I forget which direction I’m meant to be walking in. If I can get lost on a long, straight high street, imagine what I’m like in a new city!

I always over-pack

luggage stuffing

Every time I go away I promise myself that this time I will pack light. This time I will have a backpack that I can lift over my head. This time I won’t lug around 15 outfits that I will never wear.  OK, maybe next time…

I always take too many clothes, accessories and toiletries ‘just-in-case’ because you really don’t know who you’re going to meet when you travel!

I always wing-it

I really admire the kind of travellers who buy a guidebook months before they visit a new destination. They thoroughly research all the things there are to do, the amazing places to stay, the local delicacies they should try and the best places to get stunning photography. Despite my best intentions, I never quite get round to doing all this research and usually arrive in a destination knowing very little about it.

So there you have it, I’m a terrible traveller but somehow, all these faults usually lead to me having an amazing trip. Yes, I spend too much money but I spend it on unforgettable experiences. I might get lost but I usually end up finding something amazing in an unexpected place. I do overpack but I’ve always got a spare pair of shoes/jeans/earrings/gloves for anyone that forgets! And maybe I don’t plan but it means I end up chatting to the locals to find out the best things to do and I usually end up avoiding the tourist traps that guidebooks recommend.

Now it’s your turn, what are your travel confessions? 

Most people struggle to pin-point the single best moment on their RTW journey. Many people travel for a few months or even a year or more so there will undoubtedly be hundreds of amazing moments but, for me, my single best moment is clear. It was one night spent camping on a beach in Tasmania. Myself and four friends had spent the day hiking, fishing and exploring. We’d caught a massive fish so made a fire on the beach to cook it up for dinner. We were having so much fun on the beach that it was 10pm before we knew it so we decided to stay for the night and camp under the stars. Drinking warm beer, eating toasted marshmallows and sharing travel stories until the early hours of the morning, I can honestly say that was the best night of my life.

I’ve been speaking to lots of backpackers in Australia and I’m always surprised how few go to Tasmania and do anything like this. They all think it sounds impossibly difficult to get over there and hire a car but it honestly isn’t. All you need to do is book car hire in Tasmania with DriveNow grab a map and you’re good to go. You can find maps that are especially designed for camping so they have campsites, toilets and great places to stop marked on the map already. If you can pick up a map from a backpacker then it’s even better because you can find their notes and dog-eared pages already marked.

Despite the scary stories that come from films like Wolfe Creek, Australia is an amazingly safe country so it’s really safe to camp. Tasmania is a small island so you don’t need to worry about getting lost out in the outback or breaking down and no one finding you. I would recommend packing plenty of water and food and a warm sleeping bag because it can get chilly at night and whatever happens, as long as you have food you’ll always be fine.

The more people you have in your car the better because it means you can share the costs of petrol which can be pricey. If you plan to sleep in your car, make sure you have an estate so you can get an airbed in the boot. If there are 4 or 5 of you, pack a tent for extra space.

The campsites in Australia cost about $25 a night and have excellent facilities. There are always loads of BBQs, fridges and nice, clean bathrooms with hot showers. Make sure you pack a torch in case you need to head to the bathrooms at night!

If you don’t plan to camp then there are plenty of budget hostels or cheap hotels for you to stay in. Hostels are a great place to meet other backpackers and chat to people to get their tips and advice for things to see and do. Guidebooks are brilliant but you’ll always get the best advice from your fellow travellers.

And my final piece of advice for anyone travelling around Australia in a car is to pack light. You have so little space and it’s virtually impossible to travel with a lot of luggage. Try to restrict yourself to a 40L backpack so you don’t have any space to overpack.

Have you every travelled around Australia by car? If so, do you have any tips to share?

 

 

We know this site is called Round the World Backpackers but when it comes to travelling you actually have a couple of luggage options.

Here are the options and what I recommend taking and when:

The classic backpack

backpacks

I’m not a huge fan of backpacks but they are useful for when you’re getting off the beaten track or travelling on a budget. You may ask why budget travel would make a difference but you’re more likely to be getting on boats and buses or walking from train stops with your luggage. If you’re hoping to find idyllic beach huts and bargain accommodation then be prepared to do some walking to find it. And, yes, that means lugging your backpack with you!

Top tip for backpacks: Don’t over-pack it. Backpacks usually come with extendable pockets which are easy to overfill but avoid the temptation and do you your best to keep it under 10kg. You really don’t need that extra pair of jeans so put them away! I stick to the rule that if I can’t life my backpack over my head (without the help of a man!) it’s too heavy so something has to go.

The backpack with wheels

backpack with wheels

This is my favourite option. I don’t care where you are in the world, 80% of the time you’ll be able to wheel your suitcase. I’ll admit that the 20% of the time that you need to carry it, it will be heavier and uncomfortable but I think it’s worth a little bit of discomfort in exchange of wheeling it most of the time.

Top tip for wheely backpack: Invest in a really good quality backpack to ensure it isn’t going to break on you. If a wheel breaks it means that you’ll be left with an uncomfortable and heavy backpack.

 

The suitcase

suitcase

Suitcases are perfect for short holidays, city breaks or when you’re travelling to countries where you know you’ll never be dragging your bag across fields or beaches such as if you’re city hopping in Europe. They’re easy to pack, easy to pull and easy to stack together on buses.

Top tip for suitcases: Again, I suggest buying a good quality suitcase. If you’re travelling for a few months it’s likely to be pretty heavy and if you lose wheel or the handle breaks it’s going to be very difficult to get around!

 

The satchel

satchel

Satchels are a good option for anyone who can travel super light. This is an art that I’ve never managed to master myself but I’m always envious of the people I see hopping on a plane with nothing more than a bag slung over their shoulder. They can be a bit awkward to carry but the softness makes them good for travelling because they can squish into small spaces.

 

One of the main reasons people give for not going travelling is that they can’t afford it and I’m the first to admit that travelling for a few month or longer is crazy expensive. But I’ll also admit that it will be the best money you will ever spend and it’s well worth working your socks of for a few years in order to save for that big trip.

Here are my top tips to help you save for your trip that bit faster and make the saving process as bearable as possible.

 

Have a spending detox

Like a diet, it’s good to start with a detox, mainly because it’s horrible and when you allow yourself a few little treats you’ll really appreciate it.

 

A spending detox should last for a week and you should spend nothing all week other than your rent, bills and transport costs. Make sure you take packed lunches when you’ll be out for the day and don’t buy ANYTHING! If you can, don’t even take any cash or cards out with you to avoid temptation.

 

A spending detox will be tough but it will help you realize how much money you waste and the places you really need to spend it. You’ll realize that you don’t need to spend money on drinks and treats throughout the day, you don’t need those magazines and papers and you can go without a few drinks in the pub after work.

 

Have a target

It’s tough to save if you don’t know exactly what you’re saving for or how long it will take. Work out how much you’re going to need for your trip and when you want to go so you know exactly how much you need to put away each month.

 

Cover your walls, your fridge, your notebooks, your office, your bedroom, (hell, cover your bathroom if it helps) with pictures of the places you’re going to keep you inspired to keep saving.

 

What could you be spending your money on?

One night’s accommodation in Thailand can cost as little as £5 a night so try to keep this is mind every time you spend a fiver at home. What can £5 get you at home? A McDonalds meal, two coffees, a pint and a packet of crisps, a book, a magazine and not a lot else. These are all things you can live without so whenever you’re tempted, think about what you could be spending that money on.

 

Sell everything

That’s right, everything! If it’s not going with you, get it on eBay. If you’re travelling long term, all your clothes will be outdated and all your technology will be old news. Sell your books and DVDs because, let’s face it, who reads on a book and who watches DVDs these days? Sell your car; you could travel for months on the money you get for your car and you’ll thank yourself for it later when you can stay on the road that bit longer.

 

Start buying travel

If you’re really terrible at saving, start spending, just make sure you’re spending it on the right things. Buy a flight as soon as you get paid, buy your backpack, book some accommodation, book activities with flexible dates or put money on a travel money card. If you’ve already spent the money, there’s no way you can spend it!

 

If all else fails…get a working holiday visa

If you’re under 30 you can get a working holiday visa fairly easily for Australia, New Zealand and Canada. If you’re working abroad, you’ll only need to save enough money to buy your flights and keep you going for a month or two just in case you don’t find work immediately.

It’s much more fun to save for travel when you’re already travelling and you’ll find that you’ll meet lots of other backpackers in the same situation. I lived with heaps on people in Australia who were all working 12 hour days in order to save as much money as quickly as possible to start travelling again. You can travel around that country and when you run out of money, just stop travelling and start working again. Simples.

 

Do you have any other tips for saving for travel?

 

Bali is a beautiful place with gorgeous beaches, great nightlife and it’s bursting with a rich, vibrant culture with bucket loads of history.

You could easily stay a few weeks and book any of the ocean front Bali hotels and lounge around on the beaches indulging in the delicious cuisine. You can enjoy much more than the scenery, since the country has so much more to offer. Here are just a few of our favorite things to do in Bali:

 

Hit the surf

The surf in Bali is out of this world and it’s a paradise for anyone who loves the waves. It’s a great place if you’re an experienced surfer but it’s also brilliant for beginners. There are plenty of surf schools, particularly in the touristy destinations like Kuta, where they will take you to areas with gentle waves. You’ll get a great price for a full-day lesson and you’ll be up on your feet before you know it.

 

Dive a shipwreck

If you want a diving experience like no other then head to the east coast to Tulamben to dive the USAT Liberty Shipwreck. The water here is calm and warm so it’s perfect for beginners and you can dive right into the old boat to explore.

 

Take a cookery class

After just a few hours in Bali you will realise that the food is to die for and you won’t find tasty treats like these anywhere else in the world. So the best solution is to learn how to cook it for yourself.

If you have the chance, take a full day cookery course so you can go to the market in the morning to pick your produce. You will stay with the class right until the end of the day when you will finally get to dig into your chosen menu. Then when you head home you can take a little of your travels with you and cook up a storm for your friends and family.

 

Stretch it out with a yoga course

If you head to Ubud in Bali you’ll be surrounded by hippies, meditation, art and yoga so you might as well embrace it and give it a go. There are plenty of yoga courses to choose from which are suitable for all levels. You’ll find some of the best yoga schools tucked away in the rice paddies for the ultimate in relaxation and peaceful solitude.

 

Monkey around in Monkey Forest

While you’re in Ubud you have to check out Monkey Forest which is in the centre of the town. The monkeys have been living here for hundreds and hundreds of years in the ruins of the three Holy Monkey Temples which were built during the mid-14th century.

 

Barter at the markets

The Balinese are a create bunch of people and the markets are packed with artistic creations, clothes, jewellery and unique souvenirs. It would be a crime to leave without a few goodies so get to the market and haggle for a bargain.

Bartering can be intimidating at first but it can be great fun when you get the hang of it. The general rule is to try and knock about 20-30% off the asking price.

 

Spot some dolphins

Head up to the northern coast of Bali to Lovina to see dolphins cruising through the surf. Your best chance to see them is around sunrise so take an early boat trip and there’s a high chance these gorgeous creatures will join you to watch the sun rise and playfully chase your boat back to shore.

This is an experience like no other and not to be missed!

Have you got anything else to add to the list of top things to see and do in Bali?

 

This is a guest post from the lovely Neil over at Backpacks and Bunk Beds.

Under any other circumstances, if a total stranger were to hold out his hand and offer me a little brown paper bag full of unmarked white pills, I would like to think I’d have the sense to decline such a generous and yet terrifying offer.  But when the stranger offering you said mysterious pills has the letter D and R before their name, an element of trust is already pre-established, and all of a sudden you can wait to slam the pills down the back of your throat.  Ok maybe a slight exaggeration, but you catch my drift.

This is a position I one day found myself in whilst in Sri Lanka. It was a one off, I would never touch pills normally, but the good Dr told me to take two a day for a week, so that’s what I took.  Brave? Stupid?  Risky?  He was a Dr, but still they were unmarked and in a brown paper bag.  They weren’t my lunch!  Shouldn’t they have been in a plastic container or something?  Ah well, bottoms up *glugs water and swallows whilst saying a small prayer.

The above probably makes little sense without a back-story so let me provide you with one.  In 2006 I spent 3 months of my year volunteering as a teacher and sports coach in both Sri Lanka and India.   As you can imagine, most of my work took place school with young kids, snotty nosed, whingey, ungrateful … I jest, the kids were great.  They were a world apart from kids who I’ve taught in the UK, these little wonders actually wanted to be in school, it made teaching a whole lot easier.  I loved both my placements but sadly had to cut my placement in India shot by a week and headed back to Sri Lanka before I’d move on to Thailand and the rest of my rtw trip.

Neil and his eye pimping it up with the ladies

Upon my return to Sri Lanka I made plans to meet up with Natalie (@girlandtheworld) and the some volunteers I already knew, but before I met them I had a couple of nights by myself in Colombo.  I took in a movie, went shopping, went to the pub and generally enjoyed myself.  On the second morning at my guesthouse, however, I had distinct difficulty in opening my eyes.  It wasn’t that I was tired, far from it; my eyelids were literally stuck together.  A film/gloop has formed during the nights a literally glued them together.  When I finally prised my eyes open I washed them out and knew I had an issue to deal with.

I travelled to the volunteer’s base in Sri Lanka and had a chat with my old volunteer liaison who wrote down in Sinhala an address and some instructions before putting me on the next tuk tuk out of there.  That is how I ended up in a Dr’s surgery being given unmarked white pills.  My eyes were a mess, I had caught conjunctivitis and I knew exactly where I’d got it from, my favourite School in India.

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis (also known as Pink Eye) is swelling (inflammation) or infection of the membrane lining the eyelids known as the conjunctiva.

There are many causes of conjunctivitis. Viruses are the most common cause. Other causes include:

  • Allergies
  •  Bacteria
  •   Certain diseases
  •   Chemical exposure
  •   Fungi
  •  Parasites (rarely)
  •  Use of contact lenses (especially extended-wear lenses)

 

“Pink eye” refers to a viral infection of the conjunctiva. These infections are especially contagious among children.

 

Conjunctivitis in my Madurai based School

Conjunctivitis (also known as Pink Eye) is swelling (inflammation) or infection of the membrane lining the eyelids known as the conjunctiva.

 

There are many causes of conjunctivitis. The most common is looking into he eyes of another person who has Conjunctivitis.

 

“Pink eye” refers to a viral infection of the conjunctiva. These infections are especially contagious among children.

 

Can you spot the difference?  Did you see that little pearl wisdom about sight?  In case you missed it …

 

The most common (cause) is looking into he eyes of another person who has Conjunctivitis.

 

Yup, conjunctivitis is transferable by sight (apparently).  The kids who had the VIRAL infection were made to come to school with sunglasses on so that no one would be able to see their eyes, or they were sent home.  I sh*t you not.  Andrew (a medicine volunteer who also did a bit of teaching) and I tried to explain to the kids in a couple of classroom based lessons that the infection was VIRAL, and they should wash their hands lots and avoid touching around their eyes, and touching each other, but we think for the most part it fell on deaf ears.  The language barrier probably owed a lot to this, but we did try.

So I was in paradise but looked a state.  I went to sleep scared that in the morning I wouldn’t be able to open my eyes at all.  But to the good Doctors credit the pills did actually work and I made a full recovery.  What took me longer to recover from was his tedious lecture on the Blackburn housing marking, but as he made my eyes better I’ll let him off.

So the moral of this story, take unmarked white pills?  Trust people who know about the Blackburn housing market?  To be honest I’m not sure, maybe I should have more faith foreign medical services, they obviously do a very good job and had me patched up in no time.   Either way,  I just thought it was an interesting tale to tell.  No one wants to get ill on the road but there’s no guarantees that you’ll stay 100% healthy. But, to help you out, here are just a few things that you can do to give yourself a better chance at staying fitting fit …

  1. Wash your hands regularly, especially when coming into contact with kids and questionable toilet facilities.
  2. Check your water source, stick to bottled water if unsure if the tap water is safe.  That goes for ice too, avoid having ice in your drinks if you’re unsure of its source.
  3. If you have meds to take such as Malaria tablets, establish a routine for taking them.  Don’t slip and lose the habit.  You paid for them, take them!
  4. Carry things such as plasters, it sounds lame, but don’t let that tiny scratch get all pussy and infected.
  5. Brush you teeth, this sounds sill in some sense, but I along with a lot of people I met on the road all had some gum issues by the time we’d finished our travels because we’d so rarely brushed our teeth.  Naughty!
  6. Make sure you have all the recommended jabs for the area’s you are visiting.  I hate needles, but your jabs are a must!
  7. Don’t hop into bed without wrapping your tool.  If you have to get tested, clinic’s like to give you your results in person so you may have to stay somewhere longer than planned just to find out that your night(s) of pleasure mean you’ll be on meds for the next couple of days.

If you’re going to settle down in any area for any length of time, it may pay to look up medical facilities in advance.

You can find more from Neil over on his fabulous blog, Backpacks and Bunkbeds, on Twitter @packsandbunks and Facebook.

Has anyone else ever had conjunctivitis while travelling and have an equally sticky story to tell?

 

This week’s questions to the backpackers come from Renata Wiles, an Australian politics graduate looking to come to the UK to work and travel. Her questions are all work related so if you’re thinking of working abroad, read on for some top tips and advice. You can find more from Renata on Twitter: @roamingrenata

What kind of jobs have you guys/girls been able to get while travelling, and were you able to get short term work (i.e. just 3 or 4 months)?

Monica – I’ve had a few. I started off working for a hospitality company in Sydney where I was basically a waitress for posh parties. I then worked for a company that did magazine subscriptions over the phone. I then worked in a coffee shop in Melbourne. I then worked on an island off the west coast of Australia. My title was ‘general island hand’ which meant I did everything from taking people fishing or scuba diving, driving people on tours around the island, cleaning, bar work or even making sandwiches. After that I worked for a courier company as an assistant manager. I organised the drivers and made sure everything was delivered on time. After that I worked as a copywriter writing content for newspapers and websites that included Compare the Market or even Fosters.com. I did this while I was travelling through Asia  and as you can see, if you’re in the right place at the right time, you can literally do anything!

Beverley – I’ve worked in Event Sales in Sydney, as a Barista/Sandwich hand at a cafe in Melbourne and as a Grape Picker when I did my farm work to get my 2nd Year Visa in Australia.  I’ve found that generally companies will hire you on a short term basis and then extend that if they like you and you’re doing a good job!

Dan – I managed to get a job as the SEO manager for some pretty big firms on the Gold Coast in Australia. They were cool enough with me to let me leave as and when I liked but I got to work at home when I needed too. Also tried my hand at working on a farm before I had to come home. I’d say be up front with the people if they are taking you on and tell them you only need something short term… most of the time this is a benefit to the company as it means they don’t have to pay you a full years worth of wages etc.

Gemma – Mine have all involved teaching or tutoring from two weeks up to two years. My year in France was organised by the British Council but other jobs were a result of applying to language schools or adverts in each country.

Chris – I’ve been going with the fun options! I Oz I turned down  job as a photographer on the Whitsundays in favour for working for Aquarius Hostel in Byron Bay and as the party bus driver for the infamous Cheeky Monkeys Club! Working for accommodation was the best decision I’ve ever made – you don’t necessarily have to make money, it’s more about saving it, and if you pick your hostel wisely you can get some great kick backs like cheap booze and free meals! Lately though I’ve opted to live the dream and work as a surf instructor in Ecuador!

 

Do any of you have degrees and do you think it helped you get jobs? (/if you don’t have a degree do you think it made it harder?)

Monica – I have a degree in English Language and Literature and this probably did help. Obviously I didn’t need it to serve cocktails but people are a bit more likely to spend a few extra seconds reading your CV when they see you have a degree.

Beverley – I have a degree in Media and Marketing and, although I don’t think it’s essential to have a degree to find a job, I agree with Monica; it definitely makes your C.V stand out against a bunch of others applying for the same job.

That being said, I wouldn’t worry if you don’t have a degree and it’s not essential!

Dan – No degree… no problem! I say that because the type of work I do you can’t really get a degree in. Most of my friends here in the UK have degrees and are now working in Supermarkets. I personally don’t feel degrees are necessary in this day for mid-level jobs. I don’t have one and I’m doing just fine.

Gemma – My degree is in French. Pretty obviously it helped me get a job in France but doesn’t help for much else… for the kind of jobs you might go for while away I doubt a degree is that useful; it’s probably more about your personality.

Chris – Unless you have a specific career path in mind whilst travelling I’d say you don’t have to worry…you’re a backpacker and you can’t really be too choosey about what work you take!

 

How do you find a job while your traveling? Do you ever try and get a job arranged before you arrive or do you just rock up and try find one once you are there? And if you are only planning on staying a few months are you up front about that when you get the job?

Monica – I found my jobs through websites like seek.com. Some of them were specifically backpacker jobs so they were aware I’d only be there for a few months. If it seems like a full time position I’d say that I planned to stay for 6 months and if I really enjoyed it there is a chance I’d stay longer. I did try to get jobs arranged before I arrived in Australia but it didn’t work. People would phone me and ask me to go for interviews or ask for my address and without this kind of information it’s unlikely your application will go any further. I’d definitely wait until you’re settled in a country before applying.

Beverley – I also tried to arrange jobs before I arrived in Australia but it was just impossible but I managed to find something within two weeks of being there.  I’d always advise giving the companies you apply for jobs with a follow-up call so that you stand out and they remember you.

Dan – I found my job in Oz after I arrived. I googled for companies in the area, sent them an email asking if they had work for me and then had a few interviews. I was upfront about being a traveller and they were fine about it.

Gemma – I always found asking staff in hostels a good way to find jobs – they recommended local recruitment agencies or companies that were employing at that time.

Chris – I agree with the others, you can try and prepare but you’ll probably end up winging it. Although on this trip I managed to sort my job, accommodation and such like before flying out which took a lot of stress off my shoulders! Never hurst to try and be as

 

If you are on a working holiday visa and decide you want to stay longer is it hard to get it extended?

Monica – I’m not sure about when you’re working in the UK but I know a lot of people who have done it. Australia has a different system where you have to work somewhere rural for 3 months. Lots of people think you have to work on a farm but I got my 2nd year visa through working on the island.

Dan – I’m with Monica on this one… not too sure about the UK but I did live with a girl who said she got her visa extended very easily while working here.

 

Have you worked in a country where you don’t speak the language?

 Monica – No. Only as a copywriter and the company I worked for was based in the UK.

Beverley – No not yet, but I’m definitely hoping to!  If you’re looking at doing this you can always look at doing a TEFL course to break you into the language.

Gemma – When I first went to France I could speak it a bit but realised I was nowhere near the level I should be. I soon picked it up & was pretty much fluent by the time I left. If you do want  to learn a language, throw yourself in at the deep end, get a job (i.e. one that doesn’t require you to speak it that well) and you’ll pick it up in next to no time!

Chris – Yup! But I’ve stuck to a place where its very much a backpacker hotspot so I can get along ok. The Spanish School I’m working for gives me free lessons too…but I’m picking more up by just mingling with the locals – which basically translates as I can ask for beer, flirt and talk about surf!

Kirsty – Yes! We’re living in Thailand at the moment. I’ve learnt a little bit of Thai but I really really struggle with the tones! It’s really easy to live here though, most people speak a little bit of English and sign language is a great help!

 

I’ve heard that with a degree you can often get jobs teaching English, even if you have no teaching experience. Have any of you done this and if so, how did you find it? Would you recommend doing some kind of TEFL course to do this?

Gemma – For most countries (particularly those in Asia) you’ll need a TEFL and if you’ve the time it’s definitely advisable to get it. There are however some places e.g. in China and South Korea where the demand for learning English is so great you can teach without one- as a native English speak they’ll snap you up!

Chris – I’m currently working through an online TEFL course. I don’t really have any plans to teach but I figured it would be a good string to my bow so to speak and it might come in handy down the line. I know in the UK though you can do a one year bolt on course to any degree and use it to teach.

Kirsty – you don’t need either a TEFL or a degree but you it will definitely help. Without a degree in Thailand you cannot get a work permit which means you will have to work here illegally and do visa runs every 3/6 months. Without a TEFL means that anyone with a TEFL would be picked over you. Plus a TEFL really does help to prepare you to teach, especially ones with a few classroom hours!

 

If you’re just staying/working in a country for a short time (i.e. 3 or 4 months) what do you do for accommodation?

Monica – Usually houseshares or the type of hostels where people stay for a long time. You’ll find these on Gumtree or HouseShare.com.

Beverley – Houseshares are definitely cheaper than hostels or renting an entire apartment by yourself and you’ll also get to meet new people at the same time!

Dan – I agree with the others; houseshares are the best choice. There was a company in New Zealand I was in talks with who tried to arrange something for me before I got out there.

Gemma – Definitely agree with the above- a houseshare is the only way to go.
Chris – Nah get yourself into a hostel – it will cost more but it’s heaps more fun and you’ll meet tons of backpackers! If you can’t afford to pay for it you can always ask around and work for your bed – couple hours a day cleaning in exchange for a place to kip….the perfect trade off!

 

If you can answer any of Renata’s questions or you have any you’d like to ask us, just let us know in the comments below.

This week’s #FriFoto theme is ‘wild’ so we’ve put together some of our favourite wild photos from around the world.

A Komodo Dragon on Rinca Island in Indonesia - Monica
Monkeys Thailand
The Monkey that stole my water in Thailand - Dan
New York in 'wild' weather - Gemma
New York in 'wild' weather - Gemma
Wild Joey
Wild Joey resting in its Mums pouch, Australia - Dan
Wild Lioness
Getting close to a Lioness - Dan
Wild gallah
Wild Galah in Australia - Dan
Storm Australia
Wild weather I caught on camera in Australia - Dan
Wild weather Vietnam
Wild weather in Vietnam - Monica
abakedcreation

For any of the non-Brits among us, Pancake Day is another of our weird and wonderful traditions that basically involves being able to gorge ourselves on tasty treats. But if you think there’s nothing more to the day than just flipping a few pancakes, you can think again.

This brilliant day, also known as Shrove Tuesday, is always the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of lent. And lent is that weird time of year when Christians (or people who need a good excuse for a diet) give up something they love (think all your favourite things like biscuits, sweets, chocolate and crisps) during the run-up to Easter. This symbolises deprivation and sacrifice and is meant to make us sympathise with Jesus – although I’m not really sure how giving up Ben & Jerry’s for a month can make anyone feel a bit more holy but that’s a completely different topic.

Before lent, people would use up everything in their cupboards and get rid of any tempting treats and what better way to do this that with a good old pancake.

Making the perfect pancake

I’m going to make this simple for you:

The ingredients

100g of plain flour

2 large eggs

300ml of milk

1 tbsp of oil

A pinch of salt

What to do:

  • Whisk all your ingredients together, preferably with a hand held whisk, put a nob of butter in your frying pan and wait until it’s really hot.
  • Ladle a spoon full of the batter in your pan and swirl it around really quickly so it forms a nice thin layer across the pan.
  • After about 2-3 mins give it a flip and hey presto, you have yourself a pancake. Simples.

 There are a couple of rules for making the perfect pancake:

  • You must make your own batter and you can’t get that stuff from a packet – that’s just cheating.
  • Your frying pan needs to be super duper hot.
  • The first pancake you make will look like crap and you’ll probably feed it to your dog but don’t worry, they get better.
  • The best pancakes are fried in butter.
  • Don’t flip your pancake until it comes away from the pan really easily.
  • There are recipes out there on how to make ‘healthy pancakes’ – ignore them all. Make the most out of Pancake Day and make every one as buttery and sweet as you can.
  • No matter how much ice cream and melted chocolate you have, you can’t beat the traditional lemon juice and sugar pancakes.
juanelos

And now all you need to decide on is the topping, so tell us, what’s your favourite pancake topping?

If you’re fed up of Valentine’s Day and don’t fancy smooching all over your candle lit dinner and cooing sopping nothings into the ear of your sweetheart then why not try some of these restaurants where romance will be the last thing on your mind.

Cannibalistic Sushi, Japan

Sushi isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and cannibalism is pretty much illegal so this restaurant is sure to create a bit of controversy.  You’ll find an open ‘body’ on each table so grab your chopsticks and dig out some sushi.

Modern Toilet, China

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been with your loved one, the sight of them sat on the crapper has to be the biggest turn-off imaginable and that’s exactly what you’ll see during your meal at Modern Toilet. These guys have got rid of good old fashioned chairs and replaced them with toilets. Why? We have no idea; we just hope they aren’t plumbed in.

Buns and Guns, Lebanon

This military themed restaurant with the slogan ‘Sandwiches Can Kill You’ is likely to kill the passion as well as any edible looking animal in sight. Try the Mortar Burger or the M16 Carbine Meat Sandwich.  Veggies shouldn’t be put off by the hung-go mentality; The Terrorist is a tasty vegetarian option.

Penis Restaurant, China

Guo Li Zhuang serves every type of penis imaginable and will either be your worst nightmare and put you off penis for life or, you never know, it may awaken your inner pervert and you might love eating a bit of donkey dick.

Cabbages and Condoms, Thailand

Nothing says romance like a handful of free condoms which is exactly what you get when you leave this safe sex restaurant. Designed to promote safe sex with the reassuring slogan, ‘Our food is guaranteed not to cause pregnancy’.

The Grave Yard Restaurant, India

No one likes sitting next to a dead body while they eat their dinner but unfortunately that’s part of the deal at this Indian restaurant. The graves are thought to bring good luck and plenty of customers for the owners. How romantic.

 Has anyone been to any of these restaurants of know anyone know of any other unromantic places?

‘An empty backpack!? Are you crazy?’ I can hear you all crying this already. You’d be mad to leave without anything…right?

There are literally hundreds of websites and blogs out there offering advice on what to pack for your round-the-world trip but I have to disagree with every single one. You don’t need X-amount of pyjamas, a guide book to every single town in the world or a specialised waterproof coat that doubles up as a canoe, a Swiss army knife and a tent.

All you really need is your passport, the clothes on your back, a camera, your toothbrush and a debit card. Simples.

Still don’t believe me…? Here’s why I’ll be leaving home with an empty backpack on my next big trip:

My Top 10 reasons for leaving home with an empty backpack

1. There is no danger of over packing – possibly the biggest mistake that every backpacker makes.

2. You will have loads of fun exploring the markets, haggling for a bargain and picking up some unique clothes so much more fun than a regular trip to H&M.

3. You will honestly be able to pick up everything you need on the road – including a backpack if you decide to go all out and leave with nothing.

4. You will be able to confuse the hell out of the airport staff as you check in an empty bag.

5. You won’t need to lug around a load of stuff you will never need or won’t need for 6 months.

6. You may think you’re going to the Arse End of Nowhere but I can guarantee that even the Arse End of Nowhere has shops and they will be cheaper than at home.

7. What you wear at home won’t necessarily be what you’ll wear while travelling. The latest London fashions look completely out of place in Asia and you’ll want to be in baggy pants and a T-shirt displaying the local beer.

8. There is an amazing sense of freedom when you have barely any luggage and nothing to weigh you down.

9. It isn’t until you’ve travelled with nothing that you realise how little you need in life. This can really be a life changing experience.

10. You’ll have loads of space in your empty bag for gifts, souvenirs and all the great stuff you are bound to pick up along the way!

What do you think about leaving home with an empty backpack? Is there anything you couldn’t leave without?