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.

Florence is a beautiful Italian city home to Renaissance architecture, monuments and statues, galleries displaying priceless pieces of art, and informative museums documenting Italian history. There are countless places to eat and drink and sample a vino or two and you can always find a place to stay no matter what your budget is. The centre of the city is a concentration of all these attractions, of which there are enough to send your head spinning! We’ve narrowed it down for you, and have compiled a list of the five best things to do in Firenze.

The Duomo

This emerald cathedral dominates the centre of Florence and draws crowds like a magnet into Piazza Del Duomo. The cathedral, officially named ‘Basilica di Santa Maria Del Fiore’, took 140 years to build and was finally completed in 1436. The grandeur of the cathedral is more impressive from the outside as it gleams shades of pink, green and white across a marble façade. The cathedral comprises of varying features that include the baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile (bell tower). The most exciting aspect of a visit to cathedral is scaling the Duomo’s cupola. The dome is a significant feat of 15th-century engineering, and can be accessed via a climb of 463 steps. The ascent allows you to get up close to various frescoes painted inside the dome, including The Last Judgement, as well as inviting you to absorb the mesmerising stained-glass roundels. The reward for your staggering, limb-aching climb is magnificent views of Florence that spread across the orange-tiled roofs towards green Tuscan hills.


Piazza Della Signoria

This is Florence’s most famous square and has played the role of the heart and centre of the city’s political life since the 14th century. The square lies in front of the city hall, known as the Palazzo Vecchio. The square itself is L-shaped and is surrounded by impressive 14th-century architecture, including the arch-filled Loggia della Signoria and the Uffizi Gallery. The main attraction however is the Palazzo Vecchio which boasts a copy of Michelangelo’s David on its doorstep. The square has provided a meeting place for Florentines and tourists for many years and is home to numerous cafes, bars and restaurants.

View of Florence, Italy


Ponte Vecchio

Italian cities seem to be overwhelmed with famous bridges. However, surely none out-class Florence’s most iconic bridge, the Ponte Vecchio. The medieval bridge spans the narrowest point of the Arno River. The bridge is famous for the shops built into it. These were originally occupied by butchers, however today the bridge is mainly clad with jewellery stores, art dealers and tacky souvenir sellers. During World War II the Germans destroyed every bridge in Florence apart from the Ponte Vecchio which was left unscathed. This was apparently due to a direct order from Hitler who was thought to admire the bridge so much he refused its destruction.


Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery is one of the oldest and most famous art museums in the Western world. It is home to artistic works from the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli and Raphael. Construction of the gallery began in 1560 and ended in 1581. The internal courtyard within the gallery is often recognised as the first regularised streetscape of Europe. The gallery is one of the most popular attractions in Florence, and tourists often find themselves queuing for up to five hours to gain access during the high season. It is advisable to buy tickets in advance.


Boboli Gardens

The Boboli Gardens is a fine park located across the Arno River and is home to various 16th-18th century sculptures. The gardens can be found behind the Pitti Palace which was once the main seat of the House of Medici, from who the Renaissance was born. The elaborate and formal design provides a fantastic insight into how the rich Florentines would spend their afternoons, strolling amongst fine sculptures and bubbling fountains. Boboli Gardens is a fantastic place to relax and take a break from the sun whilst enjoying great views back over the centre of the city.

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.

TeideTenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands and is much-visited for its beautiful beaches and lively nightlife. But by putting the beach lifestyle aside, you can discover an island offering incredible national parks, such as Teide National Park which boasts the highest mountain in Spain.

So swap your swimming gear for hiking boots and discover some of Tenerife’s lush forest, exotic fauna and spectacular landscape. Here’s the low down on some of Tenerife’s best national parks.


Teide National Park

The national park encircles 3718 metre Mount Teide, which is the largest mountain in Spain. From its base, Mount Teide is the third largest volcano in the world. The national park in itself is the largest in Spain and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. The nutrient rich soil in the park supports a diverse number of plant species with dozens endemic to Tenerife.

The park is all about hiking and enjoying its breathtaking views. You can reach the highest point of the volcano by cable car where you can walk around and admire the scenery. If you gain special permission from the park’s office you can even reach the volcano’s mouth, or alternatively you can take a guided tour up the volcano.

There is an expansive network of trails that stretch across the park, allowing you to experience the national park’s diversity on foot. There is even a challenging path to the peak of Teide that begins at the base of Montana Blanca and climbs from 2100 metres to 3270 metres to the Altavista Refuge. Make sure you’ve had your morning Weetabix before attempting this one!


Garajonay National   Park

Located on the island of La Gomera, Garajonay National Park is a key example of humid subtropical forest. The most humid and protected valleys of the park are located in the North and have the richest and most complex forests. Valley Laurisilva is a true subtropical rainforest where large laurel trees can be found. The park is also famous for the massive rocks found along the island which are former volcanoes.

The park is crossed by a large network of footpaths that makes trekking one of the islands main tourist activities. You can also visit the park by taking a day trip from Tenerife’s Los Cristianos area.


Caldera de Taburiente


Caldera de Taburiente National Park

Caldera de Taburiente National park is situated on the island of La Palma and is home to the enormous expanse of the Caldera de Taburiente. The caldera was once thought to be a giant crater but it has since been established that it is in fact the remains of a mountain that collapsed in on itself.

The caldera is about 10km across and in certain places the caldera walls reach as high as 2000 metres above the caldera floor.

Most visitors come for the extraordinary scenery formed by the crater and to absorb the quiet and peaceful environment in the park. There are a number of hiking trails of varying difficulty and length, with walking boots an absolute must. For more extreme and serious mountain hikes it is recommended that you hire a guide.


People head to Thailand for a number of reasons – its cheap to get to, it’s easy to travel around and there’s a lot of culture to be had if you travel to the right places.

With its boom in backpacking unfortunately the land of a thousand of smiles has been slightly tarnished (I won’t go off on a rant about this – I’ll leave this to other bloggers who seem to get in a slight rage about things they can’t change and would rather sit in the past when “things were better”!).

The gorgeous white sand beaches can still be enjoyed though, you just have to look a little bit further afield for the slice of paradise you seek so much. That’s one of the joys of travel – if you want to find that idyllic place you have to discover somewhere new.

A well worn path will never look as good as it did the first trip around. 

Whatever your reasons for venturing in the hub of Asia there’s a variety of events year round, you simply have to pick your poison.

So here’s two of my favourite, sitting at very opposite sides of the travel scale…


Full Moon

full moon thailand
Full Moon – Bucket Fuelled Chaos!

If you’re coming to Thailand to let off steam, get messed up and make some bad decisions then the now iconic Full Moon Party is surely on your to do list.

Situated on the island of Koh Phangan (the east coast of Thailand) on the once tranquil beach of Haad Rin it has now become the poster event for how bac

kpacking can completely transform a place for all the wrong reasons.

Each full moon around 30,000 backpackers swarm to the beaches which are now littered with fire dancers, bucket sellers, illicit substances and more genres of music than you can shake your UV glow sticks at.

It’s the epitome of beach party madness!

…and no matter what your view on these type of events it’s something that has to be ticked off the travel bucket list.

It’s glorious, unadulterated chaos!

Make sure you pre book your accommodation (it sells out heaps fast, especially the summer months and the Haad Rin based hostels), prepare yourself (I put together this handy guide to surviving full moon), be safe and enjoy!

Lets face it – every backpacker needs to let off some steam every now and then!


Loi Kratong

On the very far and opposite side of the scale of Thai events is the traditional calendar filler of Loi Kratong.

It’s pretty much as far away from the backpacker created mayhem of Full Moon as you could wish to be and is perfect for the culture vulture traveller.

The event lies in mid November and celebrates the Thai goddess of water – locals and traveller alike fill the water ways of the country with floating lanterns.

Flickering flames, reflections in water, starry skies, people from all over the world coming together?! What could sum up the true spirit of travel more than something as picture perfect and romanticized as that?!

Personally I’d head up north to Chang Mai for the event – where thousands of people send flying lanterns into the air simultaneously, which is said to rid you of your troubles.

And seeing those flames float into distant skies certainly does have that affect.

…just make sure you take the time out to photograph the whole thing too as it’s a spectacle you’ll want to capture for your desktop wallpaper for sure!


Full moon and Loi Kratong – very same same but different. The perfect examples of good travel vs bad travel, the old and the new, the educated and the inebriated. 

..but both heaps good fun to slot into your Thailand travel itinerary!


What’s your favourite Thai event of the year? Any unusual things you’ve stumbled upon or recommend to backpackers heading that way?

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

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.




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.

Chiang Mai is a fabulous city, crammed with trips, sites and experiences.

elephant trainer chang mai thailand
Feeding ‘Nu’

You can stay for over two weeks and still manage to be busy every day. My favourite adventure during my time in Chiang Mai had to be the day where I learnt to be a Mahout.

Chang does mean Elephant after all, so it had to be done!

To be honest, I’m not a huge animal lover.
I literally feel sick when people kiss their dogs and think it’s utterly ridiculous when they dress pets up in silly outfits. Most animals smell bad and make me sneeze!
But, I do love Elephants.
They are such friendly giants, and so clever. I never knew how smart these creatures were until I spent the day with them. It breaks my heart when you see them being poorly treated (which is the case in most parts of Thailand) and it upsets me that some tourists can be so naive to it all, supporting it by visiting these types of places. (Elephant rides with baskets and attractions like Tiger Kingdom, but that’s another story!)
elephant trainer chang mai thailand
Just a Quick Shower!
We wanted to visit an Eco friendly Elephant home. After a tonne of research and recommendations we decided to go to the ‘Thai Elephant Home’. It claimed to rescue Elephants from cruel backgrounds, so I was certainly up for backing that.
The training day starts by learning the basic Mahout commands. You need to be able to get on and steer your Ellie! Then the fun begins, you get to choose you’re very own Elephant for the day.
I obviously ran to the smallest and most adorable. (Just like me, right?!)
Her name was ‘Nu’ and she was 5.
You ride your Ellie bare back, the feeling is pretty daunting at first, you feel so unstable, like you’re going to fall right off. Once you get used to balancing your body weight you are all set.
Now it’s your time to shine, trekking through the lush green jungle on your Elephant, steering her by talking your commands. You’re pretty much a pro now, listening to the relaxing sound of nature while you’re Ellie is taking you uphill to witness the beautiful views the jungle has to offer.
elephant trainer chang mai thailand
Here We Go…!

In between you’re walks you spend time with your Elephant, feeding her, getting messy in the mud bath and splashing around in the river. This is when her character really shows.

Getting to know you’re Elephant is great fun, you feel like you’re really bonding with them. ‘Nu’ was just like any other child, she loved to wonder off, eat everything in site and make a mess. She enjoyed getting us all soaked and completely submerging herself in the river! (She was not as worried as me about getting pink eye, that’s for sure!)
You can tell that the Elephants at this home are happy and treated well. They have a little sparkle in their eyes. If you have ever wanted to spend time with these majestic creatures then I would recommend this trip.
I don’t think a visit to Thailand would be complete without meeting the Ellie’s.
Plus, after this experience you’re pretty much Tarzan. Who knows what else you’re capable of!

Once considered a medium-sized Spanish City, Valencia has undergone a massive transformation in the last 10 years. The creation of the ‘City of Arts and Science’ is one statement that underlines the nature of the place, especially as it comes from that of renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. It is fair to say, that Valencia has now become iconic for its beautiful architecture and cultural importance, this is highlighted from its reputation lying with its inner city buildings rather than its beautiful beach sitting right next to it.


Thinking of going this summer? Well it’s heaps easy to find places to stay in Valencia – but be sure to take your sun cream – at this point of the year Valencia begins to knock up temperatures of 30-40 degrees, and with the vastly built up area, there is not much of a breeze to settle the heat. Bare this in mind when going out, think about trying to get things done in the morning – the weather can play with you at times.


In terms of travel, you’re best off just using public transport because there is so much of it in and around the city. Valencia offers both the Bonobus and Bonometro, an option that is best for value for money. Wherever you need to get to, there will be a bus for it, so you won’t be short in wasting time trying to get to places. In the hustle and bustle of the city, it can get very humid on buses with the crowds, so be sure to take plenty of rests at cafes around the city. Preferably, just walking can cover much of the city, but it can become tiring in the heat.


The City of Arts and Sciences is somewhere you cannot ignore, the centre has 5 buildings, offering something for everyone from opera to the IMAX. Check out the Science museum, a completely 21st century experience that offers interactivity with almost all of its contributions to science and technology. Just a short walk and you’re at the Agora, a huge sporting complex that has been home to some worldwide events, including the Valencia Open Tennis tournament. This really is a place to visit throughout the day, its modern facilities provide you with an enjoyable day out to both learn and have a bit of fun! Once more, the centre is never overcrowded, so you are able to walk around and not feel pressured to move on.


If its photography and culture you’re after, then I highly recommend the North Station. Take your time, sit back and take in some of the breathtaking architecture from creator Demetrio Ribes. The building has it all, using a range of wood, glass, marble, metal and ceramics to produce a stunning view of old and new. Be sure to take your camera with you, the building offers some great photography with the glimmer of the sun bouncing off the colourful glass. A short trip, but one certainly worth taking!


If you’re fancying something a little bit different though, check out the Oceanografic, a stunning aquarium that holds a range of different buildings with so much to do. The building features underground tunnels, where you are able to quite literally walk with the whales! The crystal clear waters and state of the art facilities ensure you will never have a disappointing trip! So, instead of taking your chances with a dolphin boat trip, pop to the Oceanografic to get up close and personal with sharks! There are a few cafes on sight so there is food available, all you really need is your camera to get some snaps you won’t get anywhere else!


Valencia is a beautiful place to be, but don’t let the hot temperatures and stuffy city travelling stop you from enjoying the city.


Okay, so we have all seen crazy YouTube videos of how super fun tubing was back in the day… Before most bars were shut down, zip lines were removed and all the slides and other fun (but slightly deathy) things we could jump off were banned.
But what is tubing like now?
Is it still worth going to Vang Vieng to ‘get in the tubing’?
Well I am currently right here in the tubing capital of Vang Vieng, and I have recently experience tubing as it stands in 2013.
Unfortunately I never got a chance to visit before now, so I guess I can’t compare it as accurately as some of you guys who got involved in the craziness of the past years, but I can tell you about my time in that small, slightly off coloured, rubber ring on the river.
tubing in vang vieng
A Much Quieter River Now…

My first thoughts once getting allocate my tube and walking down to the river was that it was quiet.

Almost ‘dead’.
It was just the four of us, with another small group of backpackers in their rings in the distance however it is low season here at the moment, so I wasn’t too surprised, but I couldn’t stop daydreaming about what the atmosphere would have been like in the peak of it all (you can check out Chris’s tubing experience from 2012 here).
We started floating down stream, looking onto the bank you see burnt out bars and knocked down walls, it’s quite sad really. The ride itself was relaxing though! The gentle sound of the water flowing and the beautiful mountainous scenery around us. That was until we started to float in to the bushes at the side of the river, when we finally emerged out of the greenery we were greeted by several, huge spiders sitting on our legs and stomach.
It was terrifying, it’s safe to say I ruined the peaceful ambiance by screaming and trying to flick them off my body!
Once this horrendous ordeal was over, we were met by our first bar. It was about time!
backpacker tubing vang vieng laos
Party Bars…With Much Less Party!

The bar itself was great fun, a great mix of people and activities going on. I headed straight for the sunbathing area, but there was also games of volleyball and basketball. Now this is what I expected tubing to be like, only it was still much calmer than what I’ve heard it was like before.

There was a small party vibe at this bar, with games of flip cup and beer pong, but still nothing to write home about. It was busy, probably because there are now only about three bars on the river. We didn’t stop again after this, the other bars we came across were empty , so we just finished the tubing route on the river.
The rapids were exciting, being thrown around made it that little bit more ‘crazy’ I suppose.
During our day tubing I only had a couple of drinks, just because I felt like the party atmosphere wasn’t very strong. The time we spent on the river, and even at the bar, had a very chilled out vibe to it. I would definitely say that tubing was different to how I imagined it, I wouldn’t say it was a let down, but I think if you go tubing now, you need to think of it as more a relaxing experience rather than a day to get wasted and jump off stuff.
People still need to visit Vang Vieng and experience the town and what it has to offer, but go tubing with an open mind, as it has changed.
For the better or worse? You decide.

As our inhouse Aussie Oceana is well placed for any advice you might need when heading down under (no innuendo intended!) and she’s done her fair share of travelling around her home country as well as abroad.

So we asked her to share he personal Top 5 Aussie Stop Offs to help you out with planning a trip to Australia..


1) Cairns

What’s not to love about Cairns? This tiny Australian town is a backpacker haven, and heaven! It’s packed to the brim with awesome hostels and backpacker bars with all the cheapest drink deals. Everything is super close making the vibe of Cairns is 100% backpacker friendly.  Cairns is not a town where the working holiday travelers come looking for work, so it’s full of people who have money and are looking for a party. This means that every night there’s something going on, a willing group of people looking for an adventure and a whole lot of madness just waiting to happen.

syndey backpacker top australia
Sydney – Totally Worth The Hype!


2) Sydney

Ah Sydney, the crown of Australia. Not the capital city but close enough as far as most backpackers are concerned. This is the place most people start, and it’s also often where they finish. Good news for Sydney’s vibe because the working holiday types are totally evened out by those looking to make a good start, and those heading out of Australia with a bang. The city has a whole lot of great hostels, some wicked backpacker bars and enough entertainment to keep anyone going. As big cities go, Sydney is a pretty great place all over, with sunny days, great beaches and lots of opportunities to soak up the Australian lifestyle.

darwin markets australia
Darwin Street Markets


3) Darwin

Australia’s northern most capital city, Darwin certainly doesn’t look like much compared to Sydney. It’s not a massive backpacker town all year, although in the Dry Season (May-October) they do flood in looking for work. But there’s something about Darwin that really sets is apart. Closer to Asia than to most southern Australian cities (Timor is less than 1 hour flight) it has a uniquely tropical Asian atmosphere that’s unrivaled. Equal parts great Australian outback, and tropical northern gem Darwin boasts Asian markets, beautiful beaches and fantastic weather (as long as you like it hot!).


4) Byron Bay

Now, there’s probably not a backpacker out on the Australian (and perhaps international circuit) who doesn’t know about Byron Bay. Hardly the tiny hippy hub that once made it famous, Byron Bay is still a great place to be. Surfing hub and alternative cultural vibes abound, Byron also has an awesome hostel scene and some unbelievable backpacker bars that just must be visited. The surrounding area is flawless, and although it’s sometimes better in the off-peak season, peak definitely guarantees lots of crazy people to keep the party pumping all night long!

melbourne street art
Melbourne Street Art


5) Melbourne

Australia’s culture capital? Well, I’m not going to start any wars here, but there is definitely a lot to see and do in Melbourne. Melbourne definitely holds the upper hand when it comes to street art with almost every available public wall canvassed with graffiti creations. The same could probably be said for the competitive coffee war, easily the best in coffee in Australia and at some of the cheapest prices. Melbourne is full of great entertainment venues and things to see, some more expensive than others. But even without the dollars, the backpacker scene is very much alive, and everyone knows where to go for the cheapest bars, and the free gigs. They might lead you down winding alleys to hole-in-the-wall bars, but that’s what makes Melbourne magical.


What would be your Top 5 Aussie Spots? Care to share them and why?!


They say good things come in small packages, and those seeking for the proof to support the claim need look no further than the lovely Mediterranean island of Menorca. Far smaller and less developed than its Balearic sibling Majorca, this Spanish island is one of Europe’s real hidden gems.

So why come here with the bigger Balearic island lying just across the water? Well for one thing, whilst Majorca may have stolen the crowds, the reputation and Franco’s construction budget in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, Menorca has been left with something far rarer and more valuable: its purity.


Get Back To Nature

Boasting places of extreme natural beauty such as the Parc Natural S’Albufera d’es Grau wetlands and a rich biodiversity notable thanks to the island’s abundance of flowering plants, birds and butterflies, this really is a Mediterranean Eden. Menorca is practically unique in its region in offering the opportunity to discover miles upon miles of secluded, if not deserted beach, which for some travellers represents adequate reason to book a ticket in itself. If you’re looking for sun-kissed bliss in an unspoilt location with a strong tourist infrastructure, you couldn’t do better than look into some of the options available for Menorca holidays.

Menorca has all the wonderful scenery, flora and fauna you could possibly hope to see in any holiday destination, but that’s not all. The island also bursts with an alluring human presence, past and present that really brings its beautiful environment to life.

The locals of this so called ‘Gem of the Balearics’ love nothing more than a good fiesta, making the summer months your optimum period to plan a visit to Minorca. Fiesta season runs (intermittently) from late June until late September – be sure to check dates carefully with your tour operator or a reputable online source before booking. Highlights of the fiesta calendar include the stirring ‘L’ithica’ full moon pageant (August 6-8) and The ‘Festes de Sant Joan’ – watch out for a burly local man carrying a grown sheep through the streets at this one!


A Quiet Drink?!

Menorca is not famous as a party island in the ‘UV foam party/throwing up everywhere’ sense, and to many, that’s exactly where its appeal lies. There’s ample provision however, for a spot of cultured fun-seeking; traditional singing and dancing, and drinking Pomada, a traditional mixture of gin and bitter lemon – phew!

This really is the Mediterranean island destination for grown ups – absolutely not dull in any way as some would like to think us adults are, but mature, tasteful and truly rewarding. People have settled here since prehistoric times as the island’s extant megalithic structures attest, and within its traditions it’s not hard to see a strong link back to the distant, distant past. To experience a taste of how the Menorcans have enjoyed unwinding over the centuries, waste no time in booking yourself a flight and setting out for this vibrant paradise.


When you think of Morocco as a backpacker destination many people instantly think of bustling souks, Marrakech, camel rides and desert Berberes.

And to a large extent that’s what Morocco is about! It’s a country rich in culture, local markets and has a large history of nomadic people of the desert.

But Morocco alos has and amazingly rugged and empty coastline too – which means one thing to a person like me…SURF!


moroccan souks
The Souks – Great For a Haggle and Some Bargains!

Drawing Me Back

I first headed to Morocco back in 2008 with my little bro – with the aim of scoring a heap of warm water waves. And it was an epic success – despite the roughness around the edges we both loved the place!

The surf was perfect, the local cuisine was nothing short of mouth watering, the living was cheap and the weather was a solid 25 degrees+ our entire stay! What more could a travelling surfer ask for?!

In fact I liked it so much I went back a second time after my trip to Oz – and if you’ve seen my travel blog (Backpacker Banter) you’ll know that I just spent 4months working there as a surf coach – what more of a personal recommendation do you need?!


Perfect Winter Escape

Even though the cost of living in Morocco has risen slightly (especially in the surf towns) – it’s still heaps cheaper than it’s European counterparts. Not only that but flights to Morocco can still be had for under £100 return, and Easyjet will even take your surfboard (up to 9foot) for £40 all in…now that’s an epic deal!

For me Morocco is the perfect winter escape for any surfer – as the UK water temps start to plummet (and I wont even get started on the air temperature!) Morocco is considerably warmer, you’ll still need a 3/2 suit over the main part of their winter (Dec-Apr) but you’ll spend your time out of the water basking in glorious sunshine and boardies!

The one things I’d suggest if you do a large surf trip to this part of the world though is to take all the kit you need and a heap of spares too. Things like ding repair kits, wetsuits wax, FCS thruster fins and hire boards can be ridiculously expensive in places like Taghazout, and outside of that area they can be near on impossible to locate…so come stocked up!

The upside of being so prepared also means you can sell some stuff if your cash runs short!


Waves Waves Waves

surf travel morocco
Warm Water And Pumping Waves!

Wave wise Morocco main surf region is around the sleepy town of Taghazout – about an hour north of Agadir and a 3-4hour bus journey down from Marrrakech.

In all my surf travels I’ve never found a place so concentrated with a variety of surf spots that draws in so much swell!

If you base yourself in Taghazout you’ll have a solid amount of spots (I’m talking in the 20’s here!) within a 10min drive of the village, although to be honest you can walk to most of them! They range from easy beginner beach breaks like Croc Beach and Panoramas right through to pumping world class point breaks like Anchor Point and Killers.

You can check out my Moroccan Mini Surf Guide over on my main blog – and this post including some shots of the surf PUMPING will be sure to get your stoke on!

Even if you don’t surf already and want to learn it’s a great place to start – with a whole load of surf camps to choose from – so whether you want simple surf guiding or full on tuition you’re fully covered.

So if you’re looking for some waves, don’t have a crazy big budget to blow on somewhere like Indo then Morocco is the perfect place to bounce – and at only 4 hours flight from Gatwick it’s perfect for a quick week long escape too!

Just make sure you relax with a mint tea post surf for me please – I bloody miss that stuff!

The stunning setting of New Zealand is the perfect place for thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies to get their fix. There are a range of amazing activities for all types of tourists, and the natural ruggedness of the landscape lends itself to some of the most awe-inspiring acts. Here are the 5 most extreme tourist attractions in New Zealand.



If speed and heights are what get your adrenaline pumping, you simply have to try heli-biking. Imagine watching the valley fall away underneath you as you take a helicopter ride over the magnificent scenery of Queenstown. Once at the top, you and your fully-set up downhill mountain bike are offloaded, and you begin the heart racing dash to the bottom down some of the most thrilling downhill tracks in the country.

ice climbing new zealand
Cold, But Beautiful! (I’m talking about the ice not me!)

If this appeals to you, consider checking out heli-skiing as yet another way to combine the thrill of flying with the adrenaline rush of some seriously challenging ski slopes.


Ice Climbing

The famous Fox glacier offers adventurous travellers the opportunity to undertake the trip of a lifetime. Fox Guides will harness you up, teach you the basics of climbing, then allow you to scale the massive vertical sheets of ice. This is an awe-inspiring experience, and the sheer enormity of the glacier is truly a humbling sight.



Exploring the deep, dark underground of New Zealand’s natural caves is the premise for this fascinating tourist attraction. Caving offers a serious adrenaline rush with activities such as ‘black-water’ rafting, abseiling down waterfalls, and climbing through some seriously narrow and twisting tunnels. If you’re even slightly claustrophobic you should probably give caving a miss. However if crawling through small spaces isn’t an issue, you will see some of the most magnificent caves in the world during this unique and exciting experience.



This bizarre trend originated in New Zealand and quickly took the world by storm. Basically thrill seekers climb into a giant inflatable ball, and are pushed down various hills. Naturally, the ball bounces around and picks up considerable speed as it plunges down the hillside. It’s an unusual sensation which isn’t for the faint hearted, or the weak of stomach for that matter!


Bungee Jumping

Last but not least, there is the extreme tourist attraction that New Zealand is the most famous for. Thousands of people queue up every year to jump off bridges and plummet into ravines, dunk themselves into rivers and swing through stunning gorges all in the name of fun. Bungee Jumping and Canyon Swinging are the ultimate adrenaline rush for adventurous tourists.


On The Flip Side…
Everyone needs some down time, so why not consider exploring New Zealand via cruise. You can get your adrenaline pumping by day, then take the evening to relax and socialise in the luxurious surrounds of your cruise liner. Carnival Cruise Lines are famous for their beautifully appointed liners and plenty of opportunities for an action packed itinerary when in port. This is truly the greatest way to experience the best of both worlds and see the natural beauty and magnificence of New Zealand.
Written by Emma Jane

Over in the UK, the Brits love their caravan holidays. Well it turns out that backpacking and caravanning have more in common than you think!


  • We both love extended travel
  • We share a love for the great outdoors
  • We love the freedom to hop from one place to another
  • We both like a bargain when it comes to accommodation
  • I’m pretty sure we all love falling asleep in a bed, some more than we care to admit
  • Not sure we understand the concept of packing lightly!


With so many caravan sites to choose from in the UK, it is sometimes a struggle to pick out your destination to pitch up. I’ve selected some of the best sites in the UK, offering you a range of events to keep you busy on your travels, or if it’s a quiet weekend away is what you fancy, you just need to know where to look! I’ve narrowed it down by featuring a range of different places around the country, so why not get a taste for them all and join the club!

If this will be your first caravan trip and you need help planning it there is a lot caravanning discussion over at! Don’t forget, whether you’re new to caravanning or a seasoned caravanner, you need some kind of caravan insurance, definitely check out the Caravan Club website for this.


Low Wray – Cumbria 

Perfect for gentle-walkers, pop on your hiking boots as you stroll by Wray Castle, with views of the forestry to accompany you. No need to take the car out, off-road biking, walking and water-sports are all on offer in short distance to keep you busy. Good value for money at £8-10 per night.


Bay View Farm – Cornwall

No problem here if the sea is your thing, listen out as you hear the waves crash together. Literally, a five-minute walk separates you from the Cornish coastal path overlooking Looe Bay. Looking at about £10-20 a night.


Cedar Gables – Kent

Very small, yet very quiet – this site sits next to the nearby Bewl Water, perfect for your cycling, walking and in particular a unique fishing experience. Cedar Gables is also a partner with the National Trust, with many properties available to look further into.  £8-20 a night but do budget for electric hook-ups etc.


Vale of Pickering – North Yorkshire 

This site is situated closely to the North Yorkshire Moors, allowing you the chance to see some of the glorious highlands. A superb sight for families, with plenty to do in the town to keep the children entertained. Travel in low season to avoid the rush of people; if you do then you’re looking at £15.50 a night.


Lonely Farm – Suffolk 

A perfect get-away from anyone who is consistently disturbed by the hustle and bustle of work and traffic. This adult-only site highlights the iconic parts of East Anglia. The seaside town of Aldeburgh is very close and boasts the ‘finest fish and chips’ in Britain. £14 a night leaves you with a reasonable budget to go out and treat yourself.


So if you’re looking to explore the UK a little more (something that I highly recommend as it’s dead easy to underestimate the amount of amazing activities and sites on your doorstep!) caravanning is a great way to avoid the crowds, be completely flexible in you plans and explore some of the most beautiful spots the UK has to offer.

And the fact you have your accommodation with you just makes everything that much easier!

It’s not the most famous holiday destination; this island sits next to the Caribbean, and my god, what a way to discover this hidden gem. It’s not known by everyone, which is what makes this place so good. No crowds, no loud tourists, just you, the sea and a handful of new experiences to indevere. This island boasts a glorious turquoise sea, and wherever you are on the island, you’re never too far away from it.

Although this island is in itself, a unique little vacation, there is still so much to do and – even if you’re staying in an all inclusive it’s easy to tempted you out of the hotel!  Head over to Long Bay Beach to experience Kite boarding, something that has really taken off over in the Caribbean – whether your watching or just getting to grips with it, this water sports spectacle is an enthralling adventure. Everywhere you look, people are enjoying it, it doesn’t matter, no one is there to judge.

Take yourself down to Long Bay; it really is hard to imagine the silent shores gently wave in the sand only a few hundred metres away from the surf-goers and dog-walkers, a friendly little place where anyone is welcome.

If the beach lifestyle isn’t your thing, then Turks and Caicos is also home to some unique arts and crafts. Pop over to the Middle Caicos Co-op at Conch Bar, you’ll find over 60 stalls and little shops selling the most precious model sailboats, to the large drift wood furniture, a brilliant experience to check out some of the behind the scenes stuff that goes on all year round. This isn’t like your normal market either, most stallholders will make to order, so your vacation souvenir can be all that more personal when you get home.

A way of seeing just how much this place has to offer is to head down to the waters of Grace Bay. There, if your lucky, you might get a glimpse of Jo Jo the Dolphin – the island’s pride and joy. Spend the day sipping an ice-cold beverage down by the Bay, as young and old share the same experience as you. And don’t worry, if you don’t manage to see Jo Jo during your stay, you’ll be sure to see him on much of the local art, as Jo Jo is seen as an iconic memory of the island.

Grace Bay is also home to a lot of the attractions out on the sea, the bay is crawling with excursions and activities that you turn up and usually book on the day due to it being so quiet. Kite Sailing, ATV Tours, Bone fishing and even a chance to see the natural display on offer by the underwater glowworms. What makes this bay different is there is no stressful booking, it doesn’t take up any of your time, just pop down when you fancy it and they are very helpful.

As well as the mid-twenty temperatures and gentle breeze, Turks and Caicos has more than just the perfect weather conditions. During the night, the bay is lit up with restaurants offering a wide selection of local cuisine. The island will tempt you to try something new, as there are very little English restaurants. However, take it as a good thing and spend the night doing something you wouldn’t normally do. The Lraye cinema has been newly built this year and offers a selection of up and coming films, so if you are a fan of your home comforts, use the night to get back to basics and spend some time with the family or your loved one.


Where do you really start when you get into this huge city? Well, I’ve made it a little bit easier for you, here are some of my top places to visit once you’re touched down in Barcelona. Just two years ago I visited the city for a couple of weeks – I’ve visited all of these places myself – each of them being a unique experience I don’t think you can get anywhere else. Barcelona are famed for their architecture and there is so much more to explore than what I’ve listed, so take your time to check out the other Gaudí building located in Barcelona, but this lot will be sure to get your started…


  1. Casa Battlo: My favourite place to visit, Casa Battlo is home to some of Gaudí’s finest creations. These whacky colours and peculiar shaped buildings are all outside and provide a good shade as you gently walk around the grounds. Very different to any art exhibition you’ve ever been to!
  2. The Magic Fountain: A brilliant spectacle! Stand and stare as water is propelled out of the floor at random points throughout the day. Complete free to come and see and a truly romantic place to visit during the evening, with lights illuminating the venue and music to lighten the mood.
  3. Nou Camp: The Nou Camp is home to Barcelona F.C, possibly the biggest footballing side in the world, famed for their sexy football and world renowned players. The likes of Messi, Henry and Ronaldinho have all graced this hallow turf.
  4. Little Barcelona: A very pretty little place to visit, the sandy beaches and turquoise seas make you forget you’re right next to the hustle and bustle of the city. Many unique jewellery shops and a host of different choices for food in the evening, you will simply have to visit twice! The perfect way to finish the week, with some beautiful food and a view of the seaside as you walk down the lit up promenade.
  5. Las Ramblas: Las Ramblas is a great place to visit for the day to keep you busy. From street dancers to freestyle footballers, this 1.3km street holds hundreds of market stalls and variety performers to keep you entertained. I like to call it Barcelona’s ‘Covent Garden’ with a great number of shops also lining the stretch of road.


With it’s close proximity to the UK, numerous low cost flight options and vacation apartments in Barcelona to suit every budget there’s no reason to escape the cold and get exploring. Next time I’m back in Europe it’s definitely on my hit list…



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?


Yeah I know what you’re thinking;  Australian people speak English, I speak English, you speak English, what more could there be to learn, really?!

Spend just a few days in Australia and it becomes clear that language barriers do exist….you just have to know how to get round them!

It all starts with a visit to the pub, of course., or  hotels as they’re sometimes called in Australia.  You’re ready to order a pint of whatever it is you’re drinking and suddenly notice something rather alarming;

Wait, those aren’t pint glasses!

Pubs in Sydney
Pubs in Sydney - Courtesy of Creative Commons

No, they’re schooner glasses and it’s basically the norm in Australia for a lager or ale to be served in one.  A schooner is 425ml, about 3/4 of a pint.  A friend told me a few weeks ago that beers are served this way as, if you were to sit in the Australian sun with a pint you’d probably get halfway through and find yourself drinking warm beer (never good) but I also sense it’s something to do with the stricter alcohol rules which Australia also has in place.

There are some pubs where you can buy a pint but you can also ask for something called a pot which holds 285ml  – you’ll often find that you’ll get a free pot of beer with a meal in some pubs as a meal deal.

The above applies to Queensland and Victoria but in New South Wales for some reason a pot is called a middie.

In South Australia and pot is a schooner.

In Western Australia a pot measures 575ml which, being slightly more than a pint, is usually just called a pint by all the English people living there.

Confused yet?

Maybe it’s time for a lie down……but not on the duvet.  Nope, in Australia a duvet is called a doona.

Maybe you wanted to drink at your hostel though instead of at the pub?  For this you’d need to go to the Bottle-O or bottle shop, generally an off license where you can buy 24 bottles or cans in a carton called a slab, a few stubbies (small, 375ml bottle of beer) or a tallie (a long-necked bottle of beer.)

Ooooh and don’t forget the goon; yes, it’s a gross cheap wine in a bag but it’s cheaper this way to get blotto, loose or magotted!

At some point you’re going to have to eat though right?

In Australia a pepper is a capsicum and an aubergine is an eggplant.

A courgette is a zucchini and if you want a toasted sandwich you need to ask for a jaffle.

Thai Dish - chicken with capsicum
Chicken with pepper....I mean, pepper!

A chicken is a chook and a lolly is what we’d probably refer to as sweets or candy.

tasty cheese is cheddar cheese and cheddar cheese is that plastic cheese normally reserved for barbeques and kids lunch boxes.

Want a sausage from the barbeque?  Ask for a snag and if you’re having it in between two pieces of bread it’s a sanger.

Many of the food names though are just shortened versions of the original.  If a word can be shortened you can guarantee that it will be in Australia:

Avocados are avos

Brecky is breakfast

Throw another shrimp (read prawn) on the barbie and get a stubbie from the Esky – an esky is an insulated container for food and drinks, usually taken to the beach to keep your beers cold!

That famous Australian dessert, the pavlova?  Call it a pav.

Need to pop to the corner shop?  Here it’s a milk bar.

And there’s no need to waste your breath asking for a cappuccino, that’s far too much effort, just call it a cap!

And these are just a few of the many ‘Australianisms’ I’ve come across!  Can you think of any more?

This week’s #frifotos theme is…..Paradise! 

If you’re not familiar with #frifotos, it’s a weekly theme on twitter where anyone and everyone can tweet or blog about the week’s theme by using the twitter hashtag #frifotos.

We’ve been digging through our travel photos all week so here are our #frifotos of Paradise!

Koh Tao Paradise
My photo of Paradise comes from Koh Tao in Thailand. I just love sunsets on exotic islands - Dan


My idea of paradise is a sunset surf in Australia Byron Bay - Chris


Tulum, Mexico -Gemma
Where I though 'yes, this is paradise'... Tulum, Mexico -Gemma


Blue seas, check. White beach, check. Sunny skies, check. Infinity pool, check- Monica
lookout at Byron Bay
The walk up to Cape Byron Lighthouse in 30 degree heat wasn't anything like paradise, luckily this view of the beach, the ocean and the hills in the background made it all worth it! - Beverley
Diving in Malapascua
This place was paradise, not overly built up and the super clear water made for some great diving - Malapascua Island, Philippines- Poi

The East Coast of Australia, from Melbourne to Sydney (oh and Canberra…..) and finally up to Cape Tribulation in the far North of Queensland, is probably the most popular and most visited part of Australia and with a huge amount of exciting cities and beautiful beaches to explore we can see why.

But how can you travel Australia’s East Coast and see everything it has to offer?

Brisbane at night
Brisbane at night

1. Take a flight

There are two main budget airlines for domestic flights in australia are Jetstar and Virgin Australia (formerly Virgin Blue), both will get you pretty much anywhere on the East Coast, providing you’re not fussy about having to get a bus or taxi from the airport.

How about flying from Sydney or Melbourne to Ballina where, after a 30 minute bus journey you could be exploring Byron Bay or fly from Brisbane to Prosperine where you can sail, dive and snorkel your way around The Whitsunday Islands?

You can easily plan your trip to Gold Coast with Expedia and try your hand (or feet!) at surfing in Surfers Paradise, touch down at Cairns airport to explore the Great Barrier Reef, stick around Sydney to find the perfect balance between beach and city-living and while away your time in Melbourne with coffee and cake in one of its many cafes.

Flying isn’t always the cheapest option but if you’re looking to get somewhere quickly and conveniently then it’s definitely the way to go.

2. Book a bus journey

Greyhound Australia and Oz Experience both have different packages you can use to travel Australia’s entire East Coast in one go or, if you’re planning on working in Australia or just staying longer in places you like, you can opt for a 12 month pass – just use the calculator on their website to work out how many kilometres you’ll need over the year and you’re away!

The great thing about travelling by bus is that it actually stops at the most popular destinations – you can see the entire East Coast by bus easily without the hassle of airport transfers and departure lounges and you’ll easily make friends along the way.  Prepare for a bumpy ride though!

Byron Bay Beach
Byron Bay Beach

3. Hire a Campervan

Ah the traveller’s dream!  Riding around the country in a campervan, getting back to nature, cooking on a camping stove, beers on the beach – perfect.  Thankfully there are a huge amount of companies in Australia who want to make this dream come true, for a price of course.

The most popular choices are Jucy, Wicked Campers and Spaceships but there are smaller companies as well.  This is when your negotiation skills come in handy as your try and play one of against the other in a bid to get the best deal: to be honest, it works!

You can also check to see if there are any relocation deals available too – this means that, usually for something ridiculous like $1/day, you can ‘relocate’ a campervan to a specific depot in a certain amount of time.

Campervanning is the ultimate adventure and ensures that you get to see, stay and do whatever you want in your own time frame.

campervanning in Australia
campervanning in Australia

4. Hitch a Ride Part 1

This one takes a bit of courage but once you’ve stuck your thumb out a few times you’ll get used to it.  Obviously hitchhiking your way up the East Coast isn’t the most conventional way to travel and so you’re going to have to get used to being flexible.  There won’t always be someone driving where you want to go and you’ll have to change plans – it could be the best thing you ever did though; meeting new people and living one day to the next without any plans can be exciting!

Obviously if you’re going to hitchhike it goes without saying that you need to be careful and stay safe especially if you’re travelling alone.  Stay in contact with friends or family via text, keep your wits about you and don’t try and hitch a ride in the dark.

5. Hitch a ride Part 2

Wait, didn’t we already cover this?  Well, no.  Scour the noticeboards in any Australian hostel or even just pop onto Gumtree and you’ll find heaps of people already driving somewhere who want a road trip buddy or are willing to take a passenger, usually just for the cost of petrol money.

Again, this requires a lot more planning and a flexible approach but it’s definitely a fun way to meet people, have an adventure and catch a cheap ride!

How did you travel Australia’s East Coast?

Heaps of backpackers travel through Vietnam each year but where are they all going? Here are the main stops on Vietnams backpacker trail: Beginning in the north.

Sapa – Right up in the North West of Vietnam, Sapa is most famous for it’s trekking and home-stays, most visitors spend at least a few days exploring here before heading to Hanoi for some home comforts after some hard work.

Hanoi – It would be wrong to visit Vietnam without checking out their capital city. It’s a busy and noisy city because there’s always something going on just like any good major city. Why not book a Hanoi hotel for a few days to enjoy some of the best tourist attractions in Vietnam. There is plenty to do during the day and a thriving nightlife you really can’t go wrong.

Ha Long Bay – Chances are if you’ve spent more than a minute looking into South East Asia you’ve come across the spectacle that is Ha Long Bay, a must visit for anyone in the area.  This amazing seascape made up of thousands of limestone pillars is often visited via arranged 2/3 day trips from Hanoi but can be done independently. There are both sightseeing orientated trips as well as options for those looking for a bit of a party at the same time.

Hue – A small town located just above Hoi Ann does not receive nearly as many visitors as it’s close neighbor but if  it’s you’re sort of thing its well worth a day or two to explore the Imperial city.

Hoi Ann, Vietnam
Hoi Ann

Hoi Ann – One of the more popular stops in Vietnam famous for it’s tailors. Hundreds of shops offering to make just about any item of clothing you could want, out of any material you want.  Very well made and at ridiculously cheap prices it’s no wonder  so many people chose to get suits and dresses for all occasions made here and sent home.  Hoi Ann has far more to offer than shopping and is arguable one of the nicest towns in Vietnam to explore on foot.

Nha Trang – The must have beach stop along the route, Nha Trang is a typical tourist town.  Sit by the beach all day, take advantage of drink offers at night and maybe squeeze in a day at the waterpark.  What more could you want?

Waterfall in Vietnam

Dalat – Your gateway to the mountains, Dalat is the most visited city in the Central Highlands and offers great adventure activities in the stunning surrounding areas. Easy rider tours are also a popular way to explore the often overlooked mountains of Vietnam.

Mui Ne – Another tropical beach stop, this town is often visited for the main attraction of sand boarding on the nearby dunes.

Ho Chi Minh City – Despite not being the capital HCMC is possibly the most known city in Vietnam.  It truly never sleeps and usually mesmerises its visitors instantly with the constant cramped flow of traffic that fills the roads. HCMC is huge and has tonnes to offer both during the day and at night, you’ll need at least a few days to even scratch the surface.

Mekong Delta – Where the famous river of the SE Asia, The Mekong, meets the sea at the southernmost point of Vietnam, this watery world is easiest seen via a guided tour and if it’s your cup of tea well worth the money.

We loved our time in Vietnam, and with great, regular, cheap transport available from The Sinh Tourist throughout the country it really is easy to cater your trip to exactly what you want.

Last week we were nominated for Hostelbooker’s 7 Super Shots by our very own rtwbackpacker Chris and we were thrilled!  Not only because it’s the first time rtwbackpackers has been nominated to take part in anything like this but also because it gives us a chance to share some of our favourite photos with you.

So without further ado, here are our 7 Super Shots;

The picture that…..takes my breath away

Twelve Apostles - Great Ocean Road
I drove down the Great Ocean Road in Australia in May 2011 and I knew the highlight was going to be visiting the Twelve Apostles. I even stopped myself from looking at any photos of them, terrified that I'd ruin my experience by seeing other's people's pictures! Needless to say when we arrived at the Twelve Apostles, with the sun low in the sky and the rocks standing like silhouettes against waves, it was as spectacular as I had imagined and the picture still takes my breath away - Beverley

The picture that….makes me laugh or smile

Backpacking Thailand
With my friends from home who visited us in Thailand for two weeks on Koh Phi Phi - Poi

The picture that….makes me dream

Diving in Malapascua, Philippines
Our diving boat on Malapascua Island, Philippines. I dream of swimming in this clear water everyday - Kirsty

The picture that….makes me think

Hamburg Zoo, Dan Collins
What's he dreaming of? Hamburg Zoo - Dan

The picture that….makes my mouth water

Fish Fillet Philippines
Fresh fish fillet in the Philippines - I was tired and starving and this did the trick. Poi.

The picture that….tells a story

These children followed me along the beach by Lake Malawi for hours. While her friends were all jumping around and trying to use my camera, she waited patiently until I told her she could have a go - Gemma

The picture that….I’m most proud of

Sunset on Stradbrooke Island
Drying off after a day of scuba diving on Stradbroke Island - Dan

We hope you enjoyed looking at our pictures and now it’s your turn…….

Our nominees

We nominate…….no-one!

If you want to show off your 7 Super Shots with Hostelbookers on your own blog, go ahead and say we nominated you then hit us up on Facebook or Twitter so we can see your pictures!


Whether it’s the delicate splash of water on your forehead from a stranger or a full bucket of ice water down your back, you’re going to get wet.

For those of you who aren’t in Thailand, quite simply, you should be!

What is Songkran?

Songkran is the celebration of the Thai new year; a three day festival that takes place between the 13-15th April each year and also just so happens to be around the hottest time of the year as well.

It’s mainly known now to tourists for the water fights that take place almost nationwide however the biggest celebrations are still found in the north of Thailand.  Chiang Mai is known as the place to be with Bangkok being a close second.

Last year I experienced my first Songkran and had so much fun that I made sure to still be here this year to get in on the action again. So once again I’ll be filling up my supersoaker and heading out onto the streets en route to Khao San Road.  Although every night is a party on Khao San Road, nothing comes close to the buzz it has during Songkran.

The festival is like nothing I have experienced before, everyone gets involved and everything is fair game. Thai’s and tourists enjoy a good old fashioned water fight. What are you waiting for?

A few pictures from Songkran in Bangkok last year.

Songkran Thailand
Khao San Road - Before the mayhem
Songkran on Khao San Road
The streets are full all day, water flying everywhere
Songkran in Bangkok
I love it 🙂
Thailand water festival
You can barely move but it's so much fun.
Songkran Khao San Road
No idea? but you see lots of interesting sights during Songkran
Khao San Road Songkran
It's not just water, the Thai's loved covering tourists in clay paste as well.

If those pictures aren’t enough to convince you that Songkran should be on your must do list for next year then you’re beyond help.

Happy Songkran Festival!

Well it definitely beats an office
Well it sure beats an office...


This week’s questions to the backpackers come from Simon Petersen at Man vs World, a new travel blog featuring weird and wonderful travel adventures backpacking primarily through Europe and South East Asia as well as useful travel advice – more often than not – learned the hard way.

His questions are all centered on travel blogging, so read on for some top tips and advice from the experts.


Twitter: @Themanvsworld

Facebook: Man vs. World


Let’s start with an easy one. What’s the secret to creating a successful travel blog?

Beverley: I don’t think there’s any big secret but one absolute must is to be yourself; be who you are online who you are offline and vice versa.  People follow people!

Poi: Having a good back story would help, as much as people want to follow travel adventures they also want an interesting lead character. Someone asked a while ago what would you do differently if you could start over? Being a recovered heroin addict turned travel addict would be a pretty interesting back story haha (if you ignore the years of hell before of course but you get the idea)

Dan: I agree with Beverley, don’t be somebody else, just be yourself…. and try not to annoy people.

Chris: There is no secret – apart from hard work, heaps of time and a lot of networking… along with a good dose of luck too I guess!


What’s the best single piece of advice you would give a fledgling travel blogger?

Beverley : Jusy keep going, it gets better!


Poi: Don’t start something you don’t enjoy, if you hate writing informational posts don’t promise them, if you don’t enjoy writing them then I guarantee no one will enjoy reading them

Dan: Keep it simple. Doing too much too soon will probably wear you out and you’ll get fed up of blogging before you know it.

 Chris: Be prepared to lose A LOT of free time!


There’s a lot of great travel blogs out there. How do I get mine noticed?

Beverley: Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing with their travel blog, concentrate on yours and be unique.


Poi: Write a post slagging one of the big boys off, be prepared for a fight though (this is terrible advice).

Dan: If you’re writing genuine stories and enjoying it then people will like your blog and start sharing it naturally. Failing that, create another blog with 6 other people and hope for the best.

Gemma: I don’t have my own travel blog but because of my work I regularly read other blogs. I’d say the best ones out there are those that incorporate an element of humour- mention both the good and the bad experiences and really show the person behind the blog. Also, reading itineraries (then we did this, then we did that) is pretty boring for a reader- make sure you bring the palce alive.

 Chris: Network, network, network – guest post, tweet, go to meet ups…pretty much do everything I’m too lazy to sort out for myself! hahaha!


The word on the street is that most bloggers give up in the first six months. Did you ever feel like giving up? 

Beverley: I’ve never wanted to give up, the reason I blog is because I love writing & I’d never want to not have a platform where I can get my writing out there and show people that you can travel the world if you really want to.

Poi: Did I? Don’t you mean do I? I always feel like giving up haha. I just like sharing things from our travels and unlike many bloggers I have no desire to be a writer or make blogging a full time job so while I’m enjoying it that’s great and I’ll probably always do it but it frustrates me often.

Dan: So many times I thought “yeah, I’m getting nowhere, I’m going to close this mother fcuker down tomorrow” but then a few minutes later I’ll find some reason to start enjoying it again. I just remind myself I’m not in it for the money, page rank or any of that crap people stress so much over – I enjoy it.

 Chris: Nah – to start off I blogged because I wanted to keep my friends and family in touch with my travels. Don’t expect to start living off it straight away so simply make sure you’re enjoying it – else you might as well work in an office!


What do you get from blogging – besides fame and fortune? Have you ever gotten any free perks?

Beverley: If your aim is to get fame, fortune and free perks from travel blogging then you might be a little disappointed!  It takes a long time and hard work to get to where the top travel bloggers are now.  I’ve gotten a few free perks in the past (and some coming up in the future hopefully!) but it’s not the main reason I got into blogging 🙂

Poi: we’ve had a few things 😉 you’re gonna have to be patient though or have a very good pitch.

Dan: You mean we can get free stuff?! Ah man I’m missing out!


 Chris: I’ve managed to blag quite a few things – festival passes, accommodation, free tours, discounts, travel kit… and even a pimping new travel hammock… sometimes you’ve just gotta be cheeky enough to ask.


How do you guys find the time to blog while travelling? It mustn’t be easy!

Beverley: It can be hard when you’re constantly moving about!  I’ve been travelling really slowly, working a little bit along the way, and that definitely makes it easier 🙂

Poi: Not really an easy answer to this one but if you enjoy it and want it to work then you will make time.

Dan: I agree with Poi here. It’s a lot easier if you have your own laptop or something similar with you while travelling.

 Chris: You have to make the time. Plane journeys, train rides and hangovers are my most productive periods though!


Any other advice you’d give? or any questions you’d like to ask?

Sure beats Leicester Square
Sure beats Leicester Square


Incomprehensible station names, crazy interchanges and around 7 million passengers a day; taking the Moscow metro can prove pretty daunting for a first-time visitor to the Russian capital. But let’s be frank, this underground system is the mother of all metros. Its beautiful chandeliers, mosaics, sculptures and statues make it an attraction in itself. And it’s not all about its looks. The metro is also cheap (60 Rubles will buy you a ticket valid for 5 trips city-wide) impeccably clean and trains surprisingly run on time. Spanning almost the entire Russian capital it’s by far the best way to get around so here’s how to do it…

Get through the door

It may seem a little obvious but making it through the incredibly heavy doors without getting a broken nose is the first challenge. The constant piston action of trains pushing air through the tunnels creates some sort of vacuum meaning the doors swing shut so you’ll need to use all your force to push them open.

Learn the lingo

If you’re not familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet, its crazy shapes and symbols make reading the station stops pretty impossible, as they don’t tally with the English names on your map. Learning the language is obviously the best way around this but getting your hostel/hotel to write down the name of your destination in Russian should help you to identify where you need to go.

Erm, which way was it again?

Use your hands

If you haven’t succeeded to learn the language (see above point) then you’ll need to revert to age-old sign language to buy a ticket from the kiosk. Tickets are either sold individually or in groups of 5, 10, 20 or 60 so use your fingers to signal how many you want. The price is usually shown on the kiosk window (thank god numbers are universal) so you’ll know how much to hand to the woman. Smile is not included.

Ignore the sleeping woman

At the bottom of each escalator there is a glass cabin and inside sits a woman. Her job is to sit there all day looking up at the escalator, monitor the comings and goings of commuters and make loud speaker announcements to anyone who does not obey the escalator rules.  She is usually fast asleep but even so, don’t look her in the eye.

Ask younger people for advice

Do not expect Muscovites to speak anything other than Russian so swatting up on a few key phrases  (such as “how do I get to Red Square?”) is invaluable for getting around. As in most European countries, the younger generation is more likely to have studied English at school so if you need help, try approaching someone who looks fairly youthful.

Keep your passport on you

Don’t be surprised if you’re stopped by the police and asked to show your identification. It is standard practice so don’t start blubbing as soon as they appear but you will need to produce your documents. If you don’t feel comfortable carrying your passport with you, a photocopy should suffice.

And finally… Take your time

With stained glass windows, Swarovski-dripping chandeliers and mosaics expounding the benefits of a healthy communist life, the metro stations are architectural marvels in themselves. Make sure you book in some time to simply go from stop to stop and gawp at the grand designs. You wouldn’t do that in London and New York now would you?


Have you been to Moscow? How did you find using the metro? Any tips you’d add to the above?

Backpacker Tattoo

With tattoo’s becoming more and more popular it was inevitable that tattoo shops would start appearing in major tourist hot spots and reaping the rewards from over excited travellers.

But will you regret a spur of the moment tattoo from your rtw adventure?

From what I’ve seen it all comes down to one question. Have you been drinking?

That’s right, impulse decisions often lead to regrets and when do we all make those epic mistakes? When we’re hammered.

I have nothing against tattoo’s, much the opposite I have plenty and want more but that doesn’t mean I’m going to be rushing into the nearest shop and getting whatever jumps out at me. Each tattoo I have has been on my mind and often the wall of my bedroom for at least six months before making the transfer to my skin.

Perhaps I spend longer than most debating my tattoo’s but a night on Khao San Road with a group of English lads is enough to convince me I’m doing the right thing. Throughout the evening one or two would disappear for half an hour or so before returning and showing off a new tattoo. You know the usual type of thing, a dodgy girlfriend’s name from home, random phrase’s all thought up under the influence of 5 or 6 beers.

It’s not so bad for the guys already sporting a few tattoo’s, although there will undoubtedly be some regrets in the morning at least they knew what they were getting themselves in for. What’s worrying is when their pissed up mate jumps up and declares he’s going to get his first.

One of the RTW Backpackers team getting a cheeky Tattoo

As each guy returned the tattoo’s were becoming ever more disappointing but there was no stopping them, your name on the side of your neck? Or Boys on Tour on your forehead? Really?

This is not the way to go about it, even if you do have some great idea pop into your head, take at least a few days to think about it, remember, this is on you for life.

Some tips for getting tattoo’s while travelling:

Know what you want – Don’t rush into getting something because you want a tattoo there and then. Take time and consider what design you want

Research – If you can try and read some reviews online, practically everywhere has an online presence these days. Someone is bound to have mentioned their experience in the shop your considering.

See some work – Many shops have many artists, be sure to find out who will be working on you and ask to see some of their previous work.

Hygiene and procedures – This isn’t someone colouring in your skin, we’re talking needles and bleeding. Do they use new needles for every customer? Is everything disposed of in a suitable manner and have they got a license for what they are offering?

It seems a common practice to get a tattoo and why not, like I said before it’s a great way to remember your trip but if you’re not careful it can also be something to spend a lifetime regretting. Take some time to come up with the perfect tattoo and find the perfect artist for you.

Have any of you had any tattoos done while travelling? And more importantly…Had you been drinking?

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 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 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

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
The lust capital
Amsterdam's red light district


Lust – Amsterdam, Holland

Amsterdam is as notorious for its red light district as it is for its for its quirky, artistic and ultra laid-back attitude. Hordes of scantily clad women (and men) line the streets of the Wallen acting as a huge draw for punters and window shoppers across the globe to ogle or indulge their fantasies.


Pride – Los Angeles, USA

The city of angels; where fake boobs, big hair and compact noses are more commonplace than hot meals. From the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to the uber-chic boutiques of Beverley Hills, LA is the place where people spare no expense to look their very best.


Greed – Las Vegas, USA

The ultimate sin city
The ultimate sin city

From all-you-can-eat buffets to never-ending drink re-fills and all-night gambling, the Nevada desert town is the ultimate Sin City. With everything in abundance and no check on time it’s hard to stop.


Envy – Dubai, UAE

A city of superlatives, Dubai boasts the most expensive, the biggest, the grandest, the tallest… of just about everything. From its super-sleek mall boutiques to its decadent hotels, be prepared for the green-eyed monster to rear its ugly head.


Gluttony – Paris, France

Where else can you indulge your food fetish than in the capital of haute cuisine: Paris. With secret street markets, bistros, cafes and restaurants aplenty, eating and drinking in Paris takes on a very new dimension.


You don't want to be caught in the middle of this in rush hour...

Wrath – London, UK

Stand on the wrong side of the escalator during rush hour or walk slowly down the street and you’ll see a cloud of red mist rise above commuters’ heads. What’s more during the north London derby be prepared for friendly football rivalry to turn somewhat sour.




Sloth – Barbados, Caribbean

The locals pride themselves on their relaxed and laid-back lifestyle so you’d be excused for taking things a little slower here. From catching some rays on the beach to wiling away the afternoon in a hammock the most you’ll have to move is to flag down the waiter for another rum cocktail.

If like me you can’t help but take football a little more serious than you should then you might be worried about how you’re going to keep up with the beautiful game while travelling.

Before we continue I have to be clear. This is aimed at the English folk out there. Not that weird in no way similar but similarly named game they play in the US or OZ.

So here is the thing, you need not worry – At least if you’re backpacking SE Asia.

It turns out despite the game being played in our own country, we have some of the worst TV coverage of the sport you could ask for.

It’s true living in Bangkok I don’t have the luxury of Soccer AM to soothe my hangover on a Saturday morning but that I can (just about) live with.  What I do get is every single premier league game, live on my television.  Not just the lunch time and late games like in the UK but every single game played across a number of channels.

It gets better still.  Despite meaning getting up in the middle of the night I also get all of the Europa and Champions league games as well.

Meaning since March this year I have not missed a single game of my beloved Tottenham Hotspur (Apart from a few friendly games, most of which were also shown live.)

But how was it when I was travelling?

SE Asia has been brilliant for the backpacking football fan. Often the first thing I’m asked after “Where are you from?” is “What team do you support?”. Football is huge over here it’s just a shame they all support Man U, Chelsea or Liverpool.

The big games are always easy to find, bars are always advertising the next games to try and draw the crowds in and many games are shown on channels available in hostels or hotels.

I remember once in a Cambodian hotel, after talking about football to the night staff he instructed me to wake him up at 3am to let me in the lounge for a game, can you imagine that back home?

The people in SE Asia have a real love of the game and makes keeping up to date with your team very easy.  Unfortunately it’s not going to be quite this easy all around the world. I found games a lot harder to come by in China despite the presence of shops selling merchandise of that horrible other team in north London. Luckily Internet access was often good enough to stream the games from the Internet.

That horrible moment is always inevitable with the internet though, your team is about to kick off and you can’t get a stream or find anywhere showing the game.  My best tip for this scenario? Throw stuff at the wall and blame your girlfriend while praying when you check the scored in the morning your team won.


Have you been able to keep up with your favourite sports teams while travelling? 


Mopeds are a lot of fun and SE Asia is a great place to take one for a spin, especially because they are so cheap to rent.

So no matter what your experience level, even a first timer, follow these rules and hopefully you won’t be battling  broken leg for the rest of your trip.

Always wear a helmet.
I’ll admit to not always following this rule especially on quiet island roads but I’m no role model and in towns it’s a definite must.  Not only because of the sometimes crazy accident rates around this part of the world but also because it’s the law.

Go with the flow.
Most traffic has a sort of flow to it. Judge how fast you should be travelling and how best to overtake from those around you. I don’t mean the guy going the fastest on the hard shoulder either, go with the majority.

Practice makes perfect.
Don’t get your new girlfriend from the dorm room last night on the back straight away.  Take the bike for a spin first and get used to the controls. Become one with the bike? Or something like that…

You’re on a moped.
Not in a scene from The Fast and the Furious.  Remember mopeds aren’t always the easiest to spot for car drivers so think first before flying round that blind downhill corner at top speed, it won’t be the car that comes out worse…

Check, check & check again.
Before you head off onto those wild jungle roads, make sure everything with the bike is working beforehand.  You don’t want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere and ending up as the modern day Tarzan.

Don’t play Evil Kenevil.
No matter what anyone tells you no one has ever cleared a canyon or valley, or anything worth note in fact, on a moped.  Don’t try to be the first…  You will fail.

…And now you’re safe. Safe from major injuries, safe from hefty repair bills and annoying insurance claims.

Do you have any more tips for riding a moped in other parts of the world? Or maybe a concern about your first time?


The courtyard of San Pedro
The courtyard of San Pedro

Ever since the plane landed on South American soil, I’d heard nothing but talk of the notorious San Pedro prison in the heart of La Paz, Bolivia. The backpacker circuit was buzzing with tales of the jail, largely due to Rusty Young’s 2003 book, Marching Powder, the must-read it seemed for every traveller in Latin America.

The book, a gripping exposé of life inside the prison, tells the story of a young British drug smuggler who, banged up for four years, came up with the idea of giving tours, thus creating one of the world’s strangest tourist attractions.

And after finding out the film version of the book is due to be released by Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B, I was desperate to see the prison for myself but looking through guidebooks it seemed that the tours had stopped. A crackdown by the Bolivian government after the release of the book I assumed.

On arrival in La Paz, however, I found a different situation. The tours were still happening.

I was given Kenny’s number by a pair of Australians, who assured me I’d have no trouble getting into the prison. And they were right. After speaking briefly over the phone, and mentioning their names, a friend and I arranged to meet Kenny the next day in the square outside San Pedro’s main entrance.

When he finally turned up, I was surprised to see how smartly dressed he was- donning an expensive looking suit and shining loafers, utterly out of place with the usual Bolivian attire. After handing over 200 bolivianos (roughly £20), we joined an apprehensive looking group of tourists and a further £5 later (a bribe to the guard on the gates) we were introduced to our guide Miguel.

Like most of the residents in San Pedro, Miguel was in on drug charges but had recently taken over the running of the tours. He explained he ran them to “raise a little extra for my children”.

And this is where San Pedro differs from every other prison in the world; whole families live inside (although wives and children are free to leave the prison during daylight hours) and the jail resembles a small town. Flanked by cells, there are restaurants, hairdressers and even a hotel.

“Many people live a better life here than out on the streets,” pointed out Miguel.

“We all have a roof over our heads and many of us have small jobs.”

Easy then to see why prison poses a better option for some in Bolivia where, according to Unicef, 59% of the population live in conditions of extreme poverty.

The tour lasted for a couple of hours and took us through the different sections of the prison. As prisoners are expected to pay for their own cells, sleeping quarters range from damp, rodent-infested holes to almost penthouse apartments equipped with en-suite facilities and televisions- usually frequented by rich businessmen in for fraud.

“Normally, people stick to their section, they don’t leave” said Miguel.

“If you go into another section especially late night you could get badly hurt or worse killed. The authorities always report this as death from natural causes.”

When asked why he could come and go as he pleased, Miguel said simply “respect”. His six-foot muscular frame was certainly an advantage and walking around the jail, his presence made me feel a little more at ease.

The tour ended at one of the restaurants. I ventured to buy a hamburger, more out of politeness than hunger, and it was quickly rustled up by one of the inmates’ wives.

Chatting while she made my meal, she told me: “I’m very happy here. I work, my family has a home and the children are happy. Outside there is nothing for us when my husband is in prison.”

As I tucked into my 50 pence hamburguesa, Miguel offered us all some cocaine, the ‘finest in the world’ he claimed and produced in San Pedro itself. Although ninety per cent of prisoners are locked up for drug-related crimes, a large percentage of the world’s white stuff is still produced from inside the wall’s of San Pedro, using makeshift ‘factories’ set up in prisoner’s cells.

I slipped Miguel an extra few notes and was genuinely relieved when the gates opened and the tour group was allowed to escape. After chatting to some of the other tourists, it seems you can simply turn up at the square at the beginning of the day and hop onto a prison tour.

At the moment, San Pedro welcomes through its iron gates around fifty to sixty travellers each day and the entry money paid is said to be used in the improvement of amenities for the inmates, however, the general corrupt nature of Bolivia makes me somewhat doubt this claim.

Anyone wanting to explore San Pedro should however act quickly. Once the film version of Marching Powder is released next year, exposing secrets of the La Paz jail, prison officials and government ministers will try harder than ever to stop the tours.


Have you managed to visit San Pedro? Was the ‘tour’ the same when you were there?


When it comes to visiting Ha Long Bay, a must-visit site for anyone travelling Vietnam, there are almost definitely too many options to choose from. One is to make the trip to Ha Long Town yourself and find a tour or private boat there willing to take you or, like most, arrange a trip from either a hostel or travel service in Hanoi.

Chances are if you’re part of the younger generation of backpackers you’re looking for more than just a good spot of sight seeing. If you are looking for a something more lively you should consider the Hanoi Backpackers Rock Long, Rock Hard, Ha Long Bay Tour.

As the name suggests the tour is arranged through the backpackers hostel in Hanoi and if you’ve stayed there for more than 30 minutes you’ll know exactly what it’s all about, having a damn good time.

At $120 per person this option is not cheap but you get what you pay for and you under no illusions what that is (a common problem with Ha Long Bay Tours). A three day, two night tour with everything but drinks included.

junk boat ha long bay tour vietnam
Poi jumping off the top deck

Day 1 starts with transport from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay. After arrival the boat sets off and you’re immediately treated to a good-sized quality lunch before the boat anchors down and the brave among you can leap from the top of the boat for a swim. Whilst you’re splashing about, kayaks are being prepared for you to head over to a small island where a short hike gives you great views of the limestone cliffs you (may) have come to see. Back in the kayaks it’s onto a small cave for a quick look before heading back to the boat.

After some time to freshen up, its time for some more food before the real action begins. Your host for the trip will lead a number of drinking games and in many cases the boat turns into more of a nightclub with your own iPod providing the perfect music.

The parties can get pretty rowdy and go all night. The lucky staff selling drinks will keep the bar open until the last of you has stumbled into bed sometime during the early hours.

the jolly roger hanoi backpackers ha long bay tour
The Jolly Roger

Unfortunately after a heavy night the next day starts early with a 7am breakfast and many tired faces. A smaller boat transports you to ‘Castaway Island’ where you will enjoy the rest of the day and second night of the tour. A private beach complete with wooden shelters for bedrooms, a bar, table tennis, volleyball makes for an amazing day in the stunning surroundings with your new friends. Even if you do use some of the time to sleep off the night before….

A BBQ lunch is provided before heading off for an activity of your choice; at last look either wake boarding, banana boating or rock climbing. As each group goes off you’re left to enjoy your surroundings and by the time everyone has had their turn the day has passed.

The evening begins with another good BBQ meal before guess what, another round of drinking games for all to enjoy. Much like the night before your host will get the action underway before the night heads in whatever direction you take it and with a private beach, that means pretty much anything goes.

private beach ha long bay
All This beach to yourself

Day 3 starts early again with transport back to the main boat. It’s just a case of a final meal on the boat before a long tired journey back to Hanoi.

It’s clear this tour is not for families or those of you looking to spend time seeing Ha Long Bay in detail but if you want to have the best of both worlds with magnificent scenery and one hell of a party this is as good as it gets.

CC Thanks to David Mckelvey for the title picture.

Because we’re super cool, awesome and generally nice people we wanted to make sure this blog wasn’t just about us. Taking this in to consideration we’re starting a regular feature where we’re going to pass on our knowledge to you on any questions you may want answering. We didn’t want to limit this to just travel bloggers and so we’re welcoming everybody to get in touch and to take part.

So without further ado, I hand you over to our first guest:

RTW Backpacker
Meet Dom

“Hey, I’m Dom Lovallo (@dlovallo1) 22 years old and from Peterborough, England. I’ve just finished studying business at Hull University and I’m now just working hard and saving towards the dream.

During University I decided that I cannot just get a job and work till I retire and needed to see and experience the world. Already fed up of the mundane life of work and routine, I want to travel the world to have one big adventure, try things i would never do at home, meet some amazing new people and cultures. This is also the first time I would have been away from England for longer than a couple of weeks. I’m planning on setting off around October 2012… looking to get RTW flights booked around April time.

I’m going to start off in India (Goa) to ease into the travelling concept then travel up-north. Then jump on a flight to china, travel down the east coast then through Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and ending up in Singapore. After that I’ll be flying to east coast Australia. I’m thinking about a bit of S.America but budget means might have to leave it to another time. I’ll hopefully be travelling for approx 8-10months… Hopefully longer.”

My questions to the backpackers are:

What size backpack have you used and what would you recommend?

Chris – I’d say smaller is better (I did Thailand on a 25litre for 3 weeks!) but in reality I’d say 70+20 …it gives you plenty of space so you don’t need to worry about creating a tetras tile packing technique and you can buy stuff on the road

Dan – I’ve got to agree with Chris. When I was leaving Australia (bearing in mind I had everything I own on me) I had an 80-Litre backpack which was far, far too big. Dragging it around was uncomfortable and just attracted attention. I felt the need to constantly keep checking it and having to move it out of people’s way. Having a backpack with a detachable day pack would be a bonus.

Beverley – I actually don’t have a backpack, I have suitcase instead!  If I was always moving from place to place then I’d definitely have a backpack instead but because I’m travelling slowly and therefore more long-term it’s more feasible for me to live out of a suitcase than a backpack.

Monica – I had a 65litre backpack and found that this was just about right. Any bigger and I wouldn’t have been able to lift it onto my back and any smaller makes it tough to find anything. I’d recommend buying one that zips all the way open rather than a toploader. I had one that only opened at the top so anything that slipped to the bottom pretty much stayed there.


What travel essentials would you recommend to pack for a 12month RTW Trip?

Chris – travel adaptor (much needed), a hardcore pair of flip flops, some good tunes to entertain you on buses/beaches/planes and an iPad – I don’t know how I’d travel without one now!

Poi: I’d invest in a kindle, reading is a must to pass the time on long journeys and settling for books you don’t really enjoy from a crappy book shop gets frustrating.

Dan – Definitely an iPod of some sort to keep you entertained if you don’t like reading. A small first aid kit, mosquito spray, a backup way of accessing money. (How boring am I?!)

Beverley – Dan you’ve gone all grown up and practical on us, what happened?!  I actually don’t think I could travel without my iPod, my iPhone, a large pair of sunglasses and industrial strength mozzy spray. But you also can’t go wrong with a small first aid kit and a travel washing line.

Monica – I agree with Poi – definitely a Kindle. You can buy virtually everything you could possibly need or want on the road so I wouldn’t worry too much about what you pack.


I’ve heard whilst travelling that plans can change quick, would you recommend investing in an RTW flight ticket or just winging it and buying just your first one-way flight?

Chris – it’s a difficult one! My experience from working at STA Travel says full RTW ticket – but make sure it’s a flexible one. You can plan a full RTW ticket to key destinations (i.e. into Bangkok and out of Singapore) and then bounce around as much as you like within that place depending on time and budget.

Poi: Don’t listen to Chris and just wing it, I planned on being in Asia for maybe half a year originally and I’m still here over a year and a half later. Who knows what you’ll decide to do once you’re underway!

Dan – Agree with Poi on this one – wing it! I know a lot of people who have decided to wing it as you may find you don’t like some places so want to leave early or you may like them too much and decide to stay longer.

Beverley – Definitely wing it because once you start travelling your plans with constantly be changing.  Opportunities will come up, you’ll meet people along the way and all of a sudden the plan you’ve got set in stone doesn’t look so great anymore.

Monica – I think it depends what kind of travel experience you’re after. If you know for definite that you want to be back home after a year and there are 4-5 countries you definitely want to visit then go for a RTW ticket. If you aren’t 100% sure where you want to go or how long you want to go for just wing it. It might work out slightly more expensive but you aren’t restricted by a schedule.


I’ve heard that the general rule for budgeting is approx $1000 USA dollars a month. Would you say this sounds about right taking into consideration that majority of the months will be travelling in cheaper countries such as India, Thailand etc and maybe only 2-3 months in Australia, New Zealand etc.?

Chris – Yes, although I’d say £1000! Australia is increasingly expensive to travel and that $1000 will balance out in the long run. It’s always best to be pessimistic with money – worse comes to worse you come home with some cash in your pocket. Best case scenario….you simply travel for longer!

Beverley – – I have no idea about budgeting, nor have I ever budgeted per month for my travels so I’m probably not the best person to ask! 🙂


How do you budget your money whilst travelling?

Chris – I stick to the $1000 rule and break it down daily. I tend to take a week or so’s worth of cash out and stick to it if I can – especially for daily buying stuff. Things like tours and that need to be approached in advance though and if I know I’m intent on doing something before I leave I’ll factor it in.

Dan – Considering I lost my bank card and had no other access to money on my trip I’d say the best way to budget is live off the bare minimum unless you really want to do something. Towards the end of your trip you can go crazy with the money you have left 🙂

Beverley – I don’t.  I earn shit loads of money working abroad, travel a bit more and then realise after a few months that I’m going to have to starve until I find work again because I’ve spent all my money.  I realise this is hugely irresponsible and would not recommend taking this approach to your travels.

Monica – I’m the same as Beverley. I don’t have a budget I just try my best not to waste any money. When my bank balance starts to get low I stop travelling for a while and knuckle down and do some work for a few months until I have enough to start travelling again.


What advice would you give somebody thinking about and wanting to fund a RTW trip?

Chris – start saving ASAP! That way if you decide to go (which you should!) the moneys good to go. If not then you have some good savings – it’s win win! Kill you’re social life and look at things as if they were parts of your travel – that £10 meal out might not seem much but would I rather have that or a hostel bed, 2 meals and a beer in Thailand?!

Poi: Basically what Chris said, look at everything in terms of what it could get you somewhere else in the world. You don’t wanna avoid going out with friends because you’ll start to hate saving but just skip the expensive bits, don’t eat out but meet them after for beers 🙂

Dan – What those two said ^


Beverley – Sell everything you don’t need on eBay, do your research, book at least one flight or get a visa secured for somewhere so you’ve got something to aim towards and don’t let anyone tell you that what you’re doing isn’t a good idea.

Monica – Don’t bother saving in your home country – work abroad! Working around Europe, Australia and NZ is so much more fun and you can earn some decent money to fund your travels. I found it easier to save in Oz because I was surrounded by like-minded backpackers who were on a budget and you have more motivation to save your pennies.

Any advice on the best company to get travel insurance from?

Chris – Without sounding like a broken record it’s STA Travel again! I’ve worked for them and for what they cover they’re the best. I’ve dealt with people needing to be flown home or get treatment and the under writer is really good – I have complete faith that they’d be there if I needed them.

Poi: Our travel insurance ran out a while ago…oopps.


Dan – I use the price comparison websites. I think mine ended up being £20 for 12 months from Virgin Money Travel Insurance which included winter sports, baggage lost etc. I even got a nifty little credit card thing with all of the details on so I didn’t have to carry around heaps of paperwork.

What would you say is the biggest highlight and best place that youve been whilst travelling that you would recommend to others to put on their itinerary?

Chris – Anyone reading my blog will know that Byron Bay, Australia is going to be my answer! Although Montanita in Ecuador – where I’m currently based – is fast catching up!

Poi: Since diving on Koh Tao I can’t stop thinking about it, I’m desperate to go diving again, although I’d do it anywhere really.

Dan – Australia. Hands down Australia is the best place I’ve been. There’s no specific spot I’d recommend I just love that country! If I really had to choose I’d say the Gold Coast hinterland.

Beverley – The Great Ocean Road in Australia.  Don’t let a tour guide take you down it though.  Hire a campervan and do it yourself, it’s so much more fun that way!

Monica – The Gili Islands in Lombok. They’re easy to reach from Bali and absolutely stunning. The nightlife on Gili Trewangen is awesome and the other two islands give you a real Robinson Crusoe feeling.

Is it worth bringing a laptop/netbook with me whilst on my travels or would this be just extra baggage when internet cafes can be used?

Chris – I always carry my laptop and my iPad. If you don’t need the full capability of a laptop though just go with the iPad –   it’s so portable you won’t even notice the extra weight.

Dan – I had my laptop with me on my travels but I did tend to get very protective over it where security was concerned and I needed it being a blogger. I’d say take it with you if you’re not mega worried about it and it’s not too heavy.

Beverley – I didn’t have a laptop for ages until I started taking my Blog seriously and knew the investment would be worth it so I bought one on sale in Australia.  Honestly though if you think you’ll only use it to go on Facebook and email then it’s probably not worth it – every hostel I’ve been to have internet access and you don’t have to worry about losing or breaking your laptop.

Odds of having travelling flings in every hostel you visit?

Chris – In EVERY hostel!? Depends how determined you are!hahaha! Flings will happen though…don’t fret young hormone fuelled traveller!

Poi: Jesus man, you’re gonna have to sleep sometime you know haha. I praise your enthusiasm though 😉

Dan – I’m agreeing with the others… every?! Haha. I wouldn’t say every hostel but I know for a fact every hostel I’ve stayed in there’s been somebody having a romp in one of the opposite beds.

Beverley – I would say that  odds are hugely increased if you concentrate on being friends with people and generally getting involved with a group and having fun rather than being that creepy person in the hostel who’s trying to get it on with everything that walks 😉

Monica – If you’re a hottie, the odds are high 😉

If you’ve got any questions you’d like the backpackers to answer, give us a shout!


Welcome to RTW Backpackers!

We’re 7 travel bloggers/backpackers from the UK, in fact you might know some of us already!

We’re all based in different countries right now but we’re coming together online to bring you our funniest, most scandelous, sexy, sometimes alcohol-fuelled, no-holds-barred stories from our travels so far as well as some fantastic guest posts from some other travellers who took up our offer of beer and internet-loving as bribery for writing for us!

Ok not really.

But at the same time we’ll also be sharing some helpful stuff too (because obviously we’re not just about beer and shagging) so that you can get all your backpacking questions answered by real travellers and get out there and see the world for yourself!

So if you like what you see, share this post on Facebook or Twitter and help us take over the world!!! Ahem…..we mean, keep writing this super amazing blog…..

“So who the hell are you then?!” I hear you cry.

Calm yourself.

We may have been a bit secretive lately but we’re now ready to come out of hiding (read: the pub) and reveal who we actually are!

So in no particular order…..

Monica from The Travel Hack

Chris from Backpacker Banter

Dan from Adventures With Dan

Beverley from Pack Your Passport

Kirsty and Poi from No Place To Be

Gemma from Gap Daemon

We’d love you all to become part of the RTW Backpackers community so if you’re not already, feel free to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.




I decided to review this hostel as I’ve seen a lot of talk lately following the usual argument of ‘Hostels vs Hotels’ and ‘what makes a good hostel’. When people get into this discussion I always bring up the Guilin Flowers Hostel in China as my example of exactly what a hostel should be.

I’ve stayed in many different styles of accommodation over the last year and a half across China and SE Asia and this is still one of my favourites. Not because it has great views over a beach or I have fond memories of friends made there but simply because when it comes to making a hostel they got everything right.

So what makes this hostel stand out?

The best thing about YHA flowers is it’s homely charm. The large lounge full of comfy sofa’s is a great hangout and place to meet other travellers, it’s the first room you come to entering the hostel and chances are where you’ll spend most of your time. The lounge also has a quieter area for reading or a quick snooze as well as a pool table, computers and a separate TV room with stacks of movie’s available. There’s also cheap eats available all day ranging from good Chinese food to simple western dishes and of course a fridge full of soft drinks and cheap beer, which of course is a must for any good establishment.

Guilin Flowers Youth Hostel

One of my favourite aspects of the flowers hostel is how it was designed with the backpacker in mind, something so obvious but that seems to be missed in a lot of hostels. One of the largest walls in the lounge has been painted to show timetables for all transport out of Guilin to just about everywhere, making planning your next journey so very simple. There are shelves full of books and leaflets giving you a guide to everything going on in the area built up over time from backpackers passing through.

The hostel is also home to some of the most helpful staff I have met whilst away. Not only are they friendly with a ‘help yourself’ sort of attitude but they actually know what they are talking about and seem happy to help with any questions you take to them. If you want to go somewhere just ask and they’ll set you on the way.

When it comes to sleeping you can chose between a bed in a four person dorm for only a few dollars a night or splash out on a private room for between $11-15. The one thing you might not like about this place? All bathrooms are home to those dreaded squat toilets, but hey, you’re in China right?

It’s also one of the cleanest places I have stayed, everywhere was spotless and no bugs in sight, including in the bed which is more than I can say for one of the hotels I used in China…

The final point is it’s location, not only is it in Guilin, a wonderful place to begin a journey along the River Li, but it’s practically just across the road from the train station so you won’t be lugging your bags around town for an hour after a long journey.

Before you ask this isn’t a sponsored post, just a request to anybody looking to open a hostel to take note, this is the example to follow.