Bali is one of our teams favourite places in South East Asia – the mixture of budget friendly living, variety of things to do and awesome culture makes Bali an awesome stop on any trip through Asia!

But with so much to see and do it can be tough to figure our the best places to visit in Bali – so we’ve picked the brains of our Bai experts to see which destinations in Bali make the top of their lists.

Time to start planning your perfect Bali adventure

 

5 Of Our Favourite Places To Visit In Bali, Indonesia

Canggu

If you’re planning your first trip to Bali then Canggu should be the spot you head to to kick things off and is easily one of the best places to visit in Bali.

This hipster paradise is THE place to be in Bali – with a huge range of hotels, guesthouses, hostels and there are also plenty of Canggu Surf Camps as well if you want to hit the waves.

And the beach is the focus of everything here too, with a variety of surf spots to choose from (for all levels of surfer) or simply kick back and enjoy a sunset Bintang on the beach!

For the foodies out there Canggu is the best place to visit in Bali for food too – with more cafes, restaurants and warungs (local restaurants) than you can imagine. From smoothie bowls and vegan delights to burgers and of course Nasi Goreng.

Canggu is also the start point for most of our Bali Tours too – so check those out if you want to hit up a few spots!

 

Ubud

Stray away from the beach and head inland to the popular spot of Ubud – another favourite place to visit in Bali. Discover the amazing rice terraces (get up early and head there for sunrise if you can!), brave the Monkey Forest and fill your backpack up with souvenirs from the bustling local markets.

It’s the yoga capital of Bali too, so if you’re keen to get your “om” on then there are plenty go yoga classes and studios that cater for all styles.

 

Uluwatu

If you surf this has to be top of your list of places to visit in Bali – the world class waves at Uluwatu offer up some incredible barrel rides and it’s a bucket list destination for sure.

If you don’t surf no worries – grab a cocktail and sit back and enjoy the show.

The Sunday sessions at Single Fin are legendary too and one of the bets nights out in Bali – so if you can fit that into your trip it comes highly recommended!

For those looking for a bit more culture on their Bali trip the Uluwatu Temple is a great spot to spend an hour or so wandering around, with the sunset Kecak show being a highlight.

 

Gili T

Ok ok we know that technically this isn’t part of Bali – but Gili Trawangan (aka Gili T) should certainly be somewhere you try to fit in if you find yourself exploring Bali!

A 4 hour ferry from the mainland this is the spot to head if you’re on the hunt for island vibes, beaches and clear waters.

Famous for the abundance of turtles a morning high tide is the perfect opportunity to swim alongside this chilled creatures and is something you won’t forget in a hurry.

When the sun goes down on Gili T (and this island offers up some truly epic sunsets!) the beach parties kick off and you can dance on the sand until the early hours of the morning.

 

Nusa Lembongan

Again, we know it’s not technically Bali, but Nusa Lembongan it’s another epic spot you just can’t miss out on!

Much more chilled vibes here than Gili T, this island sits a much shorter 30 minute speedboat trip off of mainland Bali so is perfect for a quick getaway or last minute place to visit in Bali.

Again there are some incredible world class waves (and it’s a favourite stop for people jumping on our Bali Island Hopper Surf Adventure) so whether you paddle out or just enjoy watching make sure you take the time to do so.

The big draw with Nusa Lembongan though is the manta rays – so if you head this way jump into the ocean scuba diving or snorkelling and meet these gentle giants face to face!

If you have a bit longer to spare combine Nusa Lembongan with Nusa Penida for some even more epic adventure and Insta worthy photo stops.

 

 

 

Are you planning a trip to Bali?

What’s top of your places to visit in Bali?

 

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If you’re spending any time in Australia, learning to surf should definitely be high on your bucket list! Over 30,000 miles of coastline means thousands of surf spots, world class waves, and plenty of beach breaks perfect for beginners to get their first taste of pure stoke.

In this guide, we take a quick look at the different ways to learn, share our favourite Aussie surf spots that are perfect for catching your first waves, and round up our team’s pick of the best learn to surf packages available.

 

Should you go it alone, book a lesson or stay with a surf camp?

Ah the killer question!

There’s actually more to it than just time and money, so let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of each:

 

Board hire only

If you’ve surfed before, know what you’re doing, and feel confident in the ocean, renting a board and hitting the waves solo may work well for you. It’s also the cheapest option, happy days!

 

Book a lesson

If you’ve never surfed before, don’t be tempted to just rent a board and go; surfing is deceptively hard! Spend a few more dollars and get a proper lesson. You’ll have way more fun, be safer, and you’re also much more likely to nail that Instagram shot of you riding your first waves like a pro!

A good surf school will pick out the best spot for the conditions on the day, show you everything you need to know to get you up and riding, plus teach you a little about ocean safety.

A lesson is also perfect if you don’t have long, or want the flexibility of choosing as many or as few days as you need. It’s more expensive than board hire alone, but usually all equipment is included in the price which eases the blow a bit.

 

Stay at a surf camp

It’s a simple truth that the more you surf, the better you get. If you want to improve beyond getting up on your first white water waves, soak up the surf lifestyle, and make new friends, you can’t beat the experience of a surf camp.

It might be the most expensive option, but you get all the benefits of multiple lessons, plus everything, including meals and accommodation, is taken care of for you. All you need to think about is surfing and chilling!

 

The best surf spots in Australia for beginners

As a beginner, the best place to learn is at a beach break where you can catch broken waves in waist deep water, with no strong currents. Australia has a mind blowing amount of surf spots and loads that are perfect for beginners. Here are five of our favourites:

 

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Byron Bay, New South Wales

With its laid back hippie vibe and a variety of breaks for all levels, Byron Bay is arguably one of the best places in the world to learn to surf. Check out Clarkes Beach at the Eastern end of Main Beach. It’s usually slightly less crowded, is sandy bottomed, and offers a gentle right-hander that is ideal for beginners.

 

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Yamba, New South Wales

Situated in Northern New South Wales, picturesque Yamba is another classic Aussie beach town. Beginners have a couple of options here with Turners Beach and Main Beach both offering gentle waves, as well as breaks for more advanced surfers.

 

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Spot X Surf Camp, New South Wales

Situated off the beaten track in Solitary Marine Park between Sydney and Byron Bay, Spot X Surf Camp is a dream location. You’ll find amazing waves with breaks suitable for absolute beginners right through to intermediate and advanced surfers.

What really sets Spot X apart from other locations though, is that it’s one of the few places where you can stay right on the beach. The perfect place to immerse yourself in Aussie surf life.

 

Noosa, Queensland

Noosa is famous as one of the best long boarding spots in the world and also offers a variety of breaks. Noosa Main Beach is one of the few north facing beaches on the East Coast so is well protected and ideal for beginners. Also check out Little Cove, another sheltered spot that is absolutely stunning.

 

Perth, Western Australia

If you’re hitting up Perth on the West Coast, you’ll still find plenty of opportunities to get some waves. The beginner breaks close to the city such as Cottesloe Beach, can get super crowded so you may find a little road trip pays off.

Lancelin Back Beach, just over an hour away, is beautiful and is usually uncrowded. For the best waves, try straight in front of the car park.

 

The best learn to surf packages in Australia

It’s not easy choosing between all the different options out there, so to help, we asked the experts (most of our team are die hard surfers!) for their top picks.

Here’s what they recommended…

 

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Sydney to Bryon Surf Adventure with Mojosurf (7, 10 & 14 day options)

A surf camp with a twist, the beauty of this package is that you can use it to travel from Sydney to Byron (or vice-versa), as well as soaking up the surf life in the epic locations of Spot X and Byron Bay.

Spot X’s secluded location means you’ll eat, sleep, and breathe surf. With accommodation right on the beach, you can enjoy long days in the sun and nights around the camp fire with good company. You’ll also have the opportunity to add other activities, like surf rafting, river kayaking or kangaroo golf.

After Spot X, it’s on to the surfing mecca of Byron Bay for more lessons and after-surf fun with your new buddies.

Each package includes your surf lessons and equipment, transport, accommodation, plus all meals while you’re at the camp.

Click here to check out our Mojo Surf Adventures

 

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Mojo Surf Academy and Surf Instructor Course

If a few days stop over in Spot X en route to Byron Bay isn’t enough to get your stoke going then why not take it a step further with the Mojo Surf Academy and spend 4 to 8 weeks enjoying the eat, sleep, surf repeat lifestyle?

You’ll have heaps of time to practice your skills and take your surfing to the next level before heading further up the coast!

Or for those who want to turn the beach into their office the zero to hero Mojo Surf Instructor Course is the way to go. This epic 3 month programme takes you from all the basics of popping and paddling right through to gaining your surf instructor certification – it’s the ideal way to turn your passion into a career even if you don’t have heaps of surf experience!

Click here for more info on the Mojo Surf Academy or the Mojo Surf Instructor Course.

 

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Learn to Surf in Byron Bay with Stoked Surf School

If you’re short on time or funds, a half day adventure with Stoked Surf School could be the answer.

Stoked will take you on a fun road trip to find the least crowded spot with the best conditions on the day. They’ll then run you through some theory on the beach, before (hopefully!) getting you up and riding the waves.

Group sizes are deliberately kept small to make sure you receive enough attention from one of their qualified, experienced instructors, and a photographer comes along on every lesson to capture your best (and worst) moments.

Click here to book a surf lesson with Stoked Surf School

 

 

Which surf adventure will you choose?

However you choose to do it, make sure you do it! There’s no place on earth better to get caught up the surf lifestyle than Oz. But don’t say we didn’t warn you, it’s super addictive!

Check out our full selection of Learn to Surf packages in Australia and let us hook you up with an epic Aussie surf experience!

Xmas is fast approaching and if you’re loved one is destined for a life on the road soon they can be a nightmare to shop for.

Space is at a premium so deciding what they’ll love and what they’ll leave at home is a tough call!

Luckily for you though we’ve compiled our teams favourite travel gifts – so whatever your traveller loves you’ll be able to get them the perfect present.

 

10 Epic Gift Ideas For Travellers This Xmas

GoPro

Ok admittedly this isn’t the cheapest item on the list – but if you really want to go all out for xmas a GoPro is one of the best gifts for travellers!

Waterproof, rugged and able to capture some incredible images on the road – it’s something they’ll be able to capture their entire adventure with!

If you want the best of the best the new GoPro Hero 6 is the top end, but the GoPro Hero 5 is almost as good and will save you a chunk of change too!

If you don’t have heaps of cash to splash or they simply don’t need all the functionality of the high end GoPro range the Gopro Hero 5 Session is still a greta option and nearly half the price!

If they already have a GoPro then there are heaps of accessories too – with the GoPro Supersuit Housing and red dive filter being our top pick for anyone into scuba diving!

 

Travel Insurance

Ugghhhhh yeah we know…this one sounds pretty boring hey? But travel insurance is essential these days and is the perfect way to show you care!

We personally recommend the guys at World Nomads who all of our team insure themselves with and they cover a huge range of activities. Best of all you can insure them AFTER they’ve left for their trip too.

So if you’re panicking that they’re currently bungy jumping through New Zealand without insurance you can get them covered!

Check out our travel insurance page for more info and to get a quick quote.

 

The Gift Of Travel!

Ok so we’re hugely bias towards this one!

But seriously what better gift to give some who loves to travel than travel itself? All of the trips on RTW Backpackers can be booked as a gift for someone else and best of all we can do that open dated for you too – meaning they can lock in their travel dates when it suits them.

Perfect!

Whether it’s a half day surf lesson or kayaking with dolphins through to a full open water dive course in Thailand or a bus pass in New Zealand we’ve got something for everyone…and more importantly for every budget too!

And if you aren’t quite sure what they want to do, or want to help them out with purchasing that epic East Coast Package then we also have gift cards starting at just $25.

 

Scratch Map

Help your travel buddy keep track of all their amazing adventures with a scratch map – an awesome visual way to see where they’ve been and how many adventures they still have to go!

From full size wall ones to mini travel editions it’s a great stocking filler and always well received!

 

Something For Their Passion

If you know this traveller well then something that reflect their passion is always a great way to go at xmas!

From a few block of sex wax for the avid surfer to a Girls That Scuba mask strap or even a shark themed phone case from the scuba diver in your life there’s plenty of budget friendly options packed full of love!

 

Travel Essentials

Looking for some stocking fillers for your traveller? Well you can’t go wrong with the travel essentials!

They might not be the most exciting, but they’re certainly the most useful – with items like Mozzie spray, first aid kits, padlocks, micro fibre towels, suncream and all those little things you ALWAYS forget to pack…there’s so much to choose from!

 

A Good Set Of Headphones

When it comes to long haul flights, overnight buses and island hopping ferries a good set of headphones definitely help make life on the road a bit easier!

And if you have a bit more cash to splash on your favourite traveller the Sennheiser PXC 550s  are pretty incredible – with up to 30 hours of battery life and noise cancellation features they really do upgrade your adventures to first class! Check out a full hands on review of the PXC 550s here if you don’t believe us!

 

A Drone!

Ok ok, so this is a pretty high end gift – but if you really want to help them capture the adventure a drone is the latest must have travel accessory!

For those really into their filming and photography The DJI Mavic Pro is still the top pick for travel drones, with its’ compact size and boasting some seriously high specs without taking up heaps of space.

Or for those getting their first drone the DJI Spark is super easy to fly and most importantly crazy small! It’s also one of the best value drones on the market right now – half the price of the Mavic!

 

Powerpack

With all this travel technology you’re going to want to make sure they can keep everything charged on the road – and a solid portable charger is an amazing gift for anyone who is bouncing around the globe.

The Anker Powercore 10,000 is super small and can still juice up your smartphone 3 times off a single charge – perfect for life on the road.

 

A Backpack

If they’re heading off on their first adventure soon then a backpack is one of the most essential items they’ll be needing.

Personally we always recommend the Osprey Farpoint which is the perfect size, super comfortable and most importantly super hard wearing – check out a hands on review of the Osprey Farpoint here.

If it’s just hand luggage they need or the perfect carry on only adventure pack then then Slicks hand luggage backpack is a no brainer. It’s not the cheapest but it’s certainly one of the best and most reliable.

 

And there you have it – 10 amazing gift ideas for every traveller this xmas! So no matter what they love, where they’re heading or how much you have to spend you can make sure the traveller in your life is smiling this xmas!

 

 

 

The East Coast of Australia is one of the most popular backpacker routes in the world and for good reason – there’s just so much to see and do!

But figuring out how to travel the East Coast of Australia can be a tough one as there’s the factors of time frame, budget and flexibility to consider.

So to help you plan your trip to Australia we’ve decided to compare two of the most popular options for travelling the East Coast – Premier Bus Passes and Greyhound Bus Passes – so you can decide which is the best fit for you…

 

Premier Bus Pass Australia or Greyhound Bus Pass Australia – Which Is Better?

Both Premier and Greyhound offer the popular hop on, hop off bus passes which are the most affordable and flexible ways to travel along the East Coast of Australia – allowing you to plan your trip online, change bus dates if needed and have all your bus travel sorted in one easy pass.

The only thing you need to keep in mind through is these passes is that you can only travel in a single direction (so no backtracking) however Greyhound also offer a KM Pass which is slightly pricier but does allow you to backtrack if needed.

 

premier bus pass sydney cairns australia east coast

Premier Bus Pass Australia

Main Pass Options;

Sydney > Cairns – $350

Byron Bay > Cairns – $270

Brisbane > Cairns – $250

Valid For; 6 months

 

Greyhound Bus Pass Australia

Main Pass Options;

Melbourne > Cairns – $549

Sydney > Cairns – $445

Brisbane > Cairns (includes free return to Byron Bay) – $350

KM Passes (from 1000kms) – from $199

Valid For; 3 months (Hop On, Hop Off Passes) but extendable to 6 months or 12 months for KM Passes

 

So What’s The Difference Between Premier Bus and Greyhound Bus?

Apart form the price the main difference between Premier and Greyhound is the departures. Premier only offer a single departure per day whereas on most routes the Greyhound Bus Pass will have multiple options to choose from.

For those travelling in low season this wont be a huge deal but in peak season (especially xmas and new year) the multiple options on Greyhound can be a huge lifesaver, especially for those less organised and booking last minute!

Generally speaking the Greyhound Buses are much newer and even boast phone charging points and free wifi (although it’s limited to signal strength and is pretty slow!) – so if you’re looking for comfort then Greyhound often wins out.

The other key things to keep in mind is that Premier only run Sydney to Cairns (or the other way around) whereas Greyhound also runs from/to Melbourne as well. Sure you can also bolt a single Greyhound bus from Sydney to Melbourne onto a Premier Pass, but for convenience it’s something to keep in mind

 

Which Is Better – Premier Bus Pass or Greyhound Bus Pass?

For Budget – If budget is your main concern then the Premier Bus Pass is the cheapest way to cover the East Coast

For Ease Of Use – both options are easily managed online and you can change your travel dates through this system.

For Flexibility – Greyhound is more flexible, with multiple departure per day and the Greyhound KM Passes also allow you to backtrack and is also well worth checking out if you’re grabbing internal flights too.

 

Did you go with Premier or Greyhound?

How do you rate them?

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most famous natural wonders of the world and this huge natural structure running down the East Coast of Australia can even be seen from space!

So if you’re looking to experience the best of what The Great Barrier Reef has to offer then here are our favourite ways to enjoy it from Cairns, in Northern Queensland and our round up of the best Great Barrier Reef Tours

 

What’s The Best Way To Experience The Great Barrier Reef?

Best Great Barrier Reef Day Trips

By far the most popular way to experience the reef is a Great Barrier Reef day trip – which run out of Cairns daily (weather permitting!) and these are the best choice for those on a limited time frame but also those looking for a budget friendly way to check out the barrier reef too.

Our personal favourite for is a Great Barrier Reef day trip with the Deep Sea Divers Den – with their snorkel package coming in at $120AUD, which is great value for money. You’ll kick back on their beautiful and spacious boat, enjoy unlimited snorkelling at a variety of dive sites and feast on their lunchtime buffet.

If you’re looking for something even more memorable and have a bit of extra budget to play with then the “Get High & Dive Package” is the way to go. This epic day trip includes unlimited snorkelling, an introductory scuba dive and even a scenic helicopter flight back to Cairns – it doesn’t get much more action packed than that!

down under cruise and dive barrier reef scenic flight day trip cairns australia

 

Best Great Barrier Reef Scuba Dive Trips

For anyone interested in scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef holds heaps of appeal. For experienced divers it’s a huge bucket list tick and it’s also the ideal place to try scuba diving for the first time with an introductory scuba dive.

Again our pick of the bunch is with Deep Sea Divers Den who have a great range of dive moorings to choose from, a friendly crew and even an underwater photographer who’ll help snap your next Facebook profile picture next to Nemo!

Their dive trips include all gear, however we strongly recommend paying the extra for a dive guide – you’ll get even more out of your time underwater.

For those looking for an introductory scuba dive their crew of experienced and certified instructors will teach you all the basics needed to be safe under the ocean and guide you around. With a max depth of 12m it’s the perfect way to test out if scuba diving is for you and discover some of the amazing marine life that calls this part of Australia home.

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Learn To Scuba Dive On The Great Barrier Reef & Cairns

And of course if scuba diving is something you’re really keen on why not learn to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef and do your open water dive course in Cairns?

For those on a tighter budget you can complete your course based out of Cairns which takes 4 days and includes 2 day trips out the reef.

But if you want to go all out why not combine it with a 1 or 2 night Barrier Reef live aboard and spend a couple of nights on the reef?

Either way you’ll work your way through the theory lessons, written exam and pool skills before putting your knowledge into practice with the open water modules – on successful completion you’ll be a fully certified open water scuba diver with a world recognised certification!

Yewwwwww!

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Liveaboard On The Great Barrier Reef

For those already certified scuba divers and wanting to make the most of their time in Cairns a Great Barrier Reef Dive Liveaboard is the ultimate option – allowing you to squeeze in even more dives and even some night diving too.

Trust us, jumping into the water with a torch and surrounded by reef sharks is something you’ll never forget for all the right reasons!

If you’re really serious about diving and have the budget then a longer trip out to the Cod Hole and Ribbon Reefs is well worth the splash (pun intended!) where you’ll discover pristine dive sites, less crowds and a whole array of incredible marine life – including the famous Giant Potato Cod.

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Scenic Flight Over The Great Barrier Reef

Don’t fancy getting wet or want to check out the Great Barrier Reef from a different perspective? Well a scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef will pack your camera full of incredible photos and give you a whole new appreciation of the vast size of this natural wonder.

From a quick scenic helicopter flight to a a longer scenic aeroplane flight there are a number of options for all time frames and budgets.

Keep your eyes peeled for manta rays cruising along the currents, turtles chilling on the reefs and of course the annual whale migration too.

 

Skydive Over The Great Barrier Reef

If you like your day trips with a bit more adrenaline then why not take in views across the reef from a skydive at Mission Beach?

Available as a day trip from Cairns or of course from Mission Beach itself, it’s the most popular jump zone in Australia for a reason!

With a guaranteed beach landing and stunning views across the coastline, ocean and reef this is certainly one of our favourite bucket list items that the East Coast has to offer!

tandem skydive mission beach australia cairns

 

How are you planning to experience the Great Barrier Reef?

Which option would you recommend?

The East Coast of Australia is packed full of incredible destinations and activities so planning your trip to Australia can be pretty tough!

However to help make sure you don’t miss out on the best bits here are 15 East Coast Australia Must Do Activities that you should definitely fit into your travel plans!

 

15 East Coast Australia Must Do Activities

Learn To Surf

Australia and surfing go hand in hand – so whilst you’re travelling Australia there’s no excuse not to give it a try! Whether you just opt for a half day surf lesson in Byron Bay or go all out with a Mojo Surf Trip up the coast from Sydney or a full blown surf camp in Yamba make sure you get amongst the waves, throw some shakkas and feel the stoke!

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Surfing In Yamba

 

Sail The Whitsunday Islands

One of the most popular East Coast Australia must do activities – sailing on the Whitsundays is something you’ll never forget! Snorkel the beautiful reefs and soak up the stunning views from the Hill Inlet Lookout over Whitehaven Beach – whether you just head out on a Whitsundays day trip or jump on board an overnight Whitsundays sailing adventure this slice of Oz will pack your camera full of amazing pictures!

 

Cruise Around Fraser Island

Along with the Whitsundays, Fraser Island is the other East Coast Australia must do!

Cruise around the worlds largest sand island exploring spots like the world famous Lake Mackenzie, Indian Head Lookout and the Maheno Shipwreck.

For the most adventure a 3 day Fraser Island Camping Safari is the way to go but there are days trips and Fraser Island hostel option too.

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Cruising Around Fraser Island

 

Explore Magnetic Island

One of the most under rated stops on the East Coast, Magnetic Island is somewhere that should easily make your East Coast Australia must do list. Situated just off the coast of Townsville this amazing little island is best explored by “Barbie Car or Mote” and it’s only around 30 mins from one side of the island to the other!

Snorkel amazing beaches, take in sunset from epic lookout points, spot wild koalas or even party at the monthly Full Moon Party.

Grab one of our Magnetic Island Package deals for the easiest way to explore the island, which include return ferry transfers, accommodation, snorkel hire, welcome drink and even a koala cuddle at the Bungalow Bay YHA!

 

The Great Barrier Reef

No trip to Australia is complete without a visit the magnificent Great Barrier Reef and this epic natural wonder should be one of your top stops on the East Coast.

Cairns is the main base for a lot of Great Barrier Reef day trips but if you’re looking for less travel time and less busy snorkel spots then check out the Great Barrier Reef Trips from Mission Beach too.

For those on a budget the snorkel trips are the best value for ticking the Barrier Reef off your bucket list – but it’s also the perfect place for an Introductory Scuba dive or you can even complete your full open water dive course in Cairns too!

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Check Out The Barrier Reef

 

Scuba Dive

And talking of scuba diving, the warm tropical waters of Australia are the ideal place to give it a go for the first time – with plenty of options for introductory scuba dives or full scuba dive courses too.

And of course there are a huge array of dive sites and locations for those more experienced scuba divers as well.

Our two favourite spots for scuba diving have to be Byron Bay and The Great Barrier Reef though – with both locations offers heaps of marine life for all levels of diver.

 

Kayak with Dolphins

Everyone loves dolphins right?! Well why not hit the water and kayak alongside them in Byron Bay? This is one of the top spots in Australia for dolphin spotting and combined with a picturesque paddle around the stunning beaches of the area and an ocean view of the famous lighthouse this is certainly an East Coast Australia must do – and best of all it wont break your budget either!

 

Whale Watching (June – October)

If you’re travelling the East Coast of Australia during June to October you’ll be lucky enough to have the chance to witness the annual Humpback whale migration – with these gentle giants giving amazing displays all along the coastline.

Hervey Bay and Byron Bay are the best bets for a memorable day whale watching though – but if you’re lucky you’ll also catch them on the Barrier Reef, Whitsundays and Fraser Island too.

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Whale Watching

 

The Great Ocean Road

If you love a good road trip then the Great Ocean Road is certainly and East Coast Australia must do – the stretch of road from Melbourne to Adelaide is one of the best coastal drives in the world!

For the best experience hire a campervan and take at least 3 days to explore it, but if you’re pushed for time or on a budget check out some of the amazing Great Ocean Road day trips from Melbourne.

 

Grab A Selfie At The Sydney Opera House

No trip to Australia would be complete without a visit to the world famous Sydney Opera House and this global icon is selfie heaven!

Wander around Circular Quay for some alternative views or grab the ferry across to Manly Beach and grab some snaps from the water.

Of course if you want to splash out and treat yourself you can also check it out from the Sydney Harbour Bridget Climb too!

 

Sunsrise Or Sunset At Byron Lighthouse

Byron Bay is the most Easterly Point of Australia and the lighthouse walk is one of the best free actives that the East Coast has to offer.

Wander long the coastal path past famous surf spots like The Pass and Wategos Beach keeping an eye out for dolphins surfing in the waves along the way.

But for the best experience make sure you make it to the Byron Bay lighthouse for sunrise or sunset – it’s well worth the effort!

 

Skydive

If you want to really get your adrenaline going there’s not much that can beat jumping out of a perfectly good plane and ticking skydiving off your bucket list!

Australia has some epic skydive locations too – with Mission Beach, Airlie Beach and Byron Bay being the top pics, although skydiving Mission Beach is the most popular with amazing views along the coast and a beach landing.

tandem skydive mission beach australia cairns
Skydive Mission Beach

 

Chill In The Forest At Cape Tribulation 

The only place in the world where two world heritage sites meet – Cape Tribulation is home to the incredible Daintree Rainforest AND the Great Barrier Reef!

Wander through the forests, spot wild crocodiles and laze around on stunning beaches – whether you choose a Cape Tribulation day trip form Cairns or opt to spend a few nights up there exploring a bit more and indulging in activities like kayaking or jungle surfing it’s worth heading that bit further north for.

 

Swim In A Waterfall

Nothing quite says tropical holiday like a picture swimming in a waterfall does it?!

Well luckily Australia has heaps to choose from and you’ll be spoilt for choice all along the East Coast.

If you want to go all out though a Cairns Waterfall tour through the Atherton Tablelands visits some of the best – including the famous Milla Milla Waterfall which featured in the herbal essences hair flick advert and was even the backdrop for Peter Andres “Mysterious Girl” music video!

 

Meet The Locals

If you travel Australia and don’t take the time to chill with some of the local wildlife you’re doing something wrong – who doesn’t want to kick back with a kangaroo, come eye to eye with a crocodile, kayak with dolphins or cuddle a koala?

Tick them all off the list with a trip to the famous Australia Zoo, or visit less crowded options like Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary or Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary for an up close and personal experience with some of Australia fluffy or scaly residents!

 

Need help planning your Australia trip?

Chat to our travel experts and we’d be happy to help or simply fill out our East Coast Custom Package form and create your perfect trip!

 

Have you explored Australia?

Any other things you’d add to our East Coast Australia Must Do list?

 

Figuring out the best way to travel around New Zealand is tough call – the land of the long white cloud is an incredible place to explore and you want to make sure that you find the best option for you.

By far the most popular ways to travel around New Zealand are the Kiwi Experience and Stray NZ buses – both of which offer a variety of hop on, hop off bus passes covering the North Island, South Island or whole country.

Whether you want a short loop around the highlights of Waitomo, Taupo and Rotorua in the North, fancy exploring the famous Queenstown or Milford Sound in the South or want to spend a few months packing in as much NZ goodness as possible there’s something for everyone.

But despite their similarities the Kiwi Experience and Stray NZ boast much different personalities – so which is the best way to travel around New Zealand for you?

Kiwi Experience Or Stray NZ – What’s The Best Way To Travel Around New Zealand?

Kiwi Experience Bus Passes

The Kiwi Experience is arguably the most famous of the two backpacker hop on, hop off bus options in New Zealand and their iconic green buses have helped hundreds of thousands of travellers explore NZ.

With heaps of passes to choose from – including north island only, south island only and whole country passes it’s easy to find one that suits your time frame, start location and budget.

Hitting up all the major destinations including the likes of Queenstown, Rotorua, Taupo and Franz Josef you’ll get to discover the best of what NZ has to offer.

Best of all is the fact you have 12 months to begin your pass from the date of purchase and then 12 month to complete your route from the first day of travel – so whether you’re heading there for a few weeks or a working holiday visa it’s ideal.

Their full country passes also offer unlimited loops – so you can go again!

Kiwi don’t offer any accommodation inclusive passes (which Stray do) but you’ll benefit from heaps of accommodation deals and a guaranteed bed in each spot.

The Kiwi Experience offers some awesome party vibes throughout – so it’s the perfect option if you want to meet heaps of fellow travellers and enjoy the epic New Zealand night life in each destination…so if you’re looking for a more chilled vibe or are slightly older (25+) then maybe Stray is the better option!

Onboard tour discounts? Yes

Party centric? Yes

Guaranteed bed in overnight stops? Yes

Most inclusive passWhole Kit and Caboodle

Best For: 18-25 who like a good party

 

Stray NZ Bus Passes

In terms of setup Stray NZ is very similar to Kiwi Experience – it’s a hop on, hop off format, the passes are valid for 12 months and there are a variety of passes to choose from.

For those who want a more tour like experience Stray NZ also offer a range of Stray Journey Passes which are set travel times and also include accommodation and tours.

For us though the best thing about Stray NZ is they offer some passes covering some more off the beaten track destinations like Whakahora and Te Kaha – allowing you to discover even more of New Zealand.

They also hit up the amazing surf town of Raglan – which is one of our teams favourite places for some chilled vibes and waves.

And of course you won’t miss out on favourites like Kaikoura, Queenstown, Franz Josef and Wanaka either!

Compared to Kiwi Experience Stray NZ offers a more relaxed vibe (don’t worry there’s a good dose of party thrown in!) but it’s certainly more about exploring and experiencing New Zealand that doing shots.

Onboard tour discounts? Yes

Party centric? No (but you’ll still have heaps of fun!)

Guaranteed bed in overnight stops? Yes

Most inclusive pass – Stray Everywhere

Best For: early 20’s + who want a more relaxed experience or those looking to discover more alternative destinations.

 

Whichever option you choose – both Kiwi Experience and Stray New Zealand have some epic sales from time to time, so keep an eye out on our travel deals section for the latest offers and save even more on your New Zealand adventure!

 

Have you travelled New Zealand with Kiwi Experience or Stray NZ?

How did you find it?

Finding the best Fraser Island tour can be a tough decision – there are so many to choose from with a whole heap of options to suit every style and of course budget!

So to make things a bit easier for you we’ve put together a quick breakdown of the best Fraser Island tours – so you can find the one that’s perfect for you!

What’s The Best Fraser Island Tour?

Fraser Island Camping Tours

One of the most popular ways to see Fraser Island is an overnight camping tour. These tag along 4×4 tours allow you to get behind the wheel and drive around this awesome island, which makes them the best Fraser Island tour for adventure!

After a fun day of exploring everything that Fraser Island has to offer you’ll head to the permanent campsites on the island, kick back around the BBQ, sip a cold beer (or most likely some glasses of goon!) and enjoy the incredible night sky.

Available in 3 day/2 night options you have a few companies to choose from – including Pippies, Dingos and Nomads Fraser Island.

If you want the all out Fraser Island camping tour our top pick would be Pippies, with its awesome vibes and great location – however it departs Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri and Sat so you’ll need to make sure that fits into your time schedule.

Dingos on the other hand offers a very similar style tour, but does add the extra flexibility of daily (except December 23rd/25th/30th and 1st Jan). Group sizes are slightly bigger, which is great for availability too.

Both Pippies and Dingos start in Rainbow Beach and you can easily tag on some pre and post trip accommodation at their associated hostels their too.

Nomads Fraser Island offer a bit more flashpacker camping luxury at their legendary tipi campsite within Eurong Beach Resort. More comfortable than the other camping options it also means you have access to all the facilities of the Beach Resort – including the on site bar.

The Nomads trip departs from Noosa, which makes it the perfect option for anyone looking for a short Fraser Island Package (you can fly into Brisbane, get a bus to Noosa and then head back to Brisbane).

Fraser Island Hostel Tours

If camping isn’t your thing and you want a more comfortable Fraser Island experience then there are a couple of options to choose from too.

Departing from Rainbow Beach or Hervey Bay the overnight Fraser Explorer hostel options are a  2 day/1 night option, however unlike the camping tours these aren’t tag along 4×4 format – instead you’re driven around in an epic all terrain tour bus.

Great if you want to kick back and just enjoy the ride but it does lack the adventure the other options offer.

If you want the full 4×4 tag along tour experience combined with hostel accommodation then the best choice is Nomads Fraser Island.

As with their camping options this departs from Noosa and you’ll be kicking back in Eurong Beach Resort – making it the best Fraser Island tour for adventure with an added level of comfort.

It runs year round as a 3 day/2 night option on Tues, Thurs and Sat or as a 2 day/1 night option between Dec and April departing on Wed and Sat.

nomads fraser island tour 2 days rainbow beach noosa australia east coast

Fraser Island Day Trips

If you’re pushed for time or simply don’t fancy staying overnight on Fraser Island then a day trip is a great way to quickly pack in the highlights.

The two most popular options for day trips to Fraser Island are Cool Dingos and Fraser Explorer – with our personal favourite being Fraser Explorer.

However with all the day trips you’ll be in a 4×4 tour bus rather than tag along tour format, so you lack some of the adventure.

These day trips are a great back up option if availability is full on the overnight options (especially for peak season or last minute bookings!) departing from Rainbow Beach and Hervey Bay everyday.

fraser island day trip fraser explorer rainbow beach hervey bay east coast australia

Best Value Fraser Island Tour

So out of all the options which is the best Fraser Island tour when it comes to value for money?

Obviously if budget is the key thing the day trips are the cheapest at around $170, however if you’re wanting the full adventure experience our pick would be the overnight options, especially if you add in the discounted pre and post tour accommodation packages.

Pippies is the best value and comes in at just $417, or $469 with 1 night pre and post tour accommodation – which includes food, tent, 4×4, guide and pretty much everything you need. However if you aren’t travelling with a sleeping bag it an extra $10 to hire one for the trip.

Hopefully our mini guide will help you choose the best Fraser Island tour for your style and budget – have an awesome time!

And check out our full range of Fraser Island Tours here.

Have you visited Fraser Island?

Which company did you use and how did you find it?

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Having the reputation of New Zealand’s favorite visitor destination, Queenstown offers its stunning scenery and wide range of activities. It is a natural playground for all your adrenaline-fueled adventures!

Queenstown is also one of the major stops on the Stray New Zealand and Kiwi Experience bus passes which will make your trip more entertaining.
It is a home to a huge choice of blood-pumping activities like skiing which is particularly visited by tourists during snowboard season from June to October.
Journey through the Queenstown’s amazing landscapes and cool waters. Push yourself to the limits whether you like it mild or wild!

Here’s the top 10 things can you do in Queenstown that will sure give you an epic adventure.

 

AJ Hackett Bungy Jumping

Queenstown is the home of bungy jumping which started the worldwide phenomenon since 1988. The AJ Hackett bungy jump – a New Zealand original – is on the top of adrenaline junkies’ travel goals.
This extreme Queenstown experience lets you perform numerous styles of bungy jumps in stunning NZ sceneries from a platform situated as high as 400m above the city itself. Those bungy jump styles include standard jumps, spins and flips. The locals will even present you a “Jump Menu” so you can freely choose your own twists and turns.

There is currently three bungy jumping sites offering different outlook, including the famous and all-original site at the bridge above Kawarau River, although the Nevis Bungy is easily the most popular and extreme!

 

Tandem Skydiving

A Tandem skydive in Queenstown provides an inherent rush as you freefall from a plane soaring as high as 15,000 feet. During the drop, you will reach speed of up to 200 kilometer per hour as the stunning panorama of Queenstown unfolds right in front of your eyes.
The skydiving operator NZONE definitely knows their stuff so you will surely get your feet back on to solid ground. They also help the first-timer skydivers to feel safe for this thrilling adventure. Prove that you actually jumped with a photo or video package professionally taken to serve as a reminder of your once-or-twice in a lifetime Queenstown experience.

 

White Water Rafting

This water adventure is another Queenstown original ever since 1974. It is an activity no one should not miss, no matter what your age!
Queenstown offers a number of rafting spots with different kinds of rapids that anyone will surely enjoy. Top of the list is the most popular Shotover River boasting with a peaceful waters toward exhilarating rapids. A journey to Skippers Canyon is already an adventure in itself. Kawarau River, on the other hand, is ideal for first-time rafters providing stunning scenery and the longest commercially rafted rapid, the 400m Dog Leg. In fact, Kawarau starred as the River Anduin in the film Lord of the Rings.
The best thing about Queenstown white water rafting is that there’s no experience needed! But fret not, New Zealand’s largest rafting operator is internationally recognized for the high level of safety and standards it provides. So first time rafters can still enjoy this thrilling adventure – in fact, 80% of backpackers heading this way have never rafted before.

 

Skiing

With Queenstown being New Zealand’s premier ski and winter holiday destination, there is no better place to enjoy it than in this town. There are wide range of off-slope activities which gets more awesome with pristine alpine lake and mountainous environment.
Its leading ski fields – the Treble Cone Ski Area which is the largest, Coronet Peak Ski Area which allows night skiing, Remarkables Ski Area with dedicated area for beginners, and Cardrona Alpine Resort which offers something for everyone – also houses world class infrastructures.
Queenstown’s vibe and nightlife can replenish your energy even before you plan your next backcountry ski.

 

Shotover Jet Boat

A trip to New Zealand is not totally complete without a jet boating experience. It is the world’s ultimate jet boat experience delighting millions of visitors since 1965.

The most popular jet boat is the Shotover Jet that will take you deep into the rugged Shotover River Canyons at a speed of 10cm deepwater. Your expert driver will help your adrenaline rush as you ride into this breathtaking drive.
You’ll feel the rush as the jet boat whips the rocky ridges and glide around crags and rocks before performing its famous 360 degree spins, sending spray everywhere!

 

Hiking at Bob’s Peak

Right at the center of Queenstown is Bob’s Peak which has a variety of activities to do while taking in the stunning views. To get up Bob’s Peak, you can either hike through the Tiki Trail (which will take about 45-60 minutes) or the Skyline Gondola (which looks like a cable car).
After reaching Bob’s Peak, you will find your typical souvenir shop, a café and restaurant. There is also an observatory deck with binoculars for everyone to get the view of the sunset.

However, you have to make sure that you are early to get a nice viewing spot as the deck gets jam-packed!
Aside from epic adventures, the other reason why people go to Queenstown is for its spectacular sceneries. Its breathtaking view will surely leave you awe-inspired.

 

Skyline Gondola

Queenstown has the Skyline Gondola for you for a quick and comfortable way of getting the best views at the best vantage points. You wouldn’t want to miss the spectacular 220 degree panorama along the way which includes views of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables mountain range, Lake Wakatipu and Cecil and Walter Peaks.
The Luge is also a great way to spend an afternoon (especially if you’re travelling with kids) which starts in an area with a chairlift which can take you back from the hill after you’ve reached the bottom.

Heaps of fun for all ages!

 

Helicopter Flights

Soak up the full beauty of Queenstown with a scenic helicopter flight (they even offer heli-tours!) and hang gliding while others who want to take it to the next level can either sky dive, parapent or do an aerobatic flight!
Whatever aerial activities you wish to do, do it definitely from the sky above Queenstown and you’ll enjoy incredible aerial view of its lakes, mountains and towns.

 

Milford Sound Return Transfers and Cruise

Being one of the World Heritage Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is undoubtedly known for its pristine beauty and peaceful ambiance (extending from 15 km inland Tasman Sea). It is the only NZ fiord or narrow inlet between cliffs which is accessible thru cars. Penguins, seals and dolphins also come to greet tourists paying a visit.
This fiord sports two waterfalls: the Lady Bowen and Stirling Falls. However, after heavy rains, hundreds of temporary waterfalls can be seen.

Although a solid drive from Queenstown this is one of the most popular day trips to do from here.

 

Get a Fergburger

Fergburger is the only thing in our list that is not even about adventures or destinations but food. It is now New Zealand’s tourist attraction itself (and a part of the city’s tradition) with its hand-made burger with daily fresh produce!

Locally known as Ferg’s, the burger joint is full of customers queing up every opening hour and eagerly wait for around an hour at peak hours for a feed – they are even open 21 hours a day!
Recommended Ferg is the Chief Wiggum (pork belly) burger or the vegetarian Bun Laden. Other variant includes Southern Swine (beef, bacon, avocado), Codfather (cod), Holier than Thou (tofu), Little Lamby (Prime New Zealand lamb, mint jelly, lettuce, tomato, red onion, alioli, tomato relish), and Sweet Bambi (Wild Fiordland deer with a Thai plum chutney, lettuce, tomato, red onion, alioli).

With prices ranging from NZ$11-NZ$18 every Fergburger is also definitely Instagram-worthy!

 

Renowned for its adventure sports and majestic sceneries, Queenstown is one of the tourist destinations all over the world. It may seem like a small town but there is so much vibe and energy in this city.

Queenstown will no doubt be a highlight of your time in New Zealand so pencil in a good few days to make the most of what it has to offer

New Zealand is the adventure capital of the World. It is a country known for its abundant landscapes, friendly locals, and tender lamb! Each NZ destination is a spectacular place to see.

And choosing how to travel around this beautiful country is as important as choosing where to go – so, check out the 6 best ways to see and experience the land of the long white cloud — New Zealand.

 

Intercity

A two-in-one passenger transport and tourism company, Intercity operates New Zealand’s largest bus network and has been going for more than 30 years – connecting more than 600 destinations nationwide with 130 services daily.

Intercity is one of the country’s lowest cost transport network, with bus fares starting from only $1 (plus booking fee) and you can easily book trips online and the earlier you book, the cheaper it is. Buses are all equipped with wi-fi (free of charge), which is an added bonus!

They also offer flexible saver packs including InterCity FlexiPass and InterCity TravelPass for your total freedom to explore the national network at discounted rates.

Best for: Medium budget / alternative routes / bolt on travel

 

Kiwi Experience

Dubbed as New Zealand’s backpacker network and running for 25 years, the Kiwi Experience bus passes offer flexible, guided travel in a hop on hop off style. You’ll get to travel alongside your fellow backpackers and meet some new travel buddies – especially in the 18-25 age range.

Kiwi Experience has 6 main pass types to choose from with something for every style, time frame and of course budget:

  • Start anywhere/finish anywhere
  • Start Auckland, finish Christchurch
  • Start Christchurch, finish Auckland
  • North Island only
  • South Island only
  • Whole country passes.

The bus drivers are friendly, too! They’ll be chatting about what you can get up to, booking your succeeding trips, and even helping you with your accommodation – with your first night in each stop guranateeed.

Though not the cheapest option, Kiwi Experience bus comes with a lot of discounts and route options. Who knows maybe you can catch a bigger pass on a cheap price when it comes out on sale – so keep an eye on our Kiwi Experience deal page!

Best for: Flexible and longer stays / solo and young-gap backpackers / people wanting to meet new people and discovering new routes / partygoers looking for an enjoyable nightlife

 

Stray New Zealand

“Take off the beaten path.”

That’s just how Stray New Zealand ethos works, immersing you into few different destinations alongside the major ones.

They have a range of authentic activities to do in NZ like a farm stay experience, a wild stop-over on Stewart Island, and a night in the country’s highest mountain – all of which are exclusive to Stray New Zealand.

Much like the Kiwi Experience their drivers also serves as your local “guidebook” providing their own insights on New Zealand’s history and culture.

Stray’s hop on hop off passes are valid for 12 months and during these months, you can re-travel and revisit your favorite spots in its operated routes – perfect for those who aren’t sure where they want to go but have a good chunk of time to play with.

It also comes in smaller group size of 24 for more intimate setting for you to meet fellow travelers and eventually, life-long friends. 

Age wise Stray New Zealand attracts a slightly older age range than Kiwi (think 25 rather than 18!) but it’ll still be packed full of heaps of fun and good vibes!

Best for: Flexible and longer stays / solo, mature backpackers / people wanting to meet new people and discovering new routes

 

Naked Bus

This bus company is the middle ground between backpackers’ network and Intercity. It promises the art of ‘stripping the cost of travel’. They are labeled as the Greyhound of New Zealand.

Naked Bus passes through 320 towns, once or twice daily throughout New Zealand. The only day they don’t operate is during Christmas Day – so no matter when you’re travelling there will be a bus to grab!

Their fares are starting at $1 per journey but they have the “first in, gets the cheapest deal” policy. Cheap seats are sold first so you have to be quite fast to get the best fare available.

The company also offers a travel pass called Nakedpassport which is on a per 5 trip basis and is valid for 12 months – it doesn’t include activities and tours so you have to purchase it as an add-ons. However, they will give you a discount depending on the activity or tour you are going to do.

Naked Bus also introduced Nakedbus Sleeper, the country’s first lie flat bed on a bus. You can get the offer thru Nakedsleep.com which offers beds from $15 per person per night (plus booking fee).

Best for: solo, mature backpackers / people looking for variety of routes / flexible and longer stay / bolt-on travel

 

Campervan

There’s no freer and more satisfying feeling than taking off the long road and having all the facilities you need when travelling.

Stopping off where you want and when you want through a campervan gives you a more authentic and fulfilling travel experience. It won’t limit you from the box of planning too much prior to a trip (well, planning your driving itinerary is a different story!) and you’re not tied to the schedule of buses nor tours.

But this freedom comes at a price and is actually can be one of the more expensive options to go with, especially for a longer trip.

Also, take note of the temperatures in New Zealand during winter time. In addition to campervan’s common facilities, you also have to hire heaters from the companies.

And above all, don’t forget to pass on “camperaderie” to others campervanning!

Best for: Medium to high budget / small groups or families / people looking for alternative routes / people looking for a bit more adventure

 

Car Hire

Renting a car in New Zealand still gives you the flexibility of a campervan but without the added cost. It would give you the freedom of spontaneously stopping off at an interesting place and be able to go to another anytime you want.

However, hiring a car in NZ requires that you are 21 years old and a holder of a valid international driver’s license. You should also understand New Zealand’s road rules – so read up and make sure you stick to the correct side of the road!

Car hire is perfect for going to New Zealand on a budget. It is not expensive and is more common during the months of March to April when most travelers come and go.

Best for: medium to high budget / small groups / people looking for alternative routes and shorter trips

 

No matter what option you choose for travel in New Zealand there are heaps of activities to pack your itinerary with – caving, zorbing, dolphin tour, bungy jumping, skydiving, surfing, white water rafting, black water rafting, heli hike, and hobbiton movie set tour – take your pick!

 

The East Coast of Australia is one of the most popular travel routes on the planet – with heaps of backpackers and travellers travelling between Sydney and Cairns…or from Melbourne too!

But what are the must see destinations that you should stop off at along the East Coast route?

Well we’ve put together our East Coast Mini Guide which runs through some of the top spots and why you should pencil them into your travel plans!

 

Melbourne

This cafe culture city is a hub for big international events – including the Melbourne Cup, Australian Tennis Open and F1 Championship. But when you’re not busy watching on the big screen in Fed Square take the time to explore the amazing street art, tram lines and St Kilda Beach. For those looking for even more to keen themselves busy a day trip to Philip Islands Penguin Parade or a road trip along the Great Ocean Road is a must!

 

Sydney

Often confused as the capital of Australia (that’s Canberra incase you didn’t know!) Sydney has some of the most icon destinations in Oz. Wander around Circular Quay and get your snaps of the stunning views over the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, hit the beach at Bondi or escape the city to the Blue Mountains.

 

Yamba

Yamba is one of the bets kept travel secrets in Australia and this sleepy little surf town is a great additional stop of you have some more time to play with! Wit pumping surf, amazing beaches and some incredible beach walks it’s the ideal place for some downtime. Make sure you head to Yamba YHA and say hi to Shane to owner…he’s a total legend!

 

Byron Bay

Byron is all about the laid back beach lifestyle, so get ready to kick off your shoes and enjoy everything ocean based! Whale watching, dolphin kayaking, surf lessons and scuba diving are all great ways to spend your days in the Bay or for those who want a bit more adrenaline skydiving over Australias most Easterly Point is incredible!

And of course you can slow the pace down even more with a  day trip to Nimbin 😉

 

The Gold Coast

Often referred to as the Miami of Australia spots like Surfers Paradise on the Goldie are full of all the glitz and glam of city life with skyscraper lining the beach front.If shopping isn’t your thing then the range of theme parks here has something for everyone!

 

Brisbane

Brissie is a popular spot for those looking to stop off and find some work midway up the East Coast and the capital of Queensland proximity to spots like the Gold Coast, Byron and Noosa make it a great base. If you’re spending some time here make sure you head out and see the ship wrecks on Moreton Island, one of the best snorkelling sites in Australia!

 

Noosa

Incredible beaches, more laid back surfer vibes – Noosa is another stop which takes full advantage of the Aussie beach life! Get in amongst nature and explore the Noosa Everglades on a canoe tour and witness some spectacular sunsets over the estuary.

 

Rainbow Beach

One of the main gateway to Fraser Island Rainbow Beach also has heaps to see and do! Whether you’re kitesurfing, whale watching or skydiving if you have some extra time to play with check it out!

 

Fraser Island

One of the must do bucket list items in Australia, Fraser Island is the worlds largest sand island – so what better way to explore it than cruising around in a 4×4 through the rainforest and beach? Spots like Lake Mackenzie, Champagne Pools, and the Maheno Wreck will pack your camera full of awesome pics!

 

Airlie Beach

As the departure point for the Whitsunday Island Airlie Beach boasts and incredible nightlife! If you’re relaxing pre or post sailing adventure a scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef or day kayaking around the bay is the way to go, or just chill out by the free lagoon swimming pool with your travel buddies!

 

The Whitsunday Islands

Another one of the big bucket list items in Australia, The Whitsunday Islands are all about finding a tropical paradise! With heaps of sailing adventures to choose from – from party boats to scuba diving – you’ll check out spots like Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet Lookout and snorkel some incredible spots on the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

 

Magnetic Island

Just off the coast of Townsville is Magnetic Island and with its abundance of wild koalas and friendly rock wallabies it’s a great spot to relax and meet some of the unique wildlife that calls Australia home!

 

Mission Beach

If you’re looking to skydive in Australia then Mission Beach is the perfect place to do it! With views across the Great Barrier Reef and Australis only beach landing it’s not hard to see why! If you’re staying longer take a trip to Dunk Island for some epic snorkelling or hit the Tully River for some White Water Rafting!

 

Cairns

As the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef Cairns is one of the biggest dive spots in Australia! So if you’re looking to complete your Open Water Dive Course or and Introductory Dive this is the spot! For those who want some non diving fun get your adrenaline on the go with a bungy jump or head north to explore Cape Tribulation for the day. Or if you’ve had a big night out at the Woolshed or Gilligans maybe just relax by the waterfront lagoon pool and have a BBQ!

 

The Great Barrier Reef

No trip to Oz is complete without checking out the Great Barrier Reef – one of the natural wonders of the world! Join a snorkel day trip, give scuba diving a go with an intro dive or go all out with an overnight dive boat in search of Nemo! Get into the big blue and find explore some more of he underwater world.

 

Cape Tribulation

Just north of Cairns lies Cape Tribulation – unique in the fact it’s where two world heritage sites meet, The Daintree Rainforest and The Great Barrier Reef. Enjoy the waterfalls, join a crocodile river cruise or go for a scenic walk through the rainforest – it’s a stunning part of Australia!

 

Have you travelled East Coast Australia?

Any stops you’d add in?

 

Lets face it one of the suckiest things about travelling is the packing. Trying to condense your life possessions into a neat bundle and cram it all into a rucksack is nothing short of stressful!

And within seconds of checking into a hostel you bag has magically exploded across the room and you’ll no doubt find yourself hungover and rushing to shove everything back in before the 10am checkout time or your overnight bus.

So how can you make packing easier? And more importantly what should you be packing?

Well lucky for you we’ve got years of experience on the road…so here’s some handy tips to help make it that little bit less chaotic

 

Half The Stuff, Twice The Money

It’s a massively over used tip but it’s still the best one in the book! Lay all your stuff out on the bed and half it…simple as! Then find a way to take twice the money!hahaha!

Seriously though on the road you’ll quickly find you barely use a lot of your kit and you’re lugging it around ‘just in case’ – so if it’s a maybe make it into a no!

 

Packing Cubes

These things are awesome for keeping stuff organised and not having to rummage through and throw all your clothing onto the floor to find a pair of socks! Take a spare one too to chuck all your dirty clothes into too which will make laundry day heaps easier!

 

Suitcase Style Bag

Swopping from a top loading rucksack to one that opens flat like a suitcase is a simple yet epic move – suddenly all the contents are easily accessible (even more so if it’s in packing cubes!) and you can see exactly where everything is. No more elbow deep, blind rummaging for your toothbrush!

 

Go On Bag Size Bigger (or pack less!)

A lot of people make the mistake of packing their bag to the brim…totally forgetting that along the way you’ll probably want to buy some stuff to take home – clothes, trinkets, random stuff….

Grab the next size up and give yourself some extra room to make packing easier and some space to accumulate some stuff along the way!

 

Roll Don’t Fold!

It might sound stupid but this tip has helped us heaps! Rolling your clothes is waaaaaaaay easier and quicker! Not only that but your stuff will end up less creased too….not that that really matters though, you’re backpacking after all!

 

Dry Bag

Probably the best investment we’ve made on the road! A simple 10 litre dry bag is amazing for day trips to the beach, boats and anything else that involves water, not only that though but you can use it to hold wet stuff too – there’s nothing worse than having  wet towel or boardies/bikini to pack just before a flight or journey…whacking them in your dry bag means you can go for that last minute dip no worries!

 

Side Pockets

Sometime people just don’t think when they pack, we’re all guilty of it! Ever wondered where that plug adaptor was and have to spend 20minutes rummaging through everything?! Yeah us too!

So make use of the side pockets on your bag – stuff you need quick access to like your toothbrush, chargers, reservation vouchers – keep them there so they’re quickly to hand when you need them!

 

Have you got any awesome travel packing tips you’ve discovered?

Pass them on!

Learning to scuba dive is an amazing bucket list item to tick off on your travels – the world is over 70% water after all!

So if you’re trying to decide where in the world to complete your open water course or next dive certification we’ve put together this quick guide to help you figure out which location is best for you…

 

Best For Budget – Koh Tao

Without a doubt Koh Tao in Thailand is the cheapest place to complete your PADI or SSI Open Water Dive Course.

Packages are range from £180-200 depending and often include accommodation too – even more of a bargain!

This famous Thai island is a popular spot with backpackers due to this – with a variety of dive centres to choose from offering a full range of courses up to divemaster and instructor.

When you’re not busy diving there’s a wide range of activities to do – whether you fancy kayaking, island hopping or just kicking back at a beach bar with a cold beer!

If you’re looking to learn to dive on Koh Tao check out our dive courses here.

 

Best For Experience – Great Barrier Reef Liveaboard

If you’re looking for our personal recommendation on where and how to complete your open water dive course you can’t get much better than completing it on a Great Barrier Reef Liveaboard!

Based out of Cairns you’ll complete your theory and pool modules on the mainland before heading out to the Great Barrier Reef for a min of 2 days and 1 night to complete your open water dives. So not only will you complete your dive course and become certified but you’ll also get the opportunity to sleep overnight on the Great Barrier Reef – an amazing experience in itself!

It comes with a bit of a higher price tag than just completing it as day trips (around $705AUD all in) but it’s well worth the extra cash and then that also covers your meal and accommodation on the boat too.

For more information check out our Great Barrier Reef Liveaboards here.

 

Best In Australia

We’re tied between two locations for completing your open water dive course in Australia. Firstly is Cairns as you get to dive on the Great Barrier Reef – which is amazing as…well…it’s the Great Barrier Reef!

A budget dive course here where you complete your open water modules on two day trips to the reef is around $625AUD.

For those who want to learn to scuba dive as they head up the East Coast our other favourite is Byron Bay. This amazing beachside town is full of barefoot living and good vibes – and the scuba diving here is incredible too!

You’ll complete your course out at Julian Rocks Marine Reserve and depending on the season you’ll have the opportunity to swim alongside Grey Nurse Sharks, Manta Rays and Leopard sharks along with the array of other awesome marine life that calls this spot home.

The Bryon Bay Dive Courses also allow you to complete your theory work online before arriving, so the whole thing only takes 3 days instead of 4 – ideal for those who want more time to explore Byron (an amazing spot for learning to surf) or who don’t have heaps of time to travel around Australia.

For more information on Great Barrier Reef dive courses click here and for Byron Bay dive courses click here.

 

If you need any help figuring out where to complete your open water dive course drop us an email or chat to our travel experts on our live chat and we’d be happy to help!

Bondi Beach, Australia

So you’ve decided to start your adventure in Australia:  amazing!  Australia has an abundance of opportunities when it comes to travel, adventure, finding friends, finding yourself and earning some money!

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

Points mean prizes

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

Join the club

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

Knowledge is power

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

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

 

airport

Airports are a dangerous and powerful nemesis to your wallet. Even after forking out cash for your flight tickets, the subsequent spell spent inside the airport as you wait for your plane can rack up monumental costs. When you get slightly peckish you’re breaking £20 notes for a single mouthful, and when you get bored you go and blow your holiday allowance on arcade games and slot machines.

Remember, airport expenditure is not a cost-effective habit to slip into, so here are our top tips for saving pennies at the airport.

Bring your own entertainment

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and there’s definitely no scenario where time needs to fly faster than a dragging wait in the airport. An airport knows this, and it’ll try and lure you into all the fun it can offer, but at a heavy price. Stay away from the arcade games and put that crime novel back on the shelf. You should instead prepare for this duration of boredom during your packing session. Stick a book from home in your hand luggage or bring your iPad along and just play Angry Birds.

Steer clear of WiFi fees

Surely you’re in the airport to catch a subsequent flight that will take you away from your emails and Facebook account? Well let’s start this new habit early and avoid tempting WiFi fees. Often you’ll find WiFi in airport cafes or bars, naturally you’ll buy a couple of drinks and next thing you know ‘Bam!’, mortgage required.

Don’t pack overweight

A true holidaying classic – the overweight suitcase. Not only will you spend the next ten minutes deciding whether your large pot of mousse or your sixth pair of shoes will spend the next chapter of its life in an airport bin, if you can’t get below the required weight you’ll be hit with a fine. So get culling before you leave for the airport. Back light!

Stay away from potential souvenirs

This is another textbook airport scenario. You’ve forgotten to get your neighbour a present to say thanks for watering the geraniums whilst you were away. Thankfully the airport houses 54 souvenir shops all selling the same tack you could have got for a third of the price from the shop next door to your hotel. Think about your neighbours and geraniums early and get those souvenirs sorted pre-airport.

Don’t buy the food

If possible try and consume any food before or after your spell in the airport. Food in airports is accompanied by astronomical prices and let’s be fair, usually it is pretty unsatisfactory. I recall one incident I had in Buenos Aires airport – I had to resort to my Visa Debit to purchase a solitary Pain au chocolat, once seated and ready to enjoy my snack I found there wasn’t a single trace of chocolate within the innards of the pastry. As far as I was concerned this had ruined my entire trip and I’ve had a derogatory view of French pastries ever since.

Exchange your money before

Exchange rates are always going to work against you in airports. Get down your local post office before you head away and you’ll find you get a better exchange rate there. Use the same tactic for your return. Oh, and make sure you have a little bit of your own country’s currency for your return airport visit, just in case of emergency. Don’t leave yourself open to a panic currency exchange.

Get your essentials elsewhere

There is always something you’ll forget to pack. Whether it is the toothbrush, your swimming shorts or earplugs, there will always be something you need to get. But don’t give in to the convenience of the airport shop network; wait until you’ve made it to your destination. Most countries in the world sell toothbrushes, swimming shorts and earplugs.

So there’s some of our advice for chasing away those airport fees, if you need a little more inspiration check out these airport money saving tips.

 Do you have any other tips to save money at the airport?

We all know how it goes. You’ve spent months, maybe even years (or a few hours in transit, no judgement) thinking about all those precious dollars you have for your travels. You want them to last as long as possible, to be stretched to their very limit over the course of your trip. Fast forward a month or two and suddenly you’re re-assessing. Where’s all your money gone? You swear your bank account was looking a whole lot fatter than it is now. Where did this lean, mean bank account come from??

Even the best-laid budgets can fall by the wayside, but you don’t have to suffer through that. Here’s my top budget ruin-ers, based on way too many mistakes on my part. Learn away!

One For The Road

beer_toast-912

So you’ve budgeted for food, congratulations! But have you budgeted for alcohol? Most of the party hard people will probably be nodding their heads thinking, “Hell yeah I have, budget thought numero uno!” If you haven’t, definitely do that RIGHT NOW! Even if you’re ‘not really thing party type’ it’s still worth getting that into the budget because believe me, people change on the travel circuit.

If you have budgeted for alcohol, well done. But what about water? I’m a big fan of travelling in Asia, and one thing I’m always blown away by (hey, I made this mistake too) is that people don’t budget for buying bottled water. In most Asian countries tap water is not drinkable, so you really have to beef up your daily budget to keep yourself hydrated. Annoying? Maybe. But for Asia, totally worth it!

 

Research, Research, Research!

So you’ve heard a whole lot from everyone who has travelled to this place you’re going about how damn cheap everything is. Awesome. You can totally stay everywhere for $5 including breakfast, and food? That’s basically free!

Hold up.

There’s nothing travellers love more than telling stories of the cheap destinations they go to, and then exaggerating that tiny little bit extra. Don’t just listen to your friends. Get a third, fourth or even fifth opinion from somewhere reputable, like the internet. Well, maybe not reputable, but at least you get a wide range of opinions, and there has to be somebody telling the truth in all that madness.

 

Laid-Back Travel

Maybe you do want to stay at places that are $5 a night including breakfast. If that’s the case, be ready to accept what $5 a night means. In most places (but not all) it doesn’t mean a villa on the rice fields or a bungalow with a front step straight to the beach. It probably means something a little bit more modest, and probably nothing luxurious at all. I know people who seek out these places and enjoy them (I’m one of them). But if that’s your budget don’t go on a rage about how your bathroom tap leaks or your floor tiles are uneven. Welcome to budget living.

 

Where To Now?

travel

At some point in your travels, you’re going to throw away one travel idea for another. If you’re a super organised traveller, this might mean losing money on an airfare/bus ticket/activity that you’d pre-booked. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do this for the sake of your budget. As far as I’m concerned this is what travel is all about (probably why I rarely book in advance).

Even if you’re not super organised and you haven’t booked in advance, this new travel idea might end up costing more than you’d budgeted for. Does this mean you shouldn’t do it? Well, if you’re smart, no. And why is that? That is because smart people always OVER budget, so when the opportunity comes to do wild stuff (and possibly make some bad decisions) they have the coinage to accomplish that. Moral of the story, the shoestring is great, but have a little tucked away for a crazy day.

Have you had any travel experiences that have ruined your budget? Let us know in the comments below!

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

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

The classic backpack

backpacks

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

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

The backpack with wheels

backpack with wheels

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

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

 

The suitcase

suitcase

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

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

 

The satchel

satchel

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

Mon has already chatted through some great ways to start saving for your backpacker travels – but what about once you’re on the road?

Yup money will be at the fore front of your mind through all your adventures, but if you manage it and are sensible there’s no reason that it should ruin your mood!

I’ve been on the road for a few years now so I’ve picked up a few handy tips for saving money – so here’s 5 of my top tips for saving whilst you’re on the road…

Last Minute Deals

Last minute travel deals are a great way to keep your bank balance healthy whilst bouncing around. Things like standby rates on trips and accommodation are more common than you think so keep an eye out.

If time is on your side being flexible enough to accommodate a few days waiting around for a spot to open up can soon let the savings mount up.

travel planning
Proper Preparation…

 

Pre Booking

On the flip side of waiting until the last minute is pre booking things, which is something Sam mention with her pre travel tips. When I left for Australia I knew I wanted to complete my PADI dive course on the barrier reef from Cairns.  Having this all paid upfront nearly 9months before I even landed meant it was a huge cost out of mind and I could simply turn up and enjoy the whole thing as it then didn’t form part of my budget.

Pre booking some things like bus passes also means you can take advantage of sales as they come up – take the Kiwi Experience for example, they quite often offer up to 50% off their bigger passes if you pre book…now that’s some serious discount!

 

Creating A Budget – And Sticking To It!

Having a solid budget always allows you to save on the road, it reigns in your drinking, makes you think twice about big spends and generally means you spend your money wisely.

Sticking to that budget on the other hand can be a bit more troublesome! It’s easy to say it doesn’t matter if you go over but it can quickly mount up.

A handy thing I’ve started doing is taking out your weekly spend in cash and keeping half in my wallet and half in my bag, that way I know exactly where I stand budget wise. If i over do it one day, I simply take it off of the next days spend. The trick is being strict with yourself!

 

Discount Cards

Sure a card that saves you a dollar everytime you spend heaps of money may sound like a waste of time – but on trip of a few months or more those savings can really add up and you’d be surprised how quickly they can snowball!

Whether it’s a hostel chain card, supermarket card, cram your wallet with some plastic and let the savings build up.

 

Group Together

One of the simplest things to do to save you money is bulk buying and grouping together. If a group of you want to do a tour approach them and negotiate a deal if you all book in one hit.

The same goes for booking two or more activities, there’s no harm in asking for a discount if you book them all in one go, whats the worse that could happen!?

If you plan on staying in a hostel for a while too ask if they offer a weekly rate or if they’ll cut you a deal for a longer stay – most hostel will be happy to reduce your room rate by a few dollars per night – happy days all round!

 

Any of you guys picked up some great ways to save on the road? Share the love and help your backpacker brethren out!

It’s a common problem affecting the best of us – your bank balance is not as healthy as you would like it to be – but this does absolutely nothing to negate your burning desire to get away from it all with one of the last minute deals that you find online. You’re not alone and that’s why we have compiled a checklist of ways to ensure that you are ready to rock at a moment’s notice…

 

Time off

Unless you work in the rare kind of place where the HR guy isn’t a complete tyrant, you will need to make sure that you have booked the time off well in advance – normally at least two weeks. Booking the time off doesn’t mean that you also need to book the holiday. As the time approaches, lie in wait and keep a close eye on those websites to find the best deal for the dates that you have off work.

 

Vaccinations

Depending on where you are planning on going, it is probably worth checking whether or not you will have to pay your doctor a visit to get some vaccinations. If you are off to more tropical climes you will need to make sure you have up-to-date typhoid, tetanus, polio, diphtheria and hepatitis A jabs, plus it is possible that you will need malaria tablets. Although it is cheaper to visit your GP for these, if you are really pressed for time, you can visit a travel clinic where you will pay more, but get the jabs faster.

 

Visas

This won’t be a worry if you only plan on holidaying in Europe but again, if you plan on snapping up a deal to somewhere more exotic then you will need to check what the visa restrictions are. If you are off to the USA, you can get your ESTA visa granted online in minutes; others you will be able to get upon arrival to the country as long as you aren’t staying more than 30 days. However, some countries like India and Vietnam are far stricter and may require a trip to the Embassy. Make sure you are informed before you go ahead and book anything to avoid being sent home as soon as you arrive!

 

Pre-pack

If you are King or Queen of the last minute deal then you are probably one step ahead of us already and have that case packed! Those who aren’t so organised could at least make sure that their case is loaded up with all the travel toiletries that you will need and a list of what to pack should you book something which means you only have hours to get packed and get to the airport.

 

Money

Hopefully you have been putting aside the funds for a while now in order to pay. It’s a good idea to keep your holiday fund separate from your day-to-day funds so that you don’t spend it elsewhere and then have to whack the last minute holiday on your credit card. Keep that holiday fund topped up and ready to go!

RTW travel airport tipsNobody really likes airports.

Travellers and backpackers might say they do, but in the end although airports represent the start of a new adventure, they’re really just a purgatory of needless waiting punctuated with scenes of people either totally losing it, or giving up entirely.

You don’t want to be that person that goes postal when they realised they’ve missed their flight by only a few minutes. You don’t want to be that person that has a public meltdown when their flight gets delayed due to general airline nonsense. And you definitely don’t want to be the person who causes a Hollywood-worth scene in the middle of the departure lounge when the loudspeaker announces that due to a situation out of their control, the flight is cancelled.

Instead you want to be the cool kid. The ‘I don’t mind if I wait’ guy. The ‘I’m happy to just sit back and relax’ personality. But that isn’t always something that comes easy to people, regardless of their travel expertise. I know that despite being a self-confessed travel addict, I really don’t like airports. Sure, me being at an airport pretty much always means I’m about to embark on another exciting part of my travelling life, but they’re just really horrible places. So, when I was recently sitting at Brisbane Airport with a seven hour wait ahead of me, I started to compile a little list in my head of just how I deal with being in airports.

 

Time It

There is a fine line to be walked in relation to how much time you want to spend in an airport, so don’t make it anymore than it needs to be unless you absolutely have to. Know how early you have to be at the airport for your flight, and then plan to get there more or less at that time. Definitely double, and even triple check this though! But once you’re sure, it makes sense to get to the airport exactly at that time, and not hours beforehand so you’re wait isn’t extended any more than it needs to be. Obviously, the last thing you want to do is miss your plane, but at the same time sitting around the airport is just a soul-destroying exercise.

 

Ample Entertainment

I cannot stress this enough. Unless you’re planning on spending your time at the airport doing zombie stares into space to pass the time, you’ll want to bring enough to keep you entertained. This means charge the iPod, mp3 player or walkman (no judgement man), make sure you bring your headphones and bunker down for the long haul. But, I’d also suggest bringing more than one form of entertainment, like a book or a drawing pad as well as music. Unless what you actually do to keep occupied is zombie staring into space (or at people, which may very well be entertaining), then you’re probably fine.

 

Snack Time

Airport food is already ludicrously expensive without the added issue of being a backpacker looking to get the most out of every dollar. Unsurprisingly, I can’t see great value in paying massive dollars for food that is worth half as much, which I’d probably pass on if I was anywhere else. But if you’re at an airport, especially with the possibility of long waiting times, you’re probably going to need to eat. So if you don’t want your rumbling stomach echoing around the terminal, do yourself a favour and pick up some food before you get to the airport. Even if you don’t expect to be waiting that long, throw a few muesli bars or crackers into your bag just in case.

 

Sleep It Off

I’m a big fan of nap time in any environment, and have been known to be awfully protective of my lunchtime siesta. One of the positives of this for me when it comes to airports is that I can fall asleep just about anywhere. If you’re on the road, this is a good skill to have anyway, but it comes super handy if you’re delayed or laid over for hours in airport land. Just make sure you set an alarm so you don’t miss your flight!

 

Airport Exploration

Yeah you’re on your way to an adventure, but who says you can’t start that adventure right here at the airport? If you’ve got time to kill during a delay or a layover, there are few things that will pass the time better than a walk and and a people watch. One thing about airports is that they’re usually full of all manner of people. Plus, larger airports also tend to cover a lot of ground, meaning your can stroll around to your heart’s content. So familiarise yourself with your gate, and then let the adventure begin!

 

For most people, airports hardly represent an enviable place to be, especially for hours and hours between flights. But, if you go about it the right way, you can keep yourself occupied, and keep your head level in any airport situation, no matter what change of plans comes flying in your direction.

 

 

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

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

 

Have a spending detox

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

 

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

 

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

 

Have a target

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

 

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

 

What could you be spending your money on?

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

 

Sell everything

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

 

Start buying travel

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

 

If all else fails…get a working holiday visa

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

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

 

Do you have any other tips for saving for travel?

 

We live in an amazing age for communication – well some make think otherwise but the sheer amount of social media and tech means keeping in touch with people is heaps easy!

I’ve been on the road for a few years now and to be blunt I don’t really miss anyone! People ask me why and it’s simple really – I chat to everyone all the time, people know what i’m up to via my blog and the joys of the internet mean I can even see these people whilst talking to them. They’re still as much of a part of my life when I’m sunning myself on an island in Thailand or on a glacier in New Zealand as they are when I’m back in my own living room in the same town as them!

As a backpacker although you’re looking to escape the 9-5 grind and explore it’s still important to keep in touch with people back home, not just to annoy them (although to be honest this is now my main reason!) but because that’s what friend do!

Luckily there’s a whole heap of ways for backpackers to keep in touch with home (or travel buddies for that matter) – here’s My Top 5 Ways To Keep In Touch While Travelling...

 

  • Postcards – you can’t beat a good old fashioned bit of postcard communication with home? What sums up your travel fun more than a generic photo of a place, an exotic stamp and some squashed up writing?! Or you could take postcards into the 21st century with a smartphone app called TouchNote, which turns your phone pictures in to postcards ince postage and a mpa of where you sent it from! Postcards just got a whole lot easier!

 

  • Whats App/iMessage/Viber/Heytell – there’s a millions smartphone apps that allow you to easily get in touch with friends and family, be it texts, pics or short voice messages. Pretty much everyone has a smartphone these days and as long as you can steal some free wifi it’s cheap and easy to do!

 

  • Facetime/Skype – if you want to actually see peoples from time to time then a good old bit of skype video calling or Facetime is perfect, providing you have a reliable internet connection. For me this is my preferred method as it’s nice to have a face to face chat…well nearly!

 

  • Calls – Sometimes a good old fashioned phone call is always good! Especially if you know people who haven’t quite caught up with 21st century tech! Luckily making international phone calls doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg anymore and you can easily do it via the internet or phone card.

 

  • Facebook – easily the best way to keep in touch with multiple people is Facebook. Love it or hate it for a backpacker it’s the quickest way to share information, show people your pics or send a private message. Even if you don’t chat to people one on one at least your buddies won’t be out of the loop on what you’re up to and you can keep an eye on the gossip back home!

 

How do you guys keep in touch with people whilst on the road? Message in a bottle? Written letter?!

 

While planning a big trip your brain goes in to overload. There are copious amounts to do. I have put together a timeline of a few essential pre-travel tips and things to think about before you go. Let’s prevent your from head exploding!

Between 12 & 6 Months to go…

  • Where do you want to go? You don’t have to set anything in stone, but a rough idea about where in the world you would like to visit would be good. Do you fancy relaxing in an Asian paradise? Or maybe exploring what South America has to offer? Or how about a city sightseeing Eurotrip? The world is your oyster!
  • Who do you want to travel with? This is important. You don’t want to choose a travel companion that will drive you insane and make you want to launch yourself off the edge of a cliff. Whether you choose to go with a boyfriend or girlfriend, a group or a mate, make sure you can trust them and you will enjoy travelling with them. There is always the solo travel option too. You will always meet new people and make friends along the way.

 

  • Save, Save, Save. Saving is really boring. But it has got to be done. Whenever you’re a bit low about the lack of spending money you have, just think what all your hard work is going towards, a fantastic trip that will be full of laughs and new experiences. It will be worth it in the end. When you go out, drink less, save your money and save your liver at the same time! When you go shopping and want to buy those beautiful sparkly stilettos, just think to yourself… ‘Do I really need these? Can I take them travelling?’. While saving money, it helps if you can live at home and car share, I know sometimes this isn’t possible, but just think of different ways to economise. Work out your finances and set a travel fund target that you can hit. Put aside a certain amount a month, but don’t leave yourself too broke! Sorted.
  • Book your flights! Then there is no backing out! Flights are cheaper when you book them in advance and once you have an outbound flight booked it is all suddenly real! Plus, you have time to replenish your money.
  • Create a blog. Blogging is the best way of keeping  your loved ones up to date with your travels and a way of keeping your very own personal diary of your adventures. You can make it absolutely perfect before you go away and start writing about your previous travel experiences, interviewing other travel bloggers and sharing tips. It’s great fun, I would recommend it.

Between 6 & 1 Month to go…

  • Get organised. Write lists. Then you will feel less stressed about everything and you will not forget to do anything. Think about what you need to buy, do and sort out before you go away. Do it the old school way, where you get a pen and notepad and write it down! Smartphones are good but you could easily delete it by mistake!
  • Spend some money. You need to start buying boring things like visas, travel immunisations and insurance. These can be expensive, but are essential.
  • Research. Read up on your chosen destinations. Make sure you know about the culture, language, sites and local hotspots. Travel books and traveller blogs are my favourite ways of researching.
  • Sort your life out. Hand in your notice at work, sort out your bank, check your passport, make sure visas are approved, sell things that you don’t need to get a bit of spare cash! Try a trial round of packing your backpack, it gives you a good insight in to how much stuff you can take! Etc Etc. You get what I mean.

1 Week to go…

  • Time to get excited! Counting down the days! Make sure everything is sorted and start to pack. Have a think about what you want to get out of your trip. Make sure you have a huge leaving party with all your family and friends, make sure you leave the country on a high! Remember to get those skype contacts and give your blog web address out to keep in touch! Have a fabulous time!

Backpacking can quickly consume your life – first you’re exploring further form home, the next thing you know everything you own is in your rucksack and you haven’t set foot on home soil for over a year. It creeps up and takes over everything you think about…

Not sure if you’re a travel nomad yet?! Here’s 10 signs you’ve got the travel bug bad…!

 

1) Being in One Place Doesn’t Work For You

It might seem obvious, but whether it is for better or worse, restlessness is definitely becoming a trend in your life. It’s the first thing that tips people off to your nomadic ways, and it is a handy excuse for your constant moving. Even day to day you want to get out into the world and see what there is on offer. Sitting around and passing time without purpose? No thanks! If you arrive somewhere, you can guarantee you won’t stay long before that gypsy blood of yours is pushing you back out to adventure.

 

2) People Have Stopped Trying To Keep Track Of You

Once, when you we’re just a newbie nomad, your friends and family back home faithfully kept track of where you were and where you were heading next. Now they’re most likely to say you’re “On the road” or “Travelling around”. They’ve reached peak levels of either comical confusion or annoyance at your constant bouncing, and your habit of being gone by the time they figure out where you’ve just been.

 

3) It’s Completely Normal For You To Relocate Every Few Days/Weeks/Months

If people were to see your relocation history they might think you’re running from something, and their assumption is hardly without ground. You’ve hardly stayed in one place for long enough to know it or be known for longer than you care to remember. It’s not so much that you can’t decide where to go, but that every time you do make a decision, another option parades itself seductively around your travelling mind.

life as a travel nomad blog

4) You Can’t Remember The Last Time You Held A Job Longer Than 3 Months

Your work history includes everything from sales and promo work to cleaning toilets in questionable hostels. You will, and in the past have, work any job that is going to help you get from Point A to Point B. And to be honest, you’re usually counting down the dollars until you have just enough to get moving again. It’s hardly a good look for your resume, but hey, at least it makes for an entertaining read!

 

5) Your Friend Group Has Representatives From Just About Everywhere

When you walk into a hostel, you can guarantee that on walking out your ranks of travelling friends will have grown. You aren’t always going to the same destinations, and you’re rarely travelling together, but its nice to see people suffering from all the same nomadic curses/blessings that you are. Keeping track of your global network on social media, they’re a little bit of inspiration, and a little bit of a challenge to stay exciting throughout your travels.

 

6) Seeing Old Friends On Facebook Getting Houses and Families Worries You

People you went to high school (and god forbid elementary school) with are buying houses, furthering careers, getting married and having babies. Updates from their lives via Facebook, in amidst the flood of traveling goodness from your nomadic friends, is bringing out some new emotions. It seems every time you’re internet AWOL while getting lost in the Amazon or running wild in South East Asia they’re making money and spawn like theres no tomorrow. And to be completely honest, it’s freaking you out.

 

7) You’re A Verifiable Expert On Flight and Hostel Comparison Websites

For some people having to book flights and accommodation is an annoyance, but to you it’s a challenge. Always you’re asking yourself: ‘what’s the lowest price I can get for this flight’ or ‘I wonder just how cheap I can get this room’. You’ve got a memorised list of hundreds of websites and databases guaranteed to save you money, and you can jump between them without a thought.

 

8) You Can Fit All Of Your Worldly Possessions Into One Bag

Ownership is hardly on the top of your list of priorities. You can acquire and dump possessions as you need to, usually based on how much you can be bothered to carry around at any one time. Those who’ve ever woken up hungover 10 minutes from checkout know the feeling of people totally unattached to anything that’s just too difficult to get into your bag. Impermanence is the name of the game, and you’ve taken it from its Buddhist roots right into the middle of backpacker heaven.

 

9) Anything in the Future Beyond Three or Four Months is a Mystery

Any notion of future plans gets you very quickly bouncing between two moods. The first is excitement: So many places to go and things to see, and you might have just enough money to do this and that, or to check out this random place. The second is complete and utter confusion: Let’s be honest here, you have no idea where you’re going to be three months from now, even next week is an open book, a plan written in pencil. But you know what? That’s just how you like it!

 

10) The Most Valuable Things You Own Are Memories From Your Adventures

The best thing about memories is they’re nice and light for a streamlined packing experience. Whether they’re photographs stored on handfuls of hard drives and USB sticks, or good old-fashioned memories blending in with dreams in the nomadic sponge of your brain, they’re the only thing you really care about now and in the future. You could stand to lose anything else, and you just might, but nobody can take back the memories you’ve had.

 

Casinos have become popular entertainment complexes that many travelers wish to include in their travels. For many, exploring the casinos across the area is exciting and provides them with different perspectives regarding gaming. For those who will be in the Midwestern state, Indiana, there are some casinos that offer the best in casino gambling. One of these is Belterra which is the leading gambling boat casino within the state. Offering two floors of slot machines and table games, the Belterra is a classic example of riverboat gambling.
Located in Hammond, Indiana, within walking distance to Chicago is the Horseshoe Casino. With over 350,000 square feet of casino floor, the Horseshoe attracts many from around the world. The casino has a variety of casino games including more than 3,000 slot machines. Many of these slot machines are also available at online casinos so many visitors are already familiar with them. Numbering over 100, table games are also found at the Horseshoe. The casino also has the largest poker room found anywhere in the Midwestern United States. An Asian gaming room, Le Cheng, is also included.
When one visits these Indiana casinos they can expect to find the most popular table casino games. This would include blackjack which many people today play at online casinos. The intent of blackjack is to get as close to the card count of 21 without exceeding it. Of course, to win, a player’s hand count has to exceed the dealer’s. In this game, players are all playing against the dealer which means it is possible for all players to win. There are often special versions of blackjack found at both online casinos like Lucky Nugget as well as land base venues. Knowing the basic game of blackjack is mainly all one needs to know to learn these special variations.

I am quitting my job, hanging up my stilettos and packing my backpack for a RTW adventure! It’s a bit daunting but mega exciting and the most spontaneous thing I have ever done! I am usually super organised but all I have done is book a one way flight to Bangkok!

So many travelling thoughts keep running though my head, but one question really gets my pulse racing…

 

What am I most looking forward to?”

 

1)      Not having a job

I have worked two jobs since I was 15, so I think I deserve a little break! So many people have said to me “doesn’t it scare you knowing that you have nothing to come back to?” and, quite frankly the answer is NO. Travelling the world is such a fantastic learning experience, it teaches you lessons that no job could ever teach. It opens your eyes to the world around you, rather than keeping you in your own little bubble and it enables you to ‘find’ yourself and have a think about what you want to get out of your life. Plus, If I want something I will work and work until I get it. So it will be fine!

 

2)      The ‘Backpacking’ experience

Not going to lie. I am petrified of backpacking. And staying in hostels. When I told my friends and family that was what I was going to be doing, they laughed in my face. Everyone I know who has been Backpacking seems to be so carefree. I need carefree in my life. The thought of just have one bag to live out of does, somehow, make me feel liberated! I can live without my heels and make up (I think…) and I can’t wait to put that tremendously gigantic backpack on and explore the unknown! And as for budgeting, well I’m going to try and avoid being a flash packer.

 

3)      Full Moon Parties

Who doesn’t dream about getting totally sloshed on a beautiful paradise island, dancing with fire and covering each other in UV paint? C’mon… It can’t just be me!

 

4)      Travel ‘Friend’

I am really looking forward to meeting the locals and other fellow travellers. I can’t wait to swap tips, stories and learn about new cultures from the people who know best.

 

travel backpacker planning rtw trip
My New Home!

5)      Beaches

White golden sand, turquoise ocean and the scorching yellow sunshine. Take me to Paradise. The Islands of Thailand, Bali and the Whitsunday’s are the picture perfect places that I cannot wait to visit.

 

6)      Blogging

Writing a blog is such a good way of keeping your friends and family up to date while you are away and it is a practical way to pass the time on boring train or plane journeys. It’s like an online diary of all of your experiences. I love writing, it takes me away from reality and I get lost in thought. It’s always fun to look back on older posts and remember what you did and how you felt at that particular time. My site, Totally Sam’s World, opened in June 2012 and I love it. It’s a great tool to help other travellers plan their trip or give readers a giggle. I love reading other people’s blog posts too. Learning about who they are, where they have been, what they have done and listening to their tips. Blogging rocks my socks.

 

7)      Sharing the laughs

This is super cheesy and I am not the romantic, slushy sort. But I’m really excited to be backpacking RTW with my Boyfriend. It is always good to share awesome experiences with someone special.

 

8)      *NEW*

Trying new things is sometimes a little nerve wracking but it’s good to open your mind and try experiences that you haven’t tried before. I think food is going to be my biggest nemesis, as I am not normally very adventurous with it. Grotty public transport scares me too, but I am willing to giving it a go! Being a bit of an adrenalin junkie I am most looking forward to learning to surf, going skydiving, getting my PADI open water diving qualification. Bring it on!

 

9)      Not being in the UK

Honestly, I am not the biggest fan the UK. I love my friends and family, and a good cup of tea. But apart from that, I really won’t miss it. The majority of people are rude, the places are dull and the weather sucks. Sometimes I genuinely believe that I have lost the colour from my eye sight because the days are so grey and miserable! Routine is not for me. I want to get out of my comfort zone, get a sun tan and start my adventure, many miles away.

 

10)   NYE in Sydney

I have always wanted to see in the New Year, watching the fireworks in Sydney. 2013/2014 is the one. Electric atmosphere, beautiful surroundings, lots of yummy Aussie accents and a whole lot of booze. Perf.

If the idea of doing these things gives you butterflies, or if you have just turned green with envy, then get out there and make it happen!

I know it is cliché, but you only live once…  so what’s stopping you?

With the economy in a slump, it is often those lovely items like holidays that are first to be crossed off our list of ‘things we’d love to do’. But don’t despair; with cheap flights and a bit of know-how there is a way of getting that much needed escape and earning a few bob while you’re at it.

Working holidays have never gone out of fashion and can be a great way to earn, learn and see the world. It also looks good on your CV! Here are a few ideas how…

 

Teaching

Doing a TEFL course has become the standard for anyone wanting to hot foot it to another country while making some cash along the way. With jobs in almost every country in the world you can choose from teaching English in Thailand to Siberia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. The one month course is your passport to travel and helping others learn your lingo at the same time.

Writing 

If you have a way with words, you could try your hand at the travel writing scene. Pitching articles to magazines and websites is a good place to start while having your own blog is essential and great for keeping track of all your travel stories too. It might be hard to break into the industry but there is good earning potential if you do.

Cooking

Handy with a frying pan and oven gloves? All level of cookery jobs are available from kitchen porter to five star chef.  Some jobs can come with accommodation, saving you even more pennies. Qualifications are a must for most of these jobs but it’s a great way to broaden your culinary horizons.

Nanny/Au Pair

If you have experience of working with children, you can find some fantastic jobs in countries around the world looking after kids. Often these come with accommodation, great for money saving and mean that you are usually immersed in the lives and language of your host family, making for a wonderful travel experience. A CV and references will definitely be required for these jobs.

Music

If you’re a dab hand on the guitar or can carry a tune, the world is your oyster. From street busking and cruise ships to playing piano in bars or the bagpipes at weddings, the musical traveller can easily earn a crust playing for passing folks. If you get a job in a hotel, on a ship or in a bar you can make enough to get by and probably meet some likeminded musicians into the bargain.

Skiing

If you have a love of skiing and snow, combine your passions while earing cash by working a ski season. Whether in France, Austria or America, you’ll get chalet accommodation and free or cheap ski hire and lift passes in return for cooking and cleaning the chalets of visiting tourists. If you can ski, and have an instructor qualification, this is another great way to enjoy the slopes and make piles of cash.

VSO

VSO is a volunteer organisation who finds placements all around the world for skilled workers in a variety of disciplines. You can check on their website for the latest requirements. You will always end up working for a worthy local cause but the difference is that VSO pay money towards living costs and expenses and you get a lump sum amount when you return to your home country. Placements can be just a few weeks or up to two years.

 

SEO has become somewhat of a taboo word recently… especially if you’re a part of a certain Facebook group where anybody who dares to mention it receives the wrath of a few anti-SEO martyrs. A lot of people will say all forms of SEO are wrong and if you dabble in the dark arts then you’re cheating the system… but even those who say this are guilty of practising SEO at one point or another. Even though many of you now know what it’s all about I still get people asking me on a daily basis to help out with some of the basics.

As a little background story my past 4 years of working experience has been within the SEO field. I’ve been an SEO manager for some high-end companies and have seen some amazing results within the travel industry… I’m not trying to brag I’m just trying to show I’m not plucking this information out of the air. I’m also not trying to say I’m the expert who knows everything because I certainly don’t… I just know enough. For my next few posts I’ll be doing a mini-series on some of the basics of SEO that hopefully you will be able to use and put to good use on your own sites.

SEO guideThe first myth I want to expel from the dark arts of SEO is that it’s hard… because it’s not. SEO is something a lot of you do without realising it. I’m going to try and explain what I know in a very basic and general manner so I’m sorry to those of you who know what you’re doing.

In a nutshell Google has these little things called spiders. Google uses these spiders to crawl through every web page on the internet and record information about that page. Once Google has all of that information it will assess what that webpage is about and will then show that page in its search results if it is deemed relevant to the search being made. This is why when you search for something like “Weather in the UK” it will show web pages that are related to showing you what the weather is like in the UK rather than a website about sausages. Occasionally you will get a webpage showing in the results that don’t match what you’ve searched for and this is usually down to bad people using nasty black-hat SEO techniques to gain top places in Google for money-making keywords… but that’s a whole different topic.

With this in mind the most basic principle of SEO is to make your site as relevant as possible for the keywords you want to show up for. What I mean by this is if you’re writing about sausages and nothing else then don’t expect to show up for searches in Google from the keyword “travel” – it just won’t happen. However if you’re hoping to show up in Google for the keyword “Australia Travel Blog” then you need to show Google that your website is a good resource for somebody that may be searching for a Travel Blog about Australia. To show Google that your travel blog is about Australia then you need to mention it somewhere on your site… this could be in the form of a few sentences on your ‘about’ page or even post tags and categories… whichever way you do it you need to make sure it’s there. If you don’t mention ‘Australia’ anywhere on your blog then how can you expect Google to recognise your blog as a resource for Australia?

SearchIf your blog is more of a general travel blog then you’re more than likely going to be relying on your posts to do the work for you. Currently 70% of my traffic comes from Google searches and that’s because I’ll make sure to have information in my posts that I know people will be looking for. As an example one of my older posts about Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary receives searches for terms such as “Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary opening times” and “How much does it cost to hold a Koala at Currumbin”. My personal blog is one of the top results for these terms because I’ve included lines in that post that refer to searches that would be made.

Googles spiders have crawled through my posts, recorded information that shows those posts having the information about the opening times and then has shown them in their results pages because they are relevant to what is being searched for. I’ve not deviated away from the post topic by putting the opening times in there… I haven’t blatantly spammed the post with keywords as they are useful bits of information for somebody reading it, but I have made it relevant for something that I know will be searched for.

As I’ve said there are many ways to make sure you’re showing up for keywords and making your site relevant is just one of them. As this is part of a mini-series I won’t dive in too deep just yet but if you’ve any questions so far leave them in a comment below and I’ll either answer you on here or send you an email if the response is too long!

The last couple of months have seen some rather large changes in my personal circumstances which have resulted in some equally large changes in my travel plans.

The short version of it is that I’m now single again after 2 years and I jetted off to Ecuador at the beginning of January, signalling the start of my next long term travel plan.

All this change and slight uncertainty has made me questions why I travel and how I’ve ended up on the path I’m currently walking.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that I use travel as a tool to run away and distract myself.

 

Full Circle

My first gap year to Australia was planned way back in late 2008.

At the point I was with a girl who I’d been dating for just over 3 years, and who was aware that I was wanting to travel. Initially my plans were to head down under for 3months – covering the east coast, Sydney for Xmas and new year and finishing off in Melbourne with some buddies who had moved out there.

A nice simple plan which would mean a brief period of long distance love.

But the longer the relationship went on and the more arguments we had the more drawn out my Aussie travels became.

Eventually it culminated in a massive argument, the ending of a 4 year relationship, a few too many beers and me purchasing a working holiday visa – which landed me in Australia a few months later, where I stayed and played for an entire year.

At the time it seemed like a slightly rash decision to make, but it’s the best decision I ever made. It grew me as a person, allowed me to clear my head and I came home with an exciting future of travel with a beautiful girl who I’d met along the way.

A further year down the line and a whole heaps of arguments later I once again found myself throwing away another relationship to go head back out on the road.

But was I ending the relationship because I wanted to go and travel or was I traveling because I ended the relationship?

 

Why I Travel

I have pondered on that thought alot recently and on why I travel in general. One of the main reasons behind all my adventures is to surf, it’s been my passion for the last decade and is firmly routed behind most of the decisions I make. I do however tend to use it as an excuse for alot of things – rash decisions included.

I also travel because I want to experience the world and explore the unknown. I want to see new things, photograph them and meet heaps of new people.

But the more I think about it the more I realise that a large part of my travelling experience is escapism.

Through my travels I escape the 9-5 grind that many of my friends have become helplessly trapped in. I’m sure this is the reasoning behind many a backpackers decision and something all gap years travellers have I the back of their minds, the postponing of work and ‘real life’.

I also use it to escape the English weather and climate – again another common reason for travel. Everyone enjoys the sun and leaving behind the rainy UK winter, and indeed summer!

It has however become apparent that I use travel as an excuse to avoid alot of other responsibilities, and as the easy option when it comes to making changes, decisions and confronting difficult periods in my life.

Mainly relationships it seems.

So far is worked out pretty well. I had an epic year in Australia and settled into Byronian living – my home away from home.

And this time I’d scored my dream job surf coaching in South America and I’ve also sorted a long term flight ticket that will take me over 18,000 miles through various places on the way to New Zealand.

Both seem like pretty amazing experiences right?

But this travel is underlined with the fact it’s cost me alot. Not just financially but emotionally.

At some point I will run out of places to run to and have to step up and face my fears – the fear of actually having to deal with the day to day issues of normal life and big decisions.

Everyone travels for their own reasons – and I’m sure I’m not the only one who uses it as a way to escape, whether intentionally or not.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see if this latest move of escapism is another stroke of glorious genius or a step too far…I’m sure it’ll entail some fun along the way though!

 

Have you jetted off to a far flung place to escape, did it help, or did you simply not questions what you were doing?!

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?

As I prepare to head out on the second part of my RTW trip next week it’s proving to be the biggest focus point of my conversations with people. Alot of the people I chat about my travels with all reply in the same way – thy say I’m lucky to do what I’m doing.

But there’s no real luck involved in what I do.

 

Product of an Aim

I didn’t win my flight ticket. I didn’t stumble into a book of things to do in the places I visited and I wasn’t given the money I’m using to fund it all.

Hard Earned Dollar

Long term travel or seeing the world through multiple trips isn’t luck – its the product of hard work, planning and commitment.

I’ve spent the last 2 years saving hard to build up my travel funds. It’s been hard. I’ve sacrificed a large chunk of my social life and have refused myself certain luxuries knowing that every penny saved will be quadrupled when I head out through Asia.

Would i rather have a Starbucks coffee for the best part of a fiver and let it last half an hour – or would I rather spend that money on a hostel room and a meal in Thailand?!

Everything I spent in the UK during that time was weighed up against what I could get for the same value on the road.

 

Planning

Proper Preparation...

It’s that mindset that helped me plan.

My pay cheques were carefully divided up at the beginning of the month and allocated to expenses, any left over at the end wasn’t splurged – it was viewed as a bonus saving!

And I spent a whole heap of time wading through the Internet, travel guides and chatting to other backpackers researching where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do.

That way instead of going in blind I spent my time well I see/do everything that draws me to that destination.

Whilst I’m on the road I’m constantly talking to backpackers, prying for tips and advice and have structured in enough free time to allow myself to change plans and adapt my travel experience.

That’s not luck – that’s being prepared!

 

Commit to the Cause

A lot of people who I know want to travel, but they put mental obstacles in their own paths. It’s too expensive. I don’t want to travel alone. I don’t feel confident enough. I have a job…they’re all stupid reasons to hold off on travels.

You live within your means on the road. You’ll meet tons of people. You’ll find that confidence along the way. You can always get another job.

Commit yourself to leaving to travel and it’ll happen. Just book one single flight. Then your committed.

Even something as simple as making an appointment to chat to a travel agent is the first step. Talk to another backpacker – hell even ping us an email and we’re happy to share our advice with you all!

Follow through on your promise to yourself and you’ll be rewarded with an epic experience that you’ll never forget.

 

Make your own luck

Contrary to what you may think as bloggers we don’t get everything for free. And the freebies we do get are also the product of planning, commitment and hard work. We didn’t get here by accident, we made the choice that this is what we wanted to do and found a way to get what we wanted.

I didn’t study blogging at Uni, nor did someone give me a site to run. I saw an opportunity, researched it, acted on it and committed to it.

There’s no reason you couldn’t do the same.

My way of life at the moment has nothing to do with luck.

Come join me on the road, stop making excuses and explore the world – its a beautiful place.

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

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

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

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

Neil and his eye pimping it up with the ladies

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

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

Conjunctivitis

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

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

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

 

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

 

Conjunctivitis in my Madurai based School

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

Web: www.manversusworld.com

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?
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?

Certain things change when you start travelling, particularly in the backpacker world. You suddenly have the desire to do things out of the ordinary and act in different ways than what ‘normal’ society dictates. It can be simple things or down right stupid things so You Know You’re a Backpacker When

  • You have the sudden urge to wear anklets/foot jewellery/random bits of string
  • Drinking excessively on a weekday is completely normal
  • …and being sober is an odd sensation and kinda painful!
  • Beard growing, dreadlocks and general hairiness are actively encouraged (sometimes referring to both sexes!)
  • When you won’t spend $4 on a meal, but will blow $20 on booze without a second thought
  • You’ll haggle over 10baht with complete stubbornness – despite it only being 30p
  • Suntan cream and bug spray are your biggest expenses
  • Trying to sleep in a room where people are having sex is something you just deal with
  • The swimming pool DOES count as a shower (failing that public beach showers are the way forward)
  • Wifi is the deal breaker when looking for a bed for the night
  • Sleeping in a van at the side of the road is living the dream

    Parked up for the night
    Parked up for the night

  • Shoes are no longer part of your day to day dress code
  • …and wearing a tshirt is “getting dressed up”
  • …you also genuinely can’t remember the last time you wore socks!
  • Jumping out of a plane is a standard day out
  • You post status updates on Facebook for no other reason that to annoy your friends at home
  • You have no idea how much money you actually have – but you’re sure it’s enough
  • Smelling your clothes is how you pick what to wear (aka “sniff and see!”)
  • This rule also applies to food!
  • The free food shelf is a gold mine
  • You have 800+ Facebook friends but can only really remember a handful of them
  • You’ve perfected the squat toilet technique
  • Tiger balm cures EVERYTHING
  • Your iPod is your most treasured possession
  • If its free, you’ll take – regardless of whether you like/want/need it!
  • You save money by putting apples through as onions on self serve supermarket tils!
  • You can tell anyone the price of booze and where happy hour is…but have non clue about what the time is

    Forget the Amazon tour, let's drink!
    Forget the Amazon tour, let's drink!

  • …or what day of the week it is (see airport transfer concerns!)
  • The only local language you know is how to swear, order a beer and chat up girls/guys at the bar
  • You have a massive craving for things like PG Tips, Heinz Baked Beans, Peanut Butter….
  • You steal toilet paper from places simply so you don’t have to buy it
  • Being able to juggle, dread hair or play with fire suddenly seems like a good career path
  • “I’ll do that tomorrow” actually translates as “I’ll leave it to the last minute or forget”
  • You can name every possession you own
  • …and where in your bag you need to locate it at 3am in a dark hostel dorm
  • Which also means airline baggage handlers are your arch nemesis
  • A 31 hour bus/ferry/train combo is preferential over the extra $40 it’ll cost to fly there in 3 hours

So how many have you guys ticked off – or is that list simply making you wary about hitting the road?!

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?

 

“You’re going on an around the world adventure? Who are you going with?”

Nobody. I’m going solo

“…Wait, what? Are you mental?!”

Well no, actually, you’re not mental. Thousands of people embark on around the world trips every year and 99% of them are looking to meet new friends and acquaintances along the way. Some of the best friends I have these days are people I’ve met on the road and even though I’m living in another country to them now I still talk to them almost every week.

One of the biggest myths about travelling solo is that it’s a very lonely task. If anything, I think travelling solo is one of the most social things you can do. I’ve generally found other travellers to be some of the most genuine, friendly people that I’ve ever met. No matter who the traveller is, you always have one thing in common with them – you like to travel!

Bearing this in mind it’s very easy to make friends with people in hostels and on the road. Most travellers like to share their experiences with each other and talk about where they are going to next, places that could be recommended by others, places others have been… we’re like younger, more sane versions of that crazy grandma we all have that wants to know every little detail and any little story. If you’re happy enough to share then we’re happy enough to listen.

It’s safe to say before I started travelling I wasn’t very social at all. I didn’t join any groups at home in fear of having to talk to strangers and making a fool out of myself and I didn’t mix with other people because I was ‘happy with the friends I’ve got’ – going travelling and being on my own made me sick to the stomach with the thought of being thrown in to a room full of strangers but take it from me, you have nothing to fear AT ALL.

The fact of the matter is there’s only one thing you need to remember when trying to make friends while on the road – be yourself. Don’t act a fool, don’t try and be somebody that you’re not and don’t annoy the others in the room you’ll find yourself making friends left right and centre. Obviously it’s going to take a little effort on your side. You may find yourself in a room with people as new to this as you – try striking up a conversation first “Hey, I’m Dan, what’s your name?” If the encounter doesn’t go as well as you’d hoped then it doesn’t matter as it’s highly likely you will be moving on to a new hostel in a few days or they will. I can guarantee you that if you’re open to making new friends then you’ll find them and it’s highly likely they will be friends for life.

If you’re still not sure then try using a traveller’s social networking site. One site that I’ve used myself (and am in no means affiliated with) is travbuddy. Basically you sign yourself up, bang in a few destinations you plan on visiting and on what dates… the magical mechanisms in the website do all of the work for you and find other people who will be in that destination and on those dates. Hey presto!

If you have any tips on ways that you’ve made friends on the road we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

Friends
These are just some of the friends I've met along the way...

Main image supplied by Photostock

Don't forget the fake Ray Ban's and the cut off shorts that get shorter (and shorter) with every wash.

 

It’s Fashion Week which means that models from across the world will be strutting their stuff on the catwalk, showcasing the latest designer trends and inspiring high street designers to turning them into every day items we can all wear.

Will we be wearing any of these new trends though?  Probably not.  As backpackers we don’t have the room in our luggage or room in our budget to keep up with the latest in fashion.

So what do we do?

Well, we come up with our own. The RTW Backpackers team don’t claim to know a lot about fashion but if you’re confused about what you should wear if you want to rock the Backpacker Look this season then just follow these simple steps*:

Excessively Colourful Boardshorts - it's the future!

1. Girls you absolutely must wear a bikini top every day even if you’re not going to the beach.  Even if it’s raining.  Even if it would probably be more appropriate to wear a bra.

In fact, don’t even bother packing a bra.  You’re living life untethered now and if that goes for your body as well as your travels then you sure as hell don’t need the restrictive feeling of two curved pieces of wire digging into your ribs every time you move.

2. Boys the same goes for wearing anything but board shorts on your bottom half even if you’re not going anywhere near a beach.  Even if it’s cold.  Even if it would more appropriate to wear jeans or, shock horror, actual shorts.  Nothing screams Backpacker Fashion like a brightly coloured pair of board shorts on a rainy day

Even in miserable weather the flip flops remain...
Even in miserable weather the flip flops remain...

3. Don’t even think about wearing anything on your feet except flip flops.  Any brand except Havianas is unacceptable.  Yes we know they’re more expensive than your average family car but there are times when you have to make sacrifices in the name of fashion.  And this is one of them. Failing that you could follow in Chris’s (lack of) shoes and ditch footwear altogether – just watch out for the glass!

New hair
Dan decided not to cut his hair for a while...

4. Don’t cut your hair.  Ever.

5. Don’t style your hair.  Ever.  If you don’t look like you’ve just been for a dip in the sea, rolled around in the sand and dragged through a hedge backwards, you’re not doing it right.

6. Make sure that 90% of the time you’re wearing a singlet or vest top with a beer logo on it.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been to Bali or Thailand, buy one off eBay and do everything you can to make it look like you’ve had it forever

7. Girls if you do feel like you have to do something to your hair you can’t go better than flipping your head upside down, twisting your hair around and securing with a bobby pin.  Proceed with caution though; pull it too tight and you run the risk of looking like you’ve tried to give yourself some kind of DIY facelift.

8. Buy an anklet, making sure it’s one that actually ties on so you have no choice but to wear it at all times.  Don’t cut it off when it starts rotting from getting wet in the sea or the shower.  Buy a new one and hope no-one notices.

Backpacker Fashion; short shorts!
Who wears short shorts? We wear short shorts!

9. Girls you definitely need to arm yourself with the shortest pair of short denim shorts possible.  Remember to wash them on a hot wash so that by the time you’ve worn them for the millionth time they’re so small that it’s practical illegal.

10. Wear as many hippy-looking bracelets as possible

11. Buy some Aladdin pants in the colour of your choice.  It doesn’t matter if they make your bum look huge or that they’re really unflattering, they’re comfortable and that’s all that matters for you now that you’re travelling, right?!

*None of the following advice should be taken seriously or, indeed, literally.

abakedcreation

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

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

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

Making the perfect pancake

I’m going to make this simple for you:

The ingredients

100g of plain flour

2 large eggs

300ml of milk

1 tbsp of oil

A pinch of salt

What to do:

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

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

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

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

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

Cannibalistic Sushi, Japan

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

Modern Toilet, China

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

Buns and Guns, Lebanon

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

Penis Restaurant, China

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

Cabbages and Condoms, Thailand

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

The Grave Yard Restaurant, India

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

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

So many times I’ve been trawling through travel blogs and found “Top Travel Tips for Women” but never before have I found travel tips for men. Feeling a bit left out and dejected at this I’ve decided shine a little light on this often ignored topic and bring you the long-awaited and desperately needed travel tips for men. The following are what I deem to be some of the most important tips a man can follow while travelling:

Clown hair
The voices told me this would look good....

Never trust that inner voice

Where women can often rely on that little voice in their heads telling them that “this is probably a bad idea”, the little voice living inside a man’s head has been designed to do the complete opposite. Instead of telling us to walk away from a dangerous situation, the voice inside our heads would encourage us to face it head on and be the hero. Or if we found a sign saying “dangerous currents do not swim” the voice in our head takes it as a personal insult on our swimming skills and decides to make us take a dip anyway. That little voice in your head will be the undoing of your travels before you have even started. Ignore it at all costs.

Protect yourself from pick-pockets

Don’t wear pants with pockets. Or even better don’t wear pants at all.

They said they loved me
They said they loved me...

She’s really not that in to you

Going abroad you’re bound to be feeling like a god. You’ve left your cares and responsibilities at home and have nothing left to tie you down. You’re THE man. Knowing you’re ‘the man’ you’re going to be expecting foreign women to be head over heels in love with you. When these supermodels start throwing themselves at you, you start picturing your life married to the stunning-20 year-old who’s currently hanging off your arm. In reality that supermodel who has taken a sudden interest in you is most likely after a visa or all of your money. The 2 month fling with the new love in your life will turn in to the worst investment you ever make bringing with it divorce costs that go through the roof. Before you end up in a sticky situation (and not the one you were hoping for) stop and think what a stunning 20-year-old actually sees in a scruffy backpacker in the first place.

Avoid public humiliation.

Ignore the second point. Wear pants.

jump!
Jump! It's the only way...

You’re not Indiana Jones

Something I learned the hard way while travelling is that you don’t suddenly change into an action hero that’s able to take on any situation and come out of it with not so much as a bead of sweat on your forehead. You’re still the same old you and you haven’t learned overnight how to jump out of a moving car, do a few rolls and then stand up without a scratch on you. You’re bound to be placed in to a few situations while travelling when you think “yeah, I can do this” but deep down you know that 13ft jump across a swamp filled with very hungry alligators is way too ambitious for you yet you’ll still give it a damn good go. Do yourself a favour and walk away. Seriously… just walk.

And finally, possibly the most important advice your mother ever gave you reiterated by a random stranger;

Don’t be silly – wrap your willy!

This article isn’t intended as the most serious piece of advice. Check back for some real travel tips for men and women that are coming soon!

 

 

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

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

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

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

My Top 10 reasons for leaving home with an empty backpack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

If you’ve just graduated from uni chances are right now you’re at a cross-roads in your life where you’re not really sure where to go next.  I guess it’s kind of like one of those ridiculous quizzes found in women’s magazines; “You’ve just graduated from University, do you a) apply for a post-graduate course?  b) start applying for jobs?  or c) travel?

The trouble with those quizzes though is that sometimes they don’t even give you another option like d) All of the above.  I think I’m probably a bit biased, but before you start scouring the Seek website for the post-grad job you’ve always wanted, think again.

You’ve probably got people telling you that if you don’t do something with your degree now then it all will have been a massive waste; all that money blown, look at the debt it’s got you in, 3 years down the drain blah blah blah. 

At this point my advice to you would be to turn around to all of those people bringing you down and shout, extremely loudly; “My degree isn’t going to expire!!!” because the way some people talk it’s almost like if you don’t use your degree right NOW then somehow it’s going to lose it’s value.  I mean, have these people SEEN antiques roadshow?!  Things get better with age?!

You’ll always have your education.  You’ll always have that degree under your belt and even though that amazing post-grad job on Seek probably won’t be there for ever, there will be other jobs in the future.

And despite what other people would have you believe, travel can actually broaden your mind, educate you and prepare you for your chosen career in more ways than you could ever imagine.  Don’t worry that travel will look bad on your C.V because it wont:

When you travel you’re constantly planning your life, constantly dealing with changes in situation.  You’re constantly learning new things and experiencing different cultures.  You’re socialising with people you wouldn’t normally talk to and improving your communication skills.

You might not have been sitting at a desk for the best part of your twenties but that doesn’t make you unemployable.  In fact, I think it makes you even more of a catch.

Do you really want to be sat at your desk in twenty years time, only to suddenly be hit with the realisation that maybe you made the wrong decision?  I mean yes you have a gorgeous house, a great job, a nice car and maybe if you’ve been exceptionally silly you’ve gone and grown yourself a couple of babies.  These are all good things.  Great things!

But that’s what they are; things.

Things will be around forever, but your life experiences are something that you have to find for yourself.  That’s not to say you have to start backpack hunting, like NOW; I worked for 2 years after graduating not even realising that at aged 24 I would be jetting off to Australia and I’m really glad that I gained some experience in a working environment, but give yourself the option at least.

At least consider experiencing something out of your comfort zone.  At 26, I am still learning so much about the world and about myself, and I honestly don’t think that that would have been the case had I stayed at home.