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!

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!

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

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

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

Wait, those aren’t pint glasses!

Pubs in Sydney
Pubs in Sydney - Courtesy of Creative Commons

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

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

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

In South Australia and pot is a schooner.

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

Confused yet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Avocados are avos

Brecky is breakfast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brisbane at night
Brisbane at night

1. Take a flight

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

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

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

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

2. Book a bus journey

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

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

Byron Bay Beach
Byron Bay Beach

3. Hire a Campervan

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

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

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

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

campervanning in Australia
campervanning in Australia

4. Hitch a Ride Part 1

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

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

5. Hitch a ride Part 2

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

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

How did you travel Australia’s East Coast?

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

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

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

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

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

Hoi Ann, Vietnam
Hoi Ann

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

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

Waterfall in Vietnam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The picture that…..takes my breath away

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

The picture that….makes me laugh or smile

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

The picture that….makes me dream

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

The picture that….makes me think

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

The picture that….makes my mouth water

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

The picture that….tells a story

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

The picture that….I’m most proud of

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

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

Our nominees

We nominate…….no-one!

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


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

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

What is Songkran?

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

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

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

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

A few pictures from Songkran in Bangkok last year.

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

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

Happy Songkran Festival!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But how was it when I was travelling?

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


“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!

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.


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.

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

The courtyard of San Pedro
The courtyard of San Pedro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

private beach ha long bay
All This beach to yourself

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

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

CC Thanks to David Mckelvey for the title picture.

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

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

RTW Backpacker
Meet Dom

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

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

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

My questions to the backpackers are:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


How do you budget your money whilst travelling?

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Dan – What those two said ^


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Odds of having travelling flings in every hostel you visit?

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

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

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

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

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

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


Welcome to RTW Backpackers!

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

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

Ok not really.

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

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

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

Calm yourself.

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

So in no particular order…..

Monica from The Travel Hack

Chris from Backpacker Banter

Dan from Adventures With Dan

Beverley from Pack Your Passport

Kirsty and Poi from No Place To Be

Gemma from Gap Daemon

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




‘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.