India – lost in translation?

lost in translation

Travel brings many trials and tribulations, many of which can be attributed to language barriers.

Hand gestures and pointing only goes so far… especially when it comes to finding a toilet… awkward.

What we found in India is how detrimental ‘lost in translation’ situations can be – specifically when it comes to Trip Advisor reviews.

When reading reviews before going to India I picked several spots based on glowing reviews from happy travellers. What I failed to take into account was who was writing reviews… and what they are trying to say versus reality.

So for your viewing pleasure I’ve picked some reviews about places I ended up visiting that weren’t quite what they were made out to be:


bridge copy 2

 

 

 

 

Translation: This review is about a bridge in Mumbai. I mean it’s a nice bridge… but it’s a bridge. I wasn’t excited.


chennai copy

 

 

 

 

Translation: If you find peace and happiness in being stalked by hawkers, threatened, attacked by flying animals (these things are too big to be described as bugs) and eyed up by disease carrying stray dogs, then sure… you will find a shit load of peace and happiness and happiness here.


jaipur copy

 

 

 

 

Translation: “Good natured but persistent” is truly the most diplomatic description I’ve ever heard. This person must be a politician. I watched the hawkers here bully tourists and literally jump on the back of a moving vehicle to try and sell their shit, scaring the bejesus out of visitors.


marble copy

 

 

 

 

Translation: “Great shopping experience”, “For Sale” and “great demo” are interesting perceptions of this marble shop. After watching very talented craftsmen make marble art, we were locked in a room and forced to buy before we could leave. Then were told the owner is a mean alcoholic who is horrible to his staff… So in this case Great shopping experience = forced purchase from slave labour.


So friends, when it comes to Trip Advisor buyer beware… top tips:

  1. Look at where the reviewer comes from – perception is everything and people from different regions of the world to you may have different perceptions.
  2. People are welcome to have their own opinions – even if they are shit and wrong. Don’t take everyones opinion as gospel.

Ok that’s all for now… More actual tales from our actual trip to come soon. For now, rant over, thanks for listening 🙂

30 by 30 – What a ride!

30by30header

Well folks, pop the bottles, get out the streamers – it’s official (ok it was official about six months ago) I’ve done it – I’ve travelled to 30 different countries before my 30th birthday!!

When I set the goal five years ago it was in part a pipe dream and in part a way to continually give myself a goal to work towards that was purely fun related, not health, not career – just fun.

And shit I’ve had so much fun achieving it along the way. From seeing great sites like the Taj Mahal or Eiffel tower to being extreme like paragliding in Austria and… and… ok who am I kidding I’m NOT extreme.

Anyway it’s been amazing, and it’s not over… not by a long shot.

So what’s next? What’s my next goal, my next plan? I’m taking suggestions. Seriously – I want you to help me decide what I should do next… Do I double it before I’m 40? Aim to see all countries in the world? I’m game.

Anyway as you ponder, scroll down for my final list of 30 countries in alphabetical order. Looking at each name brings back so many exceptional memories and I’m itching to make some more.

30 by 30

(My world scratch map – the gold countries I haven’t been to… it’s on my wall and I look at it longingly everyday)

 

1 America 16 Lichtenstein
2 Australia 17 Malaysia
3 Austria 18 Mexico
4 Cambodia 19 Monaco
5 China 20 Montenegro
6 Croatia 21 Netherlands
7 England 22 Scotland
8 France 23 Singapore
9 Germany 24 Spain
10 Greece 25 Switzerland
11 India 26 Thailand
12 Ireland 27 Turkey
13 Italy 28 UAE (Dubai)
14 Fiji 29 Vatican
15 Japan 30 Vietnam

Pilgrim without a plan

Travel targets header PWAP

To say I’ve been M.I.A on the blog front is an understatement – it’s been months since I posted… not ok.

Why have I made you all suffer through my radio silence? Missing out on the brilliance that is my writing? I can put it down to one thing – lack of travel depression… LTD for short.

The LTD struggle has been real – worse than ever before. And the reason is this: I’m a pilgrim without a plan.

I landed back in NZ after achieving my 30 by 30 plan with nothing new on the horizon… just a mortgage to pay and a 9 to 5 job.

Not knowing what I’m doing next, where or when I’m going has been a beating to my soul… But let’s be honest, as far as problems go, this is as first world as it gets, so I’m packing away my LTD and getting back on the keyboard to give you guys more tips and tales from my pilgrimages. You’re welcome.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks as I will have a celebratory article about reaching my initial 30 by 30 plan… I WILL come up with a new plan… maybe with your help and I have some crazy tales from Malaysia and India to share with you. There are terror threats, Malaysia Airlines flights and human poo. You want to read this stuff.

Taj

(Oh and here’s a tease of some of the cool stuff I got to see in India – more about this soon)

Humans of the world

people header

Part of the attraction of travel for me is meeting new people and experiencing new cultures.

You could call me nosy (many have) or you could call me curious, curious to see how others live, what puts a smile on their face and what their struggles are.

Over the years I’ve captured some pretty ace photos of people I’ve met around the world from street performers to children in remote villages of Cambodia, and as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Here’s a collection for your enjoyment:

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Jolly Germans playing a tune in a beer hall.

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A street performer makes sweet beats on makeshift drums in London.

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How the guards at Buckingham Palace can stay still for so long is beyond me.

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A train station in Tokyo, so many people but in orderly lines, organised chaos…

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A friendly lass pours me a Suntory Premium Malt at the museum in Kyoto.

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A belly dancer for the crowds enjoyment in Dubai.

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An amazing group of souls I met on my sail Croatia trip when travelling alone.

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There’s some trick to these involving a fake arm and a plank – regardless it’s amazing.

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The jolly gents who entertained the crowd waiting for buses after the ANZAC services at Gallipoli.

 

 

 

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A street performer and I in London.

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An army of dumpling makers at a Michelin Star restaurant in Hong Kong.

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This beautiful being poured us beer in Hanoi (at 20c a glass) for hours.

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This lovely lady has been affected by agent orange (check out her right hand). She and others affected now make and sell art to help them get by.

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Not a playstation in sight yet the kids are still having fun in Vietnam… Intriguing.

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Eamon with a hat seller in Hanoi – look at her face, she was bemused by us.

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Street vendors in Hanoi trying to keep cool.

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The cutest kids ever in a daycare in Hoi An. Love their different expressions.

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A Hoi An farmer showing us how they cook (note his foot – blown off by a land mine in his rice fields).

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Vietnam road safety 101: Don’t worry about a helmet for the child, just pop her in between mum and dad!

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A puppet DJ on the banks of the Thames in London.

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Children with gangster as moves performing in London.

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Amazing performers at a circus in Cambodia.

Mr Fisher taught us about absenth

Mr Fisher who taught us about Absinthe in Austria.




 

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And finally these adorably hilarious kids from a remote village in Cambodia – excited by seeing us white folk roaming their streets. Too cute!

Planning Pilgrimages – Some Top tips

started header

Wanderlust got too much? Need to get on a plane asap? I don’t blame you – best decision you’ll ever make in my rather bias opinion!

But once you know where you want to go then where do you start?

Great question! Here are some tips based on how I plan my pilgrimages.

Planning your pilgrimage:


sites to use and avoid√   I always start with a visit to TripAdvisor. That site is your one stop shop for information, but as per my previous post about reviewers, take every piece of advice on there with a grain of salt… some people just like to moan.

√   For accommodation I’m a booking.com girl through and through. However when you find a hotel you like for the price you like just check the hotels own website – sometimes they have even better deals!

√   For flights I used to use webjet.com, however they don’t list ALL airlines so I’ve started using farecompare.com instead.

For the most accurate result go to your search engine of choice (eg. Google) and type in where you want to fly in and to, it will give you all the options for that route. From there (and yep it’s annoying) compare the airlines through their own websites. It’s truly the only way you get a legitimate comparison. 


 

timing is everything

 

√   Check if there are any big events happening in the area you are visiting, and if you aren’t going to that event maybe book for another time as events mean less accommodation available and at higher prices.

√   Also obviously consider weather/political situation etc.. If there’s a cyclone warning and a political coup it’s probably best to avoid right?

 

 


do a practice run

 

√   I always do at least one round of fake bookings – seeing if I can get flights on the right days, accommodation on the right days etc., then I go back and book.

√   It helps to see if any of your flights/tours are going to mess up the rest of your plans.

√   Just ensure you write down/bookmark your bookings so you remember what you did.

 


pre travel must dos

 

√  Vaccinations and Visas are your two main ‘pre-travel must-dos’ – nothing worse than turning up somewhere and you don’t have the right documentation for a visa, or you get sick as hell!

√   Will you need vaccinations? Check here: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel

√   Will you need visas? Check here: https://www.visahq.com/visas.php

 


documents and dull stuff

 

√   Having all travel details on hand is hugely important when on the road. If you get in a cab and you can’t speak the same language being able to show the driver where you want to go is priceless. You also of course need to know where and when you need to be places.

√   I’m going to do a blog on travel apps that will help you with document control… however I actually kick it old school and (you guessed it) rock a good old fashioned spreadsheet… In there I put flight times/reference numbers/hotel address, contact number etc.. I even put on there all the things I want to do in each town/area… meaning all info is in one place.

If you want a copy of my spreadsheet I’d be happy to share. Just go to the contact me section and give me your email addy 🙂


So there are some of my top tips buf  if you have any please do share!

Happy travelling 🙂

 

Life’s a beach

beaches header

 

√  Sun beaming down on you till your skin turns red.

√  Sand getting in between your toes… and in other crevasses.

√  Hair wet and cascading down your back… into a knotty mess.

That’s when you know life’s a beach – and goddam isn’t it great.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit more than my fair share of beaches. Living on an island I am privy to loads of amazing spots and over the years I’ve travelled to outstanding ocean shores.

So for your viewing pleasure I’ve compiled photos from beaches around the world. Here they are in alphabetical order, basically because I couldn’t pick my favourites 🙂

Amalfi, Italy

Amalfi, Italy

Blenheim 2

Blenheim, New Zealand

Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

Cathedral Cove2

Cathedral Cove, New Zealand

Croatia

Croatia

Croatia2

Croatia

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Fiji

Fiji

Fiji2

Fiji

Gallipoli

Gallipoli, Turkey

Hahei

Hahei, New Zealand

Halong Bay

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Hvar

Hvar, Croatia

Kaikoura

Kaikoura, New Zealand

Koh Samui

Koh Samui, Thailand

Thailand

Koh Tao, Thailand

Maraetai 2

Maraetai, New Zealand

Maraetai

Maraetai, New Zealand

Mission Bay

Mission Bay, New Zealand

Montenegro 2

Montenegro

Montenegro

Montenegro

Nha Trang

Nha Trang, Vietnam

North Shore Auckland

North Shore Auckland, New Zealand

Northland

Northland (Coopers Beach) New Zealand

Omaha nz

Omaha, New Zealand

Positano

Positano, Italy

Queenstown

Queenstown, New Zealand

Rangitoto

Rangitoto, New Zealand

Rangitoto2

Rangitoto, New Zealand

Siem Reap

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Sorrento

Sorrento, Italy

Sounds nz

South Island (Malborough Sounds), New Zealand

Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan

Waiheke

Waiheke, New Zealand

Waiheke2

Waiheke, New Zealand

West coast nz

West Coast, New Zealand

Exciting Liebster Award Nomination

liebster award header1

I’m in my third month as a travel blogger and what a ride it’s been!

It’s so rewarding to get positive comments from friends, family and strangers who are enjoying Pilgrim With A Plan and I love inspiring people to see the world!

The other part of blogging I’m enjoying is connecting with amazing bloggers living incredible lives around the world and I’m humbled by my recent nomination from fellow bloggers One Modern Couple for the Liebster Award.


One Modern Couple

One Modern Couple are my travel/lifespiration they are “delaying major life decisions, such as having children or buying a house” and living “digital nomad lifestyle”. #livingthedream


Liebster Award:

Liebster-Award-LargeThe Liebster Award is like chain mail for bloggers and is a way to learn, share, connect and have a little bit of fun.

Basically you get 11 questions from your nominator then you nominate five other bloggers to answer 11 questions you’ve made up.

Thanks so much to One Modern Couple for the nomination – a true honour and I hope we can meet up somewhere around the world and have a beer one day!


So without further adieu here are my answers…

My Answers:

1. What/who/where made you fall in love with travel?

mum and dadMy parents take sole responsibility for me spending every last cent I earn on seeing the world.

Ever since I was a baby I was in the car travelling around New Zealand. As I got older there were a number of trips to Australia to visit family, then the pinnacle of child travel… Disneyland. #winning

There they are, all cute and dorky on the Great Wall of China (we went together in 2010).

 

 

 

2. If you were given a free flight to the next destination of your choice, where would it be?Tigers-Nest

Bhutan, no doubt in my mind. I’m dying to go there, it sounds remarkable. I’ve even written a blog about how much I want to go there… click here to read it.

Photo cred: himalayanworkshops.com

 

3. Do you keep any mementos from your travels? Anything you collect from each destination?

lightersI’m a lighter collector. I have a big bowl of lighters sitting on my bookshelf, individually reminding me of the great places I have been.

 

 

 

 

 

4. What is one random fact that your followers don’t yet know about you?

I’m a car fanatic. Dad was a rally driver in his younger years, I’ve written for a car magazine and my car is low and loud (too loud for Eamon!).

5. What do you find the most difficult/your biggest struggle while travelling?

diaryThe lack of routine/structure is a problem for me. I am THE MOST structured person. My days follow the same routine, I eat the same things day in, day out (legit) and if I don’t I loose my shit.

Travelling does not usually offer routine/structure, so I set up small routines such as having a wine break at the same time every afternoon and ensuring I write in my diary every day. Haha yes I’m crazy.

 

6. When you are craving a taste of home, what dish do you typically look for while travelling?

A fresh salad. Dull I know, but there’s nothing better or more nourishing for me than a good old fashioned salad.

7. Do you have a “luxury item” that you just can’t travel without?

ghdOh this is embarrassing, but I can’t travel without my hair straighteners. Without them my out of control mane would result in me being captured and put in the lions cage in the local Zoo…

Photo cred: GHD

 

 

 

8. What is your favourite method of transportation while travelling and why?

On the ground… taxi’s. I’m just one of those people who like to do things exactly when I want to do them, and in my own way, so a taxi provides that freedom.

9. What is one major thing you’ve learned since you started blogging?

Blogging is hard work. A lot of time, energy and passion goes in to making a blog work – it’s super rewarding but if you’re thinking of starting one don’t underestimate how much time bloggers spend working!

10. What’s the strangest thing you’ve eaten?
snails

Snails in France… Mmmm garlic snails, delish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Do you have a story where there was a miscommunication or culture difference that resulted in an unfortunate, funny or awkward situation?

Haha yes my Turkish Bath experience… click here to read about it.


So there you have it! Now my turn to nominate…

I nominate:

√  Lauren from Something in her Ramblings

√  Anna from The Legendary Adventures of Anna

√  John from TravelerLife.com

√  Luke from The Anti Travel Guide

√  Aditi from Monologue

And my questions are:

1) What’s one piece of clothing you always pack no matter where you go (other than underwear)?

2) What has been your strangest travel experience?

3) What is it about travel that gets you excited?

4) Who do you love travelling with the most (and it can include yourself)?

5) Are you a hostel or hotel stayer and why?

6) What is the most annoying part of travel for you?

7) What are most of your travel snaps of? Buildings/nature/people? And why?

8) What is the one website you always consult to get tips before you travel?

9) Where’s the one place you would visit over and over again and never get bored of?

10) What do you ensure you learn/know about a country before visiting?

11) What is your favourite part of being a travel blogger?

 

1 Year and 3 Countries to go

30by30header1

Well here we are folks, I’m about to mark my 29th birthday giving me one year to complete my goal of visiting 30 countries by the time I’m 30.

I have some plans in the pipeline to achieve this, but I won’t spoil the surprise – just keep tuned in to Pilgrim With A Plan to see where I end up.

In the mean time I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane, looking at my snaps from all the countries I’ve visited thus far and for your enjoyment I’ve included fun fact about each country.

My Pilgrimages so far:


1

America

America

The United States National Anthem is the only anthem in the world that doesn’t have the name of the country in it.

Pic: My mumma, sister and I at Disneyland, every 7-year-olds dream!!

2

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Australia

If you visited one new beach in Australia every day, it would take over 27 years to see them all.

Pic: Yes that’s me as a child holding a Koala… I know cute right?

3

Austria

Austria

The sewing machine was invented in 1818 by an Austrian.

 

4

Cambodia

Cambodia

The birth rate in Cambodia is three times higher than the death rate.

 

5

China

China

The number one hobby in China is stamp collecting.

 

6

Croatia

Croatia

The necktie was invented in Croatia.

 

7

England

England

The English drink more tea per capita than any other country in the world.

8

Fiji beach

Fiji

Fiji has 28 airports, but only four of them have paved runways.

 

9

France

France

France is the most visited country in the world.

 

10

Germany

Germany

Gummy bears were invented by a German.

 

11

Greece

Greece

Greece has one of the lowest divorce rates in the EU.

 

12

 Ireland

Ireland

Dublin boasts one pub for every 100 people.

13

Italy

Italy

The famous children’s story,  Pinocchio,  was written by an Italian.

 

14

Japan

Japan

Sometimes the trains are so crowded railway staff are employed to cram passengers inside.

 

15

LichtensteinThe entire country of Liechtenstein can be rented for $70,000 a day. Snoop Dogg tried to do it once for a music video – but he didn’t give them enough notice.

16

MexicoChihuahua dogs get their name from a Mexican state.

17

monaco

Monaco

Monaco has more policemen per person than any other country in the world. Crime is not a problem.

 

18

Montenegro

Montenegro

According to studies Montenegro is fast emerging as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world today.

 

19

Amsterdam

Netherlands

70% of the world’s bacon comes from Netherlands.

 

20

Scotland

Scotland

Scotland includes over 790 islands. These include groups called Orkney, Shetland and the Hebrides.

 

21

Spain

Spain

Spain produces 44% of the world’s olive oil.

 

22

Switzerland

Switzerland

In Switzerland, it is illegal to keep just one guinea pig. You got to have them in pairs.

 

23

Thailand

Thailand

One-tenth of all animal species on Earth live in Thailand.

 

24

Turkey

Turkey

The Turkish introduced coffee into Europe.

25

Dubai

UAE (Dubai)

There are ATMs in Dubai that dispense gold bars.

 

26

Vatican

Vatican

The Vatican has its own mail system – with its own Post Office and stamps and many Romans use its services since it is much quicker than the routine Italian postal system.

 

27

Vietnam

Vietnam

Vietnam is the largest exporter of cashews in the world, and the second largest exporter of rice.

 

 

There you have it – don’t say I never teach you anything!

If you want to keep up to date with my adventures subscribe (form on the right of every page), or follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

5 Reasons Reviews are not a travellers best friend

reasons reviews header

The internet – it’s given us so much joy. Videos of cats and kids doing cute things, online shopping etc.. It’s also let any man and his dog voice their opinion through reviews.

Everyone has a right to their opinion, but not everyone’s opinions are right. So when it comes to researching your next trip, remember reviews AREN’T always your best friend and here are my five reasons why.

Note: unfortunately all examples given are REAL reviews from real people… god help us all.

5) Tourists expect to be told everything, and I mean everything:

Pilgrim with a plan brochure

Example:

•  “I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes.”

•  “We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price.”

 

ARE YOU SERIOUS?


4) People don’t take responsibility for themselves or their actions:

number 4 good

Example:

•  “My fiancée and I requested twin-beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed. We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.”

 

IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT YOU’RE HORNY.


3) People are ignorant:

number 3

Example:

•  “When we were in Spain, there were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners.”

•  “On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.”

 

READ A BOOK PEOPLE, READ A BOOK!


2) Some people just like to moan:

pilgrim with a plan 2Example:

•  “The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the bus ride to the resort. Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun.”

•  “We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow.”

FIRST. WORLD. PROBLEMS!


1) The number one reason? People are stupid:

Pilgrim with a plan

Example:

•  “No-one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared.”

•  “It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair.”

•  “It’s a great beach, just too sandy”

SIGH.


Ok ok, so with that said, I do always read reviews before booking – however I’m proving a point… all reviews you read should be taken with a grain (or 10) of salt! Happy researching!

Solo Travel – You CAN do it!

pilgrim with a plan, travel

You’re “alone”, without a significant other, a single female – a cardinal sin or question of your normality of course. Meanwhile your friends are married, having babies or have a sterling career they can’t momentarily eradicate themselves from. But you want to travel. Do you sit by and work your way through the travel shelves in the library, or do you add some stamps to your passport?

Go with the latter.

Two years ago I took a trip through the Amalfi Coast, Istanbul, Croatia and Dubai all sans travel companion and guess what? I wasn’t robbed, poisoned or harmed in any way. Instead I returned with new friends from around the world, amazing memories and a killer tan (hugely important of course).

IMG_0652
IMG_2367

 

Before flying off into the sunset I heard endless horror stories about women travelling by themselves (which have probably put you off to date)… I would lay a bet that 80% of those stories are just that, stories, yarns passed on through the ages just to be told to you when you say “I want to see the world”.

The last statement is not being flippant and I’m certainly not detracting from the fact that bad things do happen to women travelling by themselves. What I’m telling you is that it’s not a reason to avoid travel.

I have five quick tips that helped me get home with my limbs and luggage, I hope they help you…

 

 

Planning your pilgrimage:


Travelling solo - positivity and paranoia

 

Employ a balanced mix of positivity and paranoia

If you think “awesome I’m in *fill the blank* – it’s going to be a good day, but I’m going to hold on tight to my handbag” then you’re on the right track.

 

 


 

solo travel - understand the culture

Understand the expectations of a women in the country you are visiting. It may go against what you believe to be your rights, but it’s in your best interests.

On a brutally hot day in Istanbul it seemed like torture to cover up, I chose not to. Have you ever wondered what a piece of steak feels like when dangled in front of hungry wolves? Lesson learned.

 


solo travel - pick tours wisely

 

This translates into research, research, research! I used Intrepid Travel around the Amalfi Coast (they are popular for single women) and chose a Croatian sailing tour at the start of the season (before the party kids take over), both resulted in me spending my holiday with complete strangers come good mates.

 


solo travel - don't look like a tourist

 

Don’t carry a monster camera around your neck or wave money about as you get it out of a bank machine – basically don’t dangle the bait if you don’t want the piranhas to bite.

 

 


solo travel - learn a bit of the language

 

Finally (and this is a general traveller rule of thumb) learn hello and thank you in the local dialect – it gives you a platform to appear to be a polite traveller rather than an arrogant tourist.

 

 


So there you have it ladies, go forth, get those stamps in your passport and enjoy.