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Travel Advice

Should You Do A Bungee Jump Or A Skydive?

August 20, 2016

Doing a bungee jump or a skydive are often right at the top of a backpacker’s bucket list. But more often than not, you can be a bit strapped for cash as a backpacker and you need to make difficult decisions on what to spend your money on. Personally I’d recommend doing a bungee and a skydive and living off noodles to make it happen but if you really have to choose then I’ve created some pros and cons to each to help you come to a decision.

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Price

In most locations, a skydive is going to be more expensive than a bungee. In Australia for example, a bungee will cost approximately $$$ but a skydive will set you back $$$. If you just want to experience one and only care about price then the bungee jump is the one for you!

bungy jump cairns

Time

By time I mean the amount of time you’re actually doing the bungee jump or skydive for. With a skydive, you’ll usually be in freefall for about a minute and then have a few minutes of floating down to the ground with the parachute open. On the other hand, the bungee will all be over in a matter of seconds. You jump, you fall, you bounce up and down a couple of times and then you’re either lowered to the ground or hoisted back up to the platform. So if you’re looking to get more value out of your hard earned money then you should definitely go for a skydive.

cairns bungy

Souvenirs

Souvenirs aren’t for everyone but I personally love them! The bungee that I did in Australia had a t-shirt included in the price but you had to pay for any extras such as photos or videos. Now the photo of you jumping off the edge is pretty cool but I couldn’t see much value in buying a 60 second video. In all honesty, how often are you going to watch that?

Now the skydives I’ve done in Australia had no freebies and you had to pay for everything. Again, you have the option to buy both photos and a video. Do NOT buy the photos if you’re planning on getting the video because you can take screenshots of the video when you play it on a laptop. Ta Da! Free photos! Having a video of your entire skydive is pretty cool but again, consider how often you’re going to watch it! If you’re low on money then souvenirs are probably not going to be an option but if you really want one then go for the skydive video.

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Fear Factor

The big difference in fear comes down to the fact that when you do a skydive, you’re attached to a trained instructor but when you do a bungee, you have to do the actual jumping bit on your own. Don’t get me wrong, both experiences give you a huge adrenalin rush but when you jump off that platform to do a bungee jump, you’re going against everything your body wants to do. Mt advice is to look straight ahead and jump as soon as the countdown reaches 0. Don’t be that person that takes about 4 countdowns before they can actually jump.

With a skydive, your instructor is the one who jumps out of the plane leaving you to enjoy the whole experience. Freefalling through the air doesn’t even feel like falling, you feel like you’re flying. It’s incredible.

Overall Experience

This is obviously down to personal opinion and you might feel completely different to me but I enjoyed the skydive so much more than the bungee jump. When I landed after my skydive I was on such a high that I wanted to get back in the plane and do it all over again. The views from a skydive are phenomenal and my instructor let me take control of the parachute for a bit which was cool.

I enjoyed the bungee but I wasn’t as fussed about doing one again in a hurry. I think that’s because it’s over so quickly. A skydive might cost more but it’s definitely worth the extra money. And if you buy the video, you get that exhilarating feeling all over again when you watch it back!

Have you done a bungee jump or a skydive? Do you agree with me?

 

Travel Advice, Travel Book Series

Why You Should Keep A Diary When Travelling

August 10, 2016

Life is full of wonderful experiences and when you’re surrounded by such fantastic sights and sounds, it seems impossible that you will ever forget this moment. But as we experience more and more equally wonderful moments, it can be hard to remember the little details which made it so special in the first place. This is why it’s important to keep a diary, especially when  travelling.

Ever since I was little I’ve been one to keep a diary. I now have lots of diaries to look back on from school days, holidays and everything in between. I cringe reading some of them again and I’m amazed at what I used to worry about. What scares me though is how many people and places I’ve forgotten about. They were important enough for me to mention in my diary and now I can barely recall them!

When you travel the world, you meet so many other travellers that it’s impossible to remember them all. You might only spend 1 day with them or it might extend to a few months. You add them on Facebook and then move on. But these people who you have crazy adventures with deserve to be remembered. So write about them! Put a face to the name when you discover pictures from your travels in years to come. It will prompt you to try and get back in touch with these people who were an important part of your life at one point.

Write everything you can about that trip you just went on. Describe the smells and the sounds as these are the first things you forget. Explain how something made you feel. It’s amazing how reading a diary can bring back so many memories. You’ll read your diary and find yourself laughing out loud one minute and crying the next as all the details come flooding back to you.

Lots of travellers I meet say that they started out with good intentions and kept a diary for the first couple of weeks but then forgot about it. I’m not saying you have to write in your diary everyday, you don’t want it to feel like a chore, but make the effort to write names, quotes and random memories down as much as possible. Add tickets, leaflets, photographs etc to your diary to help prompt the memories as well. If you’re anything like me then you will be keeping all of these things in your suitcase anyway!

Don’t let something as important as travel become a distant memory. Your diary will be worth more to you in years to come than that random vest you bought in Thailand.

keeping a diary when travelling 2

Travel Advice

How To Stay Clean At Glastonbury – with Pits and Bits Wash Kit 

June 16, 2016

I love Glastonbury Festival and I can’t wait to go again next week. My least favourite part is trying to stay clean in a muddy field for 5 days. Gross. Apparently there are showers but I’ve never met anyone who’s showered at Glastonbury! This is where the Pits and Bits Wash Kit comes in handy.

At previous festivals, I’ve used hundreds of baby wipes and hand sanitiser to try and freshen up and last year I washed my hair in a bucket – not easy when you have hair that’s as long and thick as mine! These methods are okay but I still feel really grubby after a couple of days. My main problem is not being able to wash my hair properly as I usually wash my hair every other day and it really suffers if I leave it any longer than that. I’m really jealous of you people who can go for days without washing their hair!

The beauty of the Pits and Bits Wash Kit is that you can wash your body and your hair WITHOUT water. That’s right, shampoo and shower gel that doesn’t need water! It sounds like madness but I’m so excited to give it a try. The theory is that the lotions foam up enough on their own and then you just towel dry your hair/body! My mum used the shower gel when she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last year (just casually dropping that in there…) and raved about it afterwards so I’m hoping the shampoo is just as good.

The other part of the wash kit is these expandable wipes. Did you ever have those flannels that expanded in water when you were a kid? Well they’re just like that! Ideal if you don’t have much space or don’t want to carry any extra weight. I’ve heard that they don’t actually expand to a very big size so I might take an actual towel for back up but I’ll let you all know how I get on.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to a clean Glastonbury festival and praying for sunshine. Look out for me on TV, I’ll be the one singing along to Adele with squeaky clean hair!

Travel, Travel Advice

Keeping in touch with friends you meet travelling

February 4, 2016

The people you meet when you’re travelling and the times you spend together will form some of the best memories of your life. It’s crazy how close you can become in such a short amount of time. The problem with travelling is that everyone is always moving on to another city, country or even heading home. So how do you keep in touch with these friends that you’ve met travelling?

Obviously Facebook makes it easy to see what your friends are up to. You can ‘like’ photos and send messages about how much you miss each other and how you ‘must’ meet up soon. Sound familiar? We’re all terrible for saying these kind of things and never actually arranging anything. I get it, life’s busy for everyone but we really should make more of an effort to see people again. Seeing travel friends again is such a good experience. You can reminisce about that time in Australia and then go make new memories in whatever country you’re meeting up in.

Stu and I have met up with friends that we spent months with in Australia and Bali and we always have a good time. We all miss travelling and when we’re together it feels like we’re back in that backpacker lifestyle. It definitely helps you get over that horrible feeling we all get when we’re home. So next time you think about much you’re missing your travel pals, make the effort and arrange to meet up!

Travel Advice

Christmas Ideas for Backpackers!

November 17, 2015

It’s always difficult knowing what to buy someone who is travelling over Christmas. You want to buy the backpacker in your life something special but know that they probably don’t have room for much more in their bag! Well luckily for you, I’ve come up with a few ideas for presents that a backpacker would want for Christmas and will have space for.

  1. Food from home.  When I was away, I missed British chocolate so much! It just didn’t taste the same in Australia and they didn’t even sell some of my favourite products. Sending a backpacker a parcel filled with food from home will go down a treat – they’ll easily be the most popular kid in the hostel if they have a big bar of Galaxy to share around. British Online Supermarket sell  a whole range of items that can be shipped worldwide.
  2. An ASOS voucher. ASOS also ship worldwide so if you think that clothes would be more appreciated than food, then a voucher is the way to go. When you’re travelling, you grow tired of your clothes really easily. By buying them a voucher, they will be able to easily freshen up their wardrobe/backpack.
  3. Underwear! A backpacker always needs more pairs of pants. When their pants are all dirty, they have to do their laundry – something everyone hates to do in a hostel. More pants = more time between washes. You’ll be loved!
  4. Coordinates Jewellery. You can now buy jewellery with engraved coordinates which I think is a lovely idea. You could send someone a bracelet with the coordinates of somewhere they’ve visited or even the coordinates of their home. Even the most avid travellers like to think of home sometimes! This gift is a great idea if you want to get something extra special – have a look around on Coordinates Collection.
  5. A handwritten letter and photos. Let’s get traditional now. Nothing is really going to beat a letter from home and some recent photos. It will be really appreciated if your backpacker is feeling homesick and they can carry it around with them to read over and over again. Definitely include a picture of the family pet as I found most people miss their dogs more than their siblings!

And for the traveller who has come home for Christmas, head to Paperchase and check out their great range of scrapbooks and photo albums to make sure they remember their special trip forever.

Christmas ideas for backpackers

Travel Advice

Australia – The Essentials

September 11, 2015

So you’ve booked your flight to Australia after months of planning and now you can’t wait to arrive and start the trip of a lifetime! Before you get too carried away though, there are a couple more things to think about before you get to the land down under. Nothing annoys me more than seeing companies charge you for this information. It’s all so easy to do yourself! If you have any questions on the information below just contact me here.

This information is for UK Citizens and may differ for all other nationalities.

Visa

The type of visa you need depends on how long you plan on being in Australia for and why you are visiting the country. There are student visas, tourist visas and business visas. The most popular for backpackers is the working holiday visa (417) where you can stay for up to 12 months and work to fund your stay. You can only work for any employer for up to 6 months but hopefully you’ll be travelling around this amazing country too much for this to ever be an issue! Check out the Australian government website for up to date information on visas including the cost and apply directly on the website.

Bank Account

If you’re going to staying in Australia for an extended amount of time, you’re going to need a bank account. Overseas charges can be huge and if you’re going to be working, you’ll have to get paid in to an Australian account. Stu and I used Commonwealth and set up our accounts so they were ready to use the day we landed in Melbourne. You can set up your account on the Commonwealth website and then arrange a meeting with bank manager to pick up your card when you arrive. If you wait until you get to Australia to set up an account, you’ll be waiting a few weeks for your bank card to arrive and then it will take a few days for your funds to transfer from your UK account to your Australian one. Commonwealth also have a great savings account so you can earn a decent amount of interest on any money in there!

Tax File Number (TFN)

Unfortunately, you will get taxed on any money you earn in Australia. The good news is that you can claim it back at the end of the financial year (June). Just think of it as an extra savings account, it’s a great feeling getting all that money back in one go. In order to get taxed the right amount you will need to give your employer your TFN. You can apply for this online and you’ll be sent your number in the post after a couple of weeks.

Mobile Phone

If you’re going to be using the same phone that you have at home you need to make sure that it’s unlocked so you can use an Australian sim card when you arrive. Your operator should have information on this on their website. O2 unlocked mine for free but EE charged Stu about £20 so check if you will be charged or not.

Like anywhere, Australia has a choice of networks for you to go with. Shop around for the best deal but I always found Optus to be the best for coverage and value.

Medicard

Goodbye beloved NHS, healthcare isn’t free in Australia! Fortunately there’s a handy little scheme called Medicare which can help you with any medical issues whilst you are in Oz. You apply for your card, visit a Medicentre and have a chat with the staff in there. You’ll need your passport and details of where you are staying and then you’re good to go!

So there you have it, some important essentials to think about if you’re heading to Australia for a year. Get those sorted as soon as possible and then you can do all the fun stuff like booking your East Coast Trip!

  

Travel, Travel Advice

Booking Flights – Using a Travel Agent Vs Doing It Yourself

September 6, 2015


So you’ve been busy saving and now it’s time to book those flights! Do you head over to your local travel agent in town or do you browse the web and book the cheapest flight you see? Other travellers I’ve met seem to be in one camp or the other. You’re either Team Travel Agent or Team Online. I’ve booked flights with STA Travel and I’ve browsed Skyscanner to find the best deals. From hearing people’s horror stories, there’s definitely pros and cons to each.

Team Travel Agent

There’s a lot of travel agents out there and a lot aimed specifically at backpackers. The most common one is probably STA Travel. They’re an international company and you’re bound to be near one where ever you are in the world. Both times I’ve been to Australia, I’ve booked my flight with STA. Although I never had any issues I did hear of people who did.

The main benefit of using a travel agent is the support in store. It’s literally their job to help you. Hundreds of backpackers have booked the exact same trip that you’re planning on doing so the staff know the best time of year to fly, the best airlines and where to stopover. If you don’t have any time constraints then let them hunt around for the best deal. STA also give discount if you’re a student or under 26 which is a massive bonus. Another good deal that STA do is a little add-on which allows you to change your flights once your trip has started – ideal for the backpacker who has no idea how long they want to stay in each country for!

A downside to using an agent, is the agency fees. If you’ve got a discount then hopefully you’re still saving money in comparison to booking direct with the airline, but always check you’re getting the best deal! Some people also complain that agents aren’t very helpful if you need to make any changes to your booking. I’ve never experienced this but ask around friends to see what their experience was like with travel agents.

Doing It Yourself

When I say ‘doing it yourself’ I mean booking with the airline direct or using a comparison service such as Skyscanner. I cannot recommend using Skyscanner enough. It’s so easy to compare and book flights and will save you so much money. You can either do it on the website or there is an app to use on the go. If you want some inspiration for where you want to travel to next then you can just select your nearest airport and select ‘To Anywhere’ to see cheap flights to countries all over the world.

When booking directly, the responsibility is on you. You need to make sure that you read the fine print, check what your baggage allowance is and any visas you may need. Find out what the cancellation policy is and whether you have to have travel insurance to fly. Double and triple check all your details before booking. All relatively simple stuff but you would be amazed at the mistakes people make.


How do you book your flights? Ever had any issues with STA or Skyscanner? Comment below or tweet me @frankiegoesto__

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Travel, Travel Advice

How Much Money Do I Need To Go Travelling?

August 22, 2015


The question “How much money do I need to go travelling?” is probably the one I get asked the most from people wanting to give travelling a go. It’s also probably one of the hardest to answer because there are so many factors to consider. There isn’t a set amount of money to take because your trip will be individual. Everybody wants to see different countries and do different things in those countries. Some people work, others don’t. One person wouldn’t dream of staying in a hostel whereas someone else won’t stay in anything else. You can see how impossible it is to tell someone how much money they are going to need! I realise that you do need some sort of answer though so here’s a few things to take into consideration when planning your trip.

Where do you want to go?

The amount of money you will need to travel in different countries can differ so much. South East Asia is notoriously cheap but Australia and New Zealand are known to be very expensive. Once you’ve decided where you want to go, do your research on the country to see how much accommodation and food costs. Talk to people you know who have been there and see how much they spent on a daily basis.

How long do you want to travel for?

This obviously has a massive impact on the amount of money you need. You might not know exactly how long you’ll be away for but if you have a rough idea that will help. Knowing how long you will be in each country for is good for knowing what type of visa you need. For example, you can get a free tourist visa if you’re in Australia for 3 months but if you’re staying a year, you’ll need a working holiday visa which you will need to pay for.

Do you want to work during your trip?

If you’re going to work then you don’t need to take as much money with you as your savings will be topped up whilst you are away. You should also think about when you want to work. If you’re going to work straight away then you don’t need to take as much away but if you don’t want to work for the first 3 months or so then you need to make sure you have enough to fund yourself until then. Finding a job isn’t always easy either. Make sure you don’t have to work literally straight away as it might take weeks to find a job.

Hotel or Hostel?

Most backpackers are happy to stay in hostels and most are really nice these days. You still get the odd dodgy one but it’s all part of the experience! Use Hostelbookers to compare hostels in the area. You can sort by price and read reviews from other travellers which is always useful. Hostels also have a choice of dorm or private rooms and shared or ensuite bathrooms. Dorms with shared bathrooms are the cheapest but sometimes you just need a good sleep and a privacy so be prepared to pay more if you occassionly want a private room.

If you want to be a flashpacker then you’ll be turning your nose up at hostels and staying in hotels the whole trip. This is a LOT more expensive so don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Travelling alone, as a couple or in a group?

The reason I ask this is because you can get the odd discount for booking trips/rooms as a group. You’re only going to save a bit of money but everything helps when you’re a backpacker! This also helps for buying food. Cooking as a group or as a couple will save you tons of money, and it’s fun!

The best thing to do is always take more than you will need. Plans change daily when you are travelling and you never know when you might have to spend more than you originally thought. Learning to budget is all part of the backpacker experience so don’t worry about money too much. It’s exciting that you’re thinking of going to travelling so start saving and look forward to all your amazing adventures ahead!


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Lists, Travel Advice

How To Survive An Overnight Bus

August 15, 2015

I’ve been known to say that the worst part of travelling is the travelling part. Makes no sense I know. Don’t get me wrong, when you’re sat on the top of a boat as you pull in to one of Thai islands, you’re feeling pretty good and you forget about the journey once you step on to a golden beach. But to get to paradise you’ve sometimes got to survive some horrific overnight buses. Your bus may be in Thailand or Australia, be old or new but the fact of the matter is, you’ve still got to be on a bus for 12 hours. Just thinking about it brings back bad memories!

I’ve been on my fair share of overnight buses (one was 22 hours from Alice Springs to Darwin) and although it’s never going to that pleasant, there are ways of making journey a hell of a lot easier!

  1. Neck Cushion – A true lifesaver when trying to catch some sleep on a bus. Without a neck cushion, your choices are either leaning on a shaking window or dribbling on the shoulder on the person your sat next to. I have a fantastic neck cushion called the J Pillow which as well as supporting your neck, has an extra ‘arm’ to lean your head on – something I think normal neck cushions definitely lack! Here’s Kara from Heels In My Backpack giving her review on Youtube!
  2. Eye Mask – Not everyone wants to sleep on an overnight bus so take an eye mask to block out any lights people have on around you and to make it clear that you want some shut eye even if they don’t!
  3. Jumper/Scarf – The air-con on buses can be very temperamental in my opinion, they either seem to be freezing or uncomfortably hot. Take something warm just in case and I always find that having a big scarf over me makes me feel like I’m under a blanket and therefore more likely to fall asleep.
  4. Bug Spray – Overnight buses seem to be a haven for mosquitoes. I always find myself covered in bites the next day so make sure you give yourself a quick spray before you get on and cover up any exposed skin.
  5. Entertainment – 12 hours is a long time to be sat on a bus and you’re unlikely to be able to sleep for it all. Take your iPod and listen to some music,watch a film on your laptop or read a book. Anything to make the morning come around that little bit quicker. I find this a great time to catch up on my travel diary.
  6. Water and Snacks – You’ll feel better the next day if you keep yourself hydrated and fed. Most buses stop at service stations but the selection of food and drink can sometimes be limited or just plain weird if you’re in Asia so take something with you.
  7. Wet Wipes and Tootbrush/Toothpaste – You will be dying for a shower when you get off a bus so take these to have a quick freshen up before you get off and feel a little bit human again. That hostel shower will feel great!

I hope these tips help you survive your next overnight bus. They may not be your first choice of transport but they’re cheap and save you a nights accommodation. Don’t worry you’ll soon be at your next destination!

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Travel, Travel Advice

Should you go travelling with your boyfriend or girlfriend?

April 17, 2015

When I get asked who I went travelling with, a lot of people are surprised when I say I went with my boyfriend. They’re even more surprised when I say that we are still together. I’m not going to lie, travelling with your partner will put a lot of strain on your relationship but Stu and I are proof that you can go travelling together, have lots of fun and come home still together!

There are benefits of travelling in a couple, just like there are benefits of travelling alone or with friends. There is no right or wrong way to travel, you just have to learn what is right for you and that might change along your journey.

In true backpacker style, one of the most important benefits in going with your partner is it can be cheaper! Now before you get too excited, I’m not talking about some crazy 2 for 1 deal. It’s more like the cost of 1 and a half people than paying for 2 individuals. This is down to few things. You buy your food shops together so can take advantage of more offers and use the whole of that bag pasta you would otherwise have to buy on your own and leave half in the hostel kitchen. (I do miss the free shelf!) You can also occasionally save on accommodation. Double rooms tend to be more expensive but you can sometimes get away with just buying one single bed.  The downside of this is obviously having to share the single bed so try and do this on nights where it’s going to be late one so minimum time is spent in bed!

This next reason can be seen as both a pro and a con. You have someone with you all the time. Living out of each other’s pockets is not easy. We all need some time on our own and the sooner you realise when someone needs some space, the better. Don’t get offended if your partner wants to do something on their own, you don’t have to be two peas in a pod for the whole of your trip. The good side of having someone with you constantly is that you always have someone to talk to. They’re the perfect link to home when the time difference means you can’t talk to someone you’re missing. I found this invaluable on days where I was feeling a bit home sick. If you’re not someone who shares everything with new friends then it’s perfect having someone with you that you can trust with anything. Stu also looked after me during my clumsy moments when I almost left belongings behind in the most random places.

What you have to realise about travelling as a couple is that it is going to be very different to travelling with friends or on your own. It can be harder to make friends because people don’t tend to approach couples for a chat. They assume that you want to be left alone. The best thing about travelling is the people that you meet so you really don’t want to miss out on this. Just approach people yourselves, once you’re in a group people won’t care that you’re together and see you as individuals. Nights out as a couple are obviously different to a night with the boys, so make sure you are not one of those couples that argue after a couple of drinks and leave before everyone else. No one likes those guys.

My Dad gave Stu and I some sensible advice before we left. He said that no matter how much we argued, we were not to storm off on our own. We’ve all read the stories of backpackers who have walked home alone and terrible things can happen. Just be sensible even if you do hate their guts at that very moment.

It doesn’t matter who you travel with, you’re probably going to argue with them at some point. If this becomes a constant issue, its fine to go your separate ways. Plenty of friends start their journey together but then discover they don’t work well when travelling. You might get along fine and just want to travel to different places next. This is okay! Just make sure you are enjoying yourself and making the most of every opportunity.

I loved travelling with Stu and wouldn’t change a single moment. To me, there was no one better to experience travelling the world with. We made brilliant friends, some couples and plenty of solo travellers. Travel teaches you not to judge anyone so don’t be afraid of befriending people that you wouldn’t hang out with at home.