2019 Travel Roundup

Tuesday 31 December 2019

This year has been an odd one. I wasn't sure I even wanted to write this post but I know how much I enjoy looking back at my travel round ups so I'm writing this for future me; but and also for present me, to remind myself that although I am finding things hard right now, this year hasn't been all bad.

I started 2019 in London with Jonny but it wasn't long before we were off to explore a little bit of Europe since he'd never been to this side of the world before.


Our first stop was Amsterdam and we decided to go by Eurostar - coming from New Zealand, he loved the idea of getting a train to another country so I went with it. With one day to ourselves, we managed to squeeze in a canal ride, the sex museum, a lot of pancakes and an evening wandering around the red light district.

The rest of our time was spent with his long lost family which was pretty cool - his granddad left the Netherlands for an adventure after the war and ended up in NZ. We spent loads of time with them over the next two days, going out to see the windmills, eating traditional dutch food and swapping stories of life of opposite sides of the world.


From Amsterdam we flew to Rome. I've actually been in the Capital a few times before but only on a cruise so I really enjoyed finally getting to explore the Colosseum and the Vatican. As well as that, it meant that we were actually there long enough to eat. Italy as a whole was a foodie highlight of the year for me!

Rome was a huge bargain because we were there in low season. Our 3 star hotel, a few minutes walk from the station, cost €160 for us both for 5 nights. On top of that, most resturants had amazing food deals on and we were going out for three course meals, plus a glass of prosecco for €12 each. It was awesome.


Having realised my love of land travel when I was in Southeast Asia, I decided to book us a train to our next stop - Venice. It's such a unique city but it was just too expensive and a little bit crowded for us. After we'd seen the church and wandered around the shops for a few hours, we didn't have too much left to spend. Luckily, one thing that was pretty cheap was the alcohol so we spent our evenings sat out on the Grande Canal eating pizza and drinking €2.50 cocktails.


We came back to London to regroup before our 5 weeks apart, since Jonny hadn't been home to see his parents for months. During our last week in London we did some more touristy bits, heading to south bank for the London eye and the aquarium, eating our way around Chinatown and wandering around Trafalgar square for what felt like hours looking for a statue that he wanted to see.

After Jonny went home, I stayed for another month or two and made the most of it by spending as much time as possible with my friends, family and Molly.


After four months on the Gold Coast in 2018, we had decided to try somewhere new for the rest of our year in Australia. Somehow, we agreed on Brisbane and if I'm honest, it was a complete disaster, I hated it there so that didn't last long. As soon as Jonny arrived; a week after me, we got on a bus and went straight back to Surfers Paradise.

Between walking along the huge motorways and the worst jet lag of my life, I did manage to see a few bits of the city - like the man made beach and a couple of markets.

Surfers Paradise 

Australia is one of the best countries to live in for older people and it was also my favourite place to live in! Life back in Surfers was awesome. Jonny and I moved into a huge house that backed out on to the canal, in the perfect location, just down the road from where we lived before.

We made a bit more of an effort to see everything this time around too so there were more adventures from seeing my first kangaroos and koalas to hiking around Springbrook national park. Plus I managed to get an amazing job and made some new friends too.


It seemed such a waste to have to fly home from Australia and not stop off somewhere faraway on the way. With my friend Luke having some free time, we decided to head to Bali and chill out at a fancy air bnb for a week. Between Ubud, Canggu and Seminyak, we spent most of our time eating - because the food in Bali is so incredible.

Mediterranean Cruise

I came home in the middle of summer and really enjoyed it at the start but it wasn't long before I was itching to go away again. Luckily my next trip was only a month later.

It was our first family holiday in years and along with my parents and both of my brothers, we cruised around the Mediterranean for 12 nights, stopping off for a different adventure each day.


After another few months back home, I was bored and ready for some more excitement so I booked a flight to Thailand and was off on my way the day after. It was a really hard time for me at home and if I'm honest, I was just running away.

I did however enjoy my two week escape and as per usual, I didn't want to come back at the end of it.


and of course the annual trip to the Birmingham Christmas market. Highlights from this years trips include visiting the worlds biggest Primark and dinner at the cutest christmassy restaurant by the canal for my dads birthday.

and now it's new years eve. How crazy. Sadly, this post hasn't been a happy one to write but whilst the last few months have been an actual living nightmare, it's getting better and I am slowly starting to feel hopeful again. I feel excited at the prospect of feeling better and I'm excited for whats to come in the next 12 months.

I have been very lucky to have had another year of travel and I hope that I am able to continue with this incredible lifestyle in 2020 but I also want it to be.. happier. Hopefully I'll be able to look back this time next year and say I've achieved that, and more. 

The most magical time to visit Chaing Mai

Thursday 19 December 2019

Within days of arriving, Chiang Mai fast became my favourite destination in Southeast Asia. It's less crazy than Bangkok, the food is cheap and delicious and there is so much to do, making it an awesome destination year round; but having done this a few times now I can tell you will full confidence that plan your visit at the right time and you will experience this cultural town in northern Thailand at it's most magical.

Thailand has lots of festivals throughout the year and at the beginning of November, the country celebrates Loy Krathong. This is an enchanting festival by its own standard but celebrate it in Chiang Mai and you'll get to experience the wonders of Yi Peng the following day.

This year, the Loy Krathong celebrations started on the 10th November and Yi Peng, on 11th and 12th.

The whole city gets involved but as a backpacker, my favourite place to be is at Stamps backpacker hostel. I've stayed in 4 or 5 different hostels during my time in Chiang Mai and it is by far the best in terms for almost everything! Great location, comfortable accommodation but most importantly for me, the people who work there are the people who stay.

Loy Krathong loosely translates to 'to float a basket' and the festivities involve building an offering and floating it along the river to pay respect to the water spirits - and that's just what we did. Stamps organised all the bits and pieces we'd need and taught us how to create a traditional krathongs using a slice of tree trunk, folded banana leaves with toothpicks to keep them in place and flowers for decoration.

We walked down to the river as a big group, added a candle and three incense sticks to our krathongs and set them off along the river to join the hundreds of others floating downstream; there was something very Disney-esqu about the whole experience.

The next evening was the first night of Yi Peng, the lantern festival. The big celebrations happen on this day at the Mae Jo university which is about 15km out of town but to go to the actual ceremony, it costs hundreds of dollars so many people, including us gather by the river just outside. Stamps booked up coaches to take us there from Chiang Mai center and upon arriving, we bought lanterns and noodles at the street market and headed to the river bank to set them off by the water.

After writing our hopes and dreams on them, we lit the ring inside and waited for them to fill up with hot air. They're quite tricky to get right and require a few hands but it's a lot of fun to do together and it was great for group bonding.

By 8pm, the official ceremony started and all of a sudden, the sky opposite from where we were standing was full with thousands of lanterns; all launched into the sky at once. We all just stood there in awe, it was an absolutely magical sight.

And once they were far enough away, the fireworks started too.

This year, I missed last night of the festivities because I had plans in Bangkok but from my experience the first time around, this night is best spent in the city. With a big parade and the usual street market madness, there are people literally everywhere. Excited children and tourists who don't really know what they're mean that most of the lanterns got caught up in trees and fell to the ground in a big ball of flames so be wary if you do go out.

It was utter chaos if I'm honest but I loved every second!

5 reasons why you have to stay at a Bali airbnb

Wednesday 27 November 2019

My travel styles have been known to hit both ends of the spectrum. When I was in full time employment, my holidays were limited to 25 days a year and consequently, I spent all of my money on them, they were pretty indulgent. Now that I no longer have a limit - or a stable income - and I have discovered a whole new way of traveling; my trips are much longer and cost much less.

As such, I'd never had any inkling to use Air bnb. Unlike your typical millennial, I guess I kind of just found the whole thing a bit mediocre, but that all changed when I switched the location of my searches to Bali, Indonesia and I realised that I could get my over indulgence back at a price I could afford!

I had my first, and second Airbnb experience this summer and while I still have absolutely no interest to use the service anywhere else, I would 100% recommend using it if you plan to visit Bali. Here are 5 reasons why:

Value For Money

Considering just how nice these places are, you'd be surprised at how much they cost. Air bnb prices per property, not per person and between us, our budget was £50. I was there with just one friend which obviously made it £25 per night each but the villa actually slept 4 making it ridiculously cheap per head. It's pretty standard to pay £20 per night for a nice hostel in Bali so this was incredible value for money and we were both very pleased with ourselves.


People rent these places out to live in, not just to holiday in and so they have all the everyday facilities you'd need which is not something you often find with a hotel or a hostel. As Schofields points out, having things like an oven and a washing machine makes life much easier for guests and whilst Luke took advantage of the kitchen, if you know me, you'll know full well that I went out to eat at any and every opportunity.

The private pools however, are something I took full advantage of and are where I spent most of my time.

Low Cost Luxe

The first time I went to Bali a few years back, I spent an embarrassing amount of money. I don't regret it because I stayed at the most incredible villas, but as I've become much more aware of life without a travel agent, I've realised that I could have very easily done it myself for a fraction of the price. The villas that I sourced and booked myself through Air BnB were just as good, if not better.


Hostels have their benefits and for me, the fact that there are people around all the time is something I like when I'm traveling alone; but privacy is not their strong point.

I loved being able to unpack, to leave things on the floor, to make as much mess as I wanted and know that everything was going to be just where I left it when I got back. As well as privacy from the rest of the world, having a double bed and a room all to myself, plus my own outside en suite was awesome.

Unique Accommodation

A private pool and outdoor bathrooms were all I was after and Luke just wanted modern so our villas were smart and clean cut with a Balinese charm.

Some of them though, were so unique - Air bnb is an amazing place to find something different! Things like tree houses and little huts were a norm among the listings so I'd love to stay somewhere really quirky next time!

For my first experience though, it was very good! I'm glad I did it with a friend but I would be confident to use the service solo now I've seen how it works. Everything looked as the photos showed and our hosts were great when we couldn't find the address and very helpful when Luke forgot all his electronics after we left.

So if like me, you've never used air bnb before, hopefully this'll convince you to give it a go on your next trip! I can't wait to do it again. 

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re-adjusting to reality

Tuesday 19 November 2019

My Australian visa ran out in July and coming home was fun at first; I had weddings to go to, a family holiday to look forward to and lots of people to catch up with - plus the British summer had improved majorly since I left. But after a couple of months, the weather turned grey, reality of it all being over set in and these last few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster. No one ever talks about what it's like to come home; I am at a very odd stage of coming to terms with my new/old life.

So, as you might have noticed, the re-adjusting wasn't going too well and I decided to go back to Thailand. I should probably start working towards a future in the UK but I just wanted a couple of weeks to debrief first; to get my thoughts together and to start thinking about what I'm going to do when I get home. So here's my plan..
Wearing BMTH Band tee and sparkly wide leg trousers


I never bothered to drive much when I was at home but in Australia, I learned what it was like to have the freedom of my own transport and it's not something I want to give up. I don't need a car full time since I'd like to go back to work in London but I will be looking at the best temporary car insurance I can find so I have the option. 

Get Back To Blogging

Before I left in 2017, my blog was going from strength to strength. I was being invited on one press trip after another and in between those, I took days at home to sit down and concentrate on writing all about them. I had a routine and a bit more discipline in my life at that point but as soon as I left to go backpacking, that all went out of the window.

I've had three awesome trips since coming home this summer, plus the past three years of memories whizzing around in my head and I think I'm finally back in the mindset to start writing again!

Get Healthy 

I caught a horrible cold last month and it honestly knocked me out for weeks. Then I went away; although I've managed to squeeze in one workout whilst in Thailand so I'm looking forward to getting back to it at home - I think it'll probably also help with the keeping my mind busy as well which is something else I really need to focus on because as you can imagine with the boredom of unemployment, my head had been a bit of a mess. 

Talking of which, I was recently sent a bottle of 5% CBD oil from Mistatera and it seems to really help so that's something I think I will keep going with. I've never even so much as smoked a joint so I was a little bit scared at first but after doing a little research I decided to give it a go. The CBD resin is dissolved in coconut oil and just one drop a day, under the tongue where it can easily soak into your blood stream seems to have calmed my racing mind. I wont lie, I'm an over thinker (that's why it took my 3 weeks to decide to give it a go) and whilst a few things have been driving me crazy over the last few weeks, when I take the oil, I still over think but there isn't a panic about the outcome, just calm, rational thoughts. 

Job Hunt

So I do actually have a cute little part time job which I really enjoy but I need something proper, something to fill the my time and something that I need to use my brain for. 

Have Fun

I guess I kind of forgot that it is possible to have fun at home too - I just need to make a bit more of an effort. As much as I just want to stay in bed and watch Netflix with Matt when it's cold, I've been making a conscious effort to try and plan fun things to do together at the weekend so I don't feel sad when Monday rolls around and I've spent all weekend in bed.


I've got a similar thing with my friends. Coming home is weird; everyone is married, engaged or buying a house, plus Georgia is moving countries so I think I need to work on getting to know my friends again as well.

Make Plans 

This is a bit of a weird one because I hate making solid plans for the future but I know that when I don't have anything to look forward to, I get really sad; and apparently impulsive - which I why am now writing this post from a hammock in Thailand. 

So without booking anything, I'm starting to think about where and when I want to go next. 

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Thursday 7 November 2019

How am I feeling? My heart is racing. I'm excited, nervous and a little bit sad all at the same time. I've just got my flight confirmation; I leave in two days.

I got back from my last trip just over a month ago and I have been going stir crazy with no trips to look forward to and no job to fill my time. All I've been doing is thinking about the adventures of the past three years; the ups, the downs, the people I met, the places I lived and it has in all honesty been driving me crazy. I need something new to think about. 

I've had enough of feeling sorry for myself. I want to have some fun so I'm going back to Thailand. Only for two weeks mind, but hopefully I'll be in a better frame of mind to restart my life in England for real when I get back.

Time to get packing!

How to stay fit whilst traveling

Thursday 31 October 2019

You leave your eating routine and normal food behind and are thrown into something totally unfamiliar in every way when you go travelling. In Thailand and Vietnam especially, the streets are filled with the noises and smells of freshly cooked food and I just couldn't resist it.

Although to counteract that, you're no longer sat at a desk 9 hours a day. You've got to lug your backpack around and explore your new surroundings in the blistering heat so your weight and wellbeing could go either way.

I however took a carry on case - so there was no lugging to be done (tactical) plus I'm not a big nature lover so there wasn't much intensity to my exploring. As such, it wasn't exactly a surprise that  I put on over a stone in three months; food was such a huge part of my experience that it was inevitable. 
Once I realised what was happening, I decided to take a little bit more care of my body whilst I was out having fun. Here are some simple ways that I kept myself healthy:


I wasn't a confident cyclist when I was in in Asia, but 8 months of Uber eats in Australia changed that. My bike was my life when I lived in Surfers Paradise, not only earning me money but giving me freedom as well as keeping me fit. I fell in love with cycling there and aspire to be like these incredible people and continue my new hobby for years to come.

I will always regret not taking a cycle tour in Hoi An because I was scared so I'd love to go back and do that one day now.


Surprisingly enough, I started my gym habit whilst I was in Vietnam. I was waiting for my NZ visa to come through and had exhausted everything else so I decided to go to the gym for entertainment. It cost me £3 per session and I actually felt great when I left so I popped in every time I was bored after that and have been going ever since.


Arriving somewhere totally foreign can be very overwhelming but I always enjoy exploring a new city by foot. With a local SIM in my phone, the quickest way to get to know my new surrounding was put in the location of what I wanted to get to and walk there. I love being able to stop off to look at things on the way.

Being abroad really made me realise how terrible the fruit is back home in the UK so as well as stuffing my face with noodles and ice cream, I took full advantage of all the delicious fruit on offer too.  The street vendors will slice it up making it super easy to eat on the go. I usually go for mango or pineapple.

Resistance Bands 

When I got home, I ordered a few resistant bands (just on ebay) which I then put in my backpack and took with me when I left again. If I went to the gym, I would always take them with but the good thing about resistance bands is that they can be used anywhere. I would often use them at home when I couldn't be bothered to get dressed properly and go out.

Adding these simple things, didn't take up much time but always made me feel much better whilst I was abroad. So much so that I have brought my new habits home with me and try to practice them as often as possible!

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Does backpacking cost alot?

Monday 28 October 2019

Summer in London is well and truly over and these recent miserable days have seen me reminiscing on happier, sunnier memories. I have been telling anyone and everyone who will listen that whether it's going back to my favourite parts of Asia or getting myself combo Orlando tickets and doing Disney solo I am ready for another adventure; although every time I mention going away again, I get questioned on how I'm going to afford it.

Fact of the matter is, travel is a priority for me and honestly, backpacking in Southeast Asia really doesn't cost much as all, in fact, once you've got flights out of the way, having fun on holiday in Thailand is much cheaper than living day to day in London. 

I spent 3 months travelling around southeast Asia from September - December 2017 and spent a grand total of £2300. I didn't set myself a budget - I bought, did and ate everything I wanted to do and minus return flights from London that worked out to around £23 a day for absolutely everything.
 The main ways I kept my spending low was by staying in hostels, eating street food and travelling on ground rather than by air where I could - but even if I had endless money to spend, I would have done exactly the same because these three things were an integral part of my backpacking experience. 


Whilst I did stay in all sorts of places from serviced apartments in the city center to cute little huts on the beach, hostels were always the cheapest options. These usually cost between £3 - £8 per night and sometimes they even included things like breakfast or free drinks at the bar. 

Once you know what you are looking for, getting your choice of hostel right is pretty easy. If you are going by price alone, you can get hostels for as little as £2 per night but the most important thing for me was how social a place was. More often than not, the party hostels cost a bit more than the quieter ones but for me, it was always worth the extra £2/£3 per night.

I would keep the prices to a minimum though by booking the cheapest rooms; this usually meant sharing with the most people but in all honesty, they were usually the most fun.


I definitely ate more than the average person I met whilst backpacking and I took any and every opportunity to eat so this was where a big chunk of my money went.

That being said, it didn't really cost me that much because I would always eat from street vendors as this was cheaper than western food and cheaper still than local restaurants. Not only that but the food was always freshly cooked in front of me and it made me feel most immersed in the culture.

It was different on day trips but on an average day at the hostel, eating was my main activity. I'd usually head out for a morning smoothie. A couple of hours later I'd be on the hunt for some local food and something sweet to eat after that - fresh mango, milk tea, ice cream ect. Then again a few hours later for dinner, and then again on the way home after a night out, usually spending £1/£2 per trip.


When it came to activities and adventures, there were big variations.

In Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Mihn City, I spent over 3 weeks in each city so by the end, I spent most of my time hanging out at the malls, getting to know the area or just staying in playing cards at the hostel, this was mostly free.

In Chaing Mai and Langkawi, I visited waterfalls, wandered around local markets or explored the temples close to where I was staying. This was a little bit more adventurous but still mostly free.

In Penang and Yogyakarta, we worked out how to get to where we wanted to go via public transport. It took a while but cost us pennies.

In Ubud and Phuket, a group of us would hire a driver for the day and visit a whole bunch of different attractions, stopping off for lunch in the middle. Split between 3 or 4 people, this would costs less than £7/£8 each
The most expensive outings were the ones that I was doing alone; or the event type ones like going to see Malaysia's last F1 race - we had to buy tickets and then work out how to get there and back since it wasn't just a tourist experience.
To visit Borobodur temple for example, I found Java very hard to navigate so I decided to just pay for the full service so I didn't have to think about the logistics. Again, the white temple in Chaing Rai was just too far away from where I was staying so I had to book a tour.

Full on day trips cost never really cost more than £20 and these usually included everything you'd need from transport to entrance fees and lunch as well.

Internal Travel

Flying is usually the quickest and simplest way to get from one country to another but it is always the most expensive. Sometimes though, it was the only option so I made sure that I traveled with a cabin size approved case and this saved me loads. Internal flights could costs as little as £18 although adding hold luggage on top would then cost more than the flight itself on top.
 My favourite way to travel from place to place was by bus - although no one ever agreed with me on this, it was just what I enjoyed doing - most people preferred to take a night bus which saved then on accommodation for that night but I didn't feel safe doing this on my own. They left from the city center rather than an airport miles away from anything and meant a whole day to myself, armed with a bag of snacks and my headphones. I'd sit and watch the world go by between naps and toilet breaks. Buses like this would usually cost £5-£8.

What else did I spend money on?

SIM Cards

One thing I was never without when I was traveling was a local SIM card. These varied in price but were always very cheap compared to back home. In Malaysia, it cost me something like £4 and in Thailand it was more like £15, both for unlimited data. Data meant I could use maps, Uber, whatever I needed and this made me feel much safer than otherwise. 

I did end up heading to the doctors a few times and this was probably the thing I spent most on at one time. It would only cost between £20-£30 each visit but obviously it was worth it, both times I left with a load of medicine to fix everything. Had I bought more expensive insurance, I could have claimed it back but with a £75 excess it was totally pointless.  


Buying clothes is not something I was planning to do but I didn't pack enough so I had to in the end. Nothing that I picked up cost more than £3/£4 because I liked to barter. 
This trip changed my life and wherever it is you want to visit, I would recommend solo travel to everyone. This trip is forever on my mind - I'd love to go back and do it all over again; but it also makes me think about all the other places I'd love to visit solo.

Since food is obviously such an important thing for me,  Japan, Mexico and America are high up on my list. As mentioned earlier, Disney would be awesome; I can imagine it might cost a little more but that idea no longer scares me. Similarly with my backpacking trip, if I prioritise what I'm spending on, plan properly and do things like get my tickets before, traveling to Orlando and exploring the theme parks doesn’t have to cost a lot.

I used to want luxury everything and of course you do need some money to travel but what this trip has taught me is that it really doesn't need to cost the world to be enjoyable; there's more to life than fancy hotels and expensive restaurants.

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a Relaxed New Zealand North Island Road trip

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Like most people, Jonny hadn't really seen much of his own country and having spent 5 months there myself, I was a terrible traveller and had seen even less. With plans set to leave for Oz, we thought we should probably have a look around New Zealand before we left and decided to turn the standard one hour flight from Auckland to Wellington into a little bit of an adventure instead. 

New Zealand is world renowned for its incredible landscapes and adventurous hikes; and being the home of a very famous series of films. A Lord of the Rings road trip is a very popular choice since there's so many sites to see but I've never seen any of the films myself so that wasn't on my agenda. 

I am not one for exerting too much energy, especially whilst I am on holiday. So, with just under a week to spare before we set off for Sydney, we took a leisurely drive down the North island. 


We actually left on a Friday night after work but having seen an incredible waterfall the week before, I thought it was definitely worth mentioning. Half an hours drive from where we lived or 50 minutes from the city, KareKare falls was a perfect little light afternoon adventure. Park up the car and take a 3 minute, signposted walk through the forest. We arrived in the late afternoon to a totally empty waterfall. It was incredible. 


We arrived in Hamilton in the late evening and left first thing in the morning but it wasn't a problem because there isn't all that much to do there. We would have skipped the destination altogether but Jonnys cousins live there so we went to visit them. We hit up the casino in town and then grabbed some food before heading to bed; so that was all we saw of the area. If we had a bit more time in the morning, I would have liked to eat a Nourish POD and visit the botanical garden.


Having booked a tour that we were both very excited about, we left Hamilton at 9.45am and arrived just over an hour later. Waitomo is famous for its glow worm caves and whilst there is the option of rafting or caving through them, we booked a much more relaxed walking, guided tour that ended with a boat ride through the caves. Our guide was a local man who told us all sorts of magical stories about the caves past and how the glow worms came to be there. The boat ride was short but incredible - it felt like a real life Disney ride.


After the caves we headed straight to Rotorua. We spent a fun filled afternoon at Skyline; grabbing gondolas and chair lifts to the top of mountains and ziplining and luge-ing down them. It was super busy but very well run so the few hours we spent there was full of activity and there was hardly any waiting around.

Afterwards, we headed into town for japanese food and spent the rest of the night back at Aria's Farm - our accomodation for the night. With a clear sky and the moon so big from the recent eclipse, they suggested we do some star gazing from their hot tub, so that's exactly what we did! A truly magical day in New Zealand. 

Before we left Rotorua in the morning, we took a dip at the famous hot pools at the Polynesian spa.


An hours drive later, we arrived in Taupo; another place full of natural phenomenons. We stayed here for two nights, although it was doable in less. Having tried a farmstay in Rotorua, here we experienced Boulevard Waters, a boutique motel right on the lake and The Lake Motel, a retro themed studio flat.

Over the two days, we hit up Huka Falls, the Craters of the moon and the Watakeri terraces as well as I'm sure you've guessed, lots of eating. With your own transport, it's very easy to park up at each one and take a leisurely walk around. It's also worth mentioning that all three of these attractions happened to be on the same road. 


Wellington is the capital and one of my favourite parts of the country because it's full of life and also full of quirky cafes. Jonny is originally from Wellington so apart from spending lots of time with his family before we left, we spent most of our time wandering around town trying to pick where we wanted to eat.

There are lots of other things to do there though including driving up to the top of Mount Victoria for panoramic views, visiting the Te Papa museum to see the giant squid, walking along the bays and if you're a LOTR fan (which I am not) the Weta studios are supposed to be very good.
From Wellington, you can hop on a ferry and sail across the Cook Strait to Picton on the south island.

This little trip really made me appreciate the beauty of the country which I definitely didn't see enough of by staying in Auckland! Had we had more time before we left the country, I would have loved to see some of the south island as well.

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Are cruise ships for old people?

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Having just got back from sailing the med on a Royal Caribbean cruise, I thought sharing my average day on board could be an interesting topic. It seems fairly obvious that most people think you have to be over the age of 60 to book all inclusive cruises but from my experience, that usually isn't the case.

I won't lie, this last cruise, it absolutely was the case and it wasn't ideal. But, that doesn't mean there's nothing for young people to do on cruise ships. The Independence of the Seas has all sorts of fun stuff for younger people from an ice rink to an arcade and even a newly added escape room.

It's very easy to laze around on a sunbed all day if that's what you enjoy; the buffet is just next door to the swimming pool and the soft serve ice cream machine but that isn't our style and our days were packed full from beginning to end.


From a huge buffet on the top deck to a served breakfast in the main dining room, like all of our meals on board, there were lots of options. I did get up for food for the first few days, but soon discovered it was the easiest time for me to skip a meal (you'll understand why by the end of this post) so my day usually started by meeting my parents after they had had breakfast at around 9.30am. 

Explore on Land

Arguably, the best part of a cruise holiday is that you wake up in a new place almost every day. We did a 12 night Spanish Mediterranean tour which consisted of 8 stops and 4 days at sea so when we were docked, we got up early and went to explore. Sea days were the perfect excuse for a lay in.
There were some awesome stops, surprisingly, a few that we hadn't been to before but my two highlights were Lisbon; we hired a lady in a tuk tuk to show us around before stopping off for a whole load of pastel de natas, and Ibiza where we climbed to the top of the island to look over the ocean before climbing back down to the habour for a well deserved paella.

The good thing about it being accessible for the older generation is that everything is super easy. The ship docks, you walk off the gangway and then you're ready to go! You can join a coach tour and get picked up from there or go off and do whatever you fancy.


Only a small part of our day was spent on shore, we usually got bored after a couple of hours and couldn't wait to get back on the ship to eat some more.


After lunch was my favourite part of the day and usually when we'd find ways to entertain ourselves on board. Sometimes I'd head to the gym but I'd usually save that for windy days at sea; so on sunny days at port my brothers and I would head to the top deck to go on the Flowrider.

On this particular day, I went straight from the gym and with lack of preparation, jumped on in my sports bra and shorts. Definitely recommend a sturdy top and I have had some flyaway bikini tops in the past!
After that, it was time to grab my headphones; and sometimes a frozen cocktail, and find somewhere cosy to curl up for the rest of the afternoon.

Get Glam

Time to head back to the room to get ready for the evening! To my mum's despair, most nights I went for dinner super casual in a sweater and shorts. There were 3 formal nights on our voyage and although we didn't get to fancy for those, I did step it up from the loungewear. Some people get really dressed up in floor length ball gowns and suits!


The buffet was open but we would always go to the main restaurant which was spread across three floors and this was where our eating got totally out of hand.

On one of the first nights, my brother couldn't decide which starter to order so our waitress said she'd just bring him both. From then on, we got into the habit of ordering any dish that sounded good which meant while everyone around us was having a normal three course dinner, we would have anywhere between 4 and 7 courses turn up for each of us. Think NY steaks, lobster tails, lamb shanks and duck breast mains, it was all very rich and decadent! 

Drinks & Show

By this point, the ship had set sail again and the internet connection was gone for the night. We did struggle but it was a good thing because it meant we didn't spend all our time glued to phones. Buying onboard wifi was extortionate so we only did that on days at sea.

My dad liked to go and watch the show after dinner and if it sounded good, we'd go with him. Otherwise it was a matter of grabbing a cocktail and chilling at one of the many bars around the ship for an hour or so. 


Back together after that, we usually spent the rest of the evenings playing cards and drinking cocktail after cocktail in the sports bar.
Failing that, I took the odd night to go back to the room early and watch Netflix in bed!

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