Tag Archives: travel bloggers

Travel | Top tips for being a happy camper

img_2335I’ve always very firmly believed that fresh air, a good dose of nature and time spent by the ocean can cure just about anything. It doesn’t matter how stressed I’ve been over the years, or how frustrated, I’ve always found solace in spending a few days away from everything, getting back to basics and enjoying life in it’s purest form. Over the years I’ve spent weekends camping in the Lake District, Peak District, in the shadow of Mount Snowdon in Wales, and around my home in Norfolk. I’ve stayed in campsites ranging from a full-on Glamping experience complete with champagne and pink wellies, to the most basic, wild campsites you can find, and I’ve done it in all weathers. Later on, as I discovered my love of festivals, I quickly realised that I was a much bigger fan of the four-day weekend camping events that allowed you to truly lose yourself in the music. I teamed up with Yelloh! Village, who offer the world’s finest open-air hotels and camping rentals, to write about what makes the perfect camping experience.imageThere’s something about getting back to basics with a group of your closest friends that just spells out a lot of fun. Whether you’re heading off to explore an untouched wilderness and can’t wait to get away, or you simply fancy going a bit wild in the woods, it’s a perfect way to actually spend time together with no distractions. It’s easy to forget that every second we spend with friends these days is dictated by the myriad of text messages, Snapchats, Facebook updates and Tweets that dominate our existence these days. Once all of those are done, often your time together is up and all you have to remember it is what is documented online. I was out with friends the other night and even dancing in a bar, every second of our moves was being photographed and snap-chatted by the pair for social media. It’s funny and it’s become an inherent part of our lives now but sometimes it is nice to just switch everything off and talk surrounded by nothing but nature. I guess I’m a country girl at heart, but I just find it so soothing to be away from the stresses of everyday life and there’s something about open space that just heals me.img_2333Some of my best camping memories are of the Glamping weekend I spent with my two best friends, the time spent camping in national parks in the Tasmanian wilderness as part of an epic 10-day roadtrip, and the hilarious times we’ve had setting up our tents and lounging round the campsite at festivals. Everyone was just present, laughing at each others’ jokes and experiencing every second together rather than thinking about how they would record it for social media. Every camping experience I’ve had boils down to the same factors whether we’re raving at a festival, getting lost in the woods or out on the moors – it’s the same few things that really make a camping trip a success, and a hell of a lot of fun. If you’re sat reading this thinking camping is so not for you, then think again – I never used to think I would enjoy it but it’s now become one of my favourite travel experiences. Plus it’s a great way to explore the world around you when you’re travelling on a budget, whether locally or on the other side of the world, the basic components of camping remain the same, it’s just the weather that gets better!image

What makes the perfect camping experience?

Tent

This is definitely something you want to invest in – buying a £5 tent from the supermarket and expecting it to withstand all weathers is just stupid. Even if you’re going to a festival – if it rains and becomes windy, your tent is going to flood and collapse and you won’t be able to get dry and warm. A camping trip can quickly become miserable if you have no way of getting dry. Look for great deals in the sales – I picked up my beauty of a tent in the Halfords sale a few years ago and it has seen me through countless amazing festivals and trips – it’s huge and easy to put up, and it  was reduced to less than half price when I got it.

Camping spot

Choose your pitch wisely – there’s nothing worse than putting your tent up in a rush and finding out later when you’re trying to sleep that you’ve camped on a 45 degree slope or there’s a massive rock right where you’re laying. Trust me, as someone who did a four day camping festival sleeping at a 45 degree angle because we arrived too late and couldn’t find a better spot – it’s absolutely bloody awful. Don’t do it. Always feel for rocks and lay down inside before you peg it to the ground.

Food

Plan the food you take well and it can change your whole experience, forget instant noodles and soup, its easy to cook up a good and healthy meal on a little gas stove. On my 10-day road trip around Tasmania we planned heavy meals of chilli and rice, and pasta to refuel after days of climbing mountains. It was quick and easy to prepare for four people so don’t be put off by the thought of it. There’s nothing better than a good, filling, hot meal at the end of a day camping.image

Location

There are some incredible places to camp in the world – under the stars in central Australia, on the beaches in Tasmania, and in the shadow of mountains all over the world are just some of my favourites. Choosing your location well can take a regular camping trip to the next level. Yelloh! Village has some amazing locations scattered across France which give you the opportunity to explore the landscape, towns and villages. Choosing a campsite where you can have a campfire also makes all the difference.

Price

Camping is a great way to travel if you’re on a budget. Especially for groups or families where accommodation could be expensive – there are so many free and cheap options available for campsites, and if you’re planning on repeating the experience your camping equipment is an investment rather than an expense.

Timing

Always look out for the skies above you – I’ve been lucky enough to camp in some amazing places with incredible views of the super moons, specific constellations, shooting stars. Sometimes the most beautiful sights are the ones that are totally free. There’s nothing better than a spectacular sunset, or making it up for sunrise.image

Company

The one thing that really makes the experience complete has to be the people you share it with. I say it all the time but it never becomes any less true, even in the most dire situations and the worst accommodations, the people are what shine through your memories long after the trip has finished. Taking your best friends who will make you laugh until you cry is the best way to approach a trip – no matter what goes wrong you’ll still make it an experience to remember.

Happy camping!

image7-1-1

Tea & cake at the Blogosphere Magazine Summer Party

imageAs a travel blogger, I’ve spent a heck of a lot of time out of the country since I started blogging which is fantastic but can be a bit lonely when it comes to having real life blogger pals. The internet is a saviour in this case and means I’m found some pretty amazing friends from every niche, but it’s always nice to actually meet in person. I actually first started my blog after being inspired by some pretty incredible bloggers who had turned a hobby into a full time job when I attended a bloggers party as a journalist. I was encouraged to start a blog of my own and thus Absolutely Lucy was born, three years later and I was invited to the Blogosphere Magazine summer party – an incredible event organised by the only industry magazine currently running.imageimageAppealing to all of our good taste as bloggers, the team at Blogosphere organized an amazing event full of tea, cake and some beautiful jewellery, plus plenty of opportunity to meet some pretty inspiring ladies and have a lot of laughs. It was so lovely to spend time with bloggers who have also followed their passion to write about travel, food, beauty, fashion, parenting and all kinds of cheeky topics. To be surrounded by vibrant, real, exciting women who have something to say for themselves and understand the commitment we have all made, the time we spend curating something beautiful for the internet. It’s easy for people to brush over the time and effort that is put into blogging, so it’s lovely when you meet others who do what you do and understand the pressures we put ourselves under for the love of blogging.

13906611_493439657512282_3644149689230291666_nFor the two hour train to London in 26 degree heat, an event has to be pretty good and this one was great – serious props to Albertine Brandon for organising such a beautiful event. We chatted away the afternoon with delicious teas from The London Tea Company and some incredible gluten-free cakes from Pearl and Groove – the raspberry and white chocolate was to die for! It was great to finally meet Albertine, Elaine and editor-in-chief Alice Audley after so long admiring their work, I’m looking forward to more events in future. And I found some great new blogger friends in Oh It’s Sare, Han Meets World, Taylor Mae Makeup, Honestly Aine and many more. Plus it was good to meet the girls behind brands including World Duty Free, The London Tea Company and Jewellery Box. A day spent talking everything from travel and Pokemon to vlogging and photography is never a day wasted in my book.13900331_493043824218532_4781742066757099605_nIt was a pretty busy weekend, even before I had set off to London for the Blogosphere party I had spent a full day reliving my travels at the Cambridge Thai Festival – a day full of Muay Thai, ladyboy shows, traditional dance performances and some delicious food. I went along with one of my blogging friends, Vikki of FrickingVikki, and had a fantastic day in the sunshine. Luckily we managed to skip all the queues to get in, for food and drinks, as we saw some people waiting for quite a while to get tickets, but for £3 entry, the whole event was a total bargain. A full programme of entertainment for two days over the weekend had something for everyone and certainly kept us entertained on Saturday afternoon. Browsing the stalls, there was also a beautiful Buddhist stand where you could meet the monks and chat to some lovely ladies about blessings. Further round we even found a cheeky photobooth where you could get dressed up and take pics in Thai traditional dress – this was a lot of fun! It was a great event and if you get the chance to attend one in future, I’d take it with both hands. It’s always worth checking out what amazing free/cheap local events are taking place right under your nose – next weekend I’ll be checking out a free day of folk music in my home town! Here’s some pics from the day.13903245_10153677941922617_7130469003252046109_n13934997_10153677941857617_170774601652952582_nimageimageimageimage13872850_10153677941782617_7331660002625806475_n

Did you go to the Blogosphere Summer Party – what was your highlight? Have you found some great, free local events?

image7-1-1

Lifestyle | How travel can impact how we view our success

10978699_10152600274507617_6471040226942334722_n (1)It’s now been a month since I touched down in the UK after 18 months of travelling. That’s nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it feels like a painfully long time since I last saw my Melbourne home, and the people who make it so special to me. I keep having that moment when people ask how it feels to be home, and I think to myself that home feels 3,000 miles away right now. That’s the hard part of being a traveler, leaving such big pieces of your heart all over the world that when you do finally come home it can feel a bit empty. That’s why so many struggle to deal with the comedown from travelling. I’ve had it much better than most – I’ve come back and walked straight into a great freelance job that works with my schedule, and I’ve instantly started planning trips away with family and friends, knowing my plan is to travel long-term again from September. It makes it much easier to know my situation is temporary, because after a year and a half of utter freedom, the thought of being tied down to one place gives me chills. It’s been quite easy for me to slip into the life that I’m living now – after working flat out in Melbourne, I finally have time to relax and catch up with friends. I have time to recuperate from the effects of long-term travel and I can still earn a good wage while I do it.

But as you guys will know, I’ve always been a bit of a workaholic, so it’s difficult for me to adjust to this lifestyle after pushing myself 110% in all of my previous jobs. Especially being back in the UK, I’ve noticed this incredible pressure since I arrived home and I’m not sure whether it’s coming from my own mind or society. My whole attitude to life was much healthier when I was travelling – I was relaxed and focused on having an incredible travelling experience rather than how much money I could earn or how many extra hours I could work. My priority was earning enough to live comfortably as a backpacker, so it never became more important than living my life. Before I went travelling, work took over my life in an unhealthy way and it was this that really pushed me to focus on something else that made me happy – travel. Since travelling, my bank account has been both the fullest and the emptiest it has ever been. But even when I was broke, I always found a way to make ends meet and to survive, even then I was happier than the times I was sitting on a stack of savings. So when I had learnt to live happily on so little, why do I find myself feeling this constant need to achieve since being home?10922497_10152558346202617_5171818434093257311_nI don’t know whether it is just in my own mind, or whether this is a common feeling for travelers returning to the UK, but I constantly have this feeling that I haven’t done enough. That I haven’t worked enough hours, that I haven’t sent enough emails, that I haven’t got enough views on this blog, and that I haven’t seen enough places in the world. I find myself plagued with worries that time is running out and I just don’t have enough left to achieve everything that I want to do in life, that the success I have isn’t quite enough. It’s such a strange feeling, but one I remember from before I went away. While travelling it was pushed out of my mind by the happiness of living life in the present, by the success of achieving everything I did on a daily basis. So why have these feelings all come rushing back now I’m in the UK? It’s easy to forget that everyone has insecurities, and it can be hard to identify our own. I never realised before I went away that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to enjoying success. Instead of relishing and enjoying the moment, I constantly push on to achieve the next thing, to push the next boundary. I love that about myself because it has driven me to make some huge changes in my life that led me to travel the world solo, and to leave a life that made me miserable. But at the same time, it can leave me feeling like what I do will never be enough.

While I was travelling, I focused on nothing more than living in the moment. I focused on the beautiful sunsets, the laughter at work, the nights we won’t remember – I lived every second and everything else came after. I never stressed about work or money, just knew I would always figure it out. I didn’t think about blogging, just enjoyed the natural progression of reminiscing about my experiences and writing them on the page at my own pace. Put simply, life came first. But since being back, I find mentally that I’m struggling to keep it this way. I’ve managed so far, but can always feel the pressure and stresses of thinking about money, stats and figures. It’s true the UK is very financially driven when it comes to success, and I can only think this is mirrored in the way we view our own successes. I’ve only noticed this because I have been away from it and had to reintegrate myself, but how many others are left to feel this way without an escape? It’s just so easy to get sucked into worrying about money and how successful you are when there are constant reminders of how much we are failing. Every time I look at a magazine or newspaper, listen to the radio or watch TV, there is a stark reminder that there is so much I haven’t yet achieved, so much that I’m behind on.10993459_10152648999737617_4577910484438127599_nI shouldn’t feel this way, in the last few months I have had countless successes that I need to learn to just celebrate. I worked as a sales manager and built my own team, ended up as the highest paid manager in my last job. I was a finalist in the travel section of the UK Blog Awards two years in a row. I have made it onto a list of the top 15 travel bloggers of 2016, and I’m even being featured by other bloggers I love as one to check out. I have another huge success tucked up my sleeve, but that one will have to remain a secret for now. All this, and yet I still feel that craving for more, it’s soul destroying at times, endlessly frustrating. I just don’t understand why I feel it so prominently when I’m in the UK compared to Australia, or Asia, does the distance really chip away at these feelings so much? Perhaps it’s just something I’m better able to control when I travel, because it just becomes so much less of a priority for me, instead I use this drive to achieve great things in real life as well as on the screen. I guess when I’m in the UK, I use my laptop as a means for escape, by working on this little world I have created at www.absolutelylucy.com I can be transported to the worlds I have left behind. Work has always been the one escape for me when I don’t want to deal with my feelings, so perhaps it’s just my way of coping with coming home.

Speaking to some of my fellow travelers on the Girl vs Globe Facebook group, I found I wasn’t the only one who has suffered from these feelings. Ro Lee, who blogs at The Travel Captain, said: “Having lived in both NY and Dubai, you’re bombarded with constant reminders of how “important” financial success is. But as I’ve approached my mid thirties, I realize that true success is a measure of the strength of your relationship with others. Helping others succeed is equally important or “lonely at the top” is a saying which holds very true.” While Yoanna Guerra-Cuevas, who vlogs here, added: “After doing some travel around Europe and living in Spain for a few months, my whole mindset has changed. In Spain they have a saying “no pasa nada”. It basically means everything will be okay. I learned to stop worrying about expectations to succeed and just worry about being happy.” Amrine Obermueller Quint, who blogs at Dancing Around The World, said: “I think that if you’re feeling the pressures then sooner or later you just have to realize what is right for your life and try not to live it based on how everyone else tells you to. It took me about 10 years to figure that out…but here I am, so happy that I finally know how I want to live my life.” Great advice ladies, time I took a leaf out of your book and stopped stressing. Every time I start to feel like this, I’ll think back to that traveler mindset and ask myself What Would Traveler Lucy Do? (WWTLD)

Have you felt the pressures of home closing in after returning from travelling? Do you find it hard not to slip into old ways? How does your traveler mindset differ from your home mindset?

image7-1-1

Relationships | 20 things that made me realise I’m in love with my life

image1After writing last Friday’s post, I really got to thinking about my life now compared to a year ago and how happy I am. To put things in perspective, this time last year I was living it up in Thailand with a bunch of great mates and partying my arse off. Now, I’m writing this from my new home of Melbourne while my roommate snores his head off, and yet, I think over the last two weeks I’ve reached new levels of happiness I didn’t think were possible. So I decided to start a list, of all the moments I’ve had recently that have made me feel grateful to be alive and happy I made the decisions that have led me to this point. Because, if you read my last post – you’ll know that this Valentine’s Day I’m taking the time to celebrate being single, independent and the happiest with myself I’ve ever been. Forget giving out roses and chocolates, I’m taking the time to think about and be thankful for all the things that are giving me the rosy glow of happiness.

So what has made me realise i’m in love with my life?

  1. Finally achieving something that has been my goal from the very beginning of travelling – I’m living abroad and settled in one spot of my choosing, and Melbourne is a city that I really want to build a life in.
  2. Coming home – arriving in Melbourne to a huge, warm welcome from so many of my closest Darwin friends meant the world after three months alone in the outback. They are the family I have while I’m thousands of miles away from my own.
  3. I’m technically homeless and jobless right now, but it doesn’t stop me walking around with the biggest smile on my face.
  4. I’ve finished working in the worst job of my life and smashed it, got my second year visa and haven’t gone insane – I really can cope with anything!
  5. I’ve just spent three months going to the gym every day and am probably in the best shape I’ve been since before I came travelling – I feel healthy and fit, such a great feeling for a backpacker.
  6. The other night, I actually chose to stay in instead of hitting the clubs, instead I sat on the balcony and blogged for hours as the sun was setting – getting to indulge my passion and not being afraid to turn down a night out shows I’m confident in what I want to do.
  7. I no longer feel even that slight tummy pinch of nervousness when I go somewhere new – now I’ve been travelling so long it is just excitement at change.
  8. Linked to above – I’ve never felt more confident in my abilities to travel solo, make friends wherever I go, and to handle this shit.
  9. The other day, I made a new friend and was telling him about my travels and my life – through his reactions I got to see myself through someone else’s eyes and realise how awesome my life is. Sometimes we forget to really appreciate what we are doing as a whole.
  10. Since being in Melbourne I’ve actually started to make more effort to not look so homeless after Darwin and the outback’s more relaxed style – but I’ve really realised how much I prefer myself without make-up after six months of barely wearing it. I love that I’ve reached a point where I feel confident and happy without it.
  11. Despite six months off make-up, I can still do a perfect winged eyeliner on my first attempt punches the air
  12. This blog is smashing it right now – shortlisted in the UK Blog Awards, working with amazing brands every week, and a huge response from readers old and new. So great to see it take off in such a big way after all my energies.
  13. I’ve ticked off so many amazing things from my bucket list in the last 12 months, many of them I didn’t even know were on there! And I finally got to swim with a sea turtle!
  14. I’ve made a decision that I’m so happy doing what I do, that I’m not stopping after the year-mark. I’m not taking a gap year and heading home like some, I’m turning this into my lifestyle and have travel plans for the next year already!
  15. I’m also reaching a point where I know in the next six months I will be happy to return home for a short while to reconnect with friends and family – a sign of contentment that I am happy to return to the place that forced me to leave.
  16. My head, and my heart are filled with amazing memories of sights, sounds, tastes from along the way, the people I’ve met who have changed my world and my beliefs. I feel so grateful to have experienced so much.
  17. I’ve had quite a few messages lately from readers who have said that my blog, and my life, is inspiring. I’m not sure whether I agree, as I think this is something that anyone could achieve, but to regarded as inspiring is something that in turn inspires me every single day to carry on and to keep writing.
  18. I’ve realised that I’m nearly 26 years old and I have not a single regret – i’m not sure there are many people in the world who can say that. I feel so happy with every decision that I have made because it has led me to this point and I wouldn’t change that for the world.
  19. My values have changed – I realised since arriving in Melbourne and being surrounded by shops and every convenience, that I simply don’t need any of this stuff. Far more precious to me than the latest from Topshop are the memories I’m making.
  20. I’m excited for the future, but I’m not stressing or worried about anything – I literally don’t have a care in the world. I’m just excited to see what comes next and totally accept that whatever happens will happen. For a girl who used to worry about and organise everything, this is a huge change.

So there we go, the 20 things that have helped me realise why I’m so in love with my life and if you ask me, that’s by far the most important love you will have. Whether you were in a relationship or not this Valentine’s, take a moment to think about whether you are happy with yourself and your life – its something that is so easily brushed over in the busy day-to-day. Why not take 15 minutes out of your day to make a list like this one about all the positive reasons you are in love with you life, and why you are happy with your lot. You might find that actually you have a lot more love for the way things have turned out than you think – or it might just highlight a change you know you need to make! Either way – take the time to love yourself, your life and everything in it.

Tell me what you love mot about your life – what are you most thankful for? 

image7-1

Relationships | Why we shouldn’t be afraid to be single and love ourselves

12310435_10153179434847617_7636386476727184663_nAs Valentine’s Day approaches, I can’t help but remember just two years ago when I was crazy in love and whisked off my feet with all the hearts and roses that come with the holiday. A romantic dinner for two and a year later, who knew that I would spend my next Valentine’s Day at a Half Moon Party in Thailand more single than I had been in a decade, that two years on I would be preparing to spend the day at a festival with good friends. It’s amazing how much your life can change with your relationship status and it’s only been since I left my nine year relationship to come travelling that I have really noticed how much others really let their relationships rule their lives and their decisions. Even now, when I tell people I left behind such a long-term relationship to travel the world solo, they look at me incredulously and think I’m slightly crazy – but then I ask, wouldn’t it be crazier to put your dreams on hold and end up resenting the person you love the most? Begrudgingly they nod in agreement, but then you seem them do it again, and again, and again. Sacrificing their studies, their hobbies, their families and homes, all for a love that changes their world but not always for the better.

Two years ago, for Valentine’s, I wrote a blog post entitled “Relationships | What’s it really like to have a boyfriend at university?” which has still remained one of my most popular posts. It seems that the title of this post was something that several young women found themselves typing into Google as they tried to plan a future with their loves, tried to make a decision about their own education and future, and tried to keep the balance between what their head and heart were screaming. Over the last two years, this post has probably received the most comments and messages above all of my others, and it seems to be a bit of a hot topic for young ladies who are about to advance to this stage of their lives. Sixth Form and College is around the time when many young couples start pairing off and often you’ll find your first love, I certainly did. It’s a great time, when you’re learning what it’s like to first love another person, to be part of a real adult relationship and to be regarded as a “real” couple instead of foolish young teenagers. It’s easy for this love to take over your life a bit and we all went through that phase where we didn’t want to leave each others’ side, but then comes the pressures of university – whether you decide to go or not, often this can be the decider for whether many couples will survive. Often one half of the couple will have a longing to continue their studies as I did, while the other half will have a plan to either study elsewhere, or not at all. So what do you do when this happens?12313819_10153179433117617_7363152210766884983_nSo many girls have written to me explaining how worried they are that their relationship will not withstand the pressures of university and separation. I’ve had some asking whether I think they will make it when their other half already spends his time eying up other girls or flirting, I’ve had others ask whether the distance will be a problem, and I’ve had far too many asking whether I think they should change their lifelong university preference to attend the same school as their boyfriend. Something I want to make clear is that I have always been a very independent person, so has my ex-boyfriend and thats part of the reason we loved each other so much – we both trusted each other to give as much space as needed throughout the nine years and I think that’s why we were so happy throughout. When it came to me choosing my university and course, he had no input into my choice. I told him all about the universities I visited and about what my options were, but that was the extent of his influence. I made my choice of university based wholly on the course content, the campus, the people and the feeling of the place – from the moment I stepped on to the campus at University of Hertfordshire, I knew this was the place I had to spend the next three years of my life. Because that’s what it was – my life. Not his, although he was a huge part of my life after three years. But I knew that regardless of where I was, what I studied or how far apart we were, if we truly loved each other we would make it work. And if it didn’t work, I certainly didn’t want to be anywhere but my first choice of university.

The same happened when I came travelling – I made the decision separately that this was what I wanted to do, just like my other half decided he wanted to go to university to study. Independently we knew what was right for each of us, and mutually when we discussed it, we came to a decision that we both had to go our separate ways in order to be happy. Whether it was a permanent or temporary decision is another matter, but we both knew we had to do this otherwise we would end up resenting each other. It was easily the hardest decision of my life, but now, over a year after I left, I can tell you it was the best decision I ever made. Much like my choice of university, it has led me to one of the happiest times of my life, and yes, it does mean I’ve had to say goodbye to an incredible relationship but it also means I’ve chosen to invest in myself. Because being single doesn’t mean being lonely – if anything, since being single I’ve never been surrounded by such love, light and laughter, I’ve actually made some of the best friends and family of my life. So many seem to stay in a relationship because they are scared of the alternative, but what are you really afraid of – not having anyone’s shadow to stand in? I look around and see so many young women in relationships that make them feel insecure, afraid or unhappy, and I wonder why they stay. I’m entirely independent and alone at this point in my life and I’ve never felt stronger, braver or happier. Being single has made me fearless, given me incredible confidence and made me really value myself as an individual.

I’m not saying that every woman out there should go dump her boyfriend this Valentine’s Day (that would be a bit mean wouldn’t it?!), I’m just saying that it is important to celebrate being independent and single as well as celebrating retaining your individual identity when you’re in a relationship. Don’t be afraid to make independent decisions within a relationship, especially when it will have a huge impact on your own life. It’s easy to get swept up in coupledom, to let your loins take over your thought processes but don’t forget that when it comes to things like education and travel – these are things that change the way you view the life you live. If you already fear that the change will challenge your relationship beyond repair, then perhaps that relationship was not as strong as you first thought. But that’s okay, some people are destined to dip in and out of our lives gently influencing us along the way, while others exist to shake our worlds to the very core, changing and rebuilding them in ways we never expected. It’s easy to get them mixed up and sometimes a big change like university or travel is needed to show one from the other. But whichever type of relationship you have, it’s not as important as the one you have with yourself – that is the one you should be investing the real time, effort and love into, because its the only one you can guarantee will last for life.

How do you remain independent within your relationship? Can you think of a time when you have put yourself above the relationship? What have you sacrificed for love – and was it worth it?

image7-1

Travel | Go starry-eyed over the sights of New York

imageIf you read last week’s post on my top city break destinations, you’ll already know that New York is a city I’ve fallen in love with over and over again. I’m a child of the Sex and the City generation and a lover of classic movies set in the Big Apple, both have given me such a romanticised view of the city that I never thought it would live up to my expectations. But after travelling there four times I can assure you that on every single trip it has surpassed my dreams, and my expectations to bring me a whole new experience. My most recent trip there, in April 2014 was by far the best trip yet and was actually a big decider in me going travelling solo. I had just gone through the roughest few months of my life and out of this came the push to book a family holiday to NYC, getting away gave me perspective and space, and seeing the bright lights of a whole new country gave me the excitement of something new.imageI suddenly realised that this holiday had made me happier than I had been in months, in every aspect of my life, and while I had already had ideas about going travelling, this was the moment I realised that I had to make it happen. I needed that feeling of excitement and boarding a plane to last, but this time I needed to get away and not know when I was coming back. There’s something about the feeling of getting totally lost in a place that is awesomely inspiring and even now, I just love the idea of escaping from the norm and discovering a new place and way of life. It may sound cheesy, but getting excited about a holiday to New York gave me hope that I would get past this horrible time in my life, it helped me remember a time when I could be happy and gave me a determination to reach that once again.imageEach time we’ve been there, we’ve crammed as much as possible into our five days or a week, the perfect amount of time for an NYC city break or holiday. Staying close to Times Square has really helped that as so much is within walking distance and you can tick a lot of the great sights, and great eats, off very quickly. Going there for the first time? It’s difficult and often overwhelming when trying to plan what to squeeze in and what to leave out – so here is my list of the top 10 things you have to do/see when in New York:

  1. Tick off the main sights – climb the Empire State Building to admire the view, go to the Top of the Rock, stand in Times Square, watch the ice skaters in Rockefeller Centre. If you have time, head to Grand Central Station and the New York Public Library too! And be sure to take cheesy photos at every single one – you may hate being a tourist but you’ll regret it if you don’t have the perfect cheesy photo to Instagram after!
  2. Pick a nice day – hopefully better than the one we had – and head down to Battery Park to see Lady Liberty, even better, take one of the boat trips over to the island to see her in her full splendour.
  3. Try your hardest to get tickets to a game or concert at Madison Square Gardens – it looks like an amazing venue and sadly I haven’t managed to get tickets yet but it’s definitely on the list for next time!
  4. Spend an afternoon wandering around Central Park in the sunshine, it’s beautiful there and gives you a bit of peace from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets. Take a picnic, watch the musicians and performers, check out the ice skating rink, take a horse and carriage ride or walk through the zoo.
  5. Shop until you drop. I always spend a fortune when I go shopping in NYC but it’s just fabulous – take a leaf out of Carrie Bradshaw’s book and head for the malls, often a lot of stuff works out cheaper than it would at home.
  6. Spend a day wandering through Chinatown and getting lost in Little Italy – these beautiful little neighbourhoods give you a chance to experience a different side of the city and we always make sure to have a meal in one of the cute, family-run restaurants in Little Italy.
  7. Get yourself to a Broadway show! Whether you love musicals or hate them, there’s a show for everyone, why not try a play or a cabaret? The best thing is that there always cheap tickets on sale – skip the scalpers and queue up at door before a performance is due to start, often you can get great tickets for cheap because no theatre wants empty seats!
  8. Eat your way around the city – there are amazing breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner stops on every corner. Dive into the fluffiest pancakes with bacon, snaffle down a bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese, snack on cheesecake, wolf down burgers and steaks. Trust me, New York does food really, really well. And look out for unique dining experiences like the Jekyll and Hyde Restaurant.
  9. One of the best things I’ve done in New York was completely free! It can get expensive visiting every sight in the city, but don’t forget what is right above you. Up on the Highline, every Tuesday, a group of volunteers take their telescopes so that visitors and travellers can take a look at the night sky. Take the opportunity to get starry-eyed by stargazing in one of the brightest cities in the world.
  10. And no visit to New York would be complete without a visit to one of the most devastating and most poignant memorials in the world – most will remember clearly where they were when they heard the news of the 9/11 attacks, I remember being 11 at high school when the news broke. The city have done an amazing job with the memorial and the museum, it was interesting to see the site go from a pile of rubble on my first visit, to the incredible buildings that stand there today. Whatever your feelings about the attack, you can’t help but be incredibly moved by the experience of visiting the 9/11 memorial.

imageThere are a million and one things you can do in New York City and there are always new parts to discover, I can think of countless other things I could recommend for you to check out. But on a first time visit you are always working against the clock to fit everything in and still have fun without rushing. All of these trips, activities and experiences are well worth the time spent on them, no matter how touristic they may seem. You’ll always be hard-pressed to squeeze everything in so make sure you choose the things you want to see and do the most – if you just fancy a shopping trip then why not head to Tiffany’s before shopping your way down Fifth Avenue? Or go vintage and check out the amazing range of markets scattered across the city. There are no end of museums and art galleries from the most prominent to the quirky and unusual, and, if your budget allows it, why not splash out on a helicopter ride across the city? There are so many ways to experience and fall in love with New York City and even after four trips there I know I’m not done – bring on the next trip!image

What’s your favourite thing to do in New York? Are there any attractions you wouldn’t recommend?

image

Travel | Head to Mauritius for a taste of paradise in 2016

image

Photo by Natasha Ramasamy

I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world from the moment I was born thanks to my parents, I think travel must be in our blood because at just 18-years-old my father decided to leave his home country of Mauritius and board a plane to England. Since then he hasn’t stopped travelling with my family and is always planning his next holiday whether it’s to America or somewhere in Europe. We’ve travelled to Mauritius just twice in my lifetime, and I think we’re long overdue for a visit, but each time I’ve discovered yet more tropical beauty that lies on its shores. Mauritius is the ultimate honeymoon destination – it’s gorgeous, white sandy beaches are perfect for sipping cocktails and watching the sun go down. But the fun doesn’t stop there, why do honeymooners have to have all the fun? Mauritius is actually a great destination for all travellers, packed with culture, incredible food, music, dancing, colour and history. And the beauty of it being so tiny is that you don’t actually need very long to explore the whole island. My last visit to the country was when I was 16-years-old, and I was eager to return to visit my family who live in the capital, Port Louis, many of them I hadn’t seen for almost a decade! It was a great opportunity to catch up with my gran and cousins, plus I had ready made tour guides who knew all the best places to eat and shop!

PORT LOUIS

While in the capital city you simply have to make a visit to the Central Market – the perfect place to stock up on fruits and vegetables while seeing the market sellers in full swing. It’s a great glimpse into the culture and how better to enjoy it than by sampling some of the local delicacies – my favourites are a snack of Dholl Puri (street food) washed down with a refreshing milky drink of Alooda. A short walk to the harbour is worth it in the heat, and be sure to take a look at the colonial-inspired buildings along the way. Don’t forget to check out the replica of the dodo, the country’s now extinct bird at the Mauritian Museum, and finish up in the Chinese Quarter for a look at the impressive food displays and dinner.

PAMPLEMOUSSES

Just outside the city you can easily escape the hustle and bustle by heading to Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden for the day. Here you can see all kinds of tropical plants including the famous giant lily pads, visit giant tortoises up to 200-years-old – so amazing! Plus deer and fruit bats. The Labourdonnais castle in the grounds is worth a visit and don’t miss out on a rum tasting session at the distillery. Then pristine sandy beaches await, and where better to try your hand at fishing, which is popular with the locals. Sugar plantations line the roads and back in the botanical garden you will find the remains of the first Mauritian sugar factory.

GO SOUTH

You simply can’t miss a visit to Chamarel, where the unique coloured earths sparkle in the sunlight – a phenomenon on it’s own. I can’t help but marvel every time I see it. Follow this with a peek at the country’s religious background as you visit the sacred lake of Grand Bassin, where Hindus gather every year to celebrate the festival of Maha Shivaratree. Monkeys roam wild around the grounds – but be careful, my cousin and I were chased last time! Just a couple of miles away are the tea plantations and factories where you can sample the different varieties, before heading to Black River Gorges National Park where the Mauritian kestrel can be spotted. See where the mountain meets the sea at Le Morne Brabant, an area that has been declared a world heritage sight by the United Nations. And be sure to visit one of the many waterfalls.

ISLAND HOPPING

Being a tiny island itself, you forget that there are several other small islands surrounding Mauritius, each of these can make great day trips – Trou aux Cerfs and Ile aux Aigrettes in particular. One of my favourite memories from our last trip to Mauritius was a boat trip to Trou aux Cerfs where on arrival I promptly fell out of the boat and soaked myself and everything I owned. The trip improved when I helped the fisherman catch a fresh lunch of fish and shrimps to be barbecued on the beach. It was the perfect tropical island and so untouched.

Photo by Ludovic Lubeigt

Photo by Ludovic Lubeigt

One of the things I really love about Mauritius is that is has such a cosmopolitan culture and that so many different groups meld together so well. You’ll find locals speaking a mixture of English, French and Creole, which makes it easier to understand if you don’t particularly speak one. All across the island you see a mix of religious denominations from Punjabi and Hindi to Tamil and Chinese, my family are Tamil but when I visited I had a chance to experience all aspects of the culture which was great. Music plays a huge part in the culture so be sure to enjoy a performance of the national dance, Sega! It goes well with seafood and a few rums in my experience – the lively dance will have even the most shy on their feet. I remember when we spent Christmas Day in Mauritius and ended up in a busy restaurant filled with music and dancing, plus some amazing lobster! Be sure to enjoy the food in all its flavours – they vary a lot from the traditional Indian and African food, instead offering a blend of all of these flavours that put the street food in a league of its own! It’s a perfect place to travel whether you fancy a romantic break with your other half, a backpacking culture tour or a family trip. Wow, after writing this I’m about ready to book a flight – how about you? If you do fancy a trip, why not contact The Flight Centre.

Have you been to Mauritius? What was your favourite part? What other tropical paradises do you have on your travel list for 2016? 

image

Travel | My top city break destinations

imageCity breaks can be a great way to escape everyday life for a while without breaking the bank and without sacrificing too much of that precious time off work. Not all of us are as lucky to travel full time, and who doesn’t need a well-deserved break from work every once in a while? I’ve always been more of a beach bum than a city girl, but it’s great to check out the cultural centre of a country as you’re passing through it because I always find it gives such a different impression of the country. Plus it gives you a good excuse to give in to the tourist inside you – to do and see all the things you’ve read about. My parents love a good city break and are always jetting off for a mid-season getaway; in the last few years they’ve been to Venice, Rome, Athens and Barcelona – I’ve got a bit of catching up to do when it comes to Europe! But luckily my readers come from all over the world so I thought for my list of top city breaks I would take a look at some of my favourite cities from across the world – so whether you’re based in America, Europe, Asia or Australia – there’ll be one nearby for you to check out.

UK

LONDON

Of course, a particular favourite in the UK. London is a bustling, vibrant city packed full of things to do, and for me, lots of people to see. I studied near London and love returning there to visit friends and family. Plus it’s a great place to go shopping, visit one of the amazing museums, go to the theatre or spend a day at one of the fantastic markets. When I’m at home, I usually end up heading to London pretty regularly and never run out of new experiences – check what’s on listings as there are always free events going on! If you’re wanting to make a full weekend of it and want to experience somewhere new to stay. Why not try somewhere like the Rosewood hotel? Based in Covent garden, it oozes luxury and acts as a perfect luxury getaway (take me there now!).

BRIGHTON

One of my favourite cities in the UK even though I have only been twice – I last visited years ago with my boyfriend and had the most amazing weekend. It’s a beautiful city and I love that it’s right by the sea – my perfect kind of city. It has a more relaxed feel than London and is full of quaint little boutiques and independent shops when you head to the Lanes. There’s some fantastic restaurants and hotels there, and I loved staying in a beautiful boutique hotel overlooking the sea when we went.

image

EUROPE

ROME

I went to Rome years ago on a school trip where we visited all the stunning historical monuments; walked around the Coliseum and threw coins in the Trevi Fountain, we pounded the streets drinking in the culture, practicing our Italian, and stuffing our faces with pizza and ice cream. I’ve always wanted to go back since, it’s a beautiful city and a perfect one if you love your food and culture, there’s just so much history waiting for you. Just remember to take good walking shoes as you’ll be out all day!

VALETTA

I went on holiday to Malta two years ago and totally fell in love with the country – it may be tiny but it’s a fantastic place to visit. Being so small you can work your way around the whole island by bus and experience every part of Maltese culture. We took a day trip to Valetta, the capital city, and loved the day we spent wandering a round the adorable little streets, around the harbour, and eating Maltese desserts from a cute little bakery in the square outside the library.

BRUSSELS

Sensing a theme here? One of the main reasons I love to travel is the food and the choice of Brussels was a great one for that. My mum and I headed here for a weekend of chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate to celebrate my 18th birthday. I loved the city, it was so beautiful and the buildings were just stunning. You could walk the streets for hours just looking around and I lost count of the amazing restaurants. It’s such a cosmopolitan city that you can eat food from all over Europe in the same street!

image

FURTHER AFIELD

NEW YORK

The ultimate in city break getaways, New York has everything and more to offer. It’s a magical city and one I’ve fallen in love with over and over again, I’ve actually been there four times and still not run out of things to do. Beyond all the usual touristy activities, there’s endless restaurants to gorge yourself at, neighbourhoods within the city to explore, shopping to be done and experiences to have. I’m writing a full post on New York that will be going up over the next week make sure to look out for that if you’re planning a trip!

BANGKOK

Easily one of my favourite cities in the world – it’s a total culture shock, it’s brash, rude and extremely cheeky, you’re always in for a good time there and there is so much to see. Amazing historical monuments, beautiful temples scattered across the city, shopping centres and markets packed with everything you could imagine, a nightlife that will keep you going until sunrise. And the food, oh my god, the food. It’s dreamy and spicy, it’s exciting and unexpected. Fully expect to spend most of your time scouring street food stalls and eating the world.

HOI AN

Fancy something a little less mainstream? Head to Vietnam where one of the prettiest little cities awaits. Set upon a river, but just a few kilometres from the beach, the city has everything you could want including an incredible, rich history that lies on every corner waiting to be discovered. There are a fantastic range of shops, and plenty of opportunities to get clothes made specifically for you. Plus the food is amazing, totally unlike the food elsewhere in Asia – it brings a range of different flavours and textures to the table.

imageAfter three months living in the outback, I’ve never been more excited at the prospect of returning to a city. I’ll be flying to Melbourne in nine days and I can’t wait to experience the hustle and bustle again. Plus Melbourne has so much to offer – not only is it right by the sea but it’s full of art and music and a quirky attitude that I love. I’m looking forward to exploring and discovering all the little treasures that lurk around the city, I can’t wait to shop and be able to do city activities again like going to museums and the cinema, going to clubs and bars that don’t close at 11pm, being able to use public transport and never being far away from a shop – trust me you really appreciate that stuff after living in the Australian outback!

What is your favourite city and why? Which ones should I visit? Have you visited any of these – what did you love about it? Any cities you wouldn’t want to visit?

image

Relationships | Why it can be great to start a New Year single

imageChristmas and New Year are definitely some of those times when people really start to think about their relationship status – a bit like the post-Christmas bloat, it’s something that hangs over every festive party and moment under the mistletoe. It can suck a bit to be single at Christmas, to not have someone special to keep you warm and to get you that extra special present. But it can also be great to be single at Christmas – you don’t have to feel guilty when you sit there and eat an entire cheeseboard in one sitting then spend the night farting in bed, and no awkward decision about whose family you’ll spend the day with. When it comes to New Year, this was my first as a single girl for nine years – which seems crazy to me. Basically as long as I’ve been old enough to go out drinking I’ve been in a relationship, more than a third of my life. And it was a good relationship, a great one in fact, but 2015 was all about the start of something new, about taking control of my life and doing something for me. I broke off my relationship and left to travel the world solo, a year later I should be heading home but have decided I’m not ready for my adventures to finish yet. Last December 31st I was surrounded by good friends and spent the night celebrating with my other half. But this year, it felt right to celebrate independently after the year I’ve had. I’ve conquered all sorts and I’ve done it all by myself, so I was more than happy to be a single girl as I took my first steps into 2016.

This time of year it’s easy to get caught up in the romance of the season – all those engagement rings popping up on my newsfeed, all those cute couple photos in matching Christmas jumpers, and all those New Year kissing photos. We’re blasted in the face with the expectation and the pressure to be in a happy relationship or left to feel like failures, but I have to ask, isn’t it more important at this time of year to be looking inwardly and thinking more about the relationship we have with ourselves? New Year is always a great time to look back over the year as it comes to a close – at what we’ve achieved and suffered, learnt and lost over the last 12 months. We’re all planning and making goals for the year ahead, but so many are setting goals, more like ideals for where they see themselves in 12 months. They’re thinking about things like relationships statuses, job goals, having their own homes. All of these are great in their own way, but why not take the time to think about how mentally healthy and happy you are. Two Christmases ago I took a two week break from work and from life – I finally had headspace to think and after the two weeks was up I realised I didn’t want to go back to that life. That was when I realised that how I was working and living was not making me healthy or happy – it was time to plan an escape and my next moves. That was when I began saving, when I bought a plane ticket. A year later, I hopped on that plane and never looked back.

It’s not the answer for everyone and I’m not saying this to tell you to go do the same. Travel might not be your way of healing but starting 2016 on your own could provide you with a good opportunity to really look closely at your life. Are you happy? Are you on your way to achieving what you want out of life? If not, why not? This is your chance to claim 2016 as your year to work on you – do what I did, step back and reassess. Our goals change as we grow as people and sometimes the ones you set a while ago will no longer fit the person you have become – if you no longer want something why work towards it? Evolve your goals and you will find happiness in working towards what you truly want. If a job no longer makes you happy, look elsewhere and find one that does. Feel like work is taking over your life? Take a step back and explore your passions in your free time. Unsure whether a relationship is still giving you what you need – make a change, end it or go in search of something new. It doesn’t matter how trapped you feel, even if it feels like there is no way out, there always is. But you have to be willing to make the first move – once you’ve taken that first step it turns into the easiest and most natural thing in the world, but first you have to take a leap of faith.

It can be a huge change that all your family and friends talk about, or it can be something tiny that just makes a world of difference to you. Either way, having the courage to examine your life and really think about where you want it to go can be simultaneously the scariest and most valuable thing you do this January. Why? Because it will help give you focus and goals for the year ahead – to find the happiness you’ve been searching for. 2015 was my happiest and freest year yet – it was so amazing that I skipped my flight home and chose to stay and carry on for as long as possible. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2016 brings – I’m just hoping for more happiness, the love of many new friends I have yet to meet and even more opportunities to follow my passions. Most importantly, I’m not sitting around and waiting for life to happen to me, I’m out there making it happen for myself.

Have you made any New Years resolutions? What are your goals for this year? Is travel in your plans for 2016 – where are you heading? 

image

Travel | Vote for me in the UK Blog Awards!

imageI’ve had so many lovely messages over the last few days celebrating my decision to stay in Australia instead of returning home on my pre-booked flights and cheering at my just having four weeks left in the outback before rejoining my friends. I’ve had several messages from friends asking for advice on blogging and how to get started, and I’ve lost track of the amount of people who have contacted me to ask for advice on travelling, going it solo and help with planning itineraries. It’s amazing to think I started this blog just over two years ago and at the time barely anyone read what I was writing, much less wanted to know what I had to say on any of this. I feel so proud at how Absolutely Lucy has grown in that time and am still completely overwhelmed by the support of all my readers every single day. It’s been pretty spectacular to experience this year’s travelling independently but what has made it all the more special was sharing every step of the journey with you guys. Being able to immortalise all of my memories on these webpages and to share my highs and lows with every single one of you. You may not realise it but every single like, share, view and comment has meant the world to me over these last 12 months, it was the encouragement I needed to keep writing, to keep on travelling even when times were tough and I felt homesick.

Now some of you may remember around a year ago I couldn’t stop talking about something called the UK Blog Awards – it’s a great awards ceremony that is organised annually to celebrate the blogging community. Covering every genre of blogs, there is a chance for writers with followings of all sizes to be recognised for their hard work and dedication over the year by a group of industry professionals. It’s an honour to be a part of something that is still so new and yet is making huge waves in the industry. Last year I entered for the first time and saw huge success as I was shortlisted and awarded a Highly Commended for the Travel section – just six months after transforming Absolutely Lucy into a travel blog. In true backpacker style, I was actually travelling Asia when the winners were announced and never had the opportunity to collect my award which is still in London at a friend’s waiting to be collected! But I was overwhelmed with the fact that I had been chosen, it felt amazing and actually came at a time when I was losing my enthusiasm for blogging, to say it reinvigorated me was an understatement.

Now it is that time again, I’ve entered the Travel section once again and I’m asking each and every one of you guys to vote for me (it only takes two seconds!) so that I can stand a chance against the incredible bloggers also listed. There’s some serious talent and some bloggers I really admire listed alongside me and although yes, I would obviously love to win, it’s amazing to even be considered amongst these other bloggers. Last year there were around 5,000 entries and I made the shortlist – how on earth that happened I will never know, but I’m hoping some of that luck and some of those amazing votes will happen again this year and will start my year off amazingly! If you have spent the last year enjoying, reading and sharing my posts, if you’ve been wanderlustin’ over my travel pics and if you’ve been inspired to travel the world yourself – it would mean the world if you would take two seconds to cast a quick vote for me. Click the link below to head to the webpage and cast your vote – make sure you select the TRAVEL section – and thanks so much for your support!

 

VOTE FOR ME

image