Happy WA Day! Just a short post today as I'm just having one last breakfast at my favourite Fremantle cafe before heading back to the hostel to finish packing and get on the road. Yes, that's right, we're finally setting off on our West Coast adventure after weeks of organising and waiting. It seems only right that we should set out on this amazing trip on the day that is all about celebrating what is great about Western Australia. I'm excited for that feeling of freedom that you only get from living on the road, camping out under the stars every night and spending your days on the beaches.
I can't wait to not have a care in the world, after working so much for so long, I'm more than overdue for a holiday! You may laugh but I work a heck of a lot when I travel, if I'm not working crazy hours in a bar to save money, I'm working to tight deadlines for articles and posts as a journalist/blogger. It never stops, this feeling that I should be working, and yes I've admitted before I'm a bit of a workaholic but I also know when I need a good break from it all. So I'm taking the next few weeks for me - I'm focusing on having fun, exploring the world and having lots of adventures to tell you all about in my upcoming blog posts.
I'll still have a few blogs posts to come that I've had time to organise before now, but I'm not going to think too much about pressuring myself to write when on the road. The thing about travel is that you have to live it, to throw yourself into every moment, experience and exciting opportunity that presents itself. I plan to do exactly that because travel comes first. Keep up with my adventures via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
Whether you're backpacking or flashpacking, it can be hard to know how much to pack when you're heading out on your first big adventure. (Check out my girl's packing guide to Asia and Australia) It doesn't matter whether you're using a backpack or a suitcase, we all have limited space and you only want to take what you actually need. I used to be the worst for over-packing stuff I just didn't and wouldn't ever need on holiday, but since backpacking and realising that if I over-pack it is more weight for me to carry, I've found it much easier to cut down. One thing that is always very important to think about when packing is footwear - it's so easy to overpack when it comes to shoes and these quickly add weight to your bag. While you may want to take the prettiest shoes around - it's important to think more about long-term comfort. Your feet are your heroes when you travel, they carry you everywhere and go through a lot so it's important to look after them and to treat them to decent shoes that will help support them for longer.
If you're not planning on backpacking or travelling long-term, you can still be thinking about your upcoming summer holidays and festivals which always deserve a new pair of cute sandals. I don't know about you guys but whether I'm travelling or just at home, I'm pretty hard on my shoes and wear them to death, so I'm always in need of a new pair of trainers or flip-flops. I like to start my packing, or my summer by having a huge clear out - trying on all my old shoes to see what still fits and is still in good enough condition to wear - anything that doesn't gets thrown in the bin or taken to a charity shop. This gives me more space to store any new purchases and helps me work out my shopping list.
What shoes should I pack for my holidays?
A traveller's favourite - these are perfect for the beach, exploring a new place, partying the night away or even wearing in the scummy hostel showers. It's worth investing a little bit into these instead of going for the cheapest possible as the materials will last longer and they will support your feet more. I currently have some rubber ones from Billabong which have great support and are not damaged by the water. Straw ones look cute but they quickly begin to smell and go mouldy when damp, and super cheap ones will quickly fall apart and can strain your feet when walking.
My favourite shoes for travelling - these are so useful for so many things. If you have a nice pair they are perfect for daywear as well as nights out, plus if you're travelling in cooler places these are good for keeping your feet warm. If you're as active as me when you travel - they are also great for going running, for hiking, climbing, cycling and exploring. I tend to travel with a sporty pair of runners for outdoor activities - my current ones are Nike trainers - and I also like to keep a pair of nicer trainers with me for everything else - these were previously Converse and are now Adidas trainers. I can't recommend Converse enough for travelling - I spent two years travelling with a white pair which ended up filthy a lot but were always sparkling white again after the washing machine.
One summer essential you need to buy early is sandals. It's easy to forget when backpacking that you might end up in some pretty smart places - I've gone for cocktails at the Hilton in Thailand and been dancing in glamorous clubs in Sydney. So you always want to make sure you travel with one dressy/smart outfit and either a pair of nice sandals or heels to wear with them. The debate of sandals vs. heels is a long one so I'll summarise for you, but it's up to you what you choose. Sandals are great because they can be dressed up or down - most of my travels have been just with a nice pair of sandals mostly just to avoid wearing flip flops or trainers. However, I do currently have a pair of small heels with me after being based in Melbourne for 5-6 months and enjoying lots of nights out in fancy bars and clubs.
It entirely depends on where you are travelling and for how long - for Asia I would recommend just sandals as heels are never worn. For Australia, you may want a pair of heels for the cities but then again, if you're sticking to outback life and road trips you'll much prefer some small sandals. It's good to spend some time picking out the sandals you really want, make sure they are comfortable and have sturdy soles - I had some beautiful ones made for me in Santorini, Greece. Make sure you go for a neutral pair that work with everything from dresses and skirts to jeans and shorts - you want to create a capsule wardrobe that allows you to combine all elements in various combinations. Taking this approach will save you money, and reduce the clutter in your wardrobe.
Once you've picked out your favourite new footwear, make sure you spend some time breaking them in to avoid blisters when you're on the road. Remember that in hot weather your feet will swell slightly, so it may be a good idea to buy half a size up if your shoes are already slightly tight, or break them in wearing socks to stretch the material a little bit further. The strappier they are, the funkier your tan lines will look so always remember to put sunscreen on your feet once you're in the sunshine.
It's my birthday tomorrow. I've celebrated a lot of birthdays with friends lately and while some have been ecstatic start the year ahead, others have approached their milestone with trepidation and dread of getting older. It's different for everyone and so many can't stand the thought of getting older, of creeping closer and closer to the big 3-0. I've never understood this, I love celebrating my birthday and being with all my friends and family, I love celebrating all I have achieved in the previous years and getting excited for all that is yet to come. This one feels like a particularly special birthday because not only does it mark two-and-a-half years travelling solo but after being ill for my birthday last year it feels like it should be a double celebration!
These past three years have quite seriously been the best years of my life - you know when you're 18-21 and everyone says make the most of every second because these are your best years? Well I couldn't disagree more. Yes, 18-21 was a lot of fun and I will never forget those years, but if you ask me, my years just get better with age. My priorities are different, I'm capable and know exactly what I want out of life. I have disposable income and complete financial independence, I have goals, I have a business I have created out of nothing. Much as those years were special in their own way, I was only just starting to become the person I am now, but if you ask me, it was the events that happened in my mid-twenties that really turned me into the woman I am today.So many people fear getting older but if you ask me, we just get better, wiser, more creative, interesting and vibrant as individuals as we grow and change. Sometimes when travelling I go through phases where I'll be spending a lot of time with younger first-time travellers and I will feel the difference in our ages. But instead of feeling like the old gal who should have settled down by now, instead I feel like celebrating because I have so much more freedom than these travellers. I have finished my studies, I've set up an online business that will support my travels around the world, I have no-one to tell me what to do and I am in control of my own life. I am a traveller who has seen over 30 countries in my life and I have no plans to stop just yet - while this life may not be forever, it is for now and I'm a very lucky girl to have taken it on in the way I have.
So while I will be spending this weekend celebrating with the amazing friends I have made at my hostel in Perth, thousands of miles away from home where I spent my last birthday, my heart will be with all the amazing people whose support has helped get me to this point of my life. I couldn't have done it without any of you. But in true Absolutely Lucy style, I'll be drunk as a skunk at a bush rave somewhere this weekend before setting off on my outback adventure up the West Coast next week. A pretty perfect way to celebrate if you ask me - I may be getting on a bit but I'll always be a party girl at heart so it seems only right to enjoy the day before setting out on the trip of a lifetime.
If you've managed to clock up a lot of air mileage over the years - through backpacking or regular holidays - you'll have come to regard your passport as one of your most treasured possessions. You'll have had those heart-stopping moments when you misplace it just before a big trip, and you'll have felt the annoyance when a customs officer wastes a whole page on just one entry stamp. Frequent travellers will know that when you're traveling between countries constantly, your passport becomes the most important thing you carry, and yet what happens if you have to leave it at an embassy while waiting for visa approval? Holding a second passport could open up a whole new world of free travel unlimited by waiting for visas, to visit various countries usually out of reach and even to new careers.
What is a second British passport?
Well, if you travel the world even half as much as I do, you could easily fit the criteria to apply for a second passport without even knowing. It was only when I did a little research that I found all these amazing ways a second passport could make your travelling life so much easier. Most people don't even know this service is available and easily accessible to travellers, but Rapid Passports are working to change this.
Available for British travellers, a traveller can now hold two current British passports at the same time to be used simultaneously alongside each other. Both will remain completely unique with no link between each other, and will hold different passport numbers.
Why do you need one?
Planning on applying for visas at different embassies at the same time? A second passport is perfect for you and will help speed up the process instead of having to wait for a passport to be returned to apply for the second visa.
Want to travel to conflicting countries? This gives you a bit more freedom to travel without certain stamps holding you back - for example, anyone with an Israeli entry stamp cannot enter Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia.
Plan to work as a pilot, flight attendant or even on an oil rig? You'd be amazed but all of these jobs could require two passports, as could others.
Emigrated or living long term in another country? It might be worth having a back-up passport to leave at home while you are away, or even to carry with you.
And of course, if you travel as much as I do, there is always the chance your passport will get filled up pretty quickly with stamps and you'll simply need a spare with a bit more space.
How can it be done?
The best thing about this service is that it's super easy to organise in a very short space of time. Same day service is available and all that is needed to create the second passport is a photocopy of the original - not even the passport itself!
Considering most people don't know this service is available - it's pretty good right? Want to apply for your second British passport - click to apply for Second British Passport.
I've just arrived in Perth after an amazing week in Adelaide, and although I will be posting all about my time there at a later date, I first wanted to talk about the worst part of my trip. It's been praying on my mind ever since Saturday night and the more I tell people about what happened, the less I understand how it could possibly have happened. To put it in context, I have travelled all over the world solo to countries considered dangerous and unsafe for a girl to travel by herself. I've been stranded at the side of the road in Vietnam and Laos, I've been in seemingly dodgy tuk-tuk rides in Thailand and Cambodia, I've been lost in Hungary. But not once have I ever felt so unsafe in the middle of a city in a Westernised country, surrounded by people and with police patrolling the streets.
So what happened?
I was visiting a good friend of mine, who I met when I was in Asia, but sadly he had to work all week. Our one time to really hang out was Saturday night when we went out for dinner and drinks with his friends, and the Sunday when we had planned to go on a tour of the wineries. We went out for dinner as planned and then had drinks and found a place we could have a dance, eventually we all decided to call it a night. We didn't want to be too wrecked for the next day so we decided to get a taxi home, on the way my friend wanted to show me Adelaide Oval so we took a detour to the taxi rank. As soon as we wandered down the side street, three lads looked over and shouted "slut" at me, naturally my friend told them to leave me alone.
You would have thought that would be the end of it since they were just teenagers, but if anything it spurred them on. Suddenly, all three of them launched themselves at us. My friend pushed me out of the way and I hit the deck, but all of them, plus another five lads who appeared out of nowhere went for him. Now my friend is probably around twice or three times my bodyweight, he's a wall of pure muscle and soon to be a personal trainer. He's not someone you pick a fight with, but when you're drunk and eight guys attack you out of nowhere, there's little you can do to stop them. After they all threw their punches and ran off, he was left with a huge lump on his head, a busted nose with blood pouring all over his clothes and the street, swollen lips and cuts and scratches. It was horrible.
But the worst thing?
I can appreciate that it all happened so quickly that perhaps people didn't have time to react, but not one single person tried to jump in and help. Not one except me, I'm sure I would have just ended up hurt too so it's probably a good thing a guy dragged me back, but at least my basic instinct was to help someone who was in danger. Afterwards, I took my friend across the street to get help, I walked into a shop to ask if the guy in there had any tissues or could help at all. He just looked at me like I was crazy and told me I could buy a packet of tissues. If this is the reaction a girl covered in blood gets on a Saturday night, it's disgusting. I managed to steal tissues from a takeaway in the end and then on our way to jump into a taxi, I saw the police.
I headed across the road to tell them what had happened and they proceeded to interview my friend, despite the fact that he had no idea what had happened. They wouldn't listen to what I had seen as a witness, we had to force them to listen when I could identify one of the lads who attacked my friend. It was terrible to see firsthand how little the police really care in Australia when it comes to a brutal attack like that on a busy street with witnesses everywhere, compared to traffic policing. It didn't even seem to matter that much to the police that several other people were attacked immediately after, the lads went on a rampage up the street beating up three guys in suits, and several other small groups further along. It was clear they were just out to hurt people that night, it didn't matter about race, gender or sexuality for once, but it did matter if you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
So why am I writing about this?
Therapy mainly, this is my way of making peace with the incident even though I'm still really upset that this could happen in the middle of a well-policed Australian city. It was the most brutal, vicious, nasty attack I have seen firsthand, done in cold blood and for the stupidest reason. My friend was beaten to a pulp for trying to protect me from being verbally abused, he poured blood on the street because he was a gentleman and a good person. He is the kind of person who wouldn't hurt a fly despite being more than capable, and it makes me incredible sad to think there are people out there who would take advantage of that simply for kicks.
I'm not naive enough to think this doesn't happen anywhere in the world, but I do think that things like this shouldn't be happening to innocent people just trying to make their way home in Adelaide. Perhaps nothing could have been done to stop this from happening, but the complete lack of support and help we were shown after the incident was an embarrassment to the police service in South Australia and the local people who refused to help us. Bad things happen, there's nothing we can do about that, but we can do something about the way we react and support those who are victims. The same thing happened in the Bourke Street incident in Melbourne - so many preferred to stand and watch, or record on their phones than actually help those in need. It really is heartbreaking to think that human instinct for so many has become a spectator's sport instead of a desperation to help preserve human life.
Wow, this ended up being quite a long post. Apologies if you're bored reading this but well done for making it to the end, I know it's very different to my normal posts. But the important thing for me is to show both sides of travelling - the fun, exciting side and the scary side as well. Don't take this as a warning not to travel to Adelaide - my friend said himself it's the first time in his whole life that he has seen an incident like this there. As far as I'm concerned this could have happened anywhere in the world and it sounds much like what happened every Saturday night at home. But what really got to me was the way people just didn't seem to care - don't be that person.
Italy is high on everyone's travelling list - whether it's for the food, the rich culture and history, or the stunning Amalfi coast. There's something so irresistible about the combination of pizza, gelato, Roman history and beautiful beaches and countryside. I went to Rome as a teenager and toured all the famous sights - the Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Sistine Chapel and many more before eating my way through the city then moving on to tour the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. It was an amazing trip and one I've never forgotten, and although sadly I haven't yet had the chance to return to this beautiful country it is definitely on the list. Ever since reading Under The Tuscan Sun, I've always loved the idea of summering in Tuscany and experiencing all the tastes, sights and sounds described in the narrative. While I may not be getting the opportunity to experience all Tuscany and the wonderful city of Florence has to offer, if you are planning a trip look no further than this post for tips on visiting the best museums and galleries on offer - and where to book your tickets.
An absolute must-see when you visit Florence, the Uffizi Gallery is a highlight of this historical city. The unique museum, which was originally constructed in 1560 as a palace for Florentine magistrates, now hosts a huge range of masterpieces. Creating an area to home the art collections of the Medici family, the areas later grew to host masterpieces commissioned by Medici which became what visitors will see today. As one of the world's most prominent art museums, it provides a home for some of the most important art pieces of the Renaissance including works by Leonardo da Vinci. Other famous works you can spot among the displays include Botticelli's Primavera and Birth of Venus, and works by the likes of Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Michelangelo.
As visitors plan to make their way through the labyrinth of rooms, they should be aware that this is one of the most-visited museums in the whole of Italy, welcoming over 1.5million visitors each year. This many people does create lines with weekends, Tuesdays and mornings being the busiest times - buy your tickets ahead of time to skip the queues.
Traveler's simply cannot visit Florence without taking the opportunity to view one of the most famous statues in the world - Michelangelo's David. The Academia Gallery, an 18th century museum founded by Grand Duke Peter Leopold, was chosen as the new home for the statue in 1873 after it was moved from its original location on the Signoria square. Expressing the genius of the young artist, the statue is known as a symbol of the free Florentine republic of the beginning of the Cinquecento. Later more statues by Michelangelo have been displayed in the same room, transforming in this way the Gallery into a Michelangelo museum: the four unfinished Prisoners, destined to the tomb of Pope Julius II, and never sent to Rome, the unfinished Saint Matthew and the Pietà of Palestrina, attributed to mature Michelangelo. Book skip the line tickets here.
Palitine and Modern Art Gallery
This extraordinary collection is housed in the winter apartments of the Medici, on the first floor of the Pitti Palace, and features masterpieces of famous artists of the Baroque and Renaissance period. Visitors can see works by the likes of Raffaello, Tiziano, Rubens, Van Dijk, hanging from the walls creating an overwhelming and magnificent effect completed by the luxurious furnishing. In the Modern Art Gallery, a collection founded after the First World War displays the development of Italian art between 1745 and 1945. The heart of the Gallery displays the collection of small pictures, masterpieces by the Macchiaioli, Fattori, Lega, Borrani the revolutionary young artists who used to gather in Florence around the mid 19th century. Book skip the line tickets here.
The medieval palace was once where the chief of the military police resided, but it was restored in the second half of the 19th century and became a museum of Renaissance statuary and of minor arts. The museum holds a collection of statues, starting from Quattrocento artworks by Donatello, Ghiberti Luca della Robbia, includes masterpieces by Michelangelo, as the Bacchus and the Brutus, and reaches the end of the 16th century, with Cellini and Giambologna. Also on display are a range of precious items including the outstanding collection of ivories, the Renaissance maiolica from Urbino, jewellery and objects decorated in enamel. Book skip the line tickets here.
All of the museums offer a range of tours, talks, joint tickets and bookings for larger parties hoping to visit during their stay in Florence. With each of the museums welcoming such a large volume of visitors each year, it is best to book tickets in advance to avoid wasting your trip in queues. All tickets for tours, talks, entrance and more can be found here - book skip the line tickets for museums in Florence.
Leaving Melbourne is always much harder than leaving any other place I've been to. I'm lucky enough to have the most amazing group of friends there that have become more like family over the last few years, and they make it very hard to move on. Right now I'm sat in the airport waiting to board my flight to Adelaide where I'll be spending a week catching up with an old friend, but as excited as I am to see him, there is part of me that is really sad to be leaving this city. It just holds so many amazing memories, so many incredible people that have meant the world to me. In my two six-month stints living here I've had some of my biggest travelling highs and lows - I've had great loves, found some crazy new careers to be successful in and made some new friends for life. So it seemed only right to leave with a bang and how better to finish my time here than with a weekend spent with some of the best people I've met here, and my closest friends, celebrating a joint birthday? Around 16 of us rented a house for the weekend in Ocean Grove, just past Geelong on Great Ocean Road, for a weekend of fun, partying and luxury. The house was amazing - more than we could have hoped for - with a heated outdoor swimming pool, a huge barbecue area, surfboards, a man cave with a pool table, karaoke and much more. Best of all? It overlooked the ocean with some amazing views of passing ships including the Spirit of Tasmania. At just $100 each for the weekend, it was a bargain with plenty of money left over for barbecue food and drinks.Driving up on the Friday evening, we were overwhelmed by the incredible home that awaited us for the weekend. Celebrating with birthday cakes, pizzas, a LOT of drinks and a LOT of crazy dancing ending with a pool party. It was so much fun and just what we all needed. The following day we headed down to check out the beach, some of the gang grabbing scooters and skateboards from the man cave. A blustery beach walk awaited us, and a lot of hilarity as one of the boys stripped off and dived into the freezing water. Afterwards we headed into the town for a pint and to buy more food for dinner, before heading back to the house for more pool time and a lot of girls vs guys games. It was so nice to have so much chill time together as a group, while getting drunk was fun, I will treasure the downtime we had just as much. Our last night was filled with barbecue, chilled drinks, games of pool and some bad karaoke. A perfect end to a perfect last weekend.
While I'm sad to be leaving, it has definitely reminded me how lucky I am - not only to have such amazing friends but also to have the freedom to live this traveller life. What is it Winnie-The-Pooh said?
"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard" - A.A.Milne
What makes me luckiest of all is knowing I have this to come back to - if it doesn't work out on the West Coast, I have a family waiting here for me to return. That's what makes it easy to leave - knowing it doesn't have to be the end of this life or these friendships. Melbourne, you've been great to me these past few months, but it's definitely time to move on and see something new, something different that takes my breath away.
But for now, Melbourne, over and out.
Today marks the start of a brand new adventure. Yesterday, I sat in my apartment attempting to squeeze my life into my backpack and felt like I was standing on the edge of a precipice about to jump. Oh god how I've missed that feeling. I've missed the feeling of freedom and excitement at picking up and starting again somewhere new and different. I've been back in Melbourne for five months after living here for five months last year - don't get me wrong, Melbourne has turned into a home from home for me and remains one of my absolute favourite places in the world. But when you know it's time to go, it's time to go.
Living in the city, both times, has been a real challenge with surreal highs and some crazy lows that have left me questioning everything. Every time I come here, I seem to end up in jobs that push me to the very end of my tether and while I've loved my cocktail waitress gig and have had an amazing time working on a rooftop bar all summer - I am more than ready to move on and get back to traveller life. This last few months have been both amazing and exhausting - I've worked too much in my goal to save as much money as possible and I've had to sacrifice my writing due to lack of time and routine. But at the same time, I've made some amazing new friends and I've had some pretty special adventures in this city and beyond. I don't regret a single second of it, but I know that out there a healthier and happier life is waiting for me, so I think it's about time I went and found it.
This past week has been a flurry of goodbyes and leaving drinks, after living here for a total of ten months I've picked up a pretty special crowd along the way. I want to say a huge thank you to every single person, who no matter how short a time we spent together, really made my Melbourne experience. Now I plan to finish my time here with a bang, tonight I'm heading to a pretty incredible house I've rented with my friends for a joint-birthday celebration along Great Ocean Road. We'll be spending the weekend there and, just as it should be, I'll be finishing my time in Melbourne with the people who mean the most to me. Follow me on Instagram and check out my InstaStories for all the live updates.
So what's next for Absolutely Lucy?
On Monday I'll be flying to Adelaide, where I'll be catching up with an old friend and checking out the city for a week. I'm definitely going to need a chilled week after this hectic last few weeks in Melbourne! Then I'm heading to Perth, where I'm hoping to find some road trip buddies to start heading up the West Coast with - it's been a dream trip for a long time and I'm so excited to be on the road again. I can't wait for the sunshine and beaches after this last week of rain in Melbourne, get me tanned, fit and healthy again. I've slipped into so many bad habits lately, not sleeping enough, barely eating and drinking way too much - hospo life has definitely got the better of me - so now I'm looking forward to taking care of myself for a while.
I'm excited to get back to blogging and to be able to focus on my passion for a while instead of working the same repetitive job and having the same conversations over and over again. Being a waitress in the bar was fun but I'm so much more than that and I can't wait to pursue the things I really love, to have the time and the energy to be creative again. I'll miss my big city life, my cute little apartment all to myself with a gym downstairs, my local coffee shop and bars where the staff remember my orders, my work crew and how much they cared about each other. I'll miss the families I found in my neighbours, my work crew and my besties I've met all over Australia. Melbourne is an incredible city but it is always the people who make the place and I've been lucky enough to meet some amazing characters who I already can't wait to see again. Next week I'll have lots more to share with you all - trust me I have a lot of adventures to catch you all up on! But for now Melbourne, over and out.
Whether you've won the lottery and live that luxurious lifestyle we all dream of splurging on champagne and yachts, or you live penny to penny, trying to work out how many days you have to live off lentils to afford your next flight. All us travellers have something in common - a passion to explore all four corners of the globe in our own unique way. Some do it with a backpack and others with a private jet, but no matter what style we choose, we all deserve a little treat every now and again. After travelling solo for three years around the globe, I've lived a poor backpacker lifestyle, I've been a flashpacker with my nice little suitcase, and I've been lucky enough to see some serious luxury. But throughout all types of travelling across Europe, Asia and Australia, I've realised there are some key items every traveller should think about investing in if they plan to live this lifestyle in the long term. It may seem crazy to splurge on some of these things at the time, but by spending more and investing in yourself and your travels, you could save much more in the long term.
Now I'm not saying pay a fortune for the latest matching designer luggage set, instead take a look at the things you rely on most and think long-term. If you live out of a backpack, spend a bit more to get one from a well-respected company with strong materials and a more streamlined/intelligent design. I bought an amazing one which doubles as a suitcase from Osprey that has been a fantastic investment.If you prefer more glamorous travel, look at the aesthetics of your luggage but choose a classic style that will stay in fashion for years to come. Think about materials and perhaps choose a hard case that is lightweight and easy to manage. Lastly, why not pick a set with a suitcase, mini-weekend case and hand luggage?
Travelling long-term or regularly? If you work while you travel like I do, think about investing in a good quality laptop or tablet that will support your work and allow you to easily complete it on the move. Love to read or listen to music? Why not treat yourself to a Kindle and save yourself lots of space in your bag by not taking books, or an MP3 player to store your endless supply of music for all moods.My must-have investment items are definitely my collection of chargers/adapters - I have a power pack that will charge my phone, iPad and iPod while on the move, it has saved my trip so many times, and a multi-country charger with various additions that will allow me to charge everything I own anywhere in the world. Neither were that expensive but they have both saved me a lot of hassle and time tracking individual chargers down later on.
This one is pretty obvious but you'd be amazed how many people scrimp out and go for the cheap options instead of investing in something that could save their life and their possessions. I have an annual insurance policy that covers me for absolutely everything including watersports, snow sports, extreme activities, all my personal items from loss and theft, medical treatment and care plus a lot of other things including problems with transport when travelling. Luckily I haven't had to claim anything yet and haven't had to use it - and I hope it remains that way - but the knowledge that I have it there gives peace of mind to both my family and I.
Now I've always preferred to buy clothes as I travel for convenience and because I love to shop, but there are some items it is worth investing in and spending a little more. Whether you're a fashionista or just need specific clothing for activities like hiking/camping or climbing/snow sports, it's a good idea to get items that will last you a long time. For instance, I work out a lot so I always try to choose workout clothes that will also work for hiking trips and in materials that are suitable for all temperatures/exercises and will last long-term.I also love to party and to wear cute outfits, so while I always pick up bargains on the road, I have a few key items that I spent a bit more money on because I wear them almost daily depending on where I am. These include my leather jacket, jeans, bikinis, a big heavy jumper and a thick shirt - all of these get worn so much that I like to make sure I buy things I really love that make me feel good when I wear them and it evens out all my Primark bargains.
If you regularly take part in extreme sports, camp or take part in other activities that require a lot of equipment then it's a good idea to buy good quality materials and brands that you know will last you around the world and throughout your trip. Sometimes it's work looking at second hand items which might still be in excellent condition for a better price than those available brand new.
Even if you're living on a serious budget, don't be afraid to invest in yourself and your travels. After all, this is a lifestyle you have chosen and you should be proud to support yourself with items you really need, it's a choice that will help build your future as a traveller. Planning a trip to Tokyo? For a real taste of luxury, look no further than luxury hotels in Tokyo.
What are your favourite investments in travel? Can you recommend investing in other luxuries?
I will always be a backpacker at heart, but even I cannot deny the dream of luxury travel. While I love the simplicity and the freedom of carrying my life on my back and being able to change my plans at the drop of a hat, luxury travel does give you a wealth of opportunities to stay in some incredible places and doing amazing things you only dreamt of until now. Having worked in hospitality at a rooftop bar in a 5* hotel, you soon get to grips with what takes a regular hotel stay and turns it into a luxurious one. It's those tiny details, and most importantly the staff who really transform your experience. This combined with my experiences as a traveller has really showed me what defines the 5* experience and how you could get this on a budget to still live within your means while travelling.
Most importantly - you don't have to be filthy rich to live like a queen on your holidays. You just have to be smart and do your research before you go. putting in a few hours of reading and booking time before you go can make a world of difference to your trip. Especially when it comes to planning your actual travel.
Travel tips for luxury on a budget
Accommodation tips for luxury on a budget
Activity tips for luxury on a budget
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It could be the trip you never forget.
Some people swear by snowy skiing holidays, some people can't live without fresh mountain air - for me it's beachy bliss and ocean dreams that fuel my travels. I've been a total water baby since I was a kid and I can't stand being far from the ocean - I've always lived no further than 20 minutes from the sea and it's always been the one thing to soothe me. From winter beach walks to summers running along the seafront and charing the waves, I just love the peace and simplicity of a life with sandy feet and salty hair. My farm work was possibly the hardest time of my travels - and some of that I put down to being the furthest away from the ocean I have ever been. 800km west of Brisbane, I was pretty much in the centre of Australia and a minimum of 12 hour driving away from the sea. It sounds silly, but we humans are 80% water and it seems crazy that being near or far from water cannot affect our mood.Since being back in Melbourne, I've been working like crazy sometimes 50/60 hour weeks and so it's become more important than every that I make the most of my time off by going to new places I haven't yet explored. For me, that means venturing in different directions to explore the best beaches and most beautiful places I haven't yet seen in this amazing city. I love Melbourne and there is so much more for me to discover so I've been on the buses, trains and trams to find my favourite new beachy destinations in the area. I've come up with my top 10 list of my favourite beaches I've been to in the area - all within easy reach of Melbourne CBD and well worth visiting if you fancy a change.
My top 10 beaches in Melbourne
St Kilda Beach
It goes without saying that St Kilda Beach is a lot of fun - it's far from the prettiest beach in Melbourne but it's the place to be if you want to enjoy beers in the sunshine, the odd festival or to warm up for a night out. I spent Christmas Day here with my nearest and dearest - we enjoyed a full Aussie Xmas Day from beers in the sunshine to water fights in the sea and a full rave on the beach - so much fun and always a good place to head to meet people. Plus, penguins... need I say more?!
My new favourite after visiting the other day, this one is perfect for escaping the city. Just 30 minutes on the train from Flinders, this beautiful untouched beach promises crystal clear waters and gorgeous golden sandy beaches. Endless rock pools and nature to explore, or you can just relax in your own little cove.
Half Moon Bay
Last time I was in Melbourne, I went on a lovely date with a guy to Half Moon Bay. It was a beautiful little cove attached to Sandringham Beach but also completely separate. We had the whole beach to ourselves and went swimming at sunset, it was beautiful to watch the sun hit the water and watch the ships sailing past. A perfect spot to romance anyone special in your life.
A home away from home, this little gem comes complete with an amazing view of the city from across the water and cute little beach reminiscent of those you'll find on quaint English beaches like those near my home. Plus, it's only 20 minutes by train! A lovely chilled beach and great for swimming as there isn't too many rocks in the water and it isn't quite as shallow as some of the beaches. While you're in the area you can also check out Elwood and Hampton beaches.
This has become my local beach of late -just 5 minutes on the tram from my apartment, it's my perfect escape for a sunny morning before work. on the same stretch of Port Phillip Bay as St Kilda, it couldn't be more different. Usually empty of people and very peaceful, this is more of a family beach and less party. It's a perfect place to take a book and relax for a few hours.
Halfway between a beach and a cliff face - this one is definitely worth a visit. The water was ice cold when I went but you couldn't miss the beauty of the place. Come here for cliff jumping and a good swim in crystal clear deep waters. On hot days the place turns into a party for the Mornington crowd!
Take a 25 minute train ride and a step back in time to Williamstown, a small seaside town with all the cuteness of a British seaside resort. I went on a windy day when it was perfect for sandy beach walks instead of sunbathing but still saw the beauty in the simple, untouched beach. Perfect if you fancy escaping the busy sands of St Kilda.
Escape the city for a day or overnight like I did, I went to visit a friend who lived down in Torquay, near the start of Great Ocean Road. This was a perfect excuse to head down to the gorgeous surfing beaches like Bells Beach to walk the dogs and catch up for a few days. While you're at it, why not hire a car for a few days and do the whole Great Ocean Road? Check out my posts for planning your trip here and here.
I just spent a few hours on one of the many Mornington Peninsula beaches during a stormy day, but it was very beautiful and the whole area is covered with gorgeous beaches to explore. Easy to get to in a day, they're worth exploring and if you have more time then Sorrento and the beaches down at Wilson's Promontory are also worth a visit.
Pretty far out of the city but worth a visit if you have more time, Frankston is full of lovely beaches to explore, most of them I saw during windy days so I enjoyed walks rather than sunbathing but they'd be beautiful on a hot day!
There's something so soothing about the ocean isn't there? If you love it as much as I do, why don't you check out Celebrity Cruises by Bolsover Cruise Club for their take on modern luxury while you explore the globe.
What's your favourite Melbourne beach? Can you recommend any others?
Tasmania is one of the most easily skipped parts of Australia for backpackers who are more often drawn to the commercialised party of the East Coast or the big city life of Melbourne and Sydney. Many know nothing about Tasmania, I certainly didn't realise it was a separate island until I actually arrived in Australia. But I knew almost straight away that the West Coast of Australia and Tasmania would be real highlights for me when exploring Australia. Don't get me wrong, there are some special sights to see along the East Coast but it is very much about partying and I think it is a shame so many never travel beyond it. When I returned on my second year visa, it was my absolutely priority to get myself to Tasmania as soon as possible, my tax back from the previous year was sitting in my account waiting to be spent and how better than on a month in Bali and a Tasmania road trip?
Flights and job-hunting
Flying into Hobart, I was excited for the crisp, clear air and the stormy skies after the last month in humid Bali and sunny Cairns. Flights to Tasmania are some of the cheapest I have found in Australia, I actually paid less than $100 for my flight from Cairns via Sydney, and landed in Hobart which I used as my base for the next few weeks. I originally arrived with hopes of finding work and staying over Christmas before returning to Melbourne, but friends I made in the hostel assured me it would be harder than expected to find work and I was best off just travelling then working in Melbourne. The farming season had been delayed in Tasmania due to the weather so those hunting for raspberry/strawberry picking work or cherries, were hanging around in the hope something would turn up. Hospitality work was hard to come by as there just weren't enough jobs for those looking and it always helped to know someone who could get you in. I personally would really recommend just travelling Tasmania so you can get the most out of it as it actually costs very little to have an amazing experience compared to other parts of Australia.
Where to stay?
In my view there is only one hostel even worth mentioning in this section - The Pickled Frog. Within minutes of arriving it became one of my absolute favourite hostels ever, not just in Australia. It was full of the most friendly and relaxed travellers I have ever met and many of them were there long-term to work so they made the place feel like home. Some were just about to set off on road trips around the island, others had just come back, either way, they were a wealth of information about what to see and do. The hostel was a pretty old building with creaky floors and two huge dogs, it had charm and character and all centred around a huge living area with couches and tables to relax on and hang out with other travellers. The kitchen was huge and was a great place to meet new people and cook up a feast before sitting in the living room to play cards all night and drink beers from the bar in the reception.Situated at the top of Hobart city, you can't miss the hostel which has been painted bright green and it is easy to get the airport shuttle to right outside the door. A bed in the hostel came to between $26-30 a night depending on the size dorm you went for - I always stayed in six bed dorms which were perfect as I wasn't a fan of the bigger dorms downstairs. Even better, you get a lot of great freebies for your money as the hostel provides free trips to Mount Wellington, the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary where you can see Tasmanian devils. Trust me, staying in this hostel will make your Hobart experience!
Top 5 things to see and do:
Why I fell in love with Hobart
Hobart has a real charm that other parts of Australia lack, perhaps being English it was the quaint, older charm the city had that won me over. I loved the way everything had a real history and seemed from a time long before the modern skyscrapers of the cities. The solid wooden bars seemed like they had a story to tell, the musicians were quirky and brought unique talent to the table. The lifestyle was slower and more appreciative than the busy bustle of Melbourne or Sydney, less focused on partying and more on appreciating the great outdoors, and when it came to that, Tasmania had a lot to offer. Everyone knows from this blog that I am a total party animal, but there is another side to me, that country girl from the UK who loves getting outdoors and active. Tasmania was a perfect place to do this and so when I was in Hobart, I used my time to plan a road trip around the rest of the island - I'll be blogging about how I planned my trip at a later date.
Have you been to Hobart - what was your favourite part? Can you recommend any things to do/places to eat at?