So you’re going travelling? Travelling alone? As a female? Isn’t that dangerous? Will you be safe? Are you sure you want to do that?
YES, YES, YES, NO, YES, YES
I’m sure we’ve all heard one of those questions, if not all of them at one point or another. I know I heard all six, and I still hear them now when people from home find out I’m travelling.
Here are some helpful tips, that have definitely helped me along the way
KEEP YOUR WITS ABOUT YOU
I’m not telling you to be terrified and trust nobody, but be vigilant. Just because you’re abroad and acting like a holiday, it doesn’t mean you’re invincible. When I go to a foreign country, especially alone, I write down the local emergency numbers and local words that can help you in you get lost or injured.
THINK, DRESS AND ACT LIKE A LOCAL
If you’re travelling to South India, make sure you cover your shoulders, chest and knees. If you’re entering a mosque, cover your hair. This really helps if you want to blend in, and avoid the unwanted stares and attention. A lot of the time when you travel you don’t want to look like a tourist, blending in with their clothes etc will definitely help you fit in more.
ARRIVE AT YOUR LOCATION BEFORE NIGHTFALL
This one is mainly for locations like Asia, but not limited to. Getting off the coach in the dead of night on an unlit road with no internet on your phone probably isn’t the safest. I personally always book flights/coaches where I know I’ll be arriving in the day time. Or at least know someone is picking me up from the other end safely.
DON’T BE SCARED ABOUT BEING ALONE
Solo travelling doesn’t mean you’re going to be alone. Whether you’re in a 16 bed dorm or camping on Fraser Island, you’re pretty much always surrounded by people. My mums biggests fear before I started travelling was that I would be alone constantly and that would be dangerous. I don’t think there has been a day where I’ve been completely alone unless out of choice.
TELL SOMEONE ABOUT YOUR TRAVEL PLANS
Before you venture off into the Amazon Rainforest, tell someone, maybe some back home, where you’re going and the rough amount you’ll be gone for. That way, if no one here’s from you, then they can give a rough location of where you were last seen. I know a lot of people like to be care-free and separated from home, but sometimes that isn’t a good idea.
TRUST YOUR GUT
If you feel that something doesn’t seem right, then you’re probably right. If you ever feel uncomfortable in a situation, don’t feel nervous to leave or speak up. Travelling alone can be daunting sometimes, but it doesn’t mean you have to be scared. Don’t leave you luggage unattended, and don’t be too trusting of everyone. Not everybody you meet is going to have good intentions.
ENJOY YOURSELF BUT DON’T GO TOO WILD
This one probably makes me sound like a party pooper, trust me, I’m not trying to be. I’ve seen too many occasions where girls (and guys) drink way too much and end up in sticky situations. Yes have a drink, enjoy yourself, but know your limits, especially when you’re in an unfamiliar foreign country.
But at the end of the day, enjoy yourself. Travelling alone is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Okay, so this is going to be a little bit of a throw back post.
If you’re up to date with my blog then you’ll know my last few posts have been about Australia (where I’m currently settled in Brisbane), and I felt like for a little bit I should write about some other places.
Last year in April I went to the Middle East for a week with Mumma Sinclair, and I never wrote about it on my blog, oops.
Over the next couple of days I will be writing about my adventures in Irsael, Palestine and Lebanon.
I hope you enjoy the posts, and it breaks it up a bit after my many Australia posts..
At the beginning of January I travelled to Noosa to do my three days on Fraser Islands with Nomad Tours.
Even before I came to Australia I knew Fraser Island was definitely something I wanted to do. Everyone that I knew that had been to Aus had said Fraser Island and the Whitsundays are incredible. So it was only right I did it too.
These are my five favourite things about Fraser Island
This was something I had never done before. Growing up in the countryside of England, beach driving isn’t something you really get to experience. Unfortunately I hadn’t had my licence long enough to actually drive one of the 4×4, but that was probably a good thing (didn’t want to be responsible for killing people..). The beach driving was so different to driving I had seen before, one minute it’s so smooth, then you’re crashing through puddles and jumping across the dunes.
Lake McKenzie (Boorangoora)
Wow, where do I even begin with Lake McKenzie? It is a fresh water lake on the worlds biggest sand island. The water is completely clear, and because it’s fresh water, it means you can open your eyes. I have never seen a sight as beautiful as Lake McKenzie. My pictures don’t even do it justice and I would kill to be back there now. The sands around the lake are composed or pure, white silica and the water in the lake is also so pure that it is unsuitable for many species.
SS Maheno Shipwreck
The SS Maheno was an ocean liner that was washed ashore on Fraser Island by a cyclone in 1935, and has remained as a wreckage ever since. Over the years the wreckage has sunk further beneath the beach, and just the top remains. However it’s an incredible sight. In its time, it was the second largest ship after the Titanic.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to see any, but we did hear them. A couple of us went down to the beach at night to stargaze, and we could feel we were being watched by the dingoes from the dunes. Even if you keep completely still and silent, they know you’re there, so its unlikely they’ll come near you (unless you leave food out then they’ll probably do anything to get that off you)
Although I was with a group of about 20 people, you’ll be surprised at how peaceful the island really is. Especially as it is 250km long, if you did go in a small group then there is definitely stretches of beach where you won’t find any other people. This is something I probably loved the most. Even moreso when you go up Indian Head and can sometimes see the sharks in the water if it’s calm enough.
There’s probably so much more I can say about Fraser Island, but the title says ‘five favourites things’ (mainly because it rhymed better than 6).
I would highly recommend doing Fraser Island as part of your East Coast trip. Although it can be pricey, it is definitely worth it, and something I would love to do again.
Sydney to Port Macquarie was my first journey on my Greyhound hop on hop off pass.
I had already seen a couple of Koala’s at Featherdale outside Sydney, mentioned here, but I was eager to see more. I had heard about a Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie that rescues and rehabilitates injured koala’s.
In Port Macqaurie I was staying at Port Macquarie Backpackers (highly highly recommend) and they kindly drove us down to the Hospital which is free to get in.
Once you get to the hospital you are taken around in tours where they tell you detailed information about the individual koala’s they there, and their release times (if they can be released). Unfortunately some of the koala’s will be living there permanently, like Barrington Xavier who is permanently blind.. it’s much kinder for him to be cared for there.
Before going travelling I was always really sceptical about these sort of ‘sanctuary’s’. You know the ones you see on the news where they say they’re helping the animals, then someone releases a BTS video and you see the animal being abused. Well thankfully this wasn’t the case with the Koala Hospital. I can safely say this is a genuine sanctuary where they try their hardest to release as many of the animals as possible.
Visitors are welcome at the koala hospital from 8am to 4:30pm where you can walk around and see the koala’s they care from. At 3pm you can get a guided tour where you will see the animals being fed by the volunteers.
Photos are allowed, but no flash photography.
I would highly highly recommend the Koala Hospital are a free and fun activity in Port Macquarie.
the post where I apologise for being crap at blogging..
Hello, I’m back *hides face in shame*
The whole point of this blog was to document my travelling. Well I’ve been travelling for 5 months now and I’ve made precisely 0 blog posts. Zero, nothing, nought, none.
I know I know, terrible. But I do have an explanation, well more of an excuse really.
I’m new to this whole travelling malarkey. It was my first time in a hostel, and to be truthfully honest I have no clue what I was doing whatsoever. As you can imagine, flying 24 hours around the world by yourself, landing in a brand new continent can be pretty overwhelming. I did plan to blog, but yeah, that didn’t happen.
Well enough of me trying to justify my actions, I will now try and get into what I was going to say.
WHERE HAVE I BEEN?
So on the 29th November 2016 I left raining Cheltenham to flew to Australia. I landed in Meblourne on the 1st December at 7:30am, and I had no idea where the hell I was. Since then I have travelled Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. I’m not going to go into too much detail here as I am (hopefully) going to make individual blog posts on some of my adventures up the East Coast.
Brace yourselves people, this is where it gets good. I have made a friend here (I know, exciting), and when my visa expires in December, we are going travelling and she is coming back to England with me. Hopefully by then I would’ve worked out how to hostel and blog at the same time, and I won’t leave it 5 months until you hear from me again.
But yes.. that was the reason for my blog post today. So people (mainly my mum) know I’m alive and well, and just merely go so side tracked with life that blogging wasn’t something that came to mind *I did try and do vlogmas, got to day 5 and realised I can’t vlog*
In order for this blog to work I really do need to try and jazz it up a bit, you know make it all fancy so people think I’m a professional (fingers crossed anyway).
Birth. School. School. College. University. Job. Marriage. Children. Retire. Die
Where in that list do you get time to travel? Do you skip University, not get a job, don’t have children? Or can you still do all of those and travel?
So far I have done birth, school, school, college, job, travel.. and now planning more travelling, having deferred university twice. This probably isn’t the most standard route, but it seems to be a lot more common nowadays. Young adults, in their late teens early 20s are going on the ‘gap yah’ before University. A lot of people say this is the only time you get to travel before you settle down with your life and get tied into too many commitments to actually ‘live’.
I remember being at sixth form and turning up to one of those sessions where lecturers come in from Universities and try and sell it to you. I remember walking out of the hall after, turning to my Head of Sixth Form and telling him that I won’t be applying to Uni.I remember he made me write a personal statement, a personal statement that had no life or drive in because frankly I had no passion for Uni. I remember after results I panicked that I would have no career, so I applied through clearing and go accepted onto a Criminology and Psychology course (even though I knew I didn’t want to do that as a career). And finally, I remember deferring that place two days later, and the year after, because I realised that Uni is for everyone, but the world is.
So now I’m sat in my living room, having worked in insurance for a year and a half, quitting that job to volunteer in India for 3 months, and now I’m thinking what to do next. After getting back from India I had numerous people asking me, ‘so which Uni are you going to in September?’. They were shocked and very often confused when I replied, ‘no I’m not going to Uni.’ A lightbulb would soon click and they would then proclaim, ‘oh, so you have a good job lined up?’. Again, ‘no, no job lined up.’ You would then see their face register that I was going to be a bum, on the dole, lay about or simply a dosser.
Finally I would tell them about my plans to travel the world, to which they would scoff and joke about me going on a ‘gap yah’.
‘So what are your plans when you return?’
‘I don’t know..’
‘What career are you going to do?
‘I don’t know..’
‘Are you going to go to Uni after?’
‘I don’t know..’
‘What do you mean you don’t know?’
‘I just don’t know..’
But I think that is the beauty of it, I DON’T KNOW. I’m 21 years old, am I really meant to know what I want to do with my life? I’ve heard numerous stories of people who do years at University to be a doctor, they complete all the relevant exams, do all the relevant training, have a year in the profession, and then they realise they actually want to be a stand up comedian and they rushed into what they thought was the right thing to do.
I’m 21 for goodness sake. I want to see the world, experience new things, live a life of adventure and wonder. Yes, that might not be the ideal life for everyone. I understand a lot of people go to University straight after school, get their degree, go into their desired profession, and stay there until they retire, absolutely loving it. Kudos to them. But that’s not me, and as far into the future as I can see, that won’t ever be me.
So yes, to everyone who is asking, I am off on my gap yah to galavant around the world, with no true goal in sight. I want to see the Taj Mahal, the Great Barrier Reef and Machu Picchu. I want to reach base camp of Everest and walk The Great Wall of China. I want to lie beneath the stars of the Australian outback and the Aurora Borealis of Iceland, with no real aim and journey planned.
To me, that is my life. One day I will settle, or return to where I am now. Hell I may be back in two months, but maybe, just maybe, I will never come back. I may go to Jordan or Japan and realise this is where I should be my whole life.
But until then, I will step on that plane next month, and say goodbye to Cheltenham and hello to Melbourne. The rest of my life starts then, and I cannot bloody wait.
From a very young age I was always interested in the world. It started around the age of 6 when my mums friend bought me a light up globe for christmas and I couldn’t stop staring at it. 14 years later, I decided it was about time to explore that globe in real life, and stare at the wonders it held in front of me.
However.. slight issue. I had just left sixth form, and was on basic salary job, with little savings. I trolled the internet for volunteering placements abroad, from elephants in Thailand to orphanages in Brazil, but they all cost extortionate amounts of money, which I did not have. Down beaten, I turned to FaceBook to express my anger about my predicament, but before I could click the final button on posting my self wallowing status, something just below caught my eye.
ICS (International Citizen Service) was sat right there, right below my moaning status about my lack of funds and bundles of ambition. I clicked curiously on it to see it was an organisations that sends British youths abroad to volunteers in Asia, South America and Africa for 12 weeks at a time.. at absolutely no cost. There must be a catch I thought, but I applied anyway.
Long story short, 7 months later on the 4th May 2016, I was stood in Heathrow Airport with 30 other volunteers about to fly off to India to volunteer in the southern state of Tamil Nadu for the next 12 weeks.
The Adventure Begins
Sitting on the plane I thought to myself ‘have I made the right decision?’ I know that sounds dumb considering I had been dreaming about a day like this for years. But when you are actually sat there and you realise you are going to be thousands of miles away from home living in a tiny village with a national host family with strangers you have only met for two days, living and breathing rural culture, it suddenly hits you that this is very real and it isn’t as simple as getting the bus home from London.
The first week was basic training, preparing us for what we would face when we arrived in placement. We would be split into four different teams across the state, Vellore 1, Vellore 2, Kanchiparum and my team, Thirvallur. As well as the 30 international volunteers, there would also be 30 national volunteers, who lived in the areas we were going to be volunteering in. The English was limited, but a lot better than what I expected it to be.
We were briefed on the sort of issues we would be teaching about, health and livelihoods. There was the WASH program, ‘Water, Sanitation and Hygiene’, and also MHM, ‘Menstrual Health Hygiene’. I knew the MHM would be a struggle because of the ways the girls are treated when they started their periods, and throughout their puberty.
After two weeks we finally went off to placement, and I arrived the village I would be living in for the next 8 weeks, Thiruvalangadu. We knew we going to have a YRC (youth resource centre) but nothing prepared us for the 12ft x 7ft metal shed on the roof of a third floor building. I think I was naive when I was expecting the sort of church hall you have for your 7th birthday party.
The planning was a struggle at first, we had a school placement lined up from the start, but organising the sessions was difficult. We were told most of our classes would be 9th and 10th standard (14, 15 and 16 year olds), so we had to tailor them to their age.
Before my eyes the weeks started whizzing past, and then we were at our top up training in Pondicherry, and I realised we were already half way through our placement. Back in the village we carried on with our sessions, and it was time to tackle MHM and female empowerment. We ran two sessions with the 9th standard girls at the local Government High School, one on girls empowerment and another on menstruation and puberty.
We were apprehensive on how the sessions would go because we had been previously informed on how little the girls knew, and how it was such a taboo in India. I was strangely impressed in how much the girls knew about the puberty side of our sessions, but little was known about the menstruation.
My highlight of the session was when I laid an A3 piece of sugar paper on the ground with the outline of a female body drawn on. I handed out some pens and asked the girls to draw on the puberty changes. The leg hair and arm pit hair was drawn on, and I asked them if they knew any other hair they grows on the female body. The girls all stared at me, and I could tell they knew but were too embarrassed to say anything. Finally a girl grabbed one of the pens are stared at the paper. Moments later she scribbled on some pubic hair, and ran out the circle in embarrassment whilst all the other girls laughed. It was an amazing moment to see her do that. Although that is something so simple for someone in the UK to do, for her that was breaking her own countries taboo.
A massive passion of mine was Womens’s Empowerment and Equality, and in India I had the opportunity to host my own women’s day in Thiruvalangadu. It total 35 women arrived, and we had our female village President do a speech, as well as my ama (the wonderful host mother I stayed with). It was beautiful how passionate the women were about their equality in a country when men are definitely viewed as more important and superior. Instead of adding all the details in this post about the women’s day, I’m going to write a separate post about it soon.
The weeks carried on and before I knew it we had reached over 500 youth and taught them life important skills about health and livelihoods. Then before we knew it, the dreaded day (exciting day for some) had arrived, and we were back in Chennai having our debrief before we flew home. It was emotional to say the least, because although we are getting to see the International volunteers again at Action @ Home training just two weeks later, the chance of realistically seeing the National Volunteers again is about none to 100.
I formed a proper bound with my National volunteers, but it hurt to see them go back to Thiruvalangadu, but I know we will keep in contact, and the stuff we have taught each other will carry them on into their futures.
I am going to write a separate post about ICS and all the information you will need for it. I truly do recommend applying if you do want to see the world and make a difference whilst you’re doing it. There were times when I was sad, angry and homesick, but the majority of the time I was so happy and full of energy that you forget those bad days straight away.
Thank you for reading my first blog post. I hope I didn’t ramble on too much. Please do leave any feedback below.