I started this blog 10 months ago when I made a decision to effectively quit the life I had constructed. I considered all my options in one of my first articles “so what now?”, and ultimately decided to travel to give myself time to reflect and decide on a path.
I have made a number of decision in that time, however this article isn’t about big thoughts. Its about all the little random things you can discover.
- I fucking love ginger.
- The male New Orlean accent is my favourite.
- I always thought I was an indoors person, and in fact I am never more happy than when I’m hiking outside.
- I have a real soft spot for the German people, they have a real adventurous spirit.
- I don’t really like planning (great ex project manager…).
So this article actually does have a message behind it. Its so easy to measure yourself based on big decisions or milestones and then punish yourself for failing (I was that person). However its important to look at the small picture. We are making discoveries everyday that we don’t think about that shape the person we are and that’s AMAZING.
Remember be kind to yourself and look out for the small things.
Ready to get out of Hanoi and into nature I decide on the National Park of Ba Be. My research told me it was hard to get to but my hostel organised it.
So it started with a mo-ped whizzing through traffic with my backpack on his leg rest and me grabbing on for dear life. Then onto a cute little bus, where rows of four seats became 6 thanks to wooden planks. I felt like a circus attraction with a young lady staring at me fascinated by my blue eyes. But what can you do but embrace the new and laugh.
The bus ends in a tiny village in the dark at the wrong place! the bus driver organises a motorbike to my homestay. On the back of a motorcycle we whiz through dirt roads in the dark dodging pot holes and sleeping cows.
I feel this experience more than any so far has helped me realise my growth. The old me would have totally freaked out, but I am appreciating the new and when in doubt just laugh.
Also future tip nature lovers book the QBus express, a private bus that goes from Hanoi to home stays in Ba Be.
I should start this article with the caveat that I am enjoying group travel. So why this article you ask? Just as I recognise solotravel is not for everyone, the same is very true for group travel.
The darkside of group travel
- Drinking culture: get a bunch of young people together and inevitably drinking happens. In large groups this experience is intensified, creating an expectation you should get drunk most days.
- School drama: you will be spending every moment with these people, as a result clicks get formed, grudges happen, relationships start and fail etc. The resultant effect is it can feel like being back at high school.
- Privacy: I have a natural inclination to introvertion as a result my energy comes from within. What this means in practice for me and many alike is alone time can be essential for a much needed recharge. Due to the itinerary of the trip finding alone time is very difficult and you really need to actively carve out the time.
Is group travel for you?
In my opinion if you answer NO to any of these statements consider all your options, or start with a taster group travel adventure first.
I can share small living space with strangers? I don’t always need a good night sleep? I like being in groups as opposed to my own company? I am happy to be led? I like to drink or don’t feel peer pressured to drink? I able to ignore/like drama so it doesn’t effect me? I am happy to spend long periods of time travelling?
Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, group travel has been an unexpected intense experience. I am working on a follow up article- the cons of group travel.
In the meantime for you travellers or would be travellers this was a very read-enjoy.
So after travelling on my own for the first 5 months and change I wanted to shake it up, so decided on a group tour.
What is a group tour? In essence a group of strangers with the help of a guide travel around a given location, simples.
In my case 49 days around Europe with 40ish young people full of hormones, what’s the worse that could happen….
7 days in…This trip is so different from travelling on my own:
- Everything is so heightened with a constant electricity in the air.
- Relationships/clicks gets formed so quickly and the small talk dissipates replaced by the same contentment you get with a long time friend.
- Every location we visit has a sense of urgency, with the need to use every second to absorb what the new place has to offer.
- The travelling on our coach which was hash on the first day has become our constant for much needed naps, snacking and games.
I will keep you posted on the next 42 days….
So travelling for an extended period has been a truly blessed experience, however I found myself home sick for a couple of days last week.
I have meet fellow travellers in person and online who have been very homesick especially when solo travelling. I got though it and am having an amazing fulfilling experience again. So I wanted to share some simple tips that helped me.
Structure– as a traveller I personally try to be in the moment. However the constant unknown can add to homesickness. So spend some time getting organised, even if its just planning one day; not only will the planning make you think of something else, but will also give you some much needed certainity going forward.
A taste of home– do something that you would have done at home. For me its was spending a little extra and having my own room for a day. But it could be a favourite food, gossip with a friend, a movie etc
Don’t isolate yourself– its tempting to crawl into your shell when your feeling low, but do the opposite. Meet other travellers if your at a hostel, or use meet ups on couchsurfing. Other travellers will help reinforce the reason you are doing what your doing.
I travelled around Mexico for a month and a major trouble I had was narrowing down what I wanted to do. In terms of both geography and regional variances Mexico is big. So I wanted share my best bits.
Best temple/ruins:Uxmal– I know Chichen Itza is the most famous but I much preferred Uxmal. It has a surprisingly diverse history and gets about a 10th of the footfall.
Best Cenote:Grand Cenote in Tulum– This is probably the most touristy one I visited but it wasn’t overwhelmingly crowded. The Cenote itself is the perfect temperature on a sunny day and they have a turtle sanctuary.
Best Town: Merida– The town itself adopted tourism as a trade a few years ago, as a result it has found the perfect blend of keeping its Spanish heritage and being tourist friendly. Check out my full guide here.
Best experience: Oaxaca Cookery school– In my opinion Oaxaca is best experienced through its food and this was the perfect day. Exploring the markets to understand the evolution of food in the area, understanding Mole, eating Grasshoppers and then making amazing food in a traditional kitchen-can’t understate how good this was.
I have spent a few weeks in Fiji traveling and like a lot of travelers was completely confused when deciding what to do. This guide is for those who only have a week.
Arriving early in the morning at Nadi (if later flight stay a night at smugglers cove and miss a day on the islands): go straight to Denarau port stopping off to buy plenty of water. Then get on the Yasawa Flyer to your first island.
On a budget– spend two days in Waya Lailai Island at the Ecohaven for the summit walk at sunrise, then two nights in Matacawalevu island at White Sandy resort; finishing off at Nabua Lodge for snorkeling at the blue Lagoon-this can be booked through awesome adventures Fiji using the Bula Combo Pass
Splash the cash– spend two days at Waya LaiLai Island at the Ecohaven for the summit walk at sunrise, then a day at Nanuya Balavu Island at the Mantaray resort to see the Mantaray’s; two days at Nacula Island at Nabua Lodge to go to the blue Lagoon and finish it off at South Sea Island for the free water sports. This will seems like a strange
route, but will maximize the activities you can do.
Enjoy Fiji time.
I wondered when I started this solo traveling adventure who will I meet and what lessons could I learn? This series of articles will be a spot light on those people.
Mr. Young Germany– I traveled with this young man a few days, he had graduated school a year early, decided to defer university to travel. Unlike a lot of people his age he decided not to do it as part of a tour and go solo. He helped my realise I don’t have to be so tough on myself-be kind to yourself.
Mr. England– Worked in insurance and this was his third time taking a year to travel. I met him in Honolulu and he has a serious girlfriend who he lived with in Japan for 3 years. He helped my realise with the right partner you don’t have to feel trapped.
Ms. Germany– She had a similar story to myself- fell into a career, saved hard for a home and was working her way up the career ladder. Then like myself felt incredibly trapped by life, decided to make a dramatic change and find herself by traveling . Unlike me she still wanted some structure so has been doing causal Nanny work in the places she visits. She helped me reconfirm that I don’t need to always do what society expects of me.
As you guessed from the title I loved my time at Paihia. Waking up to the beautiful sunrise over the dock (picture above) was so serene. It makes you feel so at peace.
So after the beautiful sunrise what do you do in Paihia? Well lets start with the free stuff- You can hike to Haruru waterfall, Opua Forest (which has wild Kiwi’s), and/or the Waitangi National Reserve. There are also a number of beautiful beaches (just don’t go to the one near the dock as the water isn’t very nice).
What’s good and cheap– Kayaking around the bay is so good, I personally went to one of the little islands- you can also get to Haruru waterfall. Take a very reasonable priced ferry to Russell to see the oldest church in New Zealand and chill on the long beach.
What’s great and needs some money- Spend the money, trust me, and do one the sail boat trips around the various islands. I personally did She’s a Lady which was awesome- I got to sail the ship, see tiny penguins in the middle of the sea (sometimes you see Dolphins) and visit a number of the little Island’s.
Recommendations– A friend, Josh, recommended a tour to the 90 mile beach and Cape Reinga because he loved it. Also the captain of She’s a Lady recommended an overnight boat hostel-can’t say much about it so be sure to look it up.