Before and after van conversion feature

To independently road trip a country guarantees you a perspective that just isn’t possible by travelling on public transport. For years now, my bucket list has contained the item ‘drive a campervan around Australia’. The dream has always been to do it as cheaply as possible, in a cosy and comfortable self-converted camper. It’s lucky then, that my partner is an engineer because actually, I am the least handy and practically-skilled person you will ever meet. It’s also lucky that Dave wants to travel Australia by campervan just as much as I do, as this joint dream is what has led to the four-month adventure trip we are about to commence, in our very own DIY campervan. Read More

Santiago mountains

The traditional notion of a backpacker has changed drastically over the years. Once upon a time, backpackers were people that took a chicken bus for a twelve-hour journey from one place to the next. They carried only the most basic, non-tech essentials and lived on a shoestring budget, favouring the cheapest of cheap accommodation. Nowadays, it’s a very different story for most. Read More

Girl at Canal Rocks Yallingup

Backpacker itineraries for Australia are usually filled with the most iconic destinations and landmarks; New South Wales’ Sydney Opera House, Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef, Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. In fact, all of the experiences I was recommended as a first-time backpacker to the country are found on the East Coast. Poor old Western Australia, seen as too remote or not quite spectacular enough to warrant the additional cost of a domestic flight, rarely gets a look in. Read More

Cartagena streets and buildings

Streets of Colombia

If somebody offered you the chance to bathe in the crater of a volcano, would you take it?

Considering volcano craters are usually bubbling with searing hot lava, I imagine not, but I’ve been standing in line to do exactly that for the past twenty minutes. Read More

Thailand Swing Koh Lanta

Thailand temple koh lanta

If you read the mainstream newspapers, you may have seen one of many recent articles concerning the safety of Thailand for travellers. In most of these articles, incidents of scams, muggings, unprovoked attacks, terrorist bombings, and even deaths are listed. If you’ve never been to the beautiful country of Thailand and you read one of these fear-inducing articles, I wouldn’t blame you for being put off visiting. Read More

Group of Nepali young people

Sitting on rubble in Dunbar Square Kathmandu

When a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on 25th April 2015, it made global headlines. The epicentre of the quake struck at Gorkha, but its effects impacted for miles, causing an avalanche on Mount Everest, destroying thousands of homes, and tearing down religious buildings in Kathmandu that were centuries old. More than 9000 people were killed, and hundreds of thousands made homeless. Following the earthquake, aftershocks took place regularly, including a major aftershock just two weeks later, which killed a further 200 people and injured 2500. Read More

The quarry at Ellis Brook Valley

The beauty of spending an Australian winter in Perth is the amount of sunshine and clear skies you’ll get. It may not be the scorching temperatures of the summer months, but if you’ve ever been exposed to that heat you’ll know that achieving any kind of outdoor activity (besides beach lounging and swimming) is near on impossible! From June to August though, the days are filled with the perfect warmth for outdoor adventuring, and pretty Perth has the ultimate walking trails to offer. Read More

If Cambodia is crowned as the most epic country I’ve visited so far, then Battambang is the jewel in that crown. Located just south of popular backpacker destination Siem Reap, it’s a city overlooked in many itineraries, especially by those with time constraints. In my opinion, though, Battambang deserves your attention for its authentic experiences, delicious cuisine, and comfortable yet budget travel-friendly accommodation. Read More

Girl in a hammock Gili air

We’ve all read the stories about wanderlust-ers that have been so keen to get their travel fix that they’ve sold everything they own, giving up material possessions that took years to earn. Some might say these people are crazy/brave/stupid. I don’t. I completely get it, and I’m one of them. Read More

Raeburn Orchards Girl Trees

The dream of travel in Australia is intrinsically linked with guaranteed warm temperatures, allowing for endless days spent lounging on beaches, surfing waves, joining sailing trips, and night after night of the infamous Aussie barbecue. It’s no surprise then, that most choose to visit the country in the summer months. The thing is, much of Australia does get pretty cold, yet the country still has plenty to offer year-round. Read More

Scared of Flying Flight View

I recently worked out that I’ve taken sixty-eight plane journeys in my lifetime. Sixty-eight! That is a serious amount of hours spent trapped in a capsule in the sky. You’d think this level of experience on planes would mean I’m completely at ease in the air, when actually, I remain terrified of flying. Read More

For an island so small you can cycle the entire thing in one hour, Gili Trawangan has a huge reputation. It’s known as one of South East Asia’s best party destinations for backpackers. Recommended to me by numerous travelling friends, I had to include the infamous ‘Gili T’ in my plans for Indonesia, despite the fact that I’m a grandma when it comes to partying these days.

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Mount Batur view at sunrise

It’s 6:02am on Mount Batur, in Bali, and the sun has just begun its rise between wispy clouds on the horizon. It’s position alongside a second mountain, Mount Agung, casts a reflective light across the lake below. The pink clouds hover at eye level as I watch from my bamboo mat near to the peak of the active volcano I sit on. The gruelling journey to arrive here was worth every second of this sunrise, I think.

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Tegalalang rice paddies ubud

The noticeable beauty of Ubud is the sprouting of greenery from every crevice. Even in the built-up town centre, long green stems spring from gaps in the pavement. They wave from terracotta rooftop tiles, and take over cracks that line the walls of time-resilient buildings. Far from giving the place a shabby or unloved appearance, this juxtaposition of nature and architecture feels like an agreement between the two to coexist.

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Backpacker with phone Australia

The first time I planned a round-the-world trip, I had no idea what travel accessories to pack. Despite asking friends that had done the same thing, endlessly searching Google, and reading numerous travel blogs, the pure volume of ‘helpful’ gadgets out there, promising to make my journey easier and more enjoyable, overwhelmed me.

In the end, I took the first flight of the trip laden down with a backpack that just about closed, containing way more travel gadgets than I would actually need. It didn’t take me long to realise this, and at my very first destination, New York, I binned a lot of them.

Five years on, and I still get a little buzz of excitement when I enter a store with a travel accessories section, or see the latest travel gadget pop up on my Facebook feed. Now though, I have a shrewder mind, and the excitement will soon be reigned in by consideration of whether this new gadget is something that will change my travels for the better, or lay dormant in the bottom of my bag as just one extra thing to carry.

For the record, here are some of the accessories I’ve invested in in the past, which ended their lives in a bin or as a donation to hostel cleaners…

Travel gadgets to leave at home
  • Universal sink plug – turns out I don’t have a beard to shave so have no need to actually fill a sink with water
  • Disposable batteries – no need to haul these around for the one item I carry that requires them, and batteries can be bought pretty much anywhere
  • Mini hair straighteners – because owning the rough backpacker look is a given in the community anyway
  • A compass – it’s hugely ironic given the name of this blog but I can’t actually use a compass, and these days we have phones
  • An actual physical Lonely Planet book – go digital, it’ll save your back some pain!
  • Portable door lock – which gets zero use when you spend most of your nights in a shared dormitory
  • Carabiners – one or two of these come in handy, but no ‘spares’ are required unless some serious hiking or camping may happen
  • Plug mains – most electronics these days charge by USB, so invest in one single plug adapter with multiple USB ports instead
  • Travel perfume – particularly problematic if you’re headed to countries with mosquitos, you’ll never want to apply this!

On the other hand, some of the travel gadgets I’ve bought over the years have been massively helpful for both adding convenience to a notoriously unruly lifestyle, or providing that little bit of extra security whilst roaming foreign lands. The ones I’d always recommend a fellow backpacker are below.

Essential travel gadgets
  • Bra stash – like a money belt, but it attaches to your bra instead. It’s less evident and more comfortable than a money belt
  • Vacuum bags – are an absolute must for keeping clothes easily accessible and compact at all times – don’t forget one extra for your dirty laundry!
  • Dry bag – brilliant for keeping valuables with you whilst you frolic in the sea, and avoids accidental liquid damage whilst on the move
  • Universal plug adapter – with multiple USB ports that charge everything at once
  • Travel pillow – because long bus journeys are very much real
  • Lightweight, spill-proof flask – this can be a lifesaver at airports where bottled water is three times its usual price, just fill at a water fountain instead
  • Rape alarm – when I’m not travelling with my boyfriend, having this to hand puts my mind at ease
  • Portable battery charger – for the times you’re on a long trip between destinations, or the hostel is lacking in plug sockets
  • USB – for saving all of your beautiful travel photography at any opportunity, and avoiding the risk of losing it if your camera/phone disappears. I also upload mine to Dropbox for added peace of mind
  • Torch – the minute you decide to take that spontaneous camping excursion or stay in a hostel with outdoor toilets, this will be essential
  • Sleeping bag liner – this one will help you get a better night’s sleep in a new bed, and help prevent bed bug bites (a rare occurrence!)
  • Padlock – and preferably one that requires a number sequence. Not all hostels will provide locks for their lockers. It’s also worth taking a cable lock padlock for securing your backpack to your bed, or seat on a bus
  • See-through makeup bag – for a fast and easy breeze through airport boarding with toiletries
  • She-wee – to make life easier when using less than clean bathrooms, or the dreaded drop-hole toilet

Reading the list above may already be overwhelming you, there’s a serious list of travel accessories there, I know. Honestly though, all of these are things I wouldn’t take a trip without now. Packing them may mean you take a few less clothes, but you’ll be grateful for that in the long run!

Aims 💋

What meaningless travel gadgets have you taken on your trips? Are there other accessories you think are essential to pack? Let me know in the comments below, and share this post with your travel buddies!

hutt lagoon west australia

If you’ve seen pictures of Hutt Lagoon, the pink lake near Kalbarri and Port Gregory, you’ve probably wondered, is it really that pink? Well, the answer is yes, but only if you know which part to visit, and the best times to do so.

When driving between Perth and Kalbarri, the route along George Grey Drive will actually take you directly alongside Hutt Lagoon, protected by a long line of trees rooted in orange dirt. If you’re driving past in the middle of the day though, the few glimpses you can grab between leaves, combined with strong sunlight, makes the water appear to be a regular shade of blue.

So, how do you see Hutt Lagoon at it’s most Instagram perfect pink?

The Pink Lake Kalbarri, How To Find The Pinkest Part

Firstly, drive to the left-hand side of the lake, along Port Gregory Road, where your view will be completely unobstructed. There are plenty of points along the road to pull over and hop out, so you can judge the most vibrant spot as you go.

Secondly, avoid visiting when there’s harsh sunlight and little cloud. The best times to see Kalbarri’s pink lake are early in the morning, and late in the afternoon, when the light isn’t reflecting quite so brightly.

To get the pictures below, I took an afternoon excursion to Hutt Lagoon around 3pm, in the middle of November. The map marks the spot I found the perfect pink hue.

Kalbarri pink lake view

Pink Lake near Kalbarri

hutt lagoon west australia

Map to pinkest spot Hutt Lagoon

Can you swim in the pink lake?

In short, no. Hutt Lagoon is pink is because it contains an algae often used for food colouring and in cosmetics. In fact, the lagoon is actually a huge production plant of this algae, so whilst there are no signs advising that this algae is particularly dangerous, personally I wouldn’t recommend coming into direct contact with it.

Just appreciating the natural colours of the pink lake from the roadside is more than enough reason to stop by. If you do fancy a dip, continue on the short drive towards Port Gregory and make do with the ocean instead!

Aims 💋

Let me know whether you found Hutt Lagoon at it’s pinkest point in the comments below, and let friends planning to travel in WA know by sharing on social!

Map of direction South Pole to Equator

Ten years ago, the usual way to find accommodation as a backpacker was to simply arrive at your destination with a Lonely Planet in hand, and head to one of the recommended hostels that fit your price range. For the most part, pre-booking online either wasn’t an option, or wasn’t necessary, and spontaneously showing up pretty much always resulted in the cheapest deal on your stay. It was also more fun and plans were flexible.

At risk of sounding like an old lady – how times have changed!

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Venice canals Italy

You know how some travellers are keen adrenaline-hunters, or mountain hikers, or festivalgoers? Well, I am a water-seeker. My top choice of backpacking activity is almost always to find the best lake, river, ocean, dam, pond, or waterfall nearby. Perhaps it’s because I’m a South Coast English girl at heart, born and raised by the seaside, but there’s something about water that calms me. So, here are nineteen of the best water spots that I’ve come across so far and would recommend you see for yourself.

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Great barrier reef australia

On New Year’s Eve 2015 I reflected on my decision to quit my job and travel the world. I was incredibly thankful for the nomadic lifestyle I chose to live and had no ‘return home’ date in sight. As 2016 comes to a close, it’s been another year of new countries, new friends, and new experiences, and I feel exactly the same way as I did all those months ago. The difference is, in 2016 I was granted something that few people are able to get; independent Australian permanent residency.

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Elephant ride, biggest travel regret

I don’t have many travel regrets. Occasionally I think about ways that I could have travelled better or cheaper, perhaps by drinking less alcohol or letting go of a set itinerary and ‘going with the flow’. These aren’t regrets though. They’re just observations, and ones that I can only make with hindsight and the experience of travel under my belt. No, my single biggest travel regret, is choosing to ride an elephant in Thailand, and I’ll tell you why.

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