25/03/2017

Planning a backpacking trip around Europe

Back in September I flew off to Europe for five and a half weeks. I went with Soph my university friend and met another of my friends Tilli half way through. We had planned on interrailing through Europe for quite a long time, however, my planning for the trip wasn't as detailed and thorough as I would have liked due to most of it being done while I was in India. However, I think the planning I did was successful and so I thought it may be useful to put together a post of the general steps I took to planning the trip and tips I learnt whilst planning and whilst on the trip.

Interrailing Europe

HOW LONG WILL YOUR TRIP BE?


This seems like a sensible place to start. This determines a lot of other factors, such as where you'll visit and how long you'll stay in each place. You may be lucky and have no restrictions on the length of your trip. However, realistically they will be some sort of restriction, maybe it's the amount of holiday you get at work or the fact that you're at uni/college/school or that you only have enough money to go for two weeks unless you eat baked beans on toast three times a day for the next six months. Travel is great but I don't think anyone should have to make that sort of sacrifice. 

WHEN WILL YOU GO?


A lot of people go interrailing in the summer. Firstly, because of the good weather and secondly if you're at school, college or university then this is the only break you get that's long enough to go and you'll most likely have no work to do during the summer.

WHERE WILL YOU GO?


Europe is massive! Realistically, you won't be able to do it all, maybe not even half! It's best to focus on one area, for example central Europe or Eastern Europe. Lots of people who backpack Europe choose to do central Europe such as Paris, Rome, Berlin etc.

I personally didn't visit any of these of my trip. I chose to focus mostly on Eastern Europe and places where I wouldn't necessarily choose to go to for a weekend away or holiday. Places like Paris I could see myself visiting for a weekend or when I'm older so I didn't prioritise them.


HOW LONG IN EACH PLACE 


This links back to how long your trip will be. If you're only going for three weeks then the amount of places you visit will be quite different than a six month trip. If you're trip is quite open ended then I think going with the flow is the best approach, stick to just booking up the first couple of nights or if you want a bit more set in stone then decide how long you'll stay in the first couple of places you visit. 

If your trip is tighter and you have an exact end date then deciding how long you have in each place will help you get the most out of your time. We booked up all of our hostels either beforehand or about a week before while we were travelling. You don't have to be quite so structured. If you want the freedom of changing your itinerary then stick to booking hostels as you go. Or even just turning up. However, while I did this quite a lot in India and Sri Lanka I think it would have been harder to do so in Europe, especially in high season. A lot of the places I stayed in were fully booked or nearly fully booked and I visited in September and October which I wouldn't even class as high season. 

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HOW I PLANNED MY TRIP


Planning a trip is sometimes a bit daunting, especially at the start when all you know is that you're going on the trip. You don't know where you're going in specific but you know you'll be heading off to Europe. 

Blogs are often my first point of call for starting to narrow down where I'll be going. Oh, and Instagram but that's once I have a bit of an idea of where I'll be going. Because I was Interrailing on my trip I used the interrail website quite a lot. They have information about each country that the pass can be used in and this helped me a lot when deciding where I would go.

I also like to open google maps to start to form a route. If there's one place I want to go to that seems further away from everything else then I need to figure out if it's plausible and how to fit it into the trip. A prime example is Venice. I really wanted to fit it into my trip but it would involve a 10 hour detour and mean that we'd have to cut our time in cities such as Prague and Budapest. It wasn't on the way to anywhere I was going so I decided it was best to skip it and allow more time in other places. I'm glad I did this as Prague and Budapest both needed a few days to see the sights and it meant we were able to fit in a night in Bratislava which was on the way to another destination we were going to. 

How to plan an Interrailing trip

MY FAVOURITE RESOURCES 

Skyscanner: The place to go when you need to book a flight. Or the place to go if you're dreaming of you're next trip. I usually use Skyscanner as my starting point for checking prices. Sometimes I book directly through a website and sometimes I book through Skyscanner, it completely depends on the prices. If you're dates are quite flexible then choose to search the whole month to see which days are cheapest.

TIP: Delete your cookies and history if you've been looking up flight prices a lot. This may make the prices a bit cheaper. Or get somebody else to check the prices, a family member or friend on a different device and see how the prices compare. 

Hostel world: Some people love them, some people hate them. Hostels are
my main accommodation especially in places like Europe where there aren't really guesthouses like Asia and the price of accommodation is a bit more pricy. Hostel world is the best place to find hostels, the app makes it very easy to find accommodation on the go.

TIP: While I book most of my hostels through Hostel world it is also worth giving your chosen hostel a quick google to see if you can book directly through them as many of them are a tiny bit cheaper if booked direct.

Air bnb: Air B n B is a great place to find nice places to stay but it is also great for finding guesthouses. I always try and compare prices on booking.com and air b n b as quite a few guesthouses are on both. But the main reason I use Air B n B is when I want to stay somewhere a bit nicer as a treat. There are so many great apartments and villas on Air B n B and a lot of them are very reasonable. We stayed in one for my birthday in Prague and while it was more expensive that a hostel it was cheaper than a nice hotel and we got an apartment to ourselves including a kitchen where we made breakfast each morning.

TIP: Recommend a friend and get them to sign up and you'll both get some travel credit. Even better if you're both travelling together as your friend can book one stay and once you've stayed there you'll get credit which you can use for the next time you use Air B n B, which may be on the same trip! 

Interrail website: If you're not planning on Interrailing this might not be that much use to you but it still may be worth checking out as there are example itineraries and plenty of information on countries.

TIP: Download the app. It's free and you can check train times and routes without needing to be connected to wifi. You can also track the train you're on to see how close you are to your destination. 

Tripadvisor: I don't tend to use Tripadvisor that much, I prefer to look at blogs to find out what to see but i do like to use it for food. Sometimes I prefer to find places to eat on my own or through blogs, sometimes the best places are the local hidden gems. However, sometimes you just want to save some hassle and eat somewhere that comes recommended, sometimes this pays off and sometimes you end up in a very busy restaurant that's a little overpriced. But more often than not Tripadvisor recommendations do pay off. 

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Have you backpacked around Europe? Where did you go?

Sophie 




21/03/2017

Kandy | Sri Lanka

Kandy Hill, Sri Lanka


We arrived in Kandy on a bus from Matale. We hadn't booked any accommodation so set to work finding somewhere to stay when we got there. We'd looked online but a lot of places were booked up or very pricy because it was the Esala Perahera. In hindsight maybe we should have booked in advance. We found a tuk tuk and asked the driver if he knew any guest houses. He said he did so took us to the first one. We looked around and the price was very high, again because of the Esala Perahera, we tried to negotiate but they wouldn't budge. I don't mind paying higher prices but the quality of the room was not reflected in the high price in any way. We moved onto another guest house and it was the same problem. We asked the driver to drop us off in town and we'd found our own accommodation but he kept insisting we see 'just one more!'.

He eventually dropped us off but demanded triple the price we'd negotiated because we hadn't picked any of the accommodation he'd shown us even though we'd asked him after the second one to drop us off. After the stress of trying to find somewhere to stay our next task was to try and find somewhere with wifi to conduct our own search.

We found a bar / coffee shop so sat down to have a coffee and get some (very bad) wifi. Using the wifi we managed to find a hostel with beds available. We headed to the hostel, dropped off our bags and headed into town. The hostel was around a half an hour walk from the main city. The walk was very hilly but thankfully was downhill on the way to the city, we usually got a tuk tuk home because the hill was so steep! 

I have to say I never really got my head around the logistics of the city. What I mean by this is I usually had no idea where I was going. I'm usually quite good at getting my head around a new place, I start to recognise landmarks and work out how to get around. However, with Kandy, we could never quite get the route into town right. We ended up walking to the train station both times which was the opposite to where we actually wanted to go! It does feel much larger than anywhere else I visited in Sri Lanka (apart from the capital, Colombo).

Buddhas in Kandy







What to see in Kandy


The Esala Perahera


This is one of the most important Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka. The tooth that is held in the Temple of the Tooth is carried through the city in the procession. Being able to see this depends on what time of year you will be visiting Kandy. The festival takes place from the end of July until the first week of August. If you're in Sri Lanka in this time then it's worth checking out. I can't tell you exact dates as they vary slightly from year to year but I'm sure a quick google will tell you the 2017 dates. 

If you do visit, get a spot early! The procession starts around 7 pm but the city will get packed a lot earlier, it will start getting very difficult to get around due to roads being blocked off, trying to get from one side of the street to the other is extremely hard in certain areas. There are plenty of places to watch the procession but they will fill up quickly. We looked for a place to watch around 5.30 and a lot of areas were already full. 

Ensure you sit somewhere that the procession actually passes. We initially sat down in a space but were told that the procession didn't actually come past us, it came close but not past. There were lots of other people sitting in this area so I'm not sure if they knew. We quickly moved on. We ended up sitting right by the end of the procession. We sat 'front row' on the street but as the procession went on it was clear this was not the best position. 

TIP: Don't sit near the end of the procession, most of the dancers had stopped by this point so we missed out on seeing a lot. 

You can buy seats in restaurants or shops to view the procession from. We found these pricy. They varied from around 25 to 35 pounds, most were just a small chair in a shop front, others were more fancy. 

Streets of Kandy, Sri Lanka









Explore the markets

There are plenty of markets in Kandy to explore. I can definitely say that we spent a bit too much time exploring them. Many of the outside ones are like the usual ones you find. Set up for tourists selling traveller favourites such as elephant pants and knock off brand clothing. However, we found an inside market which seemed to be very much the same as the outside ones until a man invited us up to the top floor. This actually sounds incredibly creepy when I write it but it wasn't as creepy as it sounds. We assumed he was just going to take us to another floor of the same stands but we followed anyway as we could easily turn around if they were. However, the top floor was a bit of a goldmine. We seemed to be the only tourists up there. The stalls were a complete jumble of clothes. It was like one big charity shop. 

It was great as a lot of the clothes were the sort you'd find in some quirky vintage store except without the high prices! We got a bit too carried away. We had to look through a lot of bad clothes to find the gems but it was great. I have to say I enjoyed escaping sightseeing for the afternoon. We came away with way too many clothes and had to buy a bag to carry them all in. Not a good move but I do wear a lot of the clothes I purchased so I guess it worked out well. 

I think the market we went to was the central market but I'm not completely sure. I didn't take too much notice of my surroundings and we always ended up getting a bit lost on our walk into the centre!

tuk tuk Kandy, Sri Lanka

The Lake

This is one thing we didn't get chance to see (probably thanks to our mad shopping afternoon). We did however, see some of the lake whilst walking around the centre of Kandy. I think you can hire boats to go out onto the lake or just walk around it.

The Temple of the Tooth 


Temple of the tooth, Kandy

Elephants in Kandy, Sri Lanka


This is, maybe, the most important temple in Sri Lanka. It's also one of the main reasons for visiting Kandy. We went very early before our train to Nawalapitiya (where we'd treated ourselves to a night at a cute hotel in a tea plantation). We were supposed to go the previous day but we got carried away shopping in the markets. Long story short we got very excited over cheap clothes and bought way too many. I greatly regretted this when I had to carry all these new clothes in my rucksack!

When we went the Temple of the Tooth closed earlier than usual for the Esala Perahera festival. We had seen this on our first night but did not want to see it again so planned on going to the temple in the later afternoon. However, we couldn't so ended up having a very early start. I guess it was karma for going shopping instead of being cultural!

The entrance fee to the temple is higher than most of the others we visited but it is the most important one and this reflects in the price. You have to hand over your shoes before you enter. There are people offering to give you guided tour but we declined, we were in a hurry and didn't want to spend extra money and not be able to fully appreciate a tour.

The temple was already quite busy when we got there and we were there pretty early in order to fit it in before our train. There are various other buildings in the complex some are included in the ticket but many of the museums have a separate fee. 

Summary

  • Bus from Matale to Kandy: 40 rupees (less than an hour)
  • Easy train access from Kandy train station to traveller favourite such as Ella. 
  • Can also get the bus from Dambulla, slightly longer and costs more but still very cheap. 
  • Entry to the Temple of the Tooth: 1000 rupees 
  • Go to the Temple of the Tooth early as it can get very crowded inside! 

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15/03/2017

A Mini Guide to exploring Ljubljana

A mini guide to Ljubljana


During my Interrailing trip I saw a fair few cities; seven to be precise! Trying to plan what to do in each of these was quite hard work. Unfortunately, because of this Ljubljana got a bit lost in the mix. We visited in the middle of our trip. I wasn't particularly excited to visit the city. However, while it didn't become one of the highlights of my trip I was surprised at what the city had to offer and really enjoyed the two days we spent there.  

We had two days to explore Ljubljana. We hadn't done much planning, as I said Ljubljana was towards the middle of my trip and while I'd done plenty of Instagram stalking for places like Lake Bled, Ljubljana had taken a back seat.

Luckily, the hostel we were staying in (C Punkt Hostel) had plenty of leaflets which helped us plan things to do. The more time I spent in Ljubljana the more I enjoyed and appreciated the city. We managed to fit quite a lot into our two days and I thought I'd share my favourite things to do for anyone thinking about visiting. Or maybe, if you're not this post will make you add Ljubljana to your travel list! 

WHAT TO SEE


The castle


I'm going to be completely honest and say that the Ljubljana castle was not the prettiest or nicest castle I've visited. But it's still worth walking up to it, even if it's just to look out at the views. We didn't pay to go into the castle but were still able to walk around the grounds and some areas. It reminded me of somewhere you visit on a school trip and because we were trying to save a bit of money we personally didn't want to pay to enter. 

There are various paths up to the castle, we went up one and down another. It takes around 10 minutes to get up there and the paths are easy enough to navigate. The one we took on the way up had better views such as the one in the picture below. Access to this path is in the Old Town near the Stari Trg (Old square) while the one we took back down led to the Central Market. 

The path to Ljubljana castle



Walking tour


As with most cities there are plenty of walking tours to choose from. We chose to do a less traditional one and opted for the graffiti one instead. It was really interesting and I actually paid attention and didn't get bored. It was a great way to see the city and explore it's more unusual areas such as the Metelkova Mesto which is an urban squat and a great place for nightlife. We didn't manage to visit it at night but we stayed after the graffiti tour to explore. 

Metelkova Mesto, Ljubljana


The old town


Ljubjan Old Town is incredibly pretty. I remember my first sighting of it was a big pink building which I found out later was the Franciscan church. This was located in Preseren Square. There are lots of cute shops and restaurants in this area. A lot of the restaurants overlook the Ljubljanica which is the river that runs through the city. Such restaurants are a great place to go in the evening. There are also quite a few bars along the riverbanks. 

Old Town Centre, Ljubljana

Visit Lake Bled

If you fancy escaping the city and heading off somewhere even more fairytale then take a day trip to Lake Bled. Or do what I did and spend a couple of nights there. Either way a visit to Lake Bled is a must! It takes around 3 hours on the train depending on which stop you get off at. Or you can catch the bus. Or if you want less do it yourself then there are plenty of organised tours, less so in the winter months, to Bled. It completely depends how much freedom you want on your day trip. We saw quite a few coaches come into Bled. I would personally recommend spending a few days there because it is so stunning but if you're short on time then make sure you fit in a day trip whilst in Ljubljana. 

Lake Bled viewpoint


WHERE TO EAT

I seem to be very bad at this part of my guides. I eat plenty of food on my trips I just always forget to make a note of the name of the places I eat. Bad blogger right here. We were only in Ljubljana for a short time so didn't have that much time to try lots of different places but I did note down (ahem try and remember the names and have to look them up on tripadvisor) of some of the places we ate. 

Coffee in Ljubljana
Cafe Romeo: 

This is a slightly strange restaurant in the sense that it seems to serve both Mexican food and crepes. Which, personally, I'm all for as we doesn't love a good burrito or crepe but it is also a tad of a strange combination. I ate here twice, once to eat the Mexican food and once to eat a crepe. I didn't purposely choose to eat the two on separate occasions but I was too stuffed the first time to fully appreciate the crepe so we returned for dinner to try them out. And of course, while you're travelling a crepe is a completely acceptable dinner. I had the snickers one which was amazing. It had peanut butter, chocolate and crushed biscuit in it and no crepe I've had since has quite lived up to this one. 

Klobasarna:

If you want to try something more traditional then head to Klobasarna for some Slovenian sausage. This ones definitely not for vegetarians. It's a very small cafe with a few seats inside and more outside. There are only a few things on the menu, all of which are centred around sausage. We decided to share some sausage which comes with a bread roll and mustard. I think it was around €4.50 which is not the cheapest but sharing saved us some money. It was also very filling, we just needed something to keep us full until our train to Lake Bled and this did the job.

Organic Garden: 

On the other end of the spectrum is the Organic Garden which is also a small cafe along the same street as Klobasarna. However, this one is definitely more veggie/ vegan friendly. In fact, most of the menu was vegan including the burgers. I think they also offer a fish version of the burger but we tried one of the vegan ones and it was really good! It came in a bright red bun which was a little off putting but it tasted amazing! Not that cheap but if you're looking for somewhere with good veggie options or fancy something a bit healthier then definitely give it a go.

Kavarna Rog: 

This restaurant is not in the old town centre but nearer the student area and a few minutes walk from our hostel. We ate here both mornings of our stay before heading into the main town area. I've included it incase anyone is staying in a similar area to us. It offers a decent breakfast and the coffee is good. The service was a bit slow but it was pretty busy both times we visited. There's a nice outside seating area to enjoy your food and people watch. 

Brunch, Ljubljana
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In Conclusion: 

  • Currency: Euros 
  • Make the most of the walking tours, they're free and very informative
  • Want some nightlife? Head to the Metelkova Mesto as the sunsets 
  • Take a day trip to Lake Bled! 

Have you visited Ljubljana, what did you think about the city?

Sophie 

11/03/2017

Arugam Bay | Sri Lanka

After exploring the wonderful Sri Lankan countryside we headed to our first beach destination, Arugam Bay. I was excited to explore a new part of Sri Lanka but was also very sad to be leaving the beautiful hills and scenic train journeys that I had become used to.


HOW TO GET THERE 

We got a private taxi there, it was pricier than getting the bus but I don't think there was a particularly simple route from Ella or it took a very long time so we decided to pay more and opt for a taxi. We did want to take a tuk tuk all the way there, obviously with a driver but there wasn't one available. We ended up at a random guest house waiting for our driver to get back to us and find us a car. I think they only told us there was no tuk tuk on the day of our travel because they wanted us to agree to a high price for a car. However, we stood our ground and refused to pay their price and eventually settled on a better one.


We arrived early afternoon. After spending three hours in a very tiny car it was nice to stretch out on a bed. We then headed to get food and went to the nearest restaurant which served stone baked pizzas. Although we did make Kate's boyfriend check out the other restaurant next door just in case it had better food on offer. It didn't. The pizza was actually really good. Just like one you' get in the UK. Sometime's I find pizza in Asia a bit strange, especially the cheese! But this one was good!



WHERE TO STAY 

I can't give an personal recommendation for this. The guest house I stayed in was nothing fancy. However, this guest house was not only basic but also, quite frankly, not very nice. The promised air con might as well of not existed, the accompanying fan was just as bad. The bathroom was constantly damp. I'm pretty good at dealing with bad accommodation. I was happy to have my own private room and just accepted the problems while I was there but I definitely wouldn't go back there or recommend it to anyone.








WHAT TO DO 

Relax on the beach 

We spent our first day relaxing on the beach. There's plenty of beach which means that while there are lots of other people you can find a nice quiet spot to relax and sunbathe in. You can even take a dip in the ocean. However, the sea here is rough! I found this out when I decided to pluck up the courage and get in the sea. This was the first time I'd been in the sea on my trip but the waves were so rough I ended up being thrown to shore and resembled a beached whale. It took me a good couple of minutes to escape the waves and stand up. Probably best to wait for the sea to be a bit calmer or stick to surfing! 


Have a night out 

We decided to see what the nightlife was like that evening. We found a bar right on the beach which was full, it was fun to have a night out, the first one in our month of travel. We didn't spend too long there but enough to see that the night life in Arugam Bay is pretty good. I guess the fact that there are so many travellers and tourists here helps. 


Hire a tuk tuk for the day 

Yes, you can rent your own tuk tuk. All you need is a driving license, passport and money! 

There are a few places where you can rent tuk tuks from along the main strip. You just need a driving license and money. I think they take the drivers passport until you return the tuk tuk. I guess this covers them and ensures you actually bring the tuk tuk back!

We went the evening before to reserve the tuk tuk. Remember to bring your passport with you the next day, we forgot and had to go back to the guest house. Kate's boyfriend was our designated driver. In all honesty if he wasn't there we probably wouldn't of hired the tuk tuk as neither Kate or I felt confident enough to drive it for the whole day.


Shop


The amount of shops in Arugam Bay definitely reflected the amount of travellers there. If you want clothes or beach wear then this is the place to stock up. Unfortunately, the prices of these things also reflects the fact that Arugam Bay is set up for tourists. I'm not saying things are as pricy as they'd be in the UK but they're definitely not as cheap as other places in Sri Lanka. The clothes are nice though! There what I imagine boutiques in Bali sell. Lots of cute dresses and bikinis. There's also plenty of souvenirs on offer. 


Go surfing

Arugam Bay is known for its surfing. If you want to surf this is the place to go. I think quite a few of the beaches in Sri Lanka are good for surfing but this is, from what I heard, one of the best. I personally don't surf and didn't try it out but there are a lot of surfers here. This is also reflected in the amount of surf shops. It's very easy to hire surfing gear for a reasonable price.

You can hire a tuk tuk or mini van to take you to other, nearby beaches, these are quieter and seemed to be preferred by surfers. The two we visited were Peanut Farm beach (strange name I know!) and Panama Beach. I say 'seem' as I'm not a surfer. We still visited some of these beaches and although I didn't surf it was nice to visit them and relax on a quieter beach. 









WHERE TO EAT 

Arugam Bay is very touristy meaning there's plenty of choice for places to eat. We tried out quite a few restaurants during our stay.














                    Sun and Surf: There was a nice atmosphere here, you can sit in a 'tree house' and have your dinner or sit in the actual restaurant. They also offer various yoga classes which you can get more information about from one of the many leaflets floating around. I didn't personally try the yoga classes out myself but they seemed to be popular. There was various food on the menu from Sri Lankan to steak and chips.

Gecko Restaurant: This was one of my favourites and we came to eat here twice. The food is nothing spectacular. They offer a English breakfast which was pretty good. My favourite thing about the restaurant was the games they had on each table. The food took quite a while to arrive but we passed the time by playing snakes and ladders.

Other options:


  • Cili restaurant
  • Arugam Bay Surf resort and restaurant
  • Bay Vista


FINAL THOUGHTS 

I wasn't expecting to like Arugam Bay as much as I did. I was expecting a tourist trap. And in a sense it is. There are plenty of travellers about but the whole place has such a chilled out atmosphere that you don't feel like your overcome with other travellers. Plus it's easy to escape any crowds by wandering a bit further a field or hiring a tuk tuk like we did! 

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Sophie 

08/03/2017

How I document my travels


While I'm all for enjoying the moment, especially when travelling or being on holiday, I also like remembering my experience. I like to think I have a good memory but I don't think memory, alone, is enough to remember our favourite travel memories so I choose to document these memories.

I document my memories in various ways. Firstly, the obvious: taking photographs. I usually post some of these on Facebook and then keep the rest on my laptop. However, recently I've started printing photos off. With so many online photo printing services it's pretty cheap and easy to get your holiday photos printed. Getting 300 photos printed in one go was a bit of a stress though! There's only so many times I can deal with the internet dying and half my photos not being uploaded! I tend to use Snapfish. There's also apps that let you have 50 free prints a month, all you have to pay for is the postage.

I've began to document my travel memories in various different ways so thought I'd write a post sharing how I document my travel memories!

TAKE A CAMERA AND PRINT OFF YOUR PHOTOS 

This I guess might be stating the obvious. However, before starting university I hardly ever got any photos I'd taken printed off. They usually ended up being transferred onto the laptop. I now print off my favourite photos from each trip. Some photos I print end up in a photo frame, most end up in a photo album and some are saved for my travel scrapbook.  I think it's great to be able to flick through the pages and look at the pictures rather than just looking at them on a laptop screen. 

You don't have to take a camera, phone cameras are fine for trips too. In fact, I only took my phone on my first backpacking trip as I didn't want to carry my big camera around. I've now purchased a more travel friendly sized camera and take that on my travels. I'm not a photo snob but I do found that photos I take on my camera are a lot better quality than my phone and so I end up with better photos from my trips.


KEEP A  JOURNAL 





I'd always loved the thought of keeping a journal whilst I was on the go travelling and finally decided to keep one when I went Interrailing. I have to admit I didn't end up finishing it on the trip and had to do so once I was back at home but it was fun to write the diary and stick in souvenirs whilst I sat on long distance buses!

TAKE YOUR POLAROID 

A bit hefty due to the awkward shape but a great way of documenting moments from your trips. I love the effect you get from a polaroid picture. Taking normal pictures is great but these, I feel, are a bit more personal.

I have an Instax mini and I'll most likely take it with me to SE Asia, although I'm still weighing it up (quite literally) because I may regret taking it when I have to carry it around. I take it with me on shorter trips such as my trip to New York, although I hadn't quite figured out how to get good polaroid pics outside but practise makes perfect and I haven't had a blank one in a while!





COLLECT SOUVENIRS


These don't necessarily have to be ones you buy, I do occasionally buy actual souvenirs and always get a postcard (more on that in the next section) but I also keep all of the tickets and leaflets from attractions etc. I ended up with a lot of stuff on my Interrail trip, I think because it was Europe there was more actual tickets for activities rather than in Asia where most tickets are just a piece of paper unless you're going to a well known sight.

SEND A POSTCARD HOME 

Some people like collecting magnets or key rings I always collect postcards. Firstly, they're easier to carry around and secondly I like to put them in scrapbooks. On my most recent trip around Europe I started not only buying postcards for my scrapbook but actually sending one home from each place. This meant I basically had a diary entry and a stamp from each place I visited. This was actually my mums idea and I'm going to continue doing it on my future trips. It does cost more because you're paying for a stamp but it was great to come home and re read all of them.


MAKE A TRAVEL SCRAPBOOK 



All of the leaflets, maps, tickets etc that I collect make their way into my scrapbook. Some things I just add to my memory box if I have too many things from one place or if anything is too big for the scrapbook. I also add pictures I've printed from my trip and polaroids into my scrapbook. My scrapbooks vary, I began by printing off pictures just on normal paper and sticking them in but now I've started putting actual photos in as I find they look better. I'm not the most creative person but I really enjoy making scrapbooks as I can put everything from the trip into it and a bit of writing about that particular place which makes it a bit more personal than a standard photo album.

STICK THEM ON THE WALL

I've had a noticeboard in my room for years. It used to just have random bits and bobs on but since getting home from university I've made it into a picture board with a collection of pictures from university and my travels. I also have a very boring dentist appointment on there but it's mostly a collection of memories. This hangs over my desk and always brings a smile to my face as there are so many good memories on the board. 







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How do you document you travels?

Sophie 

04/03/2017

Ultimate Guide to planning a trip to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka was never really on my travel bucket list. I didn't even think about visiting it until one of my university friends travelled there for a psychology placement. I looked at her pictures and thought to myself how amazing the country looked but then we went back to university and Sri Lanka just became another country I wanted to visit. Fast forward to April 2016 when my other university friend Kate, and I were planning our summer travels. We had initially planned to do a road trip through Australia but were becoming less keen on the idea. Partly because we didn't think a two person road trip would be that fun. This in turn led to us brain storming ideas, Kate was keen on South America but we were thinking about visiting Mexico on a separate trip so I said I would rather go somewhere in Asia. The trouble was Kate had done a lot of it.


01/03/2017

In a nutshell: February




Part of me wants to say that February has flown by, it is the shortest month of the year after all. But I've also felt like it was quite a slow month. I enjoyed writing my January in a nutshell post so I thought I'd continue writing these posts, however, I'm afraid this months is shorter as I really haven't been up to much! 

FEBRUARY GOALS 

I set myself three goals for February: Interact more, finish my TEFL course and read a book. I achieved one of these, the other two are still in progress. I've nearly finished my book but it got a bit slow and I need to be hooked by a book to get through it quickly! I have, however, finally finished my TEFL course. Once it's been approved I can start applying for jobs. I'm not planning on flying off to teach abroad straight away but it is something I want to do in the next year or so.

MARCH GOALS 

I'm not going to set myself any specific goals for March. This will be my last month in the UK before heading off to SE Asia for four months. This means I have a lot to sort out in March. I need to buy things for my trip, organise what to, plan and book certain things for the trip. So my goal is just to sort everything out. I'm going to make a list of everything, small or large that needs to be done or thought about before my trip and then start working on ticking them all off!




FEBRUARY ROUND UP

In all honesty, I can't say I've done very much this month. I'd like to write about all the exciting things I got up to but there aren't any. I guess that makes for quite a boring blog post but hey at least I'm being honest. I've made quite a lot of head way with planning my SE Asia trip this month and have booked up the accommodation for the first three weeks! Part of me didn't want to book much up before we went but I quite like knowing I have a set plan for the beginning of the trip as it's one less thing to worry about!

I've also started doing longer shifts at work this month to try and save a bit more money for my trip. However, I've also been spending money! But I've been strict and am only buying things for the trip. Ok, maybe I didn't need to order another bikini when I have three or the pretty jumpsuit but I can always send them back. Plus, I want to look nice, I mean I'll be a sweaty mess most of the time but at least I'll have nice clothes!

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So there you go my very short February in a Nutshell. What have you been up to this month?

Sophie 

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