Planning

Exciting News!

Sorry I’ve been MIA this last couple months – I’ve been super busy!  I now have about 2 and a half weeks left in Madeira, and it has been amazing.  I’ve just found out where I’m being placed next summer…….Skiathos!  I am super excited!  Mamma Mia was filmed there as well (and I watched it just last week.  Fate?).  I want to go now!

View of old town, Skiathos

Top 20 European Destinations

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Out of all the continents, Europe is the one that I have travelled the most (living in Scotland helps!  What doesn’t help is the fact I have to take at least 2 planes to get anywhere…).  I’ve decided to make a list of my Top 20 European Destinations.  Some of these I’ve been to, some I’m desperate to visit but I hope you enjoy my list!

Just a head’s up, this list isn’t in order of how much I like the destinations, as they’re too amazing to put in order!

                                                                                                       20. Dubrovnik, Croatia                                                                            telegraph.co.uk

If you wanna pretend you’re in Game of Thrones (although, you’ll probably end up killed off like the rest of the characters…), then this is the destination for you!  Dubrovnik is a beautiful, old town, full of amazing history and museums.

Picture 02619. Saas-Fee, Switzerland

I need to go back here.  Saas-Fee is amazing for skiing.  Only electric cars are allowed in the town, which is full of cute buildings and amazing shops (and hot chocolate!)

                                                                                                                18. Monaco                                                                                              hotel-r.net

The world’s second smallest country (after the Vatican), Monaco is one of the glitziest places in the world and I badly want to visit it.  It’s very expensive, though!

                                                                                                          17. Barcelona, Spain                                                 timeout.com

I’m desperate to visit Barcelona and see the Sagrada Familia, get lost in the alleys, and enjoy everything Gaudi!

DSC_025216. Prague, Czech Republic

One of the most beautiful places I’ve visited, Prague is full of amazing architecture, history and everything is so cheap!  And you need to try a trdelnik – they’re so good!

                                                                                                      15. Amsterdam, Netherlands                                                           digital.fespa.com

Full of brilliant museums, Amsterdam is also famous for its biking, culture and history.

Edinburgh114. Edinburgh, Scotland

I lived here for 4 years, so Edinburgh will always have a special place in my heart.  Make sure you visit the many museums and the castle (and palace!).  And you must get lost in the small back streets! (The above photo is the street I lived on – isn’t it gorgeous?!)

                                                                                                       13. Budapest, Hungary                                                                            lvs.luxury

Budapest is probably up there for culture and architecture.  And I’ve heard it’s a good place to travel to if you’re on a budget.

DSC_073212. Verona, Italy

I love Verona.  It’s so small, cute, rustic and full of history – and it’s so easy to get away from the crowds as well!

                                                                                                     11. Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic                                               czechtourism.com

Another small, cute town, Cesky Krumlov reminds me of The Grand Budapest Hotel (one of my favourite films!)

                                                                                                             10. Athens, Greece                                                                   lonelyplanet.com

I love anything to do with Ancient Greece, so what better place than Athens?

                                                                                                             9. Lisbon, Portugal                                                           worldwanderista.com

Lisbon is up there as one of the places I’m probably going to visit soon (fingers crossed!).  This beautiful city is full of amazing culture, great food, and gorgeous, tiny streets.

                                                                                                                8. Colmar, France                                                              thousandwonders.net

Probably the cutest town in France – how can you resist all of those gorgeous, brightly coloured houses!  And they’re next to a river!  Can’t go wrong there 🙂

                                                                                                             7. Ronda, Spain                                                                    malagatogo.com

I badly want to visit this cliffside village – imagine the views!  And the history of the place is amazing.

Picture 0046. Paris, France

The romantic City of Lights, there’s so much to do in Paris – amazing nightlife, culture and food, to name a few!

                                                                                                          5. Dordogne Region, France                                                       leseyzies-tourist.info

So many castles!  I need to go here!

                                                                                                         4. Santorini, Greece                                                                                   foundtheworld.com

You’ll recognise the pictures – the gorgeous, white buildings with blue roofs.  I’ve also heard the sunsets are amazing.

DSC_00053. Venice, Italy

I love Venice.  It’s so unique and unlike anywhere I’ve ever been before.  It’s impossible to walk over a bridge and not take a photo of the canals.

                                                                                                            2. Seville, Spain                                telegraph.co.uk

As well as the history and the amazing architecture, Seville is also famous for tapas, flamenco and sangria.

DSC_00681. Cinque Terre, Italy

Five gorgeous, small towns by the coast.  Hike or catch the train between each town.  Be prepared, though – there’s not a flat area anywhere.  It’s all hills or stairs.

Top 10 Solo Female Travel Safety Tips

Solo Female Travel Tips

If you’re anything like me then, every time an article mentions something about solo female travel, you unconsciously click on it.  Even more so if it involves safety tips.  So, I’ve decided to make my own list of solo female safety tips from my experiences and share them with you! (Just a head’s up: the photos will probably have nothing to do with the tips as I’m not the most photogenic of people.  So I thought I’d spare you all of that and just have pretty pictures instead).

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10. Ooze Confidence

I found, the more I huddled into myself, the more likely I was to be approached by men who wanted to ‘cheer me up’.  Try and fake it – keep your back straight and your shoulders back.  If you happen to take a wrong turn somewhere and need to turn around but don’t want anyone to notice, you could pop into a shop, or do the whole ‘I’ve suddenly received a text and I’m needed in the direction I just came from’ routine.

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9. Buy a cross-body bag

Travelling by yourself as a woman, you are more likely to be a target.  Cross-body bags (with a zip!) are easier to keep an eye on and harder to snatch.  In crowded areas, I tended to keep a hand on my bag at all times.

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8. Trust your gut

If something feels wrong, it probably is.  This isn’t to say that it will always be wrong, but it’s better to be safe.  As I mentioned a few posts ago, when I was in Pisa I walked over a bridge and got a strange feeling.  Looking over my shoulder, I noticed a guy who had been sat at the end of the bridge (and asked if I ‘liked fucking’) had followed me and, as soon as he realised I’d noticed him he kept repeating ‘like fucking’ over and over and over.  I was almost at the point of heading into a shop to get rid of him but, for some reason, I stopped, stared at him, and the guy wandered off with a huge grin on his face and I never saw him again.

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7. Always let friends and family back home know your travel plans

Include your arrival times so, should anything happen to you (which, hopefully, nothing will!), someone will know something’s wrong.

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6. Dress appropriately

If the women around you aren’t wearing short shorts and low-cut tops, then you probably shouldn’t either (unless you want to attract unwanted attention).  Respect the cultures you’re visiting (and keep shoulders and knees covered when visiting churches!)

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5. Learn a few key phrases

Learning simple phrases such as ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘thank you’, ‘where is…’, ‘help’, and so on will help you so much,  The locals will also really appreciate it as well.

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4. Try and blend in

That man with the khaki shorts, knee-high white socks and sandals combo and the baseball cap is very obviously American.  Don’t be that man.  Do some research on the place you’re visiting beforehand and try and blend in as much as possible.  Also, it goes without saying, don’t flash all of your valuables.  Don’t wear the expensive watch, maybe have an older, worn-looking handbag instead of your brand-new designer one.  This stops you from standing out in a bad way.

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3. Don’t go out by yourself at night

Sort of goes without saying but try and avoid being by yourself when it’s dark, and especially avoid that dodgy-looking alley.

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2. Don’t get so drunk that you’re paralytic

This is kinda linked to the ‘not going out by yourself at night’ thing.  You’re abroad by yourself – don’t drink to pass out.

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1. Budget some extra money

Make sure you’ve got some extra money for emergency situations, such as, if you’re miles away from you’re accommodation and it’s dark, don’t chance walking through the dark streets alone – fork out and get a taxi.

Top 10 Solo Travel Tips

Solo Travel Tips

Travelling by yourself is so much different than travelling with someone but it is so rewarding.  I would recommend it to anyone – in my opinion, everyone has to travel solo at some point in their lives.  Check out my top 10 solo travel tips!

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10. Travelling solo makes planning easier

You don’t have to constantly keep in contact with travel companions whilst you choose when and where to go.

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9. You don’t have to worry about annoying people

I like to wander around museums (I could spend all day in a museum.  I’m not even kidding).  This could, potentially, get annoying for someone travelling with me.

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8. It’s easier to interact with locals

I’m naturally quite shy and introverted, and travelling solo made me interact with people.  Waiters and museum staff, etc, are all more likely to have conversations with you if you’re travelling alone – and it was an excellent way for me to practice my Italian!

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7. It will boost your confidence

Trust me on this.  As I mentioned above, I’m super shy, but travelling alone really helped to boost my confidence.  By the time I was away to head home, I found that, more often than not, I was the one to start conversations with people, rather than waiting for them to speak to me.

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6. You can do what you want

If one of your regular travel partners is a night-owl while you’re an early-bird, travelling alone means that you don’t have to compromise – you can do what you want!

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5. You’ll get to know yourself better

Travelling alone, you’ll figure out exactly what you like and what you like to avoid, as well as learning new things about yourself.

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4. You don’t have to wait for anyone

If you’re constantly waiting for all of your friends to have time/money/whatever to travel, then you’re never going to go anywhere.

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3. The experience is like none other

This doesn’t even need a caption.  Just trust me – you need to travel alone at some point in your life.

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2. It can teach you a lot about other cultures

The first couple of times I went to Italy, I was with someone and wasn’t bothered by anyone.  The moment I show up alone?  The guys are all interested (although, my newly-blonde hair may have helped).  It’s a normal thing for guys in Italy to call you ‘bella’ as you walk by them in the street, or to flirt with you if you’re stood outside a restaurant.  I am not used to this at all and, at first, it was daunting.  But, when I realised that this was just a thing that guys do in Italy and they mean no harm by it, I found that it would brighten up my day a bit more (especially on travel days when I was wearing hardly any make-up, my hair was a mess, and I had on my comfiest clothes and my huge backpack.  Having a guy compliment you when you look like crap feels amazing!)

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1. It’s not as scary as you think

Seriously, the moment I stepped on the plan on my way to Rome, the nerves kicked in.  I was travelling alone!  I wasn’t going to have anyone to do the talking for me!  I was going to have to do everything myself!  But, as soon as I landed in Rome and saw the sun, the fear just…disappeared.  Which, I know, this probably doesn’t happen for everyone, but it was so worth travelling solo.

My Packing List

First off, I need to apologise in advance to all of you seasoned travellers out there.  I’m doing my first ever packing list and I can predict that a lot of you will end up rolling your eyes.  But, hey – we’ve all got to start somewhere!

For my first trip abroad alone, I’m going to be starting in Rome and making my way, via train, to Venice, making multiple stops along the way 🙂

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(Cat for scale)

I guess the first thing I want to show you guys is the bag I’m planning on taking.  The Osprey Porter 46 looks perfect – it’s carry-on size, opens at the front to make packing and rooting through it easier, plus the zips have hooks for padlocks.  What’s not to love?  The only thing I’m worrying about is the 8kg carry on limit…  But I’m hoping I’ll manage!

So, what am I planning on taking?  (I’ve not taken photos of everything that’s coming with me because I have either (a) forgotten to take photos of them, or (b) decided that I don’t want photos of personal stuff – like my underwear – on the internet 😀 )  Also, excuse the blurriness – I was trying to keep my cats occupied so that they didn’t sit all over everything…

Clothes

Clothes:

  • Two pairs of shoes – I’ll be wearing my converse but my black flats will be packed away
  • Six dresses – I think this is where a lot of people will roll their eyes. I’m not really a trousers person and, thankfully, my dresses are lightweight enough that they won’t take up much room!  One of the dresses won’t be packed, as I will be wearing it
  • Two pairs of leggings – I’ll be wearing one pair and the other pair will be packed away
  • Two short cardigans
  • Hoodie – Again, I’ll be wearing this, so it’ll take up no room in my luggage
  • Lightweight coat – I haven’t decided if I’m gonna pack this or wear it, as it’s so lightweight. I guess it’ll come down to how much my pack weighs
  • Scarf
  • Underwear (obviously!)
  • Pyjamas

Toiletries

Toiletries and medication:

  • Toothbrush (obviously!)
  • Toothpaste
  • Travel sized shampoo, conditioner and bodywash – I’m only gonna take one of each and buy more when I’m there – but I’d rather not arrive without any hair products (I sound like such a girl…)
  • Travel sized face wash and moisturiser – I’m hoping these will last the entire two weeks. If not, I can easy buy more
  • Face wipes – because I can’t go anywhere without them
  • Deodorant
  • Blister Plasters
  • Makeup (in the bag with my toothbrush.  I’ll probably have to move this to a clear bag for going through security at the airport…)
  • Contact Lenses
  • Hayfever tablets – my hayfever is bad. Like, seriously bad.  It’s so bad that I have to get extra strong tablets on prescription.  It’s not fun… (Not pictured, as I forgot)

Gadgets

Gadgets:

  • Phone (not pictured as I’m using it to take the photo)
  • Kindle (I can’t go anywhere without it)
  • Camera
  • iPad
  • Various chargers and adapters

Misc

Miscellaneous:

  • Passport (I probably don’t need to write this, as it’s pretty obvious)
  • Various paperwork relating to flights, hotels, etc
  • My notebook/journal
  • Italian phrasebook
  • Hankies (can’t go anywhere without these!)
  • Hairbrush
  • Purse
  • Sunglasses
  • Umbrella (not pictured as I’m still trying to hunt it down!)

All packed! (But I’m probably gonna change things about to try and reduce the weight a bit – just over the 8kg for the airline!!)