by Guest contributor | May 28, 2018 | Being a digital nomad and working abroad, Lifestyle, Travel blogger destinations, Traveller tales and interviews
Guest contributor Rebecca Brown is a traveller and a translator who publishes roughdraft.eu – she shares a little insight with us on what living and working abroad has taught her about life.
As someone who spends half of their time travelling and going on adventures, my life is surprisingly peaceful.
I’ve spent the last few years travelling more than I’d ever thought I’d get the chance, working as an interpreter and a translator in various countries and learning lessons that will last me for a lifetime.
Having spent most of my teen years and early twenties as a stressed, anxious person, I never even dreamed that this kind of wandering, busy adventure would give me such a fulfilling life.
Here’s what it all has made me learn.
Dreams are still important
When I was a teenager, my mom would often talk to me about the importance of education and getting the good old “steady office job.”
While her idea of steadiness was almost a nightmare for me, I wanted to please my mom and I managed to get some work right after getting my MA.
I now knew fluent Spanish and French, and it earned me a job in customer service. I longed for something else, but I tried to convince myself the idea was far too childish.
I pushed myself through several jobs that simply didn’t fit me, and stress became a part of my life.
From the moment I’d get up in the morning, to my last, exhausted thought before bed, I’d feel tense, strained, and unhappy.
The only work that I did enjoy was my freelancing, and the only thing that gave me some relief was my journal.
I’d write about the places I wanted to visit, things I’d want to do. I told myself that this was only a dream, a form of escapism, and that it didn’t mean much.
But that dream, however ridiculous it seemed even to me, gave me far more comfort than my steady office job.
It took me far too long to realise this, but as long as you’re willing to compromise and be flexible, even these seemingly ridiculous dreams and ideas are actually within reach.
Sometimes you need to push yourself to make a change
Stress changes a person. It turned me into someone grumpy and anti-social who complained all the time.
It wasn’t until I took a good, hard look at myself that I realized that I needed to stop pushing myself in this direction where I tried to please everyone, and ended up pleasing literally no one, especially not myself.
With my freelance translating, writing, and the large portfolio and connections I’ve made, the path became obvious to me – pack up my bags and accept all the job offers that I was afraid to accept before.
From human’s rights conventions and government work, to meetings and conferences, my job took me back and forth between several countries at a relentless pace. And you know what? I was never happier.
Being challenged will make you thrive
As soon as I started my new job, I knew that for the most part of the year I’d be living out of a suitcase.
I didn’t mind it, and while I became quite busy and always had a lot to do, I realised that being challenged is what made me actually work on myself and improve.
Sitting at home and being sad made me stagnate, it made me slow. Doing things that you love, however, will make you sharper, quicker, more eager to try new things.
One of the most transformative experiences I’ve ever had was when I decided to push myself to walk a part of the Camino de Santiago a year ago.
The Camino is a famed pilgrim’s path that has many starting points, and ends at the shrine of Saint James the apostle, in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.
I walked almost 500 miles on my journey, and I walked for an entire month from a little port town in France, all the way through Spain to reach my destination.
Does it sound crazy? I loved every moment of it. I brought my journal with me and I wrote in it every day. This time I didn’t have to imagine anything. I could see and feel and experience all of it.
Managing your time is key
I think that travelling can suit many careers, but to pull it off successfully, you really need to learn how to organize yourself well.
People think it’s impossible to keep everything in order when you’re abroad so often and aren’t quite sure where your job will take you, but I assure you, all you need is a good planner, organizational skills, and a good self-awareness about how much you can accomplish.
I know a lot of people with steady 9-to-5 jobs whose life is a lot more chaotic than someone’s who travels and knows that they need to keep their affairs in order.
Surprisingly, travelling for work meant I got more free time in my life than I ever had before. I simply stopped procrastinating and learned how to fill up the time I had with things I really wanted to do.
That’s how I got to walk the Camino de Santiago, and that’s how I use the time when I’m not booked for anything to travel even more.
People crave to be kind
One of the things we fear the most when going to a foreign country is the strange culture and the even stranger people who, we believe, are nothing like us.
From my experience, that’s anything but true.
Not only was I always welcomed everywhere, but people went out of their way to be kind and helpful to a stranger. Not everyone will be nice, no. But most people will be.
You will put things into perspective
When you travel, you get to meet so many new people and see so many different lives. Your problems become… different. Relative.
Your perspective on everything will change, and you’ll realise how meaningless it is to worry over small things, to be so constantly stressed and tense.
Having an open mind is essential for happiness
I did not agree with everyone I’ve met on my journeys. There are a lot of different cultures, a lot of different customs, and a lot of different mindsets than what I was used to. And when you’re sitting at home and complaining about people online, it’s easy to hate everyone that’s even a little different.
But when you see them, meet them, hear the reasoning behind their words, it opens you up. You embrace the diversity, you embrace the fact that we’re all so different and varied. It makes you happy.
Most of all, working abroad has taught me to relax and let things come my way.
Opportunities are all around you, but you need to open yourself up to them and take them. Being afraid of change won’t give you a better life, but taking that leap of faith usually will.
Feature image by Anete Lūsiņa, Unsplash.
by Sarah & Cooper | Jan 3, 2016 | Being a digital nomad and working abroad, Europe, Nomad life and house sitting, Travel blogger destinations, Travel guides, Traveller tales and interviews
…11 top tips on how to travel the world, and all you need to know about tech, travel and clean underwear on the road! Discover more with world-explorers, Ryan Morgan and Denyka Roberson
This past Christmas, Sarah and I decided to visit the coolest city on the Nordic block, Copenhagen. The Danish capital is a clean and dynamic metropolitan city infused with modern architecture, stunning palaces, narrow streets, canals and beautiful homes.
To make our Christmas experience in Copenhagen even more exciting and homely, we were joined by my young cousin, Ryan and his fiancée, Denyka, who for the better part of 11 months have been travelling the world, bouncing from one country to the next, across South East Asia, America, Canada, Europe and the UK.
The last time Sarah and I were experimenting on how to travel the world in a similar capacity, we didn’t have the luxury of staying in an Airbnb, or utilising the over-abundance of apps and devices available to locate economical accommodation and flights, compare currencies, and more importantly, make the overall organisation of travel less stressful.
Over a few festive drinks, (at an Airbnb, of course), we had a chat to Ryan and Denyka about all they had learned on the road, since packing up in Australia last January (2015).
Here’s the cream of what we learned from our pair of innovative, adventuring millennials.
How to travel the world – 11 top tips with Ryan Morgan and Denyka Roberson
The magic number of underwear to carry is 10! Yep, while this is an amusing piece of advice (which was passed onto them on Facebook by another world-explorer before they travelled), they’ve tried, tested and found it to be true. You can live in one pair of jeans for a week but this rule doesn’t apply to underwear, and this number keeps you going for a few days, even when it’s a challenge to get your washing done.
Over 90 per cent of their travels (and when friends have not been able to host), they’ve chosen to stay in an Airbnb – an accommodation brand name that, as travellers know well, has really come to the forefront of the industry over the past year or so. They say the quality, variety, location and price of accommodation Airbnb offers is incomparable. Two of their favourite Airbnb accommodations were in Iceland, and both offered experience as well as a roof over their heads.
One was an old van converted into a room with a double bed and a very warm heater. The scenery was exquisite, and they were positioned uniquely in front of snow-capped mountains with stunning views of the Icelandic wilderness. The other, a barn converted into comfortable accommodation set right in the middle of an Iceland horse farm. The host openly welcomed guests to feed and play with the beautiful animals, all included in the standard price of the listing.
Airbnb is based on trust and reviews. Guests and hosts are both reviewed by one another. Treat the host’s home with the utmost respect, leave it clean (like you hopefully would your own space) and communicate openly and honestly. A bad review could prevent you being invited to stay with an Airbnb in the future.
For booking the cheapest mode of transportation with the best rates they like Skyscanner, Google Flights and Rome 2 Rio.
Skyscanner – an airline comparison site featuring plenty of airlines around the world, some you probably have never heard of. Skyscanner brings them all together on one convenient space and allows you to compare based on the most important factor, price.
Google Flights – another airline comparison site with a very helpful, unique feature which allows you to view the prices of nearby cities of the region you are flying to. A slight variation in your journey can help you save hundreds, or maybe thousands of dollars off the cost of your next trip.
Rome2Rio – used to search for all types of transport; buses, trains, car rental and flights. Rome2Rio makes suggestions like flying from Dublin to Bristol then catching a bus to Cardiff which was three times cheaper than flying direct Dublin to Cardiff!
Communication and Technology
Before heading off on their grand adventure, Ryan and Denyka chose to arm themselves with two different top-end smartphones (Samsung Galaxy S5 and LG G3). They decided on this route so that, for example, they could get a better response in situations where one phone’s WiFi works and the other doesn’t; the cameras work in different ways in varying situations.
Also, sometimes one phone will attract a better SIM card deal around the world than the other, or provide technical compatibility that another device cannot. All in all, this choice has helped with cost-efficiency, security, communication and image/video capture.
Ryan and Denyka will not live (or travel!) without access to cloud storage. At around $10 a month, they have unlimited Dropbox storage to safely backup everything – documents, photos, video – to the cloud. Their advice is to plan for all of your belongings to be stolen e.g. passports, visas, personal documents and photos – that’s worst case scenario. If you’re fine to access it via any computer in the world, then your worries are greatly alleviated.
Don’t get complacent about password-protecting your devices and software. They’ve had personal experience at being surprised about what thieves can gather out of the smallest bit of information that can be garnered from anything from your text messages to emails and logins. If it has the ability to be secured, lock it up!
On the other side of this, Denyka and Ryan have found that it’s really easy to ping locations back to family using functions on apps like Google Hangouts, Viber and Whatsapp. This is a terrific idea, we think, because when you’re travelling around a country indefinitely and with no set plans, it’s important that someone at a home base has a good idea where you have been and where you are. This goes beyond just checking-in on Facebook!
Making friends on the road
Their top tip? Join a local pub crawl everywhere you go! This surprised me at first, but I realised it makes total sense, because mostly people joining in are fellow travellers and soon-to-be international friends. Also, don’t be afraid to go and talk to people when you are out, because let’s face it, most people are lovely once you get chatting. They have made a lot of friends joking about aeroplane legroom, suggesting ride-shares, and even asking locals on the streets for recommendations on what to do in their hometown.
It’s not just for business people! Start and maintain WhatsApp groups as you travel, and share photos with your new friends (but do this privately, out of courtesy).
Because Ryan and Denyka have cleverly stayed in touch on Whatsapp (and also Facebook), they’ve been invited to stay in exotic places around the globe. Their new friends love seeing them again, and are proud to showcase their homeland to this friendly pair of Aussies.
They have actually based travel destinations solely on catching up with new friends they have met on the road. One thing they are looking forward to most on returning home to Australia is having their international mates come and visit.
They reminded us to prioritise what you need, and organise important belongings into one bag; that is, toiletries, clothes for the day or week. Keep your most-needed belongings at the top. Also, they split their belongings so that if a bag was to go missing, they both still have some clothes and essentials to share. Pack light, you do not need to travel with five pairs of jeans.
Over the past year, the contents of their bags has completely changed – from singlets and shorts in South East Asia, to warm coats and jeans in Europe. Remember, it’s better to pack light than regretfully over-pack it. If you desperately need something in particular, never fear, if you can purchase it during your travels.
Staying in touch
Denyka and Ryan use Facebook to search for people who live in places they are planning to visit, and have found it to be a really easy way to find friends who are either there when they’re visiting, or friends who have just been and who can share travel tips.
After all this talk about tech, what are their must-have apps (aside from Airbnb, Whatsapp and Dropbox, as mentioned above) for on the road?
1. Google Maps – Ryan and Denyka use this app religiously as it provides detailed information about an area, as well as specific directions from one location to another. Important when trying to find an Airbnb in an unfamiliar city. Thankfully the app also offers aerial and street views of properties. How many arguments do you think this prevents!
2. Maps.Me – the offline equivalent of Google Maps. Although nowhere near as many features, it will still get you back to your accommodation in a pinch. Country maps are downloaded while on a WiFi connection, to be used later while offline.
3. XE Currency – allows comparison and conversion of currencies on-the-go. They found this helpful particularly when purchasing groceries, souvenirs and the odd beverage, and is critical when you’re sticking to a budget.
4. Uber – connects drivers with passengers directly, unlike hailing a taxi or booking through a centralised service. The pair find Uber to be significantly more economical than a taxi. Also, the app tells you how many cars are in your area, and the cheapest, fastest route to a destination.
5. Tripomatic – allows users to choose attractions they want to see and creates a day-by-day itinerary for any journey. Travel books are too heavy to carry, this app is the perfect replacement.
Sarah and I collected magnets of our favourite destinations around the world. Ryan and Denyka’s tradition is a little more physical – they take photos of themselves doing handstands in front of iconic landmarks and buildings!
If you’ve found this helpful, have a tip or story to share, please let us know in the comments below.
Read about our Christmas in Copenhagen here
by Guest contributor | Jan 1, 2015 | Day trips from London, Travel blogger destinations, United Kingdom
From Far from the Madding Crowd in Dorset to Frankenstein in Manchester, England staged one big, beautiful movie set in 2015, and crowds flocked to see where their favourites were shot.
VisitEngland’s Chief Executive, James Berresford said: “Our research shows that 40 per cent of tourists want to visit locations they’ve seen on the big and small screen [like Downton Abbey], so we know there is a huge appetite for ‘set-jetting’.”
VisitEngland teamed up with Creative England to select some of the biggest films to grace our screens in 2015, revealing to film buffs exactly where the action was shot…
INTO THE WOODS
The film adaptation of the eponymous Broadway musical Into the Woods features an all-star cast including Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick and Johnny Depp. Showing off a number of quintessentially English locations, the soon-to-be Disney hit was shot at Dover Castle in Kent, Waverley Abbey and Virginia Water in Surrey, the Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire, Hambleden Village and Hambleden Barn in Buckinghamshire. The film follows the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel-all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them.
This live-action feature is inspired by the classic fairytale Cinderella and brings to life the timeless images from Disney’s 1950 animated masterpiece. English locations including the grand bridge at Blenheim Palace, Black Park in Iver Heath and the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich all help to set the scene for this childhood favourite. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, the film stars Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden and Helena Bonham-Carter.
A LITTLE CHAOS
Starring Kate Winslet, Stanley Tucci and Alan Rickman. The story centres on a female landscape-gardener who is awarded the esteemed assignment to construct the grand gardens at Versailles, a gilt-edged position which thrusts her to the very centre of the court of King Louis XIV. But the 18th century French palace and grand houses were actually shot in England at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, the Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire and Cliveden House in Berkshire. Some of the cast stayed at the Grade I listed, luxury hotel and grand stately home, Cliveden House, during filming. With a garden central to the story, the production also needed some versatile outdoor space and found most of what they were looking for in Black Park, a country park next door to Pinewood Studios, which covers over 500 acres of woodland, heathland and grassland.
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
A new adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel, the film stars Carey Mulligan and Michael Sheen, with screen play by David Nicholls. Filmed predominantly in and around Hardy Country in Dorset; Mapperton House, Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Sherborne, Eype, Purse Caundle, West Bay, Beaminster and National Trust property Cogden Beach all play a part. Few authors have such strong associations with their local area as Thomas Hardy, and today you can explore two of the writer’s houses – his childhood home and Max Gate, the property Hardy designed himself and moved into with Emma after his marriage.National Trust property, Claydon House in Buckinghamshire, also features in the film, doubling up as Boldwood.
Based on Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel of the same name, the latest adaptation features an all-star cast. Daniel Radcliffe will star as hunchback Igor, whilst James McAvoy will portray Victor von Frankenstein. Filming locations included Manchester Town Hall, Chatham Historic Dockyard, the Old Royal Naval College, including King Charles Court, and the bank of the river Thames in Greenwich.
Have you ever set-jetted? Drop us a line in the comments to let us know where you’ve visited and what was filmed there. We’re keen to find this one being filmed in Scotland!…
More things to do in England
We’ve had a helpful piece shared with us via your-rv-lifestyle.com on 100 things to do in England – worth a browse if you’re heading over this way!
Images copyright to individual film distribution companies.
by Guest contributor | May 13, 2014 | Asia-Pacific, Travel blogger destinations
If you’re in the southern hemisphere and coming down with a case of the winter blues, forget rugging up in beanies and scarves and swap winter for Hong Kong’s summer. It’s the best season for a shopping spree, getting your toes sandy at one of the popular beaches, feasting at local food stalls and being dazzled by the city’s Hong Kong Summer Fun Festival.
Travel website Wotif.com has shared eight reasons with us to tempt you to pack for a second summer and explore the lively city of Hong Kong.
Summer in Hong Kong
1. Food so good you’ll be floating
Satisfy your appetite after a day of sightseeing and exploring with fine dining at one of the world’s largest floating restaurants, the Jumbo Kingdom. Overlooking the traditional junks and modern sky scrapers at Aberdeen Harbour, you can feast on authentic Cantonese cuisine and fresh seafood at the Dragon Court and Jumbo Chinese Restaurant.
Image courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board
2. Cheers to partying with the locals
Watch the Victoria Harbour come to life with masses of colour, the sound of beating drums and cheering at the International Dragon Boat Races. This ancient Chinese tradition is part of one of the world’s best parties, the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival, where travellers are entertained with live music and performances while cooling down with a cold beer at the San Miguel BeerFest from 6 – 8 June.
3. Hot summer sales
It’s the season for sales, so leave room in your suitcase or buy another one to fill up. With plenty of boutique shops and large shopping malls to explore, you’ll find everything from designer clothes and handbags to antiques and the latest high-tech gadgets marked down. Retail lovers should add Hong Kong’s largest mall, Harbour City, to their daily itinerary, as well as Times Square, Pacific Place, iSquare and The Landmark sprawled across the city.
4. Spectacularly ‘cruisy’
Watch the impressive Symphony of Lights display while cruising along Victoria Harbour on board the Aqua Luna junk boat with a glass of champagne in hand. Take a 7.30pm cruise to see the world’s largest permanent light and sound show which illuminates both sides of the harbour with laser beams sychronised to music and narration.
Image courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board
5. Sky high summer cocktails
Take your cocktail sipping to the next level at the highest bar in the world, Ozone. On the 118th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, step out of the lift into the trendy and modern surrounds and feel on top of the city with sweeping views. Cool down and finish the day with a Dragontini or one of the champagne cocktails on the innovative menu before taking in the city scenery out on the breezy, open roof terrace.
6. Buzzing after dark
You can easily spend hours haggling over clothes and handbags, finding trinkets and antiques and sampling local street food at the popular open air Temple Street Night Market in Kowloon. Take in the atmosphere and entertainment as you wander through hundreds of colourful and eclectic stalls stretching from Man Ming Lane in the north to Nanking St in the south.
Image courtesy of the Hong Kong Tourism Board
7. Life’s a beach
There are plenty of sandy beaches great for sun soaking or just cooling off in between shopping trips. A short bus ride from Central District will get you to Repulse Bay where you can stroll by the brightly coloured statues of the deities Kwun Yam and Tin Hau and the gardens that lead to the popular beach. For a laid back summer BBQ, head to Hung Shing Yeh Beach on Lamma Island or go windsurfing at Wave Bay Beach at the eastern end of Hong Kong Island.
Shutterstock image: Repulse Bay
8. Lounge around with rooftop views
Take your swimmers up to the 76th floor of the W Hong Kong hotel and plunge into one of the world’s highest rooftop pools. Glide through the water of the pool with a panorama view of the skyline, 211 meters above Victoria Harbour. The trendy outdoor setting featuring an artistic, mosaic wall is the ideal place to pass the hours by. Kick back and recline on a lounge chair while soaking up the sun with a refreshing cocktail from the pool bar.
We love Hong Kong! What’s your favourite Hong Kong experience? Let us know in the comments below.
by Sarah Blinco | Apr 23, 2014 | Being a digital nomad and working abroad, Expat living in London, Travel blogger destinations, Traveller tales and interviews
I’ve become a little preachy, I think. I noticed it yesterday when we caught up with a group of friends from the UK. They’re presently travelling around Australia and we got to talking about returning home. None of them want to. Can’t say I blame them because I totally know the feeling.
We discussed how there’s an expectation to return home at a certain age, or after a period abroad (6 months, 8 months, a year, maybe two). In a lot of ways, many travellers who find their niche or tribe in another part of the world live with a version of guilt that accompanies the fact that you’re not “at home”.
My friends are young with their whole lives ahead of them, so I encouraged them to keep going. If they’re living in the flow, gaining life experience and generally happier than they’ve ever been, why quit? Seriously, why?
Work options will always be there, as will your true friends and loving family. So, why? Because you’re “supposed to” go home, where everything is the same, except you? And what is “home”? The thing I notice a lot of people forget is that “home” is not where other people (family, friends) insist it is, nor is it necessarily where you were born.
I do believe home is where the heart is, and just as your heart can belong to another person, it can also indeed belong to a place for a bounty of reasons. A mere one of those reasons is because of travel experiences. Sometimes you just belong. It’s not for everyone, but it is for me and my lunch-mates yesterday agreed they feel the same.
A comment was made about how travel is so great, so fun – an endless adventure. “It’s cool because it’s not really the real world”.
Oh, but I disagree. For people living by choice on the road or abroad as an expat somewhere, this life – this endless adventure – IS the real world. Furthermore, this “real world” is made all the more achievable these days thanks to modern technology (and your good fortune if you have the right to work in a foreign country, of course). I circulate in a realm where I liaise with people all day every day – all ages and relationship statuses – who are successfully living and working wherever they like (digital nomads and gypsetters, as long as there is a WiFi connection) – they reside in the place (or sometimes places) they feel is home. Why? Because we can now!
For some, travel and being abroad entirely changes their life for the better. Sadly, a few think they need to give this up to fulfil an expectation that they “rejoin the real world” or get back to doing what they’re “meant” to be doing at 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50… It’s important to remember that what is the “real world” for some, isn’t the reality for others, and it needn’t be either (and this goes for whether we’re talking about travelling, living as an expat or anything at all).
I was inspired to the point of a little tear recently, when I read this piece by Laura Fortey, Learning to settle for more, on InSearchofaLifeLessOrdinary.com. Aside from appreciating why she loved living in Vancouver so much (it, along with London, is a place that really, truly has always felt like home to me), I was moved by her honesty regarding what happened to her when she returned to the place she thought she was “meant” to be, where old friends and family resided. She discusses her emotional dilemma, being that she thought she was doing what she was supposed to by societal standards, but the whole time it just felt wrong. She was meant to be elsewhere. It’s not an ego thing or a fantasy, because believe it or not, some people are meant to be elsewhere. Eventually Laura realised she was settling, and she took a leap of faith and followed her heart to the UK where she finally resolved that it is ok to “settle up”, that is, doing what she knew was right for her.
Laura’s story resonates with me, and I’m passionate about sharing the message that people should not settle.
Settle up, it’s ok! Do what’s in your heart, not what you’re apparently obliged to do. I love meeting happy, inspired people who are in the flow of life, whatever they’re doing with it – travelling, raising kids, creating cool things, managing businesses, helping people, volunteering, practising Yoga under a tree all day… It saddens me to meet others though, with so much potential who have either not been told, or haven’t learned, that to do things in order to make others happy or to meet external expectations associated with what you should be doing at a certain time or age is a recipe for unhappiness. No, it’s not always smooth sailing; there are barriers, challenges, hurt, suffering and lessons. Take them on, as long as they’re yours.
Never consider that something you’re passionate about isn’t the ‘real world’ and isn’t achievable. Just do it – surround yourself with the things you love and enjoy doing; teach yourself about these things – be engaged, informed and inspired.
That’s what our TLL team wishes to pass on.
Have a great week; feel free to comment, and sign up for our mailing list while you’re here too – we’re sending out lots of great content and freebies to VIPs on the list, but you won’t know about it unless you sign up (over on the right). Sarah x
PS Don’t you love our feature pic, shot by my dad? It’s my beautiful mum – she made friends in South America on wild and wonderful expat/backpacker adventures in the ’70s! #inspired