Broke as f@&k and wanting adventure

I don’t know how many times my friends have asked me where I am off to next. I seem to be the type of person who always comes home but is never home for very long. I have this addiction, I can’t explain it other than euphoric. The rush of booking a flight, the excitement of counting down the days and packing your bags. Even if it is somewhere I have been before I get excited as if I am going on my first plane ride. The pre-flight butterflies never cease to amaze me. How after flying for 20 years I can still act as if I am 5 years old mesmerized by the increasing height at take off. Mind blown as to how we have advanced in technology to climb to 40 thousand feet for hours on end with no issues. I seem to have this occurring issue however, I manage to put myself and my parents in a financial bind whenever I leave. You could say I have a shopping addiction, however I like to call it ~fashun~. I love to collect things from the places I go, even if its clothes to me its a memory about a certain day and the adventure that came with it.

I’ve been a constant student since the ripe age of 5, taking half a year or a full year off once in those 18 years. For some reason I didn’t use that time to do my travelling, I decided to use my summer gaps instead. Some may say great idea! My parents on the other hand were slightly pissed off. Let me give you an idea as to how much “big trips” can cost you:

Africa: 

  • $3000 in flights
  • $4000 in travel stay
  • $1000 for food and if you want to do ONE safari trip not including any transportation you’d be looking closer to 1500 or 2000

Australia: 

Now I loved Australia, its one of my favourite places I’ve ever been, however they don’t seen to have regular coffee us people from North America have. This threw me off completely.  I love a good latté but theres nothing like waking up and making a pot of coffee and sitting in a coffee shop with a book or your laptop, and paying 2 dollars instead of 5.

  • $2000-3000 in flights
  • Depending where and how long you stay $5000 in hotels or hostels if you’re smart $2500
  • $3000 to live average and not party constantly and eat mediocre cheap food
  • $200 just in coffee money if you’re a cup to two cups a day drinker like me
  • $2500 just in funds to fly any where else or to rent a vehicle to drive the coast (its a lot bigger than a map portrays it)

Now this is a rough estimate of someone who enjoys drinking (I’m Irish Canadian beer is my thing) but the average drink at a bar will run you 12 dollars minimum. Not to mention cover at some places is outstandingly high (girls make sure you are looking damn fine). But when my friend and I flew from Tassie to Sydney, it was only a 3 hour flight but with travel deals it was still costing us roughly 600 with flights and hotel stays and alcohol. We definitely spent more than that (she’s Welsh, now that could lead to a great joke…a Canadian and a welsh walk into a bar…..the Canadian blacks out). Not to mention any of my fellow Lord of the Rings fans out there considering Hobbiton, hotels if you enjoy the high life like myself will run you 150-300 dollars a night, food is also expensive I was only there for 3 days and spent 100 on food, Hobbiton itself is roughly 200 for the tour and a meal and some drinks. The flight alone to New Zealand was 350 one way.

Now Europe on the other hand, you’re going to need $2000 alone in flights, hotels book MONTHS in advance especially if you want to be in downtown Paris. An entire Europe trip you’re looking at close to 10 grand, if you want to shop, eat, fly or take the train places, stay in luxurious hotels, and party like every English rock band. Lucky for us (sorry England) the Brexit has made our lives slightly easier on affording a solid trip to London. Having that dollar close to equal has dropped flights, as well made it MUCH more affordable to enjoy a trip over the pond.

While this all may seem like a f$#k ton of money, compare a trip to Cancun with your friends, or even a cruise. You usually have to pay drinks on a cruise, to get a good cabin with flights included you’re still looking at close to 4 thousand dollars maybe even more. I could be wrong, BUT if you save a little more, and condense your spending which I certainly need to learn how to do, then go on a big trip that you’re going to enjoy longer and have a killer instagram. For the week you’d be in the Caribbean you could be travelling across Europe for months.

Now thats not to say you can’t work and travel. When I was in Australia I was a nanny. I signed up to be apart of Aupair world, which was the best decision I ever made. I met a beautiful family with the most loving boys, the best part? You pay your flight and they give you food, shelter, sometimes transportation, as well pay you weekly or bi weekly. Numerous countries now do this as well. A few people I went to high school with have done this in Spain, Germany, China and all over. Some places where English is not their first language will pay for you to take language classes. So not only are you making money and having an amazing time meeting new people, you’re also learning another language. Most people who are in their early 20’s and have done this, have continued for years travelling this way. My welsh bestie who is currently in New Zealand, travelled all over Australia being a nanny and met the most amazing people, and is now being a nanny in New Zealand. If you want to travel on a budget this is your best option if you love kids. Some people even ask you to only nanny THEIR DOG. Now I’m a dog lover so this blew my mind. You’d still only need to pay for flights and have all of the comforts of home in a new country. There is time frames you can pick under a month up to 2 years. Whenever you have time off your host family is usually more than happy to show you around or you go out and meet people and do weekend trips with them.

If you’re a college student like I am and have this amazing passion for constantly seeing the world and meeting new cultures, I definitely recommend saving all of your pennies, doing your research and just going. Nothing holds us back from doing what we want, and if you want to see the world there really is no better time like the present. As the wise Drake once said, you only live once. You may as well do something you can look back and tell your kids that you have the most amazing time seeing every single country in the world. Your career will always be waiting (finish that damn education though guys, you don’t wanna have to go to school forever) do what makes YOU happy, not what others expect of you.

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Expect the unexpected

Imagine its 5:30 in the morning on a Sunday, you’ve barely had a coffee, make up is slapped on your face, basically cue zombie mode. You just spent a week away and know your flight time, gate number, and flight number. Now imagine you get to the little kiosk to check in and it doesn’t recognize your name and says you’re not registered to be on a flight that morning. If you’re like me basically every alarm in your head starts to go off as hell is slowly breaking loose. This happened to me a week ago in Chicago, Illinois. I knew I had booked my flight before my trip even begun and that I had gotten a notification from the airline about check in time so there HAD to be some form of mistake. WELL thank goodness they tell you to arrive at least 2 hours prior because it turns out they had transferred me over to another airline, in an entirely different section of the airport and I had to take the tram. Which mind you if I had arrived even 20 minutes later I would have missed my flight (not always horrible if you’re on an island destination).

*side note if you’re like me and travel constantly between Canada and the US GET A NEXUS PASS, its the greatest thing EVER.*

By the time I finished getting my boarding pass I go to hand in my suitcase so it can go to the plane, and lucky for me I got upgraded (FOR FREE) to business class. Don’t get me wrong I’ve done my fair share of flying first class since there’s nothing more comfortable especially on a long flight, however no one in their right mind wouldn’t be stoked for it for free. Before I had been upgraded I had realized I had the aisle seat, being the dreamer I am I am obsessed with getting the window seat so I was totally bummed. Now when this magical woman offered me business class AND to get a window seat my day was absolutely made.

Getting mad and huffing about puffing about having to change terminals in the morning would have gotten me absolutely no where as I came to realize. Why do we waste all of our time stressing about things we can not control? 99% of our problems are out of our hands yet we spend all of our time fixating on every little detail. Yes it is hard not to quickly get angry, because it was sunny and now its raining, but the best things in life come after a storm. If the gate change hadn’t of happened I would’ve never gotten the seat I wanted and have the most amazing conversation with the person beside me. I even found out his daughter goes to school in the same city I live in. Everything happens for a reason, sometimes it is hard to not let things get to you especially if you’re quick to show your emotions like I am. Now in the event of a flu or travellers illness, there are ways you can try and avoid that as well. Doing your research on the country you are going to even if it is a first world country can point you in the direction of which vaccines to get, or which medication to pack if you don’t believe in shots.

When you’re travelling you always have to be prepared for the worst possible situation. That doesn’t mean you need to worry it will happen, it just means you need to stay calm and look for plan B. Your gate can change at the last second and you find yourself running through the Chicago airport like a crazy person trying to get to the gate (happened to me numerous times). On the way back from Paris my father and I’s flight was late getting into London and as a result we missed our connecting flight home. We knew we could’ve made it if we ran fast enough to the gate however, since the airport is so large Heathrow staff refused to let us try. Now that was frustrating. But in the end it resulted with us having more time to relax, enjoy a dinner and just took a flight home that was a couple hours later. As well the airline lost our luggage but was fast enough to retrieve it within 2 days. If you’re a planner travelling is nearly impossible to be stress free for you. You need to have the mentality that you’re going to make the best out of any situation and not to panic. By going with the flow and not being afraid to ask someone for help you’ll come out of any situation, and sometimes you’re going to have the best things come out of it.

You may not be able to prevent bad situations from occurring, whether its travelling or day to day life, but you can always adjust the direction of where it is going.

The joys of culture shock

The actual definition of culture shock is:

“the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life or set of attitudes.”

Here is my definition:

“Where the f*ck am I, where is my starbucks? WHY CAN’T I FIND A NORMAL PLUG? WHERE ARE YOU TAKING ME!!”

These are all things I experienced at the ripe age of 18 in Nairobi Kenya. I decided to take some adventure into my life and experience Africa probably before I was ready. I decided to go live on a reserve, in the middle of nowhere, knowing absolutely nobody 2 hours north of Nairobi. Before I left I didn’t expect to have so many needles, however you have to have a vaccine for EVERYTHING. Yellow fever, typhoid, regular flu shot, rabies, the list goes on and on. You won’t be allowed back into Canada or even the US without that yellow fever vaccine. But what they inform to tell you is you can actually die from complications from the yellow fever vaccine. I found that out 2 years after coming home so luckily I’m not dead.

When I arrived in Kenya, it was 11 pm. From my understanding I had been told 2 people from the reserve were going to pick me up and take me to my camp site. Sounded good to me. However that is NOT what happened. Two men I didn’t know, nor did they speak english picked me up and brought me to random hotel and 1 am, where I had no cell service nor did anyone know I was going to be there. The showers did not work properly, nor was there any normal food. I was starving, cold, lost and scared to death. It may sound dramatic, but imagine being by yourself at 18, never travelling alone before other than to Houston Texas to visit your father. I was petrified. I got maybe an hour of sleep that night, when morning came I was more than happy to leave that place. However it was with the same men, not understanding I was going to a grocery store to buy my own groceries (for the first time in my life) and I had no idea where the reserve was that we were going to. The reserve was another 2 hour drive, when we got to the grocery store however, there had been terrorist attacks the week prior and we were searched very thoroughly to ensure we were not a threat. When I reached the reserve and unpacked my things, I came  to realize I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing, it was a relatively new program and the coordinator was not there for a week. By the time she had arrived I was lucky enough to have befriended the American family that was staying in the same place I was. Those first 3 nights were absolute hell. I felt incredibly lonely, scared, tired, and completely out of my element. It took me 3 weeks out of 4 to come to terms with what was happening. I left early because the stress and emotions took control of me. I lost so much weight from stress, I had an amazing time with the people I met but no travel site, book or any self help planner can prepare you for the effect culture shock brings.

You don’t have to go to a third world country in order to experience culture shock. It can be simply moving to a small, slower paced town from a city like Chicago. The only piece of advice I could ever give from experiencing that is be prepared. Know what you could experience, know the atmosphere, do so much research you feel you could give a 5 day speech on the country. Know the foods, some of the language, TRAVEL WITH SOMEBODY. And worst comes to worst, drink like you’ve never drank before.

I can’t tell you what to pack, what I can tell you is be prepared to be out of your element. Just because a place like Nairobi is known as a big city, does NOT mean it is going to be the metropolis you are used to. Do as much research as you can, learn the prices of everything, understand conversion, unlock your phone in advance to prepare to have a new phone plan because you will not get the first world service that you get in Canada or America.

Just don’t live with your head up your ass thinking everything is the same in every single country because that is the number one problem I have faced. Thinking the world is the same everywhere, no matter where I go I’ve had this expectation that life is all sunshine and f*cking rainbows. However it’s going to turn into a damn thunderstorm in 5 minutes if you aren’t prepared. God bless everything having a GPS and things are much different now even than 4 years ago when I went, just be aware that its not going to be about the instagram picture, and the playing with elephants and lions. I didn’t see either when I was there because each sanctuary is 500 EACH. That is for another post. Travelling is about the overall experience, learning and over coming new challenges, meeting new people, seeing new cultures (again another post) and overall growing as your own person. If I hadn’t gone through what I did I wouldn’t know how to be on my own and not to panic and jump to conclusions as quickly as I did then. It was beyond costly, but I would never regret it in my life because I would not know how to be out of my element and stay calm in the worst situations.

This trip does have a silver lining. I studied giraffes, counted African buffalo, caught a Raptor (bird of prey) with a wildlife biologist, and overall had an amazing time. But those stories are for another time because I am a negative nelly and prefer to give you the useful shit instead of brag about my life.

The realistic traveller

tazmania.jpg

It’s 6:30 pm on a Friday in Chicago, the city is becoming alive. As a 22 year old you’d think I’d be getting ready to go out and drink more than my body weight, however that isn’t exactly my life. I’m what we love to call an extroverted introvert. Any one who knows me knows I thoroughly enjoy my Netflix and wine nights because what person in their right mind doesn’t? Am I right ladies?

Now this blog isn’t about myself nor is it exactly just a regular travel blog. For starters I’m not an english major because I don’t exactly enjoy reading novels and writing extensive papers on William Shakespeare and his plays. So I apologize in advance to those who are going to edit the shit out of this, and say this girl needs to go back to school. Cause newsflash guys I’m still in school, broke as all hell, some how managing to deal with life as it comes while still have some fun.

Getting back on topic, my partner and I wanted to start this blog simply because we find there is one common denominator when it comes to travel blogs; they glorify travelling. Now don’t get us wrong, travelling is amazing but there are so many downsides that not everyone enjoys talking about. Simply because it can be extremely negative depending on where you are. In the about me you’ll find a little more about myself and eventually my best friend. To give you some basics, I’ve been on 5 of 7 continents, lived on a reserve in the heart of Kenya, nannied in Tasmania, travelled countries in Europe, been across Canada, adored the beaches of Columbia and the Caribbean as well been north south east and west of the United states. Am I saying I am an expert? no. What we are here for is to give our knowledge of the things we have experienced to hopefully help somebody else who may think travelling is completely glamorous when that is simply not the case.

Now if you aren’t bored of us yet feel free to keep reading, and if you are then that’s just too damn bad.