Thursday, 14 June 2018

Reflection: Travelling round-the-world 2018

As my time draws to an end, I am filled with a conflicting sense of sadness and overwhelming excitement. I have undoubtedly had some phenomenal adventures on this trip - this reminds me, since I didn't blog, I'd like to write down the key highlights to come my mind:
  • Hiked Mount Batur volcano (Indonesia), through strong winds on a loop near Mount Cook (NZ), to a beautiful view of Lake Wanaka up Mount Iron (NZ), to a lookout point over Honolulu (Louis Ridge Trail, Ohau, Hawaii) and up to the caves at Pinnacles National Park (California) -- to name a view.
  • Paddle-boarded in Gili T.
  • Learned to surf in Kuta, Bali.
  • Scuba-dived in the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkelled in Hanauma Bay, Hawaii. 
  • Saw wild seals, sea lions, dolphins, and whales as well as rattlesnakes, deer, and kangaroos in all kinds of varying climates.
  • Made incredible friends (shout-out to Andrew, Amaia, and Aaron) and watched some of the most amazing sunsets and sunrises I'll ever see in my life while touring around the South Island of New Zealand. 
  • Hitchhiked all around the North Island of New Zealand and met a whole range of people thus rediscovering how fantastic humans are.
  • Swam and stared in awe in waterfalls in Ubud, Cairns, Hawaii, and all over New Zealand. In fact, got completely soaked by one accidentally while on a boat through the Milford Sound fjord on the South Island.
  • Spent a wonderful time with my younger sister wine-tasting in Yarra Valley, cruising the ocean for 3 days, road-tripping to the Twelve Apostles, and hiking through the Grampians National Park (while narrowly avoiding being killed by a kangaroo during a 6am morning wee). 
  • Enjoyed drinks with old friends and my first ever travel buddy (Olivia) while visiting her in Brisbane. 
  • Road-tripped with my parents for the first time in years around the USA - visited the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Sequoia National Park, Yosemite, and all the way up to Sacramento to see my great-aunt and learn about our family's history.
  • Drove on the wrong side of the road for the first time (oh and nearly killed us 3 times) while touring down the Pacific Coast Highway with Matt Carabine, an old school friend from my computing class. On route visited Silicon Valley, San José, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, and LA (to name a few places!).
  • Enjoyed my first ever couchcrash experience in San Francisco where I got to meet couchsurfers from all over the world and go to CS HQ!
I am sad that all of these memories will continue to fade in my mind and that I have to return to 'normality' but I find solace in knowing that it isn't for long as I'm due off again in one month's time. I am also, however, happy to be reunited with my family once more, to enjoy my nephew giggling, bickering with my sister, helping my mother, and arguing politics with my father. I am also pleased to be reunited with old friends and, of course, with my wonderful boyfriend who has dealt with me ignoring him at my will and using him when I need some light in the darkness. I am also happy and so grateful that I have this opportunity at all. I will certainly acknowledge my privilege in undertaking this adventure -- as a white, 23-year-old, currently blonde female I have so much more offered to me and more respect than I deserve.

While it’s somewhat softened by the fact I know I’ll be away again soon, it’s hard to leave behind such a fantastic time. I’m dreading returning to questions of what I’m doing with my life when all I want to do is continue to see the world and explore new places. I can’t see what’s so wrong with that. I also want every profession ever so am having a hard time working out what career to 'commit' to. We'll see how things go over the next few months I suppose!

Anyway, thank you to everybody that came on this trip with me and shared in my adventures.
Until next time


Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Budgeting for 2 weeks in Bali

Are you taking a trip to Bali soon? Are you wondering how much you will need for a two-week vacation? Well, that is perfect timing then because I have got the low down right here! Prices are accurate as of February 2018.

- 450k surf lesson with Pro Surf Bali.
- 400k Mount Batur, coffee plantation, rice terrace, Balinese massage with Puji Hostels
- 40k each paddle board rental for 1 hour
- 30k waterfall entrances 
= 920k (£48)

- £51 for 4 nights Airbnb/ Canggu (private room)
- 100k p/n * 3 for Ubud/ Puji Hostel (8 bed dorm)
-150k p/n * 2 for Gili T/ My Mates Place (3 bed dorm)
- 96k p/n * 3 for Kuta/ Kayun Hostel (8 bed dorm)
= £51 + 888k (£46) = £97

- £10 black Billabong bikini
- £7 glasses
- £2 Sarong
- £15 green Billabong bikini set
- £10 Billabong top
= £44

- 225k to Canggu (airport taxi)
- 35k Canggu to Ubud (split between 4 on Grab)
- 500k return to Gili Islands including transfers from ubud and back to Kuta
- 60k from kuta to airport (uber)
-55k bike rental per day * 4 Canggu, 1 Ubud, 2 Kuta = 7 days (385k)
= 1205k (£63).

Overall accommodation, activities, shopping, transport: £252.
Other/ mostly food + drink: £190. 

= £442.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Budget for 20 days on New Zealand's South Island: Route, Car Rental & Accommodation

·      $0: Couchsurfed in Christchurch, Kaipoura, & Nelson
·      $0: Carpark for non-contained vehicles near Lake Rotori
·      $18 pppn: Punakaiki Campsite
·      $32 pppn: Glowworm Hostel in Franz Josef
·      $36 pppn: Base Hostel in Wanaka 
·      $25 pppn based on 4 sharing: Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park
·      $24 pppn based on 4 sharing: (x 2 nights): Te Anau Kiwi Holiday Park
·      $30 pppn: (x 5 nights): Nomads Hostel in Queenstown
·      $0: Carpark near Lake Ohau
·      $28 pppn based on 3 sharing: High Country Lodge and Backpackers Motel in Twizel 
·      $7 pppn: Carpark in Mount Summers
·      $34 pppn (x 2 nights): Urbanz Accommodation in Christchurch
= $388 (£200) for 20 nights accommodation on the South Island.

Note, to rent a car if you choose not to take the full insurance policy offered by Jucy you will need a credit card as they will hold $2,000 for a car, or $3,000 for a campervan. The insurance they offer you is insanely expensive ($25 per day) so it's best to find an online insurance company to cover the excess for you should you get into an accident. I used the website: but fortunately I didn't have to claim so I have no idea how 'good' they are.

First rental
·      $252 (£130) Car Rental for 9 nights/ 10 days from Christchurch to Queenstown. Free upgrade from their cheapest model to the compact model as they had run out of their cheap option. 
·      $52 (£27) insurance.
·      $365 (£189) on fuel - note, drove 2,600 kms (1,600 miles)
·      = $669 (£345) for 10 days of car rental via Jucy on the South Island.
o   But, I split some of these costs with another person, then when another 2 joined us we split fuel with them too so I ended up personally spending $365 (£180). 
§  Note to self: $185 of the fuel was shared with just Aimia ($92.50 each), then $180 was shared between four of us ($45 each), and $17.50 was spent just by me as I had to drive to see if I could find my purse.

Note, spent 4 days in Queenstown just enjoying it without a car then...

Second rental
·      $144 (£74) Car Rental for 5 nights/ 6 days from Queenstown to Christchurch.
·      $35 (£18) deluxe insurance.
·      $142 (£74) on fuel - forgot to note kms.
·      = $321 (£165) for 6 days of car rental via Jucy on the South Island.
o   But, I split some of these costs with 2 others so I ended up personally spending $107 (£56).

I worked out I spent roughly £385 in 10 days, that includes most of the first car rental (£135), accommodation for the first 10 days (£82 worth), £12 Milford sound, £18 sleeping bag and coat, £22 on alcohol (2 bottles of cider at $10 each and a 3L box of wine at $24), and £116 on other items (mainly food).


Monday, 1 January 2018

2017 Year-in-review + Plans for 2018!

So in this past year, I graduated from the University of my dreams and fell straight into unemployment. Well, actually, I have been employed - many, many times. I have done every type of work possible! But nothing others would consider 'normal' or 'conventional'. I cast asides my hopes of corporate law and have decided to lead an unconventional life for now. 

When it comes to online work I have been paid to comment on tech-related articles, conducted research for the Canadian History Channel, produced a preface for an archival series on historic steamboats, proofread countless books and articles, written content guides to several counties around the UK, and written a powerpoint for an Iraqi card company to present to the British and Iraqi government to gain the business of the Kurdistan government. I mean... that's just a small sample of the random work I have been doing.

I have also completed a load of promo work - I spent a month working for Volvo as a Welcome host, handed out champagne at the opening of a sofa store in Norwich, worked for Xbox at the EGX games show, directed people around a track at a biking competition, and stood in Tescos getting customers to try Maybelline products. 

In terms of travelling, over Easter I spent time in Denmark, Barbados, and the USA (Boston, Providence, Newport, D.C.). In the summer I then travelled to the Middle East and spent a month in Isreal, Palestine, and Jordan.   

USA, Denmark + Barbados.

Jordan, Israel + Palestine.

So what am I doing now? Naturally, I am doing what every person in my situation would do... right? And I have booked myself on a trip around-the-world. I have found a job that allows me to work remotely. I can write as many articles as I want every week which is handy. So, if I need more money on the road I can just work more to afford whatever I would like to do that week. They are all history-related too so I feel at least I'm doing something with my degree! 

Anyway - where am I going? Check out the interactive map below. To be honest I would have loved to go to some really rogue places but I also wanted to visit my sister in Australia. I have therefore settled on a more conventional trip. I am going to spend some time in Bali making money and enjoying the cheap cost-of-living before heading to Australia. I will then travel all down the east coast before spending a few weeks with my sister in Melbourne. After this, I am going to spend one month in New Zealand before flying to Hawaii. My parents are doing the second-half of Route 66 so I only have 2-3 weeks in Hawaii before flying to the mainland. I'm not sure what I'm going to do after that, but I plan on being away for about eight months. 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

"I fainted in a burger shop after an overdose": 3 times I ended up in hospital abroad

Warning: Disgusting details and vomit-inducing stories ahead!

So, it turns out I have a habit of getting ill in the least convenient places in the world. Why? Well, read on to find out:

1. Yangon, Burma (2014).
Ah Burma: at the time it was possibly one of the most beautiful and friendly countries I had ever been to. But, with that said, it is not the type of place you want to have to end up taking a trip to the hospital. While the treatment is likely to be cheap, it will not necessarily be the best. 

So what happened? Well, I believe I was bitten by a spider (or spiders) in the Philippines, then every mosquito bite I got after that somehow got severely infected! I had about 10 of them over my body, and every time I accidentally knocked them against anything, the bites exploded and pus just went everywhere. It felt like they were never going to stop spreading and I was in a constant state of agony. 

After some internal debate on what was the best move, I was fortunate enough to track down an international private clinic. Here, I was treated by two doctors and a nurse, and it only cost £40 for the consultation, cleaning, dressing, and two swabs to be sent off and analysed. I was told not to leave Yangon for three days before my results came, but I had only gone to Burma to see Bagan, so I cut my trip there short and made it back in time for the results and medication. 

The worst part is that I had delayed my flight back to the UK for two weeks because I wanted to learn to dive in Koh Tao, but after developing this infection I was told not to go in water for one month - my hopes of diving were over! Thankfully, I ended up in Thailand back in the summer of 2016 and squeezed it in then, but it was very upsetting at the time (first world problems). I also still have the scars on my legs today. (Before and after pictured below).

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Why do I travel?

Greetings fellow traveller!

My name is Scarlett, or at least I pretend it is, and I'm 23 years old. So why Scarlett I hear you ask? Here's a fun story for you - my mum was going to call me Scarlett, but I was born in an ambulance so they called me Amber. My father joked my middle name should be lance... but thankfully mum put her foot down!

Anyway, I digress! My parents always enjoyed taking us travelling as children - instead of stops at resorts in Miami, with four children to cater for, we went on long-distance camping trips all over Europe in a van we dubbed 'the mystery machine' (for its similarities to the one used in Scooby-Doo)! Further, at 11 years old, my parents picked up my life and moved our family over to Canada. After a hard year, we decided to return home. My eldest sister fell in love and stayed out there, she still lives there today with two children and a husband, so I always have an excuse to visit. But on the whole, my parents are a large part of why I love exploring the world so much, and hearing about my mother's stories from her youth inspired me to do the same.

But why did I decide to continue travelling without them? Well,  aged 17, I picked up my best friend Olivia on the morning of our exam results and we stopped at McDonald's to calm our nerves. In our glass half empty approach to life that morning, we discussed what we would do if we failed. We jointly concluded we would just get up and leave, escape the stress, and travel around Southeast Asia. At that moment in time it felt like such an odd concept, we did not have any friends that had been travelling, and it felt like we would be the only people in the world that had gone to Southeast Asia at such a young age. Of course, this was entirely naive in hindsight, but we definitely were the youngest people in every group we met, hence the blog name "Never Too Young To Travel".

But that's skipping ahead... anyway, needless to say, we both passed our AS level exams with flying colours, but the fun thoughts we had of chilling on a Thai beach and riding motorbikes through Vietnam lingered in the back of our minds. That is, until we realised this didn't have to be a pipe dream, with hard work we could do this.