Why Chiang Mai, Thailand is a good city to save money whilst backpacking

Travelling can be exhausting if you’re constantly on the move. I didn’t fall in love with Chiang Mai, but I found myself tired and wanted to find a place that was cheap and a relatively fun place to be if you need to rest and most of all save your funds.

There are so many affordable hostels around Chiang Mai, it actually has a big population of expats. So it is very touristy friendly. When I was in Chiang Mai I budgeted myself to spend 200 baht a day including my accommodation, so 100 baht on food and it was completely doable.

Food

Food is very good and very cheap. Street food especially, as well as the markets. You can eat for 35 to 40 baht for a soup or a pad thai.

Accommodation

Dorms are only 100 baht a night, my favourite place was 18 Terrace Guest House which is in the old town. They are located by the markets so eating out there was very cheap. You could also get single rooms for 200 baht a night.

Activities

Walking around and exploring the city can be really nice as well. If you can ride a scooter, you can scoot up to the mountains, the waterfalls or the canyon. It’s a very active city, so people are running, jogging, doing yoga and hanging out at the parks. There is always something on. You can even cycle around the city. It’s also a great place if you miss western culture as there are many western restaurants. 

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Natural Beauty Hacks for the Lazy Traveller

If you’re like me and barely like to wear make-up or take anything beauty-like with you travelling then you’ve come to the right page.

It’s hard keeping up maintenance when you’re travelling, so I’ve thrown in a few handy beauty hacks that you can use and bring with you travelling whilst still keeping your backpack light weight.

Natural body deodorant

Sometimes body odour occurs, and if you’re a proper traveller who is living in a van and can’t even find a shower for the day, then a natural body deodorant is for you. I use one from Erica Brooke 100% natural skincare and it literally is a life-saver. I got it as a christmas present and I will never go back to the old stuff. It will make you look and smell fresh, and the best thing is the tub is portable and lasts up to 6 months. 

Coconut oil

This is the only thing that you need travelling. Why? Because it is so versatile. Coconut oil is good for you skin and for your hair. Use it as a moisturiser for your body and your face. I leave coconut oil on my face overnight and it does wonders to my face in the morning.

You can also use it for hair treatment for those beach holidays. Just rub it on the tips of your hair and leave it overnight. Put a towel on your pillow if you’re worried it will end up all over your pillow. Another bonus is you can also use it for cooking.

Tweezers

This one is for maintaining you hair. You know what I am talking about, whether it’s for your eyebrows or your armpits, and if you have the time – your legs. I never pack a shaver anymore, just my tweezers.

Shampoo bar

Carrying shampoo and conditioner in your bag can take up a lot of space. This shampoo bar from Lush is all natural and will help strengthen and condition your hair whilst all being compact!

5 Reasons you should visit Fraser Island

Fraser Island is the largest island of sand and one of the most majestical place I think I have ever been to. It’s home to the adventurous campers and an ecotourism destination, with stunning beaches and swimming holes at Lake McKenzie, Lake Wabby and other freshwater pools. It’s no wonder that it attracts backpackers across the globe.

For those who are on a budget, my secret to visiting the island is to look for rideshares online. People with 4WD’s will offer spare seats, alternatively get cosy with a local. I managed to get a great deal $120 for 3 days and 2 nights.

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1. Swim in freshwater lakes

Fraser Island has some beautiful freshwater lakes. No longer will you have to worry about your eyes stinging from salt water. The water is crystal clear, so much so that you can open your eyes and you’re able to see everything. Make sure you get your floaties and float down Eli Creek.

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2. Get back in touch with nature

There is nothing more beautiful than immersing yourself in nature, you can enjoy the fresh air and the views of marvellous pine trees. Just be careful of leeches! If you’re lucky you can see a dingoes. You’ll also be able to spot some turtles as well. 

3. Camp in serenity

There are several camp sites in Fraser, one day you can camp by the beach and the next day you can camp in the rainforest. The island is your oyster!

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4. Go sand boarding

There are massive dunes in Fraser, if you have a boogie board then make sure you go sand boarding on one of them.

5. Swim in Champagne pools

Champagne pools are a natural jacuzzi formed by waves crashing into rock pools. While it does attract many it is definitely worth it.

How to get to the Fairy Pools in Noosa National Park, Queensland

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Photo credit: Karla Morales

Walking through the Noosa National Park is beautiful enough, but once you realise you can actually hike a mere 30-40 minutes and go for a swim in the Fairy Pool then you won’t know what hit you. The Fairy pools are so beautiful that it feels like a little utopia of the under water world. If you go to the bigger one you can even see fishes!

What is it?

The Fairy pools are basically a natural rock pool. When you first walk down the rocks you will see the very first one which is smaller but oh so cute. If you look up to your right you can climb into another one which is heaps bigger and deeper. If you can bring your snorkel gear do it because you can see some beautiful coral and some big fishes in there!

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How to get there

The Noosa National Park is just off Hastings Street in Noosa and the walk on the track itself is only 30-40 minutes. If you’re driving park near Little Cove Court. Keep walking until you hit Picnic Cove and you’ll then see a sign that says ‘Warning, unfenced cliff edges.’ I know it sounds terrible but this is where you will start to walk down and see the fairy pools. Be careful as the rocks are not very sturdy so safely scramble your way down.

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When to go?

Make sure it’s a nice sunny day and it’s low tide. If it’s raining it could get a little bit slippery and dangerous going down the rocks so be careful.

What to bring?

Bring your snorkels or some goggles, sunscreen, a towel and some snacks. Of course don’t forget to take your camera!

Visit the Noosa website for more information.

The Best Beaches in Sydney

The best thing about visiting Sydney is that you can easily access the beach from the city. It’s the only city I have been to that you can go from the city to the beach. While I’ve been to beaches across the world, there is no better beach than home. I have a theory that the only reason Australia isn’t on the list of top beaches is the fact that you live in fear whilst being the water.

Born and raised in Sydney I thought I’d list my favourite beaches in Sydney and the best in my opinion. Steer away from the overcrowded Bondi and head over to these beaches now.

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1. Shelly Beach

Shelly Beach is in Manly, many people go there for the crystal clear water. The fact that you can also snorkel there is a bonus as well.

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2. Malabar Beach

Malabar beach is the next one over Maroubra. It barely has any tourists’ there and if you’re there during the weekdays you are literally there on your own. The water is super still so many people go paddle boarding and jet skiing. You can also go snorkelling in Malabar as well.

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3. Little Bay Beach

Little Bay beach is a little slice of heaven, it’s the next beach over from Malabar. If you’re there on the weekends it can get quite busy, but no as busy as Bondi. It’s like a little magical cove.

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4. Milk Beach

Milk Beach is situated at the base of Hermit Bay within the Sydney Harbour National Park. It’s a very secluded beach and you get to also see the high line of the city in the background.

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5. Shark Beach

Shark Beach is also within the Sydney Harbour National Park and is nestled in Nielsen Park. It’s one of the beaches that you can see some lovely harbour views.

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6. Bronte

Bronte is a favourite amongst Bondi locals. If you’re doing the Bondi to Coogee walk you’ll go past it. Surfers go there and it also has a beautiful rock pool near by.

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7. La Perouse

La Perouse has the most beautiful sunset I have seen in Sydney beaches. It has a few beautiful cafes and it’s near the Kamay Botany national park.

5 acts of travelling kindness that will restore your faith in humanity

There is nothing more beautiful than a generosity of a complete stranger. I’ve travelled across the globe as a solo traveller and the sheer kindness of people have always kept me speechless. There are many people I know in my life now who live in the same city and don’t even take the time of the day to reply back to a message, let alone help you cross the Guatemalan border.

So I wanted to re-tell only a few of travel kindness that strangers have bestowed upon me, if only to make people think about how they treat strangers, or even how they treat their friends.

1. Dutch guy, travelling on a mini-bus from Cambodia to Thailand

When I was in Siem Reap, Cambodia I decided to catch an air-conditioned bus to Bangkok, Thailand. The lovely driver decided to put me in the back of the bus where 3 other gentlemen were sitting. So you can imagine that for a good 8 hours I was squished between some pretty big lads. Anyway, I must’ve been trying to sleep and the Dutch guy to my left told me that I could sleep on his shoulder. He even grab a t-shirt from his bag and told me it was clean as he placed in on his shoulder. I thought it was the sweetest offer, and when we were in Bangkok I decided to have pad thai with him for lunch. We couldn’t spend the day together because my sister was coming into town that night so that was the last I saw him. Until this day I do not remember his name, but I do remember his generosity.

2. Argentinean stranger at a bus stop in Buenos Aires

I travelled to Buenos Aires and happen to meet someone there, anyway he lived in Nunez which is quite a nice suburb in Buenos Aires, but you had to get 2 buses to get there. My Spanish was ok, but I still wasn’t very confident in speaking it. Anyway, I decided to try my luck and get the bus there. The first bus I hopped on the driver let me pass because I didn’t have any small change. I then hopped off to the next bus stop where I needed to catch another one. I asked a stranger if he had any small change. He said he didn’t but that it was ok. He then pulled the bus over to let me get on first, when I got on he told me that this is the one that would take me where I needed to go. He then jumped on after me and tapped his card into the reader and walked back out of the bus! Turns out he was paying for my trip and he was actually getting another bus. I couldn’t have been more grateful for his kindness. I tried to give him money but he refused it, I had a big smile for the rest of that night.

3. A kind man at the Nicaragua border to Costa Rica

I decided to catch chicken buses from Granada, Nicaragua to the Costa Rican border. Through out my whole journey of Central America I had always met other travellers that would then cross the border with me. This was the first time I had decided to get the chicken buses myself. As I got to the bus stop I had found my first bus that I needed to take, an older gentleman knew I was a tourist and he just looked at me and said “Costa Rica?” And I replied “Si.” Little did I know he would end up being my border crossing angel.

The same man ended up sitting behind me on the bus, guided me onto the next one, even shoeing away people trying to scam me. When we got to the Nicaraguan border he lined up with me and handed both our passports together at security, paid people to fill out my forms, and also told me how much I needed to pay to exit the country. We then would walk to the Costa Rican border and the guard had stop us. They asked if he was with me and he just said no, he just met me and I was his amiga. He couldn’t speak English so when I spoke to the guards he just looked at me and said “Problema?” and I just told him no. Anyway turns out I had to get an exit bus ticket out of Costa Rica before I was allowed to enter, so he lined up to cross the border and that’s where we lost each other. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye or to even thank him, but I was so grateful for his help.

4. 2 English girls on the bus from Thailand to Cambodia, Siem Reap

I took a long bus journey from Koh Lanta back to Bangkok, straight after that I went to the bus stop so that I could get the bus to Cambodia. It was at that bus stop that I checked my money and had realised my US dollars had been stolen. Someone from the bus had taken my money, $200 US dollars in fact, and had kindly left me with $11.00. At this point I started to break down, it was a long journey and I was going to use that money to buy books for the school I was going to volunteer at. I had asked at the counter to see if there was a cash machine dispensing US dollars and they said there wasn’t any, but there was some at the border. I spotted 2 English girls, Jenna and Jennie who were also waiting for the bus if they knew of a cash machine near by. They said no, and had told me they were advised to take US dollars out before. I then told them my situation and hoped that the border had an ATM. To my surprise the girls offered to spot me the difference and pay for my visa. I was overwhelmed and still until this day I am still friends with these girls. After 2 years I saw them in London a few months ago. They have a beautiful baby and their hearts are still as beautiful as the day I met them.

5. Italian Hostel Manager, Buenos Aires

I frantically got a cab back to my hostel is Buenos Aires and I was running like crazy worried I was going to be late for my flight to Brazil. Matteo the hostel manager and I had been hanging out in Buenos Aires a few times and he was such a lovely lad. Anyway, I needed to book a cab to the airport, the hostel gets a certain discount and turns out I was short on money. Matteo saved my life and spotted me the difference, I told him I could Paypal him the money or bank deposit it as I was in such a rush to get to the airport. He said not to worry and that he’d cover it. I was actually so shocked, I thought I’d have to go to the ATM and possibly miss my flight, which I think that’s probably what he would have preferred to be honest. Luckily 1 year later he moved to London and we met up with each other, I got to repay him in pints and helped him move into his new apartment.

How to book cheap flights

When it comes to booking flights, the big question is wondering when is the best time to book them cheaply.

A part from travelling at off-peak times, how else could you score cheap flights? Sites like Skyscanner and Kayak all have little tricks you can use to allow you to book the cheapest flights. So I thought I would give you little hacks on how to book cheap flights below.

Sign-up to newsletters

All airlines have a time and day of when they have specials. For example Tiger Airways do Tiger Tuesdays where they have specials every Tuesday. Jetstar does them on Friday’s at 4pm. The best way to keep in touch with these promotions is to go to their websites and sign up to the newsletter. It’s the best way to know when sales are on. It may take a little bit of time, but once I managed to get flights to the Gold Coast with Tiger for $10 bucks so it’s well worth it.

Use a different VPN

Try booking your flights through a VPN. I am not sure exactly how it works but sometimes when you search for your flight one day, the next day you search it again you realise it’s gone up. If you change VPN, for example using Google incognito the price of your flight may drop a little and save you a few dollars, sometimes even hundreds.  Clearing your search data also helps.

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Kayak

Kayak uses loads of websites and gathers the cheapest flight for the destination you’re after. However if you don’t have a destination in mind, the best way is to click on the grid on the right side of the website. Once you are there click on explore, and it should take you to this page. Once you’re on that page, you can search where you want to depart from, what month and from there a map it will show you how much it will cost to visit a country. This helps a lot if you’re not in a rush, have time and are able to work around the sales. It’s also a travellers dream because you get to see which country is the cheapest to visit at certain times, saving you money.

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Skyscanner

Again for those who are quite adventurous and don’t necessarily have a place in mind, Skyscanner has this great feature where you simply search ‘everywhere.’ All you have to do is pick the departing country. Once you pick search everywhere, it will then come up with a list of countries to pick from and their prices flights.

How do you book cheap flights? Let us know in the comments.

How I afford to travel – The Breakdown

How I afford to travel – The Breakdown

It’s a question almost everyone asks me everyday of my life. Mostly they think I am just constantly going on holidays but they never see the sacrifices that I make to be able to visit different countries.

You know that coffee that you have to drink every day? Well, I don’t drink coffee. What about shopping you say? I am not really into it, I do go to the thrift store or shop online for bargains but my clothes are really cheap. The reason I can afford to travel is because once I purchase that ticket and get on that plane, that feeling, trumps anything else. I literally cannot, and choose not to waste my money on things, I’d rather spend money on experiences. So here are a few tips and advice on how I can afford to travel.

Book flights when they are on sale

I know it can be quite difficult to book a flight willy nilly, but if you book a cheap flight when they are on sale you have better chances of actually going on that trip. Try to book and organise your holiday around the ticket sales, it will save you hundreds of dollars.

Book flights at off-peak times

Flights are so much more cheaper during off-peak times, not only will you get a cheap ticket but you will also be able to explore the country with less travellers. Off-peak travellers are the best kind of travellers because they are more keen on exploring then just sunbathing in a resort.

Cut back on luxuries

I guess as a traveller I stop spending money on luxuries as I just can’t justify it anymore. Things like buying coffee at a cafe every morning before work is something I would consider a luxury. Try and make coffee at home and take it to work. Also it would be good to learn how to DIY, there are loads of YouTube channels on how to do your own pedicure and manicure for example which can save you loads of money.

When shopping, think do you really need it before you purchase

Ok so sometimes I do shop for new clothes every now and then, but it’s always on sale. And even when it is on sale, I think to myself do I really need it? I know it sounds cheesey, but once you start asking yourself that you will be able to see the changes.

Look at the bigger picture, to experience more things? Or to have more?

Are you into material things or are you into memories? The end of the day that is the only way you will be able to travel more often, by looking at the bigger picture. Memories last forever.

Get rid of expensive habits

Even if you think that habit of yours only costs you a few dollars a week, it all adds up. Try and get rid of expensive habits and find free alternatives.

Do more free stuff

Sometimes when you live at home for so long you start to forget to explore. You know when you go overseas and you look for all the free activities around town? Well, you need to start doing that at home. There are so many free events on you just need to do your research and find out where it is happening. Once you get the hang of doing it then you’ll stop spending so much money on going out all the time.

Don’t eat out too much

This is a little trick that I learnt in London. I couldn’t afford to go out and eat all the time because I was saving to travel around Europe. I used to tell people I couldn’t make it for dinner but I’ll make it for drinks. This was a life saver! You can also do a sneaky and have pre-drinks at home. Or if you’re ok with not eating much in front of people then eat before dinner and just grab yourself a snack. You will really see the changes in savings in a matter of months.

How do you afford to travel? Leave your comments below.