My go to app anytime I have itchy feet! Skyscanner instantly compares flight prices worldwide with thousands of leading airlines. Stuck with where to go? The great thing about this application is that it does all the work for you. Simply type in your departure point and select 'EVERYWHERE'. Skyscanner will then proceed to list hundreds of destinations in order from cheapest to most expensive. Choose a destination within your price range and away you go!
2. TRIP ADVISOR
Although I use a number of travel resources when planning a trip, Trip Advisor is always my first stop destination for anything travel related. Informative, up to date information on destinations, activities and accommodation worldwide. The great thing about Trip Advisor is that all advice and reviews comes directly from travel enthusiasts just like you and me!
Want to stay in touch with loved ones while abroad but don't want to pay excessive international roaming charges? Skype is the answer for you! Make calls from anywhere in the world using either Wifi or prepaid credit. Calls are quick, efficient and of high quality. This was my lifesaver during my 8 month overseas trip. The great news? You can opt to call only if you have a slow wifi connection or you can face to face chat when you have higher download speeds!
The new alternative to noisy hostels and overpriced hotels! Airbnb connects travellers with thousands of accommodation options worldwide. Airbnb hosts are primarily everyday people renting out a spare room, apartment or house at reasonable prices. Connect with local people, get the insider tips and enjoy an authentic new way to sleep!
5. WHATSAPP MESSENGER
Don't have time to call home? Need to send a quick message to a loved one back home or fellow travel companion? Whatsapp is the answer for you! Send instant messages to anyone worldwide on this application. You can sent up to 10 photos at a time also and all photos sent to yourself instantly save to your apple or android device. A great convenient way to share photos and quick discussions!
6. XE CURRENCY CONVERTER
The dreaded currency exchange! We've all been to those destinations where all your hard earned cash disappears before your eyes when travelling to a country with a stronger currency then yours. While XE currency converter can't change the international conversion rates, it can make sure you are informed on the correct rates! A great app to plan your budget and keep track of ever changing conversion rates when travelling to multiple countries.
The ultimate guide to backpacking accommodation around the world. I single handedly used this application across 15+ countries while abroad and could not recommend it more highly. Simply type in your destination and chose from thousands of hostels that meet your price range.
Gone are the days of spending your hard earned cash on overpriced taxis! Uber is the fast expanding, cheaper alternative to taxi travel. Operating in cities all over the the world, book and pay for your trip before you leave your current destination! I used Uber in London and was amazed at their impressively quick, friendly and easy service.
9. GOOGLE MAPS
Ready for a road trip but have no idea how to get there? Google maps is a well established app and is much loved by travellers all over the world. Multipurpose functions such as live directions, plan your route and save favourite destinations options makes Google maps quick, easy and convenient to use.
10. FlightAware Flight Tracker
There is simply nothing worse when travelling then delayed flights! Why haul up in airports when you've been given extra precious time to enjoy your current destination? FlightAware takes the hassle out of this! Keep up to date with live flight tracking to ensure you don't miss any critical updates. This app is great for those flying out or loved ones eagerly waiting the return of someone special!
Do you have itchy feet and the never ending urge to travel? If you can't beat it, embrace it! Check out my top ten must have travel applications that will assist you in planning your next ultimate adventure!
To plan your next trip check out my destinations page to inspire your next adventure!
*Please note all logos displayed in this blog have been obtained via Twitter*
Flying is essentially the easiest way to get from A to B. Whether you are travelling for business or leisure, mastering your cabin baggage is critical to allowing you to fly smoother and hassle free!
I like to keep things simple when packing as the more you pack the more you have to carry! See my below guide of my must have travel items when flying.
As well as the domestic travel items add the following to your list:
I've always had itchy feet! My weekends would always be filled with road trips, exploring new cities and too many airport trips to recall. It wasn't until August last year however that I decided to take my wanderlust to a new level. I packed my bags, let my city bachelor pad go and traded in my corporate career for a one way ticket to London! Since then I have hit the big FOUR ZERO countries visited and have added at least half that to my never ending bucket list!
Check out my favourite experiences on my around the world journey so far!
2. Spotting the Big 5 in Kruger National Park - South Africa
3. The Colosseum in Rome - Italy
4. Exploring Cape Town - South Africa
5. Victoria Falls - Zimbabwe
6. Relaxing in Honolulu - Hawaii
7. Gondola ride through Venice - Italy
8. Exploring London - England
9. Climbing Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh - Scotland
10. Photographing Lauterbrunnen - Switzerland
"Not all those who wander are lost" - J. R. R. Tolkien
If you have any tips on how you kick the home sickness blues I'd love to hear from you!
After years of reading travel blogs, day dreaming over travel brochures and hearing stories from friends I finally decided to bite the bullet and trade in my corporate lifestyle for the chance to travel the world. It was the best decision I have ever made! I spent a little under 8 months exploring 4 continents covering a total of 34 countries. When I left I knew that my world would be changed by I didn’t fully appreciate how. Besides from the obvious changes such as extra freckles courtesy of the African sun, most of the changes are hidden just beneath the surface. After returning to Australia this week I can now for the first time take a moment to reflect on my time away.
I DISCOVERED WHAT TRUE INDEPENDENCE IS
After a 28 hour flight from Australia to England all I wanted to do was shower, sleep and Facebook home to let my family know that I arrived safe. What I got instead was the dreaded task of trying to navigate the London Tube and find my hostel in the rain. Suddenly it dawned on me that I was over 16,000 kms from home, I had no map and I had no working cell phone. All my reservations and fears about leaving home to explore the world on my own came flooding to the surface and I was close to tears. What had I done? What had I gotten myself into? I sat down and took a moment to pull myself together. I was in London! After lusting about seeing the places I had always dreamed of visiting I was finally here! Now I won’t say that was the only time I felt overwhelmed or craved home but it was the last time I doubted myself to not only get through this trip but enjoy ever minute of it. Since then I have missed flights and hauled up in McDonalds for hours in London trying to find a hostel that wouldn’t break the bank. I have also found myself somewhere to sleep every night in over 34 countries, navigated through countless cities and even given directions to fellow travellers in foreign countries. All this I did on my own! I didn’t have anyone to fall back on if things got hard. All I had was myself and now I know more then ever that myself is all I need!
I’VE OPENED MY EYES TO THE WORLD
Keeping up with world events and reading up on history has always been a top priority for me. However when you experience these things first hand it truly opens your eyes to the world and I realised how sheltered my life in Australia once was. I’ve seen poverty up close in Africa and I’ve travelled through Egypt where the threat of bombings are a regular occurrence. I’ve witnessed the true horrors of WWII at Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland, experienced racism first hand in South Africa and I’ve had to adapt my western style clothing to respect cultural differences in several countries. All of these are first hand experiences that couldn’t possibly be taught in books and all of which have opened my eyes to a world I didn’t fully appreciate or understand before.
MY PRIORITIES HAVE CHANGED
Things that I thought were important before my travels now suddenly don’t seem so important. Where before I thought a new pair of shoes were a necessity, I am now grateful for a roof over my head, running water and food daily. The things that I undervalued are now the things I can’t value more highly - family, friendships and experiences. Why it took me to travel the world to realise I had my priorities wrong I don’t know. I am glad I did finally realise them though! Life is short. Sure it is the longest thing you will ever do but in an instant it can all be over. What matters to you? For me the important lesson I discovered was realising that I didn’t want a life where I lived to work. I want a life where I work to live. I want to climb Machu Picchu, I want to cruise through the Middle East but most of all I want someone to share these adventures with. I want a partner in life and I want to build a family one day. I want to enjoy quality time with my family and I realised trading in my corporate lifestyle for the experience to travel the world was the best choice I’ve ever made.
I’VE MATURED BEYOND MY YEARS
Your 20’s are an integral time for self discovery and I truly feel there is no better way to grow emotionally then through travel. After experiencing the culture and history first hand that I’d only read about in books how could it not change me? I’m more aware of the world. I’ve grown into myself to a point I am completely content with who I am. I have taken the time to discover what I want out of life and I have a vision for my future. Every experience in life changes you. When you travel it simply speeds up the process!
I’VE NEVER BEEN MORE PROUD TO BE AUSTRALIAN
Travelling the world I have never been more thankful or proud to be Australian then I am now. I was no longer in countries where clean water, free healthcare and suitable living conditions were an expectation opposed to a dream. In Australia I took for granted being able to walk around cities alone because the threat of kidnappings and racial killings was a one in a million chance of occurrence instead of daily normality. I am proud to be Australian! I am proud of the country we have built where everyone is tolerated and welcomed regardless of race, religion or political differences. I am proud to live in a country where the threat of internal and external terrorism is minimal and I am proud to live in a country where we have sound infrastructure, education and employment opportunities. Most of all I’m thankful to live in a country where I feel safe. Aussie, Aussie, Aussie... Oi, Oi, Oi!
When it comes to backpacks, the design you choose is vital. One of the main reasons I invested in my Katmandu 70L backpack was for the simple reason that is opens via the front as well as the top. There is nothing more annoying then having to dig through your backpack from the top several times a day when you are in search of one item! Another important point to consider when choosing a backpack is compartment space. My Katmandu backpack is broken up into 3 separate compartments. The bottom is used for storing shoes. This is a clever design as the mud and smell stays trapped down one end. The main section is for all of your personal items and clothing. The last is the lid which has a small compartment on top which I use to store regularly accessed items such as adapters, chargers, medication and pyjamas.
This has to be your main point of focus when choosing which backpack is right for you. When lugging anywhere between 10 - 20 kgs on your back it is vital you have a backpack that supports your back instead of damaging it. Thick straps and waist support were the two main features I looked for when choosing mine. The waist support makes a significant difference when distributing the weight of your backpack when walking. The straps should be preferably thick for added back and shoulder support and I would recommend getting them adjusted to your body when purchasing your new backpack.
Whether you are hiking or using your daypack to explore a new city by day it is important you choose one to suit your own preference. Thankfully my backpack came with a 15L daypack which was basic in design with one main zipper. It was great for not only day use but for extra packing space when necessary. The basic design meant everything was insight when needed and can be packed in a hurry. It also conveniently connected to my backpack. I wouldn’t recommend anything larger as I easily fit my 13 inch Mac, Passport, Travel documents, Wallet and Camera in this pack.
Now you've chosen your backpack it is time to pack your bags and get exploring!
1. PICK A DESTINATION - Check!
2. BOOK YOUR TRIP - Check!
3. PACK YOUR BAGS - Check!
WHAT ARE YOU FORGETTING?
This will be the most important thing you do. If you insure your car, house and contents then why wouldn’t you insure yourself? Travel Insurance covers anything from medical expenses to lost, stolen or broken property. Don’t be caught out of pocket thousands of dollars when something goes wrong. For as little as $1.50 a day Travel Insurance is a must! Be sure to shop around when selecting your insurer. Flight agencies tend to be overpriced compared to your local bank or health insurer. For the last 8 months I have be insured with Southern Cross Travel Insurance for less then an average return flight from Brisbane - Adelaide.
You never know what can go wrong when you are travelling! It is always smart to make several copies of your travel documents. I would suggest 3. One hard copy on yourself at all times, an electronic copy and a copy back home left with a family member or friend. That way if you need an emergency passport issued or to claim on your travel insurance while abroad you can do so quickly and efficiently.
PASSPORT & VISAS
Firstly ensure you have a minimum of 6 months validity remaining on your passport prior to booking an international getaway. For many countries this is a basic requirement for entry. The second important task you need to do is check whether you require a VISA prior to travelling. Being Australian I can travel almost everywhere without a visa or I can obtain one on arrival. Brazil for example however you need to apply online prior to visiting. This simple mistake cost me thousands in lost airfares and no Rio De Janeiro for me this time round!
You’ve gone to the trouble of protecting yourself with Travel Insurance. Don’t forget to protect your body! Vaccinations can be extremely expensive but several countries can and will deny you access if you aren’t up to date with your vaccinations. Not to mention the potentially fatal diseases you can catch if you travel immunisation free. Thankfully most vaccinations offer lifetime immunity meaning it is a once off expense. If you have private health insurance be sure to speak with your provider to discuss any available rebates. For me it was $1,000 and over 13 shots later before I was ready for my around the world trip. I am terrified of needles but it was worth every second of short term pain for the long term gain! I use Travel Doctor in both Adelaide and Brisbane City and couldn’t fault them.
REGISTER YOUR TRAVEL
With so many events happening around the world it is vital your government knows where you are. Whether it be a natural disaster or a terrorist attack your government can not help you if they don’t know where you are. For Australian’s I would high recommend registering online with Smart Traveller.
There is nothing worse then international roaming charges! On my first trip abroad I received a bill from Telstra in excess of $6,000 for a 3 week trip to Canada. All because I failed to look into my contract fees! Save yourself the hassle and either leave your mobile at home, use it for wifi only or invest in a travel sim. When travelling through Europe, London is my suggested city to purchase your sim. Recharge from as little as 15 pound to get you started and enjoy data usage throughout most EU countries.
It is always a good idea to have between $100-200 converted currency on you prior to your arrival. Ensure you covert your currency PRIOR to arriving at your departure airport. Airport retailers offer poor currency conversions and charge excessive commission fees. Throughout your trip I would suggest avoid carrying large amounts of cash due to the likelihood of it being stolen. Travel cards are a great alternative and several companies offer low withdrawal fees and no loading fees. I personally prefer to use my Suncorp everyday account card. For a small 3% currency conversion fee and $5 ATM withdrawal fee it is quick, easy and convenient. All without the hassle of having to transfer money for a 3rd party provider.
4-6 weeks prior to your international departure be sure to alert your bank that you are travelling abroad. I’ve lost count of how many cards I’ve had blocked due to forgetting this simple step.
SPREAD THE WORD
If you are heading away for an extended period of time be sure to redirect your mail, turn on your out of office via your email provider and change your mobile voicemail message.
If you have any additional tips to help fellow travellers plan for their trip I would love to hear from you!
Below is a simple broken down guide of what is required for a 1-6 month backpacking trip. This guide can vary depending on your personal preference. However don’t forget that every additional item you add you have to carry! Remember items can be purchased throughout your trip if you discover you just can’t live without something.
x1 Waterproof Rain Jacket
x3 Long shirts
x2 Singlets - Use for layering clothes
x1 Waterproof Rain Jacket
x1 Boots, Converse or Sport Shoe
x1 Sandels or Flip Flops
x1 Shampoo & Conditioner
x1 Toothbrush & Toothpaste
x1 Body Lotion/Soap
x1 Micro-fibre Towel
x1 Sanitary products for girls
x1 Insect Repellent - A MUST have in Africa! I’d suggest opting for a lotion opposed to a spray
x5 Pack of Tissues - Essential when travelling to several parts of Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe
x1 Lock - Useable for both your bag when flying and hostel dorm room lockers.
x1 Universal adapter
x1 Prescription Medication as required
x1 First Aid Kit
x1 Camera - Charger, rechargeable batteries if required and a back up SD card
x1 Hard copy of your passport, travel insurance, flight itineraries and emergency contact details
x1 Compact sleeping bag - TIP: Use a carabiner to clip your sleeping bag on the outside of your pack
x1 Water Bottle & Filter - Cut down costs on bottled water throughout Europe
x1 Neck Pillow
x1 Head Torch - If you are staying in dorm rooms or camping
x1 Deck of Cards
x1 Laptop & Charger
x1 Mobile & Charger
x1 Power Board
x1 Notebook & Pen
x4 Backpack Dividers - A fantastic way to sort out your belongings
x1 Day Pack
For more advice on packing check out my article - IF I COULD PACK ALL OVER AGAIN
No matter where in the world I go I always make it a priority to learn the the basic phrases of a new language. I do this not only to communicate more effectively while travelling but also as a sign of respect to those I am communicating with.
I have currently been living in Botswana, Africa for the last 4 months and have made it my personal mission to be fluent in Afrikaans in the next 3 months.
Read below to find out how I aim to achieve this!
LEARN THE ALPHABET
Every language has different sounds when pronouncing letters. For example Afrikaans requires a lot of tongue movements to roll letters. The key to speaking a new language fluently to the point that you are clearly understood is to get the main words down pat. Once you achieve this you can then begin to expand with words.
Google Translate is perhaps one of the best tools available for self teaching a new language. Save costs on overpriced language classes and books by using the free online program. The great feature of Google Translate is it not only does it translate most words you are wanting to learn, it plays them out loud for your reference to learn how to correctly pronounce them.
PRACTISE OUT LOUD DAILY
Whether it is when you are in the shower or driving, practicing out loud is essential to mastering a new language. The more familiar you are with speaking a new language the higher your confidence will be communicating with others. You didn’t go through all of your hard work not to use your new skills!
INCORPORATE IT INTO YOUR DAILY LANGUAGE
The key to maintaing the knowledge of the new words or phrases I've have learnt for me is to replace existing words in my vocabulary with my new language. For example; ‘Look at that ‘tree’ now becomes 'Look at that boom' in Afrikaans. That way I get used to the new words I've learn and begin to incorporate them into my daily routine. This makes for an easier transition and increases practise opportunities!
PRACTISE ON PEOPLE WHO SPEAK THE LANGUAGE FLUENTLY
Everyone struggles when learning a new language so don’t be scared to test out your new skills on locals. They will most likely respect you more for attempting to communicate with them in their primary language. It is also a great way to learn by hearing foreigns communicate regularly in their native language so you can get to know the sounds correctly.
WRITE IT DOWN HOW IT IS PRONOUNCED
For me this has been my biggest key to success. Everyone is different though with a kinaesthetic learning style reading and the act of doing are essential for me. For example if I am learning how to say ‘How are you’ in Afrikaans I would write it how it sounds; hoot harn debt. This makes it easier to practise new phrases I have learnt and allows me to refer back to my own guide book when practising alone. It may make for writing the language more difficult later on down the track. For the mean time it is a great way to become fluent in a new language quickly and efficiently!
If you have any tips on what works for you when learning a new language I would love to hear from you!
DISCOVER A NEW SENSE OF INDEPENDENCE
I have always been strong willed, stubborn and independent. Many of those factors are what made travelling solo the perfect choice for me. There is a difference though in being independent in a comfort zone you have built at home opposed to wandering the world alone. This is when you will truly learn to sink or swim. Travelling solo will make you stand on your own two feet. When you are abroad you don’t have a security blanket of loving family and friends to bail you out when things get hard. If you get lost, take a train in the wrong direction, loose your bank card or get robbed YOU need to fix it. It is the most testing times in life when you learn who you truly are and realise that sometimes all you really need is you!
EXPAND YOUR FRIENDSHIP CIRCLE
To travel solo is a decision. To discover the world alone is a choice. Everywhere you look there are people and opportunities to form new friendships. The great news is you aren’t the only person brave enough to travel solo! Some of my best memories I have made throughout my travels are with friends I have made along the way. Everyone you meet while travelling is on the same journey as you... To see the world. The likelihood that you’ve both discovered the same destination is high but there is also a high chance they have discovered somewhere incredibly different that will inspire your next trip. While travelling I wouldn’t have found the world’s best custard tart in Portugal or marvelled at Barcelona’s beauty if it wasn’t for people I’d met along the way. I am a true believer that every person in life you meet will change you in one way or another. Embrace it!
EXPLORE THE WORLD ON YOUR TERMS
The most amazing thing about people is our vast differences. The people you choose to surround yourself with are people who you share common interests with. The reason you are who you are though is because you are different. Don’t give up your dreams or settle because someone shares a different vision to you. The best thing about solo travel is the ability to write your own travel plan. Do you want to see the Pyramids of Giza? Do you want to go on an African safari? Then go! The beauty of travelling solo is that there is no one to holding you back! You don’t have to compromise on destinations. You don’t have to experience things to make someone else happy. Spend the precious time you have achieving what you want to achieve on YOUR trip!
SOMETIMES ALL YOU NEED IS YOU
People always say you can’t love someone until you learn to love yourself. This couldn’t be more true. Travelling solo you have endless opportunities to discover yourself, grow as a person and learn to love your own company. Whether you need some time to find yourself, heal from a broken relationship or become a better version of you, all these things are best achieved on your own. The added bonus is you get to see the world while doing it!
YOU WILL NEVER BE THE SAME WHEN YOU RETURN HOME
Every experience in life changes you. Travelling the world speeds up the process. For me travelling solo opened my eyes to the beauty in the world and also the poverty that makes me thankful to be Australian. I found love in the form of friendships, the African sunset and snowflakes falling in Norway. I have not only rediscovered myself alone but I have grown into the best possible version of me. Travelling adds emotional and intellectual years to your age. You get the opportunity to experience history first hand you learnt in school as a child. You get to meet people from all walks of life who will share their experiences with you. Finally you get an opportunity to invest in yourself to discover your passions, desires and goals in life. After all of these incredible opportunities how could you ever return home the same?
Welcome to Australian Abroad! This website was created to share my love of travelling with fellow nomads.