Around The Globe from A to Z!

I like to feel like I really know the people whose Blogs I read, especially seeing as it is my fellow travelers who tend to inspire me the most.

Two female travel bloggers that inspire me exponentially are Brooke from World of Wanderlust and Amanda from A Dangerous Business. Through reading their stories and religiously browsing their blogs, I feel like they are old friends, not people who I’ve never met before, which is how I want my readers to feel when they read my posts!

To give you a little bit more of an insight into my opinions and past travels, I have taken it upon myself to post a “self-interview” after reading Amanda’s A to Z travel post.

I can’t remember exactly, but I was around 13 and it was to Bali, Indonesia with my family. I have since been to over 20 more countries.

I am not a big beer drinker, so this narrows down my choices, but I would have to say Heineken in Amsterdam or Bintang in Bali.

Asian cuisine is my absolute favourite, from Sushi to Dumplings to Pho, I love it all! I will add that I have a new found love and appreciation for Pizza and Pasta from my week in Italy last year.

Favourite: Apart from my home, Australia, it is an equal tie between Paris and Barcelona! I can’t really explain it other than it was love at first sight. When you know, you know, right!?
Least Favourite: I hate to be a voice of unpopular opinion, but London just did not live up to its hype. I found it to be crowded and just not that appealing to me. London lacked the “pizzazz” I thought it would be figuratively drowning in.

It is super cliché, but for me seeing snow for the first time ever in the Swiss Alps was one of my biggest “WOW” moments. Growing up in Perth, Australia, we never experience freezing temperatures, let alone snow, so it has always been on my bucket list and I was like a little kid at Christmas when I finally got to hold that freezing white fluffy ice in my hand for the first time.

Another tie- I love flying because it is generally the most efficient way to travel, but, I love cruising because there is something so peaceful about being rocked to sleep on a ship while you travel through the Aegean Seas.

That intoxicating rush of happiness and excitement you feel when arriving into a new place.

Apart from Australia, I’d say Bali is the hottest place I’ve traveled to. It is generally between 80-100% humidity and upwards of 25°c year round which makes for a popular tropical holiday destination.

Balinese people in general are some of the most beautifully natured and hospitable people I have come across. I can’t remember a particular place I’ve received incredible service, though my sister and I found unbelievable kindness in a complete stranger and his wife when we were stranded in Paris with no phone or accommodation- but that’s a story for another time!

Perth to London! Just out air time alone was 19 hours, not including airport waits and check-in. I think all up it took us around 24 hours to get to London.

I have postcards from everywhere I’ve been on my walls as decoration, and I like little bits and bobs from the places I see such as my Eiffel tower key chain and my Mickey Mouse Christmas snow globe from Disney Land in Paris. I also love getting things that are useable and edible, such as cheese from The Netherlands, lollies from China and a scarf from Turkey.

For me, the Colosseum and Trevi fountain were the most disappointing sights; I was expecting way too much for these overcrowded and tourist filled sights. They were still beautiful, just not what I’d romanticised in my head.

The first time I went to Bali, with my family, I remember being in the taxi on the drive from the airport to our hotel and I just fell in love with travel. The feeling of exploring somewhere so completely different to home. It is such an intangible feeling, and one that I don’t think will ever go away for me.

Another tie for me- between The Duxton Hotel in Perth which is beautiful and extravagant and The Pullman Hotel in Bali which is super modern and spacious and tropical (everything you need for a relaxing 5-star holiday).

I’m not going to lie… selfies are my go to photo. selfies with new friends, selfies with tourist attractions, selfies of me on the plane… the list goes on and on 😉

More than 20, though that’s including return stamps. My stamps include multiple ones to Bali, and entry/exit stamps for Australia, Ireland, France, Turkey, Spain and China.

Some of the museums in Amsterdam were quite “quirky” to say the least, and the Torture museum visited in Prague was both quirky and sickening!

I could go on and on and on about places to see and visit. Witnessing a sunset from the village of Oia in Santorini, Greece is something I would recommend for every single persons bucket list.

I am equal part budget traveller and comfort traveller. I have no problems forking over money for better flight times, extra leg room or a hotel with air conditioning. I find I am most frugal before I leave for my trip, which allows me to spend more freely while travelling.

I don’t mind being labelled a tourist, as I believe everyone should travel however they want to. You’re travelling doesn’t suddenly become invalid if you decide you want to go on the London Eye or take a guided tour of Berlin- everyone’s experiences are different!

I’ve eaten croissants beneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris, tossed coins into the Trevi Fountain in Rome and taken photos of me “holding up” the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Pisa. All of these things have been fun experiences for me #noregrets!

Seeing the “Hallelujah Mountains” in Zhangjiajie, China. These are the mountains that inspired James Cameron’s Avatar, and I will never forget the awe I felt seeing them up close.

4 different countries so far- Indonesia, Turkey, China and USA.

The best wine I had while travelling was probably the Champagne I drank while at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. Maybe my opinion is swayed by the exciting feeling of drinking Champagne in France, but it was delicious none the less.

Oia, hands down!. I felt like I was part of a painting standing amongst the quaint, blue roofed, and white walled buildings in the picture perfect village of Oia in Santorini, Greece.

If you add up all the time I’ve spent traveling over the past 10 years, I would probably fall just short of 1 year I total, but I can’t say I’ve sat down and calculated that figure.

England- those Football fans are insane (and passionate)!

9 ways to save money *while* travelling!

When I travel, I like to mix it up! Sometimes I like to spend my days shopping, others I like to explore museums or local parks. Sometimes I take a suitcase, sometimes a back pack. Sometimes I’ll stay in 5 star hotels, sometimes in back packers hostels. Pretty much, my tastes change day-to-day, but one thing that never changes is that I always like to save money where I can! 😀piggybank

My money related philosophy is essentially “why pay more if I don’t have to?”. I think it is a pretty safe assumption to say that most travelers feel this way too, no matter what your travel preferences are. Here are some of my personal top tips for making the most of your money whilst you are travelling;

1- Ch-ch-change(s)

I don’t know about you, but I am one of those people that get flustered really easily when someone gives me my change and there are people behind me waiting to pay. I generally just throw it in my bag so I’m not holding anyone up, and most of the time I forget about it. At the end of my holiday last year, ending in Paris, I had around 30€ in coins in my bag (about $50!). At home this isn’t so bad, because I am going to end up using it anyway, but when I am overseas this can end up with me wasting so much of my money due to the fact that most money exchange places don’t accept coins.

Tip: Try and use your coins as much as possible! Don’t feel embarrassed to sit there and count them out. If you know you are going out for lunch, count how much you have in said currency, and put it all in one location so it is easy to access and count when you want to pay.

2- Cheapest isn’t always “cheapest”

I am sure it’s happened to all of us- you see an unbelievably cheap airfare from City A to City B and you purchase it without hesitating! That’s awesome right? Wrong! Well, not always, but in my experience my “cheap” tickets have ended up being not-so-cheap. A lot of low cost carriers/budget airlines are cheap because they are no frills. No free luggage allowance, no meals, no free drinks, no entertainment, and a lot of the time they operate out of alternate airports or at obscene hours of the night/morning. For some this isn’t an issue, but when you factor in food, drinks, luggage, magazines, taxi fares that you didn’t budget for, it can become quite expensive.

Tip: Always read the fine print- find out what is included and what isn’t so you’re prepared. How much is it to add luggage? How much extra is it to select your preferred window seat or purchase a basic meal? Think about what transport options you have- do trains/buses operate when you arrive or depart because one taxi ride can blow your daily budget right out the window.

3- Get a good great bank card

I am a strong advocate of having a credit card for emergencies. Generally I will just take whatever my normal at home credit card is and keep it in a safe place for if I really need it. If you travel frequently, it pays to have a credit card that is useful for travelers (read: no currency conversion rates, free travel insurance, frequent flier points etc). The other type of card I always have is a “debit” type card- one where I can put my money onto the card and use it for eftpos or at an ATM. Most debit cards work internationally and will just spit out whatever currency the ATM uses, but it is important to consider what hidden costs you may have.

Tip: I generally look for a travel card that specifically has set ATM fees, no extra charges for currency conversion and no fees for eftpos purchases. Do try to think ahead about how much money you will need and try not to frequent the ATM too much. Last year on my big European adventure, I had a withdrawal fee of 2€ per transaction. This doesn’t seem too bad but when you work out that I used the ATM almost every day… well 42 days x 2€ = 84€ = $126!!

If you’re not sure where to start, try using a card comparison website such as Credit Card Insider (US readers), or research travel cards such as Commonwealth Bank Travel Card (AUS readers), 28 Degrees Mastercard (AUS readers) and Mastercard Travel Card (UK readers.)

4- Plan ahead

I am a person who really likes to be organised- especially with my holidays. I know this isn’t how everyone travels- which is cool- but I find it works out to benefit me not only mentally (so I don’t go crazy) but also financially! Researching the places you want to see to find free days/discounted entry, cheaper transport methods, where you nearest Starbucks/McDonalds (for free wi-fi) are located, and when peak and off peak seasons are can help prepare you and save your hard earned cash.

Tip: Try and travel slightly off-peak for discounts on hotels and transport. The plus side is it won’t be as busy so you won’t need to battle with huge crowds- which makes life a little easier. I also screenshot Google maps of the area I am staying in in case I get lost and don’t have access to wi-fi or a paper map.

5- Keep track of your spending

While I greatly encourage enjoying your holidaying and splurging on whatever you want (it’s your holiday right?), I do think that it is a great idea to keep a note of what/where/how you are spending your money.  By writing everything down you will be able to see a pattern of where you’re spending your money- you may not realise that you are unnecessarily shopping at H&M every day, or getting a coffee and cake from Starbucks every second day. It is easier to hold yourself accountable and not panic and think “where did all of my money go” when you check your bank balance.

Tip: Try and stick to either card or cash- it is easier to keep track and less likely you will forget about the random purchases you make throughout your day. Also, don’t make it a chore to keep notes, just take a couple of minutes once or twice a day to note down what you’ve purchased, either old school in a notebook, or on your phone or tablet (there are so many budget apps available out there).

6- To tip or not to tip?

From my experiences, Americans in particular tend to “struggle” with this. Not because it is a difficult concept, but because they are so used to tipping at home and so unsure of what is required in other countries (especially for first time travellers). As a general rule, you aren’t required to tip in most places in Europe, Africa and Oceania (Asia/Australia/New Zealand). It is always good to research basic etiquette for wherever you are traveling to and make not of what is and isn’t required.

Many restaurants around the world will automatically add a service charge/tax which covers what you would traditionally tip, but many tourists are too uncomfortable to ask about it, or don’t read their bill properly and tip out of habit or fear of being embarrassed for not tipping. While I am not against tipping someone if I have received excellent service or an excellent meal, I don’t want my fellow travellers to part with their money just because they aren’t aware of local customs!

Tip: A quick Google of the country you are visiting will give you an idea of what is acceptable or expected in regards to tipping and save you from awkward social situations. If in doubt, ask a local!

7- Think before you shop

I am an impulse shopper. My friends and family know I have a terrible habit of saying “ooh- I need this!” when I see something I like. This is terrible for my bank account when I am travelling! Luckily, over time I have become a lot more conscious over what I am spending my money on. Sometimes you just know that you want something, in this case I will buy it. Other times, you have a niggling feeling in the back of your mind saying you don’t need it/can’t afford it/won’t be able to fit it in your suitcase… so in this instance I try and think logically about it. I try and think about how many hours of work it would take me to earn enough to buy that item, how often I will honestly look at/use/wear it and walk away from the shop for a bit. If I have to talk myself into buying it, I probably don’t want it as much as I think I do 😉

Tip: Leave your credit card/debit card/most of your cash at the hotel/hostel/apartment etc. This way you are forced to spend time thinking about whether or not you really want the item. If you get back to your accommodation and decide you still really want that souvenir/t shirt/lipstick/sandwich/bag, then go buy it- you are on holiday after all- just try not to buy too much “just because” as this is a sure fire way to burn through your daily budget and savings.

8- Dollars/Pounds/Euros/Yen/Francs/Pesos/Dirhams/Rupiah

This all comes down to knowing how much you are spending of your own money. When I go to Indonesia, I will pay around 10 000 IDR (Indonesian Rupiah) for a bottle of water- which sounds like a lot but it is only $1.. then on the other end of the scale I may only pay 2 GBP (Great British Pound) for a bottle of water in the UK, which sounds pretty cheap but is actually equivalent to $4!

Tip: To help put things in perspective, I always have a currency converter on me. I used to carry around a cheat sheet and/or a calculator, but these days you can just use an app which works online or offline (i.e. no internet needed) on your phone for this. This helps me to not get ripped off ‘cause I know first hand it can be so confusing using a new currency for the first time!

9- DIY (Do It Yourself)

This is a cheeky comment, because I do work in the industry (not in sales), but forgo the travel agents unless you really need help. These days it is so, so, easy to book everything by yourself online and by doing this you save on agent fees and paying commissions. It is easier to play around with dates, locations and flight options when you are doing it yourself. If in doubt, there are countless websites, travel forums and bloggers out there who are just about always happy to help (like me!).

Tip: If you are going to book through a Travel Agent, shop around and get a couple of different quotes as sometimes the price can differ by a few hundred dollars depending on who you speak to. (Note: Just because you get a higher price from someone doesn’t mean that agent is trying to rip you off, it may be they used a different combination of flights/airlines or a different route or airport etc). If the price is relatively similar, then just go to the person who you liked talking to the most as you may need to discuss your holiday with them again in the future. If you are unsure of a website, or something seems too good to be true then it probably is, so I do recommend booking directly with an airline for your major flights if you have any concerns.

Around The Globe With Kat wants to know: What are your go-to penny pinching tips? 

5 reasons to travel solo!

Travelling by yourself can be daunting, awkward, lonely, and down right scary, but it pays to remember that doesn’t have to be. There are so many options for us out there in this day and age that travelling solo doesn’t have to be any of those things! Up until this year I had never traveled 100% by myself, but after taking the plunge, I am kicking myself for not doing it sooner. There is no need to wait until you have a travel buddy (which gets harder and harder as we get older and have more commitments and responsibilities), so follow my lead and read on to see my 5 favourite reasons as to why you should travel solo- at least once in your life.

1) You are forced to step outside your comfort zone

Travelling solo means you are forced to challenge your fears and insecurities. There is nothing more empowering than figuring out the metro system of a new country all by yourself, or ordering a meal for one at a table for two for your first time. Without having someone travelling with you you really have no choice than to step outside your awkward comfort zone and do these things by yourself, which brings me to point two…

dessertforone~Dessert for one!

2) You will gain independence and confidence

The more meals you eat by yourself, or metro maps you decipher by yourself, or airports you sit in by yourself, the more independent you are making yourself. Gaining independence is so rewarding, especially as you figure out that you can do these things by yourself. Once you have your independence, you naturally will gain a lot more confidence which can benefit your not only when travelling, but in all aspects in life from finding a job to making friends and even finding love.

gelatospain~Confidence is ordering gelato completely in Spanish while in Spain and not cringing when you realise the person understood your order!

3) It is easier to make new friends

If you are an extrovert, this is probably already pretty easy for you, but even if you are a bit of an introvert (like me) then there is no better way to make friends than to travel solo. Face it, unless you are happy being by yourself 24/7 for who knows how long your trip is, making friends and having company will be much needed to break up your solo trip. Hostels around the world, and even tour groups like Contiki, Topdeck, Busabout, and Intrepid make it easy for you to travel by yourself but still be surrounded by people- a bit of a win-win if you ask me.

contikigreece~I made some life long friends on my trip to Greece with Contiki!

4) You can do what you want, when you want

To put it simply- there is no drama, but all the flexibility. If you don’t want to get out of bed until mid day then you don’t have to! If you don’t want to go see that over-hyped tourist icon then you don’t have to! If you don’t want to spend your hard earned cash on a night out then you don’t have to! The point is, travelling by yourself means you don’t need to make compromises with the people you are travelling with and there is no reason to feel guilty by doing what you want because there is no one to please but yourself.

baliroomservice~Room service for dinner- don’t mind if I do!

5) You can always rely on the kindness of strangers

While often it is true that there are “safety in numbers”, it is also true that people are going to be less intimidated by one person than by 2 or 3 or more. Basically, being by yourself makes you more approachable. That bar tender is more likely to give you that drink on the house if you’re chilling by yourself. It is more likely that that kind stranger will offer to help you with your 25kg+ backpack you are lugging up the stairs or down the street if you are by yourself. People will be more inclined to stop and ask you if you need help with directions if you are standing on the street with a map looking puzzled all on your lonesome. Sometimes it even pays to be travelling by yourself as you are more likely to get airline or hotel upgrades when travelling solo.

legroommh~Extra legroom on a 12 hour flight with Malaysian Airlines goes down a treat

These are some of my favourite reasons for travelling solo- what are yours? Comment below for why you do or don’t like solo travel! 

Happy Travelling 🙂

Kat x

Zhangjiajie, China with Enjoy Going Tours

Zhangjiajie (pronounced Jang – Jar – Jay) is located in the Hunan Province, about 1000km (1 hour flight) north-west of Guangzhou, China. It is surrounded by huge scenic mountains which make up several different national parks within Zhangjiajie. Each morning, as a way to welcome travelers and bring good luck to those travelling through, fireworks are set off in the near distant mountains all around which is just one of many beautiful things about this city. Continue reading Zhangjiajie, China with Enjoy Going Tours

10 reasons to visit Australia!

Many of you are probably aware that I am a fair-dinkum, true blue, Koala cuddling Australian. In answer to some of many of the hilarious questions I get while travelling abroad… no I do not have a pet kangaroo, no I don’t want to throw another shrimp on the “barbie” and yes I do have the internet at my house 😉 Continue reading 10 reasons to visit Australia!

Pullman Hotel Legian Nirwana- Bali

The Pullman Hotel chain has a reputation for being extraordinary, and The Pullman Bali (Legian Nirwana), located right in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Legian, right on the border of Kuta and across the road from the beach,  is no exception. Continue reading Pullman Hotel Legian Nirwana- Bali

Hard Rock Hotel- Bali

As soon as I arrived at the Hard Rock Hotel in Bali I was greeted with a hello and a smile, which had the hotel off to a great start. Apart from the great atmosphere and friendly staff, the first thing I noticed about Hard Rock hotel was how fun and welcoming it felt. Everything is modern, bright and chic, while still keeping in with the original theme of Hard Rock! Continue reading Hard Rock Hotel- Bali

My guide to Bali

Appropriately named the Island of The Gods, Bali is your quintessential holiday location.  The Island of Bali is one of over 17, 000 islands located in the Indonesian Archipelago.  Bali  is both rich in culture and relaxing beauty. Continue reading My guide to Bali

Packing tips to live by!

Some people find it a little too easy to pack their bags for a trip, others (like me) tend to struggle with packing no matter how rushed or far in advance they start. Over the years, and the many “packs” I have had to do, I like to think that I have created a pretty good algorithm for my packing that allows me to pack what I need and utilise the limited space I have. Continue reading Packing tips to live by!

Bitten by the travel bug.

Personally, one of the worst things about travelling is the holiday ending and then you’re back to square one- planning and saving for your next trip. I have diagnosed myself with a serious case of the travel bug.. so many places to see.. so little time (and funds)! Continue reading Bitten by the travel bug.