So, the newbie traveller’s travels have come to an end, for now! Here are my after thoughts:
I am looking through my blogs that I wrote before my time away and am basing this blog on my experience, bringing it full swing to my original post- how I can help people who have not been backpacking before and a summary of my travels.
Backpack– having a good backpack was one of the most essential items to have. I cannot stress this enough. Get it right for you and invest in a good quality one! Many people I met had bags that were cheaper and were falling apart. Which brings me to my next item- I was told to bring duct tape but actually if you have a good quality bag then you shouldn’t be needing it. I certainly didn’t.
Trek towel and and a silk sheet– wow were they useful. The towel was super needed in a hostel where towels were only for hiring and not provided. It was also good because it was really absorbent and dried quickly- useful if you are not in a place for too long. The silk sheet was useful for all those times I did not feel safe from bed bugs or any other lingering insects. I am pleased to say though that none of these bugs had any affect on me. Though that doesn’t mean to say I didn’t encounter them through other people’s stories.
Jabs and malarone– hmm this is a tricky one because I didn’t become ill, apart from a cold, once. Of course, I wasn’t in somewhere like the amazon though. The malarone was very expensive and speaking to other people, they just bought some for when they felt like they needed it, which was also never. I also found that malarone gave me vivid dreams which is a side effected for some people. Would I buy it again? Probably, but not as a daily subscription. Jabs are all pretty handy to have for the future so I can never say they weren’t useful. I think the key here is to be vigorous with your mosquito repellent, though some places like in some Thai islands, it’s so touristy that I think the mosquitoes are immune to our creams so we were all eaten alive by them! Also beware of high DEET oils, I had a high concentration one and it irritated my skin to the point I threw it all out.
Other medicines– Compeed plasters are amazing. Though I was pretty much in flipflops most of my travels, blister plasters are really handy, particularly this brand. Other medicines that I brought- like for stomach problems etc, I didn’t find I needed that much. I know though that, just my luck, if I didn’t have them, I would have needed them!
Hostels vs Hotels debate– Hotels are lovely and are great if you aren’t travelling and made of millions! So hostels were pretty much used for most of my travels. What I discovered with them was that they are not the stereotypes that you would assume, if you have never been to one. They are actually clean, some include a decent breakfast and are very much sociable. They have events including pub crawls, movie nights and tours. Yes, most of the time you will no doubt be sharing with one, or even two, great big whopper of a snorer but if you are travelling by yourself, it really is the best way to meet people.
My stay in New Orleans was a hotel and although it was a much needed break from staying in hostels and I enjoyed my own space and time keeping, not having to disturb people if you come in late or be woken up by people or vice versa, I didn’t really meet anyone there. I think in general, hostels can be quite fun if you are travelling but definitely book yourself into a hotel once in a while, it is very much worth it!
Diary keeping/blogs– ok so I thought I would make a note of this since I definitely have experience in it! I kept up my blog, writing a new entry throughout, every time I went to a new place which in some cases was every other day which would mean writing an entry to that pace! Wow, was it hard work but was so worth it. Some girls that I did a tour with in South East Asia though, would ask me what we did three weeks beforehand and the honest answer would be- I don’t know. If you are going to do a blog/diary- keep it up! It will be so worth it at the end when you have your memories all written down at the time you had them and not later when you barely remember being there!
Airlines– Each flight I took was with a different airline. So I thought I would write my thoughts about some of them that stood out. Lets see, these are the airlines I flew with: Qatar, Jet Asia, Lao Airlines, Ethopian, Cathar, EVA, Virgin America, United, Delta and Virgin Atlantic. Some were great, like Virgin America! It gives you free drinks with the small tv screens on the seat above with cool lighting in the plane whilst you sit on a comfortable leather seat. My flight was one hour! I am not so sure I would find the same service with European service providers. Hmm some others, like Ethopian Airlines, I found not quite to the best standard but ah well it got me from A to B. I did enjoy my Hello Kitty flight from Tokyo to Taipei where everything- my tickets, sign at check, the cutlery, pillows, air stewardesses’ aprons and the plane itself were all Hello Kitty branded. Though I am no fan of Hello Kitty, it was so bizarre that it was actually pretty cool. Sadly, though my transfer flight from Taipei to San Francisco was not Hello Kitty branded.
Favourite and least favourite places– favourites would definitely be Hoi An for its charm, Japan in general for its staggering amount of stunning cherry blossom trees, its bullet trains and sushi, San Fransisco for its coolness, New Orleans for its music and uniqueness in America, San Diego for its silk and beach and Lao for its not so touristy areas and its AMAZING fruit shakes. There were no particular places I didn’t like but I would have to say that sometimes it’s the people that make the memories and not the places. So for that reason, I would say Washington would be up there for one of my favourite places for the people I met and equally for the opposite reasons it would be Ngh Trang (though great for snorkelling) for my run in with my tour leader and Koh Phangan for one of the worst nights out I have had in a good few years!
And finally, what’s next for Diary of a Newbie Traveller – well I have emailed my work to confirm that I am indeed still coming back to work and also to ensure I have a job to come back to! So, tomorrow I will start work after a good few months of “bumming” around the world (or at least some of it!) and funnily enough, though I will never miss the rush hour of the London Underground, I have come to see that it is the most unique transport system in the world. No other place I have seen has the combination of a fantastic train network with the uniqueness of the tubes itself- the design and colour. Most other metro systems seem to be the template of a New York subway (though in some places, cleaner!).
Where is my next destination hit list? One of my lasting impressions that I have had of my travels is how much of Europe I have not seen and seeing as I am from England, it is not so much of a travel for me to do but it is funny that I had to travel half way across the world and have these countries out of my system, at least for the time being, to make me now start to think closer to home.
So without much more to say, I want to thank all my readers out there who have followed me from the beginning and others who have done so during my travels. Until my next big trip, this is Diary of a Newbie Traveller signing it….for now!