18 life lessons travelling has taught me

Travelling and backpacking are becoming popular, I began travelling after I graduated University in 2013 and have officially caught the bug, I have lived in 4 countries and visited 28 countries.

Travelling isn’t just about the places you visit or sights you see. I have learnt so much travelling, maybe even learnt more than in my time in education. These are some of the things I have learnt;

1) Don’t be scared of failure

Everyone is scared to fail, failing class, work, family, friends or relationships, it’s completely normal, everyone has ambitions and dreams which they want to achieve. Travelling has taught me you learn the most when you get something wrong, learn from your mistakes. When travelling can fail, miss a flight, take a wrong turn into a sketchy area, lose a possession or drinking too much you don’t remember how you got home. It’s ok to do all these things, missing a flight may lead on to a new destination or experience. Everything happens for a reason, failing makes you stronger and makes you learn new things. You shouldn’t not do things because you are scared something will go wrong, what if it works out, if you don’t try you will never know.

2) Learn from others

I have met a large number of people from all over the world, everyone has different experiences, cultures and knowledge. These are the greatest people to learn from, maybe one of your new friends has been to your next destination and can tell you the good places to visit. Christmas in different countries is one of the most surprising things I learnt whilst travelling. Everyone picks up different experience or knowledge and travelling is a great way to learn about customs and traditions in other countries aside from the country I am visiting.

3) Take risks

Travelling is taking a risk within it’s self, many people will never travel, people don’t like change. I have learnt that the greatest rewards are on the other side of fear. When someone makes the decision to go travelling they have already set themselves aside from the norm, they have already taken a risk, but this is only the start. I found taking risks a much easier process once travelling, the decision whether or not to undertake an activity, was definitely made easier by the thought that I may never get this opportunity again. Once you start thinking this way it transfers into every aspect of your life, even back home. This can become a very beneficial skill to have in all aspects of life, such as; taking a risk with a job, relationships, purchases or just activities.

4) Take Opportunities 

Life is all about taking opportunities when they are presented to you, opportunities are rare, most people don’t make the most of opportunities; maybe it’s not the right time, maybe they aren’t ready, they don’t want things to change or they don’t see the potential in them. Travelling presents opportunities everyday; to do an activity, meet people or visit a place. Travelling has taught me to make the most of every opportunity as it may never happen again, it is the right time, it will be fun, every opportunity I have taken in life has lead me to this point, shaped my life allowed me to discover new things and given me memories.

5) Make Friends

Travelling has taught me that friends are important, travelling is more fun with friends, it’s no fun doing something exciting if you don’t have anyone to share memories with. Travelling has given me friends all over the world, the people you meet travelling are special friends, they never knew you growing up, but they share the same interests as you, they are travelling which in turn makes them a certain type of person! Someone you may have many things in common with, same personality, interests an way of thinking. Not everyone travels so the people who do are special, they have experiences similar to your own, the thing about travellers is they always want to make friends. You tend to become better friends with other travellers quicker than usual friends, you are sharing experiences and memories that will last a lifetime, you both shared this part of your life together and you will never forget it.

6) The greatest rewards are outside your comfort zone

This statement is 100% true, having the willingness to step outside your comfort zone will reward you with new experiences, new opportunities, knowledge and many other things. Many people are scared to step outside their comfort zone, experience new things, take a risk or step into the unknown. How do you ever know what’s out there if you don’t experience it, how do you know you won’t like it. Travelling has taught me not to be afraid of the unknown, the unknown could be better than reality, how do you know if you don’t try.

7) The world is small

Travelling has shown me how small the world is, take a three hour plane ride from most places and be in a completely different culture, country and environment. Technology has made the world small, the ability to talk to someone across the other side of the world instantly, hop on a plane or even make a phone call for free.

8) Its ok to miss people

Missing people is part of travelling, you have to leave your loved ones to embark on your adventures. When you are busy doing adventurous activities you don’t think about anything except the moment but when you are alone in your hostel room or alone for dinner, it’s ok to miss people. That’s part of travelling, growing up discovering yourself on your own. Having to think of everything no one to help you, it’s all part of the experience!

9) Its ok to have the time of your life

Like wise it’s ok to miss people it’s also ok to have a good time when people are at home. Don’t not do things because you are scared of what people at home might think learn to do things for you. Have the time of your life, drink too much, stay out all night, dance into the early hours, do things that your friends won’t believe are true, have fun and make memories.

10) Everything at home will be the same

You go back to the place you grew up but something’s changed, everything at home is exactly the same but you are completely different. You have changed you realised your home town is a tiny bubble in the world, opportunity and knowledge have changed you. Everyone is happy to see you and you are happy to see them, they ask you about your travels and you have no idea how to sum it up. They won’t be interested in the random night out you had in Thailand and unlike your travel friends who have lived through it with you, your home friends don’t care. The people in your home town have moved forward with their lives but in a different way you have! They maybe taking about families, babies or partners and all you want to talk about is that one time in… Although you are still friends and still share your memories.

11) Take time to actually see

In everyday life everyone is so busy, going from place to place, watching TV, glued to their phones that sometimes we forget to actually see our surroundings. Take in the view, enjoy time spent with people, actually see life. Travelling presents the opportunity to actually see, forget the TV, only use your phone when connected to wifi, actually talk, meet people and live. Travelling moves you away from society and media which I believe is the greatest reward, to actually see and live life is the greatest gift.

12) Have fun

Travelling taught me to have fun and laugh, not too get carried away with getting the best job, focus on the negative or gossip. Travelling let’s you live, travelling made me laugh, I didn’t realise how much I didn’t laugh until I went travelling and found myself laughing everyday. People sometimes get so caught up in life that they forget to live, forget to have fun, forget to forget about the world and forget to do fun things. Travelling has presented me with lots of what is my life moments and how did I get here moments, these are the moments we live for, the moments we will remember and tell as stories in the future.

13) Don’t worry so much

I used to be a worrier, I would worry about who I was going to sit next to at lunch in high school, walking into an unfamiliar place to meet someone or what was going to happen next. Travelling has made me become more laid back, go with the flow, not worry about who I was going to meet, just let things happen the way they are meant to be. I realised I spent so much time worrying about what people think, meet people and everything in general that sometimes I forgot to have fun. I couldn’t see what was in front of me, instead I would worry about what may never happen. I have had so much fun by just saying yes and not worrying, saying ok instead of waiting and thinking and taken in some beautiful landscapes instead of worrying about where I was going to eat for dinner.

14) Material items don’t matter

For the best part of 3 years I have lived with 23kg as my only possessions, a suitcase with the same clothes, same shoes and same personal items. I found something strange when I returned home to my wardrobes full of clothes and bedroom full of possessions, I still wore my 23kg of clothes and didn’t touch my wardrobe or bedroom full of things. I realised I was and everyone is materialistic, worrying about whether they had the newest iPhone, news designer bag or most recent shoes. Now every time I go shopping and see clothes etc I think that’s half a plane ticket, a meal in Thailand or a nights stay in Colombia. I leant material things don’t matter, you can get so caught up in buying the best things, then a year or even six months later you don’t like that top you brought, there is a new iPhone and so on.

15) Interesting people have great stories to tell

Travellers have great stories to tell, stories about their previous travels, home towns and general experiences. I find talking to other travellers fascinating and you realise the more you travel the more stories you have to tell, you become the person with great stories and experiences.

16) Keeping a diary is important

Keeping a diary is the best thing I ever did whilst travelling especially for long term travel, you will remember the main points but you won’t remember every detail you did everyday for a period of 6 months. Bringing back great memories ensure you never forget anything.

17) Live life for you

Travelling let’s you decide your future, when you are alone and away from your major influencers, you make decisions for yourself. You decide where to travel to next, how long you are going to be away for, what you are going to do tomorrow. Travelling may even allow you to decide what you are going to do for the rest of your life, let you make decisions which best suit you.

18) Home is only a plane ride away

The most important thing I learnt whilst travelling is that home is only a plane ride away, if something goes wrong or you are unhappy, you can be home in a day. No need to put up with things you don’t like, trouble or problems. You can always go home and everything will be ok!

Top 40 things to do in Louisiana

For the majority of tourists, their reason to visit Louisiana is to go to New Orleans and party on the streets or see the famous Mardi Gras parade. This post is designed to show that there are many more things you can do in Louisiana:

  • Walk around News Orleans – French Quarter, Bourbon Street and Canal Street, Jackson Square, Artist stalls
  • Party in Bourbon Street, New Orleans
  • Watch a parade in New Orleans (Mardi Gras – February, Easter – Easter Sunday, St Patrick’s Day – March, Halloween – October, there’s a parade for pretty much every other major holiday in New Orleans)
  • Eat a king cake for Mardi Gras – February
  • Go to Jazz Fest New Orleans (two weekends at the end of April, start of May)
  • Visit the Anglo Prison Rodeo (one weekend in April and every weekend in October)
  • Go to a Tigers Football Game and tailgate
  • Have a drink at Tsunamis rooftop bar in Baton Rouge
  • Visit False river and spend an afternoon at Sandbar
  • Walk around Lafayette
  • Take a boat trip on Lake Pontchartrain
  • Visit Louisiana’s biggest mall, the Mall of Louisiana in Baton Rouge
  • Spend a few hours at one of Louisiana’s historic Plantations
  • Spend a day playing golf – Country Club of Louisiana, The Bluffs Golf Resort, Squire Creek Country Club and TPC Louisiana
  • Buy a Beingnet at Cafe De Monde New Orleans
  • Take a trip to the bayou and go alligator spotting
  • Get a take-away Daiquiri
  • Spend a night listening to live music in Downtown Baton Rouge
  • Go to Superior Grill on a Thursday night for live music and a Margarita
  • Walk around Baton Rouge
  • Spend St Patrick’s Day at Happy’s Baton Rouge
  • Go water skiing at Bennett’s Ski School Zachary
  • Visit the Outlet Malls at Gonzales
  • Spend a Thursday night listening to music outdoors
  • Spend a Friday night at Live after 5
  • Eat hibachi at Tokyo Live in Lafayette
  • Spend St Patrick’s day at Uncle Earl’s outdoor festival
  • Watch a concert or band at L’Auberge casino
  • Visit Pat O’Briens piano bar in New Orleans
  • Watch a sporting event at LSU (Football, Baseball, Gymnastics, Basketball etc)
  • Watch a sporting event at Walk-ons
  • Listen to Jazz music in the street in New Orleans
  • Drink a Hurricane on Bourbon Street
  • Visit the Rum house and the other side of New Orleans
  • Go deep sea fishing in Grand Isle
  • Spend a weekend in Lafayette at Festival International (April)
  • Eat Cajun food (different spices)
  • Go to a crawfish boil
  • Eat lunch or dinner at Canes
  • Watch a sporting event at the Staples Centre

 

Holiday destination realities campaign by instantprint

On a recent internet search I discovered an interesting campaign by a printing company – instantprint . They have created ‘holiday destination reality’ posters using five different locations which have been heavily discussed in the news: Rio, Paris, Egypt, Benidorm and the Taj Mahal.

Instantprint have written a blog post on the posters which can be found on their website. In the article they have compared traditional posters from each destination to their new reality posters and have written a piece about why they chose each design and location.

The first poster they created is of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a popular destination this year due to the summer Olympics with a big media following due to the Zika virus and crime rates. The poster below, which instantprint has created, shows both issues with popular landmarks;the skyline of the city is made from handguns and the birds transform into mosquitos as they get higher into the sky. I think this a clever concept showing
the problems Rio has, and the perceptions some have about the city, portrayed through its most popular landmarks. Whether the city will be ready for the Olympics is something we will have to wait and see about.

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The second poster they have created is of the Taj Mahal in India.It’s one of the world’s most iconic landmarks but it has recently encountered a few problems with pollution mainly due to the heavily polluted Yamuna River. The pollution from the river is turning the landmark’s white marble a brown/yellowish colour and has created a pollution filled and smelly area. The poster instantprint have created shows the outline of the Taj Mahal with a pollution filled skyline and sewage pipe. I think the tag line, ‘A beautiful thing is never perfect’ is pretty clever, stating that everything and every place has it’s flaws.

 

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The third poster they have created is of Egypt, a country which was once thriving with tourists is now a remote area that some airlines don’t even fly into. The poster they have created still has the iconic Pyramids but shows a lonely man and his camels, which were once a big business, wandering the desert alone. The tag line they have created, ‘countries don’t disappear overnight’ is a clever play on words, stating that the country is still there and hasn’t gone anywhere even though most of the tourists have disappeared.

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The fourth poster they have created is of Benidorm, one of the most popular holiday destinations in Spain and Europe with millions taking their holidays there every year. But these holidaymakers in turn cause the holiday resort to become less attractive with bars, high rise hotels and themelves causing trouble. I like this poster because it shows that tourism can be both a benefit and burden to a destination, bringing in income but also bringing in trouble.

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The last poster they created is of Paris, the city of romance and home to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks. Yet Paris has seen tourism dramatically decrease due to November 2015’s terrorist attack. I like this poster because it shows guards watching over Paris keeping it safe and doves flying in the air, showing hope for the city.

 

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I think this campaign is unique and well thought through, giving a different perspective on popular tourist destinations including media portrayals and throughout plays on words. If you like this campaign check out the full story as well as the useful and interesting articles at instantprint.

 

7 Myths about travelling people always get wrong

Travelling has become popular over the last 5 years with more people taking gap years or just backpacking around countries. However travelling isn’t for everyone, either you have the desire to travel or you really don’t. The people who don’t travel don’t for a large number of reasons, many of these reasons are rumours, stories or media speculation. I have created this article to hopefully bust some of the myths that cause people not to travel.

1. Travelling is expensive 

Travelling is one of those things which can cost a little money or a large amount of money, it can be how expensive or cheap you wish it to be. You can stay in hostels or 5 star hotels, eat at high end restaurants or the locals’ favourite. Travelling doesn’t have to be expensive- I have been to countries and spent less money than I would if I’d have been at home.There are countries which are more expensive than others; Europe, Australia and the Caribbean are expensive but Asia, Central and South America are significantly cheaper.

There are a number of ways in which you can travel for free; you can take a job working abroad and the company will pay for your travel, accommodation and meals (check out my blog post on a beginners guide to getting a job abroad for more information). You can also collect points and airline miles, the majority of travel companies offer an incentive for using their services. These points may give you free nights accommodation, free flights and other offers.
2. Travelling is dangerous 

I’m not about to say travelling isn’t dangerous because it can be, it can be dangerous when you haven’t done research on an area or when you are unprepared or not thinking clearly. Travelling can be really safe if you know the places not to visit, the parts of town which are dangerous, and if you keep your wits about you and don’t flash your person items to everyone on the street. Research and knowledge is the key to safe travelling, so make sure you prepare fully and you will be perfectly safe.
3. Travelling is a waste of time

Travelling is definitely not a waste of time, travelling teaches you about the world and different cultures and allows you to see opportunities you may not have known before. Travelling is also a good way to set your cv apart from others as it shows independence, communication skills, adaptability and many other skills. Travelling gives you opportunities to network, shows you different jobs available and lets you discover new ways of doing things.
4. I can’t do it

Everyone can travel, there’s no reason anyone shouldn’t be able to. People say they can’t travel usually because they don’t want to, the desire to and the ability to do something are two separate things. Many people don’t want to travel and have no desire to do it, which is fine, people have different interests and passions and not everyone is the same. Everyone has the opportunity to travel whether they take the opportunity or not is a different story.

5. Travelling alone is scary and lonely

Travelling alone can be scary and lonely but it can also be the best time, full of new friends. Everyone travelling wants to make friends, share experiences and have fun. It is easy to make friends travelling, in hostels, bars and other places everyone is looking for new friends and will talk to you. Travelling can be lonely but it can also be rewarding for you to spend sometime alone, to think independently and gain a new outlook on life.
6. I can’t travel alone because I’m a girl

Everyone can travel, there are very few countries which are unsafe for females to travel to alone but, as I said before, travelling is as safe as you make it, if you do your research you can be perfectly safe whether male or female and you will make friends easily so you won’t really be on your own.

7. I can’t leave my family, partner, friends or hometown 

Many people don’t have the desire to travel because they are scared to leave their loved ones which is perfectly fine. Some people like home comforts and their family around them but that shouldn’t be an excuse not to travel, everyone will still be there when you get back. Nothing will have changed and if they truly are your loved ones they would want you to go on adventures and explore the world.

So there you have it, everyone has the opportunity to travel and everyone should travel! Travelling isn’t scary, expensive or lonely, it can be cheap, fun and life changing. Want to kick start your travelling adventure follow this link for a chance to win a tour of your choice and get discounts off Life Before Work’s tours.

 

Prado Colombia, the ultimate weekend getaway

I have been residing in Bogota, Colombia for just over three weeks now and I am getting along very well in the city but when a friend asked me if I wanted to go to Prado for a long weekend I jumped at the chance.

Prado is a small piece of paradise located around 4 hours drive south of Bogota. It is a small town a short distance from a huge lake and dam, the lake is surrounded by properties and provides the ideal spot for a large number of sporting activities.

I stayed in a friend’s house but there are a number of small hotels around the lake. The properties around the lake can only be reached by boat but each hotel has a number of boats available for transportation and hire.

What makes Prado ideal is its climate, it has an average temperature of around 30 – 40c all year round, making it the perfect destination anytime of the year.

There are many activities available around the lakes, we went out in a boat and did a lot of water skiing, wake boarding and wakesurfing in the warm waters. We also drove the boat around exploring the hidden caves, followed a picturesque pathway around the lakes and found cliff diving spots.

There is a mountain located just across the water from the local village which has a hiking trail. We climbed up to the top of the mountain to admire the amazing lake and mountain views from all around.

Like other Colombian towns, locals in Prado have their own speciality dishes-one around the area of Prado is called Lechona, which is basically what we in England would call a hog roast, a pig cooked on a rotisserie, with crackling and the meat inside. The difference between Lechona and an English hog roast is that Colombian’s put rice, potato and seasonings inside the pig before it’s cooked creating a delicious mixture of pork, rice and potato. It’s definitely worth a try.

Prado is  a dream mini vacation spot and although it is located just four hours outside of the city, it provides a breath-taking contrast to city life. It’s hard to believe you are in the centre of Colombia with beautiful locations like Prado around.