The Ultimate Guide To Cheaper Travel

Lately, I have received so many messages on Instagram asking me how I afford to travel so much and I want to help you by giving you some tips and advice. You don’t need to be rich to travel. My parents told me it was different years ago, but now we are so fortunate with the airlines, that we usually hold negative attitudes towards.

Since this question comes up so often, I like to constantly remind people of this fact:

You do not need to be rich to travel.

Let’s repeat that.

You do not need to be rich to travel cheap!

Last year, I quit my permanent job and decided to travel the world.  I sure wasn’t rich but I did everything I wanted to do and had the trip of a lifetime. I had an average-paying teaching job (we all know teaching doesn’t pay well) the year before I left for my trip. It wasn’t a lot after taxes.

Yet I managed to save enough to travel the world. How? I made it a priority. If travel is not a priority for you, you will always find some other things to spend money on and you’ll never have “enough” money to travel. I never have enough money to go shopping or buy a new the latest phone, Mac or iPad. I do unfortunately had a passion for fashion but I am lucky that blogging has supported me in not spending as much on clothes as I use to.

I now spend my money on flights, so there isn’t much left over and when there is, I ensure I save everything. My moto lately is ‘if I don’t have four times that amount in my savings I can’t afford it’, if I’m buying a dress that is 25 pound I make sure I have 100 pound in my savings. Luckily, I have more but there was a time when I didn’t save at all.

Saving

It has taken me a good 24 years to comprehend the importance of saving! It will be the day where something imminent happens in your life such as having to leave a job over a family situation or for health reasons etc and not having enough money to survive that you will realise how important saving is. You always need to ask yourself, if I left my job tomorrow would I have enough money to live for 3 months and you should always withhold yourself in a position that you can be financially independent if a situation were to occur. Sounds pessimistic but you don’t want to find out the hard way 🙂

Now it is important to think about the following; what is your savings priority? Is it travel?

If it is travel, what is keeping you from saving money? What are you spending it on?

Last week, I wrote about how essential it is to keep a spreadsheet of your income and expenses and offered ten tips on how to cut out unnecessary expenditure to save money for your trip.

“But Zweena, I work a minimum wage job/am a student/live on Social Security/live with my parents/spend a lot/have kids/have to pay a lot of rent and no matter what I can do, I’ll never be able to do it. I can’t even pay back my student loans. What do I do?”

Do you feel that way? Well continue reading!

The Cheapest Way To Travel The World

What do you do when prioritising your budget and using my 10 tips to grow your bank balance won’t even work? There are many ways to earn money while you travel to enable you to live more freely.

You need to remember you don’t need to be stinking rich to travel!! Hallelujah I know!! I am going to tell you all the ways you can travel the world for virtually free. Our culture /nationality don’t use these methods as much as other nationalities. How do I know? Conversations I’ve had around the world!! You don’t need to rob the bank to begin! Even if you owe money, pay 1/4 of your wages towards rent, there are always ways to do what you desire! As a working class group, we get into a routine of work dinner sleep and become settled with our finances. We should be striving to earn more, work harder during our spare time to earn more cash to do what we desire, especially if you express one of the above excuses of not having enough dolla in your bank!

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Follow the below guide to travel frugality and see the world, it’s cheap as chips matey!!

Work overseas — Want to travel? Can’t afford it and don’t want to spend ages saving money? Get a job on a cruise ship or as a cabin crew member if you would like to travel more frequently. The other option is to work in a new location overseas and travel around that country until you move to the next location. Some job examples are below:

  • Au pair
  • Bartender
  • Hostel worker – usually free or discounted accommodation (although this rule is changing in Australia)
  • Teacher in Dubai/Abu Dhabi
  • Waitress/waiter
  • Farm worker (very popular in Australia and New Zealand- but very difficult!! )
  • Dive instructor (some certification required)
  • Tour guide
  • Cruise ship worker
  • Casino worker
  • Seasonal worker at ski resorts
  • Yacht worker
  • Gardener – popular while on a J1 in America and usually cash paying!

Obviously, there are always pros and cons to the above jobs and life isn’t always rosy as you would imagine it to be. You will without a doubt be homesick for the first while until you settle. However, working overseas often gets discounted as an option because it seems hard to do. It’s not. Just be open. These are the jobs you don’t always Are you going to get some high-paying office job? No. If you have a degree and qualifications, it would make sense to work in your preferred field! But working in the jobs above are suitable for backpackers hoping to have a good time and meet like-minded people. Will you get a shitty, low-wage job that will pay all your travel bills? Yes! I’ve met people from all walks of life, both from Western and non-Western countries, funding their travels this way.

Hitchhike — A free way to get around destinations that is relatively safe (depending on certain aspects like do you have a travel partner?) and quite common in many parts of the world, including Central America, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. I’ve met plenty people who traveled the whole of New Zealand for free by hitchhiking. Hitchhiking in New Zealand was a lot more popular in comparison to other countries I’ve been to.

Teach English overseas — You can complete a 50 hour TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) online which is very manageable if you have a busy lifestyle. One of the best ways to make money for travel is to teach English overseas. Many people travel to Asia to teach English all you need is the ability to speak English fluently and some sort of TEFT certificate but requirements are different per organisations. The world is yearning for teachers, and this is a job in high demand; many companies in Asia will even pay for your flight over!

Get free flights — There are so many ways to earn free flights, I hate when people tell me they can’t afford to fly. Sign up for a few travel credit cards, collect miles, and then fly for free. Most cards offer sign-up bonuses of 50,000 points — and if you sign up for both an airline card (think a United airlines card) and a general rewards card like the Chase Sapphire or AMEX card, you can combine the two point balances and get a cheap flight faster.

Can’t sign up for credit cards? There are many ways to increase your mileage balance without credit cards. Three high-impact ways are:

  • Watch out for deals — I sign up for all the airline mailing lists. I always watch out for special 2-for-1 miles deal, or when they have special card offers to get extra miles. United Airlines just gave me 1,000 miles for watching a demo on their new shopping toolbar. I once got triple miles by buying some clothes from Gap just by seeing it in their mailing list. That doesn’t even utilize all the special bonus offers airlines have on cars, restaurants, and hotels.
  • Shop at their member stores — All airlines have special offers with all the big stores: Amazon, Apple, Best Buy, Target, etc. Shopping at those preferred stores will earn you 2–4 miles per dollar spent, sometimes even more. If you spend $1,000 a month, you can earn up to 3,000 miles just by going through their websites. The products don’t cost extra. I do all my shopping through the airline malls simply for the extra miles.
  • Put everything on the card — I pay nothing in cash. I put everything on my card, from Pret a Manger (which I go to every 2nd day) to phone bills.

Stay with locals for free–  I have never tried it but met many people who have! There are many services that connect travelers with locals who are willing to let them stay with them for FREE. Using this site you will never have to pay for accommodation. I know so many people who have couchsurfed- some have warned me of their bad experiences and some were fine. Others had to leave the house because they ended up staying with nutjobs!!  I’ve seen some facebook groups for travel lovers who have offered their couch for the night for a small price, checking a person out on facebook always feels more reassuring than arriving to uncertainty.

Mountain climbs or Free walking tours — Most cities I’ve been to offer them! I bet you top dollar you will be in a walking tour with young backpackers as they all know the tricks of the trade! Want to learn about the city, get your bearings, and see the major sights? Take a free walking tour. You can find them in 90% of the major cities in Europe, and there are also a few in large Asian cities, South America, New York, Australia, and New Zealand. To find these tours just google free walking tours. I did the tour in Sydney and it was very useful!

WOOFing — Working on a farm will get you free room and board, while allowing you to commune with the great outdoors.

Hostel Worker- Research this before you travel, some hostels offer free accommodation in exchange for a reduced rate of pay! Although, I have heard of a few hostels changing this rule, it is worth searching forums and ringing up beforehand to save time while you are abroad.

Using the sharing economy – You can find cheaper accommodation, tour guides, rideshare options, and home-cooked meals with local chefs. These are all options that you don’t think about unless you are told, apart from the obvious airbnb as we all know of them now! You can bypass the traditional travel industry with sharing economy websites and gain access to locals using their own assets and skills to become small tourism companies with cheaper prices.

Airbnb (accommodation)
Vayable (tours)
BlaBlaCar (ridesharing)
EatWith (meals)

House-sit — Can’t afford your vacation? Watch someone’s house while they go on theirs.

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Cook your meals — The best way to save money on the road is to cook all your own meals. I really am not fussy when it comes to eating and would happily have noodles for lunch/dinner, these were 13p in Australia and that was my lunch sorted. Although Im not a dietitian, I can’t give advice on that and it is important to have a healthy dinner but needs must while backpacking! I would much prefer to save that extra money for an excursion that a fancy dinner. Luckily, I always could afford to eat out if I wanted to but if you are on an extremely tight budget like other backpackers in my room were, then it really does make sense to cook your meals. You don’t have to do the typical, oven cooking experience. Grab some sausages, burgers etc and find an outdoor BBQ like you see me doing in the picture above. Outdoor BBQ are very popular in Australia!!

Saving Money before you Travel!

Get rail passes — Booking ahead of time can usually save you about 50% of the cost of a train ticket, but if you don’t want to be tied into a fixed schedule, rail passes can save you a lot of money. Booking your rail pass in advance can save you up to 70%!

Sleep in large dorms — Large hostel dorm rooms are the cheapest paid accommodation out there. If Couchsurfing isn’t your thing, this is your next best way to save money on a place to sleep.

Use student and other discount cards — Are you a student, teacher, or under 26? Welcome to the world of 50%-off attractions and a plethora of discounts. Get a student/teacher/youth card and save big!

Get city tourist cards — If you plan on seeing a lot of sights in a city, you should get a city tourism card, which offers you discounted and free access to the major attractions and museums, as well as free public transportation.

Skyscanner– Using skyscanner to search for the cheapest month/date to travel to your dream destination always helps. Sometimes airlines make mistakes on flight prices and there are travel hacks to discover these deals too, which help me out from time to time! Kayak is also a good search engine to discover the cheaper flight deals.

Walking- Yes, I know its an obvious one, but we are so prone to just hopping on and off a bus. In Singapore, my friend and I were going to do just that but instead we decided to get the hop off hop off bus map and walk it instead! By doing this we got to experience destinations off the beaten track!

Please comment below if you thought this was useful! It would be great to know!

Zweena x

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East Coast Of Australia Itinerary

Before arriving to Australia we visited so many other countries so I didn’t plan too much beforehand, I just knew the main spots that I wanted to visit and enjoyed each day as it came. It all worked out very well! I put that down to travelling with Greyhound Australia and meeting like-minded backpackers along the way to gain advice and travel tips. I traveled to 8 different countries during my trek around the world and the East Coast of Australia is still etched in my mind and I am dying to return as soon as possible. If I was you I would book your KM pass down the coast with Greyhound before you travel to Australia, that way it will give you much more of an idea of how much spending money you have left.

Australia is blessed with a range of natural wonders, friendly people and, in my opinion, is one of the best places for a backpacking adventure. I made friends in Australia the day I landed, there is always such a warm vibe in the hostels I stayed in!

As I had the BEST time travelling from Cairns to Melbourne, I thought I would put together an ultimate itinerary for backpacking along the East Coast of Australia which lists not only the highlights but also my top tips, some off beat places to visit as well as including my favourite backpacker hostels. Unfortunately, I didn’t include Frazer Island in this review as we spent 1 day on the island and had to return due to Cyclone Debbie! Another reason for me to return to Australia. The sunshine coast is another place you could visit but we just didn’t go there as we wanted to spend a week in Sydney! Although we did visit Noosa which is a coastal hub to the Sunshine coast, so I guess we did visit part of it! I included the recommended amount of time I think you should stay in each location. It’s just a guide and hopefully it will help you!

Budget: At least AUD$100 (£60) per day

Most backpackers start their adventures in Melbourne and travel their way up to Cairns. We did one day in Melbourne and flew to Cairns. Our travel advisor at STA Travel told us to do it that way but if I was you. Definitely Start in Melbourne, don’t book any flights up along the coast (like we did) because then we are restricted if you are enjoying somewhere, meet friendly people and want to stay longer! As we traveled down the coast people were coming to the end of their journey and you could compare the energy levels. We were upbeat and beginning our adventure and they were winding down. This wasn’t the case for the whole trip but we did notice it for a few days at the beginning.

Don’t forget to book your accommodation package before you go to make life so much easier!! YHA Australia offer a pre-purchased accommodation package and you save so much money if you buy it! They will have you covered in all the places you want to visit below! I’ve placed the prices below for you!

7 NIGHTS$225.00                10 NIGHTS$315.00                          15 NIGHTS$430.00
21 NIGHTS$625.00              28 NIGHTS$829.00

 

When we got to Cairns we popped into Liam Poyser in Greyhound Travel Agents, he was so helpful and was surprised at the fact we had flights booked. He told us we should try and cancel them and travel all the way down with Greyhound as it will be a much more smooth experience! We learnt that the hard way but we wanted to ensure we saw as much as possible in 3 weeks. Ring Greyhound and ask to speak to Liam, he will put you at ease and sort everything for you!

The Greyhound bus pass we bought was the 2500 KM for $419 which will bring you from Cairns to Melbourne!

Melbourne – 3 nights 

We flew into Melbourne from Bali so we were literally exhausted and looked like we had been run over by buses with about 5 hours sleep! We sorted out our transfers when we arrived to the airport, there is a desk outside the terminal building Still determined to see Melbourne we dropped our bags into YHA hostel. Getting to YHA from Melbourne Airport is easy, you catch the Skybus to Southern Cross Station and the Skybus Terminal. The hostel is a short walk from Southern Cross Station. Exit the station and go right down Spencer St. Turn left on to Flinders St and the hostel will be on your left.

We didn’t spend long in Melbourne but in hindsight now we are sorry we didn’t spend an extra 2 days there. We used the hop on hop off bus and saw most of the city and made it our business to go to St Kildas which was about a 30 minute train journey from the centre of Melbourne.

Cairns – 3 nights 

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We stayed 5 nights in Gilligans Hostel in Cairns. Gilligans is THE place for young backpackers and there is a different theme party there everynight, it’s so lively and every night never failed to impress. We met so many people there and the staff were so friendly. If I was you I wouldn’t stay anywhere else.  As lovely as Cairns was, 5 nights here was probably too long! I had itchy feet on day 4. Cairns is full of life, most people hang out at the lagoon which is massive and has such a nice vibe.

On day one in Cairns, the first thing we did was booked some excursions and Uncle Brians Tour to see all the waterfalls was at the top of our list and get that Peter Andre experience. As I mentioned earlier, we went into Greyhound and booked, Uncle Brians, Whitsunday tour and Frazer Island Tour. We were a little disappointed with our Whitsunday boat, the tour was absolutely fantastic but the staff on board our boat even told us they didn’t want to be there. If I was you I would book with Airlie Beach Day Sailing, we heard wonderful things about the staff on board and the service! Everyone I  met along the coast recommended that company but unfortunately it was too late and we had already booked.

I heard great things about the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation tour too. In Cairns, you can scuba dive/snorkle the Great Barrier Reef, we decided to wait until Whitsunday tour to do this as we wanted to save money and we could still say we did the GBR. When we did the Great Barrier Reef in The Whitsundays, so many people said it was a much better experience in comparison to Cairns as a lot of the Reef there had disappeared which is such a shame!

Make sure you check out the night markets and Rusty’s Market in Cairns, you won’t miss them! Don’t forget to look out for bats in Cairns too they cover the sky at dusk!! Never seen anything like it!, incredible!

Mission Beach – 1 or 2 nights

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The day before we left Cairns we booked our Greyhound bus and we were lucky that it wasn’t high season so it was never booked up! During the busy season just make sure you book it 2 days before. Mission beach was so pretty but we stayed in the wrong hostel. The doors wouldn’t close in our room and some people walked in during the night. Definitely stay at YHA hostel in Mission Beach! In mission beach, it’s where most people do a skydive! Make sure you visit Wongaling Beach! There were no tourists or backpackers on this beach and it was absolutely beautiful! Mission Beach, situated midway between Townsville and Cairns is made up of four beach villages linked by 14 kilometres of wide golden sands. This beautiful little beachside town, blending vibrant art and culture with unique tourism attractions, invites you to relax and unwind.

Again we hopped on the good ole reliable Greyhound bus and left our hostel in Mission Beach.

Townsville- Magnetic Island – 2 nights

I wouldn’t spend any time in Townsville if you do have a choice, there isn’t much there and its just a gateway for backpackers to get the ferry to Magnetic Island (Aka Barbie Car Island). We did spend 1 night there because we arrived late. The next morning we got a taxi to the ferry terminal and paid for our return ticket at the terminal. There are 2 hostels on Magetic Island, Base which is a big party hostel and Yha hostel which are little huts and give you a unique experience. There’s one thing for certain, the YHA Bungalow Bay Koala Village at Horseshoe Bay, is more bustling than an international airport when it comes to different ages and nationalities. It’s the kind of place you check into when you’re not afraid of making new friends on your island adventure. You’ll find every type of accommodation here from camping through to private suite. Did we mention that on Thursdays their pumping bar serves two-for-one Pina Coladas? Enough said – take our money now! YHA also is the home of the Koala Bear sanctuary, when I heard this I was instantly sold! It was the one thing I wanted to do in Australia, I mean, who doesn’t want to hold a Koala Bear? You can also visit the Koala Bears in Brisbane zoo but in Magnetic island they also you hold red tongue lizards, snakes and lots more. If you want to visit Maggie (that’s what the locals call her) in a weekend, here’s how we recommend you spend 48 fun-fuelled hours on this island, smack-bang in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef.

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  • There are 19 return trips to Magnetic Island daily with SeaLink (passengers only). An adult return will cost you $33.
  • There’s a vehicle ferry operated by Fantasea Cruising Magnetic, operating eight trips daily. An adult in a standard vehicle can expect to pay $80 each way for the trip over to the island, but prices vary according to time of year.

Airlie Beach & Whitsundays – 4 nights

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Really the number of nights here depends on whether you would like to do the Whitsunday day tour or 1/2 night tour. If I was you, I would do the day tour, you will see the same things and won’t be restricted to 1 minute showers like we were on our boat. Book your trip with Airlie beach Day sailing Tour. They will not disappoint! If I had a pound for the amount of people who advised us to book this tour, I’d be Dan Bilzarian!! There are some really nice restaurants, bars and boutiques in Airlie Beach, if your budget will allow you to stretch that far. We ate in Little Vegas Bar and Burger and Sorrento Restaurant both were divine!! The port where you will depart on your yacht for Whitehaven Bay (The top beach in the world) is about a 25 minute walk from the town so if you have an over night bag, maybe think about taking a taxi or leaving a lot earlier.

Noosa – 3 nights

I was so glad to finally make it to Noosa. Noosa is a surfer’s dream, this coastal stretch of point and beach breaks is intermingled with sheltered bays and coastline surrounded by pandanus trees. Discover the delights of Noosa Heads, the Noosa North ShoreNoosavilleTewantinPeregian Beach and Sunshine Beach. Noosa was packed with surfers, fabulous beaches and Australian holidaymakers. We stayed here for one night but it is such a relaxing area that you will want to spend more time here. It has a nice little seaside town too and a few bars and restaurants. The greyhound bus station is a bit away from the hostels, so this is the one place I would say make sure you have transport arranged! It took us a 30 minute walk in the heat to walk from the hostel on the way back! Chip in and get a taxi!

  • Walk through the Noosa National Park

If you ask anyone about what to do in Noosa, I can guarantee {unless they are an avid surfer} that the first thing they will mention is the the National Park. You can spend the whole day, or as long as you like, walking the coastal route and paths within the park and if you’re at the right time of year – whale and dolphin sightings aren’t uncommon. There’s lots of little bays and benches to take a rest on along the way so pack in lots of water, some snack and also your swimmers if you fancy a dip in the big blue!

  • Hang Out on the Main Beach

Take your surf board down or just some snacks and a beach towel and enjoy the gorgeous sands and water here in Noosa.

  • Look out for Koalas

Koala sightings aren’t unusual in Noosa so keep your eyes peeled at all times. We spotted one climbing for his dinner on the way up to Laguna Lookout in the trees.

Must Eats Noosa:

  • Taco Boy {For delicious burrito / mexican}
  • Betty’s Burgers located near the main beach {recommended by all locals}
  • 10 Hastings Street Boutique Motel + Cafe {on Hasting Street, the main street parallel to the beach}

Brisbane – 2 nights

We spent 5 nights here altogether. In Brisbane you can, cuddle one of Australia’s favourite furry marsupials at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the world’s first koala sanctuary. Ed Sheerhan has even done it! Make sure you visit China town in Brisbane it was one of the best I’ve been to. There is also plenty to do at Moreton Bay – from exploring gigantic fig trees to sandboarding to venturing on the walking trails that lead to breathtaking views of the Cape Moreton Lighthouse and Honeymoon Bay. You can also indulge in the many sea-sports from scuba-diving to snorkeling to kayaking around mysterious shipwrecks.

Byron Bay – 3 or 4 nights

Byron Bay was the most laid-back, chilled and dainty town I visited along the coast! Don’t bring your shoes to this destination if you want to fit in. I was personally in my element here as the beach was a 2 minute walk from every hostel and there was a collection of instagrammable coffee shops and a range of boutiques along the backstreets of Byron.

You can see all of Byron in a day but if you want to experience if fully and relax I would suggest 3 or 4 days. Here is the place you should take some surf lessons, the waves are even too extreme for the professionals at times so pick your day wisely.

Sydney – 5 nights

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We stayed in Sydney for a week because we just wanted to relax in the one spot as we were constantly on the move for months and I am so glad we did. Sydney was not the place to relax but the city revived our energy and we didn’t want to stay inside on our laptops watching Netflix! We were eager to make the most of our time there. We stayed in Bounce hostel in Sydney and had the best time, all the staff were really friendly and they arranged nights out together with other backpackers, so if you are a solo traveler then this is the place to go! Other options are, use your YHA accommodation pass or stay in WakeUp! hostel which is also another good option.

On day one in Sydney, we walked around and got a feel for the city. The first place I rushed to was of course, the Opera House as I had never seen it before. I advise you to spend your first day taking in breathtaking views of the city.  Head to the summit of ‘Sydney Tower Eye’ which offers views across the city to the Pacific Ocean, as well as the Blue Mountains in the west.  Make sure you go to Blue Mountain on a Sunday as travel is 2 dollars all day on a Sunday so you’ll save lots of money.

The Sydney Skywalk experience is a moving, glass-floored viewing platform which sits at the top of the Tower. I am terrified of heights and even flying from Ireland to Sydney was a massive deal for me so I didn’t do the bridge climb. If you feel up for it, book in to climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge – not only is the climb incredibly adventurous and will keep your Adrenalin pumping, but you’re greeted with spectacular views over Sydney once at the top. Remember, do not drink alcohol for 24 hours before, my friend had 1 cocktail and had to pay 260 dollars again to climb it! Not worth wasting that much money!! The bridge climb is relatively expensive – for those traveling on a budget, crossing the bridge on foot is free and offers just as spectacular views and photo opportunities which is what I did!

Sydney Harbour YHA is located right near Sydney Harbour bridge so it is in an excellent location!  It offers complimentary Wi-Fi and many hostels around Australia ask you to pay $5 a day for WIFI so at least when you visit YHA you know you’re saving money too. With views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, the hostel also provides exclusive amenities and services, including a rooftop terrace.

If you are a fan of home and away make sure you go there on either a Wednesday or Thursday, as that is when they film! We hopped off the bus in Palm Beach and a little piece of paradise! The town is instantly recognisable as Summer Bay from the Australian television series Home and Away and caused us to break into a rendition of the theme tune. ‘Closer each day, Home and Awaaayyyy…’, you know the drill! The excitement levels were very high! I was fixated in looking for ALF and James Stewart was standing right alongside me for 5 minutes and it was only when I returned to Ireland and caught up on the latest episodes that I knew who he was, major regrets!

Bondi Beach

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We also spent a day at Bondi beach, which was probably the highlight of my visit to Sydney! The waves were like nothing I’ve seen before, but make sure to swim in between the flags as we were so excited to begin with we just rushed in oblivious to that important rule, stupid I know!

Taking a cruise on Sydney Harbor should be an essential part of any Australian itinerary – Sydney is, after all, a harbor city. Cruise the harbour and get a good view of the Opera House while travelling on the ferry to Manly Island. There you will find beautiful beaches and more of a relaxed atmosphere in comparison to the busy lifestyle of Sydney. Although if you don’t want to go and visit Manly, numerous cruises are available and travelers can choose between sightseeing cruises, a dinner cruise, a dance cruise, or choose from the multitude of ferries which operate out of Circular Quay to a number of destinations within greater Sydney. Manly is home to Shelly Beach which is one of Sydney’s best spots for snorkeling.

You can also visit Cockatoo Island – a historic island now a haunted naval storage facility.  The island provides stunning views overlooking Sydney Harbour and is home to the Island bar, famous for its tropical cocktails and wood-fired pizza.

 Hope it all helps, Zweena x

Congratulations to Shaunagh Dunican and her Boyfriend for winning the Irish Travel Kid competition on my instagram page @irishtravelkid which included the following:

  • A pass from Melbourne to Cairns each
  • 1 day sailing the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef with Airlie Beach Day Sailing each
  • YHA 5 night pass each
  • 3 nights accommodation at Gilligans Hostel Cairns each

5 Most Instagrammable Places in London

I hear so many people say lately that they are “doing it for the Gram”, times have changed and trends move on quickly.  We use to all flock to the Wax Museum but now us Instagram lovers are discovering the cutest cafe shops to the nicest restaurants. There is a trend, any cafe or restaurant covered in pink decor (flowers and neon lights) is always fully booked or all over social media.  And the best part is we don’t have to pay entry prices!

 

1: Peggy Porschen Cakes

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I mean if you come you London, have you really been if you haven’t visited Peggys? Even all the London Based Boyfriends know about it! Mostly, as they have to queue outside for 20 minutes to sit outside with a blanket. If you go on a quieter day, before 11am, it will be a much nicer experience; no queuing and an indoor seat. Visited this place too many times!!

2. Elan Cafe

Go to the cafe on Brompton Road near Knightsbridge! There are 2 so don’t mix them It’s one of them pretty cafes, you know the ones. Located next to the The Dorchester. Elan Cafe has only been open a short amount of time, but they’re already packed by 9am every day. With floral walls, pretty cakes, and pink cups, this is an Instagram haven. We paid £20 for 2 coffees and red velvet cheese cakes.

3. Tonight Josesphine

London cocktail bar in Waterloo. Cocktail Happy Hour every day. Guest lists, party bookings & venue hire. Probably most known for their neon pink quote that says “well behaved women don’t make history”. I haven’t been yet but it’s on the list!

 

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4. Sanderson Hotel

I went here a few weeks ago with my friend. You might have seen it on my Instagram. We had dinner which was nice but the portions are small. The lobby area is very carefully designed. This hotel attracts a young energetic vibe.

5. Sketch

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Don’t make the mistake we made. Book Sketch GALLERY before you go. In hindsight I was glad we ended up in the tearoom parlour, we paid 5 pound each for a half cup of coffee! We also waited 20 minutes for the coffee. Try and just use their toilet facilities to take  alook around as it is so expensive in there! Oh and keep an eye out for some TV faces, we met Stacey Soloman and her boyfriend.  Where you decide to eat at Sketch will depend on your bank balance, but you get bang for your Instagram buck whichever option you choose. Sitting in the Gallery brasserie (which serves global cuisine) feels like you’re inside a pink marshmallow – with David Shrigley drawings on the walls; upstairs is the gaudily carpeted Lecture Room & Library (Michelin-starred fine dining); and then there are the woodland-themed Glade (comfort food) and the ’90s-style Parlour (same menu as the Glade). You’ll have maxed-out your memory before the food arrives. Make sure you take your phone to the loo for a not-to-be-missed photo op.

My Venice Trip !

IMG_20180120_100638_390Venice was that dream you never want to wake from. Enchanting, fascinating and drop dead gorgeous! Every corner you turn, you walk deeper into some real-life professional watercolour painting. It is everything and more that you saw while watching The Tourist featuring Angelina Jolie? (Please tell me you saw it?) It’s like no place I’ve ever been especially as there are canals intertwining throughout the whole city. Venice and Italy in general is so cultured and unique but yet Venice is incomparable to any other city in Italy. Each City has it’s own unique characteristic, Amalfi known for it’s beautiful cliff drives and beaches which encapsulates holiday makers from every part of the world! It’s fair to say you can’t flick through instagram without coming across the beautiful Italian landscapes, in particular Venice where the bright red, blue and yellow skies reflect on the town’s green rivers full of luxury beautiful gondolas. It’s almost like a maze of canals and small streets, whimsical bridges, and colourful buildings. And as with all mazes, you should prepare to find yourself lost a time or two……….which is all part of the fun and usually when you find the best parts of the city!

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Stansted Airport before our Flight

TIP: 3 days is enough time to spend in Venice,  a week would be far too long for me! Venice isn’t the place you go if you are looking for nightlife and a party trip, its relaxed and the best part of it is the scenery !

Getting There

Spend some time researching the airport you will fly into beforehand. I suggest flying into Marco Polo airport (Yes, this means not flying with Ryanair). You will be able to get 1 boat journey directly to the front door of your hotel and imagine rocking up on a boat from the airport? Globetrotter goals right there! I paid £25 return from London- Treviso Airport (TSF) and while it was cheap it meant a lot of transport was required on the other side and it became quite expensive!

Treviso is a small airport located 30 km from the city centre and receives regular charter flights. It is sometimes referred to as the San Giuseppe airport and although small, the arrivals hall contains a tourist information booth, bureau de change and three car hire companies – Hertz, Avis and Eurocar. There is also an ATM there too and I would suggest taking money out there as unless you are in the main shopping area of Venice we had to search for working ATMs. Definitely bring Euro with you. The exchange rate wasn’t good in Venice and there was only one place you could change money (Mark’s square).

If you do decide to fly with Ryanair to Treviso airport, you will pay €27 euro for 2 people  for the Ryanair bus to get over the bridge and that doesn’t even take you to the main part of Venice you will then need to pay €30 return for 2 people to get the ferry over to the main part of Venice! Don’t book your ferry from the bus station in Venice to the main part as it is cheaper to get it once you go to the ticket office in Venice!

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Transport

We noticed on day one, that nobody was checking our tickets while we entered the boat. We had one of those ‘ did we waste money on free transport moments?’

Well………..You can legally board Venice’s public transport without a ticket……as long as you immediately notify the boat personnel and buy a ticket on the spot. Otherwise, if the boat is “spot-checked” for tickets, you can be told you’ll have to pay hundreds of euros in fines. Make sure, too, that you always validate your tickets by running them through the small, yellow or white machines near the entrance.

If you would like to go to Burano from Venice take the number 12 ferry which is about 30 minutes and costs 15 euro return for one person! It is a tiny island but well worth the visit as all the houses are colourful and it’s a Kodak moment!

One thing we did wonder about Venice, is will we have to take a boat everywhere or will we be able to walk. Venice is a pedestrian’s city. Unless you’re taking water taxis or floating buses, you’ll be walking. You can cross the canals by foot using bridges or you can take a “traghetto” (a gondola) for 2 EUR. If you need to get to places that are a bit further or your feet need a break, the floating buses, or “vaporetto,” cost 7.50 EUR for a one way, one hour trip. A 1-day ticket is 20 EUR and a 7-day pass is 60 EUR.

Get the Venezia Unica Pass – If you are going to do lots of sightseeing, this pass will give you discounts to the top museums, tours, and attractions. It is priced to save you money when compared to buying separate tickets. You go online and pick out what you want to see ahead of time. The price varies depending on what you want to see.

Hotels

We stayed in one of the smallest luxury hotels of the world called The Liasiddi Palace! It was beautiful but we were slightly disappointed with it as you could hear others in the rooms around you and as we were not members of the Luxury hotels of the World group, they gave us the room without the canal view. Other than that, the beds were extremely comfortable, it was a 5 minute walk from St Mark’s Square and the staff were very friendly. If you are planning on travelling alone I would advise not to stay there as there are some very dark alley ways you will need to walk through to get there. It was 95 pound each for 2 nights and a 4 star hotel so we thought it was well worth it. Whatever you do don’t stay in the 3 star hotels in Venice, most of them looked so run down and had graffiti all over the walls. I feel like the 3 stars in Ireland are set to such a higher standard than the ones in Italy, France etc…

If you are looking for a more luxurious find, The Gritti Palace is one of the World’s most famous hotels. The majestic Gritti Palace is where history and culture are met with renewed Venetian style. A place of exceptional art and elegance, the restored Gritti Palace retains it’s reassuringly intimate and familiar feel. The Gritti is known for impassioned service, a delectable culinary experience and an intimate wellness haven. The reference point for the world’s elite at international city events such as the Biennale, Carnival and the Venice Film Festival.

 While walking around The Gritti Palace, you will find signed Photographs from Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Pitt etc.

While budget hotels can be found for as little as €65 per night, you’ll likely have to pay double that — or more — if you plan on staying right in the centre. Breakfast is usually included though. On Airbnb, you can find shared rooms starting around €20 per night or you can rent entire homes starting at €45  and up.  As we stayed in January, I’m sure the prices are so much more expensive in peak season June – September!

The Famous Gritti Palace! Visit for Tea and Biscotti for €10!

Outfits I packed

Italy is a very fashionable place so there is always that pressure to bring some pretty floral dresses. While waiting for our flight back to Venice I observed every group of tourists disembark from the planes (love people watching). Not one plane didn’t contain a passenger with a fedora style hat! ME being one of them haha! I loved wearing red in Venice as it stands out in pictures with the green canals ! Not that I planned it or anything, not that organised and everyone who knows me knows that I am so laid back! Which can sometimes be a bad thing! Bring nice comfortable shoes as you will be walking over so many bridges!

 

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Jacket: Missguided

Dress: Missguided

Hat: H&M

 

 

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Restaurants

Sitting down at a cafe in Venice costs more than anywhere else in Italy

You may have heard this before: Anywhere in Italy, when you sit down with that coffee at a cafe or bar, the price goes up. If you drink the same coffee, and eat the same cornetto, standing at the counter, the price is lower. (That’s why you’ll see so many Italians eating at the counter).

On the first night we had a tasty meal at Ristorante Alla Conchiglia. This was the best food we had in Venice. I got the seafood tagliatelle because I absolutely love seafood!! They also give you the right amount of food too. The food was great but unfortunately the service was a little bit slow and they were serving all the local people before us but I think you will get that in many places! Don’t let that put you off, I would definitely still go there!

Restaurant Cafe Saraceno- They were soooo friendly in this restaurant. The manager stood talking to us for 15 minutes telling me about his wife who is from Scotland. They were all smiling and the atmosphere here was buzzing. The only thing about this restaurant was it is very expensive and I eat small portions but even for me I was hungry after it! 13% service charge was included in the bill and 4 euro comporto fee too which made it very expensive although it was right under Rialto Bridge so that is probably why!

I would say Don’t eat at Piazza San Marco – This is the area with the most tourist, hence making it much more expensive. Avoid eating here at all costs, not matter how tempting the cafe patios might be.

Near The Liasiddi Palace you will find the Crazy Bar cafe where we had breakfast one morning. Right across from that café you will find a restaurant that has pizza for €6 and very cheap main meals!! If you are hoping to save a bit of money you should definitely go there! I cant remember the name of the restaurant I think it was called Trattoria Dalla Marisa!

 

Tourist Attractions

1. Rialto BridgeIMG_20180120_134240_504

The oldest bridge on the Grand Canal and is one of the famous picture taking spots in Venice. There are little tourist shops all across the bridge. I don’t care much for the tourist shops, but it’s a fun place to take some pictures and get a great view of the canal. You will also see (and probably go under) this bridge if you take a Grand Canal Tour.

2. Gondola Ride or Water Taxi

 We absolutely loved the gondolas. It was an expensive 30 minute journey for 40 euro each but it was a good experience.
 
 
 

3. Saint Mark’s Basilica!

Probably one of the most popular tourist stops in Venice, and it is a must. The architecture alone is enough to go and just stare at, but even better–you can go inside! Oh, and did I mention–it’s FREE. We love when we get to do cool stuff for free. There was a small line, but it only took us about 5 minutes to get inside…so don’t let the line scare you away.
4. St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco)
It really is a breath-taking scene. Take time to stop and admire the architecture and enjoy some people watching. No matter what time of the year, this place will be bustling with tourists–so if you don’t like large crowds you may need to hurry through this one, but it’s definitely worth a stop.
5. Scala Contarini del Bovolo
This round tower with great views of Venice is tricky to find! Google Maps won’t bring you to it but it will bring you to a small square garden area and you will need to walk through the archway and take a right, then turn left and about 300m on the left there is a small sign pointing left to show you where it is. This information won’t make sense now but it will when you are there, trying to find it. We asked a local lady and she walked with us to show us where it was even though she wasn’t going there. It was so kind of her. I definitely found people in Venice a lot more friendly than locals in Amalfi but it might have been due to the time of year. There were less tourists in January!!
6. Burano (A Must!) Burano is known for its colourful, block-like buildings. The government actually regulates house-painting on this island so the place retains its charm and history. Wander the streets and admire the many art galleries and shops along the way.26814867_10215404687053222_2482254534239307_n
7. Visit Murano Island – Close to Venice, nearby Murano island is the tourist trap home of the famous glass blowers of the famous Murano glass. Although the island is filled with expensive souvenirs (avoid buying anything on the island!), it can still be an educational and fun afternoon learning and watching how the glass is blown.
8. See the Venice Carnival – This is ten days and nights of masquerade madness in February before Lent is quite the party. This tradition goes back centuries and is one of the biggest parties and festivals in Italy. If you have the funds, you can even pay to attend a traditional masquerade ball. Make plans early as the entire city becomes packed and very expensive but it’s a once in the lifetime experience. We just missed the Carnival it is happening next week and I came back from Venice yesterday! Gutted!!
Please let me know if this helps you during your trip to Venice and don’t forget to use my hashtag in your photos so I can see what you get up to!!! #irishtravelkid
Zweena xx

New York

New York!! WOW what can I say about it, there is so much to say! I was literally on transport from the airport, until I stepped out of the the ‘SUBWAY’ GUYS 😉 onto Times Square where dreams came true! So I’ve been reminded on movies such as Gossip Girl and Miracle on 34th street. The bright lights hit me and I just stood there and looked up for 5 minutes to take it all in. Every time I gazed at New York on TV everyone always looks so glamorous and I could feel the atmosphere from just watching it on TV!

 

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303888_2438485884369_963271_nIn 2011, I went on a working holiday to Cape Cod about 6 hours from New York. We didn’t want to base ourselves in New York that summer as I was very young at the time and you know how Irish Mammies get……….But I was going to New York and when I have something in my mind there is no stopping me! Sorry Mammy! At the age of 18 I paid 10 dollars for the cheapest Lucky Star  Coach company to NYC at the most awkward time but I was indifferent and on my way to the city that never sleeps. There was no stopping me! Believe me when  I say I was on a budget holiday that year! There’s more…..

I had it on the brain that I desperately would visit The Statue of Liberty, The Twin Towers memorial site, Century 21 and Times Square (I only had a day there). My Mum sent me details about how to get to the Statue of Liberty Free on the Staten Island Ferry, perfect and off I went! Bearing in  mind, I only had a day in NYC and it was the last day of my summer well spent in America working three jobs! I probably had €$100 dollars left before catching my flight the next day! You know what they say? FAKE IT UNTIL YOU MAKE IT! Well, deep down, I knew I wasn’t going to ‘make it’ that summer.

After visiting the Statue of Liberty for free, I made my way to century 21. My friend was with me and watched as I filled a big basket with clothes. We both laughed after I put the 5th item of clothing in, knowing that I couldn’t even afford one, I walked empty handed out and dreamed of a day where I could visit again with a little bit more money in my back pocket.

It was a dream come true, but…unfortunately, I had imagined it a bit differently walking around like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman except I imagined being sort of like Elle Woods too with a poodle in my hand and I definitely would need a PA to carry all my bags.

Luckily for me, I returned to NYC 3 years later, in a better position, more mature and certainly more lucrative, which wouldn’t have been too difficult! In 2015, I returned with Cathal (My Boyfriend) and we did a whole USA trip NYC – SAN FRAN- SAN JOSE – LA – LAS VEGAS – BOSTON. I’ve been to Orlando and Miami so we gave that a skip because we decided to visit Disney World in LA. Cathal always says it was his favourite trip and we’ve been on 6 together.

Anyway back to talking about the amazing NYC trip! Three days was perfect in NYC, we saw and did everything we planned. We flew from Dublin- Iceland-NYC with Wowair and the only time we can fly together during the summer is August. Wowair and Norweigan airlines do the cheapest flights to NYC but it is always good to check Skyscanner too. If you really want cheap flights, join my newsletter and I use google software to do more deep searches in comparison to sky scanner and Kayak.

Unsurprisingly, as it was, prices for hotels were as sky high as their buildings…I know I’m pretty hilarious 😉 We decided to book The Seton Hotel which was walking distance to everything you needed in NYC. I also advise if you want visit big-name attractions like the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building, then it might be worth investing in a New York City Pass. They cost $122 per adult ($98 aged 6–17) and cover 6 museums and attractions, if you plan to visit them all you can save $83 on entrance fees.

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We didn’t plan on seeing a Broadway show because we’ve seen plenty in London and it was our preference to visit the other attractions but if you would like to then  you can pick up discounted theater tickets at ticket booths which sell same-day seats for up to 50% off. Their Times Square booth usually has big queues, but there are quieter branches at South Street Seaport and Downtown Brooklyn.

Day 1:

We used a metro card to get from the airport and decided to top this up but actually because our hotel was so close we barely used the Subway. I find the subway quite confusing to understand routes, probably because there is an idiots guide at every tube station and so many arrows to make it clear. In NYC, you have to already know whether it is A/B/C/D you need and it just seemed too much hassle when we were trying to enjoy ourselves. I’m sure if our phones were working properly we would have been on the pigs back! What would life be like without google maps? I honestly don’t know how we survived. We walked around Times Square on the first day as Cathal wasn’t in NYC and as our hotel was near Byron Park we went there too. In Times Square, I made Cathal get a picture with some of the entertainers there and he was mortified. I also took a picture with NYPD. Got some lunch in a really nice restaurant called Bourbon Street Bar & Grille

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We were stuffed after dinner so we needed a walk! we visited The Twin Towers memorial and paid $10 to enter. It was so emotional. It was upsetting, reading letters from small children telling their parents they missed them and of course there were people in bits in every corner of the room. Well worth the visit to show respect and remember the victims as it displays artifacts related to the catastrophe.

That night we had dinner in The Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square, for a while we were obsessed with Hard Rock! It never fails and at least you know what you’ll get. Whereas now, we always try to eat somewhere we haven’t been before.

Day 2

We went to sleep early on Day 1 and the next morning we went straight to look at the empire state building and visited the view from the Rockerfeller Centre. Who doesn’t go here when they go to NYC? It is well worth the $38 visit as you get a Birdseye view of the city. If you want an even better view you could also book a heli tour from above which is a lot more expensive $300- $400 but imagine the experience! It was a good idea to visit in the morning as it wasn’t too busy but I think during August time you are not going to escape the tourists anyway!

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After visiting The Rockerfeller Centre Top of the Rock, we went to the Dead Rabbit which was voted the Number 1 Bar in the World!! It is owned by two Irish men so we said it would be great to support the Irish abroad. Amazing food and it’s like standing into a cosy living room, everyone was so happy and the staff were really friendly too. Across the road you can get a ferry to Staten Island or if you want to pay money for a boat tour around The Statue of Liberty then you could do that instead. On the way back from Staten Island, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to experience an interesting view of the New York skyline and harbor. It’s a long walk but good food and drinks await you on the other side. Stopping to take photos and meandering along the way will make the walk about 40 minutes. I enjoyed doing the walk at night when downtown Manhattan was all lit up.

Day 3

Today we really chilled out before our afternoon flight to San Francisco, we walked around central park and we did a bit of shopping in Century 21 and I was also able to treat myself to DKNY shoes this time unlike 2011 when I only had enough to return to Ireland. We also visited Radio City Music Hall – Is there a more American theater than Radio City Music Hall? This timeless testament to entertainment has captivated visitors since the 1930s. Tours run daily from 9:30am-5pm and cost $27 (you can get a discount by purchasing your tickets online).

11880329_10207635732954225_4847543836419166723_nIf you’re visiting NYC for three days I would budget for $100 dollars a day excluding your hotel price. Do plenty of research beforehand and book everything online except Broadway to ensure you save some dollas!

 

Zweena x

 

 

 

 

My Favourite Dress of 2017

Hello everybody,

So I’ve decided to start sharing photos of my outfits because I can see from my instagram messages that you are interested! You might know, back in 2014 I set up a fashion blog but soon deleted it as I didn’t feel confident enough. So bear with me 🙂

I hope you all had an amazing time over the Xmas and are having a really nice 2018 so far!  How quick did 2017 go!!! Crazy!! I’ve been planning on writing a 2017 overview post so watch out for that too.

It was my most popular post on Instagram over Christmas and my personal favourite too! I’m going back to a destination in which I visited in 2017 and I am bringing this dress with me for sure. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT. When I wore it over Christmas I got so many compliments too. For £45 you can’t go wrong!

Over Christmas I wore a few outfits that I posted over on Instagram! I don’t usually put the links up but I’m going to start! It’s my 2018 goal, let’s see how I go! I had a lot of questions about this dress……… Unfortunately, it keeps selling out ! It was available yesterday so keep an eye on it and its also there in two different colours.

 

Click Here for the Pia Sequin Dress

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silver dress 2

 

 

I hope this is helpful!! Have an amazing weekend 🙂

 

Zweena x

The Amalfi Coast

 

The Amalfi dream should be on every travel bucket list in sight. I just can’t believe it has been a two hour plane journey away and it was my first time visiting. I took a trip to Sorrento and stayed on the coast for 10 delightful days. Like many, I used Sorrento as my base, as Positano hotel prices are extortionate and the drive from Sorrento to Positano is magnificent in terms of the cliff views. I would happily do that drive every day for the rest of my life! Imagine!! Although there has been some selfie deaths on the beautiful Italian coast so don’t get too confident!!

IMG_20171220_001517_815.jpgThe coast is full of picturesque colossal cliffs and luxurious cars passing by, some with A list celebrities cruising by. It was like the Europe equivalent to Dubai with an array of similar Yachts like those docked in Auckland, Dubai and New Zealand. Millionaire row!!!

Unfortunately, I made a mistake with our hotel choice and the staff were not that friendly. More wise suggestions are below. Be prepared to pay over £1000 for accommodation for 10 days in Sorrento and £1000 is a budget price!! When we tried to find hotels in Amalfi they were 90% sold out for August and we were looking in May. So book now for the summer to get your best deal. In this review, I will chat all things food, spending money, transport, booking, weather and culture!

IMG_20171114_205930_893.jpgYou will probably fly into Naples airport which is the closest to Sorrento. Naples is not a nice city! I didn’t like it so I wouldn’t waste time visiting it either. Many other people said the same thing to me when I was talking to them about it. Try and get an early/mid day flight into Naples, it doesn’t feel safe.

We got into the airport late as our flight was delayed. Both our batteries were dead too, not our cleverest moment!! So we continued to do what we planned to do, which was to get a transfer from the airport to Naples train station, cost about 4 euro. When we got to the train station, there were no more trains so we ended up getting a taxi from Naples to Sorrento which is 80 euro. Luckily two others shared with us on the way!

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We got the train back from Sorrento to Naples airport and it seemed to last forever! Felt like 2 hours,  I reckon it was the slow train! Some stops along the way too are so eerie. If I were you, definitely arrange coach transfers! As I travelled a lot in 2017, I got into a routine of just rocking up at the airport asking the information desk how to get to where I wanted to go! while backpacking around OZ, this method always worked a treat but not in Italy for some reason. Nobody spoke English so I ended up trying to speak Italian by adding an e to the end of every word and doing the Italian hand curl, JUST JOKING!

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Sorrento

In Sorrento, we stayed in The Eden Hotel because it had some many good reviews and it was more or less in Sorrento square. We paid £1000 for this room and the two main advantages were the location and pool, which many hotels didn’t have in other hotels we looked at. From walking around Sorrento and visiting other hotels I would definitely recommend you stay in The Plaza Hotel! We were there most nights and the staff were so friendly we ended up in the nightclub with them one night. I feel like it makes a holiday when the staff are friendly and it is definitely something I always look for in a hotel as well as a good location and nice decor.

20525857_10213975688529152_7491078738896616773_nOn Trivago, at the minute this is £208 pound a night! Which is reasonable for a few days, if you are travelling with somebody are prepared to save beginning now!

We tried so much food when we were there. Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE pizza and I’m sure it’s also one of the reason I fell in love with Italy! You will too if you love pizza and pasta!!

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The list of restaurants we visited are below and they were so nice. There was one restaurant we went to on Sorrento marina and when I was sitting down I looked at TripAdvisor we suddenly regretted eating there when they charged us 20% cover charge which is called  “il coperto” and a tip on top of it. Nonsense behaviour haha! When I remember that restaurant name I will let you know!! In all my travels that never happened. Bare in mind Italy was the tenth country I was in last year so I was on a tighter budget than normal. We still managed to do everything we wanted to do!

Restaurants:

  • Restaurant Bagni Delfino
  • Porta Marina Seafood
  • Ristorante ‘da Filippo’
  • Ristorante ll Rosie

IMG_20180104_231032_157How to travel: Sorrento- Positano – Amalfi

One tip we learned from even casual observation is that if you’re the kind of tourist that likes to pay through the nose for taxis to Positano and Pompeii, then away you go. It does cost about 40 euro and the public bus costs 2 euro. Please go to the bus station early as you will not get on the first bus otherwise. It was so busy! I would say its worth paying the 10 euro extra for hop on hop off. There are two routes on hop on, Sorrento- Positano-Amalfi is the main route. Do go to Amalfi, it’s worth it. Did you watch Gino’s Italian Escape on tv? If not, watch it on youtube. He is an Italian chef and he goes beyond Amalfi to Ravello and other small towns where no tourists go! If we had more time I would have hired a car and drove to them!! You can also get a boat tour to Positano from Sorrento which is a tour for 12 euro or you can pay up to 150 euro for a luxury one.  Taking the train or bus from Sorrento train station costs you much less, you’re there just as quickly, and you can leave as and when you like.

IMG_20171211_223947_283.jpgThe hop on hop off was the quietest in August as the public bus was packed and I ended up nearly sitting on the drivers lap while he played Christmas song!! Haha No joke if you have me on snapchat (zmurr) you would have seen that!! One thing I didn’t like about Italy is that I found that they are a very blunt in their approach. Many other tourists I spoke to thought that too. It might have been because they were experiencing a heat wave and it was difficult for them to work in that climate. Of course, we met people who were extremely friendly too but sadly one woman shouted as I was taking my time to decide what I wanted to order, haha. I’m so indecisive and it was literacy a ten second wait.

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What to do/see in Sorrento:

  • Cathedral of Sorrento (Duomo)
  • Lemon tour – You have to taste LEMONCELLO
  • Old Sorrento
  • Piazza Tasso
  • Day Trip to Pompeii or Herculeneum
  • Day Trip to Capri
  • Head to the Amalfi Coast
  • Shops
  • Marina Grande – Marina Piccola

Capri

I 100% advise you to do the day trip to Capri. You can get a small ferry there for 50 euro each or a small boat with 12 people for 80 euro. It was so pretty and we walked around the whole island. The first thing we did was sit down and take it all in while sipping a lemoncello cocktail. While travelling, one big thing I always try to do is just sit down look around and take it all in! In the age that we live in so many people are caught up on social media **Ironic right?!** and often we forget just to live in the moment!!

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How did we do? 😂

There was one part of the island we went to with a private beach and not many people went there from our boat, I know that as I asked a few people did they go to it. We walked so far that we had to get a taxi back to the marina. If you see steps- walk down them haha that is my only advice or maybe don’t because you will need your energy for Positano steps, believe me!!  Anyway, we arrived at this amazing beach called Bagni Internazionali,and sat down, I wasn’t prepared for the beach so I was trying to do a Mr. Bean on it! HAHA!! Imagine!!

This is the beach we were at called Bagni and if you follow me on instagram @irishtravelkid. You probably saw plenty of snaps on it from when I was there.

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Shopping in Capri

Move over SOSUEME 😉 it’s my turn to shine!! Love Suzanne and what she does but I really did need her wardrobe for my trip to Capri.

In Capri, on top of a mountain in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, you’ll find Chanel, Gucci and Dolce Gabbana stores… and more! Being an Italian holiday destination, it’s no surprise to find all of the big fashion names. If you can afford to splurge you’ll be in fashion heaven, and even if you’re not keen on spending big bucks you can still enjoy the strolls and stunning shop displays along Via Carmelle. You might even bump into a celebrity along the way. So many celebrities holiday on this small island, Samuel L Jackson was on his Yacht while we were sunbating in Positano. There is a restaurant in Capri we stopped to take photos at because sooo many celebrities have visited it.

VIP Restaurants on Capri Island

  • Villa Verde: wall-to-wall celebrities at dinner
  • Da Paolino: known as the “restaurant to the stars”
  • Aurora: with its sidewalk tables along Via Fuorlovado, you just have to stroll by to spot a dining celebrity
  • Taverna Anema e Core: this is where everyone who’s anyone spends their evening
  • Al piccolo Bar: the best spot for VIP breakfast, happy hour, or late night cocktails in the Piazzetta
  • La Fontelina: the most exclusive beach club on the island, and the favorite of stars
  • Il Riccio: the Capri Palace hotel’s beach club and gourmet restaurant

Aurora was the restaurant Beyonce visited! Imagine!!

Positano

Winding roads curve around rocky cliffs which peer out into the sea, entire towns clinging to their sides. The sea sparkles below in the sunshine, and through the hazy light ahead, it appears the curves and bends in the road stretch on into infinity. This is the Amalfi Coast, a seemingly endless stretch of coast boasting some of the most beautiful beaches and towns in the world. This stretch of coastline is so revered for its beauty that it has even been given the honor of joining the world’s elite as a UNESCO world heritage site. I cannot stress this enough – if you ever have the chance to drive the Amalfi Coast, do it. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

There are a multitude of beautiful places to stop along the Amalfi Coast, but the real jewel of this region is the picture-perfect village of Positano. If I hadn’t seen it for myself, I probably wouldn’t even be convinced a place like this could still exist today. It is one of the most popular places to visit in Italy, yet the Italian charm and untouched natural beauty you’ll find here make Positano feel like anything but just another over-hyped tourist destination. We loved Positano so much that we will certainly visit it again soon.

Our favourite walk was going up through town and then down to Fornillo beach via the stairs at the other end of town rather than going up past the main beach {if you visit then this will make much more sense when you get there rather than trying to picture it beforehand}. We chose to have the bus take us to Positano and, thankfully, managed to get a seat on the coastal side of the bus so we had one heck of a view for nearly the whole journey. And when the bus let us off at the top of the cliff in Positano, we were left staring face-to-face at the scene that had convinced us to come here in the first place. Those colorful houses stacked on top of each other so tightly that the cliff itself is no longer visible, the gentle waves lapping at the picturesque beaches below – there’s no denying Positano is a special place.

IMG_20170811_065940_321.jpgThere isn’t much more to say about Positano only that it is sheer perfection! We visited it for the day to experience the beach. Look at all the photos and it will hopefully entice you to book that flight!

PACKING ADVICE

Not to blow my own trumpet, but while I was on the Amalfi Coast, I kept thinking how I did a pretty good job of packing and getting a feel for the land before I arrived. I watched plenty of youtube Amalfi blogs and took note of the type of clothes I should pack before visiting!  I obviously don’t do this everywhere I go but I had some time on my hands!

Since the town is so colorful, you can get away with a lot of color here! Don’t be afraid of prints, either. I saw so many chic-looking women in colourful dresses and wished I had brought at least one printed dress. You’ll see lots of whites and lots of linens in the shops.. That’s what the locals are wearing if you want to blend right in!

If you are visiting and staying in Positano, bring sensible/stylish footwear as there are so many steps. Try and really consider where is best to stay as well. You don’t want too much of a walk every day if  you are trying to achieve a relaxing holiday! I loved every second of it, but it was really hot and the sun felt very intense. They were going through a heatwave at the time and it was 40 degrees. We love this type of heat but I know my family can’t handle it! Make sure to pack a hat to keep the sun off of your face! It seems to be a fashion accessory in Positano. Did you even go if you’re not wearing a sun hat?

Hope all of the information helped and if you do book a trip to Amalfi coast this summer that I have helped you !

Zweena x

 

 

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Top 5 Gifts for Travel Lovers

As Christmas is approaching, I think its really important to think about the person you are buying for and what he or she truly loves and is passionate about. Whether it is fashion, music, travel or food. You want to ensure that when they open their present they instantly know you put a lot of thought and consideration into buying their gift. That doesn’t mean that you need to spend lots of money. So many people in their 20’s are passionate about travel, as you’re eager to see as much as the world as possible before you start getting serious about your career or having a family.  Some of the gifts below, I’ve either been given or bought for myself.  Whatever type of trip your family member or friend loves best, I’ve got lots of travel gift. Why not excite an intrepid explorer with an unusual present.

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A Silver Globe for £23.99

  1. A globe  £23.99 / A Scratch Globe £14.00  Scratch Map is the perfect way to show off where you’ve been travelling while livening up your wall with a colourful world map. There is no better way to feed the hunger for wanderlust than to give somebody a globe. It ignites fire, well it did for me anyway.Why Pandora Travel Charms Make the Best Present for Travelers
  2. A Pandora Travel Lover Bracelet  £115  A little bit more expensive than the first gift but who doesn’t love Pandora? You might even put this one on your Santa list.A Pandora travel bracelet is the best present for any female traveler in your life. The best thing about it, is that they can personalise it and add charms of those countries they have visited. You can buy a silver bangle that looks simple and stylish on it’s own. The charms are high-quality in silver and gold and some include precious stones. They come in all kinds of themes, from holidays to simply pretty, but the best charms are the TRAVEL charms. You can buy charms that represent countries or travel items like a passport or globe.Image result for might high cocktail kit
  3. A Mile-high Cocktail Kit: £25 Who needs first class when gifts like this exist? Mix up a top notch cocktail 40,000 feet high. Now I’m sure nobody else will think of that gift! If you’re like me and at times become nervous with turbulence, a cocktail kit will be like a air-mile bible. These cocktail kits include everything you need to turn the tired drinks sold on-board into tasty in-flight treats.
    Personalised Leather Travel Wallet

4.  Personalised Leather Travel Wallet £33  Beautiful, luxurious recycled leather travel wallets in a wide range of bold, pastel and metallic colours. Can be personalised making it a super present. You won’t miss this wallet as the rose gold version is a major hit on Instagram. On the plus side, no more fumbling around at check-in for your precious travel documents, this leather travel wallet has plenty of space to store passport, boarding cards, driver’s licence, credit cards, currency, and more.

5. Paddy Box: €60 We all know an Irish person abroad, don’t we? Course we do because we are EVERYWHERE!! I’m living in London and I know there are many thing about home that I miss, especially Ballymaloe Relish and Barry’s tea. We don’t need to feel that longing for home where Irish food is concerned anymore because a genius idea has been rolled out and developed into a terrific company. There is now such thing as a Paddy Box; a box full of Irish people’s favourite food from home. How exciting is this? I hope you get a Paddy Box under your tree this year !

 

How I conquered my fear of flying

IMG_6545I was terrified of flying, especially during take off and turbulence. I read so many books based on overcoming your fear. I studied psychology to try and comprehend how my fear my caused. I started thinking about take off at least 48 hours before the flight. I’d usually ask the air hostess ‘will there be much turbulence?’ Knowing it was going to be a bumpy flight, felt reassuring. I became an “air nuisance” – introducing fear in the calmest of passengers. Usually I would end up apologising and making a statement like ‘I’m the worst person you could sit alongside’. I would sometimes have a glass of wine before my flight and it did help. However, I agreed to a round the world trip in 2017 and I knew a glass of wine before my 16 hour journey wasn’t going to work. I didn’t want to let my fear stop me from gaining new experiences.

I started to research where my fear had come from and tried to work backwards to overcome it. My parents would say things like you were never afraid of flying before’ and ‘you’ve been flying since you were a baby, so where did my fear come from?’ Well in 2008, my family and I were on a flight from Zante, Greece to Dublin airport, unfortunately we did have an emergency landing and everybody was crying. I remember my mum kissing me and crying and I thought she was trying to say a farewell goodbye. Nevertheless, I was naive to this sort of thing! One of the flaps to slow the plane down wouldn’t work. Luckily we landed ok but there were fire engines everywhere and we landed on a longer runway. After this, surprisingly, flying didn’t bother me and I continued to be confident. Three years ago, I was on a flight from London to Cork in a terrible storm. Before this flight, I was fearless and had no problem flying on my own. It was such a rocky flight, that I was shaking and so petrified for the full hour. The man on the seat alongside me was flabbergasted with how nervous I was. We got off the plane and an elderly couple said to me ‘ that wasn’t too bad in the end’. I thought to myself it felt like the end!! I started to process the technical issues of flying and acquired a fear of heights too. Thinking deeper into ‘what ifs’ didn’t support my dread to fly alone.

Usually, while others slept soundly around me, my heart was pounding and I was alert to the possibilities of a engine failure, the pilot passing out, or lightning. I continued to travel, enduring torturous flights to get to my destination.

On one flight, I was on sudden turbulence was experienced and I woke the girl up alongside me thinking she might comfort me. She stood up to allow me to go to the toilet but I had to explain the real reason for waking her, then I rang the call bell for the air hostess. I found myself petrified. My legs trembled and I felt the urge to vomit. I stood up with her mid flight shaking and crying in front of everyone. I was five minutes into the flight and I evidently feeling mortified for the rest of the time.

Before my round the world trip I got diazepam, but my aunt informed me it’s banned in some countries and Asia requires a lot of documents for this medication. Two days before I decided not to take them with me. I had to try and embrace the fear and do it anyway! While booking my round the world trip, I asked the travel consultant for reputable airlines, even though I ended up flying with Angkor wat airline, the smallest plane I have ever been on. I couldn’t even stand up on it as it was so small. I had looked up and researched all the flying safety statistics and drove myself insane. My friend told me that’s my problem, that I think about it too much.

Finally, I decided that enough was enough – and started to work on cognitive behavioural therapy. I read two helpful books, one written by British Airways called ‘Flying with confidence’ and another one which was about a counselling group of people with cancer and I can’t remember the name of it. There was a line in the latter book that said ‘I shouldn’t be afraid of anything, my time will come and we are all going to the same place. How can you be afraid of something you haven’t experienced?’ It was such a sad book and there is obviously no comparison in both situations, but it was reassuring to use her thoughts and relate them to fears. I wrote down the line from this book on a piece of paper. Every time I was about to take off on my world trip, I read that line and played music to distract me. Flying with confidence book said it’s a good idea to distract yourself. After all of this I decided I still wasn’t as confident as I had wished.

On one flight to Indonesia, I made myself record the take off and I even sat on the window seat, something I would never do. Looking back at my recording made me realise that I’ve done it so many times and there’s nothing to be afraid of. My mum gave me a list of statistics and explained that flying is safer than driving. You have more of a chance of dying in the car on the way to the airport than to die on a flight. Now I am afraid of driving haha! In Bangkok it was crazy, their average car speed is 150kph!

I am still slowly overcoming my dread of turbulence but since I researched the make up of a plane and the power and force it was built to deal with all types of weather. I know flying shouldn’t be something to stop you from gaining more cultural experiences, travelling to learn new languages and ways of life. Please speak to me if you feel the same and I might be able to support you.

Hope that helped!

Zweena

The Best Hotels in London

Living in London evidently has its perks. A busy successful city means there is an impressive range of luxurious hotels and spa facilities to take advantage of. Even if you reside in London, it’s always a nice treat to stay a night in a fancy hotel with outstanding facilities as this is always a necessity which goes hand in hand with the hustle and bustle of the city. There comes a time where you just need to unwind, relax and I have a list of the best hotels in London to do just that!

1. The May Fair Hotel London ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The May Fair Hotel is situated in the heart of Mayfair, surrounded by the parks, theatres and attractions of London’s West End. There is free Wi-Fi in all areas, a private theatre, and a 24-hour business centre.

The May Fair’s bedrooms features elegant, contemporary décor, decadent Italian marble bathrooms and luxury beds with down pillows and 350 thread count Egyptian cotton bedding. All are equipped with free high-speed WiFi and Samsung TVs offering up to 300 channels in multiple languages. In selected suites, iPad’s are provided for guests to browse the hotel’s services and menus before ordering.

The May Fair Kitchen offers a menu of Mediterranean style sharing plates and afternoon tea. There is a DJ three nights a week and guests enjoy daytime coffee at the The May Fair Bar, located across the lobby, and cocktails in the evening. The May Fair Terrace provides an open-air enclave for drinks and cigars. the afternoon tea served at the May Fair is apparently the best afternoon tea served in London. Many of my friends who have had a range of afternoon tea experiences have agreed with this fact too. Afternoon tea can be booked target=”_blank”>here

Guests can also find a 3-D cinema, tranquil May Fair Spa, 24 hour gym and adjoining Palm Beach Casino at this hotel.

Another benefit of staying at the May Fair is that you are in the centre of everything. Oxford street is ten minutes away and no doubt you will be within walking distance of many West End shows. This area is great for shopping, with popular brands nearby: Cartier, Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Tiffany & Co, Prada and many high street outlets too.

There are some celebrity hotspots around this area where you will be sure to spot the likes of David Beckham, Cheryl Cole, Little Mix, Prince Harry, One Direction and many more. They hang out in Mahiki and Hush Bar. Make sure you wear your best clothes and put your name on the guest list before arrival.

Price: €400 a night (Well worth it)



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2. The Montcalm Hotel London ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Within 5 minutes’ walk of Hyde Park, Oxford Street’s shops and Marble Arch Underground Station, this 5-star hotel features a modern bar and an on-site spa. Free internet access is available throughout The Montcalm. Buckingham Palace and its gardens are just over 1.6 km away.

An iPod dock, HD TV with satellite channels, a hairdryer and a minibar feature in each air-conditioned room. A rain shower and luxury toiletries are included in each private marble bathroom. Guests can choose from 6 fragrances for their room.

Fresh and seasonal international cuisine is served in the Crescent Restaurant and Lounge, while The Grill at The Montcalm provides modern British grill dishes. The Montcalm Bar offers an extensive bar menu and a variety of cocktails and traditional English afternoon teas.

The Montcalm Spa includes a relaxing spa pool, sauna, and steam room. Guests can also unwind on heated loungers, or use the modern, air-conditioned fitness room.

Price: €360 a night

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3. The Park Plaza Westminster Bridge ★ ★ ★ ★

This hotel is very central and the suite I stayed in was very large. It is ideal if you are planning on visiting the tourist attractions such as The London Eye, The Houses of Parliament or Big Ben. Lambeth is a great choice for travellers interested in city walks, monuments and history.

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Price: €200 a night

4. The Me Hotel London ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The Me Hotel is a popular choice of Sarah Hashcroft a famous London Blogger from Buckinghamshire. Everyone familiar with London will know the ME hotel as STK is underneath it and my favourite the Radio Rooftop bar is next door. Lately, the king and queen of Spain stayed in the ME hotel for a night. Why not make the most of your trip to London and treat yourself.

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Price: €350 a night

Thank you you for reading and I hope you enjoy your trip to London.

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