Marrakech, probably the most famous of Moroccan destinations – souks filled with spices, textiles, leather and glassware; beautiful architecture covered in brightly coloured tiles and carved plaster; an abundance of rooftop cafes and bars. All of these things meant I was sure Marrakech would swiftly become one of my favourite destinations, but in reality I found it quite tricky to travel as a solo female.(more…)
Anyone who knows me, knows I’m obsessed with collecting Avios points. I aim to be as strategic as one can be in the pursuit of making flying more financially viable, and hopefully, now and again, flying business class. There are lots of people out there working at improving their airline status, and trust me, if …
Too short a time in lovely Toulouse, but enough to get a good taster of this pretty pink city. I’d need to go back for a proper mini break for a decent length travel guide, but there are absolutely some gems worth passing on here, so here’s a bite sized version for you.
I have a love hate relationship with Instagram. For the most part I love it – I’ve always enjoyed photography, I like the micro-blogging aspect of it and I’ve met some cool people on there, some I now know In Real Life. I enjoy having a (very curated) view into celebrities I admire’s lives, and …
I’ve wanted to go to India for a very, very long time. In my head I’ve always thought I’d go for an extended trip, a few months or so – the country is so vast and there’s an unbelievable amount to see, so I never really considered a holiday there, assuming I’d need longer to satisfy any sort of craving. That said, sometime last year I was musing on the idea of going to Goa to do a smaller, more manageable chunk of India using my annual leave, to get a taste of the place. Imagine my delight when a potted palm with an incense stick shoved in its soil landed on to my doorstep, inviting me to celebrate my friends Hannah and Adam’s wedding in Goa.
One of the things I get asked most by people before they set off on their travels is: how do you make friends whilst backpacking? It’s a fair question. When it takes time to build friendships at home, the nature of travelling – moving from place to place relatively quickly – it doesn’t sound like …
I have loved photography since I can remember. I grew up in a house that holds boxes and albums full of family photographs and holiday snaps. One of the things I enjoy most when I travel is spending time taking photos of the places I visit. I enjoy it as a hobby and I love having the memories to look back on. I love Instagram and following other people’s day-to-day and travels via the social media platform.
The trouble comes when Instagram takes over reality to a point where it makes us feel bad about ourselves. There are dozens of luxury travel accounts that post absolutely stunning pictures of beautiful influencers in remote corners of the world, shots empty of other tourists in the background and amazing birds eye views of tropical islands captured by drones. I follow some of them. I think they can be great to encourage people to want to see more and to travel to places they may not otherwise be aware of. They’re an escape, too – it’s nice to look at a pretty photo, right? The thing to bear in mind is, it’s quite literally these people’s jobs to make destinations look that desirable. They are paid to do that. They spend a lot of time on those photographs, and no matter what you think of that as a job or career, that is what it is. But we need to remember that this is not real.
I’ve often wondered what it would be like to backpack now in terms of how Instagram affects people and the way they travel. When I first travelled in 2011 Instagram barely existed. I took hundreds of photos on my trip – loads of landscapes, plenty of photos of friends and me jumping in front of sunsets and there’s a whole sub category of photos of me staring off into the distance taking in a view. Clichéd, sure, and perhaps viewed as a bit wanky by some, but it was fun. I am all for an organised fun photo. But those pictures took a few quick shots to capture, not twenty minutes of dozens of different poses and outfit changes – something that actually happens now. A friend who has spent a lot of time recently backpacking tells me he’s seen people walk into cenotes in full length gowns. This isn’t Vogue, people.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to take nice photos on holiday. There’s no issue in asking your partner or your friends to take a few photos of you on a swing on the beach or relaxing by the pool in your new floppy hat or whatever. Want to post a fire selfie? Great! I want to see you looking confident and happy with how you look and I will comment telling you just how much you’re slaying. The problem comes when we feel like we have to be at 100 all the time; when we worry we don’t look good enough or slim enough, haven’t nailed the right angles, the photo isn’t ‘wow’ enough. The problem lies where it takes over your life (or holiday) to the point where you’re spending half an hour orchestrating a photoshoot by the infinity pool of your all inclusive resort in order to get the ‘perfect’ photo for Instagram, constantly analysing the angle of your body and the way the light falls on your skin before you’re happy with one to put on your grid.
Take beach photos, take pictures by the pool, take all the clichéd snapshots you want – enjoy it! Just don’t spend all your time at one of the great wonders of the world solely doing so – don’t miss everything around you. The reason you’ve travelled (I hope) is to experience different cultures, see unique sights, relax – not because somewhere is ‘instagrammable’. Having photos to treasure from your travels serves as a wonderful trip down memory lane, but don’t miss making the memories in the first place for the perfect shot. Drink in the places you travel to. Don’t let Instagram make you feel like you’re not good enough. It’s supposed to be fun, not bring you stress and anxiety over the next photo you’re posting. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather see a photo of someone looking like they are genuinely having a good time on their trip instead of what looks like an outtake from a high fashion shoot with a five figure budget. Let’s bring a bit more reality back to Instagram.
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You have to take the time to get to know Melbourne. Melbourne is that guy you go on a date with where you drink beautiful cocktails and he enjoys a craft beer. You both like food and appreciate culture; you get on really well and have a lot in common. He’s kind and he’s well travelled, but you’re just not sure if you fancy him. But you go out with him again anyway. And he keeps surprising you. Suddenly you’re six dates in and in awe of just how great this guy is, falling for him seemingly out of the blue.
Melbourne isn’t in your face, it’s pretty laid back about all the things it has on offer: amazing food, cool bars, the best coffee in the world (probably), European inspired laneways, chilled out beaches, cool hipster suburbs, art, music, comedy, festivals – Melbourne has everything going on, it just doesn’t shout about it much. Apart from the coffee. They are really keen for you to know about their elite coffee status. Take the time to get to know Melbourne properly and you will reap the awards and still have a huge list of things you want to do and places you want to eat as you board the plane home.
White sandy beaches and jewel coloured water. Chilled beach clubs spilling onto the sand serving well crafted mezcal cocktails and fresh tacos. Swings at white washed bars and beautiful street art painted along the roads. Tulum has a distinctly hippie vibe, despite the beach strip being full of boutique hotels and some very fancy beach restaurants. Whether you’re staying in Tulum itself (you lucky, lucky thing) or just taking the trip for the day to take in the ruins, Tulum is a must visit when on the Yucatan peninsula.
It’s almost pointless recommending somewhere specific in Italy as a destination, because pretty much the entirety of Italy is a must visit. Honestly, is there anywhere you don’t want to go in this country steeped in history, art, stunning coastlines, hilly vistas and moreover – ridiculously good food and wine?
The latter brings me to Bologna, where I recently visited for four days over a long weekend for the sole purpose of eating. Bologna is the regional capital of Emilia-Romagna, an area closely situated to the north east of holiday favourite Tuscany, yet remains very much under the radar compared to the likes of Rome and Florence. The city has three nicknames: La Dotta, meaning ‘the learned one’, since Bologna is home of the oldest university in Europe; La Rossa, ‘the red one’, after the sea of red tiled roofs it houses; and La Grassa, ‘the fat one’, due to its reputation for a rich culinary history often singled out as making Bologna the best place to eat in Italy.