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.
Why should you miss out on a well-deserved holiday or travelling somewhere you’ve always dreamed of going because you haven’t got anyone to go with? So what you don’t have a partner to go to Paris with, and your mates are too busy holidaying with their boyfriends to lie on the beach in Thailand. No …
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 …
It’s been nearly eight years since I first packed up my Jack Wolfskin and set off on my first round the world backpacking trip. Here are my top tips if you’re about to head off for the first time travelling. And tell me where you’re going, I want to hear all about it!
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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There are enough ‘must eat’ restaurants in New York City to keep you going for months on end, so it’s hard to know how to whittle it down to the truly great ones, especially when you have limited time stateside. One place that comes up repeatedly as an unmissable is Katz’s Deli on the Lower East Side – also known as the place where Meg Ryan faked that orgasm in legendary rom com ‘When Harry Met Sally’.
Frequently cited on the New York tourist ‘top places to eat’ lists, I’m now ashamed to admit it took me five trips to the Big Apple to make it to Katz’s for one of their absolutely massive pastrami sandwiches. That was a mistake and I hold my hands up; this should be on everyone’s first time NYC hit list. I wasn’t even sure how I felt about pastrami until I went to Katz’s, and now I’m thinking about where I can get my next fix back in London; I have seen the light. Each sandwich is made to order in front of you at the counter, and they’ll give you a few slices of the beautiful red meat to try whilst they work to compile what has to be the biggest sandwich you’ve ever seen in front of your eyes – fitting that much meat between two relatively thin slices of rye is a feat in itself. I find that some of the ‘must eat’ dishes in New York can be faddy, but the pastrami on rye at Katz’ is anything but. From the first taste of that melt in your mouth meat I was a goner. It is hands down one of the best things I’ve eaten in NYC and certainly one of the best sandwiches of all time.
Considering the fact this place is by all means a (very large) deli and you’re being served up your food on a plastic tray, it’s not cheap. A pastrami on rye with mustard and pickles on the side will set you back around $25, but this is New York and honestly you and the big city will get on a lot better if you immediately anaesthetise yourself to the cost of everything from the moment the wheels of your Boeing 747 touch down at JFK. At least you get your monies worth; the obvious advantage of Katz’s sandwiches being so big means you can take the other half away to eat later – or go and split one with someone else. Either way, I’m reckoning Sally ordered the pastrami on rye, and you definitely want what she’s having.
205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002