Tag Archives: backpacking

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Lent has now begun…

In previous years I have thought long and hard about what I could give up for Lent that might help me better myself in some way. I have come up with some truly bizarre ideas such as giving up procrastination, giving up the use of non-words (such as erm, err and ‘like’) and giving up being late for things.

I now know that it’s nearly impossible for me to give any of that up. A few years ago my sister once said to me, “Sarah, you are an ideas person; you are not a completer-finisher!” Liz is spot on. Therefore this year I plan to give up giving up and aggressively pursue some of my personal goals.

One of these goals is that I aim to be paid only by doing things that I truly enjoy. Obviously a big hobby of mine is travel – last week I completed my first On Board Courier mission to New York and I’m on standby for more. In the meantime I am working part time with a florist (I am learning loads already!) and I am propagating my own plants at home with a view to designing and creating some living art. I’m still running my little jewellery business (Darby London for anyone interested) however im currently in limbo what with waiting for my new online shop – very exciting!) My other official current income is via agencies for promotions and tv extra type roles.

So across all my very flexible jobs, I somehow seem to be winging it quite well, without being too tied down to anything (a desk in particular) and my fear of commitment is not being tested too greatly which is perfect for me right now. No two days are the same and I am currently really happy and excited for the endless possibilities that could come.

Fridge Magnet Collection so far Feb 2016
Fridge Magnet Collection so far Feb 2016

I know a lot of people who could not live the way I do, and there are days when things seem so tough, but the highs most certainly do justify the lows. This year I aim to make sure that The Darby Diaries will be mostly full of highs.

I would love to hear about anyone else’s ideas on Lent and whether you have decided to give anything up… or not?!

-TDD x

Traveller of the Month: Amanda Mason on Earthquakes in Everest, Travelling solo in India, and the ‘Travel Bug’

Name: Amanda Mason

Age: 31

Nationality: British

Time on the Road (this trip or general outline): 1 year, currently 3 months into this trip

Funds (saving/working/’freegan’/mixed): Have been saving for a few years

What initially inspired you to travel?

I got the ‘travellers bug’ at 19 years old when I first took off on my own and travelled around the USA! Once you have had the opportunity to see more of the world it becomes almost an obsession to see it all! I’ve since been travelling many times around various countries. Any time I can visit somewhere new I do! After recently being made redundant at work I grabbed the opportunity with both hands to get away again. I had been working very hard over the last few years, sacrificing various travel opportunities and I had very much ‘missed the open road’ as they say!

How have your inspirations to explore the world changed since you began travelling?

At the moment they haven’t really, I still want to see everything! I plan to visit every country possible, and then I really can say I’ve been around the world!

What has been your most memorable experience abroad?

Climbing to base camp of Mount Everest! Reaching 5380M was a shattering, body exhausting experience, but totally worth it. The views you can see as you climb through the Himalayas really are indescribably beautiful! Pictures do not do them justice.

Everest Base Camp, Nepal
Amanda reached Everest Base Camp, Nepal, earlier this year

What would you say has been your most difficult or testing experience whilst travelling?

I would also have to say the Everest base camp trek, as I was in the Himalayas during the earthquake. I saw so much destruction and devastation, it really does give you a whole new perspective on your own life and how lucky I really am! I felt and saw some heartbreaking sites. Unfortunately it’s not the sort of experience that I could even begin to put into words.

Himalayas, Nepal
Himalayas, Nepal
“Pictures do not do them justice!”

Where are you right now?

Currently at Don Det – part of the 4000 islands, Laos

Stunning Views: Don Det, 4000 Islands, Laos
Stunning Views: Don Det, 4000 Islands, Laos

Do you have any survival advice for new travellers in this place? 

The currency is very hard to convert mentally! Get the free currency converter app on your phone, it really helps and you don’t need wifi to use it.

Hanging with locals in Pakse, Laos
Hanging with the locals in Pakse, Laos

If you had to recommend one place in the world to visit, where would it be?

India (West Coast – Goa and Kerala)

Let’s talk a bit about travelling solo in India as a female…

I travelled alone mostly in India, and it was amazing. It helps to have some basic self-defence knowledge as I took Krav Maga lessons before heading off on this journey. This gave me a bit more confidence in taking care of myself so I would definitely recommend taking a course if you are planning to travel alone! I found that in India it felt like being a minor celebrity; I got a lots of stares and many people wanted their photo taken with me, but if you can deal with that you’ll be okay!

If anyone does something that is not okay with you and you feel threatened, make a scene as a lot of the locals will look out for you. For example one day, some Indian men were taking my photo of me in my bikini and I felt very uncomfortable. I shouted at the men and they quickly left!  But all in all I had the best time in India and rarely had any problems as a solo female traveller.

It really is very beautiful in so many places in India, and it’s great if you are travelling on budget as it’s so cheap for accommodation and food!

Amanda visits the world famous Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Amanda visits the world famous Taj Mahal in Agra, India
Making friends on a hostel rooftop in Delhi, India
Making friends on a hostel rooftop in Delhi, India

Where do you plan to visit next?

Laos, Burma and Thailand will be the next few months of travel.

Ancient temples: Amanda visited the Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Riep, Cambodia.
Ancient temples: Amanda visited the Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Riep, Cambodia.
Having fun with fellow travellers in Thakhek, Laos
Having fun with fellow travellers in Thakhek, Laos
Many beautiful waterfalls are found across South East Asia, such as this one in Pakse, Laos
Many beautiful waterfalls are found across South East Asia, such as this one in Pakse, Laos

Thank you very much for your time Amanda and enjoy the rest of your adventures!

The Darby Diaries

Traveller of the Week: Helpful Locals, Labouring in Laos and Staying Young

Name: Berkan Öztürk (friends calls me ‘Turkish’)

Age: 28

Nationality: Turkish

Time on the Road (this trip or general outline): 11 years

Funds (saving/working/’freegan’/mixed): Working

Berkan and his favourite reptile
Baby Crocodile

What initially inspired you to travel?

Getting out of my comfort zone. Initially, I was travelling for a self-oriented growing experience, to raise my awareness of different aspects of life. It was a case of self-inspiration.

Before travelling, I used to do the same things, experience the same emotions, the same behaviours. Depending on the day, I might have done things in a slightly different order. I used to get those habits, emotions, movements, and thoughts which were growing into me and making me very comfortable.

The first time I took myself out of my comfort zone (in other words, the first time I travelled) I realized that I was doing new things and creating new connections – which felt to me like it was keeping me young.

They told me that I might be the first Turk in the Vltava River, Czech Republic
They told me that I might be the first Turk in the Vltava River, Czech Republic

How have your inspirations to explore the world changed since you began travelling?

The selfish beginning eventually evolved into a style where now I am constantly looking forward to contribute to the places which I visit (especially in poor and rural areas).

What has been your most memorable experience abroad?  

I will never forget the help I received in South Thailand. Thank you guys. You are awesome! I had to catch my flight which would bring me back to Europe. I arrived to the city where I was supposed to get a bus to the airport but the bus was not there. Local people told me that it would arrive in 2 hours. I asked them if it would be possible to catch my flight with that bus. They said no. The bus company people were very friendly to offer another solution. The lady working for the bus company bought me a minivan ticket, leaving from Surathani to Phuket. I asked if it is possible to get a ticket for the minivan which was leaving in 10 minutes. She said it was full. I thought I could try to ask people on the bus if maybe there would be one person who would be willing to exchange their ticket. Five minutes before the departure of the bus, I went to the minivan. I explained my situation. There was a Thai woman who looked about fifty years old. Spoke perfect English. She explained my situation to people in the minivan. Suddenly, three people wanted to leave the bus to make a space for me. I tried to tell them that only one space is enough. But those three left. I thanked them. Everybody was smiling. Had a very entertaining minivan trip where I was showing pictures from my trips.  Words are not enough to tell how much I appreciated what they did for me.

A capture from my seat in the minivan, Surathani, Thailand
A snapshot from my seat in the minivan, Surathani, Thailand

What would you say has been your most difficult or testing experience whilst travelling?

In Laos, I was labouring in an organic farm during the day and teaching English to the children in the evening. I am a knowledge worker and I realized that being a farmer is very difficult work!

It is incredible to see how many people have to care before they can bring food to our tables. My mother and father used to work in the tobacco fields for living until they were 18-20 years old. They were always telling me stories starting with something like “When I was at your age, I was picking this and that…”. To me, it was always some kind of story. I never actually tried to understand what it meant until my time in Laos. Now I understand how difficult can life be on some people. The good news is: this is the challenge of our generation. To make things better and fair for everybody!

Learning with young Lao people in Vang Vieng, Laos
Learning with young Lao people in Vang Vieng, Laos

Where are you right now?

I am working in Berlin, Germany.

Do you have any survival advice for new travellers in this country?

Germany is probably the most organized country ever. Not much can go wrong.

My favourite city, Berlin, Germany
My favourite city, Berlin, Germany

If you had to recommend one place in the world to visit, where would it be?

Goa, India. All you need there is: Tent, sleeping bag and a scooter to explore remote places…

Where do you plan to visit next?

I am planning to be in South India in December 2013.

Traveller of the Week: Chelsea Smith

Name: Chelsea Smith

Age: 27

Nationality: United States of America

Time on the Road (this trip or general outline):

This is a hard one. Well, I’ll try an overview everything: six months combined travelling in North America, five months combined travelling in the Mid east/South Africa/North Africa, six months combined travelling in Europe, 4 years in England/Greece, 3 years in Germany, 1 year in South Korea, five months combined travelling in Asia.

Funds (saving/working/’freegan’/mixed):

In some places abroad I was working (eg: Greece, Sweden, South Korea, England), but sometimes I was travelling on savings (eg: the Middle East, South East Asia and some European trips.

A visit to Damascus, Syria A visit to Damascus, Syria

What initially inspired you to travel?

A love of learning about new cultures, a curiosity about the world and the call of the wild. That and food.

How have your inspirations to explore the world changed since you began travelling?

I think I used to enjoy shorter trips to more places, whereas now I enjoy spending more time in a country and getting to know it better by working there.

Buddhist temple stay at Bogeunsa temple in Seoul, South Korea. Buddhist temple stay at Bogeunsa temple in Seoul, South Korea.

What has been your most memorable experience abroad?

Too many. I would say going to South Africa when I was 19 opened my eyes to how wonderful travel could be outside of my comfort zone. At the time I was young, had only been to Europe and North America and it was a stretch for me.

As far as a memorable experience go, I could say Palmyra, Syria, the most beautiful Roman ruins I’ve ever seen. Sadly, I believe the war has affected them. That and fulfilling a life long childhood dream of seeing the Angkor temples in Cambodia and the Luxor temples in Egypt.

My sister and me at the Pyramids of Giza, Cairo, Egypt. My sister and me at the Pyramids of Giza, Cairo, Egypt.

What would you say has been your most difficult or testing experience whilst travelling?

A string of horrible things happened in Budapest. I got fined for an improperly validated subway ticket, I got bed bugs, a machine ate my ATM card, and I had some horrible experiences with men. That made me question why I travel at all. While I love many aspects of India and would return in a heart beat, I would say it is a challenging place to be a traveller, especially as a woman. It is exhausting to deal with the sexual harassment and scams in India, but I could say the same thing of Turkey and Egypt. There isn’t an experience or country visited that I would take back, however. I enjoy many aspects of all of those countries’ cultures.

Where are you right now?

San Francisco, California! And loving it.

Do you have any survival advice for new travellers in this country?

Don’t forget to eat and drink enough water! I forgot this often at times during my first Asia trip, which was three months around Cambodia, Thailand and India. I lost a lot of weight and I think the worst times on the trip were related to me not taking care of myself enough. Basically, be kind to your body, take care of yourself and you’ll be in better spirits to enjoy the trip more! That – and don’t be afraid. You will survive.

A walk through Chefchaouen, Morocco A walk through Chefchaouen, Morocco

If you had to recommend one place in the world to visit, where would it be?

This is hard. I would say the Mid east, particularly Syria, but I was fortunate enough to go before the Arab spring. Syria was a really special place when I visited, a magical place with castles and temples from my childhood imagination, and an honest kindness from the people that I haven’t experienced anywhere else.

Otherwise, I would say California. I’m endlessly delighted by the diversity of cultures, people and landscape. Well, also Morocco has a rich culture of art and design, as does India, as does Czech Republic, as does Mexico… I’ve loved many places!

Where do you plan to visit next?

Iceland! I’m doing an artist residency there in June 2014.

The Gyeongbokgung Palace Gardens in Seoul, South Korea The Gyeongbokgung Palace Gardens in Seoul, South Korea.

You can stay up to date with Chelsea via her current blog: http://chelseaelizabethsmith.tumblr.com/

Traveller of the Week: English Nanny in Kentucky, USA

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Name: Kirsty Owers

Age: 27

Nationality: British

Time on the Road (this trip or general outline): I first started travelling back in 2009, but have spent some time back in England between trips to recover savings.

Funds (saving/working/’freegan’/mixed): Currently working as a nanny.

What initially inspired you to travel?

Since a young age I had always wanted to travel so that I could challenge myself in completely new corners of the world. I had never really pushed myself out of my comfort zone before. When a long term relationship came to an end  I decided I should take the opportunity to get myself out there and see the world. I saved every penny I could and headed for Australia first, where I combined some travelling and exploring with a bit of work, which included fruit picking.

How have your inspirations to explore the world changed since you began travelling?

Travelling quickly proved a lot more fun than I had ever expected. My family seemed very proud of me for gaining this new independence which gave me a real confidence boost. Meeting so many inspiring people on my travels definitely opened my eyes to new things and I started to feel that I my life was becoming much richer in terms of my general ideas and attitudes. I wanted to inspire other people to travel too.

KO elephant

What has been your most memorable experience abroad?

There have been so many but I would say my most memorable would be travelling Route 66 across America with my best friend! On one day we were shopping in Chicago, the next we were watching a Baseball game in St Louis, then had fun writing on upside down Cadillacs in Amarillo. We drove through the wildlife parks of Arizona, rode horses in the Grand Canyon, gambled away in Vegas before relaxing LA and finally reaching our final destination: Santa Monica in California! Everyday was so different and we were able to see so many different American states in such a relatively short time.

KO route 66

What would you say has been your most difficult or testing experience whilst travelling?

When I was in Australia I worked on a fruit picking site. The first day was so hard; planting melon seeds all day in the blistering Australian heat was really tough and I was sure that I wouldn’t last until the end of the week! However, six months on and I was saying goodbye to the ranch. I had learnt so much and made some very good friends there. There are some situations you face while travelling that seem impossible, but if you try to stay positive and persevere, you will often find these the most rewarding experiences.

Where are you right now?

I am in Kentucky, USA. I’m working as a nanny; looking after two twin girls and a four year old boy.

Do you have any survival advice for new travellers in this country?

Don’t be afraid to ask the locals for help and advice on anything.  I am finding the local people here extremely friendly and helpful, much more so than I was expecting!

If you had to recommend one place in the world to visit, where would it be?

Monkey Mia in Australia.  It is a small resort 10 hours north of Perth, I worked in the restaurant there and it overlooked the beach. Dolphins would often swim to the shore and in the mornings they would be fed by the conservation staff, who would also invite members of the public to help feed them! It’s a  great opportunity to see some beautiful Australian landscape and get really close to wildlife.

Where do you plan to visit next?

There are so many places I want to visit including Asia, but right now I plan on applying for Camp America next year.

KO ayrs rock

Traveller of the Week: Cultural Learnings, Beached Whales, and Social Survival…

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Name: Julia Kruk
Age: 22
Nationality: Canadian

Time on the Road (this trip or general outline):

I’m on a one year working holiday visa.

Funds (saving/working/’freegan’/mixed):  

I have saved enough to travel for five months and then plan to work throughout the rest of the trip.

What initially inspired you to travel?

I started meeting people from all over the world when I lived in Banff (a tiny mountain town in Canada) and found it interesting to hear so many stories from the visitors about their different ways of life and languages and cultures.  I was really keen to see what it was all about! It turns out I very much enjoy the company of Germans, and I can’t wait to visit!

How have your inspirations to explore the world changed since you began travelling?

I would definitely say that meeting people from other parts of the world and listening to them talk about their home land has inspired me more than anything. I had never thought twice about visiting England before, but during my time in Australia I have met so many amazing English peers. It gets me very excited. I would love to visit and learn more about the culture there.

What has been your most memorable experience abroad?

The Fraser Island tour. This departs from Rainbow Beach, north of the Sunshine Coast. It was hard to initially spend all that money up front (Australia is not cheap!) but it was totally worth it in the end. While I was there, a baby whale had somehow beached itself and died. The locals said that they don’t always know why this happens. It was a sad thing to see but also something I would probably never see again, and it was quite amazing to look at.

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I also have so many more things to look forward to; I will soon be living and working in Melbourne for a few months. It will be a completely different experience and a chance to really get to know the place better, rather than always travelling and moving around at a pace, as I have been lately.

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What would you say has been your most difficult or testing experience whilst travelling?

I originally came travelling alone, and have never taken myself out of my comfort zone so much before. There is so much more pressure to rely only on myself and to assume a lot more in the way of responsibilities. It can sometimes be quite hard when you have a bad day and you don’t have your close friends and family to hand for support. In order to make friends and meet new people it takes a lot of energy; always needing to smile and be at my best, when sometimes I don’t feel up to it. Sometimes I feel it gets tiring, but learning new ways to socialise freely with the people I meet has made me a lot stronger and more independent. I have so much more confidence now than I’ve ever had before. It’s very rewarding.

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Where are you right now?

Airlie beach, Queensland (going to the lagoon right away…)

Do you have any survival advice for new travellers in this country?

If you’re ever travelling solo and feeling alone, never get down! There are always many other travellers in your exact position. Sometimes you just have to get out there and make the initial gesture, in a hostel or on a tour or at an event. Everybody is open to making new friends! I find Australia a very friendly country on the whole.

If you had to recommend one place in the world to visit, where would it be?

Banff, Canada

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Where do you plan to visit next?

After Australia I will go to new Zealand before going home. Next summer – Germany!

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Having just completed the East Coast travellers route, Julia is currently preparing to move to Melbourne, Victoria, where she will settle and work throughout the remainder of her trip.