Tag Archives: budget

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

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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: 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.

Traveller Of the Week: From Scotland to Australia with one simple rule – NO FLYING

“IM DONE INNIT” – an extract from Stu’s Facebook status, posted just over two weeks ago.

After a year of talks with cargo ship companies I had my bag packed and was preparing to sleep in the cargo ships spare room beginning in Hong Kong, my last chance of getting to Australia without a plane and they cancelled on me due to a storm. There won’t be another one for months and it’s impossible to sail/ferry/swim to OZ due to the strict immigration laws. Woke up a few hours ago with one of the worst hangovers of my life thought f*ck it and booked a flight to Melbourne and am leaving for the airport now. 

Normally suspicious of an over the top ‘I went on holiday for too long and learnt so much when I did f*ck all on a beach’ status but would like to thank some people. Everyone who put up with me when I started working two jobs and saving up almost two years ago; sorry for falling asleep at your birthdays/every other events. I will repay you in annoying stories that I will find a way to fit into every conversation until you leave me, The Mongolian horse that dragged me into the desert, everyone who let me crash on their couch/car/floor/treehouse or work in their farm/bar/school. All the great people I travelled and lived with and all the mad sociopaths/’professional thinkers’/goofs for the entertainment, everyone who kept me sane over the  internet/skype when I was crazy homesick and not feeling myself and all my family especially mum and dad for being so decent and dealing with awful emails. 

I’ve lost everything (I have two t-shirts and swimming shorts and Muai Thai shorts and for some reason a suit in my bag) and definitely lost my nut and for the record I was never trying to escape my life at home, I just wanted to see some elephants. So will definitely not be my last big trip, but next time you should probably come with me.

And once again all the people I travelled with and the many people every day who pointed me in the right direction/randoms who gave me lifts to places and shared food with me. I can’t speak any other languages but all over the world there is a look of disappointment and frustration that I think is only made for when dealing with me. Didn’t manage to get [to Australia] overland but f*ck it eh was a good laugh for the most part.

Looking forward to having a go in Melbourne. Cheers and beers.

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Name:                  Stuart Nixon
Age:                       21
Nationality:     Scottish

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

10 months spent travelling from Scotland to China without flying. Now living & working in Australia for the next 10 months. Afterwards? Who knows!

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

I worked two supermarket jobs simultaneously for a year to save up for this trip.

What initially inspired you to travel?

My curiosity to see the world was always there from a young age, but over the last few years I had started to question close friends who were between ten and twenty years older than me. I got a general feeling that quite a few of them wished they had taken an opportunity to see more of the world. As I approached my twenties I knew I would need to make it happen soon.

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

This is the dangerous part! As much as I have learned to appreciate the comforts of home, I continuously meet people on my travels that inspire me to keep going for as long as possible.

Nothing ever really goes to plan; you start off with these fantasies of cheap flights, a museum visit, maybe a few parties, before booking a flight back home. But then you suddenly find yourself in the company of the next travelling inspiration and it makes your mind go crazy with new ideas for yourself and your friends.

I met an English guy who, one New Years’ morning, got in a taxi to Heathrow Airport in London and jumped straight onto the Internet there to ask his hung-over friends and family to decide where he was going to go. He had spent the last nine months getting directed around the world by an online community who chose his every move, be it training with Shaolin monks, or becoming an escort in Toronto when the money went low.

Inspiration doesn’t stop there. There were the newlyweds I met, who travelled for nine months wearing their dress and suit. And the man I met in China, who had cycled all the way there from his home in the Netherlands. He had initially attempted to cycle throughout the eastern European winter, but he had turned around and headed to Spain to wait it out. It was there that he met his girlfriend. When I met him in China, he was talking about getting trains from China straight back to Spain after a year and a half of his bicycle journey.

I mentioned it’s the dangerous part, because when you actually meet people who are doing these things and learn how they have made it possible, your thought process fast-forwards from “maybe I could do something like that in five or six years…” to “done” with an automatic calendar and budget plan appearing in your head.

What has been your most memorable experience abroad?

For a single experience, I’d say it was touring around the Mongolian-Manchurian Steppe with some Swedish travellers who I met in an old Russian Volkswagen. I was dragged through the Gobi desert by a horse during that weekend (Do this! ((not the horse dragging part)) I recommend booking the tour through UB Guesthouse in Ulaanbatar. It’s beautiful, you’ll never feel further from home and it’s very cheap!). The most memorable part of the whole thing (and I know this is going to sound most cliché) really was all the great people I met.

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When I used to look at a world map I’d get excited at the things I could potentially see. Now, when I think about the countries I’ve travelled or even just hear someone talking about the country, I find myself thinking of ‘her’ and ‘him’ and all the stupid stuff we did there. Even when I see the countries on the map that I haven’t been to yet, I can think of travellers I’ve met who live there, and all the great things they have had to say about their hometowns, and then I can’t wait to visit! So that’s always an exciting feeling to get out of traveling.

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

Hands-down, it’s missing home. I can deal with long train rides and smelly over cramped hostels, but even at the best of times I would have died just to spend an afternoon at my local pub with some old friends, or sat in watching TV at my Mums.

Where are you right now?

Melbourne, Australia

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

I just arrived here a week ago! So all I can say so far is bring some money! Or better yet stay and get a job. I swear down, I got a job offer to do labour work on the first day while minding my own business watching a DVD in the hostel. So now I can enjoy the laid back day-to-day Australia life and save (the moneys good!) enough to have some fun travelling up the coast.

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

Mongolia! Just go and find out…

Where do you plan to visit next?

Home for Christmas hopefully! Then who knows. Like I said – the ideas keep ticking around your head…

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You can read more about Stuart Nixon via his personal travel blog which he has recently started (now he has more reliable internet access!), which is: http://www.everythingilearneded.tumblr.com/tagged/learnededed/chrono

How To: Find the cheapest taxi out of Bangkok Airport

This requires a bit of patience if you are really watching the pennies, as most touts will promote a ‘special offer’ of around 500THB. However, it is possible to find a taxi ‘on the meter’ at Bangkok International Airport to take you on the 45 minute journey into the city for around 300THB (about £6.25/$9.62). On good days the total price on the meter has been under 270THB!

The best way to do this is to head to Departures, as there will be taxis here who have just dropped someone off, and will be heading back to the city anyway. They are the most likely to accept the meter fare.

They will expect you to pay the two toll fees on the way so make sure you have some change. The total cost of taxi & toll fee will still be less than a fixed price, which is often 400-600THB.

Throughout Bangkok you will see many fuchsia pink taxis, which are very famous! Look for them. They also have taxis that are red and yellow, which look a bit old-school, but all legitimate taxi drivers will have a licence set inside the left of the windscreen, which is most important especially if traveling alone.

 

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How To: Barter in Asia

In a Western society this is not something one has to learn how to master and therefore can be a bit daunting when arriving in Asia for the first time. However with a bit of practice and confidence you can achieve very low prices in Asia and avoid being ripped off once you learn two things: how to negotiate to a reasonable price with the seller, and learning what the reasonable prices are for each respective country.

Bartering skills are only really necessary where market stalls, open air establishments and ‘hawkers’ (sellers often found scouting the beach selling jewellery and souvenirs) are concerned. If buying something in a shop, or if you see a price tag, the price is almost always fixed and non-negotiable.

Generally speaking, Asian prices are low by Western standards. In many parts of countries such as Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, tourism is one of, if not, the biggest economy, so they do aim to make as much as possible out of you when you visit. The average wages in many parts of Asia are very low and they get very little support from their government if business is not going so well. For this reason, touts and the market people will naturally talk to you, sometimes walk after you, to try and make a sale.

For some travelers, while an exciting part of the experience, this can become tiring. Some days you want to be left alone and other days it can feel nice to stop and chat and have a bit of banter with the locals, maybe even practice some of the language. If the seller is confident and you seem to be getting nowhere with your negotiating skills, the etiquette is usually to thank them for their offer, walk away and advise that you know of a cheaper deal elsewhere. Most of the time they will call after you with a ‘final offer’, which can often be a reasonable price. If you are not so lucky, there are usually plenty of other sellers to compare prices with.

In order to be sure of whether or not you are being ripped off, well, it comes as a learning curve, and we all get stung at first. But one of the most magical things about travelling is that we get to meet other experienced travelers who can share information on deals that they have found, and people often sit together in hostels and run prices by each other to compare who has paid what.

Many locals that I have met have personally told me that it is very difficult for them to travel outside of their own country, mainly due to financial reasons. They have said that they see Western tourists as “very rich”. This idea can feel strange at first when you are backpacking and you can be feeling pretty poor or on a very tight budget at the time. This can also make you feel quite pressured at times when you are in a local village with people who may have never met a foreigner before and it can make you start to think about the cultural differences and your perspective of money.

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