Why you NEED to travel solo

If you asked me 12 months ago if I would ever travel alone, the answer would be “definitely not”. First of all, the idea of travelling solo seemed unsafe and lonely. Not to mention how bored I would get without a companion to share my experience with.

But a year on, I would actually rather travel alone.

Now I will say, travelling solo isn’t for everyone. Especially when being away from your loved ones for a long period of time. Some people live for the thrill of solo adventures. Others literally cannot stand it. But you never know if you don’t try right?

My decision to travel solo taught me many life lessons, most importantly, that being alone isn’t that bad. Everyone’s experience is different, but for me personally, going abroad by myself has completely transformed my travelling mindset.

Travelling is all about YOU

My biggest lesson from solo adventures is that travelling is all about you. You can do exactly as you please without the opinions of others influencing your decisions.

Want to try scuba diving? Do it. Feel like hiking a mountain? Do it. Want to sleep in until midday and eat pizza and ice cream for breakfast? Do it.

It’s your choice, your life, your very own adventure. Every choice whilst travelling alone is completely up to you. Do whatever you like and don’t let anyone stop you (except if it’s against the law of course).

20170116_173804

Solo travel gives you a new-found sense of freedom

Personally, I find solo adventures the most freeing feeling in the world. It allows you to be who you truly are and do all the things that you love doing. Each time you travel alone, you gain a new boost of confidence and sense of independence.

You have so much freedom when holidaying solo and the ability to say yes to everything (which is very difficult when travelling with other people).

Like I mentioned earlier, travelling solo is all. about. you. You have complete freedom to do everything you’ve ever dreamed of, with nobody around to stop you.

It allows you to become fully immersed in a new culture

In the past, travelling with friends has meant I’ve stuck to my regular routines. I tend to do what feels comfortable to me. Conversing in English only, eating foods I am familiar with, visiting tourist sites I googled online beforehand.

Adventuring alone changed that completely.

Personally, travelling solo has led to me branching out and trying new things. On a recent trip to Fiji, a conversation with a local man in Nadi prompted me to “do as the locals do”. I took his advice.

Trusting some locals to take me on an adventure of their choosing revealed one of the most beautiful snorkelling locations I’ve ever been to. On the walk down to the hidden cove, they taught me some of their native languages and gave a short history lesson on Fijian culture.

fiji

You are more inclined to branch out and meet new people

Travelling alone doesn’t need to be lonely. In fact, solo travel often results in meeting more people than you would when travelling with a companion.

As an advocate for all things budget travel, I tend to stick to hostels as my choice of accommodation. Not only are they cheap as chips, but are an amazing way to make friends on solo adventures.

On my most recent overseas trip, I made friends with a couple from England within hours of arriving to my hostel. How? I simply walked up to their table and asked if I could eat dinner with them. Three days later we were booking sunset kayaking trips together.

I have met some incredible people during my travels, and trust me, you will too.

dog

But Sophie? Won’t I get homesick if I travel alone?

I’m not going to lie, it’s highly possible you will experience homesickness at some stage, and unfortunately, it is unavoidable.

Initially, homesickness was the main reason I avoided travelling alone. But taking those initial steps and embarking on a journey alone has resulted in some of the best moments of my life, and overseas adventures I will never forget.

Don’t let fear stop you from chasing your dreams.

Until next time,
Jetsetter Soph

 

How to travel to Fiji when you’re broke

With its white sands, crystal clear waters and incredible coral reefs, Fiji is the perfect place for an island getaway. However when it comes to tropical islands, budget travel is the last thing that comes to mind. Contrary to popular belief, travelling to Fiji can be very very cheap.

Located in the South-Pacific, Fiji is made up of 333 individual islands, not all of which are inhabited. There are two main islands in Fiji, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. Suva, Fiji’s capital, is located on the island of Vitu Levu and is a great location to immerse yourself in the Fijian culture and explore the British colonial buildings.

fiji map

However if relaxing in a hammock whilst drinking from a coconut is more your thing, then I recommend visiting the Mamanuca Islands. Not only are they affordable, but the islands are a short boat ride from the Nadi International Airport, and are absolutely gorgeous.

So how do I travel to Fiji without breaking the bank? Read on to learn how.

Accommodation

As I mentioned in my post on 10 tips for travelling on a budget, staying in a hostel will save you so much money. Accommodation in Fiji can be as little as $15-20 per night, with most hostels offering free breakfast, free wifi and free entertainment as well.

However, if dormitory style accommodation isn’t your thing, most hostels offer private rooms with an ensuite. These rooms do cost extra to book, but are generally much cheaper than hotels or resorts.

19867154_1343906049011566_349846633_o
Ratu Kini Backpackers and Dive Resort, Mana Island – yes, this super cute beach bungalow is actually a hostel

Food

During my stay in Fiji, I was lucky enough to find accommodation with meals included. Ratu Kini Backpackers and Dive Resort offers free breakfast every day with lunch and dinner included in the cost of your accommodation. In order to get this deal, you do have to book your accommodation through Ratu Kini’s website, however, in doing so, you will save so much money on meals.

Most islands will have a convenience store at the hostel or resort that sell snacks, water and personal items. But this can be very expensive and your options for food are limited. I recommend visiting a supermarket on the main land and buying snacks and a few bottles of water before heading out to the islands. The tap water on the islands is not safe to drink so bottled water is a must.

Water, in particular, is very pricey to buy on the islands and this is something you’ll need a lot of in a tropical location like Fiji!

19876101_1343906029011568_494050564_o
Mana Island, Fiji

Transportation

Most of the islands of Fiji are quite small, so travelling by foot is the only option. However on the main islands of Vitu Levu and Vanua Levu, public transport is the best way to get around. Taxi’s are plentiful but can be expensive if you wish to travel a long distance.

Some of the best advice I received when I was travelling in Fiji was “do as the locals do”. Rather than using taxi’s, I travelled using buses and it saved me so. much. money. Instead of paying $10 for a taxi into Nadi, I paid 50 cents for a bus that took me to the exact same place.

Travelling out to the islands is either by boat or sea plane (but let’s be real, you need to have a lot of money to fly there in a sea plane). If you’re lucky, some hostels offer free transport by boat from the mainland. However, if your place of accommodation does not offer this, South Sea Cruises is a relatively cheap way to travel. You pick your time, board the boat at Port Denurau, and sit back and relax in the air-conditioned cabin.

17976459_1260384534030385_201685367_o

Have fun for free

Swimming and hiking are activities that you can do on virtually every island in Fiji (and they won’t cost you a thing). I opted to take my own snorkelling gear to the islands but most places will offer snorkel hire for free as well as free kayak and stand up paddle board hire.

Many hostels also run cultural activities throughout the day such as coconut cutting demonstrations, local language classes and fire twirling shows.

Other top tips for travelling to Fiji!

  • Make sure you have cash when travelling to the smaller Fijian islands as many of them do not have ATMs
  • Use a site such as hostelworld to book accommodation. This will show you the cheapest places to stay as well as reviews and recommendations from previous guests
  • Do your research: some islands are more expensive than others based on the type of accommodation and the activities the island offers. Make sure to do your research to ensure you’re getting the best deal!

 

Have you been to Fiji before? I would love to hear about your travels! If you have any tips for holidaying in Fiji on a budget, let me know in the comments below. 

Until next time,
Jetsetter Soph

19885942_1343905952344909_1118579916_o

 

 

 

7 Travel mistakes you DON’T want to make

Making mistakes whilst travelling happens to everyone and sometimes it’s something we can’t avoid (hello delayed flights). However, if you’re new to globetrotting, travelling can be daunting and errors can often occur. Here are my top travel mistakes you DO NOT want to make.

1. Not packing clothes in your carry on

We’ve all seen it happen. That one person at the luggage carousel who never receives their bags. I was always under the assumption that “it will never happen to me”. Until I arrived in Florence with no luggage, a carry-on bag full of books and just the clothes on my back. Huge. Mistake.

My advice? Packing spare clothes in your carry-on bag is ESSENTIAL. You never know when you might be the one without a suitcase at the baggage carousel.

2. Overpacking

We often have the urge to pack extra clothing “just in case”. But do you really need 9 pairs of shoes for a month long trip? No. Overpacking not only makes your luggage difficult to carry around but can lead to accidentally exceeding weight limits. If you have under packed, do some laundry during your trip or use it as an excuse to buy new clothes whilst abroad.

A woman kneeling on a suitcase full of clothes

3. Using data roaming

Unless you’re in the mood to spend $3000 on your next phone bill, turn you data roaming OFF! Whilst switching your data on “just for a second” is hugely convenient, it is also ridiculously expensive. Alternatively, use a travel sim or local sim from the country you are visiting. If you don’t require data often, rely on wifi. Most hotels and restaurants offer free wifi meaning you won’t have to spend money on a new sim card and can still surf the net.

4. Keeping all of your cash in the one place

Storing all of your cash in the one place is a big mistake. Whilst it is very rare that your money could get stolen, keeping it all in the one place means you lose EVERYTHING if theft does happen. Make sure you split your cash up and store small amounts in different places. Need some inspiration for hiding your coin? Check out these tips from The Travel Insurance Review.

Remember, never carry large amounts of cash on your person. Never take out more cash than you need for the day and make sure you store it in a discreet place (yes, putting your wallet in your back pocket is a big no-no).

travel money15. Not leaving enough time between flights

Booking your connecting flights within hours of one another seems like a good idea in theory. Until one flight gets delayed and ruins your plan entirely. On a recent trip to Italy, I had the grand idea of booking my flights back to back to minimise waiting time in the airport. The next thing I know I was sprinting across the tarmac at Rome Airport and knocking people over with my bag, desperately trying to make it onto my next flight that was leaving in 15 minutes.

I did make it onto the plane (just), but I also learnt a valuable lesson. Leave PLENTY of time between your flights. You WILL need it.

6. Not sticking to a budget

I totally get it. You’re overseas, exploring a new country and the urge to splurge is strong. But continuing to overspend can mean running out of money towards the end of your trip. This is a mistake you (literally) cannot afford to make. You don’t necessarily need to abide by a strict budget, but keeping track of your spending is a good idea. Mobile apps such as Trip Wallet and Trabee Pocket allow you keep up to date with your overseas spending, and tell you exactly how much money you have for the rest of your trip.

Trabee.jpg

7. Forgetting to notify your bank of your travel plans

ALWAYS notify your bank of your overseas trip before leaving the country. Payments made on your card whilst overseas can seem suspicious to the bank if they do not know you’re abroad. The last thing you need is your card being declined, cutting off your access to spending money.

Notify your bank of your plans prior to departing. Make sure to ask about any foreign transactions fees so they don’t catch you by surprise.

If you have any travel mistakes you’d like to share, let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,
Jetsetter Soph

10 tips for travelling on a budget

I used to be under the assumption that travelling was something I could not afford. Fulfilling my dreams of visiting every continent in the world could not be possible on a student budget. I’ll just have to wait until I’m 67 years old and dip into my retirement fund to be able to afford plane tickets.

WRONG.

Over my few short years of galavanting around the globe, I’ve learnt a lot from travelling, especially when it comes to travelling on a budget.

1. Be flexible with flight dates

Being flexible with your flight dates can save you a tonne of money. A number of flight comparison sites such as Skyscanner and Google Flights have an option where you can select an entire month, rather than two particular departure and return dates. This shows you the individual prices for flights each day. And yes, some are SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than others. This tip could literally save you hundreds on flight prices!

flights

2. Buy your own travel insurance

This is a mistake I have made many times. I’ve opted to book my holidays through a travel agent and agreed to use their travel insurance company, not realising it would cost me around $200-$300. BIG NO NO. Travel insurance can be as little as $40 for an overseas trip depending on the type of cover you need. By using a site such as Compare the Market, you can find travel insurance to suit your requirements and save your coins.

3. Don’t be afraid to stay in a hostel

I must admit, I was one of those people who were apprehensive about staying in a hostel. After all, dormitory style accommodation just isn’t my thing. But seriously, they are So. Damn. Cheap. For as little as $20 a night (depending on the country of course), you have a bed to sleep on, free wifi and sometimes the inclusion of 3 meals per day. Plus, hostels are the number one place to meet travel companions if you’re backpacking solo.

If dorms still aren’t your top accommodation choice, opt to stay in a private room at a hostel. You’ll have your own bedroom and bathroom, and will still save money on accommodation costs.

HostelWorld is a fantastic website for finding cheap accommodation. The site allows you to pick and compare hostels and provides thousands of reviews from other travellers, ensuring you find accommodation to suit your needs.

hostel

4. Save on snacks

Rather than eating out at expensive restaurants everytime you get peckish on your day trips, grab some snacks from a local supermarket. Stock up on nuts, fruit or biscuits that you can easily throw in your day bag or backpack and save your coins.

5. Don’t forget the tourist tax refunds

Some countries have tourist tax refund schemes for purchases you make whilst abroad. You can claim a refund on some (or even all) of the tax you pay on retail goods. Make sure you hold onto your receipts as proof of purchase is generally a requirement. You may also need to fill out some paperwork, but that’s not so bad considering the refunds you gain from your purchases.

6. Have fun for free

Numerous cities around the world offer free walking tours where you can see some of the best tourist sites and learn the history behind them. Sightseeing and hiking are also fun options that won’t cost you a dime. As tourist areas have a tendency to be far more expensive, chat to some locals about areas you should check out. Not only will you save money, but you also get the chance to see some hidden places you had no idea existed.

rome

7. Reward programs

Numerous airlines have reward programs for frequent flyers where you can work your way up to a free plane ticket. Even if you don’t fly often, these reward programs are free so you have nothing to lose by signing up. If one day you happen to earn enough points, you may just get a flight for free.

8. Do as the locals do

I recently received this advice whilst travelling in Fiji. Upon asking the hostel owner how to get into Nandi Town he told me, “do as the locals do.” Next thing I know I was out on the side of the road waving down buses. Rather than spending all your money on a taxis, opt for a bus. This simple tip saved me So. Much. Money. I’d rather pay 70 cents for a bus fare than $15 for a taxi any day.

9. Beware of pricey exchange rates

Comparing exchange rates before trading your dollars can save you a lot of money. Check out rates at banks, currency exchange services and airports before you exchange. Remember, exchange rates fluctuate every day so make sure to keep a close eye on it before your trip abroad. Exchanging at the right time ensures you don’t lose too much of those precious dollars.

The site Currency Shop allows you to search and compare exchange rates across numerous currency exchange services across Australia. It is free to use and is super helpful in choosing the perfect place to buy foreign currency.

money

10. Pack less

Avoid the additional luggage costs by staying well under the baggage weight restrictions. By packing less on the way over, you’ll have extra weight to play with on the way home. If you are only heading overseas for a short time, ditch the checked bag completely. Flying with just carry on means you don’t pay for luggage at all (just make sure it’s not over 7kgs to avoid those fees).

I hope these 10 tips help you save money on your next trip overseas. If you have any tips for budget travel that you’d like to share let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,
Jetsetter Soph