Whilst struggling to fall asleep one night I started to retrace some of my favourite memories over the last few years; almost all of which come back to my summer travels.
Now as university students we all know how hard it is to finance ourselves and find free time between deadlines to do as we please. This is extra problematic for the travellers among us with a yearning desire to get out into the world. However, there is a huge advantage to being a student traveller; the massive summer holidays of four/five months! I could think of nothing better than to use that time between academic years to travel the world and tick items off my bucket list.
This is a list of where I went and how I travelled…30 Places in 14 Countries over 3 Continents in 2 Summers.
1)Bordeaux, France (Nov/14) – This was a brief bit of travelling along the French coastline, all in the back of a strangers camper-van. We only stopped off in Bordeaux to transfer into another stranger’s vehicle – And no this was not a kidnap scenario. It was just jailbreak – The RAG run University event (Free).
2)Toulouse, France (Nov/14) – The end destination of my jailbreak adventure in my first year. Jailbreak is something every student can get involved with if they want to and it’s all for a good cause. I would highly recommend since there is nothing quite as exhilarating as trying to hitchhike your way across the globe in fancy dress. (Free)
3)Amsterdam, Netherlands (Feb/15) – Again a University event that anyone can be involved in. Amsterdam is one to definitely experience at some point and probably a good thing to tick off the bucket list while you are young and a fresher. Especially if you want to appreciate all the city’s quirks properly. (£130)
4)Mahon, Minorca (Jun/15) – A last minute cheap deal from the travel agent with my best friend for a week getaway to this little paradise. Be open to quickly jetting off at the drop of the hat and you’ll find some real bargains. (£200)
AMERICA5)New York, America (Jun-Aug/15) – I got to tick the big apple of my bucket list by signing up to Camp Leaders where I worked as a general camp councillor for The Fresh Air Fund, a camp just outside of New York that works hard to provide a fun experience for inner-city New York kids.
Although I spent a good portion of my time in the woods there were opportunities on breaks between camp sessions to visit NYC. The experience was all I had hoped and more, I made incredible friends, saw some of the big attractions of New York and even met Danny Devito on 5th Avenue! (£500 fee to join the site – Get paid a small fee for working there which kind of evens out what you spent…so long as you don’t spend your paycheck).
7)Split, Croatia (Aug/15)
8)Zadar, Croatia (Aug/15)
9)Zagreb, Croatia (Aug/15) – My coastal tour of Croatia was incredible, the entire country is picture perfect! In Split we enjoyed a fun nightlife on the beach, in Zadar we went to see the Krka National Waterfall which basically looked like Eden and in Zagreb we soaked up the capital city life and visited the museums and zoo. Croatia is a wonderful country with so much culture and scenery; if it’s not on your bucket list then add it.
10)Budapest, Hungary (Aug/15) – What happens in Budapest, stays in Budapest. All I will say is that place is quite something and definitely one of my favourite cities in Europe. If you go in summer like we did then you can attend the Budapest spa party, which I will warn you now; it’s pretty seedy. You can also hike to see the liberty statue. Although I would not advise doing that when hungover, especially in the crazy summer heat – it was horrendous! But ultimately worth it because you can see the entire city in all its glory.
11)Bratislava, Slovakia (Aug/15) – Bratislava is an adorable little city that has so much culture and charm and not enough tourists. The place got a bad label after the horror film ‘Hostel’ loosely based itself on the capital city but please don’t let you put that off – it’s nothing like that, it’s idyllic and historical. You won’t get murdered.
12)Vienna, Austria (Aug/15) – Vienna felt like a more impressive version of London to me. Far more class, bigger shopping areas and incredible architectural structures that just can’t be competed with. This city is a lot of fun, a tad pricey and very modern if that is your kind of thing.
13)Prague, Czech Republic (Aug/15) – Prague was another top contender for my favourite European city, the grand buildings that fill it are mind-blowing. It’s another fun city for going out and I would say the boat trip at night was a great highlight, especially when you see the castle in the distance all lit up. Again lots of culture, history and plenty to keep yourself busy with. (All together the Eastern Europe trip cost around £500-£600 – Brexit hadn’t happened back then).
14)Bangkok, Thailand (Jun-Aug/16) – Bangkok is perhaps my least favourite capital city that I have ever visited, but saying that, it is the central hub for all transport and the cheapest flights into South East Asia. It’s not that it is a terrible city, but more than staying there for an extended period of time would not be my idea of heaven. The temples inside the city are spectacular and you will be beyond impressed with their pristine condition – the city itself, not so much, but you can adjust!
15)Koh Tao, Thailand (Jun-Aug/16)
16)Koh Samui, Thailand (Jun-Aug/16)
17)Koh Phangan, Thailand (Jun-Aug/16) – Island hopping is a must-do in Thailand and although we did not have time to hit them all, we still managed a fair few which kept us content. Koh Tao offers the best watersport and diving opportunities.
Koh Phangan, on the other hand, is known to many as the party island due to the famous ‘full moon parties’ on the beach that attracts young adults globally. Lastly, Koh Samui felt more like a family resort and was definitely the most westernised of the three, I mean it was the only one to have a McDonalds – I know you’re shocked but yes there are still few places without one.
18)Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Jun-Aug/16) – Cambodia stole my heart; probably because I spent a month there teaching in a small village not too far from the capital. Come to the end of the month the village started to feel homey to me and it was truly difficult to leave. Cambodia is a beautiful country on it’s the way to a much brighter future. But, there was a point in Cambodian history, where things were incredibly dark. The genocide under the Khmer Rouge in the ’70s claimed the lives of almost two million people. The museums and killing fields in Phnom Penh we’re harrowing but so important to visit and I would recommend really using your time travelling to educate yourself and open your mind to the bigger picture.
19)Sihanoukville, Cambodia (Jun-Aug/16) – The beach town that is almost impossible to pronounce and even harder to spell. I had one of the craziest nights of my entire life here; it involved a lot of alcohol, fire dancers, coyote ugly dancing, the sea, pickle sandwiches and my friend sticking her fingers down my throat. It was hilarious and amazing and I would go back in a heartbeat if I could.
20)Siem Reap, Cambodia (Jun-Aug/16) – Riverside bar with rope swings and inflatables; where can you go wrong? It’s like all the troubles in the world don’t exist when you’re in Siem Reap. Well unless you ate something that your stomach didn’t agree with…then troubles do exist. But embrace the Delhi belly guys, it’s a running joke for all tourists out there – literally (too much?).
21)Singapore (Jun-Aug/16) – Singapore is like a futuristic paradise. It’s honestly incredible, if you get the chance to take a stroll at night then do so. There is honestly nothing more magical then the Singapore skyline lit up. There are endless things to do in Singapore, like zoos, museums, parks; which is surprising considering how small it is. You won’t get bored but it will dent your travel fund so be prepared for the pricey side to life.
22)Johor, Malaysia, (Jun-Aug/16)
23)Melacca, Malaysia (Jun-Aug/16)
24)Batu Pahat, Malaysia (Jun-Aug/16)
25)Kuala Lumper, Malaysia (Jun-Aug/16) – Travelling up through Malaysia to KL was surprisingly easy. The buses were accessible and super cosy. There’s plenty to see, do and eat in Malaysia. My personal highlight was all the cute little monkeys! But be warned, they will take you for all you are worth if you let them, so hold your possessions tightly.
26)Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Jun-Aug/16)
27)Phan Thiet, Vietnam (Jun-Aug/16) – The colours are more vivid then anywhere else in the world, it’s like being in a cartoon.
28)Cam Ranh, Vietnam (Jun-Aug/16)
29)Hanoi, Vietnam (Jun-Aug/16)
30)Ha Long Bay, Vietnam (Jun-Aug/16) – Oh ‘Nam. What a geographically and aesthetically spectacular country. Although the coach rides from place to place feel like they take centuries, it’s so worth it. If you ever need a place to unwind then the coastline of Vietnam would be my first choice. If you want to visit paradise on Earth then take a boat trip around Ha Long Bay, it’s surreal! (The whole South East Asia trip priced up around £2,000 – it would have been less if I didn’t have to pay £550 for medical jabs to stay in a rural area but I guess that’s the price of living).
That is all of my travel list since I began University. Travelling is costly and time-consuming but if it is what you want to do then there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t. I prioritised saving money for my travels and I took every opportunity I could to lessen the price and learn the tricks of the industry to get the best for my money. Do some investigating before you go abroad, plan in advance for cheaper trips and if possible get a part-time job and save up for it. I promise you these memories and these life-changing experiences you gain for travelling, will 100% be worth every single penny you spend.
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