Getting sick on vacation

I don’t mean the  drank too much kind of sickness..

Getting sick on vacation is the best thing in the world ! All the time you spend getting shots, taking medications, bringing medications, and then you get some weird sickness that you have never even heard of before ! Awesome, right!?

I have had my fair share of sickness on holidays from drinking too much and puking (on beaches so that’s paradise), eating too much and puking (I entered an eating contest, at least I won), horrible stomach cramps (probably because I did not want to hike that day… let’s be real), but NOTHING prepared me for this !!

No, this wasn’t an allergy. I know this because I was in a hospital in Thailand being treated for an allergy for many a days and hours. Nothing helped, it only got worse.

I spent the day on a motorcycle, cruising around the town and going to the beach. It was a super hot day out and I was loving it ! In the evening time we went for some drinks and played Uno on our porch. I felt like my forehead skin was a little tight, whenever I would raise my eyebrows it looked like I had a goose egg forehead. I did have a small sunburn, so I figured that must be it. I felt completely normal.

The next morning I wake up and look in the mirror to see this horror…. I looked like Quasi Modo. My forehead had swollen much larger, my one eye was swollen shut (yet I could still see fine… hmmmmm), and I basically look like I took on an entire Muay Thai fighting team and lived. Again, I felt completely normal ! I did not feel sick one bit ! I could breath fine, everything was all good. Wearing sunglasses you could not tell the horror that laid underneath. I went to the hospital and got an IV, I got allergy medications, I got this and that and cream and boom.. nothing worked. So I continued to grace the other tourists with my lovely face for the next 4 days cause I was there to party, not sit in my room.

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After a few days my face started to go down and I never did get sick. I rode it out and nothing has happened since. During this time I was going through a super stressful time (my traveling partner had to go home for an emergency and I had never traveled alone before). After they left and I had a few days too cool down and realize it wasn’t all that bad was when my swollen face started to go down again. I think this was my bodies way of protecting me, making me look like a fool so I was safe… so no one would come near me.

Let’s just hope I never get this stressed out again.

Have you ever gotten sick on vacation?

What the media does to us

 

Do you let people read your travel journal ?

I am one of those people who keep a travel journal..

I do not have a journal, or diary, or whatever you want to call it, at home. I only buy a new book for every vacation I go on, and I write in it everyday.

I write about where we are, how we got there, how I liked the place we were staying, the flight/ train, how long our main flights were and if we got sick or not. My favorite place, or what we did each day. I write down if my travel buddy is pissing me off, or if I wanted to travel with them again. Basic things that I can read in 10, 20, 50 years from now that will bring me back to each trip and make me feel like I was there again.

BUT I DON’T LET ANYONE READ THEM. There is nothing incriminating in them, and if you are on the trip with me you know exactly what I am writing in there, but there is just something about people reading what you physically wrote that bothers me… IRONIC since I started a travel blog..

Do you let people read your travel journals?

How I plan my trips .

Here it is, detailed information on how I plan my backpacking trips !

Mine may be very different from how you would book a trip because of many factors. I keep my full time job and I travel the globe within my annual holiday leave… so I don’t really have the ability to travel for long periods of time (anymore… I did when I was younger), and getting lost, because to me that means missing my flight home, or missing out on something I really wanted to see while traveling.

Because I only have a few weeks holidays each year, I try to stick to one Country and completely travel that one place instead of jetting around trying to see everything.

I also like booking my holidays in advance because

  1. I am an organization freak… I love to know exactly when to show up, knowing someone will be there to pick me up, I like having all my bookings in order. I find that I spend tons of time before my trips booking and planning  (which is actually super fun) and then when I arrive on my vacation I just go with the flow and I don’t have to be booking hotels or travel trains while on the fly..
  2. It is cheaper. It’s true that if you just “go with the flow” on traveling around you will be paying more money. I book my rooms and flights and travel well in advance so that I get the best seat, or bed on the night train, and I am not paying an arm and a leg for it. When these companies like hotels or trains see that you are wanting to travel today, they may jack the price up on you, which means less money to spend while there.
  3. I can just enjoy myself knowing I get to go to all the places on my list and see all the amazing things I wanted to see.
  4. I can pay for the trip slowly while I book everything and then by the time I go I just need spending money. I can come home with no debt and start saving for my next adventure.. cause nothing makes you want to travel more than coming home from an awesome trip

Where to go ?

The first thing I decide is, well, where to go !? If you are just getting into the backpacking world you may want to start where everyone goes… Thailand. My moto is that I want to see the entire world so it doesn’t matter if I go to this Country this year, or next, I will still be going… Because I am a young adult starting out in the world on an entry level pay cheque I tend to stick to South East Asia as it is really cheap (and because I also am in love with it !). I will keep the other more expensive Countries for when I am making more money, or more settled in my life.

Destinations

Where to go within a Country is hard… What I do is I usually will look up travel companies online that go to that destination, so for example if I want to go to South Africa I would do tons of research on where to go, where to avoid, and then I will find a company that travels there and they usually have a brief itinerary of where they go on their website with a map. This is so I don’t just bounce North to South to back to the North and oh I missed that place in the South.. I go in a well thought out circle of places. These companies are also good beause they take you to places that you wouldn’t usually think about going, like a national park or a small town that has something amazing in it. I then decide how long I want to stay in each place depending on how much there is to do there, or how much other people in reviews said they liked it.

I will then create my itinerary with very basics:

When I am flying in.

Where I am going in order

How many days I want to stay in each place

different travel options between each place

Where I want to end up to fly back home

Paying for the trip

The thing that bothers me so much is when I invite someone to come traveling with me and they say “I can’t afford it”… I literally went to Thailand for 24 days, got veneers, blew my money away like I was Kylie Jenner and I ended up only spending 5000$ (that would be 2000$ if I didn’t get my teeth done, which you can read about HERE). YOU CAN AFFORD IT, you just don’t want to.

To make my life easier I don’t pay for the trip at once. Like I said above, I like to slowly book my holiday so that I can slowly pay for it so I don’t have debt. It is hard for most people to save up say 2000-3000$ without spending it, and then pay for the trip all at once.. why do you think that these travel companies let you make payments for their trips…

I will start planning like 6 months in advance (which is fun as well because that gives you something to look forward to), so this is most likely right after I return from a previous trip. I will give myself a budget per month, so I will say OK this month I will pay for my main flights, next month I will give myself 300$, and I will start booking until I hit my 300$ and then wait to continue booking till the next month. I also like paying for as much as I possibly can before arriving, so if a hostel tells me I only need to pay a deposit, or just for the first night, I will ask to pay the entire amount so that I don’t have to carry around as much cash when I arrive, and I know that all the cash I have is for me to spend freely… I don’t need to budget to pay for my next room.

I put everything I can on my master card because I get cashback. Also awesome if you get points or have a travel reward Credit Card because you can use your travel expenses to pay for your next trip! This also gives you a month to pay off this portion of your trip (so for me my MasterCard billing cycle ends on the 12th of the month, so I will spend my budget for that month up until the 11th, then I will continue with my next month budget on the 12th.. I do this because once you get into looking and finding cool places to stay you want to keep booking things, you don’t want to wait! )

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Finding Flights

After I have made my skeleton itinerary I will decide when I want to fly in. Flights are usually cheapest when you clear your computer history and cache cookies (no clue what that means but just clear your history) because once your computer catches onto you looking up flights the prices may go up… Booking flights during the week like a Tuesday afternoon are usually cheaper as well, who knows why. Flying days are also cheaper on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday as well because most people like to travel on the weekends.

I will google : Destination to Destination (ex: Calgary to Bangkok) and I will look through sites like cheapflights.com or kayak.com, while deleting my history every once in a while. I will keep a list of how long the flights are and how much they cost in a spreadsheet. I will keep watching these flights for quite some time before actually booking them. Flights are usually cheapest about 40 days before you want to depart but I have watched flights before and got killer prices like months in advance. When I see a really low price for a flight that has the least amount of fly time I will book it. No waiting when you want a good price !

Inner flights or other travel

Once I have my main flights booked I am good to start booking the rest of my trip ! I will go back to my skeleton itinerary and fill in my new flight information, I will then start booking my trip in the order I will be traveling. I do this so that if a train doesn’t go on a certain day of the week that I need to travel to the next place, I can just adjust my itinerary and not have to cancel or extend previous rooms.

When traveling larger or more spread out Countries like Thailand or Vietnam I like to look at trains, buses and flights. With such a short period of time for me to be traveling around I might pay the extra few dollars (literally like 5$ difference sometimes in Asia) to take a flight instead of sitting on a train for 18 hours. The inner flights in these Countries range from 40-150$ CAD which is super cheap ! The only thing with this is you need to be prepared with your luggage on what to check under the plane and what to bring on, you have to keep your bag flight ready during your holiday.

I do enjoy taking the night train in these places as well, they range from 50-100$ CAD and are a lot of fun. I enjoy these because you travel while you sleep instead of losing an entire day you could be enjoying sitting on a train. They are also very luxurious trains if you buy the beds instead of the chairs and its a great way to see a ton of the Country instead of just flying everywhere. I also really like the trains because if I want to travel to one destination to go Scuba Diving but I only want to be there for 1-2 days, I might fly in and then take the train out (to avoid the decompression chamber!)

The local buses are also a good way to get around. They are super cheap sometimes less than 1$ to get from one end of town to the other. The locals on the trains are also very helpful if you are not sure what bus to get on or when to get off. I tend to carry around a card of my hotel or hostel with me so I can easily ask anyone while pointing to the address, in case they don’t speak English.

When to go

I always book my vacations around the same time every year because that’s when school is done (for my traveling partners) and that’s when there is a lull in my job. But I would check where you want to go and what the weather is there before booking a trip. You may end up traveling in typhoon season, or rainy season which might put a damper in your plans.

Booking rooms

Once I have my main flights booked, and most of my inner travel like my trains, buses, and flights, I will start going through the places I want to stay. In areas like Asia where the cabs or getting around is cheap I don’t really care where I stay. In other Countries where the cabs might be expensive I would either stay close to the train station or airport, or I would find a place in the heart of the action so I could explore around without paying for expensive cabs.

I google “Ho chi Minh hotel or hostel” and just start looking at prices, reviews, and what is included (breakfast, free shuttle pickup). I also ask the people I am traveling with to look as well and usually we book the places they choose.

Things to do

In my itinerary I will also leave a section for “things to do”.When I am researching I may find this museum is amazing, or this is the best beach in this town, I can then write this down in that City spot and when we arrive there we are not looking for things to do, we already have a list of possible adventures to go on. I also write down the hours of operation for some things such as “Asia Park” in Vietnam is only open from 3 pm – 10 pm, so we don’t plan to wake up early on day to go and find out it is closed. I also put down how much something costs so we can budget our money, or know how much to take out at the ATM.

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Visa

Visa are different for every Country so I would just google whether the Country you live in needs a visa for the Country you want to visit. Most of the time you can just buy the visa online or upon arrival. This is something I would absolutely look into for every Country you go to as you might be denied entry if you didn’t get an approval letter or a stamp in your passport. The prices for each visa are different so again, just google it or read other people’s online threads.

Thailand night train- 1st and 2nd class

Are we really travel savvy ?

How do you not move ?

Booking vacations for yourself is actually super fun, I don’t see it as work. I get the joy of booking places and flights and putting together my itinerary for months prior to my trip and then I get to go and enjoy myself.

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Living in the jungle

It just makes you feel like Tarzan and Jane…

We stayed in these jungle houses in Khao Sok National Park in Thailand. We were surrounded by trees and mountains, exactly like a Jungle atmosphere. This was a very cool experience, living up in tree houses, and walking around on high up bridges to get from room to room. The rooms were sealed fairly well with a sliding glass door.

There was only one spot where any jungle creatures could get in… and that was the open hole in the bathroom floor for the shower water to drain out. There were numerous different animals and bugs in this jungle than we had seen anywhere else ! The worst for me was going into my shower and not noticing until half way through that there was snake skin hanging from the ceiling right above my head !

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I was convinced after that that we had a snake in our roof and I went into my room to sleep after that.. I kept my bag zipped all the way up !

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Paragliding

Don’t let your fears stop you from doing something amazing.

I am scared of heights, terrified. Ok, let’s clarify… I am terrified of falling. So when we traveled to Turkey and ended up in a city called Oludeniz where the sky was full of para-gliders… I was torn. This looked like a beautiful place to para glide, and the people all look like they were having the time of their lives when they were landing on the beach.

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After a few days of touring around the town, and hanging out on the beach (which by the way was voted in National Geographic magazine one year as the 2nd most beautiful beach in the world, AND FOR GOOD REASON), I decided I was going to give it a shot. I thought and worried about it all the night before, and had a hard time going to sleep that night.

We woke up pretty early in the morning, because that is when the best para-gliding is, and walked down to the beach. We signed our waivers and paid for our “jump” and they loaded a group of us into a small van. I was so scared I was going to back out that I volunteered to be in the first group to go up that day. The drive up the mountain took about 20 minutes and I refused to talk to really anyone the entire time… I was trying so hard to stay out of my own head and not think too hard about what I was about to do. I had my go pro strapped to my chest and was twiddling my thumbs.

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As soon as we reached the top of the mountain we all piled out of the van. We were on a cobblestone platform that looked like it went off into heaven… we were actually in the clouds. They had asked who was ready to go, and again, scared that I was going to back down I volunteered to be the first one to go out. I got all strapped in and before I knew it the guy attached to me told me to start running towards the clouds. I was running and running and running, even when my feet were no longer touching the ground. He finally told me “OK you can sit back now” and I looked down and saw us go over the mountain edge.

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I was really nervous so I was asking all sorts of questions, and taking pictures. The view was the most amazing thing I had seen, and I wanted to really enjoy it. The guy asked if I would like to “spin” or fall for a bit, and I said “no thank you!” No way I want to plummet to the ground dude ! Once we were in the air I realized… HEY WHERE ARE THE OTHER PARAGLIDERS. They usually have hundreds in the sky by this time of day. He told me that we were the very first ones out that day as it had been very windy and we were supposed to test the winds and let everyone else know how dangerous it was.

OMG! I didn’t sign up to be the guinea pig!

By the time I landed there were the hundreds of para-gliders in the sky again. The pictures and memories I made can’t be replaced. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

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I celebrated with an entire jug of sangria to myself! CHEERS

Just do it. 

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The most beautiful beach

Swimming with sharks

Are we really travel savvy ?

How do you not move ?

Thailand night train- 1st and 2nd class

I love the night train !

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I can only speak on the night Train in Thailand as I have not tried the one in Vietnam yet ! But I have been to Thailand twice, taking both 1st and 2nd class on the night train.

The first time I went we were in a big group, so we took the 2nd class bunks. These were not bad ! I think tickets were around 30$ CAD and when you boarded you had 2 benches facing eachother with seat numbers on them. The workers will come and punch a hole in your ticket, making sure you have the correct seat. You are allowed to bring food and drinks on the train (I think… we did), but not alcohol (we snuck it on and took our cans with us when we left). They also sell food like breakfast and drinks on the train, but it is super expensive and to me it was not worth it.

2nd class:

After the train starts moving, workers will come down the train carts and set up the beds for everyone. Your bench seats will be become bunk beds where you have only a curtain separating your bed from the “hallway”.  Outside your bunk is where you have spots to put your travel bags. This was not so bad for us because we knew the majority of the people in our cart on the train, so we did not have to worry about waking up to our things being stolen (it’s right outside the curtain though so you COULD hear it if someone were stealing your stuff). The bottom bunk is where it is at because the top bunk is right beside the fan or A/C machine. You only get one blanket so being on the top bunk is a bit freezing.

The bathrooms in the 2nd class are pretty dirty, having only a squatter toilet… which sucks when you are drinking on the train, and then it is also moving, and you’re used to your porcelain throne from back home.

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1st class:

The first class is what I would use again if I went on the night train. I think tickets were around 65$ CAD each and it was 2 people to a “room”. You go on the train and you have 2 choices of bathrooms, which was nice; one was an actual toilet, and the other was a squatter (which is all they had in 2nd class). The rooms were really small but you had an area to put somethings, like your bags, a small sink with a small mirror and then a bench seat that the workers would come and make into bunk beds. I liked this way of traveling more than 2nd class because you had a door that could lock and it made me feel more secure. We also were traveling with another couple and our rooms were right beside each other with a door in the middle that you could lock or open up.

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The best part of the night train is getting to watch your journey out your window. It is such a cool way to travel and see tons without wasting too much time. I loved waking up in the morning, opening my window curtain and watching the trees and cities go by.I highly recommend trying it! I am very excited to travel on the Vietnam night train this May.

Eating banana’s and cucumber on a nude beach

We did that… 

We traveled to a beautiful small town in Crete, Greece in 2013. This was a beautiful little town that had a bumping night life, but was quiet during the day. They had a beautiful beach along the main road, but they were also surrounded by mountains and many other hidden gem beaches.

Our friends had told us about this amazing beach that they wanted to take us to one day. We all went to the local market and loaded up with some snacks for the day as this beach was kind of out of the way. We bought strawberries, cucumbers, bananas, and any other fruit/ veggie that looks appealing to us (super cheap food here also). We started our hike to this beach, that took about 30-45 minutes. We had walked by many beautiful beaches along the way, hoping in the super high heat that was our destination.

It wasn’t until we walked over the final large hill that we saw this beautiful little beach in a hidden cove below. It had many rocks jutting out that you could cliff jump off of, or sit on and enjoy the view. The sand was perfect and the water looked straight out of a movie. As we were making our descent down to the beach we started noticing other people enjoying the beach…

There were so many older people… none wearing any clothes.

THIS WAS A NUDE BEACH.

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Cool, I had never been to one before. You try not to stare… but things got really awkward when it came time to eat our cucumber and bananas…Or when you are sunbathing on your chair and you look up to see a man’s sac basking in the sun in the chair behind you.

*make no eye contact*