Introverts on a party vacation

I am a weird combination of introvert and extrovert.

I love being alone, or with few people I know really well at home. I enjoy my space most of the time and I don’t really go out all that much on the weekends. But I have times where I am mentally prepared to have a great time and I go out, I am the life of the party I talk to everyone and I have a few laughs.

Usually when I go traveling I prepare myself for the extrovert me, trying to get myself into the groove of meeting new people and probably drinking and partying quite a bit more than I would at home. But after a few days of doing this in a row I can become quite cranky and not into it.

This is what happened when I went on a New Years trip to Nicaragua when I was like 20.

I showed up with a bunch of people I knew, ready to have a good time. But the 10 day trip of constant partying and people surrounding you got me down. By the time I left I felt like I hadn’t really explored Nicaragua at all as I was too busy running around with a drink in my hand and sitting at bars, I was ready to go home. I even got myself really sick on night on the trip just from being uncomfortable and anxious. It was this trip that I realized maybe I was done with the organized group tours and ready to just go out on my own and travel.

There were many people on this trip a lot older than I was yet I felt like the grandma of the trip, making sure everyone was OK, and basically being a “mom” the entire time.

I will have to go back to Nicaragua to see all the beauty that I actually missed !

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Do you let people read your travel journal ?

Getting sick on vacation

Rooming with friends on Vacation

Do we travel to take profile pictures ?

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Take the picture or enjoy

I always wonder if it is appropriate to take the picture.

I travel to explore, for an adventure. Sure taking pictures and uploading them to facebook is great, other people love to hear about your trips and sometimes the pictures help you remember all that you did. I love reminiscing on my trips when I am stuck at work or in a snowstorm and pictures are a great way to do that.

But..

Sometimes you see those people who hiked a huge mountain, or are watching fire works or a show and they insist on taking non stop pictures, and watching the view or performance through a screen. I wonder what those people have as motivation to even go? Can’t you just google a video or picture, do you really need to be there then? Maybe our generation is so enthralled with our phones or camera’s that we don’t even realize we are doing it… we see one thing that is cool and we automatically want to snapchat it.

Then you get to the places like war museums, Auschwitz, Pompeii, places where really horrible things have happened to people like genocide, or being sold as slaves, and you see people taking photos. I understand to a degree, you may want to go home and show people you know will never go what it looks like in Auschwitz. I myself have a photo of my friends and I in Pompeii where they sold the slaves.. I don’t think we planned it at the time “cool, they bought and sold people here.. let’s selfie” I think it was more like “finally we don’t have a crowd around us, let’s take a picture”. But looking back, was that really appropriate?

There was a man who wrote an article and attached photos he found online of young people posing, or taking “profile pictures” in these types of places. He then photo-shopped in the background pictures from history where the Jews were starving to death, skin and bones, with this girl in the front doing a yoga pose. It really surprised people I think. The overall reaction was “how could these kids take those kinds of pictures in a place like that”, but unless he put the historic pictures in the background would you have ever though twice before?

The tourists that pay money to the locals that have a monkey or a snake on their shoulders to hold that animal, take a quick photo then give it back drive me insane. A huge snake, a monkey, all these animals do not want to be held. They are not our photo props, they are wild animals. How do you think they are treated when they are used soley as a pay cheque? They are stolen from the wild, drugged, and forced to be passed around like stuffed animals so that tourists can have a profile picture of them holding a monkey. It’s not right. Again, most people would not even think these things, they would see an opportunity and take it.

Off topic: I am an animal lover, completely. I grew up with dogs and I want to cuddle and hold literally anything that has fur. The biggest lesson I learnt when it came to animals was when I bought a pet rabbit. Rabbits are prey animals that hate being cuddled and held. I had to learn that my rabbit shows me affection way differently than my dog does.. she just wants to be in the same room as me, maybe sit on my lap for a head pet, and that was good enough. We can’t just assume all animals are the same as our household pets. 

I have a love hate relationship with electronic devices and I am not sure where I stand all the time on it, I flip and I flop.. But I try to remind myself when I reach for my camera or phone… is this really necessary and appropriate?

Do we travel to take profile pictures ?

These views

Ping Pong shows – Travel mistake

Pets on holidays

Are we really travel savvy ?

Can you believe this beach

Massaaaaaagggeee !?

Massages are one of the best parts of traveling, especially in SEA.

In thailand they have the “thai massage”, which will run you about 8-10$ CAD. So worth it!. If you can get over the fact that you are most likely going to be in the same room with numerous other tourists also getting a massage you should be fine. I have had many different massages, some where I had to tell the women to not touch me there, others they just stick to your arms, legs, head and back and you are good. One of my friends had a woman massage her chest… she thought “when in Rome…” ha, JK… THAILAND.

The best way to describe a thai massage is a mix between the chiropractor and a massage therapist. They crack you all around, your back, your toes, fingers, neck, and they also massage all your muscles. These massages are well worth it, especially after hiking or just a time to relax.

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Aloe Vera massages cost a little more, because they use aloe instead of just massage oil, but they are the best after you got too much sun on the beach.

The massages in the Philippines were the same as in Thailand, but less of the “thai” chiropractic massage and more of the muscle/ tissue massage. They also have some places that are very fancy spa like places you would find back home.

I was going to get a Turkish massage, and go for a Turkish bath when I was in Turkey… but I chickened out.. so let me know if you have had one and how it was !

The women in the main picture came to us at the beach and gave us massages… this was in the Philippines. very cool !

 

the best food

Where is the best food? What is your favorite kind of food?

I grew up a super picky eater

I swear I would not eat my favorite food if it wasn’t the “proper” color… colored ketchup’s? Forget about it. 

I had never had seafood in my life until I was 18 years old… no fish, no crab, nothing ! I ate fish for the first time in my life in Thailand.

I remember we went out a boat to a lake house for a few days. We had to eat whatever the lake-house was serving as they didn’t have an “order” menu. To my surprise they only had fish on the first day, and fish that they had caught while they were boating us to the lake house. They had thrown it into some sort of deep fryer and it still had the head and everything on it. It wasn’t until my friends started eating it with some sweet chili sauce and telling me how good it was that I decided to try it.

That was it. I was sold. Seafood is still my favorite thing to eat to this day.

I have eaten pizza and pasta in Italy… not what I expected, I would go as far as to say ours was better at home?

I have eaten chicken gryos, and tkaziki sauce in Greece… SO good. SO SO SO good. Highly recommend.

I have eaten fish tacos from a food stand in Nicaragua.

I have eaten Muscles on the beach in Turkey… which by the way are also SO amazing.

I have eaten seafood in every country.. I have eaten curry’s in Thailand- Which is a side note in itself. I am not one for spicy food and I always assumed all Curry was from India and therefore spicy, not true. Thailand curry you can get as spicy as you want it, but it is delicious. May favorites are Green and Penang curry ! Also, Papaya salad in thailand is to die for !

Try new things when you travel. It may become your new favorite.

 

But the shopping….

I am not a shopper, I cannot spend my day in a mall trying on clothes and walking around with numerous bags on my arms. That would make me extremely hot, cranky, and hungry. I am an avid online shopper because it kills time at work and it all arrives right to my door. BUT I AM ALSO SUPER FRUGAL. Obviously… one kinda has to be to go backpacking every year. This is why I am making this blog… all about the amazing things I found shopping on my adventures.

My first trip to Italy I was broke, like literally in high school and had hardly any money. I packed all nice things to travel with so I didn’t have much room in my bag to shop. I found the prices in Italy to be about the same as home as well, minus the guys that brought you into dark back alleys and tried to sell you knock off purses and watches… those were a good price. But overall I didn’t really “get my feet wet” in the shopping game until my next trip… THAILAND.

The obvious first real “backpackers” trip for any 18 year old that just graduated. I had packed some nice things in my pack, as I hadn’t really figured out my packing game yet, ( Read My Packing List Here ) but most things I purchased at home from a second hand store so I wasn’t too attached to it anyways. I traveled all down and back up Thailand, finding cute little markets that I would purchase the odd thing from like shirts, tank tops, thai pants (a must), but it wasn’t until we came back to Bangkok before flying home that I really understood the shopping.

First of all, the custom made suits and dresses…. Men could get full, pants, jacket, dress shirt, vest, the whole nine yards, CUSTOM made to fit them in whatever color, pattern, fabrics they wanted for like 200$ CAD. What a STEAL of a fricken deal. These shops are literally everywhere, people asking if you would like a new suit. They would bring you in, take your measurements and have the suit done in 1-2 days then do the final fine tuning. This was cool and all for the men on the trip, but I was like “what about me!?” Well ladies, let me tell you. We went to a fancier part of town one night for a show and it had numerous, beautiful shops that would custom make dresses and clothing for women. Then I thought…. WOW, one day (fingers crossed) I could bring back a really fancy design of a wedding dress (say brand name) that would cost like 8000$ back home, and get it exactly the way I want (adding or taking things out of the design), custom fit to my body for like 1/8th the price! WHY HASN’T THIS BEEN SPOKEN OF BEFORE!

Obviously that is just an idea for the future, I didn’t actually buy a custom made dress…. yet. But the Mall in Bangkok… MBK… 6 floors of pure bliss! Let me let you in on a little secret… the prices go down as you travel up… There are floors dedicated to a certain item such as electronics.. so I mean you can walk around to different booths and barter the price of what you want within this floor. We bought Bose speakers – OK side note, I don’t think that Thailand has copyright laws or they don’t enforce them because they sell knock of “brand” items for super cheap, so when I say BOSE speakers, I don’t actually believe they came from the maker of BOSE – for like 18$ CAD each. We purchased I think 12 all together to go home and give our friends. These speakers are amazing, they hook up to bluetooth and are great quality speakers… especially for only 18$.

The first time I went to MBK mall I started at the bottom and worked my way up, which was a mistake I know now. For clothing, jewelry, or anything that you would find on every floor the prices will go down as you go up because they assume most people stay on the main floors they enter the building on… makes sense. I loaded up my bag and purchased another bag (Fake brand Diesel dufflebag to be exact) to fill and bring home with me. I bought over 10 pairs of “brand” name jeans… True Religion, Diesel, Seven, Rock n Rebulic, for only 30$ a pair. I bought “Calvin Klein” underwear and sports bras, “brand name” shirts and tank tops, sweaters, a diffuser with essential oils, those new hair elastics that cost like 7$ each at Sephora for 10 cents each, a “Burberry” rain jacket (that is so cute!) and of course my favorite… purses. Purses are my all time favorite thing to buy on vacation. They have many to choose from, and some are almost identical to the real deal

Here are my hints for buying purses.

  1.  I find a style I like (obviously) and if it has a “brand” name logo on it such as “Michael Kors” I make sure that the logo is on properly, straight, and spelt correctly. You don’t know how many times I find a beautiful purse but the logo is LOCO… looks a little drunk.
  2. Make sure all the zippers work. This goes for wallets as well. I have purchased these items before, so excited, only to discover the zipper doesn’t work… BOO!!
  3. Make sure it is real leather. Now you CAN find real leather purses for like 30-50$… I have had some of my purses for YEARS (going on 6 years now for my favorite purse that I use 90% of the year) and they have not cracked or broken at all. The way I make sure it is real leather is I ask the seller to light the purse on fire… with a lighter! If they refuse to hold a lighter up to the purse that means that it is probably not real, or is plastic. If the purse is plastic and they know it… it will melt under the lighter. Real leather will not melt.
  4.  Barter barter barter. The more purses you buy the cheaper the price. So if you only want one, maybe your friend wants one and you can barter together for a cheaper price. The price they originally tell you is absurd.. I usually pay half or less than the original price they rattle off.
  5.  To pack these bags for home I roll up my new clothes and fill the purses then shove them in my backpack.

The newest thing I recently found to purchase is makeup. THIS IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. Some people HATE knock off makeup.. and for good reason sometimes. If you have sensitive skin I would be careful with this one. I do not have sensitive skin, and I do not mind the lower quality of the makeup. They have booths filled with perfume (OK they have the same bottle and smell the exact same as the “real” perfume, and only cost like 10$ each, but beware these perfumes don’t last as long as the real deal), and “brand name” makeup. I purchased what would have cost me in Canada well over 2000$ in makeup for only 40$ at MBT…. The quality. I have had some HITS and some MISSES (I will only name a few). The hits I have found are the beauty blenders… they look the exact same, I paid 50 cents instead of 30$ each and they work amazing (note: some fake beauty blenders are crap, they don’t expand and they are hard as rock. I just got lucky I guess). Another hit for me was a “glow kit” (I won’t say the “brand” it was), this was the exact same as the real one that costs 60$ and I paid I think 7$. The biggest miss I had was a mascara I bought. I don’t remember the brand it was supposed to be but at home it was like 40$ and I paid 4$. This mascara was nothing like the real one, it was very runny and filled my entire eye with black! AHHHHHHH!!!!

The Jewelry. They have tons. I purchased a few “brand” name watches for like 10$ but I am not that into watches so I bought them for the look instead of the function. All the watches I purchased have since stopped working but I just move my arms really fast when I wear them ;). The Cartier bracelets that cost like 10,000$ each (you know… the ones Kylie has like 40 of on her arm) I purchased at MBK for 6$ each…

Asia definitely has some of the best shopping (if you are into everything I mentioned above… some people wouldn’t even entertain the idea of fake items), but I also found some good shopping in Turkey, mostly Istanbul.

The Grand Bazaar is amazing. They have everything! They even section it off so you can buy spices in one part, purses in another, anything leather in another, and clothes, then lamps. What a place to get lost in… seriously you will get lost. I purchased many purses here (same as above), and a few leather men’s wallets to give as gifts (my brother has been using his now for 4 years and I paid 30$). I also bought Turkish lamps for I think 30$ each. They have different plugs then us so I had to come home and rewire the lamp (not that hard) or you can just use a converter. But these lamps are absolutely beautiful, they look like stain glass (maybe they actually are), and you can get them in any color or style you want. I wrapped mine in tons of clothes and then in a purse and then in my backpack to come home and it made it just fine. I also bought 2 Turkish rugs in Cappadocia…. I was not into the Turkish rug thing before I came, but my parents asked me to find one for them. I spent an entire afternoon in this store that had thousands of rugs, they would bring out rugs for me while I sat drinking tea. I fell so in love with 2 rugs myself that I purchased them (500$ for both… DOH!) and they shipped them to my house for me.

I live for shopping in other countries, the different things you find and the funny knock offs (like Michael Doors) you will see make me smile. By no means am I endorsing spending all your money in other countries as I understand you must also support local (which I do for 99% of the things I buy daily). But for someone like myself who just graduated University and puts all my extra money into traveling, its nice to get a few special items for yourself at a great price.

Back-PACKING list

My biggest question before any and EVERY trip is WHAT DO I PACK!!???

Here are my little tips and trick to the perfect backpacking pack.

Ok.. So I do have a fairly large backpack... OK, its Quite large… at I believe 85 Liters! The thing is larger than me at some points! But I do have a reason for this! I LOOOVVEEE shopping on my vacations, especially in Asia where everything is super duper cheap ! I have also found such beautiful things in Europe and they also have really cute things for cheap at markets in the middle of no where. I never know what I am going to find, or fall in love with, so I always come prepared anyways.

On route to my Vacation

  1. I pack literally any clothes (weather approving for where I am going- of course!) that I no longer want! I wear these clothes and then instead of washing them I will pass them along to a local who will love them just as much as I did in the beginning. I found the ladies in Thailand that clean your room just love getting handy-me-downs (because uh who doesn’t!?)
  2. I also make sure that I go to the dollar store or anywhere that sells small little empty bottles and I fill them with my face wash, my shampoo, conditioner, etc. so that I can use them up and throw them out and they won’t take up room in my pack. Now, you CAN buy shampoo and conditioner and lotion, and everything all over the world. I have blonde hair and use purple shampoo, I am also picky on what I use so this is why I BRING mine instead of buying it there. That being said, things like lotion and sunscreen in Asia I am very weary about buying because I don’t read the local language and I have to be careful not to buy anything with whitener in it… that’s right, we try to tan while they try to get white.

Here is my Holy Grail backpacking list:

Day pack (smaller backpack that I use on day trips, or to go to the beach, also my carry on for the airplane) :

  • Airplane pillow (I will ONLY use the ones that you can blow up and deflate as they are way easier to carry around)
  • Sarong- I use this on the ghetto flights that may not give you a blanket
  • Headphone, I pod, Phone (some people will bring), camera, all charges, converter (some places, such as Thailand have the same plugs as us so just double check)
  • Travel journal/ pen, book (again, one that I don’t care about that I can read and leave behind or possibly trade another traveler for their book)
  • All documents (passport, travel insurance, Student ID (some places give discounts to students! Who knew), credit card, debit card, cash, birth certificate, all itineraries, extra passport photos as you might need for visa’s)
  • Some warmer clothes for those cold airplanes (1 sweater, 1 pair of long leggings)
  • Sunglasses
  • Deodorant (cause I sweat on the plane… HA!)
  • small purse (I use one that goes across my body and then I also use a carabiner clip to attach my inner wallet to my purse so I can tell if someone if trying to pick pocket me)

Big backpack:

  • Walking shoes (I usually find an old pair I don’t care about anymore, wear them and then ditch them before coming home)
  • Flip Flops (or you can buy a new pair there !)
  • Rain jacket (again I just bring a cheap one that I can leave if I find I am not using it)
  • Also a rain cover for your backpack is a life saver when you have to walk to your hostel in the pouring down rain!
  • tooth brush, tooth paste (can buy there)
  • Hair ties, Bobby pins, brush
  • shampoo, conditioner, lotion, sunscreen, aloe Vera, (again all smaller bottles) hair products ( I like to bring stuff like coconut oil that I can leave in my hair a day I am going to the beach so it doesn’t dry out)
  • a hat/ bandanna
  • razors
  • lip chap
  • face-wash/body soap
  • Diva cup/tampons
  • any medications/pills, aspirin, gravol, band-aids, tweezers
  • 1 pair long leggings (in my day pack for the plane)
  • 1 sweater ( In my day pack for the plane)
  • 2 reg t-shirts
  • 1 sarong (or you could buy one there as they are all very pretty and cheap !)
  • 3 bathing suits
  • 2 pair of shorts
  • 1 dress
  • 1 skirt
  • 2 tank tops
  • 1 bra (sport bra type for me)
  • 5 pair underwear (bathing suits work as underwear as well)

By the end of my trip, or sometimes even half way through, I will have worn and used most of these things and will either throw them away or leave them for someone else to have. I will then go shopping and fill my then empty bag up to the brim (sometimes even buying a second bag… GUILTY)

its like Christmas coming home and seeing all that you bought ! I will be doing a blog strictly on all the things I have bought in different places one day, so stay tuned ! (So worth it! )

Read my Shopping Blog Here

 

Flying away

Ever since I can remember I have always wanted to fly away. Sure, we went on family vacations every couple of years.. but they were to Ontario, Canada where we would shift from one aunt’s house to another, watching TV with cousins we barely knew. I wanted adventure. I wanted to wake up and not have any idea what I was about to see, or experience. When I was in grade 10 I told my parents I was joining the travel group and that I was going to Italy in March, that I was going to work my butt off to pay for the expensive 10 day trip. After the hard work I put in, my parents contributed half the money for my trip and this is where my addiction begins… the carousel never stops turning, you can’t get off.