Imagine you’re all snuggled up with your special someone, in a nice King-sized bed. Inside the room is toasty warm, and for now, you don’t even care about how it is outside, you’re just happy where you are.
Suddenly, there’s a loud blasting of horns and the sound of cars screeching.

That’s how day 2 began.

 

Peering outside from behind the drawn curtains revealed a few things. First, the noisy car culprits appeared to be what looked like a Hot Rod festival. The street was filled with people cheering as different cars tore down the road. Secondly, the weather was shite. Grey, rainy and bleak.
Turning around and seeing the huge bed I’d just hopped out of really did seem like a much better idea. And if I’m being totally honest, after the previous days ride, the motivation to continue was almost non-existent.

 

But, knowing that we had somewhere to be and loved ones to see was enough to get Henry and I up and running. Given the crappy weather we had to come up with some new plans so that our belongings wouldn’t be getting ruined on our upcoming ride. Unsure of why we hadn’t thought of it earlier, we took out the bike cover and wrapped it around our gear on the rear rack. We’d packed the bike in decent time and were in out wet weather clothes, but were still hesitant to start the looming 4-hour ride. We procrastinated our leaving time by visiting a bike shop and buying some supplies (better gloves for myself and anti-fog shield for the both of us) and enjoyed a prolonged breakfast at DQ.

 

At some point it became evident that the weather wasn’t going to get any better, so we began our second day of riding. We were heading up to a small country town near the Canadian border called Chinook – a town that I’ve spent a lot of time visiting since I was a little girl. I was very excited to be taking Henry to my second home and to introduce him to my adopted American family. The ride to Chinook from Great Falls is a fairly standard drive; the only part that we were worried about was the final half hour, where the road enters the windy Montanan plains.

 

Unfortunately, the conditions of the road weren’t as expected, and ten minutes into the ride we found ourselves driving on a gravel highway. Just in case you’d forgotten, we were riding a little 450cc Honda. The fact that the bike was able to function with two people and their luggage was amazing. However, as we approached the recently ripped up highway, it became very evident that the bike was not off-road equipped, so we wobbled our way down the road worked highway. When we finally made it to the end of the gravel road, we very happily pulled over for a quick recoup and took in the glorious sight that we were surrounded by. Montana is a state filled with endless beauty!

 

Luckily, the rest of the ride to Chinook went as planned. It was a bitterly cold day and the wind made it even more cold, but the ride was totally worth it when we arrived home, were greeted with cuddles and warmed up with cups of tea.

 

Henry and I enjoyed a few days in Chinook before heading back to Bozeman, via Helena. Where I’d be flying out East for a week, while Henry continued the motorbike trip solo until we were due to meet up in Portland.

 

Driving through beautiful Montana.

Driving through Montana

~ ~ ~

I hope you’re enjoying the tales of our first motorbike trip. The next instalment will feature a guest post by Henry, as he retells the week he spent riding from Bozeman to Portland alone.

 

Safe Travels,

Kachina

Who I flew with: Air Asia, Sydney to Denpasar return $258
Where I stayed: Ubud – Ubud Bungalows, $40 per night twin room
Sanur – Hotel Belair, $40 per night twin room

Bali. An Indonesian island that, if I’m being honest I’d never really been interested in visiting. The masses of Australians that frequently flock to Bali to party had created a bad rep for the Indonesian state in my mind. Queuing up for my flight to Bali at Sydney Airport didn’t settle my preconceived image of the infamous Australian tourists. As I patiently lined up to check in, I was surrounded by countless bogans in Bintang singlets, who were vivaciously comparing the prices they paid for their trips. My eerie thoughts continued to escalate as I boarded the flight and noticed several groups of people ordering their in flight beverage of choice (Bintang), claiming that there was no better time to prepare for their holidays than the 7 hour flight there.
Luckily I was seated next to a friendly girl who was visiting the Island for the first time as well; we spent much of the flight chatting about what we were hoping to fill in during our weeklong getaways.

Upon arrival at Bali and meeting the pre-arranged pick up, I was instantly blown away. Driving out of the airport and along the busy highway on the way to Ubud was definitely something different to say the least. I was immediately captivated by the countless number of wood carving shops, men pushing food trolley carts and the tenacity of the numerous motorcyclists zipping in between the peak hour traffic. I was also amused by the driver’s questions – was the air conditioning temperature ok? Did I like the song that was playing?
He was asking these questions with an honest, caring look in his eyes. About an hour in to the drive (the drive from the airport to Ubud in peak hour takes about 1 and a half hours) he asked if I minded if he pulled in to a supermarket to get a quick drink – he was thirsty. I laughed and told him of course he can stop. I was busy staring out the window at the kite-filled sky when the driver returned to the car carrying three little popper drinks. One for him, one for his wife in the backseat and one for me. I was so touched by this small gesture. Whilst driving, the wife of the driver had told me that while they’d been married for 11 years, they were still yet to have children because they couldn’t afford it. Before going to Bali I was aware of the corrupt society that has been created since Westerners started buying most of the landmarks surrounding the tourist areas. Having this awareness and an understanding of the couples’ situation driving me to the hotel, made the simple gesture of buying me a drink melt my heart. I very quickly learned how giving the Balinese are. This event made my introduction to Bali a very welcoming one indeed.

So given the lack of interest in Bali, how did I end up there?
I have this incessant problem. Quite often (ok lets be honest, at least once every day) I find myself on flight search websites, looking up prices to random places. I stumbled across a mega deal for Bali. Return flights from Sydney for $240 (plus booking fee). I saw the price and had to go! I messaged a few friends, but much to my dismay, they all had work commitments. I was disappointed and felt like these ridiculously cheap prices were going to waste.
A couple of days earlier, a girl I knew from my first year at University posted on a social media site that she’d bought tickets to an event in Ubud. By chance we ended up messaging each other and she mentioned the dates of the festival. They were the same time that I was hoping to go! Without any thought into it, I purchased those return flights to Bali and off I went.

UBUD

I arrived at Ubud Bungalows in the early evening and met with my Uni friend/travel companion for the coming week.
We excitedly exchanged details on what we’d been up to and decided to grab some dinner. I was so hungry and the Nasi Goreng I ordered did not disappoint!
In the short time I’d been in Bali, it had already enthralled me. The smells, textures and people were all so unique and very different to what I’d imagined. I had been pleasantly surprised.

The main reason we were in Ubud was to attend the annual Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (more detailed posts to come). I had missed the first two days of the festival, but was eager to participate in the remaining days. Listening to so many inspiring and humbling people tell their stories, whilst amongst the palm trees and rice fields of Ubud, surrounded by likeminded people was quite the eccentric experience, making the event memorable and something that I would attend again in the future.

Outside of the festival, Ruby and I had both agreed that we were in holiday mode and didn’t feel the need to go out of our way to explore. We were happy to spend our free time by the pool, reading. Given the easy accessibility of Bali from Australia, we’d both figured that we could simply come back in the future to traverse what we were missing out on this time. We were taste-testing Bali.

Overall, my experience in Ubud was motivating, sweaty and fun. It’s definitely an area that I’d recommend. Everything about Ubud oozes culture and the locals are all very inviting and friendly.

SANUR

After spending a few days amongst the greenery, it was time for us to experience something that Bali is quite well known for – it’s beaches.
Sanur is known as a sleepy seaside resort town, and like Ubud it did not disappoint. The water was an idyllic shade of blue and the sand a fluffy white.

Sanur was a very relaxed stay. We hired out a beach cabana on one day, spending the time relaxing under the sun, reading and occasionally diving into the ocean when the heat became unbearable. It doesn’t get more relaxing than that!

Whist in Sanur, we also did a day trip down to Uluwatu. The spectacular scenery that we witnessed at the Uluwatu temple and later at Padang Padang beach, gave homage to Bali’s diversity. It’s hard to believe that in the one location you can have light Blue Ocean, soft sand, dramatic cliff drops and temples overlooking the sea.

Every time I get away from home, even if I’m not too far in distance, I like to take something from my experience and apply it to better myself. I was surprised that in such a short time, Bali reinforced the importance of not taking things for face value. Whilst I was apprehensive about Bali for so long, being there reminded me that there is always something deeper. The people taught me to enjoy my life for what it is and to be giving.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in what is known in Australia as ‘Paradise Island’ and would recommend Bali to anyone – there is definitely something there for everyone.

Uluwatu Temple

Uluwatu Temple

So my last motorcycle post ended with me telling you guys where exactly Henry and I went on our great-American-two-wheeled-adventure. If only re-telling a story could be as simple as just stating the basics. I wish I could actually just take you guys all there, give you direct insight into my brain, kind of like the pensieve in Harry Potter. Unfortunately, I’m still waiting on my acceptance letter from Hogwarts, so can’t invite you to review my memories, so I shall begin to share them with you via written words and hope that they will take you somewhere else, as if we were using a pensieve.

The day that we left Bozeman was an absolute mess. Both Henry and I were feeling excruciating pains from the night before. Having a huge night on the town with all of our new closest friends to celebrate the time that we’d all experienced before going our own ways before having to take off on a motorcycle for several hours the following day turned out not to be such a great idea. On top of that, I also had a 7am alarm set for a room inspection. The last time I would ever step foot in my humble Bozeman abode again. Once you also factor in good-byes, packing and time limits, it makes for a very emotional, tiring day.

We’d hoped to be out of Bozeman by no later than 2pm, but due to finding packing the motorbike really difficult, we didn’t end up leaving until close to 4pm. We were only riding to Great Falls (approximately 3 hours north) so we figured leaving a little bit late wasn’t a big deal. Boy, what a mistake that was!

Having failed in practice packing the bike, we’d also failed in riding the bike with extra weight on it. We wobbled out of Bozeman, becoming the victims of several confused stares and headed onto the I90. We’d driven on the highway several times before in a car, so we never realised how bad the wind was on that stretch of road. What should’ve only taken 30 minutes by car took us almost and hour and a half on the bike. Not only was poor Henry getting used to riding the motorbike with all of this added weight on it, he was also fighting against the crazy winds that were trying so hard to tip us over in all directions!
The relief we both felt when we finally made it to the I15 Helena exit can’t be put into words. We were both exhausted from that first stretch of the ride, getting off of the tunnel-winded highway and onto open plains was like a godsend. We stopped at a small gas station just outside of Helena to have a quick drink and buy some more duct tape (did I mention that everything was attached to the bike with duct tape and rope – we had it down to an art). We finished our drinks off fairly quickly and applied more duct tape to our few belongings and realised that it was almost 5:30! Shit! We were still 2.5 hours away from Great Falls via car; we didn’t even want to think how much time would be added because of the bike. Luckily the weather that day was really nice; we’d left Bozeman wearing just our protective gear over our t-shirts.
Realising how struck for time we were we quickly skulled the last of our drinks, mounted the bike and zoomed off, down the long, winding Montanan highway.

The next 40 minutes of the ride was all smooth sailing. We’d driven through Helena and were nearing the Mountainous National Park part of the highway. We were in awe at the sight of the mountains that we’d be riding through, such magnificent beauty we’d landed ourselves in! Although, the moment the mountains came into sight, the warmth from the sun disappeared. It was freezing! We quickly pulled off the highway and emptied our backpacks of all the warm clothing we’d stuffed in there. Luckily there were no friends about then to take photo’s of us looking absolutely ridiculous as we both looked like mini HR Puff ‘n’ Stuffs hopping onto the bike with all of our winter gear on. We continued riding through Helena’s great mountain range; the bike was struggling in the high altitude, but we had no other option but to keep on going. Mind you, I did have family friends in Helena who could’ve come to save our sorry asses, but we both had intact pride (and had already paid for one nights accommodation in Great Falls and were in no position to let that slide).

We eventually made it to the other side of the mountains and were happy that the road ahead seemed straight and flat. Having done the drive between Great Falls and Helena a lot over the last couple of years I was happy because I knew we were only about 30 minutes away from a warm room, cosy bed and a delivered dinner because I sure as hell was not going outside again that night!

By this point in time it had grown dark and night-time was all we could see along the dimly lit highway. Somewhere around this time, Henry took a wrong turn. I hadn’t noticed that he’d taking any turns; I’d been too busy caught in a hungover/what-the-hell-am-I-doing daydream. I had noticed that it seemed to be taking us forever to get from the Northern side of the pass to Great Falls. I also realised that I didn’t recognise my surroundings, but just passed that as being the dark playing with my mind. It wasn’t until we drove past a sign that said ‘Augusta ahead’ that I realised that we weren’t where we needed to be. I tapped Henry on the back and he pulled over – we communicated by a very particular tapping ‘Morse code’ whilst on the bike as we couldn’t afford to buy headpiece’s.
I remember asking Henry where exactly we were, to which he exasperatedly responded that we’d be there soon and we needed to hurry because we were running low on fuel.
For anyone who knows the roads of Montana well, you’d know that Augusta is not where you want to be at 8:30pm on a bitterly cold early spring evening on a motorbike. We made it to the Choteau turn off and pulled to the right, finally on a straight road to Great Falls! I still have no idea how we ended up taking the wrong turn.

About half way to Great Falls from the turn off the weather took another spin and was now absolutely freezing. Both Henry and I were so cold we’d gone numb, but wanting to get to Great Falls as quick as possible, we ignored how numb we were and continued riding. Until that is, the motorcycle’s engine cut out and we were left stranded on the side of an empty road, in the dark, numb from cold with no petrol in the engine. We were both so tired and irritated that we didn’t even speak at first. We just kind of stood, dumbfounded. Henry said he could set up the tent and we could just sleep on the side of the road. Furious, I snapped and said ‘No! We are going to the hotel!’
Henry passed me a torch and he started un-taping the jerry can. It was at this point a car slowly ambled up the long driveway that we were at the end of. A kind lady asked us if we needed any help. Stupid us replied ‘No thanks, we’re fine, just re-filling our tank.’ The lady drove off.
Once Henry had re-filled the engine and re-taped the now empty jerry can back onto the side of the bike, we got out some hand warmers from our make-do tank bag and slipped them down our shirts. Whilst they didn’t warm our bodies up completely, it was a comfort that motivated us to make it to Great Falls (I enjoyed the hand warmer a little too much and ended up with a burn on my chest – oops).

The most annoying thing about the motorbike running out of fuel when it did was the fact that we could see the glow of Great Falls not too far ahead of us. It was so close yet so far away! When we finally made it into the once distant glow of Great Falls, a blanket of happiness encompassed the both of us as we ‘wooped’ and high-fived each other down the highway and to the front door of the hotel we had booked a room at.

Much to our surprise, the lady at reception didn’t greet us with an odd look as we entered the building looking like we’d just walked from Alaska. She was very kind and understood that we wanted to get to our room and warm up. We opened the door to the King Suite we’d booked for the night and were ecstatic. We blasted the heating and I jumped in the shower. I had been so cold that my whole body was red and it took about 5 minutes of just standing under the water for me to warm up.

Once Henry and I were all cozied up and not numb anymore, we had pizza delivered to our room; we devoured it in the comfort of our king bed and fell asleep almost instantly.

We had survived Day 1.

In ‘2 Months. North America. Motorbike. 8000 Miles.’ I gave you a short introduction into how this trip came about. In this post I will be relaying how we prepared and planned for the trip.

Living for a short time in another country didn’t make preparing for this trip an easy task. Although, given the hindsight we have now, both Henry and I realise that no matter how prepared you think you may be for a trip like this, there is absolutely nothing that can prepare you for what happens on the road and the experiences you gain.

Nothing can prepare you for the assortment of weather, road conditions and nights so cold that hypothermia actually seems possible. There is also no preparing you for the new connection you make with the world. When you ride on two wheels, you becomes one with nature. It’s a feeling that can only really be explained through experience. You can feel, smell and touch your surroundings in a way that isn’t possible through other means of transportation.

Preparation (or lack there-of) aside, when Henry and I had committed to the idea of travelling and camping around North America on a motorcycle for two months, we quickly realised how much we didn’t have in order for this to work and how much luggage we had with us at current!
The first (very apparent) item that we didn’t have was a motorbike. Traveling around a chunk of a continent on the back of a bike without said vehicle would have been very challenging indeed. As I don’t have a bike licence (something I’m hoping to gain soon!) the riding of the bike was going to be done by Henry who had got his license only 2 weeks before leaving for America when he envisioned himself travelling the States on the back of a classic motorcycle. So Henry quickly started trolling craigslist for motorcycles and a few weeks later purchased our baby/mode of transportation, a 1981 Honda CM400T. A vintage American motorcycle that isn’t sold in Australia; our dream was quickly becoming a reality.

In between bike searches, we both organised for the majority of our luggage to be shipped back to our homes in Australia. We both used Seven Seas, who I’d recommend for any overseas shipping. Decent prices and door-to-door pick up/delivery makes what could have been a very stressful task, stress free.

One mistake that we did make in regards to luggage is the fact that we neglected to do practice packing before shipping our big bits of luggage and before leaving. Something that we very quickly regretted! If you’re planning on doing a trip where the luggage you will be bringing with you is limited, make sure you practice pack! Packing the bike up on the day that we left Bozeman was very stressful and resulted in us looking like the families you see on motorbikes in parts of Asia – a look that stands out immensely in Montana. Luckily our first stop was at some family friends of mine in Chinook. So we were able to ditch a lot of items that very quickly became apparent that we weren’t going to be using them over the coming months.
Had we done the practice packs that we said we would (but failed to do so), we would have saved ourselves a lot of stress, time (it took us hours to pack the bike on that first day) and we would’ve been able to add what we threw away to our luggage that was being shipped back home.
Lesson learnt!

Once we had the luggage and transportation sorted, it was time to get a few last things including motorbike gear (shoes, jackets, helmets, gloves etc) and camping gear (Tent, sleeping bags, cooker etc). Henry bought an Alpinestar jacket, Gaerne boots and had gloves gifted to him for Christmas. I bought a pair of no-name leather boots online, got a leather jacket from an op shop and bought gloves from a motorcycle store clearance bin. We both used Bell helmets.

For our camping gear, we bought a North Face Rock 22 Bx Tent, MSR cooking equipment (stove, gas bottle, crockery and cutlery), Henry had bought over his Deuter Sleeping Bag, and I bought a small, roll up sleeping bag from Wal-Mart.
Take note that we didn’t buy mattresses. We relied on nice grassy patches in the ground. Although, we did end up buying a cheap $5 yoga mat and extra blankets from Wal-Mart after being uncomfortable and cold for about a week.

We were very lucky in that all the gear that we purchased for this trip were exceptional! I’d definitely recommend all of the products that we used. The only encounter that we had whilst travelling was to do with a loose bolt on the bike. So whether you’re looking for quality camping gear or bike gear, I’d definitely recommend the above listed items!

Whilst we were in the process of organising/purchasing necessities, we were also caught up in planning a travel route. Which proved to be quite the challenge. Before coming to America, Henry had mentally planned to head straight to Canada, travel East then South back into America at North Dakota, head into South Dakota and out to New York. When I had planned my after-college travels, I’d planned to head straight to my family in Chinook before flying out to Boston to spend time with a friend there and was then going to fly to LA where I was originally meant to be meeting my Australian friend, from which we’d hoped to travel around California, making the trip to Vegas before heading north into British Columbia.

With our separate plans being so different, we’d figured that we’d both have to completely scratch what we’d earlier planned and make a new travel route. A compromise. As I’d already planned to spend time with my family in Chinook and had bought my flight to Boston, that part of the trip wasn’t changing. Being family, they were very eager to meet Henry, so it was decided that we’d head North of Bozeman together on the bike, returning again to Bozeman a week later, so that I could catch my flight out East. My flight to Boston returned to Portland, OR a week later. So Portland was the official starting ground of our bike trip. Whilst I was on the East coast, Henry spent the week travelling from Bozeman MT to Portland OR, travelling through Idaho and Washington State to get there.
We’d booked accommodation in Portland and hadn’t really set anything in stone from there. We thought we’d head west to the Ocean, taking our time in Oregon before having to be in Canada by June 6 (the date my American Visa expired).
Our travel route was rather spontaneous and our destinations and length of stays were mainly dependent on what we felt like doing.

Our final route (which was decided as we went) ended up being Portland – Lincoln City – Newport – Florence – Crater Lake – Eugene – Portland – Seattle – Vancouver – Nanaimo – Victoria – Lake Cowichan – Qualicum Beach – Vancouver. From there, I flew home and Henry continued to travel.

Travelling without knowing where we were going was something new to me and at times stressed me out too. But I don’t regret a thing, it was a whirlwind trip that I’d happily do again and again!

In my next post I’ll share with you how our first ride to Great Falls MT went and begin detailing the early days of the trip.
Happy Travels,

Kachina 🙂

Reflection.

What a whirlwind the past couple of weeks have been! I’ve just got back home from a much needed break in Byron Bay, and boy did I need it! Sometimes you don’t realise how much you need a holiday until you get it, and when you do it’s like a great sense of relief washes over you, leaving you feeling fresh, pure and ready for more of whatever life has coming up for you.
The last couple of months have been an absolute rollercoaster for me. There’s been the typical trials and tribulations of everyday life as well as unexpected highs and happiness. Although, when tough times are put upon us it’s sometimes hard to rise above it and you become consumed by this false sense of negativity. I’m not supersonic and have definitely fallen victim to these ill feelings from time to time. I’m only human after all.
One of the things that I love most about travel (even if the destination isn’t very far in distance) is the sense of refreshment that you gain from being away from your regular life. Being given the chance to escape from routine, unwind and reflect is a wonderful thing. The clear perspective you gain when away, for me, quite often helps me in resolving issues that made me feel uncomfortable and reinforce some decisions that I’d have made prior to leaving, encouraging myself that I made the right choice.
As most of you will know by now, I have been a frequent traveller since the ripe age of 18 months. Outside of Australia, my home is in a small country town in Montana called Chinook, and beyond there, my home is the road. It’s where I am most comfortable and free to be myself without harsh (nay, any) judgement. It’s an unfortunate thing, but I’ve found in my returns from travelling that some people (even people who I called “friends”) have been quite cruel and have not held back what they thought of my constant moving. When I was younger this hostility would upset me immensely, but as I’ve grown older and travelled more, I’ve learnt to move past these negative figures. I accept that everyone is different, and that people are going to want to do different things with their lives, however I don’t have the space or energy for negativity in my life, so when someone is being particularly nasty towards me (especially when in regards to what I’ve been lucky enough to experience in my life) I let them go. My life is much brighter without these darknesses that seem to get a kick out of putting others down.
The reason that I am writing about this is that I have recently been reading on other blogs the struggles of some people who have just started travelling and are struggling with coming to terms with the hostility they are receiving from people whom they thought were friends. I know how isolating these peoples behaviours can make you feel, and I want to reassure you that these people are within a minority and that you are better off without them! While it sounds stupid, I can guarantee you that these peoples negative attitudes is 100% due to jealousy. Which is crazy!
When these events occur it can be pretty devastating, but there is an immense positive that comes out of them! You come to learn (and greatly appreciate) the true friends you do have back home, who are always encouraging of your crazy plans and are understanding of your constant moving.
Another positive from this minor drawback is the fact that by continuously travelling you are forever opening up your mind to new experiences, places, people and friendships. The friendships that you make abroad last a lifetime and the bond is unbreakable. The only sucky thing about this is that your dearest friends live so damn far away!

If you’ve been keeping up to date with my other blogpost’s you’re probably wondering what the heck any of this has to do with the motorcycle trip that I recently introduced you all to. While I was in Byron, the memories of the motorcycle trip were frequently popping into my head. When Henry and I were travelling around North America last year on our two-wheeled baby, we were astounded by the kindness of other people. Everywhere we went we were being stopped to have lengthy conversations with other motorcyclists, travellers and locals who were all willing to help us out in whichever way they could. We had discounted bike repairs, accessory offers, advice on great bike routes and even places to stay if we needed it! We were treated so kindly by so many people, which I guess is something that can sometimes be overlooked in everyday life.
I was reminded of this kindness in Byron. Byron Bay is a fantastic place that I recommend you all visit if you haven’t already done so! Everyone there was so friendly, it reminded the both of us of our bike trip. It was so nice to get away from our routine’s in Wollongong and enjoy being around easy-going, friendly, relatable people.
While this post is a bit off-field of the promised Motorcycle sequence, it has been something that has been on my mind that I’ve wanted to share. I will continue with the motorcycle trip posts and am also very pleased to announce that an Oceania album is going to be added to the gallery! Yay!

I hope that there is someone out there who has read this and are now feeling better. There are always going to be Negative Nancy’s in all fields of life, it’s just important that you learn to rise above them and don’t feel bad when you realise that they’re negativity in not needed in your life!
Like always, if you have any questions or would like recommendations feel free to contact me, I’d love to hear from you!
Happy travels,
Kachina 🙂

2 Months. North America. Motorbike. 8000 Miles.

There’s been a noticeable gap between blog posts over the last month. Life certainly likes to show it has no limits when the semester is coming to an end! While I have been busy over the last four weeks, I have also been feeling way too nostalgic as I keep thinking of what I was doing/where I was this time last year. Life certainly is such a precious thing, and it seems that the most random of situations prove to prevail this point. For me, travelling is that one thing that motivates me to get up and move, to work hard and make the most of this gift known as life. Getting out there and pushing yourself well out of your comfort zone – that to me is carpe diem in a nutshell!
I’ve been lucky in that I have done a lot of travelling since I was a kid, so I’ve seen a lot and been to a lot of amazing places. I often get asked if I’m ever going to settle down and stop travelling. To be honest, that’s something I just can’t comprehend. For as long as I’m breathing there’s something out there for me to see! With this passion to be constantly moving in mind, the thought of finding someone to settle down with and who would understand (and hopefully share this passion) seemed pretty slim. I wasn’t being pessimistic, I had just come to a point in my life where I finally realised what exactly it is that I wanted, and a partner didn’t really seem to fit the mould well. However, like the saying always goes ‘you find someone when you least expect it’, and of course this came wonderfully true when I left Australian shores at the end of 2013 to embark on 7 months of travel (and a little bit of study :p ). I had no intentions of meeting anybody, in fact the only talk of the possibility of meeting someone prior to leaving was joking with my friends that I might have a Vegas wedding. Fast forward to my second day on the MSU campus; it was orientation day for all of the international students, I was meeting so many people who, in the coming weeks would become my new adopted family and best friends. Little did I realise that the boy who I sat next to at lunch who was wearing funny shoes would become someone so important and special to me! Over the next couple of weeks, Henry (funny shoes guy) and I became very close, we shared the same sense of humour and were constantly in fits of giggles, and shared the same passion for travel. It didn’t take very long for either of us to realise that we had something unique, and within a month of being in Bozeman we decided to take that leap and became a couple.
Since it had been set in stone that I would be attending University in America, I had made plans with a friend in Australia to meet up in California somewhere and spend 6 weeks travelling together. While I was in Bozeman the plans still seemed as if they were going ahead until a nasty knee injury meant that my friend had to spend the money she’d put aside for travel on surgery. I felt so bad for my friend knowing that she was in so much pain and I wasn’t around to give her support, but at the same time I was also put into a bit of a panic as I realised there were only 4 weeks left before uni was out, and I now had no idea what I was going to do with myself for 7 weeks. I’d already planned about 10 days worth of travel, meeting up with some of my new friends and catching up with other friends and family in the country, but I was still unsure of what to do with the remaining time.
Since November, Henry had been planning on travelling around America on a motorbike, utilising a tent as his accommodation for the entirety of his trip. While I thought the bike sounded cool, the 7 weeks of camping wasn’t entirely appealing for me and I had never thought of traveling with Henry on his motorcycle as I had too much luggage. One night in Bozeman, I was particularly worried about what I was going to do and Henry asked me if I’d like to travel with him on his bike. Initially, I thought he was joking, so I kind of shrugged it off, until he reassured me that he wasn’t joking. We’d just have to plan for me to ship most of my belongings back to Australia, and keep a small bag that would fit on the back of the bike and it’d be fine. It seemed easy enough to do, so without much further thinking we were both online, buying motorcycle and camping gear.
The saying is hindsight is always 20/20, and in regards to riding a motorcycle around North America for 2 months, this saying is definitely correct. In terms of technicality anyway. Even now, Henry and I still laugh at how ridiculous we must’ve looked with our two duffel bags and back pack each on the bike. Although, I do still argue that I think we did well to condense so much considering we had been living in such a cold climate for 6 months, and were  still traveling on the motorbike in cold climates too. The most important technical thing we have both taken from this experience is that packing is hard. Especially when you’re travelling through several different temperature zones.
Technicalities aside though, I think for the both of us, it is easy to say that this trip has definitely been the most adventurous trip that either of us had done. And the most crazy (After all, i’d only known this guy for 5 months and I was trusting him to drive with me on the back of a motorbike for 2 months)!
This trip is a great example of how spontaneity can bring so much fun and light into your life! While I would (and could) love to take you all through every step of this journey now, it would be very lengthy. So over the next couple of weeks I will continue to blog about this trip (the planning of it, where we went/what we did and the final leg of the trip). Can’t wait to continue sharing this story with all of you!
Happy Monday,

Kachina 🙂

Leaving Bozeman for the big motorbike adventure

Studying Abroad in America

While travelling around America at the age of fourteen, I became enchanted by the idea of going to an American school. I’d seen so many films based on high school in America and I thought that it just looked awesome and I had to be a part of it! Whilst visiting a friends house in Virginia, I told her of what interested me, and before finishing the conversation we were in the computer room together looking up local high schools that I could possibly attend on an exchange program. I was so excited by this idea that for the rest of the trip I was constantly scribbling down notes and ideas on what the future could have in store for me. Upon returning to Australia and back to the comparably boring Australian high school scene, I asked my year advisor how possible this opportunity would be. Much to my glee, he was all for it and encouraged me to go ahead with it, the only drawback though was that when I returned to Australia I’d have to repeat a year of schooling. That was very unappealing to me, so quite ignorantly I put that idea on the back-burner and promised myself that one day I’d get to an American school.

Fast forward eight years and I made it happen. I started university in 2012 and was immediately captured by the amount of international opportunities that the University of Wollongong had on offer. Listening to so many different people tell their stories of where they went and what they did had me in a trance and I quickly started changing (whoops grades) what needed to be done in order to make myself a candidate for University representation abroad. My dream for several years was to attend the University of California – Berkeley, but upon learning how competitive just getting a place at the University was made me rethink what I was really seeking in going to an American college. Honestly, all I wanted was to experience was the true American college experience that has been depicted in countless movies and TV shows, and to attend at least one Frat party and drink jungle juice out of a red cup ….. and to study of course …
So I booked an appointment and asked the Study Abroad office lady for a list of colleges that weren’t as competitive as UC, LA, Miami etc. She gave me a list of Universities, which included Montana State University. I’d previously decided that I’d like to go somewhere new, where I hadn’t been before and having grown up and the state of Montana being like a second home to me, I initially wrote MSU off as a possibility – even though the Office lady didn’t stop raving about how good of a university it was without me having said anything. So I went home with this list and thought hard about what choices I had to make. Montana kept popping into my mind. Whilst initially I was unsure of Montana as an option, Bozeman was one of the few ‘cities’ in Montana that I hadn’t been to and going to University there would be a little bit like going home. It meant that I could be the closest to my family in Montana than I’d ever been before when not travelling for an extended length of time. So I sent a text to my loved ones in the small town of Chinook (about 320 miles North-East of Bozeman) asking how it’d be if I lived only a drive away for six months. Needless to say the response was along the lines of ‘Oh my god!!’. My decision had been made.

December of 2013 saw me pack 7 months worth of life in to two bags and fly to Montana – my home to be for the following 6 months. To write about the entire exchange in one blog post would be impossible. I could write a post per day. But in general, doing an exchange program has been one of the most fun, exciting, sometimes sad but mostly adventurous things I’ve ever done. It is definitely something that I’d recommend all University students do, given the opportunity! My first couple of days in Bozeman were spent on an absolute high. Everything was just how I’d imagined it – but better! Everywhere was covered in snow, my room and the cafeteria were quote “exactly like the movies”, and sporting events such as the Basketball were extreme! I immediately fell in love with the atmosphere and everything related to being in Bozeman.
One of the greatest things about studying abroad is the people you meet. The people you spend you’re time with whilst abroad become more than friends; they become your family. You see them every day and spend most of your time with them. The connection you make with these people is unbreakable and will last a lifetime. I still think about Bozeman and the people I met over there every day, and being back in Australia only makes me appreciate the simplicity of the relationship we all shared even more.
Being in Montana was escaping the everyday routine of being home in Australia. There was no work, only time for fun to be had! Typically, a week in Bozeman was class for a couple of hours during the day, any time surrounding either side of class was usually spent with friends, eating, drinking, watching movies, going for coffee or just hanging out. Weekends usually consisted of partying or just chilling watching movies, with occasional weekends away. Other people spent most of their time on the ski fields. Personally, the idea of skiing sounded like fun, but in reality, I sucked at it and having three year olds whiz pass you on the bunny slope while you are struggling to even stand up is a massive deterrent. Alternatively, I spent a lot of my time at Walmart. Seriously, that place is like a black hole that sucks you in for hours at a time, taking chunks of your money along with it.

While you’d think the Australian and American college lifestyles would be very similar, the reality is very different and the American college culture does not disappoint. The biggest difference I found between American and Australian universities is the college pride in the States. Everywhere you go in America, houses are swamped in the colours of their local University. Going to events, supporting your college really reinforces the pride there is. For me, the event that I most frequented whilst abroad was the basketball. It was never dull, the entire stadium would be decked out in Blue and Yellow (MSU colours), there’d be cheerleaders and the dance squad doing their thing, the school band (who would yell out to the opposition telling them they sucked, which was very amusing), Champ (the school mascot) would be walking around, sometimes there was even a blimp that would be floating about and when MSU would score a point, the crowd would jump up and down, cheering so loudly that feeling anything but pride for your University would be impossible.

It’s been over a year now since I did my study abroad, and there’s never a day where I don’t find myself reminiscing, or planning future trips back. If I could go back in time to change anything, there’s honestly not a single thing I’d do differently – except maybe stop time so that we could enjoy being in Bozeman forever.

I will post more about my student exchange in the future, but if there is anything that I’d hope you’ve taken away from this blogpost it’s to get up and go! Go on exchange and experience what else is out there! Experience what it’s like to live in another country!

Oh and also, just in case you were wondering, I did go to a FRAT party and drink out of a red cup. Although the party only lasted like half an hour before the cops came and busted it, I did finish my drink …. so mission completed!
If you’re reading this and just getting ready to go on an exchange to America, I have a challenge for you. My proudest accomplishment whilst abroad was that I managed to eat at least one slice of pizza everyday for three weeks (you may think that that sounds gross, but their pizza is so good you don’t understand until you’ve been somewhere where it’s on offer, for free, all you can eat, all day every day). If you can beat that, I will buy you a pizza of your choice in Australia! It’s an unresistible reward for a challenge that you know is worth it 😉

Happy Travels,
Kachina 🙂

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Getting pho real with Intrepid

Before sharing my Vietnamese experience with you, I think I owe you an apology in regards to my noticeable absence over the last couple of weeks. It’s a sad excuse, but you never really notice how quickly time goes by when you get so caught up in every day events. I’m making the promise now (really, it’s on the internet and that stuff never disappears) that I will share stories on a more frequent basis and won’t go AWOL without warning you first. And what better day is there for re-connecting with travel stories than on a miserable rainy day?! Hopefully this will transport you to a sunny, place even if only momentarily.

2012 was a busy year. It was my first year of uni  – making lots of new friends, learning so many new things and really trying hard to get used to a new way of learning. Amongst all of this, I was also planning a holiday with some friends to Vietnam. Since watching the Top Gear Vietnam special, the country had very quickly made its way to the top of my ‘to go’ list. After spending months contemplating the travel options that were available, my friends and I decided on booking an Intrepid Tour. If I’m being really honest, I wasn’t keen on the idea of going on a tour at all. From what I’d seen, tours were a big bunch of people who jumped from sight to sight in major cities, following a leader who carried a flag. Or they were large groups of people who’s idea of travel was to get hammered every night and spend 10 minutes at major sights, capturing their clichéd poses in front of the sights. I was worried about going on a tour and experiencing something like the above and not having a lot of time to do my own thing. Having already travelled a lot, independence is something that I thrive upon and I didn’t like the idea of having such a strict itinerary.
My apprehension in regards to tours naturally lead me to researching the crap out of Intrepid, and needless to say, I was impressed with what they offered. Unlike other well known tour companies that really don’t have a lot of focus on the culture of the visited area, Intrepid is a tour company that really focuses on experiencing the culture of whatever country you are in. Instead of hiring tour guides from Western countries, Intrepid Tour Guides are locals – giving travellers a cultural experience that you wouldn’t gain from several other tour companies. There are so many little things that Intrepid include in their travel deals that impressed me; the tour-phobe. They incorporate a lot of spare time in their itineraries, giving travellers the freedom to do what they want, in terms of age restrictions, they are pretty well non-existent, meaning that you can enjoy the company of people who have come from all different walks of life and most importantly, they give you time at each destination! You’re not at one place for a measly single night, it’s usually a minimum of three days per stop and your time is basically unlimited at each sight, so not only do you get to take your photos, you get to really experience and learn about the area!
Knowing all of this about Intrepid made me feel a lot better about being a tour member, but there were still moments of uncertainty leading up to the trip.
I flew into Hanoi alone and met up with my travel companions a few hours later at the hotel. Having spent 5 weeks in Nepal a year earlier, I was expecting Vietnam to be similar in terms of it’s socio-economic standing and was surprised to see that Vietnam is quite developed in comparison. Our tour was to start in Hanoi, however we had arrived a few days earlier in order to overcome any jetlag and to get a general feel for the country. The time that we spent in Hanoi prior to commencing the tour was spent walking around the city and having daily massages – a must when in ‘Nam!
A few days later we had a tour ‘meet and greet’. Including the tour guide there was around 15 of us in the group, ranging from 20 to 40+ years in age. It was exciting to be meeting all the people that we’d be travelling with for the next couple of weeks!
We had all signed up to be part of Intrepid’s Vietnam Express Southbound tour where we would travel around Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hue, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). For the entirety of the trip, the general feel was a laid-back, happy-go-lucky kind of style. Everyone got along well and we all shared a love of travel. The days were spent sightseeing (alone or as part of the group) and the nights were made up of good food, good company and a good couple of rounds of beers.
Vietnam was magical, it was everything that I thought it would be and more. I was constantly being blown away by its endless beauty. Like to what I experienced in Nepal, the locals were all so incredibly happy! I loved that everywhere we went we were always greeted with a smile. One of my favourite moments of the trip was at a nightclub in Hue. Not because of the party-scene, but because we went in as a group and there was no alienation of anyone due to age. Everyone that was in the club was there to be surrounded by friends, having a good time! I absolutely loved it, especially as over here (in Australia), being above a certain age and going to a club comes with a lot of negative connotations, it was so nice to see people enjoying their time in Vietnam irregardless of age.
To sum it up, travelling independently is my preferred method, however in countries where it is safer to be part of a guided tour than to be alone, Intrepid is my company of choice. I enjoyed my travels with Intrepid and have since recommended them to people who are seeking experiences similar to mine.

A Nepalese Coming of Age Part 2.

My first couple of days in Nepal were spent with me remaining in a somewhat shell-shocked/’oh-god-what-have-I-done’ state. After being introduced to Thamel, the area in which I would spend most weekends with other volunteers, I was sent off to my new home to meet my host family and taken to my work placement. My first impression of my home for the coming 5 weeks was literally ‘wow’. After driving through several back streets we pulled in front of a big, bright pink house that I was told would be my home. Bright colours aside though, I was welcomed into this new atmosphere with open arms and three gorgeous puppies, excited to be greeting their newest family member. After peaking around each room in the house and dropping off my bags, it was time to go to MSPN, the HIV/AIDS rehabilitation centre I would be working at. I was feeling very nervous and apprehensive. I certainly did’t expect to receive the greeting I got upon arrival. The gate only had to open ajar before I was inundated by a mass of the cutest children running up to me saying ‘Namaste Didi’ (Namaste is hello, and Didi means sister – what women older than your age are called). It was love at first sight. Looking at these kids, you couldn’t tell that there was anything wrong with them, they were healthy, happy children.
On that first day I was showed around the living quarters for the infected mothers and children, the office and the classroom. I was shocked to learn how ill-stigmatised HIV/AIDS still is in Nepal. It was like they were stuck in the 80’s. The office was plastered with newspaper cuttings of children who had been expelled from school for being HIV+. It was crazy. I remember looking at these articles and looking outside at this group of children, who were happily playing, being normal kids and wondering how a disease so devastating and out of their control could put them in such an outcasted group within society. This was the first of many eye-opening experiences I had.
After the quick tour of MSPN, I was sent back to my host home to relax over the weekend and get ready for my first full week of work. From the moment I got home that day, my first weekend in Nepal was different to any weekend I’d ever had in Australia. My roommate in Nepal had gone away for the weekend, so I wouldn’t meet her until Sunday. Friday night was spent at a local pub with two of my host brothers and a group of their friends. Every 10 minutes the lights would turn off because electricity isn’t very good in Nepal. Saturday was spent hiking around the mountains that surrounded my new home with one of my host brothers. And on Sunday I took a taxi into Thamel and met up with some volunteers I’d met upon arrival. Coming home that night was interesting. I was excited as I’d finally be meeting my roommate – a girl from New York who is still one of my closest friends to date. I’d got home and we’d been talking for all of five minutes when the house started shaking. We looked at each other and questioned why the other was shaking the table, we realised a few seconds later that it was an earthquake. Our host Mum, Neeta came running upstairs, screaming at us to get out of the house. It was a pretty frightening experience. Everyone on the street was lined up out the front of their houses. Needless to say, my start to Nepal was already very different to anything that I’d ever experienced before.
The next couple of weeks in Nepal I experienced a lot. To begin with, there was Dashain (the biggest annual festival in Nepal) which was also the reason for my vast weight gain – So.Much.Rice! Aside from this though, there were times that I felt sad and shocked – when I learnt that there was a hospital a 10 minute walk away from MSPN, but they wouldn’t accept patients who were HIV+, so instead these children had to drive over an hour to get to a hospital that would accept them as patients. I was shocked when I saw the state of the hospital – it was like a huge, dirty, over-crowded train station. I felt gratitude. Gratitude for living in a country where there is no societal division as obscenely cruel. Gratitude for living in a country that has medication available and affordable. Although, these feelings of gratitude were often swapped for feelings of disgust. Disgust at the first world for not funding more towards these countries that so desperately need it, disgust at all the things we take for granted. But above all of these conflicting feelings, I found myself feeling a happiness that I had never felt before, a love, passion so strong, it was unbreakable. I had a constant feeling of resonation with the land that surrounded me and the people who were there to share this amazing experience with me. There are really no combination of words that can describe the feelings I had whilst in Nepal. To put it most simply, I was really learning so much, about people, the world and myself.
To be able to recount my time in Nepal from beginning to end would take an infinity. Long story short, this trip opened up my eyes to a whole new world and has largely made me who I am today. Since spending time in Nepal and gaining an intense first hand experience of what it’s like to live with HIV/AIDS in a third world country has sparked a passion in me and has been the cause of many charitable events that I’ve participated in. Even four years later I am still acting on making a difference to what I saw in Nepal. Most recently, I donated $200 to the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation and have signed up as a volunteer with them – and can’t wait to start doing some volunteer work for them!
For me, my Nepal story was the beginning of really learning what travel means to me. It has shaped what I want to do in the future and has given me this drive to want to go out there, experience the unreal and make a difference. It’s these experiences and feelings that I want to share with everyone, I can’t be selfish in keeping this all to myself – it’d hurt to do so!
I hope this has sparked something in someone somewhere!

Have a happy and safe Easter,

Kachina.

If you have any travel questions or would like to know anything more about Nepal and my time there, feel free to contact me via the ‘Contact’ tab, I’m more than happy to help!

A Nepalese Coming of Age. Part 1

It still feels like it was only yesterday that I bid a teary farewell to my family at the Sydney Airport in September of 2011. Not only was I embarking on my very first solo trip abroad, I was starting a new page that was to commence a new chapter in my life that I could have never predicted.
Every traveller has a trip that stood out to them, that will always hold a very special place in their heart. At the age of 19, I was naive and ready for a good time. I had been travelling with my family for 17.5 years and had experienced and seen a lot for someone of my age. Even with all of that in mind though, nothing could have prepared me for what I would learn and experience in Nepal. From the very beginning of the planning stages, Nepal was a special story. I finished high school in 2010 and had decided that I wanted to take a year out to travel before starting a University degree. The early months of 2011 saw me travel to the Gold Coast, Europe (Italy, Germany, Switzerland and France) and Port Macquarie – I wasn’t short of adventure and achieving my gap year goals. Although I knew I still wanted to travel elsewhere. By that point, I’d known for a couple of years that I wanted to work at an American Summer Camp. Once I’d returned from Europe, I started looking into what was available for me in North America and was finding a position very difficult – turns out that Camp America preferred people with more ‘life experience’ to help run their camps. I felt very deflated, and started looking into what other options were available outside of Camp America. It was at this point that my father came home from work one day and was telling me about a co-worker whose daughter had just returned from doing volunteer work in Nepal. Out of curiosity Dad and I googled Nepal and were amazed by what we saw. The endless supply of pictures online of this country were amazing! An outstanding beauty that can only be explained by seeing it for yourself. Before even giving myself a chance to think it through, I quickly looked up volunteer companies in Nepal and sent off an application form. Within a fortnight I had a response saying that I’d been accepted into Project Abroad‘s volunteer program in Nepal, working with malnourished children. I was stoked. In the small gap of time between sending the application off and receiving the acceptance I had spent hours researching Nepal and purchasing travel guides online. I knew it’d be a different kind of  adventure that I hadn’t experienced before and was excited to be going somewhere new.
The next couple of months were spent working my butt off and preparing for a 5 week stint in Nepal (followed by 6.5 weeks in North America) helping to look after malnourished children. Two weeks before I was due to leave Australia I received an urgent email from Projects Abroad stating that my position was being changed from working with the malnourished to working with HIV+ children in an HIV/AIDS rehab centre. I freaked. I hadn’t been taught a great deal about HIV/AIDS. At them time, all I knew about it was that it is an extremely contagious sexually transmitted disease that can also be transmitted through intravenous drug use and sharing of saliva and it can kill you. I got so worked up and anxious about this change that I wanted to cancel the trip. Luckily, both of my parents work in hospitals and were able to sit me down and explain HIV/AIDS to me properly and were able to make me realise that I didn’t have anything to be afraid of.
So come mid-September, I was off. I remember getting on the plane and being so dumbfoundingly confused. Catching an International flight was something that I had done countless times, I knew the process like the back of my hand, and yet I still managed to sit in the wrong seat. Whoops. From that moment on, I felt that this idea to go volunteer in a third world country was doomed. My flight had a stop-over in Guangzhou … which was delayed. Not what I wanted to hear. I got even more wound up again by the fact that I couldn’t get in touch with the Volunteer Company who would be picking me up at the airport in Kathmandu. I went to the bathroom and cried. Already, all I wanted was my Mum. Although, I knew I had to keep on going.
Finally, I arrived in Kathmandu. It was late at night. I was shocked to see that the International Airport was literally a giant shed in between a few mountains. There were taxi drivers harassing people at the baggage claim (which surprisingly didn’t worry me as I’d already read about what to expect at the airport in my new bible – the Lonely Planet‘s Guidebook on Nepal). Eventually I found the people who were picking me up and was kindly surprised by how welcoming they were – I received a special traditional Nepalese scarf. As we drove into Thamel (the main tourist hub in Kathmandu) I was disappointed to see that everything was so dark and dreary looking. I kept wondering ‘what have I got myself into?’. That night I cried myself to sleep. I was so overwhelmed and already experiencing culture shock.
Unfortunately, this spiel of negativity didn’t disappear in my sleep. I was woken up in the early hours of the morning by loud street noises and a sweltering heat that had me feeling uncomfortably nauseous. I grabbed the first thing I could (my only packet of zappos) and ate what was left of them, trying to fill my body up with much needed sugar and was beyond disappointed when I vomited them all back up again five minutes later.
Luckily, this was the end of my beginner’s bad-luck. Later that morning I had my orientation and met another volunteer (a girl from Melbourne named Kaveeta) who I became good friends with. After being shown around the city, we decided to do some of our own sightseeing and went to Swayambhunath Temple (aka Monkey Temple). It was beautiful. Although being new to the area we got lost. While trying to get ourselves back on track we passed some children who were lined up in a row, squatting. Immediately I told Kaveeta to start walking faster. This wasn’t because seeing these kids openly pooping in public made me uncomfortable, I was scared (ironically) shitless that they’d then throw their poo at us and rob us. A situation that I had read about in the Lonely Planet Guidebook. Of course, Kaveeta looked at me with a strange look but did as I said and stepped up the pace.
It’s funny looking back on that situation now, how absurd it was that I was so frightened of these children going about their business. Little did I know then that this was a turning point for me and that the rest of my time spent in Nepal would include some of the happiest moments of my life.

To Be Continued …

Traveller VS. Tourist

I believe that there are two types of people in the realm of travel and world exploration – the traveller and the tourist. Neither one makes a person better or worse, they are just different styles in which people prefer to experience the world and the wonderful things it has to offer.
So which one are you? There are many different factors that contribute as to what kind of wanderer you are. So lets start with some key points to helping you identify which best describes you.

Case Point 1: The tourist
– Travel mostly during peak-seasons
– Interested more in major cities that offer lots of tourist-friendly activities
– Spend a couple of days at a time at each destination
– Tend to eat mostly at restaurants
– Assimilate with the group in which they travel with (for example, many tour groups have restrictions on allowed ages)
– Tend to stay in nice hotels for the duration of their trip
– Communication with locals is minimal
– Have a tendency to say that they’ve “done” places (which I can’t make sense of). For example, you’re at the Leaning tower of Pisa in Italy, you see a group of people enter the site. They are there for all of 10 minutes in which they pose with the tower, take a few photo’s and leave. Firstly, I can’t comprehend how one could fully experience the location and history of the area for what it is in 10 minutes and secondly, upon asking these people where they have been, they are most likely to respond with a comment along the lines of “I just did Pisa”, which in no way, shape or form makes any sense, but is used a lot in tourist-lingo nonetheless.

So I guess you could say that being a tourist means being more interested in going to big-named places that are well-known for their famous sights – sticking to what is known will be safe.

Case Point 2: The Traveller
– Prefer to travel during the off-peak period
– More interested in going off the beaten track rather than seeing big cities
– Prefer to spend an extended amount of time at each destination in order to get to know the area, the people and understand/become part of the culture.
– Strictly eat as cheaply as possible (sandwiches, granola bars, nuts etc.)
– Tend to stay in hostels or with locals
– Avoid using the term ‘done’ to describe the places that they’ve been to
– Avoid sticking to a strict itinerary and prefer to leave time for unseen adventures
– Travellers travel not just to see new places and experience new things, but to learn (about the self, other people and the world in general).

To be a traveller means going out to experience new things, to find meaning. To be a traveller means to do the in-ordinary.

While there are different styles in which people choose to travel, there is one thing that we all have in common – the time in which we choose to travel. There is no better time to travel than now, so go out there and do it!
Happy Travels,
Kachina 🙂

Flying Etiquette 101

Travel  by air. A necessity for getting from one place to another in a timely fashion. Quite often it is tedious, exhausting and needed. And quite unfortunately, there are so many people that make this vital part of travel an absolute nightmare. So here, I have written some tips on how to fly, knowing that you won’t be that person annoying fellow flyers – that’s something to take pride in!
First off the bat. Carry on luggage. Nothing makes me quite so mad as seeing other flyers with huge carry-on bags! Especially when they push their way through to be sure that they can fit all 5 of their bags in the overhead compartments, leaving little room for the people who follow the rules and remain considerate of other people on the flight to store their bags. So, rule number 1: When organising your carry-on bag (usually you’re allowed 1x carry-on baggage and 1x personal item equalling a total of 10kg) don’t go over the size/weight limit of your carry-on bag. Store your carry-on in the overhead compartment, and keep your personal bag at your feet. Also, don’t push other people’s carry-on in the overheads around, it’s rude, there could be breakables in their bag and you wouldn’t like people handling your bag like that either.
During the flight:
1. Never, EVER take your shoes and socks off! Taking shoes off and leaving socks on is fine, but please, for the love of god, keep your feet covered! And within your space! There is almost nothing as frustrating as having someone’s bare-feet resting on your arm rest.
2. Never wake a fellow flyer up! There are two important things that aren’t certain when travelling. Sleep and food. On every flight I take, after small talk to the people sitting next to me, I tell them that if they need to get up during the flight and I’m asleep to climb over me, and if the food is coming around, wake me up (admittedly, I’m not very good at the latter, but most airlines will put your food aside if you sleep through meal-time). While these requests may seem odd to someone who hasn’t travelled long distances before, it is a completely normal request and frequent flyers really do appreciate an understanding from other travellers.
3. If you are flying with small children, please refrain them from running around the cabin and unnecessary screaming. This point doesn’t really need explaining, just don’t do it.
4. Generally, don’t be rude and inconsiderate of the other people you are sharing the plane with. It’s really that simple.

Finally, when the flight is over, unless you have a quick flight transfer, there is absolutely no need to push and shove to get off the plane. Everyone WILL be getting off, people don’t get left behind!

The above annoyances I’ve listed are the things I find so many people doing way too often! If anyone has any other flying nightmares/pet peeves I’d love to hear them!
Have a good week, happy travelling!