What makes an Indie Traveller?

So week 2 of BnA’s 2012 Indie Travel Challenge:

What do you think? Are you an indie traveler? What do you think makes someone an indie traveler?

Well, my inner English pedant would stipulate that I would agree I am indeed an indie traveller ūüėČ ¬†(although it’s not a phrase I use myself in everday language, I can’t think of a better way to put it) but what does that mean? It is more than just someone who is travelling independently -i.e. without a tour company or travel agent arranging things for them. I think it’s more a mindset, an approach to travel and to the world at large. It’s being completely open to new experiences and to taking life as it comes, an unquenchable deep need to see, taste, touch, hear, learn, and just to be out there exploring. It’s an attitude, and if you take it far enough (as some would argue I may have by now), it’s a way of life. ¬† More


Indie Travel Challenge #1: Resolutions for 2012

So the first prompt for BootsnAll’s 2012 Indie Travel Challenge is to write a list of my travel resolutions for 2012. Whilst I’m not usually one for new years resolutions – this blog prompt seems incredibly serendipitous for me, seeing as just a few days ago on 1st January I left home for a one-way journey that will hopefully see me travelling for the entire of 2012. I haven’t up to this point ever written down my plans, so this seems a good opportunity to commit the jumble of ideas in my head to the written word! So here goes:

1. Couchsurf wherever possible

2. Become a qualified divemaster

3. Complete at least one multi-day trek – in Northern Thailand, Laos or Vietnam

4. Attend a 10-day meditation retreat in Thailand

5. Volunteer on at least one veterinary project in Asia

6. Visit Burma as independently as possible

7. Go wreck diving in the Philippines

8. See Orang-utans and Komodo dragons in Indonesia

9. Get a working holiday visa for Australia

10. Spend time (at least a month, if several months each) living and working in Perth and Sydney

11. See the total solar eclipse in November near Cairns

12. Visit Uluru

13. Take a long train ride across Australia

14. Be in Australia for New Year 2013 – preferably watching the fireworks over Sydney Harbour Bridge!

So, there it is!!! 14 things I resolve to acheive in my travels this year. Watch this space!

Things to do in (insert place here)

So yesterday I landed in Kuala Lumpur, the first stop on my one-way wanderings around Asia. I’m couchsurfing here and had not really done much research on things I wanted to do or see in the city whilst here before landing – and now I have a travel-buddy date with a fellow surfer to do touristy things today, and neither of us have a guidebook!

No fear. This past year I have visited several cities in the same manner, and each time, my strategy has paid off: simply type ‘things to do in (place)’ into google, and hey presto!! This led to 4 wonderful days sightseeing in Cairo, ¬†including a free Sufi dance show we’d have never heard about otherwise, also kept me happily entertained in Tel Aviv and Athens. Virtual tourist usually seems to have a pretty good list, and it’s nice because it’s written by other travellers who have been there rather than a tourist board, but here in Kuala Lumpur, I’m going to start by following this gem from a blog; 12 free things to do in Kuala Lumpur. The added bonus that they are free is an obvious attraction!! Whilst budget isn’t the main reason I’m couchsurfing – more that I’m attracted to the different experience it offers staying with someone who lives here to gain a more inside perspective on a place – couchsurfing does have the added bonus of being free, so I like the idea of trying to see how much I can do here, in a big city, without spending a lot. I shall report back on how that challenge goes!


Getting jabbed up

I’m writing this with a massive bruise on my arm- I got my latest travel vaccination a few days ago, for Japanese Encephalitis, and it’s been the biggest bruiser yet! I’m already up to speed with the majority of vaccinations travellers need from my last trip, but JE is only an issue if spending an extended period in rural Asia, which I may well just do, so I decided to fork out for it. Not cheap at around¬†¬£150 for the course; but I look on vaccinations as a necessary pre-travel expense, like buying a backpack or travel insurance. I need to get my rabies boostered soon too – but I’ll probably do that whilst in Asia (specifically Bangkok), where it’ll be much cheaper! Most travellers don’t need rabies vaccines, but as my work quite definitely involves close contact with animals, again it’s a necessity.

The best website I’ve found for travel health, vaccinations, malaria prophylaxis etc is The Travel Doctor – fantastically informative. A lot of people say ”ask your GP”….. but I think it’s important to inform yourself of the risks and make your own decision regarding your healthcare choices. Your GP is only ever going to make standard recommendations, and each national health authority seems to have wildly different advice for travellers, so my recommendation: do your own homework!

Tips for UK-based backpackers: you can get your Tetanus, Diptheria, Polio, Typhoid, and Hep A all for free on the NHS. You may also be able to get Hep B for free if your GP thinks your lifestyle/work puts you at risk, or through a sexual health clinic. Travel clinic chains worth checking out for the rest are citydoc and nomad travel clinics.

30 days of indie travel ‚Äď #2 Embracing Change

Bootsnall says….

Change can be exciting and bring new joys into our lives. But it can present challenges that frustrate or annoy us. How has travel changed you in the last year? Did you welcome these changes or resist them at the time, and how do you feel about them now?

I started travelling seriously because of a change in my life – after the end of my previous long-term relationship I no longer wanted to be settled in one place, and took the opportunity to travel without time constraint for the first time in my life, at the age of 27. I’d taken countless short trips around Europe (and reaching slightly further afield) before then, but never had the chance to do the months-on-end wandering thing. I didn’t care where I went, and ended up in Central America for 5 months after following a link on facebook to a medical research trial who would pay people to receive a vaccine and then send them to Guatemala to try and get food poisoning.


30 days of indie travel – #1 Goals

So one of my favourite websites for whiling away some time reading travel articles and inspiration, is www.bootsnall.com, who have been running a ’30 days of Indie travel’ blogging project throughout November. It’s been one of the things that has pushed me into starting to blog, having been pondering over it for ages. Now, ¬†obviously I’m a bit behind, but, it seems like a good way to write about some past travel experiences.

So, prompt #1 – Goals More

New trip, new start, new blog

I usually just keep friends and family updated of my travels via facebook – but sometimes you just want to write a little more about what you’ve been up to, ¬†and I’ve started to want to keep a bit more of a record for myself too. So, here is my very own blog!! It will be interesting to see how it develops. More