The truth about being a solo female traveller

A few decades ago the idea of a young female travelling the world alone might've set off alarm bells, but after doing just that, I'm convinced it's something every woman should do at least once in her life! Solo travel hasn’t seemed like too much of a big deal for me personally because I’ve been inspired by so many other solo female travellers who I've read about, watched videos of and followed on social media. Because I’ve been itching to travel for so long and didn’t have anyone to travel with, it ended up being the path I’ve taken. 

 A romantic sunset is just as romantic when you have the best company; your own

A romantic sunset is just as romantic when you have the best company; your own

The truth is, being a solo female traveller is badass and an incredible experience, but it isn't all sunsets and waterfalls. As with any kind of travel, it has its pros and cons. I've made a list of a few of the most important ones that I've discovered on my trip so far. 

Pro

You can see things your own way. 
I think everyone should travel solo at least once, men and women both. You might find it’s not for you, but you might also surprise yourself with how much you can see, who you meet along the way and what you’ll learn about yourself. You have the freedom to do whatever you wish, the world is your oyster, seize the day. So many cliches to pick from! When you travel alone there's no compromising with someone else and I think that's great for women as we still have to make a lot of compromises in our lives, no matter how progressive our society gets. If you want to spend 9 hours strolling through an art gallery, sure thing. Stay up all night to see the Aurora Borealis, go crazy. Feel like drinking sangria all night with new friends you made at the hostel and dancing on tables, ain't nobody gonna stop you! 

Oh, the places you'll go! - Dr Seuss

Con

It can get lonely. 
I would be lying if I said that my whole trip has been a whirlwind of crazy moments surrounded by amazing new people whom I now consider friends and I haven't had a moment to myself to feel lonely. Of course you will meet amazing new people from around the world and make crazy memories, but that's only if you put yourself in situations where that can happen, and doing so 24/7 is hard work. Some days I arrive at a hostel and just feel like a hot shower and an early night, or on a long bus ride I will choose to plug in my headphones and watch Netflix. Don't mix up being alone and feeling lonely, often when I'm alone, I'm loving it. But there are plenty of times where I get really lonely. It can even happen when I'm surrounded by people, so the two are definitely not mutually exclusive. 

 Looking cool, calm and collected at Nyhavn, but a few hours later I went back to my Airbnb and had a huge cry

Looking cool, calm and collected at Nyhavn, but a few hours later I went back to my Airbnb and had a huge cry

I did have one mini meltdown after leaving the hostel I was volunteering in for 3 weeks in Denmark. Once I'd left Aarhus I spent one night in an AirBnb in Copenhagen and had a big cry about being alone. Luckily I had a friend to call in a similar time zone (thanks Aliesha) and after a bit of a chat I felt much better. I think it was hard leaving behind a whole bunch of new friends and a city that I’d fallen in love with, and I had gotten some Snapchats from my friends back home which made me miss them as well. Luckily that's been the loneliest moment for me and I haven't felt as lonely since that. 

Pro

Solo Female Traveller - Snapchat

The internet brings us closer together. 
Although sometimes I hate it, thank goodness for the internet! I’m so grateful for being able to easily make calls with apps like SnapChat, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger to friends and family when I need it. It also means I can easily keep most of them in the loop at the same time about my trip. The picture on the right is from a drunk night out in Santorini when I thought it was very important to let some of my fellow nugget-loving friends back home know that I love them and miss them. What a time to be alive!

There’s a really cool community online for solo female travellers so I hope that during my trips I’ll get a chance to meet some! I came close once but it fell through, but I know that there are heaps of ladies who have met up in real life after becoming friends online, or just travelling together because it was convenient. I’ve also found people to ride share with online too, which brought down the cost of my Golden Circle and south coast road trip in Iceland, so resources like this are really helping make the lives of solo travellers much easier.  

Con

Selfie sticks.
There will come a time when your own arm just doesn't cut it anymore. When you've had a million helpful strangers take your photo only to come away hating every single one of them (the photos, not the helpful strangers). You're sick of all the nice scenery shots of isolated places being empty and missing the key ingredient - you. The minutes spent setting up a good self-timer shot are starting to tally up. At this low point in your travels, you have a tough choice to make - keep trying the above, or bite the bullet and by a selfie stick. I am at that point, I feel a little defeated but I think it's time to join the hordes and purchase a selfie stick.

 I hate to admit it, but deer selfies would've been much easier with a selfie stick

I hate to admit it, but deer selfies would've been much easier with a selfie stick

Pro

You're only responsible for yourself
I have travelled with other people in the past and it's always when I'm with someone else that something I've booked has gone wrong. Or maybe it's just a matter of perspective, because when I screw up something for myself I just deal with the fall out and make a new plan, but I hate the stress of potentially ruining someone else's day or their whole trip. Ok...I haven't stuffed up that badly! But in the past when I've travelled with others and something has gone wrong, I've been 10x more stressed than when something has gone wrong and I'm alone. It's also easy knowing that you only have yourself to excite or disappoint, so the pressure is off in that regard.

Con

You need to be more cautious. 
Sometimes people brush off the added danger of being female when you travel but I don't think it should be ignored just because society is becoming more progressive and female-friendly. I’m always cautious when I travel anyway, but even more so when I’m alone and especially because I’m a woman. So far I haven’t travelled anywhere where I’ve felt very unsafe being solo, but there’s always a bit of anxiety that I could be seen as a more easy target than a man. And there’s always the looks that men give women, that’s present everywhere you travel to some extent and it will always make me feel uneasy. When men ask me if I'm travelling alone, I usually say that I am but am meeting up with friends soon, or something similar, and I never give away my whereabouts just in case.

Make sure you have travel insurance too. You never know what could go wrong and if you don't have someone else there with you, you'll really be grateful that you found yourself a good insurer to sort out the problem. I was so surprised at what my travel insurance covered (gifted to me by Worldcare Travel Insurance, thanks again!); things like strikes and emergency dental care. They're things that hadn't even crossed my mind as scenarios that could happen while I've been away, so it definitely pays to look into it properly so you don't get caught out. 

 Also, be cautious when sitting on bridges...you never know. 

Also, be cautious when sitting on bridges...you never know. 

Pro

It's easier to meet people.
This one is definitely true for me at least. Even though I can be antisocial at times, I know that I won't make new friends if I don't put myself out there, and making new friends is awesome! When I've travelled with others in the past it's been easy to just talk to them the whole time and not bother striking conversations with strangers. If you're in a group situation, you're much less likely to be approached by someone alone, but if you're alone too they'll find it easier to come over and say hello. You never know what could happen when you talk to a stranger on the plane, or start a conversation over breakfast at the hostel. 

The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me. - Ayn Rand

Pro

A sense of camaraderie, from both genders. 
I’ve had a lot of really nice responses from people when I tell them I’m travelling solo. It’s a wicked feeling when someone is impressed that I’m travelling alone but I’m quick to tell them that it’s actually easier than they might assume. When I meet other solo travellers we have that instant bond over common ground, we’ll share our stories and travel advice, as well our gripes and complaints. When I meet other ladies out there doing it like a pro I just want to give them a high five, but don't because I assume they're just too cool for that! 

Pro

No worrying about awkward money chats.
Maybe a small win, but I hate the conversations you have when you're travelling with people on a different budget to you and they want to split the bill. I always seem to be the one on the tightest budget who just drinks water and orders the cheapest item on the menu. There's no worrying about keeping a running tab of who owes who how much either. 

Pro

You'll never have so much freedom. 
Travelling alone gives you a wonderful sense of freedom. As mentioned previously, you don't have to compromise on your trip, but there's also the freedom of not having to answer to anyone. Of course, if you're a solo female traveller who has left her partner/family at home it's slightly different, but I'm just relating this to my experience. I have the freedom of going off the grid and finding myself a small little island hut and not worry about explaining why I'm being a weird hermit. I don't have to consult anyone about my next step because I'm the only one it affects. In saying that, do let your mother know you're still alive from time to time, they tend to worry ;) 

To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the most pleasant sensations in the world. You are surrounded by adventure. - Freya Stark
Solo Female Traveller - Aarhus

Packing for Europe

Getting ready for a trip is a funny thing. For months and weeks, it feels like you have all the time in the world, and before you know it BAM! You're in Europe! 

I will let you in on a shameful (not so secret) secret of mine; I'm the worst packer. For over 10 years I would go away to a week-long holiday camp at least twice a year, but I would always forget something vital each time. Sometimes it wasn't too bad, like a hairbrush or pjs. Other times it was a toothbrush, extra underwear or my bedding. So, for my Europe trip, I did a pre-pack a week prior to departure and then, and like Santa Claus, I'd been making a list and checking it twice. 

So, what do you pack for an indefinite trip to Europe from late Spring to Summer, and potentially Autumn?! Well...who knows what you should pack, but this is what I'm packing. 

WHAT-TO-PACK.jpg

Electronics:

These bits and bobs weigh the most in my pack so I'm hoping to make the most of them. I've even downsized to just my iPhone 8 Plus instead of a big camera, and I was gifted a Sony DSC-TX30. While my phone is only splash proof, the Sony is waterproof without a case for up to 10 metres so I will probably whip that out in Greece or Iceland if I want to keep my phone safe in bad weather. There's also my GoPro for those situations, but I think the camera will have better quality shots so I'll save the GoPro for time-lapses and other situations that may arise. 

I have also packed my DJI Spark and the portable charging unit, neither of which I had any troubles with on either of my flights. That's been my biggest worry, that airport security won't let me take some of my drone equipment onboard. I was really good and went and bought a Lipo bag, which is fireproof, and I've put my drone batteries in it, along with my Moyork power banks. They're not lithium from what I can tell, but I thought I'd be on the safe side as a few airlines only let you have them in separate bags in your carry on, so I figure putting them in a fireproof bag is the best I can do. 

 The electronics I've packed for Europe

The electronics I've packed for Europe

And, of course, I have adaptors, extra cables and wall plugs for Europe and the UK with USB ports. 

I'm really happy that Worldcare gifted me their GoComprehensive policy; it's particularly comforting when you're carrying things that are really important to you! I've already had a few incidents with my drone so I'm very precious with it, and although it’s only covered when in my possession and not when I’m flying, it’s still a relief to have insurance. Worldcare offer some really decent options for travel insurance and I think it's worth getting it to have some peace of mind...especially if you're a worrier like me. Just be aware of the maximum value for electronic items and other expensive things you’re carrying, incase they’re valued at more than what your insurance covers. And, don't forget to use my code when you purchase yours to get 10% off! - THELOSTGIRLS10

Clothes & Shoes

Clothing has been a tough one. I'm not known for my minimalism, and it was hard packing for potentially everything from snow to sun. I'm currently in Aarhus, Denmark, where the days have been sitting in the low teens and the wind adds an extra chill so I'm glad I have my puffer jacket. I just wish I had a cool winter wardrobe like the Danish girls I see, they're all so stylish! I have 2 pairs of jeans on rotation and some t-shirts for wearing underneath my jacket. I've got a pair of white Chucks which are my "nice" shoes and my Nikes for comfort, then I have sandals and jandals for when I move on to warmer weather. 

When I head south I have a couple of pairs of shorts and a skirt, playsuit, two dresses and lots of chiffon singlets as they weigh practically nothing. I also had to limit myself on bikinis (at my mother's insistence, I wanted to take more), so I only have my three favourites. I've packed my awesome Piha Swimwear one for when I hopefully go surfing in Portugal, can't wait!!

 My favourite bikini from Piha swimwear is definitely coming with me! 

My favourite bikini from Piha swimwear is definitely coming with me! 

Toiletries

I won't go into a lot of detail about my toiletries but there are a couple of things that deserve a special mention. The first is Goodbye Ouch balm which I was given by a friend. It has over 80 uses but so far I have only used it for a few - lip balm, moisturising my hands and on my face to protect it from the wind. Oh, the wind of Denmark... Then there's my old faithful coconut oil. It's always my go-to makeup remover and you only need the smallest amount to remove all your mascara. I wish I had more though because I think my hair could really use an oil treatment. I guess I'll just have to see if I can pick up a small amount at a supermarket. 

What do you take when you travel? Are you able to pack lightly or do you take everything and the kitchen sink? 

Planning my Europe trip

This month I will be going on my dream trip to Europe! So far, I have an open-ended plan, basically depending on how long my money will last. I will be aiming to stay between 3-6 months and so far I have the first three roughly planned out. Here is what I have planned so far: 

Why I'm travelling 

 Me and the eiffel tower...I promise to take better photos this time

Me and the eiffel tower...I promise to take better photos this time

I thought it might be good to start with a brief overview of why I'm doing a Europe trip, how I'll be travelling etc.

I've quit my full-time job to do a bit of intensive travelling because I normally just take the standard 4 weeks a year to go on little holidays away. But now it's time for a big trip! I've never travelled long term and apart from moving to Melbourne, my longest stint out of Auckland was 3 weeks in Europe, when I did a week in London alone, followed by an 11-day Topdeck trip. That was heaps of fun, but it's time for me to do a bit more.

I've spent the last year saving (not very well) and I will be spending as little on my trip as I can manage. That means hostels, couch surfing and WOOFing where possible. I will be splashing out a little when I go to Greece with friends for our birthdays, but for the most part, it will be a shoestring budget kinda trip. 

Destinations

I have worked my trip around a few events, following a rough itinerary of the best spots. The first event is Iceland, which I decided to do at the start of my trip because I don't know how long my money will last and I know it will be really expensive. But, it's at the top of my bucket list so I have to go! Then there's Greece for the birthdays at the end of May and at the start of July I have a friend running a fashion festival in Gibraltar so that will be the end of my first 3 months.

 in front of the london eye, november 2014

in front of the london eye, november 2014

In between these three destinations I plan on visiting other places; between arriving in Amsterdam and getting to Iceland I'll be stopping in Germany and Denmark, then between Greece and Gibraltar I'll probably get to Italy, Portugal and maybe Spain. After that I will need to get out of the Schengen zone (a visa zone for most of Europe) because I can only be in it for 180 days, so in July I will head to either somewhere in the United Kingdom, the Baltic area. Eastern Europe, or both. Ideally I would like to go back to Germany for Oktoberfest, we shall see. 

Transport

Because my destinations are quite far away from each other, I'm going to be doing a lot of flying. Skyscanner is my friend for checking the cheapest time to fly in the month, and from there I usually work around the cheapest option that suits my itinerary. So far I'm using WOW Air, Easy Jet and one I've never heard of called Transavia. I'm getting pinged with baggage fees for checking in my pack which is frustrating, it's not cheap! 

Planning my Europe trip

When I'm at a destination, I'm planning to use local transport like buses and trains, but for that, I will be winging it. What could go wrong? 

Insurance

This is one that I was dreading. If you've ever witnessed me trying to be an adult first-hand, you'll know it ain't pretty. I normally avoid life admin at all costs. I'm super stoked that Worldcare have kindly gifted me their GOComprehensive policy; looking through the list of what it covers was kind of a wake-up call. I've only ever had travel insurance once before through work so I didn't look around and I'm a "throw caution to the wind" type, but realistically, I need to make sure I'm covered for things like hospital expenses, lost luggage, terrorism and of course, valuables like my drone laptop. Worldcare is a really affordable option for travel insurance and I'm really impressed with how easy their website is to navigate; I was prepared to come away with a headache and more questions than answers, but I was happily proven wrong. 

And because I love anyone who reads my blog, you can get 10% off any Worldcare policy when using the promo code THELOSTGIRLS10! Offer valid until 31 August, 2018. Here's hoping I don't need it, but it's really reassuring to know that I'm covered if something goes wrong. 

Gear

This one is quite important for me because creating content is my passion. After a lot of deliberation, I've decided to try to sell Harrison (my Canon DSLR), due to the bulky size of it. Because I'm on a budget, I'm going to upgrade my iPhone instead. I'm sure any photographer will kill me, but my logic is that I would upgrade my iPhone anyway, and the new phones are waterproof and take really decent photos and videos. Since getting Lightroom on my phone, I think the quality of what I put out will be fine; I'm not very skilled with a camera yet anyway, and I can do it all on one device that's light and portable. If I had more money I would totally get a mirrorless camera or a smaller DSLR. I will also take my GoPro Hero3 as a backup and of course, my drone, the DJI Spark.

I'm so paranoid about running out of battery when I need it, so I got myself a portable charging station for my drone, it charges on the go which will be really handy, especially if I'm not around power points frequently. Moyork, a New Zealand tech accessories company, have kindly sent me some awesome stuff for my trip too! I'm so excited, they've given me some cables, a powerbank, a phone case, a charge clutch and some extra cables. Good to go!! 

Currency

I've been bad about my money. I'm planning on travelling until I run out and need to come home, but I'm refusing to work out an actual budget because I'm scared of what the outcome will be. I currently bank with Westpac so I tried to get their travel card but the website kept telling me that I needed an AA membership, and the lady in the store was unsure how to get around it so I flagged that option. Other types of travel cards require proof of address, which I pathetically don't have as I've been living with my parents, and all my personal bills are all digital. In the end I've gone with my Air New Zealand Onesmart card, so at least I'll be getting points when I use it overseas. I am having issues with their website and the app, so that one is proving to be a bit difficult too. Hopefully I'll get it sorted soon, before I actually depart! 

planning my europe trip 2

Planning the trip

The actual planning side of things was, and continues to be, pretty shambolic! But I make it work with a few tools that I find really handy. The first is Google Trips. This pulls all my itineraries from my Gmail account and stores them in the app. I can download them for offline access and the app has heaps of other cool features like suggestions on things to do, discounts for local tours/activities and important info about the destination. For the actual planning, I'm still using Dropbox Paper. Last time I wrote a trip about how I plan my travels I was using Google Docs, which are just easy, but after using Dropbox Paper for my trip to the Philippines I just stuck with them. I also have the apps for Hostelworld, Airbnb and Citymapper so those will come in handy soon too, I'm sure. 

 

What tools do you use to plan your trip??

 

Long weekend on Great Barrier Island

 Look out spot on the way to Medlands Beach, Great Barrier Island

Look out spot on the way to Medlands Beach, Great Barrier Island

Great Barrier Island is a place where you wave to every car you pass, you can be totally off the grid and the views will take your breath away.

Getting there

The island is a 30-minute flight from Auckland Domestic Airport or a 5-hour ferry from North Wharf on Auckland's viaduct with Sealink. The ferry is NZ$84 one way or NZ$105 return, which is slightly cheaper than the flights, which start at $89 one way with Barrier Air. I took the ferry there and returned on the plane which was great, I wanted to take the ferry because a lot of the time people see dolphins or whales. I saw one dolphin so that was awesome, but I think next time I would just fly there and back; it still offers incredible views and involves much less travel time. 

The Beaches

The beaches on Great Barrier Island are a huge drawcard. I visited Pah Beach, near my friend's bach in Tryphena which is a gentle harbour beach with some cool rock formations near the local store and pub. On the east side are some stunning surf beaches, which I didn't have a surfboard for sadly, but I did some boogie boarding and body surfing anyway. Medlands was about a 10-minute drive from Tryphena, has a cool island in the middle of the beach and some great little waves. Apparently, they have surf comps there too! I really loved Awana Bay, which was another 15 minutes north, on the east. The waves there were great too, and the beach itself is stunning and very empty due to its location further afield. Great place to stop after doing the punishing Mt Hobson. 

 The Island of Medlands Beach, Great Barrier Island

The Island of Medlands Beach, Great Barrier Island

 Medlands Beach, Great Barrier Island

Medlands Beach, Great Barrier Island

Mt Hobson

 View from the walk to Mt Hobson, Great Barrier Island

View from the walk to Mt Hobson, Great Barrier Island

 Made it to the top of Mt Hobson, Great Barrier Island

Made it to the top of Mt Hobson, Great Barrier Island

Speaking of Mt Hobson, what a cool walk! It's a 40 minute drive from Tryphena to the start of the walk, and the walk itself isn't very long, just quite intense. I think it took us between 60-90 minutes at a good pace, stopping a few times, to reach the top. We definitely didn't time it well though, we started the walk before lunch time, I think around 10 or 11 am and boy oh boy it was hot! Did I mention this trip was in January, the middle of New Zealand's summer? I think it was around 26°C and there were parts where it felt much hotter.

The first third was in the bush, lots of stairs with uphills and downhills. Then there's a lot of walking along a ridge out in the sun, but unfortunately the wind wasn't blowing in the right direction and this part was sweltering. The final third was in the bush again but it was a lot of stairs, all going uphill. The view along the path, and especially at the top, was really worth it though and I'm so glad we pushed through to reach the summit. 

Waterfall hike

My friend Bri has been going to Barrier for years and knows all the good spots! So naturally, I was keen for her to show me the waterfall while I was there. It's off Aotea Road, and about a half hour walk. Like Mt Hobson, it's a very steep walk. This one was straight downhill to the waterfall and straight back up to the road when we were done. Unfortunately, the steepest bits didn't have stairs and due to recent rainfall, we were slipping a lot on the way down. Poor Bri landed on her rear about 3 times, each one looked so painful. 

 Waterfall hike, Great Barrier Island

Waterfall hike, Great Barrier Island

Food & drink on the island

Because the island is quite far out, the food at the local store isn't cheap, and you have to buy water or boil it to make sure it's drinkable. I saw a lot of people taking 10L bottles of water over on the ferry which is a great idea because they had none in stock when we were there so we were constantly buying 2L bottles or boiling water, which gets expensive. Head down to the local pub in Tryphena, Currach Irish Pub, for a delicious wood-fried pizza and a beer, or try the cute little food stalls on the way out to Medlands Beach. Even better, enjoy some of the kaimoana (seafood) that you catch yourself, like kingfish or scallops, there are plenty of great spots! Just make sure you read up first to see what the limits are etc, you can find more information here.

Have you ever been to Great Barrier Island? Would you consider a trip out there? 

How I plan my travels

The best and worst part of travelling is the planning. I'm not an overly organised person, and the whole theme of my blog is to get lost, but when you're only travelling somewhere for a few days or a couple of weeks you have to be realistic and plan ahead. Otherwise, you run the risk of missing out on stuff you really want to see, or not making the most of your holiday.

Here are some of the tools and sites I use when planning my travels:

Instagram

 Yes, I have a whole album on Instagram of waterfall shots ;)

Yes, I have a whole album on Instagram of waterfall shots ;)

Instagram is the biggest one at the moment. I am soooooo grateful for the new feature which allows you to store up a bunch of photos that you really like. So whenever I'm scrolling through my feed and see something I like, I just save it. Then it's really easy to check the location later on and scope out other peoples' photos of the place and get a feel for it. 

Google Drive

Without sounding like a complete nerd, I seriously love Google Drive and Sheets. As I said, I'm not really a planner, but as a full time worker I only get 4 weeks a year, and I'm not one to spend half that time lounging poolside (not that there's anything wrong with that!).

I'm currently planning my trip to Myanmar and Bangkok, and I'll be meeting up with my partner when I get there. We currently have a Drive set up where we save our itineraries etc, and keep the planning Sheet. This sheet has several tabs; timetable, activities, accommodation and expenses. 

How I plan my travels - itinerary

It's cool to see it all laid out like this, to know what time slots need to be filled and when we're in one place too long etc. Because I'm really visual I added colours to the chart, then had a good laugh because my partner is colour blind and won't be able to appreciate it! 

Skyscanner

How I plan my travels - Skyscanner

I really like Skyscanner for it's visual approach. I like to travel on a budget so I'm often looking for the cheapest options, trying to squeeze a holiday around a long weekend or something similar. I really like using the map function, although it only does return flights, which can be a bit niggly, it's still really handy to see when is a good time to book somewhere, and who the cheap providers are. I haven't come across any other sites offering a similar function either, but I wonder if they will in the near future. 

TripAdvisor

Although I find TripAdvisor quite clunky and dated, it's still a really good tool for travel advise. I read a lot of reviews on it, though I take a lot of them with a grain of salt, and feel it's important to leave reviews in return (although I've been pretty slack at it). 

Other blogs

 A stunning shot of bagan at sunset from the traveling honeybird

A stunning shot of bagan at sunset from the traveling honeybird

Of course, you can't have a travel blog and not get inspiration from other travel bloggers! It goes hand-in-hand with Instagram as I find a lot of great bloggers through that channel, but when I want a little more information I take to the blogging world. I have been lucky to have had the help of the wonderful Jean from The Traveling Honeybird, who has several great reads about Myanmar, where I'm heading next. Through Instagram I met Kiara from Galloping Around The Globe who has a great article about exploring the temples of Bagan, which was number 2 on my Myanmar bucketlist. There are heaps of blogs out there, so it's a great way to research a destination for future travels! 

HowIPlanMyTravels-thumb

 

What tools do you like to use when you plan your travels? Do you enjoy that side of it or do you prefer to wing it? 

Top places to travel to in 2017

Travel is always on my mind, and heading into 2017 has been no different. I've been thinking about, and researching, interesting and inspiring places to travel to that aren't as popular or well known. Us Kiwis have all been to Fiji, Raro or Gold Coast for a sunny beach escape, or ventured over to London and from there embarked on a journey through Europe, probably going as far east as the Czech Republic. 

Not to say that there's anything wrong with these places; we keep going back for a reason! But I want to start travelling to less touristy places to see what they have to offer. I haven't been to any of these places yet, though all are on my bucket list, and I'll be visiting Myanmar in a few months time.

Just a warning, some of these are not for the faint hearted! 

Myanmar

Formerly known as Burma, Myanmar borders several more well travelled countries like India and Thailand, but it has managed to survive for years without a great deal of tourism by comparison.

Explore the ruins of Bagan and feel like a tomb raider, or take a tour down the famous Irrawaddy River or visit the glorious, golden Shwedagon Pagoda. I am really excited to be visiting in May, so stay tuned for my own experience of the place! 

Colombia

With the gorgeous Caribbean coast in the north and west, and the jungles of the continent to the south and east, the Central American country, Colombia, has a great deal to offer those who are a little on the adventurous side. 

2017 Colombia

In recent years, this paradise has become a lot easier and safer for tourists to travel to. Last year the government signed a peace deal with Farc after 4 years of negotiations (click here for more info) and peace is being spread far and wide in Colombia. 

Russia

If you know anything about history, you'll know that 1917 was a pretty big year for Russia. Revolution ended the 300 year rule of the Romanov dynasty, and communism took hold of the vast country. Though there haven't been any plans publicly announced for the centenary, it will be very interesting to see if something does happen. If nothing else, visit Russia and experience all the history it has to offer and find out more about the events of 1917. 

Namibia

Namibia is a photographers wet dream. Ironically, thanks to the outlandish orange landscape of the Kalahari Desert.

Plus there's the Skeleton Coast, the quirky old German town Luderitz, the fascinating Himba people, black rhinos, plenty of sand-dunes to board down, Fish River canyon, ancient rock carvings in Twyfelfontein and just a whole bunch of African wildlife. Brb.....booking tickets to Namibia. 

Canada

Canada is by no means untouched by us kiwis. We all have a friend, or a friend of a friend, who has been to work on the ski fields.

But 2017 is making it better than ever for a visit; Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary with free entry to all its national parks. According to Parks Canada, that's "46 national parks, 171 national historic sites, four national marine conservation areas, one national urban park and eight historic canals". I struggled to find out how much that would save you, but it's a pretty cool place to visit, regardless.

Oman

With Emirates and other airlines from the middle East being a popular choice for travelling to Europe from our end of the world, more and more deals are cropping up with cities like Dubai and Doha as stopovers. But why not use them as a stopover to somewhere a little less travelled, just as historic and stunning, but perhaps a little less touristy, like Oman? 

The capital, Muscat, is visually stunning with its low white-washed buildings is surrounded by desert, mountains and the Gulf of Oman. With a population barely larger than Auckland (1.5mil), it is humble in comparison to its more ostentatious neighbours, but nonetheless a place worth a visit. 

Cuba

I work in travel full time and my company have recently been doing a huge push of the Caribbean and the surrounding area, and I'm completely sold on Cuba!

It's an island stuck in time thanks to the Communist government which has been in place since the 1950s. Reportedly every family was given a car by the government back then, and thanks to a foreign vehicle import ban, these cars are almost all you'll see today. But tourism has been on the rise in Cuba for the last few decades, and it's a place I'd love to go to soon, while it's still in the old ways. 

South Korea

Japan is always a top destination for travellers, but just across the Sea of Japan, tourists are flocking to South Korea as well, though I don't think the hype has yet reached NZ. From stunning temples, to the gorgeous Busan coast, the bustling nightlife of Seoul to the sub-tropical island Jeju, this country has so much to offer. It's time to say Annyeong to South Korea! 

Portugal

Portugal is like the beautiful, creative, unassuming little sister of Spain. At least that's my outsider's perspective. Spain and its surrounding islands are so appealing to travellers, but if you go just a little further west, you'll discover something magical. 

There are so many quirky, colourful buildings, especially in Sintra. Lisbon, is the second oldest oldest capital city in the world, after Athens, and is a great mix of the old and the new, with lively modern day culture oozing out of the streets that are older than the hills (not literally older than the hills....I think).

Of course, there are so many more places I would travel to if I could, maybe I'll get around to some more of these later in the year?! 

Have you visited any of these places? Or have you got another country to recommend for people to visit in 2017?

Travel to: Croatia

Croatia is a beautiful little country on the Adriatic Sea, which to me seems like a less touristy version of Greece. Unfortunately, I have not yet visited either country, and will rectify that soon I promise, but from what I have heard it is an amazing place to visit and should already be on your Euro-wishlist. 

Travel to: Croatia 1

The Republic of Croatia declared independence in 1991, making it only a year older than me, though it has a long and complicated history, which is a story for another time (probably best told by someone who actually knows what they're talking about!). You may already recognise one of its cities, Dubrovnik, AKA Kings Landing from Game of Thrones! 

Why travel to Croatia?

Ancient, walled cities overlooking the stunning Adriatic Sea, National Parks with incredible lakes, stunning diving spots and charming villages make Croatia a desirable spot for tourists and travellers alike. I know it's very popular with people my age to do a Sail Croatia, which I think my best friend is doing next year so I'll have to steal some of her photos from it, thanks Sara! 

The Wandering Quinn gives some insight about Zadar, Split, Sibenik and the Plitvice Lakes National Park

If you're looking for some inspiration for some beautiful spots in Croatia, The Wandering Quinn has you covered. I've heard really great things about Split and Ellie's photos really prove that it's a spot worth visiting. Zadar and Sibenik are such quaint little seaside towns and in the below shot of Sibenik it kind of reminds me of Cinque Terre with it's bright colours contrasting with the ocean. And of course, the stunning Plitvice Lakes in the middle of the lush forest are a must-see for anyone visiting Croatia. 

One great way to take in the view of the walled city is to hike up Mount Srð...I have no clue how you'd pronounce it! The walk takes less than an hour, 45 minutes according to Marina, and it really looks like it's worth the hike! There is also a museum up the top, the "Imperial Fort", which will give you some history about Dubrovnik. 

The Free Passport's photo gallery

If you prefer to take inspiration from simply scrolling through photos like me, you should just take a look Trisa's gallery of photos of Dubrovnik, they're all absolutely stunning and really give me FOMO! 

Put the World To Writes shares some helpful tips for Game of Thrones fans

Now, if you're a huge GoT fan and you want to see what Dubrovnik has to offer, you should definitely check out Emily's blog post, The 7 Things Every Game of Thrones Fan Must Do In Dubrovnik! It's commonly known that numerous Kings Landing scenes were filmed here and this post tells you all about those, and more; apparently you can also see where they filmed some scenes from Qarth and the House of the Undying. 

So there you have it, 4 amazing travellers sharing their tips and advice for visiting Croatia, hopefully I'll add myself to the list soon!

If you want to do a tour that includes Croatia in its itinerary there are some great deals on Tourradar for Europe at the moment, could definitely be a good option if you're not sure about doing it on your own just yet. 

Would you travel to Croatia, or have you already been? Let me know in the comments below!