Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Readers of the world

Something came to my attention over the last few weeks which I find intriguing and that is my growing audience in India and Pakistan.
The blogger statistics show how many read my posts each week and what country they are logging on from. Each week I am surprised by the large worldwide audience who tune into to read my installments from beautiful exotic locations.
Here are my top ten followers:

1. USA
My largest audience comes from America, which is understandable, I have a lot of friends and family over there and I interact with a lot of people from the USA on a frequent basis. The land of the brave and the free gave me so many memories during my road trip a few years ago and I have ear marked to return there very soon.

2. Ireland
My own Irish come in close second, being my home place and the location I most write about, this comes as no surprise. I love Ireland, despite our desperate economic situation, and our wet composition it is still the most beautiful country in the world when the sun shines.

3. United Kingdom
The UK get the bronze medal, born in London I have strong affiliation with England, love to visit and write about it and have a lot of connections over the sea.

4. Canada
The Canadians seem to “get me” and come in fourth on my highest ratings. The Canadians are so much fun and are great travel companions. They always seem to have an open mind.

5. India
India in fifth place of my audience ratings – this one interests me. I know very little about India, I have yet to visit the country, but would love to do so. I would love to know what my Indian audience think of my blog – so any fans please do let me know. 

6. Germany
My European friends the Germans are high on the list, I know the Germans love to travel and you can always to be sure to hit on a few of them abroad, so it is great to see them here. They also love to party!

7. Australia
I spent nearly a year in Australia, I loved my time there and the people are among the best on the planet. Melbourne will stay with me forever and my adventures in a camper van all over the great continent makes me smile and feels warm (thinking of the sunshine helps!).

8. France
By now you all know I have a huge respect for the French, my favourite city in the world is Paris. I am humbled by their support. Viva La France!

9. Pakistan
Again I have never been to Pakistan, I do not have any close friends who live there, so this large following delights me. I hope they enjoy my blog and I invite them to participate with me by way of comment or discussion.

10. The Netherlands
Coming in number ten on my top blog readers are the lovely people of Holland/ The Netherlands. It is a country which does not get the credit it deserves internationally, interesting places full of fun and exciting people.

Thanks for the support guys, it is great having you all aboard!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Travel Regrets

Have you ever experienced a truly terrible holiday, had a wasted trip or just been the victim of bad luck at a new destination?

An unexpected injury or sickness, a badly suited companion, the impact of a quick decision or some really bad karma can ruin your holiday or trip leaving you returning home full of regrets.
Or was it the destination? Was the location of your stay, your accommodation the straw that broke the camel's back?

I have experienced all of the above, (thankfully not together) and they can really inflict on what should be blissful memories, but they have never made me regret my trips.
Some of them even provided me an opportunity to do or see something different, when I took a hell of a reaction to sandflies (yes they exist) in Thailand I found myself exploring the inside of San Paulo Hospital, Hua Hin, which was an eye opening experience. Again that same reaction led me and my boyfriend to stay in the lap of luxury on Viti Levu, Fiji as a treat of enduring my pain for two weeks during and island hopping trip.
Find yourself unable to get accommodation? – Stay the night in the airport, sleep in a car – the less money you have the more inventive you need to be!
If you don't like your travelling partner – take a day off go exploring by yourself and you will find a world of exciting things and you may also make new friends.
Hate the destination ... well that is a tough one – catch up on some reading possibly?!

My travel regrets are made up of places of things I just didn't get around to:
  • We didn't have time for a three day visit to Fraser island on Australia's East Coast
  • Ruled out Chang Mai because it was a long distance to travel
  • Dismissed Milford Sound in New Zealand as a nice Day Trip
  • Cut Washington DC out of our USA tournament

When you meet someone and talk about a specific country or area you have visited and you hear about a place (which is obviously the BEST thing to do according to everyone) but you didn't visit – do you feel regret?
You shouldn't of course you should just note it in your mind to go back, and this I have done – but Fraser Island and Milford Sound ... that is not going to be my next weekend away is it?!
A friend told me a regret is something you wanted to do but were afraid, or rushed into too quickly.
Like not travelling solo, wishing to stay somewhere for longer but not doing it, not travelling full stop.
You can't help that you get sick, your friend is an ass or you lost all your money – that is all part of the travel experience but you can regret foolishness and letting yourself be bounded by fear.Now that I think of it, I do regret not seeing that ping pong show in Bangkok ....!

Ping pong show ...

Do you have any travel regrets?

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Go it alone!

So you have decided to travel solo this year, whether it is a weekend away, a holiday, a GAP year or career move the most essential thing you need to bring with you is confidence.

Going along can be daunting, but it will be an experience well worth it. A trawl through the Internet will give you lots of handy tips and advice for travelling solo, here I will part with some of my own gems which I have gained through my unique adventures for one.
Also if you are undecided about where to go, below is a list of my favourite solitude treasure locations.

  • First of all be confident and sure about your decision to go travelling solo and the destinations you have chosen, if you are just doing it to strike it off some mental list then step away and look a little deeper.
  • Organisation is key, make sure you have your trip itinerary well worked out in advance, make sure some family or friends know where you will be and keep them updated on any changes.
  • Making Friends in Dresden (c) fifiheavey
    Finance – travelling is never cheap. Always try to budget more than you expect to spend, you don't want to be caught out short. My tip would be to always carry a little of the local currency in cash. Split cash and bank cards and credit cards between different bags, pockets – so you are never left without if the unfortunate happens.
  • Flash jewelery and accessories are not an essential part of travelling, try not to draw attention to yourself.
  • Blend in – this is always easier said than done. But head in a guide book gives the game away, so too does snapping away at everything with your camera, but you will need to do both to find your way and to document your stay. Try to research your area and get direction in private and the smaller the camera the better, try not to keep it on show also. Also for most destinations a suitcase is better than a backpack.
  • Dress appropriate – I have seen this tip exclusive for women on other sites but it applies to males too, take a glimpse at locals and everyone else around you and find something in between.
  • Try not flash your cash, but always a carry a little local currency (c) fifiheavey
    Many people find it difficult to eat alone, but you will get used to it, bring reading material along, a local newspaper will help you blend in, sit outside or at the bar – confidence is important here!
  • Keep a journal – for no other reason but to document your journey. I kept a load of info in mine and it used to refresh my memory when needed – like what was the name of that nice man in the shop etc.
  • For the ladies: if you feel a little uncomfortable in a strange country wear a ring on your wedding finger.
  • Start inventing stories, about your boyfriend, friend, family etc you need to have excuses ready.
  • Learn the basics of the local language.
  • Make friends
  • Upload photos from your camera regularly so if you lose or break it your whole trip is not wiped.
  • Leave your ignorance and innocence at home, come prepared mentally to see and be involved in things you wouldn't usually be, don't' try and inflict your culture on others.
  • Relax and enjoy!

If you are looking for a great solo travel destination, I would urge you to check out some of these:

Rome, Italy – you will never feel alone here, among the throngs of tourists discover this ancient city and all it's treasures.
Solo feels so good! Rome, Italy (c) fifiheavey
Paris, France – Known as the most romantic destination in the world, it is also a haven for solo travellers, cut through the mush and experience the city of lights.

Berlin, Germany – This city surprised and intrigued me every day of my visit, day exploration and a night life to beat no other.

New York, USA – It is impossible to be spotted as a solo traveller in this fast paced city, see everything and do it all on your time!

Melbourne, Australia – Unforgettable. Culture vultures will love this place which has drama and art on every corner.

Queenstown, New Zealand – Looking for adventure and want to make friends? This is your destination!

Go Your Own Way: Women Travel the World Solo

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Spending time alone

Yeah, I have a day off work, I might go to the beach (weather permitting) or go to a museum or tick off one of the many touristy things I have on my list.
“What ... on your own ... isn't that a little bit ... sad?” a friend grimaces.
This year it seems my traveling buddy will not be holidaying, neither will my boyfriend for the same reason. But I still want to go somewhere, so I will.
But first I will need to deal with all the pitying looks, the “oh ... by yourself” whispers and “can't you get anyone to go with you?” questions.
Solo travel in Berlin (c) fifiheavey

Aaaaaggggggggghhhhhh. What is so wrong with being by yourself? When did spending time by yourself come so anti social? It really annoys me that we have to be with people all the time, always connected either updating twitter or facebook accounts to be acceptable.
Because a night in by yourself is “sad” sitting by yourself makes you a “loner” and taking a day or weekend trip makes you “weird.”

I LOVE spending time by my self, traveling solo around Europe for almost three months in 2008 was the best thing I have ever done. I never felt so alive, so liberated, so happy.
Taking time out to think in Fiji ©fifiheavey
Don't get me wrong spending time with the people you love is special, memorable and fun but so is doing it by yourself.

I am an only child, so maybe it comes easy to me, but I really enjoy my own company – I am a hoot! I enjoy deciding how to spend my time and budget, when to eat, where to eat, what to eat, what time to wake up, go to bed etc without having to constantly run it pass someone else. Making sure your travel partner is happy with the plans, trying to balance out each other's ideas can be exhausting.

But aside from all that you become more in tune with your own thoughts. I am not a hippy dippy, but with all this technology bombarding us with messages and opinions it can be difficult to actually have a fully formed individual point of view.
To really know what you want, you have to get to know yourself, like you would a new boyfriend or friend, you need to spend time with yourself alone.

Lake St Clair, Tasmania, Australia ©fifiheavey

There is nothing lonely about solitude.