And a new trip is booked..

Poppy Fields Launceston - Tracey Croke

So my NZ trip was cancelled due to a severe lack of funds but hey, never let it be said I don’t try to get away from Sydney at least once a year. Today I booked a trip to Tasmania. I’ll be heading down there with a friend for four nights in November! Woo!

2 nights in Launceston and 2 nights in Hobart. Sadly, it is incredibly expensive for 2 under 25s to hire a car so we will be staying in the city. But I don’t think that will affect the trip at all. There looks to be a lot to do!

I’ve never been to Tasmania. In fact, for all my travelling around the world, I’ve only been the to 5 Australian big cities, which equates to 3 states and one territory. For a place the size of the U.S. I may be neglecting Australia just a bit.

Does anyone have any tips for things to do in Launceston and Hobart?

Xo Casey

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Whoops?

So.. hi guys. It’s been two months but that doesn’t mean I love you any less, it just means I’ve graduated! Woo! I finished my university degree last week and am immediately less stressed. Ah the relief!

Since the last time I wrote for you all a lot has happened. Firstly, my New Zealand trip was cancelled. Really sad but it was just not achievable; hopefully I will get there next year. In the place of that I am hopefully going to Tasmania for a few days.

Secondly, I started a communications internship with UNICEF! It is super exciting and I am learning a lot. I think that is all that needs to be said about that.

Lastly, I have taken no new pictures. I know, how can I blog without blog pictures? Well, hopefully I will be fixing this in the next few weeks. With my new free time I am intending to take some amazing photos for you all of my native Sydney.

Cya on Monday for a brand new start.

Xoxo Casey

Planning My Trip

As previously mentioned, I am spending six weeks in New Zealand this year. I have five and a half months until I leave, and one month of traveling to plan.

I think planning your travel is a very important step. Especially if you want to save money. Often, transport like buses or trains will be a lot cheaper the earlier you book. Right now I could book a $1 bus from auckland to wellington, in 2 months it will probably be at $20 and then the week before it will be over $50.

I’ve been looking at a lot of youtube videos to see if there are any places that pop out, any activities or places off the usual tourist track. I’ve realised one month is going to give me the bare basics of New Zealand. New Zealand could entertain and amaze a person for their whole lives. Basically, I’m spoilt for choice.

I think I will be focusing on the South Island.I spent a lot of time as a kid wandering the North Island visiting various relatives and seeing various places. I will of course be seeing my relatives but I think places like Milford Sound, Queenstown and Dunedin are calling.

I’ve been looking at sites such as gadventures, contiki, and kiwiexperience. I think I might go with Kiwi Experience for their Bottoms Up tour. Part of this is that I’m not paying for foods I cant eat, or experiences I don’t want to take part in (or can’t i.e. beer tour). Anyone used these touring companies in NZ?

Anyone got tips for backpacking New Zealand?

Xoxo Casey

A New Way Of Eating

So for the first time in about a month a lifestyle post is being written! This post is being prompted by probably the biggest lifestyle change I have ever faced.

I’ve been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease.

When I say that to people I generally get, “That means you can’t eat bread right?” Well, no. It means I can’t eat anything with wheat (so yes no bread) and I can not eat anything with certain additives, starch, flour, malt, and thickeners. Ladies and Gentlemen, my main source of carbs has been thrown out the window never to be seen again. Seriously, I will never see them again, my body attacks itself when it senses gluten has been eaten.

So, my main battle now is figuring out how to eat healthy and how to travel while eating gluten free. I suspect I’m going to be eating a lot of fruit and cooking at a lot of hostels. Remember, I have my six weeks in NZ at the end of the year.

Anyone got tips for travelling while Gluten Free?

HOW TO: Travel Europe Cheap

Airport Moment

There are a few tricks to traveling. I think one of the most important tricks is using your money wisely and traveling smart.

Last summer I spent two and a half months traveling through Europe, slowly bleeding money and counting pennies because of it! I think I learnt a lot; so today, I’m going to give you five easy tips to remember when on your dream Europe adventure.

1) Travel by bus or train (or book your planes veryyyyyy early)

Flight prices will rise and rise and rise in Europe, so if you want to travel with an adequate bag and not stress, use the trains and buses. Europe has one of the best on-ground transport systems on any continent. Personally I used trains and buses interchangeably.

Europe has this thing called Eurolines which I LOVED. You can take 2 suitcases under the bus, plus carry on. You have great views of the countryside and get to see random little villages. Plus, they’re generally cheaper if you are looking for last minute tickets.

Of course, I have to mention EuRail. Europe has a great system of trains that can take you basically anywhere you want to go. I didn’t do this but you can get tickets that will allow you to travel 5 to 8 days out of a 2 month period. These will generally cost around $450 but are quite cost effective and convenient if it fits your holiday plans.

2) Check multiple sources (for tickets)

One memorable moment was when I figured out going from the German to the Italian website for a bus company would save me 15 euros. If you’re backpacking that’s like a whole extra night somewhere. Don’t take the first price you find, compare websites for the cheapest trip, or look for the same route and time at multiple places.

Also, as I explained in my last blog, use sites such as STA and Monomondo to find cheap flights. They will compare all the airlines for you!

But, just make sure it looks legit, you don’t want to be stranded at a random bus stop in the middle of nowhere!

3) Always use relevant discounts!

I am a student and a youth (under 26), so a lot of places and transport will have slightly cheaper tickets. Using relevant concessions can save a lot! i.e. the time I got a first class train to Venice for the cost of slightly cheaper than a normal adult in 2nd class. It was worth it.

So moving on from the transport tips,

4) Stay at Hostels (or Courchsurf!)

I recommend staying in hostels when possible. They are less expensive, friendly, and often provide great cheap or free breakfast. You can find hostels at sites such as HostelWorld or Hostel Bookers. What is great about these sites is that you can look at reviews and they have percentage ratings. Personally I won’t stay in a hostel under 80%.

But, there are some people who shouldn’t stay in hostels. When in Paris last July, I found my hostel and checked in. I stepped into my room and was greeted by 5 panicked Australian girls frantically packing their bags and talking to their parents on long distance phone calls. I recommend staying in hostels but please know what you’re paying for. These girls were expecting luxury and what they got was bunkbeds, a pub at the bottom and a slightly crazy hotel feel. To me it was actually one of the nicer hostels I had stayed in, to them it was horrible and not their ‘dream’ Parisian experience.

Also, Couchsurfing is a great experience if you are up for it! Basically, people offer up their couch, floor space or sometimes, a bed, where you can sleep and wake up to the local experience. You make an account just like your facebook (but less personal!) and send messages to people you want to stay with. They decide based on your profile and previous reviews. It is a great experience if you want to know the ins and outs of a city and don’t mind sleeping on someones floor. I couchsurfed in Montreal, Canada and had some amazing chats with my host in their tiny but amazing apartment.

Ok, so after all of that I give you

5) Don’t eat where the tourists eat.

Seriously guys, C’monnnnn. Don’t do it. You know you are going to pay double or triple the cost and in places such as Italy they will charge you a huge cost simply for sitting in the restaurant, and yes that is on top of the 20 Euro pasta. Go find some random cafe with lots of yelling and laughing Italians. Drink, be merry and spend way less than the tourists being tricked into poor quality and poor service in the main square.

Even better, grab breakfast, lunch and/or dinner from the supermarket! A lot cheaper and you can control how much and how healthy you want to eat.

Alright, so that is my five tips to traveling Europe cheap! There are, of course, a lot more but these are the common sense ones that are not so obvious to newbies. Let me know your tricks to traveling cheap in the comments below.

Xo Casey

HOW TO: Find Cheap Flights

After 6 months on exchange and well, really, the rest of my uni career looking for cheap city escapes I think I have some ideas on how to find a cheap flight. I’ve got 3 quick, easy tips for you.

Firstly, always look at flexible dates.  Click the ‘flex-month’, ‘3 week view’ or ‘flexible dates’ button that your search engine will have. The more flexible you are, the more likely that cheap flight will work for you.

momondo

Secondly, always check multiple sights. I always check costs on KAYAK, STA Travel, Momondo and a few others. The more you search the higher chance you will find that perfect deal.

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Finally, a great tool to use is KAYAK. If you click on more in their top menu, you go to a page where ‘Price Alerts’ is an option. Click that. Putting in your preferred flights and costs is simple and quick, then KAYAK will email you either daily or weekly with the fares which fit your criteria. All the searching with no hard work!

PRICE ALERTS

And that is that! 2 Quick, Easy tips to finding the cheapest flights. Leave any questions below and I’ll be sure to answer them!

Xo Casey

Music and Places

Over the years I’ve travelled a fair bit. My experiences differ; from driving through the U.S. mid-west with my parents, to sleeping on a bus while backpacking across Europe. What has remained the same is the fact that those experiences seem to have music inseparably connected to them. Is this just me or do others have the same thing happen?

I’ve got three examples for you.

Fall Out Boy – Folie A Deux 

This album was released just before my 10th grade art and history tour to Europe. I listened to this album on repeat, again and again as we drove through the mountains in Greece. In fact, I was listening to this as we approached Delphi. I see green and slate, ruins and buses, friends and teachers; it never fails to make me smile.

Kesha – Warrior

While on exchange in New Jersey I listened to a lot of music that I honestly hadn’t been that interested in before; this album was part of that. Getting the bus into New York was a 30 to 40 minute drive through increasingly metal filled environments but, there was one magical moment before you hit the city tunnels. The Lincoln Tunnel Helix gives you a moment of the best view of New York I have ever seen. It is the perfect skyline, during the day and at night. This album just makes me think of that perfect view and that amazing city. I think I left my heart in New York.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist

Oddly enough this album reminds me of Belgium and France. I messed up on my way to Belgium, I missed my flight in Milan. After minutes of pure panic, I went to the bus stop. 70 euros later I had booked a 24 hour bus from Italy to Belgium. This was going to be one of the most memorable trips of my life. We would drive through the alps, through rural France, only to awaken for a 15 minute break in Paris. Then there was another 6 hour trip. We left Paris as the sun was rising. The sky was stained red, with shoots of orange reaching out into the night sky. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen and this was my soundtrack.

What about you, do you have a song or an album you will always associate with a place? Let me know in the comments!

Xo Casey

I booked a trip!

I took a leap today. Looking at KAYAK, I noticed that a fare to Auckland return was $390. As most fares are around $550 I took that leap. I booked it.

I will be going to New Zealand for a month and a half at the end of the year. The excitement levels are skyrocketing tonight. So much to plan! So much to do! Hopefully I can do some work experience in Auckland.

The possibility in travel is an exciting feeling. That almost bubbling feeling of contentment and choice is better than the finest wines. Using the internet to research the country and where you can go creates a joy that will not go away.

A lot of my family is from New Zealand, as my mum is a citizen and grew up there. It will exciting to not only see family but explore by myself the place mum is from.

Xo Casey

New Zealand - Maori rowing - 8455

Stress and Relaxation

Ok I’ll admit it. Life got me in the bee-hind. I was officially super stressed out for most of february. Not even in a terribly busy way. I was just stressed about what I had to do. Specifically, get an internship. and if I could get it on time for the new uni semester. This stress had me near pulling my hair out and doing pointless things instead of the things I really enjoy.

Well I got an internship and suddenly life seems easier. I suppose there is a lesson in that. Don’t let stress stop you doing what you love. All of this is a really long tale as to why I’ve been missing the last month. Now, let’s go over strategies. All the stress has been useful for one thing, I’ve developed a few anti-stress strategies this month. Really most of them are common sense, but hey, why argue with what works?

  1. Listen to a calming playlist. Spotify is great for finding the perfect mix for de-stressing.
  2. Make a cup of tea (or coffee). The familiar movements can make your brain take a step back.
  3. Take a bath, with lots of candles around and bubbles. C’mon who honestly doesn’t like a bubble bath?
  4. Make your favourite meal. Maybe a bit sparingly, it’s just not healthy to eat spag-bol for a whole month.
  5. Run! Ok even those who hate running, something about hitting a treadmill just is relaxing. I think it’s the rhythm, it just zones the brain. (Never a pavement for me, I hate hills and cement). But hey, if you’re having trouble zoning in, try ‘Zombies, Run!’
  6. Have the girls (or boys) round and hit the wine. I’m in my early twenties, sometimes this is the best solution to just chill out and turn the brain off.

So there are my strategies. Anyone else got some to recommend? Soon to be entering the real world me really does need them.

Xoxo

Casey

Also why is my spotify link not working? Grrrr wordpress! More stress!

Anyone feel like life throws punches at you?

and then whoever dodges best ends up succeeding in life. Just a thought. I mean the whole world is a circus so it would only make sense.

Anyway, my life at the moment is incredibly boring but busy. I’m trying to get a PR internship (if anyone needs an intern let me know!), do pilates every day, get my license to teach swimming and volunteer as much as possible. This means my days are filled with blue shirts, applications, pools and yoga mats. It can be interesting and invigorating having things booked every day. But having health problems at the same time just makes things overly difficult.

Volunteering at Sydney FestivalI’m really looking forward to teaching swimming. Seeing kids improve with every day is amazing; their smiles and excitement as they realise they swam a lap or learnt doggy paddle for the first time are incredible and leave every day feeling positive.

That is what’s happening in my life, how about you? Got a new pet? How about a new pair of shoes?

Xo Casey