London

Hello there! It’s A again, this time I’m sharing with you a few of my experiences in London. Before I go any further, I think you should do know that the myth of London being gloomy, dark, miserable and raining all the time is a big, fat myth! I experienced London during the month of July, and well all I can say is it was fabulous!

The cheapest and most incredible experience I encountered in London was being surrounded by the wonderful sound of British accents. Be sure to have a conversation with some locals and learn about their culture (or pretend to be listening to what they are saying and enjoy the sound of their accents, just like I did!)

Confessions of a shopaholic: Shop, shop, shop till you drop!! One of the finest places for shopping in the heart of London is the mall ‘Harrods’. Harrods is the largest department store in Europe with the store covering an outstanding five acres of land! So if you love shopping, then this is the spot to be!

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Not only is London famous for having the largest mall in Europe but it is renowned for having the largest mall in Europe, but it is known for having the biggest ferris wheel in Europe! The Big Eye has a diameter of 120 metres and well, lets just say it is one of the most highly visited tourist destinations in the UK.

London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down…..Now I’m sure the majority of you reading this blog just read that to the rhythm of the nursery rhyme and if not well I’m sure you know the famous landmark. It is situated in the River Thames, so it is a perfect opportunity to take a river cat or cruise under the bridge to ensure the best opportunities for photos.

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After passing the famous London Bridge, you will sail further along the River Thames where you will see the iconic Tower Bridge. Once again, by taking water transport you will be able to take better photos where these viewings are big contributors to the full London experience.

Well, Well, Well Im sure many of you are thinking hmmm did this girl actually travel all the way to London and not visit the one and only Buckingham Palace? Well of course I did! I was even hoping to get a quick glance at the royals (that dream shattered into bits) but that’s okay, because I was lucky enough to watch the renowned Guard March!

Other places you may like to consider going to is the Big Ben & Parliament House or even the outstanding Westminster Abbey where the treasured royal couple Prince William and Catherine Middleton had there wedding ceremony.

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Tip: As the majority of these iconic landmarks of London are fairly close to each other I recommend you purchase a ticket for the ‘Hop-on-Hop-off’ bus. This form of transport is the cheapest way of getting around the city and they are quite convenient with a great number of bus stops located around the city. Yo can prepay for your ticket online or you may even choose to organise it through the hotel, but I do highly recommend it especially with informative tour guides on the buses and the freedom to pick and choose where you would like to go and how long you would like to stay at each place for. The buses come every 10 minutes! So there is no waiting and no time wasting either!

Happy travels, until my next post.

Love A xoxo

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Aloha from Hawaii!

Aloha to all my fellow travelers. I am a new blogger checking in today- please call me N. I would love to  take you all aboard the flight to Hawaii. As summer is fast approaching here in Australia, over in Hawaii it is summer and party season all year round. If your the kind of person who loves to party and enjoy the sunshine than keep on reading this blog because Hawaii is the place to be !

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The main reasowhy i love Hawaii so much is because it is a one stop shop. It has everything i love – shopping, sun, sand, beaches and great sight seeing adventures. When i visited Hawaii  i stayed on the Big island also known as the main island. I must advise you on the best places to go when in Hawaii must, these include:

– The Ala Moana shopping mall: there are over 1000 stores and i was still unable to visit them all. Might i add that i went there three consecutive days, because the place is so big. Even for a shopper holic like myself i was still unable to visit each store. The shopping mall and the factory outlets- Waikele Outlets in Hawaii are so great what makes them even better is that they are so reasonably price unlike many places here in Australia. 

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– The Wolfgang’s steak house was AMAZING if you love your meats be sure to visit. The meats are so tender; everything in Hawaii is served in such large proportions (even the ice-cream at Baskin and Robin are huge!). Ordering a salad in Hawaii; you don’t receive a normal proportion sizes are huge no matter what you order.

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– The cheesecake factory: great if you have a sweet tooth as they have over 30 different kinds of cheesecakes for you to try; though might i add make sure you book early if you ever do want to dine there as they have a huge waiting line 24/7 er one let me just tell you it could feed 5 people.

– I recommend you take a tour bus around the island; my family and i were able to see the whole island in 9 HOURS with pit stops. We visited the Buddha temple which is remarkable coming from a Catholic community and visiting the sacred temples of other religions was really beautiful.

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-Seeing the remarkable beaches where the waves reach over 9 meters high during there peak season (which is usually Jan-Mar), your able to try your surfing skills out

– Getting off the bus to visit the pineapple farms was one of my favorite pit stops; still till today i have the sweet taste in my mouth. May i just say they taste nothing like the pineapples here in Australia. Pineapple ice-cream, lollies, fried pineapple- anything pineapple they had.

– Going to one of the Gridiron games was phenomenal!! I never knew the games went for over 5 hours- reason being unlike NRL footy games here in Australia they don’t stop every time someone is tackled although in America every time someone is put to the ground they reset the game; this process takes up most of the time though as shown in the picture below it is an amazing view; felt as though i was going to fall off a cliff because the seats are so high up.

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– MUST DO snorkeling so beautiful being up close and touching the sea turtles and fish in the Hawaiian oceans was breath taking. Also, if you love the water make sure you do some great water sports as they offer great activities such as stand surfing. You could be out in the ocean as far as 10meters though there are still shallow patches and people still manage to find there way back to shore.

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Over all may i just stay make sure you take a visit to Hawaii you will be amazed by how much they have to offer. Their generosity is beautiful and the view in general is something which will take your breath away.

Until next time Mahalo
N xx

Hong Kong!

Hello! R again, with another exciting travelling destination – Hong Kong!

Man that is one heck of a place – its so fast paced and busy and smoggy and amazingly fun! To be fair I was only there for like two days when I was 14 as a stop over, so everything looked and felt big and intimidating to me then, but whadayagonnado?
Alright – let’s begin shall we?
People: Ridonkulously friendly when you’re not in the airport. When you are in the airport, it’s like some mass contamination is threatening the nation and you are personally resonsible for it. Also, there are no chairs in the airport. So when I was on a 6 hour stop over with mono (long story) and I was waiting to find out which gate was going to be my gate (they only assign it two hours before the flights) I had to sleep on the floor with the creepy Hong Kong military people walking around who are probably very nice but should smile more often. Particularly to jet-lagged glandular-fever suffering Australians. TANGENT OVER (can you guys tell I am particularly hyper today?)
Things to do: Shopping. There are seriously places everywhere that you can go shopping – and you can get technological things for SO FREAKING CHEAP. I legit bought an iPod there (back when the nanos were cool – remember those?) for like 100 bucks. Maybe a bit more, but you get the idea. From huge centres, to streets lined with super amazing stores (perfume for $5 OMG), to their markets, it’s a shopaholics haven! I mean, yeah you’re probably sitting at home thinking “I could get all that stuff from Hong Kong on ebay, why do I need to go?” I’ll tell you why – it’s the vibe of the thing (ten points if you guess where I’m quoting from). The whole place is buzzing and alive with people and places and things and stuff and smells (although those aren’t necessarily so amazing, to be honest).
Things to do but not expect too much from, even if you are 12: Disneyland Hong Kong. It’s shit. Excuse the language. But really, there are no rides – the most ‘actiony’ ride is one down a river where you go to Tarzan’s tree and you see the gorilla and the elephants spray you. Apparently Hong Kong doesnt like excess excitement. I dunno, but even at 14, and my sister at 12, we did not really have such a great time which was sad because it was Disneyland ya know? The taxi driver who took us there was hillarious though – he drove like we were in a roller coaster and stopped off because he needed the bathroom. Still though, if you have a day and money to throw away because you’ve already bought all the iPads you can optimistically fit in your suitcase then sure, go to Disneyland, just don’t expect it to be American Disney, because it’s not.
Ultimately though, enjoy the people, the vibe, the food, the shopping – it’s all so similar to the West and yet so fundamentally different that it’s a vibrant colourful city that you can spend days walking around. Or you can spend those days getting $5 manicures. To each their own!
x R 🙂

Paris, France!

Bonjour, it’s A here and I just wanted to share with you a little bit about Paris. It’s no secret why every girl wants to visit the remarkable city. I mean the promise of it being the city of love is a god enough reason right? Well if that doesn’t satisfy then surely the shopping, landmarks oh and lets not forget the amazing pastries and bread that are baked fresh daily at the local boulangerie.

It’s a good thing that a lot of the city can be seen in short walking distances or on a bike because you will appreciate the exercise after eating all the tempting macaroons, pastries and breads. One of my favourite places for a quick sugar fix was the Laduree. The mouthwatering sweet options were endless and you simply cannot leave Paris without having visited there.

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Apart from indulging in sweet treats, of course there are other spectacular things to do in Paris like shopping in the Champs Elysee. As you stroll along the stretch of paving that leads right up to the Arc De Triumphe, you may wish to zig zag from shop to shop, swiping that credit card or perhaps causing less damage and window shopping instead. But when you get to the very top of the street, there stands the large arch- one of Paris’ well known monuments which was built by Napoleon as a symbol of his victory in battle in 1805.

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Also, apart from shopping in the Champs Elysee you may wish to visit the very famous first  apartment and boutique of Mademoiselle Chanel at 31 Rue Cambon. The store comprises of four levels, but unless you are V.I.P I’m afraid you won’t make it past the first level, I thought I would try my luck anyway… but as I thought no chance. It’s alright a glance at the famous staircase sufficed I suppose.

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Well if shopping isnt youre thing don’t fret- there are other things to do! Like visiting the iconic Eiffel Tower, Versailles, Notre Dame and the Louvre.

If you are anything like me and are too lazy to take the stairs up the Eiffel Tower, then you can just take the lift up and enjoy the breathtaking view of the City from above. I also recommend that you visit the Eiffel Tower in the evening. With the thousands of fairy lights it is nothing short of impressive.

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Ahh, the Notre Dame! It was incredibly amazing! I just could not believe that this kind of engineering and architecture existed so may years back, I mean can you? The detail on the outside is equally as impressive as the inside. And I’m not the only one to find this fascinating either, because in order to enter the gothic cathedral you will be lining up for approximately 15 mins! Well I was anyway, though it wasnt so bad cause I had the opportunity to take pictures while I waited, and when I got inside it was all worth it.

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For my visit to Verailles and the Louvre I decided to take part of a tour because I thought it would probably be really easy to get lost in these places, and in hind sight I was right! SoI strongly recommend you do the same. What particularly impressed me at the Palace of Versailles was the acres of perfectly landscaped garden, surrounding the building that King Louis XIV and the royal family lived in before the French Revolution.

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The time we had in the Louvre was very limited, so we were restricted to a number of artworks we could see that day. But even if we had more time, it would be impossible to get through the whole art gallery in a single day, in fact it is said to take up to 100 days to view them all and that would be in a brief glance! My favourite part of the Louvre like many others was the end of the tour where we viewed the Mona Lisa. Im not sure if I actually liked the painting itself or if it was just the hype of viewing ‘The Mona Lisa’.

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Well, I’ve been to the beautiful city twice already and I can assure you I cannot wait until my next visit. But until then au revoir Paris and safe travels my friends!

A xx

New York City, USA!

New York

E chiming in. Hi fellow travelers! Nice to meet you. In this post I’m going to tell you a little bit about New York City or NYC, the Big Apple, the City that Never Sleeps, whatever you want to call it. I know with certainty that you would have heard of this place – it is the go-to location for movies and TV shows, think Sex and the City or Gossip Girl. These shows glamorize NYC like there’s no tomorrow, but the thing is, it really is as great as they make it out to be. I first visited NYC in September of 2010 and again in February of this year (2013). I absolutely loved it – I will leave some fun facts and tips for you.

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The People: Rude, obnoxious, fast-paced – these are the words most people think of when they think of New Yorkers. When I was there I found the complete opposite. This was except for the fast-paced part, they sure were in a hurry! However, I found New Yorkers to be friendly, interesting and extremely happy to help. There were numerous times when I had my nose in a map looking like a stereotypical tourist and not once did someone not offer to help me. All shop-keepers were enthusiastic and seemed to be running on some sort of happy pill at all times. Everyone called me ma’am and had wonderful manners. So don’t worry about being lost in the middle of Manhattan with no one to help you!

Safety: New York City is sometimes considered as the epicentre of crime in the U.S. Due to the high crime rate in the past the government focused on bringing crime down and these days it is much more safe. For tourists (you!) it is best to stay in Manhattan rather than venture off to the other boroughs such as Brooklyn, Queens etc. On my first visit I ventured north to Harlem (very north of Manhattan) and found it to be very intimidating. There are no taxis that go from Harlem back to lower-Manhattan so the only choice to get home is the subway. I must say catching the subway in the dark with only my mother was not the most safe thing I could have done…. So mostly, just stick to the main streets of Manhattan and don’t go out by yourself at night and you’ll be fine.

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To do: I stayed in NYC for 7 days each time I went there, and with the amount of things to do I think I could’ve spent a year there! Some things I highly recommend is going ice-skating at Rockafella centre (only in winter of course), riding on a horse and cart through Central Park, going up to the Empire State Building, the American Museum of Natural History, going to see a play on Broadway (I saw Wicked, amazing!!!) and seeing a comedy show at Comedy Central. I would also say plan a solid two days of your stay for shopping. Oh the shopping!

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Love, E X

South Africa – Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth!

Addo Elephant park- South Africa

 

 

Hello! R here. Like many Australians, I was not in fact born in the sun burnt country down under. Rather, I was born in the culturally vibrant country of South Africa- in the city of Johannesburg (Jo-burg) to be precise. I moved across with my family to Sydney, Australia when I was 6 years old. Since moving, my family has been back twice – the first time was about 6 years ago, when I was 14/15; and the second was back in April this year (2013).

It’s impossible to describe a country and everything it offers in one blog post, so I’m keeping it simple and focussing on the two cities that mean the most to me:
– Johanessburg
– Port Elizabeth

Safety First: I do not want to put you off with this next tid bit, but it has to be said: be very vigilant with both your personal safety and that of your belongings, both in the car, place your staying and out – lock what can be locked, keep your valuables at home and do not to walk around at night (unless in safe areas for short distances). There are high levels of crime in South Africa, but that should not put you off from visting the amazing place that it is and everything that it offers. It pays to be vigilant, but it shouldn’t destroy your trip. That said, on with the fun stuff!

Transportation:

There is no such thing as public transport in South Africa. That is to say – there are not city buses, and the Taxis mottos are “squeeze as many people into this 12 seater as possible and drive faster than the speed of light ignoring every single road rule possible” and therefore not a very safe or reliable option.

There is the Gaut Train in Jo-Burg, it is my recommendation to simply hire a car. The roads are incredible, and it is quite easy to get from one place to another. As with any major city, avoid high traffic times, but really the rest of the time it is not a problem.

To get from city to city, you can drive easily (the speed limits are more like speed suggestions, just be careful you dont get caught!), or you can fly.

Johanesburg:

International flights land in Jo-Burg, so its a good place to start your trip to settle into the country, look around and get used to the South African way of life. Johanessburg is a big city – so big that the gap between it and the neuighbouring captial city of Pretoria is now a staggering 20 minute drive. They’re practically the same place now!

It is not necessarily the most beautiful city in the world – it has nice houses but they’re all hidden behind three story walls, but it offers a lot in terms of culture.

Weather:
It is interesting to note that the weather in Jo-burg is quite predictable – the seasons follow clear patterns!
Winter: It’s incredibly dry. Not a drop of rain. All the grass goes that beautiful golden-brown colour that we usually associate with the African plains. Temperature wise, it’s pleasant during the day and freezing at night.
Summer: Hot, hot, hot! But here’s the fun part. Every afternoon there is a storm, which will be there for about an hour around 4 o’clockish (give or take) and then it’ll disappear again. At this time of year, the surrounding countryside is beautifully lush and green!

To do:
Situated in the middle of the country, naturally Johannesburg is land locked – no beaches or seas. However what it lacks in beach side frolicking, it makes up for with its enormous shopping centres and malls. If there’s one thing South Africa does really well, it’s their shopping. Coming from Australia, where $1 buys you R10, you are guaranteed a could time! Head over to Sandton, or Eastgate try stores like Truworths or Foschini? Or the cheaper warehouse chain Meltz! There’s even the odd Aussie favourite Cotton On dotted around – its quite funny to see its prices in comparison to what we pay here! For department store shopping at bargain prices, head over to Woolworths – in Australia is a supermarket chain, in South Africa it’s clothes.

Must see: You have GOT to check out their hyper markets. These are literally Coles on steroids! They’re HUGE, and sell everything from food, to fresh baked goods from their in store bakeries, meats from their shop butchers, etc. They also sell pots, pans, utensils, crockery, appliances – including large appliances like fridges and ovens and stoves! But that’s not all! They sell homewares and bedding and linen and beds and cushions and quilts and medicines and clothes. Televisions, iPods, phones and phone contracts, radios, tools, in store florists, and thats only in the one half of the hyper market I managed to walk through!

Port Elizabeth:

About an hour’s flight from Johanessburg you land in this little terminal airport optimistacally named “Port Elizabeth International Airport”, probably named so for when the Soccor World Cup had some events there in 2010. Port Elizabeth is a small little suburban place that is too big to be a town, and a bit too small to be a city. But it’s lovely!

Weather:
The weather in PE is not as predictable as Jo-burg.Dubbed South Africa’s “Windy City”, the weather is cold during winter and warm in the summer, with high winds that caused our plane this April to rock A LOT during landing. As a nervous flyer I was petrified! But the pilots are more than qualified to land in these conditions so have no fear!

To do:

There’s a lot to do in PE. Crime levels aren’t as high as in Jo-burg, so you can go for walks with friends in the park, but be very vigilant.
There are numerous stadiums with shows and games being played, so why not see if you can get tickets?
Once again, shopping! The centres aren’t as big as those in Jo-burg but they offer amazing variety for even more amazing prices!!!

Must See:

The boardwalk – ach I love this place! If could have a destination wedding, this would be where I’d go! The boardwalk runs along with bay, with beautiful views. The Boardwalk offers a lot:

* The Sunday Markets – every sunday a long the boardwalk market stalls are opened, and here you can do all your personal and gift shopping for your trip momentos, for incredible prices! Everything from African wood art, to traditional style paintings, to bags and clothes, to jewellery and more!

* Little tip: Go up to any of the wood or painting vendors and ask them if they sell Zimbawean dollars – the currency of Zimbabwe up until it was dissolved (they now use $US). The numbers are extraodinary! Haggle them on a good price – I got two notes ($200 billion, and $1 trillion) for a grand total of $4! How crazy is that??

* The Casino – Across the road from the boardwalk, is The Boardwalk Casino, an open air shopping compex and Casiono. Even if you’re not interested in gambling, go and have a look – it’s breathtaking! There are little restaurants and vintage stores that can keep you occupied for hours!
* The Hotel – The Boardwalk Hotel – a newly built 6 star hotel connected to the Casino. Remember my imaginary destination wedding? This would be where I’d have it. It’s BEAUTIFUL! Walk in and have a look around. It is so elegant and sophisticated, and aboslutely – to use a South Africanism – “stunning”. If you have stayed there or plan on staying there, I would love to hear what it’s like upstairs!

Addo Elephant Park – about an hour out of PE, Addo Elephant park is a MUST see. For this you will need a car. In the park there are elephants, lions zebras, warthogs, buck and so much more! This is a day trip, and totally worth it!

Head to one of the watering hole around 11.30 to see all the elephant herds gathering to drink. If you get there and they aren’t there, wait a while. We waited half an hour and ate lunch thinking they’d gone already, and then suddenly 12 elephants appeared and started bathing and drinking. It was incredible!

Also – when buying a ticket, DO NOT MENTION IF YOU ARE FOREIGN. They ask if you are South African, just say yes. They’ll charge you triple if you say you arent – this is not urban legend, this is fact.

There are other game reserves in South Africa, such as Kruger National Park which is perhaps the most well known. There’s plenty you can do at them, besides for driving around which is really fun! You can also see if they have an lion cubs, which some parks keep in separate areas for them to grow and to ensure they are healthy. They might even let you go inside for a little play (for a fee of course)!

Of course, there’s lots to do in South Africa, more than I can fit! I hope this has done a little to pique your curiosity!! South Acrica truly is an extraordinary place!

Safe travels!

Rivka X

Hey there, Washington D.C.

Hey lovelies, it’s M here, posting about why you might want to plan a visit to D.C like I did.

D.C. is probably better known as the capital of the United States of America, if you’re a fan of political history, amazing architecture, cold weather and don’t forget the famous Georgetown cupcakes, then D.C. should be on the top of your travel lust list!

D.C was a favourite of mine, because I’m one of those weird people who actually really like the cold weather. Also having an interest of politics, D.C. was really interesting to explore – it’s home to many national monuments, the well-known Smithsonian museums, the Lincoln memorial which featured in that Simpsons episode, and of course the White House!

White House with yours truly.

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The Smithsonian museums are a must see if in D.C., there are a number of museums you can choose from like: African Art Museum, American Indian Museum, the Portrait Gallery, Air and Space Museum and the one I spent most of my time in was the Natural History Museum. The Natural History Museum has some amazing life-like animal replicas and an amazing butterfly room! I would recommend dedicating at least a few hours for optimum museum experience!

Giraffe in Natural History Museum

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Shells at Natural History Museum 

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Crystals at Natural History Museum

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Shot that I took of a butterfly in the butterfly room.

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I hope you all consider Washington as one of your priority jet-setting options! It also has a real multi-cultural sense like Sydney does so there are an amazing selection of restaurants and make sure you hit up Le Pain Quotidien for breakfast – it’s a really cool cafe chain worldwide but with one of it’s more famous cafes and bakeries in Washington D.C. and whilst you are in the states don’t forget to hit up Pinkberry for all you froyo fans – they have Nutella froyo, MMMMMMM!

Love, M. X

So why do people want to travel? Here are 5 reasons why:

Travel – almost everyone thinks about it at one point in their life. It’s everything from a right of passage for a high school graduate, to a reward for the retiring 60-somethings. But why is it so appealing? Why would people prefer to spend their money on tin metal cans taking them to different places, rather than lets say – a kitchen, or a new bed or a car? Let’s think about the reasons why:

1) It’s different – we’re humans. We’re curious. We like peeking into the lives of those who are different from ourselves. Whether those people are interested in the life of humanity now or the lives of humanity past. We like different. It means it’s not “boring”.

2) Excitement – Travel is stressful, yes. Take it from this blogger who is in the process of planning to blow all her savings on a trip to America. But it’s also exciting. There is something so invigorating in the anticipation and preparation of travel, getting all your things together – even receiving your visa waiver or taking a new passport photo. It’s a build up to something special and unique, something you may never get the opportunity to do again.

3) An island in time – We are all so busy in our lives, that travel represents an oasis in time. A time where, even though you’re running around on tours trying to see everything there is to see in the time frame that really seemed quite long when you booked your flight, but in actuality you really should have gone for an extra month.

4) Bucket List Syndrome – Travel has a firm spot on almost everyone’s bucket list. It’s a universal truth – that you want to travel SOMEWHERE. Whether it’s in the same country or overseas, you want to experience something else. You want to see the world and what it has to offer – whether it be for humanitarian action, or shopping in Paris or Hong Kong, you want to get your of your bubble at least once in your life and say that “Hey, I did that” to your grandchildren.

5) Is the grass truly greener? – this is pretty much all the above reasons boiled down to one – we are all longing to escape our lives no matter how good they are and experience the grass on the other side, to see if it really is greener. A successful trip is discovering that yes, the grass is greener, but you still go home afterwards. Or maybe you don’t. That has happened.

So yes, travel is something on everyone’s bucket list – the anticipation of planning and excitement of exploring a new place is something that almost everyone wishes to achieve. It’s wired into our DNA. So begin, continue, or end your travel journey here, with us in the Sisterhood and let your minds escape while your body cannot. And if you have any suggestions of places to go, let us know!

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Bloggers X