I Hopped off the Plane with a Dream & My Cardigan

Everyone, I know who has travelled, told me that making friends whilst travelling wasn’t something to worry about as you meet new friends all the time. But; being the anxious traveller that I am I had my doubts.

A new country and a new impromptu way of meeting  people to contend with had my flight socks in a twist

Small talk has never been something I excel at – it makes me super uncomfortable and usually leads to me attempting  to be funny. A bit like Bridget Jones at the Law Council Dinner.

Team this ordinary anxiety with the anxiety of having a Scottish accent, and a stereotypical tendency to talk quickly, and I didn’t think I was off to a winning start.

It turns out everyone was right though and my worry had been grately exaggerated.  Making new friends has been a wonderful experience. The best way to meet people is by staying at a hostel or staying at an Air B&B which is more like shared home (for those that don’t know). We opted for the second option after our hostel horror.

It can be a little daunting at first, depending on the size of the place, there can be a lot of people to introduce yourself to and names to remember. Accept that you won’t remember everyone’s  name.


Helpful tip 1#: if you are too embarrassed to ask the person for their name again you can ask them to repeat how their name is pronounced.  You will meet people from all over the world – so although this might be a weird question at home (e.g. how to pronounce Jim) asking how to pronounce a name like ‘Mahalia’ not so much. This feels slightly less cringey than admitting you have completely forgotten. Although you will also find people don’t expect you to remember their name first time.

Sharing accommodation is a great way to make friends, learn about different cultures and to share travel stories. So if like me you were worried about making friends add this to the top of your list of ways to do it.
Work is another great way to meet people. I had forgotten that Australia is full of travelers and therefore everyone is in the same boat (or on the same plane actually). It’s also a good opportunity to meet Australian’s who will be able give you a heads up on all the best places.

Helpful tip 2#: Look on Facebook for closed traveller groups like ‘Poms in Brisbane’ for example. These groups are full of people happy to meet up for drinks or coffee and are a great source for traveler information.

I have been working for an agency as a brand ambassador and because Australia has a huge number of expats it has been amazing sharing travel stories with some of my customers. I don’t work in the same store all the time so I thought this would make it difficult to make friends through work. But after a shift one day I bumped into some other agency girls, I recognised from the initial interview, and before I knew it we were having lunch together and swapping numbers.

Meeting friends on your travels has a completely different feel to it from being at home. If I had bumped into someone in Glasgow I had met once or twice I would have politely said ‘Hi’ and went on with my day. But at home you aren’t travelling and depending where you live you probably aren’t meeting many travelers.

One of the best parts of travelling is meeting new people. I already feel that my trip has been enriched by the people I have met in the last two months – those whose number’s I have in my phone and those who I have only chatted with in passing. Because these are all people I would never have met had I not travelled.


Packing when you are a Material Girl

Travelling away from home, to another country, is a daunting experience with all the planning, preparing, and packing your life into a bag (that is never going to be big enough to accommodate for all the unnecessary crap you think you need to take with you).

It doesn’t matter how many times you rerrange things or attempt to condense all those precious items  by plonking your arse on top of your bag- material girl that extra pair of shoes are not going to magically squeeze in.

I thought I had everything under control as I had been practically planning what was coming with me for the last year. Since I’m organised to the point of being neurotic I felt this was reasonable – it’s not like I’m Carrie Bradshaw harbouring outfits for a trip that isn’t even planned.

But, even I managed to get completely stressed out packing. The penultimate night before we left I spent hours pacing about my room whilst rearranging my bag over and over again. The night ended with me throwing my clothes about my room in a tantrum before I went to bed defeated.

After a couple of dramatic text messages to my  boyfriend he luckily came over the next day and helped me sort it – mainly by shouting at me for wanting to take so much stuff.  P:S once we arrived I found he had packed more crap than me; so I still won that one.

Packing Tips:

1. Recruit a friend to help you with the task of what to take and more importantly what not to take. I did have help deciding what to take but I decided to pack it all on my own – so when everything I had carefully selected didn’t fit this is when the panic started.  Do not let your friend leave until your bag is closed.

2. Unless you aren’t going to buy anything whilst on your trip you will need to make sure there is room in your case to accommodate for this. I have been in Australia for two months and have bought: 2 dresses , 1 work skirt, 2 work tops, 2 x work shoes,  work jacket, PJ bottoms, 5 tshirt’s & I have acquired a cardigan & two tops that housemates didn’t want anymore. It’s amazing how much stuff you can acquire in a short time. I have absolutely no doubt that I’ll be buying more stuff on my travels – including another case.  Consider what you will buy on your trip when packing.

3. Take your favourite clothes – I left my favourite t-shirt and I’ve regretted it since. Don’t just take the clothes you think you should take – if you don’t ever wear shorts don’t take them – pack that favourite t-shirt instead.

4. Remove those favourite clothes from your wardrobe a couple of months prior to your trip. You will forget about them and be excited to see them again like long lost friends. Remember you’ll have to wear these clothes over and over again.

5. Once you have the favourite clothes sorted you need to think about an interview outfit and potential work clothing.  I got this one completely wrong and packed a pink dress I could wear at a interview or an admin job.  It turns out Australia are into ‘corporate black’ whereas I was desperately trying to avoid packing black clothing; despite my wardrobe being 80% black.  So play it safe if like me you don’t know what field you’ll be working in and pack a black outfit or wait until you have a job before planning outfits. If you have a black suit jacket – bring it as you will probably need it.  Play it safe and pack smart black clothing.

6. The same advice goes for shoes. I almost brought my comfy work shoes but luckily didn’t due to lack of space and it turned out that my new job required me to wear heels. So regardless of whether I had brought them I would still need to buy new shoes. I did bring my boots though as I knew it would be expensive to buy a good pair over here.  Only bring shoes you know you will definitely need.

7. Decant your toiletries into travel friendly bottles. I done this the day before we left after getting into a tizzy about the weight of my bag. If you aren’t particular about your toiletries take mini’s and buy full size ones once you arrive.

8. Get on to Amazon or Ebay and buy packing cubes – these will be your best friend when it comes to locating things in your bottomless pit of a bag.  As the name suggests they are cubes for organising your belongings into sections.  I bought three and found this to be enough but there are lots of other options.

9. Microfibre towels – traditional towels take up so much room whereas microfibre ones are light weight and also dry quickly.  I packed two (an extra large and a large) I could have got away with just taking the one extra large one as they dry so quickly but the large one has come in handy for taking to the beach to sit on.

10.  Get Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’, yeah?  Everything that can be packed by rolling it into a sausage do it. You will be surprised at how much you can neatly fit into your packing cubes this way.  It will also eventually become really boring (rolling) packing your clothing this way but it’s worth it.  Plus thanks to me you’ll probably now have Limp Bizkit stuck in your head whilst you do it so that should make it more fun.