My packing extras: make the most of your trip!

Travel

I have always loved the idea of travelling to new places even from when I was really little, as soon as I was old enough to head off into the world I did! My first major trip without my folks being my month away interailing when I was 18. Since then I’ve done a few different trips and from each trip I’ve learnt different packing tips and tricks that have helped me make the most of my experience! Here is a little insight to what I ALWAYS take with me whenever I go somewhere.

 

Write it down!

I’ll start with one of the most obvious things, that I know a lot of people have already but I’ll still give it a mention: a travel journal! I first got mine years ago, it’s been all around Europe with me, to Canada and now to the Caribbean. I’m so happy I invested in one years ago as it’s really helped me document my experiences and how exactly I was feeling at the time. When I’m away I don’t write in it everyday, for me the best way is to write when you’ve had a particular special day, or you’ve done something new, met new people or even if you’ve had a terrible day, writing about it might help you get it out your mind and start fresh. You might feel silly at first (I know I did!) because writing what you’re feeling can sometimes be cringy and embarrassing but really you’re the only person that is going to see it so really it doesn’t matter. I was having a little glance back at mine and I’m so happy I kept it up on my trips because it bought back so many memories, stuff I’d forgotten and I even had a little chuckle to myself (I’m pretty lame sometimes). You won’t regret it!

Another quick reason why having a journal is great is to document your finances, I know this sounds suuuuper boring, but I think it’s essential especially if you’re on an extended trip. When you’ve got no money coming in, the best way to keep on top of it is just to write down what you spend everyday. I even set myself a rough budget for each week/month (miss cool over here) just to stay on track- easy peasy!

Home comforts

You can take the girl out of Yorkshire…

When I’m travelling, it doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, at some point I’m going to get a little homesick. It just happens, so when I’m ever feeling super down and maybe even lonely I find home comforts are such an important thing for helping me get over this little drought. One of the main things that reminds me of being at home in York is good ol’ Yorkshire tea. So I always pack plenty of teabags with me when I go somewhere, that way if you’re feeling a bit empty and low all you’ve gotta do is put the kettle on!

Keep moving!

For me travel is just a big old holiday and what does everyone do when they’re on holiday… Indulge. Calories is not a word when you’re on holiday right! You can eat whatever you want, whenever you want without that guilt!! Which for a 2 week trip is perfect, you can really let yourself go and enjoy going out but when you’re on a longer trip say 6 months, if you indulged like you do on a little trip on a big scale, you’re going to be packing on the pounds which is not goooood. I love fitness when I’m home so I always travel with resistance bands. I’m a massive fan of home workouts and there is such a variety out there that it’s so easy to find one that suits you, adding resistance bands just adds more of a challenge. I don’t stick to any particular workout schedule when I’m away, I just try to take advantage of the environment I’m in and do little workouts when I can. This way when I get back to the UK I’m not starting from square one with my fitness game.

Take your workout to the beach!

Stay clean!

The last one isn’t the most exciting but in definitely very practical! Depending on where you’re staying when you’re away you don’t necessarily always know what you’re washing situation is going to be. Air B&B’s don’t always specify and if they do sometimes it isn’t what you expected, so just to make sure you’re not caught off guard without a way off being able to wash your clothes I always a pack a little tube of travel wash. It’s basically a washing gel you can use hand washing or with machines. The one I got cost me £1.50 from my local hardware store. If you can’t get that, even packing actual washing powder is fine, there’s no major expense I always just think it’s better to be safe (and clean!) than being sorry (and smelly!).

 

 

Thanks for reading and happy travelling!

My time in the Caribbean : Montserrat

Travel

Wow it feels so weird to be writing a blogpost again, I’ve had a pretty intense year since I last blogged so I needed to take a break from it and spend time with the people that are closest to me, but I’m so happy to be back and with so much more to share! I’m actually writing this on my phone from the comfort of my Air B&B in Barbados, I just couldn’t wait to return to the UK to share stuff about my trip. The first sector off what I’m going to call a ‘blog series’ is going to be about my time in the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean – Montserrat!

When I told people I was going to Montserrat people thought I meant the mountain range in Spain, which to be honest is only fair as I had noooo idea where it was when until my friend recommended it to me. My boyfriend is a wildlife conservationist so he was looking for work in this field, while myself, I don’t have any experience in this area but I’ve always wanted to volunteer on a similar project. We found this organisation ‘Coral Cay Conservation‘ that did amazing work helping endangered coral reefs and tropical forests. They had a site over in Montserrat so my boyfriend applied for a job as a Science Officer and got it! It was such great news as we finally had a starting place for our travels! I joined him out there a few months after he arrived in May as a volunteer.

Views from my room

I don’t even know where to start when describing Montserrat. I’ve never been to any place like it. The whole island only has a population of 5,000 people so as you can probably guess there is a huge sense of community. Everyone was so friendly and trusting, there is (basically) no crime what so ever and everyone knows everyone. Montserrat is a mountainous island with an active volcano…yes meaning it could have erupted at any time, which was so scary to me at first but more I learnt about the volcano and the way they track and monitor it, I pretty much forgot it was even active, in fact if anything it made it more exciting.

Me showing my excitement for the volcano

Me being excited about seeing the volcano

Being a part of the conservation project meant I got to contribute to monitoring 30 different species of bird and 12 herptiles that lived on the island. Learning all these different animals was SO fascinating, I mean I’ve always loved animals but I never thought I would love bird spotting. It has quickly become a major interest of mine, everywhere we go now I’m pointing out birds and identifying what species it is from our book (yes we have bird book) and I love it!

Everyday on the project would consist of going on a trail in the morning then usually a shorebird survey in the afternoon. The trails were amazing, you really got to explore the depths of Montserrat’s tropical forests, it definitely was a challenge. Hiking in such extreme temperatures on top off the humidity is a real test, but ever so rewarding. One trail, called ‘Rendezvous’, ended in a beautiful white sand beach which you would have had no idea was there, so secluded and tranquil. Although this trail was a tough hike as it wasn’t the most covered from the sun and it took you straight over a cliff ridge, so it was fairly steep, it immediately became my favourite trail. Rendezvous Beach

Rendezvous Beach

Other trails were a lot more wooded, I’ve never seen forests like it, very Tarzan-esc with dozens of vines and roots of trees taller than 2 of you. These kind of trails were always more humid, as there is less of a breeze. Something I have learnt from doing all these treks is not to be embarrassed by sweat. I have never sweated so much in my life and you just learn to get on with it, my entire body just dripping, even in places I didn’t even know could sweat- just happens! So no more embarrassing sweat patches when I’m back in the UK as it’s nothing compared to this. On a less gross note, the ‘Oriole Trail’ was another one of my favourites, aptly named after the ‘Montserrat Oriole’ which is the national bird of the island. It’s a beautiful uphill hike to the top then a nice decline to the end. This trail also ended at a coffee shop which sold the MOST delicious chocolate milkshake! Not the most important reason to do the trail but I’ll tell you now after sweating and hiking like that, an ice cold milkshake is just what you need!

Montserrat Oriole (male)

Montserrat Oriole (male)

Views from the top of Oriole trail

Views from the top of Oriole Trail

So from Monday- Saturday our days were filled up with treks, surveys, daily chores and activities but as soon as the clock struck 6pm on Saturday it became ‘Beer O’clock’! Making sure all the science is taken care off we were free to spend our Saturday night as we please, whether it’s going out and having a night in with a few drinks. On the first Saturday I was there, we all decided to go out, I was so excited! I always think experiencing a place a night you really get to see a different side of the culture and meet new people. The first bar we went too, you wouldn’t even recognise it as a bar back home. It was a bright blue and green painted hut with dance hall music blasting out of an outside speaker with the owner sat on a plastic chair next to it. All along the back inside is the bar with a TV screen on your left where you can play FIFA on PlayStation. When you order a drink it was a completely unique thing again! It’s never happened to me before where you order a gin and tonic, for example, and in front of you they put the bottle of gin, a can of tonic, a full ice cube tray and a plastic cup- basically make your own! No measurements or limits and you pay the same price. Bartending is my trade back home so I think this so strange, but definitely not going to complain.

I could ramble on telling you about every experience I had in Montserrat but I highly doubt anyone reading will make it any further (if you’ve made it this far thank you). Overall I would recommend going to Montserrat if you’re are already in the Caribbean for a few days. There is not loads to do but definitely pop over if you are close. Hike! Swim! Snorkel! Dive! Also some beautiful sunsets (seriously I’ve never seen any like it). Being able to spend 2 months there working as a volunteer was truly an honour.

Sunset the night before Irma hit

Sunset the night before Irma hit

Thank you for reading.