50 Ways to Make Friends While Travelling 

Soon into my Working Holiday in Australia, I was posting pictures of me smiling on beaches around Sydney with my new hostel pals.  From the outside, all seemed well and good. However my first few days in Australia hadn’t exactly gone smoothly especially during the first 24 hours in events you can read about here

After spending one night in probably the worst hostel ever after the one in that film ‘Hostel’ where everyone is killed, I moved to another hostel called Big (which was really rather lovely). Despite my new surroundings being far more comfortable I still spent the first couple of nights feeling lonely and wondering why I’d left my friends in London to move to the other side of the world.  

I was pondering this while brushing my teeth in the shared bathroom one morning when a girl next to me started looking me up and down before opening with, ‘You’re from the UK aren’t you?’.  ‘Eh.. Yes’, I responded. Was it really that obvious? ‘You can totally tell!’, she laughed, confirming that it really was that obvious. 

That girl was Becky and she went on to explain that a group of them from the hostel would be going to Randwick races the next day and that I should meet them on the roof in the morning for pre-drinks at 11am.  It was at that moment I knew I’d found my kind of people.  

The next day I headed up the fire route with a bottle of Prossecco in hand (which on reflection was a bit much for a meet up on a hostel roof) to be introduced to several more backpackers who were also staying at Big.  As easy as that I had found a crew to hang with and I went on to enjoy the next 8 weeks having fun in and around Sydney with them.  If I was about five years younger I’d probably describe my newly found group as ‘squad goals’ and not even ironically either.

Since then I’ve had mixed experiences when it comes to making friends while travelling.  New friendships can form instantly but it can at times be more challenging.  I wanted to create a guide for those who find themselves in a similar situation and are in need of an A -Team stat. So here we go, 50 ways to make friends while travelleling…

1. Book into a hostel. Not only are they affordable, hostels truly are the best way to meet other people while you get acquainted to a new area.  Sure you’ll be sharing with lots of people you don’t know, but soon they could become people you do know.  Get amongst it!

2. Choose the right dorm room for you. Hostel rooms come in all sorts of weird and wonderful configurations. Would you rather there were four people to a room or ten?  Some people might find a room with so many people intimidating while others may view it as more opportunities to socialise.  Pick accordingly.

3. Think about the gender of your roommates.  This one is for the ladies. Do you want a mixed gender room or would you prefer it were for females only? At Big I opted for a Female only room as I was long terming and needed to get ready for work.  There was a quieter vibe in the room and it made it easy to get to know the other females properly. For short term stays I usually go for mixed. Although things can get slightly weird as I discovered in Byron Bay.

The beauty of hostels is that if you share with someone you don’t get on with, often they will be gone pretty soon anyway. Unless they are a long-termer… but I’ll get to that later. 

4. Speak to your new roomies. There is not much point sharing a room with all these new potential hostel friends (Ooh Friends. Hostel Friends!) if you don’t make an effort to chat to some of them.  As soon as that door opens and you spot another human all you need to do is say the word ‘hi’ followed by some questions such as ‘where are you from?’ and ‘when did the arrive?’.

Then simply ask what are they doing next. Coming to the bar with you? Great!

5. Do all of the activities.  BBQs, Quizzes, Bingo, Beer Pong and Wine & Cheese Night are just some of the events I have attended over the last year at hostels I’ve been staying at. Having an activity to focus on is a wonderful ice breaker and often other participants will be new too. Below is photo from a Valentines Night event at YHA Central in Melbourne. We started off with speed dating which was planned by the hostel and then all ended up in a near by pub doing dance offs which was very much not.  If my memory serves there was also a bit of snogging by the end of the night. Who doesn’t love a bit of snogging? While we are on the subject though, that word is so underused these days. We should try to bring it back. 

6. Bust out the Tim Tam (Or equivalent popular snack for the country you are in). In other words, buy new friends with bribes. For those who don’t know what Tim Tams are – they are an Australian marvel.  (For those of you who genuinely still don’t know – they are a chocolate biscuit. Like a really good chocolate biscuit). Opening up a pack and offering one to the person next to you in the hostel is a great way to get them talking and if they refuse it then maybe you don’t really want them as a friend anyway. 

*Unless they have a genuine reason such as being vegan or on a health kick.  **And in this case you could always invite them to check out a local vegan restaurant or come for a run instead!

P.S The eagle eyed among you may have noticed that there are Tim Tams in the above photograph. Well done. You win a prize. (Comment to collect).

7. Brush up your card game knowledge. Most hostels have a pack of cards in their lounge room and it’s a great way to get chatting to others and include them in a game.  Not so great however if everyone sits around trying really hard to remember any card game other then Snap.  Brush up on your skills and know your Rummy from your Bullshit.  You could even invest in your own deck.  Voila! Portable Friend maker! 

8. Play Pool. If a hostel has a pool table then ask around to find someone who wants to play you.  Don’t worry if you’re a bit rubbish.  In truth I totally am and rarely play in public and that has been to my detriment.  So do as I say, not as I do. 

The hostel ‘Wake Up!’ in Sydney holds regular Pool Competitions and gives a free drink to any Female who signs up.  If that doesn’t motivate you then I don’t know what will. 

9. Make friends in the bathroom. Do a ‘Becky’. Speak to the person next to you in the bathroom. Ask them where they got their makeup, how long they have been in the hostel or if they are from the UK because they are ridiculously wrapped up for just a bit of rain.  However , do remember to respect people’s privacy and personal space. Ie: don’t wander into their area while they are half naked with a Tim Tam in your hand asking if they want it.

10. Remember everyone is in the same boat. A large portion of people in hostels are travelling solo and often will be open to making new friends.  So if you do feel slightly worried about initiating conversation, remember there’s a chance that the person you are talking to also really wanted to chat but was feeling too shy.  You could be helping someone else out.

11. Don’t be intimidated by Long Termers.  Ah. Long termers. Those backpackers who have been staying at the same hostel for weeks or in some cases even months.  They already have their group, monopolise the free food bin, have their own whatsapp group and seem so confident and lets face it, ever so teensy tiny bit smug.  I have been on both sides so I know how much it sucks when arriving to a new place and feeling intimidated by an already established group.  Just remember that they were all in your position once and probably will be again in the future. It’s easy for long termers to get comfortable and distance themselves from newbies, after all making new friendships every couple of days can get exhausting so don’t take it personally if they are aloof. Still make an effort to strike up a conversation and ask them how they got to know so many people at the hostel.  You might get lucky and they could end up introducing you to all the others in their pack. 

12. Use Facebook Messenger to your advantage. If you end up having a good conversation with someone and discuss that you would like to do similar things such as visit the botanical gardens or hit up a local bar, why not suggest that you add them on Facebook messenger.  With people arriving in and out of different countries all the time they may not have a mobile number sorted yet and are even less likely to have credit.  With messenger you only need wifi to send a quick message asking if they want to meet up. 

You can now add people to messenger without adding them on Facebook too which stops you ending up with 2345 Facebook friends from hostel rooms around the world that you will probably never see again. 

13. Don’t be a dick.  A good rule for Hostels and for life.  If you are rude, inconsiderate or downright mean then people are going to give you a wide berth. Try and think of others around you and you know, be nice to them.  

14. Invite people along. If you are going somewhere then open the invite up to anyone and everyone. Once a guy in the hostel I was staying in found free tickets online to the filming of Family Feud in Melbourne and asked around to see if anyone else wanted to join him.  I said yes and it was a cracking night out. I now always make an effort to invite others along with me to any activity I come across. 

15. Don’t sit on your phone. Sitting glued to your phone gives the idea that you don’t want to be bothered. Put the phone away and sit with something else to occupy yourself such as a drink or by paying solitaire with that pack of cards you’ve now learned some games for. Keep your body language open and someone may just decide to join you. 

16. Ask questions! Most backpackers will meet for the first time and will know where the other is from, how long they have been travelling, where they are headed next and the favourite places they have been before they even know each other’s name.  You could have been chatting with someone quite happily for an hour before suddenly realising you have no idea what to call them.  Asking questions is a great way to establish common ground and most humans love talking about themselves. So unleash your inner Alan Carr and get chatty, man. (Terrible pun).

17. Get to know the staff.  If someone has chosen to work in a hostel there is a high chance that they like people so don’t ignore them as potential friends.  Often the staff will be fellow travellers and if they are on reception will probably have a great working knowledge of the area which could come in really useful (see point 24).

18. Invite people to sit with you. Remember you’re not Regina George and screaming ‘you can’t sit with us!’ at others will probably not help your quest in finding new pals.  If you see someone looking a little lost or if the area you are in is crowded, budge up, make room and ask them if they want to join you. This works a treat in hostels but also in bars, cafe and restaurants too. 

19. Organise your own fun. Don’t rely on the place you are staying in to organise everything for you. Take the initiative and organise something fun to solidify your new blossoming friendships.  We did just that when we decided to have a BBQ at Tamarama Beach in Sydney. (Although we did forget to bring plates, hence why we are eating meat out of cups in the below picture).


20. Be open minded. Don’t discount someone because they are not the type of person you would usually hang out with. Surely a large part of travelling is getting to meet people from different backgrounds and cultures.  There’s not much point in trotting around the world if the only people you meet would be those you would meet if you had stayed at home!

21. Use apps. Backpackr, Outbound, Trippr, Wandermates and Grindr all having something in common. They are apps designed to meet new people in your area or an area you will soon be headed to. A word of warning though – only four of the five are for making new travel mates. I’ll let you figure out which is which. 

22. Go with the flow. Be prepared to change your plans and adapt as you go. You may find an awesome group of people who invite you on a trip to explore a lesser known spot out of town when you had already planned in your head to do the cities must dos that weekend. Why not change your plan and go with them off the beaten track instead – there will always be time for solo exploring but opportunities to share experiences with others could be few and far between!

23. Cook! Offer to cook a meal for your new hostel aquaintances or those you have met on your travels. Not many people will turn down a home cooked meal and it’s a great way to give a little back, while socialising over some yummy food. You never know, they might offer to return the favour. Hey presto – friendship made!  And a friendship formed over food is always the greatest type of friendship in my book. 

24. Join a day tour group. A one day trip gives you the perfect opportunity to see the sights and get to know everyone on your tour bus at the same time.  There are plenty to choose from and your new friend on reception may even be able to point you in the right direction. 

25. Take on a new hobby. If you are going to be in a certain area for a while why not look into taking up a hobby.  In Sydney I started Improv at LMA Masters Academy. It was so much fun and the majority of the group were Australian so it was a great way to meet locals too.  So whether you would prefer joining a photography group, signing up to mixed netball, taking part in amateur dramatics or participating in a book club, a new hobby is a great way to meet others and you can learn something new while doing it.

26. Say yes!  I’m not just saying this because I was taught it in Improv lessons. Get into the habit of saying yes to offers even if it doesn’t immediately strike you as something you want to do.  A week into my time at Big I was asked if I wanted to join some others for a night out in Scubar, a backpackers bar in Sydney.  I was still tired from JetLag and didn’t exactly fancy spending time in a hot sweaty club. However I said yes anyway and it turned out to be a very funny night indeed. 

Remember that you’ll never look back on your time travelling and recall all those times you stayed in!

27. Hang out in Hostel Bars. I remember booking into the hostel ‘Bunk’ in Brisbane for the night and on finding that the wifi was of excellent quality (heads up – a rarity for hostels across Australia/New Zealand) proceeded to cosy up in my bunk to stream episodes of Made In Chelsea (judge me all you want). After an episode or two I realised it was silly to waste a night in Brisbane so decided to head down to the hostel bar to see what was happening. After ordering a a Gin and Tonic I went to find a seat but it was so crowded I had to ask a group of lads if it was okay to join their table. Before long we were chatting and they asked if I wanted to come with them to another bar.  

What was meant to be a low key stop over in Brisbane soon turned into a wild 12 hour adventure with new found friends in various clubs in Fortitude Valley followed by watching the sunrise behind Story Bridge as we contemplated life. 

So in short, hostel bars are good. 

28. Couchsurf. Hostels are not the only accommodation solution where you will meet new people.  How about trying couchsurfing? Couchsurfing Hosts open their homes and share their lives allowing you to stay with them for free.  A great way to meet locals and potentially make friends for life in the process. 

29. Make friends while on the move. I spent a lot of my time in Australia on the Greyhound Bus because Australia is really big and very spread out. What better way to pass some of the 17 hour bus journey than by speaking to others also in transit. Often you will bump into the same people time and time again while travelling in the same country so introduce yourself and get talking. 

30. Use Social Media.  In Wanaka, New Zealand I ended up chatting to a Kiwi over Instagram and before long we decided we should meet up for a walk up a hill followed by a few beers.  He is now my closest friend in New Zealand.  When I arrived to Queenstown I was contacted by another Kiwi who asked if I wanted to meet up. I met her in a local bar and she introduced me to her friends group. So as long as you are safe, meeting people IRL from instagram or twitter could be the way to go. Especially, it seems, if you are in New Zealand. 

31. Get a social job. If you are on a working holiday visa the type of job you take on could massively influence your social life.  Working in a bar or tourist attraction could be a great way to make friends with likeminded colleagues. However if you take on a job as a truck driver or a grave digger, it’s probably not going to be the best social move. 

32. Try online dating. Or Tinder.  Not just a hook up app – I’ve also become friends with some tinder dates in the past too.  You can always put on your profile that you’re looking to make friends.  Hey and if the friendship blossoms into something more romantic, is that really such a bad thing? 

33. Go on a pub crawl. Starts singing: Shots shots shots shots shots shots. Shots shots shots shots shots. Shots shots shots shots shots. Everryyyyyybody!

34. Volunteer. Giving your time to volunteer can not only be very rewarding but it can be a great way to meet others too. 

35. Take or Teach Language Classes. Cómo hacer grandes amigos!

36. Go on a multi day tour. Sometimes organising your own solo travelling schedule day in and day out can tiring and lonely. So why not shell out a few extra bucks and go on a planned tour with an operating company.  Not only does it take out the stress of planning but you will be grouped with other travellers for that time, often sharing accommodation too so it’s a perfect way to make new buddies.

37. Get to know the locals. When I arrived to Sydney one of the first things I did was head to the bank to set up my account. The Aussie bank worker I met with was so funny and friendly that we ended up deciding we should meet up for elevenses in his lunch break.  Another time I was sitting in Darling Harbour when I struck up a conversation with an older local about the native birds. (I have the best conversations).  Don’t restrict yourself to just making friends with fellow backpackers or you could hugely miss out!

38. Become an Au Pair or Woofer.  I’ve worked as an Au Pair in Australia and New Zealand now and both times I’ve been given the opportunity by my host family to get to know other Au Pairs in the area. Similar to Au Pairing, Woofers normally work on a farm in exchange for food and accommodation. Not only does this give you a chance to get to know the family you are staying with, but often you can get to know the other workers in the area too. Personally I’ve found living with a family one of the best ways to fully immerse myself in the country and get to know true locals as well as fellow backpackers.

39. Introduce yourself to everyone you meet. Get into the habit of this and you can’t go wrong.  It will become second nature. ‘Hi I’m Sam, How are you doing? What was your name?’ And repeat. Unless you’re name is not Sam and in that case insert yours as appropriate. 

40. Check out Meetup. Meetup is an online social networking platform that facilitates offline group meetings around the world. Use it to find meet ups in your new area that you want to attend.  Or if it doesn’t exist yet, create your own. 

41. Meet up with friends of friends. When I said I was moving to Australia, an abundance of people would tell me that I simply must catch up with their second cousin, old table tennis partner or childhood penpal. So why not give it a go? You have one thing in common already – you’re both friends with the same person. When I arrived to Queenstown my best friend put me in touch with her old housemate who lived there. We met up and got on like a house on fire and promptly took a selfie to send to our mutual friend. 

42. Reconnect with old acquaintances. Remember that girl from uni that you spoke to a couple of times during freshers week who now lives in the country you’re visiting? Contact her! The rules go out the window when you are this far from home and often your old acquaintance will feel the same. 

43. Use Facebook Groups. Chileans en Sydney, Australia Backpackers and Lift and Travel Mates Australia are just some of the groups you could join to make friends in your new area. (Although you may not want to join the first one if you’re not from Chile. Or if you’re not in Sydney for that matter). Find the appropriate group for your community and post away!

44. Hitch a Ride. Use Facebook Groups such as the aforementioned Lift and Travel Mates Australia group to find others planning a roadtrip to an area you want to visit.  Offer to pitch in with fuel money, your driving skills (as long as you have a valid license) and of course let them know you will participate in the all important roadtrip ‘bants’. Or you could hitchhike. Just be safe out there and don’t leave yourself to risk.

45. Go on a hike. Hikes are some of the best ways to meet others (provided it’s populated and not one of those where you don’t see another soul for miles). As you walk up you can gain buddies to walk with and as you start to struggle those on the way down will soothe you by letting you know it’s not far to go.  (Yeah right easy for them to say!) Then at the climatic point you can admire the views with those around you. 

46. Ask for advice. Know any good cocktail bars? Where is the local supermarket? Do you know the best time to do laundry here? Asking others for advice opens a dialogue and breaks the ice. Perhaps they also need a Bloody Mary/Food Shop/Laundry sesh. Maybe you could do it together?

47. Fake it ’til you make it. If you’re feeling low on confidence, exude the idea of confidence and it will come.  Stand up tall, enter a room with purpose and make eye contact and smile at others.  Just ensure you don’t do it in a creepy way and you’re golden. 

You might feel like shit, but from the outside you will look like THE shit. And you will attract people to you like flies around, well, shit.

48. Have fun. If you’re having fun then others will want to join you.  Unless you’re having TOO much fun and they can’t handle it.  Which in that case ‘they aren’t ready for this jelly’ and that’s fine. Bye Felicia! 

49 Be yourself. It’s not a lot of fun trying to pretend you’re someone you’re not in order to make friends.  Ultimately ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’ as I read once on a particularly glittery Pinterest board.  So don’t worry if you don’t gel with everyone you meet.  The Moonlight has many nights! Which is a fancier way of saying ‘plenty more fish in the sea, luv’. 

50. Contact me! I’m always interested in meeting new faces so if you are in the same part of the world, get in touch via the comments below.  (Currently in the South Island, New Zealand. Let’s hang!)

Do you have some tips for making friends while travelling? Comment below and let me know. Want to see more from my blog then don’t forget to follow me! Or connect with me on Instagram @girlsamh or via Pinterest @samstravelblog 



Dad on Horseback

HORSES

I love horses. I have discovered though, that horses don’t always love me.  This was made very clear while working on a Cattle Farm in Queensland when one threw me off onto my head during a cattle muster. This, I will write about another day because a. I could have died (due to a fun secret surprise hiding in my helmet) but also b. despite point ‘a’ it’s still a pretty funny story. I have decided that my life philosophy is now as follows:

I have also learned that if I have a philosophical moment I will tweet about it and that I like to use letters a. and b. a lot when trying to make a point.

PARENTS IN NEW ZEALAND 

Not long after my farm experience, my parents flew over from the UK to visit me in Australia (not because I was thrown off the horse may I add, this was a planned holiday) and after a week in Sydney we then flew to South Island, NZ for a week in beautiful Wanaka. Despite the fact that the horscident (hi made up word) happened just weeks prior – my parents and I still thought it would be a fantastic idea to get on some other horses and be let loose in the New Zealand countryside. When I say loose I do of course mean allowed to ride in a safe, controlled environment with an expert leading the way at all times. We were soon to discover that the Hannah Horse Hex (which I’ve just named this second using my surname and a nifty bit of aliteration) had not been lifted, although this time it was my dad who was on the wrong end of the horsey stick.

So we are sitting in our beautiful Air BnB in Wanaka google searching horseriding companies when we came across Backcountry Saddle Expeditions Ltd. I quickly rang up and booked the three of us in for later that very day. On the phone I stressed that we were all beginner level with some horse experience. Dad rode when he was younger, my parents went trekking over the Grand Canyon for their Silver Wedding Anniversary and I had been thrown off a horse in Australia. Perfect. The lady said to arrive at 1pm for a 1.30pm start and before long we were off on our way to Cardrona which is where the horse riding would take place.


We got there a bit early so after sussing it all out we went to the famous Cardrona hotel just down the road for a quick drink. This place is awesome and you should definitely visit it if you’re in the area, just like Prince Harry decided to do in May 2015.

When we got back to the Horse place the owners were now there along with this little guy called Tiki, a fox terrier.  My mum snapped this pic of me and Tiki and it quickly made its way to my Instagram

She also managed to snap the one below but for some reason this snap of me, Tiki and my chins didn’t.  

After registration and helmet fitting we were then each given a horse (just for the Trek – you don’t get to keep it) and some instructions including not to mix up the order of the horses (apparently they can get cranky when they are not next to their friends) along with the adjusting of our stirrups and saddles.   They also told us a bit about our horses.  My horse was called Frosty and is often nicknamed ‘Losty’ as she ends up going the wrong way or doing things a bit backwards.  If all the other horses go left, Frosty will go right. A horse after my own heart. 

A lovely horse with my lovely Dad

My new pal for the day.

My mum is so cute

The horses are Appaloosa horses, known for their distinctive colourings and marking and better yet renowned for an even temperament which was great news to me as someone who pissed off the last horse I was on so much it decided to throw me as far away as possible from it. These particular horses at Backsaddle are barefoot and are trained using natural horesemanship techniques which seems to result in happy, healthy horses.  They all seemed extremely well looked after and you could tell that the staff genuinely love them to bits. Aw.  People are so cute sometimes and so are horses.

Just horsing around

Before long we were off on our trek. It was a really hot day and the track was very steep and the surroundings were beautiful.  At certain points we were encouraged to trot with our horses and I was having a lot of fun.  My dad however, wasn’t. 

Although Pops had been very at ease at the beginning as we got more into it I could see he wasn’t having the best time as is evident in most the selfies I was taking.  

Halfway through we stopped for a break and for photos.  I mean what’s the point of going out and doing activities if you can’t prove it to your friends on social media, right?  So here we are – my family seeming like we are all having a great time.  

Look at us, we do fun things!

However only two of us actually were. Directly after this pic was taken, my dad started to explain that he wasn’t feeling so great and as our leader Jo was taking photos of the others in the group, he told me he thought he was going to fall off his horse. Cue me trying to get Jo’s attention and us getting dad off the horse as quickly as possible while he rapidly turns as white as the horse he was on.  

Once Dad was safely off the horse he promptly sat on the ground.  The harsh sun was hitting down and his horse patientally stood by him while he lay down fully flat on the grass.  The horse was staring at him, probably thinking ‘why the long face?’, which is a bit rich coming from him really.  Then suddenly one of the riders who was on the trek with us yelled over to my dad ‘Stick your legs in air!’. The other riders, my mum, the horses and I all looked at her confused. ‘If you feel sick you’re supposed to put your legs in the air so the blood rushes to your head’, she explains.  ‘No don’t do that, just lie flat!’ called another rider from behind us, ‘So the blood is even’. Then everyone got into a weird debate about whether or not you should stick your legs in the air or not when you feel dizzy while dad lay on the ground with his legs just in a normal position.  I think lying on the ground next to a horse halfway through a trek in Cardrona is embarrassing enough without also having to stick your legs up in the air.  Meanwhile, while everyone continued to debate the leg thing our leader called down to her coworkers to let them know we had a ‘situation’. My mum nudged me to try get me to take a photo of dad lying down next to his horse.   I thought that was pretty cruel to do that so initially refrained.  However once he had sat up I couldn’t resist.  So here he is with lovely Prickles the horse still by his side.  

Devvo

Before too long the owner had come up in a van ready to take Prickles and my dad back down the valley while the rest of us carried on.  Dad got to sit in the truck with Tiki on his lap while Prickles had to be ridden down by one of the other staff members which he wasn’t too happy about. Of the whole situation Dad says he still feels bad about cutting short Prickes day out with his mates.

The rest of us carried on up steep terrain and over rivers until we got to one of the steepest parts where we could see Prickles and the van with my dad carting off in the distance.  Then suddenly all of our horses stopped where they were and one by one started whinnying down to the horse my dad had been on.  Each would neigh loudly and then even all the way down the track (half a KM away) Prickles would whinny back.  It was like they were all saying ‘Bye Mate!’ or ‘Oi Prickes! Where you going fella? Come back!’

Soon we were back down to the starting point where we were reunited with Dad and his horse who were enjoying a lovely cup of tea and a big bag of horse food (I’ll let you work out who was having which).  Dad was feeling a lot better (was just ever so slightly embawwassed) but had been very well looked after by the wonderful staff at Backcountry Saddle and by Tiki who had even refrained from biting for a while.  

Ultimately it was amazing day with my family and I would highly recommend Backcountry Saddle Expeditions to anyone if you are keen to do horse riding in New Zealand.  Even Dad loved it and despite being taken ill, still had an amazingly positive experience thanks to the level of care the staff provided, the beautiful surroundings and of course wonderful animals. Whereas I was just happy that it wasn’t me getting myself into a ridiculous travel situation. For once! 

If you liked this entry why not follow me for more to come or comment below! Perhaps you know who was right regarding the whole legs up or down thing? If so I would love to hear from you. Still trying to work that part out! 

How I managed to board an international flight without my passport or any I.D

FLYING SOLO 

As a single traveller in 2017 there is one app that I use quite a bit when arriving to a new city or country. It’s not Citymapper, Tripadvisor or Google Translate. It is in fact Tinder.

If anyone was wondering.. and even of you’re not.. this is what the first page of my tinder looks like complete with bio:

So aside from the elbow licking and the Josh story which you can read here if you haven’t already, the most common subject guys message me about is the whole international flight/passport thing. A lot of whom ask me if it really is true.

So I thought I would delve into the story a little further and assure you all that I’m not making up stories for what is essentially a hook up app. Not that I use it for that of course. In fact I once had the tagline ‘LOOKING FOR A HUSBAND’ to put off those who use it for casual encounters yet still received messages that simply read ‘DTF?’. Now if you don’t already know what DTF means then you don’t want to so please do not google it. Family members that means you. I don’t want a reoccurrence of when my parents asked me what the word ‘twat’ meant over the dinner table. They were convinced that it was simply a cross between the words ‘twit’ and a ‘prat’. Yeah. It does not mean that.

LIFE LESSONS

Now a few years back I decided it would be a really great idea to spend my birthday in Amsterdam with some friends. Then, on the flight from London to Schipol Airport I did something that you should never, ever do and something I have never done since after learning some hard life lessons. I put my passport in the little sleeve thing on the chair in front of me. You know the sleeve where the safety instructions go and that little in-flight magazine and menu? Yeah never put it there. You will forget it and you may end up being in the county illegally (which may have been what accidently happened to me).

I remember getting off the plane, arriving to customs and then suddenly having that heart stopping moment when you realise you have left something behind. I started frantically patting myself everywhere just in case I still had it. Alas, I didn’t. (Did I seriously just use the word alas?) As we had just stepped off the plane I quickly spoke to the crew and told them I had left my passport in the sleeve thing. They said it was too late to go back.

So at customs I had to feebly explain that I had forgotten my passport and had to spend a couple of hours filling out some forms and answering questions regarding who I was and why I was in the country. They then issued me with a very special bit of paper that allowed me to legally stay in the country.

BREAKING THE LAW (BY ACCIDENT)

They really stressed the importance of the special bit of paper.  It had a stamp on it and without it, I was basically in the country illegally. Under absolute no circumstances at all was I to go anywhere without this piece of paper and it was imperative that I brought it back for my return flight.So of course, the inevitable happens and following a series of events (some of which you could imagine forming the plot for The Hangover Part 4) I may have lost the document over the course of the weekend. I have absolutely no excuse for this happening except for A. I was in Amsterdam and B. 2006 version of me was a bit of a special case.


Before I knew it the weekend was coming to an end and we were back on our way to the airport to catch our flight home.

FREAKING OUT 

As everyone checked in I quietly sneaked over to the information desk to explain my predicament in that I had no passport or ID yet needed to get on a flight back to the UK.  I soon ended up in a room with a security official who was quizzing me on why I had no passport.  The security officer was basically a Dutch version of ‘The Freak’ from Prisoner Cell Block H if you remember that show? If not here is a picture of her for your reference.

She was terrifying.  ‘So you left your passport on the plane?’, she checked, for the third time. ‘Yes. In that little sleeve thing’, I added. ‘ You should never leave it in that’, she told me before asking me about the special document they gave me at customs.  I confirmed that they had in fact given me this. ‘So where is that paper now?’, she quizzed.  Now I knew at this point admitting I had lost it would be admitting responsibility for the whole debacle and therefore I would not be allowed on that plane.  I needed to ensure I answered in a way that was truthful yet did not admit to being the one at fault.

‘It’s gone’, I answered, hoping this would suffice.  ‘What do you mean it’s gone?’, she asked, completely incredulous.  ‘Well, I had it.  But now..  I don’t have it’, I offered pathetically.  ‘That was an official document’, she pressed, ‘You can’t just not have it!’.  ‘Yeah I understand’, I responded, ‘And it was there and now it’s just not there’.  I made a little shrug and looked sorry. I was sorry. She was giving me all this information and asking if I understood and it was taking everything not to respond with ‘it’s all Dutch to me’. See this is who I am as a person. I’m not proud of it.

‘You’ll have to go to the Embassy’, she told me sharply, ‘I can’t help you’.

Oh come on Sam, I thought, you need to get yourself out of this one.  I looked at the lady and took a big deep sigh. ‘I do realise why I have to go to the Embassy and I am so sorry for using up your time.  The thing is… I have work later today and I really need to get on that flight. I know I’m supposed to have the document. I understand that. And I did have it. But now it’s not there and I was just wondering if instead of going to the Embassy and missing my flight and taking up more of everyone’s time, I could instead please get on the flight and promise to never ever do this again and definitely never leave my passport in the sleeve thing from now on’.

BREAKING FREE

The Freak (which sounds rude out of context but I mean it affectionately – I’d grown pretty fond of this lady after all this interrogation) looked at me like I was ridiculous and narrowed her eyes.  She then got up, moved over to a computer, typed something in for a couple seconds and then came back and sat down.
‘Okay’,  she said. ‘You can get on your flight’.

Really?  Did that really work? Just by asking nicely and saying please? ‘I can get on the flight?’, I asked, not quite believing my ears.

‘Yes’, she said, sighing.  ‘Just don’t do this again.  In future if you get given ‘a very special bit of paper’, you need to look after it’.  Please understand that I’m paraphrasing her and she did not call it a special bit of paper. She used its proper name. Which I forget. I’m pretty forgetful. You may be able to tell that from this story.

And with that I was free. I skipped out of that office and went to join my friends who had already gone through to departures.  At every passport check stop I explained that I didn’t have it but it was okay because the nice lady in security had said so.  After a couple of calls here and there back down to the Freakster, I was waved on through and onto my flight back home.

A SURPRISE IN THE POST

About two weeks later I received a white envelope through my letterbox. It was a lowkey envelope, the kind you might send a birthday card in and had a simple international stamp on the front. I opened it up to find my passport inside.

I couldn’t really blame The Netherlands for being for so sloppy with the security of my passport when I had been so sloppy with the paper they had entrusted to me.

More than anything I was just happy to have my passport back and that my passport could go on to accompany me in many more ridiculous travel stories to come.

How I ended up with the Nickname Josh 

WHATS IN A NAME?

As someone with three first names for a name (they say not to trust anyone with two first names and here I am trying to rock ‘Samantha Jayne Hannah’) and then three syllables in my first name alone, I am not exactly a stranger to nicknames. Sam, Sammy, Girl Sam, Sammy Girl, Hannah Montana, Sam Wise, Samuel L Jackson, Samantha Mumba, Baby Jane, Hannah, Shannah and even Sausage Sam (thanks very mum and dad for that one) are just some of the many names that have been used for me over the years.

However this year, while living and working at a Ski Resort in Victoria (Australia) a new nickname was born and that nickname was slightly different to my other names in that it was born from my own stupidity.

That nickname was Josh.

SNOW IN AUSTRALIA (YES! REALLY)

If you are from UK like me then you may be surprised to read that I worked at a snow season in Australia. Like most other people I assumed that Australia was always hot and never cold or windy and I now wonder if they (Australia Tourist Board) put out this vibe on purpose to get us all to visit. For anyone who has been to Australia outside of Summer or even those who have been to Melbourne at any time of year (just one day will be enough to witness the schizophrenic infamous Melbourne weather) will know that it does in fact get cold and you will even need a coat at times! That said, still many are shocked to find that Australia has not one but five major Ski resorts. Even more surprising is Australia actually receives more snow per year than Switzerland. Take that for a fact. I have many more Australian Ski facts than that up my sleeve (May have written the resort staff newsletter for a while).

In case you’re still not convinced and shouting ‘pics or it didn’t happen!’ at your screen, well here’s a pretty picture of Snow on an Australian Mountain.

A WHOLE NEW LIFESTYLE

There are some things that ski seasons are known for, especially in Australia. Exercise, extreme levels of physical fitness, the great outdoors and healthy living.. are not any of them. Here it was much more about shots, club nights, fried food, wine, beers, parties, pre parties, after parties, jugs of beers and fancy dress costumes with a little skiing or riding in between for good measure. I saw some people who instead of ‘Apres’ Ski preferred to indulge in before, after, during and ‘instead of’ ski. Let’s just say it was not the healthiest of environments, although you wouldn’t know that from looking at my instagram where I would post pictures of beautiful snowy scenery or the few times I was on a chairlift.

So as usual, social media was telling a different story and my evenings out barely made it to snapchat let alone facebook and for good reason too.  There was even one morning after a particularly colourful night out, where I was so overwhelmed by it all that I ended up phoning a helpline.  This then turned out to not be a helpline at all, just a woman who worked in an office and I wasn’t in fact overwhelmed but hungover (I think this may be a short story for another day).
So, I fully embraced the culture, enjoying the odd boozey night or two (or sixty) and this leads me up to a certain night where I had perhaps indulged in one glass of wine too many.

I had been out with a few mates at the main bar on the mountain when they called me over to introduce me to a young man who they had been chatting to. I remember at the time that I was feeling slightly hazy so was trying to concentrate really hard on not appearing like I was drunk. On hearing my name being called, I walked over to them in what I hoped was a straight line.

‘Hey Sam, this is Josh’, Matt had said, indicating to the guy in front of me. Okay I had this, I thought, extending my hand politely for a handshake and then completely forgetting how introductions work and my own name simultaneously.

‘Hi, nice to meet you. My name is Josh’, I say using my most sincere tone and then smiling widely. I’m pretty impressed with myself at how sober I sound. The guy in front of me shakes my hand but gives me a funny look. ‘Sorry what is your name?’ He asked, slightly confused.

‘It’s Josh’. I repeat, confidently. Seemingly still thinking that this was my name. Suddenly my friends burst into laughter beside us. I have no idea why.

‘Your name is Josh?’, actual Josh presses. I pause and smile ‘Yeahh’, half listening mostly just wondering how I’m going to keep standing. I continue speaking to Josh who very kindly endulges me in the conversation but the whole duration my friends continue to absolutely uncontrollably wet themselves laughing in the corner. Now and again I apologise to Josh (the other one, not me) for the embarrasment and downright rudeness of my friends and throw them some dirty looks. ‘What are you laughing at?’, I hiss. They won’t tell me and continue to cry with laughter until eventually Josh leaves and I turn to ask them what was so funny. ‘You said your name was JOSH’, Matt splutters, still laughing. ‘Ohhhhhhhh’, I realise and then remember that yes I had completely forgotten my own name and had used his name as my own instead. Hey at least drunk me was creative!

I DON’T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT MY REPUTATION (EXCEPT I REALLY DO!)

The following week I was in work when one of the managers who works off mountain had come up to the resort for a catch up. We got into a conversation about drinking and I quip that I should stay away from the vino up here as I like it a bit too much. (I’ve since been told on good terms that the altitude gets you drunk quicker so that’s my new excuse and I’m sticking to it). ‘Yeah that doesn’t surprise me at all. What with your reputation!’, the manager had laughed. The blood drains my face and I turn cold. My reputation? Had she heard about the Josh story? She didn’t even work or live on the mountain – so how could she know? I definitely would have to stop drinking altogether if this had gotten out. I mean I introduced myself to someone using their name for Christ’s sake.

I’m stuttering. ‘Ohhhh. Yeah. About that.. so I erm’, I’m grasping for something to say. ‘Yeah I’m pretty bad with names’. Confused, she carries on regardless, ‘Yeah the Scottish! They love a drink don’t they?’. ‘Oh, the reputation of my people? God yeah we are mad for it!’, I say slightly uneasy that I had just thrown the whole of Scotland under the proverbial bus while also feeling extremely relieved that the manager was judging me on my heritage and not on actual very recent events. I’d never been so happy to be stereotyped! ‘Yeah. The Scottish!’, I continue, ‘What are we like eh?’. I shake my head and chuckle to myself. My ‘reputation’ was safe (although I realise this is a mute point now I’ve gone and blogged about it) and better yet my new alter ego ‘Josh’ could live to see another day.


Welcome to Australia 

‘WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO MOVE TO AUSTRALIA?’

The above question was directed at me by a Dutch girl on the shuttle bus that was taking uspective hostels. I was naively unprepared for the question. ‘I’m 30’, I offered, ‘If I don’t do it now, I’ll never be able to’. It was half true and it was appropriate for the setting. I didn’t want to make things awkward.

That particular question has come up many times since that day and even now I struggle to answer it. Up until a few months before I came to Australia I’d never been interested in moving to the other side of the world. I was more focussed on creative projects or furthering my career in London. The truth is that when my brother passed away in 2015, I was left with a very modest amount of money that enabled me to afford to do something that I’d never have been able to afford on my wage in London. My brother gave me more in life than he probably ever knew and I needed to do something with the money that would have made him proud. Furthermore I was grieving and even though I had recently landed my dream job in a career I had worked so hard for, the monotony of the daily routine was getting to me. Life was becoming predictable and even though I’d had such a turbulent year the last thing I wanted was comfort or routine. I wanted needed to go on an adventure.

This was why answering ‘Why did you decide to move to Australia?’ with the truth wasn’t exactly a great way to kickstart the holiday mood.

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY

I had arrived in Australia just an hour before the conversation on the shuttle bus, where I had quickly collected my luggage from the carousel and walked through the terminal ready for sunshine and warmth to greet me.

I was instead met with a monsoon.

Of course my one and only rain jacket was buried deep in one of my suitcases and me being me, I couldn’t remember which one.

My mind cast back to a rather popular movie, The Matrix. “You choose the blue case, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You choose the yellow case, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes”.

I started opening the blue case and frantically unpacked everything in the middle of the airport. Once I had fully displayed all my personal items to the world, I realised that I had in fact packed it in the yellow case instead. Ah, the small yellow case that was bursting at the seams. The one that I’d had to sit on while my best friend Hollie zipped it up before I left London. I glanced outside. It was pouring and I would get soaked. I was going in. 

‘You okay there?’, enquired a lady who was sitting across from where I stood. ‘Yup’, I replied even though I was sweating profusely, flustered and now trying to open my yellow case yet finding the zip had become completely stuck. ‘What you looking for?’, She asked while I engage in a game of tug of war with my zip. ‘Well’, I said, struggling, ‘my rain jacket is in here somewhere..’, as I gave it another big yank.
‘Oh I wouldn’t worry about that! By the time you get it out. The rain will have stopped!’. As you can probably guess, as soon as she finished her sentence the zip finally unlatched and my case exploded open. ‘Ah well I’ve got it now’. I reply, quickly rummaging through my contents and pulling it out, ‘thanks though!’.

Then, trying to be as smooth as possible, knowing I now had an audience,I carefully tucked my belongings back in, gently closed the lid and tried to gracefully rezip my case. Now of course, it wasn’t that simple. It had taken my weight to close it originally so logic dictated it was going to take the same again now. I tried to be as elegant as possible.. perching on one corner in a lady like manner and trying to pull the zip round but it wasn’t quite working. ‘Do you need a hand?’, The lady asked, seemily amused. Would this lady just go already? ‘Ohh oh no no no,, I got this’, I smiled. Even though I most definitely did not got this. I pushed down harder. ‘I can help you!’, she continued. The next thing I know the lady is sitting on the other side of my case so close we are practically sitting on top of each other. Well they did say aussies were friendly. ‘I’ll sit and you push’, she commanded. So I obeyed, jumped off the case and tried to push it shut. ‘Pushhhhh!’, she instructed, loudly. That’s it. Keep going, almost there! 

REINFORCEMENTS

Would you like a hand?’, enquired a gentleman who happened to be passing by. 

‘No no we’re fine. Absolutely fine’. I flustered. 

‘Actually’, said the lady, ‘could you grab that other side?’. By now I could feel many eyes on us from around the airport. The man pushed down the other corner. The lady shimmied her bottom on top. I pulled on the zip. And suddenly. Presto! It zipped! Case closed!

‘Thanks so much’, I had said to my new friends and raised my hand in excitement hoping they would reciprocate in the traditional high five manner.  They didn’t. ‘Oh look’ the woman exclaimed, indicating outside. ‘I told you it would stop raining!’

She was right. I tied my now useless rain jacket around my waist, thanked the woman and man profusely and hurried off to catch a ride into the city. This is when I ended up in the shuttle bus trying to dodge questions about why I was there. 

JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF SYDNEY

As the bus dropped people off, bit by bit, the neighbourhoods stated to change from iconic CBD sights (where the Dutch girl said her goodbyes) to nice neighbourhoods to so so neighbourhoods and then suddenly shifted to what I imagined the bronx to look like. You know before it became up and coming back in the days when JLo was still growing up there. Each hostel we stopped at was deteriorating in quality and I was starting to feel concerned when the bus turned down a dirty street with graffiti down one side. Not the kind of graffiti I would later would see in Fitzroy either.


IMG_0741No. Not like this beauty in Melbourne. This Sydney street just had the word SLUZzz written in numerous places.

The bus stopped.

‘Please don’t say my name, please don’t say my name’, I repeated to myself.

‘Samantha, this is your stop!’, called the bus driver. My heart sank and I looked down at my paper print out of my booking and then back at the hostel. They looked completely different. They also had different names. Was that even legal?

‘Hi, I’m staying here tonight’, I said to the man behind the counter once I entered. ‘My booking reference is… ‘. ‘Too early’, he interrupted. ‘Come back at one’. ‘Oh I was just wondering if I could store my bags or….’ ‘You can store them there’ he said, indicating to a pile of bags lying next to the open entrance. The entrance that leads directly onto the dodgy street. ‘Ohh.. errrm’, I was trying to think what to say but my mind was hazy. I’d been travelling for 24 hours. ‘You can go away for a while and come back later’, he offers.

ONE NIGHT IN HELL

‘I think I’ll just wait here until check in’, I told him and plonked myself on the tiny chair in front of the counter, next to the luggage and logged into to the wifi. If there’s one thing that will defuse a stressful situation for me – it’s free wifi.
When my room was eventually ready I lugged my cases up the three flights of stairs and opened the door to the room. There were clothes, suitcases and dirty items everywhere. Three guys had been living there for a while. They didn’t speak English. I wanted to cry but pulled myself together and headed downstairs. ‘I can’t say here for the month’, I said to the man who had served me earlier, my voice wobbling. ‘I can stay tonight.. but I need to move out tomorrow’.

‘I get it’, said the man who had been previously dismissive. He obviously knew the place was a dump. I mean he had eyes and a sense of smell after all. ‘Look, tell you what. Go have a walk towards this road and check out the hotels in person. I’ll contact the agent you booked through and arrange a refund’. Which is exactly what I went on to do.

ONWARDS AND UPWARDS

I survived the night and the next morning I braved the hostel kitchen to make myself some toast with Vegemite. Well, when in Rome! As they say. Although I was less in Rome and more in the roughest part of Sydney.

A lovely South American guy sat down beside me. ‘Why did you decide to come to Australia?’, he asked halfway through our conversation. ‘I wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone’ I said, which was again partly true and had certainly been the theme over the last 24 hours. ‘And you?’, I asked. ‘I had a very difficult year last year’, he explained, openly. ‘I see this as a fresh start’.

It was in that moment I felt like my journey had truly began. Here I was connecting with someone from another part of the world who had his own reasons for being there and his own troubles to reflect on. We all have our reasons for leaving our loved ones and travelling miles away from home and sometimes you might choose to share them and sometimes you might not, but I was proud that I was doing something. I knew my brother would be proud of me too. A year and a half after losing him I don’t spend a day where I don’t miss him being in this world but the fact I’m exploring it bit by bit in his memory, makes it that little bit more bearable to deal with.

I stepped out of that awful hostel with my luggage ready to move to my new one. Later that day I would be starting my new job and I was feeling hopeful. As I stepped outside the warmth hit my face and I could see blue skies and sunshine (in between the crack den style houses). It was a beautiful day. ‘Ahh’, I said to myself, taking it all in, ‘Welcome to Australia!’.

Byron Bay and the Foot Tickler

STRANGE THINGS HAPPEN IN BYRON BAY

First of all, let me start by saying that Byron Bay, in New South Wales on the East Coast of Australia, is a very place nice indeed. Its chilled out vibe, beautiful beach, gorgeous people, awesome cafes and quirky shops all add to it being a very enjoyable place to visit. I had a great time there.

However my trip to this laid back beach town was interesting for another reason entirely. Perhaps the atmosphere in Bryon is so relaxed, people react to it by doing strange things.

I guess I will never know if what happened to me happened to others, or if it was a once off.

‘YOUR COUSIN AND HIS WIFE MET IN BYRON BAY’

A few weeks earlier I had clicked on my Facebook notifications to discover the above comment from my auntie. It was added in response to a photo I’d uploaded to my Facebook page earlier that day.

The photo in question had not been taken in Byron Bay nor featured anyone that I would one day end up getting married to.


Now I do love Rob (pictured above) but I am not in love with him and nor is he with me. To use a word that is used very regularly here in Australia, we are what is known as ‘mates’. Or for the truly initiated amongst us, ‘maaates’.

A ONE WAY TICKET TO AUSTRALIA = A ONE WAY TICKET TO LOVE 

The assumption that I would find true love in Australia was not a new occurrence.

From the moment I announced I was leaving for a backpacking lifestyle Down Under everyone was keen to chip in with the notion that I’d probably never return because I’d find the Aussie love of my life over there just like their son, cousin or barmaid’s daughter had done.

People saw a one way ticket to Australia as being a one way ticket to love. It seemed all you had to do was step off the plane onto Australian soil and you will find some fella standing there ready to whisk you off your feet and make you his Sheila. The man will also look something like this (which coincidentally looks a bit like Rob now I think about it).


Now I don’t know why he’s topless nor why he would be allowed to bring his surfboard with him onto the airport tarmac. Regardless, none of this happened and I was greeted with the following sight instead:

No topless surfer waiting for me and it turned out that the man in yellow worked there and was not my husband to be… which got slightly awkward when I ran up to him and threw my legs round his waist.

STRANGE HAPPENINGS 

Fast forward a couple weeks later to my first evening in Byron when I get talking to a lad in my hostel room from the North. Of England that it. The Pom (as they are affectionately known here) seemed on the shy side but was friendly enough. We shared a brief dialogue before I turned in for bed.

Later than night I woke up in the top bunk I had inhabited and quickly realised I needed to wee. I peered down at the bunk below where the northern lad was sleeping and then started to climb down the bunk as quietly as possible so not to wake him. Three rungs down I noticed his hand slide out of his cover and move towards my foot. Then I felt it. An absolutely undeniable sensation. My foot was being tickled! This stranger had decided it would be a totally normal thing to start tickling my foot. I laughed. Mostly because I was being ticked and thats what it does to you and partially because I was shocked.

A GREAT ESCAPE

I quickly made my way down the ladder, stumbled out the room and got myself to the toilet. By this point I was desperate! If there is one thing that tickling does well it’s increasing your urgency to pee. ‘So that was pretty weird’, I thought to myself, still musing on it when I reentered the room.

As soon as I started making my way up the ladder, the tickling hand returned prompting me to get up that ladder faster than I have ever got up a ladder in my life. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the absurdity of it all.

The next morning the feet tickler and I got slightly better acquainted and in the light of day and without the tickling going on, which I decided not to mention, things seemed normal enough. Perhaps he was a Sleep Tickler? Perhaps it was just a joke? I pushed these thoughts to the side and soon we were heading to go to the beach together. We had a swim, chatted about travelling then ended up at a bar where we enjoyed an evening sans tickling or inappropriate touching of any kind.


NOT AGAIN

That night I woke up around 2am again and needed to go to the toilet instantly. (Sam: stop drinking liquids past 10pm). I put my foot onto the top rung and started to make my way down the ladder. As I got to the third rung I felt a finger on my foot.

No, he wasn’t was he?

I looked down and could see his hand squirming below me followed by the unmistakeable ‘tickle tickle tickle’ gesture that you might perform on a three year old. Here I was again in this dangerous situation of needing the toilet and having to stand the sensation of having my feet tickled. If this guy wasn’t careful I would soon be accidentally piddling all over where he slept. Oh god. What if that was the point? Perhaps this guy had something in common with the current US president!

Not wanting to stick around to find out, I leapt off the ladder onto the floo. Landing with all the grace of a baby hippopotamus, I pegged it to the bathroom.

I sat on the dunny (another Australian term for you which means toilet – who said this blog wasn’t educational?) and pondered. The tickling had amused me the night before but now I found it a bit weird. Why does he morph into a devious foot tickler once darkness falls? Was this some kind of flirting? I had no idea. As I made my way back to the room I could see him in the darkness patiently waiting to attack. ‘Do not do it’, I whispered sternly, not realising until that moment that you could whisper sternly. With that I quickly pulled myself into the safety of the top bunk.

LOOKING FOR THE LIGHTHOUSE

Trying to avoid him as much as possible the next day, I opted to go find the Byron Bay Lighthouse. I also did what everyone does when weird stuff happens. Naturally I texted my friends about it.

IMG_0733.PNGFound it!

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS BEFORE?

I’ve just realised that the combination of lighthouses, weird goings on and being in Australia is all very ‘Round the Twist’ isn’t it? More to the point have you ever.. ever felt like this? When strange things happen and you’re going round the twist? (Points for all who recognise the theme tune). You may have also noticed that my friend’s nickname on messenger is ‘Solid Bloke’ – this is because he always gives the best advice and most thought out responses as you can clearly see from above.

IMG_0735

MODERN CLUEDO

That night while I was getting some shut eye, the foot tickler came into the room and shouted ‘boo!’ before trying to tickle my feet again. As I was half asleep I instinctively reacted by grabbing the nearest thing to me and launching it at his head region. The nearest thing to me turned out to be a coat hanger. I’m not particularly proud of this moment and I want to assure you that I do not condone violence of any kind. However in my defence I was reacting in the moment and as far as coat hangers go, it wasn’t a very dangerous one. After it bounced (gently) off his head he giggled and said ‘aww don’t go to sleep!’. I reacted to this by turning round and promptly going to sleep.

IMG_0390

It was Backpacker Blonde, in the hostel dorm with a coat hanger.

CHECKING OUT

The next day I saw him downstairs as I was checking out the hostel. ‘Leaving me already?’ he asked, seemingly oblivious to how I felt about his tickling activities. ‘I hope I didn’t annoy you too much’ he joked. With a deep breath I decided I needed to address the proverbial elephant in the room.

‘Well I mentioned the feet tickling thing to a few people.. and the general consensus was that it was a bit.. you know.. creepy’, I informed him hoping that this would deter him from future tickling sprees on some other unsuspecting backpackers. ‘Oh but that’s just because they don’t know me!’ he said, ‘if they knew me they would think that’s just cheeky me being the silly sausage that I am’.

And with that I left to get my bus. ‘Have you met the man of your dreams yet?’ my auntie commented on a new picture of mine. Well I certainly didn’t find the man of my dreams in Byron Bay but I did have my feet tickled several times by a northern guy who self identifies as a silly sausage.. if that counts?

ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL 

I suppose that’s the thing about travelling… all sorts of weird and wonderful moments will happen when you start living outside of your comfort zone and outwith your normal routine. A new hostel may introduce you to the love of your life as it did for my cousin or it could introduce you to a foot tickler you will probably never see again.

I hope people realise that travelling is not about finding someone to fall in love with. It’s as cheesy as learning to fall back in love with who you are as a person.

Each new town you navigate, each new friend you make, each lighthouse you find and each strange social situation you dodge, your confidence will grow and you learn new parts of yourself you didn’t think you could find out, 30 years in.

It’s about collecting those moments, the great and the terrible and everything in between. The good, the bad and the tickly. 

Who is Sam of Sam’s Travelling Shorts?

GO ON! WHO ARE YA?

For those who have stumbled across my blog ‘Sam’s Travelling Shorts’ and are thinking ‘Who is she? Where did they find her?’

I can answer that for you.

I’m a Scottish born, London grown traveller who’s been trotting around Australia and New Zealand for the last year and a bit.   Recently I started writing all about my Oceanic adventures and decided to start sharing stories from other places too.

I enjoy writing, travelling, taking photographs and maging people laugh.  Sometimes I get myself into less than flattering situations.  


The above picture was taken by my extremely patient mother while we were by Lake Hāwea in the South Island of New Zealand.

Mum took many photos of me at this stop so I could obtain the ‘right’ one for my instagram.  As you can imagine – this one (which I call ‘attacked by wind’)  did not make the cut.

WHY ARE YOU TRAVELLING?

Well first off I should inform you that I don’t always travel with my mum.  For the most part I fall into the female solo traveller category and I have been away from the UK for over a year.  This prompts my adventurous 60-odd parents to hop on a plane and visit me when they can. For clarity, my parents are both in their 60s. I do not have over 60 individual parents.

Although physically I’ve never been further away from them, the reason why I left the UK has brought me and my parents closer together than ever.  Losing my big brother David in 2015 was the catalyst that prompted me to quit my career in London.  It was the loss and grief that led me to book that one way ticket in the first place.  I’m extremely fortunate that my parents backed my decision to travel.  It can’t be easy to lose one child and then have the other move to the other side of the earth.  However they love hearing my stories and seeing me live my life to the maximum.  I love that they back me in everything I decide to do.

MET ANY NICE GUYS YET?

Nope! (Well yes, but not ‘The One’)

The downside to my newly found life is that at 31 people constantly ask me when I’m going to settle down with that all important someone.  In truth this is something I’d always envisioned myself having by age 30 but right now I’m so happy exploring the world that I’m not worried about ensuring I take on that more traditional lifestyle by a certain age.  Perhaps if I met an awesome guy that would change (note: he would have to be ridiculously awesome, I’m not a settler in any sense of the word), but hopefully he and any potential kidlets could come with me on this nomadic journey too.

I’ve never been one to do things the “normal” way, so I don’t expect to start now.  In this life there’s no point marching to anyone’s drum other than your own.  Or even marching to a drum at all, for that matter.

Besides, I watched Bridget Jones Baby on a recent flight and she doesn’t end up with the man of her dreams and a baby until the age of 43, so I’m going to base my future life on that film entirely, thanks very much!

SO WHAT’S WITH THE SHORTS?

I’m so glad you asked!

Now you know a little about who I am and why I am travelling, I should probably explain those rather colourful shorts that you may have seen at the top of the blog? Well there’s a bit of a backstory to those.  It all starts with the fact that before I started my journey I was a bit, well, fat.

Overweight and unfit; I drank too much, ate too much and didn’t do nearly enough exercise.  This continued into the first 6 months of travelling until one day I decided enough was enough.

I became determined to become a healthy weight for my height.

THE FAT FARM

Around the same time as my epiphany I started my 3 month rural work in Queensland.  As you may be aware; to qualify for a second year working holiday in Australia you must complete 3 months or 88 days doing farm work or fruit picking.  As a result I ended up at a lovely family owned cattle farm about an hour from Mundubbera.  If you’ve never heard of Munduberra, then exactly. It was super remote.

I realised that this was too good an opportunity not to utilise to my advantage and decided to treat it like my own personal fat camp.  Being so isolated, there was no way I could nip to the shop to pick up a snack. Plus all of the food on the farm was home cooked (by me as part of the role) and healthy. Not only this but there was no access to bars, takeaways or restaurants and with little to do, I spent most of my time free time exercising. I soon lost two stone and have managed to keep it off ever since due to my eating habits and outlook changing dramatically over the course of three months.

THATS TO DO WITH SHORTS, HOW EXACTLY?

So that doesn’t exactly explain the shorts right? Well, before I came to the farm I was staying with my friend Maddie in Brisbane when we decided we should pop into an Op Shop (charity shop for you Brits) so I could pick up cheap clothes that would inevitably get ruined on the farm.  We had barely stepped one foot into the shop when there was an announcement that the store would be closing.  In a panic I grabbed the nearest thing to me which was these absolutely spectacular tie-die, muilti coloured short shorts and quickly took them to the counter.

It wasnt until I got to the farm and tried them on that I realised that I could barely get them over one leg.  I quickly realised I’d bought shorts that were about 2-4 sizes too small.

VISUAL MOTIVATION

I decided to place the shorts on a chair next to my front door in the little cottage I resided in while at the farm.  They would serve as a constant reminder of the fact I needed to lose weight and every now and again I’d try them on to see if they would fit me.  For a very long time, they didn’t.

Then in my last month at the farm I decided to give them another try.  I couldn’t believe it but they actually fitted me. They were tight, but they fitted. I was so happy I almost cried. To this day not only do they still fit me but there’s actually room to spare.

THE REST, AS THEY SAY, IS HISTORY

So naturally those shorts come everywhere with me now.  I’ve not worn them in public (yet) but they serve as a constant reminder of just how far I’ve come. A colourful symbol of my travelling journey and my weight loss journey too.

Not to be confused with ‘lucky’ shorts, these shorts are a pair of ‘what happens when you work really hard’ shorts.  They are also the perfect emblem for this blog.  What was a disastrous choice in the shop, turned into a positive motivator. That is absolutely what I am about, taking the negative things in life and seeing how I can turn them into positives.

When I decided I was going to start writing short stories about my travels or ‘travelling shorts’ if you will, I instantly knew that those multi coloured hot pants would need a starring role.

AND THAT’S ALL FOLKS! (WELL FOR THIS ENTRY AT LEAST)

There we have it. Who I am, why I’m travelling and the deal with those shorts!

Do stay tuned for more truths behind the photographs and how, in the face of it all, you can still learn to take positives from the negatives.