38 countries in 2.5 years

I added up all the countries we visited in the two and a half years we were away from Australia and the total came to 38. (Or a nicer, neater 40 if you could England, Scotland and Wales separately. ;) Here is the grand rundown!

38 countries - 17% of the world

(Cities listed are those we stayed overnight for one or more nights and don’t include day trips or other places we visited on the way from one to another.)

JULY – DECEMBER 2010

Before settling in the UK we spent almost half a year travelling around Europe. This was something we’d always wanted to do and we thought once we’d achieved it we’d feel a sense of satisfaction and completion – gotten it out of our system, so to speak. Buuut, if anything, it only made us want more.

  • SINGAPORE
  • THE UK: London, Bristol, Wales
  • THE NETHERLANDS: Rotterdam, Amsterdam
  • BELGIUM: Brussels, Bruges
  • FRANCE: Tours, Toulouse
  • SPAIN: Barcelona
  • PORTUGAL: Lisbon, Porto, Faro
  • SPAIN: Seville, Granada
  • GIBRALTAR
  • MOROCCO: Fez, the Sahara desert, Dades Gorge, Marrakesh
  • ITALY: Milan, Levanto, Rome, Sant Agnello
  • CROATIA: Zadar, Mukinje, Split, Dubrovnik, Zagreb
  • MONTENEGRO: Kotor
  • BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA: Mostar, Sarajevo
  • HUNGARY: Budapest
  • AUSTRIA: Vienna
  • CZECH REPUBLIC: Prague
  • POLAND: Krakow
  • GERMAN: Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg

(flickr collection)

Total travel time: 21 weeks
Total cost including all transport, accommodation, food and expenses: ~AU$16,000 per person

2011 – JULY 2012

We then lived and worked in London for 19 months but we tried to squeeze in travel whenever we could. After all, it’s easier to pop over to Paris for a few days from London than is is from Melbourne, so we had to make the most of it while we were over there! As well as weekends and day trips to various towns around the UK (and a week each driving around Scotland and Cornwall) we also visited:

JULY – DECEMBER 2012

By this time I’d started this blog and did my best to post at least once for every country we visited. If you kept up on this second trip by travelling along virtually with us via this blog, thank you and I hope you enjoyed the ride!

(flickr collection)

Total travel time: 20 weeks
Total cost including all transport, accommodation, food and expenses: ~AU$18,300 per person

(I feel like we actually travelled more cheaply in 2012 than we did in 2010 but I think the reason we spent more money is because the second trip included some particularly expensive countries (Scandinavia, Japan, etc) and the Trans-Mongolian leg cost a lot because it was privately organised tour and we also had to secure three pricey visas to undertake it.)

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My experience with Android

I poopooed the iPhone when it first came out but have to admit I was a convert as soon as I played around with Alex’s 3GS – I bought my own within 24 hours of doing so. I’ve been a fan ever since and was embarrassingly devastated when I lost my beloved 3GS a couple of weeks ago. I bought a low-end Samsung Galaxy model to tide me over for the rest of our travels, just so I have something for basic communication when Alex and I are separated. (The shop didn’t actually sell any non-smart phones so I just bought the cheapest smart phone they had. It cost less than half the price of my first ever mobile, a good old Nokia 3310. ;) Anyway, doing that has given me a chance to actually play around with Android for the first time.

Now for a big fat disclaimer:

  • I’m certainly no technical expert.
  • This is not a review of Android, or Samsung phones.
  • I understand I’m using a low-spec phone with an old version of Android.
  • Therefore this is not, nor is it intended to be, a fair, equitable or comprehensive comparison of Android vs iOS.
  • ALL it is, is a list of things I do and don’t like about using this phone with this version of Android.
  • This is something of a concession on my part, given that otherwise I never would have given Android a look in.
  • Both operating systems have different things to offer which will appeal to different people, it all depends on what you want in a phone.
  • I guess my ultimate point is: I can now better appreciate why people like Android phones and would prefer them… but I’m still going to buy an iPhone 5 when I get home. ;P

If you’re after a comparison between Android and iOS you can find plenty of proper articles on the subject – this is certainly not one of them!

Things I like about using Android:

  • Easy sync with Google. Everything I do (email, contacts, calendar) is Google-based, so all I had to do when I turned the phone on for the first time was log into my Google account and everything synced automatically. (Of course I had all of this on my iPhone too, but it did take a little longer to set up.)
  • The mail app displays my Gmail labels and I can add and remove them from the phone.
  • I can see all the places I’ve starred on Google Maps (from my computer or on the phone) in one view. (As opposed to only one pin at a time on the iPhone.)
  • Downloadable Google maps for offline use. (I’m hoping when iOS6 gets rid of the native Google Maps app Google will bring out their own that lets you do both of these things on the iPhone.)
  • The map compass seems faster and more reliable.
  • Swype. (Especially since the screen is so small on this little phone that I usually miss the letters I’m aiming for if I try to punch them in individually.)
  • Automatic notification when there’s an update available for an installed app.
  • Wifi availability notification is more subtle and useful.
  • A discreet ‘R’ above the phone signal reminds you roaming.
  • There’s no barrage of pop ups about the fact you have data roaming turned off when you open your email or maps.
  • Links automatically open in the main browser, not a slow half-assed browser built into the app.
  • Widgets.
  • Drawing a pattern to unlock.
  • Having a back button.

Things I don’t like:

  • The screen is so small and low res it makes Alex’s 3GS look like it has a retina display. XD (I know this because it’s a low end phone and nothing to do with Android!)
  • Scrolling can be quite laggy (again, I’m sure this is the phone).
  • The OS design is not as intuitive.
  • There’s no easy backup option as far as I’m aware (eg to a computer or an equivalent of iCloud).
  • You get too much information about each app and in the settings. (I know some people would argue this is a good thing, but because I’m not that techy I’m happy for all this to be hidden behind the scenes like it is in iOS.)
  • No sync with iTunes. (Again, I know many people would consider this as a plus, but I love the way I have everything organised in iTunes.)
  • The SD card dismounts itself randomly, tells me off for doing it (which I didn’t) and then any apps saved to it disappear until the issue is fixed (normally with time or a restart).
  • It’s not obvious if you’ve closed a program or if it’s still running (except for Skype).
  • Can’t zoom in on emails for a more accurate copy and paste.
  • The touch screen buttons sometimes just simply don’t work, no matter how many areas you tap in (once more, no doubt due the fact it’s a cheap phone).

Challenge: A to Z of Travel

Two posts in as many days? What’s going on! Travel blogger Andrew Petcher inspired me to partake in the same A to Z of Travel challenge he shared on his blog, so here we go!

A: Age at which you went on your first trip abroad

22, when Alex and I spent 3 weeks during the cherry blossom season in Japan visiting Tokyo, Gero, Tsumago, Kyoto, Okinawa and Osaka. I had an amazing time and my only regret is that I didn’t keep a travel journal. I’ve done so on almost every other trip I’ve ever taken, from when my Dad and grandparents drove my brother and I to various parts of Australia to every day since we left Australia in July 2010, I guess I was so overwhelmed by all the sights and activities we encountered in Japan I didn’t have the time or energy to capture them in writing, which is a real shame.

Asakusa, Tokyo

B: Best foreign beer you’ve had and where

Probably Suntory Malts in Japan, although I also greatly enjoyed Sagres in Portugal.

Photo cheat - if the glass is correct this is Super Bock ;P

C: Cuisine

This is a tricky one because one of my greatest joys is trying different foods in different places. We enjoyed some amazing food in Budapest, but we also found the food excellent in Singapore because of the variety.

Indonesian dinner, Singapore

D: Destinations, favourite, least favourite, and why

Favourite is another tricky one! If I had to pick just one I think I’d choose Croatia for the stunning beaches, tasty cheap food and drink, lovely people and beautiful national parks. Following very closely behind would be Portugal, Budapest and Japan.

Least favourite would be Morocco. We saw some amazing things in Morocco but in the end the country wore me down. I didn’t like standing out like a sore thumb – you can’t move or look at anything without someone jumping on you doing their best to part you from your money, and unfortunately I found I can’t really copy with that. I felt like I always had to have my guard up and as a result couldn’t relax, so on the whole I didn’t find that trip particularly enjoyable.

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”

The first Christmas market I ever experienced was in Budapest and it was simply magical. I think I wandered around the whole evening with my facial expression alternating between a look of wonder and a beaming great smile.

Budapest Christmas market

F: Favourite mode of transportation

Definitely train! You can arrive at the station shortly before the train does, just hop on when it appears, then sit back and relax and watch the view go by without the stress of navigating maps and traffic, or wasting time getting to and from airports hours before your flight. There’s a great passage by Alain de Botton in The Art of Travel which says:

“Of all modes of transport, the train is perhaps the best to aid thought. … Every time the mind goes blank, having hit on a difficult idea, the flow of…consciousness is assisted by the possibility of looking out of the window, locking on to an object and following it for a few seconds, until a new coil of thought is ready to form and can unravel without pressure.”

19:18 to Harwich

Overnight ferries are great too – two of the best days I enjoyed in 2010 were early arrivals into Rotterdam (ferry from the UK) and Zadar (ferry from Italy) where the early morning start gave us a longer than usual day to enjoy.

G: Greatest feeling while travelling

Possibly planning…! I’m an organisational nerd and while it might sound silly, I think I get the greatest thrill from planning an upcoming trip. Apart from that it’s probably the moment you arrive in a foreign place and explore the area near your accommodation, trying out your “hellos” and “thank yous” in the local language, and visit a supermarket to see what kinds of juice, chocolate and beers you can get there.

Map and scroggin

I also find the first time I work out how to use the local bus network is a nice moment of quiet triumph. :)

H: Hottest place you’ve travelled to

Since it’s gone past 40°C more than once in my home town of Melbourne, the coldest place I’ve been is probably a more pertinent question. ;) That would be Poland in early December when it reached -14°C.

This is snow

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and why

Alex fell ill during our big Europe trip in 2010 and while we bought medicine in each country as we passed through Spain, Morocco and Italy, by the time we reached Croatia he still had a horrible cough that simply wasn’t going away. So, we called our travel insurance company who advised us to visit a local doctor and retain all receipts for reimbursement. When we asked Mark, the owner of the guesthouse we were staying in Dubrovnik, where to find an English speaking doctor he looked at us for a moment then said, “Come on, I’ll take you.” He locked up the building (it was the low season and we were the only guests) and walked us up to his car. He drove us to a nearby hospital where Alex was able to walk straight in and see a doctor immediately (and this was on a Saturday) who prescribed some antibiotics and cough medicine. As Mark walked us out of the hospital Alex asked where he was supposed to pay and Mark just smiled, shook his head and patted Alex on the back. Mark then drove us to a nearby pharmacist and waited while Alex had his prescriptions filled, then took us back to our accommodation. Absolutely brilliant.

J: Journey that took the longest

The train we took from Krakow to Berlin in December 2010. It was supposed to take 10 hours and ended up taking 13 due to snow.

Sunset on the way to Berlin

K: Keepsake from your travels

My travel journals and photos are the best record of my travels and pretty much the only keepsakes I have from our 5 month trip in 2010. (We were backpacking and didn’t want to accumulate too much stuff along the way.) Pretty much the only things we bought were due to necessity, such as warmer clothes as the weather turned colder. I bought a tunic in Budapest with owls on it which has turned out to be my most complimented article of clothing. I rather like the black zip up jacket, striped arm warmers and purple beanie I bought in Sorrento, Italy, as I wore them almost the whole time we were in Croatia so they’re bound up in fond memories. I also like that the bath towel I currently use is a cheap beach towel Alex bought for me when we wanted to go to the beach in Barcelona. :)

Said towel in use in Portugal

L: Let-down sight, where and why

Before we set off to spend the second half of 2010 in Europe I asked most people I knew what their favourite place in Europe was to help plan our itinerary. Lots of people said Barcelona so I had high expectations when we arrived there. I liked certain things about Barcelona, most of all Gaudi’s architecture, but overall I found the city somewhat disappointing. Probably partly due to the overly high expectation, and partly due to the fact I’m not interested in clubbing. :P

M: Moment when you fell in love with travel

My parents and grandparents used to take my brother and I on trips to various parts of Australia when we were growing up and I think it must have given me a taste for it. I can’t remember ever not enjoying the ideal of travel.

Hello Heathrow!

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in

Quite a tricky one as we’ve stayed in lots of great places! There’s less choice if I take the question literally because we usually choose hostels or guesthouses over hotels but if I had to pick a hotel I’d probably say Hotel Des Abassadeurs in Toulouse, France. It’s only two stars but it’s such a nice family-run place and the owners were so helpful and fun. To answer the question more broadly:

Nicest hostel: Very difficult to narrow down, but probably Majdas in Mostar, Bosnia.
Nicest B&B: Lorgill B&B on the Isle of Skye, Scotland.
Nicest traditional inn: Yunoshimakan in Gero, Japan.
Nicest accommodation in general: Maison 1400 in Paris, France. (Courtesy of Alex’s dad!)

Maison 1400

O: Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking photos of when you travel

I do like taking photos of anything that contrasts well against a beautiful blue sky, whenever that kind of sky is available. ;)

Chapel, Santorini

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where

37 in total from (in the order they appear in my passport): Australia, Japan, Singapore, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Greece, Montenegro, France, UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain and Morocco. (There are stamps from a couple of others but I can’t make them out!)

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where

I can’t think of anywhere that was overwhelmingly quirkly, but some places that might fall into that general ballpark are the Turtle Museum in Sinagpore, the Cube houses in Rotterdam, Ostrog Monastery in Montenegro, the Typhlological Museum in Zagreb, Memento Park in Budapest and the Wieliczka Salt Mine outside of Krakow in Poland.

Cube houses

R: Recommended sight, event or experience

Ahhh so many to choose from – that’s half the reason I started this blog, so I might eventually get around to listing them all! But if I had to pick one I’d say Bata’s tour of Mostar and its surrounds: it lives up the rave reviews on Hostel World that claim it as a life-changing experience. A close second would be We Hate Tourism Tours “X-Day Trip” of sites around Lisbon.

We Hate Tourism Tours

S: Splurge – something you have no problem forking out money for when travelling

Hmm. I generally have trouble splurging as I’m naturally budget-conscious (that’s the polite way of saying it). I generally find I enjoy something even more if I get it for a bargain price. The only two things I can think of where I did splash out are 1) two nights accommodation at a beautiful onsen in Gero, Japan, and 2) a three day trek from Fes to Marrakech (the best thing we did in Morocco). So I guess if there’s anything I’m willing to splurge on it’s once-in-a-lifetime style experiences.

Camel ride in the Sahara Desert

T: Touristy thing you’ve done

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not in London. It’s awful. Overpriced, dated and tacky. Not recommended!

Giant chair

U: Unforgettable travel memory

I’m going to take my lead from Andrew here and pick a kind of stressful one. I’m going to pull it straight from my journal:

Had a scary moment at the Croatia/Montenegro border though! We stopped and a policeman got on the bus and collected all our passports. He took them away to be processed at a little booth. That was a bit uncomfortable, it being so drilled into me never to let your passport out of your site. But he was in a pretty damn official-looking uniform and there was no doubt it was the border, so, ok.

The scariest part came 10 minutes later, when the bus just drove off, leaving all our passports behind!!

Several people said, “But, our passports,” but there was no explanation from the bus staff. So we spent an agonizing 5 minutes or so driving down the road until we got to another border control point. We stopped there for a while and I wondered whether a new policeman was going to come on board and ask to see our passports – at least we were all going to be in the same boat if that happened!

Aaanyway, finally the bus driver started handing back our passports. I have no idea how they got transferred from the first check point to the second one though. Still – what a relief!

In retrospect I guess it doesn’t seem so scary, but at the time when we didn’t know what was going on I was on the verge of panicking.

Montenegro ticket stubs

V: Visas – how many and for where

Only one at the moment, a Youth Mobility visa which enables me to live and work in the UK.

W: Wine – best glass of wine while travelling and where

The wine I most enjoyed drinking were the carafes of house red we had in Croatia. Cheap, authentic and delicious!

Konoba Stomorica, Zadar

X: eXcellent view and from where

One of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen was from the top of a mountain in Lovćen National Park, Montenegro.

Lovćen National Park, Montenegro

Y: Years spent travelling

The earliest journey I can remember taking was to Tasmania with my Mum (and baby brother?). I’m not sure exactly how old I was then but if my brother was a baby then I would have been about 3 or 4. In a way though I feel like I became a real traveller in 2010 when Alex and I left Australia to explore Europe and base ourselves in the UK with the aim of travelling as much as possibly as long as we stay here.

At Melbourne airport

Z: Zealous sports fans and where

I don’t pay much attention to sport and to be honest the most zealous fans I can remember were back home on Johnston Street in Fitzroy, Melbourne, when Spain won the World Cup in July 2010. There’s a sizeable Spanish community based near Johnston Street and they went crazy when Spain beat Holland.

Your turn!

My 10 favourite European hostels

(And other budget accommodation.)

Where you stay in a town or city has a huge impact on your enjoyment of that destination. I loved the top three places on this list so much I’d recommend visiting just so you can stay there!

10. Hostel Room, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
(Availability and prices at Hostel World or Hostel Bookers)

The best part of Hostel Room is its colourful and relaxed common area which doubles as a cafe/bar also open to the public. They run different theme nights most nights of the week, the staff are friendly and helpful, and they have a cool resident dog called Lexie. :)

9. Residence Rooms, Sarajevo, Bosnia
(Availability and prices at Hostel World or Hostel Bookers)

Cheap rooms in a beautiful, grand building. The communal lounge area is spacious with high ceilings and is filled with big couches and even a grand piano! I believe it’s family run, but either way you end up feeling like a welcome guest in someone’s plush home.

8. Hotel Des Abassadeurs, Toulouse, France
(Availability and prices at Hostel World or Hostel Bookers)

Ambassadeurs is definitely family run, and it’s the best thing about this little budget hotel. The staff are welcoming, funny and incredibly helpful. We didn’t know what to expect from Toulouse but we left wanting more thanks to the excellent recommendations given to us during our stay.

7. Seven Hostel, Sant’Agnello, Italy
(Availability and prices at Hostel World or Hostel Bookers)

Seven Hostel feels like someone just finished building a fancy hotel then decided to fill it with bunk beds. The rooms are clean and airy and the hostel has its own bar/restaurant attached which serves great food (with a discount for guests). We used it as a base to visit Sorrento (within walking distance) and Pompeii (accessible by train).

6. Old Town Hostel, Split, Croatia
(Availability and prices at Hostel World or Hostel Bookers)

Located right in the heart of Split’s old town we had a really lovely time at this hostel. It has a colourful little common room with couches and a big TV hooked up to a stack of movies and it just had a really nice, relaxed vibe, we enjoyed just hanging out. It’s also a stone’s throw away from a wonderful little restaurant (we loved it so much we ate there twice).

5. Kolega Guesthouse, Zadar, Croatia
(Availability and prices at Hostel World)

A beautiful little guesthouse with just three bedrooms run by a nice and helpful guy called Marin. The shared kitchen/lounge area is lovely and we were sad that we were only staying for one night. I think we’ll be back!

4. Het Colettientje B&B, Bruges, Belgium
(Availability and prices at Hostel World)

While a B&B Het Colettientje is cheaper than some of the hostels we stayed in (hello Amsterdam, hello Rome) and Maria is one of the most fantastic B&B hosts we’ve ever had. She prepared fabulous breakfasts for us and and we had a lot of fun brushing up on our patchy Italian in conversation. (Maria was born in The Netherlands but spent much of her life in Italy.) She also gave us lots of great recommendations about what to do and see in town and where to eat delicious food sans tourist prices. Also: incredibly comfortable beds!

3. Lavender Circus, Budapest, Hungary
(Availability and prices at Hostel World or Hostel Bookers)

A great place and a fantastic atmosphere for a super cheap. The hostel sprawls across the top floor of a fabulous old building and the walls, ceiling and shelves are covered in paintings, pictures and knick-knacks. The staff are very friendly and helpful and on arrival they make sure you are armed with a map covered in dozens of recommendations for things to do in town. It might not be for everyone because it feels a little bit like living in a cool share house, but we loved it. The area is quite cool too and the main street nearby has some very cool arty shops.

2. Yes! Hostel, Lisbon, Portugal
(Availability and prices at Hostel World)

Until we stayed at hostel number 1 on this list this was the BEST hostel we’d ever stayed at. Great location, very cool design, excellent facilities, super friendly staff and lovely rooms with big beds including every possible convenience: a sink in the corner, big lockers for your luggage, a privacy curtain around each bunk, a reading light and powerpoint for every bed, even a little shelf to rest your phone/camera on while it’s charging. To top it all off, they host a fantastic €8 home cooked dinner every night. This is a great way to meet other travellers and you get incredible value for money: it includes soup, bread, a main, dessert and three alcoholic drinks. For 8 euro!

1. Hostel Majdas, Mostar, Bosnia
(Availability and prices at Hostel World or Hostel Bookers)

Quite simply The. Best. Hostel. you will ever stay at. Majda is wonderfully welcoming from the moment she picks you up from the station, to offering you coffee and treats while recommending the best things to do in Mostar, to the amazing home cooked breakfasts we didn’t even expect. Her brother Bata is crazy and heaps of fun: his world famous tour is as life changing as all the reviews say. DO IT! Plan to spend much longer than you expect here because you’ll find yourself not wanting to leave. The walls are plastered with letters and drawings from previous guests proclaiming their love for Majda’s and my favourite was one that had a ticket stuck to it with a message that said something like: “This is the ticket I originally had to leave Mostar. Here I am 31 32 33 days later, definitely leaving this time, but I wish I could stay longer!”

A special mention goes to Montenegro Hostel, Kotor, Montenegro. (Availability and prices at Hostel World or Hostel Bookers.) There’s not much choice for hostels in Kotor and to be honest this place probably had the dirtiest shower I’ve ever seen, but it’s right in the heart of the old town, super cheap, and it seemed to be really conducive to making new friends: we travelled on with some of the people we met at Montenegro Hostel and we’re still friends with them now. They also have a great deal with a local cafe for cheap eats and they run a fantastic all day tour of Montenegro which I highly recommend. They have lots of other tour options too (including a day trip to Albania) but if you can only pick one do the Montenegro one: you’ll see the best of the whole country in a single (very full) day.

Packing for long term travel

I didn’t really consider myself a backpacker before we set out on a 5 month trip around Europe, but in the end I chose a backpack over a suitcase for three reasons:

  1. Rolling suitcases are great for floors that are nice and smooth, such as airports. They aren’t so great over the rough surfaces and cobblestone streets you’ll spend most of your time transporting your luggage across.
  2. It’s easier to walk up a flight of stairs with your luggage on your back than it is to lug up a suitcase.
  3. Backpacks are easier to store on luggage racks on trains and buses.

A fourth reason which didn’t become apparent until we were on the road is some hostel rooms have nice big lockers for storing luggage, but even the biggest ones are unlikely to fit suitcases.

At the airport

My travel bags

KATHMANDU INTERLOPER X-PAC V3 (65L)

I bought mine for something like AU$350, about 50% off at one of Kathmandu’s famous (bi-yearly?) sales. It doesn’t look like they sell this particular model any more but they’ve likely replaced it with a newer version. The 65L was the smallest option and it was plenty of space for me. Alex got the 70 or 75L because the 65L didn’t fit his back and I think it was too big; too easy to let it get too heavy – you want to travel as lightly as you can.

The great thing about Kathmandu is it was the only shop I found that had a professional fitting service where someone adjusts all the straps to make sure weight distribution is optimal to protect your back. You can even go home, pack your bag and bring it back in and they’ll readjust everything if necessary. This service is free. You could come back in 3 years time and they’d still do it for you – you can even lend your bag to a friend and they’ll readjust it to fit them.

Whatever you choose, make sure it opens from the long side as well as the top. The long side opening the main one you want (normally a big flap you can unzip and pull back) because it allows access to all parts of your bag in one go. If you only have a top opening (common to hiking packs) you’ll have to pull everything out to get to something you’ve stored at the bottom.

My large pack had three compartments: one in the lid/hood, the main one, and one at the base which I could have unzipped to combine with the main compartment. It was handy to have the base compartment separate though because I used it to keep my shoes and dirty clothes separate from my clean clothes.

SMALL KATHMANDU DAY PACK

This came with the larger pack but I wore it on my front in true backpacker style. (I tried it snapped onto the main pack once and it was way too unbalanced.) I used it to carry any stuff I wanted to access easily (eg book on the bus, chargers/adapters) but left it at the hostel with the main pack whenever we went out. (In the picture above this bag is inside my larger one – I left the one on front with a friend in the UK. Our plan was to settle in the UK after travelling around Europe and I knew this third, inbetween-sized bag would be useful for shorter trips such as weekends away.)

SMALL BLACK ACROSS-THE-BODY BAG

Also from Kathmandu. Lots of pockets, zips and flaps to hide away essentials. I took this bag with me wherever I went and never let it out of my sight (except perhaps when I was showering and Alex looked after it for me). I much prefer across-the-body bags because they keep your arms free and they’re harder for someone to snatch than a shoulder bag. I usually wore mine at the front so I could keep a hand across it, which is daggy but significantly less daggy than walking around with a single small backpack on your front or, worst of all, wearing a bumbag. :P

ZOU-BAG/BAG-BAG (FOLDABLE SHOPPING BAG)

This came in very handy for buying groceries or carrying water/snacks during the day. It’s one of those ubiquitous shopping bags that folds up into a little pouch, however this particular brand is incredibly strong (it can hold up to 30kg weight), it’s machine washable, and it can be worn over the shoulder or carried as a shopping bag (the strap is clever enough that if you want to use it as the latter it won’t hang low to the ground). I bought mine from a stall at Spitalfield Market.

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