Wanderer

Glamping

I think every girl wants to go glamping (glamorous camping) at some point in her life.. I mean, look!

1 roundhouse exterior wide front door

Technically anyone can go glamping and it can fit all budgets, but it would be stretching it for a backpacker to ‘glamp it’. I mean, it can be enough of a hassle carrying around a tent, sleeping bag, a pillow, a sleeping mat/air bed. For glamping, you have to go that step further. Instead of buying your camping gear purely for practicality, you’re pretty much designing a set for a photo shoot or a movie set. It’s vain camping. If I was on a road trip, I’d go all out with the glamping and fill the Mary Poppins boot with a big white canvas tent, Urban Outfitters bedding, cushions, blankets and rugs, there’s be an adorable wicker picnic basket and Cath Kidston dishes and cutlery on the back seat, bunting and candles in my suitcase and I’d spend hours and hours perfecting it all each night before I could finally sleep on my big king sized air bed. But that would be a bit of a nuisance.

There are now campsites dedicated to Glamping, and some festivals such as the Secret Garden Party in Cambridgeshire (19th-22nd July) has begun to offer Glamping sites as an option for those who prefer not to get muddy. Canopy and Stars is a very good site for finding a glamped up tent, teepee or hobbit house for a night or two, as is Go Glamping, but its definitely not in a backpacker’s budget. Prices vary greatly but just to give you an idea, a Mongolian yurt for two in Carmarthenshire is currently on offer at £64 a night on the Canopy and Stars website.

Still, it is possible to ‘glamp’ up a normal camping trip, particularly for festivals. The high street is full of more fashion-worthy camping gear around at the moment.

Cathkidston

Cath Kidston is a very good brand for glamping. Her website has a whole section dedicated to picnics and camping, including the tent above and cutlery below.

And Urban Outfitters are brilliant for bedding, cushions and rugs.

Black Rug

Yellow Floral Rug

Pink Floral Rug

Reversible Quilt

Patchwork Quilt

Floral Quilt

So not really a realistic option for serious budget backpackers, just something that girls who love both fashion and travel dream about. Like I said, if I ever buy a car/campervan and go away on a road trip, maybe I’ll glamp it. Or (more likely), maybe I’ll splash out for a short glamping trip somewhere, and save myself the hassle of having to set up my camp site.

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25+ Ways to Earn Money on the Road

I always find it interesting learning about how people are funding their travels while on the move, especially as photography isn’t always the most reliable source of income, it is literally a feast or famine career, especially if I am going to be constantly moving about, never settling anywhere long enough to build a base.

Here are some of the money-making career choices and quirky ideas that I have heard about over the years:

  1. Freelance work. Photography, web design, illustration, legal work, admin. I could go on and on. Travel the world and work on beaches with your laptop. Perfect!
  2. Teach English. An option that I have been looking into. I’m in the middle of a 140 hour TEFL course at the moment, which will allow me to teach English in schools, privately, one-to-one, to children, adults and business men around the world. A very popular choice among travellers.
  3. Resort Jobs. Another popular option. Resorts worldwide are constantly on the lookout for staff for their reception, restaurants, or for the activities they hold.
  4. Hostels. Hostels are also an easy option. I did this for a few days here and there last summer, and I found that generally even if a hostel has no need for more staff at that time, they will usually recommend a ‘sister hostel’ that does. If you’re lucky they may even just allow you to linger for free – free accommodation!
  5. Work Exchange. This is something that I want to try out this summer. WWOOF is probably the most well known organisation for this, and I’ve also heard things about HelpX.net. Basically in exchange for so many hours unpaid work (generally 4-6 hours), you receive free food and accommodation. Mostly people will be working on farms, doing anything from helping with the harvest to helping in the kitchen. HelpX also includes some ads looking for help in B&B’s, hostels and on sailing boats!
  6. Fruit-picking. Popular in Australia. The pay can be a combination of payment per kilo, food or accommodation.
  7. House-sitting. Another one that I intend to try this summer. I have couchsurfed many times, but this one is taking it one step further: taking care of someone’s house while they are away. Rarely do you actually get paid for this, but you instead save money on accommodation! I’ve often heard about lovely home-owners stocking their kitchens with food for their sitters before they leave, so maybe if you’re lucky you can save money on food too! Mind My House and House Carers are two very good sites.
  8. Bar-tending. Easy cash-in-hand work. Just ask around.
  9. Cafe/Restaurant work. Same goes really.
  10. Cruise Ships. There are so many available jobs on cruise ships. Photographers, croupiers, waiters/bar staff, performers, retail staff, receptionists, spa staff, hairdressers and makeup artists. And then there are the much needed doctors and technicians. Options for everyone! You get to travel the world, its good pay, and its good work experience.
  11. Tour Guide. As a general rule, you can’t really survive as a tour guide if you can only speak English, though I have seen some English-only tours in cities like Rome and Paris, so it’s not impossible. You also have to, of course, know your stuff! Brush up on your history!
  12. Busking. Not an option for me unfortunately, my musical talents are pretty poor. 
  13. Au Pair. Its very case-by-case, but generally you are given a room and weekly payment in exchange for taking care of someone’s children.
  14. Teach people to play musical instruments. Again, not an option for me, my piano skills are very rusty and I can hardly read sheet music! But if you can play an instrument, why not advertise yourself as a private tutor?
  15. Teach whatever you know! So many other options. Yoga, dance, languages, surfing (apparently you don’t even have to be particularly good to be a surfing instructor, as long as you’re better than the paying beginners), scuba diving (if you are certified), photography. Again, I could go on
  16. Massages. I met a girl last year who was offering €5 massages in one of the most popular hostels in Paris and making enough that she could travel every month or two. Trust me, there’s nothing you want more than a full body massage after carrying around a heavy backpack all day!
  17. Hairdressing. A similar idea, and again I met a girl who was offering hair cuts in a hostel in Slovenia, and most of her customers were long-term travellers who had long neglected their hair.
  18. Selling goods. If you’re good at arts and crafts, you could always sell your produce online or at markets.
  19. Travel Writing. A tricky business, but if you work hard enough, you could find yourself sipping cocktails on various beaches around the world reviewing your travels as you go.
  20. Blogging. Another very tricky business and not one that is guaranteed to earn money. A lot of effort has to go into building up a blog.
  21. Working on a Yacht. Not always paid, but websites such as DesperateSailors and Find a Crew are good for finding boats in search a crew members. Sailing experience will of course be necessary (seems obvious but the amount of backpackers I’ve met who have seemed shocked when they found they couldn’t just hop onto someone’s boat and catch a free ride).
  22. Tour Operators. General tasks include greeting people as they arrive, making sure that groups remain organised and leading them to their tour bus.
  23. Construction Work. If you have experience, this can be a good option for short-term cash-in-hand (payment under-the-table) work.
  24. Acting. I’ve heard that if you linger around the Colaba area of Mumbai, no matter what you look like, soon enough you’ll be approached by a scout and asked if you would like a part in a Bollywood film. This is also common in Kenya and apparently they pay isn’t bad!
  25. Be Creative! I’ve heard some pretty quirky and very creative ways of making money on the road over the years. You could work as an English sign editor, meaning that you literally wander around offering to correct English spelling and grammar mistakes on signs and menus in exchange for a small payment. In Japan it is common for women to hire out their thigh as an advertising space! They are paid to wear a temporary advertising tattoo on their thigh for one day, the only rule being that regardless of weather, they must wear a skirt/shorts. There are also apparently vending machines in which women can sell their dirty underwear, but I can’t say that’s one I’ll be trying. One of my favourite money-making ideas came from traveller Michael Wigge, who once set up a spot on a street in San-Fran offering people the chance to pillow fight in exchange for a few dollars. Very good stress release. I tried this in Milan, just out of curiosity, and make €150 in two hours. Particularly popular, I’ve found, between stressed out businessmen, and therefore I recommend saving this one for busy cities like London or New York. You can see Wigge’s top 5 quirky ways to make money while travelling here.

I’d love to hear how everyone funds their travels while on the move!

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The Big Luggage Dilemma…

I have this problem every time I go travelling. In fact, I think everyone has this problem before they go travelling: Backpack or suitcase?

Backpack:

Up until now, I’ve mostly always travelled with one of these:

And yes, I know I should have bought a lighter, specifically fitted to my torso measurements, women’s rucksack. Tried it, ended up with crippling back pain. So I bought this, and yes, after a month of carrying around my camera equipment, I still have back pain, but in my eyes, if my back hurts either way just from carrying around so much equipment, I may as well buy a smaller, fashionable bag than struggle with something ugly. And I hate looking like a backpacker.. like this:

I like that so many people don’t really know what I’m doing. They look at me and think ‘ok, that bag’s too small for a backpacker.. but too big for a local.. who is this girl?!’ and then they ask me, and we start talking, and then we add each other on facebook.. rather than just being another backpacker who blends in with the 1000000 others.

If I could, I’d take the canvas backpack on all of my travels, but I just can’t see my back surviving months – or more likely, years of carrying around all of my photography equipment and laptop on my back. I’m just not strong enough, in fact, I’m a teeny tiny little woman who has never set foot in a gym in my life!

However, for someone who doesn’t have to carry around bulky cameras with them, I honestly strongly recommend a small canvas backpack like that one (£20 on Amazon!) For a start, as I said before, it’s a conversation starter. And you just don’t need a huge great big backpack that is practically as tall as you are, like most backpackers seem to think they need. What could they possibly have in there that they really need?!

On my last travels, I managed to squeeze into my little 46x32x15cm rucksack:

  • Canon 5D Mark II with two lenses & charger
  • Mini polaroid camera and film
  • IPad & charger
  • Manfrotto travel tripod
  • Clothes! Two tops, one thin jumper, jeans, a dress and a maxi skirt.. and underwear!
  • Makeup and toiletries
  • The compulsory copy of On the Road that I have to take with me whenever I travel, and a journal and pen. Done!
  • And then the obvious.. passport, wallet, documents.. etc etc

I can fit all of that into a tiny rucksack, what on earth do people fill their huge ‘backpacking backpacks’ with?!

Pros

  • Literal definition of ‘backpacking’
  • Better for rugged, off-the-beaten-path travelling
  • Easier for carrying up and down stairs
  • Perfect for camping/hiking
  • Both hands are free while walking (useful for shooing away beggar children)

Cons:

  • Back pain is a common problem
  • Heavy. Can be tricky to lift onto back as well as then having to walk around wearing it.
  • Harder to organise belongings.
  • Almost impossible to stop clothes from creasing!
  • More of a target for pickpockets

Suitcase:

Nevertheless.. the backpack is being replaced this time. I don’t want to come back to England (if and when I ever do) with a hunchback. I’m going for a teeny tiny 20cm suitcase. Something similar to this:

Most of the time I can just wheel it along behind me, but there are options for carrying a suitcase when it is not possible to pull them along. Monkey straps are an option (http://www.monkeystrap.com/order.php), though I could save myself $30 and spend a few pounds making one, they’re basically just backpack straps sewn to a few adjustable buckle straps and then a separate luggage strap is used to lock it all around my suitcase.

Front View Front View

No doubt I’ll be posting a tutorial on that at some point…

Pro:

  • More accessible, you are not rummaging for things!
  • No back ache!
  • Easy to wheel around
  • Hard cased suitcases are much more durable
  • It fits better into small spaces. Or so I’ve found. Even if I had a small backpack and larger suitcase, once I’ve filled the backpack, there is always one odd little lump that means the backpack won’t quite fit into a space (usually the annoying Ryanair measuring ‘cage’), and then I therefore have to rearrange my entire backpack to try and bring it back down to an acceptable size.
  • Pickpockets are no longer an issue
  • Better structural protection of possessions & souveniers

Cons:

  • Cobbles and uneven surfaces can be a pain in the bum!
  • Carrying up and down stairs even more so..
  • Not suitable for hiking or camping (but very much suitable for glamping)
  • I’ve found if you only have one free hand, beggar/gypsy children swarm you.
  • You look more touristy and therefore you’re also swarmed by people trying to coax you into expensive hotels etc etc

Suitpack/Backcase:

I’ve never tried out one of these bad boys, but I’m frequently told that they’re the way to go. It’s just a matter of balancing out requirements that can prove tricky: if I choose a backcase/suitpack with extra light wheels, they may turn out to be flimsy and useless, but if I go for strong, sturdy wheels, how much weight will that be adding to my back when I have to carry it?

Pros:

  • Combines the pros of backpacks and suitcases
  • Avoid backache from carrying but also easy to carry if necessary

Cons:

  • Wheels tend to make the bag significantly heavier
  • Less protective than hard-cased suitcases.

Overall…..

I may be leaning towards something like this:

Cabin Max wheeled backpack. 44L Carry on size (55x40x20). It’s not as pretty as I’d like… but it looks like I’m going to have to be sensible for once and choose practically over fashion… though they do also have it in purple!

I have 50 days before I leave. 50 days to make a decision!

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Travel Gadgets…

As a photographer, I can’t travel gadget-free, as much as sometimes wish I could. I need my camera, and therefore lenses, memory cards, card reader, laptop, hard drives, chargers for everything… blah blah blah.

In the past I have always left my laptop at home, which has never been a problem. I can always find somewhere to empty out memory cards onto online storage and the external hard drive that I always take with me, and last summer I purchased an IPad 2, which has gotten me out of quite a few jams this past year (I’ve lost count of how many times I have found myself stranded at 1am and the IPad has helped me find a bed for the night).

However, as this time I won’t be coming home for uni in September, the IPad is going, and the laptop is coming with me.

So.. my gadget essentials:

  • Product Image I’ll have to sell both of my laptops (I never did find time to sell my old one…) and my IPad and buy myself a new laptop. Mine is brilliant but so bulky, with a 15in screen, and so heavy, its just not practical for travelling. I’m a little torn… do I finally give in and switch to Mac and go for a teeny tiny 11in Macbook Air, or stick with PC and buy a 13in Dell XPS13? image To be fair, they’re pretty much identical, the XPS13 is definitely a Macbook Air clone.. but do I go Mac or PC? 11in or 13in? 1.08kg or 1.36kg? Decisions, decisions…
  • My Canon 5D Mark II. The most important thing in my suitcase (as well as the lenses that go with it, of course!) For months I wondered if I should upgrade to the Mark III.. but no, I decided that I’ve been perfectly happy with my Mark II for two and a half years now, and it has never given me any trouble (touch wood), so why upgrade just because everyone else is? For tech geeks.. you probably already know everything there is to know about it as its now oh-so-vintage. 21.1MP, 3.9 frames per second, ISO range to 6400 (expandable to) 25600)… etc etc. I love it.image
  • Lenses.. I only take two with me now days, as I find any others just sit in my bag… and I’m just such a minimalist when it comes to photography. image 50mm f1.8 Canon lens. Prime lens. So teeny tiny and uber light so perfect for travelling. It’s rare that I push the f/stop above 1.8, as I’m way too obsessed with dreamy, blurry backgrounds. I solely use it for portraiture and fashion. image 24-105mm f4 Canon lens. Much bulkier, bigger and heavier than the 50mm, but basically its my ‘for everything that the 50mm can’t do’ lens. Eventually I’ll switch it for the 24-70 f2.8, but right now I’d rather spend my money on making memories to photograph rather than on the equipment used to capture it (I mean, we’re talking about £820 for the 24-105mm compared to £1800 for the 24-70mm.. that’s £1000 difference!!). I can think of several photography friends of mine who will read that with disgust, so I’m sorry!
  • The little thought of stuff that comes with my Canon. Charger.. battery.. spare battery (I only ever use Canon batteries).. several memory cards. Personally, mine are never bigger than 4GB; I like to spread my images out across dozens of memory cards and have to switch card every half an hour. As mildly irritating as that can be at times, I’d rather do that than risk losing more than 100-150 RAW files if something happens to one card. And I only ever use Sandisk Compact Flash Cards. I used to carry around a memory card reader, but now I have a multi-charger pack which also fits my camera-to-laptop perfectly.
  • image I always take one of these, A Yoobao 11200mA portable battery pack, just because I tend to wander for a few days off the beaten track and then find myself needing to charge my laptop so that I can get onto the Couchsurfing website, or whatever. £20 on Amazon, so definitely worth it.
  • Worldwide plug adaptor. Because it’s just so much more practical buying one plug that can work in any country rather than collecting various adaptors as I travel around the world. Personally I use the Micropix Worldwide USB travel adaptor, which is designed to work in over 175 countries. image which cost me about £4 on Amazon. Most of my hitchhiking friends have instead spent more and bought either the £9 Swiss travel adapter or £16 Skross travel adapter, but after two years, my Micropix is still working fine for me.
  • External hard drives.. these are really as important as my laptop and camera. I’ve tried dozens of portable hard drives over the years, and there are only two that I would trust to take travelling with me: image Toshiba STOR.E Basics 1TB portable hard drive. They’ve never yet let me down (touch wood), though I make sure that when travelling I carry it carefully in a very padded case.. you can never be too careful. At the moment its about £70-80 for a 1TB, or £45 for 500GB. Worth it. image     Or, I use LaCie Rugged Hard drives, which seem to be a favourite with many travel/travelling photographers. They already come with their own casing, so that’s one less thing for me to think about, though I just use the HDD Hard case recommended for LaCie hard drives for my Toshiba imageFor long, long travels like this one, I take two 1TB hard drives, and I use online storage too… I’m a little paranoid about losing images to say the least.

And that’s it.. no teeny tiny hair dryers or straighteners or ridiculously small and useless irons. This lot already takes up enough space in my bag, thank you very much!

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