Dear Bobbi: 21st Century Pen Pals

Blog, Online Goodies, Other, Photography, What I'm thinking

Dear Bobbi: 21st Century Pen Pals

4 Comments 27 August 2013

For anyone who has ever had a pen pal or random travel partner they met in foreign lands who became their best friend – this website is for you.

Those who have been reading my site from the start (LEGENDS!) will know that almost four years ago I was in the running for “The Best Backpacker Job in the World”. There was a YouTube video that involved me scuba diving in a hot tub, which I bothered loads of people to watch to help me win. Sadly – I did not, but weirdly – another girl named Bobbi did.

I went to Australia – where this “best” job took place and ended up “working” it anyway with the other Bobbi (her name is Bobbi-Jo by the way and you can check out her blog here). After surviving shark tanks, monstrous spiders and wild cow stampedes – we parted ways, but never lost touch. In fact, not only did we correspond through emails and Skype over the following years, but we also managed to live in the same countries (New Zealand and England) and even the same city (London) again.

Now that we have the big bad Atlantic between us – as we did when we were just strangers with the same name entering random YouTube contests long ago – we’ve decided to keep in touch as pen pals of the 21st century.

May I introduce – Dear Bobbi.

A tale of two Bobbis. To the left is my photo of the New York skyline, to the right is Bobbi-Jo's of the London skyline.

A tale of two Bobbi’s, to the left is my photo of the New York skyline, to the right is Bobbi-Jo’s of the London skyline.

The website is a transatlantic correspondence between me and my name twin. Twice a week we’ll post photos with the same theme, such as self, skyline and fruit. Follow along as we send photographic love letters across the pond.

Have you ever met a great friend on your travels that you still keep in touch with? Have you ever had a pen pal?

Share your stories below!

If you want more Bobbi: Follow Dear Bobbi on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

12 Photos for my One Year Instagram Anniversary

Other, Photography

12 Photos for my One Year Instagram Anniversary

6 Comments 05 July 2013

I was really late on the whole Instgram thing. I haven’t had a smart phone since 2009 and I still don’t, but in June of 2012 I treated myself to an iPod Touch and one of the very first things I did upon purchasing it was download Instagram.

I love everything about the app.

I love the filters. I like taking photos of all my food. I like seeing what everyone else is doing around the world. I love receiving likes from strangers. Plus, I like that it encourages me to take more photos. I’ll post pretty much anything and everything, but I do have one rule to my Instagram account that I take very seriously. I only post photos taken with my iPod. No SLR or point and shoot photos. That be cheating!

It’s hard to believe I celebrated my one year anniversary recently. In that year I’ve taken over 600 photos in New Zealand, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, USA, Canada and England. #landscapes #selfies #foodporn #fishporn #doglove – You name it, I’ve shot it. So I thought it be fun to have a look back at my 12 favorite photos in my first year of Instagramming.

Italian Renaissance Gardens Hamilton New Zealand

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

12. Italian Renaissance Garden – Hamilton Gardens, New Zealand

This was my first hardcore Instagram day and I think I probably lost all my followers during it, because all I did was take photos of gardens and flowers. Hamilton Gardens is a stunning spot to wander around on a nice day. They have gardens from all over the world. I spent an afternoon there in June 2012 waiting for my visa extension approval.

Mount Maunganui New Zealand

11. The Mount from the top of it. – Mount Maunganui, New Zealand

Ric and I lived in Mount Maunganui for about seven months. In the off-season, climbing the Mount is one of the only things to do there. So we spent a lot of time up there. It’s a beautiful sight of the seaside town.

Hobbiton New Zealand

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

10. Bilbo Baggin’s house – Hobbiton, New Zealand

This was definitely my favorite tour in New Zealand. It’s the actual film location for the Shire in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Once a sheep farm, this Hollywood set is open to the public and located in Matamata.

Yantarasri Chiang Mai Thailand

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

9. Terry-cloth robes make me feel like I’ve made it in life. – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Ric and I don’t stay at high-end accommodation often, so I had to get a shot of me on our balcony, looking out to our pool when we stayed at Yantarasri in Chiang Mai. I really wish I had a terry-cloth robe right now :/

Elephant Nature Park Chiang Mai Thailand

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

8. Had the most amazing day with the elephants. Don’t want to leave. – Chiang Mai, Thailand

I’ve written before about my visit to Elephant Nature Park. I really didn’t want to leave this place. It was so peaceful and open. I tried so hard to get a shot like this with my SLR, but for some reason couldn’t do it.

Railay West Sunset Thailand

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

7. Can’t imagine it gets much better than this. Railay, Thailand

This one did not require a filter. After two stints in Thailand that came to about three months altogether, I finally found my perfect Thai beach: Railay. This shot was taken at Railay West Beach, which isn’t the most beautiful at day (that be Pranang Cave Beach), but definitely takes the price at night. There is a bar there that lays out mats on the beach and delivers your drinks to you at sunset. My dad, Ric and I sat there for hours every night we were there.

Changi Golf Course Singapore

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

6. Flying over Changi Golf Club in Singapore.

Ric said his dad told him to look out for this golf course when he flew out to Australia years ago, but he said he didn’t see it. So when we flew from KL to Singapore this past Autumn, I was on the lookout for it. Looks pretty cool from up in the air.

Graffiti Brooklyn NYC

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

5. Graffiti by our Brooklyn pad – Brooklyn, NYC

This was my first visit to Brooklyn and I couldn’t get enough of the street art, like this little gem.

Falling Water Frank Lloyd Wright

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

4. Falling Water by Frank Lloyd Wright – Pennsylvania

I’ve been wanting to visit FLW’s Falling Water for years. It’s about a five-hour drive from where I grew up, but for some reason I just never made it up there. When I came home to meet my dad’s new girlfriend for the first time, I found out we shared a love for all thing FLW, so I took it as a sign that we had to go. Double-date weekend to Western PA and I got this iconic shot of the house.

Liverpool dock

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

3. Reflections at the dock in Liverpool. – UK

Ric and I mainly went to England to visit his family for Christmas, but he wanted to also show me around the north a bit. Though we had both been to Liverpool before (actually on the same day in 2007), we wanted to visit the city again for a day of touring. We spent most of the day at Anfield, then headed to the waterfront. I absolutely adore this photo. Liverpool is such a beautiful city – and it doesn’t quite get the attention it deserves.

Drummer Joshua Tree National Park

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

2. The things you’ll come across in the desert. – Joshua Tree National Park, California

My Jucy Tour of the USA came about very last minute and randomly, but was absolutely incredible. Of all the places I visited during my three week tour of Western USA, Joshua Tree was the one I was looking forward to the most. I have a thing for deserts and heard it was a really funky place. I expected to see some weird things there and I did – like this drummer playing by the side of the road.

London

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

1. Striped block in London.- UK

I spent the first half of 2013 in London, which was another random and surprising happening in my year with Instagram. I adore this city and could probably have picked 12 photos to represent this anniversary just from London, but I chose this one to represent my five months here. London has a million and one attractions, but I like to walk around the city and take it in. This was a random street block, somewhere in the city that appealed to me.

So that was my year first year in Instagram. What do you think? If you want to follow a long in real time, follow my photos on Instagram and leave your user name below so I can follow you.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

*GIVEAWAY* WIN a SUITSUIT Case

Giveaway, Other

*GIVEAWAY* WIN a SUITSUIT Case

132 Comments 03 June 2013

I’ve never really cared too much about what luggage or backpack I own. In fact, my one backpack is from 2006 and still in perfect shape. My suitcase is on loan, well a Homer Simpson sort of loan as I borrowed it from my Uncle in 2007 and still haven’t returned it.

I’ve seen people post about their fancy new travel luggage purchases for the past three years with not so much as an afterthought. That all changed recently when Brooke Schoenman posted a photo of a SUITSUIT case on her Facebook page.

It was pastel green, shiny and retro and I fell in love.

And I had a feeling my readers would too, which is why I’m giving away one SUITSUIT case to one of you this summer holiday season.

Which SUITSUIT case are you?

SUITSUIT is a Dutch company that launched in 2008. Their aim is to make high quality suitcases that stand out in a crowd or on a baggage carousel at the airport. They also sell suitcase covers. All luggage comes with TSA locks, Turtle Trace and a 10-year warranty. Turtle Traceis a global lost and found service for baggage. They offer three different sizes of cases on two and four wheels, making them easy to roll and the ideal size no matter what sort of trip you go on. The smallest size, the weekender, is 100% cabin proof on all airlines.

I personally would choose their Fabulous Fifties Globe Trotter. I love actual luggage from the 40’s and 50’s, but they didn’t have wheels back then and I’m not one to carry things from anywhere other than on my back when I’m traveling. SUITSUIT created the best of both eras with this collection.

Photo provided.

Photo provided.

But SUITSUIT is allowing the lucky winner to choose whatever size and style of bag they wish. So whether you’re a Social Media Weekender or a Union Jack Tourister, SUITSUIT has a case for you and your travels.

Their suitcases value you at up to € 169,00, so this would be a pretty epic win.

How to enter

There is more than one way to enter this competition and the more ways you enter, the better a chance you have at winning. Using Rafflecopter, see the entry form below, you can enter by:

    • Leaving a comment at the end of this post telling me what size and style suitcase you would want after having a look at SUITSUIT’s website. Don’t worry if you change your mind, I won’t need a definite until I pick a winner.
    • Liking Heels and Wheels on Facebook,
    • Liking SUITSUIT on Facebook,
    • Tweeting about this competition,
    • Following Heels and Wheels on Twitter
    • and following SUITSUIT on Twitter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All these things MUST be done using the Rafflecopter application above to keep track of your entries. If you do not use the application above than your entry will not be counted.

The contest will run until July 4, 2013 12:00 a.m. EST and the winner will be announced that day. Be sure to read the term and conditions below.

Terms and conditions

There are just a few to consider when entering this competition:

      • The SUITSUIT case you win is subject to availability.
      • Allow time for your suitcase to arrive after the winner is announced.
      • This contest is not open to myself, Ric, anyone in my immediate family or his.
      • You can enter as often as you would like.
      • The winner is chosen completely randomly using Rafflecopter.

That’s is folks! Best of luck to everyone who enters and I look forward to announcing a winner in one month.

Find this contest on Blog Giveaway Directory.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

Photo walking tour of Fitzroy-Melbourne

Australia, Destinations, Other, Photography

Photo walking tour of Fitzroy-Melbourne

4 Comments 28 May 2013

No area of Australia is quite as quirky as Fitzroy. I heard about this section of Melbourne long before I visited the country. People said the coffee there is amazing, the street art is even better. It’s colorful, yet historic. The shopping is vintage and bars have interesting themes.

It sounded like my sort of place, so I booked a hostel in Fitzroy for my first visit to the city. Walking around the morning I arrived, we instantly clicked.

I first head to Brunswick Street for a coffee. A tram rolls by as I walk up the street snapping photos and looking for the perfect cafe to watch the world go by.

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

There isn’t much of a world as it was about 8 a.m. on a weekday.

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

The streets are empty besides a blond girl smoking a cigarette. Dressed in 80’s attire, I wonder whether she is just getting home from a night out or heading into work at one of the vintage shops on the street.

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

One massive characteristic of Melbourne is its street art, so I let that lead me this morning.

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

It takes me down alley ways I wouldn’t normally venture.

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

And shows me an edgy side of the locals.

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Street art is more than just spray paint graffiti here. It’s inventive and historic. One of my favorite things to see in a city is old signs painted on buildings.

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

This section of the city somehow manages to pull off two very different looks.

On one hand, it’s a bit trashy and rebellious. You’ll see beer bottles lying all over the streets, leftover food with burnt-out incense and overgrown gardens in front of houses with paint peeling off.

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

On the other hand, the area is classic and quaint. It’s home to French brasseries, boutique shops and cafes. The buildings here have history and an incredible, old-world design.

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

It’s decorated with gas lamps, brightly-colored doors and neighborhood gardens.

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Fitzroy Melbourne Australia

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

This mash up of lifestyles and looks probably wouldn’t work anywhere else in the world, but in a place as unique as Fitzroy, anything goes.

Photos for this post were primarily taken on Brunswick and Nicholson Streets, as well as a few side streets. Have you ever visited Fitzroy in Melbourne, Australia? What did you think?

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

Borough Market Photo Essay

Destinations, England, Other, Photography

Borough Market Photo Essay

6 Comments 17 May 2013

Roasted duck sandwiches, wild boar and black truffle ravioli and freshly made chai, there is no better place in London to tour the tastes and smells of the city than Borough Market.

Somehow I always end up here on my days off. Maybe it’s old world look of the market, which is located under London Bridge. Maybe it’s the cultures that come together and share food here. Maybe it’s the different foods and free samples. Yea…it definitely has to do with the last possibility mentioned.

Even though I’ve visited here at least a hundred times, I always do a quick tour of the market before deciding what I want. Usually full off samples after my overview, I’ll make the effort to squeeze a cheese sandwich or lamb sandwich in my stomach. The food is that good and vendors that friendly.

Enter from London Bridge and you will be bombarded with vendors selling an array of meals for lunch. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Like posh grilled cheese. The line for this cheese sandwich stand with specialty cheeses stretches around the market entrance. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Watch as your fresh oysters are prepared in front of you. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Plus, there’s something for everyone, even vegetarians. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Head deeper into the market and you’ll find mushrooms in every way imaginable, from wild to liquidated into white truffle oil. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

And olives… Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

And cheese…Free samples, anyone? Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Not just fresh food, but beautifully decorated, like this elephant cookie. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I especially love the classic chalk board signage. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

And again… Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Though signage isn’t really necessary. Most can just let their noses lead the way. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Of course, there are pies! Maybe just one for later. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Have you ever been to Borough Market? What did you think? What’s your favorite market in the world?

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. ;)

Campus London: a haven for digital nomads

Destinations, England, Online Goodies, Other

Campus London: a haven for digital nomads

2 Comments 11 April 2013

People don’t normally think of offices or company headquarters as travel destinations or sights on tour, but Googleplex is a different story.

I first heard tales about ball pits and bouncy balls in Google offices back in high school. I think Suddenly Susan was one of my favorite shows at the time and the boss there had a rock climbing wall in his office. I remember thinking that going to work isn’t that bad if places like this actually exist in real life and that one day I would go to Google, even if it was just for an interview, to see it for myself.

I never made it to a Google office and the thought slipped to the back of my head until recently when my friend Bobbi asked if I wanted to visit Campus London, an Eze Vidra creation partnered with Google, Seedcamp, TechHub and Central Working. Visions of sliding down to a work shop and playing a game of basketball while typing away on my computer came into my head.

Campus isn’t quite the fun zone I’d imagined, though there is a foosball table and beer, but it’s definitely an interesting and innovative center to meet with people, work remotely and maybe even find work.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Sign up as a member for free using Google Plus, Twitter or Linkedin and they give you a nifty little plastic entrance card to swipe whenever you arrive. Plus, they have a glass jar full of complimentary Google Maps Oyster Card holders.

I took five.

I swear only one was for me.

On the ground floor is a small sitting area with Eames-inspired furnishing and a wall of old computers, phones and a Darth Vader mask. There is also a small lecture hall on this floor. Campus offers free work shops and talks to its members and has several throughout the day. Campus stretches up five more levels with different offices, business residencies and event space above.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Basement level, Central Working Cafe, is the main hang out for every day freelancers working away on the computer. Walking into the warehouse-style area with brick walls and graffiti murals, I see at least 70 people spread out on wooden benches and chairs, all with a lap top in front of them.

I’m home.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

I work every day just as everyone in this room. A nine to five, more like nine to nine, from the local library usually or a cafe if I’m lucky. At the former, there are screaming kids and not enough power outlets, the latter would cost a lot of money if I visited daily and often has a terrible internet connection. So to walk into a place that basically says, “Hey, take your coat off, sit down, use our power outlets, free internet (it’s fast) and stay a while. We won’t ask you to leave and you might meet a few people like you.”, was a good feeling to say the least.

On top of the essentials, this public area of Campus has a cafe, outdoor patio area, food and booze. It serves one of the best cappuccinos I’ve had in London and I didn’t even have to buy it to justify using their free internet. If you want to do more than just visit, you can apply to become a resident and receive digital work space for a fee.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Techies-in-residence.

Campus has educational programs, events and a message board to post jobs or offer services. The way business is going, people are telecommuting more and more. They’re working from home, they’re working from cafes and even though a pro to this is escaping the common work place, it’s really nice to have a place to go and join work mates or a work force of sorts.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Whether you just need really fast internet for the day, a coffee or you’re in London on business and don’t feel like working another day alone from your hotel room, Campus London is a great place to visit, meet people and be inspired. It’s free to join and you feel pretty cool to be apart of a Google club of sorts, so why not visit on your next trip to the city.

Campus London is located down a quiet alleyway at 4-5 Bonhill Street in Islington. It’s almost exactly in the middle of Old Street, Shoreditch High Street, Moorgate and Barbican tube stations, so easy to access on every line. Open to the public Monday-Friday 9am-6pm and 24/7 to residents, you can become a member, apply to be a resident and sign up for events on their website.

Like what you see? Follow me on Bloglovin’, Twitter and Facebook to keep up with what I’m writing about. 😉

Elephant Nature Park 10th Anniversary: My Bucket List

Destinations, Online Goodies, Other, Thailand

Elephant Nature Park 10th Anniversary: My Bucket List

3 Comments 04 April 2013

Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai is the sort place that stays with you way beyond your travels to Thailand. I visited the park last year and was amazed by it. The passion and dedication volunteers here have to animal welfare is incredible. Plus, visiting the park and interacting with rescued elephants is like no other animal encounter you’ve ever had before.

So I was very excited to read that the organization is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary. To do so, they’re calling all bloggers to write a post listing their top ten bucket list items.

I’ve never been one for bucket lists. I kind of just decide what I want to do as I go. But if writing one is in celebration of a good cause, then why the hell not! I’ve already done the usual bucket list items like sky dive, bungy jump and play in a river with elephants (thanks ENP), so some of the items on my list might be a bit unusual or unexpected, but they’re all epic travel goals.

Trans-Siberian Railway

I think one of the first memories I have of world travel is of the Trans-Siberian Railway. There are a few different routes people can take. I would go for the train ride from Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia, which is six nights and shows passengers the beauty of an area of the world most never see.

Overland from Laos to Spain

This trip would definitely be more about the journey than any destination, because to be honest I can’t even pronounce most of the places I would take on this route. It would be a struggle and I know I’d have to go through parts of the world where tourism isn’t even a thought, but that’s the fun of it.

Live in South America for one year

When I left the USA to travel over three years ago, I always thought I’d end up in some South American village either for life or at least a few years. Before it was just an assumption, but now I think it’s a dream. I see myself working as a divemaster, walking along the beach to my house for siesta and partying in a hut by night.

Learn a language

I think I’ll have to accomplish this item before the last one. It’s quite a common goal for people and I actually feel like I missed out on a lot of things not knowing another language by now. My biggest problem is picking a language to learn and sticking to it.

Open a cafe in Key West

This bucket list item only came about because I traveled. Prior to hitting the road in 2010, I had very little interest in being a restauranteur or anything in the hospitality industry for that matter. I only started working in the industry in Australia purely because it had the most opportunity for backpackers. Everything happens for a reason. I absolutely fell in love with everything to do with restaurants from waiting tables and meeting people to making coffees and learning about food. Plus, I met my partner working at a restaurant. Our shared love of the industry and experience in it is where this item comes from.

Why Key West? Ummm, because it’s warm and gorgeous.

Attempt to ice climb

I first found out this was an option when I visited Interlaken, Switzerland in 2007. I’m not sure why I became so fascinated with it then, but I spent all my money skydiving there and haven’t had another opportunity to do it. Next time I do, you can bet I’m taking it.

Festival Food Truck in the USA

The problem: my partner and I want to open our own cafe asap, but our feet are too itchy to stop and focus on it. The solution: a cafe on wheels or food truck. We want to open one and travel around the USA for a summer, maybe even a year, hitting the country’s best festivals and concerts.

Shaving my head and traveling India

I’ve been obsessed with visiting India for as long as I can remember. When I go, I want to stay for at least six months, making sure to join the hippy community in Goa, get to a wedding, celebrate Holi and live at an Ashram. The head shaving bit? I dono, I’m weird. I’ve always wanted to shave my head and I heard women receive a lot of unwanted attention in the country. I don’t think I’m going to be one of those people that looks hot with a shaved head (how did Natalie Portman do it?), so maybe it will help with that.

Road trip Western Australia

I don’t know if it’s a regret, because I love the places I visited and how everything turned out during my year in Australia, but I do wish I explored the country’s west coast. It was my original plan actually, so forces must have led me away for a reason. I know what the reason is, so I’m okay with that. It just means I need to visit again and not miss it this time.

Walk across the USA

Call me crazy, but I’m certain that I will accomplish this in my life. Do I need to give reasons why I want to do it? Witness the country’s beauty, challenge my body’s limits, accomplish something only tens of people have done… I could go on and on. This is number one on my life list.

Now it’s your turn! I nominate these ten people to participate in ENP’s blogger carnival. All you have to do is write about your top ten bucket list items and nominate ten more people to participate.

  1. Wonderful Wanderings
  2. Today I’m Bobbi 
  3. The Traveller
  4. Misadventures with Andi 
  5. That Backpacker 
  6. Hayley on Holiday
  7. Christine in Spain
  8. Our Oyster
  9. Bohemian Trails
  10. GlobeTrotterGirls

“My top 10 bucket list post is a part of Save Elephant Foundation’s blog carnival to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Elephant Nature Park.”

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Sick on the road: health risks to watch for while traveling

Other, Tips & Facts

Sick on the road: health risks to watch for while traveling

No Comments 20 March 2013

It hits my friend Amber first on a ferry ride from Laem Ngop to Koh Chang.

“I don’t feel so good,” she says as we sit at the back of the boat.

I brush it off as a bit of motion sickness and feel for her after seeing the state of the toilets on this boat. But I can’t ignore my own queasiness for too much longer.

“I don’t really either,” I say to her about ten minutes later.

We both spend the rest of our cruise and a bumpy ute drive to our accommodation holding back everything that wants to come up until we reach our accommodation and retreat to our own huts.

Only problem with mine is that I’m sharing it with a guy I really like, but have only been seeing for six months. I’m really not prepared to show him me at the worst of times, but my body doesn’t care about that, only purging out absolutely everything that’s contaminating it.

I spend the next eight days in the concrete slab bathroom attached to my hut on a hot and sticky Thai island thinking back on what could have possibly made me sick. I settle on two hard boiled eggs that I actually knew I shouldn’t have eaten while I was eating them.

No beaches, pad thai or buckets of booze for me and I could care less about the lunar cycle. The best things about my trip to SE Asia at this very moment is that I have access to my own private non-squat toilet with paper.

Charcoal. Lots of water. Vitamin C. Time. This will pass.

It’s impossible to control and sometimes more likely that you will get sick on a trip. During my travel I’ve had just about every sort of sickness and ailment: sun-poisoning, dehydration, food poisoning, poison oak and bed bugs to name a few, and though the experience hasn’t been pleasant, I made it through without seeing a doctor once.

Getting sick on a trip, shouldn’t haunt you, but you should take preventive actions and be prepared if in case you do get sick. Most problems that arise on the road are treatable without the help of a doctor or completely unavoidable. Before heading out, check for dangers and annoyances surrounding your destination. Be aware of these basic sicknesses common to travelers and steps to avoiding or curing them.

Warts, burns, rashes

Plantar warts, allergic reactions, sun burns and more. This ailment isn’t pretty, but usually won’t have you bedridden.

Where you’ll catch it: A rash or break out could merely be due to a change in products or foods, plantar warts can be caught from the floors of hostel showers and sun burns are usually self-inflicted.

Prevention: Be aware of your allergies and read ingredients of new products if you do have any severe allergies. Product regulations are different from country to country, so it’s really important to pay attention to what’s in the products you’re using. Be sure to always wear footwear in bathroom facilities and know when you’ve had enough sun.

Treatment: Most of these are treated with the use of over the counter ointments and creams. Ask the pharmacist to recommend one for your problem. As a rule of thumb, moisturizer will help with itching, unless that particular lotion is the problem, and Aloe Vera will help with sun burns.

Animal bites and reactions

From heavy bleeding to poisonous snake bites to rabies, this is never a problem to be taken lightly.

Where you’ll catch it: Jungles, forests or animal-related travels are more hazardous, but any time you come in contact with an animal there’s a possibility of it biting or hurting you.

Prevention: If you know you’ll be working with animals you should contact a doctor as well as a travel specialist or government office to find out what prescriptions or vaccines are recommended and required. As a rule of thumb, be extremely careful when dealing with wild animals and never put any animals in a position when they feel threatened.

Treatment: Usually you’ll know the source of your bite, so it won’t be a guessing game. Depending on what bit you and how severe, follow a plan of action according to that. If the a minor bite that starts to swell or turn yellow, it might be infected, in which case you’ll need anti-septic and possibly antibiotics. At any point you feel extremely ill and know you’ve been bit, seek a doctor’s advice.

Stomach pain, dehydration and sun stroke

A number of things could cause queasiness or stomach problems, whether it be motion sickness, a bug bite, food poisoning, dehydration or sun stroke.

Where you’ll catch it: Absolutely anywhere, but especially in areas known to have contaminated waters and hot climates.

Preventative: Make sure you’re fully hydrated and avoid drinking contaminated water completely. If you’re in a country where they recommend visitors not drink the tap water, don’t test it and ask for no ice with your drinks. Don’t eat anything you’re uncomfortable with and stay away from restaurants that don’t look right to you. You never really know, but go with your gut. Don’t overdue it in the sun.

Treatment: Stomach aches, diarrhea and vomiting are usually just your body’s way of passing something, so you really just need to let the sickness run it’s course. On top of that, make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Try charcoal tablets to calm your stomach and vitamin c to restore your body’s natural health. If the problem persists for more than a week without getting better or you start to vomit or poop blood, it’s time to see someone.

Plant reactions

After a day of hiking you can’t stop itching one spot on your leg, or you start to feel quesy and begin to wonder what those berries were you tried earlier. Plant reactions are annoying but usually completely treatable and even preventable.

Where you’ll catch it: Usually you’ll have these problems in forests or jungles.

Preventative: Don’t touch or eat any plants you see in the jungle or forest. That said, while you can completely avoid eating or deliberately picking up something that could harm you, you can’t help brushing against things.

Treatment: Things like poison oak and ivy will go away with time, but it’s important to stop them from spreading. Always shower and wash your clothes when returning from a hike in areas known to have plants like these. The itching is due to dry skin, so use lotion for comfort. Unless you’re Bear Grylls you probably shouldn’t eat anything at all from the wild. If you have and start to feel sick, see someone. While you could research what the plant was and whether or not it will kill you, it might not be safe to take that chance.

Insect bites and bed bugs

While uncomfortable itching is the most normal annoyance from these two pests, it could get a lot worse.

Where you’ll catch it: This is another, it can happen anywhere problem, but in regards to mosquito bites, be especially cautious in areas with malaria warnings. It’s impossible to predict what accommodation has bed bugs, it’s a serious problem that grimy hostels and five-star hotel alike struggle with.

Preventative: Use insect repellent and bed nets to stop mosquito bites. If you’re traveling to an area with a malaria warning, see a specialist before for recommended prescriptions. Check your mattress before jumping into bed at a hotel or hostel for red dots and never put your suitcase on a bed to avoid serious bed bug problems. Further bug bites are hard to avoid other than to say don’t antagonize an insect.

Treatment: If you begin to feel seriously ill and are in an area prone to malaria, it’s probably not a good idea to put off fixing that and get tested straight away. Malaria treatment is dependent on the particulars of your case, so it’s important to seek medical attention.

Bed bugs are almost impossible to prevent, so don’t feel bad if you do get them and don’t go crazy on your hotel receptionist either. They’re a nuisance for everyone. Luckily, they don’t fly or jump, so most likely will only move from the bed onto your skin and any clothes you’ve worn or had on your bed. As soon as you notice common bed bug bites, change hotel rooms. Shower and if you can, get rid of whatever clothes you used in bed, otherwise wash and freeze them. It’s really important to stop them from spreading or to carry them with you from the hotel to your home.

For other bug bites, if you see the insect and know it’s poisonous, obviously see someone. If you don’t know what bit you and the bite begins to swell puss, turn yellow or open up more and more with time, it’s time to see a doctor for antibiotics and ointments.

Note: This list does not include STIs or STDs nor breaks and fractures due to high risk activities. It is not to be replaced with the advice of a doctor and if you feel you do have to see someone about your travel sickness then do it. This is merely a list of common problems I’ve noticed might be more prevalent while traveling and how to treat mild cases, so you can stop Googling and go to sleep without worrying that you’re going to die.

This is a very basic list of sicknesses people might encounter when traveling. What has happened to you and how have you dealt with it?

Rice cooker vomiting image by esSos.de.

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Jucy Wheels Out West

Blog, Destinations, Other, Road Trip, USA, USA

Jucy Wheels Out West

10 Comments 09 January 2013

There’s something about Western USA that just pulls people in. It’s in the shining lights of cities like Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the wide open roads on the Pacific Coast Highway and especially the jaw-dropping landscapes of national parks like Yosemite and Grand Canyon. The West has long attracted travellers looking to stretch out or even make it big.

And in 2013 that’s going to be me.

I’m happy to announce that for my first trip of 2013 I’ll be heading out with with Jucy Rentals in the USA. During the three week tour of California and Nevada, I’ll be stopping at three major cities, at least five national parks and as many beaches as humanly possible.

I was first introduced to Jucy almost three years ago in Australia. Their cute green and purple vans with an even cuter pin-up girl on the side were extremely popular down under, which made me envious that we never had anything like that in the States.

Not anymore.

A look at my Wheels out West, the Jucy Champ campervan. Photo courtesy of Jucy Rentals

The vehicle rental company premiered in the USA this past summer. Why is this so exciting? Because they offer affordable rentals allowing people at all ages and budgets to go on the road trip they’ve always dreamed of, including me.

It may sound weird, but I’ve traveled the world more than my own country. This will be my first serious road trip of the USA since childhood. Sure I went on the regular family road trips and I’ve been on a few weekend trips here and there, but I’ve never been on a large-scale road trip anywhere in the USA and have traveled minimally out West.

So after three years of living abroad, it’s finally time to travel the homeland. The trip will start and finish in Los Angeles, looping out to Las Vegas than on to the Grand Canyon and back.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps

Here are a few of the things I’m most excited about:

Big cities:

  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Las Vegas

Big parks:

  • Big Sur
  • Yosemite
  • Grand Canyon
  • Joshua Tree

Big attractions:

  • Eames House
  • Hearst Castle
  • Alcatraz
  • Napa Valley

It’s going to be a full three weeks. Luckily, I won’t be doing it alone. I’ll be catching up with friends along the way, traveling with Emily, one of my best friends from college, from Big Sur to San Francisco and meeting up with Ric in Napa Valley to finish off the trip together.

I’ve done my research and picked out a lot of places I’m eager to visit, but I want to hear from you! Where would you visit on a road trip of Western USA? What sights are you eager to see and what would you like to know more about?

Thanks to Jucy Rentals USA for sponsoring my trip out West. Visit their website to start planning your own US road trip. Use the code “BobbiUSA” to receive 10% off your booking. Follow my trip right here on Heels and Wheels, as well as on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. As always all opinions are my own.

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Hump Day Photo: Big Buddha, Koh Samui

Destinations, Other, Photography, Thailand

Hump Day Photo: Big Buddha, Koh Samui

2 Comments 13 September 2012

This time next week Ric and I will be waking up in one of our favorite countries in the world, Thailand.

Since this weekly photo series is all about giving people a glimpse of some place magical to get them through the work week, we thought it only sensible to look back on photos from our last trip to Thailand to get us through our last week of waiting to get there.

Though we weren’t too impressed with Koh Samui at first (our first stop was Chaweng, which is overcrowded with tourists with the objective of getting pissed), we ended up having a good stay and one really incredible day on the island. Like many of our other favorite days in Thailand, this one involved us renting a motorbike and seeing where the day took us.

While our main goal was to visit the island’s Big Buddha, we visited just about everywhere else before reaching it. Some of our stops included Na Muang Waterfall, Grandfather Rocks and Wat Plai Laem, where we thought we reached the island’s Big Buddha, but realized we were wrong during our cruise home at sunset.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Located on the Northeast end of the island Big Buddha at Wat Phra Yai stands at 12 meters tall, its gold cover shining in the sun. We reached the statue at the last moments of day light. While I couldn’t keep my eyes off the statue on the way to it, I couldn’t keep my eyes off another breathtaking Thai sky driving away from the statue.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

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