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Ahhh Paris, one of my favourite cities in the entire world, and the perfect place to kick off my 52 in 52 adventure. I’ve visited four times so far and have seen the city in a completely different way each time, so I’ve got lots of Paris travel tips and tricks to share in my ultimate guide to Paris!

Read on for the low down on where to stay in Paris, the best places to eat, the most Instagrammable spots and experiences you just can’t miss.

Skip straight to what you’re looking for:

Girl walking in front of Malabar Cafe in Paris
A classic Parisian corner café

Paris basics

Currency: Euro (€)
How to pay for things: Anything touristy (restaurants, hotels and hostels etc.) will accept credit cards. Outside of tourist areas or at small shops and cafes you will likely need cash, but there’s ATMs all around the city.
Language: French, obviously
Weather: It can get really hot and stuffy in July and August, as well as incredibly busy. The colder months are November to February, and you’ll likely get some snow around that time.
Best time to go: I always like visiting the big European cities in shoulder season, when it’s not school holidays and not too hot but not wet and cold either. Paris is particularly beautiful in spring and autumn, where flowers and trees change colour. Consider travelling between March and June, or September and November, if you’re looking for mild weather and affordable prices. Of course summer in Paris brings loads of free events, plus Bastille Day celebrations, and winter brings gorgeous snowy photos and Christmas markets, so it just depends on what you’re looking for!

Jardin du Luxembourg
Jardin du Luxembourg sunset

Things to know before you go to Paris

  • The city is broken up into arrondissements numbered 1-16, that represent areas. Then there’s suburbs which are smaller than arrondissements.
  • Parisians are notriously intolerant to people who speak English right off the bat (and I don’t blame them!), so it’s always good to have a few local phrases up your sleeve. Bonjour means hello, bonsoir means good evening, s’il vous plait means please and merci means thank you. If I need to ask a question or have a conversation in English, I always start with ‘Parlez-vous anglais?’ which means ‘Do you speak English?’ and this seems to always be appreciated! I’m not going to type out pronunciation on here because with my Kiwi accent it’d probably be wrong for most of you reading anyway haha.
  • There are a lot of pickpockets in Paris so always wear a cross-body bag and leave valuables (like passports) locked at your accommodation instead of on you.
  • As of July 2019 there are currently a lot of political activity going on in Paris, so avoid any areas with organised protests.
  • If you’re a freelancer or a ~digital nomad~, there are five stunning WeWork offices (with loads more being opened soon) where you can rent hot desks. I visited four of them and I’m obsessed! Find out more info about WeWork here.
  • If you are looking for a café where you can use your laptop, there are loads of co-working cafés that offer a table for an hourly rate.
Eiffel Tower with girl walking in front
The Eiffel Tower from Pont de Bir-Hakeim

How to get cheap flights to Paris

I started planning my 52 countries in 52 weeks adventure by looking at the cheapest flight available from Dubrovnik, after my epic week island hopping through Croatia.

Using Skyscanner’s Everywhere search tool, it showed me that the cheapest place to fly was Paris Orly airport, for only £26 (plus seat selection and 20kg luggage, so total of £55) flying with Transavia, a French budget airline. BARGAIN!

Paris is a transport hub with loads of low cost carriers flying in and out, so if you’re flexible with your travel dates then you should be able to find a good deal. Note that low cost carriers often use secondary airports rather than the main one, so there might be additional costs or time involved with airport transport.


TRAVEL TIP:

I find all my flights using Skyscanner! You’ll get the best deal if you’re flexible on where to go. Just put in your origin, your departure date (or month) and type ‘everywhere’ into the destination bar to see the cheapest locations to fly to on your next holiday.


If you’re coming from London, you can find good deals on the Eurostar (as low as £59 return!) if you book early. Consider leaving work early on a Friday if you want to avoid the weekend rush.


How to get from Orly Airport to Paris

My flight arrived at Orly airport, which is 25km south of Paris and is actually closer than the main airport, Charles de Gaulle, which is 40km northeast. To get from Paris Orly to Paris there’s a bus for €12, which comes every 15 to 20 minutes.

Because I was staying in Montparnasse, in the southern part of Paris, flying into Orly was actually perfect and meant I didn’t have to deal with any crazy train stations or mid-city bus traffic. The bus took 30 minutes for me to get from Orly Airport to Montparnasse, and then it was a 10 minute walk to my hostel.

Paris travel tips flight photo
The view from my flight, probably over the Alps in Switzerland or Italy

Where to stay in Paris

Because travelling to a new country each week isn’t busy enough for me, I decided to test out three different places to stay in Paris during this week… Why do I do this to myself?!

Sometimes due to budget, availability or content partnerships (where I do some photos for a hotel or hostel), I have to move to new accommodation in the same destination.

The upside of dragging my suitcase through crowded train stations and on local buses a few times a week is that I get to experience multiple different neighbourhoods in one city, which means more Paris travel tips to share with you guys. Glass half-full and all that!

The three places I stayed during my week in Paris were Enjoy Hostel in Petit-Montrouge, LAZ’ Hotel & Spa in the 9th arrondissement, and St Christopher’s Hostel near Gare du Nord.

My first hostel in Paris was Enjoy Hostel, which cost me £128 for four nights in an 8-bed dorm with a private bathroom (which was actually two adjoining 4-bed dorms, each with a private bathroom).

This hostel was smack-bang in the middle of the 14th arrondissement, in a suburb called Petit-Montrouge, just a short walk from Gare Montparnasse train station.

Enjoy Hostel was fine for what I paid based on normal Paris prices. The location is in a more residential area but there were easy transport options (a bus stop right outside meant I could get to any of the main tourist spots in less than half an hour, and a couple of Metro stations were within 8 minutes’ walk).

The dorm rooms were small but bearable, and the beds were comfy which is always a plus. There was no lift and I was on the 3rd floor (with a 25kg suitcase, ughhh) but that’s often the case in European hostels. This place was nothing special but was adequate for a cheap stay in Paris if that’s what you’re looking for.

Check your travel dates and book your stay at Enjoy Hostel right here.

A quick rundown on my stay at Enjoy Hostel
Price: £32 per night in JulyBunks or beds: BunksDorm size: 8 bed
Check in: 2pmCheck out: 12pmPlugs in room: Yes, by each bed
Private bathroom: YesBed curtains: NoLinen provided: Yes
Towel provided: No, €2Lift: No, and 4 floorsKitchen: Yes, full kitchen
Breakfast: Yes, bread with spreadsCleanliness: Clean enoughLocation: 14th Arr.
Staff: Super friendlyVibe: Quiet, chilled outLuggage storage: Yes
Air con: YesOrganised events: NoWiFi: Yes, worked perfectly
Lockers: YesLaundry facilities: NoPublic transport: Bus stop outside

On my fifth night of my year-long trip I probably reached the peak… When I got to stay at the stunning LAZ’ Hotel & Spa Urbain for one night!

Luxury Paris hotel
The stunning penthouse at LAZ’ Hotel

I’ve got a full review coming soon but let’s just say it involves a penthouse upgrade, a bath tub with a view of the Sacre Coeur, watching the Bastille Day military flyover from my terrace, and a treat yo’self moment with a room service cheeseboard. Dreamy.

Located in the swanky 9th arrondissement, this place is incredible, and because it’s reasonably new the prices are nowhere near what you’d expect! The legends at LAZ’ hosted me for one night but rooms start at a very affordable €130 per night, which is ridiculously cheap for any hotel in Paris, let alone a fancy 4-star with a pool. I’d absolutely recommend checking out LAZ’ Hotel if it’s within your budget!

A quick rundown on my stay at LAZ’ Hotel
Price: From €130-€170 per nightLift: YesBreakfast: Not always included
Check in: 3pmCheck out: 12pmLuggage storage: Yes
Location: Ideal, 9th arr.Staff: Super friendlyVibe: Ultra-stylish
Air con: YesFridge: YesWiFi: Yes
Pool: YesFitness room: YesLaundry facilities: No

My final night in Paris was at St Christopher’s Gare du Nord, just a short walk from one of Paris’s major train stations, unsurprisingly called Gare du Nord.

St Christopher’s is a huge chain with hostels all through Europe, and this is one of two in Paris (the other is near St Martin’s Canal, about 15 minutes’ walk from this one). I paid £23 for a bed for one night in a female 8-bed dorm with a shared bathroom.

The hostel was fine but is very obviously a chain, with loads of people coming and going, huge tour groups checking in when I got there, and a bar/restaurant connected to it (with a 10% discount on food and drinks for hostel guests).

I generally prefer staying at smaller hostels with a more chilled vibe but this place would be perfect if you’re looking to party with other travellers.

Because of the restaurant there’s no full kitchen, only a fridge and a microwave, so not ideal if you’re hoping to save money on making your own meals. They also don’t have free luggage storage after check out, it’s about €5 to store a large suitcase. These are the types of things that can add up quickly when you travel so always good to check for these facilities when you book.

St Christopher’s is a classic choice for first-time travellers because it’s the contracted hostel for some tour companies (like Contiki and Topdeck) as well as travel agencies, so the average age is a bit younger than other places I’ve stayed. 

A quick rundown on my stay at St Christopher’s Gare du Nord
Price: I paid £23 for one night in JulyBunks or beds: BunksDorm size: 8 bed female-only
Check in: 2pmCheck out: 11amPlugs in room: Yes, for each bunk
Private bathroom: NoBed curtains: YesLinen provided: Yes
Towel provided: TBCLift: YesKitchen: Fridge and microwave only
Breakfast: €5Cleanliness: Very cleanLocation: Next to Gare du Nord
Staff: Other travellers, very helpfulVibe: Social, quite youngLuggage storage: €5 for a large locker
Air con: NoOrganised events: Pub crawlsWiFi: Yes
Lockers: YesLaundry facilities: NoPublic transport: Train station right outside

Looking for a hotel in Paris? Check out all the best Paris hotels on booking.com, and make sure to sort the results by ‘review score and price’ to see where you’ll get the best bang for your buck.

If you’re keen to find a cheap hostel in Paris instead, search your travel dates on Hostelworld.


How to get around Paris

There are plenty of ways to explore Paris depending on where you’re going and how much time you have.

Paris is a beautiful city to discover by foot, because there’s super cute cafes, fancy restaurants, gorgeous views and boutique shops around every corner. I’ll be writing an Ultimate Paris Walking Tour guide soon with an accompanying map, and I’ll link it here!

If you need to get somewhere in a hurry or just want to get home, there’s the RER, the Metro, and the bus system. The RER is the train that services some key Paris stations as well as regional France; the Metro is the underground system all throughout the city, and buses are self-explanatory!

I usually prefer buses or trams to any underground system just because I like looking where we’re driving in case I spot somewhere I’d like to go back to, but obviously the Metro is faster in most cases.

You can choose from a travel pass with unlimited public transport use (one day passes start at €7.50), buying single tickets (€1.90 per ticket, or €2 if you pay on the bus) or buying a pack of 10 tickets for €14.90. Note that you can use one ticket to move between the Metro and RER on one journey, but can’t transfer them to a bus.

Paris also has Uber, as well as e-bikes (Jump is the main one, download the app here) and e-scooters available for hire (you’ll see Lime, Dott and Bird scooters all over the city).

Please note that e-scooters in Paris can only be used on the road and bike lanes, and if you get caught on the footpath you will get fined up to €135! Helmets are not compulsory but please be careful when riding on the road.

How to get around Paris
The Métropolitain is Paris’ underground system

How much to budget for Paris

Paris is a magnificent city, but it’s definitely not cheap.

Dorm rooms at hostels are usually between €25 and €45, a 3-star hotel will set you back between €75 and €110 per night and a 4-star from about €140-€150 per night, and splurging on a 5-star will likely cost at least €200 per night all the way up to over €1000.

Supermarkets are reasonably priced so cooking your own food or having picnic meals will help you to stay within a budget, and you’ll find classic Parisian breakfasts (a juice, a coffee and a pastry) for between €6 and €10 depending on the area you’re in, but adding anything hot will cost you extra.

For lunches and dinners, certain parts of the city have streets of restaurants that offer menu deals. The Latin Quarter is one of the best spots for cheap eats, where you can score a three-course meal for as low as €15!

You can’t skip dessert in a country like France so expect to pay between €4 and €6 for a banana and Nutella crepe.

While the prices are high, Parisian food on a whole is fantastic, so at least it’s worth the money.

Paris food budgeting tips
The perfect Parisian picnic

Do you need a visa for France?

I’m on a Kiwi passport and we don’t need a visa for France if our stay in the Schengen Zone is less than 90 days in a 180 day period. If you’re on a different passport, check your visa requirements with the French embassy, or see visa guides for Canadian, Australian, US and other citizens here.


Paris travel tips for foodies

This is an impossible question to answer succinctly, so I’m just going to hit you with some bullet points about the best food to eat in Paris.

  • You’ll find authentic Parisian breakfasts at almost every corner cafe, but I can recommend Le Square Trousseau in the Quinze-Vingts area, and Carette near Trocadero has the best croissants in Paris hands down
  • For a less-authentic but still delicious breakfast (and fantastic coffee!), check out Holybelly 19. It’s an Aussie-inspired cafe with small sharing plates and is one of my favourite places in the city. I can vouch for the mini doughnuts with dulce de leche, the Brillat-Savarin cheese with elderflower jelly, and the soft-boiled egg with dark toast. They’ve also got a sister cafe, Holybelly 5, down the same road that offers classic breakfast meals like eggs, pancakes, and even Vegemite on toast for homesick Aussies!
  • You’ll find macarons all around the city but my favourites are from Ladurée and Pierre Hermé.
  • For a cheap lunchtime deal, check out L’As du Fallafel in the Marais neighbourhood for the best falafel sandwich of your life for only €8
  • Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free or anything-free, there’s bound to be something in Paris for you
  • For a good value, hearty dinner, Sacrée Fleur in Montmartre is one of the best steak restaurants in the city
  • Angelina is a world-famous cafe that offers one of the most decadent hot chocolates I’ve ever had
  • Or if you want to try some local delicacies without smashing the credit card, Chartier is a 100+ year old French restaurant serving up classic French fare for cheap, with mains priced between €8.50 and €13.50
  • One of my top Paris travel tips is to have a DIY picnic somewhere with a view! Pop into a fromagerie (cheese shop) and get a couple of options, grab a fresh baguette or two, and take a bottle of wine to a spot in the Champs de Mars or Jardin du Luxembourg.

Top tip: To avoid using plastic glasses for your picnic wine, consider getting a Dopper bottle, a drink bottle that has a cap than can double as a wine glass!

Best breakfast in Paris
Some delicious breakfast plates at Holybelly 19

How to explore Paris on a budget

  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, DIY picnic! It’s an authentic way to eat, you can enjoy Eiffel Tower sunset views or gorgeous squares at lunch time, and you’ll pay far less than eating out
  • Loads of restaurants have fixed menus where you can get two or three courses for cheap. The best areas for this are the Latin Quarter, Republique and the Marais if you look hard enough
  • If you’re staying at a hostel or an apartment with a kitchen, stock up on fresh food from a Carrefour or a weekend market and cook at home
  • Walk everywhere! It’s a reasonably small city so no need to spend money on taxis unless you’re heading somewhere with your suitcases, and public transport is cheap if you need to travel a decent distance
  • If you want to treat yourself to a bit of luxury without hurting your credit card, go somewhere fancy for a hot chocolate or dessert. You’ll get a five star experience without having to eat microwave pasta for the rest of your trip.
  • Take it easy on the drinking. Alcoholic bevvies in Paris are expeeeensive! You might be able to score a €6 house wine in areas like the Latin Quarter and Montmartre, but a spirit and mixer will set you back a minimum of €8, likely more.
  • If you do want to drink then consider getting a bottle from the supermarket and heading to Champs de Mars or the banks of the Seine, or try the neighbourhoods of Oberkampf or Belleville for budget-friendly nightlife.
  • If you’re travelling to Paris in summer, there are loads of free events put on around the city. From open air cinemas and free music festivals to Pride and the insane Bastille Day fireworks, there’s plenty to do without having to spend money.
  • On the first Sunday of every month, some of the most famous museums in Paris are free! That includes the Louvre, Musée Picasso and Musée Rodin.
Best fireworks in paris
The best fireworks display I have EVER seen hands down, Bastille Day at the Eiffel Tower

The best things to do in Paris

For a full list of epic things to do in Paris I’ll publish a new blog post soon, but here are some of my favourites.

  • See the Eiffel Tower, obviously! My favourite view is from Trocadero.
  • Wander around the Jardin du Luxembourg
  • Take a spin on the Roue de Paris if you’re there during summer
  • Grab a coffee and a pastry and people-watch from a sidewalk table
  • Stroll down the banks of the Seine
  • Get a caricature done in Montmartre
  • See a cabaret show
  • Visit one of the many museums
  • Have a picnic at the Champs de Mars
  • Go shopping at classy boutiques in the Marais neighbourhood
Cheap cabaret in Paris
La Nouvelle Eve is an incredible (and affordable) cabaret show

The best day trips from Paris

  • Disneyland Paris for anyone young-at-heart!
  • The Palace of Versailles
  • The castles of the Loire Valley
  • Monet’s Garden in Giverny
  • You can get a cheap train from Paris to Brussels in only 1.5 hours
  • Luxembourg is less than 2.5 hours away by train

The best Paris photo spots

  • Palais Royal
  • Pigalle basketball court
  • Pont Alexandre III
  • Pont de Bir-Hakeim
  • Malabar Cafe
  • The sinking house of Montmartre
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Jardin du Luxembourg
  • Place des Vosges
  • Petit Palais
Paris Instagram spots Palais Royal
The stunning black and white column display at Palais Royal

My ultimate Paris recommendations

This blog is looong, so I don’t blame you if you skipped all the way to the bottom. As promised, here’s a definitive list of my ultimate Paris travel tips, with must-sees, must-eats and must-dos.

Must-see view: The panoramic view from the Arc de Triomphe, €12 to go up

Must-eat: Broken record but a DIY bread and cheese picnic with a bottle of vino

Most beautiful interior: The department store Galeries Lafayette for sure

Best sunrise spot: Looking over to the Eiffel Tower from Trocadero

Best dessert: Pierre Hermé macarons

Best suburb to visit: The Marais is definitely my favourite neighbourhood. Stylish boutiques, classy cafés, funky gift shops and good looking people everywhere!

An event you shouldn’t miss: Bastille Day on July 14. I know this sounds dramatic (classic me!) but standing under the Eiffel Tower watching the crazy Bastille Day fireworks display was honestly one of my favourite ever travel memories. It’s set to some sweet tunes, the pyrotechnics and light show are absolutely insane, and you’re surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people all in awe just like you. So special.

Best free experience: Wander through the stunning gardens all over the city. My favourites are Jardin du Luxembourg and Jardin des Tuileries

Best way to see the city: On foot, for free! Just wander up and down random streets and I guarantee you’ll find cafés, boutiques and views that you’ll fall in love with.

Best splurge-worthy activity: See a cabaret show. We couldn’t quite bring ourselves to pay €100+ for Moulin Rouge, but we found a smaller cabaret just around the corner called La Nouvelle Eve and LOVED it. We paid €59 each and that included half a bottle of champagne each. A super fun night, very entertaining from start to end, well worth the money.

Best nearby adventure: I’m a child at heart so I’ve got to say Disneyland Paris!

Paris travel tips and guide
Just another gorgeous corner café

I could write LOADS of blogs from my week in Paris but I’d love to know what you want to hear about! More Paris travel tips? Cheap eats? Photo spots? A neighbourhood guide? Tell me in the comments below.

Like this blog? Pin it!

Read more about my 52 in 52 adventure here, see all of my blog posts from the trip here, or check out my Instagram @findingalexx to see all of my travel photos.

Thanks to the legends at LAZ’ Hotel & Spa for hosting me for one night, and to WeWork for partnering with me throughout my 52 in 52 adventure. As always, all opinions are my own and are completely based on my personal experience.

52 countries, 52 weeks, mostly solo, sharing all my adventures and misadventures with the whole world! Exciting? Yes. Crazy? Also yes. I started planning this insane trip back in January 2019, booked my first flights in April, and officially set off on July 9 to Paris for my first stop.

I’ve got LOADS of messages and comments from people wanting to know more about why I’m doing it, how I’m planning it, where I’m going and how I can afford it, so I wanted to put all the FAQs in one easy place. Read on to learn all about my 52 in 52 travel project!

If you want to learn more about me and my previous trips, check out my personal FAQ here.

Skip straight to what you want to know:

What is 52 in 52?

I’m visiting a new country every week for a year (almost), with the route based entirely off the cheapest flight available each week.

I used Skyscanner’s Everywhere search tool to check for the cheapest flight each Tuesday, then chose the first country that came up, booked a flight (or a train or bus if they were better), and repeated that over and over again!

As of writing this blog, I’m three weeks in to the year-long trip. Hello from Warsaw, Poland!

Why did you decide to do this trip?

This is a long one! In June 2019 my UK working holiday visa was expiring, so in early 2019 I started thinking about my next move. I definitely wasn’t ready to settle back in NZ just yet, and after an extended period in an unhappy job situation I felt sick at the thought of sitting in an office in another country, so long-term travel was the obvious option. But that was the easy part!

With no travel buddy, not a huge amount of savings and no financial security, and on the other hand literally endless opportunities of where to go and what to do, this was going to be a crazy trip to bring to life.

My previous full-time job of encouraging other young people to get out and see the world definitely grew into a personal mission, and I knew that I wanted to do some type of trip that helped break down the barriers that get in the way of people booking their next adventure. The two biggest ones? Time and money.

I know that the vast majority of people who follow me or read this blog don’t have the freedom to take months off work, or the budget to explore Europe for weeks at a time.

There are plenty of incredible travel bloggers out there who share epic experiences of extended South America backpacking trips, or spending six months months in Asia, or road tripping across the entire globe (massive shout out to Expedition Earth!), but I wanted my trip to showcase adventures that any young traveller could replicate.

To tackle the time barrier, I decided to do a trip made up of 52 one-week adventures, showing how I make the most of seven days in each of the 52 destinations. I don’t expect anyone else to try and visit 52 countries in a year (not sure if anyone else is that crazy haha) BUT I do hope my trip inspires someone to spend a week in Spain’s Basque Country, or Turkey, or Tel Aviv, or any of the 52 places I’m visiting.

Oh, and budget? I’m just going where the cheapest flight tells me to go each week, which means no forking out because I need to be in a specific place on a specific date. Flexibility is key to getting cheap travel deals, and the route is taking me to loads of places I probably never would’ve added on to a world trip if I was planning it myself.

How cheap are your flights?

So. Cheap. I’ve booked the first 26 weeks so far, and the weekly transport (mostly flights, two trains, not including Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur to Singapore because I’m on a tour) has come to a total of £1750. That’s 26 countries, all through Europe, the Middle East, Asia and down to NZ, for less than £2000! That also includes luggage, so if you were travelling hand luggage only (good luck to you haha) the price would be less than £800.

The second half of the trip will be more expensive as flying in Australasia, Asia and the Americas is pricier than Europe, but the total for the year should be between £4000 and £5000.

How do you find cheap flights?

The best way to find cheap flights is to be flexible on where and/or when you go. If you want to visit Disneyland in the school holidays then obviously you’re going to be paying the highest prices, but if you can travel mid-week or in the shoulder season, and if you can consider visiting somewhere that’s not necessarily a tourist hot spot, you’re far more likely to get a good deal.

Of course, being flexible with time isn’t always an option depending on your job or study situation. If there are specific dates you want to travel, I’d really recommend putting them in to Skyscanner’s Everywhere tool to see all the cheap flight options for your dates.

You might not visit somewhere that’s been on your bucket list forever, but you might find a hidden gem and you’ll have loads more money to spend while you’re there too. It’s a win-win.

Is this trip sponsored by Skyscanner?

I wish! I do work with some travel partners but Skyscanner is not a sponsor of this trip, yet… I really, really love Skyscanner and I find all my flights through them, so I’d obviously love for them to come on board. If you try out the Everywhere tool or use Skyscanner because I’ve mentioned it, please let me know, and I can use that as a testimonial for when I finally speak to Skyscanner’s marketing team 😉

What about your carbon footprint?

Sustainable travel is a really important topic, and something I want to talk about throughout my trip. I’m offsetting all of my carbon emissions throughout the year, either at the time of purchase (if the airline offers that) or in bulk on myclimate.org.

While this trip entails a lot of flying, the majority of my flights are short-haul, and on low cost carriers who have higher occupancy and (generally) newer and more eco-friendly fleets than legacy carriers.

For the first 26 weeks, my carbon emissions come to the exact same amount as a single return flight from Auckland to London via Dubai in economy class, or a return flight from Auckland to LAX direct in business class, so the number of flights doesn’t necessarily mean it’s far worse than one long-haul trip.

My carbon offset for the first six months comes to around £150 total. It’s not as much as you’d expect, and I’d recommend everyone to consider offsetting their flights next time you travel somewhere.

I’m also taking trains between routes where that’s a logical option (like Amsterdam and Zurich) but because a lot of the destinations aren’t capitals and major hubs or aren’t next to each other, unfortunately there aren’t as many train options as you’d expect.

In terms of sustainability outside of flying, here are some other things I’m doing to try minimise my impact:

  • Cutting down any single-use plastic
  • Travelling with a filtered drink bottle to avoid buying bottled water
  • Using Ethique shampoo, conditioner, body wash and other toiletries, a zero-waste Kiwi company
  • Walking as much as possible throughout the week, or using public transport where possible instead of taxis or Uber
  • Decreasing my meat consumption, and I have Huel at least once if not twice a day, which is vegan and sustainably-sourced
  • Trying to find accommodation with strong sustainability policies

Always keen to hear new tips on how to be more sustainable!

How much will the whole trip cost, including accommodation and everything else?

It’s impossible to know, because I don’t even have all the destinations confirmed yet. My weekly spend changes drastically depending on where I am (Warsaw is shaping up to be incredibly cheap, but my bank account was nooot happy in Paris!). I’ll be sharing exactly how much I spend in each place on my weekly wrap up blogs.

Are you just booking on the fly each week or planning in advance?

I’ve got the first six months booked so far, because I need to be able to plan ahead for visas, accommodation etc. I’ll be booking the second half of the trip in the next few weeks.

How can you afford to travel so much?

Unsurprisingly, this is what I get asked the most! To clear up any immediate assumptions, I do not have a rich boyfriend, my parents do not pay, and I’m not in some high flying job. Dammit!

I did have some savings back home that I’m using over the year (about $12,000 NZD/£6500), I had about £3000 from my final pay and savings from the last few months in London, and I will be doing a small amount of freelance work over the year (probably worth about £700 per month).

I also want to say that travel does not cost as much as you think. My flights so far have cost less than £80 on average (some as low as £30 including luggage), my hostel dorms are between £10 and £25 per night depending on the destination, and I’m mostly making my own food so not spending loads on eating out.

I’m being totally serious when I say that the majority of weeks are going to cost me significantly less than what I spent each week in London over the past two years.

The budget side is something I’m definitely winging (with confidence, I like to think haha) so I’ll continue being transparent about it throughout the year, and you can all learn from my inevitable mistakes.

What do you do for work?

I’m a freelance travel content creator, which is something that hardly existed five years ago. My job can mean loads of different things depending on the partner, but essentially I write travel blogs and articles, take photos and video, and share my experiences with different products, destinations or suppliers on social media.

My freelance activity, e.g. writing for huge companies like Hostelworld and STA Travel, is paid, but a lot of the content work I do for hotels, tour companies and so on is just in return for freebies or discounted rates. Ideally I’ll get to a stage where this type of activity actually gives me an income, but getting to that point takes time.

I don’t make any money off this blog yet but again, that will change as my audience grows.

Please note that any brand partnerships will never get in the way of me telling the truth. I will always be 100% honest and transparent in my content, so if I’m gifted something or sponsored by a company I wouldn’t use or don’t like myself, I’ll tell you.

Are you travelling solo?

Mostly, yep! I do have some friends and family coming to hang out with me at various points of the trip, but 95% of the time I’ll be by myself.

Do you get lonely travelling solo?

Ask me again in a year and I might have a different answer, but I haven’t felt lonely yet! I speak to my mum most days (probably incredibly annoying for her haha), I’m always in contact with my closest friends, I meet people in hostels and I am constantly chatting to new people through my Instagram or on travel Facebook groups.

I always thought of myself as an extrovert but after a few weeks solo I actually feel really comfortable being by myself in a random country. Because this trip isn’t all fun and games, it’s a lot of work around shooting, writing, editing and so on, it’s been amazing to be able to split my days between exploring the destination, doing some work and having down time, without needing to consider anyone else.

In saying that though, for the first six months I’ve got someone coming out to see me once a month for a quick visit, which will be amazing!

Who takes your photos?

Me, myself, and I! When I travel solo all my photos are taken with this tripod, aka my best buddy for the foreseeable future.

I use self-timer or WiFi on my camera to set it up to my phone, or if I’m shooting with my phone I’ll use the app Manual Camera where you can set an intermittent timer to take a photo every second for ten seconds. Then I just walk around and pose, and voila!

Taking photos with a tripod is tough when there’s people around so most of my shoots are super early in the morning, before anyone else is up and about.

I never really ask strangers to take a photo of me, but if I need to then I’ll keep an eye out for a family with kids taking a selfie, and offer to take one of all of them first. Then I’ll ask them to return the favour, and they probably won’t steal my phone because no one with a pram will be able to out-run me anyway!

Are you going back to countries you’ve already been to?

I’m visiting countries that I’ve visited before the start of the 52 in 52 trip, but once I’ve been to a country during the year then I can’t go back.

The only exception to this is that I’ve got two weeks in NZ for a family wedding, two weeks in Australia to be able to showcase two different states, and two weeks in the USA to showcase two different states as well.

Where did you start from?

I started the trip from Croatia, after a couple of weeks of relaxation and island hopping before kicking off a crazy year. The first flight I booked was the cheapest flight from Dubrovnik airport on Tuesday 9 July, which was to Paris for £26 one way (£55 including luggage).

What’s the itinerary?

My itinerary so far is:

July 9-16: Paris
July 16-23: Zaragoza/San Sebastian/Bilbao
July 23-30: Brussels/Bruges/Ghent
July 30-Aug 6: Warsaw
Aug 6-13: Vienna
Aug 13-20: Milan
Aug 20-24: Budapest
Aug 24-Sept 2: Jordan
Sept 2-10: Cyprus
Sept 10-17: Crete
Sept 17-24: Sofia
Sept 24-Oct 1: Hamburg/Munich for Oktoberfest
Oct 1-Oct 9: Porto
Oct 9-15: Zurich and the Swiss Alps
Oct 15-22: Amsterdam
Oct 22-29: Dublin/Killarney/Galway
Oct 29-Nov 5: Bucharest (Transylvania for Halloween!)
Nov 5-12: Israel
Nov 12-19: Turkey
Nov 19-26: Azerbaijan
Nov 26-Dec 3: Dubai/Abu Dhabi
Dec 3-10: New Delhi
Dec 10-15: Bangkok
Dec 15-28: Southern Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore on a tour
Dec 28-30: Singapore
Dec 30-Jan 7: Bali
Jan 7-21: Home for a family wedding
Jan 21 onwards: No idea yet!

What if the cheapest flight is to somewhere unsafe?

I’m not going anywhere with an “avoid non-essential travel” rating of safetravel.govt.nz, not just because of my own personal safety concerns but also because travel insurance may not cover high risk destinations. Most high risk countries don’t have cheap flights going there anyway so this hasn’t come up yet.

Do you have travel insurance?

YES! I always travel with travel insurance, and you should too. Not only does it cover you for lost luggage, but it can cover damaged or lost belongings on your trip, sickness or accidents, cancellation if something unexpected stops you from going (like an injury or death of a loved one), flight delays and LOADS more.

I have a long-term policy with Worldcare, which covers me for every single part of my trip until I am back in NZ in January, when I’ll get a second policy to cover the second half of my trip.

Always look at the policy wording when you buy insurance, as policies can differ quite significantly. I always go for policies with gadget cover, the ability to add high value items (like my drone), decent activities cover (like hot air ballooning, skiing, PADI diving etc.), a 24/7 contact number, and rental vehicle excess.

Sometimes if you book with a credit card, your credit card insurance will automatically cover you, but just be aware that this may not include comprehensive medical or luggage cover and you may be left out of pocket if you need to make a claim.

What about visas?

I’m travelling on a Kiwi passport, which comes in at 9th equal for strongest passport in the world, so I’m really lucky to get visa-free entry to loads of countries.

There are some places that require visas on arrival and a couple of e-visas, but anywhere that would need me to send my passport away (like Russia or China) are a no-go on this trip unfortunately as I can’t be without my passport. They’re on the list for a future trip for sure!

This website is a great resource for checking visa requirements for various passports.

Won’t you get burnt out going to a new place each week?

Another one to ask me again in a year! One week doesn’t seem like that long in each place, but as a Kiwi most of my international trips have been whirlwind, because you need to squeeze as much of a continent as you can into two or three weeks of leave. Living in London wasn’t too different either, except I’d have a monthly three or four day trip to somewhere in Europe.

Some of my stops include visiting more than one city so these will be busy for sure, but a lot of the weeks I’ll spend in a single city.

Most of the journeys are short-haul so only a couple of hours in the air, and aside from travel days I’ll have six full days in each destination, which I think is actually quite a decent amount of time.

My normal lifestyle in both London and Auckland was incredibly fast-paced, with a high stress job, a bustling social life, a gym routine and doing my blog on the side, so while I’ve added in the complication of constantly moving, I don’t need to worry about a job, social life or sticking to a gym routine! Woohoo!

How will you stay fit and healthy on the road?

This one is a work in progress. To stay healthy physically and mentally, I think the most important things are diet, exercise and sleep.

For exercise, I haven’t quite locked in a routine but ideally I’d be doing a short work out of some sort each day. I’m going to try out Les Mills on Demand, the app version of NZ’s best gym and the creator of gym classes found all around the world. If you’ve been to Virgin Active or FitnessFirst in the UK, you’ve probably done a Les Mills class!

LMOD is available on your computer or an app, and you can choose from hundreds of different work out classes, from deep stretching to combat to HIIT, and everything in between. As of July 2019 a monthly subscription is £11.95 for the UK or $29.99 for NZ. I’ll let you know how I find it once I get my A into G and try it out!

In terms of sleep, I have a terrible sleeping pattern that I am desperate to change. I can’t get to sleep until between 1am and 2am! This was a huge problem when I had an office job with a start time because I was constantly sleep-deprived, but being funemployed (well, self-employed kinda) I can sleep until 9am and not get in trouble.

I’m a super night owl so my best hours of productivity are from 8pm to 1am, but that means it’s hard to switch my brain off when it’s time to sleep. A work in progress!

To make sure I fall asleep and stay asleep while in hostels, I use these cheap silicon earplugs which are comfortable and completely silencing, and this eye mask if the room is light.

What do you eat when you’re travelling?

I have some weird dietary requirements after a complicated gallbladder surgery back in my late-teens, which can make eating while travelling really difficult. Unfortunately it’s not as easy as cutting a specific food group out, as a random variety of foods seem to mess with me and give me serious abdominal pain. Think of the stitch, but about a hundred times worse. It sucks!

The best way to avoid this is for me to eat a consistent diet, which is impossible when I’m flitting between cuisines on a weekly basis! Enter Huel, my lifesaver.

Huel is a powdered nutritionally-complete meal, just add water and it’s got the entire make up of carbs, protein, iron, and all other vitamins and minerals you need in a meal. It sounds and looks like a protein shake but it’s dietitian-approved as an actual meal, and it’s mainly used by busy people who would otherwise choose unhealthy food.

I find it perfect for travel because all I need is water, it’s got all the goodness I need, and it brings some consistency to my meal plan each week. I usually have it for breakfast each day and sometimes lunch too, if I’m travelling somewhere where food is expensive.

Huel is super cheap (less than £1.40 for a 500 calorie meal), vegan, there’s a gluten-free version and loads of flavour boosts to choose from, plus it’s sustainably-sourced and zero waste! Win, win, win.

If you want to try out Huel for yourself, click here to get £10 off your order

For dinners I try and stay at hostels or apartments with kitchens, and will do a supermarket shop when I get to a new destination. Food wastage can be an issue when you’re moving every week so normally I stick to basic meals, like pesto pasta with veges, wraps, or a stir fry.

What apps do you use when you’re travelling?

This question probably deserves a full blog so I’ll add that to my to do list, but here is a quick guide of apps to get before your trip:

  • Citymapper, for making sure you know how to get from A to B on public transport in major cities all around the world
  • Google or Apple Maps for obvious reasons
  • Uber (or local equivalent, like Grab in Southeast Asia, OlaCabs in India and Takkun in Japan)
  • Hostelworld and Booking.com for booking and managing accommodation
  • Google Photos to back up all my phone photos online
  • Google MyMaps, where you can create bespoke maps and pin important places. I have one for every destination I visit where I pin my accommodation, food suggestions, photo spots, shops to visit and loads more.
  • Snapseed and Lightroom mobile for photo editing
  • Lime, Bird, Dott or whatever the local equivalent is for e-scooter rental
  • Netflix and Amazon Prime
  • Google Translate
  • Life360, a tracking app that’s perfect if you’re travelling solo and want your family to be able to see where you are
  • Klook for booking activities and experiences
  • Audible for audiobooks
  • Skyscanner for booking flights
  • Transferwise for cheap currency exchange
  • Curve for managing all your different cards and currencies, with no overseas fees!

How do you deal with foreign exchange and always using different currencies?

I have a couple of different ways to manage my money on the road.

First of all, I swear by Monzo! (UK only, sorry Kiwis and Aussies.) Monzo is an app-based bank and is probably the best thing to happen to money since credit cards were invented. The app has a fantastic budgeting section, automatically categorises all of your spending, they offer super quick 24/7 service and you can freeze your card at the tap of a button.

You can also split bills and pay other Monzo users just by standing next to them and tapping their name, there’s no overseas fees and you get up to £200 a month free ATM withdrawals while travelling. Literally the bank of the future.

I use Transferwise for any currency exchanges I do, and I also have a Transferwise Borderless account for euros. THEN I have another UK bank, an NZ credit card and an NZ debit card. Travelling with this many cards can be super frustrating, so I was stoked when I heard about Curve!

Curve is a payment card, not a bank, where you can connect multiple bank cards in different currencies and manage them all through an app. I’ve connected all of my cards to it and then switch which card I want to use on my phone!

Curve also charges your cards in their local currency so you never have to pay foreign exchange fees, gives you 1% cashback at select retailers, and you can even go back in time and switch a payment to another card up to 14 days after purchase.

There’s a free version available with up to £200 fee-free overseas ATM withdrawals, or you can upgrade to Black for £9.99 a month or metal for £14.99 a month for £400 and £600 respectively, plus on the paid plans you get worldwide travel insurance and gadget insurance.

Definitely something that’s worth looking into if you’ve got multiple cards with different currencies.

Will you be staying in hostels, hotels or Airbnbs mostly?

I’ll be staying at hostels the majority of the time, with some hotels a few times a month and maybe Airbnbs when I’ve got friends coming out to see me.

How do you choose a hostel?

I’m obsessed with getting the best bang for your buck, so the number one thing I think about when choosing a place to stay is value for money. I don’t search for the cheapest option but I don’t search for the fanciest option either, I look for the best-rated option based on cost.

On Hostelworld I’ll filter by free WiFi, luggage storage and self-catering facilities, then show hostels rated only 8 and above, and then sort by price.

Let me say this once: Review scores are gospel. I always try and stay somewhere rated 9 or above, and will do an 8 if I have to due to price and availability, but it’d have to be tough times for me to consider anything in the 7s.

Reviews are written by travellers like us, so if other people haven’t been impressed then it’s likely you won’t either. In saying that though I’ll always check the review breakdown into categories (location, staff, comfort etc.) and what people have written, because then you can consider what (if anything) you’re okay to compromise on.

If they’ve mentioned security issues, hygiene concerns or *gasp* bed bugs, it should be a definite no. But if somewhere has an 8.3 rating because some people didn’t like their roommates, the WiFi was spotty or they had to wait ten minutes at the front desk to check in, then you’re probably fine.

And how do you choose a hotel?

Booking.com makes it super easy to search for the best value option, you just need to sort your search by “price and review score”. This shows you the cheap highly-rated options first, then the prices increase and ratings decrease.

If you’re on a budget (obviously I am haha) then adjust the maximum price on the sidebar, so it cuts out the five star hotels that are so expensive you’ll cry.

I really love staying at places with character, so I never go for business-y chain hotels (which are usually overpriced anyway). I’ll always aim to stay somewhere with super funky design, breakfast included, and a fridge so I can have a small amount of my own food.

How much luggage are you taking?

I’m travelling with one 75cm wheeled check in bag, a matching (of course) 55cm wheeled cabin luggage bag, and a laptop backpack.

Both of my suitcases are Samsonite Cosmolites, and they are absolute game changers. Packing for a year-long trip is tough, as you’d imagine, so I was desperate to find hard-case bags that were sturdy without being too heavy.

Samsonite UK kindly gifted me these two beauties for the trip, and they are basically straight out of my dreams!

 

The big one is 2.6kg and the small one is 1.7kg, both around half the weight of your average suitcase. Lightweight luggage is a lifesaver, and means I’ve got an extra couple of kgs for my stuff.

My laptop bag is just a cheap one from Amazon, but it can fit my 15.6″ laptop, notebook, my tech organiser with my camera gear, chargers etc.

Please note that I was gifted these bags by Samsonite, but I would never promote something I don’t truly love myself! All opinions on this blog are my own and are from my personal experience.

What clothes did you pack?

I have a confession to make: I’m a chronic over-packer. It all comes back to my analysis paralysis, I always feel like I need to have the perfect outfit for each potential situation! I’ll do a full blog on what I packed at some stage but just know that it’s probably way too much.

Because my destinations are ranging from European heatwave to Dublin in November to conservative countries in the Middle East, I had to take a massive variety of outfit options, and then also needed to think about comfort, weight and what would look good in photos. Not an easy task haha.

I did try to go for a ‘capsule wardrobe’ though, where each item has to match multiple other items to maximise the amount of potential outfits I could wear. This means mostly classic, basic pieces in neutral colours with a small amount of stand-out items that are coloured or patterned.

What’s in your camera bag?

For a full list of my tech, head on over to this blog.

Do you need a travel buddy?

Always looking for travel buddies! If your trip matches up with any destinations on my itinerary, or if you live somewhere I’m visiting and want to meet up, flick me a message on Instagram @findingalexx 😄

How do I do something like this?

Just do it! You do need a bit of money (not as much as you’d think) and obviously a decent amount of time, but if you’re fine on those fronts then you can absolutely do this too. It’s scary, it takes a lot of planning, and it’s a tiny bit crazy, but I guarantee it’ll be the best thing you ever do.

If you have any other questions that I haven’t answered then comment below or flick me a message on Instagram @findingalexx, and I’ll add it to this list!

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Check out all of my 52 in 52 blogs right here, and see all of my adventures and misadventures on Instagram @findingalexx

Please note this blog contains affiliate links that give me a small commission from any purchase, at no extra cost to you. I would never advertise anything I don’t use or believe in, and this commission helps Finding Alexx reach more travellers. Thank you for supporting me!

Our week exploring Croatia’s islands with the legends at Medsailors was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. From swimming three times a day to tasting local cuisine to sipping mojitos on a floating unicorn, Croatia sailing is something every sun-lover’s beach bucket list. Here’s some of my favourite snaps from our week of island hopping in Croatia!

The stunning lake at Mljet National Park
Medsailors Croatia yachts
Rafting up at a secret bay
Medsailors are legends, now we need to choose which destination to do next year!
It’s literally impossible for me to say no to hiring a jet ski
Drinking in the ocean
Floating bartenderc
Gin & tonics in the ocean
Gin and tonics in the ocean
živjeli!
Home for the week
Djamileh was our gorgeous yacht
Contrary to what it looks like, we did actually spend time on land too!
Swimming with fish in Croatia
Everyone’s laughing because I was swimming and they started throwing bread at me to attract thousands of fish. I was not laughing.
Shout out to Bex for providing her butt for this photo
Me and my trusty Dock & Bay travel towel at Mljet National Park
Learn to sail Croatia
Medsailors can actually teach you the basics of sailing too! Show you the ropes, if you will.
Quick dip at Mljet National Park
Jet ski adventures in Lumbarda
Medsailors Croatia yachts
Squad goals
Bosscat Hvar
The GREATEST cocktails Hvar has to offer, at Bosscat craft cocktail bar
Old Town views
Quaint Croatian side streets
So many gorgeous lanes in the Old Towns
BYO Croatia sailing trip
Punch for breakfast!
Getting fancy at Hora Farm winery on Hvar Island
Premier Plus Medsailors Croatia
Soaking up the sun on the deck
That splash behind my head is Bex kicking me to the boat because I was carrying A LOT of very precious and very not waterproof camera gear
Hvar castle viewpoint
The view from Hvar Castle
Hidden bays to ourselves
The catamaran, which we’re going to go for on our next Medsailors trip for sure!
Gorgeous bays all to ourselves
Unicorn floatie in Croatia
Unicorn selfie!
Wandering down to Hvar town from the castle

Tempted to book your own Croatia island hopping holiday? Good! You can see the full details of our Medsailors Croatia Voyager tour right here, along with current prices and availability for your travel dates.

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Check out my blog on why you should do a Croatia sailing trip, read all my Croatia blogs here, or see all my Croatia photos on Instagram @findingalexx

Massive thanks to the legends at Medsailors for hosting me and a friend on their Croatia Voyager trip. As always all opinions are my own and are based on my personal experience.

In between leaving my 9-5 desk job in London and diving head-first into full-time travel and funemployment (who needs financial security anyway…), I wanted to spend a week doing something EPIC to celebrate the transition. Preferably something that involved swimming, good food and a lot of mojitos. Croatia island hopping was an obvious choice and there’s loads of destinations and companies to choose from, but we decided on the Medsailors Croatia Voyager route for our Croatia sailing tour.

Here are 11 reasons why you NEED to go island hopping in Croatia with Medsailors.

1. Legendary crew

The Medsailors crew are more than just skippers, cooks and travel agents (although they’re all those too…), they get fully involved in the experience.

Each boat has a skipper who doubles as a breakfast/lunch chef, then there are the crew who move around the boats and help out with sailing and docking, and then there’s Guest Experience Leaders who suss out all the logistics on each island and have loads of local knowledge.

Our skipper Chloe was one of the best parts of our trip for sure. She was a Brit, my age, and had been sailing for only a couple of years, although you’d never know that from her skills and confidence on the boat. From the get-go she was super friendly, joined us for dinners and drinks on the islands, and was the perfect leader for our week on the sea.

The Medsailors crew were all super professional and well-trained. They were all in their 20s and 30s, from a variety of countries, always keen for a chat or to answer questions about the yacht or Croatia.

Our Guest Experience Leaders for the week were Hannah and Ginna, and both were prepped with suggestions for food, drink and activities at each stop. We literally didn’t need to think AT ALL the whole week, which was a beautiful break from my usual style of travel (and my upcoming year of 52 countries in 52 weeks!).

2. Boat mates at first sight

With Medsailors yacht trips you can rent out the whole boat (usually 4 or 5 cabins so 8 to 10 people), go in a small group, a pair or as a solo traveller, and the age group they target is 20-35 years old.

We had a group of four of us, so we got put on a yacht with another group of four friends and one girl flying solo, and were amazed at how well we got on!

It’s not often you could throw nine people from different walks of life onto a boat for a week and not have any issues – although the other group were Kiwi girls who I have LOADS of mutual friends with, so not such a different walk of life haha. Classic New Zealand.

Medsailors nail this every time, because everyone who books has to fill out a short survey about what they’re looking for in their holiday, and as much as possible they plan the boats to match similar interests and travel styles. The nine of us were all looking for a decent dose of sun and sea, some casual drinks each afternoon and one or two bigger nights out.

There were other boats that were full on all the time, and some who were there for a quiet week, so each boat basically just did what they wanted. So even if you’re travelling solo and you’re looking for a relaxing week to read some books on the deck, you won’t get thrown on a boat with party animals, and vice versa.

3. So. Much. Swimming.

The ratio of being in the water vs. not being in the water was so ideal. We had at least two swim stops every day, and a couple of our overnight island stops had swimming areas too.

Each morning we’d sail about half an hour to an hour to a secluded little bay for breakfast and a dip, and we’d be there for up to two hours. I was in the water basically the entire time every time, only getting out for my daily brekkie of Croatian Nutella on fresh bread a.k.a. breakfast of champions.

What you can’t see here is me screaming and flailing around because I was completely surrounded by fish after my ‘friends’ threw fish food (bread) all around me. It was HILARIOUS for everyone else, not so much for me at the time haha.

After an hour or two we’d jump back on board, tie up the unicorn and do the dishes as we set off for another couple of hours sailing towards our evening stop.

We’d anchor up in another bay for lunch, and Chloe would prepare the food while we all hopped into the water to cool off. Lunch stops were a couple of hours, and again I basically had to be dragged out of the ocean.

In the evenings we were docked up in marinas where you can’t swim (and wouldn’t want to, because the boats have their holding tanks open all night!), but on some islands there were nearby beaches or lakes where you could take a dip when we arrived or before we left.

4. Learn to sail

The skippers are experienced sailors and can teach you as much as you want to learn. We helped Chloe each time we docked or anchored, and when you get the sails up your skipper can show you the ropes (literally!) if you’re keen to see how it all works.

We didn’t spend much time sailing on our week as we had a couple of seasick boatmates who felt worse from the sails than the motors, but if you get the right amount of wind and can hack the bobbing then you’ll come away with some sailor knowledge too.

Medsailors is definitely known for being one of the best Croatia sailing companies in terms of professionalism and expertise.

5. Little islands

Most of the Croatia sailing trips for young people do the party spots of Hvar, Vis, Brac and Bol, and Medsailors’ other Croatia route, the Discovery Route, visits some of these too.

The Voyager route however, the one we were on, takes the back roads (or waves) in between Dubrovnik and Split and takes you to smaller, local islands way off the tourist trail, which was such a treat.

We spent most of our evenings docked in bays with no other yacht companies to be seen, a rare occurrence in Croatia’s summer season.

We ate at local family-run restaurants and sipped mojitos at quaint little bars right on the water, and it felt like we were actually in Croatia, instead of a tourist hot spot with Aussie and Kiwi accents more common than people speaking the local language.

Avoiding the popular islands also meant less wait time to get a table for dinner, lower prices, more authentic cuisine, photo spots with less people, and generally just more relaxing vibes.

I reckon this was one of my favourite aspects of our tour, and I’d absolutely recommend the Voyager route if you’re keen to see the real Croatia away from the parties, the Game of Thrones tours and the cruise ships.

In saying that, we also spent two nights docked at Hvar – one night at Vrboska and one night at Stari Grad.

Vrboska is a small port at the south end of the island so it still felt reasonably distanced from the main port of Hvar town, and Medsailors has an included bus to the castle above Hvar’s town centre, where you can wander down to the main square for a night out (if you want one, I’ll go more into that later).

The viewpoint from Hvar castle, a stunning place to see the city and port

Then the second night we spent at Stari Grad in north Hvar, where we had beautiful evening at Hora Farm, a local winery and orchard. The bus to Hora Farm was provided by Medsailors but dinner and drinks were separate.

6. Gorgeous Gambo

This incredible little island gets a point of its own, and it’s firmly made a spot on my ‘most unique places I’ve ever stayed’ list (up there with the hanging tree tent in the UK, the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong and the Boatel in Indonesia).

On our fourth night of the Medsailors Croatia island hopping trip, instead of docking at a marina, the six boats from our route rafted up together in a tiny little bay owned by a man named Gambo. Just look at this place!

We had a couple of hours to play around in the water before getting spruced up for the 30 second dinghy ride to the restaurant on land. Yes, we could have paddled over in the water but in the smaller Croatian islands it’s generally expected to be clothed and dry when you’re at a restaurant. No shirt, no service as they say.

Dinner was fresh and delicious, I had grilled chicken but most of the guests had whole grilled fish, Gambo’s speciality.

After dinner there was a vuvuzela competition, fried pastry with icing sugar for dessert, and lots of homemade liqueur, before our trusty skipper delivered us safely to our floating home 20 metres away.

7. Good food

From super fresh seafood to homemade olive oils to delicious hazelnut gelato, Medsailors knows all the best spots for local eats.

Most evenings there was a recommended restaurant, so you could pre-order your meal on the boat and get your food basically as soon as you sat down.

These restaurants were all locally-owned and run, and their relationship with Medsailors brings them loads of customers so the service is much better than most Croatian restaurants. This country is notorious for slow service! Island time and all that, I guess.

If you wanted to eat elsewhere though you are more than welcome to do so, and the Medsailors team can recommend other places depending on what you’re looking for.

The food on the boat is great too. Our daily breakfast options were cereal, muesli, yoghurt, fresh bread and spreads, and something cooked like scrambled eggs or pancakes. Lunch was always a hot meal with a side salad, some of our dishes were blue cheese gnocchi, mushroom risotto and tomato pasta.

8. They’re eco-friendly

Plastic use is an incredibly important topic for travellers and travel suppliers these days, and one that’s especially close to home for anyone who lives, works or holidays on the ocean. Medsailors has taken some key steps towards being more sustainable as a company, and as a host for thousands of guests throughout summer.

One of my favourite sustainable travel products is Ethique shampoo, conditioner and body wash bars! Super lightweight, zero waste, cruelty-free AND they’re a Kiwi company so it’s a little bit of home that comes with me on the road. They ship all around the world and you can buy them in Holland & Barrett in the UK!

First of all, DON’T BRING A FLOATIE. Medsailors runs a floatie recycling programme, so when you check in at the start of the week you can ‘buy’ the previous week’s floaties for a small donation.

The weeks at the start of the summer might need to buy their own (you can get them at the supermarket at the marina where you check in, or on all the different islands) and then donate them to the cause, so by July there’ll be loads to choose from.

This means that our beloved unicorn is still having the best summer of his life sailing up and down the Croatian coast.

Medsailors is also really careful about plastic use, with proper cutlery and crockery on the boats and an eco-friendly tote bag for each guest on check in. Croatia as a country is terrible with single-use plastic, so where possible try to remember to ask for your drink without a straw, take your own bag to the supermarket and get your gelato in a cone, not a cup.

Even by choosing the Voyager route you’re helping to do your part for sustainable tourism. Over-tourism is a huge problem for a LOT of Europe, especially Croatia, so any time you go off the beaten track you’re helping to spread the amount of visitors to smaller regions, bringing in more tourist dollars to locals, and getting a way more authentic experience.

Absolutely no judgement to anyone who chooses to travel in any different way as I loooove some tourist hot spots, but it’s just a good thing to consider when you’re planning a trip! And always, always, always remember to be respectful of the land, ocean, people and culture in any place you visit.

9. BYO

Unlike lots of the other Croatia sailing companies who charge you for what you drink, in one loooong and scary bill at the end of the week, Medsailors is totally BYO for bevvies and snacks.

We stocked up on spirits, mixers, chips and popcorn at the start of the week which massively kept our costs down. This meant we could drink throughout the days without paying €5 euro per G&T, plus we could make our own punch and cocktails. Another mojito, please!

10. Choose your vessel

Medsailors’ yachts are nice. Forget about the huge wooden boats that hold 40 people and probably only a couple of bathrooms, Medsailors has three yacht options to choose from for a small crew.

The Premier and Premier Plus yachts have a similar layout, usually with two or three double cabins and two bunk cabins, at least two bathrooms, a kitchen and dining area, and then two outside areas upstairs, the back deck with sun cover and the front deck without. The Premier Plus yachts are 2014 or newer so just a bit more spacious and modern, and this is the one we went with.

The best boat though is definitely the catamaran, which is what we’ll go for next year for sure. The cat can hold 8-10 people as well but have a different layout, with slightly bigger rooms, a much more spacious kitchen and dining area that opens out into a decent-sized back deck.

Then up the front, and this is the game changer, is the net! A huge net right over the water, ideal for sunbathing and sleeping under the stars. Sign me up right now for July 2020, I’ll need a break after the craziness of the next year!

11. Just the right amount of rowdy

Although our week was a lot of swimming and relaxation, we did squeeze in a fair few drinks too… Breakfast gin, anyone?

Mostly our drinking was in the form of sipping G&Ts in the sun throughout the day, but we did enjoy one loud and rowdy night out too. When we were staying at Vrboska on Hvar, Medsailors had a bus to take everyone into the main town for dinner and whatever level of drinking you felt like.

We headed to an epic cocktail bar recommended by one of the crew, Bosscat, for fancy drinks before we headed to Appetit for dinner, where they welcomed us with honey shots. That was the beginning of the end!

Hvar was the 5th night and the perfect chance to let our hair down. We popped into Kiva Bar, one of Hvar’s most infamous party spots, and spent a couple of hours with the other guests and crew singing our hearts out.

It was a 25ish minute taxi back to the marina and there’s a curfew for noise on the boats, so we quietly (so we thought haha) continued our drinking and singing inside the boat. It was super fun and a fantastic way to celebrate our Croatia holiday with all our boatmates.

If you’re looking for a huge party week then consider Medsailors Discovery route, but if you’re keen for some downtime and exploring with a side of drinking and dancing then the Voyager would be perfect.

The final verdict on Medsailors Croatia island hopping

Sailing Croatia with Medsailors was hands down one of the best weeks of my entire life, and I reckon it’s something every single summer lover should try out.

I might be biased since it’s the only one I’ve done, but from my experience and what I’ve heard from other travellers, Medsailors is the number one choice for your Croatia island hopping trip.

From their professional skippers, incredible yachts and unique routes to their eco-friendly company policy and way of choosing your boat-mates, I was honestly so, so impressed on our trip. They exceeded all of my expectations, and my expectations were already high! It was probably the third day that our crew was discussing what Medsailors destination we were going to tick off next year. Should we do Turkey, Montenegro, Greece or Italy?

If you’ve got any questions about Croatia island hopping or if you’re considering booking your sail Croatia trip and want to pick my brain, comment below or flick me a message on Instagram at @findingalexx.

A top tip for your Croatia island hopping adventure

Don’t take too much luggage! The boat doesn’t have a huge amount of space, so a soft bag is best. I had a hard-case cabin bag because I was carrying loads of camera gear, and it fit in one of the cupboards, but it wasn’t ideal. If you’re travelling for longer than just your yacht trip (like me) consider stashing a bag in Dubrovnik or Split before your week on the boat. I used Stasher to hold my large suitcase in Dubrovnik while I was sailing, for only €5 per day.

Keen to go on your own Croatia island hopping trip with Medsailors? Get all the details and check the prices here.

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Check out more Croatia island hopping blogs here and see all my Croatia photos on Instagram @findingalexx

Massive thanks for Medsailors for hosting me and a friend for the week. As always, all opinions are my own and are based on my personal experience.

A home away from home, Spalatensis Apartment right next to Split’s Old Town is everything you need in a holiday rental. I was lucky enough to spend four nights at this place, which I reckon is the best studio apartment in Split!

After a week at sea and then five nights in an 8-bed hostel dorm (a very nice hostel, but a hostel nonetheless!), I caught a £4 Uber to the other side of Split hoping for my next apartment to just have a decent shower and a comfy bed. I was greeted by Anita and her son at the front door, and taken up one flight of stairs to the apartment of my freelancer dreams. Fantastic air con, incredible natural light, a table with comfy chairs and a bed I could definitely spend four days straight in watching Netflix on the SmartTV. Yesssss!

Sign up for Uber here and you’ll get a sweet discount on your first ride!

What’s the apartment like?

Sandro and Anita have a couple of apartments on this floor and this is the studio, but it’s more than big enough for two people. There’s a large double bed with a 4k SmartTV (hello Netflix my old friend) and a wardrobe in the bedroom, which then connects to the kitchen and dining area with a table and two chairs, and the bathroom has a rain shower and toilet.

In all honesty I haven’t got high standards now after six weeks in a yacht cabin and five nights in basically a cave bed at my hostel, but I can tell you I slept fantastically at Spalatensis. Even having Netflix on in the background as I write is such a treat compared to my recent living situations!

The kitchen is well-stocked with a microwave, stove, dishwasher and coffee machine – everything you’d need for an extended beach break.

One thing that can really make or break your stay an apartment or hotel is the shower, because no one can feel relaxed when the water pressure is less than impressive, so I’m happy to say that Spalatensis’ shower was impressive enough to be a key stand out point. Just note that in Split each house has its own hot water so if you run out then you need to wait for it to heat up again.

Where is Spalatensis Apartment?

The apartment is just one minute from Split’s Old Town so an absolutely ideal location. There are restaurants, cafes and ice cream shops all around, the port is a couple of minutes away, and it’s a few minutes’ walk from Diocletian’s Palace.

Old Town is super touristy (I was there in July so middle of summer) but because the apartment is just outside, the streets are quiet and there’s some smaller local konobas (restaurants) with delish food at decent prices. There’s also a supermarket, Konzum, just a couple of minutes away if you’re keen to cook your own food.

And on that note, what is there to do around the apartment?

For food I would definitely recommend Paradox Wine and Cheese Bar (one minute away) for a stunning rooftop terrace, local wines and the chance to choose cheeses, meats and tapenades for a DIY platter. If you want a proper meal then check out Articok just up the road for a super creative menu with local ingredients, or for something casual you can head to Pizzeria Galija for pizza and a beer.

If you walk into the Old Town there’s loads of places to eat and shop but one thing you CAN’T miss is Bili San’s natural ice cream, just a couple of minutes from the apartment. BLISS! I can vouch for Ferrero Rocher, stracciatella and lemon sorbet.

I’m not much of a history buff myself but anyone with an interest in classics will love wandering through Old Town, with its gem, Diocletian’s Palace, being built in 295AD. For Game of Thrones fans, there’s filming spots in Split that will be less hectic than Dubrovnik so if that’s your type of thing then check out some Game of Thrones tours.

Any other tips for Split?

To be totally honest the tourist boom in Croatia has brought masses of visitors to Split, so in the middle of summer it’s overrun with cruise guests and Aussies/Kiwis straight off of their Croatia sailing trips (guilty…) so I would personally suggest visiting in the shoulder season, in May/early June or September/October, where you’d still enjoy beaut weather but with lower prices and less people.

The final verdict

Sandro and Anita’s Spalatensis Apartment was exactly what I needed, and is perfect for any beach break, post-sail chill out or extended visit to Split. The location is incredible, there’s loads of space, all the amenities you’d need and easy access to restaurants and bars. Sandro, Anita and their son were all super friendly and there’s loads of city guides, tour brochures and restaurant info in the apartment too. I will 100% stay here again on my next visit to Split, hopefully not during the middle of tourist season and mid-heatwave!

If you’re looking for the best apartment in Split for a group of people, they’ve also got two other apartments on the same floor. One has a double bed and a fold out sofa bed with a terrace, and the other has two bedrooms (one large double and the other with two singles), a sofa bed, and a terrace as well.

Check the price and availability at Spalatensis Apartment for your travel dates here.

Have you got a trip to Split coming up? If you have any other Split questions comment them below!

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Check out more Croatia blogs here, and see all my Croatia photos on Instagram @findingalexx

Huge thanks to Sandro and Anita for having me stay for four nights at their beautiful apartment! As always all opinions are my own and are based on my personal experience.

Please note this blog contains affiliate links that give me a small commission from any purchase, at no extra cost to you. I would never advertise anything I don’t use or believe in, and this commission helps Finding Alexx reach more travellers. Thank you for supporting me!

After a week on a yacht sailing down the Adriatic Coast, I had eight days in Split before my big 52 countries/52 weeks adventure started, so I needed somewhere budget-friendly to stay… Enter En Route Hostel, a cheap hostel in Split! Here’s my En Route Hostel review from my stay.

What’s En Route Hostel like?

En Route Hostel is fairly new and it shows. It’s super clean and fresh, the kitchen is pretty fancy for a hostel, and it’s reasonably small so not too many people. There are eight rooms in total, I stayed in an 8-bed mixed dorm and there are other dorms with 10, 14, 18, 20 and 22 beds.

The rooms come off one main lounge which has couches and coffee tables, beanbags and a high bar-leaner table too, as well as a vending machine, a book exchange and two computers that are free to use. This is where people tend to drink and party so the noise does carry into the rooms, however they enforce quiet time from 11.30pm to 8.30am so it’s not really a problem.

Two other key things to mention are 1) air con (thank GOD) and 2) super speedy WiFi! From the other options I looked at, this is definitely one of the best cheap hostels in Split.

How was the room?

The 8-bed room was super spacious, I try and go for dorms with less people usually but this one was totally fine. The beds are in bunk set up, there’s a lockable cabinet per person which fits a cabin-size bag plus a couple of other small bags, there’s a small table and chairs, a clothing rack and loads of floor space.

The bed itself was fantastic too, with a full curtain that blocks the light, a power plug, a shelf and enough room for a laptop/book/other stuff to sit in the bottom corner (at least for short people like me). The mattress was good as far as hostels go, and you get a top sheet, a pillow, a blanket and a tiny towel.

My only two issues would be that the pillow is super soft so hardly counts as a pillow, and the towel is so small that if you wrap it around your waist it would hardly even cover your butt… As one of the guys in our room found out after his friend stole his clothes from the shower!

And the bathroom?

There’s more than enough bathrooms, with six female toilets and five showers (and I imagine the same for guys?). The bathrooms are clean and the showers have fantastic water pressure, a nice change after a week on the sea!

Where is En Route?

En Route is super close to Old Town, just an 8 minute walk away. I Ubered there from the bus station as I had bags and it cost me a whopping £1.38! There’s a couple of restaurants and coffee shops in the same complex, and there’s a Tommy supermarket, pharmacy and Bobis bakery 30 seconds away.

Sign up for Uber here and you’ll get a sweet discount on your first ride!

Does En Route serve breakfast?

No breakfast here unfortunately but there’s a really decent kitchen and loads of fridge space for you to buy your own food, or be like me and get a cheese burek every single morning!

The verdict

I was really impressed by En Route, with prices starting from £14 for a 22-bed dorm or £21 for the 8-bed I stayed in, I was definitely not expecting anything fancy. The staff are super friendly, the location was excellent, I got some decent sleep and managed to stay cool while the heatwave hit Croatia. It wasn’t a super party hostel (which are sometimes hard to avoid in places like Split) but was still easy to meet people. I’d absolutely recommend this spot to any backpackers looking for a cheap hostel in Split!

Check the price and availability at En Route Hostel for your travel dates here.

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Check out more Croatia blogs here, and see all my Croatia photos on Instagram @findingalexx

Huge thanks to En Route Hostel for hosting me for four nights. As always, all opinions are my own and are based on my experience.

Please note this blog contains affiliate links that give me a small commission from any purchase, at no extra cost to you. I would never advertise anything I don’t use or believe in, and this commission helps Finding Alexx reach more travellers. Thank you for supporting me!

It’s hard to impress a Kiwi with coastal landscape, but I’ll openly say I was blown away by our five day Cornwall road trip. The sheer cliffs dropping into bright blue ocean, the surfer way of life, the people and the FOOD. It honestly felt like we got in our Spaceship Campervan in London and drove to a whole different country.

Starting on a Thursday night and returning to London on the Monday night on a bank holiday weekend, we managed to cover the entire Cornish coast with only one day of annual leave. Cruising along the south to Land’s End for the first two days and back up the north for the second two, we created a Cornwall road trip itinerary that is totally achievable in a long weekend from London.

Here’s a map showing our campgrounds in yellow and our recommended stops in blue, and scroll on for our full list of must-sees, must-eats, must-dos and our itinerary:

Thursday night

For the full Cornish experience, we decided to hire a campervan for our beachy adventure. We collected our four-wheeled home from the Spaceships depot in Staines. It’s an hour train ride from Waterloo to Sunnymeads, and then an 800m walk from the station. They offer an out-of-hours pick up too which was perfect to allow us to head off after work.

We wanted to get as far down the coast as possible on our first night so we did the four hour drive to Plymouth and parked up for the night at Whitsand Bay Holiday Park (£25 for a powered site). Despite the long night, we passed the ‘Welcome to Cornwall’ sign as we entered Plymouth so we were off to a good start!

Friday

Plymouth was a convenient place to stay but not actually a spot we wanted to visit, so we packed up early and worked our way further down the coast and towards the magic. Our first stop was Falmouth for breakfast and supplies for our road trip. We also stopped off at Gyllangvase Beach for some fresh air, but unless you need to stop here for supplies then it’s not a must-see.

Picnic-ready, we headed to Kynance Cove and our Cornwall adventure had officially started. Definitely worth the visit, and if you have time you can walk from the carpark along the coastal path, as well as visiting Lizard Point nearby.

Next was a visit to the UK’s answer to France’s Mont Saint Michel, aptly named St Michael’s Mount. Check the tides before you visit as it’s only accessible at low tide, however the view is stunning at high tide as well.

We opted for the scenic coast road which wound us through Penzance, a gorgeous little fishing town which felt like a little step back in time.

We parked up for the night at Treverven Touring Caravan & Camping Site (£20 for a powered site). If you fancy a walk, this campsite is only a five-minute walk to the coastal path which has a front row seat to both the sunrise and the sunset.

Places we skipped on Friday due to bad weather, but worth a visit: Pendower Beach.

Saturday

Our first stop was just down the road at the Minack Theatre (£5 entry). All hail Rowena Cade who had the vision for this incredible cliff-top open air theatre in 1931. Watching a show there while the sun sets over the sea behind the stage is now on my bucket list.

From the same carpark you can see the view down to Porthcurno Beach and walk down the track for a dip if you fancy it. This area felt very much like Portugal’s Algarve, just with a few more layers of clothes.

The next stop (for a tick off the bucket list and a photo for the ‘Gram) was Land’s End carpark. Worth a visit and on a nice day would have stunning views, but unfortunately we were hemmed in by thick fog. Classic England!

Slowing our day down a bit, we parked up and watched the surfers down below in Sennen Cove. It was overcast and a bit grim, so we used the opportunity for a quick nap with a view (the bonus of having a house on wheels), but on a clear day this would be a perfect spot for a walk and swim.

Next was St Ives for lunch, with all the best Cornish options on offer! Plenty of pasties, fish and chips, and Cornish ice cream to choose from, but be prepared for the touristy prices, as well as the overly confident local seagulls.

If you’re keen on a swim, both St Ives Bay and Gwithian Towans Beach would be good spots.

That night we stayed at Beacon Cottage Farm (£26.50 for a powered site) and explored the remains of Wheal Coates, a former tin mine sitting right on the cliffs of the coast, which was a five minute walk away on the coastal path. This would be an amazing spot in good weather.

Places we skipped on Saturday due to bad weather, but worth a visit: Nanjizal Beach.

Sunday

The weather was terrible so we decided a Sunday food crawl was the perfect solution and Cornwall the perfect location as well! We drove up the coast to Padstow and took the park and ride into town (£5).

After browsing every pasty shop in the village (there are A LOT), we settled on an amazing roast lunch at the Basement, followed by cream tea and cake at Cherry Trees, a quaint and very popular tea room run by a fellow New Zealander.

Travel is always unpredictable and when the weather interferes you just have to go with the flow, and this day was the ultimate example of that. We accepted our fate and had a food coma nap, and then woke up at 5pm to the most beautiful weather we’d had all weekend.

Making the most of the summer daylight hours we drove out to Bedruthan Steps and spent hours on the beach, soaking up the views and the sunshine. Definitely the highlight of the trip and it felt like we were on Australia’s Great Ocean Road.

Driving back along the coastline we also visited Treyornan Bay right on sunset. There’s an amazing YHA right on the beach there with an outdoor restaurant area out the front that I would definitely stay at if I visited again.

That night we stayed at the Laurels Holiday Park (£24 for a powered site).

Places we skipped on Sunday due to bad weather, but worth a visit: Godrevy Heritage Coast, Chapel Porth Beach, Holywell Beach, Poly Joke Beach and Fistral beach.

Monday

We totally had the camper life under control by Monday so we splashed out and had a cooked breakfast before heading off to the Rumps. There’s quite a walk from the carpark so make sure you allow a couple of hours if you want to get to the best view point.

Stopped in at Tintagel Castle which unfortunately was closed, however from what we saw was not worth the visit. Luckily the local pastry and ice cream offerings really made up for it!

Then it was the long drive home to London, having managed to see all the best of Cornwall with only having to take one annual leave day off work.

Places we skipped on Monday due to timing, but worth a visit: Constantine Bay, Booby’s Bay, Polventon Bay, Harlyn Bay and Polzeath Bay.

Our Cornwall road trip costs for two people

Campervan hire: We were gifted a VW Delta van by the legends at Spaceships but usually these vans are about £31 per day, so £155 total

Campervan insurance: £100 (£20 per day)

Fuel: £107 (one and a half tanks)

Powered campsites: £95 (4 nights)

Groceries: £54

Eating out: £66 (Sunday roast, cream tea, pasties, Cornish ice cream)

Car parking: £12 (across multiple sites)

Return train tickets, Waterloo to Sunnymeads (campervan depot): £20 (£13.20 with a railcard)

Cornwall road trip tips

  • The size of our campervan, a Delta from Spaceships, was perfect – while it was quite cozy, it made navigating the very narrow roads of Cornwall possible, and there’s no way I’d want to do them in a full-size campervan. For a weekend it was ideal.
  • If you’re trying to pack Cornwall into a long weekend like we were, get as far down the coast on the first night as possible. This allowed us to cruise for the next few days and spend more time where the best spots are!
  • I looked at endless articles, blogs and Instagram posts to plan this road trip and the easiest way to collate all the places to visit was on Google MyMaps, like the one at the top of this page. Once I could see geographically where everything was, I could plan our route and where we needed to stay each night.
  • We pre-booked our campsites (because we needed power and we were trying to optimise our time) but this was definitely not necessary as there was plenty of space and a lot of campsite options the whole way. (For context, we went 23 – 27 May, so this could be a very different situation in the height of summer).
  • Buying groceries, making your own meals and snacking on the way is an easy way to keep costs down (and Cornwall provides plenty of picnic spots), but it’s definitely worth trying the local foods like cream tea, pasties and Cornish cheese. When in Cornwall, eat as the Cornish do!
  • The majority of carparks require cash so make sure you have small stash in your car. If you’re often road tripping through the UK then it could be worth looking into a National Trust membership which allows you to park for free.
  • Windproof jackets, no matter the season… because, coastal England.
  • Pack for very changeable weather. We were getting sunburnt in the morning, driving through rain and thick fog in the middle of the day, taking a nap and waking up to clear skies and a perfect sunset in the afternoon. Also be flexible in your plans for the same reason.

Planning your own Cornwall road trip? Here’s our recommendations for places worth a pin on your Google map and a solid starting point for your itinerary (in order of the direction we drove):

  • Pendower Beach
  • Kynance Cove
  • Lizard Point
  • Saint Michael’s Mount
  • Minack Theatre
  • Porthcurno Beach
  • Land’s End
  • Sennen Cove
  • Nanjizal Beach
  • St Ives
  • St Ives Bay or Gwithian Towans
  • Padstow
  • Godrevy Heritage Coast
  • Chapel Porth Beach
  • Bedruthan Steps
  • Treyarnon Bay
  • Holywell Beach
  • Poly Joke Beach
  • Fistral Beach
  • Constantine Bay
  • Booby’s Bay
  • Polventon Bay
  • Harlyn Bay
  • Polzeath Bay

Are you planning a Cornwall road trip? Do you have any other UK destinations that I should add to my UK bucket list? Tell me in the comments below!

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See more photos from our Cornwall road trip on my Instagram, or read more about my UK adventures here

Huge thanks to Spaceships UK for providing us with a campervan for the weekend, all opinions are my own and are based on my personal experience.

For Kiwi expats it can be hard to truly disconnect while on holiday in New Zealand, when in reality you’re often only a few hours’ drive from your home and its pressures. But jump on a 20 minute boat ride from Tairua in the Coromandel Peninsula and you’ll find yourself in a surprisingly secluded sanctuary perfect for a New Zealand glamping adventure – the Slipper Island Resort.

I must admit that the word ‘resort’ misled me. I instantly thought Fiji and commercialisation. While Fiji and Slipper Island are both tropical paradises, that’s where the similarities end. Spending 24 hours at Slipper Island Resort was genuinely the most relaxed I’ve felt in two years of travelling all over the world. It’s more of an oasis than a resort.

Own an island for a night

Their website says you can ‘own an island for a night’ and that’s the perfect description. For that night you feel you have this tiny corner of the world all to yourself.

It’s tempting to switch your phone off and hide it in a drawer to be honest. There aren’t actually many holiday destinations where you can disconnect and really ‘get away’ to that level. If you’ve never been glamping in New Zealand before, this is the absolute ideal place to do it.

Activities on and around Slipper Island

The resort owns 95% of the island so you’re able to walk from the beaches on the west to the tops of the cliffs on the east, enjoying the sun at both ends of the day and seeing the views back towards the Coromandel Peninsula and out to the Pacific Ocean.

Walking to the east side of the island to watch the sunrise from the top of a cliff was a definite highlight, with no one around except for a few sheep, a dog or two and some cattle to keep you company.

For the more active relaxers there’s plenty to keep you entertained during the day, like kayaking, swimming, snorkelling, paddleboarding and walking. Depending on what you are into, the active marine life around the island is also a popular spot for divers, spearfish and fishing.

And I’m not sure life gets much better than enjoying a beverage beach-side while the sun goes down on your private resort.

What’s the accommodation like?

There are three types of accommodation available: the self-contained chalets, glamping tents, and additional bunk rooms available within the main lodge.

The lodge has a large communal area and kitchen which would be perfect to feed and entertain bigger groups.

All the accommodation is based by ‘Home Bay’, the sandy beach cove on the east side of the island, so there’s no long trekking required to get to and from the beach, or in between your chalet/glamping tent and the lodge.  

At capacity the resort can sleep 30 people. We went to the resort as a duo but I would definitely like to return with a larger group for 2 – 3 days. I imagine it as the perfect spot for a significant birthday, extended family get-together, or even a small and intimate wedding.

Here’s our self-contained room in the lodge:

And here’s the bunk room:

And the epic glamping tents:

What does it cost?

  • Prices vary from $80 per person per night to $175 pppn depending on your choice of accommodation and how many people and/or children you have with you
  • The water taxi service to and from the island is $60/person for a return trip

How do you get to Slipper Island?

  • Tairua and Pauanui are both a very manageable two-hour drive from Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga, which all have well-serviced airports from most New Zealand locations
  • The Slipper Island Resort offers a water taxi service, if you’re not bringing your own boat over. You can book and pay for your water taxi at the same time as booking your accommodation through their website

What should you take with you?

  • Your food and drink for the duration of your stay. There’s plenty of cooking equipment and facilities at the resort so you don’t need to bring any of that with you.
  • Games and activities either for the beach or in the water, for your down time or at night. From paddleboards to a set of cards, there’s plenty of time and space for activities.
  • A lot of the land owned by the resort is farmed, so don’t pack any walking shoes that you wouldn’t want to accidentally get sheep poo on.
  • The marine life around the island is popular for divers and fishers, but if you’re not into either of those then a snorkelling set would be a good way to see some of the underwater world of Slipper Island.
  • If you’re not from New Zealand, it’s important to know that the sea never gets quite as warm as those European seas – even in summer. So if you’re on the chilly end of the scale but still want to enjoy a decent amount of time in the water then a rash shirt or a short wetsuit may be worth packing.

The final verdict on Slipper Island

I’m obsessed. I’d never been glamping in New Zealand before; I’d tried it in the Cotswolds in the UK, and stayed at a retreat in Portugal’s Algarve, but this felt like a mix of those two thrown in with New Zealand’s insane natural beauty and the feeling of being so close to home, yet so far from the 9-5 reality.

It was a whirlwind stay but I’d recommend it to all my friends back home or anyone visiting New Zealand. I can’t wait for my next visit, hopefully with a bunch of buddies to join me. And wine!

Have you been glamping in New Zealand or anywhere else? I’m going to write a ‘Most epic glamping spots’ list so would love to hear about any of your experiences! Tell me in the comments below.

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If you liked this blog, check out my other glamping adventures here and see more epic travel photos on Instagram at @findingalexx

The legends at Slipper Island Resort hosted us for one night. As always, all opinions are my own and are based on my personal experience.

Please note this blog contains affiliate links that give me a small commission from any purchase, at no extra cost to you. I would never advertise anything I don’t use or believe in, and this commission helps Finding Alexx reach more travellers. Thank you for supporting me!

They say you’ll never see a person sad on a jet ski. Well, after some intense research, I can confirm that the same applies for snowmobiles.

Nothing compares to zooming across a frozen lake at 65km/hour surrounded by snow-covered forests and mountains and visiting three countries in a matter of hours. It’s easily one of the most breath-taking landscapes and experiences I’ve had. Here’s what we got up to on our Tromso Snowmobile Adventure tour with Chasing Lights.

Snowmobiling in Tromso

I first snowmobiled in Iceland and absolutely fell in love, and my second go in Tromso did not disappoint.

Tromso is a small city in the north of Norway – so far north that it’s actually in the Arctic Circle – so it’s the perfect location for an adventurous winter getaway.

There’s loads of different tour operators who offer snowmobile day trips, but we went with the legends at Chasing Lights, who we also joined for their Arctic Fjords Road Trip and Northern Lights Minibus Chase.

To find out how we spent the whole five days, check out my Ultimate Guide to Tromso.

Here’s what our Tromso snowmobiling adventure entailed…

The day started early, meeting the Chasing Lights van and our 10 buddies for the day in the centre of Tromso at 7am, before heading north for 2.5 hours and crossing the border into Finland.

The drive alone is beautifully scenic, winding alongside fjords, and we were lucky enough to see moose crossing the road along the way.

Arriving at the Finnish village of Kilpisjärvi where our adventure started, we were fitted with extreme cold-weather gear, including insulated boots, jumpsuits, full-length coats and mittens up to your elbows, as well as balaclavas and helmets with full-face visors.

After a quick safety briefing and lesson, we were off for a three-hour epic adventure. Zooming over the vast expanse of frozen lakes, through snow-covered forests and up mountains to look back over the landscape, as well as a visit to the three-country border of Finland, Norway and Sweden.

The scenery was unbelievable and was equally as amazing as the adrenaline-pumped fun of driving the snowmobile. There were plenty of opportunities for photos along the way, chances to swap drivers for those sharing, and our guide Bert talked us through the local landscape and pointed out places of interest.

We stopped for a hot lunch in a traditional Sami hut, huddled around a fire, and then headed back across the frozen lake to Kilpisjärvi and started our drive back to Tromso.

All up the day is about 9 hours, and undeniably a thrilling experience you will never forget.  

How much does snowmobiling in Tromso cost?

For adults (16+) sharing a snowmobile, the day costs 2400 NOK (£215, about $415 NZD) per person. For adults on their own snowmobile it costs 2900 NOK (£260, about $500 NZD).

As with all adventure sports, especially in winter, the Tromso snowmobile tours aren’t cheap. But a destination like Tromso is made to be experienced, and from our experience it was worth waiting for cheap flights, opting for cheaper accommodation, and packing microwave food in our suitcases to fully get amongst the best activities the area had to offer.

What’s the weather like?

You’re nearly as far north as it gets, so it is cold. We snowmobiled near the end of January it was -25°C. Add windchill of up to 65km/hour to that and without the right gear and tour guide you would definitely be at risk of frost nip along the way.

Chasing Lights provided us with such high quality gear that was perfect for the conditions and our guide checked our hands and faces multiple times throughout the day for any signs of frost nip.

Top tip: before you go into very cold temperatures, avoid using any product on your skin that is water based as this can freeze on your face and leave you with a nasty burn. Oil-based products are ok, but we opted to not use anything on our skin, just to be safe.

Due to the cold weather, camera batteries also drain considerably faster than usual and there were times that the GoPro would switch itself off due to the cold while we were driving. If you can, it pays to take multiple batteries with you and keep your gear as close to your body as possible while you’re moving, then using it when you stop and don’t have the windchill to battle with.

The tour even included lunch!

Chasing Lights provides a cooked lunch and hot drinks, as well as a snack and water in the van on the way, but it’s important to have a hearty breakfast before you go because your body is working over-time to keep you warm. We packed porridge sachets in our suitcases which were a quick and warm breakfast at our AirBnB before our big days outside.

The final verdict

No surprises here but I’m totally, totally sold on snowmobiles. It’s a super fun way to get around, and the enjoyment is compounded when you’re zooming across multiple borders and through a winter wonderland in the Arctic Circle. It’s not a cheap option but Tromso (and Norway in general) is made for people who have a bit of extra cash to burn, so if you can afford it I’d definitely recommend it. You can see all the tour details for the Tromso snowmobile adventure with Chasing Lights right here.

Are you a speed demon, or do thrill activities freak you out a little bit? I’d love to hear your thoughts and if you’d go on a snowmobile tour yourself! Tell me in the comments below.

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Heading to Norway soon? See my Ultimate Tromso Guide here, my other Tromso blogs here and check out my Instagram @findingalexx for more epic travel photos!

Huge thanks to Chasing Lights for hosting us on their Tromso Snowmobile Adventure. As always, all opinions are my own and are based on my personal experience.

The Northern Lights, wild reindeer, snowmobiling, magical fjords, -25°C and the Northern Lights for a second time were the stand out things to do in Tromso. This place is a winter wonderland mixed with an adventurer’s dream, with plenty to do and see even in the insane cold and limited daylight. Here’s my ultimate Tromso guide, complete with our Tromso itinerary, accommodation, tours, tips and costs. Enjoy!

Tromso cable car view

Our Tromso itinerary

Saturday

Afternoon: Fly to Tromso from London Gatwick with Norwegian (£140 return per person including one bag to share)
Evening: Arrive in Tromso, taxi to Tromso Lodge and Camping (260 NOK)
Stay: Tromso Lodge and Camping

Sunday

Morning: Walk to the Fjellheisen cable car and catch the cable car up to the viewing platform (210 NOK)
Afternoon: Chill out at the lodge and make our own lunch to save money
Evening: Northern Lights Minibus Chase with Chasing Lights
Stay: Tromso Lodge and Camping

Monday

All day: Arctic Fjords road trip with Chasing Lights
Evening: Northern Lights Minibus Chase with Chasing Lights
Stay: Airbnb in Tromso city centre, get £25 off your first Airbnb booking using this link

Tuesday

All day: Snowmobile Adventure with Chasing Lights
Evening: Drinks at Cafe Sann
Stay: Airbnb in Tromso city centre

Wednesday

All day: Wander around the city
Evening: Fly back to London

Tromso accommodation lodge

Tromso basics

Norwegian currency

Norway uses the krone. 10 krone is 88p, $1.70NZD or $1.65AUD at the time of writing (March 2019).

Affordability

Tromso, like the rest of Norway, is not cheap. If you’re on a tight budget then it might not be the place for you, but that’s not to say you can’t do it cheaply. If you’re happy to stay at a campground or in a hostel, make your own food and focus on one or two key experiences, then it’s definitely doable. Just don’t expect five-star hotels and three-course meals unless you’re on (at least!) a six-figure salary. You lucky bugger.

Tromso cable car view

Climate

Tromso’s average temperature in summer is around 12-15°C, and in winter is around -5–7°, but it can be much colder up the cable car mountain and around the fjords. We experienced -15° on our snowmobiling tour, and with windchill it was more like -25°. Ever felt your eyelashes freeze together? It’s not particularly enjoyable.

Language

Most people in Tromso speak at least basic English, but it’s always nice to know some local words to show that you’re making an effort.
Yes = Ja
No = Nei
Please = Vær så snill
Thank you = Tusen takk
Hello = Hallo
Goodbye = Ha det

Snowmobiling Tromso Norway

When to go to Tromso

The best time to visit Tromso depends on your plans when you’re there. The Northern Lights are visible from September to April, and it’s the Polar Night from mid-November to mid-January. That means the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon (yep, for two months!), and that gives you way more darkness to try spot the lights.

We were there at the end of January and the sun rose around 9.30 and set around 2.30. During winter you can go husky sledding, snowmobiling, skiing, ice fishing and loads more.

If you visit Tromso in summer, you’ll be treated to stunning landscapes, magnificent hikes, kayaking around the fjords, Arctic beaches, a bustling student town and the Midnight Sun if you’re there from end of May to end of July.

Tromso fjord road trip

How to get to Tromso

We flew from London Gatwick to Tromso with Norwegian direct, which took 3.5 hours each way. Norwegian is the only airline that flies direct, and you’ll probably pay between £120 and £150 return from London, cheaper if you book in advance and don’t fly on weekends.

If you’re travelling in the summer then there may not be direct flights available, in which case you’ll need to fly to Oslo and then up to Tromso from there. I’m impatient though so I always pay a bit extra if there’s a direct option available!

We landed at 9pm to -10° at the airport and we were wearing very mild London winter clothes (including bare ankles ha), so keep that in mind when you’re packing your hand luggage.

How to get to Tromso from the airport

260 NOK from the airport to Tromso Lodge and Camping. Go right when you come out of arrivals and the taxi line is at an exit about 100m down the airport. You can pay by card!

Ultimate Tromso guide

Where to stay in Tromso

Hotels in Tromso are expeeeensive, like over £120 per night for somewhere pretty average, room only. We split our time between two gorgeous (and cheap!) options: Tromso Lodge and Camping for two nights, and an Airbnb in the city for two nights. I would definitely recommend booking somewhere with access to a kitchen because eating out is insanely pricey, so being able to cook some noodles or porridge is a real money-saver.

Tromso Lodge and Camping

Located across the bridge from the main city centre, Tromso Lodge and Camping is maybe the most photogenic campground on the planet. In winter anyway! They’ve got gorgeous little red cabins, straight out of Wes Anderson movie.

We got a traditional cabin which was slightly bigger than the cheaper option, with a full kitchen, lounge, dining area, bathroom and two rooms with two bunk beds each. Note that their opening hours are 7am to 8pm, and if you arrive late (like we did, thanks flight delays) they just put your key in the grey bin by reception door.

The campground is colder than Tromso city centre as it’s located in a valley under the mountains, but the insulation is perfect so you don’t feel the cold at all. It’s about seven minutes’ walk to the nearest bus stop (straight into the city), 30 minutes’ walk to the cable car and about 45 minutes walk across the bridge to the town centre.

Airbnb

After two days in the crazy cute campground, we moved house into a central city Airbnb, just two minutes from the main street in Tromso. The apartment was one bedroom, one bathroom, a full kitchen and spacious lounge. It was definitely one of Tromso’s cheaper options and it set us back about £110 per night including the cleaning fee. It also had a fold out couch so could sleep an extra two people if needed.

The location was ideal, the key was in a lockbox right outside and there was loads of space for us to unpack our suitcases into an absolute mess. The insulation wasn’t as good as Tromso Lodge and Camping but the bed linen was super warm (duck down!) and Berit brought us spare blankets when we mentioned that we were a bit cold after a day of snowmobiling in -30°C. Now that’s customer service!

Get £25 off your first Airbnb booking when you use this link!

How to get around Tromso

Tromso is a small town, and it’s easy to get around by bus or by taxi. There’s no Uber but Tromso Taxi has their own app where you can book and pay for rides. It cost us 260 NOK to get from the airport to our lodge, and then about 160 NOK to get from the lodge to the city when we needed to move our suitcases.

The bus is easy too, just download the Troms Mobillett app to pre-purchase tickets (33 NOK per journey), or pay in cash when you jump on (which is slightly more expensive). We loaded 200 NOK at the beginning of the trip and had 68 NOK leftover after taking two trips each, including one out to the airport. You can also buy a 24 hour pass for 100 NOK but I think it’d be unlikely that you’d use the bus enough to make it worth it.

Note that the buses don’t go that often, a maximum of four times per hour in peak times, so check the timetable before you plan your transport.

In summer I imagine Tromso would be very car-friendly, but I would not recommend hiring a car in winter unless you’re an experienced winter/snow/ice driver.

Tromso sunset

What to do in Tromso

Tromso is a winter wonderland with plenty to do and see if you’re up for an adventure, but you need to get out of the city for the best experiences.

Fjellheisen Cable Car

In Tromso itself make sure you take a trip up the Fjellheisen cable car, across the bridge from the central city. It costs 210 NOK return per adult, or you can buy one way and walk either up or down (not recommended in winter unless you have appropriate winter hiking gear).

The view is truly incredible, especially if you catch it at the perfect light. We were there in only the second week after the polar night so we had about five hours of the most beautiful golden light, with the sun only just rising over the mountains.

One thing to note is that the top of the cable car gets freezing, as in the coldest I have ever been. We weren’t particularly prepared for just how cold the wind would be, and that took it from a balmy -10 to probably about -25 with the wind chill factor.

On top of this we were being stupid and trying to take photos with no gloves on, and it very quickly went from uncomfortably chilly to ‘is my finger actually going to fall off’. Wear a buff/neckwarmer, gloves, a beanie, warm socks and waterproof shoes.

See the Northern Lights

You’re always at the mercy of Mother Nature with this one but it wouldn’t be a trip to Tromso without a lights chase. We did a Northern Lights Minibus Chase with Chasing Lights (it’s all in the name ya know…) two nights in a row and we were treated to the show of a lifetime. That tour is 1800 NOK per person, which includes pick up from the city, comfy transport in a minibus for up to 14 people, free WiFi, tripods, warm outdoor suits and boots, dinner and some snacks, and drop off to your Tromso city hotel afterwards.

Oh and all Chasing Lights tours come with incredible tour guides who double as professional photographers (shout out to Bert, Jonas, and Hermann!). This means you can legitimately soak up the experience without worrying about capturing photos, and you’ll still get amazing shots for the ‘Gram.

If you’d like a cheaper option they also offer a big bus chase on a bus with up to 50 passengers. Hands down one of the best things I’ve done in my life, and the greatest way to celebrate my 27th birthday. Read more about our Northern Lights experience and see loads of photos here.

Explore the fjords

The area around Tromso is stunning, and we did a fantastic Arctic Fjords road trip with Chasing Lights around the Arctic Fjords for a day. The tour goes from 9am to 3/4pm, and includes a suit and boots if necessary, a light lunch and hot choc, professional photos and transport in a comfy van with WiFi.

We drove around mountains, lakes, inlets and beaches, visiting some postcard-perfect viewpoints that are almost completely untouched. We saw reindeer, had a campfire lunch on the beach, ran across a frozen lake and watched the sun set behind towering snow-capped mountains. These are the kinds of places that make you feel a world away from reality, and I LOVE that feeling.

Go on a snowmobile adventure

I first snowmobiled in Iceland and absolutely fell in love, and my second go in Tromso did not disappoint. There are a couple of different tour operators who offer snowmobile day trips, but ours was the Snowmobile Adventurewith the legends at Chasing Lights. We departed Tromso early in the morning for a 2.5 hour drive across the border to Finland, where we kicked off our adrenaline rush of the trip. In total we spent about three hours on the snowmobiles all up, stopping to swap drivers, take photos and have a campfire lunch in a traditional Sami hut, as well as visiting the three-country border between Finland, Norway and Sweden. It’s bloody freezing but you’ll get full weather-proof gear, and you’ll forget about the -25° chill when you’re in the middle of a snowy forest with nothing around you except pure white. It’s a winter heaven!

What to eat in Tromso

It depends on how rich you are! If you aren’t at all (like meee) you’d best stick to food from home, supermarket snacks or maybe the odd cafe visit. I paid 40 NOK for a Vitamin Water from a convenience store, 180 NOK for two local beers, and 119 NOK for a chicken nugget meal at BK (the northernmost BK in the world though so that’s gotta be worth something).

Save your money for more important things, like chasing the Northern Lights, and take microwaveable meals and your own snacks. On that note, if you are on a day or evening tour, you’ll probably get a meal (like fish soup or beef stew) and marshmallows to roast over the campfire.

If you can afford to pay for meals then I’d recommend Cafe Sann for drinks, Burgr for burgers and Risø for coffee and pastries. I can also recommend the little pancakes and syrup from BK (all day baby!) and the Snickers shake from Mix, a chain convenience store. Probably the greatest £6 I spent in Norway.

Tromso camping

What to pack for Tromso

THERMALS. It gets DAMN cold. Layers are your best friend, ensure that you have plenty of singlets/vests, leggings and warm socks as well as jumpers, proper trousers (not jeans), jackets, boots, beanies, scarves and gloves.

We also took hand-warmers which were a lifesaver up the top of the cable car! If you’re on a budget then pack your own food to save money, like microwave noodles, muesli bars, cereal and snacks.

Tromso Lodge and Camping accommodation

The full details

Have you been to Tromso, or is it on your bucket list? Have I missed out anything that you want to know about Tromso? Tell me in the comments below!

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Check out more Tromso photos on my Instagram @findingalexx

Thanks to Chasing Lights for hosting us on their epic Tromso tours, and thanks to Tromso Lodge and Camping for offering us media rates to stay with them. As always, all opinions are my own and are based on my personal experience.

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