Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Stay Classy 2014: 2014 Travel Review

2014 Travel Review | Todd's Travels Travel Blog

Wow, 2014 what a year.

Despite spending most of 2014 studying for my final exams, I managed to fit in a fair bit of travelling and I made the most of the last dying moments of my student overdraft, which in turn meant the second half of the year was spent paying it off.

But it was so bloody worth it.

2014 saw 6 destinations, two I had never been to before, a new continent and a return to my old stomping ground. It wasn't a shabby year, to say the least.

2014 Travel Review : Plaza Real Barcelona | Todd's Travels Travel Blog
2014 Travel Review: Eating tapas Barcelona | Todd's Travels Travel Blog
2014 Travel Review: Seared Tuna at La Mary, Barcelona | Todd's Travels Travel Blog
2014 Travel Review: Parc Güell, Barcelona | Todd's Travels Travel Blog
2014 Travel Review: Parc Güell Lizard, Barcelona | Todd's Travels Travel Blog
2014 Travel Review: Juices at La Boqueria Market, Barcelona | Todd's Travels Travel Blog

January was quiet due to dissertation deadlines and exams but February really got the ball rolling. February saw a weekend trip away to Barcelona to meet up with my co-Central America traveller Martina. It was the perfect weekend trip with plenty of eating, drinking and being merry. Plus plenty of aimless wandering (sorry Martina).

2014 Travel Review: Scene in Georgetown's Old Town, Penang, Malaysia | Todd's Travels Travel Blog
Georgetown Old Town, Penang, Malaysia | Todd's Travels Travel Blog
Tea Plantation, Cameron Highlands, Malaysia | Todd's Travels Travel Blog
Piggy custard buns, Dim Dim Sum, Hong Kong | Todd's Travels Travel Blog
Teamwork in Jordan, Hong Kong | Todd's Travels Travel Blog
Buddha at Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, Hong Kong | Todd's Travels Travel Blog
Hong Kong Skyline, Hong Kong | Todd's Travels Travel Blog

Then in April saw two new destinations being explored (and my first time in Asia). I made the 12 hour flight over to Hong Kong to see my sister from another mister Caitlin before making the most of her holiday time to venture around Malaysia for 10 days. The time was spent eating as much yummy delicacies as humanly possible as well as fitting in a cheeky bit of exploring too.

Wollaton Hall, Nottingham | Todd's Travels Travel Blog
Nottingham sign at University Park Campus, Nottingham | Todd's Travels Travel Blog
Graduation 2014, Nottingham | Todd's Travels Travel Blog

It was a good job I went off to Asia before my final exams because May through to the end of June saw me stuck in Nottingham. That's not to say I didn't do some last minute exploring of the place I called home for four years. Oh, and I only went and graduated too. Grand.

Malaga, Spain | Todd's Travels Travel Blog
Graffiti tag, Malaga | Todd's Travels Travel Blog
Malaga skyline at night | Todd's Travels Travel Blog
Paris skyline from Printemps roof | Todd's Travels Travel Blog
Upside down Christmas Tree, Galeries Lafayette, Paris | Todd's Travels Travel Blog

There was a little-documented trip to Málaga as a post-graduation celebration (where I did little but eat and laze in the sun) but then the rest of my time was spent paying off my substantial student overdraft. Although I casually booked some tickets off to Paris this month (more on that later) and I finally returned to the beautiful city after almost two years away. It was a pretty sweet way to round off 2014.

So what's in store for 2015? Well. I may have mentioned this in passing (or just every waking minute) but I am finally making my return to my beloved Colombia in February for 6 months. Not much is set in stone other than that but I've got a sneaky feeling 2015 is going to be a good'un.

So here's to 2014, and now is time to briefly start off the year with good intentions before slipping back into our sinful, immoral ways. Happy new year and have a great 2015!

How was your 2014? What are your travel plans for 2015?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Importance of Saying No

Turns out being a yes person isn't all it's cracked out to be - The Importance of Saying No | Todd's Travels Travel Blog

Recently, things have been hectic. Work has been busy and when I get home from work, I'm on the computer doing freelance gigs.

I'm a people pleaser (guilty as charged) and I hate saying no to projects that come my way. But all I've been doing recently is work, work, work.

All work and no play makes Naomi a dull girl.

And even though I knew exactly what was going to happen, I headed on auto-pilot to burnout. Big time.

It's funny because I've constantly said I want to be a yes person, I want to seize every opportunity that comes my way and I don't want to turn down opportunities that could potentially be life-changing, enrich my life etc. etc. you know the whole self-improvement stuff and to basically be the embodiment of, dare I say it, YOLO (I'm dying inside writing this).

But then when I was saying yes to everything that came my way, I was drowning under all my newly-gained commitments. Time management nor organisation have been my strong suit and I was failing big time.

It all came to a head when I over-ambitiously said yes to a project that in no way, shape or form did I have the skills for nor did it interest me in the slightest. Then when it all went tits up, I was all over the place. I couldn't sleep, I wasn't thinking straight and I could barely focus myself on other work commitments.

I then managed to get a standard mammoth cold. I know, I know, hardly the biggest problem, but I'm melodramatic and it made a big impact on my mood.

To say the least, I wasn't a happy bairn.

It's at these times, fate comes into play and it's almost serendipitous the sequence of events that make you have an epiphany.

In my case, it came in the form of coming across this great blog by the Middle Finger Project: How to Say No to your Clients without being a Bitch (which applies very much so outside of work too) and this TED Talk, The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer:

I'm a big reader of self-improvement blogs(in the misguided belief that I, one day, will improve myself) and mindfulness is a regularly recurring word at the moment.

Being open to new ideas and opportunities is very much something I'm an advocate of. However, the big thing I've learnt recently is knowing the opportunities and ideas that you will never want to do is equally as important.

Whether it's going to a particular destination, a new venture, relationships, work, social gatherings, knowing when to say no will make saying yes all the easier and all the sweeter. 

Saying no is seen as a negative action in many other ways than purely grammatical, but knowing when to say no is a positive step for yourself and your well-being. Saying no is in some ways saying yes for you and being selfish in a good way.

After all, in the wise words of The Middle Finger Project's founderWhen making business decisions, it's either fuck no, or fuck yes. Anything else is a waste of your time. 

I think the same applies outside of your work life too.

What do you think - is saying no always a bad thing?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Gift Ideas for Travel Lovers

Before the 1st December, I am the biggest Grinch in the world.

I hate the ridiculously early pre-Christmas anticipation, the excessive amount of poorly executed Christmas ads on the TV (Monty the Penguin, what is that all about?) and of course, the worst bit of all?

Christmas shopping.

Or at least, the fact whenever you go into town from mid-November onwards, it is packed. And if you dared to venture out last weekend - how did you even get out of it unscathed?

But then December comes around and I feel it's perfectly justifiable to melt the ice queen exterior and (slightly) give into the 'Tis the Season to be Jolly malarkey.

And no doubt, probably around the 19th/20th December time, I will realise I have yet to sort out ANY Christmas presents.

I never learn.

But, naturally, I've already thought out of the sort of presents I would ideally like to give (and be given, WINK WINK) were my budget not so restricted.

And some of you may be running low on ideas to buy for your very own travel lover whether it's your brother from another mother, an actual blood relative or the love of your life. So the good person that I am, I've decided to share some of my Christmas gift ideas and maybe some of these will take your fancy.

So without further ado, my Christmas gift ideas for travel lovers.

The Colombiaphile

I had the pleasure of trying these tasty little morsels of chocolate covered Colombian coffee beans (that's one hell of a mouthful) by Amelia Rope at the Colombian Food Fest in London last week and considering they're made in Colombia, it's nice little touch to the usual chocolate-based present idea.

The Wanderluster

For ridiculously photogenic inspiration with words that will have you chomping at the bit to book the next flight, a subscription to AFAR magazine (you can get it digitally if you can't get the print copy) is ideal reading material for those who've been bitten by the travel bug.

The Journal Keeper

My Dad gave me a Moleskine notepad many blue moons ago and ever since then, it's still a special occasion, to sit down and write in it, admittedly when I do actually find time to do so (when I manage to sit down for more than two seconds). I've been meaning to regularly write a journal since god knows how long but for those who do write a diary religiously, you can't go wrong with a Moleskine.

The Coffee Fiend

For those who need their caffeine fix in the morning (or afternoon or evening), these cute DIY coffee pods make a nice gift with a personal touch.

The Book Worm

Being able to sink into a book when travelling is synonymous with that holiday feeling. For Christmas, why not add to their book collection with these suggestions?

For a classic, the iconic On the Road is a good start, for a laugh out loud and poignant in equal measures travel journal, Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island and for the language lover, Lingo: A Language Spotter's Guide to Europe by Gaston Dorren sounds right up their street (definitely up mine).

If you're feeling particularly flash, why not buy a Kindle. It may sound like sacrilege to those who love having an actual book but for travel purposes, it's less weight and more reading material - what more could you want?

The Explorer

They've been here, there and everywhere and most of their stories will start off with "This one time in...". They've probably been there, done that and got the t-shirt in most places around the world. So finding them a gift for their perpetually itchy feet is quite a challenge.

To give them an unique experience whilst they're inevitably on the road, Tinggly has the answer. By buying a gift box for $125, the recipient can choose from experiences ranging from a Two Day Tour around Halong Bay in Vietnam, Half a Day Wine Tasting in Santiago, Half a Day Barrier Reef Dive in Belize and many, many more options, worldwide. There are just so many great options (although sadly none in my dear Colombia, as of yet) that even the fussiest traveller would be hard-pushed to not find something that didn't float their boat.

If anyone who knows me is reading this and you know, short of present inspiration, cough, cough, wink, wink, you know the rest.

The Shutterbug

For the snappy happy friend, other half or family member, something to add to their photography collection is ideal.

This cute little bottletop tripod for point and shoots means you never to wrestle with a massive tripod again.

Finally, it's not just iPhones that are having all the fun as Olloclip now does detachable lenses for Samsung too.

And if you really want to push the boat out, ONA camera bags are the solution for a stylish but useful camera bag that doesn't scream that there's an expensive DSLR in it (one day, I will get my hands on one of these).

What are your Christmas gift ideas?