First-time advice for backpackers in South East Asia - my tips and tricks

 Well hello to my reader chums! Backpacking has my heart. I've backpacked on two occasions, once in 2019 and again, earlier this year. During those periods, I travelled for two months and three months and each trip taught me loads about myself, how I travel and what I love about the world.

If you're considering going backpacking for the first time or planning your trip, here's my guide to first-time advice for backpackers.

First time advice for backpackers in South East Asia - my tips and tricks

Don't overpack

You'll be carrying your backpack around the entire duration of your trip and the last thing you'll want is something to weigh you down too much. I always say, pack what you think you need and then half it. When it comes to clothes and toiletries, you can buy more when you're out there. Plus, the weather is incredibly hot, so you won't need to wear a lot. Backpacking isn't a fashion show, you don't need fancy clothes, and you should pack lightweight layers, which are practical and easy to wear for every occasion, and weather. Trust me, a lot of your clothes will get ruined!

Always overcompensate with budget - and have a safety net

South East Asia is cheap, that's why it attracts a large amount of backpackers every single year. Although, despite the cheap price of everything, you want to overprepare just in case. Whether you find an expensive excursion when you're roaming around, you see a souvenir you fall in love or you want to treat yourself to a posher restaurant. On the flip side, you never know what expenses will show up, such as getting in an accident, losing money or getting scammed. You can't plan for the unexpected and that's why it's good to overcompensate so you'll have the budget to cover it.

Buy travel insurance

Similar to overcompensating with money, you want to be prepared for the unexpected and that's where travel insurance comes in. Travel insurance is essential for medical needs abroad and anything else you need to be covered, such as cancellation of the trip or any outdoor activities you are thinking of going on. Travel insurance will help cover you for any instances or things that don't go to plan, saving you loads of money to shell out at that moment.

Have cash on you always 

South East Asia is renowned for using cash for all payments, such as restaurants, cafes, transport and souvenirs. Due to this, don't expect to show up and pay for everything with a card. Always have cash on hand, or load all your money on a travel card/bank card and take it out in one of the local ATMS. 

Research the 'dos' and 'dont's' of your destination's culture

Every destination has different rules and cultural norms and it's important to be respectful when you jet off somewhere new. Do all the necessary research when it comes to societal norms to ensure you're respectful of the location and the people. This could be covering up in temples or not breaking any laws of the land.

Prepare for the weather seasons

The seasons are wildly different, from dry to wet and it's important to prepare for both. Dry seasons mean it's hotter and you need to be packed and prepped for that. Whilst wetter seasons, you'll likely experience more dangerous weather situations and a lot more rain. This means packing waterproofs and layers and being mentally prepared for not having picture-perfect weather every day. Also, different countries in South East Asia have different seasons so also be aware of that.

Learn the scams of the land

As backpacking is incredibly common across South East Asia, scams are rife for tourists. Common scams are widely written about online and you should spend time researching what could happen where you're going. For instance, if you don't set a price at the beginning of a tuk-tuk ride, the driver may charge you a lot more.

Get used to haggling 

Haggling is key to getting the most out of your money in Southeast Asia and why you need to learn how to do it best. You'll be haggling when it comes to markets and tuk-tuk rides and sometimes in souvenir shops too - be alert and be the way to get the best price.

Book the appropriate vaccines

Your health is the most important thing, especially when you're travelling as it's that level of health which will keep you going. Before you travel long-term, speak to your doctors about the appropriate vaccines you need. Depending on where you live and your doctors, some vaccines may be free whilst others you may have to pay for. On my first trip, my vaccines were free but on the second trip, I paid around £400 for vaccines as I went to more rural destinations.

Go with an open mind

The beautiful part of backpacking around South East Asia is everything you'll learn along the way, the unique experiences, delicious food and welcoming people. It's probably one of the best experiences you can have and the perfect opportunity to be open-minded. You never know who you'll meet or what you'll experience along the way.

I hope you enjoyed this post. When are you planning this trip?

Thank you for reading <3

Dealing with the quieter periods as a freelancer

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Freelancing is HARD. It's an up-and-down road for sure and getting used to that wave is all part of being a freelancer. I have to admit, this wave is something I struggle with, especially the quieter periods. 

If you're new to freelancing or struggling with your mental health, here is my advice on dealing with the quieter periods as a freelancer

Dealing with the quieter periods as a freelancer

Focus on the admin side of your business

Freelancing is a blessing and a curse as it's forever either busy or quiet. With that in mind, in busy periods, it can be harder to deal with the admin side of your business. Whether that's emailing, following up on invoices, updating your website or organising your calendar, these tasks are tedious but great to do during quieter periods.

Work on your website/update your portfolio

Your website and portfolio showcase who you are, what you offer and the quality of your work. For all prospective clients, they want to know this information and why it's crucial to ensure it's up to date. This means adding all new projects to your portfolio and keeping your website updated with relevant prices and information.

Delve into passion projects

I love a passion project as it really helps boost my creativity and spark my imagination, which in turn, benefits my work. Passion projects can be whatever you want them to be and a focus which will take you away from work but also give you a focus when things are quiet. My passion projects include this blog and my novels. 

Work on the marketing for your business

Marketing is key to helping build your personal brand and grow your online presence. In the quieter periods, this is the time to work on your marketing. Whether that's setting up an email marketing newsletter, mapping out your monthly social media content or writing blog posts. Whatever your marketing strategy is utilise this time to enforce working on it.

Pitch/search for new clients and work

Looking for work is difficult and tedious especially when a project comes to a close unexpectedly. Utilise this time to search for new clients and work. This could be pitching for a company you love, reaching out on LinkedIn or searching on freelancer-type websites. 

Go to networking events

Networking I found is one of the best ways to meet new potential clients, learn who is in your industry and grow your skills. Plan more networking events during the quieter times as you'll have more time and energy to focus on speaking with others.

Revisit and update your positivity log

In the quieter periods, for me, self-doubt hits like a tonne of bricks. At this time, you should (if you haven't already) create a positivity log and revisit it this time. This log should include any feedback you've had from a personal and professional perspective.

I hope you enjoy this post. What else would you add?

Thank you for reading <3

Book review: The Write Way To Die by Jo Bavington-Jones

 Well hello you my reader chums! I'm a big murder mystery nerd and especially love it when a book is set somewhere local. My partner got me this book and I was very intrigued by the title and how it was about a writing group, and from an author I hadn't heard before.

If you're a fan of dark humour, and honesty and are a writer yourself, you will love The Write Way To Die by Jo Bavington-Jones - and here is my full review.

Book review: The Write Way To Die by Jo Bavington-Jones


The plot is about Amy who leaves her job at the vets to pursue her writing career. When one of the customers, Jenny comes in one day and mentions she's a writer too, she invites Amy to join her writing group. There she meets many like-minded writers and every week they have the opportunity to share ideas with each other. When the pandemic happens, their weekly meetings are moved virtually and they begin exchanging their murder stories, for everyone to enjoy and critique. Each story has a different tone to it and when it gets to Robert's story, his story is the darkest of them all, with the aim to make a killer nickname for himself.

Characters and relationships

The protagonist Amy is a brilliantly written character of a truly honest woman, who is unapologetically herself - and that's why she was really great to read about. I love how she dared to walk away from her job and pursue her writing dream, even if she struggled in the process. Her obsession with chocolate oranges made me laugh as she was even more relatable. She was typically British in every way and the perfect protagonist for a novel like this. 

Amy's best friend Cameron had to be one of my favourite characters because he seemed like someone who always knew how to have fun and bring joy. I loved their relationship as it was real and honest, and how every good friendship should be. It's one of those friendships that shows you can meet a good friend at work and continue that friendship.

My favourite friendship though had to be between Amy and Jenny because as the plot goes on, you see how it blooms along the way and gets stronger. Whereas with Amy and Cameron, their friendship had already been built if that makes sense. I love that they shared their passion for writing and were essentially the leaders of the writing group.

Overall thoughts 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and its concept. Initially, when I began reading it, I wasn't sure what to make of it as it seemed quite slow-paced and focused more on the character development side of things. However, as the book continued and the different stories were shared of all the fiction murders, I was hooked, reading all the different perspectives. It's one of those books where you need to sink into it for a while and learn the context before you can fully appreciate it - and then you will love it! 

I loved the writing style of the author and how it was honest, simple and as if the protagonist was just sharing her thoughts. Also, I enjoyed how she was able to change perspectives based on whose story she was telling - a very clever addition to the novel.


The book gets darker and darker in a comical sense from the middle to the end and I wasn't sure how it was going to end. Sometimes with a book, you get an inkling of how it would end and even though I had an idea of what would happen, I didn't think that would be the ending of the book. It ended in such a dramatic way and completely threw me off guard but that's what I love about this novel, it was very unexpected in many parts of the plot.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What book are you currently reading?

Thank you for reading <3

How to deal with the pressure in your late twenties

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Turning 27 this year, I definitely felt the weight of that pressure that I'm now in my late twenties and the comparison of everyone's lives. It's weird how much everything changes from your early twenties to mid-twenties and late twenties, regarding people's expectations, your own expectations and the pressure to have it all.

There have been many moments this year where I've had the '27 panic'. I'm not entirely sure if it's a common thing but I've heard that 27 is a make-or-break year and I can see why. If you're in your late twenties and feeling like you're not where you're meant to be, here is how to deal with the pressure in your late twenties.

How to deal with the pressure in your late twenties

Focus on what you have achieved

In times of self-loathing and picking all the negative things about yourself, you need to refocus on the positive things. These include your personal achievements, who you are what you've achieved. We all have different achievements and you should be proud of what yours are. When I look back, I'm shocked about everything I've done in my twenties; the endless travelling, running two businesses, writing five books, building a marketing career, and a lot of personal growth - it has been a wild road.

Remind yourself that everyone has different priorities and goals

Nobody is the same, that's the beautiful thing about life and the human race. We were born to be different and lead unique lives from each other, that's how we all gain perspective. With that in mind, everyone is different when it comes to achieving goals and reaching the typical milestones society tells us to do in our twenties. You don't need to have achieved everything by this moment and for those who have bought a house or had kids, you've still got time to do that, focus on what you've done and know, they're on a different timeline.

Know that your twenties are incredibly young

I keep having to remind myself that being in your twenties is YOUNG. Why does society tell us we need to do everything in our twenties? Whether that's travel, getting married, having kids or investing. Your twenties is the decade to start figuring out who you are and what adulting is. The decision-making part in your brain doesn't form until you're 25 so why should you need to make any big life-altering decisions before then?

Avoid the social media doom scroll

Social media is toxic in so many ways but especially for comparison. I'm easily swayed when I see someone else doing all these amazing things and almost forget social media is a highlight reel. It's only showing the finished products of achievements, not all the sacrifices and the hard work that went into it.

Know, you don't need to rush - everything comes with time

Stop rushing. Take a step back and enjoy the moment, enjoy the process for that matter. The best things come in time and so should the goals you want to achieve. It feels a little more accomplished knowing you waited and worked hard, rather than rushing everything and feeling stressed. The final product is great but the journeys are what the stories are for - don't forget about the journey as you're too focused on the end goal.

Set attainable goals

The pressure can lead you to think up goals you're unlikely to achieve, creating even more pressure and stress. It's important to set attainable goals for where you are at in life, your income and for what you actually want to achieve (not what society tells you).

Stop comparing yourself to your parents and grandparents

The generations before us used to do everything at a much younger age but that's because times were different, expectations were different, ambitions were different and the economy was different. There's no point in comparing as circumstances were different and you can only work as necessary to achieve your goals in this timeline, not the past.

Your twenties are your first years of adulthood

I saw this video recently which said, age 18 is your year one at adulthood which means in your twenties, you're only a couple of years old in your adult years and it's true. You're living the adult world for the first time, away from the comfort of your parent's direction, earning adult money for the first time and having responsibilities. You're not meant to get this right, you're meant to fail, learn and pick yourself up again.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What other tips would you add?

Thank you for reading <3

2-week itinerary to Vietnam

 Well hello to you my reader chums! I'm obsessed with Vietnam; I've been twice and I'm completely and utterly in love with the country. I dream of going back all the time as it's such a wonderful place, packed with the BEST food, gorgeous sights, lovely people and a friendly feel.

You can travel to Vietnam for a shorter or longer period, however, 2 weeks gives you enough time to immerse in the culture and explore some of the country's best sights. If you're planning a visit to Vietnam, here is my 2-week itinerary to Vietnam.

2-week itinerary to Vietnam

3 days in Hanoi

As the capital city, Hanoi is a bustling environment everyone should experience. I love the buzz of Hanoi; the endless traffic, crowds of people, cool coffee shop scene and historic sights are everything to get a glimpse of city life in Hanoi. The famous sights include the Vietnamese Women’s Museum, Train Street, Hoa Lo Prison and Hoan Kiem Lake, as well as trying a classic Egg Coffee.

1 night in Mai Chau

Escape the taste of city air and head to the quaint, rural village of Mai Chau. Many visitors want to see the rice fields in Vietnam and you should too. Most travellers opt for Sapa Valley, however, during my time, it was too early in the season to see the Valley which is why I went to Mai Chau. And, I'm super happy I did. This village is traditional and rural, ideal for a night away in the country air. I booked a cabin which overlooked the rice fields and it was a dream to see and spend the day cycling around the village.

2 days in Ninh Binh 

Ninh Binh is another destination which is growing in popularity and features the most gorgeous nature scene with caves, nature reserves and endless seas of greenery. Over two days, you can spend your time visiting the ancient capital of Hoa Lu and exploring the attractions in Tam Coc, from the pagodas, and rugged limestone cliffs to boat rides on the river.

2 days in Cat Ba Island - and a day trip to Ha Long Bay

Coastal life is calling your name on Cat Ba Island and the perfect spot to take a day trip to Ha Long Bay. You can do the day trip from Hanoi, however, it takes a lot more travelling within the space of a day than is necessary. Whereas in Cat Ba Island, you can experience the beach scene of the actual island and book your trip to Ha Long Bay.

2 days in Da Nang

Da Nang is another beautiful and modern city with plenty of attractions to fill your two days with. From strolling along the stunning My Khe Beach to a theme park day at SunWorld Resort in Ba Na Hills, seeing the Golden Hands Bridge and the Marble Mountains.

3/4 days in Hoi An

The last stop on your list is the charming Hoi An. I adored Hoi An; the endless bicycles, the ancient look and the quirky cafes, restaurants and shops. Plus the art scene and wonderful lanterns across the river are a vision to witness. Hoi An isn't massive, however, it's a great base to roam around, take things slowly and book any excursions, such as a cooking class.

I hope you enjoyed this post. When are you planning to visit?

Thank you for reading <3

The things nobody tells you about being a freelancer

 Well hello to you my reader chums! I've been wanting to be a freelance writer since I was in my teens; the thought of doing my favourite thing of writing, and working on my accord sounded like a dream to me. I've been freelancing since April this year and I love being my own boss, searching for clients I like and taking on projects which I'm passionate about.

However, freelancing is anything but easy and I've learnt a lot since starting out - many things I didn't know and other things I wasn't aware fully of.

If you're planning to start freelancing or in the early stages, here are the things nobody tells you about being a freelancer. 

The things nobody tells you about being a freelancer

It's either really busy or quiet - there's no in-between

This wave of work is something I'm getting used to as both being really busy and quiet have their cons - and it's about learning how to cope with both of these. Each month for me is either having too much work or being so quiet, I'm worried work will come in. I find the busy months are easy to cope with by organising my calendar and booking breaks, whilst the quiet times I use for working on my own business growth and building new connections.

Lots of admin is involved

The admin is real. If you've ever worked in an admin role, you'd know the types of tasks which are involved for a business. As a freelancer, you'll need to do this yourself (unless you hire an employee). This admin can involve sending invoices, emailing, website updates, organising business meetings and managing workloads.

Invoice chasing is real

Sending invoices is all part of being a freelancer to get paid for your products and services. However, what I've noticed is how for freelancers, many businesses won't take the invoices as seriously as employees' wages and sometimes, they're delayed. This means you'll likely be chasing invoices in one way or another. The best thing to do is to have a contract in place, especially if it's a retainer client as then they'll know which day payment is due.

Freelancing isn't as shiny as LinkedIn makes it sound

Scrolling on LinkedIn is a blessing and a curse as there are plenty of posts which gloat about how they've made millions of pounds as a freelancer. However, in reality, the majority of freelancers don't earn big cheques of money like that. It's possible to be successful and make an exceptional living after years in the business, and committing to it, but not overnight. Don't compare yourself to the people on LinkedIn as like any other social media platform, it's a showreel of people's lives and a form of pushing sales for courses.

Building a client base takes work and time

This leads me to this: for any substantial business, it takes time to build it up and it's the same with freelancing. It takes time to make connections and build up a client base of retainer clients, project-based clients and those who are going to refer you. This isn't going to happen overnight so don't try and rush the process or expect success a week in, because that's very unlikely. 

You're HR, marketing, CEO and everything in between

Typically as a freelancer, it's just you running the whole gig, from being the CEO to all the other teams. You'll be your own HR, booking in holidays, and sick days and your own marketing team, learning to promote yourself and build your personal brand on different channels. Likewise, you'll be in the accounts team, sorting your invoicing, income and tax. Unless you outsource for other essential roles in a business, you'll be doing this all yourself and need to make the time for that or do the training. 

Time management and communication skills are crucial

Freelancing takes many skills, however, two of the most important ones I've learned are time management and communication. As you're your own boss, you'll need to get used to learning how long it takes you to do a certain task, work on a project and spend in meetings - as it can help you map out your income projection and the total time everything takes you. Whilst with communication, it's how you present yourself to potential clients, current clients and past clients, as well as other business professionals you'll meet along the way. Communicating effectively will help with better results, in person and virtually.

It's constant grafting and showing your worth

Freelancing is tough. It means constantly grafting and working at building those connections and pitching for work. New business should always be in your mind. Constant grafting means showing your worth as many people may want to lower your rates or don't understand why you charge as much as you do for your business.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What else would you add?

Thank you for reading <3

How to spend 3 days in Koh Lipe, Thailand

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Koh Lipe is like a small taste of paradise with clear waters, bright blue skies, hot weather and golden soft sands. I miss the joy of the island already with its holiday vibe and the chance to fully unwind in the sunshine.

As it's a small island, you don't need a long time to explore the wonders of Koh Lipe. However, you can easily spend as much time there fully embracing island life and its wonders. For the ultimate experience, here is my 3-day guide to Koh Lipe in Thailand.

3 day guide to Koh Lipe, Thailand

Day 1: Get a feel for the island

Explore Walking Street

Koh Lipe isn't a massive island and has one main centre, which is Walking Street. This street is packed with restaurants, bars, ice cream shops, cafes and shops - and the perfect hub to explore, and well, eat. Whether you're looking for a spot for breakfast, to grab a souvenir or to find a bar to dance the night away, this is the street for you.

Relax on Pattaya Beach 

Pattaya Beach is the main beach in Koh Lipe as it's where you get off the boat from any other island. This beach isn't my favourite as it's one of the busiest, however, it does have gorgeous views, soft sands and a cool, holiday vibe to it.

Enjoy dinner and the bar life

After getting a sense of the island's main hub and soaking up the sunshine on the main beach, it's time to eat your weight in food. Restaurants vary on this island from classic Thai places, and seafood to gorgeous Italian grub, you can find a place to take your fancy and go for a drink afterwards. I loved the bar scene here as you can pick somewhere with great music of a chill vibe, with board games.

Day 2: Explore the wonders of Koh Lipe

Watch the sunrise on Sunrise Beach

Watching the sunrise on the beach is everything and Thailand is renowned for the best sunrises and sunsets. The island has beaches titled 'Sunrise Beach' and 'Sunset Beach' because they're both perfect for views of these events. Sunrise Beach is one of my favourites and the view of the sunrise was everything - the best way to kick start your second day on the stunning island.

Have brunch at Benny's on the Beach

I love a solid brunch to start off island mode. Benny's on the Beach is located on Sunrise Beach and is a dream spot to eat. The restaurant has that complete island feel in a hut with beach seating. I loved this place as it meant eating breakfast in the morning sunshine - and plus their brunch options are amazing, including delicious smoothie bowls.

Hire a kayak and explore nearby islands

The sea off of Kop Lipe is crystal clear and looks like a postcard - ideal for exploring beyond the island's edge. I'd recommend hiring a kayak and paddling off to the tiny islands nearby as here, you can also snorkel to find the wildlife. The islands including Koh Usen and Kla Island are very close to the main stretch of Koh Lipe and very easy to reach - and make great spots for snorkelling.

Watch the sunset at Sunset Beach

After a beautiful day of kayaking, snorkelling and sun-soaking, watching a sunset is a lovely activity. Sunset Beach does get very busy, however, it's a wonderful location to witness the sun go down and the sky lighting up with lots of colours.

Day 3: Soak up the last sights in Koh Lipe

Go snorkelling on Northpoint Beach

As I mentioned the waters in Koh Lipe are a dream and my favourite beach for snorkelling was the Northpoint Beach. Here, I discovered many colourful fishes and other sea life swimming around the corals. Its pretty underwater scenery is everything and will leave you wanting more. I'm missing the freedom of snorkelling at this beach.

Find your favourite spot and relax

Koh Lipe is key for relaxation and when you've ticked off all the activities, the best thing to do is relax on the beaches. It's the perfect opportunity to sunbathe, grab an ice cream and read a book. I would love to be in the sunshine and enjoy island life again.

Favourite places to eat in Koh Lipe

Papaya Mom restaurant

For a traditional Thai food restaurant, this is a solid choice, offering up all the classic meals, from Thai curries, pad Thai and more. It's an old-school, beach restaurant setting with plenty of options to suit your palette.

Benny's on the Beach

As I previously mentioned, Benny's on the Beach is a lovely, beach brunch place offering all types of breakfasts and brunch to kick start your day. I love the smoothie bowls here and the view of Sunrise Beach, plus the swing is a great addition.

Banana Tree

This isn't one of those fancy places but a simple restaurant, offering up all the Thai food must-haves for inexpensive prices. Whether you're craving a curry, noodle dish or rice meal, this restaurant has got variety to choose from.


I'm not over the breakfast here, it was that yummy! As a modernised restaurant setting, it looks like a typical, Instagram brunch spot. And, the breakfast was chef's kiss and super mooreish. They have a specific breakfast menu from pancakes and yoghurt dishes to cakes - you'll find something you'll adore.


This is a favourite restaurant for many tourists and has a menu crafted for that with a combination of Western dishes and cakes. I enjoyed a dose of carb heaven here with a delicious grilled cheese and chips. The Western options are endless and you can really enjoy anything that you fancy.

Bungroon restaurant

Back to a traditional Thai place, Bungoon is a busy place packed with crowds and a range of Thai dishes you'll love to try. I like the classic and homely appeal of this place with simplistic dishes and various options - and some live music. They had various locals singing which is a wonderful sight to see and a great vibe to enjoy.

I hope you enjoyed this Thailand post. What other recommendations do you have?

Thank you for reading <3