A Comprehensive List of My Travel Essentials

Trying to decide what to pack for your holiday? Well, here are all of my travel essentials – a.k.a the things this seasoned traveller can’t travel without. Although I’ve published packing lists in the past, I haven’t written about my travel essentials before. These are the things that I can no longer travel without – they’re just as important as my passport! Some of the items may be obvious, while others are only relevant for longer trips. However, I felt that all travel essentials needed to be included. So here’s a long list with plenty of recommendations for what to pack for your next trip. What to pack – my travel essentials All of the electronics • A USB power adaptor In the past, I have travelled with a power board, which is great but also extremely bulky. Before this trip, I picked up this USB power adaptor from Big W (here and here are alternatives on Amazon) and it has quickly become the best travel accessory. The surge protection is fantastic for my computer and hair straightener, and the two USB ports are used daily. I’m fortunate that my Kindle, camera and power bank all use the same charging cable as well. • Kindle Man, I don’t know how people travel without Kindles. Mine is permanently in my handbag and I find myself reaching for it multiple times a day. I read my Kindle in parks, in restaurants, on buses and in bed at night. It’s also been extra handy this year, as I’ve been reading a lot of ebooks through NetGalley, which are sent directly to my Kindle. If you are an avid reader like myself, you need a Kindle in your life. That’s all there is to it 💁🏻‍♀️. • Global roaming sim card Before I left Australia, I purchased a global roaming sim card online from Woolworths. The data has been extremely helpful when I need to use Google Maps or when the WiFi has been spotty. It has connected seamlessly in every country I’ve visited and I would totally repurchase a similar card before my next overseas trip. I also want to note that in Bali, I bought my mum and I these sim cards from Klook. We will definitely be doing that again. It was so inexpensive and the Klook team met us at the airport. • Power bank Another thing I didn’t travel with last time is a power bank. I won’t make that mistake again! Although I don’t use it every day, I find myself reaching for it on longer days out and when buses aren’t equipped with power outlets. I got my power bank last year from The Good Guys when I purchased my computer, but you can find them everywhere, including Amazon. • Sony A5100 Camera If you’ve been following my journey via Facebook and Instagram, you might have seen that my old camera, a Sony A5000, died on me in London. I decided I couldn’t live without a camera for the rest of my trip, so I headed to John Lewis & Partners and bought the next model, a Sony A5100. In hindsight, I’m so glad I bought a replacement camera as it has captured some amazing photos so far. I also love that I can take selfies on this camera using the flip screen.  What I pack in my handbag • Citibank card I haven’t talked about this card much on here, even though it’s the one I use exclusively when I travel. I’ve been travelling with my Citibank card, which is linked to my Citibank Plus Everyday Account, since I moved to Canada. There are zero fees when you use your card overseas at an ATM or in an in-store transaction. I don’t know what I’d do without it! • Reusable shopping bag Another random addition to this list, but a very important item to add to any packing list. I’ve had the same reusable shopping bag for years, which folds up into the shape of a strawberry. It’s been used nearly daily across Europe and in Bali as well, because single-use plastic bags are being phased out worldwide. You can obviously pay for a bag, but do yourself and the environment a favour and pack a foldable shopping bag.  Miscellaneous travel essentials • Travel towel I didn’t pack a travel towel on my last trip to Europe and totally regretted it. I spent too much unnecessary money on renting towels, which is the norm at most hostels. Hence before this adventure, I picked up this travel towel from Kmart (once again, here’s an Amazon alternative). I love that it folds up small and it dries so quickly as it’s microfiber. Here are all of my hostelling tips for fellow solo female travellers • Travel pillow I’m one of those people who ordinarily sleeps with two pillows, so I can’t travel without a backup. Plus, the pillows at hostels can be very hit and miss. This is the exact travel pillow I bought before my last trip to Europe and it came back with me for round two. It rolls up, so it’s easy to squeeze into the top of my backpack. It’s also very handy to have on planes and buses. • Eye mask and ear plugs It honestly blows my mind how many people don’t sleep with an eye mask and ear plugs in hostel dorm rooms. I mean, I feel like 90% of people sleep better than me in general but STILL. The lights, the early check outs, the snoring – do yourself a favour and pack ear plugs and an eye mask (this is very similar to mine) for your next trip. I would also like to point out that I use mine whenever I travel, even when I’m not sharing a room.  • Travel and passport wallet My travel wallet doesn’t get used every day, but it’s the best travel accessory if you like to keep organised as much as me. Mine holds […]

My 3-Month North America Itinerary For Solo Travellers

It may be a few years delayed, but here’s my North America itinerary. In three months I travelled in a circle from Vancouver and back again. Use this itinerary as a guide or a starting point for your own solo travel journey in Canada and/or the USA. I know, I know, this trip was somehow four years ago. I don’t know where the time has gone either. But after some reader feedback, I thought it’s never too late to collate this trip and make a North America itinerary, similar to my UK and Europe itinerary. Looking at the map below, I’m still in awe of the massive circle I did across Canada and the USA. I also can’t believe how much I remember! Thank you, fantastic long term memory. I hope you can use this breakdown as a guide to help you plan your own epic North America trip. Heads up! Before we dive into my North America itinerary, check out my budget travel guide to the United States for more helpful info. My North America itinerary Part 1 of my North America itinerary: starting with solo travel in Canada, with a dash of the US The Canadian Rockies (four nights) I boarded a VIA Rail train in Vancouver for the 19-hour overnight journey to Jasper. It was a long haul, but the best option for getting to Jasper, which is a cute but expensive place. I only stayed overnight before getting the bus south to the more popular Banff for three nights. This part of Canada is too beautiful and I am so glad I visited. Don’t miss seeing Lake Louise either. Where to stay in the Canadian Rockies: Accommodations Jasper and Samesun Banff Related posts: I’ve published itineraries for both Jasper and Banff, as well as my top tips for travelling solo and on a budget across the Canadian Rockies. Calgary (two nights) Next, I got the Greyhound from Banff to Calgary, but my one day in Calgary was memorable in the worst way. The temperature dropped over 20 degrees in under 24 hours and it snowed A LOT. I tried to be a tourist but basically gave up. So I’m not the best person to ask about adding Calgary to your North America itinerary. Where to stay in Calgary: Wicked Hostels Related post: My non-love letter to Calgary Chicago (three nights) I flew from Calgary to Chicago with Westjet and got a shuttle to my hostel, located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighbourhood. It was easy for me to get a local bus into the city both days I was there, as well as a bus directly to the Greyhound depot for my overnight bus to Toronto. This was when I learned that I’m not built for overnight bus trips. But back to Chicago. Top tips: do a free tour, photograph the Bean from all angles, walk around Navy Pier and devour pizza from Giordano’s. Where to stay in Chicago: Chicago Getaway Hostel Related post: My guide to all things Chicago Toronto (three nights) To be honest, I didn’t love Toronto. There wasn’t anything special about it in my opinion and I felt like it was a wannabe NYC (I’m a harsh critic). In fact, the best part about Toronto for me was my visit to Niagara Falls. Hence if you only have a short solo trip to Canada planned, I would recommend heading to Vancouver instead. Where to stay in Toronto: HI Toronto (good location) Ottawa (one night) Another day, another bus. This time it was off to Ottawa, Canada’s capital city. A lot of people told me Ottawa was boring but I’m here to tell you it’s a great Canadian city to visit alone. In the end, I wish I had more than a day in Ottawa, but I had to meet up with friends in my next destination. Where to stay in Ottawa: HI Ottawa Jail Hostel, which was creepier than I expected. Don’t miss their free tour, but plan that for when you’re leaving 😉. Related post: Five things to do with one day in Ottawa If your North America itinerary will also involve staying in hostels, check out this post for my top hostelling tips (I’m basically a hostel pro these days). Part 2 of my North America itinerary: travelling with friends Montreal and Quebec City (five nights) Next, I got the bus to Montreal, where I met up with Australian friends from Vancouver. For a little under two weeks, I wasn’t a solo traveller for once. We spent five nights in Quebec, and checked out the sights in Montreal, Quebec City and surrounds. We stayed in Airbnbs, which worked out very cost-effective. I think I preferred Quebec City slightly over Montreal, but both cities are worth adding to your North America itinerary. They’re beautiful and, hello, French food. New York City (seven nights) From Quebec City, we drove to New York and stopped overnight to camp in Vermont. I’m beyond glad my friends were able to drive, so I could just enjoy the experience of having dinner in New Hampshire, sleeping in Vermont and then having lunch the next day in Connecticut, before arriving at our Airbnb in Brooklyn. I am also glad I got to spend a week exploring New York City. We did so much, like went to Derek Jeter’s second last Yankees game, had drinks at Brooklyn Brewery before seeing the Hilltop Hoods perform next door at Brooklyn Bowl, got the ferry to Staten Island, and did a free nighttime walking tour around Manhattan. It was the BEST. If New York City isn’t on your North America itinerary, IT HAS TO BE. Remember you can use this code for a discount on your first Airbnb stay Part 3 of my North America itinerary: travelling America alone Boston (three nights) Then it was back to travelling around America alone. I decided to backtrack and visit Boston for three nights. I’m glad I went to Boston, but for your North America […]

My 10-Week Solo Travel Adventure Across The UK and Europe

Planning your own solo travel journey through the UK and Europe? Here I recap my entire UK and Europe itinerary. 10 weeks, 13 countries and one person = the trip of a lifetime. Planning my UK and Europe itinerary was both the most fun and most stressful part of my trip. It’s such a privilege to be stressed about picking the best places to visit in Europe, right? When I left Canada, I had my first month planned in the UK and Europe. After that, I basically mapped my route a couple of weeks beforehand. In the end, it was such a fantastic trip. It could have gone in a few different directions (I was contemplating Portugal and Spain), but I believe it worked out just as it was meant to. Because if I did go to Spain, I would have missed Lake Bled, and we all know how much of a life highlight that was. So if you’re in the same position and trying to plan a solo Europe trip, here’s my 10-week Europe itinerary. I will continue to update this post as I publish more on my Europe itinerary but don’t forget to check out my packing list suggestions in the meantime. My Ireland & UK solo travel itinerary England London to Bristol (five nights) My UK solo travel itinerary begins in Bristol. I flew from Vancouver to London and then got a bus directly from London to Bristol, where I spent a few days with my dad’s cousin. I got to see the main Bristol sights, and we visited both Bath and the Cotswolds. This is such a beautiful part of England. I highly recommend you check it out. Related posts: The best Bristol day trips Ireland Dublin (three nights) The next stop on my Europe itinerary was Dublin. I took a 1.5-hour flight from Bristol to Dublin on a teeny Aer Lingus plane. In Dublin, it was easy for me to get a bus to the city centre and walk five minutes to my hostel. Read my posts below for more information on what I got up to in Dublin. Where to stay in Dublin: Abbey Court Hostel Related posts: My Ireland and Northern Ireland itinerary and things to do in Dublin. Cork (three nights) There are several buses and trains departing daily from Dublin to Cork, but I chose the train for this particular journey. My hostel was about a 10-minute walk from the station and I found Cork to be a very walkable city. I also did a half-day trip to Cobh, which is a 30-minute train ride away. Although a lot of people skip Cork when visiting Ireland, I really enjoyed my time there. Where to stay in Cork: Sheilas Cork Hostel (probably my least favourite hostel of the trip). Related post: My weekend guide to Cork Galway (three nights) I got a bus from Cork to Galway, which is another compact city you can easily walk around and see most of the best sights in a day. Don’t miss out on doing a Cliffs of Moher day trip while based in Galway too. Where to stay in Galway: Kinlay Eyre Square Hostel (one of my favourites). Related post: Cliffs of Moher day trip Northern Ireland Belfast (three nights) To get from Galway to Belfast without a car, I had to get a bus to Dublin and then another bus to Belfast. It was one of my longer travel days, but I am so glad I visited Belfast. I did a Giant’s Causeway/Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge day tour and a political walking tour in Belfast too, which I booked through Irish Tour Tickets when I arrived. Where to stay in Belfast: Vagabonds Belfast Scotland Glasgow (three nights) Then it was onto Scotland. Instead of flying, I decided to get a ferry from Belfast to Scotland, and then a bus from the terminal in Cairnryan to Glasgow. It was another long travel day, but the ferry was so comfortable, I’d do it again. I did a Highlands tour with Rabbie Tours while in Glasgow and it was one of the best days of my trip. I fell in love with Scotland immediately. Where to stay in Glasgow: Euro Hostel (cheap private rooms). Edinburgh (three nights) Oh, Edinburgh, how I loved you so. Please add Edinburgh to your 10-week Europe itinerary or your UK solo travel itinerary. It’s absolutely beautiful and so walkable. It’s also less than 1.5 hours from Glasgow by bus. Where to stay in Edinburgh: Kick Ass Greyfriars England London (three nights) I would return to London four times on this trip and I didn’t mind at all. It’s such a fantastic solo travel destination with too many things to do. Even after nearly a week of exploration, I still have plenty of places on my London bucket list. Where to stay in London: Wombats Hostel Related post: London at Christmas (a.k.a the best time of year to visit) and my solo travel guide. Here are my top tips for travelling alone in Europe My Europe itinerary France Brittany (four nights) Okay, on to my mainland Europe itinerary. Firstly, I got the Eurostar from London to Paris, and then the regional train service to Brittany. Stepping off the train into my first non-English speaking country of the trip was both nerve-wracking and exciting. But stepping off a train into Paris is also just magical. I headed to Brittany to visit my mum’s cousin, who lives in a beautiful home in the French countryside. It was every bit as amazing as it sounds. We went for coastal walks, visited the local markets and ate some amazing French food. Paris (four nights) Can it even be a Europe itinerary without Paris? I loved the time I spent in Paris, as I visited different neighbourhoods every day and ate a variety of pastries every morning. I also think Paris is a great place for solo travellers, as the metro is easy to use, people speak English (even if it’s begrudgingly) and there’s […]

My 23 Favourite Solo Travel Destinations Around the World

Today, I reveal 23 of my favourite solo travel destinations around the world. From Las Vegas to London, this post is guaranteed to inspire you to go on your own solo travel adventure. It’s about time I compiled a list of my favourite solo travel destinations in one post, right? In case you didn’t know, I am a big advocate for solo travel. I have travelled alone across four continents (so far), and I have no plans to stop anytime soon. In the beginning, the thought of travelling alone and moving across the world by myself made me have an actual breakdown in a San Francisco hostel room. Today, I don’t think twice. I don’t believe you should let anything get in the way of you and your travel dreams. Yes, visiting places with friends is amazing. But so is visiting Brussels and spending a weekend with new people from different countries. So, from North America to Europe to Asia and Australia, here are my (tried and tested) favourite solo travel destinations for fellow solo female travellers. This post was updated in April 2020 Before we get into the solo travel destinations, here are my top solo travel tips Firstly, I want to quickly talk about the four boxes a place has to tick before I deem it solo travel-worthy 😉. Most importantly, I have to feel safe and comfortable. Secondly, it has to have some good attractions you can enjoy alone and it must have easy-to-navigate public transport. Finally, the language barrier can’t be too much of a struggle. Now, let’s look at some of the other helpful solo travel posts scattered across Hayley on Holiday. There is a post on how to meet people as a solo traveller and tips on staying at a hostel solo. Then we have my post on how to travel alone in Europe, which is helpful no matter what continent you visit. Finally, I have comprehensive guides similar to this one on my solo travels through Europe in 2017 and North America. Okay, I think that just about covers it 😂. Must-visit solo travel destinations around the world 1. Dublin I wouldn’t say Dublin is my favourite place in the world, but it’s a great place to visit alone in Europe. Although I only took one bus during my visit, there were different transport options available. I also felt very comfortable walking around the entire city early in the morning and at night. There’s plenty of things to do in Dublin as well. You can base yourself in Dublin and do day trips to places like Northern Ireland, Cork and Galway too. Where to stay in Dublin: Abbey Court Hostel Related post: My 12 day Ireland and Northern Ireland itinerary 2. Amsterdam To be honest, travelling around Europe solo did make me nervous because of the language barrier. But I constantly see UK residents on Instagram hopping over to mainland Europe for the weekend. So I thought if they could do it, so could I. Amsterdam was the best city I visited in Europe in terms of the minimal language barrier. Every local who served me – whether it was at a shop or cafe – spoke amazing English and were so polite. I was honestly blown away by the hospitality and this is why Amsterdam is now one of my favourite cities in Europe. I also spent a lot of time walking around admiring the architecture and eating a lot of good food. Where to stay in Amsterdam: Generator Amsterdam Related posts: Where (and what) to eat in Amsterdam and my Amsterdam guide 3. Las Vegas I’ve written previously how I was sceptical about visiting Las Vegas alone. But it turns out, travelling solo to Las Vegas is still a lot of fun. I walked up and down the Strip (even at night) and felt safe. Next, I went all out and hit the buffet. I also did two tours: a night tour with Big Bus and a day tour to the Grand Canyon. Yes, Las Vegas would be a lot of fun with your favourite people, but I am here to tell you that you can still enjoy yourself in Vegas alone. Where to stay in Las Vegas: Hostel Cat Related posts: Visiting Vegas solo (still one of my most popular posts), my budget travel guide and the best Vegas tours for solo travellers. 4. Adelaide My solo long weekend in Adelaide in 2018 was one of the best solo vacations I’d had in a while and it cemented Adelaide in my list of top solo travel destinations in Australia. Firstly, it has to be one of the friendliest places in Australia. Secondly, there’s actually a lot of things to do and see in Adelaide. I had a busy few days visiting free attractions, going to the beach and exploring neighbouring Hahndorf. I highly recommend adding Adelaide to your Australia bucket list. Where to stay in Adelaide: YHA Adelaide Central Related post: My weekend guide to Adelaide 5. London London is one of the best first-time solo travel destinations. The city’s public transport is fantastic – expensive, but extremely efficient. There’s also possibly too much to do in London. I have now spent nearly a month in the city altogether and I still have so many things left on my bucket list. This time I stayed near Tower Bridge and felt comfortable walking around here once the sunset too. I met up with a born-and-bred Londoner (who I’d previously met in a Vancouver hostel dorm room) and she said she’s never once felt unsafe walking around London after dark. Where to stay in London: Wombats City Hostel Related posts: Christmas in London and my comprehensive London travel guide. 6. Vancouver My home sweet (second) home. Even if I hadn’t spent over two years living in Vancouver, I would still recommend it as one of my favourite solo travel destinations. Firstly, public transport is fantastic. Secondly, there are lots of things to do. Thirdly, there […]