My Basic Guide To Finding Cheap Flights


I get a whole heap of people ask me about flights and how to find cheap deals, so I’ve written an extremely basic, (but somehow still long,) guide on how I search for my own flights. I’ve tried not to drone on too much, but I also want to add enough detail that it makes sense.

The main key to saving yourself money when it comes to flights, is to be flexible. The more flexible you are, the more money you’re likely to be able to save. Sometimes the difference in the price of a flight just one or two days earlier or later than the date you intend to fly, will be huge.

If you are extra, super flexible, the best savings can be found when you’re willing to stop off in another country on the way to your destination. For example, a few years ago, when I wanted to fly from Melbourne to India, the cheapest flights I could find for the time I wanted to go, were $1200 AUD (About £660.) A quick search using the Skyscanner trick (which I’ll teach you in a second,) returned results for a $98 flight to Thailand. (£54.) When I checked the cost of flights from Thailand to India, there were a few on there for just $58!! (Which is less than £32!) That’s a total saving of $1044, which translates to £574!!

Similarly, I found return flights Melbourne to Heathrow for £1200, but managed to end up paying £600 for a round trip, with a 3 day stop off in Bali on the way back to the UK and a week long holiday in Bali on the way back to Melbourne.

You’re not always going to make savings that huge, but the more flexible you are, and the more patient you are when searching, the more chance you stand!

How do I find these cheap flights?

Skyscanner is my best friend. Most people I’ve spoken to seem to use Skyscanner already, or have at least heard of it, but quite a few people don’t know about a few simple little Skyscanner tricks which result in cheaper airfare!

So…. I’ll use the upcoming Rio Carnival as an example to show you how it works. I’ll just use a one way flight, as it’s easier to explain. (I’ll literally be looking for these flights as I write this blog post!)

You want to book a flight from London to Rio De Janeiro on the 23rd February - so you search ‘London’ to ‘Rio De Janeiro’ on Skyscanner and input ‘23rd February’ as your departure date. The results come back and the cheapest flight is £1253. (Carnival pushes flight prices up a LOT!)

The cheapest flight on 23td February is £1253

The cheapest flight on 23td February is £1253

£1253 is a huge amount of money for a flight - especially considering that’s just the cost of a one way. You desperately want to go, but £1253 is far too much.

I always tend to search the whole month instead of specific dates.

I always tend to search the whole month instead of specific dates.

Step one is to see if it’s cheaper to fly on a different date. When you’re searching for a flight, instead of looking for a specific date, in the Depart’ box, click ‘Whole Month’ and choose to search the whole of February instead of just the 23rd.

If you’re not aiming to fly somewhere for a specific event, and you’re completely flexible, you can click the ‘Cheapest Month’ box to see when the very cheapest time to go is!


Already, in the search results, you can see that flying to Rio just one day later would save you £312!

Although it’s quite a big saving, £941 is still pretty expensive just for a one way ticket - we can try to bring those costs down further by looking at alternative routes to get there.

Searching for the whole month gives you a better idea of which dates are best to fly!

Searching for the whole month gives you a better idea of which dates are best to fly!

There are two ways to do this. (They’re basically the same method, but in forward and reverse!) You either want to:

1 . Find some really cheap places to fly to from the UK, and then work through them to see if any of the destinations will allow you to fly on to Rio at a good price.

2. Work out which destinations will have the cheapest flights to Rio, and then work through those to see if there are cheap flights from the UK to any of these places.

Today, we’ll be using the second option, and searching in reverse!

Set your destination as ‘Everywhere’

Set your destination as ‘Everywhere’

Go back to your search page on Skyscanner. In the ‘From’ box, type ‘Rio De Janeiro.’ In your destination box, you want to type ‘Everywhere.’ This will bring up a list of the cheapest places that you are able to fly to from Rio. It may seem silly, but this will give us a good idea of destinations that will have the lowest cost flights to Rio. When you hit ‘Search,’ (still using ‘Whole Month’ in your departure date,) this is what the result page will look like…

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Here’s where a bit of geography knowledge comes in handy, and speeds up the process a bit, as you can almost always work out which of these places will be the cheapest to get to from the UK. Seeing as Portugal is the closest country to us, it’s likely our best option.

So now, we search ‘Portugal’ to ‘Rio De Janeiro’ to make sure the costs are just as low if you’re making the reverse journey.

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Sometimes it will take you a while to have a bit of a play about with some different destinations, and work out the cheapest route! Quite often you find a really cheap flight from X to Y, but the flight from the UK to X works out even more expensive than the original flight from the UK to Y! It’s definitely a patience game!

This time round, it’s worked in our favour, and we can see that there is a fight from Lisbon to Rio on February 23rd for just £244.

The last step now, is to make sure we can get to Lisbon for a low enough cost that it doesn’t bump our overall flight costs back up to the original flights we were looking at. Again, make sure you’re using ‘Whole Month’ in the search box!



Our search results show that you can fly to Lisbon on the 23rd of February for just £41. The cheapest flight to Rio was also on the 23rd February, so it is very important to make sure the flight times check out! You don’t want to be landing in Lisbon at 9pm at night when your flight to Brazil was at 1pm. Our flight to Lisbon is an early morning one, and the flight from Lisbon to Brazil is an evening one, which leaves enough time to collect baggage and go back through security.

That means, we’ve managed to get flights from London to Brazil down from £1253, to £285. That’s a ridiculous saving of £968, simply because we were a little flexible, and open to flying from a different airport. As it turns out, the cheapest flights ended up being on the 23rd February anyway - the original date we were looking at.

Rio Carnival, Brazil.

Rio Carnival, Brazil.

Other tips:

I mainly use these for general ‘X to Y’ searches to compare the prices I’ve found on Skyscanner. They do have some quite handy search features, similar to the ones on Skyscanner, but I’ve always had the best results using the method shown above.

  • It’s definitely worth getting the app ‘Hopper.’ Especially if you’re too impatient to go through the whole Skyscanner process. I’ve been using this app for a while, and it’s pretty much always spot on. Just type in your destination, and when you’d like to go, and the app will search flights, and tell you when to book, and how much the prices will go up or down if you wait!

  • I’m also signed up to lots of flight deal websites, which means I get daily or weekly emails or Whatsapp messages with crazy flight offers. There are lots to choose from, but I specifically recommend Jack’s Flight Club and Holiday Pirates for having the best deals!

Hopefully this will be vaguely useful to at least somebody out there! There are obviously lots more little tips and tricks, but the Skyscanner method is the main method I use when looking for flights. Good luck!x

It All Began In The South...

Touchdown in Cochin, Southern India. It’s the middle of the night, and I’m far too tired/nervous to even think about attempting to navigate the public transport system on my own in the dark. The queue for the taxi rank is miles too long, and even though it’s already very late, the air is thick with humidity. I join the line - hot, sticky and ready to collapse into bed.

An hour later, and my taxi is pulling up to the hostel. I’m praying that the room will be quiet. All I want to do is put on the air conditioning, curl up into a ball and pass out. You can’t even begin to imagine how far from thrilled I am to spot a lady with a real, live baby checking in as I arrive at the reception desk, and I’m absolutely ecstatic when we get placed in the same room. I just know that the baby is going to scream and cry all night and keep me awake and smell of dirty nappies. Who brings a small child backpacking with them, anyway?

Blurry Baby’s first hostel. (Maybe.)

Blurry Baby’s first hostel. (Maybe.)

In the poor kid’s defence, it didn’t utter a peep all night and I managed to get a fair to moderate amount of sleep, despite the constant sound of beeping horns coming from the streets outside. I awoke feeling barely refreshed, deciding that I perhaps wasn’t ready to face the chaos of the world beyond the hostel walls. I was, however, ready to spend the day in bed, reading and relaxing.

If you’ve ever stayed in a hostel before, you’ll be aware that if you’ve planned to spend the day in bed, reading and relaxing, there’s very little chance that you’re actually going to get to spend the day in bed, reading and relaxing… The thing about hostels is, there is ALWAYS someone who wants to make friends, and sure enough, I’d just just got comfortable with my Kindle, when someone in the room struck up a conversation. Before I knew it, we were strolling through the streets of Fort Kochi, Kerala, trying to find me a new pair of flip flops, (considering I’d managed to break mine, three paces after stepping out the hostel door.)

Hindu Temple, Fort Kochi

Hindu Temple, Fort Kochi

It took me a very short amount of time to start feeling an indescribable warmth towards the tumultuous streets of India. The continuous bustle, rickshaws weaving in and out of the crowds, the abundance of dogs and farm creatures roaming the streets - I couldn’t help but smile at everybody I saw. I vividly remember being in awe of the colour - every person, everywhere I looked, dressed from head to toe in wonderful colours. It was almost as though I’d been living with black and white vision for my entire life, and suddenly somebody had flicked a switch and the world had come to life. Part of me wishes that the rest of the earth was as bright and brilliant, and the other part knows that if it were, then I wouldn't have such fond memories of this moment - it wouldn’t feel as special.



It seems I’d flipped a whole 180 since the morning, and had gone from not wanting to leave the comfort of the hostel, to not wanting to leave the madness of the streets. We’d met for some food with one of Marc’s friends - Sagar - and he’d shown us around, taken us to some great food spots and an art exhibition, we talked for hours, walked for hours - watched the sunset on the beach, and then sadly it was time to go back.

A lot of people say they’re unable to pinpoint the moment they fell for a country. I can’t tell you the exact moment I fell for India, but I do know, it all began in the South.

Sunset on the beach.

Sunset on the beach.

On To India...

'An assault on your senses.' That's the phrase that kept cropping up when I mentioned that I was planning a trip to India. Often said with a tone of affection, but still, a warning, regardless. I'm not going to lie to you, that was at least 75% of the appeal to me - I wanted to assault my senses. To exercise them alone was not enough - I wanted to feel more out of my depth. The culture shock, the challenge of breaking through language barriers whilst trying new things and learning about different people and their cultures - that’s what I was craving from my travels.

With the passing of my beloved Nan the night before I was due to fly from Thailand to India, suddenly the prospect of being out of my depth wasn’t even nearly half as appealing as it had been seeming to me over the last year or so. It became apparent that it would be all too easy to hop on a plane back to England instead of carrying on with my adventures, and swap the inevitable chaos and craziness that I had been craving so badly, for the comforts of home and the love and support of my friends and family.

It took sixteen hours. Sixteen torturous hours on a bus to Bangkok, trying to decide whether I should get on that plane to India to pursue my dream, or to instead go running home to my Mum. Deep down, I knew that my Nan would have wanted me to carry on travelling, and knowing that resulted in a further eight hours of my suffering, on a plane heading towards India, as I tried deal with the anxiety of worrying about whether I’d made the right decision.

An entire year and nine months on from my arrival in India, (Yes - ok, I’m just a little behind on my blog,) I can happily tell you that I did make the right decision in continuing with my travels. India is by far the most colourful, vibrant and utterly incredible place I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. It’s long overdue but I’m excited to finally write about the experiences I had there.

Taj Mahal, Agra

Taj Mahal, Agra

A Little Town Called Ungarie

Each year, thousands of backpackers who are seeking to acquire a second year visa are forced, by the evil Australian government, to complete three months of farm work in a rural area of Australia. It's hard enough to even find a job that's eligible, let alone one that meets the criteria, pays well and doesn't involve some form of abuse from the employer.

Although you hear of more 'farm work' horror stories than nice ones, some backpackers get pretty lucky, and enjoy their farm work. In very rare cases, some get so lucky that they even enjoy it enough to return to the place that they completed their 88 days, and decide to spend the rest of their time in Australia living there...

Ungarie, New South Wales. Population 399, (according to the sign upon arrival, anyway...) For someone who grew up in a city as vibrant and busy as Bristol, moving to a rural area with such a tiny population is a fairly daunting experience - it feels like you're in the absolute middle of nowhere for a start - the supermarket is over 40km away, (which feels like forever when you've grown up having three within a ten minute walking distance), all you can see for miles and miles is farm land, and most nerve-racking of all, you're new in town and everyone knows it.


Nerves aside, I was warmly welcomed and ended up enjoying my time in Ungarie so much that I became one of the very lucky few that loved it enough to return and call it home for another eight months. Eight months which have seemed to fly by far too quickly, whilst somehow also plodding along slowly enough that I almost feel as though I was always there.

It's a funny feeling, arriving somewhere with a blank slate, and leaving it, a new home. Thanks to this tiny little town, I now have a full understanding of the word 'community,' I've learned what it feels like to be able to leave your doors unlocked, your belongings on the bar, certain they'll still be there when you return. I've spent the last eight months living amongst people that are always willing to go out of their way to help. I've won meat raffles, attended football games, been exposed to country music, (even enjoyed country music!) I've become accustomed to waving back when someone's car passes my car on the way to town, developed an interest in tractors, can tell you which beer anyone in town drinks and even how much rain has (or hasn't) fallen that day.

I'm not sure I ever could have imagined growing so fond of a place, but it's been near impossible not to fall head over heels in love with the little rural community where you're sure to find smiling faces, a whole ton of laughs, and if you're there at the right time, the local copper using his jukebox credits to play 'Backstreet Boys!'

Eight months has gone far too quickly, but I know for sure I'll be back. A huge thanks to the Australian government for allowing me to discover somewhere to call a second home, and an even bigger thank you to Ungarie itself, for adopting me and making me feel so welcome. See you next year. x




Half the World Away

A flashback to Pai, November 2016. My friend Liam and I are staying at a Circus School. We're watching the evening fire show, when my phone starts to vibrate in my shorts pocket. A FaceTime call from Nan. My gut instinct is to panic. My Nan NEVER FaceTimes me - she hates being on camera, and that instinctively rings alarm bells in my head. I run off to a quiet spot to answer, and as the image on screen springs to life, I'm met with the shaky and breathless voice of my Nan - she sounds panicked.

"Emma, the bombs. Are you ok? Are you safe? The bombs." 

I have NO idea what my Nan is talking about and I try to calm her. 

"Nan, I'm safe, there are no bombs. I'm watching a show. What's wrong?"

"I saw it on the news, the bombs, in Baghdad. That's where you are, isn't it? Baghdad?"

I try to stifle a little laugh. 

"No, Nan, I think you're thinking of Bangkok. I'm in Thailand. And I'm nowhere near Bangkok anyway..." 

Happy in the knowledge that I've not been injured or killed in Iraq, Nan talks to me a little on the phone, her camera now pointing at her ceiling, no longer on her face. She makes me promise that 'If I can't be good, to be careful,' we say our goodbyes, and I head back to finish watching the rest of the show with Liam, overcome with affection for my beloved Nan.

Unfortunately, in early January 2017, Nan passed away peacefully in her home. I was just about to leave Thailand and fly to India. Making the decision as to whether I should get on that plane to India or to fly back home was the hardest decision I think I've ever had to make. In the end, I chose to continue on with my travels - heavily influenced with the knowledge that it's what my Nan would have wanted. I don't regret getting on that plane to India, but I can easily say that over the next couple of weeks, I have never felt further away from home.

I could relay thousands of stories to you about this brilliant lady. Nearly all of them would make you laugh. Most of the photos or videos that were taken on my travels were taken with my Nan in mind. I'm pretty certain that if I asked someone to stop and take a photo of me, I will have used the phrase "Can you please take a picture of me here - it's for my Nan." I know how much she loved looking through my travel photos, and I definitely have her to thank for the fact I made sure to take so many.

It's been over a year since Nan died. Because I'm still away, it doesn't really feel real. I still take photos with her in mind. I think I always will. I still half expect to receive a text from her and the dog, and then I remember that there won't be any more texts. Then I read back through her old texts and smile through tears. I was in two minds as to whether or not I should even write this post, it almost feels too personal. But this blog is essentially a diary, and my Nan was a huge part of not only my travels, but my entire life.

Miss you, Nan.x 






Werthers' Top Travel Tips

Many moons ago, I promised a number of people that I would write them a list of apps, tips and websites which I've found useful whilst travelling. 

I've taken so long to get round to it, that there's every chance that at least some of those people have already been on and returned from their trips. (Sorry!)

Nevertheless, a promise is a promise, so here are some tips and stuff. (I'm likely to update this further when I have a little more free time!)



I've talked about Workaway in a previous blog post, but it's well worth mentioning again! If you've not heard of it before, Workaway is a cultural exchange programme where you get the opportunity to volunteer ALL over the world, in exchange for free food and accommodation. It costs a measly £25 to sign up for one year, and membership givers you the opportunity to contact the hosts on the host list. (Which is available for anybody to look at, free of charge on the website!)

There are some absolutely crazy good opportunities on Workaway, including jobs on the Husky sleds in Finland, a position available for someone to act as the caretaker of a private island in Cambodia, vacancies aboard a travelling theatre ship in the USA and endless listings for horse ranches, orphanages, dog sitters, language exchange, artists, yoga instructors and countless other opportunities.

Whilst I was in India, I had many great Workaway experiences, the highlights of which were working on a desert camel safari, leading groups of people into the desert in Jaisalmer to sleep under the stars; living with a family in the mountains of Kodaikanal, and moving into a hippy commune in Goa, where we lived in tipis and rescued street animals. There really are some incredible opportunities on there - check it out! 

Camel Safari Guide

Camel Safari Guide

Always with a puppy in hand. 

Always with a puppy in hand. 



Couchsurfing is another fantastic website/app which I've used a fair amount on my trip. Would you believe, there are hundreds of thousands of people, all across the world who are willing to let you have a bed/sofa/room for a night or two, for FREE!? 

The whole point of Couchsurfing isn't the free accommodation, but rather to the chance to have the help and experience of a local, to give you some insider knowledge and tips and to show you around. A lot of the hosts on Couchsurfing are backpackers or ex backpackers themselves, and they are always interesting! 

Each host (and surfer) gets a profile page, and after each stay, you get to rate each other, so it's easy to see which hosts have had lots of people stay with them, and which have had good or bad reviews - making it easy to pick a host to visit. It's a fantastic way to see hidden parts of the city or town you're staying in, as well as save on a night's accommodation! 



Rome 2 Rio

A super handy website/app, Rome 2 Rio helps you find a number of different transport options if you need to get from one destination to another. Simply fill in the 'From' and 'To' boxes and hit 'Search' and you will be presented with transport options, travel durations, and the cost of each.

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You aren't limited to searching for a city to a city. It's possible to search for a landmark to a city, for example, 'Big Ben, UK' to 'Delhi, India' will bring up step by step directions to get you from Big Ben to Delhi! 



Maps.Me is especially handy for all the (hundreds) of times that you're lost, have no phone service and/or you've run out of data. A completely free and offline navigation service, you simply download the app, download the maps of the locations you're visiting, and next time you get stuck in an area with no signal, it won't even matter, because you just tap open your app and the maps will load faster than if you were on 4G! 



I feel like most people will already know about Hostelworld, but I believe it deserves a mention anyway, just incase. 

A simple hostel search engine, which shows a rating and reviews for each hostel listed. It's SO quick and easy to type in the name of a town, set the filters in favour of price or rating or location  etc and compare listings with other listings. You can book on the spot, paying only a small deposit, and then pay the rest of the balance on arrival. I probably booked at least 90% of my accommodation through Hostelworld!

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Revolut and Monzo. (Formerly Mondo.)

Two great digital banking alternatives, which allow you to spend and transfer money abroad, fee free. When you download each app, you get the option of being sent a MasterCard. Simply top up your card via the app, and you can instantly use the card online, in store or at an ATM. 

I NEVER change up currency before I head to a new location, I always use my Revolut card or my Monzo card to withdraw the currency I need from an ATM once I arrive. They both have slightly different rates, but in my own experience, they both seem to be a lot better than the rates you find elsewhere. Both cards have a monthly free withdrawal limit of around £200. Once you've withdrawn £200 then you get charged a small percentage on withdrawals, but it's still a cheap deal.

Spending with your cards online or in stores is always fee free. I ALWAYS book my hostels etc using either my Revolut or Monzo card as it means I avoid the international transaction charge which would occur should I use my UK or Australian bank cards to book.

Image borrowed from  Two Humans Living. 

Image borrowed from Two Humans Living. 


Touchnote is a cute little app which allows you to turn your travel photos into postcards. You pick a photo, write a message, add the address, pay using a credit which you can purchase within the app, and Touchnote will print out your postcard and post it to the address. It's a fairly cheap way to let your loved ones know that you're still thinking of them whilst you're off gallivanting, and it involves minimal effort too. Go on, send your mum a postcard!


Skyscanner 'Everywhere' Feature.

This is one of my favourites. When you're searching for flights on Skyscanner, set your destination to 'Everywhere' to see if you can nab yourself a cheaper flight (and an extra holiday!) For some reason, flights to certain destinations are heaps more expensive than a flight to a destination that's next door to your intended one. 

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For example, when I wanted to fly from Australia to India, the cheapest flight I could find was $900. I used the Skyscanner 'Everywhere' feature to check out the cheapest places I could fly to from Melbourne and found a flight to Thailand for $98. Knowing that Thailand is reasonably close to India, I then searched for flights from Thailand to India and found a flight for $58! That's a saving of $744, AND I got to visit two countries instead of one. This tip is especially good if you're flexible, as you can also use the Skyscanner 'Whole Month' feature on the search engine, and pick the cheapest dates to fly on, potentially saving you even more money!

 If your geography isn't the best then you can search for a world map on Google to help you out!

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Packing Cubes

Something so simple, yet something so, so life changing. I'm uncertain how I ever managed without them before.  Packing Cubes do exactly what's written on the box. They're cubes that you use for packing - it's basically like having drawers in your bag. I use one for t-shirts, tops and dresses, one for shorts, leggings and trousers, and one for underwear. There is absolutely no rummaging though my bag to try and find something, I simply unzip my bag, pick which cube I need, unzip it and take out the required item. I actually manage to fit a lot more in my bag since using these! 

I use different coloured packing cubes so I can quickly and easily work out which one is which, but there are plenty of different ones available online to suit your needs! 


Lush Shampoo

This is a bit of a random one, but I felt as though I couldn't leave it out, because like the Packing Cubes, it changed my life!

Lush Cosmetics make a range of shampoo bars. They're about £6.50 each, they last for what seems like forever, they make your hair smell and feel nice and most importantly, they're not a liquid so you don't have to put them in a silly little plastic bag to go through the airport security. 


You only need to rub it on your head gently and it creates a huge amount of lather. I started using these in April 2017, and with practically daily use, I'm getting close to the end of my third bar. So they really do last a long time!


As I mentioned earlier, I'm likely to update this page with a few more tips when I remember a few more. Hopefully at least some of them have been helpful to some of you!x


Thailend. (Thailand End.)

Turns out that checking out of the Koh Samui hell-hole early was one of the things that had miraculously worked in my favour. I'd booked the first possible boat that I could off of the island and just by chance, that boat actually ended up being the last boat off of Koh Samui (or any of the other islands) for nearly a week. The weather had become so bad that the ferries weren't running, leaving hundreds of backpackers and other tourists stranded on the flooded islands. If it weren't for a loud Bristolian man annoying me so much, I would have ended up stuck in the floodwaters too, so in a strange way, I should maybe thank him for being such a horrible, disgusting, arrogant prick.

I was making my way to Phuket, where I was to spend my last week in Thailand before heading on to India. It felt hardly believable that a whole three months had passed since that first day I'd stepped onto the streets of Bangkok in search of a SIM card, and ended up returning back to the hostel almost eleven hours later, freshly tattooed by a Monk... I'll hold my hands up and admit that my expectations of Thailand were fairly low in comparison to the reality of it - I'd been a little worried that it was going to be full to the brim of sand, (I HATE sand) and 'much too drunk' and rowdy Brits. You do of course find quite a lot of sand, and a fair few idiots lurking around the islands, but for the most part I managed to remain sand (and idiot) free whilst discovering some of the hidden treasures that Thailand has to offer.

The rain in Phuket was even more relentless than it had been on Samui. I met a newlywed English couple who were just about finish their honeymoon and fly home - they'd seen a total of three days without rain during their two week stay. I refrained from telling them that they would have been better off staying at home - their faces seemed to suggest that they wouldn't have found it funny. 

The roof of the hostel I checked into was leaking. A lot. The relentless sound of dripping did absolutely nothing to drown out the screams and cries from the room next door. My roommate - Stefanie - and I, tried to work out if the people making the noises were having sex or getting badly beaten up. We decided that it was more likely to be sex, though the racket they were making was absolutely unimaginable, and it certainly didn't sound like they were having any fun. Stefanie awkwardly bumped into one of them in the corridor the next day too. I was so glad that it was her and not me - I didn't want to have to put any faces to the noises because it was inevitable that there was going to be a repeat performance that night.

 The rain was pretty much holding us constant prisoners in the room, after so many months of constantly being on the go though, it was nice to actually have a bit of downtime. I spent the next couple of days reading, watching documentaries and practicing my Spanish on Duolingo, (without feeling guilty about spending all day in bed.) The hours seemed to pass really quickly and it felt like no time at all before it was time to check out of the leaky hostel. Stefanie was checking out too. We were both staying in Phuket, but moving elsewhere as we were meeting friends from home. We said our goodbyes and I managed to hail down what I believe to have been the most expensive taxi in Thailand. It was somehow even wetter on the other side of the island, and I was starting to worry that my last few days in the country would be spent in bed, playing Duolingo...

Luckily, when I met up with Patt and Alex, the sun decided to make an appearance for a couple of days, which gave us the chance to check out some of Phuket. We ate lots of good food, visited the Big Buddha, got blessed by a Monk, ate more good food, attempted to watch the sunset from one of the viewpoints, (which failed due to the sun not really being present again by this point,) ate even more good food and generally relaxed and caught up with each other. It was good to fit in some final tourist activities before the 13 hour bus to Bangkok and the 4 and a half hour flight to India that followed it. Onto the next adventure...


New Year, Same Rain.

So, the Full Moon Party was a horrible, gropey, phone destroying disaster. It was always going to damn me to at least an entire day in bed feeling like I'd die a horrible death if I didn't eat something, and die a much worse death if I did, but in my opinion Mr or Mrs Full Moon could have done me a much fairer deal, and at least given me a half decent night in exchange for both the loss of use of my movement and also the freedom from pain and suffering over the next twenty four, (potentially more) hours.

For roughly the first 31% of the 1st January 2017, I was blissfully unaware of these afflictions upon my body, as I'd managed to fall into a sleep which was deep enough to (initially) not feel the hands of the hostel maid tapping me awake as she angrily shouted at me in Thai. 

Bleary eyed, with not a single inkling as to what I'd done wrong, I just about managed to muster up the strength to shrug my shoulders and hold my hands out with open palms - the universal sign for 'I haven't got the faintest clue what you're talking about...'

'MAEW' she shouted again, and this time pointed at the cat that was curled up next to me in bed... 

I know that coming from me, this might sound like a completely fabricated statement, but I genuinely hadn't let the cat into the room. Sure, I'd spotted it outside my door when I'd arrived back the night before, played for it with a little while, considered letting it in and decided it wasn't a good idea. I suppose the maid had good reason to believe I'd smuggled it into the room, but for once, I was not guilty.

I didn't think it wise to ask one of my dorm mates to take a photo of me with the cat whilst the maid was there, and she'd shooed it off of my bed, but luckily he decided to return when the maid had buggared off, and it felt like the Full Moon God had gifted me a furry hangover friend.

The cat and I managed to watch the entire series of 'Planet Earth 2' that day. David Attenborough's soothing tones got us through what would have otherwise been some pretty tough hours.

Really crap picture of the cat on my bed.

Really crap picture of the cat on my bed.

January 2nd, and I was able to stand on two feet and make it out into the real world. I was across the road at the supermarket, trying to hold myself together, when I bumped into Derek, who I'd met in Koh Lanta. He'd hired a moped for the day, and even though my plans had been simply to survive the trip to the shop, grabbing enough vital supplies that I wouldn't need to leave my bedroom again for at least the next 48 hours, Derek's invite and adamancy that the fresh air would make me feel better soon saw me putting on a helmet, climbing onto the back of his bike and heading for a trip to visit a waterfall.

Phaeng Waterfall turned out to be at the top of an Everest-like mountain. (At least it felt that way whilst we were walking up the path, anyway...) But true to Derek's word, once we were at the top, I felt a lot better for being in the fresh air. We sat on a rock, with our feet in the water, eating crisps and talking about life and travelling. It's a good job I'd bumped into him, or I would have ended up spending another day in bed with the cat, re-watching the first series of 'Planet Earth.' Being out and about was a much better alternative, (obviously no offence to David Attenborough intended,) and I ended up having a really good day.

Photo taken from Google Images of some other people sat where we were sat, because I had no camera to get a photo of us.

Photo taken from Google Images of some other people sat where we were sat, because I had no camera to get a photo of us.

On January 3rd, all my friends were leaving Koh Phangan to move onto various other destinations. I was supposed to be leaving as well, but everyone in my dorm room had moved out too, and the owner offered me a really cheap rate if I wanted to stay an extra night. To be quite honest, the prospect of having full control of the air conditioning had sold me before she'd even suggested the idea, and I'd geared myself up for another day of reading in bed, with the AC on full, so for the first time in months I could enjoy the comfort of lying under the covers, without drenching the entire bed in sweat.

I did venture out for a little while, in an attempt to find a shop that was able to repair my phone, but the storm that had appeared out of nowhere and destroyed my phone in the first place, decided to re-appear out of nowhere, and soaked to the bone, I gave up and went back to the hostel to read.

There was no luck finding a repair shop on Koh Phangan and the rain was showing no signs of stopping. I arrived the next afternoon on Koh Samui a little grumpy and a lot wet. The dorm I checked into smelt of sewage and the air conditioning was broken, so it felt like I'd moved into a smelly sauna. The communal area was one that guests were allowed to smoke in, and was the only place that the WiFi 'worked,' so I was forced to sit down there for at least a little while. Due to the non stop rain, practically every single guest was crammed in there hidden amongst clouds of smoke - so many people trying to connect to the wifi they were rendering it completely useless. I could hear about four different (terrible) songs playing on different speakers at the same time which was driving me criminally insane, there was a loud and very obviously rude and obnoxious Bristolian guy who was acting like a dick in general, and I could almost feel the minutes dropping off of my life as the only air there was to breathe was secondhand smoke. 

My options were to sit in the common room, where the smoke and noise and general busyness meant I was likely to snap at a random person (or more likely the Bristolian guy who was doing my head in,) to relocate to the dorm, which smelt like a Portaloo on a Sunday evening at Glastonbury, or to put on my trainers (for the first time in months) and head out into the rain. 

It says a lot about the hostel that I chose to spend the next few hours, traipsing through the rain, looking for a shop that might be able to repair my phone, or sell me a secondhand one for cheap. If I'd thought the heavens couldn't open any further, I couldn't have been more wrong, and as the rain continued to pound down, I found myself wading through the shin deep, dirty river which used to be the street. Completely defeated, I made my way back to the hostel, where of course the shower wasn't working and my only choice was to put on some dry clothes and get an extremely early night.

Another photo borrowed from Google Image Search. 

Another photo borrowed from Google Image Search. 

I was woken in the early hours of the morning by the loud Bristolian, (of course he was in my room...)  returning from a night out with the rest of the people from our dorm. They'd obviously all been out drinking together, and one of them suggested that the loud guy should be quiet, as I was sleeping.

"Screw them!" he'd replied, (or something along those lines, anyway,) before turning all the lights on and bashing about a bit more loudly than he already had been doing. I shot him a filthy look before rolling over and trying to get back to sleep, only to smell cigarette smoke a few minutes later, and feel him flicking his cigarette ash on me. I knew that speaking up wouldn't benefit me in the slightest, and I was already sick of his voice that day, so I just closed my eyes again and pretended to sleep.

I was awake early the next morning, hoping that the common room would be peaceful, smoke free and empty enough that the WiFi might actually connect. The only other people in the room were the loud Bristolian who had woken me the night before, and some girls. The loud Bristolian was talking animatedly to the girls, and I couldn't help but listen in on his conversation.

"So I got back to the dorm with the others last night, we were all creeping around really quietly so as not to wake the girl who was asleep, and the bitch suddenly woke up, turned on her light and shouted at me! I told her to calm down and she got really angry and started swearing at me. So when she was asleep, I smoked a cigarette and flicked the ash all over her...'

The loud, lying Bristolian was laughing and the girls were laughing too, and I couldn't help but call his stupid loud laughing face out on his blatant lie. When I explained that I was the 'bitch from the bed below' and I'd not said a word to him when he'd got back - even when he'd purposely woken me up and I'd felt him flick his cigarette ash all over me. His face instantly gave away that his version of the story had all been a lie, the girls stopped laughing and one of them asked him what the point in making up stories was? I didn't stick around for long enough to find out if being caught out shut him up - I was checking out a day early and going to Phuket....

Mountains, Full Moons and Storms.

Koh Phangan. Home to the notorious Full Moon parties of Thailand. Famous for drinking, dancing and general debauchery... 

Seeing in the New Year at a Thai Full Moon party is one of those things which has always been on my bucket list, but it's only ever really been on there half heartedly. Supposedly one of the best parties in the world, it's an event which I've always felt that I should go and investigate at some point, but have always secretly suspected that I'd not actually enjoy too much. Seeing as New Year was merely days away, and Koh Phangan was just a short boat journey from our current location it made sense to choose the present time to welcome in 2017 on Haad Rin beach, with around 30,000 other partygoers.

The boat journey from Koh Tao to Koh Phangan was by far the most traumatic boat journey of my travels so far. As the weather was clear and the sea was calm, we decided to sit on the top deck and play the 'Guess The Celebrity' game, where someone thinks of a celebrity and the rest of the group get twenty questions to try and guess which celebrity the person is thinking of. I was sat happily munching on Heather's Oreos, quite smug that we were nearing the 20th question and nobody had guessed my celebrity, when Sarah looked up and said,

"I'm really stuck with this one - the only person I can think of is Cilla Black, but you said that it was someone that was still alive and she's obviously dead, so it can't be her..."

I practically choked on my Oreo. "CILLA BLACK IS DEAD!?" She was my chosen celebrity - I'd somehow missed the news of her death well over a year before, and was only just finding out about it. I was absolutely gutted, though everyone else seemed to think that my dismay (and my ignorance,) was quite amusing.

Rest in peace, Cilla. 

Rest in peace, Cilla. 

Although a very special Christmas treat, at a cost of nearly triple my entire daily budget per night, the five days I'd spent in my posh room in Koh Tao were more than enough for me. (I'd rather spend the extra money on food...) So whilst everyone else continued their lives of luxury and checked into their hotels in Koh Phangan, I went Lone Ranger and booked myself into a hostel. It was actually good to go back to sharing a room with a bunch of randomers - I've become quite accustomed to background noise and I'd found myself struggling to sleep in my quiet room and huge bed over Christmas! My hostel wasn't too far from where everyone else was staying either, so it was only a short walk to theirs to join them for a Mai Tai or four by the pool.

Mai tai crew.

Mai tai crew.

The eve of New Year's Eve soon arrived, and we decided to spend the day at Mellow Mountain on Haad Rin beach, the same beach where the Full Moon Party would take place the following night. I'd been pretty ill overnight and for most of the morning too, and a kind French man from my dorm had looked after me - got me some food, water and medicine and made sure I was propped up in bed ok. Although I'd started feeling a little better, I wasn't sure if I should spend a day in the sun at the Mountain, but I went anyway and it turned out being one of my favourite days in Thailand. We were all in a bit of a silly mood, got the giggles in a big way and within a few hours my stomach hurt from laughing. I had a permanent stream of tears running down my face. I was mid hysteric when we bumped into the French guy who had been looking after me just hours before - his face was a picture - I'd gone from looking like something out of the Walking Dead to the chirpiest girl in Thailand. He must have been thinking, "Blimey, those meds were good!"

We were trying to relax on the beach when a group of loud, boisterous Scots appeared from nowhere and started throwing clumps of sand at each other. Seeing the look of distaste on each other's faces set off our laughter again, and then we realised that if they heard us laughing it would attract their attention and they might want to come and join us. For me, one of the hardest things in the world is to try and stop laughing when I'm not supposed to be, and the more we all tried to stop laughing, the harder we laughed. We did an absolutely terrible job of avoiding their attention and of course they spotted us and came to sit next to us.

One of them had a big bushy ginger moustache and and spat a bit when he talked. It just about killed me off to watch everyone's faces as he yapped away, rather than speaking to them at a normal volume, spraying their faces with flecks of spit in the process. I was almost rolling in the sand, crying with laughter. His friend had chosen to lie right on the shore of the beach, waves crashing over him, submerging him fully for a second or two each time a new wave came. Hannah and I went for a paddle to get away from the yappy, bushy mouthed one, but when we got to the water, there was a loud shout of "BOW DOWN TO YOUR MOTHER!" The 'water Scot' had risen from the sea, and with eyes bloodshot from the salt water, he proceeded to inform us that we have all in fact evolved from fish and not apes. He kept trying to get us to bow down to the sea, as it was our creator, and he wanted us to give the whole 'lying down in it' thing a go, so we made a prompt exit and instead went in search of a toilet. (We found a puppy instead, which as you can see, brought us copious amounts of joy.)

Mellow Mountain puppy. 

Mellow Mountain puppy. 

The following day was New Year's Eve and we were all ready for the Full Moon Party. (We were covered in UV paint and mentally prepared to drink buckets of disgusting Thai vodka and mixer at least.)

We arrived at Haad Rin, and in a suitably tipsy state, the cheesy music and horrific dancing that everyone was partaking in was actually quite a laugh. There were fire spinners and fire twirlers and lots of fire in general. In fact, it was all fire and fun and games until we needed the toilet and saw that every single other person at the Full Moon Party also needed the toilet, and the queue stretched out of sight.. There was absolutely no way we could hold for that long, and even if we managed to, we'd end up missing the NYE countdown, so we had to go and join the large group of people who had also left it too late to get in the queue, and were using the sea as a form of communal, unisex urinal. 

This is where the night started to go horribly wrong. A nasty, chavvy male (who looked like he'd skipped leg day at the gym every single day for all of forever,) told us (whilst urinating into the sea himself) that we were disgusting for using the sea as a toilet. He got quite angry at us so we returned some abuse in his direction before heading towards the main area of the beach, where the countdown for New Year was going to happen. I wanted to be right next to the fireworks so I could film them for my GoPro video. Everyone else wanted to stay out of the most crowded part, so we found a prominent spot for to meet them after. Pretty much ten seconds after leaving them, I bumped into this disgusting boy I'd met in Koh Phi Phi a few weeks before. The last time I'd seen him, he'd said to me,

"You may as well get into my bed instead of your bed later because we both know you're going to end up in my bed tonight anyway.." 

When I'd arrived back at the hostel that very same night he'd been so sure that I was going to sleep with him, he'd been sat in his bed, blind drunk, being sick all over himself and making absolutely no attempt to go to the bathroom or to throw up somewhere other than all over his bed and his own self. Hate is an extremely strong word, but from that moment onwards, I hated him with passion. Naturally, when I was making my way over to the area where the fireworks were going to be set off, and I bumped into him and he suggested that I stand with him and kiss him at midnight, I did a complete U-Turn and made my way back to stand with everyone else.


Turns out that bumping into Sicky sick face did me a huge favour. As the clock struck twelve, chaos ensued. The fireworks decided to go off into the faces of the crowd instead of the sky, and as a result, there was a stampede of people trying to escape the sparks which were flying over anyone who happened to be close to the front. I managed to somehow miss the initial stampede of UV painted backpackers, as I was too busy fighting off a Thai man, who I'd caught with his hand in my pocket, trying to steal my phone. I successfully started a 'THIEF, THIEF, THIEF' chant, so the pickpocket was forced to disappear from the area, and I turned round just in time for the second wave of the stampede to practically carry me off my feet. 

It took us a little while to find each other (and our flip flops) after the rush of burnt people had trampled their way through the masses. We were lucky to have not been close to the front - there were lots of people with burns all over their arms and faces, and it was obvious that plenty of people had got separated from their friends.

We made our way off of the beach, away from the drama and to a place we thought might be less chaotic. Moving through the crowds, several men obviously thought that groping was acceptable behaviour. My suspicions about the Full Moon Party not being very enjoyable were proving correct, a little ball of anger was growing inside of me, and I was coming extremely close to lashing out and punching someone in their stupid UV faces. When we finally made it to a bar, I bought a drink and before I'd even taken a sip, a man flicked his cigarette ash into it. I was fuming. His friends apologised and said he'd buy me another one. By now, I didn't even want another drink, but out of principle, I walked over to the bar with the man and ordered another. He was so drunk, he walked off without paying and it was around this point that we all decided we needed to get as far away from one of the world's 'greatest NYE parties' and head somewhere else.

I couldn't wait to get on the boat that was going to take us to 'Eden.' There were promises of decent music, decent people and an actual good time. I wanted to get as far away from the gropey, drunk idiots and the pickpockets and the crowds of burnt people and the chaos. We clambered on board, put on our life jackets and got ready for the short journey to the other side of the island. 

It was at approximately the halfway point that the storm hit. It came out of absolutely nowhere. The waves were huge and the boat was rocking. Everyone was screaming and it looked like there was a chance that we could even capsize. I'm not going to lie - I was actually enjoying the rocky ride. We were getting drenched, the waves were spraying everywhere, the boat was almost in the sky one second and then we'd come crashing back down. Seeing as we were at the halfway point, there was no point in turning back - we may as well continue on our merry way. We hit dry land safely and everyone stumbled off the boat.

The pleasure I gained, from the same boat ride that everyone else seemed to hate, was short lived. I guess you could even say that it's karma, but as I put my hand into my bag, I realised exactly how non waterproof it actually was. The whole thing was pretty much filled with water. My phone seemed to contain half of the ocean - it was more than dripping - it was practically gushing. The screen was dying a sorrowful death, right in front of my eyes. I'd already spent hundreds of pounds on phone repair since arriving in Thailand, and the last time I'd been at the repair shop, the man had told me that if it ever got wet again then it was a goner. I walked to Eden, simply to ask for a bag of rice to put my phone in, and then walked straight back to the boat, clutching my bag of rice, so I could head back to the hostel. It was probably only around 1:30am, but I was sick to death of 2017.

Because I obviously didn't hate New Year in Thailand enough already, the boat men wanted triple the price for the fare back. They knew we had no other choice but to pay up - it was either that or stay stranded in the rain. I grumpily handed over the final remainder of my money and headed back to the hostel, all spent out, drenched to the bone, and once again without a phone. 

At least I've ticked the Full Moon Party off my Bucket List..... (Or rather put a MASSIVE red cross through it, with a flashing LED warning to ward off anybody else that ever suggests it might be anything close to a good idea....) 

The calm before the storm. 

The calm before the storm. 

Christmas On Koh Tao

It was sad to leave our new friends - travelling seems to have different rules to real life, and you form bonds and become attached to people more quickly than you do back at home, but it was time to head to Koh Tao, where we would be spending Christmas with some old friends from Bristol who had also been backpacking for the last year or so. I couldn't wait to catch up on all their adventures. We had to get a horrible minibus transfer to Krabi where we had a short wait before we could get another transfer to Surat Thani and then the next boat to Koh Tao. There's not much to do in Krabi at all, but we did find a cool pair of Google Crocs for Heather when we went for a short stroll. 

Height of fashion.

Height of fashion.

If I thought that the boat to Koh Lanta had been rough, the catamaran to Koh Tao was on a completely different level - a level found deep amongst the deepest depths of the seven kingdoms of hell. Within about three minutes of being on the boat, Heather and I were surrounded by vomiting men, women and children. None of whom were attempting to be the slightest bit quiet about it. Very selfish. 

My iPod and a shared pair of headphones just about saw us through the three hour journey. We narrowly avoided being covered in sick when a woman stood up with a pale toddler who then proceeded to projectile vomit all over the surrounding people and the floor. I usually love boats, but I don't think I've ever been as glad to set foot on dry land as when the sicky catamaran docked at Koh Tao.

Sicky boat sunset. 

Sicky boat sunset. 

We'd splashed out in a big way (for Thailand, anyway,) and booked into a swanky resort over Christmas, but we still had a couple of days before it was time to check in, so we found a budget double room and got settled there before meeting up with everyone else. It was really nice to catch up with everyone after so long apart.

Typical of our luck, rain and cloudy weather plagued us for the next day or two. It was starting to look like we might not be having Christmas on the beach as originally planned. We had wanted to go scuba diving as well, but knew that if the weather wasn't clear then the visibility would be bad and it might be a waste of money. The only silver lining in the rain clouds above us was that I'd intended to do my PADI Open Water course in Koh Tao, but due to the stitches in my ear, I'd been forced to ditch that idea. At least now I could see that the weather was bad, I could stop moaning about the fact I was unable to do it - I wouldn't have wanted to whilst the visibility was crap anyway. 

Instead of exploring the depths of the Gulf of Thailand, we spent the next couple of days catching up with each other and eating burgers. The boys had found a ridiculously good burger place, (and I think I honestly lived on burgers for an entire month after it re-awakend my love for them.) I obviously spent a lot of time making friends with animals too. I think that's why I enjoy travelling so much - you get to spend a lot of time eating and making friends with animals. It's an ideal lifestyle. 



Checking into the Koh Tao Royal Resort was like a dream after so many months in hostels. Having not only a room,  but a whole king-size bed and my own bathroom to myself was a luxury that I would have appreciated a lot less a few months before. (Even if my room was located practically at the top of a mountain and severely tested my fitness every time I needed to get back to it.)

The weather also decided to start being a lot kinder to us as soon as we'd checked in, and Sarah, Hannah and I booked in for an open water dive on the morning of Christmas Eve, (complete with our Santa hats, so we could truly get into the underwater Christmas spirit...) I wanted to see a whale shark, and though we didn't see a whale shark, we still had a lot of fun, (and I now have a completely valid reason to visit the Philippines, where I have a much better chance of seeing one anyway.) 

The staff at Simple Life Divers were kind enough to invite us to their staff Christmas party that night, complete with a free 'all you can eat' Christmas Dinner buffet. We attended and brought all of our friends too. We ate nearly all of their pigs in blankets and stuffing balls, but they didn't seem to mind. 

We are ok. 

We are ok. 

Christmas fish. 

Christmas fish. 


As much as it's nice to awaken somewhere warm and beachy on Christmas Day, it would be nicer still to wake up somewhere with your family. This was my second Christmas away from home, and although the sun and cocktails compensate slightly for the people you're missing, it's never going to compare. (If any of my family are reading, fancy a Christmas in the sun one year!?)

The manager of the resort we were staying in was grumpy and quite horrible, but there was a pet dog which they dressed up for Christmas Day, which sort of made up for it. I ended up spending most of the day drinking cocktails and cuddling the dog, before we went for our Christmas meal. As much as I wanted a Christmas dinner, it was horribly overpriced and I couldn't really justify spending all that money on it after we'd stuffed ourselves on free Christmas treats the night before. I ended up having a starter, a main dish, a dessert and a few drinks too, (and it still worked out cheaper than the set Christmas meal!) My brother would be horrified at the idea of me having a tuna steak for Christmas dinner, but to be fair, a Christmas dinner without my nan's stuffing wouldn't really feel a Christmas dinner anyway...

Pure Christmas joy. 

Pure Christmas joy. 

Christmas Dinners. 

Christmas Dinners. 

Boxing Day was a fairly chilled affair. We all got the boat over to another island, 'Koh Nang Yuan.' It was supposed to be paradise, but it had so many rules that I've decided I don't really like paradise much at all. You had to pay to get onto the beach, they confiscated your water upon arrival, and god forbid you try to bring a towel to sit on. Strictly no beach towels allowed. You're allowed to pay sit on the deck chairs provided, but it would probably be cheaper to buy one from a designer deck chair store and get it shipped over to you, Special Delivery. I spent a lot of the day wondering if it was preferable to feel like I was dying from dehydration or to spend three days worth of budget on a bottle of water to quench my thirst.

As much as I'd taken a dislike to 'paradise beach' or whatever it was that they'd called it, the viewpoint was nice. Insistent on climbing right to the top, I nearly broke my ankle, (flip flops aren't the greatest footwear choice for climbing,) but it was worth it for the view. 

Koh Nang Yuan viewpoint. 

Koh Nang Yuan viewpoint. 

A short boat ride to Koh Tao ensured we were back to the hotel in time for a beautiful Boxing Day sunset. With my second Christmas away from home complete, it was time to start preparing for New Year!  

Boxing Day Sunsets 

Boxing Day Sunsets