“What would you pack for a weekend away?”

Over the last few months, I’ve become a little slack in the blogging department. But what better way to get back into writing, than to answer a competition question from TrekAmerica?

Blog-for-trek-homepage-860x300

Ok, so, in 2013, I spent the majority of the year living out of a suitcase/backpack for countless, weeks, weekends and months during my training, working and travelling. When it comes to packing light, I have definitely learnt the difference between essentials and excess.

a391f5bc30ad11e3abfb22000a1fbae5_8

Before packing for a weekend, its important to consider various factors. Your destination, the climate and what your planned activities are, then you can base your entire wardrobe around these.

For me, I like to travel in my ‘heavy’ clothing. So say, a thick knitted jumper, skinny jeans and a nice pair of boots. This in the end saves SO much room in your bag! And not forgetting, they can be pretty heavy when weighed. (I haven’t got time for a heavy bag!)

But what do you put in your case?

  • No matter where you go, you will need a raincoat. It rains EVERYWHERE. Investing in what I like to call, a mum jacket, will save some really sad moments when you’re completely wet through. It’s honestly a lifesaver! Or pack a poncho, just as cheap, and easily accessible on eBay.
  • A dress. Always. Dress it up for an evening out, dress it down when you’re sightseeing. I’m sure you don’t need fashion tips!
  • A couple of good tshirts/tops. Once again, something you’re comfortable in, but something you can also dress up in the evenings.
  • Skirt/Shorts. Depending on your destination, you might want to trade these for leggings/jeans.
  • Flip Flops. Pure essentials. Even if you’re on a winter break, think about that lovely hostel bathroom you might be sharing…

I like to take a bag in addition to my case/backpack. Something that is big enough for daytime to fit the majority of your essentials in, but something you can also use on a nightout. Cover all your grounds! Remember, most accommodation these days will always provide a towel. Why waste precious space?!

16804bca2e7711e3b41222000a1f8cb0_8

And not forgetting the all important ‘essential’ checklist!

  • Underwear & Socks. Take more than you think you even need. Loads of it. Can’t go wrong with it!
  • Toiletries. There are these genius little mini travel toiletries these days. Why weigh yourself down with full size bottles? Don’t forget that all important bottle of travel wash. Stay fresh.
  • Makeup. Keep it basic! Unless you can’t live without your entire makeup bag, take the whole thing. We’re not judging ladies!
  • Camera. You don’t need an explanation! But don’t spend your entire time staring down a lense. Talk to the locals! Learn more about their culture and where you are.
  • Ipod/Iphone! Communication and music. Chill central. Don’t spend you’re entire time on Facebook though.
  • Pen & Paper. For me, I love to bullet point my entire day in the evening. You can’t forget anything in years to come that way.
  • Chargers/Spare Batteries. Cameras/Iphones/Ipods. All needed.
  • Medication/Glasses/Contact Lenses/Sunglasses. Self explanitory.
  • Passport/Travel Documents. You aren’t going anywhere without these bad boys!

990edb22d10e11e2a2ce22000a1fa411_7

There are obviously hundreds of different items you could take away with you, that you could adapt for any situation. But most importantly, take a sense of adventure, be open minded, and get completely stuck in with the new culture, and way of living. The best way to see a place, is to discover places off the unbeaten track and speak to locals, and you’ll have the trip of a lifetime.

Enter the TrekAmerica competition yourself here.

What can you not travel without? Let me know!

What are YOU doing next summer?

Thinking about summer camp next year? Stop thinking and start applying!

It may seem a little early to consider what you may or may not be doing next summer, but if you’re looking for an experience you’ll never forget, with the opportunity to travel afterwards, then summer camp in America may just be for you!

When I first considered joining the Camp Leaders programme, last August, I had hundreds of questions that I couldn’t always find the answer too. Hopefully, this post will answer a few of those.

“What is it all about?!”
Summer camp is a huge tradition in the states. Thousands and thousands of parents send their children away to camp each summer, leaving them in the hands of us! The kids are after a good time, learn new skills and make memories that last a lifetime.

“How do I know if I’m going to enjoy it?”
Take it from us. You just will. As long as you’re outgoing, patient and don’t mind looking a fool for a childs entertainment on the odd occasion, its for you! It is one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have, and it is something you can take away with you forever. Not only that, you will be able to brag when you get home that it is possibly the coolest summer job ever.

“What do I get for my money?”
With Camp Leaders the programme fees can be as little as £389. This is an incentive for you to put all your work in and get you application processed and placable as soon as possible. Included in your fees are your return flights, medical insurance, all your visa paperwork, admin fees, 24/7 support here and in the states, and obviously a paid summer job in America.

“Will I get placed?”
99.9% of participants get a place at camp.

“But I don’t have any experience”
Yes you do! Everyone has a skill that makes them unique to camp, and if you’re really worried about it, check out local volunteering opportunities. Do-it has a wide range of youth and childcare opportunities nationwide that would enhance your application. If you’re still unsure, check out the some of the courses that are offered by Camp Leaders.

These are just a few of the questions I get asked on twitter, instagram and facebook, but honestly, you will not regret your decision to sign up. There is a camp out there for everyone, and all camps are completely different, so no experience will be the same, but your summer memories will last a lifetime.

Summer is Over

photo

Summer is officially over. As I’ve been gone for some time, I wrote this small blog post for Camp Leaders, so potential applicants could see a ‘true’ story about summer camp in America.

I was hired at a girl scout camp in Virginia as a lifeguard. Both girl lifeguarding and being a girl scout were completely new to me, so I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. Before I left for the USA I trained as a lifeguard on the camp leaders ARC course. This was a brilliant week of meeting like minded people, and it also answered many of questions that I had about camp. 

I left for the states on the 10th June, not knowing too much about what camp life would really be like. When I arrived I stayed with a host family so I could get over my jetlag and ease into American culture. They were some of the best people I met during my time there. They picked me up from the airport, took us out sightseeing and for dinner, picked us up on our weekends off so we could have a little break from camp life, and looked after us before we flew home. They were so welcoming, and as they were a family that had attended the camp themselves before, they definitely settled any nerves! 

The camp itself was very basic. We had no electricity, no flushing toilets and lived in platform tents. The experience itself was a challenge, especially when it came to removing spiders or seeing a snake every now and then. But having everything so basic, made me more appreciative of everything that I have at home! 

Our day to day routine was very similar to other camps. We would get up around 7, attend flag, go to breakfast and then the activities would start. Being waterfront staff, meant that I got to spend my entire day at the waterfront, taking part in the activities. These included swimming, kayaking, sailing and windsurfing. The campers go to experience a lot of the waterfront, as well as arts and crafts, but we always had some crazy all camp games to end the day. We also had fantastic themed weeks, such as pirates, the hunger games and harry potter, which was obviously very popular!  

After an amazing 9 weeks, saying goodbye to 24 of the best people I could have ever met was so difficult. Camp friendships are a little different as you are not only friends, but you’re also your own little family. I can now say that I have friends all over the world thanks to camp in America. 

I was lucky enough to travel after camp for 3 weeks. in this time I went too Florida, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Washington DC and New York. I got to visit some beautiful places, and experience things I never thought I would.  

If anyone is in two minds about whether they should apply or not, my advice would be to go for it! You will not regret a single minute when you are at camp and it will be the best experience of your life. 

Time is Running Out

Wow, its been 2 months since my last blog post and I’ve been crazy busy with sorting out my life for the next 4 months.

In 4 days time I leave the comfort of my home town to live basic. Like, really basic. No electric, in the middle of no where with no phone and no one I know. I can’t wait! I can’t wait to be shut off from the world and not have to worry about anyone, or anything. No social media for 4 months will be bliss. To be quite honest, if it wasn’t for going away for so long, I would have never have reactivated my account, but I’ve kept it for my closest friends & family.

My only concern right now, is how do I get my life into a 60L rucksack? The more I look at the mountain of clothes, the more I put it off. But time is running out and I need some serious motivation. ( Not that the thought of travelling around North America isn’t motivation enough)

I’m even unsure of my travel plans after camp. A few rough ideas later and I still can’t decide. If the country wasn’t so big, I think I would have a much easier time deciding. But my decision making skills are questionable and the TrekAmerica brochure just isn’t helping, it’s just making me wish I had an endless pile of money.

So who knows. Will I be packed on time? Where will I end up?

The Countdown is On!


Recently I’ve become a bit lazy (again) when it comes to updating this blog. I’ve been so busy, I’ve even ticked two things off my bucket list!!

images

In August of last year, I had a telephone interview for this coming summer when I was asked the question, “how well can you swim?”. Now, I’m a pretty good person, but I may have told a sneaky white lie and said, “really well/I love it/ Its my favourite sport”. Which then backfired on me when they immediately signed me up for a life guarding course for this year.

I somehow managed to convince myself, that I would swim every single day for 30 minutes, gradually building up my time, speed and distance for the next 6 months. Then somehow, I may pass all my prerequisites. How hard could it be right?!?!

Well. Lets just say when I saw the list of prerequisites, I could have just cried. Sad tears of course, not happy ones. But it was something I had thought about gaining previously, and having been hired on the basis of actually being a life guard already, I didn’t have a lot of choice.

Let me just say, that if you ever seriously want to do this qualification, you are crazy. But in a good way. Because it will wreck your body and social life, like no other.

I gave up nights out, afternoon lunch dates with my best friends and ended up being so tired that I was in bed by 8pm every night. For 5 months. In the beginning, it was genuinly a nightmare, and I considered giving up before I had even begun thousands of times. Luckily, I have several amazingly supportive friends, who understood and actually forced me to train/listened to me cry down the phone about how I was about to fail. One of them can’t even swim, and physically got in the pool with me. That’s how much I love them with all my heart.

But you know what time does. It literally creeps up on you and out of no where my course date had arrived. That first day, felt like I was starting school all over again. I had met 3 girls , one in my hotel, one the night before, and one in the pool waiting room, so we all crapped ourselves together. You know when you get that ultimate fear of, ‘ i wish i had actually practiced that more’ going round and round? Well, that was going round in my brain at 60mph.

But somehow I swam my distance in the quickest time I’ve ever swam, picked up a stupidly heavy brick off the floor with no problem & tread water like it was the most natural thing in the world. The one thing that completely threw me, was an underwater swim. The biggest thing for me, was confidence and knowing it was mind over matter. Which luckily, it was. And even though it took me 3 attempts, I did it. The best bit about that whole part? Having the amazing group literally behind me the whole time. Also slightly embarrassing now though. No one wants to be cheered, or clapped at when you look like a dying whale.

Obviously, it was by far the hardest 5 days of my life. I’ve never eaten so many Subways before, or ready made porridge. I came home with a cracked rib from backboarding, covered head to toe in bruises and a massive scar in the middle of my hand. But the one thing I realised that they never actually told me before I went, was that I would meet some amazing people. The best part, is that we’re all still in touch, there are summer plans in the states & we have a massive night out coming up.

So the countdown is on!! 59 days and I’ll be 100% life guarding in the states.