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A London Meet-Up and a Request for Guest Posts

I’ve been thinking a lot about community lately, and about support networks. I’ve been thinking more and more about my blog’s tagline – “It’s not just the where and the how of travel, it’s the who and the why.” I’ve been thinking about what this blog is here for, and what on earth I aim to achieve from it beyond the (hopefully not but probably) navel-gazing stories about my travels, emphasis on the my.

And, of course, the more I think about it all, the more it comes back to this: the main reason I travel, the main reason I blog, hell, the main reason I get up in the morning, is because of the interactions with people I have from all over the world. Meeting new people and engaging with people from different backgrounds and cultures is the whole reason I am so addicted to travelling in the first place. I wrote a post recently about how I believe people are good, and in that I talked about how much I’ve gained and learned from interacting with people of all walks of life.

But I am just one person, and I represent just one kind of traveller.

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Book Review (and Giveaway!): Mother Tongue

One of the great joys of my life is, obviously, travelling. Another great joy – one that has always allowed me to travel, even if I’m sitting on my couch – is reading. Over the past few years, especially in the midst of my master’s degree, I read a heck of a lot of non-fiction, and, as I wrote the first draft of my own book, I read tons and tons of travel-focused non-fiction. I read great, inspiring books, books that made me want to plan trips to faraway lands, books that made me laugh and made me learn. I also read a lot of… well… not so great books, books that felt more like a poorly-written (and sometimes culturally insensitive) diary.

But someone whose writing I can always rely on is Christine Gilbert of Almost Fearless. I’ve been reading her blog for a long time and even considered spending some time in Mexico in order to do one of her writing courses (OK, and to eat a lot of guacamole). I had followed her journey of writing a book, and when she reached out to me to see if I wanted to read an advanced copy of that book, I was more than happy to do so.

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Cinque Terre on a Budget

If you’ve been following my Facebook or my Instagram accounts, you’d know that I’m not hiding the fact that I fell absolutely, head over heels in love with Cinque Terre, Italy. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know – I can be quite promiscuous with my travel love. But how can you NOT fall in love with a place that looks like this, especially when the sun is shining and you have a glass of wine in your hand?

I’m still going through all of the hundreds of photos I took from my four days there last month, so I’ll be posting a photo essay soon, but I wanted to write a post about some of the logistics of getting around Cinque Terre, especially for those who are on a bit of a budget (like I was…er… always am). I had quite a few people write to me to say that they plan on visiting the region this summer, and so hopefully this guide can help, or perhaps it can help inspire you to plan your own trip there. It is one of the most beautiful places in Italy, if not the world, and I truly believe that Cinque Terre can be visited on a budget. Here’s how.

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Travelling Without Luggage (A Challenge)

If you’ve read this blog long enough you know that I am not a light packer. I mean, I’ve learned a lot in the past few years as I consistently travel with carry-on only around Europe, but those trips are always only a few days, maximum one week. I just can’t help it – I’m love clothes and I love being prepared. While part of me envies those people who can travel around the world with one tiny backpack, the other part of me is quite happy to carry a few more kilograms if it means I get to have options. To each their own, I guess. I’ve also been very lucky (touch wood) that I’ve never lost a suitcase for good. I’ve had items delayed, but I’ve always had them returned to me within 24 hours.

On the flip side of all this, I’ve always wanted to try arriving somewhere with no luggage whatsoever, and then having to buy everything from local shops and markets. I’ve often talked about doing it somewhere in Southeast Asia – I think that Thailand (especially Bangkok or Chiang Mai) would be fairly easy and fun locations to test this out. Me? I chose to test it out in Italy.

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Why I Love The Causeway Coast

A few weeks ago, on the first weekend of April, I flew from London to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. I had been once before, in 2008, and had really enjoyed my time in the country. During those four days, I spent one day on a whistle-stop tour that explored the Causeway Coast, herded from one sightseeing spot to the next. It had never felt like enough.

Fast forward eight years, and I was given the chance to visit Northern Ireland again. This time, however, my entire time would be spent on the Causeway Coast, based in the little seaside town of Portballintrae. The idea of spending three days exploring this area was highly appealing; since that visit in 2008, my travel style has changed considerably, and I’d now rather take my time and see more of a smaller area than travel at breakneck speed in order to cram it all in.

In short, I completely fell in love with the Causeway Coast. Here’s why.

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Cinque Terre

On Being Addicted to Travelling

Three days ago I was there, in the place you see photographed above: Cinque Terre, Italy (and that, specifically, is the village of Vernazza). I had an amazing time in Italy, my sixth time to the country; I ate lots of great food, went hiking on beautiful trails, sat by the water with glasses of wine, drank far too many espressos, and even met some handsome Italians (that always helps). And then, with one two hour flight from Pisa and a bus from Stansted airport, I was at home in my flat, unpacking and doing laundry and wondering whether or not I could eat enough sushi to warrant the minimum delivery surcharge (spoiler: I could, even though I ordered so much they delivered it to me with four sets of chopsticks).

Something I often think about – and quite frankly, something I often worry about – is whether or not I’m addicted to travelling. That, perhaps, I’m too consumed by it, and, what frightens me the most, is that I’m often the happiest when I’m on the road. So what does it mean to be addicted to travelling?

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Six Years of This Battered Suitcase: What Next?

OK, so I feel like I just wrote the post discussing the five year anniversary of this blog, but nope, that was already a year ago. On April 12th, 2010, exactly six years and one day ago, I posted the first of many blog posts on This Battered Suitcase. I wasn’t new to blogging, however – I had been writing on a Livejournal account for seven years before that, which brings my blogging total to 13 years. It’s been one hell of a ride, and it’s nowhere near over – I love blogging and being a part of the blogging community more than ever. And because some of you have been reading for a while (some even since Livejournal!), and because I know that many things I’ve gotten out of blogging have been because of readers like you, I wanted to talk about the future of This Battered Suitcase as transparently and as honestly as I hope I’ve always been. For more on my history with blogging, check out what I wrote on the four year anniversary of the blog; much of what I say there still totally stands. I feel kind of silly writing these posts, but it also feels silly to let the anniversary slide when it’s something that takes up such a huge part of my life.

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Visiting Yad Vashem, Jerusalem’s Holocaust Memorial

I stepped into the dark corridor of Yad Vashem’s Holocaust History Museum, the skylight above providing a sliver of sunlight. It’s difficult to describe what it’s like to be here; it’s overwhelming and emotional, but it holds such great significance. In my opinion, it’s worth a trip to Israel just to experience it.

Found on the western slope of Mount Herzl of Jerusalem, Yad Vashem is Israel’s second most-visited tourist site (the Wailing Wall is the first). The memorial, sprawling over many acres of land, includes the Holocaust History Museum, the Hall of Remembrance, the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations, the Museum of Holocaust Art, the Children’s Memorial, and many other buildings. As the memorial seeks to educate, document, and commemorate the Holocaust – the genocide that claimed over six million Jewish lives during WWII, killing two thirds of the European Jewish population – it also houses a synagogue, publishing house, research institute, library, and education centre.

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What to Wear in Thailand

While the internet is saturated with these “what to wear” posts, I always enjoy putting them together, and I like having go-to resources for people who write to me about certain topics. I get a lot of emails about what to wear in countries I’ve been to, and I’m slowly but surely trying to get them all done. I may as well keep going with what to wear in Thailand.

First of all, Thailand is hot. Really hot. Depending on where you go and when, you’ll most likely experience very warm weather and possibly some intense humidity and rain. It’s always important to dress comfortably while still being culturally appropriate. Here, then, is what I recommend to wear in Thailand.

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