My Most Used Travel Gear Essentials

My Most Used Travel Gear Essentials

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We all have those go to essentials when we travel right? In this post I’ll list everything that I must have in my backpack when I travel. We live in a digital age so most of it comprises of electronics and digital enhancing travel goodies.

Most used travel gear essentials:

My Most Used Travel Gear Essentials

Anker Power Bank (1)

One of my most used travel essentials is definitely my ‘Anker Power Bank‘ It has saved me on so many occasions where I have had no access to power or have been in places that suffer from frequent power outages. It is robust, durable and can charge up to 3 devices at the same time via 3 USB slots. It charges my phone (iPhone 4S) up to 6 full charges and a full laptop (HP Notebook) charge. It has a torch function on the side as an added extra.

Cons – Slightly heavier than some of the others on the market. However it has never affected the portability in my case.

DSLR Camera (For photographers) (2)

These days with phone cameras and small portable cameras like Gopro’s, carrying a DSLR isn’t necessary; however I have always loved to use a DSLR when taking photos. There is still a higher quality you get when taking photos with a DSLR and as an amateur photographer this is something important to me.

I have been using Nikon products for about 10 years now and I can say that they always deliver on quality whilst providing you with options to take control of every aspect of the photos outcome. I have been using my ‘Nikon D7000 Digital SLR Camera with 18-105mm VR Lens Kit (16.2MP) 3 inch LCD‘ for about 5 years now and the quality is outstanding; with a 32-point auto focusing ring & high ISO (100-3200/H1&H2) performance in low light makes it a very versatile and effective camera.

Before the D7000, I was using a ‘Nikon D40 & 60‘ both great cameras for first time DLSR users – very good quality and easy to use controls.

I usually use a f1.8 50mm lens too, which captures most shots from portraits to landscapes. However I also switch between a f4.5 55-200mm and my go to kit lens f3.5 18-55mm.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR f/1.8G Lens – 50 mm

Nikon 20050 AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200 mm VR II Lens for Camera

Nikon 18 – 55 mm f/3.5 – 5.6G VR AF-P DX Nikkor Lens for Camera

Here are a few examples of shots I have taken with each:

GoPro Hero 3 + (3)

A popular choice for most travellers and I am no different, my ‘GoPro Hero 3+‘ is great for being portable and resilient when I’m capturing moments on my travels. The housing that comes with it means I don’t have to worry about it being broken or getting knocked in action. It can shoot in 1080p and is easy to use via a 1 click button on the top and front of the camera. The housing means that the camera is waterproof so can also be used in water and allows you to capture great underwater photos/footage as well.

GoPro HERO3+ Silver Edition Camera/Camcorder

Cons – The red light on the front when recording flashes which can be distracting when trying to be discreet in public places – I get around this by putting some black tape over it which usually does the job. The sound quality is affected by the housing around the camera, so if you’re looking to capture sound I’d look into microphones or separate sound recorders to use with it.

Disposable Camera (4)

I love using disposables when travelling. They are lightweight, durable and take retro snaps for your travel journal – also very cheap and affordable! A great back up to carry with you if you can’t use your camera or phone!

Kodak Fun Flash Disposable Camera – 39 Exposures Pack of 2

Travel Journal/Notebook (5)

It may sound simple but having a journal or notebook is a great item to take with you if you’re a travel blogger or traveller in general. I’m aways getting ideas when I’m out and love to collect important information like times, dates, prices and receipts. It’s also a great idea to write up about your travels as you go because you meet so many interesting people along the way and go through a lot of different emotions that you’ll want to look back on in the future.
Travel Notebook: Gifts / Gift / Presents ( Ruled Traveler’s Notebook with Antique Map Cover ) (Travel & World Cultures)

Swiss Army Knife or Multitool (6)

A great item to carry with you! Always very handy and I nearly always use this when I am travelling – even if the ‘spork’ function is my most used!

Victorinox Huntsman Pocket Knife – Red

Mini Wireless Speakers (7)

A good item to carry with you if you’re volunteering or travelling with people is a ‘mini speaker’. It’s great to be social with and creates a fun atmosphere instantly. Try this ‘Speaker’ on the road – it’s served me well the times I have had to use one.

Portable Speakers, ZENBRE M4 Wireless Bluetooth Speakers with Enhanced Bass Resonator, Mini Speaker for iPhone, iPod, Computer, Laptop, Tablet (Black)

Sleeping Bag (8)

I always carry a sleeping with me – usually my lightweight ‘sleeping bag’ which covers me for most cases. If you’re going more extreme I’d advise getting a thicker tog as this is only a 2 season bag.

Lixada Envelope Outdoor Sleeping Bag Camping Travel Hiking Multifuntion Ultra-light

Travel Towel (9)

I use a ‘trespass’ mini travel towel which always comes in pretty handy!

Trespass UUACMIE30019_BBTEACH Wringin Microfibre Towel – Blue, 70 X 135 cm

First Aid Kit (10)

Of course you should never travel anywhere without one of these! I have never had to use mine for me ‘touch wood’ but it always seems to come into use for others when I’m travelling (especially plasters/bandaids when I’ve been volunteering with kids – plasters/bandaids are like gold dust once the kids find them!)

90 Piece Premium First Aid Kit Bag – Includes Eyewash, 2 x Cold (Ice) Packs and Emergency Blanket for Home, Office, Car, Caravan, Workplace, Travel

Universal Travel Plug (11)

Without a doubt, if you have all this fancy technology and gizmos when you travel you’ll need a universal adapter plug so you’re prepared for any country you visit. So much easier than carrying different plug adapters for different countries.

Travel Adaptor -Tevina Travel Charger Two USB Ports Universal World Wide All-in-one Wall Charger Adapter Plug Built-in 3.2 A For Home (Black)

 

My Most Used Travel Apps (12)

Dualingo – “Learn Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Irish, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, and English. Totally fun. Totally free.”

Currency Converter – “Convert every world currency with the XE Currency App – Free Edition. It offers live proprietary currency rates, charts, and even stores the last updated rates, so it works when the Internet doesn’t.”

World Clock – “Always get “The right Time in the right Place”

Google Maps – “Google Maps makes navigating your world faster and easier. Find the best places in town and the information that you need to get there.”

Uber – “Uber is a ridesharing app for fast, reliable rides in minutes – day or night.”

Skyscanner – “Skyscanner all-in-one travel app. Flights, hotels and car hire, all in one place.”

Air BnB – “Unforgettable trips start with Airbnb. Find adventures in faraway places or your hometown, and access unique homes, experiences, and places around the world.”

*Disclaimer – This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click a link and go through to purchasing something from the link, I’ll earn some commission from that sale – which helps me to continue to write helpful posts like this one. Thank you for reading*

My Most Used Travel Gear EssentialsIf you’d like to keep up with my adventures and get social;

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What’s Next? | gunns_travels Update!

What’s Next? | gunns_travels Update!

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UPDATE: 

What’s that I hear you ask? Where to next!? Well, for those of you on board or following my journey already and anyone ready to join me in 2017 here is an update; I am currently getting prepared for my travel/move to SHANGHAI, CHINA! That’s right I am heading to China next and the bustling city of Shanghai. I completed my TEFL qualification last year, which if you are thinking about doing the same, read how I got mine here.

I knew that when I finished the first half of my travel plans to Nepal, India and Ghana I would want to continue but I had to find a way of making some money; savings only get you so far! So I went about getting things ready to be able to look for teaching jobs in other countries. This is the perfect solution for me right now as I get to continue to travel, earn money, try a new career and move to one of the most popular cities in the world!

I’m so excited to get there to explore, work a new job and try a different lifestyle! I’ve been wanting to go to China for years and have my camera and phrasebook ready to pack.

 

 

One of the questions I always get asked is: “How do you afford all this travel?”

The answer is simple really, I make it a priority. I don’t have endless savings and I’m not being funded by anyone other than myself. The thing is, if you’re passionate about something and you make it the focus, the priority then the rest is pretty simple. I work, I save and I don’t spend unnecessarily.

If someone asked me to choose between the newest phone or saving the money for a plane ticket – it’s a no brainer. And this can be applied to everything, not just travel. I get annoyed with people who complain that they can’t afford to do the thing they really would love to do or buy the thing they want; whilst they sip their £3 coffee and stare at their £40 a month phone…you can travel, or save for that dream home, car or whatever if you change your mindset first.

 

Another is: “How do you travel on your own?”

I get it, it is a scary thought, just going off somewhere on your own relying on no-one else but yourself. But it has been one of the best things I could have ever done for that exact reason. I overcame that fear and learnt to be independent, outgoing and confident – yeah that’s right you can ‘learn’ these skills by travelling on your own.

The best advice I could give for this is to just get out and do it. Make sure you research and have certain things planned beforehand if it is your first time travelling solo (flights, insurance, accommodation for the first few nights, general plan and contacts) but use the fear as fuel. If I’m completely honest and cliche, ‘you’ll never be alone anyway’ – because there are thousands of people you’ll meet out there doing the exact same thing, so get out and join them! You will go away on your own but end up having friends and family all over the world.

 

Another: “Don’t you get scared?”

And the answer is of course yes! I get scared about some of the places but it is part of the reason I love going. It makes you feel like you are actually living and alive – not a robot. I find the media and rumours all help to fuel the fear but really it’s never as bad as what you hear. There are obviously places to watch and be careful of but thats no reason to write them off completely. I always make sure I research before I go: from reading articles, to watching videos and collecting necessary contact details but never get put off from going somewhere.

 

Last one: “What’s your favourite place so far?”

This one is so difficult to answer because everywhere has been so different from the next. I never know what to say as some places have been more adventurous but others have been chilled and some have given me a home from home – what am I scoring it on if I am to name my favourite…

I guess a few notable (favourite) experiences so far have been:

  • Safari in Amboseli and seeing elephants in the wild
  • Riding through the desert for 3 days with nothing but 1 tour guide, 2 camels and endless starry skies (Shoutout to my camel Mr.Mogue)
  • Getting covered in colourful powders during Holi festival in India
  • Gaining 2 new families in Nepal and Ghana after living in host homes whilst volunteering
  • Skydiving over the great barrier reef in Oz
  • Selfies at the Taj Mahal!
  • Being a Team Leader for 8 months in Ghana on development projects

I could go on forever, I feel so fortunate to have had these experiences and hope to continue to add more & more. Experiences over possessions 100%!

I’ll be writing up about the preliminary process I had to go through – from my TEFL qualification, looking for jobs, interviews and securing a visa for China; along with all the requirements for the move very soon.

So right now I am getting paperwork ready, selling lots of my possessions and uploading content from my previous travels – there is still a lot of content to look forward to coming up, look out for it here!

If you would like to read about my travels so far you can of course find all posts here on the blog but here are a few quick links to some of the adventures I’ve had so far – come along with me and get inspired to go travel yourself 🙂

India @travelling_jackg updateIndia @travelling_jackg update

Ghana @travelling_jackg update

 

Continue to stay up to date on the journey by following my social links below,

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India Highlights | GoPro Hero 3+

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Loving my new GoPro Hero 3+ for capturing EPIC moments like these from India! Still learning how to use and edit it better, so hopefully the travel videos keep getting better and better!

All about creating great memories, awesome content and inspiring wanderlust!

I loved travelling the traditional India and northern parts. I’m hoping to head back there to explore the south of India and also all the pockets I missed. I only had just over a month to explore, so I think I did well with cramming all this into it! Next time I’d love to go back for a good few months. If you’ve been or have any recommendations please get in contact! And if you live there, feel free to message me, always better seeing a country with the locals!

Check out my Nepal highlights reel shot on my GoPro Hero 3+ and make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel for more travel related content.

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Nepal Highlights | GoPro Hero 3+

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Nepal GoPro

My return to one of my favourite countries with some of my favourite people; the beautiful, Nepal!

I’d never used a GoPro before so I appreciate I need to work on some of my shooting skills but I’m pretty pleased with my first try! I edited it in the Gopro Studio and iMovie. Overall I was really impressed with how the GoPro  captures the footage and the quality.

I used a Gopro pole and housing case which were great but came with some downsides. The housing compromised the sound quality which is Ok if you just want to capture footage. If you’re looking to use it to capture sounds I’d recommend buying an external sound recorder. The pole was great in capturing different perspectives. i would of liked to make the camera more steady though so if you have any recommendations of what to use then drop me a comment below!

I’m currently posting more images from my trip, follow the adventure on my social links!

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Indian Adventure Begins | Delhi Madness & Taj Mahal!

Indian Adventure Begins | Delhi Madness & Taj Mahal!

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Delhi

Delhi hit me like a smack in the face – metaphorically speaking of course. A cultural explosion of sights, smells, buildings and people – so many people. I landed in Delhi and made my way to my hostel that I had booked, which was the only part of my entire trip I had pre-planned. My trip was going to be more of a ‘winging it‘ kind of travel – which in my opinion is the best way to explore! Here’s what I got up to in Delhi and some things to watch out for if your planning a trip there:

Delhi Metro

Delhi has a metro system that runs all over the city from new to old Delhi. You can buy a railcard that you top up with money as and when you need to (much like oyster cards in London do). I paid 100 rupees (£1/$2) and I got 50 rupees credit out of that, they had a deal where if you topped up 50 you got another 50, so I had plenty to travel around Delhi for the day. Once I had this I found it no problem navigating my way around the city. But New Delhi is a whole different ball game to Old Delhi, brace yourself. I intended to go from where I was staying in New Delhi right into the heart of Old to visit some of the sights and the famous Chandi Chowk shopping bazaar. I had to change half way and it was at this point that things started to get a little bit more…intense.

metrocarddelhi

My Top Tips for the metro:

  1. Take as little with you as possible – don’t carry bags if you can help it and just keep personal items to a minimum, it’s not worth it. Luckily I had no bad experiences but I met so many travellers that had been pick pocketed or had just misplaced there bag somewhere along the way. One guy even had his passport stolen because he was carrying it in a bag with him.
  2. Know where you are going – locate a map or ask someone before you even venture on a train.
  3. Make sure your cards topped up enough – just saves hassle or confusion when your fighting to get out of the barriers each side.
  4. When the metro train doors open…disreguard any manners you may have and don’t be offended. There’s no being courteous or polite here, your only mission is to make sure you get on. It will be squashed. It will be uncomfortable. I was half pushed underneath a train because I was too slow and busy letting someone else on; sheer panic enveloped me as I heard the beeping for the doors to close!
  5. Definitely purchase a metro card (oyster like card) its way easier and saves you a lot of grief than keep having to buy individual tickets.

Now you’ve mastered the metro you can start getting stuck in with some sightseeing!

I visited the famous Chandi Chowk shopping bazaar and hired a tuk tuk driver to show me around some of the famous spots. He took me to some spice, tea and fabric markets. His name was Shrikan and he navigated the chaotic ‘roads’ and alleyways of Delhi to give me the best views of the old bazaars.

I also explored The Red Fort, Quitab Minar, Akshardham and Delhi Gate.

As I only had a few days in Delhi I tried to squeeze in as much as possible but there is so much more to see and do. I barely scratched the surface! For me a few days in Delhi was enough, I wanted to head somewhere with a little more space haha You can’t visit India though without experiencing the capital! A must for the bucket list and I’m glad I experienced the beautiful chaos.

Agra

Another absolute must is visiting the city of Agra not too far from Delhi to see the incredible iconic Taj Mahal! I stood and looked at it for a good ten minutes in complete awe before I could start actually taking pictures. I spent half the day just soaking up the awesome-ness of it and reminding myself where I was. I couldn’t believe I’d made it to such a famous landmark, big tick off my travel bucket list!

*side note* there are a lot of tourists as with anything as popular as this. I’d recommend getting there super early or at the end of the day. Timing it with sunrise or sunset can also give you some incredible photos! I went early in the morning as soon as it opened and it was very peaceful it got busy pretty quick though, early bird catches the best view of the Taj!

I’m currently posting more images from my trip before I head to Ghana at the end of the month, follow the adventure on my social links!

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Swayumbhunath Temple Nepal

Swayumbhunath Temple Nepal

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Swayumbhunath – ‘The Monkey Temple’

It’s clear if you follow me or have read previous blog posts that I LOVE Nepal. I also love visiting the various temples you’ll find at every corner or hilltop if you venture around the country. My favourite though, is Swayumbhunath, a Buddhist temple and Unesco World Heritage Site nicknamed ‘The Monkey Temple’ sits atop a hill in the Kathmandu valley. From the first time I visited this spectacular structure I loved it and would strongly recommend giving it a visit if you ever plan on visiting Nepal and Kathmandu. Adorned with hundreds of coloured prayer flags and mischievous little monkeys the temple offers some awesome views of the surrounding city and mountains. The temples jumble of Buddhist and Hindu iconography make Swayumbhunath one of the most fascinating religious temples to see.

The mix of local souvenir sellers, religious devotees and spiritual offerings happening all around make visiting Swayumbhunath a great place to experience. People spin the prayer wheels around at the base; within each one the equivalent of chanting the ‘om’ prayer sits inside – to create a flow of good energy as they walk clockwise around the gleaming white stupa. All the while the sound of calm, ominous chanting is played which gives being there a kind of magical feeling; if you manage to go there on a sunny day then the whole place feels like walking in a dream with the light reflecting off the whitewashed stones.

I visited the stupa in March 2016 a year after the April 2015 Earthquakes and the stupa is still standing proud with some maintenance work going on but the structure still intact; many of the smaller temples surrounding it have been reduced to rubble.

Please enjoy some photographs I shot at the temple from my last visit!

 

Prayer Flags

Turning the Wheels

EYES

Om Prayer Wheels

Wheels

Pigeons on Stupa

Renovation Work 3

Renovation Work 2

Monkey at Sway 2

Flags With A View 2

Candle Prayers

Monkey Temple

Praying Statue

Renovation Work 1

Monk Meets Monkey

1000+ Hundred Flags

Buddha in Stupa

Monkey See

Prayer Wheels

Gliding

Staue at the Stupa

Sway

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What To Pack For Nepal

What To Pack For Nepal

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Ok, so you’ve made the brilliant decision to travel to Nepal! Nice one, you won’t be disappointed by the natural beauty and kindness you’re about to experience. But you want to be prepared right? So here’s a guide on essentials items I’d consider packing before you head off on your trip! (This is as much of a guide to help you as it is to help me, as I’m currently also packing to head to Nepal, see you there!)

First off we’re gonna start with the sensible essentials to make sure your fully prepared for any instances you may experience whilst out there.

 

 Medical stuff

De-hydration tablets – these are vital as you’ll probably have access to a lot less water when your travelling around Nepal. You can buy bottled water and always make sure the top is sealed but its better to be prepared in case you do start experiencing dehydration symptoms.

Water Purification tablets – always handy to have in case you have no choice but to drink water from a river or rainfall whilst travelling or trekking. These make the water safer to drink if you leave them in a sealed bottle for an hour or so depending on tablet requirements.

First aid kit – never travel without a small one.

Wet wipes – again an essential travel item!

Depending on season – suncream – I made the mistake of not taking suncream out in the summer months and I got burnt on my face so badly! haha make sure you take a little if your sensitive to the sunlight like me.

Diarrhoea tablets – I went through packets of these. You do not want to experience this whilst trekking. It’s not a great situation. Nepali much like the infamous delhi belly can occur due to the change up in dietary lifestyle you may experience when travelling through Nepal. I’d recommend avoiding all ‘western’ options and just eat nepali cuisine as the western equivalents often made me sick.

Hand Sanitiser

Small basic medical needle set – just in case you end up in a medical situation where you need one of these. The medical facilities are obviously not as advanced and I find its always good to be able to use your own set of clean needles for your own peace of mind.

 

 Clothing

All clothing items are pretty cheap to buy in country and most trekking stuff you can buy there too. This can save money, time space and allow you to have less luggage to carry on the way there.

Summer

A few T-shirts – also pretty cheap to buy in country if you want to travel a little lighter

Shorts

Linen trousers

Sunglasses

Slip on shoes – good to pack as they are easy to take on and off if entering houses/buildings that do not allow you wear shoes inside

Winter

Wolly Hat

Thermals

Gloves

Socks

Trekking

Hiking boots

Thick socks

Waterproof jacket

Thermal jacket

Neck warmer

 

 Useful

Torch – Nepal experiences frequent loss of power so its always good to have one of these at hand

Batteries – again batteries can be more reliable than the electricity.

Swiss army knife or multitool

Re-fillable bottle – I have a small bottle that folds down in an accordion style which is great as I can pack it away small and use it with the water purification tablets if I need to.

Ear plugs

Head torch

Multiple passport photos – you’ll need these if your trekking to get passes

Travel card and some US dollars – US Dollars are accepted in most places in Nepal, you can use other currencies like GBP or AUS but most prefer dollars or NPR (Nepali Rupees) I found it was handy to have some dollars.

Camera – of course!

Power charger/external pack – good to charge phones/cameras if you are not able to access electricity due to power cut

Bag waterproof cover – monsoon season

Basic mobile phone unlocked – so you can purchase a sim whilst out there and use this whilst in country. To get a Nepali sim card you must have passport photos and copies of your passport to purchase one ( I found there was more security when I got a sim card out than there was walking through the airport, they even took my fingerprint!

 

Right, bags packed so head to the airport and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime! Nepal is beautiful and you’ll be fully prepared for any circumstance you come across now so enjoy!

Be sure to follow my adventures on my social media links and keep an eye out for some youtube content coming this way from my upcoming trip to Nepal.

Happy travels and #positivevibes

Arriving in Nepal | Travel Talk

Arriving in Nepal | Travel Talk

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flying into kathmandu valley #mountains #nepal #travels

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

The kathmandu valley, Birds eye views are the best #nepal #landscape #instadaily A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

I finally arrived in the Tribuhuvan airport in Kathmandu Nepal, after a gruelling 32 hours travel from Sydney. The flight into Nepal was great getting to see glimpses of the incredible mountain range and gliding through the clouds to the airport.

Stepping outside the airport was a flurry of shouting, smells and blinding light. It’s very overwhelming at first especially if your travelling solo, I had no idea where to go or what I was doing. But once I found my airport pickup – who was holding a makeshift sign with my name questionably spelled on it – we made our way to Kathmandu guest peace house. They definitely call it a ‘culture shock’ for a reason; it couldn’t be more different to England but I was looking forward to embracing it and learning alot from this experience. Nepals road system is questionable but I held on and took in the busy sights all around. Im not going to lie you have to be prepared for it, I was so overwhelmed and slightly terrified as I got into a small white van with two foreigners who spoke little english. I spent most of the journey planning my escape route! Luckily I had gone through an organisation IVHQ so I had some comfort but it was still pretty scary.

After settling into my new guest house and having my first taste of breakfast – which was very sweet ‘bread’ and black coffee. Needless to say Nepal doesn’t have access to many of the foods I’d usually be having but even this was a luxury as I knew my host family wouldn’t be serving this once I was on placement. So for now I made the most of it and looked forward to my few days of orientation.

had the blackest coffee for breakfast. #coffee #buzz #breakfast

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

My 3 day orientation was so much fun and a great way to start the experience. We had one of the smallest groups in a while at 15 people including 2 canadians, 2 french, 2 italians, 2 aussies, 1 Netherlands, 2 chinese, 2 portugese, 1 hawaiin and me representing the brits. Everyone was so cool and we bonded really well as a group so much that most of us have booked to do the chitwan safari in 2 weeks time which will be great to catch up! The orientation consisted of visiting the beautiful monkey temple Swayumbhunath. The temple is, as the name suggests, populated by monkeys who have no fear about going right up to you and are incredibly curious; also fairly intimidating when you start to get surrounded by them. We made our way up steps towards the main stupa taken in the awesome views of the Kathmandu valley surrounded by vast mountain ranges. Thousands and thousands of colourful prayer flags covered the entirety of the temple grounds. We got to take a look into an art gallery to find out about how some of the masters paint works such as the mandela and buddhas eyes. It was really interesting to find out about the different levels of mastery in the artwork and how the masters use gold within parts of their paintings. As we carried on our journey we made it to the top of the stupa; when visiting a stupa, you must walk around it clockwise. You can also spin the prayer wheels that line the base of it to create good karma or energy as you go round.

Just incredible views! #nepal #mountains #travels A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

so many cool statues on the climb up #buddha #peace #temple #travelling

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

Anything You Like?

Swayambhunath #monkey #temple #peace #travels A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

Monkey TempleMonkey See

Prayer WheelsThe orientation provided another trip to the Buddhist haven of the Boudhanath Stupa where we got to witness yet another marvel of building and detailed craft of Nepal. This particular stupa had 108 small images of the Dhyani Buddha Amitabha around it.

Boudhanath #temple #nepal #travels A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

Stupa GuardsDragonpot

We also got to see the famous Durbar Square and do a bit of shopping in Thamel. If you’ve been to Kathmandu you’ll know its a dusty combination of old meets new with buildings on top of buildings stacked up and crammed in. But it is a hive of life and interest, as there is always something happening and you can walk into a shop and find pockets of peacefulness to sip your coffee that you wouldn’t have expected find compared to the high speed noises high streets just outside. It a bizarre yet wonderful mix of bustle and calm. There are tonnes of shops, souvenirs and cafes to explore that you’ll have a hard time not picking up  at least something! A lot of the shops in Thamel sell western snacks – like oreos – which after placement will be a welcome relief, make sure you stock up on a few packs to take with you! You can also find ATMs scattered around most with armed guards around them. I’d take out as much as you need but be sensible, don’t carry too much on you – most of the placements around Nepal will also have places you can draw some out. Also be clever about it as some of the machines charge a fee to draw out. Once I got to my placement I pretty much drew out most of my money as I knew after meeting my  host family that I could keep it safe in their home and it was easier as I was based there for the duration as well as it being a quiet village. I only took out small amounts whilst I was in Kathmandu.

Buddha | Peace

notes with elephants and rhinos on! Now thats my kind of money #nepali #currency #traveller #elephant A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

One last thing about Thamel – if you want a great place to have a drink or two in the evening or day – head to Phat Kath and grab yourself an Everest beer! We loved it and its a great starting point to onto some of the other bars along the hight street. Don’t get lost in the maze of guest houses and shops that start to meld into one giant jingo game after a few days of living there!

had drinks at the coolest little treehouse style bar #drinks #phatkath #nepal #travelling

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

Our orientation had to come to an end after a great few days learning about the culture, meeting new friends and exploring the many temples of Kathmandu. It was sad to leave them all to go to placements but exciting to see were you will be based for the next few months!

I then got placed in Bhaktapur not too far from kathmandu but much more rural which was a welcome change. The volunteers, host Family and staff there were all friendly and welcoming. The kids were awesome. Too cute. I started getting called ‘Jack Uncle’ by them all. The next few months were going to be on some of the best I had ever experienced!

So I’m about a week into ‘living’ in Nepal now. I love it. The initial shock and anxiety has been replaced with excitement and awe at this beautiful country. Filled with breathtaking scenery, a wealth of culture and so many friendly faces!

Stay tuned for my next instalment to my adventures in Nepal!

If you’d like to see more of my travel photos from Nepal or my other photography then check my social links!

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What do you travel for? | I travel for…

What do you travel for? | I travel for…

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THE VIEWS. The awe-inspiring, jaw dropping, serene views you can witness when traversing the four corners of the globe. Wether it’s a paradise beach straight out of a getaway magazine or an incredible cliff face overlooking a forest backdrop, you can’t help but travel for those views. That sense of feeling that theres so much more out there. The kind of view you can’t take your eyes off of; right up until the sunsets, still transfixed as a blanket of stars covers the night sky and on till the morning sun stretches its sunbeam arms over the horizon.

I travel for those views. Some travel for the view out of a balcony window overlooking a bustling city full of life and some travel for the infinite blue skies. Where ever you travel to you go for a different view that you wouldn’t find at home, to discover and explore. But most of all, to just see more than any screen or photo can ever do justice.

My passion as an explorer compels me to keep viewing the world and discovering new places. I hope to inspire others to go out and see more passing on my infectious passion to travel. I hope these posts help to provide some sort of motivation for you to break free from everyday life, even if just for a little while. Creativity is contagious, pass it on!

Here are some that I have looked upon:

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Landscapes I

Snow Mountains

Aussie Coasts

The Village

Warm Crisp Mornings

Waterfalls

Shadows of Mountains

If you’d like to see more of my photography then check my social links!

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My Experience with IVHQ | Nepal

My Experience with IVHQ | Nepal

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I chose, after a lot of research and endless googling, to volunteer in Nepal through the company IVHQ to do childcare work within an orphanage placement. I’ll talk about my experience with the company as well as give a run down of what I went through pre-trip and whilst on placement. All views and experiences are my own.

 

What they say…

“International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) provides affordable, safe and responsible volunteer abroad programs in 30 different countries around the world. Each year, IVHQ places thousands of volunteers on our volunteer abroad programs and offers a wide range of volunteer travel opportunities in Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Madagascar, Victoria Falls, Uganda, Zambia, South Africa, Bali, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Mexico, India – Delhi, India – Dharamsala, Vietnam – Hanoi, Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam – Ha Long Bay, Cambodia, Guatemala, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Thailand, China, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia – Bogota, Colombia – Cartagena, Morocco, Peru – Cusco, Peru – Lima, Laos, Romania, Italy and Fiji.

Established in 2007, IVHQ has grown to become the world’s leading volunteer travel company, offering a variety of projects for volunteer travelers, including Teaching, Childcare, Community Development, Medical, Construction and Renovation, Turtle Conservation and Wildlife Conservation.

Whether you are traveling abroad, taking a gap year, wanting to experience a volunteer vacation, or simply wishing to provide assistance in a developing country through volunteer travel, International Volunteer HQ has the program for you.

With volunteer program fees starting from USD$180, you will not find a more affordable, high quality and trustworthy international volunteer travel company.”

 

What I say…

“IVHQ was definitely one of the more affordable companies for volunteer work I came across, especially what you got for the money and the variety of destinations you have to choose from. You really can get a lot out of the experience without the massive price tag of what other companies are offering, because after all your a choosing to volunteer so don’t want to have to pay an arm and leg to do so! There are other ways to volunteer cheaper – by going directly to in-country organisations, organising parts of the trip yourself i.e. accommodation, familiarising yourself without guides however for a first time experience in a country like Nepal I was more than happy to pay the small amount extra to get all of this included in the fee price.

IVHQ right from the start provided email correspondence to answer any queries I had, organised airport pickup, accommodation, placements and have an extremely friendly team to welcome you and check up n you throughout your placement. They also provide a weeks orienteering at the start to introduce gently into the culture and lifestyle of Nepal before sending you to your host-family placements; as well as some language lessons which come in handy!

I wouldn’t have had a clue where to start with arranging all of this so this is why IVHQ is a great company to volunteer through if your new or solo travelling. I can safely say that the team in Nepal made me feel safe, welcome and at ease before I started my placement. With this in mind I would recommend going for more than 2 weeks to really make the most of your time volunteering in Nepal. Once you take the week off for the orientation (which is essential at the start I think) you should try to have at least 2 weeks+ in your actual placement. I saw people come and go within a week or two which leaves no time to really ‘make a difference‘ or get to know the people your working with. It frustrated me that a few were just using it as a cheap way to travel – this isn’t fair on the children you are working with. If your choosing to volunteer then invest your time with the kids.

“I wouldn’t have had a clue where to start with arranging all of this so this is why IVHQ is a great company to volunteer through if your new or solo travelling”

The support from the team lasted throughout my 2 month placement with regular visits to make sure I was alright and to help with any trips I wanted to plan whilst there – they even arranged tickets and weekend trips to Chitwan National Park which I wouldn’t have known were to go for. The IVHQ team also checked in with me online via email and answered other queries I had.

I was lucky enough to be placed with a fantastic host family and the most incredible children at Bhaktapur Self-Sustaining Orphanage. I decided to stay in the same place for the duration of my stay to really get to know them. All I can say is I knew when I chose to volunteer I was going to help, what I didn’t expect was to fall in love with an entire village. Everyone from the host family, children, house mothers, villagers and locals  are like my home from home now. I’m entwined with an entire nepali village on the side of a mountain and am heading back to visit everyone in March ( keep up to date by following @travelling_jackg or my social links).

“I knew when I chose to volunteer I was going to help, what I didn’t expect was to fall in love with an entire village”

So, all in all IVHQ was a great company to volunteer through. They gave me the confidence and ease to volunteer without all the headache. I had support, help if I needed it, introduction to culture and a base of friends right from the off. Like I said you can do it cheaper but compared to the other companies out there this is one of the cheapest for what you get! You get a quality service without the ridiculous price tag and is ideal for people starting off. From doing this experience I can now say I’d be happy to just go to Nepal and organise it myself without an organisation but thats only because I had such a positive introduction thanks to IVHQ.”

Here’s a quick breakdown of what I paid volunteering through IVHQ and other additional costs:

IVHQ Program Fee – £620

Flight – £400 return (LHR – KTH) – I booked through STA travel however in hindsight use sky scanner for a better variety of deals.

Visa – £70 – Apply via the Nepal embassy – send your passport off and get it back with recored delivery. You can also get a visa on entry to Nepal I just wanted everything done before I got there.

Travel insurance – £30 via post office

Criminal background check – £50 via .gov

Vaccinations – varies depending own what you need, I had already had quite a few for a trip to Kenya previously so only needed a typhoid one which was free. I also took malaria tablets which you only need for a small part of Nepal in places like Chitwan however I never ended up taking them as it was only a two day stay. I just wanted to be prepared incase I was placed here for the whole of my stay.

Check what you need here.

Average weekly expense – £0 – £10 (Nepal isn’t very expensive at all, especially as food is including in the accommodation – although don’t expect anything fancy. Expect rice, a lot of rice)

Chitwan 2 day safari – £80 (I’ll write a more detailed post on this as well as trekking expenses)

More blog posts to come about my experiences and time in Nepal, make sure you keep up to date by following my social links!

You can expect:

  • Nepali culinary delights
  • How to bond with an entire nepali village
  • My experience with a bad stomach ache and a mountain
  • 3 new didis, no english and lots of acting out

Stay tuned!

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