A Cambodia Bound Wendy

Many of our volunteers want to continue to travel whilst doing their volunteering work. The best and easiest way to do this is to visit the beautiful and historical country of Cambodia. Most of our volunteers will spend the weekend in this amazing country, giving themselves just enough time to see, arguably, the most famous city, Siem Reap. A few days really doesn’t do this magical country justice though so I really do try to encourage volunteers to spend at least a week in Cambodia if they have time available at the end of their trip.

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Tonle Sap Lake which drains into the Mekong River that runs through Phnom Penh.

A lot of people don’t really know much about Cambodia and what there is to do apart from see temples so I have put together a week long travel plan that will let you experience Siem Reap to the fullest. I have also made one for the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh and then a combined week long plan that encompasses the very best of both of these places.

There are obviously several other places to go in Cambodia that are beautiful, but if you only have a short time then I think that these two locations will offer you beauty, history and also some of the most famous sights of natural and historical significance that the country has to offer.

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Ta Prohm Temple, home to the famous Banyan tree seen in the Lara Croft movie

If you are thinking of volunteering with Starfish Volunteers and you would like to have some time in Cambodia then mention this when you book your trip and our wonderful staff in Bangkok will arrange for you to have the travel week of your choice added onto the end of your trip. This not only ensures that you will be able to see the very best of what is on offer but will also take the hassle and worry out of you organising it yourself 😀

Win, Win, Situation!

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Independence Monument in the capital, Phnom Penh

Visit the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page to take a look at the different projects we have on offer, don’t forget to mention the Cambodia Extension when you book as well 😀

Once you have done that take a look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages to see what else I am up to on a day to day basis as well as what you can expect on each of our incredible projects!

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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A Culture Shocked Wendy

After spending a couple of weeks on one of our projects, no volunteer wants to go home. I know I would rather wake up with a baby elephant in my back garden, playing with children who appreciate your love more than anything or helping those who are much less fortunate than myself, than spending 9-5 in a stuffy office worrying about staplers, invoices and work politics.

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Mr Incredible, certainly has a hard time adjusting to office life

Heading home is never easy when you have been having the time of your life for the past few weeks. In the same way that volunteers have to adjust to the customs and everyday life of Thailand, they also have to re-adjust to their lives back in their home countries. This is otherwise known as;

Reverse Culture Shock

I know that I had a really hard time when I first went back to England after being in Thailand. I found Thailand to really fit my personality and the way that I think that people should treat each other. Being back in England with a culture I am not fond of, weather that is bad to say the least and people who don’t treat each other as nicely as they do here, made me genuinely sad.

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When I visit Suvarnabhumi Airport I see a lot of people not looking forward to going home

I found it difficult to merge myself back with the routines and expectations of a Western county. For some people, they manage to slip back into their lives very easily, being only enriched with their time as a volunteer but some people however, myself included, find life lacking.

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Reverse Culture Shock can manifest itself in many forms from;

– Boredom

– Reverse homesickness

– Misunderstanding of your behaviour from others

– Feelings of alienation

– Negative feelings towards Westerners and

– Restlessness and being irritable

There isn’t anything wrong with feeling like this, but it can be very hard to adjust to going to back to your previous life after having such a life changing experience. The best ways I found to deal with Reverse Culture Shock was to just leave the country as soon as possible. I understand however that this is incredibly impractical for most people though so if you aren’t able to just up sticks and move then you can always try some of the following ideas;

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Talk About Your Experience

When you first get home, everyone you know will be desperate to hear all about your experiences and the adventures you have been getting up to. Embrace this time. Use it as a means to relive some of your most incredible, hilarious and meaningful memories. Sometimes just talking about what you miss will be enough to stop you missing it for a while; just be careful not to turn into the person that is always saying ‘When I was in Thailand…..’, ‘In Thailand…’, ‘That reminds me of when I did_____ in Thailand…..’. Your stories can become boring for people when you constantly tell them 😀

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Skype to the rescue; as always

Stay In Touch

Make sure to keep in touch with all of the people you met on your journey that mean something to you. Who knows when you might be able to meet them again. Losing connections with people that were involved in an important part of your life is terrible and something I hope never to do. Talking and keeping in touch with the people you met along the way is also a great way of reliving your experiences together so that you don’t ever feel too far away from your adventure.

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Scrapbooks or Photo Albums

I know this is definitely more of a girly thing to do but I can assure you, that if you pick up lots of small trinkets during your trip, like napkins from restaurants, cards from hotels, postcards or even something simple like leaves and keep hold of them, then you will be able to create something that you can look back on in years to come and smile at. I keep everything, so I have a lot of scrapbook type things, but if you aren’t the hoarding kind like me then photos, quotes or even written notes can have the same effect. Writing down hilarious things in the moment will ensure that you don’t forget them and when you look back on it in a year, five years or even fifteen years, you will remember that ridiculous moment.

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Stimulate Your Senses

A great way to get over Reverse Culture Shock is to eat your favourite foods from your trip. For me that would be any of the food I eat at Gois everyday, she has the best Goi Djab, Salads, Pad Thai and dishes I don’t think even have a name. If I went back to England and managed to find somewhere that could make those dishes I know that I would feel like I was back in Thailand; something that would definitely make me happy!

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Be a tortoise for a bit 🙂

Take It Slow

If you really are struggling to integrate back into your Western life then take it slowly. I know it can be terribly overwhelming to visit something as normal as a Walmart or an ASDA, when you have been used to living in the Elephant Village, or spending time with children who will never even hope to have access to such a large amount of food. I found it difficult to adjust to how much the Western world wastes in comparison to Thailand, here people make a living from recycling, where as in England people don’t really care too much about what happens to their trash. Don’t try to push yourself to adjust quicker than you feel you can and let people know that you are having some trouble so that they can help you as well.

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Plan Another Trip

This doesn’t always have to be back to the same place, for some, travelling itself it the thing that they miss. By having something to work towards that you know will make you happy will provide you with a distraction and also motivation; two things that will really help you with dealing with Reverse Culture Shock.

If you are wanting to experience our life changing volunteering projects for yourself then just take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page, there you will find everything you need!

After that you can always relive your Thailand experience or get excited about your impending one by following my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages.

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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A Fact Filled Wendy

After having so many ‘How To’ posts over the last few days I decided to do something different.

Thailand is a very beautiful country, parts of it are never seen by tourists or travelers and even now secrets are still discovered in abandoned temples. There is so much of this country that people just don’t know about so I thought that I would share a few of my favourite ‘little known’ titbits about Thailand.

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1. Thailand means ‘Land of the Free’ and is the only country in South East Asia that hasn’t been colonized by a European nation

2.It is considered uncultured to place your bag on the ground. This is because both the floor and your feet are considered filthy

3. It is illegal to leave your home if you’re not wearing any pants

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4. Thailand is one of the largest producers of pineapples in the world – good thing as well, as I LOVE me some pineapple!

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5. The Miss Universe pageant has been won twice by Thai contestants; once in 1965 and once in 1988

กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตรโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยา มหาดิลกภพ นพรัตนราชธานีบูรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์

6. Bangkok is the Western name for the country’s capital. It is in fact the longest country capital name in the world… Krungthepmahanakhon Amornrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharat Ratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amornphiman Awa-tarnsatthit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit. The name itself is a story about Thailand, when translated into English can be read as;

The Capital City of Angels, The Residence of The Emerald Buddha, The Great City of Impregnable, The Gracefulness of the city is steadfast and thriving, The Grand Capital which is abundant with The Nine Noble Gems, it is a Pleasant Capital, The City is abounding with the enormous Royal Palaces that resembles as the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated God, Home of the Gods Incarnate, which was Erected by Vishnu at Indra’s Behest.

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7. Thailand has around 35,000 temples! Better get yourself some good walking shoes to see that all

8. One tenth of all animal species can be found in Thailand

That’t about 870,000 species!!!!!

9. It is forbidden to touch a Monk if you are a woman

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10. The Beach starring Leonardo di Caprio was filmed on Phi Phi Island

If you fancy discovering more of Thailand’s secrets then you should take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page for projects that will allow you to experience this amazing country yourself.

Once you have done that then take a look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages to see some of the unknown sides of Thailand that I discover everyday 😀

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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A Couple Of Wendys

I am always really touched when I see couples come to volunteer with us, to be able to share an experience as amazing as volunteering with someone that you love is an idea that makes me smile. I do know though that spending that amount of time with someone can become stressful and even cause issues. Even travelling with one or two close friends can present the same issues of always being with the same people and suddenly discovering several things they do that really irritate you; like nail biting, that’s a huge personal pet hate of mine.

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So as with the last few post I thought about things you can do to make sure that you and your partner or best friends don’t kill each other; killing isn’t good after all!

Laugh It Off

By laughing everything off, and making light of the bad situations you will drastically lower the chances of having arguments. Not only that but you will also find that things become less daunting when you make light of them.

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Me and two friends were attempting to walk home once in the middle of the night with pretty much no idea where we were or which direction we needed to go in, but as soon as we started to look at the funny side of everything it immediately made the whole experience a funny one.

Turn That Frown Upside Down

Everyone has annoying habits, whether it be nail biting (the bane of my life), knuckle cracking, picking your nose or chewing with your mouth open. The thing about habits is that they are always going to happen and you can’t do anything about it. You do tend to notice these habits in others when you spend a lot of time with them so when you discover that your boyfriend grinds his teeth or your best friend has a nasty habit of drumming their fingers on a table top, the best thing you can do is either let it go or make a joke about it.

Don’t let the small things people do irritate you to the point that it becomes unbearable. Not only will it make you upset and annoyed but chances are it will begin arguments as well. So just smile and make a joke out of it and you will soon find that it becomes funny as opposed to being annoying.

Have Your Own Time And Space

We all love our significant others and friends, that’s why we have them after all right haha But being in constant contact with them can become too much. Make time to do something on your own or with other people, whether it be going to different places for dinner, having an hour or two to read your favourite book or watching TV. This absence will give you time to enjoy your own company and not be constantly on each others toes.

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that jazz right?

Work Together

When you’re in an unfamiliar environment doing something that requires you and your partner or friends to work together can enforce the bond that you already have. This can be anything from going hiking, undertaking something one of you is scared of or even just playing a simple but always competitive game of Pictionary. Working together will not only strengthen your bond but it will also give you someone who can push you to do something that you might not otherwise do.

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Being able to see this view was all down to the support from another

I went to New York with a boyfriend at the time and I had arranged for us to climb to the top of the Statue of Liberty, something which I had always wanted to do, little did I know that I am actually rather claustrophobic. If I had been on my own or with people I didn’t know then chances are I would have struggled a lot and might not have even been able to do it. Having someone who cared about me there, giving me the encouragement I needed, being patient and pushing me was the reason that I managed to make it to the top and see the incredible view.

As much as I dislike the guy now, if it weren’t for him I might not have ever done something I had dreamed of doing for a long time.

There Is No ‘I’ In Team

Sharing responsibilities and decisions can sometimes cause big problems for couples when they travel. One person is normally a natural leader in the relationship but when you travel the decisions you make are ones that you won’t normally face and can therefore be stressful.

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Sometimes they aren’t even big decisions but small ones like who gets to go in a hammock first or who has to go and buy the bus tickets this time. But no matter the size of the decision it is best to compromise and share the responsibility.

Many times when you are traveling you don’t want to make a decision in case it is not what the other person wants. Be clear on what you both want and remember that time when your other half gave up something they wanted to do so that you could enjoy something.

Don’t leave it to one half of the relationship to always make the decisions.

Remember Your Other Half’s Interests

When you travel you will probably already have an idea of a couple of the things that you want to do when you get there. Chances are you and your other half aren’t going to want to do exactly the same things, so there will be times where you might just need to suck it up and do something your aren’t interested in in order to make your other half happy.

I can remember booking tickets to see Wicked in the Gershwin Theater on Broadway knowing that my boyfriend at the time wasn’t that bothered about going, but agreed to as he knew it was something I wanted to do. The same goes for when me and some of the staff from our other location in Thailand were all in Bangkok and the boys wanted to go and see the newest Jackie Chan movie, something that I wasn’t fussed about but I still went as they wanted to.

You never know, you might end up enjoying yourself anyway!

Be On The Look Out For The Tired Face

Couples tend to fight more when one or both people are tired. Travelling is incredibly tiring at times and this makes you grouchy and not very much fun at all. We can all think back to times where we snapped at people we care about for no reason other than our being tired.

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Tiredness and frustration will bring the worst out of anyone so always keep an eye out for the ‘tired face’. When you see that your loved one is getting tired and frustrated make a note of it and try to be as sensitive as possible. Sometimes keeping your mouth shut can also be the best thing to do.

Alternatively you could just drink LOADS of Red Bull and not be a sour puss 😀

Don’t Be ‘The Couple’

Whilst traveling as a couple it is very easy to stay together. After all you already know each other and obviously enjoy each others company enough to be in a relationship haha The only thing is, when you stick together you begin to isolate yourself from other people. The couples we have had volunteer with us have managed a good balance of being together and being part of the group.

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Not always sitting together, going to bed at the same time or constantly being attached at the hip will make others feel more comfortable and socializing will become more fun as you won’t be ‘the couple’. Being able to spend time apart and with others will provide you with some amazing and beautiful friendships that you wouldn’t have if you had just constantly stuck together.

Don’t Forget To Have Time Together

Travelling is an incredible adventure that will give you some amazing memories, it can also be a tornado of getting caught up with meeting new people and discovering the unknown. So make sure to have some ‘couple time’ as well.

Go out for dinner, walk along the beach, get massages or even just have a movie night.

Having an hour or so to just enjoy the moment with the person you care about is something you should always make time for and enjoy, plus if you come to Thailand, it is a very beautiful country where it is hard not to find a romantic spot to sit down and remember all the things you love about your other half.

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If you and your other half are planning a trip away and want to make it something that will not only be an adventure but will also make a difference to others then you need to take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page.

Once you have done that then take a look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages, I am always updating them will all the silly things I do and experience on a regular basis.

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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A Non Comfortable Wendy

When people go to a new country, whether it be on their own or with people they know, it is very easy to stay with the things you know, like food, drinks and also experiences. I find it best to force yourself out of your comfort zone, you experience so much more and gain some hilarious stories from it as well.

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One that comes to mind for me is ‘Wolf Creek’,  when me and two ex volunteers decided to walk back from a resort to their hotel, not knowing where exactly we were or were going. Thankfully nothing happened but doing something like that is way out of most peoples comfort zones, hence why it felt a little like Wolf Creek. But silly adventures like that, or perhaps less silly ones will provide you with some hilarious memories.

So how can you step out of your own comfort zone?

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Go Out On Your Own

If you always travel with people or in an organised group, then the first thing you should do is go out on your own. It might be scary at first but you very quickly learn to adapt to change and enjoy everything around you. Plus you will end up meeting other people who are travelling alone and you make a connection from that, I love meeting new people and travelling alone forces you to meet new people.

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Ask Questions Like A Child

We love to celebrate children and their wonderfully refreshing, honest behavior. When we become adults we no longer act honestly as we have so much other stuff to think about. Travel provides an endless stream of unfamiliar things that strike the chord of curiosity. Unfortunately, we adults are often too inhibited to ask questions for fear of exposing what we don’t know. Nobody wants to look stupid after all; but sometimes asking a question will open up a whole world you weren’t aware of.

Kids don’t care if they look stupid, that’s why they eat mud and bugs and junk. It is also why they are always asking, “Why? What? How?”

So next time you come across something you’d like to know more about, resist the urge to bury it or Google it on your iPhone. Instead, ask someone on the street about it. Sure, it helps if you have some foreign language skills, but you may find that either the person you’re asking speaks some of your language or that they are able to decipher some of your charades regarding whether that pepper at the market will send your mouth to the emergency room or whether it’s mild enough for a newborn.

Despite being able to cope on my own in Thailand with my own language skills I sometimes like to completely forget them and try to communicate only with crazy hand movements and facial expressions; and my face makes some very odd facial expressions!!

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Walk. Feel The Country You Are In

Walking always brings you closer to the environment; activities, people and most of all smells will draw you in, or even turn you away in some cases!! When you drive past vendors, shops or groups of people you never notice them. I know from my own experience that I will drive a route that I have done hundreds of times before and not pay attention to my surroundings; but when you take a second to do so, you can find the most beautiful things.

Distances too far to walk? Take local transport. Tuk Tuks, SongTeaws or even moped taxis are a great way to explore as well as provide you the opportunity to talk to locals and discover new neighborhoods. Working out the SongTeaw system, how to buy a tickets and having to squeeze in between people just going around their daily business is something that many travelers find to difficult and often shy away from. I implore you don’t do the same though, embrace the difficult situations, learn from them and then teach others, not only will you gain new experiences but you will help someone else to do the same as well.

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Don’t Worry About Getting Lost

Travel is all about exploring a new place right? How can you hope to explore if you never stray from a designated or previously organised path?

When I talk about getting lost, I really don’t mean when you are drunk at 3AM, but rather about exploring side streets and taking a few unexpected or wrong turns. You may find that you never get reach your once desired destination, but maybe you’ll find something even more eye-opening along the way.

Thailand is all about being relaxed and enjoying life, as long as you get to your eventual destination, shouldn’t you have had the most exciting journey to get there?

I have gotten lost so many times in Surin, when me and my friends have just gone wandering around. I even found a street which has about 100 dogs living in it. Another that has the most beautiful gardens and waterfalls and even a hidden lake that I didn’t know was even there.

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Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover

Not only is this a lesson in life, but it is also a lesson for expanding your own horizons. There are so many times where I have heard volunteers say how they don’t want to go somewhere as it doesn’t ‘look safe’. I obviously don’t recommend you to explore anywhere that is known to be unsafe but just because somewhere isn’t as clean or as beautiful as another doesn’t mean it doesn’t have it’s own hidden gems. These kinds of neighborhoods always have good food in my experience as well!

Not only will you experience a new environment but you will be able to observe the people that live in it, how they don’t care about not having the latest iPhone or watching the latest movies. They just care about being happy, being full on a night time and loving their family. I think everyone could learn from these people.

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Be Courageous In Foreign Language Environments

I must admit that I am guilty for often taking over communication for volunteers. I know that they don’t speak Thai, I can see that they are struggling in a situation where I won’t so I will more often than not, step in and help. What you as a volunteer and traveler should do, is to not let me do this hahaha

It’s easy to allow others who speak the language to do the heavy communication lifting for you. The more you place yourself in the foreign language frying pan, the more surprised you will be by your ability to deal with the heat. After all, how else are you going to learn if you don’t just get stuck in? When you do this, one of two things will happen: either you will improve your language skills or you will force yourself to become damn good at charades 😀

At the very least, you will have a story – and probably a funny one at that.

Restaurants are a great place to try out language skills, yes you might not get exactly what you thought you would but you will have tried and learnt something. Plus you never know, the meal you ended up getting might be nicer than the one you had been thinking about in the first place!!

Obviously if you are allergic, vegetarian or vegan, you do need to make sure you know the Thai or have the Thai written down so that you don’t end up in the hospital!

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Visit The Fresh Market

This is nothing to do with food. This is all about going into a situation where you have no control, people are hectic and getting on with their lives. Whilst you wander around, maybe try to buy something from a vendor, but don’t just use your fingers for numbers or let them use a calculator to show you the price, get stuck in and try to talk to them, even try haggling if you haven’t ever done it before!

None of the things I have suggested are things that are particularly crazy or challenging, they are just things that will ease you into exploring and experiencing things that you otherwise wouldn’t do. So go out there, get lost, take hundreds of pictures and experience the real country you are in, no matter how smelly, hot, humid or tiring it might become.

If you haven’t already booked your comfort zone free adventure then go over to the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page. There you will find LOTS of projects and adventures that will take you to places that you wouldn’t even know existed or would think you would ever go to.

And as always, please take a second to subscribe to Life On The Back Of An Elephant for more advice, stories and tales of my own life in Thailand, to see more, take a look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages where I regularly update with nonsense 😀

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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A Jet Lagged Wendy

So over the last few posts I have been talking about how you can save in order to travel and then how to save whilst you are traveling.; hopefully these were helpful for your planning, decision making and your wallet.

Now it is onto one of the most important and irritating issues that occurs with traveling;

Jet Lag

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What Is Jet Lag And How Do You Get It?

Jet lag is extreme tiredness and other physical effects, like memory lapses, felt by a person after a long flight across several time zones, which disrupts the bodies 24 hour rhythm. It is basically the spawn of Satan, nothing good ever comes from jet lag. It can take a few days to a few weeks for your body to adjust to a new time zone. This can make things difficult if you are bouncing from time zone to time zone in a short period of time.

You don’t even have to be flying in order to get jet lag, don’t let the name fool you 🙂

Travelling in general will have this same tiring effect, that can often have a HUGE effect on everything from your sleeping pattern to your health.

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When Is Jet Lag Worst?

For me I would say that travelling backwards in time screws me up the most. Traveling East disrupts your natural body clock as your body thinks it is much later than it actually is and it is very difficult to adjust. Traveling to the West is often not as bad but jat lag effects people in different ways for different directions.

My Secret Jet Lag Cure

I was looking up how to deal with jet lag a couple of years ago and found this article on the best ways to deal with it. A lot of the advice was preparing your body before you even left your home, not sleeping on the plane unless you were in the ‘sleeping time’ of the country you were visiting and lots of other stuff, that realistically, most of us don’t do.

Most people continue to work up until the day before they travel so adjusting your body clock, even if it is a good idea, is not something most can do.

One thing I did find worked though, which I NEVER thought it would, is something very simple, and to quote my sister ‘crunchy’. ‘Crunchy’ is a term my sister uses for natural things in life, like not letting her children play with plastic and encouraging them to get down and dirty in every situation.

So are you ready?

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Get earthed

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Confused?

Yeah, I was as well when I read it. ‘Earthing’ yourself is something that connects your body with the earth and its natural magnetic field after traveling above it for such a long time.

Once you land in your destination and you have gotten to your hotel and checked in, you need to find somewhere with grass, dirt or sand, then kick off your shoes and immerse your feet in it. Have a sit down or a lie down, just make sure you are connected with the earth for about 30 minutes. Once those 30 mins are up just go about your daily business.

How does earthing work?

There is something about ‘being at one’ with the Earth that resets your body clock and allows you to beat jet lag 🙂

I try earthing every day which I generally achieve my sitting at my friends house and relaxing in his garden. I have noticed how I am not as tired after travelling or a busy day once I have ‘earthed’

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A very simple explanation of how it works is that the Earth holds tons of negative electrons and when we connect with our bare skin, most notably with your feet, they buzz on up inside of us and overpower all the positive electrons (the bad stuff) that is wreaking havoc on our body causing inflammation, imbalance and general all round wackiness; including jet lag.

You probably still have that specualtive look on your face right?

I figured as much haha

Just try it

You never know

What do you have to loose anyway?

If you want some less ‘crunchy’ ways to get over jet lag then maybe these tips will help you 🙂

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Sleep BEFORE you leave.

Sleep deficit will make jet lag worse.

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Drink Warm Water

Drinking warm water for the duration of your flight is an Ayurvedic technique. You know that ancient Indian philosophy that created meditation and yoga; it was their idea. I feel as if they know their stuff (They also did the whole bare foot ‘earthing’ thing too).

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Nap During the Flight

Take short little naps on the flight when you feel sleepy. It will help build those reserves. If you can sleep for longer make it so that you sleep during the sleep time of your arrival time zone.

Obviously don’t deprive yourself of the sleep your body needs, but if you can time it to your new country, you will feel the difference I promise

As soon as you board your plane set your phone to the new time zone and play to that if you are unsure of the time difference 😀

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Eat Small Meals Frequently

Make sure you are filling your body with lots of healthy food and avoid junk food as much as possible when flying or traveling. The sugar will make you crash, which is never a word that sits comfortably on a plane right? Having sugar highs and crashes will screw your body clock up, try to eat slow releasing energy foods like pasta or bananas if you can, but small plane meals are good as well.

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Go For A Wander

Walking and stretching will get that blood flowing. It’s great for so many reasons, plus you might even be able to talk your way into business class!

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Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine

Caffeine is the stimulant used by millions to keep them awake or to wake them up first thing in a morning. Don’t use it whilst travelling. Nothing could be worse. It is like having nothing but sugar but it ends worse than a sugar crash. Just trust me with this one.

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Find The Sun

Being in the sun fills your body with lots of healthy and happy vitamins that basically cheer you up, so as soon as you get to your destination, try to find some sun. This might be hard if you fly to somewhere that isn’t sunny or it is night time. but as soon as you can, go out into the sun and soak up the goodness

These are the things that I have found most useful from my own travels, if you have any tips or insider ideas then please feel free to leave a comment below. I am always on the look out for ways to not feel crap after travelling 😀

To see what you can do when you hit your destination, take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page for some amazing volunteering opportunities that will change your life 😀

And as always take a look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages, to see all the silly junk I get up to.

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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How Would Wendy Save?

Many have this preconceived notion that travel is expensive and something only the rich can afford to do. I can assure you that that isn’t true.

Anyone can travel

Be on the ball, frugal and keep a track of your finances and you will be perfectly fine to last a week, a month or even a year travelling.

I know how easy it is to start spending and spending when things are crazy cheap, 100B here, 50B there is nothing in one transaction but when you start doing it several times a day it will add up and you will suddenly be left with very little or no money.

I have developed some tips over the last 9 months about how to save money whilst you are travelling, so here they are! These are for travelling in general but they do apply very much to travelling in Asia and volunteering with us 😀

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Travel Outside of North America and Europe

Travelling in North America or Europe is certainly expensive. Developed countries have a much higher cost of living and finding budget or value accommodation and activities is tricky and stressful. Travelling in Asia or Central America will be much cheaper and much more exotic than ‘Western’ countries.

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Travel With A Partner

I personally prefer to travel on my own, I think it makes situations more interesting and forces you to get involved with more people. But it has to be said that travelling with a partner can help you save money. Meals, food, drinks and long haul transportation will still cost the same;  accommodation and local transportation (such as taxis and tuk-tuks) can be split between however many of you there are.

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Slow Down

I know how exciting travelling is, seeing all the new places, experiencing things you wouldn’t be able to otherwise but to properly appreciate everything you see you need to slow down. Trying to cram in too much will mean you only see a very small, surface to the place you are visiting. So stop, slow down, not only will you experience local culture in a more enriching manner, but more importantly, you’ll save money by not having to buy transportation all the time.

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Eat Locally

Forget eating Western food, and at fancy restaurants. Every time I travel to a new place I always keep an eye out for the street restaurants that are chock full of locals. It wouldn’t be busy if it wasn’t tasty and decently priced right? Eating locally for 30B a meal will save you SO much money and provide you will a true country experience as well as super tasty food.

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Hostels

When people read the word hostel they often think of a really cheap and nasty place with more rodent and bug residents than human. As much as this may have been true years and years ago, it isn’t now a days. I ALWAYS stay in hostels, they are cheaper than a hotel, have all of the same key features like WiFi, AC, laundry services etc but they are normally run by locals or people living there who understand the concept of travelling and will go out of their way to help you. Hostelworld.com is my go to site to search for places to stay and you will always find cheap and cheerful places on there as well as the expensive hotels that occasionally I do crave as well 😀

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Stay More Than One Night

Best deals will be found by staying more than one night. Even booking or renting an apartment or house for a month or so can be SO much cheaper than a hotel or even a hostel, plus you don’t have to worry about being bothersome to other hotel guests with all your crazy parties 😀

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Call the Hotel Directly

A last minute phone call directly to a hotel, or hostel, asking about cheap rooms can prove fruitful. They don’t like having empty rooms so will discount any that they have left over. It might not work but you never know 😀

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Coupon Codes

This might sound really silly but there are lots of events, hotels, flights and activities that can be made cheaper by the use of coupon codes. They might be in the language of the country you are visiting but a quick search on Google will normally find you a list or site which has all the current working codes on them. I have used coupons to get discounted entry to cinemas, concerts and even free food, so definitely give it a try!

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Traveling Overland

I know we would all love to live a jet set lifestyle of first class flights, 5 star hotels and Michelin star restaurants but 99% of us don’t, so finding other, cheaper, ways to travel is pretty important when trying to cut costs whilst travelling.

Travelling overland, by train, bus, minivan, car or moped is MUCH, MUCH cheaper and often more of an experience than travelling by plane. I recently got back from a visa run in Phnom Penh and to travel back up to Siem Reap I used a local minivan service with a girl I met, and we got to watch a huge and amazing thunderstorm across the Tonle Sap Lake and Mekong River; something we wouldn’t have seen if we had been on a plane.

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Discount Airlines

If you do have to use an airline company whilst you travel, you should definitely look to book a flight with a discount airline, such as Air Asia; not only will you save time travelling but you now may save money as well! What’s not to like about that?

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Be Flexible with Your Flight Dates and Times

When you’re booking flights, try to as flexible as possible. Flying mid week will always be much cheaper than a weekend. Also look to fly at undesirable times, nobody really want’s to fly at 2am but if it is cheaper then I will take it.

A few booking engines you can use for checking out flights include:

Kayak – Compares hundreds of sites at once.
Vayama – specialises in cheap international flights.
Skyscanner – Provides instant comparison on flight prices for over 670,000 routes.
Air Treks – Around the world flight ticket experts.
Airfarewatchdog – Keeps track of deals and alerts you of price drops.
Air Asia – Great for short flights within Asia, but to read why we will never fly long-haul as a family with them again click here.

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Join a Frequent Flyer Program

Earn points towards cheaper fares, upgrades, and free companion tickets. It may take a while to accumulate points, but they CAN pay off big time. I recently had a volunteer who got his flight from Guatemala to Thailand purely from his points 😀

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Follow on Social Media

Go and “like” your favorite travel sites on Facebook and “follow” them on twitter, even see if they have an Instagram account. More and more companies are releasing deals for flights, accommodation and food on their social media sites so keep an eye on those sites 😀

Use Credit Card Reward Points

Check the program and benefits for your particular credit or debit card, you might be able to use your points for accommodation costs and frequent flyer points. It is a very easy way to cut the prices of accommodation and flights whilst you are travelling.

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Sleep While Traveling

When travelling by plane, train, or bus, try and time it so you are traveling at night. That way, you don’t have to pay for a night’s accommodation. I do this ALL the time and it really does make a huge different in the long run.

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Use Free Days

Many touristy places around the world will have ‘Free Days’ or ‘Discount Days’. Always have a look around on the internet or local papers and magazines for information about Free or Discount days.

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Talk to the Locals

I love getting insider tips from locals, whether it be about a place to stay, a cheap bar or even a good restaurant. Locals know what is good and where to go. A good ice-breaker is to ask for directions or advice like “Where’s a good restaurant?”. I have done this in my town and was then taken on the back of a guys moped to a truly wonderful restaurant where we sat for hours eating and drinking 😀

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Travel Like the Locals

Use public transport where possible. You get great knowledge and insight by hanging with the locals, it costs you less, and is a more authentic travelling experience. Tuk Tuks are inexpensive here, walking is free and it is so much fun getting lost in the place you are travelling!

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Haggle

Haggling is expected in most places in Thailand, obviously not 7-11 or a department store, but market vendors will normally bargain with you. Just remember that 100B you are trying to haggle over is nothing to you but can be a days food and water for a Thai, so be respectful when you haggle.

One thing to remember though!

You are travelling, and you came travelling in order to see and experience things you otherwise wouldn’t do so don’t limit yourself financially just so you can stay in a country for longer.

Go splurge on a famous restaurant, see a big concert, attend a mega sporting event, go on a safari, jump out of a plane, do something incredible. Even if you have to go under budget for a few days or a week to compensate for your splurge. It’s worth it.

Plus if you are constantly checking your funds and refusing invitations you will become so cranky about money and nobody wants that when they travel!!

Have fun, enjoy your experiences, save money where you can and then blow it on something even more amazing!!

Take a second to look at the  Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page, volunteering is another great way to not only save money but to experience a new culture and make a difference in peoples lives.

After you have done that then take a look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages to see all the fun and normally very cheap adventures I get up to 😀

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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