Five tips to have a fab holiday @ your home town

This post is a little tongue in cheek. I was supposed to be going away for an amazing 4 month holiday in Europe. There was going to be sun. There was going to be sand. There was going to be breathtaking historical sites. It was going to be amazing. I’d been dreaming of this since I was a kid!

There are currently a lot of blogs out there with “10 steps to still feel great during covid!” including recycled tips such as “make sure you have a schedule!” “work out!” “Read a book!”. Sometimes they will have a unique tip like “try reading a genre you don’t normally” but not tooooo often.

So I thought instead of doing a “six tips I saw online and now I’ve amalgated into a list of things I don’t do but I’d recommend to others!” I’d take my salty I’m not going on holiday anymore attitude, and make a fun post about. So without further adue, here are five not that funny but it’s my type of humor tips to help you still have fun at home, after covid ruined it for you.

1. If you were supposed to be going on a summer vacay, and it’s winter in your home town. Just use your “summer” shade of foundation

And the opposite if you were coming to the Southern Hemisphere!

Seem ridiculous, I know! But how else would you get a beautiful sun-kissed glow from Croatia or Greece, while staying in your cold, wintery country? Pair with a turtle neck so no one can see how pasty you actually are. Add some sun glasses, maybe a little (or a lot) of bronzer, and voila! Summer kissed skin without leaving winter.

Alternatively, fake tan until you’re an amazing shade of orange, and freeze your booty off in whatever clothes you had pegged to take on your vacay.

2. Hire a car! Drive around like a tourist!

So heres the situation: You’ve saved a lot of money to go on your once in a life time vacay. Now it’s just sitting there in your bank, begging to be spent! Don’t save it! Use it!

Maybe hire a car! Maybe a massive 4×4? Maybe a small eco car! Perhaps buy a cheap van that’ll break down every 100km. Just something that’s not the same as your every day vehicle so you can take it on a tiki-tour and explore your town / region like a tourist. Drive super slow. Drive in the over-taking lane. Don’t indicate! Drive slowly past signs which may or may not be your destination! It doesn’t matter! The car isn’t registered in your name! This isn’t your country!… Oh wait.

(PS please drive safely)

3. Put a hammock up outside and let the howling wind rock you to sleep

Don’t worry about getting wet. You’d be getting wet at a beach somewhere in Europe, the only difference is this water is rain. Directly from the sky. You can also invest in a water proof Kobo or Kindle and read a book outside, on your hammock, in a raging storm! Ahhh peace.

This is legit the only relevant photo I could find on Unsplash. Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
4. Get totally wasted on summer cocktails, but in the comfort of your own home

Now look, I’m not a huge drinker, especially when we travel because it’s just expensive. However if I’m not going away, I now have a lot of money to spend, and what better way to spend it then on booze, and getting totally wasted in your own home? You don’t have to worry about sleezy people taking advantage of tourists, plus you learn a new skill!! My fav “summer” cocktail is defo sex on the beach but you can’t go past a Mojito!

If you paired your cocktail with togs, and went out to your hammock from tip 3, you really could have a party! Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash
5. Spend a shit ton of money on stuff you don’t need

Bonus if you can order summer things so it’ll arrive when summer does! Maybe a pool you can wack up in your backyard. Some of those blow up unicorns for said swimming pool. A cute bikini you saw online that certainty won’t fit your top half, but you’re hopeful anyway.

You could buy a cocktail set from Amazon to WOW your friends next time you see them in person! Perhaps buy you dream car (but in toy format because we actually do want to save a bit of money!). Spend $200 on “planning” note books and stickers etc to plan for that really busy schedule you’re sure to have after COVID is over.

But seriously…

Let’s look at these tips and take a serious spin on them

  1. Right now is the perfect time to play with makeup if you’re so inclined! So then you can get that perfect “no makeup / makeup” look for your photos when you’re on tour! (I don’t wear makeup on holiday, but I’ve started to at work! so I’ve been playing with suitable looks)
  2. It’s also a perfect time to travel your own country. You could make a week of it with your friends and/or family. Tourism outlets will be happy for the business and you never know what you might stumble across in your own backyard!
  3. Don’t actually set up a hammock in the rain (I mean, unless that sounds amazing to you!). You could maybe fine a quiet spot in your home (which isn’t your bed or office) to read a nice book. Or not. You do you.
  4. Get wasted. Or not. Everyone has their preferences. I started drinking a bit of gin during NZ lockdown. No reason, I just like it. Just be safe!
  5. Putting a strain on places like Amazon is probably not ideal – America is… well America is busy right now. Try local! It might be a bit more expensive, but your local economy will need it soon, if not already. Otherwise, just save what you can for that next big trip.

Right now, I am reading a lot of blogs to see places I’d love to go when this is all over. For example, I wasn’t planning on spending much time in the UK at all on our trip, except for Harry Potter world, however now I want to head to Edinburgh to follow the Harry Potter Trail, and someone really has me sold on Iceland now! (convincing Jared – who hates the cold – is another story!)

What are some silly tips you’ve thought of over this time? The more ridiculous the better!

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6 things you should do or know about before traveling to Japan

As you can tell by the latest few posts, in 2019 we traveled to Japan. First and foremost, to compete, secondly – to have an amazing holiday. Here are some tips that might help you on your trip to Japan.

You don’t need to speak fluent Japanese, or.. any at all for that matter

This sounds incredibly rude, of course you should learn all of the language you possibly can! And I really did try, at least to pick up some catch phrases that might be handy, but I have a learning disability which makes it really difficult for me to learn, so while I practiced, I really struggled to even say hello & thank you (don’t worry, I have it downpat now and used the two phrases throughout our journey).

Here’s the reality: Most food places have images on their menus, if you really have to, you can point to the food item you want (I usually follow up with “Arigatōgozaimas”). However all restaurants we went too had someone who spoke broken English, enough to take your order. I don’t think we once had a problem – and we went to a few really small – off the beaten path type restaurants. If you have allergies, I’d probably learn a few phrases!

Tourist signs are in English, and if not, Google Maps is incredibly helpful! You can also use Google Translate but we didn’t have too much luck with that (although a few laughs were had when we tried to translate a Japanese menu).

Overall, we had no issues in Japan language wise! (although if you are not like me and do not have a learning disability, I’d recommend trying to pick up a few phrases!)

Although it would have been nice to able to read things like the above, its not going to stop you from having a good time

There is a difference between a Shinkansen and the city-transport (+bonus tips..)

The Shinkansen is the train that gets you from say… Narita to Tokyo, or Tokyo to Osaka etc. IE: Region to Region (prefecture to prefecture? I’m still not 100% on the structure of Japan’s regions). The trains / metro etc are the trains / buses / boats etc that get you from your Shinjuku to Shibya (IE; within the same city).

For the Shinkansen you can buy each trip as required, or you can get a JR Pass – which is a pass you buy that lets you get around for X amount of days. You really need to check if its worth the price though – we only got one on our trip because it saved a whole $2 as we wanted to go on a boat trip over to Itsukushima. There is a calculator here on the Japan Guide website (An amazing resource, FYI!). If you do decide a ticket will be worth it – order it in the correct time frame as your confirmation ticket gets sent to your home address! And don’t lose it!

Right, then the trains that get you around the city. It’s best if you purchase a Suica (or alternative!) and use this. This card can also be used to buy food/drinks/items from major outlets like 7/11, Lawsons, I think even McDonalds might have Suica!

Is this the first stock image you search on Unsplash for Shinkansen? Yes. Does it depict exactly what I want? Yes. Credit: !

You can order your Sim and Suica (travel card) and get it sent to your home address

Jared is a smart lad. He ordered the Sim and Suica to be sent to our home (IE: In New Zealand) so we didn’t have to worry about it when we got to the airport. It means as soon as we got out of customs, we could input the simcard and find out information quick snap. Given how large the airports are (at least to me they are huge!) the last thing I wanted to do was walk around looking for the Sim Card shop + Pickup for our transit card.

Do you have money remaining on your Suica? You can get a refund!

Be ready to getup early if you want those amazing photo opportunities

We woke up pretty early to do Fushimi Inari. Partly because reviews said so, but also because our friend went there the day prior, around 11am and said it was hell.

We then went to the Golden Temple (Kinkaku-ji) and the Bamboo forest and it was horrible. Everyone was standing around taking photos and didn’t care about the people around them. Have you ever seen the bamboo forest photos? It’s honestly nothing like people somehow manage it to look like. It’s overcrowded, people stop in the middle of the path to take photos of their significant others and take so long to do it you just have to walk around them (Oh gosh, if I’m going to go into the travel blog world – am I going to have to do this? :O ).

No no, my friends. Plan ahead. Find out when the earliest train leaves. Get some breakfast from 7/11 that can be eaten quickly or eaten at the location (NOT on the train!). See the earliest time you can arrive at these locations and just do it. It’ll be worth the grumpy groggy feeling when you wake up at 6am.

Catching in image like this is amazing. Plus the (almost) silent walk.. Totally worth the 6am start!

Most of the hotel rooms are small. Just live with it!

Out of all the hotels we stayed at, only one was a reasonable size (and it was massive!). I’m not entirely sure why, it wasn’t an expensive hotel compared to some other places (bonus, the staff where amazingly helpful!). But yeah, expect tiny, “i have to put my suitcase in front of the door so I hope there is not a fire” type rooms.

And be honest, are you really having a good holiday if you’re spending all your time in your room, anyway? Go out! See the sights! The only time we were in our hotel room during the day was the one day it had rained and we were both recovering from a cold and had been full all tourist mode for like, 5 solid days, we needed a nap!

So don’t worry about size. Worry about what its close to. Public transport is a must if its not located in the area you want to be in. Close proximity to a combini (convenience store) is also ideal! Those 7/11 / Lawsons have AMAZING food for such low prices. How do they do it? Why are they not in NZ? Please, come to New Zealand, Japanese 7/11! I beg of you!.

Bonus: If you hotel has an Onsen, just do it. Honestly. Who cares. You’re never going to see those people again anyway. Mate I am an 84kg+ powerlifter (um so you know. Plus plus size!) and when I finally tried one.. i was so gutted I’d left it to the last hotel.

Japanese etiquette and being a good tourist

If you’ve watched the videos and read all the blogs you probably already know the following, but I want to confirm that while no one will say anything it’s just rude to disrespect peoples customs. You’re a visitor there!

  1. Don’t talk loudly on public transport
  2. Don’t eat on the metro systems (Shinkansen is OK I think)
  3. Do not rush onto trains / metro systems etc. Let people off before you go on
    1. Fun fact: if you go to Singapore after you’ve been to Japan, you’ll notice the stark difference!
  4. Sit down and eat. Don’t walk and eat
  5. Be respectful of those around you. Trains in Tokyo are PACKED yet no one managed to stand on my food or touch me weirdly. Be aware of your surroundings!

Misc tips that don’t need a whole paragraph

  • Carry cash – Japan is a (mostly) cash based society
  • No one really bated an eye at my tattoos however I wore leggings (one small leg tattoo). I even got into 3 gyms after showing them the tattoos on my wrists
  • You’re going to do a lot of walking. Take out those high heels + dress and replace with comfy walking shoes + shorts
  • Don’t stress! Are you lost? Bring up the location you want and ask for help – Japanese people are very friendly
  • Avoid the Starbucks and McDees – honestly they have like 1 or 2 items that are different, if that. Try something different!
  • If you see a long line for food – its probably amazing and worth the wait. I stayed in line for Ramen for 2 hours. I didn’t like Ramen on the whole of our trip (too salty!) but this Ramen… This Ramen I would wait 2 hours for again
  • Trip advisor gave some solid restaurant advice!