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When people go travelling it is so easy to boast about it nowadays. Social media has given all of us a platform to post that ‘perfect philosophical” sunset pic, that “just woken up” selfie and the “I’m having the time of my life” jumping photo. Not to mention that you can just click to check-in and tell people you are in this awesome pool bar in paradise or got a free upgrade at your swanky hotel. Boasting is easy and so many of us do it. Don’t we all crave that stamp in our passport just for the bragging rights that come with it?

When I speak to people who have just been travelling (and yes I am guilty of this myself) they never ever tell you about the bad bits, the uncomfortable nights with no sleep, the dodgy tums, the strange mozzie bites. You’ll only hear about the things you’ll be jealous of. But here it is Ladies and Gents…Travelling isn’t all sunshine and rainbows! There are 5 things that I say are big points that people just don’t tell you about.


Travel is stressful!

When you go on a 2 week cruise round the Greek Islands or an all inclusive trip to Bora Bora I expect that the main desire of this holiday is to relax. Travelling isn’t very relaxing. In fact I am a firm believer of taking a holiday within your holiday. On my first Backpacking stint I spent 2 weeks in Hawaii as my holiday in my holiday and when I went to South America I went to the Galapagos Islands! The thing is with travelling you have to organise where to stay next, ask yourself ‘can I afford that ice cream in my budget?’, how do I get back from this bar, how am I going to get from A to B… Travelling is not relaxing. However it is the most rewarding thing you can do and part of the fun of travelling is learning how to look after yourself and travel independently. You learn an excessive amount about yourself and grow massively as a person. Before I went travelling I could hardly even walk into a bar on my own now I’ve done four major backpacking trips by myself!

Take a holiday within a holiday as you travel


You will get Homesick

I often think I don’t get homesick and being on the road for 7 years on and off (yes I have been home lots of times in the 7 years) I have to finally admit that I do. You might not see it coming, it’ll creep up on you in the dead of night or on your birthday or perhaps Christmas but trust me it’s going come if it hasn’t already! Most people think that homesickness means you’re crying in bed, curled up in the foetal position on the phone to your mum. It isn’t always this. Mine gets me when I’m craving gravy on my chips, or my friends organising a night out on whats app, I even get homesick when I can’t find the mascara I like over here. I don’t go and eat a whole tub of ice cream and start Googling flights home, I just get on with it. I keep myself busy and then I don’t have a chance to think of home or what I’m missing. When you first land and you want to go home in the first few days, promise me this – You will power through! Trust me when I say it’s worth it and you’ll forget about how you felt as fast as it started when you begin to experience everything!


You have to be an adult…sort of.

This is quite a abstract point. I am potentially one of the worst “adults” out there. What I mean is you have to be mature sometimes. So don’t get that drunken tattoo of your hostel’s logo or think you can cliff dive where no locals are. Perhaps I should call this one: You have to use common sense. If you have to catch a bus that you paid $230 for which leaves at 4:30am, don’t party all night…Mum isn’t there to wake you up anymore. I first went travelling when I was 18 and this whole using your common sense thing was hard because I wanted to go crazy. I partied so hard and did all these crazy things and sometimes wonder how the hell I survived or at least returned with all my arms and legs. I’m not saying have a shit time and stay in and wrap yourself in bubble wrap, I’m saying that one of the best things about travelling is fending for yourself in the big wide world and for some it’s like the first time they have really left their mothers womb. But please be cautious and do things within reason then you won’t fuck up and end up in hospital or worse…have to go home!

Stay safe when travelling and look after yourself


Travel is exhausting

People don’t tell how exhausting travelling is! Because travel is stressful (see point 1!) it makes it tiring. Again this goes back to have a holiday within your holiday! But seriously don’t forget to sit back and stop a little while. Not only does it give you a chance to catch up and rest but also to appreciate what you are doing. It’s easy to want to cram everything in with so much to see and do and so much fun to be had but you don’t have to be doing an activity all day everyday! Sometimes you need a day chilling on the beach, reading a book in the park or pigging out in front of Netflix. Reward yourself with sleep as there is not much better in life than a damn good nights sleep. If someone does come back from traveling without taking some days off here and there they will, no joke, sleep for a week.


Travel is addictive.

Plain and simple. Honestly it’s a much healthier addiction than smoking or drugs but it still catches. You go to one place and experience a crazy amount of culture, stunning landscapes and eat incredible food and that’s it, you want to go to the next place. When I was a kid I had all these dreams of things I wanted to do and zero of them have been accomplished (mainly because my plans have changed now, for the better). Once you go and make all these amazing friends and unforgettable experiences its hard not to plan the next trip and the next and the next…before you know it you’re 45 living out of a suitcase with only $3 to your name but it’s ok because you’ve got a passport full of stamps! Thinking of going travelling? Do it! Just be prepared to never be able to settle in one place after!


So there it is, the harsh truth about travelling. It’s only 5 small points and there’s no denying the negatives are well and truly worth it for that perfect sunset moment. I would do it all again just to swim with penguins once more! I mean come on…its just all about boasting and bragging isn’t it and I have plenty to brag about!


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Welcome Jess, the newest addition to our Ultimate family!

Jess has joined the UltimateOz crew as a tour leader over the summer months! She’s friendly, always has a smile on her face and let’s face it…she’s a bit of a ledge! Say ‘Hiiiii Jess!’..

Getting into the Aussie spirit!  Working as a tour leader for UltimateOz

Jess & her Aussie adventure so far..

“I arrived in Australia in November 2014 and had an amazing first week with Ultimate Oz! I made some friends for life, and actually still live with a girl I met that week! I had already travelled around and worked in America so Australia seemed like the logical next place as I was too nervous to go travelling in a non-english speaking country alone.

Since being here, I have lived in Sydney and Melbourne. In Melbourne I lived right next to the beach near St Kilda and worked as a waitress in the evenings. Mornings off were spent at the beach sunbathing or kayaking (living the dream hey!?) and I even got free dinner when I finished work –  awesome!

I also did my regional work in NSW on a horse breeding farm near Tamworth for 3 months to gain my second year visa, which I loved!! It was so much fun and working with animals was amazing. I’d definitely recommend everyone to do some regional work in Australia. Not only is it a great experience (how many people can say they worked on an aussie farm in the outback!?) but it also allows you to apply for your second year visa to spend some more time in Oz! Check out this blog for info on second year visas and how to get yours!

Working on a horse farm is a great way to get your second year visa  The countryside in regional NSW is beautiful  Working with animals is great!  Regional NSW has some great sunsets

After doing my regional work, I did a road trip on the Great Ocean Road in a campervan (absolutely stunning beaches!) and spent 6 weeks travelling up the East Coast on the Loka bus to Cairns. I loved doing the East Coast with Loka as it made it so easy to make friends at every place I stopped. My favourite moment of the East Coast was doing my open water dive course on Magnetic Island. Maggie is absolutely beautiful and I definitely learnt a new skill that I want to turn into a hobby! You can also hire little pink and white ‘barbie like’ 4×4’s to drive around the island. There is so much to see on the East coast so if you’re planning a trip make sure you give yourself enough time!!

Cuddle a koala on the East coast of Australia!  Hire a 'barbie' car in Maggie Island!   The East coast of Oz is a great place to surf!  The Whitsunday Islands are a East coast highlight!

I came back to Sydney to work for UltimateOz, hoping to make Sydney feel like home for the newbies arriving now in the same way my group leaders did for me when I first arrived. Meeting new people every week is so awesome! So what’s next for me? Who knows?! My bucket list of places to visit has doubled since being in Australia. Thailand, Bali, Fiji and Western Australia are top of my list right now and once my second year visa is up I may travel over the pond and work my way around New Zealand! I also really want to cage dive with sharks so I’ll have to fit that in somewhere!”

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Tour Leader Sarah at BaseCampHey Guys,

I’m Sarah, one of the UltimateOz tour leaders!

For anyone looking to come out to Australia to travel and work, UltimateOz is definitely one hell of an awesome way to get you started! Every now and then, someone writes a blog post about their week with us or even makes an amazing video montage. However, have you ever wondered what’s it’s like on the other side? The tour leaders view?

Having worked as a group tour leader with UltimateOz for a while now, I get people saying to me every week “man, you have the best job!!” or “doesn’t your job get boring doing the same thing every single week?”

Well, hopefully this will give you a bit of an insight into our world. The UltimateOz tour leader world. So here it is…

A Week in the Life of an UltimateOz Tour Leader.

At the moment, while it’s Summer, we have two groups a week that start with us. There are six of us who lead the groups so three of us start with the Monday group and the other three start with the Thursday group.

I always find the first day the most nerve racking. Until we meet the groups, everyone is just a name on a list and we have no idea what anyone is like. It’s like being given a box of chocolates without the card to tell you what’s what.

After we pick the group up from Wake Up hostel, we bring everyone over to the UltimateOz HQ to go through the itineraries for the week before we head out on the City walk. By this point, we’re already starting to see who the jokers of the week are!

Party Night with UltimateOz!Usually by the welcome drinks in Side bar on the first night you can start to see some good friendships forming. Quite a few people usually find each other online before they get here using our ‘Meet your group’ service, so a lot of people will have already spoken a lot online or even met up back home before they come out here. In every group there’s always a few shy or nervous people who take a little longer to relax and get speaking to people. I totally relate to these guys!! I mean, you’re in a brand new country, on your own, and you’re thrown into a large group of people from all over the world!! I’ve been there myself, and it IS terrifying!! This is where we step in. As group leaders we want everyone to have a good time and not worry about anything. Sometimes people just need a little longer to feel at ease but normally after a few conversations people are happy to open up and get chatting to the rest of the group.

The welcome drinks can go one of two ways…

1- Everyone is tired from the long flight, or aren’t interested in partying so head to bed around 10 – 11 pm. Job done, we go home and get an early night.
2- Everyone is tired from the long flight but are way too excited about their first big night out in Sydney so go absolutely crazy and start ordering in the Jagerbombs. Job done, everyone’s having an awesome night and we party on with them till the early hours!

UltimateOz does Rockfish

Depending on which way the night went, the next morning we find that people are either fresh for the Harbour cruise, or hungover!! I really think that the Harbour cruise is one of my favourite parts of the week. As far as jobs go, taking people on a boat around Sydney harbour, cooking a barbecue off the back of the boat and taking pictures of people and jumping off the top of the boat to have a swim is one hell of an amazing job to be doing! Seeing people having an amazing time on the harbour with new friends after arriving in the country only a few days ago is such a good feeling! I do get slightly sea sick in rough water though … usually I’m fine because we’re in the harbour and it’s pretty calm until I have to go and do the washing up in the kitchen underneath the deck.. The windows down there are at sea level so any slight movement feels like the whole boat is rocking. I’ve learnt to become a master at speed dish washing!

 

So, Day 3, in this case Wednesday means only one thing…. BASECAMP!!!!

Basecamp is by far the best part of the week! For both me and the group! For them it means sandboarding, seeing an amazing view from Tomaree head national park and going on a dolphin cruise, and for me it means getting to do all these awesome things on a weekly basis!!!

UltimateOz group at BaseCampWhen we get to our accommodation at Basecamp it feels like home!! I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of being at here, cuddling Josie (the resident and adorable kangaroo) and relaxing in the Aussie bush!  I love seeing peoples faces when they first get here – it’s hard to explain but it’s just got such a great feeling about it and for most people it’s the first time they’ve seen the Aussie bush. It makes such a difference to the hustle and bustle of Sydney (however much we love it!) One of the things I love most about Basecamp is how everyone gets chatting to each other! Until this point in the week people will have made one or two friends in the group.. but at Basecamp, these friend circles expand massively!! I love seeing the quietest person in the group really come out of their shell and make a good bunch of friends.

As I mentioned, Basecamp is the most exciting, activity filled part of the week! For us, the group leaders, it can get quite tiring as it’s pretty much non stop, but the fun makes up for it 100%!  On a night, we get the groups playing games, have some food and those who want to, have a few drinks. We take everyone down to the beach and set up a fire for a beach party! You can’t beat dancing on the beach to good tunes with new mates! The sky is so clear at Basecamp and the stars are incredible! As a tour leader it’s my responsibility to look after people and make sure that everyone is safe and having a good time. It’s completely understandable that some people get a little too excited, maybe drink a little too much and say: “Let’s go for a midnight swim in the ocean!!!!” That’s why I’m there- so that people can have fun but they’re not alone in a foreign country without anyone to keep an eye on them and above all they’re safe!

These nights are usually so much fun that nobody wants to sleep.. try getting to bed at 4am and getting up the next morning at 8am to wake everyone up! I think I’ve learnt to survive on 4 hours sleep per night by now! Don’t get me wrong, it can be tiring, but as I’ve said before, the fun makes up for it! It’s not like I have to go and sit in an office for 8 hours…we’re about to go sandboarding! Who can’t get excited about that- however tired or hungover you are!?

Sandboarding at BaseCamp

The last day at Basecamp is the dolphin cruise. I’m pretty sure my friends back home in England are starting to hate me, as every single dolphin cruise I’ve been on for the past month I’ve sent them all a snapchat of the amazing weather, the beautiful views and, of course, some dolphins swimming past with the caption reading “Working hard again!” It’s on days like these where I really have to pinch myself and remind myself just how lucky I am to have such an amazing job!!

After the bus trip back to Sydney (usually spent catching up on an hours sleep) I normally chill out and relax on the couch in front of the TV and have an early night – Running on a total of 7 hours sleep in 2 days really catches up with you so it’s time to recuperate!

Saturday is spent taking the group on the Coogee to Bondi beach walk. Getting the group together and on the same bus can take a bit of extra organisation but once we arrive in Coogee ready to start the 6km walk and people have had time to grab some brekkie, everyone is in good spirits!  All we need to do is take a nice leisurely walk along the coast stopping at some amazing view points. The coast is gorgeous and visiting 5 beautiful beaches along the way makes me feel so lucky to be here! Again, sometimes I find it hard to believe that I’m actually getting paid to do something which most people look forward to doing on their days off!

Party Night with UltimateOz!In the evening, it’s the party night, the bar crawl!! It’s so much fun and even though I don’t have to go for ‘work’, I still go every week! It’s the perfect opportunity to have fun with the group. I love the end of the week when people who, at the start of the week were nervous to talk to people, have now made a great bunch of friends who they’re partying with and making plans with for the rest of their time here.

 

UltimateOz at BaseCampI always think that if everyone in my group leaves the week having had a great time, with at least one or two good friends, then I’ve done my job right. I tend to keep in touch with people I’ve met in the groups too- they’re part of the Ultimate family now and meeting new people is one of the best things about the job!

So yeah, that pretty much sums up a week in the life a group leader for UltimateOz.

“If you do a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life!”