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People Are Good

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time. I remember thinking I should write it after the Paris attacks, and then again after the Ankara and Istanbul attacks. I thought about it after Tunisia and Kenya and Yemen and Cote d’Ivoire and Indonesia and Mali and Somalia and Lebanon and California and so many other places, not to mention what’s happening in Syria, Afghanistan, and other war zones. I meant to write it after certain politicians in various countries continued (continue) to incite hatred and racism. And then, yesterday, after the horrible events in Brussels, I felt like I couldn’t hold it in anymore.

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A Quick Thank You (and a small giveaway)

Yesterday was one of those jam-packed days in London that had me running all over East London, and it culminated in a really fun and random night of pub-hopping with amazing friends. I stayed in bed for a very long time, too comfortable and warm to get up despite the sun streaming in my windows, a welcome sight after some gloomy London weather.

When I finally got up, I made a coffee and sat on the couch. I live alone, and I relish these long and lazy mornings, especially on days when there are no pressing deadlines. I didn’t have plans until the afternoon, so I took the time to call my mum, read a few chapters of my current book, and then go online. I saw on Facebook that my blog’s page reached over 6,000 followers overnight, and part of me just can’t believe all the support and kindness that I’ve received through This Battered Suitcase.

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14 Amazing Women (who also happen to be travel bloggers)

When I was growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, a mid-sized city smack-dab in the middle of the Canadian prairies, I used to lose myself in books – they were a way to take adventures. Later, in my teenage years, I became completely obsessed with the idea of travelling. I studied maps, I read National Geographic magazines, I watched as many travel documentaries as I could. And while I come from a family of travellers – my parents lived in a van in Europe in the 70s, and my sister went backpacking with friends around Australia and Asia just out of high school – most of the people I was seeing on TV or in magazines were men. I hadn’t yet discovered women like Freya Stark or Dervla Murphy, and blogs weren’t even a thing. The travellers I saw were weather-beaten and bearded, their names Pete and David and Jack. One of the first real backpackers I met, the one who helped actualise my wanderlust, was also male.

So, without further ado, here are fourteen amazing female travel bloggers – they are travellers, they are businesswomen, they are photographers, they are writers, they are innovators, and, to me, they are inspirational. They also happen to be my friends.

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My Most Hated Travel Quote

I once met a girl named Courtney while I was travelling through Nicaragua. She was tall and rail thin, her body covered in tattoos. From Seattle originally, we met on a volcano-boarding tour just outside of Léon, a small colonial city where all the buildings were painted dark pinks and greens and blues. We’d spent the day climbing Cerro Negro Volcano and then riding on sleds down the side of it, hurtling ourselves down the soft black ash.

“I just got this one before I left for Central America… look.” She instructed me to pull down the back of her t-shirt, revealing sprawling script across her shoulders. I recognised the words; it was a quote by Saint Augustine. I had heard the quote a few times before, seen it on a mug or read it on a blog. This was before it became one of the most popular travel quotes splashed across the internet, found on thousands of Pinterest boards, the text always written over the image of a pristine beach or a young woman standing on a mountaintop, her blonde hair blowing in the wind.

The thing is… I hate this quote.

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The Little Town of Lovere

One of the reasons I love travelling so much is because of towns like Lovere. Before visiting Bergamo, I didn’t even know it existed; to my knowledge, I had never read about it or seen photos of it. And yet, when I arrived on that rainy day, it immediately spoke to me: the green and blue shutters on the houses, the cool air coming down from the mountains across the lake, the small coffeeshops in the centre of town serving afternoon espresso. It was the kind of place that made you want to stay longer, made you want to explore its streets through every twist and turn. It was the epitome of why I’ve grown to love Italy so much in the first place.

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How Much Does it Really Cost to Visit Bhutan?

When I first started talking about visiting Bhutan, and later when I began posting photos and stories from my trip there, a few of the comments I received were along the lines of, “I wish I could go there… if I had more money” or “Wow – you must be rich.” Firstly, I can assure you I am not rich, but I’m not broke either; I do have some savings and I definitely prioritise travel in my yearly budgeting plans. In my mind, my finances align with an average 30-something who works full-time (and who doesn’t have any kids or dependents to support). And while Bhutan is definitely not a budget destination, I do believe that it is affordable on a mid-range travel budget. So how much does it really cost to visit Bhutan?

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On Being Dumped, Or, Why I’m Glad That Guy Dumped Me

While this is primarily a travel blog, I’ve never been shy about writing about other aspects of my life, including romance. If you’ve read this blog long enough, you’d know that I haven’t been in a serious relationship for a very long time. I’ve dated here and there, and met some absolutely lovely people. I have never considered myself unlucky in love, not at all; in fact, I consider myself extremely lucky in love, simply from the fact that I’ve had the chance to get to know some absolutely wonderful people from around the world. Because I don’t put much pressure on myself to get married or have kids (nor am I sure that I want either of those things), I’ve been able to date around, have fun, and figure out what it is I truly want out of a partner.

And then I met Scott.

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My 2016 UK Travel Goals

Back in October I wrote a post called My 2016 Travel Goals. In that post I talked about wanted to visit Greece, Moldova, Belgium, Turkey, Spain, France… basically, a whole lot of countries around Europe. At the very end of that post, I said I also wanted to see a lot more of the UK, though I didn’t really go into specifics.

I want to do more. I want to see more. I want to eat more (seriously, English food is delicious, I don’t know why that rumour still stands). While I’ve slowly been curating a list of fun things to do in London, I’ve also decided that I want to travel outside of the city at least once a month. I might not always be visiting new-to-me places, but I feel an urge to really explore this wonderful backyard of mine.

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Tips for Teenagers Who Want to Travel the World

Over the years, I’ve received a lot of emails from teenagers and/or students who have questions about travelling, mainly how to get started or how to decide where to go.

While I can’t possibly know where every teenager who writes to me is coming from, I can offer just a little bit of advice for the positive steps I took when I was younger in order to fulfil my travel dreams. As I was growing up I was unwittingly preparing for a lifetime of travel, and years later I am so thankful that I was so determined from such a young age. Here are a few things you might be able to do if you’re a teenager who wants to travel the world after finishing school (or really, for anyone who wants to travel).

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