October 2019: Travel Summary and Statistics


Nicolas Cage house near Bath

I kicked off October with a cancer scare and ended it with buckets of mezcal.

As always, it’s been a rollercoaster of a month with plenty of highs and lows. It was also the last month of the year that I’ll be spending entirely in Bristol, so I threw myself into life in this wonderful city to make the most of my time here.

Here’s what I got up to.

A colourful rock climbing wall in Bristol with three climbers hanging  from 20 feet up
My second home in Bristol: I can’t get enough of rock climbing!

A huge amount of October was spent in my local rock climbing gym.

For years, I have been talking about trying climbing, but never managed to find the time or the courage to do so. I’m someone who loves scrambling over rocks whenever I’m outside, so climbing felt like something I’d enjoy.

Was it?

Well, not as instantly as I’d hoped.

In fact, during my first climb, I made it three metres off the ground, looked down, spontaneously developed a fear of heights, and had to be brought down because my legs were trembling so violently. Yes, I had Elvis Legs.

That should’ve been my one and only attempt at scaling a wall.

Something I’ve learned over the years, though, is that you have to do the things that scare you in order to grow. And while rock climbing was surprisingly terrifying, I wanted to get over the fear.

I promptly signed up for a beginners course and began to spend my days belaying, scrambling up the walls, and slowly finding my confidence. The key? Falling! Once I practiced falling, I learned to trust the ropes and my equipment and no longer feared jumping for new holds or taking risks.

And I love it! Climbing is so much fun and I can’t get enough of it. My forearms, however, could definitely do with a rest.

Alice Cooper in concert

When I wasn’t climbing, I was heading out on adventures.

It had been far too long since I’d taken a trip — too long being like, a month — so I decided to spend a weekend in Cardiff with Dave.

And it just so happened that Alice Cooper was in town, who I have a deep, inexplicable love for. I dragged Dave along with me and spent an evening bopping around to some of my favourite songs. It was such a great show!

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate while we were in Cardiff, so I had to skip out on a couple of activities I had planned, but I still had a blast. I spent most of my time exploring new neighbourhoods, checking out the street art, and eating some delicious meals.

countryside near bath

I threw myself into all kinds of other activities this month, checking out some stand up comedy shows (oh my god, I went to one on a Sunday night and like, 12 people showed up at a venue that seats 150. It was so awkward!), adventure travel talks (I loved hearing the story of a guy who cycled from London to New Zealand), and heading out for drinks with newfound friends.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it is so, so, so hard to move to a new city where you don’t know anybody. It’s even harder when you and your partner both work from home. And it’s even, even harder when you’ve spent the past seven years travelling full-time, because it makes you the least relatable people on the planet.

The key, though, is putting yourself out there. And after a lonely 18 months in Bristol, I’m finally starting to feel as though I’m making friends and building a lovely community here.

Of course, I’m just about to start travelling for 3+ months, so I can’t wait to start from square one again in March!

Nicolas Cage house near Bath

One of the reasons why we chose Bristol as home base, though, is its accessibility to nature. I always say that Bristol has all of the good aspects of London, but none of the bad, and something it has over London is its proximity to the countryside. Getting to head out on a 15-minute drive or train ride into the hills is something I’ll never tire of.

One day, a group of us set out for Bath and spent a sunny afternoon wandering through the nearby fields. We stopped off at five different pubs[!] over the day, sampled a delicious roast, and generally marvelled at the beauty in this part of the world.

Fun fact: Midford Castle in the photo above used to be owned by Nicolas Cage! He bought it for £5 million, then sold it for £3 million two years later when he found himself facing an unexpected tax bill.

Mezcal tasting in bar

Another highlight of my month was hitting up a tequila and mezcal tasting! Mezcal is my favourite spirit in the world, and a mezcalerita my favourite cocktail, so this was totally up my alley. And it was incredible value for money.

For just £10, we got to try four different tequilas, two mezcals, three cocktails, and even snack on some treats. It was held at the Clockwork Rose, a steampunk-themed bar in Bristol that I had yet to check out, and it was such a cool spot!

pumpkin carving

I’m all about the new experiences and one thing neither Dave nor I had tried before was pumpkin carving! I grabbed a couple of pumpkins and set about slicing through them.

You should have seen my face when I sat down with my butter knife, found an instructional video, and realised I should have bought all of these saws and tools to help me carve.

Still, Dave and I spent a solid hour listening to spooky music while we attempted to carve our pumpkins. I couldn’t resist carving a Gene Simmons into mine because I really am that embarrassing.

Neon skull makeup look

And how can I sign off during spooky season without sharing my Halloween makeup look? I love having an excuse to spend a full day sitting in front of the mirror playing with colours.

And that was October!

Highlights of the Month

Falling in love with rock climbing: I love it so, so much! I love the puzzle of it and I love how euphoric it feels to successfully send a climb. It’s so much fun! I highly recommend checking it out if you’ve been considering trying it.

Lowlights of the Month

A cancer scare: Days after returning from the Camino, I developed some concerning symptoms.

First, I noted a weird rash all over one of my legs. I pushed on the red dots with a glass and they didn’t disappear — the hallmark sign of meningitis or septicaemia — and an indication that I was bleeding under my skin. Still, I felt fine in myself, so despite the NHS website urging me to go to A&E, I dismissed my fears and got on with my day.

Days later, I had a nosebleed for the first time in my life. I silently connected it to the weird rash but convinced myself it was just a coincidence.

That’s the problem with being an ex-hypochondriac — you skyrocket to the other end of the spectrum and become blasé about your health. I’ve never had a life-threatening disease before, so I was certain I was fine.

Days later, I scratched absent-mindedly at my leg, then looked down in horror. There were these huge red lines trailing up my leg. Lines of blood, but I hadn’t broken the skin — it was all under the surface. My blood vessels were breaking apart and I’d barely even touched my skin.

I took that as a sign that I could start panicking.

I jumped on Google and combined the bleeding with the weird bouts of nausea I’d been suffering from, my sudden inability to sleep well, and my equally sudden loss of appetite. Eeek. That sounded like a textbook case of leukemia.

I called the NHS and they sent me to the nearest hospital, urging me to get there within an hour. Panic, panic, panic, panic. 

And… nothing showed up.

Doctors couldn’t explain it but every test showed that I was totally fine. No cancer, no autoimmune disease, no nothing. Maybe it’s just something random that’s happening in your body, they suggested.

Maybe it was.

I have to tell you that the week I spent sitting at home, waiting for a phone call to tell me if I have leukemia or not was one of the scariest moments of my life. I’d drafted out the blog post about it in my head, planned out how I would tell my parents, made a note of which flights I’d need to cancel, come up with a plan for how I’d keep my site running.

And I was fine.

I guess this lowlight turned out to be a highlight in the end.

My host screwed something up with my site. Again: Ugh. Somehow my host managed to block Google from seeing certain parts of my code. When Google couldn’t then correctly render my site, they decided it wasn’t mobile-friendly, and my search traffic plummeted overnight.

I managed to get the issue fixed within a couple of days, but it took several weeks for my traffic to climb back up to its previous levels.

Taxes, taxes, taxes: Always fun! I decided to file my personal and corporation tax returns this month, and it always takes weeks of non-stop work to get my books in order for my accountant. I hated having to pull some seriously long days but not having any content to show at the end of it. It’s always the case with the behind-the-scenes stuff as a blogger — I hate working on anything that isn’t writing blog posts!

November 2019 travel map

My Next Steps

There’s a running joke around these parts that every time I book a trip to India, I cancel it.

In 2011, I planned to travel to Mathura to celebrate Holi, but backed out at the last minute, found cheaper flights to Bali, and pounced on those instead.

In 2014, I bought flights to Kerala, but couldn’t get my Indian visa on time. It came with a 15-business-days processing window back then and I wasn’t going to be spending more than a week in a single place before I was meant to fly out. I cancelled my plans and flew to the Maldives instead.

In 2017, I bought a flight to New Delhi, but cancelled at the last minute when I decided to uproot my life in Portugal and move to the U.K. I only had a month left in Portugal and wanted to spend that time saying goodbye to Lisbon, rather than travelling through India.

Six months ago, I bought another flight to New Delhi, but had to cancel when an overgrowth of mould in my house made me very unwell. I travelled to the airport, but was too sick to get on the plane.

And so, when I bought flights to India this month and promptly had a cancer scare, part of me was like of course. Of course I have leukemia because I just booked a trip to India and now I must immediately cancel the trip.

Let’s see what happens in November.

Because it’s not until I step foot on the plane to New Delhi that I’ll actually believe I’m going.

But if I do finally make it, I’m thrilled to have almost a month to explore the country.

I’ll kick off my travels in New Delhi and have a few days in this chaotic city. I’m intrigued to see what I think of Delhi. On one hand, I think I’ll hate it. I think it’ll be noisy and polluted and I’ll want to leave immediately after arriving. And yet, it’s always the places I think I’ll hate that I end up loving.

And that will be the end of November! As we come into December, I’ll be hitting up an additional nine destinations across the country, but I’ll save that news for next month’s summary.

I’m so excited to finally, finally, finally make it to India.

(She says every single year)

What do you have planned for November?

20 Comments

  1. Allyson Flak
    November 3, 2019
    Reply

    I have a few questions for you:

    1. Prior to your original Round-the-world trip, if someone had asked where in the world you most wanted to visit, what would you have said? Have you been to all of these places by now?

    2. Which destinations that you have traveled to have been most different from what you expected?

    3. You mentioned having to do taxes for your blog. What are all of the other ‘behind the scenes’ tasks that you have to to run your blog?

    4. Once you decide that you want to visit a certain destination, how do you go about planning your trip? Do you have any specific methods or resources that you use?

    • November 3, 2019
      Reply

      Love these questions! Thanks so much, Allyson!

  2. I love your Gene Simmons pumpkin! Haha. 12 people at a comedy show? You’ve clearly never been to Edinburgh Fringe if you think that’s awkward. ;) Also well done on persevering with rock climbing!

    • November 3, 2019
      Reply

      Thank you!! Ah, no I haven’t been to Edinburgh Fringe before. I think it was most awkward because the venue seats like, 150 people so it was very obvious that there was hardly anybody there!

  3. Urska
    November 3, 2019
    Reply

    A q for your video: Any life (not travel) related goals for 2020? Love your blog! :)

  4. emz.travelz
    November 3, 2019
    Reply

    Hope you do finally make it to India! I’m here currently, was absolutely terrified before I came, the stories people tell you are mental. But y’know what? Its FINE. Like seriously, everyone is so used to tourists now that I’ve felt safer here than I have in many places in Europe! And I’m a solo female traveller of about 5ft 4 with blonde curly hair!

    You’re going to love it! Can’t wait to hear about where you visit, if you get the chance head to Varanasi (it’s so fascinating and unique) and definitely head to Jaipur and hit up the bazaars for some awwwwesome shopping!

    • November 6, 2019
      Reply

      That’s so great to hear! I can’t wait to fiiiinally make it there :-)

  5. November 4, 2019
    Reply

    Here’s a few questions :)
    Have you ever been anywhere that felt more “home” than your actual home?
    What would your advice be to someone who has had a steady website/blog for a year or so but hasn’t seen much growth yet?

    I’m exited to see what you think of India! My friend also had a leukemia scare a couple years ago but turns out she just went through a period of bruising easily, the body is weird.

  6. Ashley P
    November 4, 2019
    Reply

    My question is — for people who only have a limited time in a place, how do you research what the best things to do would be to maximise your time? I always love the idea of traveling, but then I get easily overwhelmed with the planning!

  7. Rachel
    November 4, 2019
    Reply

    Hello Lauren!
    I have a BA in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in English. I also love to travel and have an enormous bucket list! In your opinion, how can integrate both my love for travel and my degree to find a job that I truly love? I’m passionate about Tech Writing, Advertising, and Multi-Media Marketing and would love to blend in travel somehow.
    Just looking for words of wisdom…:))

    I love your blog and your book was awesome, too!

  8. November 4, 2019
    Reply

    Are you going to write a sequel to How Not to Travel the World?

    What’s your favorite kind of taco?

    I’m sure I have more, but I can’t think of them right now!

  9. Daphne
    November 6, 2019
    Reply

    Awesome that you’ve started climbing! I’ve just moved to Bristol, if you ever want to climb outside let me know :) and india is amazing, hope you manage this time

  10. Becca
    November 6, 2019
    Reply

    My question – what resources do you use when planning and booking your trips (accommodation, transportation etc)?

    Thanks

  11. November 7, 2019
    Reply

    Haha thanks for the laugh, I can really relate to the fear of heights. I think I have to start climbing as well, it seems like a good way to beat that fear. Also, wohoo can’t wait for you to be active on YouTube – I just made sure to subscribe so I can get notifications when you start uploading :D

    I have a question for you about travel burnout:
    My boyfriend and I are currently on a year around the world. We have been on the road for 4 months, and we already had several travel burn outs. We are also vlogging, and it is really hard to balance doing work, enjoying our travels and enjoying each other. Don’t get me wrong, we are still having the time of our life. I just wanted to know, if you have any tips on how you balance your work, travel and time with Dave at the same time.

    Thank you for all the inspiration you have given me during the last couple of years.
    The Best, Cecilie.

  12. Eloise
    November 8, 2019
    Reply

    My question – How did you go about finding friends and a community in a new city? I’m planning on moving to Bristol in the near future and will only know my boyfriend who lives there currently! I love my current social circle which includes close friends and family where I currently live, and I’m most nervous about being without that when I move so any tips would be really helpful!

  13. Mel
    November 8, 2019
    Reply

    First of all, I love your blog! I recently travelled to French Polynesia and found your articles on the area entertaining and helpful when I was planning my trip!
    Secondly, re your health scare, it sounds like you could have had exercise-induced vasculitis (EIV)? Also known as the Disney Rash, hahah! (Doesn’t include nosebleeds but that could have been a coincidence)

  14. Chris
    November 12, 2019
    Reply

    Hey Lauren :) Glad to hear you don’t have cancer. Good luck with finally finding your way to India! I would like to ask you: “If you had to open and run a beach bar outside of Europe, where would it be?”

  15. Kieran
    February 3, 2020
    Reply

    Hi Lauren. A bit off topic but are you planning on travelling to South America this year?
    I’d love to read about it when you get there.

    I’m in NZ so good to hear that the healthcare system looked after you.

    • February 3, 2020
      Reply

      Yes, actually! I’m most likely going to head to Brazil this year, but I’m also probably going to run a poll of my readers to let you guys decide where in South America to send me!

      The healthcare in New Zealand was amazing! Everyone was so compassionate and warm, and I didn’t have to pay a cent for my treatment.

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