It still blows me away how afraid people can be of the world. I’m about to share my thoughts about #fearlesstravel. Dig in.
Maybe it’s just because we are force-fed horror travel stories and are told to have travel fears every day though online media that tells us we should be very very afraid, or everyone knows someone who had something bad happen to them traveling. Who knows. But for some reason or another we’ve come to live in a world that is portrayed as being dangerous, when the truth is, it’s not.
When I tell people I travel alone as a woman, you wouldn’t believe the crap I hear back and how I must be crazy.
I realized a long time ago that the world is not as scary as we are led to believe and to take what people say with a grain of salt. For me and based on my experiences, the good and positive travel moments and memories far outweigh the bad.
I wish we lived in a more positive world, don’t you?
Travel is really not that scary guys. And one of the most beautiful things about travel is learning to face your fears and overcome challenges on the road. At least for me, that’s one of the main reasons I love travel.
In some ways I’ve become super complacent when on the road. I’ve been traveling for so long I’m almost oblivious to the obvious fears now, which can’t be a good thing. Luckily my mother raised me to be mildly anxious all the time, so I’ve managed to establish a few key things I always do so I stay out of trouble, mostly. I’ve talked before about how I cope with fear on the road
I thought I’d go ahead and share with you guys some of the travel fears I’ve faced over the years (and continue to face, to be honest) and how I cope with them in the hopes that it might inspire you go explore the world too and be less afraid. Enjoy!
1. Losing something important
I’m really mostly afraid of losing something important like my computer or passport or one million cameras. I’ve never had a really serious theft or pickpocket moment in all my travels, so I am less worried about that or even about being mugged, but more about forgetting something, damaging or having something swiped when I’m on the road.
One time I had my GoPro nicked out of my bag on a train in Europe and then of course there is the famous Camel Incident of 2013. Goodbye brand new DSLR. Luckily right before that trip I invested in travel property insurance with Clements, which paid for itself with the cost of the repair. One of the smartest things I’ve ever done, and have kept my gear and valuables insured with Clements ever since.
I keep copies of my passport online and in paper and have multiple bank cards in case one gets swiped or stops working. There are a few little preventative measures you can take that can really protect if something goes wrong.
2. Physical challenges
This is probably my biggest fear – I’ve never really considered myself a super physical person or an athlete but I love adventure travel that often involves getting my hands dirty. So it’s unavoidable.
I used to be a lot more adventurous than I am not, in terms of jumping off cliffs and doing generally crazy things. I was always the first person to go for it, and now I find myself crippled with anxiety that I can’t even place.
My approach to dealing with these fears is pretty straightforward. I tackle them head on.
For example after almost breaking my back in Jordan, I decided to go on a horseback riding trip in Mongolia to conquer my fears of riding animals. Best decision I’ve ever made.
3. Feeling lonely
I’m known for doing a lot of solo female travel around the world, a fact that many people can’t really wrap their heads around. To them it seems that a woman traveling alone is an inherent risk, but to me it isn’t. I find solo travel super rewarding and I love it.
I don’t really have any fears around it anymore because I’ve traveled so much alone and nothing has ever happened.
My only fear around solo travel now is more personal – feeling lonely. I combat this by making sure that when I start to feel alone, I meet up with other travelers, readers or join in on group tours or pub crawls. You can travel solo and never really even be alone if you want. It’s great.
4. Feeling unsafe
To be totally honest, this is not a fear that I generally have when traveling because I tend to blatantly ignore it when people tell me a place isn’t safe. Pure stubbornness is one of my greatest character strengths.
And so many of the warnings we receive in the news or online can be completely biased. I tend to only listen to firsthand experiences and avoid war-torn countries.
For example I went to Turkey back in 2013 right after an American woman was murdered and everyone cautioned me against it. Turns out, Turkey became one of my favorite countries and I felt completely safe traveling there as a woman and I’m going back again in a few months.
My advice is to take what people say with a grain of salt, especially if they haven’t even been to the place they are cautioning you about.
5. Getting sick
Without a doubt, getting sick on the road is one of the most annoying things you have to go through as a traveler, and trust me, it happens.
As it turns out, I’m currently recovering from a suspected case of Dengue Fever from my last trip overseas. Kill me now.
In general, I try to be careful when traveling about what I eat and getting bit by mosquitos but at the end of the day, most of the time the chances of something happening are slim to none.
What are some fears you face when traveling and what’s your best advice for overcoming them? What are your tips for #fearlesstravel? Share in the comments.
Many thanks to Clements for protecting me over the years – like always, I’m keeping it real. All opinions are my own, like you could expect less from me.
The post 5 common fears I face traveling and how I manage them appeared first on Young Adventuress.
A month ago I had the opportunity to head back and explore one of my favorite regions of Australia – Queensland.
Queensland is a place I keep coming back to because it just has so much to discover. From beautiful warm beaches to tropical coral reefs to dense rainforest to the Outback, I can’t get enough. Even now my list of what I want to do there keeps growing.
For someone who loves to tick things off lists, Queensland is making that hard. Especially because there are so many things to do in Townsville.
This time I headed up to discover a place I hadn’t been before – Townsville in North Queensland.
Tucked away between Cairns and the Whitsundays, two places I’ve spent some time and loved quite a bit, I knew I was in for a treat. The gateway to so many great spots in North Queensland, Townsville was the perfect mix of urban jungle and scenic nature. Cute and quirky, my favorite.
If you follow me on Instagram you would have seen some of these shots already, but I wanted to go ahead and share a few more with you all.
And did I mention it’s insanely colorful, bright and beautiful? You guys know how I feel about colorful destinations, so it wasn’t hard for me to enjoy my time in Australia. Especially knowing that I was headed back to winter in New Zealand. Cringe.
So check out some of my favorite colorful things I got up to for a week and my tips for things to do in Townsville. Enjoy!
Pretending to hike up Castle Hill
Dominating the Townsville skyline is a beautiful giant rocky hill called Castle Hill. Seriously, you can’t miss it.
Giving me some big Cape Town vibes, I had to see the top. But unlike all the locals who powerwalk up here daily, I took the lazy route and just drove up. But it was amazing and totally worth it. In fact I went up a few times because I loved the view from the top.
Mountains plus beautiful blue sea? What more could you want?
Swimming at Bowling Green Bay National Park
One of my favorite things about Australia and especially in North Queensland are all of the local swimming holes to cool down in.
Since it was tropical and hot, one of the first things I did after arriving was to drive town to Alligator Creek to go for a swim and little explore.
It was such a still day making for awesome reflections in the little pools and in the water.
Oh, and there are no gators here, only a turtle or two.
Brunching at Jam Corner in the sunshine
OMG the brunch at Jam Corner blew me away. In fact, it might be one of my favorite brunches of all time, and that is saying something.
Getting lost around Magnetic Island
I think many people who come to Townsville, come because they want to head out to Magnetic Island. Known by locals as just as Maggie, it’s just eight kilometers offshore from Townsville and is the perfect day trip from town.
A sort of weird time warp where people drive around in mini cars and it somehow feels like the 90s, it’s the perfect place to relax and step back from it all.
I spent the morning exploring the hidden beaches and bays, snorkeling and fishing to my heart’s content with Aquascene Charters, before spending the afternoon driving around and exploring every corner of the island til sunset.
Caffeinating at Coffee Dominion
I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I am the world’s biggest coffee addict. No, no, don’t argue.
So usually when I arrive in a new place, the first thing I ask around for is where’s the best coffee. And being in Australia, you’re pretty much guaranteed delicious perfect coffee.
In Townsville, someone quickly pointed me to Coffee Dominion in the CBD and holy crap did it not disappoint. Plus look at the amazing street art just around the corner!
Being amazed at gigantic Wallaman Falls
I saw a photo of Wallaman Falls and just knew I had to go here.
Australia’s highest waterfall, it is so impressive to gaze at and see in person, making the long drive out there worth it. And the road up to the falls is really fun!
Sidenote, why is it that we love waterfalls so much when traveling? Anyone? Anyone?
Visiting like a local and having my own apartment
I think one of the big reasons I loved Townsville was because I felt like a local when I was visiting. It has so much to offer and to explore but doesn’t have that same commercial feel to it like Cairns. It still feels real.
For the week I was there I camped out at the Quest on Eyre in an apartment, which for someone who travels as much as me, you know is a seriously luxury. I was in heaven! And it was so centrally located I had access to everything I wanted. I love staying in apartments on the road.
Chowing down at City Lane
Why do I love to eat so much? WHY?
I wasn’t expecting Townsville to have such a kickass foodie scene. It blew me away. One of my favorite meals was dinner down at City Lane, Townsville’s first creative street dining spot. An alley / city lane turned into a great walking area of delicious food spots, you won’t leave hungry.
I ended up grabbing dinner and drinks at the Courtyard, a funky Mexican cantina style spot meets American diner. I was in heaven. Also how can you not love a place whose hashtag is #DontPissOffTheGnomes?
Hanging out with the locals at the Billabong Sanctuary
Another reason I love this part of Australia is because it’s home to some of the most interesting and unique animals. I spent my first afternoon in Townsville wandering around the Billabong Sanctuary and getting to know some of Australia’s coolest animals.
Guys guys guys, do you know how long I’ve wanted to cuddle a wombat? For freaking ever!
Dreams do come true!
Soaring over Magnetic Island in a seaplane
I love flying and being up in the air – it’s one of my favorite ways to see a new destination so I jumped at the chance to see Maggie from above. And not just in any old plane, in and old open biplane!
Red Barron Seaplanes flew me along the coast and island on my last day and it blew me away. It reminded me of when I fell in love with Wanaka flying over the lake in a Tiger Moth almost 3 years ago.
One more brunch, of course
Another awesome brunch spot in Townsville is Betty Blue and the Lemon Tart.
Apart from having the best name ever, it’s a fabulous local spot with huge greasy and delicious breakfasts and amazing coffee.
Doing some bombs at Crystal Creek
Another amazing watering hole, Crystal Creek is tucked away in the rainforest along a narrow winding mountain road in Paluma Range National Park.
I wasn’t planning to come out here but my dive trip to the SS Yongala wreck was canceled thanks to some crap weather and I had time to explore.
Luckily I did because the drive out there was one of my favorite activities and I really loved exploring this rainforest. It felt like a place that only locals knew about and I jut got a glimpse of.
Wandering around the local aquarium
On my last day in Townsville I headed over to the aquarium in a moment of nostalgia. I can trace my love of animals and being under the water from when I was a kid and my parents used to take me to the aquariums along the east coast in the USA.
While I am not sure how I feel about them now that I am involved in quite a bit of conservation projects, there is something special about seeing these guys close up that’s pretty rad – but that’s a discussion for another day. Not to mention the Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville is the most epic time warp ever!
Basically I just wanted to share a photo of a mantis shrimp that they had there. If you’ve read The Oatmeal, you know why I had to.
Oh, I found Dory guys, don’t worry.
Before I knew it, I was on a Rex Airlines flight back to Cairns and then onto New Zealand watching the Great Barrier Reef disappear into the clouds as the sun began to set.
To me, Townsville felt like one of Australia’s best-kept secrets. Colorful and beautiful, filled with friendly people and so much to do you can’t be bored, I had a great time. I really felt like I got to know the place and if you’re like me and you enjoy traveling like a local, you probably will to.
Have you been to Townsville? Would you pop over for a visit?
Many thanks to Townsville North Queensland for hosting me in Australia – like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own, like you could expect less from me!
The post Exploring Colorful Townsville, Australia appeared first on Young Adventuress.
Ok, so I have a lot of favorite places in New Zealand. I live here after all, and I could live anywhere in the world. In fact, some of my closest friends frequently give me a lot of crap for the fact that I have so many favorite spots, to which I reply, why have one when you could have dozens? Right?
Many of them I’ve told you about already or share daily on Instagram. And there are a few you’ll never hear about from me. After all, we all have to keep a secret or two.
But of them is fairly obvious – the mighty Fox Glacier on the wild west coast of the South Island. And while it’s fairly well-known, I want to check my two cents in for goo measure because I love it there!
Snaking down like a perfect river of blue ice off the back of Mt. Tasman and Aoraki/Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak, along with neighboring Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier is outstanding to see.
But it’s even better up close and personal. Touch the ice. Drink from the streams. Climb into ice caves – can’t beat that!
Fox Glacier is special because it’s one of the only glaciers in the world that drops down into the rainforest below while most others are up and around the peaks of the mountains.
But that’s not why I love it – for me, Fox Glacier is remarkable because it has such a local and family vibe to it. It still feels like authentic New Zealand. It feels real. And while Fox Glacier Guiding has been running glacier guided walks on the ice for almost 100 years it still doesn’t feel like Disneyland.
Fox is also really accessible.
Normally, for us mortals, our only way of experiencing glaciers is from a nice safe viewpoint or guided walks. I always thought that accessing glaciers belonged to experienced mountaineers and ice-climbers because of the technical side to them. Let’s be honest here, if someone is going to fall headfirst into a crevasse, it’s going to be me.
But of course New Zealand takes that to the next level – where you can not only do guided hikes on these magnificent glaciers, you can also helicopter up to them and land on the ice! How awesome is that?
There is just something amazing about walking on and exploring a glacier. And hot damn, aren’t the views from above pretty rad?!
So I did a heli-hike on Franz Josef Glacier a few years ago and have done a helicopter scenic flight on Fox Glacier a while back, but I was itching to step onto the ice for a real adventure. Those were a nice little introduction and teaser, but I was ready to learn more about climbing on the ice and taking it to the next level. I wanted to truly experience Fox and know what all these adventurers are talking about.
I learned to ice-climb in Finland this winter and was looking forward to the next opportunity to wrap my hands around an ice-ax. I feel like being able to use an ice-ax automatically makes you a badass, right? Or climbing out of a helicopter onto a glacier wearing a harness and carrying ropes? Too cool for school.
Just call me Jon Snow. Or Sir Edmund Hillary. One day, guys, one day.
But I digress.
While you can do an epic Fox Glacier heli hike with Fox Glacier Guiding, if you are like me and are looking for some bigger and longer adventures on the ice and want to be up there all day, I would go for their new Extreme Fox Heli-Hike.
With the Extreme Fox, you get to learn how to use ice climbing gear and equipment, and go and forge your own path around the glacier – so awesome.
From descending into caves and moulins (ice holes) to climbing and rappelling down ice walls to learning how to set anchors and ascend pitches, it’s so epic. It felt like my first proper mountain experience.
It can be as mellow or extreme as you want, and for me I wanted a nice healthy balance in the middle somewhere. Gone are my wild days in my early twenties unfortunately. Though I did ask If I could jump in one of the ice ponds.
Never grow up entirely guys.
The sun had just started to rise creating beautiful golden beams between the surrounding peaks as we helicoptered down to the glacier after overnighting at Chancellor Dome Hut (an amazing story for another day guys).
The light was just hitting the ice when we landed; strapping on our crampons to begin an epic day-long adventure around the glacier, we set off. For the most part we saw very few other groups and only then they were far away, so it really felt like we had the place to ourselves.
Away from my phone and all my worries, it was so amazing to disconnect with the world and reconnect in one of the most outstanding natural landscapes I could ever imagine. God guys, doesn’t this place look unreal?
For me, I love being on glaciers because it is like you can see the whole journey from the mountains.
You start at the sea and then follow the beautiful braided blue rivers along the valley before you arrive at the foot of the glacier where huge chunks of ice fall down into icebergs below – watch out. Then you journey along the ice for 13 kilometers towards to the tops of the mountains where four glaciers converge together before finally arriving at the mountain peaks covered in snow. Top to bottom, it’s one epic journey.
At the risk of sounding cheesy, to me glaciers, especially Fox, are alive.
We got very lucky and one of the first things we discovered as we started exploring was an ice cave. Don’t jinx it and mention them though on your hike! Because glaciers change and move so much, you never know what you are going to find.
Down below the ice glows bright blue as pure water trickles as a stream down through the ice. Just don’t trip and fall into the water like me. It’s frosty and filled with glacier ice cubes!
Luckily I was wearing merino wool which dries fast, and hopping to and fro along the ice cavern and caves with wet knees, it was an unbeatable introduction to the Extreme Fox. It’s amazing how long these ice tunnels go on for.
From there I learned how to use my ice ax properly (not just hitting everything which had been my strategy up to that point) and even rope into my harness and set anchors into the ice and ascend pitches along beautiful ridges.
Am I even using the right lingo here guys?
Anyways, as long as it’s safe and stable, you can go so many places on the glacier.
That’s the beauty about these places, they change overnight and are different every time you visit them. One day there is a huge cave, the next a beautiful high ice arch, another huge moulin or ice hole. You never know what you’ll find.
We spent all day on the ice exploring to the point I found myself saying that I didn’t want to leave, which like, never happens when I am doing physically demanding things.
To me, being on a glacier and learning how to traverse it and climb properly is an experience that I’ll never forget. But be careful, I think I’ve got the bug and am already counting down the days that I can go back and climb some more!
Fox Glacier, stay awesome!
Does the Extreme Fox sound like an adventure for you? Have you ever hiked on a glacier or done any ice-climbing? Spill!
Many thanks to Fox Glacier Guiding for hosting me on the Extreme Fox. Like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own – like you could expect less from me!
The post Getting Extreme on Fox Glacier appeared first on Young Adventuress.
Wow, 6 years of blogging, that went by fast.
I don’t think I’ve ever committed to anything that long. Ever.
I honest to god cannot believe that my blog is my life now. Sometimes when I look back and see the other paths I could have gone down (and didn’t) I make a long “woah” sound out loud. Every day, no matter my mental state, I pinch myself and try to be grateful for the life that I now have. I know I’m lucky.
That’s one thing I’m trying to work on now, being grateful and happy.
Things could have been very different for me. 6 years ago I was a different pesron with different goals and plans.
I could still be teaching English in Spain. I could be living back home in the US working. I could be in graduate school studying medieval Spanish history (don’t ask).
Instead I took a giant leap of faith and decided three years ago to give this whole blogging thing a shot and quit my job to travel. I still have goals and plans but they are so far removed from what I imagined my life would be when I graduated college.
The only constant thing throughout all these years has been this blog, which means more to me than anything.
My blog has been with me through 3 heart-wrenching break-ups, 5 big moves around the world, 2 big career changes, and finally led me to this life I have now.
So where were we? 6 years and I’ve run out of shit to write about, I’m done.
I always have something to say, which has been a blessing and a curse. Sometimes I wish my brain would just shut up.
Last year I shared some lessons from 5 years of blogging – I love that I have this blog as a record of my adventures to look back on, and I totally believe that everyone has a story and blogging can be an amazing place to share those stories, moments, memories and adventures, for yourself and maybe for some others.
That’s something I learned over the years – that my stories, my opinions, my experiences could inspire others. To be honest, I still don’t really get it. WHY ME?
And I certainly never started believing that by now over 10 million people would have read my words. Mind-boggling. Again, why me? Why?!
Buuuuut my story was not always a fairy tale. Let’s go way back. I don’t know if I’ve ever shared any of this before.
I was never the popular kid. I was super quiet growing up and I lived in my head. I’ve struggled with anxiety and bouts of depression since I was a teenager.
Also I was randomly a bit of rebel – fighting tooth and nail when my mom remarried when I was a young teen and lashing out whenever I could – I was even expelled from school (don’t ask). By high school all I could think about was escaping small town Virginia and all the small-minded people I felt were suffocating me. All of the bullies that shoved me into lockers and threw peanuts at me during lunch breaks.
Bastards. I will always hate people who try and put other people down.
I threw myself into my studies in high school and worked on competing in tennis. I wanted to get out. I worked, studied, worked more and played tennis. When I was accepted into college in New England, I knew that was my chance.
I went to Mt. Holyoke, a women’s college and studied Spanish and Medieval Studies (again, don’t ask). I was always a nerd. I will always have a deep love for my fellow nerds. Nerds are curious people, and curiosity is the most important thing.
Then boom – procrastinating during my senior year finals 6 years ago, my blog was born.
I’d like to take this opportunity to praise all my fellow procrastinators out there – see? Look what amazing things can come from procrastination!
I’d like to think that in some ways I’ve grown wiser and more experienced. Well, can’t confirm the wiser part but I have gotten heaps of experience! The good, the bad and the ugly.
My whole life I’ve been told I wasn’t good enough, that I was crazy to do the things I do. Do you know how goddamn satisfying it is to stand here and know that I did it? Nothing motivates like a fear of total failure or proving people wrong, amiright?
At the risk of sounding like an arrogant prick, I have made it and it feels awesome.
People will always try and put you down for your success (especially if you are a woman) but it’s important to ignore them. Or laugh at them. Or feel sorry for them. But never let it keep you from creating what you want to or following your dreams.
I’ve seen the worst side of people in this industry – people who not only want to ruin you or tear you down, but do it gleefully to. I’ve seen people tear my work to shreds with a smile on their face and deal with comments all the time that would have made me cry in another life.
I’ve seen the greed, the jealousy and the hate that can stem from this lifestyle and it makes me want to go away and hide and never talk to anyone again.
But I have also seen the most amazing things, been privileged enough to be part of the most incredible experiences and receive daily feedback from you guys about how I’ve helped or inspired you in one way or another, and to me, THAT IS EVERYTHING.
I’ve learned so many lessons and have gained new skills I don’t think I would have gotten in any other way.
I’ve learned confidence in myself and my work, and have worked hard to keep the passion for what I do every day alive (sometimes it’s a struggle). Who knew that I would grow to love public speaking or co-launched a travel conference?
I’ve made friends around the world, met so many of you guys, and been involved in projects and communities that have opened my eyes and inspired me even further.
But I totally didn’t learn my lesson about Tinder. Fail!
So where do I want this blog to go?
The moon and back!
As the years go by, what I have always loved the most is simple – storytelling and creating things. Oh, and keep having adventures. I want to experiment more and try new things. Recently I’ve been a bit bored and I want to shake things up. Take more risks, both physically and with my work.
The list really goes on and on.
I want to have a better balance between my work and travels and my life in Wanaka, New Zealand.
Oh yeah, and personal happiness. In some ways this blog has been part of my journey to happiness.
I don’t really know how to wrap this up. I fucking hate conclusions.
I think blogging really is for everyone. It’s therapeutic. All of this narcissistic me-me-me nonsense I just wrote about? You can have it too. Go make something.
If you have a goal or a dream, go for it. I mean, if I can do it, anyone can.
And maybe think about starting a blog and sharing it too.
Here’s to another 6 years guys! You’re stuck with me!
The post Notes on 6 years of blogging appeared first on Young Adventuress.
I think I can safely say I was the only person in the Maldives NOT on their honeymoon.
Just kidding, plenty of people weren’t on their honeymoon. But I was definitely the only single girl there. Boo freaking hoo.
Oh well, more rum-filled coconuts on the beach for me!
Now, before you start hating me for being in the Maldives (because let’s be honest here, I even hate me a little bit) I was in that part of the world for a conference in Sri Lanka where I was speaking. The Maldives are a quick dirt cheap 1 hour flight away from Colombo. Why the hell not?
Though, when I was in Sri Lanka 2 years ago, it was in the middle of a break up, and the thought of going to the Maldives made me want to cry. Hard. So I skipped it.
Not this time!
Given the opportunity to go hang out on in the Maldives with no strings attached? Count me in.
It was a balmy 35 degrees celsius with 100% humidity when I stepped off the plane in Male. Holy crap I wasn’t in New Zealand anymore. Before you even walk out of the airport you can see the twing=kling turquoise waters beckoning you from across the road.
Far out is there anything better than seeing water this blue?
Nope, nope there isn’t. Except for maybe the fact that the water temp is 30 degrees with 40 meters of visibility! Holy shit!
(Also writing this it seems I’ve gone full native and forgotten how to use anything but the metric system. That’s what 6 years abroad will do for you).
When you travel in the Maldives, it’s mostly all-inclusive resorts where the resort covers the whole island. The Maldives are made up of over a thousand islands that are grouped together into 26 coral atolls, most of which are uninhabited.
And you should probably visit soon before the islands disappear under the sea. Thanks global warming!
As you can probably have imagined, the Maldives isn’t the cheapest place to holiday to. But I didn’t find it insanely expensive either.
My friend Janet from Journalist on the Run has a great post about traveling the Maldives on a budget.
My first stop was Cinnamon Dhonveli which is only about half an hour away from Male the capital by speedboat. Too easy.
First order of business – throw on a bikini and jump off my water bungalow deck and go for a swim. Drink some coconuts. Take a nap. Get a massage. Read in the sun.
Now, this is not usually how I travel, I have always preferred adventure travel over resort vacations, but I got to say, this was the life!
I had only three things I wanted to do while in the Maldives – work on my tan, sleep, relax, take a real vacation, and go diving. Happy to say I was able to do all three!
The Maldives has insane diving! I wasn’t expecting that. In fact, I had no expectations. But because of the amazing reef systems, the diving is just incredible.
Think whale sharks, manta rays, turtles galore, nemos, everything!
At Dhonveli I went diving for a day, most island resorts will organize heaps of activities like diving, and mostly hung out on the beach.
The water was so clear straight from the beach it looked like a swimming pool, and there was even coral and fish right there off the main beach to swim over, it was great.
It was so hot I actually just dragged the beach chair into the water to hang out. How to spot a tourist, right?
After a couple of days at Dhonveli, I had to say goodbye and head over to Cinnamon Ellaidhoo, on a completely different atoll further away, this time by seaplane which was awesome!
I loved getting to see the Maldives from the sky!
Ellaidhoo blew me away. It’s a small island surrounded by a sea wall to protect the coral, but it has a friendly, intimate vibe that I really loved. This was a place I wished I was visiting for a month.
And the best part is that there is an amazing reef coral wall surrounding it so you can dive straight from the beach. No boats. And you can dive 24 hours a day, it was awesome!
Again I got to stay in an overwater bungalow, which was one of my biggest bucketlist items ever!
From my room I could hear the waves crashing softly against the reef wall, watch the sunrise and set, see the stars twinkle at night and even watch fish swim by underneath the porch. It was so epic.
I didn’t wear shoes or makeup the whole time I was there, digging my toes into the soft white sand and let my salty hair dry in the hot breezes. There was more wind here making it less hot and cooler.
I spent my days diving off the reef and off a dive boat further away, ticking exotic fish off my bucketlist and practicing my underwater photography (so hard guys) and just enjoying the fact that the water was so warm I could dive in my rashies and not a wetsuit!
I would take walks at sunset and sunrise (thanks jetlag) and really felt like I was able to disconnect and enjoy being there.
I loved chowing down on hot curries and even hotter local Maldivian food as the stars started to come out over the sea.
I couldn’t get over how friendly and welcoming everyone is over there. Blew me away.
It didn’t rain the entire time I was there even though it was the monsoon season.
I really think the Maldives is heaven on earth. A place where time doesn’t matter.
Just editing these photos and writing this post makes me want to go back so badly, next time for a couple of weeks.
I think I’ve got the island life bug bad, guys. Help!
How high is the Maldives on your bucketlist? Do you dream of visiting here one day? Would you go solo like me?
Many thanks to Cinnamon Hotels for hosting me in the Maldives. Like always I’m keeping it real, all opinions are my own, like you could expect less from me.
The post Hanging out in the Maldives appeared first on Young Adventuress.
Guys, I’ve been suffering from some serious nostalgia for a European summer.
This time last year I was lounging on the beach in the Costa Brava in Spain drinking mojitos and working on my tan. Now I am back at home in New Zealand, waking up to frosty mornings and lighting the fire to warm the house up and wearing my down parka and beanie inside waiting for the snows to come. Not the same, guys.
Both have their merits but man, do I miss those bluebird summer days in southern Europe, especially Spain.
I don’t think Europe is on the cards for me this summer, at least not the summery warm Europe I have been dreaming about. For some reason I keep planning snow trips. Why Liz, why??
Plus, I already had my getaway from the chilly winter down under by escaping to Sri Lanka and the Maldives for 3 weeks, and not even I am greedy enough to try and squeeze in another vacation haha.
But I still miss Europe. And I definitely miss living in Spain sometimes. I guess we always want what we can’t have right?
You guys know how much nostalgia I have for anything travel, so this comes as no surprise.
But it also leads to my next point which is a nice giveaway opportunity for you guys. Cheapflights is giving away $2000 for you to spend on flights to getaway from winter. Details at the end of the post.
I know where I would be going – straight back to the old world! I’d fly to London which is the gateway to Europe, and where so many cheap flights route through. I always buy my flights super last minute to get the best deals. And also I’m not that organized. When I flew home from Spain last summer I booked my ticket the day before!
Santorini? Southern Spain? The Turkish coast? The Swiss Alps? The Lake District? My list is enormous.
I’ve spent so many summers in Europe since becoming an adult, it’s almost become part of me. From backpacking in Croatia to sailing around Greece to trainhopping with a rail pass around Switzerland, I’ve left no corner untouched.
If I won, I would head back to Spain and rent a house by the sea. Sigh.
So come along and join me as I muse and go for a long leisurely stroll down memory lane and smile thinking about all the things I love about Europe in summer.
1. Flowers, flowers everywhere
Probably my favorite thing about the warmer months in Europe are the fact that there are flowers everywhere. It’s just so colorful. Heaven!
Almost anywhere you walk you get whiffs of flowers in the hot air, something that reminds me of my time living in Southern Spain where you can smell orange blossoms everywhere. It’s also the time of year where I start to get in trouble when I sneak into people’s courtyards following the flowers. I just can’t help myself!
Serious nostalgia guys. And easy Instagrammable shots.
2. Lazy days sitting at cafes outside
I could (and do) spend hours sitting at cafes in Europe outside in the sun in the summer watching people walk by and doing absolutely nothing except drinking coffee. Or wine. Or pastries.
And I LOVE IT!
Sometimes it turns into a big night out with friends, but most of the time I bring a book; I just love just spending my time soaking up the amazing euro cafe scene in summer. It’s the best!
3. Cobblestone streets
Ok ok, not particularly summery as streets are streets 365 days of the year, but it is something I am super nostalgic about.
I miss the cobbles!
Not that I am super fond of them when I am in Europe as they are a general pain in the ass to negotiate in heels, and quite frankly hurt. But I love the idea of cobbled streets, with my feet slapping away in leather sandals as I stroll about getting lost on purpose.
I must be a romantic at heart.
4. Chilled wine
Chilled white wine or rosé on patios outside in the summer, is there anything better? Street musicians plating in the distance, a general hum and buzz of people moving about enjoying life? I love it.
5. Beach days on the Mediterranean
Nothing beats long summer days laying on the beach somewhere on the Mediterranean. Seriously guys, nothing beats it!
It’s also something I love because I’ve been doing it for as long as I have been coming to Europe because the beaches are just so cheap and accessible. It’s not all about sailing around on private yachts. They are totally affordable holidays.
From Paxos and Corfu, Greece to Nerja, Spain to Brindisi in Italy, I have so many fave beach spots. Take me back! And that water color, unreal!
6. Days that never end
Maybe it’s just Spain, but I love the long summer days where the sun doesn’t seem to set until 11pm. And that’s when the day starts.
7. Walking through forests and olive groves
If I’m in southern Europe, I love walking around the olive groves at sunrise and sunset. They just smell so good. Hot and fresh, and with the world still sleeping, you feel completely at peace.
If I am in other places I love going for easy walks in the dense forest. It reminds me of home back in Virginia.
See guys, serious nostalgia problems over here.
8. All the festivals
Facebook, which seems to know more about my life than I do, kindly reminded me this morning that 4 years ago today I was partying my butt off at San Fermín, the famous running of the bulls in Pamplona.
My head hurts just thinking about it, but in a good way.
9. Long meals outside
When I think of Italy, I think of food. All I do is eat when I’m there, I turn into a machine.
I have such great memories of cooking classes in Tuscany and long lunches and dinners with friends that seem to never end. It’s like time doesn’t matter there.
10. Don’t forge to enter to win!
To help you escape the chills this winter down under, Cheapflights has a competition for you to win $2000 to spend on flights! You guys have a serious chance of winning, so be sure to enter.
It’s too easy:
- First post a picture on Instagram that represents your ‘summer dreaming’ and add a caption that best sums up the photo
- Tag @cheapflights in the post and use the hashtag #CheapflightsWinterEscape.
The competition is open to residents in Australia and New Zealand aged 18 years and over only. Entries close 18 July 2016 at 11.55pm BST, so get on it! You’re welcome!
Many thanks to Cheapflights for giving me mad Europe nostalgia and for this competition. Like always, I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own – like you could expect less from me!
The post Nostalgia for summer in Europe + Giveaway appeared first on Young Adventuress.
Sometimes the most unexpected of places can hold the most amazing surprises
When I think about traveling to see and experience wildlife in their natural habitats, especially big game animals, my mind jumps straight to Africa. Not just me I think, right?
But often times I’ve found that places you might not think about can also offer really special opportunities to see wild animals. Take Sri Lanka for example. Seriously guys, who has wildlife expectations for Sri Lanka? Not this girl.
So in addition to recently sharing my thoughts about improving your wildlife photography with Adobe, I am going to keep along the same thread and share my stories of wildlife on my most recent trip to Sri Lanka with you guys.
I first visited Sri Lanka a few years ago for a travel conference and was lucky enough to spend a few days traveling around beforehand getting a little teaser for the country. Let’s be honest here, I had no idea what to expect from Sri Lanka. I imagined it would be like India Lite.
I was only there for a week and I left unsatisfied. I wanted more.
Until I heard about the amazing Yala National Park, famous for its leopards. It didn’t occur to me that I could go on safari in Sri Lanka, let alone on safari to see leopards.
A year later I got my first little glimpse of a leopard while on Safari in South Africa. It was after dark and we tracked it for hours, before we caught sight of it sauntering by the jeep under a red light. (Red lights are often used on night safaris as not to blind the nocturnal animals).
It was quick, and I definitely didn’t get a photo, so I was itching to try my luck again. When the invite came to return to Sri Lanka this year, I knew it was my chance, especially because Yala National Park is known for its high density of leopards.
It was hot and humid when I finally arrived at Cinnamon Wild Yala. The first thing I noticed was the wild animal sign on the road entrance, marking the dates the last time some of the famous animals were spotted on the road.
Elephants, leopards, jackals and the infamous sloth bear!
I love staying at unfenced safari lodges where you never know what might wander around your cabin at night.
As it turns out, while it was mind-blowingly awesome to watch leopards in the wild, it was the combination with all the other wildlife that truly blew me away.
So I’ve put together a list of 10 amazing animals you can spot in the wild in Sri Lanka, in Yala National Park but also around the whole country.
Nothing is fenced, after all, except for a few local villages with elephant problems.
I’ve left off the usual suspects like monkeys, elephants and crocs to keep things more exciting for you guys.
In partnership with Adobe and the Creative Cloud Photography plan, I’ve included tips and tricks for shooting and editing wild animals and to show you how I was able to take these shots while on safari in Sri Lanka. These shooting tips and post-processing techniques are what I use day in and day out when exploring my passions of wildlife photography.
Note, safaris usually run around sunrise and sunset when the animals are most active, so I armed myself with cameras. My Canon 5D Mark III with the 70-300mm telephoto lens and my older Canon 70D with the 24-70 f/2.8 wide lens (just in case – you don’t usually need a wide lens on safari unless the elephants get too close for comfort) as my back up, and I was ready to go.
When on safari, you also want the biggest telephoto or zoom lens possible so you can capture animals that are really far away, which they often are.
Yala National Park has the highest leopard concentration in the world, and found all over the country. However, they are also an apex predator in Sri Lanka, so they have little to fear which means that can be much easier to spot than in Africa.
I saw three when I was in Yala. One under a tree a million miles away, one on the infamous Leopard Rock at sunset my second night there, and finally a young leopard hiding behind the bushes near the jeep.
The conditions for shooting this leopard were nothing short of terrible. The sun had already disappeared for the day, so it was dark. I also had about 1 second’s notice to get the shot. We didn’t know the leopard was there and before we knew what was happening, the jeep sped off faster than a rocket, and the safari guy was poking me on the shoulder pointing. Ultimately, I wanted the leopard to pop in my photo and be the main focal point, so I played with a few radial filters in Lightroom to create blur around him while sharpening and brightening him up.
2. All the birds
You guys know I am a big bird nerd, so I was stoked to get in some bird watching on safari – sadly, something that’s a bit rare.
I learned that many people who come to Yala only want to see the leopards, and miss out on some amazing adventures and other special creatures. I immediately asked our driver to avoid the beaten path, and show us all Yala had to offer.
My favorite bird was probably the Hornbill, only because they are huge and seriously freaky looking.
However, I also loved the kingfishers. They are the cutest birds, with their fat little bodies, big flat heads and long beaks. In Yala, many of the kingfishers were bright blue, making them easy to spot.
Hornbill shooting tip:
My in-camera trick is a basic one – you need a fast shutter speed for shooting birds because they move fast. I usually keep it at a minimum of 1/500, but it’s important to remember than it should be inverse of your focal length. So if you are shooting at 300mm, min. shutter speed of 1/300. Makes sense?
Kingfisher editing tip:
This was shot at 300mm with the bird in the shade and harsh contrasting daylight. Not ideal conditions by any means but you work with what you have. Because my ISO was at 3200 I had a lot of noise in the image which I reduced down using radial filters.
I found Pumba guys!
Shooting and editing tip:
As you learn more and more about photography, something you need to start paying attention to is that colorful little bar graph on the image, both in-camera and in Lightroom, called the histogram. Histograms are important because they help you get your exposure right, or as good as possible.
Trust me, it’s not as intimidating as it sounds.
The left side of the graph is blacks and shadows and the right side is whites and highlights. Ideally you want the majority of your data in the middle of the histogram, with neither side being clipped. Makes sense?
We found this little guy up north near a hotel, rather than in Yala. The safari guide usually moves them back into a national park away from people, but let me take a few photos first.
While cobras are super-fast, when they realize they can’t get away, they stand up and posture with their hoods out, making a stand, trying to intimidate. Speaking from firsthand experience, it works.
A long telephoto is a must.
Post processing tip:
The most important thing was catching the sharpness of the hood and face. I emphasized that in Lightroom by brushing clarity and sharpness around the snake’s upper body, improving the shadows.
5. Kangaroo lizard
These lizards are so fun to watch because they hop away like kangaroos! Tiny and small, they can be hard to find.
For shooting small animals it’s important to keep in mind the minimal focal distance of your lens – this means how close you can get to your subject and have it in focus. For my 70-300mm, it’s 1.2 meters – that’s how far away you have to be to get the object in focus. For small animals especially, you want to be as close as possible.
We had a running joke by the end about how many points each animal was worth spotting. If a leopard was worth 100 points, then a peacock was worth 5 points. You will be sick of seeing them by the end of safari. They are everywhere. But they are beautiful.
The males are the flamboyant ones, and have the stunning colorful plumes, and while mating season was over and they were losing their famous tail feathers, we did manage to spot one or two that had most of them left.
I even managed to bring a few feathers home with me (not from Yala) AND New Zealand customs let me keep them!
Use the radial filter to darken and blur outside of the subject to mimic the effect of using a high aperture.
With a bright red nose and long chubby bodies like ferrets, a mongoose is a curious, yet vicious creature. Watch out.
Dynamic range is the difference between the brighter and darker areas in a photo – different cameras have different dynamic ranges, but it’s something to take into account for wildlife photography. Oftentimes you have to decide between the bright sky or an object in the foreground. You can also moderately fix this in post processing using a graduated filter, especially if you are shooting with RAW files (which you should be).
It was so cool to see jackals in the wild. An animal I didn’t even know inhabited Sri Lanka, I was excited to see one skipping across the field one day while driving around.
It may seem obvious, but always have your camera ready to go in your lap while on safari, you’ll always be surprised by something!
9. Jungle fowl
Jungle Fowl, or a jungle chicken as I like to think of them, is the national bird of Sri Lanka. Bright and beautiful they are easy to spot and you’ll likely see a few of them. I love colorful creatures.
These types of animals allow you to go wild with the colors but be sure to not saturate too much, and be careful with the yellows. Oftentimes you need to play with the yellow shades in an image to have that perfect balance.
10. Monitor lizards
Again, monitor lizards are animals I don’t really want to see in any situation except for from a safari jeep. But as it turns out, I saw one or two enormous ones just basking on the side of the road and even underneath some of the fruit stalls. Um, no thank you.
With an animal as fast as a monitor lizard, it’s important to get the focal points right in camera. I was shooting this from a safari jeep on the side of the road in the shade and only had a few seconds. Since it was moving through the tall grass, I had to time it perfectly to capture its face between long blades of grass and to make sure I had his eyes in focus. I shoot with my back focus on and I have learned very quickly to move the focal points around with my finger to get them on his face.
Practice makes perfect.
Are you into wildlife travels and photography? What animals would you hope to spot on safari? Is Sri Lanka on your bucket list?
Many thanks to Adobe for helping with this post and allowing me to make my photos as perfect as possible. Like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own – like you could expect less from me!
The post Wildlife in Sri Lanka – expect the unexpected appeared first on Young Adventuress.
Also PSA guys – I’m speaking at the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival on July 2nd in Wanaka and July 9th in Queenstown if you’re around and want to hang – details here.
Guys, I am obsessed with autumn in New Zealand. Seriously, my love for it is unhealthy.
Actually, to be fair, I’m obsessed with autumn anywhere in the world. It’s my favorite time of year. Halloween. Crunchy leaves. Pumpkins. Bonfires. Colorful forests.
Ok, well not all of that happens in New Zealand, especially since fall happens around mid-April. Talk about confusing. But I digress.
I’ve made it my point now to stick around NZ during the autumn colors. I am lucky living in Wanaka which is in Central Otago, one of the few regions in New Zealand that actually experiences a fall and have trees that change color
Most of the native trees around New Zealand are evergreens, not deciduous, and don’t change color in autumn.
If you haven’t figured out by now, I’m a bit of a tree nerd. Tree hugger for life guys!
But beyond the colorful leaves I really enjoy autumn because of the change in weather. The nights get crisper, we start to have a few early morning frosts, though hopefully not before the harvest at the local vineyards. Central Otago is famous for its Pinot Noirs. Yum!
The days become shorter and the light becomes more beautiful. As the seasons change the weather becomes a bit wilder, and we often have crazy sunrises and sunsets that are less frequent in the calm summers.
We had a bit of a late autumn this year, with the colors starting to perk up at the end of April before a few gnarly windstorms took care of business.
Autumn thoughts from Chaplin Focus on Vimeo.
This autumn I spent quite a bit of time outside exploring and trying to make the most of the available adventures before the winter snows kick in. I’ve also been on a big kick to challenge myself creatively and try new things, and decided to make a video about why I love autumn.
And by make I mean convince my super talented Wanaka bestie Olya from Chaplin Focus to make a video about why I love autumn. Visual storytelling makes me so happy and I am hoping to include more videos like this on my blog this year!
I haven’t blogged much this past month as I have been overseas on the road so I thought I’d do a little visual recap of what I’ve been up to this fall, and perhaps inspire a few fellow autumnal lovers to think about booking a trip to this part of the world next April.
I have such a love/hate relationship with this tree in Wanaka
Fall was just starting to get underway when I went out on a 4WD tour around Wanaka with Ridgeline Safaris. This is one of my favorite ways to see the area because they take you up on private farmland and roads that you can’t access normally.
Plus its a new way to see the lake. It was one of those perfect early autumn days with a low cloud that burned off as the day heated up and the lake was like glass.
Crisp, clean and sunny, my favorite!
I celebrated living in Wanaka for 2 years (holy shit) by getting up at the crack of dawn and walking out to the Rob Roy Glacier. I did this walk when I first moved to Wanaka, and hadn’t been back since so it was time to change that.
While this isn’t particularly seasonal, there was a beautiful clear autumn night this fall in Wanaka with no moon and a pretty decent aurora display.
Down in the southern hemisphere we have the southern lights which you can see anytime of year. I follow along on the aurora forecast and boom, one night we had a perfect show.
Hanging out at the Blue Pools in the rain with my friend Eric Supertramp.
I also went out and hiked the mighty Kepler Track with Department of Conservation right at the beginning of autumn. A 3 to 4 day 60km hike, it’s one of New Zealand’s Great Walks and it quickly became my favorite walk in New Zealand. I can’t wait to go again.
It was amazing! More soon!
I had a crazy flu for a week this fall during the peak colors and couldn’t leave the house. But one morning while super feverish I got up to pee at night and looked up and saw the beginnings of an epic sunrise.
Without thinking I hopped into my car in my jammies and drove out to nearby Lake Hawea. Most epic sunrise ever.
Then i headed out to my beloved Canterbury for a couple of days of exploring around Christchurch, Akaroa, and the Waipara Valley for a food and wine expedition. The drive between Wanaka and Christchurch is one of my favorites in New Zealand, it’s so epic and I’ll head out whenever I get the chance.
It was a great couple of days exploring in perfect sunny weather.
How beautiful is Waipara?
The food at Roots in Lyttleton
Road tripping around Banks Peninsula
Visiting an alpaca farm on Banks Peninsula – Shamarra Alpacas
I seriously can’t wait to write about this soon, but just had to mention I spent a few days this fall over on the West Coast with Fox Glacier Guiding on their new Extreme Fox Heli Hike and spending the night up by the ice at the historic Chancellor Hut, and it was just amazing!
It was seriously the best two days I’ve had in New Zealand this year.
Finally, one of my favorite places to hang around and enjoy the autumn colors is in Arrowtown, a cute historic village between Wanaka and Queenstown.
But it’s not just my favorite autumn spot, it’s everyone’s favorite spot in April, and is super busy. It’s still beautiful though!
And this is where we filmed most of that video. Enjoy!
With my Canon Australia kit
Did you see our video? What did you think? Do you love autumn as much as me? Is it your favorite season too?
PS thank you Olya for so many of these great still shots of me! Legend!
Autumn thoughts from Chaplin Focus on Vimeo.
Also PSA guys – I’m speaking at the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival on July 2nd in Wanaka and July 9th in Queenstown if you’re around and want to hang – details here.
The post How much do I love autumn in New Zealand? appeared first on Young Adventuress.
I have been spending a lot of time reflecting my passions. As the years go by with this blog, I go through cycles of feeling lost, then finding direction and trying something new, to sticking with what I know works best. I’ve been in a bit of a creative rut for a while and am on the verge of yanking myself out of by going back to my roots and following my passions.
Oftentimes when I try to explain what I do, I don’t describe it well in normal terms. I don’t like saying I’m a blogger or a writer or a photographer. For a while I said “influencer” but then I thought that sounded really pretentious so I stopped that too. Cue existential crisis – what am I?
The more I think about it, the more I realize that I am a storyteller. Everything I share fundamentally interests me and piques my curiosity in a way that makes me want to share the story. Writing and photography are tools to help me make that happen.
I love storytelling, and I love being creative. I thrive on taking risks and stepping into the unknown and producing work that might inspire others to do the same. At the risk of sounding full of myself, I almost consider myself an artist. I think all photographers are artists in their own way.
So Adobe asked me what I am passionate about, and right now the answer is easy. I’m passionate about nature and wildlife and being able to share that story in a fun relatable way – something which has become inherently visual to me over the past few years. In fact, I think you can pinpoint my interest and love for photography to my passion for wildlife. My Instagram page is a perfect example. Since moving to New Zealand a few years ago, my passion for the outdoors and the natural world has skyrocketed, owing to the fairly obvious fact that I am now living in one of the last true paradises on earth – in my humble opinion.
Almost every photo I share on my blog and on my social media is processed in Lightroom and Photoshop, so the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan has become as inherent to my visual storytelling as my camera. So I’ve decided to sit down and share some of my best wildlife photography tips and ideas around my passions for storytelling and photography.
1. For the love of animals!
I think deep down in all of us, we have a love for nature and animals. How many people say they don’t love animals? None.
Given how spectacular it is to see wildlife in their natural habitat, it is no wonder that it’s so often is predominantly featured on our bucket lists and as part of our travel goals. Seeing lion cubs in Africa? Of course! Swimming with Whale Sharks in Mexico? How that is even a question? Seeing grizzlies in Yellowstone, gorillas in Uganda, koalas in Australia, penguins in Antarctica, polar bears in Canada. I mean come on, who could say no to that?
I think seeing wild animals is a great appeal to travel. And for me it certainly makes a good story. How can you begin to compare seeing a lion sleeping in a zoo with tracking a pride of wild lions on safari in Africa for 3 days before finally finding them as they are taking down a warthog?
Circle of liiiiiife!
I mean, the sound of a dying warthog is pretty much the worst thing ever and it’s something you can’t unhear. But, I will say that spectacular experience (with camera in hand) helps you share the story later, which is truly amazing. Being able to capture my passion for wildlife in such a stunning way is priceless.
2. Have the right gear for you
Despite what people say, there is no “right” camera. I don’t know who said this, but I always remember it, the best camera is the one you have with you. True story (more of my thoughts on gear). While I love Canon, I’ll shoot with whatever is in front of me. I have photos of crocodiles in Australia and selfies with Mongolian eagles with just my phone. I’ve used all sorts of different cameras and lenses over the years when shooting wildlife and I have only one piece of advice – get a good zoom.
Having a telephoto lens, I’m talking more than 70mm, is something I feel strongly about because I’ve seen too much bad behavior around wildlife regarding personal space. For example, in New Zealand there are signs all over the place telling you what distance to keep between you and animals like seals or penguins, but do people listen? Nope.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule, especially when you’re in the ocean. In general, I prefer to watch wildlife than engage with them.
If you have a good telephoto lens, then the distance doesn’t matter because you can safely take wildlife photos from far away. I use the Canon 70-300mm telephoto and it’s amazing. You’ll get the best, most natural photos if you respect their distance.
I wish I had this lens when I was attacked by monkeys in Bali and charged by an elephant in Sri Lanka (neither of which was my fault).
A 600mm lens is a little excessive but fun to play with
3. Practice and focus
Last year I invested in a portrait lens that I love to use on animals. Is that weird? Nevermind. It’s the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lens and I wish it was the first lens I ever used. It’s perfect to learn on. Because you can drop the aperture down to 1.4 (which is really big) and you can get the most beautiful portraits with stunning depth of field. This means that the face is really sharp and focused and the background is blurry with great bokeh effect.
In fact, if you are shooting at f/1.4 it’s so sharp that you have to focus on the eyes because the nose will blur a bit and vice versa. Learning to shoot focusing on the eyes is hard, especially with animals and takes practice – the details are always in the eyes. In fact, shooting wildlife in general takes practice because you have no control over their behavior and you have to be fast and prepared for anything.
So if you have any pets, practice taking their portraits. I’ve spent hours practicing with my new lens on my flatmate’s cat before I used it shooting the kakapo in New Zealand, as I knew I wouldn’t have much time with the birds and had to get it right. I reckon as a photographer, the hardest thing is getting the focus right so it’s a good idea to practice at home before hitting the road.
I see wildlife photography almost as an extension of portrait photography, except in this case the animals don’t listen to your tips and might eat you given half the chance. Not quite so different after all I guess.
While you can’t completely fix an out of focus image in post-processing, I still sharpen as much as I can in Lightroom while editing in the details panel. Normally I adjust the radius down in the details panel and sharpen. I also often play around with focusing and defocusing different parts of the image in order to draw attention to the subject by selective focusing. You just click the radial filter which you can create a circular or elliptical mask over a specific spot in your image. Then you can either sharpen, highlight, expose, etc. outside the filter to draw attention to the subject, or you can invert the mask and play around with the part of your image inside your photo. The same principle applies to using a graduated filter or a brush for certain areas, like the eyes.
4. Right place, right time and lots of patience
You can’t force wildlife photography – you’re interacting with wild animals, so that means being in the right place at the right time. Whether that means planning your trip around animal migration or making sure you have enough days in one place to ensure that you have a good chance of seeing something special, it’s up to you. Also make sure you’re prepared with all the equipment you might need including enough memory cards and batteries. You can never have too many batteries.
To me it seems like everyone is in a rush around the world nowadays. Just enjoy the experience. It’s not about getting the best photo of the lion the world has ever seen, it’s about the journey to that moment.
I’m going to be honest here, I don’t have heaps of patience in anything I do but wildlife photography has slowly been teaching me this lesson over the years, and I am so grateful. As I write this I am reminded of that photographer who spent three months sitting in a watering hole hoping to get a shot of the lions drinking. Wildlife photography goals. One day guys! In the meantime I’ll work on sitting still for a few hours waiting for a bird.
5. Be proactive and eager
Always take more photos than you mean too. Always. When you are out in the elements looking at the tiny screen on the back of your camera, it is really hard to tell what’s in focus, what isn’t, and if you have it composed how you want to, and if it’s properly exposed if you are in a harsh environment or if the animals are on the move.
I learned that on a safari in Africa and also bird watching in Australia. Even when I want to stop, I fire off a few more clicks of my camera. Sometimes I even go back another day if possible. Everything is changing, and wildlife photography is so unpredictable so it’s important to keep trying because even when you think you nailed the shot, you might not have or there’s an even better shot just around the corner.
If you are really passionate about wildlife, then it’s easy.
I already touched on this, but I think it’s really important to respect the animals in their environment. I shouldn’t have to say it but I feel like I do. We live in a world where people are obsessed with the right shot and perfection. Getting the perfect selfie or snapping the most amazing photos without considering the consequences.
Wild animals are wild animals and they deserve our respect in their territory. Apart from the fact that it can be really dangerous to get too close to them. Cough, cough all the people in New Zealand trying to pet baby seals – did you know seals carry a lot of different diseases, and if one bites you you’ll be hospitalized for months? We can also harm them if we try and get too close.
My friend Craig Parry is one of the most amazing underwater photographers I’ve ever seen. He does a lot of beautiful nature and wildlife photography in Australia and runs workshops in Tonga with the humpback whales every year. The way he interacts with wildlife is magical, and I remember him telling me about swimming with the whales and allowing them to come to him, giving them space and respect and time to adjust to his presence, until one time a mother literally brought a calf over to show him.
Moral of the story, let the animals come to you. Unless it’s a lion.
7. Post processing
In my opinion once you’ve taken a shot, only half the work is done. The rest happens at home in front of your computer as you perfect your masterpiece. I’ve been using the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography tools, Lightroom and Photoshop, for as long as I can remember, for me they are the only photo editing tools out there that matter. Nothing I post goes live without being worked on.
This goes back to the idea that photography is an art and all photographers are artists. My friend Trey Ratcliff told me that once. How you edit and how you frame a shot is unique and up to you. It’s your opportunity to add your voice to the story, show your interpretation of the work.
As the years go by I have found that quality over quantity matters, and I went from being able to edit a photo in a few minutes to spending hours or even days on one shot in Photoshop and Lightroom. I went from shooting JPGs to shooting RAW files (which you should too) and have constantly worked on improving my editing process.
While my editing process varies image to image it generally can be broken down into these basic steps and questions I go through in Lightroom.
- Adjust the horizon and crop as necessary, center the image and take into account how a subject is placed
- Adjust the white balance, if off
- Pull any highlights down, adjust shadows, exposure, contrast as needed, bump the clarity up a bit and any vibrance
- Adjust any specific colors within the shot (for me this is usually just desaturating the yellows)
- Sharpen as needed
- Spot removal if any visible dust spots in image or if anything needs to be removed, like dirt or marks
- Add any radial, brush or graduated filters to draw focus or correct specific areas in the image
8. Keep learning, be open
Just when I think I’ve learned it all, someone shows me something I never even thought about. So much of what I have learned has come from talking to other photographers, asking questions, trial and error, and watching video tutorials online, like Elia Locardi’s landscape course. Even now I still download courses and am always Googling photography tips and Lightroom tricks so I can keep getting better.
Be open-minded, be curious, follow your passions and keep learning new things and sharing your stories with the world.
What are you passionate about? Do you enjoy wildlife travels and photography? Have any other tips to share?
Many thanks to Adobe for helping with this post and allowing me to make my photos as perfect as possible. Like always I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own – like you could expect less from me!
The post 8 ways to improve your wildlife photography appeared first on Young Adventuress.
The more I travel and blog around the world, the more I have begun to realize that there’s this idea that it’s the dream job. At least that’s what everyone tells me when I open up about what I do. But you know what? After all these years, I think they are wrong.
Now, don’t get me wrong, being a full time travel blogger can be a dream job, but there’s a glitch in the system that nobody talks about. What happens when travel becomes your work?
Well let me tell you, it changes everything.
Now I am not enough of a hypocrite to stand here and say, MAN I wish I hadn’t quit my job to travel. Um yeah right.
Because 3 years later it is still one of the best decisions I’ve made. But I will say I was fixated on the glitz and glamor of this amazing life of travel that I had only heard about, and I wanted it. After these years I’ve realized just how hard it really is, how competitive, how challenging it is to actually make a real income from it, and I want people to know that and be prepared. You have to want it with every fiber of your being and be willing to risk failure and put it all on the line if you are going to make it in this industry. (More on our Travel Boot Camp in Sydney on June 18th here).
Because becoming a professional travel blogger or influencer isn’t your only ticket to having a life filled with travel. There are plenty of others ways to live abroad and travel the world without being a travel blogger or having a nice big fat trust fund. And there are plenty of ways to hack the system and make it happen.
The trick is finding a way to work overseas or better yet, to become location independent entirely.
A nice pretty buzz phrase that people toss around, isn’t it? Location independent. Digital nomad. Or if your my parents – being a backpacker bum around the world with no clear ambitions? Sigh, some things never change.
But after all these years I think it’s not a question of deciding between having a “real job” and having a “travel job” – when there is option C, perhaps the least obvious one – having a job that lets you have the flexibility to work anywhere in the world. As long as you have internet.
I think that’s the best way to make this life work. You want to live and travel the world? Why can’t you do it with a job. You just need to find the right job for you.
I’ve made a lot of friends around the world who are location independent with their work. They travel and spend a few months at a time in a new place, or they lease an apartment for a year somewhere or they just stay on the move living out of a backpack. Their travel is separate from their work. They spend their days exploring new places and their nights on their laptops or vice versa.
I have heaps of friends with this lifestyle, especially in Southeast Asia where the living is great and it’s cheap as hell (imagine earning a normal wage in the US and living on $400 a month like a king?). Or I have friends that teach English overseas, or work jobs where they work month on month off and then travel on that time off. I know people that travel hack their way to free flights around the world and couch surf or housesit for free accommodation. Hell, I did this for years until I could live off my blog.
If you want to travel more than 10 paid vacation days per year, trust me, it’s not only possible, it’s not that hard if you set your mind to it.
I think it’s a mistake these days to inundate the interwebs about lucrative ways to quit your job to travel. Why is it fair to assume that what works for one person will work for everyone, and is it just me, or is it really fucking pretentious to tell people how to live their lives? I hate it when people do it to me, so I imagine I am not the only one that feels this way.
What I want to do is to show people that there is an in between in all of this. You don’t have to quit your job just rethink how you work if you dream about having this location independent lifestyle.
There are ways to make it work. Here’s one way to help you make it happen.
Meet the Paradise Pack
This week The Paradise Pack goes on sale for 90% off. This only happens once a year with different products, and it ends on June 6th. Time to get moving.
A collection of online courses and tools to help you become location independent and build a life of travel that will help you be able to live and work anywhere in the world, the Paradise Pack contains dozens of courses, educational products and tools to make that happen. It’s worth over $2500 and it’s on sale for one week only for $197. If you play your cards right, you can earn it back immediately.
If you have been wanting to travel more and don’t know how to make it happen without just working, saving and quitting and you’re looking for a different option – NOW IS YOUR CHANCE.
Some of the courses offered will teach you how to learn a language in 3 months, build a travel business, become a freelance writer, learn affiliate marketing, converting your blog into a business, how to land a book deal, and fly around the world for super cheap, and heaps more.
I’ve already bought my pack so I can keep growing and expanding my business and continue to learn and try new things, and you can too.
One of the reasons I’ve become as successful as I have is because I’m always trying to learn by reading about new tactics to watching video tutorials to signing up for courses online, it’s all about being proactive. Investing in the Paradise Pack is the first step towards following your travel goals if that’s what you’re after.
This year I am all about trying new business tactics and dreaming really big. A few of these courses I know will help me get there by teaching me new skills that I don’t already know (hello book deal!) and will continue helping me on my goal to become location independent for the next few years.
And since many of these courses and products are worth over $197 just on their own, it makes sense to buy a pack (though I wish I had known sooner, to be honest, because I already bought one of them!).
The Paradise Pack sale ends on June 6th at midnight PST then it’s gone forever, so now is the time to join me in learning new ways of learning how to become location independent.
PS some of the links in here are affiliate links that help foot the bills. Cheers!
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