Australia · Courtney's Travel Tips & Tricks · Europe · Lifestyle · New Zealand · North America · South America · South Pacific / Australasia

Dear Captain Planet Generation…we are failing

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Captain Planet….if you grew up in the 90’s you would remember him and the Planeteers (Kwame, Wheeler, Linka, Gi & Ma-Ti anybody?). These guys were the reason six year old me understood environmental disasters & devastating destruction long before I ever learnt it in school! We were the generation they were after, they were talking to us – we were going to be the ones to turn it all around.

Except…Did you know that since 1993, we have lost an area of ‘unspoilt’ places twice the size of Alaska? Or that humans have destroyed a tenth of Earth’s remaining wilderness in the last 25 years?

With ecosystems being lost there is no ability to reverse the damage and although there is still approximately 30m sq. km of wilderness across the globe, that only equates to 23% of the world’s land mass. In saying that a large portion of this is Australia’s deserts and western woodlands.

For those of us in Australia, our environmental movement really hit its peak in the eighties and the Australian Labor Party began capitalising on national conservation and soil conservation.

We are incredibly fortunate in that Australia has over 6000 Landcare and Coastcare groups nationwide. We are respectful of climate change, sustainability, animal protection and of course environmental care as a whole.

As we continue to experience the effects of the damage we have caused to our beautiful planet, a sustainable economy is more important than ever. We need to live within our means and try to use natural assets rather than depleting them and work to bring pollution to a level that our environment can actually handle, rather than damage it beyond repair.

Sadly, Australia is surprisingly one of the lease sustainable countries in the world. The AEGN confirmed that we as a nation have an ecological footprint which is 2.8 times the work average & our carbon emissions are four times the world average.

So how do we, as Generation Y try to give back to the environment which is home? How do we respect and care for all of the beautiful places which has given us land, rain, clean water, incredible ecosystems, animals, fresh air and healthy oceans (AEGN, 2018)?

Our oceans have the highest marine biodiversity in the world and our native plants and animals are found only here, in Australia. Along without carbon footprint and carbon emissions we have the highest rate of animal extinction and our extreme and dangerous weather events are increasing each year. Whilst there is natural attrition, we humans are responsible for almost all of the damage.

The AEGN is working hard to provide marine sanctuaries, to stop large-scale land clearing, to set up wind and solar farms and provide education around climate change, to protect biodiversity and restore land and to advocate for the proper use and protection of our fresh water supplies. We rely on grants and groups to get this done. So how can you help? Well, have a look at the following tips which I either follow or will begin following and see how you go. I would also love to hear what you do, let’s be the generation Captain Planet thought we would be and step up to the challenge of protecting Earth for the next generation.

  • Walk & bike to local destinations, rather than taking your car
  • Use a refillable water bottle and avoid buying/using plastic water bottles. Did you know that there are 370 million bottles going to waste every year & that these will take over 400 years to break down (ProAcqua, 2014). Australia’s use of bottled water generates 60,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year!
  • Dry your clothes using a clothes-horse or clothesline instead of using your dryer (these bad boys are one of the biggest energy-sucking appliances in your home).
  • Use a keep-cup for your coffee (it is estimated that Australians use 1 billion disposable coffee cups each year. That’s 2.7 million paper cups thrown out every day! (University of Melbourne, 2018).
  • Use reusable bags when you do your groceries (Greenpeace found that Australians use over 9.7 billion single-use plastic bags annually) (Greenpeace, 2017).
  • Use cold water for your washing machine
  • Unplug your electronics at night to stop them using electricity
  • Use digital documents and avoid print-outs
  • RECYCLE, recycle, recycle (the average Australian produces 1.5 tonnes of waste per year and much of this is avoidable!) (Greenpeace, 2014).
  • Buy products with the Energy Rating which is high, this is a mandatory scheme for most appliances and the higher the star-rating the better the appliance (Australian Government, 2013).
  • Adopt a water conservation strategy (fix your taps, use a water-saving shower head, keep your tap water in a bottle in the fridge, use your washing machine when you have a full load and on cold, install a water tank, don’t overwater your lawn etc.,) (Nature Australia, 2018).

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post. I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

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x C x

Australia · Courtney's Travel Tips & Tricks

Brisbane Heritage Trails <3

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The Kookaburra Queen has been cruising the Brisbane River since 1986.

When you travel the world, you often do things you may not think to do at home. I find I walk a lot more when I am travelling, I explore on foot, I  like to find the best places to explore, the history of my location etc. When I found my Husband was exactly the same, it makes for fun adventures. We both love getting up early, smashing breakfast and heading out for the day with camera + backpack and a loose idea on where we are going and what we are in search of.

So what would happen when we tried to do the same thing back home in Brisbane? Walking was normally a source of exercise at home, also – what was there to explore in Brisbane?

It turns out there is a LOT! The Brisbane City Council has many Heritage Trails which they have put together, they are free and excellent resources which you can download and access offline (perfect for a free walking adventure!). There are 18 different heritage walking trails across our beautiful Brisbane. The two which we have done recently are the Classic City Centre Heritage trail and the Reflections on the River Trail.

Naldham HouseMy preference is to walk the trails, it is a fun way to get some exercise and get a good feel for the city, if you aren’t keen on walking – there are plenty of public transport options around the city which you may prefer. The reflections on the river trail starts at Customs House, weaves through to the City Botanic Hardens through to QUT Gardens Point Campus and then over to the Coal Wharves of Southbank. We then finished at Southbank. The beauty of this trail is that you can end in Southbank to a plethora of food options!

We took a backpack, some cash for coffee along the way, a couple of water bottles and apples and good walking shoes. We must have walked a good 10,000 steps by the end of it and really, the entire day only cost our coffees and our lunch we had over at Southbank – not a necessary expense, it was just something we shouted ourselves on the day.

It is possible to ‘do things’ in Brisbane without having a large budget to play with and it saves staying at home weekend and you can walk away with new found knowledge of our beautiful city!

Honestly, i cannot recommend doing this enough, you will walk away with a newfound appreciation for your city as well as knowledge you did not have before!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see!

Please note, I am not paid any sponsorships at all, I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

x C x

Australia · Courtney's Travel Tips & Tricks

Mount Coot-tha, Brisbane

IMG_9501Brisbane is Queensland’s beloved river city, our suburbs and city trail along the brown snake from Moreton Bay inland for a distance of 344km. It is also no secret that I am a die-hard Brisbane river fan (much to my Husband’s confusion).

So today, we did something different, we ventured from the river and headed up the very beautiful Mount Coot-tha, which is 287m above sea-level and has beautiful panoramic views of Brisbane.

Mount Coot-tha was originally home to the Turrbal Aboriginal people and whose name derives from the aboriginal word for honey kuta. There is a rich history of logging, goldmining and military.

It is only 7km from Brisbane CBD and there are many free activities up there, for all ages. There is also the Summit restaurant which is quite lovely (although pricey).

The last time I was at Mount Coot-tha, one of my girlfriends Meagan and I had ventured to the Summit track, which is a beautiful 2km hiking (easy) trail near the lookout area.  There is a selection of sixty-six different walking trails in the Mount Coot-tha area, for all fitness levels and ages. You will normally see hundreds of runners, hikers and cyclists training up and down the area – given its cycle hill training 10km loop (so please take care driving!).

On Sunday, we decided to take advantage of the rain-free weekend (Brissie has been a bit soggy lately!) and headed off for a cost-free morning (aside from our Sunday-morning coffees – because, Sunday).

It only took 15-20 minutes for us to drive from Balmoral to Mount Coot-tha and although parking is limited, you are usually able to find a parking spot a bit further down the road. There are also buses and if you are feeling athletic, it is a really popular walk there and back!

For a list of the Mount Coot-tha tracks – click here.

Once you head back down the hill you will find the Botanic Gardens (again, free entry) and the entire grounds are just beautifully manicured and filled with something for everybody.

If you are looking for a free day out, then do as we did and pack a backpack, some water bottles, your hat, sun cream and even a picnic – there are plenty of picnic areas to visit and head off for the day!

Please remember to stick to the walking tracks, only use the designated trails, keep your dogs on a leash, don’t litter, no fires, clean up after your pets and don’t interfere with the flora and fauna.

Enjoy!

x C x

 

Australia · Courtney's Travel Tips & Tricks · Europe

My 2009 Europe Adventure – at 23

My first solo overseas adventure – naïve, unprepared and a little shell-shocked

Brisbane – London

When I was 23 I had my first overseas adventure. I would love to say I packed a backpack and travelled the world for 12 months, coming back a hardened and seasoned traveller, with empty pockets and a head full of memories.

The last two are true (ridiculous actually) but the first part was a dream which quickly fell to the wayside. My mother basically insinuated that I would be locked in a room if I attempted my solo backpacking trip to South America. So at her requests (read: demands) I was booked on a three week Contiki journey around Europe. I know that sounds terrible (I am sure there are some intense eye rolls happening right now along with “that’s not travel!”).

I disagree though, I packed a bag and went overseas. That’s travel. We need to stop judging each other on our journey’s, the way we judge pain or experience or loss or achievement. It is all relative, who are we to judge others? Some people go overseas and volunteer and sleep rough, that’s amazing. Some people travel luxury and never leave the resorts in the countries they visit, that’s amazing. Some people hitchhike, that’s dangerously amazing. Some people go on a different Contiki each year that is also amazing. Travel is travel, as long as you come home with some awareness of how fortunate you are for being able to travel and you don’t behave like an over-privileged and insensitive jerk, then good on you!

So, back to my Contiki. Regardless of this being an organised tour with one of the world’s most popular tour companies, this trip was something I set off on alone. I had never travelled to Europe, did not speak any other language and the longest flight I had been on was around five hours. I had been to NZ, but really that is just ‘crossing the ditch’, so the journey is still less than it is to fly from the east to west coast here in Australia.

My trip was from London to London, a 21-day adventure took me from London to Paris, Lucerne, the French Riviera, Florence, Rome, Venice, the Austrian Tyrol, Munich, Vienna, Prague, Amsterdam and back to London.

I bought my flights only a couple of months before departure, flying from Brisbane to London, I flew Emirates with stops in Singapore and Dubai. The trip itself (door to door) took around thirty hours. I made the mistake of not getting off the plane to stretch my legs in Singapore and in Dubai I only had time to run from the plane, to the toilet, to my next plane. When I arrived in London, I felt like my head was spinning, I had lost all track of time, realised I had left home without a phone (in 2009 I just didn’t think I needed one?) and caught a shuttle bus into London.

I arrived at the Royal National Hotel in London which has a 3.3/5 star rating on google, but in 2009 it probably would have been 2 stars, if it was lucky. When I made my booking, I had zero idea that I had been booked into a hostel/share-room type situation. I arrived quite late and by the time I was given a swipe card which gave me access to my room (x3 visits back and forth to the front desk with my gigantic pink suitcase in tow), I went into my room, saw the two beds in the dark, saw a suitcase unpacked near the door and actually though I had been given the wrong room. Nope. I was in a share room. Weird, why did I not know that before?

I was so rattled that I just climbed into bed and made zero attempts to let my family know I had A) arrived in London; and B) was okay. Jet-lagged as I was, I was beyond excited to be somewhere else other than Australia, I was in LONDON!

So, first day in London. Woke up, got dressed and went for a wander. Found a delicious little eatery called Giraffe in Bloomsbury (which is still there if you can believe it!) and tucked into a gigantic English style breakfast. Once I had eaten I realised that I should probably find some way to let my Mum know that I was okay (seriously, 23 – can you be any more ridiculous?!), I went to the Contiki Basement back near the hotel and sent a few emails, checked Facebook – you know the usual activities.

I had been booked into the hotel for three nights, so I spent the day wandering around and doing my own thing. Later that afternoon I met up with another Brisbane girl who was booked for the same tour and we made a plan to explore the next day. It was a really weird holding space, waiting for your tour to begin, it was both comforting and limiting spending the first amount of tie with someone from your home town (was this the travel experience I was looking for?). We ended up having an amazing day – we walked from our hotel, down to Big Ben, across Westminster Bridge, down to the London Bridge and back again. It was a really lovely day out, sun shining, beautiful weather and a really nice intro to beautiful London.

We had our tour group meeting that night and as at 6am the next morning we were on the road!

Now – if you are thinking about your first trip overseas, on your own and you’re late-teens /early twenties I have some (probably super obvious) advice for you! This may seem ridiculous but this actually happened and if anything it should give you a laugh:

  • When you are travelling overseas, take a phone or something you can communicate with people through. Checking into Facebook 48 hours after you left home, is not the loving contact your parents are after;
  • When you pack your bag and you are happy with what you have, remove 2/3rds of it. Seriously, you do not need it;
  • Make some attempt of learning basic phrases of another language. Hello, goodbye, please, thank you, toilet, how much? This WILL make your life easier;
  • Have some currency on you. I know this seems really obvious but in 2009 I was kind of just winging it. Learn from my mistake;
  • Have some idea as to where you are staying and if someone will also be in the same room.
  • Pack more than just thongs and runners. This is not enough footwear. Not at all.
  • Pack a wallet or a purse. Again this is so obvious it is cringe-worthy.

Do you remember you first trip? Did you do anything ridiculously naïve like me?

x C x

Courtney's Travel Tips & Tricks

5 Ways I Save Money for a Holiday

I have been fortunate enough to travel many times in my twenties, travel which has not occurred on credit. It may not work for everybody, but for those of you who would rather take trips and not come home to whopping big credit card bills, then these are my following tips.

pexels-photo-164497.jpeg1. Work out how much you need, the ‘B’ word….BUDGET!

Prepare your budget. Get an idea of where you need to go and what you want to do. Start researching flights, hotels, transit and spending money costs. If you are after daily spending tips, then I cannot recommend Lonely Planet enough! Find blogs, connect with people on instagram or Pinterest or Facebook and start asking questions. Overestimate your budget, add another 20% to it and that is a really good starting point.

IMG_82912. Cut-up your credit cards, buy a jar of coffee to take to work, cancel your social engagements and sign-up to Netflix…GO TO GROUND!

For me, in the last 6-8 months before I go on a large journey, I go to ground. I pretty much use my gym as my social life. Start making sacrifices where you can (and where you are comfortable doing so). The way I save for a holiday is not for everybody, it is strict. I do all of my meal prep on Sunday’s for the week. I stop buying coffee, no more social life. I ask for my family and friends to donate some money to my travel fund for Christmas and Birthday’s – rather than gifts. I sell things I don’t need. For instance, I sold a pair of earrings, the iPod we used once at our wedding and a couple if items of clothing I no longer needed – with that money I bought my husband a GoPro – this was his Christmas present and the perfect present for the trip.

pexels-photo-891252.jpeg3. Commit to your savings needs, make it work – REMAIN FOCUSSED!

Unless you have pretty rotten work ethic, then showing up to work Monday-Friday is not negotiable. This needs to be the same with your preparation and your savings. This is your commitment. If you have committed to save 30% of your income each time your pay hits your bank, then make it happen. Do not deviate. It is hard, you will get annoyed but when you are on holiday it will all be worth it!

pexels-photo-296878.jpeg4. Open those Google browsers, get savvy and RESEARCH!

We live in an age where there are multiple irritating (just me?) ads on t.v each day from various travel websites. I won’t name them, but the general idea behind them is they will compare the price of where you are looking at staying and basically this will result in you having the best price. This is fantastic if you are not much into researching for hours (I definitely am, because I am no longer socialising or going out because I am saving all of my cash!). However, if I can – I highly recommend you go one step further. Contact the places you are looking at staying directly, I would say eight times out of ten, I will get it for cheaper.

Honeymoon 245. Do not get yourself into years of future trouble with your expenses – BE REALISTIC!

If you are not able to afford 5-star hotels, fine dining, private cars and VIP services when travelling, then you may need to just re-set your expectations. At the end of the day, you have to live within your means. Did you know that 70.19% of Australians currently own a credit card, and that at the end of 2016 there was over $56,000,000 debt in the country from credit cards?! That figure is insane and it quickly becomes unmanageable. It is not realistic to put yourself into further debt, just to travel the world, when you can probably afford your destinations making a few cuts or changes. If you are looking at a quick or cheap getaway and you are not fussed about where you are going then look somewhere locally. If you are on the East Coast of Australia then you have Fiji, Vanuatu, New Zealand and Noumea. Bali and Thailand are also really popular. These will be your cheapest options (aside from some domestic travel).

Finally – ENJOY YOURSELF! Don’t worry about bringing money home from your trip, spend it! If that is the money you have been saving to treat yourself overseas, then spend it. Buy something you don’t need, go to the restaurant you have been following for six months on Instagram!

If you want any tips or have any comments at all, I would be more than happy to share them with you – please just send me an email, or comment on here, you can find me on Facebook and Instagram as well!

Happy Saving

x C x