Although it’s not part of the typical banana pancake backpacker trail of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, the Philippines is an amazing country that absolutely deserves to be on every traveler’s bucket list. However, with over 7000 islands offering endless opportunities to suit just about everyone, it’s a bit hard to know where to start when you want to plan a trip to this still-exotic Southeast Asian destination.
I spent just over two weeks traveling solo through this epic place, and while this wasn’t nearly enough time to fully explore such a diverse country, I did manage to have an amazing trip packed with adventure. I found the Filipinos to be some of the friendliest locals I’ve met, the country easy to navigate, the natural world truly spectacular, and the cost of travel to be very budget-friendly. Keep reading to check out my itinerary, travel highlights, and top recommendations!
Packing isn't my favourite part of preparing for a trip. I want to have everything I need, but also really dislike to overpack and get stuck carrying around excess stuff. To make matters more complicated, I often visit multiple countries in one trip, or need quite a bit of practical equipment for my adventures. Last month, for example, I went to Morocco to ride horses on an epic camping trip, plus had astopover in Dubai to go camel trekking, and also a total of 6 days of transit to travel to and from a tiny Thai island to a small town in Morocco. I needed my riding gear, camping equipment, photography stuff, plus clothes and toiletries for this two week trip. I definitely wanted to travel light, and knew I'd be unpacking and repacking daily as we moved campsites from one bit of Moroccan wilderness to another.
Fortunately, I think my packing list was just right! I had everything I needed for each aspect of the trip, and my checked bag weighed in at under 12kg! While I realize this trip is pretty specialized, the packing list applies to other travels, too. I'll be bringing almost the exact same things for my upcoming journey back to Africa, where I'll be spending a month trekking, camping, and on a horseback safari(!!). Check it out to see what I packed, and find details on some of my favourite travel and outdoor gear!
I’ve been drawn to go to Morocco since I first started dreaming of faraway lands. It was exotic, mysterious, and I really didn't know much about it, other than that I wanted to go. Over the years, Morocco evolved into an increasingly popular tourist destination; eventually, each time I scrolled through my Instagram feed, I would see photos of travel bloggers in pretty dresses, posing in front of gorgeous tiles and colourful markets. The perfect shots reminded me of my long-held desire to explore this mysterious country, but I still wasn’t sure what I would actually do once there. I knew I wanted to get out of the cities, explore the natural world, and have an adventure, rather than a photoshoot.
I found my ideal Moroccan experience while browsing the horseback holidays at Equitours, a travel agency that focuses solely on equine escapes, and who I had previously booked several excellent European riding trips with. The week-long ride would be a 230km loop, starting in the resort town of Agadir, crossing the foot of the Anti-Atlas mountains through to the silver-crafting town of Tiznit, then circling back to Agadir via the Atlantic coast. The riders would be mounted on strong, willing, endurance-trained Arab Berber horses. The trip profile specified only advanced riders should consider the ride, due to the fast pace, long hours in the saddle, and the sometimes challenging terrain. Additionally, it was a rustic adventure; riders would camp out in the Moroccan wilderness overnight.
I’d found my dream trip. As much as I love trekking, diving, road-tripping and island-hopping, my absolute favourite way to explore a new land is definitely on the back of a horse. Riding gives me a sense of freedom and connection to the natural world that is truly without comparison. Combining the ride with a camping trip was the ultimate combo; there’s really nowhere I'd rather be after a long day of riding than sleeping under the stars next to the horses.
The trip was scheduled for a time when I could be away from work for a short while, but as I researched flights I realized the journey was extremely inconvenient; it would take a total of 8 flights and almost 6 days for me to get to, and return from, a little Moroccan town that was actually a very long way from the tiny Thai island on which I live. The transit time meant it would not be reasonable to go to Morocco for only a week… but it would be possible, which is all that is needed to make a dream come true…
For some reason (that still remains a mystery to me), when I first looked into going to Morocco for a week-long horseback camping trip, I assumed it would be a fairly straightforward journey from the tiny Thai island on which I live. Once I actually researched my flight options, I realized that in fact it would take four flights over three days to get from Koh Tao to Agadir, the starting point for my riding trip. Basically, I’d spend almost as much time traveling to and from Morocco as on the actual expedition. By the time I came to this conclusion, however, I had emotionally committed to the trip and wasn’t going to let anything like reason or logic get in the way of my equine adventure.
Most of the excessive travel time was due to awkwardly timed flights; I was going to have to stay overnight in Malaysia, as well as Dubai. Fortunately, I was able to arrange my Emirates flights to spend the bulk of my outbound connection time in Dubai, taking advantage of the free tourist visa and stopover offered by Emirates for tourists who want to check out this Middle Eastern metropolis. I was going to have 18 hours in Dubai; from 13:20 to 07:25… so, what to do?
One of my 2017 travel highlights was definitely my week-long road trip down the Great Ocean Road, from Adelaide to Melbourne. To be honest, Australia hadn't even really been top of my travel list, and initially I was just going to stop by on my way to Fiji. But, I knew I had the chance to see Australia's iconic 12 Apostles, and I'd heard the Great Ocean Road was legendary, so when an Australian friend offered to loan us her custom van, my girlfriend and I jumped at the chance to take this epic roadtrip. It turned out to be an incredible experience, and so I thought I'd share some of my top tips for making the most of this adventure.
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