The troubles of travel. Do you have what it takes?

Thanks to social media and mobile phones, it’s easy to see the glam side of travel. But what you don’t usually see or hear about are the downsides. And although there are many beautiful positives, there are of course many downsides to choosing a life out of a backpack! 


So in my 32nd country and new home of Mexico, I present to you my 3 main pros and cons of travel:

Lack of connection to life back home vs a connection to the world 

Although it’s easier than ever before to sit down in front of your laptop and see your mum from the other side of the world, the connection and life from back home is definitely lost and missed whilst travelling. Being around your friends and family is completely different to constantly being surrounded by strangers and new people. While you’re planning your next trip around the world alone and what backpack to live from, your friends are growing up, settling down with partners, children and in homes for life. Life doesn’t stop back at home and the daily conversation and closeness to the people that I love is one of the only things I miss while I’m away. 

However, you do gain a whole new connection to the world and countries you travel to and people you meet along the way. People change your life and ways of thinking on a daily basis (as well as the few the completely test you!) which is amazing, and inspiring and so worth missing a Sunday dinner or drink down the pub for a while!


The constant need for adventure vs the absence of normality

My last three years in London was the most settled I’d been in a long time and it still wasn’t very settled with a summer in Asia and three house moves! But I loved my routine of work, uni and social life. And it was something I really took for granted before I travelled. It’s a lovely feeling being settled and having a routine, knowing what you’ll be doing next week and having an unpacked room with all your belongings in it. It’s normality that you miss whilst travelling. The ease of being able to pop down to costa for a coffee or doing a food shop in Morrisons, and the little things like a proper duvet and going to the fridge for food! (Lol that my main normalities revolve around bed and food). And then the big things like a monthly pay and regular income…!

But during these days I’d find myself longing to get on a plane again. I loved my life in London but the need to see a new city or two, to be around more exciting and inspiring people, the need to try something new always takes over my need for normality. And so again, I venture across unknown streets and into new shops for cups of coffee. I walk the streets listening to people speaking unknown words and wonder what will happen today. Whether it’s excitingly life-changing   or completely bad luck, every day brings something and someone new which is worth the risk surely?


Wanting to go home VS never giving up

We all have bad days but it’s the home comforts and people around you that always seem to make things better. So, when you’re travelling, all these bad things are quite literally more complicated and harder (because you’re a million miles away!) and always feel 10x worse. Losing my debit cards and camera was tough, inconvenient and gutting, and being ill whilst away is incredibly testing too. Honestly, some days, all you want to do is give up, book that flight home and run into the arms of mum and dad. But at the end of the day, all that’s really lost is a few objects and a few days in bed which could happen back at home too. The experiences and memories that I’ve gained trump my GoPro pictures any day. And alongside that, it makes you realise what’s important, makes you 10x stronger and so much more independent. So, if you can get through these times with a smile on your face and the determination to keep going then guys, you’re smashing it! 

People rarely tell you that loss is a fundamental part of travelling. You’ll experience feelings of loss of normality, chances of love and settling down, opportunities of a normal 9-5 paid career. You’ll feel lost, alone and question what on earth you’re doing. But you’ll find new ways of living, loving and working. You’ll never get the experiences of travel by never leaving your doorstep. And so far, through all the tests and difficulties that I’ve faced, I’ve learned that it’s always worth the risk. 



Catch up with my adventures here on instagram @vanishamay

Thanks for reading guys!

Vanisha

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Here’s what’s wrong with volunteering…

As my life is about to take a huge turn in the right direction with the start of my career and voluntary work beginning this month, I can’t help but think, in a world that is desperate for volunteers why voluntary work seems to be only for the few and not for everybody? What’s the problem with volunteering? Why me? And why not you?

Luckily, a few years ago I finally realised my passion and the main things that I want to do with my life. My purpose in life is to help people, to help improve lives and to fight for justice, human rights and alongside those with no voices. So, obviously, I love talking about it, about aid, crisis, the news, and the world and all of the people in it. And naturally people tend to give pretty positive responses but among the questions and shock some say..

“That’s so amazing! I can’t believe you’re doing it unpaid!”

“Wow I don’t know how you do it!”

“Is that safe? Should you be doing that?”

“Ooh I could never do that. Only few people like you can!”

“How do you have the time? Shouldn’t you be actually working?”

Err well, you could do it! I don’t have the money! I make the time! Is crossing the road always safe? Which got me more thinking about the bigger question; why aren’t more people volunteering? What is the big issue surrounding helping those in need? People back at home (from my experiences in England) have all these excuses as to why they can’t volunteer. And some are fair enough, people work long days, have families, busy schedules. But if you can find the time for the gym every day, a cinema date once a month or even a night out every weekend, then guess what? You already have time to volunteer. 

Volunteering is like a taboo word that makes people run away and shut their doors. But why? Volunteering can be literally anything for as many hours in the year as you want it to be. It’s fully flexible with tons of options! And you’re helping the world! Bonus.

You could volunteer by helping the homeless for the day, by helping conservation and caring for turtles in the Caribbean for two weeks, you can work some hours at the local animal sanctuary, spend 30 minutes on the phone at the Good Samaritans or even protect women from violence in India for months on end. There’s literally something for everybody! So now what’s the excuse?

For an hour in your day or a week in your year, forget safety, forget time and forget money. Being human is being selfless. If everybody gave a little something back and spent time with those more in need, then already the world would be a better place. And of course we can all take time out of our days to spare some kindness, love and humanity. 

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote everyday about the kind of community that you want to live in.”

So what kind of world do you want to live in? Choose to help, choose to change the world and choose to volunteer! 


Here are some websites and a list of voluntary options: 

Redcross – http://www.redcross.org.uk/Get-involved/Volunteer

 • Shelter – https://england.shelter.org.uk/support_us/volunteer

 • Food bank – https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-involved/volunteer/ 

 • Good Samaritans – https://www.samaritans.org/volunteer-us

 • Original volunteers – http://www.originalvolunteers.co.uk/

 • GVI – https://www.gvi.co.uk/

 • HelpX – https://www.helpx.net/

 • Workaway – https://www.workaway.info/

 • Mision Mexico – http://lovelifehope.com/

Thanks again for reading guys!

Remember to follow me and my travel adventures here on instagram @vanishamay

Vanisha 

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frida kahlo vogue art

Who is Frida Kahlo?

You all know her face, the famous monobrow and her colourful headdresses, but do you know who she is? Why is her face worldwide? Who is the woman behind the art and the woman behind the selfies? Who is Frida Kahlo?

 

Feeling recently inspired after watching the movie ‘Frida’ and visiting her home and museum in Mexico City, I want to share a few facts about this real life wonder woman and why I love Frida Kahlo!

 

Frida Kahlo was born in Mexico in 1907. Fighting for change in the revolution and being unapologetically herself, Frida is now an inspiration to the people of Mexico as well as the women of the world. Her face features in fashion, her art is sold for millions and her words have reached thousands. Frida Kahlo is an incredible human for so many reasons, and little did she know that her life experiences and social commitments would relate to people all over the globe!

 

Frida and Gender

Frida was well known for her eccentric style and embraced her femininity through fashion including mixes of traditional Mexican garments. However, Frida also challenged gender stereotypes on the reg. From wearing big, colourful dresses and flowers in her hair to wearing suits, competing in tequila challenges and refusing to rid her (now famous) monobrow and moustache. Frida defied what it meant to be male or female and was truly a one-of-a-kind of her time.

Frida Kahlo painting

Frida and Sexuality

Even today (big thanks to Salma Hayek and the movie on Netflix) people talk about Frida’s relationships and her sexuality, especially with her husband Diego. Her boldness and colourful love for life and people was completely apparent in her sexuality. Although Diego was known to be quite the womaniser (including affairs with Frida’s sister) Frida was not so innocent herself and was also known to indulge in multiple love affairs but with a twist. Frida had a love for both men and women making her actions and behaviour fearless, bold and completely inspiring. And also, a predominant LGBT icon!

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Frida Fighting for Change

Yet another reason why Frida was extraordinary was because of her determination and fight for life. Despite suffering from polio when she was younger which led to disabilities and surviving a near-fatal accident, which horrifically pained her for the rest of her life and ruined her chances of reproducing, Frida still insisted on living life to the fullest and this was represented in her social fight in the revolution, contributions to society and her promotion for peace in Mexico.

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Frida’s Art

Her art depicts her realities and pains that she felt from her own life experiences. They were raw, honest and full of emotion but so real and full of beauty. Frida painted mostly self-portraits featuring taboo topics like abortion and miscarriages. She’s the original selfie queen! Because of her art, people are drawn to her. You can really feel the heartache and frustrations that she felt through life in her paintings and drawings.

So, now you know that Frida Kahlo is not only just a pretty face, but that she is an artist, feminist and revolutionary who has inspired millions including me.

 

  • You can visit La Casa Azul in Mexico City and see the home of Diego and Frida, as well as learning more about their lives from the museum. The nearest metro station is Coyoaćan and is only 5 pesos for one journey from any location. Entrance can be pricey but if you have a student ID it’s about 1/3 of the price which is handy and totally worth it. The place was magical.
La Casa Azul
Me at La Casa Azul

You can follow me in Mexico on my Instagram @vanishamay 😊

Thanks for reading guys!

Vanisha

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Are you eating brunch wrong? This is how best friends should brunch according to Instagram…

As much as I love the advancement of social media and technology, the downsides and superficial images you find on platforms like Instagram can be especially damaging. For young people and those growing up around fitness personalities and girls on flamingo pool blow ups, you have to step back and question, are these people for real? 

It’s all fun and games if you’re fully aware but how ridiculous and damaging can some posts be? This one in particular made me think…

With over 2,000 likes on this picture alone and 20,800 followers, this girl has insta-famous sussed to a T. She travels, she’s beautiful and she looks like she’s living the dream life! I love looking at feeds like hers that are full of travel and inspiration but this picture baffles me. What exactly is it saying?

• That best friends should brunch topless?

• Ah best friends should brunch standing up?

• Best friends should brunch after a photo shoot and after poses around their brunch food?

• Best friends should have no actual room for a plate on their table

• Best friends should share one glass of champagne (lol never)

• Best friends should brunch with 6 plates of food in front of them then assuming hours at the gym because as far as I’m aware, you can’t have your cake and eat it, and be in such good shape still. 

• Best friends should then post all of the above on to social media


I don’t know. Maybe it’s all a bit of fun but the amount of people writing ‘goals’ in the comments makes me wonder how many people think this is seriously real life and achievable. Are we able to distinguish between reality and a photo-shoot, Photoshop and set-up shots? Are we aware of what’s authentic? Would they be eating brunch like that without Instagram? Would we be the same people without social media?

Am I overthinking things? Or am I eating brunch wrong?

Let me know what you think about the use of social media, being authentic and any experiences/thoughts you might have!

Thanks for reading guys!

Have a good day

Vanisha

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Follow my South American adventures on Instagram @vanishamay and travel related blogs in the travel section 🙂 

Think you aren’t lucky enough to travel? Think again…

For those that know me, travel is a huge part of my life. There’s not many countries that I would not want to visit, and I’ve been fortunate enough to live, backpack and holiday in 25 different countries so far. But since the countdown for my next adventure has started, I’ve heard this a lot….

“How can you do that?! You’re SO lucky! I could never do that”

This is my main bug. It’s not a big bug, but still a bug. It’s not luck based. It’s choice. My main adventures started as soon as I started working, because as a child, we rarely had family holidays abroad, and I couldn’t wait to see more of the world. I have no savings, I’ve always paid rent, I have only just got my driving license, I don’t own property, and the things that I do own, are all through my own money. So when people say “you’re so lucky, you get to travel”, actually, I work really hard for it, it’s just that my priorities are different and therefore I book plane tickets instead of buying new trainers (which is completely fine too, it’s just preference, not luck). I love my life, and wouldn’t have it any other way. But guys, you can do it too, if you really wanted to….

Anyway, this was partly inspired by this lovely little read….

“Did you know, you can quit your job, you can leave university? You aren’t legally required to have a degree, it’s a social pressure and expectation, not the law, and no one is holding a gun to your head. You can sell your house, you can give up your apartment, you can even sell your vehicle, and your things that are mostly unnecessary. You can see the world on a minimum wage salary, despite the persisting myth, you do not need a high paying job. You can leave your friends (if they’re true friends they’ll forgive you, and you’ll still be friends) and make new ones on the road. You can leave your family. You can depart from your hometown, your country, your culture, and everything you know. You can sacrifice. You can give up your $5.00 a cup morning coffee, you can give up air conditioning, frequent consumption of new products. You can give up eating out at restaurants and prepare affordable meals at home, and eat the leftovers too, instead of throwing them away. You can give up cable TV, Internet even. This list is endless. You can sacrifice climbing up in the hierarchy of careers. You can buck tradition and others’ expectations of you. You can triumph over your fears, by conquering your mind. You can take risks. And most of all, you can travel. You just don’t want it enough. You want a degree or a well-paying job or to stay in your comfort zone more. This is fine, if it’s what your heart desires most, but please don’t envy me and tell me you can’t travel. You’re not in a famine, in a desert, in a third world country, with five malnourished children to feed. You probably live in a first world country. You have a roof over your head, and food on your plate. You probably own luxuries like a cellphone and a computer. You can afford the $3.00 a night guest houses of India, the $0.10 fresh baked breakfasts of Morocco, because if you can afford to live in a first world country, you can certainly afford to travel in third world countries, you can probably even afford to travel in a first world country. So please say to me, “I want to travel, but other things are more important to me and I’m putting them first”, not, “I’m dying to travel, but I can’t”, because I have yet to have someone say they can’t, who truly can’t. You can, however, only live once, and for me, the enrichment of the soul that comes from seeing the world is worth more than a degree that could bring me in a bigger paycheck, or material wealth, or pleasing society. Of course, you must choose for yourself, follow your heart’s truest desires, but know that you can travel, you’re only making excuses for why you can’t. And if it makes any difference, I have never met anyone who has quit their job, left school, given up their life at home, to see the world, and regretted it. None. Only people who have grown old and regretted never traveling, who have regretted focusing too much on money and superficial success, who have realised too late that there is so much more to living than this.”

Wunderkammer: Did You Know From <http://vanishamay.tumblr.com/>

And although I don’t agree with everything there, and I’m not saying that it’s an easy choice, or as simple, but ultimately, if you’re reading this, you have the choice to travel if you wanted to

Happy Thursday you lot!

V

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Are you an Insta-sham? The negative side to social media.

So, in the last week, thoughts around social media, and especially Instagram, have consumed my brain almost entirely (other than my pooey dissertation!). And after lots of discussion, and changes in my own social media accounts, I feel like I’ve reached some sort of conclusion in my brain and annoyingly, my eyes are even more open about social media and its role in society. This is my ridiculous battle with instagram...

 

I can’t lie, social media is amazing, and finally after all these years of meaningless use, I’m finding my own ways to use individual platforms to raise awareness about issues that are important to me, things that help educate, and also entertain, but in a more thoughtful and strategic way, and in a way that might benefit me, or hopefully someone else. And there’s no rules in this, social media is completely up to the individual who uses whatever platform, to do whatever on it. You decide it all. But do you? With Instagram, I’m having a real issue about all this.

 

Over the weekend, I realised that I had gone Instagram crazy. I was suddenly brainwashed, consumed and obsessing over an app. Who am I following? How many likes does this picture have? I wonder who’s stalking my profile? (which apparently, there’s an app for) Who’s following me? Who’s not following me? Erm, is this girl dating my ex?! How did she get so many likes?! And how did she get that body?! Maybe it’s them fitness pages? Hmm, let me check them out. And, how has this fitness guy got so many followers? Maybe it’s because he’s topless in ALL his posts. Hmm, I’ll let that one slide. Wait. Hold up. Stop. WHY DO I CARE AND WHAT ON EARTH AM I DOING?!

 

Then I realised I had wasted half my night on a stupid app, doing stupid shit that I actually do not care about. And so, to detox my mind, I deleted my whole account. Then made a new one like five days later….

 

It’s so unhealthy, and as a sociologist especially, I’m fully aware of it all. But it’s so dangerous that so many people are not. And even for me, I get so caught up in it still! There’s so many types of pressure and ideas about how we should live our lives and what they should look like through brands and personalities on an app. It’s silly. There’s a whole generation growing up in the world of social media, and being accepted through followers, and self-esteem boosted by likes, by numbers, by strangers. It’s a sad reality.

 

There’s a fine line between posting something for yourself, for your business, for your own personal aim and growth, and posting something for likes and for attention. And it’s so easy to forget that for so many ‘instagram famous’ people, their posts are not fully representative of their real lives but actually “a finished product” (quote by my gal Becca, oi oiii) after staged situations and hair and make up teams and photographers and photoshop and so much other shizz. Shots of travel couples in the Bahamas, and egg on avocados on toast, and yoga girls doing the lotus on a mountain top, are all nice to look at but are tiny little snippets of someone’s life portrayed through filters. Which I guess is why it’s so important not to get too sucked up into it.

 

You can use instagram however you like, but why are you doing it? Who are you doing it for? What’s your point? Is it healthy?

 

In 10 years time, are you gonna be okay if your children find your instagram? If your mum saw it tomorrow, then how would that go? I guess it’s about asking yourself how you want to be portrayed and the kind of people you want to communicate with. It’s about authenticity. Because in a few years time, when a new app comes along, are you gonna be the same person without an app like instagram?

 

If ya want more, take a look at these similar things….

http://elitedaily.com/life/culture/x-pro-ii-valencia-instagram-choose-neither/614571/

Have a good day!

Where’s our humanity? Time to get Syria-ous.

“Human life is human life whether it is in the east or west or north or south. Perhaps it is difficult to imagine the suffering of others if it is not happening in our own backyards. If it’s not our skies lit with flames. If it is not our sleep shaken awake by bombs instead of alarm clocks. Death is death and pain is pain no matter where in the world it is felt.” – Rupi Kaur.

 

This is my first angry rant-y blog. And it’s a pretty deep one so this is your heads up. The war on Syria and the refugee crisis breaks my heart daily, due to the fact that nothing is changing and the situation is becoming more desperate by the day. It’s the greatest humanitarian failure of this century. The recent chemical attacks have killed 89 people, including children, and the death count is rising. This is a war crime, a crime against humanity, on every level, completely wrong.

 

Two weeks ago, my Facebook feed was filled with people from this country who suddenly had a voice and an opinion on the   attack in London that left five dead. So let’s hear you now? Where are the Facebook posts and flags? These people have no safety checks through Facebook unlike the handful of people who were marking themselves safe even days after the event in London, even when they lived nowhere near the event, and even though they were obviously safe. How self-important are you? And how shameful for Facebook to even create such a mockery out of a serious incident. Let’s be realistic here for everyone marking themselves safe and thinking that it’s relevant when the police would have contacted your family so much sooner than Facebook realising there was an incident, creating a safety check button, then you realising there was an incident, going on to Facebook, checking yourself in, then your loved ones seeing it saying “aw thank god they’ve checked in because I had no idea otherwise”. I think it’s full disrespect for the people who were actually affected, and just a joke to make people feel like they could ‘get involved’ in some way.

 

I’m so sick of seeing this war on my feed then looking at the privilege, greed and wealth around this country and others in the West. I’m so sick of people telling me how kind I am or how much of a good heart I have, when you’re completely capable of being the same kind of person too. It really makes me laugh, what’s stopping you from caring too? Or is it that you just don’t?

I’ve woken up today angry and sick of the laziness and just general lack of care. What are our priorities? What do we really care about? I don’t believe that anyone in this country is too busy to volunteer, or too skint to donate money when they party twice a week and buy Starbucks every morning. Where is our humanity?

 

Now, I’m fully aware that single-handedly, I can’t change the world, but I know that in years to come, we’ll look back on these times and feel great shame and regret for all the things we could have done and all the times we could have tried.

I’m not sure what my point exactly here is, but I guess I have a lot of hope. Hope that we can change our ways of thinking and start to show responsibility and activism for people who are helpless, desperate and who have no platform to raise their voices. I hope for everyone to have the right to life like we do, lives full of opportunity, have achievable dreams and full safety, away from fear, danger and harm.

 

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvellous victory.

A Power Governments Cannot Suppress, p. 270. Howard Zinn

 

Here’s what you can do today….

  • Watch the white helmets on Netflix. It’s an amazing documentary that shows the reality of the Syrian war and the humanity and absolute love of those helping and saving lives.
  • Sign this petition on Amnesty International to encourage the UN to take further action against the war crimes:

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions/demand-justice-victims-syria-idlib-chemical-gas-attack

  • Educate yourselves and donate to any of these organisations:

http://www.iamsyria.org/take-action.html

https://www.whitehelmets.org/en

https://www.unicef.org.uk/donate/syria/?gclid=Cj0KEQjwzpfHBRC1iIaL78Ol-eIBEiQAdZPVKo77wnE0ekCwLCfl1vFlhngtZt8qPdACPezEUPqL7HgaAjBu8P8HAQ&sissr=1

  • Fight racism and the fear of refugees. Educate yourselves, raise awareness and open your minds, arms and hearts.

 

Thanks for reading my rant,

Be kind, be thoughtful and have hope!

And have a wonderful day!

V

It’s kind of a funny story….

For those that know me, will know how much I hate the idea of blogs, and how much I rant about them…yet here I am, writing a blog.

Earlier on this week I found myself in a huge pickle (not literally, euw?!). I was reading a blog about something that is extremely close to my heart and it lacked real argument, was poorly written and left me feeling deflated about the hopes of our future and the subject matter.

As a student in my last year of university, it’s really hard for me to read things that lack facts and proper literacy. Although, this is what blogging is all about, right? It can be as informal or formal as the blogger wishes, it can be opinion, it can be a rant, it can be completely professional, and anyone can do it. Blogging definitely has its pros and cons.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s amazing that anyone can pick up their laptop, write a page about their day and inspire people all over the world. Blogging is amazing for connecting with others, inspiring others and just generally sharing experiences and stories. If you have the time and commitment, writing a blog can be self-satisfying and something you do, just for yourself!

I think the thing I struggled with was reading something that isn’t just about the breakfast I ate that morning or where my outfit that I wore last Friday was from, but something that I have real knowledge and passion about. And this is when I thought, well if anyone can write about this and people are reading it, imagine writing something with actual knowledge and spreading that real awareness and truth with strangers all over the world?!

Which is why I’m here! I’m a walking contradiction and I’m starting a blog…..

I hope to write about all my passions and interests, including travel, international development, social issues, gender equality and poverty, as well as a bit about my everyday thoughts and rants I guess!  Fully aware that this blog is one of millions but I hope whoever is reading this that you’ll learn a little and enjoy reading my posts.

Have a good day everyone 🙂

Vanisha

xox

(And below is my little face somewhere in Asia last summer!)

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