5 Tips for Traveling with a Mental Illness

Quickie disclaimer before I begin: I am not a doctor, and this article is not intended to replace or replicate professional health advice. If you are concerned about your mental (or physical) health, always seek out a doctor! Also, this article does not cover the entire range of the mental health spectrum. This is more of a general guide for the more common aspects of it.

1. Don’t travel to escape your mental health

I realise that a travel guide with the words ‘don’t travel’ in it might seem a bit of an odd way to start, but the problem with literally running away to escape your problems is, it doesn’t work if your own brain is the problem.

Although the new scenery and little bubble you can create for yourself will make you feel amazing at first, your anxiety, depression and racing thoughts about failure will absolutely catch up with you if the root cause is unknown or unresolved.

Travel is a great way to improve and control your mental health, but is not a means to escape or cure it. You can take medications to most countries, so get yourself set up before you go.

2. Have a list of local crisis lines, websites, apps, etc

If you’ve travelled thousands of miles away from home, at some point you’re going to feel a little overwhelmed. You’re living in a dorm with nine other people. You haven’t been alone in literally weeks. You’re mentally exhausted. There’s too much noise, too many things to plan, too much everything.

Take a breath. Before you travel, having a list of local of reachable services – even if it’s just a chatroom where you can get grounded and talk to people – could be a literal lifesaver for you.

3. Prioritize (and take) your medication!

Some countries, have restrictions or outright bans on widely available western medications due to their ingredients.

Instead of dropping your medication in favour of visiting that country, ditch the country. At least for now. Deciding to toss your medication in the bin in favour of a week’s vacation can be absolutely catastrophic, especially if you’ve been on a high dosage for a long time.

Remember, you’re out there to enjoy yourself, not to descend into a pit of uncontrollable depression because you’re body is in severe withdrawal. Prioritize your medication, and always take your medication. It’s easy to forget what time it is, so set an alarm to remind you.

4. Stand still, stay silent

Travelling is exhausting. If you suffer with anxiety or any kind of condition that involves sensory overload, being in a bustling city, an overnight bus, or a busy dorm room or whatever 24/7 is going to drain your battery faster than anything else.

If you’re hostel-hopping to save money, consider booking private rooms once in a while. They’re still half the cost of your average hotel, but you still get to indulge in that cool, friendly environment hostels tend to have, when you feel up to it.

(By the way, unrelated – the title for this tip came from a great webcomic I enjoy reading of the same name)

5. Know your limits, and respect them

Depending on your mental illness and its severity, you may need extra help to get through your day. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it should be considered if you want to go travelling solo for six months. Will you have them within reach? Can you go home if you need to?

Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with pushing your comfort boundaries (I encourage it, even), but if your mental illness makes you prone to rash, crazy decisions, decide responsibly whether you can trust yourself to make hard decisions that could get you hurt on your own.

Again, there’s no shame in requiring the help. Half the battle is simply admitting to it, the other half is accepting it.

House Update: It’s On the Market!

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have already heard about this – but I am excited to announce that my house has been on the market now for around three weeks! I am indescribably excited about this, because it means that things are officially moving forward.

So far we’ve had 29 viewings, if you count the one happening tomorrow. We’ve had no offers yet, which is highly disappointing, but it brings me relief to know it’s simply because the people in question are, in a word, cheapskates, and want a renovated house for the £150,000 (the cost of a fully renovated home with a driveway would go for £200,000 on my street).

We’ve had our fair share of drama in the last two weeks, though, because of course no house sale would be complete without a little unnecessary stress sprinkled on top.

Firstly, it took them two weeks of the house being up for sale for them to put the ‘For Sale’ sign in our garden. Cue many excuses about having e-mailed X and Y but nobody responding, etc.

The first open house we had, someone stole some Allen Keys from my bedroom (which were specially shaped to take apart the bed later on), which we were of course furious about because it’s so violating, regardless of how cheap the item was.

The third viewing, a man walked into my living room and tore a huge patch of wallpaper off my wall ‘to see what the wall underneath looked like’. You can see the damage, I was furious when I saw it:

The top of the paper was peeling a little, so apparently they saw that as an excuse to just shred the lot of it!?

Couple that with people tramping mud and grass all over my carpets (I don’t expect them to remove their shows, but seriously, the doormat is there for a reason, please wipe your feet when you go into someone else’s home!) and you’ve got one stressed out Scout!

That being said, it is not all doom and gloom. We had a viewing on Tuesday that was rather promising.

There is a lovely family who seem very interested. The lady said she loved the house, and wanted it, she just wanted to work out some modernization costs. She also had the impression the house was up for £20,000 more than what it actually was, which left her pleasantly surprised when we corrected her.

So right now, it’s all in a stage of “we’ll have to wait and see.” For me, it’s the worst part, because these things can linger on for the longest time before someone turns around and decides they’re not so interested after all.

However, it could also mean a sale in the near future. I am trying not to count my eggs before they hatch, or get too excited, but it is extremely difficult. I’ve been working towards this for eight months almost every single day.

It’s real, guys. It’s not just talk any more. Steps are being taken, and I thank you for sticking with me this entire time and coming on the whole adventure with me!

5 Tips for the ‘Fat Backpacker’

Being fat is never a comfortable situation. If you say you’re trying to lose weight, you’re judged every time you eat more than a meager salad. If you say you’re wholly confident in your weight, you’re judged for being careless about your body.

So what do you do?

Firstly, I don’t skirt around my words when talking about stuff like this. I don’t use the words curvy, plus-sized, ample-bodied. Fat, I say fat. Currently, I am fat. If you’re reading this, you may well also be fat. It’s okay, no judgement. So this advice is as much for me as it is for anyone else.

1. Lose weight

Sorry. I’m not about to recommend that you embrace your unhealthy body on purpose because it’s easier than being a little thinner!

If you’re truly happy in your body and have absolutely no confidence or health issues whatsoever, then… well, you wouldn’t be reading this article. So I am going to assume you’re secretly a bit conscious about it. I won’t tell anyone, don’t worry.

Losing weight benefits your mental health, body and even your budget. It’s not about simply eating less, it’s about eating right. People lose weight when they travel because they eat way less carbohydrates, grain-based foods and general sugary/savory snacks. They also tend to drink more plain water, which is the key ingredient to weight loss, hands down.

It’s simply easier, and every time I travel I lose weight, every time I am home for years at a time it piles on, because I eat from boredom.

Losing weight before you go will help you feel better, especially if you’re going to a hot, humid country. Chub-rub is real, and if your skin is anything like mine, it hurts a lot. It’s hard, but it’s possible. I am in this process myself right now, and it’s nice to see some weight loss in my face, if nowhere else.

2. Expect comments. A lot of comments.

If you’re going to places like Eastern Europe or South East Asia, where the populous is typically thin, you’re going to be quite the commodity.

A friend of mine – a six foot three, 364lb hulk of a man was once approached by a group of Japanese tourists. They wanted a photo with him because he was so hilariously gargantuan to them, they just had to show everyone at home.

It really upset him, and worse, he had to shout and shove his hand right in their faces to stop before they got the message.

If you’re wondering how to deal with this, see tip number 1: lose weight.

3. Prepare for the chub-rub before you go

Even if you’re not fat, you might experience chub-rub. Chafing. Sweat rash. Swamp-ass. Whatever you choose to call it in whatever part of your body you find it. It happens to us all.

In massively humid countries, you’re going to step off that air-conditioned plane, and feel like you’re turning into Slimer from Ghostbusters. Using a good deodorant stick or something like Body Glide is a must for those of us not blessed with a thigh gap you can park a bus in.

(By the way, Body Glide do a ‘For Her’ version that’s almost £5 more expensive. Just get the unisex one they’re almost exactly the same.)

4. Pick your bras carefully

This one goes alongside the chub-rub. Underboob sweat is only perpetuated by a bad bra, and can leave you feeling nothing short of itchy and in agony, not to mention you’ll have a nasty thick rash for days on end.

Opting for a non-underwire bra, compression bra or even a sports bra made of good materials is a great way to feel supported whilst also not sweating yourself to an early grave. And for the love of god do not sleep in your bra in hot countries!

By all means, reserve that sexy push up for your nights out, but in the day, function over fashion prevails!

Sweat rash can actually bleed if it gets bad enough, and boob skin is very thin, so take care of yourselves! The last thing you want is to get an infection.

5. At some point you have to face your flab

Even if you’re planning on losing weight, you may not be able to lose it all before you go, and at some point – especially in hot climates – trying to cover up every inch that you’re embarrassed about is going to become a chore.

Eventually, you’re going to need a bathing suit, or at least a tank top and shorts. You’re going to have to show those wobbly bits that you obsessively hide back home.

Whilst I’m not suggesting you put on a string bikini and frolic down the beach, take off that t-shirt. Opt for the shorter skirt on hotter days. You can always wear a kaftan (a wonderful way to wear baggy clothing whilst still looking fabulous) if you want to cover without the heat build-up.

Let’s Talk About Twitch

Before I go into the post – you can stay updated by signing up to my monthly mailing list! I don’t spam, nor do I sell/trade your info! Sign up in the sidebar to the right!

Since my rebrand launch announcement, this blog sat in ‘coming soon’ mode for a further four weeks before I released it to the public. There were many reasons for this, the most obvious being that it simply wasn’t ready yet, and also because I wanted to announce The Director Must Die by name before opening the blog, since it’s mentioned quite a lot throughout.

Anyway, along with the overhaul of my brand, name and whatnot in general, I’m also launching a brand new Twitch channel. Today, I want to talk about what you can expect to see on that channel!

Streams will be from 10am “local” time onwards, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Although I am sure I won’t be able to stick to it every single day, the idea is, if I am going to do one of these things, it will be on these days, and I will strive to do them as often as possible.

MOURNDAY: On Mondays, I aim to seek out old buildings, historical sites, museums, art galleries, cool graveyards, and other places. Travelling is all about experiencing not only present culture, but the past, too. So let’s do that!

CHEWSDAY: On these days, I will be seeking out cool snacks, markets, restaurants and food stalls to try interesting foods. Whilst I can’t promise I’ll be wolfing down deep fried testicles, or sauteed cockroaches, I will try to keep things interesting!

THIRSTDAY: I wanted to ensure that one day per week my streams were relaxed, chill and afforded me the chance to just sit and talk with my community, without the interruptions of traffic, people and sightseeing. On this day I just find a nice place to eat, have a few afternoon drinks, and just hang out.

FRIGHTDAY: Quite possibly my favourite day of the week, on this day we’ll find potentially haunted or spooky places to do some ghost hunting! I’ll be armed with two types of EVP device, and if Streamlabs allows for it, I’ll have some spooky alerts on this day, too!

On a separate note, this is where/when you’ll find my other content:

  • Whilst there won’t be a video every Wednesday, when I upload a video blog, clip highlight video or whatever to YouTube, this will be the day it’s released.
  • I’m taking the blog to the next step, and I’m going to work hard on it. Blog posts, if you haven’t noticed already, will be twice a week (Wednesday and Sunday). Eventually I will be aiming for three posts per week, but I want to make that move gradually, and only if I have time.
  • The Director Must Die, my webcomic, is launched on 31st May 2019!
  • My mailing list goes out once a month, and contains a general summary of anything you might have missed, as well as exclusive offers for downloadable content!

5 Unusual Tips for Female Travellers

As a woman, you will have heard the obvious safety tips when travelling, such as don’t go out alone at night, and always tell someone where you’ll be.

The truth is, these snippets of advice are useful for anyone. I’ve been travelling alone (first time in 2007 and 2008), and from this and extra research I’ve done, I wanted to give five tips for women that aren’t usually given on travel blogs.

1. Keep your TMI to yourself

I know that we’re all strong, independent women who don’t flinch at the word ‘tampon’, and joke about our periods loudly and publicly, as if we’re talking about baking a cake.

But in many parts of the world, a period is seen as a private – and even shameful – affair, and as much as you might want to stomp down the patriarchy and shout about your uterus until the cow’s come home, kindly refrain.

By all means, discuss it with your bunk-mates, or chat on Twitter about it. But try to bear in mind that when you travel, you are not the centre of everyone’s universe, and they likely don’t want to be eating a snack whilst listening to your graphic tales of uterine shedding, that weird combo of diarrhea and constipation, and your animalistic monthly craving for snu-snu.

2. Be prepared to be groped … by women

As women, we’re indoctrinated to believe that if we go anywhere alone, men everywhere want to touch us, harass us or worse. The truth is – and I’ve experienced this both at home, and when travelling myself – women are way more likely to ignore your personal boundaries and grab ‘the girls’ than any man in the room.

If you’re an ample-chested girl (like myself), you’re absolutely going to get flat-chested people coming up to you, giving them a good squeeze and wishing to the heavens they had your cup size.

By all means, frigging take them, they hurt my neck to carry around anyway.

3. You don’t have to be cute all the time!

I know, ladies, I know. We all want to be that Instagram-ready person, snapping glowing selfies, and always wearing something bohemian, chic, and adorable. The truth is most of us look like perspiring buffalo when we’re in humid climates, and trying to maintain your ‘face’ 24/7 is exhausting, and unnecessary.

Of course, I’m not telling you not to wear make up, or cute dresses, or that adorable sunhat you found at a market. I’m just saying that you’re on vacation, not on stage. You can let your hair down, wear that t-shirt you haven’t washed in a questionable number of days and just not care once in a while. Nobody is going to mind.

4. No means no – so SAY no!

This is something I’ve always been rather strict on. If no means no, then maybe must mean maybe, and yes means yes. In which case, if you’re approach by a flirty man trying to buy you drinks, tell him ‘no thank you’ in no uncertain terms that you are not interested.

You will be surprised how many will simply apologize or just leave without a further word. Most people only keep pushing you because they legitimately believe you’re playing ‘hard to get’ and like to be chased, since this is something many women enjoy.

I want to be clear: it is never okay to touch or encroach on anyone without their permission. Even when it has been given or implied, anyone is within their rights to say ‘no, I want to stop’. This applies to men, women and everyone else.

However, some people need a flat-out ‘no’ to understand that you’re not interested.

A ‘maybe some other time’ gives them hope that indeed, some other time, you’ll be interested.

A fake phone number might have been an accident, so they come back for the ‘right’ one.

A pause of uncertainty makes them think you’re considering their offer.

Anything but ‘no’ can give them a hope you don’t necessarily want to give. If you mean no, say no. If they still persist, get yourself somewhere safe, and keep saying no – shout it, if required. Most people are friendly and want to help. They won’t let someone harass you if you can’t get rid of them yourself.

5. You’ll be terrified, and it’ll be liberating as f*ck

The first time I ever travelled on my own, I had no idea what I was doing. I’d read all the horror stories, I’d watched Hostel perhaps one too many times, and I was utterly convinced that I had to play some kind of super-safe game in order to not get everything stolen, including my organs.

What I found, however, was that people do not care that you’re a woman. You’re not treated differently in most places and the one time I did have a French chap stop his car to come and talk to me at a bus stop, I simply spoke to him in English until he realized I couldn’t understand him, and he walked away with a stroppy look on his face.

He did not want to hurt me, he just wanted to chat me up. Most people are harmless and it’s in their best interests to treat you like as much of a human as anyone else. The horror stories you read in the paper are the exception to the rule.

Be scared, but get over it. You’re living the best possible life you can live, right now. Enjoy it!

New Blog!

If you’ve been following my Twitter account, you’ll have seen the announcement by now that I have launched a whole new set of branding, which will accompany a whole new set of projects that I hope to get off the ground in the coming months.

I can’t explain (although I shall try) how nervous and excited I am about finally being able to launch the Scoutside project. I’ve been sitting on it, tweaking it, and improving it for several months and I finally became comfortable enough with where I’m at to let it fly free and see what happens.

There will be more announcements in the coming weeks, including a mailing list, a Patreon with some very cool rewards, and more.

With the coupled reveal of the first piece of art from my ‘Super Secret Project’, I am releasing all of the things and I can’t believe it’s happening at all. For anyone who missed the promo art reveal the other day, here’s the image (for a bigger, better version, see Twitter):

5th May Edit: This project has since been revealed as my upcoming webcomic ‘The Director Must Die’!

I revealed all of these over the space of a few weeks, and the next stage of promo art (with the title! No more #SuperSecretProject nonsense!) are being drawn and rolled out as I type this.

I actually feel as if I can really make this whole big project (the travel, blog, comic, stream, etc) work. Like, really work. I’ve learned more than I could write in a single post these past few weeks, and some of that has meant admitting my preconceptions were very wrong in places.

I’ve no other updates to give right now, save for two small things:

Firstly, blog updates will now be twice a week, on Wednesday and Sunday. The usual ‘what’s happening in my life’ post will drop on Sunday, and on Wednesday I plan to drop a more travel-related post. Once I actually begin travelling, Sundays will be posts about my travels, whilst Wednesdays will be any reviews, recommendations and other more business-minded things.

Secondly, we got the house valued on 25th April, and shortly after they came back to take some photographs of the house. I guess it’s only a matter of time before we actually sell? Good lord, that’s legitimately terrifying.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a to-do list longer than Rapunzel’s hair to get through in order to stay on top of things. Have a great (what’s left of the) weekend, folks.

Edit 5th May: The post above was, of course, written and scheduled in advance, so I should add that we had an open house this weekend, where 22 people came to look around. We’re just waiting on offers or, if required, a second open house!

I’ll be moving this blog, soon!

Hey everyone, apologies about the lack of updates recently. As I mentioned in a recent post, I had a bit of a hiccup with getting access to this blog a few weeks back, and it caused a delay in the post schedule. Couple that with the fact I have been working (on my freelance transcription stuff) quite a lot lately, my free time, or time for my own personal projects, has been severely limited.

I am hoping, in the next couple of weeks, to get myself a little bit more organized, and get on with a few things that seem to have fallen by the wayside, of late.

I had full intentions of launching my Super Secret Project (not the real name, of course, just the colloquial term I’ve been using on my Twitter) in June, but it’s almost April and I am quite decidedly not ready, so this will almost definitely have to be pushed back until at least August.

Travel plans (and all the other things that come along with it, such as streaming), as you know, are delayed. Hopefully not by more than a couple of months; my sister and I are going to continue clearing out the house in the next 3-4 weeks, the next time she is free. We are so close I can smell the airplane food, but I have to be patient, there.

I have also begun writing a new novel. I have no real deadlines for this book, but the sooner I get the first draft written, the sooner I can actually begin setting deadlines for myself.

Speaking of novels, I have also withdrawn Waffles from sale, because I want to get it a proper publisher, so I am taking steps towards that. Apologies to anyone who was hoping to snag a copy, but I can’t have a public copy whilst trying to find an agent.

Anyway, onto the meat of this post. I am soon purchasing a domain name that fits with the new branding I’ll be going by, and exporting/importing everything from this blog over there, which means there might be another week or three of downtime while I set up my theme, and make sure everything is working.

Naturally I’ll make a post here with adequate links once it’s happened, so watch this space. I can’t wait until this blog can look a bit prettier. I plan to keep the theme quite simplistic still, but there’ll be proper graphics, and more blog categories to go along with some intended content later on.

Have a good weekend, all!

Pre-Emptive

Recently, I went through the Big Clear Out, where I would safely say that I stored, sold, gave away or disposed of a good 90% of my belongings, keeping near me only the absolute bare minimum that I objectively needed in my life.

My first lesson from this new adventure I’m approaching in life is this: don’t give away all of your eggs, because you may require one or two of them to hatch.

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A Bizzare Lockout

Since I began this blog in September 2018, I’ve been posting every single week without a single mishap or missed schedule. You may notice that, last Monday, there wasn’t a post.

This was because, while I (thankfully) had enough of a buffer for it not to cause a huge problem, WordPress kind of glitched on me to the point it locked me out of my blog for at least three or four weeks.

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My Favourite Travel Movies, Media & Books

Since updates on my travel preparations are limited to how far along my house is cleared right now, I figured I would spare you and talk about all the wonderful media that fuels my fire when it comes to travelling.

You probably already know about The Beach by now, so I’ll leave that out of this list, since it doesn’t need mentioning at this point!

This list is in no particular order beyond the order I thought them up in.

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