Make 2017 the year that you change with this free draw

Make 2017 the year that you change with this free draw

How would you feel with greater self-esteem?

Would you like to believe in yourself and your own abilities again?

Would you like the confidence to travel the world or to stand up in the office and make that presentation or to go and see that show in the theatre on your own or …….basically to do anything that scares you?

To celebrate the start of a brand new year I am giving one lucky person a place on the Smash the Pumpkin Project which is worth £997 absolutely FREE!!

Make 2017 the year that you change

To be in with a chance of winning simply:

1 – Join our Smash the Pumpkin Facebook Tribe – this is where the live draw will take place!

2 – Enter your name and email into this link –

3 – Like and Share this post.

So, what will the lucky winner receive?

  • Free enrolment in the Smash the Pumpkin Project. You will receive challenges and activities all carefully designed to lead you out of your comfort zone and to build your self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • Regular contact and support throughout the length of the programme.
  • Motivation as you learn to trust in yourself whilst your self-esteem grows
  • Guidance along your journey without any toe-curling embarrassment

You will have EVERYTHING you need to achieve the results you long for in 2017 because we’ve got everything covered.

The winner will be drawn live on January 8th, so don’t forget to join the group so that I can tag you if you win! It’s as easy as 1 2 3!

This draw is limited to the first 1000 people who enter so don’t delay – and good luck.

I look forward to welcoming you to the group and I’ll see you there on the 8th January.

And me?  What stories am I planning to bring you in 2017?

I will tell you about my time in Cambodia, Singapore and Malaysia as well as my epic road trip around the south of Spain and I am hoping to visit Myanmar and Bali.  I would love it if this were the year that I could experience the Northern Lights and even Japan.

And to think, that before I set off on my own to Peru I had dreadfully low self confidence and self esteem.  If you want to boost yours, then don’t forget to sign up for this free draw – you just have a few days

Have a very happy and healthy 2017


Top 10 Travel Tips from Scarlet Jones Travels

Top 10 Travel Tips from Scarlet Jones Travels

…or what you will learn when you travel with me!

Join me on one of my 1 to 1 fully accompanied tours and you will experience so much more than a holiday.  We will get under the skin of a region or a country but you will learn much, much more.  During your trip we will have some great fun and I can let you into the secrets of my Top 10 Travel Tips.

Travel with me

If you want a holiday but you don’t want to travel solo or if you don’t fancy a group tour then come with me. I will be your travel buddy.

Top 10 Travel Tips - Nice

Travel with me

Some of the following tips  will be more relevant if you want to join me on my Beginner’s Backpacking trip (such as surviving a dormitory) but as we travel together, who knows; maybe I can inspire you to up your happiness levels to a whole new sphere and persuade you to go backpacking next time!

Find out more about my personalised tours at this Travel With Me link but do read on, and learn about my Top 10 Travel Tips.  They are:

  • Getting lost is an art form
  • Dormitory do’s and don’ts
  • How to read a street map
  • What to pack in your rucksack
  • How to eat like a local
  • How to navigate around the public transport system
  • How to haggle and barter
  • How to spot a scam
  • How to avoid or survive sickness while travelling
  • How travel will boost your self-confidence and self-esteem

Top 10 Travel Tips

  1. Getting lost is an art form

If you follow my blog you will know that I am always getting lost.  I can read a map.  I can navigate with a compass but I am always getting lost.

Part of my problem is that I exit a bus station or a hostel and while I may understand that my road lies to the left, very often the road to the right looks far more interesting.  I tell myself, I will just wander along it for a few minutes to see what is around the next corner, and then, bam! I don’t have a clue where I am.

I have however turned this into an art form and I will often now actually proactively go out of my way to lose myself with a series of games that I play when I have some free time.

I have also got many tricks which help me to get back onto track again and which usually get me out of trouble.  They work. Usually.

Top 10 Travel Tips - getting lost

which way?


  1. Dormitory do’s and don’ts

I love to sleep in dormitories.  I actually now sleep better when there is gentle breathing around me and I feel safe knowing that there are people around should there ever be any trouble.

However, there are some dormitory nightmares out there and believe me the nicest people can be VERY grumpy when their sleep is disturbed.  Do you want to avoid being the one who gets hissed at or worse when you turn the light on at 3 in the morning?  Do you want to know what the other major mistakes are that are made by those horrible people that everybody hates?

Here’s a big hint and no doubt you will be thinking how obvious but yes, it happened to us in our hostel in Siem Reap.  And now once, but 3 mornings running.  A girl crept quietly out of bed at 4.30 am, showered and then proceeded to blast her hair dry for 10 minutes with a hairdryer!  Who would ever think that behaviour like that was acceptable?

I can tell you all of the things to avoid being that traveller from hell and all the things that you can do to make your stay a great one.

  1. How to read a street map

This may be a strange one to put in here from somebody who is always getting lost but I can navigate from a map.  Drop me in the middle of the countryside with a decent ordnance survey map and a proper compass and I will get you home.  Street maps come in various standards of quality, they may not be to scale so you could end up walking miles and things that are marked on there may not be there any longer.  But I am capable of reading a street map and I can give you plenty of tips to help you too.  And no, I don’t need to turn it upside down either.

Top 10 Travel Tips

I got horribly lost following this map


Do you like what you are reading so far?  Plan your own tailor made holiday.  You will stay in a hotel or a town house or a riverside villa.  Pick your top activities from a menu and I will design your perfect trip.  During a Skype chat we will confirm the accommodation, the transport arrangements and the things that you will see and do.  You can tweak the trip and make sure that you are 100% happy with it and then sit back and leave the rest to me.  You only have to book your flight, buy travel insurance and order your currency.  This autumn and winter I want to explore Catalunya with you, but if you have any other preferred destinations do drop me a line and I will do my best to work it into my schedule.

Complete this menu card  and email it to me for your no-obligation quote.


And now continue reading my Top 10 Travel Tips.


  1. What to pack in your rucksack

Everybody takes too many things when they go travelling for the first few times but believe me, after you have tried to run for the bus with your full pack on your back or staggered along a country lane because the train station is in the middle of nowhere, or balanced yourself precariously on the back of a motor taxi with your back pack threatening to drag you off unceremoniously onto your bum, you will soon weed out the unnecessary things that you are lugging around with you.  I can give you information on the best bag to buy (in my opinion) and also the best things to put in it.

  1. How to eat like a local

It’s nice to treat yourself when you are on holiday but it can work out to be very expensive if you eat out and often you will just find yourself eating generic food that you can buy back home.  Pizza is always my go-to fallback but pizza is pizza.  I try to eat in the local markets with the workers or from carts in the street with the school children. If I am in a cafe or a restaurant I will opt for the local speciality or if I can’t choose, I ask the waiter what is their favourite, or I stick a pin somewhere in the menu.  Stay in a home stay or volunteer on a work exchange programme – these will open your food world to a whole new experience. And if I am in a town where I am spoilt for choice and I simply can’t decide where to eat – why I think of a number and I count up to that number as I pass the various establishments – and I have to eat at #6 (or wherever).

Top 10 Travel tips

Finger food in Malaysia

  1. How to navigate around the public transport system

Again, this one often goes hand in hand with getting lost but it can open up new horizons.  Many of the developing countries have state of the art transport systems as money is ploughed into their infrastructure.  It was a bit of a shock to the system to find that the only way to where I was going in Medellin was via a cable car and it feels like something out of a futuristic film to skim across the top of a city in a SkyTrain.

At the opposite end of the scale there are the chicken buses, jeeps, motorbike taxis and tuktuks.  Crammed in cheek to jowl with goats, chickens and babies, they may be hot but you certainly connect with local people and more often than not may have a baby plonked on your lap to take care of, or the family next to you will share their fruit with you.

Top 10 Travel Tips - hitchhiking

Hitching a lift from a truck driver


And why not backpack?  There are many benefits when you stay in a hostel and backpack but it can be really daunting planning your first trip especially when you want to go solo.  Join me on my Beginner’s Backpacking course and I will meet you at the airport and show you the ropes.  We will travel together for a couple of weeks and then when you have the confidence you can set off on your own. And if you get in at the start, well I plan to be around Malaysia for a couple of months so I won’t be very far away should you need a friend.  What are you waiting for? There are some real flight bargains out to Asia at the moment.


Here are the next 3 of my Top 10 Travel Tips


  1. Learn how to haggle and barter

Smile, don’t start to haggle unless you really want to buy something, smile some more, be realistic about the price (people have to feed their families), smile and smile.

Know when to walk away, know when to give in and pay up and smile.

In many countries haggling is THE way to shop.  When you live somewhere for a while you soon learn the acceptable price for things and if you are off to the shops the best thing that you can do is to observe the locals.  Wander slowly around the market eavesdropping and watching how many notes are passed over for the items that you have your eye on.  You can expect to have a higher price quoted just because you are a tourist but there are ways to reduce that and have some fun into the bargain.

Top 10 Travel Tip- haggling

Top 10 Travel Tip #7 – How to haggle

  1. How to spot a scam

I have been scammed and it’s not a great feeling but I put it down to experience and I am sure that bad karma will come around to THAT woman in George Town eventually.  I know of travellers who have come off far worse than me and I reckon that I am pretty street-wise now.  I have been able to warn friends off from obvious tricks which have included a cab driver taking off with our luggage and the baby milk trick.  Travel with me and I can bring you up to speed on the popular scams and show you how you can be careful but don’t allow fear to stop you from taking chances.

This trusting couple invited us to shelter in their home during a storm

This trusting couple invited us to shelter in their home during a storm

  1. How to avoid or survive sickness while travelling

I got around South America with nothing more than altitude sickness and then I made up for it in S E Asia big time!  But I have pared down my first aid kit and I buy medicines as and when needed.  Often, so long as you get past the language barrier, the local remedies are the best anyway.  You can’t beat a herbal tea from a waitress who sees you clutching your stomach, Chinese medicine for a parasite or coca leaves for altitude sickness?  And forget Deet with all of its toxins.  Buy and use whatever the locals use for an insect repellent.

Keep your immune system raised with fresh fruit juices and vegetables and keep away from too much booze and drugs.  If you do get sick it can also be worth paying some extra money and buying a night or two in a private room.

Top 10 Travel Tips

fresh coconuts – the cure all


If you would prefer to choose an off the peg tour you can click on this link and join my guided tour in Catalunya.  On this tour all of the work has been done for you – you only need to decide if you would prefer to hike or to bike for one day.  And if that is too much for you, well just leave the decision to me!!


And my final Top 10 Travel Tip is….


  1. Travel will boost your self-confidence and self-esteem

When you travel you will probably have a drama or three but as you come out the other side you will realise that you did survive and, probably, you will have learnt a valuable lesson.  And those lessons are not just about how to cope when your bus catches fire or you get your money stolen on the border, but they are lessons which will reveal much about yourself and your abilities.

If you join me on one of my tailor made tours what can you expect?

Firstly, you will have a fully personalised tour tailor made just for you.  You will find out all about my Top 10 Travel Tips which I have compiled after more than three years travelling solo.

You can be confident that you will benefit from my travel experiences and you will have a fantastic holiday.  I can’t guarantee perfect weather but the food will be awesome, the accommodation comfortable and the activities will be interesting.

Travel with me

All of the tour packages that are available as Something Slightly Different came about in response to many of you, my readers, asking of you could travel with me.  I am now giving you that opportunity.  Read the links in this article and if you have any questions feel free to drop me an email or reply in the comments below.

Before you go, I have a question for you.

I would love to travel with you and get to know you better.  If you are hesitating about booking a tour with me, tell me, what is stopping you?

Does solo travel scare you? I have the solution.

Does solo travel scare you? I have the solution.

Something slightly different


From the emails that I get, I know that the thought of solo travel scares a lot of you.


And I get that.  It used to scare me too!


But I think that I have the perfect solution for you.

Watch the video, click on the links and continue reading to find out all about a super special offer that may be the answer to your fears.  And please feel free to share this post with anyone who you think could do with a holiday or who may need a little support and encouragement to add some sparkle into their lives.

I hate putting myself in front of the camera but I have filmed a video for you.  You can find out what I am going to be up to next and how you can join in.

Click on this link to YouTube to view the short video.  I would love you to let me know in the comments at the end of this post if you would like to see more videos in the future.

And then, after you have watched the video do head on over to Something Slightly Different and see for yourself all the activities that are on offer in Catalunya this autumn/winter and in Malaysia next spring.


If you like the idea of this new concept in travel and you would like to visit a particular country or region other than the two which are currently on offer, drop me an email and we can discuss when and where.  And if you would like to purchase a holiday or the self-development course for somebody else as a gift that can be arranged too.  Just ping me an email and that could be someone’s Christmas gift sorted.

So please, please, please share this post around your friends and family – and especially forward it to anybody who would love to travel solo but who doesn’t want to travel alone.  Solo travel is not that scary I promise you, nor is travelling with a group of strangers on an organised tour, but Something Slightly Different brings you the best of both worlds.

****Special Offer****


There is a sweet synchronicity between my online self-development course, the Smash the Pumpkin Project and the new concept in holiday planning that is Something Slightly Different. 

You can help to design your own bespoke travel adventure or you can work through a series of challenges which encourage you out of your comfort zone.

Subscribers on the Smash the Pumpkin Project are asking how they can travel some more and I know that adventurers who will travel with me on Something Slightly Different will want to explore and to push their personal boundaries further.

Therefore if you book one of the travel adventures with me – the Catalan Adventure or Beginners Backpacking in Malaysia before the end of October 2016, I will give you an enormous 50% discount off the online course.

If you book one of the travel adventures in the next couple of months you can subscribe to the Smash the Pumpkin Project for half price.  You will pay just £150 for the full ten month course and you can.begin working on the course while you are waiting for your holiday date to come around.


Are there any restrictions on this special offer?


You need to have paid the deposit for your travel adventure by the end of October 2016 but don’t delay.  Remember, due to the individual nature of Something Slightly Different there are only so many trip dates available.

So head on over to Something Slightly Different and complete one of the two planners.  Email it over to me as per the instructions and let me design your bespoke trip.

You have nothing to lose at this stage because the planning is free, but if you do decide to go ahead and book a trip, once you have paid your deposit I will add you to the Smash the Pumpkin Project for half price.


“At first I was quite nervous to risk spending a lot of time with someone that I didn’t know. But my concerns were soon laid to rest when I met her. Jane has a reassuring and confident manner that instantly put me at ease. She is a fun loving companion who enjoys life and brings the best out of the people that we met during our travels.”

“We did have some challenges during our trip but it was great fun working through them with Jane and we have some great stories to tell. I must say that I am looking forward to the possibility of another opportunity to travel with her in the future.”



Scarlet Jones

Where will you stay?


In Catalunya your accommodation may be a villa on the edge of a river, a chalet in the forest, in a traditional Spanish town house or a smart hotel.

Your accommodation in Malaysia will usually be in backpackers hostels (but don’t worry because I know some of the best ones).  We may stay in shared dormitories, in a wooden beach bungalow or even a hammock – it’s all part of the experience with prices starting at just £3 for a bunk bed in a mixed dormitory.

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And if you want the full length version of my YouTube interview you can click on this link.

Don’t forget, if you have any questions, I am only at the end of the internet

Getting sick while travelling in SE Asia

Getting sick while travelling in SE Asia

I have to admit, I’ve been lucky up until now with getting sick while travelling, but since I have been in S E Asia I have had all sorts of stomach bugs and viruses.

During one whole year in South America my only problems were suffering from altitude sickness and getting myself a nasty little parasite after I drank untreated well water in Colombia.

I had a couple of snotty sneezy colds while I was travelling through the Baltics and I twisted my knee on a hike up a mountain in Spain.

Make sure that you don’t miss any of my future articles by signing up in the box below (don’t worry, it’s easy to unsubscribe in the future if you find that you don’t have time to read them!)


I don’t count the coma-induced hangovers due to over-indulging on pisco, rum or that sneaky-killer aguardiente.  They are just part and parcel of never growing up but it’s been a different story recently and I keep getting sick while travelling in SE Asia.

But now, here in South East Asia I have been getting sick in every country that I have visited (to date).

If you take one thing away from this article it should be to NEVER travel without decent travel insurance.  It doesn’t have to be expensive but it could save a whole host of problems and expense further down the line.  I use the long stay package from Alpha Travel Insurance  you can get your own up-to-date quote here.

Stomach bugs, viruses and bronchitis

Thailand – I got a stomach bug in Chiang Mai that kept me close to a bathroom for 3 days (probably caught from my landlord who had the same). Delhi Belly, Montezuma’s Revenge, call it what you will, I was up and down the stairs to the (shared) bathroom like a yoyo.

Laos – After eating just a couple of spoonfuls of suspicious smelling food in the northern mountains of Laos I got sick.

Immediately following this dodgy meal we spent three long travel days on crowded minivans which threw us from side to side on the hairpin bends in the mountains int he norht of Laos, driven by evil drivers who would stop on open lay-bys with not even a small shrub for cover for communal toilet breaks.

getting sick while travelling

getting sick while travelling – this is where I got food poisoning

At this stage I was beyond caring and I would tramp over to the nearest patch of grass with my toilet roll and squat like the locals in full sight of everybody.  I simply wanted to give up and sleep.

I eventually presented myself at the hospital in Laos where tests proved that I needed (more) antibiotics along with a traditional Chinese medicine.

Cambodia – I contracted a 24 hour stomach bug on the island of Koh Rong.  Many others were sick before and after me but at least I was better before we got to our home-stay in the Cardamom Mountains with its very basic bathroom that was simply a hole in the floor flushed with water from a jug.

My friend Debs wasn’t quite so lucky because she was sick here and had to use this whole in the ground -but she did learn a new skill – and I quote: ‘I can now shit with precision through a hole in a polo!’

Vietnam – I loved the city of Hanoi but the weather was cold and damp and the city was VERY polluted.  EVERYBODY in the city had a cough and in our 8-bed dorm all of the occupants were laid low with a variety of ailments.

I think I had the flu because for over a week I felt as if I had been trampled by a herd of water buffalo where every movement was agony and my lower back was on fire.  When I did get upright for long enough to get outside there were several occasions where I went white as a sheet and everything went woozy and I came very close to fainting.

Here in Hanoi my cough then escalated to bronchitis and for the first time ever, I began to dream of having my own home and a nice little place where I could escape and pamper myself.

Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw

I loved Laos – but it was so cold in the north

Thailand (again) – this one was probably my fault for eating street food late at night when the vendors were packing up for the evening and things had been hanging around for too long.  It did make for an interesting travel day flying from Krabi to Bangkok vomiting my way north.  Thank goodness NOK Air supply plenty of strong sick bags.

To accompany this series of articles on Laos, I have published a comprehensive 28 page travel itinerary of my month-long route around Laos. Simply enter your details in the box below to get your free guide.


Look after yourself.

Stay healthy,’ they all say.  ‘Look after yourself,’ and ‘you don’t want to go getting sick while travelling,’ is what every traveller is told before setting out.

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t take ice with your drinks (I do), you never drink the tap water (I do) and you don’t eat from street food vendors  (I do).  You peel all fruit, you don’t eat vegetables (a source of e-coli) and you avoid meat (refrigeration difficulties).

Certainly never drink the local home-brewed firewater at weddings in Vietnam, do not hire a scooter and certainly never get on the back of a motor bike taxi in Bangkok during rush hour without a helmet.  Yes, right!!!!!

I break every one of these rules regularly and as I have already said, I lasted the entire year in South America with few ill effects.

I have some rules.  I don’t balance on balcony railings, I would never bungee jump and I don’t knowingly eat road-kill (I suspect that was the problem in the mountains in Laos).  I weigh up the risks and I take preventative actions accordingly.

Always carry toilet paper, wear a skirt on the buses (better to squat in public without baring your bum) and get yourself some little brown pills called berberine ( a herbal Chinese medicine that I swear are magic).

One welcome side effect of all of this was that I lost over a stone in weight and in an effort to rebuild myself I began to focus more on practising my limited capabilities of yoga and meditation.

When I was in Chiang Mai I made a huge effort to get up early some mornings and I joined Nathan from Fit Living Lifestyle and some other travel bloggers who were in town for circuits in the park.  You can actually invite Nathan into your home as he has a whole series of online fitness plans for you to choose from so it doesn’t matter where in the world you are if you want his help to get healthy. Check out Nathan’s website here if you never seem to be able to find the time to get to the gym or to a class and see what he can offer you.

My experiences have led me to ponder on the topic of what to do if you do get ill on the road.

Dealing with getting sick while travelling.

Luckily I was never so sick that I needed hospitalization (the doctors in Laos were amazing but the ward was nothing more than a room with mattresses pushed together) and here in S E Asia I have mostly been travelling with friends who have supported me.

If I were solo I would have coped but I would have been 500 times more miserable than I was.

I was alone in Chiang Mai but there was a support network of bloggers and digital nomads in the town who offered to help.  It was comforting to know that they were there should I need them.

A hostel would always (I hope) keep hold of your bag and personal belongings if anything really serious happened and you needed to be hospitalized, but as someone who occasionally keels over and faints, the worry is what happens if you are out on your own or travelling with all of your bags!


My full respect goes out to my friend Martin who travels with epilepsy and who does keel over occasionally.

The travel community is amazing and usually pulls together.  Take the incidence in Chiang Mai when a traveller had a serious scooter accident and the call went out for blood supplies.

Lots of my friends queued up at the hospital to donate their blood.  Here in Thailand, if you need a blood transfusion your relatives or friends have to reimburse the hospital with an equal amount of blood in donations so offers like this are always welcome.

When I was sick in Laos where very few people spoke English a Vietnamese doctor happened to be on the same minivan as me and my friend.

A little way through one of our nightmare journeys he realised that I was sick and he took it upon himself to keep an eye on me for the next few days in Vang Vieng.  He offered to accompany me to the hospital in case I had any problems and he checked all of the drugs that I was prescribed, confirming them to be safe and I was very happy to be able to buy him a thank you drink when I got to Hanoi a few months later.

Living in a dorm and coping with sickness when travelling can be a double edged sword.

When you have hacking bronchitis you are very aware of disturbing your fellow travellers and if you have a vomiting or tummy bug you will find that you are constantly keeping a check on whether the toilet is occupied or not.  Those are the days when it is more sensible to opt for a bottom bunk for a quick exit.

But when you are sick, there is something very comforting about having people, even strangers, around you and all but the hardest individual will invariably check up on you, running to the pharmacist or bringing you food and drink supplies.

Ask your dorm buddies to fetch you a bottle of cola and loosen the lid so that it loses its fizz.  Flat coke works wonders for most types of sickness.  Add the contents of a rehydration sachet to your water bottle and drink as much as you can keep down. If you have the squits ( I can’t spell diarreah)  avoid taking anything which  stop you going to the toilet unless you have a travel day – you want that shit (excuse the pun) out of your body asap.

And never ever never travel without Travel Insurance. (Travel Insurance is available from Alpha Travel Insurance as well as from other insurance companies)

If you are dealing with sickness while travelling and your finances allow, consider an upgrade to a private room.  I was so lucky in Hanoi that I had interviewed Rezma before I got sick and she offered me a free stay in one of her amazing rooms in her bohemian hostel ‘See you at Lily’s’.

The timing was perfect.  I staggered out of my 8 bedded dorm in my previous hostel in search of my comfort food of choice – of course a pizza – which I washed down with a reviving cup of zingy ginger tea. I then checked into my private room at ‘See you at Lily’s’ where I snuggled up under a thick duvet in a 6 foot wide bed with air con and a huge flat screen TV and I indulged myself with films late into the night.

getting sick while travelling

See you at Lily’s hostel

Before Rezma and her business partners took over their hostel, the building was a hotel, so while it is now a hostel complete with dorm rooms, free breakfast and really great art work all over the place, they retained some of the private rooms as, well, private rooms.

I could write so much more about getting sick while travelling – especially in SE Asia, but I will leave you here for now.  Don’t forget to check out Nathan’s website and if you are planning to visit Hanoi you should certainly visit Rezma and her team at ‘See you at Lily’s‘.

Of course, if you are very nervous about travelling solo then you can always opt for a small group activity holiday.  With these you will have a tour guide who can iron out any problems as they occur and liaise with you and the medical professions.  I was so glad that I was travelling with Explore when I went in India. I got dysentry and heat stroke which could have turned very serious had our guide not acted quickly when he did. Take a look at Explore’s destinations – I bet that they will go whereever you want to go

Feel free to share this article with anybody that you know who is travelling or may be thinking of travelling – it could save them some bad moments –  but remember, I travelled for one whole year in South America and I had very few problems. Maybe I am just getting complacent.


Disclaimer: If you click on some of the links in my articles and purchase something I may earn a small amount of commission.  This doesn’t affect the price that you will pay,  but I can treat myself to a nice cup of coffee.


Scarlet Jones Travels is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Pinterest bear at Luang Prabang

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Inspirational People – Rezma’s story

Inspirational People – Rezma’s story

I am constantly amazed by the sights that I see as I travel.  Whether natural or man-made, whether silently paddling a canoe among the breathtaking beauty of the Amazonian jungle or staring open-mouthed at the majestic sights at Petra, I soak up the history like a sponge.

I never take my lifestyle for granted and so far I have not tired of it, but what holds me to a place and keeps it in my heart are the inspirational people that I meet.  People who share their stories with me; people who inspire me and people who continue when things get tough – people who are following their dreams with strong determination, no matter what obstacles are thrown at them.

Inspirational people

I met Rezma in Hanoi, Vietnam. Rezma is a petite bundle of energy who hails from Britain.  She set off on her first solo travel at just 18 years of age on a trip to Germany and wanted to explore the world.

Coming from a family background which encouraged her to work hard and motivated by her aunt who is a powerful woman and a role model, Rezma threw herself into making her dream become a reality. She worked triple shifts and she sacrificed friendships and relationships whilst taking as much time as she could to travel.

Rezma found herself drawn to Vietnam where a growing economy and entrepreneurial chances were good and she took steps to combine her qualifications and her love of travel to invest in a business opportunity.

Rezma teamed up with Lily a Vietnamese lady who already owned an established travel agency and Stuart who is from the UK, and between them they purchased a hotel in one of the narrow streets in the Hanoi Old Quarter.  The three of them set about converting it to a hostel as quickly as possible; inviting artists to stay for free in exchange for painting eye-catching murals on the walls and they are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the city.

Rezma turned up at one of her very first corporate events in Hanoi wearing a bright red dress, only to discover that everybody else had dressed much more conservatively than she had and the event was far more formal than she had been led to believe.  Rather than shrinking into a corner, Rezma brushed aside what many may have believed to have been a social error and set out to enjoy the evening.  Several months on, business people were still introducing themselves to her, reminded by the impact that she had made in her red dress!  In a business which is dominated by men, Rezma had made her mark.

inspirational people

They have retained many of the upmarket features from the original hotel yet have added many things which make a great hostel – great showers a chilled social space and good wifi.  Rather than being just another new hostel on the block, ‘See you at Lily’s markets itself as a bohemian hostel – it is a place with a difference.

Rezma has been profiled in lifestyle magazines and aspires to be a female role model – she herself proves that if you want something badly enough you can usually make it happen.

She is passionate that everybody has the chance to follow their dreams. Rezma told me that her philosophy is that we only live once and if you want something you shouldn’t be scared of trying.  Figure out a way to make things work, and if they don’t work out to begin with, simply think again and consider a different approach.  You have to work hard and you have to make sacrifices but the end result will be a success.

Rezma is certainly forging her perfect career and lifestyle.  She, along with her business partners train their staff to each offer an exceptional level of customer service at their hostel ‘See you at Lily’s’, and she has plans to continue travelling once the business is stable.

inspirational people

As you read this article you may be wondering to yourself, what is so remarkable about Rezma?  After all, there are many successful business women and many inspirational female role models.

At the time of writing this, Rezma, a British woman, co-owner of a hostel in Vietnam and inspiration to many women  – is just 21 years old!

Your age, health, class or your background are not barriers to following your dreams.  We build our own barriers, telling ourselves that we are not worthy or clever enough or we lack the self-confidence to take things forwards, but the power to clamber over those barriers is in each of us. You may have to work that little bit harder to prove yourself or to get where you want to be, but there are usually solutions.

  • No capital behind you?  Work three jobs and temporarily give up your social life as Rezma did.
  • No qualifications?  Study, read and learn. Find a mentor or a role model.
  • Can’t decide on one path?  Sign up to the Smash the Pumpkin Project This programme will help you to identify what it is that makes you sparkle and it will encourage you along the road to self discovery and a fantastic life.

Rezma is living her dream in Hanoi.  I am living my dream too.  I always wanted to write and to travel.

I interviewed Rezma in a cute little coffee shop in Hanoi and then I took the rest of the day off so that I could visit the excellent Women’s Museum.

What is preventing you from following your dream? Please leave a comment in the box below and tell me what is holding you or a friend back.  If you or a friend signs up to the Smash the Pumpkin Project after deciding that you don’t in fact have any good excuse not to change your life and you have left a comment in the box below, I will give you 40% discount off the course.

Smash the myths; live your dream!

inspirational people
Could I be the perfect girlfriend?

Could I be the perfect girlfriend?

This article explains why I could be the perfect girlfriend.  Or not!

I travel.  It’s what I do.  I wander from place to place; exploring and moving and volunteering and writing. Does this make me the perfect girlfriend?  You decide whether the following are pros or cons of your perfect girlfriend

the perfect girlfriend is independent

I’m a cheap date.

I usually prefer to travel on a budget. I stay in back-packers hostels and I eat street food.

Don’t get me wrong – I can fully appreciate a Michelin star lunch (thank you Louise) or a night in a plush hotel, but it’s the company that I love.  So whether it’s chatting over canapés with nice china and cutlery or eating finger food from a plastic bag sat on a tree stump – if you can make me laugh then I am happy.

There will be no awkward silences.

Ask me about my adventures or my future plans and I will talk forever.  One of my favourite pastimes is people watching – basically I am very nosey – so I will also want to know what makes you tick.

And I will question you.  I want to know what happened when you missed the train or when you went to Amsterdam.  I want to find out what happens at Le Mons or at a Full Moon Party and in return I will tell you how to make papa rellana – the best street snack in the entire world – or give you a blow by blow descripton of the parasite that took up residence inside me in Colombia.

I am not clingy.

I like my space.  I like my independence and I will allow you yours.

You want to travel with me?  Fine and good, but if you want to take a side trip by yourself for a month or so and see different stuff – in fact; perfect.  I think that I might go ever so slightly mad if I had to be on my best behaviour all of the time.  You can tell me all about your trip when we meet up again.  Just take lots of photos to show me when we meet up again.

I’m not moody

I don’t get moody and I rarely get jealous. Too good to be true right?

I want to empower and encourage and if that means that I am left behind when you find your wings, so be it.  I sometimes cry but you don’t need to comfort me.  I deal with it – in the same way that when I’m sick I prefer to be left alone. so please, you don’t need to hold back my hair over the toilet bowl – just leave me to it.

Surely this makes me the perfect girlfriend?

I am independent.

You don’t need to hold my hand and protect me when we go out together unless you’re chasing off would-be robbers who are armed with a large knife (thank you Lio).

I have been travelling solo for over 2 years and I am comfortable with my own company.  I am used to dining or drinking alone, so if we are out and you spot some old mates or you want to go and make some new ones, no worries; I can look out for myself – I don’t have to be hanging off your arm.

I have absolutely no sense of direction.

The needy girlfriend will get uptight if she gets lost or plans change.

I am ALWAYS getting lost and I love variety and the unexpected so you needn’t be afraid that I will throw a wobbly if we miss that bus or if we decide to head south instead of north.  I often toss a coin to choose my route – try it – it can be fun, and we can play scissors, paper, stone to decide on where we should stay.  I can’t play this one by myself, lol!

I am not precious about my belongings.

So you spilt that entire bottle of red wine down my dress at the posh Christmas dinner in the presence of the cream of the British Navy?  Why would I get mad?  I had several chivalrous officers gallop over to help mop me up and dry me out.  Me?  Attention seeking?  It was one way to get noticed.

Maybe I should change my attitude and become high-maintenance but my current lifestyle doesn’t allow it.  I would rather be spontaneous.

Just don’t mess with my phone or my laptop.  Those are my link with the rest of the world and the tools of my trade – but anything else – no worries.

I am resourceful.

Living in mixed dormitories can mean a lack of privacy.  I am resourceful.  Enough said.

the perfect girlfriend in the Amazon

What I don’t want.

So you now know my attributes, let me tell you what I don’t want in a relationship.

I don’t want to be tied down (emotionally) tied up in mind games or stuck in a rut.  I don’t want to feel trapped or manipulated.  I have learnt to be free and to roll with the dice that life shakes at me. I eat when I’m hungry and I don’t want to live to a rigid routine or to be forced into yours. I don’t want to waste a minute of any day.  I probably don’t need a boyfriend., but I am thinking more and more that I would quite like one.

What I do want

I want freedom, independence and lots of laughs.

I want to know that I am special but I don’t want responsibility.

I want cuddles but I want space.  I LOVE a massage and I will do almost anything for a good one.

I like wine. I want to dance in the rain, lie sleepily by the bonfire on the beach until dawn and I want to see whales migrate.

I want to lie in the snow and watch the glory of the Northern Lights shimmer and crackle above me.

I want to climb mountains and swim naked in the sea.

I want to love somebody and to be loved back,

I want to know that I am the sun, the moon and the stars to you but I want freedom to take off and to explore the world

The perfect girlfriend allows you freedom

This just about sums it up my attitude to my life at the moment.


I don’t want to arrive at my grave in a well preserved body.  I want to skid in sideways, screaming ‘Holy shit, what a ride!’ 

BUT….at times I miss having a special someone to share things with and to hug.  Maybe I have been solo for too long, but I am searching for somebody who can understand and relate to all of the things that I have written above.

I am not saying that I cannot do responsibilty or routine – but it will take a very special person to persuade me.  Or if I fall head over heels in love everything could all change in an instant.  I told you, I am flexible

What do you think?  Is it possible to be an independent traveller and to be a girlfriend? Could I be the perfect girlfriend?  Could you be the one?

Are you up to the challenge?

Scarlet Jones Travels

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