The Ultimate Travel Tag: 50 Questions

Tag: noun. Internet term referring to a list of questions to answer, designed to get to know better the person answering them.

Created by people on the internet for other people on the internet, a tag usually has a theme which can revolve around general or more specific topics such as food, friendship, culture, movies, seasons, travel…

Usually, a person answering a tag will take that occasion to create some new questions, and ask other people to answer the tag on their platform as well, in view of spreading the tag.

Has been seen on: YouTube, blogs, Pinterest, Twitch, Instagram, Twitter…

Derived from: To tag: verb. To link a person to a picture or video on a social network.


MAP OF THE WORLD

1. How many countries of the world have you already visited?

I’m originally from France, and so far I have been to Ireland, England, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, the USA, Japan, Singapore and at the time this blog post will go up, I’ll be spending Christmas 2018 in Bali, Indonesia! So, 10 countries so far! 🙂

2. Which destination is the number one of your bucket list?

Oh my Gosh, this tag is already getting to hard to answer… Well, in fact my bucket list was all reshuffled after this summer 2018, because I went on a world trip with my parents for my 25th birthday/ end of studies/ life turning point and got to visit the USA and Japan, which were ex aequo my two ABSOLUTE number one destinations on my bucket list! You can read all about this mega-trip here 🙂

Therefore, now that two of my absolute dream destinations have been crossed off the list, I would say the number one on my bucket list now is be Australia. I’m actively looking at prices on Sky Scanner to see when it would be the best time to go there from Singapore!

3. 3 other places at the top of your travel bucket list?

Well, I’ve already written about the 10 Incredible Destinations I Want to Hit Before I Kick It, and from this I will say the other 3 are:

  • China
  • Egypt
  • South America

4. What does the ideal holiday look like for you?

Ummmmm… Let me think about it.

It would for sure be long, a month or two, and it would include discovering a new country and experiencing some kind of a culture shock. Visiting cities, but also incredible untouched sites, with preserved nature. And it would be either with one loved-one, or alone.

5. Favorite picture you’ve taken during a trip?

The two pictures I cherish the most are those two shots that my mother took of me in New York this summer…

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empire view

Both those shots are absolutely perfect to my eyes, and bring back so many memories of us being in New York, me for the first time ever, my parents for the first time in 27 years: they spent their honeymoon there before I was born…

It was my absolute dream to go there, for as long as I can remember, and both pictures represent the fulfillment of this dream of mine and make me remember how lucky I was then, and how lucky I still am to be able to continue fulfilling my dreams now.

6. Have you had to travel for work so far? If so, where?

Yes, I have had to travel for work on several occasions: when I was on internships in law firms during my law studies, I have had to travel to other courts or tribunals in France, for court hearings.

Since I’ve graduated as a lawyer in France, I’ve been working as a junior legal counsel for the Singaporean office of a big french company. So for my first job, I actually moved abroad, to Singapore.

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7. With who would you like to go on a vacation sometime?

With each of my loved-ones. Where? I don’t know, where the wind will take us 🙂

8. Who or what would you take with you to an uninhabited island?

For the person it would have to be a loved-one, and for the object it would have to be a knife, because I believe you can achieve anything with a knife (fire, create a shelter, make clothes, prepare food, etc.). But the real answer would be something intangible: knowledge about how to survive and nature in general.

9. Would you rather go to an amusement park or a zoo?

Anyone who knows me well knows I absolutely love amusement parks. For example, I have been to Disneyland Paris more than 30 times (I’ve had a One-Year Pass allowing me to visit for free).

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I also like going to zoos, but it really depends on the zoo, and I’ve visited a lot of zoos in my life actually, I’m guessing 20 different ones. In France, Ireland, Japan, the US and Singapore.

In France, you can have really nice open-air ones, where animals live freely in reserves, and most importantly not caged. I especially think about a bird park I absolutely love in Villard-les-Dombes in South-east France (website). I also remember visiting a domain where wolfs lived freely but were fed by humans, which allowed visitors to see them during lunch time. This is the kind of “zoo” I like, but it depends on what you’re calling a zoo really.

All I know is that when I see an animal caged and obviously looking like it’s gone mad, turning in its cage, desperate, it brings tears to my eyes. I can’t handle it.

10. Mountain or sea?

Sea. I’m a beach girl, have been going to the south of France and the Mediterranean sea for all my holidays from 0 to 17 years old.

11. Which country(ies) will you visit this year?

Well, 2018 will end in one week, but in fact I still have one country to go to this year: I’ll spend the last week of 2018 on the Indonesian island of Bali 🙂

I cannot say anything about 2019… you’ll see 😉 but stay tuned for my adventures to come, because 2019 will probably be the year I visit the most places, ever!

12. Where would you never visit?

Well, never say never, but I can think of places where there is a war going on, or countries under dictatorship. I can say I’ll probably never go to North Korea.

13. Which place did you think was so special that you wished to come back to it immediately after leaving it and still want to revisit now?

Kyoto, Japan. 100%, didn’t even need a minute to think about it. If you’ve never been, PLAN YOUR TRIP RIGHT NOW.

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14. A place you’ve been to where you would not go back to and why?

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Will not go back unless forced to, and you can read all about the reasons why in this blog post: Why Las Vegas Was A Downer & Discovering Sin City | World Tour #8

15. What was the last country you visited?

Well, it was Singapore, because we ended our summer world tour with Singapore, and three months later I was back: now I’m living there 🙂

16. What is your favorite place on the planet that you have been to?

Japan. 100% again. Hands down. Not joking. If you’ve never been, PLAN YOUR TRIP RIGHT NOW!

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17. Favorite place in your home country?

Wherever I felt safe, at home, and with the people I love. It has never been attached to a place in particular.

18. You’re in an airport, and you know you can choose whichever destination to board a plane right now: which part of the world would you choose?

This situation only happens in movies… how nice it would be though! Well, to be really honest with you, I’ll go back to Japan, so the destination would be Tokyo, Narita Airport.

19. What’s your cup of tea – tropical island getaway, snowy ski break or city exploring trips?

Either Tropical island getaway (which will be what I’m doing for the last week of 2018, going to Bali) or City exploring trip!

20. What are your top 3 hand-luggage must haves?

A water bottle, a book and a blanket. It’s only with those 3 things that I can survive a 14-hour flight.

21. What 3 things would you take on holiday/travelling if you could?

All my books, my piano, and really nice camera gear.

22. Any travel tips to share?

Don’t prepare every single thing in advance of a trip: allow yourself to get lost, to explore whatever you wish to and to be surprised!

23. What is your most pleasant trip memory?

What I felt arriving in New York City for the first time in my life. I almost cried of happiness, feeling like the luckiest person ever.

24. What is your most unpleasant trip memory?

Being sick for two days straight in Tokyo, not being able to get up.

25. Most surreal travel moment?

The moment I left France again, to go and live in Asia. I cried, and in fact I’ve filmed it: you can watch my departure vlog here!

26. Most embarrassing moment abroad?

Well I can’t remember one in particular, but it always has to be with not understanding what a person is saying to me, usually talking in English but with a strong accent from somewhere.

27. Biggest disappointment?

Las Vegas, again. You can read all about the reasons why in this blog post: Why Las Vegas Was A Downer & Discovering Sin City | World Tour #8.

28. Nicest surprise?

San Francisco, California, USA! I’d never really thought about this place, but staying there and exploring this city was actually so nice! I’ll definitely go back to California in the future.

29. Favorite food discovery during a trip?

Well, this is a hard one because I’ve been eating food from all other the world since I was a child so for the moment I didn’t discover any food during a trip. However, I recently discovered Chinese Bao, at the Yam’Tcha teahouse in Paris, the small restaurant of Adeline Grattard’s husband, as seen on the third episode of Netflix’s Chef’s Table: France.

I loved the baos I ate there, and I’ve seen lots of restaurants specialised in baos here in Singapore, so I’ll definitely eat some baos again!

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30. Why do you travel?

Probably the hardest question of this tag. I will give the short answer, because I’d really like to extensively express my deepest thoughts on this topic in the future, on this blog.

I guess I travel because I’m looking for something, which I haven’t found yet. A place, someone, peace within, answers to my questions, truth? I don’t know.

31. Have you picked up any phrases from travelling?

I’m already getting so used to Singaporeans “Lah” to mark the end of their sentences, and “Can” or “Cannot” instead of answering yes or no, I’m sure I would have picked those in about a month!

32. Your dream travel companion?

A special someone I haven’t met yet.

33. Favorite city or country?

City: Kyoto, so far. Country: Japan, forever. (repeating myself here, am I not? Have you booked your trip there yet? What are you waiting for?)

34. Best item purchased abroad?

All the hats I own. They’re from all other the world, and I love them all.

35. Advice for those who want to travel but think they can’t?

If it’s a lack of money, then take time to look at all the budget travel tips available on the internet today: you won’t hesitate after doing that.

If it’s a lack of time, then really think about it: I am 100% sure you can find a way to take some time off whatever is keeping you from traveling (work, family, life in general).

And if it’s a lack of courage, which probably is the main reason for everyone, then meditate every day over this quote:

In the end, what you will regret aren’t the things you did, but the things you never had the courage to do.”

36. Travel accessory you always pack?

Taking aside the obvious (identity papers, phone + charger and money), I would say a travel guide or a physical map.

37. Your most treasured passport stamp?

My passport stamp from the US.

38. Can you recite your passport number from memory if asked?

Oh yes. Along with its expiration date.

39. Preferred method of travel: planes, trains or cars?

Cars, 100%. I’m all about road trips, even though I absolutely love planes and trains as well. I also cherish boats, and buses. Any kind of transportation really.

40. Hostel, hotel or AirBnb?

Hotel or AirBnb. Sharing a bathroom and a bedroom with strangers is my idea of hell on Earth, so hostels are NOT for me.

41. Are you a repeat visitor or do you explore new places?

I’m both. I want to go to all the places I’ve never been to, but also come back to my favourite places.

42. Do you read up on your destination (culture, history, safety) or do you wing it?

I read a lot about the destination, its culture and history, but I don’t plan the exact things I’ll be exploring or doing when I get there.

43. Favorite travel website?

I don’t really have one. What I’m all about are vlogs on YouTube, from youtubers like Louis Cole (Fun For Louis) who’s been to almost every country on Earth. I’ve been watching his vlogs around the world for almost 7 years.

Otherwise, I look at travel guides, and read travel blogs when I need information.

44. Where would you recommend a friend to visit? Name city and why.

Tokyo, Japan. Because anyone from anywhere in the world will for sure be getting a huge culture shock in Tokyo. This place is absolutely incredible, and it can be everything you wish it to be.

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45. To which destination did you first take a plane to?

Dublin, at the beginning of September 2011, when I was 17 years-old, to go and live there for 2 years.

46. Suitcase versus backpack?

Backpack. So much more convenient.

47. Is there something you do on every trip?

I always go out of the place I’m staying at, choose a direction, and walk or take transportation in that direction not knowing what I will find. This is how I’ve stumbled on amazing sites, discovered amazing restaurants, met locals, etc.

In fact, this is probably the best travel tip I could give to anyone, but to do this you’ll need to be absolutely care-free.

48. When traveling do you talk to locals easily?

Yes, and I make a point out of it. I need to connect with locals, because this is how I like to travel. Otherwise there would be no point to explore the world for me.

49. Do you feel like you’re different when traveling?

Yes: this is the time when I’m most feeling whole and complete, and not wishing to be somewhere else. I live in the present and am fully aware of the peace I’m feeling inside.

50. What is the greatest travel-dream you would like to accomplish before hitting your next big life-turn?

I would like to experience 3 to 6 months of living and working in different places, in one country or many… and I can’t tell much more because nothing’s settled yet. 🙂


Until next time,

Keep Calm & Travel!

Lilly,

aka The French Hat

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What 30+ Hours Spent On Planes Have Taught Me | Tips & Tricks #1

You see, I have social anxiety, always had, and it’s pretty bad, enough to be a real pain in my life. It manifests itself even more during holidays, because my confidence always reaches a low point.

So when I had to leave home for the World Tour I did this summer 2018 – which I talk to you about here – with my parents and then only my dad, I knew I would have to be stronger than usual, at least to survive on long-haul flights.

To give you a bit of a context, before that, I had never been on a long-haul flight. Now  I shall say I’ve become an expert, as I’ve successfully survived through 7 (out of 9 flights in total) in only 1 month.

keep_calm_and_travel_on_poster-r16ddfc74a0bf4670a3ca14e018493477_wvg_8byvr_540Our first flight from Paris to New York was more than 8 hours long, which at the time seemed to go on forever. For me it rhymed with hell on earth (well actually hell in the air): 8 hours, stuck in a confined area, 10,000 feet up, in a uncomfortable seat, without any space nor air to breathe properly, surrounded by strangers mostly nervous and uncomfortable too… To be honest, it does sound like the beginning of a horror movie.

And of course, my anxiety levels were up to the roof for this first flight. But I managed to find things to keep me calm throughout all the 9 flights, and here are 5 of my most efficient tips, real tips that actually helped me survive this month of travel!

1. Bring Your Own Stuff

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This is by far my most efficient tip. If you suffer from social anxiety like me, you would need to bring:

  • your own pillow and neck-pillow,
  • your own blanket,
  • your own comfortable socks,
  • your own headphones,
  • your own games, books, magazines or anything else that will keep you occupied as usual.

I cannot stress enough the ‘as usual‘ part as this is what makes this tip so efficient: you need to trick your brain into thinking you’re home, or in a place you know, in order to tackle anxiety and make the hours go faster and more smoothly.

Of course I know most of the stuff I’ve listed is provided by most companies, but trust me when I say you’re better off with your own, and not only because some companies actually re-use the same stuff already used by other passengers, sometimes without even washing it, presenting it to you in a closed plastic bag. Yes. And the same goes with the seats, the armrests, and headrests, which hardly get washed. But I’ll talk about hygiene in another tip: for now the point is to bring your own, washed, clean, stuff.

Pillow-tip: Also, if you’re wondering how to bring your own pillow without being too encumbered at the airport, just bring a folded pillowcase with you, which DSC_1633you can then load with clothes (thereby reducing the weight of your luggage at the same time). But really you can make it out of anything: my own pillow was made of my big Sostrene Grene black linen tote bag, filled with the stuff I wanted to have with me on the plane, wrapped up in my hoodie, which I then closed by tying the loops together!

2. Don’t Stress Over Your Seat Too Much

The number 1 tip some people give is to choose your seat carefully. I’d say okay, but following which criteria? There’s as much criteria as there are people, and I would say the best place on a plane really much depends on yourself, and your preferences!

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  • If you know you will be most anxious about being in a confined area, like me, I’d suggest to get a window seat, to be able to see what’s going on outside! Definitely do not get a aisle seat, and on bigger planes that have rows like ones above, avoid sitting in the middle area D/E/G/H because you won’t be able to see anything and it will for sure make you anxious, especially during take-off and landing!
  • Avoiding the middle seats also goes if you don’t like being stuck between people: I would suggest avoiding the B, E, G, and K seats. Be aware that sometimes airplanes only have 3 seats in the middle, or none at all, depending on the type of flight: don’t go too fast on the website when you’re choosing your seats, as every plane has its own specifications!
  • If your main concern is space, then also get an aisle seat to be able to stretch your legs, or even better, a seat at the front row, right after a dividing wall: just know that those seats do have a retractable table in the armrests, but don’t necessarily have a screen. Their main plus is that there is nothing in front of them so you have a lot of space to stretch your legs!
  • If you’re most anxious about being able to go to the restrooms quite a lot (because you know you will be anxious, because you know you just pee a lot, or simply because you’re pregnant!), then definitely get a aisle seat, whether on C, D, H or J: this way you’ll be able to stand up and go without disturbing anyone! Obviously, if you can, get a seat that is closer to the restrooms. There usually are at the front and the end of the aircraft, and on big planes there are also restrooms in the middle, on each side.
  • If you would like to sleep without being disturbed, then get those seats in the middle, or window seats.
  • If you would like to incline your seat as much as possible without disturbing the person behind you, then get a seat in the last row before a dividing wall, at the end of the aircraft or just at the end of an area (first, economy, quiet area etc…) on big planes.
  • If your main concern is the noise, you should avoid seats directly behind reactors, and prefer seats right at the front or at the back of the plane: those areas are usually quieter. On some flights, there can be ‘quiet areas‘ which you have to pay a bit extra for, but they are worth it. This is like a in-between first class and economy class. They are closed by curtains and dividing walls, and usually empty.

20180801_144630If you really want to get the best seats, go over to Seat Guru* after you’ve paid your plane tickets: this website allows you to know which seats are the best ones on your specific plane. Then go over to your registration site online, and simply book those magic seats!

I know you’re probably thinking ‘Well, you’ve entitled this ‘Do not stress over your seat’ but you’ve actually been saying the opposite!‘ and I would say you’re perfectly right, but here’s my conclusion (and my real tip):

 

All of what I’ve just said before doesn’t matter, because whatever seat you get on the plane, it will be uncomfortable, and there isn’t one seat or row that can be called ‘the best’. Why? Because the definition of good entirely depends on your preferences, which may even vary from one flight to another!

For example, if you know you’ll be tired on the plane because it is a night flight, then make sure you get a seat where you won’t be disturbed for the whole duration of the flight. But if your flight starts on early afternoon, make sure you get an aisle seat to be able to stretch your legs and go to the bathroom as you like!

Also, if you know your plane is going to be huge (Boeing 747 or Airbus A380) do not worry about anything I’ve said before, because those planes are so comfortable and spacious that you won’t even realize you’re on an aircraft.

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Emirates Airbus A380 – we took 2 of them when we got back from Singapore!

So the best place you can get depends entirely on you! Just be aware of all the possibilities you have and you’ll be fine!

3. Bring Water And Food

A 10-hour flight is long, very long. Especially if you anxiously wait for food.

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Usually you get 3 meals in a 10-hour flight. I don’t know the rule for sure but the company usually respects normal hours to eat.

For example, even if you cross on another time zone, flight attendants will bring you food when it lunch/dinner time in the place you’ve left. Same goes with breakfast and a small snack in the middle of the afternoon.

You could be thinking that’s more than alberto-ignacio-ardila-conoce-la-comida-de-avic3b3n-sin-tener-que-probarlaenough to stay fulfilled, but it actually isn’t: even for me the portions were too small. To give you a bit of a background, I’m french, therefore not used to big portions as in America for example, and I don’t eat that much anyway. But the portions were so small I always had to purchase food at the airport, after the security check, to bring on the plane with me!

The same goes with water: you usually get 4 or 5 drinks during a 10-hour flight, and you can ask a glass of water each time, but this cannot be enough under any circumstances. You need to double the amount of water you would normally drink: so for every 8 hours, you should drink up to 2 L of water to stay hydrated! This is due to the air-recycling inside the cabin, which is creating an extremely dry environment (see more details below).

Water tips: bring your bottle with you. I would suggest bringing a 1,5 L bottle. To pass the security check, present it empty: the security won’t say anything to you even if you see signs everywhere telling you to get rid of your bottles! What they don’t want are fluids, because you can have explosives in them. So if you have an empty bottle, that doesn’t interest them! Then, you can refill your bottle in any bathroom, or with any source you find, especially for that purpose!

On the plane, you can actually ask the flight attendants to refill your bottle for you when they pass between seats offering drinks! Not a lot of people know this, so there actually always is enough water for everyone because they have extra.

4. Always Go To The Restrooms When You Have The Chance

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This is a small but efficient tip.

Go to the bathroom right before boarding the plane, right after take-off, and more generally, don’t wait to go: at the second you start to get cramps, because if you wait, you’re likely to get stuck for a long time in a queue that never seems to end..

People usually tend to go all at once an hour or two after take-off, and the line can go on forever! Imagine all 300 passengers or more all sharing 4 or 6 bathrooms at the same time?! And usually, the toilet paper is lacking after 2 hours in the air. So make sure you go before all that frenzy!

5. Stay Focused On Your Well-Being

Who said spending long hours on airplanes should equal to landing in a poor physical condition? In fact, if you follow the basic recommendations, not one spot is likely to appear on your face, nor your nose is going to be runny or your throat sore. It all depends on how much effort you put in your well-being during the flight.

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(c) Beautygeeks

Firstly, be prepared, and bring your skincare and eye-care stuff: as long as you respect the size requirements for liquids, you can bring whatever you need/want:

  • hand cream,
  • face cream,
  • lip balm,
  • hand sanitizer,
  • eye drops,
  • eye masks,
  • face masks…

whatever will help your skin stay hydrated and your eyes not feel sore and be red. Because of course, the biggest enemy inside the plane cabin is dehydration.

Why is it that the inside of an aircraft cabin is so dry? It is due to the cabin pressurization, which is a process in which conditioned air is pumped into the cabin of an aircraft or spacecraft, in order to create a safe and comfortable environment for passengers and crew flying at high altitudes. For aircraft, this air is usually bled off from the gas turbine engines at the compressor stage.

Be careful though as the pressure will make your creams literally escape from their container as soon as you open them!

Secondly, drink the water you’ve taken with you! Nothing replaces water to be really hydrated, so drink as much as you can, even if it means you’ll go to the bathroom a lot: the choice is yours to make.


I hope those tips were useful to you, please make sure to like this article or leave me a comment if you’ve learned something or if you know you’ll be using one of my tips on your next flight! I’d be delighted to hear from you 🙂

Take care and have a good one,

Lilly, aka The French Hat


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