This month has definitely been a weird one. For the most part, I’ve been in York. Hanging out, working, job hunting, you name it. To be totally honest, I haven’t had much extra cash to justify many trips anywhere. And as much as I promote budget travel here on the blog, the reality is that you do have to have some money to travel. And, ya know, eating is more important. So with the exception of a birthday weekend in the Lake District, and a quick overnight to party in Newcastle, this month has been pretty quiet. Here’s what I got up to in September:

Where I Went

York, Grange, Keswick, Honister, Buttermere, Cockermouth, Newcastle (United Kingdom)

Best Moments

Another trip to the Lake District. This has easily become my number one discovery in the UK this year. Read more about my last trip here! The Lake District National Park is full of amazing sites, excellent hiking opportunities, and just in general getting away from the city and enjoying the peace and quiet of the country. This was my first time exploring the area around Keswick, including Derwentwater, Honister Pass, Buttermere and more. It is a fabulous part of the world and I absolutely can’t wait to return.

This was the first official trip to the rural countryside with a car. And man oh man, it was SO much easier. The Lakes are actually quite well connected by public transportation, as they have a bus network that covers lots of the hotspots. But having our own car meant so much freedom. We could stop for photos whenever we felt like it, enjoy a hike instead of rushing for a bus at the end, and just in general have a great sense of freedom. It was so great.

Offering travel advice about Belarus to one of the top travel bloggers, Adventurous Kate. As a pioneer in solo female travel blogging, Kate has been one of my inspirations since I started this blog. She recently visited Belarus, and was planning on leaving by train to Lithuania. As part of the new visa-free scheme in Belarus, you have to fly in and out of Minsk airport. I wasn’t sure if she had gotten a visa after all, had connections as a blogger, knew something I didn’t, or whatever. But I casually commented on one of her Facebook posts about leaving Belarus by air as well as arriving.

And good thing I did! She didn’t know that you had to fly both in and out of Minsk Airport. And I’m not sure what would have happened had she tried to leave Belarus by train (yelled at, fined, and sent back to Minsk is a best case scenario I think). I’m really glad I saw it on Facebook and thought to comment! It was pretty exciting getting to offer advice to someone I admire and respect.

She made a whole post about it and gave me a shout out. I really appreciated that. And it just goes to show, always always do your research. Even the best, most experienced travelers can mess up—so it’s always worth double-checking.

Figuring out Transferwise. Since I moved to the UK, I’ve been transferring money to myself (pounds to dollars) every month on PayPal to pay my credit card and student loans (of which all payments are in dollars). I’d heard about Transferwise, another money-transfer organization, ages ago. And after getting so fed up with PayPal’s ridiculous and expensive fees, I thought I’d give it a go. AND I LOVED IT! Transferwise is pretty simple: I make a payment to the Transferwise bank account from my UK bank account (in pounds), and then the Transferwise account puts my money (in dollars) into my US bank account. It’s super easy to set up transfers. It generally takes about week to process the transaction, but the fees are smaller. And unlike PayPal, they use the actual exchange rate, instead of ripping you off and including a “currency conversion fee” in the exchange rate! I’ll be doing a bigger post on it in the next month or so.

 

Getting a gym membership. For my birthday this month, my parents gifted me a 3-month membership to a gym in York. I love the gym—I love lifting weights, I love yoga classes, I love getting to sweat out my frustrations and exercise my body at the same time. I haven’t had a gym membership since I finished college (oh, those good ol’ days when I had time to work out 5-7 days a week and was a 5-10 minute walk from the gym…), and haven’t been to a gym at all since I moved almost a year ago. A gym membership is something that I just couldn’t really justify, especially now when I’m pretty tight on money. But I LOVE THE GYM and I have missed it so much! It’s good to be back.

Exciting news: an upcoming visit from a friend! I got a message from one of my old friends who I used to work with at Black Dog, about planning a trip to London. Not only am I hoping to meet up with her in London for the weekend, but she is also planning on visiting and staying here in York at the beginning! Getting to see people from home is so special for me, and I’m so excited. I can’t wait to show off the city I live in to someone!

Worst Moments

Dealing with bullshit from my student loans. In August, one of the companies I have my student loans with changed their website. They also added on fees to all transactions besides recurring payments, without bothering to notify me that their terms of service have changed. So last month, I set up a monthly recurring payment. Unfortunately, they never actually took the money from my account, so when I logged in at the beginning of September, I was not only past due, but had somehow racked up late fees!

The most frustrating part of this is that there is no way for me to contact this company without calling their US phone number. It costs £2.50/minute on my regular phone plan, so before I could even call them and sort it out, I had to add on an extra plan to my phone contract (luckily with Vodafone, it’s quite cheap—100 minutes for £3). After sitting on hold for 45 minutes, I finally got through to someone who sorted it out. But it was infuriating, since I had set up monthly payments anyway, and then I had to go through the hassle of contacting someone to fix their own error! I’m not kidding, it is so fucking hard having student loans when you live in another country, earn an income in a different currency, and can’t just call up when you feel like it. It sucks.

The bureaucracy of trying to get a UK provisional driver’s license. Because my US driver’s license expired on my birthday (September 17), I knew I needed to get a UK driver’s license. And now that we have a car I’m trying to learn how to drive. But in order to get a driver’s license, I need to first get a provisional (permit), take the theory test, and take the practical test. Even though I’ve been driving for nearly 10 years. And all of these things cost money—my provisional license was a birthday gift that clocked in at £34. Then I got a letter stating that I had to formally apply for the provisional license, and send off my passport or BRP (biometric residence permit) that prove my right to live/work in the UK. And they refuse to take photocopies, so I had to send off my precious BRP, the only physical proof I have that I’m allowed to live here. Luckily, I got both my provisional license and my BRP back last week. But it was so incredibly stressful.

All of this was happening while I’ve been applying for jobs, where if I was offered a job and wasn’t able to prove my right to work in the UK with my BRP, they could legally deny me the job. So yeah, those two weeks without it really sucked.

Learning to drive. I’m still learning to drive in the UK. And it still fucking sucks. It is so so SO HARD. I’ve been driving for so long, that not being able to do it feels like someone cut off one of my limbs. It is so frustrating and I end most practice drives by crying. I’m hoping it gets better soon.

Jobs/work/money/stress. My dream month is going to be the month where I don’t have to be stressed about jobs and money. And I don’t have to put this in a monthly recap. I’m still looking for jobs, and have been rejected from every job I’ve applied to, without an interview, since I got back from my trip. It is seriously depressing and so hard to maintain a positive attitude and keep my confidence up. It’s so exhausting and so depressing. While I’m grateful to be working at my old job, the toxic work environment has really become unbearable. There is so much drama, every single day, and it’s just too exhausting. Please keep your fingers crossed for me!

My birthday was a bit of a bummer. The day started off so well, in the Lake District getting to see so many amazing places! But on the drive back to York, reality set in: I’m 25 (which is OLD), I hate my job, I’m not making enough money, have no career, etc. (whatever other negative thing I happened to be thinking/feeling at that moment). I so appreciated the birthday messages from family/friends this year, more than ever!

Posts Published

Well, I didn’t think I’d ever have a better month of publishing posts than last month—I published 16 posts in August! I did 10 posts this month, which I’m still really proud of. But the good news is that I’ve managed to work my way through my giant backlog of destination posts about my trip! In just about 6 weeks! Here’s what I published in September:

Hostel Review: Revolucion Hostel, Minsk

A Guide To Kiev

Visiting the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone In Ukraine

Hostel Review: Dream House Hostel, Kiev

Moldova: The Last Undiscovered Place In Europe?

Brasov: An Introduction To Transylvania

Hostel Review: Kismet Dao Hostel, Brasov

A Quick Guide To Bucharest

Hostel Review: Podstel Hostel, Bucharest

Varna: Bliss On The Black Sea

Instagram Top 3

I’m not that surprised that my birthday photo from the Lake District was the top photo on Instagram this month!

Hello from one of my favorite places in England: the Lake District! ❤ This national park is simply phenomenal. Every bend of the road or top of a peak reveals views like this. Absolutely stunning natural beauty 😍 . This shot is near the top of Helvellyn, one of the highest peaks in the Lake District at 949 meters, overlooking Thirlmere. . I didn’t have wifi or phone signal for most of this weekend, but I’d happily give it up all over again for views like this! I got to explore so many new, beautiful places like this over the weekend and I’m so grateful. . Today is also my birthday! And I couldn’t have asked for a better place to ring in 25 (am I old yet?!?) than among scenery like this 😘 . . . . . #helvellyn #thirlmere #lakedistrict #lakedistrictnationalpark #lakedistrictuk #lakescollective #lakelandphoto #fromlakelandwithlove #notjustlakes #visitlakedistrict #lakedistrictphotography #lakedistrictadventures #ig_lakes #iglakedistrict #igerscumbria #instabritain #visitbritain #visitengland #photosofbritain #photosofengland #lovegreatbritain #ukpotd #scenicbritain #explore_Britain #visualsofbritain #dametraveler #sheisnotlost #wearetravelgirls #womenwhoexplore #femaletravelbloggers

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain . Grab life by the horns. Go on an adventure. Book that ticket. Say yes to that idea. You can make your own dreams happen! ✨ . This photo was taken on top of Mount Tampa in Brasov, Romania. It wasn’t an easy hike up, but the views were so worth it 😍 . It’s officially September, and my monthly recap post for August is live on the blog! Link in bio 😊 Happy weekend everyone! ❤ . . . . . #brasov #romania #brasovcity #brasovromania #brasovulmagic #ig_Brasov #ig_Romania #discoverromania #romaniamagica #visitromania #romaniamea #romaniawow #enjoyromania #romaniatravel #total_romania #topromaniaphoto #romaniapitoreasca #romaniateiubesc #takemetoromania #romania365 #easterneurope #travelshotba #balkans #dametraveler #sheisnotlost #femmetravel #wearetravelgirls #womenwhoexplore #femaletravelbloggers #travelblogger

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The Pechersk Lavra in Kiev is one of the holiest places in Ukraine, and for the entire Eastern Orthodox Church. The complex is made up of 144 buildings, and is most famous for its cave monasteries! ✨ . Kiev was one of my favorite places of my trip this summer. Something about the city just clicked with me. I loved the vibe and the atmosphere of the city, the spirit of the place. It was one of the first places I’ve been to where I thought, “yeah, I could stay here for a month or two.” I absolutely loved it! ❤ . New blog post with my full guide to Kiev is now live on the blog! Link in bio 😊 Kiev, I’ll be back someday! 😘 . . . . . #kiev #kyiv #ukraine #pechersklavra #kievgram #kievblog #kievtoday #kievnow #kievmap #i_love_Kiev #instakiev #kiev_photo #kiev_photography #igers_Kiev #kyivlove #kyivgram #kyiv_miy #visitukraine #ig_Ukraine #ukraine_blog #ukraineforall #photo_Ukraine #ukrainegram #ukrainetoday #passionpassport #beautifuldestinations #natgeotravelpic #lpfanphoto #Киïв #Украïна

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Carcassone, France // Photo by Philipp Hertzog via Wikimedia

Coming Up in October

Most of October will be pretty relaxed, as I continue looking for a job. I have tentative plans for a daytrip or two around Yorkshire, and I’m hoping to have another weekend hiking in the Yorkshire Dales! Besides that, the month will be pretty quiet until I head to France at the end of October. I’m super excited for this trip to France. We’ll be in the south, based in Carcassonne and spending time in Toulouse as well. This is the region where Adam lived during his year abroad, and I can’t wait to see this part of the country. I’ve only ever been to Paris, for just 3 days in May 2014! And after speaking Russian every day for over a month this summer, I’m definitely excited to let Adam the fluent-French-speaker, take control 😉 We’ll be gone for 5 days altogether, which is exciting.

What was your September like? Any plans for October?