19 April 2017

So, I've quit my job and left home to travel the world. I've left behind my friends, all my worldly belogingings and (much to my dismay) the puppy. But not my makeup. A rather full, makeup bag most definitely made it into my teeny tiny carry on bag that I've been living out of whilst I travel. So I though today, I'd run you through all the details of why and what I packed in my makeup bag for my 4 month long adventure around the world. How does that sound?


When I go on holiday, it's normally to somewhere hot. You know the drill; palm tree's, long stretches of beach and PiƱa Colada's. Normally, that somewhere I'm going tends to be somewhere I won't be wearing makeup. And if I am, I won't be wearing an awful lot of it, that's for sure! Where makeup is concerned, I'm a fairly light packer (unlike other area's of packing, but we won't talk about that here). I tend to go for products that are multifunctional, so as though to save room in my bag for more necessary things. Ya'know an outfit for every occaision. A good cheek palette like the Urban Decay 'Naked Blushed' palette is my go to for the cheeks but looks absolutely beautiful on my eyes too.

On this occaision however, I'm hitting two completely different climates! It was in the minus temperatures whilst I was in Iceland a couple weeks ago, and the weather man says it's going to be highs of 30 in the Phillipines next week. And, if the climates weren't enough, I'll be hitting a variety of places too. I've seen Volcano's and Emerald lakes already, but currently I'm enjoying city life in Japan.

I literally have to pack for every scenario. Sounds crazy right. But I wasn't going to be hitting this adventure bare faced. I'll be reliving my memoried from this trip, forever through photo's and as silly as it sounds, I always feel more confident and like 'myself' with a bit of concealer and my winged eyeliner.

So, I bit the bullet and packed a full makeup bag of products for this trip. I have tried to be a little more frugal than my generic day-to-day makeup bag. I mentioned in a post earlier this year that I wanted my travel wardrobe (including my makeup) to be as minamalist and versatile as possible. So that's what I've tried. It was quite the treacherous task. Packing for all weathers was a tough one. But I think I've done it, and it's working for me well, so far. I'll definitely keep you updated on that one though!



ON THE FACE




So you know 30 seconds ago I was talking about being minamalist and frugal, yada yada. Well, that went straight out the window when I packed my foundations. Yep, plural. Well, sort of.

A couple weeks before I left, Kat Von D sent over their 'Lock It Tattoo' foundation which I fell in love with. Emphasis on the fell in love! The coverage is fantastic, the stay power is incredible and well, there was just no way I was leaving home without it. However, I was very aware that once I got to the Phillipines, it would be going back in my suitcase and not coming out again until I returned home. Because let's be realistic, no one wants high coverage foundation when it's 30 degree's outside. To replace it however, I packed my go-to travel staple; The Body Shop 'All-in-One' BB Cream. I always travel with this. In fact, if you were to go back and find some of my older 'What's in my Travel Makeup Bag' posts, you'll see it.

It's super light weight so you don't feel cakey and heavy, but it's got just enough coverage to make me feel comfortable and happy with my skin. AND, it adapts to your skin tone, so no matter how much you tan whilst your away, this is always the shade for you. It's magical.

For concealer I went with my favourite, Urban Decay 'Naked Skin' Concealer. It works an absolute treat on days when I can't be fussed for a full face. It brightens my under eyes and covers those pesky spots. And with the terrible diet I have at the moment because money is tight (we're literally living on packet noodles and soup!), there's been a few of those!

I don't tend to use powder an awful lot anymore because my skin in too dry. In it's place, is the NYX 'Matte Setting Spray' which is just delightful to just spritz on your face when you're hot and sticky! It's a necessity for places where it's humid as otherwise my makeup will disappear in T-Minus 5 seconds. However, it was super helpful in Iceland too when the rain and wind decided to batter us blind.

I am an absolute sucker for good highlight and I am addicted to the Becca 'Shimmering Skin Perfector' in Opal. I have a cute, travel sized version with a handy dauffer applicator so it's super small and I didn't have to pack a brush to go with it! Perfect for the minamalist traveller.



IT'S ALL ABOUT THE EYES




For eyes, I packed not one, not two but three liquid liners. I am a liquid liner addict, it's very rare for me to leave the house without my precious wings. Whilst that won't be the case once I get to the Phillipines and onwards, it's been most certainly been the case so far! The 'Supercat Liner' by Soap and Glory is my highstreet favourite, but it doesn't last consdierably long! Hence why it was necessary to pack three!

For Mascara I packed the Rimmel London 'Scandaleyes XX-treme'. It's been the only one I've used in the past 12 months and has impressed me far more than any designer brand has. It thickens and lengthens my lashes and I always get so many compliments when I use it.

In the last year, I've really fallen in love with shaping and filling in my brows. My go to always is the Anstasia Beverley Hills 'Dip Brow Pomade' but alas in my fight to be frugal, it didn't make it on this trip. I needed something that was simple and easy to apply, something that would be quick to put on whilst on the go. Which the ABH gel brow was not.

However, I picked up my next best favourite, the 'Archery' pencil by Soap and Glory. It has a super fine nib, so is really precise and looks beautifully natural. Again though, (this might be a theme with Soap and Glory products) the pencil doesn't last particuarly long, so 3 pencils were very necessary on this trip! Minamalist, no probably not. But I've already finished my first!


And that's that. One month into my four month travel stint and I think I've packed a really flexible, fairly frugal makeup bag. I'm very proud that I didn't cave last minute and add more. In fact I actually took a couple of items out. Like a bronzer and my Daniel Sandler 'Watercolour Blush'. I remembered I had a limit on liquids travelling with hand-luggage only. What do you think? Would you have packed your makeup bag any differently for a trip similar to this? I'm intrigued to know if anyone out there would pack any makeup at all! My attempt at being minimalist might be laughable but I'm always keen to learn from someone who can do it.

Before I leave you, I just wanted to pop a shameless plug in here. I've been taking a tonne of photo's from my trip and if you're interested, I've been posting them almost daily on my Instagram. My partner in crime and travel guide extrodinaire, George, has been posting some really sweet photo's too! If you head over there, leave him a little comment and tell him I sent you. I'll be swimming in Girlfriend points if you do!

Love always,
Melissa

12 April 2017

Iceland seems to be at the top of everyone's bucketlists at the moment and for very, very good reasons. The country is unlike any other but being cut off from mainland suppliers of almost everything, things get expensive and pretty fast. However, I have some tips that will help you to tick of Iceland from your wanderlust list and travel without breaking the bank. How to travel Iceland on a budget...


I did an awful lot of research before leaving for Iceland on how to make the most of my trip. Whilst blog posts on travelling the magical land of Iceland seem to be popping up a little more than they were a few years ago, the information within them seems to be more of the same. You can spend hours reading about the tourist hotspots on the Golden Circle and how to explore the eclectic city of Reykjavik. If you look hard enough, there's even a few posts on the alien landscapes once you leave the Golden Circle. However, the one thing all these posts have in common, is that they spend most of the post reiterating how expensive Iceland is and how much it's going to leave a gaping hole in your bank balance.

Now, I'm not going to tell you any different, Iceland is not cheap. But it's totally affordable if you're really dedicated to make it that way.

I got so fed up of hearing about how expensive Iceland is when I was researching my trip, that it kind of became my goal to make something else. Which I think I smashed. There are always ways to save money and Iceland is no different from that. Being frugal and budgeting isn't for the weak hearted when you're exploring somewhere new. The desire to eat at every restaurant and shop in every shop almost killed me. When you've been living off of dry cereal and packet noodles even for just a few days the withdrawel of 'real food' can almost be a game changer. George and I really went cold turkey, be all end all on this trip. But you can do anything you put your mind to, right!

What do you want from your trip to Iceland?


Depending on what you're coming to Iceland for, will completely depict how much money you're looking at spedning whilst you there. Most of the time, tourists come to Iceland for it's natural beauty; like the volcano's, waterfalls and geysirs. But Iceland has so much more to offer than just what you can find on the Golden Circle.

The trick to saving the most money, is to know what you need/want to see/do. Chances are you're going to leave Iceland after your first visit knowing that you want to go back many, many times after. Even with a reasonable budget, you'll never see and experience everything Iceland has to offer in one visit. So go into planning your first trip with the mindset that you're going to come back. If you're on a budget, and I'll put money on the fact that because you're reading this post you are, then figuring out a list on un-missables is you're best plan.


If your dream is to eat your way through Iceland's best restaurants, then you're not going to need to venture much further than the Golden Circle. Arguable I know, but if you're on a budget, then going all the way to Akureyri for the countries best hot dog is a little ridiculous. Scrap that, it's very ridiculous. If you're here for the food then there are some incredible eateries in the city which will satisfy your senses completely. No need to venture to the other side of the country. What's more, is when you're not eating you can spend your time on one or two of the guided tours to the Golden Circle, because you can't go all that way and not leave Reykjavik.

On the other hand however, if you're all about the sightseeing and the roads less travelled, then I'd get out of the city as fast as you can. Like I mentioned, Reykjavik is filled with so many incredible, deliciously smelling restaurants that compared to British prices, are so expensive. But they smell so good, you'll want to spend the money. Which is a big no, no when on a budget. If you're there for the sights then you'll want to hire a car, guided tours are great but there's nothing better than travelling at your own pace. But more on that later...


How to save money when you know what you want to do


I'm going to keep going back to those two scenario's, you either A) want to visit Iceland for the city life and food or B) want to see the sights. Because let's face it, Iceland has nothing on Scandenavia and you're most certainly not visiting for the weather.

But, once you figure out what category you're in, and honestly I can't say this enough, if you're on a budget it's not going to be easy if you're in both. Pick the one that you want the most, there's always room for comprimise later.

Anyway, scenario A), you're all about the food. Reykjavik has a plethora of restaurants on offer (I recommend Svarta Kaffid, seriously, check it out) and chances are, you'll be enticed by them all. Which also lends a good chance that you're going to be spending a bit of $$$. Realistically, a single course dinner with tap water and a tip is going to set you back at least 2300KR (£17) for just one person. So, if you're there for 4 days and eat out for every meal, which you can, you're looking at spending a minimum £200 on food.

Do your research, figure out what eateries you can't miss, like the Icelandic Hot Dog which they cover in cheese, garlic mayo and Dorito's. Yes, Dorito's. If you're staying in a Hostel or AirBnB then you'll have access to a kitchen. As far as I'm aware, there aren't any stand-out Icelandic breakfasts, so picking up some cereal or toast and eating in will save you money. If you can, maybe try cooking for yourselves at lunch time too. There's always a lot of 'different' foods sold in any 'new' grocery store than what you might find in your local at home. So taking the time out to experience home-foods from the Icelandic grocery stores will still be working towards your 'experiencing Icelandic food'goal, just not spending as much money!

TOP TIP: Only shop at Bonus when you're grocery shopping. And when you can pick the products with the EuroSave logo on them.

Scenario B); you want to walk the roads less travelled. As long as you don't go too far, for example staying on the ring road and not venturing too far North, then you've got quite a good chance at doing this on a budget.

George and I travelled the southern coastline in a Camper Van, which meant what we paid for the van, covered our transport and accomodation expenses in one. It also meant that we could be really flexible about where we were going in the daytime and where we could end up each night. We had no hostel reservations to abide by like you would if you hire a car. And no pre-booked tours to attend even if there was a torrential downpoor. We were truly free birds, going where we wanted and when we wanted. Which I'd thoroughly recommend, considering your itinerary will be 100% depicted by the weather when you visit.

When do you want to go? 


Summer is peak season in Iceland because the weather is slightly more predictable (although only by a fraction) and the days are long. Seriously long. I'm talking, the sun doesn't set in August. So you can expect to be spending more than premium prices to travel Iceland in Summer. It's the most popular time of year to camp and there are lots of celebrations, festivals and activities to keep you occupied all 24hours of daylight.

In winter, the prices are more affordable. Still quite steep, this is Iceland remember, but it's more accessible on a smaller budget at this time. The weather however is more unpredictable and the temperatures can be below freezing in winter too. However, if you're dreaming of seeing the Northern lights whilst you're there, you've got a good chance in the colder seasons. Particularly in March. George and I travelled in the last week of March and only paid to park our camper and stay overnight once. Wild camping in Iceland is illegal all year round however the campsights which are open 365days of the year seemed fairly flexible about charging in low season. We wern't trying to specifically elude the charges either, on our first night we asked the guy how much and he just shrugged us off.


I'm not going to pretend that Iceland was a breeze and super cheap, because it wasn't. We spent roughly £1100 on our 6 day trip, including flights, tours and camper hire (George and I went with Camp Easy for our Van which were phenominal by the way, I would 100% recommend). Not to mention insurance and all that nonsense you need when you travel. But it was 100% worth it and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. But to recap on how to save money when travelling Iceland:
  • Know what you want to get out of your trip, and remember that you can always come back if you don't get everything done first try.
  • The weather will define what you do, have an itinerary to make the most out of your time but be flexible about when you do your activities. Don't trust the weather report more that 3 hours in advance because it's seriously unpredicatable. You'll also save money on tours by not booking in advance due to weather too. A freak storm before your Ice Cave adventure would mean losing out on a lot of $$$ as you couldn't make it to the meeting site because of unsafe road conditions.
  • But, do do tours. Some of the most spectacular things in Iceland isn't accessible without a guide. And don't think it is. A four wheel drive is great but you will get stuck in the snow trying to get to the Ice Caves. There's a reason the tour guides drive monster trucks. No joke. Just remember to shop around, there are lots of tour operators offering the same thing for different prices. 
  • Go to fancy restaurants but eat from the kitchen in your hotel room too. You can eat in for three nights for the same price as eating at a restaurant for one! Experiencing the local delicacies requires you to experience the grocery shops too. When was the last time you ate vacuum packed shrimp?
  • When grocery shopping, stick to Bonus. All the other supermarkets stock imported food which is two thirds more expensive than the stuff you find in Bonus (look for a giant pig for the logo). Remember to look for items with the 'EuroSave' logo, that's Icelands equivilant of Sainsbury's 'Basic' range or Morrison's 'Value' products.
  • Why are you staying in a hotel? Tourism in Iceland is only just starting to make a break, meaning the hotels that there are sell out fast and are super pricey. There are a few hostels but if you're not up for camping, I'd recommend Air BnB. The Icelandic people are super friendly and accomodating and it'll definitely save you a lot.
  • Winter is the cheapest time to visit, think about the shoulder seasons when the temperatures aren't too extreme (October/November & March/April) but prices are still discounted.

If you're interested, I've been Instagramming like crazy throughout my trip so if you need some Iceland inspo or generally just fancy getting some wanderlust jealousy. I mean, who doesn't spend half their day scrolling through insane travel accounts? Because I most certainly.

Love always,
Melissa

5 April 2017

If you've been following me on social media, then it'll be no surprise to know about my dreams to travel the world. And how in 2017, they finally came true. Planning my circle the globe trip has been one of the most bumpy and uncofortable roads. So I thought I'd talk to you about all the things I wish I knew when planning my round-the-world trip!


It's no word of a lie that the planning process for this trip was the most stressful trip I have ever planned. Ever.

I read all the travel blogs you could think of. Nomadic Matt. Expert Vagabond. Hand Luggage Only. I read them all (Which I 100% recommend, they tell you about some really invaluable information!) I took notes. Prepared calendars and spreadsheets, and it was something I felt really prepared for! Yet, it was still something I lost a lot of hair over. Why? Beacause it's just impossible to know everything, and a first person account of what they did before you, is only as good as their honesty to the mistakes they made. I read a lot about what you should do, but nothing about what not to do and why they wish they hadn't.

Most of the blogs and books I read about travelling, whether it one country or many, mentioned that it's ideal to have a vague idea of what you want to do but go with open possibilties. No time constraints. You don't need to book every hostel, boat and tour. It's great to have an idea about what you want from each of your destinations but open dates and times make your travelling more flexible.

When I started the planning process, that's what my intentions were. I was going to book my outbound flights and my first few nights accomodation in Reykjavik, Iceland and the rest would be an open road. I'd go where the wind took me. Sounds dreamy right. Well it was, until I realised that there are restrictions to travelling the world as a free bird. And it's most certainly not as 'easy' as everyone makes it sound. Running with the wind is only as good as the wind blows. Ironically, the wind blows very strong in Iceland but accomodation and transport are limited. Plus, Iceland is a hot commodity on a wanderers bucketlist at the moment! It's not somewhere you can go and just 'see what happens.' 


Why are you going travelling? What you want to achieve? What is most important to you?


Knowing what you want to get out of your trip. If you want to go swimming with Whale sharks in the Phillipines, write that down. If you want to climb active Volcano's in Bali, right that down too. Figure out where in the world your dreams are taking you. Would you rather explore mountain tops in the snow or walk bare foot on the beaches in Asia? If you're on a strict budget, it'd be best to try to narrow your destinations down. East or West? Know that the further East you go, the cheaper things get. So if your mission is to be gone as long as possible, Asia is your best bet. However it's not impossible to do Europe and the America's on a budget either. If your dream is to tackle lots of cultures and multiple climates, then larger budgets and shorter time scales are ideal (but again it's not impossible).

Try to be as realistic as possible and as knowlegeable about what you want to do whilst you're away. Having a bucketlist of idea's will help you to filter down to the things most important to you, this will help you decide on a budget. Or if you already have a budget, whether there's enough money to realistically achieve what you want.

Whilst you don't need to plan every detail, it's great to have a list of hightlights. Or 'not to miss'. Things you know you must do and is part of the reason you're travelling in the first place.

Set a realistic budget and stick to it


The most important bit here is the word 'realistic'! I went into this whole planning process thinking that my money would go much, much further than it does here in England. Which is possible, but not with the countries I was travelling to. Anywhere in the west, bar maybe south America is notoriously expensive and you can look at spending anywhere up to triple what you'd be spending in Asia.

In Scandinavia prices are extortionate on an all around basis, North America is cheaper but transport and accomodation is where you'll spend the most money! Japan (I'm told), is a sort of middle ground. Accomodation and food can be super affordable, just as long as you look in the right places but if you want to ride the bullet train, you're looking at about £200 for a 7 day ticket.

My best advice would be to figure your budget out first, then decide where you want to go after. Research will tell you if your plans are feasible. And don't get misty eyed when you look at you bank balance. It's easy to look and see £1,000's and think the entire balance is spending money. It'll be a big shock when flights are booked, accomodation is reserved and you only have half left! It was for me!





"Sorry Sir. No Visa, no entry!"


The idea of buying a one way ticket and just flying free is dreamy, but not practical or realistic. Once you get out of Europe, you're pretty much restricted to where you can go next without the proper paperwork and permission. Most countries require you to obtain a Visa before entry, which can take up to 6 weeks to get. Definitely not ideal.

In Asia, the Visa situation is a little more relaxed and you're allowed to travel to and from without permission for up to 6 months in some countries. However, most Asian countries, including the Phillipines and Japan only offer 30 days travel without a Visa.

Once you have an idea about where you want to go and how long for, do a little research into Visa's and travel permits. If you're on a strict budget, this could change how long you plan to stay or whether you go to a place altoegther. I recommend your local Embassy website but the Lonely Planet were also great sources of information. Whilst I didn't have too much of an issue obtaining my Visa's where they were necessary, it definitely put a holt in the 'one way ticket' plan!

Ask a travel agent about a Round-The-World airfare!


If you're planning to circle the globe or visiting mutliple far set destinations, then round the world air tickets are a must. They're not something often advertised on online travel websites but they can help you save a lot of dosh.

They work by purchasing flights with airlines who are affiliated with one another, such as the Star Alliance. You can buy up to 15 flights and will get considerable discounts, so long as you're travelling in one direction. George and I managed to pick up our RTW flights for just £1,200. Which seems like alot. However, if you consider a flight from Iceland to Vancouver alone works out at almost half of that, and then factor in the 4 extra long-haul flights we have included in our deal. It's quite the bargain.

STA Travel were absolute rockstars at helping us to book our flights and getting us the best deal possible. They even offer flexi passes which allow you to change your flights for free if you decide you want to stay somewhere longer! Meaning the 'free bird' plan isn't as far from the horizon as it was measuring up to be!



When is the best time to go?


Now this really depends on where you go. George and I decided we wanted to visit Iceland in March because it's the best time of year to spot the Northern Lights. Plus, there's more daylight than in the winter at this time of year, but it isn't as busy as during the summer. This does mean however, that by the time we arrive in Asia we're going to be battleing the monsoon.

You're not going to get the best weather and the best time of year in every destination unless you're zigzagging back and forth across the globe. If you can, then by all means, but I'm willing to bet you don't quite have the budget for that! Decide what you to see, do or experience the most. What is the most important thing for you to return home with. For us, the Northern Lights was just that. We've been to Asia before, it's just a little bonus at the end of our trip. Plus the monsoon isn't always so bad.


How many times did I say the word 'realistic'? I think it's important for me to tell you the negatives of planning to travel the world. I read so, so many blog posts and travel guides and not one of them told me how easy it is to get carried away and forget to be realistic. I hope, I was insightful and helpful and not too much of a negative nancy!

I'm currently in Japan, but if you're planning to travel, whether it be round the world or just on a quick-nip-vacation, and have any questions let me know. I've got all the time in the world now I'm unemployed to help you out!

Love always,
Melissa

15 March 2017

It's a bit of a weird thing to say, "products I hate but can't get rid of." Why if you dislike them so much, can you not bear to part with them? It's slightly ridiculous. Well, that's the moral of this sorry story, 4 products I never use and don't particularly like, but I absolutely cannot get rid of them...


A couple of weeks ago I talked about beauty products I love dearly but practically never use. I'm talking, I've used them once but not in years. Which got me thinking about the state of my makeup collection and how much of it I actually value.


At the moment I'm preparing to go traveling for 4 months and my main goal is to create a minimalistic lifestyle. A wardrobe that is versatile but small to fit in my carry-on bag, personal items that bring me joy and a joyfully minimal makeup bag. Fighting my way through my ridiculously sized makeup collection was a feat and getting rid of products that don't fit my minimal goal set was even harder. Especially where these 4 products come into things.


MAC // Retro Matte Lipstick, Ruby Woo


My heart is soft for this lipstick. I picked it up on my 22nd birthday, to wear to my Taylor Swift themed party later that day. What screams "I'm feeling twenty-two" more than a red lip straight out of Taylor's '22' music video! Honestly not much, but since then I haven't worn it much. The retro matte formula makes it almost impossible to apply without snapping the bullet into two pieces or purchasing the 'pre-treatment lip balm' that accompanies the range. And me being a poor student when I bought the lipstick didn't quite have the funds to buy a glorified tube of vaseline. Which means I don't ever wear the lipstick.

I can't get rid of it because it's the perfect keepsake from my 22nd Birthday and my favourite age I've been. Plus who doesn't want a rather voluptuous MAC lipstick collection, even if there is a bullet I never use.


Urban Decay // Naked 3 Eyeshadow Palette


I talked about my love for the Naked 2 palette in my previous post, but the Naked 3 and I just don't get along. I have olive-ish toned skin, which disappointingly doesn't wear well with the rose, pink shades in this palette. It's a shame because I love the shades, and I'm a big fan of Urban Decay, especially their eyeshadows! Pigmentation is incredible and the range of matte to shimmers is great too. It's just these shades really don't look good on me.

But I can't get rid of it. I love being able to open my makeup drawer and seeing Naked 2 and 3 sitting side by side. I just need Naked 1 to complete my collection, how satisfying will that be. I can't be getting rid of my Naked 3 now, otherwise, I'll never have my beloved collection! Am I vain or what!



Tarte // Amazonian Clay Blush, Fearless


I got this Blush from Rhaea when she went to NYC a couple years ago. I sent her with $100 of my money and a list of things I needed from Sephora. This blush from Tarte being one of them. I picked the shade from the online swatches, which needless to say is a bad idea on any level. The shade is much, much too cold-toned for my warm skin tone and just doesn't live up to the coral pink it looked online.

And, I can't seem to part ways with it, purely for its name. Fearless. I have Fearless tattooed on my wrist and an eternal attachment to Taylor's description of the word. Therefore anything with Fearless written on is mine, til death do us part.

NYX // Matte Lip Cream, Abu Dhabi


I absolutely love the NYX matte lip creams. They can occasionally be a little bit streaky, but when applied right, they add a beautiful pop of colour to your makeup and have pretty good stay power too. The main reason I love them though, is for their soft texture and moisturising qualities. I picked this shade up when I was trying to branch out, try something new I told myself. Evidently, this shade was not for me. It's much too light and if it was slightly less orange-toned it would almost blend perfectly with my skintone itself. It's not a good look but I can't get rid of it for the satisfying way it looks in my also veluptuous NYX collection. I'm so vain it's a little ridiculous. 
It still sounds silly when I say it out loud, but do you own any products that you hate but can't get rid of? I've done pretty well at shifting the majority of my collection, but here still stands these four products that I can't bear to part with! How materialistic of me. Not that I care anyway! 

Love always,
Melissa

8 March 2017

We're three months into 2017 and regardless of the state of your resolutions, it's never too late to start working towards a new goal. Whether it's a resolution, something you've given up for lent or just something you'd like to achieve this year, I've got 5 ways you can smash your goals this year!


It's got to that point in the year now where you're either a) truly smashing your New Years resolutions already, b) off to a slow start but still dedicated to make it work (possibly using Lent to try and get the ball rolling again) or c) have completely given up altogether. If you fall into category a, then go you, I think I've got some tips to help you keep up the amazing work. If it's c, then I'm not sure how much I can help you, but you must have come here for a reason, right? And if it's b, then this is the post for you!



Be Realistic!


I get that you want to run a marathon in your lifetime or reach 250,000 subs on YouTube but you have to be realistic with your goals. Chances are you probably won't be participating in the London Marathon if you haven't excercised since your last P.E. lesson 6 years ago! 

Make goals that are possible, but maybe slightly out of reach. Something that could happen but needs motivation and dedication to make it work. Maybe to run 10K in the next year or reach your first 1000 subs on YouTube instead. It's all about pushing yourself but not killing yourself in the process.

Write them down, and pin it in plain sight


If you've got something you really want to achieve this year but think laziness will get in your way, then make sure you've written down your goal and pinned it somewhere you'll look daily. Something as small as a sticky note on your bedroom door will work. Even if you don't read it physically, you'll know what it says and start to associate your goal with it everytime you see it. If that doesn't motivate you to start working on your goals, then the guilt of not achieving will have you working harder next time!

Give yourself a deadline


There's one thing saying "my new years resolution is to eat healthy", that's great, the intention is there. But with a deadline of 12 months time, it's likely you'll find yourself saying "I'll start next moneth" then "oh the diet starts Monday" before forgetting altogether. Setting deadlines will help you achieve your goals by motivating you to work faster. Tell yourself that by the end of each month you must cut out 2 unhealthy things from your diet, this will make the transition easier but more rewarding at the same time!




Stay Focused


I love that you have 10 goals and multiple things you want to achieve this year. But unless you have no friend, sleep little and have all the time in the day, it just won't work! Consider you want to run 10K for Comic Relief and reach 1,000 subs on YouTube. Once you consider how much time, effort and dedication it needs to achieve these two things alone, then factor in your Career/School, social engagements and general obsticles life throws your way, it's just not feasible.

Stay focused, pick big goal or a couple of smaller goals that you know you can work at without restricting other assets in your life. It's better to succeed at one goal than to fail at many!

Believe in Yourself


I guess this goes back to being realistic and focused, but if you don't have faith in your ability, motivation and dedication to work hard and achieve then what's the point? Blunt, I know. But you need to truly believe that you CAN and you WILL smash your goals! Picking something you know is achievable with the hard work that you know you can give will be the most rewarding in the long run! Believe that you can do what you've set out to do!


You know, these tips are super simple and really quite obvious when you think about it! But I'd put money on the fact you disregarded most of them when you chose your New Years Resolution this year! In 2016 that's exactly what I did and got to about June before I quit my losses.


Let me know in the comments below if you have any more tips or tricks that you have been using to help smash your goals this year. I'm always up for learning new ways to kick ass!

Love always,
Melissa

15 February 2017

Travelling, even just for a couple days in another city can be so expensive. I know how it feels when you get that compelling sense of wanderlust to travel and experience somewhere new but money is short and you just can't afford it. Or so you thought. What if I told you how you could save money when buying airline tickets to make that dream trip more of a reality?


In the last couple of years, I've been lucky enough to travel a lot. Bali, Thailand (on multiple occasions), Singapore, Portugal, Rome, New York. I'm not trying to brag but thanks to these trips, I've built up quite the repertoire of tips and tricks to saving money to travel. Particularly where expensive flights are concerned.

I don't have rich parents. I don't have a well-paid job (which I'm leaving in March to travel). And up until September, I was pretty damn poo at saving money. So in the past few years, I've learnt a thing or two about buying plane tickets on a budget!



Make a habit of searching using only private browsers


When you visit a website, your browser stores cookies of information based on websites you've visited previously. New websites can access this information to learn about your browsing patterns.

In short, if you're searching for hotels in Prague and then head to the British Airways website, BA can/will use the information stored in your cookies as an indicator that you're interested in flights to Prague. It is possible for them to increase the price of flights in an attempt to improve their profits. It's unlikely that this will happen from just your search alone, however if multiple people are doing the same thing, BA would be silly not to act on this.

Using a Private Browser on Safari or going Incognito on Chrome, stops your browser from storing your search information, meaning you can guarantee the the prices you see on screen are true examples of prices for everyone!

It's all about when you travel!

Flying at times that would be inconvenient to the less flexible traveller will save you money.

Parents with children going on holiday are more likely to fly at the weekends, outside of work and school obligations. Whereas, Business men and women are likely to fly earlier in the week and in the mornings. Flight tickets for days and times less desirable to family's and business' tend to have smaller price tags.




Hand Luggage


This goes without saying, but unless you're flying halfway across the world, chances are your airline, especially budget airlines like Easyjet, will charge you more for hold luggage. On some airlines, you can save up to £50 for flying with just hand luggage!

Don't book seats!


Budget airlines make their money from looking cheap on the outside but adding additional fee's as you proceed with your booking. Such as charging up to £20 per person to pre-book seats.

If you can, consider not securing your seats until you check in. Most airlines allow you to check-in 24 hours in advance and if you're quick on the mark, you shouldn't have a problem getting seats with at least one of your travel partners if you check-in online!

Fly Standby?


I've never done this before, my anxiety would never allow for such a thing. But I know people who have, and for some, this is the only way they fly! You turn up at the airport, purchase a ticket for some of the cheapest prices and get to board on the next available plane to your destination! It couldn't be easier.

Standby fairs are based on no-show's. So when someone doesn't show up for their flight, their seat is auctioned off at a fraction of the price. It sounds like a great deal and is a great deal, as long as you don't mind waiting around. It's definitely an option for the more easy going, budget traveller.

Buying in advance


There's a lot of myth that buying flight tickets years and months in advance will get you the best deals. But in actual fact, prices tend to be higher in advance because airlines still have a lot of time to shift their empty seats! In contrary to that however, buying flights last minute won't save you much buck either because even though flight companies want to fill their seats, they'll most likely have already made enough money to profit on that flight. So last minute fairs are just brucy bonus'.

The best time to book is actually 6 weeks before departure.



Know when the sales are


Just like the best deals and bargains in your local Mall are found around Boxing Day, there are particular times of the year to search for flights too. January will see to a whole host of travel deals, especially because they know people want something warm to look forward to once Christmas is over. Another great time to book flights and holidays is in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Even though they are 'events' unique to the United States, British companies have capitalised on the benefit of sales and some of the best one's I've seen have been around Thanks Giving. We're talking £99 for four nights in Italy, flights and 3* hotel included!

Shop Around


Another no brainer. Obviously, the first search you do isn't going to be the best. Using websites like Sky Scanner and Kayak (two of my absolute favourites) are great ways to compare lots of flights from different sources all at once. STA is another good one too, particularly if you're under the age of 25.

Once I've found a good price, I tend to shop the airline website too. So if I've found a Virgin flight to New York for £310, i'll check if there is a similar price direct with Virgin. If not, giving them a ring and explaining that you've found a good deal but would prefer to shop direct normally works to secure a good deal!

Buy a Gift? Groupon?


Whilst discount websites seem like you're falling into a trap of no return, reputable ones such as Buy A Gift and Groupon are great for finding Black Friday-like prices all year round! However, always be sure to read the T&C's and be comfortable with the company your buying through.

Know your destination


This sounds silly, but knowing when the low and high seasons are at your destination could save you a lot of buck too. As much as not travelling in the School holidays will save you money for places like Europe. Destinations further afield might be your go to at this time of year. Countries in the East suffer from typhoons and monsoons, south Asia's rainy season runs from June - September so travelling at this time will be much cheaper. Monsoon season doesn't mean it's going to be raining 24/7 far from it infact!


So, still awake? This was a long one, but I really wanted to get in as much information as possible. These tips and tricks have kept me travelling around the world on a budget for the past 3 years and hopefully continue to do so this year! If you have any tips I haven't mentioned, I'd be very intrigued to hear all about them in the comments below.

Happy travelling!

Love always,
Melissa

8 February 2017

It's that time of year again where the world divides in half. Valentines Day lovers vs. those who think it's a waste of time. I for one think it's lovely and why not have a special day dedicated to those you love. Whether it be your friends, family or your significant other. This year the festivities are a little more low-key, a little less fancy and I'll be heading out straight from work, ripped jeans and all!



If there is a reason to get dressed up, you can bet I'm all game. Especially when there is time to really make an event of it it. Pop some music on, have a bubble bath and a face mask, before getting lost in the world of hair straighteners and highlight. I love it. And Valentines Day is as good, if not better reason as any! However this year, Valentines falls on a weeknight and there's nothing I quite hate than having to get ready in a hurry after a long day at work. So this year, I'm opting for an effortlessly chic date night outfit that I could totally wear to work too.

(I know ripped jeans at work! But I spend my week throwing paint at walls and climbing ladders so ripped jeans makes sense. Just work with me on this one!)

I have a love-hate relationship with ripped jeans, I love the way they look on other people but on me I feel like they look too masculine. However, with the right coordinates and accessories, they can be the perfect way to make you look cool, feminine and completely on trend.





These jeans are the Ripped Joni's from Topshop which have faded disastrously but (as much as I hate to admit) totally add to the edgy "I just threw these on" vibe we're going for. The effortlessly beautiful kind of vibe. I paired them with this satin, pink cami top from H&M which add's a beautifully romantic touch to the look. It breaks dresses up the "I just rolled out of bed" vibe so it's more shabby chic than just plain shabby. Then the chunky heeled boots say natural, approachable elegance.

It's all about the way you dress up this look. The satin top is a statement in itself, so light jewellery like this star choker subtly add's dimension to this outfit. The choker works with the ripped jeans, keeping to the edgy vibe but in a more feminine way.

For my makeup, I kept it super simple. Something that would effortlessly transform from day to night. I used the Stila Eyes are the Window to the Soul Palette to create a matte smokey eye. It's subtle enough not to be too bold for daytime but bounces well with the edgy elegant look we're going for.

WHAT I'M WEARING


This outfit is all about the ripped jeans, these are from Topshop but I recommend shopping around a little. Like Topshop prices are, these jeans were pretty pricey and believe it or not jet black when I bought them! On a more positive note, the satin pink cami top was an absolute bargain in the H&M sale for £5 but there are similar ones dotted around everywhere. Check out this one from New Look or this one from SheIn.

Like I mentioned this look isn't anything without the accessories. The bag is my staple, everyday go to Rebecca Minkoff 'Mini Moto'. It's a great day bag but looks posh enough for the evening too. The star choker is from ASOS and comes with a longer, moon pendant necklace too which you can switch in and out as you feel like it. A great addition to the outfit.

What do you think about this outfit. I love the convergence between edgy and elegance, cool but feminine! The way they work seamlessly together to create a classic, effortless date night outfit for Valentines Day. What are your plans this year? Are you spending it with someone special? Or with your best buds? I'd love to know what Valentines means to you!

Love always,
Melissa

1 February 2017

This year is traveling weird. It's only January, and I say that in an, it's only January type of way. It feels like it could be Spring already, time is traveling so slowly. But at the same time, it's not. When I think about it, it's January! I leave to go traveling in March and I still have so much to do beforehand. It feels like time is traveling slowly but there's not enough time to get things straightened out! Does that make sense?



I haven't spent much time experimenting or trying new things where make-up is concerned this month. I haven't had the time to read any new books, unless you count the Lonely Planet's guide to Iceland. I've been pretty held up juggling dates, car hire and exchange rates, that my brain has slightly turned to mush. So when I sat down to think about the products that I'd been loving this month, it didn't go quite so swimmingly as usual.

But in the midst of stress, sweat and tears, I have a few things I've been loving quite passionately this month.

Charlotte Tilbury, Matte Revolution Lipstick // Glastonberry


I have been dying, literally, to get my hands on this lipstick for about 18 months and the time finally came on Christmas morning! And it's everything I imagined and dreamed it would be. Cliche?

I'm such a dark, berry lip kind of person and at this time of year, I live in them. I have quite the collection of berry tones lipsticks and I rotate them out on a daily basis. But this lippy is just the cherry on the lipstick cake! The colour is beautiful, a light wine shade. It's matte too (my favourite) which means it goes on like a dream, stays all day and doesn't budge when you eat or drink! My kind of lip product down to a T!




Instagram


I fell in love with Instagram when I first got an iPhone when I was 17. That's back when it was only available on IOS and putting filters on your summer vacay shots was a relatively new thing. Fast forward, 6 years, I'm 24 and Instagram is being used for marketing, advertising and it's purpose for fun, photo sharing platform is long but gone.

Last year I was not into the Instagram hype. I hated the idea of theme's and being Instagram famous. I hated the stigma of having to post a certain way and at certain times of the day to get likes and follows. That's not what it was about and most certainly not why it was created. However, in the last month, I've really grown to love Instagram again. I'm not posting because I feel like I have to, I'm doing it because I took a cool shot and I want to share it. Yes, I'm encapsulating on the whole 'micro-blogging' idea, I am using Instagram as an extension of my blog, but I'm not treating it like a business. I want to love what I'm doing and last year, I was not!


Harry Potter


In December, the beauty that is Katie from Essentially English took me to London to see the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I've always loved the Harry Potter franchise, albeit I was a little late to the party and I've only seen the movies. None-the-less, I've never loved a film series quite like I love the magical world of witchcraft and wizardry! However since seeing the play, which is incredible and so magical by the way, if you haven't already, sign yourself up for the mailing list because getting tickets should be your next most important venture. Anyway, since seeing the play, I've fallen even more in love with Harry and his story than before. I've watched the entire movie series probably three times through in January alone. I know I said I was tied down with traveling research but who can say no to a daily dose of magic?

I guess I'm going to leave it there. Three things I have been truly besotted with this month, despite all the tears, sweat and heartache to finally have all my travel plans finalised. I have found solace in these three things. How has January been for you? Have you anything that has saved you from insanity this month?

Love always,
Melissa