Sunday, 10 August 2014

Travel Trip To Do List

The Travelling Series

Hey y'all!

Sorry about the lack of post last week - I've had a very hectic couple of weeks! My boyfriend and I recently moved up the country from our flat in Milton Keynes to my parent's house in Wetherby. It's been manic and stressful, to say the least, but we're here now!

A little while ago (in this post) I revealed that Kane and I are going travelling at the beginning of September, which seems to be fast approaching! There's been so much to sort out and organise, and we haven't even finished yet! 

When we decided to go travelling a couple of month's back, I was scrawling the internet for lists and tips on everything that needs to be done before a big backpacking trip like ours. Sure - there's bits and pieces out there, but nothing simple, straightforward and to the point. 

So this is my first post in the travelling series, if you're looking to go backpacking, for everything you need to do before you go away. 

I'm by no means an expert, as this is my first backpacking trip, but this is what I've found and apologies if I've missed anything off!

Travel Trip To Do List:

1. Book your flight(s).

If you want to book multiple flights in advance, like we did, then it's a good idea to go through a travel agency as they can tailor make your flights using the airlines with the best deals. STA is a popular choice, but we actually found a cheaper package with Round the World Experts.

If you want to just book your first flight, so you have maximum flexibility on your trip, then I suggest you use price comparison sites (such as Expedia and Skyscanner) in order to find the cheapest flights possible.

2. Sort out your visa(s).

Even if it's only for a short period of time, certain countries (such as Australia and Vietnam) will only permit entry if you have a granted visa. Use Government websites to research, apply for and obtain the correct visas before you go. It's fairly straightforward and one less thing to do while you're out there!

3. Think about daily transportation.

You've booked your flight(s), you've obtained your visa(s), but how are you going to travel around once you get there?

It's no secret that it's easier (and cheaper) to use local methods of transport in each country - like trains, buses and even ferries. Some countries also have coach providers specifically for tourists and out-of-towners with hop on/hop off passes and different routes which will help you cover a lot of ground on a tight budget. For example, check out Stray or Kiwi Experience for New Zealand, or Greyhound for Australia.

4. Get the relevant injections.

This is a very important one, as you don't want to be struck down by a life-threatening illness when you're travelling. Protect yourself by getting the required vaccinations. You can book an appointment with a nurse at your local GP for this. Another option is to visit a travel clinic (such as STA Travel Clinic), but these will generally be more expensive.

5. Book some hostels.

For every flight that you've booked in advance, it's a good idea to research and book some accommodation for the night upon your arrival in the country. It goes without saying that you will be jetlagged and just need somewhere to crash temporarily, pronto, so try to arrange a hostel or hotel that will pick you up from the airport as part of the package. The Hostel World site is a great resource for this.

6. Sort out your finances.

Again, another important one, as you're not going to get anywhere without money! Move the money that you've saved for travelling into your current account, so it can easily be accessed when you need it. Then investigate getting a travel card, where you can use their website or an app to upload money as you go along, as you won't be charged using these abroad like you usually would with a debit or credit card. My Travel Cash is a good provider to use, but make sure you also take a credit or debit card in case of emergency.

Also, get a little bit of cash converted to the local currency just before you leave, so that you have some money on you in case you need to get a taxi from the airport upon arrival.

7. Think about your phone options.

If you want a phone for just calling or texting home, a lot of people suggest taking a Pay As You Go cheap phone that you can top up as you go along. I do understand the reasoning behind this, in case your phone gets lost or stolen. However, it is also a good idea to take a smart phone as a lot of places have free wi-fi these days, which means you can use Facebook and email to stay connected with people (for free)!

8. Make a list of everything that you need to take.

There are some pretty extensive ones currently on the internet. I personally like Wordly Nomads his and hers backpacking lists as these helped us a lot. One of the most important things you can buy though is the actual backpack. Make sure it's sturdy and of good quality as you will be taking it everywhere with you! Also make sure you have enough space for everything that you need. 45-60L is recommended for a three month trip, similar to ours.

9. Photocopy important documents.

Make sure you make photocopies of all your important documents before you go and keep them in a different place to the originals. This is worth doing in case something happens to the original documents.

10. Use Lonely Planet books to help.

Finally, it's a good idea to research the place(s) you are going to before you leave for your trip. It's a well known fact that you meet people along the way in hostels or on tours, as well as locals, who will help you get your bearings while you're out there. However, it's good to have a bit of a heads up beforehand so you know what you're getting yourself into! I recommend getting a Lonely Planet book for the place(s) you're going to, which are filled with answers to every possible question you can imagine.

Also, it goes without saying, ask around if you know any friends or family that have been travelling. You need all the help you can get, especially if you're going to multiple countries!

I hope this helps, guys! Please leave me a comment if you've got any thoughts or questions - I'd be happy to answer them. 

Good luck on your trip and stay safe!


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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Tips for Tough Times

This post is for anybody going through a tough time. Whether it’s a break-up, bereavement, a fall out with a friend or just an awful period at work – I’m hoping that, by the time that you’ve finished reading this, you will feel better (even if it’s only slightly).

My friends and family tell me that I give good advice – my Mum calls me their ‘councillor extraordinaire’ - which makes me wonder if I’m in the wrong profession. But I have to hold my hands up and say that I’m not an expert on these types of situations, not by a long shot, so please don’t expect me to radically change your life. My only aim is to help people. This desire comes from my own experiences - I particularly hate seeing the ones that I love down so I try my best to comfort them in any way I can.

Below are just a few tips for anyone feeling negative or down about anything in life. It is my hope that you will read them and they will provoke a more positive way of thinking, to help you tackle or come to terms with what you’re going through.

1. Try to see the bigger picture.

What you’re going through probably feels like the worse thing in the world right now. You might feel like you’re never going to get out of this slump that you’re in. You might feel that life is hopeless, maybe even not worth living. But remember, you are just one person out of seven billion people in the world. There are kids starving in Africa, there are people on the streets without a home and there are natural disasters happening every day. You have to put what you’re going through in perspective and try to realise that there are worse things going on in the world.

2. Try to see the positive.

This sort of touches on the first point, but this time I’m referring to your specific situation. Your boyfriend made a drunken mistake on a night out? He could have been having an affair for months behind your back. Your Nan died of cancer? At least she’s not suffering anymore. You had a massive argument with your best friend? At least you’ve cleared the air and got to say everything you’ve been feeling for so long. I often think that a bad situation could always be worse. Of course, it does depend what the situation is and I do appreciate that each one is different.

3. Allow yourself to feel what you want to feel.

I think it’s important that you allow yourself to feel whatever you want to feel during this difficult time. If you’re mad, rage. If you’re sad, cry. The truth is, you will probably go through a whole range of emotions whilst the situation is still raw – and that’s okay. One thing that I realised when I lost my Grandparents is that it’s okay to cry. I originally made the mistake of thinking that I had to be strong for everybody else, but it only led to me breaking down at a later date. Crying is good as an emotional outlet – I always feel ten times better afterwards. So allow yourself to let it out, however and whenever you feel comfortable. There isn’t a right or wrong answer in these types of situations. Those who love you will understand and won’t judge you for it.

4. Use your support system.

Friends and family are there for a reason. They are the people that are supposed to pick you up when shit happens in life. You need a network of people around you that care for you and are there for you no matter what. They should want the best for you and only want you to be happy at the end of the day. And they will do their damnedest to make sure that happens. Whether it means being a shoulder to cry on, or letting you rant to them on the phone for hours, they will be there if they’re true to you. It’s times like this that make you realise who your true friends are as well. The ones who care will look after you, no questions asked. I’m not saying that the ones who disappear or fade into the background don’t care, some people honestly don’t know what to say - especially if they haven’t been through what you’re going through. In my opinion, they should at least send a message offering some sympathy or small words of comfort, just to show you that they are thinking of you. If they can’t take two minutes out of their busy schedule to even send you a text, then how much can they really care? Don’t waste your time and energy on people who won’t do the same for you. As for the ones that clearly do care, use them to help you. Are they offering to meet for a coffee to chat things through? Then meet them. Do they want to call you to check up on you? Make sure you answer the phone. Are they inviting you to go for cocktails to take your mind off things? Have a bloody cocktail! The truth is, you need to be around people right now. Don’t wallow in your own pool of self-pity. This brings me onto my next point nicely.

5. Distract yourself.

There will be times where you have a moment’s peace, usually first thing on a morning and last thing at night, to think about everything that’s going on. While it’s important that you process it and let it digest, you also need to make sure that you’re not dwelling on it. If you find yourself sat in the corner of your room in the dark going over and over everything in your mind, stop it. You need to steer your mind in a totally different direction to avoid over-thinking which leads to negative thoughts and emotions. The best thing you can do is find a distraction – watch TV, call a mate, go to the shops and get the thing you’ve been meaning to buy for weeks. Please don’t sit and dwell. It won’t help. You’ll just work yourself up into a frenzy and, at the end of the day, it won’t do anybody any good. It achieves nothing.

6. Everything happens for a reason.

I know a lot of people hate it, but I’m a big believer in fate and the saying ‘everything happens for a reason’. I always think, for example, if I hadn’t been to my Uni and met my course mate then I wouldn’t have met Kane, who lived in her halls, and I wouldn’t have got into a relationship with him and I wouldn’t have lived in Milton Keynes and I wouldn’t have got the job at Fossil and I wouldn’t have been able to save up to go travelling and I wouldn’t be about to embark upon the adventure that I’ve always dreamed of (etc etc). This can also work the opposite way. I do believe that there’s a set path that we’re all destined to take, as cheesy as it sounds. There’s lessons in life that we have to learn and you learn a lot from these difficult experiences. You might be kicking yourself because you made a mistake and you, yourself, have caused the negative situation that you’re in. But we’re only human at the end of the day and nobody’s perfect. Plus, if you hadn’t have made a mistake, you wouldn’t have been able to learn from it. It’s the mistakes and tough situations that make us stronger in life and the people that we are today. Be thankful for that. All the pain and anguish will be worth it in the end – it prepares you for the journey that lies ahead.

7. Remember life’s too short.

This is my favourite saying of all time. Yes, this big thing has just happened to you. It’s terrible. You’ve probably been angry/upset/frustrated for days. But how much longer do you plan on having this major battle with yourself? Not meaning to sound morbid, but you could die tomorrow. You never know what’s around the corner and there’s no point wasting your life being down. Life is for living and you should take every opportunity you can to be happy. We all deserve happiness. You deserve happiness.

8. Have faith.

In the end, you just have to believe that everything’s going to be okay. I’m also a big fan of the saying: ‘Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end’. You have to believe that things will get better because they will, in time. It’s proven. Just look at celebrities, for example. David Beckham cheated on Victoria – their marriage is still going strong. Angelina Jolie lost her Mum to ovarian cancer and then was diagnosed with it herself – she is still smiling and speaking out to help others. Granted, it’s not going to happen overnight. But you’ll reach a point where you will start to feel better with each day. Hours will turn into days, days will turn into weeks and, before you know it, you’ll feel like your old self again. There’s no set amount of time that it takes and you can’t rush it. But when the dark cloud has lifted, you’ll know it, and that’s where the new chapter of your life starts. Welcome back.

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(I hope I have managed to help at least one person with this post! Good luck with everything and remember, chin up! There is light at the end of the tunnel. Much love, Katie-xo)

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

What's In My Bag?

I decided to jump on the bandwagon and write my own version of the ‘what’s in your bag’ post - I know how much I like reading them when I see them pop up here, there and everywhere across the blogosphere!

There’s just something quite fascinating about seeing what girls have in their handbags – I don’t really understand why, but I think it just comes down to being extremely nosy! But at least I’m not alone, judging by how popular the ‘what’s in your bag’ post seems to be.

Without further ado, here’s what I carry around with me on a day to day basis:

First of all, I'm currently using my Fossil metallic tote handbag (more than any other bag) as the neutral colour goes with anything I happen to have on in the day. It is also very roomy, so it can include bottles of water or snacks that I might need depending on where I’m going and what I’m doing.

In this Fossil bag, I always carry a purse (obviously). At the moment I’m using this Fossil one as it’s fairly new and I absolutely adore the giraffe print (almost as much as I adore giraffes in general). It’s quite wide and rectangular, with both a card section and a change section, so fits in everything that I need money-wise!

Then, because it’s summer and the weather has been very sunny lately, I carry my trusty pair of Primark sunglasses with black, circular lenses. I’m currently loving circular lenses for SS14 as they’re a bit kooky and dramatic – two of my favourite things in fashion!

When it’s not sunny, I usually carry my black Primark umbrella just in case there are any unexpected downpours.

Moving onto the beauty section, I always have Vaseline in my bag to banish dry lip syndrome. This pot is particularly great because it has Cocoa Butter in it, so keeps my lips nice and smooth. I also tend to carry a cheap lipstick or lipgloss in case I’m going somewhere fancy and in need of a little colour on my lips. The one I currently carry is Model’s Own lip crayon in fuchsia pink. It’s such a strong hue so you definitely need a mirror to apply it, hence my little heart-shaped compact.

Of course I also carry my phone, which is currently an iPhone 4S. I’m due an upgrade at the end of August and will most likely be upgrading to an iPhone 5 as I can’t imagine not having an iPhone. Yes, I’m one of those people. It means I will also have to buy a new phone case, which I’m kind of gutted about, as I love my purple retro cassette case. I got it from a stall on Briggate in Leeds and it was such a steal for a mere fiver. I’m sure you’ll be able to buy them for other phone models though, so we’ll see!

Finally, the last thing that I carry is a silver case full of business cards for my blog and my brand. You never know who you’re going to meet, or run into, so these are definitely worth having - not just for professional purposes, but if you bump into someone from school that you haven’t seen for ages and you want to keep in touch. It’s easier to just give them one of your business cards, especially if you’re in a rush, than faff about with your phone trying to get their number.

That’s everything, guys! I hope you've enjoyed being nosy and I look forward to reading some more of your ‘what’s in your bag’ posts very soon!

(Have you already done a 'what's in your bag' post? Please link me by leaving me a comment. Many thanks for reading! Katie-xo)

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Friday, 11 July 2014

Pastel Pink Princess

I recently used some more Rose pink Bleach London dye on my ends to update my hair for summer. It came out in a lovely sugary shade so, to coincide with this, I've been wearing a lot of pastels lately.

Pastels have to be one of my favourite trends for SS14. These lighter, weaker hues instantly update your wardrobe for the summer season and look so pretty in the sunshine!

When I wear pastels, I try to wear them head-to-toe as bolder colours tend to look too harsh against ice-cream shades.

I wore this outfit the other day when I popped into town to run some errands. Unfortunately, it was completely overcast and the temperature was quite mild.

I decided to throw on this t-shirt tunic with a swirly, artistic floral print. I actually bought it in the Topshop sale last season and totally fell in love with it. It's a bit quirky and anyone who knows me knows that I do like a bit of individuality!

I paired the tunic with light denim leggings to keep myself warm, then slipped these nude, patent sliders on my feet.

I have to admit, I wasn't a big fan of sliders when I first read that they were going to be the shoe of SS14. I thought they were too chunky, ugly and perhaps even a little bit mannish. However, I have been completely converted as time has gone along. I prefer the ones that have a nice little print on the strap, or are patent, metallic and/or sparkly - basically the ones that have a bit more to them than just a plain, bland strap. These beauties are a bargain at a mere £4 from Primarni.

I also decided to use my Guess satchel to lift the colour palette further, then compliment the tones of the outfit with glitzy, gold jewellery. This had to include a statement necklace, as who doesn't love a good statement necklace?!

Beach waves and a slick of pastel pink lipstick completed this laid-back look.

T-Shirt Tunic - Topshop
Light Denim Leggings - Topshop
Nude, Patent Sliders - Primark
White Satchel - Guess
Gold Watch - Vintage
Statement Necklace - Primark

(What do you think to my outfit? How do you wear pastels for SS14? Many thanks for reading! 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Exciting News!

Hi, everyone!

Just got a little bit of an update for you this week, more than anything else.

I'm happy to finally be able to announce that I will be embarking upon a very exciting adventure from September to December of this year. That's right, Kane and I have decided to go travelling!

Where are we going, I hear you ask? We'll be in South East Asia for 5 weeks, New Zealand for 1 month and Australia for 1 month.

I've wanted to go ever since before university and - if I'm honest - I've been holding on, waiting for the right time to go. I needed to save some money first as being a Uni student left me penniless! Then I got a job and moved to Milton Keynes and one thing led to another and here I am months later.

It's been two years this July since I graduated from university and it's about time that I did the things that I want to do before I get too old or too comfortable.

I'm one of those people that always uses 'life's too short' as a mantra. I don't mean to sound morbid, but you could die tomorrow. You never know what's around the corner so you need to live your life while you still can and that means that happiness, hopes and wishes come first!

I've already talked it through extensively with close friends and family and the question I get asked the most is - aren't you scared? Correction - I am absolutely terrified, but as my bathroom wall states:

In the build up to the date that I leave, and hopefully while I'm out there as well, I will be doing a series of travel-related posts. I'm hoping you will find these interesting whether you have plans to go in the future, have already been or don't ever want to go but still find people talking about it fascinating!

I really appreciate all of your support and I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

(Would you go ever travelling or have you been? Do you have any tips? Thanks so much for reading 'I Spy Trends' and I would love to read your comments below. Katie-xo)

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Saturday, 28 June 2014

The Fake Nails Debate

Who says that to have glam nails they have to be real?!

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I'm one of those people who just can't stop biting their nails.

When I'm anxious, when I'm bored, when I'm down - you name it - I always do it. I feel like it just can't be helped any more. 

I am trying to stop, but what do girls like me do when they have a big night out or special occasion and they need their nails to look better (and fast)?

Answer: buy fake ones.

In my opinion, fake nails get a bad name. You can tell they're not real, they look tacky, they don't last very long - blah blah blah. I agree, some are awful, so it's all about choosing the right ones for you.

When I say choose carefully, I don't necessarily mean going out and buying the most expensive pair in the shop. 

Last week I bought these ombré beauties in Primark for a mere quid - that's right, one pound - and they have lasted me all week.

I bought them specifically because I had a karaoke night in Nottingham pencilled in, with the most gorgeous group of girls you can imagine (all with great nails)!

I put these nails on using a Boots nail glue that didn't come with them. Little tip: the nail glue that comes with a pack of cheap nails, like this one, can't always be trusted. Always buy your nail glue in Boots or Superdrug for £2-£3 to ensure it's of a good enough quality to make your nails last for weeks, not days. 

After sticking my nails on, I filed them right down so they were only a few millimetres longer than my actual nails. I think a lot of people make the mistake of just plonking them on and that's why they don't suit their fingers, or make it harder for them to go about their daily business by getting in the way. Always file the nails down if they look too long! They look more natural this way and, ultimately, less fake!

Finally, if you decide that you're not happy with the colour or pattern on them - or you just want a bit of variation for your next night out - just do what I do. Paint over them! 

That's what I did with this Primark pack so that the tips matched my pink dress.

Fake nails are actually fabulous when done properly! I've had lots of compliments and they're really fun to play around with in the short term if you've got a bad habit, like me, or if you just want a bit of extra length or variation.

(Do you like my fake nails? Have you or would you ever buy them? Thanks for reading! Katie-xo)

Saturday, 21 June 2014

A Summery OOTD

Hello, everyone!

With the weather continuing to remain sunny and warm, I've been wearing less and less layers to go out in recently.

I love the fact that you can just throw on a little cami and some embroidered shorts or, in this case, a sleeveless top and a printed skirt - and you're good to go! Summer dressing can be so effortless and look just as good as those wintry days where you spend ages staring at your wardrobe, deciphering which jumper will look best with your woolly coat. It can save so much time and energy!

Unfortunately, my usual photographer was absent the day that I wanted to capture this outfit - therefore I had to get my tripod out for the very first time! The camera was clearly at a bit of an angle without me realising, so I'm sorry about that - I'm still learning!

Coral Sleeveless Top - Topshop
Floral Print Skirt - Forever 21
Tan Satchel - H! By Henry Holland at Debenhams
Tan Sandals - NEXT
Tan Sunglasses - Primark

At the centre of this outfit is a beautiful floral skirt, which I teamed with a coral sleeveless top to lift the coral hue in the floral print. I then added tan sandals and my H! by Henry Holland satchel, as I love the colour tan for summer.

It was also impossible to leave the flat without my sunglasses, unless I wanted to blind myself! I adore these tan beauties from Primarni, with leopard print on the arms, so I threw them on.

Then I just added some intricate, gold jewellery and brought the look together with minimalistic make-up and loose waves in my hair. Summery OOTD complete!

(Do you like my outfit? How do you dress for summer? Thanks for reading! Katie-xo)

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