Sustainable fashion is the topic on everyone's lips at the moment. With the world in chaos around us, it's no surprise that individuals are starting to take a closer look at how we can find ways to reduce our impact on the environment. It's a topic that I've always been very interested in, but even more so since I started traveling. When you live out of a backpack and constantly move between places, it really opens your eyes to the amount of waste in the world and the focus on materialism.
I won't lie, I'm very guilty of giving into the latest high street fashions and cheap clothing that was made in some factory in Asia. But just as I have done with my vegetarian diet, using less plastic and recycling, I'm trying to make small changes in my life which could make a big impact on the world around me. I'm over all this preaching nonsense, I think making good decisions comes down to education and allowing people to make mistakes and educate themselves, not shaming them.
I'm so excited to share this collaboration with a new fashion brand, Wool&, and had so much fun shooting the pictures for this feature. How did I know that this was a brand I wanted to share with you? Well very simply, their values centre around the ideas of "Live simply. Consume carefully. Do good." Exactly my motto for life! Wool& have created the most practical, and most wearable dress in my wardrobe which I find very exciting because it is the perfect dress for travel. I've always loved fashion, but my adventurous side always calls for practicality and to finally have a dress that can keep up with my travels is amazing! The Rowena Swing dress is made of merino wool, which means it's naturally wrinkle resistant, odor resistant, breathable, temperature regulating and quick drying. Could a dress be any more practical? Oh yeah, and it has pockets. (That's right, you heard me ladies!)
Just like the idea that travelers should leave nothing but footprints behind them, I've always tried to lead my life along the idea that we should have as little impact on the world around us as possible. There are so many ways to reduce our carbon footprint, from eating less meat, to traveling in a sustainable way to support responsible tourism and local communities instead of bigger corporations. We can limit the amount of plastic and packaging we use, try to use cruelty-free products and invest in a reusable water bottle. I'm not perfect by a long shot, but I really do try to do my bit and look at the bigger picture. But how does this apply to the clothes on my back?
Instead of giving in to every fast fashion craving, I take a step back and ask myself if I really need the item and whether it will last. Because sustainable fashion is about more than just wearing clothes made of bamboo – it's about choosing classic investment pieces that will transcend the seasons and will last for years. It's about buying clothes made of good quality, natural materials that don't harm the environment and will be loved time and time again. I'm a huge fan of vintage and second-hand shopping, when traveling, this is my main source of clothes. It's also about supporting businesses that don't take advantage of their workers for cheap labour and realising that with every penny we spend, we are casting a vote.
Read this post: The Trouble With Being An Ethical Traveler
I know we live in a world of fashion bloggers and models, where every girl on Instagram seems to have a new outfit in every photo. But I'm here to bust this idea that we need to constantly be buying new things to look good. Honestly, who has the time or the money to spend on this? Because those girls on Insta who are always wearing the latest fashions and styles, quite often, they are being sent clothes for photos and are making money from the links they share! There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but if you're not an influencer, it's not always the most attainable lifestyle.
The happiest I've ever been was when I was living in the same manky old bikini and beach dress combo every day. I didn't care what I looked like, I cared how I felt, and I felt happy. So let's take a step back from this idea that we constantly need new clothes to feel and look good. Re-wearing and re-styling clothes is cool and I love to keep repeat featuring clothes on my posts because I really love them and genuinely wear them all the time. I don't see the point in having endless wardrobes of clothes that never get worn, I'd much rather have a few choice sustainable fashion items that I love to put on.
I'm keeping the focus on fashion with a very exciting post today all about my amazing new Radley bag and one of my fave blogging collaborations yet. I remember worrying that moving to Germany might mean missing out on working with brands due to my location. But, this year has been one of my absolute best yet for special blogging projects and having the opportunity to work with a brand I have always admired will always be such an amazing reward for all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes of this blog. In the interests of transparency, in this post I will be styling up a beautiful product from Radley London which was gifted to me in exchange for the post. Naturally all opinions remain my own and I will only ever endorse products that I genuinely love and that I think you guys would love as well. And let's be honest, is there anyone out there who couldn't appreciate the beauty of a seriously luxe Radley handbag?
As someone who spends all her money on travel, often I have to sacrifice spending money on expensive clothes or handbags, but it doesn't mean I don't lust after luxury items. Radley London are one of those brands, one that has been an institution with a seriously classic style that I've admired for years. I've always been the kind of girl who gets a handbag and really loves it, instead of changing it up every week, I'll wear a bag all season. I picked out the Hill House Medium Multiway Compartment Grab Bag from the collection, embracing the sports luxe look with this gorgeous leather bag. It was hard to choose but in the end I felt this was the Radley bag that fitted best wth my style, not only was it simple and elegant, but practical with the longer strap and several compartments. I love that it can be smart for work, or also works with more laid back looks for the weekend, and it hasn't left my side since it was delivered. The striped strap makes a bold statement with the white leather, while still remaining chic and elegant with the fine gold detailing and the iconic Radley dog charm.I styled up the bag with this leopard print H&M slip (€19.99) and teal jumper (€24.99), and an old pair of Primark chunky heels. For those who are looking to shop the Radley bag, you're in luck and the Hill House style is actually reduced at the moment, retailing at £229, it has now been reduced to £137, so now is the time to treat yourself! It's the perfect-sized Radley bag for keeping all my essentials in it, my camera, phone, purse and some make-up, the perfect blogger's essential.
This week marks my six month anniversary of living in Hamburg. These last six months have been some of the hardest of my life. After travelling solo for more than three years, I uprooted my whole life, changed my travel plans and moved to Germany! In the last six months, I found a new job in a new industry and was offered a promotion within two months at the company. I traveled for a month around Europe in the van I converted into a camper and drank a hell of a lot of coffee.
Do you love luxe handbags as much as I do? What style would you choose? What's the biggest risk you've ever taken?
Finding your Autumn style can be a bit of a challenge when you're a summer baby at heart. Made more for bikinis on the beach and flip flops, the cooler months have always been a struggle for me. Perhaps the reason why I've spent the last four years chasing the summer from the Northern to the Southern hemispheres and back again! While some friends craved the warm winter woolies and darker nights, fantasising about staying warm on the sofa with a good movie, I was dreaming of tropical heat and living on the beach. But moving to Hamburg has really made me see Autumn in a whole new light, no longer is it the season of rain and wind and cold, but instead Germany has shown me a season filled with warm, rich colours, with hearty food and log fires. I can't believe I had never seen it before, but Autumn is Germany at it's finest, the parks ablaze with gold, red and brown, the skies clear, blue and the ground warmed by the late season sun. I won't lie, I'm writing this on a day when it is rainy and blustery to the max, a horrible autumnal day, but until now, my first Autumn living in Germany has been one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.
You all know that I'm used to spending my life in maxi dresses and swimwear, and already I've adjusted my summer style to fit in with the Hamburg look, but with a new season comes a whole new challenge. Getting used to all the layers, knitwear and most of all, weatherproofing against the German weather while not giving up all sense of style! German style seems to be very functional, weather-oriented and very muted colours, with a lot of black. Well, as much as I'm rooting for how practical their style is, I can't help but be bored by the lack of colour and fun in dressing for the weather. I think there HAS to be a way of preparing both the sunny Autumn days and the worst weather that is yet to come this season, while still maintaining your fun, quirky style throughout the winter months. Here's five ways I'm embracing the season and changing up my style for autumn:
I love anything colourful and living in sunny countries means a bright colour scheme never gets a second look. But, when you're walking through dark, dull streets and everyone is wearing black and grey, it can be hard to be brave and to embrace colour. I miss my bright red and yellow summer dresses that always looked great with a tan! But there's no reason why your autumn/winter wardrobe has to be dull. Why not change up your colour palette and instead of avoiding all colour, go for more muted, jewelled tones that suit the season. I love the autumn shades,l from deep reds and golds, to rusty oranges, I'm a huge fan of the rich colours appearing in the shops. It doesn't have to mean a complete wardrobe overhaul, why not pick up some new accessories or basic tops to pair with your favourite season-to-season items? My favourite new items are a deep orange headscarf and a bargain rust-coloured coed jacket that I’ve barely taken off since I found them.
It’s all about the accessories and I’m all about finding ways to change up your autumn style while sticking to your budget and keeping things sustainable. It’s nice to see fashion bloggers stepping away from fast fashion and instead promoting vintage and second-hand shopping. I’m a big lover of vintage shopping and find it great for picking up one-of-a-kind pieces that will help keep your style unique to you. Whether it’s a new bag, scarf or even a hat, it will come with a story, and even better, you’ll know that your purchase will be supporting both your wallet and the environment. One of my favourite things to shop for is vintage and second-hand jewellery on markets and in stores, you can find some real gems if you dig deeper enough!
When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing more important than having plenty of layers at the ready to keep you toasty on the walk to work. We all want to look good, but it’s just as vital to stay warm and cosy when it’s -10 degrees outside. I’ve started wearing small tops under big jumpers with a warm coat for the journey into work, with scarves and hats. Layering means being ready for that first blast of autumn winds and rain in the morning, but also being able to peel off those layers when your office is 100 degrees by the afternoon. By being smart and combining layers, you can save yourself the cost of investing in a thicker coat by instead layering jackets and jumpers. If you’re on a budget when updating your autumn style, this can really help.
Trying to limit your purchases of new autumn styles? Trying to stick to a budget? Cut back on spending and instead invest in a capsule wardrobe. Just focus on picking key pieces that you know you can style up in multiple ways and will wear throughout the season. Don't worry about picking up one of everything, instead pick out the timeless styles you know you will bring out again and again. If you love the more retro, 70's styles, why not invest in a pair of flares or some corduroy trousers? Or if you prefer, why not invest in a piece of knitwear or boots you will wear for years to come? Always ask yourself if you really need the item, if you will wear it for more than one season and if it is really your style.
A great way to refresh your wardrobe is to recycle clothes from one season to the next. All those summer dresses could be reinvented with a polo neck or long-sleeved top underneath and a pair of boots. Pair with a nice, cosy winter coat and you have a brand new look! Or why not bring back those summer skirts with a pair of tights and ankle boots? Look carefully at your wardrobe and think about how you can recycle what you already have to really make the most of the clothes and limit your spending. Plan your autumn style carefully to achieve maximum effect with minimal effort. All the money you will save, plus the knowledge you are making sustainable choices for the environment, will be more satisfying than yet another cheap dress or outfit. Plus, restyling previous outfits forces you to get creative and try ways of wearing items!
How do you change up your style for autumn? How are you embracing the season? What's your must-have autumn style?
Last weekend I was lucky enough to have one of my most exciting collaborations with a brand yet! Combining my love of festivals with my love of fashion, I was invited to join the crowds at Wireless Festival in London, wearing all Debenhams attire as I mingled among the VIPs. I was so excited to be among the girl gang invited along for the day, a mixture of travel, fashion and beauty bloggers, each excited to be a part of such a fab event. Not only did it give me a good reason to fly home for the weekend and to catch up with friends and family, but it also gave the a perfect excuse to hit my first UK festival in years! It was a hectic weekend, filled with train, plane and bus delays and sadly I didn't even get to see my sister on her birthday thanks to the transport issues, but I'm just glad I didn't miss the festival and that I got the opportunity to see some of my favourite people.I arrived at the festival on the Sunday, excited to see what the line-up would hold, all the favourites were on there, Rick Ross, Wretch 32, Giggs and more, but everyone was waiting with bated breath to see who would be replacing DJ Khaled as the headliner for the day. He had pulled out due to "transport issues" and we were all praying Drake would be the one replacing him – I for one had been dying to see him play live since university so we all said our prayers and hoped he'd be the one to hit the stage. READ: You can check out my last Wireless Festival experience here.Debenhams had kindly allowed me to pick out an outfit and some fab trainers to wear, I naturally picked out my old favourites, Off White Canvas All Star Converse (£50.00), which are without doubt some of my favourite trainers of all time. The comfiest and the best, even for backpacking round the world. I've worn them dancing in clubs, on beaches, pacing across cities, hiking in forests and they always last me no matter what. These teamed with a gorgeous sparkly dress (Girls On Film Aion low cut back dress in metallic sequin £40.00) – because if you ask me, festivals mean glitter everythingggg! And if you can't dress up as a giant disco ball for a festival, when the heck can you? I was gutted though because sadly the pair didn't arrive in time for the festival, so I had to sub in a vintage playsuit and my old reliable Adidas trainers instead.But what lovely items did arrive? Well, everyone on my social media has been talking about the most amazing jacket I wore, blue denim with amazing fringing tassels hanging from the arms – talk about a statement piece! This Tassel Sleeve Denim Jacket (£25.00) was from Miss Selfridge via Debenhams and I absolutely love it, it's definitely holding pride of place in my wardrobe right now and will be cracked out at every available opportunity. I was just a bit sad that although I rocked it for the pics, it was then checked into the VIP cloakroom until the end of the day because the heat was too much, 31 degrees is definitely not usual UK festival weather but it did mean no jacket needed.Of course, I'm all about the fab accessories for a festival and what better to choose than a cute little backpack to store your camera and festival make-up? I chose the Parfois Black Tulum Backpack (£24.99) (similar available here) which was the perfect size for festivals – especially with the smaller than A4 size rule for some UK festivals – and held all my stuff safely out of my way for the day. Very budget-friendly and style friendly, I know I'll be using this one a LOT. This was teamed with more colour from the gorgeous Red Herring Multi Colour Feather Drop Earrings (£3.60) which were a fave item from the day, I loved how vibrant but wearable these are even for a non-festival event if teamed with a more neutral or black outfit, plus very purse-friendly to jazz up your outfit for more festival vibes.Finally, Quay Australia were seriously repped on the day, with several of us bloggers picking out a gorgeous pair of their sunglasses to wear – and with the insanely hot sun that day, they were necessary! I picked the Black Mod Star Round Sunglasses (£45.00) which are such a fab shape and are my new faves, such simple and elegant shape with lovely dark lenses, they work perfectly with every outfit and will definitely be getting worn a LOT this summer. I loved some of the great reflection pics I managed to get on the day, really showing off these gorgeous glasses and the ones chosen by the other bloggers.Of course, we're never complete without talking all about the festival hair and make-up. I arrived with my hair out on the day but quickly realised it was way too hot for hair out, so myself and a few other bloggers headed to the Schwarzkopf tent where they were offering free hair makeovers whether you preferred festival braids or any fab new style – I went for braids into space buns and they quite seriously saved me in the hot sun, I felt like a new woman after having my hair done! For make-up, I was wearing my fave Lancôme Teint Miracle foundation (06), Kat Von D Tattoo Liner, a Soap and Glory palette of eyeshadow, Pick n Glitz in Pink from Barry M and bronzer from Benefit Dallas. My perfume was also Kat Von D Saint, which has a gorgeous floral but crisp scent and comes in a fab travel-size which is perfect for slipping into your handbag!All in all, a really fab day spent surrounded by amazing and inspiring women who really reminded me why I love the blogging community so very much. I had the best time at the festival, dancing and drinking with new and old friends, and eventually getting to see Drake perform live! Even if he was only on for 20 minutes, it was still a perfect end to a really great day. I could waffle on for ages about it, but to be honest I think the pics really speak for themselves and I'm really proud of the amazing pics I managed to get to capture the day, they really do give you the best behind-the-scenes view of what we all got up to! Also, if you're lusting after any of the items I ordered, check out the website as most, if not all of these were seriously reduced in the sales and were great bargains!
I also want to say a huge shout-out to my fellow festival blogger babes who all made the day so much fun! Check out their blogs by following these links and tell them I sent you - Noelle, Luisa, Martha, Jessi, Richeal and Giulia.
Did you go to Wireless Festival? Tell me about your summer festival plans? What big events have you got coming up?
Flatform fashion is a strong look for the summer, and even better, it's entirely practical for us traveler girls. Teaming up with XYLondon gave me the perfect opportunity to showcase fabulous shoes and clothes which are perfect for summer – no matter where you are spending it. I'm loving the opportunity to share more fashion-related posts lately and think it works well with travel as I require my clothes and shoes to be a lot longer-lasting and more hard wearing as well as stylish, so that they can survive all of my adventures.
I've always loved fashion, it's such a great way to be creative, and as someone who has struggled all her life to find good shoes that fit, gorgeous footwear has always been something I ended up sacrificing. Now these new flatform fashion styles combine pretty shoes with practicality and make them perfect for traveling the world and exploring new cities.After those first months of travel spent living in flip-flops and tie-dye on the beach, I'll be honest and say I'm really enjoying being able to dress up a bit more now I've left backpacking behind and make more effort for life in Europe. With all this gorgeous weather, I was over the moon when the team at XYLondon sent me these gorgeous shoes to try out and style up. They picked well to match my style and the shoes go great with everything from summer casual wear to a party dress for nights out, that I've barely taken them off since they arrived in the mail.
Most importantly of all, for someone who struggles to find shoes that are the right shape and size for her awkward feet, when these flatform fashion styles arrived in the post, they both fit like a dream the very first time I put them on. Well-fitting shoes are so important, I can't deal with the sight of feet crammed into too-tight heels or straps that make your skin bulge uncomfortably. Our feet carry us every day of our lives ladies, they deserve comfort as well as style.As someone who walks a hell of a lot in every new place I visit, it's important for shoes to not only be comfortable but hard-wearing, so when these gorgeous Polly Black Strappy Slingback Flatform Shoes arrived I made sure to put them through their paces. Wearing them on a day out in Cambridge, we marched the streets all day long and not once did the shoes rub or feel even slightly uncomfortable. They felt like I'd been wearing them years with the soft, synthetic leather and the comfortable flatform fashion style – which, if, like me, you can't be bothered with big heels, is a great way to dress up an outfit for the evening while staying comfortable.
These gorgeous shoes were such a hit that I raved about them to my bestie, who promptly went online and bought a pair for herself. These are also available in white and rose gold which are both fab for a night out or daytime wanderings. For £22.99, they're a total steal and even after I've worn them to death, they still look brand new and are as comfy as the day they arrived. You guys know I pride honesty in every review, and I can honestly say these have become my favourite and the most versatile shoes in my wardrobe. Available online here.I've definitely noticed that since traveling, I'm much more of a trainers and flats kind of gal than heels – I used to love going out in heels but that was back when I had the stamina and the inability to feel pain. These days, I much prefer to dance all night or walk all day and still be smiling at the end, so flatforms fashion is a great choice because you get the benefit of the extra height (a bonus if you're a shortie like me) and feeling a bit more dressed up at night, but they can also be worn during the day with more casual outfits. Anything that works for both day and night is a winner for me, especially if you're traveling a lot and don't have much space in your bag for lots of shoes.These Paige Navy Faux Suede Strappy Flatform Sandals are a great example of a really well-made and stylish shoe that easily works for both day and night. They can be nice and casual for a visit to the pub or a day out somewhere, or you could even dress them up and wear them to a wedding if you styled them well. I love the slight espadrille style of the bottom of the shoes, it make them feel really summery and perfect for holidays while the darker colour means they'll go with your whole wardrobe. The thick straps are really supportive and make the shoes really comfortable to wear, plus the wrap-around strap style is very slimming on the ankles.
Again, I tested these ones out with a good and long walk through the countryside over here in Germany and despite running around the fields taking all these pics, they were still just as comfortable as the day they arrived. The rich colour is perfect for teaming up with blue denim or even the super cute striped trousers that are everywhere at the moment. They are also available in nude or black and cost just £22.99. Available online here.
What do you prefer – heels or flats? Where do you stand on flatform fashion? What shoes are your favourite this summer? Have you got a pair you bring out every season?
One of the great things about being back in the UK is having more time to experiment with the blog. This year, I've really set myself the challenge of stepping outside my blogging box and trying some new things - and I thought why not try my hand at writing some more fashion posts? It's been a while since I wrote one and when I was asked to collaborate with Tobi, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to get back into it. I love to try writing about new things and let's be honest, travel and style go hand-in-hand. But after spending so in Asia where my wardrobe extended about as far as tie-dye and bikinis, and Australia, where it was much more laid back, I was excited to come back to the UK and once again really revel in clothes. I've always loved fashion, I get it from my mum who is a self-confessed shopaholic who always orders "one in every colour", but travel has meant my clothes often get put on a back-burner instead focusing on comfort and durability.Clothes are creativity and my style has changed a lot over the years, but one thing that has stayed the same is my love of knitwear. As much as the eternal summer has been amazing while travelling, I have at times really missed wearing snuggly clothes - those thick jumpers and cosy cardigans. Living every day in the sunshine is amazing, but there are times when you just fancy being wrapped up in warm layers and knitted fabrics. I love the Cowl Does It Feel Sweater Dress from Tobi (available here) because it has all my favourite elements - thick, over-sized style to keep the cold out, a roll-neck top and my favourite feature - pockets! It's so hard to find a jumper or a dress with pockets and I really do feel that details like this really make them seem even more luxury, plus I can't get enough of this rich burgundy colour. Perfect for sipping on a nice glass of Shiraz by a roaring fire. Pictured with scarf and bag (Primark) and boots (New Look - similar available here)I'm absolutely in love with this gorgeous little top, which you may have seen me wearing in this previous post for afternoon tea. With the weather being so cold at the moment, I'm all about my jeans and boots, so I'm always on the lookout for cute tops to pair up with them. The Lose It Self Tie Blouse from Tobi (available here) is just beautiful and goes perfect with my ripped jeans - I actually wore it out for a work dinner the other night and had lots of compliments on it. I love the rich combination of colours, the dark blue and the hints of gold, plus the textures of the velvet mixed with the sheer fabric is pure luxury. It works just on it's own with jeans, or you can pop a little top underneath for a more modest look, I paired it with a white cami top the other night. Pictured with the comfiest jeans in the world! (New Look - available here)My favourite outfit from this haul has to be the Cosette Embroidered Tier Romper - as my friends say, I am the queen of the romper. I just love a little playsuit, they're comfy but practical and they look so cute in the summer. I love that you can dress them down with bare feet on the beach, or up with high heels for a night out, and you can even wear them in winter with a pair of tights. I actually wore this romper with a pair of tights and a blazer for afternoon tea with the girls last week and loved the outfit. Considering there is snow on the ground as I write this, I may be a bit overly-hopeful that I'll be wearing this with just a denim jacket (pictured - vintage) and bare feet on the beach anytime soon, but a girl can dream! Bring on the summer..If you've been lusting over any of the clothes in this post, you should check out Tobi for some seriously affordable and really cute outfits. I'll be honest and say over the last few years, I've gone off the high street brands and have actually started to prefer online stores that offer much more budget-friendly but still great quality clothes. I find the clothes are a bit more unique instead of the same copy-cat styles, I'm really loving the more quirky designs, plus the feel that you're not going to walk past people on the street who have the same outfit on as you. Some of my other favourite budget website brands at the moment include Zaful and Romwe, although the delivery does take a while with these brands. What do you think of my fashion post - leave me a comment below with any feedback!
Also - nominations are now open for the Blogosphere Awards and I would LOVE if you would take two seconds out of your day to nominate me if you've loved reading my posts this year. Thank you.
What do you think of these outfits - which is your fave? What are your fave budget fashion brands? Are you loving all the winter knitwear or ready for some summer fashion?
Whether you're backpacking or flashpacking, it can be hard to know how much to pack when you're heading out on your first big adventure. (Check out my girl's packing guide to Asia and Australia) It doesn't matter whether you're using a backpack or a suitcase, we all have limited space and you only want to take what you actually need. I used to be the worst for over-packing stuff I just didn't and wouldn't ever need on holiday, but since backpacking and realising that if I over-pack it is more weight for me to carry, I've found it much easier to cut down. One thing that is always very important to think about when packing is footwear - it's so easy to overpack when it comes to shoes and these quickly add weight to your bag. While you may want to take the prettiest shoes around - it's important to think more about long-term comfort. Your feet are your heroes when you travel, they carry you everywhere and go through a lot so it's important to look after them and to treat them to decent shoes that will help support them for longer.
If you're not planning on backpacking or travelling long-term, you can still be thinking about your upcoming summer holidays and festivals which always deserve a new pair of cute sandals. I don't know about you guys but whether I'm travelling or just at home, I'm pretty hard on my shoes and wear them to death, so I'm always in need of a new pair of trainers or flip-flops. I like to start my packing, or my summer by having a huge clear out - trying on all my old shoes to see what still fits and is still in good enough condition to wear - anything that doesn't gets thrown in the bin or taken to a charity shop. This gives me more space to store any new purchases and helps me work out my shopping list.
What shoes should I pack for my holidays?
A traveller's favourite - these are perfect for the beach, exploring a new place, partying the night away or even wearing in the scummy hostel showers. It's worth investing a little bit into these instead of going for the cheapest possible as the materials will last longer and they will support your feet more. I currently have some rubber ones from Billabong which have great support and are not damaged by the water. Straw ones look cute but they quickly begin to smell and go mouldy when damp, and super cheap ones will quickly fall apart and can strain your feet when walking.
My favourite shoes for travelling - these are so useful for so many things. If you have a nice pair they are perfect for daywear as well as nights out, plus if you're travelling in cooler places these are good for keeping your feet warm. If you're as active as me when you travel - they are also great for going running, for hiking, climbing, cycling and exploring. I tend to travel with a sporty pair of runners for outdoor activities - my current ones are Nike trainers - and I also like to keep a pair of nicer trainers with me for everything else - these were previously Converse and are now Adidas trainers. I can't recommend Converse enough for travelling - I spent two years travelling with a white pair which ended up filthy a lot but were always sparkling white again after the washing machine.
One summer essential you need to buy early is sandals. It's easy to forget when backpacking that you might end up in some pretty smart places - I've gone for cocktails at the Hilton in Thailand and been dancing in glamorous clubs in Sydney. So you always want to make sure you travel with one dressy/smart outfit and either a pair of nice sandals or heels to wear with them. The debate of sandals vs. heels is a long one so I'll summarise for you, but it's up to you what you choose. Sandals are great because they can be dressed up or down - most of my travels have been just with a nice pair of sandals mostly just to avoid wearing flip flops or trainers. However, I do currently have a pair of small heels with me after being based in Melbourne for 5-6 months and enjoying lots of nights out in fancy bars and clubs.
It entirely depends on where you are travelling and for how long - for Asia I would recommend just sandals as heels are never worn. For Australia, you may want a pair of heels for the cities but then again, if you're sticking to outback life and road trips you'll much prefer some small sandals. It's good to spend some time picking out the sandals you really want, make sure they are comfortable and have sturdy soles - I had some beautiful ones made for me in Santorini, Greece. Make sure you go for a neutral pair that work with everything from dresses and skirts to jeans and shorts - you want to create a capsule wardrobe that allows you to combine all elements in various combinations. Taking this approach will save you money, and reduce the clutter in your wardrobe.
Once you've picked out your favourite new footwear, make sure you spend some time breaking them in to avoid blisters when you're on the road. Remember that in hot weather your feet will swell slightly, so it may be a good idea to buy half a size up if your shoes are already slightly tight, or break them in wearing socks to stretch the material a little bit further. The strappier they are, the funkier your tan lines will look so always remember to put sunscreen on your feet once you're in the sunshine.
Something I really love about travelling is the shopping - I can never resist a good market or a browse around a boutique filled with delicate handmade crafts. There's something beautiful about the way so much effort is put into the creation and sourcing of such wonderful products. It's just so pure when you come from a world of mass-produced fashion where everyone dresses the same and personal style can sometimes lack a bit of soul. I've always much preferred something a bit quirky, something not everyone else wears - I love clashing colours, bright prints and vibrancy that reflects my personality. When I traveled in Asia, the markets filled with tie-dye, patterns and colours were made for me, the delicate shall bracelets and coloured anklets were the stuff my dreams were made of and the cheap prices allowed me to reinvent my image every few days.When I was in Australia, even when things were a touch more expensive, I couldn't resist the lure of a beautiful handmade jewellery shop in Darwin that has given me one of my favourite pieces of jewellery. Never leaving my ankle, this dainty silver piece was handmade and holds some of my most precious travelling memories close to me wherever I go. It's amazing really how a well chosen memento can transport you back to a moment in seconds, how it can transform your day with just a glance by reminding you of happier times. Something handmade always seems that much more precious because of the time, effort and heart that has been poured into the creation of it. It just seems so much more special because it is a handcrafted reminder of not only the place, but the people who created it and the history behind it.Santorini was surprisingly a hidden gem when it came to shopping after warnings it was an expensive island. I actually found the shops very reasonably priced, especially for the quality of the items on sale. And actually having a suitcase with me instead of a backpack for once - it seemed rude not to indulge! While there didn't seem to be any markets to browse, there were several shops and lovely little jewellery stalls scattered around Perissa, where we were staying. My favourite item of the holiday was without a doubt my mermaid dish, pictured at the top, it is absolutely beautiful and perfect for holding all my favorite jewellery. I love the shimmering shell and it was a total bargain for something that will fit beautifully with my room at home and make a perfect present for friends. For any other mermaids out there, it's a perfect reminder of those gorgeous ocean blues when you've had a long day at work or the weather is kind of crappy at home.Everywhere you go in Greece there are shops selling handmade sandals, wallets and bags, and usually I'm not very interested. But when I stumbled across a little shop full of some of the most beautiful, and quirky, handmade sandals I've ever seen - plus a real-life cobbler whipping them up in front of my very eyes - I just couldn't resist! This shop was amazing and I decided to treat myself to a new pair of sandals which are already the most comfortable shoes I own and I know I'll have for a very long time. The cobbler was so friendly and even made my mother and I matching bracelets to wear with the shoes. The whole process of watching him create these beautiful shoes from pieces of leather and fabric was just amazing, and it was so lovely to witness as you were buying the shoes. It really gave you a sense of where the shoes came from and made them that much more special.Further along the seafront we discovered a little shop with some of the most beautiful dresses, jumpsuits and jewellery adorning the rails inside. A total mish-mash of creative, colourful trinkets lined the shelves, including some rather odd items such as decorative penises, and a host of gorgeous decorations for your home and even photo albums. I couldn't resist trying on this beautiful dress, and I found an amazing jumpsuit and dress for my mum, plus I treated her to a cute little bracelet as a reminder of the holiday. The staff were so friendly and put the emphasis on the handmade elements of the clothes and jewellery within the store, that was what really sold the items to us, the fact that they were one-of-a-kind with only one of each in the shop. That's something you really struggle to find back home where everything is available in every colour and size, so it just means everyone has one.If you're looking for a handmade gift that is just a little bit more personal, why not try Forever Handmade - they focus on using centuries old techniques to create modern looking accessories. This post was a collaboration with Forever Handmade, but as usual, all views are my own.
What handmade treasures have you discovered while travelling? Which purchases have become treasured possessions?
There’s no denying that for many, their student days conjure up memories of wayyyy too many cheap baked bean cans, far too many hungover lectures and amazing memories that will last a lifetime. My university life was no different - it was something I had been looking forward to for years: a chance to get away from all I knew, to study something I was passionate about and to live as wild and freely as my bank balance would allow. That first taste of freedom is the make-or-break moment for many and while some will flounder in the face of independence, spending every penny of their student loan in the first few weeks and scraping by for the next three years. Others thrive, finally given the space and time to live the way they deem fit, growing as an individual into the person they always had the potential to become. It’s a fantastic opportunity for teenagers to learn some serious life skills because so many at that age have been molly-coddled with no real work experience or life skills.
Now I would never say that university is right for everyone, especially when there are so many different paths these days that can help get you into the career of your choice. But there is one lifestyle that I think student life could really help prepare you for - backpacking. Travelling has been my life for almost 18 months and the whole experience has really opened my eyes to the different types of young travellers out there - from the very youngest at barely 18-years-old, to the mid-twenties and beyond. It’s amazing how difficult it becomes to read people as they are travelling - but once you remove many travellers from the “real world” their life experience and confidence just soars. I’ve been astonished to find how much I have in common with students who are barely out of university, and it has made me respect their maturity in new ways. Seeing their bravery in boarding that plane to the other side of the world, I wonder if I could have done it at their age and whether I would have had the same experiences.Looking back, I was always an independent person, someone who was always looking for opportunities to strike out on her own. But it was when I went away to study that I finally came into my own, being wholly independent was amazing and gave me the space I needed to grow as an individual, to really take control of my life. Student life gave me an amazing basis for becoming a traveller - it taught me to be independent and strong, yet flexible around others. It taught me the standard at which I want to live my life and a respect for how that measures up to the standards of others. It taught me basic skills like money management and the value of money, it taught me how to organise EVERYTHING for myself and others. It taught me time management and ways of having it all - of balancing my studies and personal life. It taught me to be creative - with everything. It taught me to be brave and to put myself out there in terms of my career and life opportunities. It taught me that life waits for no-one and you have to make the most of every second. UNiDAYS are life-changing in so many ways and I wouldn’t trade mine for the world. Not when it was those student days that prepared me for the world.
Talking to friends who are just beginning their studies, I can’t help but reminisce about the amazing memories I hold of my university days. Of those incredible friendships you build along the way, of the opportunities that await on every corner, the chances to excel both in your studies and extracurriculars. I remember the impassioned lectures, the fiesty discussions in seminars and the keen eye of the lecturers as they watched your ideas develop in front of them. The sporting events, the gigs, the events, the groups and all the rest. Those days where you had to get creative with baked beans because it was all you had left to eat, the nights you can’t remember and the times you’ll never forget. It all hopes your experience and changes your world without you even realising - but it’s these changes that set you on the right course to success in every aspect of your life. But it wouldn’t be student life without all the perks that come with it - I’ll never forget those student discounts! From £5 pizzas at Dominoes to free cheeseburgers at McDonalds, to that cheeky 10% off at all my favourite clothes shops - it was the dream!
If you’re just starting your studies then you should join the 7.2million students who are already signed up and saving with UNiDAYS - free to sign up it gives you access to the best range of student discounts online and in-store with all the leading brands. UNiDAYS is partnered with the biggest brands including the likes of THE ICONIC, Glue Store, ASOS, City Beach and Beginning Boutique. The free UNiDAYS App gives you instant access to student discount at home and on the move. When shopping in participating stores, just flash your UNiDAYS iD at the till point to redeem your discount. Save money on everything from the essentials to life’s little treats. Enter exclusive competitions and be the first to hear about exclusive student-only events, new store launch parties and much more. To find out more and sign up to start saving straight away - click here! Or find UNiDAYS on Facebook, Twitter (@UNiDAYS_AU) or Instagram (@UNiDAYS_AU).
What are your favourite student memories? Where did you study? What are your best tips for new students?
One of my biggest addictions, both in travelling and in life, is jewellery. I come from a fashion-loving family - my mum is a bit of a hoarder when it comes to clothes and always buys one in every colour. My sister on the other hand works as a fashion buyer and only deals with the finest of clothes and the snootiest of brands. I've always loved clothes but I'm more about finding something quirky and unusual than about spending a fortune - when I came travelling I was made for spending my days in bikinis and my nights in floaty tie-dye creations. The colours and the materials were the things my dreams were made of - from elephant print hareem pants to brightly patterned dresses and floaty tops with colours rolling into each other. I have a serious love of brightly coloured and patterned clothes - to the point that often I'll struggle to find items that will go together in my wardrobe. Packing to come travelling with just a 65l bag was a toughie and I was torn between wanting to take everything and nothing at all with me - a big part of me was keen just to start over with fresh clothes and a new attitude. I ended up taking a bag stuffed with clothes and threw most of it away when I hit the shores of Thailand - realising the markets were packed with gorgeous colours and fabrics was just too tempting for a girl like me.As my travels went on, I stocked up here and there, buying things that inspired me from bags and bracelets to tops and dresses. I even had some amazing gifts from friends including a yoga pal of mine who picked out some of my favourite trousers of all time - great taste! I loved the way my clothes reflected my state of mind and they perhaps showed the biggest outward change other than the smile on my face - finally I didn't have to play at being smart or 'fashiony' - I could just dress as scruffy as I wanted and nobody cared. Basically it was like embracing the festival version of myself every single day - we're talking bright colours, tassels, patterns, glitter and FUN. And we all know how much I love the festival version of myself. However, it got to a point when I knew I had not long left in Asia and that I would still have to send a lot of my clothes home before hitting up Australia - I had to stop shopping for clothes and to stop filling up my already overflowing backpack and start finding other ways of collecting mementos. I chose jewellery - my other great love. From rings and bracelets, to necklaces and earrings, Asia is packed full of amazing, quirky jewellery that will appeal to all tastes. Before I knew it, my arms were full of bracelets and my ankles full of anklets, but when it came to arriving in Australia I decided it was time to shed several of them and to make a fresh start in this new land.For ages at the beginning I couldn't afford to shop - living in Sydney for a month then partying my way up the East Coast meant I had little dollar to spare on frivolities like clothes and jewellery when there was goon to be bought. Plus, as many of us backpackers would say to each other - we often wore the same thing on five nights out in a row because we were always with a different crowd and no one would know the difference. But by the time I arrived in Darwin and was earning a good wage from my two jobs, I started to get the itch to shop again. Trying to save as much money as possible - I limited myself to charity shops like Vinnie's (which actually had an amazing range of brand new clothing in top condition). But when it came to jewellery I just couldn't resist the stalls down at Mindel Markets, one in particular is held by Embella which quickly became one of my favourite jewellery brands of all time. Started up around seven years ago by Sally, who started making jewellery at seven years old, the brand is a unique design and jewellery business. Originally starting up in Victoria, Sally and her husband Ross toured the festivals with Embella products before taking a motor home on the road for six years, eventually ending up in Darwin where they fell in love the lifestyle. It's a brand that was made by travellers for travellers and I love the way the pieces reflect the feeling of being at one with the world around you. My favourite piece is my Earthgirl anklet ($49), pictured above, which never leaves my ankle, but I couldn't help my addiction to their rings and bracelets as well. Most importantly, I love that I have a special sterling silver piece of jewellery that will stand the test of time to always remind me of that special time in Darwin and all the people who I loved there. It's a brand that is made for girls who feel most at home with their toes in the sand and their heart in the waves.The other brand that has got me all excited is one I have stumbled across since I've been in the outback - I just happened to see something online about Wanderer Bracelets and I loved the idea behind them so much that I wanted to share them with you guys. A perfect gift for any traveller, or something special for yourself - I actually bought myself these two bracelets as a Christmas present and something to celebrate my year of travelling solo. The initiative was started up by a guy called Ben who quit his job, sold everything and moved to Bali in his twenties - a guy after my own heart! Driving up into a jungle village one day, he met Made and his neighbours who were incredible artists but didn't make enough to support their families. Their partnership sparked an international movement which sees them selling the bracelets to people all over the world. They are supporting an entire community while creating jewellery out of white buffalo bone - an all-natural sustainable source which also helps fight the ivory trade. All amazing reasons to support such a fantastic business. But even more special, you can get a bracelet engraved with custom coordinates of a place that is special to you - for me, it was the coordinates of my home in Norfolk, UK. It's something special that will always mean that my heart is where my family and friends are at home, even if I'm the other side of the world. As I said, a perfect gift for a traveller and so affordable at around $22 each. And I couldn't resist getting the mermaid tail bracelet to go with it, because let's face it, I'm definitely a mermaid. A perfect brand for travelling souls that know their heart will always remain firmly at home.
What do you think of travelling fashion - are you all about the tie-dye and elephant pants or do you prefer something more formal? Have you found any great boho jewellery ranges? What do you prefer as a memento of your travelling times?
Packing is one of the hardest parts of preparing to go travelling. In your mind you dream of gallivanting on a beach with your slender, tanned frame draped in gorgeous, floaty fabrics looking like something out of an advert for Free People. The reality is, there's just not much space for outfits like that in a 65 litre backpack! Suddenly your dreams are shattered when you realise how little space you have to pack up your whole life and carry it around with you for the next year. There's a reason I never wrote a packing list until now, and it's because I really do think it is difficult to provide a general one for all as each person values different items at different amounts, plus if you're travelling to different places it makes it difficult to pack for all weathers. I had an easy job at first because I was packing for South East Asia where I knew I would be needing just very light clothing, swimwear and sandals. I packed extremely lightly and decided to buy stuff along the way if I needed more clothing, and most of the items I took with me were ones I already had instead of buying new when I knew it would be cheaper in Asia. But when it came to arriving in Australia I was totally unprepared - I had no clothes for city life just hippy tie-dye dresses and flip-flips. I had to buy jumpers and even a coat just so that I could stay warm in the Sydney winter. But I didn't mind this too much because it just meant that I hadn't needed to carry the items around Asia for five months with me.
I've definitely noticed over time that there are some items that I packed way back when I first set out in January that have stayed with me ever since and remain as useful as ever, while a lot of other things I brought with me have since found their way to the bin or charity shop. These are the things I want to talk about because some of these things are the ones you might not think of when packing your bag, but they might turn out to be the things you need most. Check out my list below:
When it comes down to it, these are definitely the items that have been used the most out of my backpack and interestingly only two of these items are actually clothes - the most practical. Bear that in mind if you're packing for a long trip, I know it feels like the most important thing is to look the part but you can buy clothes all over the world and not many people actually care what you look like when you're travelling - they're more interested in the smile on your face and the stories you have to tell. I know girls who rocked up to Australia with their hairdryer, straighteners, curlers, a shedload of makeup and a whole wardrobe of going out outfits - I'll be honest and say you don't need it. It's nice to have some of that stuff so you can actually make an effort sometimes, but you don't need a suitcase full of the stuff, why not save the space and make your bag lighter for travelling further? Plus when you're moving between places so often, nobody ever realises you've been wearing the same outfit on the last 10 nights out. When you're camping in the outback and haven't showered for a week, it really doesn't matter what label you're wearing. Get back to basics and enjoy it. My best advice, if you plan to travel to Asia, just pack as light as possible and buy everything there - you'll save a fortune and you'll only end up buying all the clothes anyway!
What are your most useful items? What do you wish you had packed on your last trip? What do you never leave home without?
I was really excited to arrive in Hoi An - all through Thailand and Laos I kept meeting people who had loved it there, who raved about the food, the shopping and were often wearing fabulous clothes they had made there. I was looking forward to exploring the history of the city and to having that perfect combination of historical city, pretty riverside, lively markets and having the beach just a few kilometres down the road. It seemed like Hoi An would offer everything I wanted in one place - what more could a girl want? My friend Matthieu and I arrived after a long bus ride from Hue and set about finding somewhere to stay - we ended up at the Hoi Binh Hotel which charged hostel prices and was very good value considering it had a swimming pool and breakfast included. Plus it was right in the centre of everything which really helped when exploring and walking around the city. I spent the first afternoon exploring and eating some of the fantastic local delicacies including the White Rose wontons, spring rolls and other delicious snacks. Hoi An is well known for having fantastic food and I know a lot of people who did food tours there which they said were amazing but sadly I didn't have time - I just made sure to eat as much and as often as possible while I had the chance.Knowing I was there for just a few days and on a tight schedule - one of my priorities was getting some clothes designed and made for me. Now while many were getting outfits or suits made for work - I was lucky knowing I won't be back in a desk job anytime soon so I used my money to buy cute outfits I knew I could wear on a daily basis out here in Asia and Australia. I went to see a tailor who comes very highly recommended on Tripadvisor and through other blogs I follow - Miss Forget Me Not - hoping her work would love up to the hype. I was convinced straight away after seeing how busy she was - her and her workers invited me in to look at designs and materials. I explained what I was after and showed pictures I had previously found online of designs I loved - two playsuits and a top - then chose out some lightweight, floaty, summery materials. It took ages to choose - so don't go there on a tight schedule because it's a bloody hard decision!Finally we worked out the details and designs to suit my body shape and I was measured up for each, it definitely helped that I had taken my own designs but they do also have a collection of their own you can use depending on what you are after. There is also an option for you to provide a material you like if you don't want one of theirs which definitely helped a few people who were struggling to match a material with their chosen design. My clothes took one full day to make and I was due to return for a fitting the following night and to pick them up the following day - talk about impressive! Everything fit like a glove and only one seam needed altering slightly - they were all so professional and such lovely women. My clothes cost around the equivalent of £40 for two playsuits and a top, all custom-mad to my design and choice of material in less than 48 hours. Pretty bloody amazing if you ask me, especially considering I could, have paid up to £50 for one of these playsuits in the UK. I wish I had more space in my bag to get more made and am already looking forward to returning to Vietnam with more designs!The rest of my time in Hoi An was spent walking the streets, exploring historic houses and markets, talking to locals by the riverside and playing dominoes with them. One highlight was visiting the Tran Duong family home - nestled down one of the quaintest and most beautiful little streets I have ever seen - it has seen four generations of the family and holds a wealth of history about the city. Mr Duong was more than happy to welcome us in and spoke perfect English to tell us all about his family, the history of the house and the wider history of both the city and Vietnam as a whole - it was so interesting to hear about it from someone who was educated enough to speak impartially about the political history of the country. I learned more in an hour and a half spent at the house than I did from any guidebook or website, so I highly recommend you visit as well. Elsewhere you have to pay for a ticket to visit a number of historical sites around the city although many of them you can see without actually entering the sites. I personally preferred to walk around the streets and to see the locals living their day-to-day lives, chatting to them down by the river was lovely. One of my favourite things to do was to spend a few hours catching up on blogging by the river over a delicious Vietnamese ice coffee - heaven!And I mustn't forget the beach! Hoi An has a gorgeous beach just three kilometres down the road - a perfect distance for a nice cycle ride with friends, especially when it's so cheap and easy to hire bikes everywhere. Me and two friends cycled there for a few hours on our last day - one the guys went swimming while me and Paul decided to be completely insane and do a workout on the beach. It was hilarious and really fun - plus it was such a beautiful and empty beach. I really wished I had time to visit the beach again for a day of sunbathing, but sadly not on this trip as there was just so little time and so much to see and do. I would really recommend - if you have enough time on your trip - spending up to a week in the city, perhaps with a few days staying down at the beach and a few within the city to get the history side. When you arrive, make it a priority to get your clothes order in so you can ensure they will be ready in time and the relax, enjoy and explore the city at your own pace. There are lots of walking tours, cycle tours and food tours available, or you can do it all by yourself and have fun getting lost and discovering many of the hidden treasures the city has to offer. One for me was finding a selection of restaurants around that work for the community with all money raised supporting orphanages or helping to educate children or get the, away fro domestic violence or drugs. I love that by doing something as simple as eating out I could be supporting the community and giving something back - plus when the food is that good why not?!
Have you been to Hoi An - what did you think? Any advice you can offer for the historical tours, or for having clothes made? What was your favourite part of Vietnam?