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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.

Sustainable fashion, picture at Hamburg Rathaus

Sustainable fashion with Wool&

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!)

Wool& dress modelled by Absolutely Lucy

Why should we choose sustainable fashion?

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

Wool& Hamburg

Re-wearing clothes is cool

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.

Rowena swing dress

Don’t be a sheep – choose sustainable fashion

I write this blog from an interesting perspective, because despite my personal views on sustainability, I’m currently working for an affiliate marketing company. The company I work for is at the heart of the UK’s biggest drive towards shopping and we’ve just gone through our busiest time of the year with Black Friday. After spending several years away from the influence of UK advertising and the push to constantly be buying new clothes, working through Black Friday was incredibly eye-opening. I had forgotten how utterly relentless the advertising campaigns, newsletters, emails, pop-ups, adverts and much more are. We’re never far away from being influenced and having our shopping habits monitored. We may be limited on how much we can prevent this, but we do have a choice over where we spend our money and on what.
These days, one of the easiest ways to drive change is through money. Remember, every penny you spend on brands that are supporting fast fashion is fueling more cheap clothing and more cheap labour. But if you choose to stop supporting certain brands and instead saving your money and investing in longer-lasting pieces which support both local communities and the environment. Your decision is showing the larger corporations that you no longer want to support their industry. Imagine if everyone started to make the same decision, it could spark huge worldwide changes! Just look at the drastic changes in use of plastics and even plastic bags in supermarkets – each is a small change but when put together, they can create bigger waves. Don’t ever underestimate the power of your small choices on the bigger picture. Don’t be a sheep, don’t follow everyone else. Be the one to strike out and start making small changes in your life.
Wool& sustainable fashion
Have you made sustainable fashion choices – can you share your favourite brands? What have you done to reduce your carbon footprint? What small changes would you like to make in 2019?
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Dresden is such an easily forgotten Baroque gem when it comes to exploring Germany. Often overshadowed by the showier Munich and and edgier Berlin, so many don’t realise the city offers a whole new side to the country. Dresden is a city steeped in history, heritage and beauty. It was the first place I have been in Germany where I truly felt like I had stepped back in time with some of the most beautiful architecture and streets I have found in Europe. Comparable to Vienna and Prague, the city is a perfect weekend escape, or even a day trip from another nearby city.

While we decided to drive through and spend an afternoon in the city on our way from Saxon Switzerland National Park to Prague, it would be a great place to visit if you were staying in any of the nearby cities, or to head for a whole weekend. Dresden was everything I had been missing about Europe while living in Australia, its streets are filled with stories from times gone by and it is a great place to indulge your love of the arts, music and theatre. While it was gorgeous in the summer sunshine, now is actually the perfect time to visit with it being the German capital of Christmas and boasting some of the most beautiful Christmas markets designed to make your winter sparkle.

Absolutely Lucy Dresden City, Germany

How to get to Dresden

With easy access by plane, train, bus and even by car, there’s honestly no reason not to pay the city a visit. As I’ve said, it’s a great place to spend a day while passing through to your next destination. Or you could spend a whole weekend there exploring at your own pace and enjoying the Christmas markets. If you’ve been exploring the nearby countries, there is also great international rail connections to Aarhus, Budapest, Bratislava, Prague, Vienna and Zurich. Once you arrive, you have your pick of exploring on foot or by bike, or using the public transport network by using buses, trains, trams and ferries. You can find out more about this, plus timetables and prepaid travel cards here.

What to see in Dresden

If you love cities bursting with history and beauty, prepare to be wowed by Dresden. One of the few cities in Germany that wasn’t destroyed or devastated by the wars, it rose majestically from the ashes and remains beautifully preserved today. Previously the seat of the Saxon rulers, it is clear that they lavished their attention on the city and blessed it with amazing architectural treasures in glittering palaces and stunning gardens and soaring churches that dominate the skyline. My best advice for exploring the city? Take your time. Don’t rush and really take it all in. It’s an amazing city and one worth appreciating.

Dresden Cathedral

Zwinger

This one was spectacular in the sunshine and perfect for walking around in the afternoon. Enjoy magnificent Baroque architecture at this 18th century palace on the banks of the river Elbe. Designed by court architect Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann, it is considered one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in Germany. With grounds filled with trickling fountains and statues of mythological figures, it’s worth walking around the outside of the palace to really appreciate it’s beauty. It served as the orangery, exhibition gallery and festival arena of the Dresden Court, but now houses the Dresden State Art Collections.

Dresden Frauenkirche

My favourite building in Dresden and one that will honestly take your breath away. I’m so sad I didn’t get more photos there, but I managed to capture the stunning ceiling. This incredible reconstruction project saw the Dresden Frauenkirche transform from a Catholic to Protestant church during the Reformation, before being replaced in the 18th century by a larger Baroque Lutheran building.

Dresden Frauenkirche

Destroyed during Allied bombing in 1945,the ruins were kept and stored to be reconstructed following the reunification of Germany in 1990, with the church eventually reopening in 2005. Whether you’re interested in history and architecture or not, this one will blow you away by it’s fine embellishment and decoration, with gold and pink adorning the walls and the most intricately painted ceilings.

Semperopera

For fans of the arts, the Semperoper is a must-see in the historic centre of Dresden. Nestled on the west side of Dresden’s Theaterplatz, one of Germany’s finest public squares, is the city’s opera house which is also home to the Semperoper Ballett. Built in the style of the Italian High Renaissance, explore the gardens at your leisure, or, to experience the magnificent interiors, attend a performance or take a tour.

Dresden College of Arts

Dresden Castle

One of the oldest buildings in Dresden, the Royal Palace was the seat of the kings of Saxony of the Albertine line of the House of Wettin. With over 800 years of history lying in its walls, it is known for the different architectural styles employed, from Baroque to Neo-renaissance and is beautiful to explore, especially in the evening.

Brühls Terrace

Perfect for sunny afternoon stroll, “The Balcony of Europe” stretches alongside the city and high above the banks of the river Elbe. We were amazed that we were overlooking the same river as we do back in Hamburg, but I will say that Dresden’s Brühls Terrace is a touch prettier than Hamburg’s more industrial style. This historic architectural ensemble begins at the Schlossplatz on the site of the old city ramparts where you head up the steps.

Dresden Brühls Terrace

Stroll along the promenade to find the Dolphin Fountain, the College of Art, The Moritz Monument, and below find the Terrassenufer, the main landing stage for cruise boats. If I can give you one tip for exploring this section, make sure you go into the College of Art and explore, cut straight through the entrance hall and go out the opposite doors to the courtyard. It was one of my favourite secret finds when exploring Dresden, like a secret garden time forgot and some seriously beautiful hidden archtecture.

Moritzburg Castle

This Baroque palace in Moritzburg, is about 13km northwest of the Saxon capital, Dresden, and makes a perfect day trip from the city. This stunning palace features an island, lakes and an 18th-century hunting lodge in the grounds. All feature the stunning designs, detail and luxe interiors.

Dresden Cathedral

Dresden Cathedral

Another spectacular sight, Dresden Cathedral, or the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, is another building with an imposing character. Looming across the square, it makes an impression as you wander down from Brühls Terrace. We couldn’t go inside straight away due to a service ongoing, but we’re so glad we went back later on because honestly, the building was breathtaking from the inside. So detailed and so much interesting history.

The Georgentor and the Procession of Princes

This amazing wall is quite a sight and luckily we stumbled across it when exploring the city. It was the original city exit to the Elbe Bridge and the first of the city’s many Renaissance buildings. The famous Fürstenzug, the Procession of Princes, is a 102-meter-long portrait of the Dukes, Electors, and Kings of the house of Wettin, together with leading German figures from the arts and sciences.

Dresden wall

Are you planning a visit to Germany? Dresden is such a great city for exploring history, heritage and the true beauty of Europe. Plus it’s much quieter and smaller, so perfect for exploring on foot and for a more relaxed visit. After seeing how good the Christmas Markets are up in Hamburg, I can’t even imagine how amazing they are over in the “home of Christmas”.

Have you been to Dresden? How was your experience? What is your favourite European city?

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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.Stepping up my flatform fashion with XYLondonAfter 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.Flatform FashionAs 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.Flatform FashionI’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.Flatform FashionThese 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.Flatform Fashion in the fields

Check out the full XYLondon range 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?

Stepping up my flatform fashion with XYLondon

One thing the last few years of travel has really taught me, is the importance of well being. The truth is, when you’re travelling solo, there is no-one else to look after you and if you don’t learn to take good care of yourself, you’re not going to get the most out of every experience. I’ve really taught myself to slow down a bit over the last year, I’ve accepted that I don’t have to do and achieve everything, that sometimes it’s okay to sit back and just appreciate life instead of giving 110% and exhausting myself. I’m still learning, every single day, but I definitely have a better appreciation for what makes me happy both mentally and physically than I did when I was first travelling. What helps me be my best self? Lots of exercise, tasty, healthy food, a wide open horizon and lots of time spent outdoors. I’ve realised that being online is my job and to a certain extent, is a hobby, but that I can’t let it dominate in any way because it really does impact on my mental health.Finding a little inner peace at a gorgeous retreat in the North Norfolk countryside | UK TravelOne thing that has really helped me to stay balanced over the years is gifting myself time. We’re always so busy rushing around trying to do everything in our careers, relationships and in our free time, but sometimes we just need to give ourselves time to breathe. I was so guilty of never giving myself time to just be still, and I still am, but I’m trying my best to improve. And so, when an opportunity came up to review an Inner Peace Retreat with Psychologies Magazine, I jumped at the chance to spend a day deep in the countryside and really getting to know myself. Taking place at West Lexham Manor, near Norwich, the retreat offered a weekend spent focusing on psychology, mindfulness, creativity, meditation and movement set against the backdrop of the stunning grounds. What more could a girl want?Finding a little inner peace at a gorgeous retreat in the North Norfolk countryside | UK TravelDriving up to West Lexham Manor through frozen fields and breathing in the crisp morning air, I instantly felt refreshed and ready for restoration of my mind, body and soul. The stunning grounds were the perfect place for that and I couldn’t wait to explore more later on. On arrival, the organisers gave a warm welcome and ushered us into morning tai chi in the beautifully restored barn which has been purposefully created for group events and weddings. With sunshine beaming through the windows and birdsong in the background, we started the day by warming up our aching bodies and minds led by neuroscientist Dr Tamara Russell, who was definitely one of the most memorable characters from the weekend. After the session, we went for breakfast in the sun-drenched hall, and it was clear to see the emphasis on well being from the delicious, healthy meal of locally sourced ingredients that awaited us.Finding a little inner peace at a gorgeous retreat in the North Norfolk countryside | UK TravelWe were back in with Dr Tamara for our first session of the day, Practical Models for Exploring Body and Mind, which was a fascinating insight into neuroscience and psychology, but with a real life context that made it easily accessible for anyone new to the topic. Tamara used various exercises to look at the way we relate to ourselves and how that affects us in our daily life when we make decisions or react to situations. After studying a bit of neuroscience and psychology at university, I’ve always been fascinated by models like these and how they can be used to understand why we are the way we are. We all found this workshop so interesting and helpful that it actually ran over into the break and later I could hear many of those attending the retreat continuing the discussion over lunch.Finding a little inner peace at a gorgeous retreat in the North Norfolk countryside | UK TravelLater on we had another workshop, this time with Suzy Greaves, editor of Psychologies Magazine, which was one I was really excited for. Being a journalist, I’m always looking to develop my skills in any way I can, so a journaling/writing workshop with Suzy seemed perfect for me. This time we had an opportunity to get outside and breathe in the fresh air and to take in the sights, sounds and smells as we wandered around the grounds. Nature is so soothing, and despite being based in North Norfolk, I find that lately I haven’t had a chance to just get outside and appreciate it, something that I’m sure has caused me to feel a bit stressed out. We were told to just write freely, uninterrupted by others and uninterrupted by thoughts of how we should write. I let my hand glide across the page and all of us taking part felt our innermost thoughts and feelings pour out on to the page. I was amazed at what came out, what I’d been holding in and finally just had to explode across the page, pure stream of consciousness.Finding a little inner peace at a gorgeous retreat in the North Norfolk countryside | UK TravelWe enjoyed a leisurely lunch – let me tell you the food was just incredible – followed by a chance to explore the grounds with owner Edmund Colville, as he discussed the retreat and the lay-lines around his family home. Later that afternoon, we had our final workshop of the day, which was easily my favourite and really left an incredible impression on me. The 5 Rhythms Movement workshop with meditation teacher Chris Connors forced the group to throw away all inhibitions, stresses and worries, and to really let loose. We’re talking 90 minutes of dancing freely as a mass and an individual to various pieces of music, and by the end of the session, everyone was exhausted but liberated, making their way out of the barn with smiles on faces and a new sense of peace. I thought I was pretty relaxed before I walked into that workshop, but I can tell you I felt like a completely different person by the time I walked out of it and I know every single person in that room felt exactly the same. Sadly I had to leave after this workshop and didn’t get a chance to chat to the others over dinner, but the whole experience was beyond anything I could have hoped.Finding a little inner peace at a gorgeous retreat in the North Norfolk countryside | UK TravelWhether you need stillness, a chance to slow down or if you are searching for inner peace, these workshops give you a chance to take a time-out in the unspoilt beauty of West Norfolk. If this sounds like something that would be right up your street, there will be many other retreats taking place this year which focus on yoga, mindfulness and body confidence, and another Psychologies Inner Peace Retreat is in the pipeline. Both men and women attended and while some were more interested in the psychology, others were going through some huge life changes, but all felt just as welcome and came away with a genuine sense of inner peace. Find out more and book at www.westlexham.org

*Images provided by West Lexham Manor

Have you been to a retreat? Would you like to attend one? How do you find peace in your daily life?

Finding a little inner peace at a gorgeous retreat in the North Norfolk countryside | UK Travel

I caught up with a fellow traveler at the weekend, she has just come back from travelling the world for a year with her young family – total family travel goals! She was thanking me for a travel tip I gave her about visiting an ethical elephant sanctuary in Thailand because she had realised once there the sheer number of places out there clinging on the surge in popularity for ethical care of elephants by claiming to be good. Spending so much time in Thailand, I took care to research thoroughly and to ensure I was only supporting causes I was certain were benefiting the environment and animals. Talking about her step-daughter’s experience in India where she signed up to volunteer at an elephant sanctuary and found it to be mistreating the creatures, we realised how easy it is to do the wrong thing when all you are trying to do is the right thing. And isn’t that the problem we are all facing in trying to be ethical these days?The trouble with trying to be an ethical traveler | Wanderlust

What’s the struggle with being ethical?

I consider myself a pretty good human, I like to keep my carbon footprint low, to support and build up my friends, to smile at strangers and help out at a homeless shelter. Everywhere I travel I try my best to be ethically-minded and research every location, every day trip I go on and all the companies along the way, only supporting causes I know are genuinely helping local people. But somehow I still feel like I’m fucking it all up.

Much like trying to be vegan or only eating ethically-sourced food, using only beauty products that haven’t been tested on animals or wearing clothing that hasn’t encouraged slavery or mistreatment of those in third world countries. What is boils down to is we’re all just trying our best to be damned good people and to try and help everyone, to support all the causes. We get to a point when we think, hell yeah, I’m doing pretty darn good at this! We’re able to help educate others and feel like we’re actually making waves, like we’re making a change.

And it all comes out that we were doing it wrong all along.

Like the time I switched to almond milk after learning about the harmful impacts of the dairy farming industry, but then found the problems caused due to water sourcing and insecticides were just as bad. Or when I signed a petition over the closure of a factory that had been mistreating workers in a third world country for cheap clothes, but then heard so many were unable to feed their families because they were out of work. And the time I switched make-up brands to avoid animal testing then found the company uses the services of another company that does employ animal testing!

It’s a constant battle and for anyone who tries to be ethically-minded, it can be a bit of a roller coaster  – one minute you’re up and feeling great for all the good you are doing for the world around you. Then next, you hit rock bottom when you realise actually by trying to help you may be doing more harm than good.The trouble with trying to be an ethical traveler | Wanderlust

Why is it so hard?

One of the problems – there are too many opinions out there and too many facts, but so often thanks to Twitter and various other social media outlets – the two become almost indistinguishable. It’s so easy to read one thing and to make a change in your life, then a week later to see an news article damning the opinion you just read elsewhere. I don’t know about you but I’m overwhelmed with information and I’m finding it hard to know which advice to take. To feel certain that I am actually making informed decisions that really are doing the best for everyone and the world around us. We’ve gone full circle from struggling to get the truth from companies over their ethical policies, to now being swamped with information and unsure of the facts.

Another aspect of this is the bloggers, social media stars and the celebrities who so often pick a cause to back and legions of fans follow in their wake. The fact is these influencers have a huge impact on the decisions of people across the world and the ethical nature of the decisions they make can cause huge waves. Just look at how many more people seem to care and know about global warming effects since Leonardo DiCaprio started talking about it, and Emma Watson must be one of the best-known faces for using her platform to really highlight key issues from women’s rights and climate change to sustainable fashion. But likewise, this can be used in a negative way, such as when some figures make questionable decisions such as wearing real fur, encouraging their fans to follow suit. The constant fight for change and for attention means it’s hard to know who is really trying to make a difference, and who is just jumping on the bandwagon for likes.The trouble with trying to be an ethical traveler | Wanderlust

What does this mean for travelers?

As someone who has been travelling for over three years and has no plans to stop anytime soon, being ethical in my travel will always remain at the forefront of my mind. After all, what was that quote?

Take only pictures, leave only footprints, kill nothing but time. – Aliyyah Eniath

I’ve always felt the one thing that really touches my heart and stays with me a long time after my travels, it’s not the places. It’s not sunrise at Angkor Wat or exploring waterfalls of Laos, it’s not doing yoga in Thailand or learning to work on a farm in outback Australia, or even getting lost in the ruin pubs of Budapest. It’s the people you met along the way. The amazing souls who helped you when you were struggling, the ones who showed you a world you never dared dream of, the ones who gave you enough laughs to last a lifetime. Those people are the ones I hold close in my heart, they’re the stories I tell about my travels, they are the memories.

So if that is the case, then it’s so important to make sure your travel is benefiting the people who have given you the experience of a lifetime and the environment you’ve been lucky enough to explore:

These are just examples and there are so many other ways to be ethical in your travel, to make informed decisions. And that is the most important thing, like me, you may be struggling with knowing if you are truly being ethical. But when it comes down to it, just the fact that you care enough to inform yourself is the first step to really doing something good in the world. Don’t listen to all the judgement over social media, it’s too easy to get swept away in throwaway comments instead of investing your time in making a change.The trouble with trying to be an ethical traveler | Wanderlust

My five top tips for traveling ethically:

  1. Research everything! Read newspaper articles, read medical journals, read books, watch documentaries and talk to people. By educating yourself and seeking as much information as possible, you put yourself in the best position for making a genuinely good decision.
  2. Read the reviews – planning a trip? Always take some time to read the comments on social media and review sites because these can be the best way to find up-to-date and brutally honest information. Just like you would if you were booking flights or a trip – look at the reviews to see what others have said about their experiences. (Follow the link for reviews on Etihad Airways)
  3. Talk to other travelers, ask for feedback on trips, tell them what you know and ask them to educate you. Since learning all about the mistreatment of elephants in Asia, I have made it my business to educate as many fellow travelers as possible and have since managed to to stop countless people from riding elephants. Small changes make big changes.
  4. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you find out you slipped up. I went to Seaworld with my family when I was a kid, I was too young to decide to go there myself but ever since seeing the Blackfish documentary, I have been beating myself up over it a little bit. You can’t be so hard on yourself if you make a mistake, the whole world makes mistakes. What matters is how you learn from them and prevent them in future.
  5. Remember, it’s not just when you travel to far-flung destinations, you can make every journey ethical by being mindful and conscientious. By supporting independent and local businesses, by not littering, but using public transport to reduce carbon emissions. There are lots of ways to be ethical when you travel, open your eyes and make a change.

The trouble with trying to be an ethical traveler | WanderlustThis has turned into a pretty mega blog post considering I had writer’s block just a few days ago, but I think this is such an important issue to be raised. Can you identify with feeling confused over traveling and living ethically? It’s okay if you do, we’re in it together. As long as we’re all doing our darnedest to make a difference, that’s all we can do.

How do you ensure your travel is ethical? Do you ever worry your ‘ethical’ decisions are less ethical than you would hope? What ethical changes have you made in your life?

The trouble with trying to be an ethical traveler | Wanderlust

 

For road trippers, car checks are a vital part of ensuring your vehicle survives the trip. And yet they can often be the one bit of preparation that is forgotten. Eager to get on the road, many are quick to head out without looking under the hood. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from over five years of solo travel and vanlife, it’s to always be prepared. Travel is a learning curve and the best way to become a good traveller is to learn quickly from your mistakes. That means wising up when things go wrong and seeing what you could have done to prevent it.

We’ve all had our fair share of travel calamities and I’ve definitely had quite a few when it comes to road trips. But the most important thing is to keep your sense of humour when these things happen. Accept that things can always go wrong and you can only be so prepared. The more you can adapt and pick up skills you can use the next time you travel – the better. So because I know I’m just as guilty of doing this. I wanted to share this post on the simple car checks you can do before a road trip.

Read these road trip posts:

Sunset over lake, road trip Western Australia

My worst road trip experiences:

That time the wheel fell off

Driving Australia’s West Coast with a group of travellers, from Perth to Darwin. It was no small road trip with over 4,000km to cover. My friend had taken her car for a service and check-up before the trip to ensure it was safe. But the garage must have forgotten to screw on one of the bolts for the wheel. We were driving along the highway when she noticed something was wrong. Then suddenly the wheel fell off and the whole car was lop-sided. Thankfully they had been pulling over to park at the time so no-one was hurt. But it could have been very dangerous, and it was expensive to get towed and fixed.

When the engine went up in smoke

An ex-boyfriend was driving up the West Coast to meet me in his van so we could drive the rest of the way together. But spookily, around the same area where the wheel fell off for my friend, his van suddenly broke down. He was stuck on the highway with the engine billowing black smoke. Now only did he have to get towed back to the town. But he ended up having to trade his van for a car! We still finished the road trip and loved that car.

The trip that stopped before it started

I planned a road trip across Bulgaria with some friends and we had just picked up the hire car, parking it on the street. We went to get a bite to eat and returned five minutes later to see our vehicle was clamped. Luckily the fine wasn’t too bad but we did end up wasting a lot of time.

Read: 15 reasons you should road trip across Bulgaria

Breaking down on the M25

This one was hilarious but a total pain in the arse. I had just spent a weekend in Brighton with an ex-boyfriend and we were on our way home. It was a hot day, and we had the top down in his convertible as we cruised down the M25. We couldn’t hear the noise at first but after a while we noticed the grinding, scraping sound of metal and we had to pull over. When I looked under the car, the entire exhaust had fallen down and was dragging under the car. It was a mess, a long wait for recovery, very expensive and still three hours from home on a bank holiday. Not ideal.

Western Australia road trip cars

So how can you prevent this from happening on your next road trip? Be smart, be organised and follow this checklist I’ve created. It features all the things you should check on your vehicle before any long journey. Spend a bit of time doing this before each trip. It could save you hours of standing by a windy motorway waiting for the AA man to show up after his Sunday roast.

Top car checks to perform before a road trip:

Get it checked

Car checks don’t all have to be done by you. Get a second opinion if you don’t know enough about cars. Schedule regular check-ups for your car or van. Make sure you get any concerns looked at. Don’t like the sound of that noise? Have it checked before you go.

Basic maintenance

Top up the fuel, the oil and even things like brake fluid and window washing liquid. Make sure your brake pads are still okay. Check the tyres have enough tread and if they need topping up.

Make sure your insurance is valid

You’d be amazed how many people are driving on the roads without insurance. So make sure you have a comprehensive insurance that covers you for all situations. This includes third party damage, and if you’re doing any off-roading or parking in unusual spots.

Switch it off

Don’t leave your lights on! This can run the battery down very quickly so be careful to check the inside lights when loading or unloading the car. If you leave the doors or windows open because of the heat then turn all lights off. Always make sure the engine is fully off and don’t let your battery run down.

Give your tyres the once over

Check the rubber for any bulges or tears, drive carefully and avoid broken glass. Also, make sure the tread is still within the legal requirement. If you’re planning on off-roading, be sure your tyres can handle it! Pack chains if you’re driving in the snow.

Don’t forget your emergency box

Always pack for emergencies. On long trips it is smart to pack a torch, first-aid kit, blanket and some basic tools. Plus water and extra snacks in case you get stuck somewhere. Whether you break down, crash or simply get stuck in a mega traffic jam, it’s always good to have supplies.

Choose reliable navigation

If you’re planning a long trip, it can be helpful to have a navigation system. Don’t just rely on your phone unless you’re sure you’ll have coverage everywhere. Garmin are good if you’re looking at getting a Sat-Nav. But it does help to keep a back-up map in the car in case of emergencies.

Don’t overpack the car

Extra weight of overpacking places extra strain on the vehicle and can use a lot more fuel. Pack smart and find ways to reduce the amount you take. If you’re road tripping long-term and have a roof rack full of stuff – arrange it carefully to be as streamlined as possible. Trust me, it makes a HUGE difference to how much fuel you consume.

Plan your journey before you go

Be smart about your travel times. Avoid hitting traffic or rush hour and you could save a lot of fuel and wasted time. Travelling late at night or early in the morning is great, open roads and not a soul in sight.

Important car checks to make before road trips

Here’s the deal if your car isn’t up to par then you’re either going to have to get it fixed up (which can potentially cost a lot of money) or you should sell it and upgrade to something better. IF you happen to take the route of selling your car one option to consider is Junk That Car, they state that they typically pay $500 or more in cash for junk cars. So, if you are thinking of selling it could be a smart choice.

Most importantly, once all the checks are done. Relax and really enjoy every second of your trip! Make it the trip of a lifetime. Even if things do go wrong, it isn’t the end of the world. It just means another funny story to tell afterwards. The most important thing you can pack when things do go wrong is perspective. Take a deep breath, take care of it and then sit back until you’re on your way again.

What was your worst road trip experience? Can you think of any other important car checks before a road trip? What was the best road trip you ever did?

Important car checks to make before road trips

Perth is kind of like Vegemite – you either love it or you hate it.

The city is often the receiver of either rave reviews or disappointing memories for travelers and I know I have heard all opinions from friends over the years. Never letting a bad review stand in the way of me making up my own opinion about a place, I refused to make a judgement before seeing it with my own eyes. After a week in Adelaide – read my city guide here – I hopped on a quick flight over to experience my first taste of Western Australia and to finally start my West Coast adventure. I arrived at the airport and caught a bus straight to my new hostel which had come highly recommended by friends all across social media and was clearly the hot favourite.Perth | A city guide for three days of exploring Perth | Australia

Hostel review:

Billabong Backpackers Resort

Not the easiest hostel to get to, there was a real lack of information at the airport regarding shuttle buses, routes and schedules – eventually I managed to find a helpful bus driver who told me I would need two buses to reach the hostel. It turned into a bit of a mission but I made it finally. I was a bit disappointed by the “friendly” staff who barely acknowledged my presence and seemed very bored by their job – not the best welcome to a new city and hostel. I was sent up to my room which was pretty aged and a bit dirty. I’m definitely not a snob when it comes to hostels but this building felt less like a hostel with atmosphere and vibe, it felt more like an old building used for school trips. You could tell this was a city hostel with many people just passing through for a day or two or others who were working and had no time to meet travelers. I don’t want to be totally negative about the hostel – I’m sure it must have been great at points for so many of my friends to rave about it – but I personally found the crowd staying there when I passed through to be quite antisocial and not very friendly to newcomers. It was not my kind of hostel. However, it is in a fantastic location for exploring the city by bus and on foot, Highgate is a great area for nightlife, food and entertainment.Perth | A city guide for three days of exploring Perth | Australia

What to do?

Sunset at King’s Park

King’s Park is a highlight of visiting Perth and one not to be missed, these beautiful gardens are backed by the Botanic Gardens and sit high on a hill overlooking the city. Providing you with a spectacular panoramic view of the city, the park is best at sunset when you can really appreciate the beauty of Perth. You can access the park by bus or road, or you can take the more challenging way – Jacob’s Ladder – a set of steep steps leading up to the park often full of fitness fanatics who run up and down for hours. Take a picnic, water and your camera for a lovely afternoon.

Have a drink at Hilary’s Boat Harbour

I stumbled across Hilary’s Boat Harbour on my wanderings around the city and had the loveliest time down there enjoying a drink overlooking the water while I planned some of my travels. There are lots of places to eat and drink down there and also a range of attractions and entertainment for the whole family, including access to trips on charter/fishing boats or over to Rottnest Island. Fancy keeping it simple – why not take a stroll along the boardwalk in the sunshine?Perth | A city guide for three days of exploring Perth | Australia

Eat and drink in Northbridge

Northbridge is just a short walk from Highgate – where I stayed – and the main city. It’s a fabulous neighbourhood full of quirky places to eat and drink throughout the day and into the evening. I found a great little vegan restaurant called Flora and Fauna, which served the best range of brunches and juices I have found in a long time. Although I didn’t get to go out while in the city – too much work on unfortunately – I’ve heard the nightlife is very good in this area as well.

Relax in the parks by Elizabeth Quay

Take in the views across the harbour and if the weather is good for you, why not grab a book and relax in the parks near Elizabeth Quay? It’s a perfect place to take a time-out or grab some lunch to take down there and sit in the sunshine before going for a stroll among the amusements and across the bridge for great city views.Perth | A city guide for three days of exploring Perth | Australia

Explore the suburbs on foot

I like to keep fit and one of my favourite ways to explore a new city is on foot – whether by walking all day long or by heading out for a morning run. I discovered the absolutely beautiful Hyde Park not far from my hostel in just this way, think golden, brown, autumn leaves falling from the trees and benches overlooking a lake – heaven right in the middle of the city.

Step outside the city:

Surf or relax on Perth’s famous beaches

Everyone says “you HAVE to go to Cottosloe Beach” and so, I did. But I couldn’t help being a little disappointed. Yes it was beautiful and yes it was bathed in sunshine when I went. But in my opinion, it didn’t even compare to having the whole of City Beach to yourself, or walking the endless sands of Scarborough watching dogs and surfers frolic in the waves. Definitely get yourself out to the beaches – they are Perth’s sparkling gem – but don’t always listen to what everyone says.Perth | A city guide for three days of exploring Perth | Australia

Spend a day in nearby Fremantle

Fremantle is the place that really stole my heart and I’ll be posting in much more detail about life there, but even for those just visiting for a day there is lots to do. There are weekend markets for food and goodies, live music and entertainment in the streets, a brewery for beer and cider tastings, beaches, history and culture to explore. Just watch out – it’s easy to get stuck here!Perth | A city guide for three days of exploring Perth | Australia

Head to Swan Valley for a wine tasting

While I was staying in Fremantle, my hostel organised a day trip around the wineries and local producers of Swan Valley. It was a fantastic day of free tastings and luxury food and drink and is definitely worth a visit if youre staying in the area. It’s a great day on a budget because so many of the tastings are either free or cost just a few dollars – perfect for budget-conscious travelers or backpackers.Perth | A city guide for three days of exploring Perth | Australia

My favourite day in Perth by far was the one I spent walking all over the city exploring – it’s a good city to explore on foot and especially if you’re into fitness like myself. I set myself the challenge of walking as far as possible and took on Jacob’s Ladder – one for the fitness fanatics – as well as walking over 15km across the city and King’s Park then back to my hostel. It was a lovely day to walk in the sunshine and I would recommend exploring the city this way. I also loved my time at the beaches near the city – these were really very beautiful and a strong reminder that Perth’s real charm is outside of the city. Now while Perth may not be my favourite city by far – I really did love my time in Fremantle and traveling up the coast so don’t worry if you’re not a fan – there is a version of Perth to suit all of us.

Have you been to Perth? What was your favourite part? What else did you do when you visited?

Perth | A city guide for three days of exploring Perth | Australia

It’s been over three months since my last post on Absolutely Lucy, the longest break I have ever had from blogging. I needed it, I needed time to live and grow and experience away from the screen. Three months ago I was really struggling, I let myself become overworked and exhausted, I was feeling pretty low about a few things and was starting to question everything. I kept trying to force myself to write but it just wasn’t working. I couldn’t find my flow. So I made an unconscious decision to take a big step back. I quit my job, made travel plans and decided to take some time for myself. Since we last spoke, I have traveled thousands of kilometers by car across Australia with the most unexpected bunch of people, I have explored so much of the country that has been my home for nearly two years and I’ve experienced a dream trip come true. I’ve lived out of a car, walked barefoot through national parks, bathed in icy cold waterfalls and swam with the most incredible deep-sea creatures. I’ve hiked and climbed, I’ve laughed and sang. This road trip truly was the one I’ve been waiting a lifetime for, but more about that at a later date.

Taking this trip without any pressure on myself to document, write or photograph every moment was just what I needed – I did it because I loved it, not to write or force myself to create. Instead of the posed photographs, I have a memory card full of candids of laughing faces and make-up free smiles – it’s full of soul and that is more precious than anything. It’s so easy for me to forget that although I run this blog as a hobby and a passion, I also treat it like a business and work just as hard at it – if not harder – than I do in my job. Travel blogging, or blogging generally, is much harder than you all think. So often I will work a full 9-11 hours, spending my breaks at the gym or running errands, then I’ll head home and spend several hours writing and curating the pieces you read. It’s hard work and so often I will let that get the better of me and push me into exhaustion – it’s silly I know, but I’ll never be one of those girls who settles.Absolutely Lucy is back with a brand new look!I have so much to catch you all up on, but for now I want to focus on this blog makeover. I have spent the last few weeks coding and building a brand new website that I feel reflects the newer, more grown up, Absolutely Lucy. You see, I started this blog over three years ago and a lot has changed in that time – my whole life in fact. My relationships with friends, family and loved ones, my career choices, my lifestyle and travel plans, they couldn’t be more different. When you first met Absolutely Lucy, I was a 24-year-old girl who had just come out of a nine-year relationship and was on the brink of quitting my job in journalism to travel the world. Now, almost four years later, I’m a 27-year-old woman who has been traveling solo for three years across Asia, Australia and Europe, has set up an online business single-handedly, and who has completely fallen for someone amazing who has made her question whether solo travel is for her anymore. That’s a pretty big life change in just four years and while I still have the spirit of the old Absolutely Lucy hidden inside – the girl who just wants to live life to the fullest and experience all the world has to offer – I also have a whole new view on the world.

We all change and grow as we learn more about ourselves and the world around us, so this blog should be no different. Since I started blogging for fun, I have won awards, been commended and mentioned in magazines and online articles, and more recently have worked with some amazing companies including Emirates, Thompson and Durex. This blog should reflect how Absolutely Lucy has grown since that very first blog post and how the writer behind the blog is changing as the years go by. This will still always be the blog for first time or inexperienced travelers seeking an adventure beyond their wildest dreams. I plan travel for every budget and time-scale from weekends away, to festivals and longer holidays, to gap years. Nothing is outside your reach, just as I have achieved so many amazing experiences – so can you, with my help. As the clock ticks down on my final months in Australia and my Eastern adventure comes to an end, it seems right to reinvent Absolutely Lucy to fit with her future plans.

To everyone who has been messaging me to ask where I’ve disappeared to, it’s lovely to have been missed. Absolutely Lucy is back in business and I can’t wait to share my West Coast adventure, and future travel plans, with you all.

Let me know what you think of my blog makeover – what do you love about the new look?

Absolutely Lucy is back with a brand new look!

My parents always treat themselves to a city break in the spring – it’s a perfect time to celebrate both of their birthdays by escaping to Europe to explore some amazing new place. The other year they decided to try out Venice for the first time and came back raving about the maze of canals, the gondola rides and the amazing architecture. They spent their days wandering the city in the sunshine, stopping off regularly to indulge in the local delicacies washed down with endless glasses of wine.  Their glowing recommendations made sure it became a place I have to one day experience for myself to experience the culture and art of this timeless city. It’s definitely on my bucket list, and if you’re planning a trip look no further than this post for tips on the top experiences on offer – and where to book your tickets.

Doge’s Palace & Secret Itineraries Tour

The Venetian Gothic style will captivate visitors to the city, but none quite so much as the Doge’s Palace. One of the city’s main landmarks, the Palace is the main symbol of Venice and although starting out as the home of the Doge, the supreme authority in Venice it was opened as a museum in 1923. Purchasing a ticket to the Doge’s Palace also allows entry to the Correr Museum, the Biblioteca Marciana and the National Archaeological Museum. You can purchase tickets here. 

While exploring the Palace, it is worth checking out the Secret Itineraries Tour which includes the visit of the old rooms where the Serenissima government carried out all important and secret issues related to the administration of the State over the centuries. The tour gives visitors a taste of the political history of the city, Venice organization and justice institutions. You can purchase tickets for this tour here.

Pic by Pedro Szekely

Pic by Pedro Szekely

Venice Museum Pass

If you’re a museum fan, this pass is the one for you. The Venice Museums Pass gives you access to all Civic Venice Museums and the museums in San Marco Square. These include Doge’s Palace, Correr museum, National Aercheological museum, Biblioteca Marciana, Ca’ Rezzonico, Museo del Settecento Veneziano, Carlo Goldoni Home, Palazzo Mocenigo and Centro Studi di Storia del Tessuto e del Costume, Ca’ Pesaro, International Gallery of Modern Art and Museo d’Arte Orientale, the Glass museum, Murano, the Lace museum, Burano, Museum of Natural History. You can purchase this ticket here and it remains valid for six months.

Venice Islands Boat Tour

Fancy getting outside and exploring the city? Why not try the Venice Islands Boat Tour – get to see the city from the canals and visit the most important and famous islands of Venice lagoon, Murano, Burano e il Torcello, by boat. This tour is available every day and at just 22 euros it’s a great way to explore the city. Tickets available here.

Gondola Serenade Tour

Of course a trip to Venice would be nothing without experiencing the magic of a gondola tour, and how better to woo your love than by being serenaded during this beautiful cruise along the canals? This is a fascinating tour along Canl Grande and smaller, hidden channels which gives visitors a chance to experience this unique city from an unsual point of view with a background serenade. Pick up your tickets here.

Pic by Pedro Szekely

Pic by Pedro Szekely

Venice Walking Tour

For those who prefer to stay on dry land and explore on foot, the Venice Walking Tour could be the perfect way to explore the city. Last around 80 minutes, the tour takes in a wealth of sights and monuments with a guide to tell you all about them. The tour starts from St. Mark’s Square giving you a description of the history of the main monuments including St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace,the Campanile, the Clock Tower and the Procuratie. The tour will then head to one of the most popular squares in Venice, S. Maria Formosa, before exploring Marco Polo’s house and Malibran Theatre, where ancient and recent history meet Mercerie in this wonderful corner of Venice. Tickets available here. 


If you’re planning a trip to Venice, don’t miss out on the amazing deals available online and don’t forget to book in advance as many of these attractions will get booked out during peak season. Be a smart traveller and skip the queues buy purchasing your tickets ahead of time through Italy Travels. Check out their website here.

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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.18194860_10155463430677573_7720425641940055272_n

What shoes should I pack for my holidays?

Flip Flops

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.

Trainers

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.IMG_2114

Sandals/High Heels

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.image


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.

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Pic by Toni Rodrigo

Italy is high on everyone’s travelling list – whether it’s for the food, the rich culture and history, or the stunning Amalfi coast. There’s something so irresistible about the combination of pizza, gelato, Roman history and beautiful beaches and countryside. I went to Rome as a teenager and toured all the famous sights – the Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Sistine Chapel and many more before eating my way through the city then moving on to tour the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. It was an amazing trip and one I’ve never forgotten, and although sadly I haven’t yet had the chance to return to this beautiful country it is definitely on the list. Ever since reading Under The Tuscan Sun, I’ve always loved the idea of summering in Tuscany and experiencing all the tastes, sights and sounds described in the narrative. While I may not be getting the opportunity to experience all Tuscany and the wonderful city of Florence has to offer, if you are planning a trip look no further than this post for tips on visiting the best museums and galleries on offer – and where to book your tickets.

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Pic by Gareth Williams

Uffizi Gallery

An absolute must-see when you visit Florence, the Uffizi Gallery is a highlight of this historical city. The unique museum, which was originally constructed in 1560 as a palace for Florentine magistrates, now hosts a huge range of masterpieces. Creating an area to home the art collections of the Medici family, the areas later grew to host masterpieces commissioned by Medici which became what visitors will see today. As one of the world’s most prominent art museums, it provides a home for some of the most important art pieces of the Renaissance including works by Leonardo da Vinci. Other famous works you can spot among the displays include Botticelli’s Primavera and Birth of Venus, and works by the likes of Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Michelangelo.

As visitors plan to make their way through the labyrinth of rooms, they should be aware that this is one of the most-visited museums in the whole of Italy, welcoming over 1.5million visitors each year. This many people does create lines with weekends, Tuesdays and mornings being the busiest times – buy your tickets ahead of time to skip the queues.

Accademia Gallery

Traveler’s simply cannot visit Florence without taking the opportunity to view one of the most famous statues in the world – Michelangelo’s David. The Academia Gallery, an 18th century museum founded by Grand Duke Peter Leopold, was chosen as the new home for the statue in 1873 after it was moved from its original location on the Signoria square. Expressing the genius of the young artist, the statue is known as a symbol of the free Florentine republic of the beginning of the Cinquecento. Later more statues by Michelangelo have been displayed in the same room, transforming in this way the Gallery into a Michelangelo museum: the four unfinished Prisoners, destined to the tomb of Pope Julius II, and never sent to Rome, the unfinished Saint Matthew and the Pietà of Palestrina, attributed to mature Michelangelo. Book skip the line tickets here.30303775721_cf2343537f_z

Palitine and Modern Art Gallery

This extraordinary collection is housed in the winter apartments of the Medici, on the first floor of the Pitti Palace, and features masterpieces of famous artists of the Baroque and Renaissance period. Visitors can see works by the likes of Raffaello, Tiziano, Rubens, Van Dijk, hanging from the walls creating an overwhelming and magnificent effect completed by the luxurious furnishing. In the Modern Art Gallery, a collection founded after the First World War displays the development of Italian art between 1745 and 1945. The heart of the Gallery displays the collection of small pictures, masterpieces by the Macchiaioli, Fattori, Lega, Borrani the revolutionary young artists who used to gather in Florence around the mid 19th century. Book skip the line tickets here.

Bargello Museum

The medieval palace was once where the chief of the military police resided, but it was restored in the second half of the 19th century and became a museum of Renaissance statuary and of minor arts. The museum holds a collection of statues, starting from Quattrocento artworks by Donatello, Ghiberti Luca della Robbia, includes masterpieces by Michelangelo, as the Bacchus and the Brutus, and reaches the end of the 16th century, with Cellini and Giambologna. Also on display are a range of precious items including the outstanding collection of ivories, the Renaissance maiolica from Urbino, jewellery and objects decorated in enamel. Book skip the line tickets here.

Pic by Erik Drost

Pic by Erik Drost


All of the museums offer a range of tours, talks, joint tickets and bookings for larger parties hoping to visit during their stay in Florence. With each of the museums welcoming such a large volume of visitors each year, it is best to book tickets in advance to avoid wasting your trip in queues. All tickets for tours, talks, entrance and more can be found here – book skip the line tickets for museums in Florence.

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Today marks the start of a brand new adventure. Yesterday, I sat in my apartment attempting to squeeze my life into my backpack and felt like I was standing on the edge of a precipice about to jump. Oh god how I’ve missed that feeling. I’ve missed the feeling of freedom and excitement at picking up and starting again somewhere new and different. I’ve been back in Melbourne for five months after living here for five months last year – don’t get me wrong, Melbourne has turned into a home from home for me and remains one of my absolute favourite places in the world. But when you know it’s time to go, it’s time to go.

Living in the city, both times, has been a real challenge with surreal highs and some crazy lows that have left me questioning everything. Every time I come here, I seem to end up in jobs that push me to the very end of my tether and while I’ve loved my cocktail waitress gig and have had an amazing time working on a rooftop bar all summer – I am more than ready to move on and get back to traveller life. This last few months have been both amazing and exhausting – I’ve worked too much in my goal to save as much money as possible and I’ve had to sacrifice my writing due to lack of time and routine. But at the same time, I’ve made some amazing new friends and I’ve had some pretty special adventures in this city and beyond. I don’t regret a single second of it, but I know that out there a healthier and happier life is waiting for me, so I think it’s about time I went and found it.

This past week has been a flurry of goodbyes and leaving drinks, after living here for a total of ten months I’ve picked up a pretty special crowd along the way. I want to say a huge thank you to every single person, who no matter how short a time we spent together, really made my Melbourne experience. Now I plan to finish my time here with a bang, tonight I’m heading to a pretty incredible house I’ve rented with my friends for a joint-birthday celebration along Great Ocean Road. We’ll be spending the weekend there and, just as it should be, I’ll be finishing my time in Melbourne with the people who mean the most to me. Follow me on Instagram and check out my InstaStories for all the live updates.image

So what’s next for Absolutely Lucy?

On Monday I’ll be flying to Adelaide, where I’ll be catching up with an old friend and checking out the city for a week. I’m definitely going to need a chilled week after this hectic last few weeks in Melbourne! Then I’m heading to Perth, where I’m hoping to find some road trip buddies to start heading up the West Coast with – it’s been a dream trip for a long time and I’m so excited to be on the road again. I can’t wait for the sunshine and beaches after this last week of rain in Melbourne, get me tanned, fit and healthy again. I’ve slipped into so many bad habits lately, not sleeping enough, barely eating and drinking way too much – hospo life has definitely got the better of me – so now I’m looking forward to taking care of myself for a while.

I’m excited to get back to blogging and to be able to focus on my passion for a while instead of working the same repetitive job and having the same conversations over and over again. Being a waitress in the bar was fun but I’m so much more than that and I can’t wait to pursue the things I really love, to have the time and the energy to be creative again. I’ll miss my big city life, my cute little apartment all to myself with a gym downstairs, my local coffee shop and bars where the staff remember my orders, my work crew and how much they cared about each other. I’ll miss the families I found in my neighbours, my work crew and my besties I’ve met all over Australia. Melbourne is an incredible city but it is always the people who make the place and I’ve been lucky enough to meet some amazing characters who I already can’t wait to see again. Next week I’ll have lots more to share with you all – trust me I have a lot of adventures to catch you all up on! But for now Melbourne, over and out.16683867_10154214948757617_1195632386496349610_n

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