Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Travel Tips

As an avid traveller I thought it was time for me to share some of my top tips for travelling and also some helpful reminders on what to pack! This isn't going to be a beauty related post (sorry for that) but I think it's just as useful and a great post to bookmark if you are a traveller. The holiday season is here and many of you might get that itch to travel or have guests coming to you, so there's always a chance these tips will help you out in times of need. I've been blessed with many chances to trot the globe and so wanted to share what has helped me and also things I've regretted or loved buying. 

Here are my tips for travelling and tips to save those extra pennies so you can spend them on things you actually want.

So let the countdown begin...

10. Plan early and buy your tickets as early as possible.

It seems easy enough but not always doable as some of us are last minute planners and decide that we want to travel a few days before. Although prices are usually cheaper during off seasons and it's best to buy early - there are some tips if you cannot plan early and need to buy last minute. Delete those cookies from your web browser and avoid typing in phrases like "last minute travel deals", "cheap tickets to...". What you'll end up with are overly priced ticket prices and not much of a good deal at all. So the best thing to do is browse in "incognito mode" on your web browser and simply delete those cookies. Some websites that I've had luck with include: kayak.com, cheapoair.com and flightnetwork.com.

Another great trick is to search for airline tickets at night! This is a well kept secret and also something that I personally learned from a travel agent. Most ticket prices drop in the evenings and late at night, so if you're a night owl like me, this is the best time to search.

Always make sure if you are buying online that the travel agency has an actual physical address and is TICO approved! I cannot stress this enough, as some people (including me) have had the displeasure of getting their tickets cancelled at the last minute because of overbooking. If the website looks shady and is filled with advertisements and bad reviews or no reviews... it's best to avoid it!

9. Electronic equipment - portable chargers, phone chargers, laptop chargers, etc.

We all love our electronics and many of us couldn't imagine a trip without our laptop or cellphone. So just make sure to take the appropriate charging gear along with it. Another great tool for those of us who really love to drain our cell's battery is to get a portable charger that you can charge up ahead of time and use in case of emergencies. Sometimes you can't find a plug near your airport gate or sometimes your airplane doesn't offer phone charging so a portable charger can really help.

In line with cellphones and chargers is also to think about how you will stay connected with friends and family while you are gone. If you have an unlocked cellphone - you can purchase a sim card from that country and use it temporarily with a cheap plan to stay in touch. If you don't have an unlocked phone but want one, look into taking an older cellphone to a wireless phone service that provides unlocking services and keep that always as a travel phone. I have a blackberry that I always keep on the side for travel.

Most places also have wifi now in major tourist areas and so you can use applications like whatsapp to keep in touch and send photos or voice messages. 

Another great website for Canadians who travel to the US is roammobility.com. They offer great packages that you can purchase, some including data and it's relatively inexpensive. You get a US phone number and you can purchase a plan depending on where you are going! Remember this is only good for US travel. 

8. Layers help!

How many times have you sat in an airplane and felt quite cold? I know I have and sometimes if you aren't dressed warm enough, it can make those hours on the plane quite long and unbearable. So layer up - it's definitely easy to take off those extra layers rather than shiver in your seat. I always stash some comfy socks in my handbag/carry on which helps. Also grab a light throw or a comfy sweater/hoodie that you can use as a blanket if it's chilly in there. 

7. Dress comfortably!

Even if you are getting off for a wedding or a business meeting... please wear comfortable clothing and shoes! Save the 4 inch heels for when you get off the plane. Not only will it make going through security less of a hassle but your feet will also thank you in the long run. Also in terms of clothing - I'm not saying dress like a bum, but dress casually and keep it light and airy. Long flights can have a lot of people on board and the stale air circulating can really be uncomfortable and add to that tight clothes and it's not so fun. Some great outfit ideas are a flowy dress/maxi dress, or some comfortable leggings with a long sweater/shirt. Top that off with cute flats and you're good to go! If it's winter season - you can opt for comfortable boots. I would avoid anything with crazy straps/buckles and endless amounts of laces because once again - there's security to get through and also comfort is key.

6. Know what you need and what you don't!

If you aren't much of a reader but decide that a plane ride will change that - trust me when I say it won't. So leave that bulky novel at home and opt for some light reading material that might actually peak your interest like a magazine or crossword puzzle. Extra bulky material can just add to your carry-on/handbag and if it's not really needed then what's the point of the extra weight? If you know you love your snacks and get hungry on planes or have a long trip, pack some snacks (remember liquids aren't allowed from home, neither are fruits for some flights). You can buy some snacks after security as well from duty free shops or if you have pre-packed snacks those can come in handy as well, just make sure you know the airline's rules for that. 

We all love when airlines play movies on board but hate the extra charge for headphones, so bring your own! Also, in regards to this, if you love to sleep or have a red-eye flight, definitely bring your headphones for extra noise reduction - noise cancelling headphones are a great investment or something you can bring along if you already have them!

In line with this are any other extra comfortable items you might need - you heard of neck pillows right? Well why not if you love to sleep on board or just need something to help you out to avoid a stiff neck. You can also bring along a small pillow (there are even inflatable ones now!). 

5. Food

We all love to eat but the best measure when it comes to flying is not to overindulge. Remember you aren't really moving around and if it's a long flight it can get very uncomfortable just sitting there and eating multiple meals on end. The best course of action is to have a light meal before your flight and just snack on airplane food throughout the flight. Don't pig out! You'll get bloated and uncomfortable real fast. Avoid sodas and alcohol based drinks and keep it simple with water. 

4. Know where you are sitting.

If you have a shy bladder, it might be a good idea to take an aisle seat and if you hardly get up then take a window seat. Just remember to be courteous to those around you and if you are someone (like me) who needs to use the washroom at least once or twice during a flight, then try to get a seat closer to the washroom and also an aisle for best comfort. 

Also in terms of courtesy, don't talk your neighbours head off if they aren't the talking type and don't be rude if your neighbour is a talker. Same goes with turning the overhead lights on and off and controlling the AC over you. 

3. Pack some medication, just in case... and get your shots prior to travel!

We all try our best not to get sick during our vacation, but sometimes it can happen no matter how cautious we are. Get your shots before your trip, make sure you let your doctor know where you are travelling to! Some developing countries require that you get certain injections so be on top of that. Also take some medication with you just in case you are in need. Things like pepto-bismol, advil, gravol and a small first aid kit are good ideas and must haves for travelling. Even if you are going to visit family and they'll most likely have it, it's better to be prepared.

2. Money & spending

If you need to convert money for where you are travelling - do it earlier rather than later. Banks usually have good rates compared to the guy working at a kiosk at the airport. So avoid last minute currency conversion. Also opt for small dollar bills - which banks can do for you, rather than carrying large amounts (like 100 dollar bills) in your pocket. Also be safe with money, don't carry too much and know the area you are going and if it's safe to have that much with you. For developing countries and places where pickpockets are a problem - keep the money in various locations and also keep it underneath your clothing. Avoid having it somewhere like you wouldn't notice if it were gone - like a backpack.  Another option is to take your credit card or debit with you and just withdraw cash as needed from local ATM machines. Just be sure to call your bank in advance and let them know exactly where you will be going and when you will return. Just make sure you know how much you will be charged for withdrawal fees and also currency conversion fees. 

Another caution is to avoid withdrawing money late at night from an ATM machine or in places that are quite isolated. Remember to exercise safety and cautious always, no matter where you are going.

1. Re-play your morning routine and pack accordingly

So you've booked your ticket, you have your electronics in hand and now it comes to just making sure you have everything you need. So what's the best way to make sure of this?
Pack your toiletries bag a day before and the morning of your flight - get ready using all of the items you've already packed. If you can do this, then you know you've successfully not forgotten anything and if you say "oops! where is that?!", then you know you need to add it to your bag. Also planning out where you are going and how you will be spending your time during vacation helps you create outfits and what to wear during your trip. If you know you'll be outdoors and will be doing a lot of walking - then it makes sense to pack some comfy sneakers and flats instead of crazy heels or anything where your feet will be screaming by the end of the day.

So I hope this helps and gives you some ideas, I've included below a list of items that I often take with me and just general items that maybe you might want to add to your list! Most importantly while travelling - remember to have fun, take great pictures, make some memories and be safe!

My packing list includes:

- safety pins - just in case of rips or tears
- hats - if I'm going somewhere hot and need to avoid sunburns
- sunscreen - it doesn't matter where I'm going, this is a necessity!
- toilet paper - just a roll or two
- extra batteries for my electronics
- swim wear - again if you are going somewhere warm
- hand sanitizer
- tissues - in case of a runny nose or spills
- pen - filling out customs declaration forms or other information
- electric converter - if you travelling to another country and their electric outlets aren't the same, this will come in handy, most dollar stores sell them !
- headphones - take the ones that are the most comfortable and if you have noise cancelling ones, that might be even better
- ear plugs 
- gum - chewing on gum can help eliminate ear pressure on planes
- eyeglasses/contact lens/contact lens solution - if you wear them! but avoid wearing contact lens on a long plane ride. 
- sunglasses
- any medication you are taking, extra medication to take in case you get sick
- camera - doesn't have to be a DSLR but sometimes cellphone quality pictures just don't cut it.

If you need helpful packing tips and how to actually get everything into your suitcase check out these great websites:




Sunday, 23 November 2014

Makeup must-haves

So if you're like me and you're makeup obsessed... Sit down. Stay awhile...
Because this is a good post!

I've scoured long and hard and made a list of some great finds for makeup lovers out there.

Most of these are available at Sephora, ULTA, and even Ebay and Amazon. 

So without further ado... here goes my personal list of products that I cannot live without!

10. Urban Decay Electric palette

A lot of us shy away from colour when it comes to makeup. We like to keep it light, natural and easy. But when you want to add just a bit of colour, this palette delivers! The colours are pigmented enough that one stroke of the brush (or finger) is enough to get some colour on those lids. Also, if you want to experiment with colour or just want that one palette for now - this is it!

9. Urban Decay Basics NAKED 2

So another Urban Decay product makes it to my list, but can you blame me? This beauty is great for travelling and a great selection of matte eyeshadows. Of course UD always does it right with neutral eye shades and if you are in the mood to splurge, the NAKED eyeshadow ranges with 12 eyeshadows is a great investment, but for me personally, I find the shades in this palette very useable and a great starting out product as well.

8. NYX soft matte lip cream 

For the price these are great matte lippies to have in your handbag. They come in a wide range of colours and I just love the pigmentation of these and also the gorgeous colours. I know some people are iffy about matte lipsticks because they feel it crawls into their lip lines but these are creamy enough and also leave a gorgeous stain throughout the day. The lasting power isn't the greatest BUT the colour payoff and the wide range of colours make up for that in my opinion. NYX is often hard to get your hands on, US has them in most drugstores and in Canada you can find them at select Target stores and also Rexall Pharma Plus. 

7. Too Faced matte bronzer

Want that sculpt model look? If you want to add extra definition to your face or just hide some of that roundness - these bronzers definitely are a must have! I think what I love most about them (despite the yummy chocolate scent) is that they are not shimmery and full of glitter. I love matte bronzers because they don't blatantly say "Hey it's me and I'm wearing a bronzer". 

6. MAC concealer palette

This I actually bought on a whim while I was at a MAC store. I didn't expect to see this or even knew much about it. But now I can honestly say it's one of those products that will last a long time and does a wide range of things. These palettes range from light, medium, medium dark and deep colour ranges. The shades included in each palette range from yellow and peach undertones and I've even found a shade that matches my foundation as well. It's a corrector, concealer and even foundation all in one. A great travel product to have as well or if you are a makeup artist, it's definitely something that is versatile enough to use on multiple clients. 

5. Maybelline Master Precise eyeliner

If you are into cat eyes and love gel liners but don't like the crazy prices - then this drugstore brand is just as good, if not better than some of the high end products I've tried... not to mention it lasts a long time! The consistency is good and it goes on like a dream. I personally swear by this eyeliner when I want to create some dramatic eyes and so far it's done me good.

4. Sephora Universal Lip liner

Another great versatile product alert! This is the holy grail for lipstick lovers out there. Who has the time or money to go out and buy lip liners for the crazy amounts of lipsticks we love to wear? Not me that's for sure... and sometimes the lip liners don't quite match either. This beauty is great - in price, and also in what it does. It goes on invisible but definitely prevents bleeding of your lipstick and if you have thinner lips - a liner can make all the difference in creating that pouty lip! This product is a must-have if you love wearing lipsticks and something that will have you tossing out all those extra lip liners you own!

3. Rimmel London Kohl eyeliner

Love this eyeliner! It's soft and very black. I think Rimmel really gets it when it comes to eyeliners and the best part is it's not crazy pricey. I did try Urban Decay's eyeliners but found that often it was TOO soft and I would lose so much product when I would sharpen the pencil, but with these, they are sturdy enough to not break down when you sharpen them, but soft enough to go on smooth and stay put. And for the price it's definitely my go to product for sexy eyes!

2.  Bobbi Brown BB cream with spf 35

I love this BB cream range, although it isn't as inexpensive compared to drugstore brands - I think it makes up for it in the consistency and how it goes on effortlessly and also looks natural. I love to use this more than foundation or any powder and it does the trick. It comes in a variety of shades so it's also easy to find your correct colour. I think what I love most about this product is that it contains an spf of 35 which is a great addition to prevent premature aging and dark spots. People often underestimate how important sunscreen is and to look for products that contain spf.

1. Marc Jacobs concealer brush

This is my holy grail product right here! I cannot rave enough about this concealer brush and I don't think I've ever raved about a brush in general. This is a MUST HAVE if you use concealer and still haven't found a brush that applies product without taking it away and/or causing streaks that sink into fine lines. Marc Jacobs has managed to create a brush that is compact enough to really get the product on the skin - but soft enough to blend as well. Most Sephora stores that I had popped into to check it out - had the product out of stock, which always is a good sign. I managed to snatch it up online during a sale and I couldn't be more happy. If you are someone who suffers from dark circles like me and sometimes just use a concealer and run out the door - then grab this brush and you won't be disappointed!