Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Has Travel Become Competitive?

I've noticed a bit of a trend recently, and even I've been a victim of it. I don't know whether if it's because I'm involved in the travel blogger community, have uncontrollable wanderlust, or down to something else altogether, but lately, I've felt traveling has got a little bit competitive. Whether it be how many countries you visit in a year, how far you've travelled solo, or where you've stayed, things have turned into a bit of a competition, and I'm not sure if I like it.

Quality or Quantity

I've been thinking about this for a while now, and it think it all comes down to quality or quantity. The way I see it, there are two types of traveller, those who opt for quality, really experiencing the culture of a country and explore what it has to offer, or those who decide they want to visit as many countries as possible in the shortest space of time. There's no right or wrong, it's what you want to do. Being honest? I'm a mixture of the two, as I think most people probably are. I want to travel to as many different countries as I can because I want to take advantage of being able to do so. I am completely fascinated by different cultures and experiences and want to make the most of having a passport. On the other hand, I've taken 3 years exploring USA and a tiny bit of Canada, breaking different areas up into separate trips, but I wouldn't even think about doing this for other countries. Why? Because I organise trips based on what interests me and if everything that I want to see is relatively close to each other I'll try and see it all in a single trip. Makes sense right?

Being from the UK, I'm incredibly lucky in that I have the ability to travel to most countries, and am fortunate I have the opportunity to be able to afford to travel. The World has never really been more accessible, with cheap flights and package deals, travelling has become a norm, especially for twenty-somethings. I was talking to my Dad about this actually before I left for my most recent trip, and he was saying gap years were unheard of when he was younger, and people only really travelled to Europe And when he did travel to Europe he felt like he was the luckiest person alive. Having a quick flick through my Instagram now and I have friends currently in Australia, Japan, Thailand, Chile and South Africa. That's how times have changed; people roam more and further than they have ever been able to. My Dad thinks I'm incredible because I will go travelling alone. He constantly says he wouldn't of been able to do this when he was younger, but then again, it's pretty normal now, this solo traveling malarky.

Still not seeing the competition yet? Don't worry, I'm getting to it.  I've been planning to go to Australia and New Zealand for the longest time, and am now starting to plan a rough trip for in about two years. It was whilst looking at ideas, so I can get a rough idea of how much I need to save, I kept thinking that I need to add other countries to my list. Well, yeah, to be fair, when the time comes I'll probably add 2 other places for a little stop-over to make the travelling a bit more bearable but my trip suddenly turned into this mammoth round-the-world spectacular. How did that happen? Because I looked at other people's gap year itineraries online and their's made mine look a little pathetic for someone who calls themselves a travel blogger. So it grew.

Are Pinterest and Instagram to blame?

I opted for quantity or quality. I tried to budget for a couple of days in each country so I could say I'd been, and then move on to the next. And instead of waiting for a couple of years to save up, I felt the need to do it now, because, well because the world was there waiting. When I stepped back, I had a thought, is this really how I want to travel? Cram everything in, exhaust myself, see a lot but experience nothing? I felt bad because so far I've only been to 'Western' countries and these didn't count as travelling. I thought I had to visit countries with entirely different cultures on the opposite side of the world to be considered to be a serious traveller. And that's the problem. I stopped travelling for me, and stated planning trips that would make people think I was a true adventurer and I guess, impress people.

Yeah, if I'm honest I wanted to impress people with a super fancy list of countries, crammed full of the best hostels, hotels and experiences possible. I wanted to be able to say I've slept in a floating bungalow, I wanted to say I've been blessed by a Buddhist Monk in a hidden temple and I also kinda wanted to have incredible pictures. You know, pictures that prove I've been there and prove I've travelled far and wide. Why? Because that's what everyone else had, and, honestly, I wanted it too, and more. The pictures, not the experiences (although the ones I've said I'd actually love to do). That's the thing. Pictures are supposed to tell a thousand words, but sometimes they don't tell a true thousand. Sometimes the person looks like they have experienced more than they have. If I did that mammoth itinerary, that's what would have happened to me. I'd have had all the pictures, but none of the stories, life experiences and memories. I would have been too busy rushing around to really understand any culture and enjoy my time there. Sounds like my idea of travel hell. Would I have had these wild ideas without seeing amazing pictures on Pinterest and Instagram? I don't think I would have. I think I would have just priced up my original idea and been excited over that. Don't get me wrong, I adore Pinterest and Instagram for travel inspo and you can find ideas you would have never thought of as well as super useful tips, but there is also a dark side. A side that can make you feel not enough if you don't do X Y and Z. I mean did you really do a gap year if you didn't go to Thailand? Yes. Yes you did.

My Travel Philosophy

I might be the only one who thinks travel has become a bit competitive, and to be honest, I'd quite like it if that was the case. I would be so happy if this was just me reading too much into things because that way nobody is sat at home feeling forced to do something they're not comfortable with. I would absolutely hate anyone to feel pressurised to travel to places they have no interest in, a way that isn't them and experience things they really don't want to. At the end of the day, travel is as personal as the person doing it. It's you adventure, do it your way. Don't feel like you have to stay in hostels because that's where 'travellers' stay or travel alone because that's what your supposed to do in your twenties. Don't feel like you have to climb a mountain if you hate the outdoors or have to visit  every continent on Earth. There's no rules to travelling, it's completely your choice where, how and when so make sure the why is for you and not others.

If you made it to the end, I'm impressed. Let me know if you've been a victim of competitive travel before. Have you ever done something just so you can say you've done it? 

xoxo
J
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Sunday, 16 April 2017

Fresh Sugar Lemon SugarBath Cubes

Fresh Sugar Lemon Sugar Bath Cubes Review

I've wanted to try Fresh for the longest time as their skincare is talked about so much. I have got a cleanser, but after having a mooch around Sephora when I was over in the States a couple of years ago, I spotted this. SuagrBath cubes. If that's not a product that has my name on it, I don't know what is. I was actually going to pick that up right there and then, but then felt how heavy it was and decided it wasn't worth paying for extra luggage allowance. Back then, Fresh wasn't available over here, with no UK delivery and no stockists. Now they have a few standalone stores, stockists and UK delivery meaning I finally got my hands on this bath time treat. 

What is a SugarBath?

A combination of Brown Sugar and Bocarbonate Soda, the SugarBath cubes are aromatic bath fizzes. Claiming to moisturise your skin, gently remove dry skin and promote healing, it's clear from the get go these are more than just your standard bath time treat. It couldn't be easier to use, simply pop 2-4 cubes into a bath and watch your problems fizz away. They also come in a choice of two scents, Lemon, which I have, and Lychee.

What did I think of the Sugar Cubes?

Firstly, the packaging. This arrived in the most beautifully wrapped duck-egg blue box. It had bows, it had tissue paper, it fullfilled all my basic needs. The actually packaging of the product wasn't a let down either. Remember when I said it was heavy? The jar is frosted glass, with a kind of speckled, marble-esque top. Oh so instagramable. Then came my disappointment. Totally my fault, I didn't realise you needed 2-4 cubes per bath before buying it, but for the weight of the jar, I thought you would get more product. I have a big bath and, using 4 cubes, I'd probably only manage 4-5 baths from a jar. Not too bad, but I just expected more. Sadly my disappointment just carried on. The inital lemon scent was heavenly. There was no trace of household cleaner, more Summer in Spain. Great, but very short-lived. The fizz lasted a couple of seconds, turning the water slightly cloudy. Whilst my skin felt a little softer, that could have been down to other products. I didn't really experience any of advertised benefits. For £35.00 a jar though, I'm not sure if I'd repurchase it. It was lovely to finally try it, but you can get the same product for a lot cheaper. The scent was hevanly and the packaging is to die for, but I think the amazing packaging made me raise my expectations higher than the product could deliver. Not going to lie, kinda gutted.

Have you ever had high expectations based on packaging? Have you tried anything from Fresh? I'd love to try more of their skincare so any recommendations would be great! 

xoxo
J
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Thursday, 13 April 2017

5 Books in 5 Words: Spring Cleaning Edition

tidying up book reviews
decluttering book reviews

Ever wanted a Pinterest-worthy bedroom? Wanted to live the minimalist life, but just have far to much stuff? Running out of room on the floordrobe? Well, good thing it's Spring and you can have a good clear out. I find it ironic that in order to have a clearout, I get more stuff aka books teaching me how to get rid of things. Logical Jessica. Very logical. 

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo
Minfullness meets tidying the house

The Happy Closet by Annmarie O'Connor
 Best for too many clothes

Start With Your Sock Drawer by Vicky Silverthorn with Emma Cooling
Simple and greater for overwhlemed

The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees
Perfect to find your style

The Capsule Wardrobe by Wendy Mak
Work with what you have

I seriously need a major de-clutter so will be using a combination of these books. What are you top spring cleaning tips? Let me know in the comments below!

xoxo
J
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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

50 Thoughts I Had Getting The Train To London

train to london manchester travel blogger

Oh Manchester Picadilly, you beautiful train station. Don't get me wrong, it's no Grand Central, but it's nice and home, and that's all that matters. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I was on the train to London on my own and decided to keep a track of where my mind wandered.  And being a blogger I decided why not make a post about it, so here's what went on in my head:

  1. I'm going to be late, I'm going to be late, the train is going to leave without me and I'm going to be late.
  2. Oh God, which platform is my train?
  3. OO I wonder if any of these people are bloggers?
  4. Why do they make the platform information so bloody small?
  5. God I hope no-ones watching me squint trying to work out which ones my train.
  6. Tall people should be made to stand at the back. 
  7. Oh, and the board has now changed. Great, thanks for that.
  8. Where was I up to erm right, I think that might be me, let's just go get a drink.
  9. Why is the queue so long? Like seriously? Don't they have any staff?
  10. Oh gosh, what do I want? Why so many choices? What's cool nowadays?
  11. I'm going to be late, I'm going to be late, the train is going to leave without me and I'm going to be late.
  12. Avoid pigeon. Mr pigeon walk away, this is a pigeon free zone.
  13. Move along people, late woman coming through.
  14. Yep, don't mind me, just hurdling over your suitcase. Nothing to see here.
  15. Why is my ticket not scanning? 
  16. For just once in my life I'd like to go through a turnstyle gracefully without nothing getting tangled.
  17. OOO that'll make a good Instagram.
  18. Im late, I'm late, please don't leave me.
  19. Of course I'm the last carrige, it would have to be wouldn't it. 
  20. Now where's my seat. Hmm not me, not me, not me, ooo nice bag, not me, not me, not me, ME! 
  21. What if someone else has this seat and they've double booked us? 
  22. What if this isn't my seat?
  23. You can read, this is your seat, be calm and try to look normal. 
  24. OMG what if this isn't my train. Like seriously, I was in a rush. What if I end up in some random place and get stuck? OMG this isn't my train.
  25. Ok this is my train, someone's just said something about London.
  26. No-one's next to me. Please don't let anyone sit next to me.
  27. Still, this might not be my train, and am I really sure this is my seat?
  28. Wifi please connect. Wifi please be decent.
  29. Oh great, I have a train friend.
  30. They smiled. Do I talk? Do I smile? What do I do?!
  31. Ohh if I smile we might be BFF's and this could be a cool story of how we met on a train.
  32. Train friend please talk!
  33. Actually, don't. That's just weird.
  34. OK they have a book, I'll just do my own thing then.
  35. Mr Train Man has said this is the right train, we're all good. 
  36. OOO that's a new language, wonder where your from? Why come to Manchester? Wonder what there story is? 
  37. Oh Oh we're moving. 
  38. And now my headphones won't go loud enough. Yey. This is going to be fun. 
  39. OK that's lets just look out the window.
  40. Oh, they said get you're tickets out. Better get it out otherwise, well, otherwise.
  41. Wow England is green. Like bright green. Highlighter green. So many shades of green. 50 shades of green.
  42. Is it too early to eat my snack? 
  43. I wonder if I look all dramatic looking out of the window?
  44. Hmm if this was a film, what music would be playing? Snow Patrol? Ed Sheeran? What's the story line?
  45. Where is this ticket guy? I'm sat here holding this ticket and by the time he come's I'll have dropped or lost it.
  46. Wonder where we are?
  47. Why isn't the wifi working? They promised wifi. They lied.
  48. Oo sheep.
  49. And cows.
  50. This is going to be a loooonggg 2 hours.
And then I lost track and attempted to listen to an Emma Gannon podcast. 

Hope you enjoyed this very random, but very insightful post. Let me know the most randomist thing thats happened to you or that you've though on a train so I don't feel like such a unique human being.

xoxo
J
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Sunday, 9 April 2017

5 of the Best Beauty Care Tools

best beauty care tools
must-have makeup tools

Remember when we all used to just use our fingers to apply beauty products? My how times have changed. Now we have beauty tools for everything, some amazing, some ok, and some just not worth it. Today I'm going to be sharing 5 beauty care tools I just can't live without, ranging from high-end to bargain bucket. 

Swoon Lip Gloss Pick-up Artist for Sephora

You know when you have found a go-to lip gloss and all that's left is a bit at the bottom that the wand just wont reach, but it's two weeks until payday and you've spent all your money on Boots 3 for 2 offers (happens to us all)? What do you do? Why do they make lip gloss wands that short too? It's just mean. Anyway, never fear, this little tool lets you get that last bit of makeup out of the tube. As the name suggest, this is from Sephora so not readily available in the UK, but for $12, this little-known device is a complete gem. 

Shu Uemura Eyelash Curlers

Don't ask me to pronounce the surname, but these eyelash curlers are the real deal. I think everyone and their dog has raved about these, and there is a good reason, they're the best. They're not cheap at £20, but you do get a spare pad and can buy the refills, so could save you money if you look after them and don't crush them in your suitcase (oops). Even though my lashes have a natural curl, no other lash curler can give me the effect these do, and so gently! 

Nars Yachiyo Kabuki Brush

Ah another product I can't pronounce. Before I bought it, I researched this brush more than I researched my first car. I read reviews, I watched tutorials, if it featured this brush, I was there. Why? Because it's the most expensive brush I have ever bought. At £43.00, it kind of hurt me to buy it, and even now, saying how much I paid makes me grimace just a little, but is it worth it? Oh yes. For blending any powder product, it's the brush of dreams. If you want to achieve highlighter goals, this will give you the perfect application. Worth the investment, pop it on a wish list or wait until an amazing Gift With Purchase comes along

Nail Shields

After a couple of big spends you're all probably ready for something cheap and cheerful. At £1.99, I couldn't really complain if this didn't stop my nail polish from smudging, but amazingly, it did. The name says it all, these simply clip onto your nails and act as a guard against the outside world so you can get on with real life whilst waiting for your varnish to dry. The best £1.99 beauty product ever. 

Becca The One Perfecting Brush

I actually didn't realise how much this cost until I looked it up for post purposes. I clearly have some sort of makeup brush problem. Anyway, at £40, this thing is not cheap. But, let me tell you why it's worth it. The edge has been designed to fit the contour of your face, giving you perfect definition. It's also super versatile meaning you could use it for practically anything. In fact, Becca says this can replace the following 10 brushes: foundation, powder, contour, bronzer, stipple, blush, fan, concealer, kabuki and sponge. 10 brushes for £40, doesn't sound too bad now does it?!

So those are 5 of my must-have beauty tools but now I want to know what are you go-to's?

xoxo
J
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Thursday, 6 April 2017

Why I'm Not A Niche Blogger

Why I Don't Niche Blog

Read any guide on blogging and they will talk about focusing your blogging on a specific area. In fact, some even go as far as to say you have to blog in a niche area to be successful. See, here's the thing, I don't buy that.

Some of my favourite 'big' bloggers aren't niche

Sure, they might talk about niche topics, but they talk about a couple instead of just one. Take the lovely Hannah Gale for example, she's there rocking travel, fashion, lifestyle and beauty. I talk about the same categories and have no plans to niche blog anytime soon. OK, so I do read some niche blogs. I can't get enough of Where's Mollie's adventures and Pages by Megan and What Olivia Did gives me serious wardrobe envy, but even they stray from their niche now and again. So do you have to be niche to be successful? I think not

Success = genuine and authentic content 

Of course I understand the idea that if you blog about a single topic, you are more likely to become recognised in that area, and therefore become 'big and successful', but I think that could just as easily happen if you blog about multiple topics well enough. The trick is to make sure your content is genuine and authentic to you; two things that apply to niche and a-bit-of-everything bloggers alike. 

Take me for example, since developing uncontrollable wanderlust I've decided to up my Travel posts from once a fortnight to once a week. That's not because I think I'll be more successful as a travel blogger or I want to be a niche, that's purely because that's the type of content that interests me and I enjoy. For me, travel is as much apart of me as buying bags and bath bombs is. I don't have just one single love, there's a lot of different parts to me, and seeing as this is my creative space, I want to share all of those things.

The same could easily be said for a niche blogger. If you are incredibly passionate about a single area, say food for example (I'm hungry, don't judge), and you blog purely about food, that's you being genuine and authentic. What isn't going to help you be successful is trying to fit into a niche that your not completely in love with,  all because it's 'on trend'. It's also really sad if you want to blog about something but don't because you don't think will be a hit. If you care about it, share it. I love reading about something a bit different and your passion will shine through. Life would be pretty boring if we were all the same. Success is a long-term goal. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to achieve it and if a topic isn't up your street, it's going to show. 

Success depends on what you think 'successful' is

A very deep question, but kinda relevant. What is success? I'm not going to bore you with stats because the whole caring about analytics is a topic in itself, but it's really important for bloggers to define what they deem success as. When I write something that I'm really happy with, that I think shows my personality, and is just 'me', then any comments or praise I get is worth so much more than if I got praise on something that wasn't a reflection of me at all. I read a few blogs that have had a complete topic change since I started reading them, some changing to things I'm not into, but I keep reading it because I love the blogger, their passion and writing style. To me that is success; when people read posts because you wrote them. I swear there is a famous quote about this, but I'd much rather be unpopular for being myself, than popular for being someone I'm not. I'm a wanderer, a beauty-obsessive, a bag-hoarder, a people-watcher and probably a million other things. I can't seperate those things from me, because they make me, me. If people keep coming back for more knowing all that, I'm a happy girl.

So after all this waffle, what I'm trying to say is just blog what you want. If you love something blog it, be it one topic or multiple. Forget the need to be successful, just do you. I hear too many people putting limits on themselves or blogging about things they think will be popular, even if it doesn't float their boat. Don't do that, just be you and the rest will follow. 

Following with that theme, tell me about YOU; what do you love, what are passionate about, what defines you? Very deep but I'd love to know!

xoxo
J
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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

What's In My Hand Luggage? New York Edition

What's in my carry on
What's in my carry on
What's in my carry on
What's in my carry on

By the time this post goes live I'll hopefully be thousands of feet in the air on my way to New York to begin my latest adventure. If you missed me going through my travel plans for this year, you can catch up here. This will be my 3rd Trek America tour, and my first time in Canada and NYC so I'm so excited for what the next two weeks have in store. I've scheduled lots of great posts for you all while I'm away, but today I thought I'd share some of the things I'm taking with me in my hand luggage (or carry on if that's how you roll).

The bag I'm using is the Cath Kidston Foldaway Double Decker Travel Bag in a cute vintage floral print. Unfortunately, I picked this up in the Boxing Day Sales this year so they don't do the same print, but they still do the style. So far I'd really recommend this bag. It's so darn roomy, folds to nothing in a handy pouch, and is just perfect for travel. 

Moving on to some essentials, I have my document wallet, and my a document file. I only really do this super level of organisation if I have a lot of paperwork, tickets, visas etc to take with me. I use my cute travel wallet from House of Disaster for documents I need for traveling, so tickets, boarding pass, passports etc. I then use the document file, which is like a presentation book with built-in clear pockets, to keep any documents I'll need throughout my stay, like trip tickets, hotel confirmations, itineraries, street maps etc. It's a great way to be able to find a specific piece of paper in a second, but if you only have travel documents, it's not necessary. Of course, I also have a hardback notebook for making travel notes and jotting down blog ideas, and I bring all the pens possible, because when doesn't a pen come in handy?

Next, I have all my electricals (minus my camera, but let's just pretend that's there). I always take my old iPhone 5c with me on trips and pop in an international sim so I can contact anyone, at any time. An international sim might seem a bit extra, but it really comes in handy in emergencies, and being a solo female traveler, I'd prefer to be prepared. I also make sure I've put as many songs on there as possible so I can use it as an iPod and don't have to rely on wifi. Oh, and headphones are a must. I used to take big over the ear ones, and whilst the quality is better, they get in the way a bit if you travel from place to place every couple of days. I tend to alternate between taking a paperback, and taking my Kindle but have found a Kindle is just easier to read on the go, takes up less space, and gives me more options.

Being a girl, I do take a little make-up bag but never bother with actually wearing any make-up on travel days because it's just more effort than it's worth. A Tangle Teezer (Lulu Guinness edition obvs), a mirror and lip balm are all I need to get my through. I sometimes take hand cream and some skincare, but being honest, never use them, so I've learned to just not pack them. 

Add in medication, my purse, and glasses and that's pretty much it. A bit of a boring what's in my bag, but I only like to carry things I'll actually use when traveling. 

I'm not sure how much access I'll have to wifi but if I manage to post I'll be using the hashtag #WingsWanders so make sure you check that out too! Thanks to a twitter poll I'm also attempting to vlog my entire trip, so if you want to see how that works out, stick around.

What are your travel essentials? Let me know in the comments below!
xoxo
J
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Sunday, 2 April 2017

The Perfect Spring Scent || Moschino Fresh Couture Review

Moschino Fresh Couture Perfume review
When you say Spring to me, 2 things come to mind: cleaning and scents. Somehow, Moschino has combined both in one product to make the most Spring-appropriate fragrance I've ever seen. Look's like window cleaner, smells like a dream, Moschino, well done.

Packaging

I don't think it's possible to talk about a Moschino product without discussing the packaging. A quirky, celeb-favourite Moschino always has the most unique product concepts and collections and this does not disappointment. Apparently, the idea was to take something that people wouldn't think twice about and transform it into something inspirational. I can't tell you if that's worked, but what I can tell you is it works. Like a little miniature bottle of household cleaner, even the back of the label has been edited with warnings and product claims. I'm a little gutted you can't "spray" your fragrance on you, with the head removing to show a conventional spray underneath, but overall it's a great design and really stands out. 

Fragrance

Sometimes bottles are better than the actual fragrance, but not in this case. It's the perfect fresh fragrance with a subtle fruity twist. With Bergamot, Mandarin and Raspberry as top notes, Osmanthus, Peony and Ylang-Ylang as the heart notes, and Cedarwood, Patchouli and Ambrox as the base notes it's well balanced and super light. This is ideal if your not a fan of purely fresh or fruity perfume as neither quality is the focus, just a great blend, and a perfect spring scent.

I don't think I've ever received as many compliments about my perfume as when I'm wearing this. Have you tried any Moschino fragrances? What do you think of the packaging? 

xoxo
J

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