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It’s no secret that I love to travel.

I do, I just love it. Whether that is jetting over on the other side of the world to Hong Kong or hopping over to Paris for the day, I honestly feel like I have learnt so much over the years about the art of having a (mostly) smooth and relatively chilled journey.

Like everyone else, I always start off my travels by packing, and I did write a similar post on my previous blog about this topic but I wanted to do a new and refreshed version about what to pack / what is in my handbag when I travel.

It’s a lot easier when you are travelling on a long-haul flight as you can take hand luggage as well and you don’t have to worry about liquids as much, but on short-haul flights I often don’t pay for a larger suitcase and just take all of my essentials in a smaller suitcase.

I do find packing my handbag can sometimes be the most difficult job! This isn’t just what to take with you to the airport but also what to have in your bag whilst you’re travelling around the city you’re going to.

1) Passport & Tickets.

You’re not going to get very far without your passport & tickets. These are the first things I pack and I make sure that they are in a zip pocket or somewhere easily accessible. The last thing you want to do is to be fumbling around at the airport trying to find your passport! I’ve been there & done that – not fun! I also carry my passport around with me when I’m abroad, I know some people don’t like to do that but I never feel comfortable leaving it in a hotel. I also have a super cute passport case from Aspinall that I received for my birthday 🙂

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2) A Book/Kindle.

I got a Kindle for Christmas and I have been loving it. I much prefer a real book because its just nicer, but I’m such a fast reader that one book would be finished in a few days (or hours, depending on how bored I am!), and I can’t carry around 3/4 books so a Kindle is perfect for me. The battery is amazing too, I used to use iBooks but as we all know the battery on iPhones are rubbish!

3) Chargers.

Speaking of batteries, they are not the most reliable, especially iPhones so I take my chargers with me so that I can charge them on the planes, or thinking in a worst case scenario, you can charge your phone / electricals if your luggage gets lost! I also take a battery pack with me because more often than not all the plug sockets in the airport are busy!

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4) Headphones.

There’s nothing better than losing yourself in a world of music, especially when you’re either flying or waiting for your flight, which is why I always pack my headphones with me. It also helps when you don’t want to talk to the person sitting next to you!

5) Comfy Trousers + Socks + Hoodie.

Basically my go-to travel outfit! I hate sleeping / sitting in one seat for hours wearing a smart outfit or jeans. I always take either a pair of leggings or comfy trousers on a flight with me so that I can actually sleep and not feel horribly uncomfortable. Flight socks are also a must, nothing worse than cold feet on a flight! And imagine going into the bathroom with no socks on.. Ewww!

I am always freezing when I fly so having a hoodie with me is always a must. Take your cosiest one with you, because you never know when you’re going to need it! Depending on how big your handbag is, this may not be ideal but you can always tie it around your waist or throw it over your shoulders if you want to look really cool.

6) Contact Lenses / Glasses.

I know not everyone wears contact lenses / glasses but for anyone who does, it’s an absolute must to bring your glasses case and contact lense case! It might sound obvious but I have forgotten them a few times and I’ve had to stay awake to try avoid sleeping with my contact lenses in.

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7) Lipbalm + Hand Cream.

My skin can get super dry when I’m flying so I always keep my Aloe Lips in my handbag because it’s so hydrating for my lips and you can also dab a bit underneath your eyes to keep them looking fresh. I’ve written a blog post all about the Aloe Lips here, so you can read all about it! Having a hand cream in my handbag is an absolute must, I always feel so much for having hydrated hands!

8) Purse.

Kind of an obvious one but I always take a condensed version of my purse with me when I go away, because realistically you’re not going to need your Costa card or your Tesco Clubcard when you’re exploring a new country are you? I take a card-holder that has my credit card, spare cash and my driving licence if I don’t bring my passport in case I need some ID.

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9) Wipes.

You never know when these will come in handy, and at the risk of sounding like my grandma (the wisest of owls), you should always be prepared for the worst. Especially true when you’re travelling to the unknown!

10) Mini Perfume / Deodorant.

As much as I enjoy flying, I’m always conscious of feeling sticky or smelly and its just not a nice feeling. That’s why I always keep a mini perfume or deodorant in my handbag for before you land in your destination. I usually stock up in Boots at the airport (3 for 2 anyone?) – so handy!

11) Hand Sanitiser.

I always have this in my bag regardless of whether I’m flying or not, I think I just love the scent of mine so much! I don’t use it every two seconds or anything, I’m not one of those people, but I do think it’s handy especially when on a plane or airport because its a public place and therefore can be extremely unhygienic.

12) Camera.

I know not everyone owns a camera, as most people use their phones these days (myself included), but when I’m going abroad on holiday especially, I do like to take my camera with me. You never know when it will come in handy and I love taking candid pictures of my family and scenic photos for my blog.

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13) Chewing Gum.

Again, just for freshness and feeling comfortable, I would definitely keep a pack of chewing gum in my bag. You might not even use it as I used the toothbrush and toothpaste instead after I slept for a few hours, but its just in case!

14) Blister Pack / Plasters.

For me, this is more for when you are walking around when you’re abroad, because I’m a big walker and I try and avoid taxis if I can because I think it’s so much nicer to see the local sights when you’re walking around. And if you happen to be wearing shoes that irritate your feet / toes then it’s nice to have some sort of blister pack or plasters. Also, plasters could be used for any minor scrapes or cuts that may happen (it’s always good to be prepared).

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15) Paracetamol.

Lol this is such a motherly thing to have in your bag but yes I do carry this around. If you know me personally then you’ll know I rarely take medication so if I ever do take paracetamol for any reason then you know it’s serious! I think I carry these around for others because I’m so nice *angel face* 🙂

There is nothing worse than feeling or getting sick when you’re on holidays. That’s where YourLegalFriend.com* comes in. They have over 30 years of experience in the legal industry and are specialise in accidents and illnesses abroad. They aim to ensure their clients receive compensation for any kind of distressing holiday experiences that could have serious repercussions for their health. Although there is a stigma attached to pursuing a claim, Your Legal Friend don’t want people who have genuinely suffered holiday illnesses to miss out on what they are entitled to because of a minority.

Claiming for illness while on holiday is covered by something called:

‘The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations Act’

which means if something you’ve paid for is not as expected, fails to meet standards or causes you illness or injury while on holiday, you can make a claim. Food borne illnesses are covered by this only if you paid for an all-inclusive holiday package where you never ate outside of your hotel.

To make a claim the person should have:

  • Had an illness that lasted at least 5 days
  • Had an illness that started at least 48 hours after arrival
  • Had an illness that started within 72 hours of returning home
  • Booked their holiday package through a UK tour operator
  • Evidence a complaint was made to the tour operator or hotel while on holiday
  • Evidence of any medical advice or treatments you purchased while away

 So that is it for my travel handbag essentials! I hope you enjoyed reading this post and hopefully I have given you some ideas of things to put in your handbag when you travel. Let me know if I’ve missed anything out in the comments below and hopefully you can refer back to this post when you pack for your next trip!

 *This post was kindly sponsored by Your Legal Friend but as always, all opinions are my own! Read my disclaimer here to see how I work with brands.

mexico

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If you follow me on Instagram, then you will know that I recently visited the gorgeous Cancun in Mexico. I say recently, it was actually around a month ago and it’s taken me a while to decide whether I wanted to write this post or not. I love writing about my travel experiences and sharing pictures of the places I’ve visited, but every once in a while I start questioning how much of my life I want to share on the Internet. Perhaps this is a subject for another time, and please let me know if you want me to write something about it, but in the end I decided the holiday and hotel were most definitely worth sharing.

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I flew from London Heathrow to Cancun to stay for a week at the infamous Moon Palace Resorts, Cancun. I don’t even know where to begin to be perfectly honest. This hotel is on a completely different level. Not to sound like I’m showing off, but I have stayed in a fair few 5* hotels, and this just blew everything out of the water. The flight was around 9 hours and it went fairly quickly (mostly because I slept through it haha).

We booked to travel to and from the airport with the company we booked with, and once we arrived at the hotel, check-in was super easy, nothing is ever too much which really sets apart this hotel from the rest. The actual resort is separated into three different hotels: Nizuc, Sunrise and the Grand. We were staying in the Nizuc which is located in the middle, but all three hotels are easily accessible through either walking, shuttle buses or golf carts.

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Our room was incredible. I really wish I had taken more pictures before settling in, but the only thing I didn’t like was that it was on the ground floor. I’m not sure why but it just wouldn’t have been my first choice. However, the room more than made up for that. We had a freakin’ hot-tub/jacuzzi in the middle of the room! Alongside a king-size bed, a huge rainfall shower, a fully-stocked minibar, a plasma TV – really what was there to complain about?!

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Staying there for a week, I was so worried that we wouldn’t be able to do everything. There are literally so many things to and so many places to eat that I would fully recommend at least two weeks here! Because you can freely use the 14 restaurants at the other two parts of the resort, there is so much to choose from! Our favourites were the JC Steakhouse and Momo – although booking Momo was probably the only thing I didn’t like. The staff didn’t know how to communicate the way to book it. Every other restaurant was easily booked through reception, but with Momo you had to go to Sunrise on the day you wanted to eat there at 4pm, and then book it. Most people started queuing from 3.30pm because once they booked all the tables up, there was no chance of eating there that evening. I only found out through blog posts like these and TripAdvisor reviews! Also if you love sushi and Japanese food then you may be tempted to visit the Jade restaurant in the Grand but the food at Momo was so much better, definitely worth the 4pm queue!

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In terms of activities, there is a golf course on the resort, as well as a spa, bowling alley, two nightclubs, a teen lounge (so cool by the way – there are loads of arcade games and pool tables and games to play!), not including the entertainment staff who play games and have planned activities around the pool and then shows in the evening.

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You also get to use resort credits whilst staying here, it was the first time I’d ever experienced something like this so I asked a million questions to our travel rep about it. Basically the hotel gives you a certain amount of ‘money’ that you can use on various activities around the resort and you just have to pay tax so it actually works out pretty well if you want to use the spa or play golf.

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As much as we didn’t want to, we did leave the resort a few times. We wanted to visit the Chichen Itza because it’s a famous landmark and that took the whole day. We decided to book through our travel reps instead of the hotel, as we thought that it was a better deal. It was a whole day out, with the coach picking us up at 8.30am, driving to the cenote Ik Kil (a natural sinkhole that you can swim in, with waterfalls) which was incredible. We stopped off for some lunch there as well, and then made our way over to the Chichen Itza. It was super hot so it wasn’t ideal but the history behind it was so interesting. It’s a shame that you aren’t allowed to walk up the steps but it’s understandable considering what happened there.

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The other day trip we took was at Xplor, this place was insane. Again we booked through our travel reps, as we got a discount and it just made sense. The whole day was paid for, as lunch was included there as an all-inclusive buffet. The coach picked us up similarly at 8.30am, and we spent all day there. The first thing that we did was driving the vehicles which was my favourite thing about the whole day – you get to drive their amphibious cars and follow the route around a jungle with bumps and bridges, and through caves. We got stuck a few times because it started raining and it was so muddy so I wouldn’t recommend wearing any nice clothes! The zip-lining is famous at the park so we did that next and there are two sections of it, the easy zip-lines and the difficult ones. It was fun but I personally think they are a bit over-hyped and some of the queues were quite long. After that, we had lunch which was really good, with loads of choices. Rafting was next, it was in the underground caves with loads of lights and you had to follow the route around, it was so tiring! We did the driving again before we left because we had so much fun before! The day ended at 4.30pm, which was when we had to be on the coach to go back to the hotel. Basically BEST DAY EVER!

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I had the best week in Cancun and I would fully recommend Moon Palace to anyone, whether you travel as a family, in a couple or with friends. I can’t wait to go back already!

Have you ever travelled to Mexico?

One of my favourite things whilst travelling is learning about the different cultures of countries and cities that I will be spending a few days in.

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The cake counter at Vete Katten – yum!

For most of us a coffee break means to chuck down a takeaway Starbucks whilst catching up on emails and life admin. The Swedish however, are the complete opposite.

Much like London with it’s pub culture and the Spanish with their siestas, Sweden (and a few other Scandi countries) are huge on aconcept called fika. 

Although Fika is translated into a coffee break, usually with pastries / pie / cookies, it is better described as a way of taking a break from a busy day from work or just life, and taking that time to appreciate the smaller things in life and relax with a hot drink, a sweet treat and good company.

Here are a few pictures that I captured on my recent trip to Stockholm, enjoying fika.

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We visisted two gorgeous coffee shops; one of them was in central Stockholm called Vete Katten and that was a more posher place, the decor was stunning and very glass and white walls giving it a fresh clean look. The staff were very friendly, and there was no rushed feeling, you were just made to feel like you could stay there as long as you wanted.

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The second place we visited was a little coffee shop in Sigtuna which is a smaller town near Stockholm (incidentally it was the first ever town of Sweden #funfact). Sigtuna is literally one of my favourite places ever, it has huge houses and little streets to stumble across and it does look a little like they’ve stopped time in 1960’s but that literally just adds to the charm. If you are ever in Stockholm, you should definitely spend a day in Sigtuna because it’s gorgeous.

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The coffee shop in Sigtuna is called Tant Brun and it is so old and charming, it has low ceilings and wooden tables and mismatched chairs. It is actually the oldest cafe in Sigtuna and one of the oldest in the whole of Sweden. There is outdoor seating but it was raining when we visited so we sat inside, the candles were burning  and it was just the cosiest time. If you ever go, you need to have the raspberry pie because it is just the best pie I’ve ever had in my life, no exaggeration! Also the staff wear these adorable little outfits that make them look like they’ve stepped out of an old world, and it’s so good because they make such a lot of effort to retain the charm and feel of the old town.

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Raspberry pie with a latte – like heaven on a plate

Hope you enjoyed this post! Have you ever been to Sweden or tried fika? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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If you follow me on Twitter and Instagram then you’ll know that I recently travelled to Rome. I honestly had the best time and I managed to fit a helluva lot in 3 days! Check out my travel diary for more pictures and what I got up to, but I wanted to write up this post because there are a few things I wished I’d known before travelling there.

P.S. Sorry in advance if some of them sound quite obvious!

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1. Do be wary of traffic. There is a sh*tload of traffic, like any other city in Europe, but it’s just something to be wary of because the Italians don’t really care much for traffic lights! We always just waited for the locals to cross the roads, and sort of ran across the road with them!

18789719_10155087903126357_1377867196_o2. Don’t buy water. Rome has water fountains all over the city and the water is so cold and actually really tasty, so don’t waste your money on water bottles! I did plenty of research and there is nothing wrong with the water so you won’t die – don’t worry! Also the big fountains are called ‘nasinis’ which translates to ‘big noses’ – how cute!

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3. Do travel on foot. Before heading to Rome, we did research on whether it was best to do a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, but we decided to walk around the city and let me just confirm that Rome is definitely a city best seen on foot. We walked around 25,000 steps everyday that we were there and it was just amazing stumbling across little roads that were so typically Italian, or discovering cute coffee shops or gelaterias. I wore my Converse but I would definitely recommend you pack your comfiest shoes/trainers/sandals!

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4. Don’t forget your ID. I know many people leave their passports in their hotel rooms for safety reasons, but I took my driving licence with me because you can get discounts off certain places if you can prove that you’re under 25 and living in the EU. Whilst we’re still in the EU, we might as well use the benefits! I know you can definitely use discounts for the Colosseum, and some museums as well, so try not to forget it!

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5. Do be respectful. If you do research before visiting Rome, which you probably will, you’ll know that you will have to take a cardigan or scarf with you when you visit certain places, such as the Sistine Chapel and St Peters Basilica, but there are also other churches that have beautiful interiors, and you’d feel pretty annoyed with yourself if you were refused entry. The general rule is ‘no knees, no shoulders, no midriff’ so just bear it in mind. The rule also applies to men, just in case you thought Italy was being sexist!

The other major rule is the no photography rule at the Sistine Chapel. You are warned plenty of times not to take pictures there and to be honest, the interior is so mesmerising that I didn’t even think of reaching for my camera!

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6. Don’t be attracted to restaurants near the big attractions. I know that when you get hungry you will most likely look for the nearest place and that’s totally understandable, but you will end up paying more. We always carried around granola bars and fruit so that we could snack if we got hungry whilst we were queuing or around the touristy areas, and then waited for lunch/dinner until we got further away from those areas.

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7. Do learn basic Italian. I do try and do this everywhere I visit, I find that it’s such a great thing to do because it makes life easier if you are able to order coffee and ask for directions. It’s also quite respectful and brings you closer to the culture. I found that it helped me so much, especially when solo travelling.

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Have you travelled to Rome before? Would you agree with my do’s & don’ts?

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Writing this post whilst it’s currently storming and raining in London is making me super sad that I’m not in Rome anymore, because let me tell you, I fell in love with this beautiful city. I was so excited to share all my photos (a disgusting 225 in 3 days), so I thought I’d do a photo diary and show you guys what I did in the 3 days that I was there, and then a do’s and dont’s post, sharing what I learnt, which you can read soon.

Enjoy!

|| Hotel ||

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\\ Hotel Twenty One //

We landed pretty late on the Saturday so we went straight to the hotel, to wake up bright and early for the next day. Our hotel was located on the Via Cola di Rienzo, and it was in a great location for us. It was walking distance for everything, but the Vatican was especially close, around a 10 minute walk. Every major tourist attraction was around 20 – 40 minutes away, so the location was perfect. The room was exactly what you need for a city break – clean and decent-sized. The staff were also really helpful, something that is very beneficial when you want locals’ knowledge.

|| Day One: ||

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Since the Vatican is closed on Sundays, we decided to visit the next thing on our to-do list for Rome: the Colosseum. On the way there, we walked past some beautiful buildings that I had to Google the names of (FYI, Rome is full of beautiful buildings and architecture that you could just stare at for days!), which was the Museo Sacrario delle Bandiere and walked up steps to another beautiful church, which after Googling was the Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli.

 When we finally reached the Colosseum, we decided to stand in the longer queue because we didn’t really trust the guided tours and they were fairly expensive for what we wanted. The queue that we stood in took around 1 hour, so if you have a lot more that you want to do during the day then I would suggest paying extra to join the other queue.

I did enjoy the Colosseum, it was a very culturally rich experience, but I am glad that I didn’t pay extra for the guided tour because everything is fairly self-explanatory. The Colosseum only took around 40 minutes for us to look around and take our pictures, so we decided to leave and check out the Forum which I loved. Unfortunately, my camera decided to play up so none of my photos from there were anywhere to be found on my memory card *boo-hiss*.

After lunch (a gorgeous diavalo pizza), we had a lot of time until the evening so we decided to go and visit the Trevi Fountain. Now, if you have seen the Lizzie McGuire movie (lets be honest, who hasn’t?), you’ll know that the Trevi is where Lizzie first claps eyes on the infamous Paolo, so it was a must to visit. I can confirm that it really is as lovely as everyone says, it was just super crowded, but according to locals it always is! I threw my coin, and made my wish, but alas no Paolo was staring at me afterwards so I guess it wasn’t meant to be!

|| Day Two: ||

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The Vatican. The first thing that was on our list and possibly the most popular tourist attraction in the whole of Rome. For this, I would definitely recommend getting a guide, because standing for around 2 hours in a queue that stretches as far as the eye can see, in the blistering heat, does not look fun. We paid around €55 and that included an English tour of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica Church. We also climbed to St Peter’s Dome, which cost us an extra €8.

It was breathtaking. If you only do one thing in Rome, I would definitely recommend doing this. You won’t regret it!

After the Vatican, we decided to walk towards the Pantheon, which was another thing on my list. This is free too, and can get quite busy at certain times of the day so be careful because it’s not ideal to queue in the middle of the busy square. It’s beautiful and somewhere that you can gather your thoughts. Be mindful that you should be quiet and respect the fact that you’re in a place of worship. You can also take photos here but I wouldn’t overdo it because of the reasons above.

We had enough time to visit the Spanish Steps as well, which was actually a really lovely place. Once we climbed up, we took a few pictures and sat down and just people-watched, which I have to admit it was one of my favourite pastimes, especially in different cities!

|| Day Three: ||

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Our flight was in the evening so after we checked out of the hotel, we left our luggage and set off exploring. I had been told numerous times about Piazza Navona, so we took the scenic route, and checked out some beautiful buildings on the way, including the Palace of Justice and Castel Sant’Angelo. Apparently you can see a beautiful view of the whole of Rome from the top of Castel Sant’Angelo which is free, so if you don’t want to climb the Dome at St Peter’s then you should definitely check it out.

Once we reached the Piazza, we picked a seat at one of the many cafes and ordered iced coffees and a beautiful croissant stuffed with ice-cream (INSANE). It is such a beautiful location and I can see why people rave about it so much. It’s great to people-watch, and there are loads of street performers so it’s very entertaining. There are also a lot of beggars and people selling toys etc, so also be mindful of that because they can become quite forceful. Pretty soon after that we made our way back to the hotel, filling up our water bottles on the way and enjoying our last few hours of beautiful Roma.

So that was my trip to Rome!

I would 100% return to Rome, it was honestly one of my favourite cities in Europe. I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Have you been to Rome? What did you think of it?