Sweet Dreams

Travel tip Tuesday - Getting Good Sleep
Happy Travel Tip Tuesday! This month’s tip is nothing to lose sleep over. I want to help you feel well rested after your free walking tour in your city of choice. I know it can be quite difficult to catch some Z’s when you are traveling in an unfamiliar setting, flying in and out of different time zones, getting stuck with pancake pillows (the worst), a lumpy mattress, or itchy sheets. Add in some AirBnB roomies and a new environment filled with creepy sounds, and you have a recipe for disaster for your sleeping schedule. So here are some tips to try on your next trip!

Get Active
First, I try to stay active all day long (8am-10pm), which is not very hard to do in a new place. If you spend all day exploring, going on adventures, hiking, climbing to the tops of cathedrals or walking around endlessly in museums, you will naturally be pooped at the end of the day. Trust me. If you are more of a vacation lounger, this may be a bit more difficult unless you are soaking up a lot of the suns rays all day – that alone can make you a bit sleepy. However, try not to nap while resting on that beach, as tempting as it is, as that can affect your sheep counting ability in the PM.
Pink PJs
Cut the Caffeine
I need a coffee IV to function in the morning, ask my husband. It is NOT a pretty sight until I’ve had my caffeine fill. But when traveling I cut myself off by mid-afternoon, as caffeine can stay in your blood for 6 to 8 hours! This is to ensure I’m not all hyped up on my second wind when I should be dreaming of my early morning excursion. (Find out why getting up early is essential when traveling HERE).
Morning Java
Just Ask
Whether you are in a hotel, motel, AirBnB, bed and breakfast, whatever, don’t be afraid to just ask for what you need! Prefer having 3 pillows? More blankets? A fan on (whether for just the white noise or the gentle breeze), ask the host/concierge. It doesn’t hurt to inquire about what will help you reach your sleep goals. Worst case – it’s a no. I find I sleep best when there is a window cracked open, as often it’s hard to get comfortable when the room is too hot and stuffy. If you know you may need certain items in your room beforehand, make a special request so you don’t have to ask after check-in when you just want to hit the hay and put your head down.
Good Night
Other Options
When in doubt, put your phone down and your screen away, pick up a book, relax, have a glass of warm milk (not wine – that can affect your hormones and disrupt your sleep) and pop some melatonin. This is a non-prescription drug that aids in rising your melatonin hormone levels and gives you a little nudge towards sweet dreams. However before taking any drugs or sleep aids, I highly suggest consulting with a physician or doing your own extensive research, I’m not a doctor, clearly!

Do you have issues sleeping when you travel? What do you do to aid it? Any questions for my next monthly travel tip? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers,
Melissa

Why you should travel with a Backpack!

Travel Tip Tuesday
Happy Travel Tip Tuesday! After a 2 month hiatus to return to life back in Toronto, from Amsterdam, I am back with more monthly tips and tricks for your next travel adventure! After binge-watching Marie Kondo on Netflix, purging through our stuff to move back, and sifting through any unnecessary belongings that had accumulated over time, I want to take a moment to focus on the effectiveness of packing light.

I love having wardrobe options with matching jewelry, day and night shoes, and numerous hat options; but after spending many weekends living out of a backpack, I’ve learned how unnecessary it can be. I’m not saying to wear the same outfit all weekend (you do want some variety in your Instagram photos, and need to be prepared for all weather types), just find articles of clothing that can be mixed, matched and layered (if necessary). Pairing this plan with different accessories each day can refresh your look, but more importantly, leave more room in your backpack or reduce weight – your back will thank you.
Wearing a backpack in South Africa
Traveling with just a backpack means that you don’t have to wait for checked luggage and won’t have to stress about lugging around a bag with wheels up long staircases, or wish you had additional arms to carry more stuff. This is ideal if you have an early or late flight (as you can stroll in a bit closer to your flight, and not waste time in a line to get your luggage weighed and tagged). It also means that you can walk a bit faster with just what you need on your back, and cover more ground seeing more landmarks on your trip. Perhaps the most important of all, with a well-balanced bag that fits you properly, it greatly reduces the strain on your body and you may even forget you have a bag on at all! – great for stairs, terrible in antique shops.
Wearing a backpack in Bordeaux
When packing your knapsack, I find it’s ideal to roll up your clothes. I’ll pre-steam the wrinkles out, and then neatly and tightly roll everything so I can pack more. That also leaves space for your toiletries, makeup, an empty water bottle, socks, undergarments, accessories, etc. Always leave a tinnnny bit of room for any souvenirs you may pick up along the way, optional if that’s not your jam. Also, a hot tip, since this is your carryon item on flights (so you don’t need to be separated from your belongings), you usually also get a personal item. For us, that usually means my purse, my husband’s prized procession (his camera) or a fragile purchase from an antique market.
Travel with a Backpack
So next time you are luggage shopping at The Bay or Bently, don’t forget to consider a nice sturdy backpack. For ample back support get one with straps that clip along the chest, they don’t look nerdy or touristy at all, says my husband. Or go for the Eddie Bauer stowaway packable backpack. I love that you can use it all day and then fold it up into a tiny bag and store it when you don’t need it! For more tips on how to make the most out of the space in your knapsack, check out my tips on travel makeup options HERE, or learn how to cut down on hair appliances HERE.

Do you travel with a backpack? Do you have any travel questions that you want me to cover in my next monthly post? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers,
Melissa

To travel, or to vacation? That is the question!

Do you enjoy travel? Or would you rather go on a vacation? Confused? Well, I truly believe there are fundamental differences between both, making it a relevant topic for this month’s Travel Tip Tuesday!
Travel Tip Tuesday
The great thing is that both options are fun in their own way, and each has its time and place. It really just depends on how much you like to relax and explore. So let’s compare!

What vacation means
A vacation typically includes room service, an all you can eat buffet or menu designed specifically for tourists, access to an open bar, and multiple bikini options packed in your suitcase. Your vacation may include soaking up the sun on a beach, relaxing in the spa, and a never-ending drink at your side. This could be on a large ship or on an all-inclusive resort, with not a worry in the world. It is a huge battery charge for yourself, a well-deserved treat away from your busy demanding life. Simply, vacationing is spending a lot of money to do nothing, typically in warmth.
Cuba
Vacationing means leaving your stress at home, relaxing, indulging, maybe finally catching up on some reading and enjoying the luxuries in life! It consists of eating as much as you’d like, and maybe even turning off your cell phone for a bit! This can be costly but often you can find great getaways that do not break the bank.
Relaxing in Santorini
There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, from time to time we all need this. Not just for the ample amounts of vitamin D, but for our cortisone levels, the bags under our eyes, and our overall health. Studies have proven that those that take the time to vacation have a better outlook on life, more motivation to achieve their goals, and less risk of heart disease! Put that in your next vacation submission. This is will actually benefit your workplace!

So what is the difference?
Travel is not always about the relaxing, it can even be stressful! Travelling is about integrating yourself into the new culture. Often we will fit in as many churches, museums, or palaces as we possibly can in one day. If we are not tired by the end of the day, we haven’t seen enough and will work harder to ensure we try more traditional food and drinks, talk to the locals, walk around and go off the beaten path. It can be less focused on regenerating yourself and more on pushing yourself to make new discoveries both personal and trip-related. Encompassing a “travel trip” means less time on a beach or ship, and more time, well, traveling. Although you may actually sleep less, and eat less than you would at the buffet, it can be incredibly transforming. You get to learn all about new cultures and can develop new friendships that last a lifetime.
Exploring in Trinidad and TobagoOur choice
Over the last 2 years, we have traveled all around Europe and have been on at least 30 trips in that time. But we have yet to vacation since visiting the Caribbean prior to moving to Europe. I prefer it that way. I love creating a jam-packed, colour coordinated itinerary and experiencing new places to the fullest. I get enjoyment out of guessing a new transit system, finding a new favourite food spot and learning about the history of that region. Don’t get me wrong though, I am always up for lying at the beach with a margarita by my side! We find that on a 4-day trip, we like to have 3 of those days itemized to the half hour, and one day more at leisure to slow down or revisit areas that we thought were special.
Travel or Vacation? Palma De Mallorca
So what do you prefer? What is your trip style? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers,
Melissa

Become a Photographer

Well, folks, this is my last monthly travel tip of the year! I can’t believe how fast 2018 has gone by! If you want me to continue my Travel Tip Tuesday monthly blog posts, please let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!
Travel Tip Tuesday
This year has been very busy for travel; by the end of the month, we will have covered 12 countries in 12 months. Since returning to Canada last Christmas, we have been to Switzerland, Hungary, Austria, Ireland, Belgium, Greece, France, The Czech Republic, Germany, South Africa, back to Canada and France, and soon flying to Spain and Denmark. It has been an epic year, and I feel so incredibly lucky for all the adventures! I know one day the years will go by faster and faster and may eventually blur together, so my take away for this month’s tip is to take lots (and lots) of photos when you travel!
Take Photos!
Each trip is unique and if you travel like us, it may be your only time visiting that city or country for several years. The places you eat, visit, and people you meet, will likely only happen once in a lifetime. So don’t be shy about taking photos (or videos). Photos will help you remember when you are older, can be shared with family members who are not able to travel, will be a learning tool for younger generations, and are really the ultimate souvenir!
Souvenirs
Souvenirs can start to clutter your home, break in transit, or take up space in your bag. Don’t get me wrong, we collect plates, magnets, etc when we travel, but photos are priceless. They literally cost you nothing!
Tourists
It’s OK to look and act like a tourist, it is your trip after all, so take your photos! Obviously be smart about where you store your phone and how you carry your camera though, especially in busy public spaces prone to pickpocketers. We like to use a general rule that our photo taking opportunities should not impact surrounding people. For instance, taking photos should not block other people’s views, hold up lines, disrupt traffic flows or draw too much attention. Most importantly, once you capture that picture perfect moment, put your camera away and simply enjoy being in the moment and take in your surroundings. What does it look like? Taste like? Smell like? What is something unique about what you are seeing or experiencing? Make sure you actually enjoy it with your own eyes and not just through a lens. Don’t just walk from one landmark to the next to get a single photo just to prove they have been there because honestly, nobody cares where you have been. Travel for you and your personal experiences. Pictures are great, living in the moment and truly enjoying the experience is best; when you relive the moment through your photos in years to come, the memory will mean more because it will be a strong emotional experience.

My last note: To cut down the time spent to capture “the shot”, take some photo lessons or watch some tutorials online. Minimizing time spent behind the lens allows for more unobstructed experiences.

Do you like to take lots of photos when you travel? Do you have any travel questions for next year’s Travel Tip Tuesday posts? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers,
Melissa

Money Money Money

Travel Tip TuesdayToday is Travel Tip Tuesday! Novembers tip is about finances, not necessarily my strong suit, though a topic that should be covered, especially when so close to Christmas shopping. When travelling we all hope for a picture perfect trip with no frustrating situations, and often the unexpected can happen. Here are some ways to protect yourself from money theft and getting stuck in an unpleasant vacation.

When travelling, I always pack several different cards with me (both debit and credit). Even if the intent is not to use all of them, sometimes your bank may block a card, or your card simply won’t work in that specific country (It’s happened to me in Poland and South Africa). So just in case, I always bring a few cards which are all linked to different outlets. I would suggest keeping at least one tucked away in your room, in case your purse or bag gets stolen! On that note, it may be a good idea to give your bank a heads up that you will be travelling – depending on the institution you may be able to do this online for convenience.

Cards are great, and as they say, cash is king…sometimes. Some restaurants will not accept cards, in Europe you may need change for the water closet, and transit can be tricky to pay for when in a rush. Flea markets are usually cash only and normally a good way to bargain is by only showing them a small bill or a few coins. Cash is also good in case of emergency! I also suggest splitting between your wallet, bag, sock and money belt. It will seem a bit ridiculous, especially when taking off your shoe to pay for something, it will at least offer some protection against losing everything to an opportunistic pickpocket. This hidden cash can get you a meal, somewhere to sleep, and a call home for help.

I never owned a money belt until we went to South Africa. And now, I think they are a great investment. I’d suggest not using it as a replacement for a purse and only for the essentials (this includes your passport/residence card, one bank card, a photocopy of health cards and a bit of cash). Have it hidden under your clothes, and don’t go digging for it in public. This way even if your purse gets snatched, you can still get home.

I get this sounds a bit paranoid and over the top; as safe as you may feel in your surroundings, you never really know what can happen when abroad in a strange land. Neighbourhoods can look fantastic when the sun is up, which can drastically change after sunset. Why test it? Be prepared and therefore you can worry a bit less about logistics and more about enjoying your trip!

Money

Cheers,
Melissa

Rise & Shine

I’m going to suggest something that I will RARELY say…Get up early (when you travel)! I know you are on holidays and staying tucked in extra-long can be ever so tempting, but don’t! Not only will rising at the crack of dawn get your day started early (allowing the chance to fit in more activities), but that means you may be able to beat the long lineups and overflow of people at popular tourist attractions.
sunday market (17)
When we arrived early at the Palace of Versailles we were able to view most of the palace on our own, without fighting to see the paintings or antiques because of overcrowding. While not the most important, it also makes it easier to get that perfect picture without soo many heads in your photos. This also takes the stress of waiting, and the anxiety of people out of the equation, meaning you can actually enjoy and relax! Another quick tip, in relation to being an early riser, is to pre-purchase tickets ahead of time, then you really can spend less time on logistics and more time enjoying the beautiful views.
KVDV Photography
Speaking of views… check out the sunrise! How often do you get to witness that? And how frequently in another country? We recently were up at 3:30 am (I know right, ugh) for a safari drive in South Africa, and it was worth every moment. Though be it, the chill permeated through our thin clothes, the views more than made up for it. If the clouds are just right, the sunrise can become one of your favourite memories of the whole trip.
DSC00782
So suck it up buttercup. Put your outfit out the night before if you need to, and pull the shades down early to experience the morning life over the nightlife for once. Plus who’s to say you can’t have a mid-day fiesta if you need a rest?
KVDV Photography
Are you an early bird catches the worm type, or are you a night owl? Let me know in the comments and stay tuned for more tricks and tips next month!

Cheers,
Melissa

Dryer Sheets & Travel

It’s time for Travel Tip Tuesday! I know I am a bit late this month, but planning a wedding this summer kept me quite busy. For anyone who is interested in what it’s like to plan a wedding overseas, stay tuned for future posts! It will be loaded with lessons learned, jam-packed with personal DIY tips and the pros and cons of being an expat bride to be from abroad.
20180427_101625
So back to the tidbit of today… let’s keep it simple. Bring dryer sheets everywhere! Don’t laugh, not only are they super lightweight, but they have an abundance of uses apart from the dryer. The first and obvious is to cover up any smells. Not just in your bag, but for your shoes, or even in your accommodations. There you can repel bad smells in the bed, dresser drawers or the trash bin. I’ve even heard that the smell of dryer sheets can keep unwanted visitors away such as insects, bed bugs and mice!
sunday market (16)
Dryer sheets are also great for preventing static on your clothes or hair, so feel free to use them to tame your mane before taking a selfie. They can also be used to remove deodorant from clothes (just rub it away), removing sand after a visit to the beach, and freshening up that questionable rental car. Who knew such a small item, which takes up virtually no room, could be so useful!

Does anyone else have one of these tucked away in their purse or carryon at all times? Want to know more? Leave a comment below! Stay tuned for more monthly tips and tricks!

Cheers,
Melissa

Love is in the Hair

It is that time again for Travel Tip Tuesday! Today, I’m going to talk about hair! In the time of Instagram, Snapchat and Youtube Vlogs, how do you maintain great photogenic hair, without overpacking on products and appliances while on trips? What’s your secret?
Travel Tips
My first tip is to purchase mini travel sample sizes of the bare minimal essentials (I like to have serum and hairspray at all times). When purchasing these items, ensure they are under the travel regulation size (you can also purchase larger sizes to use for refilling the travel bottles when needed). We often opt out of Hotels and sleep in Air B & B’s, which do not always offer the cute free shampoo bottles, especially not hair colour friendly options. So I fill mini bottles of my own choosing from home.
Curlers at Breakfast
I find the easiest hairstyle to maintain is beach friendly waves. If I spend the time straightening my hair, it often curls from the European heat anyways. So after a quick blow dry in the morning, I roll up my hair in curlers and let them set while I sip on my morning coffee and indulge in breakfast. After that, a quick brush through and spritz of hairspray is all you need. Let’s face it, when you are travelling your hair is not expected to be perfect. I also rather spend more time checking out the sites, then myself in a mirror.
Wearing a hat
Often there is no blow dryer available at our accommodations. When that happens, which is quite often in Europe, I just sleep with the curlers in wet hair and good ol shower cap it when showering in the morning. If it’s really hot, or you feel unmotivated, might I suggest just going simple by wearing braids, or wrapping your hair in a bun after your morning shower. Personally, my hair does not always cooperate and can dry frizzy when I go for these options. If that happens you can always cover up with a super cute scarf or hat (which is also a great way to protect yourself from the sun). And when in doubt, go with dry shampoo. It can be your best friend!

Do you have any hair travel tips to share? Any questions? Let me know in the comments below! And stay tuned for more monthly tips and tricks!

Cheers,
Melissa

Last Minute Travel

Grab your agenda, it’s time for travel tip Tuesday!
Travel Tip Tuesday
Sometimes travelling on a whim can actually be the cheapest. And that is not easy for me, the organized – itinerary making – over planner, to admit. For example, our trip to Trinidad & Tobago from Canada, or really most of our European weekend getaways from Amsterdam, have been last minute spontaneous decisions.

So how do you go about this? If you can, search on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, the prices are usually at their lowest then. Next, I like to follow travel Facebook groups which often post last minute deals or promos (such as YYZ deals). If you find a deal you like, act quickly! Great deals often go VERY fast! I also like using sites such as Tickettipper.nl (which will list great travel deals in Europe), and Skyscanner (to book according to the best price). Some airlines often have last minute deals on their site, such as Transavia. The most difficult part is getting the time off, so I preach the tried and true, “Better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission”. I only know of one story where that failed, he only missed a day of his trip and had to book a new flight. But, it is a risk one has to take to get the best deals.
My Plan
Keep in mind that when you leave it this late in the game, you may not have much selection in your destination. But if you just want a weekend away, and are not particularly picky about where you want to explore, give this a try!

Are there any sites that you suggest? Let me know! And stay tuned for more tips and tricks!

Cheers,
Melissa

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