Travel tips | Seven essential items for your hand luggage

TODAY felt like a fitting time to post this as I’m headed to the airport again!
I never expected to be heading back to Melbourne so soon (I was only there last month!) but my lovely friend Catherine had flights she bought in a sale last year but wasn’t able to get the time off work. So I’m going in her place! (Talk about blessed?!)
I’ve been lucky enough to have done a lot of travelling over the last few years so I’ve gotten pretty used to packing and knowing what I’ll need on a flight.
Without further ado, and in no particular order, let’s get into the list:

Travel tips | Seven essential items for your carry-on luggage | Extraordinary Days

All packed and ready to go!

Your electronic devices:
This one is kind of a given but you’d be surprised at the amount of time I’ve heard people say their phone/iPad/music player is almost out of battery just before they board.
Not every plane is equipped with those fancy TV screens in the back if the seat so you’re in for a boring flight if that’s what you were relying on to keep you entertained!
Also, it has to be said: don’t forget your headphones! Unless you want to shell out for a crappy pair at the airport, that is.

A good book or some magazines (or both!):
Perfect for when you’re trying to conserve the battery in your devices if you’ve got a long haul ahead of you or when you just can’t look at a screen any more.
Magazines are easy to digest between naps or in-flight meals and an interesting book can help you while away the hours.

Travel tips | Seven essential items for your carry-on luggage | Extraordinary Days

A good book or a magazine can make any flight go faster.

Something to hold all of your important documents in:
Itineraries, boarding passes, hotel bookings, passports – all of these are way too important to have float around at the bottom of your handbag.
I like keeping everything important in one place and this Typo documents folder that my lovely friend Amy gave me before my Europe trip last year fits the bill perfectly.
There are slots for everything and the whole thing zips up so nothing will fall out.

Travel tips | Seven essential items for your carry-on luggage | Extraordinary Days

A documents folder will help you stay organised.

A notebook:
Need some quiet time to get your ideas in order? A flight is the perfect place to do it.
You won’t be distracted by the internet (if your flight doesn’t have it) and as long as you can drown out the child crying three seats ahead with some music, you’re in for some quality thinking time.
This can even be as simple of a list of the things you want/need to get done on your trip, or in my case, more blog post ideas. (I never stop planning!)
Make sure you’ve got more than one pen, though.

Extra interesting things to do:
People may give you funny looks, but a colouring in book is an amazing way to while away the hours!
I like taking a crossword book too but I can neither confirm nor deny that I look at the answers to finish off the last few tricky spots.
Snacks can also help while away the hours. You’re probably going to be looking at the clock a lot less if your stomach isn’t rumbling.

Any camera film:
It’s recommended that you always take film in your hand luggage because the strong x-ray machines at the airport that scan your luggage can damage it.
I’ve read that many professional photographers don’t even let their carry-on luggage go through the scanners at security checkpoints, but instead request for their bags to be checked by hand.
This is probably not something you have to worry about if you’re not carrying a lot of expensive film, though.
My Instax Mini and the film for it are the first things I put into my hand luggage so I don’t forget!

Any toiletries or medicine you can’t go without:
My golden rule for travelling is not to put anything in your luggage that you can’t live without.
(My boyfriend found this out the hard way when we landed in Venice last year! It took two days for them to deliver his bag.)
I wear contact lenses so I always carry a small bottle of fluid and a case so I can take them out if my eyes get tired.
An eye mask is always handy if you know you’re going to want to sleep.
Hand cream, a lip balm, Panadol, motion sickness tablets, ear plugs and sleeping tablets are all in my hand luggage too.
And please, for the love of god, bring some tissues and don’t keep sniffing! It will make me want to murder you. I will embarrass you by handing you a tissue and asking you to stop.

I have just double checked my own hand luggage for all of these things, so it’s time to finish off my packing and head to the airport!
What are your essential items that you can’t fly without? Let me know in the comments!

 

Getting flexible with a yoga app

YOGA is incredible! Unfortunately, going to classes doesn’t always fit into your schedule or budget.
That’s where the Yoga Studio App comes in.
I discovered this app a few months ago when I was looking for a way to get more active and because I wanted a way to stretch, relax and strengthen my muscles.

Yoga has never been more accessible! Yoga app review | Extraordinary Days

This app is seriously awesome!

I have trouble with a lot of tense and weak spots – my neck, shoulders and back are usually tight from my desk job and long commute and my weak glutes (yes, my physio told me I have a weak butt) have caused me a fair amount of knee pain.
I’ve been to a proper yoga class before and it was one of the most intense experiences of my life – my arms and legs have never shaken so much!
But, not wanting to spend much money or buy anything special, I downloaded the Yoga Studio app for about $4, picked a class and got started.
Using the app at home meant I could start slow and, if I’m honest, do a class in my pajamas.

Yoga has never been more accessible! Yoga app review | Extraordinary Days

You can choose from a range of beginner, intermediate and advanced classes.

The classes are easy to follow, have relaxing background music and a calming instructor’s voice and the video shows you every move and the beginner’s classes weren’t too overwhelming.
You can choose between beginner, intermediate and advanced classes and whether you want to focus on flexibility, strength or a combination of the two.

Yoga app review | Extraordinary Days

The ‘boat’ pose really works out your core muscles!

After only a couple of classes I remembered all of the poses and felt like I was moving through them more fluidly.
The thing I love most about this app is the different class lengths: 15 minutes, 30 minutes and 60 minutes.
When I’m short on time, 15 minutes is easy to squeeze in and I like having the option of the hour-long class when I want a more intense workout.

Yoga has never been more accessible! Yoga app review | Extraordinary Days

The app shows you every move, making it really easy to follow.

I invested in a yoga mat after a few weeks but before that I was practicing on a fluffy rug and felt that was sufficient.
The mat does help with trying to get the positioning of my feet right, though.
The app lets you study each of the poses before or after a class and you can create your own classes too.
I really like that you don’t have to use the internet after you download a class – it’s yours to play as many times as you like without running up a huge bill.

Yoga app review | Extraordinary Days

Warrior is my favourite pose!

I tried to think of some downsides for this app, I really did. But I honestly couldn’t think of anything I wanted to change about it!
I’m still on the beginner’s classes but I really want to step it up over the next couple of months.
It was also really calming and it helped me wind down at the end of the day.
If you want to try yoga or want to get away from structured classes, this is the app to do it with!
Check out Yoga Studio here and happy stretching!

Why you should take a lunch break today

Taking a lunch break is far more important than you think | Extraordinary Days

It’s time to make a change! (Picture: supplied)

SOME things you’ve got to learn from experience.

A year ago I would never have thought something as small as taking a break every day at work could actually make a difference to my mood and mental health.

I would eat at my desk every day, never stopping to enjoy what I was having and never switching out of work mode.

I was always trying to fit more into my work hours and if I, god forbid, did stop for a rest I was always filled with guilt that I wasn’t making the most of absolutely every minute of my day.

It’s not until I went on leave recently that I realised just how important it is to actually take a break.

I’ve got a fairly stressful job and I’d pretty much run myself into the ground by the time I went on holidays.

You’re allocated that hour (or half hour) every working day, so why not take it?

It helps break up your day:

Feeling flat? Are the hours dragging by? That lunch break is yours to fill with whatever you like and at the end, you’re an hour closer to home time!

Okay, sometimes you end up more sleepy than when you started but getting some fresh air can help with that, even if it’s just a stroll around the block or stretching your legs for a few minutes.

It can give you a bit of peace:

Getting off the computer (or at least closing your work tabs) gives your brain a chance to have a break and, nine times out of ten, you’ll feel refreshed afterwards.

This is especially useful when you’ve got to tackle an important task or something that needs a fresh set of eyes.

I love taking a bit of time to catch up on my Twitter feed or see what other awesome creators are posting on Bloglovin! Bringing in a book to read or watching an episode of a TV series is also a great option.

It gives you a chance to get things done:

Have you been waiting all week to send an important email or buy event tickets? This is your chance.

I work over an hour away from home so my evenings are pretty limited but having a break during the day gives me a chance to feel like I’m not working 24/7.

Taking the time to tick one important thing off your list is incredibly satisfying.

It can help lower you stress levels:

If your poor brain is constantly working overtime, it’s not going to be functioning at its best.

Stress and anxiety build up over time and can cloud your thinking processes. At the very least, you feel like crap.

Making a habit out of taking a while each day to focus on doing something that makes you happy is a great step to take towards improving your mental health.

To be fair, there are some days where taking a chunk of time away from work in the middle of the day isn’t possible, but making the effort most days can be incredible.

Take some time out – you deserve it!

 

Do you take a lunch break? Or do you wish you did?

MAC Saint Germain lipstick vs Savvy High Shine lipgloss

I CAN’T get enough of light, bright pink lip colours right now!
Today I wanted to review two very eye-catching lip products in my collection that are similar shades, MAC’s Saint Germain and Savvy High Shine Paparazzi.
Let’s start with Saint Germain.

MAC Saint Germaine lipstick and Savvy High Shine lipgloss | Extraordinary Days

Can you tell that lipgloss has rolled around in my handbag for a long time?

When I first picked out this colour I was intending to match it to the dress I wore to the Melbourne Cup last year.
Needless to say I should have actually brought the dress with me to the shops that day because while it would have gone well with the fluoro pink (can you tell yet that I’m a huge fan of fluoro?) it’s not quite what I was going for.

Melbourne Cup fluoro pink dress | Extraordinary Days

This was an amazing day!

But I’ve since teamed Saint Germain with other outfits like a little black dress and I really love how bright it is!
As far as lip liners go I’ve worn this shade just by itself with MAC’s lip clear lip primer underneath, with a rose-coloured liner and also with a bit of concealer on my lips to make the colour really pop.
My favourite was the concealer just for that boost to the colour but I really enhancing my Cupid’s bow when I don’t wear lip liner so I’ll probably just continue to change it up depending on how I feel.
I love how bright this is when you first put it on but unfortunately, I’ve found the vibrancy just doesn’t last.
That said, it’s still a lovely rosy colour when it does fade and I think there’d be people out there who would prefer that to how full-on if is when it’s first applied but I’m just not one of them.
Of course, there’s always the option to just keep applying it to keep the colour vibrant but that wouldn’t be my first choice.
Before I found Saint Germain my go-to product for that sort of shade was Savvy High Shine gloss in Paparazzi.

MAC Saint Germaine lipstick and Savvy High Shine lipgloss | Extraordinary Days

These two are a bright pair.

When I first saw the two side by side I thought they were very similar and it wasn’t until I put them together on the back of my hand that I saw Paparazzi is much darker.
Still, I think it gives that punchy colour I was aiming for on my lips and the thicker consistency makes the coverage a bit more even.
In terms of how long they last, in my books a lipstick will usually always win and this is no exception.
While I like lip glosses sometimes, at the end of the day if can’t stand up to me having a meal then it’s probably not going to be one of my favourites.
(My ultimate go-to lipstick/liner combination for THE LONGEST wear in my collection can be found here.)
So for my final verdict, both of these products are great if you bear in mind the colour-fade issue.

Would you wear either of these lip products? Let me know in the comments!

Ten things to make your trip to Paris unforgettable

I’VE been thinking a lot about Paris lately so I wanted to share some of the amazing things to do there, some photos and some tips!
It doesn’t matter if you’re only staying a few days or a few weeks – this list will help you check off the best things to do in this city.
In no particular order, here are my top things to do in the city of love.

Paris | Extraordinary Days

Paris.

Get lost in the Louvre:
Although this is on most people’s list for Paris but it is possible to get away from the crowds in this massive complex.
When my boyfriend and I visited last June we ended up finding a beautiful quiet wing, which was infinitely better than pushing and shoving our way to see the Mona Lisa with the rest of the world.
This was mostly because we wandered in the wrong direction but it made for a perfect afternoon.
Make sure to book your tickets in advance though, especially during the height of the tourist season or you’ll be in for a long wait in the sun.

The Louvre | Extraordinary Days

Beautiful.

The Lourve | Extraordinary Days

The Louvre.

Walk as much as you can:
One of the best ways to see a city is to walk through it and Paris is no different.
Make sure to take a stroll along the Seine and look at the tiny book stalls that line the banks.
There’s something magical about walking along the river in the heart of Paris, especially in the evening.

Paris | Extraordinary Days

So many little streets to explore!

Pick a random place to eat:
I’ll say this for most of Europe – rather than agonising about where to eat, just pick the first decent place you see.
In my experience (especially in Paris), the food will be great and it’s more of an adventure.

Paris | Extraordinary Days

A beautiful place to be at night, too.

Go on a river cruise:
One of the best ways to see this beautiful city is from the water.
Many hour-long cruises leave from the port opposite the Eiffel Tower (don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the city’s biggest attraction!) and have audio guides available in a range of languages.
This is a great way to learn more about the city’s rich history, it’s many bridges and some of its most important buildings and areas.

Paris | Extraordinary Days

The Seine!

Walk along the Champs Élysées:
This beautiful tree-lined streets gets about 50,000 visitors every day and it’s easy to see why.
All of the world’s biggest fashion brands have a spot there and there are plenty of more minor stores too.
With the Place de la Concorde at one end, you can great a great view of the Arc de Triomphe as you walk along this world-famous avenue.

Champs-Élysées Paris | Extraordinary Days

The Champs-Élysées is a busy street!

Climb the steps at Sacré-Cœur:
This one is not for the faint of heart!
Situated in Montmartre at the city’s highest point, this basilica makes for an amazing panoramic view across the whole of Paris.
Climbing the 270 steps up to it is not for everyone, so there is a funicular car for those who don’t feel up to the challenge.
Once at the top the interior of the basilica is open to the public, include the dome at the very top. (I’ve never been inside but it’s on my list!)

Sacré-Cœur, Paris | Extraordinary Days

Sacré-Cœur.

Go to Shakespeare and Company bookstore:
This tiny bookstore is almost hidden in a small street near the Notre Dame cathedral but it’s well worth seeking out.
Booklovers need to go here!
The shelves are packed full of a wide range of books and upstairs there is a reading area, perfect to while away some time in.
On the day I went with Michael there was a man playing something beautiful on a piano as a breeze came in through the open window – I actually thought I was in heaven.
If you’re buying a book don’t forget to ask for the attendant to stamp it with the Shakespeare and Company stamp before you leave.

Paris | Extraordinary Days

Book lover heaven!

Go to the Pont des Arts (love lock bridge):
It’s a well-known tradition for people to visit this famous bridge, attach a lock and throw their key into the river (ensuring good luck and that their love will last).
However, in recent years the Parisian government has tried to make people aware that this tradition is also slowly destroying the bridge, as it cannot cope with the weight of thousands upon thousands of metal padlocks.
Just before I visited last June a section of the fencing along the bridge collapsed and fell into the river below because of the weight.
While that did mean there was a nice empty panel for Michael and I to put a lock on to when we arrived, I would think twice about this if I visited again because at the end of the day, I don’t want the city to take stronger measures to protect part of its history and take all of the locks away because the bridge is on the verge of collapse.
(As it was, when Mike and I were leaving the area we saw council workers with a ute tray FULL of locks pull up, ready to cut away bicycle chains full of locks that had been fastened to the bridge.)

Paris | Extraordinary Days

This section was quickly filled!

Take a day trip to the Palace of Versailles:
This is for those on a longer stay in this city and it was well worth a visit.
While our tour tickets cost about $100 Australian each, we got to travel from Paris in an airconditioned coach and have a guided tour throughout the palace and grounds.
A guided tour is something I’d definitely recommend as the guides know exactly what to point out in each room and the most important and entertaining information to give you.
I can only imagine what it would have been like in its prime!
As it was peak tourist season it was packed with people so anyone who is claustrophobic may want to give this a miss, or come at a quieter time of year.

Paris | Extraordinary Days

Gates at Versailles

And last but not least, visit the Eiffel Tower.
This was a given and I’d be surprised to see a list of things to do in Paris that didn’t feature it.
This monument is truly worth a visit and if you don’t want to wait in line to climb up into it, spending time around the base is just as lovely.

2015/01/img_0168.jpg

Take me back!

I really hope you’ve enjoyed this list — I enjoyed writing it!
I can’t wait to book another trip back to this amazing city one day.

Do you have any things on your Parisian bucket list? Or something I haven’t mentioned here? Let me know in the comments!

Five songs I’m loving right now

LAST year was a great one for new music so I wanted to share a few of my favourite songs at the moment.

Oh yeah, DJ Roomba! Source: http://tinyurl.com/nhlpax6

Oh yeah, DJ Roomba! Source: http://tinyurl.com/nhlpax6

Odd Mob – Is It a Banger?
This is definitely my summer party track.
Sampling audio from Aziz Ansari’s character Tom Haverford in Parks and Recreation, the tune goes through how to pick whether or not a song is a banger.
“Are any acoustic instruments used? If so, not a banger.”

Vance Joy – Georgia
Vance Joy has proved he’s not just a one-hit wonder.
By the time his debut song Riptide topped the Triple J Hottest 100 this January, we were all sick to death of hearing it because it had been overplayed so much.
This relaxed song is just nice to listen to and hasn’t been too badly flogged by commercial radio (unlike his other track Mess is Mine).

Deadmau5 – Avaritia
This dreamy techno track makes me think ‘damn this song is good’ every time I hear it.
It’s up-beat, it’s catchy and it makes me want to party.

Kimbra – Carolina
I’ve really  been enjoying Kimbra’s latest album, The Golden Echo.
It feels like each song is a winner but this one is extra catchy.

Purity Ring – Push Pull
This dreamy song is just so easy to listen to on repeat and I blast it every time it comes on the radio.
Looking forward to checking out the rest of this band’s stuff.

What songs are you loving at the moment? Put any links into the comments below – I’m always searching for new stuff to listen to!

My goals for 2015

I DON’T believe in New Year’s resolutions because I don’t think you need the calendar to flip over to make changes in your life. That said, there’s no harm in choosing things to focus on in the future.
It took me a while to narrow down the list of things I want to do this year but here it is.

2015 New Year's resolutions

It’s going to be a great year!

Take time for myself:
Taking care of myself is the first thing to fall by the wayside as soon as life gets crazy – and with a busy job and a long daily commute (about two and a half hours per day!) this was a struggle for me in 2014.
I found I could always schedule time in for errands, friends and other activities but never put aside enough time to just relax.
Last year taught me that taking time out to rest, get enough sleep and mentally recuperate is incredibly important.
I didn’t realise how tightly wound I was until I went to Europe in June and could actually relax for weeks on end.
Whether I achieve this by going to bed earlier, reading a magazine or having a lazy Sunday morning in bed, I really want to take time out when I can this year – before I burn out.

Get moving:
Exercise is something that I too easily put on the backburner.
Again, with my long commute it’s often quite late by the time I get home but I’ve been lucky enough to house-sit near my work for the past month and having that extra time as well as minding a large dog that needs lots of walking has made all the difference to my exercise schedule.
So for almost four weeks now I’ve walked the dog for between 30 minutes and a hour each day and at the end of last month I started using an incredible yoga app for daily practice as well.
(Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see a post on my progress with this app!)
I feel incredible!! My stress levels have gone down drastically, even during the silly season.
Ideally I’d like to take at least half an hour each day for cardio (even if it’s just a brisk walk) and either 15 minutes or half an hour for yoga, with longer sessions of both on the weekend.
I’ve got a Fitbit Flex and it’s helping me keep track of the steps I do each day. Meeting my goals is extremely satisfying.
While the tough part will be keeping this routine when I start finish house-sitting and start commuting again, I’m going to give it my best shot.

Read more:
I’m a big bookworm but I don’t usually have time to read!
Before bed each night I ususally spend a bit of time reading a book on my iPod Touch but it’s just not the same as flipping physical pages.
This year I want to make more time to pick up a book and escape into another world.

Get in control of my finances:
Saving money is not exactly my strongest area and it’s something I really am going to get on top on this year.
I started by unsubscribing from a lot of store emails – I do not need to know when they have a sale on!
Saving for a house deposit is my main priority and keeping that in mind will hopefully help me keep my spending in check.

Keep up with blogging:
I’m sure most bloggers have the same goal for this year.
I’ve got so many ideas in my little notebook that I can’t wait to get on to but keeping organised and planning ahead will be key.

What are your goals for 2015? Share them in the comments!