As I sat in the musky smelling motel, I picked up my phone.
Travelling is something that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Exploring exotic lands, discovering new things, and generally experiencing a change of scene is good for the mind and the soul. However, the one potential hitch is, funnily enough, deciding who to go with. Questions such as how many people, just girlfriends, guy friends as well, lovers/partners – and then there’s sharing vs. not sharing a room, hostel or hotel, compromising on destinations, activities, what airline to fly, blah blah blah. While this may seem like an exciting prospect, pretty soon tempers can fray, to the point where your relaxing escape has turned into one long tantrum before it’s even begun.
Fortunately, there’s a simple solution; travel alone.
I mean it. There is such a stigma on gathering a group together to take on the world, but a solo hiatus is often the best thing for you. There are so many wonderful things in the world to do; wouldn’t you rather be accountable only to yourself while you do them? To experience the world on your own terms, without inhibitions? Here are the top 4 reasons why travelling alone is the way to go.
- It’s easier to pay attention
Walking through the streets of a strange city with your friends is always fun. You can chatter and marvel at the sights and sounds around you. That is, the sights and sounds you notice. While you were distracted by your buddy’s gruesome recount of the Tower of London’s torture chambers, you missed the homeless man selling peanuts to feed the pigeons in Trafalgar Square. You missed the daffodils that line the streets of London in the early spring, and the squirrels that poke their adorable heads out from behind the plane trees. If you were meandering through the city accompanied only by your own thoughts and agenda, you would see things that are unique to a particular place, but not usually noticeable.
- Stay out as late as you want
So long as you play it safe, you can leave your hotel room for three days without returning if you feel like it and nobody will anxiously call you at three in the morning, demanding you return to hold back her hair as she vomits away her pre-hangover (yes, I’ve been on both ends of that). When you finally return at whatever odd hour you decide on, crash through as loudly and clumsily as you want. There’s nobody there to wake up angrily and throw a pillow at you (yep, been there too).
- Eat as much as you want
Not everybody has this problem, but I certainly get a severe case of stage fright when I eat out with other people. Maybe it’s the years I’ve spent in the dance world, but I never feel I can fully indulge in exotic food when other people are watching. I know I’m not alone in this. If you’re all by your one-sie, you can go to whatever decadent Spanish tapas bar you can find and eat your way from one side of the menu to the other. The only judgment you will face is from your empty bank account the next morning. Two, four, six, eight; bog in, don’t wait!
- You will make the wackiest friends
In my time travelling alone overseas, the weirdest, wackiest, best-est friends I made were the ones I ran into completely by chance when I had nothing to do. With them I shared some of the most interesting (and sometimes questionable) experiences I have ever had, and remain in contact with them now, even though we are separated by several time zones, oceans, and the odd language barrier. The whole point of travelling is to experience the people as well as the place. What better way to do that than being forced to make friends because you’re travelling without them?
A long-haul flight can mean that your hair can really take a turn for the worst. The texture can change, humidity is never a good thing and it can just feel flat and lifeless. Make sure you have the following products in your carry-on luggage to give your hair a spruce before heading off on your next adventure.
Before stepping foot on the plane, make sure your hair has been freshly washed and dried. Don’t apply too much product at the roots since it can make the follicle feel sticky and oily. Use a volumising shampoo to give the illusion of extra body without getting a professional blow-dry.
Malin + Goetz Peppermint Shampoo, $26
Eliminate frizz by keeping a finishing spray in your handbag at all times. This is an essential in warmer climates since the hot air almost always ruins a slicked-back hairstyle.
Joico Humidity Blocker Finishing Spray, $25.95
A can of dry shampoo is a must-have for saving hair that is starting to feel oily around the roots. Simply give it a quick spritz and make sure to comb it out to get rid of any white residue.
Soap & Glory Glad Hair Dry Shampoo, $10
To keep any bangs or layers away from your face, make sure you have a soft headband packed in your carry-on luggage. Keeping your hair down on a long-haul flight is just impossible, especially if it’s constantly in your face.
Lady Jayne Headband, $8.99
Sea salt spray
Who knew that sea salt spray could be so versatile? Simply spritz it into your ends and scrunch up the hair for extra volume and texture.
Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray, $35
Image via Refinery 29
Let’s face it, there’s nothing glamorous about a 22-hour flight across the globe.
To make skin feel a little more relaxed, why not invest in some quality products which will fight against those dreaded dry patches. Below are just a few holy grail tips involving thermal water to cold creams to save your skin.
Rather than packing on each layer of foundation, blush, bronzer, and highlighter for the long trip, stick to something light and hydrating for your skin. If you just can’t stand the thought of going make-up free, use a light tinted moisturiser to even out your skin tone. They are usually packed with skin-loving vitamins and minerals which won’t result in dry patches.
To avoid dry, flakey skin, use a thermal water or face wipe to refresh during the trip. Pressed thermal water is great for your skin because it’s pure, and won’t disrupt the state of your foundation or eye makeup. Keep a small can in your carry-on luggage, and spritz your face every few hours.
Use a multi-purpose dry oil on both your face and body to keep skin feeling fresh and energised. You only need a few drops, and your skin will feel hydrated for hours! Ideal for women who suffer from dry and sensitive skin.
Apply a mask
A hydrating moisturiser is the one of the best ways to avoid dry patches, and treat your skin at the same time. Simply apply over clean, dry skin, then just sit back and relax! Leave the mask on for 10-15 minutes, and take any excess product and pat into your neck.
Always pack a moisturising lip balm to soothe dry, cracked lips. Use a stick version as opposed to a tub which is more hygienic.
Use a cold cream
Ever heard of a cold cream before? These products are known to be super-hydrating for all skin types, and can be used in a number of ways. Apply onto your face as a hydrating mask, decrease puffy eyes, apply onto your hands, and even use it to remove your makeup. A tube of this stuff in your luggage is sure to be a lifesaver.
Image via ELLE
Have you ever wanted to the road less travelled when it comes to exploring Morocco? Rather than jumping at the chance to visit the same-old tourist destinations, follow our exclusive guide including some must-see sights once you’ve finally landed in North Africa’s most popular destination.
If you haven’t heard about tagine, then you’ve probably been living under a rock. Often dubbed the un-official dish of Morocco, tagine is a slow-cooked stew which is named after the dish which it’s cooked in. You can find good tagine anywhere from the local restaurant, street-food stall, and even the occasional cafe in the city centre.
Between chicken, lamb, beef, and even egg tagine, there are a variety of different dishes which are seasoned with local herbs and spices for that authentic taste.
Stay: La Maison Arabe
Just one of Marrakech’s luxury hotels (at an affordable price) you can easily receive the best of both world’s in this traditional place of rest. Enjoy a hot stone massage, sign-up to their world-renowned cooking school, or just relax by the heated pool. Or just down to the local town square which is just a short 10 minute walk away.
You will love the traditional Moroccan craftsmanship featuring cedar wood ceilings, and big open spaces which are truly out of a picture book.
Experience: Fantasia Borj Bladi
Just one night at Fantasia Borj Bladi will completely change your outlook on a traditional restaurant. The food is good, but the main feature is the horse riders who put on a magnificent show with music and dancers for the entire Moroccan experience.
One of the main attractions in central Marrakech is definitely the Medina – old city filled with hundreds of little stalls and shops surrounded by traditional neighbourhoods.
Here you will find little trinkets, homemade treats and spices, clothing, and even score a bargain or two with the local vendor.
Chefchaouen is one of the most picturesque towns in Morocco, and is known worldwide for it’s buildings in different shades of blue. Enjoy a relaxed stay in one of the towns many hotels or hostels, and make sure to visit the Rif Mountains which stretch from Cape Spartel to Ras Kebdana.
Trekking, biking, and mountain climbing all are very popular ways to enjoy your time in the North-Moroccan countryside.
Images via Laurence of Morocco, Legal Nomads, Fashion Toast, My Cars, Morocco Why Not
Whether a nautical fanatic, competitive racer, slow paced drifter or professional front deck sunbather, jump on board, hoist the sails (or watch someone else do it) and cruise into the sunset, whilst indulging in champagne, exotic cheeses and mouth-watering seafood. Sound appealing? In just two hours from Brisbane, less than three hours from Sydney and under four hours from Melbourne, guests can be kicking back, enjoying this French infused destination, encircled by crystal clear waters and soul warming sunshine.
From serious luxury yachting to the traditional wooden boat, here guests will find everything their inner sailor desires. Choose from an exotic menu of boating options from yacht charters, with or without a skipper or host; cruises à la carte lasting several days; trips on the Great Southern Seas following the whale route; cruising via catamaran; or even just a water taxi to the islands closest to Noumea. New Caledonia is elegant French sophistication on Australia’s doorstep and with much better weather than its European motherland.
Here are some tips on why sailing in New Caledonia should be top of everyone’s holiday bucket list this summer:
Sail one of the world’s largest lagoons
New Caledonia is already regarded as an ecological hotspot, home to one of the world’s largest coastal lagoons and UNESCO World Heritage site in their backyard, but now this natural wonder has added another to the list.
Covering more than 1.3 million square kilometres, New Caledonia is home to Le Parc Naturel de la Mer de Corail or the Natural Park of the Coral Sea. The marine park is larger than Alaska, twice the size of Texas, three times the size of Germany and is one of the largest protected areas on the planet. The area covers around 450,000 hectares of coral reefs, 25 species of marine mammals, 48 shark species, 19 species of nesting birds and five species of sea turtles.
Another jewel in the New Caledonia crown is the Isle of Pines, located at the southern tip and only 80km from Noumea, Isle of Pines is a fabulous yachting destination full of adventure and unlimited anchorages with crystal clear water and sandy beaches. Upon arrival, sailors will be drawn in by the most magnificent bays in the world – a perfect place to start exploring this exclusive paradise.
Be the captain of the ship
Guests can charter an individual yacht and become their own captain, as they navigate New Caledonia and its surrounding islands. Enjoy the freedom of waking in the morning to decide where the day will lead.
From day sailing to one or two week cruises exploring the east coast, New Caledonia is the ultimate sailing destination where the tradewinds blow regularly and the array of small islands offer sheltered hideaways. Sailors can expect breezes of about 15-25 knots during the coming warm season, so with virtually no currents and tides that rarely exceed one metre, sailing the world’s largest lagoon is a breeze.
When it comes to mooring to head off and explore, there are several modern marinas equip to house all types of boat. Hulls less than 15 feet are welcomed everywhere, both in the marina of the Southern Port in Noumea and elsewhere on the Grande Terre (mainland) and islands. Port Moselle Marina, in the capital, accepts boats up to a length of 25 meters and the godfather’s of all boats, the Super Yachts can moor at the Quai des Scientifiques (Scientists Wharf), at the Quai des Paquebots (Cruise liners Wharf) or at the Quai du Musée Maritime (Maritime Museum Wharf).
For a competitive edge
Held yearly in June, the Great Lagoon Regatta attracts sailors from around the world to sail from Noumea through the world’s largest coral reef lagoon to IIot Kouare in the southern lagoon. The regatta circuit has been developed to convey the lagoon’s natural beauty and exquisite marine life. Participants don’t have to be avid sailors to get in amongst the action; this adventure is the perfect combination of nightlife and daytime exploration of the immaculate water views.
For those keen sailors who can’t wait until next year, there is still time to register for the New Caledonia Groupama Race, which kicks off on 19 October, 2014. In its fourth year, the event will once again unite sailors from all corners, in their quest to navigate and maneuver through the blue waters of New Caledonia for three to five days, covering over 1,500km. This is a test of physical and mental endurance as participants fight the urge to kick-back and bask in the sunshine, sipping on French champagne to cross the line first. This year’s event will also include a new virtual regatta element with live skipper, so for those couch sailors this is an opportunity get a taste before signing up next year.
Cruising via catamaran
A catamaran charter is one of the best ways to explore the picturesque sights New Caledonia has to offer. By hiring a catamaran, rookie sailors can embark and travel to as little or as many islands they desire and at their own pace. New Caledonia offers year round sailing conditions, but for catamaraning April to November offer the best sailing conditions with approximately half metre tidal range and negligible currents. For the novice sailor, the Catamaran (the modern cruising cat, built of light weight FRP/foam construction) is said to be virtually unsinkable, so perhaps the best option if the novice caption in the group is questionable.
With its incredible diversity and beauty, deserted islands, reefs, and abundant marine life this South Pacific paradise is a must on any sailors list, whether they are a member of the Australian Sailing or has a thirst for a holiday with a different….cast off this summer in New Caledonia.
For more information on New Caledonia visit www.visitnewcaledonia.com
What’s the best thing about getting married? The excuse to plan a completely indulging, relaxing, once in a lifetime honeymoon of course. Louise Ryan from lastminute.com.au shares her picks of the world’s most unforgettable honeymoon locations.
French Polynesia is what honeymoon dreams are made of and the island of Bora Bora is by far it’s most breathtaking beauty. For the ultimate honeymoon experience stay in a signature overwater bungalow with direct lagoon access. Spend your days basking in the sun, swimming in turquoise waters and watching the sunset on your private bungalow deck.
Choose the Le Meridien Bora Bora Resort and you’ll also be able to spot tropical fish and marine life through your overwater bungalow’s very own glass floor. If you can manage to drag yourself away from your luxe bungalow, test your newlywed nerves with a shark and stingray snorkel safari, or learn how to paddle board on the clear lagoon waters.
This island paradise is perfect for honeymooners who crave a combination of relaxation and adventure. There are plenty of ways to heat up the romance on this laid back island, whether it’s bike riding down a volcano at sunrise, a day trip to nearby Moloka’i Island, snorkelling with the friendly turtles, or learning to surf aloha style off the shores of Lahaina.
The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas on Kaanapali Beach is an ideal place to retreat to at the end of the day, cocktail in hand, watching the sunset from your private ocean view lanai. Or Bliss!
A little closer to home, the newly re-opened One & Only Hayman Island is absolute luxury and the perfect choice for newlyweds who want to stay close to home. After an $80 million facelift, this Whitsunday Island is a bucket list honeymoon destination. Stay in a pool access suite, which gives you direct access into the inviting Hayman Island lagoon style pool from your own balcony.
Spend your early days of marriage relaxing with spa treatments, poolside cocktails, innovative dining, and world class cuisine. For the ultimate in honeymoon romance, take a scenic helicopter flight to the oh so lovely heart reef, the Whitsundays very own love inspired coral composition.
The Maldives is the ideal backdrop to start married life, think breathtaking coral reefs, luxurious bungalow’s and delicious local seafood, the Maldives is about as isolated as you can get. However it is not all about relaxation. If you are the type that likes to get active on holidays, you’re in luck, the Maldives is also renowned as one of the worlds best diving locations.
If you want true seclusion, stay at the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa situated on its own island. Your hardest decision is whether you should choose the overwater bungalow option, or opt for your own ocean pool villa. Either way this destination is honeymoon heaven.
Escape to the spiritual oasis of Uluwatu, a world away from the hustle and bustle of busy Kuta. Lastminute.com.au recommends the ultra indulgent Alila Villas Uluwatu for loved up newlyweds. The Panoramic Indian Ocean views and ultra modern touches make you feel like you’re on the set of a James Bond movie, never a bad thing on an island getaway.
For true indulgence, book one of the contemporary pool villas, where you’ll get your own private plunge pool, luxurious day bed and personal butler. Plus if you aren’t relaxed enough, take part in the villas daily yoga classes. Pure heaven.
For more information or to start planning your dream honeymoon visit www.lastminute.com.au
Dubrovnik is one of the most popular Mediterranean destinations, listed since 1979 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This beautiful walled city overlooking the serene blue Adrian Sea Coast is a magnificent location for a Croatian holiday.
Its charming European character is as clear in person as on a postcard, with year round visitors coming to explore the attractions and marvel at the mouth watering seafood on offer. Dubrovnik attracts A-list celebrities due to its outstanding resorts and hotels, though it does have up-market flair this shouldn’t discourage budget travellers either, with numerous hostels spotted around so everyone can experience its wonder.
Old Town is the most commonly visited place in Dubrovnik; most things worth a look are viewable within, and on top of its walls. The city centre, built within 15th Century fortifications, originally to protect the Croatian people from the Turkish, are now the perfect two-kilometre full circuit walk.
The walk will take you some time to get around the battlements, but you will find food available and adorable stands with local produce being sold on along journey. If you are there in summer, be sure to take your stroll at sunset, not just too avoid the heat during the day but for once in a lifetime photo opportunities as the sun falls onto the water.
Within the walls of Old Town you will find souvenir shops filled with sailor uniforms, a great idea is to grab yourself a captains hat, bottle of one wine and hire a local to drive you to a secluded beach on their boat. For the day, it is not too expensive and if you are unsure where to hire one out, head down to the harbour, where you will instantly see stalls of local Croats’ eager to provide you with an unforgettable day in the sun.
One of the most enjoyable parts of Dubrovnik is the Cliff Bars, known as a Buza, the drinks are refreshing and cheap, and the view will make you speechless. Looking out over the cliffs to the glistening sea is a faultless afternoon, and if you are in need of a cool down, walk along the stone staircase and hop in the crystal water.
This city will literally take your breath away with its natural beauty, impressive man made structures and Dalmatian style cuisine.
By Amy Miller