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Daily Life, Travel Tips

Packing A Capsule Travel Wardrobe For One Month in Europe

August 22, 2017

Over the years I’ve become pretty minimalist at everything, including packing. Although I packed pretty light for Bali I took the whole kit and kaboodle of toiletries (including my own pillow). Having said that over six weeks there were still things that I didn’t want to wear, and of course I bought some dresses and lived in them! Packing for Europe is different. We are getting on trains, planes and automobiles and I didn’t want to be carrying a heap of things around with me, getting annoyed life and whining at The Ginger Hunk. We had to pack for summer in Cephalonia and Rome (20 – 30 degrees) and cooler weather in the Dolomites (22 during the day but down to 10 degrees at night). I wanted to pack smart and light but I didn’t want to look like a backpacker because I shall be meeting people and doing Hotels With Cats things. Hence the need for the travel wardrobe overhaul.

I took inspiration at Nikki from Styling You from her capsule wardrobe post about travelling in Europe and did a couple of things in advance. I overhauled my wardrobe and threw out a lot of things that didn’t go with anything, didn’t fit anymore, and bought quality items in a colour scheme from designers that I love, that I knew would LAST and most importantly that I felt GREAT in. *I’m no fashionista by the way. Just your simple, sporty, size 12 woman wanting to be comfortable and look good whilst travelling. As you can see I like stripes, black and grey and I stuck to this in my purchasing plan. Here’s a few things I bought prior to designing my travel wardrobe (no sponsorship here just a public service announcement!). I also bought a few scarves from second hand shops, and some walking shoes from Joya (which are awesome). 

Boden Clothing Double Layer Front Vest $34 (Image Credit Boden Clothing)

J Crew Vintage Andiamo T-Shirt $49, (Image Credit JCrew)

Bamboo Body Cashmere Wool Travel Wrap $109 from The Iconic. (Image from @ The Iconic)

Anyhow after the purchase of said items I tried to look at my whole wardrobe as a mix and match feast. No fashion blogger am I said I  ever. HOWEVER, I have realised such useful things while packing my travel wardrobe and purchasing clothing in general in recent times that I shall share with you all.  Continue Reading…

Travel Tips, Vietnam


January 16, 2017

I may be a travel writer, but I’m not a snob. I’ve stayed in all sorts of places over the years;  from 5-star hotels, to private villas and guesthouses. I recognise great service when I see it. What I’ve realised over years of travel is that all the frills and gold in the world can’t make up for poor service, or what is sometimes worse, over service.

Some beautiful hotels have been ruined for me, when I’ve found the service fake, or at the other extreme I’ve been left feeling like a pest when I’ve asked for help. On our recent trip to Vietnam in September, we were blown away by the customer service and friendly open attitude we received everywhere, from the tailor, to the cooking course, to the guide hosting our vespa tour. The stand out experience by far was our stay by the riverside at Hotel Royal Hoi An MGallery By Sofitel. I was left thinking about what made this hotel so different to others I have stayed at, (sometimes with similar amenities), and for me it comes down to the service.

Here are four things that I’ve deemed essential in creating a great guest experience:

1. Communicate Like A Real Human

There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re being served by a robot or hearing the same lines repeated to guests during a stay in a lovely hotel. I’m myself no matter what environment I’m in, so I like a friendly yet professional approach from staff. I want to feel like I’m being served by real people and personalities. I love hearing local stories, favourite restaurants and markets tips from staff (it’s how you find all the good stuff!) What I loved about the service at Hotel Royal is that the staff were not afraid to stop and chat with us during our stay, sharing stories about local festivals and snippets of their own family traditions. On a quiet night near the river bar, we even had a bit of fun with the bar staff making up cocktails being encouraged to try their new signature one – “Scent of Tra Que”, a refreshing mix of pennywort, lime, Midori and vanilla syrup, which went down a treat.

2. Take Care Of The Little Things

When you’re on holiday you don’t want to think about the details. Details are annoying. (Why think of details when you could be shopping, or cocktail sipping, or achieving some bucket list dream!) I was astounded that there were so many little things taken care of that we didn’t have to organise ourselves. Our tailored clothes were delivered straight to our room. The beds were turned down for us every night. Local pennywort juice was waiting for us on arrival, and on our early morning (5am) final departure, a breakfast box full of warm pastries was prepared for our journey to the airport. It was as if we were being sent off with love.

Continue Reading…

Travel Tips

Webjet Giveaway & 8 Ways to Save on Travel

September 19, 2016

So…I’ve just been on holidays and we thought you should have one too!  I’ve partnered with the lovely folks over at Webjet to deliver this post and we have a $150 voucher to give away to the person who shares the best travel tip in the comments below.

But first, here are my top 8 ways to save on travel!

Travel out of peak season

This can’t always be avoided, as sometimes work determines when you take your holidays, but where ever you can, travel out of peak season. The Ginger Hunk and I often take holidays on the shoulder season, so in February, after Christmas Holidays, or November, just before school breaks up. Recently, we took a chance going to Vietnam in the ‘rainy’ season. Not only were our rooms upgraded, but the hotel was very quiet, and we were fussed over like celebrities. Yes it rained a little, but it never stopped us from doing anything, and we saved a fortune!


Compare, compare and compare your flights

It’s never been easier to take matters into your own hand and be your own travel agent. Booking and comparing flights yourself directly will save you  a  tonne of money, and your itinerary does not have to be determined by affiliated airlines. Using a site such as Zuji, can allow you to search and compare flights and be your own boss. If the timing is right, you can save yourself a little extra dosh by looking out for specials. For example, if you book in the next four days, Zuji is offering an extra $25 off flights to NZ.  Continue Reading…

Relationships, Travel Tips

4 Reasons to travel with your grown-up family

August 29, 2016

September is rolling around quickly, and so it is the long awaited fabulous and forty trip to Vietnam with my sister. I’m a little nervous, having not been on a solo trip with my sister, for… well forever. We went to Croatia with our significant others in 2007, but a lot of things have happened since then. Babies, marriages, new careers, dealing with ageing parents. We have had one on one time of course, but not for long, and  it is always for an occasion. I’m looking forward to just being and chilling with her with no real plans. Earlier this year, I went to Bali with my almost 70 year old Dad in June, which was very special indeed. Here are 4 reasons you should consider travelling with your grown up family.

1.  You’ll never have this time again

One thing I have realised in recent times is that life is short and unpredictable. Anything can happen just around the corner. Travelling with your parents or brother/sister as adults cherishes the time we have now, and the journey you have taken on your relationship to where you are now. Health, children, cats, and this thing we call life can throw a spanner in the works at any time. We are all pressured in this busy, busy life. If you have the opportunity to take the time out with your family, then do it.   

2. You can show them what you love (and vice versa)

Coming together as grown ups isn’t the same as being dragged around on a trip with your parents when you’re a kid. You can make your own decisions about the activities you want to do. You have time to enjoy, share and learn about each others passions and interests. When my Dad came with me to Bali, he was adamant he wasn’t going to watch me do this thing called freediving. With a little coaxing from my instructor, Dad came out to the line with us, had a go himself, and got to 15m on his first try. (Show off.) He also learned why I like it, and after watching has declared to my mum that it is not as dangerous as it seems.  Continue Reading…

Relationships, Travel Tips

The benefits of solo travel when you’re in a relationship

November 25, 2015

I haven’t travelled solo, truly solo since I was 22. Off I went, backpacking around Asia, not a smart phone in sight. Back in the day you sat in a cafe with your journal, or a book, (or god-forbid you actually sat down and talked to other people.) Since then, I have been in relationships so I have always travelled with someone else. When travelling as a couple, you feel much safer. You have your dependable other half, to share experiences with, laugh with, and navigate together through tricky situations.

But at the ripe old age of 34, I have found myself travelling solo and am seeing the benefits of solo travel when you’re in a relationship.

You will learn to trust yourself 

I am a frequent checker of things with my other half when travelling. “where are my keys?” or “have you got your passport?” or “where are my shoes?” and the list goes on. Sometimes I am like a talkback radio. (It drives The Ginger Hunk crazy.) Flying solo, I am responsible for myself, my belongings, and my whereabouts. Sure, there have been a few mishaps, I got lost, I needed to navigate myself to the clinic for an injury and freaked myself out when I forgot my torch. These are probably previous tasks that I would have delegated to my ‘other half ‘ to organise for me or wanted to rely on heavily for support.

You will meet new people 

When you’re in a couple, people assume that you are happy in your bubble, and that you do not need to meet other humans. This is simply not true. The Ginger Hunk and I always ‘pick up people’ when we are travelling, and usually come away from each adventure with a new friend. Having said that, I’ve noticed when you’re travelling solo, people are more likely to strike up a conversation. I’ve chatted to a couple at dinner, been invited to coffee after yoga an a women’s circle. All experiences that I would have missed with my other half in tow. You’re more likely to give a ‘talk to me’ vibe, when you’re alone (unless you have resting bitch face.)

You will gain confidence 

I would never go and sit in the middle of a restaurant in Sydney solo. I would order take out.  Not here. I want to go to that cocktail bar with a cool pool. I want to have a sunset dinner overlooking the rice fields. And so I go. Alone. Without waiting for a friend or partner, you’re forced to go out and do the things you want to do. Otherwise it is quite simple, you will miss out on these once in a lifetime experiences (and no one wants that!).

You can do whatever you want, whenever you want 

The Ginger Hunk is more of a chiller while travelling (unless it involves paragliding). I like to fill my days up. I’ve started my routine here with yoga before breakfast, before spending the morning writing, then some kind of activity in the afternoon, another yoga and dinner somewhere else. I have been in and out of my room all day long. I love my Ginger Hunk but I am not going to lie, I pack more into my days without him. I’ve also been eating vegetarian again which I am loving, and had a three-hour shopping excursion with no restriction.

You will appreciate your partner more 

When you get that ‘wow this is awesome’ feeling you also get that little pang in your chest of missing your other half and wanting them to share the moment too! They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and it does. Being apart from someone you loves makes you think of all the reasons you love and miss them as well as what you appreciate about them. Having independent experiences and adventures gives you loads to share over that next bottle of bubbles. (Which for me, will be on Sunday!)

Happy travels! 

Ashleigh XXX


Bali, Health & Wellbeing, Travel Tips

Five reasons to go on retreat in Bali

September 22, 2015

I have just returned from five glorious days at Bali Bliss Retreats. A retreat in Bali (or anywhere for that matter) should go on everyone’s bucket list. (Even better, every year if you can make it happen!) Whether you’re travelling on your own or going with a friend here are five reasons you should go on retreat:


1. You will really (really) relax

How many holidays do you spend racing around? Do you come back feeling more exhausted?

The notion of a holiday used to be to ‘retreat’. Now we make our holidays busier than our lives.

Taking five days out on retreat, away from your phone, booze and itineraries, will make you truly, truly relax.


2. You will reap the benefits of yoga

Yoga is for everyone. I repeat. Yoga is for everyone. You don’t have to be a yogi a hard-core devotee to benefit from a retreat.

Yoga increases flexibility, muscle strength, mindfulness and concentration, bone health and much more.

More importantly, every sequence has options, so you can take it easy, or as hard as you like.

A good teacher will guide what is best for you.

1509-Bali_Bliss-9485 3. You will make new friends

Look at this bunch. Mothers, daughters and solo travellers from Canada, Australia and Sweden.

If you’re anxious about travelling alone or don’t have someone to go on a retreat with, my advice would be to just do it!

(You won’t be alone for long!)


4. You will eat great (healthy) food 

The best part of a retreat? You don’t have to think about anything, including the food.

Check out the array of beautiful Balinese fruit, juices and muesli on the table.

A retreat will take you back to basics (good clean food) and remind you that this type of eating isn’t boring at all.


5. You will get outside your comfort zone 

Who would have thought I could fly?

By following a program of clean eating, activity (the fun kind), and trying new things you will get outside your comfort zone.

(Which is where all the fun happens.)

So what are you waiting for?

The fine print

Bali Bliss Retreats run on the below dates:

3-7 October 2015
7-11 November 2015
16-10 April 2016
21-25 May 2016
18-22 June 2016
3-7 September 2016
1-5 October 2016
5-9 November 2016

Packages and pricing can be found out here.

Or email


 Ashleigh XXX

Image Credit: James Mills Photography