A Girl's Journey Living in Japan

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Destination Dubai: What To Pack?

Travel gear for the adventurous holidaymaker


There are those who crave the endless rays of the Caribbean sun blazing above the oceans beside a luxury spa; then there are those who revel in the sheer adrenaline rush of a white water rafting expedition in the mountains, or an intrepid hike in the parched deserts and canyons of the great West. For these hardy adventurers, the only requirement is a passion for the great outdoors, a sturdy level of fitness, formidable resilience against the elements, and, of course, top of the range but affordable gear to go with it.


Top up on your tech

It doesn’t matter what kind of sports vacation you are going on; whether heading off to an international tournament to cheer on your favorite team or biking the length of the Appalachian Trail, you’ll want to capture every moment. You’ll need:

Having these in tow will make your experience more streamlined as well as enable you to document your memories. However, don’t take your gadgets without protective gear and the relevant insurance – give yourself peace of mind by making sure they’re covered.

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Sporting gear and clothes

Naturally, the hardcore traveler will want to take their own gear, although renting professional equipment is also a viable option. Skis, snowboards, mountain bikes, kayaks, canoes, and camping equipment can all be found in most resorts and in tourist towns where outdoor sport is a major activity, but clothes are another matter. You don’t want to find yourself searching for a good fit at the last minute; especially for those using compression gear, it’s important to be able to wear your sporting garments a little bit in advance of your trip so that you can adjust accordingly; these are really easy to come by via clearance discounts online and in outlet stores. While it’s not always necessary to have specialist clothing, dedicated outdoor explorers will need something that is comfortable and helps enhance outdoor performance. The last thing you want when embarking on your final trek is to be dealing with discomfort.

Accessorize and plan ahead

Not only do you want to bring the appropriate equipment with you for safeguarding your goods (such as secure cases for cameras), but you should also be aware of how you want to travel with your equipment and how it is protected in case of loss or damage. Once again, consider insurance – whether it is travel insurance, gadget insurance, or some other type of coverage. Check with airlines beforehand regarding baggage requirements; some allow for skis and snowboards to be stored in the cargo under checked baggage or at reasonable rates, while others will charge a hefty fee. Most importantly, make a list and check it twice – and you’ll be all set for the adventure of a lifetime.

Decorating ideas that bring light into any room


Few people want to live in a home that is dark and dingy, but how can you make a home that is rather small and cramped feel light and airy? Fortunately, there are a few interior decorating ideas you can use to bring light into any room.

Decorating tricks

If your room has small dimensions, you will inevitably want to make it both look and feel bigger. To achieve this, you need to start with the walls and decide on a paint color. Dark colors close a room down, while light colors push the walls out and help to bounce light—whether from an artificial source or sunlight—off the walls and back into the room. So choose a light color for the walls, such as a white, cream, light blue or green, rather than dark red, purple or pink.


However, this is not to say there is no place for dark colors in a small room; the trick is to use them sparingly. You could, for example, paint three of the walls in the light color and leave the fourth as a feature wall painted with a strikingly different color. In the bedroom, such a wall works best when it is the one against which the bed is placed. Other rooms may have alcoves or recesses that would take a darker color well.

The next step is to make the most of whatever natural light the room gets. If the room is particularly small, take care not to permanently cover any part of the window, either with furniture or window dressings. This is a good reason not to hang curtains or drapes in a small room or over a small window, for they will block out the light. Alternatives include a roller blind or an adhesive frosted sheet for the window itself, but a far better choice is affordable wooden shutters. These are fitted into or against the window frame, providing complete privacy but allowing you to regulate the amount of light and air that comes into the room.


Next comes decoration in the form of lighting and mirrors. Opposite a window is an excellent place to hang a mirror, as this will reflect light from the window around the room, thereby making the space appear a lot bigger. Use lighting to banish shadowy areas from the room, such as in corners or above fitted furniture. A central light is usually a must, but you can augment this with wall, side, table and alcove lighting.

Finally, review the room’s furniture. Is there simply too much in it? A room full of furniture will appear cluttered and dark, so ask yourself if that side table is really necessary and whether you need that footstool or extra chair. Once you have reduced the amount of furniture, the room will feel naturally larger and airier.

Cramped and badly lit rooms can become light and airy with a fresh color palette on the walls, clever positioning of wall mirrors and lighting, and a good clear-out of unnecessary furniture.

Recent Study Shows People More Likely to Misbehave on Holiday


It looks like Brits are using holidays as the perfect time to misbehave, as proven by a recent study which polled over 1000 adults in the UK. 51% of these people said that they consider a holiday to be the perfect tie to try something new and step outside of their comfort zone.

Into the Blue have carried out some research which shows that Brits are more likely to try something adventurous whilst on holiday (you can read more about this here: http://www.travelcampaigner.com/brits-are-more-likely-to-try-new-things-when-on-holiday/)

These were people of all age groups and backgrounds, with most admitting that they often engage in riskier behaviour while abroad. 49% said they’re more likely to try the local food, and cuisine they haven’t tried before, and 37% of those polled said that they usually visit local attractions and points of interest located further afield when they’re traveling.


There are ways to have fun without going crazy, and 26% of people said they like to try water sports like surfing, diving, and jet skiing, while 18% prefer slightly more extreme sports like bungee jumping, climbing, and skydiving.

Unfortunately, 9% of people also said they were more likely to engage in risky behaviour which could have real consequences. This includes being more likely to trust strangers, which is always nice to do when travelling, but we should remember that when we’re tourists we also often have a giant dollar sign painted on our back, especially in developing countries where an iPhone could feed a family for a few months.

These people also said they would be more likely to take risks, and 8% said they would get a tattoo. This is particularly popular among the younger backpacker crowd, and as long as you can check reviews and see how clean the tattoo parlour is, you’ll have a memento from this trip forever.

Travel is by its very definition about new experiences, stepping outside of your comfort zone, and doing things you wouldn’t necessarily do at home is one way to do this, and you’ll often find yourself becoming more adventurous in general, and more likely to try new things at home as well.


Some of my best experiences have been when I opened myself up to new things, and while I may regret trying a certain dish in Myanmar, at least I have a funny story to tell, and the certainty that no matter what I eat in the future, it’s unlikely to be as bad as that.

And sometimes opening ourselves up to adventure and stepping outside of our comfort zones means making friends with people who you wouldn’t necessarily be friends with at home. It means walking up to a group of people, introducing yourself, and ending up with friends for life. When you’re travelling relationships can often mean more, as you probably won’t know when you’ll be seeing those people again.



All the fun of Orlando


Some destinations simply scream fun, and no doubt at the top of that list is Orlando, Florida’s sunshine destination with added scream and laughs to boot.

Every child the world over dreams of meeting Mickey and Minnie Mouse, no matter how much they deny it, and even if they don’t admit to that, the roller coasters and splash fun calls out to youngsters and big kids alike. It’s no wonder Orlando is the world’s number one destination for family holidays.


Flying long haul of course has its downsides, but when you focus on the destination you’re much more likely to arrive feeling less like you’ve been sat in a tin can for hours on end. Make sure you cover all bases for your travel to keep your mind firmly at rest, such as organising your family travel insurance well ahead of time. One less thing to worry about means a much more fun-filled holiday for you and your brood!

A holiday to Orlando won’t be a restful affair, and it’s always a good idea to plan ahead on where you’re going to go and when, so you don’t miss out on anything. For instance, certain parks have firework displays on certain days, and if you want to see them you need to be aware of the timetable. Head online and get all the up to date information before you go, and make yourself a rough itinerary if you can; you don’t have to be rigid about it, but at least knowing which parks you’re going to on which days will help you grab every last second of fun from your time away.


If you’re concerned about the amount of time you’re going to spend queueing for popular rides in the parks, make sure you take advantage of the Fast Pass systems in place, which allow you to book an allocated slot to return to the ride, without the need for queueing. You are allowed a certain number of these per day, so use them wisely! Another tip is to go to popular rides during the parade times, as you’ll find the lines dwindle dramatically during these times, and then shoot back up again once the parades have finished; the same can be said for queues in the restaurants!

Giving yourself a pool day in the middle of your holiday is the best way to recharge the batteries and help your body cope with the strains of a high energy holiday such as this, but once you arrive, you’ll be more than happy to throw yourself into the fast-paced and fun atmosphere that is Orlando.

Bringing your travel home: Japanese-inspired ideas for the home


When you travel, you build many great memories that you want to last forever. What better way to remember your great trip than using that cultural style in your own home? For those that love the art and sleek style of Japan, here are some ideas for getting the look in your own home.

White walls and wood accents for all rooms

In Japan, you see a lot of wood or bamboo accenting white or very light walls. If you already have white walls, then think about adding a beautiful bookshelf made from wood. Redoing window trims in a wood tone can make the look more complete.


Sliding doors and screens

There are many advantages to sliding doors and screens. While they exhibit classic Japanese style, they can also be used in spaces where normal doors cannot work because there is not enough clearance. These doors are usually always light coloured with wood-toned frames. Light behind a screen or sliding door glows beautifully and makes for great indirect lighting and ambience.

Bamboo: renewable and beautiful

Bamboo is extremely versatile. Picture and mirror frames can be beautiful when made from bamboo. This is a great way to add Japanese style for those that want to conserve space. Bamboo ladders can be great for hanging clothes or blankets on for easy access.

Reinvent the den with a meditation space

If you are lucky enough to have an extra room for relaxing, then you have potential for a great Japanese-inspired space to relax and rejuvenate. A small square table that sets low with comfortable cushions can be a great place to meditate, read a book, or have tea. A small water feature placed on a shelf can add the sound of nature to your home. This space can also be used as a yoga or Pilates room. A zen-like space can help you unwind and have better health and focus throughout the day.


Inspired lighting solutions

Japanese-inspired lanterns can add soft and pleasing light to a room. Many just plug into existing outlets, so they are a good choice for adding lighting to a room without the hassle of a hardwired fixture installation. Lights made to look like real candles can add some vintage Japanese style, and provide soft and pleasing light that can be used to accent favourite objects or light alcoves.

Highlight nature

The Japanese appreciate nature, and this is reflected in their interior design. House plants can help you bring nature indoors and add beauty to your home. Flowering plants can be especially nice. For an authentic look, try to grow some orchids or bonsai trees. Violets are easy to grow and add a lot of colour. Artwork can also help to create an authentic look. A painting of a flowering cherry tree with the beautiful mountains of Japan in the background or a framed photo that you took in the Japanese countryside can look great on a bedroom or living room wall.


Why your First Solo Trip should be to Thailand


Traveling solo is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. While traveling with a partner means you’ll have someone to take photos with, the fact is, solo travel opens you up to meeting new people and means you never have to compromise. You can always travel exactly where you want to go and when it comes to Thailand those options are endless. There’s just so many places to visit and things to see and do, where you visit on your multi-stop journey around Thailand is solely down to you.

For many, solo travel can be an intimidating thought. What if something goes wrong? But the fact is, every time you manage to get out of a tricky situation by yourself you’ll gain confidence and self-reliance, and realise that there really is nothing you can’t
handle. Of course, surprise expenses such as a holiday illness claim can put a real damper on your travel. Be prepared with insurance!

Thailand is the perfect place for the first-time solo traveller. The country is built on tourism, and there is a well-worn tourist trail, along with plenty of backpackers who will be doing the same as you, and who will give you advice. In fact there are so many solo travellers in Thailand that it’s not uncommon to spend your days visiting tourist sites with a bunch of friends you’ve just met, and it’s harder to actually find time to be alone.

Thailand is a country of culture, amazing food, and incredible sights. Here are just a few of the reasons why your first solo trip should be to Thailand:


The Food

If you say you like Thai food, but you’ve never eaten it in Thailand, you don’t know what you’re missing out on. The flavours, the fresh food, and the cheap price combine to make it one of the best places for foodies to visit. Where else can you get a curry and a smoothie for less than $3?

The Weather

If you’re planning to escape winter on your trip, why not update your Facebook with incredible pictures of pristine beaches, and blue-green water. The fact is, the weather in Thailand is always warm, and if you go outside of the wet season you’ll also be escaping most of the humidity.

The Locals

The Thais are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. If you’re in trouble they will help you out, and will often greet you with a smile and a hug when you’re returning years later. Thailand has a low crime rate, especially against foreigners, and while you may not be able to communicate, the Thai’s will usually be able to interpret your sign language.


Its a good first-stop

If you’re planning to do a larger trip through Southeast Asia, Thailand is the perfect place to start. The country is different and interesting without being overwhelming, and you can still find all of the comforts of home. You’ll also find that flights and buses between nearby countries are dirt cheap.

The International feel

Thailand is a country where you can stay off the beaten path, or make plenty of friends with other foreigners. With so many tourists visiting, and expats living here, you’ll find plenty of global food chains, Hollywood movies, and international restaurants. You’ll also be chatting to people from around the world, and may make friends for life.

Stress? What stress?


Stress-free travel is possible – yes, really! You might think I’m playing a joke here, but it is possible to cut out the parts of your travel day which make your hair stand on end, when you think you simply can’t take a second more of the waiting. The answer? Patience, distraction, and a few tweaks here and there. It’s simple!

The first port of call should be looking at how you get to the airport. I find public transport to the airport stressful, usually because I have a massive suitcase, hand luggage, I’m trying not to be late, and the bus or train I’m on is busy, or taking too long. You don’t need this extra worry, you should be enjoying every single second of your travel day. To get rid of this stress I decided to use Airparks to book an on-site parking space, and drive down there myself, having a nice leisurely journey. You can find this service at most large UK airports, and my Stansted parkingspot certainly saved me money when compared to costly public transport. Money saved and stress saved – it’s a double whammy!


Once you’re at the airport, you need to stay focused on your end destination, and not get caught up in the waiting. Yes, there are crowds, yes, there are queues, and yes, you have to wait a while, but you can easily distract yourself from all that. Why not head for a drink in a bar, or a meal in a restaurant? Treat yourself to your favourite perfume or aftershave at Duty Free, or relax in one of those airport massage chairs we all love to get rid of our small change in. There are ways to cut out the waiting, simply make sure you keep one eye on the screens, so you don’t miss your gate number and final boarding call!

If you really don’t like the idea of waiting around in the departure lounge, how about booking some time in the airport lounge? This is available at most large airports too, and you can kick back and relax in peace and quiet, without having your toes run over by cabin bags! Refreshments and snacks are usually included in the price, so you can save a little here too, as you’ll no doubt spend a fair bit in the airport, trying to pass the time. The cost could work out cheaper, so do look into this idea if you prefer to relax a little pre-flight.

Of course, once you’re in the air, the waiting continues but you can distract yourself with a film, a snack, music, a book, or some games. Before you know it, your flight will be descending into your arrival airport, and the fun can really begin!

Pack it up!


Packing is not a fun experience, there’s no denying that fact. If you enjoy the experiencing of cramming your belongings into a suitcase that is no way big enough, then please feel free to come and do my packing the next time I go away! I hate packing, in fact, I would much rather pay someone to do it, but needs must!

Despite that, I found a way to cut down on the stress of packing and save money too, which in my world is a major bonus! You might think I’ve gone crazy, but have you ever tried travelling on holiday with just hand luggage?

No, I am sane, hear me out!


Provided you’re not going away for longer than a week maximum, and provided you book with an airline who offer a generous hand luggage allowance, like 10kg, then you should be able to be ruthless enough to pack a capsule wardrobe, if you wear your heaviest clothes and buy your toiletries at the airport. It can be done, I’ve done it!

Combine this with a cheap flight and you’re saving money before you even jet off. I found a bargain flight recently, but unfortunately it wasn’t from my local airport. I didn’t let this put me off, and instead I got a bargain deal on a night at one of the Gatwick Airport hotels from Holiday Extras, and it all still worked out cheaper than my regional airport. Bargain!

I wouldn’t let travelling to a different airport put you off booking, because really if it all adds up to still be cheaper, it’s false economy to stick with what you know. You will find hotel facilities at most large UK airports, so somewhere to sleep if need be is never a problem. Go on, be a little adventurous and see how much money you could save!


Don’t forget to insure all your bargain holiday plans ahead of time. Personally I’d always go for an annual multi-trip insurance policy, because it’s done at the start of the year, and it’s one less thing to worry about every time you book a holiday during those 12 months. Just remember to check that your destination fits in with your policy, and you’re sorted!

These ideas for saving money might seem like a lot of extra hassle, but it only seems that way because you’ve probably never done it before. I am the world’s worst for travelling heavily, and if I can pack that capsule wardrobe and venture off to a new airport I’ve never visited before, then believe me, anyone can!

Top Things To Do In Koh Samui, Thailand


Koh Samui is the 3rd largest island in Thailand and it was discovered by the first Western tourists only in the 1970’s. Back then there were only a few huts in the coconut groves and a few fishermen around. Miles of white sand, green valleys, beautiful waterfalls and coconut trees were something like out of the ‘Bounty” commercial. After that the island underwent a huge and rapid development project, with the result that after a little over 3 decades, it can compete with Phuket and Pattaya.


One of the most fun and exciting things to do on Koh Samui is visiting the Fisherman’s Village, especially on a Friday, when the market takes place on its main street. This is the day when from 6pm the village comes to live, fills up with tourists, locals and street vendors, who will sell you a mojito in a plastic cup for $2 and cook a Pad Thai in front of your eyes for $1. Here you can find everything from hand-made souvenirs to organic curry paste, to shorts, fried crickets, live performances, and exotic jewelry. On other days you can come here to enjoy a dinner by the sea. Continue reading →