Month: September 2019

Things to Do in Cairns (That You Might Not Know About!)

Ah, Cairns. My beautiful home! I love living in such a stunning part of the world. Although we locals often take Cairns for granted there’s really nowhere else like it! We’ve got the countryside for camping on long weekends, we’ve got the Great Barrier Reef for island days in summer, and we’ve got the city centre for food and entertainment in between – we’re a lucky bunch. These are a few of my favourite things to do in Cairns that you might not know about!

See a show at Paramour Cabaret Theatre
Now this might be a little biased as I’m actually a performer at Paramour, but I swear it’s more than worth going to! It is the only permanent cabaret in Cairns and all of the performers are local! Paramour creates and performs unique cabaret variety shows often including singers, dancers, drag queens, burlesque dancers, aerial artists, and more! They also host comedy nights and improv nights, they have a tapas menu available, and a fully stocked bar. It’s a great choice for an 18+ night on the town!

Paramour Cabaret Theatre is located underneath the Cairns Reef Hotel Casino.


Camping at the Mareeba Drive-in

Going to the Mareeba Drive-in is my all-time favourite thing to do, hands down. If I could go every single weekend I would! I found my love of it after Ethan and I decided to go together for date night two years ago. We piled pillows and blankets into the back of my car so we could lay down and we ran my car battery dry using the car radio for sound. We had to get the car jumpstarted to get home, but it didn’t put a dampener on our experience! We loved it so much that we kept going and going and going and now we go every time we have a free Friday or Saturday night! We’ve since moved on to a double camping swag and bluetooth radio though, so you can tell we take it seriously.

If you’re visiting Cairns – or you’re a local and haven’t been! – we highly recommend going to the drive-in. I tell anyone who will listen all about it. It’s a family owned and operated business, it’s on every Friday and Saturday night, it’s $14 entry, and you get to watch two new release films back to back with a short break in between. You can camp for free on movie nights too! They also have an amaaaaazing canteen with super delicious food. We never spend more than $60 total when we go – talk about a cheap but awesome date night! The Mareeba Drive-in is located in Mareeba (of course) which is roughly a one hour drive from Cairns city.

Catch some professional wrestling at a Pro Wrestling Power show
You read that right! Professional WWE style wrestling is alive and well here in Cairns! The team at Pro Wrestling Power put on a show once a month for their fans and let me tell you… It. Is. Wild.

I had never seen wrestling before going to a PWP show and now I love it! I get so caught up in all the different storylines and the display of athleticism from the wrestlers is incredible! My personal favourite is E10! (Yes, he may be my boyfriend, but he’s also just genuinely phenomenal at what he does! He’s a real crowd pleaser.)


Enjoy a hike up to the Glacier Rock Lookout
I’ve actually written a pretty comprehensive post about this hike, so definitely check that out if you’re thinking about giving it a go! I would highly recommend it. It’s easily one of the best hikes in Cairns for a beginner to see a beautiful view.

Alternatively, if this hike is to long for your liking, the Red Arrow track on Mt Whitfield or the Earl Hill track out at Trinity Beach are also great options!


Visit Fitzroy Island
Out of everything I’ve listed, this is probably the most typical! However, in saying that, when I speak to people who are visiting Cairns they often tell me that they’re going to Green Island. Green Island is beautiful, but my personal favourite is Fitzroy Island. It’s less likely that a tourist will go to Fitzroy because they just don’t seem to be told about it – at least not in the same capacity that they’re told about Green Island! Do yourself a favour and see the beauty of Fitzroy Island for yourself. You won’t regret it.

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Let me know if you do (or have done!) any of the things on these list in the comments!

Katie

5 Ways to Travel With No Regrets

I am all about stepping outside of my comfort zone and getting the most out of my life. I don’t want to get older and start to realise that I didn’t do the things that would make me most happy but then not have the time, means, or ability to go out and do those things. When I travel, this philosophy of mine is what guides me in every decision I make. I don’t want anyone to have regrets, especially not when it comes to travel, so here are my top 5 tips to travelling with no regrets!

1 | Eat. Everything.
It might be crazy to some, but this is probably my biggest tip – and for good reason! When we travel we immerse ourselves in another culture. But how can you truly immerse yourself in another culture if you’re eating the same food that you would back home? Eating everything I’m offered (within reason… stay safe people!) has armed me with some of the best travel stories I have! I get to say I’ve eaten a scorpion on Khao San Road and washed it down with Thai beer, I’ve eaten a tarantula dipped in sriracha sauce as an entree in Cambodia, and I’ve eaten frogs legs and snails in a restaurant just off the Champs-Élysées in Paris. I LOVE that I can say all of that. It makes me proud.

From doing this, I’ve also found hundreds of new foods that I now enjoy eating on the regular! For example, I tried Japanese curry for the first time when I was in Osaka and I loved it so much that I started looking for it when I got home. The same thing happened with Poffertjes in Amsterdam. Yuuummmm.

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2 | Push yourself
When I’m home, if I have nowhere to be and no alarm set, I can easily sleep in until midday. When I am travelling, however, I’m a completely different person. Rain, hail, shine, sick, well, exhausted, sore, grumpy, happy – whatever! I will always get up early and make the most of the day I have wherever I am.

Waking up early is just one of the ways I push myself when travelling. I also make sure to do all of the “must do” things no matter the circumstances, whether that be hiking up the 463 super steep stairs to the top of Brunelleschi’s Dome in Florence the morning after spending all night at a karaoke bar, or going on a two hour early morning walking tour of Berlin on New Year’s Day after spending the hours prior merrily ringing in the New Year at the Brandenburg Gate party.

The way I look at it, the odds of getting to do any of those things again any time soon (if ever!) are slim to none. So push yourself to get it all done while you have the opportunity and you’ll be grateful that you did. Look after yourself and know your limits, but don’t live with regrets. You WILL be okay with less than 6 hours sleep just this one time.

3 | Don’t overpack!
This is a big one! I know how it goes… “what if I have to go to a fancy party? What if we get invited to a wedding? What if I meet a prince!?” What if is very dangerous when it comes to packing. Remember – most places in the world have stores that you can buy things from if such an occasion were to pop up. But most of the time you won’t need half the things you bring, let alone your six inch stilettos or curling iron. Besides, you don’t want to be in the position where you can’t even fit in the souvenirs you really want to buy, do you? You’ll thank yourself later for packing light.

4 | Take the photo or don’t – do what makes YOU happy!
With the rise of social media, more and more people are feeling the pressure to get an “insta-worthy” shot of everything they do, especially their travels. If that isn’t your thing, and you’d much prefer to switch all electronics off and just enjoy the view with your eyes – do it.

Personally, I love taking photos and videos and it’s really important to me that I do it. Even though it makes me so happy, I’ve still heard people say variations of “you’ll miss the moment if you’re always behind the camera!”. Oh, how wrong they are! My travel videos are my little slices of heaven. Whenever I’m upset I watch them until I feel better. I will never forget the specific way each magical moment happened because of them. I can use these videos to remember my adventures for the rest of my life.

This works for me, but it might not work for you. The point of this tip is to use technology the way YOU want to while you travel and don’t let people make you feel one way or the other.

You can check out my travel videos from the last three years here: Asia, USA, and Europe.

5 | Take charge of your own itinerary!
Don’t follow other people around just because they are who you’re travelling with. If your group is doing something you don’t care much for and you’re going to miss out on doing something you REALLY care about if you go with them – don’t go! Find your own adventure! There is no rule that says you must do what everyone else is doing. You might feel bad, like you’re ditching your group, but don’t think of it that way. Just remember that everyone saved for this trip and everyone has their own hopes for how the trip will go and what they will do.

The only reason I would advise against this is if there are safety concerns with you doing something on your own. For example, if you’re hiking to Everest Base Camp with a tour group and you’ve never done a big trek before… I’d probably recommend staying with your group rather than racing ahead.

What I’m talking about is when everyone is going to see the Statue of Liberty and all you want to do is catch the matinee show of Hamilton on Broadway because it miraculously has tickets available! Wave to Lady Liberty from afar, get those tickets, and do your thing!

I’ve done my own thing countless times on trips I’ve been on, and I’ve never regretted it once. One time I even stayed home from Disney World just to do my laundry and go to the hotel gym for some much needed exercise! (Granted, it would’ve been the fifth day in a row I had been to a theme park, but still… Disney!) I made that choice because it was what I really wanted do at the time. Always choose what you really want and you’ll be on your way to avoiding travel regret.

 

Katie

How to Pack Light for One Month in Europe – Winter Edition

Packing light is a difficult task. If you’re born with the ability – congratulations! You are one of the lucky few. Most people, in my opinion, have to learn the art form of packing light over time. I’ve been learning for over a decade and I’m only just beginning to get the hang of it!

When we went to Europe I was adamant that I wanted to pack as lightly as I possibly could. We were going for a month in the heart of winter but I didn’t care… I knew it could be done! So, this is what I packed to end up with just 9.5kg of luggage:

MY CHECKED BAG – 7kg
I used my Osprey Fairview 55 for this trip and Ethan used his Osprey Farpoint 55. Same bag really, but the Fairview is optimised to be more comfortable when sitting on a woman’s hips. The 55 is actually just the 40 litre pack with a 15 litre removable day pack clipped to the front. It is carry on size if needed but we checked ours and used the day packs as our carry on. This was my first trip using a backpacking pack instead of a regular suitcase and I loved it! Packing cubes were a must to keep everything organised, but I use them all the time anyway! They’re the holy grail of packing after all!

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INSIDE THE BAG:

2 x Long Pants – I went with two of my Freddy “jeans”. I know that real denim can get very uncomfortable in winter climates because it doesn’t work very well at keeping heat in. I choose my Freddy’s because they’re made of jersey cotton and elastane. They are super stretchy so I knew I could easily wear thermals or other layers underneath them, but they’re also a stylish skinny jean style that goes with everything. I brought one plain black pair and one pair that looks exactly like denim.

1 x Fleece Lined Stockings – These are my FAVOURITE when it comes to winter travel! I found them in a H&M in Japan and they are awesome for wearing underneath everything! So warm and cosy.

1 x Leggings – I used a pair of Gymshark leggings as an under layer instead of proper thermals. It just works better for me! They’re super high waisted to they kept more of my body warm, and again, they could fit under my regular pants.

3 x Base Shirts – Long sleeved thermal shirts from Macpac. Pretty self explanatory! I wore one every single day. They are awesome, and they come in nice colours so it didn’t matter if people saw them. I often took everything else off and just had them on and they were perfect.

1 x Down Vest – I got a super lightweight down vest from Macpac which came with it’s own carry case. Really warm to wear (with really deep pockets which were great for valuables!) and it packs down into a little tiny ball. I bought it in a gorgeous deep pink colour!

2 x Beanie and 3 x Scarf – I know you’re probably thinking I could’ve just packed one of each to save even more room… but because my clothes were so plain, this is what I used to make my outfits look different! Plus, half the time it was so cold that I was wearing at least two scarves anyway, so it worked out for the best!

3 x Socks – I had two pairs of Merino socks (which are so warm and soft, they are amazing!) and one pair of regular socks. I reeeeally regret not packing more socks because we didn’t have as many opportunities to wash as we thought we would.  If I had my time over, I’d probably pack at least six pairs! You’re wearing the same shoes every day for a month… think about this wisely!

1 x Pajamas – just a simple t-shirt and shorts was all I needed to sleep in each night. I was never in them long enough for them to get dirty, plus it was never warm enough to sweat so they stayed clean!

1 x Sneakers – I packed my heavy winter boots because I had so much room and weight to play with, and I wore my comfy Adidas Superstar every day shoes on the plane.

Underwear – I only brought sports bras (four of them) because I hate regular bras and didn’t see any need to bring one when I wasn’t going to be wearing anything that required one. My sports bras are seamless and lightweight so they were a great choice. I brought 12 or so pairs of underwear though, and I washed these in the shower as I needed to. Easy done!

Toiletries – In the toiletries bag I had my contacts and contact solution, Codral Cold & Flu tablets, vitamin C tablets, a shampoo bar, some conditioner, a razor, two bottles of hand sanitizer, and some very basic makeup (tinted moisturiser, concealer, mascara, and blush). And that’s all! I don’t wear much makeup normally, and I always get my eyelash extensions done when I go away so I save a lot of room in this department!

MY CARRY ON – 2.5kg
This is where I used the detachable day pack! I’m going to go through all of this one in dot points as it’s all quite straightforward, but please feel free to comment with any questions. 

  • Passport (plus photocopies of passport, ID, licence etc printed AND in Google Drive)
  • Contiki (and any other important) documents in travel wallet, all flights printed out
  • Headphones and plane adapter
  • Earplanes, neck pillow, sleep mask, fluffy socks
  • Empty water bottle for filling up at airport
  • Snacks – protein bars, just add water meals, electrolytes
  • Kindle (and charger)
  • Phone (and charger)
  • GoPro (and charger, spare batteries, spare memory cards)
  • External battery pack (and charger)
  • Travel journal and pen
  • Wallet (bank card, travel card, ID, emergency info)
  • Every day shoulder bag
  • Spare clothes (full outfit taken from checked bag)
  • Plane clothes (what I was wearing! This included my big winter coat.)
  • My special bag of plane essentials – hand sanitizer, eye drops, lip balm, deodorant, face wipes, tissues, extra hair ties, bobby pins, brush, bandaids, q-tips, herbal sleep tablets, motion sickness tablets, contraceptive pill, cough drops, ibuprofen, paracetamol, moisturiser, cleanser, hand cream, tooth brush, tooth paste, mouth wash, and teeth wipes!

And that’s it – finished!

We were really proud of our packing efforts. It was extra rewarding when people on our tour would look and say “is that ALL you brought!?” as we walked up flights of stairs with ease while they waited for the one person lift to come back down to the lobby for the fourteenth time.

We did each buy a new carry on bag while we were overseas but this had nothing to do with wanting more room and everything to do with wanting these particular items. I bought a Longchamp Le Pliage Travel Bag in Rome, while Ethan bought a super sophisticated leather duffle bag from London. We were easily able to make this work by clipping the day packs back to our main packs and packing our new bags as our carry on bags!

We also bought extra clothes while we were away, including some pull over jumpers and new winter coats. We even bought a new pair of shoes each. We had enough room for all of this in our tiny packs, but we really didn’t have enough room for souvenirs. Lucky for us, we only collect magnets and shot glasses! So it wasn’t so bad. But there were a few things we would’ve liked to buy but simply didn’t because of lack of room in our packs.

On the way home, we each had a total of 15kg in our checked bags, and probably 4 or 5kg in our carry on bags. The extra weight was mainly made up of the new winter coats and new winter shoes! All in all, we were very happy with how we packed and how the things we packed worked out for us.

How do you pack light? What are your travel essentials? I’d love to hear!

Katie