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10 April 2016

11 Budget Travel Tips

Hey guys,

Travelling can be really expensive. On average, a hotel can be around $200 per night (and that is for the most basic room!), flights can be anywhere upwards of $40 one way, and once your there, you have expenses that can really add up. I am really into being frugal when travelling, so I have worked out eleven handy tips for keeping travel costs to a minimum.

1. Book hotels early for the 'earlybird discount'
Many hotels offer an early booking discount, if you book in advance (often you need to book 30 days prior for this discount). This can cut off around $30 (depending on the hotel) off of the total cost, so it is worth doing. If you know that you are taking a holiday, take advantage of this offer.

2. Compare hotel prices and ask to price match
Often the best way of booking a hotel is by calling the hotel. If you look at all different websites (for example, Wotif, Bookings.com, TripAdvisor, Agoda, Expedia), and find the hotel rate cheaper than what the hotel is offering, you can call up the hotel and ask them if they'll match the price. Usually they will do this, and then you are able to book direct with the hotel, rather than through a third-party site.

3. Don't book flights through a travel agency
Travel agencies usually charge an extra fee (around an extra $20 each way) for having used the travel agency. Instead, book the flight through the airline directly, so you won't have to pay the fee.

4. Look carefully at what method you pay for you flight.
When you pay for the flight, there's quite a few options for payment. If you use a credit card, there's is quite a hefty fee for using it. As an alternative, there is usually an option to pay for it with a direct bank transfer. Make sure you check your payment method, so you can avoid the extra fees.

5. Find out flight sales day, and book that day/time.
Most airlines have a sales day and time. With Jetstar, it is Friday at 6pm - 8pm. If you book during this time, then costs of flights are really cheap (I once got a flight Gold Coast to Sydney for $29!!!)

6. Plan an itinerary to estimate the costs.
If you plan your itinerary, it helps to you estimate the cost of the holiday. You don't have to do it to the extent I do (I plan a minute-by-minute itinerary!!), but if you write down what activities you will do each day, you can get a rough idea of the cost.

7. Use public transport instead of taxis.
Needless to say, public transport is a lot cheaper than taxis. Although public transport is the worst here on the Gold Coast, in the cities (like Melbourne and Sydney), the network is amazing and really convenient to use.

8. Get a local travel card.
This goes with the previous tip. A lot of the major cities have travel cards which are used instead of paper tickets. For example, Gold Coast/Brisbane has a GoCard, Melbourne uses Myki cards, and Sydney uses Opal cards. With these travel cards, you pre-load on money, and then just tap your card on and off when you uses buses, trains, ferries and trams. The travel card is always much cheaper than paper tickets are (for example, from Gold Coast to Brisbane on the train costs $6 with a GoCard, and $20 with a paper ticket. As well as being a lot cheaper, it really is just more convenient to have a card rather than having to buy paper tickets.

9. When booking flights, look at all airlines.
Usually when I book flights I go straight for Jetstar, which is the known "budget airline". However, when I was booking flights to/from the Whitsundays, I found that although it was cheap enough to get a returning flight from the Whitsundays, the flight going there was cheaper with Virgin, which is considered a more "premium airline". Sometimes the premium airlines are surprisingly cheaper, so it is best to shop around before going straight to the budget airline.

10. Try to just take carry-on luggage.
If you can, just take carry-on and not worry about checked. Some airlines don't include any checked, especially if they are domestic flights. I take a small suitcase as carry on, and don't bother with checked. This is not only cheaper, but it saves a lot of hassle at the airport.

11. If you want to go on a tour, see if it is cheaper to go there independently.
When I went to Sydney, I went on a Home and Away Tour. The tour itself was a bit rubbish (they didn't take us anywhere, it was just a maniac bus driver taking three hours to drive us there, then he left us to get on with is). We paid $100 for that tour, so in hindsight it would have been cheaper to catch public transport up there and go there ourselves.

<3

6 April 2016

The Wanderlust Tag

Hey guys!

It's been quite a while since I last blogged on here, I think my last post was somewhere around January. I've been pretty busy so far this year, what with working on a few secret projects, and with senior year being a thing right now.

At the moment I've got a bit of travel fever. I'm super excited, since in May, I am spending a week in the Whitsundays, travelling around the islands on a houseboat with my family. In my excitement for this upcoming holiday, I will (hopefully) be writing a heap of blog posts about travelling. Today I'm going to be doing the Wanderlust Tag, which is a series of questions about travelling. I couldn't find a set list of questions for this, so I've just pulled the questions from various sources to write this.

Where have you travelled to that you would love to travel again? Everywhere I have been I have loved, so this question is really, really hard. In particular, two of my favourites are Sydney and Byron Bay, so I would love to visit both of those destinations again.
Byron Bay at sunset

The Sydney Opera House


You're leaving tomorrow, money is no object, where are you going? I would be going on a trip around Europe. Ideally I would like to spend a week in each place. The itinerary includes England, France, Italy, Greece, and Spain.

Preferred method of travel; planes, trains or cars? Probably planes, just for efficiency reasons, although if I am in the window seat I drive everyone mental, because I can't sit still for a whole flight, and have to get up to "go to the toilet" (meaning I just need to walk around). I don't particularly like trains, as I catch one to school everyday, although I would love to do one of those overnight train trips, like The Sunlander or The Ghan. I'm not a fan of car trips, because I can't sit still for long enough and get fidgety, but I would love to do a roadtrip with my friends one day.

Favourite travel website? In terms of reviews, I love TripAdvisor (although there have been times when these reviews haven't been exactly accurate!!). For booking accommodation, I like Bookings.com, because it's a nice website and is really easy to look through. With regards to travelling blogs, I like Joseph Travels, because the blog posts are really honest and funny to read.

Where would you travel to just to eat the food? Anywhere, I love trying the food that belongs to the culture of the place I am in.

A Chinese buffet (China Bar Signature)...not in China...but in Chinatown in Melbourne


Is there a place you would never go again? Not that I have been to so far, everywhere I have travelled to (as of right now) I've really loved.

Can you recite your passport number from memory? Definitely not! Most of the flights I take are domestic, where they don't need you to have your passport. The only time I've ever used it was to travel back to England in 2009.

Do you prefer the window, aisle or middle seat? I like having the window seat, for the view when taking off/landing, but I do get up a lot in flights to walk, so it's probably nicer for me to have an aisle seat.

How do you pass time on the air plane? I always read a lot on planes. I'll take those trashy celebrity gossip magazines, and then a book that I've been wanting to read. Some books I've had in the past on planes were Ascend by Amanda Hocking, Love, Tanya by Tanya Burr, A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks and Girl Online by Zoe Sugg. I do read really quickly, though, so sometimes (like on the three-hour flight to Melbourne) I finish the book before the end of the flight.

Hotel or hostel? Definitely hotels. I don't love the idea of sharing a bathroom at a hostel.

Your most treasured passport stamp? I don't have that many, because, as I mentioned before, the only international flights I've taken are between England and Australia.

Top 3 travel items? My camera, my sunglasses and my converse.

Are you a repeat visitor or do you like to go to new places? I like going to new places, but if I love a place or have a reason to return, I won't say no (like Sydney!!)

Central Sydney
Do you research your destination or do you wing it? I research heaps before I go on holiday!! I usually start planning a year before, and I get every detail down - where we are going each day, what we are doing, how we're getting there...even where we are going for dinner!!

What is the best/worst hotel you have ever stayed in? The absolute best hotel is by far the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel in Sydney. The hotel was beautiful. The lobby had all marble (?) tiles and columns, with a red carpet, and a concierge man who greeted you every time you went in or out of the hotel. The worst hotel was probably the Pullman on the Park in Melbourne. It wasn't that it was a dirty or bad hotel, it was just that after having been to the Radisson, going to the Pullman was a little bit of a disappointment.

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, Sydney

Pullman on the Park, Melbourne
Where would you recommend a friend to visit? That depends. For a city holiday, I would definitely say Sydney, because the city is beautiful and there is heaps to do there (maybe I should do a "Things to do in Sydney" post??). For a beach holiday, I am tied between Byron Bay and Port Douglas, because they are both really cute little beach towns!

Do you buy souvenirs when you travel? Yes. I always get a few postcards, as well as a snowglobe, because I collect a snowglobe from every location. I also like to get a deck of cards from everywhere I travel to.

Darling Harbour, Sydney

Byron Bay

Port Douglas Harbour
Where was your first plane to? The first plane I caught was when I moved from England to Australia in 2006. Well, technically the plane was to Dubai, because that was the first stopover.

Where are you travelling to next? In about four weeks, I am going to spend a week houseboating around the Whitsundays (so expect a heap of blog posts about that when I get back!!). After that, I am planning a holiday going around Darwin, Alice Springs and Uluru for next year.

<3


25 January 2016

Back to School | Stationary on a Budget

Hey guys!

So going back to school can be really expensive. Like, really expensive. In primary school I would get my school book list, and everything on it would cost around $100 or more. The annoying thing was that once you got to school, most of the items on the list you would use once (like the four highlighters I was required to buy in Year 4...I still have them to this day!). I remember when I was in Year 8, we had to purchase this maths mentals book. My sister had had this book when she was in Year 8, and she had only done four sheets in the entire book, so I just went through and erased all of her answers and used her book for myself!!

Now I am in high school, I find that (I don't know if this is just at my school, or at all schools) we are left to our own devices when it comes to buying the things we need for school. I think at this point, the teachers just think, "As long as you can take notes, I don't care how you do it." . I love having this freedom, as it means I am able to change my notetaking methods as much as I want to, until I find something that works for me. Another things this freedom means is that I am able to spend as little or as much as I want on school stationary.

Most years, I have spent the absolute minimum I can on school stationary, and I have always gone for the most basic items, as these are generally the cheapest. However, this year is my last year in high school, and I thought that I would treat myself to nicer stationary this year. Although nice stationary is generally expensive, I made this post with the intention of proving that you can have nice stationary without blowing the bank.

 The first thing I am going to talk about is this laptop bag. First of all, HOW HARD IS IT TO FIND A DECENT LAPTOP BAG??? I went to all of the big department stores, like Kmart, Big W, and Target, in search of a laptop bag. And you know, what with it being back to school season, I expected that in the school bag section, there would be some laptop bags. NOPE. The only bags I could find in the school sections were either Dora the Explorer or One Direction. So then I spent my entire evening on Google trying to find a store that sells relatively cheap laptop bags. Then I saw this one, in Good Guys for $18. When I went into the store to buy it, they were selling it for $59 - triple the price!! Fortunately, when I showed them the online price they matched it. I am really happy with this bag as it is quite roomy, which is perfect because I always carry much more than I end up needing (let's just say I like to be prepared for any given situation!!). There are seven compartments in this bag, which I really like. I particularly like the fact that this is a messenger bag, which means there is a second closure, so if I have so much in my bag that the zip won't close, there is a sort of secondary closure. I'm just hoping this bag is more durable than my bag last year, and I won't have anymore bag disasters!!



The first thing here is a binder by a brand called Marbig. This binder isn't much of a luxury stationary item, but I think the colour of it is really pretty, and I like that there are those little pockets on the inside of the binder, where, at the moment, I am keeping my timetable. I also like that this binder is really flexible, so you can fold the cover back. The only thing I don't like is that the binder doesn't have that clip thing that holds the paper down, so they do sometimes flop around, but it's not that big of an issue. This was $4.00 in Big W. Also from Big W, I set of dividers. I got a packet of 10-tab plastic dividers (I really hate dividers that have any part of them made from paper, because they aren't as durable as the plastic ones). I did only put 8 in my binder, because I only have 8 classes. These were in pretty rainbow colours. I don't know how much they were exactly, but I think they were $3.00.
Also for the binder, I got a 200-sheet packet of binder paper. I'll be honest, the only reason I really bought this one in particular was because I loved the colourful reinforcement strip along the side of it. This particular packet of paper is by a brand called ColourHide, which is generally white a good brand. The paper came with four different coloured strips, those colours being pink, blue, green and purple. This was a bit pricier than other packets of loose leaf paper, at $5 for a packet. I intend to use the lined paper for all my classes except for Maths. For my Maths class, I got this binder book of grid paper, which was surprisingly hard to find. I would have thought that a 5mm grid book would be a school staple for heaps of people, but I could only find this book in Target, which was only $1.50.


2016 Diary

Yearly Planner

2-Year Calendar

Address Book

Daily View

Possibly one of the most important stationary items for me is my diary. I spend the entire year trying to decide on next year's diary!! Originally, for senior year I wanted to buy the Kikki K Student Diary, but bored in class last year, I showed my friend and asked him what he thought of it, and he told me, "You'll spend more time playing with it and organising it than you will actually using it.", which is very true. I chose a more simpler day-to-a-page diary, which was $12 from Target. What I particularly liked about this one was that it wasn't spiral bound, as my spiral bound diary last year got old and tatty very quickly. This diary has a really pretty rainbow geometric cover, and it is a day-to-a-page diary. In 2014, I had a Day-to-a-Page diary, but I felt it was too big and bulky, so the next year I tried Week-to-a-View. However, I found with the weekly diary I did not have enough space to write the notes I wanted to write, which resulted in me opting for a daily diary this year. This one has a day for each page, as well as a yearly planner view, a two year calendar view, and plenty of space to write contacts.


This is the pencil case I chose for this year. It's by a brand called Molli & Mimi, It's a nice faux-leather-y material in mint green with white polka dots. The lining of it is a pastel pink, which matches the little tag on the zipper. This is quite a small pencil case, but I thought that this would be good for me, as I always carry far more stationary than I need to carry. This cost me $5.00 from Target.

Next I have this pack of highlighters. These are by Stablio, and they were $3.97 in Big W. I am not too particular with regards to highlighters. As long as I have several colours, I am happy, but I liked these once because they were the thin ones, and I think they'll be easier to hold than the big thick ones.

The final item that I bought is this pack of give slim gel pens from Kikki K. They are from the Cute range, which is in fact one of my favourite Kikki K ranges. I really like the individual pens they sell because they have very scratchy nibs, which I love, so I am hoping that these pens will have that same scratchy nib. These were $9.95, but I had a $10 gift voucher when I bought these, so they cost me nothing!

That is everything I bought. I have four tips for you to keep in mind when doing back to school shopping:

  • For larger items (e.g. school bag, laptop, etc.), if you find the item you are looking for online, the online price can sometimes be cheaper than the in-store price. If this is the case, take your phone into the store with the online price on there, and generally they will price match it
  • If there is a particular stationary store that you like (for example, Kikki K), sign up for their online membership club. This way, you often get gift vouchers, which can make stationary shopping a lot cheaper
  • Never order the supplies from the supplier the school recommends. My mum used to do this for me when I was in primary school, but everything is way overpriced from these stockists
  • Go to more than one shop before you buy anything, and take down a list of the prices for everything in each store. That way, you are able to find which store has the best prices.

That is it! I am so sorry that this is the one school-related post this year, but I have been very busy recently with two (currently) super-secret projects, which I will hopefully be able to share with you soon.

Good luck on your first day back at school, and I will talk to you at the end of the week letting you know how my first week back was!

<3




28 December 2015

15 Things I Have Learnt This Year

Hey guys!

2016 is fast approaching, and I have had some time today to think back about the many things that I have learnt over this year. A lot of these things I think have taught me a lot, and that will stay with me in the future. Today I will be sharing 15 lessons that I have learnt over the year.

  1. There is something to be said about forgiving and forgetting; it is one thing to forgive, but it can be harder to forget
  2. Sometimes people change, and they are no longer the people we used to know. Although we may not like this change, we need to learn to accept this
  3. Cats make everything better
  4. Good friends are those who will be there for you, not just through the fun times, but during the hard times too
  5. Although we may not want it to, our life routines will change. We need to be able to accept and adapt to this change
  6. Travelling to a new place gives you one of the best feelings
  7. Catching public transport with a good friend is surprisingly fun
  8. Sometimes it is worth staying up until midnight the night before your Psychology exam to talk with someone about your secret wondrous and controversial future endeavours
  9. Crunchy peanut butter is amazing and I really have been missing out all these years
  10. We should never forget the magic of being a child
  11. High school graduations make you feel infinite
  12. If you spent two hours trying to work out how to reply to someone, it can go horribly wrong if you leave their messenger page up on your phone...and sometimes it can lead to you needing to explain the accidental Facebook call
  13. Byron Bay is such a cool place
  14. Don't be afraid to tell other people your opinions...Sometimes the most unexpected people can be the ones who agree with you the most
  15. Say yes as much as you can
Leave me a comment below telling me some of the things you have learnt this year.

Happy new year!!

<3


21 October 2015

Words of Wednesday | Stereotypes

Hey guys,

I’m currently trying out something new on my blog, called Words of Wednesday. This is inspired by something Louise does on Sprinkle of Glitter, where she has a little series called “Monday Motivation”, where she has a little motivational post every Monday. Words of Wednesday will be a series where I just discuss a topic I’ve been thinking about during the week. I’m hoping it will be somewhat motivational, because if you’re anything like me, Wednesday is the hardest day of the week, and I could definitely use some motivation.



This week I am going to talk about stereotypes. Now, according to my Psychology notes, a stereotype is an evaluative generalisation about a group of people. A stereotype is a cognitive process embedded in our interrelationships with other people, which can either be positive or negative. In short, a stereotype is a form of social categorisation which affects the behaviour of those who are labelled by that stereotype.

I decided to talk about stereotypes this week, because yesterday, a friend of mine said, “I’m going to start a blog. But a serious blog, not a white girl blog.”

What?

What is a white girl blog?

Well according to her, a “white girl blog” is a blog which discusses makeup, fashion, and life in general. This seems to be the stereotype of what a “white girl blog” is. Which then makes me feel like my blog is a “white girl blog”, which frustrated me a lot, for two main reasons. My blog is something I’ve worked incredibly hard at, and I don’t like it being stereotyped as a “white girl blog” purely because of its content.

The second reason, though, and this is the main reason I am making this post, is that I hate stereotypes. And recently, I’ve been stereotyped as a “white girl” quite frequently.

So I Googled what stereotypical “white girls” did, and according to an article I read, behaviours include the following:
-          Drinking Starbucks
-          Watching Gossip Girl, the Vampire Diaries, Twilight, the Hunger Games (basically everything that most people watch)
-          Taking photos all the time
-          Having a fashion/makeup/lifestyle blog

This is what I don’t understand. Why should you, if you drink Starbucks and watch Gossip Girl, be stereotyped as a “white girl”, especially when recently, being a “white girl” has such a negative connotation around it.

It’s like being called a “twelvie”. One of my friends always calls me a “twelvie”, because I’m younger than him, I happen to like music from early 2000s, and I make my own clothes. But what about liking Blink-182 and INXS makes me a twelvie? This is what I don’t understand.

Well, according to my psychology notes:

People categorise people into “ingroups”, who are people they associate with, and “outgroups”, who are people they do not associate with. Once people have been categorised into either the ingroup or outgroup, people tend to exaggerate differences between groups. People tend to pay attention to behaviours that support the stereotype, and ignore behaviours that challenge the stereotype.

So, to put this to an example, I am considered a “twelvie”, because my friend knows that I like INXS (because apparently, if you like INXS since the film came out last year…automatic twelvie), so he concentrates on that. However, he ignores the fact that I like it because my mum listened to it when I was younger, therefore I’ve been around that music all my life.

Okay, so you’ve read my whole rant about stereotypes, and now you’re probably thinking, “Why should I care? How do they affect us anyway?”

Well, there’s this thing called the Stereotype Threat Effect, which is where one is in a situation where there is a threat of being judged stereotypically, or fear of doing something that would “confirm the stereotype”. Stereotypes can have a negative effect on behaviour due to the self-fulfilling prophecy, which is where something comes true because you expect it to come true (i.e. you are given a stereotype, and because of that you start to behave as that stereotype).

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all need to take some time just to think about the effects that stereotypes actually have on people. Although stereotypes do exist in this world, we just need to try and prove to society that stereotypes are not, in most cases, true.

<3