Live it up till it’s gone! (The Swisse Color Run, Bucket list moment)


2014 is zooming by, and at the start of the year I wrote about my thoughts on ‘Bucket List’s’ being the new ‘New Year’s Resolution’.

I described a Bucket list as a chance to think about your wildest dreams and passions, and make a list of experiences you wanted to have (big or small), so that you could have something tangible to work towards for that coming year.

Well, my list is longgggggggggggggggggg. Not specifically to achieve this year, but for my life in general and after having the privilege of ticking off a lot from my list last year, I didn’t expect to get close to that this year…. but I think I may be wrong.

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5 tips to staying fit & healthy when travelling!

You don’t HAVE to get the Heathrow Injection!

Posting about staying fit and healthy over the Easter long weekend seems crazy, considering I am about to inhale a hot cross bun and a small army of Cadbury mini eggs, but I always get asked about staying healthy while travelling, so I’ve taken some time to think about it and I thought I’d post it for everyone to read.

Living an active, healthy life is important to me and I try to continue that philosophy while I’m travelling too. We’ve all heard the stories about those travellers who gain 20kg’s upon setting foot in Heathrow Airport (also known as the ‘Heathrow Injection’), and I know of plenty of people who work out HARD prior to a big trip, knowing that they’ll likely gain a few kg’s, but I believe that you can travel for weeks, months and even years on end and not pile on the pounds, as long as you make the right choices.

Don’t worry, I’m not talking about long gym workouts every single day, or skipping local ‘must have’ favourites (like gelato in Florence for instance), so check out my personal Top 5 tips for staying healthy whilst travelling!

 1. Choose active adventures

This is probably the simplest ways of staying healthy whilst you’re away. Not only will active adventures help you keep off any extra unwanted weight, they’ll allow you to make the most of your holiday by experiencing things you may not get to experience in your day to day life!

There are some amazing trips and destinations all over the world that are designed for active people, and that specialise in certain NICHE areas. Activities like skiing, snowboarding, surfing, hiking and biking are just the tip of the iceberg. Even simple walking tours in your favourite city could be an option or signing up for an overseas Yoga retreat (or sunrise class at your Vietnamese beach resort)….. It all encourages you to keep moving, and will ensure that you stay physical and healthy on a trip overseas.

Just a handful of companies that offer ‘active travel’ itineraries include:

Personally I ensure that every trip has some kind of active component and as the above examples show, It can be as complex as a hike to Mt Everest Base Camp or as simple as adding a city tour by bicycle one day, and a Kayak around the lagoon the next. So, as much as we all love a chilled out beach holiday every now and then, I urge you to choose an active holiday every once in a while… or at least make some time every day to get moving!!

 2. Pack your own healthy snacks for the journey 


Have you eaten that sugar loaded plane food lately or been stuck in transit with nothing but McDonald’s or 7 Eleven for company? Don’t get caught out! Pack healthy snacks that you know will satisfy you during those long flights or car journeys and avoid the convenience of salty, fatty snack foods and soft drinks.

On a recent short trip I toasted a couple of bags of natural almonds and walnuts in sea salt, and baked a few batches of almond meal cookies, that I took with me on my travels. Not only were they the perfect go to snack when I needed a little something to get me through, but it was relatively small in size, and didn’t take up too much room in my luggage.

There are so many yummy, healthy and natural snacks you can make yourself, so get inspired!! Check out this awesome selection of recipes that ‘Girl Meets Nourishment’ has put together, and get preparing!

Trust me, plan ahead, and don’t get caught out. That’s when reaching for a bag of crisps is going to be the only option.

3.  Fresh is best!

We all know fresh is best, so I urge you to seek out the local delicacies based on the environment that you are in, and try to eat what items or products would be most readily available to the restaurateur or chefs in that location.

For example, when in areas that are on the ocean (like Thailand, Indonesia, the Caribbean etc..) seek out fresh, local seafood or the ‘catch of the day’. Chat to the chef’s and find out when the catch was brought in or if they’ve had it frozen. If you’re in the middle of the country, and you’ve got yummy veggies or delicious organic Beef to feast upon, go for it! Use your surroundings as a guide to what you eat.

An awesome example of this was a great Café in Rarotonga that I stumbled across called the Moorings Fish Café. They prepare the menu daily based on what seafood they were able to catch that morning on their daily fishing run. They only had so much and they’d shut up shop when they sold out, so nothing went in the freezer, and It was all prepared fresh daily. Loved it!

If you can, another great idea is to immerse yourself in the cuisine and do a cooking class on your travels. Not only is it a great day out, but you’ll learn a skill and see exactly what’s going into your food!

Keep it simple… Think logically about where you are, and what would be the freshest, most available products and stick to those. If there is a local delicacy, try it! Chances are it’s something they prepare daily and will rarely cause you any real harm.

4. Self-catering accommodation can save the day

I know that most of us won’t want to cook whilst on holidays, but trust me if you have accommodation that has a kitchenette or even just a microwave it can save the day if you’re struggling to find something healthy and decent to eat.

On my recent trip to The Cook Islands it was hard to find anything open after 2pm that wasn’t a fast food place, so a pot of water to boil some eggs and a cuppa served its purpose to fill myself (and my always hungry boyfriend) up, until it was time to hit the restaurant for dinner.

Most destinations are catering more and more to clients looking for that balance between self-cater, and restaurant variety. Even luxury properties are offering self-contained ‘villa’ style accommodation, which personal chefs (the works!) so there is truly something for everyone.

  1. SLEEP!

hammock life

Sleep is the most UNDERRATED health benefit in the world, and ensuring that you get enough sleep whilst you travel is vital.

I know jet lag and time zones can make it tricky, but try adapting to any time zones as quickly as you can, and ensuring that you are still getting your 7-9hrs a sleep a nite.

Not only will it ensure that you are fresh and ready to get the most out of the experiences the following day, but there are commonly known links between sleep and your immune system, so this is one of the BEST ways to protect against picking up any nasty travel flu’s, as the LAST thing you want whilst travelling is a cold. So hit the sack!


I guess to wrap all of this up, my final thought would be enjoy everything in moderation!

As I mentioned right at the start of this post, I’m all for getting out and enjoying your indulgences whilst you’re away, after all FOOD is a huge part of your overall travel experience and can sometimes be the BEST part of a city or cultural experience, but remember to enjoy all things in moderation.

There is nothing wrong with eating a slice of steaming hot, spicy, cheesy, New York style pizza (or 2) whilst in New York, just don’t have it everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Balance your meals (like you would at home) and ensure that you are also drinking loads of water. This combined with an activity or two every day and you’ll escape the dreaded holiday weight gain, and there will be no need to safety pin your shorts back together when you’ve busted out of them!

What are the travel health tips you live by? I’d love to hear all about what you guys do to stay fit and healthy on the road!!!

Thanks for reading!

Kate xxx

Stop and smell the roses!

so many beautiful things on the horizon

It’s Monday morning,and today I am grateful!

As 2014 races along (can you believe it’s already mid March?) It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind that is life and for me I am realising more and more, the importance of stopping to smell the roses so to speak. When we take a moment to ourselves and have a look around, there is always something to be grateful for.

Yes, we all have our struggles (some more than others) and there are things we wish we had more of, or things we wish we could do or wish we could be… But what about the things we DO have and the things we CAN do? What about taking the time to appreciate those?

For me life is busy… beyond busy actually! It’s made up of family, friends, work, travel & activity, and it’s at the point that the people around me just laugh & shake their heads at how crazy I am all the time.

Thinking about it this morning, I have come to realise that my ‘BUSY’ is actually o.k. It’s o.k because I’m doing the things I love, with people I love, however I am definitely learning to set aside time just for myself, and the importance of slowing down to appreciate everything around me.

I’m ‘busy’ spending time with my family & friends and It’s not because I have to, it’s because i want to. I am grateful and lucky to be surrounded by such amazing and inspiring people, BUT I am learning to take the time to spend quality time with each and every person, rather than a fleeting catch up.

I am ‘busy’ with work, so that I can live a life that I am proud of, and so that I am able to live the life I imagined. I want to continue to grow and be the best I can be. I want to help and inspire others and I am lucky to work in such a dynamic industry, but more than ever I am also learning to slow things down and work closely with each and every colleague & client to ensure I’m exceeding their needs and expectations, not just ticking boxes and getting things done.

I am ‘busy’ staying fit and active because I like to feel good. I love pushing myself & I love learning new skills. I am grateful that I am healthy enough to do it and that I have a partner who shares my love of adventure, but I am also learning that laying around after a busy week is actually o.k too, and that my body needs the rest to restore and recover.

I am ‘busy’ out there seeing the world so that I can experience everything that life has to offer. I know that there is more than what was placed right in front of me, and I am now looking at my travel as something that isn’t just about me. I’m valuing the experiences more with the knowledge that I can share it with the people in my life (and you my lovely followers).

>> Stay tuned for my upcoming posts on The Cook Islands, China, Bali and the USA which are all planned for this coming year. All of which I am grateful to be able to experience.

Yes, there is more I can be, more I want to experience and others I wish to help & inspire, but all in good time. Today I am going to stop and live right here in the moment and be grateful, for I am lucky.

What are you grateful for? Can you take a step back today and look at what’s around you and be thankful?

Kate xx

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

25 travel tips that I live by !


‘When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money’ [Susan Heller]

As someone who has been working in travel now for over 13yrs (eeeek) and who has done her fair share of personal travel, I get asked for all kinds of travel related advice on a daily basis.

There is easy stuff like ‘What forms of currency do i take?’ or ‘Can you offer any crafty packing tips?’.

Then there are the more serious queries regarding visas, passports and security questions.

Then there are the questions from inexperienced travelers like ‘Do i need a passport to fly to New Zealand? (um.. yes. It’s another country)…. And then there is just the plain weird, and kind of sad… ‘Are there any airlines that still allow smoking? If not, i guess I’ll never see my family again’. (Yep, a client couldn’t fathom flying 10hrs without having a smoke, and would therefore never see her UK family again)   😦

All of these questions highlight to me that there really is a lot to know about packing your bags and heading off overseas. It also shows me that yes, I do actually know what I’m talking about when it comes to travel and that there are so many smart travel ideas out there that I wished I knew before I took my 1st trip.

I could write a list as long as all the cities I’ve been to, but I’ll limit it to 25 travel tips that I personally live by and that may help you out. The last 5 are my personal tips (and philosophy) to live by, so here goes:


Pic courtesy of tenontours.
Pic courtesy of tenontours.

1. Enlist the help of a professional!

Travel agents aren’t a thing of the past and we aren’t here to rip you off. If you take the time to find a great agent, build a relationship and explain your travel needs, they will have your best interests in mind, they’ll do the hard work for you, and create the perfect holiday or vacation for you.

Yes, some of you may love to sit online for 7hrs a day researching your next holiday, checking every hotel and all the reviews, then price match every travel site you come across…  and If this is you, then go for it! But most of us are time poor and want actual credible advice, so a good travel agent will be able to be your one stop shop. They’ll recommend the best destination or hotel for YOU, sort you out with essentials like travel insurance AND they will be able to get you great value, If you let them.

We use professionals for everything else we do (especially when you’re spending the kind of money a big trip can sometimes cost) so why wouldn’t you use a professional to plan the holiday of a lifetime?

2. Book in advance.

It DOES save you money. In Australia there is really no such thing as standby seats or last minute specials on airfares. The earlier you book, the more you save, as there are multiple prices for each class of seat on an aircraft. As the plane fills up the price goes up! There are also some amazing early-bird deals on tours, hotels and packages if you are able to book and often pay in advance.

3. Don’t believe every on-line review you read.

With online reviews being a travel ‘tool’ that people rely on, hotels, restaurants and sightseeing companies go to great lengths to ensure that their business has positive reviews… and raking highly on review sites is their number #1 focus.

There are companies out there who specialise in writing fake reviews. Businesses & hotels give freebies to people to post a positive review and employees are encouraged to post their own positive reviews (hmmm). Last year Trip advisor changed their slogan from “Reviews you can trust” to “Reviews from our community” for their reviews section, after an investigation of allegations that millions of Trip Advisor reviews may be fake.

So beware. Talk to friends and family (or your travel stylist) about your destination, where they have stayed, eaten and visited.

4.Check your documents.

Don’t forget about passport validity & visas. You’ll be surprised how many people show up to an airport with an expired passport or without a visa. You need at least 6 months validity on your passport to leave Australia, and there are more and more countries who have some form of Visa requirement, so check it out!


peru 2

5. The lighter the better!

I’ve done the world trips with big bags, surfboards and snowboards and It’s a pain in the ass, and airlines aren’t as kind as they used to be. They charge for everything and I’m talking exorbitant excess baggage fees. If you are traveling with sporting goods, don’t assume the airlines will take it free, as most will not. Do your research or enlist the help of a professional (Note 3rd shameless plug 😉 )

6. Layer layer layer.

Layers are the best way to stay warm and then get cool again. Have you been in a position where it’s freezing outside, but then you sweat your butt off once you step inside a store, restaurant or museum? Wear clothes that you can peel on and off easily to keep your temperature perfect.

7. Take a scarf or shawl

They come in super handy. Remember Europe is a little more conservative than Australia, and throwing a scarf over your outfit will instantly dress it up. A scarf or shawl is also handy for any countries where you should dress more conservatively, like the middle east or when visiting religious monuments.

8. DO dress to the local customs.

Just because it’s hot outside and YOU don’t care that you are wearing short shorts on the streets in Egypt or India, the locals care and you will be stared at and judged. You may also be limited in terms of the places you visit, so do your research and respect their customs. That’s what travel is all about.

9. Take a change of clothes in your carry-on luggage.

Trust me… If you’ve ever had a bag go missing, or a drink spilled on you inflight, you’ll thank me.


Pic courtesy of
Pic courtesy of

10. Dress warmly & comfortably on flights.

Just because it may be hot outside, doesn’t meant the flight is the same. It normally get’s cool on the plane, especially on overnight flights, and if you’re flying low cost airlines.. they won’t give you blankets (for free anyway). Pack a jumper or shawl to keep you warm. Oh, and consider the weather at your destination… what will it be like at the other end? Be prepared.

11. Allow plenty of travel time.

Give yourself plenty of time to arrive at the airport and for transits, as security is a lot tighter these days, and there is almost nothing more stressful than almost missing your flight.

12. Inflight essentials.

An empty water bottle, your own healthy snacks and an eye mask will make any flight WAY more enjoyable. Staying hydrated, not eating the processed sugar loaded plane food (if you can avoid it) and getting as much sleep as you can is key to avoiding jet lag.

13. Avoid Jet lag.

Force yourself to adapt to the time zone at your destination. If you arrive in the morning after a long flight, drink loads of water, get outside & do your best to stay awake until a more normal bed time. It will help you to adjust to the time zone more quickly.



14. Varying forms of currency.

Ensure you have at access to at least 3 different forms of currency. Some cash, a Debit/Travel money card and a Credit card. You don’t want your debit card to be eaten by an ATM and find that there are no currency exchange offices in site. Don’t get caught, and be prepared and take different forms.

Oh, and don’t forget to notify your bank that you’ll be overseas. They’ll freeze your cards if they suspect suspicious activity, and an international transaction is often flagged.

15.Stash your cash.

As lame as it sounds… DO be that traveler that stashes money and an extra debit/credit card in your socks at the bottom of your bag. When you travel a lot it’s easy to become blaze about things like theft and loss of luggage, but trust me, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

16. Blend in.

DON’T be that traveler who wears a money belt that is plainly visible to everyone and anyone. If you wear one, keep it completely concealed. Don’t fish around in it with it out for all to see. You make yourself more of a target than anyone else who may be carrying a normal purse or a backpack.

17. Pre purchase your foreign currency.

Buying currency at the airport is a rip-off. Exchange cash once you get to your destination or order it in advance. I normally order mine through, when I’m organising my Travel Money cards. They have great rates, and when you get the travel cards they give you multiple cards (in case one get’s lost or stolen) and you can transfer your own money onto them super easily.

TRAVEL APS (For your smart phone) 

Pic - Mobile App Testing
Pic – Mobile App Testing

18. Trip Advisor ‘City Guides’

Super handy when you’re in a random city, so download the map for where you are going. It lists loads of info like hotels, restaurants, activities etc.. and it works offline so if you find yourself lost, you can use the maps (which uses the GPS in your phone) to help navigate you to where you need to be.

They also have some cool suggested walking itineraries around the city, so perfect if you’re happy to explore on your own.

19. Stay in touch.

WhatsApp, Viber or Skype are perfect aps to download, as they’ll allow you to text, call or video message friends and family whilst you’re away. It’s free when you’re hooked up to WIFI or a 3G network.

20.  Talk the talk.

Google translate is awesome if you’re in a foreign country, as it allows you to type a phrase and it will translate it for you Or you can use the speaking function. There are over 50 languages, and will be sure to help you out of any tricky situation when a language barrier is involved.

Finally, here are my TOP 5 MYTRAVELUST travel tips!

peru 1

21.Get Lost! 

Put down the maps, wander around and explore. Without a guide & Without a map. Follow your nose and do what YOU want to do  and not what a guide book tells you to do.

Cities with a good metro system are perfect for getting lost, as you can’t ever really get THAT lost. All you need to do is find the closest metro station and boom… you are found again 🙂

22. Talk to strangers (but trust your instincts).

Travel is the best way to make new friends, meet new and interesting people and experience how other cultures live their day to day lives.

Put yourself out there, step outside your comfort zone and interact with people. Accept random dinner invites, or go on a day trip with some new buddies… but trust your instincts. If it feels weird, dangerous or awkward then it probably is, so don’t put yourself into a situation that you wouldn’t be able to get out of.

23. Keep a travel journal – and use it.

Trust me, It may seem like a pain at the time, but it’s the most amazing thing to re-read once you’ve returned home or even years later. In the digital age it could even be an online travel journal. Some great online ones include:

I prefer the good pen to paper, but the choice is yours.

24. Put the camera down (even just for a moment).  

There is a fine line between having great snaps of your trip, and living the whole trip from behind the camera. Take a moment to step out from behind the camera lens and experience that moment, in the moment, without worrying about capturing it for later. Yeah, you may want great photos (don’t we all) but what’s the point of trying to capture it & only experiencing things through a lens in the first place?

25. Don’t stress!

Shit happens and on most trips i can almost guarantee that something won’t go to plan… but everything works out in the end.

Sometimes the most tricky situations end up be the funniest moments of the trip! They help to bring you closer to your traveling companions and they’ll certainly be the stories that you will share with people when you get home. Traveling is the BEST thing you could ever invest your time and money into, so go with the flow, and make sure you enjoy every minute.


There you have it! Some of my fave travel tips.

Some I’m sure you’ve heard before, but maybe there are some new ones in there that you can take note of, so i hope they were helpful.

I’ll do a follow up with more of my tips down the track, but If there are any specific tips or destinations you’d like advice on, feel free to contact me.

Please also SHARE with us any tips you’ve picked up on your adventures. I’d love to hear your ideas as some of these can mean the difference between a great experience, and a miserable one so do let us know!

Kate xx

Embrace your inner child….Let go, laugh and see the world differently.

One of the most popular posts on this week was this photo…..It’s of me doing a cartwheel on the beach up at ‘Seal Rocks’… a camping spot in Myall Lakes National Park, about 3hrs from Sydney.

The caption to the post was ‘If we could all see the world through the eyes of a child, we would see magic in everything!’ and i was urging my gorgeous clients and followers to try and embrace their inner child more…. By letting go, having a laugh, making time for play, getting active and to embrace the innocence of a child. To open your eyes to the world with innocence, wonder and fascination.

I’m not sure what brought it to mind. Maybe it was seeing how much fun my friends kids we’re having on the trampoline at a 3yr old birthday party, or maybe it was saying goodbye to a beautiful soul, taken too soon, but it got me thinking about how seeing and experiencing the world through the eyes of a child would be a pretty magical thing.

Can you remember what it was like experiencing something for the 1st time as a kid? I don’t know about you, but there was ALWAYS something exciting to see, do, touch, feel, eat, drink etc… You had no preconceived ideas, expectations or ideals of how things should be. There was no discrimination or judgement of others, and you made new friends everywhere you went. There were no real rules about how we should behave (or if you did play up a bit, you we’re a kid, so it was expected and you’d soon be forgiven). You weren’t self conscious, you were brave and you were willing to try new things (as long as Mum or Dad held your hand). I loved being a kid and I love the idea of embracing these qualities in life as an adult.

Yes, i understand that there are more consequences for our actions as an adult, but so many of these traits can be embraced and I believe that if we all took the time to act like kids more often, we’d all be happier and we truly would see the magic in everything!

So, where in the world would be the BEST places to let your inner child run free?

Here are 3 of my FAVE holiday ideas that would feed the inner child within us all!


Is there really any other destination that could be #1?

Come on… I don’t care how tough you are, EVERY kid either wants to or has wanted to go to Disneyland, and even as an adult, there is something about walking through those gates, to the ‘happiest place on earth’, that gets under your skin. You can’t help be amazed by Disneyland and being a big kid makes it all the better!

Wide eyed you look around in wonder at the parade of characters passing you by, you take a spin in the tea cups (which spin a lot faster that you might think), you run from ride to ride to make sure you don’t miss anything, and yes.. you take the ‘Its a small world’ boat ride, and sing along (for the 1st couple of rounds anyway, then it gets annoying and stuck in your head for the rest of the day).

After eating your weight in hot dogs and fairy floss, purchase your Mickey Mouse ears and ride the famous Ferris wheel, you stand there in awe as the fireworks display caps off a magical day. As you wander back to your hotel, you start to think that yes, maybe Disneyland really IS the happiest place on earth.

Disneyland aside, California also has loads of other attractions where you can take that inner child out to play. Universal Studios, Magic Mountain, Knotts Berry Farm, Hollywood, Legoland, San Diego Sea World and San Diego Zoo to name a few. From brushing shoulders with your favorite movies stars, to riding the fastest most vertical roller coasters in the world… I know that when I’m at a theme park, any day to day ‘adult’ stresses are easily forgotten.

So, take the time to have a laugh, eat too much sugar, scream your head off and enjoy the ride (pun intended).

2. Any SKI RESORT in the world!

snow 1

A snow holiday has got to be on your list for an escape, that would transport you back to that moment in time when you were fearless, carefree and in awe of mother nature.

Whether you’re a man, woman or child, there is no denying the beauty of watching a perfectly formed snowflake glide down onto your hand, and I can assure you that no matter where you are, when you see the snow falling outside your window, it will ALWAYS have you yelling out to whoever is in ear shot… ‘It’s SNOWING!’

Ski resorts these days offer a plethora of activities that will bring out the big kid in everyone. Tube parks, Terrain parks, Ski and Boarder cross courses, Ice skating, Snow shoeing, Ski and snowboard camps & lessons for people of every age and experience level… the list goes on!

Some of my faves? Whistler Blackcomb, Canada is hard to beat, as it’s North Americas largest resort and offers so much terrain and a hugggeeeee range of activities including most of the above mentioned non skiing attractions. Hakuba, Japanis still emerging as a world class ski village, with 7 mountains to explore and the fluffiest white POW you’ll ever ride… plus the vending machines that dispense beer are of course a child like (yet adult version) novelty. Vail, Colorado – USA is another awesome resort, with an awesome village vibe, great terrain and another HUGE range of non skiing activities like ten pin bowling, movie theaters, snow snowmobiling and more. In Europe, it’s hard to pass on 3 Vallees ski area. It’s the largest ski area in the world, and is made up of 8 separate ski resorts and 600km of interconnected terrain. WOW!

Want to be a big kid? Rug up, take a walk in the snow, let go, fall back and make a snow angel. Throw a cheeky snowball at your best mate and race each other down the mountain. Take a chance, make that turn, do that jump or slide that rail..The ski fields will bring out the big kid in everyone.



When chatting to friends and clients Africa is on almost everyone’s bucket list, and having been there a couple of times, there is no other place that has opened my eyes more to the people, the culture and of course the animals. I mean, who doesn’t want to see the Lion King come to life?

To explore this fascinating continent like a child just embrace that quality of wide eyed wonder and anticipation, that is so often lost as an adult….

Imagine you’re on a safari in Kruger National Park and you are in an open topped vehicle with a ranger by your side. You know there are lions in the park, as your guide has pointed out their tracks and you’ve seen where they spent the night and where they made their last kill, but where are they? The truck crawls along at a snails pace, quietly, slowly in the hope of rounding a corner and finding a lioness with her cubs. As adults it’s easy to lose hope, get disheartened, bored, impatient even. You’ve seen safari’s on documentaries and you expect to see what you’ve paid to see and it can sometimes take hours to see anything of particular note. On the flip side I’ve watched kids on Safari and they don’t have that.They remain focused & patient and they are excited to see what awaits around that corner. They have no preconceived ideas of what they are supposed to see and EVERYTHING amazes them. Be it 10 minutes or 2 hours they are ready for it, often the first to spot the king of jungle when he finally wanders sleepily across the very road you are traveling, blissfully unaware that we are waiting for him. Amazing!

Africa is SO diverse that apart from the safari’s and the anticipation of seeing your favorite African animal in the flesh, you can be cage diving with great white sharks one day, and dancing with the Masai Mara the next.

There are SO many options when it comes to seeing Africa. From fully guided tours and safaris, to self drive itineraries you can do it your way… but by stepping out of your comfort zone, embracing the culture, throwing out judgements of yourself and others, and trying new things…you will discover more of yourself and what you are capable of. Kids do this well… so take a leaf from their book and be silly, participate in those dances, try that strange local delicacy and have a good laugh at yourself.

I hope you choose to take note of some of my insights into travel and how to see the world we live in differently. There is a lot to be said for seeing things the way a child would see it, or acting the way a child would act, so for your next trip why not choose something that will help you embrace that, and let go a little!

Life is too serious to be serious all the time, and if we are true to ourselves….Dance if we want to dance, sing if we want to sing, and scream if we want to scream, i think life and travel would be a lot more real and a lot more fun, and we’d have friends all over the world.

What child like qualities would you want to embrace when traveling? What destinations do you think would be perfect to let go, have a laugh and be a big kid? Share with us, as I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Kate xx

Lust List – Top 5 romantic destinations!

It’s that day of the year again that people literally love or hate, Valentines Day!  Whether you buy into it or not, it’s everywhere, so I figured I would embrace the day and share with you my Top 5 LUST worthy destinations for romance!

I’ve also been planning some splendid honeymoons lately, and have found some spectacular locations for you and your loved one to lap up the luxury & indulge in some alone time, from the cliché (yet undeniably lust worthy), to the off the beaten track, here are 5 of my faves!

Lake Louise – Canada

Lake louise 1

What can I say? I’m a sucker for the snow, and to me nothing says romance like an  embrace in the mountains. Snow falling softly, crisp mountain air, a warm crackling fire, blankets to rug up in, a bubbling outdoor Jacuzzi and glass of mulled wine or a hot chocolate… tell me this isn’t romance bliss!

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise knows how to do romance. Often found on the prestigious Conde Nast Traveler “Gold List” for hospitality excellence, It’s set amongst souring mountain peaks, glaciers, waterfalls and on the iconic emerald lake.

From a sleigh ride for two around the lake to ice skating hand in hand. A picnic hike into the mountains or a couples massage at their award winning day spa. Star gazing by night or Après & afternoon tea for two after a day of skiing…. the opportunities for romance are endless, and the mountains are sure to bring you closer to the one you love.

Santorini – Greece 

Canaves oia 1

This is a no brainer, and Santorini has been listed as one of the worlds most romantic destinations for decades, but it’s certainly one that’s got to be seen and experienced to believe.

Iconic Oia sunsets, private yachting, gourmet dining, wine tasting, donkey rides (if your romance needs a little adventure) .. the list goes on, and my favourite property in which to experience it all from? Canaves Oia Hotel.

A luxury property, set into the Cliffside with elegantly designed suites for you to enjoy this spectacular destination. A member of ‘Small luxury hotels’ of the world’ this property is small in size, but big on bliss and I can imagine you relaxing poolside, set against the traditional white buildings, overlooking the sea. Can you?

The Daintree – Australia

Australia has wonderful diversity when it comes to romantic escapes. From the outback to the city, the beaches and the mountains… but nothing whispers romance like tropical seclusion and walking barefoot on a pristine private beach, miles from anywhere.

The Daintree rainforest, Queensland offers the opportunity to get lost in the moment, and the private islands and eco lodges will whisk you away into your own private love bubble. Experiences like sailing, diving, snorkelling, hiking, wellness programs and fine dining, will ensure that there is something for even the most active ‘I can’t sit still’ couple.

One such destination is the Bloomfield Lodge, a beautifully remote, captivating, boutique property, on the fringe of the World Heritage Daintree Rainforest in Far North Queensland. It’s one of Australia’s most exclusive getaways, and the Eco lodge combines luxury accommodation with gourmet dining, and is also a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. It was also recently ranked No1 in Forbes Magazine as the ‘Worlds Best Remote Hotel’… and with a range of accommodation options there is something for everyone.

Bora Bora – Tahiti

Tahiti would be on the list of almost any ‘bride to be’, as her dream Honeymoon destination, and having planned countless visits for my clients, their reaction is always the same… ‘Breathtaking’, and Bora Bora is always described to me as if they have stepped out of a dream and into reality, so it’s somewhere that certainly has to be experienced to be believed.

Bra Bora is an island in French Polynesia, and is surrounded by barrier reef and a shimmering aqua lagoon. In the centre of the island lays an extinct volcano rising to two peaks, Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu. This volcano and lagoon set the backdrop for one of the romantic destinations you could visit, and a trip to Bora Bora wouldn’t be complete without a stay at the stunning St Regis, Bora Bora.

One of the most exclusive resorts in the region, they proclaim to match blissful Polynesian paradise with flawless signature service, and by all accounts they do! Another property to make a regular appearance on the Conde Nast Traveler “Gold List”, the St Regis, Bora Bora provides a tropical paradise with a contemporary Asian flair!

If the stunning location isn’t enough to transport you to world of bliss, their selection of romance activities certainly should. From the Miri Miri day spa to a private island photo shoot. Champagne sunset cruises, personal dive trips and much much more, it’s a haven that will leave you speechless from the moment you arrive.

Taj Mahal, Agra – India

While I admit this isn’t the 1st place you think of when you think of ‘romantic destination’s, and surely the likes of Paris or The Maldives would be ahead of India on my list, but nothing has moved me more in my travels, than standing in front of the ‘Taj Mahal’ .. The worlds greatest declaration of love. I thought it would be a miss not to have this on my list.

You’ve seen pictures of her in books, magazines and in movies all your life, but nothing can quiet compare to that moment you walk through the arch way, and see her standing there in all her glory. Time seems to stand still, and every image you’ve seen of her vanishes away, as they in no way do her justice. There is an awe and a kind of magic that seems to radiate from her and despite the tens of thousands of people swarming around you, it sort of feels like it’s just the two of you. To share that moment, with the one you love would undoubtedly bring you together, and while most women would nudge their partner and ask ‘would you build something like this for me?’ it’s undeniably one of the worlds most romantic buildings, and perhaps a little less cliché than the Eiffel Tower in France or the Sydney Opera House.

For your stay in Agra, romance it up at the beautiful The Oberoi Amarvilasm Agra. One of Agra’s most luxurious properties, you can wake up to the view of the Taj Mahal from your room, and watch her dance in golden light of the morning sun.

The resort will leave you and your loved one feeling like an Emperor or Princess, in surroundings of pavilions, manicured lawns, reflection pools and a selection of dining choices that will fulfil your appetite after a day or two exploring Agra.

So take your partners hand, wake up to the Taj Mahal, and share a moment under the archway at the greatest monument of love in the world.

That completes my choice of 5 Lust Worthy Romantic Destinations, but the list could go on and on. Everyone’s idea of romance is different, and could be as simple as a candle lit dinner at home, dressed in style. I’d love to hear your ideas of your favourite romantic destinations, as I’m always planning honeymoons and looking for fresh inspiration.

As for today and the dreaded V DAY…If you are lucky enough to be with the person you love, do more today than send a card because you have to. Simply celebrate what you have and never take it for granted. Then plan your next romantic getaway, and let me know if I can help 😉 hehe

Happy Valentines day to all of my loves…. You know who you are xxx

Kate x

‘Seeing with new eyes’

‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes’

(Marcel Proust)

We travel to explore, to get lost, to find adventure, to find ourselves, for new experiences, to meet people…. and the list goes on.

We travel because we crave something more!

I know this is a strange post, coming from someone who arranges travel for a living, but it’s something that I wanted to share…

When we discuss travel, we tend to let our minds wander to faraway places and exotic destinations. We often get so lost in the idea that travel has to take us somewhere physically, that we forget that one of the best rewards of travel, and that is being moved emotionally… somewhere deep in our hearts and souls.

Why can’t this be something new here at home? Why is it so easy to forget about some of the magical experiences to be had, right on our door step?

I’ve been thinking more and more of this lately, as I have seen that for some people it isn’t always possible to travel far and wide. Work, family and financial commitments tend to restrict our plans for travel and even health limitations mean that a lot of us can’t travel as far as we’d like, so I feel that it’s important for all of us to remember that there is always something new to discover, right where we are… and it’s as simple as taking a moment to look at things a little differently and to open your eyes to what’s around you.

To highlight this within my own lifestyle, I’ve made an effort this summer to explore a little closer to home. For me it was as simple as seeing Sydney with new eyes, and the sights, rewards and ‘moments’ have been just as rewarding as many of those experienced on the other side of the world.

While I’ve spent past years working in Sydney, and visiting friends who live around various parts of the city, I’ve never truly opened my eyes to all the possibilities that Sydney holds. It was only recently when I moved to the Northern Beaches, that I found the time to explore a little deeper, and what I’ve found has been truly beautiful…. and not all of the sights are what you would imagine.

Yes, there is there are our stunning beaches and Sydney Harbour, with the iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera house which are all unmissable, but it’s about experiencing it all a little differently.

Here are my top 3 Sydney discoveries from this summer, and while I thought I’d seen and done most of Sydney, it just goes to show that no matter where you are there are always new things to discover that will move you as much as an experience on the other side of the globe.

1. Discovering the urban art of Sydney

In November/December 2013 I took a DSLR ‘Camera Craft’ photography workshop, in the hope of developing my photography skills, and for the final project I chose Sydney’s urban art scene as my subject.

While I’d never heard much about Sydney’s Urban art scene,  this style of art had caught my attention from recent visits to Paris and London. After taking a walking photography tour through Brick lane in London I discovered how much talent can be found in the most unexpected places, so I thought Sydney must have a similar art culture somewhere… I’d just never thought to look.

Urban art evolved from the roots of street art, graffiti & stencilling, but can now be much more than that, so I took the time to do some research, and I was right… Sydney had some amazing street art pieces and legal walls, where artists could exhibit their work. So from Bondi Beach, to the lane ways of St Peters I took to the streets to photograph some of Sydney’s street art, and what I discovered was a whole new element to a city that is normally all sunny beaches and harbour cruises.

On my travels I discovered some amazing little café’s, restaurants and boutiques, which I never would have found otherwise, and got to talking to some of the artists themselves who we’re so so grateful (and surprised) that I was wandering the streets in search of their work… so if you’re into art, street culture, photography or just want to get off the beaten track, exploring the back streets of Sydney opens up a whole new world of things to discover.

If you want to check it out for yourself, I took to the streets of Surry Hills, Bondi Beach, St Peters, Newtown & Glebe on foot… but there is so much more out there to see.

I’m yet to find any particular guided tours, although I know they spring up through galleries and art groups every now and then… otherwise keep an eye out for an urban art exhibition, through the following links which will keep you up to date on what’s on in the art world in Sydney:

2. Simple pleasures in Balmoral

When travelling, it seems as though you are always on the lookout for your next meal. Finding a great restaurant and a beautiful or unique dining experience will almost always get a mention upon returning from a holiday…. So why can’t it be the same at home?

One such experience for me this summer has been the Balmoral Boatshed, and always stunning & delicious ‘Boat house café’.

Set on Balmoral Beach, in Mossman the Boat House café is living up to its mission statement of being all about a beachside setting, fresh modern Australian cuisine, rustic furnishings + interiors + an abundance of flowers + plants.

As you enter the café you’re greeted with the smell of their beautifully arranged  fresh flowers, and produce at the front door. As you take your seat, you are settled at a table on the boarded pier, under their ‘nautical’  blue and white striped umbrellas, with gorgeous views over the beach. You have the sea breeze gently touching your skin to keep you cool, and there is a buzz of activity as staff whisk orders out, and clear tables to keep up with the very high demand of patrons.

While it’s a popular spot, and very busy on weekends, the staff are always pleasant and smiling, with no sign of the pressures  no doubt going on behind the scenes and the food comes out surprisingly fast!

The food is fresh, and designed around the available local produce, and the menu is ever changing. There is the perfect variety of food, so whether it’s a lazy Sunday morning with Eggs Bennie & a coffee, or a Saturday afternoon by the seaside with a bucket of prawns and a glass of vino … The Boat house café has something for everyone.

Oh, and did I mention you can grab a stand up Paddle board and explore Balmoral Beach & the moorings? The perfect way to work up an appetite, or to work off those homemade macaroons.

The next time you’re in Sydney check it out, as it’s one of those complete dining experiences that could transport you to a beachside setting on the Isle of Capri, Italy.

3. Let music whisk you away, under the sails of the Opera House!  

I have to say, Sydney Harbour is absolutely spectacular, and it’s such a shame that it is SO easy to take it for granted as a local. Like anything I suppose, you do become a little desensitised to it if you see it too often, but standing there and taking a moment to breathe it in, you are reminded of just how beautiful it is.

Imagine the iconic Harbour Bridge by night, with the lights of the city as her backdrop. When you look up, you see the sails of the Opera House bathed in blue and yellow lights. Now add the feeling of a warm summers night, and the sounds of a live band with slow, rhythmic, deep tones that wash over you…. THAT is the Sydney Harbour experience I’m talking about, and why you should discover the iconic Sydney Harbour in a new light.

Not since 1996 and the ‘Crowded House’ farewell tour, had I attended a live music concert on the forecourt at the steps of the Sydney Opera House.  I’ve attended Ballet and other performances inside the theatre since, and I have enjoyed a drink (or three) at the famous Opera Bar … but I’d forgotten what a spectacular music venue the forecourt is, so I was beyond grateful that my boyfriend Scott and I got to see ‘The National’ as a part of the Opera House ‘Music at the House’ concert series. A live music program over summer that showcases everything from Rock to Reggae, outside under the stars.

For the whole concert not only was I blown away by the music (If you haven’t listened to the National, you should!) but I was in absolute awe of the setting and I kept catching myself looking back into the sails of the Opera House and over to the bridge, as I allowed the spine tingling music engulf me. It’s a music venue like no other, and a wonderful way to experience the destination.

If you are in Sydney and enjoy live music, check out the upcoming shows still available for the series, otherwise there will be more live music opportunities at the Opera House forecourt over the annual ‘Vivid Live’ festival, which showcases music, light, art and ideas.

Another great resource is NSW Tourism, who list loads of ‘what’s on’ on the below site:

So there you have it… Just a few of the moments I’ve had this summer while exploring parts of a city that I’ve been around my whole life. All it took was for me to open my eyes a little, step off the well-worn path and dive a little deeper.

If you’re craving the sense of accomplishment that travelling offers, or you’re looking for something new or a little piece of adventure, but can’t jump on the next flight out of here, just find a new way to look at the things right where you are.

We are all guilty of taking the things in front of us for granted… but I can assure you that when you look, there will be something there to capture you and whisk you away to that moment and that place in your heart that is looking for something more.

Kate xxx

What have you discovered close to home this summer? (Or winter if you’re from the Northern Hemisphere?) I’d love ideas, and perhaps you can inspire others to get out and open their eyes to what’s right in front of them too.

Looking for travel inspo? Tell me where you want to go!

I had so much fun last week doing my BLOG by request, that i thought I’d do it again! Last weeks post took us to New Zealand, so let’s see where you want us to go this week.

Like i said, i’ve been to almost 50 countries so i’ve more than LIKELY been to where you want to go, so I’m taking suggestions!!

Tell me where YOU want to be inspired about & I’ll write about it.

Alternatively, if YOU have your own travel blog and would like to feature a destination on MyTraveLust, i would love to hear from you. Submit your article to by Friday the 24th of Jan, and I’ll choose a great destination to feature on the blog.

I can’t WAIT to hear from you and hopefully i can continue to inspire your LUST for travel!

Is a ‘Bucket list’ the new ‘New Year’s Resolution’ ?

With 2014 coming at us FAST, I figure it’s a great time to reflect on my year that was 2013 and set some goals for the new year. It also got me thinking about New Years Resolutions v’s Bucket Lists. I wonder,  Is there more value in creating a full list of goals, dreams & desires with specific items to achieve and aim for, rather than some a random resolution that you declare and then generally (in most cases) fail to follow through on? Or is a Bucket List just another way for us to say all of the things we WANT without any specific goals to help us get there? hmmmm

I don’t know about you, but I’m CRAP at new years resolutions. Admittedly I’ve never had any nasty habits to try and kick like smoking, drinking excessively or eating shit, but I normally jump on the band wagon and make one or two random statements like ‘ I WANT TO EAT BETTER’ or ‘I WANT TO TALK MORE AND TEXT LESS’ and of course it never happens.

This year was kind of different though, and i went for a different angle….

As 2013 kicked off, with another 30 something birthday looming, I started freaking out!

While I was grateful that I was surrounded by the love and support of some amazing family & friends, and I had been fortunate enough to travel the world, something was missing. I had no direction, I lacked passion for what I was doing, I was wallowing in regret and guilt from the past and held genuine fear and anxiety for the future. I was stuck in a hole that I’d created in my mind and I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to dig my way out of it. It was blatantly obvious to me (and everyone around me) that something had to give…… but finally I was ready (well kind of ready!).

It seemed too late for me to be making ‘New Year’s resolutions (and they never seem to work anyway) so on the suggestion from a friend I created a bucket list!

I know the term ‘bucket list’ sounds morbid, as they are generally a list of things to do ‘before you die’, but I was keen to look at it as more of an inspiration list. So, to get started I created a list of 101 things I wanted to do that would help me live the life I love.

The list would be made up of things that I either wanted to see, experience or achieve, and traits that i wanted to live by. This also includes items on my list that would involve others or directly benefit other people, as i know that part of how i see my future is a life of generosity and gratefulness.

I felt that having a list (that is no way comprehensive) would help me find some focus, direction and motivation to start living for now, and create opportunities to share these experiences with people I love. I figure that even if i achieved just one thing, it would mean that I’ve done SOMETHING for myself, that I’d wanted to do (otherwise it wouldn’t have been on the list!).

While I’m still putting the list together and am not quite ready to share the whole list with you yet, below are some of my favorite things I’ve been able to tick off this year. By sitting down and looking at what i really wanted to do, it inspired me to get out there and start doing some of them… Without that list, i may have still done one or two, but i wouldn’t have had anything tangible to go to when i was looking for some motivation.

So, here ya go!

1. Get my scuba diving certification ✅

Congrats, you are now a diver!
Congrats, you are now a diver!

I’ve ALWAYS wanted to Scuba Dive, but as usual I’ve just never had the time to do it. After some serious dive envy and seeing people around me get their certifications, I figured it was about time I threw myself in at the deep end (so to speak! HA), so I headed to the clear (but chilly) water of Shelly Beach, in Manly (Sydney) and completed the 3 day course over two weekends.

I loved the silence and stillness of being underwater, as there wasn’t anything to think about other than my breath (oh, and what hand signals we’re what, and I had a few gauges to keep an eye on, but other than that…. silence!). I felt absolute peace being underwater. No fear, just excitement and I was surprised at how easily I dropped down to depth with a calmness that I haven’t felt for a long time.

Achieving my certification not only allows me access to a whole other world of marine & plant life to discover, but it completely opens up new travel destinations that are more dive specific… and i can’t WAIT to get out and explore some of them in the future.

2. See the Taj Mahal ✅

The beauty herself!

As per my last Blog Post, India had been on my list since i was little and I finally made it!

While India is full of magical sites, and experiences that cannot compare to anywhere else in the world, there is something special about the Taj Mahal! She was better than you could ever imagine!

You’ve seen pictures of her in books, magazines and in movies all your life, but nothing can quiet compare to that moment you walk through the arch way, and see her standing there in all her glory. Time seems to stand still, and every image you’ve seen of her vanishes away, as they in no way do her justice. There is an awe and a kind of magic that seems to radiate from her and despite the tens of thousands of people swarming around you, it sort of feels like it’s just the two of you. She is majestic and that moment took my breath away and brought a tear to my eye.

3. Go on a yoga retreat to India ✅

Beautiful sunsets at Basunti!
Beautiful sunsets at Basunti Retreat, India!

Yoga had become a huge part of my life in 2012/2013, and i have tried to maintain a regular practice. I am lucky enough to have 2 amazing Yoga studios close to home in Wollongong, Ray of Light Yoga in Bulli, and Younga Yoga in Wollonong, and I’ve gained so so much from attending classes with the various teachers I’ve met, but I wanted to explore it a little deeper.

Yoga in India is like something out of a dream, and i was lucky enough to attend Basunti Retreat, with Lucy Roberts on a 7 day retreat. It was blissful, educational and i was surrounded by inspirational people and a stunning setting, which brought it all together perfectly. Most importantly the retreat awoken my passion for Yoga and the possibilities it could hold for the future. More personal development in my own practice, learning, traveling and perhaps one day sharing this knowledge and passion with others. We’ll see….

If you want to read more about it, check out the post

4. Hike Nepal (Everest base camp) ✅

YEW! Base camp.

Like India, Nepal and hiking Everest Base camp was a big thing that had been on my ‘to do’ list for some time, and Yep i finally achieved it this year and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life!

Not only was Nepal itself one of the most beautiful, fascinating, and friendly countries I’d been to, but achieving something as physically and mentally demanding as hiking to Everest Base camp was a proud and satisfying moment…. and that first glimpse of Everest’s shadows appearing through the clouds at sunrise was another moment that I’ll remember forever.

Check out my post for more about this amazing hike.

5. Try stand up paddle boarding &  SUP YOGA ✅

SUP Yoga! * Note.. Image is not me! Lol
SUP Yoga! * Note.. Image is not me! Lol

This one seemed basic compared to the other items i was able to tick off my list this year, but my bucket list isn’t all about big trips, and grand experiences. I want to learn and discover things in my own backyard as well, as it’s often the little things or moments, that end up being the most special.

Paddle boarding on a flat bay or lake was easy enough and good for my core strength, but doing it in the surf was another matter all together…. Something that i definitely need to practice!

I’d also seen images of SUP (Stand up Paddle board) YOGA, and THAT’S what i wanted to do. Taking the boards out at Balmoral, and giving it all a crack was a laugh, and after a few wobbly moments it was time to take some of my Yoga moves to the board… and to my surprise i was able to manage a few. I certainly intend to explore this further also, as it’s a cheap and fun way to spend an hour or so on a weekend… (Stay tuned for photos the next time i get out there!)

21. Do a DSLR photography course ✅

Capturing Street Art, Sydney.

Photography has always been a hobby of mine, and people had often remarked that i had a good eye for it… so it was something i was keen to look into. I had some limited experience with a DSLR camera from High School, but I knew there was more to it and it took a mate to basically sign me up, to get it done, and I’m glad i did!

Not only did the course give me more knowledge on the camera and the basics of photography, but it took me out of my comfort zone a little and back to learning a brand new skill. You kind of forget what it’s like to be new at something, when you’ve been in the same job for a while and it was an awesome experience.

It also took me to the streets of Sydney where i was able to discover some amazing street art, that i never would have seen otherwise. You also forget how much there is to discover in your very own back yard, so it definitely opened my eyes to that.

I’ll definitely be progressing through to the next course, and anyone interested should look into the Australian Centre of Photography in Paddington, Sydney.

6. Go on the Violet Junk, Halong Bay – Vietnam ✅

Taking it all in. The view of Halong Bay, from my balcony.
Taking it all in. The view of Halong Bay, from my balcony.

Another travel ‘Bucket List’ moment, and this time a little bit of splurging and a stay on the beautiful Violet Junk, on Halong Bay.

Being in Travel opens the eyes to new experiences everyday, and this is something that caught my attention a while back, whilst planning Vietnam journeys and seeing colleagues add it to their own Vietnam Itineraries.

It’s a traditional Vietnamese Junk (boat) that cruises on the UNESCO, World Heritage listed, Halong Bay. Exploring the spectacular bay made up of over 2000 limestone Islands, we we’re able to discover fine food, wine, and activities like bike riding, hiking and kayaking all from the comfort of a boat with just 6 luxury cabins (personal jacuzzi and all!)

The perfect way to see Halong Bay, and something that i am now suggesting to all of my clients for their own Vietnam travels.

7. Scuba dive Great Barrier Reef✅

Scuba Diving… Tick!

After obtaining my Padi certification this year, it was time to explore somewhere a little more exciting than the beaches of Manly, and living in Australia, it was obvious that The Great Barrier Reef would be my choice!

A weekend away, with 2 days out on the reef ensured that the underwater world I now had access to truly came to life! Getting up close and personal with the fish, Coral and all kinds of sea creatures helped to confirm my new love for exploring the deep, and has now only dampened my appetite for more.

8. Great Wall of china ✅

The Great Wall of China! (Well, kind of)

One of the perks of my career is the opportunity to visit some amazing destinations for ‘work’ and this year i was able to finally tick China off my list, with a visit to Shanghai for ILTM (The International Luxury Travel Market). I hopped a flight up to Beijing after the event and although it was a foggy, rainy day i got to climb the Great Wall of China!!

I did an ‘Urban Experience’ day tour with ‘Intrepid’ as i was on my own, and wanted to meet some people to share the experience with. The walk along the wall itself was interesting with people from all walks of life exploring the various sections. There we’re mad hikers with their hiking boots & waterproof gear, then there we’re girls in heels and pretty umbrellas tip toeing through the puddles and navigating the steep stone steps… definitely an eye opener, that provided a few laughs.

It was a surreal moment being up there, and a bit of a shame that i couldn’t see the wall stretch out across the horizon, but it was still fabulous and a great moment to tick off my list!

9. Cycle in Vietnam ✅

Exploring one of the Islands on Halong Bay, by bike!

While i hadn’t ever really defined exactly how much cycling i wanted to do in Vietnam, i knew that it was a great way to see the various towns and cities as it allows you to immerse yourself a little bit and get a little closer to the action… SO i made sure that wherever we went in Vietnam that we had some cycling on the itinerary.

All in all we cycled in Halong Bay, Hoi An and Nha Trang and got to see lots of the smaller back streets, and remote locations that truly highlights the pulse of the country. We went out to remote herb farms, and farming communities that can only be accessed by bike… A beautiful way to see the sights.

10.  Sunset or sunrise over Angkor Wat, Cambodia ✅

Angkor Wat at Sunrise, Cambodia.

Another one for the ultimate bucket list (especially for a traveler!) Sunset OR Sunrise over Angkor Wat in Cambodia!

A UNESCO World Heritage site, and the worlds largest religious monuments it’s a site that was built in the early 12th century. With Cambodia being a relatively new tourist destination, there are around 1.7million visitors to the Angkor Temples annually, and it’s a number that will continue to grow.

We we’re able to visit the site without the crowds at sunrise, with the fabulous tour company Trails of Indochina. It was a 4am wake up call, but the early trip out to the site was well worth it. A clear view of the fabulous temple, with the sun peaking over the temple with a clear blue sky emerging in the dawn of the new day. We had time to explore the sites early while all the other tourists returned to their hotels for Breakfast, which meant we also avoided the midday heat, and we’re back at the hotel in the pool by the time most other companies we’re out there talking guests through the various sites.

A truly spectacular site, and worth visiting in the near future before mainstream tourism envelops Cambodia.

11. Start a travel blog or photo journal of my adventures ✅

My Blog… MyTraveLust!

Well here we are reading my BLOG MyTraveLust!

It was something I’d wanted to do for a while, and the 3 month trip i embarked on this year was the perfect opportunity to start my blog. I know that i have alot of knowledge about travel to share, and i wanted to capture some of my travel memories, and if nothing else keep a personal record of my trip and share this with you.

I’m still so new to the blog world, and am learning more and more every day, but i hope you are enjoying it so far. I hope to continue the growth and development of MyTraveLust in 2014, with a vision for it to become not only a place for me to share my passion but for you to gain even further inspiration and use it as a tool in planning your own travel adventures.

12. See an intimate gig for one of my fave bands!

Music is a huge part of my life! I have been to more gigs than i can count, and the radio, ipod or spotify is always on. I don’t watch TV… I listen to music, and it was out of sheer LUCK this year,  that I was able to score tickets to see Kings of Leon at The Enmore Theatre in Sydney! A venue that holds less than 2000 people (which for a band as big as Kings of Leon, is as intimate as you can get!)

They we’re out here for a 1 off show for Triple M, and we’re playing just one MASSIVE Gig at Sydney Harbour that you had to win tickets too. Missing out on that (and admittedly it was not my scene) I lucked out when i heard an announcement for a last minute GIG for Triple J. Stokedddddddddddddd I scrambled for tickets, and with an ease that i didn’t know was possible when securing tickets online these days, we scored standing tickets…. and it was honestly one of the BEST concerts of my life!

Not only we’re we up close and personal with Kings of Leon, but they have such a massive range of albums with hit after hit being smashed out, and it was non stop sing alongs, dancing our butt’s off and ultimately just the sheer JOY seeing one of my fave bands, up close!

So, there you have it, my fave bucket list moments from 2013!

In the end i find the idea of a Bucket List a little more promising than having a single (or list of ) New Years resolutions, as it gives me a tangible list of things that i can look to for inspiration at any time of the year. I do however intend on creating a personal mantra for 2014 to live by, to go along with the things i want to see, do, learn, achieve and discover.

One of my beautiful Yoga teachers Morgan Webert (From Qi Yoga in Freshwater, Sydney) has just posted some info on creating a Yogic New Years resolution, which comes from the heart and aligns with your life purpose, so i will definitely look into this for my 2014 resolution.

Either way having some ideas about how you want to live and what you want to achieve is a great thing, so hopefully this will inspire you to create a list of your own, and get out there. Live your life and do things that make your soul shine. Life is too short, so take control and whether it’s a big dream or a small moment with a loved one… you should make it happen.

Kate x

I travel because ……..

Mt Everest From the top of Kala Patthar at 5643m above sea level.  The most spectacular view and the highest point i'll ever set foot!
Mt Everest From the top of Kala Patthar at 5643m above sea level. The most spectacular view and the highest point i’ll ever set foot!

I’m sitting here in Kathmandu, with just under 3 weeks of my 10 week adventure to go.  The trip has taken me from Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and the UK, to spectacular Nepal where i’ve just completed the 2 week Everest Base Camp & Kala Patthar Trek.

(Sorry, the blog is a little behind on all the details, but ill catch up!)

8 weeks down, 2.5 weeks to go!

While time has definitely slowed down compared to the rat race that is my life, the end is drawing to a close way too quickly & i can’t help but scream for it to stoppppppp!!!

I’ve spent the last 8 weeks learning to let go. Letting go of work, knowing that my friends and colleagues have my back. Letting go of fear & learning to lose myself in the moment, rather than worry about the past or future…. And letting go of expectation, knowing that what will be will be and the more I open my eyes and experience things for what they are, rather than what I ‘think’ they should be, the more I’m able to enjoy the moment and live!

… And I’m not quite ready to give that up just yet.

Being out on the road again has reminded me why I travel, and why i believe that everyone should travel.

It’s hard to find the right words to describe the feeling I get when i’m lost in a new city or discovering a new culture, and I understand these feelings would be different for everyone.

To some, travel is a holiday. An escape from the daily grind, to chill out for a week or so, before returning to their day to day routine.

But for me, and I’m sure many of you travel is so much more.

The benefits of travel are immense and i could write page after page of reasons why i believe you should travel, so ill just note a few reasons that i find most relevant to me and hopefully to you.

1. You learn about yourself and others. Not only the people you’ll meet along the way, but traveling companions too! There is no surer way to get to know someone than to travel with them.

2. You become tolerant and more compassionate, as travel will open your eyes to a world unlike you’ve ever known and it can throw all kinds of circumstances your way.

3. You learn to trust in people. Strangers in fact, and this itself pushes you out of your comfort zone.

4. You gain a new appreciation for home and all the things you have waiting for you when you return.

For me there is nothing quite like flying in over Sydney or driving down Bulli Pass in Wollongong (NSW) after a trip overseas. That feeling you get knowing you’re home, and that your friends and family are there, eager to hear about your adventures is priceless.

5. You meet like minded people and form friendships all around the world.

There is nothing better than visiting a good friend on the other side of the world, knowing that even though a year or two or three has passed, things are still the same and that there is always a home away from home for you.

Most of all, for me the benefit of travel is simply knowing that I’m alive! That I’m out discovering more than what is put in front of me and hopefully one day ill be able to share this with a family of my own and teach my children the value of experiencing the world.

People say I’m lucky that I’ve been able to travel so much, but it’s not luck! I work hard and I’ve chosen to make travel a part of my life because it’s a part of me. I know that it’s something that will help me to grow, learn, discover and be a better person. I know a job, a house, a car etc…. will always be there, but investing in travel is something that you’ll appreciate forever and no one will ever be able to take those memories away.

So, for now I’ve got just under 3 weeks of my adventure to go and while I can’t do much about time going quickly, I can ensure that my days are filled with new experiences and making the most of every single moment…. Which I plan on doing!

Today, it’s a chill day to recover from the last 2 weeks of trekking in Nepal. Then tomorrow is Varanasi, India for 2 weeks of discovering another new culture & some ‘ME’ time at the Basunti Yoga Retreat, in the Himalayan foothills of the Kangra Valley in North India.

So, Where next for you? What inspires you to travel? Share your thoughts with me, but most of all get out there!

Kate xx

Respecting traditions in a world looking for that perfect photo!

Watching the Alms giving ceremony, from afar.

It’s been over a month now since I’ve left home and looking back I have already seen and done so much, but luckily time hasn’t gone too fast, like I feared it would.

It’s funny how your perception of time shifts when you aren’t caught up in the slip stream of life, but out exploring the world and doing things you want to do, not what you feel you have to do. Everyday i’m catching myself a little more lost in the moment, which is exactly where I want to be.

Despite having only limited time at each destination, my travels in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia & Vietnam have met all my expectations and then some. I have certainly witnessed some once in a lifetime moments.

From my day with the Elephants in  Chiang Mai (as per my post ), to cooking up a storm with a Laos chef in Luang Prabang, to witnessing sunrise over Angkor Wat in Cambodia, each of these experiences has once again highlighted the value of travel.

Among the travel joys I’ve encountered on my trip so far, I have been surprised that not all of my feelings about travel and tourism have been positive.

There have been several moments where i’ve found myself despising tourism and the impact it’s having on some of the local communities and cultures, and reading more about it all only heightens my concern that the commercialism of the industry is overtaking previously authentic customs.

Take the traditional giving of Alms in Luang Prabang, Laos as an example where i honestly felt ashamed to be a tourist.

The giving of Alms is a tradition in various religions, but in buddhist culture (according to Wikipedia) the act of alms giving assists in connecting the human to the monk or nun and what he/she represents. In Luang Prabang monks rise at dawn and form a procession from oldest to youngest and collect food offerings from the towns people, however the tradition is endangered.

It became evident upon my arrival in Luang Prabang that the local people (along with UNESCO) are trying to protect the heritage and customs of this beautiful city. There are signs outlining do’s and don’ts all around town pleading with tourists to be respectful of their culture, particularly when it came to the monks and the Alms ceremony.

Requests for tourists to watch from a distance, not to use flash photography, stay lower than the monks and ideally just observe the tradition (and not actually participate) were plastered on notices in every hotel and store.

There is however a great contradiction occurring with hotels and tour companies selling ‘alms packages’ where tourists are given a pot of rice and are lined up on the street, amongst the locals to offer the monks food.

I had heard accounts of the monks getting sick from rice given by tourists, and tourists getting so close to take photos that they interrupt the procession and break the monks meditation.

We’d also heard from locals that the monks had talked with authorities about cancelling the morning ritual, as it had become so commercial, with the government responding that actors would be hired to do the ceremony, if they didn’t! What the?

So, for now the monks continue their tradition. Every morning at 530 am they take to the streets collecting food offered to them for their monasteries and while I was excited to witness the ceremony, I was also mindful of the do’s and don’ts, so I was interested to see if everyone else would be.

The next morning at 5.30am, we were sitting quietly on the opposite side of the street to where the monks would be making their way toward the monastery. We ensured we were well out of the way, and that our camera flashes were off. Then, one by one, mini van after mini van pulled up. Tourists climbed out with rice baskets in hand, mats laid out along the road and their guides talking them through the Alms process. Then, flash flash flash… The cameras went off with people posing, waiting for the arrival of the monks.

I was already feeling anxious.

As the sun started to rise, the monks in their orange robes started to appear and tourists who had previously been standing back or sitting down jumped up and got within a metre of the procession, not only blocking the view of people like us, sitting down out of the way, but getting so close that they we’re clearly being disruptive. I was witnessing all the DON’TS that the signs were pleading for people to take into account.

The don'ts of viewing the Alms ceremony in Luang Prabang...
Tourists getting WAY too close to the Alms ceremony!

Yes, like every other tourist I would have loved to capture a great photo of the monks, but I wasn’t willing to be one of ‘those’ tourists to do it.

For the remainder of the procession I tried to take in as much of the tradition as i could. I took my photos from a distance and I focussed on the locals and their faces as they gave their offerings. After the last monks had passed I left feeling so torn about tourism and the affect it was having on this and other traditions around the world.

As you know I sell travel for a living and i also love photography, especially travel photography, so I know that this completely contradicts what I do and love, but it did make me think….

It made me wonder how many other traditions or cultures are being destroyed by tourism and our craving to see the sights & get an amazing photo that will get you likes on Facebook or Instagram.

It also made me consider what I could do to lessen my impact as i travel around the world. I still want to be able to interact with ancient cultures, see the iconic sights and get some great photos along the way, so how can I do it responsibly?

The answer for me is always (ALWAYS!) respect local customs and then do my research to choose organisations (as best I can) that support responsible tourism. People who are working within their communities to preserve these traditions or seeking out locally operated or not for profit expats who are running businesses that are truly making a difference.

Since the Elephant encounter in Chiang Mai & the Alms ceremony in Luang Prabang I’ve also visited Cambodia, and made an effort to seek out experiences that not only gave me a genuine cultural experience but also supported the local community.

Haven restaurant in Siem Reap, and the Children’s development organisation i visited (coming to my blog soon!) we’re both examples of these choices and knowing that our visit was giving something back to the community made it all the more worthwhile.

I am so grateful that i have now witnessed some of these experiences first hand so that for the rest of this trip, into the future and when I’m arranging itineraries for others, I can make educated decisions about what we see, how we participate and exactly what organisations we visit. Plus i can reiterate the absolute importance of respecting the local culture.

I’m sure once i start looking there will be plenty of amazing examples of organisations who are allowing you to have an authentic cultural experience whilst ensuring the preservation and support of the people, customs and environment that we spend so much time and money coming to see.

So please… think about all of this when your planning your next trip. I promise you, it’ll be worth it!

Observing the locals participate in the morning giving of Alms.
Observing the locals participate in the morning giving of Alms.

And so my journey begins!

And so my journey begins!

A quick post to touch base, as it seems the #1 rule of effective blogging (according to ‘Blogging 101’) is be frequent and consistent with your posts. This could be hard since Internet access could be sporadic, and as I said I’m not so great at sitting still for too long, but I’ll do my best.

Firstly, WOW…. I have some followers!! Thanks guys 😉

I hope that my travels inspire YOUR lust for travel, although as MOST of you are travel agents or have already well and truly caught the travel bug, I’m sure you won’t need much inspiration.

So, my adventure has begun.

The lead up to my departure was nothing short of ridiculous. I mean absolutely bonkers! Between working 15hr days, cleaning out my unit, back to back coffee dates, farewell dinners and drinks with friends, it was safe to say that by the time I got ON the plane I was utterly exhausted. Buttttt, I made it. Phew!

I’m now in Chinag Mai, Thailand. Sitting in one of those hotel rooms, where when you’ve got the air con on, it’s too cold, but when it’s off it’s too hot (I’m going with the too cold option. I can always snuggle in my doona).

It’s been 2 days since my departure from oz, and I’m struggling to let go. I’ve been told that I HAVE to switch off my work emails repeatedly by family, friends and work colleagues, but the thought of it is giving me anxiety. (That’s NOT a good sign! But lucky it’s Thailand and I can buy Valium over the counter. Lol!)

I’m not sure why the thought of switching off my email freaks me out… I know that reading emails while i’m away isn’t going to do me much good over here, and i know my team have got my back, but I guess I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to work, and I hate having to rely on people to help me.
I know what goes around comes around, and I’ve done my fair share of helping, I guess I just like to know that everything’s ok.
I just have to keep telling myself that the point of this trip IS the let go. To relax, unwind, explore and discover new things. So, with a Singha beer in hand, i’m taking the plunge….. As of tomorrow the work email is going OFF! Eeeeeeeek

As for the actual travel experiences of the last 2 days, I’ll update you all later on the specifics of my experiences in Chiang Mai. Although it’s only been 2 days, I’ve already found the best coffee in town and helped out at the local elephant conservation program, so stay tuned.

Today i’m taking off today on a 2 day overland/boat trip from Chiang Mai in Thailand to Luang Prabang in Laos. With the sun shining and my good mate Kel to keep me company, I’m looking forward to the journey.

Kate xx