I heart San Francisco!

GG bridge

If you were born in the 80’s and watched TV as a kid in the 90’s you MUST have seen the epic US sitcom Full House (and if you are a girl, you probably had a crush on Uncle Jesse – aka John Stamos too!).

Full house 1

Not only did Full House inspire my love for double denim, socks with frills and side pony tails, but it also gave me the inspo to visit their beloved home town of San Francisco. The cable cars, painted houses and of course the Golden Gate Bridge had been firmly etched in my mind, and somehow I’d managed to miss it during past visits to the USA.

Well, not this time. This time I made sure it was on my itinerary, and despite only having a couple of days to take in the sights, I definitely made the most of it, and while I didn’t exactly leave my heart there, it certainly captured a little piece of it.

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5 tips to beat Jetlag (seriously!)

world mapJet Lag. It’s a painful reality for most long-haul travellers, and for us Aussies it’s seemingly unavoidable since the majority of our international destinations are on average over 14hrs in travel time, with often multiple time zones to cross before we reach our destinations. (Yawn! Why haven’t they invented teleportation yet?)

Over the years I’ve definitely had my fair share of Jet lag. I remember sleeping through a whole afternoon and evening in Paris, after laying down for a ‘nap’, only to wake up the next morning. Needless to say, upon realising I’d slept for about 15hrs and missed my 1st night in Paris (1 of only 3), I was gutted! Rookie error or what?

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From Bintang Singlets to Birkenstocks…. How to avoid ‘bogan bali’ & find your bliss.

As an Aussie, its around this time annually, when it seems everyone you know is off to Bali. With June to August being peak season, It’s dry, the sun is out and the surf is up, so It’s prime time to visit this stunning Indonesian Island. (Still one of Australia’s favourite playgrounds, with around 700,000 of us heading there annually).

When you mention Bali as a travel destination, you’re often met with mixed responses. People either love it or hate it, and to the haters with your preconceived ideas and memories of the Bali of old, I urge you to give Bali another go…. You never know, you may be surprised!!

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4 reasons why coming home from a trip is one of the greatest rewards of travel.

Remember the opening scene in the Hugh Grant film ‘Love actually’? Where they talk about the arrivals hall of Heathrow Terminal being one of the loveliest places to be, since it’s somewhere you rarely see hate… only love? Well, I was recently on the receiving end of an airport pick up, at Sydney Kingsford Smith, International airport, when some friends arrived from the UK for a week of sightseeing in our gorgeous city.

It was an interesting perspective for me, since I’m normally the one on the other side of the gate, but that hour or so in arrivals had my mind and heart in a flutter, as it brought back memories and feelings of the countless times I’ve both departed and arrived at Sydney airport.

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The Great Wall of China, all to yourself!

If you’re like me (and let’s face it, almost anyone with a craving for travel), The Great Wall of China, as one of the worlds most iconic travel sites is undoubtedly on your travel ‘wish list’. It’s definitely up there with the likes of the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids of Egypt or the Taj Mahal, and although I’d never really thought of China as a destination that I’d be personally NEED to visit, I have always wanted to see the Great Wall of China.

I’m lucky enough to have visited China twice now, and after a failed attempt of experiencing the wall in all it’s glory, due to heavy rain and fog (as below), I was hopeful that on my return journey this year, I’d be able to witness the iconic wall that I’d seen in so many images. That seemingly never ending stone structure, snaking it’s way up and over the mountainous terrain, and stretching out across the horizon and fading off into the distance.

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What’s Canada all ‘Aboot’ then?

Canada blog 2

In a previous post I posed the question ‘whats your favorite travel destination’, which as someone who’s been in the industry as long as i have, finds pretty hard to answer. (Read the post here: http://mytravelust.com/2014/05/20/answering-the-question-where-is-your-favouite-destination/).

If you missed it my faves (to date) were: PERU, CANADA, NEPAL, SOUTH AFRICA and CUBA (although it was so so so hard to choose!)

I posted all about Peru and what i love about it, so it’s time for the second installment which is Canada!

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What does LUXURY TRAVEL mean to you?

It’s a cold but sunny winters afternoon in Sydney and I’ve just returned from fabulous Shanghai.

I was lucky enough to attend the annual ILTM ASIA event, where I wrapped up 3 days of back to back appointments with some of the worlds very best travel experts.

Even though my heels have only just been kicked off, I’m already reflecting on my experience this year, and I have to say that I leave feeling inspired and excited to share all that I’ve discovered with you.

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There’s more to New Zealand than sheep & hobbits! (Take 2)

Well…. It appears some spammers got the better of this post, so i’ve had to delete it and re-post! If anyone has any advice for avoiding the SPAM that comes through on here, please let me know…..

Otherwise, here is my post on all things New Zealand…. Take 2!

For this week’s blog I posted the task to my Facebook audience to suggest a travel related subject for me to inspire them about, and the chosen subject is ‘New Zealand, Must do’s’.

There was just 1 response to my call out for suggestions, so Megan… this one’s for you! 😉

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Answering the question… ‘Where is your favouite destination?’

They say that there is almost nothing more beautiful than watching someone talk about something they are truly passionate about. Whether it’s a person, a place or what they ate for lunch, their eyes light up, and their hand gestures become animated, they describe every detail in such a way that you can feel their heart sing with the joy that they are able to share it with you.

Talking about travel and sharing my experiences with my family, friends and clients on a daily basis is like that for me. I’m not sure if people can actually hear my heart sing (that would be weird), but I can feel it. Knowing that I’ve have the opportunity to share my passions with someone else truly makes my soul smile.

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

 DCIM100GOPRO

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:

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/the-intrepid-experience/trip-themes

http://www.gadventures.com.au/travel-styles/active/

http://www.peregrineadventures.com/browse/activity

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 

snacks

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!

http://girlmeetsnourishment.com/real-food-travel-snacks/

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

The Cook Islands – A brief encounter!

Palm trees and Kayaks
Palm trees and Kayaks line the shore of the Aitutkai Lagoon Resort & Spa!

I recently posted all about my recent visit to the Cook Islands, (Read it here http://mytravelust.com/2014/04/02/the-cook-islands-where-smiles-are-free/  ) but I was asked to compile a little Q&A on the trip, so I thought I’d share a little more with you about when to go, what to do, where to stay, and all of my personal highlights.

 

So, here you have it…. a brief Q&A of my experiences in the stunning Cook Islands!

WHEN TO GO? You can visit the Cook Islands anytime that you want to escape the rat race of life, but the driest season is from May to October!

PLANES, TRAINS, AUTOS? Air New Zealand operate a weekly direct flight to Rarotonga from Sydney, with modern aircraft, friendly service and an excellent variety of entertainment on board. It was actually one of the best flights i’ve had in a long long time. oh, and the safety demo is pretty cool…. for once every passenger on board was watching it. Check it out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQDip9V49U0

PACKING ESSENTIALS? A bikini (or two), a camera (duh!) and a BIG SMILE to match that of the locals.

MONEY MATTERS!The currency is New Zealand dollars and credit card facilities at restaurants and stores are limited, so have access to plenty of cash. Change or order some before you get there, otherwise there are a couple of ATM’s and a Western Union that does currency exchange. Office hours are a little weird though (Island time remember) and the ATM’s were a little unreliable, so cash is KING!

MUST DO? A visit to Aitutaki. Even if it’s just for a day trip, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven. It is a true Island paradise and worth every extra dollar $$.

MUST STAY? The Aitutaki Lagoon resort. Set on one of the worlds most beautiful lagoons, it has something for everything. From paddle boards to kayaks. Crab races to fire dancers… even the most active of travelers is well taken care of here. Every villa is set on the beach, with stunning views and there is one mega Honeymoon pavilion that looks to die for!

HIGHLIGHT? Diving with turtles and some of the prettiest fish i’ve seen. If you don’t scuba dive, then there are plenty of Snorkeling tours or Lagoon cruises so that you can experience the spectacular underwater world of the Cook Islands.

MOST LUXURIOUS MOMENT? The simple things in life…Sipping on my stunning Island cocktail, in a hammock under picture perfect palm trees, whilst taking in one of the most beautiful sunsets i’ve ever seen.

MOST DELICIOUS MEAL YOU HAD? The freshly seared Tuna Salad from the Moorings Fish cafe in Rarotonga, was divine!! They prepare the menu daily based on what seafood they we’re 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!

SIGNATURE DESTINATION DRINK? All of the resorts have their signature cocktails, but nothing quite beats drinking a freshly picked, chilled young coconut from one of the local trees. Tap into the goodness!

BEST ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE? Remember it’s ISLAND TIME over there, so don’t expect things to happen in a hurry. Take a leaf from their book and chill out. There is nowhere to be in a hurry, so sit back, take it all in and relax!

IF MONEY WAS NO OBJECT ? Arrange a private plane to take you and your loved one out to a remote island for the day. You can arrange private picnics or scenic flights over the stunning area, and have it all to yourself.

WHO SHOULD GO? Honeymooners, Wedding parties, Couples, Families … Everyone!

FAMILY? ROMANCE? RELAX? ADVENTURE? Family, Romance, Relax AND Adventure, there is something here for all of you!

WHAT DID YOU BRING HOME? About 1000 photos of Aitutaki, as it was literally THAT stunning!

HOW DID IT ENRICH YOU? the people of the Cook Islands make it the special place that it is. Their smiles are genuine and their hearts are big! Embrace their way of life and they’ll open their home to you!

There you have it …. a more condensed version of my experiences, and a couple of extra pics to check out.

As always, I would love love to help get you there so get in touch is you need an expert travel stylist 😉 kate@richetravel.com.au

Kate xx

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