Friday, 19 October 2018

Why You Should Seriously Consider Solo Travel

reasons to travel solo

Even though it's been less than a week since I returned home from my trip to Florida (expect lots of Sephora hauls and photo diaries very soon), I'm already dreaming up where to visit next and as much as I loved travelling with my family and creating some incredible memories, it's definitely got me itching to plan my next spot of solo travel.

If you've been reading Ellis Tuesday for a while now, you'll know that I embarked on my first piece of solo travel last Summer when I visited New York. It was honestly one of the best experiences of my life and I was so proud of what I achieved by doing it. So I thought that I would share with you why you should seriously consider solo travel at some point in your life as well, here on the blog today.

You are completely in control

As selfish as it sounds, only having to worry about what you want to do and when is such a freeing experience. I could decide when I wanted to leave in the morning, without having to wait on others getting organised and ready, could eat when I was hungry, not when everyone else is/at places that didn't really take my fancy and could choose exactly what I wanted to do without having to compromise. You also don't have to explain your choices to anyone. Want to have ice cream for dinner? You can! Want to spend an entire day shopping? There will be no-one there to moan about it!

You'll gain confidence

When you mention to friends, family and colleagues that you're travelling somewhere on your own, many of them will say how brave you must be to do such a thing. I really didn't think about it in that way but when I returned I realised just how much I had accomplished on my trip.

Growing up I was always incredibly shy and had what I now realise was horrible anxiety. I've grown a lot as a person since then but it still doesn't stop me from saying 'you too' when the person serving me at Duty Free or WH Smith tells me to have a good flight. Saying that, I did get myself all the way from Newark Airport taking an Airtrain, a New Jersey Transit train and then finally a taxi up to Times Square without breaking a sweat. I knew exactly what tickets I needed to buy, got off at the right station and checked in at my hotel without a hitch or a worry. I sat in restaurants by myself without needing a book or my phone to keep me company. I took the Subway everywhere and didn't get lost once (I may have went down the wrong entrance one time but it was still the correct station), so much so that fellow tourists would ask me for directions thinking that I was a native New Yorker (see my top tips for navigating the NYC Subway system here)! As someone who used to get nervous going anywhere new, even if it was only a 5 minute journey from my house, on my own, I could see just how far I'd come confidence-wise on my first solo trip.

solo female travel usa

You'll also gain independence

I've always been pretty independent and prefer doing certain things such as clothes shopping and exploring on my own but nothing will make you feel more independent than being completely responsible for yourself with no one else to rely on. I was the responsible adult, which as someone who's only ever travelled with their family was something completely new to me. If I didn't do something nobody else would be there to do it for me. I had to lug my luggage around with me (if your bags are ridiculously heavy like my cabin case was going out, just ask someone who might be a little bit/a lot stronger than you to get it into the overhead bin or off of the luggage carousel, there will always be people to help you in these situations). I had to have all of my travel documents ready for immigration. I had to pay for absolutely everything (there's no going halves on dinner or cab rides).

You don't have to go it completely alone (if you don't want to)

If you want a few days or weeks completely to yourself, you can definitely keep it that way but embarking on solo travel is actually a great way to meet new people, connect with and make international acquaintances and experience new cultures. When I finalised my plans I actually found out that some fellow Scots would be in the area around the same time as me. And even though I hadn't met Hayley before back home in Scotland, we spent a Saturday together walking The High Line, going for lunch at Chelsea Market and exploring Manhattan together. It was great to finally meet her and so nice to hear someone with the same accent as me. Definitely reach out to friends and acquaintances to see if they or anyone that they know could connect with you when you're over there. Chances are there will be.

If you're staying somewhere like a hostel, the opportunities to meet new people and explore your chosen destination with other like minded people and solo travellers are even greater.

solo female travel blog

You can practice some serious self care

It might sound crazy to say that when you're on the other side of the world or in a different country/continent is actually one of the best times to practice some serious self care but it is. Self care and what you deem as self care can be different for everyone but you'll finally have time to sit and read a book cover to cover, to treat yourself to something indulgent (hello all things Glossier on my trip) or simply to stick on a movie and order room service.

Taking time out to yourself where you're not chained to your phone or going at a hundred miles an hour is so important and it'll also serve as a nice memory of your time away when you weren't rushing all over the place or trying to cram in one more attraction, museum or cultural experience.

Whether it's an overnight stay somewhere close to where you live, a weekend away in nearby Europe or a week plus (I did 11 nights myself) on another continent, I could not recommend giving solo travel a try enough to you. You'll know right away whether it's the kind of thing for you and if you're anything like me, you'll be thinking of where to go next.

Let me know if you'd like to see a blog post on the top ten places that I'd like to visit next as a solo traveller (who else has Trek America on their list?) or where I'd love to visit with friends and family (I've definitely got my eye on going somewhere either completely tropical, like the Mediterranean or the Maldives (how dreamy does this place look) or somewhere really snowy (how fantastic do these ski holidays from Mark Warner look?).

Have you ever travelled on your own? Or even just done part of a journey on your own? Does solo travel sound appealing to you? And where would you love to visit next, either on your own or with friends/family?


Sunday, 14 October 2018

How To Make A Long Haul Flight That Bit More Bearable

carry on essentials for long flights

Having just conquered two 9 hour flights to and from the US, one of which was an overnight flight, I thought that I would share how a little bit of advance preparation can go a long way in helping you not only to survive but actually enjoy the whole experience. Some of the tips may be pretty common sense but all it takes is a little forward planning to totally transform your travel time.

So here is how to make a long haul flight that bit more bearable;

Stay hydrated

My number one tip has got to be to stay hydrated. This means either buying bottled water (I try and get the biggest one I possibly can at Boots or WH Smith) once you've cleared security or bringing an empty bottle with you that you can then fill up before you fly or once you get on the plane. I've had no issues with asking the crew on board to fill up my water bottle for me either when they're doing the drinks service or just as and when I need it.

My face also gets ridiculously dry and tight feeling whenever I fly and as I'm not one of those people who does an entire skincare routine on board, the best way to combat this is to use a facial mist. This one* from La Roche-Posay is less than £3 and leaves my skin feeling fresh and a little bit less gross. There are quite a few to choose from on the market now and these are the ones that are on my list to try next;

Bring your own snacks/food

Even if you don't mind airline food, the wait for it or even just seeing the trolley off in the distance, so close but also so far, bringing your own snacks or food on board with you gets rid of all that waiting for you. You can eat at your own pace and don't need to play airline food roulette when you're really hungry.

I also wholeheartedly recommend grabbing some comfort or fast food from the airport terminal to take on board with you. On the way home from the US I normally opt for some Auntie Anne's pretzel nuggets (oh, they're good!) or Krispy Kreme doughnut holes and boy do I treasure those little bites. I've even seen someone bring an entire pizza on board with them, pizza box and all. He may not have been the most popular passenger but I think secretly those who were giving him the evils were just insanely jealous.

what to take in hand luggage for a long haul flight

Take advantage of the in-flight entertainment

If you're flying long haul it's more than likely that the plane you're on will have some form of in-flight entertainment. However, if you're travelling on a budget airline or the plane that you're flying on doesn't have either seatback or fold down screens, do not worry. A lot of streaming sites such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and even BBC iPlayer will allow you to download movies and episodes of TV shows onto your phone, tablet or laptop for you to watch at your convenience. So you don't need to worry about paying for WiFi onboard or it draining your mobile data either.

How to actually get a sleep

Some of us are lucky enough to be able to sleep anywhere (sadly I am not one of those individuals) but even I feel the need to shut my eyes and attempt to get even an hour's nap on a night flight. Here are my top tips for actually getting a sleep in economy;

1. Bring a sleep mask - even if the cabin lights are dimmed and you've got your window blind down, it's not exactly ideal lighting for getting some proper shut eye. Block it all out with a good eye mask.

Here are some of my favourite ones on the market at the moment:

2. Wear a blanket scarf - not all airlines provide you with blankets these days and even if you do get one, they can be pretty scratchy and not exactly cosy enough to nuzzle into. Whether you're flying somewhere considerably colder or flying to or from the warmest of climates, it can get pretty chilly on board. I always bring a big blanket scarf with me to keep me warm on my travels but it also doubles as a blanket on the flight. It doesn't take up any extra space in your luggage as you can have it on your person and you'll definitely be smug when you actually feel comfortable even if your seat back doesn't recline quite as much as you'd like it to.

3. Bring vitamins or supplements with you - I watch quite a lot of packing hacks and tip videos particularly in the run up to my next trip and most Youtubers seem to take natural supplements in a bid to help them sleep or just feel more relaxed on board. I was definitely keen to try some on this trip and I eventually settled on the Utmost Me Neuro Rest supplements. They are 100% natural, Vegan, vegetarian and gluten free so won't upset my stomach and seriously helped with jet lag and the change in time zones. I'm ultimately trying to get better at taking more vitamins so let me know if you'd like me to explore the world of multivitamins and supplements more in the future.

Wear flight socks

As someone with poor circulation, I always worry about sitting in the same position for too long. If I sit with my feet dangling, like I would if I'm sat on a train, in a waiting room or just in a seat that doesn't allow me to elevate them for anything longer than about ten minutes, my feet actually begin to resemble a zombie's. I'm talking purplish blue feet that don't look human at all.

Wearing flight compression socks just takes the worry of anything horrible happening off my mind. That in combination with getting up and actually walking about/down the aisles and moving my feet and legs about beside or in my seat, stops my legs from feeling stiff. I would easily recommend doing both if you're on a flight that's any longer than an hour and would say that it's pretty much a must if you're flying long haul.

So there are some of my top tips for actually enjoying that flight that you've more often than not paid hundreds of pounds for.

Do you have any tips for making a long haul flight more bearable? What do you think of my suggestions? And do you have any flights or holidays booked at the moment?


Sunday, 7 October 2018

My First Christmas Gift Set Purchase: The Stila Holiday Liquid Eye Shadow Sets

stila holiday 2018

Last year I missed out on the chance to pick up one of Stila's Holiday sets so this year I was taking no chances and ordered them as soon as they both went online.

I couldn't quite decide which of the two eyeshadow sets to go for so I ended up just having to get both of them. I've had my eye on Stila's liquid eyeshadow offerings for some time now but there are that many to choose from that I ultimately got overwhelmed each and every time that I paid the Stila stand a visit or when I was having a scroll through the shades online. I just couldn't decide which ones to try first. Also, as they're liquid eyeshadows, I didn't want to buy three or four full sizes of them only for them to inevitably dry out at some point or before I'd got as much wear out of them as I would have liked. Which is why buying the Holiday gift sets was a real no brainer for me.

So let's see exactly what you get in each of the Stila Holiday 2018 liquid eyeshadow sets;

stila all that shimmers & glow liquid eye shadow set

All That Shimmers Shimmer & Glow Set

First up we have the All That Shimmers Shimmer & Glow Set. Containing three of the Stila Shimmer & Glow liquid eyeshadows in the shades Starlight, Kitten and Espresso, the All That Shimmers set is the one for you if you love a good metallic eyeshadow. The shade Espresso, in particular, is a brand new shade for Fall 2018/the holiday season so I was particularly excited to see that as part of the set.

The one shade that I was especially keen to try was Kitten. It's just the most beautiful colour. And the third shade in this specific set is Starlight which is a gold champagne shade. Having wanted to invest in these for quite a few years now, I was over the moon to finally get a chance to try them out without having to shell out some serious ££.

stila oh my stars review

Oh My Stars Glitter & Glow Set

Talking of being impressed, the other exclusive set for the 2018 holiday season is the Oh My Stars Glitter & Glow Set. It contains three of the Glitter & Glow liquid eyeshadows in the shades Diamond Dust, Kitten Karma and Gold Goddess. Basically if you're looking to add some glitter eyeshadows that really pack a punch when it comes to pigmentation, sparkle and shine, then this is the set for you. I love that you get a gold, silver and copper/rose gold in this set and I'm now completely covered when it comes to any glitters that I could possibly need, especially as someone who more often than not sticks to pretty neutral and natural eye looks.

Having never tried the Glitter & Glow shadows, I was a little concerned that they might irritate the eye area but I had nothing to worry about. They don't feel too gritty or scratchy on the eyelid but they're still chunky enough to give you that glitter and glimmer look that you're after. They all add such a pop of sparkle to any eye look and would be perfect in the run up to the Christmas and party season.

stila liquid eyeshadow review

Apologies for my lack of swatches in today's post but these really are that dinky that I didn't want to waste any of the precious product on the back of my hand. No doubt you'll see them on my actual eyes either on here or on my Instagram in the run up to Christmas and festive period.

If either or both of the sets have caught your eye, you can get them from Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty or click below to get them from Cloud 10 Beauty, where I bought mine.

Have you tried any of Stila's liquid eyeshadows before? If so, what did you think of them and which shade or shades are your favourite? And do you have your eye on any Christmas gift sets already? Or are there ones, like the Soap & Glory Boots Star Gift set, that you buy every year?

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