Saturday, 9 August 2014

My 'Just In Case' Travel Items

L-R Clockwise: QV Moisturiser, Cotton pads and buds, Lucas Paw Paw Ointment, Blackmores Bio C 500mg Chewable Tablets, Tetley Steamed Green Tea and Zovirax

Friends of mine recently headed over to Europe with their boyfriends (hence why I've chosen not to tag along because I don't want to be that ever shining lightbulb). It's their first time over there and so, the night before they left, they were group messaging each other asking what last minute things people were packing.

Apparently, because they've never been to Europe, everything under the sun was being thrown into suitcases - things like umbrellas, joggers, toothpicks, paper toilet seat covers and masking tape were being packed.

It actually got me thinking about how I usually pack. Truth be told, I'm quite good when it comes to packing for places I've been before because I know where to pick up things I don't bring. So that means I'm not hauling my entire life in my suitcase when I'm going away. But I can be a bit chaotic when it comes to packing for places I've never been. Nevertheless, I do have quite a few 'just in case' items that I always bring along with me when I'm travelling. 

Here are the real travel essentials!

QV Moistuiser - my trusty moisturiser
I take my QV everywhere in tiny pots just in case. I went through a really bad bout of skin infections last year and the dermatologist recommended that I use nothing but QV during this time. This basic moisturiser's texture feels watery but is quite moisturising and soothing on slightly inflammed and tight skin.

I also like using this as a body moisturiser and sometimes mix it in with Trilogy's Rosehip Oil for seriously smooth legs.

I don't use QV much on my face now that my infections are cleared up. Only because I find it works for the first few days and then it starts to just sit on top of my skin and doesn't quite sink in like it does on the rest of my body. But I have no hesitations resorting back to it if my skin is feeling sensitive. If my skin is starting to get red, crackly or very, very dry, I'll put on a thin layer to settle and soothe the skin.

So although QV is no longer my go-to facial moisturiser, it is a product I travel with just in case my skin flares up while away.

Cotton Pads & Buds - because hotels never have enough
I always slot a few packets of cotton pads and buds on the outside pockets of my suitcases, so if I ever forget to put them into my make up bag, I have back up. LOL.

Most hotels will offer you a pack or two but I can go through them in a night! I use one for removing my eye make up with Clinique's Take the Day Off and I use another one for my Avene Gentle Toner. During the day, I might use a few take off cakey make up before reapplying.

Of course, buds are for correcting mistakes or that last minute manicure before a night out, fixing overdrawn brows and jagged eyeliner lines.

Lucas Paw Paw Ointment - for cuts and burns along the way
Back in high school, every girl except me had a tube of Lucas Paw Paw in their pockets and, like addicts, would slather their lips with it every hour or so. I hated lip products back then so I was always the exception. Fast forward to last year, a family friend of ours from HK raved about how good it was at getting mouth ulcers and wanted us to bring 10 tubes over to her so she could give to friends. She gave a tube to me and I have to admit that I was intrigued.

Lucas Paw Paw Ointment is raved about as an all purpose balm that is great for cuts, bumps, itches, dry lips and minor skin conditions like eczema.

It did nothing for my eczema or itches and, while it makes the lips looks super glossy, it is still petroleum-based and, therefore, has a tendency to leave your lips drier than before application.

However, it does work on cuts and burns. I am very accident prone and let me tell you that this works fantastically on paper cuts and cooking burns. For the latter, it seems to alleviate the immediate heat, helping it to heal much faster. 

Blackmores Bio C 500mg Chewable Tablets - for the unexpected cold/flu
I took these Vit C tablets religiously a few years back and I rarely caught a cold/flu. I took one in the morning and one at night when I came home. But now I take them a little less regularly and just seem to really take note when I up the dosage when I feel a cold or flu coming on.

I always take them along with me when I'm going away because I'm pretty weak and often have difficulties dealing with weather or environmental changes. These are a must when moving from a warmer to cooler climate. I always seem to underestimate how many layers of clothes I need to wear and that leaves me susceptible to a runny nose.

I'm actually really reliant on these. LOL.

Tetley Steamed Green Tea - to drink and depuff
I always grab a handful of teabags before I go because I like to come back to a hotel and have a cup of tea before bed. It makes my eyes puffy in the morning but a cup of tea from home always make me feel better settled in. No matter where I go, I always get a little homesick and a cup of tea always makes me feel better!

I usually travel with some trusty English Breakfast but sometimes I'll go for a green tea. When I do, I'll leave the teabags either in the cup or in the fridge so that I can do an eye compress in the morning. It's said that the tannin in tea can reduce swelling and discoloration. I can't say that it works wonders but it's nice to have something refreshing on the eyes in the morning!

If I have small packets of instant coffee lying around at home, I'll take them with me as well. I sometimes wake up with puffy eye bags from lack of sleep or too much water before sleep, and find that black coffee helps them to quickly disappear!

Zovirax - when something is better than nothing
Cold sores are the bane of my existence. They pop up at the most inappropriate of times. 
I've been using Zovirax for years. Literally every single time when I get a slight tingle, I'll slap some on. So I can't say whether it's better than leaving it alone without any medication. But because cold sores are so unsightly, I'd rather put something that promises healing than to do nothing at all. 

I have found that putting a layer of Paw Paw Ointment on top of the Zovirax makes the cold sore go away quicker. Maybe it's because the ointment is kind of like a sealant that locks in all the medication and that makes it heal quicker?

What are some of the things that you always pack just in case?

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Sunday Reads: The Difference Between Melbourne and Sydney

A few weeks ago, I went down to Melbourne for THE very first time in my life! I was so excited to go down with the fam bam because nearly everyone I knew had gone down at least once for a sports event or weekend getaway. Everyone tends to rave about the food and shopping down there, and so I was really, really anticipating this trip!

We were there for four days and I noticed that Melbourne has a totally different feel to Sydney or any other city I've ever visited. Admittedly, we hung around the CBD mostly and Southwharf is the furthest out we got but it was a nice eye opener.

Here are some of the things I noticed during our trip there!
1. Melbournians are really friendly
Not that Sydney can't be but Melbourne has such a friendly vibe! Everyone was incredibly nice to us - there was totally a small community vibe about the CBD. Whenever we asked for directions, pretty much everyone put down what they were doing to help us get to where we wanted to go. They were all giving us tips on how to get around the city and their favourite things to do. I just thought it was really nice!

It's also so easy to chat up a storm with a stranger! I had a good chat with a guy who sold seafood at the Queen Victoria Market and he gave us a discount on our oysters (we ate 6 dozens during our 4 day stay!). By the way, the oysters are super fresh on a Tuesday. 

2. Genuine customer service
People in some sort of customer service role seem to really enjoy their jobs. No one seems to dread coming to work where they have to deal with customers all day. Everyone smiles, engages in meaningful conversations with you and is okay with you not buying. It was actually quite confronting at first because that's not often the case in Sydney and even other parts of the world!

We stayed in a serviced apartment (which looked nothing like its' websites photos...) and the people at reception and housekeeping were seriously fantastic. I've stayed at better facilitated service apartments in Sydney and Beijing before but the level of personable service we got where we stayed totally topped it. 

We must have called them for extra towels, toothbrushes and blankets more than a few times and they were happy to oblige each and every time. There were no fake smiles about it when we saw them in the lobby, everyone was just really happy to help. Passing comments were remembered and followed up on. It was pretty amazing. I can't remember the last time I was ever treated so well in a hotel or serviced apartment. 

3. Melbournians look really in shape!
Melbournians are a fit breed. With the exception of one or two, everyone we saw in the CBD area were in great shape! All the suits I saw had sturdy shoulders and good posture, and they were all impeccably groomed in an old-world sort of way. There was none of that buff look that Sydney guys seem to sport. Corporate girls were also really well dressed in their suits. Everyone was just slender, in shape and looked really healthy. 

I don't know how they do it! Has it got to do with their view of food or maybe they have a slower life pace? I see people taking long leisurely lunches and cafe owners don't seem to mind how long you linger around for after your plate of food has finished. There doesn't seem to be a lot of fast food chains in the CBD either, so everyone's eating healthier? Whatever it is, I want in!

4. Sydney coffee is better
I am careful not to say that, definitively, Sydney has the better coffee. But for some odd reason, I kept getting served the worst coffee I've ever tasted - not an overstatement. I even went to the cafes that people rave about and I was served a lukewarm and very watery latte every single time. 

I'm not a picky coffee drinker but I, at least, want my coffee to taste like a coffee. Sadly, nothing I had in Melbourne really matched up to what Sydney offers.

When I told a family friend of ours about this, he said that we'd gone to all the wrong places! The next time we head down, he's going to give us a list of coffee places to try. Hopefully I'll find something that lives up to Melbourne's highly esteemed coffee culture!

Have you been travelling lately? Be somewhere that is totally different from where you live?