Part II: Travelling Solo in London

As promised, I’ve decided to trace out my travel plans from this summer. I hope my post inspires some of you to explore and seek out adventures solo or not! I took a flight from Toronto Pearson to Gatwick Airport with one stopover. It was the perfect redeye because I slept through both flights and arrived in the UK refreshed and ready to start my adventure at 8 in the morning.

The second I got out of baggage pickup (quick and painless since I only had carry-ons!), I searched for the Visitor’s Centre. It’s the best place to stop at as a tourist. I picked up an Osyter card, topped it off and received a bunch of instructions on how to access the airport wifi, travel maps, a step by step guide on how to get to my hotel, an essential Tube map and instructions on how to use the Osyter Card. I definitely recommend stopping at the Visitor’s Centre before starting your trip!

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I somehow navigated the Tube and took a double decker to the Kensington House Hotel right next door to the Kensington Gardens. I scored a CAD $110/3nights through the hotel website which isn’t bad at all for a 4 star place!  I dropped off my stuff, put stars on my Google Maps and looked up directions by public transport to a bunch of places and off I went to explore London. Here’s a link to how I planned out my entire trip: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Lthx158Nuaz2BZhRFYUjX78bw6c&usp=sharing!


Day 1: I decided to take the bus to Portobello Market, a must see in Notting Hill. It was so quaint and busy and lovely. I wish I had extra space in my luggage, because my biggest regret is not buying the vintage Enid Blyton I spotted at a roadside bookstall. The colourful houses of Nottinghill are actually gorgeous in person and the Nottinghill Bookstore from the Hugh Grant/Julia Roberts movie is actually adorable. I somehow got a kind Korean tourist who spoke no English to take a photo of me at the bookstore (it didn’t look like the kind of place one take selfies in).

I passed someone who looked like Bansky spray painting a Bansky-like teddy bear on a wall, which was beyond cool. I then took a bus to explore Kensington Gardens, Kensington Palace and Hyde Park all in the steady downpour for which London is known. I also explored Harrods and then decided to watch a play in the evening. The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie (my favourite mystery novelist) was fantastic and the St. Martin’s Theatre is a must see even if you don’t like plays.

I finished the day by grabbing a meal from Stick and Bowl (the BEST asian restaurant) and a few French macaroons from Harrods.


Day 2: Going off of the maps I’d created in Toronto, I started off my day at Buckingham Palace, where I decided to save my money and not explore the interior. The exterior itself is lovely and since the flag was raised, I heard the queen was actually at the palace–I did not see her unfortunately.

Not discouraged by the rainy weather, I continued onwards through St. James Park to see the gorgeous Westminster Abbey, the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben, explore Somerset House where I took a break with a well deserved chocolate and lemon polenta.

The British Museum was my next stop where I stopped by the Rosetta Stone and bought a few souvenirs. I walked through the Sicilian Avenue with its lovely archway and quaint shop lined street.

I also visited the Harry Potter Shop at Kings Cross and a lineup which I avoided. Instead I bought a Deathly Hallows pin, a Hogwarts notebook and a keychain which I will forever treasure. I ended my day by stopping off at the Coca Cola London Eye, seeing the line up and deciding that the view couldn’t possibly be worth the wait time or the cost!

I recommend walking along Westminster Bridge to have the most amazing view over the Thames of both the Westminster Palace and the London Eye on the opposite sides. A complimentary beer at my hotel’s bar concluded a tiring but wonderful day.


Day 3: This was my most relaxed day since it was my last in London. I started off by attending an Anglican service at the St. Paul’s Cathedral and relaxing after, taking in the view of the stunning ceilings.

The architecture, the painting, the atmosphere is all worth the cost and more in my opinion. I climbed to the very top of the dome which gave me incredible views of the city (made me feel better about skipping the London Eye). After, I took a circuitous route through Saint Dunstan in the East, a haven with gothic ruins from WWII, to get to the Tower of London where I got the classic fish and chips before entering.

I must say I was slightly disappointed by the Crown Jewels and I’d say if you have something else you’d rather pay for, do that instead of paying for entrance at the Tower of London. It was still nice enough and the architecture was cool. I found the exterior to be worth my time spent there. The Tower Bridge is a must! It looks like a Disney bridge, colourful and something out of Cinderella.

The views of the Shard and the city are pretty cool too. I walked over to Tate Modern which was a bit of a hike and explored the paintings and the collection. The building itself is nothing special but the collections are worth it, especially since it’s free (donations are welcomed). Plus, the Shakespeare Globe is close by and the bank has a great view of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

I decided to end my evening exploring Covent Garden and taking in the theatre scene with some gelato and then grabbed dinner with I proceeded to enjoy with a book in Kensington Gardens.


Overall, London was fantastic. It was worth every penny I spent. I met several wonderful people and I experienced so much I had always read about or watched on TV. It is absolutely possible to see at least 80%-90% of tourist spots and more in 3 days. I didn’t feel rushed at all and I enjoyed everything at my own pace. A lot of this trip was done foot, saving me bus fare and also allowed me to see the city the way a local does. I’m definitely going back for a longer trip because London has so much more to see. But if you have three days, I hope my guide helps you see the finer points of London without feeling like you missed out!

I’d love to hear from you in the comments on things I missed out on during my trip and any recommendations you have from experience! Part III will encompass my solo adventures in Switzerland–stay tuned!


Until next time,

Rochelle

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Group Travel vs Solo Travel

This summer while Rochelle flew to Europe on her own(!), I headed to Spain with a group of 49 people. To say that Rochelle’s and my experiences were different would be an understatement, not only because we visited completely different countries but mainly because solo vs group travel has so many pros and cons attached to them. Rochelle also has a 3 post series (you can check the first two posts here), today I am sharing with you my time in Spain and some hefty tips I picked up along the way.


Although group travel is fun and entertaining, it can also be inefficient. This summer I travelled with my dance group to Spain to perform in Barcelona and Lloret de Mar meaning that I was surrounded by familiar faces and I was bound to enjoy all the company. Unlike Rochelle who had a harder time convincing her family and friends that solo travel was happening regardless, my family was eager to have Canadian-Ukrainian representation in Spain. Furthermore, although its a big group of people, everyone has a warm group of friends surrounding them with similar interests so it never really feels like you are being dragged around.

While with solo travel you are planning for one person, meaning that you can get your tickets 8 months in advance, book multiple layovers, and generally save money, this is not the case in a group scenario. You may get group rate discounts but the savings do not always balance out solo travel savings, especially when your group takes up half the plane seating. Keep in mind though, that if it is a large enough group, you might get “VIP treatment.” To give you an example, we had 49 persons travelling so when we took a yacht trip, we had the whole yacht to ourselves because of the size of our group. However, I did have an immense peace of mind as everything, literally everything was booked for me, even the excursions. Needless to say, I had no use for the travel books I had taken out of the library.



Following Rochelle’s post format, I was also not scared of group travel because traveling in a group is a cushiony experience where “one for all and all for one.” However, I also cannot leave out some major downsides. Because you are in a foreign country, in a non-English speaking environment, you are asked to always stick together which is reasonable. This becomes an issue if everyone’s interests of where to go, what to eat, or where to shop don’t intersect. You are also less likely to get the full experience of seeing every corner of the city as a coach bus is most likely taking you to your destinations. Generally, you miss out on walks in the city, discovering a cute market or boutique, and experiencing the city first hand. You are also less likely to see everything you were wanting to see.



Although group travel is tough and a lot of scheduling goes into it, I would not change the experience that I had. Not only was I able to share memories with some amazing people but I also had no need for a selfie stick… We loved the experience of looking at photos from the trip and laughing at our derp faces. Its great being able to share in the experience with someone else who will understand the inside jokes and remember the time you had. All jokes aside, when the touring part ends and you are all in the hotel, its fun having company to hang out with and go on adventures with during your “free time.”

So here you have it! Some pros and cons of group travel. Let us know if you are planning on traveling anywhere and wether you prefer group or solo travel.

Looking forward to your replies!

~Kisses, Kvitka~

Part I. Travel Solo and like a Pro

Solo travel isn’t as hard as it seems. I am by no means an expert. But after travelling to Europe for the first time and then spending a week alone in London and hiking in Switzerland, I would love to make the case for travelling solo.

There’s such a stigma against solo travel. When I told people about my trip reactions ranged from, “why would you do something so stupid?” to “Umm, I’d be terrified if I were you!”. My family was surprisingly fine with it. A few close friends were very supportive. But the rest were simply wondering why I wasn’t bringing someone along.

I read How to Travel the World on $50 a Day and Matt Kepnes is so inspirational I simply had to try his advice! So what if there wasn’t anyone able to travel with me? The fact that I’m a short young woman should not be a barrier to my desire to see the world. So I researched my tickets, did some really bad math and managed to score cheap tickets to London and from Geneva. I read a bunch of travel books in the months leading up to the trip and I wrote down must-see destinations.

Weirdly I simply wasn’t scared of travelling alone. This was probably because the trip didn’t feel real until the week I had to leave. Even though I researched so much, I wasn’t really prepared. My biggest advice would be to buy packing cubes and a selfie stick while keeping your luggage to a minimum. You want to be able to bring back souvenirs and also be able to lug it up a cobble stone hill to a castle you didn’t realise you were staying at (fact: this actually happened to me).

Google Maps is a godsend. It was the only reason I managed to go anywhere during my trip. You can now save offline maps and then place stars on your destinations so that you can point your phone at the star and follow the blue dot to your destination. So I saved offline maps of each city I wanted to visit and put stars on each spot I needed to see and off I went!

If you want to see a country or state or province no matter how far or close, just do it! Seriously! Nothing is holding you back except your fears. You don’t have to do a month long trip or a year long one. I did a two week one and I saw each city I visited in depth. Since I’m still on my vacation high, I’ll be sharing my tips on getting around and seeing as much as possible in London and Switzerland in three separate posts. So stay tuned for some major travel posts coming your way!


Until next time,

Rochelle

5 Ways to Travel Better + GIVEAWAY!

“Travel is so cliché”, said no one ever. Everyone wants to travel! Everybody wants to experience different cultures or see amazing views or watch the sun set on that stunning Galapagos beach. But not everyone ends up travelling. Why? Because it’s expensive. They’re not wrong. Travel is really expensive. Flights, hotel rooms, food–it all adds up and all that money you’ve put toward that Volkswagon has suddenly disappeared. But I’ve been researching travelling for the past two months since I decided to hit up London and Switzerland with a short detour to Italy, for 2 whole weeks at the end of August. And I decided to compile my own (and several other people’s) wisdom so that you, loyal readers, can stop saying no to your dreams.


1. Google Flights: It’s the best thing on the planet. Seriously. Stop booking through travel agencies because you’re paying for commission and while you might think you’re getting a good deal, you’re really getting an easy deal. Instead, look up Flights on Google which compiles every airline flight, price and travel time. I booked my one way trip to London for $362 CAD and my trip out of Geneva for $450 CAD. Spending about $812 for flights to Europe feels pretty fantastic. I did book three months in advance which does play a big role in costs!

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2. Booking.com: I don’t normally like promoting sites but I planned all my hotel rooms through Booking.com this year. They have free cancellation option and a great interface for users. They also offer hotels, hostels, guest rooms etc, and free breakfast options. I’ve compared direct hotel prices vs. Booking.com vs. Travelocity and was surprised that Booking.com won simply because they’re honest about their prices and they’re really cheap. Their customer service is pretty great too!

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3. Deutsch Bahn: Travelling to Europe? Get this app! It’s a German train schedule app but it eerily accurate about train schedule across the continent and show prices, precise timings and maps. Plus it’s in English and the app is really easy to use to map out your spur of the moment trip. A must have!

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4. Couchsurfing: A fantastic way to stay in countries for free! And you’ll make amazing friends most of the time. Or so I’ve heard from numerous sources. I’m testing this app out this summer in Switzerland with a friend. In theory, this sounds sightly scary but mostly cool because it’s such a good way to save money and meet locals!

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5. Uber: A huge must in my book simply because cabs are sometimes expensive and if you’re stuck in a new country with no cash or a stolen wallet and need to get to your hotel room/embassy, Uber swoops in to save the day. You get a driver by paying through the app so you don’t need cash in hand and won’t get ripped off when you don’t know the local language! Plus it ends up being cheaper than regular cabs. Trust me, get the app because it may end up saving your bacon.

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I highly recommend Nomadic Matt’s blog because that’s where I ended up with all my research. I even signed up for his mailing list because that’s how amazing his tips are! I also advice that you spend time researching everything because there are so many ways you can save money. Hotels vs. hostels, Couchsurfing vs. Airbnb, etc. is all personal preference in my opinion. Do your research, travel smart and you’ll end up travelling more. Hope you find these tips helpful! Read on for our GIVEAWAY.


Now is your chance to win some of these essentials to make sure you are covered for your next getaway! To win an assortment of Travel Essentials we ask that you follow @lipsticktrilogy and @always_kaye on Instagram and answer the question posted on our Instagram page in the caption. This week will be dedicated only to travel related posts on Instagram and the blog. To qualify, you must be a Greater Toronto Area resident and can meet up with us in the downtown core, TO to claim your prize. This us NOT a sponsored giveaway and all the items were purchased by us and Kaye. The deadline is Wednesday, July 13th and the winner will be announced shortly afterwards. We hope you enjoy this week as much as we will enjoy hearing from you!

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Until next time, 

Rochelle

Our Journey Thus Far & Giveaway

A Lipstick Trilogy hit its one year anniversary last month and we think it’s been an absolutely amazing journey so far. We started blogging on a whim last year at a random Starbucks. We came up with the theme we wanted to go for and the social media aspect of it but what we didn’t expect is how much the blog would change and takeover our lives. So today, we wanted to post a reflection on how far we think our blog has come.

Rochelle


Before this blog, I was already blogging for my own blog, BooksDecoded. When I say ‘blogging’ I really mean, ‘barely blogging’. Writing every single week and keeping up with the schedule you set for yourself is extremely difficult. You don’t realize how hard it is to make time for personal activities until you try to fit blogging into a schedule filled with school, work, friends and volunteer work.

It’s intense and without Kvitka, I doubt I would’ve kept up with the blog. Blogging with a partner really gives you someone to whom you’re held accountable. It makes you work harder, be a bit more competitive/creative and makes it more enjoyable. And plus, we’re a fabulous team!

Blogging ultimately changed how I function. I constantly pull out my camera to photograph everything in sight in case it’s ‘blog worthy’. Friends constantly reference our blog and I love the phrase “Hey, so I was reading your blog yesterday and it’s actually so cool!”. It also makes me go to events and I’ve taken up new hobbies like learning a bunch of languages. Our blog has also taught me to be more social, which has led to an amazing year of fun and creativity. I’ve loved collaborating with other bloggers and exploring different venues through which we can express ourselves best.

And I’m absolutely certain that without the blog, I would never have had the courage to try a solo Europe trip this summer. I love our blog for being the best creative outlet where I can relax and write whatever I want, whenever I want.

Kvitka:


When Rochelle and I started A Lipstick Trilogy, the idea of blogging was still a little raw in my mind. Yet, I knew that this was something that I’d want to commit to for sure. It was at that Starbucks that we made a pact: we would know if blogging was for us if we could stick to it for a year. And here we are! After not blogging for 2 weeks and instead writing content for other outlets, it made me realize just how much I appreciate being an independent writer, blogger, and photographer.

Taking a look back at the days where we posted twice a day on bloggie and three times a day on Instagram, I’m thinking “damnnn” but it is exactly that commitment that I wish to continue bringing to the blog as it grows. Aside from earning extra cool points from friends and family for starting a blog, it has become more than a hobby, its a passion.

Rochelle and I have been on so many adventures and it is fantastic to have an outlet where to capture those memories we’ve made together. We have been to Elle Canada events and made mini local trips to cafes, national parks, and fashion shows. More importantly, I like the aspect of being able to write from anywhere in the world. So far this has been a blissful journey and to be 100%, this would not have happened if I didn’t have Rochelle to do this with not only because you are held accountable to the other person but rather because its amazing to know that you have a bestie that literally reads your mind. I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for us.


GIVEAWAY! As a thank you to our loyal readers and followers on Instagram, we’re collaborating with Always Kaye to giveaway a surprise of Travel Essentials! This entire week is dedicated to travel and we’ll be asking all of you travel questions on Instagram which you must answer in the comment section and follow @lipsticktrilogy and @always_kaye in order to qualify. The giveaway is sadly only for GTA residents and can only be awarded to those who can meet up with us in the downtown core, TO. The deadline is Tuesday, July 12th and the winner will be announced shortly afterwards. We hope you enjoy this week as much as we will enjoy hearing from you!

💋 Kvitka & Rochelle

5 Free or Cheap Things to do in May- Toronto

Who doesn’t despise the question “So, what do you want to do today?” In order to avoid missing fun activities going on in the city and also maximizing my summer, I decided to keep track of free and cheap activities taking place in Toronto each month. For May, I already have about 15 events/ activities I am excited to try on the weekends. Plus as Rochelle and I are preparing to save for our Europe trips, exchanging a lunch date for one of these free activities is a plus. Here are some things I will be making sure to check out in May.

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#1 Doors Open Toronto


This is my favourite time of year. Make a list of the coveted museums you have been meaning to visit and check them out on May 28-29. During Doors Open Toronto, 150 cultural and historical buildings are open to the public. Yes there might be longer lineups but you save money. I want to check out: Bata Shoe Museum, City TV, and Omni building.

Cost: Free      Click: to visit website

#2 Cherry Blossoms


If you are a nature lover like me, you will enjoy seeing the cherry blossoms blooming in High Park or at the University of Toronto in mid-May. Last year I missed the bloom period which is only a couple of days but this year I am determined to see what the rave is all about. Working in the High Park area, I can attest to the amount of people that show up.

Cost: Free       Clickto visit website

#3 Toronto’s Festival of Beer


Just like a wine tour, take advantage to taste test different beers and try new labels. Although I am not a fan of beer myself, I am open to try new things and potentially find one that will change my mind. This is a beer festival so why not make use of the beautiful Toronto weather. It takes place May 21-22.

Cost: $30       Click: to visit website

Or you can opt for a free option which is to check out a brewery tour. Amsterdam Brewhouse offers free tours and tastings on a regular bases. Plus you have the benefit of being next to Lake Ontario shores which is always so scenic.

Cost: Free    Click: to visit website

#4 Second City


I had positive reviews of Second City comedy shows before. With Drake’s new album out, why not check out the show “The Hotline Always Blings Twice.” Its an evening of laughs that is totally appropriate with the new album release. If you are a student, you have the benefit of a discounted ticket.

Cost: $25, student: $14-18 (depending on the day you go)   Click:  to visit website

#5 City Sightseeing Toronto Tour Bus


Beat the tourist rush that starts in June and until August by checking out the tourist hot spots in May. My goal this summer is to be a tourist in my own city which means hopping on one of those red, open roof top tour buses. Not only will you learn something new about your city from the tour guide, but the bus will take you to the coolest places in the city. Moreover,  you can score some cheaply priced tickets to get into museums and attractions.

Cost: $38.06, students: $34.51 (with valid ID)      Click:  to visit website

 

 

Ten Ways to Save on a Trip!

As Kvitka mentioned, we’re both saving to head down to Europe together next summer. We’re so excited for it that we decided to share some travel advice that’s researched throughly and which we’ll also be putting into action next year! 

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During Vacation:

1.Smart and safe money handling: Exchanging money at the country of choice is a popular idea. Exchanging currency at a new country can be unsafe for tourists because of pickpockets, short-changers and you can lose your wad of cash while travelling. Instead consider getting a travellers cheque or use credit cards! MasterCard, Visa and AE are widely accepted and cards are much safer to carry around. Plus you can call your credit card company to cancel a card if stolen or lost!

2. Shopping outside of downtown areas! This is so important in order to avoid tourist traps. Tourists pay way more for stuff than locals do, not because of how low the CAD dollar is but because we’re just overcharged. To avoid this, tread off the beaten path, travel to another smaller, less touristy city and send your money there. I promise the products are exactly the same!

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3. Public transport: It’s really the best way to travel. Cars need insurance and fuel and you’ll need to focus on driving instead of what you paid to travel there to do–enjoy the sights! And forget about taxis unless you’re not on a budget, most are ridiculously expensive. If you’re country hopping in Europe, select a base country from where to travel (preferably a cheap one), buy a Eurail Pass and select a train from the thousands that are zooming across the continent. Additionally, countries like Switzerland make their own passes, that give you free access to almost all national/local trains, 400 museums and discounts on much else. Plus, you can get a Youth Discount on both if you’re under 26!

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4. Travel light! This is the cardinal rule. Why do you need all that makeup and all those clothes? Think of all those reasons and try and use those excuses when you’re lugging your luggage down staircases, down the train and across the city. Instead, bring chic, versatile pieces you love being photographed in and are comfortable enough to camp out in! Pack light so you have space for that chocolate and cheese you want to cart back home! The Savvy Backpacker is so useful and give excellent advice on travel and packing!

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5. Book hotels with complementary breakfast. Seriously, it saves the $$! Sneak a few fruits off the breakfast and you have a light lunch ready to go! 😉 I don’t promote stealing (technically it isn’t because you’re just saving your breakfast for later) but if you’re on a budget, find ways to spend thriftly. Also, if you save up on breakfast and dinner, you get to splurge a little on fancy local cuisine.

6. Hostels, or local hotels (usually outside  of downtown) and  Airbnb’s are your best bet usually. But you can find excellent deals right next to a subway station that will cart you to the city centre in minutes or stay right in the heart of the action for very little-it can be done! Wanna save big bucks and still live comfortably? Research, research and research. Those deals exist, go and find them. Key things to always look for? Free WiFi, complementary breakfasts and private bathrooms. Find all three and you’ve found a keeper. img_7857

7. Make a list of things you want to try like local cuisine, that scary bungee rope jump and that hot air balloon ride in Turkey! All those things don’t come cheap so make an itinerary and a budget plan. Outline the costs, what you’re willing to spend, don’t get caught in tourist trap attractions. You worked hard for that cash, don’t part with it willingly. Also, save up for unique souvenirs that you know you’ll for a long time.

8. If you’re exchanging currency, do it at a legitimate institution and legitimate ATM Otherwise you might get short-changed by sneaky ‘currency-exchange’ people or get hit with huge fees when withdrawing at the ATM. Instead, use credit cards or find a legitimate exchange place on the country’s tourist website with your hotel’s/train station free WiFi.

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9. Travel off-season. Kvitka already covered this but it’s pretty important. Find out the best months to travel through Google analysis (Flights) and that’s where you’ll find your best deals. Even if booking with a travel agent, do your own research before booking to see you can find better deals!

10. See if hotel sells bundles for tourists like passes for tourist attractions! Talk to your hotel managers or information desk. Even visit the country’s Tourist Information Centre because they usually have deals and advice ready to hand out (for free!). Also, read reviews for everything before going. Travellers are always honest and eager to share their experience. Have a positive or negative experience? Make sure to give the place a review so others can benefit from your wisdom!


That’s all the advice I’ve amassed this month from my travel research! I really hope you enjoyed this series. It was great fun to write and we hope it’s useful to you. Any questions or comments? Leave ’em in the comment section below!

Until next time,

Rochelle

Top 10 Ways to Save for a Dream Vacation

Rochelle and I have been planning our Europe abroad trip since grade 10 which attests to how much planning has gone into this. Today I want to share with you our Top 10 saving tips for a dream vacation. Let’s dive in!


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#1. Budget Plans: A rule I have implemented is to set a weekly and monthly budget plans using an Excel spreadsheet or just writing this down. I set out INCOME –> EXPENSES –> SPENDING –> SAVING/MONTH. Track your big purchases and place a designated amount of money away, be it in a piggy bank or a savings account to accumulate interest. Rochelle has also implemented a $5-10/ week on personal, small spending.

#2. Ways to Save: It is my cardinal rule that I do not buy anything if its not on sale. That goes for shopping at a mall and now extends to activities with friends like bowling. Groupon is your best friend for savings as it offers discounts for activities and services as well as goods. This is also a place to fish out cheaper airline tickets.

  • Groupon: savings on services and goods
  • Rewards cards: a percentage of every purchase is paid back to you
  • Flyers: with digital flyers, there is no excuse to buy full price cereal
  • SPC card: offers discounts for students in select stores
  • Emails: combine all store subscription emails using this app: Unroll Me. Saves time
  • Sales: hang tight, wait until its discount season like Black Friday

#3. Limit on card: It can be easy to swipe a card right and left because you do not physically see the money leaving your wallet. We also recommend setting a limit on your card. This way you are sure not to go over your spending limit and maintain great credit history.

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#4. Luxury Spending: Try to limit luxury spending to necessities when saving for a big trip. It is way too easy to fall into the trap of purchasing a $5 frap every afternoon which is why constraining yourself with a budget is key. Finding ways to become more self sufficient is key and that comes from making your own cup of coffee, a healthy lunch, and patching up clothes. These activities can quickly become routines and serve a therapeutic function.

#5. Online purchase: I don’t think I have ever spent money on online shipping. Stores often set guidelines for a minimum purchase in order to get free shipping be it, spend $40 or $50 on average. As well, make sure to subscribe to your favourite stores to get VIP discounts and perks (I mentioned a useful app above– Unroll Me). I generally like to limit my shopping sprees by season to prevent unnecessary, binge spending otherwise. Cleaning out your closet and makeup drawer gives you a feel for new items you might want.

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#6. Going out: Although this relates to Groupon, it needs a category of its own. Usually when my friends go out, it is to grab lunch or dinner. Although its a nice way to sit down and catch up, there are ways to avoid getting food out all the time.  Start with suggesting free activities. Here are some of our favourites. As well, during week days or later in the evenings, museums and other attractions tend to give discounted entry, for example at the Ripley’s Aquarium and AGO.

  • Walk in the park or biking: a social activity together, plenty time to talk (High Park)
  • Sight seeing: discover a new neighbourhood: Distillery and Fashion Districts, Yorkville, Rogers Centre and the CN Tower area, Lakeshore, Harbourfront
  • Doors Open Toronto: a day to enjoy Toronto’s museums and sights for free
  • Movies: outdoor movie screenings in the summer
  • Blog TO: check it out for daily updates about things to do in Toronto, including free activities

#7. Credit Card: Yes, there are credit cards for all those travel lovers. Aside from travel credit cards also read reviews for best hotel credit cards, and airline credit cards if you are a frequent traveller.

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#8. Airline Tickets: The earlier you can purchase your airline tickets, the cheaper they will be. However, if you are doing things last minute, chances are that if an airline wants to sell the remaining ticket a day or two before the plane’s departure, you can save big. Using Groupon can help you save big. Yes you might have a layover, but I for example managed to tour Warsaw, Poland with my mom during my 24h layover. It was a fantastic day to discover the city. Of course 24h is drastically pushing it maybe departing at an unfriendly hour like 5am will be a good way to save.  Use AirfareWatchdog to track prices and hello, here is the time to make use of those accumulated Airmiles!

#9. Off Season Travel: Yes, this suggestion is quite drastic but when deciding on a destination keep in mind when the tourist season is in that country and the exchange rate for currency. It is no secret that Disney World Resort or any other touristy destination will hike up their prices when the demand is high during the summer months from June to August generally speaking.

#10. Plan Plan Plan: Before letting loose and having tons of fun, plan in advance. Have a game plan ready. These tips are a great start but they do take time and diligence. Remember that its the small things (savings) that matter. We hope you have an awesome sauce time during your vacation and good luck.

I had a blast looking into smart ways to save. I truly hope that these tips were helpful. 

If you have other suggestions, I would love to know ’em. Comment down below.

~ Kisses, Kvitka ~

Cardinal Rules for Packing

Packing…what a word! There’s almost a science behind the entire process. One cannot just simply chuck a bunch of clothes at the luggage and expect to arrive with an unwrinkled, decent wardrobe. In order to prepare for our own respective travel adventures this week, we composed a list of our specialised techniques that could probably help you pack stress-free.


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1. Limited space- Confirm the size and number of articles you’re allowed to lug with you. It’s amazing how many people forget this cardinal rule. And yes, it is absolutely unnecessary to pay that ridiculously expensive fare for excess baggage, don’t be the one that does and holds up the entire line. Try wearing items that take up the most room while traveling e.g. sweaters, sneakers.

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2. Have a checklist- Seriously. Checklists save everyone. Checking off that check box ensures that even if you forget, your luggage hasn’t. A list of “most likely to forget” items is important. Toothbrushes are at the top of that list and you know it.

3. Socks- Don’t forget the socks. Socks are important. If you are traveling during the colder months pack the socks into your shoes/boots to save space.

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4. Ready for the unexpected- Even though you shouldn’t over-pack, you should definitely prepare for unexpected circumstances. Yes, there is a possibility you will need that umbrella even though weather stations call for sunny days ahead. For warmer weather we still like to include a pair of long pants and a light sweater because you never know with Mother Nature.

5. Packing order- Put your thickest pieces of clothing and shoes at the bottom of your suitcase to give the bag structure, keeping lighter pieces near the top. Its always a safe bet to leave essentials like a sweater near the top for easy access when the temperatures drop.

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6. Save space- With limited luggage space, a good trick is to roll up clothes instead of folding which is a method for preventing wrinkles. If you have fragile materials, wrap you clothes around them to serve as a protective barrier.

7. Shoe addiction- Leave those 10 pairs of pumps at home, carry 1. One pair of versatile, neutral heels/wedges that can suit anything will do well. Sensible shoes like loafers, oxfords, sneakers, Birks, etc. are best when going on an adventure. We can’t all be Claire Dearing!

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8. Entertainment- Gauge the amount of time you will be spending travelling. And pack your preferred form of entertainment accordingly because the window is fun only for the first thirty seconds. The remaining six hours will unfortunately be agonizing.

9. Plug converter-  If you’re going out of country, please don’t forget those electric plug converters. You really don’t want to fry your precious gadgets. Trust me, it isn’t worth buying new chargers for those different sockets; you’ll be leaving soon anyways and having a convertor will be useful for future travelling!

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10. Hotel samples-  Kvitka admits to being that weirdo who keeps the shampoo, lotion, and body wash samples after her stay in a hotel. She later brings it along in her carry on which not only saves space but is also an airline approved quantity (most of the time).

11. Dirty laundry- You are bound to have some dirty laundry while you travel so make sure to have some plastic bags to store your smelly laundry in.

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12. Makeup- No need for to lug around a makeup collection, we got you covered. You can read about our makeup essentials in our previous post.  

13. Jewelry obstacles course- Opting out of necklaces this time around and packing other pieces to make a statement. We prefer items that don’t get tangled up easily like watches, rings, bracelets, and earrings (rather than necklaces).

14. Lastly, have fun. Fun is important. Enjoy your travels!


Wherever you decide to go, we hope you love it! Let us know where you’ve been, are headed, or will be going below. We’d also love to hear about your worst packing experience! Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest for more on our (mis)adventures and interests.

Until next time,

Rochelle and Kvitka