Dear London, U.K.

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You were not my first choice. In fact, you were not on my list of places to visit-ever! Frankly, I’ve heard many wonderful tales about you and your beauty but it has never enticed me to make the trip across the pond. So, it was as much of a surprise for me when I felt the sudden urge to visit you without reason. Looking back, I think I had to. I had to make up my own mind about you, based on my own experiences and not everybody else.

The fog blanketing the city streets brought a manageable melancholy that made the littlest joke funnier and my heart lighter. Amidst one of the busiest cities in the world, I walked in peace. Isn’t that ironic?

Surrounded by art, culture, and history, it was no surprise to bump into fellow visiting tourists in every corner. Wide-eyed and amazed by your vast beauty, this might seem all too romantic for you, because underneath lies, well, the Underground. Each station is a modern complement and convenience to and from ornate palaces, preserved houses and iconic landmarks. Perhaps, this great balance between history and modernity is what sprouted our love affair?

Or perhaps, it was walking along the cobble stone alley diverting from Marylebone Lane and finding a gem that served a delicious French Onion Soup. You thought I was going to say Fish and Chips, didn’t you?

Unexpectedly, I fell in love with you piece by piece. A gradual kind of love that left me wanting more as I board my flight home…

London, my unexpected love, I have to cut this letter short but rest assured that you’ve given me something I didn’t think I needed.

There’s no need for me to say that I’ll be back.

I will, in time.

Always,

K

P.S. Thank you for reminding me that, “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” –William Shakespeare

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Re: 9 Travel Planning Tips + Giveaway!

 

IMG_4681After months and months of slaving away in front of your computer or in class, a relaxing vacation may just be what you need! Now, I happen to be a pretty big planner when it comes to travelling. Let me clarify that, I’m a big planner before travelling. Getting the best deals for packages, tours or flights is a must, especially if you want to splurge on a nice getaway. Below are my top tips on travel planning:

  1. Do you have a travel bucket list? Bitten by the travel bug at a pretty young age, I’ve been lucky to check off destinations from my travel bucket list. Pinterest, however, has made it easier to add on to that list. Create a travel bucket list on Pinterest and explore destinations you may want to go to or have dreamt about going
  2. Set a budget. As much as we would all like to go on an adventure around the world, our wallets may not match that dream (not yet anyway!) Set a budget that you feel comfortable with without breaking the bank. Don’t forget to factor in the duration of your trip. It’s not a pretty feeling to go back home broke!
  3. Take your pick! Revisit your Pinterest board and pick destinations that may fit your budget.
  4. Process of elimination. You may or may not have to do this if you end up finding a package or tour that incorporates your preferred destinations. But if you don’t end up finding a package/tour, pick 1 or 2 places to visit. I know this may sound a little small but I find that travelling to multiple cities/countries in such a short time frame is not always the best. By picking 1 or 2 places, you get a chance to explore different parts of the city/country and actually experience what it may be like living there. If you plan on just laying on the beach 90% of your vacay, Sunwing has many all-inclusive packages for you to choose from
  5. How are you getting there? Airfare can cost a pretty penny especially when you’re going halfway around the world. There are a few websites online that will aggregate and compare flight deals, hotel deals and packages for you. Kayak, CheapFlights.ca, FlighHub or even TripAdvisor, just to name a few
  6. Just book! After loads of research and email alerts about the latest deals, it can get a little tiresome. So, really, just book your tickets already
  7. Old school but still effective! Print out directions and contact info to your hotel/hostel just in case. Getting lost in the beauty of a city will become a lot more fun when you know that you have a place to stay for the night and how to get there
  8. Divide your cash. Most travel destinations accept credit, debit or cash now. Preferably, divide your money between a disposable credit card that you preloaded before your trip and physical cash. It’ll help you stay on track with your spending and it decreases the likelihood that all of your cash will get lost or stolen
  9. Make friends! One of the best parts about travelling to different places is meeting different people. Whether they are locals or fellow travellers, we all have stories to share so why not share it with each other. Besides, it gives you more reasons to come back for a visit!

To help you start with your travel planning adventure, I teamed up with Kvitka and Rochelle from Lipstick Trilogy for a GIVEAWAY! We are giving away an entire makeup bag full of travel goodies!

IMG_8476.JPGWhat’s in the bag:

  • Power bank
  • Cetaphil face wipes
  • Tide to-go
  • First aid kit
  • Secret Deodorant
  • Batiste dry shampoo
  • Nivea lip balm with SPF
  • Kleenex
  • Travel journal

*Disclaimer: We are not sponsored by any brands. Each products were purchased out of our own pockets. The giveaway will run until NEXT WEDNESDAY, July 13, 2016. To learn more about how to quality to the giveaway, FOLLOW myself (@always_kaye) AND the @lipsticktrilogy on Instagram. We will be posting the instructions tomorrow!

Always,

K

Dear Florence

Florence, Italy

Dear Florence,

Roaming around your streets made me feel like I found my second home. Granted my friends and I looped around the same piazza 2-3 times before realizing we were lost, we were simply engulfed by your beauty. Hungry, we walked near a sea of chatty painters sitting on foldable wooden chairs and easels looking for a place to eat. They were old Italian men painting watercolors and talking passionately about God knows what. I don’t know Italian, so how should I know? One of them kindly pointed at a small restaurant a few meters away. Twelve euros for lunch? We were sold! For 12 euros each, we had a fresh caprese salad and an entree of choice. I had by far the best artichoke bolegnese I had ever had at that restaurant. The sausage, artichokes, tomatoes, red wine, garlic, basil, and of course, the fresh pasta-incredible!

Between the art, architecture, food, people and views, there’s one thing that I will always remember. An old carousel lit up in the middle of Piazza della Repubblica illuminating the dark street as we walked back to our hotel. For a moment, I felt like a kid again. Standing there amazed by the wooden horses going round and round, I smiled softly. I was home.

Florence, wait for me. I’ll be back. Just wait.

Always,

-K

DreamJobbing with Lantography

Arnold LanEvery time I’ve had the privilege to travel to a new place, I somehow learn something new about myself and of course the culture around me. Travelling helps us get exposed to different kinds of people, food, cultures and understandings. So naturally, after hearing about one of my friends winning a contest for the opportunity to experience his dream job of becoming a photojournalist, I had to ask about it! His name is Arnold Lan and here are his thoughts for his up coming photojournalism debut at Norway.

I’m incredibly excited for my trip to Norway, so excited in fact, I might dare say I have never been so excited in my life, and no that is not an overstatement! Ever since the day I picked up my camera and travelled to Asia, my dream job has been to become a traveling photographer/videographer. Every time I told people that I would always add, “oh but it’s just a dream, I’ll probably find something more practical to do because I have no idea how I would get there.” I always threw in that sentence as a defense mechanism, giving myself an escape from failure to pursue my dreams. So to be able to do my dream job in Norway after only a year, is quite unreal. Every time I think about it I cannot help but smile and get giddy. To be honest I don’t even know how to prepare myself mentally but practically I am making sure I have all my equipment.

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I always imagined photojournalism to be taking pictures for a news story, or for something really important. I am having a hard time calling myself a photojournalist especially because I feel like I am just taking a lot of pictures on vacation, though of course there is much more at stake to producing good products than just showing my friends on Facebook. But I think being a photojournalist is being able to tell stories through pictures, there are many times when words are insufficient yet a picture can tell so much more. I hope I can accurately tell the story of Norway and the people of Norway to everyone else around the world, and in that process I hope I will also come to see Norway through the eyes of its citizens.

After Norway I am really hoping that this would not be a one time opportunity. I haven’t even left yet and I already know I will only yearn and thirst for it much more. I hope that this opportunity will be a gateway into something bigger. I want to come back with many stories. Stories that I hope will inspire people to chase their dreams and change. I want to come back being able to call Norway another home and to share that with everyone around me. I want to come back a better photographer, a better storyteller, and a better global citizen.

Thank you Arnold for your thoughts! 🙂

If you would like to get in touch with Arnold or look at some of his work follow the links below or click on the images above:

Always,

-K