Packing for a summer holiday

I can’t sing. I’m shocking at sport. One thing I actually can do though, is pack for a holiday with expert precision. While most people dread packing, once you know how to do it correctly it’s a breeze. I’ve written about some tips that I live by so worrying about over or under packing will be a thing of the past
Note: this is for anyone travelling to a warm climate, if you’re going skiing I’d suggest to bring jumpers and wooly socks.
Rule 1 – Clothes
  • You won’t wear jeans. So stop debating weather to bring black, denim or white because you won’t wear them. Wear one pair while travelling and they will do you.
  • Shorts and skirts that are cotton and can be rolled up small are what you want. They’re lightweight and you won’t sweat your eyes out. They’re what your going to live in if you’re doing any tours, excursions or shopping.
  • Two nice summer dresses for going out for dinner.
  • Shoes: bring a pair of runners for walking, hikes, tours etc. A nice pair of sandals for going out, a plain brown/nude pair of sandals/flip flops that you can pair with any outfit for everyday. There is absolutely no need for heels cause the roads are uneven af and you’re on holiday mate no one knows you, may as well wear flats and have a savage night out.
  • String tops are your life on holiday I usually bring a couple in different colours and they can be worn every day cause it’s going to be super hot and also for nights out with funky shorts/skirts.
  • Bring a jacket just in case it’s breezy at night time. I have an oversized denim jacket that can go over any outfit dressy or casual.
  • A playsuit or two for some nights out because they’re comfy and lightweight.
Rule 2 – Toiletries
  • Why are you even debating which foundations to bring? They’re so cumbersome to carry and you’re not going to be wearing it during the day. My advice is to bring one light foundation (with an spf) and a powder so you don’t sweat it off. Realistically it’s going to be too warm to wear much makeup so stick to your basics i.e no need for the 30 different eye shadow pallets.
  • Sun cream and AFTERSUN!! Just because you “don’t burn” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring them. We are one of the worst countries for skin cancer so use your brain and wear spf, even when you’re flying because believe it or not UV rays come in through your air plane windows so keep your blind down as well.
  • Moisturiser and eye cream are essential because you’re going to be sweating and more than likely drinking alcohol so you really need to hydrate your skin properly.
  • A roll on deodorant
  • Mini toothpaste
  • Toothbrush

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Rule 3 – Travel accessories 
  • Download some good songs/books that you will be able to play when your phone is going to be on air plane mode.
  • An empty water bottle. Empty so you can bring it through security and then just fill it up at a water fountain. This will save you spending a tenner on a bottle of Evian.
  • A baggy cardigan/scarf. This will save you from the chill of the air plane air conditioning as well as doubling up as a pillow for a quick nap.
  • Sunglasses and a good hat
  • Headphones
  • Mini speaker
  • A backpack or bumbag for day trips
Rule 4 – Lists
I live for making lists on my phone, especially when planning a trip. One tip I would recommend is make a checklist for all the essentials you need before you leave the house:
-phone and charger
-passport
-tickets & booking confirmation for hotel
-keys
-credit card and money
-drivers licence
-toothbrush
I hope this helped at least one of you. The most important thing to remember when packing is less is more. Most likely you will be doing shopping over there, so there is no need to have a whole new outfit for every day of the week. Trust me.
Mini Mint x

India

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Hiya! A couple of years ago I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Kolkata, India in transition year with the Hope Foundation. It was here that I fell in love with the idea of nursing that led me down my career path of helping others. It was one of the best trips I have ever taken and I am going to share some insight into what we experienced and what India has to offer.

The country and why I went

India is the most populated country in the world with Kolkata (formally Calcutta) hosting a population of over 4.6 million people. There are approximately 800,000 street children in Kolkata and I had the privilege of meeting these beautiful young people. I have such a selection of pictures of these little kids that would melt your heart but I am unable to publish them online for security reasons. I’m sorry they are actually gold ahaha. Our school organised this immersion program with our guidance counsellor and the selection process was tough so in the end myself and sixteen other students from our school travelled to India along with other colleges in Ireland who we became very close with. We travelled to Dubai and then made our connecting flight to Kolkata.

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The Programmes

Over the course of our time in Calcutta we were brought to several different programmes that the Hope Foundation had set up including orphanages, schools and hospitals. The work that these people do is amazing. They do everything in their power to help as many people as they can. Even something as simple as taking a shipping container into a slum and using it as a safe place where kids can gather to learn their basic alphabet is mind blowing.  Hope’s main priority is helping the street children however they also run programmes for the mothers such as sewing classes and tutorials on weaving and creating your own jewellery from basic materials. These are simple little skills that these people can use to earn a living.

What we saw

While visiting the orphanages, slums and hospitals were the main reason for our trip we also managed to squeeze in a visit to Mother Theresa’s Tombstone in the Mother House in Kolkata. We had the opportunity to visit some temples as well which are simply gorgeous. The architecture is mesmerising and the buildings are so full of colour it is a stark contrast to our catholic churches back home. I wish we could have had more time in India but it is on the top of my list of countries I want to go back to. While our visit was short and sweet, the experience was life changing for me. I felt I came back a better person who understands how lucky we are to be born in a first world country and to make the most of it!

So that is just a quick synopsis of my time in India. We stayed at a pretty basic hotel in Kolkata and got our dinner every night included in our expenses. We had to fund-raise 3,500 euro each before we left which was tough going but very worth it. My advice would be to take these opportunities when they come at you! I was nervous going as I was only fifteen and had never been on a trip without my parents before but it was the best thing for me and the whole journey taught me some serious life lessons.

Mini Mint x

London

Hiya! London is one place that I will never get tired of visiting due to the vast amount of things to see and do there. I have included a couple of things I have personally enjoyed while being over there but take into consideration some things are not for everyone so with any trip just make sure to do what you want to do.

Places to see & Tourist spots

London is full to the brim of famous landmarks which are pretty much compulsory to visit. I mean have even been to London if you haven’t gotten a picture with Big Ben? Buckingham palace and Trafalgar Square are also great tourist spots. I actually attended Gay Pride here in 2015 and it was such an unreal day. There were thousands of people decked out in multicoloured clothes and just a huge sense of happiness and we bopped to Blue. M&M world is also super fun and you can get photo booth pictures with all your pals, find out what type of m&m you are and even get personalised m&ms with whatever you want written on them. We also did the London Dungeons tour which is kind of like walking through a haunted house but so much craic. It’s located just opposite the London Eye and was actually one of my highlights. Madame Tousauds is another must-do in London. It’s not like I’m going to be in a position where I get to kiss David Beckham on the cheek in real life so I can settle with his wax doppelganger!

 

 

Places to go

If you’re looking to do some serious shopping where else to go only Oxford Street? Home to thousands of your most-loved shops including my personal favourite Topshop. It is HUGE. No words to describe this Mecca to fashion lovers only go and see if for yourself. I dare you to go and try to not spend any money. If you are not that into high street fashion, Camden is a real cool and edgy alternative. Browse through the stalls and soak up the atmosphere. you can locate some great finds in the various vintage shops scattered across the area. Speaking of vintage shopping, Brick Lane is also impeccable for finding some used clothing. The Sunday market in Brick Lane is where poor fashion tastes go to die. you can literally find anything you could possibly want here. It’s also home to the famous Cereal Killer Cafe so why not start your day off right and have a bowel of peanut butter cups for brekkie?

Things to do

My number one thing I would recommend when in London is to climb the O2 arena at sunset. It was one of the coolest and most surreal experiences ever and by far was the best thing I have done in London. The Emirates cable cars are also another cool way to see the whole city and you sail over the Thames but I would not recommend if you don’t like heights as they can sometimes swing a bit. If you can manage to squeeze in a show at the West End you will not regret it. This is actually a perfect excursion if you are on a family trip or with an older crowd. We saw Billy Elliott and is was sensational. To this day no show has beaten it! Unreal. The Tower Bridge promenade or Hyde Park are two places I would suggest if the weather is warm in London. you can chill out and get an ice cream and watch the world go by whilst listening to some performers.

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That’s just some suggestions of things to see and do in one of the greatest cities in the world. I stayed with a friend while in London for a week but have stayed in hotels the other times.

Mini Mint x

Accommodation List

  • Kensington Hotel
  • The Hilton Kensington

Note: When travelling to London it is easiest to fly into Heathrow and get an Oyster card for travelling around. The tube is located at the airport so you just hop and it can take you to anywhere in London.

Alternatively: You can fly into the surrounding airports such as Stansted, Luton or Gatwick and get the train to King’s Cross station. from here you can get the bus or tube to wherever you wish to see. this is sometimes cheaper for flights.

California Road Trip

Hiya! So last summer I was lucky enough to travel the west coast of America with my sister and we had an absolute BALL of a time over there. Some stories are for us to know only. (Aoife never forget how we got home from the wedding, you owe me!) For the most part though I want to share where we went and what we did with all of you.

Los Angeles

We landed in LAX after our 9 hour flight and we were super tired but we still had to sort out our rental car and drive to Redondo Beach which was our first stop. We got to our hotel and passed out. We based ourselves here for 5 days and in those days we travelled to Hollywood, San Diego and Downtown Los Angeles. Yes, we took all those cringey tourist pictures but we had steller sushi, went on an adventure to the Hollywood Sign and learnt how to paddle board in San Diego courtesy of our cousin. (Shoutout to him for throwing us off our boards, you the real MVP) After this we travelled to Hermosa Beach for two nights which is by far one of the funkiest hotels I have ever stayed at. From here we went on to the famous Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier which are both gorgeous and so full of excitement and life. I mean it is the end of route 66. 10/10 would recommend for the photo opportunities as well and celebrity spotting.

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Santa Barbara

We left LA exhausted because we crammed so much in but managed to drive to Santa Barbara. We stayed in a pretty basic inn but it had free breakfast. We stayed 3 nights in Santa Barbara and here we rented cruiser bikes and travelled the whole coast on them. Note to readers: wear suncream. We also did a spot of shopping here but overall there is a really chill vibe with not much of a nightlife. Perfect place to relax among the palm trees in the middle of your journey to recharge the batteries.

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Gilroy & San Francisco

After this we travelled the most beautiful 4 hour car journey to Gilroy. The whole purpose of this trip was to go to this wedding between our two American friends and let me tell you it was a serious culture shock. A gorgeous ceremony with plenty of craic but completely different to an Irish wedding. It was a great day, we made a lot of friends and bust some serious moves on the dance floor. We stayed for two nights before we continues to our last stop which was San Francisco. We have both been to San Francisco before so we weren’t too bothered about doing all of the tourist things. That didn’t stop us from cycling to the Golden Gate Bridge though and taking a few cheeky snaps. We saw the fireworks on the Fourth of July down at Pier 39 and they were incredible. Truly, words cannot describe how mesmerised I was for that night. After spending a drunken night in Berkeley with one of my friends at a frat house I can safely say this was one of the best trips I have ever been on.

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California ticked all the right boxes but the one thing I will say is that you would definitely need a car due to everything being so spread out. All accommodation we stayed at are listed below.

Mini Mint x

 

Accommodation List

  • Redondo Beach Crowne Plaza
  • Hotel Hermosa
  • Avania Inn
  • Nikko Hotel San Francisco

Note: We stayed with friends in Gilroy and San Francisco but we stayed in the Nikko last time and it was amaaazing.