10 TIPS FOR FIRST TIME CRUISERS ON ROYAL CARIBBEAN.

Monday, 26 September 2022

This summer I embarked on my second cruise with Royal Caribbean, and I can say my experience visiting as a teenager and as an adult were very different but both very memorable. A cruise is a great way to explore different cities/countries in a short space of time, and due to there being no coverage, also a great family bonding experience. If you still haven’t embarked on a cruise or are in the process of planning one for 2023, here are some of my tips.


1. Book in advance



We booked our Royal Caribbean cruise a year and a half in advance of our sail date, and we managed to save £400 with an ‘early bird’ discount. We did take a bit of a risk as we didn’t know what the travel situation with covid was going to be like, but it worked out in the end! Booking in advance means you also get a larger choice of staterooms, and if you get seasick you’ll want to ensure you bag one of the top deck rooms.


2. Look at the port terminal before you book your flights



Our cruise departed from ‘Venice’, but what they really meant was a port that was two hours away from Venice airport and in the town of Ravenna. Make sure you research your terminal ports first, as you may need to give yourself more time to travel. If you arrive a day before it’s also a great way to explore another city!



3. See which stops you can do at your own leisure



It’s no secret that cruise tours are usually double the price of those you can get via other agencies or from the tourist office when you arrive at one of your stops. There will be times where it’s worth booking a tour with your cruise as it will include transport and all the highlights a place has to offer. If you’re stopping at a smaller city or a beach town then it’s easier and more cost effective to do so at your own leisure.



4. Take advantage of the drinks package



Cocktails on most cruise lines are expensive, so if you’re really looking to splurge on your first day at sea it might be worth purchasing a drinks package. On Royal Caribbean a drink package of unlimited cocktails, soft drinks and speciality coffees was around £45. Which would just about get you 4 or 5 cocktails otherwise. The only thing to note was that this offer was only available the first two days of our cruise.



5. Pack your swimsuit in your carry-on bag



Just like in the airport, you will go through a check-in process before you’re allowed to board. The cruise staff will keep your suitcases and then throughout the day they will have them taken to your stateroom. This means that you might get on the ship at midday, but won’t be reunited with your luggage until 5pm. So bring your swimsuit, towel and other essentials in your carry-on luggage!


6. Make the most of the drinks allowance



As mentioned above, alcoholic drinks onboard aren’t the cheapest. Most cruise lines allow you to bring two bottles of wine per stateroom with you, which is great if you want to enjoy a glass or two on your balcony as you’re watching the sunset! You are also allowed to buy drinks in the port stops but the staff might keep this aside and give it to you when you check-out on your last day.


7. Keep your phone in aeroplane mode



Even if you’re embarking on a Mediterranean cruise, there is a chance you will sail past non-EU countries where you will be charged for data roaming. My brother learnt this the hard way when he woke up and saw a ‘welcome to Albania!’ text message. Wi-Fi on the ship usually starts around £20 a day, so in my opinion it’s not really worth it. You’ll still get coverage when the ship is docked, and chances are the people who you really need to speak to will be on the cruise with you!



8. Download the cruise app



Most cruise lines will have a dedicated app to make your journey a lot smoother. On our Royal Caribbean app we were able to check-in, book excursions, see how much we’d spent onboard, and see all the daily activities taking place. We also got the full menu for evening dining for the whole week, and obviously we couldn’t help ourselves in looking beforehand. The app is also a great way to plan your day as you can add activities to your calendar.


9. Opt to pay for the tips beforehand



I remember the first time we went on a cruise my parents had to dish out tips left right and centre at the end of our trip, which usually amounts to hundreds. Some cruises now give you the option to pay for the gratuities when you pay for your remaining balance before the cruise, and I believe this was around £120 per person.


10. Dining vs Buffet



On your cruise you will usually have two options for dinner each night included in your package. You can opt for a more formal dinner in the dining room, where there is usually one or two gala nights and you are given a 3 course menu every night. The other option is to eat in the buffet restaurant which usually has themed nights too. It’s worth checking on the app beforehand to see which menu appeals to you more!



G


5 SIDE HUSTLES TO CONSIDER IN 2022 TO BOOST YOUR INCOME.

Monday, 8 August 2022

Nowadays it feels like every other person is making a second income in some sort of way, and social media has made it easier than ever to create a second revenue stream, and to promote it! I'm lucky that through my blog it has allowed me to earn money in different ways, but that didn't come until after 2 years of establishing myself as a blogger and building up my SEO and following. If you're looking for a way to earn money from the comfort of your own home (mostly), here are 5 side hustles to consider to increase your income. 




1. Monetise your blog 



If you already have a website, one of the ways in which you can earn a passive income is with affiliate marketing. Depending on your niche, you will find plenty of websites which allow you to earn commission every time one of your readers books through your unique link. Since my blog is mainly travel, the two best affiliate programmes for me are Booking.com (around 15% commission) and GetYourGuide (10%). 

Another way to earn money through your blog is with sponsored content. Once you have built up a good domain authority (your Google ranking, basically), brands will pay you to have a link to their website within one of your blog posts. They do this in order to improve their own DA. I have a blog post all about improving your Domain Authority and SEO here


2. Start your own small business



Every time I log into TikTok I see unique products that small business owners are selling, to the more popular items like bar soaps, bespoke cakes and candles. You don't have to re-invent the wheel to start your own small business, you just have to get a bit creative and have a unique selling point. 

One thing that a lot of people are conscious about is products being eco-friendly, this also means choosing bespoke e-commerce packaging that minimises waste. Here you have a selection of envelopes or boxes to package your product in. You can then pretty much use sites like Canva to create your logo and all the graphics for your business. 

3. Write an e-book



If you have a particular skill, why not make some money from it? The good thing about this is, you have to put the work in at the beginning and then once it's written you can keep making money from sales. It'll just be your job to keep promoting it. I know of people who have made nutrition guides, SEO guides, guides on how to start a blog, manifestation guides, and have managed to make some money from it. 

All you need for this is Microsoft Word (or Google docs), your knowledge, and friends to help promote the product on social media once it's done! 


4. Teach english online 



TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) courses are popular with people who want to go live abroad and teach English at a school. However, it's also a good option if you have spare time in the evenings and want to teach English classes to children in Vietnam for example. Most courses require 120 hours to be done to be able to teach english. 

If you're a school teacher and have the summer off, why not use the time to go on a working holiday in South East Asia with this? 

5. Sell your unwanted items



If you look around the room right now, I bet you can spot 3 items that you haven't used in ages. You won't earn loads with this, but it's a great way to declutter your house, and give something a second home. 

You could also offer to do this for friends and relatives by agreeing to take the photos, write the descriptions and arrange deliveries. Just agree on the % you'll be taking beforehand! Etsy, eBay and Facebook Marketplace are all great places to do this. 

Do you have any current side hustles? Feel free to leave your links below! 




A GUIDE TO SPENDING 3 DAYS IN DUBROVNIK, CROATIA.

Wednesday, 13 July 2022

Dubrovnik has been on my bucket list for years, the interest was probably sparked when I heard Game of Thrones had been filmed there. The city has definitely milked this as you'll find GOT merch, tours and experiences everywhere. Nevertheless it is a beautiful city and it is the perfect place for a weekend escape or as part of a trip around Croatia! I'd love to explore Split, Zagreb and Hvar another time. Here is my itinerary for things to do and where to eat on a 3 day trip to Dubrovnik, Croatia. 


tea with gi dubrovnik guide


Day 1 



Breakfast: Cele

Located right at the end of the Stradun (main street), you'll find Cele. It's a great spot for people watching and you'll get quite a range of breakfast options here. I opted for the french toast, my sister went for pancakes and my mother went for eggs benedict.

AM - Walk around the city walls

Here you will find some of the best views of the city and it is a great way to get your steps in! The first thing you'll notice about Dubrovnik is that 80% of the Old Town is made up of steps, but we still saw plenty of over 70s on group tours so it isn't anything for concern! 

The walls take between 1.5 - 2 hours to walk, depending on how often you stop to take pictures and how many people are stopping in front of you. You can enter from Pile Gate and entry for adults is around 30 euros. 

Lunch: Barba

I'd watched a couple of videos before our trip and obviously my main point of interest was 'must eats in Dubrovnik'. One place that popped up a few times was the small restaurant Barba, and specifically their octopus burger in a squid ink bun. A local had also recommended this place on our tour so it was definitely worth the hype! You can't book, but we went for lunch at 2:30pm and managed to get a spot on the windowsill. 


barba dubrovnik


PM: Kayaking Tour

For £21, you can take a 3 hour kayaking tour that takes you around the city walls at sunset and will also take you around the 'cursed' island of Lokrum. You'll also have a guide who will tell you about the history of Dubrovnik and some urban legends. You will also get 30 minutes on a private beach. Informational, relaxing and you'll also work off that octopus burger! 


Dinner: Taj Mahal (Bosnian Food)

I definitely recommend reserving your tables in advance for dinner because most of the popular places will be fully booked on the night. Don't let the name fool you, as Taj Mahal is actually a Bosnian restaurant! If you have any vegetarians travelling in your party then this probably isn't the restaurant for you as their menu is very meat heavy. We opted for the 'genghis khan plate' which consisted of cevapi, chicken kebab, pljeskavica, suńĎukica, rumsteak and chicken. The food was delicious, my only complaint was that they gave us the table right at the end of the alley way and there wasn't even a street light beside. So as the picture depicts, we basically ate in darkness! 


taj mahal dubrovnik


Day 2 


Breakfast: SNEK

What I liked about this place is that it had a number of healthier options on their menu such as chia pudding and protein pancakes, and it would cost you between £5-£10 depending on what you were eating. They also had an extensive cocktail list, so it’s a great place to come back to in the afternoon.


AM: Game of Thrones Walking Tour 

If you're reading this travel guide, chances are you still haven't got to Dubrovnik. Meaning there is still time to watch the show so you can experience this tour and know your Khaleesi from your Cersei. My mother and sister hadn't seen GOT but still found the tour entertaining as the guide has plenty of pictures, funny anecdotes and non-GOT related stories about the city to share. 



game of thrones tour dubrovnik


PM: Visit Lokrum Island

The small island of Lokrum is only a 30 minute boat ride away from Dubrovnik, and there isn't much to do there except for seeing the peacocks, an Iron Throne replica and a lake that you can sunbathe by and swim in. During your stay you will probably hear how the island is haunted because of a curse that was placed by the Benedictine monks. I'll leave that story for you to find our for yourselves!


DINNER: Gradska Kavana Arsenal

This was probably my favourite meal we had, as we were right by the sea and the food was delicious and moderately priced. They serve a mix of seafood, meat and pasta dishes. I had the fish stew, my mother had squid ink risotto, and my sister had the truffle and mushroom pasta. 


Day 3


As I mentioned Dubrovnik is a relatively small city, which means that it gives you the chance to explore neighbouring cities, or even countries. There are day trips available to Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina. We decided on B&H because it's somewhere we wouldn't necessarily do an exclusive trip to. 

Day trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina 

For me the highlight of this tour was our driver, our pick up was at 7:30am so safe to say we were half asleep but he made the tour so entertaining and interesting. We drove for around an hour and a half before reaching a waterfall where we had an hour of free time, and then we continued on to the city of Mostar. 

I didn’t have any prior knowledge of Mostar or the Bosnian war in the 90s, so it was interesting to get the perspective from our Croat tour guide, and our Bosnian guide in Mostar. You definitely get the sense that people still feel very strongly and divided about what happened. 


mostar bosnia

Lunch: Restaurant Sadrvan 

This place was recommended to us by our guide, and a plate of meat, pita bread and chips cost us less than a fiver. They had a terrace so we got a great view of the bridge and river.

Mostar Day Trip from Dubrovnik (£41) 

Dinner: Mex Cantina 

The tour will have you back in Dubrovnik for dinner time, and if you fancy a change of cuisine then I recommend Mex Cantina. Half the menu was mexican and half was pizza, so we got a bit of everything and thoroughly enjoyed it.



If you have extra time...


  • If you need a pick me up on the go, try the coffee and a pastry (spinach and cheese burek) from Barcaffe in the main street. 
  • Head to Buza Bar, a cliffside bar that's a popular spot to enjoy a wine or beer and see the sunset. Note that this place only takes cash. 
  • If you fancy doing something alternative, try the 'Haunted Dubrovnik' Ghost Tour in the evening. 


We visited Dubrovnik at the end of September and we had perfect weather, aside from 20 minutes of light rain but that was the perfect opportunity to get photos with nobody in the background! I'd recommend going at the end of spring or at the end of summer as the heat can be unbearable in peak summer. 

I hope you've found this guide useful, and if you have any other questions about Dubrovnik, feel free to send me a message on my socials! 



tea with gi dubrovnik travel guide



A FIRST TIME VISITORS GUIDE TO THAILAND - WHERE TO GO?

Thursday, 16 June 2022


Thailand has officially removed all of its restrictions for vaccinated tourists, so If you have been itching for a big trip this year, you’re in luck! The great thing about Thailand is that it suits every type of traveller. Whether you’re looking to go with your partner, with a group of friends, with your family or on your own, Thailand has something for everyone. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s my guide on where to consider going on your trip depending on your interests.

elephant sanctuary chiang mai


Bangkok


This will no doubt be in your itinerary for the simple fact that it’s the easiest and cheapest airport in Thailand to fly into. People have mixed opinions about Bangkok, and personally I wouldn’t recommend spending more than 2-3 days there, but there are a lot of things to do in the area. Temperatures in Bangkok can soar, so I recommend starting your day early and then relaxing by the pool in the afternoon. If you plan on temple hopping, my top recommendations are The Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Muang and Wat Arun. 

We also took part in a thai cooking class, where we got the chance to make pad thai, sticky mango rice, tom yum soup and a thai green curry. Had we done this at the beginning of our trip, I'm certain I wouldn't have added 3 chillies inside my curry. In the evening, head to Cielo rooftop bar for great food, cocktails and amazing views of the Bangkok skyline. To end the night, walk through Khaosan road which is very popular with backpackers. Just expect it to be loud and very crowded!




Ko Samui


Ko Samui is the second largest island in Thailand, and is a popular choice for families as there are a lot of resorts in the area. Personally I don’t think it’s the nicest island, but we did have the best excursions from Ko Samui and we loved the night market in Chaweng. Who wouldn’t love a pad thai and dumplings for £3? During your time there I recommend a day trip to Mu Ko Ang Thong Park, where you’ll get the chance to snorkel, kayak and visit the blue lagoon. Other sites of interest are the Wat Plai Laem Temple, and the Overlap Stone. Just make sure your Grab driver fills up the tank before heading up there!




Koh Phangan


There is one primary reason why people go to Koh Phangan, and that’s for the monthly Full Moon Party. To get here you can get a 30 minute speedboat from Ko Samui, which I recommend buying in advance from 12go asia because the boats do fill up. My advice for the full moon party is not to go with the expectation that it is going to be great music and a sophisticated atmosphere. Buy yourself a famous bucket drink and try to make the most of the experience! In terms of dining, our hotel restaurant Sand & Tan is situated right on Haad Rin beach and has the best Pad Thai I have ever tasted.




Koh Tao


Koh Tao is the best spot for adventurous travellers who want to have a go at scuba diving.There are plenty of diving schools scattered around the island, but if you would rather just snorkel at your own leisure then I recommend heading to Shark Bay, Freedom Beach or Sairee Beach. You will also find some great viewpoints in Koh Tao, my favourite being the John Suwan Viewpoint.




Phuket


Phuket is Thailand’s largest island, and arguably the most famous. It is also the gateway to the Phi Phi islands, which was the filming location for The Beach, which Leonardo Dicaprio starred in. When in Phuket, explore the Sunday Walking Street Market for some cheap food and to purchase some buddhas and bracelets to bring back for your friends and family. When you’ve had enough of tanning on Pa Tong beach, you can climb a hill for 5 minutes to see the 45 metre tall White Buddha.




Chiang Mai


Once you are done exploring the south, fly north to experience a different side of Thailand. Chiang Mai is a great place for street food, and one of the typical dishes in northern Thailand to try here is khao soi. It consists of either chicken or beef, in a coconut curry broth with boiled and fried noodles. Here is where you will also get the chance to visit an Elephant Sanctuary. We gave the elephants a mud bath, fed them tons of bananas and made medicine balls for them.The company we went with were called Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, who have a no riding policy. You could genuinely tell the elephants were happy here. From Chiang Mai you can also take a
day trip to the nearby city of Chiang Rai, where you can visit the famous White Temple.


white temple chiang rai


Pai


From Chiang Mai, you can take a 3 hour minivan ride to the town of Pai for a real authentic Thai experience. Word of warning, I suggest taking an anti sickness tablet because there are more than 750 twists and turns to get there. You won’t need more than two nights in Pai but we loved the fact that you could walk everywhere, and it is also a great place to meet other travellers.

Here you can visit the Pai canyon, try ‘tipsy tubing’ down the river, visit the hot springs and swim in the Pam Bok waterfall. Note trying to drink a beer whilst also avoiding scraping your bum on a rock or crashing against a bush was hard work, but fun. Another traditional Thai dish you can try here is the Kaeng Hang Lei, which is a slightly spicy pork curry.


pai canyon



Thailand is known as ‘The Land of Smiles’ for a reason, and you will find the locals to be so friendly and helpful. It’s definitely a place that I will visit again in the future, and if you have the time and annual leave, you can definitely see all these places in the space of a month! 



GUEST POST | TOP 7 THINGS TO DO IN SIKKIM IN 2022

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Sikkim is a state that personifies the beauty of nature. It is surrounded by beautiful and majestic mountains, misty hills, lush greenery, and semi-frozen lakes that make the state a frequent spot of recreation for tourists both in India and internationally.


Besides getting lost in the dreamy landscape, you can also indulge in a lot of activities around the state that should make up for your time there. People who visit Sikkim have time and time clarified that they never want to return. Not only is it a nature lover’s paradise, but Sikkim is also equally exciting for adventure enthusiasts. So, if you are planning to Sikkim, do it in a planned manner with eSikkimTourism for the best travel experience. This article will explore the top 7 things that you can do in Sikkim in the year 2022 with a cost breakdown so you can plan ahead of time.



1. Kanchenjunga Base Camp Trek


Before we describe it further, be assured that this isn’t for the faint of heart. You do need proper medical documents and verification before you are allowed to even start this trek. Although it is just until the Kanchenjunga Base Camp, the paths leading up to the final destination aren’t the simplest.

It is a 90 km long trek and takes around 10 days to finish. Now, you must be wondering why does it take so long for a meager 90km trek? Well, the distance isn’t the factor; the trekking trail is very jagged and needs to be treated with utmost caution. A single wrong move can be very dangerous.

The trail initiates from Yuksom and ends at the Bakkhim point, where the trekkers finally get to take in the beautiful and mesmerizing view of the surroundings.


Cost per person – Rs. 14,700.


2. Camping


Sounds boring, doesn’t it? But, that’s the beauty of Sikkim. Even in the snow-capped mountains, the tourists have the option to wrap their things up and go out for a camping adventure. Camping is a massive revenue source for the locals during the winter months. Yes, you heard it right – During the WINTER MONTHS.

The experience is one of a kind, something that you will never want to indulge in quite frequently and without any questions asked. The backdrop of the wildflowers with the blazing heat from the fit pit in the middle is bound to take you to a whole different dimension.


The cost per person – varies and depends on the camping site.


3. Take Nature Tours


We aren’t saying that Sikkim doesn’t have its staple sightseeing spots, including temples, monasteries, and the local markets. But, if you want to do something off-beat, we’d recommend signing up for the Nature Tours instead. They are fun, enthralling, and are the perfect thing that your inner child needs to explore.

The nature tours are also perfect for the tourists who enjoy a quick trek but don’t want the steep and high-altitude treks. Some of the most popular nature tour trails include Varsey Trail, Kasturi Orar Trail, etc. 


Cost per person – Depends on the trail.


4. Bungee Jumping


Now, we had to include a good adventure sport to the list of things to do in Sikkim, right? So, why not start with the most heart-pounding one? Can you even imagine taking a free-fall plunge from a 200m height into the abyss, letting go of all your inhibitions, and taking in the thrill and adrenaline rush?

The experience is one of a kind, something that you are going to want to experience at least once in your life. Freefalling like a bird with the backdrop of the scenic view and the lush greenery is something you need to tick off your bucket list.


The cost per person – Starts from INR 500.


5. Visit the Caves


If you are an explorer, you are going to love exploring the hidden mysteries inside the various caves that are popular in Sikkim. While you are looking for a popular spot, go for North Lha-Ri-Nying Phu. It has a range of history and local traditions associated with it. It is believed to be home to a holy aura, which is one of the reasons why tourists frequent this spot.

Although it might look easy to explore, the caves contain a lot of steep terrains, which are quite difficult to walk through. So, planning your trip ahead of time is crucial for a safe travel experience.

Cost per person – INR 4500.


6. Visit the Local Monasteries


No Sikkim trip is complete without a quick visit to the local monasteries. There are quite a few that you can look around. However, we’d highly recommend that you explore the underrated spots. Visiting a monastery and taking in the peace and calm in the surroundings is something you can only experience once you are there.

Some of the best monasteries to explore in Sikkim are Pemayangtse Gompa, Rumtek, and Enchey. They are a little farther out from the main city but worth the travel.


Cost per person – Entry is free of cost.


7. Explore the National Parks


Lastly, you can’t forget to explore the natural wildlife of Sikkim, now, can you? Kewzing and Khangchendzonga are the two most popular national parks in the state that you can visit and explore. The biodiversity in these parks is stunning and you might cross paths with certain wildlife that you didn’t expect to.

It houses a lot of unique wildlife like red pandas, musk deer, snow leopards, and even the Himalayan tahr. Also, the flora in the area is unique and one of a kind as well. So, don’t forget to add it to your itinerary.


The cost per person – Starts from INR 350.


Conclusion

Sikkim is a blast of nature, one that has to offer a bit of everything for its visitors to explore. If you are sitting here confused as to what you can do and explore around the state, we hope this article gives you all the details that you are on the lookout for.


5 THINGS I WISH I WOULD HAVE KNOWN AT THE START OF MY FITNESS JOURNEY.

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

I first joined a gym when I was 16, and looking back I probably didn't make much progress but rather just maintained my figure and weight. I definitely think there's a lot more information and resources now than there was back then. I just remember seeing a lot of keto diets in magazines and the outdated '1200 calories' rule! Fast forward to university, and somewhere in my 4 years away I managed to gain 10kg. When I finished university back in 2017 that's when I really started to focus on my fitness journey and getting into the 'best shape of my life'. If I look back at pictures of myself in 2018 I definitely had a lot less body fat and muscle than I do now, but I also remember how obsessive I was getting with calorie counting and getting mad when the number on the scale would go up even if I had eaten well the day before. Whether you're starting your fitness journey, or looking for some new found motivation, here are 5 things I wish I would have known when I started.

1. Progress isn't linear


You'll probably find that when you switch up your diet or start a new gym regime, you will see the pounds start to drop quickly and then suddenly you might hit a bit of a plateau where you feel like nothing is changing. This is because at first it's a shock to your body, but when you've been doing it for a while your metabolism adjusts. This can be un-motivating and make you feel like you won't make any more progress, but's important to just stay consistent and the results will follow. I also wouldn't suggest weighing yourself every day as an indicator of your progress, as there are many factors that can cause you to go up on the scale from one day to the next. Here are 12 reasons why you might weigh more the morning after. 

2. You can eat chocolate everyday and still reach your goals


I'm not suggesting you eat a mars bar for tea every afternoon, as there are probably things with more nutritional value that you can opt for and that will keep you fuller for longer. That being said, I do have a sweet tooth and I know if I cut sweets and chocolate out completely during the week I'm just going to pig out on the weekend instead. So I do have a few squares of chocolate here and there to curb the cravings! As long as you are eating in a calorie deficit, you don't have to eat clean all the time to reach your goals. 

3. Weights can be just as good as cardio for fat loss


I think a common thing for people to do when they want to lose weight is start running for an hour on the treadmill every day to see results. Even though cardio is good for you, it's even more effective when combined with weight training. This won't make you suddenly bulk up and get bigger, in fact the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn whilst resting. If you're just starting out, I suggest starting with 10 minutes on a cardio machine, followed by 4-5 weight exercises on a particular body part (i.e. upper body or lower body) and then finish with 10-15 minutes on the treadmill. 



4. Progressively overloading is key 


For ages I would stick to my workout plan of 4X12 at a certain weight, instead of slowly increasing the weight as soon as I began to find my current machine weight 'easy'. If you do this it will be harder to see changes in your physique as your muscles will adapt. There are a number of ways you can progressively overload, including increasing the rep range, increasing the weight gradually, or by having shorter intervals between your sets. 


5. No one else cares what you're doing at the gym 


Being a beginner at the gym can be daunting, but unless you're doing some wacko exercise throwing dumbbells around the gym, no one is going to be watching you! Everyone is too focused on themselves and their own form. My advice for feeling confident at the gym is to get yourself a good pair of noise cancelling headphones,  look up movements on Youtube if you feel like you need practice, and make yourself a fire playlist for your workout. 

For me personally, I also like wearing a nice co-ordinated gym outfit as it makes me feel more confident and subconsciously I feel like I have a better workout if I feel comfortable and good in what I'm wearing. A brand I am loving lately is Yvette which specialises in high impact sports bras. I've found that on the market a lot of high impact sports bras aren't as pretty as low support ones, which is why I was so impressed with the range of colours and design of the Yvette collection. Another feature I like about them is that they have non-removable moulded cups. There's nothing worse than the padding moving around in the washing machine and then having to try and get them in the proper place again! I also purchased some matching green leggings which passed the gym test - they don't fall down, they're squat proof and they even have a pocket for you to fit your keys, phone or Airpod case in. 

yvette high impact sports bra



Wherever you are in your fitness journey, I think it's important to reflect back and see ways that you can improve but also how far you've come. I may not be as 'fit' as I was 4 years ago when I was 23, but I love my curves now and still feel strong and healthy. 

G


* this post contains gifted items but all words and opinions are my own *





GUEST POST / WHAT ARE THE BEST CITIES IN WASHINGTON STATE

Monday, 9 May 2022

If you are planning to relocate to Washington state, you will want to do a little research on the options for cities you are considering. You will need to think about things like cost-of-living, weather, location in the state, and so much more.


When you begin to plan your move, think of the job opportunities in your new city, as well as the housing options. Consider other things like your hobbies and whether you prefer a larger city or a smaller one. Take in account all the variables of your life when considering which city you want to call home, and consider the following best cities in Washington state.




Seattle

The most obvious city, and the city you probably think of first when you think of Washington state, is Seattle. If you are hoping to move to a big city, Seattle is your pick for Washington state. While it is not the capital of the state, it is the largest city in the state and actually all of the Pacific Northwest.


If you are looking for a job, you are in luck in Seattle. There are many companies with headquarters in the city, including Amazon, Starbucks, and Microsoft. For sports fans, Seattle is home to the NFL’s Seahawks, MLB’s Mariners, and the NHL’s the Kraken. 


Seattle also has amazing art, culture, and music scenes, and is even considered the birthplace of grunge. Seattle has a lot of things going for it, and if you are looking for a great big city in Washington, Seattle is the obvious choice. 

Spokane

If you are looking for a city in the eastern part of the state, consider Spokane. The eastern part of the state is significantly different from the west, where most of the major cities you associate with Washington are located. Notably, western Washington is very rainy, while eastern Washington has a warmer and drier climate. Spokane specifically is protected on either side by mountain ranges, making the weather unique for the region.


If you love to be outside and relish outdoor recreation, Spokane is a great Washington city for you. You can ski in the winter, and hike and raft in the summer. There are several local ski resorts to enjoy. Spokane is a departure from the rainy western part of the state if you are looking for something different.

Bellevue

If you want to be near Seattle in a city with a similar feel, think about a move to Bellevue. Bellevue is situated right across Lake Washington from Seattle and can be considered a suburb or satellite city of Seattle. 


The city is known as a technology hub and has a bustling downtown for big city-lovers. If this sounds appealing to you, there are plenty of Bellevue houses for sale. If you like the idea of living in a busy city without actually being right in Seattle, give Bellevue a try.


There are many exciting cities to consider if you are planning a move to Washington state. From Seattle and Bellevue in the west to Spokane in the east, there are options that can meet everyone’s needs.


6 SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL DESTINATIONS FOR YOUR NEXT INCENTIVE TRIP

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Is there such a thing as a sustainable travel destination? All destinations require some form of travel to get to which immediately gets you in the carbon deficit before you’ve even arrived. However, when you do arrive, the place you’re in makes all the difference to whether your trip can be eco-friendly/sustainable compared to other destinations.

Destinations that can be travelled to via train can limit your carbon emissions before you even arrive. However, there are some cities that stand out from the rest with green spaces, electric transport and eco-friendly accommodation and activities. Here are some of the top destinations that place an emphasis on sustainability to create a better environment for everyone.




Copenhagen, Denmark




As a city that has won the title as the world’s most walkable and bikeable city several times, Copenhagen is considered by many as one of the top sustainable destinations in the world. Nearly all of the larger venues and hotels in the city have a 3rd party eco-certification as it aims to become the first carbon neutral capital city by 2025.

Copenhagen has also just finished the expansion of the metro’s City Ring that connects all parts of the city within 12 min. ride directly to the airport meaning you can be as carbon neutral as possible visiting this gorgeous city.


Where to stay: Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers

This hotel takes the title of Denmark’s first carbon neutral hotel building. To obtain this result the hotel has cut down energy consumption via innovative solutions such as the largest building integrated solar panel park in Northern Europe, the first ever groundwater-based cooling and heating system in Denmark, intelligent light saving measures and water saving measures.


What to do

  • Take a bicycle tour of the city
  • Dry slope skiing on the Copenhill, the world’s cleanest waste-to-energy power plant
  • Visit Tivoli Gardens, one of the oldest amusement parks in the world
  • Experience urban farming at an oyster opening workshop in a sea farm


Amsterdam, Netherlands




Another city that comes to mind when thinking of bikes is of course Amsterdam. Transport around Amsterdam is some of the most environmentally friendly in the world, with bicycles, canal boats, trams and e-scooters making up a large portion of the way people get around.

And with great train links throughout Europe, Amsterdam can also be travelled to using low carbon methods which significantly decreases your carbon footprint before you've even got there!

Where to stay: Hotel Jakarta

Hotel Jakarta is said to be the most sustainable hotel in the Netherlands. The construction uses natural wood as the main building material and nearly no non-recyclable products. There are also a number of energy-saving measures implemented such as collecting rainwater for the subtropical indoor garden, solar panels that transform solar energy into electricity to heat the shower water, and a warmth and cold storage system that regulates the temperature in the hotel.

What to do


Iceland




As a country that heats 85% of all houses using renewable geo-thermal energy, and provides nearly 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources (73% from Hydro, 27% from geo-thermal), Iceland is one of the top destinations that can provide for your trip in an eco-friendly way.

Iceland is also home to The Blue Lagoon, a geo-thermal spa that is rich in a unique combination of natural minerals, which gives the lagoon its soft, milky aquamarine colour. Enjoying a bath in the warm water of the lagoon, surrounded by black lava is the perfect way to relax without harming the environment.

Where to stay: The Retreat by Blue Lagoon


The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland encompasses a subterranean spa, a geothermal lagoon, a restaurant that reimagines Iceland’s culinary traditions, and a 62-suite hotel encircled by the Blue Lagoon’s mineral-rich waters. The Retreat is a place where guests can leave the world behind and enter a timeless realm of relaxation, rejuvenation, and exploration.

What to do

  • Relax and unwind in one of Iceland’s geo-thermal spas
  • Enjoy a wildlife tour in a kayak, getting up close and personal with Iceland’s most iconic wildlife
  • Hike up an icelandic volcano
  • Plant trees to offset the carbon emissions of your trip
  • Enjoy fresh hot bread at a geo-thermal bakery

Costa Rica




Tourism in Costa Rica has increased over the last couple of years, and with the country now letting in double vaccinated individuals from any country enter, it’s a great option for an incentive trip further afield.

Costa Rica is widely recognised for its sustainable tourism and its effort towards being more environmentally friendly. It actually was voted the second most sustainable country in the world by the World Energy Council. 99.2% of the energy Costa Rica uses is renewable, 78% from hydroelectric and 18% by geothermal. A quarter of the country’s land has been turned into protected parks and reserves, which is no surprise considering 51% of Costa Rica is forested.

Where to stay: El Silencio Eco Lodge

This 4 star hotel gives the illusion that it is floating like a cloud in the rainforest, and is situated near the Poas Volcano. You will definitely be able to disconnect at this hotel as you are surrounded by a tropical forest, waterfalls and wildlife. El Silencio features an array of sustainable programmes and initiatives to reduce their environmental footprint. It also aims to give back to the community through local employment opportunities, local purchases and energy conservation.

What to do



Oslo, Norway




Oslo has been voted in the top 5 most sustainable cities in the world, and has one of the biggest targets of reducing carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. As with other Scandinavian countries, the air and water are one of the purest and it is surrounded by nature (particularly the Fjords).

Another great thing about Oslo is that it is a gateway to exploring other beautiful and natural parts of the country. This includes a hike to Frognerseteren and Vettakollen, or a day trip to Bergen where you can find the Sognerfjord.

Where to stay: Hotel Bristol

Located one street down from Karl Johan in the city centre, the Hotel Bristol has earned its eco-friendly certification by using sustainable energy, environmentally friendly suppliers and limiting waste. The hotel has a gym, meeting rooms and conference facilities and has over 250 guest rooms.

What to do:

  • Visit the Nobel Peace Prize Center
  • See an interesting collection of sculptures at Frogner Park
  • Join a walking tour around the city to learn about the history and fun facts about the country
  • Take a fjord cruise
  • Kayak through the fjords with evening BBQ and overnight stay

Ljubljana, Slovenia




Ljubljana is becoming one of the top European cities for travel and it’s not hard to see why. The diversity the city, and country of Slovenia offers makes it perfect for anyone who is interested in nature, history or adventure.

The capital of Slovenia has previously been ranked the #1 European Green capital, and is also a beautiful location to visit in the Spring or Summer months. The city centre has been car-free since 2018 and provides locals and visitors free access to a bike-share scheme. There are also tons of green spaces including a ‘Bee Trail’ which consists of 4,500 hives placed around the city.

Where to stay: Zlata Ladjica Hotel

This 5 star boutique hotel is located just by the river, one of the most picturesque spots in the city. They are also aiming to leave a minimal environmental footprint, by ensuring that all the food and drinks they provide in their hotel are locally sourced and in-season. They use minimal plastic throughout the hotel and it’s also good to note that the tap water in Ljubljana is perfectly safe to drink. So much so that you’ll see plenty of water fountains around the city.

What to do:

  • Visit/Hike Lake Bled
  • Try one of their innovative tours such as the ‘Moustache Tour’ , Taste Ljubljana food tour, or the Beer Experience
  • Visit the abandoned Hotel Bellevue
  • Contribute to a wildlife conservation project


If you want to find out more about these destinations and the sustainable activities, hotels and restaurants that can be experienced there, get in touch with Zentive Agency at hello@zentiveagency.com




* This post was written together with Zentive Agency as a collaborative piece*


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