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Camping Packing List: What I’m Taking to Blogstock

By 5 August 2014 Life, Lifestyle, Outdoors, Travel, Travel Tips
Camping packing list: what I'm taking to Blogstock

This weekend I’m going to Blogstock! Apparently, it’s the world’s first blogging festival and I, for one, am really looking forward to it!

Blogstock is a cross between a blogger conference and a festival. I’ve never been to either! The interesting part is, I’m camping for the weekend, by myself. Well, in a field with loads of other people but still, I’ve got a tent to myself.

I’ve bought a new tent especially. My tent is a massive 4 man one that takes forever to put up. There’s no way I could put it up by myself even if I wanted to. So, I’ve opted for a funky pop up one from Quechua at Decathlon. I’ve heard good things about these tents and am assured that they are one brand of pop up tent that actually doesn’t leak.

Quechua breton

Luckily, I’m driving to Blogstock. My packing list is pretty long and there’s no way I could carry it all otherwise.



Here are some of the essentials I’m intending to pack:

Essential camping equipment

– Tent – obvs!
– Sleeping bag
– Mallet to hammer those pegs in
– Self inflating mattress
– Folding chair and mini table
– Gas stove
– Kettle – I don’t want to have to shell out every time I want a coffee
– Torch

Food and drink

I know there’s going to be food available but I want to save a little bit of money on the basics.
– Nescafe 3 in 1 sachets – these are coffee, sugar and milk all in one – not the most amazing cup of coffee but not bad.
– Massive bottle of water!
– Pot Noodle – festival staple I think.
– Bread for toasting
– Cup a soups


– Baby wipes! I’m taking regular wash bag stuff too but baby wipes are essential for quick clean ups, removing make up, cleaning dirty feet before getting into your sleeping bag, etc.
– Quick dry travel towel
– Sun cream (fingers crossed I’ll need it!)
– Hand sanitiser gel – ‘cos you never know what the toilets are going to be like


– Flip flops
– Wellies
– Warm socks for the evenings
– Cosy jammies
– Fleece to keep warm after dark
– Waterproof jacket

Optional extras

I’m trying to glamp it up just a little bit. I may be essentially sleeping on the floor but I’d like as much comfort as possible!
– Ikea rug I found for £1.75 – perfect for use as a doormat.
– Picnic blanket – I’m going to use it as a tent carpet. Yup.
– Glow sticks to hang from the front of the tent
– Cute pink pin wheel I found in Sainsbury’s to put outside!

See, told you it would be too much to carry!

Who else is going to Blogstock! Anyone else flying solo? I’m leaving hubby at home for the weekend. Please say ‘hi’ if you see me!

Rachel x

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Packing for a Weekend Away in the UK

By 13 February 2014 Travel, Travel Tips
Packing for a weekend away in the UK -

I’m going to be totally honest here. I am crap at packing! Well, that’s not quite true, I’m great at packing; packing everything and the kitchen sink! When I went travelling I had a massive backpack that I couldn’t actually carry. The longest distance I managed with it on my back was from a hostel in Hollywood to the Metro station half a mile away. I thought the shoulder straps were actually going to embed themselves into my shoulders.

Hubby and I are going away for the weekend for our first wedding anniversary in April. We’re hoping to go to Bristol, where neither of us have been before. I am determined to pack sensibly and want to pack one of those ‘capsule wardrobes’ I’ve read about for the past decade.

Weekend staple: skinny jeans

This is one item I won’t be going away without. I love my skinny jeans, and the great thing is you can wear them with Converse during the day and the switch up your outfit in the evening with a pair of heels. They go with everything! For exploring during the day, team your jeans and trainers with a cosy tee and a cute jumper. I love those with pretty collars because they stop you me looking scruffy.

Once you get back to the hotel you can simply pop on a pair of heels and re-do your make up for an evening look. Et voila, you’re ready to go out for dinner. Another great thing about jeans is that you can get away with wearing them for a few days.

Another bonus with skinny jeans, rather than other types of jeans, is that when it rains (and let’s face it that’s pretty likely in Blighty) they don’t drag in puddles so you don’t get that awful ‘rising damp’. Back in the 00’s, when baggy jeans were all the rage, sometimes my jeans would be soaked all the way up to my knees! Yuck!

I created this set on Polyvore (read – spent many hours creating outfits and browsing through shoes!) as inspiration for packing for a weekend away:

City break - day to night outfit


My plans for packing light:

  • Choose just two pairs of shoes, one for the day, the other for the evening.
  • Pick one handbag that can be used all weekend.
  • Wear my skinnies all weekend long (and hope that I don’t spill anything!).
  • Choose one colour palette so my accessories, nail colour, etc will match each outfit.
  • Remember that I probably won’t need 4 pairs of emergency knickers and 10 pairs of socks, just in case!
  • And last but not least, pick out a small weekend bag so I am actually forced to pack light! If it won’t fit in the bag, it’s not coming.

Do you have any tips for packing light for a weekend away? Is there anything I’ve forgotten?

Rachel x

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How To Protect Your Eyes From UV While Travelling

By 12 September 2013 Travel, Travel Tips

Do you think about the sun’s UV intensity when you’re packing for a trip?  Yes?  I assume you make sure that you pack the right sunscreen but do your thoughts go as far as your sunglasses?  I always wear sunglasses when it’s bright because I squint, even if it’s overcast, so I’m that person wearing sunglasses all year round! To be honest, I only really wear my sunglasses to prevent me getting headaches and to help me see.  I’ve never really thought about the effect that UV could have on my eyes so when I was invited to a webinar hosted by The Vision Council all about UV tips for travellers I was interested to learn more.

In a 2013 study by The Vision Council it was observed that 40% of adult Americans were not wearing sunglasses while outside and 48% were observed without sunglasses while driving.  Most people are aware of the harmful UV rays that come from the sun, that’s why we wear sunscreen, to prevent sunburn, premature aging and skin cancer.  But did you know that you can get skin cancer on the delicate skin around your eyes or even your eyelids?  I know I’ve never put sunscreen on my eyelids!  That sounds pretty nasty and something you and I definitely want to avoid.

UV safety facts infographic from The Vision Council
It doesn’t even have to be super bright and sunny for your eyes to be exposed to harmful UV rays.  You should also wear sunglasses when it’s overcast, especially if you’re on the water or skiing.  Recently, CNN reporter, Anderson Cooper, got sun burn in his eyes while filming in water.  It was cloudy so he didn’t put sunglasses on.  He actually suffered with temporary blindness in one eye for 36 hours!  UV exposure is actually cumulative.  Frequent exposure to the sun makes our eyes more prone to visual problems and disease as we get older, for example macular degeneration or cataracts.

Only 16 degrees Centigrade in Folkestone and cloudy but a UV index of 4.

How to protect your eyes

To make sure you’re prepared for the sun, check out the UV rating, which is found on a decent weather forecast, such as on the Weather Channel or Met Office in the UK.  Understanding the UV index will help you to protect your eyes.

It’s not just about simply wearing sunglasses, it’s important to choose a pair that offer you good UV protection, both UVA and UVA.  The best way to do this is to steer clear of those cheap designer knock offs on the market and buy from a reputable retailer.  Check for the UV protection sticker. Buying cheap sunglasses without the proper UV protection can actually do more harm than good because behind the dark lens your pupils will dilate and allow more of the sun’s rays in.  You’d be better off not wearing any sunglasses if you wear rubbish ones!

So ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’13, if I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunglasses would be it.  And because this topic has totally reminded me of that 1999 song from Baz Luhrmann (and yes I know that’s sunscreen not sunglasses but humour me here!) here’s the video!

Who are The Vision Council?

The Vision Council are a not-for-profit organisation that represents the manufacturers and suppliers of the optical industry.

***Disclaimer: I was compensated for taking the time to participate in the webinar.  All opinions are my own.***

By Rachel Birchley

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Saving for your trip? Have you considered an ISA?

By 11 March 2013 Travel, Travel Tips

Saving is tough!

If you’re anything like me you’ll find saving up really hard. But if you’re going to be travelling for an extended period of time you’ll need to have access to lots of cash. When I was saving up to go travelling, I found the best way to save was to budget carefully and allow myself a set amount of ‘pocket money’ per week so I did’t feel deprived. It’s nice to be able to buy yourself lunch every so often rather than just taking a packed lunch to work. Since we pay tax on pretty much everything in the UK, of course, savings are not exempt. You have to pay tax on any interest earned on savings. Of course, with the interest rates so low you probably won’t have much tax to pay but why pay any if you don’t have to? In the UK, you can open an individual savings account (ISA) and pay in up to £5640 each tax year, interest free. This is great when you’re saving up to go travelling because every penny helps! This infographic from Money Supermarket explains all.

Image source: MoneySupermarket.
With the tax year ending in April, there’s no better time to open an ISA. Use it or lose it!

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4 Things to Remember When Travelling Within the EU

By 13 December 2012 Travel, Travel Tips

Travelling within the EU is very easy as far as governmental restrictions and the annoyance of exchanging money are concerned. However there are a number of other things that travellers need to be aware of when travelling internationally that they might be less likely to think about now that everything feels a bit less localised. Here is a quick list of things that you’ll need to keep an eye on to make sure that your travels run smoothly.


The European Health Insurance Card
 is something you can sign up for online at an EHIC provider to get your national health insurance to cover you anywhere inside the EU at state run health institutions. It’s very cheap to apply online (just £20).  There is absolutely no reason to travel abroad without your health insurance coverage when a sudden emergency could leave you in massive debt for the rest of your life.


Pretty much everyone in the cities can speak English, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll be willing to talk to you. With most people you might find a cold welcome waiting if you don’t at least make a nominal effort to speak their language, since pretty much anyone considers it rude to just walk up to someone and begin talking to them in a foreign language without so much as a hello and excuse me. More importantly, if you find yourself stuck somewhere there might not be anyone who can speak English at all, in which case a few small phrases are the difference between panic and being able to find means of contacting someone who can help.

Personal Identification

This should be entirely obvious; however it’s a pretty major problem. The UK is one of the EU countries that has not removed its border controls so getting back home after your trip can be considerably more complicated if you can’t prove who you are. To make your life easier you should email yourself a scanned copy of your passport so that you can access it anywhere in case you lose the hard copy somehow.

Talk to Your Bank

Nothing is quite as frustrating as having your bank account frozen while you’re on vacation. In order to protect your money most banks will automatically lock down your funds if it finds that they’re being spent in an irregular manner, like for example 400 miles away from where you were yesterday. In order to make sure the bank is working with you rather than against you, make sure to call them several days or weeks before you leave so as to ensure that they know where you will be before they call you to ask if you really just spent £150 at a Portuguese restaurant.

Guy Pierson is a writer and globetrotter. His hobbies include learning new languages, eating bizarre food, and glider flying. He writes for which offers paid review and submission services as well as a European hospital locator for the NHS’s free EHIC program.

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