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The Ultimate Guide To A Minimalist Wedding

With everything that comes with weddings these days, it is often hard to remember what the day is really about.

The average couple now spends around £20,983 on their perfect day, according to a survey ran by You and Your Wedding in 2014. That is an awful lot of money to make a commitment to someone you love.

November is a month that always gets me thinking about weddings as it marks the anniversary of my own. It is a time where I look back and cherish a great moment, but mostly think about the day-to-day. How lucky we are to have something that gets’ stronger each day.

I feel that three years ago, I got married minimally, spent next to nothing in comparison to the UK average, but I am just as married as the couples who went all out.

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So what is a minimalist wedding?

A common misconception when thinking about a minimalist wedding is that it will involve bare tables, hardly any people and a dress you already own.

This is because quite often people associate minimalism with owning as few items as physically possible. Minimalism is not about that. It is about living only with what makes you happy. Having items to enrich your life, experiences to fill your life, and getting away from the bad clutter that just detracts from your happiness.

So this is why I think a minimalist wedding is the perfect wedding. It is about ensuring your marriage celebration contains exactly what makes you happy.

Forget about the DJ if doing the Macarena really isn’t your thing and you’d much rather be dancing to your all time favourite hits from Spotify.

Unless you have a specific reason for wanting to provide all your guests with the most elaborate favours (that honestly, they probably will have eaten, lost or stored away in a draw a week after the event), don’t. Why not donate to charity on everyone’s behalf instead?

The reality is, we have been so brainwashed with consumerist marketing messages around what a wedding should involve, we have forgot to ask the simplest of questions, why?

A wedding in the 1950’s is drastically different to today. It seems we are getting further away from the meaning of the day and more into the show and splendor of one great big party.

I think it’s time we stopped doing what we feel we should for our weddings, and start doing what we want to do. What makes us happy.

It might be a intimate wedding on a beach because you love being near the sea and you naturally don’t like a fuss. It might be a huge church wedding with 500 friends and family. But whatever the celebration, make sure you are asking yourself throughout, is this for them, or for us?

The best weddings I have been to have been because the day was filled with so much love, fun and the happiness from the couple has been infectious.

Whatever you choose to include on your day, make it for the both of you.

What our ‘minimalist’ wedding involved

Our wedding wouldn’t have made it into the pages of Brides magazine, and probably shocked a few of the guests on the day. But you know what, it was the most perfect and wonderful day of my life.

Together we decided our wedding ground rules depending on our values, and anything that didn’t fit into it didn’t get included on the day.

They were:

  1. Focus on each other. The whole day was very much around us, our memories and our favourites.
  2. Having our immediate family and friends there. An intimate wedding was more important to us than a larger one.
  3. Eating food I didn’t need to worry about and could have the same meal as everyone else. I didn’t want to be limited to a dairy free version of a five-course extravaganza. Imagine food envy on your own wedding day! Fanciness didn’t matter to us, it was just more around joint enjoyment.
  4. Drinks galore! We went for a venue without a license but that was licensed for us to bring our own alcohol. This way wine was plentiful without the shocking bar or corkage charges!
  5. Making it beautifully unique. We wanted to remember it for years to come.

So in case you are wondering, here are some of the details from our minimal wedding day.

The Dress

I wore a £20 dress that my lovely nanny-in-law altered to suit my size. It wasn’t designer, and I didn’t have that champagne in the dress store moment, but what I did have was the perfect dress. Don’t get me wrong, I tried on your typical wedding dresses but quite honestly, I looked like a child playing dress-up. I knew that to feel good on the day I needed something simple. For other brides, the big dress is perfect for them and what they need on the day, and I am all for that.

My veil was £3 from eBay. The shoes, £5. It was all a bargain, but it was perfect. I am also glad it didn’t cost much more as I wouldn’t wear any of them again!

I am still trying to decide what to do with my dress now. It is the only nostalgic item remaining in my minimal wardrobe!

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The Venue

We got married at a registry office and had the reception on a small farm called Stepney Hill Farm (Yorkshire people, if you are getting married I would wholly recommend this venue!) It was wonderful. Both my parents and my in-laws helped us with the fine details on the day to make it amazing such as having a small marquee to dance the night away in!

The views were amazing, the food was brilliant and all locally sourced from the farm ticking our environmental boxes, and it was intimate enough to make our wedding feel full and alive with our 40 guests.

Make sure it is perfect for the both of you, and this feeling will surround the whole day. Happiness is infectious, if you are happy your guests will be happy.

The Cake

It was the most incredible cake, lovingly made by my wonderful mother-in-law.

As I am lactose intolerant I was incredibly worried about the cost of getting a bespoke cake made. Oh, and add to this the fact that my husband or myself didn’t really love cake.

My mother-in-law stepped up here and made us the most wonderful and delicious cake using her homemade carrot cake recipe. It was something we both loved, and was a much better alternative than a £600 nine-tiered dessert that neither of us would eat again after the day!

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The Flowers 

Kudos again here to my mother-in-law, you will soon learn her creative talents are endless.

My husband and I love books. We lived for books. My ingenious mother in law made us bouquets out of books and roses so that we could keep them for years to come.

I was very unsure about spending thousands (yes you read that right, a lot of wedding flowers cost this much) on something that wouldn’t live long past the day.

Again, the message here, do what makes you happy.

The Invites

As we both work in digital, it seemed fitting that we designed the invites ourselves. Oh, and then we used the medium of the internet to deliver the invites. I know for a lot of people gorgeous posted cards are a necessity, but for us, just ensuring we had the people there on the day was the main aim. So we didn’t mind too much about how we invited them, just that they were there.

Oh and a bonus to this, almost instant RSVP’s. This I can assure you is a brides dream!

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The Photos

We are very fortunate to have two wonderful photographers in the family. Both Kevin and Ross lent us their expertise for the day and for this I will be forever grateful.

For us capturing the memories was one of the biggest priorities and so we were lucky to have two brilliant photographers on hand to help us do just this.

So, what does a minimalist wedding really mean?

Overall, the theme of this article is do what makes you happy. Your wedding day is a celebration of your commitment to each other. The people there should be happy to celebrate with you over a five-course meal, or a burger and fries. It is about the love, not the day.

We loved it that much we go back regularly on our anniversary to relive the memories:

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Back at the venue two years later

But if for you it is about the favours and limousines, do it, just make sure it is for the both of you, not to impress your guests. I love a big wedding, but only if the big wedding is there for the right reasons.

Oh and with the money you save, do more of what you love. For us, we went on a year of mini-honeymoons across Europe and furnished our flat with essentials.

Minimalist Insider : 25 Personal Things About Me

This year I will turn a quarter of a century old. I will be turning the same age as the first publically unveiled website and the SNES. It’s time for me to officially join Margot Robbie and Jennifer Lawrence in the 25 club.

As I wave goodbye to my early twenties, I realise that I have learned a lot in these years. One particularly important education has been the last two years in which I have started to live a more meaningful life. By becoming ‘minimalist’ I have got past the things that cause discontent, and can now focus on making room for more experiences, travel and freedom.

I am naturally a more introverted person, happiest at home with my cats and a book. However since I have discovered Instagram and began to blog I have become happier with sharing my life details in the hope that it will influence just one more person to remove the excess and live a meaningful life. So this is also part of the reason behind this post.

I am fortunate to have a lovely and modest group of followers who read, share and contribute to the articles on this site. However I feel like although you might know my personal style and what my main priorities and goals are, you don’t know much about the person behind the blog.

So for those who have reached out with more curious comments and questions, here are twenty five things about me to help you gain some insight into my personality:

  1. My favourite time of the day is the morning, 6am – 8am to be exact. I love to wake up, enjoy the quiet serenity of this time of day, and write, read and empty my mind.
  2. I read History at University, however I work and I for the foreseeable future hope to always work in Digital.
  3. My only sentimental items that I now keep are my wedding photo albums and a small memories chest.
  4. I’m left handed.
  5. My favourite smell in the entire world is Vanilla. However I use lavender spray on my pillow to help me sleep soundly.
  6. My favourite bands are Radiohead, The XX and Bon Iver, although I also love Hip Hop, Rock and Classical music. When I am at home relaxing my radio is always set to Classical FM.
  7. I try to eat clean and my favourite foods to cook at home are spicy noodles with beansprouts, spinach and plenty of greens. However I like to listen to my cravings sometimes and indulge in a Chinese takeout or Sea Salt Kettle Crisps.
  8. I love coffee, although I weirdly don’t seem to suffer when I don’t drink it for a week abroad. I also don’t rely on it to wake up in the morning.
  9. I have two long haired kittens, Arthur and Margot, who are both turning two this year.
  10. I love to read, and I usually get through around 100 books a year. I don’t have a favourite genre, so recommend anything to me.
  11. I am naturally a red head.
  12. My favourite place to travel to is Italy, I love the food, the wine and the history.
  13. If I am watching TV I tend to choose a documentary over a sitcom or drama. Anything Louis Theroux or part of the Unreported World series is an instant hit with me.
  14. Talking about watching media, my favourite director is Wes Anderson. I love his clean, minimal style and the handful of Actors he regularly casts.
  15. Spinach is amazing, I put it in around 4-5 meals a week.
  16. I need to work on my patience. I think it is my biggest personal weakness at the moment.
  17. Although I am happily settled in York at the moment, I have lived in many different places over the last five years including Birmingham, Nottingham, Scotland, Belgium and Scarborough. I often miss the feeling of not knowing where’s next now I have bought a house.
  18. I love writing, and blogging is my way of channeling this passion. However I don’t think I would ever be able to write a book.
  19. My favourite day of the year is Bonfire Night.
  20. I have a condition called Endometriosis. I also suffer from migraines however since meditating more I have had only one this year. I don’t know if it is because of this, but if it is, that’s amazing.
  21. I love to take photos, especially candid caught in the moment snaps of friends and family when they’re laughing, having a good time or adventuring in another city.
  22. I got married on the 22nd of November to my best friend.
  23. I am an accredited life coach.
  24. I always sleep on the right hand side of the bed, even when alone.
  25. I found it really hard to think of twenty five things to fill this list!

Define Your Personal Style: Build Your Key Look

I have worked hard to ensure that each and every piece in my wardrobe has been carefully curated and selected to reflect my own personal style. This guarantees that all my wearables have been purchased because I know I will be able to wear and enjoy them again and again, and because they serve a purpose.

My personal style can be defined as Vintage & Safe Neutrals. I like delicate neutral clothing, in more traditional and formal cuts, that often have a vintage feel about them. It might be the cut, fabric or the way I obtained it, but I personally love a retro inspired wardrobe.

I no longer collect drawers full of clothing that I bought on a whim, purchased because they were on sale, or have in case one day I might wear them again.

I now spend less time in the morning worrying and wasting time on deciding what to wear. I don’t feel uncomfortable in any of my outfits (I used to regularly panic about wearing a too bright colour, too tight dress or fuller skirts) because now I only buy clothes that I know suit my body shape.

By having a personal style, you are well on your way to having a minimalist wardrobe, as every item within there will have a function and have been purchased with thought and purpose, and be worn again and again.

To refine my personal style I followed a number of practices along a period of weeks, however that wasn’t the end of my journey. To this day I am still working to develop my look, tastes and clothing palette to ensure it is functional, fashionable but also still exciting and reflects my personality.

Each month I review the steps below to ensure that I have a well-defined style, and it is still meeting my needs.

Step One: Declutter

Follow the de-cluttering process as described in this previous post here. You want to begin in a good place, and therefore you need to avoid sorting through clothes that don’t have a place in your closet.

I know many people see minimalism as a process of removing and reducing to clear space, only to begin collecting again until you need to repeat the decluttering down the line. I see a minimalist wardrobe as a way of removing the waste once, and shopping smartly going forward to ensure that clutter never collects again.

Step Two: 11 piece wardrobe

Go into your closet, wardrobe or drawers and pick out your favourite eleven items that you wear regularly and can be easily mixed and matched. Lay them out on your bed or floor and take a photo of them.

I did this yesterday, as you can see here:

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For the next week, I want you to wear these items and these items only and whilst doing so fill out this free printable style defining matrix.

Define your personal style

I want you to ask yourself:

  • What do these items all have in common? Are they a similar fabric, shape or colour?
  • Are they practical and is this why you wear them so regularly?
  • How did you obtain these pieces? Were they investments or did you just happen across them and buy them almost instantaneously?

To fill out the matrix, enter what top fabrics, shapes, colours and brands feature in your 11 favourite items. If you can, think of some key adjectives to describe what you’ve gathered to wear for the week.

When you have filled out the matrix you should have some key components already for what your personal style should look like.

Step Three: Favourite Items

Now go into your wardrobe again and pick out your three favourite items. The only rules here is that you need to have worn the items in the last six months. You might have more sentimental pieces, but right now we are looking for key influencers for your personal trend.

  • Add to the bottom of the printable style defining matrix one reason why you love each item. Try to be specific. Is it the fit, the colour or the reason you own it?

Step Four: Put together your own defined personal style

From the above exercises, I want you to make a personal style chart (free printable at the bottom of the page) that sums up you own personal style. Use this sheet to capture your thoughts and influence future purchasing decisions. By only buying from these guidelines, your wardrobe will reflect what styles, shapes and colours suit you best.

This means that you no longer need to waste precious time and money on those instant gratification buys, and can instead invest your earnings into something that enriches your life. Even if fashion is the thing that makes you happy, make sure you are buying pieces you’ll regularly wear by buying according to your defined style guide.

Step Five: Create and collaborate

Using your defined style, you can now plan for future purchases and developments in your own personal look by creating inspirational idea boards. Top tip – Pinterest is great for this however if you are more hands-on and creative the old cut out of magazines and stick into a scrapbook method never gets old.

Step Six: Document your personal minimalist style

When you have finally been through all of the above steps, I am pretty certain you will have discovered some great trends about the clothes you love, suit and are practical for your day-to-day life.

Document these findings in this final personal style matrix, and keep a copy to refer to for your future shopping adventures. It might differ from your one above as you will include ideas from your inspiration boards and scrapbooks and your three favourite items.

My Personal Style

 

Minimalist Style: A week’s worth of clothes

I describe my wardrobe as minimalist because it is a capsule collection of styles, shapes and colours that are perfectly synced to the way I live my life. Everything in there serves a purpose, and I repeatedly wear the few but fantastic items I have collected over the years.

The key to living a minimalist way of life is to ensure each and everything thing you do or own adds value, experiences and contributes to your personal happiness. Everything I own enriches my life or makes me happy, including the items hidden behind my wardrobe doors and drawers.

Think twice when it comes to buying those new shoes on sale for that instant gratification rush, or rushing out in a mad frenzy to stock your wardrobes with clothes for your upcoming short break. Instead, spend your time carefully curating a wardrobe that reflects your personal style, and will be yours to wear and wear again.

This way, you can avoid the ‘I have nothing to wear and nothing suits me’ meltdown we have all experienced twenty minutes before we are due out of the door.

One big misconception when it comes to having a minimalist wardrobe is that it should be limited to very few items. My wardrobe has a great range of key staples that match my own personal style and body shape, whilst allowing me the flexibility to dress for any occasion and not look the same each and every day.

Key steps to minimising your wardrobe

I personally got my wardrobe to it’s current minimalist state by following five key steps. I will talk through the first one today, but I will be posting resources and posts over the next five days on how to tackle each of the following steps.

  1. Having a first initial declutter

If you are looking to minimise your wardrobe, it’s likely that you are doing so to reduce the amount of clutter your clothes are currently taking up in your home.

Before you begin to define your own personal look and work towards having less but loving your clothes more, you need to get rid of the clutter.

Take two boxes, and work through your closets (one draw at a time if they are a little overwhelming). Bin stained, frayed or damaged clothes and recycle or sell on anything you haven’t worn in a year or you’re really not keen on. Including that dress you’re keeping ‘just in case’ you lose/gain weight, it suddenly fits right, or you need it for that particular night out (we all have one!)

  1. Defining my personal style – view the post to guide you through this step by clicking the image below or this link here:

Define your personal style

  1. Addressing the needs of my day-to-day life – ensure your clothes are purchased with your lifestyle in mind.

Assess Functional Minimalist Wardrobe

  1. Retackling that declutter, with a personal style and objective in mind
  2. Build it back up with a minimalist mind

To show you how a wardrobe can be minimised but still be fashionable, functional and exciting, I have laid out my clothes for the next week.

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This includes:

  • A striped loose off-the-shoulder top
  • Pink knitted jumper
  • Grey long sleeved t-shirt
  • Black cropped t-shirt
  • Black halter neck jumper
  • Black jeans
  • Nike leggings
  • Cropped work out top
  • Black playsuit
  • Black dungaree dress
  • Nightdress
  • White shorts

Accessories:

  • Marc Jacobs silver earrings
  • Skagen Watch
  • Sunglasses
  • Glasses

Not pictured – a weeks worth of underwear and the turtle neck jumper (as I am currently writing this post in it!)

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I will be wearing these 11 items over the next seven days and you can follow my outfit updates over on my Instagram. This capsule collection will take me from work, to weekday dinners, workouts and weekend adventures and parties.

My personal style

I have curated these key pieces over a couple of years, and they have become regular wardrobe staples, as I have purchased them to align with my own personal style.

I have a main colour palette that I rarely stray from, because I know these colours work for me and additionally as I tend to purchase in similar tones, I can mix and match my clothes easily.

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I go for the same shapes – skinny jeans or cigarette trousers on the bottom, and plain delicate fabrics for my tops. I work in an office with a casual dress code and therefore my clothes tend to be less risqué as then I can wear my whole wardrobe both in and out of work.

I don’t suit high waists, full skirts, complex patterns or loose fitted trousers, so I steer clear of these.

By bearing all this in mind when shopping, I have managed to put together the perfect minimalist wardrobe in which each item enriches my life and makes me happy. No more instant buys, and therefore more money for doing the things that matter!

 

Dubrovnik Travel Guide

Dubrovnik Travel Guide: An Luxury City Retreat

The first thing you notice when you arrive in Dubrovnik’s old town are the colours. Turquoise blues of the Adriatic, and the rich orange of the stone buildings encased by the impressive city walls. You know instantly that you have happened upon somewhere unique, incredible and that you will never forget.

When to go

We travelled in June, and found that the timing was perfect. The temperature was ideal, the sea warm enough to swim and the crowds were manageable. I had previously read that late July through to the end of August should be avoided if possible as the prices increase and the tourist levels boom.

How to get there

We flew with British Airways from London for a return super saver price of just £40 each. I would wholly recommend BA for their comfortable cabins, complimentary refreshments onboard and great service. However you can also fly with many other operators from other parts of the UK for great prices.

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What to see

Inside the city walls, you will find a huge number of attractions lining the beautiful old town’s marble streets. Spend an hour after entering through either of the impressive arched gates wandering up and down the narrow alleys and stone steps taking in the hidden sights of the city.

I would wholly recommend the city walls walk. From the top of this towering fortification you can leisurely wander for two to three hours, and take in incredible views of the historic city from above. Stop a third of the way round at the bar at the north of the walk for a drink and to take in the views of the local ‘cursed’ island of Lokrum and the never-ending azure blue sea.

Top Tip: You can get a really great value ‘3-day city pass’ from the tourist information offices which costs just 200 kuna (around £21) and this includes the wall tour, entrance to eight historical sites in the walls including the cultural palace and 10 bus rides.

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Within the city there are many museums, restaurants and shopping opportunities to please all manner of tourists no matter what their itinerary. When your feet are aching from all the exploring, take a break in the cliff-side Buza Bar, and enjoy a cold beer before using the opportunity and perfect location to launch yourself into the Adriatic from the white stone cliffs.

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Jumping off the Buza Bar cliffs

Beaches and bars

Outside of the city, take the number 6 bus to the beaches of Babin Kuk. Here sun-seekers and those wanting hours of relaxation will not be disappointed.

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Coral Beach Club

We personally enjoyed the delights of the incredible Coral Beach Club for three days during our trip, and I would really recommend it to anyone visiting Dubrovnik. The staff are warm and welcoming, the loungers in the bar area are soft, luxurious and free for paying guests, and the drinks are reasonable (around £2.50 for a large beer). You can easily spend hours here sipping on local cocktails and slowly eating your way through their delicious seafood menu. It also is a blue flag beach meaning you can break up the heat with a dip into the shimmering waters. If you visit the city, you must go and spend some sun seeking hours here.

At night, start your evening off right with a visit to Cave Bar More, a hidden gem accessed by walking along the cliff coastline on the West of Babin Kuk. This bar has a fantastic outside terrace, and inside the cave bar really does not disappoint. The stalagmites shimmer from the dotted spotlights in the ceiling of the cave, and you can enjoy a fresh cocktail whilst stood on a glass floor looking right down into the deep caverns. Plus, considering the views and location, the prices are remarkably reasonable.

Finally, escape from the slightly inflated prices of Dubrovnik, in comparison to the rest of Croatia, by enjoying a cool glass of wine at the Orsan Yacht Club on the East coast of Babin Kuk overlooking one of the larger ports in Dubrovnik. This white tabled gem of a find is reasonable, serves some of the best foods in the city and is a quiet hidden spot to retreat to on your evenings.

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Dubrovnik is a fantastic location for historic sights, pristine beaches and delicious food all enjoyed best under the warm summer sun. Visit now and I promise it will be magical.

A Minimal Millennial – Six Ways to Live With Less

I have spent the last 18 months simplifying my life. As a result, I have been enjoying my experiences, my lifestyle and my choices way more.

As a young twenty something, I find more and more that I am surrounded by the need for ‘more’. More success in the workplace, more technology to help me with my everyday activities, more clothes to make me look better, more to show on social media, and the list goes on.

I found that by forever looking at what I could be doing, and not focusing on the great things I was doing, I became blind to the enjoyment I got with achievements, purchases and adventures. The thing was, it was never enough. I was always comparing it to someone else’s greater achievements and purchases on social media, in real life and on the television.

It was only when I moved house for the third time in the same amount of years, once again hauling boxes and boxes of things up and down stairs, that I started to think about what I was collecting. Why was I spending so much money on things, and missing out on the important experiences I could be having whilst I was still young.

I set about simplifying my life in six different areas, and I felt balanced and happier within a few short weeks. You can easily do this too, and start focusing your attention on what is important once again.

  1. Material Possessions.

I realised that if I was really going to minimise my life successfully, I would need to start by decluttering my home. I didn’t go crazy and start binning items left right and centre (though I was tempted). Instead, I did it in several easy steps.

  • Firstly, I did a tour of the house with three boxes. Bin, Charity and Rehome. Anything I hadn’t used in over a year, that didn’t have sentimental value, had to go into one of these boxes. I will admit I kept quite a bit at this stage as I still had the ‘but what if I need it to do x, y and z mind set’.
  • I waited two weeks before doing it again, and this time I tried to be a little stronger. Did I really need copies of the last two years’ of Vogue magazines? Yes I might have flicked through them now and then, but was it really something I couldn’t find online if I needed to?
  • Next, I tackled the wardrobe. Goodbye old holey leggings that I kept ‘in case’ I did any decorating. You will soon notice a theme here. At this point, I removed everything I hadn’t worn in a year (aside from my couple of ball gowns and wedding dress) and set a reminder to come back and have another look a few months down the line.
  • Kitchen items. I had so many needless utensils, plates and measuring spoons. Boxed up and given to a charity store.
  • I now go back one a month, just to check, do I really need all of this?

If you take the time over a few months to declutter your home, you will really feel the benefit of living in a fuss free environment. It will also free up your purse strings as you stop buying the extra pieces of home clutter that you really don’t need. You just want.

I now have the spare finances to travel more, something that has always been really important to me. More memories, less materialism. It seems like a fair trade off to me.

Less things, more money and time to travel.

Less things, more money and time to travel – Sardinia, 2015.

  1. Diet

I am not saying that I have the best diet in the world, I am all too aware that I am easily swayed by the temptation of a Chinese takeaway on a Friday. One thing I can say though is that I have minimised my consumption of overly processed foods compared to what I used to eat, and the results have been great.

I live by a few simple rules.

  • Less dairy (being Lactose intolerant certainly helps here) however I have encouraged my husband to do the same, and he has noticed some great benefits.
  • As little sugar as possible. Avoiding this sweet additive is hard, but if you need any encouragement as to why you should, I would fully recommend watching Jamie Oliver’s recent documentary.
  • Go green. More cabbage, more kale. Got to love the green veggies.
  • Ditch the packaged products as much as possible. I find that however good they may taste at the time, they make you feel worse for days after. Put in that little extra effort to eat something homemade.

By minimising your intake of processed foods and sugars, you will notice an improved energy level and that you are healthier and happier overall. Try just cutting out one item today, and going from there.

  1. Time for you

Mornings are, and have always been, my favourite part of the day. I find that it is incredibly important to have some time in the morning to do something that matters to me. This is why I have a morning routine that I quite firmly stick to. This way, every day, I know no matter what happens after I have left the house, I know I have achieved something important to me.

I always try to fit in Yoga before I leave the house. It is a time to reflect, exercise and meditate. My husband wakes up even earlier and dedicates his time to writing and digital art. He never used to be a morning person, now he feels that it is his most productive time in the day.

Write down three things that would make your morning better, and start doing them each day. Give yourself that extra hour to focus some time on you. You deserve it.

  1. Pressure

In 2015, people are feeling more under pressure than ever before. Speak to people around you today, I can assure you that at least 50% of them are feeling pressured or stressed in some way.

Firstly, give those stressed people an ear and listen to them and their worries. Then secondly, assess how you are going to escape the ever growing pressure that you face on a daily basis.

I used to feel stressed about a whole range of things. Why do I not look like the women on the covers of Vogue.

Why am I driving this car when ‘x’ over there has a newer shiner model, am I supposed to have that car too?

Why haven’t I been promoted yet. Why don’t I look like that in a bikini. When will I travel there.

When I started to live more minimally, I began to realise that I didn’t care about having the newest material item, I just wanted others to know I had it. I put a stop to wanting something to alleviate pressures I was constructing in my own mind.

I came to realise, that although people may judge me on a day to day basis, they spend more time worrying about their own problems and pressures to give much thought to mine. I decided that I was no longer going to do anything that I felt I ‘needed’ to do to be achieving, but only things I wanted to do.

Yes, I still feel pressured on a daily basis when I see a Instagram photo of a girl in a gorgeous dress, and yes you can’t help but compare .However now I take a minute to take myself away from that feeling and remember what matters to me. £500 on that gorgeous dress so I can wear it and Instagram it too, or £500 travelling and making new memories? The choice is easy.

Nowadays, I feel that my life is more perfect even though I have less. And that’s the beauty of living without pressures.

  1. Work

This topic leads on from the above, as really these days we all feel so ‘pressured’ to do well at work and in the office, we lose sight of what really matters to us.

I have found it important to bear one phrase in mind when it comes to work.

‘If it is causing you distress or to be unhappy, it’s not worth it’

There are too many people in their early twenties, clinging on to jobs that make them miserable because they think there’s no other option. Don’t get yourself stuck in a rut so early on in life.

I love my job, and I think that this helps me feel positive on a daily basis. You should love your job too.

If we are spending eight or more hours a day doing something that makes us miserable or stressed, we are causing damage to our wellbeing. Put in the extra effort now to be where you want to be, and you will see an impact on your life and wellbeing almost instantly.

Do a job you love to go to everyday.

Do a job you love to go to everyday.

  1. Relationships

Take ten minutes to have a good look at the people in your life. Then do these simple things to minimise the influence of negative people around you.

  1. Go through your social media feeds, and remove anyone you are keeping there ‘because you think you should’. Life is too short for this.
  2. Categorise the people in your life into three areas. The good, the bad and the neutral. Spend most of your time with the good and build on meaningful relationships with these. The bad, don’t dwell on them, and don’t focus your energies on thinking about them.

We spend far too much time worrying about what others think to focus on what we are thinking. Care less to experience more.

Let me know if you make any of these changes and the impact they have on you. Start putting yourself first today!

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Zadar: Boutique City Break on a Budget

The medieval port of Zadar has everything you would want from a short European city break. Rich in history and relatively undiscovered by tourists compared to Croatian current hot spots such as Dubrovnik and Hvar, the marble city of Zadar is a northern gem.

There are several beaches close to the historic city centre, and plenty of sites to see including the Roman Forum, Byzantine churches and nightclubs sprawled across impressive parks hidden amongst the ancient ruins.

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Iceland: A Magical Wilderness. Top Tips For Travellers.

A magical combination of glaciers, geysers and volcanos make Iceland a truly unique landscape. A place where you can experience the joys of wilderness, the warmth of the locals and the true power of earth and Mother Nature.

It is the stark juxtaposition of the fire from the volcanos and ice from the glaciers that give Iceland its staggering landscape and distinctive opportunities for experiences like no other for tourists. In just a day you can soak in a geothermal lagoon, walk on lava fields and black sand beaches, stand atop ice-covered volcanos and under ice cold waterfalls, and take in the sparce and captivating glaciers.

Iceland has more than 125 volcanic mountains, of which many are still active. This knowledge that you are standing atop a thermal hot spot, where nature is at its most unpredictable, is very humbling.

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This breathtaking country, which rests just on the edge of the Arctic Circle, is a top destination for visitors across the globe at the moment. Most people, like us, fly into the Keflavik Airport which is around a fifty minute drive from the capital city, Reykjavik.

The city of Reykjavik is a modern and lively hub of colourful architecture, trendy bars, minimalist design and incredibly friendly people. It’s a small capital compared to many of its European neighbours, however for what it lacks in size it certainly makes up for in culture.

You can easily experience all that Reykjavik has to offer in a day, and then use the city as a base to return to after your days out in the vast interior wilderness of the island. Sample local cuisine such as whale, shark and warming soups, and try some of the locally brewed craft-beers.

Three places worth a visit for dinner that we personally loved would be the chic Café Paris, the Frederiksen Ale House, especially for their local cuisine, and the incredible and edgy Hamborgarabulla for reasonably priced meat or vegan burgers.

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Getting out on the road and exploring is key to having an incredible and memorable experience in the country with the world’s most northern capital city.

You can hire a car and drive around, or book on one of the many daily tours offered and led by locals. We chose the latter because Iceland is notorious for being unpredictable with the weather. Many roads get closed due to incredibly strong winds, and the ice-topped landscape is often best left to experts to navigate.

Visit the southern coast of Iceland and drive past lava fields, ice-topped volcanos and impressive mountain ranges as you journey towards the must-see black sand beaches at Vik. Stand under the many waterfalls running down between the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull ice caps. A personal favourite had to be Skogafoss. You can experience the power of it and witness the incredible rainbows forming around it on a sunny bright day. Be prepared to get very wet though if you want to walk right up to it. To the right of the waterfall is a set of steps leading up to an observation platform, and it’s also a place where many people chose to begin a day long hike, after a night camping under the stars into the mountain ranges and many more waterfalls located above.

A hot-spring visit is a must, and there’s many to choose from across the country. Obviously the most famous and primary choice is the Blue Lagoon. Float around warm and misty waters, visit the swim up bars and mask-treatment huts, and experience true relaxation in the strikingly blue waters.

However if you fancy something a little less ‘touristy’ you could always visit the more remote, ‘secret lagoon’ where at night you may even witness the Northern Lights.

The golden circle is a top visit for most tourists in Iceland. Take in the iconic Gullfoss waterfall, and visit a rift where two tectonic plates meet.

Overall, there’s so much to see, do and experience in this country where nature really does rule supreme.

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Top Tips For Iceland

Iceland is an expensive country to visit. Make sure you have budgeted properly to get the most out of your visit. You can do certain things to help keep the costs down. Book your tours in advance, pack light snacks to eat on your treks and hikes rather than buying out there, and visit the less touristy hot spots. Happy hours run in most bars between 4-6pm, making your beer cost a much more reasonable £5 a pint rather than the standard £10.

Book your Iceland adventures in advance

Airport transfers, the Blue Lagoon and tours get filled up quickly. Make sure you book in advance, with the Blue Lagoon its mandatory, to avoid getting stung with expensive airport taxi transfers because the buses are full.

Shuttle bus about Reykjavik

We didn’t realise but there’s lots of great free shuttle buses to help you adventure around the capital. Especially if you are heading out to the Perlan museum right on the edge of the town. They stop at most of the numbered main stops around the centre.

Decide on when is best to visit Iceland

June to August is high season, and prices increase during this period. Many people come to experience the great outdoors, slightly warmer weather and the midnight sun phenomenon.

May is good for fewer crowds and better prices, however the weather is still quite temperamental. Expect anything from snow showers to sunny days and pack accordingly.

The winter is good for snow-sports, magical winter sights and possible Northern Light viewing opportunities, however the weather may mean that roads are closed, and travelling around becomes difficult if not impossible.

Dress appropriately

Take stock of your activities and the time of year you are visiting, and pack accordingly. Good walking boots, a water and wind proof jacket and gloves are essential. The weather can change instantly, so many wearing many layers is your best option.

Seek out the locals

Iceland has a thriving artistic culture, and we were fortunate to experience many elements of this on our trip. From listening to a musician play and sing in her own home, to watching people DJ late into the night, or knit the famous Icelandic woollen clothing, try and immersive yourself among some of the world’s most cultural and creative people!

Expect the unexpected

Iceland is a country like no other, pack your guide books and camera, and prepare to be astonished by the true natural wonder of this small island.

Why I Am Trying To Make My Instagram More Personal

Instagram has recently been ranked as the worst social media platform for well-being and positive mental health. Users stated that although the tool was fantastic for self-expression and creativeness, it also evoked high levels of anxiety and negative feelings. One main reason? FOMO – fear of missing out.

I think we are all guilty of only posting the positive. Sharing pictures where we look good, adding filters to hide the flaws and only uploading when we’ve been doing something particularly interesting. And why not? Our feed is something we curate. Something we want to look back on and feel good about the memories. We want to share with the world the good that is going on in our lives.

Personally it’s my favourite social media platform, however I too have to admit I am also the first to get pangs of insta-envy when I see good food, good travel or good experiences on a feed when I am sat in bed in my pyjamas.

I love that you can share updates with nothing more needed than a quick snap. A collection of your life through the eye of a lens over the many years. Like they say, a picture speaks a thousand words.

Which is why in a way I love the new stories option. I am also a big fan of these new Instagram story templates that keep popping up on my feed. I think they add a personal touch and insight into the lives of the people behind our photos.

It brings a little more reality, humanity and personalisation into a platform of perfection. People share a lot more ‘real-life’ on stories because it lasts just 24 hours. It’s erasable.

So in the spirit of being a little more ‘real-life’ and authentic, I am taking a break from posting about dream travel destinations and minimalistic lives to share some insights into the person behind the blog (also inspired by the great feedback from my insta-poll last week).

I am going to use one of the new stories templates I have created and you can save for use on your own platforms as a prompt.

Which do you prefer_

My Answers

Definitely a morning person – I can’t usually stay awake past 10pm most evenings. I am usually tucked up with a lemon and ginger tea and a book by 9pm.

Savoury always

Staying in – I love to explore, but nothing beats a good night in. I’d rather a home cooked meal, a good book and a glass of red wine over a night in a fancy bar any day.

Read a book – Nothing beats a good book. The smell of a newly opened novel. The way you just lose yourself in an alternate universe.

Coffee – A self-confessed addict here. Also, it’s pretty difficult living in Yorkshire and not liking a standard cup of tea. I get a lot of odd looks when I state tea is not for me.

Winter – I love, love, love the warmth of the sun and the goodness that vitamin D does to our minds and body, but nothing beats a cosy winter feeling. Roaring fires, good food and jumpers galore. I’ll take a cold snowy night in over a summer BBQ any day.

Bath – Heaven in a tub. No further explanation needed.

Wine – Although don’t get me wrong, I love a good refreshing cold beer too.

Organised – If you get to know me well, you will learn I am frustratingly organised (and maybe a little bit of a control freak because of it). The true mother hen of the group, the designated passport holder, the one booking airport transfers and ordering birthday experiences nine months in advance. I love a good list, plan, rota and don’t get me started on itineraries.

Hopefully this has given you some insight to the person behind the blog. Is this a good format? Should I do the same for the story templates below?

Click to open and save yours to your phone, and upload to Instagram to make it more of an authentic, human behind the photos, place to scroll.

5 Ways Living More Minimally Could Improve Your Life

Everyone has their own reasons why their life just seems to be getting busier. Work could be really frantic for you right now, organising your summer vacation is taking its toll, or just everyday life, housework and socialising has you being pulled from all angles.

The reality is for all of us is that life is getting louder, more stressful and harder to switch off from. We are exposed to 5000 advertisements and messages on an average day, spend over eight hours staring at a screen, and thanks to the internet we now receive five times as much information a day as we did in the 1980’s.

Whatever the reason you are feeling overwhelmed, the likelihood is that you’d really appreciate the opportunity to take life at a slower, less hectic pace.

The good news is there’s a few simple steps you can take in order to take back control.

Try and adopt a few principles from a minimalist outlook and way of living today, in order to help bring back some calm and order and help you feel happier and more relaxed.

One: Declutter Your Home

The average UK household now owns around £35,000 worth of ‘stuff’. Our houses are getting smaller, and nine out of ten homes store extra belongings in the garage or loft as they just don’t have enough room in the house for them.

We clearly on average have more stuff that we will ever need, wear or use, and studies have shown that holding on to this stuff just isn’t good for us.

It means we feel stressed and often anxious about the lack of space we have to share with our multiplying possessions. We end up spending hours weekly cleaning under books, shelves, ornaments and throws.

One quick easy minimalist fix? Get rid of the clutter and noise.

Take two boxes, and tackle one room, cupboard or drawer at a time. Put things to donate in one box, things to recycle in another, and things you are happy to keep back in their location.

Three rules. Don’t keep anything ‘just in case’, don’t keep anything broken or damaged, and don’t keep anything just because you think you should. Try and be ruthless with yourself.

It can be hard to start with, but very quickly you will begin to see and feel the benefits. Less time cleaning, less time maintaining, less stress of sharing living space with clutter you’ve not touched in five years.

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Two: Detox Digitally

The average Brit now spends nearly four hours a day on their phone or a mobile device, checking it upwards of 28 times a day. It’s also the first thing we check in the morning, and last thing we read at night for most of the population.

Considering that we are all so busy, we seem to have an awful lot of time for notifications, alerts and breaking stories that pop up on our display screens throughout the day.

A quick digital detox can do wonders for boosting happiness, sleep quality and concentration levels.

Today, try three things to minimise your digital dependency.

  1. Turn off non-essential notifications. You don’t need to be told each time someone likes your Facebook status.
  2. Download an app such as Moment, to track your daily phone usage. Honestly, as soon as you see that you personally have spent four hours a day on your phone, your habits quickly change. Think what else you could be doing with the time.
  3. Don’t charge your phone in your bedroom. Leave it downstairs before you head to bed at night. Breaks the cycle of before bed scrolling.

Three: Want Less

If I asked you to think of two to three material items on your wish list right now, which you think would make your life a little bit better for one reason or another, could you?

A luxury watch, a designer handbag, a new television perhaps?

Now think how or why you think they’d enrich your life.

That new designer watch. Thinking honestly, what makes it different from a well-crafted non-luxury timepiece? It’s the branding. The lifestyle associations which come alongside it.

A bigger television. Is it to enjoy your films in better quality, or just because when it comes to TV’s, we’ve been repeatedly told bigger is better?

A luxury branded handbag. Probably as well-made as a hand stitched leather bag you could find for a third of the price. However they come without the logo. So how would people know that you’ve got THE coveted bag of the season if it’s non-recognisable?

I have been guilty of this thinking. If we’re being honest, you may have been too.

However if we started to see material goods for what they really are. Tools to help us in our daily activities. Things. Stuff. We stop coveting them all so much.

It has been proven time and time again that buying a better version of something we already have doesn’t provide us with lasting happiness. Instead, we get a quick adrenaline rush and then were on to coveting the next item on our wishlist. Spend your money on experiences rather than things, and feel that stress of wanting more slowly dwindle.

Four: Stop Saying You’re Busy

Being busy, and leading a hectic life that is filled to the brim, has become the new normal. Our society seems to measure people more and more on their productivity and output. We are expected to manage hundreds of emails, whilst making time to exercise, pampering and pruning ourselves and yet still preparing for several meetings a day, and then be sociable in the evenings, oh and don’t forget you need to tweet all about this throughout the day so everyone is aware of how much you are really doing. Even typing all of that was exhausting.

Well guess what? It’s okay to not be busy. It’s acceptable to say no. It is perfectly fine to prioritise what will make a difference to your day than doing the hundreds of little tasks ‘just because’.

If we stop using ‘busy’ as a measure of success, and cut down on the daily unnecessary noise (checking our phones 28 times, or polishing all of our household clutter twice a week) we will start to find more time for the things that make us truly happy.

Five: Know Your Priorities

Every time I feel life is getting a little too cluttered and busy, I take a step back and realise I am prioritising day to day menial tasks over experiences and opportunities.

One way to enrich your life is to write down the five things that matter most to you, and then think about how much time you have spent today on things that you cherish.

It’s a tactic a lot of minimalists use to make sure they are putting their energy into what really matters to them.

Make sure that where possible, you are investing your time on your top priorities. It may be your health, family, work or sports. Either way, you only get that time once, so use it wisely.

Overall, if you make just one of these small changes, you will hopefully feel that you are living a simpler, less chaotic and happier life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Camping – Top Tips For Just Switching Off

When you’re looking for picturesque views, ultimate peace and quiet and a chance to really get away and escape, not much can beat camping in the great outdoors.

Everyone has their own reasons why they love camping, and it’s no surprise that the popularity of this fuss-free getaway just keeps on growing.

Life is getting louder, more stressful and harder to switch off from, it’s a fact. We are exposed to 5000 advertisements and messages on an average day, spend over eight hours on staring at a screen, and thanks to the internet we now receive five times as much information a day as we did in the 1980’s. 

So no wonder people are turning back to basics, and seeking the peaceful respite that camping can provide. Especially if there’s no phone signal at your chosen destination.

This is the main reason we love to get away, pop up a tent and talk the hours away under the open skies. Now I wouldn’t say we are camping experts. I certainly have many more pitches and tents to erect before I could claim that title. However we have been on a fair few trips, and we are starting to feel that we have got the basics down when it comes to having a perfect outdoors break.

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So below I will share my easy camping tips. For those who are more seasoned outdoor sleepers, please share your advice in the comments below, it will be great to hear your insights.

Book a great campsite

There are thousands of campsites across the U.K, so you will be truly spoilt for choice when it comes to immersing yourself in nature for some much needed R&R. Personally, my favourite places to pitch up are in the Scottish Loch Lomond area, Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and the Yorkshire Coast. Being by the lake or the sea is a top priority when I am looking for a destination, especially if I can open up my tent in the morning and see right out over the coast whilst still toasty in my duvet.

I love the site www.pitchup.com for instant booking of tent pitches, camping pods and much more. We use it when we are booking a last minute getaway and need quick sight of visibility rather than ringing around a lot of destinations. Plus, they have loads of reviews, so you can quickly see if the site is right for you.

Arrive Early

Get to your site with enough time to put up your tent, and discover where the bathrooms, showers and water points are whilst it’s still light. It’s fully possible to do it all in the dark via torchlight, but it makes for a much more relaxing stay if you can get yourself set up in the daytime.

Practice at home first

We have all been there. Whether it’s a tent, flat pack furniture or a new recipe. Following instructions for the first time is never easy. Prepare yourself for putting up your tent by making sure you have practiced at least once at home first. You will be really grateful, especially if the weather isn’t pleasant and you want to get it up as quickly as possible!

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Invest in your kit

Good quality camping gear can make or break a trip. Invest in the core pieces which really matter. A good tent, quality camp chairs, a robust airbed and stove or portable BBQ. There’s nothing worse than getting to a dream weekend away and the tent collapsing, airbed deflating or BBQ breaking (I have experienced the two former, and only thanks to Duct Tape did we get through the stay!) Oh, on that note, duct tape fixes a lot of camping issues – so have some in your bag.

Pop-up tents can be brilliant for dry one-night stays, we often use it if we are away for half a day, but I wouldn’t advise you use it for wet weather or longer breaks.

Side note – before you do invest in all the above however, maybe lend the kit from a friend first to try out if camping is for you.

Camping doesn’t have to mean being uncomfortable

Take what you need with you to make yourself comfortable and relaxed on your trip. We always pack:

  • A good quality airbed
  • Picnic blanket and groundmat to go under it – double dry
  • Portable toilet (when the night-time walks for the bathroom blocks are too far)
  • Extra throws to go on top of the airbed (most heat is lost from the cold ground below you)
  • Camp chairs
  • An actual duvet on warm nights (much cosier than a sleeping bag)
  • Portable speaker
  • Whistling kettle (got to get the morning coffee in!)

Prepare your entertainment

Quite often, relaxing under the stars is enough, however it’s always great to have some cards, and travel board games that you can play as the night winds down and the sun is still in the sky.

Deet is your best friend

Like I have written many times before, Deet is one of my top ten must-have items when travelling. Midges and camping go hand in hand. Firepits and citronella spray can also help.

Plan for rain

You’re going to sleep outdoors, in the UK. There’s a high possibility of rain. By being prepared, it makes it a whole lot easier. Take clothes that dry quickly, keep wellies on standby, and an umbrella for cooking in the drizzle.

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Take the right essentials

I always think the key to a good camping trip is solid preparation. I don’t go without the following little extras as essentials:

  • Spare plastic bags for wet clothes, rubbish, and much more
  • Wet wipes
  • Deet
  • Bottle opener (or better yet, a multi-tool knife)
  • First aid kit
  • Spare tent pegs
  • Duct Tape
  • A water container to refill on site
  • Torch and batteries
  • A charging powerbank (for loading up your phone for a map to get home the next day)

Camping is fun with friends

Camping can be romantic, but also a great social activity with a great group of friends. Stories round the campfire, slightly warm wine and roasting marshmellows make for a great group weekend away.

Book a site and get people on board for a new take on group holidays.

What is your top camping advice? Do you have any brilliant sites we should check out? Comment below and I will share in the next blog.

 

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What’s On My Travel Bucket List?

I am not one for setting too many hard goals when it comes to travel. I believe that if you set a goal to visit five places in a year and only manage four, you will feel like you have failed, when in reality you will have enjoyed four incredible adventures.

I do however have a travel ‘bucket list’ of places that I would love to visit before I am thirty-something. Why this age? Because I think these are the places I would love to explore in my youth with my husband that we may not be able to get to as easily if we ever decided to start a family or invest in bigger financial commitments.

People regularly ask us where we are thinking about heading next when it comes to our adventures. Honestly, until recently, I felt a little apprehensive about sharing our bucket list. I think it’s because we have had it for years, but also because I feel that by sharing, people will expect to see us visit the below places in the coming years. Especially as we often book trips outside of this list, because we spot a good deal or just like the look of somewhere.

I also feel that bucket lists can be really personal, and often people may be shocked at your choices of places to visit because they don’t meet with their own expectations and dreams.

However the question keeps on coming, and I think that’s because I share so much other content relating to travel. So here it is, the Weir Travel Bucket List for the next five-ish years…

Note: The places highlighted as visited are places we have been together rather than individually.

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Out of all the traveled places we have been to so far, my top three would have to be Cuba, Amalfi Coast and San Francisco.

If you want to download a blank copy and check it off or use it yourself, click here to download and then print. I would love to hear where you think we are missing, or how many on our list you have checked off, or top tips for the places we have yet to adventure to!