The Daily Edit.

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A happy and lighthearted post today!

My weekend started yesterday, and the brief time off from working three weeks’ straight without a day off has been just what the doctor ordered. These are a few of my favourite things at the moment – a beautiful saffiano leather monogrammed notebook from The Daily Edited, my new business cards which I’m so proud of because I’m painfully hopeless at things like that, a little luxury via La Mer (more on this soon…) and a classic silk shirt.

Speaking of, I’ve added some Everlane silk to my stall at tomorrow’s @many6160‘s blogger market. If you’re in Perth, come by and say hi – you’ll find racks of Lover, Scanlan, Karen Walker, Alexander Wang shoes & bags, Acne, Celine, Givenchy & tons of high street bargains! Basically half my closet as we’re moving house in five weeks . It’s cash only but I may also accept instant bank deposit if you’re with CBA & use the iPhone app. Doors open 10am. First in, best dressed!

The French Girl Effect.

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I know things have gotten a little quiet around here.

And maybe a little stale.

I guess I’m missing the old me. And in some ways, my old life. Weekends spent just the way I like them to, instead of making friends with shadows on the wall on a lonely Sunday afternoon, with the screen of my laptop staring back at me. Talking about my day without worrying if it’s ”on-brand” (yes, that brand thing). Knowing what I want to do with my life, instead of worrying about what tomorrow will hold. And most of all, coming home from a long day at work and falling into bed without feeling an ounce of guilt about it.

They say doing what you love is a great to earn 30K a year, and it couldn’t be further from my truth. When this blog suddenly became a means to put food on the table and a roof over my head (I’m still not letting my husband pay my bills), I think my passion for it died along the way. Because when you’re working until 3am in your Paris hotel room, it’s hard to love your job.

In all honesty, I could see it coming. My husband keeps reminding me why I chose this path. But when it hits you like a bus, it gets hard to dust yourself off and keep moving. I’ve spent the past few weeks in a state of there’s-more-to-life-than-taking-photos-of-myself. Because right now, I’m grappling between setting the world on fire without sending this blog up in flames. I gotta keep moving. Keep hustling. Stay humble.

Or, I could go just buy a burger after this.

Photographs by me.

It’s always the next dream.

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For weeks now, I’ve been thinking about penning a “Career lessons I learnt in my 20s” kind of post. It just seemed more purposeful than telling you what I’ve been wearing lately (which, by the way, can only be described as a heavy rotation of stretchy leggings and a tank top with holes in it).

I would never usually do this, but since my thoughts truly capture the spirit and cornerstone of the aforementioned post, I thought I’d share my reply to a comment I recently received from a reader that stopped me in my tracks tonight.

Michelle,

When a young woman has the opportunity to get a University education do you think that writing a blog at the end of all that effort and work would inspire them to bother [if] you were in the position of advising/mentoring a teenager now? It is disheartening that those who have been granted intelligence in life do not take full advantage of what has been given to them. Would your husband be satisfied, I wonder, to only write a blog on Pharmacy after he completed his education and gained his qualifications? You could do SO much more than this!

- J.J.

 

Wait. What? You mean there’s more to life than taking photos of yourself? There are more meaningful things to do in life than Instagram what I’m eating for breakfast? There are actually more intelligent things to write about than the nine types of shoes every girl needs in her wardrobe? Damn. I actually thought I was onto a good thing here with my glorified sweatpants and my Rockstuds…

J.J., whilst I can kind of see the thinly disguised point you’re trying to make, consider this: Mark Zuckerberg is a Harvard dropout. Forbes compiled a list that encompasses self-made billionaires who never bothered to get a uni degree. The late Steve Jobs – also a dropout but better known as an inventor – who singlehandedly replaced compact cameras with an iPhone. He did this with little more than a fervent entrepreneurial spirit and his parents’ garage, no less. Heck, Einstein barely finished high school before his balls could drop. And I think he turned out just fine.

My point is, “Intelligence” doesn’t always come neatly packaged up as 200gsm ivory parchment paper affixed with a crimson wax seal.

An oft-glorified university degree is not the be-all and end-all.

Nor should it validate one’s intelligence.

I also kind of think it’s insulting, judgmental, short-sighted, snide, and rude to make an unapologetic mockery of what people (university-qualified or not) choose to do for a living, whether it’s blogging or bookkeeping.

I am the first to admit that a Bachelors’ degree has its place and its value in an ever-increasing competitive job market. But I’m also one of few to admit that so can a blog: something that says to all the smug, social media-phobic Baby Boomers out there: “Rather than spend my free time channel surfing on the couch, I’m building a website and getting my name and my work out there because – to be perfectly frank with you – a uni degree will only take me so far”.

I think, first and foremost, it’s so important to consider that everyone (“writing a blog” or not) lives a life with differing priorities, goals, and pathways as to how to get to where they want to be.

And let’s be real here; we can’t all be the next Amal Alamuddin (sorry, Clooney). Last time I heard, there are more graduates then there are jobs. So what can us mere mortals do?

Stand out from the masses of black mortarboards and take your qualifications further – do as I have done and use a blog as a means to build your personal brand online; to showcase your work; as an “online CV” to give future employers a reason to recruit you, as if to say, “Hey, I can be good at something other than my day job, too, you know.”

When I landed my first “real” marketing role eight months after graduating with a degree in Finance and Marketing (back before Facebook even existed), I will freely admit it were my formal qualifications and a handful of work experience that got my foot in the door. No doubt about it. But it has been this very blog that has given the edge. This blog led me to co-write two published books (one of which has gone on to receive an international award); I currently have the honour of contributing to Vogue.com.au. This blog is the very reason I’m currently spending my days as a part-time freelance marketing strategist. And it has given me the absolute privilege of presenting training workshops, which in turn, gives me a chance to inspire people to make a positive difference in their lives.

And you know what else a HELP debt and Commerce degree hasn’t bought me? #friendsforlife.

In other words, I blog to help get me to where I really want to be – to build a meaningful, gainful, and purposeful future when I eventually do “retire” from the blogosphere (I’m not so naive as to think my blog – and potentially every other blog out there – doesn’t have an expiry date). So whether I’m blogging to help me establish a small business, engage new clients and employers, embark on a new career, or to simply meet new people; is that such a disheartening thing? In my humble opinion, that is the epitome of taking full advantage of what life has thrown at me.

But I can only speak for myself. Fact is, I don’t blog full-time. I spend 90% of my life off the interwebz.

So in light of my version of War and Peace in reply to your comment, what’s my advice to the next generation?

Everyone has his or her own story. But it’s no one else’s business as to how they choose to write it.

Here comes the sun.

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This weekend has been all crisp, fresh sheets, window sill light, and things I’m looking forward to wearing this summer.

1. A pair of worn-in vintage 501s

2. A crisp white carry-all tote

3. Creased button-down shirts

4. Summer slides

5. A new wardrobe hero

If you happen to be in Perth later this month, my friend S from Hello Parry and I will be doing a spring clean and setting up shop at Many 6160′s Blogger Market on Saturday 25th October. There will be a treasure trove of things from our own personal (and overflowing) wardrobes including Celine, Alexander Wang, Givenchy bags and shoes. I’m moving back into mum and dad’s soon (another story for another day – my husband’s coming with me, in case you were wondering) so I’m hoping to find a lot of my clothes, shoes, and bags lovely new homes! Save the date and see you there!

Photographs by me.

Travel Tips & Tricks: Part 3

I have to admit, I’ve spent at least two or three weeks writing this, mostly out of fear that I’ve missed ‘important’ nuggets of info for you all to read word for word (ha!). This is the third and last part in my Travel Tips & Tricks series and, at around 3,500 words, I honestly hope it is helpful to at least one person out there. As per Part 1 and 2, this has been generally written for the novice/first-time traveller – so whilst this isn’t a definitive guide – there are plenty other invaluable tips and tricks if you scour the interweb!

Like most things in life though, I’ve learnt you can never be completely prepared for a bout of travelling. But that’s the thing, isn’t it? There’s this opportunity to conquer the unknown; discover far flung places before any ‘city guide’ can; and find a new perspective that no textbook can give you. After all, they say that to learn more about home, you just have to leave it.

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MONEY MATTERS

Even with the best of intentions, travelling on a shoestring is so hard. I’ve tried on my most recent Europe trip and (according to my husband) I failed. Miserably.

Leaving expensive purchases aside, I’ve found food and metro tickets to add up frighteningly quick, particularly in places like Paris, London, Switzerland, and generally all Scandinavian cities.

From my own travels, here’s a brief and general guide as to the cost of day to day living (food, transport, accommodation) is in various cities:

CENTRAL EUROPE

Paris $$$ (e.g. a 330ml bottle of Coke will set you back 4.50 euros at a café) | South of France $$

London $$$ | Prague $ | Leuven (Belgium) $$ | Berlin $ | Rome $$ | Cinque Terre $$ | Venice $$

EUROPE – SCANDINAVIA

Copenhagen $$$ | Stockholm $$$

EUROPE – NORDIC

Reykjavik $$$ (car hire is reasonable though – on par with Australian prices) | Helsinki $$ (in my experience, the least expensive Scandinavian city)

EUROPE – BALTIC

Tallinn $

ASIA

Hong Kong $ | Singapore $$ (food is inexpensive but designer bags/clothes are the most expensive in Asia)

Ho Chi Minh City $ | Kuala Lumpur $ | Shanghai $$ | Bali $ | Tokyo $$ (whilst food is reasonably cheap, hotels are pricey for their sqm)

Maldives (ok, not exactly Asia, but close enough!) $$$

USA/CANADA

New York City $$$ | Las Vegas $$ | Boston $$ | San Francisco $$ | Vancouver $$

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HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON FOOD

These days, we spend our dinners in the comfort of our hotel room or apartment, rather than at a café or restaurant.

As an example, a typical 2-course meal at a mid-range restaurant in Paris would typically set us back 50 euros for both of us without beer/wine. A stop-off at the local Paul’s patisserie or a nearby Monoprix gets us dinner sorted for under 10 euros in total (and that’s with beer or wine!). Whether we were eating in the middle of Jardin de Tuilluries (Instagrammable picnic or not) or on the banks of the Seine, or taking it back to our apartment, it was still fun. And the great thing about most parts of Europe is that public drinking (in the civilised sense, at least) is not illegal like it is here in Australia. So you don’t have to be sitting at a restaurant and having a meal to be enjoying a drink.

Of course, though, holidays are meant for splashing out, and we’ve been fortunate to experience the most incredible dining experiences in the world (aside from the Michelin-starred restaurants, Noma and Waku Ghin have been notable highlights). But whilst my husband would have no qualms eating pre-made cous cous from Franprix each night in an effort to save money, I would. I prefer my food fresh and not pre-packed with preservatives and what-not.

The deal was that we’d eat a big breakfast (preferably by booking a hotel that offered a breakfast buffet), then skip lunch (most times we’d pick up a small snack in the afternoon to tide us over) and then only eat out for dinner every second (or third) night. It’s not a shoestring solution by any means, but it’s a good compromise for us.

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THE RULES OF EATING OUT

On the other hand, if you are eating out in a very tourisy city (e.g. Paris, Rome, et al) and you prefer not to be ripped off by exorbitant restaurant prices, I have a few tips that might point you in the right direction:

Get off the beaten track

Often the more authentic (and cheaper) places are found away from main tourist drags. I’d walk at least 800m-1km away from touristy areas to find something that fits the bill.

One time in Rome, we made the mistake of having lunch at a pizza and pasta bar around the corner from Trevi Fountain (in our defence, we were hangry. And my in-laws were with us). When the bill was brought to the table, there was a mysterious 6 euro charge for the four of us, in addition to the food we ordered. Guess what that charge was? A ‘sitting’/service fee. I was so livid. I mean, my pizza cost 6 euros. It’s probably quite common amongst ‘touristy places’ to be honest but that was the only restaurant I had eaten at in Italy that demanded such surcharges. Moral of the story? Get off the beaten track.

Try to avoid restaurants that openly advertise English menus

Ok, so it sounds a little stupid given I don’t speak any other languages except some really awful Vietnamese, Teo Chew (Chinese) and English, but if you want to go to the other end of the extreme (assuming you couldn’t care less about accidentally things like reindeer meatballs) then go for it. My husband gets anxious when he can’t understand a menu but I’m personally ok with it, aside from that one time I accidentally ate reindeer meatballs in Helsinki. What’s the worse that could happen? Unless you’re in questionable parts of remote China (like I have been) food’s food at the end of the day. I’ve found restaurants with no English menus tend to have the most authentic food going around.

Download apps

There are some really great apps for your phone which help you find nearby restaurants and save you money. Think of it as Urbanspoon with coupon codes.

If you’re heading to France, Spain or Switzerland, it’s worth downloading The Fork. My friends used this app on our last night in Paris and we ended up having a really fantastic dining experience at a fraction of the cost elsewhere.

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GETTING OVER THE LANGUAGE BARRIER

That said, sometimes it’s just impossible to fly by the seat of your pants when you’re eating at a restaurant or navigating your way around a foreign city and you don’t speak an ounce of the local language.

If you don’t have internet access when out and about, there are heaps of free language apps that you can download on your smartphone (some are equipped with phonetic functions!) or you can carry a pocket-sized phrase book with you too.

It always helps if you at least learn how to say “hello”, “goodbye” and “thank you” in the language of the country you’re visiting without referring to a phrase book.

We were so lucky to be seated at a restaurant next to an Austrian English-speaking couple in Dijon recently that sensed my husband’s anxiety and offered to translate the menu for us from French to English. It was so kind of her to do so, and we ended up chatting about our respective travels and cities. Although French is not the most difficult language to decipher (try Japanese!) it just goes to show if you ask someone nearby (whether it’s a waiter or a fellow traveller), chances are they’ll be willing to help.

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HOW LONG TO SPEND IN EACH CITY

This really does come down to personal preference. Some people are satisfied with two days in Paris; whilst for others, two months isn’t nearly enough!

As a general rule of thumb though, I try not to spend any less than 2 or 3 nights in any one city (there are exceptions to the rule – usually this applies to tiny towns). It’s tempting to squeeze in as many countries as you can when you’re a 36 hour flight away from home (heck, even I’ve done 3-4 cities in one week…), but I’ve personally found after factoring in the time, cost and hassle in actually getting in and out of cities, visiting a place for such a short amount of time is really such a waste. For me anyway, it takes a few days to truly soak up what a city or town to the point where I feel unhurried and can leave knowing I’ve had a good chance to explore both the sights and the hidden back streets.

It can be hard to gauge how long to spend in a city when you’ve never visited the place before (asking friends/family helps, but it’s not infallible!). For those curious, here’s roughly how long I’ve spent in some of the cities I’ve been to:

Berlin – 4 days (7, if I had my time over)

Boston – 2 days (about right, though could spend up to 3 or 4 days here)

Copenhagen – 4 days (5 or 6 if I had my time over)

Cinque Terre – 3 days (about right)

Helsinki – 4 days (about right, but probably no more than 4)

Hong Kong – 5 days (not nearly enough – I could spent up to 9-10 days here!)

Las Vegas – 3 days (just right)

London – 2 days (more than enough for me – I didn’t enjoy London and almost went bankrupt after a couple of days! For the average traveller though, I’d say 4-5 days)

Maldives – 3 days (about right, though more if we signed up to activities & day trips)

New York City – 9 days (it didn’t even scratch the surface. At least 2 weeks here)

Paris – 8/10 days (see NYC)

Reykjavik – 4 days (could definitely have spent up to 6 days here)

Rome – 2 days (I didn’t warm to Rome either – I blame the dodgy area we stayed in! So 2 days was perfect, and I also got to explore the Roman Forum at a comfortable pace).

San Francisco –  3 days (4-5 days would have been ideal. It took me so long to enjoy San Francisco and when I started to, I had to leave!).

Shanghai – 3 days (could have spent an extra day or two here)

Tokyo – 12 days (at least 2 full weeks, if I had my time over. See NYC & Paris)

Vancouver – 3 days (about right, but we didn’t go doing ski season. I LOVED Vancouver and could definitely spend more time here exploring the landscape)

Venice – 1.5 days (2-3, if I had my time over. Venice is incredible)

Of course, the best way to get around the conundrum is to not plan or book anything. At all.

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EASIEST WAY TO GET AROUND A CITY

Aside from a map in hand, GPS (we download the TomTom app on our iPhone – it’s not free but it’s worth the money) and/or Google Maps app have saved us so many times. During our self-guided bike tour in the South of France, we ended up ditching the paper maps we were given and used our TomTom instead (let’s face it, a map is only as good as the signage). If you’re heading to an Asian city (like Tokyo) be prepared. Even with a GPS, finding a place can be impossible. And if all else fails, ask for help.

As for public transport, this is our most used option. Walking or cycling is our preferred option. You see so much more of the city this way, but only if time is a luxury. Cycling gives you the best of both worlds though – and it’s easy on the feet!

Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, most cities in Europe including Scandinavia have some of the most efficient subway systems in the world. NYC can be chaotic and slow (and deafening!) and the Tube in London can be horrendous. F0r such a populated city, Paris is really efficient and easy (aside from peak hour).

For my husband and I, we don’t have the luxury to be chauffeured from place to place and taxis are only ever used to and from the airport (if it’s an early morning or late night flight) because it’s often crazy expensive, too.

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TAKE SCREENSHOTS

If you don’t have internet connection when you’re out, taking screenshots on your phone (I’ve never owned one but I’m sure you do it on an Android too) before leaving your hotel in the morning is indispensable (assuming you’re using wifi in the hotel). I take screenshots of everything when travelling – addresses, maps, photos, you name it. It beats writing everything down. All I have to do is open my Camera Roll and then type the address into our TomTom app. It’s foolproof.

Oh, and this is also a good thing to know.

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CLAIMING TAX ON HOLIDAY PURCHASES

This is probably the best (though laborious!) part about shopping overseas.

It’s important to note not all countries and cities offer this option (definitely Europe and most of Asia, but – correct me if I’m wrong – not all parts of the US yet).

Basically (to the uninitiated) if you’re a traveller, you can claim back tax on your purchase. In Europe it’s called the VAT. In places like Singapore, it’s called the GST (like in Australia). The only condition is that you have to be leaving, say, the EU within 3 months of purchasing that item.

It’s also worth noting that tax rates differ from country to country. Minimum purchase amounts also vary from country to country. And some countries (like Denmark) adopt a tiered approach to tax rates and purchase amounts. You can find all this information on websites like Global Blue or Premier Tax Free. Generally, you’ll find you can get anywhere between 10-20% off your purchase.

Because getting your tax back on your purchases in a foreign country can get a little tricky though, I thought I’d impart a few tips based on my own experience:

At time of purchase

- Unless you have a rather intuitive sales assistant, you’ll have to tell them you’d like to claim the tax back on the purchase. They’ll then fill out the form & attach the receipt for you which you’ll need to claim tax. Do not lose these forms!

- Generally speaking, you’re not allowed to open or use your purchases before taking them to the airport’s tax refund office. Some countries (like Finland) will actually staple your shopping bag together. Some countries don’t, so with purchases like handbags, it’s possible to sneakily use them and then pop them back in its dustbag (just keep the swing tags)!

- If you’ve made multiple purchases, claim them all back at your last stop within the EU. Aim to arrive at the airport at least two hours earlier than usual (more if it’s a big airport and you have heaps of stuff to claim). You’ll need this time to line up, get the customs stamp, line up again at the foreign exchange counter, then post off the forms, and then to re-pack your suitcase.

At the tax refund counter

- If you’re wondering if customs check specific contents of your purchases at the airport… they usually don’t (in my experience!). That’s all I’ll say… in terms of packaging (paper bags/boxes), you generally don’t need it, as long as you have the actual item with you. This is handy if the packaging is really bulky! My girlfriend purchased a Birkin in Paris and was able to obtain a tax refund at the airport after shipping her empty Hermes box back to Australia.

- You can opt for a credit card refund or cash refund.

- In cities like Paris (and I assume in other cities too) there are tax refund counters dotted around the city from which you can receive your cash or credit refund (instead of receiving it at the airport). I’ve done this and it’s super simple and convenient if you need the extra cash. An important note: you STILL need to obtain the customs stamp at the airport though as a final ‘paperwork’ step, even though you’ve technically already received the refund. If you don’t get the stamp and post off the forms at the counter, you’ll have your refund debited from your credit card (which is why they ask you for your credit card at the counter).

- I know most people head to Paris to make big-ticket purchases (because it’s well-priced and the range is bigger). I recommend the Global Tax Refund office on the ground floor (next to the shoe department) at Galeries LaFayette. For the love of God, though, go early in the morning – before 10am – to beat the hoards of impatient, pushy Chinese tourists (only speaking from experience here). Global Blue can give you a cash refund (in euros) on the spot, and will only charge you (a small) commission if you didn’t make that purchase at Galeries.

- If you want to carry your purchases in your checked luggage, head to the tax refund counter before the check-in counter. This is why it’s important to arrive at the airport 2-3 hours earlier than you normally would – Rome, especially!

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DUTY FREE PURCHASES IN AIRPORTS

I just wanted to include some sage advice on this so that you can all learn from my (costly!) mistakes.

Things like cosmetics and alcohol can be much cheaper than back in Australia, so whilst it’s tempting to while away a huge chunk of transit time at the airport by shopping, there are a few things to keep in mind:

- Be mindful on liquid restrictions if you don’t have your checked luggage with you at time of purchase (because you’ll get them confiscated through security screening, obviously).

- Be mindful of your destination. We once travelled from Europe to the Maldives and stocked up on super cheap whisky at Heathrow. We forgot that Sunni Islam is the state religion of Maldives, so upon arrival at Male Airport, we ended up having $300-$400 worth of whisky confiscated (you’re not allowed to consume or purchase alcohol in Maldives, unless you’re at a restaurant/resort). We tried everything – asking to have the alcohol shipped back, asking if we could store it at the airport and pick it up upon departure… but there’s only so far you can push the envelope with poker-faced guards carrying machine guns.

- Be mindful of where you’re travelling from and where you’re travelling to. One other time, my husband wanted to stock up on whisky at HKIA but thankfully before he made a purchase, a sales assistant thoughtfully advised us that if we were travelling from Hong Kong to Australia, we weren’t permitted to bring alcohol back in our carry-on, due to tough restrictions Australia has imposed on incoming liquids. One other time, we were at Shanghai International Airport and I thought I’d stock up on Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream. The duty free store even sealed the clear zip lock bag for me so that it could (apparently) get through the security checkpoint. Well, guess what? It didn’t. I ended up having all 3 tubes of it taken away from me by Qantas at time of boarding. There’s a brief explanation on alcohol restrictions here but you can obviously find more info on Google.

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STAYING SAFE WHEN TRAVELLING

I couldn’t round off my Tips & Tricks without mentioning a word or two about safety and security when travelling. The rise of cashed-up tourists in certain cities, comes an influx of petition-signing, string-wielding, pillow-carrying scam artists and ‘gypsies’ who try to make a buck (or more) off an unsuspecting traveller.

I travelled with my father in-law through Rome last year and he was (almost) the victim of a pickpocket who shoved a pillow in his face and put his hand into my FIL’s shirt pocket. I have to say; it wasn’t the worst part of my Rome experience, though. To the first time traveller who has all these romanticised notions of cities like Paris and Rome… please be mindful, prepared, and your expectations (and common sense) in check.

- Don’t use an ATM in a deserted, dark, or dodgy place. If you have to use an ATM (even in a seemingly scrupulous place) try to have a friend or your partner with you.

- If you’re asked to sign a ‘petition’, ignore them and walk away. Fast.

- Same goes if someone comes up to you with string in their hands and asks if you speak English.

- If you’re standing on the street waiting for a friend, try to have your back to a wall at all times.

- Don’t carry more cash than you need.

- When dining outside at a café or restaurant don’t leave your phone or wallet visibly sitting on the table.

- When walking out of a luxury store after making a big purchase, keep your blinkers on and purchases close to you. It’s also a good idea to drop your shopping bags at your hotel room – it’s not only a pain to lug them around all day, but it can also be bait for a not-so-nice mugging.

- Using a money wallet (slung unfashionably underneath your clothes is a great idea – I usually get the husband to do this. Hahaha.); as is carrying a crossbody bag in front of you. If you’re carrying a shoulder bag, make sure it has zips and always carry it in front of you on the subway or when walking through a crowded place. I also always make sure the ‘zip’ faces the front, not behind me. In some cities (like Kuala Lumpur), it’s best not to carry a handbag at all.

- If you’re travelling with valuable jewellery (like your engagement/wedding rings) turn the rings around (on your finger) when on public transport. Of course, the most cautious thing to do is not to travel with expensive stuff in the first place.

- We always carry our passports with us (for shopping purposes – ha!) but my husband always tucks them into a money wallet under his shirt.

- As far as hotel rooms go, we’ve never had an issue with getting our stuff stolen by housekeeping or others etc. But we do exercise a bit of common logic, like stowing away shopping bags out of sight, locking the suitcases before we leave the room, and not leaving cash, laptops, tablets and other valuables around (we lock them up in the luggage).

Jump to Part 1 and 2 of my Travel Tips & Tricks:

beforeyougox  onyourway

And you can browse the rest of my Travel posts here.

A Cartier Fairytale in Paris.

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Nothing worth it ever came easy, and none more so than my recent collaboration with Cartier and Vogue.

Whilst in Paris last month, I had the opportunity to look to some of the most fabled (and my favourite) parts of the city to serve as the backdrop for the centenary celebration of Cartier’s iconic panther jewel with its new ‘Panthère de Cartier’ collection – the biggest in the French maison’s history.

But there is always a stormy undercurrent to fairytales. Haughty princesses are kissed by frogs; tales are riddled with runaway slaves and lions with thorns in their paw, and sleeping beauties and a cursed eternal slumber; fables tell of lost slippers and wicked step-mothers; there is a story of a mermaid who gave up everything for love but lost her beautiful voice; and Aesop’s tales that teach us that although it’s tempting to envy another person’s life, their life is rarely as great as it seems from a distance.

Though I can’t quite begin to describe how much of an honour it was to work with such an iconic brand so steeped in a fabled and bejewelled history, it was our most challenging assignment yet for various reasons. We ended up with only fifteen minutes to shoot the entire editorial (when usually we set aside an hour or two) and I’m sure most photographers can emphathise when I say I feared these photos would be confiscated from us at one point!

But like all fairytales, mine had a happily ever after, so it goes without saying that I’m so pleased (and relieved!) to be able to share my latest Spy Style editorial with you. It’s not every day I’m in working in Paris, alongside Cartier (and my husband!), and wearing a bracelet with a price tag equivalent to a small apartment.

See the full post on Vogue.com.au here.

Photography by Jamie and Michelle; post-processing by Michelle.

Spring essentials.

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The turn of spring has had me reaching for some new wardrobe essentials.

I picked up this striped Isabel Marant Etoile shirt from Merci a few weeks ago in Paris. Perfectly lived-in, probably way too oversized for me, but just the right amount of insouciance, to get me through this in-between weather. I’m planning to team this shirt with my light blue 501s and a pair of kitten heeled pumps.

The rest of my spring uniform consists of white and grey tones, in all manner of light merino wool mens’ sweaters from Uniqlo and button-down shirts with the sleeves cuffed the Jenna Lyons way, along with – my new favourite accessory - a Celine Cabas tote.

What are your spring essentials? Any new/old favourites?

The Multitaskers.

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Wearing Hello Parry Mabel trapeze top (I’m wearing an S) over a Karla Spetic dress (seriously considering saving up for this!), Hermès leather belt, Christian Louboutin Pigalle 100 pumps, Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses, Mnologie clutch.

Life recently: four loads of holiday washing, resuming normal sleeping hours, discovering this cookbook, discovering the hell (and pleasure) in shopping for fittings for our next home including designing a bloody staircase (you can follow our adventures here!), and a mad dash to the Telstra Perth Fashion Festival last weekend for the Hello Parry show.

I wore to the show some of the most multi-tasking items in my wardrobe: an Hermes belt that I’ve punched more holes in to not only wear through the belt loops of my jeans, but also around the waist; a Karla Spetic dress that works almost – if not – better as a skirt, and my new favourite top from Hello Parry that I love wearing unrestrained (with a pair of cropped silk pants) in all its pleated masses, or simply cinched in at the waist with a narrow belt.

Photograph by Trish | Le.Fanciulle