Money and Travel

Money and Travel

Considering the current climate, most of us would agree that it is much safer to pay by card or contactless payment when we are out and about. So, I thought I’d review a few cards I have used when travelling abroad and why I think they are great. FYI, this is just my opinion and is based solely on my experience. ( I am not a financial adviser so, if you need more information, please speak to a qualified professional ).

Monzo

This was the first mobile banking card I signed up for, and to be honest, it has worked just fine since. I still use Monzo today, especially when saving towards particular destination pots. The account is easily accessed through the Monzo mobile app and there is a feature that allows you to freeze your card if you lose it. One of the great things about Monzo is that spending abroad is free and you are only charged the exchange rate at the time of transaction.

The app is also good for monitoring spending, receiving notifications for paydays, setting up bill payments and saving pots. There is an option for your salary to be paid in a day early. The salary sorter is a great feature that helps organise your finances and prevent overspending. Monzo also allows you to earn interest on savings. (visit Monzo for more details). It is easy to switch your accounts to Monzo and use it as your main debit account if that is your preference.

Sterling Card

Sterling card works like a debit card or pre-paid cash card. It is free to sign up for and does not charge any annual fees. Like Monzo, it can be managed through a mobile app which is very easy to use. You can simply transfer money into it your Sterling account and use it as a pre-paid cash card or equally if you prefer, it can be used as a debit card.

Another key advantage of using the Sterling card is that there are no withdrawal fees when using this card abroad. So, you can withdraw and spend as much as you like. You will only get charged the local exchange rate at the time. The app also has a feature that allows you to freeze the card if you lose it.

Tandem

This card is also free and has no annual fees or international fees when spending abroad. It does, however, charge fees for withdraws, so, if you chose to use this card, avoid making cash withdraws. It is better to use the card for purchases instead. It gives 0.5% cashback when you spend. Like all credit cards, make sure you pay the balance back in full each month to avoid penalties or ruining your credit score. This one comes with an easy to use app that gives you notifications to help you track spending. You can also freeze your card if you do lose it. ( visit Tandem for more information)

Curve

This product allows you to add both your debit and credit card into on card. With a Curve card, you don’t need to carry all your cards around with you. They are all accessible through the Curve card. It is operated through a mobile app where you can add your credit and debit accounts, then simply chose which account you want the money you are spending to come from.  The account is free to open. Cash withdraws of up to £200 per month and spending of up to £500  per month is free with Curve. Like many mobile banking accounts, you will only be charged the exchange rate at the time of transaction. But please note that a 0.2% fee is charged if you exceed these limits.  The added advantage of using this card is that you will avoid any fees that your other cards might charge while travelling abroad. There are added fees for weekend travel spends. (please read terms and conditions). It may not suit weekend travel.

It is always wise to have spare money in cash when you travel in case of emergency. Please wear gloves to reduce the spread of Covid -19 and wash your hands regularly.

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My Bucket List

My Bucket List

I imagine that like me, you can’t wait to get out and enjoy the world again. I am already thinking about future travel and destinations that are on my bucket list. So I thought I’d share a few places I cant wait to see. (If you are planning future travel or looking for a UK staycation! Book with me or contact me for a quote). Here is my bucket list of the top 10 countries I can’t wait to visit

Malawi

Malawi has been a personal destination goal for me for a while now. All who have visited, have described it as a place that exceeds expectation. This list is in no particular order but Malawi is the number one destination on my bucket list. Located in East Africa, this beautiful country has it all from wild reserves to the scenic Lake Malawi. I truly can’t wait to dip my toes in the water.

Havanna – Cuba

I’m so envious of all who have been to this wonderful country. Cuba is located in North America off the gulf of Mexico. This historic country has had a complicated history, so if you planning to visit, I advise you to please check for any travel restrictions. There is just so much that excites me about Cuba, from the refreshing Mojitos to the rich Cuban music. I can almost already see myself dancing to salsa in the streets. I can’t wait to be transported to the 1950s and ride around in a vintage convertible. Next stop: Cigar store!

South Africa

South Africa is a must. My desire is to visit both Cape Town and Johannesburg. Over the years, I have seen countless pictures of the beautiful scenery from Table mountain, the penguins on the beach and the lovely coast which has made South Africa an anticipated adventure trip. I also look forward to touring the wineries. Did I mention how much I love South African wine. But more important than wine, is learning. This trip would be a great opportunity to learn more about the country’s history and culture. I look forward to seeing Robben Prison.

Tokyo – Kyoto – Japan

From the buzzing neon skyline of the city to the peaceful countryside, Japan is a country with a contrast that fascinates me. In all honesty, one of the main reasons I want to visit Japan is the food. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Japan is a massive country, so for this blog, I will concentrate on Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. There is just simply way too much to see in Japan, so I only list a few places I am excited to see: Tokyo -Temples including Senso ji temple, Meiji Shrine, Roppongi Hills, Shibuya crossing, digital art museum. Kyoto: Gion, Hanami Koji, nishiki market, Fushimi Inari shrine, Kamogawa river. Osaka– Food , Food and more Food

Nairobi – Mombasa – Kenya

Another East African paradise. Kenya is on everyone’s bucket list for good reason. It is a beautiful country that offers city life, safari, and beautiful coastlines. I have visited safari parks across different east African counties, so this will be a nice addition to the list. First stop Nairobi, then off to Mombasa. But the place I’m most fascinated to see is Watamu, not to mention the famous Treehouse hotel that I have been seeing in photos for years. I am looking forward to having a relaxing time in Kenya.

Argentina

Buenos Aires, which means Good Air or Fair winds, what more could one need! Bring on the Spanish vibes, the dulce de leche, rich wine flavours, mouthwatering steak and the dance-Tango! The rest is yet to be explored.

Brazil

If for no other reason, the visit to Brazil is worth doing just to see Christ the Redeemer towering over Rio de Janeiro, a truly humbling sight. If I am lucky enough to experience the Brazilian carnival, that would be awesome. I have been told that the view of the city from Sugarloaf mountain is unmatched. I can’t imagine a better place to try out hang gliding for the first time, than in Brazil. Brazil is also known for Capoeira. I look forward to enjoying a sunset cruise around Rio.

Seychelles

Another East African gem. I should just go ahead and change the title of this blog post to East African gems. But in all honesty, Seychelles is simply undeniable. It looks and feels like the perfect wedding or honeymoon destination for all you couples out there. Seychelles has some of the best islands in the world – Anse Lazio, La Digue, and Anse Source d’Argent to mention a few. This paradise is famous for its tortoises on Curieuse island. Moyenne has some of the best coral reefs, perfect for snorkelling. And to finish it all off jet skiing parasailing and zip lining on the beach.

Rwanda

Named the Singapore of Africa – I know that when Rwanda is mentioned, we tend to think back to the genocide that happened in 1994 but this beautiful country has come a long way since then. I have been to Rwanda before but never really toured it. This time around, I look forward to visiting the museum to learn more about Rwanda’s rich history, experience the culture, learn the graceful dance, visit the booming art scene and buy lots of Mushananas – (Traditional Rwandan dress)

Costa Rica

This tropical destination requires no introduction. Costa Rica is truly unique. I look forward to walking across the Genius river bridge, attempting to climb El Arbol Hueco and zip-lining while enjoying the view of the tropical rain forests. Costa Rica is home to the famous Rio Celeste, has breathtaking waterfalls and beautiful beaches. There is no better place to take a mud bath from black volcanic sand – absorbing all the natural minerals. Did I mention that he rich Costa Rican coffee, and rum is not bad at all. Pura Vida

Singapore

I know I said ten, but I had to give you just one more entry – Singapore. This dynamic city is melting pot of cultures. From the Gardens by the bay to dining at Clarke quay, I definitely want to do and see it all. Merlion Park, Marina bay, and Sentosa island are but a few items on my itinerary.

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Travel in style with Bougie Belles

Travel in style with Bougie Belles

I recently published a blog about travel essentials (please check my blog page), but I would like to expand on that list by sharing my travel experience with you. Below are a few essential as well as luxurious things I carry with me when I travel.

In my carry on cabin bag:

A mini blanket is essential because it can get very cold on planes. I always carry a light fluffy one to ensure I am kept warm throughout the flight. Alongside my blanket, socks are essential. If you are flying Business or First Class, you will always be given a care bag for your flight. I still always carry my own socks with me regardless. An eye mask is essential to block out light and ensure you get some rest. I always carry an empty water bottle which I can fill up once I have gone through security. It is important to always keep hydrated especially on long flights. Don’t forget your tablet or laptop for entertainment. Make sure you download all your favourite programs beforehand, and also, carry a good book to keep you occupied – I never travel without The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra, (book review blog coming soon). Do not forget to pack your camera in your carry on luggage so that as soon as you land, you are ready to start taking pictures. A power bank is vital to ensure your gadgets don’t run out of battery. And lastly my personal favourite, noise cancellation headphones. If you are anything like me, sometimes only silence will do.

In my hand bag

Aeroplane air conditioning can really dry out the skin. To manage this, I carry a good quality long lasting face moisturiser and an eye cream/ serum. As soon as I’m settled in on my flight, I clean my face with a makeup removal face-wipe, then put on my moisturiser and eye cream, A face spray will work wonders for skin hydration throughout the flight. (For extra freshness- keep it in the fridge overnight so that it’s nice a cool to use the following day). My lips remain moisturised with a good lip balm. During the fight hair tends to get messy and you don’t want to land with ‘plane hair’, so, I always carry a hairbrush or comb with me, and my toothbrush with a mini toothpaste – to ensure that I am always minty fresh once I arrive at my destination. It’s only good hygiene to have a mini deodorant and wet wipes so that you can freshen up.

Dress to impress

I always dress to impress. The key is to look stylish but make sure you are comfortable for your trip. I tend to always mix high with low. A comfortable pair of sneakers with some stylish sweats- especially for long flights or a pair of leggings with a louse blouse and a tailored blazer. If you choose to wear a dress, be sure to pack a pair of leggings for when it gets cold on the plane. If I am travelling somewhere hot and sunny which is very often the case, I always carry an extra top to change into just before landing, a fan, sunglasses and a hat.

A girl should be two things: Who and What she wants

Coco Chanel

Duty-free and Champagne

Before you fly, make sure to take the time to visit your favourite stores and enjoy the airport duty-free. I always eat before any flight and if it’s after midday – order a nice glass of Champagne to go with it. This is also a great time to discover new products at my favourite beauty counters. If my flight is longer than 5 hours, I always make sure I book a mini-massage before the flight. There are several therapy services you can enjoy at the airport so be sure to check before you travel. Mini-facials are great for your skin before a long flight.

Aside from shopping at duty-free stores, I recently discovered personal shopping. I know! Where on earth have I been? This is a great way to purchase new items before your trip. It’ honestly a great experience and you are always treated to a glass of bubbly. Item range from high street to luxury, the chose is yours. Please make sure you book this at least 2 days in advance.

Travel Post Covid-19

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the challenging times we are facing and how this might change the way we travel. Following the Covid-19 global pandemic, we are all going to have to take extra care when travelling. So, I put a shortlist of items, I think might be essential for future travel:

  • Face-mask
  • Travel laundry detergent (to watch any cloth masks)
  • Gloves
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Pocket tissues
  • Anti-bacterial wipes (to disinfect surfaces)
  • Isopropyl wipes (to disinfect your phone)
  • Thermometer – to monitor your temperature
  • Vitamin C tablets – This is my personal choice. Please seek medical advice before you use any type of medication

Remember to always wash your hands. Do not touch your face. Keep your distance at all times. Handle any cash with gloves. Make sure your disinfect your credit and bank cards

Remember to always stay safe and seek advice from a qualified medical professional

Don’t forget your essentials

Don’t forget your essentials

It is always better to be safe rather than sorry, which is why a travel checklist is essential to ensure that you have all you require for your trip. There are so many free travel templates online. Below is the one I put together for peace of mind. Feel free to use this as a guide and adapt it according to your personal needs. The categories have been simplified for general use. I have shared a more detailed travel experience on my blog. (check it out)