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Imagine a village in a wild west-themed adventure park; one with saloons, wide pathways and shops full of trinkets which are probably the same stock that failed to sell in 2001. That's what Kuranda felt like to me. But not in a bad way. More of an amusing, novelty way. You can just tell the village is geared for tourism - it hits that nail firmly on the head - but unlike other tourist attractions I've visited on the otherwise modern east coast of Australia, it provokes a nostalgia for the theme parks I visited when I was a child.

If you're staying in Cairns, which was my first port of call on my east coast Australia road trip, you can access the Skyrail to Kuranda via the suburb of Smithfield. It's also easily accessible if you're staying in Port Douglas or Palm Cove. Buses to Smithfield run pretty regularly from these locations, but if you're not confident taking the bus you can book a tour which will pick you up from or near your accommodation. Click here to visit the Kuranda Skyrail website to view the available tours.

I booked the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway & Kuranda Scenic Railway with return transfers from Cairns & Beaches for $128 (approximately £70 at the time of writing) and it was worth every. Single. Penny.



The Skyrail
I was picked up by a friendly driver who detected my accent and was quick to tell me he had relatives in the UK (as many Aussies do). He whipped the tour bus out to Smithfield in around 20 minutes, dropping us off right outside the Skyrail terminal. From there, I just flashed my tour pass and received my ticket for both the Skyrail and railway.

As I travelled during off peak season, I got a whole gondola to myself. These big green pods can carry five people, so I was pretty content with the ample space and lack of bodies spoiling my view. And what a view it was.



My advice is to face backwards for the first 10 minutes of the Skyrail. You'll get an amazing sight of the sparkling coastline, rainforest shrouded hills and Cairns' suburbs. After that, you'll glide into the far reaches of the rainforest - a sea of greenery as far as the eye can see.

Red Peak and Barron Falls
The first stop is Red Peak, a small station in the rainforest with a free guided tour on an elevated walkway. I had already been on a rainforest tour earlier in the week, so I decided to traverse the walkway alone, which took me less than 10 minutes. There's plenty of signage telling you what's what, and a few birds flitting around to keep your attention piqued.

Barron Falls


Get back on the gondola and fly over some more rainforest before descending through the canopy once again. This time, you'll land at Barron Falls. This, for me, was the highlight of the trip. Walk out onto the manmade viewing platforms to see the falls in all their glory, breathe in the wondrously fresh air and listen to the endlessly relaxing sound of water gushing over the crest.

Barron Falls almost seems like it shouldn't be there. It's like a giant has scooped out part of the rainforest, leaving thousands of litres of water to cascade down bare stone into the river. In fact, local Aboriginal lore depicts the journey of Buda-dji, a carpet snake who travelled from the coast to the Atherton Tablelands, carving out the river and its creeks in his wake. It really is a breathtaking sight and I highly recommend viewing it from the glass platform located 160m above the Gorge.

Kuranda village
The Skyrail takes you over the mighty Barron River on the approach to Kuranda Skyrail Station. You'll get your mug snapped by a photographer as your gondala arrives, and you can purchase the shot as a memento when you disembark. There's a nice shop at the station which sells lots of locally-made souvenirs; I bought a handkerchief for my grandma and some ground coffee for myself to enjoy when I get home.

Barron River


The Skyrail station is located right next to the railway station, so if you're short on time and can't explore Kuranda, you can just hop on the train straight back to Cairns (or wherever you need to get off).

If you do have time to explore, however, simply take a three minute walk into the village centre, where you'll find lots of little shops, cafes, walks and wildlife attractions.

I started off by exploring the Jumrum Creek Conservation Park, Jungle Walk and River and Esplanade Walk - altogether just under 4km of walking, so make sure you take good shoes. If you have to do just one of these, I recommend the Jumrum Creek Conservation Park walk - halfway through you'll come to a very pretty creek where the light filters through the trees and makes for beautiful photography.

Jumrum Creek


If you've walked about as far as you can manage in the North Tropical Queensland heat, head to the shops and cafes for browsing and refreshments. There's lots of art available here, including Aboriginal art, as well as handcrafted items and hippy-style jewellery and clothing.

Past the shops, you'll find the famous Kuranda markets, which are open seven days a week, as well as a butterfly sanctuary, tropical bird aviary and koala park. Although zoos and parks masquerading as 'sanctuaries' make me feel a little uncomfortable, I decided to visit the koala park as I heard that it had a good reputation. Unfortunately, the visit was a let down as the koalas had a really small shared enclosure with just a couple of trees, and 'hold a koala' sessions were being offered, which I personally disagree with for the sake of animal rights.

Koala at the Kuranda Koala Park


The Kuranda Scenic Railway 
Make sure you head back to the railway well in time for your train, as you'll probably want to snap a photo at the iconic Kuranda railway station. Opened in 1915, this station retains much of its vintage charm, and secures its Instagram-worthy aesthetic with the abundance of tropical potted plants lining its platforms. While you're here, you can nip round the tourist shop or grab a snack and drink for your journey.

Kuranda Railway Station


Once it was almost time for my train to leave, I hopped on and sat down. I thought I had an entire booth to myself, when a large family came and sat down beside me. I'm not really a huge fan of kids, so I stuck my headphones in and focussed on the beautiful view, when I felt a tap on my shoulder. One of the staff roaming the train spotted that I was on my own, and very kindly ushered me to my own booth further down the train, where I could watch the view without interruption.

The Kuranda Scenic Railway


The journey is complemented by a commentary on the railway's dramatic history and notes about the landscape. To give you a very brief sneak preview, the line opened in 1891 after nearly 10 years of planning and building, lost contracts and strikes. Tragically, 32 men died in construction accidents while building the railway and its 15 tunnels and 37 bridges.

The journey is 23 miles (37km) in length, stretching from Kuranda all the way into the Redlynch suburb of Cairns. We stopped at one final lookout point for Barron Falls, as well as Freshwater Station where there is a tourist info centre, gift shop and a cafe inside of an old train carriage.

*
Overall, the whole trip, including exploring Kuranda, took just over six hours. It was a beautiful journey in both directions, with views that I'll never forget and photos that mean so much more than just an Instagram post. 

If you want to see more of my travels, click here to read my blog posts or follow me on Instagram @jenloumeredith
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It was my last day in Airlie Beach. If I’m being honest, the weather hadn’t been great. Naive little me was expecting sunshine and hot weather in winter, but Australia was delivering a melancholy combination of showers and clouds. Although it wasn’t cold, it also wasn’t ‘outdoor weather’, so paired with my lack of sleep from the previous evening spent slaving away on my laptop, I wasn’t really in the mood for a trip to the Whitsundays, one of Oz’s most beautiful offshore paradises.

In fact, I was so tempted to cancel my tour with Explore Whitsundays, but I knew that I would be wasting so much unrefundable money, as well as the opportunity to see this aforementioned paradise. White sands, turquoise seas, a lookout point to take your breath away. That was all waiting for me, if I could just pull myself out of bed.

Another reason I didn’t want to leave – my bed. But not just any bed, one in a beautiful guest house in the hills of Airlie, overlooking the beach, forest and, further away, the Whitsundays themselves. It was my last day here. Ahead of me, I had a long day on the water, a 12-hour overnight bus journey and a stay in what I would later find out to be a creepy, dated hostel in an eerily quiet Hervey Bay.

Airlie Guest House, on the other hand, was unbelievably perfect. I had my own room and private bathroom, which may seem standard to hotel-frequenters, but after weeks of dorms and shared facilities, I was aching for my own space. I’m a very social person, but I also like to just chill out by myself in order to recalibrate my mind.


So, back to my lack of motivation. I somehow got up and dressed, and my mood lifted slightly when I saw the sun rising over the bay. It looked like there was actually a possibility of sunshine. I ate breakfast on the deck of the guest house as the local cockatoos romanced each other in the nearby trees, before finally saying goodbye to my little slice of peace, quiet and solitude.

I had to take all my bags with me because, as I mentioned earlier, I was getting a bus to Hervey Bay straight after my tour. I looked on Explore Whitsundays’ website and it stated that I could store my luggage, so I brought my bags down to the marina and was met with some confused looks. Apparently no one knew about this service, but they let me store my luggage for free in their office anyway.

Textures


There were probably around 30 to 40 people on the ‘bullet’, a boat which takes you out to The Whitsundays in just over an hour compared to the larger, overnight stay boats which take two hours or more. Note that if you take the bullet, you will get wet, unless you bring a poncho. I didn’t do this, and usually I’m pretty overprepared. So I was sitting there, cold and wet, dreading the rest of the tour and the following bus journey. A great start.

First off, we went to a snorkelling point where most people got off to swim around a bit. I stayed on board; I didn’t plan on snorkelling because I didn’t want to get wet, but after the ride out I may as well have. Apparently the water was pretty warm, but some Kiwis remarked on how salty it was and how cold they felt when they got out. It was a super windy day, and being in a boat with little shelter, we were completely exposed to the elements.

Whitehaven Beach


After snorkelling, we sailed to Whitehaven Beach, the main beach that most of the tours frequent. I was really looking forward to sunbathing, and practically ran over to a spot to lay down my towel and work on my tan. However, the sand on Whitehaven Beach is extremely fine, and because it was so windy, the breeze would pick up the sand and deposit it just about everywhere. I had so much sand in my hair afterwards – and I don’t even know how, because I had it tied up.

So, following a pretty unsuccessful sunbathing session, we had some lunch, and then set off on a walk to the lookout point.

If you thought this post was turning into a miserable diatribe, don’t worry. It gets better. Much better.

Hill Inlet from Tongue Point


Hill Inlet serves up some views that I’ve only ever seen in a brochure. In fact, if you’ve ever perused a brochure for The Whitsundays, this view is probably what you’ve seen. You can see Hill Inlet from Tongue Point on Whitsunday Island, which is around a ten minute walk with quite a bit of stairs. Work your way up to the top and you’ll find several viewing points, which are usually filled with tourists – so you’ll probably only get a couple of minutes to nab your perfect shot before someone else starts tapping their foot with impatience. If you can find a quiet time of day to visit – maybe with your own boat to avoid the tours – then do so. I enjoyed this view even with the crowds, so it would be magical without.

Here, you’ll see waters so crystal clear and blue, flowing amongst white gold sand dunes sweeping through the inlet. Together, they make huge ‘s’ patterns which can only be adequately appreciated from above. The inlet is so large that you have to admire it from several different viewing platforms in order to take in its enormity. All that aquamarine is a sight I’ll never forget.

I think we were given around half an hour to view the inlet, after which we got back onto the boat and headed to the marina.



I left satisfied, purely for that last beautiful view. The rest of the trip, I could’ve actually been happy without, as I was still a little bit damp and covered in sand. If I could give you a piece of advice, it would be to avoid booking a day tour on the same day as your bus journey. Which I didn’t actually do. I had booked the tour for the previous day, but Explore Whitsundays had overbooked and moved me to the next day.

I imagine I would have enjoyed a helicopter tour of The Whisundays instead. But hey, you don’t know these things unless you experience them.

If you want to see more of my travels, follow me on Instagram @jenloumeredith
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I landed in Cairns a few days ago, and after spending the weekend exploring I've already discovered so much about this tropical tourist hotspot.

If you don't know much about Cairns, it's a small city in the North East of Australia, situated on the coast. It's dubbed 'the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef', and there are dozens of tours to the reef which depart from the Reef Terminal to the east of the city.

1. The airport is surprisingly small
Seeing as Cairns is such a popular place, you might think that the airport would be bigger. It's actually the 7th busiest airport in Australia, but it has just two terminals and only one runway.

The car parks are located directly outside the arrivals and departures entrances (unlike Britain's busiest airports, where you have to take a shuttle unless you pay a premium to park close). This makes it really handy to be picked up or taken to the airport. I caught an Uber from the airport to central Cairns, which cost $15 (around £8) including an airport pickup fee of $2.

2. As soon as you land, the landscape will take your breath away
Cairns is surrounded by rainforest-covered mountains on one side and the coast on the other. When I landed, it was sunset and the sky had turned into a tropical pink blanket over the mountains. While I was waiting for my Uber and admiring this stunning vista, I couldn't help but smile as I knew I'd picked the right destination. On the drive into central Cairns, I caught a glimpse of the coast - it looked so peaceful, just waiting to be explored.

Cairns is incredibly photogenic, so make sure you bring a good camera on your trip.

Pelicans playing with fire on a beach notorious for crocs

3. You can't paddle or sunbathe on the beach because of crocs (not the shoes, although I run away at the sight of those, too)

If you want to spend your holiday on a beach, flitting between the sand and water, tropical Queensland probably isn't for you. There are saltwater crocodiles all over this part of Australia, so it's best to avoid beaches just in case a croc is laying in wait. Unlike other deadly creatures in Australia, crocs aren't more afraid of you than you are of them. They will attack wherever there is an opportunity for a meal, so if there's a sign telling you not to swim - don't swim. 

With this in mind, I haven't actually seen a crocodile on the beach here. But I don't really think I want to.

4. People are out and about all day
Due to the fact that a) Cairns is a city, and b) it's also a tourist hotspot, you'll find people milling about at all times of the day. So if you're worried about feeling isolated, don't! I've been out at the crack of dawn to catch the sunrise, and there were people jogging on the esplanade, getting coffee and driving about.

Cairns has a laidback vibe, but it's still lively.

Cairns Esplanade after a rain shower

5. The roads take ages to cross as a pedestrian
Roads in Cairns are really wide compared to British roads. In some roads where I live, you'd be lucky to get two cars passing each other due to how tight the widths are. In Cairns, the roads accommodate large vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. However, although there are pedestrian walkways along many roads here, crossing the road is a little more difficult, as it just takes so long. Bear this in mind if you're a slow walker or have a physical disability, and plan routes where you won't have to feel rushed.

I actually prefer getting from one side of town to the other via the esplanade, as it's a prettier walk without any cars.

6. It feels very safe for female solo travel

As I mentioned earlier, there are people out and about in town all day, so I've never felt like I'm alone. That, mixed with a friendly vibe, has made me feel safe and welcome. I've met plenty of other solo women travellers, so the city is obviously well-known for this aspect.

Runners in the Cairns Marathon April 2019

7. The weather here can change in seconds
As I've been writing this, the weather has changed from torrential rain, to high winds, to full sun, and back again. When you're out in Cairns, I would prepare for all eventualities, as you never known what kind of weather you'll get stuck in. One constant is the humidity; summer is coming to an end here now, and it's still humid. I can't imagine what it's like in December!

8. You can't avoid the noise of planes
Cairns airport is a 10-minute drive away from the city centre, so you're probably going to hear a plane several times throughout the day and night unless you're way out of the flight path or you're staying in accommodation with soundproofing. I wouldn't say it bothers me, though. It's not unbearably loud and it doesn't wake me up at night.

Cold brew from Aqua Lagoon Cairns

9. Bats casually hang around in trees on the streets
I was walking to the shopping centre when I heard the chirping of what I thought was a flock of very loud birds. I looked up, and to my amazement I saw dozens of bats hanging in the tree above me. Sadly, around a third of the bat population in Queensland were killed last year in an intense heatwave, so it's wonderful to see them here (hopefully) thriving; although, some locals don't like that they congregate in Cairns and have the potential to spread disease.

I personally love bats and think they're beautiful creatures; but I understand how some people are scared of them thanks to vampire stories and the potential rabies threat. If you're scared of bats, I would avoid walking under large fruit trees, as they are attracted to the nectar.

10. The locals are super polite
I always have so much respect for locals, as a tourist. I understand how frustrating it can be when your favourite restaurants are crowded with tourists and you can't get a seat, or when you have to dodge people throwing their arm out for a selfie almost everywhere you go. And it's even worse when there are really rude or loud tourists who ruin it for everyone. But I didn't come across many locals in Cairns who (at least openly) showed their disdain for tourists. Many people have smiled at me while I'm out and about, apologised if they've accidentally got in my way, and even struck up a conversation with me and recommended attractions to visit. I feel really welcome here, and it has made my stay that little bit more special.

Follow more of my travels here on my blog, or on Instagram @jenloumeredith.
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A year ago, I never thought I would be on a plane by myself on my way to Australia. But that’s where I am now, flying somewhere over Turkey as I write this. I’m on a 24-hour journey to the other side of the world. A place that I’ve never visited, and have no links to.

Why travel solo to Australia?

I was in London last summer when I came up with the idea of travelling to Australia. I overheard a conversation; somebody was reminiscing with their friend about a visit to Darwin, having spent their days pearl diving and sleeping on a boat. It sounded idyllic, taking a break from the pressures of everyday life and going off grid in a beautiful part of the world (although living on a boat was off the table as, quite typically, I'm prone to sea sickness).

I became hooked on the concept of Australia and stewed on it for around two months before finally deciding to go. For so long I have been stuck in a routine, albeit a pleasant, comfortable one. I thought things like solo travel were for people who were freewheeling and living on the edge. Sounds silly, I know; but it took until that epiphany last year for me to realise that, actually, you can do anything you want (within means, obviously; I can’t fly to the moon. Yet).

So, why Australia? Well, this being my first big solo trip (I’ve travelled solo to Europe a fair amount), I thought it would be wise to visit a country where English is widely spoken. It can be intimidating enough travelling alone as a woman (more on that later), but travelling alone to a foreign language-speaking country seems like a trip for an older, wiser me.

On top of that, Australia is a country so vast that you feel like you’re seeing several countries in one trip. The humid, tropical north of Australia is completely different to the mild south, and the culture and aesthetic in both areas is a far cry from the raw, expansive outback. I was aching to see the Great Barrier Reef, endless coast lines, sprawling cities and, of course, koalas (go one, tell me I'm not basic).



Planning a solo trip to Australia
I spent a lot of time researching this trip. I advise booking your flight first, as prices can go up really quickly and you might not get the dates you want if you leave it too late. I put aside an afternoon to compare airlines, utilising the magical power of Skyscanner and altering the dates and times until I found the cheapest flight option.

I also used booking.com to find hostels and guest houses. Booking.com is probably one of my favourite and most regularly visited sites. I love the list-making feature, where you can plan out future journeys (or many, many fantasy journeys, in my case) by selecting hotels and categorising them into lists. This is where my Monica Geller-like organisational skills came in handy. I had lists for every location that I wanted to visit, so that I could compare prices, facilities and locations to find the right one for me.

I decided to stay in hostels because I want to meet people. I rarely get to see a lot of new faces where I live in the UK, and although I love my friends, I wanted to push myself to meet more people. All the accommodation I’m staying in is central within the locations I’m visiting, and I did this so that I would never have to travel far to see anything (I’ve already travelled for 24 hours – why would I want to use up more time on transport?).

I left six months to research and plan this trip, and I would say that’s the minimum amount of time you should leave before you even think about setting foot on a plane. Unless you are a freewheeler and live on the edge. In that case, freewheel away.

Flying from the UK to Australia with Singapore Airlines
On Skyscanner, my airline options within my date range and budget were Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Cathay Pacific. I decided to travel with Singapore Airlines as the reviews were good and the price was decent. Flying with this airline means a stop over in the beautiful city of Singapore. Unfortunately I won’t get to see the city, as I’m only stopping for three hours. That’s another trip on the bucket list.

I’d never flown With Singapore Airlines before, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I’m a frequent budget airline flyer, mostly travelling with Ryanair where they charge you for oxygen and give you the side eye if you ask for more than one glass of water.



On Singapore Airlines, however, things are a little different. I’m only a few hours into my flight, and already I’ve eaten a delicious vegetarian breakfast (pre-booked via check-in on the app), chocolate orange ice cream and several glasses of water and apple juice. All included in the flight price. This might seem standard for some, but if you’ve never flown long haul with a non-budget airline, it’s a delightful treat.

The seats are very comfortable – unlike the planks of wood covered in sticky patent leather on Ryanair – and the in-flight entertainment is good. I watched Crazy Rich Asians this morning, followed by Creed II. The flight attendants are super polite and so immaculately dressed that I feel like I’m slumming it in my leggings and un-ironed shirt.

Is it scary travelling solo as a woman?
Lot’s of people have asked me if I’m scared about travelling alone. Honestly, although the odd thought crosses my mind, I find comfort in the fact that thousands of women travel by themselves every year. Yes, you should absolutely be aware of your surroundings, plan your journeys well and try to keep away from sketchy areas or people who give off a weird vibe. But I would give this advice to any tourist, male or female.

If you’re feeling unsafe, look to technology. There are so many apps that you can use to help you throughout your journey. I use a tracking app so that my loved ones back home always know where I am. I also have Uber at the ready in case I get stuck somewhere without public transport. It’s also handy to have mobile payments set up on your phone just in case you lose your debit card.

Follow me on this adventure

If you want to find out more about my trip to Australia, or any of my other travels, click here. You can also find me posting regularly on Instagram, so why not comment on my photos or send me a message with your recommendations?

I hope that my journey inspires you to travel, solo or not. I can’t express enough how travel is so enriching, and teaches you about the world and yourself. Go forth and explore!
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Solo travel anywhere in the world is a rewarding, life-changing experience. From trendy weekend getaways, to adrenaline-pumping hiking adventures, there is a destination for all. With the right budget and super efficient packing skills, you can go anywhere in the world.

Travelling alone for the first time, especially as a young, independent woman, has often been frowned upon in the past due to overriding fears about safety, or the idea that women are not strong enough. In 2019, this is not the case with over 86% of women travelling regardless of current world events, or fears about safety and solo travel in general.

Here are the top five travel destinations in Europe that are guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on any solo traveller: 


Lisbon, Portugal
The Portuguese capital is top of the list when it comes to budget travel and light packing. Lisbon is packed with culture-thriving experiences, from music and film festivals, to rooftop bars and art museums.

You will never be short of something to do and you can even hire yourself a guide for the day to take you to see the sights in style. Food and drink is also significantly cheaper than other neighbouring European cities so you can indulge all you like, then get lost in the city’s artistic culture and impressive architecture.

Find last minute holiday deals in Lisbon here.


Vienna, Austria
Austria’s capital will leave you bursting with excitement, with its charm and sleek architectural presence. You can take a trip to the famous Opera house to catch a show or two, or just lose yourself in Vienna’s incredible skyline from above, and take a stroll along the city streets to catch glimpses of soaring city cathedrals, and eccentric cafes.

Find last minute holiday deals in Vienna here.


Bratislava, Slovakia
Significantly smaller than many other European cities, Bratislava is known and loved for its quirkiness and main attractions, including St Martin’s Cathedral, Devins Castle grounds, and the Old Town, which is full of restaurants, bars and cafes.

A picturesque place, with many opportunities for long walks, free activities and a short distance away from the border of Hungary, Bratislava is somewhere not to be missed out on.

Find last minute deals in Slovakia here.


Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Known for its appearance in the film The Fault in Our Stars based on John Green’s best-selling book (as well as many other pop culture references), Amsterdam is ideal for a short weekend break, where you can soak up the culture and history of one of the most iconic cities in Europe.

From renting a bike, to exploring the Anne Frank house and museum, and taking a ride on the iconic trams, this city never ceases to amaze for its unlimited selection of things to see and do.

From Stansted airport, flights take less than an hour, and all you’ll need is a change of clothes, the essentials, like shower gel, and of course, your passport.

Find last minute holiday deals in Amsterdam here.


Budapest, Hungary
Familiar with the George Ezra song Budapest? Catchy, right? Just like Budapest, as in the place itself, which is always buzzing with life!

In terms of budget, this city is again, relatively cheaper, yet is still packed with things to do and is divided by the Danube River. The 'Shoes on the Danube Bank' memorial pays homage Jews who were shot by Arrow Cross militiamen in the Second World War, and is a must-see experience that will leave you feeling moved. It contains sixty pairs of iron shoes in total, and is one of the city's main attractions.

Find last minute holiday deals in Budapest here.

From going on a solo backpacking adventure, to travelling to a business meeting, annual conference, or culture experience, there are many different reasons for escaping reality. Europe is one of the best destinations for solo adventure and mini breaks, with its reputation for offering amazing cultural experiences, without needing to take all your life belongings with you on the flight.
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It's clear that wireless headphones are going to be on many people's Christmas lists this year. We've struggled with wires for so long, and now that Apple has finally released their AirPods for iPhone users, it's time for us to breathe a sigh of relief as competing electronics brands will fight to create wireless headphones to top the last. It can only get better from here.

So far, I haven't seen many well-known brands trying their hand at wireless in-ear headphones (bar the comparitively expensive Beatsx and Sennheiser anything). And those that have, aren't creating anything particularly stylish.

Sudio, however, makes beautiful, minimalist wireless headphones under the radar. And I advise you to get a pair soon if you want to be ahead of your friends - these really are gorgeous products.

Based in Stockholm, Sudio has that coveted minimalist Scandinavian aesthetic that will blend effortlessly into your life and wardrobe. The Tio headphones (pictured) can be worn with any outfit without detracting attention, and even look great when they're just laying on your dresser. My pair is pink, however they're also available in green and white.

Being a freelancer, no two days are the same for me and I am often on the go. Whether I'm commuting to the city, walking to a client meeting, working on the sofa or having a quick break at the gym, I always have a pair of headphones with me. What I can't stand is when my wires get tangled, and I spend more time fiddling with them than I spend listening. With Sudio's Tio wireless headphones I can just whip them out of my pocket and listen straight away, as my headphones connect via Bluetooth to my phone instantly.

The controls are easy to get the hang of. It's just three buttons located on a panel, controlling power, volume, call answering and more. However, one of the features I liked most about these headphones was the range of ear bud sizes; I seem to have very small ears, which means that 'standard-size' buds often slip out of my ears. Customising the ear bud size is a small feature which makes a huge difference. Even when I'm running, they don't fall out easily. Combine this with the high quality textile cord and you have a very comfortable pair of headphones.

In terms of sound quality, these are plenty loud and appear to have the same or similar quality to my regular wired headphones. I'm very happy with the quality I receive when I'm listening to music on the tube or a podcast at the gym. As a regular listener, I would say the Tio is perfect for my needs.

At £59, these headphones are much less expensive than many of the wireless headphones I've seen so far - and, as I mentioned, much more stylish. If you use the discount code jenloumeredith you can get an additional 15% off! Sudio also offer a range of other headphones, including on-ear, over-ear, wireless buds and other wireless in-ear designs. Browse the Sudio website here, and let me know your favourite pair in the comments section below!

My current playlistthank u, next - Ariana Grande
How Can I Make You Stay - Joseph J. Jones
Strip (feat. Sharaya J) - Little Mix
Truthfully - DNCE
Sara - Fleetwood Mac
Here You Come Again - Charlotte Day Wilson

Podcasts I'm listening toMy Favourite Murder
Girlboss Radio
Happier with Gretchen Rubin


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A couple of weeks ago, I did something that I had always been curious about. I got eyelash extensions. And it has been my favourite non-invasive cosmetic procedure to date.

I've had acrylic nails (pretty, but really chewed up my real nails, and a nightmare to remove), hair extensions (I had micro-rings and they felt awful. I couldn't wear my hair up, or brush it properly) and an eyebrow tint (quite pointless as I have dark eyebrows anyway, but I was bored). No, my list of treatments may not match Kim Kardashian's, but as a beauty writer I've either had or witnessed most procedures - and I have to say that, out of all of them, I could get addicted to eyelash extensions.

One of the best things about them is that they're completely tailored to your look. For me, it was all about having naturally fuller and longer looking lashes. However, you might want to go full glam instead. It's all down to what you prefer and what your technician recommends. Eyelash extensions can be found in a range of lengths, thickness and degrees of curl for a perfectly personalised look.

Before
For my treatment, I went to Lashes By Beckie, who is a certified Novalash technician. For the entirety of the appointment, I was lying down on a comfy beauty bed, which was fine by me. There's nothing more enticing than literally doing nothing for an hour and a half. We had the radio on, as well as the soft hum of Beckie's fan (it was late July and baking), and it just felt like a relaxing evening with a friend.

Beckie placed adhesive strips over my lower lashes to keep them out of the way. This was a weird feeling at first - as if someone was softly pulling your lower lid down - but I soon forgot about it. The hard part was keeping my eyes shut. I'm a blinker, for some reason. I blink a lot, and I didn't really realise that until this appointment. I was just so tempted to open my eyes to blink. But I urge you to keep them shut, and there are two reasons for this. Firstly, opening your eyes will let the eyelash glue seep in which, although it's not going to blind you, can leave you with bloodshot eyes for a couple of days. Secondly, you'll annoy your technician - it's kind of similar to someone moving their hands around at a nail appointment.

After

Every so often, Beckie would use a small dryer to set the lash glue. This was a weirdly nice sensation, as the air felt cool and seemed to stop my eyes from watering from the fumes of the glue. Another little treat was the ocassional brushing of the lashes with a tiny spooly - again, oddly satisfying. And you'll probably find yourself doing this at home with your own spooly to stop any criss-crossing or wonky eyelashes.

Once Beckie had finished applying the lashes, and they had dried, I took a look in her mirror and fell in love with the results. I'm an unfortunate member of the short-eyelash-group, so it was a real treat to be able to have that extra length framing my eyes. I feel more 'feminine', which is an odd thing to say as my boyfriend has lovely, long, thick eyelashes (and what does 'feminine' even look like, anyway?) but I just feel like the word epitomises their appearance.

The great thing about Novalash extensions is that they're water and oil resistant, so you can get them wet or wear them with makeup. However, since my appointment, I haven't worn makeup as I'm so happy with how the lashes make me look 'done'.

Two weeks have passed and, although a few have dropped out with the completely normal growth and fallout of my natural lashes, the falsies still appear long and full. I give them a gentle comb every other day, and avoid rubbing them, as I find that this is helping their longevity. Infills are recommended every two to three weeks to keep lashes looking full, but if you're not planning to top up, expect the lashes to completely fall out within six weeks.
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It's so easy to get caught up in junk TV these days. With so much choice available, you can often find that hours go by and you feel like you haven't really 'done' anything. For me, I like to find programmes that are inspiring or provoking in some way - so you won't generally catch me down a Love Island-hole (in fact, the 2018 series was so boring that I stopped watching halfway through).

It's not that I'm a TV snob. I have nothing against epople who watch a little TV to relax and switch off - I totally get that. But I just love programmes which either start a conversation, prod at your sense of humour, or inspire you to do more with your life, which is why I adore the series I've listed below (and they're even better if you watch them on a great TV - try these on for size: HD Televisions Panasonic).

The Bold Type
c/o Instagram @theboldtypetv
After The Devil Wears Prada sparked my lifelong love affair with fashion journalism, I had been searching for another film or TV programme to match up to the hype. And then The Bold Type came along. This series is like TDWP crossed with Girls, and is actually based on the life of former Cosmo editor-in-chief Joanna Coles (a big inspiration to me).

It's based around three friends and colleagues working at a magazine called Scarlett, whilst living in New York and dealing with love, life and sex. It's lighthearted and fun, with a certain amount of relatability and a lot of inspiration for modern, young, aspiring fashion journalists.

Absolutely Fabulous
c/o Instagram @abfabmovie
If you ever find yourself in need of something a little more British, then Ab Fab is the one. It'll tell you everything you need to know about what NOT to do when working in fashion PR, and give you a lot of laughs along the way.

Starring Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders, perhaps my two favourite British comedy actresses, this series has been really sporadic across its 20 years in production. But it has always charmed its way to the top of my TV viewing list.

How to Get Away with Murder
c/o Instagram @howtogetawaywithmurder
Shonda Rhimes blows my mind with how many great TV shows she's behind, and How to Get Away with Murder does not disappoint. The show will either make you want to become a criminal lawyer or law professor, or completely scare you off.

It's gripping, engaging, thought-provoking and will make you hungry for more. Plus, it plays into that millennial obsession with death and morbidity. We're a strange lot, aren't we?

The Carrie Diaries
c/o Instagram @thecarriediariesofficial
This frothy teen drama follows the life of everyone's favourite New York fashion-obsessed columnist, Carrie Bradshaw, during the 80s when she was an intern. Starring AnnaSophia Robb, the show was cancelled after two seasons, but while it ran it was a fleeting look into the determination and persistence of a young woman in a big city, trying to pursure the career of her dreams.

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I've pretty much always been in a relationship. Since high school, I've lived my life with my partner at my side. In fact, I can't really remember being single. And I'm happy with that - I'm one of those lucky, smug people who found their soulmate young.

But when you reach a certain point in your twenties (especially if you're from a small town), you start to get 'the questions'. They'll often pop up at weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, births - any 'do' which involves family, really. And you'll come to expect them; you'll start bracing yourself once you spot Aunt Helen sidling her way up to you while you're stocking up on mushroom vol-au-vents, because you know what'll come next.

It always starts with 'so'.
"So, have you found a house yet?"
"So, when is *** going to propose?"
"So, when am I going to get a grandchild?"

Or it'll be the ominous 'you're next', as if you're about to become the victim of a rampant serial killer making his way through unsuspecting freelance journalists. Whether it's at your cousin's engagement party or your brother's wedding, it's automatically assumed that you'll be next on the list for a relationship milestone because the family member closest in age to you is your nephew, and he's only twelve. Lucky shit.

And I know it's all meant in the nicest of ways (or is it? I'll consider writing about the detrimental effects of pushy family members in another post), and that the uncle you haven't seen in a year really does just want to know how you're getting on. But, what if you don't even know?

There's definitely an unspoken plan that you're expected to follow when you're in a relationship: get a place together, get engaged, married, have kids, try not to get divorced, die. But what if you're not really that fussed about all those things (apart from dying - you can't really get out of that one)? I've never been someone to gush over the thought of a dream wedding with a frothy white dress, or feel an overwhelming tug in my ovaries when I hear a child cry. In fact, I don't like kids. And I'm not really that bothered about getting married.

I've come to a crossroads
I've been thinking about this plan a lot lately, and how differently I picture my future in comparison. But a recent event has made my mind go into overdrive. One of my oldest friends has just got engaged.

Of course, I love her and I'm so happy for her. As much as it may seem from my cynical tone and sarcastic humour, I'm not bitter (I'm just a journalist). I couldn't think of a person anymore deserving of a happy relationship, and I can't wait to see her happier than ever on her wedding day.

However, it has made me think of my own future, and how I'm going to cope when everyone I know embarks on the road to marriage and kids. Everyone has that unmarried, child-free friend who tries to phone up when you're battling through a terrible-twos-tantrum, and gets a little bit more disappointed every time you decline their offer of a vino down the local. Will that be me?

It might seem selfish, but that genuinely worries me. Who wants to be the last one standing when the lights come on, and everyone else has moved on? From what I've read, I'm not the only one who feels this way - although the majority of others in this boat are single. I'm happy where I am in my relationship; my partner is happy, too. I just need a chance to - for lack of a less cliché phrase - find myself.

What next?
My plan is to travel. Travel until there is nowhere else to explore, until I'm experienced enough to know what I want out of life, until I'm ready to embark down that road (or not, as it might turn out). I want to make more friends, with likeminded people who also don't really know what they're doing, and have stories to tell. I want to take photos of amazing things, and learn about cultures that I never knew existed, and eat food that I've never tried before (oh, the food - possibly my largest motivation).

I've thought about travelling for a while now, and now that it's written down, I have to do it. And if anyone I know personally knows a thing or two about it, or wants to come with me - hit me up. It'd be great to have a companion on this next leg of my journey.

Where I've been, and where I want to go
Although the countryside has and always will be my home, I love visiting cities. I'm not really one to laze about on a beach, because I feel like there's so much I'm missing out on. The cities I've visited have always been vibrant, bustling and exciting - apart from Monte Carlo, which really does feel like a billionaire's playground.

Although I would definitely be open to exploring other areas, cities are where I'm best suited, as I feel it's so much easier to get around for a first-time visitor. I'm dying to go to Australia and visit Sydney and Cairns, so I think that'll be first on my list. And there are a few places I want to visit again, like Los Angeles (especially), Paris, Rome and Amsterdam, as these are some of my favourite cities.

Manila
Los Angeles
San Francisco
Orlando
Barcelona
Rome
Monte Carlo
Nice
Paris 
Amsterdam
Antwerp
Sydney/Cairns
Reykjavic
Dubrovnik
Venice
Positano
Santorini
Mykonos
Copenhagen
Tokyo
Singapore
New York
Vancouver
Los Angeles (again)
Las Vegas
Honolulu
Edinburgh
Dubai
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