My Dream Summer Holiday | DESIGN IS YAY!

It’s summer time here on my side of the world (Australia, that is)! Having lived in tropical countries all of my life, beach holidays have always been my first choice when I need a short but really fun getaway. My favourite thing about beach holidays is that I know that I would be in full relaxation mode. I don’t have to plan an itinerary or explore too many places, because all I would want to do is to lay down by the beach, sipping cocktails. Or maybe mocktails and sodas for my current preggo state.

Since the holiday season is almost coming, it’s time to start planning your vacation, if you haven’t. Today I’m sharing 5 summer holiday destinations that I dream about when the days are getting warmer

  1. The Oyster Inn, Waiheke Island
    I fell in love with this place the first time I saw their branding. Yes, I know how weird that sounds, but we designers tend to judge a lot of things by their branding. The Oyster Inn is located just 35 minutes ferry ride away from Auckland, consisting of a seafood restaurant, bar, private room, beach shop, take-away and small but luxury boutique accommodation, all in one place! They have only three rooms available, all decorated with simple whitewashed tropical theme with touches of yellow. Their very own vintage yellow Kombi van will collect guests going or arriving to/from Auckland by the ferry. Such a perfect place for a relaxing getaway with partners or small families.
  2. Halcyon House, Cabarita Beach
    I have never seen any bad photos of the Halcyon house. It seems like everything about this place is so instagrammable (yes, that’s how we describe places that are too beautiful to be true). I would have thought that Halcyon House is a luxury accommodation in the Mediterranean region, except that it’s only somewhere between Byron Bay and Gold Coast. They have 6 types of rooms, all decorated in classic 1960s themed Australian beach motel style, but no two rooms are exactly the same. Would be a great idea for girls getaway or a fancy bridal shower!
  3. Wanaka, South Island NZ *
    I love Wanaka. I’ve been there for my honeymoon in September 2012, and I would love to go there again one day. It’s true that it’s not exactly a beach town. But unlike its nearby popular holiday destination, Queenstown, Wanaka doesn’t give you the ski town feeling that reminds you of winter. Wanaka is so serene and relaxing, with little cafes, boutiques and fish & chips shop all around. There are so many things to do in Wanaka, if you’re into water sports and outdoor activities. Otherwise, spread your picnic mat by the lake and enjoy the peacefulness of the surroundings, or take a day trip or two to Arrowtown and Queenstown.
  4. Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, Watsons Bay
    This coastal chic boutique hotel is located not far from Sydney CBD. Taking a ferry is recommended and you’ll get to watch stunning views on the way. The perfect getaway location if you’re living in the NSW or ACT, and simply want a couple of days away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I’m mostly attracted to their stylish Beach club, it seems like the perfect place to watch the sun goes down.
  5. Jeeva Klui Resort, Lombok *
    If you don’t feel like going to Bali for some reason (but that reason better not be “because Bali is a dangerous and rowdy place”. It is not, it all depends on where you go and what you do. Just like in any other cities in this world), its next door neighbour, Lombok, is a beauty of its own. I visited Lombok when I was really young and hated it because there was nothing there, and I went there again for the second time during my early 20s, and I had a blast. The beaches are clean, the food are delicious, and the resorts are amazing and reasonably priced. I had a nice stay at the beach-side Qunci Villas at that time, but another resort that caught my attention during my hotel and resort visits (yes, I do that!) was Jeeva Klui. From what I hear, Jeeva Klui is getting bigger and better now. One of my favourite things to do in Lombok is visiting nearby islands, the Gilis, with a private local tour guide. There are so many local private tour guides to get you around comfortably in Lombok, all you have to do is ask around for recommendations on the reliable ones.

*These are the places that I’ve visited and had experiences on my own. 

Travelling with Airbnb in Europe  | Tips and tricks in choosing Aibnb in Europe | DESIGN IS YAY!

My first AirBnb experience was during my trip to Melbourne a few years back. I shared a two bedroom apartment unit in the city with the friendly female host. The apartment was in a convenient location, very clean, and the best thing of all, I paid AU$55 per night for a single occupancy in the room. Where else can I stay in a city location in Melbourne for that kind of price?

When I was planning my family trip to Europe, I realised that staying in good locations in Europe don’t come cheap. So I decided to go through AirBnB to find suitable accommodations, and I’m so glad that I did.

My way of searching an AirBnb accommodation in each city goes in this order: Location, reviews, photos. Read the reviews THOROUGHLY. I made the biggest mistake in booking an AirBnB accommodation in Singapore just by looking at the location, photographs, and first few reviews. Turns out that the real unit is nothing like the photograph, and it was very dirty and old. When I checked back on the listing and read more reviews, turns out that the host owns a few apartments in the same building, and you could get the nicer units when they are vacant (although still completely different from the photographs shown), but during peak season you will most likely be stuck with that rundown unit.

With AirBnB, you can find accommodations in good location at a cheaper price than 3-5 star hotels in the same location. There is no way that we could afford staying in a hotel around the Champs-Élysées in Paris, or had the experience of staying in a snow chalet overlooking Mount Eiger in Grindelwald, but we did all of those, thanks to AirBnB. A lot of the properties are nicely decorated and fitted with furnitures that make you feel like home.

Since there were the four of us in the trip, it made sense if we booked the whole apartment for ourselves. We met the hosts in a convenient location in the respective cities once we arrived, they helped us find the apartment and get settled, explained how things work in the unit, gave us the key and we said goodbye. Upon leaving, we left the key inside the apartment and locked the doors from outside. The procedures are very simple and they don’t have to disrupt your schedule to explore the city. AirBnB is also a good choice when travelling solo, because most hosts will have a solo rate and you could share the unit with another traveller or the host in the other room. With this type of arrangement, you need to make sure that the host and the rules suits your travelling personality. If you are someone who prefers to go “home” from a whole day of exploring to have a quiet good night sleep, it will not be a good idea to have a host who allows partying or social events inside the unit.

The good thing about staying in AirBnB in Europe is that they provide facilities that you will definitely need, such as washer & dryer, kitchen with equipments and WiFi. Laundry facilities is crucial when you’re travelling to different countries/cities on a train, because at some point you will need to wash your clothes. Kitchen is optional for me because I prefer to eat out when travelling, but it was nice to have a stove to boil some water for my instant noodles or hot beverages. Wifi is definitely needed because mobile phone data is precious in Europe.

There are some things that you be aware of when booking your accommodation in Europe. European apartments are tinier than most Australian or Indonesian apartments, that I know of. So even though they do provide enough beds for your number of guests, you should also gauge the size of the unit from the photographs, the reviews, or simply ask the host. If your family consist of tall humans like mine, it was quite claustrophobic to be in a tiny two bedroom Paris loft-style apartment, which has the size of a studio apartment in Melbourne!

When choosing your location, be aware of the surroundings. We chose an apartment right across the street from the Fire Station in Amsterdam that we did not know before. Even though it was a lovely location and a nice unit near Anne Frank House, it was still unpleasant when the Fire Brigade sound their siren, especially at night time. Some locations might be a little noisier when they are located close to the nightclubs or cafes that open till late.

Be aware of the condition of the staircases. I don’t really get tired or too out-of-breath from climbing the stairs, as long as they have decent wideness and steepness. So when I read that some of the accommodations I was booking have stairs that concern some people, it didn’t bother me. As it turns out, they are very narrow and steep, they made me feel like I was climbing a mountain enclosed with walls, and bear in mind we had our luggages too. It was a first-time experience, so I laughed it off. But on my next holiday, I will definitely ask about the stairs.

Since most AirBnB accommodations are located in residential area, and not hotel areas, there’s a chance that you might stay in less touristy but equally beautiful areas. My AirBnB in Rome was located in Trastevere, it was walking distance to Piazza Navona, but the apartment area itself is the highlight of my trip in Rome. Hosts will happily share the hidden gems around the area or the city, which is another reason to love AirBnB. You will get to experience certain things that you won’t get when staying in a hotel and relying on their concierge and travel guide books.

The most important thing is to read the reviews thoroughly and ask a lot of questions based on your needs (bringing an older person, bringing a baby or toddler, being claustrophobic, etc). But based on my experiences when staying in AirBnB in Europe, I highly recommend it for travellers, and I hope that my tips could be useful in searching for the right AirBnB for yourself!

Have you stayed in an AirBnB before? How would you describe your experience?

This post is not sponsored by AirBnB, I wrote it based on my personal experiences, and thought that they might be useful for you.
Special Offer: Get $34 AirBnB credit for your next travel. Happy Travels!



Planning tips for Europe Trip | DESIGN IS YAY!

Planning a trip to places you’ve never been before could be very challenging. Looking back at how I planned my Europe trip, there are certain things that I wish I knew back then. But that’s the beauty of travelling, not only will you able to gain the experience in exploring new places, you also gain knowledge that might be useful in the future.

Europe trip was the hardest holiday that I’ve ever planned. Unlike the time when I went to U.S.A, Turkey, New Zealand or China, my holiday in Europe was totally dependent on public transports and maps without local people to guide us for most of the time. Nevertheless, we had a wonderful time during our trip in Europe, and I hope that anyone who have spent money and time to visit Europe would feel the same.

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Fauxdori Set Up for Travel | DESIGN IS YAY Just before I leave for my trip, I’d like to share with you how I set up my Fauxdori. As you know from my previous planner posts, I have always used ring planners from Kikki.K and Filofax. When I saw the Fauxdoris created by Cakepaperie, I became interested in trying out dori-style planners as they seem to be more flexible and lightweight, which is perfect for travelling! Let’s have a look at how I set it up. Fauxdori Set Up for Travel | DESIGN IS YAY I have always wanted a polkadot planner, I am so glad when I saw this in Cakepaperie’s shop. The pink tassle is an additional purchase, but I really like the colour contrast. The parisian notebook is by Rifle Paper Co, and the mint blue pen is from Kikki.K. Fauxdori Set Up for Travel | DESIGN IS YAY It’s impossible to find original Midori Travellers’ Notebook here in Canberra, and I hate to have to wait for days each time I need a new notebook because I have to buy them online. So I bought a set of Moleskine Cahier pastel journals and have them cut into Midori size at Officeworks. Moleskine journals are thicker than Midori, however the paper is thinner. Therefore your writings will show through at the back pages. I don’t really mind as I’m going to use journalling cards and postcards. Since this fauxdori doesn’t come with a pen loop, I had to add one on my own. I bought a Leuchtturm pen loop in blue to match my mint blue Kikki.K pen. The side pocket is also an additional stick-on pocket from Midori which I bought from Notemaker. Fauxdori Set Up for Travel | DESIGN IS YAY Fauxdori Set Up for Travel | DESIGN IS YAY The second half of my Fauxdori is a Travel Journal booklet that I designed and print on my own. I also added a folded pockets for my journalling kits and stamps. Fauxdori Set Up for Travel | DESIGN IS YAY Inside the Travel Journal, I have Itinerary pages which consists of boxes for flights/transportation (shaped like boarding passes) and accommodation itinerary (shaped like luggages tags). There are also travel checklist pages, but I had forgotten to take pictures! The next section is Bucket List, where I can put all the things I want to do, see, eat or drink in each country/city/place. Unfortunately I haven’t written much. Fauxdori Set Up for Travel | DESIGN IS YAY The zip pocket is where I keep all the washi tapes, stickers, sticky tapes and other planner goodies I’ll need for my journalling. Fauxdori Set Up for Travel | DESIGN IS YAY Fauxdori Set Up for Travel | DESIGN IS YAY Stationery makes me so happy <3 I hope you like my set up! If you’d like to see my other planner set up, check out My Kikki K Personal Planner Setup

Fauxdori Set Up for Travel | DESIGN IS YAY

Road Trip: Long Weekend in Wollongong | DESIGN IS YAY!

During the Labour Day weekend, my family and I went for a weekend getaway in Wollongong. We have never been to Wollongong, and we just wanted to find out what it’s like, since it’s only 2 hours and 40 minutes from Canberra. Also, I kinda miss being at the beach. The beach is very beautiful, I especially like the lighthouse side of the beach. We were lucky to have the sun out during both days we were there.

Road Trip: Long Weekend in Wollongong | DESIGN IS YAY!

See more photos after the jump!

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