6 Places Worth Visiting on the Gold Coast

Gold Coast, Queensland, AustraliaFrom Brisbane we have access to two epic coasts, the Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane, and the Gold Coast, south of Brisbane. While I prefer the Sunshine Coast, one can still find charm along the Gold Coast. This coast is known as the Las Vegas of Australia, filled with gimmicky restaurants, clubs, and casinos. But there is no denying that it is home to some of the best beaches in the world, you just might have to look a bit harder for authentic experiences. Luckily I made it easy for you and thought I would share jaunt and flaunt’s picks for the Gold Coast and surrounds.
North Stradbroke Island, Queensland, AustraliaNorth Stradbroke Island
Located along the delta of the Brisbane River, this island is the second largest sand island in the world. It is accessed by ferry from Cleveland, offering the quintessential Australian island experience. Head to Cylinder Beach to stay, walk, surf, swim, the list goes on. Point Lookout offers basic shops, and restaurants for breakfast and fish and chips. Though the short North Gorge Walk offers the best views in South East Queensland, at one point my brother and I spotted whales, dolphins, rays, turtles, and kangaroos in just 30 minutes. I also really enjoyed going to the Point Lookout Surf Life Saving Club at sunset to watch the hard-core surfers battle the huge waves. Another good spot is the Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel for classic bar fare overlooking Cylinder Beach. But one can’t miss out on fresh oysters, along with every other seafood, from Amity. Ask the locals and they’ll point you in the right direction for purchasing the catch of the day from one of the many local fishermen. And if you’re adventurous, go snorkelling or scuba diving at Flat Rock, just ensure it’s a calm day (I speak from experience).
North Stradbroke Island, Queensland, AustraliaNobby Beach
I enjoy this beach, as it’s one of the less popular beaches and secluded from the Gold Coast Highway. Though it still offers the expanse of what Gold Coast beaches are known for. It also has a great Surf Life Saving Club, and cute cafes and restaurants for something to eat!
North Stradbroke Island, Queensland, AustraliaGold Coast, Queensland, AustraliaBurleigh Heads
This is my favourite suburb of the Gold Coast, located between Surfer’s Paradise and Coolangatta. With a mix of beach and forests along Tallebudgera Creek, it has a great, small town feel! I love browsing the shops, cafes, and restaurants along James Street, while devouring an Acai berry bowl. Although, the Wood Box and Plantation House Cafes in West Burleigh along Tallebudgera Creek Road are worth the short drive inland.
North Stradbroke Island, Queensland, Australia

Quicksilver Pro Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Yes, as soon as I arrived, Kelly Slater ran past me after his winning surf!

Coolangatta
I think this Gold Coast suburb represents the Gold Coast of past, present, and future. Go here for the most authentic Gold Coast experience. Even better visit during the Roxy/Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast at Snapper Rocks to see the likes of Kelly Slater surf for the championship. The whole town is surf centred, making it the perfect place to learn to surf, which I did many years ago!
Gold Coast, Queensland, AustraliaSpringbrook National Park
Each coast has beautiful hinterland, that only adds to the South East Queensland coastal experience. Springbrook National Park has been on my list for a while now, as I can’t get past the photos of the Natural Bridge with glow worms in Cave Creek, along with all the other waterfalls.
Skywalk, Mount Tamborine, Queensland, AustraliaMount Tamborine
For more hinterland experiences, head to Mount Tamborine. It is a bit more developed with artisan shops dotting the main road, along with vast selections of bed and breakfasts. But the trails will not disappoint. And if you don’t feel like exhausting yourself with bush walks, but still want the classic experience, the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk is the place.Skywalk, Mount Tamborine, Queensland, Australia

5 Pro Tips for Mastering Travel Photography

I’m so excited to introduce you to the latest contribution from my dear friends at favourite hello photography. Courtney and Ashley were kind enough to offer their photography expertise and travel experience to provide the most inspiring travel photography tips. I’ve learnt so much already and I know you will too. Take it away Ashley!

Here at favourite hello photography we are travel bugs. Between Courtney and I, we believe it’s safe to say we have become seasoned trekkers. From Australia to China, and California to Cuba, we’ve smelt the flowers, sampled the scary foods, rented the mopeds, and shared laughs with the locals. We also learned a thing or two about ourselves along the open road.

Based out of Toronto (Meghan’s hometown), we are a photography team with a collaborative approach and playful eye. Our company believes in authenticity, and we do our best to capture every client’s authentic self in a candid, untraditional, or photojournalistic style.

We met Meghan long ago while we were all living in Vancouver, and had the pleasure of shooting the blogger at a dear friend’s wedding last summer. When she asked us to share with you our top tips for getting awesome pictures while travelling, we happily got pen to paper.

As I’m sure jaunt and flaunt would attest – a great traveller finds the balance between both sitting back and watching, along with immersing one’s self in the culture of a new place. But a great travel photographer, while watching life go by in the cafes or jumping in with the locals, takes notes of how this foreign territory makes them feel. Those new feelings from the sights and smells are what you are working on capturing in your photographs. Which brings us to our favourite tips for destination photography…

oldvietnamesefruitsellercr

Before arriving in Vietnam we researched and found that this floating market was one of the biggest and most local experiences to have. We left from our home stay before sunrise, through the canals and into this mass expanse of market. It was one of the most photogenic experiences I’ve ever had and remember it well to this day. This man caught my eye because of his warm demeanour. One of my favourite photos to this day.

  1. Find your favourite hello!
    What did you come to “insert destination” for? A favourite hello is the photograph that evokes the most emotions – nostalgia, joy, all those warm, fuzzy feelings; it could be a person, place, or thing. Whatever your reason for travel, go with it. Let’s say it’s the food that brought you toItalyfor example. If you’re a brave soul, research the strangest dish and go find it. Photograph it in a new way. Instead of just pointing the camera at your dish, photograph how it’s made, where the ingredients come from, who’s making it, and what’s their story? So our tip is find the inspiration that made you board the plane andgetphotojournalistic. That way when you return, you will have a photograph that can take you back at a single glance.

    thaiboyanddogcr

    This was taken in remote Northern Thailand, away from the throngs of tourist beaches and full moon parties. We were guided there after befriending a local Thai woman and her amazing coffee stand in Chiang Mai. She recommended a “friend” and we felt enough of a connection with her to trust her and our guts, and off we went. This young boy followed me everywhere. I suppose he’d never seen a camera before. I knew he was following me so I quickly turned around and caught him climbing the stairs following me as his pup followed faithfully behind him.

  1. Do. Your. Research.
    Ensure you are sensitive to the local culture and beliefs. The last thing you want to do is offend someone. A great travel photographer always asks permission if you’re shooting someone up close and personal. After all, some cultures believe that a camera can capture their soul – literally. So sit with the people on the streets. Don’t worry that you don’t speak the same language. Share a candy; break the ice with a smile, what’s the worst that can happen? Someone says no to a photo – no problem, you move on. Don’t miss the dream shot because you are feeling a little awkward. Collaborate with the people around you. Most locals are so proud of their country, city, or culture and they are eager to share this with the right person. But be warned, if you don’t want to research hopefully you’re a fast talker, or quick runner.

    seattleboardwalksunsetcr

    This photo was taken at the Seattle Harbourfront near all the touristy restaurants and fish markets. After wandering and exploring all the “traps” we ventured along the boardwalk away from the crowds. I dropped down low and captured this scene of a beautiful sunset, the ocean and the aftermath of a warm summer rain storm, something so ironically Seattle.

  1. What’s your angle?
    The best advice we can give for a tourist spotthathas been photographed over and over, is to find that angle that no one else has. There’s always an angle. Say for instance the Eiffel Tower, one of the most photographed landmarks of all time. Lay on your back below it and shoot up or get up ‘birds eye view’ high from a balcony nearby. Do whatever you can to find that different perspective and use your creativity. Find subject matter around the Tower; use people as your subject with the Tower out of focus in the background. Please don’t limit yourself to the straight on shot and don’t rush it. Spend time looking around you and don’t leave until you’ve exhausted every angle possible.

    shadowscr

    This photo was taken in Toronto, Ontario, our hometown. It was actually taken during what are considered to be the nightmare hours of lighting during the day (between 12-2). This is said because the sun is directly above and creates strong and harsh shadows. I decided to use the strong shadows to my advantage. The bike rack symmetry created visually pleasing ​​​lines in front of ​an incredible piece of graffiti ​art. Everything pops in this photo, probably why again, it is one of our favourites.

  1. Light it up!
    We could go on for days and days talking about photography. Here is all you need to know – lighting is key. Photography is in fact nothing without light. But this doesn’t mean you need to wait until the sunniest day of your trip. Yes there are key times to shoot in the day, before noon and after 2:00pm are most desirable. But we don’t always have much control of what time we arrive at the Mayan Ruins, so luckily there are exceptions. Use lighting or lack there of as your inspiration and you’ll be hard pressed to run out of ideas. Whatever conditions you find yourself, look for interesting patterns, from reflections to beautiful shadows casts, which can elongate your shots or create a scene within a scene. Warm lights (early morning just after sunrise and early evening just before sunset) work really well for a romantic feel. Strong shadows make for amazing contrast in your photos – my personal favourite. Again,likeassessing your new environment for different angles, it’s important to do the same for lighting.

    cambodiafamilydirtroadcr

    This was taken in Laos on a warm sunny day. We rented bikes and got very​, ​very far off the beaten path​…to the point of being lost​. We found this family coming home from the market. All of them, including the small children were carrying produce on their heads back to their home for a family dinner. ​​They stared at us, for sure they had only seen a hand full of “farang” (foreigners) before.

  1. Get lost!
    Lastly and most importantly, get off the beaten trail and go find where the local are, avoiding the line-ups and bus rides. Most tourist destinations are overrun with throngs of sightseers disrupting that perfect shot. Instead shoot down random back alleys (safely of course), take photos at dingy hole in the wall restaurants, capture where the locals shop. Our advice, to allocate a few days if you can to just roaming and going with the wind, and ALWAYS be camera ready. Some of our most cherished photos are from times that were unexpected.

Thanks Ashley and Courtney! For more from this dynamic photography team check out their website, or find them on Instagram and Facebook.

Gifts to Make any Traveller Smile

How is everyone doing with holiday preparations? Christmas creeped up on me this year and got me scrambling to get Christmas presents shipped in time. Unfortunately, I won’t have a white Christmas surrounded by my family in Canada, but this is a reality of living abroad. Christmas is the worst time of year to travel, especially from the opposite end of the world. Though, after three years I’m still not accustomed to a tropical Christmas, hence the scrambling. So to stay connected to those I love, I rely on an array of online retailers and mail meaningful Christmas cards. If you’re looking for a special something to put a smile on a fellow traveller’s face, you’re in the right place. Here you’ll find gift options of various budgets and all available through online retailers. Happy Holidays!

Artefact Uprising Photo BookMeaningful Photo Book

HarLex Personalised Luggage TagPersonalised Leather Luggage Tag

Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World

GoPro HeroGoPro Hero

Kikki.K My Travel Notes: MinimalistMinimalist Travel Journal

Go-To ExceptionoilExceptionoil

Wild by Cheryl StrayedWild by Cheryl Strayed

Michael Kors Runaway Silver Chronograph WatchStainless Steel Watch

MiaoMiaoDesign Eat Well Travel Often PrintInspirational Travel Quote Print

Slip Sleep MaskSilk Eye Mask

Bose QueitComfort 3 Acoustic Noise Cancelling HeadphonesNoise Cancelling Headphones

Subscribe Conde Nast TravelerYear Subscription to Condé Nast Traveler

For photo sources click on photos/links.

6 Tips for Staying Healthy While Travelling

Tips for Staying HealthyWhen travelling, maintaining your health is usually the last thing on your mind. Who would say no to gelato in Florence or croissants in Paris? After all, enjoying authentic, local food is one of the best aspects of travelling, along with taking a break from your usual routine. I’m all about balance, so here are a few easy things that can help you keep your health in check without sacrificing your enjoyment.

1. Lemon Water to Start your Day
I recently started drinking a glass of water with the juice of half a lemon first thing in the morning. Hot or cold, it’s incredibly refreshing, as well as cleansing and hydrating. No matter what you got up to the day before, this easy elixir acts as a little restart for each day of your travels.

2. Always Green Tea
It’s no secret that I’m a tea drinker, specifically green tea obsessed. I know green tea is an acquired taste, but the benefits cannot be ignored. This is another great way to start your day, ultimately kick starting your metabolism, and balancing out any of those bad habits from the day before.

3. Walk and Take the Stairs
Choosing to walk and take the stairs when possible is probably the easiest adjustment you can do on your travels. You won’t even notice the calories melting away, as you explore new neighbourhoods and towns. For example, I only fit into my skinny jeans when living in London, not because I watched what I ate or worked out religiously, but because I walked EVERYWHERE.

4. Local Activities that Get you Moving
Depending on your trip, there might be some activities available that get you moving. For example, walking a section of the Camino de Santiago in Spain, snorkeling in the Caribbean, or rafting the Colorado River. These activities would balance out any relaxing or attraction heavy trips.

5. Rest Days
I would advice taking a morning, afternoon, or full day of rest at least once per week on your travels. Whether it’s a sleep in, afternoon nap, or a full day in bed ordering room service, it’s important to take some time out so you don’t get burnt out.

6. Mint Leaf Tea to End your Day
This is another easy elixir to cleanse and balance out any bad habits. When out to dinner and the time comes for dessert and coffee, ask for some mint leaf tea instead. Usually restaurants have some mint leaves lying around, making them an easy addition to hot water.

And don’t forget to stay sun smart!

The Day I Realized I am not Invincible

Healing

Sparkly toe nails and Claude cheering me up!

Some of you might have noticed I took a little break from jaunt and flaunt. The following will explain why. I was feeling a bit off recently, summer had arrived early in Brisbane, with it allergies, creepy crawlies, and blistering heat! I promised myself I would make adjustments this year to deal with my least favourite season in Australia, and luckily they were working. Then I visited my dermatologist for my annual skin check, a necessity while living in Australia, the skin cancer capital of the world.

It had actually been 18 months since my last skin check, you could say I was putting it off, mostly due to the cost (don’t get me started), as I had to see a specialist for the large amount of moles that I have. I was concerned about one mole in particular, but to anyone else, including my dermatologist, it looked like any other mole on my body. My dermatologist explained what she looks for to indicate melanoma:
A – Asymmetry
B – irregular Border
C – uneven Colour
D – Diameter usually over 6mm
And the most evil of them all…
E – Evolution

When I told her a mole on my leg quickly appeared during the past year or so, she decided to take a biopsy. Since it didn’t qualify under any of the other characteristics, she thought it was just a non-melanoma skin cancer that we would monitor or easily remove. I’m also hypersensitive to all that medical stuff and have a low pain threshold, so you can imagine the biopsy was far from pleasant. But I left the office, hoping for the best.

The next day everything changed when I was informed my biopsy results indicated stage 1 melanoma. My initial reaction was fear, scared of what all of this meant. But ultimately I realised I was no longer the invincible, youthful person I thought I was. I was just like most people out there who thought it could never happen to me. Though, I’m lucky I paid attention to my body, trusted my instincts, and caught this early.

The one thing I never said was “Why me?”. I knew why it was me; just like a smoker diagnosed with lung cancer, I embraced the Sun and reveled in my sun-kissed golden skin like many other people in my life. I have Mediterranean skin tone, which made me low risk, but I also have a lot of moles, which made me high risk. I will never know exactly what caused my melanoma, but I can assume what it might be from. It could be when I was sunburnt as a child, as I threw fits when my parents would put sunscreen on me, I hated when they wouldn’t rub it in all the way and I had to wait to go swimming. It could be when I used tanning beds a handful of times and tanning oil instead of sunscreen as a teenager. It could be when I binge tanned on any warm vacation I took. Or it could be when I was very sun smart while living in Australia, but couldn’t avoid the strength of the sun here.

During my 28 years I learnt to love my moles, as each has an identity. I know which mole is my boyfriend’s favourite one, a mole on each palm of my hands makes me incredibly unique, and sometimes I match the moles on my forearms with constellations. However, this mole’s identity wasn’t as charming.

My next reaction was, “Get this thing out of me, I don’t want anything to do with it!”. I have since had my melanoma quickly removed, which was a big deal for me. I’ve never had a broken bone, stitches, or even a bee sting (thankfully). I look at my bandaged leg now and try to look past the scar forming underneath and think about my plan for the future.

Living in Australia makes it impossible to avoid the Sun, but there are still steps I can take to ensure a healthy future for myself. The day before my surgery I bought a wide-brimmed hat, now I’m on the look out for a long sleeve sun shirt. I’ll continue to walk, stand, and sit in the shade when possible. Applying sunscreen to any exposed skin will become part of my daily routine, as I only applied sunscreen to my face daily to combat my fear of wrinkles. And I will have to get frequent skin checks for the rest of my life.

Believe it or not, I consider myself lucky now that I caught my melanoma early and gained a new perspective on my health. Though the initial blow was shocking and sad, it was what I needed to hear to make healthy changes in my life. I was like many of you, who don’t see the harm in a little tan every now and again. This is why I’m sharing this with you, as I hope it can inspire you to evaluate your relationship with the Sun and make the adjustments you need to stay healthy.

First and foremost, know your body, like many women are taught to give themselves breast exams, monitor your skin and moles. Next, talk to your doctor about regular skin checks. Also, trust your instincts, you know your body best and are your best advocate. Finally, be sun smart, as cheesy as it sounds, SLIP on a shirt, SLAP on a hat, and SLOP on sunscreen.

For more information about melanoma, check this out.