10 Things You Should Know Before A Campervan Trip

8 November 2019




1. You may as well have ‘TOURIST’ tattooed on your forehead. Nothing says ‘I’m on my gap year!’ more than a converted minivan in a hideous colour combo (Jucy - full review here - I’m looking at you) and you’ll be longing to blend in with the locals in their lovely plain trucks that aren’t neon with a silly slogan like “do you believe in love at first sight, or should I drive by again?” on the side. The only upside maybe is driving past a fellow backpacker in a Wicked camper that has Scooby Doo smoking a joint painted on it and thinking ‘…thank god we’re not in that'.

2. You know how you used to go to the beach and at the end of the day you’re just dying to get home and have a shower? Well, the beach becomes your shower, whether that’s a dip in the ocean or (if you’re lucky) in one of those free outdoor ones. You’ll remember running water that’s actually hot with fondness, have to sweep a ton of sand out of your bed every night and won’t think twice about whipping out your Gillette Venus to shave your legs in front of strangers. 

3. You don’t have to live off instant noodles. I love an instant noodle pot as much as the next person (really I do, I actually have a proper thing for them!) but you essentially have a mini-kitchen in the back of your car and it’s a real shame not to put it to good use. Not only is it the cheapest option (you can get four gas canisters at Cole’s for $5, then just search online for inexpensive one-pot recipes) but it’s really fun, too - my fondest memories of our east-coast road trip in Australia are cooking a hearty meal and then sharing it together.

4. You kinda have to be okay with creepy crawlies. From a giant huntsman spider making its web on your left wing mirror to a huge monitor lizard roaming around your campsite, you’re likely to see a whole host of wildlife on your trip. When you’re sleeping outside things tend to go bump in the night, whether that’s a possum on your roof or a bush turkey (known by locals as “bin chickens”) ripping apart your rubbish bag. Whilst it’s annoying to have mosquitoes and moths all up in your grill, you do eventually stop jumping at every single rustling noise.

5. Making friends requires a little more effort! When you’re staying in hostels meeting people is a given; it happens constantly and you’re bound to find someone that you click with. On a road trip however it’s just you driving from place to place, so you have to create opportunities for new friendships. We met our newfound mates mostly in social settings (in bars, playing pool etc) and also largely in campsites - never be afraid to say “we’re having a fire later if you fancy coming over for a drink”, as in our experience it always led to a really nice time!

6. Living on wheels means thinking about parking constantly. Obviously when you check into campsites (download WikiCamps ASAP) and are in rural areas or small towns then everything’s gravy, but cities can be a nightmare. Bear in mind that parking laws are likely to be different to your home country, too - we once got slapped with a $112 fine for parking front to curb rather than rear to curb. Totally legal spot in a cute little Aussie town centre, just popped into a shop to buy my dad a birthday card… $112 fine! Double check your parking signs, people.

7. You won’t realise how big a country is until you drive the length of it. Some countries are absolutely gorgeous to drive - take New Zealand for example, every corner you turn looks like a screensaver desktop - and others are a heck of a lot of highways and nothingness. Ways to make driving less tedious and actually really enjoyable include: good music (I’m a big fan of the ‘Songs To Sing In The Car’ playlist on Spotify), good conversation (e.g. travel with someone who you get on ridiculously well with) and good podcasts (my current favourites are Table Manners and Jules & Sarah).

8. You’ll become an expert at packing quickly. Overslept and wanted to be on the road by 8am? No problemo - the fiddly camper van bed-to-car routine that you couldn’t work out on Day 1 is now an absolute doddle, and Yesterday You did Future You a favour by washing up the plates and pans from dinner last night, yay! In the beginning it takes you twenty minutes to get the table and camping chairs out for your morning muesli, and by Day 5 you’re whipping breakfast together and having everything all packed up again before you can say “Scooby Doo smoking a joint”.

9. Quarters are close. If you’re travelling solo then please feel free to skip to #10, but if you’re not - I’m here to warn you that things are about to get intimate. I’m sure the person you’re embarking on this road trip with is someone you know well anyway, but prepare to know them in more depth and detail that you ever thought possible. The phrase ’24/7’ springs to mind and it could be make or break in some situations, so make sure you’re ready for that level of closeness.

10. Sometimes it all gets a little too much. Well done if you recognised that Shawn Mendes lyric there, you’re forgiven if not - sometimes camper van life is just a bit much. The weather can be a big factor: sometimes it’s unforgivably hot and you’re a sweaty mess who’s swatting mosquitoes and praying for cooler weather, then a cold snap arrives and you’re wearing so many layers that you look like Joey in that Friends episode where he wears all of Chandler’s clothes, shivering vigorously and praying for warmer weather. If you get sick of it, there’s no shame in booking an Airbnb for a night or two!

I know that reading this prior to your road trip might make it sound like a bit of a bummer, but remember that these are all of the things that I wish someone had told me and it’s therefore mostly stuff I would’ve avoided. What I can also tell you is that I’m happy for you just typing this, as travelling by camper van is such a flexible, convenient and downright amazing way to see a country and you’re about to have an unforgettable trip of a lifetime - bon voyage!

The Amazing-Sounding Cleanser That Left Me Super Underwhelmed

5 November 2019



Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Cloud Cleanser

Described as
"a non-stripping, fragrance-free formula that gently removes makeup, excess oil and impurities whilst moisturising skin"

Meg says...
I'm finally trying a Peter Thomas Roth product and boy, am I ready! Most of this eagerness and enthusiasm is fuelled by The Anna Edit and her rave reviews of the Pumpkin Enzyme Mask, plus the sound of this marshmallow-infused cleanser has me all riled up. In an 'incredibly excited about trying some a new skincare brand' way, of course.

Packaging
I'm such a big fan - it's simple and no-fuss but pretty at the same time. I love the pale blue and there's something about the cloud print that makes me think of Ariana Grande which, let's be honest, is never anything but a positive.

Texture/consistency
This has a creamy-gel consistency that reminds me a lot of the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, just considerably thicker. They both have the same 'shiny' texture - it's super hard to explain, check Really Ree's review here for a close-up photo - and have quite a liquid soap feel to them.

Application
Under no circumstances should you apply this to dry skin, as the soapy quality has a tendency to 'drag' and is much better suited to damp skin. It's more similar to a gel cleanser than a cream, foams when you massage it in and rinses off with water. I'm not keen on foaming products at all as I usually find them stripping, and unfortunately this is no exception. The description says it can be used to remove makeup but I had an awful 'oww, I'm basically rubbing soap into my eyes and it really stings' experience when I tried and see it as a basic face wash rather than a first/second cleanse or makeup remover.

Scent/fragrance
Another gripe for me, sadly. This is fragrance-free, which will be amazing for sensitive skin types, but has a strong soapy chemical scent that I personally find really unpleasant.

Results
Skin that feels clean, but uncomfortably so - after I've used this my face feels tight and 'squeaky' and I can't apply serum, oil or anything that moisturises to compensate for the tightness quickly enough. Whilst I don't feel like this would be a great option for anyone whose skin leans more oily or more dry, if you're firmly in the 'normal' category then you may really enjoy this as a morning or post-gym wash.

Price
£23

The bottom line
Bad reviews make me a sad reviewer, but honesty is key: I've given this a fair chance but find it doesn't do anything for my skin, and will therefore be passing it on to a friend (who may love it!) It's a shame as the description sounds so up my street - I'm a huge fan of anything with hyaluronic acid and the description that says it has "pure water vapour drawn from the clouds" had me weak at the knees. My skin was left dry and a little irritated and I'm much more inclined to use my trusty Fresh Soy Face Cleanser, but I can't wait to try more from PTR as I have a feeling this is a one-off thing!

Photos by Megan Duffield Photography

Honest JUCY Campervan Review (Plus Helpful Tips & Advice)

29 October 2019



A month in a campervan travelling 3000km down the east coast of Australia, what an adventure hey? See this post for an in-depth itinerary of where to stay, what to do etc - and keep reading this one for a review of JUCY, one of the most popular rental companies for tourists travelling in the USA, Australia and New Zealand.


The idea is that you pick up the vehicle of your choice at one JUCY depot, have the journey of a lifetime and then drop it off at another. It's super simple but there are some real horror-story reviews out there, so I hope this sheds some light on things (from someone who wasn't entirely sure they were up for a month of camping, but ended up loving it!) 

Toying with the idea of buying a camper instead? We were too, but unless you've got the luxury of time to re-sell it, save the stress and go for a well-known rental instead. It's far more straightforward, insurance is covered and you won't spend the end of your trip asking for "serious offers only, please!" on Gumtree.

Choose

JUCY have various vehicles available - we went for the JUCY Crib, which is also referred to as the JUCY Cabana. It costed $45 per day, has 4x seats in the back that convert into a double bed that sleeps two, and (aside from the hideous green and purple exterior that screams 'I'm a tourist!'), we have absolutely no complaints. The JUCY team themselves were extremely friendly and helpful throughout the entire trip.

The JUCY Crib served our every need - the bed was surprisingly comfortable and quick to make once you got the hang of it, it was smooth to drive, really easy to keep clean and the 'kitchen' comes fully equipped with everything you need to cook your own meals.

Check

When you pick your JUCY up from the depot, thoroughly check the vehicle for any damage to avoid getting hit with 'there's a scratch on the door here, there's a chip on the windscreen there' fines that were actually the previous owner's fault, and not yours.

Make sure you know what to do in the unlikely event that you break down or get pulled over, and don't be embarrassed to ask any questions - neither of us had driven an automatic before so it was good to know what kind of gas it took, the fact that it used a footbrake rather than a handbrake and so on.

The only problem we encountered with our JUCY Crib was that halfway through our trip our fridge stopped working due to the cable being loose. We lost about $30 worth of food which was a shame, but JUCY resolved the issue really quickly by booking us into a nearby garage. We dropped Sheila off, went in search of a pie shop and by the time we came back, the fridge was repaired and JUCY had picked up the bill. 

Rent

JUCY offer additional items that you can rent and then return at the end of your trip along with your vehicle, and the ones that you absolutely need are camping chairs and a table - you'll use them every single day. JUCY state that you get a 'table', but this is located underneath the mattress and isn't suitable for outdoor use.

Another helpful thing we bought from JUCY was a car charging port so we could charge our phones and portable batteries on the go. Use the maps on your smartphone to navigate.

Pack

There's not a huge amount of storage space in the JUCY Crib - at first you might struggle to find a place for your things but after a few days you'll have figured out a system. In the evening we stood our big backpacks on the driver and passenger seats, shifted the seats forward then lifted the double mattress into place and pulled the sheet over. In the morning we put the end of the bed down, moved the seats back and put our backpacks on the mattress. In the beginning you think you'll convert the bed back into seats every day, but in reality there's really no point!

We kept our camping chairs under the bed, left our camping table outside at night and found places for all of our things (e.g. laptops in the pockets behind the seats, books in the compartments next to our pillows etc). Make use of storage in the front of the camper - we kept our small backpacks in the footwells and our cameras in the glove compartment.

Items that weren't included and came in really handy were: torch, mosquito net, battery-powered desk fan (a lifesaver on hot, stuffy evenings), camping power cable (this meant we could pay a bit extra for a powered site and charge our laptops).

Cook

Cooking is super easy in a JUCY, and it's also the cheapest option. Head to a supermarket and get yourself the basics: bread, butter, pasta, pesto, olive oil, salt and pepper, cereal, coffee, milk, eggs, washing up liquid, tea towels etc. Go for things that won't go off (tins of baked beans, soup) and will be quick to heat up when you're tired after a long day of exploring. The fridge is a decent size but bear in mind that you've got limited space and things might not stay upright, so you may want to go veggie (if you aren't already).

Will and I are proper foodies, we love cooking and it was a big part of our campervan trip - we made tons of meals from scratch like sausage and butterbean stew, pumpkin and sage risotto, Spanish omelette, halloumi burgers... the works! We became experts at one-pot meals, so let me know if you'd like some recipes.

Handy tip if you drink alcohol: boxed wine is mega cheap and perfect for camping!

Stay

The best thing to do is download the WikiCamps app and pay for the premium version - it's a huge database of campgrounds, caravan parks, hostels etc and fellow travellers leave helpful reviews and tips. It gives all the information you need (cost per night, facilities on site) and even works offline! It's the perfect way of finding somewhere to stay for the night and you can narrow down the search (free, must have hot showers). Always double check signs to avoid parking fines or illegal freedom camping.

It was 95% fun but admittedly, there were times when camping got a bit old. Heavy rain, being too hot/too cold, craving a proper shower and bed - they all contribute towards fatigue and a feeling of 'screw it, let's just book an Airbnb'. The great thing is, you can! Just park up, rest up and then return to the campervan life all refreshed.

Have an amazing time, and let me know if you have any questions in the comments! You know, for a girl who would've immediately dismissed the idea of camping a couple of years ago, I sure am missing good old Sheila already...

The Ultimate Nude Liquid Lipstick - That's Also Glossy!

18 October 2019




bareMinerals GEN NUDE Patent Lip Lacquer High Shine Liquid Lipstick

Described as
"nude liquid lipstick with a moisturising formula, full-coverage colour and a high shine finish"

Meg says...
Whenever I ask my boyfriend "do you like my lipstick?" he replies, 99% of the time, with "yes, it's a... pinky nude". Pinky nudes are LIFE. So the fact that bareMinerals have brought out an entire range of pinky nude lip products? LIFE MADE.

Packaging
Simple, sleek and slim in a long thin tube - perfect for chucking in your handbag (or, y'know, any other receptacle). My only gripe is that after a few months of use the product has kind of overflowed and gone all over the lid, but to be fair I don't think I've ever used a lipgloss on a daily basis that didn't require some kind of wipe/tissue clean-up at some point.

Texture/consistency
These have a fairly thick consistency, but in all of the best ways - balmy and cushiony and gorgeous - and are the kind of gloss you'd happily use instead if you forgot a lip balm, as they contain a moisturising mineral complex. Thin glosses aren't the one for me as they wear off far too quickly and don't have that lovely 'bouncy' feeling that these do. I can imagine that if you're used to thin glosses or only wear lipsticks then you might describe these as sticky, but in my opinion a little tackiness is what makes a glossy liquid lipstick perfect - you need that tack for the colour payoff and ultimate staying power!

Application
Smooth af. Seriously, the application is so satisfying! The soft applicator is dual-sided (one side being one more flat and the other with a little hollow to hold more product) and both are the perfect shape for starting on the outside of your lip and then the cupid's bow.

Scent/fragrance
Think freshly baked gooey double chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven. Oh, yeah.

Shade/colour
I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if you find it really hard to choose a shade in this range, especially if you're shopping online, so that's where I come in to help. Get the shade 'Everything'. It is, in fact, everything. A warm, deep pink nude with the right amounts of mauve and brown, it's a guaranteed crowd-pleaser that'll compliment every skin tone and is a product that I'll shout from the rooftops about until my throat's sore.

I also love 'Can't Even' which is a lighter baby pink nude and 'Dahling', which is fairly similar to 'Everything'. I kind of want (read: am convincing myself I need) every single shade!

Results
An impressively glossy, full-coverage nude pink lip that feels ridiculously comfortable to wear. There's no need to dip back into the tube for more product or apply a traditional lipstick underneath as they're so highly pigmented, and they wear off beautifully with no white lines. bareMinerals call these "the ultimate marriage of shine and coverage", and it's so true! If you love the look of nude liquid lipsticks but find yourself applying gloss or balm over the top halfway through the night as they just feel so dry, these are the solution.

Price
£17

The bottom line
This is going to be the easiest and quickest 'bottom line' I've ever written. You need at LEAST one in your life. Meg out!

Photos by Megan Duffield Photography
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