7 Easy Ways To Help Save The Planet

“Nature doesn’t need people; people need nature.”

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on environmental issues. In fact, I’m far from it (my high school APES teacher can vouch). Nor am I perfect when it comes to caring for our planet—I shower for way longer than the recommended 5 minutes, I sometimes throw recyclables in the general rubbish bin, and I don’t even know what a compost is. I’m not even sure if “a” was the right article to use. That’s how little I know about it.

Nevertheless, I fully believe that every person on this planet has an obligation and a responsibility to treat Earth with a little TLC. There are tons of teeny tiny, super simple changes you can make in your day-to-day that will do wonders for the world you live in. It’s so, so important to stay informed about the state of y(our) environment and the ways in which you can do your part to help save the planet (you can catch me Googling what composting is right after I finish writing this).

1. Use a travel mug or a keep cup

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If you’re someone who regularly—or even semi-regularly—drinks hot drinks in takeaway cups, you may fall into the trap of thinking that the cups you’re drinking out of are recyclable. I thought that, too, but it turns out that those cups are generally made up of tons of non-recyclable plastic in and around the cardboard part. A better alternative to to-go cups is a travel mug or a keep cup. Steel mugs are the best option, but plastic ones work great too! I personally use a KeepCup—it’s only $20, dishwasher safe, and BPA-free. They come in heaps of different sizes and colours and you can even customise your own. Plus, tons of coffee shops give discounts to customers who bring their own cup!

2. Ditch the straw

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Straws are one of the nastiest examples of a single-use plastic (a plastic product that will be used once and then thrown out). They don’t biodegrade and more often than not they end up in oceans and on beaches. This is obviously problematic and causes major issues for underwater life. Try ordering your drink without a straw the next time you eat out. If you’re in dire need of an iced coffee or iced tea and don’t have a travel cup with you, most Starbucks stores now offer strawless lids for their iced drinks. You could even invest in reusable straws or a tumbler cup for iced drinks—both options are dirt cheap and save you from putting more plastic out into the environment.

3. Catch public transport

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Cars are huge contributors to global warming and pollution. Luckily, there are tons of other ways to get to work/uni/school: ride a bike, walk, catch public transport, get a ride with someone else, give a ride to someone else, or use a carpool service. You’ll save money on petrol and save the environment. Plus, public transport saves you from sitting in peak-hour traffic and you’re free to sleep, read, text, etc.

4. Use a clothesline

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Using a clothesline or a clotheshorse is a great alternative to a dryer. It’ll save tons of energy (not to mention money!) which really helps the environment by reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Fossil fuels aren’t a clean or sustainable source of energy, which means we should try to rely on them as little as we can.

5. Meatless Mondays

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Don’t worry, I’m not about to preach the benefits of veganism or how cruel it is to murder animals for your own culinary pleasure. But going vegetarian at least one day a week is a great way to help save the planet. Most people don’t realise the huge environmental impacts that the meat industry has. It takes 2,500 gallons (nearly 9,500 litres) of water to make ONE POUND of beef. One pound! And on top of that, raising animals for meat takes tons of land, food, and water, which often means mega deforestation. Plus, fishing methods used by commercial fishers often harm ocean life such as coral reefs and other animals, which, in turn, leads to the destroying of ecosystems. So come on—just take a break from eating meat for one day. I’m sure you can find your protein somewhere else.

6. BYO water bottle

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This is pretty commonplace nowadays, but bringing your own water bottle wherever you go is an infinitely better alternative to buying multiple plastic bottles a day, especially when you’re not recycling those bottles. You can buy water bottles pretty much anywhere and they come in just about every colour, size, shape, and price point imaginable. My favourites are the stainless steel bottles from S’well and Contigo. Think of all the money you’ll save!

7. Stay informed

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It’s so easy to find information online that there’s really no excuse to be ignorant about the world around you. It’s 2018 and saving the planet is cool. Watch some documentaries, read the news, listen to podcasts. Answers to every question you have, and those you don’t even know you have, are right at your fingertips. Don’t let them go to waste. Set goals, write lists, take action, and hold yourself and others accountable.

P.S. for any other ignorant ding dong like me, composting is the use of decomposing organic material for growing plants. In other words, it’s using your potato peels and banana skins to grow your plants instead of using harmful, chemical-filled products.

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The Kelly Standard

Okay kids, before I get into the nitty gritty of this post, I’m about to bring y’all some history (haha, just a little R. Kelly humour before I tell you a whole lot of awful things about this guy). Basically, R. Kelly been accused of tons of horrific stuff in the past—mostly a strong cocktail of sexual misconduct and underaged females with a hint of a sex cult—the most infamous being his 2002 child pornography accusations. He was accused of filming his sexual relations with a 14-year-old, thus ~allegedly~ creating child porn. He was eventually found not guilty in 2008 and acquitted, but the evidence against him was pretty damning regardless (no, I know nothing about law or the U.S. legal system and have no business having an opinion like that. Yes, I still stand by it).

Oh, btw, if you’re a 2000s baby, or you’re just white, and have no idea who the hell R. Kelly is and you’re still reading this post only because you love and support me and my blogging endeavours: you know that song that sometimes gets stuck in your head out of absolutely nowhere and it goes I believe I can flyyyyyy, and you don’t remember learning or even ever hearing the actual song but somehow you still know it? Yeah, that’s his song.

A few days ago, Spotify released a statement declaring that the service would no longer be including R. Kelly’s music in “playlists and generated content”. His music will remain on Spotify, but it means you’ll have to manually search for him in order to listen to it. This is part of a new policy Spotify is rolling out, named the “Hate Content and Hateful Conduct” policy. Spotify’s explanation of their new policy is super vague and slightly contradictory. In the release statement, Spotify says, “We don’t censor content because of an artist’s or creator’s behaviour, but we want our editorial decisions — what we choose to program — to reflect our values. When an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful (for example, violence against children and sexual violence), it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.” But what they’ve done to R. Kelly’s music is arguably a form of censorship, so…

Look, I won’t lie—I’m the first person who’ll stop supporting an artist because of things they’ve done in their personal lives. I can prove it! I don’t have a single Chris Brown song in my Apple Music library and refuse to listen when his songs come on the radio. I simply choose not to support the work of a domestic abuser. But the difference is, I’m a consumer. One person. A single listener with agency and the right to make decisions for myself. I’m not a corporation or a provider of a service; I’m not making the decision for other people about what’s morally wrong and right.

I mean, think of all the music Spotify should be getting rid of based on this new policy. Chris Brown should be totally wiped off the board, along with everything Russell Simmons has produced (this includes Aerosmith, Kid Rock, Pitbull, Timbaland, Kanye West, and about a billion more), and most 1960s/70s classic rock bands. Hell, even the Christmas classic Baby It’s Cold Outside will probably need to be thrown out—the lyric “say, what’s in this drink?” sounds a little dicey, if you ask me.

To me, this policy feels like a very slippery slope into moral policing, witch hunting, media censorship, and social justice black holes. It doesn’t sit well with me that a provider of music whose motto is literally “give people access to all the music they want all the time” is restricting people’s access to certain music based on their own moral standpoints. Let users decide who and what they do and don’t want to support. It shouldn’t be up to a music streaming service to tap on listeners’ moral compasses.

Breaking: It’s May And I Still Haven’t Given Up On My New Year’s Resolution

Full disclosure, I’m not the best at follow-through. I forget to text people back, I’m awful at replying to emails, and I’m constantly giving up on tasks that aren’t immediately easy. Not surprisingly, my New Year’s resolutions usually go the way of my unanswered texts and emails and failed tasks.

Most years, my resolutions end up being fairly cliché ones: drink more water, eat healthier, actually utilise my gym membership, go to all my lectures—you get the idea. Perhaps I’ve failed at most of them because subconsciously I don’t really want to achieve them; I have no impetus or particular motivation to stick to them. Or maybe it’s because they’ve all been focused on extrinsic things. That’s why this year I decided to indulge in a little bit of introspection to find something that I genuinely, truly wanted to change about myself.

Of course, I’m far from perfect, so I had a lot of less-than-ideal attributes to choose from. I need to be more patient, more conscientious of my surroundings, more environmentally-aware, less selfish; the slightly embarrassing and very confronting list is as long as Santa’s naughty list (which, after this introspection, I’ve decided I’m more than likely a part of). But the one thing that I’d been noticing increasingly over the previous few months was how pessimistic I’d become.

I’ll admit that I’ve never been a totally glass-half-full kind of girl. I’m not the first to find a silver lining or to look on the bright side of a situation. My motto has always been “expect the worst and you’ll never be disappointed”; I’m my father’s daughter in that way (and in most other ways, too). While that was a pretty fail-safe outlook—I was rarely surprised when things didn’t work out for me—it also cast a very dark cloud over my life. I was always anticipating things going wrong; so much so that when something went right, I couldn’t even enjoy it because I was so busy wondering when the other shoe would drop.

So there it was. I decided I would be more positive. No more expecting the worst. No more anticipating failure. The funniest part was that once I had settled on my resolution, my first thought was, “I wonder how long this will last before I give up”. It took effort to push that out of my head and tell myself I could do this.

I’m proud to announce that I’m still sticking to my resolution. It’s not quite halfway through 2018 yet, but this is probably the longest I’ve ever kept a New Year’s resolution. And let me tell you, it has worked wonders in my life.

I started by encouraging myself when I felt like I couldn’t do something. I forced myself to go places and do things I didn’t particularly want to go to or do. I made sure I was speaking more positively about others as well as about myself; it’s made me feel good about those around me and my relationships with them, and also about myself. I put a real effort into consistently building up myself and everyone around me. It has made me infinitely more confident and optimistic.

I’ve come to realise that my pessimism was preventing me from achieving so much. There were tons of things that I wouldn’t even attempt because I thought I would fail or because “what’s the point anyway? I’m just one person, how can I make a difference?”. In the past few months I’ve become more conscious of my environment and of those less fortunate than I am. I understand now that although I’m just one person amongst billions, my actions have impact and can create change in the world, even if that change is small.

My newfound positivity has made me more patient and empathetic toward others and myself. I’ve learned the difference between “thank you” and “sorry”. I used to apologise for everything—I assumed I was being a burden on those around me. Now I realise that although I sometimes need to apologise for something I’ve done—”sorry for making you do this for me”—other times I need not apologise for my actions, but instead thank someone for theirs—”thank you for helping me do this”.

I’ve even noticed physical changes! I sleep better, my skin is clearer, I get fewer headaches (they used to be as frequent as twice daily), and I have more energy. I find it easier to interact with people I’ve never met and I’m more receptive to others reaching out to me.

In sum, a seemingly small adjustment of my outlook has created positive changes in pretty much every aspect of my life. I’m blown away by the massive turnaround I’ve experienced. The good news? You don’t have to wait until 2019 to do a little self-renovation.

2018/19 Travel Wishlist

I’ve had an incredible 21 years of travelling under my belt. I’ve been to so many amazing countries and had some pretty unforgettable experiences (South African safaris, Italian fashion shows, surfing at Waikiki Beach—you get the picture). But, of course, there still remain hundreds of countries left to visit and an infinite amount of memories to make.

This year I was blown away by how thoughtful all my birthday presents were. I felt so loved opening my gifts and seeing how much thought had gone into each one. One of the best gifts I received this year was from my ever-generous parents, who gifted me an overseas trip that I can take whenever, to wherever, with McKenzie, their pseudo-daughter (yes, I do know that I’m the luckiest girl in the world).

Obviously I immediately went into Planning Overdrive™, making lists of all the places I want to visit, the best time of the year to visit each place, the biggest tourist attractions of each place as well as the lesser known attractions, and even what I’d wear while travelling. After a little while, my list got way too long, my hand cramped from writing, and McKenzie was probably annoyed at the endless texts I was sending her asking for her opinion on everything.

So as usual, I’ve taken to my blog to make sense of the blur of ideas I have. Here’s a list of the top places I want to travel to in 2018/19.

If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment below! I’m always open to advice or recommendations.

Amsterdam

 

You can’t tell me Amsterdam isn’t the most romantic-looking city ever. It’s straight out of a fairytale. I mean, come on—it even makes me kind of like the look of snow.

Iceland

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Blue Lagoon. Enough said.

Vienna

 

I visited Salzburg a few years ago and fell in love; I’ve been dreaming of Vienna ever since. I mean, it looks like a Christmas village year-round—what more could I ask for?

Ireland

 

Ever since my parents and younger brother went to Ireland (yes, without me) when I was 15, I’ve been absolutely desperate to go. I practically go to bed dreaming of sipping hot coffee while standing on the edge of the Cliffs of Moher and dancing in an actual Irish pub and getting lost in bookstores in Dublin.

Phillipines

 

Living in Australia, it’s so cheap and easy to get to Asia that it’s astonishing I haven’t seen more of it than I have. I reckon those photos say it all.

21 Lessons In 21 Years

As my 21st birthday looms in the near future, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing this post. Part of me thinks that this type of post is tired and fairly cliché; the other part of me secretly loves this type of post, because not only does it tell you so much about the person who wrote it, it can also teach you something about yourself.

So, perhaps against my better judgement, here goes: 21 lessons I’ve learned in my 21 years.

  1. Fake it ’til you make it. This one was basically my motto throughout high school. I struggled pretty heavily with depression, body dysmorphic disorder, and a slew of other self-confidence-related issues. I was terrified of people finding out, so I basically faked confidence and self-love. I pretended I loved the way I looked and I fully believe that faking it for so long is what helped me eventually love myself for real.
  2. Take it one step at a time—for when the goals you’ve set for yourself seem overwhelming and unachievable.
  3. You only have to do something outside of your comfort zone once; after that, it becomes part of your comfort zone.
  4. If it’s scary, but you know deep down that you should do it: DO IT.
  5. “Learn who to be patient with and who to cut out. This is a big part of adulthood.”
  6. Pray. Pray. Pray. Don’t stop.
  7. Get involved in as many things as you can. Force yourself to be friendly, welcoming, and active in your community, even when it isn’t particularly convenient for you. You will not regret this.
  8. Your time and energy are important—don’t waste them on puny people.
  9. Life’s a party. Dress like it, dance like it.
  10. Words are art, too.
  11. It’s your body. Your choices regarding your body are valid and only yours to make.
  12. You can choose family. Family doesn’t only include those you’re related to by blood.
  13. Put yourself out for the people who deserve it. It’s easy to be there for someone when it’s convenient, but true love sometimes means inconveniencing yourself for someone else.
  14. Learn how to discuss; not just argue.
  15. You can change your body if you want, but learn to love it at any size or shape; it’s the only one you have.
  16. Don’t settle for anyone who makes you feel like your existence is an inconvenience. Someone out there can’t wait to love you and show you off. Wait for that person.
  17. Don’t give anyone a reason to say anything bad about you.
  18. Dwell on your mistake long enough to learn from it; then leave the past in the past.
  19. Forgive. The hardest thing in the world to do is forgiving someone who never asked for your forgiveness. It’s also the most freeing.
  20. Be nice to EVERYONE, even those you don’t like. Kill people with kindness. You’ll never feel bad about making people feel good.
  21. We can love because He first loved us. Once you’ve experienced perfect love, it’s hard not to spread love to others.

Sexual Liberation or Sexual Segregation?

Scrolling through Twitter and Instagram, I constantly see post upon post and tweet upon tweet about being a “hoe” or a “slut”. Even a few years ago, those things would’ve been totally frowned upon and those words would’ve been considered insults. But nowadays, women’s sexual liberation is something that increasingly tends to be generally accepted and often even welcomed and encouraged.

At least, that’s how it appears.

To kick things off, lemme give y’all a little history lesson.

The 1960s saw the rise of the sexual revolution, a social movement in which women (and probably some men too, I guess, but let’s be real—it was mostly women) demanded easier access to/a destigmatisation of various forms of birth control, an increase in acceptance toward non-heteronormative sexual practices (this includes sex before marriage, homosexuality, pornography, female nudity and female sexuality in general, alternative forms of sexuality, and so on), and the legalisation of abortion. This revolution ~officially~ lasted until the 1980s. It’s important to note that some people argue that the 1920s was when the revolution actually started, since women Started Wearing Less And Going Out More. Either way, girls have been fighting the good fight for a long time.

Times have changed a lot since then, obviously. We have super easy access to birth control (in Australia, at any rate), abortion is legal, pornography is free (whether this is a good thing or not is debatable, but there it is nonetheless), homosexuality is (more or less) accepted, and women’s sexuality is discussed openly. Labels like “hoe” and “slut” are comical and usually used in a joking manner or even as a compliment.

But earlier today, my boyfriend sent me a tweet that read, “Where’s the article titled: Everybody wants to be a hoe, but don’t nobody want to be a hoe, which expounds on how our generation loves claiming faux sexual liberation through the guise of hoedom, personal sexual autonomy, while wanting nothing to do with sex worker issues”, along with a short message in which he said, “Your next blog post”.

If that all sounded like gibberish to you, let me translate: basically, a lot of people like to front on social media and act as though they’re all for sexual liberation and sexual autonomy, but at the same time look down on sex workers and don’t fight for the rights, safety, and wellbeing of sex workers. And sadly, that tweet is nothing but facts.

How can you act as though you’re so strongly in favour of a certain ideology while simultaneously degrading others who express that ideology differently to the way you do?

Here are a few facts:

  • Prostitution is the most dangerous profession in America. On average, a sex worker gets physically attacked about once a month. The death rate for sex workers is 204 in every 100,000 workers (the next most dangerous profession, fishing, has a death rate of 129 in every 100,000 workers—that’s almost half the amount of deaths).
  • Underaged girls are the most targeted demographic by pimps. Pimps seek out vulnerable girls under the age of 18 and lure them into the industry by offering them what they seem to be missing in their lives (shelter, money, family, love, etc.).
  • Sex workers who work in brothels are not allowed to refuse clients, even when they deem the client a potential threat.
  • The rates of sexual violence and sexual assault against sex workers is extremely high. Many sex workers report being raped by clients or pimps. What’s worse? Sex workers often aren’t protected by rape shield laws and are often ineligible for rape victim compensation. Plus, many are too scared to report their sexual assault for fear of being arrested.
  • It has been proven that rates of violence (especially sexual violence) against sex workers is drastically lower in areas where sex work is legal.

No matter whether or not you agree with the morality and/or legality of sex work, there’s no denying that no human deserves to face conditions like those. Many sex workers are trapped in the industry or have no other options—and many simply choose to be sex workers; regardless of their reasons for being part of the industry, they deserve to feel safe and protected. Yet these issues go largely ignored, despite the thousands of social media presences that claim to fully support sexual liberation.

So yeah, be a hoe, do whatever you want, but be prepared to either support the whole movement, or none of it.

Want to find out more about the issues surrounding sex work and sex workers?

Here’s a NSW organisation that helps sex workers deal with STI prevention and other issues

And here’s a VIC one

And a WA one

Here’s some info on sex work legal issues

And here is some general information on sex work in Australia

 

Feminism: Where Did We Go Wrong?

If you know me, you’ll know that I’m a huge advocate for women’s rights. I believe in the political, economic, and social equality of men and women—i.e. the traditional definition of feminism.

When I first started becoming aware of the discrepancies between men’s and women’s rights—somewhere around year 9, I think—I loudly and proudly declared myself a feminist. I was always on the defence and was ready to argue with anyone at any time about anything that even remotely differed from my point of view. But slowly I realised how counterintuitive that was to the movement I support.

The first and second waves of feminism were all about moving toward concrete goals—women’s suffrage, property rights, the establishment of safe houses and shelters for domestic abuse/rape victims, and so on—usually politically or economically rooted. Third wave and fourth wave feminism also arguably work toward some concrete goals, but a big part of modern feminism is to make people aware of the smaller, maybe less obvious ways—usually socially—that women are discriminated against.

This includes cat-calling (and just generally being objectified), bodily expectations and beauty standards (for example: instead of just wearing no makeup, we’re expected to wear makeup in a way that makes us look like we’re wearing no makeup—yes, it is exactly as dumb as it sounds), etc. And don’t get me wrong—those are definitely things that need eliminating from societal norms.

But here’s where the trouble lies: whereas things like equal pay and the right to vote are objective and measurable, social inequalities are often a grey area—subjective and different between each person.

I fear that feminism has crossed the line into nitpicking and shaming. Instead of hearing out someone with a differing opinion, and then explaining where we are coming from, many feminists automatically resort to verbally abusing anyone (whether face-to-face or online) who even slightly disagrees with them. Many fall into the trap of taking offence at everything that they perceive to be different from what they believe. Small things that in the long run do not matter are suddenly magnified and blown out of proportion. Bluntly, this behaviour gives feminism a bad name and does not contribute constructively to the feminist narrative whatsoever.

I think it is a dangerous thing to assume that every person who identifies as a part of a certain ideology (in this case, feminism) should have exactly the same beliefs as the person next to him/her.

Feminism for me is first and foremost about choice and agency. Agency over your own body; the choice to work or to stay home with children; the choice to get married or not—and if you choose to be married, who you choose to marry. This should also include agency over your own beliefs. We can work together for equality between males and females without all believing the exact same things, down to the dots over the i’s and the crosses on the t’s.

No big social movement is ever perfect. And yes, I know that not all feminists do this. Obviously I know that. But those that don’t are unfortunately within the silent majority. And the longer we stay silent, the less that I, and many others, feel totally comfortable identifying as a feminist.

Your Melbourne Weekend Itinerary: Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

Maybe I’m a tad biased, but I reckon Melbourne is the best city in the world. We’ve got it all: beaches, mountains, a beautiful city, amazing food, an awesome art and music scene, and tons of festivals and events to fill your weekends with. You can never be bored in Melbourne—there’s always something to do. Whether you’re taking a vacation or you’re just in desperate need of a staycation, here’s how I would fill a perfect weekend in Melbourne.

Friday Night

Grab dinner at one of Melbourne’s best restaurants

There’s no shortage of dinner spots in Melbourne. If you’re aiming for something on the fancier (read: more expensive) side, Dinner by Heston, Attica, Rockpool Bar & Grill, and Vue de Monde are all safe bets. Want something more casual (ahem, cheaper)? Hit up Mamasita, Vegie Bar (or its sister restaurant, Transformer), Hochi Mama, or 400 Gradi. Since calories don’t count on weekends, satisfy your sweet tooth and grab dessert at N2 Gelato.

Holey Moley

Mini golf isn’t just for kids anymore. Past 5pm, this indoor mini golf joint is only open to 18+. It’s got 2 levels, 2 bars, 18 holes, and private karaoke rooms.

Grab a drink in a hidden bar

Melbourne has a knack for making things more complicated than they need to be, but still way more fun than anywhere else. Boston Sub in Windsor makes a mean roasted veg sandwich. But its real attraction is the bar it’s hiding behind the inconspicuous cool room door.

Hit the sack in an Airstream on a rooftop

The fun doesn’t stop just because you’re going to bed! Hands down one of my favourite places in Melbourne is Notel, a rooftop in the CBD filled with airstream caravans, all decked out with bathrooms, double beds, iPads, and minibars. One caravan even has its own private jacuzzi. A bonus of staying here? Everything in the minibar is free and you get a free round at Holey Moley. Although breakfast costs a little extra, I highly recommend ordering a breakfast box ahead of time. The hotel is positioned on top of Saluministi’s Flinders Lane location; you tell them the time you want your breakfast and they’ll give you the best breakfast (and coffee!) you’ve ever had.

Saturday

But first, coffee

Obviously everywhere in Melbourne does fantastic coffee, so if you decide to wander around and walk into the first café you see, I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed by their coffee. However, some people like to have a plan, so I’m gonna give you a list of my favourite places to get coffee in the CBD. You’re welcome. Standing Room is small, but their coffee packs a punch; Rustica does an amazing smashed avo if you want a little breakfast with your coffee; I’m a huge fan of the batch brew at Shortstop (and their doughnuts are to die for—my favourite is the maple walnut & brown butter); Hash Specialty is home to the Insta-famous fairy floss hot chocolate, but it also has fantastic coffee; Trunk is the cutest café/restaurant/coffee shop/bar/beer garden and one of my favourite—if not my favourite—places to eat and get coffee in Melbourne; last but not least, Market Lane is one of the most popular coffee spots in Melbourne (but be warned—their coffee spritz nearly killed me).

Go walkabout

I can sit here and give you a million suggestions of things to do and places to go and attractions to see in Melbourne (and don’t you worry, I will without a doubt still do that), but the one thing I tell everyone who visits Melbourne is that you can’t go wrong just walking around the city, wandering aimlessly and without a plan, exploring on foot. Melbourne’s charm lies in the laneways and hidden coffee shops and street art. You’ll miss a lot of things if your nose is stuck in a map (lol, as if anyone owns an actual map anymore) or you’re on a tour bus. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said to someone, “I would’ve never found this place if I hadn’t just happened to walk past it!”, I could probably pay for Ubers so I wouldn’t have to walk everywhere.

That being said…

Melbourne has so many things to see and do that it can be overwhelming heading out without a plan when you’re spending a day in the city. There’s a bus tour of Melbourne and tons of walking tours, too. But it’s more fun for me if you let me play travel agent and map it out for you.

Start North. Soak in the street art and funky vibes in Fitzroy. Visit a thrift shop (don’t worry, it’s cool to do that now). Find a rooftop bar (Naked for Satan will never disappoint), grab a coffee, and check out the incredible views of the city. After that, make your way down to the Carlton area. Take a peek inside Melbourne Museum. Walk around Melbourne Uni (I guess it’s actually pretty beautiful when you don’t associate it with assignments and all-nighters and stress). Take a lap around the Royal Exhibition Building and the Carlton Gardens. Head down just a liiiiittle bit farther and you’ll get to the Queen Vic Markets (hot tip—the markets are best viewed on Wednesday night during the Summer or Winter Night Markets).

A little further South and now you’re in the CBD. The CBD is full of street art (check out Hosier Lane if that kinda thing sounds good to you), live music (walk down the street and come across about a million buskers), and amazing food. Grab a burger and a drink on the rooftop of Curtin House (this place also becomes an outdoor cinema in the summer!) or hit up Easey’s if eating your lunch in a refurbished train carriage sounds cool to you. Don’t forget to hit the token touristy spots like Federation Square (ACMI in Fed Square is worth a visit if you like film and digital media), Town Hall, State Library, and the clocks at Flinders Street Station.

Keep walking down and you’ll reach the Southbank area. This is an awesome part of Melbourne because it’s home to the NGV, Southgate, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Have a picnic in the Gardens or catch a movie at the Moonlight Cinema if you’re in Melbourne in Summer. If you’re in this area at night, you can’t not lose a little bit of money at Crown, the southern hemisphere’s largest casino—there are some amazing restaurants and even shopping in the complex, too.

Now you might wanna catch a tram down St. Kilda road all the way to the Esplanade. Walk along the beach, go for a ride at Luna Park, and grab dinner. Some of my favourite restaurants are in St. Kilda: Trippy Taco, Sparrow’s Philly Cheesesteaks, Rococo, and Little Blue. After dinner, take a stroll down the pier at sunset and watch the fairy penguins emerge from the rocks and dive in the water when it gets dark.

Sunday

Rise and shine, it’s day trip time!

You know what’s fun? Road trips. You know what’s even more fun? Road trips in a Kombi van to some of the most beautiful spots in Victoria/Australia/the world. Tour company Hike and Seek runs day trips out of Melbourne to tons of different places: Mornington Peninsula (including the hot springs), Phillip Island, Great Otway National Park, Wilson’s Prom, the 12 Apostles/Port Campbell, Mt. Buller, and the Grampians. The folks at Hike and Seek provide you with transportation (the Kombi, duh), a guided tour (usually including hiking, so dress accordingly), coffee, and vegan snacks.

If hiking and vegan food isn’t exactly your kinda party, maybe you’re better suited to a wine tour in the Yarra Valley. There are tons of different tours to choose from since Yarra Valley has no shortage of vineyards. Yarra Valley is only about an hour-long drive from the CBD and most tours include transport to and from the CBD and between wineries. Most tours range from $100-$200 per person.

Don’t drink? Or maybe you just don’t like to spend over $7 on wine? That’s cool too, Victoria has tons of spots that are perfect for day trips. Catch the V-Line to Bendigo, rent a car and coast down the Great Ocean Road, hike the Dandenong Ranges, or make your way to Healesville to check out the animal sanctuary where you can feed a kangaroo or cuddle a koala.

Melbourne is my favourite place in the world and no matter how far I travel, I’ll always call it my home. Here’s hoping you love it even half as much as I do.

Cheap Date Ideas For When You’re As Broke As I Am

Having a significant other is the best—you have someone who’ll compliment you but also be brutally honest with you, someone to zip up the back of your dress, someone to watch Netflix with (your cat doesn’t count), and someone to laugh at other people with. But let’s be real: my boyfriend and I are both in uni and we can barely afford to use the bathroom at a Michelin-starred restaurant, let alone eat in one. Wanting to shower your s/o in expensive gifts and dinners and holidays when in reality you can’t even buy them a scented candle is awful. Luckily, I consider myself a master of the art of Cheapskate Dating™, so here’s a comprehensive list of my go-to date night ideas that won’t force you to eat ramen for dinner for the next 2 weeks.

Free

Museums

I never get tired of wandering around NGV on a rainy day, especially since it’s free entry into their permanent collection—and if you’re lucky, you can sometimes catch a free temporary exhibit (their current temporary exhibit, Triennial, has free admission!). Melbourne Museum and ACMI also have free entry.

Art galleries

Something I love about Melbourne is that there’s no shortage of artistic talent. On any given day there are dozens of open art galleries that cost you nothing to have a look through. Some of my favourites are the Ian Potter Gallery, Seventh Gallery, and the State Library of Victoria.

1,000 Steps (Kokoda Track)

If you don’t mind your date seeing you sweaty and out of breath, the 1,000 steps is a beautiful hike in the the Dandenongs. It’s 5km uphill, but totally worth it (and not as painful as it sounds!)

Beach

This one’s obvious, but exploring a new beach on a warm day is one of my favourite things to do. Beaches along the Peninsula (St. Andrews, Blairgowrie back beach, Sorrento back beach, Mt. Martha) are stunning, even in winter.

Free dance classes

There are tons of free dance classes in Melbourne if you’re looking for a fun way to fill in a weeknight. Free beginners salsa classes are held in the CBD at 6pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Watch the sunset together

Yeah, this is a cheesy one. But if you know me at all, you’ll know how much I love watching the sunrise and sunset everyday (okay—maybe just the sunset. I’m not a morning person). Here’s a list of a few of the best places to watch the sunset from in Melbourne.

Melbourne Walking Tours

Melbourne offers free walking tours around the city, exploring laneways and street art and different monuments around the city.

Botanical Gardens

One of my favourite places in Melbourne are the Royal Botanical Gardens. They’re a beautiful place to have a picnic and watch the sun set or rise over Melbourne. It’s also the site of Sidney Myer Music Bowl, my favourite concert venue and home to one of my favourite events of the year, Carols by Candlelight.

Free concerts

Speaking of Sidney Myer Music Bowl, the venue collaborates with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra each summer and plays host to free concerts each week.

$15 and under

Cook dinner

Cooking dinner together is a cheap alternative to going to a fancy restaurant and a fun way to spend some time together. It’s not hard to find an simple recipe for steak and potatoes or lasagne or chicken—at the very least, throw some pasta in a pot and call it a day. Or make brunch together, because who can afford a $20 smashed avo?

Eureka Skydeck

Eureka Skydeck is the highest public vantage point in the Southern Hemisphere with amazing views of the whole city. Entry is only $15.50 for students. Pro tip: go in the evening so you can catch the sunset.

Drive-in cinema

This is one of my favourites. Concession tickets for Lunar Drive-In are only $11 each; every Tuesday is Discount Night, which means $10 tickets and free classic video games. They also have a super cute old-timey café with cheap food and drinks.

Food Truck Park

The Food Truck Park in Preston (there’s also one in Coburg) is an awesome place to go when you don’t want to splurge on an expensive restaurant and want more options than just one menu. Check their website for what the food theme of the weekend is—to save you a click, this coming weekend is cheese & wine and next weekend is chocolate. Come armed with cash and an empty stomach. Note—although it’s free entry, be prepared to line up to get in!

Bounce, Inc.

Bounce, a warehouse full of trampolines and trampoline-based activities, is another one where you can’t be afraid to have your date seeing you sweating and exhausted. It’s only $11.70 for student entry, which gets you an hour of bouncing time.

Studley Park Boathouse

Recreate That Scene™ from The Notebook by hiring a rowboat with your date. It’s $26 for 2 people for half an hour (that’s only $13 each, in case math isn’t your strong suit). There’s also an adorable café there if you’re feeling extra boujee and can spare another $20.

GlowGolf

This glow-in-the-dark mini golf venue in the Docklands is $15 for adults—and only $5 for a rematch! Wear a white outfit to really stand out.

Board Games at 29th Apartment

29th Apartment is a bar in St. Kilda that encourages you to sit down with a few friends and whip out the Cluedo or Cards Against Humanity or Jenga. Throughout the week they have a  $15 pizza and drink deal and if you go on Wednesdays you can snag unlimited pizza plus a drink for $10.

If you actually made it to the end of this list and still can’t find something that tickles your fancy, hop on Groupon or Scoopon and find a cheap date that’s more up your alley.