Category Archives: World Adventures

Against Blue Monday Marketing and the Trivialisation of Mental Health Issues

Ignorance sign in blue and white metal to signify ignorant behaviour. Displayed on white wall

Blue Monday, essentially the grimmest recurring day in the entire calendar, is nearly upon us. It’s a time when we’re supposed to be at our lowest, according to academic and merchant of doom, Cliff Arnall, whose dubious findings were based on calculations of average weather for the time of year, low motivation and high levels of debt.

The science behind it seems sketchy, but Blue Monday is basically an annual excuse for press release mayhem, when companies try to flog us things to cheer us up before our bank statements arrive. It thrives on the notion of low mood being permitted just once a year – if it helps, perhaps imagine it preceded by the word ‘cheeky’ – before normal service is resumed and we all just stop being so ungrateful. Yet the idea of low mood being self-indulgent, temporary or quickly diffused doesn’t gel with the one in four of us who will experience genuine mental health problems in our lifetime, especially the one in five of us who will have a depressive episode. read more

Pantone Ultra Violet Locations: Places That Nail the Colour of 2018

Lavender fields in Provence iconic view with purple lavender: example of Ultra Violet Pantone colour in nature

Pantone 18-3838 Ultra Violet is the official colour of the year, set to appear on many of the things we buy, like and consume in 2018 – in a travel sense, everything from new suitcases and toiletries to hotel artwork.

The colour has already influenced some fashion designers’ Spring/Summer 2018 collections (shown in September and October 2017), and it will inspire many more designers in the collections yet to come. You’ll also spot Ultra Violet in homeware, stationery, food, jewellery and marketing materials, as brands look to jump on the bandwagon. read more

Sustainable Travel Explained: Meet Huw from TravelLocal

Raja Ampat Indonesia as seen in Blue Planet II with green scenery and trees edged by sand and bright blue sea - a destination covered by TravelLocal

Huw Owen is the co-founder of TravelLocal, with nearly 15 years’ experience in the travel industry under his belt, including stints mentoring travel entrepreneurs for the UN. He was the perfect person to kick-start my new blog series on sustainable travel.

Do you know a sustainable travel pioneer I should talk to for this blog series? Shout about them in the comments, or by tagging me on Instagram (Instagram.com/pollyallen), and let’s help spread the word about travelling more sustainably and ethically. read more

Book Review: Vietnam Eye – Contemporary Vietnamese Art

Nguyen Dinh Vu artwork, featured in Vietnam Eye book, with men in suits painted on newsprint in acrylic paint with blue floral embellishment

Before I read Vietnam Eye, I didn’t really know or understand Vietnamese art. It wasn’t covered in my History of Art A-Level, or the Fine & Applied Arts section of my undergrad degree (both were unfairly weighted towards Western art, except for a token glance at Japanese woodblock prints), and I’d never knowingly learned about a Vietnamese art movement in galleries around the world.

However, the coffee table book Vietnam Eye (published by Skira) is a chance to understand contemporary Vietnamese artists, and the enduring themes they deal with. Many of the artists are graduates from the Vietnam University of Fine Arts, and their work now sits in galleries around the world. Here are some of my favourite discoveries from this new coffee table book. read more

Pics or It Didn’t Happen: On Losing Travel Photos

Camera on desk credit Markus Spiske via Pixabay

There are plenty of #firstworldproblems travellers encounter, but one of the most frustrating once you’ve returned from your trip is the case of the missing photos. Our digital dependency means we upload these images, maybe back them up to an external device or cloud, then return to them at will, rarely holding a physical copy.

Such was the case with my New York city break last year: four nights of exploring one of my all-time favourite cities, with my parents and former NY resident sister. My photos, spread across two cameras and a smartphone (yes, I’m that gadget-dependent), captured the key moments from our visit: taking in the disturbing but unmissable 9/11 Museum; stumbling upon the Brooklyn Historical Society on Pierrepont Street, and its heart-breaking slavery exhibition. Browsing cute little shops like The Fountain Pen Hospital and Fishs Eddy [sic], and trying out cool restaurants, like Bareburger; walking the High Line and the Brooklyn Bridge. read more

Is the Harvest Label Urban Rolltop Backpack 2.0 a Secure Travel Bag?

Secure Travel Bag Review Harvest Label Rolltop Backpack 2.0

As much as holidays and adventures should be about letting go, chilling out and switching off, when you’re a proper adult with a passport, an expensive camera and a smartphone, you have to watch out for your valuables, no matter how dazzling the scenery might be. Cue the search for a secure travel bag that doesn’t make you look like a conspicuous tourist on their ‘Gap Yah’.

Firstly, this backpack isn’t marketed as ‘pickpocket-proof’ or a ‘secure’ travel bag (unlike the super-useful pickpocket-proof tank top I tested from Clever Travel Companion). Yet there are plenty of safety features, making the Harvest Label Urban Rolltop Backpack 2.0 more secure than standard backpacks. read more

Dress Like Carmen Miranda: Unlikely Style Icon for SS17

Brazilian film star and singer Carmen Miranda wearing fruit headdress and flamboyant outfit

Carmen Miranda was a film star and singer, instantly recognisable due to her flirty costumes, but perhaps not your typical style icon. However, the Brazilian Bombshell, forever associated with fruity accessories and flamboyance, is a major inspiration for Spring/Summer 2017. Not for her the little black dresses worn to death by everyone else…

Shoe designer Charlotte Olympia (who also has Brazilian roots) created an entire collection driven by Carmen Miranda’s unmissable style staples. I also spotted several pieces worthy of the great lady at Coco Fennell, Dolce & Gabbana and Marks and Spencer. Pack some of these pieces in your suitcase and your jet-setting will have an extra dose of fun. read more

Weird Theatre Facts from Around the World

Bristol Hippodrome unique venue with theatre facts including concealed water tank, sliding roof and fire damage

‘All the world’s a stage’, but let’s remember that not all stages are equal. If you’ve sat through a performance in a cramped or strangely pungent space, you’ll know it can be quite distracting (unless you’re at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, in which case it can be a selling point, and the smell of damp is strangely comforting).

On World Theatre Day, it’s time to take a look at theatre facts: some of the strangest pieces of trivia from theatreland, including the playwright who became President, and the ghost who was used as a mascot. read more

Travel as a Feminist: International Women’s Day 2017

Powerful women standing back to back and wearing embroidered headbands and tribal face paint against blurred background

Happy International Women’s Day! Being a feminist and being a travel addict can sometimes cause problems, from the politics of travel safety advice to the never-ending stream of sexist travel campaigns (ahem, Air New Zealand flight safety video featuring bikini-clad girls…). However, when you dig deeper, you’ll find enlightened feminist views across the world.

Today, the International Labour Organisation published the ILO-Gallup report, revealing that 70% of women and 66% of men (from nearly 149,000 people surveyed) would like women to be paid for their work. These positive findings included support from many women in countries where paid employment is rare, such as the UAE. read more

Ethical Travel Accessories for All Budgets

Stacked vintage suitcases with travel stickers, by Erwan Hesry

Ethical travel is a huge trend for 2017: in a nutshell, it means travelling in a way that consciously benefits the community or the environment as a whole (but not the thorny issue of voluntourism).

Eco hotels, local and seasonal food, independent local shops, charity initiatives, slow fashion, public transport and responsible dark tourism can all be factored into travelling more ethically.

I won’t claim to be 100% ethical when I travel, because that would be a lie. My suitcase usually contains as many pieces of fast fashion as it does charity shop finds, and I don’t turn down a meal that hasn’t been locally sourced, because life’s too short to be that fussy. Just give me a hot dog or a pastry and I’m a happy camper. That aside, I want to show that you can add some ethical accessories to your suitcase with very little effort, and on any budget. read more