Your Ultimate Guide to Craft Shops in New York

by Nicole Farrell

New York is a shopper's paradise and the garment district and surrounding streets has plenty to offer. My first stop was the iconic M & J Trimming, established in 1936.

  

This shop is wall to wall ribbons. I used to own Craft Queen which stocked Australia's largest range of ribbons online but this was something else! Image every ribbon you've ever seen in one place. It was difficult to know where to look first!

I love that the ribbons were organised into colours and styles.

  

M & J also stock a wide range of buttons. 

  

 M & J Trimming can be found at 1008 Sixth Ave, New York.

My next shop was East Coast Trimming Corp. It had a vintage feel and also had an amazing range and selection.

Look at this amazing colour range.

 

East Coast Trimming Corp is at 142 West 38th Street, New York

The Garment District of New York has a treasure trove of fabric and textile shops.

  

Look at the range of zippers!

Also worth a visit are these quilting shops:

Gotham Quilts - 40B W 37th Street, New York

Victoria Findlay Wolfe Quilts - 325 W 38th Street #803 (8th floor) New York

 

Top 10 Travel Money Mistakes To Avoid

by Nicole Farrell

Let's face it, money is essential when you travel. Get it wrong and your trip can be a disaster. I've made a list of 10 money mistakes I see people make when travelling overseas.

1. Only taking one source of money - If something goes wrong, like loosing your ATM card, then you have no access to money. I recommend carrying multiple cards and cash as a back up. It's better to be safe than sorry, especially when you are in a foreign country. In some countries, such as India and China, ATMs often don't work and some are not available for International customers. It is a waste of time searching for a functioning ATM. Trust me, I have sometimes tried up to 10 ATMs when doing business in China!

 

2. Not knowing the conversion rate - Before you depart research the local currency and if possible, arrange some cash before you travel. Sometimes in countries such as India, it is not possible to obtain local money until you arrive. In that case, find an ATM in the airport and make sure you are familiar with the notes before leaving the airport.

My favourite app for currency conversion is Currencyapp. It is simple to use, caters for 150 currencies and can be used offline.

If the exchange rate is tricky to remember or convert, I suggest making a chart to keep in your wallet. It will help for the first few days when everything is new. We provide these on our tours! 

  

3. Using your ATM card - While this is possible, there are often additional hidden costs. Most banks charge a withdrawal fee AND a currency conversion fee and these can add up. To minimise fees, I always take the maximum amount of cash at a time. In some countries this is only $200 which does not go far when travelling (and shopping!).

For Australian travellers, this Canstar report, ranks the travel cards according to pricing and features. It is worth a read. These cards often have lower fees and some are linked to frequent flyer programs. 

4. Don't put all of your eggs in one basket - Well not literally! I keep money in a few places when I travel. I stash a large note in my toiletry bag, keep another one in my sock or bra and spread my cash between different pockets in my purse and bag. If I do drop my money or my purse is stolen, I'll always have some cash with me.

 

5. Paying the first price - I lived in Asia for eight years and like to shop so quickly learnt to bargain! I would describe myself as hard but fair and I like to keep the interaction light hearted and fun so I joke or smile to help with my negotiating! In many countries, it is part of daily life and expected. On tour I am happy to help with prices and bargaining. 

These photos are from the souks of Marrakesh where bargaining is half the fun!

   

6. Not knowing how much to tip - Being Australian I am not used to tipping and find it awkward. I usually ask around and then decide on the appropriate amount. I always tip more in poorer countries and try to ensure the money goes directly to the person rather than the organisation. On our tours, we have a bag for coins and small notes and let our local guide take care of giving to beggars or those less fortunate. 

7. Not having an understanding of costs before arriving - It is always a good idea to organise an airport transfer prior to arrival. If you haven't pre-booked,  I recommend researching online to estimate the cost of a taxi. I find airports, train and bus stations can sometimes attract less than honest members of the community. I also never go with people who approach me in these public places. I prefer to wait in line and hopefully get a more reputable driver.

8. Not learning the local language - I always try and learn a few basic phrases. I have 10 words of Mandarin including 'too expensive' and 'how much?' These simple phrases of Mandarin have saved me lots of money over the years! Locals love it when you try to speak their language.

9. Forgetting to notify your bank of travel plans - This is becoming increasingly important as banks and credit card companies try to reduce fraud. A quick phone call prior to departure can avoid any problems. We have prepared the ultimate pre-departure checklist to help ensure you are organised and ready for your next adventure. Download your free printable copy today and you'll save time and your sanity!

10. Using public wi-fi for financial transactions - These networks are often not secure so it is advisable to avoid using them for online banking.

Do you have any money travel tips? Pop over to our facebook page and share them with us! Safe travels! Nicole

 

6 reasons Gujarat will leave you wanting more

by Nicole Farrell

Gujarat is India's western most state and home to numerous sacred and historical sites. It is often overlooked as a tourist destination which makes it a wonderful destination to explore. 

1. The capital city of Ahmedabad was founded in 1411 and features a mix of architecture from century old mosques to modern skyscrapers. In fact Old Ahmedabad became the first Indian city to be listed as a UNESCO world heritage city. The best way to explore this area is a guided walk which can be organised through Ahmedabad municipal corporation. 

2. Calico Museum of Textiles contains one of the world's largest collections of antique and modern Indian textiles with the oldest pieces dating back 500 years ago. You will view Kashmiri shawls that took three years to make, double-ikat cloths which used 100,000 threads, each individually dyed before weaving. Viewing is by tour only and bookings are required. 

3. Rani ni Vav (Queen's step-well) was built in the 11th century and was a memorial to a king but slowly took up the name of the queen. The step-well is seven stories with three being above ground and four below. The delicate and intricate work have to be seen to be believed.

4. Textile villages - Bhuj is an excellent base to explore villages which specialise in textile production. Traditional techniques with distinct, colourful styles can be seen. In fact there are 16 different embroidery styles. In some villages local cooperatives have been formed to help preserve artisans heritage.

5. Wild Ass Sanctuary is a 5000 km sq area where Indian wild ass can be found. From October to March a large population of birds can be seen here including flamingos which breed in the wild.

6. Indian people are among the warmest and more hospitable in the world. They genuinely want visitors to enjoy everything their country has to offer.

If India is on your bucket list, consider adding Gujarat to your itinerary. Our textile tour in March 2019 is designed to explore the state in a fun, small group. Contact Nicole today to find out more about this exciting opportunity.

If you've got a holiday coming up, download our Pre-Departure Checklist. It is your step-by-step guide to ensure you are leave for your holiday feeling in control and super organised.