I love travelling. If I have time and money I always try to plan a city trip of some sorts. But when you're new to travelling it might seem a bit overwhelming just thinking about everything you gotta plan. So I've made a list of tips to make sure you'll have to worry a little less.
Booking a flight and hotel
When booking a flight and a hotel you're aiming for getting the best for the cheapest price. I've found that booking a flight through the website of the airline is cheaper than using a mediator site. This is because the site often includes a fee in the price for their services. Also, booking a couple months in advance will often get you cheaper tickets. And on top of that, certain days or periods of the year can be cheaper or more expensive than others. So when you book a couple months in advance you can easily compare the prices for each date and based on that you can book. If you have a job you'll then have plenty of time to request those days off.
When it comes to a hotel I usually search on booking.com. It's just easy to compare all the different hotels and their facilities. Keep in mind that you want the hotel to be somewhat in the city center, or at least near public transport. So check the location of the hotel first. Personally I've never used an airbnb, purely because I don't want to worry about whether or not the place I'm gonna stay is any good or not. I always book a hotel with the thought in mind that I'm there to sleep and to relax. So I don't need many facilities and fancy things. As long as I can rest there and shower I'll be happy (and of course I'd like it to be clean).
Preparations before travelling
A few things you should always check when travelling somewhere is whether or not you need a visa and if you need any vaccinations. And if you're like me and using medication, you should check if you need a special form for that too. Another thing you should do is look up some words and sentences in the language of the country you're going to. Before I went to China I downloaded an offline dictionary app. It proved very useful when I needed to ask things like "where's the toilet?" because I would just type in the word "toilet" and show the other person the translated word. I know that in a lot of European capitals people generally speak English quite well, but that's not always the case, so you should do some research on that.
Another thing that's worth researching is travel. How are you gonna get from the airport to the hotel? Often airports are quite far away from the city center, so you need to travel to the city. You could of course get a taxi, but as someone who travels alone a lot I prefer not to use a taxi because of the risks that it's a fraudulent one. Instead I research on how to get to the hotel by public transport. The Google Maps app is quite useful for this and I often take screenshots of multiple routes. I also always put the address and phone number of my hotel in my phone (if needed, in the language of the country and in English), that way you can show it to someone if you get lost.
And lastly, before I go on a city trip I make a list of things I wanna see and do. I look up the addresses of the places I wanna go and put those in my phone. It saves you the struggle of having to look things up with possible shitty wifi, wasting time you could be spending on actually doing fun things.
On the day you're travelling you should try and be as relaxed as possible. Because you've made all the preparations you know where to go and what to do. When your flight has landed and you're on your way to the hotel, you need to keep a few things in mind.
First of all, watch your stuff. I always act as if everyone around me is a thief, ready to steal my stuff. It sounds silly, but actual thieves will recognise that you're a tourist and will take advantage of that. So be wary of your surroundings.
Second, don't go with strangers. Ever. If someone offers to take you somewhere, just tell them to give you directions. You can ask a stranger for help, but just don't go with them. Who knows where they might take you. Also while travelling, keep your friends or family updated on where you are. When I travelled through London at night I updated my family on where I was going. I sent texts like "I'm now at Luton Airport Parkway waiting for the train to West Hampstead." "I'm now on the underground to Uxbridge." By doing this, people will know where you are at what time. I've recently read something that said that it's better to give these updates not in real time, in case someone has hacked your phone or following your social media (in case you're posting updates there). It's pretty good advice which I will definitely follow from now on. I also have "find my iphone" turned on and "send last location" (this sends the location of my phone to Apple when the battery is low). I believe there are similar settings on Android phones.
When at the destination
When you've safely arrived at the hotel you can relax a bit. Pick one of the things of your "must see" list, use Google Maps to figure out how to get there, and have fun. Usually I pick things from my list the evening before and map out a travel route: how to get from thing A to B to C by using public transport, involving multiple routes. This saves me a lot of time when I wanna go from A to B.
Keep in mind that while sightseeing you should keep your personal belongings close. I usually wear my backpack in front of me. My phone is never in my pocket unless my hands are in there as well, and I try to make sure my wallet is in the middle of my bag so people would have to dig if they tried to pickpocket me.
Try to act like a local, like you know the city. Don't stand somewhere looking around with a confused look on your face. Go sit down and look up the route on your phone, appearing to be texting. Try to stay in the crowd, especially at night. Watch your drinks when you go clubbing or to a bar, and once again: don't follow strangers.
I know this all may seem like a lot of things to keep in mind and it seems like it will spoil the fun. But once you've become more confident in travelling you'll notice that these things come naturally. You can enjoy a trip by yourself, or with friends, as long as you're aware of the risks. Once you're sure that you've got everything under control you can have a stress-free vacation.
Do you have any travel tips? Let me know in the comments!
I know, I know, this title sounds incredibly cliché. But hear me out okay? There's a reason I'm talking about this subject of following your dreams.
The past few months I've had quite some people tell me that they find me an inspiration or that they admire me. After denying all this and being a flustered mess, I ask them why. Their reason is always the same "you do all this cool stuff and have so many projects going on".
This intrigued me, because I never feel like I'm getting much done. Heck, I have no idea what I'm doing half of the time. But it really got me thinking.. How come that there is such a difference between how I see the things I do and how others see it? I think it didn't take me long to figure out what the difference was.
People always talk about them wanting to do things in the future. "Oh, I really wanna get singing classes again" or "I would love to start my own webshop". And then they never do it. I'm impulsive. Always have been. If I want to do something, I want to do it now. It has gotten me in a lot of trouble, but it has also given me a lot of nice opportunities. And that brings me back to the title of this post: why wait? Do it now.
I wanted my own webshop, so I started that last year. It's going slow, but I enjoy it and there is progress visible. I learn from it too, and I can use that for the future.
A few months ago I said to myself that I wanted to give acting another shot. I have never really had many classes but acting is something that I enjoy, despite my anxiety. So in the past two months I've had several auditions, one role as a featured extra, and one small role in a student production. It's not much, but my goal isn't to be famous anyway. i just wanna get some acting experience, is all.
I said I wanna write a poetry book, so I've set the goal for myself to write a poetry book in 2018. I don't know if I will be able to publish it, but at least I would have written it.
Sometimes dreams seem impossible to reach because you would need certain things such as money and time. But there is always a way to make at least part of it come true. Want to run the Boston marathon but don't have enough money to fly there from where you are now? Start training. Start saving up. Don't put that on the shelf. If you really want it, work for it.
Want to become a famous painter but you don't have the time to paint that often? Put things aside to make time. Even if you spend one hour a week painting, it'll be a step forward to reaching your goal. You don't have to change your entire life around to reach your goals, as some things can be combined with your current life. But the important thing is to not dismiss things you really want.
So I guess that's what I'm doing now. I wanna make my dreams come true. I wanna have things I can work towards and things that I can just put some time and effort in. And if someone finds that inspirational then that's fine by me. But to me it's only a logical thing. I have so many things I wanna do and I don't wanna wait until it's too late. I wanna show the world what I have to offer, even if the world isn't looking in my direction. I'm doing this for me, and no one else. I hope others will do the same.
Me when I was 14 vs now
In a few days (November the 30th) I will turn 20.. It's weird to think about it, honestly. It sounds old (I know it's not, but still), and it sounds mature. I don't feel like I'm an adult yet, and I don't want to be one either. I'm actually rather reluctant to turn 20, but time can't be stopped. So today I'm going to reflect on my teenage years and share the things I've learned.
My parents were right (but not always).
I think this is the main thing I've learned. Despite their advice not always being what I wanted to hear, it usually was right. Even now, I still look back at things they said recently which turned out to be true. Now that I know that I value my parents' advice more, and take it more seriously. Though of course there were also enough cases where they were wrong. But in those cases they would always admit that they were wrong. That way we both learned.
Being yourself is important.
At the beginning of my teenage years I wanted nothing more than to fit in. Be popular. Have loads of friends. But the popular kids didn't really like me. I tried to change and fit in many times, but it only made me feel unhappy. So at one point I stopped trying, and I just became myself. And once I started to make friends I realised that I didn't need popularity and loads of friends to be happy. Actually, I prefer to have only a few close friends. Being myself just makes me feel so much happier.
Think about things twice.
I was (and sometimes still am) rather impulsive when it came to buying things or doing things I really wanted. But often I didn't need those things, or it turned out to be a bad idea afterwards. But I wanted it because it was popular, or because I was convinced it would make me super happy. Thank god my mom stopped me a couple of times from making mistakes (although I still need to convince her to let me get a tattoo). But I've learned to think about things twice before actually going through with it. Although sometimes I still make mistakes, but I'm learning!
Appreciate things more.
The past few years I've started to appreciate things more, and stop taking everything for granted. I suppose that when you're younger you don't think about those things, but now that I'm getting older I do. For example, I've come to appreciate education more. Or the fact that I'm happy and healthy. But also small things like seeing the beautiful sunset in the evening.
It's okay not to know what you want.
I still don't exactly know what I want. Of course, I have more of an idea about what I want now than I did a few years ago, but I still don't know it all. And that's perfectly okay. If only I had known that sooner. I used to stress so much about these kind of things, but now I know that it will all come in time.
Don't grow up so fast.
I remember saying at 14-years-old that I was almost an adult. Thinking about that makes me laugh. It was naive, but a lot of teenagers say such things. I wish I could've enjoyed being a teenager a little more, without focusing so much on the future. I guess that's partially the school system's fault, though. Speaking of school, now that I'm doing an internship I've learned to appreciate the free time you have when you're in school.
I'm still young, I know that. But this feels like a new chapter, and honestly I'm excited to see what will happen. I have discovered so much about myself and I feel like I'm so much stronger than I was a couple of years ago. I might be reluctant to turn 20, but it's gonna happen. So I best make the most out of it.
Art by Ryoko Nagara
We've all been there. You have to get up early so you go to bed in time, only to toss and turn for hours. It sucks, especially if you already got in bed later than planned. I have a chronic shortage of melatonin, which is a substance your brain makes to help you fall asleep, and despite taking melatonin pills, I still often struggle to fall asleep. And that's exactly why I came up with this post.
1. Don't force yourself.
One thing I've learned from not being able to sleep is that forcing yourself will only make it worse. If you try too hard to make yourself fall asleep, you won't be relaxed. Also if you keep thinking "I can't sleep" then you won't be able to sleep. Instead, tell yourself "It's okay that I can't sleep." because it is. If you can't sleep then the worst thing that's gonna happen is you being tired in the morning. You'll survive. Something my mother always told me is that if you just close your eyes and relax you will rest as well. That thought always makes me feel a bit better.
2. Go for a short walk.
I found that sometimes it helps if I just get up and go to the bathroom to pee, or go to the balcony to watch the stars for a few minutes. Just getting out of your bed for a short moment can help you falling asleep. Or at least it helped me.
When I can't sleep I often go read. Reading requires me to focus, and that tires me. As soon as I notice that I'm having trouble to remember what I just read, I know that it's time for me to try and sleep again. That, or when my eyes are getting heavy. If you don't like reading you can draw, or do something else that doesn't require a screen (as in phone, laptop, etc). It's best to stay away from electronic devices when you're trying to sleep.
4. Don't look at the clock.
This is a mistake I made a lot when I was younger. I would look at the clock and panic because of the time. I would be like "Oh my god, it's 2.14am, I only have five more hours to sleep!". Things like that make your stressed, and stress makes you more alert, which keeps you awake. So turn the clock away from you so you can't look at it anymore.
5. Count backwards.
This trick really helps me when there's chaos in my mind. I (mentally) start counting backwards from 100 to 0. This requires me to focus on the counting, which allows no room for any other thoughts. Eventually it'll get harder to focus on counting because you'll start to feel sleepy, but try to finish nonetheless. Although personally I quit halfway through a few times because I was so sleepy that I forgot to count. If you don't feel sleepy when you've reached 0, just start over! Or maybe start at 200, to make it extra difficult. It's like counting sheep, but easier and more effective.
That's about all the tips I've got! What do you do when you can't sleep? Let me know in the comments!
Well.. It surely has been a while, hasn't it? I don't really have an excuse for it, other than the fact that I've been quite busy. But no need to get into detail about that. I want to talk to you about getting a new routine. When the summer break ended I told myself to get a new and better routine, instead of constantly being lazy, procrastinating, eating unhealthy and getting too little or too much sleep. And I managed to do it! So now I'm going to tell you how to do the same.
1. Write down your goals
I think that this is quite important. You can't just randomly start a new routine. You need to know what you are doing it for, and what things you want included in your routine. Once you visualise it by writing it down, it will become more clear what you'll have to do. For example, I wrote: eating healthier, staying hydrated, exercise more, procrastinate less, be more positive, sleep better, and a few other things.
2. Make a slow start.
Once you've written down your goals, you should pick one or two to start with. You can't just start with all of them at once, or else you might fail at keeping up with them. So don't rush it. I started with getting more sleep by going to bed earlier and not sleeping in too much, and I started to eat healthier. Once you've got those down you can move onto the next one or two goals.
3. Keep it up.
There will be days where you won't feel like sticking to your routine, but it's important that in that moment you kick your own butt and keep going. If you do fail to keep up with your routine make sure you reflect on it. What went wrong? Why? What can you do to prevent it from happening again? For me personally it helped to start a bullet journal, in which I keep track of my goals.
4. Celebrate your success.
Sometimes you need to praise yourself a little for your hard work. So treat yourself with your favourite ice cream when you've been keeping up with your new routine for two weeks. Finally buy that dress after a month, and allow yourself to take a day off from your routine once you're certain you can pick it up again afterwards. You're allowed to be proud of yourself!
I know these steps seems simple, and maybe you're left wondering "is that it?", but you have to remember that discipline is key. You can't start a new routine if you're not willing to put effort in it. These four steps are just some things to make it a little easier. I've been working on my new routine for a month now, and I still haven't put all my goals in it. But I'm very proud of the progress I've made. So be patient, and don't give up!
Do you have a routine? Or do you want to start one? Let me know!
A few months ago I posted this article about starting an online store and my experiences with it. It was mainly about selling things through dropshipping and working with suppliers. Currently I have a store where I sell clothes, for which I use this service. But I also still have my Etsy store where I sell my handmade items. And today I want to focus on that. Because there sure are some things you should think of when selling your creations. I'll tell you exactly what you should keep in mind.
The very first thing you should do when considering to start a store is to think about what you want, and how you're gonna achieve that. What do you want to sell? What feel should your store have? How are you gonna make the things you wanna sell? It's it manageable? And the most important one: do you have the time and money for it? I see so many small shops quit because they simply don't have the time and money for it anymore.
When you've got all of that sorted out you should think of your style. You'll have to design a logo, get business cards, and stuff like that. Make sure your style is unique and easy to recognise. It's okay to change your style later on though, I've done that too. Though I would advice keeping it similar to the first design to avoid confusion.
Then you should get supplies for your crafts. I'd suggest going to Aliexpress, as they have many kinds of items there for a very low price. Once you've got your supplies you can start crafting. Make sure you put enough time and effort in it. Sure, handmade things always have a flaw or two, but the moment it's very noticeable you should ask yourself if it's okay to sell it. I always ask myself if I would buy it if I wasn't the one who made it.
In the other article (linked above) I talked about which platform to choose for your store. I think the most popular ones are Etsy, Storenvy, and Tictail. Personally I think Etsy is better for handmade things. In the other article you can see what the pros and cons are for the platforms.
It's also very important to have good pictures of your creations. Nobody will buy your things if the pictures are blurry or of low quality. People want to see what they're gonna buy, so try taking clear pictures of different angles.
Once you've got all of this sorted out it's time to open your store! And it's good to create social media accounts for your store as well. The most important ones being Instagram and Facebook. Social media is a powerful tool to get your name out there, so you should use it.
Last but not least, you should keep track of your profit. I use an excel sheet in which I calculate my income and my expenses, and also my profit. It's very handy because then you can see if you need to change things or not.
Keep in mind that it takes a while before the sales come in. In my first 3 - 4 months I had like 4 sales. It takes a lot of time to get things going, so give it that time. Eventually it'll pay off!
Do you sell handmade things? Let me know! I'd love to check it out.
No, this is not gonna be a post with cliché tips to be your best and happy self. Because quite frankly, those things don't really work. But lately I've made a few small changes in my life which really made me happier.
I've been fighting depressive feelings for a long time, and along with that came a lot of stress. But since a few months or so I've been feeling much better. I wondered why, so I made a small list of the changes that I made. I found out that they're mainly small things, so I figured it might be worth sharing.
1. Allow yourself to be sad.
I think this has been a very important change for me. I used to fight that depressive feeling, trying to force myself to be happy. Well let me tell you a secret; you can't do that. You can't force yourself to be happy. So instead you should do the opposite: allow yourself to be sad. It's totally okay to feel sad. Just know that eventually it'll pass. When I'm really down I always take a deep breath and say to myself: "You're sad right now, and that's perfectly fine. Just put on some comfy clothes, make yourself a cup of tea and go to bed early tonight. Tomorrow will be better. And if not? Then that's okay too. Because eventually it'll pass."
2. Try not to worry too much.
Now, I know this is easier said than done, but it really does help. I used to worry about everything. I was always worried about what people thought of me and my actions, I was worried about the future, about whether or not I was doing the right thing, and so on. Just stop. Take a deep breath and tell yourself that it'll be fine. Really, comforting yourself, how weird it may sound, often helps. As for worrying about the future: just do what you love. Of course, you need to keep an eye on the future, but don't let that stop you from doing what you love.
3. Look good, feel good.
Okay this subtitle does sound cliché, but it's true. I've noticed that I feel way better when I think I look good. I don't really wear make-up, but dressing nice makes me feel really happy. And if the clothes you want to wear are a little strange, or at least to society, just wear them anyway. Don't worry about what others think. If there's one thing I learned from the days on which I wore some strange clothing combinations, is that if you wear it long enough you'll stop caring.
4. Know when it's okay to force yourself and when not.
Now, while it's not good to force yourself to be happy, it sometimes is good to give yourself a little push. For example, if you've been doing nothing for days because you feel sad, it's time to kick your own butt. Go do something, even if it's going outside for one minute. Doing nothing all day will only make things worse.
But then there are also cases where it's not good to force yourself. For example, if you've been overworking yourself and you have more work to do, it's time to stop. Take a break, take good care of yourself. Make yourself a cup of tea, watch your favourite movie, read a book, listen to some good music, go out with friends, whatever you'd like to do. Allow yourself to take a break.
5. Plan ahead.
This is more like 4b, instead of 5. And I don't mean plan ahead as in "plan the rest of your life". I mean that you should plan things ahead to avoid stress. Going to an unknown place by train? Plan the journey. Look up when the train leaves and arrives, what trains you can take in case of a delay, and look for alternative routes. Also plan the journey back home. I always do this and it saves me a lot of stress. Also if you have a lot of (home)work to do, write everything down. Write down when the deadlines are, what you need to do, and how much time you think you'll need for each task. You don't have to make a day-to-day schedule, just writing things down clears up a lot.
6. Know when it's time to ask for help.
I think this one is very important. I am very well aware that if you're truly suffering from depression it will be very difficult to use these tips. But I do hope that in that case, you will use this one. If you think you're suffering from depression, ask for help. It's absolutely okay to do so. It doesn't mean you're weak, or can't fix things yourself. It means you're brave enough to realise that you need help. I always thought I would be fine going on the way I did, but at one point I realised that maybe I should go talk to a doctor or psychiatrist. I wish I had done it years ago. After a talk with the psychiatrist I was given fluoxetine, a light anti-depressant. I've been using meds for most of my life, so I didn't mind taking one more. But I know that many people are against using meds. Well let me tell you, sometimes meds can really help. And it's totally okay to use them. For me it worked really well and I'm just glad that these meds exist. There's nothing wrong with asking for help and using medication in order to feel better. All that matters is that you'll get better.
That were most of the main things I came across. I hope that this will help some people who are feeling low. Remember that many people have these problems and that they can be helped.
Anyways, I hope you all will have an amazing end of the week <3
So some of you might know that until a few weeks ago I ran a store called Pastel Faery, which later was changed to Curious Crescent. I closed it a few weeks ago, and now reopened it, only now I'm selling handmade stuff instead of reselling items. Now this post won't be of much use for those who are planning of making a living off an online store, but I know that there are many people my age who would love to run their own store in their spare time.
I've made some mistakes when I ran my store, and instead of regretting them I'm going to use them to warn others and tell you what you should and shouldn't do. After all, we're here to learn right?
So first of all you'll have to choose a platform. For my store I used Storenvy, which works great. It's all free and fairly easy. Only problem is that if you want things like discount codes you'll have to pay $5 a month. Another thing is that you can list your items in the Storenvy marketplace to get more attention. However you should know that if something is sold through the marketplace instead of your storefront (your website) they'll take a 10% fee off of the money you'll get.
A thing I didn't like about Storenvy is that they work with Stripe and Paypal. Paypal is great, but Stripe isn't. If you want to give someone a refund you'll have to pay a large fee over it, which is an incredible loss. Also it can take up to 10 days for your money to get transferred to your bank account. I really dislike Stripe.
You can also go for Tictail or Bigcartel. I have little experience with those, but they are both free as well. I do however not know about fees with those two.
Another option is Etsy, a platform which I am using at the moment. Creating a store is free, and having things such as stats and discounts is free as well. However, Etsy asks $0.20 for every listing and asks a small fee for every sale you make. It's not much though, but it could be annoying.
I recommend Etsy for handmade stuff, because people who don't know your store can easily find your items.
Alright, that's some info about different platforms. Now I'm gonna tell you what I did wrong.
I was a reseller. You can resell items by buying them and stocking them, or by using dropshipping services. Dropshipping means that you buy an item from a supplier and they'll ship the item to your costumer for you. That way you only pay when you sell and won't risk having stock leftovers. It saves you a lot of hassle and money, or at least that's what I thought. It did in fact save me money, but it was a big hassle.
Basically what happened was that my suppliers didn't really communicate with me that well. They're from Asia and their English isn't that great, but that's not the problem. The problem was that if a costumer was missing an order I would have to ask my supplier where it was. And sometimes they didn't respond, or responded a week later. It's very frustrating for a costumer to be in the dark about something, but it's even more frustrating for the seller.
I didn't know where my costumer's items where, when they would arrive, in what shape they would arrive, and if they would even arrive. Being in the dark like that really sucks, because after all you want your store to do good.
If you do choose dropshipping for your store, make sure to have a good communication with your supplier(s). It's the key to success.
Another thing that I did wrong was calculating profit. Whenever I listed an item I sort of guessed how much profit I would get. What I forgot to think about was that I needed some back-up money in case of a refund, and that if people would apply discount codes my profit would drop.
Sometimes I would have a profit of less than a dollar, and one time I even lost two dollars..
It's important that you calculate your profit carefully and create room for things like fees and discounts.
My store was mainly known on instagram, and most of my costumers knew me there. I often had giveaways and I also had some promoters to whom I gave free stuff. However I again didn't think about profit, Sometimes I hadn't made that much profit and I would do a giveaway regardless. I don't know why I did it, but I didn't think about it. Looking back at it I feel pretty naïve, and I realised that I should've put more thought in it.
There were a few things I was good at though, or at least my costumers told me I was.
One thing that I heard a lot was that the costumers liked the way I interacted with them. I always took my time to respond to them, even when it was on a weekend or late at night. If someone sent me an email regarding their order I would respond no matter what. I was, and still am, dedicated to my costumer and refuse to leave them in the dark about something. I respect all of them, even if they are rude. And it turns out that people really appreciate that. So if you're starting a store, make sure to have a good costumer service. Be polite and respectful. I've seen stores insult their costumers after they were rude, and it just makes the store look bad.
Another thing people said is that they liked how active I was. Even if I wasn't posting to instagram I would get online and see what was going on. I want to know who my audience is, and I think that's a very important thing to know. As a store owner you have to reach out to the people, and social media is great for that if you use it the right way.
I've also heard people say that they liked how different I was. Even though I sold products many others sold as well, I tried to be unique. And I wanted to let my costumers know that they are welcome. I support all kinds of people, and everyone should feel safe on my store account. When I listed clothes with small sizes I would write a little note underneath saying that "your size doesn't define your beauty", because I know many people struggle with their self-worth. People actually liked that and it made them happy.
So having good connections with your costumers and knowing them well is essential.
I think that was about all I have to share. I've started over and I'm now selling handmade stuff on my Etsy store called Curious Crescent. I'm using the knowledge I have gained and hopefully my store will be a success. If you wish to create your own store and you have questions don't hesitate to comment or if you have instagram you can find me (@peculiarplanets) and ask me anything.
Have a nice day!
I love shopping on Aliexpress. I think I buy something from there at least twice a month. It's cheap and it's easy, and they have so many items that you can't get here. I like having stuff that not many people have. I don't know why, but I do. And it's very tempting to buy things if they are very cheap.
But now that I've been using Aliexpress for over a year I've learned some things about it that I want to share with you, so you won't make the mistakes I made.
First of all, if you're going to buy clothes please check the sizes first. Most clothing is made in Asian sizes, which are generally smaller than western sizes. Normally I'm size M/L, but I've bought clothes on Aliexpress that were size XXXL in Asian size. For this reason a lot of sellers put the measurements in the description of the item. So please measure yourself and compare that. But keep in mind that often the clothes are measured by hand and in most cases they'll be smaller than the seller tells you they are. Going for a piece of clothing with bigger measurements is a good thing to do. I've had tons of clothing items that turned out to be a little too small or short for me, and it's just a waste of money. Especially sleeves are a often shorter than the description tells you.
For example, today I received a flannel I ordered. According to the measurements it should've been a bit oversized for me, but it turned out to fit perfectly. Though I'm glad that it fits, I was hoping it would've been a bit oversized.
Also, don't fall for the "one size fits all" thing, unless you're below 5'6. There is no such thing as one size fits all. If it says it's one size, check if there are measurements in the description. If those aren't there, I don't think you should risk buying it.
If you have big feet like I do, shopping for shoes is very risky. The sizes they list are often wrong. This is mostly because they go for US size, and they forget to tell if it's US man or women size. They often put measurements in the description, but if you go and check a site that lists feet measurements and shoe sizes, you'll see that those two are different.
Okay so what many people forget when they are buying from sites like Aliexpress and Ebay is that most products have to come from China. Now, if you live in Europe like I do, or in the US for example, it can take quite some time for those items to arrive. I think the fastest that I've ever had was a week, but that's pretty rare. I'd say the average for me is between the 2 and 3 weeks after I've ordered it. You should realise that if you're going to buy something here you'll have to be patient. But I noticed that the more I ordered the more I got used to the long shipping time.
A lot of items have tracking numbers, but half of the time those don't work. That doesn't mean it was all a scam, but it just means that your post office can't track it (yet). Often this is because the code only works as long as the package is in the country of origin. You could try and track it on sites like 17track.net, though often the results are in Chinese. And even 17track can't always track it.
Before you go and order, you should check something very important: the processing and shipping time, Some sellers take a lot of time to process and ship your item, and that just sucks. One time I ordered something that had a processing time of 30 days and a shipping time of 30 - 60 days. Of course I could've cancelled the order before it got shipped and buy from another seller, but I was an Aliexpress rookie and didn't know that was possible. I always try to find items that have a processing time between 1 and 10 days (15 if I really want it) and a shipping time between 15-39 days. Though it isn't guaranteed that it'll be delivered within that time, it often is the truth. Also, if you've ordered something and the seller doesn't ship it within the stated processing time, the order will get cancelled automatically and you'll get your money back.
Aliexpress is like Ebay: a place for people to sell items. Aliexpress itself doesn't sell anything. This means that there are ten thousands of sellers on Aliexpress, and they're all different. (Also keep in mind that if you order multiple items, they're often from different sellers and thus will arrive separately). But how do you know if someone is trustworthy or not? Well, you don't. But the feedback that the seller has received will help a lot.
Basically it's like Ebay; it shows you how much positive feedback a seller has received. The higher the percentage, the more trustworthy a seller is, or so it seems. However, not everything is the way it seems. It works like this: when you have received an item you can give feedback. You can give 1 to 5 stars for shipping, communication, the item, and overall experience. You can also leave a comment. If everyone was to give someone 5 stars, that would mean the seller would have 100% positive feedback, however, not everyone is as positive in the comments as their stars show. I've seen people give someone 4 stars, even though they didn't receive their package, simply because the seller gave them a refund. Imagine if you buy a product that has four stars, but no one ever received their package. Then those 4 stars don't say anything.
On the contrary, I've seen sellers who haven't made enough sales yet to get an overall feedback score. Not many people buy from them, but I have. Sometimes they're even better than the big guys. I'm not saying that goes for everyone, but having no feedback score doesn't mean you're not trustworthy.
The product itself also has a feedback score. And just like the seller's score, it isn't always what it seems to be. Sometimes it'll say "0% of the people enjoyed this product", but that's simply because no one has given feedback yet. So my advice is to read a product's feedback and see what others say about it. And if you're in doubt you should check the seller's feedback and read that.
RETURNS AND REFUNDS
Not many sellers accept a return, simply because they have too many costumers to deal with that. (Plus, shipping costs would be a little high for you). But it's something you'll have to ask the seller. Most sellers don't speak English that well, so take your time to make sure you understand each other. If you haven't received your order, or you have received it but you aren't satisfied with it you can open a dispute. However, this can only be done as long as the purchase protection is still running, so always make sure you keep it running (you can open a dispute to extent the purchase protection if you haven't received your item yet).
If you open a dispute the seller will try to give you a solution. Many people don't know that they can get a refund, no matter what the seller says. If you haven't received your item and the seller says you should wait longer, here's what you have to do: nothing.
Aliexpress has this system where a dispute has to be solved within a certain time period. If there isn't a solution by then, they will step in to solve it. So if you don't agree with the solution all you ahve to do is wait until the time limit passes, and Aliexpress will step in. This usually takes a few days, but in most cases you can get a refund. I'm not promising that, but in my case I got a refund 90% of the time.
Aliexpress is great for shopping, because it has many items and often for a low price. But you do need to know how things work around there, and make sure you don't get disappointed when you receive your package. I hope that informed some of you, as I know there are many people out there who don't trust sites like this. Maybe you'll now feel a little bit safer.