Phong Nha Caving Adventure Have you ever travelled somewhere and fallen in love? Well that was me with Vietnam – one trip and it captured my heart. The soft swoosh of silk lanterns swaying in the breeze. The babble of market sellers calling to me […]
You’ve probably come across pictures of people dancing, smiling and covered from top to toe in paint while they celebrate Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colours.
Also known as the Festival of Spring or the Festival of Love, Holi originated in India but is now celebrated all over the world – including in Hong Kong!
A Holi picnic on Lamma Island sounded like a perfect plan for a sunny Sunday afternoon…
So it’s been an exciting couple of months for me… After spending last summer in Hong Kong for a project at work, I got the opportunity to move back to this city for a longer stint and I jumped at the chance!
I moved back here in February and it’s been a blast so far. A new city has meant completely leaving my comfort zone – making new friends, new routines and habits, and of course a new challenge in my work life.
I think it is important to challenge ourselves and step out of our comfort zone every once in a while. There are so many ways to do it too – it might be moving to a new city, changing careers, going back to school or trying a new activity. Whatever the case, seize the opportunity and live boldly – there’s no point regretting the things you didn’t do. No one wants a life of “what ifs” right?
So what are you going to do that’s outside your comfort zone? Let me know in the comments below.
So we ate all of the food at Christmas, drank all of the champagne on New Year’s Eve and rang in the new year with excitement and fervour to be better people. Whether it’s dry January, vegan-uary or just a general healthy kick, it feels […]
Something I’ve really gotten into over the past year is podcasts. It’s either the in-thing now for everyone and their dog to have a podcast or it’s just me showing my age, because I’m obsessed! There are so many brilliant podcasts to choose from. Here […]
Happy New Year lovely people!
Hope your 2019 is off to a great start. I myself have had an absolute blast so far – helped greatly by the fact that it’s my birthday!!
As each birthday rolls around I find myself getting more and more excited about what the next chapter has in store for me. Plus I always start my New Year’s resolutions on my birthday (mostly because it gives me one extra week to slack lol!) I am literally the QUEEN of resolutions – I do them every year…sometimes several times a year (*hides face* what can I say, I’m super-passionate about personal development)
Anyway, we’re off to a fresh start and I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to achieve this year. On each birthday I tend to pick a word or phrase that describes my intention for the following 12 months. So for example, 2018 was the year of “Bold”.
2019 for me is the year of “Growth” and my resolutions mostly reflect that. Some of my resolutions are:
- Take a formal photography course
- Dance more! (take at least one dance class a month)
- Live boldly (seize opportunities as they come – if it scares you, do it)
- Build my strength and flexibility (work out at least twice a week and do ten minutes of yoga every day)
- Make more of an effort to be open and connect with new people
Something else I’ve started doing is being more bold with colour. If you’ve seen my Instagram you’ll know that orange is the colour of the season and I’m absolutely loving it!
What is on your list of New Year’s (or if you’re like me, birthday) resolutions list?
Kyoto was a pleasant surprise! Exploring Nishiki Market, eating delicious wagyu beef at Hiro and meeting geisha…what more could I have wished for?
Touchdown in Taipei A weekend in Taipei was just what the doctor ordered. In the couple of months I spent in Hong Kong I wasn’t able to book in as many weekend getaways as I would have liked, so when my friend recommended Taiwan I bit […]
So you’ve booked your flights to whatever slice of paradise is on your bucket list, packed your bags and headed out for some well-deserved R&R.
You might be one blurry, off-centre picture away from dumping your boo for his lack of photography skills. Or maybe you’re travelling solo, trying to get your Dora-The-Explorer on (¡Lo hicimos!) but you want to get more than awkward selfies in front of monuments and pictures of your feet in the sand (#sausagelegs)
So how do you get those envy-inducing holiday snaps to smugly upload for months after your trip is over? I mean don’t we all want our Insta feed full of the typical “Throwback to poolside in the Bahamas #tbt #sunkissed #tequilaoclock #issababygirl” pics?
Here are some of my top tips to help you take amazing holiday photos. I’ve grouped them into sections cos I’m helpful like that 💁🏾💁🏾
First, who’s going to take them??
1. Ask a Stranger
If you’re travelling solo, every stranger has the potential to be your professional photographer. First things first, work out the kind of shot you want. Better yet, frame it. Get your phone/camera out and line it up as if you were taking the picture yourself, get the angles right, zoom etc. That way all the person needs to do is click the shutter once you enter the shot. In terms of who to ask, I usually opt for people who have cameras around their necks as possibly they’re into photography so will know how to work my camera, also they’re less likely to run off with it haha! Another great tip is in the ask: instead of saying “could you please take a photo of me?” Say “a couple of photos”. It’s such a minor detail but lets them know your intention is not for one questionable shot. If they don’t get the hint you can follow up with a grin and ask them to take a couple “just in case”. The best ones are where the stranger gets way more into it than you and ends up hooking you up with a mini photoshoot. Another handy tip, if you’re using an iPhone, is to get them to shoot in live mode or burst mode (hold down the button). That way you’ll get a ton of photos you can review and pick from later.
2. Hire a Local Photographer
So this might seem a little excessive, I mean unless you’re Rih-rih (remember when she used to have official photographers take fire pictures of her on holiday? Anyway I digress). But it doesn’t have to be a whole dramatic thing. with Social media you can easily connect with professional and aspiring photographers around the world. You can easily search IG hashtags e.g. #baliphotographers and find a ton of people. Of course there will be the professionals, who might be a bit pricey. But you’ll also get student and amateur photographers looking to build their portfolio and practice so you can be their willing muse.
3. Use a Tripod
The third option is DIY – especially useful if you’re hanging solo, going off the beaten track or find you’re too shy/controlling to have someone else behind the camera! There are so many affordable and portable tripods on the market. I got mine on amazon – I have this small one and this larger one (similar). You can set it up, frame your shot and use a remote or self-timer to shoot all by yourself.
What device? Phone vs Camera
4. Make the most of what you have
So this is a question I get a lot – what do you use to take your pictures? I take almost all of my instagram and blog pictures with a DSLR. I use an old Nikon D3200, and also have a smaller Panasonic LUMIX GF7 (which tbh I still haven’t quite figured out how to use properly but is super cute and great for selfies). However, this is not to say that you need a digital camera to take great shots. I think if you have a newish IPhone or basically any Samsung you can definitely get similar quality. I still have a rickety old iPhone 6S which I’ve refused to let go of, so unfortunately I don’t think my phone pics are high enough quality for my blog feed. The camera is only a small part of the equation though, as it’s more important how you actually put it to work…
Photo composition tips
Right, now on to some tips for taking the actual pictures.
5. Get things straight
Ugh, one of my pet peeves in life is crooked lines and it turns out when it comes to photography, most people (whether consciously or sub-consciously) feel the same. When you take a picture, do a quick scan trying to be as objective as possible. Check, check and check again that no lines are crooked or even slightly off. You can set grid/guide lines on your camera of choice before taking pictures. If you forget and have a wonky picture, just edit it in the photos app, on instagram or on any other editing apps.
6. Apply the rule of thirds
Okay this is probably my favourite composition tip. Imagine dividing your picture into three equal sections vertically and horizontally. You want the most important thing in your photo (I’m guessing you!) to be on one of those lines. It makes for a more visually pleasing picture and is a great way to switch up from taking a photo dead centre.
7. Make the most of natural light!
Natural light (i.e. from the sun or through a window) is your friend. Artificial light just doesn’t create the same effect. So broadly I’d say aim to take pictures in the daytime near a natural source of light. If your making happens to be popping that day, find a window and get snapping. And please, ditch the flash. You and flash are not friends. Flash is nobody’s friend and has no loyalty – all of a sudden you’ll find yourself looking like Morticia Adams, or your eyebrows will now be looking grey. Abeg, let’s help ourselves lmao!
And there we are! Some quick tips you can use on your next getaway to take amazing holiday photos. Do you have any others? Let me know in the comments below xx
If you’re heading to Thailand, read more for some of the top things to do in Phuket…
Phuket is a beautiful island, with gorgeous beaches, a crazy nightlife and everything in between to make for an entertaining trip. For this reason millions of tourists flock there each year, and the locals take full advantage. So what can you do to navigate the […]
It’s been a month in Hong Kong and I don’t quite know where the time has gone! It feels like just a couple of days ago when I rocked up in this city, 3.5 suitcases in tow.
(In case you missed it, check out my first post from when I moved to Hong Kong)
One month in and Hong Kong fully has my heart. To be honest, that’s how I felt after one week so all that’s happened is I’ve fallen deeper in love with this hilly haven. Sitting on a junk on a Thursday evening (that’s what they call boats out here, don’t ask me why), I seriously started to imagine a more permanent life out here…
The climate, proximity to both nature (great hiking trails) and water (lovely little beaches), and of course all this glorious food suits me just fine. My waistline is telling a whole other story but I guess I need to spend more time on those hiking trails!
I’ve been welcomed with open arms by the many people I’ve met out here and have made friends I already know will be for life.
In terms of exploring the city, I’ve had amazing recommendations from people and have also been introduced to new places and experiences by my newfound friends. I’ve listed some of my favourites below.
Also, if you haven’t heard of it, you need to check out mapstr. It allows you to pin your favourite places anywhere in the world on a map in a few seconds. So no need to write lengthy lists of recommendations for your friends when they visit a new city. You can just tell them to follow you and they’ll see your list of restaurants, bars and whatever else. Add me on mapstr, I’m @reallifewithlou.
Now back to my old-fashioned list of recommendations…
- Chili club
- Tsui wah
- Peking Garden
- City Hall for dumplings
- Aqua Spirit
- Megan’s Kitchen
Bars and Clubs
- Dr Fern’s
- Posto Pubblico (they also have amazing food!)
- Blue Bar
- Rummin’ Tings
- The Iron Fairies
Hikes and other things to do
- Hike the morning trail to Victoria Peak
- Hike up Magazine Gap to or past Bowen road
- Head to Repulse Bay
- Take a “junk” trip!
See the full list on mapstr.
Right loves, till next time. I just touched down in Phuket, Thailand so I’m heading out to explore the city! Post coming soon but you can keep up with me on my IG stories xx
Another rainy weekend, but that didn’t stop me from exploring the restaurants and temples of Repulse Bay, Hong Kong…
Hi guys, I know it’s been a hot minute since my last post. Let’s just say life has been craaaazy: working stupid hours, moving to Hong Kong, a whole new city, and still trying to live my best life! I’m writing this from my cute […]
Mykonos Day 2: Boat Tour
It would be a full day of touring, with three stops at various points around the island.
The first stop was an hour away, so we all settled in for the ride.
For most of it, I sat at the helm of the boat, feeling the wind in my hair and the spray of the saltwater on my face – heaven!
Soon we arrived at quiet beach, laid out towels and sat eating hunks of bread and olives washed down with wine (and Ouzo, the local liqueur, not for the faint-hearted).
Back onto the boat we went, and our tour continued. Stop number two was Kalafati Beach.
Our hosts at Ristorante Bandanna were ready to receive us and laid out a scrumptious lunch! Delicious Greek salad, oven-roasted chicken and of course, great wine!
Sated, we wandered along the beach, eventually finding a shaded spot in front of the water.
In no time we were off again to our final stop – Super Paradise (yes, again!) This time I wanted to try jet-skiing – would you believe I’ve never done it before?!
Well I picked the wrong day I tell you. The sea had become choppy as the day went on. I was completely drenched before I even got out to the open water! I came out looking like a drowned rat! A great excuse for an outfit change though…
And that was it for our Mykonos adventure, we got back to Casa Nostra to grab our bags and headed straight to the airport. The boat tour was a great end to a fabulous trip!
Have you been to Mykonos, what did you think?
Mykonos Day 2: Exploring the Island So you’ve read all about the first day of our Mykonos adventures (if not, read it here). After getting home at 6am – and wolfing down a gyros before going to bed, no less – we didn’t get up […]
Mykonos Day 1: Super Paradise Mykonos, a charming Greek island sprawled across rocky hills, where better to catch some sun and sea? I landed at noon on Saturday, the two-hour time difference belying the fact that I had left home for the airport at the […]
If you’ve been to Cape Town you will have no doubt have appreciated the dramatic skyline of Table Mountain. With the option of taking a cable car to the summit, hiking up is not necessarily at the forefront of most people’s minds. For me though, on this trip I really wanted to do the hike!
So let me preface this story by saying that I’ve never been hiking before. I’ll admit that it may even have once been the absolute opposite of what I would want to spend my time doing. I figured, why would I voluntarily spend hours walking and/or climbing in the hot sun/freezing cold/pouring rain, limbs aching, probably having to pee in bush somewhere, when I could just as easily be curled up indoors with a glass of wine? Fast forward to the last year or so, and call it my old age or whatever, but I’ve been more inclined to try it.
Right, so I’m in Cape Town on a Sunday night with 30-odd other wedding guests playing Taboo and Mafia (shout out to my games’ night aficionados), when I realised that I would need to hike on Monday morning if I was going to do it at all. The #JumiToons wedding was going to be on Tuesday and most of us were headed home on Wednesday.
*Cue frantic googling*… “hike table mountain”, “table mountain hiking difficulty”, “table mountain hiking beginner”. The more I read, the more I started to panic! What if something happened? I probably wouldn’t even garner sympathy, because as Nigerians would say, “who sent me?!”
So about 30 minutes of google results later, and I had decided Table Mountain was “not my portion”. Instead the more achievable Lion’s Head would be a good shout for beginners like me and my newfound #CapeTownCrew I had roped in too!
If you haven’t already, check out our adventures in Bo Kaap
Around 10am, we set off in a taxi to the start of the trail, and the hike began. It was a reasonably easy start. The paths were wide and gently-sloping, and we were thankful for the slightly cool and cloudy weather.
The clay soil took me back to memories of boarding school in Nigeria.
We chuckled at the number of people we passed that were jogging back down the mountain. Barely able to conceive the idea of hiking all the way to the top, it was hard to think that people were just casually running up and down the mountain…we even saw kids doing it!
About an hour in and the path had narrowed significantly, becoming more rocky as it spiralled upwards against the mountain. I clung to the wall of rock at my side – who would have thought I would be such a chicken lol?!
The views though, absolutely incredible! As it’s a 360-degree spiral climb up the mountain, at every point you’re looking at stunning skyline, coastline or greenery. I can’t count the number of times the others jokingly thanked me for dragging them along. Experiences like that really put things in perspective and make you so grateful for the beauty of life.
Another gruelling hour or so and we had been faced with a fork in the road – either scaling a vertical wall via a series of hand and footholds built into the rock, or taking a longer (and more beginner-friendly) route around. Which do you think we chose?
Finally at the Top!
It was a slow and arduous climb, more so as the sun had come out in full force but finally we reached the summit!
I honestly don’t have the words to describe how I felt standing at the top of that mountain. A small achievement for some maybe, but for me it was so much bigger. A true example of stepping out of one’s comfort zone and experiencing a completely different kind of joy. I would do it again a thousand times!
Have you hiked Lion’s Head? What did you think of it? I hear a lot of locals do it every weekend!
Check out my Instagram highlights for the run-down of our hike and of course let me know what you think in the comments below.
‘Til next time! xx
Bo Kaap is one of the most recognisable backdrops in Cape Town. The brilliant hues of the houses are an incredible sight and you can’t help but smile! I was out in Cape Town for a wedding – yes another one! This time, my friends […]
If you’re looking for a great city break, Rome is a great option. Beautiful architecture, rich culture and delicious food – what more could you want! There was just too much to see (and eat) so I decided to do two separate posts. In this […]
I haven’t spent much time in Brixton but my friend Lauren is constantly raving about it, so when she suggested brunch at Canova Hall, I jumped at the opportunity.
The first thing you notice when you walk into Canova Hall is how (surprisingly) big the place is. The hints of old-school charm are brought to life by the new-school bustle of Brixton residents.
You can just as easily imagine brunching there on a Saturday morning as you can sipping a glass of wine on a Sunday evening.
I ordered the “Big Bacon Sandwich”, which comes with bacon, fried eggs, roast mushrooms, tomatoes, triple cooked chips and nduja ketchup. I was feeling pretty rough so asked them to remove everything but the bacon and eggs! (please don’t judge me *Chris Brown voice*)
Lauren had the avo toast, which she wolfed down before I could get a pic! I lie, I was too distracted by my bacon to remember to take any.
However, you can’t go to brunch and not have pancakes right? So we ordered a portion to share. I was definitely more impressed with the pancakes than the bacon sarnie (*gasps* I know, I’m shocked too)
All in all I wasn’t blown away by their food but absolutely loved the vibe of the place. I’d definitely come back for a drink.
…And off we went to explore some other Brixton spots…
There she is! Say hi to Lauren, my camera woman for the day! (she had no choice tbh)
Brixton definitely has many more gems, and the best Pasteis de Nata I’ve had outside Lisbon! Can’t wait to share more great spots with you guys.
Ok, bye now!
After what felt like the rainiest weekend in Marrakech, my friends and I had made the absolute best of the trip so far, but I for one was very pleased to see the sun come out on my birthday! We checked out of our Riad and headed […]
If you don’t know Joko Edu, you need to know! A Nigerian designer based in Lagos , her fabulous bags come in many different colours and styles but the Seyi is my absolute favourite. They are available off the shelf or can be personalised to your taste.
Marrakech has been on my bucket list for ages now, so for my birthday this year I was determined to make it out there. With three friends I booked flights for a long weekend away, but as luck would have it the weather was not on our side.
After weeks of sunshine and great weather, the weekend we went happened to be the coldest and rainiest they had experienced in a while. It rained for most of the trip but we made the most of it and still had a fabulous time!
Read on for some top tips on how to brave the city when the rain clouds come…
1. Embrace The Storm
Stormy weather or not, Marrakech can be a whirlwind of sight, sounds and experiences. Take the good with the bad and you’ll be sure to have a blast!
After a four-hour flight we touched down in Menara Airport, and no amount of immigration forms or eternal queues could dull our excitement.
We had organized an airport transfer and the lovely Abdul was waiting for us outside ready to take us to our Riad. Now let me let you in on a little secret: the driving is CRAZY in Marrakech!! C.R.A.Z.Y. It was only a 15 minute drive to the Medina where we were staying, but would you believe we had an accident in that time?!
Everyone seemed to be hurtling down the roads with minimal care, and our driver was no exception. Abdul was clearly very keen to get us home in record-time so was flying down the highway at great speed. Unfortunately not everyone got the memo: an old cart was ambling down the middle of the road and seemed to take Abdul by surprise. A last minute swerve saved us from running into him completely and thankfully no one was hurt…well except the wing mirror of our mini-bus. Welcome to Marrakech, ay?
2. Get “Mint-Tea” Fresh
There’s nothing like a nice cup of tea to warm you up on a dreary day, and that’s no different in Marrakech. Replace the Earl Grey with fresh mint tea and you’re all set…
As we arrived at the Riad we were warmly welcomed with cups of mint tea in a cosy “salon”. With the temperatures dropping outside, it was exactly what we needed to feel right at home.
We soon learned that the hospitality in Marrakech is unrivalled. We were offered cups of fresh mint tea just about everywhere we went. I must have had about 3 million cups out there, I’m now obsessed with the stuff!
3. Shop Till You (Rain) Drop
Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you can’t shop! I would definitely recommend a trip to Jemaa el Fna square and the souk, regardless of the weather.
We donned our warmest gear and headed out to explore the medina, thankfully there were many covered sections so all we had to do was focus on not stepping in puddles and not slipping in the mud!
Sellers called to us from their colorful shops and stalls trying to entice us to buy.
We couldn’t resist one’s seller’s charm and found ourselves sitting drinking mint tea with (another) Abdul, while he showed off his wares.
We walked on to Jemaa el Fna square, which was bustling with activity. Hawkers selling sunglasses, fruit sellers, snake charmers, some dude with a monkey…all sorts! The rain would not stop us or them, bring on Marrakech!
4. If You Can’t Beat ’em, Join ’em
If you’re going to get caught in the rain anyway, you may as well take the plunge and treat yourself to proper bath…at a Moroccan hammam
A relaxing spa day was just what we needed. Led by one of our hosts from the hotel, we made our way through the maze of alleyways until we got to the Mythic Oriental Spa.
A traditional hammam experience followed by a relaxing massage – we didn’t want to leave!
If you’ve never been to a hammam, or are wondering what the hell I’m talking about, all you need to know is that it’s an experience to remember! I’ll do a post all about it very soon – I’ll just say we were in for a surprise…
5. Party Like You Just Don’t Care
…that it’s raining. Don’t let the rain stop you, there are still fabulous nights out to be had!
One of the hosts at the Riad had recommended a restaurant called Jad Mahal . As we arrived you could tell it was “one of those places”. Everyone was dressed to the nines and it was choc full of beautiful people. Regardless, the vibe was absolutely great and food was delicious!
Their menu is fairly international with French, Thai, and traditional Moroccan cuisine. I opted for Thai food and it was phenomenal! Literally one of the best meals I have had in a while.
What made the evening though was the entertainment. Performers glided through the large rooms, dancing from table to table to the delight of us diners. Cabaret, belly dancing, fire tricks, they had it all!
Then as dinner wound down, the entertainment moved to the stage area where they had a live band singing everything from Journey to Bruno Mars! Better believe we danced our little hearts out, you would never know it was pouring with rain outside.
Once it was time to go home (at Lord-knows-what-time-of-the-morning), we simply hiked up our dresses, covered our heads and legged it from the door to the waiting taxi. No harm done!
Besides, we all need a little adventure in the rain every now and then…
Can you believe Real Life With Lou is a year old?! One whole year since I started this blog and it’s been a blast! It took me so long to get the balls to finally start it. For the longest time I umm-ed and ahh-ed […]
Hi Lovelies! I know it’s been a minute since I posted. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind with my birthday, trip to Morocco, work and the highlight – my close friend’s baby shower! Knowing that she’s having a baby boy we chose blue as […]
By now you must know I love my girlie catch ups over brunch. I was super excited to catch up with my friend Bambo after so long and where better than Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings?
We had heard great things about B&H Buildings: Instagram-worthy décor, a cosy fireplace and delicious food at great prices – yes please!
The first thing you notice about this place is how bright but cosy it feels. A mix of furniture and styles, but it all comes together to make a beautifully curated space, complete with a tropical-print chairs and a separate conservatory dining area.
Bambo and I wasted no time to order, starting of course with tea and coffee while we studied the menu.
We considered doing the bottomless brunch, but as I drove there alas it wasn’t to be. Besides I knew I would be taking pictures, and believe me you don’t want to see my blurry shots after two drinks!
So for food we both did the right thing and ordered pancakes. Bambo had the banana and coconut pancakes with berries.
I had the drop scones with bacon and maple syrup. (I’m legit addicted to bacon guys, this is a problem *hides face*)
Of course I can’t stop the smile across my face whenever I see good food!
Everything was just delicious! It’s funny how a seemingly small plates can fill you up so!
Bellies full, the next logical step was to walk off the food with a quick stroll to the nearby park.
And you know me, there was definitely a quick stop for a photo or three.
Plus Bambo’s outfit was so cute that she needed a whole shoot of her own! I say this girl needs to start a style blog already, don’t you agree?
We sat in the park for a while before eventually giving in to the cold and heading home.
A well-spent afternoon! And better believe I had the best nap after; didn’t you know naps are a great cure for a food-baby?!
Can you believe it’s nearly Christmas already?! If like me you’ve left your Christmas shopping to the very last minute then don’t worry, I’ve got you. Here are 12 last minute Christmas gift ideas to give you some inspiration. You can thank me later! Canvas […]
Hi Lovelies, hope you’ve all had a great week! I’m counting down to Christmas like no man’s business. It’s been ridiculously cold in London in the past couple of weeks so I’ve been dreaming of the perfect winter getaway. Here are a few of my […]
Hi Lovelies! So remember in my post about Duck & Waffle Local I mentioned that I was headed to a dance class with my girls? Well “dance class” doesn’t even cover it, it was more like a dance PARTY! Scroll all the way down for the video 🙂
Jenny from City Dance Parties hosted me and a group of friends* for a fun afternoon of dancing (and a lot of laughter).
She got us all warmed up and we learnt a short routine to one of my current favourite songs – Mi Gente!
Let’s just say the dancefloor was LIT! (pun intended :D)
We also did a cheeky little routine to Beyonce’s “Freakum Dress”. There were more than a few mishaps so I’ll be keeping that video to myself haha!
(Or who knows, I might just post in on my Instagram…you’ll have to follow me to find out 😉 )
All in all, it was a fabulous afternoon and a great way to bond with my girls.
I’m always looking for fun new things to do in London so I would totally recommend it. Check out the City Dance Parties website for more details on their classes.
*This dance class was complementary from City Dance Parties but all opinions are my own!
Hi Lovelies! I don’t know you’re as obsessed with Duck & Waffle as I am, but did you know there was a second branch?! Okay let’s start from scratch in case you’re wondering wtf I’m talking about. Duck & Waffle is the bombdiggity.com. Period. A restaurant on the 40th […]
Hi Lovelies! If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see that I have been obsessing over the autumn weather and recently shared this outfit on my feed. I wear a lot of black, especially in the winter, but occasionally I’m partial to a pop of […]
Today’s post is a bit of a different one to normal. Rather than my usual adventures, I wanted to address a question I get asked quite a lot: How Do You Afford To Travel So Much?
By no means am I professing to be some sort of jetsetter, but I do really enjoy travelling. I probably average 7-10 trips a year, and many people ask me how I’m able to do this.
First of all…I work hard for my money. I am not a full time blogger (not yet anyway) so I have a day job as a Project Manager. My company gives me 27 days a year of leave and believe me, I make the most of them. Plus I’m definitely not on a CEO salary, I have managed to make my money work for me since my first graduate job.
Here are some of they key things I do to make my trips possible:
How Do You Afford To Travel?
1. Plan Ahead
I mentioned that I am a Project Manager right? Well those skills come in handy when I’m planning my trips. Taking the time to plan trips means that you can find the best available options for your travels. Whether it’s comparing accommodation options, or using sites like Hopper to find the best time to book tickets, planning makes all the difference.
That’s not to say that last minute trips are off the table though. Some of the best and most affordable trips I’ve taken were booked last minute (my trip to Lisbon for example). But in general, I find I get much better deals when I plan ahead.
2. Stay Flexible
You will often get really great deals if you have some flex around the dates you can travel, and even better if you’re flexible about the location.
You can find amazing offers too if you are open to exploring different countries. Yes I know, it’s not very useful if you have a specific reason to travel somewhere such as for a wedding or to visit family, but if you are open to other locations you can benefit from flash sales and other money-saving promotions.
#RLWLTip – If you use Skyscanner to find flights, check out their “Everywhere” search function. When searching for flights, put in your local airport and dates, and instead of searching for a specific city, use “Everywhere” to get suggestions and pricing for potential destinations!
Also think about the timing of your trips. Flights and accommodation are often wayyyy more expensive during the school holidays. It may therefore be a good idea to avoid those times if you can. Even something like Valentine’s Day – if you want to have a “bae-cation”, why not travel and celebrate a week earlier or later? Your bank account will thank you (although “bae” might not!)
In the famous words of Britney Spears, you better work b****! And more than that, if you’re working like a dog and then subsequently spending all your hard-earned cash on all sorts, that’s not going to help get those passport stamps is it? You’d better look into saving those coins – and if you’re looking for ways to make the most of what you have, check out my post on 6 Tips for Dealing with Money.
Travel is often seen as something for those with a ton of disposable income, but it’s not limited to them. Saving a bit each month could be the key to getting yourself to the crystal clear waters of whichever tropical paradise you choose. And this brings me to my next point…
4. Work Out Your Priorities
This may actually be the most important point. Everyone has things that are important to them. These things usually take priority when it comes to spending whatever cash we have available.
For example, if you’re a massive foodie, you may decide to spend hundreds of pounds/dollars/*insert your currency here* on meals at Michelin star restaurants. Or you may be obsessed with horses (I’m thinking of you, Lauren) and spend your cash on riding lessons, stable fees and whatever else horse people spend money on haha.
The point is you will spend your money on whatever is important to you. Therefore if travel is a priority you will – in fact, must – make sure the funds to support it are secured before other things that are lower down on your list.
For example I probably spend most of my money on travel; shopping as another example is lower on my list, So you won’t find me spending copious amounts on designer gear when I can use that money to take my a** to the Bahamas! Obviously this is based on where I am in life at the moment, I don’t have kids yet so my money is spent on me! 😀
In essence, work out your list of priorities and where travel fits in for you.
5. Travel Smart
Now this is key. How many of you would buy something major like a car, or a house, or even an expensive handbag without first shopping around? I mean, if you have Beyoncé money then fair enough, do you boo! But I assume if you did, you wouldn’t be reading this.
So before and during your trips I would absolutely recommend shopping around and comparing on various travel-related products and services. Here are some of the top ones that spring to mind:
Ditch the credit card fees:
- Do not, I repeat, do not use your normal cards abroad. I personally do not believe in paying unnecessary fees for such. Either get currency before you go (I personally don’t ’cause I don’t do cash, honey) or get a credit card that doesn’t charge you fees for use abroad. I use the Halifax Clarity credit card. They don’t charge any fees for use abroad or to withdraw cash while you’re there! Their interest rates are really high though, so I always pay off the full balance every month.
Rethink Package Holidays
- Be sure to compare the cost of package holidays with the cost of booking everything separately. Although sometimes it works to book hotel and accommodation together, quite a few times I have found that it made more sense to book the two separately, and I could get a nicer hotel for less.
- Although I’m not as enthused as I once was about Airbnb, I have to admit that they are pretty good for budget travelling (without suffering). I personally don’t do hostels, just not my cup of tea, but renting a private room/apartment for a trip has worked really well for me. Of course, safety is key so I tend to stay in hotels if I’m travelling by myself. Obviously do what feels right for you.
Avoid Last-Minute Airport Buys
- Try to avoid buying anything at the airport if you can, as it’s almost always massively overpriced. Use lists to make sure you’ve bought and packed everything before you leave home. I’m sure no one wants to buy a travel adaptor at the airport for three times the price because they forgot to bring one (doh!) #beenthere
And that’s it, my tips on how I afford to travel so much. Do you guys have any other tips? Let me know in the comments below!
It feels good to be back home in London, after spending most of the summer away. In case you missed it, check out my adventures in San Diego and Lisbon. Now it’s back to reality and as much as I never thought I’d say this […]
Happy hump day people! Hope you’re having a good week. For me, it’s my last week before I go back to work so I’m mentally preparing for having more structure to my days. But in the meanwhile I’m slowly getting back to my normal (read: fabulous) […]
If you’ve been following my blog or my Instagram stories, you’ll know I took some time off to travel and spent some time in the US. San Diego was my first stop, and I spent a gorgeous afternoon in Coronado (check out the post here, in case you missed it). Afterwards I headed to Little Italy to meet my friend Nat for a drink. As a true San Diegan, Little Italy was high on her list of areas to hang out.
We strolled along the main boulevard, it has such a great vibe. I don’t think I’ve seen so many wine bars packed into such a small space. There are craft beer houses, rooftop bars, cocktail bars, cute little restaurants – the list goes on!
Here are three amazing places to try in Little Italy; you can easily do drinks, dinner then dessert!
1. Drinks: Craft & Commerce
Craft & Commerce is a hip bar on West Beech street. Popular with the locals, it may be a bit of a struggle to get a table. (We found out the hard way!) By the time we got there the bar was already pretty packed with a 30 minute wait.
The décor is absolutely brilliant though! After a year of renovations the bar was reopened in the summer of 2017. From the “Demand Less” sign outside, to the books lining the wall, the vibe is just everything!
2. Dinner: Ironside
Ironside Fish & Oyster is a bar and restaurant right on India Street. They serve delicious seafood and equally delicious cocktails. Food is served in the nautical-themed dining area but there is also a super trendy seating area by the bar, which was where Nat and I sat for drinks and nibbles.
I would recommend the Octopus a la Plancha small plate – it’s just divine! They recently also started a pop up event called the Chef’s Catch Dinner. I haven’t tried it myself but it sounds very promising…
3. Dessert: iDessert
Of course we couldn’t let the evening go without a little sweet treat. We stopped at a spot called iDessert. It’s a cool little café where you can build your own crepes, sundaes and other delicious sweets.
The whole custom order thing is done by iPad too!
(Naturally daaaar-ling, this is 2017, of course they’re way too cool to force people to make awkward conversation with the cashier when placing an order haha).
And there you have it, three great places to try the next time you’re in San Diego. Have you been to Little Italy before? Which other great places would you recommend? Let me know in the comments below!
Over the summer I managed to wrangle quite a bit of time off work to do some exploring. My first stop was Portugal (in case you missed it, check out 5 Reason to love Lisbon and this amazing Portuguese steakhouse). After a quick stop in […]
Hi Lovelies! Hope you’ve all had a great week. I’ve had a restful one recovering from my eye surgery and meeting my friend’s newborn baby boy. He’s adorable and I’m absolutely obsessed! As you might know, I was out in New York a few weeks […]
Oh Lisbon! What a beautiful city. I booked a trip there on a spur of the moment. I had taken time off work and was determined to squeeze in a quick trip before travelling to Nigeria for my friend’s wedding. Monday morning I was up at the crack of dawn and booked my flights and hotel for Tuesday for three days.
You’ll notice a recurring theme with a lot of my travel posts: I tend to only spend a few days in a new country/city. Why? 1. Naturally I have a limited number of vacation days which I try to maximise, and more importantly 2. I find that with a short timeframe, I am more likely to seize the day and explore as much as possible! Lisbon was no different, I savoured each moment of my short trip to this beautiful city. Here are five reasons to love Lisbon:
1. The Pasteis de Nata
Yooooo! Guys, I’ll admit I didn’t even know what these were before I went to Portugal, but now I’m obsessed. These little custard tarts are everywhere in Lisbon and they are just DELICIOUS. Yummy pastry shells with a bruléed custard filling (yes y’all “bruléed – we’re fancy haha!) They are to die for. I got to the point where I wasn’t even eating meals, just filling up on these.
One place I absolutely loved was the Pastelaria Santo Antonio, which is near Castelo de Sao Jorge.
Another great place was a little cafe I found walking from my hotel to the old town, It was right beside a pretty water feature in the shade of some trees. I spent a good hour or so reading and people-watching while I enjoyed my tart and hot chocolate.
Now I’m back home, I’m actually tempted to try out a recipe for these. I found what seems to be a great recipe on Leite’s Culinaria. Of course I’ll let you guys know how it goes, make sure you keep an eye out on my Insta Stories to see it first!
2. The Food
Right, so the few meals I did have were just epic. There were two restaurants in particular that I would absolutely recommend. The first, Capricciosa, a casual restaurant with outdoor seating on the Santo Amaro dock. You have to try the seafood linguine, it was mind-blowing – so good that I nearly ordered a second plate! You know that feeling when you know you’re full but you’re really sad that your plate is nearly empty so you consider pushing past and eating more? That was me! Thankfully the urge to not be an orobo* prevailed, and I respected myself and stopped there haha.
(*orobo = fattie)
The second restaurant was Atalho Real where I got my entire life from one meal! It was that good. So good I did an entire gushing post about it here. Delicious steak, delicious sides, delicious wine. What more could anyone want?
3. The Monuments and Historical Sites
From the “Torre de Belem” to the Jeronimos Monastery (both of which are UNESCO world heritage sites btw), Lisbon’s rich history is reflected in beautiful monuments, sites and museums. I’ll admit the crowds can be overwhelming but the sights are so worth it!
The Belem Tower was impressive but the queues were insane. I settled on a view from the outside because my patience just couldn’t hack the wait.
The Jeronimos Monastery was equally beautiful and surrounded by beautiful gardens and fountains.
The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology lives up to its name and is another impressive figure along the water.
Further along the bank is the Monument to the Discoveries.
Praca do Comercio
4. The Nightlife
Before I went I had heard great things about Lisbon nightlife. I didn’t get to many bars as I only had two nights, and spent the first in my hotel room, ordering room service in my bathrobe! (don’t judge).
I did however manage a proper night out on my second day. A couple of my friends happened to be in town for a wedding so we met up and headed to K Urban Beach, a beachfront club. It’s a bit of a random spot, with party goers of all types and a mix of music on the dance-floor but I had the best time! I would definitely recommend you go at least once for the experience.
5. The Views
As far as cities go, Lisbon has to be one of the prettiest I’ve ever seen. A great way to take in the sights is by visiting some of the amazing rooftops bars and restaurants.
I went to the Sky Bar at the top of the Tivoli Hotel, which boasts delicious cocktails and spectacular views of the city – especially at sunset.
Another great rooftop is at Chapito, near the Castelo de Sao Jorge. They serve food on their terrace too but I would recommend booking in advance or be ready to wait a while! It’s a cosy and casual vibe and the views add to the ambience.
Have you been to Lisbon, what was your favourite part? Let me know in the comments below.
Hi lovelies! Today I’m going to tell you all about this amazing little spot in Victoria Park, Stratford called Pavilion Cafe. Living in the east end of London myself, I’m always on the lookout for new brunch spots close to home. So when my friend Ahmad […]
The past couple of months have been crazy! I really needed some time to clear my head, so what did I do? – I booked a solo trip…or three 😀 A lot of my friends thought I was crazy but I promise you it was […]
Hi Lovely People! Hope you’re having a great week 🙂
I’m sure you saw my post about my trip to Dubrovnik in Croatia, if not check it out. I decided on an all white wardrobe (or mostly white, I should say) for this trip…because why not right? 😀 I tend to wear A LOT of black in general so have been making a conscious effort to branch out. White can look really stylish and elegant, and given the fabulous weather, where better to rock it than on holiday in Croatia? Here’s an ode to the end of the summer…
Croatia All White Look Book
Outfit 1 – Parisian Pencil
For the flight I wore this pencil dress from Parisian (available at ASOS). It has actually become one of my favourites as it’s so simple and comfortable. It can easily be dressed up or down depending on where you’re headed. I was so comfortable in it that I didn’t bother changing when we landed.
Pros – Stylish, comfortable, can get away with not wearing a bra (always a plus!)
Cons – I found the slit at the back ripped quite easily, thankfully no major wardrobe malfunction
Outfit 2 – Maxi Glow
My second outfit was this maxi dress from Miss Selfridge. I absolutely loved the simplicity of it, you’ll find that I use the word “simple” a lot when it comes to my favourite looks. I would like to think that my style is simple but elegant so I gravitate towards pieces that give me that vibe.
Pros – Scuba neckline is super-flattering and creates the illusion of long sleek lines i.e. I think it makes me look slimmer haha!
Cons – It was not very forgiving after I had dinner, my tummy seemed to have it’s own postcode. Of course I had to “suck belle” for the pictures
Outfit 3 – Pretty Playful
Technically my third and fourth outfits were worn in Montenegro (have you seen the post about my Day Trip to Montenegro yet?) but I’ll include them here anyway
This off shoulder playsuit was from Bershka and I fell in love as soon as I laid eyes on it
Pros – Looks pretty!
Cons – I found the sizing a tiny bit too small. Perhaps because I’m a quite tall (I’m 5’8) I found it constricting along my torso, like the feeling when you wear a swimsuit that’s too small lol
Outfit 4 – Beach Babe
This was the second of my Montenegro outfits. (Yes, I got changed there – I’m extra like that!)
The plan was to wear my bikini by the beach but we ended up walking along the strip instead. I simply wore my denim shorts over my bikini bottoms and added the oversized shirt to keep the scorching sun off my shoulders.
I still got to rock the bikini at the hotel pool though…
Outfit 5 – A Little Grey
This simple – there’s that word again – dress was from ASOS a long while ago. You may have noticed I wore the black version on my Trip to Tenerife. I saw the orange version on one of my friends a few years ago, so I bought it in three colours! As you can probably tell, I’m a BIG fan of pencil dresses. This colour is more of a very light grey than white but abeg allow me 😀
Pros – Classic vibe, great for staying cool
Cons – Colour is not necessarily the most forgiving. The black version however, hides a multitude of sins!
Outfit 6 – Ruffle Glory
Now this one was really something. You guys know I couldn’t go all the way to Croatia and not “Give Dem” [translation: go all the way Beyonce on ‘em, or in plain English dress like a superstar!]
This dress though! Another ASOS find, and I felt like a million bucks in my off-shoulder ruffle glory 😀 I had absolutely nowhere to wear this to but rocked it anyway – I mean, why the hell not?!
I would totally recommend it though: the next time you go on holiday, pack one over the top outfit that makes you feel like an absolute goddess (or god, for the lads) and just rock it. You’ll feel amazing, believe me. And the beauty is, even if you feel a bit silly, no one knows who you are. For all they know you’re a millionaire movie director – own it!
Pros – It’s FABULOUS
Cons – Spanx are so necessary! (this is clearly a recurring problem for me at the moment haha)
Outfit 7 – Take The Plunge
And finally this gorgeous plait-back plunge swimsuit from ASOS. Ordinarily I prefer bikinis but this suit was so chic and flattering that I just had to get it.
Pros – Super flattering
Cons – More suited to sitting around looking cute as it definitely felt like there would be a nip-slip at any given moment! But that could just be me *shrugs*
And that’s it, a good way to see out the summer style-wise – I’ll be going back to black! Do you wear a lot of white on holiday? Let me know in the comments below and as usual if you enjoyed this post, feed my ego and leave a like or comment 😀
If you saw my previous post about my Day Trip to Montenegro you’ll remember I mentioned that my friend Nono came to visit, and we went on a girls’ trip to Dubrovnik in Croatia. We got there on a Wednesday morning, dropped our bags at […]
Hey Lovelies, hope you’ve had a great week. I myself have had a fantastic one! I’m currently sitting in an air-conditioned room in Nigeria – thoroughly pampered and completely relaxed. In case you were wondering, no, I have not become a fully-fledged lady of leisure […]
Review of Atalho Real in Lisbon, Portugal – A Meat-lover’s Paradise! This Lisbon steak and burger house serves a variety of meat dishes and delicious sides. Check out their website for more information.
Lisbon Steak House
Guys, I literally could not wait to share details of this amazing restaurant! I’m currently on the plane back to London, typing furiously. I ate there just a few hours ago but guys the food touched my soul *sobs*
Okay, I’ll dial it back a little bit – they call me the drama llama at work and I better not give them any further ammunition haha. But seriously that meal was everything!
Right, let’s back-pedal a little: Hi guys, how are you doing? Long time no-post from my side but I’ve just been living the baby-girl life out in these streets – and dealing with a few life things, but more on that another day. I mentioned I was on a flight back home to London. Context: on Monday morning I booked a flight to Lisbon, Portugal and was on the flight by 7am on Tuesday. (That’s how I roll now, apparently – yassssss hunny *flips hair*)
So I spent two and a bit days in Lisbon – short and sweet (blog post coming soon) – and on my last day (i.e. today) I discovered the amazing Atalho Real. At the start of the trip I had grand plans to find a million restaurants to try out and fulfil my foodie needs. However, with the heat I could barely manage two meals a day, let alone the four or so I would have needed to fit in all my restaurant goals. Today though, I was determined to go out with a bang. I decided on this Lisbon steak house because I hadn’t eaten much red meat on this trip. I checked out of the hotel, left my bag with the concierge and set out on the 48-minute walk from my hotel to the restaurant. (Yes, 48 minutes – Trailwalker has changed me guys!)
The walk led me to the gates of a pretty looking building with a couple of seating areas outside. Turns out the restaurant was actually converted from the old kitchen of the Embaixada Palace. As I made my way inside I was greeted warmly by the waitress and offered a table inside a simply-decorated, high-ceilinged dining area. I couldn’t wait to order!
For starters, I chose the “Pica-pau”. Sliced tenderloin steak served with delicious crusty bread they call “bolo do caco” and two dipping sauces. Up until this point I still wasn’t sure if this place would live up to my expectations, until I tasted it – WOW! Tender and juicy, well-balanced by the dips – one mustard-based, and the other I believe was Molho Cru, a Portuguese sauce similar to chimichurri.