How to make the most out of your holiday

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Holiday season is upon us!

All you have to do is take a glance at instagram and whoop there it is… photos galore of beyond-beautiful backdrops, perfect beach bods and ultimate baecation goals.

Whether you’ve sorted an extravagant caribbean getaway or a chic short city break in Europe, there’s a few things that I always consider before finalising my holiday plans that I think can help anyone when wanting to find the best destination as well as planning to make the most out of your holiday.

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1.Research any events happening.
I’m the type of person who is always on the hunt for something new to do in London. And to be honest, this is no different to when I’m going abroad. My top tip to making the most our your holiday is to find events happening in the place you plan to visit around the time you’re going. A music festival, a beach party, a food market – if there’s something you’re interested in, more times than not, places in your chosen destination will have events for you to attend. This is also a great opportunity to get out and explore too… who knows you may even make a few new friends on the way.

2.Discover cool places to eat.
Much like the way I research events, I am religiously on the hunt for new eateries. I pretty much plan my day around food, from what time I think I’ll be hungry to what I’m going to scoff down next, even as I’m finishing the meal in front of me.

I’m lucky enough not to be allergic to anything *touch wood* which gives me the freedom to enjoy exploring new flavours and foods, so, one of my favourite pastimes is to look up restaurants (non chains) to see where I can eat next. Pinterest and Instagram (trust me, utilise these platforms) are my favourite tools for this as you get to see great photos from real life people (Tripadvisor doesn’t hurt either!).

This goes hand-in-hand with my first point too. If you’ve found an event to attend, finding a nice spot to brunch it up, or have a romantic evening meal at, nicely finishes off a day out, so keep you eyes out for double-tap worthy food.

3.Don’t Rely on Reviews.
One valuable piece of advice I’d pass on is to not solely rely on reviews. Now, I’m not saying to dismiss reviews completely, but, weigh out your options. Consider price, star ratings and ‘traveller photos’ and carefully read what you’ll get for your money. Whether for a restaurant or hotel, always remember you may like things that some people may not, so relax and look forward to making up your own mind and making your own memories.

After all every experience is a lesson learned.

4.Make a Loose Itinerary.
I love to be organised and everything, but after one holiday to Barcelona, where I had a solid plan for every day of our trip, I think it’s worth remembering, a holiday, is for exploring a new culture and way of life, BUT, it’s also a gateway to utter relaxation (in my world anyway). So, with that being said, I would make a loose plan of pre-booked trips and activities and keep in mind excursions that you’d like to go on, so you have the option to book it while you’re there. The last thing you want to do waste money.

5.Enjoy every day as it comes.
Last but not least, enjoy your time away. Many a time, we put all our energy into planning, that when we get there we’ve already lived out our holiday online. Take the day as it comes and try to enjoy every minute of it.

Do you have any tips, to ensure you make the most out of your holiday, I’d love to know?

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My Caribbean Adventure: 2 Weeks in Jamaica

Jamaica seems like a very distant memory right now, and all I keep thinking about is how much I was enjoying life 😒💚❤️️💛.

My two week adventure in Kingston was definitely one to remember. Split into two parts, I was able to see the real Jamaica and experience its unforgettable people and culture, as well the perfectly-packaged tourist ready version of the island.

Week 1

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Soaking up the sun, and drinking WATA!

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As mentioned in my previous blog, this was my first trip to Jamaica. Kingston is where my grandma grew up, where my dad visited when he was younger, so I was more than excited to experience what they had always talked about.

‘Uppa country’ as locals like to say, is where I called home for the first seven days. (Funnily enough when I got back to the UK I learned that my grandma actually grew up on the same road as where I was staying. Coincedence much?!) Beautiful views, windy country roads, fresh food, is all what consumed my time.

No internet, no TV, just living simply. To some this may sound like hell, but in all honesty it was a relief. Detoxifying even. This is what going away is all about (for me anyway) and it was lovely not to have any distractions and to simply chat, listen, learn and enjoy life.

The week now seems like a blur, I guess the saying ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ is true. The cool late nights playing dominoes or dancing merged into the days where I sat in the sun drinking bag juice. I felt like this is what life is meant to be like 100% of the time – no time keeping, just taking the time to have fun and be.

Week 2

After enjoying a week with family, it was time to move to our airbnb.

Now, can I just take a moment to praise how convenient and affordable airbnb is in Jamaica. We found some beautiful gems to rent, but, settled for an apartment opposite the Bob Marley museum. Super convenient, modern and it even had a pool which we never actually used, but it was nice to have the option, especially as we were hours away from any natural beach.

Being in Jamaica was a gave me nothing short of a whirlwind of emotions, but ultimately it taught me to be confident… unapologetically, inside and out. It’s a mantra that many of us talk about and try to omit, but honestly speaking I didn’t feel conscious about myself, about my weight, about my race and it was lovely to just live life. Maybe this was down I to me being in my natural habitat, being comfortable in my surroundings, and in my skin, it was a feeling that I surely will never forget.

 

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We most definitely caught the beach bug and headed even further to Ocho Rios – Turtle Tower beach the day after too.

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Turtle Tower Beach
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Watching Dolphins
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Turtle Tower Beach
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What does this look like to you? #PumPum Rock
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Views from Portland

 

 

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Hope you enjoyed… I know I did!

Are you off anywhere special in the coming months?

Perusing Paris:

I cannot believe it’s been over a week since my impromptu weekend away in (insert French accent)… Paris!

A girly trip away is sometimes, in fact always needed, and who better else to spend it with than the blogging gal pals… if you don’t know who I’m talking about check this post. I mean who else truly understands the art, and struggle, of capturing the perfect Instagram post? Only the blogging queens, that’s who! 😂

Our trip was short and sweet, but definitely a barrel of laughs. We fit so much in (thanks Chrissy) that I feel like I actually saw Paris and experienced a little bit of culture – although now that I think of it I didn’t try a croissant – major faux pas! 😱

Whether you’ve been to Paris once ,like me or more there’s so much to do and see. So if you’re planning a romantic trip to France with bae or simply want a have a girly weekend away with your besties, here are some places you should definitely and visit…

Louvre
We visited the Louvre on our first night and it was everything! I’ve always seen so many pictures of people doing the whole pinching the tip thing (lol) but to actually be there and take in the view was something else. We didn’t actually go inside, but just seeing the beauty of the architecture and surrounding buildings was enough, plus, guess I can explore further next time 👍🏾

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Eiffel Tower
Who goes to Paris and doesn’t see the Eiffel Tour?! Like, seriously it is amazing and steeped in history. Did you know it’s re-painted every 7 years and it takes 60 tonnes of paint to cover it? Absolutely crazy! It is recommended that you see at least once in daylight and again at night because it’s truly spectacular, and you really get to see its personality and detail in different light.

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Notre Dame
I can’t believe I got to visit the backdrop to one of my favourite Disney films 🐵. To be honest I was left a little disappointed. I don’t know what it was but I thought there would be more. Nevertheless, the cathedral is beautiful and there are plenty of places to eat nearby.

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Sidenote: If you have the chance to visit don’t let any of the artists outside draw a caricature of you, absolute waste of time and money – if you saw my instastory you know what I’m on about 👀

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Champs de Elysee
There are no words to describe how charming and beautiful this avenue is. I felt so Parisian just walking up to the Arc de Triomphe. There’s only one way to see the Champs de Elysee and it’s at night – definitely the perfect destination for a romantic late night stroll.

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River Cruise and River Seine
If you love to immerse yourself in local history, I would really recommend taking a cruise down River Seine, which is practically next to Notre Dame, so not far to walk. The hour long trip was only €12 and it took us past really cool landmarks  It’s so picturesque and definitely worth the trip if you want to see a lot in one go. Before you take a boat trip, don’t forget to visit one of the many love lock bridges and attach a lock that’ll be there forever… or at least until they take it down – One bridge has collapsed 11 times due to the weight of locks.

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Places to Eat

When you go to France it’s only right that you eat right too so hit up these places.

Street Vendor Crepes 

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La Pere Claude 

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PaperBoy Paris 

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Paris was such a dream. So multicultural and historical. Exploring in -4 degree temperatures is not exactly my ideal holiday, but definitely a trip to remember. I can only imagine just how much the beauty of the city shines through in the summer months.

Paris seems like a distant memory but, 2017 is all about new adventures and travels so I can’t wait to share where I’m off to next…

Have you been to Paris, what was your favourite thing to do? Also, what’s your favourite French word?

How to Travel the World While Working Full Time

If you follow me on any other social media platforms you’ll know that I’ve been suffering with some serious wanderlust. Like why can’t my full time job not be blogging, travelling and blogging about my travels?

I just know that I’m not meant to work (don’t we all lol) which is why I thought it’s about time I do a post on how to travel when you work full time, because somehow, I manage to.

I consider myself pretty lucky to have been able to travel to two beautiful destinations (Thailand & Dubai)  already this year and hopefully (god-willing) I’ll have another trip sorted before Christmas, but, I have to say, I haven’t spent my work holiday allowance wisely this year, and I know I’m not alone.

What I do know is that wanting to travel while holding down a full time job is definitely possible, although very inconvenient.

So, although I haven’t followed these rules as strictly as I’d have liked to this year due to my personal life, here’s a few tips for those of you who want to make the most out of your holiday and travel the world, one destination at a time, while also keeping a full time job…

Use Bank Holidays & Weekends to your advantage. This has to be the golden rule. If you haven’t tried this trick, where have you been?! To get more days off for less, it’s smart to plan your travels around major UK holidays, Bank Holidays and weekends. For example a great month to try this is May as we get two bank holidays plus weekends!

Prioritise, Prioritise, Prioritise. Once you’ve booked your holiday, it’s easy to get carried with how many days you need after to ‘recover’ from jet lag. I am so guilty of this, but it’s really so unnecessary, especially if you’ve only taken a trip Barcelona where there’s only like 1 hour time difference. To save days it may be worth taking a half day. This really comes in handy when your days start to run low. Plus, it means of you have a weekend getaway planned with an evening flight, you can leave a little earlier on a Friday, just bring your suitcase to the office! If you’re lucky enough to have an amazing manager, they may even let you off officially taking a half day which means you can save it for another time!

Weekend Getaways. Never under estimate the power of the weekend getaway. For the longest time I’ve slept on trips around the UK, and I really don’t know why as there are plenty of beautiful places that you would never believe are a couple hours away from your doorstep. Brighton, Cornwall, Devon, Scotland… and of course the Lake District are now on my ‘to-do’ list. Meaning I can travel more without having to spend ‘holiday’ on well needed weekend breaks – a great way to becoming well-travelled.

Work overtime. If you’re unfortunate enough to work full time with very limited holiday, maybe having a word with your manager or HR officer will allow you to get a few extra days holiday, by working overtime. It’s a great way to accumulate extra days and you’ll be getting paid that little bit extra which can only mean one think = more holidays!

Be Kind to your colleagues. This doesn’t happen in every company, but it’s common that department members who are not allowed to go on holiday at the same time as each other.  If you’re lucky enough to have a cool relationship with your fellow colleague who wants to take the same time off as you do, it wouldn’t harm asking if they could maybe rearrange their time off, it’s all about negotiation. After all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

So, these are a few tips that have helped me travel when I desire, do you have any tips/tricks?

 

 

Living the Dubai Life

I’ve been procrastinating on this post for the last two weeks, for two reasons.
1. I cannot believe I’m back to reality.
2. It was the most surreal holiday experiences I’ve ever had.

So let me start from the beginning.

As a birthday treat my parents paid for my holiday to Dubai – I know right, so lucky!

My family and I went for 5 days (which in my opinion, is a great amount of time to do everything) and stayed at the Movenpick JLT hotel – a beautiful hotel with an infinity pool and around 30 mins from Dubai Mall.

I really don’t know where to start, so I thought I’d dedicate this post to answering some the most common questions I’ve had from friends:

How hot was it?

Let me start by telling you it was HOT! I don’t know why I was so surprised as we did actually go in August – one of the hottest months in Dubai with temperatures reaching over 50 degrees – so yes, it was very hot.

However, it wasn’t unbearable. On the day we landed, I didn’t think I’d be able to survive. As soon as you go outside from the air conditioned airport the heat hits you right in the face. It’s a very dry, thick heat but you do acclimatise to it pretty quickly, plus everywhere has air con 😖

After 2 days feeling the heat was glorious, had me feeling like some melanin goddess all day every day… just call me the bronzed goddess!

What was it like?

Dubai is undeniably beautiful. Everything is so big and futuristic. The technology is so ahead of the ‘western world’ that its skyline looks like something out of a sci-fi movie… an urban metropolis.

The traditional food is tha bomb and the people are so friendly. I cannot wait to plan another trip to be honest!

Was it expensive?

Hell yes! I wouldn’t advise anyone going to Dubai, especially for 5 days without money, not that you would go away without any funds, but you get what I mean, it was expensive, and while we were over there, we learned that the Brexit results had made currency exchange worse.

In saying that, Dubai has such an allure and charm, that you don’t even mind spending and splurging that little bit extra, because everything is so magnificent. The Emerati people know how to do it BIG.

What’s there to do apart from shop?

First of all the malls are insane, and I wouldn’t blame anyone who just goes there to shop, because it’s LIT.

The malls over there are 1000x better than UK’s Westfields, during our time there, we visited twice and we didn’t even cover half of the mall.

Other than shopping though, there’s so much else to do, like visiting one the world’s biggest water theme parks, driving through the crazy sand dunes and exploring the views from the highest point in the world -The Burj Khalifa.

BUT, I’ll go into that on my next post, so stay tuned!

Is the culture strict?

I was so nervous to go to Dubai, because of what I had heard about it’s strict rules on how females should dress etc, but honestly I had nothing to worry about.

I would say as long as you are in the city and in areas where there are other tourists, you can dress very laid back, and could to the mall in shorts and a cami. But, I think it just comes down to showing respect and not showing too much skin.

If you decide to go out of the tourist areas, carrying a light scarf to throw around your shoulders is fine too. It’s all about being respectful.

Would I go back?

Errrrrm. YES! Visiting Dubai has been nothing but a dream.

I’m sure I’ve left loads out, so check out a few of my pics from this vacay and stay tuned for my next post all about the top 5 things you should do in Dubai!

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Thailand Adventures: 5 things you need to do in Phuket

For 10 beautiful days, I was living a life of luxury in Phuket, Thailand ‘The Land of Smiles’ and I loved every minute of it. The weather, the people, the culture and of course the food (ugghhh guys you need to try Tom Yum Goong) gave me a life refresh I was in dire need for.

If you’re planning or have already planned your summer getaway and Phuket is on your brain you won’t regret it.

Phuket is a popular destination in Thailand and there really is so much to do, perfect for every type of personality, so I thought I’d fill you in on 5 things you NEED to do during your time there.

A Day Tour
After arriving at your hotel, it can be a bit daunting to actually go out and explore, as you have no idea where to go. A day tour can be the perfect remedy to familiarise yourself with your new surroundings and see the real Thailand, not just the atmosphere in your hotel. Depending on who you book with, they’ll show you landmarks, beaches, and places to shop, and should stop off at certain points for you to enjoy and explore for yourself. On my day tour, the most memorable locations were a view point where could see the coast and visiting the beautiful temples in Chalong.

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Elephant Trek
Going on an Elephant trekking experience is a MUST! It truly was a life changing experience, I can’t really explain my own feelings as the whole day was unbelievable, but it was amazing to be able to touch, feed and ride such a majestic creature. SIDENOTE: Find a reputable company that properly cares for its animals.

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Thai Massage
You cannot go to Thailand and not get a massage – there’s a massage parlour on EVERY road! However, if you want to spoil yourself, there are more romantic massage experiences where you can go on another island and spend the day. Whether you opt for an actual Thai massage or not is up to you. It’s a relaxing experience that’s really nice to do with your other half or your bestie, and is a treat that nicely ends your thai holiday with a bit of pampering and relaxation.

Island Tour
Thailand is surrounded by picturesque islands. Take a speedboat tour to Phi Phi or James Bond Island and go snorkelling – it’s absolutely amazing how many fish surround you, an underwater camera won’t do it justice! Picking a good all round tour is vital though, so try and find one that stops off at different islands along the way, giving you plenty of snorkelling opportunities and gives you a chance to explore the little islands, to get the perfect pic or just lay on the beach, until it’s time to go to the next one.

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Street Food
Do I really need to say any more. The local food is tastes amazing and is super cheap.  Opposite our hotel we had scoped a family run open ‘restaurant’ (it wasn’t really a restaurant) and the food was delicious, I fell in love with their Tom Yum Goong soup which is meant to be a Thai favourite. If you love seafood you won’t be at a loss either, as many places have fresh sea food that’s delivered every day, so you can pick what seafood you want before you sit down and they cook whatever you choose. Phuket also has a great nightlife and they definitely know how to party, so if you like to let loose on holiday and have a little drink, Thai’s pull no punches when it comes to alcohol and they are known for a strong mojito – does it get any better?!

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My time in Phuket was a dream (I’ll be sharing more about what I got up to in my travel series) and there’s so much more to do than my list of 5, but I was so glad I did them. Of course there’s more options like hiring a motorcycle (if you decide to brave the Thai roads I applaud you) or visiting a tiger sanctuary, and just taking time out to visit Patong beach.

Time flies when you’re having fun, so if you can, plan a few excursions before you arrive in as it’s definitely worthwhile, and you may also find cheaper deals which is always a great thing!

Have you visited Thailand, what was your favourite thing to do?

 

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