How To Take Better Photos On Your Phone

If you’ve ever looked at images on the internet and wondered how it was taken or why your images don’t look like that? You’ve come to the right place! I’m going to show you how to take better photos on your phone and how to edit them for upload, in less than 5 minutes.

Understand your light

When it comes to figuring out how to take better photos the principal step is knowing where and what your light source is.

Camera Light explained

Perspective – What are you trying to capture?

As broad as that sounds, it’s honestly something you need to figure out. Who or what is your subject? Once you’ve established that you can begin of thinking of ways to capture them in the best way.

The first step would be to turn on your Gridlines:

To switch the grid on …

  • iPhone: Go to “Settings,” choose “Photos & Camera,” and switch “Grid” on.
  • Samsung Galaxy: Launch the camera app, go to “Settings,” scroll down and switch the “grid lines” option to “on.”

Now you can begin to play with composition (‘Where things are going to be’). [Here] is a great selection of different types of composition you can play around with. Just by duplicating their composition style you’ll see before your very own eyes, how the placement of your surroundings can improve your photos.

Shoot to edit

This is the bit I probably enjoy the most. You’ve done easy work, you now know how to take better photos. Now comes the part where you can really make your image stand out amongst the crowd.

Below are some sample iPhone 6s Images I captured during my travels. I’m going to show you how you can edit them from standard to amazing using the app SnapSeed.

Images that are brighter and contain more blue tones are known to do more favorably on Instagram.

Below are two different types of images, both shot in two different light environments.

Boracay, Philippines.

This simple edit is really easy to achieve, tweaking only a few settings on SnapSeed.

SnapSeed Dashboard - PalmTree - FlunkingMonkey

Above you can see the array of editing options you can select from in SnapSeed. For this edit, all I am going to be using is the Tune Image and Curves sections.

SnapSeed Tune - PalmTree - FlunkingMonkey

The best way to learn how to use this tool is to look at what the extremes of each setting do to the image. You will slowly begin to realise how to use these tweaks to adjust your image to where you want it to be.

SnapSeed Tune Edit - PalmTree - FlunkingMonkey

In my original image, I knew that it was already bright but it didn’t really pop so I increased the brightness and then reduced the highlights to bring back some detail in the distance. As I was standing under the palm tree there was a lot of shadows so I chose to lift some of that away to bring back more of the leaf details. Lastly, I knew the original image was sort of just one solid colour, so I desaturated the blues and added slight ‘orange’ through the warmth slider, replicating the sun.

SnapSeed Curves - PalmTree - FlunkingMonkey

The last step I tend to take whenever editing images on my phone are to adjust the image curves. The curves control the light in the image, splitting the graph in the quarters the top right quarter controls the overall highlights and the bottom left controls the overall shadows.

I like to push the highlights to add a bit of glow to the image whilst slightly deepening the shadows. As a final adjustment, I usually push up where the base of the line curve starts to add a bit of fade to the image, which gives it that extra bit of depth.

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.

 

SnapSeed Dashboard - Ha Long Bay - FlunkingMonkey

As you can see the light in Ha Long Bay was very different to that of in Boracay. What I want the viewer to focus on here is very different. So here I’m only going to focus on the top two sections, Tune image and Details.

SnapSeed Details - Ha Long Bay - FlunkingMonkey

In my original picture a lot of the details in the islands was blown out due to the light, so to bring some of that detail back in I have to increase the structure and sharpen the image.

SnapSeed Details Edit - Ha Long Bay - FlunkingMonkeyOnce completed I only now had to tune the photo to get to where I needed it.

SnapSeed Tune Image - Ha Long Bay - FlunkingMonkey

I knew my main focus here was to bring out more of the deep greens of Ha Long Bay, so by increasing the Saturation more of the colour started to pop. By reducing the Highlights less reflection of light was visible on the water really allowing it to POP!

Well, I hope you guys found this guide quick and easy to follow! Let me know below if you have any questions!
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MonkOut.


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How To Take Better Phone Photos - FlunkingMonkey


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Why you'll regret not going to Lithuania

So before my adventures in Lithuania actually began, I kind of had to figure out exactly where it was. For someone who travels as much as I do, my geography skills aren’t really up to par. Anyway, so it turns out Lithuania is the southernmost Baltic State!

Vilinus and Trakai

We started our journey of in Vilnius, where after an extremely late Wizz Air flight we woke up at the Artagonist Hotel! This quirky hotel was smack bang in the middle of Vilnius old town. It felt as though you stepped into a dystopia where modern technology met classically beautiful architecture, the small city was filled with cobbled streets and a maze of streets filled with quirky little stores.

Artagonist Hotel

Lithuanian Street

Curved Street Part 2

Lithuania goes Roman

Trakai

Walking through Vilnius you really felt the clash and fusion of Lithuanias deeply interwoven historical past. This became even more evident as we came to Trakai, where I was lucky enough to experience a traditional Karaim lunch and learn a little bit about the history of the Karaim people, whose Turkish routes have brought hints of middle-eastern culture to the Baltics.

KYBYNLAR-

Karaim Table_

Only 200 Karaim people live in Lithuania and only around 2,000 remain in the world.

So after burning my mouth on some of the hottest soups and delicacies the Karaim people had to offer, we headed out to see the iconic Trakai Island Castle. Unfortunately, for us, the rain had decided to come in but that wouldn’t stop me whipping out my camera out to capture its magnificent stature!

Castle on lake
I can just imagine, how amazing it would be to sail on these beautiful waters on a warm summer day.

After a long and wet afternoon around the lakes of Island Castle, we headed back to Vilnius for a Hot Air Balloon ride…turned hill climb as the weather, unfortunately, was not permitting. (One of these days I will get on a Hot Air Balloon!)

Hill of Three Crosses

I guess it wasn’t the worst of compromises, after a small incline trek reaching the top of the hill of three crosses we got the chance to see the amber skies over Vilnius as the sunset over the city. It slightly felt like Lithuania’s take on Christ the redeemer.

Three Crosses

Anyksciai

Can’t really say no to regional parks where you can walk amongst the height of the trees, can you? Anyksciai Treetop walking took us 34 metres above the ground giving us breathtaking views of forestry as far as the eye could see.

Green Trail

Tree Top Trail

Although still debated, Lithuania translates to mean the land of rain. Which explains the abundance of lush forests and much greenery we saw during our time there. It also explains why every time we tried to go see their fantastic sights the rain came back with a vengeance to flush us out to the next place. I guess it made each experience short but sweet, so if you want to try and avoid it I would meticulously check the forecast before you book anything!

Lucky or not so lucky depending on how you look at it, the sun came out just as we prepared to jump on Anyksciai Alpine Rollercoaster!  Now considering you’re throttling yourself down a series of hills at 40mph with nothing to control yourselves except a stick it can be a bit daunting albeit terrifying your first time. What a great experience it was though, having done the laps the laps twice, it makes you realise that such a ‘simple’ experience is just as enjoyable or even more so than the huge roller coasters you find at theme parks. I would definitely like to go back and try this out again, maybe in winter next time!

Alipine Coaster Ride

Siauliai

Just outside of Siauliai you can come across one of Lithuania’s most interesting sites, with different meanings for everyone that visits there. The hill of crosses is literally a hill filled with millions of crosses and that’s just an understatement. The site has constantly changed since the day of its formation, so what I saw may not even be the same in a few years time.

Jesus on hill of crosses

The site resonated with a previous pope so much that after his visit to Lithuania and the hill of crosses he donated a Cross depicting Jesus, which can be seen upon the entrance to the site.

Cross on Hill of crosses

Lake House – Pas tėvukus

Just imagine everything you would want from that rustic lake house experience and live them out through, probably, the best homestay I’ve ever experienced. Located smack bang in the middle of a national park, Pas tėvukus looks out on to lake Berzoras making you feel cut off from reality in the best possible way.

Cabin interior

Aside from its wonderful location and accommodation, it’s owned by the most the most gracious welcoming hosts. They also provided us with an authentic (regional) Lithuanian dinner where I had the best ribs I’ve probably ever eaten and had an odd encounter with cannabis.

Dinner
Photo courtesy of Elle Croft 

Lake pier

Klaipeda

As our 10-hour road trip across the country of Lithuania began to come to a close, we found ourselves in Klaipeda. Dubbed Lithuanias Capital of Culture, I once again felt as though I was walking amongst the stories of the past. Having been quite interested in history since I was a child, I honestly overlooked the past of countries such as those in the Baltics.

If you enjoy cobbled streets, Italian/Romanesque architecture and generally relaxed city vibes this is the place for you.

Lithuanias Main Harbour
Lithuania’s Main Harbour

Street walk

Ship Lithuania

Esio Trot Balcony
Anyone else getting Esio Trot Vibes?

Curonian Spit

Just when you thought Lithuania couldn’t get even more confusing, things just became curiouser and curiouser. A short boat trip across to the Curonian Spit National Park, we found ourselves on Witches Hill. Ironically this place really has no historical significance related to actual witches in any way, yet a folk tale spun out gave way to the creation of this woodland area filled with ‘Witchy type’ carvings and the odd children’s play area.

Witches Hill.jpg

By this point, I didn’t think Lithuania could shock me anymore and yet we rocked up in the desert…well the Dead Sand Dunes which span across the national park.  Now usually when you think sand your mind would probably go to, the beach, the desert I.e. Middle East or Egypt. I don’t think anyone’s first thought would be the Baltics or Lithuania.

Desert New-2.jpg

Nida

The slow moving town on the Curonian lagoon, Nida truly lives up to its picturesque coastal town image. The small town filled with boats, galleries, markets and restaurants makes you feel as though you’ve found the town doing everything right.

Bike Ride.jpg

For what was probably the most strange yet balanced adventure I’ve had so far, Lithuania definitely took my breath away! I truly understand why “Real is Beautiful” is their slogan. From walks through history into the woods and deserts, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to visit yet so disappointed they aren’t spoken of more!

Lithuania is a country that reminds me of why I have such wanderlust and sense of adventure, as there is so much to see in the world in places we never would have thought off!

Let me know what locations have surprised you, or where I should go next!

MonkOut.


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BALTIC EDIT - Why you'll regret not going to Lithuania


[Please Note – all opinions in this post are my own]

Amazing Essential Travel Hacks you can do last minute

As a traveller, I’m always jetting off to places at the last minute which can mean I’m not always left with a lot of time to prepare for the inevitable problems that we all come across when travelling. There is, however, some amazing and essential travel hacks you can do at the last minute to help make your journey and travel experience so much better!

First things first: You guys need to get Amazon Prime!, it is an Essential need for travellers in my eyes. Not only is it a useful tool to get products with immediate delivery but they provide both a Video and Music service, which work perfectly for those long flights, layovers and chilled evenings to name a few. I can’t think of a week where I haven’t used at least one of their services. Even if you’re still not sure they even offer a 30-Day free trial! So you can check it out for yourself and make up your own mind, I know you won’t regret it!


Check out these Essential Travel Hacks!
Last Minute Purchases that can make your Travel Life Easier!



Travel Essential 1: A battery pack

A battery pack can literally save your life sometimes. It’s a perfect way to ensure you always have access to your phone, tech and can even be a great way to make friends on the go. Trust me there hasn’t been one day when people haven’t asked me if they can use my charger.  Make sure to go all out and get the big 20,000 mAH+ ones, the bigger the number the longer it will charge your tech!


Travel Essential 2: Packing cubes

Packing cubes are a great way to really utilise all the space in your suitcase or backpack and stay organised at the same time. They’re a great way to keep clean and dirty clothes separated and are perfect for when you are rushing between destinations. As you tend to only open one cube at a time you’re less likely to have your clothes all over the place! (Unless you’re beyond help) …

Here’s a Handy Tip: Roll all your clothes tightly and you’ll fit more in, plus sometimes they end up less creased than when folded!


Travel Essential 3: Shower/Cosmetics Bag

As a past user of plastic carrier bags for my shower bag, I can’t begin to tell you how much investing in a good Shower/Cosmetics Bag has helped me throughout my travels. No longer do I have to shift through piles of product I don’t need, or sifting through my entire bag to find my toothbrush that I was 100% sure I packed. Everything I now need is in useful compartments and it stores away perfectly amongst my packing cubes.


Travel Essential 4: Saftey Wallets

Sometimes were not always travelling to the safest of destinations and we should be taking precautions to keep our personal items safe. An Item I found that came in great use was a simple Wallet with a Chain, this was something I could easily attach to a belt loop and pop in my pocket. That way when I was on the go I had an extra level of security, it may not have stopped any theft but it would have made me aware a lot earlier.


Travel Essential 5: Hard Drives

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve seen the ‘Storage full’ pop up across my devices and even more so when I’m travelling. The last thing you want to be worrying about when you’re visiting amazing places is whether or not you should be taking a picture of something because you only have 200mb left! There is one simple solution bring along a Hard drive! Not only can you back up all your amazing memories, you can also bring along with you all your favourite movies and music!

 


Travel Essential 6: Earplugs and eye masks

Now Earplugs and eye masks aren’t always needed but in the situations where you do need them, you will love the fact that you brought them along, i.e. A screaming baby on a plane with windows wide open and your body clock is saying it’s 02:00 a.m. They’re lightweight and can be stored pretty much anywhere… so why not?

 

 


Travel Essential 7: Headphones/Earphones

For me, Headphones are a dire need. There have been many times where I’ve turned up to the airport and realised the headphones I brought along barely work and end up spending an extraordinaire amount buying replacements from anywhere that sells them along the way, costing me a bomb and they all end up breaking within a few days anyway. So now I always buy two pairs before any journey just in case!

P.S. For those of you who aren’t as keen on the ear plugs, headphones can always serve a dual purpose.


Travel Essential 8: Partition Bag

Turn any bag into a camera bag! This lightweight velvet lined sleeve has made it so much easier for me to transport my camera, it’s got adjustable compartments to fit any size camera. I’ve been able to fit in a Camera an attached lens, a spare lens, a vlogging cam and spare batteries and chargers all into this little bag! The padding is thick enough to keep it all protected and it fits perfectly at the bottom of all my backpacks.


Travel Essential 9: Tech Secure Backpack

Sometimes I travel with lots of tech and find its a huge hassle getting through security because of the number of items I have to dig out of my bag. Depending on where you tend to travel yes it can be beneficial to sign up for TSA Pre. For me as I tend to travel to multiple worldwide destinations this isn’t really a useful suggestion. One item I haven’t had the opportunity yet to try but cannot wait to purchase is a specialist backpack. Not only can you access items like Laptops through easy compartments, but it’s also theft-proof!


Travel Essential 10: World Adaptor

Adaptors are one of the easiest items to forget! Every trip I’ve ever gone on this is the item that’s come to mind last. The great thing about getting these last minute is you don’t even have to think. Half of the time I never even know what plug sockets the country I’m going to is using. So grabbing one of these World adaptor plugs has saved me a lot of worries, any plug goes in and any plug goes out.

 


Travel Essential 11: Luggage Scale

Don’t Risk it! Weigh your bags! The number of people I have seen at airports having to reorganise their baggage is immense, don’t be that person. Having a luggage scale with you can be so handy it will give you piece of mind and can help you pass through baggage check so much quicker (it doesn’t even take up that much room).

 

 


Travel Essential 12: The Perfect Carry On/Backpack

For many travellers, budget airlines and their carry-on policies are familiar friends. I’ve definitely had that panic many times wondering whether my bag will fit in their ‘tiny’ compartments. Lucky for all of us some companies have had the initiative to create perfectly sized backpacks and suitcases (for those who are inclined either way). Ultralight with various compartments working perfectly with packing cubes these are a must have!


Travel Essential 13: Custom Luggage Straps

Ever had your bag just about close…Worrying about your bag popping open on the flight? Always picking up someone else’s suitcase on the carousel? Well no longer! Luggage straps have so many uses I can’t even list them all, definitely a key purchase for any traveller.

 

 


91g42v8h2bdl-_sl1500_Travel Essential 14: A Fresh Water Filtering Bottle. 

An item that might not have crossed your mind is filtering bottles,  they can really come in handy for those of us travelling to less westernised locations. In many countries, you can’t drink tap water or you have only basic access to fresh water. In both cases, the water might be filled with bacteria and parasites our systems can’t handle.

These bottles are awesome because they allow you to drink water from anywhere (minus the ocean). You can scoop rain water right out of a puddle, drink it and it won’t harm you! I, on the other hand, used it when I had a bit too much to alcohol drink in Vietnam and needed water first thing in the morning… No problem though right from the tap into this bottle and I was good to go! (P.S. I know you might say just get bottled water but come on man think of the environment!)


Check out these Essential Travel Hacks!
Tips and Tricks to make sure you have the best Trip!


Travel Hack 1
Searching in Incognito may show you a lower fare

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 18.17.11
Incognito Browsing.
Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 18.17.40
Normal Browsing

Travel Hack 2
Some airlines offer Free stopovers (I.e. Icelandair) so when booking be aware of this and you could grab yourself a free 24-hour stopover and a two-for-one trip!

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 18.21.04

Travel Hack 3
Always check in online…were not in the 90s anymore!
This will guarantee you the seat you want and save you precious time at the airport.

Travel Hack 4
As rare as it is, it’s worthwhile when booking long distant flights to know your Airlines upgrade category, there are some seats that will never be eligible and you wouldn’t want to be in one of these the days they do decide to upgrade people.

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 18.28.26

Bonus Hack – PlusGrade can direct you to bid on upgrades for your flight. You can potentially grab yourself a bargain!

Travel Hack 5
Seat Guru will give you a great insight into your selected aircraft for your flight, and help you find the best seat. If you hate middle seats try to get on Boeing 767-300 flights, they have the least amount!

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 18.32.41

Travel Hack 6
When travelling having internet access is vital so when you can’t access any or you have to pay it, you feel like the world is ending.
So you better bookmark this page because it has nearly all the WIFI codes to airports around the world!

Airport wifi codes - Step up your Travel game with these Amazing Travel Hacks and see how you can WIN AIRLINE TICKETS!

Travel Hack 7
If you know you’re going to be really hungry on your flight? Order a specialist meal, you’ll get it earlier than everyone else!

Travel Hack 8
Are you going to have a Long stop over? Download the Lounge buddy app you can buy cheap passes to some of the best airport lounges around the world and sometimes even get free entry!

Lounge Buddy - Step up your Travel game with these Amazing Travel Hacks and see how you can WIN AIRLINE TICKETS!

Travel Hack 9
Sometimes when we land we can be in a rush to get somewhere I.e. another airport. You can stand there at arrivals and wait for ages for a taxi, or you can go to the departures zone and order/grab your taxi from there. There are much fewer people at departures looking to leave the airport.

Bonus Hack – If you’re travelling alone Uber pools are a great way to save money.

Travel Hack 10
Stuck on how to get your destination?
Rome2Rio gives you a breakdown of the best transport options available to you. This app worked wonders for me when I was island hopping around South East Asia.

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 18.43.20

Travel Hack 11
Know you’re not going to have internet access when you’re out and about?
Download maps.me and take your maps offline, you can download select destinations at a time and still use the navigation feature offline!

Maps.Me -Step up your Travel game with these Amazing Travel Hacks and see how you can WIN AIRLINE TICKETS!

I hope you guys enjoyed all my amazing travel hacks you can do at the last minute! If you enjoyed this post and found it any way useful make sure to Follow + Subscribe for more content just like this!

From the beginning next month I will be doing an AIRLINE TICKET GIVEAWAY EVERY MONTH to one of my lucky Blog Subscribers!
So make sure to subscribe to be within a chance of winning!

MonkOut.


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Step up your Travel game with these Amazing Travel Hacks and see how you can WIN AIRLINE TICKETS!


[Please Note – all opinions in this post are my own]

 

Long Weekend in San Francisco

For a long time, I’d always wanted to visit San Francisco partly because it always looked like a stunning city, but most probably because I was a huge Charmed fan and that’s where the show was set. I’m sure this is the case for many people whether it be San Fransico due to Fuller House or Brazil due to Fast and Furious, were often enticed and drawn into many locations due to the way they’re portrayed through media outlets.

One of the first things I noticed about San Fran was how vibrant the city was! From the green palms and blue ocean to the colourful buildings and street art! Luckily for me the weekend I was in SF they had a freak heatwave that everyone definitely made me aware of. Letting me know that was not the norm and to enjoy it, which of course I did.

SanFran Buildings

Accommodation – Green Tortoise

When I was looking into where to stay I was really unsure whether to splurge on a hotel or not, but as I knew this was going to be a solo trip I knew a hostel would be my best option. Now I know there are always hostel sceptics and who cannot stay anywhere but a 4 star+ hotel but they’re not as scary as you might think, the best thing to do in any scenario is Review! Which I recommend everyone do.

Green Tortoise

The great thing about The Green Tortoise Hostel is that it is smack bang where you want to be to get easy access to the entire city. The hostel has a free breakfast in a huge common area with a great view of the Transamerica building perfectly enjoyed by sitting down with your morning coffee in their cushioned booths.

Green Tortoise Views

One thing I usually find with hostels is that there is always something that lets them down. To be honest, I slightly struggled with figuring out what that was with the Green Tortoise. Their staff were super friendly and had laughs with quite a few of them and their rooms and bathrooms are kept very clean. I guess if I was pulling at straws they could have A/C but as I mentioned SF is usually pretty windy so they rarely need it at night, they could have more bathrooms but again I don’t think people realised you can use bathrooms on other floors … I alway ended finding news ones I never even knew were there!

As I know that some of us are extremely busy and don’t always get the chance to fully compare where best to stay. To make your life a little bit easier here’s a Hotel and Alternative Hostel both with great reviews and locations! Although if you have the time feel free to search, I tend to use Booking.com due to their handy Free Cancellation on most accommodation!

China Town and Little Italy (Districts)

The great thing about staying in the centre of cities like SF, is that everything is within walking distance. A great perk of The Green Tortoise was that it’s located in the junction between Little Italy and China Town, meant you get easy access to great food which can really make or break a trip in my opinion. The hostel actually had a handy guide for the best food and cafes in the area sorted according to distance and price! I was loving up the Italian pizza slice joints so if you ever find yourself there make sure to check out Golden Boy and Tony’s.

Golden Boy

Pizza

Being a Tourist.

A lot of people forget social media networks are here to connect us, so I used my Instagram just for that. I really wanted to see more of SF from a local perspective so reached out to a San Franciscan (is that what they’re called?) to hang out during my time in SF. Luckily for me, I picked a good’un in Melissa! who was nice enough to show me around and take some of the fantastic photos with me that you might have already seen on my Instagram.

You cannot fly all the way to the east coast especially from the UK and not do Standard’cisco! You can always mix it up along the way but don’t miss the main attractions guys.

All over SF you’re going to find various different periods of architecture, which I absolutely love which is why my camera roll is pretty much filled with half the buildings in SF that I passed. The most iconic set are The Painted Ladies, unfortunately for me, Alamo Square (Park) opposite them was closed meaning I couldn’t get the shot I was hoping for but I made it work. I felt slightly sorry for their residents with people coming up all hours of the day just taking pictures of your house, I guess its the price you pay for living somewhere that stunning.

Painted Ladies

I didn’t think I was going to be shocked by anything in my experience of San Fran but I’m glad I was. I’m not sure if many people on the other side of the pond know about The Place of the Fine Arts, I just know I definitely did not. What a stunning piece of work right en-route to the Golden Gate bridge. It looked as though a part of Rome or Greece had been plucked up and placed right there in sunny California.

melissademataphoto-sanfrancisco-1243

There’s not much I can say which probably hasn’t been said about probably the most photogenic bridge in the world! No one can deny the beauty of the Golden Gate bridge.

melissademataphoto-sanfrancisco-1673.jpg

“That curvy road. You know that mad curvy road.” My description prior to knowing the name of Lombard Street. Now going to see a random street might not sound like the most appealing thing to do but this is really a once in a lifetime experience.

Lombard street

Due to SF being built on a tonne of hills, you get to have the most randomly fun photogenic experience. From the top of the street, you get to see those classic SF cable cars go by, whilst you can look down on a view of the SF streets all the way down to the pier, going down the street is a journey within itself! I recommend hoping in an Uber Pool (surprisingly cheap) and getting them to go down.

Tram

Mission.

So unbeknownst to those of us that do not live in San Fran, Mission district is apparently the place to be, can’t say I don’t understand why! Dubbed after the main street that passes through the area, it’s filled with lively people enjoying the independent restaurants and boutiques that fill the area. Sometimes old habits die hard so I had to make sure I got the best Greek food and Bubble Tea in the area (Although the lack of Honeydew Milk Tea was seriously disappointing guys).

Mural

Point Reyes.

You guys feeling some visual paradise? Yes? Good, head to Point Reyes. Again, I had never heard of this location prior to my trip to California but thank god I did.

Coast Line

Sometimes (going back to my initial point about hostels) Is that you can meet so many people as a solo traveller, lucky for me I met two great lads who were up for a last minute road trip down to these breathtaking coastlines. So if you find yourself with a free day around San Fran or Northen Cali just rent a car for a day and drive! I recommend you definitely hit up Point Reyes or try to go somewhere unexpected!

Point Reyes Hill

House

Sheep

So if you’ve made it this far and read all there is to read about San Fran … maybe you’ll be will to go a bit further or you just want more?! Then make sure you’ve subscribed to my YouTube channel where you can follow me around and get real insight into my San Fran adventures through my Travel Vlog coming soon…

MonkOut.


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California Edit - Pin


[Please Note – all opinions in this post are my own]

Florida Edit

Who’s truly experienced Florida? I thought I had.

I’ve been to Florida and the U.S. In general more times than I can remember. Now I’m extremely lucky to have been able to travel there many times, but going to the same place repeatedly really numbs you to that environment. I mean the world is huge! There are so many places to see so why go back to the same places over and over … Well, that’s just it, the world is huge because there is so much in it and I forgot how much is actually in Florida. Which is why I was shocked by my most recent trip there.

Experiencing Kissimmee

After an unusually long 9 hour flight, Into Orlando, we were lucky enough to get an evenings rest at the Omni Orlando Resort before our jam-packed week began.

Wild Florida…Who Knew?

Sloths! Sorry, I couldn’t even wait to intro them…but we’ll get back to that later. Who’s heard of an Airboat tour before? I know for me prior to actually going on one my only reference to them was from this old Simpsons episode. They’re actually fantastically fun! We got taken around through the swamps, marshes and rivers in the Central Florida Everglades getting up close with Alligators, Herron and even the odd Cow.

AirBoat

WildFloridaAirboats are also a fully functioning Wildlife Park, which is why I was lucky enough to get up close to baby sloths! Which are pretty much one of the most adorable animals I’ve seen up close.

Celebration

I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to move somewhere more quickly in my life. The town that Disney built, as it’s famously known. This town guys, is like nostalgia meets fairytale meets … The Truman show? I mean picturesque neighbourhoods and amazing architecture full of colour, which mostly just made me hungry because they reminded me of cakes.

Biking around the town gave us such a great peak into the in’s and out’s of these beautiful neighbourhoods, surrounded by greenery and animals.

Celebration rental

SeaWorld

Now I’m probably the first person who can point out a lot of animal injustice in the world and have to admit I did have a lot of presumptions about SeaWorld …mostly negative prior to my most recent experience there.

What I can tell you is despite their dark past SeaWorld has been doing a lot in terms of animal rescue, rehabilitation and public education that really made me open my eyes.

Generally, the direction I see them going towards is educating the young in a way they see animal safety and preservation as a top priority whilst balancing that out with a fun family day out at a theme park.

Crystal River

I feel as though I could write a whole essay just on this town! It was just a part of Florida that kept on giving and was a defining moment in my trip.

So after an exhausting day having the most exhilarating time at Universal Orlando! (I mean you might as well spend a day being a big kid again). We sat down to dinner after a long car journey, at the Katch Twenty-Two restaurant. Usually, I try not to judge a book by its cover, Katch Twenty-Two made that a bit harder with its ‘local dining’ facade. I don’t think I’ve been so pleasantly surprised in my life! Hidden in this small town in Florida is one of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten at with the most lovely customer service. I would fly back tomorrow just to eat there again.

The Plantation

We stayed at The Plantation on Crystal River a 200+ acre eco resort which was beyond the perfect setting for our time in Crystal River.

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Our first day had us up in the early hours of the morning swimming with Manatees! This was such a rewarding experience, to get up close to these gentle giants and learn so much about them.

Although here’s a top tip: Pee beforehand and do not drink too much water. Otherwise, you’ll be close to the edge guys, Trust me.

Chassahowitzka River

That particular day just kept on giving. The afternoon saw us Kayaking through the Chassahowitzka River where we not only saw more Manatees but felt as though we had left Florida and were dropped smack bang in the middle of the Amazon.

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A vast valley of clear water surrounded by untamed greenery leading off to hidden paths in all directions, can anyone else see heaven?! I was definitely deep in my comfort zone it was such a perfect way to end our time in Crystal River.

Daytona Beach

I’ve probably been dreaming of Daytona since I’ve left! So saying that it definitely did not disappoint…Miami what?

International Speedway

Daytona Race Track

So have you ever gone 170mph+ in a 600HP NASCAR? Because it’s freaking awesome! Kicking off our Daytona experience was a (Richard Petty) Driving experience on the Daytona International Speedway. Having never really understood the ‘hype’ around NASCAR my short experience here really changed my mind.

Daytona Racing

I don’t think I’ve ever had a better-timed hotel arrival than the one at Hampton Inn Daytona Beach Oceanfront. Walking into my room I was hit with the sun just as it touches the water creating the most beautiful sunset streaming into my room, it was that view we all dream about when booking a holiday. We didn’t even have to rush down to catch it on the beach as the hotel was smack bang on the ocean front, probably less than a minute from my room to having my feet in the ocean.

Paddle Boarding

I wasn’t the biggest fan of paddle boarding after my experience in Indonesia, where I spent most of the time in the water trying to get back on the board. My experience at Three Brothers Boards definitely changed my opinion.

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Besides the great experience around the Daytona bay marina, the guidance provided by the instructor was so supportive. By letting me go at my own pace, it really improved my confidence and put me at ease, more so than I would have ever been doing it alone. By the end of the experience, I was more comfortable than ever and really enjoyed my time out on the water.

Eco-Boat Tour

Time to extend anyone? Re-schedule a flight to spend one more day in Florida… why not!? I mean I can’t be missing out on an Eco-Boat Tour! What a fantastic way to conclude my new adventures In Florida, then one last time getting up close to birds, alligators and even a few more manatees mixed in with a lovely cultural throwback for the area, courtesy to our amazing captain Doug Little on the St. Johns River Eco-Tour.

Now I know this is definitely going to be one of my longest posts so I commend you if you’ve read this far in. It’s always the worst feeling when a fantastic trip ends! Mostly because all those amazing moments are now memories. The great thing about blogging is I get to share these great moments with you but now you can take all this and go make your own!

MonkOut.


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[Please Note this trip was sponsored by Vist Florida – all opinions in this post are my own]

The Weekend Edit – London

I’ve been super busy lately and haven’t really had the chance to get out much to do things I really want to do. I have, however, been compiling a list of all these places dotted around London I want to visit! Perfect to fill up your weekend.

 Ralph’s Coffee & Bar – Regent Street

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How awesome does this place look, it’s designed from a preppy polo club perspective and it works brilliantly! I feel like I’m going to step back in time to a 1940s Parisian bar or a classy gentlemen’s club in New York.

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This new bar is located in Ralph Laurens Regent street store and Is definitely going to be a new hot spot, great for escapism for the usual London drab.

Coppa Club

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So back in October’16 Coppa club blew up 8 igloos and threw them in front of tower bridge. Now not only do you get amazing 360-degree views of The Shard, Tower Bridge and The Thames, they’re included as part of their regular table service and filled with awesome quirky furniture. Fingers crossed these aren’t just limited to winter and are planning to stick around, as they’re perfect for all seasons.

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Tables are a hard reach in the igloos so make sure you book well in advance!

Chin Chin Labs

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Now this place has been popping up all over the internet lately and I’m slightly annoyed I haven’t tried it yet. I mean a blow torch Marshmallow on Hot Chocolate! Yes! The best part is, mix it up they do Ice cream here too! I know I’m definitely going too 🙂

L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele – a.k.a Naples’ most famous pizza joint.

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Not only was this place featured in the novel Eat Pray Love, for which the film adaptation was one of the reasons I packed my bags and jetted off for 7 months. They’ve opened a branch in London. Pizza lovers assemble … and get ready to queue. I’m still going to go the Naples one without a doubt, but knowing I don’t have to jump on a plane to get this world famous pizza is a huge plus.

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This will be me, I can’t wait, get in my belly.

Charlotte Street Hotel

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Home comforts in public? Yes, please. This place is the perfect to relax, grab a cup of coffee and get comfy. I know when I’m always running around London or even after a mad long day I can’t wait to sit down, I know now this is going to be one of my go-to spots.

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If you’ve already been to any of these places let me know what your experiences were like there! If not … I’m going to be doing a massive round up of all these places soon enough, so keep your eye’s peeled on my Instagram Story!

What places can you recommend for the weekend?

MonkOut.


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Winter Edit – London

I’m an Islander. Regardless of the fact, the island I was born on is the usually cold and dismal U.K. Trust me I am much more suited towards the tropics, which also goes for my wardrobe. I mean who wouldn’t want the constant sunshine? Apart from during Christmas when it has to be cold. Yes, it does, sorry to you all in the southern hemisphere. Although I haven’t seen a good Christmas snow in a while.

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Cold. Raining. Everything’s Hazy. Perfect summary for London during winter.
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Doesn’t Life in the sun just seem more appealing? – Clearwater, FL.

Sometimes I have to deal with the fact I’m going to be stuck in the cold probably until I either spontaneously take another trip or until spring comes around. So I better get prepared, as London has a lot of amazing places to see and experience and I intend to do just that. Where the Jumpers at?

I actually haven’t had the opportunity to purchase many new clothes lately, probably a mixture of me being too lazy and refusing to accept that I’m going to be in the cold for a while. So when I did get the chance I jumped at this:

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Limited Edition – Collared Neck Mac – Marks and Spencer

The reasons I like it so much is because it’s light weight and also works perfectly for that transition from winter to spring. It’s also my first Mac style jacket, I’ve always loved the ones that Burberry designed but they were always out of my price range! I did feel this was a good compromise. The cut is brilliant, it’s not too overbearing, which I find can happen really easily with jackets, and when you have quite a rounded frame like me they don’t really do you any justice.

Check out the Item here: http://bit.ly/MS4MAC
 Tip: Go for a size smaller than you usually do. 
I find with M&S jackets they tend to oversize.

It feels so good to be writing again, now that I’ve finally put words to screen I have so many new ideas flowing. I’m already thinking of my next post! So Until then guys!

MonkOut.


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Writers Block and Updates

As many of you following my blog can tell by now, it’s been a while since I posted anything. They’re many reasons behind this with the main point being writer’s block.

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I initially set out to post once a week. I found out soon enough that as little as that may seem, it may have been too much to ask of myself as it was very creatively constrictive. I didn’t set out to create a lifestyle blog, it was more just the manifestation of posts about my life. What I have begun to realise is I need to write about things that interest me, regardless of how interested you may be in that topic.

I’m not sure if many of you know I love to cook, finding new recipes trying out new ideas mostly just throwing things together and hoping it tastes good! Even beside cooking I have an interest in fashion, it may not be to everyone’s style or liking but it’s definitely my own. So get ready to see a lot more food posts, fashion posts, random tip posts, of course, I will still have a lot of travel based content for you to enjoy.

The best thing about this change is that you can read what you want. Well, it’s not really a change you read what you want anyway, I mean well I hope you know what I mean … I hope I know what I mean. *Lost*

Anyway…

So since the last time I posted … a lot has happened! I experienced my first Thanksgiving in Florida… which I will post about at some point. Hopefully, you guys kept up with my adventures over there on my Instagram.

I finally settled back in at home and, Christmas came around and as magical as that was, it was damn cold! Now it can’t just have been me, I know I’ve been in 30 degrees plus for 90% of the year but, c’mon man!

To top everything off I was featured in an article in both The Daily Mail and The Sun. Regardless of their inaccuracies about my earnings #StillBroke this was a great way to start the new year!

Overall (even though I’ve got the flu as I write this) I’m looking forward to seeing what 2017 has to offer.

MonkOut.


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How To Stay Fit While Travelling

Ever been travelling for a long period of time or even a short period of time and realised your fitness has taken a major hit? Well, then you’re not alone! Here are some of my easy tips to ….you know not get really out of shape and still be able to enjoy your time away.

For all you luxury travellers (or those that splurge once in a while)

Most if not all resorts have fitness facilities, use them! Now I’m not saying spend your entire day in there. What I find best is wake up as early as possible, now this will obviously depend on your sleeping habits. This way you can head down to the gym and get a good workout in and not loose those precious hours of sunlight, remember you only need 30 mins for  good work out! Don’t push yourself too hard, try to remember you’re on vacation. (Check out YouTube videos for inspiration)

Side note if you have a Pool use it! Not just for lounging around and drinking in (I know were all a bit guilty of that one). It’s really easy to get a few laps in even a 10-15 minute swim will benefit you!

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For those on a bit more of a minimal budget

If you find yourself in more lax accommodation, sometimes your best asset is your smartphone. Find some space in your room where you can work out, sometimes this does include having to move some things around. Log into your App Store and download some free workout apps! Here are some of my recommendations: Keelo – HIIT or Seven – 7 Minute workouts. Now these might not be right for you, I always recommended before going away check out the ‘Health and Fitness’ Category in the store and check out the apps, find one that works best for you, there are tonnes of free ones! Which means you don’t have to break the bank.

Remember

There are loads to see and do! Maybe go jogging around local sights, or trek up some hillsides or mountains to get some awesome views.

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Not all about the workout

When I go away, I always want to try all the new foods available to me. Sometimes these aren’t always the healthiest options but, go for it, you never know when you’ll find yourself there again. What I try to do is always balance it out!

Drink loads of water (especially if you are in a hot country) many times when you think you’re hungry you’re actually thirsty so keep hydrated 2 litres a day (3 to 4 in hot countries … you’ll be sweating).

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If you find yourself in a hot climate go for the fruits! trust me you won’t regret it, they are so much more flavourful compared to back home. You’ll find out about fruits you’ve never heard of before and might even love them!…If all fails who cares! you can make up for it when you’re home haha.

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P.S. Don’t forget to bring trainers (sneakers) I know it might be obvious but trust me, I’ve forgotten them before and had to work out barefoot.

If you found this anyway helpful comment below!
Let me know what your fitness tips are!


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Volunteer! My message to you.

One of my great passions is devoting my time and in many cases money to volunteer for organizations I believe in. I’ve met such a wide array of people, who always talk about wanting to take part in these programs but are never really sure, or are unsure how to go about it.

You need to find out what you’re interested in. Don’t do it for the sake of doing it because as selfish as this may sound you won’t actually get that much out of it, and in many cases, you won’t do as good of a job if you’re not as passionate. Once you’ve figured that out, you can look to the organizations that provide these volunteer roles. Just like on many other occasions your best friend is Google.

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For me I always look for animal conservation programs, I’ve already participated in a Turtle conservation program in Greece and an Elephant conservation program in Thailand. So now I’m looking to organizations like Frontier who in addition to running animal conservation programs, carry out programs in community, construction, teaching and healthcare.

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The reasoning behind me volunteering is because I want to give back in ways, too many places that are easily overlooked. The great thing about taking part in these programs is you meet like-minded people, who share a lot of the same passions and beliefs. In a lot of these cases, you spend nearly 24 hours a day with these groups for 2-6 weeks… it’s pretty hard not to get close and make friends for life.

What is great, is that it takes you out of your comfort zone. You can really figure out who you are away from your home, family, and friends. Every time I’ve taken part in one of these projects it’s changed me for the better, I’ve learned from other volunteers, project coordinators, and the new environments. Many times these projects take place in rural environments in third-world or developing countries, which are key factors in opening your eyes to the world.

From my recent research I’ve begun to see new types of organizations popping up, where instead of paying a fee to the select organization, you live with a local family in the area you are volunteering in. This is I think is a great idea because it immerses you in the community and allows you to take part in these programs when you can invest your time, rather than your money.

If you’ve already volunteered, let me know why and what you got out of it?
Any questions just ask me below, I’d be happy to help!


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