Behind the Filter: Gardens by the Bay by Real World Runaway

I’m not made to be in photos. I’m awkward and shy and my mouth does this weird thing where it can only smile on one side. Because of this, it’s fair to say that, as my blogging life became more photography heavy, I had my fair share of bloopers, outtakes and mishaps. While Insta-life may seem fabulous (and trust me, travelling the world is still pretty great), I thought I’d give you an insight into the not-so-glamourous moments that go into creating the perfect Instagram picture in this Behind the Filter series.


The Picture

Behind the Filter: Gardens by the Bay by Real World Runaway

The Story

This picture was taken on our first day in Singapore at the Gardens by the Bay. The super trees are something I’ve wanted to see for a very long time and it was amazing to go up into the canopy and see the city from above. What a perfect moment right? Wrong. About 30 minutes before this picture was taken, I was sitting on a bench with my head between my legs, whilst the possibility of fainting kept toying with my body. Singapore is HOT and I was stupidly not prepared for that after spending the previous few months in British winter. Top tip: Drink lots of water kids. I downed a bottle of water and climbed the stairs up to the walk way, only to be confronted with another issue. I was suddenly scared of heights.

Behind the Filter: Gardens by the Bay by Real World Runaway

Just a few moments before my one of my favourite pictures of all time was taken, this beauty of a shot came to being of the exact moment I realised that I wasn’t that big on heights. I don’t know what it was. I do a lot of rock climbing, I love zip wires, I’ve been on top of some of the tallest buildings in the world, but this 22 metre high walk way just got to me. I don’t know whether it was the remnants of the fainty feeling or the fact the bridge felt like it was swinging just slightly but it just wasn’t working for me. I pushed through though and was so glad I did. The Gardens and the walk way are just incredible and it’s well worth going for a visit. Just try not to faint.

Do you have a funny story behind your Instagram and want to be featured in Behind the Filter? Feel free to get in touch!

Katie x

Believe it or not, even us travel bloggers like to play tourist sometimes. There’s a lot of judgement out there expecting us to be ‘travellers’ not ‘tourists’ but there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a good theme park or zoo. In between my days exploring the city/country of Singapore, I headed to Sentosa Island for some good, old-fashioned, touristy fun! The resort is packed with activities, beaches and shops so it’s practically impossible to be bored. Here is my ultimate guide to the island so you can have the best trip ever!

Warning: This definitely not the ‘real Singapore’ so travel snobs, turn back now.

Ultimate Guide to Sentosa Island by Real World Runaway


What To Do

  • Universal Studios: I’m a sucker for a good theme park so I could never resist a Universal Studios. With 7 movie themed lands to explore, you’re transported to another world (or several worlds) full of rides, shows and your favourite characters. It’s nowhere near as big as its Florida counterpart but still houses a surprising number of big, thrill rides that are well worth the visit. Don’t miss Human vs Cylon and the classic Jurassic Park Log Flume.

Ultimate Guide to Sentosa Island by Real World Runaway

  • iFly: Sentosa Island houses the world’s largest indoor wind tunnel for simulation sky diving. If you feel like jumping out of a plane isn’t for you (fair enough) then this is the best alternative. It even has a glass wall so you still get some amazing views while you fly!
  • S.E.A Aquarium: Home to over 800 species, the S.E.A Aquarium is an impressive, hands on experience. See dolphins and sharks and even take a scuba diving class in one of the open ocean style exhibits!
  • Palawan Beach: Just because this beach is man made does not make it any less impressive. Relax on the luxurious white sand or head over the iconic rope bridge the visit the Southernmost Point of Continental Asia (although it’s on an island so I’m not really sure how that works). It’s as close to a tropical paradise as you can get in a country that is entirely city.

Ultimate Guide to Sentosa Island by Real World Runaway

  • Mega Adventure Park: Are you a fan of adrenaline? Then Mega Adventure is for you. Including huge zip wires, high ropes courses and a free-fall simulator, you’ll fly through the trees, with great views of the beaches below.
  • Adventure Cove Water Park: One of the most pleasantly surprising activities on the island was the Adventure Cove Water Park. The relatively cheap ticket includes unlimited access to a range of exciting (and mildly terrifying) waterslides, a huge lazy river, complete with a wall of sting rays, and an obstacle course. The highlight though is a snorkelling experience through their imitation coral reef.

Ultimate Guide to Sentosa Island by Real World Runaway

  • Wings of Time: End your day by taking in the spectacular Wings of Time show. The outdoor arena is filled with music, lasers and fire as they tell the story of a bird called Shahbaz. I don’t know why this bird is special. I think visuals have taken priority over storyline here. But it’s still a pleasant way to spend an evening.
  • Sentosa Merlion: Singapore is pretty rich, right? And what guards that prosperity? A giant Merlion, obviously. Whether you go inside the statue or just marvel at it from the pavement, it’s well worth a look. You can read more about the legend of the Merlion here.
  • There’s so much more to do from street luging to a trick eye museum. Find all the activities here.

Getting There

There are a range of hotels on the island but you’ll find a much bigger range and better deals elsewhere. It’s incredibly easy to get to Sentosa Island from the city so there isn’t much point staying there unless Sentosa is the main reason for your trip.

Ultimate Guide to Sentosa Island by Real World Runaway

  • Sentosa Express: The free train departing from Vivo City shopping centre (a short walk from HarbourFront MRT) is the easiest way to get to Sentosa. It’s also pretty handy for navigating around the island if you don’t feel like walking with stops by the theme parks and beaches.
  • Walking: We’d been told that the train cost $5 (curse whoever that was) so we walked across the boardwalk to Sentosa 3 times before getting tired and giving in to the train. The walk is easy (especially if you’re going to Universal or the aquarium at the front of the island), gives you a great view of the city and gives you plenty of time to eat all the tasty treats you picked up at Vivo City.
  • Cable Car: An activity in itself, travel in style on the Singapore cable car. Obviously the pricier option, the cable car gives you stunning, panoramic views of the area as you float high above the water. Whilst not really a viable form of travel in the long term, it might be worth doing once if you’re on the less thrifty side. 

Top Tips

  • There’s an ice lolly shop by the Merlion. It’s amazing, but if the lady behind the counter warns you that the lemon lolly is incredibly sour, BELIEVE HER. I love lemon. I did not take her advice. I happily ate my lolly, enjoying the sourness in all its lemony glory, then my tongue started bleeding and a couldn’t eat for the rest of the day. I think it was the Merlion’s fault. Not cool.
  • OK now a real tip. We bought all our Sentosa tickets through a website called Klook. It offers huge savings on attractions around Asia and it was 100% legit. We were a little nervous at first but all of our tickets worked perfectly and we saved over £50.

Ultimate Guide to Sentosa Island by Real World Runaway

  • For Universal, get there early and go straight to the back of the park. There’ll be no queues for these rides as people just go on the first thing they see.
  • At Adventure Cove, go to the snorkelling reef as soon as you arrive as this gets incredibly busy as the day goes on. Also, lockers are expensive so try to bring minimal stuff.

Have you been to Sentosa? What would you recommend?

Katie x

While I do agree that 2016 has been a year that will fuel pub quizzes for at least a century, it’s been a pretty great year for me personally. Whilst I’ve always loved travelling, 2016 really saw the start of the obsession. I graduated from University, created Real World Runaway, crossed off 5 countries and 7 cities from my bucket list, visited a few old favourites and planned a whole 18 months of travel for 2017/18. But travelling isn’t just about where you go, what you do there is also fairly important. So in the spirit of ending the year on a high (we all need some positivity in 2016), here are my favourite bucket list experiences I crossed off this year!

Travel firsts of 2016 by Real World Runaway


1) Tearing Up the Slopes (Or At Least Trying To)

Skiing, (well snowboarding really), has always been something I’ve wanted to try, and with university coming to an end, I thought 2016 was my last chance! Whilst I was a pretty dreadful snowboarder, I found out that actual time on the slope is only a very small part of ski life. From amazing scenery to mountain top bars to fantastic food (so much cheeeeeeese!), you can have a great time in the mountains without having to hurl yourself down one!

travel firsts of 2016

(Obviously not posed at all)


2) Travelling Just to Catch Up with Friends

Last year, some American girls turned up in Newcastle and quickly became some of my favourite people. When they left in June, I couldn’t wait to organise a trip to see them. Me and Pete travelled to Baltimore at the end of October to experience Halloween, American style. Baltimore is not somewhere I ever thought I’d end up, but getting to be there with locals (and friends) was  great. We got the full US college experience, from on-campus Starbucks to house parties complete with beer pong and even went pumpkin picking at an orchard. We definitely wouldn’t have had as much fun if we were just dropped off in Baltimore with nothing but a travel guide. Sometimes who you’re with matters more than where you are.

Also, AMERICAN DON’T DRESS SCARY FOR HALLOWEEN. We had a serious Mean Girls moment as we turned up to a Halloween party as zombies and people literally asked us “why are you dressed so scary”. They were very quick to treat the token English outsiders as celebrities.

pumpkins


3) Surviving an International Festival

I’ve always been a big festival fan. A weekend with your friends, glitter and some of the world’s best bands is my idea of heaven. The issue with this is that I’m from Britain and unfortunately the combination of rain, mud and a lack of showers does not make me a very happy bunny. This year I went to my first international festival, Sziget in Budapest. Whilst it wasn’t quite up to the standards of Glastonbury, the atmosphere was brilliant and we definitely weren’t short of things to fill the 7 days with. The festival is close enough to Budapest to head into the city for the morning, stay in a hostel if camping isn’t for you or use the spas to keep on top of your personal hygiene (although the camp showers were some of the best I’ve seen at a festival). I can’t wait to try out some more international festivals, away from the dreary British weather!

Travel Firsts of 2016 by Real World Runaway

What to learn more about Sziget Festival? Here is my Ultimate Guide.


4) Taking in the Scenery by Train

I’ve obviously been on trains before but the gruelling 3 and half hour journey from university to home did not exactly sell me on the idea of sitting on an 8 hour journeys around Europe. Budget won out though and I boarded my first train between Prague and Budapest. As usual, I was wrong. I don’t know whether England is ugly or I’m just so used to the view that it goes straight over my head, but the scenery on the journey was beautiful. We got to see so many things that you’d never see by car or plane and the cabins were comfortable and private enough. I’d definitely recommend booking in advance though as I assume getting a seat drastically improves the journey.


Hope everyone had a great holiday season and a happy new year! What were your favourite travel firsts of 2016? And what are your plans for 2017? Let me know below!

Katie x

stay-12016 is nearly over and although I will not be sad to see the back of it, I definitely can’t complain about the amazing experiences travel has brought me this year. As a celebration of the year we’re saying goodbye to, I asked some travel blogging pals to tell me all about their favourite destinations of 2016. I dare you to not add at least one of these to your bucket list!


Whitsunday Islands, Australia

Favourite destinations of 2016 by Real World Runaway. Whitsundays

by Rebecca from Bee Wanderlust

My favourite destination of 2016 was definitely Whitehaven beach, on the Whitsunday Islands on Australia’s East Coast. I spent 3 days, 2 nights sailing around the Whitsunday Islands. Whitehaven beach is only accessible by boat and boats race to get there first and experience the pure white silica sand before anyone else. We arrived first as the sun rose at 6AM, the tide was out and the views from Hill Inlet were a breathtaking fusion of colours. Running across Whitehaven beach is spectacular, the sand is unlike any I have felt before. Pure white and soft, you can’t stop submerging your hands in it. I love beaches and this was without doubt the most beautiful, unbelievable beach I have been to in my 22 years, a highlight of my 2016.

Find more from Rebecca here:


Lagodekhi National Park, Georgia

Favourite destinations of 2016 by Real World Runaway. Georgia

Marinel from Brown Gal Trekker

In 2016, I was lucky to hop on the opportunity to explore the Republic of Georgia as a hiker.  One place that remains in the back of my mind is Lagodekhi.  It’s a National Park whereby one treks over 3 days to see the highlight called Black Rocks lake.  The hike up is rather gruelling as it is uphill the entire time and then you have to walk back down with the same amount of elevation.  But the effort and time to get there were remarkably worth it.  I intended to do the trek solo but by fate I was accompanied by a fellow solo hiker from Israel.  It was magical to finally reach the lake.  From our side, we can easily look across the lake and remind ourselves that the other side was actually Russia.  In fact, a cow path connects our side to the Russian part of the lake.  Of course, we didn’t dare cross.  We were happy and content to enjoy our side of this beauty while immersing ourselves in the sweet sound of solitude.  This is just one of the many jewels you can find in Georgia. I don’t doubt that Georgia will be the future hub of tourism in Europe with its lovely mountain trails, culture, food and local people.

Find more from Marniel here:


Moscow and St Petersburg, Russia

Favourite destinations of 2016 by Real World Runaway. Russia

By Rohan from Travels of a Bookpacker

We arrived in Russia with no real expectations and left completely awe-struck. In Moscow we felt completely emerged in a new culture and spent our days wide-eyed and open-mouthed looking at everything from St Basil’s Cathedral to the grand, museum-like metro stations. We tried all kinds of Russian cuisine and fell in love with ‘syrniki’ – small cottage cheese pancakes served with berry sauce. The people were so friendly and, despite their almost complete lack of English, tried to help us out wherever they could. 

This hospitality continued in St Petersburg, as did the spectacular architecture. We lost ourselves in the hundreds of rooms of the Hermitage Museum and spent hours wandering the water front admiring the views. St Petersburg had a much more European feel with pretty bridges, huge shopping streets and endless beautiful buildings. Russia was such an interesting and impressive place for a city break, we would love to go back to explore some different areas of this ginormous country!

Find more from Rohan here:


Sziget Festival and Budapest, Hungary

budapest

By Katie from Real World Runaway

If I’m being honest, my favourite travel experience of 2016 was NYC but as we’ve already got New York covered, I thought I’d go for something a little bit different. This year, I went to my first international festive, Sziget, in Budapest. Whilst I’m no stranger to a good festival, this was something a bit different, with a huge variety of music and art taking place on a little island in the middle of the Danube. From yoga classes to circus performances, there was something to do at every hour of the day but if you got tired of that then Budapest was just a 15 minute journey away! I instantly fell in love with the city, from the amazing architecture to the spas and the laid back lifestyle (not to mention the £1 beers). Sziget is definitely perfect for anyone wanting to experience a European festival whilst not straying too far from civilisation!

Want to learn more? Check out my Complete Sziget Festival Guide here.


New York City, USA

nyc

By Kariss from Shy Strange Manic

I was lucky enough to head over to the USA twice this year, and New York has made a real mark on me.  We went over for Thanksgiving week, and the city has a real buzz and a energy that you can almost feel in the air.  It’s a bit of a cliché but there really is an magical quality to New York, especially at this time of year.  The unique layout makes it so easy for explorers to find there way around, and I was surprised to find how small it really is.  The real gem for me here is the architecture, the art deco style in particular looks like something straight out of a 1920’s film, and central park in the fall is simply stunning!

Find more from Kariss here:


The British Virgin Islands

virgin-gordo

By Kristin from Sg Dive Girl

It was a cold winter’s day in New York City when I packed my bags and ventured out in search for warmer seas. I found myself on a cruise heading towards the Caribbean, and my spirits lifted as the air turned a more comfortable temperature. While the entire trip was amazing, filled with sun, sand and sea, my favorite destination has to be Virgin Gordo in the British Virgin Islands. I visited The Baths, a fascinating place with huge granite boulders littering a pristine white sand beach, where I could lie back and enjoy the sight of turquoise waters glimmering under the sunlight. There was also a trail that led me on a winding path up and down rocks and through shallow pools of seawater, offering a sense of adventure and many beautiful photo ops along the way!

Find more from Kristin here:


Burgos, Ilocos Norte, The Phillipines

kapurpurawan-rock-formation-8

By Renee Alexis from The Random Bibliophile

My favourite trip would have to be the Northern Philippines trip I had with my girlfriends. We went to seven (7) different places in a span of 5 days and my favourite destination would have to be the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Burgos, Ilocos NorteThe Kapurpurawan Rock Formation is the most stunning place I’ve seen in all of our Byaheng Ilocos adventures. It is a one-of-a-kind art created by nature herself. The stunning work-of-art is located on the rocky coast of Burgos, Ilocos Norte. It is known for its creamy white and streamlined limestone formations, which have been sculpted by different oceanic and weather forces, thus it is called Kapurpurawan, which is from the root word “Puraw” – a native word (Ilokano) that means pure or white.

Find more from Renee Alexis here:


Bellingham, Northumberland, UK

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By Yasmina from The July Journal

The best place that I have been to this year has to be Bellingham, Northumberland. I love it! A short drive away from Newcastle upon Tyne, it is the perfect getaway with the family for a weekend or as a day trip with your partner. The Hareshaw Linn walk is beautiful and you end up at an amazing waterfall. There’s some really nice shops and little cafes or pubs to have something to eat including The Riverdale Hotel where you get a free swim with your meal which I think is brilliant. Bellingham is a place where I used to go every weekend when I was a child with family and it’s so nice to have some time away in the countryside. 

Find more from Yasmina here:


Southern Islands, Thailand

getting-stamped-koh-lipe-thailand-honeymoon

By Hannah from Getting Stamped

We just got back from our last trip of 2016, and it was the icing on the cake to a year of amazing travels. We spent two weeks on the islands in Thailand. The first time on the Thai islands was on our Thailand honeymoon in 2012. We hired private long tail boats for $45 a day to bring us to remote private beaches, hiked to waterfalls on Koh Adang, enjoyed Singha beers while watching gorgeous sunsets, did some amazing snorkeling, ate some of the best Thai food right on the beach, rode my 8 foot unicorn in the sea, had endless $8 an hour beach massages, and much more. I hope a have a trip like this every year. Can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store.

Find more from Hannah (and her husband, Adam) here:


Coron, Palawan, The Phillipines

coron-palawan

By Kat from Tara Lets Anywhere

Coron is definitely my best travel this 2016, and that’s saying a lot considering that I’d also been to a few amazing beach destinations in the Philippines. There are various reasons that made this trip a favorite. One, it’s my first time traveling solo, and it made me realize how liberating it is to explore on my own. Second, the views in Coron are really out of this world. Although Coron has been a tourist attraction for several years now, the lagoons and islands have been well preserved. I loved swimming in green lagoons and lakes; snorkeling to see colorful fishes, giant clams and corals; and just beach bumming. I still feel elated when I remember this trip.

Find more from Kat (and her partner Hali) here:


Chidagoriga-Fuchi Park, Tokyo, Japan

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By Sophie from Travel Matters

I always find myself coming back to Japan and after three visits, I’m trying so hard to refrain from booking a one way ticket again for next year! Of all my trips in 2016, Japan still tops them all. Whether you’re visiting in Autumn when the burnt red and orange leaves are falling or during the Spring when bursts Cherry Blossoms are found on every street corner and park, it’s always beautiful. Friendly people, cheap and delicious food and everything kawaii is found in this culturally rich country – what’s not to love? A major travel highlight for me this year was when I found myself rowing a little boat down the Chidagoriga-Fuchi Park river in Tokyo amongst hoards of pink cherry blossoms. Trust me, you will find it hard to leave Japan just like I did in April this year.

Find more from Sophie here:


Dominican Republic

dr-jameka-ramnath

By JaMeka from Got the Travel Bug Too

The best place I’ve been to in 2016 is hands down the Dominican Republic. I have never seen so much lush greenery and beautiful turquoise water in my entire life. The water was so clear that I could actually see my feet underneath! The Dominican Republic isn’t just about resorts and beaches, but also its beautiful culture too. I really enjoyed meeting the locals and learning about their way of life. They work so hard for their family and have such kind hearts.

Find more from JaMeka here:


 

Where was your favourite trip of 2016? And where are you planning on going next year? Let me know in the comments!

Katie x

Life on the road can be hard. From keeping track of all your booking documents to finding th best places to eat, a lot can be on your mind. Luckily, it’s the 21st century and there’s an app for pretty much anything you could need (and a lot for things you definitely don’t). Here are my favourite free travel apps to make life a little easier.

The best free travel apps by Real World Runaway


1) Trip Advisor

Everyone knows Trip Advisor. It’s the go to place for hotel, restaurant and attraction reviews, and having an app makes the whole process so much simpler. However, not being content with dominating the review market, it’s also now possible to compare prices and book hotels, straight from the app which. I’ll even ignore the incredibly annoying advert with the dog that barks BOOK because it really is a massive convenience.

2) TripIt

A massive issue I’ve had with organising my travels is that all of the confirmation emails for months worth of activities and hotels can get easily lost. Luckily, TripIt scans your inbox and complies a comprehensive itinerary of your trip, straight from the app. If you aren’t comfortable with allowing the app access to your emails, you can always manually enter the details into the handy trip diary so everything is all in one place. It’s perfect for independent travellers or people planning long and complicated trips.

3) Localeur 

Want to get out of the overly crowded, tacky tourist spots and find out what a city is really about? Localeur is for you. It is made up of articles and lists which aim to give you an insight to any and every aspect of local culture. Literally…anything. Ever wondered what the best photo booth bars in Portland are? Well now you can find out. It’s currently limited to around 35 cities in the US but it’s priceless if you do happen to be visiting one of the select few.

4) Travello

Travello is the perfect social network for travellers, allowing you to meet people all over the world. It lets you log your trips so you can connect with those doing similar things and the forum section lets you ask questions to other travellers to get hints and tips on pretty much anything along the way. I’ve recently been named as one of the new Travello Ambassadors so if you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Download the app here.

5) Airbnb

Renting a whole AirBnb is a great way to really get your own space in a new city. They give you the opportunity to cook for yourself, invite people over or have a night in without the corporate feel of a hotel or the crowded nature of a hostel. If you’d rather meet the locals, then there is also the option for people to rent spare rooms in their homes, allowing you to really get stuck in to the lifestyle and culture.

What apps do you find helpful when travelling? Let me know in the comments below.

Katie x