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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

budget travel tips for students by Real Wold Runaway

Travelling is the ultimate dream for many students and with the long holidays and abundance of like-minded friends, university is a great time to explore the world!  The only issue is that student loans don’t usually stretch to endless flights, hostels and activities so here are my favourite budget travel tips to make the little money you do have go a whole lot further!

Pick the Right Destination


Location is everything when it comes to the price of travel and whilst the bright lights of the Big Apple and the laid back Sydney lifestyle are extremely alluring, they can guzzle up your cash in an instant. Don’t just be drawn in by a cheap flight. You must also consider the price of food, accommodation, activities and transport. Your daily budget for somewhere like the US will last you for over a week in Asia, so, even, if the initial expenditure is more, your money will go a lot further in the long term.

For more destination ideas, check out my favourite cities to travel in for under $30 a day!

Be Flexible and Use Deal Finders

The ultimate key to cheaper travel is beng flexible! There are so many great sites out there offering great deals but you’d have to be crazy lucky to find one that fits perfectly with pre-made plans. Don’t be set on a destination or specific dates and you could find a real gem. Some of my favourite sites include:

  • Skyscanner: Perfect for comparing the prices of flights. You can do the normal, boring searches for specific dates and destinations or you can search for any destination at the cheapest time. It’s perfect if you want some inspiration or are free to travel whenever is cheapest!
  • Hotwire: Hotwire sells off empty hotel rooms at cheaper prices under one condition. You only know the vague location and the star rating when you book. They claim it’s because the big hotel chains they offer don’t want you knowing you can get a room there for less, but it just adds to the fun for me. Be warned though that they do like to add on fees at the last minute so it may not be as cheap as you first think.
  • Travel Zoo: Travel Zoo is the ultimate collection of cheap holiday deals across the internet. It’s main use is for European city breaks but they sometimes have great deals on long haul trips and exotic destinations.
  • Secret Escapes: Very similar to Travel Zoo, Secret Escapes curates the best luxury deals around. You can save hundreds on high end hotels and expensive experiences such as safaris and 5* Bali retreats. Go on and treat yourself!
  • Trivago: Once you’ve found the accommodation that’s right for you, check the price on Trivago. They compare all of the prices for the same room on the web so you can always find the best deal.

Volunteer or Work Abroad


4 out of 5 children wanting to take a picture with you is a success right?

Volunteering whilst travelling is a great way to give back to the community and to really get immersed in the culture. It is just an added bonus that volunteering programs can allow for cheaper long term travel. WWOOF is a great organisation that helps travellers work on farms in return for food and board. There are also numerous opportunities all around the world that range from animal conservation to building schools to sports coaching, so keep an eye out!

If you’re planning on staying in one place for a while then it may be worth you looking in to working holiday visas. Loads of countries offer them and they allow you to earn some money whilst your away. Also, casual work is the perfect way to get to know some locals and really explore your new, temporary home!

Eat Like A Local

Eating out for three meals a day can seriously eat up your budget, especially if you’re eating at pricey tourist traps. Go to a supermarket and stock up on food for the week. Most hostels have kitchens where you can prepare your own food and you can take out picnics for lunch. If you do want to treat yourself to some meals out then stray away from the beaten track. Walk away from the landmarks to find better food for less. TripAdvisor and Yelp are great ways to find out where the locals think is worth the cash.

Use Alternative Transport

  • Buses: Whilst the idea of sitting on a cramped for hours may seem like hell, they’re often a tiny fraction of the price of a train ticket. Also, in places such as SE Asia, Australia and New Zealand, you can buy hop-on hop-off bus passes that allow you unlimited bus travel to explore the country freely.
  • Trains: Altough they’re usually more expensive than buses, trains area great alternative to flights. The European Interrailing pass allows you to pick from thousands of trains and hundreds of destinations to craft your unique European adventure. Also, sleeper trains save you paying for a night of accommodation and are a lot comfier than planes.
  • Layovers: Some airlines will offer free layover in their hub city or you can split flights up to save. For example, when booking my flights to New Zealand from the UK, it worked out way cheaper to fly to Singapore then on to New Zealand a week later, basically giving me a free holiday!
  • Car Hire: If there are multiple people in your group then car hire can often work out cheaper than multiple tickets on public transport. Be sure to budget for petrol, parking and tolls though!

More info can be found on transport options and passes here.


Scrimp on Accommodation


My American friends pretending not to be embarrassed by my poor pumpkin carving skills

Accommodation can often be the most expensive part of a trip meaning that there’s plenty of room for saving. If you’re anything like me, you’ll barely spend any time in your room anyway so all you really need is a bed and a roof. The obvious choice for a cheap night’s sleep would be a hostel, but in some cities, even these can be pricey. Don’t panic though, there are some other great tricks out there:

  • House swapping or sitting are great ways to get free accommodation and the place you’ll get will way surpass a hostel bunk. There are some great sites out there that connect travellers with people looking for house sitters and the majority of the time you’ll get the added bonus of a cuddly pet to look after. Find out more in this great article by Nomadic Matt.
  • One of the beauties of travelling is that you often meet people from all over the world who become friends for life. These friends then become gateways to even more amazing experiences! Staying with friends is about as good a deal as you’re ever going to get. A free sofa to sleep on, time to catch up with old friends and a local tour guide right by your side.
  • For those places where you aren’t lucky enough to have friends (probably most places) then sites like Couchsurfing and AirBnB offer great opportunities to stay for cheap whilst meeting a wide variety of locals. Just stay cautious and make sure you check the host’s reviews before booking.


Get a ISIC Card

The ISIC Card is an internationally recognised student card that can get you discounts anywhere in the world. The STA version comes with a build in, pre-paid MasterCard, allowing you to easily manage your money on the road! You can pick one up here.

Do you have any budget travel tips of your own? Let me know in the comments below!

Katie x

Where: From the East River to 3rd Avenue, between 14th Street and East Houston Street.

Tucked away from the main tourist attractions, the East Village is the perfect place to get a taste of what life is really like in New York. If you’re into eating, drinking or shopping, this effortlessly cool neighbourhood will make you never want to leave!

Things To Do

  • Just like me, the East Village is made for eating and drinking. With new bars and restaurants opening constantly, there’ll always be somewhere great to try. Take advantage of the numerous happy hour deals and watch your afternoon fly by.
  • Shop like the trendy locals and find yourself a gem at one of the many vintage stores, or just look at the clothes in utter confusion like I did.
  • Grab a picnic from a local deli and settle in to an afternoon in Tomkins Square Park.
  • Catch some independent theatre. The area has everything from musicals to audience participation murder mysteries.

Where To Eat

  • Katz Deli: New York isn’t New York without pastrami and Katz has some of the best. Served in monster sandwiches, it’s a favourite with both locals and tourists alike, just make sure you know what you want as the servers can get grouchy. The sandwiches are pricey but you’ll easily be fine getting one for two people to share.
  • Momofuku Noodle Bar: You’ll be hard pushed to find NYC food guide that doesn’t contain at least one member of the Momofuku family. The East Village Noodle Bar is one of the first of the group but has been moved around to bigger units to accommodate the demand. The current location even contains the novelty of real tables instead of just bar service. 
  • Veniero’s Pastry ShopAs a huge Cake Boss fan, I arrived in NYC incredibly excited to visit Carlo’s Bakery but after a fairly average cannoli from the Times Square store I took it upon myself to find a better bakery (because who else is going to try multiple cakes a day? Life is hard). Whilst almost all of the independent bakeries I sampled would trump Carlo’s, Veniero’s was definitely my favourite. Try anything, but the strawberry shortcake is especially incredible.
  • Baohaus: Somewhat of an institution, Baohaus serves amazing Taiwanese buns dreamed up by celebrity chef and TV host Eddie Huang. The restaurant is tiny but the Chairman Bao is well worth the wait. Sometimes they’re even open till 3.30am so you get the best quality drunk food you’ll ever not remember having. 
  • S’mac: S’mac was easily one of the best places I’ve ever eaten in New York although my love of cheese (real cheese, not American cheese) may make me biased. There are plenty of ready-made options on the menu but I’d recommend creating your own with whatever cheeses and toppings you want. I ended up with hot dogs, bacon and beef but I’m sure you could pick some veg if you’re that way inclined.

Where To Drink

  • BarcadeIf you love bars but hate the idea of actually having to talk to your friends, then Barcade is for you. Alternatively, if you like your friends but you’re just looking for something a little different to do with your evening, this is the perfect place. They have a huge selection of old school arcade games as well as an extensive beer menu and good quality bar food.
  • PDT: Despite the name standing for Please Don’t Tell, everyone and their cat seems to want a piece of this trendy speakeasy. Located behind a phone booth in a hot dog shop, my personal favourite NYC bar offers perfectly crafted cocktails along with the fanciest tater tots you’ll ever eat. Be warned though, it’s crazy popular and they only take reservations on the day from 3pm. We called at 3:15 on a Tuesday and couldn’t get a table until midnight.
  • Lois: Say draught wine and what do you think? My head automatically goes to a slightly dodgy, family owned Italian restaurant, but Lois is trying hard to change that. The minimalist, Scandinavian style bar serves up to 16 different wines on tap with the aim of keeping the drinks fresh and the prices down. Whilst I can’t really taste the difference, you can’t argue with the fact that low prices are good prices.
  • Holiday Cocktail Lounge: Whilst it can hard for a long running institution to survive alongside the influx of modern, trendy establishments in cities like New York, the Holiday Cocktail Lounge remains a firm favourite. It has all the character of a classic dive but with the menu and quality of a high class cocktail bar. 
  • Anywhere with a Happy Hour: Whilst there are some truly outstanding places to spend your evening, the streets are lined with great bars packed with locals, all offering a great, laid back atmosphere. Experience the all-American pickleback, a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice. Apparently it’s a tradition but I’m still convinced the barman was bored and wanted a laugh.

Keep your eyes peeled for more Manhattan Neighbourhood Guides coming soon!

Katie x