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Lauren Monitz is a travel/food writer and social media influencer specializing in offbeat adventures you didn't even know were on your bucket list. From becoming a certified viking in Iceland to blackwater rafting in New Zealand, she always seeks out the most insane adventures wherever she goes. On a mission to see all 50 states and at least 50 countries before 50, she has bylines across the web from MSN and the Huffington Post to Eater and USA Today, has done Snapchats for the Food Network, and Instagram takeovers for Forbes.
She has collaborated with 75+ brands in over 20 states and founded the Influencer Institute to teach others how to grow their following and turn their online brand into business opportunities while educating brands on best practices for working with influencers.
Normally in these yearly reflection pieces, I look back at the highlights and lowlights of trips I’ve taken, reliving happy memories and celebrating things I’ve checked off the bucket list, but seeing as the world as we knew it completely turned upside down So settle in with a big glass of whatever you’ve got left in the pantry, throw on your finest work from home sweat pants (business up top, party down below) and let’s reflect on quite possibly the strangest time in history in a year that truly felt like a decade. Things I miss but am sort of getting used to: Being less than an hour and a half from a big city and airport, being able to walk places or take public transit (even UBERs aren’t super common), having new restaurants to try all the time. The mosquitos and other creepy crawlies (I affectionately call Texas the Australia of America), the PTSD of hurricane season, religion intertwined in daily life, sayings like have a blessed day and Jesus music playing in mainstream stores, racially charged words like coon (which I recently learned is a Cajun phrase, not derogatory slur) casually thrown around, extreme political views being spouted off and shouted from the front lawn (believe whatever you want but keep your opinions to yourself), how gun happy everyone is, and the constant barrage of negativity.
Once owned by Davy Crockett, Texas Horse Park celebrates the Lone Star State’s equestrian history with horseback riding lessons and rides. Arguably Dalla’s coolest neighborhood, Deep Ellum, is a vibrant entertainment district with 100+ murals, 50+ bars, and 30+ boutiques. Where to Stay in Dallas With more than 30,000 hotel rooms, Dallas has a plethora of accommodation options for visitors. It’s recommended to wear a face mask, bring hand sanitizer, wash your hands frequently, know the local guidelines, and book a hotel with flexible cancellation policies in case you need to change your plans last minute.
How’s dry January going for you? Do you believe in doing a New Year’s cleanse / reset? Thankfully, with 0 calories, 0 sweeteners/sugar and 0 sodium @drinkpresent is a guilt-free indulgence and a great recovery drink. I have a new blog on my favorite CBD products for jet lag and travelers -- check it out and use promo code MonitzPresent for free shipping through March. #drinkpresent #beherebeyou
Each key has its own appeal, and with just two hours separating Key West, the outermost island, and Key Largo, the closest, there’s no reason why you ca The Lower Keys are a natural paradise, home to two national wildlife refuges, a national marine sanctuary, and a state park, while Marathon appeals more to families for abundant kid-friendly attractions and slower, “Old Florida” lifestyle. Best Scuba Diving on the Florida Keys Key Largo is the self-proclaimed dive capital of the world, home to Vandenberg Artificial Reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, one of the largest of its kind in the world. Some of the best eating experiences on the island include Hogfish Bar & Grill, Senor Frijoles, Hobo’s, Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen, Harriette’s Diner, Islamorada Fish Company, and The Island Fish Co., but you really can’t go wrong with any of the colorful tiki shacks you stumble upon.
With only three days of warning, you’re not left with much time to prep, yet feels like an infinite amount of time to worry, which is why you must rely on your own instincts and formulate your own set of guidelines for when to act. We made the decision to leave late Tuesday night prior to the mandatory evacuation being issued Wednesday morning as the storm was predicted to hit Wednesday night around midnight. Whether you choose to stay or choose to go, prepping an emergency kit in blue skies feels like you’re overreacting until you see everyone else panic buying and stripping the shelves with the most Texas rules ever –two briskets per person and four cases of water. If there isn’t a mandatory evacuation issued, you’re on your own in terms of using PTO to cover however long you’re gone, essentially burning through vacation days.
I showed you the nighttime view of this place, but here it is in the daytime. Hamilton Island, you’re a stunner 24/7 😍 and while I’m relieved the Australia fires are finally getting the media coverage they deserve, the entire country isn’t closed like they’d have you believe. 👉🏻 Don’t let it deter you from visiting this magical place but be safe and smart about it. Your tourist dollars are just as important as donations for rebuilding small towns and communities. If you want to go down under, educate yourself on the situation and use your best judgement to mitigate risk.