Five Things I Learned on Our American Road Trip

This year’s American road trip wasn’t just the biggest holiday I’ve ever been on, it’s also one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever done, period.

As well as seeing seven states’ worth of towns, cities and wilderness, spending nearly three weeks on the road with my favourite people was massively exciting! It was a totally new experience for me and it’s safe to say I learned a few things along the way…

Research is everything

From rest stops, to must-do activities, to the restaurants you REALLY want to avoid, doing your research before this kind of adventure really pays off. When you only have one day in a town, you want to make the most of it (and not waste any time Googling things to do when you get there!). Prior to our trip, we had a group access spreadsheet showing our timeline in each location and a Pinterest board to get all our ideas down. On reflection this was probably one of the smartest things we did and I would highly recommend it!

Expect the unexpected

You can plan as much as possible (see above), but sometimes you will still be surprised at where the road takes you. For us, it was up the side of a mountain on a dirt track on the way to Aspen (thanks a lot, road closure!), to a cabin in the middle of the woods in Utah (which Gary thought was a ‘rustic themed hotel’ when he spotted it online, haha!) and uh, Roswell generally (!) to name a few. These twists and turns are what made parts of our trip super memorable, and I wouldn’t want it to have went any other way.

Keep your camera charged

A bit of an obvious one, but when you’re using your camera so frequently (I don’t think mine was ever more than a few inches from me at all times…) it’s really easy to let the battery run out. Pack your charger, and make sure you use it regularly! Keeping my camera and phone charged meant I could freely capture the cities, the ghost towns, the insanely beautiful views and the odd selfie whenever I wanted.

The more you buy, the more you need to carry

…so go easy on the souvenirs! During our American road trip we visited more tacky gift shops, malls and gas stations than I can keep count of, and the temptation to buy things was REAL. But, when you’re having to transport everything around with you (there was a lot of car boot Tetris, you guys!), the novelty of shopping wears off fast! As some of you will remember, I picked up very small enamel pins as souvenirs as they were cute and easy to store!

Pack multipurpose clothing & accessories 

Partly to save suitcase space, also because you’re never quite sure what the weather is going to be like from one place to the next. I don’t think I’ll ever truly be a ‘capsule wardrobe’ type (surprise!) but I definitely brought a few things that I could get good use out of. My most-used item was this huge leopard print scarf (£2 from Primark about ten years ago!!), which I wore in my hair, as a wrap on chilly evenings and even over my face when we were in the windy desert.

These are just a few things I learned on our road trip, and I’ll be keeping all of them in mind for future holidays. If there’s anything I haven’t covered here, or if you have a question about something I’ve mentioned, feel free to get in touch or tweet me!

Here’s to adventure and the open road!

A Sleepover at The Bonham Hotel, Edinburgh

Over the last couple of years, I’ve started spending more and more of my time through in Edinburgh – whether it’s visiting friends, going on fun-filled days out or heading to events in the city. There are some areas of the capital that I’m not as familiar with yet and the leafy West End of Edinburgh is one of them – it seems filled with pretty neighbourhoods just itching to be explored.

When Laura got in touch to invite a few of us to her summer blogger sleepover, I was excited to see that our setting was The Bonham – one of Edinburgh’s oldest boutique hotels, located in a quiet West End street. I always look forward to Laura’s Glasgow sleepover events and going to a different city with my little pink suitcase felt like a mini holiday this time around!

I was the first one in our group to arrive, which meant I could spend a few minutes admiring the beautiful converted townhouse (which is spacious enough to hold almost fifty rooms and suites!) with its grand staircases and high ceilings. There was a statue in the reception area that reminded me of Bosley, so I felt at home right away…

After meeting Laura, we were taken to our luxurious sleepover suite which The Bonham hotel staff had thoughtfully kitted out with blankets, DVDs and white chocolate ‘Welcome’ cards. Enormous windows gave us a stunning view of the entire street and soon we were joined by the rest of the girls and got into our pyjamas.

The coffee table was quickly groaning with sweet treats (and that was before the hotel had even served us any food!). I’d visited the lovely Madamoiselle Macaron earlier that day and picked up some of their famous macarons for us all to try. Lori brought along a Victoria sponge and Lisa had baked a lemon loaf cake. Laura’s creation was the showstopper – a home-made raspberry buttercream cake Mary Berry would be proud of!

Our evening was packed with girly activities with top notch brow treatments from Benefit, summer jewellery making (kits supplied by Hobbycraft – and if you were wondering whether you can have too many tassels, the answer is no, no you cannot!) and a chance for us all to relax while having a good gossip about the best and worst of reality TV.

The team at The Bonham made sure that we were well-looked after and brought a delicious selection of food to the room.

I especially enjoyed our starters (poached Leven Farm duck eggs with asparagus and a grain mustard dressing) and desserts (a dense, dreamy chocolate mousse with pistachio parfait and edible flowers) but all of the dishes were delicious!

A chocolate fondue was brought in last as we snuggled up under the blankets and watched a movie. The room had plenty of sofas and armchairs and was spacious enough for us to stretch out. Call it a food coma (4 hours of grazing will do that to a gal!), or maybe it was too much excitement, but I found myself flagging just after midnight and my soft, squishy bed was calling me.

The next morning, the girls and I regrouped and headed downstairs to The Restaurant for a hearty breakfast before we checked out, ready to take on the rest of the weekend. We even managed to fit in a walk through the West End streets on our way to the station!

I had a wonderful time during our stay at The Bonham and, for me, the stand-out factor was the service – the team were very pleasant and helpful throughout and sometimes it’s nice to forego the option of self serve and feel like you’re in good hands.

You can find out more details about The Bonham, plus booking information, here!

 

 

 

With thanks to all at The Bonham hotel – this trip was arranged for review purposes, but all views and food babies are mine.

Pink Flamingos at Anaheim GardenWalk

How long does it normally take for you to get into “holiday mode”? You know, the feeling when you finally stop thinking about things back home and just completely start to live in that happy little bliss bubble of holiday fun? As much as I love to get excited for time off and new adventures, I must admit that it usually takes me a couple of days! During our time in California, it was on the day we woke up and decided to visit the Anaheim GardenWalk.

After a hectic travel day, followed by two busy (but awesome!) days at Disneyland, it felt like a bit of a luxury to sleep in a little, take our time and go out for some lunch. I decided it was the perfect occasion to wear this Lindy Bop tea dress, which is adorned with pink flamingos!

Anaheim GardenWalk is less than a ten minute walk from Disneyland and, since the area was new to us, we enjoyed strolling under the palm trees, taking it all in. It’s home to a shopping, dining and entertainment complex – all outdoors and set out like a shopping mall.

The upper level was the most exciting part (for us!), as it has been converted into the Artists Republic Gallery – giving local artists space to showcase the work in the form of beautiful and brightly-coloured murals. We spent ages admiring the pieces and spotting work from artists that we recognised like Sara M Lyons!

It was a super hot day, one of those sticky ones that melts all your makeup off by noon (TMI?) BUT, as well as being very cute, this dress was also really light and cool to wear – which felt like a godsend, trust me! I also love the cut of the dress – I have two other frocks in this style from Lindy Bop in this ‘Clarissa’ silhouette. It has capped sleeves and a belted waist which, if I had my way, all of my dresses would have.

The most important part though? Well, that would obviously be the flamingos, which look as though they have been hand-painted onto the fabric (they haven’t, of course, but the print effect is almost like a watercolour – so pretty!).

Outfit Details:

Flamingo Dress | c/o Lindy Bop

Swinton Sunglasses | c/o IOLLA

Sandals | Primark

Hair Orchid | Crown and Glory

After walking around the murals of the Anaheim GardenWalk, my flamingos and I took Gary for lunch, cheesecake and copious glasses of mango iced tea. It felt like the start of the perfect trip. Cheers to being on holiday mode!