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!

I Launched My Rebrand and Disappeared for 3 Weeks… Am I Crazy?

It’s been about six weeks since I officially launched my rebrand (you may pass GO, you may collect £200 – figuratively, of course…) and over the weekend, I reflected a little on how things have went and what I’ve learned.

The first thing that sprung to mind? The timing. Going live on a Sunday morning wasn’t exactly my dream plan when I first set out to do this and, as I tweeted my news, I felt like I was going against every digital business article I’d ever read.

All of a sudden, it was looking like all behind the scenes work was ready – the links, the post titles, the new social media handles, the archived stuff…it all WORKED. But it was a Sunday morning, and who the heck launches something new at that stage in the week?!

I was too excited to hold off. I just wanted to put it out there – because sometimes you just have to jump and do what your gut is telling you (in my case, my gut was looking at me with a manic grin while nodding vigorously). I had originally planned to build up momentum and to let people know well in advance that at a precise date, and a precise time, things would be ready. I’d be Little Miss Slick, launching this digital rebrand like a pro (WATCH OUT, SILICONE VALLEY, eh?).

Instead, I did a final check, uploaded a fresh blog post and threw open the door! And it felt good. Like, REALLY GOOD. I had a celebratory dance around the room and then I had to move onto my next task: I had to pack a bag because I was leaving for a three week road trip across America a few hours later. And the chances of me being able to post anything else to my shiny new site was going to be slim to non-existent.

Which I guess brings me to my main point! Three weeks in the fast-paced world of blogging and social media might as well be a lifetime and I’ll admit I was a bit nervous to be swanning off of the grid literally as I launched something new. I was worried that it would just sort of disappear – and I would disappear along with it!

I took a risk and hoped that it would work out. And you know what? It did! While I was away, I wasn’t online as much as usual (what can I say? There’s no wifi in the desert, you guys!) but when I did manage to check in, I was totally blown away by the lovely support and encouraging messages I was getting. Readers, PRs, brands, friends and creative folk that I really respect had noticed the rebrand and had taken the time to let me know how much they liked it – and I was super grateful for the feedback. I even felt silly for worrying!

So, here’s what I’ve learned: sometimes you need to go against convention and just do what feels like the right thing for you. You will be FINE, trust me! Because when it comes to you, your projects, your hustle, your passions, your rebrand, whatever it may be – there is no convention. It’s your playground and your ball and you get to decide what’s normal and what isn’t!

Planning is good, but pressure to be perfect? Not so good. Just be you, and the rest will work itself out. I hope that if you’re planning something awesome soon, you enjoy every crazy moment – even the unexpected ones!

 

 

 

5 Things You Must Do at Disneyland

Disneyland in Anaheim, California has always been on my ‘must-visit’ list. After all, it’s the park that started it all, opening over 60 years ago and remaining home to so many classic rides and attractions.

If you’ve been following along for a while, you’ll know by now that Gary and I have had a lot of amazing trips to Walt Disney World in Florida (and we’ve visited Disneyland Paris too!), so we were very excited to see the original park recently!

We managed to cram just about everything we wanted to see and do into two fun-filled days. A lot of you have been in touch to ask what I enjoyed the most about the California resort, which is a very difficult question!

Instead of choosing just one thing, I wanted to share five things that I loved about Disneyland (and its neighbouring park, Disney California Adventure), and what I’d recommend other first-time visitors check out…

Take a stroll on the boardwalk! Ever a magpie for anything vintage-inspired, I just loved Paradise Pier; the seaside boardwalk-themed area at Disney California Adventure. With a big dipper rollercoaster, Mickey’s Fun Wheel, midway games and candy floss galore, it was one of my favourite park areas by far!

Got a sweet tooth? Try the Matterhorn Macaroon! One thing that Disney always gets so right is their themed snacks, from Mickey-shaped pretzels to entire restaurants taking their cue from popular rides and movies. At Disneyland, the Matterhorn Macaroon is an exclusive treat shaped like the iconic bobsleds ride – oh-so-sweet and topped with white chocolate ‘snow’.

Twirl around in Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters! At Disney California Adventure, we were completely blown away by Carsland, which was surprising considering we aren’t loyal fans of the Cars franchise. The Route 66 theming in this area is spot on, the music is fantastic AND it’s also home to Luigi’s Rollickin’s Roadsters – a lively dancing cars ride. This ride isn’t replicated at any other Disney park and it’s so much fun!

Catch a movie sneak peek in Hollywood Land! Some of our most memorable experiences at Disney parks have been the ones that we weren’t expecting and, over the years, we’ve been able to catch special previews of upcoming films before they hit the cinemas. Disney California Adventure’s Hollywood Land area is kitted out with a 4D theatre, and it’s always worth checking in to see if they are showing any sneak peeks. On this trip we watched a preview of the new Pirates Of The Caribbean movie and now we can’t wait to see the whole thing.

Stop by Toontown…you never know who you might meet! Mickey’s Toontown is an area of Disneyland that makes you feel as though you’ve jumped into the pages of a brightly-coloured comic book! As well as being very stylised (great for photos!), Toontown is home to lots of rides and attractions that you won’t see at the other Disney parks. You can also walk right up to Minnie’s home and get a photo with your favourite mouse. Hey, Minnie girl!

These are just a few of my favourite ways to spend time at Disneyland, and I hope we can go back again for more magical days at the happiest place on earth!

Have you ever been to Disneyland? Tell me your tips!