Planning our (mini) American road trip

After our 2016 American road trip from Boston to San Francisco we decided we just had to go back to the states. Only unlike last time we’re just visiting for 2 weeks and not going to anywhere near as many places as we did before. This time, we’re revisiting our favourites; Nashville and New Orleans (with a few new stops along the way).

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My American road trip – Cost.

From the moment I got home from my road trip across America, I had people messaging me asking how we did it and how much it cost, asking advice etc. Continue reading

What is it like driving in America?

From the moment we had decided we were going on a road trip across America one thing played on our minds; “what is it going to be like driving over there?” 

As 3 Scots who could drive here in the UK, the thought of not just driving in another country, but that country being America and us having to adapt to driving in the opposite side of the car, on the opposite side of the road! Well it was daunting to say the least.

So, we’re in Boston at the car rental dealing with paperwork and all we have to go on is the 2 or 3 taxis we’ve been in since we arrived. Who I might add, all drove like they were insane. So now we’re just about to be handed our keys to a car that was bigger than any of us had ever driven before and the woman starts to tell us, “now if the police pull you over, move over straight away, hands on the wheel. DO NOT get out the car unless asked, get this paperwork and show them that along with your license” we were stood there like shit this sounds scary.

As I mentioned in a previous post our journey with our car didn’t start off the best as 2 hours into having it we were crashed into. Hence wee Monique in the picture is our second car. So I mean apart from the crash (as it wasn’t my fault) we were doing not too bad, we got a system going and that helped us a lot.

One person driving, whoever was in the passenger seat was in charge of making sure the driver didn’t drift into other lanes and helped when merging was needed. 
The actual driving though? Well it was so much easier than we expected. I don’t know how people don’t like driving automatics, life was a breeze behind that wheel because of it. 

The one thing though that I will never get my head around? Being able to turn on a red light??! What the hell is this all about?


All in all, driving in America is nowhere near as bad as we thought it would be. 

We got lost once and that was because we weren’t paying proper attention to our Sat Nav.

We never got pulled over by the police, in fact the only time we dealt with police was in Salem, MA because of our crash and then in LA because my friends were crossing the road when they shouldn’t have been apparently. But that’s another story.
If you’re thinking of getting a car in America but are unsure of anything, feel free to ask. Honestly though, it’s super easy! 


Thailand or America?

Guys I need your help!


After coming back from my roadtrip across America I decided I wanted to go to Thailand next year. But the past few days I’ve been thinking; do I go to Thailand or do I go back to America?

There’s so much of America I obviously haven’t seen yet and I have family in VA that I didn’t get to see on my trip in June. But, I do really want to go to Thailand. 

If I go to Thailand it’s mainly to do ‘Camp Thailand’ and then I would maybe travel for 2 weeks or so after. All in all it would maybe be a 6 week long trip.
But the thought of going back to America, hiring a car and driving around again. Although this time on my own.

I don’t know what to do! I need some help guys.
Please feel free to comment below and give me your opinions on what you think I should do? I’m so stuck! Thanks.



Road trip : Family First.

June 5th:


Our time in NYC was over, so with Ellé driving and myself in the passenger seat making sure to listen to our sat nav properly we were well and truly on our way, saying goodbye to NYC. But where were they headed first I hear you ask? We actually were planning on spending the afternoon near Brodheadsville, PA. Why there? Well Clare has some family that live there! Her cousin (Rita) and her family, so off we were to visit them. And all was going well, until we got to a bridge, that was closed. We had no idea where to go now, after a few phone calls to her family we managed to agree on us finding a place that her cousins husband would pick us up. We eventually found where we wanted to be but didn’t know what this guy looked like.. After all, Clare had never met them.

Next minute this guy is pointing at us, it was him! And oh my god, we all loved him! His name is Dennis and he was just something else. He gave us all hugs and started chatting away to us before we decided we better get on our way to their house. We followed him in the car and about 10 minutes later pulled up at this lovely house. We were stood outside talking when the front door opens and Dennis and Rita’s son opens the door, pulling us all inside and introducing himself as Thomas. We met Rita and the rest of her family, her youngest son (forgot his name) and her eldest George and his wife and kids.

They gave us all the warmest welcome ever. Shuffling us into the house, offering us drinks, chips and dip (that Rita had made herself, it was dyno). We spent the rest of the afternoon chatting mainly to Thomas about everything as he was a year or 2 younger than us. He would tell us about things in America and we told him about Scotland; constantly comparing the differences between the two. Which was highly interesting. It was amazing seeing just how different our lives actually are, and to know so much that we see in films that are featured in America is actually true and real. Crazy.

They set our a big spread of food for us, which we happily ate while chatting merrily. Before we knew it it was almost 16:00 and time for us unfortunately to get back on the road. We got a tour of the house, some group pictures and then said our goodbyes. Which I can’t tell you how sad it was to do, we loved them loads and didn’t want to leave, but we unfortunately had to.

They were the most welcoming family ever! It was amazing seeing my best friend meet some of her family for the first time and incredible how welcoming they were to her 3 friends tagging along. 

I think the 4 of us would love to see them all again. We had an incredible time.


Surviving a road trip

How do you survive a road trip?

After travelling 5044 miles across America on my road trip with my best friends, I think I have a few answers as to how to survive the long, sometime’s seemingly endless journey. At least, these are what helped with my journey; hopefully they help you too.

 

Firstly, you need some good music in your life. When you’re driving long journeys especially, you can’t rely on the radio to keep you going because you’re constantly losing signal and having to jump between stations, believe me I know. Our music was all on my phone, so whenever it crashed or when I’d lost/left behind my wire’s to charge it the radio was all we had. We had to make do at these times. When my phone was working though, oh we were in for some good times. I’ve already given you a glimpse of our playlist in my previous post but we listened to such a variation and loved every minute of it.

Now good music is great, but great company is better. If you happen to be heading on this journey make sure it’s with people you get along with, people who can hold a conversation and give you some laughs along the way. There’s nothing worse than being bored, especailly when you’re confined into a tin can with people who aren’t making things any better.

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Tying into the company, having someone else that can drive is a massive bonus. Depending on the length of your trip you don’t want to be the one constantly stuck behind the wheel. On our trip, we had 3 drivers in total and we all took our turns behind the wheel, with a month long journey and some drives being upwards of 7 hours you want to be able to relax and let someone else deal with the driving part.

Make sure to stock up on snacks and water before you hit the road. You don’t want to be on a long drive having to stop more regularly than needed/wanted all because someone feels peckish and wants a packet of crisps. Bulk buying water is a must, not only will it last you a good while, it will also save you money rather than continuously buying single bottles.

Fill up yout tank. It’s just common sense, make sure you have a full tank before you hit the road and have a limit for how low you’ll let the gas go before you stop to refuel. For us, we wouldn’t let our tank get below a quarter full, just to be on the safe side we also checked where gas stations were along our route so we knew where to top up if the next one wasn’t for a good while.

Music and conversation are good but sometimes you’re not in the mood for either. Bring some books, make sure to have some good apps on your phone/ipad or whatever to keep you entertained, car games. Just things to keep you sane really.

Stop whenever you want to. Don’t just stop because you need gas, the toilet, stock up on some snacks or stretch your legs. Some of the best places you’ll find will be the places you don’t intend to stop. I know we stopped at a random wee gas station in Texas and found they had some maps on the wall (both a map of america and rest of the world) along beside the maps were pins and they asked you to put a pin where you’re from. It was amazing to see where everyone had come from to this random gas station, more amazing that we were the first Scots.

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The best thing you could do, take pictures. I don’t mean just to post on some social media site either (instagram, facebook, twitter, tumblr, wherever), I mean yeah it’s great to share your pictures with everyone but sometimes it’s best to take some random snaps just for yourself. Make a scrapbook, pin them on a wall, take pictures of the memories.

 

 

Do you have any good road trip ideas? Leave a comment of them below to share with us all.

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Road trip : New York City

June 1st:

We had left Boston behind and were moving onto our next stop; NYC. We had stopped off on our drive to New York to grab a bite to eat and like mentioned in a previous post about our bad luck, we arrived only to be told our reservation had been cancelled. 

We were staying just outside NYC at the Super 8 North Bergen/New Jersey. So we arrived and they only had a room for the one night (we were meant to be staying 3) and we should check with them the next morning to see if they had any cancellations. Not exactly an ideal situation especially when you’re meant to be staying for 4 nights!


June 2nd:

We were up and at it relatively early, headed downstairs in the motel for some breakfast (we were completely loving our frosted flakes each morning) and to ask about the room situation. Fingers crossed things would work out! … which of course they did. They were able to offer us a room with a king bed which they would then also put a single bed into for us, we would have probably taken anything so obviously we snapped this up as it saved the hassle of trying to find another motel.

It was great as there was a shuttle that stopped right outside the motel to take you into NYC and at like $3 each, each time we used it we couldn’t complain.

So we hopped on the shuttle and off we went. The shuttle would go to the Port Authority but we would get off round the corner from here. I’d been to NYC once before so although it was a few years ago my memory of where things were was actually pretty good. Our first stop for the day was Times Square of course.

We done a little bit of shopping, walked around a little and then headed back to the motel to get changed as we were going to see some shows that night.

Myself and Ellé went to see Les Misérables while Shona and Clare went to see Chicago.

I had been looking forward to seeing Les Mis so much, and it was just as incredible as I thought it would be. After it finished Ellé didn’t feel so good so we headed back to the motel. 
June 3rd:

We were up, ready and out to get the shuttle into NYC relatively early again. Getting off our shuttle and today our first stop was Carlos Bakery. With 2 of us being big fans of Cake Boss we were so excited to head here and try some of their cakes, which did not disappoint, I had one of the best donuts of my life.

I got the chocolate custard filled donut and also it both an original and chocolate cannoli for later. They were all amazing.

After we stuffed our faces with cakes we started our tourist duties for the day, heading firstly to the empire state building. I’d been before but we were planning on going up as far as we could 103rd I think? But it was a bit foggy so we couldn’t go up as far unfortunately. Still a fabulous view though. We headed to ground zero after, which had changed since I was last there. For me the experience of going there was the same as before, I could literally feel my heartbreaking for everyone and their families. It always gets to me when you read their names and it says “and unborn child” beside their name. Even thinking of it now I feel such strong emotions.

After a short walk towards the Hudson river and for my friends to see the Statue of Liberty (from this distance was enough apparently) we decided to get some lunch and found a lovely restaurant on the riverside. Merchants River House; it was amazing. We got beautiful food along with a few cocktails, we’re Scottish we start drinking early. The food was just incredible, I had got sundried tomato crusted cod with a vegetable risotto and I scranned the lot!

Our next stop for the day was the Brooklyn Bridge, we walked down to it, grabbing an ice cream along the way. We also quickly discovered Clare has an obsession with bridges which we didn’t give up the entire trip; everytime we seen or crossed one it was pointed out to her. We then got the underground to Grand Central Station before deciding we had done enough sightseeing for the day and we needed a drink in our lives. We headed towards a a Scottish bar (as you do when you’re Scottish and see one elsewhere) I can’t even remember the name of the pun but it was just off times square with an Irish pub literally next door? Anyway we had one drink and left to go to the Irish pub because the service was atrocious! Needless to say we had more fun in the Irish pub!

Being slightly tipsy we felt it was time for some food in our lives, found somewhere selling pizza,  our eyes were bigger than our bellies. Then headed back to the motel. 

June 4th:

Our last day in NYC! Once again getting the shuttle in and we went straight for food, heading to Applebee’s! I got steak (the first of many on this trip) followed by s’mores churros which unfortunately weren’t as good as we thought they would be but still good nonetheless. We hit up Macy’s first and then Central Park was on the agenda for us today we we walked up there and walked our way through a small part of Central Park before stopping at a lovely wee bench and enjoying the view around us. I was so glad I was back here, and I got to see parts of the park I hadn’t seen last time. 

 

After relaxing for a while we decided upon going to Coney Island and headed towards the subway (after some detours along the way) we got to Coney Island at least an hour and a half later if not longer. We mostly walked around, enjoying the view in front of us before grabbing some food and then heading towards the big wheel. Now being someone that’s scared of heights I tend to stay away from these monstrosities but somehow I found myself on it, the experience not being too bad if I’m honest. Now back home we’ve tried our deep fried Mars bars, so when we seen deep friend items on a menu we had to try them. We decided to go for the oreos, which was definitely a good choice! After getting the subway back and the shuttle back to the motel that was our time in NYC over and done with. 

Our first week in America was almost complete.. 


Everyone needs a road trip play list

 

 

You can’t go on a road trip and not have an epic play list to sing along to in the car. Whether you’re on your own or with friends, whether you’re driving for an hour or ten. No car journey is complete without music.

With our month long trip across America, we would be in the car for upwards of 70 hours; so we definitely needed music to help us through. Luckily for the four of us the majority of our music is liked by the other three so we would rarely find ourselves listening to things we didn’t know or like. What we did listen to, well I’ll share with you all.

Below is a list of our top 10 songs that were, without a doubt, played almost if not every car journey.

 

  • CHVRCHES – Empty Threat.
  • DMX – Ruff Ryders’ Anthem.
  • 50 Cent – Life’s on the line.
  • Kings of Leon – Back Down South.
  • The La’s – There She Goes.
  • Eazy-E – Boyz N’ Tha Hood.
  • Eve – Let Me Blow Ya Mind
  • Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Californication.
  • Twin Atlantic – Oceans.
  • The Proclaimers – 500 miles.

500 miles, a true Scottish classic. Although we travelled slightly more than 500 miles (5044 to be precise) that didn’t stop us from belting it out.

So, there you have it. Just a small selection of the hundreds of songs that were on our playlist.

 

What songs are on your road trip play list? Leave a comment below and let me know!

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Road trip : Boston

 

May 3oth:

We landed in Boston and headed straight to our Motel (without our luggage). We were staying in the Super 8 Watertown/Cambridge/Boston area. The motel itself was like many others we stayed in and what we expected for the price. We stayed in a double queen room, which was spacious enough for the 4 of us, but let’s be honest most of the time I don’t care where I stay, you’re only sleeping there afterall.

Almost as soon as we arrived, we were out the door again and headed to find the nearest clothes stores as without our luggage we had nothing but the clothes on our backs. After a half hour walk we found ourselves at Watertown Mall, we went straight for some food, nothing fancy just a burger king. Then straight to Forever 21 and Target to get clothing essentials.

May 31st:

So, this was it. We were in Boston, our road trip (after over a year of planning) was finally here.

Our day started off with breakfast in the motel, cinnabun’s and waffles started us off for the day ahead. We got into a taxi into Cambridge, we weren’t staying directly in the centre of Boston, tactical for us really. It’s cheaper to stay just out and the price of taxi’s around was never that dear either. Harvard. It was just as beautiful as I thought it would be, although the grounds were mostly empty apart from other tourists like ourselves, I could just imagine what it would be like throughout the year. The buzz of people walking about, I mean, it’s Harvard afterall. We headed for a coffee in Crema Cafe, just along from Harvard. I’m not always a coffee person but it was good!

Next on our to do list was to head to the Prudential Centre as we had pre-booked ourselves onto one of the Boston Duck Tours, what better way to see Boston afterall?

I always love getting driven around, sightseeing places and when you have someone that’s full of banter like our guide was it makes it a good trip. Our guide was called “Tim Burr” he was really quite funny and made it even more enjoyable. We visited many places that we probably wouldn’t have had we not went on the duck tour, so it was great to see and learn about them. The best part was probably when we went into the water, seems like nothing, but people got a shot of driving in the water. My friend Clare being one of them, she’s not able to drive the car but at least she got to drive a boat!

 

We were back for lunch time and the place we were very excited to visit was The Cheesecake Factory. This was the first time we realised just how big the portion sizes are, wow. I got the chicken parmesian sandwich, it was really nice although just far too much! And who can go to The Cheesecake Factory and not get cheesecake? Well not us, of course we got cheesecake. I opted for the red velvet, I did not regret my decision.

While on the duck tour earlier we had driven past Boston Common where there was a part that was covered in small flags, we decided we wanted to head here next.. We asked someone where they were and they pointed us in the direction, although when we got there, there wasn’t any there and we presumed they had taken them down. We chilled in the park for a little while before we headed off to walk the Freedom Trail, which took us a while to find. Actually, we didn’t even realise we had found it at first. Here we were, walking along the Freedom Trail with not a clue in the world, looking for the Freedom Trail. We walked along it for a while until we got to a wall that had a map of the Freedom Trail on it and we decided we wanted to head towards the USS Consitution, which of course was in the opposite direction. So back the way we went.

We got there about 10 minutes after the place had closed unfortunately, so we hung about for a short while taking some pictures before we decided to call it a day and get a taxi back to our motel.

Remember how we got to Boston but our luggage didn’t? Well about 11pm our luggage arrived, with one case missing. The hassle of trying to get this case back probably deserves a post of it’s own I’m not going to lie, so you will likely get that in the future.

June 1st:

If only we knew how this day would play out, I think we would have stayed in. Ellé, Shona and I headed to pick up our car from Enterprise rental while Clare headed to buy more clothes (as it was her case that didn’t arrive). Smooth sailing at first, we got there, paid the rest we had to pay, signed the paperwork and got sent up a few flights to get our car. Picked Clare up and decided to head towards Salem. We were so excited to go and do some witch stuff. But, that didn’t happen did it? And honestly, I don’t think I can tell the store again so you can read it here. Short lived trip to Salem, and back to Boston we went to get a new car and get the hell out of there. We were informed by the woman at the car rental that drivers in Boston were some of, if not the worst and were actually known as ‘MASSHOLES’ = Massachusett Assholes. What I didn’t mention before was that when we got back to the rental company they didn’t have another car there for us, we mentioned we could come back later on as we planned to go back to the airport to try and find our other case and they were so amazing. They (I can’t refer to anyone by name as unfortunately we never got the womans name that helped us, but she was so incredibly lovely) drove us to the airport and picked a new, bigger, better car for us. They really went above and beyond.

Our time in Boston was over, and it was off to NYC where we thought we would be starting a fresh and leaving the bad luck behind. 

Boston, it was a pleasure. 

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