A Walk in Central Park – NYC

These photos are about 18 months old now – but I just love them so I wanted to put them on here. They were taken during our trip to NYC in November 2011, and I just love the autumn colours and gorgeous clear skies. It was a perfect New York autumn day, cold but not freezing – with little wind and clear skies. Actually, I’ve only ever been to NYC during October / November time – so it’ll be interesting to see how the city changes in the summer – when we stay there in a few months. For once we might be able to actually sunbath in the park!

NYC autumn central park

NYC autumn central park

The spot above (and below) might be one of my favourites in the whole park. I love seeing the buildings in the background, and the reflection in the water and the gorgeous autumn colours of the trees too. It’s hard to be in awe as you look at a view like that!

NYC autumn central park
NYC autumn central park

Don’t ever go in the park without taking a carriage ride! It’s relatively cheap (don’t forget to include the drivers tip though in your price) and it lasts for about 20 minutes. You don’t go through very far into the park, but it’s still a lovely experience and one of the cute cliched touristy things you just have to do. Pad actually had an allergic reaction to the horse shortly after this photo was taken though – so he spent the rest of the day sneezing!

NYC autumn central park

Screen Shot 2013-02-17 at 19.29.34

Screen Shot 2013-02-17 at 19.29.47

Screen Shot 2013-02-17 at 19.30.08
Screen Shot 2013-02-17 at 19.31.51

One of my absolute favourite photos ever, and definitely of this trip. I have this as my background image on my computer. It just reminds me of being happy in my favourite place.  Getting up that rock wasn’t easy though – considering this park is surrounded by massive building and a completely urban landscape – you’d be surprised how wild the terrain inside the park can feel.

NYC autumn central park

Screen Shot 2013-02-17 at 19.29.20

I Freaking Love Photo Booths. Part 1.

I love photos. But more than that, I love instant photos. Photo Booths are my favourite thing. In the whole world.

There is this one little photo booth in Queenstown Cinema (now, the first thing you have to understand about Queenstown Cinema is it’s like a 1980’s throwback). It has these little curtains around it, and it’s only $4 to get 6 photos. I make Paddy go in it with me every time we see a film.

It has actually inspired me though – and when we set off travelling in 6 weeks, I’m going to try and find a photo booth in every city we visit. Then at the end of the trip I’m going to cut them all up and fram them in a big frame. I love my photos, but there’s something a bit special about a photo booth picture. Then we’ll have this awesome souvenir showing how we’ve changed (etc) whilst travelling (I’m guessing the main change will be our tan).

Here are a few so far….

Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 11.02.38Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 11.02.28 Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 11.02.49 Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 11.03.13

Things we’ve learnt whilst travelling.

I know it’s cliche to sit here and say that travelling has been a journey of discovery – but for once – such a cliche is actually pretty true.

Cheesy, but true. 

When faced with bug bites, weird hostels, flight delays, awful landings, getting lost, heat waves (and a number of other things) you really learn a lot about yourself. Pad and I haven’t even really begun our travelling yet – I mean, yes, we’re in New Zealand and we’ve travelled around NZ and a bit of Oz – but all our major adventuring is still to come. Even saying that though, there is so much we’ve learnt about ourselves (and about each other) and about travelling in general.

Here are some of those things. 

I pack too many clothes.

It’s a problem. I’m trying to cut down but it’s like an addiction. We only have 20kgs when we go travelling in a month…. which isn’t a lot when you consider I had 32kgs coming out to NZ. I still don’t know how I got away with that at the airport.

Food is just as important as sight-seeing.

In Sydney Pad proclaimed one evening, that he was consuming “the best kebab I’ve ever had”. Which was quite a momentous occasion. The thing is, we love food. And when you’re abroad the food is just as much an experience as all the other stuff. One of the main things we’re excited for when we travel is the food in the USA. All those ribs and brisket and pulled pork. Yum.

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 12.45.59

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 12.42.06

A traveller and a backpacker are two different things. 

We are travellers, not backpackers. And I’ve started to realise that they are very different things. What’s the difference? Well, to a certain extent we’ve planned what we’re going to be doing, we have flights booked and we’ve can’t miss them. We won’t be sleeping on the beach to save cash (as awesome as that sounds) and we’d choose a private room in a hostel over a dorm any day.  We also don’t mind splashing out on a bit of luxury here and there, if it means our experience is enriched and we get a good nights sleep. I think maybe it’s a mind set, and although we’ll both be carrying backpacks around with us – backpackers we certainly aren’t. That’s not to say I don’t admire backpackers – it’s just a different way of travelling and a different way of seeing the world. Both ways equally as awesome and I don’t think it matters how you see the world and how you experience it – as long as you’re happy, having an awesome time and safe.

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 12.40.19

DEET will save the world one day. 

As someone who gets eaten alive every time any kind of biting insect is around – my discovery of DEET has changed my life. I can’t wait to get to Thailand and be all “yeah mozzies, that’s right, you can’t get me anymore”. I’ve heard that DEET can be bad for you, but until there are tests proving it, I’ll be using it.

Don’t just pack ‘nice clothes’

As well as the nice clothe (dresses, shoes, swimwear, etc) – you need to pack sportswear too. Stock up on some decent trainers, some shorts, some comfy tops and cotton vests. You might not wear this kind of stuff at home, but you will wear it when you’re travelling and you’ll regret it if you don’t pack these basics.

Neither of us will willingly be uncomfortable.

Pad and I like to be comfortable and I think we’ve both learnt that comfort is worth the extra money – especially when you’re travelling. In Bondi Beach we stopped in a private double in the YHA, which was great (and surprisingly comfy) but the room had no air conditioning. The weather was scorching outside (we were there on the brink of a record breaking heatwave) and without AC the room was literally a sauna. I think we’d both agree that little comforts like this are worth the extra money now – especially after a few sleepless nights like we had there. Have you ever tried to sleep in a sauna? It’s hard.

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 12.41.04

The sauna room in all it’s glory.

I’m an organisational FREAK.

Guilty. I don’t plan because it eases my mind (although that’s one of the reasons) but because I actually enjoy planning. Pad bought me a travel journal Moleskin for Christmas which now has every bit of research and planning you could ever wish for in it. I’ve even written in the book, that if lost, I’ll offer $100 as a reward. That’s how valuable it is to us now. I love planning and I’m a bit of a freak for it. Which is good really, because Pad isn’t. At all. So we strike a good balance.

I like maps and lists and tour books.

I like maps and lists and tour books.

A king-size bed is worth every extra penny you pay for it. 

In Auckland we stayed in the Sky City Casino and we had the biggest bed known to man. We’ve stayed in entire rooms in hostels, that weren’t as big as this bed. It was amazing.

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 12.44.22

We’ll never have it all figured out.

Before I got the Moleskin, I was constantly rewriting our plans on paper, again and again. I’d keep crossing places off, finding new ones and then starting the whole planning process again. It became a bit of a joke between us. But the thing is, it just goes to show – you’ll never have it all figured out. You can plan and plan, but the thing is, you never know for sure what to expect until you’re there. And even then, things might change.

WiFi is currency. 

In New Zealand and Australia, you’ll come across really random areas, where people are all sat with laptops and iPads. The other day we were walking in Queenstown and there was this girl skyping someone on a bench in the middle of the high street. She must have found some WiFi signal and decided to take advantage of it. This is common behaviour  and the more you travel the more you start to view WiFi as currency.

“Oh, your crappy cafe has FREE WIFI?! I’M IN!”

We always forget the suncream.

It’s a problem. We’re working on it. One day we’ll learn.

It’s OK just to sit and do nothing. 

A lot fo the time when you’re travelling you feel the pressure to be out, doing things and seeing things. But to be honest, a lot of the time, some of the nicest memories I have of a place is when we’ve done absolutely nothing. In NYC a couple of years ago one of our favourite things to do was just sit and people watch. In Bondi Beach I spent 4 hours sat on our roof terrace in a beanbag reading. Sometimes it’s nice just to sit and do nothing.

How I usually am, when we arrive in a new place.

How I usually am, when we arrive in a new place.

Money needs thinking about, and then re-thinking about.

Budgetting is one of those things that requires a bit of time and attention. Before we came to New Zealand, we had an idea about rent, and how much we’d budget for food, utilities and various other things. But New Zealand and Australia are both very expensive (especially for every day basics and food shopping) which we didn’t really count on or predict. In New Zealand I pay the equivalent of £4.50 for a bottle of Shampoo that at home would cost me £1.50 or less. It’s annoying – but there aren’t any alternatives and it’s just something you need to adjust to and make sure you have the flexibility to adjust to as well.

We’re pretty good at this relationship thing. 

You know that scene in Sex and The City when Charlotte and her husband get food poisoning  and in a weird way it’s kind of romantic, because they take care of each other? Well I spent almost all of January sick with stomach flu, and not once did Pad complain about taking care of me. I was a miserable mess  but he didn’t once make me feel guilty about it. That’s a real relationship test and we definitely pulled through it. Earlier on in January we had a terrible landing into Queenstown (actually we first had a “missed landing”) which shook me right down to my core. I was a crying wreck on the flight, and I genuinely wouldn’t have got through it without Pad. Travelling tends to throw up all sorts of challenges, and it’s nice to know we’re strong enough to get through them.

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 12.40.30

Pad will always look after the passports. 

And the tickets. And the boarding passes.

Bad weather doesn’t need to ruin things. 

When we went up to Bay of Islands we were pretty sure we were going to get this incredible sunny weather for the entire week, but instead we got the tail-end of a tropical storm happening in the Cook Islands. The weather was rubbish – but it didn’t ruin our trip. If it starts raining, go dance in it. If there’s a heat wave, go jump in the ocean.

Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 12.44.11

Cities have registered taxi cabs for a reason. 

We learnt this lesson in NYC, when we mistakenly got into a private cab instead of a yellow one at the airport (rookie mistake). Everything was fine, and the taxi man was very nice, until he turned round and asked us for a ridiculous amount of money for the taxi journey. We paid it, assuming it was the standard amount. Only afterwards did we find out all taxis have a fixed fee from the airport and that fixed fee was much, much lower than what we’d paid. Lesson learnt.

Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 21.10.15


Getting techie with it.

About three years ago I knew absolutely nothing about blogging, or wordpress, or servers or pretty much anything overly techie. Sure, I read blogs, and I used the internet, and I admired from afar those who ran their own blogs – but running and owning one myself seemed like the very distant future. It wasn’t though. I actually own 4 websites now, my personal blog (a social and PR industry niche), an online wedding magazine and a lingerie blog.

I’ve come a long way, and I don’t mind saying it. Sometimes when I mess around with WordPress and stuff, I’m actually surprised at how much I know. Now – I’m no pro or jedi-blogger, but I like to think I know what I’m doing now, and I that I do it pretty well. It also makes a huge difference being over in NZ now… as we have an inspiring place to write and we have plenty of time to do it too!

One of favourite writing spots – on our balcony.

So here are some things I’ve learnt: 

  • Content is King: Working in online marketing, this is one of the things being drilled home at the moment. If you want to succeed online, you need to be writing and producing great content. It has to be original too. Some second hand article you’ve borrowed from some other website, just won’t cut it anymore and you’d be kidding yourself if you thought it would. As someone who loves writing, this is something that came naturally to me from the start – I love writing content and taking photographs – the content side of things was never an issue.
  • Brand yourself: Part of my blogging for all my websites, is that I wanted them to be branded properly, and I wanted to build my personal brand too. This is something I never really thought of before I started blogging, but now I’m really aware of my personal brand and all the things tied to it. I think as a blogger, you have to be. Keep an eye on your personal Google search – and make sure your results are in-keeping. Think about your social profiles too and make sure they are branded and relevant.
  • Network – It wasn’t until I started working online, that I realised how important networking is. Good networking is what will get you spikes in traffic, it’s what will get you followers and fans and it’s how you spread the word about your blog and yourself. Make friends with people in your niche and communicate with them too – it should be an engaging experience – not a one-way one. Plus it’s great to support other people and their work too.
  • Set yourself up: When I first started blogging, I was signed up to a blogging platform that didn’t really offer me much flexibility design-wise. I’m now on WordPress which is externally hosted – which means I can change up design, widgets, themes, etc pretty easily. The whole hosting thing did kind of confuse me at first though, so it’s worth getting someone to talk you through it when you start setting it up. Finding review websites is always helpful, like this one. I’ve gone through about 3 different designs for this blog alone – as the content has grown, and as the blog has evolved, so has the way I wanted it all to look.
  • Social matters: Sharing your updates on social media really matters with blogging. If you can – schedule automatic tweets and statuses because it saves you the hassle of remembering to do it. Also, have a look at hashtags and stuff that’s going to spread your work to wider circles than just your own. The hashtag #ttot is a good one for the travel industry.
  • Know the right people: Getting your work infront of the right people is so important – because they’re the people who will willingly share and pass-on your blogs and articles. If you had an awesome experience at the hotel someone owns, tweet them about it and blog about it for them. Some of my biggest traffic spikes have been when people I’ve tweeted have retweeted or shared something on their own networks – because my blog post has benefited them and offered them good publicity, and I told them about it.
  • It costs money: And there is no getting around it. To run a successful blog, you’re probably going to need to invest a bit of money and a lot of time to get it where it needs to be. Money will probably need to be spent on the following things; hosting, theme designs, logo designers (unless you’re creative and can do it yourself), domain names and registration. It can be hard getting together the extra cash to fund these bits and pieces (especially if you weren’t budgeting for it) so looking for new ways to make extra money is always helpful for times like this.
  • Don’t be afraid to evolve: When I started this blog it was relatively small, and I thought the design should reflect that. It was more of a personal project than anything – so that friends and family could keep up with what we were doing. As time has gone on though, the website has grown, the archive has grown and my audience has grown too. Sure, there is still a long way to go but I’ve recently re-designed the blog to keep up with the growing readership and to show off the blog and how much I’ve achieved with it. I’m not working and blogging with some big travel brands too – so it’s all about encouraging those relationships.

Summer road-tripping in New Zealand

New Zealand is STUNNING in the summertime. So we’ve been making the most of it. I love the south island and it’s epic landscapes, and beautiful mountains so any excuse to get out and explore them sounds good to me. I would advise anyone wanting to explore the south island (especially Otago and the Queenstown area) to rent a car – even if it’s just for a day or two. You can see so much in the car, and you often stumble across hidden gems that you’d never have seen if you’d been in a coach or airplane.

Anyway here are some photos!

These (above) were taken near Pisa Mountain, on the drive from Queenstown to Wanaka. The view from up there is beautiful, you can see the valley stretch right in front of you all the way to Lake Wakatipu. If you’re cruising along the mountain roads, it’s pretty easy to stop off at little view points like these, and it’s definitely worth getting out for a view like this!

Of course, as with all roadtrips, before you head out make sure you’ve got the number of a local repair firm, tyre shop or engineer – especially in NZ where it’s so sparse and isolated in places. You don’t want to get stuck!

We also stopped off in the tiny town of Arrow Town, which was originally a gold miners settlement – in the gold rush that populated the Otago area around 150 years ago. To be honest, there isn’t much there, but it’s worth a coffee and an ice-cream and a quick walk around. It actually reminded me of a little western cowboy town you might see in an old movie, it felt a little out of place so close to Queenstown!

We then ventured over to Wanaka – somewhere which (before we’d visited) we heard many times likened to Queenstown. In all honesty, I don’t really see the similarity, sure they both have big lakes and mountain views – but the atmosphere and vibe of the two places are hugely different. I don’t know if it’s my overwhelming love of Queenstown that makes me biast – but I don’t think Wanaka compares to Queenstown in the slightest. If you were weighing the two up against each other unsure of which to stay in – I’d go for Queenstown every time. Queenstown is magical.

The weird photos above were taken at Puzzling World in Wanaka. It’s about (NZ) $18 per person to enter, and it’s a fun way to spend the afternoon. In particular there is this balance room (pictured above) where you literally just find it impossible to balance or walk around. Pad and I both nearly feel head over toes multiple times. It’ll completely mess with your mind! At one point, Pad and I were near the exit, and this Chinese tourist entered at the top, poked his head round the wall, and just said “help me” and all three of us burst out laughing. It’s definitely an experience, and unlike any room you’ve ever been in before.

The rest of the photos were taken around Queenstown at various points from the last two weeks. Queenstown is surprisingly big, and we’ve really tried to explore as much of it as possible recently. One of our favourite spots is Kelvin Heights, on the small beaches near the golf course. You feel a million world’s away from the bustling town centre, and yet it’s pretty easy to get to. Don’t bother going by taxi or bus though (that’ll take 25+ minutes, as it’s right around the lake) instead, go in the water taxi.

 This one was taken from the beach in Kelvin heights. I think it’s one of my favourite photos so far, because it just sums up how gorgeous the place is completely. Pad and I actually walk right across the the hill you can see in the background (and further) with very little water on a very hot day. After I got the the brink of dehydration we gave up, and headed to the road to catch the bus home! It’s a much longer walk than it looks, especially in 30 degree heat!

And of course, no summer in New Zealand would be complete without a boat trip…. So we went on one.

And last but not least, some more random but lovely photos I took… The sunset ones from our balcony might be my favourite, I think I’ll get them framed when we’re back in London. Even now as I’m typing there is a stunning sunset outside, so much so you feel bad for watching TV – because the view outside almost rivals it for entertainment. I’ve never known anywhere to be so vivid at sunset than here.

The stories behind the photographs.

I love taking photos – and growing up I think I used to annoy people at times with my incessant need to take photos all the time. As a traveller though – this is something which definitely pays off – as months (even years) after your trip, you can look through and have all these incredible memories flood back to you.

Sometimes though, there is a much more interesting story behind a photograph, than what you’d initially think. I was browsing through a couple of photos from Sydney today, and it was funny thinking of all the stories behind some of the photos I took – even though at first glance they look like just your average holiday snap. Anyway, this got me thinking – so I decided to trawl through some much older photos too (some from travelling, some not) to see what I could find. So here they are… photos and stories.

On first glance this photo looks a bit rubbish. It’s all blurred and it’s not really in focus at all. But this was taken exactly at midnight NYE as we watched the Sydney fireworks display infront of us. We’d been planning it for so long, and it was such an awesome night, that it doesn’t even matter if the photo is rubbish.

This photo was taken during our trip to NYC in 2011. We’d been walking around somewhere central and came across this random group of girls all waiting around this door. In NYC you’re always expecting to run into someone famous – so I asked who these kids were waiting for and they told me they were expecting Robert Pattinson to arrive soon. Now, I don’t even like him that much, and I frown upon the Twilight movies – but still, it’d be cool to see him, right? So we waiting in-line for like 30 minutes seeing if he’d show up. He didn’t.

Before I lived in London, day trips to London were like the best thing ever. Emily, Lizzie and myself arranged a day trip to the big city one summer and it was awesome. However. Please note the colour of my hair. BLONDE. Except the blonde was awful and didn’t sut me at all. So for the whole day I took all my photos in black and white. I know that’s ridiculous but it’s true. The next day I dyed my hair back brown. Lesson learnt.

This is probably the most hilarious photos I’ve ever taken. Not really because it’s even that funny – but because I remember how much we laughed when we noticed it. I think it still remains one of our family’s in-jokes. Grace and Megan I’m talking to you.

This photo isn’t really anything special when you first look at it. Just a couple of shadows. It’s actually the first photo I ever took of Pad and I though, so pretty special to me. I remember how annoying my bag was too (it was fringed and the little fringes would fall out in random places, like a breadcrumb trail). It was taken in Trafalgar Sq, one of our favourite places even now.

This photo was taken one NYE, when myself and lovely girlies decided we’d stop in instead of go out. We decided to do some kind of “ready steady cook” kind of thing and each of us brought ingredients and different parts of the meal. It was all going very well, but both Philippa and Marcelle spent the night with food poisoning. I thought I’d got away with it though and escaped the food poisoning (which was lucky – as I had a flight the next day) but I had no such luck. My food poisoning kicked in the next day and I spent a night throwing up in the airport. But look at us here, all happy and blissfully unaware of what would come.

Taken in the Oman in the middle east, this was taken after hours of being thrown around the back of a 4×4 jeep. I think Bekah and I just need some fresh air, and also to feel solid ground for 5 minutes.

About 5 minutes before this photo was taken I had been sobbing to myself. Not that you’d be able to tell! This was taken at the top of a big hill in Bay of Islands, NZ – a hill which we’d had to (practically) climb and hike up barefoot. It took about 20 minutes, but was probably the steepest thing I’ve ever walked up. For the duration of said climb, I had been certain we were nearly at the top – but the top never came. So I cried. I cried for the top to come. It did eventually, and when I got up there it dawned on me how much of a loser I was. The view was worth it, promise. And I’ll try never to be so pathetic again when faced with a steep incline.

This was taken in the Vatican, Rome. The holiday itself, was one of my favourite holidays ever but I think Philippa would agree this day was our low-point. I had made a bad footwear choice (this get’s icky, so stop reading if you’re not feeling it) as Rome is covered in cobble stones – and flimsy footwear just doesn’t cut it there. My shoes were super flimsy and the blisters I got spoke for themselves. They had personalities, names and professions and lives of their own. Anyway – it all got too much – so I popped my blister in the Vatican courtyard. Even typing that feels wrong. But I did. I’m sorry Mr Pope. This photo was taken just afterwards.

This is the best travel game ever. And I think during our skiing holiday we were all on the brink of addiction with this game. Literally, I think I enjoyed the game more than the skiing. It’s called Bananagrams incase anyone was interested. Buy it.

I still get teased for this photo and it’s one of the biggest running jokes between Pad and I. The night we took it was at the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, and was one of my favourite dates we’ve ever had. And, I don’t mind that I look stupid, because I know how much (on many occasions) it’s made him laugh. I wish I’d bought that hat though.


Onsen Hot Pools, Queenstown

Yesterday we rented a car, so decided to drive up to the Onsen Hot Pools in the evening. It was Pad’s birthday – so we wanted to something a bit special and a bit different – and this was certainly that. The pools are located in Arthurs Point, about a 15/20 minute drive north of Queenstown (it’s pretty easy to get to) which is remote enough to feel secluded – but close enough to town for it to be an easy drive. It’d probably be about $25 in a taxi I reckon – so not too bad if you have someone to split the cost with.

The Onsen Hot Pool is probably the most relaxing thing I’ve ever done – not to mention one of the most romantic too. I’d definitely recommend it to basically anyone – if you’re a group of friends travelling then it’s a great place to hang out and relax for an hour or so, but if you’re a couple it’s a lovely romantic way to spend a couple of hours together.

Basically, the hot pools are fresh-water private hot-tubs (although you can turn the jets off if you want) which are located in their own little private room, which has a re-tractable roof. It’s pretty perfect really – you have this incredible view, and massive hot-tub all to yourself, and even candles and aromatherapy if you specify when booking. You’re not overlooked either – in fact the only thing overlooking you is a big mountain range and the Shotover river.

Our booking was at 9pm, so when we arrived it was just starting to go dark (as you can see above). By the time we left if was completely dark – so it was nice to see the pool in both settings. There are changing rooms just outside in the corridor  and you can borrow lovely fluffy towels from reception too – there’s even a shower in your hot tub room – incase you want to cool off and then jump back in (which we did a few times).

We had the roof retracted the entire time, because that’s what makes it so unique I think, and it was lovely being in the hot water, but having a cool breeze from the mountains at the same time. The pools are huge too – there was only 2 of us in there – but I think you could easily fit 4/5. They’re so much deeper than the average hot-tubs too, and length wise I could stretch out and just about touch the edges (and I’m 5ft2 ish).

For anyone thinking of booking I’d probably recommend having a similar time-spot to us, it was lovely watching the sun go down, and having about 30 minutes of pure darkness outside too. As you can see – the room looks absolutely magical in the darkness and the candles are so romantic too! For any guys out there wanting to impress a special lady – this is without a doubt one of the most romantic things you could in the whole of New Zealand. It’s not too expensive either – we were pleasantly surprised at the price – considering how luxurious the entire experience feels.

Did you enjoy this post or find it helpful? If so I’d love if you could spare a second to vote for me in The Cosmopolitan Blog Awards 2014. Just click here to get to the voting site. Thanks a million!

7 weeks and counting. This is what we have planned!

It’s less than 7 weeks now, until we set off on our round the world trip – which is so exciting! We’ve been living in New Zealand for about 5 months now, and the whole point of being here was not only to explore New Zealand, but also to save up for an epic trip the following year…. which we’ve done!

We’ve managed to save up now, just how much we needed, and so we’ve even begun booking hotels and flights – which is kind of awesome. It’s so satisfying (after months of planning and daydreaming) to be booking places at last. In fact, in the last 2 days, I think Pad and I have booked around 5 flights, and about 5 different hotels too.

We’re incredibly lucky too though, as we’re partnering up with several companies, such as the wonderful Flight Centre, Hostel Bookers, Greyhound Australia and Asia Rooms, who are all participating to our trip in one way or the other, providing accommodation or transport. We’re feeling very lucky!

So here is our itinerary as it stands:

* Christchurch: 27th – 29th March

Our last stop in New Zealand, where we get to catch up with the lovely Hannah Livingston, and meet her beautiful baby boy!

*  Australia: 29th March – 29th April 

We’ll be stopping off at multiple destinations, with the help of Greyhound Australia and Flight Centre here. These will include, Melbourne and The Great Ocean Road, Sydney, Cairns and The Great Barrier Reef, Airline Beach and The Whitsunday Islands, Hervey Bay and Fraser Island, Noosa, Brisbane, Surfer’s Paradise and The Gold coast and finally Byron Bay. We’ll be mixing it up accommodation wise in Australia, sometimes stopping in hostels (thanks to the lovely Hostel Bookers) and sometimes opting for hotels.

* Singapore: 29th April – 4th May

Stopping with my awesome family out there, with plans to consume lots of amazing Hawker food. This is one of my favourite SE Asian cities, so I’m looking forward to showing Pad around, who is a Singapore newbie.

A souvenir from my last trip to Singapore. Hoping I can drag Pad into one of these crazy photo machines.

* Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia): 4th May – 6th May

Booked this as a whim the other day, as neither of us have ever been before and although it’ll be a quick visit, we’ll cram as much in as we can. We’re stopping in a suite in a luxury hotel and I literally can’t wait. We get complimentary breakfast, complimentary high-tea in the afternoon and free cocktails in the evening. I was sold as soon as I read about the cocktails.

The Shangri-la Traders Hotel, where we’ll be stopping!

* Koh Samui (Thailand): 6th May – 11th May

A relaxing beach break for us after all the quick, city stops. Asia Rooms are helping us out with our accommodation here, and we’re excited to see what they have in store for us. Basically, this stop-off will be full of pool days, beach days and maybe some elephants too. And monkeys. Oh, and we wanted to try out deep sea fishing.

* Phuket (Thailand): 11th May – 15th May

Another island resort in Thailand, but this time stopping in the (much more lively) town of Patong. I’m sure it’ll be world’s away from Koh Samui, but we’re after variety and we can’t wait to try out the nightlife here. We’ve got a beautiful spa hotel booked right in the centre of town, thanks to www.hotelsphuket.travel  so we’re all sorted for this location! Which means we can get a nice massage to cure the hangover…!

* Bangkok (Thailand): 15th May – 20th May

Again, the awesome Asia rooms are hooking us up for accommodation here – and I’m super excited for Bangkok. I’ve been before briefly – but it’ll be Pad’s first time. I’m pretty sure his only knowledge of Bangkok is the Hangover 2 movie – so I’ll have to show him some other stuff the city has to offer too.

* Hong Kong: 20th May – 25th May 

This is one of the locations I’m most excited for as I’ve never been before, but always wanted too! This means it’ll be Pad’s turn to lead the way – as he visited about 5 years ago. Can’t wait to see the skyline, and take copious amounts of photos. And also… DISNEYLAND. Oh, and CHINESE FOOD!!

* Las Vegas (USA): 25th May – 1st June

If I said I was excited for Las Vegas, I’d be lying. I am so much more than excited. I am like Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s sofa excited. I can’t wait. We’ve booked a luxury suite at the New York New York hotel for 4 of those nights, and then a room in the Venetian for the other 3. We agreed it’d be fully awesome to try out two different hotels, but to be honest, you could give me a bin to sleep in and as long as it’s Vegas I’ll be happy.

* New York City (USA): 1st June – 8th June

This is our last stop before heading home and we wanted to end the trip somewhere we both love. We’ll be stopping in an apartment just off Times Square, which we booked through AirBnB (highly recommended for anyone booking in a big city). We love NYC and can’t wait to spend our last bit of travelling there, especially as the last we went visited we had an amazing time.


Queenstown LUGE!!

New Zealand is Beautiful – especially in the summertime. And by far, some of the most fun I’ve had since living here was our day spent on the Queenstown Luge. WE LOVE THE LUGE! It’s basically an awesome go-cart track (but more awesome) with big slopes and scary bumps and (obviously) a gorgeous view too.

It’s hard not to get excited. Let’s face it. There are even free rides on the ski lift too (even if you’re not riding the Luge). And the helmets come in 4 colours. Amazing.

The restaurant at the top of the Gondola, is by far the best view in the whole of Queenstown. Maybe even New Zealand? Big claim – but I think it stands. It’s not too pricy either (considering how spectacular it actually is up there) and the buffet is yummy. If you don’t quite have the budget for the restaurant though, there are some super cute picnic tables outside (pictured!) where you can set up your own little al fresco dining experience. Two pretty good options, I think you’d agree?

I mean, even if you aren’t going to ride the Luge…. going up there for these incredible views is worth it. You can parachute down the hill back to town too – something I’m super excited to do sometime before we leave. I’m terrified of jumping from a plane (way too high for my liking) but the idea of jumping off the side of a hill doesn’t seem so drastic and scary. After living in QT a while, you actually get used to seeing the parachutes in the sky, and it becomes almost normal to see 3/4 flying above you as you have a coffee or walk round the shops.