48hours in Miami- A guide to the US party capital

Palm trees, skyscraper hotels and a beautiful harbour.. It can only be M I A M I 🇺🇸🌴 #Florida #Miami #wanderlustwednesday

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on


Hi everyone,

On my American Adventure this summer I had the chance to explore the US party capital of Miami, somewhere I have wanted to visit for months and months! I only had two full days to explore whilst on my Contiki Grand Southern trip, but I definitely made the most of my short time there and it lived up to my crazy high expectations – Miami was INCREDIBLE! Two full days actually gives you enough time to see the main sights, although I would love to have embraced the beach life for a few days longer! Here is my list of must see’s and my guide on how to make the most of your time in the city…


Hit Lincoln Road Mall for the ultimate shopping experience


#tbt to M I A M I 🇺🇸🌴 #America #USA #contiki #grandsouthern #noregrets #throwbackthursday

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on


Lincoln Road Mall was the first stop of my Miami trip and it was the best way to get acclimatised to the city. We strolled up and down the boulevard checking out all the stores, picking up souvenirs and stopping for drinks whilst people-watching til our hearts were content! This place is THE premier shopping mall in Miami and stretches for miles with stores selling everything you can think of. I loved that the streets were lined with palm trees and there were market stalls on every corner – embracing the true Miami lifestyle was so much fun and it was one of the best shopping experiences I’ve ever had!

Take a thriller speed boat ride to Star Island


BRB, just gonna move in to ma new house 🌴🏡 #Miami #Florida #wanderlustwednesday #housegoals #agirlcandream

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on


This was an optional extra on my Contiki trip and I am SO glad I did it! I am usually really  bad with boats, or any kind of water based activity, as I suffer badly with both travel and sea sickness, so I really thought I’d struggle on this one, but the boat went SO FRIKKIN FAST that I don’t think my body even had time to start feeling sick! We sped across the ocean and sailed around Biscayne Bay before making our way over to Star Island to ogle at all the famous people’s houses that were on site! The 90 minute tour took us past amazing homes belonging to Will Smith, Julio Iglesias & Gloria Estefan before making our way back to the harbour where we were placed firmly back on the ground and came back to the real world! The boat tour was a really fun way of seeing Biscayne Bay – tours run every 2 hours departing from the harbour – and I’d 100% recommend it to anyone wanting to explore Miami from the ocean!

Embrace beach life


I'm in Miami bitchhh! 🇺🇸🎉🇺🇸🎉 #noregrets #grandsouthern #miami

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on


Miami is suuuuch a cool place and it has some of the best beaches I’ve ever seen! Both Miami Beach and South Beach were my faves; they were framed by skyscraper hotels, art-deco buildings and white sands with the bluest sea I have ever swam in! Beach life is a massive part of Miami, and these beaches are known to attract top celebs all year round – I tried my best to spot some A-Listers but sadly didn’t see anyone during my trip! After a hectic week exploring Florida it was so nice to just chill out on the beach and spend some time people-watching and seeing those ocean waves roll in… what I would give to be back there right now!

Take in the awesome skyline



So this kinda goes without saying, but as soon as you arrive in Miami you won’t be able to miss the incredible skyline that is present across the entire city. The best way to see it is by boat, look behind you and just gaze up at the sheer size of those buildings – they’re so iconic and you’ll pinch yourself to check whether you’re actually there or whether you’re just day dreaming! I know I did that, and I still can’t believe I’ve actually been to Miami, even four months after I got back!

Party like a local


Miami rooftops 🎉🇺🇸 #saturdaynight

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on


You can’t visit Miami without partying at least once, so go out like a local, hit the clubs and dance the night away! We had drinks on the rooftop of our hotel (Hotel Croydon on Collins Avenue – would highly recommend this as a place to stay) then headed out to the main strip and went in a few small bars first before getting into the clubs which were HUGE! Drinks and entrance charges were really expensive, think Vegas prices, but the venues are so luxurious and there’s no where else quite like Miami so it definitely has to be done at least once on your trip!

Sail around Miami Harbour


🇺🇸🇺🇸 #Miami #florida #contiki #grandsouthern #noregrets #starttheadventure #takemeback #traveltuesday

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on


So this was organised as part of my Contiki trip, but if you get the chance to hop on a party cruise and sail around Miami Harbour I would definitely recommend it! We saw the whole of the Miami skyline lit up at night which looked totally amazing, and sailing around the bay was sooo dreamy. Our big American flag flew proudly at the rear of the ship, and we had an on-board bar with our very own DJ which made for a brilliant party atmosphere! I know Miami is big on clubbing, but a party boat is suuuuch good fun and a really good way of getting to meet people if you’re travelling alone or in a small group, plus it’ll be cheaper than the clubs and less busy – winner!

So there we have it, my top tips on exploring Miami in a whirlwind 48 hours! Immerse yourself in the buzz of the city, visit the sites, relax on the beach and embrace the party vibe that is present throughout for the full Floridian experience. Hopefully this post inspires you for your trip to the city and helps with that all important planning!

Have you ever been to Miami? Tell me what you thought of it, I’d love to hear your comments!

Love Jess x

🇺🇸 M I A M I 🇺🇸 #wanderlustwednesday

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

🏙🌊 #Miami #Florida #takemeback #wanderlustwednesday

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on


Help! I have a serious case of post-travel blues…

Quite possibly the most beautiful landscape I've ever seen 🇺🇸😍 @contiki @statravel_uk #monumentvalley

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on


Hey everyone,

So I’m writing this post with a bit of a heavy heart. I have been feeling so so down lately, and a bit lost, and I just don’t know where to turn to or what to do about it really, other than write it all down a big long blog post and try to work out what the hell is wrong with me!

As most of you will know, I recently returned from the trip of a lifetime across America. I had the best time of my whole life and made friends with so many new people, most of whom are now lifelong friends. We have become so close and I miss them all dearly, every single day. They all live in Australia and New Zealand, which makes it even harder when you live the other side of the world in rainy old England! I talk to most of them as much as I can – thank god for FaceTime! – and we all keep in touch on our group Facebook, but it’s just not the same!



I’ve experienced travel blues before, I often feel a bit down when I’m back from a holiday or city break, I guess it’s only normal, but this is a whole different thing all together. I’m experiencing something I’ve never dealt with before, I’m sad all the time and I feel low even when I have other people around me, like my amazing family and my friends from home. I guess it’s the intensity of being with so many people for such a long time, living with them day in day out, sharing the same adventure and going on the same journey together which makes it such an intense experience – we all bonded and clicked, and maybe that’s why I’m finding it so hard to be without them all.

I think I’m also struggling because I haven’t had a ‘normal’ routine to go back to – I quit my job in order to travel and focus on my blog for the rest of this year, which I’m doing, and I’m so lucky to be in a position to be able to do so, but I’m finding it incredibly lonely and, at times, I’m struggling to adjust to my new life. So many people have said to me ‘oh you’re living the dream’ or ‘oh why are you moaning you don’t have work to get up for tomorrow’ and yeah, I get that, I see where they’re coming from, but at the same time I don’t have anyone around me during the days when I’m at my lowest point and I’m dwelling on the past. I don’t have anyone to have my lunch with, and I don’t have anyone to talk to if I’m feeling like things are getting on top of me.



Maybe I’m suffering from sort of mild depression, and I say that very very carefully, as I know depression is a terrible illness that affects so many people. I’ve dealt with a mild form of depression before; when I was 15 and I had eating problem and body issues, and then again when I was 21 and I dealt with my first heartbreak. At times I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, I went through darkness where I cried for hours every single day, for weeks on end, and it took months for me to get back to the real me, and to feel as I had done in happier times. So I’m not saying this on the same level, or in any way comparable to people who have suffered with and have been diagnosed with real depression, but it’s kind of the only thing that describes the way I’ve been feeling lately.


Even if it ain't all it seems, I've got a pocket full of dreams 🏙🇺🇸 #newyork #NYC #bigapple #tbt

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on


I’m trying to cure my travel blues by keeping busy, focusing on my blog and developing my freelance writing jobs and of course by keeping active. I take my dog out for a walk every single day, and she keeps me company by sitting at my feet whilst I type away furiously on my laptop! I also see my friends as much as I can and I’m constantly texting/FaceTiming people so that keeps me busy, I guess I just need to fill my time and plan things to look forward to until I feel content enough to just relax and enjoy life. Maybe I’m just a bit nervous at the moment, what with not having a full time job and I’m wondering how I’m going to make a proper living, but I think I just need to take a step back and stop WORRYING! I find that so hard though, I worry about everything, I just can’t help it.


So exactly a whole month ago today I returned from my American adventure. My mum took this photo of me just as I had come through arrivals at Heathrow airport. Seconds earlier I had collapsed into my mum and dads arms and burst into tears. I sobbed so much and they both hugged me so tight and, in those few seconds, I realised nothing was more important than love. I felt overwhelmed with exhaustion, with relief that I'd made it home safe, and with emotion because my amazing adventure was over. But in those few seconds I realised that nothing is more important than being with people you love. Travelling has made me realise that, no matter how far you go or how long you're away for, you'll always come home to where you belong, and you'll always be loved no matter where you are in the world. It's also made me want to be a better person, live each day as if it's my last, and to never be afraid to act how I feel and to follow my heart. Have courage and believe in yourself. If you like someone, tell them. If you love someone, show them. Don't let anyone tell you you're being stupid or you can't do something you've always wanted to, who are they to judge? I guess since I've been home I've appreciated things a lot more, I've learnt to be content with who I am as a person, and to never doubt myself. I've also learnt to stop living in the past and start looking forward to the future. Be spontaneous, do things and see the world. Don't put things off, do them today, not tomorrow. Don't leave things unsaid. A lot can change in a day. Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer, please go and explore our beautiful planet, before it's too late. ✈️🌍

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on


Sorry for the rant, it just helps sometimes for me to get things off my chest! Have any of you ever experienced post travel blues before, and have they ever been on this level? I’d be keen to know if such a thing actually exists, or if I’m just being plain stupid!

Please tell me if it’s real, or if it’s all in my head…

Love Jess x

Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game ⚾️⚾️

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on



28 days, 23 states, 1 epic US road trip! How my first Contiki adventure totally changed my life!



Hey everyone,

Now that I’ve finally caught up with sleep and my routine is kinda back to normal I thought I’d share this honest and open post with you about my first solo adventure and how I feel it has totally changed my life.. I’m just gonna speak from the heart and see what happens so I apologise in advance for any typos/bad grammar but this is me just laying everything down on paper, or on a web page I should say! Here goes…

I grew so much in confidence

This is a little cliché, but for me it’s 100% true! I genuinely have gained so much confidence from my first solo adventure that I now feel fully able to travel anywhere in the world totally on my own. I loved being by myself at the airports, at the taxi ranks, at hotel bars – weirdly it was refreshing not to worry about someone else, and just to enjoy being by myself for abit. It also made it super easy to chat to other people and see if anyone else was in the same boat as me. I’m so so glad I travelled alone on this tour as I feel I got the best out of the whole trip by just being MYSELF the whole time!


When in #Vegas a pool party is a must! 🎉👙

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on


Now when I think about taking my next trip I’m not going to worry if my sister or my best friend can’t take time off to come with me, I’m happy to go alone and create my OWN new experiences. Since I got back from my trip I’ve realised I’m also super happy and fully content to be SINGLE for the first time in ages – who needs a guy to hold you back?! #foreveralone #goodbyetinder


Trekked halfway down to the canyon and then back up again today 🏃🏃 @contiki #grandcanyon #USA #noregrets

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on


I overcame my illnesses

This is probably the biggest thing for me that has really been lifechanging. I can’t believe I made it a whole month without getting ill!! Okay, I was sick on two separate occasions, around six or seven times each, BUT I wasn’t ill as in poorly like I have previously been, with endless trips to the doctors back home, I just threw up a few times and I dealt with it – no biggy! Usually, when I’m sick at home it wipes me out for days, gives me stomach cramps and I don’t eat for a week but for some unknown reason after I was sick each time I was able to just brush myself down and get on with things. That’s never happened to me before so I’ll definitely be better off next time I’m sick at home! I also get tired really quickly as I have anaemia, I can sleep literally anywhere and I sleep a LOT but it kind of became a running joke on the bus that I was the first to fall asleep first and the one to sleep through anything! It defo helped when we had long bus days!


Monday's got me feeling like this again.. I definitely didn't fall asleep in #Washington 😴😴

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on


I also proved that I can travel with my health condition and that I was FINE! If you’re an avid reader of my blog you’ll know that from one of my previous posts that I have a small (benign) tumor in my brain which affects my eyesight and my general health. I get headaches and I get dizzy a lot, but my medication controls most of my symptoms so well that, for a few split seconds, sometimes I forget I even have a tumor! Anyway, I was determined that my condition wouldn’t get the better of me so that I could still travel like a ‘normal person’ and, you know what, apart from the ridiculously high charge for specialist travel insurance, I didn’t feel any different! I took my medication, made sure I was eating and drinking enough and remembered to chill out if I felt a headache coming on. I’m so pleased I was able to travel for so long without my condition affecting me and this has given me the confidence to book other long-haul trips as I now know I can look after myself and still travel with my illness! Woooo #gojess #thistumorwillneverbeatme



I made lifelong friends and memories

So in a normal world and in normal everyday life you wouldn’t be best friends with someone you just met, or you wouldn’t sleep next to a stranger on a bus, right?! Well on Contiki, this happened and I wouldn’t change a thing! I became sooo close to my tour buddies that I now see them as FAMILY and I love them dearly. It’s so intense living with 52 other people day in, day out but it’s the best way to grow close and I’m so grateful to Contiki for allowing me to meet so many wonderful people!


White T-Shirt signing party on our last night in #Washington 👚👨‍👩‍👦‍👦 #Contiki #family #noregrets #stopcryingjess

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on


Special shoutouts to Jess- my partner in crime, Wadey – my first Contiki friend, Poppy – my roomie, Daz – my dance partner, Bel, Kath and Kim – my little cuties, Amy, Alana, Tamara and Megan- my musketeers, Ray and John – our amazing Contiki team and James, Matt, Richard, Chris, Corey and Dalton – my boys! I love and miss each and every one of you so so much and can’t wait to visit you all in Australia next year to be reunited! I 100% know we will remain friends forever, thank you for making my Contiki experience the best <3


Another #baseball game last night with my #contiki fam ⚾️⚾️ #Washington #DC #noregrets

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on


I ticked so much off my bucketlist

From white water rafting in Durango and speed boating in Miami to helicoptering over the Grand Canyon and parasailing across Daytona Beach I ticked SO MUCH off my bucketlist on this trip, and that’s just the optional activities! Contiki also helped me get the best American experience possible by visiting hidden gems including local foodie spots and cute little bars. We had fajitas in Santa Fe and Hurricanes in New Orleans. We saw New York street parades on 4th July and watched baseball games in Washington & Memphis.



We gambled in Vegas, we line danced in Amarillo, we road tripped across Route 66, we ghost hunted in Savannah and we went to infinity and beyond at NASA HQ. Everything I did I loved every single second and I’m so glad I could experience so much of America in such a short space of time. The optional extras were worth every penny and I’d do them all again in a heartbeat!


Don't think I could look more tiny if I tried! @nasa @contiki @statravel_uk #contiki #grandsouthern #america #USA #noregrets #NASA

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on


I made crazy decisions and became super spontaneous

I spent money on crappy souvenirs, I gambled my dollars and I bought drink after drink in the clubs but perhaps the craziest decision I’ve ever made is when I extended my stay in NYC, delayed my flight by 24hours and paid £471 for the privilege!!!! I know, crazy right?!



It cost so much money I wanted to cry, but I remember thinking that I wasn’t born to just have money sitting in the bank. I’m on this planet to enjoy life, spend my hard earned cash, make stupid decisions and have the best memories in the world! I don’t regret my decision at all as, although it cost me a fortune, I got to spend 4th July in NYC with my new family and we were able to have one last night together – to me, that’s worth more than money in my bank account!

Most importantly…I have NO REGRETS!!

This is our Contiki saying!  If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from my time away it’s that you’ve got to live in the moment, take every day as it comes, seize new opportunities and just have the time of your life – I know I have and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat! #noregrets <3

Unless you’ve been on a similar Contiki trip I don’t expect any of you lovely lot to understand the way I feel, but I can honestly say I’ve had the most amazing 28 days of my life with the most wonderful people and have made memories that I will cherish forever. I have been through a rollercoaster of emotions; I’ve laughed so hard my ribs hurt for days, and I’ve also cried so much I had constant panda eyes and looked horrendous! I can’t describe the way I’ve been feeling but it’s 100% changed the person I was before to the person I am now.



Since I’ve been back I’ve received lots of lovely messages from people thinking about booking a Contiki trip and asking me how I got on etc. People have also been asking me if I’m likely to do another Contiki trip and I honestly don’t know whether to or not.. I’d love to do the Grand Northern across America and Canada, but part of me is reluctant to do another month long tour for fear of it not living up to the Grand Southern! It won’t be the same people, the same places or the same journey and I’m worried I’ll compare it and it won’t be as good as this trip.

On the other hand though, I don’t want anything to be the same as the Grand Southern as nothing will ever compare to that and I would never want to replace those amazing memories! As we rolled into NYC on our 27th day, our tour guide John told us to keep travelling, keep going on journeys and keep exploring no matter what, so I’m going to travel and see the rest of this beautiful planet, but probably without 52 other crazy people keeping me company! Who knows what will happen next though… Watch this space!



Have any of you ever done a Contiki tour, or taken part in a similar journey either across the world or across the United States like me? I would LOVE to hear your experiences so please leave me a comment or get in touch with me on one of my many social media channels! Sorry that this is long and rambly but I just have sooo much to say on something that has been sooo big in my little life!

Love Jess x

PS. Don’t forget to read my official Contiki review of the Grand Southern adventure!


So after 28 amazing days the time has come for me to leave the US of A and travel home from my first solo adventure! I've white water rafted in Durango, helicoptered over the Grand Canyon, parasailed on Daytona Beach, been speed boating in Miami and celebrated Independence Day in New York! I've had the time of my life with the most amazing people making 52 new friends as well as hundreds of new memories that will last a lifetime! Honestly the best thing I've ever done and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. Now it's time for me to fly home from NYC in my contiki top and cowboy boots in true tourist style! Til next time America… Mum I'm coming homeeee 🇺🇸🎉💖 #noregrets @contiki @statravel_uk @travelstarwarsjoe

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on


Jumping in my last big yellow taxi 🇺🇸🚕 #newyork

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on

Ready, set, USA here I come!

Ahhh my last day at home before my big American adventure tomorrow!! ✈️🇺🇸@contiki #noregrets

A post shared by Jess Buck|JourneyswithJessica (@jessica16_x) on


Guys, I can’t believe I’m saying this but this time tomorrow I’ll be boarding my plane to Los Angeles ready to start my big American adventure!!!! OHMYFREAKINGLORD!!! Time has literally flown by since I booked my trip with STA Travel back in January (shout out to Joe for being so amazing) and I cannot believe the big day is almost upon me…

For those of you who don’t know, back in March I announced that I’d quit my office job in order to travel the world, grow my blog and try to make a career in the travel industry. First on my wanderlust list is an epic road trip with Contiki Holidays across America, from LA to NYC, taking in the bright lights of Las Vegas, Miami and Washington along the way. Back then it all seemed like a fantasy, just a distant dream, but now it is actually happening and it’s just starting to feel a tiny bit real!


I’m not sure what I’m more excited about; the prospect of taking a helicopter ride across the Grand Canyon, or doing a swamp boat tour down in New Orleans! What I do know though is that I’m going to have the adventure of a lifetime and make so many memories. What’s more is that I’m doing it ALL BY MYSELF with no one to hold me back or bring me down and I am so excited to stand on my own two feet, experience a totally different life and just enjoy my month long adventure with my fellow Contiki travel mates.

Now that I’m all packed, my dollars have arrived and I’ve checked into my flights online I can finally start to countdown to my American adventure and look forward to my epic trip ahead!


For those of you that are wanting to come along for the ride please follow me on social media as I won’t have the time to write actual blog posts until I return to the UK in July. I’ll be posting as many photos as I can though as and when I have WiFi access so that I can keep in touch with my friends and family back home. As always, you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as my new Snapchat account @jessica16_x

So I guess this is it… see you on the other side!

Love Jess x