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One Week in California: The Ultimate Multi-Centre Holiday

 

We all know that the USA is mind-blowingly huge, with plenty of incredible states, cities and towns just waiting to be discovered. It’s impossible to see it all in one go, but it is possible to choose one state and focus your time on that by booking a multi-centre holiday instead. Without doubt, one of the most popular US states to visit is California; with it’s glorious beaches, vibrant cities and bucket-list tourist attractions. Whether you’re looking to tick off the original Disneyland, make your way to Hollywood or take a ride over to Alcatraz, California offers something for everyone. With this in mind, I’ve joined forces with the wonderful team over at TravelPlanners to show how multi-centre holidays are a great way to travel, and I’ve included three of my dream destinations. Here’s how you can create your own itinerary and have the trip of a lifetime over in sunny California too…

 

San Diego – 2 nights

 

Fly to San Diego airport, hire a car and let your Californian road trip begin. In this super cool city, that’s thriving with nightlife and an abundance of things to see and do, there are attractions which will appeal to all ages. San Diego is located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and boasts numerous beaches as well as its famous natural deep-water harbour. For those looking for an active start to their multi-centre holiday, why not check out one of the many green parks that are dotted across the city? The Sunset Cliffs nature reserve is worth a visit, with glorious walks, stunning coastal views and fantastic beaches to enjoy, but Balboa Park is arguably the most popular, with beautiful buildings, neatly manicured lawns and spectacular fountains. Spend your first night in San Diego checking out the bars and restaurants in the Downtown or Pacific Beach areas as you immerse yourself in ‘Navy Town USA’.

 

 

 

 

If you’re into your history, a trip to the USS Midway Museum on day 2 is an absolute must see. Enabling visitors to follow in the footsteps of former soldiers, this interactive museum offers an eye-opening insight into what life was like on board 20th century America’s longest serving US Navy carrier. Spend the afternoon chilling out at La Jolla, meaning ‘The Jewel’ in Spanish, and discover why this place is such a gem. Perched on rocky cliffs overlooking the ocean, La Jolla is the perfect place to swim, surf and kayak in the sea or just relax on the golden sandy beach. Other attractions include San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, Legoland California and Coronado Island, a small peninsula between San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean that boasts its own beach, hotel and a funky Downtown district.

 

Los Angeles – 2 nights

 

Check out of your hotel and get straight on the road, heading 120 miles north towards the city of stars, Los Angeles. Most people choose to do this three hour drive all in one go, or with a couple of comfort stops, but if you do want to break it up and see some more of California, I’d recommend stopping at Anaheim for 4 or 5 hours. Home to the original Disneyland, this magical theme park should be on everyone’s bucket lists, especially because no visit to the States is complete without a trip to Disney, right?! Depending on how early/late you get to LA, spend your first afternoon/evening doing the famous Hollywood sign and visiting the iconic Walk of Fame, looking out for the stars of your fave A-listers along the way. Afterwards, why not wander down Rodeo Drive for the ultimate shopping experience, or spot Beverly Hills from afar? You’ll feel just like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.

 

 

LA is incredibly busy, and with so much going on at all times of day, it can be a little overwhelming. If you’re looking to recharge your batteries after a busy day of sightseeing, why not head to one of the city’s many beaches? Santa Monica pier is packed with carnival rides, food stalls and has glorious mountain views. Continuing on from Santa Monica Beach, Venice Beach is fast becoming the hottest place in LA, with insta-models working out at Muscle Beach, volleyball or basketball nets up for activity lovers, and a fantastic boardwalk that enables you to walk the entire stretch of sand whilst soaking up the Californian vibes. If you’re a foodie, Downtown LA is a great place to go for an evening meal; there’s plenty of restaurants offering all types of cuisines, with Chinatown and Little Tokyo particularly popular with locals and tourists alike.

 

San Francisco – 3 nights

 

After a busy few days, and a huge 420 mile drive, you’ve certainly saved the best til last with super cool San Fran! Before you get there it’s definitely worth breaking up the journey with stops at the likes of Malibu, Santa Barbara and Big Sur (maybe a few hours in each/an overnight stop to do them all!) Once you’ve arrived in SF, three nights here is a good amount of time to see pretty much everything on offer, but you could easily spend longer exploring California’s 4th largest city. On your first day you’ll want to see some of the sights, so head over to the Golden Gate Bridge to take in one of the most photographed landmarks in the entire world. Next up is Fisheman’s Wharf, with Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square to the East and West of the Wharf respectively. Both areas boast trendy shopping and eating areas, as well as rides, aquariums and San Fran’s iconic sea lions. Head to the Richmond neighbourhood or the Marina for the best restaurants/bars to soak up the lively nightlife that this city has to offer.

 

 

Spend your second day hopping on a ferry over to one of America’s most notorious islands; Alcatraz. A former federal prison, Alcatraz is located on a rocky island in the middle of San Francisco Bay, and is one of the city’s most visited attractions. Self-guided or audio tours are essential to getting the most out of your visit, and don’t miss the hospital area too for an insight into the medical care during the prison’s working days. On your third and final day why not head to Union Square to shop and people watch, and if you’re there during the Christmas holidays you can go ice-skating too! For something different, I’d recommend catching a ferry from Pier 41 and heading to Angel Island, famed for its history as a civil war fort and, more recently, its Immigration Station Museum. For a once in a lifetime experience you’ll want to go hiking right to the top of Angel Island, where breath-taking views over San Francisco Bay below will be waiting for you with open arms.

 

As you can see, I’ve based this itinerary on a one week road trip, but you could adapt this to 10 days or 2 weeks to spend more time in each destination, and to include more cities along the way too! Despite starting my own American adventure in Los Angeles three years ago, I never got to explore the area or see anything of California at all, so these three cities are at the top of my US bucket list and California is certainly a state I want to explore properly one day! Have you considered taking multi-centre holidays before? I think they are a fantastic way of seeing so many cities in such a short time and I’d recommend this style of travel to anyone looking to make the most of their epic US road trip!

NB.  This post was brought to you in collaboration with TravelPlanners but, as always, all words are of course my own.

 

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!

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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

*SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!* I'M TAKING THE PLUNGE!

Hi everyone,

So earlier on this week I announced something pretty special on my personal Facebook page and thought the time was right to share it with the rest of the world, and all of you lovely readers of course! Back in January I made a crazy, crazy decision… here’s what happened…

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I know what you’re all thinking.. typical new year, new me status blah blah blah.. to be fair I don’t blame you for thinking that! Just after Christmas I realized that 2016 HAD to be the year for things to change for me. I’d been moaning for ages that I needed to do something travel related for work and I needed to explore some more places in order to cure some of the crippling wanderlust that had been trapped inside of me!

 

After deliberating for a couple of weeks I decided to pop into my local STA Travel Store in Oxford to see what long-haul adventures they could tempt me with. I’ve always wanted to visit the States so I was keen to take a look at their American tours. Within just a few minutes I had found my dream adventure: a 27 day mega road trip from LA to  NYC with Contiki Tours – OH.MY.GODDDDDD!

Taking in sights including the Grand Canyon, the Vegas strip, Panama Beach and Universal Studios the tour offers the trip of a lifetime with first class accommodation and incredible options including paragliding, helicopter rides and  theme park entry. I couldn’t contain my excitement as I considered all the different places I could potentially visit in just a few weeks and my heart started beating faster and faster at the thought of just entertaining the idea!

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Then I did something crazy… I BOOKED MYSELF ON THE TRIP!!! AHHHH!!

So I’m doing it! My first ever solo adventure across 27 states (okay, I’ll join tonnes of others on my trip when I arrive in LA- but I’m flying on my OWN and that’s a big thing for me!) and I’m sooooo freakin’ excited!!! I’ll see so many amazing places that I’ve ALWAYS wanted to visit and cannot wait to make new friends, memories and have the time of my life.

Oh and the other part? I’ve only gone and QUIT my office job in the hope of being able to work in the travel industry when I return from my trip in July! I was undecided whether I should just take a sabbatical from my current job and continue working and earning money when I come back, or whether I should take the plunge and just quit altogether. Then I remembered that, if I don’t leave now, I probably never will, so I just thought, what the hell, and quit anyway!

 

Handing in my notice at work was nerve wracking but my bosses were so good and they fully supported my decision. I think they’d realized that I’ll be 100 times happier travelling the world instead of being stuck at my desk for 5 days a week! Although I’ll be forever grateful for my first ever grown up job they knew it’s not something that I wanted to stay in forever and, right now, I feel the time is completely right to change everything up. My friends and family have been amazing too and they’re all so excited for me!

So that’s it – I’ve finally found the courage to change my life and now I can just look forward to the incredible adventure that I’m going to have this summer! Some people have already started asking me what I’m going to do when I get back and, in all honesty, the answer is.. I HAVE NO IDEA! It’s kinda scary but super exciting at the same time. This is the first time in my life where I have no plans or a routine and I’m looking forward to being spontaneous and just enjoying life, as well as trying to figure out exactly what it is that I want from this beautiful world.

 

I don’t have a boyfriend, kids or a house to worry about and bills to pay, so why  not just be selfish for a few months and look out for number 1?! I’m sure it won’t do me any harm and I’m 99.9% sure it’ll help me figure out exactly what I want to do career wise too. I’m not looking for a new job anytime soon, I’ll probably do some temp work when I come home just to earn some cash and will look for travel related internships ANYWHERE just to get some experience!

I’m super duper excited for my new life though and, as always, I’ll be sharing it all with you every step of the way! Thank you (again) for continuing to follow my travels, your support is incredible and I’ll be forever grateful- I bloody love being a travel blogger and never want this to end!

Have you ever done something crazy and traveled on a whim? I’d love to hear your stories…I wonder if they’re as crazy as mine?!

Love Jess x

 

New Years Resolutions! 25:25

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Hi everyone,

So I’m a bit late to the party with this but I’ve been thinking an awful lot lately about what I want from 2016, and my travel plans are well and truly underway which fills me with lots of excitement!! I recently had a meeting with a fantastic consultant at STA Travel who really helped me understand what it is I want from my upcoming career break/gap year/I-need-to-escape year! And so, I’ve set myself an almighty challenge…

*NEWSFLASH!* I’ve decided that I want to have visited 25 countries before my 25th birthday… big statement I know! That’s where the 25:25 plan comes in and now, at the turn of the year, seems like the perfect opportunity to put things into practice! I’ve always said that 2016 was going to be my year and I’m determined to make it more amazing than ever!

To more experienced travellers I guess this doesn’t really seem like a massive deal, I bet you’ve all travelled across plenty of countries, and continents, exploring hundreds of cities and ticking off numerous famous landmarks! To me, however, this personal goal is huge and is somewhat of a life changing moment in my short 22 years on this beautiful planet! I’ve worked since the age of 16, been in full time employment since the age of 18, and never really had the chance to fully explore and take exotic vacations like other travellers.

At school and growing up we went on family holidays to Cornwall and different places around the UK and, if we were lucky, we also got the chance to enjoy package holidays to the nearby Spanish islands! My childhood has been amazing and I wouldn’t change a thing, but I feel like now is the time to start altering certain aspects of my life- and travel plays a HUGE part in that!

 

Now is the time for change though, and I’m fully embracing it! I’ve decided to focus on Europe; I’d like to inter-rail across the continent and trek across 10 countries in the hope that I can see as many cities as possible. If you’re an avid reader of this blog you’ll know by now that European city breaks are my FAVOURITE type of vacation! I’m looking at hitting France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Austria to name but a few. I’m also hoping to end up in Sweden to attend the fantastic TBEX conference in Stockholm with lots of fellow bloggers! But my plans are always changing, so we’ll see about that…

At the other end of the spectrum I’m also hoping to take on a road trip across the East Coast of the USA… I’ve never been to America before and there’s so much to see and do that I’m just dying to explore!

I will of course keep you updated with my travel plans once everything is firmed up… where’s the most exciting place you’re travelling to in 2016? I’d love to hear your itineraries!

Love Jess x

PS. Don’t forget to VOTE for me in the UK Blog Awards 2016 under the TRAVEL section! You can keep voting until 25th Jan yay!

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