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! 🎉👙

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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

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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 😴😴

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

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19 replies
    • JourneyswithJessica
      JourneyswithJessica says:

      Hi Hayley, I did! We drove through both North Carolina and South Carolina! We literally had just a short stop in each, but I loved visiting Charleston it was one of my favourite places, and we stayed overnight in Raleigh! 🙂

        • JourneyswithJessica
          JourneyswithJessica says:

          Ah amazing, I wish I had more time in Charleston, I wanted to explore properly and spot one of the porpoises in the harbour! I’d love to return one day, you’re so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of America Hayley, hope you’re well! 🙂

  1. Jen
    Jen says:

    Jess I have just sat and read this with tears in my eyes, you are an amazing girl and me and your dad are so proud of everything you have achieved. I don’t recognise my little girl anymore, you have become a fearless, independent strong young woman and the world really is your oyster. Grab it with both hands and seize the moment.
    This is a fantastic article so keep doing what you’re doing and one day someone with see your worth, and you will have your dream job. Love you jessi xxxxx

  2. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    Hi Jess, so glad to hear you had such a great time in your Contiki adventure! I’ve just booked my first Contiki tour around Italy next year and I was a little nervous about going it alone but now I am ridiculously excited! 😀
    Kelly x

    • JourneyswithJessica
      JourneyswithJessica says:

      Hi Kelly, thanks for your lovely comment! Ahh so excited for you – I’ve just got back from exploring Italy myself, if you look at the home page on my site there’s some recent posts on Venice, Florence and Rome! I was nervous too before I started my tour, but honestly Contiki is the BEST way to meet new people, make lifelong friends and travel in such a unique way – you’ll see all the tourist attractions as well as experiencing things that are a little less well known, I’m so excited for you! If you need any more Contiki tips I have loads of advice like what to expect, what to pack etc so just look under the America section on the blog 🙂 Let me know if you have any q’s and hope you have the most amazing time!! Jess x

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