Walking in Memphis – 48 Hours in the Birthplace of Rock'n'Roll

Walkin in #Memphis 🇺🇸🎉

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Hi everyone,

It’s been a while since I last posted any US content, so I thought I’d take you back to Summer 2016 and share a little insight into my short time spent down in Memphis, Tennessee. I was only there for a couple of nights whilst on my Contiki Grand Southern tour but I fitted such a lot into my short time there and I LOVED every second! For anyone looking to spend time in Memphis in 2017, this post is for you! Here’s how to spend 48 hours in this rock’n’roll city…

Pay tribute to Elvis at Graceland


#Graceland 🇺🇸🎉🎤

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As someone who has LOVED Elvis ever since I was a little girl I was beyond excited to visit Graceland and was wandering round in awe of all the fantastic things I saw there. Elvis’ music is one of a kind, it is special, just like he was, and visiting his home was a special experience for me too, it almost didn’t seem real at times. Graceland is laid out over 13 acres of land, and you get a lot of time to wander around at your own pace and see everything that you wish to. Your personal ipad and audio guide is handed to you upon arrival and will take you through each room of Elvis’ home, including the grounds as well. I actually had no idea that Elvis himself was buried in the gardens at Graceland, so seeing his grave right in front of me was incredibly moving. My time at Graceland was amazing and something I definitely won’t forget in a hurry – if you’re an Elvis fan you wont want to visit Memphis without stopping here!

Visit the world-famous Sun Studios



Stepping into one of the most famous recording studios in the world was a special experience for me, and definitely something to tick off the bucket list! The likes of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded some of their most famous songs in the small surroundings of Sun Studios and it was SURREAL to be holding the same mic and standing in the same spot as all those legends. If you’re a blues fan or a rock’n’roller you will absolutely adore your time at Sun Studios – it’s a must see for music lovers!

Party on Beale Street



Voted as America’s most iconic street (according to USA Today) Beale Street is perhaps one of the biggest party streets in the US, and one of the most famous too! Here you’ll find everything from jazz bars and soul clubs to honky tonks and restaurants. Beale Street is busy during the day but it comes alive at night, with plenty of places to eat, drink and have a good time! The road is filled with music from every corner and there are street performers, bright lights and live entertainment to keep you mesmerised. I loved my time on Beale Street – listening to live jazz music was amazing and there was just such a buzz about the place. If you like a good night out on the town and you enjoy authentic live music then you’re in for a treat!

See the spot where Martin Luther King was assassinated


The assassination site of #MartinLutherKing – may he rest in peace 🇺🇸 #Memphis #Tennessee #america #USA #history

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April 4th 1968 – one of the most famous dates in American history, and one that will certainly never be forgotten. Martin Luther King, the leader of the Civil Rights Movement, was fatally shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis and was killed by a single bullet. Seeing the very spot where MLK was assassinated, and learning about the true history of what really happened that day, was incredibly moving. Nowadays, the National Civil Rights Museum has been built around the site of the Lorraine Motel, tracing the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the US, from the 17th century to the present.

Explore one of the many museums


#PinkPalaceMuseum & #Mansion #Memphis #sun #sky #beautiful #architecture #building #pink #photography #museum

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Memphis is home to so many fantastic museums and you’d be mad NOT to visit at least one of them during your time in the city. As well as Sun Studios and Graceland, which are wonderful museums in themselves, I’d highly recommend the National Civil Rights Museum and the Rock n Soul Museum, both of which are two of the city’s most visited attractions. If, like me, you’re only in Memphis for 48hrs though, I’d suggest spending time visiting one or two but not trying to visit all of them as you simply won’t have the time! Memphis is full of history and culture and there is so much to learn, but you might need a few more days to be able to explore everything properly!

Cross the Mississippi River


Crossing the #Missisippi river over into #memphis 🇺🇸🎉 #grandsouthern #contiki #noregrets @contiki @statravel_uk #america #USA

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As I was on a Contiki tour, we arrived in Memphis by road, passing the Texarkana state-line border before crossing the Mississippi River. Arriving by road meant we could see a lot of the city before we even stepped off the coach; we passed famous avenues such as Beale Street and BB King Boulevard, as well as driving past landmarks such as the Autozone Park, Sun Studios and the National Civil Rights Museum. Crossing the Mississippi River though was, for me, a true bucket list item in itself and was a great way to kick-start my time in Memphis.

Catch a Memphis Redbirds baseball game


Baseball baseball ⚾️⚾️ #Memphis

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If you’ve never been to a US baseball game before, you NEED to add it to your bucket-list! The Autozone Park is one of the best places to catch a game, and the Memphis Redbirds are a well known team with a huge following. I was lucky enough to watch a Redbirds game from the hospitality box, with unlimited food and drink included as part of our ticket – winning! At the end of the game we watched the fireworks show set to music which was a spectacle in itself and was a brilliant way to finish the evening. I saw another baseball game in Washington at the end of my trip,  but the atmosphere wasn’t as good as at the Autozone and I didn’t get a red baseball hat to keep either!


So there we have it, my top tips on exploring Memphis in a whirlwind 48 hours! Immerse yourself in the rock’n’roll vibe of the city, visit the top music sites, hit up the museums and cross the Mississippi River in style. Hopefully this post inspires you for your trip to the city and helps with that all important planning!

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

Love Jess x



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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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🏙🌊 #Miami #Florida #takemeback #wanderlustwednesday

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24 Hours in New York City – Competition for Accor Hotels!

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

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That skyline tho 😍🇺🇸🏙 #newyork #america #USA #contiki #grandsouthern #noregrets @contiki @statravel_uk

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Hey y’all!

On my recent American Adventure I was lucky enough to be able to explore New York City, on the very special day of 4th July, somewhere and something that had been on my bucket list for YEARS! I literally only had one full day to explore before I hopped back on a plane to London, so I had to make the most of my short time in the City that Never Sleeps! When I heard that Accor Hotels were running a fab 24 Hours In… competition (you could win a 9night European city break to Amsterdam, Paris & Berlin- eeek!) I knew that I just HAD to write about my whirlwind visit to The Big Apple. One day is definitely not enough to see everything, but here are my highlights and suggestions on how to spend 24 hours in New York…

Getting Around



I knew I was on limited time during my short stay in NYC, so in true tourist style I decided to hop on a sightseeing bus to get around, and tick off as many landmarks as possible! A hop on bus is a really easy way of getting your bearings and exploring as much of the city as you want to, without the need to get off. I stayed on board for two of the routes and saw everything from Brooklyn Bridge to the Empire State Building without having to walk for miles! I’d highly recommend using a tourist bus to explore the area if you’re limited on time, otherwise you can flag down one of those big yellow taxis, or  use the metro to get around the city, which can be a cheaper (but not as fun!) alternative.

Where to Eat and Drink


These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you 🇺🇸🏙 #Newyork #NYC #bigapple #timessquare #tbt

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New York is one of those cities where there are more food and drink places than anything else! The city is brimming with trendy bars, cafes and restaurants offering every kind of food you can think of. There’s pizza places, Chinese takeaways, Mexican kitchens, Sushi restaurants, fast food outlets, you name it, everywhere in New York has it, from Lower Manhattan all the way through to Brooklyn! As I was staying close to Times Square, I found this a really convenient area to base myself, and there were plenty of dining options to choose from. NYC is famed for its iconic food, including bagels, hot dogs, doughnuts, cupcakes and, of course, its classic New York Cheesecake. When in the big apple though, a good slice of hearty American pizza (thin base, lots of mozzarella cheese and lashings of marinara sauce), is an absolute MUST!


What to See



The Big Apple is brimming with landmarks, tourist attractions and thousands of things to see and do. One of the most popular activities is catching a Broadway show; from Disney showstoppers Aladdin and The Lion King, to classic musicals such as Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon. With shows running every day of the week, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to catch a performance during your short time in the city. Book online to secure your seat and avoid disappointment on missing out, as shows get booked up well in advance and are extremely popular, particularly on weekends.



So I know you only have 24 hours in the city, but even if you don’t have time to go inside you must at least pass by the iconic American Museum of Natural History to take a photo!  One of the most famous buildings in the whole city, the museum attracts on average around 4 million visitors each year, and is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike.

There are hundreds of things to see and do in NYC, but if you only have 24 hours, here’s my top picks of the best of the rest:

Statue of Liberty | Brooklyn Bridge | One World Trade Centre & Ground Zero |

Central Park | Times Square | Madison Square Gardens | Hudson River


Where to Shop


Last day on tour 🇺🇸🎉 #NYC #timessquare #america #USA @contiki @statravel_uk #contiki #noregrets

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NYC is well known for its savvy shopping;  from giant department stores to high street shops and designer outlets, its a haven for every type of shopper. I started at Times Square and made my way down the many side streets, and the central plaza, the focal point of the square. You might only have 24hrs to spare, but if you have time, make sure you pick up an I Love NYC tank top, or pop in to Macy’s for a designer steal!

What Not to Miss


When you remember that this time yesterday you were in #newyork 🇺🇸🇺🇸 #America #USA #NYC #reflections

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So I am a TOTAL sucker for skyscrapers; I just love looking up and gazing in awe at the sheer enormity of them, and I was in love with New York before I even arrived after rolling past the iconic Manhattan skyline upon arrival. For me, NYC has it all. The Empire State Building, the Rockefeller, the Freedom Tower at the World Trade Centre; each are iconic, special and mesmerising in their own way, and encapsulate everything New York is about. During your whirlwind 24 hours I’d suggest trying to see as many skyscrapers as you can, and, if you have time, climbing up them is always fun too!


Empire State Building 🇺🇸🇺🇸 @contiki @statravel_uk #contiki #noregrets #america #USA #newyork #NYC #grandsouthern

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Hidden Gem


Experience the colors of the city—discover the sunset from #TopoftheRock. 📷: @jordbread

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There are hundred of hidden gems in New York just waiting to be discovered, but I’ve been told that this one trumps them all (ahem)… I guess most visitors would climb the most iconic building in the city for those spectacular panoramic views, The Empire State Building, but I’ve heard there’s somewhere else that offers an even better view… Why not head over to The Rockefeller Centre, where you can see the whole of New York AND the Empire State Building too?! The view is arguably better from the Top of The Rock, and it’s not hard to see why.

So there we have it, my top tips on exploring NYC in a whirlwind 24hours, and on Independence Day too! Immerse yourself in the buzz of the city, visit the tourist sites and get around like a local on the metro for the full New York experience. Hopefully this post inspires you for your trip to the city and helps with that all important planning!

Have you ever been to New York? Tell me what you thought of it, I’d love to hear your comments and I already cannot waittttt to go back as soon as I can! Oh and if you’re also entering Accor’s fab competition then GOOD LUCK!

Love Jess x

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

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Discover Dallas in a Day

#Dallas 🇺🇸🎉

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Hey Y’all!

Sorry, American accent again, but this is a Texan themed blog post so I figured it would be ok to speak accordingly! On my Contiki adventure this summer I was lucky enough to explore different areas of Texas, including Amarillo and Fortworth, but my favourite by far was beautiful Dallas. I only spent a day there but it was enough to make me fall in love with it! If you’ve only got a short time in Dallas this guide will help you make the most of your visit…

Get your Cowboy boots on

#Dallas… The only time I've ever been BIG! 🙋 #tbt #grandsouthern #noregrets #throwbackthursday

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When in Dallas you MUST get yourself a pair of cowboy boots and fit in with the local Texan crowds! There are tonnes of shops selling all sorts of leather goods, from belts to bags to jackets, but getting your cowboy boots on will help to embrace your inner Texan spirit and will let you make the most of your short time in Dallas. I got mine from Wild Bills Western Store in the downtown area of the city and got a real bargain – $50 for a pair of size 3 kids boots! Ok, so most of you normal people won’t be able to get quite a good a deal as that (I bet you don’t have freakishly small feet like me) but the store sells boots for fair prices and I guarantee that you’ll find the style you’re looking for at Bills!


See the exact spot where JFK was assassinated


This was really moving and one of the main reasons I wanted to visit Dallas. Starting at The Sixth Floor Museum, I learnt about the history of JFK, how he first rose to power as US President and then how he met his demise when he was assassinated on 22nd November 1963. The museum is so informative and really gives you an insight into the life of one of the world’s most famous men. After the museum tour is over, ride up to the sixth floor and look out of the window to see where JFK was assassinated. You’ll be able to locate the exact place where he was fatally killed, an X marks the spot, and you’ll feel as if you’ve taken a step back in time to that fateful November day.


Visit the AT&T Stadium

Located in Arlington, just outside of the city centre, The AT & T Stadium is home to one of the most famous football teams in the world, The Dallas Cowboys. The 80,000 seat stadium is also used as a concert arena and hosts other major sporting events throughout the year. Upon our stadium tour we were taken around the conference boxes, stands and private dressing rooms and even played a bit of football out on the field itself. If you’re not a sporting fan this tour might not appeal to you, but don’t do what I did and expect the Dallas Cowboys to be a rodeo show, instead of a football team – I can guarantee you’ll feel disappointed! (duuhhh Jess!)

Check out the museums

I miss you #Dallas 🇺🇸🇺🇸 @contiki @statravel #grandsouthern #contiki #USA #america #traveltuesday #texas

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There are no shortage of museums in Dallas, from the African American museum to the Art museum and the museum of Nature and Science, there’s something for everyone. Many of the museums are free and are open to the public all year round, but it’s advised to book your tickets online or arrive early to avoid queuing. You’ll also find exhibits and other points of interest scattered around the city, such as the Dallas County Courthouse and the JFK memorial square.


Explore the zoo and aquarium


As if there wasn’t enough to see and do already, Dallas also boasts a huge zoo and large aquarium, both of which are two of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Situated in the downtown area of the city, Dallas Zoo is set on over 100 acres of land and is home to over 8000 animals, whilst Dallas World Aquarium looks after thousands of different species of fish as well as sharks, mammals, birds and reptiles. Both the zoo and the aquarium are the largest in Texas and offer a fun day out for all the family!


Climb the Reunion Tower

Ummm how beautiful is this sky, y'all?! I'm obsessed with Texas sunsets! -The Ball 📷: @hellabrassica

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One of the biggest tourist attractions is the iconic Reunion Tower, allowing visitors to experience Dallas in all its glory from 560ft up in the air with 360 degree panoramic views across the city. The tower is home to a restaurant, café, observation deck and gift shop and is popular with tourists from all across the globe. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to visit the tower during my short time in Dallas, but its on my to-do list for my return visit!

So there we have it, your ultimate guide to discovering Dallas in a day! Have you ever been to Dallas before? Is there any where you think I’ve missed that should be on this guide? I’d love to hear your feedback!

Love Jess x




The ULTIMATE Contiki Q&A session! (Grand Southern Adventure)


Hey everyone,

So last week on social media I asked you to put your Contiki Grand Southern questions across to me and I promised to answer each and every one of them! I’ve been receiving tonnes of messages lately from people who have booked trips in the next 12 months asking what to pack, how much to budget for and other general queries so I thought it would be fun to do a Q & A session! This post is tailored to the Grand Southern Adventure I have just come back from (and many of you are booking the same trip by the sounds of it!) but some of the answers will be useful if you are planning a Contiki trip anywhere in the world.

I have to say I wasn’t expecting this amount of interaction and my inboxes have been absolutely FLOODED with messages from people on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook with loads of fab questions. So here are all my answers for you – if you’re thinking of going on a Contiki trip, or if you already have one booked, I hope this will help a little to ease your first time travel nerves or will help with your packing woes! Lets get this show on the road….

Question: How strict are Contiki on their luggage limits, and would you recommend a suitcase or a backpack?

Answer: According to the paperwork in the Contiki Welcome Pack, the standard luggage allowance per person is 1x 20kg bag in hold (under the bus) and 1x small day bag on board. The official Contiki size guide is 1x suitcase or bag measuring a max of 73cm x 50cm x 25cm although some of the people on our tour did have bigger cases! I guess it depends on your driver and how lenient they are, but this is the recommended size for all luggage. Oh and I would 1000% recommend a suitcase over a backpack ANYDAY of the week! Suitcases are sooo much more convenient in terms of wheeling them to and from the bus each day, and to and from each hotel!

One more sleep!!!!! 🇺🇸✈️🇺🇸✈️ @contiki #noregrets #USA

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Question: How often do you get chance to do laundry?

Answer: The choice of hotels on the Grand Southern is so good, most of them have free WIFI and laundry facilities and they’re all in great locations. Not every hotel had laundry, but I’d say about every 4th one did, so there was a chance to do some washing at least once a week. I pitched in with some of my tour mates and did washing together so we got usage out of the washing powder and saved some of our pennies!

Question: Did you need to buy a separate US sim card for your phone, or did you just use WIFI?

Answer: The States is notoriously expensive for non US residents so, naturally, I was a little worried about using my phone over there! Contiki actually provide you with a USA and Canada sim card which is pre activated and ready to use on your trip. You’ll get this in your little Welcome Pack which is posted out to you before you fly – cute! Most people bought sim cards from the nearest Walmart though and used these as I think it gave you a bit more value for money. I was fortunate enough to switch phone providers just before I flew out, so Three Network allowed me to use my phone in the same way I would if I was at home, and I was texting and phoning home normally without having to pay any extra – AMAZING!! If however you can’t take advantage of this, or you’re not keen on getting a sim card, then I’d just stick to the WIFI, there’s plenty of it in the restaurants, hotels, shops and bars at each of the Grand Southern destinations so you should be fine!

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

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Question: Is there anything you brought that you thought you’d need but didn’t end up using?

Answer: This is a GREAT question – I wish I’d asked someone this before I went on my trip! I took quite a few clothes that I thought I’d use but didn’t; I wore tops and shorts over and over again just cos it was easy and I was too lazy to root through my suitcase. I brought magazines in case I had some downtime and was bored – I didn’t read them, they were chucked out in Miami as they were weighing down my day bag (sorry OK mag). I also brought about 20 pairs of socks which I didn’t use AT ALL! I guess it depends what type of shoes you wear, but I was in flip flops and pumps most days so didn’t need them.

Question: Did you have the same roommate the whole tour?

Answer: Yes I did have the same roomie the whole tour, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way! My roomie Poppy was so amazing, she was like me in the sense that she likes to party but doesn’t want to roll home with a random stranger at 5 o clock in the morning! We got on really well the entire trip and I was so lucky to have her as my roomie – miss you Pop!! <3 Some people did switch roomies midway through the Grand Southern, as those who left/joined in New Orleans affected the pairings. If you’re reeaaally unhappy with your roomie you could always ask your Tour Manager if you can switch with someone, it messes up the hotel names but other than that it doesn’t really matter.

I miss my #Contiki roomie too much 😭😭 @poppy_sparrow #noregrets #roomies #girls #love 💖💖

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Question: How strict are Contiki with their age policy and can someone over 35 travel if they are with someone under 35?

Answer: I actually contacted Contiki for the answer to this as I wanted to get it 100% correct! Here’s their official statement: “We are proud to be the best in class and like to uphold our promises to our travelers, one being our 18-35 year policy. We would not be able to accommodate anyone over 35 travelling with us.” I think that’s pretty clear!

Question: Did you bring a beach towel with you and did you need to use it?

Answer: Yes, I brought one with me. No, I didn’t use it! I did want to use it on the beaches we stopped at in Florida, but we were able to take the hotel ones which I guess made it easier as I didn’t have to wash my towel before we left etc. If I were doing another trip I wouldn’t bring a beach towel with me. Don’t forget your swim stuff though, there’s plenty of opportunities for pool parties whilst on Contiki!

Pool party 👙💦 #Dallas

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Question: How many outfits did you bring?

Answer: TOO MANY is the answer to that! I’m a typical over packer anyway, I once went to Spain for a week and took 8 bikinis :O What can I say, I like to have a bit of choice!! You really don’t need to take too many clothes though, especially as you can do laundry every few days and you can reuse lots of things. The Grand Southern lasts for 27 days so I took 5-6 pairs of shorts, 12 tops (vests & t-shirts), a couple of skirts, a few day dresses and 2 evening dresses. Oh and don’t forget your essentials like pants etc (I literally took about 30 pairs of knickers!) and footwear, like I said before I was mainly in flip flops and pumps but you can wear whatever you’re comfy in.

Question: How many ‘going out’ clothes do you need? ie for clubbing etc

Answer: I actually only bought two going out dresses, one for Vegas and one for Miami, but I forgot that we had two nights in each (duuhh Jess) so I went and bought a few other dressy outfits at various shops and outlet centres so I could wear them to go clubbing! The big cities we stopped at on the Grand Southern are pretty laid back when it comes to night time attire, especially for the ladies, but for boys it’s a bit stricter – think shirts, trousers and shoes, not vests, shorts and sandals! The only thing I WISH I took more than anything was one pair of heels! Clubbing in Vegas & Miami without my heels on just didn’t feel right – who’s with me girls?!

Miami rooftops 🎉🇺🇸 #saturdaynight

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Question: Are there any mobile device charging points on the bus?

Answer: I think it depends which bus you get; our first one had just a handful of charging points at the rear of the bus only, but we swapped buses towards the end and there were chargers on every seat!

Question: Does the bus have free WIFI?

Answer: Yes and no, again it depends on which bus you get. Our first one did have WIFI but it was very limited, and my phone would never connect to it! The second bus had no WIFI at all. The bus is a place to chill and relax though (and sleep, like I did constantly) and it’s fun to join in with group games instead of being on the internet all the time!

Question: Do the hotels have free WIFI?

Answer: Yes, most of the ones on the Grand Southern had some sort of free WIFI, either in the rooms or downstairs in the reception area. There were often computers in the lobby to if you wanted to make use of them. I actually used one of the PC’s in our Washington hotel to write a blog post for all you lovely lot! 🙂

Question: What optional extras would you do, and what ones would you skip? (Grand Southern only)

Answer: If you can, do them ALL!! I did pretty much all of them bar a few, just because of money etc. I made sure I took enough spends with me though so I could enjoy myself and be fully immersed in the Contiki spirit! Must do’s (in my opinion) are the Cirque Du Soleil in Vegas, the Grand Canyon helicopter, white water rafting in Durango, speed-boating in Miami, baseball games in Memphis & Washington, swamp boating in New Orleans, Universal/Disney in Orlando & parasailing on Daytona Beach. I also saw the hot air ballooning in Albuquerque was pretty special, although I didn’t take part in this. Make sure you take part in the group surprise and the group photos too, such lovely memories of your time together! If I was to skip any I’d say the Dallas Cowboy stadium tour is the least exciting – especially as I thought I was going to see a Dallas RODEO show instead of some football stadium! #oops – but yeah, if you’re into American sports then it’s cool but otherwise it’s a bit boring.


Question: Do I need a US VISA for a Contiki trip?

Answer: Yes, you will need a US VISA for the Grand Southern, or any other US & Canada trip if you are not a US resident. I think this costs around £25 and your travel agent can sort this for you, or you can do it yourself online.

Question: How many nights pre/post tour would you recommend to stay?

Answer: I would definitely stay for at least 3 nights pre trip and 3 nights post trip, if you can afford it! I literally landed in LA the night before the tour started so unfortunately didn’t have chance to see ANYTHING of La La Land which I was pretty gutted about. If you’re an avid reader of my blog you’ll know that I paid a lot of money to change my flights and stay an extra night in New York at the end of the trip, but that’s because it was 4th July and I wanted to celebrate with my new Contiki family! If I were to go again I’d 100% stay a couple of nights extra at either end of the trip so you can make the most of your time in both LA and NYC as you don’t get any included time at these destinations on the Grand Southern.


L.A L.A L.A ✈️🇺🇸✈️🇺🇸

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Last day on tour 🇺🇸🎉 #NYC #timessquare #america #USA @contiki @statravel_uk #contiki #noregrets

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Question: Did you meet anyone from your trip online before you went? How do the Contiki MeetUps work?

Answer: Yep, I found the online MeetUps fairly easily via the Contiki website, and more and more people started to join in the run up to the trip starting. We also then made a group Facebook page and added everyone to it as it was a much easier way of keeping in touch with everyone. I found that this group really helped us to bond, I spoke to quite a few people quite a lot before the trip started so it felt as if I knew them before we even met on that first night in LA!

Question: Did you get to stop off much on long drive days?

Answer: You’re driving on average around 8 hours a day on the Grand Southern, sometimes a little longer, sometimes a little shorter, and there were plenty of opportunities to stop. We’d stop at Walmarts, or large retail parks, to do some shopping and to grab some proper lunch and stock up on snacks etc. The stops were interesting and varied, one was Monument Valley, Utah (INSANE!), one was Seligman, Arizona- an official Route 66 stop, and one was Little Rock High School, Arkansas; a museum/exhibiton about the desegregation of public schools in the US. We also made longer stops at Santa Fe (New Mexico), Charleston (South Carolina) & Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) where we had plenty of free-time to explore. The stops really help to break up the driving days and allow you to visit lots of new states before you reach your destinations.


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Question: How much do you recommend to tip your tour manager/driver?

Answer: The recommended suggestion from Contiki is $3 per day for driver and for your TM, or more if you think they’ve gone above and beyond. I tipped both John, our TM and Ray, our driver, $100 each for the full 27 days as I thought they were truly amazing and they looked after me during my time on tour. It really depends how generous you’re feeling, but they do a dam good job and I felt they really earned their tips so I was happy to pay a little extra! Miss you guys! X

Missing #NYC and my @contiki team John & Ray-Ray! 🎉 @jnavarro467 #tbt #contiki #noregrets

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So there we have it! I feel EXHAUSTED but not in a bad way, in a good way. Like a really, really good way and hopefully this may have helped those of you who are going on Contiki in the not too distant future. Dammm I wish I had seen this blog post before I did my first Contiki trip 😉 Just kidding, hindsight is a wonderful thing!

So you should now be ready to jump on to your first Contiki bus fully armed with knowledge and able to survive your trips! Please tell me where you are going as I’d love to hear all your fab itineraries (and cry myself to sleep because I won’t be joining you) – tell me your travel plans! Oh and if you think I’ve missed aaaaanything at all (I bloody hope not!) then just shout, I’m honestly here to help!

Love Jess x

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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