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The 10 Most Terrible #Fitspiration Posts

Social Media can be a great source of motivation and an excellent learning tool in the right hands. That said, it’s a free to access and is an unedited platform for anyone and everyone to use.

In recent years there’s been huge amounts of controversy surrounding ‘fitspiration’. Social media – particularly Instagram – is flooded with word-art layered over an irrelevant image purporting to give us the motivation we need to be able to get to the aesthetic we crave.

Whilst that doesn’t sound particularly damaging, the problem with ‘fitspiration’ is that in the absence of education (about fitness, nutrition and health), it can be severely misleading and lead the impressionable down a path of self-deprecation. It can also be so terrible that it’s actually humorous.

Here’s my pick of the worst #fitspiration quotes I’ve found to date:

“A year from now, I’ll be glad I started today”

A year from now I'll be glad I started today

A F**KING YEAR?! Quite frankly this is one of the least motivational quotes I’ve ever come across. Call me impatient, but if it’s going to take a whole year see any benefit from going to the gym then I’m not sure it’s going to be worth washing my hair that many times in a week.

 

Workout now so that next year everyone be like… HOLY SHIT!”

workout now so next year everyone be like holy shit

Everyone?!!! Wow. I hate to say it, but ‘everyone’ probably doesn’t really care that much whether you have one belly roll or two. Your Mum might notice if you drop a few pounds and your Nan might ask if you’re getting enough hot meals, but this hypothetical “everyone” probably doesn’t give a shit.

The people who do care and who might notice will see you in that year, so any changes will be much more subtle and less instantly impactful than if it had happened overnight. If you highlight it to people, they’ll probably be like “oh yeah. Well done.” Or “Shit I can’t believe that was you”. If however, you’re going to morph into world-renowned supermodel Adriana Lima in that year, then the “HOLY SHIT” would be quite legitimate.

“Wake up and Work out”

This little gem, besides being extremely insightful, is typically overlaid on top of an image of a semi-naked woman looking mildly greasy but who is nonetheless attempting to lift weights in a bikini with a full face of makeup and clip-in extensions, which immediately makes me question the relevance of the post.

What happens if I want to wake up, have a brew, watch some TV, eat some peanut M&Ms and then work out?!

Let’s face it, people who have to get up and go to work might have other priorities and sometimes working out has to be further down the list. If only life was a simple as ‘wake up and work our’. Jeez. If those were the only two things on my to do list I can promise you I would be fast, lean, ripped and super-bendy.

“Eat better, not less”

I’m pretty sure portion size comes into it somewhere. There’s no point consuming endless piles of fruit and vegetables, only to exceed your calorie and nutritional requirements for the day and give yourself the shits. Eating 20 apples in the place of a balanced diet is bollocks. Not only that, if you are eating too much then you actually should be eating less!

“Summer bodies are made in winter”

Summer bodies are made in winter

 

One of the worst realisations about adult life is that you actually need to keep an eye on your diet and fitness all year round, but denying yourself throughout winter won’t automatically mean you look like a supermodel once it’s warm enough to switch the heating off.

Personally I’m not prepared to give up pigs in blankets, advent calendars and hot cider over the festive period. That’s not to say I’ll abandon the gym and bury my face in the chocolate tin whilst hooked up to an IV of mulled wine either.

I’m not sure I know what a summer body is anyway.

Sweat is fat crying”

sweat is fat crying

I bet the face of ‘Sweat’ is really hurting. 

Both factually incorrect and disgusting, this quote associates exercise with punishment when a lot of the time it can be as enjoyable as the fat-torching results.

Don’t stop when it hurts, stop when you’re done”

THIS IS BAD ADVICE. Failing to recognise pain as a reason to stop exercising is how I ended up with shin splints, a pulled calf muscle and a suspected stress fracture. By all means, put some real effort in and work through the discomfort that we all know is supposed to happen during tough exercise, but if it’s hurting so much that it’s damaging your form then it’s probably not right.

I probably should have taken a break from training for half marathon No.1 when I was hobbling along dragging one leg behind me in a tube bandage. Yeah. Daft right?!

Listen to your body. If there is a pain which doesn’t stop when you do, then rest up or go and get it checked out!

“Because the next few months will go by no matter if you work out or not”

So what we’re saying here is that what I do in my life has no impact on the passage of time, and ultimately the passage of time is the progression along the timeline to death.

***Motivation Evaporating***

Whilst we cannot control time, we can optimise how we use it. This unfortunate turn of phrase purports to make us jam-pack our lives doing useful things, but whilst the statement isn’t necessarily wrong, it isn’t that motivational either.

“No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress you are still ahead of everyone who isn’t trying”

What have we to aspire to if the bar is set that low?

Let’s apply the same reasoning to my difficulties in baking a good cake. I could make the worst concoction in the world –so bad in fact that it gives everyone who eats it a headache, vomiting and diarrhoea simultaneously and that would be fine, because it’s better than not having a cake.

The possibility of being better than crap at something doesn’t motivate me to do anything I at least want to be ahead of a couple of people who are trying even if their version of trying is a bit half-hearted – that’s just human nature.

A 1 hour workout is just 4% of your day”

a 1 hour workout is 4% of your day

…except it isn’t, is it?!

Perhaps this is true if you’re unemployed or privileged enough not to require a wage. Let’s say our typical working adult starts with 24 hours. Take off 10 hours working and commuting (on a good day!). Take off another 8 hours for the recommended amount of sleep. Take of another hour for preparing and eating your evening meal. Without getting any housework done or engaging in any social or recreational activity with important people, the time available to the perpetually desk-bound is already reduced to 5 hours. Suddenly that critical hour is 20% of the day.

I agree that most people can fit exercise into their day (in fact I’ll wax lyrical about it in a future post) but it can be difficult and statements like this one undermines the commitment it takes.

 

It sounds like I’m berating everyone who posts on social media, but that isn’t the case.

There a lots of interesting and hard-working people who share snippets of their life through the lens of an iPhone and following them can be motivating, educational, inspirational and eye-opening.

The intended message here is to operate a bit of common sense.

F x

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Excuse: I Don’t Like Exercise

 

We’ve all faced times where we lack the motivation to do something which we rationally know is beneficial to us in some way. Exercise seems to be one area of our lives which we feel we can bypass with very little rational reasoning.

One of the worst excuses I’ve heard for living a super-sedentary life is ‘I would… but I don’t like exercise’.

In my opinion, this is less of an excuse and more of a lack of ability to recognise the significance of the problems associated with an unhealthy lifestyle. Essentially what you’re saying is you don’t value the outcome of exercise enough to suck it up and get on with it. 

There’s a good chance you don’t like going to work either, but you go because you need what you get in return – your pay. If there was no pay, most of us wouldn’t be doing the same jobs each day and certainly not for the extended periods that we do. We continue to do it because we need to be paid so we can afford to do the other things in life that we do enjoy.

Think of exercise and a healthy diet as the same. If you’re stuck in an unhealthy rut and you want to get out of it then you need to ‘go to work’ in order to get that benefit: the benefit of health. Health is the reward for your efforts in this area in the same way that money is the reward for your efforts in employment.

Besides that, unless you’re willing to try new things, you’ll never stumble across something active that you actually do enjoy.

Your version of exercise doesn’t need to be running, or mindlessly sitting on an exercise bike. If you’re the type of person who feels their soul being dragged from their body the moment you enter a gym (I know plenty of those people), then you need to tap into your creative side.

Screen Shot 2016-11-26 at 14.36.09.png

Yep, That’s Me. Mindless Pedalling on a Bike.

There’s loads of activities that will get your heart racing and that are fun and definitely don’t feel like ‘exercise’. Yes, including that, you saucy little thing.

Let’s consider some of the more unusual types of exercise:

Trampolining

There’s a load of trampolining centres popping up across the country where you can turn up, put on some grippy socks and leap around like a 6 year old. Not only is this exercise in disguise, it’s also a ridiculous amount of fun and if you master a forward flip, it will leave you feeling like a badass ninja. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t like that!

DISCLAIMER: Perhaps avoid this if you have a weak pelvic floor, as I imagine peeing yourself in the middle of a backflip isn’t such a good look.

Twerking in the Kitchen

There have been many occasions throughout my life where I have been under a trance, jumping around the room under the hypnotic trance of some of my favourite tunes, before stopping and realising I’m actually sweating. Sometimes I get through a whole album before I even realise what I’ve been doing. I had simply been in the zone.

Did it look good? Probably not, because I’m an accountant and not renowned for my technical dancing prowess. That said, it’s vital movement in an otherwise sedentary day and therefore I’m going to claim it as exercise!

SnowSports

I learnt to snowboard a few years ago in a real-snow indoor ski centre off the M60 in Manchester, where I’m now learning to Ski. Whilst this isn’t exactly as glamorous as Whistler (I imagine, given I haven’t been there), it gave me the basic skills.

A few years later I found myself in Geneva with a spare day along with a group of family and friends, so we got in the car and drove over to Les Gets in France where we purchased board pants, hired boots and boards and hit the slopes. I spent a lot of the first hour on my ass, or face planting into the snow. After I remembered how to board, I tried a few runs down the slopes. At one point I was so warm that I had to strip off layers and stop for a cold beverage.

The point is, boarding can be quite a strenuous activity, especially when you’re regularly picking yourself up off the floor. The best bit is that you’re concentrating so hard on where you’re heading and enjoying the adrenaline so much that you barely even realise that you’re actually ‘exercising’ for several hours consecutively!

Any Outdoor Pursuit…

Have you ever considered horse-riding? Having an allotment and planting vegetables? Going for countryside walks? Digging a tunnel to nowhere on the beach?

All of these things are physical in nature and can contribute to a healthier lifestyle. Being outside and getting fresh air helps boost my mood, especially on a sunny spring day after a week of being locked away in the office staring at spreadsheets!

I honestly believe there is something active for every person to enjoy, but it is your responsibility to identify what it is you enjoy. The best way to do this is to be open minded and willing to try anything once!

If you really, honestly, detest everything which could even be construed as exercise, then you have a very important decision to make. You need to weigh up the pros and cons of not doing exercise.

Can you afford not to do it?

Are you willing to accept the negative health consequences?

Are you likely to become dependent of medicine to regulate diseases linked to sedentary lifestyles?

If you truly despise even the idea of exercise then another option is to reduce the time it takes to an ‘acceptable amount’. You can do short, sharp exercise periods using techniques such as high intensity interval training or HIIT, where you can cram a blooming good workout into a short (enough) period such as 20 minutes. Surely you can spare 20 minutes in the name of better health?!

It’s down to you to make an assessment of whether you’re willing to make the sacrifice of your time and effort for the perceived benefits of a healthier lifestyle. Ultimately you’re your own person and the only person you’re ever truly accountable to is yourself!

YOU control whether you exercise – nobody else.

YOU control what you eat – nobody else.

YOU are the master of your own ship – take it wherever the hell you want, but please don’t moan about not being fit if you’re simply unwilling to take steps to change!

With that, it’s probably time for me to get up and move around a bit.

Over & Out.

F x

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 12.29.50

Long Time No See.

Or perhaps that should be long time no writing?! 

My loyal following might have noticed that I haven’t posted any content on here for quite some time. It’s actually been around 3 months. Why? There are a couple of reasons:

 

1) I started a new job

 

I’ve been a lot more engaged in this role than I have been in any employed role I’ve ever been in any of my previous roles, which I’m sure you’ll agree is much better than being bored. The flip side is that I’ve returned to working longer hours (a trade-off for the excitement of online retail) and have had to adapt and settle in to my new routine.

 

2) I’m travelling less

 

I don’t currently have any big trips booked and although I still have historic content I could blog about, I like to be more ‘in the now’ or ‘present’ hence I prefer blogging whilst travelling than in retrospect.

 

So What Now?

 

I have fingers in a lot of pies at the moment and I’ve therefore made the decision to open up the blog to some of my other interests and some areas which takw up a considerable amount of time. Not all of them are travel related, but when you’re a part –time traveller there’s a lot of other quite interesting things going on that I can share and learn from. Here’s some of the things I’ll be blogging about soon…

 

– Entrepreneurialism

– Self-development

– Career development

– My ‘Craft’ – what I do and how I’m trying to be the best at it!

– Way to expand your network

– Fitness and Nutrition (I’m a fitness addict and qualified sports nutritional advisor)

– The process of writing my first book – including my struggles with perfectionism

– My more-occasional travels, including a plethora of hen parties and my upcoming ski holiday

– My undying love of tea

– My quarter life crisis, including steps I took to get through it!

– Mentorship – being a mentor, having a mentor and the benefits for both people

– Clothes, fashion, design and my love of shoes and bags

It’s certainly a departure from the blog as it was before, but as my focus shifts in my life, so should the focus of the blog. Expect to see a change to the layout of the bog, some of the content and the length of the posts –I’ll post shorter snippets more frequently but not in any particular pattern!
Over-and-out!
F x

Road Trip: California’s Pacific Coast Highway

Driving the Pacific Coast Highway isn’t exactly the most ‘original’ or trips, but I question the need to be original with travel  – at least the need to be original all of the time. I trust that the many, many travellers before me had good reason to tackle that route, be it recommendation or the mere reputation of the trip as being one worth taking the time to do.

In this blog post I’ll share with you our road trip journey, what we did and why I think the crowds of tourists – in this case – are correct!

San Francisco

Having driven over from Yosemite National Park, we spent a few days in the Bay City. I blogged about this some time ago, so you can read about my stay here.

Monterey

After 4 days in San Francisco, we took the scenic drive to Monterey. There were two things I was most excited about when we decided to visit Monterey: seafood and whale watching.

Let’s first address the whale watching situation. You can book a whale watching trip which lasts around 4 hours, either for a morning session or an afternoon session. Given we were due to continue the drive south after the trip, we booked morning tour tickets with haste!

In hindsight I’m extremely thankful that we chose a morning trip because it meant there was less content for me to throw up over the back of the boat.

Yup. Sea-sickness.

seasickness

Never before had I suffered from travel sickness. My first experience of motion sickness was in fact only 10 months prior to this – and was the result of jumping out of a plane over Queenstown, so seemed reasonable.

This sea sickness was like nothing I’d experienced before. 45 minutes into a 4 hour trip, I was barely able to lift my head off the handrail at the back of the boat without inducing another wave of retching. This was highly amusing to my husband, who was remarkably unaffected by the choppy ocean swell. It was less amusing for the other slightly sea-sick passengers, who also began to spew once they had seen my green tea soy latte expelled from my mouth at speed. Despite the sickness, I did manage to see some whales, dolphins, seals and other marine life.

monterey bay

The calm of Monterey Bay

My top tip? Take a travel-sickness pill even if you don’t normally suffer from motion sickness!

Once we hopped off the boat I felt fine within a matter of seconds, at which point I then became ravenously hungry! Queue scoffing a smoked salmon sandwich before heading to a restaurant for chowder and crab! You really must sample the fresh seafood when you’re in Monterey Bay!

seafood monterey

Carmel

Carmel beach boasts one of the best sunsets in the world. Head here in the evening, park the car and gaze out over the shore line and you’ll see the sun visibly dive over the horizon in a haze of golden orange.

We took the drive down from Monterey, taking a hot drink and sitting on the white sandy beach. We were not alone, as many of the locals walk down to the beach to witness the evening ritual.

On the night we went, there was significant cloud cover, yet the sunset was still mesmerising. What’s strange is the speed at which you can see the sun setting. It’s something you really ought to see for yourself if you’re stopping in the area. Check online for the estimated sunset time, because the whole thing is over in 20 minutes so you could easily miss it if you’re not careful!

carmel beach sunset

Santa Barbara

Before I visited the US, if I had been asked to imagine a Californian Surfer town, the picture I conjured in my mind’s eye bore a remarkable resemblance to the reality of the experience when we finally arrived in Santa Barbara. One long sweeping beach, ocean waves, a chilled out vibe and the smell of salt in the air all contribute to a feeling of relaxation and youth associated with that culture.

Arriving late afternoon, we took an evening stroll on one of two piers before settling down for an al-fresco dining experience at a charming Italian restaurant.

*We actually cut dinner short because of a minor disagreement, resulting from spending 2 weeks consistently in each other’s company, no doubt!*

Having slept off any residual marital irritation, we headed (together) to Sambo’s beachfront café. Given that it was recommended to us by a local, expectations were high!

From the moment the complimentary home-baked mini-muffins landed on the table as we perused the menu, I was SOLD! Even though ‘Biscuits with Gravy’ (flat dry scones with creamy sauce, to those outside of the USA) was a little unusual, I enjoyed my Sambo’s experiences immensely nevertheless!

sambos santa barbara

Los Angeles

Many of our friends remarked – prior to our holiday – that we probably wouldn’t like it in LA and that 2 nights was therefore plenty of time to see the sights. I’d have to say, I’m glad I heeded their advice!

Los Angeles is like no other city I’ve ever been to. It appears not to have a true ‘heart’, instead sprawling over many miles and making tourism somewhat a pain-in-the-ass.

My favourite part of LA was Santa Monica. Hours could be lost browsing the shops, padding on the beach and trying out arcade games. I left there having finally learned what ‘Skeeball’ is and having picked up a self-help book* in Kitson. How very LA.

skeeball

Griffith Observatory is also worthy of a mention. A visit after sun-down allowed us to take in panoramic views of the city and escape the traffic, noise and perceived ‘tensions’ we felt driving through Little Armenia. Take the time to queue for a view through the telescope! It’s worth the 10 minute wait!

griffith observatory

We stayed at a renovated old-hollywood hotel not far from where many of the studios are based. One thing I noticed whilst staying at the hotel is that many of the inhabitants seem to behave as if they are constantly in an audition! People walk around singing loudly, wear full make up and heels to the pool and do not appear to eat. In our 2 nights in the hotel, I saw only 2 people eating in the on-site pool café.

We took a drive out to Beverley Hills – clearly a very wealthy area and a desirable place to live – and visited Fogo de Chao for an evening meal. It’s similar to Bem Brazil or Fazenda in the UK, only with valet parking and a slightly bigger salad bar. It also had valet parking. The necessity or even desirability of valet parking is something I still cannot comprehend.

fogo de chao los angeles

San Diego

By this point in our trip we had been touring for around 3 weeks! We had already taken in the sights in New YorkVegasDeath Valley and Yosemite National Park before we hit the coast. Naturally our pace began to slow down when we reached San Diego!

San Diego Zoo is world-famous and home to one of very few remaining Giant Pandas. We visited the Zoo on a very hot day and were slightly disappointed that many of the Animals were ‘missing’ – perhaps taking cover from the intensity of the Californian Sun.

flamingos san diego zoo

Having paid a visit to San Diego Zoo, I remain conflicted about zoos generally. On one hand, I think they’re distasteful and that the sterile, unnatural surroundings are somehow cruel. On the other hand I think they’re important in terms of looking after animals (and to some extent species) who would not otherwise survive in the wild.

We were staying over on Coronado Bay – a retreat from the city but only a 20 minute journey by car. We stayed at the Loewe’s resort which was excellent and despite the weather being horribly overcast we spent the final day of our trip by the pool and in the Jacuzzi chatting with fellow travellers about beer, fracking in Tulsa, and what it’s like to live and travel outside of the USA!

candelas on the bay

Amazing food at Candela’s restaurant on the bay!

The Verdict

There’s a good reason why this remains a popular holiday for those who live in the US as well as those visiting. If you’re stuck for time then do as well did and cut out some of LA – don’t skimp on time in San Francisco or starve yourself of the ability to pull over and take in the views along the coastal road. The road trip isn’t supposed to be a sprint, after all! Take the time and enjoy the journey!

*the self-help book was called ‘You Are A Badass’ and was written by a very witty and non-preachy Jen Sincero. It was the beginning of a new-found appreciation for self-help, self-discovvery and provided me a massive kick up the ass, which resulted in me writing a book and starting this blog! Worth a read!

How to Endure a Long Haul Flight

I’d been on the plane for around 4 hours and it was time to go to the bathroom for the third or fourth time. I drink a lot of water when flying so that I’m well hydrated, but this has the rather negative side effect of a constantly full bladder. On this occasion I was pretty desperate and the nearest unoccupied bathroom was the one beyond the curtain.

I dived into Upper Class – went about my business- then returned to my seat so as not to disturb the sleep of the people resting soundly after the evening meal.

*Sleep. Wouldn’t that be nice*

4 hours later I’d managed little but a light snooze for 20 minutes or so, and with another 3 hours to go I was beginning to feel an unusual amount of resentment towards anyone who had managed to fall into a reasonably deep sleep – even those outside of the luxury of upper class.

That flight was my first long haul flight as a 5’10” adult. I hadn’t been prepared for the nature of the task ahead of me when I sat on the tarmac at Heathrow, eagerly awaiting our landing at Hong Kong International Airport.

I had several more long haul flights ahead of me in the 3 weeks that followed, so I had to come up with a strategy to tackle the boredom, lack of sleep and general feeling of entrapment before I boarded the next flight.

Having done a few more long haul flights – in economy and premium economy but never first class- I have a few tips of my own to share with you which might make your long haul flights more bearable!

Bagsy a Spare Row

“For weight distribution reasons (and for organisation) passengers must remain in their allocated seat for take-off and landing but for the rest of the flight, passengers and crew are free to move around the cabin.”

That’s what you’re told when you’re boarding. I don’t know the science of it all, but I’d like to think my 10 stone didn’t have that greater impact on the safety of the plane, otherwise we would have to spread out the babies and evenly distribute the morbidly-obese as well, right?!

If you can, ask a member of the crew if there are any spare rows where you could stretch out and have a sleep. On low occupancy flights there’s a chance you could get 4-5 hours of shut-eye across the middle 4 seats, which believe me is an absolute luxury if you can manage it!

If you don’t want to ask – board as one of the last passengers so you can assess the cabin, looking for which seats remain empty, as you could bag those later.

What if someone else wants 1 or 2 of the 4 seats you’ve bagged? If you’re lying down it’s fine – you’re either asleep and not to be disturbed or pretending to be asleep therefore not to be disturbed. If they ask, it’s up to you whether you want to rudely decline, pretend not to understand or give in.

Personally I think the equitable thing to do is to offer to give up all 4 seats after you’ve had a proper sleep. Neither of you will be able to stretch out on 2 economy seats so 5 hours of proper sleep each is better than 10 hours of shuffling from one bum cheek to the other.

Pack Indigestion Tablets

 Settling comfortably in economy isn’t always the easiest thing to do – nor is sleeping upright. Add to that the mix of free drinks and eating outside of your normal eating pattern (due to time zone differences) and it’s easy to suffer some unintended stomach consequences.

10059473

Pack an array of stomach settling tablets as a precaution. They weigh next-to-nothing, can stay in your hand luggage and will be indispensable when your pretzels start repeating on you at 33,000ft.

Pack a ‘Refresher’ Kit

There’s something about travel – especially across several time zones –which can leave you feeling pretty gross. Make sure you take something with you to allow you to wash your face, moisturise, brush your teeth and re-style your hair (which will be a mess after wriggling around trying to sleep against those little pillows).

If you’re doing two back-to-back long flights, pack a change of top and a change of underwear so you can start the second leg of the journey feeling refreshed, having changed in the airport. This also has the added benefit of killing a bit of time between flights!

Drink Up (But Not The Wine, or the Coffee)

One of the mistakes I used to make was to have a couple of glasses of wine to ‘knock me out’ for the rest of the flight. The plan was flawed, given that two glasses of wine isn’t really enough knock anyone out and alcohol actually makes me suffer from restless sleep (if I can sleep at all). Avoid coffee too – drinking a known stimulant probably isn’t the best way to prepare for a sleep.

A friend of mine works for Virgin Atlantic as Cabin crew and recently advised me that she drinks as much as 3-4 litres of water on each flight. The crew actually swear by maintaining hydration to reduce the effects of jet-lag and keep your skin and body feeling at least part-normal after such a long time in recycled air. I tried it, and despite 13 bathroom trips over 9.5 hours I did feel much better than when I have alcohol and managed sleep for several hours – even when upright!

8-Glasses-blog

Wear Your Best Gym Gear

Hear me out. Whilst this might sound a little bit strange, I’ve found that the best travel clothing is actually my smartest running tights and a vest, a breathable but warm zip up jacket and my most flexible comfy shoes: my Nike Frees. I don’t look particularly glamorous when I travel, but I dress like that for the following reasons:

  • They’re flexible and designed not to be irritating to wear. They basically feel like pyjamas!
  • Gym leggings typically don’t have buckles or zips that could dig in when you sit down
  • They’re warm enough for whilst on the plane, but usually made of breathable sweat-wicking material, so will remain comfortable if you’re landing in a hot place (like when we flew to Vegas from Manchester in July)
  • A zip jacket is much easier to remove than a hoody
  • You can wash and dry them quickly (because of the quick drying fabric) so you can use them again for the return journey (leaving more space for holiday purchases in your luggage allowance!
  • I’ve learnt the hard way that heels are not an option when I have to walk / stand for so long in an airport (cheers, Atlanta)!
travelling outfit 1

Yoga pants and Nike Frees are the way to go for Long Haul. Jeans? You’re kidding right?!

Can’t Sleep? Channel Yoda and Meditate 

Ok so maybe you can’t actually meditate – or at least not knowingly – but you can try shutting your eyes and thinking of nothing for at least 15 minutes. Creating a peaceful silence in your own head will more than likely either lead to sleep, or leave you feeling a little bit more rested than before. Either way, it’s worth a try!

Take Breaks Between Films 

Films are a good way to pass a couple of hours at a time, but if you binge watch 3 films you might find yourself disappointed by how long there is left until landing time.

Instead, watch a film – do something else – then watch another film. You’ll appreciate the second film more after a break, and if you give yourself chance to realise you’re tired then might even manage a nap.

xxs_Virgin-Vera-Touch-5-624-970-80

Avoid Exotic Foods

For obvious reasons, avoid unusual foods in the run up to a long flight. You don’t want to spend the journey locked in the loo.

Give Yourself Meaningful Tasks to Complete

Many of us will know the feeling of running out of time to compete a task. When we focus on getting something done rather than the passing of time, suddenly time flies.

When I’m flying, I typically give myself a target such as writing a chapter of my book or writing a blog post. If I’m not writing, I’ll try and finish a book I’ve started at home and never completed. I’d also recommend downloading and listening to some interesting podcasts such as TED talks. You might as well learn something whilst you’re sat there… right?!

in flight entertainment multitasking

In flight entertainment / blogging / research multitasking!

Avoid Becoming a Default Babysitter

It’s very important to set the boundaries early-on if there’s an inquisitive child sat in the seat in front of you. If you’re too friendly and encouraging of them leaning over the seat to interact with you then you’re in danger of becoming a source of entertainment for the remainder of the flight. I’m not saying ignore them, but initiating a game of peek-a-boo or I-spy probably isn’t sensible.

Last But Not Least – Jump Time-Zones!

If you can, try to adjust to destination time as soon as possible after boarding the flight. Most airlines will help you do this, but if your journey is in two legs –such as Manchester to Auckland – then your final destination time will be different to stop-over time. Bear this in mind when deciding when it’s best to try and sleep. Personally I take whatever sleep I can get!

ENJOY THE FLIGHT… AND THE HOLIDAY OF COURSE!

The 5 Week Wanderer

 

my favourite travel apps

My Essential Travel Apps

Apps for days. That’s what you’d have if you downloaded an app for everything – because let’s face it – there pretty much is an app for everything now.

In this week’s blog post, I’m telling you which apps I think are a travel-lover’s must. 

Google Maps

Despite being a bit of a data-drainer, I think google maps is one of my most indispensable apps when travelling. I use it to pinpoint where I want to go and then wander freely around cities stress-free, and without the need to rely on a big  folded city map!

Not only is it great for walking, I use it in the place of expensive sat-nav hire when ‘m driving overseas. The cost? Just the daily rate you pay for having access to all the data you usually have I your package – but to use overseas. For me, this means £3 per day in  Europe and £5 per day in the USA. Personally, I think that’s a small price to pay to avoid a) getting lost or b) navigation related arguments.

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Holiday Pirates

For those who haven’t used holiday pirates before, it’s a cheap-deal finding holiday metasearch app. This means that there’s a team of people sat somewhere (in Holiday Pirates HQ) who dedicate their time to searching for the best holiday deals online before enlightening fellow ‘pirates’ to the greatest deals found on the net that day.

It’s inspiring, brilliant and will fuel your wanderlust like never before.

Add to that the potential to hear about ‘error fares’ (i.e. incorrectly priced airline tickets which are dirt cheap) and the potential for holiday bargains is immense! I saw (but missed out on) an incredible deal once for return tickets to Australia for less than it costs to get into London on the train!

It’s an absolute must if you’re not sure when or where to go on holiday. If you don’t already have it, download it NOW!

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Pinterest

Pinterest is my favourite App for discovering things I hadn’t realised were out there to be seen! The concept – in case you haven’t come across it before – is that of a pin board. Instead of cutting out pictures from a travel brochure and articles from travel magazines and pinning them one by one onto the cork pin board, you can save them on your own ‘pin boards’ within the app.

Articles spanning the internet are therefore available in one central ‘library’, each of which is represented by a charming picture. You either pin articles / sites put into the Pinterest general library by other ‘pinners’ or you can pin directly from the world wide web, as you wish!

It’s great for infographics, like ’10 things to do in Las Vegas’ or similar!

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Airline Boarding Pass Apps

Make your life easier and save the planet. Download the app of your chosen airline and check in online. Typically you can then proceed to the gate, show your phone and board. If you have nothing to check in to the main hold, then this means you don’t even need to make contact with the airline until you get to the gate, meaning less queues and more time wandering around in W.H.Smith.

The main benefit for me is that I’m far less likely to misplace my phone than a paper boarding slip!

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Any Addictive Games App

Bejewelled Blitz. That’s what got me through the dark times on  the long return journey from Bali. Any slightly addictive game which requires little skill or concentration (therefore is possible when operating under sleep deprivation) will do the trick!

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Instagram

Who wouldn’t want to see pictures of their mate riding a giant inflatable unicorn in an infinity pool in Bali? Instagram is great for snapping and sharing travel pictures, and requires much less prose than facebook. Twitter? Why should I limit what I have to say?!

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Whatssapp

There’s no easier way to update friends and family on mass than via a whatssapp broadcast. Easy peasy! It’s also good when you’re in vastly differing time zones, as you or your family members can mute notifications for 8  hours as they sleep, then check for messages in the morning!

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StubHub

I’ve spoken about stubhub before – I used it when we were in New York to get cheap last minute tickets to the Yankees v Red Sox Game. It’s a trading platform for unwanted event tickets and there’s some real bargains to be had.
Search for ‘near me’ in the app and see what pops up. Many of the tickets are available as e-tickets, meaning once purchased you merely need to find your way to the venue and show your phone to gain entry!

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Most of the above are related to your holiday experience, rather than the booking process. for more tips on booking, check out my holiday planning page or these links:

  1. Save money on hotels
  2. Last minute holidays without the stress
  3. Holiday maximisation

 

Geneva Motor Show / Snowboarding

So for my Dad’s somewhat belated birthday present last year, we decided to take him to what might be one of the best motor shows in the world – The critically acclaimed Geneva Motor Show.

Often the place where new models are revealed, Geneva Motor show seemed like the obvious choice. Add to that cheap flights and it’s an even more obvious choice!

We decided to head out there for a few nights to see the cars and to experience the charm of the city itself.

Getting Accommodation

The first hurdle was finding accommodation. The flights may have been a bargain, but hotel rooms in the city were eye-wateringly expensive for motor show weekend, at c.£1000 per night for 6 of us in a mediocre set-up! We had only booked  few weeks prior, so I guess it was what you might call ‘last minute’ and availability was poor.

Cue a search within a 30 mile radius, for more reasonably priced accommodation coupled with 2 cars. A short search later (look here for tips) we found a reasonable apartment in France – a 20 minute drive from the convention centre and airport – for less than £400 for the entire duration of the trip. Add to that the cost of two hire cars (around £150 for both) and the cost is suddenly back within a reasonable range for a weekend away!

Getting There

Getting there was easy – the flight from Manchester to Geneva is relatively short at 1 hour 50 mins. When we arrived, we waited nearly 2 hours for our hire cars! I wouldn’t use dollar / thrifty again IN MY LIFE because of this farce. As a gesture of goodwill, they offered us a free upgrade.

Unfortunately due to being under 30, I was allocated a tiny ‘hairdryer’ car for my rental, whilst my dad was ‘upgraded’ to a large Mercedes 4×4. Whilst this initially seemed like a nice treat, it was one we accepted dubiously, when the attendant asked for £5,000 deposit for it, but only a £500 one for mine. 

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Saturday Night – Why Is Everything Closed?!

We arrived on Saturday night, hungry and tired from the car-saga. We drove to the accommodation, freshened up and headed out to find some food.

8:30pm on a Saturday night and even the fuel stations were closed! The only lights we saw were those on the roads, and the CERN.

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All we had to eat that night was a couple of snacks left over from the journey, sloshed down with some sugary tea.

The Main Event (Sunday)

We awoke the next morning, readied ourselves with our fully charged phones and cameras and set off to the exhibition centre. We arrived early, allowing ourselves the opportunity to find a little snack! Hurrah!

The show itself was brilliant. There were new models, customer builds, new technology and plenty of photo opportunities. The only criticism is that you couldn’t get in / close to some of the best models without having VIP tickets of an invitation, which made it all feel a little bit ‘us and them’ when at some of the stands occupied by the more prestigious marques.

The food on site was expensive (as expected), so we had a small lunch and then headed out from the exhibition at around 2pm. We decided to head into Geneva town centre – a 10 minute drive away – for some food and a wander around.

Geneva Centre – Pretty, but pretty dull.

OK so eating out in Geneva on a Sunday is a near impossibility. In any other city I’ve ever visited in the world, there’s at least a small possibility of being able to walk into a restaurant and get a satisfying meal. On this occasion we were surprised that we couldn’t find any open restaurants (even with the help of Google) so we instead found ourselves snacking on chicken nuggets from McDonald’s, washed down with green tea from Starbucks. You can always count on there being a Maccys and a Starbucks open.

The architecture itself is very pretty and there is a ‘fairy-tale’ look about the place. The few people who were milling about in the town centre appeared to be either homeless or at a loss for something to do.

A kind local Gentleman pointed us in the direction of the more ‘lively’ part of the town –a mere 5-10 minute drive from our current central location, so we trusted the young man – who looked very out of place walking through the old square we were occupying – and set off in that direction.

After struggling to find parking in said area, we identified an underground parking garage and I zipped down the ramp and parked the car. A few minutes later, I walked back up the ramp to find my dad awkwardly shuffling between drive and reverse as he tried to un-wedge the car from a tight turn in the ramp without touching the sides. Given the £5k excess on the upgraded vehicle, it was a particularly tense time. A worthwhile note for anyone wishing to drive in Geneva is that the streets and the car parks and relatively tight on space! Whilst initially the complementary ‘upgrade’ seemed like a bit of a ‘win’ we soon came to realise that there are few benefits to having such a large car in such a small place.

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Geneva centre… on a busier day… when there were people. This is from google images, but serves as evidence that there are in fact people in this town.

Finding Food 

It would have been easier to hunt and kill our own food in Geneva that weekend. Never have I found it so difficult to track down a meal!

We walked the streets of the area for 45 minutes before we noticed a small light flickering on the horizon. We shuffled towards it, only to discover a charming little restaurant. The food was beautiful, and very welcome. It was nearly 9:30pm by the time we had found food, so we were pretty hungry!

Snowboarding in Les Gets (Monday) 

On the way out to Geneva, we saw lots of snowboarding and skiing groups. Feeling impulsive, we decided on our ‘spare day’ to drive the 2 hours from our random French accommodation to Les Gets, buy some snowboarding pants and a lift pass, rent a board and catch the lift up the mountain for a day of snow sports.

Given that we’d only ever snowboarded in Manchester’s Chill Factor-e some 4 years previously, the first hour was a little bit hit and miss. Queue embarrassing ourselves on the ski lifts, falling repeatedly and making poor choices with regards to the many layers of clothing we wore and subsequently had to dump when the sun came out.

By the end of the afternoon we were battered and bruised, but we could make it down the slopes with vigour and (might I add) a small amount of style.

After the light began to dip, we ditched the boards and headed to a restaurant for our last meal before the light home the next morning.

 

Would We Go Again? 

I wouldn’t go back to Geneva for a weekend, purely because there was so little to do in the area. I would however, consider flying in to Geneva for the day to visit the motor show.

I know that sounds crazy, but the flight it short and the exhibition centre is a 5 minute walk from the arrivals gate. You could save yourself the cost of a hotel by taking an early flight from the UK and taking a late evening return flight.

As for snowboarding, I’m looking at going next spring! Yay!

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Do ‘Last Minute’ Without Panicking

When is it a ‘Last Minute Holiday’?

Any holiday booked in the last in the 6-8 weeks prior to departure is considered ‘last minute’, but when I talk about last minute, I mean the last 2-4 weeks before departure.

Some people find the idea of leaving planning a holiday so late absolutely abhorrent, whilst others love the thrill off not knowing where they might end up.

So what do you need to consider if you’re considering a last minute trip?

Choose a Destination

Having too many destination options makes searching for the best deal the search-engine equivalent of trying to find the shiniest needle in a hay stack littered with needles. Not completely impossible, but difficult to coordinate.

Many of the best search engine sites – such as travelrepublic, travelsupermarket and holiday pirates – allow you to search for ‘areas’ or for short haul vs. long haul holidays, but sometimes this still leaves matters a little confusing.

Most of the search engines work best if you can tell them where you’d like to go. If there’s more than one place try choosing 5 and then work your way through those destinations before narrowing it down.

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If you can get down to one chose destination quickly, then you can focus your time and attention on that one destination. You don’t have much time, so the less ground you need to cover, the better!

Ask Your Employer If They Can Be Flexible

If you’re looking for a good value last minute break, the chances are that the best deal you find will be 1 or 2 days either side of the holidays you’ve booked off at work. To avoid having to turn down the bargain of a lifetime, ask your boss if they can agree for your holiday to be flexible by a couple of days either way.

Most people I’ve worked with have been more than willing to help me get the best deal possible. Happy, well rested and well travelled employees are not a bad thing! 

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Can your employer flex your holiday by a day or two so you can get the best last minute deal?!

Be Flexible on Hotel Quality and Location

If you’re booking last minute then there’s a good chance that availability will be low in the most popular hotels in the most popular tourist areas. Consider either compromising on quality or location. Personally I’d take a high quality hotel slightly out-of-town over a central low-star hotel any day, but that’s because I’ve had a bad experience in a cheap-but-central hotel and I also don’t mind using public transport to zip into the city centre.

City-fringe hotels are often excellent value for money, so don’t constrain your search to a narrow radius around the city centre.

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Two hotels, for next week, pretty much the same rating – £100+ per night difference in price. One is a 10 minute metro journey from the other. Worth the saving? Most definitely yes.

Don’t Leave Longer Trips To Chance

The same applied for those with complicated itineraries / must see things to do.

Don’t just assume you can turn up and see the main attractions in your chosen desintation. Sometimes the most popular tourist attractions are fully booked several weeks – or even months – beforehand. I was surprised to find that tickets to Alcatraz are typically sold out 6-8 weeks prior, for example. Be realistic and be prepared to miss out on some of the main attractions if you’re taking a last minute trip- or at least be prepared to visit the attractions at less sociable times. For example, if there’s a restaurant you simply must eat in but which is always booked well in advance for dinner, consider eating mid-late afternoon as a compromise.

For tips on planning a multi-centre / longer trip, see my earlier post.

Check Visa and Immunisation Requirements

Some visa applications take more than a matter of days, so if you want to do a last minute trip to one of those places then you need to have all the relevant paperwork sorted out well in advance.

Similarly, if you need immunisation or other preventative medical treatment then often these are required at least 6 weeks prior to the trip. Don’t get caught out – traveling without immunisation is often at your own risk and many insurer won’t cover any treatment you need as a result of falling ill if it was expected that you would have sought the relevant jabs prior to travelling.

Check https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for the most up to date travel and health advice, and be sure to visit your doctor / medical professional 4-6 weeks prior to travel if you think you might want to go further afield.

You can also try the fit for travel NHS site.

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Make Sure It Is Affordable And Scale Back Your Plans If It Isn’t

The chances are, if you’ve left booking your trip to the very last minute, you might not have as much to play with as if you’d booked early and chipped away at the payments! This means that typically the holidays you plan in advance are likely to be a little bit more epic than the ones you don’t.

It’s a total bummer coming home from a trip with a huge credit card bill to pay off over the next few months. Avoid it if you can by choosing a realistic last minute trip!

Make a Quick List, Then Pack Fast.

In my opinion, people stress far too much about holiday packing. It’s not an art form. Roll it. Fold it. Chuck it in. who gives a shit?! It’s all getting squashed anyway. 

Make your like easier and jot down a small list so you don’t forget the essentials (underwear, swimwear, phone charger & toothbrush) and the rest you can make up as you go along. If you’re booking last minute, you don’t always have the luxury of extensive packing time. Don’t make a mountain out of a mole-hill.

For more packing tips, see my post “The 5 Week Wanderer’s Packing Tips”.

Get Currency Before You Go!

Under no circumstances should you leave changing currency so last minute that you have to buy some at the airport. A captive audience is never going to get the best rates. Just don’t do it!

Most Importantly… Chill the F**k out!

Last minute holidays can be a little more ‘stressful’ to plan than those planned months – or even years ­– in advance. Don’t let that make it any more stressful. Wing it a bit. Take a chance. What will be, will be. There’s no point getting all stressed out before a holiday – it’s supposed to be an enjoyable experience!

Get into zen mode and let the holiday feeling wash over you.

Viva Las Vegas (A Second Visit)

It’s very rare for me to be thrilled at the thought of going back to a previous holiday destination (over a new holiday destination – clearly any holiday destination is preferable to not going at all).

Having said that, when presented with the last minute opportunity to return to one of the most ridiculously entertaining places in the world it’s even more rare that I would turn that opportunity down.

So I find myself heading off to Las Vegas for a long weekend with my Husband – celebrating our 12 year anniversary of dating. Yes, we did celebrate that a couple of weeks ago by going to a spa but there’s nothing wrong with celebrating twice… right?!

Last time I wrote about Vegas, I told you about 10 things you shouldn’t miss if you’re planning a visit to Vegas. Given I’ve now done those things, this time I’ll be writing a bit of a diary post instead. Here Goes…

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Thursday 14 July AM / PM- In The Air 

We’re flying with Virgin directly to Vegas – a 9.5 hour flight. I’m not the best with sitting still, so any flight over 2 hours can be a challenge for a near-professional fidget-er such as myself. Having said that, I settle in to the comfy seat, sip my welcome drink and find a good chick flick to kill the first 90 minutes.

In the last few days, some people have made remarks to me along the lines of “that’s too far to go for 3 nights” which I wholeheartedly disagree with! Holiday maximisation is all about getting the most out of what little time off work we actually get in a year. I won’t choose my destination based on a 5-hour flight time limit. It’s not like I’m going to New Zealand for 3 days. Now that would be a bit nuts.

Last time, we flew in from New York, so we were already partly adjusted to the time difference. This time, when we arrive it will be 10pm UK time and 2pm Vegas time. I think another power-hour nap is on the cards if I stand any chance of staying up past 5pm Vegas time!

Thursday 14 July PM – Bellagio Hotel

So we’ve arrived at the hotel and despite only passing through last time, it has an air of familiarity to go with the extraordinarily OTT luxury. We checked in – all the while hoping for an upgrade but without getting one – then headed up to the room.

We take our own bags to the room to avoid the awkwardness of tipping the bell boy. I find tipping pretty awkward and I’m pretty sure I always get the value wrong. Should it be a $2 job or a $20 job? Nobody tells you. Better to just avoid insulting them / unnecessarily overspending. I realise this is a typically British way to get around a socially awkward situation.

So what’s to do when you are jet lagged and struggling to adjust to afternoon middle-of-the-desert temperatures of 42 degrees Celsius?

SHOPPING of course.

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Thursday 14 July PM – Las Vegas Strip / Fashion Show Mall

We headed to the Fashion Show Mall. Foolishly we decided to make the journey on foot. It was only a ‘couple of hotels’ along the strip. Clearly I had forgotten how long it takes to walk past one hotel in Vegas.

40 minutes after we left the Bellagio, we shuffled off the escalator and dived into Abercrombie to recover from temporary heat exhaustion. My green tea frappucinno had done nothing to prevent the feeling that my eyeballs were being air dried by the hot desert breeze.

When we visited Vegas last October, it was hot but not this hot. The summer breeze is akin to turning your hair dryer around and blowing it on your face when its on it’s highest setting. This coupled with the extreme sunlight means there is no relief until you can get into the nearest air conditioned building.

I must have been over-tired, because I didn’t actually buy anything.

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Thursday 14 July PM – Back at the Bellagio  

In our zombie-like state we shuffled back to the hotel and commenced gambling. The beginner’s luck which won us $70 on the slot machines last time failed to make an appearance this time and jet lag had hit well and truly now.

Nap time. That’s what we would do! Then we could get up after an hour and go to the buffet for our evening meal! Genius!

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Friday 15 July AM – Neon Museum

The ‘nap’ turned into a ‘sleep’ and at 6am, wide awake, we found ourselves in the casino. After a couple more unsuccessful bets, we wandered out onto the strip to grab a sandwich from CVS.

There’s something quite interesting about Vegas at that time in the morning – it’s a very different place to it’s afternoon and evening counterpart. There were hoards of runners taking advantage of temperatures 10 degrees lower than they would be at 10am. There were masses of people finding their way to –or perhaps from- work and of course there were those who hadn’t quite managed to find their way back from wherever it was they’d ended up spending the previous night.

We decided to try and make the 8am tour at the neon museum, so hopped on the bus (the Deuce) down to Freemont Street and caught a taxi from Freemont to the museum itself.  You can get a 3 day pass for the Deuce and SDX (the express bus) for $20 for 3 days. The taxi cost less than $10.

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The ‘Graveyard of Lights’ at the Neon Museum

I was told about the Neon Museum by a friend and ex-colleague who had been looking into getting some wedding photos taken there. It’s a non-profit exhibit of iconic Las Vegas signs and includes an outdoor exhibition space delightfully known as the “Neon Boneyard”. Viewing is available to the general public only through booking a place on an hour-long guided tour. A visual history lesson, at $18 pp it’s probably one of the best value things to do in Vegas, and is most definitely recommended!

Friday 15 July AM – Las Vegas Outlet Malls

We hopped into another taxi to the Premium Outlet Malls – Las Vegas North (which again only cost around $10). Despite being tempted by an Alexander Wang bag, I managed to leave with only 2 pairs of shoes from Saks (Coach and Chinese Laundry), a long grey waistcoat from Marciano and a dress and blouse from Calvin Klein. Not quite as damaging to the credit card as that Wang bag would have been!

We had Cheesecake Factory for lunch then hopped back onto the Deuce southbound – hopping off right outside the hotel.

Friday 15 July PM – Bellagio Pool

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After another spell of losing – winning- then losing again at the Roulette table, I decided to try out the somewhat well-acclaimed Bellagio pool. On the advice of our taxi driver – a Las Vegas local – I slathered on the Factor 50 and headed out with a 1l bottle of water and a book. 1.5 hours later, despite being very warm indeed, I had barely tanned as much as an overcast day in the UK. Perhaps factor 50 was overkill?!

Friday 15 July EVE – Finding Food

We succumbed to jet lag once again and ended up having a 2 hour nap. I know – bad idea. Around 9pm we made it down to the buffet, only to find that the queue was approximately 45 minutes long! Given the buffet closes at 10pm, we decided to give it a miss. It defeats the object of all-you-can-eat if you only have 45 minutes to cram in the food.

We headed over to Wahlburger – a fairly new addition to the food offering at Bally’s and conveniently just over the road from the Bellagio. It’s the newest of a chain of burger restaurants headed up by the Brother of Mark Wahlburg.

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A blooming good burger.

I ordered one called ‘The Beast’ and had it with a rather American sounding side order of ‘Tater Tots’ which I’m pretty sure are just smaller, rounder hash browns. I’m not sure why they have a different name. Either way, it was bloomin’ good!

Saturday 16 July AM – Breakfast Buffet 

On our second morning in Vegas I managed to get my buffet fix. We had Brunch at the Bellagio buffet, which was excellent if not a little bit strange. Yes, there are breakfast items available, but there are also many, many non-breakfast items such as pizza, cakes, prime rib and chorizo – not exactly standard breakfast items but nevertheless very enjoyable!

We ate at around 8am, before hitting the casino to spend our remaining ‘designated gambling money’ which was actually only a small kitty to begin with! After exhausting any remaining luck on the roulette table, I found my way back to the pool – this time armed with factor 15.

Saturday 16 July PM – Escape the Room

We met up with our Friend who was staying at the Tropicana Hotel, then headed over to xtreme escapes for an escape the room game. We love doing these games back in the UK so when we found an offer for one in Vegas it made sense to give it a go. We did technically manage to escape, but at 1 hour and 9 minutes we weren’t breaking any records. Not a bad effort for only 3 of us, in what was a far more sophisticated game set-up than the one’s we have played in the past!

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No records set, but still smiling!

Saturday 16 July EVE – Second Buffet of the Day

None of us were sure what we wanted to eat, so the natural thing to do was to head to the MGM for what would be the second buffet of the day! Given we hadn’t had lunch, this seemed completely reasonable.

2 hours and many courses later, we rolled back to the bus stop and caught the Deuce north towards the hotel.

We pondered the idea of going out for drinks, but decided we were content with being a little bit old-before-our-time and decided to call it a night!

Hardcore.

Sunday 17 July AM – Last few Hours

We decided to go out shopping for a few souvenirs (bags of sweets) before we headed back to the hotel and checked out around 9.

We then went in search of a good handbag bargain in Ross and Marshalls discount stores but sadly there was nothing that caught my eye. On the back of a handbag related failure, we headed back to Wahlburger and stuffed our faces once again!

It was then time to head to the airport. Since our tickets were still live, we retrieved the bags from the bell desk, caught the bus to the Monte Carlo (Hotel) which was closer to the airport and grabbed a taxi from there. That might sound really tight (please don’t judge me!) but it saved us $15 in taxi fare.

Flying Home

So I’m currently sat 35,000ft in the air – 2 hours into the flight, having eaten a pretty darn good curry. We’ll be landing in the UK in the morning, having returned to GMT from being 8 hours behind! If I don’t sleep on the plane, my return to work on Tuesday morning (and the raft of meetings I have on Tuesday and Wednesday) could be pretty horrific, so I’m off to catch some Zzz’s.

 

Good night Vegas.

It’s been cracking.

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Probably won’t be seeing this view for a while!

 

 

 

 

 

A Rant About Social Media

It’s a shit rainy Monday and you’re putting off ending ‘breakfast time’ to go and get in the shower because that unfortunately indicates that the working week is about to begin and people actually need you to be on form. In a somewhat foolish move, you whizz onto Instagram to nosey through a few photos. That won’t take long, and doesn’t require much brain power, so it’s all good.

Holy shit.

Why is everyone else apparently on a 52 week long holiday? How can these twenty-somethings afford to swan about wearing expensive bikinis on the world’s beaches whilst I’m cramming my holidays into 5 weeks and paying for them for the other 47?

Not only am I now closer to 30 than 20 (and actually have been for a few years, but was happily in denial), I’m now acutely aware of the fact that my success rate as a ‘globetrotter’ is potentially below par. Add to this the fact that – despite my fitness obsession – in my present state I wouldn’t be able to fit one bum cheek into the bikinis these girls are wearing and #MondayMotivation just turned into #FuckThisShit and #ShitImGoingToBeLateForWork

The Problem With Other People’s Glossy Lives and Perfect Bods

The appearance of a glossy and untainted life can lead to us normal folk feeling somewhat inadequate. Is my three week holiday to NYC, Vegas and California not enough?! Am I ungrateful or simply the type of person who strives for more?

The problem with social media is that people tend to edit out the crap parts of their lives (which they obviously don’t want people to see) meaning sometimes the content is plainly misleading.

Social media is often criticised for not being ‘real’. I know through speaking to some more influential social media personalities that often apparently ‘in-the-moment’ holiday snaps which look relatively natural and ‘ad hoc’ are the result of considerable effort and editing. One such travel and fitness influencer said of her Instagram pictures that in order to be able to post a snap which looks natural, she has to position herself in the correct lighting, prop her phone up on a stool at the right height and take a series of photos (usually around 45 in sequence whilst she constantly repositions herself) and only then can she select the best snap, apply a filter and post it to her thousands of followers.

Packing in Airport

The less glamorous side of my holidays – re-packing my case to make sure I avoid £100 baggage charges

This made me feel quite a bit better about the fact that I am actually quite terrible at selfies and also made me realise the amount of work some of these Instagram-famous personalities put into maintaining this glossy and well-travelled image.

When you consider that, suddenly your own terrible double-chin selfies in front of the Brooklyn Bridge don’t seem quite as horrific.

My Instagram Accounts

I have two instagram accounts. My personal account (@_afrothunder_) is not planned and features mostly food, shoes, exercise and more food – a reflection of my life for the majority of the year.

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loads of followers. NAAAAT. 

My ‘travel blogger’ account (@the5weekwanderer) on the other hand features only pictures from my travels, holidays and days out. It’s not intended to make it look like I’m a full-time professional travel blogger – after all I do this in my spare time – but I do wonder what impression it gives given I don’t post my day to day activities. My feed looks like one long jolly.

 

 

 

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Absolutely smashing it in terms of followers… and sarcasm apparently. 

If you only flicked through the5weekwanderer’s account, it would be easy to assume I was jet-setting all of the time. I can assure you that whilst I would love to travel more than I do, it’s simply not an option which is currently open to me!

Does the fact that my account could be interpreted in this way make me a hypocrite? Does it make me a master of deception?

I think not.

I choose to separate the day-to-day life from the ‘wanderer’s’ life because I highly doubt that my limited ‘travel followers’ would be interested in what I ate for breakfast or my career in finance. Perhaps I should share more of what I do in my career. After all, I’m much more proud of my career than I ever would be of my ass in a bikini, but that’s a whole separate conversation.

What Do Other’s Think?

I invited the opinion of some of my fellow travel-oriented social media acquaintances. I was surprised there was less of a ‘defensive’ response to the question, which was potentially a little bit loaded!

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The Big Question. 

igtravels16 had this to say: “As an accountant who likes taking holiday snaps I see so many people travelling on here and wonder how they do it 😕”

dinelivetravel commented: “Personally, only take photos of where we go and what we eat. One main reason for starting my blog was to give people a totally honest positive view. I was tired of negativity. If we don’t like somewhere, I don’t broadcast it, we simply move on. If there is a negative at a place we visit, I will balance this with what we found as being positive and enjoyable. Surely it cannot all be bad. I juggle the photography and blogging around our full time jobs. We are lucky living in Brisbane to have access to so many wonderful areas for quick weekend breaks as well as an incredible choice of venues for meals. We work hard and reward ourselves when we can. Something we both believe strongly in.”

So it seems that for the few of us who are ‘part time’ social media users and bloggers, it’s all about positively sharing our experiences. Having said that, it’s also relatively clear that none of us really understand how the ‘big players’ of social media manage to be travelling all the time!

Fuelling Wanderlust

 The relevance and usefulness of social media is one of those topics which divides opinion, but unless you live in a cave then you probably can’t avoid interacting with it in some form or other. Despite being occasionally pissed off by social media, I continue to use it and even go as far as to admit that I like it!

There’s no doubt that Instagram and Pinterest have been a catalyst to my ever-growing wanderlust over the past few years. This is one of the more positive influences social media has had on my life. It gives me the images to add to my sense of willing to travel, so my daydreams are more vivid as a result.

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My desire for escapism is also legitimised by the fact that I’m clearly not the only one with travel on my mind! Unlike many, I don’t really want to quit my well-paid job for  the chance to travel all year round. If it was what I really wanted, then I would simply do it. That’s the kind of person I am – impulsive in a considered manner.

I’ll continue to draw inspiration for my next holiday from social media, but with a touch of realism so that my expectations are a little lower than 5* all inclusive Indonesian villa-based spa breaks with daily massages and a personal infinity pools overlooking the ocean.

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