Five resources I use to plan a holiday

If I'm honest I think I may actually prefer planning a holiday than actually going on holiday. I spend months planning each little detail from where to eat, drink and what to see. I pride myself on trying to find things that are a little different to the normal 'tourist trail'. I've had a few people ask me where I find all my inspiration so here are the top five resources I look to when I'm planning a trip. Beware - they also help to add 100 more different cities, towns and countries to your travel wish list!

1. Guide books
Every time I book a trip away, I always make sure I buy a guidebook. I swear by Lonely Planet and have a pretty extensive collection now. I've never had a bad meal from one of the restaurants suggested and the sights they recommend have always been spot on. They're so great to always have in your backpack to refer to as you seek out a new city. Other brands I love are Wallpaper and 500 Hidden Secrets of.... I try to buy a book based on the entire country and a more relevant one of the city I'm visiting. I don't really like the pocket guides as I don't think they have enough information in for my liking.

2. The Guardian
I'm obsessed with the Guardian travel section and have picked many of the hotels I've stayed in because of this website. I read it weekly and really enjoy the reader travel tips. They often bring new-to-me cities and countries that I would never have thought of visiting. The Malaysian one has been fantastic for helping me plan my trip to the country next February. It's such a great mix of travel inspiration and interesting travel news. It has a good selection of places to visit in the U.K too, so it's a brilliant source of information if you're planning a staycation.

3. Instagram
Ah I'm a sucker for visiting somewhere that I've seen on Instagram. I usually use this more for restaurant recommendations rather than places. Every now and again I'll have a browse through the travel Instagrammers I follow and save some restaurant recommendations - in case I ever find myself in that city! I also use it to look at restaurants I've found in my guide books. Quite often if you then click on the user, they will have been in other restaurants in the are so you'll then find even more options. I don't always go for ones that make a good picture, I try to look out for ones that look like they sell amazing local food. I'm more likely to save it if it's been snapped by locals rather than just tourists. One giveaway is if the caption is in the language of the country rather than in English.

4. Conde Nast Traveler
Despite being high end, Conde Nast does have some cracking budget hotel articles such as The U.K's best country pubs with rooms and Affordable hotels in Europe. I think I have placed every single hotel on my travel wish list. The website is really good for United States inspiration with so many cool and quirky towns and cities to browse. Quite often places, you would never have thought off but after reading about them you're so desperate to visit. Don't forget to check out the city breaks section either.

5. Blogs
Last but not least are blogs! I've really gone off of the over-styled, luxury travel blogs as I can't afford to live that lifestyle and they just seen all generic. I feel like most of the places they write about could be anywhere in the world, they all look the same. I feel they just wouldn't help me make the most of a country - I go on holiday to take a break from the norm at home. If I'm visiting somewhere new I want to go where the locals go and get out of my comfort zone. One of my pet hates is bumping into English people abroad or being surrounded by Brits. Says the girl who is actually going to Magaluf this year... Anyway I digress. Instead I'm loving the bloggers who visit places out of the ordinary, have down-to-earth writing and often stay in an AirBnB or affordable hotels. A few of my favourites at the moment include Vicky Flip Flop, Lost Without Purpose, Megan Starr and On The Luce.

How do you plan a holiday?


Living with a boy: (almost) six months on

White longline shirt: H&M (similar)
Pink blazer: ASOS (similar)
Blue denim skinny jeans: George at ASDA (similar)
Silver pointed loafers: Next (similar)

It's been nearly six months since I took the plunge and moved out of my parents home and into a house with my boyfriend. Honestly? I was dreading it a bit and I wasn't quite ready to leave home. I wasn't ready to take on the responsibly and cried in the first few weeks every time I went back to my parents.

Living with someone else is hard. We've bickered about who cleans the bathroom, gone to bed angry after falling out over a stain on the sofa and got far too angry with each other over how we both choose to stack the dishwasher. We have credit card debt more than out house deposit thanks to buying a doer-upper and money has been the tightest it has ever been. Our bathroom currently looks like squatters have been residing in it for months and we have a massive hole in the plaster by the front door. Looking back I think we bought a house together with rose-tinted glasses on and didn't quite realise just how bloody difficult it would be.

Despite having been going out with each other for a decade, we learnt so much more about each other during these last six months then we have in ten years. He annoys me when he puts the glasses in the cupboard and doesn't shut the door. His laid back nature now frustrates me when he doesn't spend the whole weekend doing jobs around the house and instead chooses to 'chill out'. I've been asking to have my fireplace tiled since January... Sometimes when I'm in bed and hear him playing Call of Duty downstairs, I want to march downstairs and throw things at him. I hear that theme tune in my head.

Equally I annoy him when I take to the kitchen and use every single pan in the house. When he braves it and wanders in, he's greeted with flour on the cabinets, oil all over the cooker and chocolate on the tiles. I think he's struggling to cope with my floordrobe all over my side of the bed. In fact I know he's struggling with all my messy ways. I seem to be allergic to putting things away until it becomes an absolute joke.

Yet despite all that, its been the best decision I've ever made. I've stopped calling my parents house 'home' and when I visit over the weekend, after a few hours I'm itching to come back to my house. My own home where I can get my PJs on, leave my shoes on the stairs without being told off and raid the fridge to eat whatever I want without permission.  It's funny how sometimes I can barely remember life without living with Connor. It feels like we've always co-exisiting together in this little house. As I sit on the tube on my commute home, I feel excited when I'm two stops from home as I know I'm going to see my very own house. I relish sitting down for dinner, chatting for a while about our day and then going about our business - him on his xbox and me on my laptop. I feel so content and happy knowing he is there in the house even if we sit in different rooms or barely talk for hours.

Turns out living with a boy is pretty good indeed.


Things to do in NYC: Hop on, hop off ferry cruise

As much as I love exploring places 'off the beaten track' when I visit places, I'm also a sucker for all the traditional tourist fun. So I was very excited to do the Hop on, Hop Off cruise pass with Isango*. We did have a combo ticket with entrance to the observation deck at the One World Trade Centre but there was some confusion at the pier ticket office. I asked to redeem my ticket and they said I didn't need to but yet when I went to the observation deck, they told me I wasn't allowed on as it had to be redeemed back at the pier. Sadly we had a dinner reservation so we didn't have time to go back to redeem the ticket. It's something to keep in mind if you take the tour, be persistent that you definitely need to redeem all tickets at the pier. But all confusion aside, my mum and I had a great afternoon on the ferry.

Valid for 24 hours, we picked it up from Pier 79 on West 44th Street in Midtown for our 90 minute New York City Sightseeing Tour: Hop-on, Hop-off bus tour with cruise and one world observatory admission. We didn't have time to do one of the New York Bus Tours. The tour guide was brilliant and very informative. Originally hailing from Queens, his knowledge of the city was second to none and we both found out some cool new facts. As we cruised along the water, we got to see the Statue of Liberty, Empire State building, Ellis Island, Brooklyn Bridge and an incredible view of the skyline. We took the full 90 minute round trip tour without hopping off first and then we stayed on it until it arrived at Pier 11 in the financial district. Make sure you let the desk know if you plan on hopping on and off as they do something special to you ticket to allow you too.

If it's your first time to NYC then I would definitely recommend the tour as you get to see so much in a short amount of time. Perfect if you only have a long weekend in the city. Even though I had seen most of the sights before, it was still interesting as I found out new things. Thanks for having us on the trip Isango!


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