Upcoming travel plans #2

Having been on somewhat of a booking spree recently, let me fill you in on where we’re off to next. Note: this post involves audience participation, because I’m asking you all for recommendations and advice and I genuinely want your help!


London, UK ¦¦ Alright I’m starting with a cheat but last weekend we went to the EP launch of our good friend and stayed over so we could maximise our London time without having to rush for the last train. It was a lovely weekend, and although S and I were both struck with horrid headaches (at different times too, what are the chances?!) we were still able to support our friend, hear some awesome live music, and stuff ourselves with gluten free food. Recap coming soooon.

Oxfordshire, UK ¦¦ Next weekend I’m treating myself to a solo spa day somewhere near Oxford. Because why not?

Istanbul, Turkey ¦¦ S and I are heading to Istanbul for Easter and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve already started planning what I’m going to pack and what sights to see, food to eat… And the recent bombings in Ankara and Istanbul have me slightly concerned, but not overmuch. I tend to be optimistic about these things; I mean, I’ve had near scrapes before and come out fine. So I’m planning to be sensible but not stress about it.



Birmingham, UK ¦¦ We used to live in Birmingham and grab any chance we can to head back there. The excuse this time is to go and see one of our favourite bands, The Cat Empire, who are playing a venue in the city centre. We’re also hoping to catch up with some of our friends, in particular one of my besties who I really miss being able to hang out with regularly, and our old church which we also miss.

Leeds, UK ¦¦ My biggest sister (in age, not stature – sorry sister S!) has been through a tough time recently which has culminated in a change of circumstance. I can’t really say any more than that at this stage but we will be taking a trip up to say hi, support the transition, and celebrate her being her. And my nephew too. We’ll be celebrating them both. I’ve no idea what we’ll be doing on the trip but if my nephew is involved, there won’t be a dull moment.

Norwich, UK ¦¦ In a bid to see more of our glorious country, S and I picked Norwich to go and spend a weekend in. There was no reason really other than accessibility, value, and the fact neither of us have been before. Apparently it’s quite nice – some new friends tell us they spent their entire honeymoon there so it must be good.


Santorini, Greece ¦¦ This is my birthday treat trip from S and I’m so excited! I’ve always wanted to go to Santorini and I can’t wait. I think it should be quite warm at this time of year (but not too burny) so perfect for doing lots of walks up steep hills. I’m currently trying to decide whether to spring for a guided tour for a day as recommended by Lauren on Location because it looks like a great way to see the island and they take you to all the prettiest bits. However… It’s about £235 for the day (that’s about $335 for my US readers) which is an awful lot of money, and it’s tailored for cruise ship passengers who only have one day on the island. We’ll be there for 4 days in total, and although 2 of those will be travel days I’m wondering whether we can make it round ourselves in that time, for free. What would you do?


New York, USA ¦¦ Right. I can’t even tell you how excited I am about this. Just… It’s a lot. My very oldest friend and I are taking this trip together to celebrate turning 30 and I can’t frigging wait. It’ll be my first visit to the US ever, and there’s so much I want to do! After a very stressful experience trying to book an AirBnB in Manhattan (anyone else have AirBnB woes in NYC? I’ve never experienced anything like it) I’m now planning the day and a half I have in the city after my friend leaves. I’m also after recommendations in general, especially gluten free food related ones, so if you’ve got anything please sling it my way. I know New York is such a touristy place that it’s easy to find a list of the big sights, but I don’t want to treat my trip like a giant tick list.



TBC ¦¦ S is turning 30 this year too, and seeing as we’re going to Santorini for my birthday I figure we should go somewhere good for his birthday too. I’m currently plotting… Any ideas for good long weekend destinations from London?


Insane US trip ¦¦ Okay so this one is just crazy. I still can’t believe we booked this trip. It’s a bit involved so let me explain. First we will fly into Chicago where we’re staying for 2 nights in a hotel which is slap bang downtown. We will then board the Empire Builder Amtrak train which will take us from Chicago all the way across to Seattle, via Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, and Washington. You can see the route here. We’ll have two nights in Seattle, and then we’ll be taking our first ever cruise up to Alaska. The boat calls at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway (all Alaska, USA), and Victoria (British Columbia, Canada). I have family in Victoria so I’m hoping to catch up with them then, if timings allow. The cruise returns back to Seattle, at which point we have half a day before we fly back home again.


Mental, right?

So, as someone who at this point has never been to the US, on a big cross country train, or on a cruise, there will be a lot of firsts for me! If you have any recommendations please pass them my way. Seriously. I’ll take anything.


P.S. Previous travel planning here

Linking up with Bonnie, Anna, Swags and Diana for Travel Tuesday



  1. 15th March 2016 / 14:53

    I live through everyone who travels. I do good to make it to Nashville (3 hours away) about every 3 months to see my grandbabies 🙂

    • 16th March 2016 / 00:12

      Grandbabies! That’s definitely a good reason to travel. Sadly I don’t have any of those, although probably a good thing seeing as I’m still regularly mistaken for a teenager 🙂

  2. Kerri Taylor
    15th March 2016 / 17:52

    i think my mouth was gaping open as i read this whole thing. i’m so in awe of your travels! and i am not sure why i didn’t notice your right column: located, packing, planning. so cute and clever. that amtrak thing is wild! you’re not just dipping your toes into the US, you’re going deep across the whole thing!

    xoxo cheshire kat

    • 16th March 2016 / 00:13

      I know, I can’t believe it either and I’m the one who booked it all. Staggering. The right column is quite new so you’re forgiven for not noticing it before! Thought I’d try it for size so I’m glad to hear you like it. I know, I think it’s so funny that I’m making up for lost time by seeing ALL THE US. Even the really random bits. Good times!

    • 16th March 2016 / 00:13

      I know! I can hardly wait. I don’t know what to start planning first!

  3. 15th March 2016 / 20:40

    AHHH!!! I’m so excited for your first trip to the US, and your first cruise! Not to mention Santorini for your birthday! I’m extremely jealous of all of your trips! In NYC you definitely have to see a Broadway play, no matter what, and probably get your tickets now. And although the Empire State Building is super iconic, I think that the views are better from the top of Rock Center because you can actually get to see The Empire State Building. It sounds like you’ll have some time for exploring in Chicago, so I definitely recommend the Architecture Tour while you’re there. It was one of my favorite things that we did when we visited last year! Seriously, I’m so excited for and jealous of all your travels!

    • 16th March 2016 / 00:15

      ME TOO! I can’t wait for any of it! I’m not really a play person but if you say it’s a must do, I will try my very hardest to get tickets! Maybe I will see if my friend wants to see something and treat her to birthday tickets? Have you seen anything you’d recommend? Top of the rock is already on my list, it’s basically the one thing on it. And thanks for the Architecture Tour recommendation, that sounds right up my alley. Going to google it now. Anything else you’d recommend??

      • 16th March 2016 / 00:40

        My all time favorite play ever is Wicked! If you like the Wizard Of Oz I definitely recommend it plus the music is amazing! In NYC I think the other things that we’ve loved have been a mafia tour through little Italy which was so interesting, visiting The Met for some amazing art, and walking over the Brooklyn Bridge which has some of the most amazing views of the city! The High Line is another area of NYC that’s really fun to explore and spend time outside as well. And there’s Chelsea Market that’s close that has amazing food and cute shops!
        In Chicago there’s also going to the top of Sears Tower for some amazing views of the city and they also have a great air and space museum I think.
        I seriously love all both of those cities and I hope that you have the best time visiting them! Sorry if I’m overloading you with info!

        • 16th March 2016 / 00:51

          No seriously that’s so helpful, thank you! Not an overload at all. No such thing! A mafia tour sounds like heaps of fun, and I love a walk so the Brooklyn Bridge and High Line are on the list for sure. Thanks for the Chicago recommendations too, there’s just so much! I’m just sad we can’t stay for longer!

  4. 15th March 2016 / 22:54

    Oh my gosh this sounds amazing!! The cruise especially, I’ve always wanted to go to Alaska but never thought about doing it by cruise. Chicago is really lovely, I went in October, mainly for a work trip but I wrote a couple of blogs about it 🙂

    Jasmin Charlotte

    • 16th March 2016 / 00:17

      I know, S has always wanted to go but I remained unconvinced until we found this cruise. I figured it was the best way of easing me in gently! I think if I hadn’t gone for that he’d have had me bivouacking in the Aleutians or something…. I’m going to check out your Chicago posts now!

  5. 16th March 2016 / 01:45

    Ohhh, what an amazing list of places, obviously Birmingham being the best 😉 I’m super excited to read about your time in Istanbul as I cannot wait to go one day!!

    • 16th March 2016 / 10:58

      Obviously! I can’t wait to go back. Although apparently they’ve moved Snobs?! What a travesty.

      I’m super excited to go to Istanbul, I’ll certainly fill you in!

  6. Jen
    16th March 2016 / 04:00

    Oh my goodness, I want to come with you!!!! Everything sounds so amazing.

    • 16th March 2016 / 10:59

      I’m sure there’ll be room in my suitcase for a pregnant lady! I know, I’m pinching myself over here with all the stuff we’ve got lined up. Unreal!

  7. 16th March 2016 / 07:12

    Oh wow what an awesome few months you have ahead of you! 🙂

    I like that you’re spending some time seeing your own country as well as exploring some others too – I’ve seen shockingly little of Australia! Maybe when the babies are bigger it will be easier to travel. Sorry I can’t be more helpful with the recommendations – although my sister in law did what sounds like a similar Alaska cruise and loved it so I’m sure you will too 🙂

    Away From The Blue Blog

    • 16th March 2016 / 11:01

      We so do! I couldn’t be more excited! We’re definitely making a big effort to see more of the UK, it’s really a pretty place if you ignore the weather and I feel bad that there are some major cities that I’ve never been to (plus most of Scotland…).

      I’m glad your sister liked the cruise, I’m a bit nervous we’ll be the youngest on the boat by about 40 years but if she liked it then I’m sure we’ll be ok. And any travel with babies is very brave! Anyone who manages it has my eternal respect!

  8. 16th March 2016 / 09:07

    I’m so jealous you are going to Santorini! It’s been on my bucket list forever. New York will be so fun too!

    • 16th March 2016 / 11:02

      It’s been on mine forever too! I can’t wait! I’m hoping New York will be a lot of fun, I hope I don’t get overwhelmed by how much there is to see/do. I suppose if I do I’ll just have to go back 😉

  9. 16th March 2016 / 14:19

    Such exciting plans!!!! Istanbul and Santorini and the big US trip! And I also love how you’ve also planned so many little trips to explore your own country too. This sounds like an amazing year of travels! Of the places you have here, I’ve only been to Istanbul and I loved the city so much. Make sure you just randomly explore all the little alleyways in the Beyoglu/Taksim area (the sultanamet area is super touristy) and sit down for some shisha and a game of backgammon in any shisha restaurant (it’s what the locals do there and the owner will teach you to play!). It was little peaceful moments like that that I enjoyed the most. 🙂

    • 17th March 2016 / 19:55

      Well that’s lucky, because we’re staying in Beyoglu not far from the Taksim area! I figured the very centre would be a bit full on, so I understand it’s walking distance from Beyoglu (is that right?) but not as touristy. I love little peaceful moments, I shall search out some local spots. Did you go on any ferries when you were there?

  10. 16th March 2016 / 22:00

    Oh my goodness – what fun travel plans! I think on your Santorini problem, I would maybe try do it myself as you will have more time. Depends on how easy transport will be in the shoulder season? Can’t wait to see how that and all the others go – so much fun coming up!

    • 17th March 2016 / 19:56

      I know I’m so excited! I think you’re right about Santorini. It really is a lot of money and as we’re there for a few days I reckon we can cover most bits ourselves. Also there’s a certain joy in finding a beautiful outlook yourself, rather than it being pointed out by someone else. I think, anyway.

  11. 17th March 2016 / 10:23

    Oh wow, some amazing travel plans – I love Istanbul, it’s one of my favourite cities, and would love to get to Santorini one day too. From what I’ve heard about the island, it’s not hard to explore on your own when you’ve got tme. Sounds like an incredible trip across the US as well. #traveltuesday

    • 17th March 2016 / 20:02

      Oh great, I’m glad to hear it. Do you have any Istanbul tips you can pass along? Favourite places to go, food to eat? I think I’m erring towards doing a self-guided tour, too. It’ll be a bit more chilled as well 🙂

  12. 17th March 2016 / 11:24

    Hey Rachel! For gluten-free stuff, I always go to Courtney at Adelante…and she is FROM Seattle, so she will have recommendations galore! You can’t go wrong in NYC (http://www.whatupswags.com/2015/06/coming-back-to-america-new-york-city.html), and it’s usually best to just eat close to wherever you’re staying. I would say go with any kind of international food you love, pizza, and maybe hot dogs, if you like them. I’ve never been to Santorini, but I feel like you could figure out the tour on your own for waaaaayyyyy cheaper than that tour cost. Your USA trips are going to be crazy wonderful! Be prepared for humidity and some rain and really hot temperatures, too! A windbreaker with a hood is usually my go-to for the regions you’ll be visiting. CANNOT WAIT to see this evolve on the blog!!!

    • 17th March 2016 / 20:07

      Ahh good shout, I will send her a message. And I’m going to check out your post now… See I’d love to eat pizza and hot dogs but I need to find gluten free ones first! I guess the good thing about NYC is that there are so many reviews and (I imagine) such a good choice of gluten free stuff it’s just a case of setting aside some serious google time.

      Yeah I’m thinking that on balance, skipping the tour makes sense especially as we have extra time. Also I can stop for regular ice cream breaks 🙂

      Thanks for the windbreaker tip – got it. I hadn’t even thought about the range of weather I’ll be experiencing… goodness. I have some planning to do!

  13. 19th March 2016 / 15:56

    Sounds like you have some great trips planned. Istanbul coming up soon. How fun! It’s a great city. I hope you love the US. It sounds like a great trip. As for Santorini, I haven’t been, but I wouldn’t pay that much for a tour. I’d plan my own.

    • 22nd March 2016 / 10:35

      I’m so excited! Have you been to Istanbul? Any tips? Or for the US? I’ll literally take anything. I think I’m with you, self-touring will be the way to go in Santorini. It’ll be an adventure, at any rate 🙂

  14. 2nd June 2016 / 21:59

    I have been on two Alaskan cruises and would go again in a heartbeat! Let me know if you want any recommendations on things to do there or in Chicago!

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