3 Exciting Cities to Consider When Vacationing in the US

This is a collaborative post. The content in this post was not written by me, however, the author is credited in the post.

Hey Everyone! Welcome to a new post. This particular post was written by Alex from WonderWithAlex. I hope you find her tips as inspiring as I do.

Austin, Texas: Outdoors, Arts and Live Music

Austin, the state capital of Texas, is a lively city known for its tech jobs, diverse culture, music festivals, art, gourmet cuisine and distinctive history. The unofficial slogan for this fun-filled city is “Keep Austin Weird.” The slogan aims to promote local businesses and preserve Austin’s unique culture. If you’ve never been to Austin, it comes highly recommended as you won’t find any other city like it in the world!

Austin Outdoors

Austin is a dream destination for those who love being outdoors. From hiking, kayaking, boating and beyond, Austin’s beautiful trails and lakes won’t be a disappointment. Zilker Metropolitan Park is Austin’s “Most-Loved Park” offering kayaking on Lady Bird Lake, swimming holes, scenic trails, and a host of other outdoor activities. Looking for a little rock climbing? Check out the Barton Creek Greenbelt! Or maybe you are looking to see a waterfall or two? Then you’ll want to hike River Place Nature Trail or McKinney Falls State Park.

Austin’s Art & Music Scene

Austin is well known for its creativity. If you’re looking for live outdoor music and art festivals, Austin is the city for you. The South by Southwest (SXSW) music and film festivals are a hot topic in Austin—offering film screenings, comedy shows, art galleries, concerts and more. Or if you happen to be in town during the Austin City Limits music festival, be sure to check it out along with 450 thousand other people! Two weekends filled with live music concerts in the middle of Zilker Park.

If you can’t make a festival while you’re in town, don’t worry! Austin’s local art and live music spaces are vast. You can find an art exhibition or live concert just about anywhere, any day of the week.

New Orleans, Louisiana : Culture, Cuisine, and Festivals

New Orleans (NOLA) is the city of music, culture, Cajun food, Creole cuisine, and colonial architecture. From the iconic New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fest to authentic cuisine, this must-visit city is a melting pot of sounds and flavors.

Experience Cajun & Creole Cuisine

Many people don’t know the difference between Cajun and Creole cuisine and use the terms interchangeably. While both cuisines are from New Orleans, they come from very different cultural backgrounds.

Cajun, or “country cooking” is a combination of French Acadian and Southern cuisines typically found along the bayous of Louisiana. Cajun cuisine is typically well seasoned and consists of hearty stews and soups.  Boudin, a Cajun sausage, and Jambalaya are two popular examples of Cajun cuisine. If you’re looking for authentic Cajun cuisine, Mulates, Zydecos Cajun Kitchen, and Cochon Cajun & Southern Cooking are just a few of the famous Cajun eateries in New Orleans.Creole on the other hand, is a blend of European, African, Caribbean, Native American and Hispanic cuisine. Many creole dishes are tomato based, while Cajun food is not. Creole dishes include a version of Jambalaya, authentic red beans and rice, Creole Chicken, crawfish, and more. Wondering where to find these delicious foods? Check out Mr. B’s Bistro, Café Sbisa, Mandina’s, and the bucket-list worthy Commander’s Palace

NOLA Festivals

New Orleans loves a good festival! If you’re looking to make your ears happy, then the Jazz and Heritage Festival is for you. People fly in from all over to attend this festival. Interested in learning a little culture through music? Then you’ll want to check out the VooDoo Music and Arts Experience or the Cajun Zydeco Festival. And let us not forget the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival where you can get the best of two worlds in one place– music and food.

Miami, Florida : A Beach-Worthy Vacation

If you’re looking for an entertaining vacation by the beach, then Miami, Florida is the city for you. Miami’s subtropical climate with short, warm winters, make it a highly desirable vacation destination. From islands and water sports to swimming and sunbathing, Miami’s beaches are clean, beautiful, and waiting for you. If you’re seeking a little relaxation in the sun, visit Miami!

Best Beaches

Miami has 20-miles of coastline making for the ideal beach destination. Looking for a family friendly and private beach experience, then you should check out Surfside beach on the North end. Maybe you’re looking for a little “freedom,” then you’ll want to go to Haulover Beach— it’s Miami’s famous nude beach! And of course, there’s always a good time to be had at the famous and iconic South Beach (SoBe)!

Nightlife

Looking for a party and a good time? Miami is filled with dance clubs and bars! Miami’s most popular and famous club is LIV Miami, which is known for celebrity sightings in its VIP section. Looking to be entertained? Then you’ll want to try E11even. This dance club by night, venue by day, is filled with neon lights, trapeze artists, burlesque dances, and celebrity performances. If you’re wanting something a little more seductive, Gold Rush has some of the best cabaret performers Miami has to offer. This is a very short list of your bar and club options, but Miami’s entertainment scene won’t disappoint.

Thank you so much Alex for the wonderful post! You can find more about Alex at WanderWithAlex.com

How to Plan Your Next Solo Trip

You’re finally taking the leap to go on your first solo trip. You’re excited, nervous, but excited. You’ve been scrolling through Pinterest, Travelgram, and Facebook Travel groups, you’re incredibly inspired. It’s now time to plan, but where do you start? What do you pack? What are you supposed to do? Well, first things first – read below and I’ll tell you how to plan your next Solo Trip.

1. Know Where You’re Going

This might seem like a given, but it is a vital step in planning your next trip. You know you want to go to Asia, but you’re not sure which country yet. Make a moodboard, brainstorm, scroll through Pinterest. Why do you want to travel? And what do you see most? What do you want to be doing on your trip? Surfing? Australia is a good choice. Visiting castles? Perhaps the UK. Find out what you want to see while travelling and settle on a country, or countries!

2. Research the Place You’re Going To

This goes hand in hand with point 1, however, this deserves to be a whole point. You know where you’re going, but you know nothing about that country. Yes, I have mentioned it before and I will mention it again – Facebook Travel Groups! This is a great way to find out the best places to visit in the country you’re going to. It’s also coming from real people who live there or have been there before. This goes with point 3 but look at itineraries to see what the best places to go to. I also recommend researching the more practical details about your destination, i.e., national language, main cities, etiquette that might be different from where you come from. Also, with COVID-19 being a pandemic across the world, you should check if you can actually get into the country. You’ll also need to check the climate – I don’t recommend thongs (aka flip flops) and shorts in Switzerland.

3. Start Making a Budget

This kind of goes with the next point, but making a budget should go first because you don’t want to book accommodation or activities you won’t be able to afford. This will also help you determine a lot about your trip – how you travel (i.e. car or train), where you stay (i.e. hotels or hostels), and kind of things you get up to. This also goes hand in hand with the above point. Research the country you want to go to and see if your budget will match up with how expensive that country is. If you don’t have a heap of money, then perhaps Switzerland wouldn’t be the best place – A 4 Star Hotel in Romania is $85 aud per night, a 4 Star Hotel in Switzerland is $500 aud per night. A Budget is definitely an important thing to do when you start planning.

4. Start making an Itinerary

You know where you’re going, you have your budget, now what will you be doing there? Make sure you know what your travel style is as you make your itinerary – do you like cruises? Or bus tours? Or travelling by train? These are all very important things to consider as they will impact how you organise your itinerary. I also recommend knowing which days you’ll go to certain places as this will ensure you won’t have any mishaps on your journey.

5. Get Organised

Depending on your destination, you might need a visa. You also might need to update your passport. Another thing to keep on top of is your vaccinations, especially with COVID-19 now spreading across the world, you’ll need to be prepared with vaccinations.

6. Find Your Accommodation

You should always book at least your first night of accommodation. This will allow you to have peace of mind when you arrive at your destination, and you won’t be looking for a place after a long journey – you’ll probably be exhausted. Also, if you’re travelling around during the summer then it’s likely that a lot of accommodation will be almost booked out or will be completely booked out. I also recommend finding accommodation that has at least 4/5 stars, or better 5/5, and make sure you research all accommodation options. You’ll want somewhere that’s close to the city centre and the train station – you don’t want to be walking alone at night back to your accommodation, especially when its far away. Plus, walking anywhere for ages is never fun when you’d rather spend the day exploring, rather then getting from Point A to Point B. I’d also recommend using Trip Advisor for reviews, these ones are the most honest and will be more factual to how the accommodation actually is. Once I trusted the reviews of Hostel World for a particular hostel in the South of England (I won’t name and shame but check out my trip advisor review for Bath Hostel). There was 1 toilet on my floor, I was in an 8 bedroom dorm and there were other dorms on my floor. The toilet sink was leaking. I couldn’t find the showers until the end of my stay there – they were 3 stories down and there were 3 showers between several dorms, which had between 4-8 beds each. Despite being in England, only 1 member of staff (out of atleast 8) spoke English – the rest pretended to speak to not speak English to the guests (and spoke English to other staff members). So, as a rule of thumb, do your research.

7. Give Your Trip Itinerary to a Trusted Person at Home

Now, this isn’t to make your loved ones at home jealous by reminding them you’re on holiday and they’re not, that is why you post on social media. I highly recommend giving a family member, or a trusty friend, your trip itinerary so someone knows where you are while you’re travelling. They will be able to know where you’re suppose to be and they’ll know where you’re suppose to be staying. In case you’re not where you’re suppose to be or something goes wrong, they have the right information to help you out.

8. Plan How You Will Feed Yourself

This is incredibly important as you’ll need to know where to get food, what kind of food your budget accomdates for – a good idea is to buy some basic items at the supermarket for breakfasts and lunches, and perhaps for some dinners as well, and then you can treat yourself to bakery breakfasts, pub feeds or a 5 star restaurant every now and again. I was once in Inverness when I didn’t plan my food properly – my hotel said they had room service and they didn’t, everything was closed, I hadn’t eaten much and all I had were shortbread biscuits. I tried ordering food from Uber Eats, but that had saved my hostel address in York so I accidentally ordered a Pizza in York and not in Inverness. By 1am I was incredibly hungry and there was nothing open, I also couldn’t afford to eat at the hotels restaurant. I learnt to budget more carefully, and to plan my meals while travelling!

9. Make sure you have planned to have fun!

This is where Pinterest, Google, and those trusty travel Facebook groups come back to good use. This may be a no-brainer, but actually, make sure you’re doing things you will enjoy. No point going to Stonehenge if you have no interest in it (btw I highly recommend it 😉). Don’t go to a place because it’s recommended by literally everyone, go to it because you’re generally interested in it. If you’re going to have more fun shopping in London than you would be by visiting Stonehenge, then go shopping (Stonehenge has been there for 3000 years, it can wait a few more days for you to visit…or not visit).  

10. Use Trip Advisor

You’ve probably heard of this amazing site, and if you haven’t used it for your travels yet then this is your hint to make an account. Wherever I go, I will always use Trip Advisor to be my trusty advisor to know about the place I am going. It is stacked full of reviews on almost everything, from accommodation to food to top tourist sites. The amazing thing is, it’s free and you can have an account, which will allow you to save, or favourite,

There you have it! My top tips for how to get started on planning your next solo trip. Of course, there is a lot more that goes into trip planning, but that’s for another post. Hopefully, these tips will help you get started and feel more confident about planning your next adventure.

Advice for Solo Travellers

Traveling solo has become a popular way to travel and is becoming more popular every day. As a young woman who has traveled solo before I can say that I have met some lifelong friends, made some of my favourite memories and I am keen to do it again when I can. The world beyond can be scary, which is a major reason why many women don’t travel solo. If you continue reading, then you’ll know why the world is worth exploring as a solo traveler.

1. Overcome your fears

I started travelling solo when I was 18, that year I turned 19, and through this year abroad I learnt that one of the most important things is overcoming your fears. You might be nervous to leave home alone, or perhaps you’re scared of flying. Any fear you have about travelling is perfectly reasonable, and the only way to overcome that is to do the experiences. Step out of your comfort zone atleast every day when you travel. Trust me, when you return home you will be grateful you did.

2. Make friends

Another amazing thing about travelling is the friends you make along the way, and sometimes the friends you make will be the people you didn’t expect to meet. When I was staying in Inverness, I did a day trip to Isle of Skye with Rabbies Tours. On there was another girl travelling solo from Texas. We bonded and spent the rest of the weekend exploring Inverness, then later explored Edinburgh together. We are still great friends and talk all the time, despite being in two different countries. The friends you make while travelling will be some of the coolest friends you’ll have – get out there, don’t be shy, overcome the fear of socializing and meet those people!

3. Planning

I can’t recommend this enough. This might sound like a given, but I highly recommend planning your days and weeks for your trip. Planning might take a while but knowing where you’re going for how long and how much it will cost is very important. On my last trip, I didn’t plan every single day so sometimes I found that there were no buses going that day or I got to a place and there wasn’t actually anything to do there. If you’re unsure about how to plan for your trip, you can read my post on How to Plan for Your Next Trip. A lot more goes into planning a holiday, especially if you want to do a lot while you’re traveling. I also recommend using Trip Advisor for your research.

4. Group Tours

This partly goes hand in hand with my last two points. Group Tours are an incredible way to travel, you can make friends – like I did at the Isle of Skye – and it’s a great way to get around. I recommend planning where and when you do group tours as they can book out quickly, especially during the summer when most tourists are around. Group tours are also a great way to see more of the area you are in and see place you wouldn’t be able get to by yourself. You also get a tour guide who knows so much more than the tour brochures you’ll find about the place you’re visiting. Although, I would recommend looking at reviews first. If you’re in the UK, I highly recommend Rabbies. I can’t recommend Group Tours enough!

5. Online Travel Groups

There are tonnes of travel groups online nowadays. I am apart of a few female travel groups and the support on these groups is incredible. You can learn heaps about travelling from these groups as the other members will be able to tell you so much about travel and the place you’re going to. You’ll also get the opportunity to meet new people. Say you’re going to a new city and you’ve never been there before, I can promise you there will be someone either living there or visiting at the same time as you. This is a great opportunity to meet new friends and to explore whichever place you’re in.

6. Safety is Key

This may be a given, but I know from my own experience, that it can be easy to relax about safety when you’re in specific places or with friends. Trust me, when you’re traveling you need to be alert. While it is important to have fun while you’re traveling and looking over your shoulder all the time can ruin your trip. However, take the necessary precautions to stay safe. This could include letting people at home where you are and giving them your itinerary, tell your accommodation where you’re going that day or when you plan to get back, knowing the emergency numbers, just to name a few. Also, make sure you keep your travel documents safe while traveling. Sometimes your accommodation will give you a safe in your room – some hostels give you a locker if you’re in a door. I recommend using these lockers, or safes, as you’ll know your precious things are safe in there while you’re exploring, just don’t forget to leave those things in there.

7. Check Out Your Accommodation

Imagine this: You arrive in a new city, its beautiful, you’re excited, you’ve never been here before. You get to your accommodation, you can’t find the bathrooms or the showers, the staff are rude, the rooms are messy, the other guests are creeping you out, and the beds are uncomfortable. Doesn’t sound great does it? Trust me on this, bad accommodation can put a dampener on the rest of your trip. I made the mistake of only reading reviews on a specific website – all 5 star reviews. The hostel was awful! After my stay there, I checked the reviews on trip advisor and the hostel had received 2 stars or less. I now know to always check the reviews of hostels – especially on trip advisor as most people here are quite honest.  

8. Know About the Country You’re Travelling To

Part of traveling to a new country is that it’s a new experience! Which is amazing! But something you should always do before traveling is to get to know the country a bit better. What is the national language? What is the best way to travel? How far apart are your destinations? Whereabouts are you staying? What are the emergency numbers, i.e., for the police? It’s always good to feel prepared before landing in the new country – you’ll be able to arrive feeling confident in a new place and you’ll have plenty of time to soak it up.

9. Bring a Good Camera + Save Your Pics!

These could have been two points, but I have added them into one point because they go hand in hand. Bring a good camera, or have a phone with a good camera, and save your pics somewhere – i.e. google drive, or a travel photo album. Trust me on this, in 5 years time when you’re in lockdown at home, or stuck at your desk at work, you will miss travelling and those memories will be saved for you to reminisce over.

10. Join a Pub Crawl

Much like the Group Tours, this is a great way to meet people – especially if you’re in a hostel. Bonus: If you’re in a hostel, then you’re hostel will probably organize a pub crawl – I recommend doing this one as you’ll meet people that are staying at the same hostel as you and they can be your travel buddies in your current destination. It’s also a great way to see the local area, see the night life and know the local pubs – you can revisit these pubs with your new travel buddies 😉.

11. Go On a Walking Tour

Similarly to the Pub Crawl, your hostel will probably organize one of these if you’re staying in one. If you’re not in a hostel, there are plenty of walking tours available, check out the local tourist centre or local areas website. Imagine a Walking Tour being a sober pub crawl…with less pubs. You can see the local area, soak up the culture, and see the sites. This is a great way to meet new travel buddies, or perhaps you met new friends last night on the Pub Crawl (unless you can’t remember meeting them, of course), and you all have decided to do this activity together. I can’t recommend doing this enough!

12. Always Arrive at Your Destination During the Day

It can be difficult to navigate a new city at night time, often you’re tired after a long journey, and it’s important to make life easy when you’re a solo traveler. Once I was travelling from my homeland of Australia to England and I needed to get from London to friends in the countryside. I made the mistake of getting to London in the late afternoon and I didn’t get to my friends until late at night, which meant I was incredibly tired when I got to London and I wasn’t completely awake when I was navigating the London Underground and trains. I have learnt my lesson and will always make sure I arrive in the day.

13. Print Out Your Flight Itinerary

Trust me! You need a physical copy, and you will need it on you! This is a great tip I’ve learned from my mum, who has traveled A LOT, and I am incredibly grateful. Having a physical copy of your flight itinerary on you will mean you won’t have to mess around on your phone, and you don’t have to worry about your phone running out of battery. This will make your life a lot easier when you’re at the airport. Alternatively, if you’re not traveling by plane and rather by boat or train, then I recommend printing out the itinerary for that.

14. Book At least Your First Night of Accommodation

This might seem like a given, but I’ve been in the situation when I didn’t book the accommodation until I arrived in the country. It was the middle of summer, everyone else was there, and there was limited accommodation. Never again will I do this. I managed to book a decent B&B, which had a great traditional breakfast, but I didn’t have the peace of mind of having a bed that night. If you do anything from this list, please do at least this point.

15. Always Pack Some Extra Room

One thing I have always struggled with when travelling is packing! I somehow manage to pack an almost empty suitcase and come back with my suitcase bursting at the seams. This can be avoidable in a few ways – you either pack less before you leave, or you don’t buy much when you’re travelling. If you’re like me and can’t resist a good deal, or can’t resist buying an extra pair of shoes that will definitely remind you of that one day on that one trip, then my number 1 packing tip is to pack sensibly and to not pack anything you definitely will not need overseas. Also, check the weight limits of the plane carrier you’re travelling with. I usually go with QANTAS and their limit for overseas travel is usually around 30kg (66 pounds) if you’re travelling in economy.

So there you have it, my advice for solo travelling. It is a bold step to take, but it is a step that’s worth taking. I would love to know more about your travel stories! Comment your thoughts below!

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8 Day Trips from London

You’re in London, you feel like you have explored this city back to front and you want to get out of the city. Are you considering a Day Trip? Excellent! I have the list for you. London is the gateway to England, and a lot of the UK, and is close to many English treasures. Most of these places are around 2 hours by train, but are easy enough to get to.

1. Stonehenge + Salisbury

1 hr 20 mins from London to Salisbury. 20 mins from Salisbury to Stonehenge.

Technically, Stonehenge can be done in half a day, so you could merge this day trip with another – I recommend Bath. Stonehenge, originally constructed in the Neolithic period, attracts hundreds of visitors a year (without COVID, obviously). It is incredibly interesting and I highly recommend visiting. While in Stonehenge, I recommend visiting Salisbury. You’ll have to stop here anyway to get to Stonehenge, so you have a perfect opportunity to explore this wonderful city.

2. Avebury

It takes 1 hr 50 mins to get from London to Avebury by train.

Much like Stonehenge, the Avebury stone circle is an ancient site built in the Neolithic period. However, there is a Tudor manor nearby and a pub down the road. I recommend staying at Avebury longer than you would at Stonehenge. There is plenty to do in this pretty village. The village is abundant with boutique stores. With the Celtic roots of Avebury, there are a lot of celtic, and withcy, type stores. You can easily spend a day, or afternoon/morning, in Avebury.

3. Bath

It takes 1 hr 20 minutes by train to get to Bath from London.

Bath is one of the most stunning towns near London. With lots to do, from shopping and historic sites, you won’t get bored in Bath. When you’re here, I highly recommend going to one of the boutique stores, a local café (my favourite is the Green Rocket), the Roman Baths, and the Bath Abbey. One of the amazing things about Bath is that it has many beautiful locally owned stores and cafes (plus some typical stores in the main square). The locals really cherish the local history of Bath and it shows through the local boutiques. The architecture is also amazing, as can be imagined, a lot of it is historic. If you wanted to, you could merge this trip with Castle Combe in the Cotswolds, if you have a car.

4. Cambridge

It takes around 1 hr to get to Cambridge from London.

Now, when asked about places to go in the UK most people will say Oxford and/or Cambridge. I have only been to Cambridge and I LOVED it. It is one of the oldest university towns in the UK and despite its history going back hundreds of years, this city has a modern charm mixed with its historic atmosphere. It’s most famous sites are the university buildings, which I recommend visiting, however, there is so much more to see. The Fitzwilliam Museum is incredibly interesting with its beautiful architecture and interiors, and an amazing collection of historical artefacts. I also recommend going punting! For those not familiar with this term, it’s similar to going on a gondola ride. You go in a low lying boat, a punt, and you can row yourself down the river Cam or get a Punter to row for you.

There are many trains going to Cambridge from London and is very easy to get to.

5. Surrey

It takes about 50 mins by train to get from London to Woking.

Surrey will always be close to my heart as I have visited this beautiful county several times when visiting family friends. This county is filled with beautiful hiking treks, stunning villages, and national trust treasures. Surrey is also the home to Wisley, the headquarters of the Royal Horticultural Society, which is amazing to visit. I recommend visiting one of the National Trust houses and gardens, which are hold collections of art, and sometimes might have a farm shop. My favourite little village is Shere, here you can get a nice ice-cream or have a wonderful pub meal.

6. Windsor

From London, it will take you around 55 mins by train.

Windsor, the weekend home of Queen Elizabeth II and her late husband Prince Phillip. With just a train ride away from London, Windsor is the perfect day out. Windsor Castle alone can take up 2-3 hours, the rest of the day can be spent exploring this beautiful city. You could try one of the great local pubs, the LegoLand Resort, or St Georges Chapel. This city is absolutely beautiful and I highly recommend taking the time to soak up the history of this town.

7. Hampton Court Palace

It takes about 40 minutes by train to get to Hampton Court from London.

The United Kingdom boasts an array of incredible palaces and castles, but one iconic palace is Hampton Court. Henry VIII lived here with Anne Boleyn, after the Tudor times, it was occupied by the Hanoverians who built extensions onto the original Tudor buildings. This palace is a sight to behold. From the many beautiful royal rooms to the servant kitchens to the beautiful gardens, a visit to Hampton Court would be a day well spent.

8. Cotswolds

1 hr from London to Chippenham. 20 mins from Chippenham to Castle Combe.

Named an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for a reason, the Cotswolds is one of the most stunning regions of England with iconic little villages and beautiful countryside. On my visit I went to Castle Combe, which is incredibly stunning and I recommend putting it on your list, I recommend spending 2 hours here. However, little did I know, there was a lot more of the Cotswolds I could see in a day. Other must-see villages include Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water, and Lower Slaughter. It takes about 2 hours to get to the Cotswolds from London. It might be more difficult to see the entirety of the Cotswolds if you don’t have a car, however, Castle Combe is easy to get to via bus and train from London.

I hope you liked this travel guide to Day Trips from London. I would love to hear your travel stories! Please share your thoughts below.

8 Must Read Cozy Books

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Have you ever found yourself trapped inside on a cold, snowy, or rainy day? Or perhaps you need another cosy read before you go to bed? I often find myself scrolling through book lists and Goodreads to find the perfect cosy read to lose myself in. I have found 8 books that you will love! They aren’t all bestsellers, but they are the best cosy reads I have found so far.


The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

This story is a bit different from the rest and has not been recommended enough! Based in Botswana, the story follows Mma Romatswe – the only female private detective in the country. She can solve anything! From con men to missing husbands, she’s can get to the bottom of it. This is such a brilliant read, and it is part of a series! If you haven’t read it yet, then take this as your sign to buy it.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

An absolute classic! This is one of my favourite books! The perfect read for a rainy day, or when you are wrapped up in a blanket but still need an adventure. If you are a lover of fantasy but you don’t feel like dedicating yourself to a huge read or a big series, then this is perfect. The Hobbit follows the story of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, who is taken on an adventure to take back the home of Dwarves from a greedy dragon. Sounds perfect, right?

The French Gardener by Santa Montefiore

Do you like stories set in the countryside? What about stories filled with the perfect amount of intrigue and romance? Then this is the book for you. I’ve read a few of Santa Montefiore’s books, but this is my favourite so far. The story follows two women who live in a country house in Devon, UK – Miranda Claybourne in 2004, and Ava Lightly in the 1980s. When a french gardener visits them, in both time periods, both women find their life-changing – and possibly for the better.

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death

Top London PR Agent to local Cotswolds Slueth, this story follows Agatha Raisin as she moves to the Cotswolds from London and becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation. She puts her top notch investigating skills to work and tries to clear her name. This story is charming and absolutely love the rest of the series. I highly recommend it!

The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

Based in the last year of World War 1, this book is a heartwarming story with a bit of adventure and lots of love. It follows Emily Bryce as she tries to make a difference for her country after leaving the comforts of her family estate and her strict parents. She becomes a land girl, falls in love and finds an old mystery. This is such a beautiful story, and one I would recommend reading for your next cosy read.

The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith

Another book by Alexander McCall Smith! This book is very different to the other book written by McCall Smith, but it’s just as good. Based in Edinburgh, this book follows the adventure of Isabel Dalhousie, the editor in chief of ‘Review of Applied Ethics’, after she sees a man fall from the upper circle of a concert hall. Of course, she must investigate, but she also must do this against the advice of her close friends and family. This book is also the first in a series! So if you loved this one, you’ll have other stories to fall in love with.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Do you like heartwarming stories? Well, do I have a story for you! This was first recommended to me by my mother and I am glad she did. This is a fantastic read, and one that can be read in a day or two. It’s the 1960s, and Lily Owens, a resident of South Carolina, lost her mother when she was young. After Rosaleen, her stand in mother, is arrested, Lily sets them both free and sets off to Tiburon, which might have the secrets to her mothers past. Intrigued? I bet! This is such a beautiful book, and a perfect cosy read.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Another classic! You may have seen the Narnia films, or have heard of them. Have you heard of the books? This book, which the first Narnia film is based on, is such a brilliant cosy read. It is an adventure from start to finish as the Pevensie siblings are sent away from home during the London Blitz and then as they discover the world of Narnia. As one installment in the Chronicles of Narnia, there is more to be explored, but this story is the perfect choice for a cosy read.

Did you like this reading list? I hope you found your next cozy read. Let me know your thoughts! Have you read any of these, or do you have any cozy book recommendations?

9 Best Historical Fiction Reads

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Have you ever wanted to jump through time and live in a different era? Or have you ever wanted to live in a different time period for just a day? Or perhaps you’re looking for a book full of intrigue, drama, and a bit of history? If you said yes to any of these, then you’re probably like me and a huge Historical Fiction fan. If so, continue on reading! Below is a list of 9 Historical Fiction books I couldn’t put down.


1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

My absolute favourite! I absolutely love Scotland and this book is the perfect read for other lovers of Scotland! It is a series and follows Claire Randall, an army nurse, goes to the Scottish Highlands with her husband Frank after the Second World War only to go through time to 1743. Caught amidst danger, she must put her faith in the scot James Alexander Malcom Fraser. And the rest is history…


2. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

I love the Tudor and Plantanaget periods and Philippa Gregory would have to be my favourite Historical Fiction Author. I hear a lot of people complaining about her books, but that’s because they don’t see the fiction side of it. I absolutely love The White Queen. This particular book focuses on Elizabeth Woodville, who marries Edward IV, and it is entrancing from the start!


3. Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Now for something slightly different – most books on this list are medieval or modern historical fiction, except this one. This story focuses on Briseis and her experiences in the Trojan War, with the majority of the book focusing on her relationships with Achilles and other women prisoners of the Greeks. If you like a bit of romance and female of empowerment, then this is the book for you!


4. The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

Another series, The Last Kingdom focuses on Uhtred of Bebbanburg, an anglo-saxon raised by vikings who eventually becomes a soldier for King Alfred the Great. Torn between the Vikings who raised him, who don’t see him as a proper viking, and his people the Anglo-Saxons, who see him as a pagan viking, Uhtred must find his way back home to Bebbanburg. The books are beautifully written and I was properly hooked from the start. This book is also made into a Netflix series.


5. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Also written by Philippa Gregory, The Other Boleyn Girl might be one of the most popular or famous historical fiction novels – and for the right reason, this book is incredible. Tudor lovers will love this book! As you may have guessed, this book is about Anne Boleyn, but not just her, the story follows Anne’s big sister, Mary Boleyn, and the story is told through her eyes – hence ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’. It starts with Henrys first interest in the Boleyns, and ends with Anne’s downfall. The History is well executed (excuse the pun), although, much like other historical fiction novels, there is a lot of creative licence. This is one of my favourites mainly because of how wonderful Gregory can spin a story, and she did it well with this one.


6. The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

Originally published in the early 2000s, this series has become a big hit in the last year. Thanks to Netflix, this series has become a massive hit. The series focuses on the Bridgerton siblings, with each sibling having their own book to star in, and is set in the Regency period. The first book follows Daphne Bridgerton, the fourth sibling and eldest daughter, as she embarks on her first social season. There she meets the charming, yet mysterious and troubled, Duke of Hastings. They strike a deal to ensure she gets more suitors in the social season and he gets left alone by all the pestering mothers. Will their relationship grow into something else?


7. The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

I would apologise for having so many Philippa Gregory books on this list, however, I am not that sorry. The Lady of the Rivers is another amazing book, this time, Gregory writes a story following Jacquetta of Luxembourg, mother to Elizabeth Woodville (the White Queen). Jacquetta wasn’t just amazing because of her daughter, she was incredible in her own right and Gregory writes her story well. With a mix of romance, magic, drama and intrique, this story should be on everyones Historical Fiction to-read list!


8. The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

Based during World War 1, this book follows Emily Bryce as she tries to break away from her comfortable life with her aristocratic parents by becoming a land girl for the war effort. After falling in love with a soldier, and finding a secret garden, Emily finds her place in the world. This book is a beautiful read and it is one of my favourites because it has a perfect mix of drama and romance, all within a historical setting.


9. The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

The Essex Serpent is a very unique story that I absolutely loved. Filled with myth, love and friendship, this is such a powerful story. This book, set in the 1890s, follows Cora Seaborne and her family as she moves to Essex. On her arrival she discovers the myths of the ‘Essex Serpent’. With her scientific intuition, she must find the truth. This epic journey will hook you from the start.

Did you like this list? I hope you found your next Historical Fiction read. I know they are mostly Euro-Focused but I definitely loved them all! If you’ve read them comment below your thoughts! Do you have any historical fiction recommendations?

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8 Podcasts to Listen to on Your Next Roadtrip

Have you ever gotten bored on a road trip after listening to the same music over and over again? Are you a sucker for a good podcast? If yes, then you will love these 8 podcasts to accompany you on your road trip. I have been on many road trips, including several around Australia. Throughout my travels, I have discovered many great podcasts that my whole family enjoys. These podcasts have kept me entertained for hours. Continue reading to find 8 essential podcasts to listen to on your road trip!

8 Podcasts to Listen to on Your Next Road Trip

1. Ologies by Alie Ward

Alie Ward, or Dad Ward as she is known by her fans, is a keen science fanatic and has created this amazing, educational podcast – Ologies. You may have heard of this podcast before, and if you’re not listening to it yet then take this post as your sign to start following this podcast now. Each week Ologies focuses on a new ‘Ology’ and Alie Ward interviews an expert in that field, also known as an ‘Ologist’. From vulcanology to conservation biology to mythology, this incredibly fun podcast has something for everyone. Alie Ward presents the podcast in an incredibly fun way, she is enthusiastic and she hosts each episode that’s understandable for her audience. Science is for everyone and Alie Ward makes sure of that! There is definitely a reason why I put this podcast as #1 on this list, Alie Ward is probably the best podcast host I have listened to – each episode is incredibly fun, educational, and interesting. To listen to ‘Ologies’ you will be able to find it on any podcast platform.

2. The British History Podcast

If you love British then listen to ‘The British History Podcast’ hosted by James Jeffers. Much like ‘Ologies’, this podcast is a lot of fun and very educational. The British History Podcast, or BHP, isn’t your average podcast. The host James goes into Britain’s history right from the start – the Ice Age – and is currently in the year 1050 at episode 365. If you like history but often find it’s dry and boring, then you need to listen to this podcast. Jeffers presents this podcast so that everyone can enjoy history, even the people who don’t consider themselves ‘history nerds’. With no sign of finishing the podcast soon (there is still another 1000 years of history to do), James Jeffers hosts an amazing podcast to accompany you on your road trip. Like Ologies, it’s on most podcast platforms.

3. Girl Taken

Do you like true stories filled with drama? If so, Girl Taken is a gripping story from start to finish and right for you! Hosted by BBC journalist Sue Mitchell and ex-soldier Rob Lawrie, this story follows the two hosts who investigate the story of a refugee girl who was taken from her home in the Middle East and went on a journey to western Europe. On top of that, it’s all true – Sue Mitchell and Rob Lawrie were close with the girl who was taken, making their story even more heart-warming. It may be an intense podcast but this podcast is worth listening to. With 10 episodes at approx. 40 minutes each, this show is a brilliant way to keep you going on your next road trip. 

4. Australian True Crime

For those of you that like a good crime story, then True Crime Australia is a great podcast for you. As the title suggests, the hosts Meshel Laurie and Emily Webb discuss different crimes that have taken place in Australia, but there are a few international ones as well. This podcast is not for the faint-hearted – after a few episodes, my family and I had to change to a lighter podcast on our latest road trip. I recommend reading the episode descriptions before listening in case of any content warnings. Despite the heavy content, it is an interesting podcast! With true stories from decades ago, to more modern cases, this podcast includes gripping crime storys – solved and unsolved. With 192 episodes so far, this podcast is a great show to listen to on the road.

5. Stuff the British Stole

Another podcast for the history fans, ‘Stuff the British Stole’ hosted by Marc Fennell shines a light on the darker side of British history. As the title suggests, this podcast talks about what the British Empire stole from places around the world – including a toy tiger from India, the Gweagal Shield from Australia, and much more. The host Marc Fennell takes listeners around the world to talk about the artifacts the British stole and now keeps in museums. This is a fairly new podcast so the episodes are still rolling out, but so far It is incredibly interesting and definitely worth a listen. The host presents this podcast beautifully, and deals with the issues of colonialism tastefully. If you are interested in the harsher and darker side of history, I recommend listening to this podcast.

6. Life Uncut

Now for something slightly different, Life Uncut is hosted by Brittany Hockley and Laura Byrne. Have you heard of them? If so, you would remember them from Australia’s The Bachelor. If you are like me, this podcast would be the first time you’ve heard their names. I’m not a big reality TV fan and this podcast is the first show I’ve listened to that focuses on all things lifestyle. However, I loved it! With their great sense of humour, the hosts present a down to earth show about identity, relationships, life and a bunch of other stuff. With over 50 episodes, this is a great show to listen to on your next road trip with the girls.

7. Body on the Moor

Do you like True Crime? Are you looking for a podcast you can finish in one road trip? If yes, then you’ll like Body on the Moor. Jon Manel from the BBC follows the police inquiry to find out more about a body that is found on a moor in the Peak District UK. With 7 episodes that are 10 minutes each, this podcast is great if you want to finish the show before your road trip ends. Based on true events, this show is enthralling and I can’t recommend it enough! Like the other podcasts on this list, it can be found on most podcast platforms, including Spotify.

8. How to Fail with Elizabeth Day

Do you need some motivation in life? Look no further than ‘How to Fail with Elizabeth Day’, hosted by Elizabeth Day – a novelist and journalist. Each week Elizabeth Day interviews someone successful and discusses three failures in their life. This may sound like it is very unmotivating, but after each interview with a new successful person, you’ll find yourself becoming more and more inspired. From Pheobe Waller-Bridge, the writer of Fleabag, to Emma Barnett, the host of BBC 4’s Women’s Hour, this podcast has 10 seasons full of successful people talking about their failures. As a student who is starting out in life, I found this podcast incredible and deeply moving. I highly recommend listening to this podcast.

So there’s my top 8 podcasts to listen to while you’re on the road. Whether you like history, true crime, lifestyle, or something else, I hope this list has a few podcasts you will listen to when you go off on your next trip. I love to travel, but sometimes sitting in a car for hours and hours can get really draining. With these 8 podcasts, I can survive any long day on the road. If you have any other recommendations, I would love to hear them, so please comment below with your favourite podcasts!

Talk soon!

Hils