TRAVEL – trek america’s grand trek: las vegas

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegasSo 22 days with our Northern Trail family has passed. Jules left in San Fran, Holly headed to the airport yesterday and today we said goodbye to the boys as they head on their Grand Canyon mini tour. After a few hugs goodbye, we met our new trek leader Morgan and found out that we’d be doing the Southern Sun tour as an eight – so no new people and no awkwardness!

After filling in loads of paperwork, we loaded our stuff in the new van where it finally dawned on us just how much space we have! We took a row up of chairs each and Morgan even gave us blankets so we could sleep in comfort! Ahh perfect! It was a long drive to Vegas, but we powered through and arrived in in good time. Can I just say, it was so hot! In fact it was 47c! We dropped our bags off in our rooms at the Golden Nugget casino hotel and had a quick look around before getting ready for a pizza party in Morgan’s room.

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegas - party bustravel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegas - welcome to las vegas sign nightthe party bus, welcome to las vegas signlinebreak

When it was time to head out, we were greeted by a 26 seater party bus (did I mention that there were only 8 of us?) It was so much fun to let our hair loose and dance! Making our way through the strip we stopped off a the Mirage and saw the volcanos erupt, we stopped for a photo at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign before completing our party bus ride at the famous Bellagio Fountains which were just as spectacular as I had expected. It was then time to hit the clubs but unfortunately Matty couldn’t get in with his shorts and David’s ID had expired so we decided to head back to the hotel, with the girls getting food and Matty and Dave hitting the strip clubs. Classic!

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After last night’s antics and an amazing lay in this morning, me and Polly got ready, had a quick Starbucks by the pool and went back to the Welcome to Las Vegas sign again for a daylight tourist pic. Then it was onto the strip for some sightseeing! Me, Bobbi, Polly and Kirsty all hung out and headed to the Minus 5 ice bar for a cool down (like I mentioned yesterday, Vegas is one hot place!) It was such a fun experience, we all got a cocktail in an ice glass and chilled (literally!)

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegas - welcome to las vegas sign daytravel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegas = new yorkme and polly at the las vegas sign, new york new york
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Once we cooled down, we did a mini tour of the famous hotels starting with New York New York and the MGM where we stopped for lunch at possibly the coolest café I’ve ever been to – the rainforest café. It had fake thunderstorms, animals making noises and was such an amazing place! Despite being full from our main courses, we all thought it was a good idea to get ‘the volcano’ for $4 each – it was literally a chocolate volcano with brownies, ice cream and whipped cream – so sweet yet sickly! We even left half of it as we were so full aha!

travel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegas - mgm grand rainforest cafetravel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegas - bellagio fountains in the daytravel - trekamericas grand trek day 23 and 24 las vegas- flamingo hotelmgm grand rainforest cafe, bellagio fountains, flamingo hotel
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We then hit the Bellagio fountains again to see them in the daytime. They were just as spectacular as they were at night! Caesar’s Palace was next – I felt like I was in The Hangover (but maybe Dave and Matty had them roles today aha). Our tour ended at the Flamingo hotel where you guessed it, we saw flamingos! It was so cool to visit all of the hotels on the strip and Vegas is exactly like what you’d imagine it to be- like another world!

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After our little tour, me and Polly headed back to the hotel and chilled at the pool which was so nice! The Golden Nugget even had a shark slide (a water slide which goes through a shark tank) which was so cool so we just had to have a go!

We then headed back to our room and got ready for a night out in Downtown Vegas. On the way to Fremont Street, we stopped by the casinos so we can tick off ‘gambling in Vegas’ off of our bucket list! It was then onto the bars – Common Wealth, Griffin and Golden Spike which were really trendy, local bars and it was so nice to be with the locals – we even got some of our drinks paid for! Griffin was our favourite place which was like an indie bar and up our street, with Golden Spike being another fave – we even took advantage of its’ photobooth and in the bar’s garden it had oversized games such as beer pong, cornhole and ping pong!

It was so nice to do our own thing tonight and party it up local style! Bring on plenty of naps in the van tomorrow as it’s Zion time!

sigyhl

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TRAVEL – trek america tour tips

travel - trekamerica tour tipsYou may be aware that I spent the past two months travelling around America with trekamerica, and I cannot recommend them enough! Here are my top tips if you’re considering or have already booked yourself onto a tour.

1) Take a suitcase.  You might want to live the stereotypical ‘traveller/backpacker’ dream, but give your back a break (trust me, it will get a workout if you’re hiking) and invest in a suitcase! You can not only fit more clothes in it, you will also have more room for the inevitable souvenirs that you will buy! I personally took a hardshell suitcase which definitely came in handy when there were torrential downpours and some of the tents got flooded!

2) Take insect repellant with at least 50% DEET. Believe it or not, mosquitoes and ticks live in America. And they just love your skin. When you arrive at camp, DEET. When you just come out of the shower, DEET. When you’re in Lafayette, DEET. (I forgot to DEET in Lafayette, and my legs are still recovering now). Just remember to DEET.

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3) Buy a pillow when you get there. If you’re camping, invest in a $2 pillow from Walmart when you arrive. You already have to sleep on the ground, why make it more uncomfortable without a cheap fluffy pillow?

4) Take a head torch (and batteries). You never know when you might need to put your tent up in the dark (as we found out in Jackson, Wyoming). Luckily for me and Polly, we had built our tent about 15 times before then and mastered the art of tent erecting in the dark perfectly. But a head torch does help. It also helps for late night trips to the toilets too…

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5) Invest in a good waterproof jacket. If the rain curse decides to follow you on your tour (like it did ours), a waterproof jacket is a must-have!

6) Take hiking boots. These guys will especially come in handy if you’re visiting any of the National Parks. I bought these waterproof Gelert high top boots from Sports Direct, and they were great not only for walking, but for when you’re cooking in ankle deep water! (as we discovered in Cedar Point, Ohio!)

7) It will get cold. Cold you say!? Yup, it does get cold in America, especially at night! So make sure you pack yourself a comfy hoodie (this will be your campsite and van drive essential) and some fluffy cosy socks to keep those tootsies warm!

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8) Flip flops are a must! At first, you will use them for when you visit the showers, but as the trip goes on, they literally become your footwear staple (aside from hiking boots) and you will wear them everywhere! You can thank me for this tidbit later…

9) Be prepared to tip! The American minimum wage is $2.13p/h. Without tips, the amazing waiter who served you your beautiful food won’t be able to pay their rent or even buy food of their own. So don’t forget to tip your waiters (between 15-20%), and to also tip a $1 to the bartender per drink. (Tipping bartenders also ensures you’ll get their attention first and maybe a little stronger tipple in your drink the next time you head to the bar)

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10) If you’re gonna start a prank war, make sure you execute your ideas perfectly! As me and Polly learnt on our Northern Trail trip! After a triumphant first round taking the tarp off the boys’ tent, our pranking then went down hill. (Note to self: Flip flops and giggles will give the game away)

11) You will make friends! Most of the people on your tour will be solo travellers and will be in the same boat as you. But after the first van ride, you will become so close (you’re literally spending 24/7 with them), that you will get on with somebody! One conversation starter is: ‘what place are you looking forward to visiting the most?’

There you go! I hope this helps anyone who is considering or has already booked a trekamerica tour! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments below!

sigyhl

Keep up to date on the following channels:

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TRAVEL – trek america’s grand trek instagram snaps week four

travel - grand trek insta snaps week four

It’s the fourth week of our trip and that officially marks the end of our Northern Trail tour!

travel - grand trek - trek family and universal studios hollywood The Northern Trail family / Universal Studios, LA

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linebreaktravel - grand trek - grand canyon and monument valley Sat on top of the Grand Canyon / Sunrise at Monument Valley

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After three weeks of rain, pranking and hiking, the Northern Trail finally came to an end in LA. We spent the last couple of days there at a baseball game (let’s go Dodgers, let’s go!) and on our free day; a few of us went to Universal Studios, whilst the rest hit Venice Beach. It was so sad the next morning saying goodbye to our friends but we had one thing to keep us going – Viva Las Vegas! What can I say? Vegas was incredible! The Bellagio Fountains were just as I imagined (amazing!) and it’s safe to say, we all had a good time there! We then conquered Angel’s Landing in Zion – one of the most strenuous and dangerous trails in America’s national park system – something of which I am incredibly proud of! The next couple of days were spent at the Grand Canyon, where most of us pretty much chilled out and took in the views. (And did the last and final hike of the trip, yay!) The week ended on a high at Monument Valley, which was one of the most incredible things I have ever experienced! We slept under the stars, had a traditional Navajo dinner, danced and did a jeep tour of the valley. The first week of the Southern Sun tour has been amazing so far, and I cannot wait for the next few stops to come – Austin, New Orleans and Nashville! 

Stay up to date with all the latest goings-on with my USA trip on instagram – @sazwatson.

sigyhl

Keep up to date on the following channels:

Follow me on twitter - sazwatson Keep up to date with my adventures on instagram - sazwatson Find out what inspires me on pinterest - sazwatson

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