Tipping in America -The European Perspective & Debate

Hey Sweeties,

I want to discuss today, tipping in America. Having just returned from my trip with Trek America touring the west coast (read my diary here), it was very much a focus on conversation throughout the trip and while we were well briefed about the tipping culture in the USA, we Brits will never quite be on board with this.

I have been to America before –New York and Las Vegas, but having not understood tipping, I didn’t do it as fully as I should have done but during my last trip, being educated about tipping from an actual American provided some much needed context to the culture and thus, changed how I did it.

Tipping in America

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Pacific Coast, LA & Tour Summary | Trek America Diary Days 13-14

Catch up with my Trek America trip so far, days 1-4, 5-7, 8-10 and 11-12.

Day 13 –Pacific Coast & Halloween Party

At the beginning of each day before we head off in the van (unless it’s a free day and we’re not driving anywhere), Lana always shows us the map and talks us through the route that we’re needing to do to get to our next destination. Until this point, we’ve mostly driven across very basic landscapes which I’m not going to lie, is quite boring. However, having been the DJ for the last week (which means I sit at the front with Lana organising the soundtrack for the day –tougher than it sounds when you have an audience to please!), I haven’t been able to just nod off when I like. So it always amuses me when Lana says (to everyone), “you can fall asleep for this first part, but make sure you’re awake and looking at the views through the second part” because I can guarantee you, I want to fall asleep when the view finally gets interesting!

The Pacific Coast, is beautiful! Quite twisty turny so while I get a little bit travel sick, I was grateful for sitting in the front but the west coast is honestly, stunning. But a bit like when we were travelling through Yosemite I had my eyes peeled for bears, the Pacific Coast is all about whale watching and looking intensely at the sea as you’re driving along and questioning every suspicious looking object and ripple is tiring!!

I’ll let some pictures do the talking for a min of the Pacific Coast (Big Sur)…

Trek America Pacific Coast

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American Beauty Wishlist

Hey Sweeties,

As you’re reading this, I am away travelling along the west coast with Trek America and no doubt having the time of my life. Unlike previous trips to the states (New York & Las Vegas) where I have gone prepared to shop, New York particularly. I haven’t gone on Trek America to shop, I have gone for the experience of travelling and seeing the parts of the west coast I would be unlikely to see if I wasn’t on a tour. That being said, this won’t stop me running at force towards a Sephora, Ulta or Target when I see them so with that in mind, I have created an American beauty wishlist.

USA beauty Wishlist

  1. Kat Von D liquid lipsticks
  2. Sigma makeup brushes
  3. Lorac Pro Palette
  4. Too Faced Love Flush Long Lasting 16-hour Blush
  5. Tarte Light of the Party Collector’s Makeup Case
  6. Origins Bestsellers Set

Since Bourjois released their Rouge Edition Velvet lipsticks (review here), I have been on a quest to find other liquid lipsticks that can match the staying power and I have heard these lipsticks by Kat Von D, might just be that. With my wedding happening next April, I do not want the hassle of a traditional lipstick -constantly touching up or not able to properly kiss my husband in fear of leaving marks all over his face and mine (lol!).

For the last couple of months I have had to apply my foundation with my fingers, which isn’t always a bad thing, but I really am missing the niceness of being able to blend with a face brush. Basically my Real Techniques buffing brush gradually malted its way to a sorry retirement and my expert face brush, despite cleaning will just not return to its original form. Rather than replace them, I have actually seen this as an opportunity to try a new brand and I have been keen to try Sigma brushes for a while.

Do I really need to explain my desire to get my hands on the Lorac Pro palette? Think not.

I have two products from Too Faced so far (the pink leopard blushing bronzer & foundation powder) and I want more. Both of my existing products have probably come with me on my trip as although I don’t want to be without makeup, I certainly don’t need anything heavy as it’ll still be hot and for the most part I am travelling between city locations and won’t really need anything. I love this Love Flush Long Lasting Blush as collectively with the packaging, it looks beautiful.

When I asked on Twitter last week any suggestions for beauty products to try and seek out, I was advised to take a look at the value sets available in Sephora, which I didI love the look of this collector’s set from Tarte -again another brand I have been eager to try for a long time, and the set from Origins which above anything else, looks to be fantastic value. I will definitely try to seek more of these sets out if I get the opportunity!

There will no doubt be an American Haul post coming on here soon so stay tuned and see what -if anything- I manage to bring back!

Until next time x

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Trek America: My Say Yes Tour & The Beginning of a New Adventure

Hey Sweeties,

As you are reading this I am somewhere in Los Angeles having just begun my Westerner 2 tour with Trek America; 14 days of sightseeing and travelling up and back the west coast of America, visiting LA, San Diego, The Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Yosemite National Park & San Francisco amongst many other destinations in between, before returning to LA and flying home.

I hope as you’re reading this, all pre-trip nerves were left at Heathrow and I am now with my fellow group of trekkers, wondering what the hell I was so worried about. I can only predict that being driven to the airport yesterday morning was hugely distressing and Ian no doubt left me in tears, but I hope that once I got through the doors, I gave myself a good slap and made myself see the amazing Trek America adventure I am about to embark on, and not to fear it.

Trek America

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America’s Playground – Visiting Las Vegas & What to do There

Hey Sweeties,

It’s been a little while since my last #tbt post where I told you about my trips to New York City (here), but while I sit here shivering in my cold house I wanted reminding of hotter times and my holiday to Las Vegas sprung to mind!

Las Vegas

I went to Las Vegas with my parents and Ian in October 2013 for a week and it was amazing. Las Vegas is one of those places where you can’t really explain it without actually going there yourself. The saying “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” couldn’t be more true but one of the things that people seem to assume is that all Las Vegas is good for is gambling. Yes there are casinos and slot machines littered up and down the strip and in all the hotels but -and believe me here- you can go to Vegas and not have to step into one single casino if you don’t want to, there is so much else to see and do, the trip guides really don’t do the place justice.

My parents have been a few times before (and since) -they just love the place! Ian and I hadn’t been before and aside from wanting to see everything we could, there were two main things Ian and I wanted to do -1. visit the Grand Canyon (ideally by helicopter) and 2. catch a show so we got these things planned and booked in straight away. This is also what I had budgeted most of my spending money for as unlike New York City, you don’t go to Las Vegas to shop, you go for experiences.

Unfortunately taking a helicopter flight out to the Grand Canyon was just too expensive  so we had to settle for a small plane. We were also visiting when most of the national parks were shut owing to some kind of strike -I know, great timing! But tours to the western rim of the Canyon were still taking place so the following day after booking we were picked up very early and taken by mini bus to the air base where all the tour flights for the canyon took off from. Once we were checked in we were soon on board a tiny little plane (and I mean tiny) and jetted off towards the Canyon! Woohoo!

Las Vegas

We were on a tour that took us to three visitor attractions but most people only stopped at two. The first was a small little Indian/cowboy ranch where you could ride out from on horse back (which I was gutted not to do to be honest), before making our way to the Canyon. To say the place is breathtaking is honestly, not even close to what you feel when you are stood looking out onto miles and miles and miles of open space. The place is utterly incredible and no words written here will ever do it justice. I strongly urge all of you to make this trip at least once in your lifetime!

Grand Canyon

grand canyon

Grand Canyon

For extra $ you could go onto the ‘Skywalk’… not one for those scared of heights!

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the most breathtaking places in the world!

The second thing Ian and I wanted to do was see a show and Ian was keen to see the Blue Man Group which we managed to do and was just fantastic. Again, like much of Vegas it’s hard to describe exactly what it is but essentially it’s three men dressed up in blue and they make music out of all these weird objects and things (Google it!). It’s quite bizarre but in equal proportion completely brilliant! Well worth catching if you can, I think they do tour elsewhere, not just Las Vegas!

When not visiting the Canyon, or seeing a show, the rest of your time should be spent walking up and down the strip going in and out of all the hotels, these are literally places in themselves. All the hotels are themed (all fantastically so) and inside there are shops, resaurants, aquariums in some cases and everything else you can imagine ( & not imagine) and visiting each of these can easily take up all your time not to mention make you feel that you are anywhere but in Vegas.

New York New York

Towards the end of the week, once we had done all the key things we wanted to do, we were left filling in the gaps such as, the rollercoaster outside of New York New York. Now, I am not great on rides and things but I’ll do them as long as they aren’t too ridiculous so without much thought we went on the rollercoaster. Never have I laughed so nervously the whole way round! Ian found me hilarious but rather than scream with terror I just laughed as we hurtled up, down and even upside down on this thing! Mental!

Las Vegas Rollercoaster

Word to the wise, always worth watching the rollercoaster before you go on it!

Las Vegas

By night, Las Vegas becomes something else, a real playground for adults! Some of the hotels put on special shows that repeat throughout the night (and day) and up and down the strip things that are invisible during the day come to life -look out for the exploding volcano! One of the most beautiful spectacular sights are the famous fountains outside of the Bellagio hotel -jets of water soar into the sky and dance to music! Doesn’t matter how many times you walk past, you can’t but not stop and watch the fountains do their thing. One of the evenings we were there my parents treated Ian and I to a meal at the Eiffel Tower restaurant and we were sat right by the window which had a birds eye view of the fountains. Beautiful!

Treasure Island Las Vegas

Las Vegas Fountains

The fountain shows are fantastic

An area that Ian really wasn’t keen on (understandably) were the wedding chapels that are situated at the very end of the strip in the older part of the town that I made him let me go and have a look at. These really have to be seen as they are classic Vegas and if you don’t think of gambling, you think of the little white chapel when you conjure up images of Las Vegas. If I had my way, I honestly would get married in one of them as I just think how funny and memorable! The place isn’t all sleeze and you could actually have a really good wedding day there if you mixed a chapel with one of the more expensive up market hotels. I was desperately trying to persuade my parents to renew their vows (in front of Elvis) but they were having none of it… pair of spoil sports!

Little White chapel

Who wouldn’t want to get married by Elvis?!

Reminding myself about this trip makes me all the more excited for my Trek America vacation in October this year where for a couple of days I will be going back to Las Vegas, but with a totally new group of people. This will mean I get a completely different experience of the place and I for one cannot wait!

Until next time x

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