Wanderer

Tips for a Movie-Worthy Road Trip…

We’ve all seen a road trip movie and thought, ok, that’s what I want, right?

I think road trips never work as well anywhere but America. Something about narrow roads, roadworks and swerving around potholes rather kills it for me. It’s supposed to be about open top Cadillacs or Mustangs, long, long straight roads, a group of friends with a tendency to scream ‘wooo’ at the slightest thing, and a great mix tape – even if no one has used a tape since what? 1997? 98? Basically, this:

Take a cross country road trip, without worrying about how much it will cost to fill up!

Or, you know, as this is England, this:

weekend escape = country road, picnic basket, roadtrip

Or if you’re really going for it, this:

I love a good road trip. I can’t tick off the Mustand/Cadillac yet, but I can say that I have been on  road trip in a Mini. And a yellow camper van. Both of which were brilliant.

Top 10 Tips for a brilliant road trip:

1. Company. Obvious, I know. Nothing sucks more than grumpy company. Except for the person who throws up all over everyone else. Luckily that’s never happened, but I imagine it would be pretty hard for a trip to bounce back after that. I’m not even going to bother explaining why good company is such a must for a good road trip.

#friends #RoadTrip | photo shannon lee miller

2. Music. It’s always a good time for music. The Black Keys are perfect. As are Sigor Ros when you hit ‘downtime driving’ mode. You know, when you need to recover from having laughed so hard for so long, it feels like you’ve done about a million sit ups. Not that down time driving ever lasts long with friends about. It’s all about laughing through the pain!

3. Record your memories. I’ve been on a few spur of the moment trips… without a camera to hand, despite trying to always have it within reach. It sucks. Folks, always take a camera on a road trip. Or a video camera, and you can make a lovely movie of your road trip, like these.

4. Picnics. They go hand-in-hand with road trips, I reckon. Especially as I have a few crumb-phobic friends, so snacking in the car is a no-no. I’m a bit of a ‘picturesque picnicker’ too. Pink lemonade, berries, cupcakes. I like my meals pretty.

not a specific place, but fall weather in Dallas is a perfect place for a picnic!

5. Sleeping under the Stars. Sun roof, convertible, or good old fashion sleeping back in the grass, I love sleeping in the middle of no where beneath the stars. You don’t realise just how few stars are visible from the city until you’re on a hill surrounded by mile and miles of fields in a Cath Kidston floral sleeping bag.

6. Fashion. I admit, I tend to be the girl who carefully plans her road trip outfits. Apparently that’s sad, but I’d hate filling a suitcase to find that nothing is suited to my trip, or nothing goes together and everything clashes and blah blah blah. I personally love Free People for the girly, boho-but-not-quite-hippy clothes that I take on my road trips. And of course, good old Asos.

roadtrip

7. Freedom. It’s the whole nomad-lifestyle calling to me again. When you’re on a road trip, you’re just leaving all of your worries and responsibilities behind and throwing yourself into life. However, don’t be as free as a certain anonymous someone I know who was feeling so free and spontaneous and crazy that he decided to abandon his phone and his wallet at home and just drive… a great idea, but money is needed for petrol, people!

8. Glamping. I spoke about glamping back in May. I still loveit. Again, picturesque. I think this is the influence of years of admiring Tim Walker‘s work. I seem to live my life like it’s one big Walker-esque spread. Minus the over-sized props. I would if I had the budget, though. One of my favourite things to take along on a road trip is a portable projector. Or rather, I love to take along my friend’s portable projector – and my friend too. Not just because he has a portable projector, either. (♥ H) Picnic blanket of food, sky full of stars, a sheet draped over a tree, an old movie projected against it, a cluster of deck chairs and blankets over our legs… perfection.

Love this photo~

9. Getting Lost. I love getting lost. I always find the best places when I’m lost, be it the amazing ice cream bar in Venice that I stumbled into to ask for directions (which, sadly, I haven’t been able to find since), or a tiny village with an amazing bookshop because I’m terrible at map reading and sent my designated road trip driving friend in the completely wrong direction. Oops, but so worth it.

10. Be Spontaneous. I know that spontaneous road trips can mean that packing the above items just don’t happen. Like me and my camera. Picnics and glamping and carefully co-ordinated outfits need a chance to happen, especially if you’re on a budget (I’m sure you could whip up a great picnic of berry-topped-cupcakes and pink lemonade from Marks and Spencers and Waitrose, but I prefer homemade. Still, there’s nothing more exciting then grabbing the car keys, finding a friend or two with a) a license to drive and b) a car (neither of which I have), and just going. No map, no plan, just laughs and that amazing feeling of having no responsibilities for a while.

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Oh… I’m so itching for a road trip right now. Anyone?

I guess it’s not the best time of year for road trips… I suppose I can keep myself busy until the sun finally arrives with a few road trip movies. Little Miss Sunshine, On the Road and the last 30 minutes of Elizabethtown (I don’t even bother with the first hour and a half).

Ah… summer.

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February Wish List

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  1. Cambridge Satchel Company. Navy & Peach Satchel. £160. Available here. I’ve been dying for a Cambridge Satchel for ages, but somehow I just never end up buying one. Soon.
  2. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle. Prices start at about £90. Available here. This was my perfume of 2012, and I’m missing it. Not that I specifically choose a perfume for each year… it recently occurred to me that I just so happen to buy my perfume around Christmas each year. Or of course, someone buys me perfume as a Christmas gift. Maybe I’ll break with routine. I love Dior J’adore – especially the teeny tiny travel sized bottle that I have in my purse because it’s adorable. But I’m definitely more a Chanel girl. Always have been
  3. Bo-Homey cushion. $44.99. Available here. Because my bed is screaming out for some cushions. It’s just so pretty!
  4. Crosley Keepsake Turntable in Blue Floral. £160. Available here. What is it about vinyl that makes every song sound so much better? I’m more than a little bit obsessed with vinyl, be it vintage, classics or new releases. But a floral turntable?! Yes, please!
  5. ‘Time of Your Life’ phone case, available for a range of Samsung or IPhone models, as well as prints, posters… etc. Prices start at $15. Available here. I love everything in Kavan & Co‘s Redbubble portfolio. It takes self-control not to paste my whole home with beautiful motivational quote posters. It seems I’m a sucker for graphically beautiful inspirational quotes.
  6. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith… or, you know.. JK Rowling. £9.99 to pre-order from Amazon… I think Waterstones have the same pre-order price too! I’ll be buying mine from the latter. Waterstones need my money more than Amazon. Available here. It’s like Harry Potter all over again. Queuing outside bookshops at midnight for a book release. Actually no, I never did that with Harry Potter. I’d be sent to school, my mother would go and buy it first thing in the morning, and I’d some home to find I’d then have to wait the three or four agonizing days for her to finish it. Luckily these were during my pre-Facebook days, and I avoided the M25 circa book six. But this time, I don’t have to share this book with the rest of my family. I read the first of the Comoran Strike series, The Cuckoo’s Calling, mostly during my few months in Rome, reading a few pages a day in bookshops because I didn’t want to carry around a bulky €25 hardback copy with me. Anyway, super excited for book two!
  7. Alexander McQueen Velvet & Leather patent heels. Originally £455, but here, they are £204.76!! I don’t know how well I’d be able to walk in these. Anyone who knows me knows that my heel-skills are limited to kitten or wedge. Me and stilettos are not on good terms. But still, they are beautiful. These and a little brocade black tea dress? Yes. I keep having to push the word ‘steampunk’ from my head, though.
  8. Chloé monochrome jacket. Originally £1370, but here, £479.50. There is nothing to say but, I have 1000 outfits from my wardrobe that would look so good with this. Damn…
  9. Victoria Beckham. Originally £2195, but here, £987.75. Pricey, but my god, so gorgeous. It’s sexy but girly but classic. Without the visible built-in bra straps, I’d say it’s very ‘modern day Audrey Hepburn’, except that I think she’d have avoided the outerwear as underwear and visible bra straps trends. Isn’t it about time that certain newspapers stop wondering if the ex-Spice Girl/’WAG’ can match other designers?
  10. Tom Ford Lipstick in Spanish Pink. £36. Available here. I’m still searching for that perfect pink lipstick. It’s out there, somewhere. Maybe I’ll try this one next.
  11. Undercover Leather Travel Organiser. £59.95. Available here. Cyclamen, please, magic gift-bearing elves of the universe. Of course, I can’t have a wish list without something travel-related. I don’t really need this, of course. I love my On the Road passport cover too much, but still. Browsing, browsing, browsing.
  12. Guerlain Météorites Face Powder. $60. Available here. I know, I know. Pretty packaging doesn’t mean that the contents are necessarily as amazing as they look, but it’s hard not to pick my makeup on looks alone. I mean, it’s the beauty industry. Choice of three colour pallets depending on your skintone; clair, medium and dore.
  13. Olivia Burton Floral Watch. £85. Available here. I haven’t worn a watch in about a decade, not since the hideous, chunky hand-me-down that would go off at random times during those rare moments of silence at school because I had no idea how to un-set the alarm. Is that trauma? Perhaps.
  14. ‘Refind your footing’ in turquoise. $34.99. Available here. I’ve loved brogues and brogue-esque shoes for a few years now. I’ve worn the soles out of several pairs now, I wear them to often! So far, though, I’ve stuck to ‘classic colours’; black, white and various shades of brown. But these… oo. I have room for a pair of turquoise brogue-esque flats in my life. Also available in brown, blush and beige. Actually… I want them all.

Hmm… right now I’m struggling to remember why exactly I’m saving my money… time to stick a memo to my wall, I think.

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Wanderer

Is Hitchhiking as dangerous as people think? (Especially for lone women)

In short, no.

I have been hitchhiking for quite some time now. How else can a poor student without a driver’s license explore Europe? I’m the only English person I know who is ‘brave enough’ to hitchhike, and I only know a small handful of people from other countries who hitchhike. It’s a rare thing now, which is a real shame because 99% of the time you are picked up by lovely, inspiring, fascinating people. I haven’t yet experienced the other 1%, and anyone who my guts tells me could possibly be in that small minority, I refuse to get into the car with.

Image from Something About Iceland

Hitchhiking comes down to common sense and listening to gut instinct. If I don’t feel right about someone, I’ll refuse to get into their car, even if it causes offence (especially if it causes offence!) As a lone female hitchhiker, I also have one personal rule which I always follow: never get in a car with a man or group of men, only women, couples or families. Even if it means having to wait all day for a ride, that’s my rule. When I’m travelling with a friend, then we’ll travel with anyone who passes our ‘danger sensors’.

Pepper spray is also a good precaution, and Bear spray even more so (which is basically super powerful pepper spray), though always read up on the laws and regulations on pepper/bear spray before you travel, as in some countries its classified as a prohibited weapon, whereas in others its an openly available self-defense weapon. You’d have thought that if you can show that you’ve just saved your own life by pepper spraying a dodgy character in self defense, no one would care that you were carrying a prohibited weapon in the first place… but you never know these days.

I constantly have people lecturing me on the ‘insanity’ of a woman hitchhiking alone, and my answer is always the same: people only have this idea that hitchhiking is a guaranteed way to end up raped and murdered because of the media. You never flick through the paper or turn on the evening news and see ‘News just in, lone female hitchhiker made it safely to her destination’ or ‘New study has shown that 99% of hitchhikers have no problems whatsoever on the road.’ Instead we only hear about the horror stories, the rapes, the murders, the missing people.

I don’t think we can live our lives around what the media says. We can’t not hitchhike simply because there’s a small risk it could end badly. The way I think about it, there is statistically a much greater chance of you going for a drive now and dying in a horrific car accident, or walking outside and being hit by a car than there is of coming to a horrible and gruesome end when hitchhiking. I personally would rather hitch and be considered ‘insane’ for doing so than sit in my house in my ‘safe’ city or town and wrap my life in cotton wool. That to me is insanity.

Photo from Pretty Little Treasures

HitchingHobo rules of Hitching:

  • If a woman travelling alone, only hitch with women, families or couples.
  • If possible, carry pepper/bear spray or similar.
  • If people are confused as to whether you’re a hitchhiker or a prostitute, re-think your wardrobe.
  • Have a look into the meaning of the thumbs up in certain countries. E.g. in certain countries such as Greece and Iraq, giving the thumbs up is equivalent to giving the finger.
  • Don’t be afraid to offend. A common issue with us Brits, we can be overly polite and considerate to other people’s thoughts and feelings. If I don’t like the look of someone, that British part of me thinks ‘oh but this nice man didn’t have to stop with me, he’ll be offended if I say no’, and I have to slap that side of me away. Its still important to be polite, but as long as you’re polite without going against what you want to do.
  •  Try to keep your bag with you rather than in the boot. I’ve personally witnessed an Aussie hitcher lose his bag with all of his possessions when the car sped off before he had time to retrieve it from the boot. Even if it makes travel slightly more uncomfortable, its worth it.
  • You can check that doors open from the inside by pretending not to have shut the door properly. If not, bring it up!
  • Its safer to sit in the front of the vehicle. If anything happens, you can always grab the handbrake!
  • Make a note of the registration number and at least pretend to text it to a friend. Make sure that the driver sees you do this and explain as you do it.
  • Wear visible clothing and hi vis for when its dark.
  • Be sensible when choosing where to stick out your thumb. The amount of times I’ve seen people trying to catch a ride on a blind corner!
  • Also don’t be afraid to ask a driver to drop you off somewhere else if you don’t feel they have selected the safest spot.
  • Sensible conversation. I never mention that I am a photographer, and my camera is always safely stored in my bag when I’m waiting for a ride, and remains there until they drop me off.
  • Emergency exit tip: If you find yourself wanting to get out of the car, but the driver won’t pull over, ready yourself to unlock your seat belt, wait until they come to traffic lights or a stop sign, and then in one swift motion open and door, grab your pack and get out!
  • Another one is to complain that you’re travel sick and need to get out now before you ruin his/her car!
  • Just have some common sense and listen to your gut!

There are certain countries where I would perhaps think twice before hitchhiking, particularly countries with certain views about women, but generally I think its no where near as dangerous as people think as long as you are sensible.

Don’t allow the media’s horror stories to scare you into wrapping your life in cotton wool!

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