California Road Trip | The Beginning
The first in a series of blog posts from our amazing, whirlwind, happiness-filled California road trip. I say whirlwind, we had 12 days, but even that felt kind of rushed at times when trying to cram in as much of California ( and a quick 24 hours in Arizona) as we could. Having been to L.A a good few times before but never journeyed outside of the city properly, I’ve been dying to drive up the 101 and take in the likes of Big Sur and San Francisco for a long, long time. A work trip to L.A with Missoma (tough gig I know) at just the right time of year gave me the perfect excuse to extend the trip. L.A, Joshua Tree, a quick 24 hour trip to Arizona with Proenza Schouler (as you do), Malibu, Santa Barbara, Big Sur, San Francisco and Sonoma where all on the hit list. It’s only seeing it written down that I can really get a sense of how much ground we covered! I feel like we saw so many amazing sides of California, from the spiky, sprawling desert of Joshua Tree to the rugged coastline of Northern California, the variety of the state and all the amazing people we came across, the food we ate and the experiences we had are still hard to round into one experience. We had 12 days but you could have a month and still feel like you hadn’t ticked off nearly everything you wanted to. God Bless the size of America.
Not only do I love California, I really love America as a whole (current President withstanding) and the concept of the great American road trip is such a cinematic institution and one that’s really got under my skin and into my imagination since I was a kid. The reality is just as cinematic as you imagined but even more special than the on-screen versions thanks to a good dose of reality. It’s funny because while I love the idea of stopping off at random places along the way and letting spontaneity take you to places you weren’t expecting, the reality of being a perfectionist on a road trip means you really have to learn to embrace the journey as much as the destination itself. I’m not even being cheesy and metaphorical about this, I mean it totally literally. Road trips are romantic in their inception, the notion of grabbing a few supplies, jumping behind the wheel and driving carefree down the open road has been told and retold throughout literature and film. But in reality, you only have a limited amount of time to soak up as much as possible of your chosen spots and that can be stressful if you’re anything like me and want to see everything en route while also have enough time to relax where you’ve chosen to bed down for the night and arrive in time for a picture-perfect sundowner at your next spot. It was a welcome challenge to learn to let go a bit and embrace seeing the sunset from the car rather than with a glass of wine, or having a rogue lunch and trying not to let wishing you’d gone to the other place you wanted to ruin your day. Once you get past the idea of perfection, the road trip is an amazing way to really see a country and was exactly what I needed to switch off a bit and really get out of my head and into the moment. Yes I was instagram-storying while away (it is my job after all) but I only took photos on film, I put my out of office on and barely checked instagram apart from posting my own stuff sporadically. As someone who makes a living online, I think this was as close as I’ve been to switching off for a long, long time.
Road trips are all about planning as much as possible while also embracing errors of timings, directions and opening times along the way. I quickly realised that they’re not romantic for their picture-perfect moments, even the ‘spontaneous’ ones that have become as movie-worthy as the Manic Pixie Dream Girls who tend to go on them, but rather for the decidedly less than perfect moments. When you learn you can have a heated row about parking and laugh it off instantly, or the realisation that some of the most memorable meals can be one-pan pasta cooked late at night in an Airbnb. Whether you’re travelling with a boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, friends or family, the real joy and romance of a road trip are the shit bits and how you deal with them. Instagram might lead you to believe there are zero ‘flaws’ to other people’s holidays but there definitely are and it’s these random moments that you’ll remember in years to come, rather than the ones you’ve mapped out in your head beforehand. Combine this with the open road, unexpected chats with people you’ll never see again, ever-changing scenery, endless vintage motel signs, gas stations that feel like Disneyland when it comes to E numbers (I’m not even kidding) and the most beautiful light I’ve ever been surrounded by (again, totally literal!) and it’s easy to understand why road trips are addictive. I’m already itching to do another American road trip one day (more Cali and the deep south are on my list) although I will say I’m not sure I’d do a road trip for a honeymoon unless you have plenty of time. It’s not a fly and flop trip and while I came home totally revived and refreshed mentally, it can be tiring unpacking and repacking time and time again, and having to make decisions on a daily basis if you’re knackered might not be the best idea.
Aries tee | Aries
Green skirt | With Jean
Fendi bag | Vintage
Sandals | Isabel Marant
Graphic tee | AlexaChung
Pink trousers | Apiece Apart
Yellow snake bag | Chloe
Green swimsuit | Hunza G
Dark denim shorts | Solid & Striped X Re/Done
First up, was a couple of days in L.A staying at The Rose in Venice. Aside from a couple of news places like MTN (amazing ramen and asian-fusion food), Great White (the best breakfast burritos) and Wallflower (yet more amazing Japanese fusion food and cocktails), I pretty much relied on old favourites so I’m going to refer you back to my previous L.A posts here,here, and here. We hiked Griffith park trail, walked the Venice canals, shopped at American Rag, and ate a lot of great food and tried to avoid getting run over by a Bird scooter, all while I continually freaked out at how best to show my boyfriend L.A in 36 hours when it can take over two hours to get from one side to another. I mostly focused on the West Side with half a day spent East and basically learnt you need three days at least in L.A to even begin to get a lay of the land. It’s just SO GOD DAMN BIG! The key is, and let this be a lesson to road trips as a whole, it’s better to do something well than do several things not well. While the desire is to whizz round as much as possible, it’s much better to minimise the one night stops as much as possible and give yourself the chance to do two nights or more at each place. Failing that, I would say keep the driving to under 4 hours a day. I didn’t mind driving 6 hours if we had the next day not driving much but if you’ve got another big trip the following day, it can be hard to keep up the motivation. Venice was typically misty when we were there but the rest of California was an absolute dream in terms of weather and everyone we chatted to said October/November is the real summer of California. We even had warm, sunny weather in San Fran which everyone said was very lucky! I was all prepped with wooly jumpers and jackets and ironically wore them more in Venice and Joshua Tree than anywhere else.
While the dream is to hire a convertible mustang for a trip down route 101, we actually went down the 4×4 route as we wanted something comfortable and armchair like to drive in. When you’re in the car for 6 hour stints, convertible’s can get boring as you can’t really hear each other talk or listen to podcasts and unless it’s really hot in the summer, the novelty kinda wears off after an hour or so. Plus, the size of my suitcase kind of dictated we needed a bigger car….
A few other hints and tips for planning the ultimate road trip:
– Let go of perfection. Sometimes the best lunch will be a sandwich (and you can find some AMAZING sandwiches in Cali) in the car rather than a super-fancy sit down meal
-Download podcasts and spotify playlists before you set off so you’re not caught short when your signal runs out.
-Keep your eye on the gas. Some cheaper SUV’s guzzle gas and if you end up on a road where there isn’t a gas station for 60 miles, you don’t want to spend 50 of those watching the fuel needle.
-Be a savvy packer. Keep PJs and underwear in separate canvas bags or packing cubes so you can easily grab with your wash bag for an overnight stay rather than having to rifle through your entire case. Likewise, pack your warmer stuff on one side, colder stuff on the other so you don’t have to unload everything to find what you want.
-If you’re only in a city for one night, look at the location of your hotel. It might make more sense to stay somewhere slightly one the outskirts (easier to navigate, park and not hit traffic on your way back to the highway) and then uber to dinner.
-Add at least two or three hours to your journey time to allow for random stops, lunches that take ages or spontaneous antiquing (just me?).
Right, admin done, Onto the travel from here on…. Next post, we’re heading out to the desert to Joshua Tree.
Daisy jeans | Reformation
White lace-up top | Hansen and Gretel
All necklaces | Lucy Williams X Missoma
Hiking leggings | Tory Sport
Trainers | Adidas Originals
Denim shorts with buttons | Eve Denim
Green floral top | Reformation
Yellow top | Reformation
Yellow snake jeans | AlexaChung
White t-shirt | The Great
Blue Jeans | ReDone
Leather jacket | Redone
Ph. by myself, a few by my boyfriend and Alex Kenealy