This time last year I made a spontaneous decision to travel alone to LA, one which was very much out of my comfort zone. It seems silly now to think that I was so afraid of travelling alone, especially since my cousins waited for me on the other side!
From the moment I arrived in LA, I was welcomed with open arms. My huge extended family all lived within close proximity of each other and each called by for a family dinner that first night. The beautifully balmy weather was blissful and a pleasant change from the dreary English clouds.
Having marvelled at the main tourist attractions on a family trip four years ago, I decided that I wanted to visit some more local places and really soak up the cosmopolitan, carefree and bohemian ambience of California.
Trips to Venice and Santa Monica Beach boasted lush palm trees, golden sand beaches and bustling strips full of edgy pop-up shops, divine restaurants and quaint food trucks.
The Last Bookstore in Downtown LA was a treasure trove full of literary works and adorned with profound art - perfect for culture-enthused tourists. The beautiful Grove shopping mall oozed character with its iconic tram and luxurious fountains. Here I stopped in a Mexican restaurant for a refuel, enjoying mouth-watering tacos and tamales with salsa.
Hiking on the Wonderview Trail with my cousins through the Hollywood Hills was the biggest adventure, and the perfect end to an action-packed week. The two-hour trek was tiring, but the breathtaking views of the LA skyline, valleys and infamous Hollywood sign were worth it.
Much to my surprise, families were hiking up the hills and ravines with small babies and toddlers, despite the fact that the trails had no barriers and very few markings to help walkers navigate their way to the Hollywood sign. I felt as though we were all explorers in the wilderness! It was only when we got to the halfway point, filled with people also catching their breath on the benches, that I remembered we were in a city and not lost in the wilds of California.
To my horror, when we finished our hike, I spotted a sign reading: ‘Beware of the Rattlesnakes!’ We were all convinced that we had guardian Los Angeles angels watching over us because none of us had seen a snake, let alone been bitten by one!
I left LA with more family memories to treasure and a different picture of the California metropolis - ultimately urban but with a surprisingly wild streak.
If you missed Destination New South Wales' webinars, here are six of the suppliers you could have met and some key points about their products, ranging from photography tours to one of the world's most iconic buildings.
From educational 'Dinosaur Bone Hunts' in Greater Fort Lauderdale to cooking classes in Puerto Rico, these digital experiences around the globe will prove a great way to keep all the family entertained this Easter.
Selling Travel joined agents at the Destination New South Wales Roadshow this May in Liverpool and London, hearing what Destination NSW, national carrier Qantas and 11 top suppliers had to say about the state.
Look out for a spike in bookings to Thailand because the cast of The Only Way is Essex has just finished filming two episodes in Koh Samui for series 24 of TOWIE, hitting TV screens on March 17 (9pm, ITVBe).
Julie Baxter finds herself stranded in the rocky Channel Isles, closer to France than England, partly stuck in the past and captivated by the sea with its beautiful bays and history of savage shipwrecks.
UK passport holders don’t have to pay a penny to enter Vietnam until June 2018, but that’s not the only reason to visit this fascinating country, says Nina Farrimond.In the first of two blogs, she explores Hanoi, Halong Bay and Hue.
The fair city of Dublin is known for its musical pubs, heavy-drinking locals and literary legends. The Irish capital can be a tourist trap and the Pound to Euro exchange rate isn’t great at the moment but here’s how to enjoy yourself, even if your bucket list has a budget.
Abu Dhabi's profile had risen steadily over the last few years and 2016 saw some notable achievments. We quiz Nabeel Al Zarouni from the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority on what agents can expect in 2017.
Julie Baxter walks the medieval ramparts of this beautiful hilltop city in Languedoc, southern France, searching for the romantic knights and tortured witches of her imagination and finding much more than she bargained for.
Missed our Selling Travel Dialogue on Oman? Never fear because we summed it up here. Read on to find out what the sultanate can offer your clients and how you can harness new flight routes from Oman Air.
Travel trend spotters constantly talk about authenic experiences but when it comes to Canada, how many travellers have First Nation culture on their itinerary? Find out why they should and how to find it.