Before I went on my Trek America trip I spent a while busy googling what I need to pack. Bizarrely considering the number of people that have done Trek America there are not many posts on what to pack so I have added my thoughts below:

Head torches

An idea I got off one of the blogs and I did find the torch extremely useful at night in the tents when I was getting changed or trying to find something (usually my glasses!). An addition to the head torch was a small light that you could hook to the loop at the top of the tent. This provided enough light for the whole tent which was perfect for being able to look at the other person without blinding them in the face with the head torch!

Extension Cable

Genius idea from the other half. Perfect for charging numerous appliances at once at the campsite. All the Brits used ours.

Decent sleeping bags

My last sleeping bag being a purple one from Woolworths circa 2004 wasn’t going to cut it in America. On the Trek America website, there are instructions on what type of sleeping bag you should take. James brought extra large versions which were so big that we both managed to fit into one with loads of room to spare. Not only did we have extra room but we were more comfortable than some others on the trip who had summer sleeping bags.

Normal sized toiletry bottles

Considering you will be sleeping in tents for the majority of the holiday and will be here there and everywhere. You will definitely shower so often that you will save money by buying just normal sized bottles. A toiletry bag that you can hang up is also a plus. I just bought a cheap one from Morrisons.

Baby wipes

An item I nearly didn’t bother to bring and I am so glad that I had. I used baby wipes all the time as they came in handy with all the dust that was around at the campsites. Also at certain stops where there was nowhere to wash your hands hand sanitiser comes in handy.

Walking Shoes

Walking shoes were a must in Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. Normal trainers just don’t cut it especially in Yosemite where depending on what walk you do ( I went to Nevada Falls) it is so rocky and parts so steep with no handrail that is safer with sturdy shoes.

Paracetamol, plasters and cold and flu tablets.

I had a horrendous cold and felt rotten on the second week of my trek. I actually used all the cold and flu tablets up and in CVS I found medication to be so expensive so it’s worth taking some from home.

A bag with wheels

My bag was so heavy that there was no way I would be able to carry it in my hands. It just takes all the hassle away from lugging it around.

A pillow

I brought this in Walmart once we arrived in LA. The pillow really helps get the best night sleep you can in the tent.

A battery charging unit for your phone

I forgot to take mine and although there was ample opportunity to get your phone charged at the campsites they are always handy as long days in the van listening to music drains the battery pretty quickly.
There we go all the little extras you wouldn’t think about buying. Has anyone been on a Trek America trip or is thinking about going on one?

The ones I have read however have been a real mixture of good and bad. As you will see below:

Wild- Cheryl Strayed

Wild tells the story of Cheryl Strayed a woman who after her mother died from cancer decided to trek the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) to help find herself. Cheryl had no prior hiking experience and the PCT trail is one of the hardest in America.
Therefore for Cheryl to get through the trail meant that anything is possible.  Her story was raw and didn’t hold back. The descriptions of the wildlife she walked through made me want to go and experience the PCT for myself and by understanding her life story you can see why she made the mistakes she did.

Since I Don’t Have You – Louise Candlish

Possibly the worst book I have read in a while. This book was so bad I have had to refer back to it to remember the main character’s name!  Rachel makes a pact with two of her best friends Jenny and Marial that each other would look after children if anything happened to each other. Fast forward a few years the children are six and at school. One day Rachel’s child goes on a school trip and dies in a minibus crash.
Therefore to escape Rachel decides to fly to Santorina (she has always been interested in Santorina because her mother was born there). To keep her pact she decides to hire a private investigator (creepy I know!) to check up on her friends and their children. The book was just boring I wasn’t interested in the descriptions of Greece, I found the whole private investigator thing really didn’t work and the way it was written, it was a drag to get through. I didn’t even finish the book. One for the Donation box!

The Children’s Act- Ian McEwan

This book follows a QC who has to make a difficult decision regarding a religious woman and son’s young life. The book was better then I thought it would be. Written in Ian McEwan’s signature style where you pretty much have to concentrate through the entire book ( it’s not a light read!) it delivers a book that is a mixture of religion, love and morals.

Tales From The Ringroad- BBC

Ok it’s not a book it is a radio series on BBC Radio 4. Essentially a different ringroad in the country is chosen each week and several people tell their story which has a connection with the ringroad.One episode was about the ringroad in Coventry. A man who was driving on the road one night got hit by a car who was driving in the opposite direction. Another story based in Wolverhampton was about a man who lived on the ringroad in a tent. It’s one to listen when you are on the commute home.  It does sound a bit out there (stay with me on this!) but it isn’t that bad and is quite interesting. If all else fails the soothing voice will put you to sleep.

 

(Source: Authors Own)

I bloody love books and since I travel on the train I am always reading. Here is what I have been enjoying this month.

Leaves On The Line- Martin and Simon Toseland

A Laugh- Out- Loud read. This book goes through everyday English phrases and gives a real life interpretation of what they mean. Perfect if you want a book you can pick up at any point.

Marks and Spencer Home Spring 2015 Edition Magazine

This free magazine I grabbed whilst waiting to pick up a package has the most beautiful pictures of their homeware inside. If I wasn’t living in rented accommodation I would definitely have a list of items that I want.

The Opposite Of Loneliness- Marina Keegan

As mentioned in my reading list, this book by the late Marina Keegan demonstrates her literary talent. As the book is a selection of essays and short stories it has again a book you can dip in and out of. Recommendations of stories to read include The Emerald City, Challenger Deep, Even Artichokes Have Doubts, Against The Grain and finally, of course, The Opposite Of Loneliness.

Love Is Not Enough- Merryn Somerset Webb

Although I am not awful with my money I could do better. Love Is Not Enough is essentially a dummies guide on how to improve your finances specifically for women. The book is split into sections that you are likely to encounter in your life such as children, marriage, divorce, investments, pensions etc. What I liked about this book, in particular, is the candid writing style Merryn adopts. It is not stuffy, it is spoken to women who need help understanding the basics.

Strong Woman

Karren Brady is a woman I admire, from Managing Director of Birmingham City FC from the age of 23, she is a true woman made of grit. I have watched all of The Apprentices with her in it and enjoy reading her Cosmopolitan column. I have had this book a couple of years now and is definitely not a new book out. However, I picked it up as from time to time you always need an inspirational story and this is it. Karen talks about what drives her to success (mainly motivation and sheer hard work) and how she has found managing it all with children, TV work and other interests.

#GIRLBOSS

One that isn’t featured in my photograph above because I forgot to add it in! #GIRLBOSS similar to Strong Woman in that it details how Sophia Amoruso built her Nasty Gal busy up from a tiny eBay shop to the empire it is today. This book shows how hard work and determination really pays off and is so easy to read. I read it in two days.

 

Whilst saving for a house and a wedding, money has never been more important in my household. Therefore we decided to cut back to allow us a few extra pounds to spend on what we really want or to save. This is how we have done it below.

Switched our Supermarket

I used to shop in the one of the big four but then decided to switch to Aldi and see if there was a difference in price. In the past few months on average we save around £40 per month on food. We find that by planning all our meals in advance we shop in one of the big four once a month to get the items that we cannot get in Aldi and then shop in Aldi for the rest.

Using the Library

I read an awful lot and used to buy second hand books however that was starting to get pricey. By using the library I reckon I have saved around £200 (and space) in books. Libraries these days are not just about physical books there is also a selection of audio and online books.

Also my local train station has a book shelf where passengers leave and pick up unwanted books. I have picked up and dropped off many books myself.

Using Charity Shops

Charity Shops are brilliant for second hand bargains. I have brought books but also clothes, I got a set of fashionable and hardly used black boots for £8 once which would have easily been £15- 20 first hand.

Using eBay and Amazon

When we moved into our flat we had a small budget for buying furniture. On eBay we brought a coffee table and TV stand for £50. Which if we had brought this in a shop would have cost £50 each. This applies also for selling. I am a great believer in reusing as much as possible so any unwanted items are either sold on ebay or Gumtree or go straight to a charity shop. Just be mindful of sellers fees.

Borrowing Movies and Boxsets

What originally started as a friend lending us a box set to try out a TV programme has ended up us borrowing the entire series. Hence £50 worth of TV entertainment we have watched for free.

Using Voucher Codes

Before buying online I usually browse voucher code sites looking for any discounts. If you are a student I recommend buying a NUS Extra card because the amount of discounts available are phenomenal and you easy make your £12.00 the price the card costs back.

Delay Repay Scheme

I commute so spend an awful lot of time on the train. If my train is over 30 minutes late I always claim back. I reckon I have claimed in total about £50 back from the train companies so far this year. I email a picture of my train tickets to customer services so it is not costing me anything in postage.

Checking My Receipts

I always match up my receipts against my bank statements to check that all money coming in and out my bank account as it should be. I don’t want any money leaving my account when it shouldn’t be.

This concludes my money saving tips, does anybody have any they would like to share below?

A small post from me today. A while back I was reading on twitter an article about what everyday cyclists take with them on their rides. So I thought I would share mine here.

1, Schwalbe Tyre Leavers. Amazon £3.95

These tyre leavers were brought after hearing reading the good reviews on Amazon. These tyre leavers do the job fine.

2, Inner Tube Raleigh 700×19-23c. Amazon £10.89 for three

I always carry a spare inner tube on longer rides just in case.

3, EyezOff GP96A Alloy Mini Bike Pump. Amazon £10.99

The pump is very easy to use and is easy to mount onto the bike. You can use this pump with Presta and Schrader valves.

4, Energy Gel Hi5 Brought as part of the race pack at The Cycle Show but see here

If I am cycling a longer route then I like taking one of these out with me. I really like the taste of these energy gels as the taste is not too sweet and the texture is not too sticky. Sometimes I just take a cereal bar instead.

5, Drinks Bottle. Wiggle (not available)

Essential for any ride this Wiggle bottle is one of many I own.

6, High5 Energy Bottle. Amazon £5.49

I tend to carry a larger water bottle and one smaller one. This High5 bottle is just one of many I own.

7, Puncture Repair Kit. This was a freebie from a cycling magazine but you can find similar from any cycle shop.

8, Lazer Sunglasses.

From a bike jumble sale at the Manchester Velodrome.

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