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    US Roadtrip Diary: Louisiana Plantation Exploring

    With heavy hearts we watched New Orleans disappear from the
    rear view mirror (well, ok, I kept an eye on the road with glances every so
    often Dad) and we began our roadtrip in earnest. With a car full of snacks, a few
    tunes on the radio and the satnav set to ‘wander’ we headed north along the ‘Ole Miss’ River.

    After a few hedonistic (and rain-soaked) days in New Orleans soaking up the Jazz (not to mention beignet accompanied Hickory coffee) and gator spotting, we were ready to explore a little more history.

    Oak Alley Plantation Louisiana Roadtrip US History Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Whenever you decide on a a new destination to visit, there are always preconceived notions that float through your mind. Power suited business people striding through Manhattan, the striking, scretive  peak of Mount Fuji, bowler hatted civil servants drinking pints in London, the cream hued stone of Paris and the golden minarets of the Middle East.

    Just a short drive from New Orleans city we leave the Bayou waters behind and began to wind through the fertile plains of smaller towns like Valerie. Before too long road signs appeared for the wealth of Plantation homes that dotted the lush banks, built by families rich from indigo, corn, cotton and sugarcane. This was the romantic idea I had of Louisiana in my mind.

    Oak Alley Plantation Louisiana Roadtrip US History Adventures of a London Kiwi

    In 1682, Robert de La Salle claimed the area between the Great Lakes and
    the Gulf Coast for France, hoping to stop the British from colonizing
    land west of the Appalachian Mountains. In 1718, the city of New Orleans
    was founded at the mouth of the Mississippi, giving the French control
    of traffic on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

    Oak Alley Plantation Louisiana Roadtrip US History Adventures of a London Kiwi

    In
    time and through a change of land ownerships (French, Spanish and back
    to French) the state came under American rule, the unique mixture of
    cultures (plus that of the Indian natives pushed further and further
    from their ancestral homes) began to thrive on the back of West-African slave
    labour. From simple farms to trading plantations fed with overseas
    investment, previously simple Creole houses were given massive Greek
    Revival
    columns, curved stairs, semi-detached wings, and other architectural
    elements popular at the time, reflecting the owner’s wealth.

    Oak Alley Plantation, our first tourist stop, is named for the 800 feet (240 meters) long
    canopied path created by a double row of southern live oak trees planted
    in the early 18th century, long before the present house was built. 

    Oak Alley Plantation Louisiana Roadtrip US History Adventures of a London Kiwi

    One of a chain of riverside manors, these Antebellum homes were the summertime abodes of
    families who wintered in New Orleans (then often a day’s journey away by
    horse and cart) though their indentured workers lived in huts year
    round on the site.

    Oak Alley Plantation Louisiana Roadtrip US History Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Oak Alley Plantation Louisiana Roadtrip US History Adventures of a London Kiwi

    In the 21st Century, we parked my little car and joined one of the guided tours around the beautifully kept interior rooms. The mansion has a square floor plan, organized around a
    central hall that runs from the front to the rear on both floors and high ceilings that allow for plenty of cross-breezes on sticky summer evenings.

    Led by guides dressed in period costumes, we learnt an astonishing range of facts, from the enormous ceiling mounted dining room Punkah or Shoe Fly Fan that a child slave used to fan the family and how silverware was laid tine downwards to display hallmarks. We also learned how the use of quarter candles (often just reeds dipped in tallow and
    burned instead) that were intentionally short so visitors would have to
    make their exit by the time the lights went out – was the (disputed) origin of the phrase the “short end of a stick”, said candles which were especially handy for Fathers to restrict beaus visiting their daughters.

    Oak Alley Plantation Louisiana Roadtrip US History Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Oak Alley Plantation Louisiana Roadtrip US History Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The exterior features a
    gorgeous free-standing colonnade of 28 Doric columns on all four sides that correspond to the 28 oak trees in the alley and a wrapround porch both at ground and first floor level that caught my breath with the majestic simplicity.

    The interior rooms are painstakingly restored to a quintessentially 18th Century style. Our favourite tale? Because of the distances between cities visitors would often stay for weeks at a time, and a polite Southern way to tell them to get lost was to leave a whole pineapple on their breakfast tray the morning they should depart.

    Oak Alley Plantation Louisiana Roadtrip US History Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Oak Alley Plantation Louisiana Roadtrip US History Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Exquisitely ridiculous. 

    Oak Alley Plantation Louisiana Roadtrip US History Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Oak Alley Plantation was properly #swoonworthy (as an aside, I feel as though I should trademark that hashtagged phrase.) Now kept by a trust, the property was designated a National Historic Landmark for its
    architecture and landscaping, and for the agricultural innovation of
    grafting pecan
    trees, performed here in 1846–47 by an enslaved gardener who had
    particular skill creating a pecan that could be peeled by hand.

    Oak Alley Plantation Louisiana Roadtrip US History Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Oak Alley Plantation Louisiana Roadtrip US History Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Once we had taken our fill of unbelievable photos, we headed along the road to the Creole inspired architecture of the Laura Plantation. Formerly known as Duparc Plantation, it is significant for its early 19th-century Créole-style raised
    big house and several surviving outbuildings, including six slave
    cabins. It is one of only 15 plantation complexes in Louisiana with this
    many complete structures, and has been painstakingly restored after a fire gutted 80% of the building.

    Laura Locoul Gore’s, the fourth mistress of the plantation, wrote a memoir Memories of the Old Plantation Home, providing much of the history and stories about life on Laura Plantatio, whilst Alcée Fortier was said to have collected Louisiana Creole versions of the West African Br’er Rabbit stories here in the 1870s.

    Laura Creole Plantation Louisiana Roadtrip US History Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Unfortunately most of my photos were on the other memory card that I lost in Texas, but I can’t ever forget the shock of hearing that direct descendants of the slave families were living here until 1977 or some of the abuse that indentured servants who effectively raised the children of the families were treated with.

    Currently reliving a ‘lil history on the Laura Plantation where descendants of the original slave families lived until 1977. 1977!? It was a sugar plantation of a French/Creole family. . . . #NewOrleans #NOLA #travelgram #history #aroundtheworld #photomafia #passionpassport #nature #Plantation #nature #bananas #LauraPlantation #travelblogger #travelforeign #mischief #travelingourplanet #wanderlust #myunicornlife #daytripping #Louisiana #travel #offthebeatentrack #liveauthentic #quirky #iamatravelette #mytinyatlas #thehappynow

    A photo posted by Emma (@londonkiwiemma) on



    If nothing else, the visit opened our eyes to the very real history of the Deep South.
      
    A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. 

    Marcus Garvey

    Laura Creole Plantation Louisiana Roadtrip US History Adventures of a London Kiwi


    Would I recommend visiting Oak Alley sand the Laura Plantation as a ‘must do’ when visiting New Orleans and Louisiana? Absolutely. It’s an experience we won’t forget.

    New Orleans Day Tip Plantation Louisiana Roadtrip US History Adventures of a London Kiwi

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    A Louisiana bayou swamp tour – our incredible experience.

    “C’Mon Gators! COME AND EAT US” screams our captain as he lobs chunks of meat over the side of the boat.

    Mr Kiwi and I swap uneasy looks with each other, both wondering if going on a swamp tour was such a brilliant idea after all. Miles from New Orleans we were floating on a glorified tin can, surrounded by rusting steel structures wrapped in mangroves and very little else as far as the eye could see.

    Cajun Swamp Tours New Orleans Bayou Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We wait a just a little bit longer in apprehensive silence*. The
    smooth surface ripples, two prehistoric eyes appear before an elongated
    snout rises out of the murky waters. His** jagged back sways through
    the water as he gets closer and closer to eating us, sorry, start
    nibbling on the scraps of treats our captain threw in the water.

    We all crowd over to the side of the boat, captivated by this primeval
    creature who haunts the Louisiana Bayou. We learn (thanks to our
    cackling captain) that the American alligator can grow up to 11.2 feet
    (3.4 meters) long and
    weigh nearly half a ton (1,000 lbs. or 454 kgs) but, due to the
    time of year, we’ll only probably spot juvenile gators as the adults
    retire with cooler weather to hibernate (or brummate to be technical) in
    their riverbank burrows for the winter.

     Cajun Swamp Tours New Orleans Bayou Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi


    Much relieved, we try to forget the fact that they can swim up to 20 mph (32.18 km/h) – I looked it up – and simply marvel over the surprising grace he has, cutting through the calm swamp surface.

    A congregation of smaller alligators live along the privately owned
    Manchac swamp we are visiting, a wildlife refuge around 25 miles out of
    New Orleans, where native flora and fauna live in an uneasy ecosystem
    that dates back to the dinosaurs. And tourists gasp.

     Cajun Swamp Tours New Orleans Bayou Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    After taking up a little while of his busy gator schedule, we begin to drift along a different stretch of the bayou hoping to spot one of his mates or perhaps even catch a look at a larger, more territorial male that breaches the surface to take a much needed breath.

    We float along peacefully through a few stretches, before the captain opens the full throttle to cane through long empty swathes of swamp. The adrenaline rush was incredible as the sheer speed of the vessel
    knocks any kind of London-induced cobwebs from our brains and the
    strength of the wind takes the breath from our lips. Mr Kiwi likened the rush to the experience of being on a motorbike, making smooth turns and decelerating rapidly.

    Cajun Swamp Tours New Orleans Bayou Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Cajun Swamp Tours New Orleans Bayou Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Trying a few different areas where the vegetation beds are regular haunts for sunning lizards, we cut the speed and are guided through a small village. Sadly the effects of Hurricane Katrina can still be seen with broken houses folded in on themselves. Families are rebuilding their homes & lives on stilts, hoping that they can escape the next bout of extreme weather.

    As we cruise further through, we spot native birds, the occasional turtle and a couple of family dogs that taunt the gators before the speed is cut further, and we glide into altogether more close area of bayou.

    Cajun Swamp Tours New Orleans Bayou Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The interlacing tree branches create paths for gators to lay their eggs and nurture their hatchlings. We manage to peep at a few more baby alligators slipping around, but mostly enjoy the strange stillness of what feels like a very remote pocket of Louisiana. Switching off the motor, we just marvel at the tranquillity of the moment we’re in.

    It also creates the ideal environment for cheeky raccoons to scamper along tree roots and wild pigs to rampage along the undergrowth. Our guide has lived in the areas since he was small and tells us of the amazing seasonal fresh food that the swamp and surrounding areas provides – catfish, shrimp, crabs, crawfish, alligator and all other kinds of deliciousness.

    Cajun Swamp Tours New Orleans Bayou Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Laughing his butt off, our driver guffaws that “uhoh, we’ve run out of gas and won’t be returning to civilisation anytime soon.” We all chuckle and continue to snap our photos, quite safe in the knowledge that he’s stuck with us all for company and probably has scavenging skills that will keep us fed if we really had run out of gas – or that there’s another tour tomorrow morning that would rescue the townies.

    Sadly all good things come to an end, and we begin to make our way back to civilisation and an evening of blues bars and oyster Po-boys. Our swamp tour was definitely one of the unique highlights of our short time in Louisiana, even though it’s a tourist classic.

    Cajun Swamp Tours New Orleans Bayou Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I’m goin’ back some day, come what may, to blue bayou
    Where you sleep all day and the catfish play on blue bayou
    All those fishin’ boats with their sails afloat, if I could only see
    That familiar sunrise through sleepy eyes how happy I’d be

    Cajun Swamp Tours New Orleans Bayou Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Cajun Swamp Tours New Orleans Bayou Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    * OK, that’s a total use of writer’s license – actually the captain was telling us all about the ecological history of the bayou.
    ** We say he, but the boat captain says the only way to tell if a gator is a boy or a girl is to take them in your arms, flip them over and have a good gander. He’s only had one person in his career take him up his offer, and she was a fully trained vet. And crazy.

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    23 of the best places to go in New Orleans

    Please excuse the somewhat clickbait style post title, but I was at a bit of a loss how to describe our time in New Orleans, a city of Louisiana magic. The home of Jazz is heavy with music spilling from each corner, the buildings are redolent with French-style balcony railings perfect for people watching and Mardi Gras beads literally hang from the Jackson Square trees year round. Creole and cajun spices imbue meals with history, a melting pot of cultures mingle in amongst music notes that hover in the air and everyone we’ve ever known to visit talks about the city their eyes light up remembering the joie di vivre.

    Best things to see in New Orleans Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We wanted to love New Orleans. And we most certainly did. We adored our side trips (blatting on a boat through the Bayou to track down the coal-black eyes of alligators and a walk through the history of two quintessential Louisiana Plantations) but the city well and truly stole our wanderlusting hearts. With only 3 full days to spend in the city (2 full and 2 half to be utterly precise) we tried to fit in as much as we could, all the whilst dodging the rain drops that followed us over from Austin. After a 2-month drought.

    (As a sidenote, this is city is where we watched the American presidential elections declare Trump to win, so it feels right to be posting about the magic of NOLA on such a historic weekend. There will always be hope in the amazing people of the US, no matter how his time in office goes. Look at how ‘Nawlins overcame and still is overcoming the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.)

    Best things to see in New Orleans Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Best things to see in New Orleans Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Our favourite, absolutely must-do, have to revisit New Orleans spots were…

    Taking a moment or six to fully appreciate the feeling of being on the banks of the Mississippi River (especially if you can’t spell it) before striding a very quick walk through the hilarious chaos on Bourbon Street
    where tourists shot cheap, nasty liquors. (I think this might mean
    we’re old and I don’t care.)

    Finding ourselves aboard a sunset cruise on a real paddlesteamer, complete with jiving lounge band. Rollin, rolling on the river.


    We discovered a little bar with a proper Dixieland vibe where saxes slid above double basses plucked with funk, toes tapped to the beat of washboards, trumpets danced and singers sang their hearts so blue. After a while we would then walk around another corner, and a brass quartet would smooth out the bars of a pop song before we mooched into a bar where the honky tonk beats were punctuated by lazy ceiling fans.

    We luxuriated in the parade of live Jazz bars on Frenchman Street. We walked out of the pouring rain into the gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous velvet voice of Sarah McCoy a longtime regular of The Spotted Cat Music Club.

    Best things to see in New Orleans Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We had to try Cafe de Monde beignets heaped with powdered sugar and their Chickory laced cafe au lait (honestly, I preferred the coffee to the doughnuts but you can’t win ’em all) and then get lost outside of the French Quarter – there is so much more to this city.

    Best things to see in New Orleans Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Cafe du monde Best things to see in New Orleans Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    (Just refrain from taking beignets into local stores though, the powdered sugar confections are clearly pesky menaces!)

    Best things to see in New Orleans Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

     Singing the Redbone’s Witch Queen of New Orleans at least 7 times.
    I’m gonna tell you a story, strange as it now seems
    of zombie voodoo gris gris and the witch-queen of New Orleans.
    She lived in world of magic, possessed by the devils skew
    from a shack near the swamp lands made of mudpie brick.
    Marie stirred her witches brew…

    Staying in a beautiful hotel like the luxurious and Great Gatsby-esque Whitney Hotel.

    Finally visiting a Guy Fieri approved Diner’s Drive-In’s and Dives establishment such as the delectable local Old Coffee Pot, and eating Oyster Po’Boys as big as our faces.

    Po Boy Where to eat in New Orleans Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Trying a helping of gumbo along with a healthy service of Andoullie sausage and (we did both at the Old Coffee Pot.) This lovely local spot deserves two whole visits.

    Guy Fieri Diners Drive-ins and Dives Where to eat in New Orleans Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Not, er, falling for the tourist-hustling antics of “hey man, I like your shoes…” and end up at least a dollar lighter.

    People watching from a French Quarter balcony, iced tea in hand, as they get tourist-hustled with “hey man, I like your shoes…” and they end up at least a dollar lighter.

    French Quarter New Orleans Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Instagram stalking your friend a week after she visited (totally by coincidence) – nb: absolutely optional

    Popping into the Royal House Oyster Bar for a sundowner and their ridiculously good Bananas Foster Cheesecake. I still dream about this bar – and we walked in totally by accident rather than design, well the first time anyway.

    Where to eat Royal House Oyster Bar French Quarter New Orleans Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Visiting one of the famous cemeteries to pay respect to a host of historical figures final resting places including Marie Laveau’s infamous tomb (we found a brilliant walking tour) including Nicolas Cage’s future white pyramid tomb and the clever, if creepy tactics used to strategically re-use the limited cemetery space of New Orleans.

    Uncovering the real difference between Voodoo and Hoodoo.

    Voodoo New Orleans Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Discovering the friendliness of New Orleans locals. From our sweet-as-apple-pie concierge who upgraded us and recommended us to visit his hometown on our way up to Dallas, all the way to the girl who rearranged our tours to suit the weather a little bit better.

    Staying fashionable at all times*, even in the pouring rain (note how I accessorised the temporary rain mac to match the handbag tucked underneath my elbow.) #realtravel *technically not a place, but it’s my blog and I’ll write what I want 😉

    Marie Laveau French Quarter New Orleans Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Learning how allegedly the name Jazz derives from Jass, the jasmine perfume of prostitutes that frequented the rowdy African American music bars (or a Chicago Baseball team ball term depending on who you ask.)

    Eating blackened ham, sunny-side up eggs and warm buttery biscuits for breakfast at Mothers Restaurant, infamous for their ham. Even when we were there, longshoremen fresh off the river in their wellies (gumboots) and plenty of
    locals rub elbows in line with visitors, veterans, politicians and
    movie stars.

    Riding the antique tramlines that criss-cross the city and nibbling a bag of caramel encrusted pecan nuts.

    Spotting the Mardi Gras beads. Everywhere.

    Mardi Gras French Quarter New Orleans Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Learning the fascinating historical links that Jackson Square has had over the years – including from the 1920s through the 1980s as a gathering place of painters of widely varying talents. Oh, and the association with to quote our guide, a “rather dodgy” seventh President of the US, Andrew Jackson.

    Our only regret was missing a visit to Mardi Gras World – the workshop/museum which gives a close-up look at some of the flamboyant floats and costumes used during New Orleans’ famous party. To book your own hotel stay (we paid for this in full) feel free to use the booking.com affiliate link here for your own magical adventure.

    (Oh, and a bonus thing not to do – don’t accidentally drive on the tramlines – it was a rather stressful beginning to our roadtrip…)

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    Best Places to go in New Orleans Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi

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    The Whitney Hotel, New Orleans – Luxury hotel review

    New Orleans. Home of Jazz, revelry, voodoo, beignets and hickory coffee – quite simply the stuff of travel legend. Smooth on the surface, ‘Nawlins’ is a historic city reaching back into the turbulent past of the deep South and the more recent devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina (still on the lips of the locals) and further natural disasters, if you delve a little closer New Orleans wears her scars alongside the celebration of Mardi Gras beads.

    The Whitney Hotel Review Four Star Luxury New Orleans Adventures of a London Kiwi

    When we were researching from the comfort of our London couch, we were hesitant about booking a hotel that we would be exploring from. Not so young anymore, we didn’t fancy staying in the tipsy tourist-filled French Quarter but equally we couldn’t bear to be too far away from the fun.

    After our rustic Austin cabin we decided a touch of opulence was just what the Doctor ordered. Flickering through pages of OK-enough sounding hotel rooms and apartments, one rainy afternoon I stumbled upon The Whitney Hotel. Promising 4-star luxury full of historic character and close enough to stumble home from the mischievous spirits of Bourbon Street, I booked our room in eager anticipation.

    Where to stay in New Orleans The Whitney Hotel Adventures of a London Kiwi

    It was like walking into a roaring 1920’s – it could have been a scene of the Great Gatsby.

    The Whitney Hotel Review Four Star Luxury New Orleans Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We were greeted at the Whitney Hotel check-in desk with a full serving of Southern hospitality that we came to adore in Louisiana. With old-fashioned brass bank teller’s glasses perched on his nose and a Southern drawl we could have listened to for hours, we chatted with our concierge who smoothly took our details, considered his screen and after a moment’s pause looks back to us and says “well, as it’s your first visit to our city I do believe that I am at liberty to upgrade your stay here with us.”

    Where to stay in New Orleans The Whitney Hotel Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Quietly squealing inside at this unexpected birthday present, we wheeled our cases through the corridors and admired the beautifully restored former bank (actually a real bank still operates handily on the other side of the buildings.) Taking name inspiration from the city’s first Whitney Bank branch built around 1890, the New Orleans Collection group have preserved much of the old bank’s lobby and even restored its vintage vault as a private dining room.

    Where to stay in New Orleans The Whitney Hotel Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Our four-room suite was just as luxurious. Fitted out with a ridiculously comfortable bed that we sank into each night, the perfect desk for making last-minute arrangements from, a lounge that we settled into the comfortable couches to check on the brewing election results, a coffee machine complete with takeaway cups perfect for dashing into the city with and a Bluetooth-enabled radio/alarm that we set up with our favourite tunes over the great WiFi, we were very happy. Everything that we wanted to explore was within a 10-minute walk – the great Mississippi River, the trolley services to other areas of the city, Cafe du Monde just along the riverbank, a shopping centre along the way where we eventually picked up our rental car and of course the pounding beat of the French Quarter.

    The Whitney Hotel Review Four Star Luxury New Orleans Adventures of a London Kiwi

    With the promise of piping hot beignets and chicory coffee down the road, we didn’t manage to try the breakfast or remember at the end of our long days exploring to try the cocktails in the prohibition-style bar which were my only regrets staying in this slice of New Orleans history.

    To book your own hotel stay (we paid for this in full) feel free to use the booking.com affiliate link here for your own magical adventure at the Whitney Hotel.

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    Where to stay in New Orleans Louisiana Adventures of a London Kiwi.

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    How to drive in America (a Kiwi perspective from the wrong side of the road)

    Covering 800 miles of American freeways in less than 10 days is something I never thought I’d do to be honest – an inexperienced driver at best I’ve driven short distances (and through a Florida tropical storm from Cape Canaveral back to our Orlando apartment) – but somehow we survived unscathed driving diagonally the length of Louisiana from New Orleans to Shreveport, through the crazy traffic of Dallas and along the long, undulating motorways of Texas.

    How to drive in the US on holiday Adventures of a London Kiwi

    How to drive in the US on holiday Adventures of a London Kiwi

    It was amazing. We saw places that we never would have been able to explore, it gave us a freedom to nip into cute restaurants we spotted from the road and stay in a couple of really quirky hotels off the beaten track.

    We intentionally hired a small car, ending up with a Scarlet Nissan which I christened Bonnie (both named for our lovely waitress one morning and after the infamous Bonnie & Clyde). She was automatic and had a sweet spot around 75miles/hr (or 120km/hr, I’m so glad I hadn’t converted that over whilst in the US) but best of all (I think) the colour and size marked us out as tourists amidst the white 4-wheel drives that all the locals drove.

    Tips for driving in America on holiday Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We flew (hopped really, on the American Airways buses of the sky) from Austin to New Orleans to avoid the chaotic traffic jams of Houston and taxied around Dallas (mostly to give me a break from concentrating – we got some of the best recommendations from our drivers though, one restaurant we visited two nights in a row) but our hours on the road were definitely some of our favourite.

    Louisiana has one of the highest speed limits in the continental US and some beautiful camber, whilst Texas seemed a little slower but had more 18-wheeler trucks sharing the tarmac with my admittedly Nana driving.

    Tips for driving in America on holiday Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The driving is super quick, but I simply kept in the right-hand lane to 5 miles under the speed limit which was comfortable
    for my confidence – and helped us avoid the $175 Louisiana speeding fines. At the start of the trip I was a nervous wreck, that night almost falling asleep in the hot tub in our hotel from exhaustion after clenching the steering wheel all day. By the end of our mammoth road trip I was changing lanes with ease, occasionally floating in the middle lane before tucking back in behind trucks and sauntering out of the car with keys jangling on my fingers.

    I’ll be honest, and admit that did we encounter a couple of scary situations – a truck driver changing lanes not allowing me enough time to enter a motorway (I luckily just popped into a shoulder lane), getting lost in the middle of Dallas skyscrapers (we jammed every device we had onto navigation), accidentally assuming a road was much narrower than it really was (luckily the road was relatively quiet so I just guided her nimbly over to the correct lane) and dodging some of the twits who pulled out in front of us – one with a trailer full of wood – but overall it really was fine.

    Tips for driving in America on holiday Adventures of a London Kiwi

    I doubt much of this is helpful, but a few things/tips to bear in mind when planning an American roadtrip are;

    CHECK YOUR CAR INSURANCE BEFORE YOU START DRIVING.

    Photograph the dents in your car when you pick it up, just in case.

    Rest. We stopped every hour or so, just to grab a drink and stretch our legs, my Dad’s voice echoing in my head every day.

    It’s totally OK to call your family in England to check if you can put tap water in the window washing reservoir. (As a student and before smartphones invented, I once call my Dad to check how long to boil potatoes for. They’ll still love you, they’ll just laugh a little at you.)

    DON’T PANIC.

    We planned to mostly drive in the middle of the day to miss the city rush hours and allow loads of time to stop and do random things.

    Buck-ees have nice restrooms and are all along the highways BUT hopping out at a small town gas station can be quite an eye opener.

    There weren’t as many signs to stop and see random things as we were hoping, but luckily a touch of Google research provided ample sufficiency. 

    Tips for driving in America on holiday Adventures of a London Kiw

    ‘scuse the blurry photo…

    DO NOT PASS STOPPED SCHOOL BUSES OR POLICE CARS (OR AT LEAST SLOW RIGHT DOWN PAST THE POLICE CARS)

    We downloaded an app that was perfect when we drove around Florida (NavFree I think?) but the best app we found en route was still Google Maps as it assisted with picking lanes in the busy city junctions but it can be a data vacuum and unhelpful when there is patchy data signals.

    DON’T SPEND ALL THE TIME DRIVING – we probably needed an extra day really – with traffic etc most 60 minute distances were really around 75 minutes which adds up over a few days and there was an additional place we fancied visiting (but we demurred as it would have meant 5hours+ driving one day).

    MOST IMPORTANTLY KIDS: DON’T EAT SERVICE STATION SANDWICHES, GO DEEP-FRIED.

    Driving again has given me a real confidence boost oh how I miss the convenience of four wheels. Whilst planning our next road trip away, I think I’m gonna start working on my next bumper sticker that says “My Other Car Is A Boat.”

    Tips for driving in America on holiday Adventures of a London Kiw

     Have you ever driven on the wrong side of the road? Would you?

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    Tips for driving in America on holiday Adventures of a London Kiwi

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