Travel blogger planning a trip

A Surprise Adventure

It’s been five long torturous months of having to keep this secret to myself and now I can finally share it.  Mr Ayla turned 30 yesterday and I’d planned a little surprise for his birthday.  There may actually be a few of you (okay possibly a lot of you) who already know about this surprise – I may not have been able to share it with my husband but the excitement was too much not to share with anyone at all!

Mr Ayla woke up on his birthday morning to be greeted with a treasure hunt leading him to a selection of clues around the house and finally to his big surprise…

Travel blogger planning a trip

Yep…we’re going to the USA!!!

He was incredibly surprised and happy and he even cried a little bit (but don’t tell him I told you that).

We leave in less than a month and will be starting off the 2 week trip in style by heading straight to Las Vegas for all its bright lights, themed hotels, incredible shows and eccentric nightlife.  Since researching the famed Sin City I’ve come to realise that there is so much more to Vegas than just gambling and getting a hangover (although I’m sure we’ll be doing a bit of those too!).  Then we’ll jump in a car and head towards the Grand Canyon for a couple of days exploring one of the biggest Wonders of the World.

Next it’s onto San Francisco for a few days of bike rides, boat tours, city views and lots of brunches before we pick up our funky campervan and head towards the stunning vistas of Yosemite.

The next part of the trip will be spent driving down the coast of California along the Pacific Coast Highway from Monterey to Los Angeles.  We love a road trip and as long as we manage to decipher how to drive an automatic on the other side of the road (I may just leave this task to Mr Ayla while I navigate/sing along to the road trip album from the passenger seat), I cannot wait to cruise along the Big Sur, one of the most scenic road trips in the world.  Coastal views, whale watching, national parks, secluded waterfalls and cute little beachfront towns.  I can imagine that we won’t ever want to leave!

Then a few last days spent beach hopping from Santa Barbara and Malibu to Santa Monica and Venice Beach, before ending our trip LA.

I absolutely cannot wait!!

Aside from all the sightseeing, I already have a list long enough to make a novel of all the mouth-watering restaurants and foods that will be at our fingertips during the trip.  Brunch spots in San Fran, food trucks in LA, buffets in Vegas and of course I’ve already scoped out the best cocktail bars in every city.

If you read my 30 Before 30 post last month, you’ll notice that I’ll be ticking quite a few off my list during this trip!  Roadtrippin’ in our campervan, sleeping under the stars in Yosemite, visiting a new Wonder of the World, seeing a Cirque due Soleil show, and braving riding a bike across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Travel blogger planning a trip

I’ll be honest that this isn’t my normal sort of trip – I usually prefer to travel to places that have a completely different culture to us at home, which probably explains my huge love for Africa.  So apart from previous trips to New York and Florida, I’ve never really been overly keen on visiting the USA.  But it’s somewhere that Alex has always dreamed of going and I wanted to treat him to something special for his birthday seeing as he’s getting on a bit now 😉

But once I started looking into the trip I found myself getting more and more enthusiastic about our destination and it was so hard not to share everything with him that I came across in my many hours of research.  So now I’m even more thrilled that I can finally get excited with my favourite travel buddy.

Happy birthday Mr Ayla! (PS. Remember it’s my 30th next year.  Just saying.)

Have you been to this part of the USA?  Where was your favourite place?  I’d love some tips or recommendations for our trip in the comments below or at:

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81 thoughts on “A Surprise Adventure

  1. Emily Ray says:

    Best. Surprise. EVER! Happy Birthday Mr Ayla! And super well done Mrs Ayla 😉 Can’t wait to hear all about your US adventures — I know you’re going to have the absolute BEST time!! xx

    • Ayla says:

      Your trip has made me so excited Emily! And thank god I’ve had you to ask for any advice and tips as I haven’t been able to talk to Mr Ayla about it! 🙂

  2. jogonmum says:

    Just bloody awesome! I’m so envious right now!!! Can’t wait to read all about it! Way to go Mrs Ayla – Mr Ayla is one lucky man, what a fantastic birthday surprise! My sister and hubby visited some of those places for their honeymoon and had the most amazing time! 😊🇺🇸xxx

  3. Taylor Hearts Travel says:

    You’re the best wife! You’re putting me to shame 🙈

    Seriously though, well done on creating such a perfect trip and for being so thoughtful. I can definitely recommend lots of things in San Fran -Blazzing Saddles bike ride, The Plant for lunch, Mamas for breakfast, secret cocktail bar…the list goes on! I think the challenge will be squeezing it all into two weeks! You’re going to have the BEST time! X

    • Ayla says:

      You have already been so much help Char especially as I haven’t been able to talk to Alex about any of it so far! I’ve already told him that Mama’s is the one place I am set on going despite the queuing time! But secret cocktail bar?? Where is this?! I think I’m going to need to go here 🙂

  4. connie says:

    Hooray – the secret is finally out! You’ll both love it – all the memories from our trip are rushing back now… we had such a fantastic time – sunsets on Big Sur, seal spotting in Moneterey, a visit to the over the top Heart’s Castle, Alcatraz, watching cars wind up and down Lombard St…

  5. Catherine Lux* (@luxlifeblog) says:

    Eeek amazing!!! I went on a West Coast roadtrip back in 2012 with my family to celebrate my 21st birthday, and it was so amazing! The Pacific Coast road is just breathtaking, agh I wanna go back to badly. Ok, now imma go read my old blog posts to relive the memories…haha!

  6. Suzanne Jones says:

    Sounds fantastic and lots of elements from our trip last year which we absolutely loved! Tip: We saw Cirque (The Beatles Love) and got our tickets directly from the Mirage Hotel (just go in) they were the cheapest we found and included a round of drinks 😉

    • Ayla says:

      Already got our Cirque tickets! Alex got them for me for my birthday – I ordered the tickets and he just assumed we were seeing it in London! May try and squeeze in another show though if there’s anything available while we’re out there 🙂

  7. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) says:

    You are just the sweetest wife ever! When Pumpkin turned 30, I took him to the err…. Cotswolds for the weekend 😀 Then again, we’d not been together that long so he might have thought me a bit bonkers if I’d have thrown him a surprise this grand! You both deserve this wonderful trip & I for one will eagerly follow along and then pinch your itinerary one day if and when we go!

    • Ayla says:

      The Cotswolds are lovely! And yes we’ve been together for almost 13 years so maybe you can aim for a big surprise for his 40th! I’m so excited – thanks for keeping my secret for so long and nodding along when we were talking about seeing Cirque in London hehe! ❤

  8. Paper Planes and Caramel Waffles says:

    Ayla, if there were a “Best Wife of The Year” award, I’m pretty sure it would go to you! What an epic birthday present for Mr Ayla! He must be so excited! And you don’t have long to wait either! I’ve never been to the west coast of America so I can’t wait to hear what adventures you go on, especially in Yosemite, it would be a dream to go there!

    • Ayla says:

      I’ll pass on your comments to Mr Ayla and I’ll expect my award soon 😉 We’re both super excited and Yosemite especially is one of the places we’re looking forward to most. Maybe our trip will give you some inspiration to go too!

  9. nicoladunkinson says:

    Wow, what a fantastic birthday surprise! My husband and I did a similar west coast road trip in a camper back in August and had the best time! I would really recommend stopping at Nepenthe for a glass of wine on the Big Sur, the views are meant to be incredible. (I say ‘meant to be’ as sadly there was a lot of fog on the afternoon we stopped so we couldn’t see much!!) But so many people recommended it to me for the views! Also stop at Point Piedras Blancas to see the elephant seals. I’m sure you’ve got it all planned but I’ve got a couple of posts over on my blog about the Big Sur and camping in California. Look forward to reading about all your adventures! 🙂

    • Ayla says:

      I’ve heard loads of great things about Nepenthe so we’ll definitely be stopping there. Thanks Nicola, I’ll definitely take a look at your posts – can’t do enough research especially when it comes from other bloggers 🙂

  10. Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad says:

    Oh wow! That sounds like such a fun trip. I’ve never been to the US at all so this all sounds like a grand adventure. I know what you mean about wanting to travel to different cultures, but I am sometimes surprised at how different things are under the surface of cultures that seem similar to our own….

    Good work on the 30 before 30 as well – mine is looking sketchy and I’ve only got a few months to go!

    • Ayla says:

      I’ve been told that Vegas has a whole different culture of its own so maybe I’ll get my culture fix there 😉

      You best get moving then if you only have a few months to go! I’m sure you can fit in a good few in that time.

    • Ayla says:

      It was pretty hard to keep such a big secret to be honest! I needed someone to share in the excitement with me, so I’m very glad he finally knows now!

  11. Kasha says:

    YAYYYY, now I don’t have to keep quiet around Mr Ayla anymore! Seriously the best birthday present anyone could ask for, and you’ve put together an amazing and varied itinerary!

    Well done for pulling off the excellent surprise, my friend, and can’t wait to follow the adventure! ❤

  12. casstravels says:

    What an amazing surprise! And you’re going to have a great time – I promise driving an automatic is easier than whatever the cars over here have (clutches and such – clearly I haven’t mastered them!)
    Sounds like you’re all planned but if you need any last minute advice, let me know! The Grand Canyon is one of my favourites – so epic and stunning and unlike anything I’ve seen here. Enjoy!!!

    • Ayla says:

      Thanks Cassie! I might just take your word on it and let Mr Ayla do most of the driving 😉 Ooh have you written about it at all? I’ll check out your blog for any posts 🙂

  13. Sarah says:

    Wow what a great trip you’ve got planned. Have an amazing time. I hope you’re also thinking about a trip for your 30th as well 🙂 That’s got me thinking too…

  14. FlashandFrugal says:

    This sounds like a great plan! I did a very similar trip a few years ago and honestly couldn’t tell you which my favourite part was. At a puuush I’d probably say Yosemite, as the incredible INcredible natural beauty of it is literally stunning. Having said that, I loved Las Vegas and ended up staying there for 10 days so… Also, in LA I loved Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, basically all the beaches. It was amazing, in summary!

    • Ayla says:

      Okay your enthusiasm about everywhere has totally make me even more excited for the trip – if that’s even possible! Each place looks amazing in a completely different way so I can’t wait for it all 😀

  15. luxurycolumnist says:

    What a fabulous surprise for Mr Ayla! I’ve always wanted to visit California, looking forward to reading all about it. Is it somewhere that youv’e always wanted to go together?

    • Ayla says:

      I’ve never really been too keen on the US to be honest – prefer places with different cultures to us – but it’s always been on Mr Ayla’s wish list. Now I’ve booked it though I obviously can’t wait to go!

  16. Polly (Follow Your Sunshine) says:

    I’ve been trying to comment on this all week! I can’t think of a better present – Mr A is a very lucky man 🙂 your itinerary is out of this world, and I’m super excited about reading all about it once you’re done! I reckon you’ve built up enough brownie points to last you a lifetime here, excellent work!

    Polly xx

    • Ayla says:

      Haha thanks Polly! Well I did mention to him that it’s my 30th next year and he has about 11 months to plan so we’ll see how many brownie points he thinks I should get lol 😉

  17. The Foodie Diaries says:

    What a fabulous surprise, Mr. Ayla is one lucky fella! Hope you guys have an absolutely wonderful time 🙂 I’ve never made it past the East Coast in the States, so from Vegas, to L.A. I’m going be travelling vicariously through your adventures! xxx

    • Ayla says:

      Well I’ve scouted out a whole load of amazing looking foodie spots so maybe our adventures will tempt you into visiting yourself 😉

  18. aeparker81 says:

    You are a good wife indeed – I can’t imagine how you kept that secret, so much planning! I took Mr P to Venice for his 40th and was fit to burst on that and all I did was book flights and a hotel… Look forward to following this adventure!

  19. Nita says:

    Yayy! You’re finally able to share it with him!! Can imagine how excited he must have been. You are definitely an awesome wife. And he better have something kickass planned for you next year.. Haha! Especially since you’re being so subtle!! 😉 Anyways, I’m very excited for you.. It’s definitely gonna be lots of fun.. Enjoy!

    • Ayla says:

      Thanks Nita and thanks for all your helpful tips! Haha I was being really subtle wasn’t I? I’m not hinting for a little trip myself at all 😉

  20. Steph says:

    Surprise 30th trips are the best! Bet you are so glad you can share your excitement with him now…and hope he returns the favour for you next year 😉

    • Ayla says:

      Extremely glad I can finally share it all with him! Haha, well I’m the planner in this marriage so we’ll have to see how my 30th turns out 😉

  21. thegrownupgapyear says:

    YAY! I agree that you are an absolutely amazing wife! Can’t believe how much time and effort you put into organising it all. You are going to have such a fantastic time – give Yosemite our love, it’s where we got engaged so will always be very special to us😀 Btw, was Mr Ayla happy that all of his spending money is sorted? 😉 xx

    • Ayla says:

      Ha! Yes, he was extremely happy that a little pixie had been collecting money for him hahaha!! I will give Yosemite lots of love for you 🙂

      • vagabondfeminist says:

        STILL cannot believe he didn’t notice all that money disappearing out of his pockets at night! 😀 Soooo pleased no one gave away the secret, especially after announcing it at Christmas!

  22. Nano from #TravelWithNanoB says:

    Honestly, reading this post felt electric! I felt every bit of excitement from every word you wrote and I am so happy for you!!! I absolutely LOVE your itinerary. I did the exact same trip in 2014 and it was so much more exciting than I could even imagine. Las Vegas is a blast, and like you rightly acknowledged, there is so much more than just gambling and booze. My husband and I loved the fine dining and enjoyed Cirque du Soleil too! As for California, it is stunning and unforgettable, although Northern part starting from the Big Sur up to Napa Valley was my favorite. Anyhow, I cannot wait to hear about your trip in the months to come. Will keep an eye on your Instagram. 😉 Happy birthday to Mr. Ayla!! xoxo, nano

    • Ayla says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words Nano! I’m so glad you had such an amazing trip too – going to check out your blog now for some inspiration 🙂

  23. ttbchloe says:

    Wow! What a great gift to give your hubby!! I need to step up my game a little bit. I’m from California and if you need any tips for CA or Vegas, feel free to email me! You’re going to have such a great trip and so cliche, but order some in and out!! Animal style fries too 🙂 xo

  24. Packing my Suitcase says:

    Yaaaayy I was one of the people who knew… when I was in London I remember you mentioning it to me 😀 if I’d give this gift to W he would certainly cry too. he lived in SF for a year and misses it lot… he’s crazy about California. I think you will love it too 😀 it’s a very different part of the US than the ones you visited! I can’t wait to read all about it, I’m already excited just with the planning hahaha!

    • Ayla says:

      Well if W has any tips then send please send them my way! This is why I love chatting to other bloggers so much because you get just as excited about me even just about the planning 🙂

      • Packing my Suitcase says:

        I hope it’s not too late (I know you are now in Vegas :D), but hubby has some tips for SF: Buena Vista Park is amazing, go up the towers for great views, for night out go to Soma (South of Market Street), and try to visit Tiburon, a little fisherman city north of the Golden Gate Bridge 😀 I hope it helps 😀 enjoy you guys!

  25. October's Girl says:

    I LOVED California when we visited nearly 2 years ago. The Pacific Highway drive is stunning, and San Francisco is so quirky and fun. You have to go and visit the sea lions on Pier 39 and take a trip to Alcatraz! We used Streets of San Francisco bike tours ( for a cycle tour around the city, which I’d thoroughly recommend. And if you go past Pismo Beach on your roadtrip down the coast, you should visit Splash Cafe for some awesome Clam Chowder! (

    Sophie 🙂

    • Ayla says:

      Fab tips – thank you! Already got our tickets to Alcatraz and definitely want to visit the sea lions. I’ll make a note of all these – the clam chowder sounds pretty delicious 🙂

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