This past May, our merry friend Ashley from LA set off for several months on an adventure to the summery UK and the sun-soaked shores of Spain! We first met Ashley through her colourful and joyful account, @dancingwithflyingcolors, where she shares her lifestyle and fashion tips, books she’s been loving and recently, the adventures she’s been on.
And now, just for our Merry community, she’s spilling the secrets of her cute, mix-and-match travel wardrobe, sharing where her favourite spots were, and revealing the ultimate must-haves for any wanderer…
We have loved following along on your summer trip! We’re curious; what did you plan to do on your trip, and what was the spur of the moment?
Thank you so much! It was truly refreshing and inspiring getting to experience such beautiful places this summer! I’m still in awe of the things I got to experience on my trip. My significant other currently lives in Spain so I was planning my trip around seeing him, his family and exploring new places together.
First thing on the itinerary was London. From touristy spots like the London Eye, Big Ben, Covent Garden to the coastal city of Southend-On-Sea… getting to go back to London especially when the sun was out, was a treat! The second I landed in London was go go go, we only had a week there so every day was planned out down to the hour!
Then we flew to Málaga, Spain. I had two months in Spain so I didn’t have a huge itinerary to follow but I did make a list of places I wanted to experience. Whenever I travel I try to look up activities, restaurants, and fun things to do in the area. Most are planned when I’m there and a majority of them are spur of the moment.
Here are some of the cities I got to go to in Spain: Marbella, Estepona, Benahavís, Torremolinos, Puerto Banús, and loads of beautiful beaches up the coast! Gibraltar was a little road trip and spur of the day thing - it’s part of the UK but on the coast of Spain it was MY FAVOURITE place I highly recommend!
Putting together cute outfits on a backpacking holiday is a gift! What tips and tricks have you learned on how to put together a “wanderlust wardrobe” that is cute, comfy, mix-and-matchable… and most importantly, fits in a suitcase!
I used to be quite the overpacker - just throwing everything I think would look cute but definitely not practical in my suitcase. Packing for two (usually) dramatically different countries when it comes to weather, forced me to use the “less is more” motto, while still wearing fun, stylish things that made me feel good. It started off as a challenge and now I'll be using these tricks on all of my travels:
- My first tip is to narrow down bottoms and only have 1-2 pairs MAX of each.
- Then pack more tops to balance it out. It may seem impossible but the amount of versatile outfits you can create by just wearing different tops/bottoms is worth it.
- TRY ALL OUTFITS ON - if you’re iffy or unsure about it when it’s on at home you won’t wear it at ALL on your trip trust me.
- Also it helps me to see visually what bottoms go with what tops and shoes etc. Packing cubes! I organized my suitcase using packing cubes. It helped tremendously! I had a cube for each, for example all dresses fit in one, all bottoms fit in one, tops, swim etc.
Speaking of cute outfits… For your trip, you brought along with you the Billie Clogs in Chilli Red, and a pair of Bobbi Boots in Lavender! Why did you choose these colours, and what did you love about travelling with them?
First of all this may still fit into the packing question but packing two (yet again) drastically different in colour and versatility pairs helped me narrow down outfits. It just makes me happy wearing bright fun prints and colours!
I packed the Billie Clogs in Chilli Red because whether I’m walking the streets of London with bright red double decker buses or strolling through courtyards in Spain with colourful flowers hanging, the clogs just went perfectly! They’re so fun for any getaway, they’re extremely comfortable and make every look POP!
I thought the Lavender Bobbi Boots were so unique when I first saw them! I don’t own anything like them so naturally I gravitated towards them because of the colour. I loved traveling with both of these pairs because they made me feel 100% ME, they’re so fun, they brought all my outfits together and I’m not even joking when I say I had people on different occasions come up to me to ask me where I got them.
Finding surprising and unique places is one of the best things about travelling. What were some hidden and delightful gems that you stumbled across in your travels?
Ah this is so hard to narrow down but I’ll try my best based on my own experiences. If you find yourself in London it’s easy to go to all of the popular spots or touristy places but my favourite thing is walking everywhere because that’s when you really stumble upon things you wouldn’t necessarily find otherwise.
I’m a huge activity gal so two of my favourite places I went to were Puttshack and Flightclub. One is miniature golf mixed with technology and the other one is similar but with darts. They both made perfect date nights!
I highly recommend visiting Southend-On-Sea. The Southend Pier is the world’s longest pleasure pier. For Spain I loved not having a plan and walking around each city's old towns.
Marbella had the most beautiful old town full of courtyard restaurants, fountains and hole in the wall spots. I went back there a few times to try different places. Gibraltar which is located on the south coast of Spain is a must see; it has the only wild monkeys in Europe! We did a day trip and booked a tour of the rock which was breathtaking. I only wish we had more time here since we saw the most stunning beaches from the top of the rock and didn’t even know they existed until the tour.
We continued to stumble upon gorgeous beaches and I always love that each beach has sunbeds and restaurants right on the sand. Some of my favourites were: Salduna Beach, Playa Del Cristo, and Playa Ancha Costa Del Sol. Benahavís was another favourite place. We stumbled upon one of those glass lookouts, a STUNNING staircase, and yummy tapas. Everything there was right out of a postcard. There’s also a hike we did and a river swim which we came back to another day.
Lastly, one day we randomly wanted to go to a water park to stay cool. Let me tell you this was THE BEST DAY EVER. Going to a water park as an adult is liberating! We went to Aqualand in Torremolinos and bought the fast passes so we could experience every water slide multiple times. I have so many more recommendations and spots we found spur of the moment but then this would go on for days!
How did you manage to find the right balance between exploring all the sights and taking time to relax and recharge during your travels? Share your tips from this trip for juggling adventure and downtime.
I’ve been extremely fortunate to have traveled to so many different countries throughout my life. Let me tell you, balancing between exploring and relaxing is still something I’m learning but this trip helped. I live in LA so it feels like everyone’s always constantly on the go but it’s so important for me to find time to relax even during my travels. These are just a few of the ways I do this!
- Reading is one of my favourite hobbies, I always try to wake up reading a few chapters of a book or get outside to read and I did this on my trip as a way to unwind, unplug and get off any screens.
- I also made time to do pilates since that always makes me feel good inside and out.
- My tips from this trip would be to start the week with some things you want to try (it can be a restaurant, exploring a new city, something that you really have been wanting to do on this trip etc.) and make sure to communicate to whoever you’re traveling with. So you’re both or all on the same page. Make plans but also be open to living in the moment and stumbling upon places because you never know what beautiful scene or adventure is waiting for you around the corner.
Now that you're back home, we bet that travel bug is still alive and well! Where are your Merry People boots going to take you next on your merry adventures?
The travel bug never leaves me, it's a problem! I’ll be taking my Merry People boots and/or clogs with me on lots of adventures! Currently I have Las Vegas and Miami booked. I will possibly be going back to London for Christmas so the boots will be perfect for all the rain. Heck some of my trips are even spur of the moment so you’ll have to follow along to see where I go next!