25 hotels, 19,500 miles, 6 suitcases and 2 wedding dresses...
Words by Whitney and Megan Bacon-Evans
I was working full time in human resources and Whitney was working full time in digital marketing. We had successfully conquered four years of long distance between the UK and Hawaii and had been living together for six years with a cute cat in Windsor, England.
We were planning our destination wedding in Palm Springs, California and honeymoon in Maui. Whitney was missing America, its culture and her family and friends, so we decided to do what most sensible people would do in the midst of planning and funding a wedding…
… To quit our jobs.
Yes, that’s right. We decided this would be the perfect opportunity to go travelling around America.
I should probably also mention that we’re social media influencers, running our blog What Wegan Did Next, and so saw this as a great opportunity to fully commit our attention to running our social media accounts. We also run a successful dating website, Find Femmes, and have even brewed our own beer, B.A.B.E. IPA.
But the decision to quit our full time professional jobs wasn’t an easy one.
As the English, pragmatic one, I was far more unsure than Whitney, the ever-positive American who always thinks that everything will work out just fine.
Originally wanting a career break, I decided to take the plunge and leave my job instead, to let life show us what it has in store for us.
We decided to split three months into three different states; California for September, Hawaii for October and Kentucky/ Tennessee (where Whitey’s family lives) for November. We aren’t the best planners in the world, but luckily we got to partner up with awesome tourism boards, such as Visit California, and hotels that went above and beyond to make sure we enjoyed our stay.
We had last minute Skype calls with our wedding planners, COJ Events, to finalise our wedding as well as wedding dress fittings, alongside being filmed for Say Yes To The Dress UK a mere few weeks before jetting off to LA.
Thanks to our wonderful dress designer Christine Dando, we were boarding our Virgin flight from London to LA with our wedding dresses in hand (we literally hadn’t even had time to buy fancy boxes to put them in, so the Virgin team helped us wrap bright orange tape around them!)
Thanks to the Virgin Press team, we kicked our travels off in style with an upgrade to first class, sipping champagne and chatting to Ru Paul Drag Race judge Michelle Visage.
When we landed in LA, it didn’t really hit home that our lives were going to be in countless hotels for three months. With the wedding a mere 4 weeks away, we hit the gym on the first morning… And never returned for the whole trip.
I wouldn’t recommend travelling for weeks before your wedding, with all the wonderful Californian food probably not the best diet before the big day, but we did get to enjoy a lot of tasty vegan food.
We spent the first few nights in super gay and glorious West Hollywood, experiencing The Standard (where Sex and the City was filmed) and The Mondrian with its gorgeous pool area. We felt like true Californians with a trip to The Shape House (as seen on KUWTK) to sweat out all of our toxins.
It was a bit like lying down on a first class flight inside the hottest sleeping bag of your life – but you do get to watch Netflix. We came out feeling rejuvenated and wanting to do it again. We also got to try out Training Mate, set up by crazy fun loving Aussies (as seen on Khloe’s Revenge Body).
Finally, our road trip began, as we cruised in our Landrover Discovery rental from Hertz, with the first stop at Newport Beach, followed by the gorgeous wine country Temecula, where we thoroughly enjoyed sampling at the vineyards.
Next we headed to San Diego and enjoyed hanging out with the Sea Lions at La Jolla Cove before we headed onto a very different stay up in the mountains at Big Bear Lake. We stayed in super cute retro but modernised cabins by Noon Lodge and embraced nature with a double kayak in the lake (we opted out of paddle boarding for fear of breaking an arm one week before our nuptials!)
Before we knew it, we were heading for Palm Springs, the destination of our wedding. First we had a relaxing stay at the most beautiful La Quinta Resort & Spa, which has 41 pools on site! We were getting wedding ready with a meditation session, followed by a massage and pedicure.
This was followed by greatly indulging ourselves during our wedding food tasting at Avalon Hotels and then delicious cake tasting at Over the Rainbow desserts with our wonderful wedding planners COJ Events.
The wedding was nearly here, so we checked in the new and chic hotel La Serena Villas, equipped with a wall full of Frida Kahlo framed pictures before checking into our wedding venue.
All our guests from the UK and around the USA (Kentucky, Tennessee, Hawaii, Arizona) started to arrive and before we knew it, we were in our wedding dresses getting ready to say ‘I do’ in front of our nearest and dearest.
After the most perfect, fun and loving day and finally becoming wife and wife, Mrs & Mrs, we jetted off to Hawaii with my parents. Not your traditional start to a honeymoon, but we wanted to show them where Whitney used to live and where we got engaged, Waimanalo beach.
We had a wonderful start at the oldest hotel in Waikiki, the Moana Surfrider, with its very own banyan tree that has been there for over 100 years, and then headed to the North Shore and stayed at Turtle Bay (where Forgetting Sarah Marshall is filmed).
After a couple more days back in Waikiki, at the new urban oasis The Laylow Hotel, with its chic rooftop bar The Hideout, it was finally time for our official honeymoon to start as just the two of us, so we jetted off to relax at the beautiful Four Seasons Maui.
Under the glistening Hawaiian sun, we swam up to the bar in the pool to enjoy a Mai Tai in a real pineapple, followed by Rose & Lei (sipping rose wine while you make leis), being serenaded with our wedding song at Ferraro’s restaurant. We spent our last night watching the sunset as we sipped champagne at FS Maui Champagne & Oyster Pop Up.
After the most perfect honeymoon, it was back to Oahu for a couple more weeks to catch up with friends and soak up the sun. We luckily got to stay at the Royal Hawaiian hotel, known as the ‘Pink Palace’ – everything is pink, including their pancakes!
Two months had passed and it felt like we had been away for a lifetime, but it was time to swap our summer clothes for jumpers and boots as we headed to Kentucky – though we had a quick pit stop on the way to see Britney Spears in Las Vegas, as you do.
Once in the South, we spent time with Whitney’s family, drank sweet tea, sampled bourbon on a Woodfood Reserve Tour, and enjoyed downtown Lexington with a stay at the quirky hotel meets gallery/museum 21 C.
A quick road trip took us to Knoxville, Tennessee where we stayed at the charming Oliver Hotel in the old city’s market square and sampled Knoxville-made gin, beer and donuts. Last but not least, we crossed a bucket list item off by visiting music city Nashville and a concert at The Opry (Ryman Theatre).
We got to spend Thanksgiving with Whitney’s family and, before we knew it, our three months had come to an end. As legally I was only able to stay in the USA for 90 days, we had a tearful goodbye as Whitney had decided to spend longer with her family and friends, before returning to the UK in time for Christmas together.
The reality: It’s actually VERY difficult to be on permanent holiday while working. Part of our job is to capture our travel activities, what the hotels we’re staying in are like and the local restaurants. We greatly enjoyed this but quickly found ourselves drowning in content with not enough hours in the day, when the beach or poolside cocktails are calling your name, or you’re exhausted from travelling all day and posting a million Instagram stories.
However, I can honestly speak for us both and say that we love what we do. We greatly regretted packing so many clothes and shoes, but it’s difficult to pack for two women for three months when you’re going to be in the heat followed by autumn in the South (plus a wedding)! You also soon start carrying around a suitcase full of clothes in desperate need of washing, so we ended up getting excited when finding launderette.
Being able to spend quality time in the places you’re visiting (and still wanting to spend longer) is a gift that you never get if you’re trying to cram it all into a two-week holiday. We both learnt that we prefer to stay in hotels with people around us, rather than in the desert alone in Joshua Tree Park.
We grew as a couple and cherished everyday that we got to spend together, seeing new sights and experiencing new adventures, creating ever-lasting memories. We never felt home-sick, as home was wherever we were together.
Do we regret quitting our jobs and taking the plunge? No. In fact, we’re looking ahead to 2018 as a year of further travels and more memories to create. At the end of the day, life is what you make it and ours are for living.