20 things to do in Southport, UK

20 things to do in Southport, UK | PACK THE SUITCASES

After a gorgeous autumnal day out there, I decided to write up some of the best things to do in Southport. I grew up in a village near to Southport, so I spent a lot of time there when I was younger and used to know it really well. But since I moved away over 10 years ago, SO much has changed. I’ve only ever been back on flying visits rather than for a full day out (usually just drunken evenings to be honest). So returning for a day in Southport this autumn was like visiting an entirely new town for me.

If you don’t know it, Southport (or ‘Sowie’ as locals used to call it – possibly still do) is a seaside town in the North West. It was a popular Victorian holiday destination and like most coastal towns, has had its fair share of shops closing down and an air of faded grandeur. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to return, sober and in the cold light of day, to find it’s actually a really nice day out now. Southport even has pockets of real brilliance in the form of art, craft beer and food.

Anyway, onto 20 things to do in Southport – in no particular order…

Continue Reading

The Isle of Man by public transport: a 3-day itinerary

The Isle of Man by public transport: a 3-day itinerary | PACK THE SUITCASES

It’s surprisingly easy to do the Isle of Man by public transport – much easier than other weekend getaway destinations like the Lake District. As an added bonus, the Isle of Man’s public transport isn’t just boring buses. Oh no. You’ve got horse trams, the electric railway and the steam train – so the transport is as much a part of the experience as the places you’re using it to get to.

I thought I’d share my 3-day itinerary for doing the Isle of Man by public transport, which I made for a long weekend this summer (using only one day of annual leave because of desperate times).

Get the kettle on – wait no, get a G&T because you’re not driving – and read on…

Continue Reading

What to pack for an autumn city break

What to pack for an autumn city break | PACK THE SUITCASES

Here’s a few tips for what to pack for an autumn city break… Or I suppose ‘fall’ city break for the 28% of my audience who Google Analytics tells me are based in the US. Hello over there. I find autumn the easiest season to pack for because it’s when my own style is in season: black tights, ankle boots, trench coats, jumpers, dresses with sleeves… and pure joy. I am in my ELEMENT. But it still requires a good bit of planning when autumn clothing weighs a lot more than summer and airlines somehow expect you to deal with that within 20kg so it’s not like you can just throw everything you own in and hope for the best…

Like I’ve said in my other seasonal packing guides, if this helps even one other woman staring at her ‘floordrobe’ and wanting to burn it all the night before going away, I’ll feel I’ve done some kind of heroic good deed.

Anyway, settle down with a cuppa (or should I say, a pumpkin spice latte) because here are my autumnal packing tips…

Continue Reading

The Northern Blog Awards 2018: an update and a thank you

This year has been a momentous one for this travel blog. Pack The Suitcases has gone from getting a couple of hundred views per month to up to 25,000. What used to be the occasional ‘like’ on its Facebook page has now escalated to emails and messages flooding in every week from people all over the world asking me things like ‘Where can I find soy milk in Madeira?’ (I have no idea mate). And most exciting of all, I was shortlisted for a travel blogging award in the Northern Blog Awards.

I thought I’d better update you on it because I haven’t mentioned it on here since. So here is said update…

Continue Reading

20 things to do in Brașov, Romania: a city of cobblestones and colour

Things to do in Brasov, Romania | PACK THE SUITCASES

Here’s 20 things to do in Brașov, Romania – a list I’ve put together after enjoying two days there in summer. Brașov (pronounced Bra-shov) is incredibly pretty, with lots of photogenic pastel-coloured cobbled streets and a busy square where you can sit and people-watch against the impressive backdrop of mountains. It’s absolutely full of history (and of course the whole Dracula tale), and something that really struck me was the huge German influence from when it was a Saxon city. The buildings look really German and it’s very popular with German tourists (we even found a bar serving Munich’s Augustiner beer!) but it also has a very unique feel to it that is absolutely Romanian.

Like Bucharest, Brașov was very affordable for us Western European tourists. However, in contrast to Bucharest, it was very clean and well maintained, with neat and tidy parks and freshly painted shops. The café culture is equally thriving, but the bar culture possibly even more so. It may look like a sleepy little medieval city on the surface but it really comes alive at night. Some of the main streets become one long terrace full of both locals and tourists sampling the local alcoholic beverages.

Anyway, here’s what I enjoyed seeing, doing and of course eating in Brașov…

Continue Reading

3 days in Bucharest, Romania: things to do, see and eat

3 days in Bucharest, Romania: things to do | PACK THE SUITCASES

We spent 3 days in Bucharest while visiting Romania and this was my itinerary, covering all the eating, sight-seeing and things to do in Bucharest that I particularly enjoyed. I’d never been to Romania before but I’d read that a lot of people seem to just use Bucharest as somewhere to fly into and immediately leave to head for the countryside. But I found that it’s very much a city worth spending a few days in in its own right, which is what we did before going to Brasov.

Often heralded as ‘the new Berlin’, Bucharest full of gritty architecture, surprising green spaces, and hip places to eat and drink. It has a real ‘alternative’ vibe to it. Like most of Eastern Europe, it’s very affordable for British/Western European tourists, which is always a big draw: we had three-course meals for <£20. Not going to lie, it's also pretty grubby and the train stations especially are dilapidated AF. But if you look past that, it has grand Parisian-style architecture lining wide boulevards, a thriving café culture, and a fascinating, unique history. I should also point out that our 3 days there were intensely hot. It was August and temperatures ranged from 33 to 38 degrees Celsius. I cease being able to function as a human at about 30, so that's why we both look on the shiny side in all our Romania photos. So here's how we spent 3 days in Bucharest, Romania...

Continue Reading