Written by: Sheida

All photos are taken and owned by Andrea Hansen[/caption]In the second and final part of our USA Roadtrip Guide, we're visiting Elvis' hometown, the White Sands and celebrating Halloween in New Orleans. Make sure to read the first part of the guide here if you haven't already!

Monument Valley

Nights stayed: 1
Where we stayed:
Teardrop Arch Bed and Breakfast (87$/night)
What to do:October 21 – From Grand Canyon our road trip continued to the red-sand desert in Monument Valley! (National park in Arizona)
Driving time: 3,5 h.
Roadtrip 101: Keep in mind that the roads may have fees, so always have coins and bills ready. And make sure to enter the correct city in the GPS, there are many cities that have the same name!

Santa Fe

Nights stayed: 1
Where we stayed:
Guadalupe Inn (approx. 280$ for 2 nights)
What to do:
October 22 – Drive early from Monument Valley to Santa Fe.
Driving time: About 6 h, our longest drive so far! We stayed the night at Guadalupe Inn, a super cozy inn with a "bohemian mountain hut feel".
The Shed in Santa Fe is the perfect spot for a cooling beer & lemonade-break.

October 23 – Next stop is the White Sands National Monument! They collect an entrance fee, but it's not expensive.We stayed at a cheap motel nearby called Super 8 Alamogordo for approx 70$/night.Driving time: 4 h.
October 24 – Off to Dallas!Driving time: 9,5-10 h, but we didn't want to drive that far so we did a stopover at a motel in Abilene before continuing.


Nights stayed: 1
Where we stayed: At a friend's house!
What to do:

October 25 – After a good night's sleep we were ready to explore Dallas! Visit Elm Street where President Kennedy was assassinated, eat delicious shrimps with BBQ-marinade at The Shell Shack and splurge on a fancy dinner at fusion restaurant Abacus. The lobster shooters are an excellent choice for appetizer!


Nights stayed: 2
Where we stayed:
Airbnb-loft in downtown Memphis! Price: 159$/2 nights.
Driving time: Approximately 6.5-7 h from Dallas.
What to do:October 26 – We had booked 2 nights at a private room through Airbnb. The owner knew a cheap garage nearby for 6$/night where we parked our car.
Memphis was amazing – partly because of this amazing downtown loft rented through Airbnb!

October 27 – Spend the whole day out & about in Memphis. Our recommended spots to visit is Elvis Presley's home Graceland, room 306 at the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King got shot, and the famous Sun Studio.
... and when the clock strikes lunch, try Gus Fried Chicken for super tasty fried chicken and a genuine Southern vibe. A good place for breakfast is Cafe Keough.
The tour at Graceland was the best tourist attraction of the trip according to both Andrea and her boyfriend. You will see Elvis in a whole new light, Andrea says. When the tour finishes by his grave, you are more than ready to shed a tear.


Nights stayed: 2
Where we stayed:
Airbnb in East Nashville (79$/night)
What to do:

October 28 – On to the country mecca Nashville! We lived in East Nashville, a young and hip area with a lot of restaurants, bars and vintage boutiques.Driving time: About 3.5-4 h.
October 29 – Spend the day sightseeing in Nashville! Eat breakfast at Sky Blue Cafe, visit Honky Tonk Highway, Country Music Hall of Fame and stop by Bluebird Cafe or The Listening Room Cafe for writer's night.

New Orleans

Nights stayed: 4
Where we stayed:
Airbnb close to the Garden District (74$).
What to do:

October 30 - Have an early start and continue to (our favorite city) New Orleans!Driving time: About 7,5-8,5 hours.
October 31 – HALLOWEEN! Spend the day strolling around in the city and enjoy the festive vibe – visit Bourbon street in the evening (for party), but don't live close to it because it's a loud and noisy area. Also, make sure to visit Lafayette Cemetery.
Café Du Monde, the city's most famous coffee shop, serves the popular and delicious pastry Beignets – a deep-fried dough with hoards of icing sugar on, much like a doughnut.

November 1
– Visit the beautiful old houses in the Garden District, check out the French Quarters and go on a plantation tour (Oak Alley is a beautiful old mansion, open 9-17, costs 22$ per person).
November 2 & 3 – Sightseeing in New Orleans. Spend a full day at the World War II Museum, and dine at Peche – they serve great food, perfect for sharing various small dishes!

Breaux Bridge

Nights stayed: 2
Where we stayed:
1 night at Maison Madeleine B&B and 1 night at the hotel Maison des Amis.
What to do:

November 4 – Next up is the tiny city Breaux Bridge, "the crawfish capital of the world". We stayed here for 2 nights, but in hindsight 1 night would've been enough.Driving time: around 2.5 h.
November 5 – Go on a swamp tour! Eat a Southern breakfast at the Café Des Amis and experience the delightful vibe with live music and locals dancing in the early morning (!) hours (only on Saturdays, entrance is 5$).
The best "homemade" breakfast of the trip was served at Maison Madeleine B&B and consisted of fluffy pain perdu's with icing sugar and fresh berries, bacon, orange juice and fresh coffee.
And the best burger was to be found at Angelle's Old Fashion Hamburgers which Andrea warmly recommends.


Nights stayed: 1
Where we stayed:
At a friend's house!
What to do:

November 6 – The final stop is Houston! We stayed at a friend's house outside the city and spent the evening chilling & eating dinner before packing up for our trip to South America.Driving time: Approximately 3.5-4 hours.
November 7 – Pack, leave the car at 07.00 am at George Bush Airport, Houston and fly off to Cancun!But that's a whole other story and another guide...

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Get to know the sisters behind We are Nodes
Part 1: The big sister

Name: Yasmin Tilles
29 ("The big sister")
City: Stockholm, Sweden
Occupation: Working as PR and Marketing Manager at IT security-startup Detectify
Passions: Entrepreneurship and building businesses, digital marketing, travelling (obviously), planning (I’m a project manager-freak who plans my whole existence in various to do-lists), and drinking coffee on my balcony.

Your Best Trip?

There are SO many unforgettable trips to choose between, but here’s two trips that has left a big impression on me:

1) A work trip I made to San Francisco and New York in 2013 while I was working at IDG Sweden and Webbdagarna. I joined the IDG US event team in San Francisco for the annual Macworld/iWorld conference, a huge event targeting Apple users and partners, for a week of intensive and fun work. Later, I took the plane over to NY where I stayed with my friend Bess (who I became friends with when we both were studying Spanish in Madrid), and enjoyed another week of meetings, events and sightseeing in the city. I remember walking around downtown, jumping between inspiring meetings with NY- based startups like Holstee and other prominent web experts, looking up at the skyscrapers and feeling so alive and filled with energy.

With IDG:s awesome and legendary founder Patrick McGovern at the Macworld Conference 
Jumping between meetings in NY 
Love New York!
I was mainly working with the Speaker Lounge at MacWorld. And yes, Ashton Kutcher was one of the speakers (since he played Steve Jobs in the movie about the Apple founder), but I didn't run into him on site. 

2) Not a trip, but more a travel experience that’s very special to me is when Sheida and I moved to Barcelona in 2008, 10 years ago! Not only was it our first abroad experience together, but my GAWD how much we experienced during those months in Barcelona. We rented two rooms in an apartment close to Sagrada Familia, worked together, spent a lot of time partying, getting to know people, going on excursions (our local flatmate was always surprised by the places we explored when we were off work). Barcelona will always be special to me, especially since both me and Sheida grew up a lot during our time there.

A very old photo of Sheida and I from Barcelona, it seems we liked to match outfits back then... 

Haha love this image of my room in Barcelona that I found when writing on this blog post. The funny thing is that Sheida slept in my bed the first night, since we hadn't really decided if we trusted our flatmate yet (he turned out to be a great guy). 

Favorite travel memory?

Spending a night in the jungle in Costa Rica in 2015. Long story short; We arrived to the wrong hotel in the middle of the night and  in the middle of the jungle, but somehow we managed to convince the hotel owners to let us sleep in their open air show room. Definitely one of my travel highlights!

When my friend Linnéa and I visited Pointe des Almadies, the most western point of Africa, during our volunteer trip in Dakar, Senegal. Pointe des Almadies was the perfect way to escape the crazy and loud citylife in Dakar, and the place made us come back twice for its quiet surroundings and fresh oysters.
We visited Pointe des Almadies during a volunteer trip we did to an orphanage in Senegal.

Sheida and I have spent many months in Cannes, but one thing we never get tired of is the magical sunrises over there. I love the memories of those nights when we had a blast at the club, and then walked home while talking about the evening as the sun went up.

What’s the best and worst part about traveling with you sister?

Worst part is that we push each other’s buttons and therefore argue a lot (fortunately for us, we make up as quickly). Best part is that we are a great travel team. We enjoy spending vacations in the same way. We value the small things in life and easily fall into simple travel habits when we are away.  For example, one of our favorite parts of staying in Paris for one summer, was the very simple breakfast-picnics we had in the next door park every morning. We have so many unforgettable memories together. Travelling is truly what has made us so close.

Your best travel hacks?

  1. Do some good research, skip the regular Trip Advisor-tips and search for “city + blog” (not biased here at all hehe) for some travel blogger input, and don’t forget Instagram as a great source for travel inspiration!
  2. If possible, stay in cities for a longer period. The difference staying 4 weeks in a city instead of one is HUGE. That's how you really get to know locals and the city, and have enough time to create your own habits. A less touristy experience of a city. If you don't have so many vacation days, try asking your manager if you can work remotely. I'm a true supporter of the work and travel-concept!
  3. If you're staying in a city for a longer period and need to find somewhere to stay; try searching for apartment in less known, preferably local, sites and forums (i.e. not Airbnb). That way you could find flats/rooms for better prices. For instance, when Sheida and I were looking for a flat in Cannes to rent for two months, we used AngloInfo France (the Riviera forum). The result: We found this amazing flat with two rooms and its own patio, in the middle of Cannes, for a very good price! We kept going back to this apartment year after year!
Cannes 2012: We did our life admin, side projects and travel research in the patio...
...and drank a lot of coffee and hanged out with the cat.
Photo from our first day in Cannes that summer, the international advertising festival Cannes Lions was in town and tech giants hosted parties and mingles throughout the city.

Your favorite weekend destination?

Barcelona, New York and my latest favorite Lisbon.
Photo from a previous work trip to New York, this is me and my former colleague John with the inventor of World Wide Web, Sir Tim Bernes-Lee at the Webby Awards Afterparty. 


Photos from my weekend trip to Lisbon last year.

Your favorite party destination?

Cannes for sure (read our Cannes guide here). And we're not the only ones to like the city during summer...
Bob Sinclair spinning records at Gotha Club, Cannes
With DJ Nervo
Paris Hilton had some good Cannes-vibes at Le Palais
Avicii made the roof lift at Baoli Beach
Beach parties with friends (this pic is from St Tropez though, read more here)

Have you ever visited a city that didn’t live up to your expectations?

Paris is a very nice city that I really have tried to fall in love with, but it just doesn’t work. Sheida and I rented a studio in Le Marais for one summer, and I have been there several times for weekends and work trips, but Paris and I just don’t click. There plenty of fun and wonderful things to do, but it's just not my city of choice.

It’s not you, Paris, it’s me… Or is it?


What are your travel plans for 2017?

So far, I’ve been in Gdansk,  Riga and Helsinki. Rest of the year will be spent with an epic road trip to Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Slovenia this summer. A traditional visit to Finland to visit relatives, and hopefully both Athens and Italy. If possible, I’d love to squeeze in Tel Aviv, it seems like cool city!
Photos from our spa trip to Riga in February 2017

That's all for now, follow me (Yasmin) on Twitter/Instagram @yasmintilles to keep up with my latest updates!

Next up, we will get to know Lil' sis a little better. Stay tuned!



Written by: Sheida

All photos are taken and owned by Andrea Hansen.

After four months of travelling in the States and South America, I finally got to sit down with one of my best friends, Andrea, to hear all about her dream vacation. When she showed me her very detailed road trip guide, I was amazed by how good it was – so I decided to share it on the blog so that more road trip enthusiasts can take part of it. You can basically just copy it and you'll have your dream holiday planned in a heartbeat!Read The Ultimate Road Trip Guide to USA: Part 2

The route:

San Fransisco - Napa Valley - Yosemite National Park - Big Sur - Los Angeles - Las Vegas/Grand Canyon - Monument Valley - Santa Fe - Dallas - Memphis - Nashville - New Orleans - Breaux Bridge - Houston.
Days: 34
Budget: 4980$ (excluding flights) = 110$/day for car, gas, food, housing and tourist attractions.
Rental Car: 1770$, from Hertz (+ GPS from TomTom, 100$ - bring or buy one to take with you, to avoid paying extra for a rental car with a navigation system!)Click here to jump right over to Part 2 of our USA Roadtrip guide.

San Fransisco

Nights stayed: 2
Where we stayed:
Airbnb outside the city centre.
What to do:

October 4 – Landed mid day in San Francisco. We stayed at an Airbnb outside the city centre since it's very expensive to live central.
October 5 – Go sightseeing in San Fran (visit Alcatraz, Fishermans Wharf and of course the Golden Gate bridge.)
The Alcatraz prison tour won't leave you disappointed and is recommended to book well in advance! The price is 66$ including a ferry ticket.

October 6 – Take the whole day to explore the city. Make sure to stop by at Leo's Oyster Bar or Hoy Island Oyster Co for lunch if you are into shellfish and oysters. Oysters are very popular in San Fransisco (and price worthy)!
October 7 – Pick up the rental car early in the morning (at 6-7 a.m) and continue to Napa Valley for lunch and wine tasting. Driving time: approximately 1.5 hours.

Napa Valley

Nights stayed: 1
Where we stayed:
Wine Valley Lodge, about 2,2 km from the wine train. Price: 100$/night.
What to do:

October 7 – Park the car at the hotel and walk to the train station for check in at 09.45 a.m. The Wine Train leaves at 10.15. Don't forget to bring your ticket and proof of registration!
Andrea choose the 'Quatro Wino package' which costs 143$ and included 4 stops to 4 vineyards + 4 meals on the train. The excursion was well worth the price!

October 8 – Wake up early, put on a good playlist and head on to Yosemite National Park.Driving time: 4 hours depending on the traffic.

Yosemite National Park

Nights stayed: 2
Where we stayed:
Mariposa Inn (330$/2 nights including a light breakfast)
What to do:
October 9 – Spend the whole day out in the wild in Yosemite (visit Glacier Point, Tunnel view and wander among the big Sequoia trees). Driving time from the hotel to the Arch Rock Entrance took 1 hour.
Yosemite Tips:
  • The best time to visit Yosemite is during spring, otherwise waterfalls and lakes might have dried out!
  • All national parks in the United States are charging an entrance fee, Yosemite cost 30$ per vehicle.
  • If you want to drive with your own car, it's best to go before 10 a.m. Parking lots in the park can get full quickly, at least at the lookout points.
  • It's possible to stay at a hotel in the middle of the park if you can afford it!

Big Sur

Nights stayed: 1
Where we stayed:
Days Inn Motel in Monterey
What to do:
October 10 – Next stop is Monterey.
Driving time: approximately 3,5 h. We stayed at Days Inn Motel in Monterey and drove to the villages Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pacific Grove during the afternoon. Park the car in Carmel-by-the-Sea and take a walk along the coast to Pacific Grove.
An accommodation that looked nice in Big Sur that Jonas Cramby (famous Swedish food writer & chronicler) recommends is Detjen's Big Sur Inn. (Not the one in the picture)

October 11 – Drive further along Big Sur to Santa Barbara (driving time: approx 4 hours), and take breaks along the road for the beautiful view (don't miss McWay Falls!). We stayed the night at a motel in Santa Barbara.

The stunning McWay Falls! 

Los Angeles

Nights stayed: 6
Where we stayed: Air BnB in Venice, 663$ for 6 nights.
What to do: October 12 – From Santa Barbara, continue to Los Angeles.
Driving time: 2 h along highway 101.
The world's best ice-cream according to Andrea can be found at Salt & Straw at Abbot Kinney! Their vanilla ice-cream with caramel, brownie-fudge and sea salt is AMAZING!

October 13
– Chill time in Venice. (Look at the canals, the beach in Santa Monica – and why not go watch an NHL game?)
October 14 – Magic Mountain! (Buy tickets online 6 days in advance to get a big discount!). If you are not a roller-coaster enthusiast, you could visit Universal Studios instead.
October 15 & 17– Sightseeing-days (Hollywood-sign, Griffith Observatory, Beverly Hills, Walk of fame, the LACMA lamps etc.)

October 16 – Melrose/Fairfax Flea Market in the morning (open only on Sundays!) + take a look at the vintage boutiques in the area.
Restaurant tips: Abbot Kinney in Venice (also known as "the coolest block in America", has a lot of good & hip restaurants such as Gjelina!). A good breakfast-spot is Blue Jam Cafe at Melrose Ave and Malibu Farm in Malibu for fresh salads.

Las Vegas

Nights stayed: 2
Driving time: 4-5 h drive from LA.
Where we stayed:
Hotel Flamingo, with central location right on the Las Vegas Strip.
What to do:
October 18 -What don't you do in Vegas?
Driving time LA-Las Vegas:
approximately 4-5 h.
October 19 – Tourist day in Las Vegas (start off with a long hotel breakfast, try your luck at a casino, chill at a hotel pool, maybe go watch a show)

Grand Canyon

Nights stayed: 1
Where we stayed:
Red Feather Lodge.
What to do:
October 20 – Have an early start from Vegas on to Grand Canyon!
Driving time: approx 4,5-5 h to Yavapai Point or Mather Point.
Read the second part of the USA Roadtrip guide here /Sheida