Adventures Of Coco Our Social Cabana: Aaron & Jen’s ‘Northland’ Roadie with Coco
22 May 2013 11:03 a.m.
Meet Aaron & Jen (pictured left) who took Coco, our Social Cabana away for a free adventure in New Zealand. Sure sounds like they had an amazing time. You can check out more photos from their adventures on our facebook page. Jealous? Then apply to take Coco away on an adventure yourself. She is FREE! Check out www.jucy4free.co.nz to apply! Love Lucy xx
Day one: Memory Lane
Today was the beginning of our trip with Coco. Being Hamiltonions we needed to get to Auckland before the Jucy office closed at five. And being from Hamilton we underestimated just how horrible Auckland traffic really is at five and at the beginning of a long weekend… After free flowing traffic for 99% of our trip we ground to a halt and crawled our way into central Auckland, making it to Coco with 14 minutes to spare.
Before we knew it the friendly Jucy staff had us all set up with Coco and we were on our way! Or not… Auckland had trapped us again and we began our crawl out of Auckland heading north. Destination?… Unknown!
Easter was upon us and we didn’t want to be lost and hungry on Good Friday, so all we knew is that we needed to stop, get food and stock up on Easter Eggs. We made out way of Auckland to see a big bright yellow Pak n Save to our left. We entered and braved more Aucklanders (who seemed to think shops closed for one day meant the end of the world and therefore they must buy entire store)!
While we were in the neighbourhood we did a quick drive across the motorway to Forrest Hill – Jen’s old stomping ground. We passed her old guide hall, house, vet and were heading towards play centre when we passed the water tower, also known as the ‘skating concrete’ back in the 90’s. Once we got up there it seemed like a perfect spot for dinner. We enjoyed our first night cooking in the back of Coco and enjoyed our meal with a stunning view overlooking Auckland city.
Following dinner we headed north to Jen’s Aunty Julie at Snells Beach. We found a nice spot on the driveway showed off Coco’s awesome features and had a cuppa and a catch up. Then it was time for our first sleep in Coco.
Park in Aunty’s driveway: $0 per night.
Ambience: 10/10 – nothing beats hospitality of family
Shower: Good pressure and free!
Day two: Roads and Beaches
After an amazing sleep in a Coco – we awoke and realised it was already 9am, we slide opened our door to the sound of bacon sizzling – it was the ultimate cue to get up! We enjoyed an amazing breakfast of bacon, eggs and croissants overlooking Snells Beach with Aunty Julie, uncle Richard and cousin Brad. This was only our second meal on our journey – but yet again it was accompanied with an amazing view. We packed up Coco, said our goodbyes and set off on our way. Once again we hadn’t planned where we were going other than north. Being Good Friday we had limited options on places which would be open but that was no barrier! After a Facebook suggestion by a friend we headed towards Tutukaka – we stopped at several beaches along the way, grabbed a nice Mocha at a caravan in Mangawhai Heads, went for a few walks on the amazing white beaches and checked out the Whangarei Falls.
Using Jucy’s hamap (Jucy.Rankers.co.nz) we pinpointed Whananaki as our destination for the night. Our first pick was the DOC campground (cold showers but only $6 bucks each), pulled up outside to a ‘fully booked’ roadside side. Our second option was the local campground (Whananaki North Holiday Park) – which had all the facilities and a HOT shower. We pulled in, paid our fee, set up Coco, cooked a meal in the back and had a glass of wine to cheers a great day two.
1x Camp Site at Whananaki North Holiday Park: $30 for two per night.
Ambience: 7/10 – Lots of people but all friendly!
Shower: Kiwi as, clean and 50 cents for 6 minutes!
Day three: To the Capital
This morning we awoke, had a quick breakfast and set off on the road again. This time we knew where we were heading to – Paihia! Heading back down towards SH1 we needed to take a slight detour via Hikurangi, to visit the old pub Jennifer’s grandparents were supposed use to run “back in the day”. Finding it proved easy as the town wasn’t much bigger than the main road. The pub itself was closed and looking for new owners, we might have hung around a little longer to explore except the local police car had a beaten up man in the back and Aaron was scared – we were back on the road.
After hearing about the famous Friedensreich Hundertwasser toilets we thought we better stop in Kawakawa and check them out. As we drove into the town we saw a sign “watch out for trains next 1km.”
“What a silly thing to say, how could you need to look out for trains for 1km?!” Aaron exclaimed and we had a laugh. Until we drove around the corner that is, and a train was very casually driving down the centre of the main road… Turns out you do need to look out for trains in Kawakawa.
The toilets themselves were pretty impressive. The mosaics and bottles created a unique environment and it was nice to have a clean public toilet for once. We also checked out living space and wandered around the mosaics made of mirrors, tiles and pictures. Lucy enjoyed the town where she actually appeared tall! We continued north to Paihia, what a beautiful place! We found a little “campervan only” camping ground set amongst olive trees and set up Coco. Next door was an adventure park/playground thing so we decided to give it ago. Turns out we’re more vertically challenged than we realised, combine that with a lack of balance and upper body strength and you find adult sized adventure playgrounds aren’t that much fun. Time to move on.
Following the beach we made our way over to the main township, hopped aboard a ferry and set sail for Russell. Twenty minutes later we arrived in New Zealand’s original capital. We enjoyed a beverage in our oldest pub, a walk along the waterfront and watching a local skipper bring in a 132kg Marlin.
Back in Paihia we followed a toilet sign to no toilet (… Grr…) then headed out to ‘treat’ ourselves to a Thai dinner and give Coco a break from her cooking duties. We should have let Coco cook… Her gas cooked hotdogs and steak would have topped the Thai at Paihia any day! However, a visit to Countdown on the walk home to treat ourselves to ice cream topped off an excellent day.
1x Campervan Park @ Olive Grove Campervan Park, Paihia: $30 for two per night.
Ambience: 9/10 – Nice, Quiet, Great setting among the olives!
Shower: Spacious, modern and clean – but most expensive at $2.00 for 4 minutes!
Day Four: To the Top!
We aimed to be out of the Olive Groves by 9am as today was going to be a big day – but we got a little carried away with another cooked breaky and hot drinks out the back of Coco. Once on the road we still managed to get to the Waitangi before all the tourists. We enjoyed exploring the historical grounds of Waitangi. For New Zealanders – this is where it all began…
After learning more about the Treaty history, we jumped in Coco, cranked up some roadtrip music and set off on the two and a half hour hike to the very tip of New Zealand. It was like a massive convoy of tourist – all in campervans, rental vans or 4×4’s loaded with supplies. We passed a few of Coco’s siblings – giving the big Jucy wave to the other vans!
Once we got to the very top – we parked up on the side of the road, cooked us some lunch and sat back over looking the impressive Tasman sea. It was then the hike down the big concrete path to the iconic lighthouse and AA sign. We took some token tourist photos – climbed back up the hill – and set adventure for the next thrill seeking activity – SAND DUNEING!
We carted Jen’s childhood ‘boogie boards’ all the way from Hamilton especially for this activity – it turns out there are only certain boards you could use when sand duning, sadly Jen’s barely moved us anywhere in the sand! So we caved and hired a board from the friendly board hire truck – this definitely got us moving down the giant sand dunes. Once we got our confidence up trialling ‘the babies’ we set charge for the ‘big dunes’. We stood at the bottom, looked up, it looked easy, it was only when we saw tourists fly down the hill smashing themselves up we realised that this sport was really dangerous!
Aaron being the ‘big thrill seeker’ – sent Jen up first. Jen realised how steep these dunes actually were and got half way up and rode down.Next up was Aaron… he set climb (Honestly, it was like Everest!), he got a third of the way up.. and was stuck up there for about 30 minutes. He failed to get the confidence to ride so slide his way back down his path on his bum! Tail between his legs!
Covered in sand, and feeling defeated, we did one last slide down the baby dunes and got Coco on her way! We thought we would aim to get Coco as far down the island we could before joining the end of the long weekend traffic jams – so the rule was just drive until we were sick of driving.
We saw signs for Mangonui – and we had heard reviews about the world famous ‘Fish and Chip’ shop so thought this could be a nice place to stop. We stopped at the very obvious shop over the water, the shop was packed (which was a good sign!). We grabbed a feed of fresh kai moana, and sat in the back of Coco overlooking the lovely Mangonui harbour. People weren’t wrong about them being great fish and chips!
Some locals in the fish and chip line suggested the Hihi Beach Holiday Park as a place to park up for the night – this was as far as we would go after the kms we had done today. We pulled up, found a park and headed down the beach for a nice walk down the bay watching a beautiful sunset. It was definitely a good recommendation.
Hihi Beach Holiday Park: $40 for 2x for one night.
Ambience: 8/10 – Bit dated, but lovely spot – wicked sunsets!
Showers: Again dated – but nice and hot – best bit – FREE!
Day Five: Reality. Home time.
We made the most of the free showers – and had another shower before hitting the road. It was the day we thought we were going to get stuck in queues with everyone heading back home, however we were pretty fortunate – the traffic was flowing and people were courteousWe stopped at New Zealand’s oldest stone building in Kerikeri for a quick coffee and muffin overlooking the Kerikeri river, couple of photos and a sneaky look through the Kiwiana giftshop. Back on the road, we headed back down thru Kawakawa but sadly no trains to both of ours disappointment. After checking Jen’s phone – she reread the text Jen’s mum had sent about checking out her family’s pub while we were up North. Jen asked “What was the name of the scary town we went to for the pub?”, haunted by the last visit Aaron replied “Hikurangi!”…. Well it turns out we went to the wrong town! Fortunately Google maps showed us the correct town (beginning with H and ending with I) was on SH1 on the way home.
We arrive in the correct town – Hukarenui – to find only a pub and a museum – it was a lot nicer this town than the last. However the pub was shut so we took a look around the grounds and took some photos to say we had been then continued on the way.Just out of Whangarei we saw a sign with free coffee. Being coffee addicts we pulled in and saw State Insurance along with ACC had put on a roadside driver ‘refresh’ stop. We grabbed a nice complimentary coffee, sausage off the barbie and a bottle of water – which definitely kept us going on our journey home.
Traffic came to a stand still in Wellsford just out of Auckland – but got flowing again once we got thru the village, it was smooth sailings back to the Jucy Auckland City Depot in time for our 4 o’clock drop off. We were greeted by two big friendly smiles by the lovely Jucy staff who quizzed us on Coco’s adventure.
We had an amazing long Easter weekend in Coco. We conquered quite a few kilometers. Saw a good chunk of Northland. And we have definitely been converted on the way to travel, maybe in Europe we will do some ‘gla-camping’ but when we are back home in NZ after our OE we will be keen to take one of Coco’s cousins for another journey some where in New Zealand experience more of what Jucy & NZ has to offer.
Thanks Jucy and your amazing team for allowing us use of Coco!
Aaron and Jen
A guide to camping in the USA
15 May 2013 01:15 p.m.
Wake up, open the door and step outside. The grass is green, air is clear and in front of you the most spectacular sight a person can see in the morning. The sun rising over the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. After a night of sleeping in peace, there’s nothing to do today but go exploring.
Camping in the USA is a beautiful thing, but can be somewhat hard to get used to.
While inevitably it’s a very easy lifestyle to get into, those first few moments on your camping adventure can be daunting. Things like finding the right spot, getting the best deal and remembering essential items are important and often lost on new campers. This tip-filled guide will prepare your first camping trip, which by the end of you’ll probably be swearing off all planted possessions in exchange for a life on the road.
It really does exist. For starters, camping deep in the forest or wilderness is free mainly because no one is going to enforce payment, but you need to deal with getting to a spot remote enough for this to happen. Further, once out in the wild, you are completely on your own, so make sure you are fully equipped and educated in survival.
If you’re not interested in going the Bear Grylls route, there’s always Wal-Mart. The super store allows RVs to park up over night for no cost at all. Don’t expect camp facilities like showers and electricity, but at least civilization and maybe even toilets and internet are close by.
FreeCampsites.net has a more detailed listing of free camping spots around the country.
Only spend when you have to
On top of free camping being available in the USA, so is extremely affordable camping. Think $10 a night. The only problem is that the lower campsites go in price, the less they usually offer. So plan where you stay strategically. The nights when you need a shower or internet, pay a bit more for a campground that has everything you want. The nights you don’t need these things, and you really don’t every night, look for a place that basically only offers a spot to park up and sleep.
Discount camping clubs
Do you have AAA? Passport America? These are common questions when you arrive at a campground. The USA has quite a few campground clubs where you pay a small up-front fee and receive discounts when booking at campgrounds or RV resorts in their network. This is a very good investment for those going on trips two weeks or longer. Stick to the bigger companies as they are going to have the most options and look into the region you are traveling. While one club might dominate the Northeast, another dominates the southwest. Common discount clubs include AAA, Passport America and Good Sam.
Location, location, location
Even in the camping world it matters, though for very different reasons. Since campers or people with RVs have a means of transportation the location of main attractions in the area to where people choose to stay often loses relevance. Instead location becomes about finding the best spot actually on the campground or resort. Make sure your spot is flat, so you’re not sleeping on a slant. Also think about what matters most to you like being close to a toilet, next to something scenic or in a shaded area so you can sleep longer and keep the car cooler if need be.
Some key items to bring along on any camping trip include a lantern or flashlight, knife for cooking, earplugs, antibacterial dry soap, napkins, towels, bedding, sleep pads if you’re pitching a tent, entertainment (books, DVDs, music) and water.
Guidebooks or campground listings also come in handy, especially when you’re not booking or planning ahead. You can purchase these at the book store or find them in various campground offices.
When to stop and reserve a spot
Most campground offices close early. People can still arrive later and pay in the morning, but it can be difficult setting up in the dark, especially in national parks and forest. For this reasons it’s best to arrive before dark at least. Usually offices are open until dusk to help people and even if they’re not at least in the light campers can get their bearings in a new area.
Another thing that must be considered is availability. In the low season, this usually is not a concern. In the high season, it’s most reassuring to book ahead or arrive just after midday to make sure a spot is still available in the campground of your choice. If you’re not too picky about what campground you’re staying at then you will find something inevitably, it just might take a while. If you have a listing of campsites, call ahead and see what they have available for the night on the same day. Reservations can usually be made over the phone.
Parks vs. KOA
Two major options in camping in the USA are national parks or KOA. In general, camping in national parks includes the minimum, partial or full hookup, toilets and usually showers, but not always. The good news is that these sites start at $10-20, which is the lowest rate you will find while camping in the USA. Of course the best part about camping in national parks is the sights and scenery available. KOA camping tends to be more modern, partial and full hookups, new and clean toilet and shower facilities and free wireless internet, but the price of these start at about $40.
There are also a lot of independent campgrounds and RV resorts available in the USA where you can often get the best of both worlds: inexpensive camping with everything you could ask for in a beautiful area. More often than not, independent places are the best bet, though you’ll want to arrive first or check them out online before booking. You can never be sure what to expect of places outside a network.
Chances are you are going to stay at all three of these options on long-term trips!
10 American foods to try when you’re there
08 May 2013 09:28 a.m.
There’s a reason America is the fattest nation in the world. Have you seen the food here?
Not only are restaurants more than generous with food portions, but the actual menu items, well decadent is an understatement. Cakes made out of butter, a 185 lb burger and anything you can imagine fried, layered with bacon or covered in cheese whiz.
Warning: you will most likely gain weight when trying America’s most popular dishes, but trust me, it’ll be worth it. This top ten not only lists the foods that visitors to the USA must try, but also the ideal places to try them.
Obviously, the first thing you must try in the US is a good old burger. You’ll find an array of burgers on most menus throughout the country and several joints are dedicated to the sandwich. Mallies Sports Grill and Bar in Southgate, Michigan sells a 185 lb burger. It costs $400 and requires 24-hours notice to prepare. Bring the whole family for this one.Go for an original beef burger with the works (cheese, mayo, ketchup, mustard, tomato, onion and pickles). Each town and city in the USA has it’s own favorite place to buy burgers and a reason why that one is the best, so I’m just going to mention the biggest.
Mallies Sports Grill and Bar in Southgate, Michigan sells a 185 lb burger. It costs $400 and requires 24-hours notice to prepare. Bring the whole family for this one.Go for an original beef burger with the works (cheese, mayo, ketchup, mustard, tomato, onion and pickles). Each town and city in the USA has it’s own favorite place to buy burgers and a reason why that one is the best, so I’m just going to mention the biggest.
2. Hot dog
This is one of the cheapest must-eats in America. In fact, you can easily purchase a hot dog from street vendors in cities across the nation for less than $3. Whether you’re going for size (footlong) or quality (chilli, cheese dog), this item works in a number or ways.
Like the burger, hot dogs can be found just about everywhere in the USA, but I’m going to make a suggestion. A lot of history and hype surrounds the original Nathan’s Famous on Coney Island, if you’re in New York, it’s worth a visit here.
Now we get to the extreme stuff. This dessert is pretty self-explanatory. BUTTER and CAKE!
It’s one of the sweetest and most addictive foods you’ll ever eat. Start with a fork then spoon up all the gooey goodness as it pours onto your plate. This item made its debut in St. Louis, Missouri around the 1930s. Several bakeries in the city prepare it today, one of the more famous ones is Gooey Louie.
There are a few ways to try this Italian dish in America. Two of the most popular are the Chicago deep dish and the New York slice. Chicago’s version, as it sounds is thick, full of cheese and all the other goodies you’d want loaded on there. The New York slice is somewhat crispy, but still soft, thin layer of sauce and cheese, and a whole lot of grease. In Chicago, try Lous Malnati’s Pizzeria and in New York City, try DiFara Pizza in Brooklyn.
Fresh crabmeat, breaded with spices and deep-fried, served with tartar and/or cocktail sauce, this is a Maryland tradition. The farther you can venture out in the state to find a tiny wooden seafood shack with newspaper table cloths, the better this treat will get. But as far as the Baltimore area goes, head to Pappas Seafood Co. in Parkville.
Start the day off right with fried dough topped with glaze, chocolate and/or jimmies. Doughnuts in the USA went through a resurgence in the early 2000s when places like Voodoo Doughnut started to get creative with the breakfast item, i.e. the bacon maple bar. Visit their store in Portland, Oregon, but be prepared to wait.
7. BBQ Ribs
Barbecue methods in the USA alone deserve a place on this list: slow-cooked, rubs, speciality sauces, the list goes on and on. You can have your ribs in a number of different ways, but the most popular is tender, packed with flavor and covered in sauce. Head down to Texas for this dish. Like with crab cakes, the further you can get off the beaten track and the more secretive the recipe, the better. Sticking to one of the state’s biggest cities and most well-known for BBQ, try Luling City Market in Houston.
8. Philadelphia Cheesesteak
This item gets its city’s name in the title, because no one does cheesesteaks like Philadelphia. Shredded, thinly-sliced beef on a soft bun, covered in cheese whiz with the option of fried onions, this is one of America’s most famous and tastiest sandwiches. The best cheesesteak in Philly changes every year. But one thing always stay the same, the feud between Pat’s and Geno’s steaks, which are located right across from each other in South Philadelphia. Choose your side and never look back.
9. Buffalo Wings
No these are not wings, nor are they made of buffalo meat. The name comes from this menu item’s city of origin, Buffalo, New York. What makes these fried chicken legs and drumsticks so good is the ingredients included in the tabasco-based sauce.
How HOT can you go, Mild, Smoking or Suicide?
Test your tastebuds at the buffalo wing’s place of origin, Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York.
10. Key Lime Pie
Another item solely associated with its city of origin, you may not have heard of this dessert if you’re not from the USA and there is really only one state to try it.A mixture of citrus and sweet in a flan-like texture, prepared in a graham cracker crust, there are plenty of places in Key West and around Florida that serve this dish at its best, one to try is Key Lime-N-More in Key West.
Adventures Of Coco Our Social Cabana: Shere & Paul spend their Honeymoon with Coco
01 May 2013 10:00 a.m.
Meet Shere & Paul (pictured left) who took Coco, our Social Cabana away on a very special time in their lives, their Honeymoon! Sounds like they had an amazing time. You can check out more photos from their adventures on our facebook page. Jealous? Then apply to take Coco away on an adventure yourself. She is FREE! Check out www.jucy4free.co.nz to apply! Love Lucy xx
What would you do as a first thing in New Zealand after a 24 hours flight? Well we went straight to pick up Coco and started our one week adventure! We were really excited about this trip, it was our honeymoon and we started it on Valentines day and what better way than to start it than with Coco? We hit the road and made a provisioning stop at the supermarket to fill Coco with food and drinks, we were amazed by the amount of things you can fit into the fridge!! If you can play Tetris you could even fit more
We ended up in Whangarei, took a walk around the Whangarei falls and then followed the path down to the town. We were so pleased with the weather!! When we left the Netherlands we had 2 degrees and in Whangarei it was 25! We went to sleep quite early, but after all we had been awake for more than one and a half days and that’s why we were so pleased that “converting” Coco into a bed was so easy and really comfortable as well.
On our second day we had a short drive to Paihia, one of the coastal cities from which you can enjoy the Bay of Islands. As soon as you arrive, you realize it’s a place where you could spend days (even weeks) without getting bored: sailing, fishing, surfing, kayaking… We love sailing and therefore we booked a day trip in a catamaran to swim with dolphins for the next day. We knew swimming with dolphins is not always possible, as it depends not only if they are “interested” in you but also if there are babies in the group.
In our case, as soon as we were in the Bay we discovered a group of dolphins that at the beginning were not much interested but after following them, they started entertaining us. At that moment our skyper said “get ready to swim” and we were ready to jump into the water, unfortunately the dolphins decided that we were not that interesting anymore and left…But our patience paid off, we found a couple of dolphins that wanted to swim with us. It was awesome! Swimming with dolphins doesn’t mean that they take you around or that you touch them, swimming with wild dolphins means that you have to swim hard and make noises to attract them to you. They come and check on you, if you swim fast enough they will follow you. I was lucky enough to have one around me for a while, he was looking at me and it’s like he was saying “why are you making stupid sounds?
After the hard work, we set the sails and went to a lonely bay to have a well deserved barbecue We went back to our camping at the Haruru falls and enjoyed dinner with the view of the illuminated falls. So great to have Coco and be able to camp in such a nice places! The next day was a Sunday and that means FARMERS MARKET. I had read about the farmers market in Kerikeri, so we went there for breakfast and bingo!! There was everything you can ask for: pancakes, eggs, bacon, coffee, fresh made orange juice, fruits, etc… We not only filled our stomachs but also Coco with lots of vegetables, free range eggs and fruits.
After that it was time for more fun, we drove to Skydive Zone for a 16.500ft jump. Paul asked me “why the hell would you jump out of perfectly working airplane?” There’re many reasons to not do it, but one to go ahead: adrenaline! Think how fast your heart would beat when you are almost about to jump? Mine was beating at 183!! When I was “pulled” to the door and saw that 16.500 feet f***ing high, I really felt fear!! Other than that time, I had great fun and I enjoyed the 35 minutes flight around Bay of Islands.
I really enjoyed the 70 seconds free fall, but what I liked at most was to be able to control the parachute. Awesome! While I was falling I once asked myself “will the parachute open?” (Who won’t?). Fortunately for me the parachute opened, it couldn’t be other way. In Skydive zone they have two people fully dedicated to fold the canopies. It’s a perfect task sharing: the instructors jump again and again, the packers fold the parachutes and the pilots fly the plane. I have to mention that one of the pilots wanted to attach Lucy to his plane. He saw me taking pictures with her and I guess he liked her
Our next stop was the DOC Tapotupotu Camping Ground near Cape Reinga. It’s such a beautiful place and just 6$! We were swimming and later walked up to the lighthouse. If there is only one thing I can complain about it is the sandflies, I haven’t seen so many in any other place. Regardless, I feel in love with Cape Reinga, it has something magical! In the Maori culture is where the spirits head home. Kupe is the earliest known Voyager from Hawaiki, the original home of the Maori in eastern Pacific. He gave the place the name The Rerenga Wairua. He saw it as the point from which his people would return to their homeland after death. It’s also the meeting point for the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea and a great spot for pictures.
After so much activity, we decided it was time for relaxing, so we stopped at Ngawha Springs, were soaking for a couple of hours. We were also chatting with the locals that were there and at the same time taking very good notes of their recommendations.
Our next sleeping stop was the DOC Tounson Kauri Park campground, where you can take a night walk in the Tounson Kauri Park. It is also a short drive to the Waipoua Forest. We spent the morning walking around Kaori trees and realizing how small we are!! Our next stop was Goat Island, where we enjoyed snorkeling before heading back to Auckland and returning Coco.
We loved driving Coco, it has everything you need, it easy to drive, comfortable to sleep and helps you making friends everywhere you go. Thank you Jucy and Coco for this wonderful week!!
Shere & Paul
10 Free things to do in Las Vegas
23 April 2013 11:38 a.m.
Las Vegas might be one of the hardest cities in the world to stay on a budget. Not only is every sinful activity imaginable possible here, but the world’s best also come here to cook, perform and more. That old saying about the house always coming out on top didn’t come from nowhere.
But the house doesn’t always win, especially is you take advantage of everything it has to offer. While Las Vegas has plenty of things to spend big on, it also has an endless supply of free activities and events. This goes way beyond that old charm about drinks being free to gamblers. Find out how to get into clubs, attend drinking events and see live shows for nothing.
If people plan their Vegas trip strategically, the house will pay for everything without taking a dime.
10. Drink on the house. SpyOnVegas puts on open bars around the city week nights. You have to be really lucky to get an absolutely free boozing event, but regardless it’s a chance to drink affordably with locals.
9. Catch a ride. Most hotels provide free shuttle services to different areas of the city. Before booking a taxi or catching The Deuce Bus, check what your hotel offers.
8. Globe trot. The design of various casinos on the strip is intricate and well-thought out. While some of the scenery is slightly cheesy, these places really attempt to take visitors to a different destination through things like the canals at the Venetian, inspired by Venice, Italy.
7. Visit the Hoover Dam. About a 45-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip, this architectural marvel is easy and free to spot. Visit Hoover Dam Access Road to actually walk or drive on the dam. Walk across the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge for a full view of the dam at a frightening height.
6. See the arts. Las Vegas is home to several art galleries, one interesting one to visit is The Arts Factory in the downtown area. Here you can meet artists, step inside their studios and take part in free events offered throughout the month. Open daily from 9 a.m.-6 p.m., they recommend visiting for “Preview Thursday” or “First Friday”, offered every month.
5. Go back in time. Vegas was not always focused on “the Strip”. In fact, this city’s original casinos are located on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. The open-air mall is pedestrian-friendly and its casino signage will have you thinking back to the days of Frank Sinatra.
4. Watch the Bellagio Fountains. You remember the scene at the end of “Oceans 11″. After a successful heist, the team meets and say their goodbyes as the fountains dance at the Bellagio. This famous water show set to music is featured every half hour or 15-minutes, nightly in front of the the casino.
3. Rock out. Green Valley Ranch on Paseo Verde Parkway has free concerts and events almost every week night. Check their website to see what’s on this month.
2. Watch the Circus Circus. The casino has that name for a reason. Visit Circus Circus at 11 a.m. daily to watch the world’s largest permanent circus perform. Here people can see everything from Flying Angels Trapeze to Circus Clowns.
1. Hit the clubs. Las Vegas is known for its parties, but entrance can be expensive and exclusive. Ask concierge at your hotel for free passes to clubs. They can usually help you out if you’re willing to take what they offer.
Adventures of Rocco our Social Crib: Fabian & Alina’s Aussie Adventure
12 April 2013 11:31 a.m.
Meet Fabian & Alina who are the latestly lucky people to take Rocco away on a free adventure. You can read about their time with Rocco below and check out more photos from their trip here on our facebook page. Jealous? Then apply to take Rocco away on your own adventure for free. Apply at www.jucy4free.com.au I’m waiting for your application! Love, Lucy xx
Fabian and I got so lucky when we read Lucy’s Email that we could take Rocco on a FREE 10-day trip. We arranged our flight to Sydney and left Melbourne without regrets, because we knew that a big adventure was waiting for us.
We were pretty excited when we picked up Rocco – even though we already rented a JUCY Crib before and knew what to expect – Rocco was something special. He has a different look and comes with a camera, tablet & WiFi. What else could anyone ask for? So we got started and moved our heavy backpacks into our new home for the next 10 days, Rocco.
To get out of Sydney was even worse than our lonely planet told us, but after shopping and filling up the fridge we somehow made it up North for a quick break in Terrigal. After a coffee and a little walk on the beach we kept on driving for a few hours with only one more break at Shelly Beach. The weather was nice and sunny that day but it changed when Rocco was on the highway. It started to rain and we decided it would be best to find a campsite as soon as possible. We got lucky in Taree and spend our first night there with Rocco.
After a rainy night the sun was out again and we were ready to move on. After skyping with our families back in Germany and telling them how to find Rocco on the move, we drove to the North Brother Mountain in the Dooragan National Park, where the view was absolutely breath-taking. From there we kept on driving North to Camden Head and it’s Pilot Station Beach where we saw a wild dingo for the first time (okay, we both first thought it was a normal dog). The water was very nice and warm but we didn’t go for a swim as we wanted to drive further up north. Rocco took us to Port Macquarie when heavy rain started again. We found a campsite which had the rudest staff and was by far the untidiest campsite we’ve ever seen, but Rocco was as usual our nice and comfortable home. In the campsite’s kitchen I saw the biggest cockroach ever, so I decided not to leave Rocco anymore.
Day 3 took us to the cutest Koala Hospital we’ve ever been to. It was located near the central of Port Macquarie and we were seriously thinking about kidnapping one of these cute buddies. Our next stop was Crescent Head with its famous Little Nobby’s Junction beach. Unfortunately the weather was getting worse and dark clouds made it windy and rainy. We then decided to take Rocco to the highest waterfall in Australia, the Ellenborough Falls. On the way we nearly ran out of petrol because one of the Tourist Information must have given us an old map, it showed gas stations that did not exist anymore. Anyway, the waterfall was worth it and we found a gas station right on time. Finding a campsite was pretty difficult this time because it was already late, so we asked someone in Wingham and he told us to go to Manning River. We didn’t find a campsite there but hundreds or maybe even thousands of flying foxes in the sky – it was truly unbelievable. We kept on driving and got back to Taree and camped at the campsite where we’ve spend the first night. The weather was getting worse and worse, heavy rain storms made it hard to leave the car.
The next day was sunny again and we made a little plan on where we wanted to go. We decided to move towards the Blue Mountains. We took a much needed short break in Maitland – a little boring town with McDonalds and a bookstore. From there we kept on driving for quite a while, we took Rocco down to Hunter Valley and Putty Road towards Windsor. In Windsor we couldn’t find a campsite so we kept on driving until we found one, which was by far the most expensive one we’ve been to – and it wasn’t even a good one!
From Richmond we took the Bells Line of Road and stopped at Bilpin to have a piece of their famous apple pie. After that we went on to the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden with one of the nicest views from Mt. Tomah. In Blackheath we had an astonishing view from the Anvil Rock and we saw a Wind Eroded Cave. At Perry’s Lookdown we luckily found a free campsite and decided to stay for two nights. It was just us, Rocco & nature (and some other campervans of course). Then the weather started to get bad again.
The next morning we went to a wonderful lookout at Govetts Leap, where we took a walk to the Bridal Veil Falls. We had seen some snakes in the past, so we were walking really carefully when we encountered another one on our way down to the waterfall. Our lonely planet told us to go to the Coachwood Glen Nature Trail, which turned out to be a little hidden treasure. We took a walk through the rainforest and come to find out it was just us, it seemed like no one knew of that beautiful place.
From there we went on to the Leura Cascades which was a nice walk right next to the waterfall when it (of course) started to rain again. Our last stop for that day was the Gordon Falls Lookout and even though the weather was getting worse and the dark clouds were everywhere, we were absolutely amazed by its beauty!
We wanted to make it to Canberra that day, so we had to rush a bit to see the rest of the Blue Mountains. Since the weather had been really bad the night before, it was very difficult to walk to the waterfalls and lookouts – but we somehow made it to the Katoomba Cascades. Our last stop in the Blue Mountains was the Echo Point. It was a nice view but it was the first time we had to pay for parking (1st hour $3,80, every following $4,80) and for me personally there were way too many tourists. Fabian walked on to the Three Sisters over the Giant Stairway, while I was getting ready for the drive to Canberra. We arrived in Canberra at around 7pm. One of our friends took us to Ainslie Mountain by where we had a nice view of the sunset over the Capital.
The next day in Canberra we took a walk through the Parliamentary Zone but unfortunately didn’t have the time to have a look at the National Gallery or National Museum. We drove up to Ainslie Mountain again where we saw a huge rainstorm in the distance – a little foretaste of what we would experience in the following two days. From Canberra we actually planed on driving to Jervis Bay but the weather was not good enough to drive to a beach. Heavy storms and a lot of rain made it hard to drive so we stopped at Ulladulla and found a campsite in Mollymook.
From Mollymook we kept on driving towards Jervis Bay but as soon as we arrived there, we found out that they had an entry fee of $11 so we turned around again because there was no point in spending money on something when the weather isn’t good enough for it. The rain and storms were getting worse and every street seemed to be flooded. We drove on to Huskisson, one of the oldest towns on the South Coast and we had a little walk on the beach in the pouring rain. The wind was getting stronger as well so we decided to look for a campsite early this day because driving around was no fun at all. Rocco took us to Wollongong where we found a campsite in Bulli right next to the beach. We just stayed in the car because the rain was too heavy and watched a movie on Rocco’s DVD-player.
Our last day with Rocco had come and the rain had gone again. We cleaned Rocco and got him ready for his drive back to Sydney. Our last stop before dropping Rocco off was a lookout over Bulli beach, truly amazing even though dark clouds were still with us.
All together it was an awesome trip (even if the weather wasn’t perfect) we saw much and this would’ve never been possible if it wasn’t because of Rocco. It was an amazing opportunity to see more than just the big cities and we can’t thank you enough for this free road trip with the lovely Rocco.
Fabian & Alina
Adventures of Coco our Social Cabana: Olly & Theresa take Coco on a roadie
05 April 2013 02:30 p.m.
Meet Olly & Theresa (pictured left) who took Coco, our Social Cabana away for a free adventure in New Zealand. Sure sounds like they had an amazing time. You can check out more photos from their adventures here on our facebook page. Jealous? Then apply to take Coco away on an adventure yourself. She is FREE! Check out www.jucy4free.co.nz to apply! Love Lucy xx
It’s Waitangi Day and our first day with CoCo the Social Cabana. After leaving the home comforts of Fox Glacier where we had spent a very wet but beautiful three months working, it was time for the “Holiday” part of our working holiday to begin. We met a very jolly Espen at JUCY Rentals – Auckland, despite the fact it was a sunny bank holiday Wednesday, Espen was more than enthusiastic for us and our exciting week ahead and didn’t seem resentful of the fact he was working at all! After we were introduced to CoCo and shown all of her mod cons, He pointed us in the direction of the North Shore Beach. And so our adventure’s in CoCo begins, with “North Shore” typed into Sat Nav, sun cream and a prop box at the ready…
We chilled on the beach among both locals and tourists, as it was a mid-week holiday for most, with an ice cream and watched the tide come in. Unfortunately some little nippers didn’t take that in to consideration as they made their way across the beach rock climbing. The tide came in quickly, and the unaccompanied minors were alone and on the opposite side to their parents. We somehow became on-lookers to a “search and rescue episode” involving hysterical parents, jet skis and lost flip flops. It all turned out fine in the end though, flip flops, children and parents all being reunited. Phew.
After having our beach fill for the day, we took CoCo back into the city, where we could park in the centre for free – Thanks to good old bank holiday goodness. After a quick shower at the JUCY hotel, it was time for a feed and to find a suitable spot to decorate with birthday banners, balloons and other birthday related goodies, as we were meeting our friend whose birthday it was. We then followed our noses… literally… being led by the smell of homemade chips… we decided The Spitting Feathers English pub was a “Choice” spot to decorate and celebrate. The rest of the night’s shenanigans are a little hazy involving a vague memory of shots on the bar, and suggestions from various bar staff that you absolutely HAD to get naked to celebrate your birthday, pretty sure that did not happen, but that’s based solely on my blurred recollection’s, so who knows? At the end of the night three of us headed back to CoCo for a centrally located kip. CoCo easily accommodated the 4 of us, Myself (T) and Olly (we are the two lucky buggers that won this AMAZING prize) our mate, Jody (whose birthday it was) and of course, Lucy.
Waking up in the CBD led to an early morning start, toilets and H20 were in desperate demand all round. After we had quenched our early morning basic needs, and dropped the birthday girl at home, it was time to set off for territory unknown. So our first stop outside of Auckland was the beautiful Corramandel. The town of Corromandel was beautiful. We headed to Long Bay for a well-deserved “post-drive dip” in the sea. At dusk we headed to a lookout to watch a sunset above the Corromandel Harbour, without doubt the best New Zealand Sunset I have been lucky enough to see. We enjoyed a bottle of champagne, Lucy’s company, and celebrated our first night on the road. We then made post-dusk tracks to The Corromandel Hotel Camping ground where Olly’s bartering skills got us a good late night bargain, and use of all on site amenities, for a bargain $5 each.
We woke up feeling a hell of a lot better than we did the previous morning, and had both toilets and taps on our JUCY doorstep, bonus! We decided to head for Whitianga, for “fush and Chups” at Snapper Jacks, which were “the best fish in chips, eaten in New Zealand to date” quoted by Olly, and a look around the cute town. After that it was time for some Hot Water Beach action, where we enjoyed a dig and a dip. We decided “Broken Hills” campsite sounded a suitably scary spot to spend the night, located in the Corromandal Forest Park. We stopped to stock the fridge full of supplies and other bits and bobs. We arrived at the beautiful, secluded camp ground and parked next to the river. We spent our evening eating a delicious Pork dinner, watching The Full Monty in bed and Olly Skinny dipped in the river… Motivated by the film, perhaps?!… Shame it was so cold… bless!
Day Four in the JUCY camper and after a lazy morning making breakfast we decided to head to the Land of L’n'P (Paeroa). How could we resist when it is “world famous” in New Zealand? On route we were drawn to a garage sale were Olly invested in a very dapper waist coat and I got talking to the lady about her latest heart attack and writing down her recommendations to go and live in a Buddhist retreat with her daughter. We shall see about that one, for now though: Destination Paeroa. When we arrived in the land of the tall L’n'P we quickly realized it was host to the annual Scottish Highland Games and Tattoo. Held right in the centre of town, the whole place was buzzing with a festival vibe and every corner was filled with haggis, and Scottish tartan. It was extremely surreal being at the most uniquely, quaint kiwi town, surrounded by big burly Scottish men in Kilts throwing wood around. So we decided to embrace it and erm… did a highland fling, which resulted in free entry! (The last sentence was a variation on the truth, take it as you will!) After our fill of L’n'P and scottishness, we made our way to a beach camp in Matata. We stayed at a DOC Campsite looking out over the Bay of Plenty. We paid $6 each and slept on the sand, under the stars, listening to the sound of crashing waves. It was a popular spot, with 1 hot shower that was coin operated – 50c for a 6 minute shower. The box was conveniently located outside and around the corner from the shower and started as soon as your 50c left your dirty fingertips, apart from that slight faux pa, luxury.
Today was the best day EVER! We had to get out of the campground by 10.00am, so at 9.59am (getting our $6’s worth) we made tracks to Rotarua. It was a beautiful drive, and we were excited to see the famously smelly Rotorua. Once we arrived we randomly stumbled across a market, whilst having a look around we completely randomly bumped into an old Queenstown friend who was working on a stall there. After a slightly smelly catch up with our mate, (smelly water… not our mate) we sniffed out some more smelly Smokey water in Kuirau park. Thanks to Rotorua’s Sulphur-asthmatic airs we were able to ‘let one rip’ right, left and center, and no-one bats an eyelid. Bliss. It’s Olly writing this, by the way. NOT T. Next it was time to realize a dream… and ZORB! It was THE best way to get down a hill (after snowboarding).EVER. I don’t know how, or who they thought we were but the extremely amazing crew at ZORB sorted us out with 3 free rides each, the “Double Trouble”, “Zig -Zag” and “The Drop” we could not believe our luck : ) Lucy took photos as we rolled in every direction, in water, inside what seemed like a big beach ball being thrown directly down a hill! I felt like a sock on a spin cycle, literally hair-raising. At one point I could not see where I was and panicked at the thought I had left the safe confines of the track and would spend the rest of the day encased in an inflatable ball rolling solo around the North Island. Luckily this wasn’t the case and we just had a spectacular time! Thank you ZORBING Crew at Agroventures and JUCY of course, as without JUCY none of this would have been possible. After that we drove around pumped on adrenaline and celebrated with a few beverages at the popular Reid’s Farm retreat campground, right next to the river. It was a free spot where we ate, drank and were merry along with the rest of the happy campers.
Day six, and our last morning waking up in CoCo. BOO HOO! After a fine Bacon and Egg butty we headed to Huka falls and followed the road South to the Spectacular Tongariro National Park. The drive was spectacular and we caught a short but amazing view of the volcanic peaks (one which has been erupting since August the 6th). We enjoyed a couple of short walks, enjoying the last of our JUCY time and then it was time to head back to Auckland to wish bon voyage to CoCo and Lucy, and reunite them with the JUCY team and end our incredible JUCY journey. Thank you JUCY we have had the best week ever and without your generosity and the kindness of strangers it would not have been possible. Much Love and until next time, T and Olly xxx
Look out Wellington. JUCY’s in town!
03 April 2013 09:51 a.m.
Get ready Wellington because on the 1st of April JUCY Wellington officially opened it’s doors.
This gives our customers yet another location where they can collect and return JUCY Wheels, adding to the ever growing JUCY Network. Tim Alpe, co-founder and our Chief JUCY-fier says, “We are thrilled to be opening a new branch in Wellington and are really excited about JUCY-fying the capital”.
JUCY Wellington is located only a 5 minute drive from the airport terminal and offers free shuttle transfers to and from the airport during office hours.
Monday saw the first bunch of JUCY customers collect wheels from Wellington and hit the road on their New Zealand adventure.
The entire JUCY Family are super excited that we can bring some green & purple love to New Zealand’s capital city.
Top ten free things to do in Los Angeles
20 March 2013 12:03 p.m.
Home to the rich and famous, one would think Los Angeles would be an expensive city to tour.
While some activities such as Universal Studios or Hollywood homes tours can be pricey, most of the very best things to do in the city of stars are free. We’ve sent a lady out in a JUCY Rental RV to do some research, and this is what she found. From visiting must-see sights like the Hollywood sign to watching a live taping of your favourite show, this really is the city where dreams come true and the guess what? These ten dream activities are completely free.
10.) Attend an open house. Go beyond the Hollywood homes tour and actually step inside one of them by pulling an I Love You Man and attending an open house. You might land on a private tour of an A-lister’s pad. One can only hope for sundried tomato aioli. Alternatively, you can sneak into some of LA’s most famous hotels, like Hotel Roosevelt. No one will question you and you might stumble upon a film set.
9.) Hit the beach. Just in case the bright lights of Hollywood have blocked out the sun during your visit, here’s a reminder. Los Angeles is located right on the beach and is home to some stunning and animated beach towns, like Venice, Santa Monica and Malibu. Park and soak up the sun or walk around taking in the sights, like Santa Monica Pier and Muscle beach.
8.) Window shop on Rodeo Drive. Most of us can’t afford anything on one of America’s most expensive streets to shop, but looking is free and extremely fun. For those not so much into shopping, check out the cars that come through this street. You might even see one of a few Bugatti Veyron in the world in front of Bijan. This is also one of the best places in Los Angeles to spot stars.
7.) Spot the stars on Hollywood Boulevard. So you probably won’t be seeing any real stars here unless there is a premiere, but they’ve all left their marks on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Find Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson and more on this two-mile-long sidewalk attraction, which is split into two sections.
6.) Star gaze at Griffith Observatory. While you can walk up to LA’s famous planetarium, it’s one of those places you’ll be happy you have a car to visit. Learn about the solar system through one of many exhibitions or attend one of its special star gazing events.
5.) Find the film locations from your favourite movies. As you would imagine, a lot of movies have been filmed on the streets of LA. A bit of searching on the internet will lead you to Sid Hudgens’ ‘Hush Hush’ spot in LA Confidential or Cher’s mall of choice in Clueless.
4.) Laugh out loud at a comedy show. Los Angeles is home to an array of famous comedy venues. The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater offers free entrance a few times a months. Check their schedule to see if your trip coincides. They do not take reservations for these events, so be there first to claim your ticket.
3.) Walk to the Hollywood sign. Get up close to what might me Hollywood’s most famous attraction. The Hollyridge Trail starts on Beachwood Drive and takes about an hour. The walk is mostly on an incline, but very easy to complete. Once at the top, you’ll look down on the Hollywood sign as well as all of LA.
2.) Join the audience at live a show taping. An endless list of TV shows and series are filmed in studios in and around the city. Some you can find tickets to include The Ellen Degeneres Show, Conan and The Price is Right. Visit their websites to find availability. All tickets are free, but first come first serve, so register in advance. A major plus about this is you are given access to some of Hollywood’s biggest film studios, such as Warner Bros. and Paramount.
1.) Check out the red carpet at a Hollywood premiere. By far, the most fitting thing to do in Hollywood is go to a premiere. The red carpet part of these events is usually open to the public, though you will have to get there early to claim a good spot. The best thing to do is pay attention to the news to find out if, when and where a film or TV show will premier during your stay in Los Angeles. You might even stumble upon one at the Chinese Theater, while touring Hollywood Boulevard.
Meet some of our awesome JUCY Crew
13 March 2013 10:03 a.m.
Our JUCY Crew are our Family. We work hard and have a load of fun doing it. We wanted to give you the chance to meet some of the friendly and passionate people behind the scenes at JUCY-ville – so here are a couple of them!
Meet Maya. Maya is our JUCY USA Manager who is based in Los Angeles!
Meet Sonia. Sonia is one of the awesome Team Leaders in our Contact Centre based at JUCY HQ in Auckland.
To read more about other members of our JUCY Family take a look at our staff profiles on our website.
Until next time,