Highlights of the Pacific Northwest

This summer, STA Travel’s resident Frenchman, Marketing Exec and designated driver, Hugo Peurois, drove two super talented filmmakers, Lars Timmerman and Felix Zehender, around America’s Pacific Northwest to shoot a film for our “Go Beyond” Visit The USA campaign. We grabbed Hugo for his top five highlights.

1. Cliff jumping in Crater Lake (Oregon)

Why: “A stunning caldera lake in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, formed from a volcanic eruption almost 8,000 years ago, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the USA, and one of the purest. Fed by melting snow, the water quality is one of the best in the world, and gives it an incredible deep blue colour that I’ve never seen before. The water temperature was a bit chilly… but the adrenaline rush from jumping off the cliffs definitely warmed me up!”

2. The sea plane from Seattle to San Juan Island (Washington)

Why: “It was just a really special experience, with incredible views over Seattle on take off and landing. We took an early morning flight which gave us plenty of opportunities for beautiful sunrise shots of the water and the islands around Seattle.”

3. The batting cages in Bend (Oregon)

Why: “I think this was probably one of the most ‘American’ activities we could have done. We were three Europeans playing baseball for the first time – it must have been very entertaining for the locals to watch!”

4. Toulouse Vineyard (California)

Why: “Based in California’s Anderson Valley, the winemaker shared his wine tasting expertise with us before taking us around the vines and up the hill in his buggy. The view over the valley and Navarro River from the top of the hill was stunning. We were amazed at how high the redwood sequoias are (among the tallest trees in the world). The wine was pretty perfect too!”

5. Horseback riding around Smith Rock (Oregon)

Why: “Smith Rock is an American state park in Oregon’s High Desert. With its huge rock spires, sheer cliff faces and 30 million-year-old geology, it’s famous amongst rock climbers around the world. We swapped climbing ropes for reins and went for a more Old Western approach! The ride took us down into the canyon and we got to feel like proper cowboys.”

Ready to road trip? Cliff jumping, batting cages and Old Westerns? The Pacific Northwest – sign us up! Watch the film on our Youtube channel.


Our guide to the Texas food & music scene

Home to the rodeo, Willie Nelson, the Wild West, and finger lickin’ BBQ food, the Lone Star State is not to be overlooked. So, in true STA Travel style, we’re here to delve in to the food and music scene in Texas, giving you the low-down on where to go to soak up all those warm and welcoming Texan vibes…


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If you’re a lover of food:

Big Daddy’s Eats & Treats – colourful shaved ice, hot cheetos with corn in a cup, or HUGE cucumbers with tons of toppings?! Sounds oddly intriguing…

Mi Tierra Café and Panaderia – this little family run café was opened in 1941 by Pedro and Cruz Cortez, who wanted to serve the hard-working early risers in San Antonio. Nowadays it’s world-famous, run by the same family, and serving up authentic Mexican food (and margaritas) with a warm Texas welcome.

If you’re a lover of food AND music:

County Line River Walk for proper Texas country roadhouse vibes and a plate of legendary Texas BBQ. Hit the BBQ house on a Thursday or Friday and you’ll be treated to some damn good live local music.


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If you’re a lover of music:

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport – you don’t even have to leave the airport to get a taste of Texas’ music roots – the airport hosts Music in the Air, which delivers 23 shows a week in six different venues in the airport.

Continental Club – one of Austin’s oldest clubs opened in 1955 and since then it’s lived through a few refurbs (swanky supper club, Austin’s first burlesque club, a working man’s blue collar bar, punk rock ‘n’ roll venue) all the way through to what it is today – a retro club dedicated to roots, rockabilly, country and swing music, and refurbed to its original 1950’s style. You’ll find a classic neon sign out front, murals on the walls, and an old-school interior – it’s easy to see why it’s often been named one of the best bars in America.

Antone’s Nightclub on East 5th Street – for the music lovers who really want to catch some great Blues music, head to this oldie but goodie. The club opened in 1975 and has hosted legendary artists like BB King, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton & Stevie Ray Vaughan.

If you’re a lover of music AND food:

Gospel brunch at Stubb’s Bar-B-Q – slow smoked Texas BBQ and live gospel music on a Sunday. We didn’t know we needed gospel music while eating BBQ food… until now.

Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park – a huge annual festival that’s made up of 8 stages over two weekends. The October 2017 lineup included the likes of Jay-Z, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gorillaz, Martin Garrix, Vance Joy, and The Killers. Like any festival that’s worth its salt, ACL also has a banging food court – ‘ACL Eats Food Court’ brings in all the surrounding area’s best restaurants and lets them set up shop to ensure their customers are well fed and watered.


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If you’re a lover of food:

Vaudeville Bistro in downtown Fredericksburg – devour artisanal wood fired pizzas and charcuterie boards, wash it down with some tasty local wine, and then browse home furnishings and the contemporary art gallery upstairs. Oooo, fancy.

If you’re a lover of music:

Luckenbach Texas – this little gem was made famous by Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson (aka the bad boys of country). If that’s not enough to draw you in, then maybe the promise of a quirky country hangout with a daily dose of live music will. Make sure you’re there for the pickers circle at 4:30pm, where local singers jam together under the old oak trees. Ahhh, country life.


If you’re a lover of food:

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Torchy’s Tacos – what started as just a taco-loving guy with a red Vespa scooter, quickly became a Texas sensation; a well-loved taco heaven located in stores and trailer parks all over Texas. Mike, his team and his customers are now living the taco dream across the state. Try them out and you’ll quickly see why Torchy’s Tacos have won awards… I mean, LOOK at that shot! *Drools over the cheese sauce*

Local food trucks are a serious trend in Texas, and you can find them almost anywhere. If you’re a big fan of casual street food, some of the best bites are served up in these vans. From BBQ platters to desserts…

Feeling the Texas inspiration right now? We sent two amazing film makers, Abigail Green and Philip Eder, along with our very own Nicholas Cooper as chaperone, to experience all this state has to offer, and they made a film about it! Head to our Youtube channel to give it a watch.

5 ‘adventure’ states to visit in the USA

Do you consider yourself a modern day Indiana Jones – always looking for crazy experiences at some off-the-beaten-track location? Well don your cowboy hat and lasso, because we’re taking you on an adventure!

State #1: Colorado
Town/City:Aspen, Durango or Boulder

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Gap year ideas: what to do on a gap year

You fancy yourself as a bit of a traveller. You’re looking for flexibility, freedom and fun on your gap year adventure. Structure and rigid plans just aren’t your vibe. Sound like you? Well if you’re wondering exactly how to fill your gap year with lifelong memories and experiences then look no further! Consider us your gap year advisor (much like a career advisor but without the dark office and resting b*tch face). Here’s our top 4 picks.


Give back to the countries you’re visiting and take part in a volunteer project. There’s tons of options out there, from working with turtles in Costa Rica, teaching children in Cape Town or helping friendly Fijians in their local community. This is the perfect option for countries where you can’t get a working holiday visa, and sometimes accommodation and/or food is included! Check out our volunteering projects across the world.

Work abroad

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A great way to get around amazing countries like Canada, Europe, America and Australia. Not only do you gain experiences you can add to your CV, but you also get to the heart of a country by living like a local (and you earn money so you can travel the rest of it – win win). Check out our working holiday hub here.

Teach English as a foreign language

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Earn a TEFL qualification and the world is your oyster! There are so many countries that are looking for English teachers, from Thailand and Cambodia all the way to Europe. There’s nothing quite like seeing a child’s beaming smile when they’ve learnt something new and knowing you’ve made a small impact on that child’s future. And it’s something else that looks pretty darn impressive on your CV. Check out our TEFL page for more info.

Round the World

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What better time to travel around the world than when you’ve got a whole year to do it?! You can stop in as many countries as you like on a Round the World ticket, so you could spend a few months island hopping around Asia, before settling in to working in Europe (while also soaking up the awesome culture). Or start off your gap year with a working holiday visa in Australia/Canada, gain some of those vital travel funds, before heading off to explore the beautiful islands of New Zealand or the incredibly diverse region of Latin America. Plus, if you’re under 31 you could get one of our BlueTicket’s for your Round the World adventure – and get the lowest price, flexible date changes and you can secure it with a deposit!

We’re hoping you’ve finished reading this feeling way more inspired than you did when you left your career advisor’s office – screw you and your stuffy career ideas Sharon, we’re off on a gap year adventure!

11 reasons to go travelling when you’re young
If you haven’t already heard, STA Travel has a little something called BlueTicket – a game changer for those under 31 who are wanting to snag exclusive airfares! So, in the spirit of feeling young, fun and free, we thought we’d compile a list of reasons why we think travelling when you’re young is the one (although we do advocate it at any age!)

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48-hour fling with Venice

I’ve lived in a fair few cities in my 27 years on Earth – Newcastle, Lincoln, Indianapolis, Sydney, Melbourne, and London. And when I visited Venice for the first time, I fell in love instantly, and could easily see myself taking up residence there.

So what does Venice have that these other cities don’t, I hear you ask? Well, curious little readers…

1. It’s a floating city

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15 things travellers are thankful for

This week, we’re taking a leaf out of our American neighbours’ book and counting our blessings for all things travel, in honour of Thanksgiving. Not just the the serious (and amazing) stuff like learning about other cultures, but also the little things we didn’t realise were so amazing until we set off on our travels…

Free wifi – oh you beautiful thing


How to spend 8 days in mainland Thailand

I’m Rachael, certified Netflix binger, beer pong fan, and one of the website guru’s at STA Travel. I recently got back from an Asia trip – and by recently I mean 6 months ago, but I’m in denial. Of the places I visited, I spent 6 weeks in Thailand. As well as eating my body weight in curry and 7-Eleven toasties (if you know, you know) I’d like to think I got to know the place pretty well, so this is what I’d tell travellers to do on a 8 day/7 night trip.

Day one

Fly in to Bangkok, because that’s probably the easiest and cheapest to get to. I spent three weeks in Bangkok (not because I’m crazy, I did a volunteering job) so I’ve done a lot there. You could either spend the day visiting amazing buildings like the Wat Pho/Wat Arun temple and the Grand Palace – all beautiful and worth a look, or if you’re more about the markets, head to one of the many floating markets around the city. We decided to get in a taxi and drive to Talin Chan and Khlong Lat Mayom, which were both really close to each other – we preferred the second one as it had much more of an authentic feel to it (the first one was very touristy).

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Where to visit the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef – mother nature’s greatest masterpiece. When you picture it, you may just think of the Reef as part of Tropical North Queensland, accessible from everyone’s favourite party playground, Cairns. However, the Reef actually runs almost all the way down the coast of Queensland (1,430 miles in fact), so you can visit it from multiple places on your East Coast adventure. So where are some of the best places to visit the Great Barrier Reef, and what can you do there?

Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up, as if you’re coming from Brisbane.

From Hervey Bay

Photo courtesy of Tourism Queensland

Firstly, if you’re in Hervey Bay between July to November, you’re in prime whale watching season. Humpback whales are known to stop off at the bay for a rest before continuing their migration. Once you’ve experienced that, think about taking a scenic 40-minute flight from Hervey Bay over to Lady Elliot Island, the southernmost island of the Great Barrier Reef, where you’ll see all the beauty of the reef from above. Known for some of the clearest of water on the reef, the area is perfect for snorkelling. The island is known as ‘Home of the manta ray’, with over 700 species in its waters – AND if you arrive between November and March, it’s hatching season for the green sea turtles. An amazing flight, some excellent snorkelling, prime whale watching, swimming with manta rays AND green sea turtle hatching?! Sign us up!

What jobs can you do on an Australian working holiday?

Saw-wielding ghost train monster, fruit picker, Outback barmaid, funeral insurance cold caller… What do all these professions have in common? They were all jobs on my two-year working holiday in Australia. My name’s Rachael, STA Travel Digital Marketing Exec, Love Island enthusiast and owner of one kick ass (weird, but nevertheless…) CV.

Taking the plunge and going on a working holiday visa in Australia can be both daunting and exciting, all at the same time. You’ll be constantly wondering ‘What if I don’t get a job?’, ‘How hard is it to find work?’ or just plain saying ‘I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!’. It’s okay, I found myself asking the exact same questions when I booked my flight five months before I left, because I’m impulsive & apparently enjoy giving my parents a heart attack (don’t do that – unless it’s super cheap, then who cares about our parents?).

All jokes aside, I’m here to tell you that it’s easier than you think, and you can pretty much do just about anything to work your way around Australia – my friend once dressed up as a mascot for a corner shop.