OK, almost always I blog about making my way through the world as a too young, too naive artist. Last time, I talked about money (TL;DR: I don’t have any). Before that, I’ve talked about risk and reward several times. I like to play devil’s advocate with my own choices, apparently. OR I’m a whiny millenial who blogs way too much about my shower thoughts and inner fears.
One choice I’m not sure I even made consciously was to keep moving. My parents have begged me not to, in order to save some dough for later. But I love to fall in love. And going to new places is one way to stay thirsty for love.
What does this mean? I used to joke with Matt during Refresh that he falls in love with everyone he meets, a little bit. Maybe it rubbed off on me. I am restless to try out new places, people, and more. I love to embrace challenges, and if some(one)(thing)(place) is different than what I’ve seen before, I get excited. Since moving to NYC, I’ve ironically driven more miles than I ever have in my life, from off-the-grid parts of Maine to careening up a mountain in Iceland. I’ve flown over 30,000 miles to over 21 airports in a little over two years. Since graduating from college, I’ve gotten to see seven U.S. states I had never been to before! After I moved to New York, I spent about nine months going back and forth once a week to Southwest VA – an eight hour drive.
I know exactly why this is strategically, logically disadvantageous. I have already had more jobs that I can count (I have no less than 12 versions of my resume for different purposes), and I’ve already been asked why I haven’t stuck around anywhere for long. I’ve lived in NYC for less than two years and I’m already musing moving on. But seriously, people can calm down, I’m 23. I’ve got plenty of time to stick to one place, but this is the only time I can move around without regret.
Here’s a few tips from the road (P.S. I have two more trips this month):
- Scrutinize costs but don’t hesitate to pull the trigger: Booking flights, renting cars, and reserving hotels all have a tricky cost-benefit analysis. Once, tired after driving all night, I paid an absurd $200 for a smoking (eww) hotel room at a crappy place in the middle of nowhere because I was desperate. At the same time, I have regularly found domestic fares for even $69. DON’T make a decision without comparing prices – cast the widest net possible, it takes only minutes with the Internet. For me, I like Google Flights and Skiplagged for airfare (Once you have the price try to actually book with the airline though) and Wanderu for ground travel like buses and trains. As far as rental cars go, check the credit card you’re using to reserve the car – odds are they have a shopping and rewards program that gives a decent discount and some rudimentary forms of insurance attached. For hotels, I try to see if last minute apps like HotelTonight will help, or Google, or I try to ask directly over the phone what the good deals are. But even though you need to compare, DON’T wait once you’ve found a good deal. It will be gone the next day. Book ASAP.
- Read the fine print and solve your own problems. Cost comes at the price of convenience. When flying on a low-budget airline to Iceland, the airline was extremely explicit that very little free carry-on luggage was offered on the flight while booking and in several followup email notices. I took this into account while packing. Others were dismayed and tried to complain. In my last post, I wrote about seeing being young and hungry for experience as an opportunity. It is. Open yourself up to creative problem-solving – I thought renting a car in the city was extremely expensive until I realized the price dropped in half by renting out of nearby Jersey City. For a few extra minutes on the PATH train, I felt like a genius. The empowerment that comes from the self-reliance of travel is unparalleled.
- Always be prepared. I carry a toothbrush with me at nearly all times. I’m usually ready, with chargers for my laptop and phone, to zoom off at any time. I can pack in under 10 minutes. The trick is, in my opinion, treating travel as a routine rather than a special event. Do not take more than you can carry. Be reasonable about the kind of clothes you need. Know what you can’t live without.
- You don’t know what you don’t know. There will be crazy bumps on the road. Once, I seriously missed a train because the entire Washington D.C. Metro system shut down and I had to pay for an $120 Uber to get into the city and about $100 more on my train ticket. Accept that these risks are part of the game. Each experience will teach you a little more about next time.
I haven’t even come close to heading to all the places I want to go to. But I know, at least, that I’ve developed enough tricks that I know it can be done. Even as I continue a world of nomadic wandering, I know that I can, in fact, become attached to the place. I fell in love with my college town, Blacksburg, and I ensure that I stay there multiple weeks in a year. I fell in love with New Mexico and I may never go there again. There’s no cheating on one city with another — only what you can gain in the process of racking up your little black book.
Next stops: Puerto Rico, San Francisco, Chicago… and who knows?!