USA Itinerary

So I have recently returned from spending 3 months in the United States. Of my time abroad I spent 1 month travelling while the other 2 months were spent at working at a Summer Camp in Maine.

I have put together the following itinerary of my time abroad. I did not plan this out in advance at all and simply just booked it as I went. Which I totally do NOT recommend as the USofA is incredibly expensive to book things last minute. Bus tickets go from being $20 to $80 for example if you don’t book ahead! But if you’re like me who isn’t really one for planning ahead that means you can be open to awesome ‘last minute deals’!

So here is my itinerary. (See below for a shortened version)

Day 1-5: Boston
Day 6-11: New York City
Day 12-15: Atlantic City
Day 16-18: Philadelphia
Day 19-23: Washington DC
Day 24-26: Nashville
Day 27-31: Chicago
Day 32-35: New York
Day 36: Fly Home 😦

I felt I had a good length of time in all places except Philly where I could’ve spent another day there just for the atmosphere. It had such a good vibe going on in the area I was staying at. If you do head to Nashville make sure you’re there for a Friday or Saturday night to check out the best of the nightlife!

If you’re looking at making this itinerary shorter I would recommend skipping Atlantic City unless you’re really going there to party hard. I would give Nashville a miss and do it on a later trip as it is quite out of the way to get to. See below for my revised itinerary.

Day 1-3: Boston
Day 4-10: New York City
Day 11-13: Philadelphia
Day 14-17: Washington DC
Day 18-21: Chicago

I wouldn’t try to cram in any more destinations as you won’t have enough time to experience each place and will end up just rushing through.

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Philadelphia: Battle of the Philly Cheesesteak

If you ask anyone from Philly they will have their favourite place to go for the ‘best’ Philly Cheese Steak. They get so passionate about telling you where the best place to go it is incredible to see how into a sandwich someone can get. If they read this and saw that I referred to a Philly Cheesesteak as just a sandwich they’d probably be offended. They seem to get more into this debate than politics or anything else that I talked to them about.


I tasted 2 Philly Cheesesteaks during my time in Philly and I didn’t not go to the 2 ‘must-go’ recommended places. One being Geno’s and the other Pat King’s of Steak mainly because it was super far away from my hostel. I did try Steve’s after a very excited conversation with a local, he was so passionate and had total belief that that was the best version of the sandwich I would eat that I had to go there and try it out for myself. I walked into the place and ordered a Philly Cheesesteak With Wiz (I was under strict instructions to order it this way) and onions. Wiz is just a form of cheese that is pretty liquidy and I don’t think I’d rush back to eat it. The sandwich itself was great, the steak was cooked to perfection, the sandwich was filling and delicious and didn’t have too much of anything. If anything it could’ve done with a sprinkle of salt but it was pretty good.

The next place that I tried was a little place called Comptos. It was a family owned business and had lots of home made deserts to go alongside your artery clogging sandwich. This one was a little less greasy but the taste didn’t match Steve’s. The steak was tougher with less flavour and the overall experience wasn’t as good as Steve’s. Steve’s set the bar HIGH.


I am now educated and more than happy to get in the debate over the best Philly Cheesesteak in Philadelphia!

New York: Day 1

For my first full day in New York I decided to start it with one of the major ‘must-see’ aces- Central Park. Central Park is a massive (major understatement) park which is located in the middle of the city. Outside the park you will find lots of people trying to get you to hire bikes. I chose not too and instead walk. I knew as soon as I stepped foot into the park that there was no way I’d be able to walk the whole park and see everything in one go, second guessing my decision not to hire a bike I carried on. 
  I walked through Strawberry Fields- the place where John Lennon found inspiration to write the song. The Alice in Wonderland statues, I found a little fair bit with rides and somehow missed the zoo. The park also contains a pool which is free to users and much more. I spent probably 3 hours here and could have easily spent the entire day wandering round and relaxing there.

In the afternoon I made my way out to the Staten Island Ferry. This is a great way to see the Statue of Liberty without having to pay the price. The official ferry that takes you there I believe costs $6 one way per person and you can only stand at the bottom of Lady Liberty. The Staten Island Ferry is free and you don’t necessarily get as close but still have a wonderful view and some great pics!

  
I’d already had the heads up that Lady Liberty isn’t as big as people think or the pictures depict. Intact she is quite small for what you’d probably expect. Seeing the famous statue and what she represents was great.

For dinner I headed to Chinatown hoping to find a great stirfry or noodle dish. The place I chose to eat at was pretty cheap with dishes starting at around $8. I chose the chicken Lo Mein, the food was hot and fresh it lacked a bit of flavour. Once I had finished there I made my way back to the apartment to chill out and plan my next few days ahead!

Travelling to SaPa on the night bus!

Traveling to SaPa from Hanoi on the night bus is an experience that I won’t forget. The seats were almost like beds and double storey. I was on the top level with no seatbelt and almost fell out of my seat more than once!    
 
Try to be one of the first in the queue as choosing the right seat is very important. You don’t want to be on the bottom up the front as the drivers will often tell you to move to let their friends jump aboard. So don’t be surprised when you go through the back streets to accommodate where they need to go! So if you like the front choose the top level so you don’t get booted from your seat. Also try to avoid being to close to the toilet as after a few hours it may start to stink the bus out. 

Going there I was on the top and had a fairly good experience coming back I was on the bottom and much preferred the top. Especially being a solo traveller I felt much safer from thieving hands and just the general public. Keep all your valuables on you- your passport, cash, cameras the lot! They will go through your bags and I heard people on my bus who lost stuff, I also heard people getting underneath the bus to go through the bags…

I have also been on a night train in Vietnam and honestly greatly preferred the bus! Comfortable seats, controllable aircon and wifi as well as cheaper tickets are all a big plus in my opinion compared to the train! The main thing is if you are tall you may be a bit squished but it will be an experience you probably won’t forget!

Why I didn’t ride an Elephant in Thailand.

I recently went to Thailand and didn’t ride and Elephant. As you may or may not know the Elephant industry is a very touchy subject in Thailand. Everyone who goes including me wants to ride an Elephant but at what cost. A lot of people are oblivious or simply don’t care how the Elephant is treated, they just want the experience and those awesome tourist pictures. 

This industry in Thailand is starting to spread the word about how the precious animals are treated. Some of them are stabbed ferociously with the bull hook, and will have anything done with them for that extra dollar. 
I remember going to this one place on a day tour in Thailand where there was this baby Elephant in the parking lot with a chain around her foot showing deep cuts marks from it and all she did was sit there and made to eat when tourists wanted to pay out that dollar for their enjoyment. It was really sad to see.
Not all Elephants are treated like this, there are Elephant Sanctuary Parks that are being set up where you can go along and play with the Elephants in their natural environment and volunteer to work alongside them. 
Please remember though to do your research before booking or paying any money as not everything is as it seems and consider the ethical aspects to your travels! 

Travelling internationally: what to expect.

Okay so it’s your first time abroad and you’ve never travelled through those international doors here is what to expect.

  
My first tip is to get to the airport with enough time so you don’t feel rushed. I generally aim to be at the airport 2-3 hours before check in so I have enough time to be relaxed, find my check in desk and deal with any last minute thins that I should have done earlier. Checking in for an international flight can also take a longer process than domestic- the lines can be long so be prepared to have patience. People will push in. I’ve often had to wait 40 minutes on average to just check in. 

  
Once you have checked in you will be given a departures card that you need to fill out before you proceed through to the gate lounge. It contains details such as your name, passport number, flight number, where you will spend the most time abroad, how long you will be away and the purpose of your trip. When this is filled out your next step is going through security and customs. You are unable to take water bottles through security as well as the normal restrictions.

After security you’ll need to go through customs which is when you hand in your departure card and the customs officer will ask you a few questions. 

Once that is all done you should be on your way! Find your gate, buy some real food before that long flight, sit back and relax while waiting for your flight to be called.

How I save money to travel

All these are suggestions on how to save money for travel. Simple ways to adjust the way you live to put that extra dollar away for travel. These costings are relevant to what I would be paying living in Australia and may vary to your individual location. Here’s some of the ways I save money and you can too!!

Ditch the coffee: it’s pretty widespread news but making your daily instead of buying it is such a great way to save your money for travel. Is that $5 coffee really worth it? 

This also applies to those ‘must-have’ smoothies, bubble tea drinks etc. Savings of $1500+ per year!!
Park and walk to work: if you can park your car and walk to work you can save heaps on costs. It saved me $20 a week! 

Savings $900+ per year!
Pack your lunch. Do you buy your lunch or take a packed lunch to work. It is so much cheaper to pack a lunch, get up an extra 5 minutes earlier to save you the extra cash or cook a little extra when you’re making dinner. Leftovers, chicken salad, Turkey wraps, fruit salad and yoghurt those delicious lunch option are endless. Don’t spend $7 + a day on a sandwich or other food choices when you could be saving it!!

Savings of $1500+ – return flights anyone? 
Eat in with friends: instead of going out for meals with friends why not cook them a meal all pitch in $5 and cook yourself the best pizza going round! Savings $20 each night! 
Do you really need another pair of jeans? Save your money and wear the clothes you have or purchase clothes from a thrift shop. Retro is in! Alternatively sell the clothes that you don’t need or want or hold a clothes swap with your friends! 

Savings of $400+ per year.
Stop buying water! Invest in a water bottle that you can use to refill and do that! Why waste money on purchasing something you can have for free! We all know that paying $3.70 for water is ridiculous so don’t do it! But that long life water bottle today and start saving your money now! 

Savings $1000+ per year! 
No more alcohol: yes this may seem harsh but when people spend money on alcohol they’ll approximately spend $70 per night and if you go out once a month or more that can be pretty costly if you’re seriously about that adventure abroad! 
Chocolate! *gasp* yes I said it…. Chocolate does add up if you’re purchasing that cake of chocolate or bag of pods a week. Where would you prefer to be spending that $5 on chocolate or on that greatly desired trip? Savings of over $200+ per year!! 

There’s some ideas to save $5000+ per year! 

My Bucket List.

Learn another language
Skydive
Eat a S’more

Stand Up Paddle Board

Eat Pizza in Italy

Learn to play the Guitar

Visit every Continent

Go on a safari in Africa

Hike Macchu Picchu

Take a cooking class in India

Swim with Sharks

Learn to Surf

Go up the Eiffel Tower

See Uluru

Deep see Scuba Dive

Live in another Country

Snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef

Paraglide

Learn to Snow Ski

Sleep under the stars

Be fluent in 3 languages

Take part in the Tomato Festival 

Run in a Colour Fun Run

Sleep in a treehouse

See Antartica

Learn to sail

See a show on Broadway

Go on an American Roadtrip

Relax on a beach in Hawaii

The 5 Travel gadgets that you really do need!

There are a lot of nifty gadgets designed to help travellers travel easier. Here is my opinion on the ones that have actually made my adventures easy and worth that investment!
1. Packing cells– you can purchase these in multiple sizes depending on your needs and are usually 3 for $25-30ish dollars or about $15 each. Super useful when trying to squeeze all the room you can out of your backpack.

2. Travel towel. A towel that can fit into your hand and dries in 15 minutes- what more can you want? When travelling I always take a microfibre towel with me, I don’t have the space for a normal towel to fit nor the time to wait for it to dry so I always carry one. 

3. Power bank. It’s the absolute worst when you’re out and about, enjoying your day and you have the perfect shot with no battery left in your camera. Invest in one of here and you won’t look back- just don’t forget to keep it charged!

4. Waterproof and shockproof phone case! We all take our phones and electronic devices to the extreme whilst travelling so take the extra precaution with your devices. A lot of people use their phones these days as their only camera so why be limited with it. 

5. Power adapter– you may not be able to charge your devices abroad with your regular power cords from home. Look into in to make sure you have the correct power adapter for the countries you’ll be traveling to! Bonus points for bringing a power board from home so you can charge all your electronics at once!