USA: So What Have I Learned?

It has been almost two weeks since I got back from my first solo travel trip. Honestly, it was one of the randomest, funnest (I realise neither of these are strictly words) couple of months of my life, and an invaluable learning experience. No, I would not say I have ‘found myself’ or ‘learnt the meaning of life’ (which is 42, something everyone should know) or decided to move to the States. Sure, I would 100% visit again, consider it for further study, maybe give it another try – whatever. But I am not a full convert. I am, however, a solo travel convert.

This is a list of a few things I did learn:

  • Walking is an essential part of exploring new places. Now, this is not my first rodeo, I already know this from various other trips, but it is that essential I felt it needed to go on the list.
  • Public Transport in the States is not as bad as a lot of people like to imagine it. Yeah, the Greyhound is always late (but is not as dangerous as people seem to think it is), some places it is not the most reliable service ever, but it is mostly pretty cheap. Apart from San Francisco.
  • You would think the free wifi would be amazing in the U.S. – it is not. The best option is to stand near a Starbucks. They have good wifi that you can usually connect to from across the street.
  • Believe in the kindness of humanity. People do want to help you out, or even just make a new friend. So reach out. Interact. Ask advice. Obviously be sensible about it though. Constant vigilance.
  • Food can be a massive pain. Everywhere you go, the advertised price is not the actual price – for some reason the tax is not included. For the record, I think this is stupid. Also, in restaurants and bars you HAVE TO pay 20% tip. The only loophole to this is counter service (think Dunkin Donuts or Chipotle) where you do not have to!
  • On this note, Trader Joe’s is probably the cheapest place to buy healthy food. I love that place.
  • Google Maps is a godsend. But kind of reliant on wifi.
  • Always carry a student ID. You never know where there will be student discounts on offer.
  • Final One: look confident. If you look like you know what you are doing, people kind of assume you actually do. Make lists, plan your day – get the most out of everything. Also, for me, this entailed wearing my glasses all the time. Sight is kind of useful when try to navigate new places/you know, see.

Overall, I have to say, I had a brilliant trip. There is very little I would change – aside from maybe a tad more research or going for longer.

All I know is, solo travel is awesome! I cannot wait until the next trip. I know I want to see more of California, make it up to Seattle, maybe explore a bit more of the Midwest, definitely visit Tijuana. But who knows. No idea where my travels will take me, but I hope to keep you posted.

For now, I plan to enjoy exploring my new city of Bristol. Get myself settled in my new job. Oh, and head to Bestival next weekend. Cannot wait!

Hopefully speak very soon,

– M x


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