Tag Archives: budget travel

13 Signs I’m Totally Becoming a New Yorker

the donut we chased for

the donut we chased for

New York is changing me. I’m paying more for regular things, getting jaded by the everything that exists here, and being ruder to strangers and kinder to friends.

Just today, I did things I would have thought unfathomable five days ago. Perhaps you want to know what they are? Well you’re in luck, because I outlined them below. You can tell  I’m turning into a New Yorker because:

1. Paid three dollars for a regular cup of coffee (it wasn’t even a pour over), and then an hour later paid another three dollars for another regular cup of coffee at the same place. No free refills.

2. Traveled thirty minutes via subway to see a graveyard, only to find the gate closed and the only entrance very far away. So I turned around to walk in a park for twenty minutes before heading back thirty minutes to where I came from. Essentially I trekked for an hour just to see a clump of trees.

3. Ate dinner, then went on a crazed car ride fifteen minutes through traffic across Brooklyn to eat a donut from a place called Dough before it closed at 9. The donut was actually fairly incredible but I’d never traveled so far or so urgently for dessert. But in New York, no desire is too ridiculous to be satisfied.

4. Paid twice as much to have my laundry washed and folded for me. When the woman tried to charge me two bucks extra, I called her out on it and got my two bucks back like a real New Yorker. Then I bought an ice cream sandwich.

5. Wore a tank top.

6. Took a nap sitting up.  No time to lay down in New York.

7. Successfully gave directions to two different people. Apparently everyone else also just got into town a couple days ago.

8. Searched on Yelp for coffee shops near me and was like, “Really, only 8 places within four blocks? So I’m pretty much in a coffee desert.”

9. Searched on Yelp for ice cream places near me and was like, “Really, only 7 places within a mile? Only 7 different artisan ice cream places? How the heck am I supposed to choose something if there are no options? I need options, people!”

10. Ran through a warehouse district and remarked on how pleasant it was because there were less people there.

11. Thought about going to Manhattan, then realized it was practically a lifetime away and opted to stay in Brooklyn.

12. Thought about trying out half-shirts and buying a hat.

13. Rolled my eyes at vintage stores in Williamsburg. Those are so overplayed.

14. Think I’m so New York.

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Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Cushioned Lawn Chair

Cushioned lawn chairs.

Cushioned lawn chairs.

I have been there. I have seen the nation’s Capitol. I have walked the red, white, and blue pathways between trees and gardens and courtyards and hotdog stands and even more trees and tourists wearing tennis shoes and little dogs and bigger dogs and barricades and motorcades and esplanades and ice cream trucks.

I have sheltered myself from the hideous rays of the sun, cursed myself for wearing black skinny jeans and a grey shirt that shows sweat faster than I can produce it, and talked to my mom on the phone in the National Gallery after seeing masterpieces by Monet, Manet and other people that I can’t remember.

Yes, I have seen the glory. Yes, I have seen the power. Yes, I have seen stacks on stacks of marble buildings sandwiched between lawns that know no end. Yes, I have seen the irony in buildings dedicated to populations we have decimated and yes I have seen the waves of government workers in their slacks and white shirts and polished shoes going to do the will of a people that has forgotten to vote.

Seek, they say, and you shall find. Go, they say, and you will arrive. I tell you this, that I sought treasure and I have found it. I went to find destiny and I have found it.

In the courtyard in front of the U.S. Botanical Gardens there is a bounty beyond worth to a weary traveler, something so delectable and holy that only a few know about it or experience it.

It is cushioned lawn furniture, and it is heaven. This is not just a park bench. This is not merely a wooden chair. Nay, my friend. This is a park bench and a chair with a thick green cushion on it, free for anyone to sit and rest on for as long as they like and contemplate the likeness of President Garfield, who was assassinated not very far from the spot.

To one used to the concrete wastelands of San Francisco, the idea of a public, cushioned park bench is almost as loony as free coffee at a physical library. For this is not a world of free lunches, free back scratches, or free cushions. Unless, of course, they’ve already been paid for through taxes.

I wish I could comment on the brilliance of a Degas that I saw today, or perhaps the strange nature of travel and how it both brings you closer to people yet also distances you from them. Instead, I can only think – nay, I can only dream – of the lawn furniture at the U.S. Botanical Gardens. Such plushness. Such wonder. Such glory. Amen.

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The People You Meet and / or Avoid on the Greyhound



The woman rigidly sitting upright wearing dark glasses. She mutters continuously while staring straight ahead and has long straw-like yellow hair and a basket covered in a trash bag.

The man who stands in the glass doorway with his arms inside his sleeves and his hands down his pants.

The man with growths all over his body and a woman too wide in the ass region to step through a door without turning sideways. She yells at him and asks him lots of questions, almost like she’s quizzing him.

The woman that sat next to me and looked like a raisin. She said she’d been on the bus for four days coming back from Tampa to visit her mother who was 99 and dying. Terrible cough, delirious with sleep deprivation, fingernails long and textured, and a terrible itch on her left wrist that she would scratch for minutes on end, her dry skin rasping and flakes that would fly off and cover her purse, which she would then scratch/brush onto the ground. Yum. A nice person, though.

The young male hippie with a small backpack, no cell phone, and stringy hair.

The Australian woman traveling with Apple products.

The chatty Kentuckian with two tattoos with two different men’s names and a vaporizer that she’s passionate about who eats an entire Cinnabon then complains that her stomach is hurting.

The man who can’t get his change out of the Greyhound ticket machine and threatens to come in and run it over if he doesn’t get his money back.

The bus driver who likes to be called Todd and not bus driver.

The man with a laptop sitting in front of me who battled Greyhound wi-fi for the entire ride from Greenville to Charlotte.

Everyone else (like me) just trying to get from point A to point B.

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How to Sleep on the Megabus: A User’s Guide for Success



A successful bus nap starts before you get on board. Prior to your trip, do whatever you can to make sure you are completely exhausted. This could include over-exercising, getting 20% of your normal night’s sleep the night before, or skipping bedtime altogether.

Once you’re exhausted and grumpy, you’re ready to board the bus. Be one of the first ones on board so you have first pick of the bus seats. An easy way to get ahead is by limiting the amount of baggage you bring with you. This goes for both personal and physical baggage.

Next, use all manner of lies, deception, and flat out rudeness to make sure no one sits by you. Putting your backpack on the seat next to you and then pretending to fall asleep is a good place to start. Stretching out your legs, sporting a Mad-Eye Moody eye patch, and wearing a bloody bearskin can also limit the number of people who will want to sit next to you. WARNING: some people respond positively to these kinds of signals and might actually be drawn to you. Watch out.

Having secured both seats to yourself, pull out your pillow, recline your seat, rest your head against the window, and fall asleep. Just kidding. Your work is only beginning.

Most likely you’ve forgotten or do not have a pillow. In that case, pull out the towel you have in your backpack and use in lieu of a pillow. In the unlikely case you’ve forgotten your towel at the home of your friend where you were staying or for some reason can’t find it in your backpack in your sleep-deprived stupor, pull out your running pants to use instead.

You’ve also noticed by now that it’s very cold on the bus. Not to worry, you can just use your towel. Unfortunately, you forgot your towel, so you’ll need to pull out your blue fleece leggings that you wear as pajamas, and pull them over your arms. This will be the best you can do.

For the next three hours, writhe in various positions across the two seats until you find something that seems like it might be comfortable for a couple of minutes and then kind of fall asleep until your leg or arm goes numb or you can’t bear the pain in your neck any longer.

Aggressively attempt to stay asleep until you reach your destination. Then, “wake up” and marvel at what a world you’ve arrived to. Of course, you’re more tired than you were before you got on the bus, the only difference being the bus taste in your mouth and a thin film of grease on your face.

Enjoy the rest of your day!

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13 Things You Can Count on While Roadtripping from Chicago to Nashville

imageLife is confusing. Sometimes you don’t know where to go or what decisions to make. Very frequently, it’s impossible to foresee the outcome of certain paths or situations, and you live in the fog of the unknown. Thank goodness there are some things in life that we can count on, like these things that are guaranteed to happen on the drive from Chicago to Nashville.

1. There will always be a Cracker Barrel every 10 miles. If you’re ever uncertain of where you should exit to get to the nearest one, go ahead and exit. There’s probably one close to you.

2. In these Cracker Barrels, there will absolutely be women named Jean and Barb wearing jeans that go above their belly button with hair dos that the coasts haven’t seen for at least a century, if ever.

3. You will stop and eat at a Cracker Barrel, be really excited about going to an old favorite place, and then realize that it’s actually a little overpriced and not that good. Also, you’ll eat too much.

4. You will enter gas station shopping centers that are complete with clothing options, 24 hour dining, a casino, an arcade and convenience food options. The only thing missing is an apartment complex to attach to it.

5. You will see billboards that say things like “Hell is Real,” or “One Day You Will Meet Thy God,” which will make you wonder who is paying for this and shouldn’t they change their marketing strategy just a little bit. I mean, if I walked up to someone who didn’t believe in Santa Claus and told her that Santa was going to give her 1 million dollars if she filled out an online form, do you think she’d do it? Or would she call the police because there was a stranger hiding in her closet. Exactly.

6. Cars will also start to get preachy, with decals and entire paintings displaying ardor for the Christ.

7. Roadside attractions, like the World’s Most Awesome Flea Market and Dinosaur land, will tempt you from the side of the road. You’ll always wonder what would have happened if you’d taken the leap and exited.

8. You will eat too many snacks in the car and feel a little guilty about it but not really. I mean, what else are you going to do.

9. You will take tons of photos and maybe even videos on the trip that are ultimately unusable.

10. At some point, you will either get lost or notice you have a huge zit on your face.

11. You will keep on waiting for the countryside to change but nothing really happens except Tennessee is a little bit hillier than Indiana.

12. You will realize that you actually didn’t have a very good idea of where Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, and Illinois were in relation to one another.

13. You will decide you need to pack up and move to the countryside where life moves a little bit slower

14. You will almost instantly decide that that’s a terrible idea and you’d rather eat your own cardigan than move to the countryside.

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