Brooklyn gal takes a solo jaunt across the Southwest United States
Somewhere in Arizona
My main methods of transportation were a combination of Greyhound, Megabus, and flights. To take the trip without a car was freeing, as car troubles weren’t in my sphere of reality. Public transportation was probably far less expensive than insurance, a car rental, and gas for four weeks. In most cities I had friends who graciously drove me around showed me the sights. When I was on my own, I relied on bikes, public transportation, and a lot of walking.
Living I was just a girl on the road, and could have been your sister’s best friend, or your neighbor down the street making the same trip. I made it that far as bare bones as possible, flying here and there, and taking buses, couchsurfing, and staying with friends. I wasn't a “fashion blogger” on an expense paid vacation and I didn’t get special treatment. Part of the reason I went on this trip was to test myself in different situations and see how I’d make out. Another reason was to experience a change of scenery and get inspired.
It took me a while to write about my trip, and though I've got dozens of stories from those sunny asphalt days, I needed a moment to process everything after I got back. I met a healer on the bus from Albuquerque to Dallas, and I wonder what he's up to now. One night in downtown L.A I ended up leaving my friend at the bar to go outside and smoke cigarettes and drink beer with a homeless man who had an incredible life story and who is also apparently was friends with Ryan Gosling. My friends played a show in Austin and they invited me to come along in their road van as we all traveled to our next destination together. Some of these stories, and maybe others, will get their own thought and will be written down at some point. Right about now, I'm more happy that I went on this adventure, and I’m feeling like a damn champion.
Following At the end of my tour, a sense of accomplishment and pride washed over me knowing I had come back alive from a whirlwind trip. 5 states, 16 cities, and 28 days later, I found myself back in Brooklyn with tired bones, and lessons learned.
Originally I was working on a print black and white zine with all my photos unpublished to this blog, and the short stories I had written. My Macbook suffered an unfortunate fate when beer spilled all over it. All my work destroyed and gone, I decided to share what I had left in this post. I hope you enjoyed reading about my crack-brained operation the past few months. Click to see the entire "On the Road" series.
Future I've resolved that I will travel more, at every opportunity. Any time I don't have to be in attendance at college for a length of time, you'll find me far away from NYC. At the very least, I want more long weekends in local cities like Philly, Boston, and Baltimore. My friend Isabelle said it best:
"Most people say that home is where the heart is, but mine never stands still.
Kerouac In case you're wondering, I've never read Kerouac's work, On the Road. I picked it up once when I was younger, but got bored in the first twenty pages or so, and never came back to it. I know it's been criticized for not being "writing," but rather just "typing," but I hold no snobbish views toward his novel. Now that I'm older, and have completed my own journey, I may be able to find something in it that wasn't there for me when I tried before.
2. You will lose your shit. As in, some of your physical belongings, and also your mind at times. Stay calm, and don’t let any negative instances affect the rest of your trip. The important thing to remember is there are still miles still yet to go, and only you can make or break your trip.
San Leandro, California
4. You are responsible for yourself. At the end of the day, you are solely in charge of your actions and the situations you put yourself in. Be smart and be safe.
5. Ride Greyhound with caution. Keep an eye on your belongings, and make sure you tuck away all your valuables if you decide to nap. Ask the bus driver or other employees for directions or help if you need it. However, make sure you have your information sorted out just in case, because they tend not to be so helpful.
Los Angeles, California
6. Be conservative with your money. Just in case of an emergency, you’ll feel better about being able to cover yourself rather than having to call friends or family for help.
7. Give a trusted friend or relatives the details. Leave all your detailed travel information, including addresses, departure and arrival times, and phone numbers with a roommate, significant other, and your parents. It will put them at ease to know where you are, even if you can't get in touch.
8. Stick to dive bars. They are the best way to drink in a new city. There will usually be happy hours, and I once paid $30 for ten drinks (not all for myself) in Texas! Plus, a jukebox and pool table are always a plus, and you will probably be surrounded by more locals than tourists.
9. Keep paper copies. Make extra copies of your boarding passes and travel information, including copies of your passport/ID just in case you run out of a charge on your mobile/laptop. Keep all of the information in a ziploc or waterproof bag!
San Francisco, California
11. Drink water. No seriously, you'll die without it. Between flying and travel on bus, your body will get dehydrated. You'll probably bring the hangover you woke up with in San Diego to Phoenix, and so on and so forth. Nothing is worse than traveling while down in the ditches. Plenty of H20 should keep you feeling great.
12. Keep an eye on your belongings at all times. I know I sound like an MTA operator, but I lost my Canon DSLR while I was out in Los Angeles. Thankfully I was proactive and made flyers, and a stranger returned it the same day. In most cases, you might not be so lucky.
13. Don't be overwhelmed by the fear of missing out. You'll burn yourself out quickly if you try to experience it all, especially if you have a short time in a city. I spent exactly 10 hours in San Diego, 20 in Denver, and 23 in Dallas. If you're wiped out, take those days to recharge and refresh, and have a nice and relaxing dinner. Your body and mind will thank you.
14. You WILL overpack. Only travel with a carry-on bag. I brought too much stuff with me and ended up shipping back boxes of clothing and souvenirs because I bought so much on the road. You can always borrow your friend's clothing, or stop by a local Buffalo Exchange to trade your stuff in for some new digs. It's also a huge plus to be able to leave the airport or bus depot without having to wait for a checked bag, or the possibility of loss or theft.
15. Bring a film camera or several disposables. Sure, you'll be taking lots of phone pictures and maybe even lugging a digital camera, but the surprise of what you've captured on film will bring back many memories from your trip. Not to mention, you can throw your prints into a shoebox and keep them forever! Because who really prints digital photos anyway?
16. Eat well. It may not be possible in all situations, but try and seek out balanced meals. Only you know what's best for your body, so pay attention and keep yourself healthy and strong.
17. Avoid getting ill while traveling. Don't push yourself beyond what your body can handle. One night of fun isn't worth being sick for a week. In Los Angeles, I was under the weather for a few days because of reckless behavior on a warm winter night. The following days required tea, sleep, and laying in bed while the Arts District (and Skid Row) lay bustling outside. Boring.
Long Beach, California
18. Never trust strangers. EVER.
19. Leave "thank you" notes. Even if you're late to catch a flight and all you have is a dirty liquor store receipt in your pocket, just say "thanks" and write with your blood. It means much more than you think. I also left polaroids for all the awesome people that let me stay with them.
20. Once back to home base, let everyone know you've arrived safely. Then you can rest your limbs and sleep for five days straight.
The Superstitions, Arizona
Long Beach, California
Flying over New Mexico
Rio Ranco, New Mexico
BART Train near Oakland, California
Albuquerque, New Mexico
If you have any questions I'd be happy to answer them in comments, or via email. Similarly, if you have thoughts on travel you'd like to share, feel free!
This post is dedicated to all of my hosts and friends who helped me in times of joy and grief during my trip. Special thanks to Tony & Elise, Aneesah, Adan, Adam and his family, Dillan, Steven, Allessandro, Jasmin, Samantha, Nick and Lindsey, Gurjinder and his family, Hardeep, and Filligar.