Well, I'm home from New York. It was nice to be able to run away from most of my life for three weeks, and connect with my friends who I haven't seen in forEVER. (Most in FOUR YEARS—holy crabcakes!) I feel sufficiently decompressed and ready to go back to work.
It wasn't lost on me how fortunate I was to be able to take such a long time off. I'm very lucky that I was able to set up my life in such a way that heading out wasn't really a huge deal.
If you're also a relative vacation n00b (as I was before this trip) here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to head out on a longer trip.
++TIPS FOR GETTING SET TO JET ++
1. Make a budget, then add wiggle room.
I met my friend Regina for a late dinner in Brooklyn one night, and ended up taking the bus home. It was on this bus trip that I lost my metrocard. I'd been buying 7 day unlimited cards, and had just bought the last one of the three I'd need, and then lost it. I was so mad at myself! There went another $32 that I hadn't planned on spending.
Even though I'd written down every purchase to make sure I was doing alright with my money, I hadn't planned for metrocard incidents. My budget was really conservative, and realistically it shouldn't have been.
When making your travel budget, set aside a little money on top of what you expect to spend for unforeseeable things. Unexpected randomness comes up, and it's good to have a little extra funding set aside for such things.
2. Pack light—seriously.
Did I need my Doc Martens on this trip? Probably not. Did I need two weeks worth of clothing for a three week trip? Probably not. Did I need my Blondie tote when everything fit in my purse and suitcase? Probably not.
Think about where you're going, and how hard maneuvering around that place is going to be. I was very fortunate that my friend let me keep my suitcase at her apartment and let me carry all my necessities in a borrowed tote while I was staying around town. When I sat and thought about it, I didn't even really need anything that wouldn't have fit in a tote in the first place.
Realistically: will it be a pain in the ass to haul around a big-ass suitcase everywhere with you? Are you going to be on the move a lot, or have one home base the entire time you're gone?
What's going to stress you out the least?
Make sure you have a little extra room available for stuff you may collect on your travels. I got a neat birthday present for Hannah, and an amazing mug from Fishs Eddy while I was out. It was nice not to have to shove them into nooks and crannys, then pray if they'd make it home in one piece.
3. Plan what you can, and be open to change.
I had zero plan for this trip when I left. I figured out who I was staying with when I got to the city, and made sure I had all of my meds packed.
Throughout my gallivants, I:
- Had two really horrific low blood sugar episodes.
- Fell down the subway stairs and almost broke my ankle.
- Had to put up a facebook status asking to crash with whoever had space available.
- Ran into Aziz Ansari at Washington Square Park.
Because I hadn't really figured anything out before I left, I ended up staying with five different people while I was gone. My plan was to take each host out to dinner at least once, but I hadn't figured I'd be staying with that many people!
Thinking about what I was going to do as I was doing it was really stressful. I'm not saying you need to make an excel sheet travel itinerary, but at least go into things with a basic plan that allows flexibility.
The last day I was in town, I planned on going back to the Met, and maybe hitting up Belvedere Castle before packing up and heading home. I ended up getting distracted by the Central Park Dance Skaters, and spent my afternoon with them instead. It was awesome!
I'm happy to be home, but I miss New York already. Now to fight off the urge to run back!
Here are a few snaps of my last couple of days in NYC.