delirium happy

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Holiday planning
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People in America have a tendency to nag at me to go visit them. I have always ummed and ahed at such offers, making vague statements about how yes maybe I will do at some point, but never actually doing so. There have been two main reasons for this:

1. My general mental health. If I can't stand to be around people for more than three minutes at a time before wanting to hole up in my bedroom and assume the foetal position, then being on the other side of the Atlantic from my bedroom is possibly not the best of ideas.

2. Having a passport that has an F on it when I looked more like an M. In all probability, this wouldn't have been a problem, but I have been paranoid about it. In my mind, all it would take would be one turd of a security guard to make life really unpleasant for me, in numerous ways.

A while ago, when I was thinking to myself "come on Walmsley you great muppet, sort your life out already" I subverted these fears to use as a carrot. I decided that when I had got my life to the point where I was capable of being around people without having a nervous breakdown, and wasn't endlessly paranoid about my appearance, that I should reward myself with a trip abroad.

As such, when it was suggested that I should visit the USA most recently, I was reminded of this, and my reaction was along the lines of "actually, that's a jolly good idea".

My basic idea is that I will try to make a proper trip of it, spending a couple of months over there, seeing as many things and doing as many people as I can. Just going to visit one person for a couple of weeks or so may be a saner option, but one long trip seems more economically sound than several short trips.

I already have offers of places to stay in Massachusetts and in Oregon. good job people, way to live as far apart as possible. There's also at least one other person who I suspect will hit me with sticks to visit and then never forgive me if I don't, who is also in Massachusetts.

My original thought was that I would fly from here to somewhere on the west coast – probably San Francisco – then head to Oregon and make my base of operations with my friend for a couple of weeks or so. I would then travel overland to the east coast (Oregonian friend has suggested the possibility of her chauffeuring me the first part of the way), hopefully finding various people to visit and crash with along the way, before collapsing in Massachusetts for a couple of weeks or so. I would then fly back home, possibly after another, shorter, overland trip part of the way down the east coast.

After further consideration, I'm not certain that this will be the best way of working things, for two reasons.

1. I'm thinking I'd probably want to go around early to mid September, since plane tickets then are about a zillion times cheaper than if I try to go in summer. If I'm staying over there for two months, that means staying until early to mid November, and I know that New England gets cold during the winter, whereas I think Oregon is much milder.

2. The flight from here to SF would suck balls. For one thing, I'd be on a plane for about 15 hours or something. For another, direct flights aren't really an option. I could fly direct from Heathrow to San Francisco but it would cost significantly more than two connecting flights, and Heathrow is also much less convenient for me to fly from than Manchester. (Going to SEA or LAX wouldn't be any better than going to SFO, before anyone suggests them.)

Since most of the flights that I checked seemed to want me to change in Philadelphia anyway, I figured why not do it that way. That is: fly into Boston, potter around on the east coast for a bit, fly over to the west coast, potter around there for a bit, then go on a bit of a road trip that need not necessarily get me all the way back to the east coast (but would have to be planned beforehand, obviously) and the fly back home.

So questions:

1. What am I missing? I'm sure there must be numerous things that I've not considered. Enlighten me. Help me plan.
2. Who would want to see me? And who would be able to offer me a bed for a night, or longer?

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Sure I'd like to see you, if you're over in the SF area. I can offer a couch for whenever, but I'm an hour or two out from the city by train (and there's nothing interesting around where I live, either), so it's not terribly convenient.

Yay trip!

One thing that I'd like to recommend is for US plane flights, Southwest is generally good and cheap (although sometimes there are a few stops on the way, so if you prefer nonstops it's not the one for you.) I've heard lovely wonderful things about Virgin America's planes but I haven't used them as they're just getting started and only service a few cities. Might be worth looking into though.

As for other travel advice, pack light if you can. Personally I don't like to check baggage at all (since you get two carryons, essentially: a small suitcase and a "laptop bag" which in my case always holds more than a laptop (usually books and the 1-qt bag of fluids and such)).

A road trip sounds neat; I'm guessing you'd be renting a car for that, right?

A road trip sounds neat; I'm guessing you'd be renting a car for that, right?

Actually, no. I don't drive. I'd get driven by my Oregonian host as far as she could take me (which would depend on, eg, how long she could get off work) and then if I wanted/needed to go further use Amtrak/Greyhoud.

Yeah, no. A road trip across the U.S., straight across, takes roughly 35-40 hours. You'd do better to book creative airplane flights. The only place we have decent train service to link cities (as opposed to get around them and into them) is here in the Northeast between D.C. and Boston. You should thoroughly research where you're going to find your folks, and then fly between those destinations.

You forgot if you have anyone in the Midwest — Chicago or Minneapolis — that you want to meet up wwith.

I agree with Jess here: I think that a road trip is likely to be hell. Even driving, it's quite difficult -- Amtrak could be *decent*, but the price seems to me like it would be killer. I think you'd find it a lot cheaper to fly from Oregon to Chicago than training it -- our rail system here isn't like it is in the UK, as I understand it, where train is actually a reasonable travel option.

Greyhound would be cheap enough, but there's a reason for that -- you don't want to spend any longer traveling by bus than you have to.

Even traveling by car is painful: Montana alone is a 7-10 hour car drive, and there's unlikely to be anyone you would care to see there. If you went further south, and had lots of time (say, two weeks?) I guess you could make it a useful trip through the National Parks system in Colorado/Wyoming, which *I* would find interesting, but doesn't seem likely to really be your bag, and the trip back from the West or Midwest to Oregon seems likely to be painful for your friend unless you bring at least one, and possibly two, other drivers with you.

In other words, my advice is: Skip the drive/train, and fly. It'll be cheaper, faster, and (largely as a result of the previous two) more comfortable/happy making in general, unless you have a *lot* of one-off stops in the middle of the country that you care about making.

In my experience, the US is huge in a way that most Europeans (including myself) don't fully comprehend, hence the occasional European contemplating a road trip.

(Not to mention that in my experience, Usonians appear to tolerate much longer road trips than Europeans -- they might think little of travelling for three hours to visit someone, whereas that's not a trip I'd undertake at the drop of a hat.)

I typically put this as "In Europe, 100 miles is a long way. In the US, 100 years is a long time."

Heh!

Yes, that fits fairly well.

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