Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Traveling on a Whim? No. Not At All

Someone recently said to me something about how I "travel by the seat of my pants..."

"Fly by the seat of your pants” is used to describe how someone makes decisions. The expression means making decisions as you go, not having a plan."

Yeah. That's not me. At all.

Folks think I travel on whims and no plans.
Sometimes I do, but I usually have back-up plans for the "no plan plans."
Truthfully, I'm not that adventerous.

I might get around a lot...

But, in practice, I'm a planner. A hard-core planner.
I plan ahead so I can make "whim decisions" later.

I'd like to show you some of the preparations I've taken just for the next couple months on the road. This does not even include my trip to Russia (which I truly am not prepared for).

For months, I've been working on a Google Document (I'd link to it but it's filled with the personal infomration of other folks). Within that document I've sketched out over 30 different routes and plans I could take to get to New York City from Seattle by the 17th of April. I've summerized pages of hitchhiking laws in 14 different states and made lists of unperishable foods I can take on a train for a few days. I've written down the nights of the different dances. It has the names and address of folks to see. Finally, in these last days I've gotten to edit it all down to the true spine of my trip - the costs of weekly transit passes and my schedule.

Then I have my physical binder:

There is a folder for the train ride and each city I'll be stoppng in.

Open up the binder to the first page and it's spreadsheet of the most important contacts. It includes their couch availability, if I need a sleeping bag, their address and phone number, and the nearest major city near by.

It was created by making a form on Google that I sent to them. They filled it out and Google put the data into a spreadsheet on GoogleDocs.

Within each city-section, I have my ticket/reservation, maps, and information. Since I don't have a "smart phone," I have to be able to figure this out on my own. There ought to be information stands and maps available, but it gives me a peace of mind to have access to it now.

Then there are the directions (Sorry earth!! I promise I'll recycle this all in the end). If I know I'm going between two events in a day, walking directions are there. I'll be taking my scooter with me to help get around. I've got it figured out how to get to the local co-ops to buy my oats and Trader Joe's for onions. I haven't yet identified the libraries...

 I don't have a huge agenda for each town. Not sure what I'll do. But, to make sure I do get around, I printed out some walking tours that I can take. I like those. They're free and they show me stuff. I get to wander outside and I can make it as short or long as I like. I'm open to hanging out with my friends but also am prepared to take care of myself.

I also have a budget. I'm just going to be open about the dollars, here, and what I plan on spending.

My budget for this trip is $1000 for everything (that is the equivilant of a 70 hour work week in Haines, which I had many of). That comes to about $30 a day since I'll be in transit for 33 days. I'll cover around 4,480 miles. I'll see 16 or so states and 1 territory. I'll be spending time in six cities.

I've been living on a tight budget so, when I do travel, I can afford to do things like eat and not stress out about finances.

The cost for major transit (for trips between cities) is $385. That's about 8 cents a mile. I offset my carbon footprint here.

The cost of transportation within the cities (a weekly bus pass for each city) of Washington D.C., New York, and Boston is a collective $64.

This leaves around $550 to cover food and the costs of "entertainment." That comes out to a little under $19 a day which isn't a whole lot, but more than enough.

My budget for each city looks like this:
Washington D.C. - $130 (includes travel food to Boston)
Boston - $115 (includes travel food to Rochester)
Portland - $20
Rochester - $25
Toronto - $70
New York - $190

This doesn't mean I have to spend that much. My goal will be not to spend that much. But, I won't be beating myself up if I do reach the limit for that town. I might live super frugal one day so I can splurge on something the next (a Segway tour in D.C. is $75). $20, in reality, won't give me much to work with, but it's a realistic obtainable goal if I make Hannah (my name for Mujadarrah) and eat that for one meal a day (I like it with hummus and greens) and oats for another, leaving just one meal to figure out.

My agenda is starting to get filled out with names of the folks I'm staying with. I'm currently focusing on locking down the first night in each town. After that, I'm good to go.

So that, folks, is how I travel.

I don't "fly by the seat of my pants" because you can't really do that with no car, a limited budget, and no smart phone or GPS. I need to know in advance what will happen.

I spend hours and hours putting it all together. For me, this is just another form of dreaming. I genuinely enjoy the process and it's always been worth it in the end.
(and sometimes I just go places with no plans at all...)


  1. Awwww, when I see 'Boston', I feel the need to teleport there immediately... Good luck and have fun all the way ^^

  2. I'm blown away by your planning Magi! I'm definitely going to come back to this the next time I plan a big trip.

  3. I totally appreciate how you plan ahead. When I did my three week trip across the country, I did have a car but otherwise everything was similarly planned out. Planning ahead makes it so much easier to choose to do things on a whim and still know how to take care of my own needs.

  4. Wow! You cannot fail! My travel role model<3


Your words make me grin.

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