10 Tips for Traveling by Yourself

10tipsfortravelingbyyourself

 

  1. Research where you are going.  You can usually find out the neighborhoods to avoid and which ones you don’t want to miss.  There is so much information out there.  Google and Tripadvisor are both good places to start your research.
  2. The Google Maps app is invaluable.  It helps to make you look like less of a tourist.  If you start pulling out a map every time you turn a corner or go a few blocks anyone watching could see that you don’t know where you are but if you are just looking at your phone for all they know you could have just gotten a text or were checking the weather.
  3. If you have a condition that requires medication make sure to have a couple of copies of your medication list along with your doctors information and other emergency contact information.  Put one in your wallet/purse and another in your luggage at your hotel.
  4. Leave a copy of your documentation (itinerary, reservations, tickets, confirmation numbers, passport, driver’s license, etc.) at home with someone you trust.
  5. Make sure to have a hard copy of phone numbers.  What if your phone goes dead and you have to buy a new one?  What if you lose it?  Anything can happen and it is nice to have those numbers handy.
  6. Have a plan for each day but don’t get upset if you can’t do it all.  Also, make sure to have some alternatives in case something doesn’t pan out.  Weather can change, tours can be canceled, there could be unscheduled construction in a building you might want to see.  You never know what will happen so it is nice to have a back up plan just in case.
  7. Skype or Face Time with loved ones.  This helps keep any homesickness at bay.
  8. Take an umbrella and (at least) a light jacket with you.  Weather can be unpredictable…why be miserable?
  9. Keep everything organized in a folder.  I use a 5 Star pocket and prong folder that is water resistant and very sturdy.  I put everything (reservation confirmations, booking numbers, tickets, etc.) in sheet protectors with extra sheet protectors in the back.  I keep it organized by putting everything in order as I come to it on my vacation.  I keep extra sheet protectors in the back to keep up with receipts, brochures, used tickets and small mementoes.
  10. Always be aware of your surroundings.  This is pretty much common sense but on occasion anyone can get distracted and not focus on what is going on around them.

 

I hope these tips help you if you’re traveling by yourself or even with someone!

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The North Face Women’s Recon Backpack

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After my trip to NYC I felt like I needed a good travel backpack.  I had taken a tote as my personal item on the plane and I had worn a crossbody through the city but I wasn’t really ecstatic about either choice.  With the tote I had my hands free but it pulled my body to one side and that was uncomfortable.  The crossbody was fine for a little while but then it began digging into my shoulder and my neck, especially when I added anything to it.  It rode up and rubbed and it was very uncomfortable by the last day.  It just won’t work for any more trips.

I have a good sized hiking pack by Osprey but it isn’t carryon friendly, not to mention who wants to take a hiking pack to the city?  You would really stand out and not in a good way.

I did some research and I found The North Face Women’s Recon Backpack.  It looked like it had good organization but wasn’t overly huge and I love the orange color.  I love that it has a place for my laptop and tablet as well as a place for water bottles.  I think this will work out well no matter where I want to travel.

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NYC Part 4 – April 6th – Coming Home

I woke up around 4;30AM.  I got ready and packed the remaining things and waited for my driver to call.  At 5:30AM he called to let me know he was downstairs.

When I arrived at the airport I went through security and found a McDonalds so I could get some oatmeal and a smoothie.  I had to walk a ways to my gate but it was easy to find.  I have to say, I was surprised at how nice the employees and TSA agents were at JFK.  That certainly doesn’t happen at a lot of airports.  (Well, except the small regional airport closest to my home.  They are awesome!  I’ve always had a good experience there!  Even when I’m “randomly selected” for further inspection…haha)

My first flight was very crowded but for the most part very smooth.  I had an aisle seat so no pictures of the clouds or city.

When I got to Atlanta I had to find my gate because it wasn’t on my ticket.  It was pretty close to the gate I came in on so no big deal.  I had a layover of a couple of hours.  I mostly just read.  This flight was, for the most part, full but it didn’t seem to be as crowded as the last.  I watched episodes of Blue Bloods all the way home.  (I think Tom Selleck was my first crush ever, btw.  Gotta love that stache.)   I didn’t even know we were that close until we touched down.

I was so happy to see this face!  (And I was happy to see Jason too!!!)

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I think it was hard for him to believe I was really back!  LOL  He would smile and then he would just sit and stare at me!

We had dinner at Mellow Mushroom and he stayed just as close to me as he could.  He was constantly touching me and wanting me to color with him.  “Memmy” he would say.  So sweet!

I had a great time but there is not better feeling than coming home!

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NYC Part 3 – April 5th

Sunday  I woke up and ate a granola bar and drank some water for breakfast.

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I was feeling so ready to see as much as I could!

I caught a cab to The American Museum of Natural History.

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This place is so big!  I could only do the first two floors.  My legs were still tired from the day before and after two floors of this and the amount of walking I still wanted to do I knew I had better stop there.

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There’s something creepy behind me, isn’t there?

 

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OMG…these bears though!

I would go through and post a bunch of other pictures of the museum but they just don’t do the exhibits justice.  Just go visit.  Seriously.  It will be better than any pictures anyone has ever taken there.  The dioramas are so good!  All of the exhibits are top notch.  If you’re a museum freak like me it is worth your time.  The next time I go to NYC I’ll probably go back just so I can see the two levels I had to miss.

After the museum I was starving but I didn’t want to eat too much.  I used the Central Park West exit (the same one I came in) and there were food trucks everywhere.  I picked one and grabbed a hot dog and a doctor pepper.  It was delicious!

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I ate on the go venturing just a little way into Central Park then back onto the sidewalk along Central Park West.

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I couldn’t resist a Central Park Selfie!

I saw some beautiful buildings and had fun people watching.

I also saw Trump International.

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This was the best picture I could get of it….c’est la vie…

There were horses and carriages everywhere doing Central Park carriage rides.

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I headed west in search of 5th Avenue.

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I found the Apple Store.

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And FAO Schwarz.

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I loved this camel at FAO!!!  I wish now I had gotten him for Rylan.

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Does anyone remember this giant keyboard from the movie “Big”?  I so wanted to play it but my legs were tired…and there was a line…aaaannnndddd it looked like only kids were doing it, so you know.

I ended up buying Rylan a Lego Race Car but failed to get a picture of it.  (Where’s my brain at y’all?)

I checked out Tiffany’s, Coach, Michael Kors, etc.  I didn’t find anything I wanted to buy but kept looking.  I guess I wasn’t really in a shopping mood.  I did make it to Madison Avenue and Park Avenue.  I looked around and then I decided to find Texas de Brazil (I had reservations for 4pm) and there was a candy store next door (Dylan’s Candy Bar).  Of course I had to go in and see what I could find.  I ended up with some chocolate covered espresso beans and several bags of loose candy.  I made it to my reservation on time.  I didn’t get any pictures of the food or the restaurant though.  I was so tired by this point I was ready to eat, relax and rest my mind.  I had smoked salmon, small salad with their delicious ranch dressing, filet, garlic mashed potatoes and fried bananas.  It was so good!  I sat and ate and people watched.

After leaving there I thought I might walk back over to 5th Avenue but I was just too tired.  I got probably halfway there and hailed a cab to go back to the hotel.

When I got there I started getting ready for my early flight.  I laid out everything I needed for in the morning.  I packed everything else that wasn’t needed and had it all organized and ready to go.  I double checked that I had my alarm set and I took a shower.  Then I piled up in the king sized bed, Skyped with Jason and Rylan for a while and then read until the premier of Mad Men.

Speaking of Mad Men…

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These were on the cabs everywhere.  I had to take a pic and send it to the Husband.

Oh, and a picture of Madison Avenue of course!

20150405_144334Jason and I texted while Mad Men was on (talking about the show) and then I was pretty much asleep right after it went off.

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NYC Part 2 – April 4th – My Birthday!

I woke up mostly refreshed and definitely ready to start my day!20150404_075714

I had breakfast via room service Saturday morning.  Orange juice, hot chocolate, Special K, banana and mini blueberry muffins.

20150404_090644How beautiful is this?

One World Trade Center “Freedom Tower” is one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen.  I hope to go to the observation deck next year.  It wasn’t open yet this time.

I visited the 9/11 Memorial and Museum first thing Saturday morning.  I knew going to NYC that this would take priority over anything else I may want to see or do.  This place was everything that I had hoped it would be.  I know I’m like many Americans (especially my generation) this was one of the most impactful things that has ever happened in my lifetime.  It changed the way I looked at the world, at life, at other people.  This memorial was exactly what it should have been.  I loved every part of it.  I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much in public.  People were so respectful.  It was quiet, somber but at the same time hopeful.

20150404_091115South Tower Reflecting Pool

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Some of the names that are along the edge of the pool.

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When you first enter this is the picture that you see.  It was taken from Brooklyn just before the attack.  Look at what a beautiful day it was.  It is sad to think about how many lives were destroyed just shortly after this picture was taken.  In this moment though, they were alive and well.

20150404_093158 As you walk down the first hallway, there are quotes projected on the columns and walls and there are recordings of people telling their stories of death, survival, being left behind.  It is so touching.

20150404_093853 They had projected missing posters on empty walls and columns.  They changed over and over.

20150404_094105The Survivor Staircase

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Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on the September Morning

Spencer Finch (American, b. 1962)
Watercolor on paper

It is composed of 2,983 individual watercolors representing the artist’s recollection of the sky on September 11, 2001.

To read more about Spencer Finch and Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on the September Morning  you can click HERE and HERE.

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Located on the same wall as the Spencer Finch piece is this plaque.  When I read this I had to read again just to make sure that what I read the first time was correct.  How heartbreaking.

There were two sections that didn’t permit photography (and I definitely understand why).

One was the room that was entitled In Memoriam.  It had all the pictures of every victim along the outside walls with certain personal effects along the inner wall.  In the center was a dimly lit room that had had a revolving name projected on wall, someone spoke the name, pictures were shown and if there was someone willing to speak about the person that was played too.  Some were sad stories of people learning of the loss, some were funny stories and others just talked about the type of person they were and how they would be missed.  I must have sat in here listening to the stories for 30 to 45 minutes.  I just couldn’t seem to get up and walk away.  It felt as though you really were getting to know them.

The other section was about the attacks (1993 and 2001).  This is such a sad

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People still leave flowers stuck into names along the reflecting pools.  Even with all the years that have passed the pain is still fresh here.  Hope and empathy are too.

I walked a little ways away from the Memorial/Museum and came upon the WTC Tribute Center.  This place has all kinds of first hand accounts of that day.  It has personal effects of people and personal stories.  I was able to hear a first hand account of survival from a woman named Maria.  Maria worked for the Port Authority which manages the WTC.  Her office was located there and she survived.  I won’t get into her story because it isn’t mine, it is hers, but I will tell you that her story was very powerful and I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to hear it.

20150404_134545After leaving the WTC Tribute Center I was on a mission for some food.  I had really worked up an appetite from all the walking (and crying like a baby).  I spotted a Burger King on the corner but I didn’t make it that far.  I smelled pizza and made a beeline for it.  I walked into Pronto Pizza and the smell was divine!  Their showcase with all their different pizzas made my mouth water and my brain go into overdrive with the choices available.  I went for good ol’ pepperoni though.  I was so hungry I didn’t feel like I had time to narrow down from all the choices.  I grabbed a coke too and headed back to my hotel room to put my feet up, rest and eat that wonderful pizza!  I ate every last fatty, greasy, delicious and bad for me bite!  It was so worth it!

After I rested I got a cab to the J.P. Morgan Library & Museum in Midtown.

20150404_151120A Certain Slant of Light

Spencer Finch (American, b. 1962)

To read more about Spencer Finch and A Certain Slant of Light click HERE.  20150404_151448J.P. Morgan’s portrait over the fireplace in the study.

20150404_151453Mr. Morgan’s desk in his study.

20150404_151506Stained glass in the study.

20150404_151929I could have spent forever in here!

20150404_152548The Gutenberg Bible at The Morgan.

20150404_152554I thought the details of the Gutenberg Bible were very interesting so I made sure to take a picture.

20150404_194813I got back to the hotel and ordered room service for supper.  I was just so exhausted from the day there was no way I could go out to eat.  I ordered their California Turkey BLT and a side salad.  It was so good!

I was able to Skype with Jason and Rylan before bed so that helped keep me from missing them to bad.  Rylan kept giving me kisses through the phone/camera.  It was so sweet!

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NYC Part 1 – Friday, April 3, 2015

 

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This spoke volumes to me about this trip.  I have never traveled by myself before so this was all new to me.  I had been through New York but had never spent time there.  Everything was unknown and exciting!

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Rylan taking Mama to the airport.  He’s so cute it hurts!

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My first flight wasn’t crowded at all so I had three seats to myself!  It was great!

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This was probably the smoothest flight I’ve ever had.  We didn’t have any turbulence at all.  The sky was gorgeous!

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Hello Atlanta!  I’ve never gotten a good picture of the Atlanta skyline from a plane before.  I’ve always either had someone in the way or it has been bad weather/foggy.

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Lunch time!  I don’t eat a lot during travel.  It seems to just weigh me down if I do and I get really groggy.

I wish I had been able to get pictures coming into Newark airport or when I was driving into the city but it was dark and foggy in spots.

I had a car waiting for me at the airport to take me to my hotel.  I used Dial 7 car service and I highly recommend them!

I stayed at the New York Marriott Downtown.  It was only a couple minutes walk from the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the room was wonderful!  The staff was extremely friendly and helpful as well.

20150403_225620Walking into my room.

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20150403_225647The bed was so comfy!

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NYC for My Birthday Weekend!

The Husband got me the best gift ever this year: a solo trip to New York City!  This has been one of the best gifts he’s ever given me and it was a total surprise.  I have wanted to go to NYC for a long time now and now I’m going! I am so excited!  This will be my first big trip by myself as well as my first trip to NYC and I’m so looking forward to it!

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I have to take a minute to brag on my Hubby…he really is great!   He’s so good to me and I could say it a million times a day and it wouldn’t be enough.  The best husband and father ever!  The Lord has really blessed me with him.

I have the plane tickets, the hotel and my museum tickets ready.  Everything is packed with the exception of my clothes (still gotta check the weather closer to the departure date).  I can’t wait!

Now, I also want to say I’m a bit anxious about this trip.  I have never traveled this distance or flown by myself.  It is a little intimidating because of the unknown but I’m up for the challenge.  My motto right now is “Let your faith be bigger than your fear.”  I think it is always important to keep stretching yourself and always be ready for a new challenge.  It is good to get out of your comfort zone when you can because this is when you really grow.

I’m up for doing a trip that is just all about what I want to do.  That sounds so selfish as I read it back…I don’t mean it that way, I really don’t.  The Husband is really a good travel buddy and we always have a great time together.  It will just be nice to not have to take anyone else’s feelings, tastes, wake up times, etc. into consideration.  In some ways I’m not sure how I will do.  I’m so used to asking everyone else what they want and need that it will be weird to rely solely on what I want.  I had never really thought about it before.

I’m really going to miss the Husband and my Little Man.  As much as I am looking forward to going and enjoying myself I’m looking forward to getting back to them more.

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