This morning, I remembered a trip I had a few years ago. It was probably the most adventurous journey I have ever had in my life and I will never forget it.
After the summer work in the States, I had about $1,600. I wanted to bring some of that back home, but I traveled as much as possible. Mostly I have used couchsurfing – a community where people take travelers to their homes for several nights in exchange for a company and travel stories. At that time, AirBnb wasn’t that popular, so I didn’t know the other cheap way to stay as even hostels in the biggest cities start at $50 a night.
I have started the journey at Honesdale. The job gave me free transportation to the New York City. Onwards I have gone on a 8-hour bus trip to Burlington, Vermont on the same day for $24.
The town is close to the border with Canada, and it feels more spooky than in the neighboring states. The city is not the most touristy destination – there is Lake Champlain, where you can take a ferry to another shore (16 dollars back and forth) and enjoy the Adirondack mountain scenery.
For the first time I ate calzone. It is one of my favorite dishes up to this day. It cost me $9. I remember that I was not sure how much tips should I leave when the check was written and there was a tip percent next to the total – moderate, good, excelent. 🙂
At that time I didn’t know, but Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory is half an hour from Burlington. I recommend visiting it. On the other hand, Burlington has many places to offer a huge portion of ice cream for $5. 🙂
I don’t remember my couchsurfing host at Vermont anymore, we didn’t have much in common. I only remember that I have waited for him for a few hours in an agreed place at night until he picked me up after his night shift. 🙂
After spending a couple of days in Burlington, I have gone southwards – $12 Megabus trip to Boston. I had to move to another bus to Portland, but I couldn’t find a couchsurfing host, so I decided to stay in Boston.
For the first couple of nights I stayed at Hosteling International Boston hostel in the city center. It cost me $50 a night + breakfast and it was wonderful. Well furbished, also cool common space for hipster travelers to share their travel experiences.
I really liked Boston myself. This is probably the only city on the East Coast where I would like to live if I ever had to choose. Numerous skyscrapers, but unlike New York, there’s less rush and more friendly faces.
When I travel I love to dive into the city and walk a lot. Boston has a 4km-long Freedom Trail, which is where most of the historic monuments of the city can be visited.
Bunker Hill Monument.
A monument of a height equal to a 15-storey house and a staircase inside. The best news – completely open and free for visitors. When climbing to the top, you can stand on the bars and look through the first floor of the building. After this experience, the palms were all wet from sweat. 🙂
For the last two days in Boston I have stayed at a couchsurfing host, which name I unfortunately no longer remember. The apartment was neat and beautiful with a view of the 17th floor windows. I remembered watching baseball together and trying to understand what was going on there. I also traveled to the city every day for a walk. Also, at a bookstore I read half of Phil Jackson’s book. 🙂
P.s. random memory: A guy came up to me and complained that he was not allowed to enter the ship because he was wearing flipflops. He offered me $20 or $50 for my shoes, which I exchanged for an unforgettable 10-minute trip to the Boston Street hostel bare foot. In America it is not easy to draw people’s attention, but I have succeeded. 🙂
From this point on, the most spontaneous part of the journey begins. And at the same time, from the current perspective, the most mind-boggling.
From Boston I took the Amtrak train to Springfield for $27. I was going to stay with Ben, a US Army veteran (he was 44 at that time). Couchsurfing haas blocked his account a few days before the trip. But I had his email, so we kept in touch. It turned out to be a bit suspicious, but he explained that this was caused by some mistake by couchsurfing and everything was ok. I had no other plans, so what was worst to happen? 🙂 Ben has picked me up at the train station and gave me a ride to his home where he lives with his mother. At dinner, he introduced me to two of his friends from Iraq whose father got a job in America and they came to the States six months ago.
The next day I went to visit several museums in Springfield, the most memorable was Basketball Hall of Fame. You can try to make a shot to the first basketball hoop – a peach basket. 🙂
In the evening, Greg from Hungary joined our company, who has also worked in America during the summer. Four of them planned to go for a five-day road trip to Washington, Philadelphia and NYC tomorrow and offered to join me in. Fuel was on them. Too good to be true, right? 🙂 I informed the host, from New Haven, that I would not come to New Haven and went on a trip to the big cities. 🙂
Washington reminded me of a city-museum. There are a lot of marble monuments that look completely different to the ones in Europe.
The most memorable is the Washington Monument. Probably because Forrest Gump is one of my favorite movies.
I still remember the crowds of people at the White House. Every time I go through our presidencial residence in Vilnius, I am delighted that it is not enclosed by a fence that is a few dozen meters away.
We were planning to spend the day in Washington, but the friend from Hungary has had his passport stolen. We were stayed in Washington for an extra night to sort our the documents. Our Warm Showers (similar to couchsurfing) hosts, a couple of retirees who are now trading books on Amazon, kindly let us stay for another night.
Next day we quickly drove through Philadelphia where we ate Philly Cheesesteak – a submarine with lots of meat and cheese. We left Philadelphia quickly as we have had a place to stay in New York for that night. We were welcomed by a couple of pensioners at Staten Island. Every day we have used Staten Island Ferry seen on Spider-Man and a number of other films. Traveling from Staten Island to Manhattan takes 25 minutes and is completely free.
We walked a lot in Manhattan, and we saw probably the most famous places in the city within a couple of days. The other two days I spent at the HI NYC hostel ($50 a night), saw Ričardas Berankis play against Novak Djokovic at US Open, watched the New York Mets game at the Citi Field stadium.
Memorable and cheap trip.
I spent about $600 on the whole trip and had unforgettable impressions that will last for a lifetime. I do not know if I would like to travel using couchsurfing now, but when I was a student, I didn’t have any other options. I think that often the pursuit of convenience is discouraging me from having more crazy-adventurous trips. I hope in the future, I would be happy to get back on a similar trip not because of money saving but because of unpredictable adventures.
P.s. there are several referral links you can use to visit hostels where I visited cheaper. The HonestFIRE blog is without ads, and it will remain like that. However, it costs me about 30 Eur/year to run it, so if you travel using the links in the text, you will contribute to this blog a lot. Thank you.
P.p.s. I was able to remember some of these adventures again because many of the fragments for this post were reproduced from emails to my mother. With the upcoming Mother’s Day 🙂