After being back home for almost half a year now, I decided to finally write about a travelmonth, across the US, that I went on after working as an au pair, for a year. It’s crazy that it’s already been six months, since the adventure ended, but I keep all those memories very close to my heart.
For some people, four weeks may not sound like much but when you don’t stay in the same place the whole time, it is. I’m not someone who just travels super spontaneously, and in this case, it wouldn’t have been possible, anyway. I had to plan for me and a friend and most importantly, I had to make sure that the two of us will end up at the right airport, at a certain date, to catch our flights home, which were booked by our au pair agency. Therefore, the whole time you are travelling, you always worry a little that something may go wrong and you end up in massive trouble.
My plan was to see as much as possible and to keep it all on a low budget. After all, au pairs don’t really earn a ton of money and you always have to keep a little for emergencies. In my case, it was my German bank account that saved us, a couple of times. As much calculating as I did, things just happened that I had no control over. But in the end, all that matters is that we made it home and had a blast along the ride.
The travel plan was:
San Francisco, CA – Crater Lake, OR – Portland, OR – Seattle, WA – Big Island, HI – New Orleans, LA – Jackson, MS – Birmingham, Alabama – Atlanta, GA – Portland, ME – Boston, MA
As you can tell, we were all over the place and in the end, we just had to catch our final flight in Boston, no matter what. I remember my mom telling me to better make sure to get there, since start and finish couldn’t be further apart. But that’s just me. I didn’t want to do a tour that everyone does. I’ve always been a huge fan of the US and since I’ve studied American Studies, I also wanted to visit historical places that mean something to me and what I’ve learned. It was hard to decide because there is just so much to see, but I think, I settled for some very interesting places. A little bit of East Coast, a little bit of West Coast, a few days in the South and Hawaii sounded crazy but awesome and I can still feel our excitement, today.
You’re thinking about travelling for a log time? Here are three tips how to handle an adventure like this.
01. When it comes to finding a travel buddy, choose wisely. Even if the person is your best friend in the world, four weeks are a long time to constantly be with someone. You share everything with them, a bed, food, clothes and everything else, so you have to be very comfortable with that person and you want to make sure that the two or more of you will end on good terms. Just imagine constantly getting into fights with your friends when you can’t just leave. It would be a disaster.
I went with a lovely au pair friend, who is one of the sweetest and clumsiest people I know. She is also still pretty young, which wasn’t an issue, since we weren’t interested in partying, anyway. You can always have a ton of fun with her and she just let me plan and do everything and said yes at my suggestions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a dictator 24/7, but travelling with two strong-minded people, who have different opinions, would not end well. It was perfect, we had a blast and I still love her.
02. When you plan a trip like this, make sure to compare a lot of prices. I spent weeks of putting everything together. Cars had to be rented, we had a couple of flights and of course, you have to sleep somewhere. We did hostels, air bnb and hotels, depending on what would be the best price and ideally a good location, since you can’t afford renting a car for this long. And speaking of cars, remember that it costs a lot more money, when you get a rental for a one-way trip. Put together a list for each place, as well. It saves you a lot of time when you know where to go and you can also find great deals if you do a little research, beforehand. Yes, I was the girl with lots of lists, prices, directions etc. to make sure, we always have enough to do.
03. Take as little luggage as possible. Unfortunately, I had a lot of stuff to carry around with me, since it was the end of my year as an au pair and I just had to bring home everything I hadn’t shipped beforehand. This was definitely the worst part for me. I’m generally known for always packing too much but this was just really annoying and I learned a lot from it. It was ok when we travelled by car but luggage restrictions on flights killed me. I literally left things at every stop along the way and somehow managed to get everything important home. I was lucky that nobody ever weighed my carry-on luggage.