Month 25: Travel Summary and Statistics


Lauren at Whistler

Month 25 has been all about changing my mind and because of this I’ve ended up in some very surprising places! 

The start of the month saw Dave and I in Portland, working, eating, drinking and enjoying the glorious weather. We had a fantastic quality of life in Portland and I couldn’t wait to help my parents fall in love with the city too — they came out to visit me for my final five days!

The last time I saw my parents was June last year, so I was beside myself with excitement to be able to see them once more — by far the biggest negative to my travelling lifestyle is not being able to see my family whenever I’d like. Which is, well, at least once a week.

I had an amazing time with them — they got to meet Dave for the first time, I introduced them to the concept of brunch and force-fed them incredible food on an hourly basis. I let them roam free through Powell’s Books, and took them to the smallest park in the world. We even managed to cram in a day trip to beautiful Mount Hood.

Mount Hood

As our time in Portland sadly drew to a close, Dave and I were reminded once more that we were now outside of Southeast Asia and couldn’t just rock up a few days before we wanted to go somewhere new and expect transport and accommodation to be in any way cheap.

Our plans to head over to the east coast to spend three weeks travelling through New York City, Boston and Washington DC were quickly shelved when we realised just how expensive and frustrating it would be. Neither of us particularly felt like spending 14 hours on a bus every few days to get around, and we definitely didn’t want to pay $100 a night for a hostel with a 60% average rating.

We needed a new plan — and we needed to come up with it quickly.

Dozens of plans were floated around — an extra three weeks in Portland, a couple of weeks in Seattle followed by a week in New York, a few days in Vancouver to visit family followed by a jaunt to Toronto to see friends followed by New York… everything seemed to involve too much hassle, have too much movement and cost far too much.

Then, as always happens when Dave and I are agonising over upcoming plans, somewhere completely unexpected popped up and it ended up being the best solution.

Tacoma sunset

Tacoma.

While checking Airbnb for apartments in Seattle, we happened to stumble across a gorgeous looking one in Old Town Tacoma, somewhere we had never considered staying, somewhere I couldn’t even have found on a map. We knew nothing about Tacoma but this apartment was seriously good value at $200 a week each. After asking local friends for advice and checking there were a few things to keep us entertained and well-fed, we decided to go for it!

For 10 days, we lived on clam chowder, saw spectacular sunsets every night, got plenty of work done and I even attempted to cook a few meals for Dave for the first time. Sure, Tacoma itself isn’t anything mind-blowingly amazing, but it was a great place to hole up and work while living cheaply.

Choosing to stay in Tacoma worked out even better for me because it meant that I got to see my parents for a second time! As they left Portland to head up to Vancouver Island, I stayed in Tacoma and met back up with them ten days later in Vancouver for my Mum’s birthday. This was my first visit to Canada and sadly I only had two days to explore. The majority of my time was spent at Whistler, a seriously beautiful part of the world.

Lauren at Whistler

Whistler scenery

Whistler scenery

From Vancouver, we drove back down to Seattle where we met up with Dave and had a whirlwind two days showing my parents all of our favourite spots. Though the weather sadly didn’t co-operate, we still had a fantastic time together and I was incredibly sad to say goodbye to them. I’m planning a return to Europe for Christmas 2014 so it hopefully won’t be too long until I see them again.

Then, Dave and I finally found our way over to the east coast and have just arrived in New York City!

I first visited New York  in 2007 and I didn’t leave with a good impression. I visited with a friend I didn’t know very well and soon found our personalities weren’t particularly compatible for travel. Walking 12 hours a day everyday isn’t my favourite way to see a city and I soon ended up exhausted with blistered feet and couldn’t wait to go home.

It just goes to show how much your opinion of a place is affected by who you travel with. I’ve been in New York for just over 24 hours and I’m absolutely loving it. The weather’s fantastic, I’m eating amazing food and so I’m looking forward to the week I’ll be spending here.

 

Onto the statistics for the month!

Travels in July/August 2013

Countries visited: 2

Canada, United States

Cities visited: 6

New York City, Portland, Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, Whistler

Distance travelled: 5571 kilometres

Number of flights: 1

Seattle to New York City

Number of buses: 2

Tacoma to Seattle; Seattle to Vancouver. 

Photos taken: 768

Amount spent: 

Portland: £471.85 over 16 nights = £29.49 ($46.13) per night

Tacoma: £424.38 over 10 nights = £42.44 ($66.30) per night

Vancouver: £101.16 over 2 nights = £50.58 ($79.02) per night

Seattle: £51.67 over 2 nights = £25.85 ($40.43) per night

New York City: £21.19 over 1 night = £21.19 ($33.14) per night

Extras: 

Flight from Seattle to New York: $150

Flight from New York to Phoenix: $149

Flight from Phoenix to Puerto Vallarta: $149

Total amount spent: $1962.

(This month, I did not have any accommodation costs in Seattle and New York because I was staying with friends.)

 

The next month

Travels for August/September 2013

Just like last month there’s been a few changes to my original itinerary.

However, unlike like month everything is now booked so there’ll be no more changing my mind!

My original plan to visit Toronto for the weekend has been scrapped in favour of a Montreal weekend instead. I know very little about this Canadian city so I’m looking forward to having a quick preview next weekend.

From Montreal, we’ll head back to New York City for a few days to catch up with Dave’s brother and then we’ll be flying on to Phoenix to begin our 10 day road trip!

We’ll be driving up to Sedona for three nights to check out the Grand Canyon and Monument Vally and then heading down to Tucson to get our cactus on in Saguaro National Park. From there, we’ll drive to Las Cruces Mexico where we’ll spend a couple of nights exploring White Sands National Monument. You know I’m obsessed with deserts so I can’t wait to see this one! From New Mexico, we’ll be driving to Big Bend National Park — one of the least visited National Parks in the US, but one that looks absolutely stunning to hike around. The final stop on our road trip will be Austin, where we’ll be eating everything we can find while celebrating Dave’s birthday.

We’ll finish off the month in Puerto Vallarta. This will be my first time in Mexico and the plan is to spend at least a month in the Puerto Vallarta area. We’ll be apartment hunting for somewhere near the beach where Dave and I can both hole up and write and sunbathe for a while. With no onward plans after this, we could potentially end up in Mexico for six months!

 

Looking to follow along with my travels through my monthly summaries? You can read the previous month’s summary here, the next month’s summary here, or head on over to the monthly summary page to read from the very beginning!

50 Comments

  1. August 19, 2013
    Reply

    Sounds like a great trip. I live in Arizona so if you need any tips or advice let me know. There are a couple of us travel bloggers here in Phoenix and if you have time and want to meet up let me know.

    • August 20, 2013
      Reply

      Hi Jeff, we’ll only be in Phoenix for one night unfortunately so I don’t think I’d have any time for meet-ups. Any advice for places to visit while we’re in Tucson, or for the drive up to Sedona or down to Tucson would be awesome :-)

      • August 20, 2013
        Reply

        How much time do you have in AZ? It seems like you have a busy schedule and there will be a lot of driving. Some other places I would visit if you have time are Jerome and Prescott. Jerome is about 30 miles south of Sedona and is an interesting old mining town. You could do that on the drive to Sedona. Prescott is about 70 miles and was once the Capital and has a town square with old time saloons surrounding it.

        Flagstaff is great place to stay if you are going to the Grand Canyon.

        Between Phoenix and Tucson there is not much too see….just open desert. It is only a 1 1/2 drive.

        I have some posts on my site about Sedona and Flagstaff if you are interested. Message me with any other questions.

        • November 14, 2015
          Reply

          Thanks so much for all of your advice, Jeff! :-)

  2. August 19, 2013
    Reply

    I am so jealous of your America and Mexico plans for the next month! I’m torn between continuing grad school and just taking up where I left off at the moment, and the US and Mexico are where I want to be. It’s great you got to meet up with your parents :)

    • August 20, 2013
      Reply

      I know I struggled a lot when I was at Uni with wanting to run away and travel… I stuck it out though and I’m pleased I did. It was so great to see my parents again! :-)

  3. rob
    August 19, 2013
    Reply

    Free stay any time any days till November 1

    • August 20, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Rob. However, I don’t accept sponsored travel on Never Ending Footsteps.

  4. August 19, 2013
    Reply

    Great upcoming plans! I love the Southwest — one of my favorite parts of the US and one that I can’t stop returning to. :-) And DEFINITELY Montreal over Toronto.

    Two things:

    1) I saw you mention the “14 hours on a bus every few days” thing on Facebook before and I’m still not sure where you got this number. I do the Boston-NYC bus route several times a year and it’s 4.5 hours, whether it’s on the Bolt Bus or Megabus or Greyhound (shudder). Maybe 5 or 5.5 if you hit heavy traffic. Even when my friends got stuck on the bus during a blizzard, it only took them six hours. NYC-DC is also 4.5 hours.

    2) White Sands is awesome, but one day is all you need — it’s a surprisingly small place.

    Have a great time!

    • August 20, 2013
      Reply

      Yeah, the long journeys came from us trying to fit our plans around seeing other people when they were free, so it was going to be NYC to Toronto and then to Boston via NYC and then to DC via NYC and it all got a bit complicated and annoying.

      Glad to hear I made the right choice with Montreal and I’m so ridiculously excited to explore the Southwest! :-)

  5. jonny
    August 19, 2013
    Reply

    You will adore Mexico. I spent 10 months in Aguascalientes, not too far from Puerto Vallarta. If you do end up spending six months there you should definitely get down to see Zacatecas, Guanajuato and Querétaro. Then go to Mexico City – everywhere south of there is golden! Also, whilst you’re still kind of northern-ish; give some thought to visiting the Copper Canyon in Chihuahua State. Stay in Creel – a sleepy village in the mountains – it’s like nowhere else in Mexico.

    • August 20, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks for the recommendations, Jonny! With no plans for Mexico I’m excited to see where I end up :-)

  6. Yvette
    August 19, 2013
    Reply

    I’m kind of disappointed a physics girl wouldn’t want to go to the VLA and pretend to be Ellie Arroway if so close. Or were you a solid state/ particle kind of physicist? :-p

    Speaking of random geeky side trips, on your drive up to the Grand Canyon take the detour to Meteor Crater which is an hour east of Flagstaff. We did that same Arizona road trip when I was in high school and I INSISTED we detour to see it- lots of taunting on the extra drive out from the family that I wanted them to go see “a hole in the ground,” but the entire hour back was spent discussing just how cool it was. Which it is- check it out! :)

    • August 20, 2013
      Reply

      I was one of those awful particle physicists ;-). Meteor crater looks pretty badass, I’ve added it to the list!

  7. August 19, 2013
    Reply

    What an amazing way to live your life!

    • August 20, 2013
      Reply

      Oh, thank you so much, Ashley! I promise you, it’s not as glamorous as it sounds — there’s a lot of staring at a laptop screen and wishing I could go outside and explore :-)

  8. August 19, 2013
    Reply

    Welcome to New York! We have been having freak weather lately. It is normally so hot, humid and scented with urine. This year has been wonderful though.

    • August 20, 2013
      Reply

      I’ve heard that, and I’ve been surprised at how great the weather’s been so far (aside from today — so humid!).

      • August 20, 2013
        Reply

        Today is what a typical NYC summer day feels like. I kind of blocked out the weather report on the news this morning because I did not want to see how long it is going to last. When I woke up to go to work, you could totally feel the humidity creeping into my apartment.

        • November 14, 2015
          Reply

          Ugh, that’s the worst feeling!

  9. Clazz
    August 19, 2013
    Reply

    So glad you’ve made it to NYC, especially if you didn’t like it the first time around! It’s one of my favourite cities although I can’t quite pinpoint why. Whistler is definitely somewhere I’m going to swing by, too!! It looks amazing!

    Also absolutely recommend Monument Valley, probably one of the best experiences of my life. I don’t know if you could join a tour group or something to do this, but I went with Trek America and they arranged a jeep tour with the Navajos followed by a stay in the hogan mud huts. I’ve not looked into how to do that with anyone else so if you can find a way to do that then DO! And by the Grand Canyon, go up the road to Horseshoe Bend. I wouldn’t have even known about it but I was blown away by it!

    • August 20, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks for the recommendation, Clazz! I’ll definitely be heading to Horseshoe Bend :-)

  10. Daisy Wong
    August 19, 2013
    Reply

    I LOVE Sedona!! Sad that I missed you in Seattle, maybe next time around!!

    Daisy

    • August 20, 2013
      Reply

      Yep, I have a feeling a lot of my future summers will be spent in the Pacific Northwest :-)

  11. August 22, 2013
    Reply

    Wow the photos are gorgeous! Loved it!

  12. Stephanie @ Pearlsandpassports
    August 22, 2013
    Reply

    Canada looks absolutely beautiful! I’m surprised!
    I love that your plans have changed so much, keeps life exciting eh? :)
    I also can’t believe that you’ve been travelling for 25 whole months! What an achievement! I’ve been away for 6 months and it feels like I’ve lived in Asia forever :)

    • August 25, 2013
      Reply

      I know! Every time I think I have solid plans, something comes along and changes them. In fact, it happened today as well. I’m loving Montreal so much that I’ve extended my time here :-)

  13. August 22, 2013
    Reply

    I can’t wait to hear about your adventure in Mexico, it’s somewhere I’d love to go. I hope you have a great time.

    Portland also sounds fantastic. I know you weren’t staying in hostels, but what’s the backpacking scene like there?

    Final sad confession, I’m also quite desperate to go to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the annual pug festival one year. (I think I might be an addict)

    • August 25, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Georgia! I really didn’t get into the backpacking scene at all in Portland — I stayed quite a way away from downtown and was all about Whole Foods and being domestic :-)

      Um, that pug festival looks amazing!

  14. Lou
    August 23, 2013
    Reply

    I’ll be interested to hear about Austin, I am going there next month too! I’ve been searching high and low for good advice on traveling in TX, there is just an overload of information. I don’t even know where to start.

    • August 25, 2013
      Reply

      Nice! I know what you mean about information overload. I’m glad I’m only going to a couple of places in Texas otherwise I’d be spending hours researching everyday!

  15. August 24, 2013
    Reply

    Loved your photos! Since we started our trip in the US, I know how frustrated and expensive moving around can be! States like Europe and Canada, booking in advance will get you real cheap alternative and the carpool can also help you around.

    We used couchsurfing and staying with family when we were there and we used airbnb only once in NY, a room in Manhattan for $50 in August, can you believe it!

    Enjoy your coming trip, you will love Montreal, we used to live in Canada for 2 years and Quebec is a beautiful place.

    Safe travels

    • August 25, 2013
      Reply

      Yep, this part of the world definitely doesn’t reward those who make their plans at the last minute! We’ve used Airbnb for 95% of our time in the US and it’s worked out wonderfully, especially if you’re staying for more than a few days.

      I’ve been in Montreal for 24 hours and I love it already!

  16. August 25, 2013
    Reply

    Laura, I LOVE it when travelers have a good experience in the US. Obviously we don’t have the best reputation internationally so it’s really gratifying when a worldly gal like yourself can give a positive report. Also just reading through the comments & am tickled that you’ve extended your time in Montreal. I say that there are few cities that do summer better than that party town. Don’t discount my hometown of Toronto though…if you can spare a few days there, it has plenty to offer too :)

    • October 7, 2013
      Reply

      I’d love to visit Toronto next time I’m in that part of the world. I just left it too late with the planning this time and prices were ridiculous a few days out.

  17. August 26, 2013
    Reply

    I always enjoy reading your travel summary and statistics posts. Glad to see you’re having a good time in the States! It’s unfortunate there aren’t more cheaper accommodation options here, though.

    • October 7, 2013
      Reply

      Yeah, I definitely found myself spending 5 times what I’m used to in cheaper parts of the world. It’s worth it though :-)

  18. Jennifer
    August 26, 2013
    Reply

    You are going to absolutely LOVE Austin. Make sure you take part in as much weird Austin stuff as you can.

    Big Bend is amazing too. I love the Davis Mountains, and if you get a chance since and since you are road triping stop in Marfa and see the “mysterious” lights. Not sure which way you are going and if Marfa is feasible or not, but West Texas is amazing! at least in my humble opinion.

    my mom lives in Phoenix now, and I recently was able to visit Sedona. Also it “almost” sound like you will be at or near Albuquerque during the International Balloon Festival, I am not 100% sure of your timing.

    have a great time in NYC! I always love when people visit Texas for the first time, and start in West Texas :)

    Jennifer

    • October 7, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks for all the tips, Jennifer! We actually stayed in Alpine, so were pretty close to Marfa. Unfortunately, we were so tired from hiking that we didn’t have the energy to drive out there to see the lights. Next time :-)

  19. Hogga
    August 26, 2013
    Reply

    these pictures are unreal!

  20. August 27, 2013
    Reply

    Whistler looks so stunning. I must go to Canada for some hiking one day.Your road trip sounds amazing and your lack of plans after Mexico even more so. I am usually such an obsessive planner that I’d find it hard to be spontaneous, however we are currently planning our travel plans next year and it looks like only two months out of 8 are planned so far and we will probably gonna keep it that way and see where the wind takes us. I feel like such a rebel. :-)

    • October 7, 2013
      Reply

      I’ve been in Mexico for a few weeks and already I’m so happy to not be moving. No plans is definitely best when it comes to travel :-)

  21. Al
    September 8, 2013
    Reply

    Laura, you’ve showed so many nice spots there. And it seems like Airbnb is not that expensive there as I thought of it. I thought it would take much more to travel in North America. Would love to read about the road trip!

    • September 18, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Al! Airbnb has been pretty great in the US, and is a great alternative to hostels :-) I’ll be posting about the road trip over the next couple of months!

  22. September 14, 2013
    Reply

    Hey Lauren, i’ve been an avid reader of your site for a good year and a bit now :)… I love your’e work. In 2006 I rented an RV with some friends around San Fran, Las Vegas, San Diego, which by the sounds of your plan you may be touching some of these places. You will love them. Can I also just thank you bringing such fun stories to the tinterweb. You’re blog has definitely been one of my inspirations to setting up my own. High five!

    • September 18, 2013
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Jimmy! That means a lot to me :-)

  23. Carmen Allan-Petale
    September 17, 2013
    Reply

    How great is Portland?! We spent a week there last month and fell in love with the place. I can honestly say that I prefer Montreal over Toronto, so good decision there!
    Have you guys tried house sitting or Air B and Bing? It’s a good alternative to hostels. We stayed at a fab Air B and B in Seattle that was only $60 a night and met some amazing people when we were there two weeks ago.
    Now we’re house sitting in Port Angeles for 2.5 weeks which isn’t too far from Tacoma. We’ve got a beautiful house all to ourselves right next to Olympic National Park.
    Looks like you’re having fun, keep up the awesome blog, I love reading it.

    • September 18, 2013
      Reply

      Portland is so amazing — I would have stayed for three months if I’d found cheap accommodation for that long! We’ve pretty much solely used Airbnb for our entire time in the US. The longer we travel, the more we’re willing to pay a bit extra to avoid a hostel!

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