Month 26: Travel Summary and Statistics


Monument Valley, Utah

Phew! 

What. A. Month.

For the first time I was unable to write a single post between last month’s summary and this one, and I have a very good reason for this.

Well, actually… I don’t.

Month 26 has been chaotic and surreal and disorganised and productive. It’s been a good month though, in terms of travel, work and life.

I was interviewed on BBC radio about my travels on a show with 1.6 million listeners, received two new fantastic job offers and had a huge amount of freelance writing and editing work to get through. It’s been a ridiculously busy month — wait until you see the amount of travel it involved — and I haven’t slept much but I’m incredibly grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way. Now that I have a relatively consistent income coming in and am slowing the travels way, way down I’m finally going to be able to focus more of my attention here!

Oh, have I mentioned that I’ve just moved to Mexico?

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New York from the high line

The month began in New York.

New York was a place that, when I first visited, I instantly despised. It was loud and noisy and left me constantly claustrophobic. The towering buildings made me feel dizzy and nauseated and I spent the entire time wishing I was somewhere else.

That was six years ago and I’m barely recognisable from the anxiety-ridden teenager that had to be escorted from the Rockefeller Centre by security because she was having yet another panic attack…

Fortunately, with all of the main tourist attractions ticked off during my first visit, I was able to spend my week in New York doing exactly what I love.

Food with Matt, drinks with Christine, coffee with Sam and walks with Dani and Jess.

That was New York for me — friends, food and a far better impression of the city than the first time I visited.  

Montreal

Montreal followed New York as I hopped across the border once more, this time deciding to take the train. My first experience on Amtrak was fantastic — lots of legroom, comfy seats, power sockets for every seat and mostly usable wi-fi too!

Montreal was fantastic — within a few hours of arriving, Dave and I had decided to extend our stay by two days. We spent five days there in total and spent most of our time eating everything we came across. And by everything I mean my weight in poutine.

It was then time to start our Southwest road trip.

And it was probably the best road trip I’ve ever done.

…Which isn’t really saying much as I’ve only really road tripped twice before, in Australia and New Zealand.

But it was still incredible.

I saw and did so much that to write about it all in detail would bring this post up to 3000 words in length, so I’ll attempt to somewhat briefly summarise our route.

We began our journey in Phoenix, where I flat-out refused to drive our rental car through fear that I was going to kill us and everyone else on the road. I had never driven on the right-hand side of the road before, never driven an automatic and hadn’t driven at all in over seven years.

Fortunately, it wasn’t particularly hard to re-learn how to drive in this part of the world — long, straight stretches with barely any cars made this a perfect place to make mistakes without endangering any lives.

Our first major stop was Monument Valley in Utah, one of the most stunning landscapes I’ve ever seen. We decided to take our tiny car along the 17 mile valley loop road, which saw us edging our way over boulders and across mini-lakes. The fact that it took us over two hours to drive 17 miles shows just how nerve-wracking the journey was!

Monument Valley, Utah

Next up was the Grand Canyon, somewhere I’ve long dreamed of visiting. I spent the day getting my hike on on the South Kaibab trail and posing for scary photos where it looked like I was being a daredevil on the canyon rim. Sort of.

Lauren at the Grand Canyon

On our way back down south, we stopped off at Meteor Crater, the largest impact crater in the US (1.2 km across) and the best preserved on Earth.

Meteor Crater in Arizona

And then, Tucson, where we spent a few days hanging out with the ever-awesome Dani and Jess. My time was spent freaking out about the various terrifying creatures that were waiting to attack me — poisonous rattlesnakes, scorpions, tarantulas, black widow spiders, Gila monsters and more. When I wasn’t freaking out about my impending doom I was squealing with excitement at seeing so many cacti, thanks to our visits to Saguaro National Park and Sabino Canyon.

Cacti at Saguaro National Park

After so much awesome in Arizona, it was time for us to head to New Mexico, but not before paying the historic Wild West town Tombstone a visit. It was super-cute and super-cheesy and I adored it.

Tombstone cowboy

Next, White Sands National Monument, which I’ve been desperate to visit for years! We spent an entire day sledding down sand dunes, hiking nature trails and getting to witness one of the prettiest sunsets of my life. I’m obsessed with deserts so this was definitely the highlight of the entire road trip for me.

Lauren at sunset at White Sands National Monument

It was then time for a fun detour to Roswell on our way through to Texas!

We added around two hours on to our driving time to visit this crazy city and it was SO worth it. I ended up with so many ridiculous alien themed photos and I can’t wait to post an enormous photo essay from my time there!

Abducted by aliens at Roswell

And then, our final national park of the trip: Big Bend, one of the the largest national parks in the US, and one of the least visited. Our day featured incredible scenery, wild tarantulas and amazing views. Of course, the fact that we were two of around ten people in the park made it an even greater experience.

Big Bend National Park, Texas

We ended our road trip in Austin, somewhere Dave and I have been craving visiting after hearing about its similarities to Portland. In Austin, we celebrated Dave’s birthday, ate so much incredible BBQ and got to hang out with the lovely Shaun and Erica. It was the perfect end to a perfect road trip and I genuinely wouldn’t have changed a single thing.

Which brings me to Mexico.

I need to stop moving.

I needed to stop moving after New Zealand, and while I did for a little while — a month in Chiang Mai, a month in Saigon, a month in Portland — it wasn’t enough.

I really need to slow things down.

And so I’ve moved to gorgeous Sayulita in Mexico!

I couldn’t have asked for my Mexico move to have gone any more smoothly. In under 24 hours I had found the perfect apartment — and I moved in two days later. My new place is a five minute walk to the beach, has a swimming pool, air conditioning, a ridiculously huge balcony and a well-equipped kitchen. We’re paying just $650 a month and it’s perfect.

 

Onto the statistics for the month! 

Travels in August/September 2013

Countries visited: 3

Canada, United States, Mexico

Cities visited: 13

Alpine, Austin, Flagstaff, Montreal, New York City, Phoenix, Roswell, Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita, Sedona, Tucson, Tombstone, Tularosa.

Distance travelled: 10,150 kilometres 

Number of flights: 3

New York City to Phoenix, Austin to Houston, Houston to Puerto Vallarta.

Number of trains: 2

New York City to Montreal and back.

Number of buses: 4

Photos taken: 4072

Favourite place: Monument Valley, Utah

Least favourite place: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Money spent:

United States: $2328.41 over 23 nights = $101.22 per day

The prices for the US are inflated slightly because I splurged on fancy accommodation and other treats for Dave’s birthday.

Canada: 423.38over 5 nights = $84.68 per day

Mexico: $125 over 3 nights = $41.67 per day

Extras:

Amtrak to Montreal and back: $143

Car rental in the US: $500

Mexico rent for a month: $325

Total amount spent: $3844.79

Let’s just say I’m pleased I’m going to be settling down somewhere cheap for a while!

 

The next month

September 2013 travel plans

I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to know that I will not be moving once over the next month.

I have so much I need to catch up on with Never Ending Footsteps… and there’s that small matter of writing a book.

 

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!

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40 Comments

  1. Kaya
    September 17, 2013
    Reply

    I’m going to Sayulita in November! I only know one person who has been and don’t know a whole lot about the town so am looking forward to any upcoming posts you might make about it! :)

    • Lauren
      September 18, 2013
      Reply

      Nice! I might still be hanging around in November…. :-) It’s pretty awesome here.

  2. Beverley | Pack Your Passport
    September 17, 2013
    Reply

    Crazy month!! But looks like you had a lot of fun (I especially like the picture of you emerging from a UFO in Roswell haha)

    Also, I’ve always kind of wanted to do a road trip in America (I’m basically in love with road trips….) but now I definitely definitely want to do a road trip in America. The photos looks amazing :)

    • Lauren
      September 18, 2013
      Reply

      Wait until you see the rest of my Roswell photos — they’re hilarious! :-)

      You should definitely do a Southwest road trip, it’s one of the prettiest regions I’ve visited.

  3. Coral
    September 17, 2013
    Reply

    I think we all need to slow down sometimes. Not settle, but slow down. We had 6 lovely weeks of slowing down in Melbourne after 4 weeks on the road in California and NZ (not enough time) but were itching to get on the road after that. Now Mexico, I fancy that…..

    • Lauren
      September 18, 2013
      Reply

      Absolutely! I realised I haven’t spent more than a month in a place in almost two years now so I definitely needed to slow down. I’ll be interested to see how long it takes before I’m itching to take off again :-)

  4. Dani
    September 18, 2013
    Reply

    I forgot to ask you if you stopped in Tombstone at all on your way to New Mexico but I see that you did :) I felt bad for sending you that way after our friend in Tucson told us she only ever met one person who liked Tombstone (plus me!) :D I have a feeling that our photo posts on Roswell will look pretty similar ;-) Anyway, I think you had an amazing month and can’t wait to read about your first time in Mexico. It was great to catch up with you and Dave again!

    • Lauren
      September 18, 2013
      Reply

      It’s funny because Dave *hated* Tombstone and thought it was the lamest thing in the world. I thought it was amazing and so much fun! :-)

  5. George
    September 17, 2013
    Reply

    Agreed Bev. I love being semi settled (I have a flat but I’m working 50% of the time travelling 50%) road trips are awesome. America looks great.

    • Lauren
      September 18, 2013
      Reply

      I definitely feel like my travels will evolve into me spending months in a place as opposed to a few days. I’m craving a base and bit of normality for a while! :-)

  6. Catherine @TheGoFever
    September 18, 2013
    Reply

    Love your monthly summaries! While last month was indeed crazy intense and I can’t wait to read about your adventures, a month of staying put and just enjoying life definitely sounds good too! Enjoy your time in Mexico!

    • Lauren
      September 18, 2013
      Reply

      Thank you, Catherine! :-) I am loving not having to move and have never been happier.

  7. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas
    September 18, 2013
    Reply

    Insane month, indeed! I absolutely love the American SW and the long drives – I took my Spanish boyfriend and he STILL talks about Tombstone!

    • Lauren
      September 18, 2013
      Reply

      I love it too! I thought nothing could top my summer in the Pacific Northwest but I think the Southwest may have just won :-)

  8. Raymond Waruhari
    September 18, 2013
    Reply

    It seems that you had a very busy month. I wished I listened to your interviewed on BBC radio. You are such an inspiration to many!

  9. DebbZie
    September 18, 2013
    Reply

    What a journey! :D
    Looking forward to read your stories about those beautiful places you’ve been to lately

    • Lauren
      September 18, 2013
      Reply

      I think I’m going to have to stop forcing myself to write chronologically because at the moment I’m still writing about what I was doing in February! It’d be next year before I got around to writing about the road trip…

  10. Ashley @ A Cute Angle
    September 18, 2013
    Reply

    You live such an amazing life!

    • Lauren
      September 18, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Ashley! I promise it’s not as glamorous as it sounds — I often have weeks of 12 hour days chained to my laptop while gazing longingly at the beach :-)

  11. Christine
    September 18, 2013
    Reply

    Yay so glad I got to see you when you were in NYC and that we were able to turn your mind around on the city and the USA :)

    • Lauren
      September 18, 2013
      Reply

      So glad I got to see you too! Next time, South America, RIGHT?

  12. Elly Earls
    September 19, 2013
    Reply

    Wow, what a crazy month! How did you fit all that freelancing work in amongst all your travelling? I must learn some productivity tips from you!

    • Lauren
      October 7, 2013
      Reply

      Hi Elly. Well, I didn’t sleep much, and didn’t have much downtime either! Most of my time in NYC was spent in front of my laptop, sadly, with me leaving just for mealtimes. I’m a lot happier now I’ve stopped moving and aren’t trying to cram lots of exploring into my days!

  13. Jimmy
    September 19, 2013
    Reply

    Your month sounds fantastic. Loving the ‘cheesy’ UFO pic, it’s gotta be done, im sure there were more :). I like the sound of your book… can you tell more? oooooh whats it about? when is it coming out? who’s publishing it?… massive congratulations on that :)

    • Lauren
      October 7, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Jimmy! It’ll be a guide to how not to travel the world, and feature a collection of my biggest misadventures — most of which I’ve never shared on Never Ending Footsteps! :-)

  14. the lazy travelers
    September 20, 2013
    Reply

    oh man. posts like this make us feel REALLY guilty about how much we’ve neglected visiting the entire midsection of our home country… gorgeous photos!

    • Lauren
      October 7, 2013
      Reply

      It makes me feel bad for ignoring the US for so long! What a fantastically diverse country! I’ve left with so much more I want to see.

  15. Stephanie @ Pearlsandpassports
    September 22, 2013
    Reply

    I think you have set a world record for overland travel Lauren! I love how you changed your mind on NYC, mayeb e I could change my mind about Kuala Lumpor if I travelled there again?
    I love the pic of you and the tiny crater, you are so lucky to travel with a good photographer! You should see the photos that my travel friends took of me at Angkor Wat….

    • Lauren
      September 24, 2013
      Reply

      I really did — hopefully, there’ll be no more fast-paced travel for a while now! Dave always gets angry because I ask him to take hundreds of photos so I know there’ll be a good one in there :-)

      I often change my mind about a place when I visit a second time, though I also didn’t think much of KL.

  16. Roy Marvelous
    September 25, 2013
    Reply

    Good for you Lauren! Must feel amazing to have a base again. And congrats on the gigs :)

    • Lauren
      October 3, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Roy! It feels SO good to be settled and have no obligations to go explore :-)

  17. Michael @ Suitcase Stories
    October 1, 2013
    Reply

    We know the exact feeling of having a month to just relax after a chaotic period. Currently having 4 weeks in London after a crazy 2 months in Europe where we saw 9 countries, with no stop being for more than 4 days!

    • Lauren
      October 3, 2013
      Reply

      I always struggle to travel slowly through Europe because it’s so easy to hop along to the next country, and there’s so much I still want to see.

      Enjoy your rest!

  18. Barry @ Worldly Nomads
    October 4, 2013
    Reply

    Know how you feel Lauren, we moved non stop for a year and a bit, and have stopped in Scotland for three months now and loving it! Plus, it makes you appreciate getting on the road again, rather than it being a hindrance! We’re going to Japan in January and because we haven’t moved for a while, the anticipation is huge!

    • Lauren
      October 7, 2013
      Reply

      I think three months is my limit at the moment — after that, I’m always desperate to explore new places!

  19. Amanda @ Farsickness
    October 9, 2013
    Reply

    Wow. I feel a little (a lot) ashamed to admit this, but I had no idea half the stuff you posted about existed in my own country. I desperately need to go out west when I’m back! Lovely photos and good luck in Mexico :)

    • Lauren
      October 19, 2013
      Reply

      It’s ok, I’ve seen such a small amount of England — and I’ve never visited Wales, Ireland or Scotland! It always feels a lot more exciting to be exploring a different country to me, rather than home.

  20. Bill DeGiulio
    December 16, 2013
    Reply

    Wow, busy month. You deserve a break. New York and Montreal are great but the southwest US is something special.

    • Lauren
      December 18, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Bill! The Southwest ended up being one of my favourite regions of the world :-)

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