Last summer was a summer of beginnings and endings. The reason simply being finishing my degree in London and starting a masters degree in Edinburgh. And what’s between the two? A summer (or at least two weeks) full of adventures that also includes a first-time visit to the USA!
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First time travelling to the USA
This year my family and I decided to organise a “big” trip since this is probably going to be one of our last “family” adventures before my brother and I move on to separate ways. One of the most wanted destinations of the three of us was the USA, especially New York for the skyscrapers and Orlando for the theme parks. Short after that, we were on the search for flights and accommodation. In the meanwhile, two more people joined our small group: my boyfriend Christos and his mother.
Brief timetable of pre- and post-trip activities
Late January: Flights booked
Early February: Accommodation booked
Early March: New York and Orlando Lonely Planet travel guides arrive
Late March: Exams
April: Visa application and interview, preparation of the initial plan of activities (the final one differed very little)
May – Mid-June: Final Year Individual Project (my undergraduate thesis), buying advance tickets for the various attractions and museums
Late June: Project presentation, moving out, trip preparation, etc.
Early July: USA trip
Mid-July: Sleeping all day
Late July – Early September: Trip post-processing (i.e. looking through the photos, categorising them, preparing content), planning my next adventure (details to be confirmed soon), moving to Edinburgh, starting a new degree!
In search of flights and accommodation
I could spend ages discussing how we concluded on the flights that we booked and the accommodation that we chose. I could list all our options and explain my reasoning in detail. However, I won’t do this as you probably won’t stay for long here. Instead, I will just list some of our requirements (I will publish a more detailed article with more tips soon – so watch this space).
- Leaving and arriving at the airport during daytime (only exception when arriving in Cyprus)
- Having a rather long layover than a short one (at least 4 hours) when changing airports and/or flight companies.
- Preferring to pay a bit more for the transatlantic flights (but up to a sensible amount).
- Preferred a hotel than an apartment to be closer to the city centre/theme parks
- Staying in a hotel in Midtown, and certainly not in Times Square (too noisy there) – for New York
- Having free in-room wi-fi (many hotels – especially well-known chains don’t provide that unless you are a member of their loyalty programs and book via their website which is often more expensive than other booking sites).
Fast-forward to July and everything (and everybody) is ready for the “big trip”. Personally, I wasn’t ready for that, I still had so many things to do beforehand but I am never ready so let’s move on.
Continue reading this travel diary here: Part I – First time in New York City
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