Give space to opportunity and strange things will happen.
I’m a control freak. There’s no denying of it. At first, I planed every second of my trips. We’ll until I didn’t :) In June 2017, I came back to Zurich on Monday, and I was pretty burned out. I figured I needed a week of vacation. So I booked a one-way ticket to Milan for the next day. I decided that I wanted to be back in a week. The next day I grabbed my backpack and headed to the airport. The rest? I’ll figure it out on the way.
After two days of wandering around Milan, I decided to travel by train towards Rome and stop in a few places along the way. At that point, the fun started.
Trains in Italy. We’ll maybe you should plan that part of the trip There are apparently three train companies in Italy. So I booked a ticket with one company and checked the schedule. All right, the fastest train goes in 30 min.
Then I couldn’t find the train carriage I had the ticket for. I asked the conductor for help.
By the time I realized what was going on the train, I had the ticket for left. In an hour, I finally boarded the correct train. A few minutes after departure, I realized that I forgot to stamp my ticket. Oh shit. By the way, in Italy, the train staff is really strict about stamped train tickets. You can get a pretty big fine if they catch you with an unstamped ticket.
Out of fear, I jumped off the train at the next station to stamp the ticket. In the meantime, the train left :) Luckily, I took my backpack off the train Anyway, after one hour of waiting in the middle of nowhere, another train for Turin arrived.
Despite going over a drug territory in Turin, the city trip was pretty nice. That day I realized that I had too much luggage with me. I kind of cursed at every gram I had to carry. In the future, I should at least be careful what I put into my backpack.
The next day I visited Genova then stopped at the seaside for two days. I arrived at this random place on the coast. There was no one at the hotel, and the owner left a note:
This is where things got interesting. My plan was to take the 2h walk back to the train station. There were no buses on Sunday when I was returning. All fine but on the first evening at the seaside, I managed to get lost. Night and everything. OK, I also didn’t want to check the map. I mean, I never get lost, right? Anyway, after a few years of wandering the world, I did get lost.
The result of getting lost? I managed to over walk my leg, and an old wound opened up. Crap. Bad shoes, I guess. All right, I’ll have to take the rest of the day if I didn’t want to spend the rest of my Italy trip at a hospital. In the end, I got myself an overpriced cab to the train station.
After visiting Pisa and Florence, I ended up in Rome, where I spent the last two days. No unwanted surprises here. Rome part of the trip actually went through without a hiccup. After a week of getting lost, I headed back to Zurich.
Before the trip to the USA, I was already on the road for a few days. I had to stop for a meeting in Frankfurt and then get to Zurich. After two weeks of the USA, I was supposed to go directly to Geneva to start my internship. So yeah, I had to travel with the gear for those three months as well. But now I travel light. Because I’m a minimalist ;) So I really had with me the bare minimum. I traveled to the US with less luggage than my colleges who were going just to the US for two weeks.
After a week of shooting rockets in the middle of the desert, I had seven more days to kill. So I decided to visit a few places in the US. We were in New Mexico state, so I had to somehow get to Boston.
For some reason, the airline wouldn’t accept my credit card. Luckily I had a US friend that lent me the cash to purchase my ticket to Boston. Yeah, I bought the ticket in the evening and boarded the flight the next morning. Timing. Well, I didn’t know till the last moment when I’ll be free so :)
The plan was to visit a friend in Boston then head down the East coast. I gave my friend a heads up, but we pretty much agreed just to meet. In the end, the short visit turned into a full-day tour. Before boarding my bus, I stopped in a park in downtown Boston for a quick dinner and had to protect my food.
Pro-tip: Squirrels want to eat your food.
Later in the evening, I arrived in New York. The first day and a half started really nice. I met with another friend and went for a few meetups. Then I came back to my hostel and found someone else belongings in my room.
Am what? I always pick the private room, so I missed the fact that the hostel sold me a room with two beds. On the first night, I had the room for myself. So I assumed everything was normal. The hostel manager didn’t give a shit. So I decided to go to another place. I had a pretty stressful day and needed some “alone” time to cool down. The new place was another story, but I had my own room there. OK, more of a container
On my way to the new place, the subway broke down for like 30 minutes. But at that point, I didn’t mind anymore. Later I figured out that the hostel I was staying on the first night in NY had really shitty reviews. I made a mistake — lesson learned.
The next day started with running around New York and buying a plane ticket back to New Mexico. Yeah, I still couldn’t use my credit cards. Apparently, you have to have a USA phone, a USA credit card, or ask an agent to book a ticket for you if you are from Europe. Total shit show. Anyway, I learned it the hard way. I barely caught my bus to DC in the evening.
Why not book the hotel at the last moment, right? I arrive in DC late at night, and I walk to my hotel. I enter a really nice hotel lobby with my bag of junk food in one hand and a cold drink in the other. All sweaty and sports sneakers. To my excuse. The hotel looked worse on pictures Anyway I come to the reception and ask to check-in.
Well, my jaw dropped when I came to the hotel “around” the corner. Portier opened the door :) I stayed pretty much in the center of DC for free. Stay was pretty cool except for the three am a fire drill. Can’t complain of adventures, though.
The rest of the trip went fine. Last stop in Richmond. Then flight from DC to New Mexico then back to Europe. After 5 flights and one long train ride, I collapsed to my bad in Geneva at 19:00 and slept like a baby till the next morning. Then I started my internship the next morning.
In 2019 I returned to the US with Slovenian scouts. The trip was fully planned. It was a bit weird, but I traveled with a group of 200, so detailed planning was unavoidable. Though planed travel was quite cool, we were able to see a lot of things that, as a solo traveler, you can’t. The trip was still full of hiccups and surprises — more on that on the blog.
Well, both. I prefer to travel to a few places every year and plan out most of the trip. But I have to jump into the water from time to time. To go somewhere just based on the inspiration. Sure the planed travel will be full of experiences. But the unplanned trips oh boy.
Sure, most of the above stories sound a bit dumb. They were soooo much out of my comfort zone, … Well, they allowed me to grow tremendously. Sure unplanned travel costs slightly more. But if that’s the price I’m paying to disable the control freak in me for a bit. It’s worth every penny.