I’ve never been a nervous flier, and I can only imagine the stress that may cause some people. However, having a routine helps keep me entertained and relaxed before and during flights. I always pick up a magazine in the airport or something light to read, and I read it before take off. During take off, I normally say a prayer and watch the whole thing through my window. I watch out my window for the first bit, and then I do score study and listen to music. I also never avoid the person sitting next to me. Some brief, quiet small talk is not going to hurt anyone, and I’ve had some of the most memorable and sweet conversations with people next to me. During my last flight, I sat next to a former NHL player that had some great stories and recommendations for my time in Boston.
The megabus from Pittsburgh to New York is such a convenient and cheap option. My number one tip is to spend the extra $7 to reserve your seat. Extra leg room, a nicer view, and not fighting for a seat all make it way worth it. Since the bus ride is fairly long and much more boring than a flight, pack more snacks and reading material than you think you need.
Navigating and Public Transit
I normally brief myself with the transit options or have a plan before leaving of how to get to the place I’m staying. In New York, I generally take a cab as soon as I get off the bus, because I’m way too tired to deal with the subway. In Boston, there is free public transit from the airport. It can take a while to get where you’re going, but it’s generally a comfortable ride. I always get a transit card wherever I go, because I love being able to get to other parts of the city quickly without having to think of how much I need for each ride or getting a cab. Navigating public transit has been a rollercoaster for me though. Boston is very confusing, and New York is really straightforward once you get the hang of it. However, in both places, locals are happy to help you. One day, I was extremely lost coming home from lunch in New York, and the fear of not being able to get home (what if my phone died?!), far outweighed the fear of simply asking someone. Sure enough, they were incredibly helpful, and taught me how to figure things out with a subway map in the future.
Enjoying Yourself in a New Place
When I went to Boston recently, I had an entire day in the city to myself. I thought about what I could do, and originally, I thought…shopping. I got to thinking though, and I could do that anywhere. I certainly did enough of it in New York last time I was there, and Boston had a lot more to offer than shopping. I ended up going on a tour of the freedom trail, eating at a famous local place, and exploring Little Italy. I couldn’t be happier that I spent my time and money having these experiences I couldn’t have had anywhere else. I learned so much on the Freedom Trail, and doing the tour gave me company, even if they were strangers. Eating alone at Beantown Pub and Modern Pastry in Boston gave me a chance to focus on the food (hello cannolis!) and be more in tune with my surroundings. No, I wasn’t eavesdropping on conversations, but I did people-watch and soak in the native accents. At Modern Pastry, the owners and employees were speaking in Italian.
Of course, while traveling alone, you need to have your wits about you and be smart about a variety of things; but it’s always been a worthwhile experience for me. I’ve learned how to really enjoy myself, be self-reliant, and soak in everything around me for what it’s worth. There were honestly times throughout the day where I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.