First-Time Traveler: Finishing an East Coast tour in Washington D.C.

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The first time I traveled thousands of miles away from home was three years ago. In my 20-odd years, I had never left the country until my trip to study in Taiwan.

With a poor grasp on Mandarin, no where to stay for my two-month study and still awaiting an acceptance letter from a local university, I bought my airplane ticket anyway. My dad was excited for me to visit his hometown, Taipei, but concerned that my answer to his many travel questions was “I don’t know.”

I really didn’t know what I was going to do for lodging and how to navigate around, but my want to have an adventure made not knowing okay.

And although this East Coast trip was a lot more “local” and better planned than my overseas trip, my travel buddy and I had the same desire for adventure — to explore new surroundings and experience its culture.

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First-Time Traveler: Touring Philadelphia landmarks






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Just when we thought the weather couldn’t get any nicer, it
did. Philadelphia was in the mid-50s to mid-60s all day, perfect weather to go
jacket-less and sit in the open for a double decker bus tour.

 

We used our Philadelphia CityPass for the Big Bus and
Trolley Works tours, which took us to many of the city’s coveted sites -
Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Betsy Ross’ House and the likes. Our tour
guide gave us information on all of these landmarks, plus tidbits about local
architecture, outdoor artwork, etc.

 

Best of all, the hop on, hop off tour took us to the sites
in the CityPass booklet – all except the aquarium. It was nice to be lazy for
once and let the bus take us everywhere – even back to our hotel (one of the
stops) – after six days of constant walking. 


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First-Time Traveler: Hunting for pizza on the last days in New York






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Leading up to this trip, New York was like a fairy tale. The
city, in my head, was constructed by word-of-mouth tales — rumors of sites,
sounds, lifestyle and, oh, yes, even the large subway rats was a part of the
imagination.

 

For my travel buddy, I believe his idea of the city was
built around hot dogs and pizzas.


To satisfy his love for these foods, we
squeezed in many searches to find the illustrious street dogs and New
York-style pizzas for our last two days. It made me laugh every time we were at
a site and he would turn to me to ask, “Are you hungry?” This just meant he
was.


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First-Time Traveler: Crossing over to fast-paced New York

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As a Californian frequently visiting family in Wichita, Kan., I’m always fascinated by how laid back the lifestyle is there. You can park at a green light for several minutes and no one will honk. Everyone takes their time in going about their day. No one’s in a rush to do anything.

As a Californian, it would drive me crazy. I needed to get things done quickly because I was always in a rush to get somewhere. So you can imagine I had to learn patience every time I visited.
I used to think California was fast-paced, but how wrong I was. New York blows the Golden State out of the water. Everyone is always in a rush, honking is frequent and it’s very overwhelming, especially for us tourists. My travel buddy says it best, “It’s fast-paced and the most complicated place I’ve ever been.”


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First-Time Traveler: Walking America’s history in Boston

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My travel buddy and I arrived in Boston at 8 a.m. today. I can’t say that we were very enthusiastic to go anywhere yet because we were so tired. 

But the moment we stepped out of Logan Airport, both of us were awakened by the frigid weather. It was about 28 degrees outside, a temperature I don’t ever recall experiencing in Los Angeles. 
Before the trip, we used Yahoo! Travel to map out the locations of the sites we wanted to see. I typed up an itinerary for hotel and transportation for each city, while my travel buddy put together a very intricate (and extremely impressive) spreadsheet that outlined each site we wanted to visit (down to the hours of operation, addresses and descriptions). Needless to say, we were very prepared.

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First-Time Traveler: Travel without breaking the bank

I’ve been counting down the days when I will finally step foot in Boston, where my small adventure begins. I have a little more than 18 hours before I board my flight from Los Angeles International Airport.

From the start, my travel buddy and I have been on a mission to save as
much as possible. We’ve been searching the Internet for hours on end to
find the best prices to travel.

Lucky
for us, people don’t really like traveling to the East Coast during the
winter, especially if there are looming threats of winter storms.
However, from reading several travel guides, most tourists are willing
to brave harsh weather when it’s major holiday traveling (ie. Christmas and New Year’s). It seems that Valentine’s Day isn’t as big a hit.
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First-Time Traveler: Any suggestions for Boston, NYC, Philly and D.C.?

I’ve always had the adventure bug. As early as I can remember, I was the daring one among my siblings who was quick to venture away from mom’s side to explore my surroundings. I loved observing, experiencing firsts and just plain going. Needless to say, I got lost a lot.

And although I love travel, my wallet and I have never seen eye-to-eye. I guess you could say I love the idea more than my passport or “Places I’ve Been” map can show for.

Lucky for me, I’ve built up a little time and money to take a quick trip somewhere. So, I’ve decided to visit the East Coast — Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., more specifically. These are all places I’ve longed to experience in the United States.

A travel buddy and I will be there from Feb. 11 to 20. We are starting in Boston (one day), making our way down to New York City (four days), then Philadelphia (one day) and finishing in Washington, D.C. (two days).

Any seasoned travelers have any suggestions or tips?