There and back again: Lessons in trip-taking

I have returned today from two days in southern California visiting friends. I made the trip entirely by myself, relying on the internet and my friends’ hospitality to make the trip successful.

I have come away with several points of advice and interest:
1. Book plane tickets early, because they will be cheaper. Also, look for special discounts or promotions from lines like Southwest and Jet Blue.

2. It is possible, despite appearances, to travel *without* government issued photo ID. I made the trip with just my Stanford ID; however, they really don’t like it so you’re better off with a driver’s license (which most people have) or a passport.

3. Buses: Buses are amazingly cheap, but they have the disadvantage of being a less smooth ride than a train or subway and they also take a long time. However, I traveled 25 miles by bus through cities I’d never been to, all for the cost of $1.10. Admittedly it took three times as long as driving would have, but the point is really that you don’t need a car or lots of money, just the internet to tell you which line to take and where to catch it and get off.

4. The internet/Google: I love Google. I feel as though any practical information I could ever need is somehow accessible on Google. It helped me find shuttle services and public transportation, and find maps of where I was going (maps.google.com beta). I love being able to look up price quotes and make reservations for flights and shuttles online, and I think public transit trip planners are absolutely wonderful, e.g. www.511.org for the Bay Area.

5. Despite the wonders of the internet, this trip was also an exercise in the value of talking to a real person. Try it today: pick up the phone and call a friend, call support, call a company for hours or inventory or purchases. Maybe it is less convenient but it can actually be easier to make sure you get exactly what you want, how you want it.

In general I had fun, and it was good to see old friends. It was also good to get a taste of life at other colleges, to remind myself that the world can be different from life at Stanford. Finally, I also obtained a sense of independence: traveling by varied modes of transportation gives me confidence and the knowledge that if necessary, I can accomplish things and get places with my own knowledge, energy, time, and money. Not a bad feeling, over all.

Comments 1

  1. spamchang wrote:

    hm plane? i used the rideshare on craigslist, but that’s more risky for a single college female than for a single college male. rides might be found on su.market for better safety. but they still take 5+ hrs.

    511.org is great :) back to real school now -__-;

    Posted 21 Feb 2005 at 14:06

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