If you were to go through my wallet at any given point over the past year, you would most definitely find a series of plane tickets, train tickets, hotel keys, parking passes, and a slew of receipts bursting out of it. While my job plays a large part in this, it is mostly my love of traveling that gets the better of me. I yearn to go places, to see the world. I even have a map of the world hung on a wall in my room, and it is a goal of mine to someday have a bunch of flags or pins scattered about it, marking all the places I've been.
While I have yet to start that mapping project, or plaster a bunch of stickers across my suitcase (à la George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life), I have definitely obtained a large number of stories and some excellent travel tips to share with people.
After visiting 23 cities and 14 states in about 12 months time, I honestly can’t tell you how many hotels I stayed in, or how many plane delays I encountered. What I can say, is that out of any city I've driven in, D.C. takes the cake for being the worst. I will take the L.A. traffic and New York taxis any day over the roundabouts in D.C. And nothing against our nation's capital, but I just don't seem to have the best luck visiting (or driving throughout) the city. The best example I have of this is when I visited my parents there at the beginning of the month.
Prior to joining them on this trip, I decided it would be the best (and cheapest) idea to book a train scheduled for 11:05 p.m. on a Friday night. When I purchased the ticket the week before, it seemed to make sense, but after having a very long work week and partying with my friends, I was (needless to say) quite exhausted when I arrived at Penn Station that night.
Even though I practically ran out the door to make it to the station on time, I was not surprised in the least when I found out that my train was delayed 20 minutes. So I waited. And then it was delayed another 15 minutes. "No surprise there," I thought. If you've ever seen someone (or been that someone) waiting at a terminal, sitting on your suitcase, with your chin resting on your hand, that's exactly what I looked like.
The train left about an hour after it was originally scheduled to depart, so of course I instantly fell asleep upon sitting down. I woke up a couple hours later to someone telling me that everyone getting off in D.C. had to move up four cars (what?!). Shuffling my tired self and dragging my suitcase to the required location, I stood there for close to 30 minutes. During that time, a woman yelled at me for maneuvering a suitcase (which wasn't even mine) over her foot, so that another passenger could get by. There were tired teenagers complaining to their parents next to me. There was a woman on the phone with Amtrak, complaining to them because it was seriously the worst train ride she'd ever experienced. So, with all that going on, combined with my lack of sleep, could you blame me for getting off the train one stop too soon? No, you couldn't, right?
Now, here's a travel tip (from experience), DO NOT get off the train at the BWI Airport at 4:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning. There will be no taxis. There will be no sign of intelligent life anywhere. You will be very much alone.
I contacted several cab companies, none of which would come pick me up. Eventually, I had to call my mom and explain to her what had happened. Thankfully, a 24 hour shuttle bus arrived at that exact moment of crying to my mom on the phone. The driver stopped and told me that he could take me to the actual airport, where there were cabs that would take me to my hotel. I hung up on my mom and boarded the bus to find a businessman and a pilot already sitting down.
Even though there were still tears in my eyes, I was feeling so grateful for that shuttle bus, and the cab I eventually got into. I was feeling less grateful after the cab ride came to total nearly $100. But after discussing it with the cab driver, it came to my understanding that the high fare was due to the fact that I had gotten off the train in Baltimore, not D.C. (oops).
So, yes, traveling can seriously be one of the most overwhelming things to ever endure, but one of the lessons I've learned (next to not booking a train ticket scheduled for 11:05 p.m.) is that all the anxiety I have from it can instantly be remedied by having a mini dance party in my room by myself (preferably with a very large glass of wine).
And yes, it's definitely safe to say that I've done that in nearly every hotel room I've stayed in this past year.
Notes about this video:
Copyright © 2019 Christine Drew Benjamin | All Rights Reserved