New York: the city that never sleeps

Because my connecting flight in New York was full, I got the chance to stay over a night in one of Worlds most awesome cities, and receive flight credit, food and a hotel at the same time.

I then called up one of my friends living in the city, who drove me around the whole city, visiting clubs, shops and restaurants until the next morning when my flight went.

Even though I have been several times in New York before, I had never experienced the city this way. New York must be one out of a few cities where you can go shopping for shoes at 5 o´clock in the morning, so it was the perfect city to have an involuntary stopover for a night.

Being a tourist in Washington DC

Washington DC
On my flight to Washington DC I looked up the city in my book “Turen går til USA”, and was really fascinated about some of the information the book gave me: Washington DC has been the capitol of the United States since 1790 as the politicians decided to “cut out” 100 square miles by Potomac River, which is the border between north and south. The capitol city was named after the first president of the US George Washington, and was supposed to become a modern city, with architecture drawn by the French2010-04-28 16.06.06 architect Pierre L’Enfant. Today, the city stay the same as it was in the 18th century, with famous buildings as the monument, capitol building and the White House.


Almost everyone walking around by The Mall (the area between the monument and Capitol Building) for the first time will have a feeling of being there before. There are so many places famous places that have been shown in numerous movies and TV-shows, making them easily recognizable for any tourist walking around in the city. When walking there nine years after my family made a house exchange for one month in 2001, all the things that I did, said and thought while I was there, came to my mind again. Staying at Hi-Hostel Washington DC in the city center, I had great opportunity of seeing the White House, the Capitol Building, the Reflection Pool and Chinatown, as well as several of the free museums of the Smithsonian Institute. Two days was enough for me to see most of the city, and get a new passport at the Royal Norwegian Embassy.

General Packing Tips for Backpacking

It is usually when you are already out traveling that you find out what you really should have packed with you on your trip. Sometimes you find out that you have packed too much and have to send things home, and other times you have to keep looking for things that are hard to find in the places you travel (eg. sunscreen in Africa). I have provided a list of some small things that are not all too obvious but can make your travel a lot easier:

First Backpacking Trip
My clothes, computer and some toiletries was all I had with my on my first trip. I wished I could’ve packed all over again..

Must have things that you cannot travel without: 

  • your passport with visas
  • flight tickets
  • credit cards
  • your phone

Highly recommended to have:

  • Backpack: try to find one that feels good on your shoulders. The size should fit the style you are travelling: are you backpacking for several months, I would keep it as small as possible (mine is 45l) to be able to carry wherever you go.
  • Daytrip bag/backpack: a small backpack to keep you valuables, a bottle of water and maybe a book or towel to bring on the beach? This would then also be your hand luggage while flying.
  • Shoes/sandals: I usually bring a pair of comfortable jogging shoes and a pair of Hawaianas sandals. Shoes can take up a lot of space, and a lot of the time you will see them hanging outside my backpack.
  • Travel adapter: Make sure to find a compact one which can adapt both ways in every country you go.
  • Head lamp: Electricity is never as stable when traveling as it is when being back home in Norway and sometimes you even find yourself being in a place simply without electricity. A headlamp is always useful when traveling.

I would also reccomend bringing your own selection of hygiene things (mine is a toothbrush, antibac, washing detergent a small first aid kit, toilet paper, mosquito repellant and sunscreen). You pick what you need and not all what you have at home.

Good to have: 

  • Long Johns/”ullundertøy”: These take up little space, will keep you warm underneath your clothes and are almost self cleaning. Leave them out to breath and they will be good for another few days of sweating! A fleece is also good and light in places where it can get extra cold.
  • Compression dry sacks: This are genious for recuding the volume in your backpack. They also help you keep your stuff dry and organized.

    The screwdriver for sunglasses in my Swiss army knife is priceless
  • Padlock:  Most hostels provide lockers, but not padlocks. If you buy a cable lock you can also use this to secure your backpack.
  • Guidebook: Lonely Planet provides some excellent guidebooks for most destinations. Are you going somewhere new? Then the Lonely Planet book will become your best friend on the trip.
  • Travel towel: is not the same as a regular beach towel. The microfiber versions take up little space, dries fast and collect less dirt than the regular towels.
  • Silk sleeping bag: They weigh little, are good to have at dirty backpackerhostels or just the night trains/buses along the way.
  • Money belt: For the most sketchy places it can be good to have a money belt where you can keep your passport, credits cards and other valuable things.
  • Duct tape and sewing kit: traveling wears and tears on clothes and equipment and sometimes a hole in a backpack or a tear in your guidebook can worsen quickly if nothing is done to it. A needle, some thread and a roll of tape should be enough to fix most things along the way.
  • Swiss army knife: Countless times people have asked to borrow the wine bottle opener on my Victorinox, but a swiss army knife can become useful in many other kinds of situations along the way.

Useful Links for Travelling Abroad

Visa rules:
Travel advise and visa requirements for Norwegians traveling abroad: link (landsider.no)
Visa requirements for Norwegian citizens: link (wikipedia)
Visa service agency, don’t forget to get 10% with a Kilroy ISIC card: link (visumservice.no)
Travel Vaccination:
Vaccinations reccomended by the Norwegian Istitute of Public Health: link (fhi.no)
Vaccination map: link (vaksinekart.no)
Weather:
Average weather and climate around the world by month: link (weatherbase.com)
YR.no- a weather forecast you can use around the globe: link
Activities:A webpage where you can browse sporting activities on a map: link(Splocs)
A page where you can look for daytrips en route: link (Viator)

Sleep:
Stay at locals for free link (couchsurfing.com)
Airports rated and described: link (sleepinginairports.com)
Hostelworld.com for cheap accomodation: link

Flights:
Wikipedias list of low cost airlines categorized by country: link

Other links for the traveling enthusiast:
An interesting collection of maps putting the world into another perspective: link
Create a map for your around the world trip: link
20 Biggest travel mistakes: link