By Jess Blissitt

Although this may be a bit of an unconventional post, this is how I managed my solo travel trip, and what I took away from each day.

29th April 2022 – Miami

  • Fly from Philadelphia (PHL) to Miami (MIA)1:36pm -- 7:14pm (American Airlines)
  • 8pm – Check into Hostel – Miami Generator via Airbnb

Miami- Checking in was quite easy, I already had my boarding pass done, and when I reached Miami I noticed the heat, the hot sweltering heat, the kind that sticks to you. It was delightfully insufferable, and it would have annoyed me if it weren’t a kind of relief from the lashing winds of Philadelphia. Looking back, what I take from this day, is that nothing will go to plan. In fact, everything that can go wrong, will!  The best way to stay calm is to accept that fact. Yet, it also was not that stressful because I was only letting myself down, and I was pretty understanding. Both of my flights ended up being delayed but looking out at the Atlantic Ocean with the bright beam of a buzzing Miami skyline, I felt nothing but free and excited.

1st May 2022 -West Palm Beach

  • Bus from Miami Intermodal Station 7.30am – West Palm Beach 9.30am
  • Check in at 3pm – La Quinta Inn by Wyndham West Palm beach – Florida Turnpike

West Palm Beach- weirdly enough, I was expecting more, but it was just a load of shops, so instead I decided to relax in the hotel. Especially as I was dealing with bad sunburn from Miami Beach. I found a foreign sun cream that clearly wasn’t of a high enough SPF, and the hotel I had chosen was off an interstate, crawling with lizards the size of my arm, but there was nothing else to do. I felt like a failure for choosing this location, and then I realised it was my turn, my expectations, my money. I could spend my time however I wanted to and would continue to treat myself with kindness on this trip.

2nd May 2022 – Orlando

  • Bus to Orlando 6:55AM – 10:35AM
  • Universal Studios
  • La Quinta by Wyndham Orlando Universal Area

Orlando - Luckily, my bus to Orlando wasn’t delayed and I got there swiftly, checking into my hotel by 11, and arrived at Universal Studios around 12. What a sight! And the first place I did not feel entirely alone, there was so much to see and do! I only paid to go to one of the parks, but it was worth it. There were more than enough things to do, and the food was affordable. Also, if you go through the ‘single riders’ queue the wait times are a lot shorter! Surprisingly, my favourite part was dining in the Leaky Cauldron. It looked like scenes from the Harry Potter books had come to life! What a day!

3rd May 2022 – Savannah

  • 4am start from Orlando – 4am – 7.30am in Jacksonville
  • 9am Jacksonville, Fl – Savannah, GA 12.05pm (Midday)
  • Overnight Stay in Savannah, GA @ Red Roof Inn PLUS+ & Suites Savannah

Savannah surprised me the most. First, it was so warm I had to do a [bus/trolley] tour because I couldn’t possibly visit all the historical sights without dying of dehydration. The city was just so alive, so green, so architecturally beautiful. It was the most harmonious display of humans and nature cohabitating. For example, the roads had been built around the tree trunks, and long gnarly branches were a pleasant contrast to the ‘Rainbow Row’ houses in Charleston, SC. I try to think why I loved it so much, and I think it's because it mainly felt alive to me, a life that filled my lungs and body with a new kind of energy. Savannah was unexpectedly my favourite spot, and I would recommend it to anyone studying along the East Coast.

5th May – Charleston, SC

  • Train to Charleston Station, SC – 7.35am – 9.08am
  • Overnight stay in Charleston @ Comfort Inn & Suites Convention Centre

Charleston was a little hard to reach, and staying in the centre was around $300/night, so I ended up staying in North Charleston and taking taxis to the center. I didn’t know much about the area but from a friendly talk with my taxi driver and a friend studying at the University of Charleston I was able to find some great things. The City Markets are located on Meeting Street and Church Street, and they are filled with loads of handmade creations and southern food to try. If you venture a bit further on Church St and turn left on Tradd St, you’ll reach a very colourful set of houses called ‘Rainbow Row’ which are known for their bright pastel colour. It was very warm when I visited Charleston, but the delicious food and amazing sights were worth it!

7th May – Charlotte, NC

  • Bus from Charleston Station to Charlotte 10.00am – 5.35pm
  • Overnight Stay in Charlotte @ Charlotte Marriott City Center

Charlotte was beautiful. Entirely walkable, but with all its sporting arenas centralized in a small area. Filled with interesting facts, and named after King George V’s wife, Queen Charlotte, I would’ve liked to have had more than one day there. It’s the home of the NASCAR hall of fame, and there a lot of long streets full of different eateries. I visited the first Presbyterian Church, a settler’s graveyard, and hopped on the airbus that took you around the city center border.

Things to Consider-Transport

Buses – If you’re okay with being a bit squashed in, possibly crammed into a small space with the friendliest strangers that you will ever meet, then this is perfect for you. Bus prices are usually half the cost of travelling via Amtrak. However, take into consideration that the journeys will be as time consuming as if you were driving the car yourself. For example, today I am leaving Charleston, SC at 10am, yet I will not get to my next destination, Charlotte, NC, until 5pm. You might question why somebody would want to do that; wouldn’t it be better to simply get return flights from Miami? But travelling by bus has been a massive eye opener and gave me a real feel for the people beyond the smiling tourists. There is always some other lone traveller like myself, which I find some comfort in. I took buses on my trip, and I know it saved me a lot of money.

Trains- Although trains are quicker, and more spacious, the prices are often impossible. They do change often, but when I originally checked the prices, they seemed ridiculously expensive! While a bus trip is less expensive, you are more likely to get to places on time if you take the train. If you have a strict schedule, or a flight to catch, I recommend the train!

On Monday, I am sadly flying home to England. I could take a bus from New York that would get me to Philadelphia at 11am, but that would only leave me with 4 hours to get my suitcase and race to the airport! Although this may be more than enough time, I couldn’t stop thinking of all the things that could go wrong. So I ended up changing my bus to a train that will get me to Philadelphia at 9am, giving me an extra 2 hours to prepare and check into the airport. Buses might be cheaper, but trains are a better use of your time.