After much deliberation, I booked my return flight for my summer in the US a few weeks ago. At the time of booking and in the weeks beforehand, there wasn’t any doubt that I’d go – my contract was signed, I’d paid my fees to the visa agency and the Americans had kindly granted said visa – but I was having a dilemma about when to return.
I haven’t got a job lined up post-camp, and there aren’t any prospects at the moment, just decisions to be made, but I still wasn’t sure what to do. I knew I’d be at camp until at least 25 August (it could be a week longer) and my visa expires on 25 September. Last year, there was no doubt in my mind that I’d max it out – my visa expired on 26 September and, like a few of my colleagues, I chose to book a flight home for the evening of 25 September, just in case there were any problems and to make sure that I was out of the US by the expiration of my visa, not on it or after it!
I worked my way around a lot of destinations on my hit list last year, because I wasn’t sure when I’d have the opportunity to return for any kind of holiday, nevermind a month-long trip of my own making. And as a result, I was a bit stumped this year when I gave myself another shot. I didn’t have these worries last year, I just knew for some reason that it’d work out! But last month I found myself doubting that I’d fill the time, or be able to afford it. When it came to decision time, I knew I just had to go for it, so I’m flying home this year on 24 September – I just have to make it back to JFK to be on the plane!
What will I spend my three or four weeks of freedom doing? Well, typically, there’s already a slightly hare-brained, potentially expensive but definitely exciting plan in the works. As with last year, one of my friends from the UK has decided to meet up with me for a couple of weeks – she’ll be in LA for a little while before I meet her, but the idea is that we’ll get together in San Francisco for a few days and then drive up to Seattle, stopping on the way to indulge in some local produce and enjoy the scenery.
At least, that was the initial plan. Somehow, one evening a few weeks ago, my brain exploded with ideas. It started with a “what if…?” and since I made the dangerous discovery that you can fly direct from Seattle to Honolulu and from Honolulu to Vegas… well it all seems a little too perfect. And there we have the current plan: a week or two still to be decided, but following that, it’s San Francisco, drive to Seattle, fly to Honolulu and become the first member of my family to visit, then hop to Vegas for my final few days (bang goes the plan of making my second visit to Vegas one where I have more than zero dollars left to spend!), before hopefully getting a serendipitous flight from Vegas just in time to catch my plane back to London on the same day.
There’s still a lot of planning to do, but lots of time to do it all in: I know from experience that, providing you book at the right time, internal flights can be very cheap, so I’ll be keeping an eye on prices from now on, with a view to booking in August. I’m now throwing the floor open to recommendations: have you been to the places I’ve listed, and are there things I shouldn’t miss when I’m there? I’m on a ridiculous budget, so any deals to be had will be greatly welcomed.
See you in September, western USA!