Trek America - Southern Sun, Flights and Day one

I booked my trek america Southern Sun holiday way back in January, doing a road trip across America has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. It had been on my mind for a couple of months prior to booking it, I would look at there website most days dreaming about going but never doing anything to make it a reality! After Christmas was out the way and I had more money I decided to book it as a birthday present to myself, I remember it so vividly because after I typed in all my details my mouse hovered over the confirm button for at least an hour whilst my stomach filled with butterflies as I built up the courage to finally click confirm! It was scary and I could hardly believe I was going to go through with this. This isn't something I would normally do, I want to travel but the idea of doing it solo terrified me. 

I booked my tour for October, it was the last Southern Sun of the season and it also gave me plenty of time to save up money and grow accustomed to the fact I was going. The months flew by so rapidly and when October arrived I was still numb to the fact I was going to fly all the way to America by myself, me the shy girl! 

I was pretty organised my suitcase was packed a week before, I had all the details I needed in my hand luggage ready to go, so when October 6th came around I didn't have to panic. I had a relaxed morning so when my taxi came to pick me up to take me to the bus station I felt at ease. I said goodbye to my dog by giving him lots of treats because I felt bad for leaving him and waved goodbye to my mum and dad. My friend came to say goodbye to me at the bus station which was a nice surprise. The bus journey to Heathrow airport went so quickly, so when I found myself at the airport with myself and luggage checked in, pass security I was at lost with what to do with myself. I ended up getting something to eat, beforehand the idea of eating alone in a restaurant was such an alien thing to me, but I guess if you can do it for the first time anywhere an airport is a good start. I used to love flying but the idea of it now after hearing too many news reports involving airplanes the idea terrified me, all the worst imaginable things I could think of popped up in my head but also the excited part of me that kept saying 'I can't believe I am actually here.'  

To my surprised the whole experience of catching a plane all by myself went a lot smoother than I could have dreamed off. My plane arrived early so I boarded without any ques, I flew with Virgin Atlantic and the plane was one of the nicest I have ever been on. The only one fault, I was sat on the aisles to the window with an empty seat next to me and a guy next to the window, as the plane took off he was on his phone, having a full on conversation whilst the woman in front of him shouted at him to turn his phone off which he ignored and continued chatting away, after a few more shouts he reluctantly hung up. At the end of the flight I had a left over vegetarian wrap which I put on the seat next to me because I was planning on taking it off the plane with me, as I was stood up ready to leave I turned round and found the guy sat eating my food! He was also one of those I need to go to the toilet every 2.5 minutes types.. I was booked into the hotel I would be meeting everyone in at in the morning. I caught a shuttle there, checked in at this point it was after 8pm and I was feeling pretty tired! My roommate was already in the room so I was pretty nervous, I had spoken to a few people beforehand but had no idea who I was about to meet. My roommate was a 26 year girl from Singapore who had been living in London for the last year and was travelling before she had to go back home and start work. After a chat we both settled down to go to sleep. 


The tour started at 7:30 am so we went down early to have a complimentary breakfast of croissants and coffee. We both spoke about how nervous we were and after checking out we sat waiting for our fellow trekkers to arrive. Unaware there was two trekkers already sat in there and after speaking they both shuffled over to join us, In total there was ten girls and two guys (three with our trek leader) we had nationalities of three people from England, two Australians, a Korean, one person from Switzerland, another from Germany, Singapore, Ireland, Scotland and lastly an American. It was a good mix of people with ages from 19-35. Phil our tour guide introduced himself, about the tour etc. then we spent an hour filling out paperwork, loaded the van before we set of on the road! 

Newark - Philadelphia - Washington DC (230 miles, 370km) 

When you sign up to these kind of trips you know you are going to be spending a lot of time in the van, thankfully the van is comfy and was spacious with the amount of people we had, there is also WiFi in the van which I had no idea about so that was a bonus. As we arrived in Philadelphia with the skyline in the background (which is one of my favourites) and went over the bridge 'Eye of the Tiger' started playing, because if you don't know Philadelphia is famous for the Rocky steps, personally I have never seen Rocky...
Phil dropped us of so we could run all the way to the top of the steps and to check out the incredible skyline, we than ran back down to pose with the Rocky statue in total we was given around twenty minutes at this particular stop before being picked up and driven to and dropped of near independence hall, again we was given around two hours to spend in this area, get something to eat and explore. At this point I knew the tour would be fast paced but this did make me wonder how much time we would spend in places vs. the time it took us to get to them. However, the American on out tour guide reassured us that the really isn't much to do in Philadelphia (apparently.) At this point our group split up some went to look for Philadelphia cheese steaks, whilst others stuck to regular food, after lunch we headed to see the Liberty bell, after watching National Treasure I just kept having flash backs to that film.
The Liberty bell is an iconic symbol of American Independence, the bell was originally from London and commissioned from Lester and Pack with a quote from the bible inscribed onto the bell "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof" on its arrival into Philadelphia on its first ringing it ended up cracking and was recast two times, its famous cracked happened in the 19th century. 

On our way to Washington DC we stopped of at a target, here you have the chance to pick up any last supplies you might need for camping etc. I picked up a cheap pillow here. We then drove to our campsite Cherry hill park, it wasn't what I expected but it was nice, we were shown how to put up the tents which was really easy, although this time around I went into the tent that was the demonstration. Later on we had a meal of stir fry and since it was our first night we all opened up a fortune cookie which was a nice added touch. 

In the evening we drove into Washington DC to see all the memorials and monuments lit up at night, I was so jet lagged at this point I was falling to sleep in the van and just wanted to curl up into a ball. I've been wanting to see the reflecting pool and Washington Monument for ages and lit up at night it was simply beautiful. We climbed up the steps to the Lincoln Memorial, honestly I couldn't quite grasp how huge it was inside!
On the way back down we spotted the place where Martin Luther King Jr made his 'I have a dream' speech.'
We then proceeded to walk along the reflecting pool and up to the Washington monument before we headed back to the van. 

My first day was wonderful, every one was really friendly and nice, I ended up falling asleep to the sound of crickets.

(I am going to try and make my trek america posts as detailed as possible and fit as much in as I can remember, if you have any questions about the tour ask in the comments below and I will do an FAQ at the end.) 

  1. I can't wait to read more! I booked onto a Contiki in Europe over the summer on my own and while I was terrified, it was the best experience ever! Excited to hear about the rest of your time in the US :) xx

    Wander with Laura

  2. I remember you posting about booking this trip- seems like its been pretty amazing! It is something I would love to do, I just couldn't drop myself in a situation with people I don't know though, uni was bad enough haha! Do you think it is something you'll do again in the future?


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