East Coast USA + NYC July 2013 – Who, what, when, where, why and HOW?

New York City was always a dream. It was almost a dream so big that I didn’t think it would happen for a loooong time.

It was about 6 months before my 21st Birthday when my Mum and I started discussing what I should do for it. For those of you not from New Zealand, 21st birthdays are the biggest birthdays you get and usually involve some sort of giant party or extravagant gift because they mark the end of childhood and the start of adulthood. I’ve never been one for giant parties so I was trying to think of what I could do instead that would be of equal value and excitement. My Mum then said to me, well for my 21st I went on a Contiki around Australia, it was the first time I went overseas by myself and I had a great time. It then dawned on me that my New York dream may in fact be possible. I started researching costs of flights, accommodation, tours, spending money and everything else involved for a trip to New York and I worked out that with the money I had saved previous (In a bank account I had named “Empire State” and had been putting money into every week for 2 years purely for the end goal of going to New York City) was enough to “be” in New York, I just needed the money to “get” to New York. Thus the 21st gift idea was born, I’d ask for flights.

I wasn’t too keen on going all on my own as New York is one of the biggest cities in the world and I didn’t have much solo travel experience, so I thought to myself who would do this with me? Or more importantly who would I WANT to do this with. The answer was obvious from the start, I went through my high school years with a girl from my dance and stage school named Erica and New York was a dream of ours since before I can remember. Unfortunately she has jumped the gun and her family had taken her there for about a week or so the year before. As luck would have it though, Erica was set to be studying in America in 2013. The American summer holidays fall somewhere between May and September and Erica’s 21st happened to fall at the start of June. My mid year study break, also fell around this time and was 3 weeks in length, the perfect amount of time I had calculated that I needed to explore. The planets were in alignment! All I needed was for Erica’s parents to agree to the same deal mine had with the flights.

THEY AGREED. We couldn’t believe it! WE WERE GOING TO NEW YORK. Here’s the photos we took when we were gifted the flights…

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The next year (idea pitched in July 2012, My birthday Feb 2013, Erica’s birthday June 2013, planned trip July 2013) was spent researching the hell out of this city and how we could best spend our time there. We decided on a 6 night tour of the East Coast to start us off and we thought it would be a good chance to see some places and landmarks along the way. The tour included New Jersey, Philadelphia, Niagara Falls, Boston and then finished in New York City. Perfect! We could then spend a whole 2 weeks in Manhattan! For Christmas and my actual birthday I got given travel guides, and adaptor plug and donations from friends and family toward the trip. I’ve now discovered this is the best way to “work the system” as I don’t need any more “stuff” so I just ask everyone for donations. It’s easy for them and convenient for me and we all get something out of it.

Erica and I have very similar personalities but one trait we do not share is the ability to make a decision. I can, she can’t, simple as that, however we are both aware of this and are both okay with it so we made it work the best way we could. Essentially I ended up planning the whole trip which ended up great because I wanted to plan it and Erica wanted someone else to plan it. Bam. Done. I will give credit to Erica though for being a master Broadway ticket buyer, she got us great deals to SIX shows we ended up seeing!

So that’s that. Fast forward a year and we are one week out from leaving on our exciting adventure. Everything is in order and we are all ready to go then BAM. One of the biggest snow storms that the South Island has ever had hits us and Erica (who had come back to NZ to see her friends during the break) was stuck in Queenstown. Her flights kept getting cancelled and there was literally no way out. I spent a lot of these days crying and stressing because I WAS GOING TO NEW YORK WITH MY BEST FRIEND AND NOTHING WAS GONNA STOP ME. FINALLY, the wonderful Air New Zealand staff put Erica on a flight to Auckland (Auckland flights were the only ones leaving Queenstown at this point) and then gave her a connection from Auckland to Christchurch. It seemed a bit out of the way as the NEXT day we were flying back up to Auckland then connecting through to Los Angeles but it was the only way it could be done and they gave the flights to her completely free of charge. I would like to take this moment to thank Air New Zealand for going above and beyond to get my friend to Christchurch. Mad respect.

So there we have it. A year of planning and a week of full on stress and we were on our merry way to the concrete jungle was dreams are made! Let’s break it down…

WHO: Myself and my “twin” Erica!

WHAT: The adventure of a lifetime and the best birthday present ever!

WHEN: June 23rd – July 14th 2013!

WHERE: New York City!

WHY: Because broadway, because travel, because adventure, because why the hell not?!

HOW: Having dreams! Believing that dreams come true! Saving like a mofo! Bargaining and very lovely parents!

Start spreading the news…

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