Hi my name is Shannon (male) I am 28yo.
(this is going to be a long post, so bear with me please)
A bit about what I already know/seen, etc. I've done quite a bit of reading on the forums here there is waaay too much info and not that I don't want to read it but I'll probably die sitting here reading it all and turning into a bony corpse by the time I get done! (ok I'm sarcastically joking
I have travelled mostly when I was a kid, was born/raised in the Bay Area (California, San Francisco/Oakland/Hayward) been to Phoenix AZ and Hawaii once when I was between 8-10yr old then. I flew to the east coast for the first time by myself to NYC as I was going to a deaf-blind confrence there for two weeks got to be immersed by the NYC life the BIG CITY! A year later I graduated from HS right after a work program shortly thereafter I flew with a friend (as I offered to go with her as her fear of flying was definete) to Pensacola, FL then 3 days later we took a bus ride to Richmond Virginia (I'll never do that again, not the same way anyway).
I know how to get around, call up Amtrak/Greyhound link up with city transit as needed as I did this from Redding all the way to Daly City SF California just this past summer toting around my twin sisters so they could meet up with my mom whom was working in the bay area for awhile (11 yr old) and I don't really consider that "travelling" because I took them to a place I grew up and lived for 12 years and commuted there every few months after I moved.
I have also lived in Washington state for almost 5 years and commuted to my hometown regularly where my mom and I now live (hence Hi from S.O.) again, I've been to a lot of places in Washington already because either A) I have family there, or
I've already been there!
(although there are a few places I haven't been, and will be looking into it at a later date).
Ok let me get to the point, I could have and should have done it a long time ago I don't know why I didn't but I've always had the dream of traveling and I'm finally getting to do it but I have some significant challenges (and mind you I don't plan on quitting, but it will make me think twice about even budging (no not budgeting). I haven't worked a real job since 2003 (that's 5 years) and I've vowed to never work for another major corporation (I hate them and they are so freaking powerful taking over the world!) I've decided to become a lifelong volunteer, I joined the Civil Air Patrol and events that transpired in the past year has dwindled my interest in CAP
I wasn't even thinking about traveling until my mom asked me about a particular friend whom I've known on the internet since I was 20yr old and her comment was "why don't you go to Europe?" well a year ago I was going to go, but we had some complications that involved my mom's property so I decided to wait then she asked me again recently and now my brother does not want to go (I'll tell you more about that below, he is/was the reason I was going to EU).
Recently in a discussion between my brother/mom, and because of my disability (I have significant hearing loss which creates a communication barrier even though I can speak fairly well as a normal person) he suggested that I travel the USA first (I haven't travelled since I was 18 (thats 10 years ago) and I liked his idea so much that it makes sense then I could regain/hone my travel skills that compliment my disability and re-stregnthen my feet/legs (I can walk, but my walking distance is greatly reduced at the moment).
My brother being 15 (almost 16) with super inteligence you all would like him too
had this brilliant idea and I like it so much I've decided to delay going to EU for at least a year minimum while I travel the USA/Canada, etc.
I have LOTS of questions, concerns and I'm getting stumped on what/how/where to look for and I have a church friend whom I've left a message for as she works for some kind of major travel company doing worldwide tours and she signs for deaf people (although I am not deaf, I know quite a bit of sign language) and I'm hoping she can answer some difficult travel questions (and perhaps you all can too).
I don't want to divulge in too much personal info because A) not that its NYOB
and really thats not the point and
I don't need pity either, I can do it but I do need some guidance a bit.
I know many of my questions can be answered in some threads already on the forums, and some have already answered some lingering questions but I could not find anything addressing real hardcore questions (besides accomodations, I saw the couchsurfing idea and I'm a bit skeptical about that but hey!). I'm aware of hostels and hotels, unfortunately there does not seem to be any hostels in the southeast/south/southwest part of the USA for some odd reason according to Hostelling International so I'm left with hotels or some kind of accomodations and hopefully someone can point something out.
My mom suggested that I do a 30 day budget plan (I don't plan on coming back for a few years, once I'm done with the USA I'll be going overseas) to at least get started, possibly do a partial plan for the next 15 days after the initial 30 days. Well one of the things I ran into problems was hotels/accomodations I'm not looking for free accomodations because there is no such thing as free, now if we're talking about CHEAP yes I believe there is cheap even if that could mean couchsurfing 1-3 days but I don't consider it free even if it might not actually cost me to stay there is always a cost and all hosts should be thanked regardless of how you thank them (whether buying a gift or doing something for them or a combo of both).
My problem is getting cheap hotel and obviously it seems to be the only way to get a cheap hotel is by getting a tour package as they are able to get and sell lower rates so they can include it into your package for you without paying a truckload. I'm not exactly looking to rent a car everywhere I go either, I'll rely on Amtrak/Greyhound, I'm not on a time limit so time isn't an objection and neither is money to some degree (I'll explain that in a bit) and in the major cities I'll most likely use public bus/tram/streetcar/subway and taxis for tight scheduling/get arounds (or getting to places where bus/train/tram service isn't available). As I said I would be less likely to rent a car, I would rent a car maybe 30% of the time getting to certain towns/attractions easier accessible by car and OUTSIDE the major cities (oh god I hate driving unless its open road pretty much
oh just in case you worry, I do have a driver license issued by the state and have the max liability/comp coverage insurance).
Now as the above implies... how the heck do you get cheap hotels/tours, actually I'm not really so concerned about getting tours as I want to go on my own pace and pick up tours here and there as I want them (probably would cost more to do it this way???) I need to figure this out so I can figure out what my 30 day budget would look like so I can include transpo, meals, lodging and sightseeing/tours.
I unfortunately will be traveling solo most of the time and in some ways this is better as I'm not able to sense full awareness due to my slight vision loss and hearing loss (no I don't have a guide dog, they don't consider me deaf/blind enough to need one but thats debatable). So I will be having a DSLR camera (I read threads about this, and still contemplating getting a P&S but not sure yet) and ofc I'll be bringing my fairly lightweight 17" laptop (surprisingly it weighs less than 10lbs).
I'm not exactly 100% sure where I want to start, but I do know this I'd rather start where its warm and easier to get around (cold/rainy/snowy is harder to get around in) mind you I do expect to see rain even in warm climates during the winter (Florida/Key West anyone?) and then as spring starts to near I'll start working my way up north to get away from the heat (I dislike extremes so I prefer warmth not cold or hot) my problem is I don't want to backtrack if I can help it and unfortunately I can see that I will have to backgrack from time to time.
And don't worry I do plan on seeing my families from time to time, like July my sister's birthday, I'll mark on the map where I last was hop on a plane home stay for a week get back out again by rail/bus/plane to where I left off and keep going.
I'll tell you what my travel goals are: I'd like to see architecture, wildlife that is different in each place I visit, night life, history and some culture (I'm not really into the culture all that much, and depending what kind of history not all that much either). And I'll add a bit of fun in the mix; I don't drink beer I don't really like beer TBH however I don't mind seldom beer tasting and I absolutely do not like wines so I don't really have to worry about that!
I am very internet saavy so I will use the internet to my advantage when/wherever I can get access and hopefully I don't have to pay too much to get it. I'm traveling because it was a dream that I'd see everything I could without leaving any stones unturned. I also said that I would explain my budget and it looks something like this:
$2,000-$2,500/month and I have a $450 stipend that is separate from that budget for my own stuff (movies, junk, website hosting/email sync service and NNTP/Newsgroup (don't ask me to explain that right now
) whatever or things I need and $200 of that is going towards a bill until paid off (hopefully in July of '09) so I really only have $250 of it).
I'm told that I should be able to go where I want to go in a whole month (reasonably!!!) on $2k even if that means I don't see the whole state in that entire month (unless its really small) and then I'll just continue to visit that state until I have nothing left to see.
So what do you all think, can tell me??? Thanks!