USA ROAD TRIP | TREK AMERICA: PRE DEPARTURE DAY

NORTHERN BLT

PRE DEPARTURE DAY:
Following my arrival by taxi at Newark airport from New York City, I navigated to where the free hotel shuttle buses were, you had to take a tram from the terminal to another area. This was fairly easy, everything was signposted, i'd checked a map of the airport online and I had been to this airport before when I worked in New York in 2011.
I had just missed a transfer but it was only about a 15 - 20 minute wait for the next one, and its always nice to wait in the sun.
By arriving here it also meant I was already in the second state of my trip, New Jersey!
When I arrived at the Crowne Plaza Newark I was pleasantly surprised, the hotel was nice and modern with a large lobby area.
I was a little early for official check in, but the hotel staff were accommodating and happy to check me in early. There was a slight error here, as I had booked my pre departure night's accommodation through Trek America, but the hotel had no record of my booking. After a few phone calls to Trek, who then contacted the hotel and half an hour later, everything was sorted and I got checked into my room. Because of this mishap I ended up with my own room with two double beds, even though I had  booked to share a room to reduce the cost, silver linings and all that!
After getting into the room I met up with another trekker who i'd been speaking to on Facebook and met through the trek live forums, we had rooms opposite each other so again fairly easy. Even though we'd never met before, it felt like we'd known each other for ages, it was nice to not be totally alone on pre departure day.

I had a few more things I wanted to pick up for trek which I hadn't managed to get in NYC, so we got the free shuttle bus from the hotel to Jersey Gardens mall. It is an outlet shopping centre, so I picked up a New York jumper from Abercrombie & Fitch at a great price but by far my best investment here was travel pillow. I got a Samsonite reversible pillow that was a neck pillow and unzipped and folded out into a rectangular square pillow and it is now my go to travel item. It's perfect in the neck shape for in the van and folded out rectangular shape for when we slept in cabins on the BLT.

TOP TIP: I would recommend picking up a travel pillow if you are going on a trek, particularly if its a three week or more trek. The size and practicality of this was prefect and meant I didn't have a large pillow taking up lots of room like lots of others. Definitely go for a reversible one if possible as it saves space and you don't need a second pillow for cabin nights!

Whilst here we both got hungry, so had an early dinner and then waited for the pick up time for the return bus back to the hotel.

TOP TIP: I would also recommend checking out this mall on your pre departure day, great for last minute items you need for trek, if you didn't want to carry everything over in your luggage on your flight. There's also lots of good cheap food options if you don't want to pay the hotel prices, plus with the direct door to door free hotel shuttle why not start your trip with some shopping to get organised.

Spagetti Meatball dinner at Jersey Gardens
After getting back to the hotel we found most of our trekkers having dinner and drinks in the hotel restaurant so it was a great time to start to learn everyones names, relax a bit and get excited for the start of our adventure the next day.We also met some trekkers going on the camping version of our tour, which started on the same day as ours.
After a while I was pretty tired and wanted to get showered and organise my suitcase, due to all the extras i'd bought in the city and at the mall today so myself and the trekker I went to the mall with headed back to our rooms to get some rest. We met another trekker sharing with the trekker in the room opposite me, so we had a quick get to know each other and compared what we had brought with us as none of us had been on trek before, we were all feeling much more relaxed. 
We also discovered that the three of us were doing the Northern BLT and that everyone else on our trek were doing the Grand BLT so we'd be leaving them after three weeks and then the second half of their trek would start. We didn't know Trek America combined trips like this but it works out well as after your trek has finished you still get to see updates on all the exciting things the others were doing. It also explained why we could only find three of us on trek live for our trip as the others were in the Grand BLT group which we couldn't see as we weren't on that.
That's one thing I think Trek America should update online that if different trips are in the same tour bus to let you share a group on the website beforehand. But we all found each other the night before so it was all good!
Bedroom, Crowne Plaza Newark
Bathroom, Crowne Plaza Newark
Let me know if you want anymore information about the pre departure day for trek and what its like,  if you're going on a trek soon, hopefully this puts your mind at ease about the pre departure day process.

TOP TIP: I would highly recommend booking this pre departure night accommodation. A few of our trekkers arrived the morning of the trek. But not having to worry about travelling to the hotel early in the morning, and getting to relax and meet most people the night before was such a huge relief, even if its just so you know you're in the right place.


© CAROLAND

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