A Short, Minimalist-Inspired Visit to Silicon Prairie
My younger brother and I took a trip to Kansas City and Manhattan in Kansas State to visit my older brother for the weekend. We packed three days and two nights’ worth of clothes into a couple backpacks and flew economy, having boarded a connecting flight from LAX to IAH to MCI. It was an awesome trip—and I only had to miss one day of work.
We bought basic economy tickets to Kansas City a month ago for $100 each from United Airlines—I found this deal after signing up with updates from Skyscanner for the best-priced flight from LAX to MCI.
Kansas City and the World War I Museum
We came in at 9:00 AM CT exhausted, having travelled all night/morning and barely getting a chance to shut our eyes—we probably only slept for a total of a couple hours each. Since my older brother lives in Manhattan, Kansas, he rented a car and a hotel in the city for the day so we could explore the local attractions while visiting.
Our first stop was at the World War I museum. It was fascinating to see the devastation left behind by the terrors of war. We walked through the halls looking at World War I replicas of items regularly used: toothbrushes, shaving blades and foot powder. Weapons from different countries were lined up beside one another according to type of weapon. A short description below each items gives me the origin. Germany, French, American—all the weapons look similar, but have subtle differences that identify foreign weapons from those locally made. Replicas of tanks, mortars, cannons, and medical vehicles were placed as center attractions for each room. The view from the top of the building over looked the entire city. Kansas City is photogenic.
The Little Apple
We grabbed some food and headed to our hotel, Doubletree, ready for our first full night’s sleep of the trip. The next morning, we checked out of our hotel and grabbed a rental to take to my brother’s apartment in Manhattan. We drove two and a half hours out of the city and to my brother’s apartment, passing by long stretches of plains, farms and grazing cows. The air tasted crisp, a refreshing change from the smog-filled skies of Los Angeles. The roads were clear of any traffic, making it an exceptionally pleasant surprise away from the hustle and bustle in California.
My older brother took us on a short tour of Fort Riley. He showed us how self-sustaining most bases are, like this one. He said he considered living at the base, but those that opt for an apartment off-site receive greater compensation for their military service—considering how much he’s paying for his two-bedroom apartment, it’s well worth it when compared with housing prices in LA.
I thoroughly enjoyed the little time we spent in exploring the city. We definitely wish we had more time to visit the other places to visit in Kansas City, like other museums and attractions.
Ready for My Next Adventure
This trip inspired me to take more small, cheap trips around the US. I don’t necessarily have to travel with anyone else. I don’t have to visit anyone to explore a new place, I can just buy a cheap plane ticket and figure it out on my way.
Visiting Kansas also allowed me to practice travelling as a minimalist. In my bag I packed the following:
- 1 short-sleeved button up polo
- 1 pair of basketball shorts
- 4 pairs of undies
- 4 pairs of socks
- 4 shirts to go out
- 2 shirts to sleep in
- Yi 4K Action Camera
- 13” MacBook Pro
- Samsung S8+
- Canon SL1 DSLR
- Chargers (x3)
- Two Books
- Midori Traveler’s Journal
- A small assortment of writing utensils
I fit everything into a Herschel Pop Quiz backpack. I had to buy some toothpaste and floss; but, other than that, I didn’t really need anything other than food. I bought groceries the second day so I would have vegan food: Oreos, an apple, a few oranges, a bushel of bananas and five bottles of coconut water.
Funny story—while boarding our first flight to Houston, a manager at United Airlines announced that our flight was overbooked. He initially offered $1,000 for a seat, which took my brother and I a second to register before we understood what was happening. No one in line waiting to board the plane reacted. I looked at my brother. The manager raised the offering to $2000, and someone quickly raised their hand behind us—a missed opportunity. My brother and I discussed what we would have done if that opportunity presented itself again. We confirmed with one another that we would take the money and grab an Uber back home and wait till our flight in the morning—our older brother would understand. And then the gentleman came back. I immediately knew what he was doing. He walked to the front of the plane at the same time I passed him to board. He grabbed the walkie talkie and announced the need for two more seats. I instantly knew this was our opportunity to take the money and run. I immediately rose my hand and said, “ME! US! You can take our seats.”
My brother and I walked back up the ramp excited, whispering to each other about what we would do with the money once we received it. I spoke with the Surgeon who raised his hand before us about him not really needing the money but knowing when to seize an opportunity when he saw one. That’s great advice. The front desk confirmed his compensation and asked him to take a seat, but asked us to standby. She said two gentlemen were missing from the flight and that we wouldn’t need to give up our seats if they weren’t showing up. Spoiler alert* we arrived in Kansas City on time.
We missed an opportunity to seize $2,000 because of my indecision. It’s a learning lesson to jump on an opportunity as soon as it presents itself. We made the right choice the second time around, having waited for an opportunity that involved both me and my brother together, but we would have been more than happy to split two grand between us. Next time, I’ll be willing to take charge and take the seat.
Anyways—that was a small anecdote from this weekend. Feel free to share some of your short travel experiences in the comments below!