Road Trip USA: Reflections and Looking Forward

Road Trip USA: Reflections and Looking Forward

Road Trip USA: Reflections and Looking Forward

  We just recently returned from a 3 week long road trip through the South-Eastern USA. By the numbers, we traveled 3,673 miles in 21 days, taking us through 10 cities, the Appalachian Trail, 10 states, and the District of Columbia. Check this post out if you want to learn more about how we planned the road trip. While living out of your car for several weeks and primarily staying with other people (vice hotels) can, at times, be exhausting and mind-numbing, overall, I had an incredibly positive experience. In this post, I’d like to share with you some reflections from being on the road and introduce our next travel adventure!!!

The People Make The Trip

If there’s anything I’ve learned about travel, it’s this: Travel is more about the people and relationships than it is about the places and things. The drama of life, the stories, and the experiences you have are flavored by the personalities and actions of the people involved. Stories have characters and unless you’re out there interacting with the world, your travel stories are going to be a lot of: We saw this, We did that, We ate there. The single, best way to improve any trip is to get out of your shell and start talking to people. All along the way, we were able to surround ourselves with great people. In most cities, that meant getting to see friends or family that we hadn’t seen in a while. Obviously, those experiences were awesome, but even when we didn’t have friends and we were forced to put ourselves out there: relying on the kindness of strangers never failed. I’m happy to say that strangers, friends, and family alike welcomed us with open arms. Not only that, but they are the ones that made the trip uniquely satisfying. If it weren’t for the people along the way, the trip just wouldn’t have been memorable. So thank you everyone!

Yes, Travel Can Be Cheap

We kept track of the costs on this trip because we were curious how much a trip like this would cost us. I’ve always been a big believer in traveling cheap and I wanted to see what was possible. We initially set out with a budget of $1500 combined for both us. The $1500 budget included everything: gas, lodging, meals, fun, etc (Read more here). Even I thought that budget was aggressive, and I always travel cheap. Along the way, we kept tabs on everything we spent, adding items to our log every other day. We also kept every gas receipt. At the end of 3 weeks, we added up the costs and found out that the grand total for the trip was $1,219.17. We absolutely crushed our budget and we did it effortlessly. We still went out and had fun with friends. We still ate awesome food. And we still got to experience all of our ‘must-see’ and ‘must-do’ things in each city. So what was our secret?  Well, I’ll talk more about it in another post, but here are a few tips:
  • Avoid spending money on lodging by staying with friends, couchsurfing, and camping. Make hotel nights recharge nights and keep them to a minimum.
  • Take food with you from a grocery store for snacking. Try to eat out only 1 meal a day (or less) and make it something you are really excited about. Eating out less frequently makes you appreciate the meals even more.
  • Focus on doing things that are free and spending time with people. You can’t buy fun. Most of the expensive tourist activities are manufactured experiences so unless the event is actually something you want to do, don’t do it.

Road Trip USA: Reflections and Looking Forward

Looking Forward: Nicaragua

This trip was just a warm up. Our next big adventure is a one-way ticket to Nicaragua. On January 11, 2014, we start our backpacking adventure in Nicaragua and are planning on making our way south through Costa Rica and Panama, and then into South America. We have no definite plans to return. I’m extremely excited for what’s to come, and I’m also freaking out. We still have a lot to do in preparation for our trip. The biggest obstacles to overcome are: 1. Getting rid of most of material possessions before we leave Wilmington (whatever doesn’t fit in a corolla) and 2. Getting our Spanish up to speed so we can hit the ground running in Nicaragua. We have been living in Wilmington, NC for the past 5 months because it’s cheap and absolutely beautiful. At the end of November, we need to downsize from enough stuff to fill up a 2 bedroom apartment, to what will fit into a corolla. At that point, we are heading back to Pennsylvania to spend the holidays with family, and then leaving for Nicaragua after the new year.

Looking Forward: The Blog

In the past month, the blog has been all over the place, mainly due to the road trip. The blog is going to stay centered around my experiences in life and what I’m focused on. I’ve learned a lot about life in my short time of being jobless, so I’m going to write about that, but as we get closer to the end of the year, my focus is shifting more towards our upcoming travels. The blog is going to reflect that. My focus areas in the past month have been: learning Spanish, researching travel related issues, preparing for travel, and getting rid of my material possessions. I’ve gained a huge amount of practical insights and wisdom that I can’t wait to share with you, it’s just a matter of getting it ‘on paper’. I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m excited about the future.  I hope you are too. If you’re following my story and you’re reading this blog, please reach out to me. I want to know who is out there and I want your feedback. I’m going through a lot of crazy things right now, what do you most want to hear about? Is there something about my story that interests you that I haven’t talked about? Is there something I’ve said that’s pissed you off or, maybe, helped you? Either way, I want to hear from you and I want you to be involved. If you’re out there, please do one of the following:
  • Comment on the blog. Share your own ideas, give feedback, start a conversation.
  • Shoot me an email, let me know what’s on your mind.
  • Share the blog with your friends, grow the community.
No matter what, thanks for reading!
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