today marks the day. the sixth month anniversary of loading up the car, waving goodbye to lake erie, cleveland, ohio…..and heading out on the great adventure.
we honestly had no idea what we were doing. like, no clue.
I mean, sure we’d plotted out a general course…looked at a million blogs about how to do what we were doing, but, seriously.
not a clue.
so here’s a bit of what we’ve learned:
–you’re going to need half of what you think you’ll need. we made so many packing mistakes and ended up tossing or donating a lot of things along the way. the essentials are called essential for a reason; only pack what you know you’ll use daily.
–travel slow, and if you find a spot that looks good, stay there. we spent a lot of time chasing good weather mainly because we weren’t equipped to live comfortably for long stays in rain or high winds. but if the weather was good, having enough supplies (read: coffee) to stay in one spot for five or more days will definitely save money and stress)
–always stop for the brown signs on the highway exits: they mean good things: national parks or monuments, state parks or really fun touristy stuff! some of our best adventures were “oh hey what’s that sign?!” trips off the beaten path.
–buy a national parks pass. just do it. the national parks are the best idea the US has ever had, and getting in free across the country saved us so much financial worry and, wow was it worth it.
–if you find a spot you like, stay there! bonus tip: free camping is abundant, you just have to know how and where to look for it. there are multiple apps to help with that; we used one called Allstays. we spent a total of $16 on camping in 6 months, all of that in Texas. and if all else fails, most walmarts, and some other retail stores (camping world, cabella’s) allow overnight camping. just ask :)
–adapting to your environment is key. travel bloggers on instagram are not showing you everything (like where do they poop?) the sooner you realize that you’re now technically homeless and relying on your current, constantly changing, environment for all your needs, the sooner you’ll be able to adjust to your newfound freedom!
–you’re much tougher than you think. I never thought I’d be able to hike to the top of this canyon…or sleep in my car in a dark forest in the rain….or survive a windstorm in new mexico. I didn’t know how tough I really was.
–time is a social construct. (think about that one….I must ask at least once a week, “wait, what day is it?” because we don’t have to be anywhere, do anything, on anyone else’s time….weekdays or weekends don’t matter. it’s weird and takes time to get used to.)
–this country is huge, beautiful and is so vastly different if you just travel more than 300 miles outside of your comfort zone. if you don’t like where you are: move! there is so much out there to see and experience.
–people out there (away from the cities) are much nicer, kinder and more generous than you know. this was possibly the hardest thing for us to get used to, being from the service industry. we were so ‘on guard’ and had our defenses up against everyone, and just did not expect the kindness of strangers once we were away from the cities.
–don’t wait. we’ve met so many women, or couples in their retirement years who’ve said to us (all_of_them_have_said_this) “we should have done this at your age, good for you guys.”
—don’t wait. honestly.
where we go from here:
today we are in yakima, washington, on our way to a town north of seattle for the week. we are then boarding a plane, friday, for anchorage, alaska.
yes, alaska. eep!! we’ll be working up there for the summer outside of denali national park. I can say this: we are excited to be off the road for a while, but last night, as we spent our final night sleeping in the car (fittingly in a walmart, just like our first night in new jersey) we were talking about how we are actually going to miss the freedom we’ve had, the autonomy, the rising with the sun, going to bed when it gets dark, and the general not-seeing-any-other-humans that has been so great. we’re going to have a bit of a time adjusting.
but it will also be nice to have showers, and meals, and a bed whenever we want. that will be nice.
so, stay tuned from alaska!
All images © 2013-2019 Jeannie M. Starks / two daisies life