Here’s what happened and what I learned from our cross-country road trip in August of 2019


  • 6,800 miles in 26 days
  • Enough time to form some new habits and perspectives in new places which was interesting
  • Off for the month of August 2019
  • Ending “unnecessary suffering”
  • Trip was inspired by a conversation with my ACS classmate Karen Ahlquist combined with several upcoming trips
  • Knowing how much it costs us to live and knowing exactly how much we have at any time made it much easier to decide to do this
    • YNAB (You Need A Budget) software to manage our finances has been a game-changer
  • Having just enough of a plan
    • The tension between planning or not planning
  • We made a big loop and drove through the following states (see maps below)
    • Oregon
    • Idaho
    • Wyoming
    • Nebraska
    • Missouri
    • Tennessee
    • North Carolina
    • Kentucky
    • Ohio
    • Michigan
    • Illinois
    • Wisconsin
    • Minnesota
    • South Dakota
  • The result of simply being for the first week or so–reading and listening to very little
  • Things that went well or paid off
    • Prepared a month in advance
    • Physical/paper maps
    • Got our van serviced a few weeks before
    • Long driving days and days of no driving
    • If there was nothing to do or see that interested us after arriving at a location
      • we moved on
      • got us a few days ahead of schedule to do things we wanted to
    • Stop before it’s too late in the day so there is time to wind down before going to sleep
    • Making decisions on a full stomach
    • Seeing a place in person
    • Stopping at all the information places to find good camping
    • Leaving early in the day makes it easier to wrack up the miles and cover more distance
    • Stand-alone GPS unit (always had coverage) highly recommended
    • Costco
    • Thule box on the roof to hold camping gear and free up a ton of space in our van
  • Living in the present vs. the tension of knowing what we would do the next day
    • Sometimes choosing in advance
    • Sometimes making it up the next day
  • Next time
    • Write a few bullets each day after dinner to capture what you seen and where you’ve been
    • A better way to pool and manage all of our pictures
    • Taking a few pictures every day

Outbound Route

Return Route


  • Hallon by Christian Bjoerklund
  • Cold Funk by Kevin MacLeod
  • Photo credit: My odometer

All songs licensed under Creative Commons