I was on the road for 8 weeks, driving around the country in my Subaru, logging right around 6900 total miles. (More stories from said trip coming up, so please check back!) Staying with numerous interesting people along the way, I saw 14 states and British Columbia during that time. I also spent a few nights solo, camping in my car.
From frog legs to hand stands, doubles beach volleyball, psychic readings, and motorcycle rides, I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone so many times on this trip, I’m not sure I even have one anymore. The following are some life lessons I learned, from which you might also glean a helpful gem or two.
- Traveling can be cheap. Because I mostly stayed with other people instead of in motels, I paid less in lodging in two months than I would have spent in one month to rent an apartment. And even if I spent a lot more in gas than normal, I imagine it all evened out in the end.
- Couches have varying degrees of comfort, but I believe I can fall asleep on anything. (“Couches” is a generic term that includes air mattresses, real beds, futons, and floors.) Turn lights on, bang pots and pans, pull my hair…it doesn’t matter. I’ll just roll over and continue sleeping.
- Don’t bother apologizing for the state of your house. I (and probably other people as well) have seen better and worse, and I’m really not picky, if you’re offering me a place to stay.
- Motorcyclists are just having fun. I no longer resent the guy in leather next to me at the stoplight, revving his engine, because I’ve been there, on the back of a bike, and I enjoyed it so much I wanted people to stare at me and be jealous.
- New foods are a treat to the palate. If you ever find yourself sick of eating pasty or “hot dish,” try frog legs (tastes like chicken with a swampy flair), or Ethiopian food (which doesn’t require any utensils and is a lot of fun to eat).
- GPS is indeed a great modern convenience, but still isn’t a necessity. I managed my whole trip with a U.S. road atlas, and a pen and paper, which I used to write down directions.
- I have to assume that everyone outside of my hometown uses a French coffee press and has a dog. (Let’s get with the times, people!)
- I am forgetful. If I ever leave anything at your house, please throw it away; maybe that will teach me. (This is how I lost my pajamas.)
- There are still people in this world who don’t keep their doors locked 24/7. There are also people who are so trusting that before I’ve even met them, they tell me where they keep their key, in case I get there before they do. Gives me hope for the human race.
- I like V8 juice. Perhaps this is because drinking it makes me feel like I’m reversing the effects of the chocolate I’m washing down.
- I’m not convinced that it’s the “thought, that counts.” The last thing several of my hosts have said as I walked out the door was, “Oh, did you need to wash any clothes? I probably should have asked earlier…”
- Some people and places I thought I’d never see or hear from again have reappeared in my life, like the place I got my oil changed in Bozeman, MT. They called me two days later, to “make sure everything was okay.”
- When people don’t completely drop their lives for your visit, you can better see glimpses of what they’re really like. I enjoy their little idiosyncrasies. “If you happen to hear chanting when you wake up, don’t worry, it’s just part of my morning routine.”
- NPR stations the country over are having membership funding drives. Please, support your local station.
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