14 friends’ couches, air mattresses and guest bedrooms
9 weeks on the road
7million squashed windshield bugs
6 Airbnb homes
5 new experiences
3 windshield cracks
2 mentoring sessions
1 epic adventure
(The map would only allow 10 stops, so it doesn’t take any of the extras like Big Bear and Sedona into account… it was actually closer to 9000, but who’s counting?)
When telling people about my cross country trip this week I’ve noticed myself and others calling it the “adventure of a lifetime.” And while that is certainly true of my life up to this point, there is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to do a similar trip in a couple years. I don’t want to limit myself by thinking that my encounter with the dolphins will be the only one I experience in a lifetime. I hope to have many opportunities to have epic road trips, camp in the desert, snowboard in the rockies over and over again, and to someday again call Los Angeles one of my homes.
I don’t know where I’ll be living next year, I barely know what the next two months hold other than weddings and my plan to jump back on the Appalachian Trail. I do know I want to walk forward with hands out and palms up ready to catch whatever joy or pain may come my way and I want to live a lifetime of adventure.
For those interested in what a trip like this COST, I’ve broken it down my expenses below. (I did not factor into this expenses like monthly bills, savings etc, as I would have spent those regardless.)
Total of Gas/parking/tolls/food/housing and extra adventures like Big Bear, The Grand Canyon, Sedona, Joshua Tree, Mardi Gras & Dolphins: $4,515
Minus the amount I always budget for Gas, food and adventures for two months and would have spent anyway: -$1500
Minus the income I made BECAUSE of shoots on the trip: -$2,675
It’s easy to think that epic adventures like this are impossible, but really we’re only limited by our imagination. And seriously, this trip could have been done for a fraction of that cost. I spared no expenses on food or the adventures I wanted to take. I could have been much more frugal, experienced fewer side adventures and/or prepared more meals in advance, but I wanted to experience the local flavors of each city, and I knew I’d make up the difference in shoots or dog walking.
I realize not everyone can make $2500 on the road as a photographer…but you likely have other skills you can utilize BEFORE the trip to save up that money in advance. Selling stuff on Craigslist, seriously how many shoes or hats does one person need? Extra side hustle jobs like dog walking, Uber driving, babysitting (I walked for Rover while in LA and will continue in NC) or other freelance work, and networking with friends and family (and don’t forget extended friends of friends) for free places to stay while you travel. (My best tool for this was Facebook. In the search bar type “my friends who live in (insert city or sate).” There might only be one and there might be twelve, it’s worth checking, and it’s always a great excuse to catch up with old friends. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Nine times out of ten people are MORE than happy to help you, they just don’t know how to unless you ask.
Having a budget in advance is helpful as well (I use Goodbudget for free). Knowing where your money is going every month is one of the greatest adulting life skills you can have. Since I always put $100/month into my adventure envelope I’d actually already had more than $340 saved before hand, so really I broken even.
If there’s one book I could recommend to help someone take a risk and plan an adventure, it would be 4 Hour Work Week from Tim Ferriss. I listened to it twice while driving. I was already doing basically everything he talks about, but he puts it to words in a way that helps people who have traditional 9-5 jobs figure out a way to live their dreams and not give up their income.
Anyway if you need help brainstorming, don’t hesitate to ask!