Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About The Big Trip

I feel like the only thing I ever talk about is the epic road trip my family and I are taking. I imagine massive eye rolls and impatiently mouthed “is she talking about this again?” being exchanged over my head.

But apparently the entire world has not been hanging on my every word over the last several months.

I’ve been surprised at how many times I’ve mentioned my trip – both offline and on – and been met with “I’m sorry – what? You’re doing what?”

This. This is what we’re doing:

On June 1st, we – me, Jared, Devin (11), and Emma (6) – are moving out of our home in the Central Florida suburbs and into a 24 foot travel trailer. Voluntarily.

We’re taking off to travel around the United States for a year. Our first scheduled stop is in Savannah, Georgia and our plan is to end up in Parkersburg, Iowa. We have a tentative route that’s designed to a) cover the parts of the country we haven’t seen much of and b) avoid cold and snow.

One of my main goals in life is to limit my encounters with cold and snow.

Click to see bigger.

We will be staying in campgrounds, with friends, and in hotels when necessary for my job as a travel writer. We also have the option of spending the night in a Wal-Mart parking lot if needed, so, you know, yay.

I’ve put together a page on this site with our Schedule So Far.

Some other questions people have asked me:

What about the kids?

We’ve decided to take them with us. They’ll be enrolled in a virtual school for the year, will each have their own bunk, and have been allowed to bring almost no toys with them. They seem to be excited.

What about your husband?

Jared gets to take the year off work and will therefore be responsible for the kids’ schooling. “We” anticipate an interesting period of transition as the three of them get used to that new dynamic. We like to say that this is Jared’s chance to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up.

How can you afford this?

It usually takes about two warm-up questions before people eventually get around to asking this, which I totally understand. Jared and I are only 31 years old; we do not have a retirement account to cash in, a “life savings”, or any other impressive investments to live off for a year.

In the fall of 2010, we made a budget to determine how much we thought it would cost to travel for a year. And then we started saving. We cut off the cable, started using the envelope system, and quit shopping. We sold almost everything we own. We were able to accumulate about half of what we expect to need to live for a year in an RV.

The RV we are living in cost $6,000. We decided to purchase a tow-able travel trailer because we already owned an SUV that could (supposedly) provide the four wheels and engine we needed for the trip.

We estimate it will cost us about $46,000 for the four of us to live on the road for a year. I based that number on our current spending habits, a little research, and a lot of guessing.

I’ll still be working as a professional blogger and freelance writer while we travel. Ideally, we’ll have the bulk of that savings left at the end of our trip because I was able to support us with my writing. We shall see.

Speaking of which…

What are you going to do when you’re done with this trip?

We don’t know. We have decided not to decide because a lot can happen, we imagine, when you’re traveling the country in an RV for a year. We’re kicking around the idea of moving to New York City or taking our travel overseas, but we may just as easily stumble across the perfect neighborhood in a city we never thought of and just know that we’ve found home.

Our grand plan, in other words, is not to think about that right now.

Why are you doing this?

There are several reasons we decided to make this dramatic lifestyle change. I loved the freedom I had in my work and personal life, but hated how little freedom my husband and kids had in their lives as they spent their days in traditional school and work environments.

Jared and I came home from a trip to New York City in the summer of 2010 and I found myself wishing we could “just travel all the time.” Thanks to the power of social media, especially Twitter, I was introduced to people who did just that.

I’ve always been the type of girl who thinks, “if they can do it, so can I.”

What does this trip have to do with Happiness?

This blog is about Happiness, not travel. But this trip is the real-life manifestation of everything I write about on this blog. It’s about throwing out old ideas of what we “should do” and deciding to focus on what we want to do instead.

Your happiness might not be found in a tiny tin can on wheels, but the steps for finding it are the same.

Ask yourself what makes you happy.

Go do that.

We’d love to meet you!

As we make our way around the country, we’re hoping to be able to meet up with readers and friends. We also hope to save money where we can by parking in your yards. Seriously.

If you’d like to get together when we come to your area, please fill out this quick little form.

If you’d like to keep up with our adventures, click here to get updates to this site by email, or just follow along with the day-to-day insanity on Twitter.

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  1. Sabina says:

    Oh, this is going to be very interesting. It sounds quite homey, seriously, even though you’re not going to be home. That’s a good thing. The Wal-Mart parking lot I think would actually be a good place to spend the night – you have everything you need just a few steps away. And it was good of you to decide to take the kids with you ;)

  2. Lisa says:

    It’s getting so close! I told my husband, who is very tired of remodeling, that we had to have the hall bathroom remodeled by next year because OMG BRITT IS COMING!! I won’t tell you what he told me I owe him for that, but let’s just say it’s one of those things that makes him *very* happy. ;-)

  3. Melanie says:

    You are literally driving within a block of my house. I know, I have said that before but its true. You don’t know me so I am going to just wave as you pass by OR you can park at my house just as long as you run some irritating ass generator or something all night to annoy my neighbors. THATS HAPPINESS! Oh and you have to take one of my kids with you. And not any with only one digit in their age. Must be a teenager. Preferably one that is old enough to live on their own but are still in my basement instead. Deal?

  4. Michelle says:

    A] Boondocking at Walmarts, esp 24 hour ones can actually be fun. And useful for when you run out of something at 3am.

    B] Are you a member of CouchSurfing.com? It’s a great site to connect with people who might have space to park or just provide info on their towns. And it’s free to join.

    C] I think it’s a good idea not to have the ending decided. A trip like this should just flow – you’ll know when it’s time to stop.

    D] I wish you the best. I wish we could’ve gotten to know each other better here in town, but if you’re on the road and need anything I might be able to help with, give me a holler. =)

    • Miss Britt says:

      Are there non-24 hour Wal-Marts?!?!?

      I am a member of couchsurfing, actually, but it never occurred to me to ask about parking space!

      • Michelle says:

        Yup, in some small towns with older Walmarts, they close at midnight or so. But they’re getting fewer and far between. I tend to road trip off the Interstates, so I encounter them from time to time.

  5. racheal says:

    So incredibly proud of you.
    I read this with tears in my eyes, because this? This is big and huge and courageous and special.
    You are so special and so loved Britt.
    I fly into US on May 15, we might be in The Villages just before you leave, so if it’s not too chaotic or crazy, I’d love to meet you and Faiqa and send you off on the adventure of your life! :)

  6. Ohmommy says:

    So INCREDIBLY awesome. I can not wait to hear all the stories. Doesn’t look like you will be in Cleveland Ohio but when you do get into Ohio I will have to jump in the car to meet you.

    Much love.

    Oh. Wait. I have a question! What if we want to send you mail? Where will you pick up mail?

    • Miss Britt says:

      We’ll still have a physical address here in Florida for tax purposes, etc. According to the U.S. government, you have to live SOMEWHERE. :-) We have friends who will forward our mail to us.

      • naomi says:

        According to the US government you have to live SOMEWHERE. Love that comment!

        We don’t live anywhere at the moment that has a US zip code. Kinda sad …

        Pauline – when you jump into the car to drive to Columbus, TOTALLY give Britt a hug and a squeeze from me!

  7. Nanna says:


    “Ask yourself what makes you happy.

    Go do that.”

    Baby, you give people permission to be big, and not small. I love you.

  8. the muskrat says:

    Still no Atlanta. :-(
    Hope it’s a great trip regardless…looking forward to reading about it soon (and seeing you this weekend in New Orleans)!

  9. Hockeymandad says:

    I’m gonna miss seeing you guys, although not very frequent, it will be far more frequent than after June. Especially the little ones.

    As far as ending up in NYC after? If your plan is to avoid exposure to cold and snow, that is not where you want to end up. 40′s and 50′s there still, just sayin’. ;) Although it would be pretty awesome…

  10. Megan says:

    What about the kids?
    We’ve decided to take them with us. They’ll be enrolled in a virtual school for the year, will each have their own bunk, and have been allowed to bring almost no toys with them. They seem to be excited.

    *Snort* I wanna to see the person’s face when you give them that answer.

    I gotta tell you, my most favorite part about this whole adventure is the fact that you have no idea what comes next. It leaves open so many possibilites. I’m excited for you!

  11. I would so love to do this.

    I think this is going to work for you. You have it planned enough so that you know what you’re doing, but not too tightly. You’ve got lots of wiggle room in case things don’t go perfectly. I am crossing my fingers for you guys!

  12. every damn time i hear about the trip i get excited for yinz so i say talk about it as much as you want! seriously, i’m thrilled for the adventure you are about to take. it is right around the corner so i am all WAHOO and it isn’t even me embarking on the journey…vicarious living for the win!

    i feel silly filling out the form because you know how to contact me and i will hunt your asses down if you come within an hour of pittsburgh without letting me know about it.

  13. Penbleth says:

    This is going to be wonderful. I am sure you will have plenty of ups and downs and I will enjoy reading about them. Life can be full of, “I wish I had dones” so now you are doing. I hope you all have a terrific time.


  14. Loukia says:

    What an adventure! Damn, I can’t even make minor decisions like what to eat for lunch for sometimes. So cool that you’re doing this. Will be so fun to read all about it as you journey across the country… have fun and stay safe!

  15. So I *briefly* met you at the Nintendo “Summit” (and by “met” I mean I sat on the same bus with you… I think). Anyway, SOOOO INSPIRED by this!! I have fantasized of doing something similar when our kids are older. I actually saw a family of 6 on The Today Show a few years ago who took a year off to travel to 5 continents and have been dreaming of that ever since. How fun for you all! Man, had I known this was your plan before Seattle, I would have stalked you, pinned you in a corner, and fired questions at you for hours ;) I’ll be sure to stay tuned.

  16. naomi says:

    Damn. I thought by now you would have shortlisted the U.S. and included a side map of India … with the expected arrival date of … “HOLI 2012″ !!!!!

    Messing wit’ ya … can’t wait until you START this journey already! ‘Nuf talking … start driving!!

    Excited for you guys!

  17. kirida says:

    This sounds so incredible and exciting. Thanks for being so frank about the expenses part. I would have been interested but not brave enough to ask.

  18. mumby says:

    WOW! This is amazing. I want to do this too!! Excited for you! Good Luck!!

  19. I am excited for you, happy for you, ecstatic about the kids’ education… and envious, too. This really is the trip of a lifetime, and now is the lifetime. Friends of Jane and Audrey (brother, sister, Mom, Dad) sailed around the world for one entire year back in… oh, ’92 or ’93. These kids came back to our town enlightened… and wow, what experiences they had! I think you are heroes on the great Journey Quest! Love it. Love you!

  20. [...] Miss Britt: Everything you wanted to know about the big trip – I’ve written about this before, but it has really captured my imagination. Britt and her husband and kids are about to sally forth in a motor home, and explore the country for a year. Every time I think about this, my brain spins. So many questions. How to pay the bills? What about the kids? Here Britt supplies some answers, and even more fodder for my imagination as I ponder what adventure is next for my little family. [...]

  21. Ann's Rants says:

    I’m such a homebody, so I am in crazy admiration with your free-spiritedness and ingenuity in making this happen.

  22. Okay, mama, I’m on the list. Can’t wait to possibly see you guys, again. You’re living one of my dreams, so make it good.

  23. Al_Pal says:

    Looks like you’re going through/past the Finger Lakes of upstate NY [between Syracuse and Rochester]. My man has a lot of family in that area and I’ve been several times. Many beautiful lakes and dozens of wineries, not too far off the interstate. Highly recommend. & If you don’t mind a semi-serious detour, the Corning Museum of Glass is fabulous. [an hour south of I-90?]

  24. Momma says:

    I DO picture you living in New York. Or Paris. Or somewhere. Why the heck not?

  25. Robin says:

    So incredible, I’ve always wanted to drive around the country with my camera.

  26. Ummmm…………..excuse me loves, I see that your route doesn’t come to NE ohio! We need to change that! :)

  27. jen says:

    that is so awesome and it is a journey your kids will never forget!!

  28. allen says:

    Wow… sounds like an amazing trip awaits you and your family!

    Good luck with the virtual schooling! My son, Noah was in the same class as Devin in 2nd grade. For the 3rd grade, we tried the virtual school that the county wants you to use and really hated it. This year we’re home schooling.

    In 2009 we took a vacation out west to the deserts (LV to Reno) and west coast (Reno-SF-LA-LV), and just LOVED it. The desert and mountains are such a wonderful change to Florida.

  29. allen says:

    well it was mostly a personal preference of Noah… he didnt like it and the repetitiveness of the lessons. Our major problem was that the lesson plan wasnt altered any in account for being gifted, although they kept on assuring they would. He had to do all the same stuff at the same time as everyone else in his class. Rather then testing and skipping him on lessons, they just told him to do more lessons everyday then you can move on. And everything is graded on how much you do, not how well you do it.

    I think the teacher was first year as well… and there was our learning curve trying to get used to the system and how it worked.

    But in your situation, being on the road… I think that is the best solution for school. We were able to go places and a lot of what he needed was on his computer and online. Now on our own, we have a dedicated school room and science lab for him and rely more books and all… I think Noah likes that better.

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