Road Trip America


We used to be a fairly normal family. My husband Jared and I worked and lived in a Central Florida suburb with our two kids, Devin and Emma. And then one day I got a crazy idea: I wanted to take an epic road trip across America with my family.

Why road trip America?

My life was good. I was traveling frequently as a freelance writer and enjoying a salary from an extremely flexible marketing job. Jared and I were getting a long better than ever (thanks to a lot of marriage counseling), and we were comfortable financially. But I wanted more for us. I wanted to be able to spend my good life with the people who meant the most to me, the people who were spending most of their life in school and at work. Extended travel seemed like the perfect solution.

We decided to travel in the United States because there was a lot of the country we hadn’t seen yet. It seemed silly to backpack across Europe or Asia when we’d never even been to San Francisco. World travel sounded exotic, but it made more sense to explore our own backyard first.

How we made it happen

We sold our stuff, including all of my shoes. We gave away my car. We bought a 24 foot travel trailer and hitched it up to our 2002 Chevy Trailblazer. After about 8 months of planning and saving, we hit the road together on June 1, 2011.

The reality of our American Road Trip

Our plan was to travel the United States for about a year.

America road trip map

(Click the America road trip map to see bigger.)

Of course, life almost never goes according to plan, and our Great American road trip was no exception. We ended up traveling for 10 months, visiting 29 states and stopping in 40 cities, before returning to our home state of Iowa to attend a funeral and regroup.

at the end of the American road trip

What we learned

More important than how much we saw is that traveling the United States together changed us, as individuals and as a family. We learned that connection to each other is at the heart of our happiness. I also learned more about how to hear my own inner voice, what makes me happy on a daily basis, and how to hold on to my sense of peace when the world outside gets crazy.

You can read more about those lessons, and how you can apply them to your own life, in my book, An Amateur’s Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness.

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