Eight years ago, my life was a very different scene. High school and childhood as I knew it was over. I was working full time, living in my parents’ attic, and had no plans for my life whatsoever. I had no ambitions, no real skills, and zero drive.
That’s when I met this awesome girl.
She made me an offer that I would be stupid to refuse. She was heading out to visit her cousins in Minnesota, but was planning on making an extended roadtrip out of it. She invited me along on this amazing adventure and, at first, I was hesitant. I’d just met this girl. We had very little in common. She was a dedicated Christian. I was an atheist. She was a little hippie- grew gardens, ate natural foods, and did mission trips around the world to help others. I loved pizza, sitting on my butt watching movies, and my idea of a hike was walking to the corner to buy snacks at Wawa.
What we did have in common was tolerance. We had fun together. We were both open minded and listened to what the other had to say. We taught each other different things. We were passionately curious about the world and understood that not everyone lived the way we did. Taking a chance, I accepted.
We spent the next month or more practically living out of her car. I slept on the ground surrounded by an entire orchestra of wildlife. I ate food that was home cooked on a single butane burner. I met people that humbled and inspired me. Strangers invited me into their home and treated me like family. I hiked for miles and survived a decent asthma attack. I finally felt that stillness of the soul that one experiences when they’re away from the cities and the lights and the noise. I hung out with deer at my campsite, hiked right past a black bear, and woke up to a moose outside of my tent (on the day I nearly froze to death in late June).
It was hard. It forced me to grow and learn to take care of myself. It pushed me out of my comfort zone where shyness wasn’t an option. It made me realize that there was so much more than my little bubble life and tiny problems. Without a doubt, I can say that this roadtrip saved my life.
I was addicted. When I came home, I found purpose and drive. I got a second job and I bought myself a car. I wanted to see everything, meet everyone, and do all of the things.
The last eight years of my life have been spent in almost constant motion. I’ve traveled through 34 states. I went from the girl who was too shy to tell a blind man she already occupied a seat until he sat on her to the woman who tries to start elevator dance parties with strangers. I went from the girl who wanted nothing more than to just end her life to the woman who makes it her mission to inspire others to truly live their own.
When people asked me what I wanted to do ‘when I grew up’, I told them that all I wanted to do was live out of my car. I wanted to travel constantly and make new friends and explore everywhere. I just wasn’t sure how I was going to make this a reality.
I’m a writer. I’ve got a ton of imagination. I have huge dreams and hefty goals. All of my major talents are ones that take place within the brain. What I lack is any sort of practical or technical skill.
I resorted to short trips between long periods of work (like your usual person). I would drive 2,000+ miles in seven days to be able to see more things. While those trips are amazing, what are you really seeing when you have a couple of hours in each state?
I wanted to be able to go where I wanted when I wanted. Not extended travel, but a life of constant travel. I wanted travel to be my life. After a while, sleeping on peoples’ couches makes you feel like more of a burden than a guest. It’s been years since I had a place to call my home. One night, while sitting at the dinner table, I announced to my roommates that I was going to build a tiny home that could travel with me around the country.
(No one was surprised. Really, I’ve announced crazier things.)
I did research. I saved. I planned. I read all of the blogs and watched all of the videos. A little while later, in walks a kindred spirit who wants the same thing.
I’d like to have a home, but I don’t really need a lot of space because I don’t like to own a lot of things. Me, too!
I believe that life is enriched more by experiences than by owning the nicest cars or the coolest new gadget or from going into major debt for an education I’ll never be able to utilize. No way! Me, too!
I also want to be able to pick my home up and take it with me wherever my itchy feet feel like running to. Why don’t we convert a school bus?
What? People do that? You guys, PEOPLE DO THAT! And now we’re doing that.
Don’t be afraid to tell the universe and everything in it what you truly need. Close your eyes and concentrate so hard that it hurts on what you really desire. Breathe it, be it. Tell everyone your ideas and your dreams. And don’t you dare hesitate when the universe answers and delivers opportunities right to you. They may be small, so pay attention! Grab them by the hand and RUN!
This is why I travel and this is how it saved my life. It’s changed me and made me a better, more compassionate, and more open-minded person. It gave me a purpose and showed me how to richly experience my years instead of watching them fly by. I have a few stories to share with my children and grandchildren and I look forward to living so many more!
I leave you with one of my absolute favorite quotes.
Until next time! Be kind and live purposely!
“Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation. All of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.”