Disclaimer: Hawaii and Alaska were unfortunately NOT part of this road trip. Hawaii for obvious reasons and Alaska we considered making the drive to, but it ended up being just too far. This post is ONLY inclusive of our 8 months touring the 48 continental states. (Besides, pretty much everyone tells me Alaska is the shit and I know Hawaii rules so this will all change the minute we go to those two.)
As you all have heard 954 times by now, Jeremy and I just wrapped up our 8 Month, 48 State, Great American Road Trip. My favorite part is that people keep saying things like, “Did you guys go to New Hampshire?,” or “Did you make it to Idaho?” LOL YES. All 48 continental states. If it’s not Alaska or Hawaii, we went there!
So, on the last leg of our drive, in prepartion for writing this post, I made lists of the places we liked most (and a couple of the things/places we didn’t). I also would sort of consider myself a road trip expert at this point, so we made a little list of things that made life on the road more bearable.
KATIE’S TOP FIVE (not in order)
JEREMY’S TOP FIVE (not in order either!)
STATES WE AREN’T IN ANY HURRY TO GET BACK TO (eeek sorry!)
STATES THAT SURPRISED US (in a good way!)
ROAD TRIP ESSENTIALS
- Keep the car really well organized and not so packed or cluttered. Think things out really well before you leave and throw away trash and every single gas stop!
- Make a list before you leave of what’s most important to you and put those as priority. It’s easy to get off track, but if you know what’s non-negotiable, you can make sure those are on your route.
- Airbnbs with a washer and dryer will be your friend.
- That being said, don’t put yourself on too much of a schedule. One planned thing per day, even if it’s a small thing, is enough!
- A snack basket and cooler bag are lifesavers. You’ll want snacks and drinks more often than not.
- One of the best things we did was bring bookbags for shorter stays. We packed the basics (pjs, chargers, underwear, toiletries, etc.) and just used our bookbags for stays of 3 days or less, so we could leave our suitcases in the car.
- Get a car air purifier to keep any unwanted smells (like gas station snacks) at bay.
- Skateboards are a good way to get some fresh air and stretch your legs after being in the car. And you’ll usually get some cool pictures on your board.
- Speaking of pictures, take a LOT! You’ll want to remember all the weird and quirky things you saw on the road.
- Find some podcasts you dig to listen to in the car. We like My Favorite Murder, Someone Knows Something, S-Town, Serial, Missing Maura Murray, Accused, The Joe Rogan Experience, 10% Happier with Dan Harris, Casefile, The New Paris, Up and Vanished, Pod Save America, and StarTalk with Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
This part is hard for me to write. I’m very pleased we went to all 48 continental states, I consider it to be quite the accomplishment. (You can read about the reasons behind why we planned this in the first place in this post.)
However, I’ll admit, halfway or so in, I was DONE. I didn’t care about finishing it, I didn’t want to be in the car anymore, I was craving stability and routine, and I was SO TIRED of unreliable wifi which led to checking out of Airbnbs at 11:00am and having to get some work done in the car outside Starbucks with Lilly growling at every person going through the drive thru.
But by far, the biggest hurdle in all this was that my health suffered. Diet, exercise, skincare, my routines in general suffered. This was the side effect I didn’t see coming, and the hardest to deal with personally.
Over the course of these 8 months, we went to weddings, made new friends, reconnected with old friends, spent time with family, found some places we could live one day, got THISCLOSE to buying a house in one of those places, explored many of our national parks, and grew exponentially as a couple (side effect of spending 24/7 together). At the end of the day, as hard as it was, and as tired of the car as we got, I’m ultimately glad we finished what we started. Our country is vast, and diverse, and beautiful, and it was a privilege to get to see so much of it.
NEXT UP: Hawaii and Alaska. And after that, maybe we’ll hit all the US Territories too!