We Sold Almost Everything We Own and Took a 15 Month Road Trip Across North America
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I absolutely love the feeling of a road trip. Don’t you?
The excitement and planning. The anticipation of the new things we’ll see. Meeting new people on the road. Seeing the hundreds or thousands of miles tick off on the odometer. Searching for wildlife as we drive. Talking about it before we go and talking even more about it after it’s done. I love all of it!
A Little About Us
Here’s a little background on my husband and me. We’re from the Big Island of Hawaii. Beautiful … but pretty small (despite its name). You can drive around the entire island in 5 or 6 hours, or even less, depending on your route. And, if you take the longest route, you’ll only put about 250 miles on your odometer.
Not much for two people who love to hit the road and explore. Mind you, I’m not knocking Hawaii in any way. We consider ourselves blessed to have been born there and to have grown up there with the Aloha Spirit infused into us. It’s a wonderful place (with so much delicious food!) and it will always be home.
But, we wanted to see more of the beauty on this earth. So, we decided to take the leap and go on an ultimate road trip.
By “ultimate road trip,” I mean sell almost everything we own, buy a truck and trailer, and explore the contiguous US and Canada for 15 months kind of trip. The “you must be crazy,” “you won’t have a house,” “I can’t believe you’re doing this” kind of trip. But, heck, we figured if we’re gonna do it, let’s do it right!
We started talking about this trip about 3 years before we left. There were a bunch of different tentative plans we went through until we decided on “the perfect ultimate road trip.” Here are the different phases so you can see just how much we changed our minds:
- Move to a new state
- Fly to California, buy an old car, and drive to the new state
- Fly our car to the west coast, buy a tiny camper trailer we could haul with it, and drive for a month or two until we got to the new state
- Buy a truck and camper trailer in Oregon, fly there to pick them up, and drive for a few months to as many states as possible until we get to the new state
- Bring my teenage brother and our nephew along for the first couple months, so we’d need a slightly bigger camper trailer
- Another couple we’re close to decided they would join us later in the trip, so we’d definitely need a bigger camper trailer
Planning The Ultimate Road Trip
In the end, we bought a truck in Oregon, brought my brother and our nephew for the first two months, bought a camper trailer in Montana, and our friends joined us 7 months into the trip. And then my brother joined us again for the last 3 months of the trip. Whew, that was a lot of changes.
We realized, even before we wanted to move, that we liked living with less. We both moved from houses into a 600 sq. ft. studio and loved it. Of course, we’d have to get rid of a LOT more if we were going to live in a camper trailer, so learning how to downsize was a huge part of our planning process.
And you know what? It was actually FUN! Most of the time, anyway. I can’t describe how good it felt to have fewer things to worry about. And it made moving a lot easier, too.
So, after downsizing, researching camper trailers, buying a truck, selling a house, and saving as much money as we could, we were ready for the ultimate road trip. I truly just condensed several years worth of things into one sentence. But, I’m guessing you didn’t come here to read a whole book, right?
Again, I could write a book about all of the things we experienced on the road. I won’t bore you with all of that. I’ll try to restrict this part in a nutshell (so I can sneakily lure you to my blog to learn more – after you’ve read more of this blog and signed up for their newsletter!).
We visited 48 states (quite a few of them 2 or 3 times), 3 Canadian provinces, and even squeezed in a trip back home to Hawaii in between all of that. Our favorite spots, you ask? There were so many wonderful places, but I’d have to say our top 5 would be Western Montana, Colorado, Missouri, Nashville, and Vancouver, British Columbia.
Man, it’s hard to pick only five!
Some of the most memorable experiences?
- All of us being absolutely terrified on a Hummer offroading trip in Moab, Utah (okay, okay, I may have been the only one terrified…)
- Our truck breaking down outside of Libby, Montana, and being there for 2 1/2 weeks while it was being repaired
- My husband and I getting married at a campground
- Hand-feeding little prairie dogs
- Seeing killer whales for the first time
- Getting to touch a Budweiser Clydesdale (seriously, one of the best days of the whole trip for me)
- Food. So. Much. Wonderful. Food!
And there is so much more, but I promised to keep it relatively short. Oh, and there was another terrifying experience I had at City Museum (which I highly recommend still)… okay, I’m done now, for real this time.
I’m including this because it’s a topic that came up a lot in our travels. For people who had never done anything like our ultimate road trip, they would often ask “How have you not killed each other yet?”
I figured maybe some others might be curious as to how we have managed such a feat.
First of all, we took a couple of road trips on a vacation to Utah and Colorado to see if we worked well together. He does most of the driving and I do most of the navigating. We passed our own little test so we decided to proceed with the big challenge. Let me tell you this – if you don’t pass that test, you may need to put a little more effort into the whole communication thing or modify your drive days to be shorter.
We took our roles and learned as much as we could about them to minimize issues. Dave was really good at driving the truck and trailer, even when it was a bit windy. And I became pretty good at knowing which apps to use for navigation depending on where we were. We also tried to build in extra time during our drive days to allow for the inevitable occasional wrong turn or wrong exit taken. And agreed that we wouldn’t blame either of us when it happened!
We also learned early on that we needed to spend at least a few days in each place so that we weren’t super cranky from being in the truck all the time. Mega crankiness does not a happy relationship make.
Combine all of that with the fact that we were both completely on board with the whole thing from the get-go… that made us two happy campers for the most part. I can proudly say we only got actually mad at each other once in the entire 15 months. And it had nothing to do with navigating or the road trip, oddly enough.
Would we do it again?
Heck yeah, we’d do it again! In fact, we’re pretty bummed a lot of the time that we’re not still on the road. But, we’re enjoying our new surroundings for now and there’s no rule that says we can’t get back on the road someday.
Thank you for sticking around to the end of my condensed multi-year story. If you’re curious about what else we loved about RV life, I would love for you to check out this post. Happy travels to you all!
- Southwest U.S. Road Trip 4 Day Itinerary: Vegas, Grand Canyon, and Sedona
- Seattle to Olympic National Park: The Ultimate Scenic Road Trip
- The Best Hikes Near Denver That Locals Will Tell You About
- Hiking for Beginners: 10 Tips to Start Exploring
- Hiking in Missouri: 5 Supreme Spots for The Perfect Missouri Day Hike
- The Best POC Hiking Groups to Join
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Kiana is always daydreaming about her next trip. She likes to think of herself as adventurous (unless there’s a chance of falling – that scares her to death), cautiously optimistic, and the biggest fan of Thai food there is. You can find her on her blog Off the Rock Adventures or maybe even at your local Thai restaurant. Trust me, if she has the chance, she’ll be there!
So excited to see this! Thank you so much for this opportunity. I love both of your blogs 🙂
Thank you for writing it!!
I think it is so cool you guys did a 15 month road trip! I agree that it actually feels nice to have less stuff to worry about. That’s such a good idea about testing how you get along and work together on a shorter trip. I hope you guys are able to get back on the road and do another trip 🙂
I’ll admit I read this one out of order, jumping to the relationship part first. I don’t know if the hubby and I would be able to get out that RV with just one fight under our belts! 😛
You got married on a campground after selling everything and going on the road. That is so exciting and congratulations to you!
Wow what an amazing trip, so inspirational! I’m glad you didn’t kill each other. It is interesting how when you downsize to a campervan how easy it is to adjust to having less things!
What a neat adventure and I think it’s so cool that you guys left all of Hawaii and did all of this! Also love that different people joined you along the way. Sucks though that your truck broke down outside of Libby but sounds like you guys had a great attitude about it!
What a great story. I traveled cross country for 3 months on a road trip in the 80’s and I still have so many lasting memories of it. Good for you for following your dreams.
Sounds like a great adventure! I love the idea of downsizing but I don’t think I could take it this far! I’d love to do something like this when I retire. It would be cool to see a map of everywhere you were able to visit in this time 🙂
This sounds like an experience my partner and I would love to do. We just got back from travelling for 4 months together in Europe and loved every minute of it, our families thought we’d for sure kill each other by the end.
We also learned that we really don’t need as much as we thought we did, and ended up being a lot happier with less. Perhaps this is something we’ll look into doing in the future. Thanks for sharing!
This is amazing. My boyfriend and I have talked about a US road trip (on a much smaller scale) but not actually gotten around to it yet. Funnily enough we actually last visited the Big Island and drive around there. Loved it! Glad you enjoyed your time in Vancouver, my hometown!
Wow! This is awesome! I could never sell all my stuff and just travel. I love traveling but I also love my home!
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