In the months following my cross country road trip, it was hard to process my experience. However as I’ve spent more time thinking, I realized I debunked five myths about road trips. Before I set out, many warned me about a lot of things that turned out to be utterly false. I’m sure they were well meaning, but their advice was totally wrong. (Sorry, mom!)
Myth 1: If you travel alone as a female, you will be abducted, raped and disappear forever.
About 30% of people espoused this myth. They seemed almost certain that I’d be raped and murdered. The terror people had was overwhelming. However, I decided I wasn’t going to listen to this myth. I didn’t buy a gun. I didn’t even purchase mace. I had my wits and street smarts. After all, my hometown experienced a terrorist attack just three months before I left for my trip. The potential risk of a road trip seemed safe compared to that experience.
Don’t let fear control you.
Myth 2: You’re going to kill your car.
I heard this one from people apparently unfamiliar with Toyotas and basic car maintenance. If you have a reliable vehicle that’s well maintained, chances are you’ll be fine. The worst that happened to me was I got a flat tire in Biloxi, Mississippi.
But come on, flat tires can happen anywhere.
Myth 3: People will know you’re not from around there and judge you.
I admit that this was my own myth. I thought my Massachusetts plates and accent would make me stand out like a sore thumb. I deliberately packed my most boring, nondescript clothing for middle America where I thought it’d be more likely to be judged.
The truth is, I don’t think anyone cared but me.
Myth 4: Your trip will cost a fortune and you’ll come back totally broke.
If you do it right, traveling doesn’t have to cost a fortune. I read a lot of books on how to save money and the best one I came across was Matt Kepnes’ How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter. I created a $50 per day budget for fun, food and accommodations. (Gas was a separate budget!) I bought groceries instead of eating out, stayedwith friends along the way and in hostels. Ultimately, my best advice is to get a credit card that rewards you for using it. Through the card I signed up with, I earned about $400 from my trip alone.
Including gas, I spent about $2,900 ($72 per day) over about 40 days. Pretty cheap if you ask me!
Myth 5: You won’t want to drive the whole way.
If you don’t like driving long distances, by all means, do not go on a cross country road trip by yourself. However, if you love driving or have help, chances are you won’t tire of it. There wasn’t a day where I said to myself, “I can’t drive anymore.” That was until the last day when, yes, I was a bit over it.
I’m really proud that I drove all 10,000 miles by myself.
What Turned Out to Be True
Though I debunked these five myths, I found some road trips were real. It was lonely. It was incredibly hard, both emotionally and physically. I was scared at times, but not of people. Mostly of torrential downpours, hydroplaning and driving up and down the Rockies. But these are all posts for another day.
That being said, the lessons I learned were immeasurable.