6 Things I Learned About Life on the Road

by Derek Mathewson on June 20, 2018

Being on the road long enough to take in the life as a solo traveler, I want to share the ‘6 things’ I learned after quitting my job and living on the road in a world full of adventure!

1. Improvise, don’t compromise

To travel takes money, there’s no doubt about that, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be frugal and creative. I found myself on times on end trying to conserve every dollar I had. Even though a few bucks here and there doesn’t seem like much at the time, it can add up, especially if you’re traveling for extended periods of time. For example, one of the ways I go about storing my food is using the free ice machine at hotels to fill up my cooler. It saves me about $2.50+ per ice bag every three days. Also, when I’m searching for a place to park/sleep for the night, I always look for National Forests, BLM land or large empty pullout lots. They’re usually good options when you’re looking for a spot to crash for the night without having to pay for a site.

2. Cleverness over carefulness

I’ve found that when I’m clever about things, I think less, move more and everything becomes a natural instinct. When I’m careful about things, I tend to think more, move slower and pay closer attention to detail. Depending on how you look at it and/or use it, each has its ideal time and place. I’ve used this method quite a bit and it’s worked pretty well for me.

3. The amazing people you meet

When I quit my job of 10 years to travel, I didn’t really think about all the friends I’d meet along the way. When you’re traveling alone, you get to do what you want, when you want and discover new and interesting things about yourself and the world pretty much every day. But in order to meet new people, you have to be open minded, confident and like to talk…and I’m all of those. I also think that traveling solo inherently opens yourself more to talk to people. Whether it be my dreadlocks, my patch-covered backpack or the layout of my truck, I always seemed to catch the interest in others to start a conversation. It doesn’t take long to turn a curious peer into a new friend!

4. I love beer!

One of the pros about traveling from one location to another is trying all the different style micro beers from different states. There’s no shortage of micro-breweries popping up around the country, and it’s a great way to get a taste for where you’re at and maybe even meet a new drinking/adventure buddy. I mean, it really doesn’t get any better than that, especially after a whole day of hiking and exploring.

5. The National Parks are really one of America’s greatest ideas

I remember a time not long ago when I was in the Grand Teton National Park Visitor Center parking lot. I had just pulled in and was walking to the visitor center for some information. On my 700 foot walk I must’ve counted close to 40 different out of state license plates. And even with all the out of state road-trippers, that still didn’t factor in all of the people that flew across the globe or rented a car/RV to drive into the park. I’m not sure what it was but that really struck my interest, realizing the impact our park system has on us all. The National Park system has been bringing friends, family and international travelers together for generations for us to enjoy this land, and is only gaining in popularity as the years pass. I just hope that we can all do our part by preserving these lands and keeping them in the same condition for generations to come. As john F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country”, and right now is the time to step up and do our part to save this beautiful land!

6. Be true to yourself

Deep travel isn’t for everyone, nor does it inherently make you a better person. But if it’s been a dream of yours and you have a passion for the outdoors, photography, or whatever it is…then do it! The people in this world who get things done are merely the people who do things. Fulfill your dream! Don’t be that old person on your deathbed with the benefit of hindsight and the tragedy of regret. Live it up!

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