At some point in your life, you have most likely encountered or at least heard of someone who has backpacked across some foreign country as an attempt to "find themselves." Or you have had to at least seen it occur within a movie.
Regardless, the idea of traveling to find oneself is accurate on a certain level. When you travel and experience different cultures, architecture, and other new, exciting things, you can discover that you like certain things that you may have not been exposed to in your hometown.
While I am pro-self discovery and adventurism, I have yet to have the privilege of traveling outside of the United States for an extended amount of time. It has been something I have always dreamed of doing but due to financial restraints, school, and my family, the cards never aligned in my favor.
To combat this inability to travel internationally, I have backpacked through the United States to achieve that same thrill of adventurism. Through it, I not only discovered the states with the worst drivers, I also learned more about my personality, likes, and dislikes.
I am sure there are other individuals who have yet to backpack through a foreign country because of financial restraints. So instead of driving three hours away to play beach games with your family as your routine, annual trip, try backpacking through the states.
Though backpacking through a foreign country is not financially doable for some, backpacking through the states is a possibility financially, and it can be just as thrilling.
Before You Begin Traveling, Plan First
Many people do not think about how backpacking through their own country can be as adventurous as traveling to another country. There are a multitude of breathtaking sights and cultures to see and experience within the 50 states, but before you pack up and hit the road, you should get your affairs in order.
Planning for a backpacking trip across the country is not as extensive as planning for a trip across the world, but it is still a significant undertaking.
Will your home be waiting for you when you finish traveling?
The first thing that should be considered during this trip is how much time you are planning to spend away. If you are only going to be away from home for one to three weeks, then major adjustments do not need to be made. On the other hand, if your backpacking adventure is going to last beyond four weeks, you may need to do more thorough preparations.
For instance, look into storage units if you are renting or leasing an apartment and do not intend on staying in the rental during your trip. If you are coming back to your same house after the trip, then you should hire a house-sitter or ask a close friend or family member to pop in once or twice a week.
If you work full-time, you may have to consider if your employer will allow you to be out of work for so many days. Perhaps your employer will grant you permission to work remotely during your trip. Most places in the United States have wifi or hotspots, so working virtually is a feasible option.
How can you minimize finances before traveling?
Once you have figured out your living arrangements back home and how you will proceed with requesting time from work, you should place holds on any other bills associated with you being in one place for a period of time.
Diminishing rotating bills is key to having a wiggle room financially while traveling across the country. So you can negotiate lower insurance rates, pause utility bills, and request to hold on as many accounts as you can until you are back home and working regularly.
Where will you visit and when?
After the logistics of adulting are worked out, you should plan the route you are going to take and which states you are going to travel through. Of course, the number of states you travel through depends on how long you have to travel, but if you have decided on how long you are traveling already, you should be okay to start picking states.
The best way to decide on where to go is by taking your likes and characteristics into consideration and then researching based on those preferences. For example, I love food, music, and warm weather so one of the places I would plan to visit is New Orleans because these are some of the things they are known for. I would also plan when I arrive in this city according to the season. I personally would not plan to visit during the winter months.
You can pick out cities and states to visit and what time of year you will visit based on your likes and dislikes. You can even plan based on the types of foods you like. You should remember to not be too picky when it comes to planning based on personal preferences.
Yes, you do not want to visit somewhere that you know you will not like, but you also do not want to limit yourself from experiencing new environments, architecture, and cultures.
Consider Transportation Available in the United States
Luckily, you have many options when it comes to transportation. The United States offer a variety of ways to get around the country:
- Flying - the easiest form of traveling but not as adventurous and more expensive
- Car - road trips are cheap if you are splitting expenses with someone else and you're both over 25 (because insurance rates are crazy high for those younger)
- Train - can be expensive depending on specials and the part of the country you are in
- Bus - the least expensive route and opens up more doors to adventure
Again, your choice of transportation depends on your personality and preferences. If you are looking to experience as much as possible, then I would recommend incorporating all four forms of transportation.
You can fly to one part of the country and then drive or ride the bus and use trains to get to places that are adjacent to where you currently are. It is also important to note that you may save money by using all four types of transportation.
You can also decide when to use each option based on your financial situation.
Places to Stay while Traveling around the Country
Unless you have a large amount of money saved up or you work for a hotel company, the cheapest places to stay are hostels and motels. If you are going to stay in a place longer than a couple of days, you can look into Airbnb's or higher quality hotels.
Taking a Chance and Staying in Hostels
Hostels are more common in international cities and countries but they are not as common in the United States. This is mainly because these forms of hotels are intended for backpackers, and people do not backpack throughout this country as often.
Hostels are low-budget accommodations shared among travelers, and because you are sharing living spaces with strangers, it is important to do thorough research in specific places.
Reserving a Motel Room can be Easier
Motels are common here in the States, and you are more likely to find one in a major city than a hotel. Motels have smaller layouts than hotels and are intended for travelers as well.
Motels are really great if you are traveling in a group because they offer more space, and the cost can be split between you all.
Take Advantage of the Freedom Associated with Backpacking
You can completely abandon any routine or habits that you have created for your normal lifestyle back home. You get the chance to do whatever you want, whenever you want while backpacking. This involves eating certain foods you would not normally eat and at different times. Different cities and states are known for a specific type of food or a cooking style, so while you are in that place, you should experience their culinary culture.
The same advice applies to activities and events that are popular in one area as opposed to others. Take advantage of the differences and similarities and enjoy the spontaneity of going with the flow.
Visit art galleries, museums, cinemas, national parks, canyons, and even theme parks, but most importantly, be safe while traveling.
About The Author: Imani Francies writes and researches for the car insurance comparison site, CarInsuranceComparison.com. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media and specializes in various forms of media marketing.