My Sociable Solo Road Trip Across America
The American dream… One of those dreams many people have, but that most of the time remains a dream. A bit more than a year ago, I met a lovely girl at the Dublin Lindy Exchange, a yearly event that gathers Lindy hop and blues dancers from all over Europe to come together and dance the entire weekend, and we shared our love for traveling and for America. Happy and excited to have each found our soul mate, we started to plan our three-month road trip across America.
Unfortunately, about a week before we were supposed to hit the road, she got very ill, and the doctors decided she couldn’t make such a big journey. My friend’s situation is okay now and she is much better, but at the time we had to make a decision. We had planned the entire trip together, and my mind was set to spend the next three months traveling with her and sharing all of the experiences with a travel companion.
She told me that I was strong enough and that I had to give it a go, and if things didn’t work out, I could always take a plane home.
I wasn’t sure if I would be able to travel by myself: I was scared for the unknown, for the big city (New York City) and to be alone. It was she who finally convinced me to go; she said that it was my dream as well and that I had to go and make it come true–for both of us. She told me that I was strong enough and that I had to give it a go, and if things didn’t work out, I could always take a plane home. But at least I would have tried it, so I wouldn’t be able to blame myself later for not going. And she was right. I did go, and I had an amazing time!
On the very first day of my journey, my plane got delayed so I arrived in New York City eight hours behind schedule. The adventure started straight away!
The next day I went to Boston by train, where I stayed at a fellow dancer’s place. We had never met before, but he was a friend of friend. This is how I traveled for most of the time: staying at friends’ places, friends’ of friends, or family of friends. This way I always stayed with a local who guided me around the town/city and not only showed me the touristy spots, but also the unknown hidden pearls. For example: in New York City, I stayed in a fancy apartment in the Upper East Side, a jazzy room up in Harlem and an amazing loft in SoHo!
People often ask me about the most memorable place I visited, but I don’t have an answer for them. Every single place was so different, so new and so unique.
And I had amazing and unique experiences during my road trip across America: I went to speakeasies in Savannah and New York City, stood on top of the Empire State Building, went dancing in dodgy backrooms in New Orleans, saw my first alligators in Gainesville, listened to amazing jazz musicians in a bar along the road in Tampa, took a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon, got rocketed off the side of a 107-story building in Las Vegas, and spent Christmas Eve in a Chinese restaurant with seven Jews.
People often ask me about the most memorable place I visited, but I don’t have an answer for them. Every single place was so different, so new and so unique. If it wasn’t the architecture, then it was the amazing landscape, or the music, the food, or the locals. Many say, and I definitely agree with them, that I was so lucky that my trip went this well. But it is thanks to the people I met on the road, the people who hosted me, and the people who joined me for bits along the way.
On the East Coast, I traveled all the way down from Boston to New Orleans, passing through New York City, Pittsburgh, Asheville, Charleston, Savannah, Gainesville, Miami and Tampa. I covered 2,781 miles by bus, train and carpooling. On the bus and train, I always chatted with the people sitting next to me or across the table from me. They always told me such interesting stories about their lives or about the areas they lived in, or about the place we were going to.
From Asheville to Charleston, I carpooled with two fellow dancers whom I’d met at Lindy Focus, one of America’s biggest dance events in Asheville. We spent a few days in Charleston together, where we were hosted by another dancer we had met the day before, and then we all went our separate ways.
It was so interesting to see how people interacted with one other, how sometimes our paths converged and sometimes they split. It didn’t really matter whether we knew each other for years or only for a couple of days; if we had a connection or shared an interest, it was enough to start a basic friendship.
One fellow traveler once told me, “Before I traveled, I never really understood the meaning of ‘love,’ but now that I’ve traveled through many countries of the world, I finally know what ‘loving’ is. I know how to truly love, not only other people, but also myself.”
It is true that the more you travel and the more you interact with different people, the more you don’t only get to know other people, other cultures and other opinions, but you also get to know yourself. It enriches your life to talk to many people because everybody has her own ideas and opinions, but in the end we are all just people, looking for ways to live our lives to the fullest, and especially to be happy and to be loved.
We rented a camper van together and drove 3,000 miles in three weeks, going through California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah.
On the West Coast, I went from Vancouver (Canada) down to Portland and Santa Rosa by train. In San Francisco, I met up with a dear friend I’d met only six weeks earlier. We rented a camper van together and drove 3,000 miles in three weeks, going through California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah. We passed many national parks, like Zion, Bryce, Sequoia, Grand Canyon, and we visited several cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles. This road trip was an unplanned adventure, but it was definitely one of the highlights of my journey. Sometimes unexpected things can be very exciting and it is always good to stay open-minded and not to miss out on those unique experiences because of their ‘unexpectedness.’
I want to thank everybody who was a part of those amazing three months–all of those incredibly nice people who hosted me (many whom had never met me before and were willing to welcome a total stranger into their homes), the dancers I met at several dance events, and also the people I talked to on the trains and buses and in the streets while wandering around by myself.
During my road trip across America, this country has amazed me in so many ways, but the thing that amazed me the most was the hospitality and friendliness of its inhabitants. There was never a moment when I felt unsafe or unwanted, and there were always people offering to help me or showing me the way. I am so extremely happy that I went on this three-month adventure. It was definitely the most amazing life experience I have had so far and I recommend that everybody to do the same!