We’ve been on the road for a full three months. It’s time for a check-in. The experience has been mostly as I expected with a few surprises.
I’ve been tracking expenses loosely since we left on June 1st and happy to report we’re a little under budget 👍. By far the single most expensive part of the trip has been accomodation (as expected) at 53% of total costs so far, with food coming in second (groceries 14%, dining out 12%). Purchases 6% (gifts, one-offs like shoes or clothing), and fuel 4% make up 89% of the costs. The rest comprises entertainment, parks & rec passes, car/bike/human maintenance, drinks/bar, coffee from coffee shops, and other misc costs make up the final 11%.
~9500 miles driven so far covering Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah. Then directly up to British Columbia in Canada, followed by Seattle and Portland before making our way east to Minnesota where we are now.
Petrified Forest AZ, Archers UT, Grand Tetons WY, Yellowstone WY, Glacier MT and Alberta Canada. Many more state parks in the north west corner of the US.
The first three months has seen us cram a lot of stuff into a short period of time. Between now and mid-Decemnber when we plan to pop back down to Houston, we expect the pace to slow significantly, with more time spent in fewer places. While the trip to date has been AMAZING, the frantic pace has meant I’ve already forgotten many of the cool things we’ve seen and done :( Fortunately I’ve been photographing the journey (link in bio).
I took far longer to get comfortable with packing the car in such a way to be quick and predictable but also dynamic enough to easily switch between camping, short stays at a house, and 3+ day longer stays. For example, we’re now packing a small clothing bag for 2–3 day stays vs pulling out our larger bags, and on longer stays we unpack most of the car so we have full access to all clothing and can do a proper clothes and dishes wash. Randomly accessed stuff like camping gear and bike clothes all live on the cargo box on top of the car. The box has only recently been packed to allow piece-meal removal of items like a bike pump and helmets, tools, or rarely-needed shoes.
I find myself much more comfortable when we stay for longer periods in one place, whether it’s camping or in an AirBnb accomodation. I feel like I’m “living” the vacation vs “travelling”. If I were to start again, I’d focus more on the places and cities I’d really love to see and forego some of the places I was less excited by. Quality vs quantity I suppose.
The most surprising thing for me is I’m already thinking of my career when we return. (Side note: it took me more than a month to really switch off from the job I left in Houston, and the main catalyst for that was finally being removed from the company’s Slack. Turns out my mind needed to be forcefully removed from work to finally relax). I guess I miss being involved in the design industry and working with many great and talented people (Kelly, obviously, notwithstanding). With any downtime (and internet access) I continually read and update myself on the evolving design industry at a high-level, occasionally dipping down into code-level issues and emergent philosophies. At the high-level, I’m excited and concerned about how much the industry will move forward particularly in machine learning and AI before I get back to work, and how far behind I may be, but at the same time I know the cutting edge developments will take some time to manifest on the ground in most companies.
Stability vs mobility
I’ve concluded that in general I like having a stable home vs a travelling one. I like having things in their place and not having to clean up and pack every few days. I like having access to anything I need to anything I want. One example of this is my severely reduced travelling bike toolkit. I’ve had to drop our bikes in for small maintenance jobs to local bike shops when I know it’s work I could do myself if I had my tools. Also, the standard of work can be (and has been) lower than I would do myself. This annoys me greatly, and I generally find it hard to comprise like this despite being mentally prepared for it. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Great experience so far, particularly when I’m not up in my head thinking about what to do when we return to work in nine months.
8/10. Would recommend.