My girlfriend and I did a 12-month road trip through the US. We drove a total of 20k miles, crossed 35 states, visited 23 National Parks, and stayed in 30+ Airbnbs.
We did it all while working remotely for Google and ClassPass. Both of us have leadership roles, with large teams and tons of meetings! Everything worked out quite well for us personally and professionally. Remote is here to stay and I’m bullish $ABNB and $WE.
What we had with us
- YOLO mindset 😎 We had known each other for just 5 months before canceling our leases and hitting the road.
- Volkswagen Tiguan
- Two big suitcases
- One big grocery bag
- Two backpacks
- Two laptops
- One yoga mat
- Three dumbbells and two kettlebells
- One DJ tripod as a standing desk
How we worked
We worked primarily out of Airbnbs for which we had two requirements:
- Two rooms, separated by a wall so we could take meetings.
- A decent internet connection
I spent most of my working hours on Zoom calls, and I had my laptop on my lap for about half of our trip. I sat on couches, random chairs, the floor, and the car seat. A couple of times I used an ironing board as my desk. Many people asked me about neck, back or wrist pain; I never had any. This was probably due to a combination of luck and proper deadlifts.
Since we did about 20k miles, I'll add 20 interesting facts and 20 photos.
20 fun facts
- In a Perkins in Rapid City, South Dakota, the waitress picked up our accent and asked us, "Are you from foreign lands? Welcome to America 🇺🇸" She genuinely seemed surprised to find a different accent, so we didn't find it offensive.
- Driving through Kansas, Missouri, Indiana and Ohio is an intense exercise of self-reflection. There is literally nothing to look at, so you end up looking within.
- The amount of random warm “good morning” we got on the streets was inversely proportional to the size of the city. Very refreshing coming from SF.
- You think you're outdoorsy until you spend time in Colorado and learn what outdoorsy really means.
- The I95 in South Florida has the most chaotic traffic in the whole country.
- In Montana, one day you wake up to chickens at your door, and the next day you have horses or maybe a bunch of deer. And then, one random day your neighbor is cleaning outside because a fox cut a chicken's head off overnight.
- The west side of the US is incredibly more beautiful than the east. It's also a more chill pace of life, less neurotic and potentially less fun (at least in a hedonistic sense).
- A 10-minute power nap, when sleepy on the road, gives you more sustainable energy than any energy drink.
- A 10-mile hike in Death Valley, in 47 °C weather at 11:30am, was my most brilliant idea. It got more interesting when closer to the end, already somewhat exhausted, we got lost. We inadvertently trespassed a sign of "Do not trespass, potential mine bombs leftover." When we reverted back and realized where we had gotten, my girlfriend had a small panic attack.
- I took cold showers in all the places we stayed. Maine, the Rocky Mountains and Chicago were the coldest. Like sharp diamonds in your skin.
- I saw gas prices ranging from $1.64 in Kansas City to $4.98 in California.
- Thanks to two snowstorms, we didn't have to move the car due to street cleaning during our 3 weeks in the West Village.
- On the first day in Brooklyn, I got a ticket for turning right on a red light. The police officer explained to me how to come out clean since my plate was from California, where turning right on a red light is allowed.
- We hit the highest altitude in Island Lake, Colorado, at ~4200 meters, and the lowest altitude in Death Valley at 50 meters below sea level. The coldest was Dillon, Colorado, with -22 C
- Washington and Oregon were unexpectedly beautiful. You won't see brighter trees than the ones in the Northwest on a sunny day right after 9 months of rain.
- We got our first COVID shot in a Safeway in Rapid City, South Dakota, while we were grocery shopping. "We have excess vaccines that will expire if nobody gets them. If anyone wants to get vaccinated, come by the pharmacy." When we got to the pharmacy, there was an astonishing number of zero people interested in getting the vaccine.
- It's not a great idea to drive for 6 hours straight after getting the second COVID shot.
- "Do not leave the house at all today!" texted our Airbnb host in Washington DC on January 6, 2021. We were a 5-minute walk from the Capitol right when it was being attacked.
- Cracker Barrel is the best breakfast chain, clearly ahead of others like Perkins, Denny’s or IHOP.
- The country is less divided face-to-face than in social media.