23 Things I Learned Visiting 24 States in 25 Days

Who would drive 8,141 miles in 25 days, covering 26 states and stopping to visit 15 friends and family and 11 National Parks along the way? Apparently, this girl. Let me tell you, this country is big. Like huge. Like I could sleep for a month ginormous. And three days after I get back, I’m off to Atlanta for almost a week to speak at the awesome NAMS conference.


Here are the 23 things I learned on this cross-country road trip…

23. I have the BEST friends EVER. Many of my friends let us crash at their homes – even if it was only for one night.


22. I learned how to play Frisbee Golf. I think I tried once before, and failed miserably. Honestly I didn’t do much better this time around, though it was a beautiful day… so there’s that. 🙂


21. I like weird stuff. The Badlands are pretty cool. Devil’s Tower is awesome. I discovered on this trip that I love weird rock formations. OK, so I’ve always loved rocks, but I just don’t get a kick out of “beautiful” scenery like mountainous landscapes and sunsets. Sure, they’re pretty, but give me some strange rock formations and a funny animal or weird-looking bug to study and I’m on Cloud 9. (Does anyone even know where Cloud 9 is and if there are any cool rocks there?)


20. Mt. Rushmore is a lot bigger than I thought it was. And it’s a good thing the sculptors didn’t carve the nostrils. Can you imagine looking up one of those giant noses to see giant nose hairs? Gross…

19. Michigan has pretty good ice cream. Seriously, we crossed the state line from Wisconsin to Michigan only to have ice cream. Some things are worth going the extra literal mile.

18. Eating healthy is hard on the road. I even brought my Vitamix (yes, in the Miata!) and made green smoothies throughout the entire trip. I ate salads when I could, but had to eat a lot more red meat than I’m used to because of my gluten allergies. And bison burgers are so gosh darn tasty…

17. Traveling has got to be one of the easiest ways to gain weight. I think I gained about 10 pounds on this trip, just because I was sitting for so long. Except the few moments at gas stations and rest areas where I busted through some awesome (OK, pretty rusty) karate moves.


16. Driving 8,141 miles in 25 days is not the way to “get away” to write a book. I didn’t even crack the spine of one of the research books I brought with me. While I opened my computer to stay on top of in-process client jobs and email, I didn’t open my book file once… which brings me to the next point…

15. Don’t set any lofty goals when you plan to be on the road for a month. It’s just one way to beat yourself up every day for making zero progress. Focus on enjoying the scenery and the moments instead of trying to get a project done.

14. There’s not much to see in Montana. It’s kinda like one giant fly-over state. Sorry to any of you who live there, I’m sure where you live, it’s beautiful! It was mostly desert wasteland for the route we took.

13. The Wild West is so so so so dry!! I have severely dry skin. I was putting on regular lotion 2-3 times a day and then sunblock every 2 hours after that! I could never live out West.

12. And don’t even say “it’s a dry heat.” I’ll take humid Floridian heat over “dry heat” any day! In fact, where I grew up in Florida, it feels like 90 on a 110-degree day, not 150. And I don’t think it’s ever reached 116 like it did in Death Valley!


11. There’s a reason they call it Death Valley. I can’t believe people actually work there in the National Park. And how do they get ice cream there? Yes, I had to eat some. It’s a mystery that I’ll never fully understand, as my ice cream was halfway melted by the time I got from the store to my car.


10. Speaking of a lack of water, Minnesota lakes are awesome. In the summertime. I’ve been there when the entire state was under a 10-foot-high snow drift, and while like with Death Valley I don’t know how anyone could live that way, I definitely see why my friends like Bob The Teacher enjoy Minnesota summers.

9. I like rodents. OK so I’ve always liked rodents. Sorta. But now I like them even more in the get-the-stuffed-animal-version-from-the-gift-shop sort of way. Like I said back up in #21 above, I like weird things. When I was a kid I wanted to be an Entomologist. I guess rodents are just a small step up from bugs, huh?

8. Every time someone smiles for a photo, it doesn’t mean they’re happy inside. This trip was hard for me. Hard on my still-healing body, hard on my mind, hard with my transition of expanding my business to bring on more staff while being gone for a month… stinking hard. Yeah, there are photos of me smiling. And those who know me well can tell which ones I’m actually crying inside.

7. CEOs don’t get month-long vacations. In a done-for-you service-based business, somebody has to be there for clients. If anything to let them know you’re still in business. This has caused me to open my eyes and make some tough decisions regarding the future of my company. I want to be able to travel for months at a time stress-free. And the business is still too young to be able to ignore it completely. It’s like the teenager you can semi-trust to feed himself, but you can’t trust him with your fridge and your credit card for a whole week unsupervised. Yep, that’s the age my business is in. It wants its independence and it wants to give me more freedom, and it’s still figuring out how everything works.

6. Trips are not always vacations. According to Webster, a “vacation” is defined as: a period of time a person spends away from home, school, or business in order to relax or travel. First, yes, it was a “period of time away from home.” But I was still working. If only to do the bare minimum necessary to communicate with my team members and manage a few client projects. And I relaxed about two days out of the 25. When I’m used to recharging every Sunday when I’m at home and my physical body was on overdrive from all the driving and sleeping in a different bed each night for a month… well, those two days weren’t enough. So please, don’t call it a vacation. It was a road trip. I’ll let you know when I take a real vacation. In fact, you may think I’ve died because I’ll stop posting on Facebook for a week as I sit on a beach somewhere sipping green smoothie reading a book… ahhhh bliss…

5. I have limits. I’ve had people tell me I get more done than ten other business people they know combined. I don’t see that. Maybe I’m too close to it. What I have seen lately is even though I’m getting healthier, I’m not super woman. (Dang it!)


And now I have a sudden desire to watch The LEGO Movie… #thatisall


4. I will never take my own toilet paper for granted. One of my friends made the point that I could buy my own TP and take it with me. Which is great, in theory. Did I mention we drove my Miata?!? We were stuffed to the max as it was. I even had to ship two packages of stuff home. Though I’m seriously thinking of bringing a pack of the stuff to NAMS… One small reminder of home.

3. My own bed is the best. OK, everyone thinks that about their own bed. It feels comfy, it smells like you, the sheets are exactly the way you like them, yadda yadda. But really what makes my bed the best is the memory foam mattress. So comfy it makes me want to spend more time at home and less time traveling!

2. An RV might be in my future. If I ever try a trip like this again, even a mini version, I want to at least rent an RV. The idea of sleeping in the same bed and using the same toilet every day sounds soooooo appealing. I’d love to live in one for at least three weeks, just to get a feel for if it’s possible to be in that space and not kill the poor man living with me (and putting up with me 24/7). It is about eight times the size of the Miata, so maybe… #timewilltell

And… drumroll for #1…

1. This trip opened my eyes and changed the course of my life forever. It showed me that my ex-husband (who was my husband at the time) and I wanted completely different things from life. We were on different paths and growing in opposite directions. While we’d been in counseling for a year, this trip made it clear to me that if I wanted to continue my path of personal growth, I couldn’t do so with him in my life. I made the decision and by early October 2014 I’d started my new journey. (Yes, this is an update after this post was originally written.)

Have you ever taken a long road trip? What have you learned about yourself in the process?

Maybe like me after this trip, you need someone to talk to… to bounce ideas off of, a support structure to help you clarify your life and project goals. If so, schedule your “On Demand” laser coaching session with me today at KristenOnDemand.com.

Leave a Comment

  • Judy Jackson
    August 1, 2014

    Looooove love love road trips. Took one similar to yours in a little Mazda RX-7… with camping gear! I am now a packing expert.

    Absolutely do go for a road trip in an RV. We did, and loved it sooooo much that we decided to do it permanently for about 9 years. Really really miss that lifestyle and the adventure.

  • Connie Dunn
    July 30, 2014

    It definitely depends on who you are taking the trip with. I took a trip with my ex-husband and our teenage daughter. He was grumpy; she was grumpier. I wanted to stop at the Grand Canyon, which was maybe a 30 minute excursion off the Interstate.

    My wife and I have taken several long trips. When my mom was alive and living in Tennessee, we drove there every year. Haven’t been back, although we loved the Smokies!

    We’ve taken many trips up into Vermont and New Hampshire. One of my favorite trips was to Acadia National Park. This year, we’ll take a week-long vacation in Maine in a couple of weeks! I’ll have to check e-mails, of course!

    It helps to go somewhere and stay there several days or the week! It’s then more restful and a vacation. We like to go into nature…it’s more restful!

    Connie Dunn recently posted…Break the Monday Morning Blues!My Profile

  • Chuck Sutherland
    July 29, 2014

    Last year I took a long 2400 mile trip for my real estate development work. I bought a very used RoadTrek Mini-RV. It is actually built on a Dodge Ram 3500 Truck Chasis, so it was very easy to drive (except when the wind could it’s broad face). Frankly, I didn’t stay overnight in it unless I had no other alternative. The good news: I had all of my stuff with me. I could stop anywhere without worrying about finding a hotel. And I had an emergency bathroom wherever I went.That was terrific! The Bad News: Those Mini-RVs are terribly cramped for any kind of extended stay. I recommend that you rent instead of buying unless you determine that you can’t live without one. Chuck Sutherland

  • Faydra
    July 29, 2014

    What great memories. I am so glad I was able to host you and your hubby for a couple of awesome nights. I am bitter that you failed to mention you are now a God Mother, but since Claire can’t read, she is none the wiser. It was such a blessing having you here and for the record, I am willing to provide any sort of TP you desire in the future.

  • Elke Feuer
    July 29, 2014

    Love the sign on your car, Kristen! 🙂

    I grew up on a small island and never learned how to use a map. Who needs it on an island 26 miles long and 8 miles wide? If my husband and I had married before GPS devices, we’d never travel together.

    We travel well together because we’re more relaxed when on vacation. Mind you, it’s usually for 14 days. Who know what would happen if it were longer than that. Lol!
    Elke Feuer recently posted…3 benefits of being a romance judgeMy Profile

  • Mary OBrien
    July 29, 2014

    I learned that I do not like long road trips unless I can stay two days at one place to really see it. Going through many states or many countries, and only seeing snippets of each does not suit my traveling style.

  • Betty
    July 29, 2014

    Tomorrow will mark a 20 year road trip that I’ve taken with my husband! I’ve learned that in sickness and in health really means something to the man! And I’m eternally grateful. I guess you could say that’s what I’ve learned about myself. I’m grateful for everything I have, because I didn’t always have it, and I may not have it tomorrow. But I will have it in the eternities! That’s the promise of a good marriage.
    Betty recently posted…Faith Is KnowingMy Profile