It’s official. I’m calling my next travel goal: Travel to all 50 USA States by 12/31/18. I have 36 states down, and 14 to go. That gives me about a year and a half ― I think I can get it done sooner, but I want to be open to other travel opportunities, and have more seasonal options, especially for Alaska.
This has been a long term travel goal of mine, there's a long list and I like to pick them out and focus on them one by one as much as I can. I had my dream of traveling to all 7 continents since I was 18 years old; I worked towards that for a total of 12 years, setting a ‘7 by 30’ goal when I was 26 ― I ended up stepping foot on Antarctica 2 months after my 30th birthday (I gave myself a deadline extension, so it still counts!). I also want to visit every country on this planet, along with the South and North Poles, but I don’t have a set deadline for those yet.
I’ve had this specific goal brewing in my head for several months now since my USA road trip in April 2017 (I almost impulse booked a last minute flight to Detroit the other week to cross Michigan off my list ― I’m sure my Mom loved that flurry of text messages #traveldaughterproblems #notthefirsttime #notthelasttime). I've been researching all the states I have left, mapping out potential road trip routes on RoadTrippers, checking out train trips across states, setting flight price alerts, considering my personal budget, etc. I feel like I’m back in 4th grade learning about the states again (shout out to Mr. Mack’s class!).
I purchased a USA scratch off map, and obsessively scratched off every state that I’ve been to the moment I opened it. It helped me visualize the states I had left and how many trips I could do them in as I finalized my decision.
What states do I have left?
After completing all 7 continents, and a trip to Antarctica, why am I setting my sights on America?
AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL
We have 50 unique, majestic, intriguing states that hold some of earth’s most brilliant sights and landscapes. I take for granted everyday how amazing our country and our freedom is here, but I didn’t think I was taking our beautiful states for granted until an international friend mentioned that she wanted to visit the USA states, but had visa issues and is not able to see them. Our passport is powerful, and we should use it and go see and meet the rest of the world, but there is also power to getting to know your entire beautiful and brave country.
EXPLORE MY OWN COUNTRY
Being born and raised in the United States, I really do want to see more of my own country. My focus for so long has been international travel ― that has taken me to over 111 cities across 35 countries and 7 continents ― but when people asked me if I had been to places like Chicago, LA, or Miami, I hadn’t. (I just recently got to explore CHI and LA as an adult ― still haven’t made it to Miami.) At a time when America feels so divided, I feel like focusing on domestic travel will help me to connect with people diverse from all over, and continue to keep our current situation in a realistic and empathetic perspective.
SUCKER FOR A GOAL
I’m a sucker for a goal with a deadline. Combine my travel bug with my OCD fondness for checklists, and you’ve created a travel monster. After my USA road trip this past April, I realized (ok, I didn’t “realize”, of course I have a google doc to track all of this shit) that I had 36 US States down, and 14 to go. I cannot be that close to finishing a checklist and not go ham on finishing it. I’m all about the long game, but being a little antsy can set you ahead of the curve.
CROSS COUNTRY ROAD TRIP INSPIRATION
I found myself inspired after my USA cross country road trip to see more of my beautiful home country and meet more Americans. To be honest, after the election in November I had a few weeks where I wanted to cancel on the road trip and just travel outside of America (Ahh don’t think I ever told Molly this! I was just being melodramatic, I would never bail on you BFF). Luckily I got my shit together, and driving 3,000+ miles across 12 states ended up being an amazing experience. As with every trip, my opinions were challenged, broadened, and evolved. Expectations were shattered. That’s what happens when humans meet face to face, our guards go down and we realize we’re all in this together ― regardless if you’re traveling in America or anywhere in the world.
Another inspiration for my setting this goal was because of my frentor Miriam Thurber. She just turned 20, and not only did she hit 20 countries before her 20th birthday, she has also already traveled to 45 states, with the goal of getting to all 50 by age 25. That motivated me to chase this dream as well; just further proof that those around you truly do impact and influence your life. Miriam told me this about setting travel goals*:
“I'm obsessed with travel, checking things off lists, challenging myself and doing new things. After doing some research, I determined that although the ‘50 by 25 states’ goal was formidable, it was doable. I have 5 states left: Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii. As a college student in Pennsylvania, visiting all 50 states by the time I'm 25 years old is going to require effort, careful planning, and monetary sacrifice in other areas of my life. But, because I love travel, seeing new things, and pushing myself, it seemed like a perfect challenge ― setting goals and chasing dreams always requires discipline and growth.”
*Miriam’s goal setting answers were so awesome and inspiring I wanted to post all the insights she shared with me, so I’ll be sharing a bonus goal post soon!
I love traveling to it's very core, no matter where I’m at or how far I am from home. I am grateful no matter where I get to go, and I get just as genuinely excited about visiting South Dakota as I do Barcelona. Childlike curiosity and excitement have been my key to finding the thrill in everyday life, no matter where I'm at in the world. A trip doesn’t have to be international to be cool, challenging or exotic. Traveling opens up your world in ways you could never imagine. It transforms you ― helping you grow personally and professionally as you face people and situations that you’ve never been exposed to before, making you more adaptable with each adventure you take. Each journey is unique; I encourage you to turn your dreams into goals and never give up.