WHY I’M QUITTING MY JOB TO TRAVEL FOR 3 MONTHS + HOW WE ARE MAKING IT WORK

It’s no secret 2020 was an incredibly hard year, full of heart ache and heart break. I had 9 patients die in 11 days. For context, that was a quarter of the building. It sounds dramatic, but I don’t think I’ll ever recover emotionally. Then you add a management team that not only laughed at the request for hazard pay for time spent working in COVID units, but then approved company wide pay cuts at the turn of the year. Talk about demoralizing and dehumanizing.

While I strategically turned my $0.78 pay cut into a $3 raise (that’s a story for another day), I knew I was putting a huge target on my back. In lieu of the pay cuts, diminishing morale, and the release of the COVID vaccine, Kyle and I started to plan a summer vacation to get away from it all.

What started out as a dream, 2 to 3 week road trip to see my brother and visit a couple National Parks out west, quickly expanded as our imaginations ran wild and our road trip wish list kept growing. It became clear to us that we weren’t planning a 2 week road trip, but instead a 10 to 12 week cross country road trip.

And thus, the Great American road trip (or GART) was born.

We knew we would need to quit our jobs and decided on the end of July. It just so happened we had no weddings and no other commitments in the months of August, September, and the first half of October.

We jokingly started calling this our first retirement, but the sentiment has really stuck.

Why?

Why should we wait to travel when we’re in our mid to late 60s? Shouldn’t we be exploring the USA and National Parks in our 20s? When we physically can climb mountains? Hike 20 or more miles? Sleep on the hard ground? Live off of pop tarts and goldfish?

No pets. No house. No kids. It’s now or never. So we picked now.

In February, July seemed so far away, but here we are, just a week left until we leave.

How

This definitely didn’t happen over night. The planning nor the saving.

Kyle and I spent about 3 weeks finalizing the list of cities, states, and National Parks we wanted to visit along the way, knowing our 3 main stops would be Lincoln, Seattle, and San Diego because these are the major cities where we could stay for 3 to 4 days with friends and family. From there, Kyle spent another 4 to 5 weeks researching each NP to read up on relevant COVID restrictions, securing back country permits, and getting campsite reservations for primitive sites inside a majority of parks. I’ve been focusing on setting up hotel reservations in the major cities we are stopping through and compiling a list of local coffee shops, bakeries, donut shops, breweries, barbeque joints, pizzerias, etc., and of course, used book stores.

Financially, this has been quite the undertaking. We started saving back in March of 2020, when we were hoping to just go to Yellowstone and Grand Teton in October of 2020. That didn’t happen due to COVID restrictions, but never the less, we continued to save. By February of this year, we had saved about 3k with the goal to have 10k set aside for the trip in total.

We haven’t even left Ohio yet and I think combined we’ve already spent 6 to 7k, cue heart palpitations.

What I didn’t anticipate was how much new camping gear we’d be buying e.g. a new light weight tent, NEMO sleeping pads (2), camping pillows (2), backcountry backpacks (2), light weight day pack (1), trail runners (2) , 2 burner camp stove (1), backcountry stove (1), bear spray (2), bear canisters (2), assorted tools, kitchen supplies, first aid kits and medical gear.

One of the largest expenses has been our new Canon point and shoot digital camera, which we hope to have for years and years to come. Then of course we needed to buy a camera case, strap, and tripod. Our new motto became, another day, another hundred dollars.

We made a majority of large purchases from REI at the end of May when they ran their anniversary sale where we scored a lot of big ticket items for 20-30% off. Given the amount of weight I lost in 2020, I needed to update my camping and hiking wardrobe. I bought shorts and base layer items from REI during the sale, then sourced short sleeve and long sleeve polyester tshirts from Goodwill and found some really great stuff for a couple bucks each.

While the upfront cost of all our new gear has stung, it’s a relief to know we bought high quality gear that we likely won’t have to upgrade or replace for 5 to 10 years, maybe even longer. Other than buying groceries and replenishing first aid kits and medical supplies, our future camping trips shouldn’t cost anywhere close to the cost of this 11 week trip.

This time next week, our adventures begins. We are so excited to explore the stunning and diverse landscapes of our vast country – from the rainforests of Washington, to the Glaciers of Montana, to the deserts of California, to the red-rock formations in Utah, and everything in between.

Until next time, Meryn


2021-07-28T08:00:00

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GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP


SUMMER + ROAD TRIP TBR linked here
2021 GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP: TO BUY LIST linked here
2021 GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP: ITINERARY UPDATE linked here
LIFE UPDATE: WE’RE QUITTING OUR JOBS + TAKING THE GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP linked here

2021 GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP: TO BUY LIST

I knew buying equipment for this trip would be expensive, but damn. Kyle keeps reminding me, “buy once, cry once” shortly followed by, “buy cheap, buy twice.” Thankfully, REI has their annual Anniversary sale starting at the end of this week, so some of the big ticket items we need to buy yet, we’ll be able to pick up at a discounted price.

REI Anniversary Sale details linked here

NEED / HIGH PRIORITY / ESSENTIALS
WANT / WISH LIST / NON-ESSENTIAL

Say Yes to Adventure Unisex Tee
Keep Nature Wild
$28

National Park Welcome Tee
Parks Project
$36

after the trip / documentation / memories

National Park Explorer’s Map
Explorer’s Map
$84

Half Dome Film Print
Abby Leighton
$20

Teton #2 Film Print
Abby Leighton
$20

Parks Book
Parks Project
$55

Until next time, Meryn


2021-07-28T10:00:00

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Great American Road Trip

2021 GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP: ITINERARY UPDATE

Kyle and I have been hard a work reserving campgrounds, securing backcountry permits, and hotel hunting for our road trip, just over 90 days to go! There have been some changes to the itinerary, and probably more to come. For now, this is our tentative itinerary. Most notably we opted to remove Cheyenne, Wyoming and instead add stops in Casper, Wyoming and Jackson, Wyoming. While we did lose a capitol city with skipping Cheyenne, we gained Olympia, Washington which I’m very excited to add to the list.

St. Louis, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri
Lincoln, Nebraska
Scotts Bluff National Monument
Casper, Wyoming
Jackson, Wyoming
Grand Teton National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Helena, Montana
Glacier National Park
Spokane, Washington
Seattle, Washington
North Cascades National Park
Seattle, Washington
Olympic National Park
Olympia, Washington
Mount Rainier National Park
Portland, Oregon
Salem, Oregon
Eugene, Oregon
Crater Lake National Park
Crescent City, California
Redwood National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Carson City, Nevada
Yosemite National Park
Sequoia National Park
Kings Canyon National Park
San Diego, California
Joshua Tree National Park
Death Valley National Park
Great Basin National Park
Zion National Park
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Bryce Canyon National Park
Capitol Reef National Park
Moab, Utah
Canyonlands National Park
Arches National Park
Montrose, Colorado
Black Canyon of the
Gunnison National Park
Mesa Verde National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Garden of the Gods

Until next time, Meryn


2021-07-28T10:00:00

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Great American Road Trip