• Julianna Sweeney

Reflections On Our Cross Country Trip | 6 Months Later


6 months ago today, Tyler and I embarked on a roadtrip across the country.


Still cannot believe it's been half of a year already.


It's been a crazy ride since then. It's amazing how much can happen in such a short amount of time. It's also fascinating how time molds and compartmentalizes our experiences.


Below, we put together some takeaways and reflections, as well as answered some questions brought to us by friends and family, that we hope will help you on your journey one day!


Reflections On Our Cross Country Trip | 6 Months Later

On Pacing...

If you want to get the most out of your trip, don't push yourself beyond your limits. One thing that we really feel like we did right was keep our driving time to between approx. 4-6 hours per day (with the exception of the last day). It got us to where we needed to be on schedule but didn't make us completely sick of being in the car. We also made it a rule to be comfortable so there was minimal "holding it" in terms of bathroom breaks. This made the drive really enjoyable.


On Expectations...

We had SO much planned to do on the way and in every town/city we stopped at. Even with really good pacing, it's important to keep in mind that driving is tiring. Between the visual information overload of constantly seeing new surroundings and the subconscious stress of being alert all the time, plan to be more tired than you'd expect. We only got to accomplish a tiny fraction of what we thought we were gonna be able to do/wanted to do. It's also important to treat the cross country trip like a "sample platter." Unless you're literally taking months and have the time and resources to stay everywhere and do everything that you want, keep in mind that you are getting a sampling of a bunch of new and exciting places. You can always come back and make a trip specifically for a place you wished you had more time in.


On Surrendering To The Journey...

There are going to be things - a lot of things - that don't go according to plan, good and bad. By being open to them, you're allowing room for the good to come pouring in and the lessons to be learned from the bad. Even though we weren't able to see everything that we had planned for, God opened up other little gems that we were able to see and things we were able to do. We saw a fatal car accident happen right next to us - it could have been us - and it made us all the more careful, vigilant and grateful the rest of the way. Tyler got my ring size at this little town in the middle of nowhere Texas where we had to stop to charge the car. We had originally planned to go to Albuquerque until our friend in Texas mentioned we should check out Santa Fe - and it turned out to be one of the most beautiful and memorable stops on our trip. We didn't get to see the Grand Canyon but the day we drove from Flagstaff, AZ to Delano, CA was the most incredible day of driving with all of the contrast of the mountains, rocky desert, sandy desert, volcano fields, mountains, rolling hills and farmland. Everything happens for a reason. Surrender and trust the journey.


What were your favorite places/the places that really stuck out to you both? Would you go back to visit/live there?

We fell in love with Texas as well as Santa Fe, NM and Flagstaff, AZ. We would definitely see ourselves going back to visit all three. In regards to moving though, we don't think we'd want to live in Santa Fe or Flagstaff based on their location. Neither of us had really been out in the southwest - it was like this completely different world that's just always been there. It was unlike anything we'd ever seen before and God willing, we'd definitely like to get back and visit again.


Were there any places you stopped to eat that really stuck out to you?

The only places that we can say without a doubt that we'd go back to (that weren't chain restaurants) were The Waffle Taco in Nashville and The Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo. Tyler and I were really thinking about that and in terms of eating out, we didn't stop anywhere that really wowed us other than those two.


How much do you "really" need to pack?

When Tyler and I drove, we packed the car to the brim with his stuff since he was moving out there. I only packed a duffle bag's worth of clothes and that's about all he used too. We also had a backpack with chargers, cards, our binder and books. Then we had 1 bag of snacks, a few gallons of water and a bag with vitamins, medicine, toiletries, etc. Realistically you don't need to pack all the much. It's all a matter of preference but if you're really mission oriented, you can get away on minimal packing. I wore the same outfit twice before discarding - unless we went out or on a walk/hike. Keep in mind that if you are stopping to stay at airbnbs or friends (and certain hotels), you can most likely use the washer and dryer to clean clothes. Just be sure you're prepared with medicine, lots of water and a pocket knife in case of an emergency as well as something to read/do while you're in the car (see my cross country recap and travel guides posts for more details). Also keep in mind that if you have valuables, you are going to want to bring them inside the hotels with you every single time - don't take chances leaving anything in the car. Keep that in mind when deciding what to bring (it was a pain lugging heavy music gear in and out of hotels every night, but necessary for us at the time).


Is there anything that you would have changed or done differently looking back now?

Not really in regards to our circumstances at the time (If we didn't have to lug everything it might have been a little more enjoyable - we wouldn't have had to worry about leaving the car with the stuff in it - but we were moving him out). I would say personally maybe have less sugary snacks on hand since they're easy to over indulge on and then regret it lol. Maybe also doing some more research on the front end, but overall, it was a really transformative experience. We learned a lot for sure. It was not always easy but it definitely brought the two of us a lot closer together.




I wish that everyone could have the opportunity to do this trip. I understand that it's not for everyone, but seeing how other people live and just the vast beauty that awaits you is priceless. If it's been on your mind, find an excuse to do it - in any capacity. You won't regret it.


To learn more about how our adventure went, and to see videos of our travels, feel free to visit the following links:


It was such a cool experience to relive and reflect on our journey 6 months later. Thanks for your continued support and for indulging us on our adventures - looking forward to what the future holds. I hope this helps, Happy traveling!


Sending love always,

J.S.

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