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The Great, Maligned American Road Trip

Cross-country drives aren't for escaping responsibility; they're the ultimate test of commitment.
The Great, Maligned American Road Trip
Image: Pim Geerts / Flickr

A few years ago, having just turned 27, I did the unthinkable. I quit my full-time job, moved out of my apartment, sold nearly everything I owned, and spent the next year of my life traveling to all 50 states.

We've long dismissed such epic journeys — physical or otherwise — as immature and escapist. When a 20-something sets off to travel across the country, or around the world, or simply to a new way of thinking, we immediately think of what responsibilities she must be trying to eschew. We imagine what romantic notion of a "find-yourself" adventure she must have in mind.

In fact, these were the voices ringing in my mind as I planned my own road trip. In my early 20s, I might have been given a free pass, I told myself. In my late 20s, I worried it made me seem unreliable, spontaneous, and flighty.

I'm here to tell you: we're wrong about road trips. It turned out to be the most responsible, reliable, committed thing I've ever done.

Traveling for a year forced me to rely on God in a way I never had before. Before I left, I relied on all kinds of things that weren't God. I relied on the "rules" and my ability to follow them, my bank account, my education, my great credit score, my friends, my good reputation and the reputation of my family. In order to go on this journey, I had to let go of each of these things, one by one.

I let go of the guarantee of regular income. Instead, I helped book performances for a musician ...

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