My name is Katrina, and I was born and raised just outside of Seattle. I’ve been imagining a road trip around the United States since high school, and three years ago made the decision that no matter what, I would make this happen in the summer of 2013. The Q&A below was written before I left, but it’s all still true. If you’re interested in contacting me, I can be reached at betterthanithought at gmail.com.
How are you traveling?
In my 2001 Volkswagen Jetta. It’s a tiny car, but it’s reliable and despite being 12 years old, it’s only got 45,000 miles on it.
Who are you going with?
Nobody. This road trip is solo. Depending on how things work out I might join up with various friends and family members along the way, but for the bulk of the trip I will be on my own.
Going by myself has never seemed strange to me. I want to do a lot of writing, which tends to be a solo activity (though I know from experience it doesn’t have to be). I also got used to traveling alone during a few trips abroad in college. It can be pretty stressful having to make every decision and reservation alone, but it can be amazing to wander without worrying about anyone but yourself.
Don’t you have a job?
I do. I have a great job in fact. They’ve known about my plans since the day I went into interview with them, and I’ll be returning to work in the fall. I’m extremely fortunate to have this kind of safety net in place, but it wasn’t there when I first decided to go. I was prepared to quit whatever job I had if it was standing in the way of going on the trip.
Where will you stay?
I’m hoping for a mix of camping, couchsurfing, and friends. I’ll have the gear to car camp by myself, and couchsurfing.org is a great community for people who like to travel and who like to meet other travelers. As for friends, I know a smattering of people across the country, but more importantly I know people who know people. There are a few places on my trip where I’ll be staying with complete strangers who happen to be the aunt/old roommate/brother of someone I know here in Seattle.
Where are you getting the money?
I’ve been saving up specifically for this since January of 2010. With stable employment, an eye for frugality, and enough desire, it’s not that hard to save up a lot of cash. I’m well above my initial goal of $10,000, though I will be the first to admit that number was invented out of little more than air. I’ll be tracking my expenses as I travel and update my readers with where the money tends to go. I’ve been warned a third of it will be spent on gas.
In September of 2009 I was sitting in the kitchen of a woman I didn’t really know eating half-frozen cookies and listening to her and her sister talk with my grandfather about their respective travels over the years. With each passing story, they all agreed how glad they were they did it, no matter the difficulty or expense. “But that’s just what you gotta do so long as you’re young enough to do it,” said the old woman. “Go, go, go while you can.”
I’m a writer and I want to see my country. And every passing year it will become harder to do so. I have to go while I can.