What I Learned Going On An American Road Trip

Going on an American road trip is the stuff dreams are made of, whether you have a desire to travel or not (who doesn’t?). To be honest, I never thought I would get the chance to say I’d done one, until now. 

A couple of years ago, our lovely friends Lindsay and Michael got engaged and invited us to their wedding being held in Lindsay’s home state of Minnesota, America. So of course we jumped at the chance to go, but it would seem a little silly to head thousands of miles across the world and not make the most of it right? So 8 of us (3 more joined later) decided to start planning the trip of a lifetime. I had no idea where to begin, but luckily one of the couples in the group stood out to be particularly good at planning what was turning out to be a pretty complex trip for so many people - shout out to you guys Chloe and Scott, you’re awesome. A year of planning later and September 2018 couldn’t come around fast enough! I remember packing the day before (standard) and thinking ‘I can’t believe we’re actually going’. The excitement was real! 

 
 
Snake River, Grand Teton National Park

Snake River, Grand Teton National Park

 
 

To give you an idea of distance, we covered 7 states in 2 weeks, including one internal flight. 2200 miles was driven, we stayed in 3 motels, 6 Airbnb’s and saw 9 National Parks! It went a little like this - New York City then flew to Salt Lake City, then drove to onto Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, ending up in Minnesota. It was everything I had hoped for and so much more.  

Here’s a few things I learned (and gained) from going on a trip of a lifetime..

Ok first, lets get one thing straight. The film cliches are true! We saw lots of cowboys, COWBOYS! On actual horses, just riding through the barren land. Like a lot of things in America, the supermarkets are humongous and have entire aisles of the same item, like peanut butter and hundreds of variations of cereal. You can drive for miles and not pass another car or form of life other than animals. Guns are a thing, and they’re advertised everywhere. There is drive-through anything and everything, not surprising but still pretty awesome to see.

 
 
Somewhere in the West, America

Somewhere in the West, America

 
 

I think I learnt what feeling free really feels like. Ok I know I sound cheesy, but driving or walking for miles through undisturbed land, inhaling the freshest air you’ve ever smelt and not a soul to be seen for miles, is hard to beat. Taking each day as it comes, forgetting any worries you have and living slowly for once. That’s what freedom feels like.

National Parks are even more epic in real life and Yellowstone National Park did not disappoint, we saw bears chilling in their natural habitats for godsake! Definately some pinch me moments in there.

 
 
The Badlands, South Dakota

The Badlands, South Dakota

 
 
 
Snake River, Grand Teton National Park

Snake River, Grand Teton National Park

 
 

I gained a newly found perspective of the world. Perspective of how small we are and how large and beautiful the world is. You really don’t realise how gigantic the USA is until you spend days driving from state to state, the possibilities of exploring seemed endless.

 
 
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

 
 
 
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Friends. Here’s where things get emosh! I’m not one to have lots of friends, or even lots of people around me, I like to keep my circle pretty tight knit. Before this trip, I was always wary of gaining new friends because what if they’re not actually a friend after all? However, the 10 others i was on the trip with showed me that a friend is someone who makes you feel like you can be totally yourself, without judgement and I am so lucky to have gained 10 amazing friends who all make me feel exactly that. (Aww FWEND)

 
Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

 
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Enough with the soppy stuff, here’s a few things to definitely pack -

  • Lip balm. For some reason we all managed to get really dry lips, maybe it was the air conditioning in the cars, who knows. But bog standard Carmex became my bff, and it happens to be dirt cheap in America.

 
 
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  • If you’re going in two cars like us, walkie talkies are a must. We bought them in Walmart and they were probably the most useful thing we had, since you’ll be charged for using data roaming on your phone, communicating costs nothing with these. 

  • Leggings, lots of pairs of leggings! I wish I had taken more! Being in a car for a few hours most days, comfort becomes a priority and these bad-boys are basically pyjamas in disguise.

 
 
Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

 
 
 
Prismatic Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

Prismatic Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

 
 
  • Don’t bother packing books, there is too much to see to be distracted with reading. The chances of seeing wildlife are pretty high, and it can happen at any moment, so we were on wildlife watch for all of our car journeys, which definitely paid off seeing lots of bison, elk, coyote, eagles, moose, bears and more, sometimes just a glimpse for a split second.

  • Do take lots of skincare but avoid taking too much make up! Obviously I took my whole make up bag, which I only used for the day of the wedding, but otherwise, putting make up on becomes the least of your concerns, day to day I just slathered my face in skincare. My ultimate dry skin saviours were this and this.        

 
 
Willamsburg, New York City

Willamsburg, New York City

 
 
 
New York City

New York City

 
 

Taking a trip like this not only widens your perspectives on almost everything, but also allows you to lose touch with reality a little, which isn’t such a bad thing when you’re faced with the fast paced life of living in a city like London.

Needless to say, I recommend anyone and everyone to do a trip like this, it will empty your bank account but undoubtedly fill your heart.

Until next time,

Sophy x