I have been asked many questions about my plans to travel and volunteer. I am answering many of these below. As my travels begin, I will post additional questions and more detailed answers.If you have a question, please ask away!
A: I’m… me. I’m still trying to figure out what that means for the long-term. Which is one purpose of this journey: to see if who I think I am in my head is who I am in the “real world”. The past couple of years have given me plenty of reasons to believe that I am. But I still have this lingering, nagging voice in my head telling me I should be doing more. Helping people more. Learning more. Traveling more. Having more fun. Spending more time with others. Spending more time alone. So…. I’m leaving to do all of those things and…well…more.
Q: When will you begin your journey?
A: It officially began September 10, 2014
Q: Where will you go?
A: All 50 states. I have some specific cities planned right now, and others are up in the air.
Q: How long will you be gone?
A: I plan to visit all 50 states over the course of two years. Because I do not know what the year will bring, I am not making any concrete plans beyond the second year right now. I may leave the road, or I may extend the journey.
Q: What will you really be doing?
A: This is the crux of the entire journey: Most of my time will be spent working for free! My ultimate goal is to do volunteer work for small, local non-profit organizations in every state. I will most likely spend a lot of time volunteering for large non-profits and events as well. But my goal, my heart’s ambition, is to offer whatever services I can to small non-profits. For free.
Q: Work for free?
A: Yep. I truly believe that no matter your talent, interest, hobby or skill – there is a volunteer opportunity out there for you. Every single person has something to offer that is of benefit to someone else. Not only do I want to put my own skills and interests to beneficial use, I also want to explore skills and interests that I may not even know I harbor. It is the simplest way I know to combine my love of travel and my desire to help others.
Q: Why volunteer in America? Can’t you do volunteer work in exotic locations and countries?
A: I’ve thought about that – and I am not opposed to the idea of volunteering around the world. But my interests lie in the needs right here at home first. Having worked for a non-profit, I know the value of volunteers first-hand. Sometimes, that is the difference between an organization being a benefit to their community and having to close their doors. Our country is so varied in its beauty, ways-of-life, personality and needs. There are literally hundreds of thousands of volunteer opportunities in this country. I want my travels to be a part of filling a part of that void. Much of my writing will be about volunteerism and non-profit organizations, with the hope that it inspires those with some spare time on their hands to put their abilities to good use.
Q: How will you be traveling?
A: I am very fortunate to own a fairly new, very reliable car with no car payment. I will be taking the ultimate road trip across America. (Except for Hawaii of course.) I will incorporate ridesharing as a way to both share expenses with someone else, and to assuage my guilt in driving – around the country – in a car – by myself. (No matter how good my fuel-mileage may be, it is always better when you can “carpool”.) Plus I think its kind of cool to be in a position to potentially help someone out with a ride, so if I can, I will.
Q: Where will you stay?
A: In planning my journey, I knew cutting expenses was as important as making money when it came to making it feasible. I plan on using Couchsurfing, and staying with friends and family (or friends of friends and family. Does anyone know anyone living in New Hamshire? Because I don’t.) whenever possible. I have also researched some short-term working opportunities in exchange for lodging. Since I am not a big fan of camping, I will try to do as little as possible. But I’m not opposed to doing so from time to time. Especially when I find myself near beautiful National Parks, etc.
Q: Are you rich or something?
A: I’ll go with the “or something”. (Which is a polite way of saying I’m pretty poor. As in I’ve-been-working-for-a-small-non-profit-arts-organization-for-three-years poor.)
Q: What will you do for money on the road?
A: There are many small jobs and “gigs” out there. I have done a lot of work like this in the past. They are typically very short-term, and not always available on a day-by-day basis, but they do exist. Demo-work, trade-shows, festivals and sampling events are some examples. I will write – a lot! – with plans to submit articles for publication. I also have written a book proposal that I will send out once I begin the journey.
I debated using Kickstarter, GoFundMe or the like to raise money, but I have a hard time asking people to just hand me money. For volunteer work. Doesn’t really jive. So instead – I decided to design some items (t-shirts, postcards) that people can purchase as a way of offering support.
I’m also OK with the notion of bartering services for needs, accommodations or food. I’ll happily clean someone’s house in exchange for use of a couch or shower, etc.
However money happens, I plan to write about it here. I have done a lot of research about how to make money while traveling. Despite finding numerous websites, blog posts and articles on the subject – none of them really told me anything useful. Other than, “yes – you can easily make money while traveling”. Or – “it isn’t as easy as it seems to make money while traveling”. I wasn’t looking for a magic key or the golden ticket – I just wanted some assurance that my ideas were practical and not some rose-colored-glasses plan I had concocted without thinking about the consequences. I found plenty of sites willing to sell me their ideas via ebook, but I couldn’t help but think of those as the new modern day Ponzi schemes. “For $19.95, learn my secrets to making money on the road. Which is to write an ebook about making money on the road, that you can then sell to others looking to make money while on the road, and so on and so on and so on…” Not that I don’t think there are legitimate ways to make money (obviously – I’m going to give it a shot) or even legitimate, free, advice on making money while traveling out there. I’m sure there are. I just became tired of looking for it. But in my course of looking, I decided that I would make that portion of my travels pretty transparent. Just in case there is someone else like me out there. Someone that just wants to sustain themselves on the road, not someone looking to “learn how I make six-figures a month while traveling the world!”
Q: So how can you afford to leave?
A: The same way I can “afford” to stay. I’ve been living a life of working, making money, paying bills, rinse, recycle, repeat. I have expenses staying in one place that I don’t have on the road, and there will be expenses on the road that I don’t have staying in one place. So why not leave? There are many work and money-making opportunities anywhere you find yourself. I am taking the work-to-live philosophy on the road. It really isn’t that different than working-to-live in a house or apartment, etc.
Q: What happens if you run out of money while you’re gone?
A: The same thing that happens when I run out of money when I’m at “home”? I find free things to do, eat-in, don’t buy things I don’t need, etc. All while working to raise funds in order to move forward.
Q: Are you afraid of leaving?
A: I’m more afraid of not doing what I really want.
Q: How can someone support your plans?
There are quite a few ways:
- If you have a volunteer opportunity suggestion, please send it to me!
- You can also sign up to be notified of updates to this website. Feedback on any of the information you find here is always welcome.
- Do you have a travel tip, must-see place, or just want to say “hi”? I’d love to hear from you as well!
- If you want to score yourself some sweet “perks” – like postcards from the road – be sure to check out our Perks page.
- There are also links on the right hand side of each page to various ways you can help. (These will change during the duration of the trip.)
Do you have questions of your own, ask away! I will do my best to answer each one either here or via email.