This past May, I embarked on a two-week vacation, spanning into 3 days driving alone and across the United States. Something changed within me on that trip, and I want to share my experience with you.

It all started with a plan to head to Atlanta, Georgia to the Shaky Knees Music Festival. Having met my travel partner in the prior year at a concert, my plan was to travel to her aboard a bus, and we would drive from there.

Finding friends who are just as crazy as you, and who want to adventure out is key. Sure, you don't have to plan everything out down to the T, but you have to have major time management skills in order to get everything done in time.

Another component of the trip was the money aspect. Being able to say I paid for my vacation by myself at age 18 is pretty special. No help from my family. This was all done by myself, as well as other weekend trips I try to go on monthly now. Working constantly pays off. Limiting my spending while putting money into my savings, as well as setting money aside for what I want to do most — travel!

People thought I was ridiculous for being gone that long, but the vacation was 5 months in the making. Planning strategically around work and school was tough, but it brought me closer to my friends and taught me a few valuable life lessons.

1. Being on your own without your parents for the first time is something different.

Sure, I've been away from home for a couple days, but never states away. Having an emergency care run on your own in Atlanta without your insurance card serves as a problem. However, I walked away unharmed, just slightly dazed for the rest of the trip.

2. Although everything wasn't perfect, the moments that were made up the difference.

I can proudly say taking a sketchy Greyhound was worth every minute of being with my best friends, traveling part of the United States to see my favorite music. Nothing will compare to my first trip alone.

3. Save! It will be worth it in the end.

Start as soon as you can. The sooner you set money aside, the sooner you can book ahead. My spending was severely limited for 5 months in order to get the money I needed to spend on food, gas, etc. You do not have to fly by plane to have an enjoyable trip. Sometimes driving is just as good.

Overall, love where you're going and plan ahead. Best of luck to you, and happy travels!