I graduated from college just over a year ago, and about a month after graduating I decided to take a 4-month solo road trip across the country (as a female). It was the best decision I could have made at that point in my life, and has shaped my life in a way that wouldn't have been possible if I'd gone straight to working. Here are 5 reasons I'd recommend this to any recent college grad.
Prove Yourself... To YourselfGiphy
Most people have had some help throughout their entire lives, up until graduating college. When I say "help", I don't necessarily mean financial help, but you've had people there for you throughout your childhood, adolescence, and college years. Whether it's family, friends, teachers, or mentors, you've been able to lean on someone.
When you're on a road trip completely alone, with everyone you know on the opposite end of the country, you have no one else to rely on. You need to figure out where your sleeping that night. You need to figure out how to deal with situations you will inevitably face all on your own. You will quickly realize how much you've relied on other people, and then you'll see how much you can actually handle all on your own.
You can live completely on your own, make all the decisions, and you'll be totally okay. Being able to carry this knowledge with me once I returned from my adventure was a really big deal to me. When things have gotten rough in the past few month, I've been able to return to the knowledge that I can always rely on myself through difficult situations.
Every Day is a New AdventureGiphy
Up until your college graduation, most of your life has been sort of laid out in front of you. Obviously there are curve balls thrown your way and unexpected things will always happen throughout your life, but in general there's been an outline to what you're supposed to do. You go to middle school, high school, apply to college, get into college, and now you've graduated. The next step is completely different for all graduates. Some people may choose to continue schooling, others may volunteer in the Peace Corps, and others will jump right into a job.
If you choose to take a road trip instead of instantly jumping into something new, you'll be eternally greatful because you will experience life in an entirely new way. When you have no one to answer to but yourself, every single day is a new adventure full of endless possibilities. You can do what you want without worrying about school or work. You may not have this opportunity again for a long time, so take advantage of it while you can.
Meet Amazing PeopleGiphy
When you travel alone for months, you will be forced to meet new people and make friends. This was huge for me, because I'm a very shy person who has never really had to meet new people without having the comfort of a familiar friend by my side. This was what terrified me the most about my trip. I was scared I would be completely alone the whole time.
It was just as scary as I'd imagined, at least in the beginning. But then I started becoming close with the people around me. I worked on a farm in New Mexico for 6 weeks, and by the end of it I'd made lifelong friends that I would have never met if I weren't forced out of my comfort zone. This continued for the months following, and I now have friends in all corners of the country.
Learn What's Important to YouGiphy
When you live out of your car for 4 months, you really start to realize what is necessary for you to live. I didn't miss anything I had left behind, and in fact I didn't even use half the stuff I had with me in my car. I didn't care about wearing the same outfits anymore. As long as I was comfortable during my long days on the farms I stayed at, I was happy.
I didn't use my phone nearly as much. Not only did I not have service in a lot of the areas I visited, but I just didn't really care about anything on social media. I was on my own adventure of a lifetime, and I wasn't about to waste any of it staring at my phone. Although I won't lie, I did post on my Instagram every couple of weeks to keep people updated on where I was and all the incredible things I was doing.
Have an Experience Just For YourselfGiphy
One of the weirdest parts of this 4-month, cross-country, solo adventure was returning home and not really having anyone to talk to about it. I mean,I could share some cool experienced I had while my friend listened intently, but they couldn't relate in any way or understand what I experienced. This was a bit difficult at first, it was almost as if this experience were some incredible dream I had.
Then, I realized that I had this amazing, life-changing experience all to myself. I can return to this time in my life and know that it belongs to me, and only me. I did something completely alone, I survived, I had the time of my life, and I can always close my eyes and relive these experiences that I got to have all on my own.
It's possible to do this trip on a fairly small budget, too. I saved up enough money in college to pay for gas and the occasional road meal, but otherwise I spent hardly any money. I stayed at farms across the country through the WWOOF program where you work on a farm in exchange for meals and a place to stay. This program is what made my trip possible, and I'd recommend it to anyone.