When I was in college I had a dream to take a year and travel the United States. Friends were contemplating exchange programs in Europe. I wanted to see America. At the time I dismissed the idea in exchange for getting a job.

I started my career with gusto, quickly adopting workaholic ways. When I would approach burnout, the dream returned. What if I could quit…pack a tent and gear and explore the country for a year.

Last summer, after nearly 5 months of Covid lockdown, I was mentioning this dream to a friend. Her response was, “Missy, maybe it’s not a dream. Maybe the universe has been talking to you and you just didn’t listen.”

That evening I sat in bed thinking about the dream…thinking about the universe…thinking about where my life was and where it was going. It became very clear that the time was now. The next morning I emailed the friend and told her I was doing it. Told her that on January 1, 2021 I was going to hit the road.

Once I started to plan, it became clear that I had been moving in this direction for a few months. Shortly after Covid started and I was spending endless hours on my couch – working during the day, watching TV at night – I ordered an atlas. It was such a random purchase, but I have always enjoyed maps.  I spent months flipping through it and reading about different parks and cities. Then in June, I bought a car. After spending 12 weeks locked in my 800 sq ft apartment in New York City, claustrophobia sets in. I needed a way to escape on weekends and I was willing to take on the ridiculous costs. At this time, this trip wasn’t even a blip on the radar. Not until a friend called me out.

My focus immediately shifted to the trip. I started to research locations, build budgets, shop for gear, and follow anyone who was doing something similar. #VanLife was a growing trend, and a lot of people were hitting the road with families and friends during Covid. I was a sponge for knowledge, tips, suggestions, etc.  It was really scary, but the excitement was greater. All Fall I was living on a white fluffy dream cloud.

I moved out of my New York City apartment and put everything in storage. I stayed with my parents for two months where I bought supplies, built the platform for my car, researched, and rested.

A Christmas time, another wave of Covid swept the United States. But shortly after the New Year, I packed Sammy the Subaru. I think most of my loved ones weren’t 100% certain that I would go through with this. I am not sure I realized that I would do it. Then on January 13, 2021, I got up early, packed the final items in my car, kissed my Mom and Dad goodbye, and hit the road.

The drive out of the neighborhood was surreal. Tears of joy, fear, and excitement filled my eyes. I tossed on my 2021 Adventure Playlist and off I went.  Day 1.