Have you ever wanted to see the country, but you’ve never done it, and have no idea where to start?

Have you ever dreamed of visiting places you’ve only read about or seen on TV?

Do you get excited about possibilities, yet overwhelmed by logistics, when you think of camping in Yellowstone, seeing San Francisco, or traveling the Oregon Trail?

Uhm…yeah…so do we!

Becky & I visiting the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California

Before I continue, I’m Lee, a photographer and IT guy, and this is my wife, Becky, who works in occupational therapy. We’ve lived our whole life around Cleveland, Ohio. Becky has always been in the West suburbs, and I grew up in a little town 45 minutes out before I moved up to the burbs myself.

We want to inform and encourage the sedentary fearful with a longing for adventure to turn the imaginary into the real.

Anyway…it’s not that we’ve never gone camping, booked a hotel, or gone out of state…we just never did it much on our own. Most people in Northeast Ohio, if they even go out of town on vacation, go to the beach in the Outer Banks or Florida, and a few camp in state parks just outside of the city. There aren’t very many who just go to DC or Chicago for the weekend, even though they’re only 5-6 hours away. And even fewer get as excited about mountains and hiking like they do beaches and sunbathing.

Does a vacation always have to be on the beach?

It’s so easy to get tips on where to go and what to do in Florida…almost everyone has some experience. It’s hard to find people who know which neighborhoods are cool in Chicago or San Francisco. Finding someone who camps or hikes in the mountains is rougher than the mountains themselves. We just don’t live in an area chock full of world or even continental adventurers.

And yet we wanted to see more than a beach. I’ve always had a wanderlust, but I did very little to nurture it…mainly because I thought it would be too scary or too expensive. But then one time I decided I was going to see California! I had a great job and a lot of money banked at the time, and a friend who was staying with his sister near Los Angeles. So I took two weeks off, booked a flight, rented a car (a convertible actually! I really splurged!), and we drove through the Mojave Desert, hiked in the Sierra Nevada, saw the Yosemite Valley, walked the streets of San Francisco, and drove the Pacific Coast Highway. Even though I totally splurged on the car, we kept our costs remarkably low by spending nights in hostels that cost a fraction of hotels and motels.

Mark shooting photos of the mountains out the back of our convertible while I take a selfie driving through the Owens Valley in California

Needless to say, I was hooked!

Becky in a covered wagon at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove, Minnesota

So next I decided I would get my brother to drive with me to Chicago for a weekend, and that was another awesome experience where nothing all that bad happened. A year or two later, Becky and I got married, and a year or two after that my mother-in-law bought us a great tent she found cheap on closeout. So after a couple of years camping in state parks, we decided in 2015 that we were going to see the West! Becky always wanted to see the places Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about in her Little House books. I’d dreamt for years about seeing the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota, Devils Tower, and Yellowstone—all of which seemed to be just down the road from the places Laura lived. We thought it would be fun and less expensive to camp our way there—this was a bit scary since it was beyond the magnitude or complexity of anything we’d done before—but we did it somehow!

The more we’ve traveled, the easier it’s gotten, and the less scary it’s been. It helped immensely that we did find a couple friends with extensive experience exploring the West. The wealth of resources on the Internet and in the library were a huge help too.

But mostly I’ve learned that traveling is a choice you just have to make and follow through on! It can cost a ton of money, but it doesn’t have to. You don’t have to go cross-country either…often there are plenty of worthy destinations just a few hours away from home that will help you build the experience and confidence you need to take on a longer and more daring adventure.

We want to inspire people to check off travel items on their bucket list.

And offer practical knowledge and ideas to help you do it more successfully while getting the best bang for your buck.

We’ll share our itineraries, our experiences, our big wins, and our mistakes here, all in the hopes of giving you a realistic and hopefully entertaining idea of how to make a trip like this yourself. We’ll review a few destinations, from the dreadful and overrated to the incredible and misunderstood. Besides our stories, we’ll also share purely practical tips, lists, and how-tos to help you understand what to expect when and where you go. We’ll help you figure out what you need, what’s nice to have, and what you don’t need for your trip.

We also look forward to all of the great notes and tips from other travelers, and hopefully eventually success stories from our readers. Neither of us will claim to be super experienced travel experts, but we have learned that traveling in the U.S. is a lot easier than we thought, doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun, doesn’t have to be perfectly planned, and that most of our mistakes haven’t been too expensive, especially when we find the right insurance hahahaha!

So please steal our ideas, learn from our mistakes, and just get out there and have fun!!!

We believe that vacations don’t always require a beach or warm weather (although we sure don’t mind that in the winter). There are so many places to see and experiences to experience in everyone’s backyards and across the country. Sometimes our biggest roadblock is being afraid to get started because we don’t know how or where to start.

We want to inform and encourage the sedentary fearful with a longing for adventure to turn the imaginary into the real! Hopefully our site will empower you to live your own adventure, just like we lived ours. Traveling can be so much more than beaches, hotels, cruises, and all-inclusive resorts…although those can be fun too… 😉