This resourceful family of three traveled 48 states in a Honda Civic while earning money from experiential marketing events along the way to fund their long term road trip. I met Ashley when she was on our Traveler’s Championship events team in Hartford CT, and asked her to share their travel story.
Let’s start off by introducing your whole family:
Ashley, Lamar, Everly and Beirut Fite
How did you and your husband first meet?
Lamar and I met in Oklahoma City when I started volunteering at an inner-city high school outreach program. He was in charge of organizing the program at that school, so I saw him every week. A friend of mine worked in the same office as him and played matchmaker.
When did you decide that you wanted to plan a massive road trip across the country together?
We began planning about six months before we left. There was a blog post that went viral titled “This Guy Found The Most Efficient Way To Travel the 48 States” or something similar to that. Lamar came home and said that we needed to put the trip on our bucket list. I enthusiastically agreed, and we started planning! The majority of our planning was done starting in March and we left June 6.
What are some of the ways you funded your trip?
We actually did the entire trip on our regular budget. We both work as contractors and run our own businesses back home, so each month our pay varies. We budgeted the first month of our trip off of our May income. During our trip, I picked up [promotional] events in cities across the country as we passed through. This meant that I had to spend a lot of time scouring my emails for upcoming events as well as Facebook event groups. The businesses we have back home are start ups that are less than a year old, so at the time, they weren’t pulling in much at all, so we were relying mostly on what we made working events.
How many states did you visit during your road trip?
We visited all 48 contiguous United States.
What is one place you would absolutely recommend for readers to visit?
I honestly can’t recommend just one. Colorado is still my favorite state because of the incredible amount of things you can do outdoors and Denver is such a cool city with great breweries and friendly people. Utah was a surprise for me. It had everything from mountains to canyons. We stayed in Park City, UT for a few days and really loved it! We also camped in Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park. Both were places we would return. The Pacific Northwest “PNW” was BEAUTIFUL. We also loved the northeast, especially Acadia National Park in Maine. Last, but not least, Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and Glacier National Park in Montana were two of our favorite parks. The Grand Tetons are giant and incredibly gorgeous. Glacier makes you feel like you are in the Swiss Alps.
What are some of the benefits and/or challenges to living on the road?
Some of the benefits are being together as a family. Nothing could ever take the place of the memories we made together. It made us realize how little we really need to live. It made us happier with the small things and every day became another story to add to our life together.
We had some financial challenges while we were on the road. We rented out our house back home and a roommate moved out last minute. During the same 72 hours, our A/C at our house went out and our car broke down. We had some money in savings, so that helped, but it was still unexpected and definitely no fun to deal with.
Another challenge was the space we had in the car. We drove a Honda Civic Hybrid, and Lamar is an amazing packer. We also had a Thule car topper, which held an incredible amount of stuff. However, there were a handful of nights that we slept in the car, and it was a pretty tight squeeze, which is why we are looking into getting a bigger vehicle for future travels.
Is there anything you miss from home or wish you could bring with you while you’re on the road?
Our dog Beirut! The very worst part of leaving was leaving him. There wasn’t enough space in our vehicle, and even if there was, it was HOT, and he wouldn’t have been able to come with us to a lot of the national parks. When we get our van, we will be able to bring him along. We’ve made a promise to never leave him for that long again.
You also travel with your daughter and (sometimes) your dog. Do you have any tips for couples who want to bring along their children or pets?
We travel with our daughter 90% of the time and we travel with our dog about 50% of the time. Tips for traveling with a toddler: lots of snacks, headphones for tuning out loud noises in the backseat, a DVD player and patience. Also, always remember to leave a little time to play at the park. For traveling with pets, we really lucked out. Our dog is super calm and just likes to be around us. The biggest challenge for traveling with him is finding places that allow him to come along. On our most recent trip, we Couchsurfed about 80% of the time. When we weren’t Couchsurfing, we were camping or staying with friends or family. I’m not sure if we would have had as much luck finding hosts if we would have had him with us.
Name 3 things that are on your bucket list to do as a couple/family.
Ooh, this is a fun question!
1. We want to live abroad at some point, though we haven’t decided where.
2. We want to take a trip down to Patagonia with some good friends of ours who traveled through South America this past year.
3. Ultimate end goal is to have a creative retreat where people can come to get away from their day to day and be inspired. Whether they are musicians, actors or yoga instructors, it would be a place to refuel and find creative energy. We want to have a sustainable farm on the property and a caretaker. I would like to have a bunch of different tiny homes that people can choose from to stay in and then a larger home where everyone can get together. Lamar and I are both very social and love being around people and getting to know what drives them. We’ve experienced so much hospitality while on the road that this would be another way to pay it forward by allowing us to host other travelers as well.
What are your plans for 2017?
We want to get a Ford Transit van as soon as possible and convert it into a home on the road. This way, we can bring our dog and we don’t have to worry about always needing to find places to stay. We are wanting to head out in June or July next summer and go through the Grand Tetons, Glacier NP and up into Canada. From there, we will go to Alaska and spend some time before heading back down into the Pacific Northwest.