Packing up and going on “a grand adventure” conjures up images of exotic faraway landscapes and road signs with characters that English speakers can’t read. Realistically, you can have a grand adventure anywhere – it just depends on your definition of adventure. For the past 8 months, we’ve been traveling around the world because we’ve always preferred firsthand experiences to television shows and magazine feature stories. We’ve been shown amazing hospitality through Couchsurfing, homestays and strangers on the road. This whole time, we’ve wondered how the generosity of foreign strangers matches up to those from our home nation.
When we tell our friends and family about our Couchsurfing experiences, we are often greeted with disbelief, “You stayed in a stranger’s home?! They offered to lend you their car?!” Yet, as we type this now, we are sitting in a six-person mixed bed dorm, surrounded by strangers, paying for the experience. When we stay with locals, we find the international community to be incredibly welcoming, and more importantly, these experiences have made us more open and friendly.
We want to bring the hospitality we learned from our international hosts back home to Washington, DC. But before we do that, we want to plunge into our own culture. Are our fellow Americans just as welcoming? And beyond that, we want to see the beautiful parts of our homeland that we have yet to visit together. We want to drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, visit Yellowstone, Rushmore, the mighty Mississippi, get quirky in Austin, eat po’ boys in New Orleans and catch lobster in Maine. But after paying $5USD for a bed in India, we just can’t afford to tack on a trans-American adventure after our round-the-world trip. Which, to be frank, is where £1000 would come in handy.
If we were able to continue our extended honeymoon to include the United States, we would literally go coast-to-coast. Biking is not an option since Mike has been involved in way too many accidents, so we would drive. We have family spread across the United States that we have not seen in more than a year, so we would use the journey as an opportunity to visit and catch up with them. And that’s another way, aside from Couchsurfing, that we would save money while roadtripping. We have no need for souvenirs or superfluous expenses during our homecoming, so our only costs would be food, transportation, park entrance fees and accommodations. If we are able to successfully test out the hospitality of fellow Americans via Couchsurfing and personal connections, we won’t be eating out much. In fact, we are really excited to cook for our new hosts. Besides our know-how around the kitchen, we have been taking cooking lessons so we can bring a little something new back with us.
Ultimately, we would end up in Washington, DC. The District is our true home. The place we met, married and secretly dream of returning to (don’t tell Croatia and Portugal). To actually end our trip in DC via overlanding – instead of just flying back – would be a worthwhile experience. We know that a cross-America drive might not seem as exciting or fulfilling as a 14-day biking trip through the Andes during the migration pattern of a rare endangered butterfly, but after traveling tens of thousands of miles across continents and being exposed to cultures, languages and experiences we have only dreamed of, visiting home just seems like the perfect end to our grand adventure.