18 years old; 50 states touched. For my young age, I feel like this is quite a feat. My parents have had a goal since I was little to visit all 50 states as a family before I turned 18 years old. & honestly, we killed it.
Growing up, I felt like it was all normal. We road tripped everywhere and made a small vacation out of everything. It was not till I had already been to 3 different countries, 35 states, and a cruise going into middle school that I realized that this was not something that all of my friends had the opportunity to experience. I feel lucky to have a family with such an amazing goal. The sights that I have seen and the moments that I have observed have been touching as well as life-changing.
Born in Wisconsin, that was an easy one to check off the list the moment I was born. At the age of 6 months, I flew on a plane for the first time in travel to the happiest place on Earth. The adventures continued as I visited out of state family in Connecticut, Kentucky, Oregon, Illinois, and Washington.
The big kicker and, frankly, what started the 50 states goal was my family trip to Washington for my uncle’s wedding. Unlike any sane group of individuals, my family decided that we would make the 31-hour trek by car. Not only did we drive all the way to Washington from Wisconsin, but we also took a windy route in order to see the most sights and touch the most states. In that trip alone, I viewed Mt. Rushmore, the Bad Lands, Wall Drug, the beautiful Coeur d’Alene, and Yellowstone National Park. What an incredible (and long) family adventure.
The travels continued with road trips to Gulf Shores, Alabama for spring break, Washington D.C. for educational vacationing, and the East Coast for 11 states in 9 days.
Being so close to the goal, my travels did not end there. This past couple of years, the basic initiative to vacation has been to explore somewhere the family had never been. We made a trip out of Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma (believe it or not) as well as hitting Mississippi and Louisiana before hopping on a cruise ship. My family seems to be exceptional at hitting new states no matter the occasion.
Junior year brought event more opportunities for me to explore the United States. I toured both the University of South Carolina at Columbia and the University of Texas at Austin. These were two states that I had never seen before. I crossed off two more states from the map and fell in love with the South, but that’s a story for another time.
So down to three states; Alaska, California, and Hawaii.
Alaska came first with an incredible summer cruise down the coast. When people ask me what my favorite state is, this is the first one that comes to mind because it is unlike anything else. The small towns on the water were adorably quaint & the scenery was incredible. Sure, it was not your typical, warm, beach vacation, but it was beautiful & perfect in its own way.
& finally, our last trip of the 50 states adventure came in the form of a Christmas present & a holiday trip to Hawaii (stopping in Cali on the way). It was the perfect way to end our 50 states goal. My mom even had matching t-shirts made for all of us (it was sooo embarrassing) to commemorate the last trip. 2 months before my 18th birthday, our goal was complete & right on time.
It is crazy to think that I have seen so much of this beautiful country that so many people call home. I am grateful for all of it, and I am beyond thrilled to begin sharing my love for travel!