Once upon a time there was a princess… Oh wait, this isn’t a fairy tale. But it does involve a princess (of sorts), her hubby and a three month USA road trip in something not much bigger than a cardboard box.

Yes, this is the story of how I voluntarily (yes that’s right, I was a willing participant of sound mind) lived in the back of a very small van with my husband so we could explore the States the best way possible – The ultimate USA road trip.

You must be asking yourself what drives a woman (and not just any woman, a princess to boot – and I don’t mean the royal kind) to these lengths? It was an idea that came to us many years before on a trip we took to California. At that time we did a bus tour for 5 weeks and had a blast. Of course the difference was, we were staying in hotels with the tour and this time we decided morph our transport and accommodation into one.

Here is Gracie. Our beloved Ford Windstar we spent 90 days sleeping in!


Our 12,000 mile USA road trip - GRACIE 600px


Before this road trip, my idea of ‘roughing it’ was to stay at a hotel with no room service. Oh how times have changed! Now my idea is roughing it… well, it’s a permanent fixture in my life and I love it!

But back then, it was all new to me, but I was willing to give it a go.

Our road trip also signified the start of our nomadic life (and what better way to start such a life by living in a cardboard box, umm I mean, back of van). We truly were homeless for 90 days.

We didn’t have any set plans before we took off. We knew we would start in LA, we would drive across the southern states (for the warmer weather), and then come back to LA via the northern states (it was getting a little warmer up there by then). But that’s as far as we planned. We wanted to have an open itinerary in case we stumbled across somewhere we wanted to extend our stay in… And on the other hand, we wanted to be able to leave at a seconds notice if needed!

So on March 7th 2012 we left LA for our most exhilarating adventure yet.

This would be a very long post if I went in to details about every stop we made, so I wont do that. Instead here are the states we visited in the order we went there:


California – Nevada – Arizona – New Mexico – Texas – Louisiana – Mississippi – Tennessee  Alabama – Florida – Georgia – South Carolina – North Carolina – Virginia – West Virginia – Ohio  Indiana – Michigan – Illinois – Iowa – Nebraska – Colorado – Wyoming – Idaho – Utah


Our 12,000 mile USA road trip - OUR MAP 600px

(You may notice we missed the north east corner – Washington, New York, Boston, Vermont, Maine – We were running out of time so we missed this section but are planning on another road trip just for that corner)


So as you can see we saw quite a lot of this beautiful country.

We saw amazing sights (natural, man made and umm some of the human kind) and had the most memorable time of our lives (so far).

But do you know what our family and friends asked us the most about our trip? “How did you not kill each other living in such a small space for so long?” Valid question I think!

I can give you the soppy (but true) answer about how much we love each other and how we are always on the same page and how we are best friends and after 14 years together we can get through anything!

Or I can give you the real answer “When things got tough, we stayed in a motel for some space”.


Our 12,000 mile USA road trip - motel


Yes, we spent roughly 1 night a week in a motel (not a hotel like this princess was used to, but a cheap run down, look for roaches in your bed kind of motel).

This helped save our sanity. Not to mention gave Michael his TV fix and me, my soak in the bath fix (after I thoroughly cleaned it – I guess there was still a little bit of princess in me).

And speaking of bathing, I am sure you are wondering how we showered if we lived in a van? Lets just say, it was better to stay at a safe distance and up wind of us during those 90 days.

So this princess relinquished her crown and had the most amazing time of her life. And while the crown is currently away in its vault, I know that I no longer need it. The princess in me has left the building.. for the greater good. I realized, I don’t need ‘fancy’ to be happy. The things that make me happy are freedom, discovering the world, Michael (I ‘spose I should mention him), and our new nomadic life.


Have you been on a USA road trip?  Where did you go?  We would love inspiration for our next road trip!