12 Things to Avoid on Your Next Road Trip

Things to avoid on a road trip.

  1. Bean burritos. If you can’t subsist without this staple food, just know that your vehicle is about to get vividly scented and you will likely curse the first cultivators of beans who grew them at the Himalayan foothills in 7000 BCE. But these inventive agriculturists do not deserve your scorn! Just say no.

  2. Car stench. Avoid this by purchasing Febreeze and applying it generously. Eventually you’re going to cave and eat the bean burrito we warned you about in number 1. You should at least be prepared to deal with the consequences.

  3. Ending up in a dirty gas station bathroom, only to look over and see a sad little cardboard tube with a tiny half-square of toilet paper left. We admit that this is a prime opportunity to plead to the person in the next stall and practice the whole “talking to new people in random places” thing we here at Roadtrip Nation champion so much. But we’d rather you do this with your pants up and dignity intact.

  4. Weird uneven tan lines from sitting next to a half-open car window. Sun screen is your friend. Your annoying, greasy friend that requires constant attention, yes. But it’s better than looking like you’re wearing a flesh-colored T-shirt when you’re naked.

  5. Static on the radio. Or even worse, flipping the stations to find that Phil Collins is the only thing that’s coming in. Prepare for your trip by making an awesome mix of your favorite tunes.

  6. Expensive gas stations. Gas in small towns tends to be super expensive. A little forward thinking and plotting can save you a ton of $$$$–and keep you well-supplied with ghastly processed snacks that are totally acceptable/necessary on the road.

  7. Tourist traps. The World’s Second Biggest Ball of Twine is only a 40-mile dirt road away in the middle of an abandoned field? Skip it and get recommendations from locals wherever possible- you’ll find hidden gems that the guidebooks (and freeway signs) may miss.

  8. Falling behind the hunger curve! Don’t be that hangry person that nobody wants to be around. Say sorry when you inevitably say something mean because your stomach was trying to survive off a Clif bar eaten 6 hours ago.

  9. Having navigation tools that require batteries. Buy a real, physical map (and learn how to navigate with said map). Prepare yourself for dead batteries because they are unavoidable! Plus, it’s fun to pretend like you are a 16th century explorer and prove to yourself that you can, indeed, survive without checking Facebook every 5 minutes.

  10. Eating at chains. There are sooo many awesomely weird diners in the middle of nowhere that’ll make you feel like you’re in a Tarantino movie. Avoid all places you’ve seen at your local mall and try the hole-in-the-wall joint that appears to breed Tetanus. We promise it’s (usually) good!

  11. Dehydration. Drink water, even if it means visiting those dodgy gas station bathrooms mentioned above.

  12. A packed itinerary. Leave time for the surprises that will inevitably happen. Don’t be so focused on your “plan” that you forget to live in the moment. You never know when you’ll stumble on a glistening river that’s beckoning for you to jump in or an empty parking lot that demands you dance to Beyonce (hey, there’s no one around for 30 miles–you know you want to.)

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First-Gen Roadtrip: Final Thoughts

First-Gen Final ThoughtsThe First-Gen Roadtrip has officially come to a close and Jasmine, Jenny, Johnathan, and Felipe have all gone their separate ways. A collaboration between Roadtrip Nation and The College Board allowed these four first-generation college students the opportunity to travel the country and interview pioneering leaders who were also the first in their families to go to college. After all was said and done, the road-trippers spent 35 days on the road and were able to collect diverse and affecting personal stories that, taken together, have formed a vast mosaic of inspiration for their paths ahead.

 

On the final night of their adventure, the group finally chose a team name that encapsulated the theme of their road trip: “#WhyNotUs.” How did this team name come about? During their five weeks together, the road-trippers sought to understand why they specifically were chosen for this opportunity, why they were the first in their families to go to college, why they felt so much pressure to succeed, and why so many people believed in them. Jenny even wrote “WHY US?” on the wall of the RV, baffled about the team’s cherry-picked fortune. But, with the guidance of 20 leaders and 3,000 miles of travel under their belts, the team eventually came to realize, why not them? They realized that they are indeed deserving of the opportunities they have earned and that, armed with the lessons they learned on their trip, they can and will define their own roads in life.

 

We’ve asked each of the road-trippers to reflect on their journey aboard the Green RV this summer, and here’s what they had to say:

 

Jenny:

When I got home from the trip, it was so surreal and weird. It was way too quiet, and definitely lacking in company. I honestly think about the road trip every day. I think about the lessons I’ve learned and what I’ve realized about myself along the way. I was so eager to take action that I actually walked into a store near campus and got hired on the spot, and maybe that’s just because of my experience but I really walked in there confidently. I haven’t really let myself get overwhelmed by any sort of money problem I’ve had, and I’ve definitely taken things one day at a time. I still lie down at night, wishing I could hear the generator running or people in the RV shifting in their sleep. Like I said, it’s been way too quiet without my fellow road-trippers around. But as I look back at who I was before the trip, I can’t even believe I’ve come so far. In a way it feels like a huge dream but I know it is one of the most real experiences I’ve ever had.

 

Felipe:

Just one paragraph to summarize the whole experience? Wow, this is the most difficult challenge of the entire road trip. Our lives will never be the same. We went through a tunnel and held our breaths, not knowing what was going to be on the other side. Some of us screamed, closed our eyes, laughed, and others just said “bring it on!” But at the end, we not only survived–we chiseled away at the rocky mountain that is ourselves to refine what is at the core. We sculpted ourselves with every moment. From Jenny courageously conquering the white water rapids, to Jasmine confidently jumping off the Bridge to Nowhere and smiling, to Johnathan selflessly helping everyone (road-trippers or not) with anything they might need. This Roadtrip awoke us and showed us that the world, while seemingly huge, frightening, and full of unknowns, is also full of hope, inspiration, and magnificence. Though we each walked away having discovered something new about ourselves and the world, we also realized that this journey was merely a part of our greater life adventure. As we trekked thousands of miles in Carl the RV, we also trekked within ourselves and this trek led to discovering parts of the world within ourselves that we never knew existed. Our fires have been ignited, or least the logs have been set in place and we have been given the tools to light it, so I say light away. Sure, you may not know what to major in, you may be afraid to move away from home, you may be afraid to take a risk to do what you love, but after this trip I know–and we all know–that we have what it takes to thrive on our paths and bounce back if we do fall down and scrape our knees. The most important takeaway from this entire experience is that we are not alone. From the leaders we interviewed, to our Roadtrip Family, to our friends and families back home. We are all in this together.

 

Johnathan:

Honestly, I wish the trip had never ended. It was by far the most character-building and life-changing experience…the BEST thing that could’ve ever happened to me hands down! I found things in myself that I knew were there, but the confidence I gained from the trip and people around me just buffed them out. I no longer feel like I’m alone because there are people who share my same struggles and we’ve each helped each other break down walls that held us back. Ask anyone who was there and they’ll tell you that I’ve come a long way since the start of the trip. I left the person I was back in California and picked up the new me in New York. Coming home was so weird. I think about the road trip every chance I get and even catch myself looking over pictures that we took. Driving across the county with a new ‘family’, trying new experiences and foods together, standing up for each other and picking each other up off the ground, meeting leaders from all walks of life–all truly amazing. Most of all I miss my crew, because people like the ones that I’ve come to know and love on this trip are rare and hard to come by. I definitely would not be the person I am had it not been for them. This is only the beginning of the road (see what I did there).

 

Jasmine:

When packing I was eager to get home, thinking of the life that I was missing. But after a couple of hours of being home I missed my road trip family more than anything. This trip meant everything to me and it helped me to grow into a stronger person. For the first time in a long time I enjoyed myself, I relaxed, and I sincerely laughed. Do you know how good it feels to sincerely laugh?  I learned that it feels amazing. I learned how to stand up for myself, I learned how to be me and feel free to be myself without fear of judgment from the world. I love and miss the team, and I hope that we will all continue to learn, grow and experience new things.

 

 

First Gen Team


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Get to Know the TEACH Roadtrip Team

The Teach Roadtrip is more than halfway through! The team has already visited Yosemite, seen a bear (!), traveled a lot of miles and completed some incredible interviews. This week, they’ll be driving on the East Coast. Check out these fun facts about our road-trippers:

 

Rafi:

1) What’s your fave road trip snack? Tuna!

2) Where are you most excited to visit? New York. Always wanted to explore that city.

3) If you could only pack 1 item for this trip, what would it have been? All the food!

4) Favorite driving song? “Ignition” by R. Kelly

5) What’s your favorite book? Harry Potter series

 

Grace:

1) What’s your fave road trip snack? Diet Coke

2) Where are you most excited to visit? Los Angeles and Denver

3) If you could only pack 1 item for this trip, what would it have been? A travel journal

4) Favorite driving song? “Maps” by The Front Bottoms

5) What’s your favorite book? The Phantom Tollbooth  

 

Nadia:

1) What’s your fave road trip snack? Hummus with anything and fruit

2) Where are you most excited to visit? Yosemite and Colorado!!!

3) If you could only pack 1 item for this trip, what would it have been? Chapstick!

4) Favorite driving song? “Runaway” by Los Pericos

5) What’s your favorite book? State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

 

Roadtrip Nation has collaborated with Participant Media’s TEACH Campaign to give these three road-trippers the opportunity to travel the country in our Green RV and interview some of the biggest names in education. For three weeks, they’ll be exploring the nation’s purple mountain majesties and speaking to educators who are working to change the world with their work. Stay tuned for updates on their adventures! And, join us on Friday, September 5 at the Newsuem in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the end of our tour with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan: http://bit.ly/TEACHNewseum

 

Here are some photos from their adventures thus far:

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The Teach Roadtrip team poses for a photo after their interview with Rahm Emanuel.

 

 

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The team takes in the beautiful scenery outside of Zion National Park.

 

 

 

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The team being interviewed on Take Part Live!


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Design Roadtrip: Final Thoughts

8-26-2014_FB_DeisgnFinalThoughtsAfter 6355.4 miles, 21 states, and countless enlightening interviews, the Design Roadtrip has finally come to a close! It was an inspiring (and sometimes tiring!) 6-week journey in which three aspiring young designers traveled the country to interview the movers and shakers of the design world. From the sound designer for Star Wars to the creator behind Swiss Miss, to the animator who worked on Frozen, the road-trippers heard from passionate individuals in every cranny of design to see what’s possible for their own futures. Now that the trip is in their rear-view mirror, the team has had a chance to reflect on their take-aways, and we’ve asked them to share them with you! Here’s what Ben, Martha, and Sofaya learned this summer on the road:

 

Ben:

Being on the road this summer was such an incredible experience. It truly opened my mind to more creative careers than I could have ever imagined. Design is everywhere, embedded in every business and continually pushing the limitations of creativity. From guitars to museums, clothing to water filters, computers to camp stoves, people and businesses are changing the world as we know it. I don’t know where I will find myself working in this realm of creativity, but I am more excited than ever to jump in.

 

Martha:

When I look back at the enormous list of people that we talked to this summer, it is astounding to me the range of inspiring, engaging, creative, aware people that I feel proud to call designers. Each may not fit the conventional definition of the word, and I’m sure some would be hesitant to label themselves as such, but one of the most profound lessons that will stay with me from this experience is that whether someone is a musician or an educator, a chef or an animator, they each use the same type of inspiring creative process. The emphasis in our conversations across the country was not necessarily on what was being created, but on how it was being done. What inspired me most about each of our amazing leaders  (and this is a lifelong pursuit that I hope to continue to discover and emulate) was each of their abilities to, in their own way, connect disparate elements to create something new. Whether it was in bringing together their meandering life path to find a fulfilling, intersectional career, or combining different ways of looking at things in their work, I was inspired and amazed at the ways that people have found ways to be creative and to help build a better world. And they’re happy doing it! I think that what is special about the idea of design is that it is holistic: it is both for yourself and also for others; you can be happy and fulfilled and also work to change the world! Isn’t that what we all want?

 

Sofaya:

I came into this road trip pretty well versed in design because that’s what I lived and breathed for the past four years. What you don’t necessarily learn in school, however, is the potential for impact in various arenas when you pair your design sensibility with your personal desire to change the world. This summer we’ve spoken to designers who’ve applied their designed objects in ways that enact social change, environmental change, change in the way that people do business, change in the relationship between the consumer and the product, and change in the daily lives of everyday people who may have been content in their lives until they suddenly got better. This to me is the true purpose of design: making someone’s life better by problem-solving.


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Things We Like To Do in Big Cities

Big City GuideRoadtrip Nation has meandered through most of the major cities in the US, and over the years we’ve accrued a lot of knowledge about where to go/eat/park a 35-foot vehicle. We like to think of ourselves as seasoned veterans of the road; sherpas of the pavement; stewards of turning down the absolute wrong street and stumbling upon an unreasonably delicious slice of pizza. We’ve logged over 10,000 miles on the road this summer alone, so after 15 years exploring the nation’s byways, here are our tips on what to do while you’re visiting Washington, D.C., New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago. Remember these spots the next time you plan a road trip!

 

 

 

City Guide: Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.

1) Georgetown Cupcake: A delicious cupcake bakery founded by two sisters in DC (and featured on The Food Network), this is place where scarfing down one (or 3) frosting-topped mounds for breakfast won’t be frowned upon. Pro-trip: every morning, the bakery posts on their Twitter account about a secret flavor! If you’re one of the first 100 to request that flavor cupcake, you get it for free!

 

2) Try renting a bike! Capital Bikeshare is a company that rents out bikes at various stations throughout the city. We recommend picking one up for a requisite tour of the National Mall and monuments. Seeing all those sights by foot can be quite an endeavor, so it’s WAY easier and quicker to hop on one of these and roll around. These bikeshares are located all around town, and you can easily rent a bike at one station and return it to any other one that has an open spot.

 

3) Many of the monuments in DC are accessible/open all night long. Seeing them all lit up at night can be really special (plus it’s way less crowded in the evening).

 

4) Busboys and Poets is a historic restaurant founded by Andy Shallal in 2005 (you can check out our interview with Andy here). His mission for this restaurant was to have a gathering place for people of all different incomes, races, and identities to come together and exchange ideas about social and political issues. Today, Busboys and Poets remains a popular restaurant and community resource for artists, activists, writers, thinkers, and dreamers.

 

 

 

City Guide: New York City

New York City

1) Times Square is perhaps one of the most iconic areas of the city, and what tourists often imagine first when they think of NYC. What should you expect? Massive billboards, bright lights, and huge swarms of people! If you’re lucky, you’ll spot Robert Burck, a street performer we interviewed in 2007. He has been named by the New York State tourism department as “more recognizable than the Statue of Liberty.”

 

2) The High Line is a public park on the West Side of Manhattan. Built on a historic rail line, this park is free to the public and a great place to people watch/ picnic/ go for a stroll through some lovely gardens.

 

3) Visit the galleries in NYC’s Chelsea Neighborhood. Entrance is free, and you can see some spectacular exhibits! While you’re in the area, stop by Chelsea Market for a bite to eat. This urban market has something for everyone.

 

4) Looking for an inexpensive way to see the Statue of Liberty? Look no further than the Staten Island Ferry. Hop aboard (it’s free!) and you’ll get a great view of Lady Liberty. It also provides an interesting viewpoint from which to check out the NYC skyline.

 

5) The Meatball Shop: On our most recent road trip, we ate at The Meatball Shop four nights in a row. In a city with almost unlimited amounts of amazing cuisine, we just couldn’t quit this place. Give it a shot!

 

 

 

City Guide: San Francisco

 San Francisco

1) Golden Gate Bridge: this is one of the world’s most iconic pieces of scenery. Need we say more? You can rent bikes near the bridge if you’re interested in taking a scenic ride across it.

 

2) Hog Island Oyster Company: You’re in San Francisco, so you’ve got to try some seafood, right? With good food and great views, we recommend that you check this place out!

 

3) Haight Ashbury: This area is known for being a hub for the hippie movement in the 60s- the neighborhood was the home for the Summer of Love in 1967. Go to Haight Ashbury to soak in some American counterculture history!

 

4) Bi-Rite Creamery is possibly some of the best ice cream that we’ve tasted in the country. Smooth creaminess and wonderful flavor combinations will make your taste buds sing.

 

5) There are few better ways to see the city than jumping on a trolley.  While we typically recommend sightseeing in an RV, this is a great San Franciscan alternative. Hop on board and see the sights via this cool, old-school public transportation system.

 

 

 

City Guide: Chicago

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1) You basically haven’t visited Chicago unless you’ve tried deep dish pizza. We recommend either Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s.

 

2) Millenium Park: You have to visit Millenium Park, if for no other reason than to get one of those goofy pictures of your reflection in Cloud Gate (also known as “The Bean”), a towering mirrored sculpture installation by Anish Kapoor. Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, this site has become iconic and was practically engineered for selflies. Plus, if you time it right, there are free symphonic concerts in the summer at an amphitheater in the park!

 

3) The Willis (Sears) Tower is the highest skyscraper in Chicago, and has an observation deck that’s not for the faint of heart. “The ledge” is a glass balcony where you can stand and take in the impressive view (from 1353 feet off the ground). Beware- those afraid of heights will not be fans.

 

4) Don’t miss Grant Park, a stretch of green space located downtown. It’s a great place to check out public art, the iconic Buckingham Fountain, and beautiful gardens. Love live music? The Lollapalooza music festival takes over Grant Park every summer!

 

Check out these spots on your next road trip!

 


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5 Outfits You Should Definitely Try While Road-Tripping

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Road trip fashion is less about what color is “in” this season and more about comfort, functionality, and temperature control. That’s why we propose that you pack the following items for your next road trip!

 

1. Jorts (jean shorts): This is a standard road-tripping clothing item. Jorts basically scream, “I love driving around America.” Simply put, jeans+shorts= magic.

 

2. Yoga pants and t-shirt: When you rock this outfit, you are guaranteed a comfy ride. The t-shirt is a standard choice, and the yoga pants are stretchy and wonderful. Wear this get-up and you won’t be sorry.

 

3. Board shorts and tank: When you wear this combo you’re always prepared to take a swim! This is a smart choice, especially because showers are not always an “everyday” thing on the road. So, taking a dip in the ocean and/or taking the plunge into a nearby lake can be a great way to steer clear of B.O. Wearing board shorts on the road is straight-up practical.

 

4. Suit and tie: You’ll need this outfit for all those business meetings you’ll be attending whilst on the road. Just kidding. Don’t pack this. Duh.

 

5. Trucker hatThis isn’t an outfit, but it is a necessary accessory!


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First-Gen Roadtrip: Favorite Moments

The First-Gen Roadtrip is well on its way! The team has covered a lot of mileage, and interviewed some amazing folks along the way. We asked each of the road-trippers to share a little bit about their favorite experiences from the road thus far:

 

Felipe:

 

My favorite experience so far has been whitewater rafting. I rode the bull, which means that I sat in front of the raft as we cut through the high whirlpools and white waters. Our instructor told the group, “At least one person will fall in today,” and sure enough, I was the only one who fell and I did so twice! I banged up my knee and legs on the rocks and the water punished me for a couple seconds, but it was an exhilarating experience.

 

My favorite food is a tie between Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans and The Grill From Ipanema in Seattle. Dooky Chase’s Restaurant was the first time I have ever eaten Creole, and it was absolutely amazing! At 92 years young, Chef Leah Chase still prepares the food herself every morning and this love and care put into the food made the experience that much better. The restaurant has a unique vibe because of the individuals who have eaten here. Chef Leah Chase, the same woman who cooked and conversed with Martin Luther King, President Obama, Ray Charles, Thurgood Marshall, and the Freedom Writers also did the same for us.

Dooky Chase

Jenny:

 

My favorite experience so far is a tie between our interview with Nikki Cooley and the bungee jump. Nikki mentors Native American youth and works on preserving tribal culture and knowledge. We met her at the bottom of a sacred mountain Flagstaff, which infused our conversation with a sacred, spiritual vibe that I will never forget!

 

As for bungee jumping, I’ve honestly never felt so free. Taking the leap off the bridge and seeing the river rush up to my face was the best feeling in the world.

 

My favorite food was either Meso Maya in Dallas or Dooky Chase’s restaurant in New Orleans. I’m a sucker for homemade gumbo.

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Jasmine:

 

My favorite experience so far would just be going to new places. I never thought that I would be able to travel across the country, so every experience to me is eye-opening and expanding my borders.

 

My favorite food was at Meso Maya. They had the best avocado chicken salad! It was perfect.

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Johnathan:
This trip has changed me in ways I never thought possible. So far, my favorite experience has been whitewater rafting in Tennessee.

 

My favorite food was the Southern Mexican food at Meso Maya in Dallas.

Johnathan

Roadtrip Nation has partnered with the College Board to offer these four first-generation college-going students the opportunity to travel the country in our Green RV. We can’t wait to see what transpires next!

 


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On the Road Faves

The Design Roadtrip team is almost done with their whirlwind adventure! They’ve traveled from coast to coast, collecting advice from some of the nation’s most ground-breaking makers, and are now finishing up their last few interviews in NYC. As the trip winds down, we asked each of the road-trippers to reflect on their most memorable moments from the road. Check out some of their favorite eats, landmarks, and unforgettable experiences from the trip.

 

Martha:

 

My favorite food stop on the trip so far has been trying crawfish boil in New Orleans – the somewhat barbaric act of consuming a heaping plate of shellfish by ripping them apart and sucking out the spicy juices was fun! We had to have a local show us how because we were all doing it wrong at first…

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And my favorite (non-interview related) experience has to be swimming at Hamilton Pool right outside of Austin. It is an incredible natural amphitheater/cave and is its own independent ecosystem (with snapping turtles and catfish, to boot!) We were all deeply enchanted and had trouble leaving.

 

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Ben:

 

My favorite food was Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago. I’m a big fan of pizza, and Chicago took it to another level! SO GOOD!

 

Although the entire trip as a whole has been perspective-altering, it has been a lifelong dream of mine to drive the Pacific Coast Highway. Early into the trip we took the RV up through Big Sur in California. Seeing that rugged and wild coastline was probably my favorite experience thus far.

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Sofaya:

 

The best meal I had on this trip was barbeque… but it wasn’t in Texas. It was in Detroit, at a place called Slows. We all made a pact to eat everything on our plate.

 

My favorite experience was glass blowing. The annealer was a 9,000-degree container and that was the coolest of the three.

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Design Roadtrip: Photos from the Road

Wondering what the Design Roadtrip team has been up to? Here are some snapshots from the road!

 

 

Montana

The team visited Montana and was impressed with the amazing views.

 

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Sunsets are better when viewed from the top of the Green RV!

 

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Beware: beautiful sunsets may cause excited arm gestures.

 

Roadtrip Nation visits the Grand Tetons

After driving through the Tetons, they made their way towards Yellowstone National Park.

 

Roadtrip Nation Visits Yellowstone

Yellowstone was EPIC.

 

Roadtrip Nation Visits Old Faithful

Oh hey there, Old Faithful!

 

Roadtrip Nation Visits Red Rock

While driving through Colorado, they took a break at Red Rock Amphitheater to stretch their legs…and found a few people doing the same.

 

MandMs

They then made the drive towards Texas (and did some serious snacking along the way). One of the filmers for the trip, Willie, was the mastermind behind this “M&M trail mix.”

 

 

Advice

Because the team loves collecting life advice, they decided do some “man on the street” style interviews in Austin.

 

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And Ben dove head-first into Barton Springs.

 

 

That’s all for now! The road-trippers said that it was SUPER hot down south, but they are in great spirits! Stay tuned for more from their journey.


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Why Is College So Important?

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Our First-Gen Road-Trippers have been booking their interviews and preparing for a summer aboard the Green RV! All four have made education a priority in their lives, and are the first in their families to go to college. We asked each of them to share with us why they think college is so important, and here are their inspiring answers!

 

Jasmine:

In my eyes, college is a chance for me to have a life where I can eat a solid meal every night and not wonder where it comes from. College is a chance for me to give my children a better life than I ever dreamed I could have. It gives me a chance to do what I love for the rest of my life. College is a constant struggle and it builds me up every time I feel myself falling down. It is also a constant reminder of the hope that I have for my future and what I dream to be. I look at the lives of other students who don’t have to work, who don’t know what struggle means, and I make a promise to myself that if I work hard now, my children will be the kids that can go the party if they want to, that can take that extra opportunity if they want. It is my hope that by putting in the work now, my kids in the future can honestly enjoy college. Most importantly for me, I know that college will give me a career where I can afford to sincerely take care of my mother and provide her a life of comfort and ease; college for me is a constant reassurance that she will be alright and we won’t have to struggle anymore.

 

Felipe:

College is a life-changing experience that has a profound ripple effect. It allows an individual to leverage his/her skills, resources, passion, and talents to serve distinct communities around the world and change the lives of hundreds of people for the better. Not only does it provide an opportunity for intellectual and academic growth, but it facilitates reflection, enlightenment, and perspective. It nurtures and challenges a curious mind as well as supports a passionate individual. It allows a first-generation student from a low-income community, who never thought about attending college before, to use his/her education to empower other first-generation youth to pursue their personal and academic goals. It serves as the door to the world by facilitating individuals to travel, study, and work around the world. It helps a single mother of three to provide a better life for her children by graduating with a triple major. It allows a veteran who was seriously injured in combat to create an organization focused on aiding injured veterans when they return home. It encourages individuality, creative expression, and healthy experimentation in all areas of our lives.  Most importantly, it provides a real opportunity to pursue and find our true purpose in life.

 

College is important because it shows us that we have a choice–that we do not have to conform or settle for the status quo. It reveals that we posses the ability to create a new path for ourselves, families, and communities. A path full of compassion, positivity, and hope; where the ideal “We’re in this together” trumps “You’re on your own.”

 

Johnathan:

It’s true that some, or all of us, experience some type of trouble with the financial aid department. We have anxiety thinking of taking out and repaying student loans, or we may struggle to get that undervalued 2.0 GPA necessary to graduate. But despite the challenges, college is a capstone to life. Just like learning how to use a computer is a prerequisite to using a Facebook account, a college degree is a prerequisite to getting a job. But college is much more important than just getting the degree. At least for me it was. I saw college as an escape route to my future. College brings together our skills and experiences to give us hope–hope that we can achieve some level of success, even if we are lacking skill in some departments. And if you’re looking to be high in the sky, hope along with determination is what you need. College is important because it changes you and the people around you. It makes you the person are. It’s important because it determines and shapes the rest of your life.

 

Jenny:

I think college is important beyond obvious reasons. We all know that we need to go to college to get an education so we can get a good job and make stable income. But from my first year in college, I met a lot of people who have changed me, even if they don’t realize it. My horizons have broadened and I’ve learned to not be so uptight about some things. I try not to let other people’s lives and opinions affect me like they used to, and that’s honestly the number one thing that has made living a lot more enjoyable. With the hindsight I have now, I wish I could re-live my first year again, just so I could handle it better. I spent a lot of time crying and stressing about grades when I could have just taken a deep breath and made a better grade. Why is college so important? College is important because based on the people you meet and the experiences you go through, it shapes you into the person you’re going to be for the rest of your life. It exposes you to different cultures and ways of life, and I think being open-minded about things is an important part of living. Because if you aren’t learning everyday through experience or someone teaching you about their home or culture or even their favorite author or painter, you aren’t really living. I see a huge difference in people at school and people back home, and the main difference is how open and close-minded they are.

 

Roadtrip Nation has partnered with the College Board to offer these four first-generation college-going students the opportunity to travel the country in our Green RV. We’re excited for them to hit the road this summer!


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