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.




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…


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.





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.





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!




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


Montana 2

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


Roadtrip Nation in Montana 3

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.



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.”




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



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?



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!



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.



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.”



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.



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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Introducing the 2014 TEACH Road-Trippers!


We’re very excited to introduce you all to Rafael, Grace, and Nadia–our 2014 TEACH Roadtrip team! These three road-trippers will be driving from coast to coast, talking to folks in the educational sphere and discovering how teaching is changing the world. To introduce you to the team, we’ve asked each of the road-trippers to share with us why they think education is important (in 140 characters or less!) So, without further ado… meet the TEACH Road-Trippers:


Rafael is a junior at UCLA, who recently declared a minor in education. His parents are both doctors, and have encouraged him to follow in their footsteps. Rafael is more interested in becoming a teacher, but he’s experiencing external pressure to pick a more financially secure profession. He’s questioning his path, and hopes that this road trip will reaffirm his desire to have a future in education.


“I care about education because I have received such a great one, and it has made me who I am today. I want to make sure other people have the opportunity to go through the same experience I did.”


Grace is graduating at the end of this summer from UT Austin, and has always wanted to be a classroom teacher. She’s a vivacious force of nature who is passionate about a smattering of things, including teaching, learning, and democracy! (She also loves theatre, poetry, horseback riding, and travel.) Grace is feeling anxious about entering the “real world” after graduation and hopes that this road trip will help her make the leap from student to teacher.


“Every person has a responsibility to teach—by being part of a world that kids can look to and learn from and, with our help, make it better”


Nadia hails from Argentina, and moved to Boston at the age of 14. She wants to pursue education, but is disillusioned with the bureaucratic nature of the system. She studied communications in school, and turns to art as a creative outlet. For the past year, she’s been backpacking in South America, teaching English, art therapy, and yoga. She’s interested in incorporating art and play into her educational approach, and wants to speak to countercultural educators who can demonstrate that alternative approaches work.


“When education meets creativity & diversity the opportunities are limitless and the progress is incredible. Its time to merge work and play.”

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Design Roadtrip: Packing Essentials


The Design Roadtrip team just arrived at our HQ in sunny Costa Mesa, California! Their road trip is officially underway. Now that they’ve survived the first challenge of a road trip (packing), we wanted to know what they have in their bags! What were the items they just couldn’t live without on the road? We asked, and they answered. Here are the road-tripper’s packing essentials:


Sofaya: sketchbook, duct tape, pocket knife, chips

Ben: camera, guitar, sunscreen, board shorts for swimming

Martha: headlamp, shorts for under dresses, peanut M&Ms


Here’s what the road-trippers have been up to thus far:

Day one, the road-trippers met up with Dean O’Malley at Jetpack America, and rode water jetpacks!

Jetpack2 Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Here’s the advice that Dean shared with our crew:


They’ve certainly had an epic start to their journey!


We can’t wait to share more of the team’s adventures with you. If you live in San Francisco and want to salute the road-trippers, next week we’re co-hosting a kickoff party with Autodesk. Join us on June 23rd from 4-7 at the Exploratorium. More information about the event can be found here.

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26 Items You Need to Survive a Road Trip


We’ve compiled a list of our packing essentials, from A-Z. Pack these 26 items for your next road trip and you won’t be sorry!


Appetite. Get ready to eat a lot. You’ll be snacking on sunflower seeds as you drive; purchasing chemically-loaded snacks you would never, under normal circumstances, put in your delicate body; and/or stopping at every fun diner you see. Be prepared. Bring an appetite. And some jogging shoes (life’s about balance, right?).


Banjo. Or backpack. Whichever you think is more practical.


Camera. Take some photos to remember the journey—and to memorialize that triumphant look on your face when you finally reach a gas station after having to pee for 30 miles.


Deodorant. Showers can be hard to come by on the road. Bring baby wipes, hand sanitizer, febreeze, Axe body spray, scented oils, long-stem roses, and anything else to cover the stench of humans-in-a-contained-space. You car will likely smell like a cross between a zoo and a Bath and Body Works, but it’s worth it.


Exercise Shorts. We recommend the kind with breathable holes that you were required to wear in 6th grade gym class. They might not be fashionable, but legs +  boiling hot car seats = no time for fashion.


First-Aid Kit. Safety first, y’all.


Glasses. Sunglasses, that is. Protect those lookers from the sun’s harmful rays and feel approximately 87x cooler.


Hand Sanitizer. Because gas stations.


ID. Ever been pulled over in the middle of nowhere looking like a yeti because you haven’t participated in societally-mandating bathing rituals for days on end? A driver’s license will confirm that you are, in fact, a homosapien who pays taxes.


Journal. Write about your surroundings, thoughts, breakthroughs, and the origins of weird inside jokes about squirrel hats that are birthed at 3 a.m. You’ll be happy to have the record later. Plus, putting your experiences down on paper helps you process them.


Keys. It’ll be hard to get very far without them.


Lucky Charm. Not the cereal (but we encourage that, too, of course). Like that rabbit foot you’ll be inclined to buy at that truck stop, a talisman will keep you free from bad road juju. For ladies whose handbags are wild jungles, this’ll also make it easier to find your keys amidst the 20 gum packs, lip glosses, and old movie stubs you’ve got in there.


Map. Navigating with a real map (no GPS!) is a fun challenge that we encourage. Plus, you get to feel like a real explorer, but without tights and ruffled collars.


Nutella. ‘Nuff said.


Oregano. You never know when you’ll need to spice up some gas station food.


Phone. You have to bring your phone so you can jam to your favorite playlist and/or instagram photos from the road (follow us! @roadtripnation). Our phones do so much for us these days, but try to put down the technology every once in awhile and really invest yourself in the experience. Facebook will still be there when you’re back home, and you can wait to see what Full House character Buzzfeed says your friend is.


Q-tips. Q is a tough one, but we’ve gotta say that these are really handy when you wanna detail your car/RV.


R2-D2. Well, you might not be able to put him in the car, but it’s always a good idea to have a co-pilot with mechanical skills… or at least the knowledge of how to change a tire.


Salty snacks, sweet snacks, savory snacks… all the snacks. This is one of the most essential ingredients to an awesome road trip. Your car must essentially become a portable 7-11.


Toilet Paper. For when that big gulp sounded like a great idea.


Underwear. This is a general packing tip rather than a road-trip-specific tip. Regardless, bring more of it than you thought would be humanly needed. Then add 5 more pairs.


Violin. For entertaining others at rest stops. Also, this instrument meshes well with a banjo (see letter B of this list.)


Water. #HydrationNation. Stay hydrated on the road! Soda will only make thirst worse. So much worse.


Xtra Set of Keys. This one’s a stretch, we’ll admit, but “x” was a challenging letter to work with, and having an extra (or “xtra” as the case may be) set of keys can’t hurt.


Yes! (A Positive Attitude). Stuff will happen on the road that will push your buttons. It’s inevitable. Spending a lot of time cooped up in vehicles with others doesn’t always bring out the most sunshiny parts of our personalities. Roll with the punches. When you start to get annoyed at the way your friend pronounces the letter ‘A,’ or you’ve been driving so long that you vow to sell your car and transport yourself via rollerblades, just remember that pretty soon you’ll be back home on the couch wishing you were on the road again.


Ziploc Bags. Because they are straight-up practical.


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Introducing Our First-Gen Road-Trippers!


This summer, we’re partnering with the College Board to offer four first-generation college-going students the chance to travel the country in our Green RV. These road-trippers are the first in their families to go to college, and they’ll be interviewing inspiring professionals who were also first-generation college-going students. They’ll start their 4-week journey in July, but before they take the wheel, here’s a little bit of info to help you get to know them:


Jenny is a 19-year-old freshman from Mississippi State University. She’s putting herself through college, and is currently trying to decide on a college major. She’s interested in a lot of things, but is worried that remaining “undeclared” means she’s wasting her time and her money. She’s looking forward to meeting other individuals who have faced similar struggles.


Jasmine is an outgoing 20-year-old sophomore from the University of South Carolina. She comes from a very tight-knit family, and has some reservations about leaving her comfort zone and her family. This trip will allow her to take the first step out of the “Carolina bubble.”


Felipe is a 24-year-old from Los Angeles, California. He’s the first in his family (as well as his apartment complex) to graduate from college, and is now looking for ways to pay it forward. He wants to relay the importance of education to kids in the neighborhoods he grew up in, so he’s excited to speak with mentors who have done similar work in their communities.


Johnathan is a 20-year-old sophomore from the University of Central Florida, who is eager to develop his leadership skills. He’s majoring in marketing, and wants to own his own company someday. Johnathan’s driven by his sense of responsibility to pave the way and be a good role model for his younger siblings. The farthest he’s ever traveled is Ohio and he’s eager to be exposed to more of the country.

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Design Road-Trippers: Initial Thoughts On Design


Our design road-trippers (Ben, Sofaya, and Martha) have been very busy booking interviews and planning for their trip! This summer, they will be traveling the country and interviewing leading design innovators. We can’t disclose (yet) who the team will be chatting with, but we can say that they’re going to be speaking with some pretty rad folks. In line with the theme of their road trip, we thought it would be fun to share each of their initial thoughts on design. So, without further ado…


Ben’s thoughts on design:


We experience design in various forms throughout every facet of life. When I think of design, my mind jumps to the obvious things, like my surfboards, guitar, phone, and car; but what truly intrigues me about design is the passion, creativity and dedication of the people behind it. Designers have been a driving force behind human culture since the beginning of time (thanks for the wheel, guys). The excitement of creating something new, or unique, or outrageously awesome, does not stop with the designer—it spreads to those who experience that creation. Design is an experience, and often a collective one. Designers are continuously pushing the envelope of what we can experience, and how we experience it. A painting doesn’t settle to be just color and canvas, it evokes emotion.


I have always been intrigued by design’s ability to evoke emotion, motivate action, and connect people around the world.  My mission is to find the area of design that allows me to think creatively and enhance the world around me to positively impact the lives of others. So many designers around the globe are doing just that, and I hope to talk with some of them this summer.


Sofaya’s thoughts on design:


Things people need are invented. Things people want are designed. A lot of times when things are made, the maker forgets that the end users are people, and it’s the job of the designer to make things desirable to people. Whether it’s by making it function better, making it more efficient, making it feel nicer, or making it intuitive or easily understood, above all, for God’s sake, make it beautiful. Raymond Leowy once said, “Between two products equal in price, function and quality, the one with the most attractive exterior will win.” Once you start to make decisions in which the specs can’t be quantified, the consequences are more subjective and nuanced than “it works/it doesn’t work.” The only way to test it is to take it to a real person and ask them, “Do you like this? Why?” Then you know you’re entering the realm of design.


Martha’s thoughts on design:


Design can mean so many things: art, graphic design, urban planning, robotics, magazines, games, apps. It’s so wide-reaching that we sometimes get bogged down in the specifics of the WHAT – the physical manifestation of the programs or the structures or the technology that make up what is being designed. But what fascinates me, and what keeps me coming back to the idea of design in my life, is the WHY – the reason people continue to create and innovate. It seems to me that this WHY—the reason people design—is both simple and powerful: it is the chance to make “things” humans. It’s fascinating to examine how what we make defines who we are as a culture, a nation, and a species: the story of our things tells us about who we are, what we value, and how we choose to create our lives. Whether it’s in the sound production of a radio show or the inner workings of an airplane, design’s goal is to allow us to do more and share more – at its core, it is functional empathy.


Here are some images the road-trippers associate with design:



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Top 11 Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Recent Grad



Graduation is that crazy, exciting time when major change comes rushing at you, and there’s no pressing on the breaks. Our whole lives, we grow up being students. We think of time passing in terms of semesters. We mark endings with finals, and new beginnings with syllabi. After graduation, there are no term papers due or reading assignments to complete. There’s no more set path. Instead, there’s a long expanse of time before you that you’re basically free to fill in any way you want! (And here’s where you might feel compelled to press the panic button and turn to your friends ‘Ben and Jerry.’ Avoid that impulse… just keep reading). Look, we know the stuff that people say to you doesn’t always make the time of transition any easier. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the 11 worst things to say to a recent graduate…a PSA of sorts.


Know a recent graduate? Don’t say these things to them!


1) So, what are you going to do with your life?

2) Welcome to the “real” world.

3) Good luck finding a job!

4) You studied history?! You should have studied business or engineering. Then maybe you could find a job.

5) When do your loan payments start?

6) Those were the four best years of your life. It’s all downhill from here.

7) How are you actually going to use your degree?

8) Too bad you don’t get summers off anymore.

9) Do you even have work experience?

10) You haven’t found a job? You must not be trying hard enough.

11) It’s no longer socially acceptable to eat ramen noodle soup for dinner every night- you’re an adult now!


Here’s the lowdown, recent grads…


Those statements above? Those are what we call “the noise.” What’s “the noise?” It’s the messages you hear from society (including family, friends, or strangers) that often influence what you think you should do with your life. It is a constant process to shed the noise and focus on what matters to you most…but a worthwhile one.


The fact is, you can either approach this transition by thinking of it as totally stressful or totally exciting. And, let’s be real- it’s way more fun to think of it as totally exciting. Your life routine is being thrown out the window (rolling out of bed at noon and going to class won’t be your norm anymore), but now you get to write the blueprints for how your life will look. You can define your road in life however YOU want. As Roadtrip Nation Leader JP Barlow says, “If you’re not lost, you’re not much of an explorer.” This is the time to make mistakes, backtrack, learn new skills, and in general figure things out, slowly but surely.


We’ll leave you with a quote from Roadtrip Nation Leader Suzy Clark, who has great advice for going through times of transition. Suzy says, “If you truly embrace the struggle, or the challenge, or the change, or the suffering—whatever it may be—through that surrender to it you then move through it, because you allowed yourself to be changed by it.” Allow yourself to be changed by this momentous occasion. Embrace it. Surrender to it. Move through it. It’s going to be awesome. Congrats, grads!

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Share Your Favorite Teacher Story


It’s no doubt that educators rock. That’s why our TEACH Roadtrippers will be hitting the road this summer to speak with everyone from teachers to educational policymakers, activists, and beyond. These folks are part of a social justice movement that’s reshaping our world! And, since these educators are so awesome, we think they deserve a little recognition. That’s why we wanted to share this opportunity with you…


TakePart is collecting the stories of educators who have made an impact. Have a story to tell about an educator who helped shape your life? We’re inviting you to share it: http://www.takepart.com/teach/teacher-stories

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