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Lessons From the Road: 5 Things You Should Never Take For Granted

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After 4 months on the road, I’ve learned that there are just some things in life that it’s easy to take for granted, but that I am now VERY VERY grateful for whenever I have them.

So here’s a list of 5 things I’ll never take for granted again (and I hope you won’t either!):

1. A place to refuel

I mean this literally and figuratively.

Being on the road in the middle of America, it’s been extremely important that I pay attention to my car’s fuel gauge. Believe it or not, there are many places in the middle of the country that don’t have gas stations. There are also some places that SAY they have gas stations, but when I arrived, they were either closed down or out of fuel.

There were definitely some scary moments out there alone, like that one time I rolled into a gas station with less than 3 miles left on my cars fuel range…

These same long stretches of driving also tend to lack places to eat. While I always have granola bars, mixed nuts and fruit, after 6 hours of driving it definitely feels awesome to find someplace to refuel with something of a little more sustenance.

“Refueling” also means getting up and stretching, taking a quick cat nap, going for a short walk and/or seeing something other than open highway passing in front of your eyeballs for hours on end.

The bottom line is that when there is a chance to refuel and recharge, take it! You never know when you’ll find yourself in the middle of nowhere, tired and exhausted, and 60 miles to the next rest stop.

So fuel up!

2. A safe place to sleep

When you’re living out of a car, averaging 4-6 hours of driving per day, good sleep is critical. But that won’t happen if you don’t feel safe when you close your eyes at night.

This is all about trusting your intuition and detaching from what you thought a situation was supposed to be like. After being on the road, couch surfing and staying with different people every few nights, I’ve learned that not every place that looks safe, feels safe; and not every place that feels safe, looks safe.

But your intuition is usually spot on.

So when you find a safe space to lay your head at night, don’t take it for granted. Don’t be afraid to leave a situation that doesn’t feel right, and don’t be so quick to get to your next destination, because you just never know what you’ll find when you arrive.

Appreciate what you have now. Missing out on a good nights rest can quickly turn a fun day of driving into a nightmare.

3. A clean bathroom

On this road trip, I definitely found myself is some pretty touchy situations during those long stretches of driving.

What do you mean “Next rest stop: 32 miles!” But I have to go to the bathroom NOW!!

And when the next and only rest stop is 32 miles away, you can bet that every single person on the highway is stopping there.

To use the SAME 5 stalls.

So you’d better have your own toilet paper. And you’d better have antibacterial gel. And you’d better remember to pee before you leave the next Starbucks you stop at, because you just never know when you’ll find another clean bathroom.

Of course there’s always the option to pull over to the side of the road. And truth be told, most men prefer to do this. But after oatmeal and coffee, and 3 hours of sitting, we’re not always talking about number 1 here folks. If you think you can make it on an Epic Road Trip across the country without having to do number 2 in a public restroom, you’re just wrong (or plugged up. Ok. Ew. But if that’s the case, you need to stop eating road food).

So when you find yourself someplace quiet, private and clean – take all the time you need to just relax and let things flow.

Literally.

Oh, and if you’re spending the night someplace with a clean shower, use it. I can’t even begin to tell you how many yoga classes I’ve gone to just to have access to a clean shower…

4. A washer and dryer

Even though I technically have an entire car to myself, which implies that I  could probably pack quite a bit of clothing for my road trip if I really wanted to, I still choose to travel light.

Having too much stuff while living out of your car is never a good thing.

But less clothing means more washing must occur (well, unless you’re into that “I’m on a road trip and must look dirty and scrubby” look. I’m not. I travel in sundresses, thank you very much. And no – I’m not high maintenance. Sundress = 1 article of clothing. Boom).

Never underestimate the power of clean clothing. Something changes inside of us when we feel clean and fresh.

As a couch surfer, I’ve been staying in people’s homes. So most of the time I’ve been fortunate enough to have access to a washer and dryer. But there have definitely been times where I’ve taken this little luxury for granted; where I’ve ended up on day 10 without a clean shirt or pair of socks, hitting myself for not taking advantage of the washer and dryer I had access to a few nights before.

So if someone offers you the ability to wash your clothes, do it; even if that means you’re washing a few items that could have lasted a little bit longer.

Oh, and pack dryer sheets.

Believe it or not, not everybody uses them (in fact, maybe you don’t!). But if you’re wearing the same clothes over and over, keeping them soft with a dryer sheet makes a huge difference regarding their longevity (and your comfort). Not to mention that dryer sheets serve multiple functions.

I’m proud to say that my trunk smells like a beautiful lavender field thanks to a few strategically placed dryer sheets.

5. A home cooked meal

This one’s a no-brainer: If someone is willing to cook for you, you never ever ever EVER pass that up.

Ever.

There is absolutely nothing that compares to a home cooked meal. And trust me: I’m a foodie. I’m all about trying the local cuisine and the top restaurants on Yelp.

But seriously, eating out catches up to you.

Also, I’m starting to believe what many chefs say: When they cook for people they love, they pour their hearts into their food. If you’re entering someones home, and they’re offering to make you a meal, accept it; the food will taste way better than any 5 star rated restaurant on Urbanspoon or Tripadvisor.

Your belly, heart, mind and host will feel both full and happy.

So that’s it!

Now it’s your turn: Are there any things in your life that you’ve learned to NEVER EVER EVER take for granted? Share what you’ve learned in the comments below!

Sending you Peace & Love,

-V

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Angela January 19, 2014 at 7:12 pm

1. Family. The one I was born into and the one I created.
2. Love. Without it, no amount of fame or fortune is worth it.
3. Health. Without it, you can’t do much.
4. Peace. It makes everything else so much easier.
5. Faith. I rely on miracles!

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Victoria Gigante January 20, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Absolutely beautiful, Angela! Thank you for sharing.

Sending Peace & Love,
Victoria

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Sadie February 22, 2014 at 2:20 am

Victoria, Angela, I agree! Some other things great for a road trip specifically are: ‘Just A Drop’, Tenna cleansing cloths, chenille socks and dry shampoo. I try never to take for granted my ability to make the world a better place in my work and beyond. Wildlife never fails to fill me with awe. And nothing beats a sun dress! You can always add a cardigan and leggings. I always feel free, joyous and beautiful in a sundress

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Victoria Gigante February 22, 2014 at 9:45 am

Haha awesome Sadie! Thank you for sharing. Ahhhh wildlife. Love it. -Victoria

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