Tag Archives: International travel

How I Drove 2,300 Miles Without My License (And Why You Shouldn’t) Part 1

You might be thinking this is clickbait. Or is that a typo? No, I really did drive 2,300 miles, without my license, by myself, at 18 years old across the country. Now before I tell you how I ended up in the middle of Kansas, at midnight, with no license I need to give you some background.

In the summer of 2017 I started thinking about what I wanted to do with my life and what I wanted to become. This was around my 18th birthday in July. As the summer finished and the School year began, I started realizing that I could, if I wanted, take a trip that would give me further knowledge about what was out there.

In December 2017 I decided to follow through. During this time I was working full time as well as doing school full time so there wasn’t a lot of access time for spare planning. But I did manage to put together an incomplete document that would start me on my preparation.

Around Christmas I headed over to Zambia, Africa (I was visiting my family who moved for orphan missions, but more on that in another post). In Zambia I finalized my plans, which were fairly detailed, deciding against the 8,000 mile trip I was originally planning.

My new plan was to head down to Florida, explore, head back up through Louisiana to Texas, explore, and then head home to Michigan. All with a few minor stops along the way. The trip was around the corner. I was so excited!

It was a bittersweet moment for me. My time in Zambia was about over. And, in March 2018, I said goodbye to my family after 3 very special months. This had been a great period to rest, learn, and spend time with the most important people in my world.

I flew back to Lansing by myself, pondering and searching for a single feeling to feel. But there were so many. I felt alone. Even though I was going to live with my Grandma (and what a blessing that is), I was missing the people who had been with me my whole life.

I also felt anxiety. Here I was, 18 years old, with so many life changes like college, work, summer plans, and then my trip, all coming up just around the corner.

But I was also excited. My life had been, for the most part, out of my control up till this moment. And now the pen and paper were finally getting handed to me to write my own story. I thought I was ready.

With these emotions and so many others spreading around in my mind and nervous system, I really was starting to grow up. Not all at once, but slowly.

The plane landed.

I got to Lansing, spent time with friends and Grandma, and after one week it was time to leave. Finally, the moment I had been waiting for had come. Again, I thought I was ready. So, in the first few days of April, I left.

 

From Africa to the U.S.

I made my way back to the US juggling a lot of different thoughts and emotions. As carried myself onto the first plane in Ndola, Zambia I silently said goodbye to Zambia. I stepped on and realized the plane was tiny. Even as a short person the leg room for my bag and feet wasn’t ideal. Eventually I managed to fit myself in.

The next stop was Ethiopia. I got off and waded through the crowds of people who spoke languages I’d probably never heard of. The next boarding was simple enough. This time the plane was ginormous.

After getting myself situated I tried to get some sleep. For some reason my carryon wouldn’t fit above me so I had to fit it in somewhere else. On the flight I took out my phone (which of course was on airplane mode) and began writing notes. I went through all the things I wanted to accomplish in the next week.

My list of things was relatively simple yet most were things I had never done before. The first thing was get new tires and oil for my car. The second was go shopping for everything on my road trip. The third, and probably most important thing was paying taxes for the first time in my life.

I had a week before I wanted to leave for my trip, so there wasn’t a lot of time to sit around. But none of the things on the list took massive amounts of time either, I just had to make sure I didn’t procrastinate.

I woke up just before the plane landed in Frankfurt, Germany. I had just a few hour layover before my flight to Chicago. I got off exhausted and began wandering the relatively empty hallways of the airport looking for my gate number. I finally asked around and got to where I needed to be. There was an hour till boarding started. “Oh boy,” I thought sarcastically, “can’t wait to sit here for an hour.”

I sat down on a bench and felt a trickle running down from my nose. “Even better,” I thought, “a bloody nose.” I snatched out clean-x from my bag. As a kid I used to get bloody noses almost every day but as I got older I got less and less of them. As boarded started I sat there, waiting for the bloody nose to end. Finally it stopped, just in time for me to get in line for boarding.

Fourteen hours later I was in Chicago. Chicago! It felt so good to be in the United States. I went to the bookstore and bought $50 worth of investing books. Anyone who knows me knows my interest and knowledge on the topic of personal finance. I sat and read for half an hour. Before I knew it it was time for my flight home to Lansing, Michigan.

The flight home went quickly. I ate a tiny bag of pretzels given to me by the flight attendant. We landed and I slowly made my way off the plane with my fellow passengers. I descended the escalator in Lansing airport. As I lowered to the ground my grandma appeared waving and smiling.

We greeted each other and talked on our way to pick up the luggage. After locating everything and getting in the car we drove to the nearest restaurant: Chick Fil A. I ate a couple chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. They tasted good. As we sat my Grandma asked me about the roads. “It was like driving on the moon,” I said between mouthfuls of fries. “There would be these massive craters in the middle of the road that we’d occasionally have to go through.” She laughed. “Glad you’re back in Michigan.”

We went home. Now that I was in the US I was beginning to anticipate my next adventure….