Have you ever wanted to drop everything and go on an adventure? I was excited to learn that Andrew Redlawsk, a friend of mine who is not from the travel blogging world, announced he was going to do just that. He’s setting off on a 5,000-mile cross-country road trip with 3 friends with a tent and a tight budget. And he’s making a documentary about the experience, called JUST GO. He sat down with me for a few questions about the project.
So what exactly is JUST GO all about?
What we’re doing is setting out to make a film that proves adventure isn’t simply the province of those with secure jobs and stable finances. To show that, in a time of rising costs and fewer opportunities, when it’s no longer safe to hitchhike across the country in accordance with that On the Road ideal, there’s still adventure to be had.
So we’re embarking on a 5,000 mile journey across America from coast to coast, finding some of the best driving roads we can, avoiding interstates if at all possible, all the while documenting the things we see, the people we meet, and struggles we will inevitably face while trying to spend as little money as we can without missing out on what makes an adventure like this worthwhile.
Particularly, we want to speak directly to our generation as much as possible. It’s been incredibly difficult for many of us to build stable lives, find constant gainful employment that also drives us emotionally, creatively. This lack of stability makes it so hard to take risks; we live on the edge. Well, we want to prove that not only is it possible to take this risk, to have this adventure, but that it may well be necessary for us. The more challenges we face in our day to day life, the more we struggle with finding our place in a society constantly shifting, the more we need opportunities like the one we’ve found here to go and do something meaningful, challenging, and that satisfies this feeling of wanderlust that in some way seems present in us all.
How long do you think the trip will take?
Well, we’re planning on roughly three weeks for this trip, we’ve done extensive research on our expected path, and we hope that we’ll be able to not just breeze through parks and cities, but actually be able to take the time to appreciate them. Of course, anything is possible. Maybe we find a place we really want to explore for more than a day, maybe our car breaks down and we have to find a way to get it fixed. There are so many variables, we just have to accept that as a given and be ready and willing to roll with whatever circumstances come our way.
Where are you planning to stop off along the way?
Oh man, pretty much everywhere. That’s an exaggeration, of course, but really this trip’s course has been plotted with the idea of going to the places that seem most interesting to us, especially within the context of driving; we want to find roads that stir something in us, that remind us that driving is more than just a way to get from place to place conveniently and quickly. We’re beginning in Seattle, and we’re heading east and a bit north to the tip of Montana, then making our way straight south into Utah. From there, we’ll head east once more through Colorado, eventually making our way south, crossing the border into Arkansas before heading up north following the Appalachians. There are too many landmarks to list, honestly.
Why did you opt to set a budget of $100 per person per week?
The average American spends $150 a week on food alone. One of the seemingly greatest barriers to any adventure, of course, is financial. We want to prove that this is a hurdle than can be overcome. As such, we’ve set a bar low enough that it could be met by almost anyone. To clarify, that one hundred we’re spending per person per week includes both gas and food money, along with gear, but we’re not going to miss out on any experiences along the way.
What are your plans for saving money?
There are obviously a number of things we can do; I’ll focus on three of them here. First, we’re camping instead of staying in hotels/motels. This is pretty much necessary if you’re looking to do a trip like ours – hotel prices obviously add up, and a tent is a one-time expenditure. Obviously, there are costs involved with camping as well, but they’re nowhere near those involved with hotels.
Secondly, we’re going as a group. With four people, many of the costs can be split so that the burden isn’t so heavy on each individual. For example, gas will be end up totaling around or over five hundred dollars, which for any one of us individually would be prohibitive, but that cost split four ways makes it a much more tenable proposition. The same goes for the price of the tent and car repairs/upkeep.
Then, we’ll be cooking for ourselves as opposed to spending money at too many restaurants along the way. Rice and Beans with dried or smoked proteins are much more cost effective, and we’re prepared to cook over open flame as many of the nights as possible.
Did you guys grow up going camping and stuff?
A few of us did, which certainly helps, but I don’t think it’s a requirement. Obviously having experience pitching tents in the dark and making campfires comes in handy, but they’re skills that can be learned relatively easily if you put your mind to it. Really, a camping/outdoors background is great and useful and I’m extremely happy we can count an Eagle Scout amongst our number, but I don’t think the lack of such a background should be seen as a barrier to entry for this sort of journey. More important than the previous experience is our preparation and the logistical planning we’re doing now. Being prepared means more than having been a boy scout.
Why are you opting to forgo the use of smart phones?
Smart Phones are awesome. I use mine in life all the time. It keeps me tuned in to my friends, keeps me abreast of current events, and is an incredibly potent communicative tool. But part of the point of this is cutting ties, momentarily, and searching for an experience more purely primal, more about our present and our immediate experiences. Constant contact with a world we’re familiar with would somewhat serve to undermine that goal.
And partly, at least for me, the turning off of my smart phone is kind of exciting, kind of exhilarating, really because I haven’t ever done it before, not since I became accustomed to the use of Smart Phones as a fact of daily life. I’m looking forward to the newness of an older way of living.
How will you keep from getting lost? Or is that just part of the adventure?
We’ll have an atlas. Hopefully we’ll remember how to read it.
Why do this as a documentary? What do you hope that people will gain from it?
As mentioned at the start, part of this is about more than just going on a cool trip. It was the fact that, when we first talked with other people about this trip we were planning, we ran across the same response “I wish I could do that.” Inevitably, then, the person would list all of the reasons why they couldn’t. Which is fair, which is understandable. We just feel that sometimes it truly is worth it to go ahead and recognize those reasons, then ignore them. There will always be reasons to avoid doing what is truly worthwhile, what is challenging (whatever that means for each person – it doesn’t have to be a road trip. It could be, but it could also be something like pursuing a new job or taking a chance in your personal life), and we want to show with a rather dramatic example exactly what we as people can accomplish without waiting for ideal circumstances.
So, when do you think we’ll all be able to see the film?
We’re shooting for a release date in early 2015, but we won’t be able to know for sure until we’ve taken the trip!
Given their smart phone blackout during the trip, there won’t be any social media updates along the way, but you can find JUST GO on Facebook and Twitter to learn when you’ll be able to see the film for yourself!