Most twenty-somethings treat apartment hunting almost as seriously as finding a new spouse. They scour the interwebs with a fine-tooth comb looking for the best listings. They visit countless contenders with an “unbiased” friend or family member. And finally ask their dad to give them their “expert opinion.” Overall the process usually takes a couple weeks and definitely not driving thousands of miles… that is, unless you’re Britany Robinson.
As a self-proclaimed millennial, Robinson has always had a knack for adventure. On her blog, Stars on the Ceiling, Robinson tells a story when she was young:
When I was eight years old, my best friend and I decided to run away to Yosemite National Park. We lived the Bay Area of California at the time, so that would involve approximately 125 miles of walking, to start. We would then have to survive in the wilderness, for which we prepared for by studying wild plants and animals, climbing trees, and crawling up my parents gravel driveway on our hands and knees to toughen our skin.
As it turns out, groveling in gravel paid off and she has been working as a travel writer ever since! Robinson has worked “on an elephant camp in Northern Thailand, been robbed in Bogota, Colombia, driven a Fiat Panda across a third of the Earth’s surface, hallucinated on ayahuasca in Peru, and spent time living in both Chicago and New York City.”
Needless to say, Robinson still hasn’t officially settled down, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t looking.
In August, Robinson departed on an epic 11,000 mile journey to find her “forever home.” She plans to visit over 30 cities and make it back to her parent’s home in time for the holidays, where she will then announce her new home, pack up her things, and drive back!
Her project is simply called: Road Trip Home, USA: A Millennial Traveler’s Guide to Settling Down.
I had a chance to speak with her over Google Hangout recently while she was visiting Chicago (I was having technical difficulties and was not able to record the Hangout, I have learned my lesson for next month). As it turns out, Robinson was taking a longer detour than normal to work at an old job she once held when she lived in Chicago.
When I caught up with her, Robinson was still in the early stages of her journey (just 6 cities in). She’s been blogging along the way, giving her readers tid bits about the cities she’s visited and breaks down their “Millennial Livability.” Robinson judges the city by multiple criteria such as population density, transportation, drinking/dining scene and millennial vibe to name a few. (You can find an example post here)
I noticed on her travel map that she drove right past Pittsburgh on her way to Lexington, KY after visiting Niagra Falls, NY. I politely reminded Robinson that Pittsburgh is probably the best place to live in my unbiased opinion. She kindly apologized and semi-promised that she would try to visit the Burgh on the tail end of her journey. I’m going to hold her to that.
I then asked Robinson if traveling alone gets lonely. She says it does but it allows her to meet so many new and interesting people. I asked if she has gotten better at striking up conversation with total strangers at restaurants and bars, she says she has but offered one piece of advice in case there’s no one there to talk to: “Bring a book to read.” In a recent blog post, Robinson writes:
There have been plenty of moments when I’ve reconsidered the decision to take this cross-country trip — to pack up my life, yet again, and toss myself into the unknown in pursuit of a dream that’s been dangling just out of reach for so long. But if I didn’t do it, I would always regret it. Even if I spend half of my time feeling lonely and missing home, the other half will be worth it. Once this trip is over, it will be the best moments — the successes and smiles and adventures I’m going to have — that will stick with me. If I hadn’t gone, all I would have is the question, “what if?”.
One thing Robinson has noticed on her journey so far is that millennials are focused on creating a sense of community more so than we are perceived. She gave an example about young small-business owners in Cincinnati, OH who have worked hard to revitalize a neighborhood called Over the Rhine district from a place to get hookers and heroin to an, “eclectic hub of shopping, dining, and drinking.” Robinson feels that this desire for community and helping others is what separates us from generations past.
If you want to “travel” along with Ms. Robinson on her epic journey, you can sign up for her newsletter “The Passenger Seat” here. I also highly suggest checking out her blog sotcblog.com where she has written some fantastic travel stories such as her ordeal after being robbed in Bogota and discovering the Real Berlin through street art.
Oh, if you are wondering what Robinson’s favorite city has been so far, it’s Cincinnati. But that is bound to change, of course, right after she visits Pittsburgh.