You could almost say visiting all 50 US states was destined for me. I was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts into a family who always valued travel and adventure. Since a young age, my family and I have traveled a few times a year – both domestically within the US and internationally.
We went on our first overseas trip to the Caribbean before my sister and I were 10 and have continued to explore 15+ countries together since. Growing up in New England allowed me to visit 6 states at a young age. I eventually was able to cover the entire northeast fairly early on, plus visit family in other states such as Oregon, Washington, Georgia and Florida.
By the time I had reached adulthood, I had already been to more than half of the US states. When COVID hit, international travel was put on hold for the foreseeable future. This inspired me to pivot my travel plans and blog strategy to cover more of the US and it’s national parks, which eventually led to my 50 states challenge. At this point, I have visited 41/50 states!
I have done both coasts extensively, leaving me with landlocked states in the middle of the country like Arkansas, Kansas and Nebraska. A few weeks ago I visited New Orleans with some friends and day-tripped to Biloxi, Mississippi and Mobile, Alabama – bringing me up to state number 41.
I don’t have any set plans right now for another state trip, but have mapped out my last two trips. One is a Route 66 road trip and my last trip would cover the Dakotas. I hope to visit all 50 states by the end of this summer!
Favorite States: Wyoming, New Hampshire & Vermont
One of the reasons why the US is one of my favorite countries in the world to travel through is because of how diverse it is. Hawaii couldn’t be more different from Montana and Montana couldn’t be more different from Alaska. Although I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing them all, I especially loved my time in the Tetons in Wyoming and exploring states like New Hampshire and Vermont during peak foliage season in Autumn.
The most underrated state I have visited has definitely been Wyoming. It has the smallest population in the US, but it offers so much. I recommend flying into Jackson Hole and spending a day or two exploring the ski town before heading out to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. Yellowstone was the first national park in the US and it’s a real gem!
Most Difficult State to Explore – Iowa
The most difficult state to explore so far has been Iowa. I visited Iowa on a midwest road trip and drove through on my way from Madison, Wisconsin to the Twin Cities. It was hard to find a substantial town on my route to visit and cover for my following, but after research I landed on Decorah – a small Norwegian town in northeast Iowa. Iowa is also so large and barren. It’s hard to explore, especially if you don’t have a car! Lots and lots of corn.
Best Experience While Visiting all 50 US States
One of my favorite memories from my US travels was the sunrise hot air balloon ride I took with my mom in Jackson, Wyoming. We had always wanted to experience this adventure and so we booked a slot our first morning in Wyoming while the rest of our family slept in from jetlag.
Rising above the clouds over plains and plains of wild cattle and horses, as the golden sun was just beginning to peak over the Teton Range and warm the cool air, was a feeling I will never forget. We ended our hot air balloon ride with some mimosas – I couldn’t think of a better way to start the day!
How to Travel Around the United States
Traveling around the US is interesting. There are a few budget airlines like Spirit or Breeze that I will fly with into major cities to save money, although my favorite is JetBlue. I have been able to cover most of the US through road trips. Having a car enables you to see places you would normally never visit, and has made the “fly over states” much more accessible.
I have taken trains up and down the northeast before, such as the Amtrak from Boston to DC, but if I can I prefer to rent a car and drive through multiple states on a trip. I’m lucky to live in a country that offers so much!
Budgeting Strategies for Visiting all 50 US States
Since college, I have funded 99% of my travels myself. I always worked through school, especially during the summer months when I could work 2+ jobs full-time. I also love finding a good deal (who doesn’t!) and have had a lot of luck with budget airlines and flight search sites like Skyscanner.
I keep my eyes peeled for Amtrak sales and also use websites like Priceline and my AAA discount for rental cars. Most of my work is freelance digital marketing which allows me to work from wherever, which can help to top up my savings. I have appreciated working from the road and being able to fund my travels this way without having to dip into my savings.
What’s Next on the Bucket List, After Visiting all 50 US States
I hope to finish visiting all 50 US states by the end of 2022, and ideally this summer if I can. I will also graduate with my MBA this summer, so there is a lot to look forward to! I still have dozens of national parks and new cities on my bucket list that will motivate me to continue to explore the US for a longtime, but I really have my heart set on Europe right now.
I haven’t traveled internationally since March 2020, which is so strange for me considering I was visiting close to 10 countries a year for the 3 years prior. I can’t wait to visit Europe again and backpack through some new cities. I think I’m up to 38 countries now and would love to get to 50 soon!
Visiting every country in the world (all 196) is out of the question for me due to safety reasons and lack of desire to explore certain areas, but I would love to get to 100! And all 7 continents too! The last one is Antarctica.
Tips for Visiting all 50 US States
Visiting all 50 states is definitely achievable! My original goal was to do all 50 by the age of 50, and now I’m on track to see all 50 by the time I’m 24. I recommend bulking state visits into regional trips – for example, a southwest road trip that would cover Nevada, Utah and Arizona.
Or you could do a week in the beautiful Pacific Northwest covering states like Oregon and Washington. Or a fall leaf peeping trip that begins in Boston, Massachusetts and covers places like New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island and maybe even New York! By doing this, you will be able to see all 50 US states in no time.
One piece of advice I would share to anyone looking to do this is to invest in an America the Beautiful Parks pass and do research on nearby national parks in the states you visit. This pass is only $80 and is good for one year at any park in the US (an unlimited amount of times). It pays for itself almost instantly and allows you to explore the very best of the US on a budget!