How To Walk Across America:

Currently, I am walking across America.

UPDATE: I have completed my journey, where I ended in New Orleans and flew back home to return to graduate school.  The following was written during the second month of my journey.


I would like to provide any future walkers with the resources and advice to set out on their own journey across the country.  Much of what I have written is culled from experience, some comes from advice given to me from other travelers on the road.

So take a look around and explore the contents.  I hope that my journey will inspire you to take on your own challenge.

For the EXTREME! Challenge:

So what makes walking across America EXTREME!?

For one, the distance of a transcontinental walk at 2,500+ miles can be physically challenging.  Whether you're pushing a cart or carrying a backpack, the strain and stress of continuous sojourns at 15 - 30 miles per day can quickly deplete your physical resources if you're not prepared.  Weather and conditions can quickly wear you down, ranging from scorching heat, to bitter snow, to high-velocity winds.

The duration of the walk itself can push your emotional and spiritual limits.  Most of the time, you'll be out by yourself in the scorching Southwestern deserts or endless fields of corn in the Midwest with little more to do than keep walking, anywhere from 4 to 12 months.  I met a man who was walking from Maine down to Florida, across to California, then north into Washington; he'd been walking for more than 7 years coast to coast.

And finally, if your finances are thin like myself, you can expect to be camping off the highway, under bridges, or in an abandoned house.  Occasionally, I've met kind-hearted people who've helped me with a place to stay and a good meal to eat.  But the majority of the experience teeters on the edge of terror during lonely nights beside the road.


I'll break down this manual on how to walk across the country with four major sections:

1.) Preparation

In the Preparation section, we'll discuss the training, materials, and equipment that you'll need to get yourself in shape and ready to step out the door into the wide, open world of the road.

2.) Walking

The Walking section will involve the actual mechanics of day-to-day walking, from nutrition to stretching.  I'll go over some of my own challenges I've had to face from my current walk.

3.) Journey

For the Journey section, I included an in depth discussion of the emotional and spiritual elements of walking for long periods of time.  For me, these pieces are the flesh and bones of my purpose for walking.  If you're not inclined towards what I will introduce in this section, feel free to skip over them.  They are not necessary for an actual journey, but I believe they make a journey far more rich and alive.

4.) Appendix

I've placed any files and external resources here for your reference.  Also, I will be adding other resources that I wasn't able to include in other sections.  In addition, I'll have added a few personal pieces here for sharing with the world.

About Me:

My name is Bryan.  I've taken a one-year deferral from graduate school at Stanford to walk across America, soaking in the moments each step of the way.  I recently lost my father from a stroke, which spurred me to take action in my own life.  I've always wanted to see the world up-close and meet the lovely characters that make up humanity, and so I figured I'd do it the most intimate way I could.

Walking is my way of getting to know myself and others.  I grew up walking to most places in my neighborhood, and every evening, I'd take a walk with my mom beside the beach.  In college, if I had an intricate chemical problem I was trying to solve, I'd go take a walk and break apart the problem under the trees of Aldrich Park.  So I have had good memories of walking in my life.

I've walked about 500 miles east from The Shire in University of California, Irvine and currently resting in the city of Globe, AZ.  My journey will take me through Las Cruces, NM; El Paso, TX; Austin, TX; New Orleans, LA; parts of Mississippi; parts of Alabama; and finally, Florida.  My plan is to walk into Jacksonville, FL by August 2012, just before I head back to school.

The journey has taught me many lessons, and I hope I can share some of my experience to someone who would want to walk a journey for themselves.

So far, so good.

Step 1: Preparation: Purpose


I believe the most critical piece of any journey, regardless of transportation mode, requires some purpose or aim.  Before buying the equipment, before the training, before stepping out of the door, determining what your reason for walking at all may be far more useful for your journey than any other piece.  It may also be the most challenging, and you might discover that walking across the country is more a fantasy than a purposeful way to spend your time.

Also, if we consider any business or project, there is always the element of a mission statement to guide the enterprise towards its goals.  Discovering a purpose for your journey is no different.

I found that during my darkest moments out on the road, when I'm aligning my mind and heart towards my purpose, the road lights up and I regain a sense of direction.  Some days I'll ask myself why I'm out here at all, mulling for hours or even days in despair.  But I spent many months carving out my intention for the walk, so eventually I lead myself back.

Your purpose can be anything.  You could be walking for a cause, such as cancer, homelessness, education, or in memory of a loved one.  Mildred Norman, better known as the Peace Pilgrim, walked for 28 years and crossed the United States seven times for world and inner peace.  John Francis walked for 17 years in silence for the sake of environmentalism.

Or you could walk for the fun of it.  It's truly up to you to decide, and discover your purpose.

There are a number of ways to discover one's purpose, anything from embarking on a multi-day vision quest to taking on a meditation retreat.  One particular method I've really liked, and adapted it to discovering my purpose for this walk, is outlined on Steve Pavlina's Personal Development blog.  It takes about half an hour, but the method is rather powerful.  You can find it here.

My Purpose:

I am walking the miles that my father couldn't, to keep his watch wound everyday in his honor.
<p>43 yr old woman is looking for someone to help share expenses and maybe look out for each other during the trip. (Lots of freaks out there, ladies. Be careful!) Wanted to leave Nov but that is not going to happen unfortunately and it's possible to leave mid March or else I'll have to just wait again til Oct 2017. Good luck everyone...may all your dreams come true! God bless~</p>
<p>Hi I have been researching how to walk across America and came across your interest for possible walking companions. My name is Deb and I have walked across Spain, France, and Italy, I'd love to talk further about your plans. Deb</p>
<p>Hi Deborah, Wow sounds like you have a ton of experience. This is going to be my first time.You can find me here if still interested. https://www.facebook.com/solina.marie</p>
<p>I'm not sure if anyone looks at this anymore, but I am planning on walking from upstate New York to anywhere in the far West Coast. The route isn't thoroughly thought through yet, but I am looking for a walking buddy of some sort. I am sick of feeling like I have accomplished nothing in my lifetime and am seeking any sense of fulfillment. You can email me at lukashughes13@gmail.com or facebook me at simply Lukas Hughes. My profile picture is of me at graduation. </p><p>Peace and Love</p>
<p>amazing info man i plan on taking a walk across montana soon and this guide will be extremely helpful! i plan to walk from my favorite place lincoln mt to my home town culbertson in memorie of my father and to honor my mother aswell its only about 400 miles but this guide hopefully provides me with the necessities to do so!</p>
Me and my fiancee plan to travel north from Daytona Beach, FL - Asheville, NC - San Diego, CA on Saturday September 3rd, 2016 we will have two dogs limited funds and backpacks. Anyone see us your welcome to join and appreciated for help.
<p>21 here from Northeast TN, going to South Florida then planning a bigger trip from east coast to west, would enjoy company and tips!</p>
<p>When do you leave? Because i have had the same idea ever since i was in the 10th grade. Now im in college and I still plan on going. I wanted to go from The ever glades of florida to the HoH national rainforest in washington</p>
Hey there! I don't know if you're planning on going still but I'm 20 from Central NJ wanting to head to the west coast, maybe if the journeys coincide we could meet up
<p>Have you left yet? I'm in Michigan right now and wanting to head to California where I'm from soon from the East Coastline. My name is Joceline btw =)</p>
<p>Hi - I just sent you a message on fb. I am a 36 year old woman, also originally from MI, wanting to do a west coast to east coast ASAP!</p>
<p>Cool! I'm starting a walk from Indiana to NC to touch the coast and then I'll walk back to the West Coast =)</p>
<p>hey man, i'm also 20 from central-ish nj and am taking the american discovery trail this summer</p><p>http://www.discoverytrail.org/</p>
<p>Have you left yet? I'm in Michigan and ready to walk to California. I'm Joceline btw =)</p>
<p>Joceline - sent you a message on FB .... lets go!!!!! sooner the better!</p>
<p>hey man, 21 from north bergen. looking to walk to the west coast starting soon before august 1st. if you haven't left yet, would love to walk together. lmk!!</p>
<p>hi me and my friend are planning to leave for california from ny any where from august to october. if you havnt left yet we could meet up some where</p>
<p>Hey!! I'm in Florida and looking for company for a big trip- if you're not here yet/still here and would like some company please message @ripmainblog on tumblr. :)</p>
<p>I am looking for someone to join me on my epic adventure. I am wanting to walk west coast to east coast as soon as possible. I need to find myself, I am terrified to do this alone .... anyone up for the adventure of a lifetime?</p><p>lostgyrl@silentlyscreamining.com</p>
I live in the midwest and I need to figure out how I can get to East Coast and start somewhere so I can get to the west coast that's why I was scared to and how much money you need but otherwise that's it all planned out then
<p>are you set on your route? would you be willing to do west coast to east coast?</p>
We an do it together
I'm in when are you planning to leave? I have a trip planned for next year if you want to join I also live in the midwest
<p>I have just spent the last few hours reading this entire article, and i must say its amazing and inspires me! I am a fellow wanderer and nomad, all though i have been some what stationed/stuck in my current location south Mississippi for around 3 years now and im about ready to up and pack my bags, gear, and bike! Im gonna try and take a journey all across the US! Like you i have lost my father some years ago, he was a traveler of sorts been to more places then me, he was a trucker for over 35 years. He and other reasons are my inspirations plus im doing it for myself. Thank you for sharing your incredible adventure!</p>
<p>sent you a message on fb</p>
I'm 49, will turn 50 this year, and my life is utterly blah. I'm going to walk across the country to try to raise a few dollars for breast cancer research. My cousin, who is more like a little sister to me, was diagnosed when she was about 33, had all the chemo and radiation, and went into remission. A few years ago, the cancer returned. This time she did a double mastectomy - I think her comment was &quot;I'm not going to let my boobs kill me.&quot; I've got nothing going on in my life, so I thought I'd try to raise some money, even if it's just a few bucks, for breast cancer research. I figured that this stunt would be odd enough to get my acquaintances to donate something.
<p>did you go? are you still interested?</p>
I'm super scared I'm already but what should i do should I go for it
<p>lets go!</p>
I'm 3, live in Philadelphia and would love to walk across the country to San Francisco California. I lost my marriage and would do the walk in the memory of the love that I carry for this girl. Would any one join for this amazing journey?
I'm a 37 years old guy and looking for a walking companion.
<p>I am in the same situation, I am wanting to go west to east .... ASAP, any interest?</p>
I am 39 female and not in the best shape. I have depression and am becoming anti-social. I have always wanted to do this to see the world a different way/ slowly.my family all but my husband are for it. I'm a little scared but am buying small items, ie...stroller back pack, food for camping when it's on sale. I've been planning this for about 2 yrs. I plan to get closer to God by finishing the bible. And getting to know my limitations. I know I have rescue if needed. But I hope to make it when I start out. Signed scared but determined
<p>did you do this or are you still? I have the fun trifecta of ocd/anxiety and depression. i am ready to walk/jog/crawl .... whatever it takes from west to east coast asap ... I am a 36 year old woman.</p>
Hi, where are you at regarding your plan for this journey?
I'm 40 and planning to do the same. Maybe our paths will cross.
<p>So, did you leave yet? I am also planning a cross country trip and I am leaving Oct. 7th, two days from now. Please check my site......Hawk's Walk across the USA..........it's on Facebook. Which route will you be taking? Take Care, Jim</p>
<p>So, did you leave yet? I'm not planning a cross country trip, but I am curious to know how it went for you. I didn't find anything about Hawk's Walk...</p>
Ive made it no where in my life thus far. I want to find a walking mate. Im heading west i live in illinois. I need to do this to prove i can do something.
If anyone is interested email me at w1nged1@outlook.com<br>
<p>I just sent you an email.</p>
<p>I am 43 years old. Lost my mom a few yrs back and things haven't been so great at home. I need to get out in nature and breathe in some good clean fresh air. Get closer to God. It may sound crazy but I do think this walk will help. I'd like to go from Charleston, S.C. to Seattle, Wa in December. In mid Sept I'm thinking of a shorter walk from Charleston to Jacksonville, Fl. Anyone interested please contact me.</p>
<p>Hi</p><p>I am doing an west coast to east coast walk ...soon, if your interested.</p>
<p>Hello Everyone! I am a 26 year old male and plan on departing from Las Vegas to colorado and then hopefully to florida it will just be me and my 16 month old dobie.So anyone looking to link up and share paths for a while feel free to email me at Palacio@yahoo.com this is my first time ever doing this so I will be learning as i go :) One step at a time but I will get there! much peace and love to anyone in need !</p>
Im a 42 yr old guy wanting to walk from arkansas to washington state...anybody wanna go just me and my dog...
<p>I'm wanting to leave in Nov. When are you leaving?</p>
<p>When are you leaving?</p>
In 3 years i will be traviling from the beaches in virginia to sunny L.A . We must wait for military obligations to be done with, but none the less the time will give us more preparations. None the less i was wondering if any one has any advice before a first timmer goes.
<p>Hey guys! So cool to see so many people interested in adventures! I am 27, and planning to walk from Orlando FL, to New York. Though I am planning this for many personal reasons. This will also be a documentary blog about America. Specifically focused on homelessness, and different types of adversity within a wide span of communities. Diversity is key. Everyone has their own struggles, whether it be a regular 9-5 blue collar, or struggling homeless man/woman, I want to tell their story, and give people a different perspective on life they otherwise would not be able to experience. Throughout my (or our) journey, I (we) will be interviewing many people, asking about their lives, how they got where they are, and what they learned throughout their journeys as well. Sort-of a way to get their story out there, or in the least, vent. Most of the trip will be a mix between camping, and walking. Lots, and lots, and LOTS of walking, lol, and will take anywhere from 18, to 28 days. But that is part of the adventure. If you think you'd be interested in walking with me, you can contact me through my Email: jonimerks@gmail.com, or just send me a pm here through *Instructables. Happy adventuring! ;)</p>
<p>I am walking from Spring/Houston Texas to head up toward Colorado then over to Oregon</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: I recently graduated with a BS in Chemistry and am currently pursuing a masters in Chemistry at University of California, Irvine. After returning from an ... More »
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