Picture of How To Walk Across America

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.
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Lisserkb116 days ago
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

How much money did it take you to do this? Did you get sponsorships? I want to do walk a cross America with my . How much money will we need?

pmouser6 months ago

how did you live unconnected (without internet) for months?

BlackmanW7 months ago

dear bryan

i'm in the beginning stages of planning my first coast to coast walk and would like some of your imput on the following questions. i'll continue reading your guide - perhaps the answers are there but in the meantime:

what type of cart did you use?

what were the pros and cons of it?

do you have other cart recommendations

My friend,

I am planning a long backpacking trip through our country, the United States. I have been studying, budgeting and learning for half a year, and am now beginning the process of mapping my way and getting a somewhat good idea of the parts I will walk through. The first issue I will have to tackle is walking out of the desert. I see you got both in, and out, of Arizona alive. The first thing I need to learn is how to walk out of the Arizona desert, where I reside. Could you give me detailed accounts and useful tips for walking through the desert? I would greatly appreciate it. Congratulations on your endeavor, I can't wait for my walk.

Wow that's a long journey!
LordWormSkull9 months ago
Harder not either, and help not hell xD
LordWormSkull9 months ago
I read your entire article maybe a dozen times. I don't know why, but it speaks to me. I'm leaving mid December to start back packing across the country for love and to find some inner piece I've been wanting. I have questions, and I can't find answers, but I'm glad you posted this. My trip will be either than yours, but maybe I can find Hell on the way. Get back with me sometime! maniac5123@yahoo.com

I have wanted to walk across the country for some time now. You have given me some ideas on how I would go about doing it, but I have one thing that is stopping me from accomplishing my goal, and that is my dog. If I make the trip with her, I have to plan for her as well, which makes the trip at least twice as difficult.

Ezava21 year ago
sorry about rockwell
Thanks for sharing.I read every bit your instructional. Im leaving from ocean city maryland in march expecting to reach san francisco by october. I may have some more questions for you over the next few months but i thought id reach out now. Thanks
I live in Warsaw, Poland and currently I'm trying to translate your instructable. One day I want to walk across U.S. too. :)
Best wishes
Well thanks Bud for sharing all this with us. I have been trying to find out about walking from East to West of the USA. I am from England. I guess originally I wanted to walk around the globe. The idea came to me after I had done the Camino to Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain. Something triggered inside of me as if it's the first time in my life I have found what I really want to do. I more I walked the more I was in touch with my real feelings. So walking across the USA would be the experience of my life and then we will see what the future holds. Your story is touching.
bryanquocle (author)  Rizan Boocay2 years ago
I had a friend who walked the Camino to Santiago de Compostela - it was an inspiration for my walk to some extent. My hope is that you get a chance to come across the pond and continue on. Best of luck to you, friend.
You rock! Thanks for sharing the wonderful story and all the great info--I'll be using a lot of it.
3366carlos2 years ago
good job! i wouldn't even drive across country let alone walk or bike.
Go denmarrk
dylance922 years ago
Curious about the cart. Do they actual sell carts like this? I'm not very crafty would I be able to find one at a camping store or somewhere else?
bryanquocle (author)  dylance922 years ago
What we used was a run-about brand stroller, and took away all the seats and miscellaneous extras that we didn't need.

You can find the one we used here:


They're a bit pricey, and we bought ours used on eBay for about $100. Try to shop around to see if you can get a good price - you may even get one donated if you let them know you'll be journeying with it.
I enjoyed reading this story, and was so sad to learn that Rockwall had died... Thank you for sharing your story, and for reminding us of the gift of feeling love and gratitude.
A good meal for training is rice and eggs.
2 1/2 cups steamed rice
2 eggs
some butter
a splash of soysauce
a wooden spoon

fry the rice with the butter
mix the eggs with the soysauce
put the rice in a bowl
fry the eggs
then when the eggs are almost done throw in the rice
mix and put the rice and eggs in the bowl and enjoy.
perfect it as you cook it each day.
I like to put in a small amount of rice viniger in the rice while it cooks.
Zovits3 years ago
Given their weight, cost and power consumption, I'd think twice before bringing laptops and smartphones to this kind of journey. A cheaper, older phone (think along the lines of Nokia 3310 or a bit more advanced) can go for a week without charging, survives nearly everything that could happen, and still can be used to make emergency calls or get vital information from the net.
thejonbolie3 years ago
Hey, This is something I've been contemplating doing for a while, and just have a few questions. 1) How do you find a place to sleep every night? Do you run into any legal problems sleeping on the side of the road or other places? 2) How much water do you bring at one time, and how do you keep up a steady supply of it? And lastly, a weird question, but for travelling across the country it seems kind of important - on long stretches where there really arent' any towns, or it's night time and nothing's open - what about restrooms? haha. if you can answer any of these it'd be a huge help.... :) Thanks for the instructable, awesome information, and inspiring!
mikeybo23 years ago
After me and my best friend graduate High school and before we enlist we plan on making our walking into a charity for war veterans.
jssussex3 years ago
I'm 60 and at a cross roads in my life. Your description was very enlightening and gave me the encouragement to continue moving forward with a new career. Thanks for the instructable.
bryanquocle (author) 3 years ago
Thank you all for your generous comments, advice, and emails. I'm a bit overwhelmed by the amount of viewership going on (considering that this is my second Instructable ever), but I'm learning to adapt with intermittent internet access.

Made it to New Mexico; hanging out at university in Silver City. Since I've got some proper communication equipment, I'd like to share a few more photos from the road with ya'll.

Beyond Mile 130.jpgField of Flowers.jpgMountain Side.jpgRIP.jpgRiver.jpgRolling Grasslands.jpgSpring Blossoms.jpgSunset Mountain.jpg
Me, being a swede and just barely entering adulthood with all it's cons and pros... Well, this inspired me to make a similar journey.
After some years of studying and working I will walk the frozen north. After that, if the world will allow it, I would love to walk America!
First of, absolutely love this Instructable so far.
And for the question; i own a duster and a cowboy hat. Would this suffice for a cross country journey with some warm clothes under the duster itself?
voyageur103 years ago
Keep it up brother! Life is way too short to not follow your dreams.
cabella3 years ago
After a bicycle tour I learned to swear by chocolate milk. It has all the necessary ingredients for such an endevour: fats, complex and simple carbs, and even some protein. You can find some even fortified with potassium which is good to keep those muscles from cramping up.

This has really made me jones for the road again. Keep on treking.
I second the chocolate milk recommendation! It is a quick way to replace 1000 calories and it can pack quite a bit of protein as well.
abaneyone3 years ago
Your walk is giving you and education that you'll not get with a masters degree. Money can't buy that kind of education. God be with you!
I admire your openness and spirit of inquiry. This piece has been on my mind for a few days. If you are motivated, write a book! I'd read it. Doesn't need to have any overarching 'message'.
'In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few'. (Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind).
Stay safe and keep your beginner's mind.
sterlingss3 years ago
Keep up the good work i am very interested altho i prefer Biking but costs would go way up for maint on the bike well here is a IDble i like

http://www.instructables.com/id/Backpacking-Cooler/ i found this and RobbySkateboard said Wouldn't it be nice if you could go backpacking for a week and be able to have an ice cold soda on that last day? Or to keep sausage and eggs cold for longer? Well for the total cost of less than 10 bucks you can! This is a cheap and effective DIY. The whole thing weighs barely anything even with 3 ice packs, you'll definitely be carrying more weight from the food you'll be keeping cold rather than the cooler and cooling packs themselves. This project will take you an hour or so and the payoff would still be worth it even if it took 10 hours.
Nayler3 years ago
Truly Wonderful.
Really enjoyed reading this,
Thank you for producing something so inspirational.
I wish you good luck for the rest of your journey.
olmon3 years ago
Sounds like a ball ! ! I've often thought about doing a walk about. It runs in my family. Both of my grandfathers were noted for going walk about. One of them went for a walk & wasn't seen again for 18 years. Of course, he was declared legally dead in the meantime & everyone was really surprised when he showed up again. The other one would only be gone for 2 or 3 months at a time.
Have a great trek. You'll have stories to tell for the rest of your life - - -
mamalaoshi3 years ago
I really enjoyed reading about your experience so far and look forward to hearing more about your continuing adventure. Your instructable was very informative. It's dangerous in my town to try to walk to the store a mile away (no sidewalks, no shoulders and the drivers are crazy) so reading this made me long for the days when I didn't have a car and I walked everywhere in the towns I lived in. There is something about walking with a purpose that makes me feel peaceful and more aware of my surroundings.
gregpphoto3 years ago
Oh and I just wanted to add that when you say a backpack can cause stress on the back and shoulders, perhaps this is because it was fitted, worn and/or packed improperly. The hipbelt of a pack, when worn and fitted correctly, transfers almost all of the weight to your legs, so if anything a backpack might cause stress on your hips, knees, and/or ankles, but not your back or shoulders. By loading the pack with the heaviest items close to the body and between the shoulder blades, this creates a stable load where the shoulder straps are there merely for balance. The hip belt does all the work. Makes for some diesel quads and calves!
bryanquocle (author)  gregpphoto3 years ago
Ah, that must have been it then. As I'm looking forward, I'm finding that I would much rather prefer a lbackpack over a cart, especially once I get out of desert country. Like I say, much of the weight is in water for these week-long treks through the sand.

And yes, I thought about the odds of meeting another man on the road. Not to mention he was just about done with his trek, whereas I had just started.
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