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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cdltpx3 years ago
I would modify that cart to have a skin on it add a couple solar cells and some batteries you would have lights and computer power. I would also add an alarm to it they make a bike alarm that will go off alerting a pager you carry. Look into hammocks they are light weight since you have this trailer you could carry an A frame this way you only need one solid spot to anchor to then you drive a couple stakes in the ground this way your camp could be set anywhere since you use a tarp to cover your hammock and cart. Some places you could probably add a sail to that cart and the wind from the semi trucks could very well propell you down the road. If you wanted to you could build a small frame to cover you as you walked for rainy days.
J-Ri3 years ago
One thing about the tent, never, never, NEVER keep food in your tent to keep it away from critters. They can smell it through the tent, and will try to get it if they want it enough. You don't want a bear or mountain lion coming in to get a snack. Even smaller animals like raccoons can mess you up pretty bad, and can carry diseases.

Use a rope to suspend your food from a tree, out of reach of most of the critters. If they do get it, not a big deal, better than them getting you!
gregpphoto3 years ago
You met someone else who just happened to be walking around the country as well? The odds of that make it a bit hard to swallow, but I'll buy into the Forrest Gump aspect of it. I'm a total believer in "Hike Your Own Hike" but in regards to the cart, damn son! Wouldn't it have been much more practical to carry an average of 20 or 30 pounds on your back, 40 pounds at the very most (including food and water)? I've hitch hiked and tramped a bit, albeit not yet on the scale of your journey, but to me, the most beautiful thing about living this lifestyle is the simplicity of only needing a few things, and relying on your creativity and a dash of luck to take care of the rest. Beyond the Ten Essentials (knife, compass, first aid kit, shelter, extra clothing, etc), not much else is needed for humans to make it out there. But hey, like I said, Hike Your Own Hike brother! Hopefully I'll see you out there one day (from the front seat of a car, I save my walking for the woods!).
Greetings from The Shire!

I find it amazing that someone might have started such a monumental task from here...

I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. You've definitely got my vote.
nbrown-13 years ago
Have you ever heard of Vibram Trex?

They're a kind of shoe that is basically a glove for your feet, only thick enough to keep their shape, but still let you feel the road under you.

Gives you extra grip and protection from the ground (like keeping you from getting burned on hot days, or cutting yourself on something unexpected), but avoids many of the issues with shoes.

Plus, completely waterproof.

You can probably get some in any of the cities you pass through, if that sounds like something you'd be interested in.
Everyone I know who has a pair swears by them. :)
sherab3 years ago
Rock on Bryan! I certainly hope you write as much as you can about this. My brother is Steven Newman, the Worldwalker (http://theworldwalker.com). He spent 4 years walking around the world and it was a spectacular journey. He wrote a great book called Worldwalk (used copies are cheap but I'm going to PM you and get u an autographed copy). I myself have been to just about as many countries as years I have been on the planet and have learned so much about the world and how great the people in it are. if only more people like you would get out there walk, explore, and spend the time to see the wonder there and get to know folks as you are doing, what a wonderful world it would be. So write, write, write! You have fans now.
bryanquocle (author)  sherab3 years ago
Thank you so much for you support, I am truly inspired to continue writing. I feel called to continue walking, perhaps sometime later in my life. Discovering the lives of the the world's inhabitants is a fascinating way to spend a lifetime.
Like the other posters, I ended up reading the whole narrative. You have a talent for storytelling and I look forward to reading your book if one comes out of this journey.

I love the Hunter S. Thompson quote at the top of step 17.

You will find Austin, TX has a more hippie/university district vibe than the rest of Texas. It is a good place. The hill country area is beautiful and I think you may end up traveling through during wildflower season.

Much of rural Texas is inhabited by the sort of rednecks that give rednecks a bad name, so be on your guard. I don't mean to offend any Texans reading this; there are probably more folks who would offer you some iced tea than who would deliberately run you over, but I've met my share of both here.
bryanquocle (author)  CatTrampoline3 years ago
Excellent to hear that Austin is as I imagine it to be. My hope is that I'll be lucky and spend more time sipping tea than eating asphalt as I trek through Texas to get there.
Klappstuhl3 years ago
What if your cart gets stolen? D:
bryanquocle (author)  Klappstuhl3 years ago
I build a new one :P
jarabito3 years ago
Amazing experience. In Argentina we call this kind of life "crotos" and love this thought...
Viva Che !
i found a baby cat during my walk around america and also encountered the ocean, I swam across using a raft i brought
onemoroni13 years ago
Good luck and God bless you in your travels. Thanks for sharing your experience. you have touched many lives.
This is without question the best 'ible I've read in a long time. You have a gift for writing; I am so grateful to you for sharing them with us! I wish you the best of journeys....
tqwerty3 years ago
This is an amazing story.
Very, very inspiring.
Thank you so much.
micbike3 years ago
I have been thiniking of doing this all of my life. I have been a walker since I was very young. I thank you very much for this, and I plan to read it and study it carefully. I plan to take a week long walk this spring in Nebraska (my home state) as a little experiment. Thanks again!
pixman553 years ago
on our small island called waiheke near auckland in new zealand we have two remarkable women who walked across america as part of a "peace" walk. one celebrated her 93rd birthday on sat 3rd of march.they were part of a big group and im not sure what year they did the walk.in nz a movie/doco was made called "kit and maynie,tea,scones,and nuclear disarmament" by susi newborn and claudia pond eyley. the doco was released in 2010
jolshefsky3 years ago
I loved hearing your stories so much that I almost forgot to mention my take on water storage!

I've attended Burning Man for a few years and you have to have your own water. I disliked a lot of the features of the 5-gallon collapsible containers: they are moderately easy to puncture, hold a large amount of one's water supply (so if one leaks, you lose a lot), are hard to dispense from, and heavy to move around. I went with 1/2-gallon containers, and settled specifically on Ocean Spray juice jugs as they are rectangular. They have none of the complaints for the collapsible containers, and I got them free by picking them up from recycle bins in the neighborhood.
mblack33 years ago
Excellent and inspirational. Want to try this some day.
Nannerman3 years ago
Have you ever considered writing a book about this? I thought this was pretty entertaining and informative. Looking back at how long that instructible was I can't beleive it held my attention for so long, but I enjoyed it and learned alot.
bryanquocle (author)  Nannerman3 years ago
I have! I haven't completed the full stretch across the country yet, but I would love to put together a nice piece when I return to school. Thank you for letting me know it was captivating; I was worried I had written too much :)
For me I think you could have written five times more and I would have been just as rivited.
I lost my Internet connection and went crazy trying to re-connect and find you a second time.
bryanquocle you have the gift of being able to captivate your reader, maybe your future lies in story telling....

5 Stars and Kudos
Metafire3 years ago
Wow, this is more than an instructable, it could be an entire book!

Great read, I hope to someday have an similar adventures of my own.
assassin8673 years ago
You know what, after reading this huge ible' I think that I'm going to do this as well, in time atleast, maybe in a couple years as I get older and am ready financial-wise. I can see that you enjoyed it despite all the troubles you had along the way, and that it really taught you a lot of valuable lessons in life. I think that i'd enjoy this as well, it really seems fun to me. Good luck with your journey.
Jayefuu3 years ago
Wow. This is comprehensive! Congrats on your journey!
There is a book that's been written, though I'm sure yours will have a different perspective, that I thought I should point you towards:


I received this as a gift many years ago and have longed to do the very same thing.

Good luck on your journey, and keep us informed as you progress....
Yes, I read that one about 20 years ago and really liked it. I am sure that a current experience would make a compelling read as well.
Cpt. Caleb3 years ago
very inspiring stuff, I've also heard from survivalists that singing or just talking can scare away predators so 2 thumbs up
WYE_Lance3 years ago
What an amazing piece of writing! Wonderful balance of practical advice from hard-earn experience and quite reflection on the subtleties of life. It is rare for me to read through each word of an entire Instructable, especially one of this magnitude, but you kept me spellbound. All in all this is a very comprehensive guide to walking across America. You definitely earned my vote in the Extreme challenge :) Safe travels!
Artlynk3 years ago
Have to agree with Nannerman, and all the others above - yes, I thought I;'d have a bit of a look, maybe learn some things, and just kept coming back to it, and read ALL of it..... and I am in Australia - so different from there anyway, but still held my interest all the way through.... and well written, and entertaining, and informative, all at once!.... enjoyable..... thanks
jongscx3 years ago
I was expecting it to be a "Left foot... right foot... " instructable, but I like it.

So much great information!
zomfibame3 years ago
Very very cool.
pfred23 years ago
You've had an amazing journey so far. What an experience. Thanks for taking the time to write about it. It sounds to me like you're accumulating riches you won't run out of for the rest of your life along the way.
katvanlew3 years ago
Well thought out, so very inspiring! Thanks for sharing your advice. Good luck and God speed!
Hoopajoo3 years ago
Truly inspiring! Thank you for sharing your resources, experiences and knowledge.
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