Richelle Smith

I quit my job, packed my car and left!

Author: Richelle Smith


I lived a normal life just like most people in the world. I commuted to work, got stuck in traffic, had the “same shit, different day” feel, and worked the 8-4 Monday through Friday job. I also hated it! I felt stuck, angry, depressed, had anxiety and was filled with boredom. So I left!

Richell Smith
Hello Mountains!!!

I wasn’t an asshole about it. Instead of putting in my two weeks, I put in my six week notice. Even though I quit my job and left, I still did planning. I actually planned for six months. I needed money to do what I wanted to do.

I left May 30th, 2016 and drove! Drove across country. I am from the East Coast so it only makes sense I wanted to see the WEST!!!!! I went through 9 states (only counting states that I actually spent time in,) plus one country (Canada.) Went to 23 National Parks, 8 National Forests and 13 State Parks.

I did not have all of these counted before I left. I had a general plan and went with it. I basically did one gigantic loop around the West. Starting in Colorado, I went around Colorado, down through Southern Utah and Nevada, up the Coast of California but zig-zaged so I could also see all the National Parks on the East side of the state, Yosemite, Sequoia, etc. Went up the Coast of Oregon and Washington but also did the same thing where I could see the National Parks on the East side of the states (Crater Lake, North Cascades.) Went up to Canada and saw the Canadian Rockies. Then went down to Montana (Glacier National Park), Wyoming (Yellowstone), got smoked out by a forest fire, and then headed home through South Dakota. Then drove all the way back to Buffalo, my hometown.

As far as money went, I did not spend much at all. In three months, I got back at the end of August, I spent $5,000 and that’s including all of my bills. I still had my car payment, car insurance, student loans, etc. coming out of my bank account every single month.


How I did it: 

I lived out my car! I did not spend one dollar on sleeping accommodations. I am not going to say it was the most comfortable sleep I ever had. But I didn’t mind. Money was something that I didn’t want to spend any more than I had to, so it worked for me. And I didn’t have a big car either. I did this with a little Chevy Cruise!

What I did to make it more comfortable: 

My grandmother and I (she helped me a lot,) cut out memory foam to match the backseat of my car. It helped a lot so I didn’t have to feel my seat belts going into my back, and make the back seat more squishier!

And with a small car came very little space. I just brought the essentials. Clothes, maps, money, cooking supplies, food and hiking/backpacking equipment.


I ate just like I would in my home town, so as far as food went, for the most part, I would have spent that money anyway as if I was home.

What I did: 

I brought my pocket rocket (the best mini ultralight backpacking stove I ever had.) I had my stove, gas cans, a pot, a pan, a lighter and wala! Meals on the go.

I shopped at all the local grocery stores every week, just like any other normal person would and ate right out of the trunk of my car. It worked! I literally had the stove going right in my trunk. So I would just be standing up cooking right out of my car. It was safe. I felt around the flame to make sure nothing else would heat up. Did it for three months and never had a problem.

Where I slept: 

At the beginning of the trip, it was very hard for me to pick places to sleep. I did the cliche thing and did what everyone told me to do, Walmart parking lots!

I hated it! I did it for one night and never again!!!! Who is lurking around Walmart parking lots at three in the morning? Mostly weirdos and people I wouldn’t want to trust.

New Plan!

I used apartment complex’s. People live in these apartment buildings so these are mostly safe. It was my go to if I was in a town. I tried to stay away from cities. Most crime happens there. I also used trail-heads if I was in the middle of no where. Pick trail-heads that have backpacking because these trail heads other peoples cars will be there, so you won’t be sticking out like a sore thumb.

Richelle Smith
Kayaking with Orcas on this day

I don’t have money to travel: 

Most people think you need money to travel. You do, but you don’t need much. I spent less traveling that I would at home. At home I felt like I needed to buy things to make me happy, so I spent all my money on… I don’t even know where it went. It was just gone. I did not have a penny saved up and I lived pay check to pay check. Then………

I put traveling as my number one priority. Literally cut down on everything. I started only buying things that I needed. I switched my car insurance to a different company because it saved me money. Literally cut down everything I did not need. Netflix-goodbye. Gym membership-goodbye. And then all of the sudden, I started seeing my bank account go up? Do I really need this old TV I don’t use? Sell it!

It’s amazing what you see in your bank account when you put traveling as your number one priority. And I didn’t make any more money at my job. I made the same amount of money and was able to save more money than I could imagine!

And with that, I took the trip of a life-time! There are literally jobs everywhere!!!!! Right now, I just get back from my trip, and I am jobless, but I am very confident I will find another one, if not better! After a trip like this, you value your life a lot more and push yourself to do something even more amazing! Hell, I started my own business.

I don’t know if I’ll make money but whatever. It’s my own business. And I’m only bettering myself with it. My advice:

Live your dream! You only have one life. And it’s not much of a life if you do the same thing every day, year after year.

Step out of your comfort zone! You won’t regret it.

Richelle Smith
So beautiful! Head to North Cascades National Park, it’s so amazing!

Everywhere I went to: 

National Parks: in order I visited

  • Great Sand Dunes
  • Mesa Verde
  • Arches
  • Bryce
  • Death Valley
  • Sequoia
  • Channel Islands
  • Yosemite
  • Kings Canyon
  • Lassen Volcanic
  • Crater Lake
  • Olympic
  • North Cascades
  • San Juan
  • Kootenay (Canada)
  • Banff (Canada)
  • Jasper (Canada)
  • Yoho (Canada)
  • Waterton (Canada)
  • Glacier
  • Yellowstone
  • Badlands

National Forests: (in order I visited)

  • Maroon Bells
  • Sequoia
  • White River
  • Gifford Pinchot
  • Siuslaw
  • Mount Baker
  • Snoqualme
  • Okanogan-Wenatchee

State Parks: (in order I visited)

  • Valley of Fire
  • Point Mugu
  • Pfeiffer
  • Julia Pfeiffer
  • Andrew Molera
  • Garrapata
  • Point Lobos
  • Natural Bridge
  • Cape Lookout
  • Oswald
  • Moran
  • Lime Kiln Point
  • Obstruction

States: (in order)

  • Colorado
  • Utah
  • Nevada
  • California
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • Canada
  • Montana
  • Wyoming
  • South Dakota
Richelle Smith
Hiking on an abandoned railroad bridge is always fun!

Thank you so much for reading and I really hope you enjoyed this article and will take a trip for yourself!



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