In case you’re late to the party, I decided back in May 2021 that I would become voluntarily homeless and go on a road trip to travel the country. Since then, I’ve visited Long Beach, California; Lake Las Vegas, Nevada; St. George, Utah; Salt Lake City, Utah; Rawlins, Wyoming; Denver, Colorado; Wichita, Kansas; Kansas City, Kansas/Missouri; and Springfield, Illinois. You can filter my blog to just show travel posts by using the “Travel” category.
At the time that I decided to start this journey, I left things very open-ended. I knew that my first destination was going to be my parents’ house in the Chicagoland suburbs, but I wasn’t sure what I was going to do after that—whether I would continue east, or just drive straight back home to Las Vegas and sign a new lease. Well, after almost three months of being homeless, I have decided that I want to continue my journey and extend my adventure for as long as possible.
Of course, this wouldn’t be an Adam Parkzer blog post without a breakdown and some in-depth analysis, so here are the things that I like and dislike so far about being a nomad.
Things I like:
I feel an even stronger sense of freedom than I did before.
With my job being remote (even prior to the pandemic) and having flexible scheduling with no set working hours, I already had a lot of freedom when it came to what I wanted to do with my life. But, now that I’m literally roaming the country and never staying in one location for more than a week at a time (except for visiting my parents for a month), I feel an elevated sense of freedom. I hate feeling constrained or confined, so this is probably the happiest I’ve been in a while.
Previously, even though I’ve been able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, there wasn’t actually really that much that I wanted to do, so I would mostly just stay indoors and work. However, now that I’m surrounded by so many new things, there are a lot of things that I do actually want to do… and it is liberating knowing that I can just go and do them if I feel like it. I’ve already been very thankful of my current working arrangement, but traveling like this makes me double down on the appreciation.
Similarly, if I want to work, I know that I can get uninterrupted work done whenever I want to. I pass on daily housekeeping and keep the “do not disturb” indicator on my door at all times, so that means nobody ever bothers me in my hotel room.
The fact that I no longer have to pay rent in an unoccupied apartment or condo during travel is very satisfying to the efficiency part of my brain.
One thing I hated about traveling in the past is that I would be paying rent in an apartment or condo that would remain vacant while I was gone. The worst part is that I actually traveled quite a bit for work, so sometimes, I would only actually be at home half the time, yet I would still be paying full price in rent.
Now that I am no longer committed to a lease agreement, I am happy to fly to Las Vegas, Southern California, or any other location for work and spend as long as I need to in those areas. The only additional expense would be parking my pickup truck at the airport of whatever city I happen to be in at the time, but the magic of living out of hotel rooms is that I don’t have to continue paying for hotel rooms if I’m at the company team house (or, if I do pay for hotel rooms for work at those work-related locations, those are reimbursable, while my rent would not have been).
I’m learning a lot.
Traveling and exploring new areas obviously exposes me to many new experiences that let me learn about how other areas of the country live. But, there’s another aspect to this as well—by traveling through smaller “middle of nowhere” towns, I am learning a lot more about different cultures.
When you get very deep in your own world, it’s sometimes easy to lose touch with the rest of reality. This is especially true in the Internet industry because of how unique the Internet ecosystem is.
This is also especially true in the video gaming and entertainment industry, which is heavily centralized around the Greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. People in big cities mind their own business and generally don’t care about other people. It’s normal for you to walk past thousands of people on a daily basis and never talk with any of them.
I first noticed the stark difference between big city culture and small town culture when I made a trip to Oklahoma City and everyone seemed interested to talk with me. I saw this was also the case in other smaller towns throughout my road trip. It definitely gave me a different perspective about the social aspect of human life, and how there is some merit to talking with random people on the street for “no reason,” then uncovering something unexpected that you can learn from them.
Hotel life is actually pretty nice.
If you’re living out of hotel rooms and commit to a specific hospitality brand, it’s very easy to max out their loyalty program. My hotel chain of choice is the Marriott, and I am a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite member.
This comes with a wealth of perks and benefits. Based on availability, I automatically get upgraded to the best suite available, which is nice if I’m going to be living in one for a week at a time in each city. I get lounge access if one is available, which means I usually get free snacks, water, and other beverages. I get a welcome gift upon arriving at the hotel, which is usually just some extra loyalty points that I can redeem for future travel, but one hotel went as far as to give me a custom-baked cookie with my name on it. I also get guaranteed 4 PM late checkout, which is useful if I plan on leaving the hotel later in the afternoon or evening (as opposed to the normal check-out time, which is usually in the morning).
The hotel lifestyle is also nice even without the special elite perks. If I need help with anything, even if it’s not something hotel-related, someone is always available at the front desk to assist. All the hotels have fitness centers, so a workout is always just a short walk away. If I ever run out of stuff like shampoo, toilet paper, or other bath amenities, I can call the front desk and someone will bring some for me to my door.
Marriott also does a great job with housekeeping, so my rooms have always been clean upon arrival (except for the one hotel I stayed at in St. George, which had an air conditioning unit that smelled like moldy sneakers). In a similar vein, I personally never have to clean anything; I tidy up my room prior to departure to help out the maids a bit, but apart from that, the staff handle all the cleaning, so I never have to wipe another toilet for as long as I am living in hotels.
I have something to blog about.
This one is a little silly, but this nomad lifestyle gives me something to blog about. I enjoy blogging and writing in general, but sometimes, I just don’t really know what to write about; always being exposed to something new makes it much easier for me to continue doing what I enjoy.
I like driving my truck.
This one is also a little bit silly, but I actually enjoy driving my pickup truck around to places. I still think the modern-day mid-size pickup truck is the perfect size for a dynamic person who needs versatility and capability. It is narrow enough that it can easily navigate through dense cities, it is high up enough that I get a good view of the road, and it has enough cargo space that I can carry all my essential belongings in the back seats and bed.
I appreciated the fact that I had a pickup truck when I was driving through the Rocky Mountain states with a lot of elevation change. Even though my truck has a V6 engine instead of a V8, it is still plenty of power to blast up mountain roads. I especially appreciated the fact that I had a pickup truck when I was in Wyoming, where half the roads seemed to either be unpaved, or damaged so badly by weather that they might as well have been unpaved.
To put things simply, it is very satisfying and liberating to know I can conquer pretty much any road situation I encounter.
Things I dislike:
The Internet can sometimes be unreliable.
Marriott has been doing a great job with improving Internet connectivity in their properties. Surprisingly, about half of my hotel rooms had working Ethernet ports so I could plug my computer directly to a wired Internet connection. The Element Overland Park had the best Internet speed out of all the hotels I stayed at, with speeds reaching nearly parallel gigabit.
However, there are still some hotels where the connection isn’t really the best. Especially with wireless, my connection can drop easily from stuff like if someone is using a microwave in a neighboring room, or if there is too much metal in the way and the wireless signal doesn’t reach my room well.
It doesn’t really make too much of a difference if I’m just browsing or watching buffered videos, but it can get annoying if I’m constantly editing a spreadsheet on the cloud for work, or if I’m trying to play a game. In these situations, I end up plugging my phone into my computer and using a USB tethered 4G LTE connection.
It can get annoying unpacking and packing all my belongings every week.
One of the things I mentioned before I started traveling was that I did not want this to affect the quality of my work at all. Being the head of corporate operations at Tempo, a lot of work I do involves large electronic documents and spreadsheets that aren’t the best to work on using a small laptop screen. Thus, I have been traveling with my desktop computer with two full-size monitors and setting up my entire workstation at every single hotel that I’ve stayed at.
I’ve streamlined this process pretty well so it only takes about half an hour to move all my boxes into the hotel room and get everything set up now, but after doing it over and over and over again, it starts getting a little bit annoying.
If I’m in the East of the country, flying back to the West monthly for errands and work can still be tiring with long travel days.
Another aspect of making sure my road trip doesn’t affect my work is making sure that I’m still able to travel to the company headquarters in Southern California during my routine interval of around once a month. While I fly over to SoCal, I stop by Las Vegas as well to get a haircut, check my PO box, and do other errands.
Back in 2016, one of the reasons I moved from Illinois to California was because it was getting annoying flying back and forth so much to go to esports events for work. Travel is much more comfortable now and I don’t mind planes anymore, but it can still get sort of tiring having long travel days and going back and forth the country in transcontinental flights.
There has been a growing thought in my mind that I might suffer from lifestyle inflation.
When it’s finally time to settle down, get married, and have children, I’m hoping that I will look back on these travels and remember them fondly, as opposed to feeling stuck in my future situation and wanting to become a nomad again.
So, what’s next? My current plan is to head off to Indiana on September 1 and continue my journey east. I had previously been considering visiting some family members in the northeast, but with the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the new emerging variants, I figured I would travel on my own for now and potentially visit them later, seeing as many of them are older and classified as high-risk individuals.
After Indiana, I’m parking my truck at the airport and making another air trip to the West Coast for work purposes, then flying back to Indiana. Afterwards, I have a route planned out for driving through Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. This will land me in mid-October, at which point I will take yet again another flight to the West Coast for work, fly back, and continue my journey through Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana, the route of which is currently unplanned.