After visiting sixteen states with his family this year, this man says these myths about the U.S. shouldn’t keep you living in fear.
The United States is a scary, violent place. Better stay home and keep your doors locked.
If you watch the news, you could be fooled into believing that the United States is a dangerous place full of nothing but crime, violence and terrible people. But that’s not the whole story.
I should know. I’ve visited sixteen states with my family this year alone and we have another seventeen to go until we return home in November.
Three months ago, my wife and our one-year-old daughter hit the road. We sold almost everything we own, bought a travel trailer and haven’t looked back.
It’s been a life-changing experience. Here are three myths about the USA that our journeys have shown us aren’t entirely true.
1. We haven’t been kicked out or “ran off”.
We started on our road trip staying only at RV parks. But when that got too expensive (and honestly, boring) we started staying with other “RV people” who we met through BoondockersWelcome.com (A website that’s kind of like couch surfers for folks traveling in RVs and travel trailers.)
After we had realized just how doable living off the grid was in a travel trailer, we decided to get a little adventurous.
I’ll never forget the first time we just pulled into a random neighborhood for the night. It was incredible!
We found a nice, level street with plenty of room and posted up for the night. The first time we did this I was pretty nervous. (Did I mention my wife and our one-year-old daughter are with me?)
I was worried about someone attacking us or trying to steal our propane tanks. I was also worried the COPS would knock on the door at 3 AM and ask us to leave.
Neither of those things happened.
We’ve “stealth-camped” four times now and plan on doing it a lot more. People do this all the time all over the country, every single night without any problems.
The idea that someone is watching you and you aren’t welcome just isn’t true. The USA is a very safe place and as long as you aren’t causing any trouble yourself, you are likely not to be bothered.
2. We haven’t been robbed.
Quite the opposite. We’ve been taken in and taken care of by friends, family members, and near strangers. In California, we stayed on my aunt’s property for a week.
In Portland, we parked our trailer on the driveway of a person we had only emailed back and forth with a few times. Corky (yes, real name) even took us out to dinner one night and insisted on paying.
In Seattle, we parked our trailer in the front drive of a couple we again had only just emailed a few days before. This time we were treated to am amazing home cooked meal and they also took us sailing! Yeah! They took us sailing, like on a real sailboat.
We’ve been fed more times while on the road than we ever had living our traditional lives back home. And we’ve been offered to take things with us dozens of times too, mostly toys for our daughter. We turn down almost all of these offers because we don’t have the room and have more than we need.
So far, everyone we have come across as been extremely kind and generous to us. The United States is full of good people.
3. We haven’t come across dangerous criminals.
Quite the opposite. In fact, we’ve made dozens of new friends. This crazy road trip we are on is doubling as a book tour.
Running a business that is mostly only on the Internet means that I know a whole lot of people only online.
We’ve been able to meet dozens of people in person who we only previously knew online. We’ve met dozens of total strangers who quickly turned into friends. The USA is full of good people, millions of them.
The truth is, most of us will be the victim of a crime of some kind during our lifetime. And as unfortunate as that may be, it’s the exception, not the rule.
The idea that the USA is full of criminals who are just waiting to rob you is just not true. Most people are honest and hardworking.
We’ve seen some incredible places and we’ve had great interactions with all kinds of people. My comfort zone has been expanded more in the past three months that it had been in the past decade.
Our world-view has been expanded. Our comfort zones have been blown away. We’ve grown as individuals and as a family. The United States is an amazing place.
Get out there and experience it!
Photo: Flickr/ Trey Ratcliff