A bold character is required to travel all the way to Alaska and back to the Sunshine State. This is the story of two Floridians who decided to go on a long trip, and we aren't just talking for two weeks. Steven and Lauren Keys are a young couple and UF alumni that decided to take the Van Life to another level, visiting 61 US National Parks over the period of 7 months this year.
The couple explored the wonders of each destination while sleeping on the back of their Nissan NV200. Since college, Steven and Lauren have been saving more than 50% of their income in order to fulfill a life of adventure and passion.
Their blog, Trip of a Lifestyle provides tips on money, saving strategies, gear and other travel suggestions for those who want to travel on a budget.
Steven and Lauren managed to make money on the road while exploring the national parks. The simple lifestyle approach helped them save "$15,000 on lodging costs over the course of the trip."
So what does it take to travel all across the US? A mindful saving practice and conscious spending habits. "We’ve always been conscious of our spending, and we’ve been able to save more than half our incomes, even at times when we were only bringing in public school teacher-level salaries," Lauren confesses.
As a former school teacher and now working in physics for a local tutoring company, Steven has been able to save money to help finance the trips, while Lauren also brings extra income with her freelance marketing gig
In addition, Lauren and Steven offer photography services and fine art from their previous trips to Hawaii and US National Parks for extra income.
Not only have they managed to create lifelong memories and the ultimate honeymoon experience in Hawaii but also they have built their own entrepreneurial journey.
As millennials, they knew material sacrifices had to be made in order to complete this road trip. Without zero experience in cold weather, these Florida natives managed to complete the trip in 7 months.
According to Lauren and Steven, Yosemite, Death Valley, and Hawai’i Volcanoes have been one of their favorite national parks to visit.
"Our favorite National Park in Florida was Dry Tortugas off the coast of Key West. Honestly, Florida has the best parks on the East Coast (and we’re not just saying that as residents!)", says Lauren.
Every road trip requires essentials to keep life together such as "baby wipes, paper towels, a reusable water bottle, almonds, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and a flashlight. For Lauren, dry shampoo was essential."
But from the 61 U.S. National Parks they visited, there is one, in particular, they would leave out of the list, "Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas was, for us, the least impressive of the parkland in the US. It has a lot of historical value, but it doesn’t make your jaw drop like when you come through the tunnel at Yosemite and see the valley, flanked by waterfalls, open up before your eyes."
From virescent forests to unbeatable views, The Keys have completed the goal of a lifetime. Currently, they reside in Gainesville in a small community while planning their next world adventure. We are guessing it will be overseas.