Skip to content

Traveling 48 States in 3 Weeks on a Budget: Jared Chandler’s Cross County Adventure

January 9, 2018

Jared Chandler found some unexpected time on his hands this summer so he set out to accomplish an amazing task, driving to every capital in the lower 48 states in just three weeks, on a limited budget and alone. Thomas Jefferson had said, “One travels more usefully alone, because he reflects more.” Perhaps that can be said for this cross country journey as well.

Jared Chandler drove to every capital in the lower 48 states in just three weeks, on a limited budget and alone. Photo by Rebekah Hurst

In a recent interview with Coffee County News, Jared, the son of Jeff and Stacy Chandler of Manchester, Tenn. and a senior petroleum engineering student at LSU, explains his reasoning and methods behind his successful adventure.

CCN: What inspired you to travel to each capital city of the lower 48 states?

Jared: For the summer, I originally had applied and planned on working in a wilderness lodge up in Alaska, but when those plans fell through I found myself with an open summer. I recall reading an article about a data scientist from the University of Pennsylvania who created the most efficient route through all lower 48 capitals. So without anything really better to do, I decided instead of trying to earn some money from a summer job, I’d do a pretty good job of spending the money I had already saved up on something that seemed quite amazing.

The Capitol is the home of the U.S. Congress—the House of Representatives and the Senate, located in Washington, D.C. Photo by Jared Chandler

CCN: Which article and author did you refer to for guidance?

Jared: Randal S. Olson’s blog entitled Planning the Road Trip: U.S. State Capitals. Not only did the article have good information but when he stated, “The goal is to visit the capitol buildings, not the city the buildings are located in (i.e., state capitals)…by going on this road trip we’re in for an epic journey and some beautiful architecture,” sounded interesting to me.

CCN: How did you plan for your journey? How long were you gone?

Jared: Planning for the trip wasn’t too difficult. The previous summer (2016) I worked in Yellowstone National Park, so I had plenty of experience living and dealing with less than optimal living conditions. I figured the total distance of the trip (~14,000 miles), and budgeted for the cost of gas. I also expected the trip to take approximately 3 weeks so I started purchasing nonperishable foods such as canned soups and granola along with a couple of containers of freeze dried chicken and rice to last me the duration of the trip. All said and done, I managed to complete the trip in 3 ½ weeks, barely overshooting my estimate.

The capital of Delaware is in Dover. Legislative Hall is a Georgian Revival colonial structure of handmade brick and it has an 18th century style interior. It was designed by Architect E. William Martin under the direction of the State Buildings and Grounds Commission created by Governor Buck in 1931. Photo by Jared Chandler

CCN: How much money did the trip cost?

Jared: Around $1,500.

CCN: What was your goal for your journey?

Jared: I suppose my goal for the trip was simply to see if I could complete the trip on my own. Of course, taking long road trips with other people helps take the burden of driving and costs from gas and such, but I wanted to see if I could really rely on myself to complete this journey alone.

CCN: Please share some of your favorite experiences?

Jared: Each of the cities had a unique and distinct feel to them whether it was a large bustling city or more of a small-town feel. Getting to experience each and every one of these settings was extremely enjoyable. I think perhaps some of my favorite experiences didn’t involve the capitals themselves. I also made a few special stops around the country. I spent time in Glacier, Red Woods, and Yosemite National Parks and enjoyed my time in the beauty of nature whether I was hiking or simply passing through.

Mount Evans, Colorado is referred to as the road into the sky. By driving from 8,700 feet at Idaho Spring and then turning off Interstate 70 to 14,240 feet to the summit, one will find that the temperature at Mount Evans is many degrees lower than Denver and you may be greeted by Mountain Goats and Bighorn Sheep as you climb to the top as well. Photo by Jared Chandler

CCN: What were some of your biggest challenges of the trip?

Jared: One of the biggest challenges on the trip was trying to keep away boredom and fatigue from driving. You can only listen to music for so long until it all kind of blurs together and you start spacing out. I got around this by listening to podcasts rather than music. This allowed me to actually engage my mind and think about something rather than mindlessly driving to music. Another challenge on the trip occurred about halfway across South Dakota in the middle of nowhere. I hit a piece of metal sheeting in the road and tore open the side of one of my tires. I was left sitting on the side of the road for quite a while until I could get a repair truck out to me.

Montpelier, Vermont is the smallest state capital in the United States with a population of just under 8,000 people. Photo by Jared Chandler

CCN: What are the most significant things you brought away with you from this trip?

Jared: I know it sounds cheesy, if you truly set your mind to something you can accomplish it. There were a few times throughout the trip where I felt as though I wouldn’t be able to finish whether it be due to car troubles or simply struggling with fatigue, but I kept my nose to the grindstone and powered on and it was greatly rewarding.

CCN: What advice would you give anyone who would like to do a similar journey?

Jared: It’s not an easy trip, especially not alone, but if you really want to do it, then do it. How often does one get a chance for a trip like this in their lifetime? Get good at budgeting time and money, because you’ll need to be organized to manage this trip. I was able to keep costs down by making my own food and staying with friends across the country, camping, and sleeping in Walmart parking lots. Get to know your vehicle and its limitations and what it can and can’t handle. Also for any lengthy trip, do something to keep your mind engaged such as podcasts or audio books.

Found in the northwest corner of Montana is Glacier National Park. Known as the Crown of the Continent, it is the headwaters for streams that flow to the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and to Hudson’s Bay. Photo by Jared Chandler

CCN: What do you plan to do after graduating from college?

Jared: I hope to get a job in my field of study if at all possible but I doubt I will ever be able to fully separate myself from traveling around the country and eventually the world.

For more information on planning a road trip to see the U.S. State Capitals or on how to compute an optimal road trip visit:

CCN Article by Rebekah Hurst, Photos by Jared Chandler and Rebekah Hurst, reposted with permission.





From → Adventure, Features

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: