In September of last year, we didn’t have our house ready to sell, we didn’t have a new job lined up, and we didn’t even totally know what we were looking for! But what we did have was an opportunity to spend a few weeks on vacation and a dream of improving the quality of life for our children and future children’s children. So we decided to take a fun-filled road trip just to see what might be out there for us. And since my spreadsheet generated so much excitement last time, I’ll share some more for all you nerds reading along.
Planning a road trip, especially a future-altering one, can be a daunting task. If you’re an indecisive wishy-washer like me, it’s especially nerve-wracking. Should we go here? Should we go there? What if we miss out on some hidden gem of a town? Thankfully, I wasn’t planning it alone. I had my level-headed husband and we both had the Lord who is always faithful to care for us. We didn’t always remember to pray over our plans, and I still had my moments of overanalyzing to the point of driving everyone mad. But overall, I think we did a pretty good job planning a trip that was both fun and productive, to God be the glory.
After spreadsheeting over 10 different routes that considered several red states, we ended up with a simple plan to explore just a few cities in Southern Idaho and also carved out lots of time for friends and family in neighboring blue states.
Let me tell you, spending time in blue states only made the red state sweeter! Oregon, on the one hand, is absolutely gorgeous (our Airbnb in Glendale actually had a private pond with kayaks, and my parents’ house in Gearhart is blocks away from a breathtaking beach!) But when we needed to stop for lunch on our drive day, what a bust! Either they required masks to walk 5 feet from the service counter to the table, or else there was no indoor dining at all due to staff shortage. You know it’s all about health when the manager of Burger King spends longer reprimanding me for not wearing a piece of cloth over my face than it would’ve taken to just get my order. This person even told me I could get back in my car, order through the drive-thru, bring it inside, and eat at the table all without a mask, but she wouldn’t take my order at the counter unless I was wearing one. Huh?!
While we had an amazing time at the beach and sightseeing Oregon’s waterfalls, there was great rejoicing when we finally crossed the border into Idaho! As we approached the promised land, a miraculous rainbow appeared in the sky. After about 20 minutes of cows (hit that air circulation button in your car, trust me), we beheld Rocky Mountain Fur & Fireworks and knew we found freedom. This store had an incredible selection of patriotic explosives that, ever since our ex-gov canceled July 4th celebrations, I have come to adore! God bless America! We ended up buying some fireworks to save and set off our last night in California – we went out with a (big and possibly-not-so-legal) bang!
Funny story: when we arrived at our Airbnb in Caldwell, we were greeted by a welcoming committee of about six friendly cats, a neighbor girl and her bunny waiting and eager to play. These cats were so friendly, all over our car and even walked right into the house. For my husband, this was not ideal, but for the kids?! An absolute dream and hilarious first impression, as they all declared while holding furry friends, “We love Idaho!!” I began, “Well kids, when we move we won’t actually…” and then realized what a God-thing this was to get them on-board. “Um, yes, that’s right kids. Isn’t Idaho great?” Ha!
The real fun began when we left the kitties behind and explored the town. We loved that we didn’t have to wear masks anywhere, there were hardly any homeless people, we saw a ton of American flags waving, and the weather was gorgeous except for one particularly cold breezy day at the end. After some great times in Caldwell, Nampa, Meridian, Boise, Shoshone Ice Caves, Idaho Falls, Blackfoot, and Twin Falls, we travelled home through beautiful parts of Nevada and stopped to see some dear friends and my husband’s family. What was interesting about Idaho was at times we felt like we were in California (Meridian’s shopping center The Village reminded us of the Roseville Fountains!) and other times we felt like we were in Nevada (those magnificent mountain ranges). This made it feel like home for both of us.
Once we got back, we were pumped and ready for the next step: declutter and get the house ready to sell. My husband had already been working hard on his resume and even had phone interviews while we were on our trip! He didn’t get that job, and we were willing to take a leap of faith and move into a rental without a job if we had to. But it was about 3 weeks later that God provided him with a remote job that allowed us to live anywhere! What a blessing!
We made our list of pros and cons and finally decided on the Boise area. We then decided on Canyon County (much more conservative than Ada County) so we landed in Nampa/Caldwell. But I do think that we would’ve been happy just about anywhere in Idaho.
Here are some of the things we learned in case you might want to plan something similar.
10 Tips for Planning a Red State Road Trip
- If you have young children, try to average about 5 hours or less per travel day in the car. Longer drive days are fine but break it up with some short drives!
- Try to spend at least 3 days in a town you are considering moving to so you can really get a feel for it.
- Join Facebook groups such as “Moving to Idaho” (or whatever state you are looking at) to ask questions and get ideas. I’m in a few of these groups and they are full of helpful and friendly people!
- Watch YouTube videos, typically made by vloggers or local realtors, about the areas you’re considering. Here’s some of the videos we found that helped us! Not only are they informative, they got everyone excited about specific destinations. We loved learning that the Candy Jar shop right across the street from the Potato Museum is run by the former town Mayor – making it all the more exciting to see it in-person!
- “Southern Idaho is a Gem” by Adventures of A+K https://youtu.be/T_CTcLYgarE
- “I Spent a Week in Boise” by Living Life in North Idaho https://youtu.be/NRQ_VPAv7sA
- “All About Nampa” by Summer Aston Real Estate https://youtu.be/epc0mLyV3ls
- “Idaho Falls, Charming Outdoor Fun” by Visit the USA https://youtu.be/cOrruQeh0Fo
- “Idaho Falls: Potatoes, Fudge and Bears” by Newstate Nomads https://youtu.be/vnZuHAX6Zew
- When staying for 2 or more nights, book an Airbnb. It helps to get a feel for the neighborhoods, makes for a nice place to relax and catch up on laundry, and can even save you money if you have a large family that can’t fit in one room anyway. If it’s just a one-night stop, a hotel is better because it’s a faster check-out process!
- Don’t be shy reaching out to anyone you know that lives in the area, even if it has been years since you’ve seen them. Chances are they will be excited to show you their town or at least have some tips and ideas for you. And if you know a realtor in the area, reach out to them ahead of time for tips too! Our realtor talked to us for an hour on the phone before the trip, giving us all sorts of insider information about the areas that proved to be true when we went.
- Don’t be shy talking with any other person you meet along the way to learn more about the town and fun things to do. And don’t worry about them knowing you’re from a blue state – most people living there came from a blue state at some point and are very friendly and understanding. If you do hear any bad-mouthing of Californias, let it roll off your back because you know the truth: the politicians are to blame for the mass exodus not you and you are free to live where you want to live!
- Have everyone pack their own snack-bag before you leave. I used to have snacks in a big bag at my feet that I would have to pass back – no more! I loved that on this trip each kid had their own bag, and I did not care one iota about the crumbs, trash, or spoiling of meals – snacks on a road trip are a blessing from the Lord!
- Have fun! Especially if you are taking your kids, be prepared to eat lots of ice cream and do lots of silly things like get your picture taken with the world’s largest Pringle. Also visit places like stores, parks, libraries, farmer’s markets, churches, and drive around a few neighborhoods to get a feel for what everyday life might be like.
- Lastly, don’t worry about having it all planned out. God has a way of changing or tweaking our plans anyway, and His plan is always better.
I’ll end by bombarding you with more pictures from the trip! Let me know in the comments below if you took a similar Red State Road Trip or if you are planning on one!