AT THE AGE OF 10 my family packed up all our belongings to move from Rio Rancho, New Mexico, a place I had only ever known as home. Little did I know this adventure would continue for six years. So far my family and I have been to 31 states in the US with more to come. I guess most people could say I have grown up in a different environment — being home schooled and traveling from place to place living out of a backpack with just the bare necessities. I’ve met people who felt bad for me or have asked me how I ever survived. It has never been about trying to survive or dreading the next day. For me it’s been just another day full of amazing adventures. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

1. Less is more.

Minimalist living and prioritizing is something I learned at a very young age. When you’re traveling you get tired of packing and unpacking everyday. I have always just had a large hiking backpack to hold my belongings so anything that didn’t fit got left behind at a local donation store. Only taking whatever is absolutely necessary is really important. After all, collecting moments is better then collecting items. It also really made me grateful for the few things I had.

2. Everyone has a story.

My parents somehow always found a way to spark up a fun conversation with a local barista or whoever, and because of this we have created a lot of long term friendships throughout the United States. There’ve been times where our new friends would help us find our way around, tell us crazy stories, or even help us find the best places to eat. Meeting new people and listening to their stories has become something I really enjoy.

3. Live like a local.

Always being new you tend to have to search for where the locals like to hang out and what they do for fun. This has been a great way to experience new cities and towns. I’ve learned if you “act local” people will treat you like one. It’s also amazing how you began to love the city like the locals do because you see things through their eyes.

4. Stay positive.

Staying positive can be really hard when you lock the keys in the car and can’t get them out for six hours, or when you miss your bus in the middle of the hot summer and it only shows up every two hours. Normally those days are when the best memories are made, whether it’s meeting new people, finding a solution to a problem, or just making up games to pass the time. So I always try and keep a good outlook on the “bad” times.

5. Stay connected.

As a teenager, I love my friends, but sadly my friends can’t just magically follow me from place to place. Learning how to make friendships work long distance has been super helpful. You can always find me using Skype, Instagram, or YouTube to keep in touch with my friends. Not only is keeping these amazing people in my life great, it can also give me a reason to go back to a city, town, or state to visit them.

6. Be patient.

Being in a car for 17 hours everyday for weeks at a time can be pretty hard with three younger siblings, parents, and a dog. Headphones, podcasts, and audio books have become my best friends for the past six years because of that reason.

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