Visit All Fifty States Quest


In my mind, travel is one of life’s absolutely top luxuries and one of the things I am most looking forward to flexing on in early retirement.  I love getting off a plane and immersing ourselves in a new city or destination.  I even love the parts of travel that other people hate – planning, packing & airports.  Most of all I love the education that comes from travel and seeing the world through another’s eyes.

An article from The Atlantic affirms the notion that “Waiting for an experience apparently elicits more happiness and excitement than waiting for a material good.”  This idea was studied and published a few years ago with the conclusion that it is better to invest in experiences than in material possessions.  I couldn’t agree with that more.

One of the quests that I have been on is “collecting” the 50 United States.  My wife’s grandfather got me thinking about visiting all 50 – it was one of the life accomplishments he was very proud to share with people.  So far, I have been to 47 of the 50, having traveled a fair amount in my career (and having some control over where I’ve traveled) has helped.  A few years ago for my birthday I told my wife that my goal was to reach “50 by 50”.  Since then, we took a trip along the gulf coast to reach Alabama & Mississippi and another trip through the New England states (including lobster in Maine).

The three I have remaining are shown on this map from the

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 3.23.21 PM

My plan is to take a trip to Yellowstone National Park next year, which is close to the border of both Idaho & Wyoming.  Nebraska is a weekend trip away from where we live, so that should be a relatively easy one.  

Some people fret over “what counts” as a visit to a State.  This is usually the first question that people have after you start talking about visiting all 50 (after they ask if you’ve gotten to Alaska & Hawaii).

An article in CNN notes that “Those who are truly passionate about making it to all 50 states often have their own criteria for crossing them off the list, from a hard-core requirement of staying in a state for more than a month to simply hopping out of the car to snap a picture at the border.”  One avid traveler quoted in the article has defined it with 4 criteria: spending at least one full hour in the state, during the day, be outdoors at least part of the time, and airport property (layover) doesn’t count.  By that definition, I am good on all of my 47.

What will I do when I get to the fiftieth state?  Have a Big Mac, of course.  Strangely enough, I have never had a Big Mac at McDonald’s in my entire life.  I’ve always tended to have just a plain cheeseburger or chicken sandwich instead.  My son is anxious for me to correct this apparent cultural shortcoming, but it will have to wait for state #50.

How many states have you collected? Provinces?  Countries?

Image Credits:  Pixabay;

19 thoughts on “Visit All Fifty States Quest

  1. The 50 states was one of my goals in life as well – and I am happy to day I did it! I had the similar criteria which I also use for countries – airports don’t count – but driving thru a state counted for me.

    In Nebraska, check out Carhenge if you can, or the Oregon Trail stops. My husband still quotes a diary he saw in one of the Oregon Trail stops – a young boy’s diary that read “I am so bored, I wish the Indians would attack”. Seriously.

    I agree Yellowstone is a must for Wyoming. But so are the Tetons! We did Idaho on the same trip. If you’re in Jackson Hole, Idaho is a car ride away. We went there for lunch in a quaint little town. I have since spent more time in Idaho as a good friend ended up moving to Boise, but the picnic lunch gave me the original check-mark.

    After the 50 states, what’s your next bucket? Continents? National Parks? I’m not sure what mine will be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not sure what is after all 50 states. We’ve been to quite a few countries too, so maybe 50 of those. I’ve also been to 27 MLB ballparks, so I’d like to add to that “collection”. 😃

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like the 50 countries idea. I will have to figure out where I am on that list. MLB ballparks are not my thing. It took me years to even visit the one in my own town.


  2. What, you’ve never had a big mac?! That’s a gold standard! The wife and I love big macs but not because it’s the best hamburger ever. It’s just an interesting combo of flavors and textures.

    Now I’m off to count how many states I’ve visited. Those 4 criteria you mentioned are about what I was thinking. A layover in an airport clearly doesn’t count, nor does crossing the border for a few minutes. I’m still debating whether driving through a state on the interstate and stopping for lunch or a rest break (or hotel overnight) counts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is as fun to debate the criteria as it is to count up the states that you have left. There are enough things in a big mac that I don’t like – onions, pickles, “special sauce” – that I have always held off. I will probably order it without onions and pickles at least. It is funny when you read those stories about the guy who eats Big Macs every single day of his life, and I have never had one!


      1. The special sauce is what makes it a big mac!

        Being a cheapskate, I’ll actually order the double cheeseburger for a little over a buck and ask to add the Mac sauce (which is sometimes $0.15-0.20).


      2. I was always a little creeped out about not knowing what it was. Knowing that it is just thousand Island dressing, I would be fine with it. I was kind of a picky eater – especially when I was a kid.

        Liked by 1 person

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