Cross country for $300: An M22 Microadventure


If you’re craving a dose of adventure but operating on a shoestring budget, the recent road trip of M22 Ambassador, Grant Piering, demonstrates that you can get further than you’d expect. $64 for a one-way plane ride from Chicago to San Francisco was a good place to start, but he craved more than just Cali sunshine. With hikes to mountain peaks and camping under the stars in mind, an epic microadventure took shape: MI to Cali, and back, for $300 or less. Though the 1997 BMW they bought in San Fran (and sold once back home) had no cruise control or radio, Grant and crew conquered half the country from Yosemite to Zion, Breckenridge to Denver, St. Louis to home. He ended with $3 to spare and a few pointers for others with wanderlust:



If you’re set on a particular destination, you can sign up to get email alerts when airfare prices drop from your home airport to your selected destination through websites like Airfarewatchdog ( If you’re open to anywhere, follow Grant’s lead and use Skyscanner ( This website allows you to specify your departure city in the “from” search box and type the word ”everywhere” in the “to” search box. You can then broaden the search even further by selecting entire months for your “depart” and “return” dates, rather than selecting specific days. The more flexible your travel schedule is, the more possible this will be: 



Grant had two fellow free spirits along for the ride. They split all of the expected expenses like groceries and camping fees along with some unexpected ones like snow chains and calamine lotion. They kept team morale high despite limited food rations and provided company in the waiting room when Grant broke out in poison oak. They were essential, because it’s rare to have everything go right.



Be flexible with your itinerary, open to the suggestions of locals and accepting of the kindness of strangers. A random facebook post connected Grant with a man from Breckenridge, Steve Adair, who offered much needed food, shelter, and showers to the three exhausted wanderers in the final days of their travel. This impromptu camping spot on the road to Zion was not their intended sleeping destination, but offered a brilliantly painted and unparalleled sky once night fell:



“When nothing is planned, anything can happen” - M22 Ambassador, Grant Piering

Get the ticket. Get a travel buddy. Get lost. Find everything.


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