More Thoughts on Blythe Roberson’s Book, America the Beautiful?

Meandering Mandy
4 min readNov 11, 2023

A few months ago, I read Blythe Roberson’s book, America the Beautiful?: One Woman in a Borrowed Prius on the Road Most Traveled. I also wrote a book review on her memoir in which I praised her work. Blythe wrote some thought-provoking reflections on traveling that I would like to share and provide my own musings on.

“Someone once said that every trip is really three trips: the trip you take when you’re planning it, the trip itself, and the trip as you remember it” (152).

I do agree with this sentiment. However, I would call it three phases of the trip instead of three separate trips. I do feel that there are three phases — planning the trip, taking the trip, and remembering the trip. I really like planning and taking the trip. Remembering the trip is good, but I prefer the other two phases. I agree that each phase is unique, and the way you remember the trip will always be different from how the trip actually went. You might remember the trip slightly differently due to memory issues or the fact that you want to focus on remembering a certain aspect of the trip. Do I go on four trips since I write about my travels? When I write about my travels, I go on a trip to remember my time, but I guess I would count that as part of the third trip. Sometimes, I like to think about how I would plan my next trip when I am already on a trip!

“I started to get freaked out when I realized I was seeing the views through my phone instead of with my actual eyeballs” (153).

This quote resonated with me, because there are some times when I am on a trip, I feel like I am constantly taking photos. I feel that I am not actually seeing the sights with my own eyes, but instead, I am seeing the sights through my camera lens. I then am afraid that I am not being fully present in the moment and that I am not being mindful enough of my surroundings. I feel that society is constantly telling us to be present and not be on our phones so much, but I want to be able to take photos to help myself remember my trip. I like to be able to look back at my photos to see what I saw in the past. Also, it is nice to have photos to share with friends and family members who wish to see what I experienced. I haven’t done so in awhile, but I used to make a Shutterfly photo album each year to showcase what I was up to that year and where I had been. I am hoping to get back into this habit. But in order to make those photo albums, I have to take photos! I hope I can get to a point where I can take enough photos, but not a lot that I feel that I have missed out on experiencing the sight while being present and mindful.

“I wanted to drive around America and see wild places and write about it because I think that the more narratives we have about women doing those things, the easier it is for other women to imagine doing the same, and the safer it is for them to do it (or at least the less likely that their stepdad will try to buy them a gun first)” (67).

I do feel that when women say they are going on a solo trip, they are met with a lot of worry from their friends and family. I do not remember getting a lot of worry from my family when I went on solo trips, but it has been several years since my first solo trip. I am a member of a few Facebook groups focusing on solo female travelers, and sometimes, a member will post about how family and friends are discouraging them from traveling on their own because they are afraid of their safety and/or they think that women should not travel on their own. I doubt they would express the same worries if a male family member said they wanted to travel by themselves.

I think I was worried about my safety on solo trips more than my family. Or at least that is what it felt like. I would make sure to text my parents when I was back at my hotel room, and I made sure they had my up-to-date itinerary with my hotel information and room number.

I feel that more narratives like Blythe’s will help more women feel brave enough to travel on their own. I am not sure more narratives and stories would make it safer though. I am not sure about the logic behind her statement on that. However, I do feel that it is good for women to travel on their own and let others know about their experiences and tell them that they survived and managed to do it safely. I wish more people would celebrate when a female says they are about to embark on a solo journey instead of warning them of dangers! I enjoy traveling solo, but there are times when I feel that I need to be super aware of my surroundings. I just wish that I did not have to be so cautious. I like that Blythe wrote about her experiences, and I hope it encourages others to embark on their own great American solo road trip!

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Meandering Mandy

Hello! I am a young woman living in Indiana who loves to travel and share my stories with the world!