A young woman stays at Airbnbs in the southeastern U.S. while on her road trip across America.

This story was originally published on jessicamichellecastillo.com on May 17, 2018.

My first Airbnb on this road trip, and the first one after my ill-fated trip to Palm Desert last year, was with Allie and Bronson, Allie’s big lovable mixed-breed rescue pup, in her three-bedroom house in St. Augustine. The house has a wild open yard and Airbnb listing description proclaiming, “Bronson’s the head honcho here, we’re both kooky mutts who like making new friends.”

Allie, who is originally from Buffalo and is…


Tales from an Airbnb traveler.

This story was originally published on jessicamichellecastillo.com on May 16, 2018.

Before this current road trip, the last time I had stayed in an Airbnb was in April 2017. I was with my two friends Itzamme and Andres in Palm Desert, California, for the Coachella Music Festival. It’s a big three-day music festival in the desert near Joshua Tree with tens of thousands of people, if not more. The hotels and Airbnbs book up months in advance. The lodging options were dwindling so by January we had already booked our Airbnb, a one-room apartment on…


Campsite at the Big Meadows campground in Shenandoah National Park in April 2018.

A young woman faces a new loneliness in the cold, empty woods of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

This story was originally published on jessicamichellecastillo.com on May 7, 2018.

I thought I knew what loneliness was. I know some of its depths quite well, but I was not prepared for the cavernous sense of being truly, deeply alone in the isolated wilderness.

I spent two days camping alone in the Big Meadows campground — mile 51.2 of Skyline Drive — in Shenandoah National Park, my first national park on this journey. This wasn’t my first time visiting Shenandoah, but it…


Some of my perspective on the riots and insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

An image of the dome of the United States Capitol. Photo credit: Jessica M. Castillo, 2014.
An image of the dome of the United States Capitol. Photo credit: Jessica M. Castillo, 2014.

A week after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by an armed, angry mob and I am still in shock. I’m sure many of us are. This will sit with us for quite some time. The only other time something like this has happened in our nation’s history was in 1814 by the British — so never America against itself — at least not so candidly at such a figurative pillar of democracy.

Seeing the images out of the Capitol that day, it…


A young woman continues on her solo cross-country road trip across America, exploring sights through Old Florida, St. Augustine, Charleston and Roanoke.

This story was originally published on jessicamichellecastillo.com on May 6, 2018.

My first stop on this road trip was Tampa, where I visited with my two best friends, Megan and Itzamme, and their respective boyfriends Sebastian and Javier. It was sort of a simultaneous first stop and going away send-off since I had technically already left home in Miami, but I was still with friends (who are like family). When I arrived to Megan and Sebastian’s apartment, they…


A young woman continues on her solo cross-country road trip across America, reflecting on the first-leg of her journey — the Southeast.

This story was originally published on jessicamichellecastillo.com on May 5, 2018.

Hello from Washington, DC! It’s been two weeks since I started this cross-country adventure. I arrived here on Tuesday and being back in the DC Metro Area has been a welcome second-homecoming of sorts. I lived in DC for five years and my dad recently started a job here so he moved back up and my mom will soon follow from Miami. It’s nice to rest, hang…


A young woman starts a six-month solo cross-country road trip across America, visiting 30 U.S. National Parks by the time she turns 30.

This story was originally published on jessicamichellecastillo.com on April 21, 2018.

In college, a friend of a friend went on a road trip from Washington, DC to Colorado and he would write and post vlogs and photos about the trip. My friend Megan and I would sit enraptured watching this adventure unfold and we felt like we were on this exciting trip across America with him. I longed for that adventure and sense of pure exploration and…

Jessica M. Castillo

A writer from Miami living in Alexandria, VA. Lover of reading, writing, nature, photography, art, music, philosophy, science and almond croissants.

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