I now have a solo travel idol. Her name is Laura and she's 25. She and her friend Alexa, two country girls from the (still) United Kingdom stayed with me in August, a few days before Alexa had to fly home and Laura was getting ready to continue traveling around the U.S. on her own for two months.
In return for a few nights at my place, the two of them cooked me dinner and left me with a thoughtful gift and a homemade picture postcard with photos of places they'd visited while in Washington.
I was disappointed I was "only" able to get her a bed with friends or family in New York, Massachusetts and California. She stayed with my niece, one of my dearest friends and is now with my second cousin.
But I shouldn't have worried. I was far from the only one looking out for her and booking her places to stay.
Coincidentally, I was vacationing in Maine in September about the same time she planned to make it to Maine. So my friends and I hosted her there, all of us indulging in as much lobster as we could manage and spending a morning paddle boarding near Portland.
My friends contributed to the hosting chain. One put her in touch with her daughter (Laura ended up staying with the daughter's former roommates in Austin) and the other contacted her son in California, who was game to host.