A while back a group of gap year students and I decided to travel overland from Guatemala back to Colorado. We wanted to do it using minimal money while maximizing adventure so we took chicken buses north through Guatemala, sitting four people to a bus seat and living off the food we bought on the street. We walked into Mexico and made our way to Palenque. From there, it was second class buses and conversations with locals all the way to the Sinaloa, where we slept on the beach. Finally, we made it to the border and walked with our backpacks into the States and slept in a hidden spot in the woods off the highway.
The next stage of our adventure was to hitchhike to Colorado. Each day we would choose our next place to meet and sleep, then we would divide into groups of two and go stand on the highway and have adventures. We met up and slept in Tucson, under a bridge on Roosevelt Lake, on an abandoned hill in Flagstaff, and then back in Paonia. Each time we met up, there were crazy stories to tell and campfires to sit around.
The whole experience was night and day from traveling on an airplane. We met local people, got dirty, experienced the changing landscapes, and felt empowered by our ability to travel using relatively little money and resources.