Driving the Pan American Highway was just the first leg of the teenager’s journey

Liam Garner always planned to travel.

“I always knew I wanted to go on a big crazy adventure and run away after high school,” he said.

At 17, he set out alone on the adventure of a lifetime: cycling the “Pan American Highway” from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to the southernmost point of Argentina, Ushuaia.

It took him 527 days, soaking in every destination.

“I was more than surprised by more than a few sides and I think everyone else would be too,” he said.

Find out more: The best travel insurance

Now 19, Garner is slowly backpacking back home to Southern California and shares the highs and lows of her journey and lessons learned with USA TODAY.

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