This is the first post in “Life on Demand,” an occasional series of vignettes about workers in the on-demand economy.
The modern-day Jack Kerouac is a Lyft driver. Brady Jacob, a 26-year-old Miami resident, set out this summer on a solo cross-country road trip in his beat-up 2006 red Volkswagen Jetta, and financed it by driving for Lyft the whole way. He made roughly $10,000 on the trip and spent $1,500 in gas.
“I can go to any city that has Lyft available,” Jacob told Re/code on the phone from Vienna, Ill. “I have a ton of options.”
Starting in June, Jacob did six weeks in Denver, staying with local friends before hitting up Seattle; Lake Tahoe; Reno; San Francisco; Las Vegas; the Grand Canyon; Zion National Park; Amarillo, Texas; and Albuquerque, N.M., camping along the way in a small Coleman tent. I met him during his time in San Francisco when I hired him for a Lyft ride.
We spoke more about his road trip by phone after he had left the city. This was Jacob’s first time out West, and he traveled solo except for his ride-sharing passengers.
“Over the summer, I’m very tied to my car — I live out of it. And here I am picking people up and driving them around the city,” Jacob said. “It’s a real look into my life. ‘Come on in, have a seat, take your shoes off, stay a while.’”
Jacob estimates that he drove between 300 and 400 riders, and his freewheelingly transient situation led to some opportune connections: He even dated one passenger. “There’s always chances I meet a girl who tickles my fancy,” Jacob said. “It’s definitely not the point of why I do it, though.”
He also went to music shows with people he drove, and joined a few customers in escaping the oppressive San Francisco heat wave.
“It was one of those days when it was really hot, and I was hungover,” Jacob said. “My passengers were like, ‘Let’s go to the beach! Why don’t you come hang out?’ I had no idea there was a beach in SF. I said, ‘F’sho. I’m all about that life.’”
The only snag in Jacob’s grand plan was the big fluctuation in profit in each city. San Francisco, Lyft’s original market, was the busiest, which Jacob chalks up to the density of the city, the fact that people don’t own cars and the higher-than-average salaries. App-happy Bay Area residents are also more likely to know what Lyft is. He spent a month raking in the cash.
“That’s what drove me to stay in SF so long,” Jacob said. “But in Denver, it was very slow — probably half the amount of money.” He estimates he made $30 an hour driving in San Francisco versus $15 an hour in Denver. He considered driving for Uber, but the company didn’t accept his new car insurance.
He zigzagged his way back to Miami in mid-September, and when I checked in today, he was settling back into home life. He said, “I’m already making plans for next summer to do the same thing.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.