I'm traveling half the length of the US thanks to a smartwatch and coffee trips

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic
(Image credit: Future)

As part of my quest to travel the distance of Route 66 in two years, I use fitness trackers to monitor every single run and long walk I go on – using the data from these wearables, I can see how far along the route I am.

Where am I?

Where is Tom today?

(Image credit: End to End)

Column number: 14
Date written: 16/09/21
Days in: 200
Current location: Oklahoma City, OK
Distance traveled:  859.41 miles
Distance left: 1426.51 miles
Current tracker: Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic

When it comes to walks, I only track longer journeys, like my hour-long commute. I've never considered monitoring my quick visits to the shops, expeditions which typically only take 15 minutes or so.

Turns out, I might have been walking way further than I thought. I've been using the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, and when it senses that you've been walking for more than 10 minutes, it automatically starts monitoring your trip.

Sure, when you're active like me, this results in the battery getting eaten up like a freshly baked brownie/cookie mash-up tray-bake in the TechRadar office, but it's changed the way I think about my 'non-workouts'.

Walking further than I thought

I have a coffee subscription service for a national coffee chain, and the distance from my home to my nearest outlet, and from my office to the nearest outlet to that, is about the same; plus, when I'm at home, my nearest store is near the coffee shop. All in all, I'd say I make the journey between three and five times daily.

Like I said, I normally wouldn't consider using a smartwatch to track this journey – so for the purposes of my Route 66 venture, every time I made the trip I wasn't moving at all.

I've sometimes taken the smartwatch with me on a day out, like a trip to the beach which involved some wandering around, some sitting in place, some trips to a restaurant and so on; but none of these trips was long enough to necessitate me notifying my smartwatch – or so I thought. But thanks to the Watch 4 tracking the sojourns anyway, I've realized that I should have been doing it the whole time.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic

The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic (Image credit: Future)

Going the distance (for coffee)

When I started looking at the automatically-tracked coffee trips, I was surprised to see the distance I traveled generally hovered around the 0.75km range – and that jumped up to 1km, and sometimes even 1.5km, if I combined that with a trip to the store to buy food.

That might not seem like much, but three trips of 0.75km per day equals nearly 16km per week, or nearly 10 miles. That's not counting supermarket trips, or days where I get more than three coffees a day (my subscription service lets me get up to five per day, but my body starts to complain...).

If you've read the article about my Route 66 venture linked at the start of this piece, you'll know I need to average 38.19km, or 23.73 miles, every week to travel the distance in the requisite two years. So – if you're ahead of me on the math – if I keep up this coffee pace, over two years I would travel 1,139 miles or over 1,830km just by picking up coffees – that's half the total distance of Route 66. Call me cappu-keen-o.

Sure, I probably won't run up that many miles in coffee trips, but between those and my longer walks and runs I should complete my journey well ahead of schedule.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic

(Image credit: Future)

Further than you think

Between my running and my longer walks, I was beating my required distance per week fairly comfortably before I started using the Galaxy Watch 4; with it, I'm zooming past the numbers I need, and I'm now several hundred miles ahead of where I needed to be after 200 days of the venture.

I now slightly regret not tracking all my coffee shop and store runs – I could be even further ahead. I've been using this coffee subscription for months now, and that means I've racked up hundreds of caffeine miles, using the above figures.

But my Route 66 journey requires me to log all my workouts on a website, using screenshots from fitness tracker apps or sites, and because I didn't log those trips at the time I can't use the figures.

What this all goes to show is that the little trips and errands we go on are helping us get more exercise than we might think. If you walk to and from a school to pick up kids, or frequently run down a flight of stairs to pick up parcels delivered to your house – or just have a serious coffee habit like me, you're probably getting a lot more steps in than you'd imagine.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.