If you had 3 months to go anywhere in the 48 continental U.S., Canada, &/or Mexico where would you go & how would you get there? While in China we found ourselves asking this very question & the answer we came up with would be reality for May – Ausust 2016. Our only restriction was that we needed to be in West Virginia on June 4 for my brother’s wedding.
We began thinking and contemplated taking Amtrak across country but when we saw the cost of doing so especially with stopping in various locations it was apparent that was probably not going to work out. If anyone out there knows how to do the Amtrak across country in a cost effective manner please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), I’d love to discuss this with you! We did NOT want to fly because we would miss a lot of things between the east & west coast. Finally we began considering renting a car but as with the train this was not cost effective, so eventually we contemplated buying a cheap car on the east coast & selling it at the end of our trip.
Meanwhile we decided to leave China a bit earlier than expected so that we could see family in Florida before they went on vacation. So we headed off to Jacksonville, Florida for 2 weeks. While in Florida, thanks to family, we found a Pontiac Vibe that we bought for $2500. Now that travel was squared away it was time to organize the other things we’d need to get across country such as where we’d sleep, ect that would be budget friendly & allow us to see as much of the country as possible.
We decided on camping as much as we could with the occasional hotel or airbnb for those nights when you just want a regular bed or to hibernate for a day to get some work done. We went to REI & bought light weight sleeping bags & ENO hammock set ups. There are many options out there for camping from hammocks to tents all varying in weight, size, & price. Do your research on these so you get exactly what you’re looking for. Weight & size was a huge consideration for us. We wanted to get something that would last and that we would be able to take with us on long backpacking/hiking trips that we have to carry everything on us. I am not the strongest person and at 35lbs my pack was already hitting a limit for me to carry. I know some of you out there are cringing because you know REI can be a bit more costly than others but consider this, a full camping package of hammock, bug net, rain tarp, straps, sleeping bag ect for only a few pounds that packs up even without compression bags into the front/bottom pouch of my 45+10 Deuter pack leaving the rest of the pack for my other things vs some of the other cheaper brands that weigh several times that weight. Plus REI does guarantee their products & your happiness for up to 1 year after the sale meaning that at any time you can take your purchase in and they will either replace or refund your items. Personally we’d rather pay a bit more and get that kind of quality guarantee & compact product. But as with everything there’s still learning involved so you will hear more of this as we travel across country.
Now that transportation & sleeping were taken care of it was time to consider some of the smaller items & the “what ifs,” of travel that always come up. First is the what if it rains before we’re set up, there are no camp sites, or it’s too cold & we can’t find an airbnb. Well we realized that with the seats folded down we are small enough to lay in the back of the car so we purchased a foam mattress topper to put across the back for those nights, this could be folded or put on top or under things as we drive & we can move our items from the back out or up front to allow room for us to sleep. Next up…meals, it isn’t healthy or cost effective to eat out every meal so we decided to cook. We bought a small butane camping stove that can be stowed anywhere in the car when not in use, collapsible silicone cups that double as bowls & measuring cups(they have the measurements right on the inside of them), chopsticks, a mesh pour over coffee maker that folds up to less than an ounce and fits in our pocket, & finally a cooler that sits right in the back of the car with all the essentials we may need such as eggs, milk, mean, veg ect. I think that about wraps everything we bought straight away up. as we continue you will learn along with us what we really needed & what we didn’t. At the end of our trip I will do a wrap of of everything that was essential & the “could have passed on that” items.
Don’t forget the question I asked you at the beginning of this blog…Where would you go & how would you get there? Continue to check back with us to hear about our first leg of this 3 month journey across country & don’t forget to continue checking oehlerphotography.com for picture updates.