Instead of a story about our road trip which as described in the previous blog changed quite dramatically as we traveled, today I’m going to give you some pointers on what to expect if you’re interested in doing your own roadtrip followed by a list of places where we went on our journey. Everywhere we went I picked up a business card & if the place was good I kept it to include here.
Tip # 1 Plan your route & places to stay, as far ahead of time as you can. Here’s why…
So none of us really wants to have every bit of our route mapped out along the way on a road trip right? We sure didn’t & we learned over seas that we had to have that flexibility because there’s not always a guarantee that we will get to a specific location on specific dates. Unfortunately in the United States this is nearly impossible to do. Planning ahead will save you a lot of headache worrying about where you will sleep at night since sleeping in a car along the side of the road could in many places cause you more harm than good with the local authorities. If you’re like us camping may seem appealing and you’re wondering why you would need to plan that far ahead why not just find a campsite that day right? Well as we found out many places only allow RVs so if you’d planned on hammocks or tents you may be out of luck and find yourself scrambling for a place to stay. Other times they could be out of campsites as many also require reservations. Hammockers beware: many campsites will not allow hammocks so dreams of using those wonderful hammocks that have become so popular with the thought of replacing your tent may be just that dreams.
If you plan on going to many national forests you may be in luck outside of California as they often allow for dispersed camping. If you are in California on the other hand, think again. There you must get permits a few months in advance for camping in the national forests. (Yes the “Republic of California” has put their own expensive restrictions on National land that do not exist in other National Forests.) Outside of California I would recommend looking for national forests as often as possible over national parks as there are fewer restrictions and people telling you “no.”
Solution to camping problems: Airbnb or couchsurfing. I am a huge fan of couchsurfing so if you can I would recommend this whenever traveling. This again requires some planning ahead. Airbnb on the other hand, in some areas can be as cheap as campsites & you actually get showers & a comfortable bed. With Airbnb there is also the possibility of being able to book last-minute as the need may be. Bear in mind, there are some places that are just more expensive than others and you will either have to budget for that or forego those places until another trip. San Fransisco was one of those places for us. We preferred to go to smaller places instead of the larger cities for the most part but were both looking forward to San Fransisco, unfortunately the prices there are quite high for all forms of accommodation so we cut our time there to one night which gave us a chance to walk around the city and take some pictures while hoping to return another time.
Permits permits permits. Many national parks require permits which must be gotten a few months in advance. So for those more adventurous journeys try to plan ahead for those permits. We would have loved to have done one of the camping/hiking trips down into the Grand Canyon but the permits required took too long to get and the accommodation around the area was just too expensive to stick around.
Tip #2 Be prepared to see many things that you will want to come back to in the future but will not have time to see a lot of on this trip.
You will see a little of everything & a lot of nothing. Lets face it we live in a very large country. Many places would take weeks to really explore and if you’re traveling across the entire country chances are you won’t have more than a day or two per location. Enjoy the scenery & learn what you want to see more of.
Tip #3 Stay off the highways as much as possible.
You will see much more of the country & changes in culture on the small roads than on the highways. Contrary to what many think those small roads don’t really take much longer than the highways either so you may as well see what there is to see. You’re going to be in that car a long time so enjoy the views & take in everything you can. Try to stop at the markets or fruit stands to get some great seasonal fresh foods. Observe how the buildings, fashions, & accents change as you go from one demographic to another.
Tip #4 Make an effort to see anyone you know along the way
It’s a great way to catch up & they can often give you better suggestions of places to go than you could ever find in a guidebook. Many will take great pleasure in getting to be part of your trip and will love getting to say hello. Sometimes catch ups can be a few days & getting to spend wonderful time with loved ones others this may mean a simple coffee or meal as you pass through. Either way that’s ok and makes the trip substantially better to see a familiar face you haven’t seen in a while.
Tip #5 Be prepared for your reasons for the trip to change & evolve as the trip progresses
As described in Evolving Plans & Priorities our plans were ever shifting on our trip. That meant to see certain people & have the time to see specific places on our trip we had to cut out some areas while adding others. That’s ok. That plan I recommended should still be flexible enough to embrace these changes. If you live away from loved ones you may plan a week with them and for unforseen reasons need to extend that other times you may find yourself passing through the same area as an old friend. Taking the time to see them instead of rushing to your next destination could be the highlight of your trip.
After 3 months of chaotic travel from Florida to Pennsylvania to Tijuana, Mexico up the western seaboard to Whistler, Canada & back to Seattle, Washington we’ve learned & seen a lot. Most importantly we’ve deepened friendships with those we got to visit with & experienced the trip of a lifetime. We returned exhausted and ready to be home while also holding onto dreams of many future adventures in places we passed through.
Just a few of the places we enjoyed on our trip
Black Forest Family Camping Resort: 828-884-2267, www.blackforestcampground.com
Commune Real Food: 501 Virginia Beach Blvd Virginia Beach VA 23451, 757-373-3219
De Dutch: Dedutch.com, 8484 162 St. #108 Surrey, BC Canada V4N 1B4
Public Square Café: 2 West Washington St Hagerstown MD 21740, 240-707-6440
Scratch Deli & Bakery: 911 Moraine Ave Estes Park, Colorado 80517, 970-586-8383
Wheeling Coffee Shoppe: 303-242-2223, 101 Washington Ave Wheeling, WV 26003
Ye Olde Alpha: www.YeOldeAlpha.com, 50 Carmel Road Wheeling, WV 26003, 304-242-1090
Fanelli’s Italian Cuisine: 115 S Redwood Hwy Cave Junction OR 97523, 541-415-2100
Katy’s Café: 619-863-5524, 704 Seacoast Dr Imperial Beach, CA 91932
Mara’s Coffee House: 1818N Highway 1 Fort Bragg, CA 95437, 707-961-6141, marascoffeehouse.com
Volcano Coffee: 9909 168th St E Suite 101 South Hill, WA 98375, 253-840-1040, volcanocoffee.net
iFly Kansas City: 913-305-4359, 10975 Metcalf Ave Overland Park, KS 66210, iFLYworld.com
Timber Ridge Winery: 722 Graham Road, Canton Pa, Open Thurs-Sunday 11am-6pm, 570-673-4234
Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center