Friday, August 19, 2016

Just the Tip(s)

Some people requested just the tips without my trip recap at the beginning.

Here You Go! :)

  • Tip 1: Study Up. I highly recommend doing some research before you start your own epic journey. Where exactly do you want to end up? What are some fun things along the way? Do you know anyone along your route? Are there cool road trip apps you should download (yes, yes there are... here's a quick Yahoo link, but later I will write about my favorite travel apps)? How much money will a trip like this take? Will I be okay crashing in my car or should I get hotels? Which states am I allowed to sleep in my car? Is there good travel advice online (hello, there!)? How long can I go without a shower? And so many other things you should ask yourself (and research) before you go.

Where I thought I was going to go on
my two month road trip.
  • Tip 2: Try to Remain Positive. I feel like this is kind of a life tip, because life has its ups and downs, but if you can keep a positive attitude about things, you'll end up seeing solutions that you never would have seen otherwise. This is especially important when you're on the road, because things have a way of not going as planned. You will need to be flexible and a positive to enjoy the experience completely. When I first started my road trip, I was pretty certain that I would be heading to the East Coast, too. But then I fell in love with the West, and because I was flexible, I just went with it. There will be times when you want to have a tiny panic attack or when you're so exhausted that  you want to just quit, but cheer up, Buttercup. You're on an epic journey. So what your charger isn't working. Oh well, you dropped your camera... You ran out of gas? Okay. Live it up and remain positive. Life is a bed of roses, there will be some thorns, and if you're allergic, take some Claritin. You are living a good life and you're as free as a bumble bee. Roll with the punches and enjoy the ride! (Sorry for all the clichés, I'm disgusted too).

Where I actually went: Part One.
  • Tip 3: Loosen Your Agenda. Plan a loose route so you have objectives, but expect some changes in your route. The best time I've had on road trips, is when I decide to make a random stop, take a different route, and talk to strangers. The worst road trips I've had were dictated by deadlines and anxiety. Whenever there is someone in the front seat saying, "We have to get __ by __. There is no time to stop" you know that you are in for a stressful tip. It is, however, important to have some ideas of destinations or desired stops in mind When you are driving nonstop for hours, the only things that catch your eye are food and places to crash. Having a loose agenda helps you make fun stops, while allowing room for other random destinations, as well. If you're going to have a set schedule, keeping it loose will also helpful for figuring out how many hours you need to drive in one particular day, and how flexible you can be with that schedule. Make sure you create some cushion room in your schedule so that if you start feeling really tired one day, you can pull over early and you won't be behind schedule.
Part Three.
Part Two. 
  • Tip 4: Yawns are Stop Signs. Stopping as soon as you get tired is very important for a successful and enjoyable road trip. Not only is dangerous to drive when you are tired, it is completely unnecessary to do so when you've created a loose schedule and are taking the trip for pure enjoyment (or to add enjoyment to an already scheduled trip). If you are traveling solo, you will probably need naps during the day, between driving. Don't freight, just pull over and lean your seat down. If you nod off while driving, you're endangering everyone on the road and nothing is worth that. Pulling over to the side of the road, at a rest stop, in a hotel, at a gas station, etc to get some shut eye will not inconvenience anyone and your body will thank you. 

  • Tip 5: Budget Budget Budget. Use Cash. *edit* So this worked for me, but it doesn't work for everyone. This is something I recommend if you're prone to spending frivolously. Unless you are a fantabulous budgeter and have crazy cash back on your card, I recommend keeping track of your money and stopping yourself from overspending by getting it in cash (or putting it in specific accounts, if your card lets you do that). Put aside cash in different labeled envelopes, and carry an emergency credit card. Budget beforehand so that you can put aside the right amount of money for each part of your trip. One for Gas (probably your largest envelope), one for food (my second largest), one for souvenirs (if you're into that sort of thing), one for hotels/camping (if you need that. I slept in my comfy backseat, but there are also more comfy inexpensive alternatives.), one for shopping/entertainment (again, if you're spending money on that), one for your destination(s), one for emergency (this one is the most important). If you are using a credit card, do research on it. Get one with cash back on things you will be spending on your road trip (5% Gas Cash Back? Yes Please.). Look at that interest rate, too. If it's interest free after the first year, that's great but look at how much the Annual APR is after that first year too, so it doesn't screw you. Make sure you have credit card cash set aside too so you can pay it off as soon as you rack it up. And make sure you have a low limit so that you're not over spending.

One of my delicious salads.
  • Tip 6: Plan Your Calories and Suck Down Your H2O. As I was coming back from my two month road trip in Missouri, I saw a billboard that said, "Road Trip Calories Don't Count." I wish that was true. It is hard to eat healthy and affordably on a road trip, so make sure you have a game plan before going in. If you want to eat out every meal, make sure that's within your budget, or you're okay with eating junk fast food (or both). On my first road trip, I didn't want to spend too much money on food, but I didn't want to make food, so I stopped at Taco Bell for Katina burritos everyday for almost a week, I figured that it had veggies and meat, but I felt disgusting by day 4. I started stopping by the grocery store and picking up kale and a couple other veggies. Only buy as much as you're going to eat that day. I paid about $6 for a salad pretty much every day for about a week before I transitioned to cans of soup and PB&Js with oats. I started loving soup. First it was cold chunky soup, but then I started putting the cans in the back window so they would be hot by dinner time. I always tried to eat a can of soup somewhere beautiful, like overlooking the grand canyon, which made soup taste like a Chinese buffet. Eating local food has more of an appeal to some people, so if that's the case with you, just make sure you budget for it before your trip and stick to your budget. Also, bring water, buy water, refill your Camel back, whatever you find most convenient to keep yourself hydrated, do it. I got a polar pop refillable cup, and most gas stations let me fill it up with water and ice for free-zee. This is even more important to remember if you are driving to/through mountains and deserts. Even when you think you're not thirsty, drink anyway. Bonus health tip: Keep sunscreen handy (and on). Even/especially while you're driving, lather that shit up. Your skin is highly exposed to the sun for long periods of time while driving, and being sun burnt is not a good way to spend a road trip and is super easy to prevent. Do some sunscreen research to see what kind is best for you.

My trusty tent
(Thank you for letting me borrow this, Walter)!
  • Tip 7: Stay Comfy and Know Where You're Going to Crash. If you're going to be sleeping in your car, get some stuff to comfort it up. I got some memory foam bathroom rugs, a bed cushion and a comforter laid across my backseat. If you're long-term traveling, bring a backup set of sheets and a pillow case because you never know when you might spill a can of soup on your bed (whoops). I usually bring a tent, just in case, but it is more difficult to pitch a tent at a rest stop or when you're exhausted from driving all day. Also, know where you want to stay. If you're sleeping in your car, I recommend crashing at rest stops, hotels, or a super grocery store (Walmart/Hyvee). These places are generally legal, well lit and safe. If you're pitching a tent, I would recommend finding a campsite nearby. There are somesnazzy apps to help you. There are also apps that can help you find a place to crash, but you generally have to know when you'll be arriving at that destination. These apps include: AirBnBCouchsurfingWarmShowers, and a few others. Wherever you crash, you need to stay safe, trust your intuition, and don't sleep anywhere sketchy, and on that note:

Did I mention I broke up a trucker fight in Idaho?
Yeah, not fun.
  • Tip 8: Be Aware of Your Surroundings.Try to find your sleeping spot before you're too exhausted so that you can be sure that it's safe and so that you can gage your feelings about the place. I am all for recreational marijuana (and am pretty vocal about it) and am down to have a couple drinks here and there (when not driving for a day or two), but make sure that you are being safe. Driving and arriving somewhere sober is a must for the safety of a lone traveler. You need to keep a sober and aware eye out for your own good. Also, if you are packing something smelly (cough cough) make sure you know that state's laws concerning what you're carrying. Also, for your safety, make sure you're packing some sort of heat. I don't carry a gun (I'm pretty sure it's illegal to carry an accessible and loaded weapon cross borders, and I don't really trust myself with a firearm), but I do carry mace and a knife just to be on the safe side. I have also taken martial arts. I recommend having a bit of self-defense knowledge if you are a lone traveler, just in case. I have also heard of people carrying wasp spray because it shoots further and is more accurate than mace. Safety first: even if you really want to sleep somewhere, don't fight any intuition you have against staying there. I was at Joshua Tree and was so excited about waking up surrounded by mountains, but I just kept feeling unsafe whenever I tried to go to bed. I was bummed but decided to drive to the local Walmart and sleep there. It's better to be safe than regret it later. Never put yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Which leads me to my next tip:

  • Tip 9: Follow Your Gut. Follow your gut while picking your destinations, your stopping points, which strangers to talk to, etc. If you are in tune with your gut, it will tell you exactly how to take your trip, where to look for adventure, and which opportunities to say yes to (probably, most of them). Even if you don't listen to your gut about your travel spots, I highly, highly recommend listening tuning inward when it comes to safety. As I stated in the last tip, even if a place seems perfectly safe, don't fight your gut if it's telling you to find a different spot. This is a bit different from the common nervousness that arises when you first start sleeping in your car, but make sure that when that gut tells you to go, you listen.

  • Tip 9: Document Your Experience. You are in for an amazing adventure, so make sure you bring a journal or notebook and make it a point to jot down something everyday. A stream of consciousness, a list of things you did, a piece of advice you got, the people you met, how exhausted you are, whatever it is: write it down, because you'll want to look back on these epic moments. When all else fails, I try to just write down what my five senses are experiencing. Write what you're smelling, tasting, hearing, feeling, and seeing. This will help bring you back to this moment years later. If you're a blogger, write a few things every couple of days and post it online. If you like photos, take a couple wherever you go, and take some video too. But don't focus too much on the shots or video, this is about being in the moment and experiencing things first hand. Few things piss me off more than tourists stopping somewhere, taking a couple pictures and immediately leaving. Soak it in, meditate on the Grand Canyon, drink a beer watching the sunset. Feel it all because I guarantee that your pictures will pale in comparison to that moment of bliss.

Say hello to my new puppy
  • Tip 10: Just Say Yes. I know it sounds a little Anti-D.A.R.E., but when life hands you weed infused lemons... I'm just kidding, of course (unless Life is a really trustworthy and hot guy, and your gut is telling you to go for it). But what I mean by this, is if your gut isn't against it, go for it! Say yes to opportunities and live in the moment. You're on a grand adventure, embrace it! Life is so incredibly short, don't squander it by saying no to things because they scare you.

I met these girls at the random back
woods party in Lake Tahoe. 
If you already have the balls to go on a road trip solo (or with friends), then you are ready to go on a random hiking trip, take a detour to a national park, go solo to dinner, say yes when someone offers you a surfing lesson, camping trip, soul fest tickets, a radio interview, a dog in the Rocky mountains (namedRocky Road Trip, of course), a deep sea fishing experience (even if you end up seasick and getting pinched by a tasty crab), a day trip to Canada, a free shower, a hot meal, a country concert, ice cream, a bag of weed, wild flowers, a firework show, a World Naked Bike ride (this is a thing), asks you for a ride (especially when they are on their dirt bike in the middle of the Sequoias, or on a Mission from God), or invites you to a massive random party in the back woods of Lake Tahoe. Every single one of these things, and then some, happened on my road trip, simply because I said yes, followed my gut, and had a positive attitude. Say yes to opportunities, say yes to taking a life changing road trip, say yes to saying "Fuck it" and say yes to the new and better version of yourself.
I said yes to a random surf lesson
and had the time of my life!

I hope these tips helped! If you would like to listen to the audio version of this, here's the Sound Cloud Link! :)

I met this girl in Colorado and she
became my bestie!
I have met some amazing people, heard life changing advice, had the most extraordinary adventures and will never be the same because of the epic journeys I have been on, and will continue to have. I highly encourage you to go on your own life changing, soul searching, "fuck it" saying journeys and I hope that I can help you along the way!

I will continue to post travel tips and answer any questions that I can!

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