We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post, but this does NOT cost you anything extra! Check out my full disclosure for more info.
Not sure about you, but I love traveling. There is something about discovering new things, hiking up mountains, and exploring the world we live in that makes me feel alive.
Because, for most of us, traveling abroad still has its limitations, road trips are a perfect way to itch the travel bug. And, the United States has some really amazing destinations. Did you know there are people from around the world who travel here to see some of them?
In this post, I will do my best and share what I learned during my road trip (2.0). And, if you didn’t read about my trip, click the previous link to find out where I went.
If you were not aware, this is also the first trip that I had no “real” plan. Being a type-A personality, I did have a general guideline on where I was going, but that was mainly because my Mum could sleep better at night.
I was free to take detours, adventures and only had one “real” limitation. I had to be back to work in 4 weeks.
Like everything in life, there are always good things and bad things that occur. Road trips are no different, and overall I had a blast! In fact, as I’m writing this, I can’t wait to get back on the road!
There is one thing I used to hate, change. But, after kicking and screaming, you soon realize that change is always happening. I’ve learned that it’s a lot easier if you go with it (for everyone too).
In my first few days on this road trip, I experienced a lot of change. It doesn’t take long to realize cooking, dishes, sleeping, showering, and all the other routine things you do are now very different.
For me, it doesn’t take long to love every second of my time on the road. After a few days, I was able to acclimate to road life.
Keep in mind, being on the road is not all glamorous. It’s not even close to what you see on social media. There are ups and downs, just like regular life.
So my advice to you is that you can only read and look at so many photos from others on road trips.
You need to experience life on the road for yourself. So figure out where you want to go, finish reading this post, and get out there!
Fun Things That Happen On The Road
Not having any concrete plans was much nicer than I thought it would be. Planning it this way allowed me to do things that I was curious about and things that just happened.
I’m not a spontaneous person, so this is something I’ve been working on.
Just a few of the fun things that happened on this trip included making new friends, visiting friends I haven’t seen in a long time, visiting some of the amazing states on the west coast, hiking more than I have in a few years, and best of all being outside.
Not to mention taking breaks when I wanted, stopping in areas I didn’t even know existed, and (being solo) I could take any detour I wanted!
It also seemed that most of everyone was in a good mood. And let me tell you, there were a TON of people out. Another reason I was thankful for not having any plans on things I had to do.
I even found amazing restaurants, free camp spots, beautiful scenic hikes, and a long list of things I need to come back to see and do. This might be considered a bad thing, but I think it’s great! As I said, most National Parks are HUGE, and I only got to see sections of them.
Best of all, I didn’t have any vehicle issues! Well, that is until I got back to California and saw how much the gas costs!
Having a vehicle that you can depend on (such as my Rav4) is a huge deal. I always am thankful for when my car starts, but having a vehicle that performs great day after day is something I’m pleased to be blessed with.
Not So Glamorous About The Road
When it comes down to it, a lot can happen when you are on the road. Such as
- Scorching weather (record-breaking at that)
- Finding ice (like I sad, record-breaking heat)
- Locating showers
- Finding water
- Locating areas to sleep (everyone seemed to be out)
- Dealing with overcrowding
- Being aware of the wildlife
One of the animal stories I remember clearly is when I was in Yellowstone.
As you know, I focus on boondocking (free camping) on these types of trips. I remember finding a spot (in Yellowstone), being alone for miles, watching the sunset, when I realized something.
I hadn’t seen anyone for quite some time and was a few miles from the main road. I was alone with the wildlife. That by itself isn’t bad, but it could be when you are in grizzly land. This realization made me think twice about watching the stars or becoming a bear burrito (someone who sleeps in a hammock).
This was also when I recalled a story from an Alaskan Ranger told me (on another trip years ago). I will sum it up below:
The ranger explained that wearing bells while hiking is a good way to let bears know where you are. He later went on to explain what to look for in black bear skat and other large animals. He then posed a question that I will never forget, “What do you look for in Grizzly bear skat?”
Not being the only one in the group, there was one person who went into detail. It was great to learn, but the ranger shockingly said, “NOPE.” That made us all wonder what he was talking about because the detailed description was over the top. The Ranger replied, “You can tell when it’s Grizzly skat because there are pieces of bells in it.”
And that is when I busted out laughing, it took a bit of time for others to realize he was kidding.
You have to have fun, especially when you are on vacation. Things might happen, accommodations are booked, finding there isn’t any parking, the heat, and the list goes on.
But in all honesty, even taking the not-so-glamorous aspects, this trip was a lot of fun. And, as you may have already guessed, I didn’t get eaten by a bear.
Since being back for this road trip, I realized some things that I didn’t really think about at the time. A few of those questions are what follow as well as questions I’ve gotten.
“How can you take a month off?” Always followed by, “Isn’t traveling expensive?”
Well, this is the first time I’ve taken this much time off work.
And, it’s been funny that people don’t realize that road trips are not that expensive.
During this trip (although unpaid, I budgeted for over a year), I only paid twice for lodging. One was staying at the Devil’s Tower Tipi camp, and the other was for a motel near Olympic National Park (which was only about $30, you got to love credit card points).
I also cooked most of my own meals and only ate at places I wanted to. I did spend a little going out with friends, but it was again something I have been budgeting for.
So if you spend, say $30 a day, for lodging for a month, that would be around $900. Yes, I paid more than that for my adventure, but I drove around 5,400 miles, visited ten states, went to a few national monuments, nine national parks, and of course, gas for the Rav.
“Where did you stay if you weren’t at a hotel or campground?”
Maybe I should write a post on this, but I find public lands to camp on. My main goal is to camp for free, legally. There are many sites out there, but I generally use Benmark Maps and CalTopo. I have also had good luck with this Free Camping website.
If this is something you are interested in, please let me know. Finding areas to camp can be a little confusing, and I am more than willing to share more with you.
“Did you really go on this trip alone, and what do you do?”
This one makes me laugh, but the answer is yes!
That is always followed by if it gets lonely. But, it would be best if you determined that for yourself. For me, I am fine to travel, camp, and go on adventures alone.
I also think that everyone eventually needs lazy days. My lazy day was making coffee, sitting in my chair, looking at some amazing views, and reading a good book.
So my question for you is, when is the last time you took some time for yourself?
As I’ve mentioned, I did this road trip solo. That means I had a lot of time to think and reflect. During this time, I decided there are a few things that are going to be changing. Rember, change is a good thing.
- Wilde Escape needs a direction. It’s been fun writing about what I want, but I want it to have a direction. I figure I can still write about the random things I’m thinking about, but knowing what I want for this blog is the goal. As of right now, I’m going to be focusing on travel and gear reviews.
- Although life on the road can be tricky (like finding a shower, where to get water, where you’re going to sleep, where you are going-no GPS signal, and where the nearest gas station is), I really did love it. And I want to do more of it!
- Revisiting the question I love to ask people and finding what truly makes me happy. That still goes back to when I’m experiencing new things and being outside. All that means is that I
wantneed to travel more.
What it all comes down to is that I love exploring this rock we call Earth. There are so many things to do that you would need multiple lifetimes to see it all.
Since getting back, I decided to sit down and create a bucket list (for the US and beyond) to make sure I’m getting the most out of my time and life. The crazy thing is that I’ve never had one.
I have had things I’ve wanted to do, like visit Ellis Island, but never sat down and made a list.
If you haven’t done this, I think you should. You might be surprised at how long it gets. Just remember to put local things. That way, you can never say there isn’t anything to do.
Having this list can also help you plan future trips. An example is that I want to visit all the National Parks. I’m happy to report this road trip knocked off a ton of them!
I’m going to leave you with something that I’ve been thinking a lot about.
If you didn’t know, over the last two years, my life has changed dramatically. I’ve written about it throughout this site, but two posts that come to mind are:
Over this time, my biggest takeaway is the most precious thing we have in life is time. It’s something, at least for now, we cannot ever get back after it’s gone, and we only have so much of it.
Unfortunately, we don’t know how much time we have. So keeping that in mind, I’ll leave you with a question. Feel free to respond in the comments below:
How Are You Planning on Spending Yours & What Was Your Last Escape?