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  1. Default Northwest to South and Northeast, Solo Trip

    hey! i'm so excited to be a part of this forum and website.

    i'm a 26 year old woman looking to get away for a while. i moved back to my hometown in the southern oregon this year after 8 years of being away. since i moved, i thought about going on a solo road trip across america. i've always wanted to do it, and as a photographer, there are a million opportunities for me to shoot along the way. i recently drove to boise, id, and had an amazing journey with my medium format camera.

    ---------------

    concerns:

    *the few larger gaps in between cities that i'm staying in--where i need somehwere to stay.
    *i'm not planning on sleeping in many hotels, so i need to figure this out before i go.
    *gas prices: OUCH. i'm just going to deal with it, but should i fill up in certain parts of the country that are significantly cheaper than others?
    *getting lost. i've travelled all over in the last 8 years, but my experience with things like mapquest--is that there are "gray" areas...where i have to make an educated guess of what the directions mean.
    *equipment: GPS? emergency kits, protection (ie...weapons?) as a woman, i feel like i need to be prepared
    *insurance/AAA
    *exercize - driving so much that my body will feel the toll. i'd like to be able to stay fit on my trip.
    *getting tired of driving on my own. never went this far, do any of you ever feel like giving up?

    -------------------


    so far, destinations/stops along the way possibly include:

    (starting in so. oregon)

    *missoula, mt (best friend moved there recently)
    *salt lake city, ut (friend lives there, will spend a few days exploring different areas south of slc)
    *yellowstone national park
    *denver, co (for fun, need ideas. built a house there last year, but never lived there)
    *grand canyon (any of the southwest would be awesome, mostly would like to explore old towns or amazing landscapes
    HUGE GAP TO FILL HERE!
    *little rock, arkansas (friend lives there, but not a sure stop)
    HUGE GAP TO FILL HERE!
    *Georgia (don't care where, give me ideas. i want to explore the south. huge area of interest for me on so many levels. no family or friends live here)
    *Jacksonville, FL (staying for a week)
    *Charlotte, NC (staying for a week)
    *Onancock, Virginia (staying for a week)

    --------------------

    i have no return date, only places to go. i'm sure i'll be posted before my return home just so i have ideas about things to do on the way back. i'm so excited, yet want to be fully prepared about what to expect.

    thanks!
    -k

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default As the road goes

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    *the few larger gaps in between cities that i'm staying in--where i need somehwere to stay.
    *i'm not planning on sleeping in many hotels, so i need to figure this out before i go.
    I guess the question here then would be where do you plan to sleep if not hotels? And then why do you need to figure out where you will be staying in advance?

    There are huge range of options from sleeping in your car, to hostels, to camping, etc. But with pretty much any of those options, and an unlimited timeframe, you certainly wouldn't need to prebook anything.

    *gas prices: OUCH. i'm just going to deal with it, but should i fill up in certain parts of the country that are significantly cheaper than others?
    You might be able to save a little money by filling up in states where fuel taxes are lower or there are fewer regulations on fuel blends, (the Fuel Cost Calculator has some tools to show you where things are cheapest and most expensive) but since your still going to have to fill up every few hundred miles, you aren't really going to be able to save too much over the long haul.

    *getting lost.
    Getting lost is always a possibility, and it can be part of the fun. It also is a good reason to not over-rely on tools like Mapquest.

    *getting tired of driving on my own. never went this far, do any of you ever feel like giving up?
    I've never had the problem, but it can be a concern. Keeping your driving days shorter should help to a degree. Be sure to check out the Solo Roadtrips for lots more ideas about traveling by yourself, including a few articles aimed at women travelers.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Wow...can I tag along?

    Seriously....I've always dreamed of having the time for something like this. Go for it and enjoy.

    Quote Originally Posted by wrecklessgirl View Post
    concerns:

    *the few larger gaps in between cities that i'm staying in--where i need somehwere to stay.
    *i'm not planning on sleeping in many hotels, so i need to figure this out before i go.
    Are you planning on camping? Here are some good guides to campgrounds. The Frommer's at the top is a good one. But I kinda prefer the Woodall's Tent Camping Guide because it leaves out places that cater to those with RVs. Since I tent camp, it's best for me.

    If you're a member of AAA (and I recommend it considering the trip you're going on), their free guides are worth getting, too.

    Like Michael, I'm unclear why you feel you need to have this figured out before you go. The beauty of being able to travel without time restrictions is that you can meander and explore. If you come across a beautiful place with great camping sites, you can just decide to stay there and not worry about getting behind schedule. I wouldn't over-plan your trip. I think that would ruin the experience.


    *gas prices: OUCH. i'm just going to deal with it, but should i fill up in certain parts of the country that are significantly cheaper than others?
    I agree with Michael. Just fill as you go and not sweat this. You'll burn up more gas trying to get to cheaper places than you would if you just fill up as needed.

    *getting lost. i've travelled all over in the last 8 years, but my experience with things like mapquest--is that there are "gray" areas...where i have to make an educated guess of what the directions mean.
    Michael and I are really in-synch today. Some of my best memories and most beautiful "finds" along the road have been because I've gotten lost. And, with all the time you have for this trip, considering getting lost a time for serendipity. Obviously, if you're on a road that seems to be going nowhere and is getting narrower and less maintained as you go, it's time to turn back! But this should be part of the fun and the experience. Again, don't over-plan!

    And don't depend on computer maps and things like Mapquest. Yeah, they're handy to help do some advance planning. But nothing beats paper maps when you're on the road. This is another place where AAA comes in handy. Lots of free maps!

    *equipment: GPS? emergency kits, protection (ie...weapons?) as a woman, i feel like i need to be prepared
    Check out this thread. It contains links to other threads where we've discussed these issues. I love my GPS for geocaching but I've never really cared to use it for routing on the road. I still prefer paper maps for this. If you have the money to spend for a good one, go for it. But, if it was me, I'd save the money for the trip. Those threads should give you more than enough advice on what to pack for emergencies. This website sells some pre-packaged kits that are pretty nice.

    Weapons? I never travel with one...and I'm a woman who has traveled and camped solo. That same website has a page with personal safety gear. To be honest, I'm not sure if pepper spray or something similar is worth it. I think they could just as easily grab it and use it on you. I do think something with an alarm would be a good idea. People could hear that better than hearing you call for help. (Maybe I should order this myself.)

    But, really, the best defense is using common-sense. Don't be paranoid. Just use the same "personal safety radar" that you use every day.

    *insurance/AAA
    I assume you already have good car insurance. I am a big fan of AAA. Get the Plus membership so you get up to 100 miles of towing. It doesn't cost much more and the extra mileage will be worth it if you need a tow.

    *exercize - driving so much that my body will feel the toll. i'd like to be able to stay fit on my trip.
    Well, I have the opposite problem. I run around exploring and hiking more than I take time for at home. I usually return home in better shape than when I left. Again, with your loose time-frame, this shouldn't be an issue. If you're a runner or walker, just plan time to stop and run or walk at some intriguing place along the way. It could be a hiking trail, park, beach, lake, whatever. You have plenty of time to do this. Add in a few extra hikes and explorations and you should get more than enough exercise.

    Oh, and to both save money and to eat healthier, eat most of your meals out of your cooler. Refill at full-size grocery stores along the way. I also usually eat healthier on the road than I do at home. Go figure. Fruits, sliced veggies, nuts, cheese, granola, protein bars, crackers, good bread, sandwich fixings, bagels, cream cheese...most of this doesn't even need to be in a cooler with ice to stay fresh and you're set for some delicious meals. Stop and have picnics at parks, nice rest stops, scenic viewpoints, rivers/lakes, and then get that walk or run in and you'll be fine.


    *getting tired of driving on my own. never went this far, do any of you ever feel like giving up?
    I've never gotten to travel for long enough where I feel like this. I enjoy the solitude and making new friends along the way. if you're tired of driving, why not just stop and stay awhile someplace along the way that you are really enjoying? Without a tight time-frame, you could easily decide to spend a few days or a week at someplace along the way that you've fallen in love with and recharge your batteries.

    I won't comment on your route at this time except to say that it looks like a heckuva great trip! Those huge gaps will be easy to fill. Get some guidebooks for those areas from AAA (free with your membership) and request the free information that the various state tourism offices will send out to you, and then, again, DON'T OVER-PLAN! Simply use these for reference and pull off the road at whatever looks interesting. Just following signs along the road will be a great trip and the unknown is half the fun.

    i
    'm so excited, yet want to be fully prepared about what to expect.
    I'm excited for you. Envious, too. But don't be so hung up on being "fully prepared". Leave room for getting lost, for serendipity, and for taking an unplanned and unprepared for meandering. It could be the highlight of your trip.
    Last edited by PNW Judy; 05-22-2007 at 11:59 AM. Reason: typo

  4. Default

    wow! thank you so much for all these tips, they definitely put me at ease, and give me more things to think about. i like the idea of camping solo. but...is it safe? i have never done it - i could borrow a tent from family members...but i think for the most part, i'll be staying with friends along the way.

    so far, my friend in slc, ut - is going to go with me to southern utah to some state parks (canyon?) - and then travel with me to colorado and take a flight back home. from colorado, i'm still needing a place to visit between denver area, and arkansas.

    thanks so so much for all the info! i'm very grateful! the exercize tips are helpful too!
    <3 kristy

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default Camping/Friends

    If you have enough friends spread out across the country to stay with friends, you're a lucky gal. However, if it were me, I would need some time alone, too. So I would alternate a bit to get some quiet time.

    I've camped solo numerous times. I also used to camp a lot with my kids when they were little, without my husband with us, because I didn't work then and we could get away more than he could during the summer. I never felt unsafe or that I was endangering my kids. You just have to use good common-sense.

    National/State/BLM/County parks will often have secluded campsites. I do tend to avoid those when solo for a campsite that's a bit more visible to others. Because I like to strike up conversations anyway, I will often try to camp near a larger group, preferably a family, and introduce myself a visit a bit. I figure this way they might be inclined to pay attention if they here anything that sounds wrong coming from my tent area in the middle of the night. However, I'm not paranoid about this. I've never even had anything stolen from a campsite if I've left it for awhile to go hiking or swimming.

    Commercial campgrounds tend to be more open, without much privacy. I just don't see how anything could happen to you there without tons of people hearing/seeing it.

    Of course, there are no guarantees with anything but, yeah, I would say you'd be perfectly safe.

    With the length of time you're planning on traveling, I think this would be a nice option. You might come across someplace that really amazes you and want to stay for awhile. It would be nice to pitch your tent and spend a day or 2 or 7.

    Minimum gear you'll need to camp comfortably:
    * small tent - You can buy a decent tent for $35-50. I would look for a small 2 person tent...this gives you a bit more room to stretch out. And I would look for one with only 2 poles. Easy up/easy down. Do it a few times at home before you leave so you know how and are sure you have all the right parts and that nothing is wrong with it before you go.
    * sleeping pad - for roughly $30-50, depending on size/depth, you can get a nice sleeping pad that is self-inflating and rolls up into a small size to stow away in your car
    * pillow - I'd bring a full-size pillow. Heck, I usually prefer my own pillow even in hotels anyway and it's nice to have along for a nap even in your car.
    * sleeping bag - you don't need anything fancy, just an inexpensive bag will do
    * blankets - I think you should always travel with a blanket anyway. You never know when you'll need one. And you might sometimes want it for extra warmth at night.
    * lantern - a small one would be handy. You can get battery-operated ones so you don't have to deal with gas-powered if you're not comfortable with that. However, the batteries will get expense over time. If you find you're doing a lot of camping, you might want to invest in a gas one. I tend to use the battery ones when I'm road-tripping and only bring a gas one along if I'm mainly going on a camping trip. When I'm road-tripping, I don't typically spend that much time hanging around the campground so I need the lantern less.

    That's it. Easy to pack and doesn't take up much space. Optional things that you might want if you think you'll end up camping a lot.
    * cooking gear - 1-burner stove, small cookset (like scouts use), and a few utensils like spatula, big spoon, etc. Buy a scrubber and a small bottle of "camping suds" type dishwashing liquid and you're set. If you buy smaller, backpacking style equipment, this doesn't take up much room either but offers you a nice option to eating out all the time, or always just eating cold foods from your cooler.
    * telescoping chair or chaise - the old-fashioned fold up ones work, too, but these telescoping ones fold up so small and are so comfortable

    Personally, I would really get worn out staying with other people all the time. I think this would give you a nice option. You might try an overnight camping trip by yourself before you leave on your trip to see how you like it.

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