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  1. Default Roadtrip from Portland, OR to Dallas, TX

    Sorry for the super long post! I am moving back to my home in Dallas. I do not have a lot of money to spend but since I am making this trip I do want to stop a few times along the way to sight see. I have done this route a million times. I've spent a lot of time in California, I've seen all the big destinations and this trip I am really looking for odd, interesting, different attractions. I would really like some suggestions for my trip! A few things... I am a single female traveler. I do not have the money to stay in hotels so I will be staying at rest stops. I am also open to staying at campsites if they are okay with sleeping in cars. I have done this before and it wasn't a problem. I keep myself protected, I have pepper spray, sleep in well lit areas, etc. Any advice on good places to stay?
    I am planning on taking the scenic route down highway 101. From there, hopping on interstate 10 and then onto highway 20.
    I have no set time frame. I'd really like to end my days early so I can spend more time seeing everything in daylight. My budget is around 1500-1800 for the entire trip including gas. I have a small car with great gas mileage.
    Here are the stops I plan on making so far (below). Any suggestions? Add ons? As I've said before I've done the big touristy things and im not really interested in seeing those again. I like science, space, rocks, art, and Egypt! I'm looking for a great art museum but not sure which one is best. Really looking for more places in az, nm, and tx but open to anything. Also, I'm a bit of a foodie so any really awesome suggestions for places to eat would be great.
    Gold beach books in gold beach or.
    Mcvay rock state recreation site in brookings, or
    Ocean world in crescent city, ca
    Chapman's gem and mineral shop and museum in fortuna, ca
    Golden gate mercantile in Ferndale, ca
    Nelson family vineyards in ukiah, ca
    Madame tussauds in san francisco, ca
    Golden gate tap room in san francisco, ca
    Old united states mint in san francisco, ca
    Rosicrucian Egyptian museum in san jose, ca
    Winchester mystery house in san jose, ca
    Monterey Bay aquarium in monterey, ca
    Moonstone beach in cambria, ca
    Bristols cider house in atascadero, ca
    Bubblegum alley in san luis, ca
    Griffith observatory in los angeles, ca
    Holocaust museum in los angeles, ca
    Hauser geode beds in blythe, ca
    Mystery Castle in phoenix, az


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default My first reaction.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    First thing I must say is that spending the night in a rest area, is possibly the most dangerous place you can sleep. Pepper spray notwithstanding.

    It is not recommended to sleep in your vehicle on a multi day trip, unless your vehicle has been set up for it, and you can lay flat and stretch out. It is the only way to get proper rest.

    If you have driven this route a lot - though I doubt the million times - I am surprised that you have not equipped yourself with a cheap tent, sleeping bag and mat. Much more comfortable than sleeping in a car.

    However, if your car is fit to sleep in, then by far the safest place to be is at truck stops. Truck stops are 24 hours, have people coming and going all the time and are well lit. Many also have extra security, and they are on the rounds of most law enforcement routes.

    As a fellow solo female traveller, here is how I do it, though I do have a bed in the back of my vehicle. I have a copy of the Truck Stop Directory, which lists the truck stops that make RVs welcome. These are the places where you can stay over night. I still go in and ask the folk at the desk if it is OK. They ask what vehicle I am in, and suggest the best spot to park. If they are not aware you are staying the night, the vehicle may be regarded as abandoned, and get towed. All the facilities you want are there, even a shower for a fee. Be sure to give them some of your business in return - fill up your tank, or have breakfast in their restaurant.

    I am not certain if commercial campgrounds would allow you to stay, but it would cost a bit. If you are going to choose campgrounds, look at State Parks and Forests. Sometimes you find that a town park will allow overnight parking, though I would always make sure I was not the only one. The only places where I would use rest areas, is in States like FL & MS, where armed guards are present.

    This way I have kept myself safe for tens of thousands of miles, and have never had a weapon of any sort. Pepper spray is useless when woken from a sleep, and drowsely trying to use it. Chances are you will end up having it used against you. Common sense will keep you safe.


  3. Default

    Thank you so much for the advice. I want to do this the safest way possible, I just don't have the income to spend nights in hotels the entire time. I've looked into couch surfing, but I am a bit weary of that. I'm not sure if I trust other people enough to leave myself and my belongings at risk when I am sleeping. My car is my only choice. I will definitely check out the guide you suggested. The times I have made this same trip before I was always in a position where I could stay in hotels so this is my second time relying on just my car to sleep. The first time was oh my way up here over 4 months ago and I was pretty nervous sleeping at a rest stop and ended up only napping once during the whole journey. It was a scary experience driving on such little sleep and I don't want a repeat of that. I will pay for a night in a hostel or hotel if needed but I would rather use the money for other aspects of my journey.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Couchsurfing and more.

    Have to say as a guest and as a host I have always found couchsurfing a wonderful experience. The lovely people who have stayed with me when visiting downunder, have often turned out to be my hosts when I visited up north.

    First you need to understand that couchsurfing is much more than a free night's accommodation. It is a community. After you register, you make immediate arrangements to get verified. Verification means a lot. Then you start to build references, as many as possible. This is all done well before you travel. Go to couchsurfing events in your area. Meet people and get to know them, and them you. Ask them to write you a reference, and do the same for them. Be prepared to host others before you travel, and get them to write references. Do the same for them. Or offer to take others around where you live, maybe a drive to one of your favourite spots, or somewhere where they might like to go. It is not all only about accommodation, it is about meeting travellers. Each person is the opportunity to get another reference.

    When I look for a host, I look at someone around my age, my gender or a couple and see how long they have been a member and read ALL their references and their profile. Then I contact them, and state my requirements, giving as many details about my trip as possible.

    When I am made welcome into someone's home I either bring a small gift or offer to do something for them - dishes, clean the bathroom, etc. Most times I take my host to dinner at a modest place of their choice. Guests have brought me gifts and sometimes asked what I might want. (From US visitors, that has always been instant coffee, as the instant coffee I like is no longer available where I live.)

    So, if you have time, get onto couchsurfing, and get to know people. You will find that others have to trust you as much as you have to trust them.

    Hostels are another favourite of mine, despite the fact that I am well and truly a senior citizen. This is probably the most comprehensive site for hostels world wide. I used to design my trip according to where the hostels were, and hostel hop from one side of the country to the other.

    Don't over look the hotel motel discount coupons. Sometimes I have picked up a room for little more than a hostel dorm bed.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Quote Originally Posted by jaynargilstrap View Post
    The first time was oh my way up here over 4 months ago and I was pretty nervous sleeping at a rest stop and ended up only napping once during the whole journey. It was a scary experience driving on such little sleep and I don't want a repeat of that.
    If you are going to sleep in your car, you should really never choose rest areas. They are really not safe places to spend the night - as they are usually not very well lit, far from cities/police patrols, and easy access to the highway makes for a quick getaway for criminals. Couchsurfing - with its reference system - is a much safer place to be for the night.

    When you do spend the night in your car, you should look for Truck Stops or campgrounds, which have far more in terms of security.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    If couch-surfing isn't an answer for you, then think about a cheap tent, sleeping bag and mat. You can pick these up at a big-box store for far-less than a $100 bill, especially if you can find them on sale. Get a decent mat, though. Your bones will appreciate it. With the tent outfit, you can sleep a lot more safely in a state park or national forest campground.

    Another place to save is on food. When not seeking out "foodie" places, you could keep something in a small cooler in your car.

    I'm with the rest of them, here ... there's no decent sleep to be had inside your car unless you have a way to stretch out completely. Use a tent/sleeping bag, a hostel, or a cheap motel (use coupons). Or perhaps a combination of all three!


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