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  1. Default Road Tripping around the U.S. From Michigan & Back

    Hi there,

    I have always wanted to take a long road trip through the states. I've done a significant amount of traveling thus far in life (I'm 25 years old) but I have yet to go on any substantial road trips -with the exception of traveling to Florida a few times. Right now I have the time, the money and the independence I need to be able to cross this off my bucket list. I'd like to do a loop trip. Starting in Michigan and ending in Michigan. I want to visit various national parks but I also plan on making my way to a few major cities as well. Thus far, my trip looks like a big figure eight. Starting in Michigan heading to Texas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California (San Francisco), Oregon, British Columbia (Vancouver), then essentially driving back with 4-5 stops in between to sleep. If it isn't apparent already, I could use some advice. I'd like to be able to pick some people up along the way via ride share but I am unsure of how safe that actually is. I intend to do couch surfing, motels/hotels and friends couches mostly. I am giving myself a month to travel. I would like to leave Michigan on the 1st of October, which would give me almost four solid weeks of traveling. Any and all advice is welcomed and appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    A few things come to mind, as I read your post.

    First, starting in October might mean you should start heading north first, since the northern parts of the US are likely to get into winter earlier than places like Texas. Some national parks, such as Yellowstone, go into winter mode in mid-to-late September.

    Second, crossing the border means that you need to have a passport. Perhaps this isn't a problem for you.

    Third, if you are planning to couch surf in stranger's homes, you will need to start getting verified already. Remember that it is polite to either bring a small housegift for a host family, buy them dinner, clean a bathroom or similar, something to show your appreciation - this is something we do when we bunk in with family or friends along a trip, and I would think it would be even more important with folks you meet online.

    As far as picking up riders along the way -- I have children your age, and would definitely advise them not to do that. However, others here may have a totally different opinion about it.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A few months to do your homework.

    As you start your planning, you can't do better than follow the advice in this paragraph -

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck
    Start with maps. Not GPS, not software, not Google, but real honest-to-god paper maps that show you your entire route, that you can mark up (and erase), that you can stick pins in, and that show something about the land you'll be driving through. Those are your essential tool in any RoadTrip planning process. Start by marking all the places you know you want to visit. Then connect the dots. Then look for more places of interest and scenic routes along the lines connecting the dots. Repeat until you've got as many sites and roads as you think you want.
    Good maps are those such as are produced by AAA (free to members) and Rand McNally. If using AAA I'd get maps of all the mainland States and Canadian Provinces you plan to cover. The Rand McNally road atlas, of course, has all the States and provinces in it. Good detailed maps are invaluable during the planning stage and essential when on the road. Don't be tempted to rely solely on your electronics. Many have done so at their peril, some fatal.

    Don't overlook hostels. These are a great place to stay for solo travellers. Some are better than others, and we all look for different things in hostel accommodation. Just make sure there is a locker for each bed, and that it can be locked with your own padlock. Carry a medium size padlock. However most if not all will give you the opportunity to meet other solo travellers and often have lists of people looking for a ride to certain destinations. For that reason I suggest you keep your plans flexible. It may just be that you meet someone who wants to go to a place of which you had never thought, and which really appeals to you.

    I agree with the advice above. Never ever pick up a total stranger, especially someone hitch hiking. People you meet at the hostel you at least have a little time to meet them and sum them up, see if you could put up with that personality. Whenever I gave a ride to anyone from a hostel I always insisted that they proof to me that they were not carrying drugs or weapons.

    As for couchsurfing, which I have also done quite a bit, get involved with the organisation now, and attend their activities in your area - or an area close by. Ask folk you meet to write you references, and return the favour to them. And of course apply for all the verification available to new members. It is what hosts and guests look for. At the same time I would start looking for likely folk in the areas you have in mind, and start some sort of 'conversation' with them. Be aware that some folk only offer to show you around their area. Others are happy to host overnight. Yet others will help you with suggestions for their region. Furthermore, start offering your services now. Make it clear on your profile what you are willing to do. Show young travellers round the local clubs; show them your favourite routes and sights; offer overnight accommodation, or whatever.

    When you are looking for hotels / motels, look for the coupon booklets at rest areas and some welcome centres and truck stops. These often have good deals in them. As a solo traveller, always ask to see the room before committing, check that the smoke detector has not been disabled and that you can lock the door with the chain lock or similar.

    I love solo travelling, have covered many thousands of miles alone.

    Have a great trip.


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