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  1. Default From Pennsylvania to South Dakota, Help!

    Well I just turned 18 and want to go on a solo road trip to Mount Rushmore. Kinda scared as ive never drove outta state. Is there like a complete begginers guide to this kinda thing? Really just curious as where to stay and what to see on the way. Where can you stay cheaply? Is it legal to sleep in your car at rest stops? Where are you allowed to camp? Is it permitted to camp at state parks? Where can you stop when you get bored of driving, and have something to do? So many questions....

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks for the advice Midwest Micheal

    I should clarify a bit more, my biggest concern is where i will sleep at night. I dont really wanna stay at motels the whole trip and I think i would really enjoy camping instead, but i dont know the rules and regulations of where you can stay and all that. Where do you camp on a park that allows camping? Anywhere? Is there designated spots? If so, how do you find said spots? Last time i went camping was when i was like twelve and didnt have to worry bout such things. I should also say this is my first road trip and i am quite nervous.

    Any more advice anyone? Please help me out.
    Last edited by chestnut1643; 05-23-2006 at 05:36 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Let the journey begin

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I think your best bet would be to head to the Travel Planning section of this website and just start reading. You'll find lots of articles and suggestions to help get you on your way.

    As far as sleeping, camping is a cheap way to go. Many, but not all state parks do allow camping. On an atlas, State parks will be marked with a tree symbol, while state parks that allow camping will have a triangle camping symbol next to the tree.

    Generally speaking, sleeping in rest areas is neither safe nor legal.

    As far as what to do when you get bored with driving, you can always pull into a town and ask the locals. You'll almost always find something neat that you never would have thought of otherwise.

    Good luck and enjoy the journey.

  3. Default 1st Road Trip, Need Some Advice About Camping

    Ok so im planning on going on my first road trip here in two weeks to Mount Rushmore from Pennsylvania. Im going alone and want to get there as cheaply as possible. I got some great advice from this site and forums but i was hoping someone could help me with some camping questions i have.

    Camping seems like a cheap way to go when on a roadtrip so i plan to do a bit of it, unfortunetly last time i went camping i was like 11 years old. So i dont know the rules regarding it. I know you can find a park that allows camping on a map east enough but what do you do when youve chosen one? I doubt you can just pull into a park and camp anywhere, or can you? Are there designated spots? If so how do you locate these spots from where you intially pull in? Are there certain hours to which you have to be there by?

    Any advice would be appreciated.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default Park by Park

    There will be some variation from park by park, and between public and private campgrounds, but the basics will remain the same.

    You pull up to the park and check in at the ranger station. From there you will either be assigned a site, or they will allow you to drive around the campground and pick your own site and then come back and pay for it.

    If you pull in after hours or at a very small campground, generally there will be a self registration station, where you will go into the campground, pick your site and then drop your information and money in an evelope drop box.

    However, some places, do not allow after hours registration at all, and will have gates to prevent non-paid people from getting into the campground. It varies a lot from park to park, but Illinios happens to be particualrly strict about this, and I've even seen "Severe Tire Damage" warnings to make sure people stay out after hours.

    I would recommend that before you take off on your roadtrip, you spend at least one night camping in a local campground. Its the best way to figure out what problems you might have with your equiptment as well as to figure out what things you will actually want and need at your campsite before you are trying to set up camp hundreds of miles from home.

  5. Default

    Michaels advice is pretty much spot on. I might add a couple of codas to it..

    If you're a member, or your family is a member, get down to the AAA office and and get their camping guides. Very good books, and free to AAA members. Those will list campgrounds, including a list of what amenities they might have (pool, showers, laundry facilities. etc.) and give phone numbers, and if the campgrounds take reservations.

    Depending upon where you are going, and when, you might consider calling ahead and getting some campground resevations if you're concerned about getting in them. And if you're coming in late, you might want to call ahead to make sure you can get in.

    For camping I assume you have some of the basic camping supplies already? An icechest, sleeping bag, pad, tent, stove/ pot etc? I've got a combination of car camping and backpacking stuff, so it goes in my car pretty easily, isn't a huge bunch to haul out, set up, etc -- but its enough to be comfortable. At the minimum, I'd recommend an inexpensive tent (like $50), a foam camping pad (like $20), and a good sleeping bag (less then $100 -- depending upon lightness, materials etc.). An ice chest is like $25-50 (you'll want one large enough to carry lunch and dinner supplies for a few days), and a backpacking stove is like $20, or a reasonable camping stove is like the same.

    I'd recommend some cash and a credit card too -- I find I like to stay in a moderate/ inexpensive hotel about every 3rd night to get a lonnnngg hot shower and pamper myself (including cable TV!) and a soft bed. Your mileage may vary. You may also want to treat yourself to fast food or restaurant meals every so often too, rather than make sandwiches or cook yourself. And of course you'll need to buy food, gas, ice etc.. at some point. And think about the weather too -- you may end up camping somewhere in the rain, or it make be cooler or hotter than where you started from.

    I would also recommend if you're not comfortable with this -- go camping one weekend. Pick a local campground somewhere reasonably close (like an hour away), load everything up, and go camp for the weekend. It'll give you a chance to figure out how to put up your tent, and find out what that important essential is you forgot to pack. (Everyone forgets something.. just so its not important like toilet paper or matches for the stove or something...)

    I do a lot of car camping on trips and I've pretty much got my pack list down to a standard list. It goes in a couple of storage boxes and in the back of my SUV, and given an hour's notice I can go just about anywhere and be comfortable camping. I like the car camping route because its moderately inexpensive (camping for me typically runs $15-20 a night at a campground), and food runs me $15 or less a day.. so my major expense is gas. And since I'm out of the buildings and actually out somewhere, I feel I get more of an experience of the area.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Great advice so far!

    Both Michael and Larrison gave great advice. (And I'm thrilled to find another campaholic, Larrison!) I'll just add a few thoughts.

    If this is a fairly short trip, I wouldn't worry about buying a camping stove if you don't already have one. You can make a great variety of meals without having to cook. When I know I want to burn miles, I rarely take a campstove. And I usually only eat in a restaurant every other day. Yet I have a varied, healthy diet by eating out of a cooler. Just an option to consider.

    And I believe you can find a perfectly adequate sleeping bag for closer to $15 at a discount store like a Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target, or Costco. We bought some a few years ago for about $12 because we don't like using our qualitty backpacking sleeping bags when we car camp and our kids seemed to have absconded with our other bags. And, to be honest, I really prefer the comfy, fleece-lined bags over the nylon backpacking ones. Anyway, you won't want to winter camp in the inexpensive bags and, even in the summer, you will probably want an extra blanket to throw over you if it gets cool at night, but you don't need to spend all that much for a decent bag to sleep in.

    I think going to a nearby campground to set up camp and learning how to use your equipment before you leave is a great idea. But if you don't have the time to do that, why not set up camp in your backyard? If you're gonna use a campstove, cook in the backyard, too? You don't need to leave home to camp....or at least practice camping.

    I'm not opposed to the idea of staying in a hotel now-and-then while on the road. However, you don't need to do that to get a nice shower. Some campgrounds are actually very resort-like. You might plan to stay in cheaper campgrounds most nights if you need to save money and then splurge at a more resort-style campground every couple of nights. Many commercial campgrounds have pools, hot tubs, and decent bathing facilities. KOA's often have these amenities. You really don't need to go to a motel for these things if you don't want to or can't.

    If you do find you need to sleep in your car, one of our contributors (Gen) has done a lot of sleeping at truck stops. Ya know, the big gas stations geared toward commercial truck drivers. You might do a search by her name to read some of her posts on this issue.

    Like Larrison, I can throw a duffle bag in the car with the sleeping gear and tent, and another duffle bag with the cooking gear, and then a cooler with some food/drink and then I'm good to go. It's really a great way to travel.

    And if you're traveling solo, you will probably find a bit more camaraderie on the road when camping. After you set up your tent, walk around the campground. Many people are out walking and doing things so it's easy to strike up a conversation with folks. I've met the most amazing people this way. I travel solo sometimes myself and it's nice to get some people contact once in awhile like this.

    Hope this all helps relieve any concerns you have. Enjoy!

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