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  1. Default Planning a trip from VA to CA.

    Hey me and my friend are planning a roadtrip this summer. We plan on leaving Virginia than heading to San Francisco,Ca.
    We plan on just sleeping in the back of my save money.

    What type of stuff are we going to encounter?
    How much money should we have?
    Any tips?
    What else should we have?

    Oh and last thing!
    What is the most scenic route? I def. want to go through Colorado!

    Tell me about your trip, thanks

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

    Default build to suit

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    One things you really need to keep in mind that there is no one sized fits all "most scenic" route across the country. Every way you go will have many many scenic features, and they will all be different. If you want to see Colorado, you should certainly build that into your route, but even there, you have many choices for how you want to go across the state, any of which could be a great option depending upon what you want to see.

    Its hard to say how much money you'll need, without knowing more details. How long do you plan to be on the road? Round Trip or One Way? What are your plans for eating and entertainment.

    Personally, I would really not recommend trying to sleep in the back of a truck as a great long term sleeping idea. Yes, it can be done, but that's going to be some very crowded space, and being able to get away from the car is also important at the end of the day. Even if you do, you'll need to think about where you'll be parking. You can stop for the night at a truck stop, but that's really not going to give you much room to get out and move around. I would recommend spending a few dollars on campsites where you'd have the option to sleep in your truck or in a tent, but then you'd also have some space of your own to relax after driving.

  3. #3


    I agree with Midwest about not sleeping the back of a truck. Getting away from the car is what I look forward to most at the end of a long driving day. To add to Midwest's comments, I'd like to bring up the safety issue. Sleeping in the open air of the back of a pick up without the supervision of a camp site may be dangerous.

  4. #4

    Default Here are some ideas to keep in mind

    Hello raedon,

    I'm in favor of some degree of pickup truck camping while on a RoadTrip. In fact, I'm planning several nights of exactly that in July 2010 as I drive from Raleigh, NC to western Montana, and back.

    By the time I leave, I will have purchased a camper shell cover for my 8' bed fullsize truck and I'll frame a bunk alongside. The space beside and below the bunk will be for fishing and camping gear. My bunk will be wide enough for two (barely) even though my wife is flying out and back this time (we're staying in National Forest cabins while in MT).

    I favor the "bunk in back of the truck" simply for efficiency during the several overnights I'll spend driving out and back. I've tent-camped on a RoadTrip before, and setting up and tearing down get to be a bit of a pain. Whether it's rain or just morning dew/mist, dealing with a tent which is always wet is no fun.

    If you'll be in a covered pickup bed, consider a poly tarp and a couple of support poles and guy lines to stakes which you can quickly erect behind the truck to provide shelter as you get in and out, and to provide covered space for cooking and eating. A piece of Astroturf for the ground you'd be standing on will help keep mud and dirt out of the inside of the truck, too. Like the tarp overhead, that will be easy to break down and stow in the morning, and easy to erect at night.

    You'll want to bring a good-sized cooler for food and drinks, and at least one smaller cooler to keep in the pickup cab in order to avoid opening the big cooler every time you want water or a soda. The ice in the big cooler will last much longer if you minimize the opening and closing by stocking up the little cooler in the morning, then leaving it closed as much as possible for the rest of the day.

    You'll probably want a Coleman or similar camp stove for cooking. Bring a 5-gallon water jug for fresh water and maybe even a couple or three 1-gallon collapseable water jugs. Planning ahead and having water available will enable you to camp at unimproved campsites, most of which are free. You'll also want two 5-gallon "solar showers" which will heat water during the day and provide a suprisingly refreshing warm shower in the evening on an evening when you're at an unimproved campsite. You'll be amazed at how quickly they'll reach 110 degrees F just by spending a couple of hours on the dashboard of the truck in the late afternoon sun.

    And speaking of campsites, start making yourself aware of the great number and variety of campgrounds out West. From Virginia across much of the Midwest, you'll see mostly commercial campgrounds and state and local parks with camping. Once you get to the Rockies and beyond, the National Forests feature almost limitless numbers of campsites, many of them free or dirt cheap. I am pretty sure the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has lots of campgrounds, too. The BLM controls more acreage in the West than the Forest Service.

    You will for certain want a national campground guidebook such as Woodalls. Such will provide a location, description, phone number, etc for commercial and government-owned campgrounds anywhere you're heading. I won't leave home without one when I intend to camp.

    Invest in a good national highway atlas and get used to using it. GPS is nice, but there is no complete substitute for having a map and knowing how to read it.

    If you want to see Colorado and have some time, enter the Rockies at Rocky Mountain National Park, go over the Divide on Trail Ridge Road (reaching elevations of + 11,000'), descend to Granby, then take US 40 the rest of the way across CO into UT and keep on US 40 all the way to Park City, UT, where it joins I-80. If you choose to stay on Interstates after that, I-80 takes you all the way from Park City, UT to San Francisco. Some planning and forethought is in order for the section from Salt Lake City to Reno, NV, as that's the Great Basin desert and water and campgrounds are more scarce. It would not surprise me, however, to find publicly-owned campsites close to I-80 in the many small mountain ranges within the Great Basin.

    I'd be sure to install a CB radio. Once west of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, you'll want to be able to listen in to the truckers to collect information concerning road, traffic, and weather conditions ahead. They can be a pretty entertaining bunch to listen to as they're just talking back and forth, too.

    You've got lots of homework to do to plan your trip, but to me that's a big part of the fun of a RoadTrip.


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