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  1. Default Utah, Arizona, New Mexico

    Just found this site and I'm loving it so far! I'm Azzah from Vancouver, Canada and I am planning a 19 day roadtrip next year in April! Turning 40 and I thought this would be such a great entry!

    I'm going to be heading out in an suv rental and will be spending half my time staying in my suv and half my time finding hostels.

    I have so many questions but I don't want to overwhelm you guys so I'll start with just a couple! Thanks in advance for your replies!

    1) Safety - I'm a female who is 5 feet tall. I'm wondering, if I stay at some well known truck stops, could this be a possible safety issue? I have read quite a bit about solo female travelers at truck stops and it seems to be fine but I was wondering if any of you had some hands on experience that you could share with me:)

    2) I thought of flying into Vegas and heading straight to Zion National Park. This is about as far as I've gotten! haha My question is, is it better to have a detailed itinerary before leaving or can I just calculate my time in each state and then learn more about what I want to see closer to the time that I'm there.

    I'm a little overwhelmed to be honest. I feel like there is so much to see and so much to figure out that I'm going to miss something.

    Any tips would help. I guess I could tell you a bit about the things I like doing so if you have any tips that would be great! I love trying out activities wherever I go. Anything from bungee jumping, to hiking, to swimming, anything really! I love to see beautiful natural sites (ex. Bryce Canyon looks unreal!) I love to camp and I love to meet new people!

    Okay that's enough for now, sorry for overwhelming you guys which I thought I would not do!

    Thanks!

    Azzah

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    10,123

    Default A Few First Answers

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Let me start by saying that as a 6'3" 200+lb. male, I'm not the one that should be assuring you that you will unquestionably be safe if you sleep overnight in your SUV at a Truck Stop. Others have done it without incident; truck plazas can be well-lit places with modest foot traffic through the night and are often patrolled; you can and should inform the night crew that you'll be out there; and it's relatively easy to draw attention to yourself by hitting the horn or your key's 'Panic' button. But those things don't necessarily ensure your safety and in fact tend to work against getting a good night's sleep. So it's a strategy I would generally recommend against, but have frequently used myself in the past.

    You may very well get arguments on both sides of the 'planned' vs. 'wing it' philosophy for a longish RoadTrip. Again, I've done both and tend to come down more on the side of planning. That doesn't mean that you should, or could, know what you're going to be doing every minute of every day, but you should have a strong grasp of what will be available to you as you travel around. If there are world-class national parks near the end of your time, you don't want to be wasting time early on your journey and find yourself having to head for home with regrets. So yes, plan out the big items, but leave time for the occasional serendipitous find.

    If you plan on camping a bit, are looking to meet people, and are striving to save money, then by all means, look into making heavy use of our national forest system. These tend to be both cheaper and more generally available than national park campsites, even when they're in the same area - often literally next door.

    And one final bit of general advice, particularly if you're relatively new to RoadTriping and haven't developed a personal travel style yet. Don't fall for the temptation to try to do too much. A day spent in a major national park such as Bryce Canyon is a day well spent. A half day's drive to get there, a few hours there, and another chunk of your day to move on to your next stop is not. Take it easy; less is way more; there's always tomorrow, next year, and many years after that.

    As you develop your trip and start to have more questions, please feel free to come back.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 12-09-2016 at 07:47 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,177

    Default From the other side.

    Mine is the opposite to Buck in almost every way. As a solo female roadtripper, and not all that much taller than yourself, I rarely plan anything more than a few days ahead (unless I need to book someplace), and since purchasing my van, spend a good proportion of my nights at truck stops.

    When I embarked on my first roadtrip I was half as old as you again. Twelve years later I bought my van and have slept in that for most of the time, usually at truck stops. For comfort and safety you need to have a vehicle in which you can comfortably sleep, and have some privacy while still leaving sufficient reoom for your luggage and other supplies.

    Be aware that not all truck stops allow overnight parking - even some large ones. This publication is the best guide to which truck stops welcome overnight parking of RVs. Even in an suv, it will be an RV for their purposes. It is not only courtesy, but also for security that you let those in charge know that you wish to park overnight. Sometimes you will be told where to park, other times it is up to you, so long as you are not near the building or anywhere you may impede publ9ic access. The staff usually are aware of what is going on outside and some employ security during the night. Law inforcement officers often do loops through the place during the night.

    Honestly, I can't think of a time that I have felt uncomfortable, unsafe or in danger.

    My trips are normally not planned in detail. But if you plan not to set up a day by day itinerary, be sure that you have studied good maps in detail and have done your research so you know what is where. If you have a good understanding of what you want to see and where it is, it is possible to wing it. But if you hit the road without any knowledge of the areas you plan to visit, i.e. not knowing where accommodation, eating places and attractions are, you will end up wasting a lot of time making enquireies. Time you could be spending enjoying yourself at whatever you are looking for. Be sure to carry good maps.

    If you are a member of your local branch of the CAA, be sure to bring your membership with you. It will give you access to the AAA for tourism information wherever you travel.

    For hostels, check out this site. Hostels and other budget accommodation are listed. In popular areas it is advisable to call beforehand to make sure they are not sold out. I would stick to hostels, where you can cook your own meals, where they have extensive information about the surrounding area, and ones which run tours at a discount.

    Lifey

  4. Default

    Thanks so much for both of your advice! It's definitely opposite of one another but I think that I'm going to take bits and pieces of both and put it into practice! Thank you also for the links, honestly any information will help at this point! My biggest concern was safety but I'm learning more and more that, with the right mindset and common sense of safety precautions, it will not be an issue!

    I was thinking of renting an SUV from Vegas and then dropping it off in New Mexico and flying back to Vancouver from there. I thought it would be much more expensive dropping off to a different location but it only ends up being a hundred dollars more!

    Thank you so much and if you know of any must see/do items for Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, please let me know:)

    Thanks!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,733

    Default

    On a practical level, I don't like the idea of sleeping in a rental SUV. Certainly it is possible to convert a vehicle into a place you can get a good nights sleep, it generally requires some modifications that you can't really do (at least not easily) in a rental. By renting, you don't even know what specific model of SUV you are going to get until you pick it up, so you can't know things like if the seats will fold flat, if you'll have room to fit some kind of mattress, if you'll have tinted windows, etc.

    Also on a practical issue, if you're planning to be visiting National Parks, you really won't be around many Truck Stops, or would have to drive long distances to find them.

    But while you won't be around Truck Stops, you will be around a lot of campgrounds - as since you say you love to camp and meet people, I wonder why you wouldn't instead pack a tent and use that as your primary place to spend the night?

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post

    But while you won't be around Truck Stops, you will be around a lot of campgrounds - as since you say you love to camp and meet people, I wonder why you wouldn't instead pack a tent and use that as your primary place to spend the night?
    Michael are there many campgrounds around that you don't need to book far in advance for?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    7,177

    Default Yes and No.

    Quote Originally Posted by Smithstakeontheworld View Post
    Michael are there many campgrounds around that you don't need to book far in advance for?
    From my experience, and if you are not too close to a NP, you can usually find a spot if you arrive well before dark If you are concerned, it does not hurt to make a call a day or two in advance. However, if you will be in the area at the time of a national public holiday, such as Memorial Day, 4th July or Labor Day, you will need to book well in advance.

    Lifey

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,733

    Default

    Even most National Park campgrounds have at least a few "first come, first served' sites. You often have to be there right away in the morning, to claim them as others leave, but that is an option.

    Outside of NPs, there are also often other camping options, including National Forests, State Park, BLM campgrounds, that don't fill up quite as quickly.

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