In a world where airplanes can take you across the country in a matter of hours, there’s nothing like setting out in your truck for a multi-thousand-mile Great American Roadtrip. Hopefully that resonates…you are looking at vehicle-based adventure website!
Planning and completing one of these trips is pretty achievable – there’s a short and obvious list of things you need to get started – time (7+ days), money (as much or little as your taste and gas prices require), a vehicle, and a little Google-fu. Beyond the basics, here’s some things I’ve picked up along the way in planning big trips.
- Shoot for destinations 2+ driving days away. There are plenty of awesome trips you can take within a day’s drive of home, but this isn’t one of them. At least 2 days driving time is going to force you to find some sort of mid-point, maybe a place you probably would have never chosen to stay in unless you were headed thousands of miles from home on the road. Without these multi-day road trips I’d probably never have set foot in places like Columbia, Missouri, Canadian, Texas, and Portland, Maine, but I’m glad I have!
- Plan, but don’t over-plan. Don’t plan things down to the hour, or even the day, really. Figure out what your short list of “must sees/must dos” are, and do enough planning to make sure you achieve those, but beyond that, try to make an effort not to plan too much – leave days open for the unexpected. We go as far as to not plan where we will stay each night, because it’s fun to decide spur-of-the-moment sometimes.
- Learn about the areas you pass through. When Becca and I are traveling we’ll look up facts and histories of the states and towns as we pass through – keeps things interesting and helps pass the time in the truck. That definitely helps in places like Kansas that seemingly never end.
- Take care of your vehicle, and it’ll take care of you. Your trip isn’t going to be nearly as awesome if you’re calling AAA 3 hours into it, or worse, 2,000 miles from home because you didn’t replace that u-joint, wheel bearing, or battery before you left. If you are going to do any offloading, take it easy it out there – 2,000 miles from home isn’t the time to necessarily push your truck or test out unproven setups. Don’t be like me and break a power steering pump within 30 minutes of arriving in Moab being a dumbass. Thankfully it only had me down for 1 day, but was preventable.
- Alternate between backcountry and…not backcountry. We all love camping and seeing natural wonders – but don’t make it a requirement to camp every night or spend all of your “destination” time in nature. There’s plenty of fun in exploring new towns, restaurants, museums, tourist attractions. I usually go for a 1/3 ratio – for every 2 nights we spend camping, spend at least 1 night in town in a hotel or other kind of lodging.
- Don’t be too worried – just go for it! There’s plenty of reasons not go on an epic road trip. You don’t do it because it is convenient, the fastest, or even necessarily the most cost-efficient. You may also worry about things like “Can I really drive that far?”, “what if something goes wrong?”. Yes, you can drive that far. And yes, stuff might go wrong – but that’s part of the adventure.
We are right in the thick of planning a couple of great road trips for 2016 and look forward to hearing from all of you what you’ve got up your sleeve.