Adventure Travel (On A Budget)
You don't have to go far (or spend a fortune) to get the experience of a lifetime! The Nature Unplugged team - Sonya & Sebastian - just wrapped up an epic road trip in the Western U.S. and are pumped to share some of our tips on how to do it:
1 - FIND AFFORDABLE WAYS TO SPEND THE NIGHT
Stay with family or friends who are on your route. You get local tips and good quality time with the people you love. If you're up for camping, sites typically cost $12-25 dollars. Or you can try to find free campsites or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) developed or dispersed Campsites.
2 - KNOW YOUR LIMITS!
We quickly found out that our sweet spot was about 9 hours a day in the car. More than that and we found ourselves becoming fussy and our bodies stiff. We also agreed that taking plenty of rest stops was worth a slower drive time - that gave us permission to drink lots of water and not worry about when the next opportunity for a bathroom break was coming. Plenty of sleep, lots of fluids, and quality food kept us healthy along the way.
3 - PACK A COOLER WITH YOUR OWN FOOD
Meals out get expensive, even at low-cost fast food spots. Pack a combo of cooler and non-perishable items in your car for snacks and meals on the road. Refresh your ice as needed, and be sure to throw in some treats/sweets to avoid gas station impulse buys!
4 - BRING YOUR CAMPING KITCHEN WITH YOU
A camping or trail stove can really improve your road trip dining experience. If you don't have one, it could be a worthwhile investment. With a stove you can make rice, pasta, quinoa, beans, oatmeal, coffee/tea - the sky is the limit! Also, camping dinnerware and silverware are helpful additions too.
5 - DON'T BE SHY - ASK THE LOCALS
Whether it's a ranger, a cashier, or a friendly hiker, don't be shy to ask for recommendations on where to stay, sites to see, food/grocery spots, etc. We've found folks are usually excited to share their recommendations and they often weren't something we could find online.
6 - HAVE A PLAN & BE FLEXIBLE
My mom got me an atlas in 2002 that had hardly been touched over the last 17 years. But holy smokes, was it a HUGE help on this trip. Of course we had our phones and could mostly use our GPS, but when service was spotty (often in National Parks) it was invaluable to get us going in the right direction and take the guess work out it. We had a general plan regarding our route, but we let it evolve and shift as new spots of interest arose! Striking a balance between planning, preparation and spontaneity is key.
7 - FIND TIME FOR MOVEMENT & NATURE
Even (or maybe especially) on big travel days, it’s important to get some good movement in. Sometimes we did a big walk or hike before we got in the car, other times we stopped in the middle of our route to get in a stroll, and occasionally we had mini dance parties in the parking lot at gas stations. When possible, we tried to find a good pull off that also allowed us to get a little nature time in, or enjoy lunch with a nice view and some sunshine.
8 - HAVE A SCREEN TIME GAME PLAN
Think about what you’d like out of your trip and then come up with a plan for how you’ll use (or not use) technology to support that effort. We had some audio books we wanted to listen too and some writing we wanted to do, so we tried to limit our phone and computer use to those things. There’s no right or wrong here, it’s really about being intentional. Don’t let your phone take over your trip! Let friends and family know you’ll be in touch occasionally, but not as accessible as usual. Put up away messages on your email and voicemail to limit how obligated you feel to “check-in”.