[The following article has been written by a couple who made a 1-month cross country road trip from NY to CA]
This year we did a cross country road trip from NY to CA. It was our 2nd biggest road trip. Last year we took a 2-week road trip up to Wyoming. We made a lot of mistakes last year, which we tried to avoid this year’s road trip. Still, we made a lot of mistakes on this road trip. After reading this, we hope this info might help you on your next journey.
Before starting our trips, we changed engine oil, rotated tires, checked the spare tire pressure, bought a tire repair kit.
Every day we drove a total of 360 miles. On the highway, if the average speed is 60 mph, you can go this distance within 6 hours. But this drive becomes 8 hours due to bathroom and food breaks. During our first day of the trip, we took toll roads but later realized every state charges extra for out-of-state drivers for tolls.
Tips: Avoid toll roads if it does not add significant travel time.
Extra info: We are from New York. We learned from DMV that out-of-state ticket does not carry any points to NY drivers license.
Sleeping bag – We carried two sleeping bag that is rated for 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sleeping pad – Always use a sleeping pad under the sleeping bag; otherwise, the earth will absorb your body heat.
Tent – We used a two-person tent. But we realized if it was 3 or 4 person tent, it could be more comfortable for us. 2 person tent is better for one person.
Tarpaulin – Use a tarp under the tent. It will keep your tent clean. Otherwise, water vapor that comes from the earth will accumulate under your tent, and dirt will make a huge mess.
Stakes – Use stakes to keep your tent stable during high wind.
Youtube Premium has a video download feature. We downloaded our favorite music and music playlist before our road trip to reduce cellphone data usage.
Google maps is the best map on the market. We used Google Offline map feature to download maps incase we lose cellphone service.
To download offline pdf maps for any national parks, historic sites, or national monuments, use the following government website: https://www.nps.gov/carto/app/#!/parks/name.
Trip Advisor and Google Trips are two useful apps to find tourist attractions in any area.
Campsite and hotel reservation:
We tent camped on different campgrounds. For campground reservations, we used https://www.recreation.gov/ and https://www.reserveamerica.com/. On separate two occasions, we stayed in hotels because we could not find any good campground for tent camping. First time at Petrified National Forest, and the second time at Gothenburg, Nebraska. Using https://www.booking.com/, we booked all our hotels.
Tips: For single night stay, try to avoid state park or state recreational area. Sometimes those places have an entrance fee. Try to reserve a campsite where shower facilities are available.
Annual Park Pass:
On this road trip, we visited 8 National Parks. If you are visiting more than 3 National parks, please buy America the Beautiful annual park pass. It costs only $80, which is totally worth it.
We carried noodles, bread, egg, canned tuna, avocado, dried potato, chips, chocolate, coffee, biscuits, apple, and banana all the time.
Fast food: On the road, we mainly ate fast food, not to add significant travel time.
Local restaurants: Wherever we stayed, we tried to taste local food. We also found Chinese restaurants everywhere.
Stove: The propane camping stove is very easy to use and very helpful. At Walmart, a camping propane cylinder is available at a very cheap rate.
Utensils: We carried a compact camping utensils pack we bought from Amazon. While cooking, don’t use a plastic fork instead use metal utensils. Even thick plastic fork will melt.
Spices: We carried small jars of spices such as salt, black pepper, which we found at Walmart. Don’t forget to take some onion, green pepper, and garlic.
Grocery Shopping: We did our grocery shopping, mostly at Walmart and Target.
Our mistake this time:
We did not carry a water filter. During our stay at Manti-La Sal national forest, we realized we needed one as there was no water in the mountains. There were a lot of lakes, however, from which we could have filtered water if we had a water filter.
- Keep a first aid kit box all the time.
- Always carry bug repellent.
- Keep Lighter and candles.
- LED lantern is super helpful during camping. Don’t miss your LED headlamp.
- Cooler is not necessary
- Carry firestarter fluid, and a small hand saw to cut wood for easy campfire.
- Plastic boxes to keep different items organized. Such as a box for food, a box for clothing, a box for all kitchen items, etc.
- Keep enough toilet paper.
- Carry refillable water bottles.
- We took only essential items of clothing. At different laundry, we washed our clothes.
- We didn’t carry any cameras. Using our cellphone, we took all our photos.
- Backpack – to carry chips, water bottles, and other necessary items during a hike.
Download Google Maps: https://support.google.com/maps/answer/6291838?co=GENIE.Platform%3DAndroid&hl=en
YouTube Premium: https://www.youtube.com/premium
Annual Park Pass: https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm