I have officially been wandering for a month. While some of the time has been spent with family, most has been on the road or in new places. I am getting a rhythm down for packing and unpacking, knowing the things I need and the things I will never use, and actually being able to relax in totally new places without knowing anyone.
This week I have added an additional passenger to my car, my dog. To make room for him I have rolled and stuffed my clothes into increasingly smaller totes and bathroom essentials have been reorganized to hang from the back of my seat. I am really quite proud of my organization skills.
He is small and travels easily, which helps, plus his company allows my car singing to not be wasted on empty space. Although sometimes I do hit road construction and the passing cars really enjoy giving me weird looks while I belt it out to some classic rock. It’s a treat, I’m sure.
So… Meet Leo, my little trooper who really puts up with a lot from me.
And…here’s what he looks like after 6 hours in the car with me.
Now that’s some love!
Alright this month has taken me all the way to Maine, then down to Massachusetts, back to Iowa, and currently I am spending some time in lower Arkansas flirting with Texas. Really though…it’s Texarkana, but that’s another story. There have been lots of stops along the way with a total of about 4,000 miles traveled so far. I have no idea where I am going to go next but that’s the fun.
Here are some things I have learned, so if you ever go on an awesome adventure yourself, you can learn from my mistakes.
- Don’t be so afraid of strangers.
While you shouldn’t throw all caution to the wind; other campers, hikers, travelers, and most locals are actually really nice. Ask for help, talk to your neighbors, and frequent small coffee shops where the locals go. (The last part is just an idea but if you like coffee, skip the big stores and go hunting for local places)
I met some amazing people doing the same types of things as me because I stopped being scared of everyone.
- Stay away from chains
I mean restaurant/fast food chains. There are times when I just don’t want to cook my own meal even knowing it might cost more money to eat out. But, I look for the local places where the food is usually better.
- Walmart Camping, it’s real thing
Whether you have a camper or just a car, stopping for the night in the back of a Walmart parking lot saves a lot of time and money. Also, if you forgot something, they probably have it.
Hopefully, you are either short, like me, or have a car with folding seats to get comfy. Just remember to be safe about it, cover your windows and stay discreet.
Even saving $30/night on a campsite a few times a week really adds up. I have successfully done this a few times and have had no issues. I even pulled over early one night, rented a Redbox movie and watched it on my laptop before going to sleep.
And the best part, Walmart is everywhere!
- Technology: the Frenemy
I love my laptop, cell phone, GPS, and IPod…like A LOT! But I have a time and place for them. I have found it is really important to know when to put these things away.
Drive a few hours unplugged with no idea where you’re going, it’s really freeing.
Climb a mountain without your cell phone! I did this, and I have never felt so connected to myself instead of the outside world.
Come back and check in, then go on your next adventure. Slowly you will notice you don’t have technology connected to your hip all the time anymore.
When I was in Acadia National Park I spent one entire day reading. I read a whole book, sitting in a chair at my campsite and it was great. That night I made a fire, cooked marshmallows, and continued to just exist in nature.
Be still and enjoy the quiet moments too.
This month was really about learning what things costs, how and where to save, and when to go ahead and splurge. I wont give a total month breakout but plan to in the future, as this is something that helped me when I looked at other blogs to plan my trip.
This will range from about $30-$40/night depending on where you are at.
I stayed in a National Park for $30/night with no hookups and no water, they had nice clean bathrooms, but no showers. There were showers available for a fee right outside the campsite but I got creative and washed my hair in a bucket.
KOA campgrounds are usually very nice and cost about $35-$40 a night depending on if you want hookups. They also have showers, so they are a great place to stay a few times a week.
Figure $5-$15 for firewood, I like supporting local and you cannot carry it across state lines.
I spent about $120 for the entire month on groceries but I stayed with family and friends a lot this month. It doesn’t cost much though when you cook your own meals and plan ahead.
I spent more on hotels this month then I would have liked, but I am still learning. In the future I would like to only have about one stay a month, or none at all.
- Misc and Fun
This was really low because I spent most of my time doing free activities in beautiful places. For the occasional meals out and a coffee here and there I spent around $150.
This is the big one but still much lower than I had budgeted for as gas prices have gone down. Total for my whole 4,000 miles I came in at just over $400. The average price per gallon for the whole trip was around $2.20/gallon. However, right now in Arkansas most gas stations are just above or under $2!