Budget Travel- Our US Road Trip

Let’s talk about budget travel. And I mean real budget travel. Not that commercial “travel package” kind of budget travel, but the grimy, do-it-my-goddam-self kind of travel. Save the cost of rent for 4 months by living out of your car- kind of travel. This is not your average vacation folks. It may not be for everyone. But it was one of the best times in my life. Mr. Nerd and I like to rough it. In fact I would much prefer to sleep out under the stars than to stay in a posh hotel. I don’t know, there’s something about the bland and expensive food and the overpriced cocktails. It’s like being in the rich person’s version of a food desert. Give me a real desert and a cooler full of vitals and I’ll whip you up something special, on-the-house. And we can sit around the camp fire or gaze up at the stars while we eat. Oh the majesty of nature. Is it sounding less gross now?

We were living in the American Southwest, when we started our endeavor. We had sold 95% of everything we owned. We packed up our camping gear and drove East on I-80. We wilderness camped most of the trip and paid $0 for camping fees. We cooked most meals on our own and took “hobo showers” (this just means we swam in streams and lakes to get some of the grime off). We would get cheap motels when we really needed to clean up. I may look something like a lady at first glance but deep down I’m a straight up vagabond. Freedom and the open road calls to me. The idea is like a broken record in my mind. The mysteries to discover, the adventure, it’s all very poetic and profound.

You can do it too. Here’s how. Step 1: sell all the crap you don’t need. Step 2: move out or rent out your place. Step 3: acquire the appropriate camping gear if you don’t have it already. This includes a tent, a small fold up table, a couple camp chairs, a water jug, sleeping pads and sleeping bags, a cooler, some cook ware, and a camp stove. Step 4: drive away. It’s worth taking a look at the wilderness camping rules for the Bureau of Land Management and the National Forest lands in the U.S. We prefer to camp in wilderness camping sites rather than established camp grounds for a couple of reasons. Firstly, we are cheap and would rather spend $0 than $15 and secondly we like to be alone in nature. Hearing your neighbor’s generator when you are trying to relax at your camp site really takes away from the ambiance of the beautiful place that you came to see. This site has a lot of really great campsites but keep in mind there are quite a few duds, maybe about %25 of the time a place turns out to not be accessible. The Western U.S. tends to be excellent for free camping but the East doesn’t have nearly as many spots. Remember when wilderness camping, always practice leave no trace ethics, these are public resources and should be respected and cared for.

Okay if you’re not convinced yet that this is the adventure of a lifetime just waiting to happen, you will be when you see our photos. Some of the kickass places we visited on this trip; Grand Canyon NP, Yellowstone NP, Washington D.C., Everglades NP, NYC, Cape Cod, The Outerbanks of North Carolina, New Orleans, and Austin Texas. Total cost for this four month adventure: $5,860.

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