Road trip checklist
Finding your way and campgrounds while being on the road
Planning a trip can be a daunting task and these days, I usually refrain from it as much as possible. The following tips and apps help me to keep time spent on planning very low.
Free road maps
When being on a road trip through the U.S., Canada, Western Europe and Australia, almost all of the maps and trails can be found free of charge in the tourist offices. This is always my first stop, when getting to a new location. A little chat with the tourism staff is always helpful, especially in more remote areas, where you might want to check the road conditions and weather.
Offline maps and navigation
I highly recommend to use an off-line map like Sygic, as you can’t rely on your mobile data reception. Don’t forget the charger to connect your phone while driving, as this will use up your battery very quickly.
Finding a place to stay for the night is one of the most essential things you should have in mind while the day passes by. I always recommend to have reached your camp before dusk. Not only because I’m a solo female traveler but because of increased wildlife activity and it makes things so much easier when thinking of preparing dinner or finding your actual campsite.
When the budget is tide you surely don't want to pay every single night and surely it is possible to play hide and seek with the authorities in nearly any place. You can use rest stops for a few hours, a side road next to the highway or free parking in a calm neighborhood.
Public parking spots in cities, in front of supermarkets, universities, etc, are mostly patrolled at night and should be avoided. In the USA, Safeways and Walmart make an exception in some places but be advised to check in with the staff of the market before getting in trouble.
Camping App for USA
If you want the less stressful options that are surely legal and sometimes even for free, the easiest way to find free and payed campgrounds in the USA and Canada is the Allstays app. It immediately shows all campgrounds near you and saves you any research on this matter.
Camping App for Australia
In Australia I prefered to use the app Campermate. However most people I talked to liked Wikicamps better. The choice is yours. These apps not only show you camp spots but also points of interest, public toilets, gas stations and more. Worth to explore it while you have a good wifi connection.
Having a quick look at Google Maps, distances usually appear to be shorter than they actually are.
I know the extreme feeling of excitement looking at the map and marking all the places that I would like to see. However, when I started driving my first road trips, I always had too many places in mind that I wanted to see and reach.
When we first plan our routes, we tend to think that we will be driving straight lines from one spot to the next but let me tell you from my lengthy road trip experiences, that we make turns, we discover new spots to stop for and we might want to stay longer in certain spots that we first thought.
As a general rule of thumb, I recommend not to plan driving more than 300km per day and to plan days where you will not drive at all. This might mean that you will not get to see all of the things you had planned but trust me: Less is always more.
Let me know in the comments if this was helpful for you or if you have any more questions!
Read another article: Travel checklist for long term travel
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