Here are some resources to help you create yours
I could go on about the freedom open-mindedness offers on the road but ultimately, your process and philosophy is yours alone to discover and define. Our philosophy is all about the journey, not the destination. Can we be any more CLICHE than this? I think not.
Our process is one of research and not succumbing to the urge of wanting to plan. I had written about this subject on PhoenixTheBus.com back in the day but it felt more appropriate here as a resource page. The first step is a “destination” if you prefer starting with one. We start with a vague idea of direction, sometimes it’s a place (Key West 2016 trip), sometimes it’s an event (H2oi 2015). The important stipulation is that the destination is only part of a much larger adventure and that it can change at any time.
This page is the research and process we do on the road. We use the following apps, websites and ideas to find adventure and experiences on the road, again, with the stipulation that sometimes we will make it to a place/event, and sometimes we won’t. The hope for this page is that it serves as a way to share ideas, process & resources to help one another in the research and adventure process. We are always excited to hear about new resources so please email us if there’s one we should know about and add!
The food is Kevin’s favorite aspect of roadtripping and his input on the research is “wherever has the best food”. Thanks. The following are listed in order of most to least used.
- Yelp. Yes, it has a bad reputation but it has always come through for us. It is our number one source for food information.
- Reddit. It’s not the friendliest of website, the app is much easier to use. There are tons of subreddits for states or cities that are always full of suggestions.
- Suggestions. We put up our trip ideas up on Facebook and social media to hear from friends and family. We also often ask people we meet on the road for suggestions.
- TV shows. We watch Anthony Bourdain’s numerous shows, Adam Richman’s Man vs Food and sometimes Guy Fiery’s Diners, Drive ins and Dives.
- Google. I’ve googled “best wings in (state)” too many times to count…
Places of interests
We love museums, aquariums, zoos, botanical gardens, theme/amusement parks, fairs, festivals & music events but it takes time to research each category. Another cool thing to look up are car shows since they are a great way to spend a day enjoying awesome cars and meeting interesting people. Just like everything else, we make a huge list of ideas, some we’ll get to and some will be for the next trip.
- Mostly Google. Googling “places of interests” or “museums” or whatever you’re interested is really the best way to get started
- Reddit. Again, the geographical subreddits will be full of information, events, calendars
- Meetup. We haven’t used this one as much but it would be great if we got in the habit of making this a regular one as some cities are very active on Meetup
- Suggestions. Ask friends, family and locals.
- The Samba. This website is a fantastic resource for people with Volkswagens and their event page lists car shows (although mostly west coast). You can also check out our Community page where we list some of the shows we have attended and plan on attending.
This might be the hardest one to write about. Some use their buses & vans for wild/primitive camping while others stick strictly to campgrounds and we find ourselves in the middle. We don’t prefer campgrounds as they have become fairly expensive, and we often shy away from wild camping as it can be scary and/or dangerous if you are not familiar with the area. In O’ahu, Hawaii, we only did wild camping as we were provided with a great map of all the locations on the island that were camping friendly. This was an exception for us as we most often sleep at rest stops although we would rather do more wild camping.
- Research primitive camping laws in the state you will be traveling in to be aware of what is and isn’t legal.
- Roadreakers (app). App that provides you with lists of rest stops which we rely on heavily.
- Freecampsites.net . We’ve heard great things about it but it doesn’t appear very active in New England.
- Boondocking.org Boondocking is the word some people use for “wild camping”. We’ve also heard some positive things about this site but it requires you to search by latitude and longitude which is a paiiiiiiin.
- Reddit, Instagram and the community. We “follow” and have talked to some people through these sites that can lead to offers to park somewhere for a night or great local suggestions. We’ve also offered others the ability to use our driveway in the same manner.
- Gym membership. We have used the parking lot of our 24h gym chain to sleep on a few occasions. It can be a hit or miss if you’ve never seen the location.
- Walmart. As a general rule, they allow overnight parking, even if it isn’t our preferred option. They are exceptions by counties and by stores so best practice is to ask the manager. We have used Walmart a number of times and got woken up once in the middle of the night by a police officer who asked us to check with the Walmart manager who approved us staying.
Showers, bathrooms and whatnots
- Gym membership. We had read that gym memberships are a MUST HAVE and we agree, primarily because of showers. Our membership is with SNAP FITNESS who have locations in many places and all are 24/7 access with parking lots. They have classes (including Zumba), and quite often showers. We often look for SNAP to go workout, shower and sleep at times when we cannot find another spot to sleep at. We’ve also been known to do our “laundry” by washing an outfit in the shower at the gym. This recommendation is also based heavily on location. It may not be necessary if you primarily use campgrounds.
- Laundry. We don’t bring much with us so we don’t use laundromats although on longer trips we likely will to wash sheets. For our clothes, we most often wash 2 or 3 items with us in the shower or when we were lucky enough to have a working sink in Hawaii, we used the sink inside the van. We are working on installing working water tank and faucets on both the bus and the vanagon.
- Bathrooms. Public bathrooms, restaurants, rest stops… It can be a big worry sometimes but politeness and respect will almost always help you out.
Breakdown & car troubles
When you prepare for a trip, you MUST prepare for breakdowns. The 2016 Florida trip started with 3 days of constant breakdowns. It’s the bus life, hence the need for a “go with the flow” attitude.
- Aircooledrescue.com. Fantastic website where you can find people and locations for help and sometimes a place to park/crash for the night. Once you create an account, you can get contact information and see what is available. For example, we are verified users and when someone clicks on our location, they can see that we have the following available: internet access, tools, mechanical help, space to work on a bus, coffee and storage space for broken bus.
- VanAlert (app). On this app, you can access resources for clubs, air-cooled shops, vanagon shops, campsites, driveway camping, stolen van alerts, videos, & events. This app is still being developed but already really great.
- Reddit. Including the air cooled subreddit and the van dwellers subreddit among others.
Project in progress. This post touches on traveling with a Pitbull.