21. Road-Trip: How-To (EN)
Dear readers, today it's me, Emily who is talking to you! The topic of the day: How to plan your road trip? In addition to the usual nursery rhyme that we can tell you, let me explain the inner workings of the organization to live an optimal Vanlife!
Indeed, even if this trip has liberating merits, life in a van is not without constraints. Going on an adventure is great, but having a few points of reference is better! Before even partying, we immediately allocated the tasks to avoid misunderstandings. As a result, I took the responsibility of creating our itinerary, including researching all the places to visit and booking the accommodation. Those who know us well will be able to confirm, in general, it is Steven who takes care of the planning. But, as he was already in charge of the big Bertha's well being, it was normal that I took the organization in hand. I don't think it requires any innate talents, however, it is better that you are used to taking on this role. No worries for me on that end, back in the days, I managed the travel planning with my father, so I know how to do it.
In terms of tools, I referred to several applications. I first started with Roadtrippers, it costs $30 per year, if you want to plan several stages of your journey but, the additional benefits makes it worth it. The application allowed provided us with numerous places to discover and to organize our itinerary without making any detours.
When it comes to accommodation, either national parks or campsites, I chose RV Parky. The application allows you to easily book places to stay overnight and to plan reservations according to your trip. The national parks, which are our favorites, are generally well listed and it is easy to book your stay as well. Regarding campsites, it is sometimes more technical. Some did not even have a website and their prices did not seem to be setup properly, so it is better to call them if you want to sleep on your two ears and avoid unpleasant surprises on arrival.
Starting in April 2020, we wanted to try wilderness camping, I added Allstays to my travel apps. It allowed me to know which zones legally authorized us to stay overnight in public lands. There is also a charge for using it, $10 per year, but the application has a large directory, including gas stations, key information to know on your surroundings, as well as detailed descriptions for each region.
There is also an application that combine aspects of social networks, iOverlander, with a community that recommends the best places, just to spend a quiet night in the wilderness. The app is entirely user-based and allows you to read both positive and negative comments about the location. I also left some feedback if you ever follow our path one day!
To conclude, the website Freecampsites.net completes this anthology of tools. I mostly used it when in doubt, to check information from other apps. The site is not very practical, especially if you use it with your smartphone, but it has been useful a few times so I will mention it just in case. Afterwards, everyone is free to choose their method and I imagine there are many more that I did not mention which are very practical as well.
Hitting the road and not looking in the rear view mirror may seem extraordinary, at least at first glance, but the question of safety remained paramount to us. The concept of spending the night in a parking lot and being woken up because it is forbidden to stay more than a few hours was not really an episode that we wanted to live. Consequently, these applications have become essential tools for the smooth running of our trip. And even if we were sometimes disappointed between the announcement of the site and the reality of the spot, I learned to foresee alternatives ways to always succeed in finding us a haven of peace. Like the roads we take on a daily basis, it is over time that we have learned to adapt the journey, to end our days in the best places.
Blog dedicated to Marie Moeyaert and Florence Smet