Travel Tips and Hacks for the Minimalist Solo Roadtripper
Day 100- Cheyenne, Wyoming- State #19. I’ve made it to my hundredth day in one piece, both physically and mentally. I’ve done and seen so much while meeting amazing people and sharing my experiences with others.
Looking back on these past few months I’ve learned that there are phases in adjusting to this lifestyle. I’ve picked up a few travel hacks that I want to share with you. But first, here’s a glimpse at my mental timeline:
-First 30 days- Adjust to the daily hustle of road life. The logistics, finances, sleeping, eating, storage, transport, hygiene, laundry, taking obscure pictures on the side of the road- ya know, the survival basics.
-Next 30 days- Learning what, when, how, and where to share content. This is an ever-learning phase, as I’m still clueless most of the time. I’m constantly revamping my Instagram, YouTube, and website to get an idea of what people are looking for.
-Last 30 days- Appreciating my journey and understanding the magnitude of what I’d like to accomplish long-term. This started to happen as I approached this northern region; lightly inhabited, wide open farms and prairies, plenty of time to let my thoughts wander.
Efficiency is very important for road trippin’. Here’s a small list of some of the products and hacks I’ve used over the past hundred days:
Food- I use a Coleman 50-quart wheeled 5-day cooler to store cold goods. The inside stays 35 degrees cooler than the outside temperature. I find myself swapping ice every 2-3 days when it’s hot. On cooler days, I’ll get 3-4 days use. I recommend a small rack to separate drinks from food, otherwise your food will be drenched in water when the ice melts. When the ice melts, I typically get an extra day or so depending on the outside temperature. The cooler has a release in the back to drain water. For cooking, I use a single butane-tank burner for eggs, sausage, toast, and other quick foods. Walmart sells the butane refills for $3. It works great for quick-cook meals but not so great for raw chicken, beef or other meats. Could take well over an hour for those. I get about 30-40 uses with eggs, sausage, etc. These items from Coleman cost me roughly $60 combined. See the links.
Sleep- I chose a 2012 Nissan Rogue. As a solo road tripper, it’s perfect because it has plenty of room, it’s a reliable brand, it’s good on gas (4CY), and it fits a mattress. I have a full-size mattress that lies in the back over my folded rear passenger seats. With tinted windows (a must), I sleep with the rear windows slightly cracked for some air and throw a few sheets up to further block the view from the outside. I adjust my driver’s seat all the way forward to fully stretch my legs. I generally sleep in an Anytime Fitness parking lot (see next section). On a nice 65 degree night, this is more comfortable than sleeping at home.
Anytime Fitness- Hygiene, showers, workouts, a spot for my slumber, and my morning routine take place here. All locations are 24/7 with a key fob access (making you look unsuspicious with overnight parking), as they’re unstaffed during nighttime and overnight hours. They have private bathrooms and showers. Most locations are in a strip mall with plenty of parking unless you’re downtown in a large city. I try parking near a corner of the parking lot, usually near a tree, or somewhere less traveled by surrounding streets. They have over 2,600 locations, currently more than any other gym franchise, with global presence and locations in all 50 states ranging from large markets to tiny middle-America towns. Wi-Fi is available at all locations. Convenient in remote areas with poor cell service.
Casinos- Casinos are a great way to make some pocket change without spending a buck. As a new member, most casinos will award free slot play if you sign up for a member card and/or download their app. This can range anywhere from $5-$50, even $100 depending on where you are. I’ve used the free slot play to walk away with $1 here, $5 there, $22 here… I even got lucky in Alabama and hit for $143 with $20 in free slot play! I never spend my own money, and I ALWAYS cash out after spending the free play, even with just a buck or two. Always call ahead to ensure that they have these types of promotions so you don’t go out of your way.
Mail- Most major cities have one or two post offices with a service known as general delivery. This service allows for those without a physical address to have mail delivered directly to that post office location and held up to 30 days. The post office’s website will tell you which locations have general delivery. Warning: they are not all accurate. In fact, many post offices aren’t even aware of the service if they don’t provide it.. Additional warning: Rules vary even with locations that do provide general delivery. Some only allow this service if you are “homeless” or going through a transition. Some require you to fill out a form in advance to activate the service. I’ve been on a few goose hunts in Baltimore and Milwaukee because I failed to do my full due diligence. So always call ahead, make sure you speak directly with an associate or manager at that particular location, and tell them your situation before giving out the address. It must be addressed as follows:
[GENERAL DELIVERY] -always at the top . Joe Smith -your name . Beverly Hills, CA 90210 -only the zip code to the post office
XM Radio- It’s satellite. It works everywhere, except tunnels and inside parking garages. Can be spotty near skyscrapers. Works where cell service doesn’t, so you’re guaranteed tunes and news in remote areas.
Charging electronics- I have a few power inverters (backups if needed). Mine are 150W and 300W, enough to charge my phone, dashcam, GoPro batteries, drone batteries, and laptop (which I generally charge at a coffee shop or library). If you want to bring small appliances (toaster, microwave, etc..) you’ll need a more powerful model. Check the wattage on your appliances before purchasing the inverter. See link on right.
Groupon- I’ve used Groupon for discounted oil changes, haircuts, and other necessities. In fact, “Sports Clips” will have various “free first time haircut” offers in different locations. I’ve used that offer in Florida and Iowa.
MeetUp app- I’ve met up with locals in Charlotte for karaoke, Atlanta for bocce, Milwaukee for trivia night, and Chicago for the NBA finals. Great app for meeting locals or travelers like yourself and participating in activities ranging from bars/clubs, hiking, kayaking, wineries, book clubs, or simply mingling with singles.
Laundry- I have three contractor bags- one for tops, one for bottoms, and one for dirty clothes. I stuff the bags on the floors behind my front driver and passenger seats, and the dirty bag in the center. I stuff my socks and underwear in the pouches provided behind these seats. I’ll usually spend $5 at a laundromat (about $3.50 for wash, $1.50 per dry). I have enough clothes to last two weeks (including gym clothes).
Coffee- Bring a mug. You’ll generally get a discount, particularly at gas stations, which can sometimes have great coffee. Always look for first time app-download deals (not just with coffee). Publix (supermarket chain in the southeast) offers free coffee, and you’ll see this provided at many mechanic shops, hotels, and other service-based industries.
Emergency items- Make sure you can get yourself out of a jam. Here’s what I have stuffed away under my mattress:
Hammer- Ya know, for hammering shit.
Rope- Ya know, for tying shit.
Zipties- Ya know, for zip-tying sh-okay I’ll stop.
Wrenches, pliers, scissors- Things need to be tightened, pulled, and snipped on occasion.
Spare tire, jack, and lug wrench- Know how to change your tires and have whats’s needed.
Electrical tape, scotch tape, duct tape, Liquid Nails glue- Temporary fixes- many uses.
First aid kit- Bandages, gauze pads, anibiotics, etc..
Medicine- I keep some ibuprofen, allergy meds, and Icy Hot- just the basics. You know your body, so bring what’s needed. You can always grab less-used items when needed.
Repellents- Mosquito repellent, sunscreen, anti-itch ointment. Very important.
Measuring tape- Ya know, for measuring shit. Hey I didn’t claim to be Honest Abe.
Napkins- Always stock up at gas stations.
Atlas Obscura- I use this website to find obscure and wonderful, generally lesser known attractions in areas I’m traveling through. This can range from the world’s smallest post office in the Everglades of Florida to a roller blade museum in Lincoln, Nebraska. Save the website as an app on your phone to use the “What’s Near Me” feature.
Flush- the toilet app- Find the nearest restroom. Not always reliable, but if you’re stuck and not in a position to drive around to find one, it’s worth taking a peek at.
Life 360- The app that shares your location with friends/family. Free to use. Very private-only those who you share it with will see your location. Sometimes will show your location off-grid.
For a visual on my setup, here’s the link to my YouTube video: https://youtu.be/vG0xxBghaFA
Enjoy, and reach out anytime!