Road Trip Questions Answered!

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If you’re new here, my name is Ami and I’m currently on a 2.5 month road trip with my dog, Tango. We left Louisville, KY on April 16 and moved our things into a storage space in San Diego, CA. We’ve been traveling throughout the southwest and Colorado and are now in Canada, for a month, before we head back down the west coast to settle in San Diego. These are the answers to questions I’ve received most about this trip:

1. Why are you doing this?

The short answer: Because I felt the need to travel.

The long answer: Because I needed to take action to feel better. I hadn’t been feeling like myself for a really long time. Between running my bootcamp, training a bunch of clients, traveling for TRX most weekends, and just trying to get enough sleep, I felt as if I was just going through the motions every day. I was in a funk and I felt I’d lost a bit of myself. I wasn’t motivated to workout or dance or climb. I wasn’t feeling creative or inspired. To tell the truth I wasn’t feeling much of anything. The last couple winters were freaking brutal and I definitely wanted to play outside in warmer weather. I hadn’t been anywhere new lately that I got to wander around and explore. I just felt like I needed to hit the reset button. As soon as I’d decided to take this trip, I felt invigorated again. I had something fun to look forward to. I got to go into trip-planning mode (one of my favorite things in the world). I knew I was going to get to visit friends I hadn’t seen in a while and my man-friend for an extended period of time. I knew I was going to get lots of sleep! And read books! And make plans! This trip was my reset button.

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2. How are you taking all these photos of yourself without “selfie arm?” 

With my iPhone 6. There’s a great timer feature on there that will give you the option of a 3 or 10 second timer before it takes a burst of 10 photos. That’s been a big help, but the thing I’ve been using most is the Aduro U-Snap SF45. My roomie got it for me for Christmas specifically for this trip. (High five, T-Beg!) It’s got a bluetooth remote that syncs to your phone and a tripod with a grippy handle thingy to hold your phone. You can set it up anywhere {level} and push the little button when you’re ready to shoot. The remote is small so it’s not easily detected in the photos. But now that you know, you can look for it! I used it in both these photos:

Obvious usage:

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and not so obvious:

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3. Any suggestions for road tripping with your dog?

Yes. I suggest you DO IT! Traveling with Tango has been awesome! It’s not without its challenges though. I recommend the following:

Bring something from home that’s their own. I have his kennel and blanket in the car so that he has his own space in the car and can sleep on his blanket every night in the tent.

Hope for good weather, because you’re going to be eating outside at every meal. I use DogFriendly.com to check out restaurants near me. If none are listed, I just cruise around until there’s a coffee shop or restaurant with an outdoor patio he can join me on. I don’t leave him in the car if it’s over 60 degrees out and if I do leave him to run into a grocery store, the windows are down, he has water, and I set my timer on my watch so I don’t leave him for more than a few minutes.

Know that a lot of National Parks don’t allow dogs anywhere but the campground and parking lots. If there’s a hike or climb you definitely want to do, check their dog policies before you go and try to find a kennel in the closest town that can keep them for a couple hours.

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4. Aren’t you scared? 

Sometimes, yes. But that’s no reason not to do something. Having Tango with me has helped tremendously. I think I’d be a lot more scared if I didn’t have him. Traveling alone is nothing new to me since I do it all the time for my job. Camping alone is only slightly different. I just make sure I have my provisions (seen here) and that somebody knows where I am. I talk to my man-friend every night so he always knows which state I’m in and the campground name. I usually make it a point to talk to the rangers as well. At most of the campgrounds I’ve been to though, people are everywhere and they’re all kinda looking for the same thing; outdoor recreation and relaxation.

I will admit to being pretty freaked out on my first night of camping in Oklahoma. I was the ONLY person in the campground. There were RVs, but they were on the other side of the park. The park rangers came to take my camping payment so they knew I was there, and the so did the town sheriff who was driving through the park before his shift was over. They all asked me a thousand questions about camping alone, but I think they felt better knowing I had Tango with me (and my weapons). I thought about getting murdered for a few minutes, but as soon as I got in my sleeping bag though, I was OUT… and didn’t wake up for 11 more hours. Being there all alone was exactly the peace I’d been needing.

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5. How much is this costing you?

I did some major spread-sheeting before I left. I looked up campgrounds and their fees all over the country. I mapped the mileage and over-estimated gas/car maintenance costs, I haven’t added up the total cost yet but I budgeted $1500 per month for this trip. This is WAY more than I need though and haven’t even gotten close to using that much, even though I’ve been gone for almost 7 weeks now. Campgrounds are between $12 and $30 per night, but I’ve stayed with friends along the way and Marriott hotels here and there using the hotel points I’ve been stockpiling from all my work trips. I get most of my food from the grocery store so I’m not eating out that much. I paid $80 for a National Parks Pass and that saves me a ton of money on admission fees. The biggest expense is gas. Depending on where I am, I can fill up for $25 – $35. I’m not getting awesome gas mileage though, with my car loaded down and both my bike and rocketbox on the roof. I’ve driven 7,000+ miles so far and am getting a little less than 300 miles to the tank.

The biggest thing that helped was getting my monthly expenses WAY down before I left: I have no debt and I’m not paying any rent/mortgage while I’m gone. My monthly expenses include the following: phone bill, health insurance, car insurance, life insurance, food, gas, camping fees, and miscellaneous gear I’ve needed to pick up along the way. So if  you want to rock out a trip like this, get frugal before you leave, pay off debts, over-save so you don’t feel stressed about funds, and don’t buy shit when you leave. Camping is great and if you plan well enough, you can camp for almost free at a lot of places.

6. What are you listening to while you drive so much?

A few things. LOTS of my playlists. I have a million playlists: “fun country”, “slow country”, workout mixes, “going climbing,” decade-themed playlists, show tunes, classic rock, “relax your shit” etc.).Podcasts: Dirtbag Diaries, The Vinyl Cafe, Spartan Up, TED Talks.  Some movement science lectures I downloaded. There’s a bunch of stuff. Shuffle is always good too… It’s amazing the songs you forget you have or ones you never knew you had in the first place.

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7. How are you showering?!

I’m not… Psych! Like I said above, I’m staying with friends and in hotels at times so I was showering about every 2 -3 days. I think too many people have been reading “Wild” and mistaking me for somebody that’s backpacking across the country. I’m car camping which means I have an entire car to put lots of shit in and can cruise around wherever I want, whenever I want. When I’m finding a campground for the night, I check my app (CampFinder) and see what’s the closest and cheapest. I have 3 campground categories: 1) Backcountry sites, where you’re hiking in with all your gear on your back and posting up wherever you want. 2) Regular sites, where you pay your fee, find an empty spot and pitch your tent. 3) Fancy “campgrounds” that are really just parking lots that you share with the RV population. These sites have laundry facilities, bathrooms with showers, wifi, and a lot of concrete or gravel. I’ve been staying at mostly “regular” places, but occasionally I’ll go to a “fancy” place that will have showers. It’s not my favorite, but sometimes there’s nothing else around and I’m just ready to stop for the night. I’m on the 2nd part of my trip though now, at my man-friend’s in Canada. So I’m in a condo, with a full shower right across the hall. ; )

8. How are you eating healthy while on the road?

This has been a small challenge, but again, totally do-able! I try to follow Dr. John Berardi’s 90/10 rule: If you’re eating well %90 of the time, you can indulge %10 of the time and not rot to pieces. I’ll admit, I’ve eaten Top Ramen a couple times and practically ran people over to get at the Del Taco and In-n-Out Burger as soon as they came into view, but most of the way, I’ve been eating pretty well. Before I left Louisville I stocked up at Trader Joe’s. (There was also a TJs in San Diego and Boulder, where I got to re-stock!) They have tons of pre-made salads and sushi that I could put in my cooler {YETI Roadie 20}. I also got veggie/fruit juices and berries that would keep well. I’ve got about 6 liter-sized bottles of water, instant oatmeal, bread, peanut butter, green tea and honey. My routine is basically oatmeal or fruit and green tea in the morning. Sandwiches or salads in the afternoon, and if I don’t cook soup or pasta on my camp stove, then I purchase dinner in whatever town I’m in each night. As far as snacks go: I have about a million protein/energy bars (I got a lot of these as gifts when I left), raw cashews, clementines,  dried fruit, and then there’s the occasional stop for the roll of 6 powdered sugar donuts… my weakness.

I don’t eat a ton of bread, but it’s these sandwiches have been easy since I left.

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There are TONS of fast food places along the freeways, but I use the “Around Me” app to find local supermarkets. It’s cheaper per meal and a thousand times healthier. There have also been farmer’s markets in some of the places I’ve been. I know it can be easy to cave to fast food places when they’re EVERYWHERE, but if  you don’t think of them as even an option, you’ll find a way around it. A little more preparation and energy goes into eating healthy on the road, but it’s possible. : )

9. How are you traveling so freely?

If you need something, you have to find a way to get it. I felt like I needed to travel, so I made a plan and I went. I figured there was never going to be a better time to do it than now. The hardest part is learning to just LET SHIT GO. I was stressed the hell out before I left and wanted to get back to exploring and not being on a schedule. It’s been hard to stop checking my phone, checking my email, being off a schedule. The great thing about this kind of travel though is that it FORCES you to unplug and unwind and go with the goddamned flow. I have to feed myself and my dog each day, I have to find places to camp at night, and I go where the weather is good or there are people I want to visit. Those have been my “to-do’s” each day since I left in the middle of April. I talk to my man-friend each day and tell him my plans and where I’ll be and how long I’ll be there. I check in with my family regularly so everybody knows I’m alive. There have been a couple work things that I’ve had to to get done along the way, so when I have to, I find some wifi and I take care of business. Other than that, I’ve just  kind of had to just say, “fuck it.” It’s been great and I can honestly say that I’ll do whatever I want. If I want to lay in a park all day and read for hours, I will. And I did.

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That all being said, this whole trip has been easier because I’m  unmarried and childless. It’s easier when you can have a little more financial freedom (which is why I’ve been saving like a madman for months). It’s easier when you’re used to traveling and are ok being alone for long periods of time. Not everybody has these luxuries, but that doesn’t mean a trip like this is impossible. It just means you might need a little more help to plan and a little more prep time to get all your ducks in a row. If you want to make it happen though, it’ll happen. Email me {fitwithflash@gmail.com} if you need help! I’d be glad to help anybody get to this place. It took me several months to get ready for this trip so be patient. If you can prepare adequately, your trip will go more smoothly.

And even if it doesn’t go smoothly, it’ll still go.

Do it anyway.

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Comments

  1. Hey! I did a very similar-style road trip in 2013 where I traveled solo for 7 months, covering 49 states! I’m now living in the SF bay area and was wondering if you’re going to travel down this way. Would love to buy you lunch or a cup of coffee and chat about travels! Best of luck to you. 🙂

    • Ami says:

      Hi Jessaline! Your trip sounds amazing! The longer I’m on mine, the longer I want it to last. I’ll be coming down through your neck of the woods in July. I’d love to grab drinks together! I’ll keep you posted on my timeline as soon as it’s figured out. Thanks for reading!

  2. karin carmack says:

    I just discovered your blog and LOVE it. I think what you are doing is awesome. I would love to do something like this road trip at some point. You’re right though…being married with 3 little kids make it a little more challenging 🙂 But nothing wrong with planning some smaller road trip adventures.

    • Ami says:

      Thanks so much for reading, Karin! Great! It might not be the exact same kind of trip but yes, several small trips can be an option. The great thing is you can do whatever you want to do! Figure out what your parameters are and see what you can do inside them. Good luck with it all! I’d love to hear about your adventures. : )

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