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Planning Tips & Best Apps for Road Trips

There’s a lot that goes in to planning any trip. 

Most of my international travel was certainly not planned on a whim. There are the obvious last minute pivots that occur, of course. I have found that on most of my camping trips, the more planning and prepared I can be, the more enjoyable the trip. Most of my camping trips have occurred in fairly decent temperatures. Although I had an unfortunate circumstance while camping in Idyllwild, California where temperatures dropped below 32° and I slept in the car instead of my tent because the ground was frozen. Needless to say, I have learned my lesson when it comes to being prepped for circumstances beyond my control.

For this particular trip, I am heading out on a solo trip to the Pacific Northwest in the middle of Winter. January is usually the rainiest and snowiest time of year for this region and I will be spending most of my trip in the mountains hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing. I am also traveling in a camper van so that I can sleep and cook all in my home on wheels! I figured this would be a bit cozier and warmer than the tent camping as campgrounds are shut down during the winter time. 

I’m not usually a proponent of driving long distances, especially on my own. So I wanted to put a little more prep in to this road trip to maximize enjoyment. I started the old fashion way highlighting and circling spots on a AAA Road Map for the states of Washington and Oregon, which are still available for free at AAA branches. I also created a custom digital map in Google MyMaps using destinations I have saved from Instagram posts from fellow wanderers. I have about 18 locations in total that I narrowed it down to for this particular trip as they are prime to see in the winter wonderland aesthetic. Most of the parks require snow chains this time of year. Luckily, my camper van rental comes equipped.

⤹ Links listed below ⤵
Once I had my inspiration destinations plugged in, I used an app called All Trails to identify the local hikes and locations with the best view. This app has user generated reviews which is extremely helpful, especially when weather can cause closures and unsafe conditions to trails. I also allows users to share their route so you can ensure you are staying on a path 'already paved' so to speak.  Next, are used an app called Free Roam to identify places that I can legally and safely camp overnight in the van. That way, I’m not aimlessly driving around in the middle of the night trying to boondock on the side of the road while hangry. BLM/dispersed camping spots are not usually the easiest to find, so I highly recommend an app like free roam two knock out a few spots ahead of time along your route. ✧Fun Fact- on Google & traditional maps, the light green areas are public land, so fair game!✧ Hipcamp is another good one for identifying camp spots as well.

Roadtrippers is a great app for finding off the beaten path attractions. I have used this previously while driving through areas I had never visited before on my previous road trips. Usually finding attractions such as the worlds largest rocking chair as well as Hunter S. Thompson’s childhood home.

I also use the National Parks app. Some of the parks have their own individual apps as well. This has been useful in cases of road closures, bear sightings and other helpful tips for visiting.

If you’re ever stuck in a life or death situation of survival end you need to identify if a plant is going to kill you if you eat it, there’s an app for that! Picture This is a plant identifying app that comes in quite handy. Did you know that in the winter months, poison ivy does not have any identifiable leaves and many people end up using it for firewood where the harmful oils, that cause allergic reactions, end up in their lungs? ✧  Whether you are simply going on a long hike or fighting for survival in the wilderness, it can be imperative to properly identify flora and fauna.

I’m quite aware that the weather conditions are not going to necessarily be in my favor for this trip so I have downloaded the NOAA Weather app so that I can stay up to date on any drastic shifts in weather. When you are not staying in the comfort of a cozy hotel, knowing the weather conditions ahead of time can be quite crucial.

On an alternate note, REI and Coleman have really good outdoor apps that help you with necessary gear recommendations as well as user generated content on trails in your area. You can also visit your local REI and get similar insight from the well informed staff.

✵Lastly, I’m sure if you’ve been following my social media, you have seen me talking about the book ‘Mother Nature is NOT Trying to Kill You’ written by Rob and Haley Nelson. The book discusses what to do if you encounter a bear in the wild all the way to which plants can kill you if you eat them! (As well as what to do if you eat them) I could not of read this book at a more appropriate time! 

I have read survival guides in the past and many of them read like fact full textbooks. The Nelson’s book reads like a novel as they have used their own personal experiences to share how to avoid unfortunate situations and what to do if you find yourself in one. Not to mention, it’s beautifully illustrated by Rob himself.

I will be interviewing the Nelson’s while I’m on the road on Jan 15 @ 1pm EST.

⤷Tune in to @waywardroamer to watch Rob and I discuss close encounters like my recent run in with a whale shark in Panama. ⤶

Stay tuned for more from the road and follow along on Instagram for daily updates!

Best apps for Road Trips:

  1. All Trails
  2. Free Roam
  3. Google MyMaps
  4. Hipcamp
  5. Roadtrippers
  6. National Parks
  7. Picture This 
  8. NOAA Weather
  9. REI
  10. Coleman