In the weeks since I first shared with anyone other than my immediate family those outside my plan to take an extended road trip this Spring, I’ve been asked the same couple of questions more than a few times. I thought I’d share those questions — and their answers — here.
Q: Since you aren’t sure exactly when you’ll be leaving, how are you making hotel reservations?
A: I won’t be staying in hotels . . . or motels or air bnb’s. Instead, I’ll be sleeping in my minivan. I have a Murphy bed (thanks to my wonderful friend Alex, who has renovated and remodeled several of my homes) with a 7” gel-infused memory foam mattress that is as super-comfortable.
Q: So you’ll be staying in campgrounds and KOAs?
A. I plan to stay in a campground or KOA only one or two nights on the first — and longest — leg of my advanture, On the remaining nights, I will be either boondocking or stealth camping. Boondocking is camping without any hook-ups — no electric, water, etc — on BLM property or similar places. Stealth camping is the practice of sleeping overnight in your van/car without drawing attention to yourself in the hopes that nobody will take any notice. Of course, I will only stealth camp in places where it is legal and will ask permission. Possible locations include police station parking lots, truck stops (in the area designated for cars only), and retail establishments parking lots (some Wal-Marts and Cracker Barrels, for example).
Q: No electricity!! How will you watch videos or play games on your computer or participate on social media?
A: I don’t watch videos or play games on my computer, so that isn’t a problem. I will need to charge my phone and ipad, though, so I purchased a Jackery power station (and solar panels). Since I’ll be moving to a new town frequently, I’m not taking the solar panels with me on this trip. Instead, I’ll charge the Jackery as I drive (it plugs into the “cigarette lighter” type power outlets in my van) and charge my phone and ipad as needed.
Q: So if you aren’t going to stream videos or movies or television shows, what are you going to do in the evenings?
A: I’m going to play that by ear. If the community I’m visiting on a given day has some sort of evening event or a downtown that stays open in the evening, I’ll take advantage of that. Once I retire to my minivan for the evening, I’ll post on social media, read a book, journal, knit, and pretty much do what I do in the evenings when I’m home.
Q: What about privacy? Won’t people be able to look in on you? Where will you get dressed?
A: I’ve made reflectix window covers for every window in my minivan and will put those up at night or if I need privacy during the day.
Q: Do you have a kitchen in your van? How are you going to eat?
A. No kitchen, but I do have a very nice, large cooler. I’m going to eat sandwiches and lots of fruit and vegetables. I plan to enjoy one snack or meal “out” every day; I may have breakfast or lunch at a small cafe or eat dinner at a restaurant where the locals congregate. No fast food or chain restaurants and no “touristy” restaurants.
Q: What about personal safety? Aren’t you afraid to visit new places and sleep in your van alone?
A: I’m sure there will be moments when I feel uneasy, but I plan to take precautions to at least minimize, if not completely eliminate them. First, I’ve carefully researched the towns I’m visiting; all are noted for their low crime rate. Second, I won’t ever drive to a new town, arrive at night, and look for a place to stay. Instead, I’ll drive in the morning, and as I walk around and explore the town I’ll be staying in that night, I’ll be on the lookout for a safe place to park overnight. Third, I’ll pay heed to my “gut”. If a place doesn’t feel safe, I won’t stay there, and I’m taking “emergency” money to cover a couple of nights in a hotel, just in case. Fourth, I’ve researched the laws in each state I’m visiting and will have a legal personal protection device with me.
There you go — the most-commonly asked questions and my responses. Feel free to ask any questions you might have; I’ll answer them as quickly as I can.