So Vivian, tell us a little about this road trip of yours..
We rented a car in Las Vegas and had an epic road trip crossing Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California off our list. We visited 10 National Parks along the way including Bryce, Zion, Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, horseshoe bend, the Grand Canyon, Bonneville, Canyonland, Arches, Death Valley and Yosemite. We pitched our tents in National forests, cooked our meals over an open fire and simply unplugged. Our wifi didn’t work in most of the places but proudly we survived. I would totally recommend this, this experience opened up a new horizon, showing us the grandeur of Mother Nature.
Lets talk money – is this achievable for the budget traveller?
Yes, it is achievable for budget travelers. Other than car rental fees, groceries and gas, we only spent some extras on occasional motel rooms. Most of the days, we camped in the wilderness , free of charge.
What made you decide to do it?
I always wanted to do a road trip, especially in America, where road trips are considered clinch during summer time. My only dilemma was to decide between The Pacific Coastal Highway, National Parks and Highway 66. Eventually, I had to leave Highway 66 for next time due to shortage of time. Upon deciding, I bought my flight tickets. I expected to be alone throughout the trip. However, a few weeks after that, it crossed my mind that I do not want to do a road trip alone.
Driving only with the company of the radio is not my thing. Thus, I searched for travel buddies online, through couch-surfing websites, various forums and not to mention I ended up accidentally in a match-matching website, which I promptly deleted my account after realizing it. I met Jessica first and we thought we would be going on a girlfriend road trip. Then we met Matt and Chris and my brother decided to join us, which is awesome, because obviously road trips are more fun to be done with same-minded travelers. We started off as complete strangers and ended the trip calling each other friends.
How did you feel while travelling on the road, in the wilderness for such a long time?
I felt great and renewed. There are a lot of things that I discovered about the world and also myself. I’ve never been to such mesmerizing places as the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Antelope. I am glad that my brother came along, at least I have someone in my family to share these memories with, but I really want to bring my mum here next time.
Would you advise anyone to do it?
Yes, if there’s a will, there’s a way. My advice is simple: just go and have fun. Of course don’t forget to buy or rent a bear canister. You really do not want a random visit by bears. When we were camping in Kaibab National Forrest, our campsite was visited by a bear at 4 in the morning. That was my first bear encounter, thus I did not know what to do. To make the situation worse, one of my friends was sleeping in an open tent (without a base).
Luckily our American friend had a bear spray in hand but without using it, he managed to scare the bear away by talking loudly. We did not see the bear clearly but we were guessing that it was a black bear. If that was a brown bear, we would not have survived that encounter. Afterwards, I spent the whole journey from Death Valley to Yosemite reading articles about bears and came up with a list of do and don’ts when camping in bear countries.
Last but not least, keep a good amount of mineral water in the car. When we were driving through Death Valley, the temperature reached 122 F. It was so hot that there were danger signs everywhere in the park, prohibiting visitors from getting out to the sand dunes. Thinking we were hardy enough, we walked right passed the signs and quickly realized that we were only human, and ran back to the car and blasted the air-condition. However, we regretted nothing.
Final words – what did you take away from the experience?
Perspective, memories to last and a new me.
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