In the US my favorite way to travel is by car or, more specifically, by van. For the record, I love the combination of traveling via mass transit and staying in funky little hostels probably best of all but neither of those are really feasible when traveling throughout most of the United States. There’s also just something about a road trip that makes my heart flutter. What doesn’t make my heart flutter is another cookie-cutter budget hotel devoid of charm that costs more than a day’s worth of gas (or admission for 2 to a museum or National Park.) That’s why I’ve made my home-away-from-home right inside my road trip vehicle on several trips. Here’s what I’ve done to make vehicle dwelling more pleasant.
- I bought a minivan. I’ve slept in a 2-door Geo Metro for days on end and it’s not an experience I’d like to repeat. Hell, it wasn’t even nice to RIDE in the Metro, much less to sleep in it. Since I love to travel, have kids, and have a large dog I am happily living the minivan dream.
- Planning for sleep. Seats that don’t recline all the way flat are fine for naps but make me want to punch people when used for a full night’s sleep. This is why we built a fold-down bed for our road trip to California and bought a special air mattress for our road trip in Alaska. When I’ve been by myself, a camp mat or thick sleeping bag (to cover the lumps and bumps of a van floor) has worked quite well.
- Storage bins. Like I’ve mentioned before, suitcases are not necessarily the best way to pack for a road trip. I love clear plastic storage totes with latching lids. I’ll often pack one with shelf-stable snacks, one with toiletries, one with blankets, one with games, etc. Open bins are also great for each person to have to toss in their headphones, Kindle, sunglasses, and other msc. stuff.
- Mosquito netting. One thing that the average camper has that the average van does not is window screens. If you live in an area like Minnesota where it can be humid at night and thick with mosquitoes you want to be able to have your windows down and still remain sane. I bought large sheets of mosquito netting then draped them over the door opening and then shut the door over them to make impromptu window screens for my van windows.