ROAD TRIP CALIFORNIA!!!! Yep, I said it (err, wrote it) in capital letters because I am that excited. I am road tripping across the sunshine state of California. Who doesn’t love a road trip? Journeying to new places, taking in beautiful scenery, all while singing ABBA, AC/DC and Ellie Goulding at the top of your lungs. Sure, it’s a weird mix of music but that’s how I roll. There’s a certain simplicity to a road trip, it’s like you can relax and rediscover yourself. You can slow down. Does that make sense? It makes sense to me in some strange way.
While it’s fun to do a friends style road trip, I prefer going solo. You learn so much about yourself and I honestly believe you come out of it a much stronger person. I mean, we’re talking serious road time with just you, a car and a whole lotta music. You’re bound to learn a lot and challenge yourself at the same time.
The last time I was on a road trip was in 2009. It was me, my Mazda 6, loads of music, and the exciting prospect of seeing some tennis. I drove 5 hours and 38 minutes or 597 kilometers to watch the Rogers Cup in Montreal. It was the first time since my college days that I’d been on a road trip and it was long overdue. Since I’m here writing this, you know I survived it, had loads of fun, and it gave me time to clear my brain about a few life choices that had to be made at the time. Divorce. Need I say more?
When I found out that Fincon was in San Diego, California this year, I was over the moon. I’ve always wanted to visit California but have never stopped longer than for a layover. So I made a plan to make a plan. I made the decision to take a month and travel across California. Is across the right word? Maybe “around” California? When you think of “across” it’s always when someone goes across an entire country from East to West, or something of the sort.
So here we are. Embarking together on The Ultimate Road Trip. I’ll be in the car a total of 28 hours or 1601 miles. Not all at once of course. I’ve found that I can handle 2 – 3 hour stretches in a car before I have to stop, so I made sure to plan the trip accordingly.
Since I’m a planner, the entire trip has been planned out and places to stay booked ahead of time. I don’t know about you, but I like to know where I’m laying my head each night and not have to worry about booking accommodations when I’m exhausted, possibly hungry, and have been driving for hours.
While the thought of camping or RVing crossed my mind, it was quickly squashed when I found out RV’s were not permitted in the Redwood National Park and I’ve never been camping. Oh and there are snakes and Black Widow spiders in Joshua Tree, and bears in Yosemite. Eeek!! I’m more of a Bed and Breakfast–AirBNB–hotel-type of gal. I won’t deny it, that’s who I am.
The Ultimate Road Trip in California
Are you ready for this? Here goes. I’ll be starting in San Diego and ending in San Francisco but with several stops along the way. A few key places: Palm Springs, LA, Napa Valley, Redwood Park, Yosemite and San Francisco. For most of the trip, I’ll be driving the famous Highway 1 or Pacific Coast Highway, which is renowned for its beautiful scenery. While the recommendation is to drive it North to South, I’ll be doing the reverse. It’s just the way things worked out. No big deal.
While I usually go on road trips in my own car, this time I’ll be flying to California and renting a car.
I have a few goals for this trip:
- Hike as many National parks as I can. I love exploring nature and getting outdoors. I’ll be visiting Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Point Reyes and The Redwood National Park. There are 20 parks in California!
- See the Redwood Forest. I couldn’t visit California and not see those giant towering trees, they’re nature’s skyscrapers 🙂
- Drive the Pacific Coast Highway.
- Learn how to travel in the US on a budget. This will be tough as accommodations are the biggest expense, but I’m doing my best to keep food and entertainment low.
- Write more travel content. Most of the travel content on my site is around Hawaii or locally where I live in Toronto, Canada. It’s time to expand the content library for you.
- Snap some amazing photos/create a project. I have over 22,000 photos in my library and counting, but I’ve never really endeavored into photography projects. I’m debating on the project themes, one will be architecture but I’m unsure of the other. Have a suggestion? Let me know in the comments.
Over the next month, you’ll be seeing posts about California’s cities, parks, food and fun things to do. I never go anywhere without enjoying the local food and heading to museums and art galleries. I’m also a lover of sunsets, mountains and beautiful scenery.
For me, travel is more than sitting on a beach roasting in the sun and drinking endless Mai Tai’s. It’s about discovering a new place in the world and immersing yourself in it. It’s seeing the beauty of the world and understanding how we’re all connected.
12 Tips for Planning your Road Trip
Learn the rules of the road. I know you already know how to drive, this is different. It’s a biggie because you don’t want any nasty traffic tickets or road rage experiences while on your trip. It’s also good to learn the rules of the road while inside National Parks. They can be quite different. For example, I found out that Yosemite requires tire chains or snow tires after October 1st. If you don’t have them, you may not be allowed into certain areas of the park.
Research the rental car company rules. If you’re taking your own car, great. Make sure maintenance is up to date and your insurance will cover you. If you’re renting, you’ll need to look into whether your car insurance covers your rental or your credit card does. You’ll also need to find out about restrictions. In the Yosemite example above, I found out certain agencies don’ t allow you to put chains on the car for snowy conditions.
Keep your phone charged and plan to check in with someone (daily if you can).
Plan your route in advance. Map out your trip ahead of time including distances and drive times. Who wants to be stuck in the middle of nowhere at night with nowhere to sleep? Not me. I have the entire trip mapped out on Google maps and have a physical paper map.
Learn how to change a tire. Because getting stranded or waiting for CAA/AAA sucks.
Bring a flashlight, blanket/towel, first aid kit, and knife/whistle/pepper spray. Most rental cars do not have any of these. It’s important that if you’re stranded, you have something to keep you warm and protection. Besides, if you’re hiking, most of these will double for your hiking trips.
Prepare a packing list. I always make two lists: items to bring from home and items that are easier to purchase when I arrive. Don’t forget all your accessories for your phone. I bring a car charger, car vent mount, emergency charger, IPod, and their related cables.
Download new apps. My faves? Gas Buddy, Open Table and RoadTrippers.
Buy snacks for the trip. We’re on a budget right? Well, it’s always good to stock up ahead of time on snacks and water to avoid expensive pit stops on the road when you’re hungry and don’t care how much you spend. For me, I’ll be making a stop at Costco in San Diego before I head out to stock up on nuts, protein bars, apples, coconut water and bottled water. I made sure to grab a Costco cooler bag before I left which I’ll be stuffing in my suitcase. Apparently they’re hard to find.
Plan for stops. Pee breaks, snack breaks, photo breaks and oh my goodness I gotta check that out breaks; plan for them so you’re not rushing from spot to spot on your trip.
Create and follow your budget. Enough said. The goal is not to accumulate debt from your road trip. Set a spending limit for food and entertainment each day and stick to it.
Research cell phone options before you leave. Can you use your Canadian plan in the US or would unlocking your phone and buying a SIM card work best? Check ahead of time with your provider about the travel options they offer.
There you have it, the ultimate four week road trip across California. So buckle up, get ready, we’re in this together. Be sure to follow along on Twitter and Instagram, I’ll be sending out updates regularly and InstaStorying it up.