Guest Post: How to Plan a 3,000 Mile Cross-Country Road Trip
|Guest post author Patrick's trusty steed |
in the middle of a cross-country trip last year.
In today's guest post, professional photographer and adventurer Patrick Gensel lets us in on what it takes to pull off a trip that will take him from Northeastern Pennsylvania to some of the west coast's most iconic mountains.
He's no stranger to long drives and extended adventures; a similar trip last year took him from the east coast to the top of Mount Rainier and back. On this trip, he's hoping to summit another mountain that eluded him last year and see more of the American west.
In June, I will embark from Kingston, Pennsylvania and head toward the summits of Mount Hood and Mount Shasta with some rock climbing and sightseeing thrown in for good measure. My trip was born of and centered around an existing event - a convention for the Highpointers Club, taking place in Oregon at the base of Mount Hood. Sure, we could have booked a flight and easily rented a car while we were out there, but considering three of us are going and we all have flexible schedules, we decided to drive. On paper, the financial impacts were nearly the same, so we decided to make an adventure of it. We figured by driving our own vehicle, we would gain the flexibility we needed to visit Crater Lake National Park and venture into Northern California to climb Shasta.
The first step to any big trip is commitment. Decide the where and when, then commit to it. Write it on a calendar; you can always make adjustments as you need to, but having it in writing will help you stick to the plan. Once you have made the commitment to travel, then the fun begins. Logistics, Logistics, Logistics! How will you get there? Who will be accompanying you? How long will you be gone? What activities do you have in mind? All of these questions need to be answered. Choosing the right travel partners is important, and settling on a crew happened organically for me, as it often does. (Both of my travel partners were already headed to the High Pointers convention.) For tips on what makes a good travel partner, Brendan Leonard has it dialed.
|Patrick and friends during a road trip stop in 2011.|
Building an itinerary is important to help you stick to your travel goals. I ventured out on trips with no real itinerary, and though it can be fun to fly by the seat of your pants, I often found myself a bit unsure of where I wanted to go next or what I wanted to do. With an itinerary, you can at least give some semblance of structure to your trip, but keep in mind you do not have to stick to it 100%. Think of it as a guideline.
|Packing efficiently is essential!|
Now that you know where you are going and have an itinerary, what should you bring along? This, of course, depends on what your plans are, but making a packing list will help. For example, since my trip involves mountain travel and climbing, I will need a specialized set of clothing and equipment, which may make my pack load a bit bulkier than someone just traveling across the country to sight-see. I will need warm clothing, mountaineering boots, ropes, climbing gear and more. I also plan to do a lot of photography and to shoot video, so I will need that equipment to follow me as well. If your intentions are to just see the country, then by all means, leave the unnecessary items at home. I know from experience that traveling with excess is no fun!
With your itinerary set, and your plans laid out, now the hardest part begins - waiting to depart. If you planned well in advance, this may be difficult to do, but remember that the more time you put between planning and departure, the more time you have to compensate for any unexpected changes. This is a great time to store away any extra money you may want to take along with you, because faster than you expect, the day will come where it will be time to embark on your great adventure. Remember to have fun, and travel safe!
Patrick will be documenting his cross country journey on Adventure Travel Buzz beginning June 1st. Have you ever been on a trip like this before? Have you wanted to, but not made it happen yet? Leave a comment!
Patrick Gensel is a travel and outdoor junkie with an eye for photography. When he is not on the road or shooting photos, he can be found at home in Northeast, PA writing or editing photos for one of his many projects. Check him out over at www.adventuretravelbuzz.com, or follow @patrickgensel on twitter for more nonsense.