Back To Basics : Life On The Road

 

Lake Tahoe - Into The Eco - Life On The Road - Travel - Natural Beauty

 

Since posting about our travels around California last year, we have received a lot of questions. Asking how we got around and travel tips we can share. I love writing about our American adventure, so I’m more than happy to talk about our time spent on the road. I hope it helps answer any questions people may have, and inspires you to take a trip of your own.

While Josh and I were on our travels we stopped at some great places (read about Yosemite and San Francisco) but most of our time was generally spent on the road, seeing what some might say the real America. Travelling with destinations in mind and stopping off where ever took our fancy along the way. This might be some peoples idea of hell, but we enjoyed the freedom and the challenge of going back to basics for a while.

 

American Road Trop - Into The Eco - Back To Basics

Stopping Off To Admire The View And Stretch Our Legs

 

America can be an expensive place if you want to travel luxuriously. We were on a very tight budget, to say the least. Realistically, we couldn’t afford such a big trip, but we had a spontaneous idea to go and we just went with it. Throwing caution to the wind, and worrying about our wallets upon return.

We booked a couple of places to stay so we had something to aim for along the way. A ropey hostel with shared bathrooms at the beginning of the trip in San Fran. A lovely Airbnb to end the trip in LA which I am happy to recommend. Lastly, one really dingy room at Circus Circus (the oldest casino on the strip) during the middle of the trip in Las Vegas/Hell on earth for me.

Due to our budget, we couldn’t afford to stay in fancy hotels, so the rest of the time we left open and camped, with the exception of two nights when showering was a necessity, so we treated ourselves to a stay in one of the many motels America has to offer. You can normally just rock up on the day.

When it comes to camping we went super basic. Nicknaming ourselves Basic Bitch Camp. Some of our fellow campers had come beyond prepared in comparison. Our camp consisted of a small two-man tent, two sleeping bags, two roll mats, a rolled up towel for a pillow, some mess tins and reusable cutlery for eating, some marshmallow toasting forks, ingredients for smores, tins of beans, corn, a bit of meat here and there, plenty of firewood and a trusty bottle of rum (to warm the tum).

 

American Road Trip - Lake Topaz - Camping - Into The Eco

Welcome To Basic Bitch Camp… This Is IT. Stop Off at Lake Topaz Into The Eco - American Adventure - Back To Basics - Camping

American Adventure - Joshua Tree - California - Into The Eco

 

We wanted to prove that we didn’t need much other than some good tunes and each others company to have a good time and see some beautiful parts of the world. Most campsites have fire pits and even in the national forests, most sites had DIY pits made from rocks, which makes life a lot easier. There isn’t much that can compare to the warm calming feeling of watching the fire. (Of course, always make sure to leave no burning embers.)

So far I am probably making the whole thing sound unappealing, but going back to basics has its plus points. It made for quick camp set up in an evening and packing up in the morning was a breeze. Allowing us to move on quickly. This is exactly what you need when road tripping. A couple of times we arrived at a good pitch location and got set up just before it got dark.

 

American Road Trip - Lake Topaz - Camping - Into The Eco

Watching The Sun Go Down Over Lake Topaz

Road Trip - Arizona - Camping - Into The Eco - Back To Basics

Clearing Up Camp In The National Forest Near The Grand Canyon

 

Then the fun begins. Building the fire, listening to music, finding a good log to sit on, and talking till the fire goes down. Looking up at the stars in the sky. Then wrapping up in as many layers as possible and getting tucked in for the night. We went around Easter, so it was still quite chilly at night.

I would say we pretty much winged it. Driving to see the amazing natural phenomenon, like Monument Valley, The Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree National Park, Lake Tahoe, then finding a place to sleep. Slowly edging closer to our the next place, taking in the breathtaking rolling landscapes, and that is all there really is to it.

Here are some things we learnt from our journey:

 

American Road Trip - California - Camping - Into The Eco - Back To Basics

Driving Around The Mountains to get to Lake Tahoe

American Road Trip - California - Camping - Into The Eco - Back To Basics

Having Some Fun In The Snow

 

Less is More.

Previously I was not a big camper, but I am converted. I think I dealt with it really well, bar a couple of freakouts in the middle of the night when camping in the national forests. 

Genuinely, the time spent on the road are some of the fondest memories of our entire trip. Spent listening to our favourite music, driving down desert roads, around bendy mountain trails, along 13 ft of snow, having random conversations with others on the road.

From the crisp snowy mountains in Lake Tahoe to the hot Death Valley desert. It was an exhilarating feeling and the views were the best I have ever seen in my life. Humbling to say the least. The fewer distractions the better I say, a trip like this makes you realise, how much we worry about always being entertained. Be present in the moment, these opportunities don’t come around that often. 

 

 Into The Eco - American Adventure - Back To Basics - Grand Caynon

The Grand Canyon - Into The Eco

There are not many places with such geological, cultural and environmental importance as the Grand Canyon

 

Connection with Nature.

The start of this trip marked a special time for me. I had finally got the courage to start Into The Eco and we couldn’t have timed a better trip for seeing why it is so important to look after our planet.

In a short space of time, we experienced the beauty of living simply and enjoying nature at its best. Waking up to the sun flowing into our tent in the middle of nowhere, opening your tent, to see you are surrounded by trees or overlooking a beautiful lake. Just wow!

When arriving at your new home for the night, slowing down and taking it all in. Camping for us was not about finding trendy hang out spots or using fancy gear, we decided to do it as a means to do the things we wanted to do, and realised that camping isn’t just more fun, but it’s also a state of mind.

Seeing a beautiful part of the world in this way enabled us to take a step back and bridge the gap between us and our respect for the natural world. I felt a broader understanding of why we need to protect and sustain natural beauty and the places we live, and not to take any of it for granted. With the experience came a deeper understanding of the world outside of our everyday vision and the joy in the simplest of pleasures. It is important to not just be told why we need to be mindful of the environment but to experience why for yourself. Go live it!

 

Adventure - Joshua Tree - California - Into The Eco - Back To Basics

Adventure - Joshua Tree - California - Into The Eco - Back To Basic

Exploring The Rock Formations Of Joshua Tree

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Joshua Tree - Sunset - Into The Eco - American Adventure - Back To Basic

The Night Sky Over Joshua Tree

 

Gratitude.

We know how lucky we are to have taken this trip, we felt so grateful to have this opportunity. Just looking back through the photos is giving me a lump in my throat. We returned home more mindful with a sense of responsibility and purpose. Knowing that those who respect nature, respect themselves.

Respecting nature is acknowledging that our everyday behaviour has a knock on effect. This increased connection with simple and natural ways of living brought us more happiness than expected, how could anyone feel down watching the sunset across Joshua Tree?

I like to think we have kept all of these sentiments with us upon returning back to normal city life. Knowing that our outlook on life is more important than anything else.

Quality Time.

We spent real quality time together, just the two of us, with no distractions. No phones, definitely no wifi or Netflix. We made memories that will stay with us forever. I learnt the joy of breaking free of the city buzz, turning down convenience for adventure, enjoying the silence, breathing in the fresh air, cooking on an open fire with nothing but a bit of Bruce Springsteen playing while listening to the fire crackle. I am not going to lie, you have to make your peace with smelling like a bomb fire and not showering every day, but it is so worth it. 

 

 Into The Eco - American Adventure - Back To Basics - Road Trip

Adventure - Yosemite - California - Into The Eco - Back To Basics

 

Adventure is out there.

Looking back I do feel quite brave for agreeing to go on such a trip. I am happy that I am the kind of person who not only went along with the idea but loved every minute of it. At first, I wanted to spend more time in the cities, but Josh assured me that adventure is outside of the cities, and he was right.

Most of all we relaxed and escaped the familiar. Not once in my life have I started the day not knowing where I was going to end up sleeping that evening. We let go of expectation, the pressures of pretences were lifted, we were there only for ourselves and we enjoyed our journey.

Try not to compare your trip to others who have done it before. We read up here and there, but not too in depth, we mostly trusted the process. The trip was real. So I would advise anyone who is planning a similar adventure, try to do the same, go with the flow and trust that all will be work out for the best.

 

The Grand Canyon - Into The Eco - American Adventure - Back To Basics

American Adventure - Lake Tahoe - California - Into The Eco - Back To Basics

 

Quick Tips.

  • Download maps on your phone before going. You can’t rely on having a signal and 16 days using 3G will cost you a small fortune. You can access the maps freely without any worry.

  • Have a route in mind. What are the main things you want to see? Plan your route around those places.

  • Always take the scenic route. Stay off the major freeways where possible. It is much slower but so beautiful.

  • Allow time for rest and don’t rush too much. Let yourself take it all in, no sleeping in the car, you will miss so much beautiful scenery. This obviously applies to the passenger, definitely no sleeping in the car for the driver.

  • Plenty of water always. Refill your bottles where ever you can, and have a sugary drink on hand to perk you up if you are feeling low on energy. I recommend Iced Tea. We got a bulk carton from Walmart and it lasted the whole trip.

  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Luckily in America, they are huge portions and normally come with a side of potatoes. Most days after a hearty breakfast it kept us full until stopping in the evening.

  • Make yourself a banging playlist before you go. This will make driving around so much fun. We threw in some chilled vibes, some good sing-a-long tunes, American folk etc. Go for it. We also mixed it up and enjoyed listening to some good podcasts.

  • Comfy clothes and shoes are a must. Suitable for warm and cold climates, layers are always a good decision, my woolly hat was a life saver. I recommend a good pair of jeans, comfy shorts, mix and match T-shirts, a jumper, a scarf, a hoody and jogging bottoms, you get the gist. (We didn’t have any specialised gear, just our usual clothes, and it worked fine.)

  • Keep Vegas short and sweet. For me, one night was more than enough two max. Going there reminded me why we need to love nature. It is the land of excess in every sense of the word, I couldn’t wait to leave. The Hoover Damn is definitely worth a trip if you are in the area.

  • National forests are free to camp. If like us you are on a budget this really helps. Campsites are very reasonable though, some you may need to book in advance like The Grand Canyon. We didn’t and it was full already.
  • Earth Day gets you free entry to the national parks for a whole week. Check out the dates before you go, this saved us a lot of money, and we got to see Yosemite and The Grand Canyon twice for free. Thanks, Earth!
  • Take rubbish bags. Make sure to leave your pitch nice and tidy as you found it. They also come in handy keeping a clean car. Make them biodegradable if you can find them.
  • Hand sanitizer and baby wipes will be your best friends. I don’t think I need to explain this one.
  • Take a decent torch. This will come in very handy, it is always good to be able to see what you are doing.
  • Pine Cones are great for getting the fire started. Keep a couple of trusty lighters to hand, you will need them.
  • Carry a portable phone charger. Most cars have USB ports now, I would suggest keeping the phone you are using for directions and music plugged in at all times. They are notoriously slow at charging though, so keep a spare charger, just in case.
  • Stop the car as often to take photos. Admire the view. If in doubt, stop. This is what you came for.
  • Try not to freak out at night in the tent. Most of the time it just the wind. Not a bear.
  • Stay Safe. Have any emergency numbers you may need written down somewhere handy.

You are good to go! Take care go have an adventure! But remember you don’t have to fly to another country to have an adventure, explore the beautiful places close to home too. Please let us know if this has been useful, any more questions you have please ask away.

Love Lottie,

Into The Eco xx

 

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6 Comments

  1. 4th March 2018 / 9:12 am

    Reading this is making me impatient for my next adventure (I’m going to New Zealand at the end of this year and I can’t wait!!!). The Grand Canyon in particular looks incredible. Come to Australia someday! Awesome read and great photos. xx

    • 7th March 2018 / 9:45 am

      Hey Omara, wow New Zealand, I would love to venture that way one day. It is so far for us to get there, but I have heard so many good things!
      It is nice that you have something to look forward to!

      Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment xxx

  2. 5th March 2018 / 11:11 am

    Hey Lottie, I did a similar road trip a few years ago. But we didn’t camp, we had a bad experience camping before haha!! But so much of what you said resonated with me. I found the nature almost magical, I’m so jealous of the parks they have over there. We also downloaded a playlist for the driving before we went, full of US driving music. And I’m sooooo with you about Vegas! Not my kind of place at all!

    • 7th March 2018 / 10:24 am

      Hi Laura. Uh oh, I am intrigued! We were very lucky weather wise for camping, no rain. So true, their parks are just out of this world, JEALOUS! I am glad I am not the only one who wasn’t a fan of Vegas, such a stark contrast from the rest of our trip, you need money to be able to enjoy it for what it is I think. We just walked around a lot…there is no where to just sit and chill out. Good to say you’ve been there though. Thank you for reading lovely xxx

    • intotheeco
      Author
      14th August 2018 / 1:16 pm

      Thank you so much that makes me so happy to hear. Often the natural beauty of the places we are at the time helps, my adventure partner also happens to be a great photographer too, so that also helps. Love, Lottie xx

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