This past Summer I packed up my gear and set off to drive across the country not sure what situations I would end up in or come across. At first packing seemed like a dismal and complicated process. What would I need? What would I want? What could I pack now that may save my sorry ass later?
The trip ended up taking 10 weeks and consisted of nearly 18,000 miles of American pavement, sand, gravel and dirt. I ended up in a myriad of predicaments and circumstances that are seriously unreplicable. Bottom line, some of the gear I packed saved me money, my sanity, and definitely much hardship. Here are some items I brought with me that will be accompanying me going forward. Hope this helps all the would be wanderers out there.
1. IPod & AM/FM Radio Adapter- I can’t imagine driving anywhere without them. Let’s face it, the radio sucks. Listening to what you want should be part of the freedom of the road.
2. Portable Battery Jumper/Air Compressor- At around $100 this item is a must have for any traveler. My car battery died halfway down Mt Hood at a scenic overlook while I stopped to rest/enjoy the scenery, the 5 minute usage to jump the battery was more than enough justification for toting it around for 2 1/2 months.
3. Food Cache- Mini-marts and convenience stores are always an attractive pit stop for food and/or supplies. Don’t get caught in this trap, the outcome is always the same…you pay more for less. I purchased a small plastic bin and stocked up on the family size packages of granola bars, Ramen noodles, canned soups etc. Especially recommended if you will be camping.
4. Basic Camping Gear- Tent (3 person), Sleeping Bag (40-70 degree), small pot set, cast iron skillet, rechargeable lantern and camp mat. With just a few hundred dollars of gear you can eliminate the need to pay for expensive lodging nightly. Camping also provides you the opportunity to explore some of the lesser beaten paths. I picked up the above mentioned camp mat for $25, seriously the best $25 you’ll spend. Check them out at http://amzn.to/xjeoIf
5. Your Own Pillow- Whether couch surfing, napping in the car, or crashing in the tent it was always a comfort to have some semblance of home.
6. Cigarette Lighter Power Converter- For $10 on Ebay I purchased one that had USB Ports and an electrical outlet. Hands down, best way to recharge equipment while you drive. I was able to charge my Ipod, phone, GPS, camera battery, and lantern battery from one source.
7. GPS- I know, I know, you have GPS on your phone… Cell reception can be spotty at best in some areas and running the GPS on your phone zaps the battery life. A GPS can save you time, money on fuel, and gets better reception in a broader spectrum of areas. A GPS also has the ability to provide an exact Latitude/Longitude reading in case emergency help is needed.
8. Atlas- I know this may seem a bit redundant because of the GPS, however, Atlases will be useful to find information that a GPS does not offer. Try to plot your course with an atlas first to decide where you want to stop, what you want to see, and where to visit and then use the GPS to connect the dots.
9. Emergency Funding- Whether you stash a few hundred dollars somewhere or take an emergency credit/debit card I highly advise having some source of scratch. Anything can happen, the best we can do is try to be somewhat prepared.
10.Undeterring sense of adventure and the willingness to accept whatever hand the journey deals you. At some point, most likely, you will encounter bad weather, detours, flat tires, traffic, tourist traps and dozens of others hazards. It comes with the territory. Don’t loose focus, deal with it and get head to you next destination.