Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Preparing for Camping on a Long Road Trip

When we decided to take this journey as #LeapFrogs (see previous post here), friends and family began asking lots of great questions. I decided to create a blog post with the questions and answers in case anyone else wondered the same things. If you have other questions, please send them to me by e-mail, and I'll be happy to answer them as time permits.

How are you traveling?

Amazon's Car Top Carrier
We have our trusty SUV, nicknamed the RS Minnow (Roadship) and a tent, which I call the Palace, because it's quite large. The SUV is loaded with totes filled with everything we could possibly need (and that would fit). We also have a soft car top carrier, similar to the one pictured, but we may one day switch to a hard-sided one. This one seems quite adaptable and easy to use, but I wonder if a hard-sided one would be easier to pack. (I'd love your input if you have any experience using one or the other.) Eventually, we may add a cargo carrier on the back, but for now we're just stuffed to the gills.
Ozark Trail Tent

You don't have an RV! Where will you sleep?

We've always had tents, so tent camping is not new to us. We've given away all our tents the last few years, so this time, Tim gave me a wish list of what to look for, and we found this tent. Easy to set up was my top requirement, and room to stand up and move around were Tim's top requirements, and this fits all our requirements.

We were concerned about Tim being able to get up and down off the ground, and he normally sleeps in his recliner anyway, so we found this awesome folding recliner camping chair that he uses for his bed. It's comfortable and easy to use. It also seems to be well-made, too.

Magellan Outdoor Recliner
One feature we made sure it had, that we were surprised other models did not have, is the option to raise and lower the foot, exactly like a recliner. Other models don't offer that option - the foot stays raised the entire time. But this Magellan model from Academy works the way Tim needs it to work to get the most use of it. He sleeps well in it and has a blanket for cool nights and a -40 degree rated sleeping bag for cold nights.

I, on the other hand, can't sleep sitting up, so I have a sleeping bag rated at 0-20 degrees, so I should stay toasty warm most of the time. (Again, our plan is to avoid cold weather as much as possible, but we're prepared if it can't be helped!)

What will you do about the Internet since you have to stay connected for work?

We have numerous options, including hot spots with our phones. I've also traveled enough in the past that we've learned how to find public wi-fi from libraries, businesses, restaurants, and individual cities. I'm honestly hoping to limit my connection times on some days - trying to work offline when I can, and also learning how to disconnect for a few hours to get my eyes off the screen and onto the sights around me. I'm ready to experience nature again, explore towns first hand, connect with people face-to-face.

What about water for drinking purposes?

We have a 6-gallon water jug that we carry with us, and we seem to always have bottles of water and cups of coffee. I don't expect us to be isolated for long periods of time, but once we get out west, I may need to address that situation a little more.

What about the bathroom? 

Campgrounds have bath houses, and there are plenty of public facilities along the road. But I was concerned about night time bathroom use, so I purchased one of those foldable portable toilets. The one we got was a piece of junk - so we returned it before we ever left the house. The video provided by the company made the toilet seem perfect, but in use, the legs didn't fold like they were supposed to, and there was entirely too much handling of the whole thing. I hate cleaning bathrooms because of all the germs - why would I want to manhandle the toilet every time we made and packed up camp?

We'll probably still get a night time urinal but we'll figure out our needs as we move along.

What about bathing and showers?

Since I'm hoping to take advantage of many free camping sites, I knew showers would not always be available, so I did a quick search and learned several ways we could get showers on the road. (I'm not a bath person, so not having a bathtub is a plus!) I learned in my search that we can get showers at truck stops, campgrounds (even if we don't camp there, some campgrounds will let us use showers and laundry for a nominal fee), gyms (we're researching nationwide gym memberships now, to see which would be the most available, practical, and affordable), YMCAs, and community swimming pools. I loved knowing all of that was available.

Tim insists he's brave enough for outdoor showers in the woods, but I'm not quite there yet.

How will you cook?

Coleman Camp Stove
Camp cooking is something we've both done regularly, and we love to do it. We have a full tote with all our cooking gear, and we brought three of our iron skillets with us, so I expect we'll use those and the grill grate more than anything else.

We also have a camp stove that operates with propane cylinders.

We also brought along our French Press and electric water kettle - not as a splurge, although it does seem like a huge luxury. But we have an electric plug in our car, so if it's pouring rain or we can't make a campfire for some other reason (like fire bans), we can still have hot water for coffee, soups, cooking, or cleaning needs.

What about laundry?

We've culled our clothing quite a bit - giving away bags and bags of clothing before we left the house, then culling more once we got to Mom's and began rearranging the car. Public laundromats are in every town and almost every campground, so dirty clothes should never be a major issue.

What about safety? Are you afraid to travel?

Bear Spray
The world does seem to be getting more dangerous by the day, but hopefully we'll stay aware of our surroundings and remove ourselves before we are compromised. But we do
carry a variety of options to protect ourselves, and I blog after-the-fact, rather than in advance, so some wacko won't be waiting for us anywhere.

We also stay in touch with family and friends, so that someone knows our basic whereabouts most of the time.

It's winter time! How will you stay warm?

Our goal on this trip is to avoid the cold! Sorry, all you snow people, I am not one.

Unfortunately, right at the moment, the cold seems determined to find us. My son recommended this Mr. Heater Buddy propane heater that works with a small propane cylinder and is safe for indoor/tent use, so we got one of those.

We're also keeping a "#LeapFrogs Wish List" on Amazon to keep family and friends in the loop on our current needs and wants as we travel. I love Amazon's option to ship to us wherever we are!

Right now, I'm planning to post updates on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. That may change a little due to internet connections, but for now, that's my plan. Next post, I'll begin talking travel plans.

Family and friends have asked for ways to help us and participate in our journey. I've set up two buttons in the right column to do just that: the Feed the Frogs button is for Paypal donations, and the Wish / Needs List is our "registry" on Amazon. If you'd love to be part of the journey, we'd love to have you along. We greatly appreciate your support!

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