How do you prepare to leave your life behind for three months and drive around the country? Well, if you’re me, you do it too quickly to feel like you’ve done it right, even though it took way too long.
I have no idea what I’m going to want to do for a job when I get back (well, I have a couple ideas, but I’m trying to keep my options open), and it isn’t likely that I’ll stay in the immediate Santa Monica area. So, instead of trying to find someone to sublet, or continuing to pay rent while I’m gone, I just decided it was time to move out. I’d lived there for 5 years already, and even though the rent was pretty nice, it was time for a change. So, everything went into storage.
Quick Tip: If you’re ever doing something like this yourself, and cringe at the thought of renting a truck, loading it up, driving to a storage unit, sweating all day, and then dumping everything inside… there may be places that will pick stuff up for you. I found a local place in West LA that will pick up your already-boxed-stuff for free if you’ll be staying with them for more than three months. In my case, I had found way cheaper units, but the stress-reduction was totally worth it.
This was a big debate. For months, I was planning on taking my MINI – as my friend Albert put it, “it’s your trusty steed“. However, that steed has gone pretty soft, and is more accustomed to city life than traversing questionable country roads at this point. It’s just too low for dirt trails, too small for all my stuff, and a tad too flashy for a solo trip across the country. I don’t need anything that screams “I may have money, so why don’t you go ahead and take it from me” while I’m traveling by myself.
So, I hit up my good friend “The Internet” to see what I could find. I wanted something with OK gas mileage, plenty of storage space, and room for a few passengers. But above all, it had to be big enough that I could comfortably sleep in it if the need arose. I ended up with a 2015 Jeep Patriot.
Quick Tip. When looking for long-term rental cars, not all rental locations are created equal. Apparently, local branches in random places within a city can have different “unlimited mileage” rules than airport locations. Specifically, at airport locations you can usually take the car out of state, but at local branches you may be limited to a couple neighboring states.
This presents a frustrating problem, since the local branches are often significantly cheaper than the airport locations. So, what I ended up doing was using a bunch of the online search sites (like Kayak.com) to find the cheapest locations, then calling them up to double check their policies. I managed to find my Jeep at a local branch for a third of the price of the airport, even after they added $150 per month to cover my taking it out of state.
Largely, my philosophy on “other stuff” while I’m gone is that I can buy what I really need along the way. However, I’m not made of money, so I’m bringing a bunch of things I already own and am reasonably certain I’ll find useful.
For survival, I’ve got a tent, sleeping bag, first aid kit, lighter, knife, propane lantern (note to self, buy some propane for the lantern), paper towels, and a nice roll of toilet paper (just in case). And since I’m not an animal, I stuffed an inflatable mattress into the car… along with the complimentary air pump.
For clothing, I took about three-week’s worth – since I don’t know when I’ll be able to get to a laundromat, and don’t relish the thought of wearing the same underwear for weeks on end. You’re welcome, citizens of my route.
For sustenance, I brought a case of water, nuts for snacking, some fruit, a loaf of bread, peanut butter (crunchy, of course), and jelly. To keep it cool without getting everything soggy, I acquired a thermoelectric cooler that plugs into the cigarette lighter. I’ll be restocking along the way too, I’m really trying not to come back 300 lbs heavier than I left after eating typical truck stop fare.
And hey, I’m trying to do a variety of creative things along the way too… so here’s a video of the packing process.
“So, Devin, where’s your first stop?”
Yeah… about that. I haven’t figured out which direction I’m going to be headed yet. Taking care of all this other stuff takes up a surprising amount of time. I have some friends going to Big Bear this weekend, so I’ll be joining them there, and trying to figure it out along the way. I’m just anxious to get on the road, and don’t want to delay any further.