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Thanks to a certain global pandemic, domestic traveling has gotten quite popular. In this article, we’ll talk about the joys of traveling by car and introduce three very different road trippers. Hop in!
Covid crapped on the plans of many a globetrotter for a long while. And flying to remote places isn’t as alluring nowadays anyway. It’s no wonder that many people want to explore their home country nowadays. And there are often very cool destinations very close to home. Domestic traveling can be done e.g. by train, bike, or on foot but if you want to go a bit further and want to avoid potential plague zombies, the car is the best option at the moment.
Pros and cons of car trekking
One clear benefit of road tripping is that you don’t need to be that careful with packing. You can in fact take along too much crap and still save money cause ultralight often also means ultra expensive when it comes to camping gear. This means that for example military surplus is the best friend of car folks. It is sturdy and cheap but lightweight it often ain’t, which isn’t a problem when traveling by car.
Packing is also easy because your car doesn’t give a rat’s ass about ergonomics. Of course, you should pack the heaviest stuff at the bottom and fragile items separately unless you think that the best in life is the lamentation of your fellow travelers. In case you have a tiny car or loads of people in it, you need to think about packing a bit more. Roof racks and ski boxes help quite a bit in such a case. In any case, there’s no point in bringing any useless extra stuff with you.
Even though traveling by car is freer than public transportation, you cannot (and definitely shouldn’t) drive everywhere. However, you can easily combine car trips with hiking, mountain biking, trail, running, hunting, and canoeing in case you want to see places where your car cannot take you.
Road trippers have various options for accommodation. In case you like it easy, there are lots of hotels, motels, B&Bs, staying at relatives, etc. You can also travel by a Winnebago or drag a huge fiberglass shack with your car. But let’s leave those out because they are more glamping than camping.shelter. If you have a wide backseat, a van, or a pickup, you can sleep fairly comfortably in the car. A van can even fit a couple of foldable beds. If there isn’t enough space or the weather is hotter than hell, take along a tent, tarp, hammock, or something similar. Sleeping in the car during a heatwave is a bad idea.
Remember that there are usually rules regarding where you can or cannot camp. Finland is fairly liberal in this respect but some other countries aren't. Pay attention to local rules because otherwise, you might get a bit more pricey accommodation in a jail cell. Especially don’t set up your tent on a path where people might flatten it with a truck.
Because the season and the weather dictate your sleeping gear quite a lot, the only general guideline you can have is to sleep according to the conditions. A sleeping bag is the most common solution but on a hot summer night, those can be unbearable. A thin blanket, a duvet cover, etc. can be a better option then. It is usually possible to bring along a pillow, but a hoodie, sweater, or towel works as well. A sleeping pad might be good to have in case you don’t have a soft seat or a field bed.
How about food and drink
Roadtrippers have loads of food options. Take along your own food or eat along the way, or combine these as you wish. Whatever you do, you should bring along something to drink. That means non-alcoholic stuff. Or a water purifying system. Booze you should only drink moderately at your destination. Even if your buddy is driving, it is better to be sober cause they probably won’t enjoy touring with a bunch of drunken monkeys.
if you like to make your own food, bring along cooking gear and cutlery. Trangia or some other cooker is good to have especially in summer because open fire isn’t always allowed. On shorter trips, it is of course ok to eat cold snacks, and even on longer trips, you should take along some easy eating. In hot weather, a cooler is your best friend in case you travel with perishables. Coolers also keep your drinks colder.
You should always keep enough tools in your car because lots of stuff can happen on the road. Most mere mortals cannot fix modern SciFi cars anyway so most have no use for such tools. Everybody should be prepared for changing a tire though. An axe and saw are worth bringing along in case you need to clear fallen trees/branches out of the way in the middle of nowhere. A knife comes in handy in many a task. Sometimes you might also need a shovel, multi-tool, headlamp, rope, and this and that. It is good to think about potential hazards beforehand and prepare accordingly.
Bags and stuff
A roadtripper that doesn’t venture far away from the car doesn’t need an expensive backpack since durability and ergonomics aren’t super important. Any kind of a bag that can take the weight of your gear is ok. Big duffel bags and such are quite perfect. Of course, if you combine road-tripping with hiking, a good backpack or a day pack are nice things to have for your hiking gear.
The rest is up to you and your trip
You can continue these lists endlessly and still not fit everything. The most important thing is to plan the list according to your needs and leave out completely unnecessary things. Short trips don’t require much but a few weeks' trek across the country requires proper planning. Spare clothes, a toothbrush, and a towel are at least worth having on all trips that take more than a day.
Underneath here, we will present one roadtripper per week for three weeks. Each one has a different vision of what you need to survive on the road. You might not want to follow all the advice they have.
4x4 Country boy
Put on some Hank, Willie, Waylon, Johnny, or David Allan Coe and your finest plaid shirt, jump in the truck, and get on the road again! Good ol’ 4x4 truck will get you anywhere and also back from some of those places. You can easily combine road tripping with hiking, hunting, and fishing even in the bumfuck nowhere and lousy weather, because you won’t get stuck that easily. If you do, you need a tractor so you shouldn’t try your luck everywhere. Deep water, national parks, people’s yards, and some forbidden valleys are off-limits. But those muddy and bumpy country roads are the highways of the pickup truck fan.
What you can’t fit in your truck ain’t worth taking along. And you don’t need to play that gear Tetris when you have a truck, just bring along enough bags. If you get tired, there’s enough space to sleep comfortably or at least adequately on the pickup bed. In case you’re not into that sort of thing, there’s also enough space for a big ass tent and field kitchen.
If you go in the god-forsaken badlands somewhere far away from people, you better be prepared for something breaking down. And have plans for how to fix that. Older pickup trucks aren't overly complicated.
However, if you don’t venture far away from your truck, you won’t need much stuff with you. And when the life on the road feels tiresome, take me home, country roads!
Post-apocalyptic road warrior
Summers get hotter, weather more extreme, and plague zombies roam the earth. It smells like the countdown has begun. This isn’t a holiday. This is war. And the first rule is that only the strongest and smartest survive. Therefore you need a reliable and simple car from the east and you only pack along what you can fit in the bugout bag. The rest you can pick along the way.
The road warrior packs light because you don’t travel when it suits you but before it is too late. And the essential survival gear is kept in the car.
Where there are people, there are also enemies. Stay out of sight and out of sights. Sleep in remote places, in your car, and ready to take off. Rule number two is that it is the fast zombies that get you. So, wear something that allows you to move quickly and run when necessary. Since the apocalypse doesn’t spell AC, too much clothing is stupid in summer. And merino wool is bliss when you cannot wash your gear with them fancy soaps anymore.
When the world collapses, guns come to play. Make sure that you have more firepower than your opponents. A small backpack is a must for your scavenging trips. Rule number four is that a big knife solves bigger problems. What about rule number three? Forget it and make your own rules!
Fear and Loathing in Lahti
I was somewhere around Hollola, when my visions started to become clear. Forget about the mosquito hell in bumfuck nowhere. Let’s do an urban holiday in the original Sin City, Lahti in Finland. Hop in a good ol’ American car and seek the truth that is like a fucking big… fiery-eyed electric rabbit in the sky. The furry bugger that craps on you if it can. And eats your astral carrots. That prick.
What about luggage? Maybe you have some, maybe you don’t. Not too much at least. The urban pioneer isn’t a prisoner of the system. We travel light. The freedom to come and go as you please is like rum without coke. Gets you drunk faster. You only need a small bag for necessary things and clothes that blend in any surroundings like a toxic chameleon.
Traveling right is best when the big light in the sky is happy. Then the energizing Ley lines flow exactly along the Lahti highway. And there’s no use fighting them. Go with the flow, man. That hungry beast never sleeps. And luckily it eats electric rabbits. Don’t let your adventure wait. Adventures should never be angered.