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Expedition Guides Answer Top FAQs About Road Trips

Outdoor Curious™ with Katie Lambert and Ben Ditto
04 Sep 2020

Are you considering a road trip for your next adventure but not sure how to plan your trip? Ever wondered what you should bring along with you while road tripping? Eddie Bauer Rock Athletes Katie Lambert and Ben Ditto have traveled across the USA and other countries so they are full of tips, tricks and recommendations for your next road trip.

Watch the video above!

guide image Katie Lambert

KATIE LAMBERT

Eddie Bauer Rock Climbing Guide

A free climber with a maximum strength-to-stature ratio, Katie Lambert has crushed big walls around the globe, from Yosemite and Zion to Picos de Europa and the Cirque of the Unclimbables. Trading short sport routes for legendary big walls, in 2006 Lambert migrated west to Yosemite National Park and since then has established herself as one of the world’s premier female free climbers

guide image Ben Ditto

BEN DITTO

Eddie Bauer Rock Climbing Guide

After three decades of itinerant van residence, Ben Ditto is now living in the climbing epicenter of Bishop, CA.  From Baffin Island and the Patagonian Andes to the high Himalayas, the talented photographer has climbed with and captured the world’s best rock stars at the very limits of their discipline. His images have appeared in Climbing, Rock and Ice, and Alpinist, among other places.

What is a road trip?

I mean, you just pack up a car and head somewhere.

Yeah, and it doesn’t have to be far like you could road trip within your own state, within your own County. You could road trip big. You could go big. You could go all the way across the country on a mega road trip.

Yeah, I think we all feel that pull to get out of where we’re at now. The grass is always greener and it doesn’t mean you have to move there, doesn’t mean you have to relocate. You’re just going to check it out.

How do you plan a road trip?

Well, there’s lots of things to take into consideration. Like where do you wanna go? What do you wanna do? And that’s key, that’s number one. And then start to work backwards from there and thinking about how you’re gonna get there. What you gonna do when you’re there. Where you gonna sleep. Are you sleeping on the way? Are you camping? Are you renting a hotel room? Are you going to an Airbnb? Can you bring your pets?

So yeah, you start by asking yourself all those questions, and then you start making lists. And you know, you’re gonna need your sleeping bag. You kinda got your camping list and then you need your grocery list. And then, you know, everything just kinda starts to fall into place.

So if you, if you pull out a map, look at Google maps, but if you also have like a paper gadgeteer of like the whole country, a really good one actually has national geographics. Because it has all public lands on there. Then you can like really start to kinda plan out your route, especially if you’re gonna maybe even like going across the country or into another state. And you gonna be spending the night along the way to your destination. Having like a real paper map is super helpful actually, unlike finding places to stay or finding things to do along the way.

And road trips are really all about getting away and seeing something new and being able to focus on that. And doing a good job planning often means that you set yourself up for success. You can just focus on the adventure ahead and you don’t have to worry about, did I do all my errands that I needed to run? Is my dog going to get fed? Or my plant is gonna get watered? And all that stuff. You can just relax and look forward out into the horizon and head off into the sunset.

What to wear on a long road trip?

Clean underwear,

Anything comfortable, really, you just wanna be comfortable cause you’re just sitting in the car driving. Maybe you stop, you know, every once in a while to like do some stuff. As long as you’re comfortable, that’s like the most part.

Yeah, just dress for the weather and have a jacket nearby cause it’s gonna be cold when you get out or have a hat nearby cause it’s gonna be sunny when you’re there. Sunglasses are crucial. Get yourself a nice pair of shades and have a backup pair.

What do you bring on a road trip?

I guess that goes back to, well, what kind of road trip are you going on like what are you doing? So in saying that like we’ll actually always have a first aid kit in the car. Chains, snow chains because you never know. I shoveled in like so I always have a shovel with us in case we get stuck or something like that. Some extra rope laying around too, in case you need to get pulled out, or you gonna help someone else who might get stuck to get pull out. Sleeping bags is like crucial. Even if you don’t plan on camping, if you’re traveling long distance in your car, I think it’s really important to have a sleeping bag. There’s been like really terrible stories of people like freezing overnight cause they were unprepared. And if you just prepare yourself, then you’re setting yourself up a little bit better for success and survival out there.

Yeah. And I think the number one most important thing you can bring on a road trip is a positive mental attitude.

And water.

Best road trip in the USA?

I don’t know the best road trip in the USA. That’s a tough, that’s a tough one.

I think, you’d have to say that the best road trip in the USA is probably driving coast to coast through the USA. I mean, you’re gonna stay in some weird little small town hotels. You’re gonna meet some people at the diner, or you’re gonna stay at a state park somewhere, meet some people camping. It’s just a great way to get to know the country, get to know the community in those places where you stop. Yeah, I think a great road trips just cross country. What do we do on road trips? Well, we go new places, and we experience new things. I mean Katie and I, we would, we go climbing on a lot of our trips and we just make a road trip out of it. But we always seem to like to sniff around in weird spots, abandoned towns, old houses, this and that. And then we started calling those types of little forays. We would call it the tour of the obscure and we would always sniff out these weird little spots, some abandoned mine or whatever it was. We’d meet interesting people along the way and everything. And then at some point, Katie came up with this Atlas and she actually found the Atlas Obscura, which lists a lot of these interesting places based on the state and how you get to remember them and what’s going on there. So you can check that out online. The Atlas Obscura is a great way to plan little random moments in your vacation road trip.

What to take on a winter road trip?

Yeah, like I was saying sleeping bags is like number one primary thing. Definitely, some coats or shovel for sure, really good gloves, snow chains, a stove, some water, and some hot diverges. Doesn’t hurt to like throw some bourbon in there too.

You know, warm companion.

How to sleep in a car on a road trip?

You know, Ben has an interesting little story. He used to have a two-door hatchback that he slept in. How did you do that, Ben? That seems unlikely.

Yeah. Yeah, when I would sleep in my car, some of my first road trips, I actually just removed the passenger seat out of the car and I had a little platform built up, and then I could just sleep there. But I didn’t have a road trip partner, I was traveling around with a bunch of other rock climbers and we all had our own cars and so we were just kinda self contained in that way. Sleeping in my car in that way that was just like the ultimate hide out. I could, I was hidden in plain view. I could just be in a parking lot, but I’m in a two-door hatchback. So no one would ever think to look for me there. You know a lot of times if you’re sleeping in your car, you can get hassled and you’ll get told to go sleep in a campground or something like that. So you just gotta take that into account. If ever, if you wanna sleep in your car on a road trip, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re somewhere where it’s legal to sleep in your car a lot. You know a lot of times when you’re trying to crash in the city or something like that, you’ll get woken up in the middle of the night and told to leave, which that’s kind of a uncomfortable experience. So you wanna just try to eliminate that and just camp somewhere that’s legit to begin with.

How much does a road trip cost?

Well, what’s the price of a gallon of gas? And how far can you get on that gallon of gas in your car that you’re driving?

And where are you going? How far is it?

Exactly.

And are you gonna be making your own food, or you gonna be eating out?

If you wanna have a cheap road trip, the best thing you can do is have a really fuel efficient car these days. You can camp somewhere cheap, et cetera. You know, it’s also good to try to contribute something when you’re on a road trip, which, you know, tourist economies rely on tourist dollars. So when you’re in those small towns, yeah, maybe you’re not spending that much money at the grocery store, which probably isn’t locally owned anyway. And you’re probably not spending that much money on gas, which isn’t locally owned anyway. But you can go out to a local restaurant. You can have an burger, you can stay in a local hotel, get a shower, that sort of thing.

How to road trip with a pet?

If you’re gonna bring the dog with you, and you’re not sure about what you can or can’t do with the dog. Well, it’s important to like, look ahead and see like, can the dog go into this park? Or can the dog stay at this hotel? Or can the dog be awfully issue in certain areas? Are there dog parks? Like looking for dog parks is actually kind of a fun thing and also like brings you into cities that you might just be passing through instead you get to stop and stay for a little while.

Yeah, traveling with a pet can be a real complicating factor. But really it’s worth it in the long run if you plan accordingly. And you know, all of a sudden, you have to take into account, what’s gonna be fun for the dog and just being locked up all the time doesn’t seem that fun for a dog. So it’s nice to be able to plan around them and give them breaks and let them get out and run around and have a good time.

How long does it take to road trip across America?

I guess it depends. Like if you’re just trying to get to the other side, you could do it in a really big three days or three and a half days. But if you wanna take your time and like look at things, I think you’d give yourself like six days to stop and enjoy it.

Yeah, I think you need a minimum of a week to get from East coast to West coast if you’re calling it a road trip. And the point of that road trip is just to see the country like a minimum of a week. And then potentially a week to get back, or, you know, you take a different route, but you know, it’s over 3000 miles from coast to coast. So that takes a little bit, you can do the math on that at 70 miles an hour plus stops and sleeping at night and stuff. It’s gonna take you a while, and it should. You should take it slow and stop somewhere to eat in a funky cafe, in a little roadside restaurant and get the lay of the land a little bit, have a conversation with people.

What kind of food you bring on a road trip, Katie?

We bring a lot of oats so that we do overnight oats. For breakfast, which usually requires either yogurt or milk. Sometimes we’ll bring like powdered milk or yogurt that we have at home. We make a lot of sandwiches, a lot of little burritos, so like fish tacos, even some cans of fish and some tortillas, maybe some cabbage. You can just put all that stuff together, have a quick lunch. I like fresh fruits and vegetables as much as possible. And then other snacky things too cause you get kind of bored and restless. For dinner, like maybe we’ll do like rice, noodles with some broth and some vegetables, stuff like that.

Just the basics, really. Just a quick things to keep you going along the way.

So what are you to check on your car before road trip?

Well, we checked to make sure that we’re not gonna need an oil change or you just wanna be aware of it cause you can always get an oil change on a road trip. That’s actually kind of a fun thing to do on a rest day in a small town somewhere. I mean windshield wipers, crucial headlights, crucial antifreeze, crucial, just a quick–

Air in the tires.

Yeah, just a thorough pre-road trip car check is a really great idea to set yourself up for success. It’s all the basic mechanical stuff that could possibly go bad. You just wanna make sure that you’ve got all that stuff in order. What are some unexpected things I might encounter during a road trip? Gosh, it could be anything really. We’re talking about–

weather.

You know weather.

Flat tires, anything going wrong with the car is always unexpected.

I mean something unexpected could be that you don’t even get to where you’re going. You find a new place to go along the way, and then you just find something completely unexpected. And that is really the point of a road trip often. It’s just to find unexpected things, unexpected moments. I mean if we could always tell exactly what was gonna happen to us, how boring would life be? So you kinda looking for that unexpected moment on a road trip. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a flat tire or a broken down car or a broken up relationship to find out where you’re supposed to be going. But those are the risks we take.

How to organize a car for a road trip?

I always liked to have the food be the most accessible thing deep within the car. Maybe that’s the stuff you don’t really need until you’re getting to where you’re going. Maybe that’s like the climbing gear or the hiking gear or whatever it is. And then like further out towards, you know, the outside of the trunk or whatever, maybe that’s where like the clothes and the sleeping stuff is. And then the easiest thing to get to being like the ice chest and the food bag, that’s how I always organise it.

How to find road trips stops?

The maps. Google maps and the paper maps for sure are helpful. Google maps is awesome cause you can like search what’s around you of interest. And then paper maps will have, you know, monuments and parks and lakes and you know, stuff like that on there.

Yeah, and sometimes road trips are just self exploratory. You don’t really know what you’re gonna see along the way. And so just give yourself the time to be able to stop and explore a little bit.

Things to do while driving during a road trip?

I mean, it’s like 10 and two, right? Both hands on the wheel, eyes straight ahead, no conversing with your passengers and everything, of course like strict, strict protocol, all right, Katie?

Sure, applied tasks are good. I like listening to language tapes, talking to the other people in the cars is pretty good, music downloads.

A great thing the passenger can be doing on a road trip is scouring that Atlas that you have with you. The passengers job is basically to be locating the cool spots that we’re gonna pass next. They can identify the mountains along the way. They can tell you what river that is. They can tell you what funny little town you just drove through. That’s really a great thing to do on a road trip. It’s just familiarize yourself with your surroundings.

What are iconic road trip destinations?

Like Ben said California, I think for sure. National parks, for sure, Route 66 is pretty interesting. I drove some of that recently on my way back from the East coast.

Search for a scenic byways that are near you. I mean–

Grand Canyon, obviously.

There’s a lot of them out there. I mean obviously any park or whatever, but there’s a lot of like local scenic byways that are some kind of scenic loop that, you know, it’s just kinda set up through tourism and for people to do road trips on there. We’ll be campgrounds and that sort of thing.

I personally like road trips, I like getting in the car, driving around, going to see like new places, seeing what we experience along the way, go with a good mindset, be open minded about what can happen, and be patient.

Yeah, get out there, go on a road trip.

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