While you’re eating dry Ramen and sleeping in the back seat of your car, Joe Climber (above) is road tripping in style.
Pack and travel smart for maximum fun
You’ve been working your butt off for the last six months, storing up vacation time for just the right moment. Then it happens. The phone rings — it’s your buddy calling from Lander, Wyoming, and he’s one move away from sending Brown Trout (5.11c) at Sinks Canyon. He needs a partner ASAP, so off you go. Use these 10 tips and you’ll hit the road quickly, efficiently, and in good style. Get organized. Store staple items such as canned foodstuffs, the stove, a few canisters of gas, and some baby wipes in a heavy-duty rubber bin. Fill another bin with fleece, raingear, a tent, and your sleeping bag. Use a third bin for food, silverware, and pots. Save your pennies. Leaving a route unsent due to inadequate funding sucks. Budget out $25 a day for travel within the United States and you’ll have enough for gas, the occasional car repair, and food. Loft It. If you drive a truck, van, or a station wagon, it’s easy to build a loft platform in the back of your ride. This provides free shelter for nights when you can’t camp, and makes it easy to rack out during long drives. Build your loft so that you can store your bins underneath, keeping your vehicle organized. Visit AAA. Providers of Trip-tics (detailed driving directions), traveler’s checks, maps, roadside assistance, and, um, bail bonds, the American Automobile Association is your friend. For $70 a year ($60 to renew) they’ll hook you up, saving time and aggravation. Get golden. Fifty bucks buys you a Golden Eagle Pass, which admits you (and those in your vehicle) to all National Parks for one year. Road tunes. These are almost as important as your climbing shoes on a road trip. Keep your favorite CDs or MP3 player handy so you can rock out to Kenny G, Boy George, and Britney Spears as you cruise through the barrens of Nebraska. Loud music has kept me from snoozing at the wheel more than once! Book smart. Many libraries provide free Internet access to the general public. Some require a library card; most require that you reserve a time slot in advance. Either way, this is a great way to access web-based e-mail accounts like Hotmail or Yahoo. Depending on the length of your trip, your local library can hook you up with books on tape, helping you sharpen your intellect as you tool down the highway. Shop smart. Many grocery stores offer discounts on select items if you sign up for a free savings card. Also, mega-stores like Sam’s Club or Wal-Mart are inexpensive places to stock up on pre-packaged grub. Drivin’ stealth. Depending on your political, personal, and “recreational” interests, the back of your ride may boast a few stickers. The combination of out-of-state plates and messages like “Bad Cop, No Donut” often leads to unwanted scrutiny and/or a night in the clink. Better to be discrete and yank the stickers.