A gay writer on a solo van trip for the first time; His dos and don’ts on the road
By: Mikey Rox * / Special TRTâ
Sixteen months ago, I sold almost everything I owned, hopped in a pickup truck equipped for a living, and hit the road. I had done a few short solo trips in the past, but it was different. It was permanent. I no longer had a place to call home. Outside the was where I lived now.
Almost a year and a half later, I have learned a lot about nomadic life and solo travel in particular, especially in the limiting parameters of a pandemic. Since sharing is benevolent, here are my expert tips on how to plan the best road trip in 2021 AC (After COVID).
Prepare your vehicle
Before embarking on a road trip that will take you more than a few hours from home, make sure your vehicle (or van) is prepared. Change your oil, fill up with fluids, check your windshield wipers, and rotate or upgrade your tires; the last thing you want on this mobile vacation is frustrating and costly car trouble. If you are not an AAA cardholder, consider becoming one. (Despite road trips, this is great emergency coverage.) Because I’m on the road full time now, often in remote areas, I have the first membership plan that provides me with all the benefits, including up to 200 towing, a big plus if the nearest service center is far away. There are lower and less costly levels of coverage that you can purchase to meet your individual’s needs.
Make sure you know where all of your vehicle’s tools are also located, including the spare tire and its change kit.
I was once driving my van on New York back roads late at night with no cell service when I had a flat tire that forced me to change it. I spent a scared hour in the middle of nowhere frantically searching for my Volkswagen for tire changing tools before locating it in a hidden compartment that I failed to familiarize myself with until I desperately needed it. . It is also essential that you learn how to change an apartment on your own if you don’t already know. Don’t be embarrassed to ask a friend or family member to show it to you. If you want to tinker with it, YouTube has plenty of videos, some specific to the make and model of your vehicle. Or, if you’d prefer a little eye candy with your handwork tutorials, let one of TikTok’s hot woods do the trick.
Flares are also important to have on hand for two reasons: so that other vehicles can see your vehicle in the dark and avoid accidentally running over it and alert emergency services that you may need to. help. A policeman will stop to help you if he sees flares indicating the location of your vehicle. You will appreciate this help if you are stuck at night with no way to contact someone else.
Rest and start early
I hate to be in a rush and I hate driving long distances, but I often can’t help the latter if I have to be from point A to point B in a short period of time. To allow myself long breaks on the road, I leave as soon as possible with enough rest from the day before. I don’t drive more than two hours in a row without taking a break, and I try to find interesting stops on my route that will allow me to stretch my legs and distract myself a little from the driving.
Your departure time plays an important role in how efficiently you get to where you are going. If I am leaving from a metropolitan area, I always leave after the morning rush hour to avoid early morning traffic jams which will automatically stress me out. Your road trip should be fun; don’t put yourself in a position to get upset as soon as you leave your aisle.
Have a destination in mind
Some road tripers like the element of surprise in their adventures by meeting up where they hang out. Not me. I like to have a plan with a destination in mind. Specifically, it is wise to know where you will end up so that you know where you will spend the night. You don’t want to travel all day just to get to a town or city that doesn’t have vacancies in its accommodation options. You will have to get back on the road and drive further, and possibly get out of your way in the dark, to find a safe place to sleep. It’s not ideal for just any trip, and certainly not queer and solo travel, whether in a pickup truck or any other RV or vehicle you choose.
Add fun stops along the way
To break away from the monotony of driving (it will become tedious if you take mundane highways with equally mundane landscapes), I choose a few attractions to stop along my route.
I like to take an hour or two to explore the shops and cafes of a small town, browse an antique mall (great for picking up meaningful souvenirs from your travels), or visit historic sites, national monuments, and parks. I have a National Parks Annual Pass, available for $ 80 at USParkPass.com, which provides access to over 2,000 federal recreation sites that fall under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation. Some of these sites charge entrance fees of $ 30 or more, which allows the annual pass to pay for itself in a few visits.
When setting up your GPS, enter national landmarks to see what’s available along the way. I recently traveled to Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama, and discovered the Freedom Riders National Monument, one of the National Park Service’s newer facilities. I would have passed it if I hadn’t done the research beforehand. Plus, I had a little civil rights history lesson during my stop – something we can all use these days.
Be a little cheerful
With the number of gay bars decreasing across the country, it can be difficult to find one in less populated areas, and it’s not the best decision to get drunk in an unfamiliar area when you have to hit the road. the next day. Instead of these options, I look for public baths, optional hot springs for clothes (I like having a good time naked) and LGBTQ + campgrounds to have the opportunity to relax with folx sharing the same. ideas. You’ll be surprised how many of them exist when you start looking for them. I can almost guarantee that you will find at least one of these destinations within four hours of you being home.
These places are often much cheaper than traditional destinations. For example, I stayed in my van at the Oz Campground in Unadilla, GA for three nights this spring for about $ 170 total, and walked into the El Dorado Hot Springs outside of Phoenix, in Arizona, during my travels at the end of last year. for $ 30 a night. Day passes are even more affordable if you don’t plan on staying overnight. Come in for a bit of R&R and be on your merry gay path.
* Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has appeared in over 100 outlets around the world. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyroxtravels