how to plan a road trip // southwest USA.

So here we go. Next travels coming soon. My boyfriend and I are going to the south west of the US.

This is how we are planning our trip. First we searched for a destination. I found California, Arizona, Utah and Nevada attractive since a long time. And so does my boyfriend. When we found a few weeks of time to go on the road trip we started talking and dreaming about this one big travel. Our real first holiday together (when we not count the weekend trip to Rome). I can’t wait to go.

VLUU L110, M110  / Samsung L110, M110

on my New Zealand road trip in 2011

So first of all I searched for flights (and had a little help – thanks Phili). I checked different online pages and changed the day a little. Testing to find the cheapest option. Since we don’t live in a big city we have to travel to an airport near of us, but there are a few ones. Normaly the next airport is in Bremen, but I found a flight to L. A. from Amsterdam in the Netherlands which was almost 250 euros cheaper. So check a few different options before you book anything. Also the best is to search with google chrome in the incognito modus. Amsterdam isn’t in Germany but not that far away from where I live. The next step before we booked was to find a way to get to that airport when we need to. That’s why I ask some friends and family if someone could bring us.

Found a flight, but what else do you need when you want to travel into the United States of America? First of all a passport! My one is expired now – too bad – so I have to get a new one (takes up to three weeks in Germany). Also has my boyfriend. Have done that? Check if you need a visa. Since we live in Germany we just need the ESTA. You can only get it if you are arriving by air or the maritime route. And you are allowed to stay 90 days in the US with the ESTA. ESTA is the Electronic System for Travel Authorization of the States. Make sure you register youself. Print your ESTA, your flight bookings and put it to your passport.


back home from Costa Rica

Make also sure that you have a place to stay for the first days/nights. Searching for hostels is easy and you will find a cheap and good one. Because we want to go on a road trip we need a car. But not just a car, a campervan with a bed inside. When I traveled in New Zealand we had a Spaceship, for the US we booked a Lost Campers Campervan. Both car rental pages are for younger folks, kind of for the backpacker generation and quiet inexpensive (aswell as JUCY). When you book a car, check first how your flight dates are. If you want to rent it from the first day, make sure on which day your flight lands and not starts. Maybe it’s a two day flight because of the time zones. If You rent one of these, you don’t need an accommodation. Also you can maybe share with other people a car to beat down the price per person. Check that your car or whatever you book got miles in the price included so you don’t have to pay them extra. Also you need an international driver’s license. When you got all that plan your route. Know some spots where you want to go. You can still change it. But a holiday is always limited on time so plan your road trip and stops crefully. Maybe you have not enough time to visit everything. I used google maps to check out some places.

VLUU L110, M110  / Samsung L110, M110

New Zealand Spaceship on the road

One thing you need which is very important is a credit card!!! Also go to your bank before you start your travels and get a little amound of money changed. Meaning, get some $US before arriving there. You just need a little bit of cash.

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Processed with VSCO with t1 preset

What else? Maybe get a travel guide. My personal favorit is the lonely planet. It’s a perfect guide for backpackers who search for cheap places to stay and the best and untouched journeys. In Australia my lonely planet was my bible, my travel bible. In my opinion, just the best. But I recommend to get always the english version. Also you should get a map.

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Also since we have a cat we need to ask our neighbours, friends and family to care for our pet in the time we are gone. The same for all my plants.

Next point is to make sure that you have an insurance for your travels and abroad.

Maybe the best way is to make a list what to pack, bring and organize. That is how I do it every single trip. Now I’m kind of using my central america pack list. But making one now:

  • flights/boarding passes
  • passport
  • ESTA
  • accommodation
  • car/campervan
  • international driver’s license
  • credit card
  • cash
  • travel guide/travel maps (lonely planet)
  • GPS
  • pet care
  • insurance

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Processed with VSCO

Also there are a few things to organize just a few days before you leave. Like packing your backpack, suitcase and handluggage. I’m always traveling with my backpack but my boyfriend has a suitcase. Check the weather forecast to know what to pack. You don’t need shorts if it’s to cold. And think about all the air condition in the plane, busses or the car when you travel. Even if you travel to a hot country it can be cold sometimes so maybe bring a little blanket or a bigger scarf to use as a blanket. Also make sure to get some tramping or runnings shoes or just both. Maybe we just go on with another pack list:

  • towels
  • sleeping bag
  • flashlights
  • camera/smartphone
  • charger also for the car
  • adapter
  • travel journal + pens
  • tramping/running shoes
  • tramping/running leggings or shorts
  • shorts, jeans
  • flip flops
  • (sun)glasses
  • sunscreen
  • hat
  • rain jacket
  • bathing duds
  • clothing of your choice
  • washing powder ‘to go’
  • camping cutlery and dishes
  • camping cooker
  • water can
  • garbage bags
  • first aid kit
  • shampoo, brush, tooth brush, elastics, whatever you need…

Make sure to pack all expensice and important stuff like a camera, your travel guide, cash, printed bookings, notebook, etc in your handluggage. Also if you pack liquid stuff into your handluggage remember to just have 100 ml bottles and everything into a plastic bag.

Another thing are great apps to have for your phone like a converter, google maps, a world time clock and a phonetracker if it gets stolen. Also you can copy all important stuff like bookings and your passport and put it on google drive, dropbox or something similar to save it. Nobody hopes for that but everything can get lost or stolen. So never leave important things behinde or in your car.

Hope all this stuff will help you to get off your couch and on the road. We don’t need to travel far for a road trip. Another road trip my boyfriend and I are planning is to spain. Just by car, without a plane. It’s the journey not the destination. We’ll see where our heart full of wanderlust brings us.

And if you are interrested into pics from our trip right away than check out my Instagram because we are going the day after tomorrow. Aaaaah excited! Also I don’t know if I will able to upload blog posts when we are on the road.

Sending some love,


Pia, x


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