How A Road Trip Turned into a Lifestyle
(Words and Photos: Frank Colorado)
Hi, my name is Frank and I am a full time road tripper, adventurer, and content creator living out of my Honda Fit. You might wonder: "how did you end up as a full-time road tripper?" Well, this is the story of how my road trip accidentally turned into a lifestyle that I am still living 4 years later.
Their eyes widened- it was clear they disapproved of a road trip and couldn't believe I would come up with such a plan. I had done it to myself. I had watched too many people pursue this dream and I wanted a small piece of it myself. I never thought I would be living out of a hatchback but this initial camping trip kicked off a lifestyle that I haven't left since.
I had been watching videos of people living out of sprinter vans and counting my pennies so I could save up to do the same. That is, until one day I walked into my garage and saw my hatchback in a new light. "Could I live in this?" I thought. That small question started the journey of a lifetime. A journey that would take me on a cross-country road trip at a fraction of the typical price. Once the idea was in my head, it was impossible to ignore. I worked out every detail of the build in my mind before I spent a single penny. All that was left was picking a date to go.
December 2017 was a different year for my family. Every sibling was living in a different state and I was the only one who could come "home for the holidays". I decided this was my chance to take a maiden voyage on my soon to be adventure-wagon. I requested time off work and set some destinations on paper. It would be cold, so I wanted to road trip south. I only had a week so I didn't want to go too far. The Texas coast won out as the destination. Up next: plan out stops and finish the build.
The build was fairly simple. I folded the seats down in my Honda fit and pushed the front seats up. This gave me enough space to lay flat once I put a duffle bag in the gap where a passenger's feet typically go. For a mattress, I wanted something sturdier than an air mattress, although looking back it would have worked perfectly. Instead I purchased a foam sheet on Amazon and cut it to fit into the back perfectly. I utilized a camping stove, a gallon jug of water, a sleeping bag, and of course my coffee cup.
Meals were far from fancy - canned tuna, instant rice with flavorings, peanut butter and jelly, and a selection of protein bars. I had no electricity and no refrigerator so I made due with what I had and I got used to the chemical aftertaste of instant coffee. It wasn't glamorous but it was mine and that made it perfect.
On the day of departure, I had a sense of freedom I hadn't felt since the last day of school or when I first learned how to ride a bike. It was just me, my car and the open road. I made camping reservations at Texas state parks along the way and went on several hikes with my trekking poles. One of the highlights from my trip was when I made a stop for a tour of a natural cave. Walking into the cave tour I was a little nervous as I was alone. What would people think of this solo road trip guy? Would they wonder why someone was on a tour alone? Thankfully no one shared my skepticism. Everyone was so welcoming and brought me into the tour group. And to top it off, the cave itself was awe inspiring.
One issue that I've noticed while road tripping this way is the vehicle itself. Sprinter vans have higher clearance than my Honda Fit and I found out that realization in the most unfortunate way. I made the naive mistake of turning onto a dirt road and quickly saw my speed drop from 60mph to 20 then 10 then crawling at 5. It was apparent that this little compact hatchback wasn't made for the backcountry. Once back on the pavement and at a gas station, I watched my tank fill for a cool $28.00 and smiled. Maybe I can’t go everywhere- but I can go far - and onward I went!
I worked my way South, stopping at a hotel in Austin Texas on Christmas Day as planned and hiked the popular outdoor places in the city. After a well-needed shower and hotel rest, I made a final break for the coast.
The weather was moody with grey clouds, rough seas, and an occasional sprinkle. The smell of salt in the air and a winter warmth that was welcomed. I walked up and down the beach, barefoot and unable to take the smile off my face. I had done it! I made it to the coast. I could go anywhere. And little did I know that over the next several years I would go just about everywhere in my little Honda Fit. After that first road trip, I had done it, I had broken free.
In the years that followed that initial trip, I have driven from coast to coast a handful of times and visited many majestic places around the USA. I still occasionally miss the luxuries of home-life but feel that this adventure has all the right trade offs. Adventure is out there and boy do I keep finding it!
I’ve learned so many great things while on the road. If road tripping for an extended period of time is something you're considering, here are some pointers to keep in mind before you hit the road:
- Have a plan, tell someone it and when they should hear from you again. I always tell someone where I plan to park so if something goes wrong, they know my location. I communicate the same before going on a solo hike.
- Dehydrate veggies. Vegetables can be a challenge if you have no refrigeration. I will dehydrate spinach and peppers and add them to my meals to keep my nutrition at an acceptable level.
- Do not EVER use the milk-jug style water jugs. The tops pop off way too easily. I have had many wet nights from a popped off lid. Instead look for official jerry-cans or anything with a screw cap.
- Power up while driving. There is no need for a solar panel if you have basic electronics. I charge some back up batteries and all my devices while I am driving from place to place. It works great for me.
- If you are looking for a shower, look no further than a truck stop. You can have an unlimited shower in a private room with a locking door. Totally safe and completely refreshing. They even provide towels and soap!
- Most National Parks are in areas with no cell signal, so I make sure to empty my inbox, download podcasts and text friends before I get anywhere close to the front gate of the park. Service isn’t really necessary as there is so much to do in the parks and I have met the most amazing people out there!
What road trips do you have planned in the future? Leave us a comment!
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