Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Working Road Trip --- summer vacation opportunities?

Hey Jamie,

you have some great advice on your website regarding road trip routes and information, and I was wondering if you would be able to assist me with the trip I am planning to take. My name is Sarah, I just finished my freshman year at college, and am dying to go on a road trip across the country by myself. I will be starting in Chicago, with the intentions of heading south and west to California, then north and east to get back home. I'm not exactly where to stop along the way, but I would rather not spend a large amount of time at tourist attractions. I definitely want to reach the redwood forests in California, and would like to stop at national parks and areas rich in culture on the way.

I am planning for this trip to take about three weeks (restricted by a previous engagement) from mid May (like, now) to very early June. I would love to engage myself in community service wherever I am - whether it be helping out in soup kitchens, painting a school, disaster relief, etc. Any advice as to how to go about this? I applied to help out with the tornado relief and gulf coast oil spill clean up, but its kinda complicated without being there in person. It would also be helpful if anywhere would be willing to accommodate me for my service/work.

I have also looked into the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms WWOOF, which looks promising, but again safety is a concern considering I will be alone.

Also, if my parents do not approve of this endeavor, I will be car-less, which makes a road trip quite difficult. Is there any type of service in which I can rent a private car or a rental service that is really cheap (college student - I don't have very much money). Anyway, this is my great plan. It probably sounds crazy, but I would really love to do it. Let me know what you think and if you can offer me any advice!




Hi Sarah --

Thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA, and for sharing your summer road trip plans. All very exciting, and admirable, even. Hope it all works out for you.

I don't know of any specific organization that can help you find volunteer opportunities as you travel, but as you pass thru places in person, I'm sure you will find organizations eager to take you up on your offer. I wish there were some way to get energetic young people to work on rebuilding parks and trails -- but this gets into gov't bureaucracies, which in my experience are never good at spontaneity. (Hope that doesn't sound too Rush Limbaugh-like...)

About inexpensive transportation, being in Chicago you have a big advantage -- there is a company there that arranges for drivers to take clients cars and deliver them all over the USA, sometimes even paying for some gas. I've done a few of these over the years, and though you have to be flexible the price is certainly right. Check out them out at

I know you're setting off soon, so I'll zap this back to you and wish you "Happy Trails".

Please let me know what you get up to on your big adventure.

With best wishes,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA

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