Friday, September 16, 2011

College road trip -- East Coast or Appalachian Trail?

Hi Jamie!

Me and 3 friends will be gradating college in June, and wanted to go on a
road trip together. We really liked the Appalachian Trail idea, or the
Atlantic Coast. We are graduating college so don't have a lot of
money, nor do we know what the cheapest options would be (i.e. RV,
camping, motels, etc.). Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much,



Hi Allie --

Thanks for writing into Road Trip USA, and congrats on finishing college!

About your celebratory trip, if you don't mind dealing with the vagaries of the weather, camping out is the best way to see some of the country without mortgaging your future wealth to some credit card company. Even though it's close to so many big cities, the Appalachian Trail corridor offers some fantastic camping places, and if you had some agreeable friends to run a car-shuttle you could do some longish-distance hiking without having to exile yourself from civilization. When I was 19 I did a lot of hiking through Delaware Water Gap, Shenandoah & Blue Ridge Mountains areas, and the experiences have stayed with me for the past 25 + years. (In a good way!)

Camping, even if you haul tents and stoves in your car, saves money (on hotels and food, because you cook for yourselves), and I think it helps you appreciate places more, too.

Walking around lets you absorb a lot more than you can at 75mph, behind a windshield, for sure.

The Atlantic coast areas have some great camping spots, too -- the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Mary;land, which I cover in my US50 "Loneliest Road" chapter as well as in the Atlantic Coast book -- is gorgeous and very historic. As are the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and the Sea Islands of Georgia.

(Just make sure you bring copious amounts of insect repellent, because the bugs can get intense!)

Even when camping, you may want to splurge every now and then on a nice motel, for a shower etc, but if you are prepared to camp out even occasionally you'll save money and get to see (and hear and smell..) a lot more than you do if you stay indoors.

Sorry this took me a while to write -- hope you have a great trip!

Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA


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