What you’ll need to live life on the road

So-called ‘drip pricing’ can make it difficult to determine the total cost of airline tickets and vacation rentals.
Fair warning: Local wildlife can bring traffic to a standstill on Parks Highway 3 while you're driving through Denali National Park. Then again, that is part of this road's allure.
Slide 1 of 14: Need a break? A really long break from reality? An epic road trip might be in order. If you want to pack up and live the RV or van life, here are several tips, websites, gadgets and more that will help you get away for a few months or more — whether you're young, old, able to splurge or need to be frugal.
Slide 2 of 14: Your space is limited in a van or VW bus, so invest in just a few well-made pots and pans, have fold-out beds or ones that you can roll up and load up your Kindle with books. Buy stackable plastic food containers and use hooks in your van to hang up tools, kitchen utensils and flashlights. Take one pair of sturdy hiking boots, one pair of durable shoes for driving and walking around the campsite and a pair of flip-flops for hot weather and shower runs. Keep your clean clothes organized in waterproof plastic tubs and have a giant laundry bag for your dirty clothes. Plan to wash everything once or twice a month at a laundromat or take enough detergent with you to hand-wash everything. Don’t forget the clothesline.
Slide 3 of 14: If you haven’t saved up enough money to live comfortably for a few months, you should line up freelance jobs before you leave or plan to work odd jobs when you run out of cash on the road. Get an unlimited cellular data plan so you can hunt for jobs whenever you need them. Have your updated resume ready to go on your laptop and look into seasonal work in places you enjoy. You might consider house-sitting occasionally to earn some money and be able take a shower and do laundry.
Slide 4 of 14: You can handle almost everything via the internet, but some snail mail still will make its way to your home. You can have the postal service hold your mail up to 30 days. If that’s not long enough, you can have your mail sent to a P.O. box that a friend can empty for you now and then, use an online mail service that scans your mail and then shreds it after you review it, or have your mail forwarded to a relative’s house.
Slide 5 of 14: You don’t have to be a mechanic or Mr. or Ms. Fix-it, but you should learn some basic skills, such as how to change a flat tire or spark plugs and how to replace the water filters in your RV. You won’t always be near a town or city where you can get someone to fix things for you. Unsure how to fix something? Google it. There are many how-to videos out there.
Slide 6 of 14: Whether you are going with an RV, van or SUV, ensure your vehicle is reliable and be sure to maintain it. Have the vehicle serviced regularly, or learn to change the oil and do other tasks yourself, if you are on a budget. Keep the tire pressure at an optimal level and check the tread.
Slide 7 of 14: Gassing up an RV or van can be expensive, of course, so find a gas card that works well for you. If you shop at Costco on the road, you can get the Costco Anywhere Visa, for instance, which earns money back on gas, travel, dining and Costco purchases. With a Chevron and Texaco Techron Advantage Visa, you earn fuel credits every time you fill up at a Chevron or Texaco station.
Slide 8 of 14: Many of those living the RV life know they can stay for free in many Walmart parking lots. It’s always a good idea to ask, however, and pay attention to the rules everywhere you go or you might get a ticket for camping in an unauthorized area in a national park. Check Freshoffthegrid.com, Freecampsites.net and Boondocking.org for tips on where to stay for free, including some casino parking lots and dispersed camping in national forests.
Slide 9 of 14: You won’t have to worry about a portable heater or air conditioning if you plan your route carefully. Head south as autumn turns to winter. This also makes sense if you are looking for seasonal work. You will find it easier to get a job at a hotel during peak tourist season, for instance.
Slide 10 of 14: Rugged clothes that can be washed and hung to dry many times are ideal. You also should invest in a waterproof jacket and hiking pants. Waiting for clothes to dry in humid climates or when it’s rainy is no fun. If you are going to cold climates, think layering and look for flannel, wool and Gore-Tex items.
Slide 11 of 14: This is important for everyone, but especially women traveling alone and seniors. Lock your van or RV doors when you’re sleeping and look for campsites that are near light sources and other people. Get pepper spray and keep it on you at all times, especially while hiking in remote areas. Keep valuables out of sight and don’t offer too much information about yourself or your route to strangers. Ensure a few family members and close friends know where you plan to be and check in with them regularly so they can alert the authorities if you don’t contact them for a few days.
Slide 12 of 14: Will you be tapping into electricity at campgrounds all the time? Will you be in remote areas where you will need to use battery power? Either way, having a few battery- and solar-powered devices, such as a headlamp, radio, car battery charger, GPS unit and cooler, is a good idea. You also should invest in a solar-powered charger and portable solar panels to juice up your gadgets if there will be long stretches when you won’t be near electricity.
Slide 13 of 14: Water is life, so ensure you have plenty of places to store clean drinking water. Fill up your water tanks whenever you have the option to do so at parks, campgrounds and other places. If you are relying on rivers or streams for water, a filtration system is a smart idea. Take reusable water bottles into gas station and restaurant washrooms and fill them up.
Slide 14 of 14: If you are frustrated by things breaking down in your RV or want tips on cooking while living out of your van, find blogs that offer help. Sites such as Loveyourrv.com, Agirlandhervan.com and Gnomadhome.com offer practical advice for electrical issues, building shelves, fixing air conditioners, using solar panels, camping for free, setting up awnings and just about any other issue you can think of while living on the road. These sites also can give you a mental boost when you start to feel you are all alone. There's a wonderfully supportive community out there, both online and among the people you meet on the road.

What you’ll need to live life on the road

Use space wisely

Have a source of income

Deal with your mail

Learn how to change a flat tire

Have a reliable vehicle

Get a gas card

Find cheap or free places to stay

Follow the seasons

Pack the right clothes

Consider your safety

Work out your power source

Think about water

Look for help

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