Quit Your Job and Go on a Road Trip

-Quitting your job to take a road trip can be a big leap of faith but it's one that will bring rewards of self-discovery and discovery of others. Travelling on a long road trip can change your life for the better, you may forge new friendships, and gain understandings that propel you in new directions in life. Don't wait until you retire to get out and see the country; it's easier than you might think but it does require some preparation. This article will help guide you through the process of planning a long road trip.

Mark Twain once said: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

Note: While this article is written mainly for a road trip in the United States, some of the elements are equally applicable to road trips in countries like Canada, South Africa, and Australia.


  1. Prepare yourself for the experience. If you've been longing to get away and discover the beauty and wonder of both nature and people that are located right off your doorstep, stop waiting and start considering the possibility as a reality. Depending on your employer and the type of job you have, it might be possible to take extended leave instead of simply quitting your job. Alternatively, it really might be the right time to quit your job and to seek other opportunities as part of the road trip experience; after all, you never know who or what you're going to meet as part of your experience and new doors will definitely open for those who look
    • Consider asking for an extended leave of absence or perhaps arrange a sabbatical. While this can limit the length of your trip, it will also have the added benefit of potentially allowing you to carry health coverage through your employer, and having a job to return to when you get home. At least ask, all they can do is say no!
  2. Plan thoroughly. Doing much of your planning on the front end will allow your adventure to be much more Lead a Stress Free Life and enjoyable. Allow at least a half year to a year to plan and save those dollars.
    • Set your budget and plan the length of your trip: These two go hand it hand. The longer you are gone, the more money you'll need. If you are planning to quit your job, you'll probably want to travel for at least 4 to 6 months to make it worthwhile.
    • Realistically, try to determine how much money you'll need each month while traveling. You need to include basic expenses such as food, gas, and nightly expenses, but also other expenses such as health care, auto/RV insurance, storage of personal items back home, credit card payments, an emergency fix-it fund for the rig, maybe even plane fare so you can travel home to see loved ones once or twice, especially in the event of an emergency, a new arrival, or a special anniversary or birthday.
    • If children are coming with you, you will need to consider their age needs and their educational needs (if relevant). You might need to homeschool as you travel – be sure to clear the requirements with your home state before leaving, as well as checking with your kids that this is going to work for them too.
    • Have health check-ups before setting off. If you need medications or ongoing check-ups, be sure to ask your doctor how this might be possible as you travel.
    • Decide whether your pets are going to be a part of your experience. This is much easier for dogs than cats; you may need to consider boarding or paid feeding options for pets unable to come with you. Sometimes family members can be a good option for caring for pets temporarily at their own homes. If you do take pets, ensure that they are properly registered and that their vaccinations are completely up-to-date.
      • Be sure that they can travel in safety with you; you may need to invest in special harnesses or crates.Bear in mind that having a pet can limit the places you stay, and the places you visit. RV parks and campgrounds may allow pets, but will not allow pets to be left unattended while you run errands or go on a day trip.Many national and state parks do not allow dogs, even on a leash. Also consider that your vehicle is now your home, and vehicle safety concerns now apply when your leave your pet 'home'. Remember never to leave your pet unattended in your vehicle in warm weather for any length of time.
  3. Plan your route. This is really a matter of personal preference. You can plan very specifically where you will go and when, or you can just generally plan the direction you would like to go and play it by ear. The latter approach allows you the advantage of discovering unexpected destinations and staying to explore, and that's what the Prepare for a Photographic Trip is all about, right? Not being obliged to be at one destination by a certain time also allows you to relax a lot more.
    • If planning to cross over to Canada or Mexico, be sure to have your passport and all vehicle registration papers with you. Know what you can take across the border both ways – ask customs officials if you're not sure.
    • Ideas for places to visit along the way:
  4. Choose your vehicle. Car travel is an option, using camping equipment or motels at night. While this option will likely save you a significant amount of money on gas, other daily tasks can prove to be much more difficult. Storage, organization, cooking, keeping food cold, exposure to the elements, general comfort level, etc., may prove to be a hindrance. For the purposes of this article, we will assume you will be choosing a recreational vehicle (RV). There are several types of RV's to choose from, and your choice depends on your budget, comfort level requirements, and personal interests. Some of the options include: a van, a motor home, a trailer, or a 5th-Wheel. Choosing or buying an RV can be a guide all by itself, but some main things to consider when selecting an RV include:
    • Resale value: If you'll be buying a rig just for the trip, consider the resale value as a topmost concern. Some RV makes tend to hold their values well, others not so much. Do your research with care and ask other RV owners what their preferred choices are.
    • Weight: Take time to learn about weight ratings such as GVWR or CCC. Slides are nice, but can add unsafe weight.
    • Storage: Consider the available space for both personal items, fresh water, waste tanks, propane, food, etc. Typically, motor homes and 5th wheels have more storage capacity than travel trailers or vans. If you're taking along a lot of sporting, expedition, hobby, or camping equipment, bear this in mind.
    • Size: Bigger is not always better. Get something practical and comfortable, but avoid bigger unless it's absolutely essential. Bigger can be more expensive to move around and you may be limited to only certain Follow Campground Etiquette by having too large an RV. When traveling a long time, it can be helpful to err on the side of being able to get around more easily and squeeze into smaller spaces; it'll take you a lot farther.
    • Power: Will you need a generator, solar, or will you be plugging in every night?
    • Towing: If you go with a motor home, you may want to consider towing another vehicle behind you (toad). Having an everyday driver can be great, because you won't have to pack up the entire RV just to run to the grocery store or maneuver up those windy roads for a day hike. But there are special considerations, and some states require auxiliary braking in the "toad", so be sure to research the regulations before contemplating this add-on.
  5. Allow yourself plenty of time to find the right RV. Start looking now so that you can familiarize yourself with market trends and relative prices and conditions of RVs.
  6. Put your plan into action. Once you've determined how much you'll need to save, you can start concurrently putting money away into a savings account and reducing your spending at home. Living on the road is a Be Frugal experience, and you'll likely need to change your spending habits. Starting now allows you to save more, and gets you used to spending less. If you're able, try to pay down any outstanding debt, especially credit cards, car payments, hire purchase, etc.
  7. Pack up! Take only what you need or love. Once you've packed up the RV - take at least a quarter of it out of the RV and leave it at home. This trip isn't about the stuff you have; it's about the stuff you haven't seen. So pack light - all your goodies will be waiting for you when you get home. If you need something later on that you've left behind, you can either buy it new, or ask someone from home to ship it to you.
    • What to do with your home while you are away? For some, it may be as easy as ending the lease on an apartment, or bravely selling your home prior to the trip. However, if you own a home and plan on keeping it, planning how to care for it in your absence may become more complex. It's important to have your home cared for while you are gone. Some options include having family members or trusted people house sit for you while you're away; rent out the property through an agency; have the neighbors check in regularly and perhaps pay a gardener to tend to the garden; shut the house up (similar to winterizing) but only if you can be sure that leaving your house unattended is a safe and secure thing to do.
  8. Create a Successful Budget! Nothing will shorten your trip faster than spending more than you saved. So long as you stick your budget and have some money set aside for emergency repairs, your travels should be pretty worry free.
    • Have a splurge night now and then so that you don't feel deprived. Build the occasional restaurant meal or cinema visit into the budget.
  9. Enjoy the journey. Keep a record of where you have been in a journal, scrapbook, online blog, etc. – whatever works best for you. You're likely to visit a lot of places and it's easy to forget some of the experiences without memory prompts. Take lots of photos and store them carefully on your computer or online and share them with family and friends too. And make the most of your contacts; you never know what might be about to turn up next in your life!



  • If you plan to visit National Parks, get a parks pass at the first National Park you visit. For the rest of your trip, you'll get free entry to all National Parks and Monuments.
  • Visit Farmers Markets for the best of fresh seasonal food in the area your visiting. Doing this can be a real treat – fresh cheeses, freshly baked pies, or local honey are just a few of the foods you might encounter!
  • Open a Credit Union account that has online access and a network of ATMs around the country. To get cash easily without locating an ATM, just get cash back when you purchase groceries.
  • There are also thousands of other places where you can park overnight for free.
  • Many RV parks have a book exchange room, take a book - leave a book. Keeps costs down and allows new reading material! Also check libraries along the way; many have sell-outs of old magazines and books for next-to-nothing. Stopping at the local library can often be an excellent way of finding out local information on events and places to visit too.
  • Wash dishes in a dishpan, and dump the used dishwater in the toilet (black tank); the gray tank has a tendency to fill rather quickly.
  • "RV Consumer Group" is a non-profit organization that rates the safety characteristics of many makes and models of RVs. Use it to check the models you are considering.
  • There are tons of websites catering to RV folk. Start exploring.
  • Bring clothing you can layer, and mix-and-match. Keep it simple.
  • Campgrounds at parks can fill up quickly during the summer months, especially on weekends. If you'd like to stay the weekend at a certain park without a reservation, its best to arrive Sunday to Wednesday to secure a spot.
  • BLM land usually has free or inexpensive camping. Look up a local BLM office in the town you are visiting for more information.
  • Get used to taking navy showers. They still do the job, you save time looking for showers, and you save water.
  • Some resort RV park chains will offer a free stay if you agree to sit through a sales presentation. At presentation time, nicely tell the sales person that you are only interested in the free stay, and they will be glad you saved them the time and breath.
  • RV parks provide many amenities you are used to at home - cable, WiFi internet, running water, hookup to sewer, and even hot, long showers in bathroom facilities. You'll come to savor a 'regular' shower!
  • An interesting way to find destinations in an unfamiliar area is to go to Google Images or to Flickr and type in the name of the town, or park. Choose images that you like, there will usually be information attached to the picture to point you in the right direction.
  • Walmart allows free overnight parking (but not camping) in most of their parking lots. Clean up your mess, and be respectful. Remember that that there are also several hundred Walmarts that don't allow overnight RV parking.
  • RV specific toilet paper is expensive and not needed, but do be careful what kind you use. Many kinds can clog your system. Scott 1-ply seems to work well. If in doubt, do a test: Fill an empty jar half full with water, put in a sheet or two of toilet paper, and shake the jar rapidly for a few seconds. If the toilet paper falls apart it's RV holding tank friendly.[1]


  • Once you've traveled on the road, going back to work and staying put can be difficult. Be forewarned, a couple months after returning home, you'll be planning your next trip.
  • Be safe driving your new RV. Learn safety practices, keep your tires properly inflated and in good condition, and distribute weight evenly in the RV. And remember - you're not in a hurry, so slow down!

Things You'll Need

  • GPS Unit - This is very handy for navigating new towns; it can help you to easily find banks, grocery stores, campgrounds, even dump stations along the way
  • Gas credit card - gives you cash back with every gas purchase; try the Discover Open Road Card
  • Join a Camping Club such as "Happy Campers". Pay a small membership fee and you have access to nightly discounts at select RV parks throughout North America
  • Camera to document your explorations
  • A laptop, iPad, and iPod/MP3 player will keep you connected, and allows you to transport your music library and electronic books to read
  • DVDs of favorite movies for rainy nights in. Redbox also works well because the movie doesn't need to be returned to the same location is was picked up at. Just plan ahead!
  • First aid equipment
  • Satellite dish for TV reception if you wish. Cable TV hookups are usually provided at RV parks for no charge.
  • Passport if crossing borders

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Sources and Citations

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