08 Aug Top Resources for Traveling Full-Time in the U.S.
Our digital nomad life usually leads Jedd and I abroad, but there are plenty of people who are traveling long-term or living nomadically in the US, too. Some folks, like our friends Heath and Alyssa (who helped us write this post), live and work from an RV full-time. Others combine camping, couchsurfing, and work exchanges to do long-term domestic travel on a budget.
This post came about because we received an e-mail from one of our readers, looking for tips and resources to help sustain her upcoming six month trip around the States. We figured this would be useful info for other travelers as well, so we’ve compiled the top resources we could find for traveling long-term in the USA. If you have something to add, please let us know in the comments at the end!
Long-Term Budget Travel Resources for the U.S.
From the Blogosphere:
- The Essential Packing List for Your Epic Camping Road Trip
- How Much Does It Cost to Visit All 50 States?
- Why you should use AirBnB rentals when you travel
- Our National Parks Road Trip Itinerary
- One Month on the Road: Our Rockies Road Trip Itinerary
- Our Favorite Video Tours of Awesome RVs for Full-Time Tiny Living
What to do about Health Insurance
Just like non-mobile Americans, one option if your income is not too high, is to use healthcare.gov to qualify for a discount on monthly healthcare premiums. When you select your healthcare plan, though, make sure you’ll be covered on the road and you understand the “out of area” coverage requirements. Not all plans will cover you when you’re out of state.
Telemedecine Savings Plan
A telemedecine savings plan gives you 24/7 access to physician and nurse consultations remotely as well as discounts on medications. Discounts on dental and hearing care can also be included in some plans. While this option does not replace your healthcare, it can be affordable way to get medical attention out of state. Plans start at $10 per month.
One alternative option for healthcare is a sharing ministry. Members of these groups pay in on a monthly basis and agree to assist other members with medical bills that arise. Monthly payments and deductibles are usually significantly lower than traditional healthcare, however, these programs come with other membership requirements. For more details check out Samaritan Ministries or Liberty HealthShare.
What is the best cell phone and data plan?
Even in the U.S., reliable and quick phone and data coverage is not always possible. If you plan to work online while traveling the States, free wifi hotspots may not cut it.
Our friend, Alyssa, says: “The only way to go for Internet on the road is Verizon. They by far have the best coverage and the best plans. Many full-timers use Verizon Unlimited data plans through a third party. The best place to start looking for internet solutions is with Chris & Cherie over at RV Mobile Internet.”
Check the Coverage? app to research whether your cell provider has coverage in your next stop, or to compare coverage areas of the major providers.
To track down free and paid public wifi anywhere in the world, try Wifi Finder app. It can be used online or offline.
How to find free and cheap campsites
In BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and U.S. Forest Service areas, you can camp for free within a certain distance of the roadside for up to 14 days. In RV communities, this practice is called dispersed camping or boondocking. Be prepared to rough it and practice “leave no trace behind.”
You can try the Public Lands app to find potential locations and the corresponding regulations for each area.
While not comprehensive, this site is a crowd-sourced map of free campsites around the nation.
Camp In My Garden
Here’s another option which doesn’t have a huge selection in the States, but can help you find cheap places to stay in peoples’ backyards. Facilities and pricing varies by homeowner.
The Campendium site lets you search for specific campground types and includes free sites, National Parks, National Forests, State Parks, and RV parks.
Another way to camp for (almost) free is with Harvest Hosts. HH partners with farms, distilleries, wineries, and breweries across the country that have extra land or space for campers. Participating places allow you to camp on their property for free–usually for only one night–in exchange for your business. So typically you have a free place to stay for the cost of a bottle or two of wine. This is a great option if you want to get to know the locals in every place you visit. A HH membership costs less than $50 a year.
If you just need a quick, free place in town to sleep overnight in your vehicle, then pull over in a Walmart, Cabela’s, truck stop, or rest stops. Full-timer RVers recommend calling the store manager or local police to check that overnight camping is allowed.
If you’re planning to spend a lot of time at campsites around the country, Passport America offers 50% camping fees at participating campgrounds. The yearly fee for the membership is $44, but if you camp at just two of their locations, you’ll make your money back.
Alyssa says, “Hands down, this has been our best investment for saving money on camping.” (Disclosure: the Passport America link above is an affiliate link.)
How to Make Money on the Road
Heath Padgett’s Resources
Our friend Heath is leading the way when it comes to full-time RVing as a young adult. His Make Money and RV Facebook group and RV Entrepreneur Podcast are excellent resources, even if you aren’t living out of an RV.
Just about anyone who makes their living online in a location independent way can travel the U.S. long-term. Check out this blog post to learn more about Digital Nomad living.
Help Exchange, WWOOF, Work Away
These three network sites hook you up with hosts around the world – and in the States – who will provide you room and board in exchange for various kinds of labor. Organic farming, nannying, hospitality, or web services are just a few of the ways you can get your foot in the door and save a lot of money. Here’s one example where we did Help Exchange at a chateau B&B in France.
Work and Travel Jobs
We wrote a post all about finding jobs in amazing places. Many are international, but plenty of the resources can be used in the U.S. as well!
Other Tools for Travel in the U.S.
The State Lines app will let you know about the variations in state laws and regulations so you’re not surprised every time you cross a state border.
Do you have tools to add? Tell us about it in the comments below!
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