With the 100 year U.S. National Park anniversary behind us, there’s a travel-lust feeling back in the air, and I’m betting many of you are looking to hit up a few national parks in 2017. We’ve talked a bit about New Years Resolutions previously and how to sate your travel lust with local trips, but we’d also like to share a few tools of the trade that can ease the costs and burdens of your 2017 travel plans, especially for those with an adventurous spirit.
America The Beautiful Annual National Park Pass
National park fees can vary from a USD 10-20, and if you’re only planning on visiting a handful next year, then you can easily add the entrance fees to the budget. However, if you’re striving to cross a whole state’s worth of national parks off your list, then you’d be hard-pressed not to purchase an Annual National Park Pass. For only USD 80 you are granted access to all US National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands for 12 months, starting from the first month you use it and ending on the last day of that month 12 months later.
Though you cannot use it on commercial tours, if you’re looking to do some major road trips in 2017, this pass can save you a ton on entrance fees. As a bonus, the pass is valid for two individuals, so couples or friends can share the pass!
And you may be eligable for a pass an not even know it. Current U.S. military members and dependents are eligible for a free annual pass. If you’re a senior or receive disability benefits, you maybe able to purchase a lifetime Senior or Access Pass for only USD 20. Even if you’re not a member of any of those groups, you can get a Volunteer Pass after you’ve logged 250 service hours with federal agencies that are a part of the Interagency Pass Program
AllTrails Travel App
One of my favorite hiking apps, AllTrails offers over 50,000 trail maps, the majority of which were uploaded by local hikers who know the trails best. Whether you’re looking for new trails locally or researching for a big trip, AllTrails can help you sort through a variety of trails based on difficulty, convenience, and traffic while also providing detailed information about the rules and regulations about a route, such as if mountain biking or dogs are allowed. Plus, you can even record you trail, helping you track how fast you can complete a route, and upload it to help others learn about the route.
It does have a subscription option to go Pro for USD 29.99/year, which allows you to download and print your favorite maps, create custom maps, use more map overlays – such as which route is less frequented – and remove all advertisements.
Full Camping Set
Having just finished a camping trip, I feel its really keen to have good camping equipment to make your trip as comfortable as possible. I purchased new gear when the holiday sales were going and made sure everything could easily fit in my car, so when the travel buzz hits me I can easily hit the road without any delay. All my previous trips had been with my family, who brought big tubs of cooking gear, tents, air-mattresses, and food. Most of their gear was from 30 years ago and showed no wear or tear.
That being said, I was super satisfied with my new equipment, and can’t stress the convenient of being able to fit in all in my trunk with room to spare. I encourage all roadtrippers to check in at your local camping or sporting goods store for the latest gear, from solid chairs to sturdy tents, but also not be afraid of shopping at WalMart or Target. While we like to believe a specialty store has the best gear and know-how, I’ve found them to be rather overpriced for sub-par gear. I’ve also found little reason to separate cook wear. My cast iron frying pan and steel pans are just as durable as a camping set and it’s just as easy to pack them all up for a road trip than to have a second set.
Reaction.Gov Camping App
Perfectly paired with AllTrails and your new camping set, Recreation.Gov’s camping app is great for browsing and booking campsites and activities all throughout the U.S. I recently used it to book a site at Limekiln State Park on Big Sur over Christmas and it was perfect for previewing the conditions of the camp before I arrived. Though it is only available on IOS products, it is still an invaluable tool for a roadtripper.
HI USA Hostel Membership
If you’re not much of a camper and want a more affordable accommodation than motels, than you should definitely consider joining HI USA.With annual rates of USD 28 and lifetime rate of USD 250, you can gain access to over 50 hostels around the U.S. and 4,000 across 80 countries. Though their U.S. hostels center largely on the West Coast and Northeast, HI USA is perfect for exploring major cities on a budget. Plus, you’ll receive your 3rd night free for any booking in the U.S., access to the programs and activities at local hostels, discounts on local restaurants and attractions, and discounted car rentals. For international travelers looking to coming to the U.S. – or U.S. travelers heading oversees – getting a hostel membership can be a huge money saver.
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