This week, I am embarking on my dream Road Trip – spending ten days going to 30 different Goodwills! After much deliberation, I FINALLY finalized my path – I’m driving through Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama to get to New Orleans, Louisiana! I have only been thrifting in Virginia and am excited to explore and thrift in states I’ve never had the courage to visit.

I’m usually not a planner at all. I enjoy being spontaneous and letting the wind guide my path. But for this once-in-a-lifetime trip, I knew that I had to buckle down and get some things in order. Finalizing the route is a safety measure (I gave my map to my family so they’d know where I will be) and an action this will minimize travel costs. 

So how did I get started? I instantly pulled up a Google Map. From there, I experimented with routes and platform features…and voila! It somehow all came together. Although my final map and schedule are by no means perfect, here are quick tips, organized by category, that helped me get to where I am today – a still-spontaneous but guided road tripper. 

Mapping it Out: Map out your journey! It will relieve stress while you travel, allowing you to focus on having fun. 

  1. Love for Google Maps: I used Google Maps to build a map, look up Goodwill locations near each place you want to go, and create a route that works for me. On Google Maps, you can color-code your stops and draw lines between them to provide clarity. 
  2. Places to Stay on Your Route: If you want to experience the outdoors and save some money, go camping! Hipcamp and Dyrt are great websites to use to find farms and outdoor locations where you can stay. Many listings have reviews that can help you decide on the best and safest places for you. Airbnb and Vrbo (cabin-focused) are handy platforms to explore for cheap and funky places to stay that offer options for all budgets. 
  3. Canva: If you’re a visual planner like me, Canva is a user-friendly platform that is excellent for creating graphics. I built out a colorful calendar that notes how many hours I will drive each day of my trip, the towns I’m visiting, and my sleeping accommodations. 

Safety First: I am solo traveling for my trip. As a petite woman, I’m a bit scared to journey alone. To ensure my health and well-being, I’m taking careful precautions.

  1. Obtain legal self-defense items to ensure protection. These can be knives, pepper spray, and other tools. Please review state guidelines regarding what you can and cannot carry. 
  2. Watch self-defense videos on YouTube like the ones by HowCast. 
  3. Make a plan to contact loved ones daily or multiple times a day to tell them your location. 
  4. If nervous about camping (although Hipcamp is great), sleep in towns and cities in positively-reviewed stays. 
  5. Research every place where you’ll be going. 
  6. Bring cash and coins with you.
  7. Wear a fanny pack or secure bag that holds your personal belongings and valued treasures. 

Budget Management: Road tripping can be expensive! Here are ways to manage your budget: 

  1. Bring lots of food and snacks with you! Don’t eat out every night. Purchase items that can be prepared with hot water or in the microwave. Handheld treats like apples are cheap too! 
  2. Planning in and of itself can minimize costs. Book stays ahead of time to get the best deals. 
  3. Determine a budget figure and don’t go over it! I’m thrifting for my trip and it will be easy to spend, spend, spend since items are so inexpensive at Goodwill. To help with that, I am carefully taking note of my daily purchases. The lack of space in my car will be an unintended budget manager too, haha!

This list of tips is my no means exhaustive. As the days lead up to my departure, I will update this piece with additional learnings. This is my first time adventuring in this capacity.

Happy Goodwill Road Tripping!