Voices from the Road

How a trip to the Texas coast made me a full-time roadtripper

I’m a full-time roadtripper, adventurer, and content creator living out of my Honda Fit. You might wonder how one ends up roadtripping full-time, so this is the story of how my first road trip turned into a lifestyle that I’m still living 4 years—and more than 40,000 miles—later.

Man with a notebook looking up at a view of mountains

I’d been watching videos of people living out of Sprinter vans and saving my money so I could pursue the same lifestyle. That is, until one day I walked into my garage and saw my hatchback in a new light. I thought, “Could I live in this?” That small question started the journey of a lifetime. A journey that would take me on a cross-country road trip at a fraction of the typical price. Once the idea was in my head, it was impossible to ignore. I worked out every detail of the build in my mind. All that was left was picking a date to go.

December 2017 was a different year for my family. Every sibling was living in a different state and I was the only to come home for the holidays. I decided this was my chance to take a maiden voyage in my soon-to-be adventure-wagon. I requested time off work and decided on some destinations. It would be cold, so I wanted to drive south. I only had 1 week, so I didn’t want to go too far, and settled on the Texas coast. 

The setup was fairly simple. I folded the seats down in my Honda Fit and pushed the front seats up. This gave me enough space to lay flat once I put a duffle bag in the gap at the passenger’s seat. For a mattress, I wanted something sturdier than an air mattress—although looking back that would have worked fine—so I purchased a foam sheet online and customized it to fit into the back. I utilized a camping stove, a gallon-sized water jug, a sleeping bag, and of course, a coffee cup.

A Honda Fit car with red rocks in the background

Meals were far from fancy—canned tuna, instant-cook rice with flavorings, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and protein bars. I had no electricity and no refrigerator, so I made do with what I had and got used to the aftertaste of instant coffee. It wasn’t glamorous, but it was mine and that made it perfect.

Freedom at last

On the day of departure, I felt a sense of freedom I hadn’t felt since childhood on the last day of school or when I first learned how to ride a bike. It was just me, my car, and the open road. I made camping reservations at Texas state parks along the way and went on several hikes. One of the highlights from my trip was a tour of a natural cave. Walking into the tour I was a little nervous as I was alone. What would people think of this solo road trip guy? Thankfully no one shared my skepticism. Everyone was welcoming and brought me into the tour group. And to top it off, the cave itself was awe inspiring.

Sometimes my hatchback has its limitations. I made the naive mistake of turning onto a dirt road and quickly saw my speed drop from 60 to 20 mph, then crawling at 5 mph. It was apparent that this little compact hatchback wasn’t made for backcountry roads. Once back on the pavement and at a gas station, I watched my tank fill up for only $28 and smiled. Maybe I can’t go everywhere—but I can go far. And onward I went.

A parked car with open hatchback on a dirt road

I worked my way south, stopping at a hotel in Austin, Texas, on Christmas Day and hiking at the popular outdoor spots in the city. After a well-needed shower and hotel rest, I made a final break for the coast. 

The weather was moody with gray clouds, rough seas, and an occasional sprinkle. I welcomed the smell of salt and the warm air. I walked up and down the beach barefoot, unable to take the smile off my face. I had done it—I made it to the coast. I could go anywhere.

In the years that followed that initial trip, I‘ve driven my Honda Fit from coast to coast a handful of times and visited a lot of locations in the U.S. I still occasionally miss the luxuries of living in a stationary home, but this adventure is worth the trade-offs. 

View from the back of a hatchback overlooking a green, red-rock view

Helpful tips

If roadtripping for an extended period of time is something you’re considering, here are some tips to keep in mind before you hit the road:

  1. Have a plan, share it with someone, and let them know when they should expect to hear from you again. I always tell someone where I plan to park, so if something goes wrong, they know my location. I communicate the same before hiking alone.
  2. Dehydrate veggies. Vegetables can be a challenge if you have no refrigeration, so I dehydrate spinach and peppers and add them to my meals to keep my nutrition at an acceptable level.
  3. Don’t use gallon-sized milk jugs for water—the tops pop off easily. Instead use jerrycans or anything with a screw cap.
  4. Power up while driving. There’s no need for a solar panel if you’re traveling with basic electronics. I charge my batteries and all my devices while I’m driving. 
  5. If you’re looking for a shower, look no further than a truck stop. You can shower in a private room with a locking door. Totally safe and completely refreshing. They even provide towels and soap.
  6. Most national parks are located in areas with no cell signal, so I make sure to empty my email inbox, download podcasts, and text friends before I arrive. 

Meet the Roadtripper

Frank Colarado