Category Archives: Organization

10 Safety Tips For Camping Alone

Camping alone can be a time of discovery. Discovery that you are adept at making a fire on your own and discovery that the crinkling sound of a new rain jacket can convincingly mimic a stealthy animal creeping up behind you. For the record, I only swung around in terror three times.

To keep terror at bay and peace and Zen flowing, we’ve compiled a little checklist that seems to aid in times of sneaky rain jackets. This list is also designed for the purpose of being prepared and putting your loved ones at ease as you strike out to explore some righteous beauty.

1) Leave an itinerary with a point person and check in daily to let them know your whereabouts. *Obviously this is subjective and if your aim is to spend some solo time off the grid, adjust your plan accordingly but do make a plan and leave it with someone responsible. If you still doubt this wisdom, watch the movie 127 Hours.

2) Photograph your car tag and message it to your point person.

3) Take plenty of water. On my recent road trip, which included a piece with my 15 year old son, a piece with my guy, and then the final leg – just wrapping now – solo, I carried no fewer than 3 gallons of water and depending on dispersed camping plans, up to 6 gallons as well as my purifier. I also had a large ice chest filled with ice and assorted drinks.

4) Pack plenty of food. It’s unlikely you’d get into trouble with hunger on road trips or car camping but having plenty of snacks is a boon on long drives.

5) Look around your camp-spot and note other campers as it can give piece of mind to connect with neighbors. I connected with a variety of individuals that included a young fly fisherman, a group of college kids, a retired couple, and several other solo female campers. The point is, reach out and connect with others unless – once again – you are really craving 100% solitude. I had hours and hours of solitude but still felt a sense of connectedness that was reassuring.

6) Touch base with rangers and get the lay of the land. They are your greatest allies in any time of trouble.

7) Bring extra warm clothing. I encountered temps in the 30s in CO in Aug.

8) Check weather. I chose a campsite under trees and off the lake in one area due to storm forecast and sure enough, pea sized hail appeared and had me hoping for no overachieving golfball hail to follow. If lightning joins your campout like it did mine on the north rim in the Grand Canyon, get in your car, turn off all electronics and make certain all windows are rolled entirely up.

9) Be conservative with alcohol. This was not really a consideration for me as I found I had absolutely no desire for spirits while alone. A few times I considered a beer or hot toddy but felt chamomile tea was more in keeping with my solo mood and spirits fit better when I was with loved ones. Dulled senses are not the best scenario when a middle of the night scuffling calls for a loud “go away, bear!” tone in order to scare off chipmunks. Hey, I figured if they heard “bear”, they’d also wonder if there was one around and scoot.

10) Be discreet. By this, I mean fly under the radar and no need to tell anyone along the road that you are camping alone and where you will be. Despite the fact that my latest road trip was designed to share with On A Dime, I waited to list places I’d camped until after I’d gone. The excitement of passing along amazing sites and great finds was very doable after the fact. No need for paranoia, just pragmatism.

A solo trip can be a learning experience on many levels. There will most likely be moments of frustration, nervousness, joy, peace, introspection, awareness, humor and a myriad of other emotions. And any time fear has wandered into your psyche as in a devious rain jacket, try redirecting thoughts to the coming sunrise and the beautiful sites on your agenda and if that doesn’t work, yell “go away, bear!”

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10 Road Trip Tips

Secrets from the road, that’s what we’re talking about today. We are aware that many choices are subjective so please make your own list and structure it according to your likes and dislikes. For us this is still a work in progress and we welcome new tips and ideas. Feel free to leave your secrets in the comment section below, we are grateful.

Road Trip

Let’s get right to it:

1) DAWN – As in get the heck out of the bed or sleeping bag and hit the road. If you can get started early you avoid hours of traffic as well as heat in the summer.

2) DUSK – As in polar opposite of dawn. If you despise getting up early, consider driving later. In this On A Dimer’s case, the distance glasses are a must at dusk as well as snacks and coffee but late driving definitely worked on an overnight drive from Los Angeles to Zion and passing through the desert areas at 85 degrees rather than 100 degrees was very welcome.

3) BATHROOM – Carry a little kid porta-potty with plastic bags. We are talking brilliant if you are camping and little ones need to go in the middle of the night. This also is wonderful when you want to avoid less than stellar truck-stop bathrooms. Finally, not denying that more than one adult in the On A Dime crew has used the kiddie potty and been joyful about it.

4) FOOD – This is subjective and only you know what works for you but here’s what we’ve settled into. We do partake in fast food but limit it to once a day max and generally it’s breakfast on the road. We have noted that even heating water w/ either our Coleman or single burner stove saves money on coffee to the tune of $10-$20 over the course of a trip. A crate that is stocked with bagels, peanut butter, pretzels, apples, trail mix etc. will save you a great deal of cash in the long run and if you have room in the back seat to have the snacks accessible, that is terrific. On our current road trip, we knocked back an enormous bag of cherries over 4 days and found that to be great in that it was prolonged nibbling.

5) CLOTHING – Fellow travelers, we confess right here that we pack pretty lightly and then make use of a laundry about 1/2 way through a trip. It takes one hour and voila, clean clothes. We keep outfits simple and we do repeat wear when we are not getting filthy. Check the packing video by The Minimalists for an example of packing Zen as well as our former article.

6) DIRECTIONS – Subscribe to what works for you, however, we recommend a paper map for every area you are traversing. Paper maps give perspective as well as an idea of what is nearby as you are racking up the miles and the real boon is that they don’t suddenly cease to function when your cell/WIFI service goes on hiatus. Side note, when your teen is smug about their expertise with SIRI, ask them to fold the map and then when they cannot do it, quickly accordion it shut and then make the parental “hummpf” noise.

7) BATHING – When camping or just on the road, have a kit handy with toiletries in a small bag. We put our shampoo/conditioner/liquid soap in neat (and a bit larger than the norm) plastic travel bottles from Target. It is perfectly reasonable to either make use of camp showers which generally run a couple of dollars for a shower or to simply wash up in sinks where you are gassing the car. Next section brings up another tip.

8) WATER – This cannot be stressed enough, bring plenty of water (extra). On a 3,500 mile road trip, at the outset, we froze 4 gallons of water and had 2 in the cooler and 2 stashed in the trunk. We also had an additional gallon in the back floorboard. 5 gallons total as well as about another 2 collectively in smaller bottles. The ice chest contained ice around the bottles and 6 smaller frozen iced teas. If you are ever caught out with either car trouble or just simply at a campsite in hot weather, water will save your bacon.

9) PLAN – Share your plan even as it morphs and shifts. Text friends and family your route and locations of where you are staying. Remember that highway patrol (despite speeding ticket fear) and rangers are your best friends. Ask them about the area, respect what they tell you, and let them know your plan. If you backpack, leave your plan visible on the dashboard of your car. A good tip is also to photograph your license plate and message it to family for ease in case they need it.

10) CAR – Your car is your home on a road trip so have it checked out before you leave. On A Dime travelers always have the car gone over by their trusted mechanic prior to hitting the road and rotate the tires on schedule. When traveling in hotter climates, watch your temperature gage and make certain your air-conditioning is not stressing the system.

These tips will get you started and we’re hoping, make the experience easy and smooth. Although we did not include this on the list, going with the flow is a strength when you can pull it off. We tested this one when we rode out a lightning storm in the car while perched on the edge of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (more on that in our future article) We also were privy to the most amazing display of calm by expert travelers at Lake Powell when their boat ponied up a small explosion and fire and they never even flinched, just put the fire out and then matter-of-fact spent hours fixing said boat. This stellar couple and their kids should offer seminars on travel challenges and how to navigate them with optimism. Rock on Hibmas and rock on to all you road travelers.

Here’s hoping we connect with some of you out there while exploring the great unknown.

“Like” or Tweet is you wish, we are always thankful.

Leader’s Block

Leader’s block is that moment in time during trip-planning when you sit – eyes glazed over – staring at the counter piled high with camping food and know that everything will not go according to plan. You wonder what will unfold during the trip and hope that it will be managed gracefully (cough, cough).

This adventurer has a crazy lust for seeing everything, however, our latest trip is focusing on free which means “whoa, Nellie” on all of the added fees like park entrance charges. Park fees can put a dent in free so choice, as in being selective, has become the mantra in charting the latest On A Dime adventure. Hiking the Narrows in Zion has seduced us, courtesy of an adventuring family named Hibma. Their experience and photos had us oohing and ahhing and then budgeting the $25 park entrance fee and one night of camping for $16 as the campground is near the entrance. We’re hoping to score a first come/first serve campsite and hike at the crack of dawn. The best laid plans…

Our inspiration, a Hibma in The Narrows

Leader’s block can be brought on by intense best-laid plans followed by a “ruh, roh” regroup as in the case of an updated weather forecast. We discovered we’re up against a 40% chance of rain on the day we scheduled our hike and naturally, 0% the day before. Hiking the Narrows is a fun idea, unexpectedly floating The Narrows, not so much. The threat of drowning is not to be trifled with and the movie 124 Hours had this adventurer figuring she’s only able to survive about 124 seconds of any real danger so… drive all night and hike a day early? Looking like that may be plan B.

The real point in sharing leader’s block is to say, it’s ok. It has taken many trips to be able to realize that plan B often produces a mighty and unexpected magic. The following photos are of some Plan Bs that ponied up beautiful pay-offs and the featured umage above was of hiking in the snow after high winds dramatically shifted our plan A. And please, whether it’s gear and food or lodging or more, use this site for trip-planning as that is exactly what we do, find others who’ve gone before us and follow the places they share.

Leader’s block and the unexpected moments of an adventure are all part of the non-plan and embracing this is the goal. Now if we can just find the maps.

Check our gratitude giveaway article as well as our sister (essay) site at On A Dime Life and please know that our lives are in session and on a dime in large part due to many of you inspiring us constantly. Rock on and keep adventuring!

Feel free to share to Facebook and/or Tweet! We’re always grateful.

DREAMS – 6 Tools For Making A Dreamy Trip

A dreamy get-away, that’s what we all need. Just some moments of adventure, fun, and respite. But going from the daydream to reality requires rolling up the sleeves and making it happen. It also demands that we eschew the naysayer in our brain that starts in with the excuses of, “it’s too much money, too much time away, not enough ideas of where to go, no idea of how to pull it off”.

You deserve to seize moments that belong only to you and your loved ones and friends. In America we generally spend 50 weeks a year and receive roughly 2 weeks to call our own. If you truly sit with that, it’s pretty unbalanced. So what is the answer if that breakdown cannot be changed? Weekends. Days off. They are yours, take them. And this post is designed to get you started turning D.R.E.A.M.S. into reality with these steps.

1) D as in Design. Research has shown that the pre-planning time for vacations is good for the psyche and this is not anything we’d argue after seeing friends glow when talking about an upcoming vacation. So, get busy and DESIGN your trip. Be joyfully honest in assessing how you want to spend your time. Just because your Facebook buddy posted fantastic photos of river rafting class 5 rapids does not mean it’s the perfect fit for you. I personally love hiking – to what many people think are scary places – but I am not an adrenaline junkie. I like the Zen of being in the scary places but things like rock scrambling or jumping off cliffs into water are not my bag of tricks while hiking a solid, wide trail to high altitude and heavenly views, is. Figure out what you like and go from that point on.

2) R as in Reach. Reach for new terrain. In other words, if you are trying to travel within a budget that is more frugal than previous get-aways, reach for accommodations that aren’t as luxurious and then if you can shave money off the total, splurge on your final day. See our Big Sur breakdown for exactly how we did (and often do) this. If you’ve hosteled before, try camping, if you were strictly hotel material previously, try hostels. If you are in need of free lodging, try house swap or couchsurfing.

3) E as in Ease. Ease into a new plan for vacationing. Try couchsurfing for 2 days on a weekend away or house swap for a short period of time. Camp for a weekend and if you are intrigued by backpacking, a single overnight is a good plan and plenty of places are set up for 3 miles or less to hike into the backcountry. Yosemite’s Sunset Trail is 3 miles and it is stunning. It’s also uphill for a good part of it. Ease into new food choices. Eating out can blow out a budget in record time. Cook ahead and save eating out for a treat. Our camp-cooking article will aid in cooking in the wild and see the links at the bottom of that page for two amazing camp cooking websites.

4) A as in Aim. Aim for moments of wonder. Rather than focusing on pricey tourist destinations, shift the goal to one of aiming for wonder. Though the Grand Canyon charges $25 a car to enter the park, the multiple moments of wonder are too numerous to count. And Yosemite sees millions of visitors every year of which only a small percentage spend more than several hours in the park.

I suffer from the more is better affliction and used to be guilty of trying to cram as much as I could into a short amount of time. I still struggle with this but now strive to slow down and absorb moments of awe. Go ahead, hike 1/2-1 mile down into the Grand Canyon on the Kaibab Trail  or Bright Angel and just bask in the magnificence.

5) M as in Meet. Meet challenges with humor as often as you can. There will be unexpected moments, take it from a pro in this domain. From kids (with messy rooms) texting lectures on cleanliness (go figure) on a delayed 50th birthday weekend that had roared to a start with a migraine and high winds, to another kid breaking their 4th bone, ten minutes after arriving at the birthday location, well there will be unanticipated moments. And what was the solution to this upended trip? Not going to lie, tears, a cookout, and some ice cold beer and a giving-in to the chaos. And in the end, a decision to absolutely absorb the most stunning sunset ever, followed the next day by hours of warm sun and kids kayaking which brings us to…

6) S as in Savor. Savor every joyous second you are gifted with. When life gives you lemons, don’t just make lemonade. Make it, sip it slowly, take in the hue of the liquid, inhale the aroma, and all the rest. Wax poetic on that glass of lemonade or as it was in my case, the several hours that the entire motley crew were frolicking in boats and kicking back on the beach.

Too many get-aways are a frenzied, running of place to place when all that was really needed was to be present to a teeny-tiny moment that was unequaled in beauty. Savor the weekend, savor the day off, and savor the hours that you create. You are brilliant, like sun glinting off the early morning lake, when you sit at that lake, sipping an early morning java or tea, and fully own that moment.

It is our hope that you open up a travel book, spread out some maps, and start dreaming. Life Is In Session.

We’re dreamy grateful when you “like” and/or share to Facebook as well as Tweet.

Sunrise 2

Only One More Time

This post is inspired by a beautifully fierce, cancer-warrior by the name of Kevin Cordasco. Kevin passed from this world – to one I now think of as larger than life – at the age of sixteen.


I think of Kevin often as his investment in living was the catalyst for On A Dime Adventure. I came into the awareness that we all are so very finite, that our life expectancy varies from 31.99 in Swaziland to 82 years in Japan, and that we perhaps squander a fair amount of pretty valuable time. Kevin squandered none.

From this point on we’ll strive to shine a light on quality of life and  extinguish any derail energy. So let’s cut to the chase by cutting out repetitive time-drains so that we may redirect our zest towards joyous discovery. Let’s get completely tangible.

1) CLEANING – Some parts of our lives require ongoing clean-up and/or maintenance, however, a time-drain is the unnecessary repeats on the clean-up front. Be merciless, be ruthless. Get rid of the junk that is holding you back. Yes, I know that there have been many articles about this but I am speaking firsthand as someone who is radically upending their life and seismically shifting the lifestyle. DOWNSIZE your stuff. Donate it and throw it out. Live a calmer, simpler life and fill it up with sunrises and sunsets.

2) DO NOT REPEAT CLEAN – Clear out closets, garage, kitchen, etc. and DO NOT fill them back up. You miss stunning moments to connect to life when you are busy repeatedly organizing the unnecessary items you’ve bought lately to replace the unnecessary items you just finished clearing out . If this was not a challenge, why would it be that every single January tons of magazines devote covers to cleaning out the gluttony from the holidays? Do not rinse and repeat!

3) ONLY ONE MORE TIME – We hear about people who find out they have a terminal illness and clean their things out – one last time – and get their affairs in order. What we don’t stay present to is the fact that we all only have a certain amount of time left so why do we want to clean the garage out yearly? Again and again and again… ONLY ONE MORE TIME. Strip away the clutter and stop the consuming. Close up shop one last time. Do not refill the space you worked hard to create. Leave space only for adventure.

Adventure is aways available, it is waiting for anyone who wishes to experience it. Usually the main barriers are the ones we create by continually stocking our lives with things we’ll only be struggling to clear out all too soon.

There are tools to help support and reinforce a way of being that is the antithesis of every ad campaign running. These tools are real people, not corporations. They are former collectors, consumers, purchasers, and chasers of an American dream that they came to feel was a never-ending hamster wheel. They stepped off the wheel, looked around, and knew that Dr. Seuss was on to something…

“Trim up the tree with Christmas stuff

Like bingle balls, and whofoo fluff!

Trim up the town with goohoo gums

And bizilbix and wums!”

 ~Trim Up The Tree (How The Grinch Stole Christmas)

Courtney Carver of Be More With Less and Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist are forces in the movement – to not just clear out the minutiae – but even more importantly, to replace the quest for things with a quest for moments. They both balance their families, travel, work, and life with an ability to remain focused on shopping for opportunities to enrich their souls over any shopping for gee-gaws to fleetingly enrich their egos.  They have empowered many people to seize control of their time and this On A Dimer owes them a huge debt of gratitude as On A Dime Adventure was born out of their mission and their message.

Finally, it is our hope that this article sparks a feeling of possibility. We are aware that lifestyle is subjective and plenty of people are perfectly happy with the path they are on. This is for those, like this on a dimer, who wish to strategize more moments of pure magic and less moments of reorganization (and how is that even an allowable word or concept?). The act of organizing again or differently. Enough!

Kevin Cordasco had a very short time here on this planet and he made amazing use of that time. His refrain that “life is in session” inspired us so powerfully that it is our wish that a life in session prevail over a life taken for granted. Take Kevin’s message and Courtney and Joshua’s tutorials and live a life fully in session.

Below are several articles from Courtney Carver and Joshua Becker that are guaranteed to have you, like the Whos in Whoville, believing that life comes without packages, boxes or bags. Life comes not from a store, life – as we experience it – should be a heck of a lot more.

The 10 Most Important Things To Simplify In Your Life  ~Joshua Becker

* Project 333 Simple Is The New Black ~Courtney Carver  (Love this slogan!)

* 10 Reasons To Escape Excessive Consumerism  ~Joshua Becker

* Travel More With Less  ~Courtney Carver

* 7 Steps To Live Your Ideal Eulogy  ~Joshua Becker

* Minimalism Is For Everyone  ~Courtney Carver

Today, write down one thing you wish to do, that is all about adventure and whether it be rest and relaxation or an adrenal blow-out, make it happen and fully enjoy it.

Suggestions 😉

Grand Canyon we did it for $100.

Half Dome


Hike time
Hike time

Pack Only Your Zen

Dear On A Dime travelers, I am an almost rehabilitated over-packer. Like a celebrity’s “clean and sober” weekend with twins, I tend to teetotal pack only to fall off the wagon by loading twin pieces of souvenir granite into the backseat of my car, of course only where it is permissible. It’s hard to outrun rangers with boulders slowing vehicle movement, not that I would know about that personally.

 And speaking of movement, there is an interesting one sweeping the land and we’re applying it to travel. Minimalism is the new kid in town and it feels in sync with On A Dime Adventure’s mission to travel simply and without breaking the bank although the mantra of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists might – at first glance – seem frivolous to the financially conservative crowd. Their 20/20 rule goes something like this, “Most everything can be replaced for $20 within 20 minutes”. These guys assert that the possible, small amount of money spent in a moment of “oops” outweighs the insanity of an overstuffed suitcase as well as an overstuffed life. They also make the point that, barring the extreme; generally people are within 20 minutes of a business that can replace for $20 or less whatever is needed. Socks, underwear, a pair of sweat pants, a blender…

 …Blender? Guilty. Yes I have been tempted to take along luxury items on camping trips. Fine, I have taken luxury items on camping trips. A cousin once considered poisoning me after I pranced to the top of Clouds Rest in Yosemite and bragged loudly about being first. He quickly busted me down to size with “Hey there Champion, does this ring a bell, ‘first is the worst, second is the best, and third is the one in the polka dot dress’. It’s your favorite chant when you’re in the polka dot dress.” And then to add insult to injury – in front of many other hikers – he tossed a large throw pillow at me that oddly resembled one from my couch back in the city and declared, “you’re first because someone else was carrying what fell out of your pack, Kim Kardashian.” I briefly considered trying to deny it but was afraid he’d demand a thorough inventory of my pack at which point the matching pillow and personal massager would give me away. So sue me, I have an irritable back and I like my pillows in pairs. And if I ever climb Everest, I will educate my pair of Sherpas on the seriousness of neck support. This dream is but one of many.

 In another fantasy, I pack only the exact amount of clothing I will wear on a trip, leave behind my aromatic oils, and return from the outback with slight body odor and a small wallaby. In this dream I am relaxed, joyful, and fully experiencing every second as my many – in the moment –  Facebook selfies with the wallaby attest.

Some fantasies may require an intervention and luckily help is out there. Courtney Carver creator of Be More With Less, Life On Purpose gave this descriptive of a recent getaway to France in her article 5 Ways To Make Anything Easier.

“I spent the last leg of my trip last month in Paris alone. I didn’t have wifi outside of my apartment, and had no idea where I was going or what I was doing. I was excited about the trip, but I also thought it might be hard and it was sometimes. I got lost and delayed, and sometimes felt a little unsure about myself.  In between the very few hard parts though, were the amazing experiences pictured above. I had time to start to my day slowly and drink espresso while writing in the most beautiful parks and cafes. I saw amazing works of art in the Louvre and the L’Orangerie and enjoyed watching artists create new works of art by the river. Being alone gave me time to appreciate the simple things in one of the grandest cities of all.”

Courtney Carver is not alone as fellow minimalist, Tammy Strobel, of Rowdy Kittens (see her tips and stunning photos in our Tahoe article), also celebrates simplicity every single day and the stunning feeling of a large exhale is both palpable and seductive. These innovators walk a walk that is not about going without but rather shines the light on deliberate choice. They pack into their suitcases and into their lives only what is meaningful. And friends, if you really want to get radical, check out Colin Wright. This minimalist pared down everything he owns to 51 items and spends his time traveling the world. He journeys to a new country every four months and has visited the 48 contiguous states not once but twice and this guy is not yet thirty.

 Our quest to become gentle and lightweight travelers is still in its infancy at On A Dime but this week it appears we’ve been handed a challenge. In addition to a streamlined backpacking excursion in Yosemite slated for June, in December we will travel Europe for an On A Dime Adventure totaling about 15-16 days and we will only be carrying backpacks. My guy is joining and he has been known to check extra shoes, golf clubs, and a charcoal grill. In other words, he is a fellow packing-addict and enabler and this – being a winter trip – has his love of high-end backpacking clothing and gadgetry being severely tested. The gauntlet has been thrown and we will document our attempt – once we find an airline that will accommodate multiple cameras, tripods, and reflectors as we hear light can be a problem at the Eiffel Tower.

 Want more simplicity? Check out the site links in our article as the minimalists are living a dream and it’s available to all of us on whatever level syncs with our psyche. And if you crave some extra Zen, check out Tammy Strobel’s new book My Morning View. It is a healthy dose of relaxation and a reminder that life is in session all over the place, every single day.

 *The photos we chose for this article were taken during moments of abundant tranquility and not much luggage.

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