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Full Version: Seattle to Florida in the new-ish Van. Route options and where can I park and sleep!
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Hi everyone!

Sorry if this isn't the proper place to post. So as the title says I am tripping from Seattle to Ft Lauderdale in my Step Van, and it's my first time vandwelling! The van is far from finished but there will be a mattress in the back which is start. Any advice on where to stay for the first nights in the van, places to avoid, meet ups that I might pass through? It's quite a large topic but the trip starts soon and would love everyone's help!

Route options really depend on what your time table is. Personally, I take U.S. Route 2 east to St Ignace MI. Then go south across the bridge and take U.S. Route 23 from Mackinaw City down to Jacksonville. Then pick up Route 1 to get to FT Lauderdale. All the while stopping to see everything interesting on the way. I'd make it a slow meandering trip.

Check and for places to stay.
Thanks Lj!

I just signed up for Allstays but I haven't checked out free campsites yet so thanks for the link! Any major "have to stop here and check this out" points of interest?
Like Lj says - There are many routes that you can take to get to Florida. If there's time I'll always take the slow scenic route. US 12 across Washington state is a beautiful drive. Then you can go southeast through Idaho, Utah, and Colorado. Go deeper south and follow the Gulf coast or choose another route through the midwest or deep south. So many places to go and things to see!

Plug in different routes and options in the freecampsites trip planner  -!&query=TripPlanner

TripAdvisor is good for finding interesting things to see -

 Have fun and let is know how it goes!
I bought my step van north of seattle and drove it down to texas. started with an empty box, sleeping back and some foam cushions. at first I mostly parked at Walmart and Cracker Barrell overnight so I could have food, electric and bathroom. it took me about six months to get power installed, fridge and water. now I'm mostly on BLM land.

so, to get started I'd say park in cities. walmart is easiest for bathrooms etc. once you get a bit settled you can graduate to parking in industrial parks next to large commercial vehicles. arrive at night around 10p and leave in the morning before 6a. I did that for over a year with fantastic success.

ps. I'll be organizing a step van group gathering in January in Quartzsite AZ. last year I rounded up 7 step vans and this year we are hoping to get 20+ there for 3 or 4 days prior to the RTR event organized by BobWells on this site. it might be a good place for you to meet others with step vans and see various build and ask questions about your van.

pps. you can also follow three youtube channels on step vans: 1) 2) "Paul Barger" (Breadtrucker) and 3) "Sylvan Secrets" (in Canada). all have dozens of videos about step van RV living
Thanks again Seven!

Update for all, I did make it to Ft. Lauderdale!! Whew, that was a rush. I'm an idiot for choosing that as my first major trip in a van that I had no idea if it would even make it, but I'm glad I did. What an adventure! I will not talk so bad about Wal-Mart anymore that's for sure.

I was pressed for time so I didn't go sightseeing or stop at any major tourist attractions. However, even missing those spots it made me realize how HUGE AMERICA ACTUALLY IS!!!! As I was passing through states I kept seeing familiar sights that I somehow forgot existed(most likely just didn't know where they were to begin with)! I am soooooo glad I pulled the trigger and bought a van! I have got a lot of planning to do on the way back from southern Florida next year.

My mom said I looked like an old timey black and white movie as I was frantically working on the van before I headed out! In 5 days I got sound proof material covering most of the box interior, cut and installed polyiso insulation on the floor, sides, and roof (I couldn't get the roof insulation glued in before I drove, but I then found out about the wonders of Gorilla Tape!), and runners to support a minimal floor. All before the rain came in for good in Seattle!

I ended up staying mostly at Wal-Mart's, except for one night at Little America in Wyoming which had amazing showers. Thanks for the recommendations of and Absolute Life Savers!

Thanks everyone for your help! I will be asking for it again pretty soon.