I have never been a weekend camper and I have not slept outdoors in a tent for years. You will need to look to others for advice on real outdoor camping. My search areas are 1000-1500 miles from my home. I don’t want to waste time in a long drive so, I always fly out. If you drive to your search area you will always be in control of your travel. But when I travel by air, I have learned to plan for the worst. The plane is late or delayed. I get to my destination too late and everything I depend on is closed for the day. I arrive on time but find that my rental is not waiting for me even with a reservation. On one trip my shipping carrier sent all my gear to the wrong city and I was stranded. I try to think through a back up plan for every situation. If all goes as planned, I use the following routine each trip.
- I pack all my gear and equipment into a 4’x4’ industrial tote crate. Usually 400 pounds.
- I ship the crate LTL to the freight terminal in the city nearest my dig site. The terminal will hold the crate for me for a few days until I arrive.
- I fly to the same city with just a carry-on bag.
- I get a ride from the airport to the nearest U-Haul facility and rent a standard cargo van. I started by fossil trips by camping in a rental minivan with stow away back seats. I realized that I was using a passenger van as a truck, so why not just rent a truck. From then on I have rented a U-Haul cargo van for my travel and as my camper.
- I drive to the freight terminal and empty the crate of gear into the van. I arrange for the terminal to store the empty crate for 2 weeks while I’m out in the field.
- I drive to the local Wal-Mart to buy food and other provisions and then head out into the prairie or desert.
The van becomes my home away from home for 10 days. It feels as comfortable as home because each trip I put everything in the same location. The air mattress and sleeping bags are always on the rear right, my gear goes in the rear left, in back of the cab are two large coolers, food is always on the passenger seat, clothing in the passenger foot well, and all my books and papers are between the front seats. This is actually more organized than my real home.