how to live, travel and explore the world from your van
east coast road trip map

Vanabode 18 week 7,532 mile East Coast Road Trip

We wanted to have fun while answering one big question: “Can we travel the east coast forever on $20 a day, food, gas and lodging?” With the Vanabode book anyone can do this out west where millions of acres of land stand open to free exploration. However people told us it can't be done on the east coast through big cities and expensive places like Boston, Washington DC, Cape Cod, New York City, and Chicago where hotel rooms cost four hundred dollars a night and parking runs thirty dollars a day. WRONG!

We accomplished this extraordinary feat using our Vanabode and accompanying strategies. This road trip book is a diary style telling of some of what we experienced in 2014 over the course of eighteen weeks traveling up the east coast from Florida to Maine, through the Great Lakes, and down to Chicago. The key is we did it on less than $20 per day per person, including food, gas, and lodging. You can do the same thing. For many years we lived and traveled this way with no house or steady job at all.

Most importantly, if you want free time to do whatever YOU want; whether traveling, or engaging in some fun hobby, or spending more time with someone special, the Vanabode philosophy, living strategy, and equipment is your answer. For the price of a burger get the book from Amazon and enjoy all the juicy details!

Vanabode Author goofing off on Lake Erie

This portion of the overall Vanabode Destinations Guide covers an 18 week 7,532 mile trip from Florida to Maine to Chicago and most major points in between. My wife and I took this trip using a Vanabode, coupled with the strategies and equipment explained in the book; in an attempt to live on the road long term and experience the impressive, expensive areas of the East Coast, the New England area, Cape Cod, Washington DC, Boston, New York City, and Chicago coupled with hundreds of small town experiences on $20 a day; food, gas, and lodging.

Most location specific guides from the Vanabode Destinations Guide contain pictures and information covering where to go, what to do when you get there, what time of year to visit to avoid the crowds, temperature ranges from night to day, expected budget, and safety concerns if any. However this time I covered these kind of details in book format - Big City Wild Country East Coast Road Trip on $20 a Day. The following entries are mostly pictures from some of the places we visited.

East Coast Travel Destination Guides

Listed in the order we traveled through them on this particular 18 week trip


Cape Canaveral the Space Coast is a water lovers paradise, from shuttles to Port Canaveral Pier
Clothing Optional Playalinda Beach crystal clear water, sea turtles, dolphins, swim in private
Daytona Beach super clean beaches you can drive on, surfing, great cheap food nearby, easy parking
   Daytona Beach pictures big lighthouse views, biker weeks avoid unless you want lots of action
Ormond Beach includes Tomoka state park, super clean beaches you can drive on, surfing
   Ormond Beach pictures famous hotels, Fortunato Park, hikes, beaches, good priced food
Jacksonville and Beaches clean beach, poker rooms, Oak Lawn Cemetery, free oceanfront parking
Fort Matanzas National Monument free ferry ride, massive oaks, picnic area, guided tour


Savannah diverse city full of style, 100 year old oaks, historical architecture, along Savannah River

South Carolina

Charleston Battery District, mansions, plantations, US Custom House, winding streets waterfront
K-Rae’s Waterway Bar and Grille Murrells Inlet, stunning protected waterway views, marina, great food
Brookgreen Gardens one of the top ten sculpture gardens in the United States, zoo, water features
Marsh Walk in Murrells Inlet prime waterfront dining and bar hopping, stunning sunsets
Myrtle Beach boardwalk with ferris wheel on the beach, oceanfront shopping,
North Myrtle Beach parades, clean beaches, Barefoot Landing, art museums, great shopping

North Carolina

Wilmington, Jacksonville, Richlands City, forests, nice country living, newspaper interview, parks
Atlantic Beach Fort Macon stunning big heavy duty fort with live reenactments and big grounds
Beaufort - North Carolina Maritime Museum stunning museum, huge collections, very interesting
Beaufort Old Burying Ground stunning creepy heavy handed burial plots, do NOT go at night
New Bern bears, Indian food, downtown street shopping, parks, cheap day fun, clean
Wright Brothers National Memorial hosts massive stone monuments, intricate sculptures


Virginia Beach, King Neptune statue, Colonial history, nice historical area, clean beaches
Gloucester Virginia’s oldest living village, Powatan or Pocahontas chimney
US Army Transportation Museum extraordinary collection of stunning real and rebuilt relics, BIG!

Washington, D.C.

Free all day parking monuments, Capitol Building, art galleries, Smithsonian, National Zoo


Baltimore Maryland NOT part of this particular 18 week trip because we already visited a few years back. I am including our pictures here under Maryland in case you take the same route we did on your east coast trip. It's a modern waterfront city, awesome crab cakes, nice area, not cheap


Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge beavers, birds, 1,000's of acres of swamp, harness racing
Lewes, Wilmington

New Jersey

Hoboken misty, foggy, moody, beautiful waterfront views and parks, can be crowded
Liberty State Park Empty Sky 9/11 memorial, stunning views of Ellis Island and Manhattan
Cattus Island County Park big well laid out trails, rivers, swamps, deep interesting forests
Twin Lights Lighthouse and Historic Site in Highlands, crazy winding streets up to the top, be careful!
New Jersey miscellaneous like Atlantic City, Sandy Hook Rec Area, and the Deep Cut Gardens
Princeton University Art Museum host paintings, sculpture, and relics from days long gone, unreal
Princeton University stunning architecture, pleasant welcoming vibe, great public transportation
Howell Living History Farm in Lambertville, great living farm displays I have ever seen, live plowing

New York

New York City Staten Island ferry, financial district, 9/11 memorial, big architecture, free museums
Lake Erie Westfield Daniel Reed Memorial Pier, fantastic swimming sunbathing on the beach
Thousand Islands Alexandria Bay fantastic swimming sunbathing on the beach, clean parks, tours
Niagara Falls stunning unbelievable free state park, easy parking, casinos nearby for nightlife.


Mystic upbeat coastal community, world class Mystic Seaport, Mistick Village shopping
Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Casinos offer free fun, fun gaming, free concerts, food, hotels and art
Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam at 122 acres this is a beautiful one of a kind must see
Silver Sands State Park in Milford 100's of acres of beachs, islands, streams, boardwalks, fun
New Haven offers stunning architecture, Yale University, British Art Gallery Museum , great food
Yale University Art Gallery big well designed galleries of fine art from around the world.
East Rock Park run by Hamden or New Haven, awesome views, great climb, easy to do with a car

Rhode Island

Newport Harbor with Fort Adams Park, Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, beach fun
Watch Hill hiking, beach fun, lighthouse, incredible waterfront, shopping, marinas
Galilee Narragansett inlet, beach, lighthouse, waterfront, shops, marinas, fishing fleets
Point Judith Lighthouse oceanfront fun, lighthouse, awesome views, quiet
Cliff Walk Newport oceanfront walk between mansions and cliffs, awesome views


Cape Cod miscellaneous places, Pamet trail, lighthouses, Sesuit Harbor, Salt Pond, wild turkey
Boston Freedom Trail leads walkers through the city, down historic streets to notable sites
   Boston Pictures sports crazed town, marriage of old and new architecture, gardens and monuments
Chatham Pier fish market moody views of bay, ocean, working fishing fleet, day boats, seals
Gloucester Stage Fort Park, oceanfront forest hikes, big rocks, cliffs, cute historic minded town
Great Hollow Beach stunning sunsets, clean sand, uncrowded, beachfront cliff hanger mansions
Halibut State Park sweet inland flooded quarry, oceanfront madness, rock hills on the beach
Fort Phoenix State Beach and Reservation in Fairhaven offers walking bridges, great beaches, more
Boardwalk Beach in Sandwich has the coolest boardwalk I have ever seen, even beats Miami Beach
Fort Sewell and Marblehead Light lighthouse, beachfront fort, parks, marinas inland, very fun area
Plymouth quaint town, nice waterfront, marinas, parks, statues, Mayflower replica, old graveyard
Walden Pond Concord the original kettle pond, Walden's house replica, swimming, hiking
Rockport incredible shopping, bay, marinas, boats, views and food along quaint pedestrian streets
New Bedford Portuguese influence, Fisherman’s Bethel, heavy fishing fleets, interesting downtown
Adams National Historial Park in Quincy offers a massive array of American historical artifacts

Above: It's raining so we visit the Northshore Mall in Massachusetts for a bit. I barely make it past the theft prevention barriers in my squirrel outfit before security approaches. It's funny, they can't actually state a law that I am breaking, but they do convince me to quit. They git me squirrel mask but not me nuts.


Mattapoisett to Woods Hole Cape Cod day one - marinas, lighthouses, museum and happy hour
Bar Harbor
fresh air and fun atmosphere in this small town, sunrises and sunsets with big rewards
Acadia National Park breathtaking rugged coastline with hikes and drives offering spectacular views
   Acadia Park Pictures peaks for adrenaline, peaks for peace, lighthouse, lake, coastal scenic drives
Somes Sound, Seals Harbor, Northeast Harbor bunches of small interesting waterfront areas
Augusta state capital building and state museum peaking into the past and future of this diverse state
Hallowell, Coopers Mills, Wiscasset antique shopping, then lobster roll on the water before sunset
Boothbay Harbor and East Boothbay fun walking towns, islands, boats, deep water harbors
Camden to Belfast picturesque waterfront town on the Megunticook, Camden Hills hike, unique shops
Quoddy Head Light State Park stunning oceanfront cliff based hiking, lobster boats, lighthouse
Rockland Lighthouse on the Breakwater with passing boats and fisherman and shopping
Grafton Notch State Park stunning high mountain hikes, cliff walks, forest, waterfalls, cold swimming
Portland fantastic waterfront integration with tourist fun and city life, working fishing ports and wharfs
Rangeley Lake area, moose and wild camping, Haines Landing, Oquossoc, Wilson’s Mills, Upton
Lily Bay State Park and Moosehead Lake big wild country, waterways, hiking, camping, moose
Western Island catch lobster, put in a cage, feed it until they order one for dinner, boil and serve

New Hampshire

Hampton Beach and Errol parades, beachs, sunbathers on the wall, oceanfront and little cities
Portsmouth cool bridges, rivers, waterfront attactions, good downtown shopping and food
White Mountains incredible hiking, easily accessible waterfalls, clear water, great towns in the area


Burlington eclectic mix of both fashion and architectural styles, street performers on Church Street
Graniteville Rock of Ages Granite Quarry, unbelievable rough field rock to factory finished products
Saint Johnsbury Athenaeum with stunning architecture, ancient hand carved wooden structures

Pennsylvania - no pictures see book


Cuyahoga Valley National Park offers serene deep dark forrest hiking and big waterfalls, swimming
Port Clinton Mayfly invasion, bunnies, and power plants


Holland farmers markets, Big Red Harbor Light lighthouse leads to the big wild blue
Grand Haven musical watershow, marina, riverfront, ocean beach access, Lighthouse Connector Park
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore National Park massive dunes, wildlife, swimming, camp
Ellsworth and Petosky cherry groves and roadside picking, cliff view sunsets from local parks
Makinaw City bridges, marinas, shopping, Native American shops, lighthouse, museum, rock beachs
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Lake Superior beautiful water, swimming, hikes, camping
Ann Arbor Matthaei Botanical Gardens of University Michigan, indoors/out, gift shop, free admission

My lovely wife Kelly on the beach in Massachusetts

Above: Why do we travel long and slow? Simple. When we Vanabode we smile.


Lake Geneva pristine lakefront town and community offering great shopping and water sports
Milwaukee fun downtown riverwalk, huge cheese mart, Miller Brewing tours, boats, architecture


Maple Park Organic Farm combine machine, sleeping under the oaks, grain bins, Chicago base
Lincoln Park Zoo and Conservatory awesome sell laid out free animal showcase
Navy Pier Chicago's most tourist friendly lakefront venue outside the dozens of beaches
Chicago outside, architecture, boat tours, skyscrapers, Trump Tower, Garfield Park Conservatory
Chicago inside, art galleries, museums, cultural centers, indoor attractions
Chicago Millennium Park, includes the Crown Fountain, Chrome Bean, party stage
National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago
Chicago views from the condo in the sky, skyline, day and night shots

Miscellaneous Pictures

Various east coast road trip pictures for which NO other webpage was created.

princeton university on cheap road trip

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old wood from Fort Macon
Fort Macon wood

Barefoot hiker toe leaf wrap

rusty boat on land
Land locked in Michigan

Connecticut casino art

Quoddy Head lighthouse sunny day
Quoddy Head lighthouse

us army ship in virginia museum
U. S. Army Ship in Virginia

Chicago water taxi tours
Chicago water taxi tours

Niagara Falls Hotdog Man
Niagara Falls Hotdog Man

cute puppy
Sweetest thing in Boston

Museum of Mexican Art

Wright Brothers Memorial
Wright Brothers Memorial

DC elevator interior wall

Christ in art gallery

Bar Harbor Maine sunset

Burlington water fountain
Burlington water fountain

jason in jail
Author jailed in Beaufort

DC Botanical Gardens
DC Botanical Gardens

chicago at night
Chicago night skyline

Bone carving art gallery

new jersey liberty state park
NJ Liberty State Park

lobster van
Myrtle Beach lobster van

Lamb sculpture - art gallery

portland yachts
Portland marina

St. Johnsbury Athenaeum

Chicago Chrome Bean

Bombay Hook Refuge
Bombay Hook Refuge

copper wind vane for sale
Artistic copper wind vane

plymouth ships
Plymouth Massachusetts

Howell Living History Farm

car show on a vanabode trip in new hampshire
New Hampshire car show

presby iris gardens in new jersey Presby Iris Gardens

Yale architecture

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