On the Road: 6 Days across California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona

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General Tips:


1. Plan AHEAD
. We started off our trip with the typical “we will live it by the day and see where we end up”. Usually, this mindset works out just fine but not when you do not have service throughout the whole trip and the GPS keeps on turning off.
2. Download every possible map on your phone for the whole area of the trip and buy a paper map. Book all the campsites or accommodations beforehand and print out the addresses. I did not have any service while in Utah and Arizona so double check with your provider before you leave.
3. Fill – up – your -tank – whenever – you – can. You might drive for hours and hours without seeing another car or a gas station. You might drive on the wrong direction and need extra gas for the way back. You never know! The general rule, especially in those locations, is to always fully fill up the tank whenever you can.
4. Always carry cash. I am international and my credit card works everywhere .. or so I thought. Many gas stations did not accept International credit cards, and although the majority also have ATM inside, you might not be able to get cash out for whatever reason. Moreover, the majority of the campsites required a cash payment upon arrival.
5. Buy a National Parks Pass. Instead of having to pay $25/30 every time you get inside a National Park, you can easily get a National Parks Pass for $80. It can be used by two different people and it lasts for one year starting the day of purchase.

When: Especially while crossing the Valley of Fire and Monument Valley, the temperatures can be quite extreme. Try avoiding extreme seasons such as summer and winter. I did this journey at the beginning of May and the temperature was quite bearable, even when driving in the middle of the desert at midday.

Where to Sleep: We rented a small van and slept inside it. Areas like the Valley of Fire and Monument Valley are quite remote, therefore, finding motels or accommodation in general can be quite challenging.

How to get around: Car / Van. If you are renting a car or a van, try to pick something that will not let you on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. You can definitely save up by cooking your own food or by sleeping in campsites but you should always spend a fair amount on money on your vehicle. 

Day 1: Los Angeles / Valley of Fire (317 miles / 510 km)

What: If you feel like you have enough energy, start off the day by catching sunrise at Griffith Observatory! You have a long day of driving ahead so be prepared and store enough water and snacks in your car.
Extra Stop: You are going to drive through Las Vegas. Make a quick stop if you have never been or just drive through the main road. It can get quite busy though, so just keep that in mind for the timing, you do not want to get to the Valley of Fire when is already night time.
Try to make it in time for sunset. The whole valley becomes read and the soft light makes everything even more beautiful. 


Where: We stayed at Atlatl Rock Campground. It is conveniently located along the road and it is easy to find. They have hot showers, bathrooms, and nice picnic and barbecue areas for each camping spot.

Day 2: Valley of Fire / Zion National Park (152 miles / 245 km)

What: Try to leave the campground fairly early, the temperature tends to rise quite quickly and you also do not want to get to Zion National Park too late if you want to make it on time for a hike.
Once we arrived in Zion, we parked our van at the Visitor Center and took the bus (free) to the starting point of the Angel’s Landing trail. I would suggest going inside the Visit Center and ask for recommendations depending on what kind of hike you want to do. Personally, I would recommend Angel’s Landing. It is by far one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done. The end of the trail is very steep, although there are ropes that make it a little easier to hike up, the cliffs on both edges can be quite scaring. I am afraid of heights but I still managed to reach the top; just take your time and do not push your limits.
Zion National Park has a lot to offer. If you have more time, I would definitely recommend staying a couple of days in order to be able to do more hikes and fully enjoy the park.


Where: All the campgrounds nearby were full but we managed to book Zion West Ranch. This is literally a huge field where people drive through and just park their car or van wherever so I do not think it will ever be fully booked. The view in the morning is breathtaking but the campground is in the middle of nowhere, you have to drive on an off-road path and there is no bathroom nor shower.

Day 3: Antelope Canyon / Lake Powell / Horseshoe Bend (113 miles / 182 km)

What: In order to see Antelope Canyon, you need to book a tour with local guides. There are several websites offering different kind of tours. If you are interested in seeing the famous “light beams”, try to book earlier tours as this phenomenon happens in the morning. I would suggest doing a normal 1/1:30 hour tour, which is more than enough to get a few good shots. Keep in mind that it can get quite claustrophobic inside as there are a lot of people in such a small space; you are not allowed to carry backpacks and only one camera per person (no tripods unless you do a photography tour).
After the tour, head over to Lake Powell for a swim or a walk along the lake. Finally, head to Horseshoe Bend for sunset.


Where: There are several campgrounds in the area and pretty much all equipped with hot showers and bathrooms. We stayed at Wahweap Campground.

Day 4: Monument Valley (116 miles / 187 km)

What: Before hitting the road again, you can check out the area as Lake Powell has a lot to offer, from kayaking to UTV tours. You can also have lunch at Big John’s, probably the best ribs I have ever had!
The ride to the Monument Valley is not too long, but you still want to try to get there early enough to spot a nice location for sunset. The area is really big and we took the wrong road at least four times before finding the entrance of the main park. You can drive inside the park (an SUV or van is highly suggested) along the main off-road, I highly recommend it as the scenery is utterly breathtaking. The whole trip takes about two hours (including some time to take pictures) and all the vehicles need to be out of the park by 8pm.

Where: We stayed at Goulding’s Lodge. It is very close to the main entrance of the park, it has hot showers, bathrooms, and even an indoor pool.

Day 5: Grand Canyon National Park (152 miles / 245 km)

What: If you have an extra day, definitely stay at Grand Canyon National Park for a couple of days. There are many hikes and look outs that make a longer stay worth it. We arrived during midday and it was very warm so we decided to take it easy and hike the Bright Angel Point Trail, which takes about one hour. During the summer, look outs can get quite crazy during sunset, so try to arrive fairly early to secure a good spot. The most famous look outs are: Hopi Point, Mohave, Pima Points, Yaki, Navajo, Lipan Point, and Desert View.

Where: Since the drive back to Los Angeles is very long (about 8 hours), we decided to drive as much as we could after sunset and look for a campsite along the way. Otherwise, you can check out the campsites just outside Grand Canyon.

Day 6: Laguna Beach / Venice Beach / Santa Monica (512 miles / 824 km)

What: Last day of the trip! Time to relax and enjoy the nice weather (hopefully) and chill by the beach. If you want to spend the whole day at the beach and go for a swim, Laguna Beach is probably the go to. However, if you feel like walking around, check out Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice Beach. It is a well-known destination with vintage clothing stores, many cozy cafés, and the perfect hipster vibe.
If you still have some energy left, you can also rent a bike and go from Venice Beach to Santa Monica (or vice versa) along the ocean walk.
For sunset, you can head to Venice Skatepark to see some of the most talented kids out there making some tricks while the sun goes down; or you can go to Santa Monica Pier and enjoy the sunset while the lights from Pacific Park reflecting on the water makes everything more magical.

 

Extra Locations: If you have a couple of days extra, I would recommend staying longer in Zion and Grand Canyon National Park. Otherwise, Bryce Canyon National Park and Moab (both in Utah) are definitely a must see if you have enough time.

Bali in less than 10 Days

General Tips:

  • When to go: We went in March as it is considered to be low season and accommodation prices are lower on average. The downside is that the climate is extremely humid and there are lots of mosquitos. It is also the rainy season (although it ends at the end of March) so you might encounter some short but heavy storms.
  • How to get around: We had a driver who we trusted and drove us around by giving also tips and what to do and what not. If you want to do the same, you can shoot me an e-mail and I will give you his contact (foxsbackpack@gmail.com). For the last few days in Uluwatu, we rented a scooter through our hotel. (CHECK INTERNATIONAL DRIVING LICENSE POLICIES as we got a fine the first day because of that ….)

Day 1: Denpasar

What: Get some rest and shake off the jet lag, amazing and unforgettable adventures await!
Tips: Denpasar is truly a vibrant city and very westernized. Since we arrived very late at night, we did not go around the city too much.

Day 2: Ubud

Yes, you probably still have some jet lag hanging around in your system but Bali is out there waiting for you!
What: Start making your way towards Ubud (this might take a few hours, especially due to the unpredictable traffic). Stop by at Pura Tanah Lot, a very beautiful temple on the ocean with a big park to walk around. As a break, you can also check out one of the numerous Luwak Coffee places on the road, it is a local specialty. Next stop is another temple, Taman Ayun Temple. When we went, there were only other 3/4 people, it is very nice to chill around and enjoy some peace. As a final destination for the day, you can stop at the Sacred Monkey Forest, home of more than 600 monkeys. Inside this complex, there are also three Hindu temples that you can discover.
Tips: Make sure to follow the rules at the Sacred Monkey Forest and not to carry food with you. Yes, monkeys are cute and everything but trust me, they can be very aggressive if they want to.

Day 3: Ubud

What: Start off the day heading towards North, specifically, Git Git Waterfall(There is an entrance fee based on how may waterfalls you want to see. There are four in total, we saw the first two and they were absolutely marvelous, it is also worth it for the short hike surrounded by beautiful nature. On the way, make sure to stop at the famous Entrance Gate in Sukasada (picture below). You will find many tourists so try to go quite early in order to get the perfect shot without any pressure or people around. Next stop is a famous water temple on Lake Bratan, Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. There are usually many tourists, especially in the afternoon so try to go earlier in the morning or towards the evening if you want a more peaceful experience.
The last stop for today is the UNESCO World Heritage, “Jatiluwih Rice Terrace“. You will be completely overwhelmed by the beauty of this place. Normal people hike around in half an hour, but if you like to wander around and explore every single spot, it will probably take you a little more than one hour.
Tips: Especially for the rice terraces, remember to bring hiking shoes, the terrain can be slippery (I had normal shoes and fell several times, I mean, it’s funny to watch but not to much to experience it). Remember to bring a swimming costume for Git Git Waterfall, it is very nice to swim around if there is nice weather.

Sometimes it's all about being able to enjoy the moment. But always remember, be grateful for what you have and most importantly, for who you are. Yes, we make mistakes, but would we be here right now if we didn't make them? I don't think so. Be grateful for the people that allowed you to be where you are and for who you are. • • • • • #visualsoflife #beautifuldestinations #artofvisuals #creativetravellife #watchthisinstagood #livefolkindonesia #indotravellers #thisisindonesia #capturedconcepts #visualambassadors #VZCOmood #stayandwander #planetdaily #wildme #natureaddict #travelstoke #roadtheplanet #travelawesome #travelgram #travelerbest #travelingram #travellingthroughtheworld #thecoolmagazine #hsdailyfeature #viualsofearth #barelybackpackers #wondermore

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Day 4: Ubud

What: Last day in Ubud, time flies, doesn’t it? If you did not have the time yet, make sure to take a whole morning/afternoon to walk around this lovely town. Have brunch at the “Lazy Cats” Café (trust me, best pancakes ever), get some coconut ice cream at “Tukies – The Coconut Shop“, and then walk around to burn out all the good food. You can check out the market and the numerous nice buildings around Ubud, it is truly fulfilled with hidden jams!
In the afternoon you can discover the beauties of Desa Pakraman Penglipuran, where you can discover a typical Balinese village. People are very open and there are very few tourists, which gives you the opportunity to chat with some locals. Right behind this place, there is a “bamboo forest” which I mean, you are already there so why not check out that one too.

Day 5: Selat & surroundings

What: Time to leave Ubud towards new and exciting places! Start off the morning by visiting the Pura Tirta Empul, a water temple famous for its holy spring water (Tirta Empul means holy spring in Balinese). Even if you do not wish to enter into the water, you can just walk around and enjoy the stunning structure of the temple.
After refreshing yourself at this water temple, head towards Gunung Kawi, a funerary complex and temple. You will have to go through a lot of stairs so make sure you do not go at midday or during the hottest day (unless you have super powers, then you can just go at any time). This temple is very different from the others, it is mainly composed by huge statues and it is surrounded by rice terraces which make it even more beautiful and unique.
Last cultural site for the day is another UNESCO World Heritage, Pura Goa Gajah. Also known as the “Elephant Cave”, this complex was once a sanctuary. This place is very different from the others, it had something that reminded me a little of the sceneries in the Indiana Jones’ movies (pretty cool, uh?).
Now time to relax! Head over to Kanto Lampo Waterfall and enjoy some fresh water surrounded by beautiful nature. Not many people know about this place, even our driver had some issues finding the way to get there. But hey, on the plus side, barely a few tourists will be there with you so plenty of time to take picture and enjoy your time.

Tips: Remember that in all the temples, people will give you a sarong at the entrance (for a small renting fee), so no need to buy it if you do not want it. However, at the Pura Tirta Empul, if you wish to enter into the water, you will have to bring your own sarong.
If you want to experience a unique accommodation, you can check out HideOutBali (picture below), definitely a must if you have time!

Day 6: Selat & surroundings

What: Today it will be quite tough, so be prepared and bring lots and lots of water, light clothes, and a hat, you will be heading to Lempuyang Temple. This is area is composed by 7 temples, all quite far from each other. The entrance gate you see in the picture linked above (again here) is the first temple that you will find during your hike. This was my favorite of all of them, however, I would still suggest you to reach the top of the mountain. The hike can be quite tough, especially with the heat and while wearing a sarong, but the view and nature that you will see during your way up, it certainly makes it worth it.
To conclude the day, take it easy and stop by at the Tirta Gangga to get some food. This place is a former royal palace with an additional water palace inside it.

Tips: At the Lempuyang Temple, you can choose whether you want a guide or not. We decided not to take one, however, there are several monkeys throughout the hike, especially at the top. Hence, if you are scared of them, I would suggest you to get a guide at the entrance.

Day 7: Uluwatu

What: Time to head to your final destination! The ride from Selat is quite long, however, if you decide to leave in the afternoon, you can stop over at Tibumana Waterfall. This place is very famous among tourists, thus, I would suggest you to go very early in the morning or you will risk to be surrounded by more people than trees.
To end the day after such a long ride, you can head to Dreamland Beach. This location is usually not too crowded and you can just enjoy the view while making sand castles (no, you are never too old to build one) and sipping mango juice.

Tips: You can decide whether you want to keep your driver also in Uluwatu or rent a scooter. We picked the latter option with the help of our hotel, the brought the scooter the next day directly at the entrance of the accommodation. REMEMBER to check your international driving license, we got fined by the police after not even 5 minutes of driving around (and no, it is not a light fine).

Bali 2017: survived an earthquake, power outage in the middle of the jungle, face planted in chicken poop, sunburn all over, fined by the police, a monkey stole one of my flip flops. All in all, so far it is a pretty good holiday 😂 cheers to my travel buddy for going through all this with me @nats.adventures 🌴☀ • • • • • • #balicili #explorebali #thebaliguideline #thebalibible #mybalibible #BaliAsliPic #indtravel #indonesia #lensdistortions #travelawesome #LiveTravelChannel #travelgram #travelerbest #travelingram #travellingthroughtheworld #tv_travel #rurallove #aroundtheworldpix #awesome_globepix #exploretocreate #hsdailyfeature #discoverearth #bali #indonesia #uluwatu #suluban #sulubanbeach #surfing

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Day 8: Uluwatu

What: Finally some relax after all those hikes and temples, and monkeys, and more temples. Start off your day and wander into a cave at the hidden Suluban Beach, probably one of the most scenic and unique beaches I have ever been to. You can chill under the sun, walk around, or even take a surf lesson, the waves there are good for beginners as well (so they say). After a relaxing afternoon, head to the Uluwatu Temple (I know, I know, I kind of said no more temples but .. this one is a must!), make sure to get there in time to find a good spot to catch the sunrise, it will leave you breathless!

Tips: While you are at Suluban Beach, make sure to grab a smoothie bowl at Nalu Bowls Bali, you will definitely not regret it
Make sure to check the closing time of the Uluwatu Temple. We stayed there too long taking picture and we were the only ones left. This meant having to have an uncountable amount of monkeys on our own (one even stole one of my flip flops and ran away. Yea, quite scaring at first but now that I think about it, it’s rather funny).

Day 9: Uluwatu

What: Here we are, last day in Uluwatu, you have to make the most out of it! This day we mostly spent it wandering around the area. We made our way to an abandoned airplane in South Kuta (you might see picture of people standing on top of it online, however, the entrance is forbidden now. You can only see it from the top while standing on a hill nearby). Next stop is a very scenic and photographic spot, the High Cliff situated at the Melasti Beach (coordinates here). Walk around and try to find some hidden spots with the best view, it is definitely worth it!
Make your way back to Suluban Beach to enjoy the sunset and some good food, take it easy and inhale the last moments of peace, your big journey back is around the corner!

Tips: There are many beaches to discover in Uluwatu, however, after a while they also start becoming a bit redundant, or at least that is what I think. However, if you are really into beaches, you can find plenty of suggestions regarding that online or just by asking a local.

Day 10: Canggu and Seminyak

What: Here it is, your last day in Bali, quite sad, don’t you think? Good news is, if you really liked it, this beautiful island is not going anywhere and there is just so much more to see that you will probably be back in no time. Enjoy your day walking around Canggu and Seminyak. Canggu is quite famous for its beaches and restaurants, whereas Seminyak is a good place to enjoy some shopping time. If you have time, I suggest you to check out Shady Shack a vegetarian and vegan restaurant where you can get some good food and enjoy your last few moments in the island

So here it is, my guide to see some of the most beautiful places in Bali. There is just so so so so much more to see in this beautiful island but, hey, one more reason to go back, am I right? Hope you enjoy your time there and feel free to share any additional tips you might have!

If you need more info or want to ask any question, you can always contact me at foxsbackpack@gmail.com .

TOP 5 Tips about Bali

Why 5 and not 10? Let’s be real, the average person stops paying attention by the 4th tip so .. let’s keep it simple.
Bali is incredibly amazing, but in order to enjoy it to the fullest, here is a list of the things I wish I knew before planning and during the trip.

1. Lots of tourists do not make a place worth seeing

I planned the trip based on a mix of friends recommendation, travel websites, and Instagram. However, we ended up not seeing some of the places on the list because we found out there were way too many tourists, which ruined a little bit the atmosphere and authenticity of the place.  An example is when we picked which waterfalls to visit. There are just so so so so many to choose from. We went for the usual “Top Tripadvisor Picks” .. WRONG. We could barely see the water by how many people were there. Thus, we decided to look up on Instagram for other places and found this wonderful waterfall that not even our local driver knew about. It was a bit of a hassle to find it but so worth it!

2. Not everything that you pay for is worth it

Bali is not very expensive on average, however, that does not mean you have to pay for everything you see or want to visit. Of course, people have different interests that value on several levels, but just make some calculations. For example, we arrived in this very modern and well built museum which also offered tours included in the price. Nonetheless, the ticket entrance cost more than how much we paid for all the places (temples, waterfalls, beaches .. ) we have been in 10 days.

3. Street food? Yes, but ..

Whenever I go abroad, one of the main ways I try to learn something about the local culture, is by trying out their food. However, this cannot always be done in restaurants. Yes, those are probably “cleaner” in some ways on average but, if you want the real and authentic taste, street food is the way. Of course, you have to pick wisely. I was lucky enough not to get sick (yet), but one of my main “secrets”, is that I usually ask local people or my guide/driver for suggestions. If you cannot do this, use your gut and instinct, usually it works, and if not, well .. you can always have some fun stories to tell at home about how you survived despite some belly pain.

4. “I will give you a tour!”

Balinese people are extremely polite and helpful on average, however, keep in mind that as basically anywhere else in the world, they have to make a living as well. Therefore, keep in mind that if someone approaches you telling he will give you a tour around or show you a typical “ritual”, he or she will ask you for a donation at the end. Of course, refusing to make an offer, even if minimal, is not polite. Thus, keep this in mind beforehand and gently refuse right away.

5. Bali is not just about white sand and surfing

Yes, Bali is one of the most well known destinations for a surf trip. However, if you came all the way from Europe just like I did, maybe it is worth it to take a look around. I am not only talking about temples and stuff like that, Bali just has so much to offer. If you think you have already seen it all, try asking a local or look something up on Instagram. Trust me, there are so many things to see, visit, and try. Of course, surfing and laying down on white sand is pretty cool as well, but maybe you can discover that jumping from a waterfall or eating the best coconut ice cream ever while walking around Ubud, cab be just as exciting.

Do you have more tips or completely disagree with one of them? Feel free to send me an e-mail! (Please be gentle, I have a soul too – sometimes)