25 Korean Dishes You Must Eat in South Korea

25 Korean Dishes You Must Eat in South Korea .
By: on December 13, 2019 During the last two weeks in May of 2019, I visited South Korea for the very first time.
I spent the first week traveling with other travel bloggers and the Korea Tourism Organization , who gave us our first taste of the Korean dishes you must eat.
During the second week, my friend Sam and I did some more in-depth exploration s of Seoul, Busan, and Daegu.
Along the way, we tried dozens of remarkable Korean dishes.
I went from having very limited knowledge of what Korean food was, to having Korean cuisine skyrocket up my list of favorite food culture s in the world.
From the tantalizing flavors of Korean barbecue to the traditional dishes eaten by Buddhist monks to the expansive world of Korean street food, this country is a foodie paradise.
I wish I could include every Korean dish I loved in this list, but I decided to narrow it down to the ones that truly teased my palate and enchanted my taste buds.
The ones that made my mouth water just by smelling them.
These are the 25 Korean dishes you must eat.
One of the most popular street foods in South Korea is tteok-bokki.
They’re dense, chewy, cylindrical rice cakes that are bathed in a spicy, rich red chili sauce called gochujang.
I first tried this amazing treat at Ameyoko Market in Tokyo, .

But the South Korean version blew me away

You can get it almost anywhere, including street food markets, restaurants , buffets, and even baseball stadium concessions.
But the best place to try it is Tongin Market in Seoul.
The tteok-bokki there was everything I needed it to be: chewy, spicy, and oily.  These rice cakes weren’t swimming in gochujang sauce like most of the other varieties I’d tried around the country.
Even so, they still made my mouth water the moment I laid eyes on them.
They’re one of the best Korean dishes you must eat and are a true treat for your taste buds.
Korean Fried Chicken.
I’ll be honest.
Americans like to think they make the best fried chicken in the world.
But after visiting South Korea , our fast-food chicken chains don’t come even close to what the Koreans are doing.
The chicken there is freshly made.
You can actually taste that it has never been frozen and is as natural as you can get.
And the best part is, you’d be hard-pressed to find bad fried chicken in the country.
Every variety I had was out of this world.
One of my absolute favorites is the dakgangjeong you can find at Tongin Market.
Dakgangjeong is basically a much tastier version of popcorn chicken.
It’s covered in a thick sweet and sour glaze and is some of the freshest-tasting chicken I’ve ever had.
It’s an incredible food experience and is one of the top Korean dishes you must eat, period.
Another spot you have to hit up for amazing Korean fried chicken is Oven Chicken and Beer in Seoul.
There, you must try their regular fried chicken.
It has that remarkable, fresh taste I mentioned earlier.
It’s crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, exactly the way fried chicken should be.
They also make a version that’s slathered in a sweet and spicy sauce that brought to mind Chinese sweet and sour chicken, except with a nice tanginess.
Their soy sauce chicken, which is coated in the dark brown sauce, is also sensational.
Kimchi Mandu.
I love a good dumpling.
I also love kimchi, the spicy, fermented cabbage dish that is the national dish of South Korea.
So, naturally, when I found out there’s a dish that combines the two, I knew I was in for a divine gastronomical experience.
For this dish, the kimchi mandu, you should head over to Namdaemu Market.
This scrumptious, reddish mandu (the Korean word for dumpling) was stuffed with spicy kimchi, delicate glass noodles, and tender pork.
I was in heaven after just one bite.
The sour, spicy kimchi with the fatty pork and fragile noodles was a treat for my palate like no other.
I’m salivating just thinking about it.
Just don’t dive in immediately, because these pockets of Korean goodness are served piping hot and can easily scald your tongue.
Give them a moment to cool down and then go to town on them.
You (and the inside of your mouth) will thank me later.
You can get five mandu for $4,000 won, or $3.30 USD, which makes this Korean dish you must eat, a total steal.
I’ve mentioned on my blog that I don’t really have much of a sweet tooth.
Sweets are nice, but I’ll almost always choose something spicy or savory over anything sugary.
Except honey.
If you want me to eat your sweet, make sure it has honey and I’m all over it.
That’s exactly what happened when I found the honey-and-cream stuffed pastry called hotteok at Tongin Market.
It’s served to you straight out of the oil, so it’s super greasy and needs a few minutes to cool down.
Give it a few minutes to cool down and take a nibble of the crispy, golden-brown exterior.
Once you’re sure the inside is no longer molten lava, take a bigger bite.
Mine had so much filling that it burst, sending hot honey and cream oozing out the other side.

It’s messy and decadent and is easily one of the top Korean dishes you must eat in Seoul

Gimbap at Namdaemun Market.
If you’re an occasional watcher of my travel/food vlogs on YouTube, you probably know that I love to indulge in fatty, creamy, decadent cultural dishes when I travel.
But you may not know that I also love the flavors and crunch of fresh vegetables.
Enter gimbap.
Gimbap is the Korean word for hand rolls, which contain rice and lots of fresh vegetables wrapped in crispy seaweed.
Some varieties will also contain an animal protein like pork or fish.
Like nearly all of the Korean dishes you must eat, they’re fresh and extremely tasty.
In the indoor, underground section of Namdaemun Market, you’ll find a gimbap that contains seaweed, rice, carrot, cucumber, and radish. It has sesame seeds on the outside, which add a nice nuttiness that goes well with the fresh, crisp vegetables and slightly briny seaweed.
This gimbap is served with soy sauce mixed with a very hot wasabi that gives you a quick burst of heat that dissipates quickly.
Best of all, it only costs 2,000 won, or $1.65 USD, which makes it a tasty, filling, and inexpensive snack.

Check out my Korean Temple Stay at Beomeosa Temple: Everything You Need to Know guide

Just hours after I landed in Seoul after a roughly day-long journey from Miami, .

My good friend Sam took me to a restaurant selling grilled Korean pork belly

I am a huge pork belly fan and have eaten varieties of it all over the world.
This kind blew my socks off.
It’s called samgyeopsal and it delivers the crispiness, fattiness, and juiciness that all good pork belly is known for.

Samgyeopsal is a form of Korean barbecue

so it’s grilled right at your table.
After it has been cooking for a while, your waiter will cut the pork belly into strips, which you wrap in a piece of lettuce with red pepper paste and garlic.
This tasty pork belly package is meant to be eaten in one delicious bite and is truly life-changing.
After one bite, you’ll understand why it’s one of the Korean dishes you must eat.
I’ve already professed my love for kimchi, the delicious, spicy fermented cabbage that I can’t get enough of.
Combine it with another of my favorite foods, pancakes, and I’m all in.
This amazing mixture can be tasted by trying another of the top Korean dishes you must eat, kimchi-jeon, which I discovered at Tongin Market.
The spicy, moist kimchi is phenomenal in this dish.
The pancake itself is made of a minimal amount of batter and allows the kimchi to be the star of the dish.
The small amount of batter gives the dish a palatable crunch and takes it to the next level.
I love the savory pancake dishes you’ll find around the Far East and this one is easily my favorite.
Sundubu Jjigae.
One of the highlights of my time in Seoul was the cooking class I took early in my trip.
I learned to make two incredible dishes, including a delicious, spicy seafood stew called sundubu jjigae.
The dish is made up of shrimp, cucumber, onions, leeks, tofu, and squid. And trust me, I’m no cook.
So if I can make it, so can you.
This stew is nothing short of fantastic. It had just the right amount of spice while still being bright and fresh because of the vegetables.
The shrimp and squid added a briny flavor and a new layer of texture, while the silky tofu added a smoothness that absorbed all of the rich flavors in the pot.

It’s one of my favorite Korean dishes you must eat in Seoul

and I’m not just saying that because I made it.
Potato-Crusted Hot Dog at Namdaemun Market.
Any market that has been around since 1414 has to be good in order for it to stand the test of time.
After visiting the historic Namdaemun Market, I can attest that some of the best Korean dishes you must eat can be found among its 10,000 stalls, including the potato-crusted hot dog on a stick.
This dish is exactly what it sounds like.
The potato exterior is crunchy and salty like a good French fry, and is also quite spicy, while the hot dog inside is juicy and moist.
Add some new layers of flavor with the four sauces provided.
There’s a spicy sauce with a tangy kick and a milder, sweeter sauce.
It’s convenient and is pretty tasty.
Buddhist Monastic Food.
With so many exciting and flavorful foods available everywhere in Seoul, it’s easy to overlook more traditional cuisine like Buddhist monastic food.
To try a large spread of the types of food served at Buddhist monasteries around the country, stop by Balwoo Gongyang Restaurant.

You’ll learn that Korean Buddhist food is straight to the point and is made with simple

fresh ingredients.
For example, the appetizer course consisted of a lovely, oatmeal-like rice porridge with peanuts, a sour kimchi soup, and a juicy lychee.
The next course was light on flavor ad spices and consisted of bean curd, a kimchi cucumber, mung bean jelly with lotus fruit, and a green leaf. Two of my favorite dishes in the following course were a plantain-like fruit with a sweet and sour glaze and a tasty, creamy noodle dish with mushrooms.
Other fantastic Buddhist monastic dishes at Balwoo Gongyang included a tasty potato and onion pancake and a vegetable pancake.
You also can’t leave without trying the spicy bamboo, the fermented soybean paste soup, and spicy mushrooms.
The dessert course is made up of dried kiwi slices and red tea.
I’ll admit, the tea had no flavor, but the dried kiwi was phenomenal.
I wish I could have had more of it.
This meal definitely contains some outright delicious dishes, as well as others that might be an acquired taste for some.
But if you want to really dive into the Korean dishes you must eat, and get a taste of everything the local cuisine has to offer, you have to try it.
Check out 5 Things You Must Do in Daegu, South Korea.
When I travel through India, something I always have to have is sugarcane juice, which is a refreshing beverage you can get right on the street in most major cities.
The closest equivalent I found in South Korea is sikhye, a sweet, refreshing, rice-based drink that contains has bits of rice grains floating in it.
I visited Seoul in late May, right on the cusp of summer, so the weather was hot and muggy nearly every day.
After sweating like crazy during most of my Tongin Market visit, the sikhye cooled me down and hydrated me.
It was exactly what I needed to keep going and I highly recommend it.
Green & White Rice Cakes.
Rice cakes are all the rage in eastern Asian countries like South Korea and Japan.
I talked about the delicious, savory tteok-bokki earlier, but you can also get some delightful sweet rice cakes in South Korea as well.
Head over to Namdaemun Market, where you might be lucky enough to meet a nice woman selling two types of sweet rice cakes.
One is green one and the other is white.
Both are spongy and dense, but the green one contained powdered peanut on the inside.
I love peanut flavor, so the combination of sweet and nutty had my taste buds dancing.
I admit I couldn’t really place the filling in the white rice cake.
It was tasty, but I liked the green one better.
Try them both to see which of these Korean dishes you must eat tastes better to you! They cost 1,000 won, or just $0.84 USD for four, so try two of each.
Haemul Pajeon.
The other food I made during my Korean cooking class is a crispy, savory pancake called haemul pajeon. The pancake’s main ingredients are seafood and green onions, and also contains a batter made from flour, water, and salt.
You cook it like a normal pancake and then add the spring onion, squid, and vegetables as it cooks.
Some egg is also added to bind it together. Once it’s brown and crispy, it’s ready to be served.
The savory components of the haemul pajeon, including the onions and vegetables, add lightness and freshness.
The seafood adds that briny taste from the deep, which works really well in the pancake.
Eat it with some soy-vinegar-chili sauce for a boost of flavor and heat.
It takes the pancake to a whole new level and makes it one of the Korean dishes you must eat, without question.
I’ll be real with you.
Namdaemun Market isn’t the easiest market to navigate if you’re on the hunt for street food.
The food stalls are few and far between and it can be frustrating when you’re hungry and all you see is retail everywhere you look.
But keep going, because eventually, you should find the street food, including some amazing fried rice cakes.
This polenta-like rice cake, called a tteok, was a bit tough on the outside and had a dense and chewy center.
It’s fairly bland and could use some sauce to add more layers of flavor, but it’s actually not bad.
In fact, it’s a nice, portable, and filling that will cost you less than $1 USD at just 1,000 won or $0.84 USD each.
I mentioned my deep love of mandu earlier.
These steamed dumplings are little pillows of perfection, and they’re downright magnificent when they’re floating in a Korean soup called manduguk.
It’s made by cooking the dumplings in an eggy beef- or anchovy-based broth, which tastes similar to miso soup.
I wish I knew the name of the restaurant where I tried it, but it’s located down a tiny alley near Gyeongbokgung Palace.
The miso-like flavor permeated the noodles and dumplings, which were bursting with hearty pieces of juicy pork.
I also could not get enough of the mouthwatering, aromatic herbs inside the mandu, and the fresh, crunchy spring onions sprinkled throughout the broth.
Check out the Top 10 Things to See and Do in Busan, South Korea.
Exotic Raw Seafood at Taejongdae Clam Tents.
I’m sure many people have seen footage of people eating squirming pieces of raw octopus.
The footage alone is enough to make some people cringe, while those with more adventurous palates can’t wait to try it.
You’ll have your chance at Tent #5 at the Taejongdae Clam Tents in Busan. This exotic feast is not for the faint of heart.
The octopus is the centerpiece of an entirely raw seafood feast.
The spread consists of familiar items like clams, oysters, and mussels, as well as more exotic offerings I couldn’t identify. And yes, at the center of the platter is the octopus, so freshly killed that its tentacles writhe around like it’s trying to escape back into the sea.
The clams and mussels are fresh, succulent, and delicious, especially with the spicy ketchup-like sauce that’s served on the side. They were my favorite part of the meal. Some of the unknown items were quite tasty, while others were so tough I almost broke a tooth trying to chew them.
Be careful.

Check out the 10 Korean Food Experiences You Must Have in Busan

South Korea.
You sometimes hear about how still-squirming octopus can be dangerous to eat, and after this meal, I understand why.
Even in death, the octopus’ suction cups still work.
It’s a little shocking when you realize that a tentacle has latched onto your tongue or the inside of your cheeks, but it would be a whole other story if it grabbed the inside of your esophagus because you didn’t chew it well enough.
Because of that, this is not a dish you can eat quickly.
You kind of have to fight with it.
And while it makes for an interesting story to tell afterward, the actual process of eating it borders on unpleasant.
Still, if you’re a foodie traveling through the country, this is easily one of the top Korean dishes you must eat.
It’s way too tempting to pass up.
Just keep chewing.
During your time in Busan, you’d be remiss if you didn’t have some dakgalbi in the bright and vibrant Bujeon-dong area.
Dakgalbi is a sensational barbecued chicken dish with cabbage, green peppers, spring onion, rice cakes, red peppers, and gochujang sauce.
It’s tender and flavorful and is honestly one of my favorite chicken dishes of all-time.
But it doesn’t end there.
After you eat roughly half of it, you can have your waiter come back with an order of fried rice with chicken and cheese.
They’ll mix it with the dakgalbi and stir-fry it up to create a bokkeumbap.
The cheesy, crispy rice, chicken, and vegetable mixture is greasy and everything I imagine Korean food heaven would be.
You can’t afford to miss it.
Korean Chinese Food.
During my time in Busan, I took a quick day trip up to the historical city of Gyeongju, which is home to Korea’s most fascinating historical and archaeological sites.
While in Gyeongju, .

I highly recommend trying the local Korean Chinese food at Eohyang-Won Restaurant

Korean Chinese Food is a hybrid cuisine that is derived from Chinese cuisine but is made with Korean flavors and ingredients.
One such dish is the jajangmyeong, .

Which is a Korean Chinese noodle dish that comes in a sauce made with black bean paste

It’s greasy, rich, and flavorful and is easily one of the heaviest dishes I ate in South Korea.
I loved the hearty pieces of pork mixed throughout and the pork fat.
One of my favorite Korean dishes you must eat at Eohyang-Won Restaurant is tangsuyuk, a type of fried, chewy, crispy breaded pork that is bathed in a thick sweet and sour sauce.
Mixed in with the pork and sauce are savory carrots and onions, as well as sweet pineapple.
You also should not leave without trying the gun-mandu, which are delicious, pork-filled dumplings that are served in a black sauce.
The sauce adds new levels of flavor and is nothing short of exceptional.
Street Food at BIFF Square.

Like the Korean Chinese Food entry

this entry is more about an overall food experience than one or two specific Korean dishes you must eat.
But trust me, you’ll understand why when you visit BIFF Square, which is known worldwide as the home of the Busan International Film Festival.
What many may not know is that BIFF Square is also home to lots of street food vendors who offer a wide variety of delicious and unique Korean treats.
They include the ever-present tteok-bokki, which you can try along with a spongy fish cake called odeng.
Don’t miss out on the meaty blood sausage called sundae, which is one of my favorites.
I mentioned dakgangjeong earlier, but it’s worth a second shout-out here because it truly is some of the freshest and most flavorful fried chicken in the world.
You can also try some wonderful vegetable mandu, as well as garibi. Garibi is a smoky, grilled scallop that’s topped with corn, onion, sauce, and torched cheese. It’s every bit as delicious as it sounds.
There’s also a silkworm larvae called beondegi, which seriously tested my gag reflex, and a giant, roasted marshmallows filled with ice cream that was pillowy and super sweet. I also enjoyed the waffle balls with bean curd inside, which was quite tasty.
Buddhist Monk Food at Beomeosa Temple.
Earlier, .

I talked about Korean Buddhist monastic food in a restaurant setting

But if you want the true, immersive experience, you should try it during a temple stay.
There are at least 30 temples in South Korea that offer overnight stays, but the one I stayed at was Beomeosa Temple in Busan. There, you’ll enjoy two fantastic, traditional meals.
Pay attention to the monks as they explain mealtimes to you.
Be respectful and learn the proper way to eat.
Don’t take more than you can eat because you have to finish it all.
Nothing goes to waste here.
Dinner consisted of a bowl of white rice and a delicious seaweed soup.
You eat by holding the bowl as close to your face as possible and eating discreetly, so no one should be able to see you taking bites.
You also can’t talk during your meal.
Once you’re finished, you can put your bowl down.
A buffet-style breakfast is served the following morning.
There, you’ll find rice, some delightfully spicy kimchi, and some crunchy and earthy seaweed.
Your final “meal” during an overnight stay will consist of an orange and some tea during the da-seon, or tea ceremony, not long after breakfast.
The food may sound simple, but it’s quite delicious.
No Korean vacation is complete without these Korean dishes you must eat.
Royal Korean Feast.
In South Korea, a full-course meal is called a hangjeongsik.
To enjoy a royal Korean hangjeonsik, you should head over to Bansang Restaurant.
The restaurant opens at noon, just in time for lunch.
One of my favorite dishes of the hangjeonsik was the fatty and gamy duck in the very first course, which also includes a salad and a bland bean curd.
You’ll follow that with pork with onions and chilies, teriyaki pumpkin, and some fantastic sweet potato glass noodles.
Take the time to enjoy the marinated beef, which is unreal and has a hint of sweetness.
I also loved the fermented soybean and tofu soup with crab, the wild mushrooms, and the spicy kimchi.
Finish your meal with a delicious black raspberry wine called Bokbunjajoo, which reminded me of rakia. There’s also a fantastic plum wine, so go all out with it! It’s a fabulous meal that’s full of Korean dishes you must eat and some tasty drinks I think you’ll really enjoy.
If you want a large and inexpensive spread of food in Korea, you should go with a bapsang.
A bapsang is a large meal that centers around meat, vegetables, soups, and sides.
Head over to the 24-hour Sigol Bapsang Busan Restaurant to enjoy one at any time of the day or night.
My unbelievable 14-dish spread centered around a spicy, stir-fried pork in gochujang sauce called jeyuk-bokkeum, fish with squash, and sundubu jjigae.
You eat the jeyuk-bokkeum by wrapping it in lettuce and taking it all in one bite.
Don’t fill up on the main dishes, though, because the sides are just as amazing.
An unexpected highlight was the salad I had, which had a black sesame dressing drizzled over it.
The dressing had an almost chocolatey flavor that confused and delighted my taste buds. I also loved the savory pajeon, which is a pancake containing spring onion. The greasy glass noodles called japchae were really nice, as were the fish cakes. I love anything containing seaweed, so I loved the briny seaweed soup called miyeok-guk.
I also enjoyed some fantastic root vegetables, mushrooms, and kimchi.
Galbi Jjim.
South Korea is a land of thousands of gastronomical options that range from traditional to modern.
One of the more modern creations is galbi jjim, a braised beef short rib dish that was invented in Daegu in the 1970s.
Head over to the Galbi Jjim Street in the Dongin-Dong area to try it out.
Along the street, you’ll find a remarkable restaurant called Bongsan Jjimgalbi.
Their ribs are so tender that the meat falls right off the bone. It’s also incredibly juicy and contains a spice that also has a hint of sweetness to it. It makes your tongue and lips tingle in a way I’d never experienced.
The galbi jjim there is the best beef ribs I’ve ever eaten, hands down.
Whether you try it by itself or wrap it in a lettuce leaf, it’s not hard to see why it’s among the Korean dishes you must eat.
One of my favorite spots in Daegu to explore was Seomun Market.
There were quite a few interesting dishes there, but I really want to highlight the hodu-gwaja, which is a ball-shaped pastry made from waffle batter.
Inside is a walnut and generous amount of sweet red bean paste.
While sweets aren’t normally my thing, I can get behind red bean paste.
The paste is smooth and goes really well with the nuttiness of the walnut and the crispy, sweet waffle batter.
You can get 10 hodu-gwaja for just 3,000 won, or a little under $2.50 USD, so it’s a nice, inexpensive snack that you can take with you on the go.
While you’re at Seomun Market, see if you can hunt down the savory pancake called buchu-jeon.
This fantastic pancake is made with chives, leeks, and chilies.
It’s almost entirely made of vegetables, which is evident in its green color, and you can see every ingredient in it.
There’s just enough batter to hold it all together, so there’s almost no filler.
Korean food is always at its best when there’s a bit of spice, and the chilies inside it provide just the right amount.
The chives and leeks were fantastic on their own, but when you combine them with the provided soy-and-onion sauce, it’s downright heavenly! If you love vegetables and pancakes, buchu-jeon is easily one of the Korean dishes you must eat.
While Korean food is often thought of as having just one characteristic, heat, it’s so much more than that.
The sheer variety in the meats alone blew my mind, not to mention all the fresh vegetables that are used in every meal.
Once you add in traditional dishes and more modern and unique creations, you realize that Korean food is just as varied as any other cuisine and that it may just be even tastier than most.
Take a trip to South Korea today to taste it all for yourself.
Check out Gyeongju: Korea’s Ancient Capital-Travel Guide.
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How to Plan a Successful RV Trip

How to Plan a Successful RV Trip.
How to Plan a Successful RV Trip.
Posted: 8/27/20 | August 27th, 2020Since international travel on pause, people have turned to exploring their own backyards.
From the U.
To Canada to England, Europe, and New Zealand, people are getting in cars, campervans, .

And RVs and heading out on road trips

After all, it allows you to social distance while still getting outside!Today, .

I’ve invited my friends Mike and Anne from HoneyTrek to share their RV tips and advice

They’re full-time RVers and will help you get your next RV adventure started easily and on a budget!A couple of years back, the van life craze had everyone curious about rubber-tramping across North America .
Maybe you thought, nah, I prefer my city apartment or jet-setting abroad.
Then COVID-19 hit.
All of a sudden, getting out of Dodge with a house on wheels started to sound really good, didn’t it?There is no doubt that RVing is one of the easiest and safest ways to travel right now.
No crowded planes or questionable hotel rooms required — an RV gives you the freedom to explore and the peace of mind of having your own space .
Over the course of our eight-year “HoneyTrek” we’ve tried virtually every style of travel — backpacking, house-sitting, small-ship cruising, backcountry camping, five-star honeymooning, etc.
— but the day we rented a campervan in , we knew this was our preferred mode of travel.
For the past three years , we’ve been traveling full-time in our 1985 Toyota Sunrader “Buddy the Camper,” from the Baja Peninsula to the Arctic Circle and 47 states in between.
We’ve learned a lot along the way and are excited to share what we think are the most important things to know before setting out on your RV journey.
Here’s a video we just filmed which covers all the basics (or read the post below):  How to Pick the Right Size RV.
For maximum adventure and comfort, we’d recommend a camper around 21 feet long.

We know those big RVs tricked out like a penthouse apartment look tempting

but remember that every foot in length costs mobility.
A shorter rig allows you to:Access rugged terrain.
Fit in a normal parking space, even parallel park.
Avoid length restrictions on some of America’s most beautiful winding roads and ferry rides.
Get better gas mileage (Most rigs get 6–10 MPG.
Ours gets 19.).
Have less stuff to break, which means more time exploring and having fun!.
And, while even shorter 16- to 19-foot-long campervans do have the ultimate mobility, there are a few things you should know before you fall for that adorable Westfalia or stealthy Sprinter.
First, life ain’t so pretty without your own indoor shower and bathroom.
And, while we respect the vanlifers who make do with public restrooms, bucket toilets, and catholes (digging a hole outside when you need to go to the bathroom), let us tell you the virtues of having a flushing loo: privacy, cleanliness, and autonomy.
We can be in a city center or a protected conservation area and conveniently and responsibly stay the night.
In these unprecedented times, it’s more important than ever to be self-sufficient and not rely on shared facilities.
Besides a bathroom, a 19- to 22-foot long RV is big enough to also give you a proper bed and ample storage while still being small enough to explore with wild abandon.
How to Get Power (A.
the Virtues of Solar).

RVs and campers have a house battery to run the lights

water pump, fans, and power electronics.
Here are the various way to keep it charged:Drive a few hours per day.
Pay to plug in at a campground.
Run a generator.
Have solar panels.
Your average road trip will likely give you enough charge from driving, but if you really need power, an RV park is never far away.
If you are looking to slow-cruise the wilderness and lower your environmental impact, solar panels are a must.
The simplest and most affordable option ($70–150 USD) is to get a portable panel and use it whenever you’re stopped in order to charge up the house battery of your RV.
This obviously isn’t as convenient or powerful as an integrated system, but it should be enough to keep your phone and laptop charged.
If you are in this for the long haul, though, you’re going to want to install a solar system.
We bought 300 watts of flexible monocrystalline solar panels, installed them to the roof, and wired them all together with a charge controller, lead-acid battery, and power inverter in about 20 hours — all for $1,200 USD.
If you want the best efficiency and lifespan, spring for a lithium-ion deep cycle battery, like the Relion RB100.
If a DIY electrical project sounds too scary, you can have it professionally installed for $1,000–2,000 USD.
We know that’s is a chunk of change, but investing in solar has allowed us to spend the last three years without having to ever pay for electricity, worry about running out of power, or generating any greenhouse gases.
How to Get Internet.
Your smartphone is your on-the-go router.
It’s important to use a carrier with an extensive national network (AT&T or Verizon) so as to get reception in remote areas (the dream is to be using your laptop from a secluded beach, right?).
We use our Verizon phone as a hotspot for our two laptops, getting 50GB unthrottled per month, plus unlimited calls and texts, for $109 USD.
While that’s a decent amount of data, it’s not a home internet plan through which you can be streaming all day.
If you’ll be on the road for more than a couple weeks, monitor your usage with the GlassWire app and install NetLimiter on your laptop to help ration your data.
Save your big downloads and uploads for free Wi-Fi zones.
We love working at libraries, not just for the internet but for their inspiring spaces, peace and quiet, community offerings, and open invitation to stay all day.
And, when all else fails, McDonald’s and Starbucks have wifi that’s usually strong enough to tap from the comforts of your camper.
How to Find Places to Camp.
Your basic campground typically offers a flat parking spot with a picnic table, fire pit, and shared bathroom for $10–30 USD per night.
If you bump up to $35–80 USD a night.

You’re in RV park territory and will likely get power

water, sewer, and shared amenities like a clubhouse and a pool.
But did you know there are tens of thousands of free campsites scattered around the wilds of the USA.
The federal government has reserved 640 million acres of public lands (national forests, BLM [Bureau of Land Management] land, national conservation areas, etc.) for your enjoyment.
These sites are pretty bare-bones (sometimes it’s just a clearing in the forest) but, since we have a self-contained camper with our own drinking water and bathroom, all we really want is a peaceful spot with a good view.
This style of independent camping has many names: dispersed camping, wild camping, dry camping, freedom camping, and most commonly “boondocking.” We find our favorite boondocking spots via the Ultimate Campgrounds app, which we use to see what sites are nearby.
If we’re striking out on that app, we turn to iOverlander and FreeCampsites.net.
With these apps, we’re able to find great camping on the fly and rarely pay a dime.
That said, there is a time and place for more traditional campgrounds.
They can be a great way to meet other campers, enjoy a few extra services, or stay in the heart of a national park.
ReserveAmerica.com is the main campground portal (290,000 listings!) for public (national and state parks) and private campgrounds.
HipCamp.com also has extensive offerings and is our favorite for unique sites on private land — it’s like the of camping.
KOA has tons of options too.
If you know there is a certain place you want to be on a specific night, you can book in advance.
But also just don’t be afraid to go with the flow — there is always a beautiful boondocking spot somewhere.
Urban Boondocking.
Speaking of boondocking, it’s not just for the woods.
We have spent countless nights “camping” in the heart of cities, and if you adhere to a few simple rules, you can feel confident doing the same:Obey all street signs and curb markings and keep the meter fed.
If it says “no overnight parking,” take heed.
If there is any ambiguity in the signage (street cleaning conflicts, permit parking, etc.), find another spot.
Don’t overstay your welcome.
We usually limit our time in the same parking spot to two nights.
Don’t draw attention to yourself with excessive lights, music, noise, etc.

Even though our 1980s RV is far from a stealth camper

we have slept in over 50 cities and never been asked to “move along.”.
Be smart, be respectful, and the world is your campground.
How to Save Money on Gas.
We know gas is only around $2 USD/gallon at the moment, but when it comes to your long-term travel budget, every bit counts.
Here are some tips to save at the pump:Get the GasBuddy app.
It allows you to see the gas prices along your route, often saving upwards of 50 cents per gallon, particularly if you can wait to cross a state line or get farther off the highway.
Get yourself a Discover card and/or Chase Freedom Unlimited card; certain months of the year, they offer 5% off your fill-up.
Sign up for gas station rewards programs, especially Shell and Pilot, which give 3–5 cents off per gallon.
Keep your tires inflated at the recommended PSI, and drive under 55mph.
In addition to the gas savings, it’s safer and prolongs the life of your rig.
How to Find the Back Roads.
Set your GPS to “avoid highways” and you’ll discover just how beautiful this country can be.
Interstates have blazed straight lines across the nation but the old network of roads, working with the contours of the land and connecting historic towns, still exists.
The best routes are America’s Byways, a collection of 150 distinct and diverse roads protected by the Department of Transportation for their natural or cultural value.
Even better than that website (because you can’t rely on back roads’ cell reception) is a hard copy of the National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways.
It maps out the prettiest drives in every state, with something to marvel at even in “the flyover states.” We refer to it every time we start a big drive and discover interesting landmarks, quirky museums, scenic viewpoints, quintessential eateries, and short hikes, which always improves the ride.
Take Glamping Breaks.
To make sure you don’t burn out on small-space, off-grid living, treat yourself to the occasional glamping getaway.
Creative outdoor accommodations with a plush bed, hot shower, and friendly host always remind us how much we love the woods.
When we get to a glamp camp, we can walk away from our normal responsibilities (setting up camp, cooking for ourselves, and DIY everything) and truly relax.
A gorgeous treehouse, dome, yurt, or safari tent has been designed with your enjoyment in mind, and if you need anything, your host is at the ready.
A little pampering and fresh take on the outdoors will give you the energy to keep on truckin’.
To find fabulous getaways along your route, check out our glamping book, Comfortably Wild: The Best Glamping Destinations in North America.
How to Protect Yourself and Your Ride.
You’ll be exploring remote areas, going down rough roads, and having wild adventures (get excited!).
Consider these three forms of protection and you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way:RV insurance – While this is specialty car insurance, the good news is it can be cheaper than insuring a sedan (we pay $375 USD a year for our Progressive plan).
Travel insurance – While most people think of travel insurance for big international trips, it usually kicks in 100 miles from your house, covering health emergencies, trip delays, canceled reservations (from campgrounds to river rafting excursions), and a variety of other snafus.
Rather than getting insurance every time we hit the road, we use the Allianz All Trips Premier Plan so we’re automatically covered wherever we go throughout the year.

Roadside assistance – Good ol’ AAA does have RV plans

but we like that Good Sam is designed specifically for RVers and doesn’t charge a premium for it.

An annual membership covers towing RVs of all sizes

tire blowouts, running out of gas, locking your keys in your vehicle, plus lots of other benefits and travel discounts.
As full-timers.

We’re incredibly passionate about RVing and lot to share road trip itineraries

advice about buying a vintage camper, and lessons learned from three years on the road.

While there is a lot to know about RV travel

renting a camper is a safe and easy way to get started.

And there is a wonderful RV and #vanlife community online that will be happy to help too

Mike and Anne Howard left on their honeymoon in January 2012 and never came home.
They created HoneyTrek.com to chronicle their journey across all seven continents and help people realize their travel dreams.
They are the authors of National Geographic’s bestselling book, Ultimate Journeys for Two, and the first-ever book on glamping in North America, Comfortably Wild.
Book Your Trip to the USA: Logistical Tips and Tricks.
Book Your Flight Find a cheap flight by using or.
They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with.
If you want to stay elsewhere, use as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations.
It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong.
I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past.
I’ve been using for ten years.
My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are: (for everyone below 70).
(for those over 70).
(for additional repatriation coverage).
Looking for the best companies to save money with.
Check out my for the best companies to use when you travel.
I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!Need an affordable RV for your road trip.

RVshare lets you rent RVs from private individuals all around the country

saving you tons of money in the process.
It’s like Airbnb for RVs, making roads trips fun and affordable!Want More Information on traveling the United States.
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide to the US for even more tips on how to plan your visit.
Published: August 27, 2020Want to share your tips and advice.
Got questions.
Visit the to ask questions, get answers, meet people, and share your tips.
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Switzerland On A Budget: 7 Tips To Plan Your Trip.
How to Road Trip Across the United States on $50 a Day.
There are 3 Comments September 1, 2020 at 6:06 amInteresting article and feels with longing for the open road.
I don’t own an RV which is really a good thing considering that I can’t drive.
This is making me wish that I could.
Mike & Anne Howard September 1, 2020 at 11:24 amWe’re so happy we could share our best RV tips with the adventurous audience at Nomadic Matt.
If anyone has any questions for us, just reach out to @HoneyTrek.
Raymond September 4, 2020 at 1:33 pmJust awesome article, when I was reading the article I felt that I am in a RV trip.
I wish I had a RV.
So that I can also make a RV trip like you.
thanks for sharing your trip story.
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