Greetings & Welcome!
Sounds like you’re soon to embark on a grand adventure! You’ll meet far more people in actual campgrounds than elsewhere, but this early in the year, most campgrounds are likely to be closed.
You don’t really need to plan your route except for road conditions. You can always google coming towns to find their attractions and decide where you want to go next. A nice leisurely way of travel is to travel no more than about 2 hours at a time, and stay for a couple of days. Avoid rush hours.
The things that do need planning are money first and formost, followed by temperature control and personal hygiene. The cold can kill, and insulation doesn’t help enough without HEAT. Your stove might be sufficient for heat while you’re awake, but stoves and unvented propane heaters are not safe to run over night while you sleep. For this reason, I use wick type kerosene heaters, cookers, and lights, because with ventilation they can be run safely all night. They’re also cheaper in the long run.
Public toilets and showers are the pits, and it’s easy and cheap enough to have your own. A toilet at the very least.
You’ll want enough supplies. food, water, heating/cooking fuel, to last for at least a week, because it’s easy to get snowed in for that long or longer.
Don’t trust GPS, stick to main roads. If you break down or get stuck and there’s no cell phone signal, you want to be somewhere where somebody can find you and help. Get a paper map for a backup, and stay in close contact with your family so they know where to start searching for you if necessary.
SAFETY is a very serious concern, especially when the weather can kill you. You need to be prepared to survive the cold without anything that requires power. Electric heaters only work above like 50f degrees. They don’t put out enough heat to keep you comfortable in anything below that. Hand warmers are a great thing to have, especially the Zippo refillable type ones. It’s eassy to run out of disposables, and they can get expensive. A single kerosene lamp won’t keep your rig warm, but they do work for hand warmers, and some mellow light for the long nights.
I have 12v heating/cooling blankets & seat cushions that I LOVE, but I wouldn’t recommend them unless you have a house battery set up, because they could drain your starting battery and leave you stranded.
Get a reliable mechanic to do a FULL inspection on your van before departure. Check your spare tire, and make sure you have a jack and a lug wrench and know how to use them. I also carry a can of fix-a-flat, and a 12v tire inflator. Learn how to check and fill your oil and transmission, and other fluids including the radiator, power steering, and brake fluids. Carry extra of all these so you can top them off if the need arises. Check them all every time you gas up.
Make sure you have some sort of towing insurance, as well as cell phone service, and make sure they’re good in both the US and Canada. Make sure you have the necessary id and paperwork to get across the border, AND BACK!
Do you have an emergency fund large enough to replace everything, or at least get you back home? What about money? Jobs on the road can be difficult or impossible to find. You might need some sort of work visa to be able to work legally in the US. The time to figure all this stuff out is before you leave home. Costs tend to run 2-5 times higher than expected, be prepared for that. Be aware that lot’s of people try to take advantage of both girls and tourists. You need to be street smart, and if something doesn’t feel right, MOVE! Always be prepared to jump in the drivers seat and leave at a moments notice.
It generally isn’t that bad, but you NEED to be prepared for the worst and be constantly vigilant of your surroundings at all times. Always park where you can’t be blocked in. Pepper spray and bear spray work, but may be illegal in some areas. I keep a spray bottle of vinegar around for cleaning, it’s legal everywhere, but if you spray it in somebody’s face it will at least temporarily blind them so you can escape. Even window cleaner or soapy water is better than nothing if the need arises. Always go for their eyes first. If they can’t see, you have a distinct advantage. A flashlight with a strobe feature can really disorient somebody at night.
Good Luck, keep us posted, and we’re here to answer any questions that arise.
"I arrived to a campsite full of trash, but I left it sparkling clean." ~ CampHappy