When I was growing up as a child, there was nothing I looked forward to more than road tripping to discover new and exciting travel places. In those days, domestic airfares were extremely expensive and it was not an option to fly the whole family. We went in the family car with our parents and/or our grandparents. And thus began my love of a great road trip! So I am very excited to share our planning for our unique American road trip.
Since those early days, I have tended to fly to more places. But I must tell you all of the glamor of flying has totally disappeared.
I often yearn for that simpler time and being able to pack up the car with whatever you like and just go.
There are so many advantages to traveling by car. Consider these:
- pack as many bags as you wish and as heavy as you need without paying a fortune to check your bags;
- when you leave home, the trip starts. No airport-style security and no queues wasting 3 hours of my valuable time;
- bring as much water as you like without being forced to empty it first;
- stop to eat whenever you feel like it and feel free to bring as much food as you like;
- it’s a great opportunity to talk and hang out with your partner/spouse/children; and
- You have a car at your destination!
And where is the best place to road trip? Well the USA of course. Read on to find out why and how you can get the most out of your trip.
Why the USA is a Great Place to Road Trip
As a visitor to the USA, I am constantly amazed at how good the United States road system actually is. There is a grid network of freeways criss-crossing the entire US, making it very simple for not just Americans but tourists as well, to use a car as the primary transport option. Generous speed limits also make for quick trips and/or covering large distances in a short timeframe.
As an aside, the US Interstate Highway System has just celebrated its href=”https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/interstate/history.cfm” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>50th anniversary.
This freeway network, coupled with many, great places to visit and the convenience of being able to easily eat and accommodate yourself means that, for me at least, the American road trip is a great option.
10 Tips to Enjoy your American Road Trip
Some of these hints might be a bit old-fashioned but will ensure you maximize the pleasures of road tripping.
Here are some helpful hints for you:
- Buy a paper copy of a road atlas and keep it in the car. Yes, a little old fashioned, but the road atlas is worth its weight in gold. You can easily get an overview of where you have been and where you are going rather than looking at a 4 inch square screen on your navigation system. It is also much easier to plan a route on paper. Use the in-car navigation (or your phone) to find specific addresses and navigation.
- Will your car cope with a long trip? Research your trip before you leave. Where are you going? Will your car handle the expected conditions? A winter trip to Colorado for skiing might be better in a SUV or car with AWD (all wheel drive) or 4WD, rather than a standard sedan. Have your car checked and serviced before you leave home.
- Carry plenty of water and snacks. This helps keep you on the move so you are not continually stopping. You can also eat healthier food.
- Have music options. We have playlists for long road trips created over the years and it just adds to the fun. Listening to local radio is also handy to find out what is happening locally. And if your car has satellite radio you can listen to the same station across the entire country!
- What is the purpose or theme of your road trip? Are you traveling the entire length of Route 66 or maybe Interstate 80 from San Francisco to New York? Are you undertaking a winter’s skiing trip in the Rocky Mountains? Are you visiting relatives interstate and you are looking to visit places along the way? Put together a theme and have some fun with this!
- Keep your luggage secure and out of sight. We always place our luggage in the trunk or underneath the cover if in a hatchback, so it is totally invisible to passers-by. There is nothing worse than having all your stuff “on display”! That is just a good way to have your car broken into and your valuables stolen.
- Keep a day pack in the car. We fill our pack with our camera, a jacket, water containers and valuables so we can quickly take a hike or have lunch without having to dig around in the back of your trunk. Our back seat is clear when the car is parked.
- One of the pleasures of a longer road trip is the ability to “switch off” from the world, especially in more remote areas. Put together a list of topics for “conversation starters” and get to know your road trip companions. Why not turn off your phone? It is liberating. How about playing a driving game in the car?
- Share the Drive. It’s tempting if you love your car to drive the whole time. However, statistics prove it is safer to share the driving around. A driver change and a stop every 2 hours to stretch your legs is a good idea.
- Are you a planner or more go by the seat of your pants type? If you need accommodation are you going to pre-book or go with the flow? You probably should have a plan.
These are my Top 10 Tips for a memorable, road trip. What about you? Do you have any tips? Feel free to comment below.
Our American Road Trip
We put this post together as we started planning our own unique American Road Trip.
With winter weather likely we have our vehicle, a 2017 KIA Sportage SX AWD. Nothing like a solid and reliable car, should we experience any winter conditions.
It’s comfortable, gets great gas mileage and has a terrific stereo system (complete with satellite radio) and in-car navigation to help us find our way!
We are commencing our American Road Trip and we will bring you all of the travel and food highlights through posts over the next 2 months. Stay tuned!
As a postscript, since writing this post, we have since completed our Great American Road Trip from Cincinnati traveling through Louisville, KY and its bourbon distilleries, Charleston, SC and its plantations and Savannah, GA including its ghostly side.
In celebration of our trip, here is our Great American Roadtrip Dinner Party in honor of all the fabulous food, restaurants and people in the American South.
Thanks to Drive Shop and KIA, for support on our road trip. Opinions, as always, are our own..