A while ago I posted part 1 of my road trippin’ guide and it’s time to follow up with part 2 – After you’ve booked.
So you’ve got a pretty certain route, or at least a start & end point in mind, and you’ve devised your list of must see places. You might even have booked some of your hotels.
While it might be most fun to think about playlists, food stops and all the amazing waypoints you’ll pass, it’s actually worth doing a bit of research about the routes, roads and areas you’ll be passing through. Specifically check out outer-city areas where you might be able to find less congested routes and scenic roads instead of highways. Like last time, forums are particularly good for this because locals are super friendly with their help. From this information I’d suggest making a comprehensive route, and finding alternatives to each leg just in case. It’s a big task but its also better than getting lost and panicked. This is also a great time to order a Satnav for your travel zone and learn how it works.
It’s also a really good idea to learn some of the road rules and common courtesies of the places you’re visiting. For an interstate USA road trip this means researching each state’s individual road laws, speed limits, license requirements etc. You want to know all about this before you get behind the wheel, not after you’ve been pulled over. Make a cheat sheet so you can revise it on the flight.
Another very important but easy-to-forget factor is car parking. It can get expensive in hotels which operate daily charges, and unsafe to leave cars in unmanned street spaces. It’s not worth the risk, so try to book hotels with free parking, especially in big cities – they’re easier to find than you think. If that fails, most cities have long stay car parking that you can book online in advance for a reasonable cost.
For hotels it’s also worth leaving a few nights un-booked if there’s nothing major happening in a city/town. Sometimes you get good late rates, but this is all dependent on how confident you feel in your travel and what events are happening at the time. Don’t chance it if there’s a festival or big sporting event! Been there, suffered that.
Now it’s time for some of the fun stuff. Get out that list of places you have to see. Sign up for the mailing lists of all the attractions you don’t want to miss – NASA, Disney, Museums, Festivals and everything in between. Sign up for the tourist centre emails too and keep reading them. Eventually ticket offers will come up and this is a great chance to pre-book some of your visits and most deals don’t require you to specify an exact visit date. It’s also a good plan to spread costs and save time at the attraction by pre-booking and printing tickets in the weeks/months running up to your trip. You’ll often get a good advanced price and avoid queueing at the box office.
Think about packing. I’m going to dedicate a full post to this nearer to departure but it’s definitely worth thinking about. Whilst its easy to support bringing huge cases for a 2 week one-centre holiday, a road trip Is totally different. For one, your car boot may be restricted and you really don’t want to drive with a case on your back seat. Secondly, do you really want to be hauling around 2 huge trunks frequently? The answer is no, so think ahead and pack smart and versatile.
The rest is pretty common sense. Start preparing currency, visas, hotel arrangements. Find someone to water your plants.
Daydream with increasing ferocity and prepare yourself for the time of your life.
Stay tuned for the next RoadTrippin guide which is coming super soon!