The road trip is one of North America's grand traditions — a chance to travel and see things from ground level and often at inexpensive cost. Here, five tips to beat the "are we there yet?" blues.
The road trip is one of North America's grand traditions -- a chance to travel and see things from ground level and often at inexpensive cost.
But there's the opposite tradition: the "are we there yet" blues that some of associate with family vacations in the past. Here are our top five tips to make your road trip a fantastic experience.
Know your style
This may sound basic, but how many of us have wanted to take the time to meander and poke around while on the road with someone who had every bathroom break timed and every route planned to cover the most ground? Spend a bit of time considering your "road trip personality" -- are you the kind of person who wants to see all the grand events, or someone who prefers to eke out the small surprises on the back roads? Do you want to splurge on some luxurious accommodation along with the time to enjoy it, or would you rather experience the family-owned strip motel? Do you prefer to look at scenery out the window, or park and hike into the park?
Once you have a handle on your own style be sure to see how it matches with your fellow travellers.
Pick a purpose; stay flexible
"Road trip" can be all too vague -- and yet, often we just mark the time on our calendar and then set off. Is the road trip about reconnecting with family and friends along the way, following a historical route, reliving past trips, or visiting landmark areas? Some of the most successful road trips can involve following a passion -- visiting every quilt store and textile museum in the area, or paying homage to marine history. Whatever it is, be sure it's clear in mind before you go.
Of course there's the flip side -- don't let your road trip get so focused that you lose the chance for spontaneity. The great thing about a ground level trip in your own car is that you can follow the moment -- and if that means abandoning your plans to visit a fort in order to follow some local kids to the best swimming and ice cream in town, go for it.
Consult expert resources
Before you leave, take the time to check out websites and tourist guides for the areas you plan to visit. You can also use forums or communities on the Internet to ask people living in the area to point you to sites of interest, favourite restaurants, or small attractions you might otherwise miss. Calling the local board of trade or commerce can also give you some ideas -- especially if you spend a bit of time asking the person who answers the phone what he or she would recommend.
Once in a location, don't be shy -- ask hotel and B&B owners, restaurant staff, or just interesting looking locals what they think you should see. Even if you don't agree you'll get more insight into the area than you otherwise would -- and most people love to talk about what they like most about their home town.
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