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  1. Default New England solo road trip - Need your advices

    Hi,

    I will have a 3 wks travel to New England in 2-25 Oct for my photography and visiting friends in Boston. We will travel to Martha Vineyard and Provincetown for weekend, then I plan a solo road trip for 10-11 days as below

    Destination

    D1. Portsmouth & Portland
    2. Maine - Acadia
    3. Acadia 1.5
    4. Conway - White Mountains
    5+6. White Mountains
    7.Vermont - Hanover, Woodstocks Scenic road 100
    8.Vermont - Woodstocks & Grafton
    9. Concord - Boston
    10+11. Newport RI (and back up) - JFK


    I am from Vietnam, driving daily to work. I will arrive in JFK, booked a car via Hotwire then driving to Boston. When back to JFK, will fly to Chicago for 4-5 days and come back Boston to say goodbye before going home.

    Iíve not been in US before, then pls advise whether is possible to follow this itinerary. And pls give me your advices on route as I only have navigation but donít have any experiences on this.

    Some of my concerns:

    1. Is Google Maps good enough to follow? Do I need a Garmin?
    2. I love small towns and photography. Do I need to book motels? I want flexible travel then can I just drive and find somewhere to sleep. Understood that Oct is peak time for fall foilage.
    3. My destinations were chose based on Google, is good enough to take photos?

    Thanks
    Jamie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Some Generalizations

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Traveling New England in the Fall is about as scenic and interesting a RoadTrip as there is in the world, let alone America. You've got plenty of time for the Northern New England portion (although you could always make good use of more) and your itinerary looks good, so I'm just going to give you a few general hints on what you might want to consider to make the trip even better.

    First, I note that you have no stated plans to go into New York City for a visit. In that case, I'd suggest that you not drive thrugh it at all. Instead, head east from JFK out to the very northeastern tip of Long Island and take the ferry from Orient Point to New London and continue up to Cape Cod from there. Then when you go out to Martha's Vineyard, leave your car on the mainland. It's expensive to ferry across and there are limited driving opportunities on the island anyway.

    Secondly, you really need to come to grips with how far Acadia National Park is from everything else on your New England Tour. It will cost you nearly a full day to get there from the Portsmouth/Portland area and another full day to get from Acadia to the White Mountains. While Acadia is beautiful, so is the rest of New England and the Maine coast just northeast of Portland. I just think your time could be better spent seeing more of the places that are closer together and require less driving to get to.

    Next, there's the business of whether to make reservations or not. If this were any other time of year, I'd tell you to just travel as you would and find a place to stay each night wherever you ended up. But not northern New England in October. You are absolutely going to need reservations or else you are going to find yourself picking from whatever is left over, or worse, finding no place at all. Those few weeks are when many innkeepers make their income for the year. Prices will be high and 'No Vacancy' signs will be everywhere. Shop and book now. Working in your favor is that with the exception of Acadia as noted previously, there are any number of things to do in each of the other areas you plan to visit so that you can find a good spot or two near, say, Conway and Montpelier and do day trips from those locationsw without having to find a new place to stay each night.

    As for GPS or on-line maps, I'd strongly suggest neither. Instead get a good set of paper maps and study them before starting your trip and again before setting out each day. Know the towns you want to visit and the roads you want to travel, and YOU be in charge of where you're going - not some silicon chip.

    Finally, there simply are (almost) no non-scenic roads in this area of the country at this time of year. You will find picturesque towns, stunning seascapes, and breathtaking colorful vistas almost everywhere you look. The only thing to tae care of is to bring plenty of film or an extra memory card or two.

    AZBuck

  3. Default

    Thanks AZBuck, I update routes as below

    D1. Portsmouth & Portland

    2. Maine - Acadia (sleep in Bar Habor)

    3+4. Acadia

    5+6+7. Conway - White Mountains (North Conway)

    8.Vermont - Montpelier , Stowe (Montpelier or Hanover?)

    9.Vermont - Hanover, Woodstocks

    10.Vermont - Woodstocks & Grafton

    11. Long Islands & JFK.

    But why it takes so long from Acadia to North Conway? Google tells me it take abt 4-5 hrs driving (same from Portland to Acadia). Although I've extend driving for each stops but dont know the reasons.

    And for the paper maps, is it easy to buy? I'm just curious how many ppl are not using Google Maps today lol

    Thanks
    Jamie

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Reality

    If you read through enough of the responses on these forums, you will find several recurring themes. One of the most frequently repeated of those is that the estimates for driving time that you get from computer software bear no resemblance whatsoever to what it really takes to drive those distances. That's because of the totally unrealistic assumption that the software makes: That you'll be able to drive at or above the speed limit every minute of every hour that you're on the road. That you will never have to slow down for traffic, construction, or even a red light. That you'll never have to stop for gas. That you'll never have to go to the bathroom. And that you can drive for hour after hour with no rest or any break at all from driving. None of those assumptions are true.

    I have driven US-1 between Portland and Acadia in the Fall and you will be lucky to ever get to the speed limit, even on the 'open' road. Remember, the roads you'll be on are mostly two lanes with limited passing opportunities. Traffic will be heavy throughout 'leaf-peeping' season. In towns such as Bath, Damariscotta, Waldoboro, Rockland, Rockport, Camden, Belfast, Bucksport, and Ellsworth you will slow to a crawl.

    Much of the same reasoning goes into using paper maps rather than relying on software or GPS. You need to have situational awareness if you are going to be a competent driver. If all you do is follow software's advice, how will you know when that software is wrong? And it is OFTEN wrong. If you don't know where you're going, will you take the time to even question the software while you're driving? Will you then take your eyes off the road? You need to know where you're going before you get in the car in the morning and that, to me, means planning it all out the night before with a good paper map that shows you ALL the roads and ALL the towns on the way so that you have a good synoptic view of the drive ahead of you. Paper maps are readily available from AAA (free if you're a member), at many state welcome centers or by writing to the state tourist office ahead of time, and as bound atlases at big box or discount stores near you.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Paper maps.

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Paper maps are readily available from AAA (free if you're a member), at many state welcome centers or by writing to the state tourist office ahead of time, and as bound atlases at big box or discount stores near you.
    Jamie, if you have an automobile club in Vietnam, and if you are a member, ask them if they have a reciprocal arrangement with the AAA in the US. If they do, bring your membership with you, and you will get free maps from AAA.

    However, if you are not, or if they do not have a reciprocal arrangement, then you can still get maps at AAA (they are among the best) for less than $5 each. From my experience very few tourism offices will send maps overseas.

    What would be better is to get yourself a Rand McNally Road Atlas from the RTA store - at the bottom of this page. If you order it today, you will have it in a week or two. The Rand McNally is the most used road atlas in the US and quite detailed. That will enable you to study the maps before you go, and see just how much more information they have compared with computer programs. Paper maps are invaluable during the planning stage, and essential when on the road.

    Many of us have been victims of the gps or google sending us down the wrong road / the wrong way down a one way road / or (as in my case) down an off ramp on to the freeway. Be sure you follow the advice above.

    Lifey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    I would definitely book reservations. About 3 years ago, we included a bit of New England in our trip in July and about stranded ourselves. We had booked the Acadia area, but had not thought to book something in the Wells-Portland area. We did get a place, but we paid a high price for it. Ouch!

    It took us about 5 or 6 hours to make the trip from Portland out to Acadia. That included a stop for lunch at Bucksport, I believe. We thought it was worthwhile in the summer, but it should be absolutely beautiful with all the color changes in the trees in the fall. We only took a day for Acadia, but we didn't do any hikes (except to the top of the "mountain" there, which was a short walk from the parking lot). We also drove to the Bass Harbor area of the park.

    We stayed in a cabin just outside of Mount Desert Island, in Trenton, at Isleview Motel and Cabins. It was reasonably priced, they offered barbecue grills outside as well as picnic tables so you could do your own lobster and other seafood without smelling up the cabins, and it was clean. The folks that ran it were friendly and professional. The not-so-good part, if I recall correctly: It was SMALL.


    Donna

  7. #7

    Default

    After coming off a 3 month roadtrip, I found that Google Maps were good for: construction alerts, major roads, and major towns. That was about it.
    I did try to use it for turn by turn directions once I was in town. But found that I frequently had to ignore the route chosen. Google Maps does not always indicate the one-way grids, or the one-way detours.
    It was good as a reference. But needed to use my judgment frequently on whether to take it.

    Point: In Kansas, the route for Google Maps was I-70. AFTER my 4th construction stop, I called my friend in the area, and she redirected me to Hwy 24. Using my paper map (google maps kept redirecting me back to I-70), I was able to reach her home with no further problems or construction stops.

    Paper maps: Found at AAA store. State Visitor Center. City Visitor Center.
    Write to the Visitor Centers of the cities you want to photograph, and they will mail you a free map.
    When I stopped at the visitor centers, ALL of the people were very helpful in marking routes to where I wanted to go, and to suggest further places to investigate.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Not really.

    Quote Originally Posted by justmemedia View Post
    Write to the Visitor Centers of the cities you want to photograph, and they will mail you a free map.
    As mentioned above, they will mail to a US address, but never have I found one which will actually mail overseas. The OP is in Vietnam.

    Lifey

  9. #9

    Default

    Oops missed that.

  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    As mentioned above, they will mail to a US address, but never have I found one which will actually mail overseas. The OP is in Vietnam.

    Lifey
    Thank you all for your supports!

    Hi Lifey,

    I can arrange the posts to my friend add in Boston, I will go day trips with them before beginning my solo trip. I am a bit confuse how and where I should address my email/post i.e. I want to go Portland/Montpelier or small towns Stowe/Woodstocks.

    You told me abt Rand McNally maps and I am just wondering whether I need to this map or just the normal maps (?) which I can buy at convenient stores (?). I am just taking the view for an easy-to-find one. I see Rand McNally maps on Amazon but they don't ship to VN, if it is a must, I have to ask my friends for delivery.

    Thanks.
    Jamie

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