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  1. Default What Roadtrip Mistakes Have You Made?

    Help me learn from your mistakes! What mistakes, errors, miscalculations...etc have you made while road-tripping? Any valuable lessons you can share?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I've been roadtripping for many, many years -- back to the Dark Ages. Among some of my more memorable errors:

    1) Trying to drive too far in one day. One time, I planned a 575 mile day which too quickly became 702 miles. Never again. Best days are 500-550 miles unless on 2-lane roads or towing an RV, or trying to sightsee. That would be far less mileage.

    2) Driving back from college with three friends, going 1800 miles by rotating drivers and NO overnight stops. We did 2-hour shifts behind the wheel. Driver became shotgun rider/navigator, and anyone in the backseat was supposed to sleep. It was not a restful sleep, and I was probably a very tired 18 year old inexperienced driver at the time. Never again.

    3) Needed to do a 600 mile run which included 150 miles on a 2-lane road. No, should not have taken that 2-lane. It would have been better on the freeway, even though about 10 miles longer, than the slowness of the 2-lane.

    4) Miscalculated mileage more times than I can count. This was in the days before Google Maps, Mapquest, etc., and required one to add every little piece of highway mileage shown on the map. Inevitably, I would miss enough that would make us drive more miles than we expected.

    5) Intending to arrive a bit later of an evening at a place and trying to find a motel on the fly. When you are going to be later than the dinner hour, get reservations somewhere. With today's Internet, it's easier than ever to get one at a decent place, even on the fly.

    6) Not thinking about weekends and resort/beach areas, and thinking we could find lodging with a coupon. Nope. Expensive mistake!

    7) When first traveling with children, we did not realize the prices of some things at convenience stores, restaurants, etc. We learned how valuable a cooler full of juice and water, and a bag of snacks and easy breakfast foods, was when traveling with kids. Now it's just an ingrained habit, and a good one, since you can keep to healthier stuff that way.

    8) The value of a good road service plan, whether it's AAA or Good Sam (when in an RV).

    9) Always have a paper map or road atlas with you. You never know when it will come in handy, even if you think "I know my way around".

    I'm sure I will think of far more.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Ft. Collins, CO.


    When I was in my late teens my father set me up with the adventure of taking an empty glider trailer from Virginia to Massachusetts to collect a repaired sailplane and return it to Virginia.
    On the way north with the empty trailer I was hearing a non-standard noise from the trailer. I pulled off the road to check for problems and found that the nut that held the hitch ball in place was 1 turn from falling off. I cinched it back up with a really big grunt and it was fine the rest of the trip.

    Lesson- check on things that seem abnormal. Check earlier rather than later.

    At a transitional point in my life I set out on a long motorcycle trip. From Virginia in April (warm days, dogwood in bloom) I headed West. I discovered around West Virginia that it wasn't summer yet. I got snowed on twice in New Mexico. I was cold most of the time and wore my rain gear a lot for warmth.

    Lesson- Check the weather and learn about it. (I'd just finished 5 years in submarines and was pretty unfamiliar with "weather")

  4. Default

    Great tips! I will certainly look into an atlas; I'm admittedly at the age where I've pretty much always had a GPS or Google Maps, so I need to refresh my skills :) My only experience with a real map was as a kid my dad showing on the map what road we were on and I'd follow along with the exits!

    A cooler also seems good! A stop at a rest stop/gas station might be fine on a long one day trip, but on a two week trip with lots of driving, it seems quite pricey to always be stopping at those places!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Ongoing learning.

    Far too many to recall, or list here.

    However, I do know that each was a lesson. There's nothing like learning from your own mistakes.


  6. Default


    Two years ago, I was getting ready for a 500 mile drive in the morning. It had been a very busy week at work with ten hour days. I was physically and mentally exhausted, and just didn't get around to packing ahead of time as I usually do, so now I was staying up several hours later than usual, getting everything ready and packing the car late into the night.

    After about five hours sleep, I got up and we headed down the road at 6 am. Everything seemed fine for the first 90 minutes, then around 7:30 am we headed into a long construction zone.

    The expressway narrowed to two lanes, bordered on each side by huge concrete barriers. It became a monotonous drive, driving through this "tunnel".

    Suddenly, I felt extreme fatigue overcome me. It was like someone had turned on a switch. This was serious. I checked my GPS and saw that the next rest area was only seven miles ahead. I was going to get off there. I didn't say anything to my brother, who was my only passenger; after all, it was only 5 minutes away. He was asleep; why wake him? That 5 minutes turned out to be 4 minutes too many.

    The next thing I knew, there was a loud BANG and a violent jolt. I had fallen asleep and drifted into the concrete barrier on the right. It did what it was designed to do and shoved the car back onto the roadway. Those barriers saved our lives. We were lucky. Fifteen miles later, the construction ended and there were no more barriers on the right, just a steep hill down to a ditch.

    I should have slept in. Who would have thought that you could fall asleep at the wheel only 90 minutes into your trip, in broad daylight?

    Everyone knows that you should take frequent breaks and avoid driving too many miles in a day. After all, that's why people fall asleep at the wheel, right? But fatigue can hit you long before you ever reach that point.

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