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  1. Default What to do in road trip?

    Hello Friends! I have done few road trips before just by following GPS and without taking any detour. Now, I want to experience the Great American Roadtrip, but i'm curious to know that, what road trippers normally do during the road trip. There are just too many basic questions in my mind:

    Should I just keep driving to a far destination? Or, should I be going through the towns close to the Interstates? Or, should I be visiting landmarks on the way to the destination?

    It may sound silly - but I'm really not sure what I should expect out of the road trip. I'm planning to ride with couple of other friends.

    I'm thinking of 9 days of trip starting from Columbus OH towards West, in first week of August.

    I trust the friends of this forum to put some sense in my mind.

    Thank you for taking time to read this post!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default It's All About You

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Just as there is no generic list of "must see" attractions, there is no generic formula for how to take a RoadTrip. At their core, they are about nothing so much as your own ability to design an adventure for yourself that lets you see what you want and do it in a style that suits you. So understand that any advice you get here will be the distilled wisdom of people who have driven millions of miles and have worked out styles and strategies that work for them. They may work for you, they may not, but knowing that they work for at least some people should at least let you know that you have a good foundation to try out and then make adjustments to make future RoadTrips more to your own liking. So.....

    "Should I just keep driving to a far destination?" Only if the destination is all important and you have only the minimal amount of time to reach it safely. There is simply too much between any Point A and Point B to just blithely drive by it all without so much as a look. Not only that, but taking short breaks during a long driving day to get some exercise and refocus your mind makes your driving much more pleasurable than it would be if you simply sat behind the wheel for hour after hour with nothing more then food/fuel/bathroom quick stops.

    "[S]hould I be going through the towns close to the Interstates?" Yes and no. Personally, I like to mix things up - some driving on Interstates when/where I need to cover some miles, some driving on 'local' or 'surface' roads when I want to turn off the cruise control and see some of the country. I almost always go into modestly-sized towns or small cities for meals. The value, choice, and quality is just so much better than at the exit ramp fast food joints, and it offers another chance to get some exercise by walking around the town a bit afterwards.

    "I'm planning to ride with couple of other friends." Like everything else, this has its good an bad points. RoadTrip companions can certainly help with expenses. Having a second person in the car, especially an alert co-pilot/navigator, makes the trip safer. And just having someone to share the experience with can add to the adventure. But companions can also be a source of friction. Remember that you're going to be in pretty much 24/7 contact with any and all companions for the duration of the trip unless you build some 'alone time' into your itinerary. And since RoadTrips are such an exercise in conforming to individual tastes, having multiple people with multiple objectives and styles can lead to disagreements. Before other planning even begins, you and your potential travel buddies should sit down and discuss what it is you want and expect from the trip. A good place to start is with the RoadTrip Compatibility Quiz.

    Finally, a few rules-of-thumb: Do not, under any circumstances, believe the drive time estimates that you will get from software-based mapping routines. They are a total fiction and will just get you into trouble. Instead, work from a few basic truisms. 550 miles is a solid day of driving with no major stops. Trying to do more than that, even with multiple drivers, is unsafe. Generally plan on average speed of about 55 mph on Interstates and 45-50 on good through surface highways once you factor in routine stops (food/fuel/bathroom/exercise). When planning stops, also include any time needed to get to/from the stop from your main travel route. Plan on taking significant time each evening to wind down before going to bed, a solid eight hours of sleep, and significant time to get yourself up, organized and ready to go in the morning. There's lots more, of course, but the taking all of the above into consideration should let you set up a pretty good first RoadTrip that in turn will let you refine your own travel style.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    To add to the great advice that AZBuck gave you:

    Software-based mapping programs (GPS, Mapquest, Google Maps, and more) are great for figuring out approximate mileage, as long as you can get it mapped in the way that YOU want rather than what the program is trying to plan for you. Usually this is done by creating waypoints, or drag and drop. But that's about all they are good for.

    A good road atlas, the kind you can pick up in any big box or book store, is very important. You can see so much more on those maps than you'll ever see on Google Maps or Mapquest. Once you have laid out a basic direction, you can get individual state maps for the places you'll travel -- if you're a member of AAA, they come with your membership. If you're not a member, they let non-members buy them. (I recommend a membership if your car is off-warranty, or did not come with a road assistance plan.)

    My husband and I have our own style of traveling, which is pretty well in set overnights (with or without reservations, depending on many things). Others are more "free birds" in travel style. It took us 2 or 3 trips to get our "real" style, so it comes with experience.

    As for where to eat and sleep, my hubby and I almost always plan on small towns if we can help it, even if they're fairly close to the freeway. Looking at our upcoming trip, I can see that "small town" for overnights is almost completely true. If someone points us to a small cafe with good food, or we happen upon it on our own, that's wonderful! Yes, we'll eat at a chain at times, particularly for breakfast (since we often are on the road before a motel opens their continental breakfast bar), not so much for dinner. Small towns are usually better for overnight motel prices, unless they are in a resort area or near a national park.


  4. Default

    Thank you very much, AZBuck! :) I got a fair idea now and am going to definitely use the quiz page to find common ground with friends. Once we decide the trip plan, I shall reach the friends of this forum for advise/suggestions! Thanks again.

  5. Default

    Thank you, Donna! I have Geico insurance which covers rental as well as road assistance. Not sure if that would cover if we are going to take a bigger van.

    Please advise if I still need to get AAA membership? I honestly don't know if the road assistance of AAA would be better than Geico; the thought of having a flat tire in middle of nowhere is scary.

  6. #6


    A USA map and a Central States map from AAA would help plot out some SWAG parameters for your trip. Next, grab a string, pencil (or sharpy) and thumbtack/pin and draw some arcs based upon the number of miles you'd plan to drive each day. Four hundred miles a day is an easy number to plot (and roughly equivalent to 8 hours driving). This isn't rocket science but with provide some rough ideas on the outer boundaries of a road adventure to be accomplished in a total of 9 days.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you are renting a vehicle, you do not need AAA - the rental company will provide roadside assistance. You should be able to change your own tire.

  8. Default

    Thanks for the suggestion, landmariner!

  9. Default

    Never tried changing tire. But it may be time to learn. :) thanks!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A valuable page.

    If you have not already read it, here is a page which will give you some ideas on the philosophy of a roadtrip. Much food for thought. Share it with your friends.


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