RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip


The Little Road Trip Handbook , by Erin McHugh


"The American Road Trip isn't just a pastime, it's a birthright…" - The Little Road Trip Handbook

Nostalgia is back in full force in The Little Road Trip Handbook, but with modern day twists. From the old VW bus on the cover to the discussion of Blackberries (banished except for emergencies) and iPods (totally OK and necessary for road trip tunes), this book celebrates the all-American fun of preparing for and taking a road trip.

The author covers the gamut from the "pre-ignition check" and "road rules" to a smattering of suggested routes. I found the format and composition of the book to be half the fun. It's a handy 5" by 7" size with coated pages - your last McDonald's meal can't do any damage! The book is liberally illustrated with vintage road trip images, up-to-the-minute hi-tech gadgets, and a variety of other photos from voodoo dolls to AK-47s. Combined with clever, breezy wisdom and fun facts, there is something for everyone to love about this book.

The author clearly has her tongue planted firmly in her check as she dispenses gems such as "Without Road Music there is no Road Trip" (Duh!) or this serious piece of advice: "Choose your fellow Trippers well: you don't want any of them to become a roadside hazard." (Yeah!) I found her style endearing in a "Mom told you so" kind of way.

The Little Road Trip Handbook covers most of the basic road trip topics: choosing your companions, sharing expenses, deciding what to see, games, tunes, packing, road cars, and prepping to go. McHugh approaches every topic with a "you knew this, right?" sort of mentality. She marches through the fundamentals without much concrete detail, but rather with an "I want to go right now" attitude. As someone who spent a year vagabonding around the lower 48 states, I am probably more obsessed with planning than the average road tripper. While I'm not sure there is enough detail in this book to make a long road trip happen, it offers inspiration, basic tips, and a "hit the road" attitude that is both helpful and motivating for those contemplating typical vacation-length journeys.

One of the most engaging sections of The Little Road Trip Handbook is "Chapter 14 - Foolish Laws from the 50 States." Some of the laws still on the books are hilarious. For instance, who knew that "howling at women within the city limits is forbidden" in Mobile, Alabama, or that in Pennsylvania "ministers are forbidden from performing marriages when either the bride or groom is drunk?" (Too bad Britney Spears wasn't in Pennsylvania a few years ago!) Even I - the veteran road tripper - learned something about my home state: Oregon has the only state flag that's different on both sides.

If you are looking for something fun to read with generous doses of new and old road tripping advice and lore, order up your copy of The Little Road Trip Handbook. Then get ready to sit back and enjoy the ride!

Carol White
6/5/09

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