Monday, December 31, 2012

ROAD TRIP 101: On The Road

So now you've planned your trip, and are ready to hit the road. Here are our top ten things to keep in mind on your journey:

1. Road Runner
Speed limits are different in every state, and drop and rise along the road quite unexpectantly. We were told that there generally is a 5mph leeway on the limits, though most cars seem to go at least 10mph over, especially on the interstates. Cruise control is your best friend here, especially when you travel through small towns and the limit drops to a mean 25mph. Our gps was the biggest help with this, as it always displays the speed limit, so even if you miss the sign you'll know. Just don't risk it with the cops around here - they take this stuff very seriously. We saw a cop car pull out of a side street and chase down a speeding motorcyclists in the coastal town of Tampa - just like in the movies. He was going way over the 25mph limit - and when we caught up with them, he was in cuffs on the side of the road.

2. Roll With It
Check your spare tyre before you leave, and that you have the full tyre changing kit. Also, check tyre pressure every few states or so as it can change with altitude and sudden temperature differences.

3. Got A Car?
You'll be paying to park it. Everywhere. Even some hotels charge you to park your car, and if they have a valet service you'll be spending even more bucks tipping the valet! Always check with the hotel before you book as this can add as much as an extra $35 per day to your fee.

4. Paying For Tolls
Don't be surprised to find lots of tolls around big cities, and on some of the interstates. Cash is king at these places. Also, check with your car rental company, or look into getting a toll pass, which let's you drive straight through without queueing up to pay - something that can save you lots of time in the busy season. Watch out when driving into busy cities as well - they often have express lanes, which are fun, fast ways to get straight to your destination, but if you don't have a toll pass can cost you a fine of up to $100!

5. Road Kill
We saw road kill everywhere. Keep your eyes open, even on the big interstates. In New England there's moose; all along the East coast, and the Mid-west there are deer. In the desert there are horses and cows. And everywhere, everywhere there are raccoons, skunks, squirrels, buzzards and possums. Jay, our Silver Spur ranch manager, said skunks are the worst - if you drive over a skunk, you'll need to get your car deep cleaned. And all your clothes, your hair, and your skin. He recommends using tomatoes.

6. The Road Less Traveled
While the interstates are definitely the fastest way from A to B, they often aren't very interesting, and offer only fast food chains, and dodge motels for food and lodging. If you have time, get off the main roads, and take the road less traveled. Your gps will help with this - just program it to avoid highways.

7. Gas Stations
Prices for gas are different at each station, not like back home. Check the prices before you pull in - you can save a good chunk of change this way.

8. Listen To The Radio
You can listen to your own music back home, but tuning into the radio state by state gives you a great feel of the music and views of this very vast and differing country.

9. Pick Up Tourist Maps
Just arrived? Ask the hotel or nearby tourist office for a tourist map - they're usually pocket size, and have all the best places to visit highlighted. It's a great way to quickly and easily get used to a new area.

10. Action!
Have your camera ready. The landscape changes dramatically, and very very quickly in some cases. There are strange road signs, peculiar sights and amazing shots to capture all along the way.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog, and in this post are purely that - views and opinions. What worked for us may not work for you, this is just the knowledge we gained along the way.

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