Some of the “best” movie memories I have are road trip movies : Vacation, Easy Rider, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Thelma and Louise and Smokey and the Bandit. I am embarking on a southern road trip tomorrow morning , San Francisco —> Santa Barbara —-> Los Angeles —> Palm Springs and I am coming up of a list of things NOT to do, miss or forget.
We now have Jetson like devices iphones and GPS systems so it should be impossible to get lost, right? Road trips excite me, tap into my still teenager encased soul wrapped in my fuzzy exterior. The open road, the unknown. Of course in this 38 year old body I have more restraints than my teenager at heart- care free -throw caution into the window soul.
Road tripping over the Holidays adds another layer of pre-caution. Do you run into the truck stop on highway whatever to take an emergency number 2 without covering up and securing presents piled up in back seat from lurking eyes? Desperate times, desperate measures, BE WARNED. You hear stories about junkies crashing a car window for a cigarette butt they see in car ash tray ( I made that up). Thankfully I will not be contending with snow storms so I can remove car tires chains, sleeping bag like coats, leg warmers ( just kidding..maybe) off the ” to bring list”.
Be safe, be as smart as you can, be wary of hitchhikers and only pick up if they are drop dead gorgeous and you are horny ( just kidding… maybe). Don’t fight with the driver , avoid fast foods that will loosen your stools ( for real), put down all you electronic vices and stare out the window, soak it all in and have fun because soon you’ll be back in morning traffic on a conference call heading to work.
Here are six tips for feeling safe and sane on the road:
1. Don’t advertise your travels. Avoid leaving road maps in plain sight inside your parked car; instead, try to look like a local, even if your license plate isn’t. If your vehicle is laden with luggage, and especially if you have gear stowed on the roof, park where you can see it from a restaurant or store. At night, take everything that is in plain view with you into your motel room.
2. Look like you know where you’re going. When sightseeing, avoid standing on street corners wearing a befuddled expression while staring at a guidebook or map. Get a few bearings before you venture out of the car.
3. Get an upstairs room. At roadside motels, consider getting a room on the second floor so you can scan the parking lot before heading down to your car. (Personally, I prefer first-floor rooms, so I don’t have to lug my gear up the stairs.)
4. Consider the refund policy. If you stop at an inexpensive mom and pop motel, and there is a sign at the check-in counter that says, “No Refunds for Early Check-Out,” consider moving on. I speak from experience when I say that is likely that the establishment has some unsavory condition that you won’t detect until you’re covered with bug bites or awakened in the night by noises too loud to ignore. At the very least, ask to see the room before you pay.
5. Use the truck stops. Travel and truck centers are some of the safest places to stop and rest. They have 24-hour security and professional drivers who are used to staying aware and protective of their vehicles. The only drawback is that they aren’t very quiet. You’ll have to get used to the “big-rig lullaby,” because most drivers leave their engines running even when parked for the night.
6. Chat up the locals. Get local information whenever you can. Coffee shops, hair salons and taverns are all good places to chat casually with residents. Also pick up a local paper or watch the local television news. Being aware of local current events will not only help you have more fun, it can also keep you safe. Participate in the Great American RoadTrip Forum before you leave town to gain a local’s perspective about the places you will be driving through.
Road trips are meant to be adventurous and fun. Channel the energy you’re spending on that worst-case scenario into some sensible precautions, and you will have a safe, sane and enjoyable trip. http://www.studenttraveler.com
- www.digitalcity.com/roadtrip. Quirky things to look for in each state.
- www.roadsideamerica.com. This site proves there’s more than roadkill on the side of the highway. And some of it’s worth stopping for!
- www.roadtripamerica.com. Connect with fellow wanderers in The Great American Road Trip Forum.
- www.theextremeroadtrip.com/Roadtrip. Read about an RV loaded with bikes, boards and a couple of hardcore adventure travelers.
Photo by Jeff Booth