Four things that make a great road trip
This post will talk about the 4 things that make a great road trip, in my eyes. I tried to list them according to the time I encounter each of them during the trip and not necessarily by their importance.
One of the things I like about traveling in America is the option to get a cool car in relatively good price. You need to understand that back home I'm driving a small Mazda 2 so anything bigger, newer, higher, etc. is a thing.
My first good experience with that was when I landed in Jackson Hole on my way to Yellowstone national park. I picked a "regular" car (which was actually new, it had like 4 miles on it!) but at the first stop I noticed it can't be locked… I clicked the remote and nothing happened. I returned to the airport to get new batteries for the remote, but that didn't work out, so they offered me a different car and I picked a black Dodge Journey, which at that point I wasn't familiar with, but it looked good 🙂 .
In the next days I found a few cool features in the car – first of all both the steering wheel and the seat can be heated!! This can really help on a cold morning when you're all freezing. The other thing was that no key was needed to start the engine, it's only a click away 🙂 . All in all, in a trip I did 2 years later, I chose the same car again…
By the way, this experience is (usually) quite different between Europe and America. In Europe you'll most likely get a much smaller manual-gear car. See this example:
Roads & Scenery
I really love to travel but unfortunately I have quite a bad sense of direction. That's one of the reasons I tend to choose "small", remote destinations where I'm less likely to get lost. For that matter Yellowstone is a great example. The airport is located next to a small town and the way to get to the national park is real easy! Want another example? Try the Azores (a group of islands in the Atlantic, just off Portugal) – San Miguel is the biggest island but still quite a small one with a loop road that covers it and a few cities (where I did manage to get lost 🙁 ).
So… once I picked a car I start driving and enjoying everything – the space and calmness on the road (which is a huge change compared to my everyday city-life), and the views – whether it be towering mountains all over the place (did anyone say the Rockies?), just green all over, lakes, waterfalls, whatever!
Another thing I like about road tripping in remote areas and off-season is the ability stop whenever I want, wherever I want, enjoy the open for a while, take some pictures and go on. Sometimes I just get out of the car, leave the engine running – to get a sniff of air 🙂 .
A few small tips for a solo driver:
- Put the map/s on the seat next to you so you have a quick glance at it if needed. It can be the map of the national park you're visiting, of the island, etc.
- Buy some snacks for the road. I like to get baby carrots since it's not junk and it has a nice sound to it 🙂
- Get a sandwich and a drink for the hikes. The further you walk, the less people you'll see!
After a few hours, or one day when you feel comfortable with the car and area you can start listening to music. I never bring something from home, in order to get some feeling of the local stuff.
And here's another big advantage on my end for America – it's not rare to get a car with a satellite radio where you literally have tens of stations with all music (and non-music) you can imagine. I was amazed at the kind of stations I saw. Classic rock, 90's rock, grunge, Bruce Springsteen channel, Billy Joel channel, and the list goes on and on. Sounds great, right?
However I must say that even then, if you find a station you love, let's say "Classic rock", for some really odd reason they tend to recycle songs! I mean, what?! You have thousands (!!) of songs so why do you keep putting only these 20?? Never mind, it's still fun and you can move from 70s music to 80, 90s, country, grunge, disco – you name it!
What's you favorite genre? Check out these road trip playlists I compiled:
80's stuff (not too trashy):
Easy listening (Billy Joel, Simon & Garfunkel, etc.)
What are your favorite road trip songs?
Other road trips I did
- Scotland – From Edinburgh to Speyside (the Whisky region), to Inverness in the north and then to the beautiful Isle of Skye and back.
Actually that on was an exception car-wise since I had an Audi A4 🙂
- Reunion – A small French island, somewhere in the Indian ocean
- New England & Nova Scotia – Rented the car in Boston, drove through Maine and crossed the border to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia