- If you want an adventure ditch the GPS and navigation for the most part. Get the big Rand McNally book map. Google maps is great for a lot of things like finding a room but I find the paper map more preferable for planning routes. They are very detailed with a lot of points of interests marked and the more scenic routs are also marked. The most important thing is it's always on and doesn't need cell service. Downside is you may for example find yourself at closed road like I did trying to get into Death Valley but that is part of the adventure.
- If you are a coffee drinker get a french press with glass that can be removed from the holder which is typically metal, you only need hot water and most rooms have a microwave . The coffee makers are disgusting in these rooms.
- If you can try and shoot for late September and early October for a variety of reasons but mostly because the crowds are less at major destinations like Yellowstone. Room rates are also cheaper and if you are doing this on the fly like me you should not have trouble finding vacancies. Spring is another option but you may find some of the roads and areas of some parks in mountainous areas closed requiring significant detour that can be hundreds of miles.
- Do not set yourself on schedule, you can't do things you find along the way to do if you need to be at some hotel that night. The only reservations you may want to consider is for some things in major parks. Check ahead for passes or tickets that may be required for certain things. For Glacier national park for example you need a road pass which are limited.
- Try and get your lodging the night before near your next destination. Try and leave by daylight and you'll find in a lot cases there is no one there.
- Once it's around 4PM start looking for a room. They fill up pretty quick after about 5 or 6 and you may find yourself traveling a significant distance to find one.
- Don't be afraid to use small mom & pop lodging. In fact I would recommend it. Some of the cheapest and best rooms I have had were small independent motels.
- If it's an older vehicle like mine that will not have significant value if there is major mechanical failure bring your title. Worse case is sell the car for peanuts, Fedex your stuff home and hop on a plane.
- Bring cash, these mom & pop lodging places will sometimes offer better rate or nix the tax if you pay cash. If it's significant amount hide most of it in your car, the spare compartment for example. I have great hiding space under the middle console, four screws to get to it. The point is to not make it easy to steal.
- Hide a key on the car, I have a great hiding spot in the left quarter where I was able to zip tie it to the back of the fuel hose. The only thing you can really see is the zip tie on the hose and even that is not easily spotted.
- Be careful about your gas levels while in the desert, a half a tank is not a lot of gas if you get turned around in the middle of no where down the road.
- Unless it's marked at the maximum speed limit obey it exactly. Also when traveling above the maximum speed limit be careful with corners because they don't mark a corner at 70MPH if the speed limit is 70MPH.
Some tips & Tricks for a long Road Trip
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- Richard S.
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