This post is coming from the road as we are on the last leg of a last minute road trip. An ear infection for Kenn and doctor’s orders not to fly meant we had to come up with alternative plans to get to Miami for our cruise. A one-way rental car, some quick preparations and we were off. Here’s how we prepared for the 20+ hour trip:
Google Maps is our go-to app for navigation. It’s proven reliable and current, but does require a cellular connection for maps. That can be an issue for areas that aren’t covered by your carrier. Yes, you can download maps from the app to work offline, but the process requires you do it for all areas and I’ve found it not worth it.
An alternative backup plan is to have a standalone app that downloads maps to your phone and doesn’t require a cellular signal to work. We’ve used CoPilot by ALK technologies in the past, but there are many options today.
And you can always go old school with a good paper atlas. I still still love those. As a kid, nothing meant adventure more to me than the pages of a road atlas!
You’re going to want to pull over somewhere for the night if you’re driving a long distance. Your option is to pick a destination and prebook a hotel, or do as we did and drive until you can’t drive anymore and find a hotel. There are a multitude of chain hotel options along the U.S. interstate system and an affordable, clean room isn’t too hard to find for one night.
We found a Comfort Inn and Suites on our trip that gave us a modern room with a hot breakfast for two included for $107 total. That was a deal in our book!
Food & Snacks
Like hotels, places to get food and snacks are easy to find on interstates. However, we did pack a small bag of drinks and snacks to get ourselves started. We were anxious to get going and make some headway before stopping, so the snacks helped.
Think about snacks you can easily eat or drink while driving. Standard snacks for us on any road trip include beef jerky, Combos (little pretzel or cracker tubes stuffed with cheese), granola bars, m&ms, apples, water and gatorade. All are easy to pack or find on the road when you don’t want to stop for a sit down restaurant or fast food.
- The number one gadget that can be a lifesaver is a usb plug for a car power outlet. Not all cars have built in USB jacks these days, so it’s good to bring your own, preferably one that has 2 USB ports if you’re driving with others.
- An auxiliary in/out cord to plug in a phone or other audio source in case the car you’re traveling in doesn’t have bluetooth. We travel with an older iPod loaded with a huge music collection. This allows us to plug it in and listen to music and audiobooks without having to use our phones.
- Toll transponder. These little devices are familiar to those of us who live in larger cities and need to pay tolls on local interstates. In Chicago, we use a system called I-Pass. It’s a little white box that lets us fly through toll booths without stopping and the fare is automatically deducted from our account. It is compatible with other toll systems, so we can use it when we travel.
Stories of road rage are common and while you can’t control others, you can control your own reactions. Don’t let the rudeness, rash behavior and unsafe driving of others cause you to react in kind. It’s easy to get upset, but you’re much safer to back off and keep your distance.
We have a few hours left ahead of us on this trip and it’s been much more pleasant than I think we expected. A little planning and a go with the flow attitude makes all the difference!