Life is a Highway
Lindsay and I met at a Rascal Flatts concert. If you've ever met either of us you'd find the humor in this, considering neither of us like Country music, let alone Country music by the likes of Rascal Flatts. I'm not knocking you if it's your kind of music. It's just not ours. We were introduced by friends, who happen to be twins, who both love music by Rascal Flatts. They coerced us with free VIP tickets and beer. I can safely say neither of them thought that we would end up getting married 4 years later. In fact, I’m positive that neither Lindsay or I thought we would end up married after that first meeting. But here we are, 4 years and thousands of miles of travel later, happily married.
Whether or not you enjoy Rascal Flatts I’m betting that the lyrics “Life is a highway/ I wanna ride it all night long” are already running through your head. If not, they are now. You’re welcome. It’s an earworm of epic proportion. It’s also lyrically a pretty solid theme song for The Gypsy Wives (although we would probably pick the Tom Cochrane version). “If you’re going my way/ I wanna ride it all night long”. We love road trips. Driving long distances across states, and even countries, has become one of our favorite ways to travel. We've road tripped up and down the East Coast, from Vegas to LA to San Fran and back, across Colorado, through Costa Rica, and even looped around Scotland. Road trips are our jam! In this Sunday’s Travel Tips we will give you a few guidelines to make those longs drives just a bit better.
First and foremost, let’s talk about safety. As an Emergency Room nurse, I’d prefer that anyone who takes the time to read this blog will never end up in the critical care or trauma room of any ER. Wear a seatbelt. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t drive tired. Don’t speed. Pay attention. And for the love of God, pass on the left and travel on the right (unless you're in Europe), and use a blinker when you do (even in Europe)!
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s move on to the next important subject; maps. I like using Google Maps for my travels. You can overlay your route that you plan to travel with places you wish to stop. This can be handy especially if you are out to explore a state like we did when we traveled to Colorado. Put all the places you want to see on your Google Map, and the base your route around them. Or, start with a route and find places along the way. Also, learn to read an actual map. This may seem like a pointless thing in the days of technology, but being able to read a paper map can be a lifesaver if you’re ever stuck in an area with limited cell service or no GPS.
Maps are great. So is having a well thought out route and solid plans for stops and places to stay. However, sometimes we like to wing it. We did this on our trips to both Colorado and Scotland. We would set out for the day in the general direction we were traveling and stop when and where we wanted. And at the end of the day, when we were ready for dinner and a place to sleep, we found a place for the night. Now, this can be a gamble. And at times this may lead to sleeping in your car. But, it can also lead to exceptional deals. Hotels that have rooms to fill will have last minute deals, and you can bargain with them. Check out Hotels.com and see what’s in the area, and then give the hotel a call and see if they will give you a better deal. We have managed to get hotels for close to half price by doing this. Keep in mind this will not work as well if you are traveling to a busy vacation destination during peak season.
If you’re like me, you like to find the best price for everything. And on a road trip this includes gas. Driving may save you money compared to flying, but you have to remember to factor in the cost of gas to your trip. I use the AAA Gas Price Calculator to give me an estimate of what the cost will be and the Gas Buddy app to find the best prices while I am on the road. Pro tip for life: never buy gas in a city. Any city. Gas prices can vary as much as $0.80 per gallon if you drive outside of a city’s limits to buy your gas.
Another expense that can rack up your road trip cost is food. When we drove a 2,700 mile road trip loop with the all girl punk band (much more our kind of music), T-Rextasy, it's entirely possible we had enough food packed into our tour van to feed a small city. But packing food ahead kept the overall cost down for everyone. No one likes to get hangry on a road trip, so pack snacks, folks. Factor in things like free breakfast at your hotel, also. When we drove around Scotland we made sure that breakfast was included in every place we stayed. Between free breakfast and snacks, we only had to purchase dinner most days. Dinner and Scotch...
Overall, road trips are a great way to travel. It’s generally more affordable. You get to see amazing things that you’d miss from a plane. And you get a real feel for the landscape of the region. So, buckle up, Adventurers, because Life Is a Highway!