Tag Archives: day road trip

An Updated Ten Travel Tips for a Day Road Trip

It’s almost time to get out on the open road on a day road trip. Have you planned ahead? Spontaneity and just getting into the car and going can lead to some great trips no doubt. However there are some things that you should take into consideration before and during your roadie.

Day road trip tips - The Adventures of elATLboy.com

It’s been five years since I wrote my original post on this. The basics have stayed the same. A lot has changed though in terms of technology and in me getting more perspective from additional time on the road. Below is an update on my post and the day road trip tips I have found helpful.

1. Check the weather. The days leading up to a road trip and/or right before you get in the car, head to The Weather Channel website or app and check the forecast. You could also do a simple search like “Charleston weather” in Google, quickly becoming informed. Hmmm let’s see… winter storm? Maybe I should venture there tomorrow instead.

Day road trip tips - check the weather

Follow the weather on your phone throughout your adventure as well. You’ll increase the chances of not running into a sheet of ice (been there), high winds or getting caught up in a deluge of rain. You might change course on the spot. Who knows that could lead to an unexpected adventure and you’ll be safer.

Additional Tips: While you are at it check for major construction along with Googling “<NAME OF DESTINATON> traffic”.

2. Get a good night sleep. A day road trip could last a full 24 hours or more. I look at it like this. The longer you make the day, the further you can travel away from home and double back, meaning the more you can see. I love taking advantage of the extended daylight hours in the summer. If the sleep thing doesn’t work out then you are going to need…

3. …fuel, I mean coffee! Bring some from home. If desperate grab some at a travel center or truck stop ha-ha. As the day goes on make sure to refuel at indie, mom and pop coffee shops along the way. At least that’s my philosophy. I love experiencing something new, sometimes getting tips on things to do from bulletin boards or the locals sipping java inside. Drip Drop Drink in Muskegon is my-go when exploring the beach towns along Lake Michigan in Pure Michigan.

4. Charge, charge, charge. It’s not just you that needs to be fully charged. Make sure your Galaxy 7 or iPhone X and camera are ready to go. You will want to have enough juice to take pictures, post to Snapchat, Instagram live stories, ask for advice on Twitter, etc. Have those chargers and spare batteries, along with a portable power pack or two handy. A lot of people have USB ports in their vehicles these days. Bonus for getting extra juice while you are driving!

5. Fully stock your vehicle. Learning from experience, I make sure to have a blanket, bottled water, extra clothes, wind-shield washer fluid, flashlight, jumper cables, spare tire, emergency snack food, etc. Also check your oil and other fluids, along with your tires.

Day road trip tips - have a spare tire, windshield washer fluid, jumper cables

6. Have navigation help. Some people use Gladys (GPS), but many more gravitate to Google maps on their phone these days. The key is to have them available. Back to the word spontaneity. Make sure to put all navigational aids away at times for adventure sake. When I personally seek help I still like having my trusty, old-fashioned atlas alongside. The Waze app can help here as well.

7. Bring cash including change. You never know when you’ll need it for tolls and parking meters. When you call for help to fix a flat tire or for general road-side assistance, a lot of the time cash is the only payment option.

8. Hit the road on an empty stomach. You can snack and have your coffee, but be hungry and ready to eat so you can try some local cuisine. It’s not a day for McDonald’s or hitting up the vending machine at a rest area. How about a stop at Skyline Chili when road tripping through Cincinnati along I-75?! As far as chains go I will allow stopping at a random Waffle House ha-ha. Some of my best day road trip memories started or ended there.

Day road trip tips - stop at a Waffle House

9. Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes. Hopefully there will be lots of getting out of the vehicle to explore. Some jogging, hiking and climbing could be in order. I once traveled fifteen miles on foot while in the heart of Chicago. With the cost of parking in a big city it’s better to centrally park and use public transportation or walk to everything.

10. Even with planning as described in the tips above make sure to have semi-plans. In other words be out there on the open road with an open mind. There it is yet again, my word of the day, spontaneity. Of course there will be places you marked to experience. You must also be willing to get sidetracked with random finds. The unexpected can be the most gratifying.

day road trip tips - lake mead, las vegas, nevada

Checkout my original day road trip tips post.

Any other day road trip recommendations? I can’t wait to see all of you out on the open road.

Photo of the Week: Out on the Open Road in Tennessee.

Was out on the open road on I-75, road tripping, crossing into Tennessee from Georgia when I decided to get out my vehicle and capture the road signs ahead. Three of the four biggest cities in Tennessee on the highway sign. The Tennessee Aquarium caught my eye as well.  Where to go? Where to go? Hmmmm…

Have spent time in all three, but today’s choice was nearby Chattanooga!

Tennessee-Georgia state line, Tennessee Welcome Center, Chattanooga

What does it mean to be “Out on the open road”?

If you’ve seen a lot of my previous posts you can tell I like road tripping, both the day and long distance variety. My favorite phrase and thing to say when describing such a trip, as you might have guessed, is being “out on the open road”. What has that phrase meant to me and what does it mean now?

It means…

…putting all things and worries aside for a while.

…enjoying the company of others (if with fellow roadtrippers).

…venturing to the unknown, leading to discovery.

Out on the open road. Lake Hawea - New Zealand.

…stopping to get gas every few hours.

…stopping at a service plaza/travel center and grabbing random snacks and beverages.

…while at the service plaza/travel center, grabbing all the travel brochures and magazines available.

Out on the open road. Tilbury, Ontario, Canada service plaza. Out on the open road. Tilbury, Ontario,   Canada service plaza.

…the floor of the car will fill up with the aforementioned empty snack wrappers, beverage bottles, travel brochures and who knows what else.

…radio stations will come and go on the dial.

…the windshield and front of the car will become engrossed in dead bugs.

…can I or can’t talk on the phone while driving where I’m at now?

…you’ll get stopped unexpectedly due to construction or the road will be shut all together.

…you’ll start singing 99 Bottles of Beer, driving other possible travelers crazy.

…if you drive along enough you’ll be in sunny skies, under clouds of all types, the rain, the dark night skies and who knows what else.

…you’ll want to stop and get out of the car ever two seconds to capture a photo.

Out on the open road. Town of Waihi, New Zealand.

…you’ll try to capture photos while driving. Not advisable. Tip: If a passenger on such a trip, snap away!

…you’ll be begging for a gas station, McDonald’s or a rest area at some point because you have to go.

…every mile further you get from home will be another mile you’ll have on the drive back.

…you’ll keep hearing the same Top 40 songs over and over again on the FM dial. Really need Sirius Satellite Radio. 🙂

…lots of tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram photos if you’re a social media geek like me. 🙂

…capturing the same photos with your camera and smart phone.

…stopping and doing goofy things in front of state and town welcome-to signs.

…I’m probably tired of saying “it means” haha.

…lots of tolls and parking meter fees if around a big city.

…getting excited watching the mile-to signs going down for a destination, meaning you’re getting closer.

Out on the open road. Heading east on South Island of New Zealand

…lots of Starbucks and/or random coffee house stops for fuel.

…expect the unexpected. Things will never go completely as planned.

Most importantly it means…

…lots more experiences to write about and share with the world and

…meeting great new people along the way and

…you’re traveling!

Gotta go. It’s time for The Adventures of Elatlboy to continue “out on the open road“!

Out on the open road. Southbound I-75 in central Ohio

What else comes to mind when you think (day) road trip?

Florida: Out on the Open Road by Foot.

Most of the time I’m driving or are a passenger in a vehicle out on the open road, but recently in Florida I decided to mix it up. It was time to hit the open road by foot. It was an early humid morning in Pensacola, Florida and I decided to make the long walk down Gulf Shores Highway to Big Lagoon State Park. That was only the beginning.

Gulf Shores Highway links downtown Pensacola with the bridge to Perdido Key. At times the Big Lagoon is alongside on the south side of the road. I’m getting close.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

Big Lagoon State Park sits naturally along the Big Lagoon as well separating the mainland of the Florida panhandle from Perdido Key and the Gulf of Mexico. You’ll find lots of nature trails, birds and wildlife, beaches and is a popular spot for campers.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

I got to the entrance and could see the visitor station off in the distance. Not seeing a map beforehand I figured right past that would be all the action. Little did I know.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

At the entrance the ranger handed me some maps and he charged me $2, the walk-up rate. Lot’s of vehicles and campers already started passing me by. I wondered how many people do they get randomly walking in.

Well I started in, figuring after the first turn I’d see something, nope. Then the second, third, fourth and more, nothing.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

After each turn this is what was in front of me.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

Not much to speak of on either side of the road. I didn’t really see or hear any wildlife yet either.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

I’d become a soaked mess due to the humidity and fast rising temperatures. Pleasant picture I paint I know. The hot conditions probably made the walk seem longer then it really was. Where’s the scenery I asked? At the same time I smiled, because I realized, I’m out on the open road, by foot this time! It was a nice change of pace.

After about an hour inside the park and lots of walking and other vehicles, trailers and campers passing me by, I could see the Intracoastal Waterway Bridge off in the distance that connected the mainland with Perdido Key and the Gulf.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

I must be getting close to something I said. Well lo and behold shortly thereafter there was scenery. The Big Lagoon, harbor and boats, were all right in front me now. I captured another romantic picnic table setting. That seemed to be a theme on this trip. Another beach picnic table setting I captured while walking just east of here.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

After lying on the bench of the picnic table for a while to relax I found a small pier so I decided to sit down, chill and just stare at the view. Lots of boats and traffic on the Intracoastal Waterway Bridge headed towards Perdido Key and down the road Lower Alabama. The white multi-story building behind the harbor, The Oyster Bar Restaurant & Marina, caught my eye. I know where to stop next time.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

I captured some more shots along the Big Lagoon. Lots of sand and beaches nearby.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

A small boat ramp. Where’s that kayak or canoe when I need it?

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

The water was calm and there were only a few fisherman around so it was quite peaceful.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

The high-rise condos and hotels dotted the Gulf of Mexico shoreline, showing how close I was.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

I didn’t want to leave but it was time to start the journey back. I found one of the nature trails to take back through marsh and the campgrounds, which was actually a shortcut to the exit. The sound of wildlife was in full swing now. More on that in a future post.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

Canoes! I wonder if I could have taken one?

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

Why didn’t I find this nature trail on the way in? No matter. I wouldn’t have had the chance to be on the open road inside the park if I had. 🙂 I covered more ground in the park as well. You also gain a much different, more detailed perspective walking from A to B versus driving and passing lot’s of little things by. 🙂 I definitely want to experience this again soon.

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

Well it was back to walking down Gulf Shores Highway and where I was staying. Checkout Big Lagoon State Park when your around Pensacola and Perdido Key. What other Florida state parks would you recommend? What was the last state park you visited?

Road Trips: Finding Your Way.

You’re on a road trip out on the open road, going from A to B, how do you find your way?

We’ll exclude the random, road trips to the unknown, because in those cases the concept of getting lost can be exciting, adventurous and lead to new discoveries. But if you have a goal, a place you’re looking to get to, you’re not looking to get sidetracked or lost. Here are some ways people try to find their way.

1. Maps and the Atlas. Lots starts with what people used before technology took over. The old tried-and-true. There’s nothing like taking that map and spreading it over the hood of your car along the interstate or trying to drive while holding a map or the atlas in your hand. Cool I’m on the right track to Daytona from Orlando.

Road Trip - Directions - Maps

St. Louis and Missouri here I come!

Road Trip - Directions - Maps & Atlas

2. Planning ahead. People will checkout the aforementioned maps and atlas before they leave or go the online route using an app like Google Maps. People like to see their route highlighted, the turn-by-turn guide and alternate paths from A to B. Benton Harbor, Michigan to Wrigley Field, got it!

Road Trip - Directions - Google Maps

Even with planning ahead, you might get sidetracked due to construction which requires taking a detour. Those that choose not to follow the detours and say “let’s try going this way instead.”, how’d that turn out?

3. Makes a phone call. People will call and ask someone they know for directions and help. Sometimes helpful, sometimes will lead to more confusion especially when they can’t tell them where they are.

4. GPS. Once on the open road, people turn to their Global Positioning System (GPS). There are lots of devices out there these days that people suction onto their windows or set-up on their vehicle dash. If you veer off path, Glados will probably say “recalculating” or something like “proceed 500 feet then make a U-turn”.

Others will just use the GPS off their Smartphone like the TomTom for the iPhone and the Google maps navigation that comes with the Android. Lot’s of people add-on a GPS device when renting a vehicle so they can find their way.

5. Follows the road signs. In the countries I’ve been in the most, New Zealand does an exceptional job with this, the United States so-so. Signs tell people how far they’re away from the nearest prominent city, town or attraction. Signs on interstates and some numbered roads will tell you what direction you’re going in. Of course, if you wanna take a shortcut and get on a dirt or remote road in the middle of the night obviously all bets are off.

Signage you would see on northbound I-75 in Northern Georgia and in Freedom Park in Atlanta.

Road Trip - Directions - Road signs Road Trip - Directions - Road signs

6. Looks to the sky. Instead of looking for signs along the interstate, they take to the sky following the sun, moon or stars. Lot’s of people take road trips in the summer, the perfect time in regards to the sun. The sun will rise more due east and set more due west. Checking out the sunset outside my window in Toledo, Ohio. That’s west so I must be going south.

Road Trip - Directions - sunset in the West

7. Gut instinct. Some people refuse to ask for directions. Described some above, they go with their gut feeling. Lot’s of people say I know where I’m going or I think it’s this way. Others use the flip-a-coin method or break out “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe”.

8. Asks for directions. Those that do ask for directions, will commonly do so at a gas station while they are filling up. Sometimes it’s helpful. I’ve been asked a few times recently at gas stations, but I’ve been traveling myself in all cases and could only provide them with a guess.

Above are some of the common ways people find their way when road tripping. I’m sure there are many more. How do you find your way when out on the open road? Any tried-and-true tips for when you get lost?