Though most of the American cities offer good public transport, many people find it more comfortable to use their own car for not so long trips, especially to enjoy their weekends in a relaxed manner without having to bother about complying with the rigid schedule of the public transport system. Road trips in the US are a good way to experience typical American lifestyle also in view of the well connected highways, streets and secondary roads throughout the country. But how memorable you make your trip depends upon how well you plan it out. So, here are some tips and pointers to keep in mind while planning your car sightseeing tour in USA.
1. Where to go: Choosing the right destination is important
Choosing the exact destination is a matter of your personal interest and choice. But to make an informed choice, you need to know your options and the suitability of the route you’re going to take. If you love mountains and quaint villages, the states of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire would make a good trip. Similarly, Pacific seaboard route would be a good choice for coastal sightseeing. You may also want to drive on to secondary highways in between your highway journey to get glimpse of farms and village communities.
2. Renting vs Own vehicle
If you are not going very far off from your home, it’s always better to take your own vehicle provided you have a reliable one along with necessary permits. Apart from saving you some money and the botheration of looking for a reliable car rental agency, it is also good from the viewpoint that you will be lot more comfortable driving your own vehicle than the one you’ve never done before.
But if you are visiting from another country or even otherwise if your journey involves air/train travel, then renting a car would be the only choice you’d be left with. In such case, it is advisable to rent from an area near the airport so that it would be helpful for your return trip as well. Car renting is quite common in America and you’ll find all types of car in almost all the cities. Don’t forget to familiarize yourself with the rented vehicle before whizzing off. If you are from outside USA, note that the steering wheel will be on the left hand side since you’d be driving on the right side of the road. Also most cars will be without gears and clutch but manual transmission cars also available on request.
3. Navigating your way
Always keep the latest road atlas with you along with the individual maps of cities and states you’d be driving through. Google Maps and other online map sites would also be helpful during your trip; so keep them bookmarked on your phone. Apart from your driving route, you should also have a basic idea of gas stations, highway restaurants, roadside eateries, etc. Though most of the rented cars will have built-in GPS system, you can’t rely on it much; after all it’s an electronic device that can go off or malfunction without any warning. Also remember that your rented vehicle will have a hidden GPS just in case you are thinking of driving to areas beyond your rental agreement.
4. Take rest along the way
State welcome centers are a boon for road travelers. Make sure you make the most out of them for taking rest, relieving, refreshing, etc. You can also get travel maps, brochures, information and advice from most of the welcome centers.
5. Food and music will add to the fun
Having some basic food and beverage items with you will be helpful especially if you get stuck somewhere without access to food. This will also help you do away with the need to stop at every fast food center you come across every now and then, not to talk about reducing the financial burden of your trip.
And like most travelers, if you too love music, take along your music player and your favorite CDs; that will certainly add to the joy of your trip. But make sure not to drive with headphones on; it may be unsafe and illegal.
In addition to the above tips, it is also important to keep the weather condition in mind. You should have all the necessary tools and accessories with you – ice scraper, tow rope, blankets, flashlight, car cover, weather radio, etc. You can buy most of them online; customcarcovers.com for instance has all sorts of car covers for you, right from floor mats, lock covers and seat covers to front end covers and custom fit car covers.