Snow, Sweat and Tears
So, you might have stumbled across all my other posts about my ultimate USA road trip and still have so many questions. You have come to the right place! Although I’m far from being a road trip expert, I DID go through 10 days on the roads of the USA west coast and beyond.
Which brings me to my first tip:
Do not plan more than 5 hours of driving a day, unless you enjoy being on the road for literally the whole day and maybe spend the night in the car as well. Leave time for traffic jams, bad weather and more sight-seeing.
On certain parts of my trip, we planned up to 8 hours of driving and on those days it was extremely stressful and tiring. Winter conditions slow the traffic down and you will encounter various weather phenomenons related to the cold weather. And, by the way, it is nothing like a drive in Malaysia. That we do easily all the time. Some of the conditions you will encounter are:
- Very short days, it gets dark at 4 pm
- Fog, even in the day
- Traffic jams like you have never seen!
- Flat tires
Try not to have more than one luggage and one hand-carry per person. Most likely you will not be staying at a hotel or place more than a day and lugging those weights around can be a chore! Plus, your car boot may not be large enough for all that loot.
Having fewer luggages makes it easier and faster for you to get in and out of a hotel and time is key on every trip.
Keep snacks and fruits in your car for on-the-go snacking. You might miss breakfast and lunch. Or dinner. A hungry driver is a grumpy driver so more food stocked up is better than no food. Bread, berries, nuts and dried fruits keep very well in the car without spoiling thanks to the cooler temperatures and if you bring a thermos, you can make hot coffee, tea or chocolate. However, do note that if you are going park overnight in National Parks with wild animals, it is compulsory to remove all food from your car and keep it in your room.
Get a Line
I mean, a phone line, preferably with data. In a country like USA, it pays to be contactable at all times. Since you are mostly on your own, you can call up the hotels/restaurants in advance to make reservations or inform them that you will be late. You will be able to also check on road conditions online or via their hotlines. In case of emergencies, you can call for help as well!
There are numerous cases where the phone helped us and made all the difference in our trip. For example, I found a store just the day before we were going to drive to Yosemite which rents tire chains even on Christmas Day. It saved us a ton of time and money! The initial investment of US$50,although expensive, was well worth it.
Read up and Prepare
You can’t over prepare, you literally can’t. I did months of research prior to our trip and it can’t be compared to what the actual experience throws at you. So, what should you read up on? There are literally millions of resources you can get online. Since you are going to be driving and you come from a city like Singapore, here are the TOP two things you should research in advance: Road conditions and security.
Read reviews and tips from other travellers (TripAdvisor) who have travelled to your desired location, during the same period of time and it will help a lot. Do also read on how to protect yourself against theft and other forms of crime and what you can do. It is very easy to take security for granted since we come from Singapore.
With that, I believe that’s all my tips for now! Ultimately, remember at all times that you are on vacation and maintain a positive attitude and your holiday will turn out wonderful.