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Old 11-26-2013, 05:30 AM   #1
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My First Road Trip - Tips and Pointers

Hey all!

My wife and I are driving from Maine to Arizona in a few weeks to visit some family and attend a collage graduation. We decided to make the most of it and take about a week and a Ĺ to see a little bit of the country.

My wife has traveled a bit before but this is my first road trip. Mind you, I am a 28 year-old grown ass man but I can count number of states I have been to on two hands (almost one). Iím pretty sheltered, I rarely make it out of the state of Maine so this is big news to me!

We are taking the most direct route down to AZ, shooting to haul ass and make it down in 3 to 4 LONG days. Do the family thing for 2 days then take our time heading back and do the East Coast route. We donít have our nightly stops planed, we kind of know where we want to be each day but thought we would kind of wing it for hotels each night (bad idea?) Were taking my Tacoma, Iím going to get an oil change a day or two before we head out and make sure itís good to go. Itís a 2011 with 35k miles so I donít anticipate any issues. I literally just traded my 05 in for the 2011 a month ago so she should be good to go. We figure about 300 miles per tank of gas so weíre factoring that into our route.

Weíre taking the usual stuff for travel, camera, a cooler, and some pocket cash for tolls and stuff but other than that, Iím going into it admittedly clueless!

I wanted to reach out and ask the community for little tips, advice, or wisdom for traveling long distance across our country. Any advice is welcomed!

Thanks!
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Old 11-26-2013, 05:39 AM   #2
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Old 11-26-2013, 05:42 AM   #3
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i've done several cross-country trips
and besides the stuff that you're already prepared for; the main thing is just recognizing and properly handling road-fatigue
drive in shifts with your lady
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Old 11-26-2013, 05:42 AM   #4
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Change for tolls.

In az, if bank still own as your truck note your legally required to ask for permission to cross state lines. Not bad to make sure you have good insurance coverage.

Bring an extra form of I'd just in case.

GPS with realtime traffic updates won't hurt but not really a requirement.

Take frequent breaks or better yet stop to rest if you feel fatigued. Don't try to power through it no matter how stupid but it sounds.

Last, have a good freaking trip. I've never driven east myself, always flew or went with others. But seemed like a lot better drive then az to Montana.
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Old 11-26-2013, 05:43 AM   #5
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don't drive tired I totaled a two month old tundra that way
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Old 11-26-2013, 05:43 AM   #6
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oh, and be mindful of differing state laws if you're traveling with any firearms or the such
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Old 11-26-2013, 05:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greensystemsgo View Post
Change for tolls.

In az, if bank still own as your truck note your legally required to ask for permission to cross state lines. Not bad to make sure you have good insurance coverage.

Bring an extra form of I'd just in case.

GPS with realtime traffic updates won't hurt but not really a requirement.

Take frequent breaks or better yet stop to rest if you feel fatigued. Don't try to power through it no matter how stupid but it sounds.

Last, have a good freaking trip. I've never driven east myself, always flew or went with others. But seemed like a lot better drive then az to Montana.
I drove through a portion of NJ and it cost me freaking $18 in tolls
So, we're not just talking: bring the extra change that's in your couches
Bring some $$ if you're going through toll states
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Old 11-27-2013, 08:07 AM   #8
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Thanks for the pointers fellas!

I'l starting to think that I am going to have to carry a small fortune with me for tolls!

The wife and I plan to take shifts driving to knock out some 12 + hours days. Hopefully the miles fly by a little easier.

AZ has some odd laws huh?
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Old 12-09-2013, 07:16 PM   #9
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Tire repair kit (plugs) and pump or compressor.

Music!!!

TrAil mix...

Condoms.

Have fun
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Old 12-09-2013, 08:50 PM   #10
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dude..can you give yourselves more time?

this is your first outing..make it count. and have tons of fun!!
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Old 12-10-2013, 05:08 AM   #11
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Yeah, first outing, I wish we had more time believe me. I took all the time I could from work. I would love to have another 2 or 3 days to take our time.

We're leaving this Friday early morning. I'm getting the oil changed on the Taco Thursday night so we'll be all fresh to go. We have been loading up on podcasts and tunes and been packing all week, it's getting exciting!

We have our route all figured out and know where we want to be and about when we plan to get there. We did our budget once more to make sure we have gas and hotels all accounted for. I think were in good shape!

Oh and we came up with a great name for the adventure for my wife's blog that she is doing along the way. We call it the "Goofball 3000" haha

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Old 12-10-2013, 08:56 PM   #12
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If you're going to drive in shifts I'd recommend bringing a few sets of earplugs and a pillow for the passenger to nap with.

I usually bring a jug of windshield wiper fluid and a spare set of blades. You can find them on the way if need be, but if you're on a time crunch it's possible to waste time tracking them down.

A towel (they're handy for all sorts of stuff)

Swim suits. Many hotels have indoor pools and hot tubs and it's very nice to soak a few minutes at the end of a long day of driving.

I like using bicycle water bottles to drink out of since you don't need to fiddle with a lid to drink. If you go with something like a Nalgene they make an insert for the mouth of the bottle that keeps the water from splashing on you.

Cruise control will be your friend, weather permitting.

A couple pairs of sunglasses, preferably with different tint for different lighting on the road.

A wide variety of snacks

AAA card. Probably won't need roadside assistance but you can get discounts on hotels.

Comfortable shoes for driving.

I usually take everything (especially the wallet) out of my pockets before getting going.

If you have a CB or access to a CB, I'd recommend taking it. It's not the end of the world if you don't have one, but listening in on the truckers can be entertaining and informative. My CB has paid for itself numerous times by alerting me to road hazards, speed traps, accident locations, etc.
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Old 12-11-2013, 08:47 AM   #14
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Good suggestions here. I've traveled back and forth between Maine, Virginia, Texas, Colorado, and California a few times in various vehicles ('96 Tacoma, '06 S2000, '07 Tacoma, Civic, Veloster, etc.).

I really liked having a GPS, especially with traffic alerts (or whatever they call it). Also, I found audio books really helped (moreso than music) because they engaged my mind.

I've also camped in my vehicles during the trips (at 6'3", sleeping in a S2000 is not the most comfortable) and after you get over the idea of sleeping relatively "unprotected", it's actually a fun adventure.

Just take your time. Walked around for a few minutes whenever you stop for gas. And enjoy yourself! I always enjoy driving over flying because you get to see so many things you'd never see at 30,000 feet.
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:13 AM   #15
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oh..REST AREAS are not that safe anymore.

i've been offered inappropriate services several times. by men!
when i stop at one, it is always daytime, and i never ever leave my wife unguarded.

i have tried to sleep in one, and it is difficult to get any rest with one eye opened.

just be careful.
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:28 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aficianado View Post
oh..REST AREAS are not that safe anymore.

i've been offered inappropriate services several times. by men!
when i stop at one, it is always daytime, and i never ever leave my wife unguarded.

i have tried to sleep in one, and it is difficult to get any rest with one eye opened.

just be careful.
I'm trying to think, but I think the last time I stayed in a rest area was 2011 (wow, didn't realize it had been that long). There were a few cars with people camped out in them. I was surprised actually.

I've only once had a problem with someone knocking on my window (back in 2003) looking for who knows what, but I wouldn't be surprised anymore.

Next year, when I make my trip to/from VA and ME from here (TX), I'll probably give it more thought.
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:44 AM   #17
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Flying J, Pilot, and Loves will be places to stop. Generally clean restrooms, and the best coffee selections on the road. Stop at clean looking mom and pop restaurants along the way instead of just fast food, these places also have great local info if you ask. And don't forget a jacket, the desert gets cold at night. Good luck and Godspeed on your Goofball 3000.
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:48 AM   #18
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I've done Cali to NY 11 or 12 times and hit every interstate route you can go.

Your best bet is to take I95 to I78 outside Newark to I81 down to I40, then you can run that all the way to where ever in AZ your going.

You should be able to do the whole way in 3 days of solid driving. If your going to bomb the trip there then just suck it up and do it. That way you can take your time for longer on the way back.

You need to remember that you are traveling in winter, so the south route is going to be fine, but it doesn't mean they are exempt from snow. I'm assuming the taco is 4x4 so your fine there, but you also need to remember to check for pass closures if you head north say into CO or UT.

My favorite is the northern states to drive through but that's just me.

You will lack for nothing in regards to scenery and it will probably open your eyes as to the enormity of the US. I highly suggest you stop at regional places to eat and sample the food as you travel around the different regions. For instance, when going through Amarillo stop at the Big Texan and try and stuff your gullet with that 200 lb steak that you always see on TV. Its not only the famous places. Alot of times your on a back road and there is these little hole in the wall places that are superb.

Definitely take a leg to the grand canyon, Zion and Bryce National Parks since they are all right close to each other. I would say go over the highest road in America into Estes Park, CO but that road is closed in winter.

However you decide to go the best thing to do for the next couple of weeks is talk with your wife about what you each want to see and the states you want to visit and that will determine your route back. Once that is accomplished spend some time trolling the web and look for things to see, places to visit and food.

Don't worry about the hotel accommodations. They will work themselves out, unless you or the wife are very picky then you should look at that as well.

Something else that is fun to do is go to Barnes and Noble and get a complete state by state road atlas and a yellow highlighter (not the fluorescent just yellow, as the fluorescent fades) and highlight the major roads you travel. I started on my first road trip when I was 16 and still have the same book, I keep it in my truck. I have a Rand McNally one its 16"x12". Not to mention its handy as hell when your out of cell range for smart phones and just a good idea to have anyhow.

There is no better way of seeing the country than from a car IMO which is why I go on so many.

Good luck and have fun. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
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Old 12-12-2013, 04:24 AM   #19
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Thanks for the pointers everyone, I truly appreciate it!

I think we are in good shape. I have everything good to go: emergency roadside assistance kit, blankets, water, snacks, RedBull, spare fiver of fuel (thanks HomerTaco), small tool kit, large US Road Atlas, CB, power inverter for the netbook, hotspot capabilities on the cell phone (we'll see how well that works ) and a few other ods and ends as I think of them. As much as I would like to have it I'm leaving the Smith & Wesson at home, don't need any gun law drama going in and out of states...

Also got a thing in the mail yesterday saying I have 3 months free satellite radio, which is perfect for the trip! A little O&A action!

We head out early tomorrow morning. I will post a few pics if I get the chance along the way, if not once we get home for sure.

Thanks again fellas!
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Old 12-12-2013, 04:32 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HomerTaco View Post
Driven cross country solo several times.

Everyone's suggestions are good.

I'd add this:

I always carry 5gal. of extra gas. When I stop to rest or take a leak I'll top off the tank occasionally.

This just allows for some added mileage and maybe piece of mind.
very good advice!

on my NY to ID trip half (literally) of I-90 was under construction and I had to take all sorts of detours;
including one in Montana, where, without prior notification, the only signs of civilization I saw for about 200 miles was 2 or 3 farms;
thankfully, I had filled up very recently before hand; I would have been SCREWED if I had ran out of gas about half-way through... oh, and it was HOT and barren (no shade/shelter), and no cell-reception

Enjoy your trip, OP!!
Sounds like you've got a good set-up
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