Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Frugal Open Road-Resource Reviews

Recently, I've been exploring some options for my next road trip. While it looks like this may get put off until the fall, it's not necessarily a bad thing.  Considering the options I have been looking at, the weather will still be extremely comfortable. Children will be back in school, which frankly is a plus for me, especially as I am looking at such beachy alternatives as the gulf coast.

I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I had gotten some books. Unfortunately, many of the "open road" books have to do with RV living. While I certainly don't think that traveling RV style is bad (some of my best blog friends travel this way), it would be nice if there was literature addressed to those of us who road trip in a regular vehicle and pay for lodging.  Perhaps that's where my future book likes?  I also explored some traditional "road trip" books with some magazines. Many of the magazines were actually originally motorcycle magazines, which I found interesting. Later on this week I'll write about frugal road tripping, especially as a single gal (for example, yes, I eat in restaurants. No, I dont carry a weapon).  First, though, a few thoughts my recent readings and travel resources:
  • American Road Magazine, is in theory a motorcycle magazine.  They are all about epxloring America's two lane highways.They have a lovely website with many itineraries and a magazine that is published four times a year. While the magazine can be a bit advertisement heavy, they always have four to five routes, with full descriptions and advice. Two that are mentioned in the current issue are Route 66 and driving along the Columbia River.
  • RVing Solo Across America is half advice, have travelouge.  Louis Requist describes her preparations and her experiences traveling the USA and Canada alone. The beginning session describes her decision making (and her concerns), the main desction describes her roadtripping, and the end includes appendixes and resources. While most of these were things I alread took into consideration (and will write about this week), the resources provided were helpful.
  • For Women Only, Traveling Solo In Your RV was an interesting book,but one that I just scanned because I prefer to travel in a car.  Women looking to travel alone in an RV will probably find it helpful as it has lots of technical advise about choosing  vehcles, packing and the like-most of which is meant for RVers.
  • My experience in road tripping is that I rely less on books than other resources. However, when it comes to books, Road Trip USA is the standard for two lane US travel.  They also have a website. Both this book and and books-at least for routes and suggestions where to eat. This book and Lonely Planet USA's best trips have in my opinion the best route suggestions. 
  • Here in Texas we have a variety of magazines dedicated to Texas travel and roadtripping, and I expect that most states have similar magazines. I'm not talking about the big glossies that the major cities put out, but rather magazines that talk about other parts of the state. Here in Texas we have Texas Hiways Magazine for example, along with Hill Country magazine. Most of these have websites, and when I travel my roadtrips, I make sure to check them out extensively.
Obviously, there are many more resources for road tripping travelers and single travelers.  State and city websites can be extremly helpful in planning your trip (although my personal experience says that you should look at these AFTER you explore some of these other options). For single travelers, especially women there are many books available. I did not choose these because most of them had to do with resort and international travel which is not on my radar these days. A plethora of books exist for almost any location within the US and Canada-obviously there are more sources for traditional destinations and cities.It's also worth exploring websites and blogs of folks who travel regularly. Some time back I sent Bob over at Satisfying Retirement a link about a couple who drove through every state in the US-with the stated goal of finding the best pie. (I had to reset my internet settings back to basic and lost the link-hopefully they are still out there). I want to be them (which is why downsizing to me is more than acceptable).

These are just a few of the resources I've explored lately to up my road trip experience.  In all fairness though, I should add that a couple of my best road trip experiences were when I ignored common sense and directions and followed my instincts. Getting off the road and ignoring the route have worked well for me.

What about you-do you travel on the road?  How do you decide where you will go and what you plan? Are you a seat of the pants person or a "must have a plan" kind of guy.


  1. actually i think fall is the best time to go to the coast in texas. for all the reasons you mention, no kids, better weather, etc.
    we usually go to rockport in october and get very good deals on accomadations.

  2. I traveled 49 out of 50 states for a job. Alone.
    There were five consultants who did the same thing. Together we came up with some "rules of thumb".
    We had AAA. We used it in any situation that we felt needed coverage- from gas to battery to tire to travel books. They were worth every penny (and probably lost money on us).
    We traveled with a huge flashlight in the side pocket of our car. Both a weapon and a help. I never used mine for the former but did the latter.
    Hide a few 20's in your car. You never know....
    We were off the road by night. No questions asked. Never accept a room by the stairs and check the windows if placed on first floor (these came from police officers who briefed us). We asked the desk clerk where to eat. We then told the desk clerk when we left and asked for them to look for our return.
    Cell phone always in your pocket when not in use- not in the charger or glove box. Charge it at night.
    We carried a rolled magazine when walking around in a strange place. Sounds funny- but iit really turns into a piece of pipe for pushing uncomfortable people away (and you can read it)!
    Last, check in with someone nightly. It is important they know your route and time.
    I loved my time on the road. I would not trade it for anything. Enjoy yourself!

  3. Wow...perfect timing. Thanks, Barb. We have our first ever RV trip planned for early September, plus we love road trips. These books and resources will be very helpful.

  4. anon, I tend to agree, that fall will be better for the gulf coast.

  5. Janette, great tips. Next post will probably include a tips list and I will try and include some of these..

  6. Bob, it sounds exciting. Im heading to denver in August but do plan to hit some of that route 66, turqoise trail and perhaps santa fe depending on the heat.

  7. Please don't forget the old standby Fodors, Lonely Planet, Fommers or even Trip Adviser. They have some great online stuff or you can check them out at the library. You are going to have so much fun.

    Jannette had the best practical tips I have heard in a long time. Simple stuff is always the best!

    Be well and keep us posted.


  8. I admire your sense of adventure in traveling alone. I have always been apprehensive about doing it. I have a very severe fear of being stranded alone. I have AAA but it has done nothing to ease my fear. Seems like it gets worse the older I get.


  9. Lori I do things now that I would not do in the day before cell phones. I do have a well supplied car, my car insurance does towing and I take my cell phone.

  10. Patti, do you remember the "sell my car bit". Well, I didnot do that, but my son did. while I was there, we discussed trade in (and it required a loan). I hate debt, but the rav4 was uncomfortable. I need a car that has a butt level seat. you know, no up, no down?? I also had lots of mileage and I travel a great deal. Now driving a used Nissan Murano with low mileage and loving it...but there is that car payment


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