Now that Memorial Day has passed, we’ve entered the part of the year that the media likes to call the “unofficial start of summer.” With our recent heat wave, I think it’s safe to drop the “unofficial” moniker, regardless of what the calendar says. Heat and humidity don’t wait around for the summer solstice. It’s already here.
Summer, of course, is all about roadtrips. Here are some helpful* tips, tricks, and observations to remember before you hit the road. (Note: I might define “helpful” different than you do.)
1. The more you drive to your destination, the greater your chances of experiencing a freak disaster that the local newspaper will describe as “unprecedented” and “once in a lifetime.” My suggestion: Don’t buy any newspapers while on vacation.
2. On a rural road with very little traffic, you can expect to meet an oncoming car at every one-lane bridge, even if no other cars are on the road for miles. You might as well just plan on stopping as soon as you see a “ONE LANE BRIDGE” sign.
3. If you see an excellent parking spot that isn’t occupied, it’s probably too good to be true. Make sure it isn’t a handicapped parking spot with faded paint and no sign.
4. When looking for a restaurant in a tourist town, try to figure out which places are the most popular with the locals, as these are often the best choices. Counting the number of in-state license plates in the parking lot can be a good clue. However, if you stand out like an obvious tourist, be sure to check your bill carefully to make sure you aren’t being overcharged, since out-of-towners make such excellent rubes.
5. For penny-pinchers that plan to visit many national parks, the “America the Beautiful” Annual Pass can be a good deal. At a cost of $80, it covers entrance fees to national parks, national forest recreation areas, national wildlife refuges, and more. If you play your cards right, you can use it for multiple roadtrips during the year. However, read the fine print carefully. Like the IRS tax code, the rules and regulations are hideously complicated.
6. In a major work zone on a busy interstate, it’s safe to assume that at least one lane will be closed, often with little warning. Also, the exit you intend to use has been “temporarily” closed by construction for the next 5 years.
8. The next rest area, which you desperately need to visit, is closed for renovations. Bank on it.
Summer travel can be fun for the whole family. Just remember to plan ahead and have water in the car and maybe a cooler filled with ice and cold drinks. Any hotel you stay with will be happy to let you fill your cooler from their ice machine. Take advantage of that.
Have a great trip!! Are we there yet?