In the fall of August of 2015 I made the decision to move from Southern California to Alexandria, Virginia. The end of September came and I had already made the decision to move BACK to So Cal, but I had to wait until June. Needless to say it was a long nine months. To pass the time I decided to plan a road trip home instead of flying. After all, my car had to get home some how! I was lucky that one of my BFF's was available and happened to be right in my East coast neighborhood around the time of the trip. In preparation for this epic Bucket List Adventure, I did a lot of research on what would be the most helpful along the way! Here is what I learned...
1. There are two types of travelers. The "I have a plan" traveler and the "I fly by the seat of my pants" traveler. I am in the Plan camp. My travel companion for this adventure usually buys a one way ticket to a destination and figures it out once she gets off the plane, but thankfully she was OK with my style for this adventure.
2. A place to rest your head. I was ok with finding cool things to do once we got to a destination, I have a moderate sense of adventure... after all I did decide to drive across the country right? However, I must ALWAYS know I have a safe place to sleep. I opted to go with Marriott hotels the whole way. They have an amazing rewards program and a fantastic variety of hotels to choose from. Out of all of the different options, I would say the Courtyard is my favorite. I don't know what it is, but Marriott has the BEST PILLOWS EVER! They also have a really useful App that allows you to easily map out your route and check-in so that they know what time to expect you, and make sure that your room is ready, This came in very handy A LOT as we would often check in late in the evening. It was really nice walking in, feet dragging after a long day of driving and having your key ready.
3. Trip Advisor Rocks! If you have not yet discovered the awesomeness that is TripAdvisor then you are missing out. On our stop in New Orleans, LA we looked up walking tours and found a PHENOMENAL tour. Sadly I cannot remember who the tour was organized by, but the Tour Guide was originally from Australia and she was BRILLIANT! This is absolutely the website to check out when looking for honest reviews about local attractions and tours. I am currently planning a trip to several countries in Europe and have already been researching possible excursions on TripAdvisor!
4. Exit : Alright, I will be honest. One of my BIGGEST fears when driving across the country was running out of gas. My travel companion is the queen of iPhone Apps and so found several that were INCREDIBLY useful. The first is "Exit". This app will show you what is available at the upcoming Exits. This was incredibly useful for finding gas stations, bathrooms, and food. We stopped frequently for gas, never falling below half a tank the entire trip. What I learned? Gas in EVERY state except California is dirt cheap! I was constantly filling up for less than ten dollars and it was amazing!
5. Find Me GF: My travel companion has Celiac disease and so it was imperative that we find Gluten Free foods. She used the app "Find Me Gluten Free" which directed us to restaurants that have Gluten Free options. This was highly successful and a very useful tool for anyone who has this dietary need.
6. Track My Tour: This was by far my FAVORITE app that we used. This app "Track My Tour" allows others to literally track where you are and includes a map with red lines and pins to follow your journey. This app is unique in that it keeps things simple. You take one photo per location and give a brief description. Then go about your day. Your adoring fans (friends and family) can follow you on your adventures, and know that you are safe without needing to check in on a myriad of social media platforms each day. However, if social media IS important you can connect this to your Facebook and Twitter and kill three birds with one stone. This was the COOLEST App and I look forward to using it again this summer as I go to Europe!
7. Choosing Who to Travel With: When I began planning this adventure, i wasn't sure I would have anyone to travel with. All my friends are married, most with children and I am over here like, "Hey! I'm seeing the world!" So I was prepared to go it alone. I just wanted to be home. I am incredibly blessed to have some of the coolest friends in the world, and the one that traveled with me couldn't have been more perfect. She is always up for an adventure and as an added bonus loves to drive! She went with all the crazy whims of mine, like the Country Music Hall of Fame and Graceland... Who knew Tennessee was so fascinating! Her only request was that we go to Roswell, New Mexico... and we did. The hotel front desk outfitted us with Alien antenna's, sunglasses, and lanyards. She was in heaven! I am not sure if she will read this, but if you do... you were the best travel companion and I appreciate your friendship so much! Love you girl!
8. Car Maintenance: This should be a no brainer, but just so I have covered all my road trip basics... Get your oil changed, battery checked, new windshield wipers, brakes, and tires rotated and ready to roll!
9. Road Trip Staples: These are the basic items to have in your car. A car emergency kit, first aid kit, toilet paper, paper towels, bottled and distilled water, a gas can, a Thomas guide or other maps, snacks, drinks, a multi-plug car charger for your phone, a camera, an umbrella, and an epic road trip playlist! If you are really type A (like me) You will have a printed itinerary complete with hotels, and maps from one destination to the other in a binder.
10. A Sense of Adventure!: This is an exciting event in your life. Take a ton of pictures, travel with someone you love, and have a great time! We had a blast and are still really good friends.
I have wanderlust. I have always wanted to go out and see the world. I am just starting to have these experiences, and traveling across the country was a big adventure. Summer is coming, the weather is beautiful in most of the country, and adventure is out there! Safe travels my friends!
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