A GUIDE TO DRIVING ROUTE 66
The following is a guest post
Coming from the North of England, where the country is at its narrowest, the prospect of driving ‘coast to coast’ does little to impress or thrill me. Wherever you happen to live in the UK, driving from one side of our glorious isles to the other can be achieved in under a day and would rarely take the form of a holiday – unless your mode of transport is bicycle and you have a passion for tents and sleeping bags.
Head to the states, however, and you could spend the best part of a few months travelling across the country, if you decide to take an indirect route to visit places that really appeal to you. Think open top sports car, one of those enormous drinks cups you’ve seen in the movies and the open road. Sound appealing?
To take some of the pressure off me, I chose to let someone else structure my journey and booked this trip with Virgin Holidays. Don’t assume that letting someone else do the decision making is going to take the fun away from your discovery of the states. Having a set schedule, and knowing that you’re guaranteed a place to stay in each stop will take the responsibility away from you and let you enjoy clocking up some serious miles on the open highway.
I’ve compiled a list of important items, which I probably wouldn’t have survived without – throwing in a few things that I wish I’d had in the car with me!
- Music – American radio can be entertaining at first and if you want a truly authentic experience, I’d recommend tuning into the local stations as you pass through the individual states and towns.
But when you’re starting to tire of country and western (it happened very quickly in our car), you’ll start to crave some ‘decent’ music. You can’t carry your CD collection around America with you, so investing in a little gadget that fits into the bottom of your iPod or MP3 and transmits your music to the car radio is a good move. Take a look here for some examples.
- Sun cream – Or sunblock as our American friends refer to it. If you’re lucky enough to be driving an open top car, don’t be reckless when it comes to sun protection. Driving for long periods of time – especially through red hot places like Texas – will burn you to a crisp and ruin your trip. Sacrifice the tan and use some powerful sun cream with a high protection factor.
The rental car will probably come equipped with air con and a map, but it’s up to you provide the stylish accessories. Sunglasses are an obvious must, but choose something lightweights that’s going to be comfortable for long periods of time. I opted for Ray Ban Aviator sunglasses from Red Hot Sunglasses for an authentic Top Gun look.
- Snacks – When you’re in America, the temptation to eat everything – and I mean everything – is often too much. You’ll be dazzled by the names that we don’t have in the UK, like Taco Bell and IHOP (they sell pancakes, and glorious ones at that) and you’ll naturally want to try them all.
While I’m not saying you shouldn’t treat yourself, limit the junk food. Eating too much fast food made my energy levels crash and driving became a chore. Stock up at a local supermarket on healthy things to snack on while you’re driving. Plenty of water and juice is another must have.
- Luggage – When you’re staying in a different place each night, you’re literally living out of a suitcase. Take a separate bag, something like a small suitcase you would use as hand luggage is ideal, that contains all of your toiletries, clean underwear and your pyjamas. You won’t spend time rummaging through your huge suitcase when all you want to do it climb into bed.
So there you have it: my little piece of wisdom passed on to the next generation of explorers. I hope this has been helpful and that you have a great time – and that you get a little lost along the way – because that where the real fun lies.