Try the local flavor
“What’s local and not an IPA?” Beer is very regional across the US. Sure you can walk into nearly any bar in the country and order a Bud Light or Corona, but where’s the fun in that? On my most recent road trip across the country I would find a random restaurant or bar on my stop and when asked what I would like to drink the answer was always “What’s local and not an IPA?” I’ll try just about anything, especially off the recommendation of a local. IPAs are the exception though – I can’t stand them. And unfortunately out west where I am from they are the biggest trend.
The same goes for food which varies greatly across the US so make sure to try as much of it as you can. For example, the cuisine on the west coast in California is often very fresh, healthy, has a great diversity of seafood and has large influences from Mexico. Compare this to the cuisine of the New Orleans area of the south that offers a different variety of seafood, has influences of Cajun, Creole and the Caribbean and most dishes are generally accompanied by rum or whiskey. Never be afraid to walk into a restaurant, have a seat at the bar and ask your server “What do you like here? I’ll have that!” You’ll be glad you did.
A traveler is never alone
If you’re a traveler like me then this shouldn’t be a surprise. Whether you hit the road solo or with a friend odds are you will meet new and interesting people along the way. And when you meet new people they will be curious about you and your story, so tell them as much or as little as you want. Maybe even have some fun with it and tell them you’re following the national bull-riding tour across the country as a certified saddle technician (I’m not sure any of that actually exist) and be whoever or whatever you want to be. Either way, you may know your own story but it will be something new and interesting to whoever you come across.
Also, keep in touch with your friends and family back home whether it’s through a text message every few days or a Facebook post. Your friends and family care about you so let them know you’re alive every now and then.
A few tips
- Always keep some cash in the car. I paid almost everything during my last road trip with debit and credit cards. The only time I actually needed cash was when I started driving through toll booths out east. In the west we don’t have them but in the east they are everywhere. You will quickly learn to hate them in a hurry.
- Make sure your credit and debit cards are current. It’s really embarrassing stopping to fill up on gas only to realize your card expired two days ago and you’re still a thousand miles from your destination.
- If you don’t have a smart phone get a smartphone. These days smartphones are invaluable for navigating, keeping track of the correct time zone (there are three in the continental US), urban maps and simple communication. I mean, when was the last time you actually used a payphone, or for that matter even saw a working payphone?
- Pick up stuff along the way. You don’t have to worry about fitting souvenirs into your suitcase on this trip because you’ll have plenty of room in the back of your car.
- Go with the flow. Unexpected crap is going to happen. So you should always have the time and money to deal with it. While driving from north Idaho to Salt Lake City Utah last fall my car died in the middle of the freeway and I had no idea why. It turned out to be a clogged fuel filter that was a $20 fix (and a $100 town) but I ended up spending the night in a small town, having a few cheap drinks and making some new friends for the evening.