Whooo… the last three weeks have been a doozy of road-trippin’ goodness. I am so happy to be back in my own bed, but am already missing the gorgeous countryside views and fun pit stops along the over 6,300-mile excursion—not to mention, the warm waters of the Atlantic. For those that follow me on instagram, I tried to reign in the number of photos I posted per day as not to annoy everyone! If not, I thought I’d jot down a few of my thoughts of a near three-week excursion crossing into 14 different states. I am also working on a post with some of my favorite destinations, as well as a list of those I wished we’d had time for. (You can view all the instagram’s from the trip #thompsonsgocoasttocoast.)
SOME THOUGHTS ON HITTING THE ROAD:
•01• Favorite snacks: dried apricots, mangos, bananas; trail mix; lots of water (the heat coupled with pregnancy made me a camel on this trip!); root beer floats (a pregnancy craving that also helped keep me cool); and peanut butter pretzels.
•02• Find (nice) rest areas. Often the first (or last) rest area in a state is also the visitor center and seemed to have the nicest “accommodations”, if you will.
•03• Don’t forget to account for the time change between time zones. Oops! Clearly an amateur move on my part; most of our road trips have all been within the same time zone, so I have never worried about it. This time it backfired on us a few times—arriving to campsites too late/in the dark, missing museum/monument hours, etc etc.
•04• California’s gas is expensive. In some states, gas was almost a dollar less per gallon. This kept us below our budget, which was a delightful surprise.
•05• Find at least one fun/quirky/inspiring stop per day. Since we had to cover a lot of ground in a rather short period of time, we really looked forward to our stops. One day it was a local barbeque restaurant where we could try and compare one of our favorite cuisines (our favorite in all the south was B’s Barbecue in Greenville), or a roadside oddity which made for fun stories and instax pics, or a state park/monument where we could admire the gorgeous landscape and scenery. It kept things interesting, and had we had more time, we would have stopped much more frequently!
•06• Utilize travel apps. Yelp!, Priceline, and the Roadtrippers apps were loaded regularly throughout the trip. When time allowed, we wanted to dine at local hot-spots, so Yelp! was incredibly helpful for that. While we had planned our nights out prior, there were some hiccups along the way, like a hail/flash flood storm in Amarillo, Texas which prevented us from arriving at our campsite; Priceline’s express deals worked great for us as it allowed us to find hotel deals and ensure they allowed pets since Hazel was with us. Roadtrippers was full of fun roadside suggestions when we needed to get out and stretch our legs.
•07• Be flexible. As stated above, weather, time changes, pregnancy-related stops, etc. all affected our trip’s course and arrival times. Many plans fell victim, but we were able to find other sites/bites/routes to keep us on track for our overall timeline.
•08• People in the south are so friendly. Southern hospitality is still going strong; we were constantly commenting on how nice people were to us. So refreshing!
•09• Take a few (or a lot of) scenic routes, should timing allow. When we could diverge from I-40 and I-10, we would. The monotony of the interstates started to blur the lines between states and we loved finding smaller highways/routes to keep things memorable.
•09• Traveling with a dog is great. It did present its own challenges though. There were many stops where dogs were not allowed on the trails and it was much to hot to keep her in the car while we explored. If we could, we’d jump out for a quick view, but often, just had to continue on our way—another example of being flexible. We’d rather have Hazel with us, but we definitely have a few spots on our wish-list for next time, sans dog.
•10• America is beautiful—get out and explore it! Each state/region had something unique to offer and we felt so blessed to have been able to survey America’s south—from west to east—before mini Stets’ arrival.