There is something magical about the combination of summer and a road trip. From the crystal clear mirages that appear in the distance on freeways and the sunny days that seem to stretch on forever to the promise of finding adventure on the open road, many of us are definitely dreaming about hitting the road.
While the desire to get out and see the glory of the U.S. on four wheels is there, some people might be unsure how to build upon this yearning. With that in mind, check out the following tips, starting with how to prepare for road trips of any length and ending with some stellar suggestions.
Prepare Your Car — and Yourself
Nothing will spell disaster for a road trip like pulling over on the side of the road in the relentless heat, trying to figure out why your engine is belching more steam than Old Faithful. To prevent this from happening, Independent Traveler suggests taking your trusty vehicle in for a bumper-to-bumper checkup about a week before you head out. Make sure your mechanic checks the tires, changes the oil, inspects the filters, and gives the engine an overall tune-up.
In addition, check to see your spare tire is properly filled with air and that you can locate the jack in your trunk. Since the risk of being in an accident can increase when traveling in unfamiliar territory, take some time to review different traffic laws from state to state on a reputable website like driving-tests.org. Spending a few hours checking out the rules of the road in the states in which you plan to travel can also help you avoid getting a pricey ticket.
Finally, give the inside and outside of your car a good cleaning, stock up on road trip beverages and snacks — animal crackers and corn nuts, perhaps? — and fill your iPod with plenty of tunes. Now, here are a few classic summer road trip ideas:
Amazing Four Corners Wonders
Yes, Arizona is hot in the summer. But it’s also chock full of amazing sights and scenery, and a lot of hotels lower their rates when the temperature hits triple digits. Whether you live in Phoenix, Tucson, Payson or Flagstaff, get thyself to Page in the northern part of the state. Page is like the hub of an imaginary wheel, with several amazing scenic “spokes” located about two hours away. Depending on how much time you have, plan day trips to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley or Zion National Park. Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell are in or near Page, and are also incredibly beautiful and worthy of being included on your road trip.
U.S. Route 9, New York
Travel + Leisure included the 300-mile route from Delaware to the Canadian border on its list of America’s Best Road Trips — and for good reason. Specifically, a 57-mile stretch of road in lower New York is filled with iconic summer-time stops, including fresh produce stands on the side of the road. Start your journey in Poughkeepsie and head north to Valatie. The round trip can easily be done in a day, but if you have the time, consider checking out the full 300-mile stretch.
Portland to the Washington Peninsula
If you live close to the City of Roses, vary your summer journey to the coast a bit by heading to the peninsula at the southwestern tip of Washington. Make your way to Astoria and take the Astoria-Megler bridge — it’s huge, so you won’t miss it — over the Columbia River. The peninsula features about 28 miles of incredible beaches filled with sand dollars and small towns like Ilwaco and Long Beach, home to the must-see Marsh’s Free Museum.