As you may have noticed from my post, Holiday Road, I am a big fan of road trips. Here are some tips that will help you get started on planning your own mini-adventure.
After our Route 66 trip, Bryan and I started pondering our next road trip destination. We debated going through South Dakota to see Deadwood and maybe even real wild buffalo, or doing a jaunt up the California coast. After a discussion of cities that we had always wanted to visit, as well as wanting to go to New Orleans to visit our good friend Daneel, we settled on a road trip through the South. This decision also served the purpose of checking off a bucket list item for me – visiting Savannah.
When I was in college, my dear friend Amy and I were not like all the other girls. While most of our friends were swooning over Ben Affleck or Matt Damon, Amy and I were infatuated with Kevin Spacey. I will pause here to give you a moment to laugh that out. Because of that infatuation, we ended up watching “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” together, and from that moment on, I decided it was my destiny to visit Savannah at least once in my life.
Ok, so we have the region picked. Now what?
Step 1: Look at a map. It’s been a while since I have taken geography, so I thought it might be a good idea to ensure that Savannah and New Orleans were both possible to cover during a road trip. So, Step 1…check.
Step 2: Tell everyone you know. Why? Well in our case, when we told my dad about our plans, he suggested we visit what became one of our favorite cities, Charleston, SC. We never would have chosen that stop if it weren’t for his suggestion. I also found out that a good friend at work has a sister that lives in Savannah, so she sent me lists of information on tours, restaurants, hotels and general tips that she recommended (as well as places to avoid). You would be surprised who might have interesting information about where you are going, or tips on places that you can’t miss. There is nothing better than a personal recommendation.
Step 3: Finalize your route. Once you have your list of recommendations, revisit that map that you looked at in Step 1. Use a map service like Google or AAA TripTik to devise how you might travel that route and then do some research on the in-between parts that you aren’t familiar with. In our case, we knew that we would start in Charleston, go to Savannah, and somehow end up in New Orleans. By doing some research, and knowing that I wanted to see as many plantations as possible, we decided that the in-between would be heading up the Antebellum Trail to hopefully catch some historical sections of the pre-Civil War South, spending a night in Athens, GA (home to the University of Georgia), then a night in Montgomery, AL before getting to New Orleans. The route ensured that we would be in the car no longer than five hours on any day, allowing for spontaneous stops at any “Worlds Largest Ball of Yarn” or “World’s Best Peach Pie” sites we might encounter.
Step 4: Start booking. If you are the type of person that could simply book your plane and then wing it when you get there, thus having a truly spontaneous experience, I admire you and you should go for it. As you will learn, I am a bit OCD and not capable of that kind of “letting go.” So, if you are like me, what you will want to do next is book your plane, car, and hotels. I found that Yelp and TripAdvisor (or whatever trip website you prefer) were excellent in determining where we should stay. In all cases except New Orleans, we had never been to any of the cities. We didn’t know where the city center was or where a good place to stay would be.
To determine that, I looked at what the hotels were near, and in our case, we always wanted to be near the historic district. I then scoured my travel site of choice looking for ratings and reviews on hotels. In all cases but one, my husband was wowing at how well I did on the booking. You will have your flops, but those can give you fun memories too. Again, this IS an adventure, right?
Step 5: Stop planning. After I booked the major things (ensuring we had passage to and through our trip as well as a roof over our heads each night), I stopped. This is BIG for me. Usually I would have all the details planned, restaurants researched etc., but I reminded myself that this was supposed to be a fluid trip, where we planned as we went, so I didn’t think about the trip again (other than packing) until we got there. In the future I will show you how Yelp and the Concierge in your hotel are your new best friends when it comes to this type of travel.
So, in five easy steps, you can now get started on planning your very own tour de (insert where you are going here).
Adventure is out there!