While working on my Route 66 website, I found myself reflecting on random pieces of advice about highway travel that I couldn't place elsewhere. So here are my top ten pieces of wisdom for anyone planning to drive Route 66 (or any lengthy stretch of the road).
1. Try to avoid renting a car with a rear spoiler. It obscures your view and looks kind of stupid.
2. Whether at a fine restaurant or at a greasy spoon, overtip your server. Don't make a scene about it; just leave a couple more bucks than you would normally. On the road, you need all the good karma you can get.
3. Don't buy all your souvenirs in one place; grab a couple every day. That way you help lots of local businesses and get more opportunities to meet cool people.
4. Pack half as much as you think you'll need. Spend your time getting your kicks, not hauling heavy bags.
5. Make copies of your credit card and personal identification information (front and back). And keep those copies away from the originals. You won't need them - until you do.
6. Never eat at some place on the road that you could visit at home. Avoid chain restaurants and other familiar places. Try for something new and unique with every stop.
7. Send postcards. Even in this age of instant communications, everyone loves to receive a physical souvenir from the road. Buy a book of postcard stamps and use every one of them before returning home.
8. Abandon the desire for everything to be "perfect." Unforeseen changes in weather, itinerary, health, and the like happen. They're inevitable. Find value in where you are and the people with whom you share time.
9. Remember that few people care that you're "on vacation." People you meet along the road tend to live near by, and few get as many chances to travel as you. Talk less, listen more, and remember that the world doesn't revolve around your grand adventure.
10. Write something about your trip every day. Be specific and detailed about where you go, whom you meet, and what you do. Otherwise you'll look back a couple of weeks later and have only hazy memories where crisp recollections should be.
Got travel tips of your own to share? Post a comment!