Taking a road trip can be fun, but it takes a lot of planning as well. There may be unforeseen circumstances and scenarios that will present themselves. It’s just the way it is when traveling. Being flexible is the key to having a great time despite any hiccups. But by planning properly you can avoid potential mishaps.
I recently traveled to the New England states. I thought that I had everything planned out down to every single detail. But I ran into a few snags with directions, cell phone coverage, language barriers, and funds because of currency. Oh, but had I planned a bit more I could have avoided most of the above issues. Read on for a list of things I knew but failed to consider for this trip. Travel lessons learned.
When you visit an area going from point A to point B, point B to C, having things mapped out will help you stay on track. You need to know how much time you will spend at the first location, how much time it will take to get the to next stop, when to break for food, etc. A proper itinerary will help you maximize the day so you can enjoy the sights and places you scheduled to see. The bonus of a well-planned trip is the chance to research and get admission and other stuff for a discount. There’s Groupon or AAA; if you visit some museums they have specific days and times where you can often get in for free. If you know in advance, you can schedule your visit around it.
Cell Phone Coverage:
If you know that you’ll be traveling on the road, it’s best to check coverage ahead of time. Most mobile phone companies generally have maps of their coverage area provided online. Signals are likely to be weak in densely populated areas, so if you are aware before your trip, it’s a plus. I went past the US Border to Canada on this journey; my Verizon plan didn’t include anything outside of the US. So my phone was roaming. They offer a 24-hour plan that I gladly accepted via text messaging. The TravelPass was triggered by International talk, text, or data for two bucks per day. I ended up in a McDonald’s using free Wifi for directions, ha!
That leads me to the next one, GPS. When you know that you’ll be on the road and especially after checking your cell phone carrier coverage determine if you’ll need a GPS device. Most newer cars come equipped with them installed. If you have an older car or a rental that doesn’t have the luxury, pay the extra fee or upgrade the vehicle to one that includes the feature. Trust me. It is better to have a system that is working than no coverage using your maps app on your phone. If you travel enough and utilize a car that doesn’t have GPS, then you should probably just invest in one and bring it if you decide to rent.
Being fluent in the language of the location you visit is a stretch, but knowing the basics are a must. I suggest typing out basic words and phonetic spellings for proper pronunciation to refer to during your trip. You may try a French for Dummies book on PDF (or whatever language applies), the Rosetta Stone beginning chapters, or some other option to assist the possible language barrier. I did horribly in Montreal; my French is not that of when I studied in college.
If you hit foreign land, make sure you have the proper funds. This is typically the research you’d do in the planning process of course. Funny thing is I didn’t think about it when I crossed over to Canada during my New England states tour. The plan was to hop over from Vermont and go to Montreal for a few hours. I had my passport. However, I had US dollars, no cell phone plan to accommodate Canada and my French, though reviewed, was a laughing matter.
Renting a car? Make sure you READ SIGNS, properly pay meters, just don’t get tickets when you travel. Clearly, you never want to get a ticket; it can be especially difficult if you get one in a borrowed car. If indeed you slip up, pay the ticket well in advance of the due date and make sure you call the rental company to verify that everything is good. There are fees associated with the company if they have to pay the ticket for you past the original due date. In essence, you stand to get penalized twice for one ticket.
When you know better, you do better. Take it from me- overlooking things or simply not adhering to them could cost you. The more you plan and prepare the more you can enjoy your time on the road. The adventure awaits.
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