This past summer, I had the opportunity to take an amazing road trip from Alabama to Colorado! I visited fourteen American states, visited tons of family and friends after a long year of COVID. I had a ball re-discovering America. In this first blog of the series, I’m going to share my itinerary and highlights along the way. However, over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing more detailed information of each place I discovered.
CHANGE IN PLANS
Originally, I was supposed to be heading Germany to visit family in June and stay for a nice long time, unfortunately, due to COVID travel restrictions, those were kiboshed, so I re-routed my plans. Fully vaccinated and masks in tow, I was ready to hit the American roads. My family is very big. I knew between my military family and my extended family, I could crash a few nights along the way. Also, I drive a hybrid Kia Nero, so it only costs about $25 to fill my tank and I get about 500 miles to a tank! It’s true.
Making a Plan
First of all, you need to plan the route. For this road trip, it was relatively easy, because I had planned to take a X-Country road trip to roam America in an electric car in March of 2020. But, as we all know… ad nauseum, 2020 was a bit challenging for life in general, right? If you live in the “travel” world, it was something like living in the upside down, like Stranger Things. So I’m one for making lemonade out of lemons.
How I planned my route?
- Drive no more than 6 hours a day
- Stops along the way for resting and potty breaks
- Planned “where to eat” along the way (I’m now Vegan/Vegetarian) makes it tough on the road, but not so tough, just wait for that blog!
- What to pack? Needed to pack for all kinds of weather including hiking because I was heading to Colorado after all!
- Create a calendar of info (on spreadsheet or a doc)
- Travel route by car
- Where you’re staying (how long)
- Restaurants and food
- Sites to see
I love doing research when traveling to new places, and YES! I spend hours reading and scoping over the internet, books and chats with trusted friends on where I should go, don’t miss or totally skip. It’s part of the adventure too, when you happen upon a new find. I found several of those on this road trip, so stick with me.
Road Trip Family & Friends
Like most people in the travel industry 2020 for our businesses took a massive hit to the juggler, so I knew I also couldn’t spend a fortune on this adventure. I reached out to my peeps and ended up having the most amazing visits with family and friends I haven’t seen in years from being stationed in Germany and COVID.
Don’t be afraid to ask? I’ve had a few friends say they didn’t want to imposition people by asking to spend a night or two with them along a journey. PLEASE ASK! I’m telling you, your people want to see you. I always assure them too, I’m not looking for dust bunnies, who cares about that? I just want to see your smiling face and it turns out, they want to see mine too.
TAKE A GIFT! I always bring a gift when staying with family or friends. You don’t have to go hog wild, bring a candle or some flowers or I brought some fun spices, BBQ stuff and 1818 Farms lotions and Piper and Leaf Tea from Alabama (supporting local businesses)
Other accommodations along the way
For this road trip adventure, I used a combination of Airbnb and Booking.com mostly because I wasn’t quite sure what the policies were going to be in the middle of COVID. In America, traveling cross-country is a little tricky, every state is governed separately so mandates have been different so, I needed to do a lot of research as to “what was what.”
I love staying in unique and extraordinary stays when I travel even if it means staying on the outskirts of town or off-the-beaten path. So be sure to stay with this itinerary because we (my friend Melissa and I) stayed in a Pueblo in New Mexico, a “tiny house” in Texas, a renovated old “saloon” type hotel in Oklahoma and a few others.
Building your itinerary
Everyone travels differently. I have figured this much out. If you haven’t taken my fun, interactive travel personality test yet, hop on over on this website and do that! One of the most important elements I try to remember when building an itinerary is TIME ⏱! I get as excited as the next person to see as much as I possibly can. However I have learned unless you stop and smell the roses along the way, you will wipe yourself out and feel more exhausted than before you left. Time is super important.
Consequently, when you are “filling your days” remember your transportation travel. How long is your driving each day? I break up the travel by creating stops along the way that might be worth a stop, eat and potty break.
After recommendations from both followers and family that this is a MUST – SEE in Nebraska, I began then searching for places to eat within walking distance of the Capitol.
For instance, while traveling from Iowa through Nebraska to Denver, I decided to break my day up by stopping in Lincoln, Nebraska to see their gorgeous Capitol building and have a vegan bite to eat. Here’s Rutabagas Comfort Food! Follow me on GoogleMaps for more REVIEWS!
Plan for contingencies – OOPS!
The best laid plans of mice and men, right! This can happen to the best of us because travel is unpredictable. You can’t control the weather, road construction, local holidays, unexpected closings or the fun surprises, local festivals, parades, charming restaurants because yours was closed. These are my favorite oops. Jon says “Sometimes you walk backwards into dog poop and come out smelling like a rose.” He is right, this does happen quite often, but I also think its your outlook.
You can be disappointed that the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays when you arrive or enjoy a not so popular Picasso Museum, just a 20 minute walk away. OUTLOOK!
On this trip, I had an oops! One of the Bed and Breakfasts I was staying had a family emergency and had to close for the weekend. I decided to head on to Colorado and had an extra day of visit with my friend Melissa. So I just drove on. I drove through a Colorado sunset that I would have missed and that would have been a shame.
One of the best travel tips I can ever give is to “enjoy the ride,” literally and metaphorically. Life is short and I totally learned that this past year, I think a lot of us have. Who knew this world wide hiccup with change the trajectory of future travel forever. No one saw this coming, so enjoy the lemonade, depending on how you make it, it can be too sour or too sweet.