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Old 08-15-2008, 02:01 PM
 
Location: London, ON, Canada
156 posts, read 582,450 times
Reputation: 141

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Hi all,

For months now I've had an incredible desire to take a roadtrip through Middle America and see those places people don't often see. There are several reasons for why I want to, but the main reason is to just get away from things up here right now. I'm still young, 19, but I just need some time to myself and kind of, I guess, escape my everyday life for a while.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking; it sounds pretty corny, not very thought out, almost overly optimistic. But its something I've been meaning to do for several months now, and I am just not sure of the best way to do it. How do I plan something like this? I want to try and visit the small towns and take the back roads, maybe find some hidden jems, places that other may not have even heard of.

Basically, I'm just wondering a few things; is it possible? It is wise to go alone? I've travelled to the UK and Scotland and backpacked alone earlier this summer, so I'm fairly confident in being on my own, but is it safe? Smart? And if so, how do I even get started? Any tips? Any advice?

Any information, tips, personal experience stories, and suggestions are appreciated. I do not know for how long, or exactly where, but I ahve a few places in mind.

Thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it! Take care,

Dan Goldberg
Dreamer...
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Old 08-15-2008, 03:01 PM
 
Location: Central Nebraska
1,821 posts, read 4,637,203 times
Reputation: 5065
Hey stotan88, I live in middle america (you might remember me from the Nebraska forum), I don't think you really need to worry to much about safety other than common sense types of things. Lock your car and bring your things into the hotel with you, don't drive tired, etc...

I travel middle america alot, I have to go through it to get anyway. My advice would be to have AAA or some type of roadside assitance in case of a break down in the middle of no where. Also AAA can save you money at hotels and other places. Another good way to save money on hotels is pick up coupon books in gas stations and travel stops, you can find some good deals in there.

As for starting to plan, set a budget first then see how many days you can afford to go. Then plan your route from there. Once you figure out what places you want to go visit then come back on city data and get more information about them.
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Old 08-15-2008, 05:10 PM
 
404 posts, read 1,170,573 times
Reputation: 562
How do I plan something like this? I want to try and visit the small towns and take the back roads, maybe find some hidden jems, places that other may not have even heard of.

First, assuming you'll be driving, be sure you have dependable transportation. Nothing could be worse than breaking down and not knowing where to get help. Second, get yourself a good map. Navigation system is a good idea, but not really necessary. Third, have more money available than you think you'll need. But don't carry a lot with you. A cell phone is a good item to have, though coverage may not be available in many of the rural areas.

Basically, I'm just wondering a few things; is it possible? It is wise to go alone? I've travelled to the UK and Scotland and backpacked alone earlier this summer, so I'm fairly confident in being on my own, but is it safe? Smart? And if so, how do I even get started? Any tips? Any advice?

Yes, is possible, and being alone will give you a lot of time to think! But don't be too alone, perhaps set up a phone-in system with a relative or good friend -- let someone know where you are and where you're going. It's safe as long a you use common sense. Don't advertise that you're alone. If you're talking about backpacking across America, that may be a different situation. Same rules, but very dependent on changes in weather and such - and much slower .


Any information, tips, personal experience stories, and suggestions are appreciated. I do not know for how long, or exactly where, but I ahve a few places in mind.

I drove an 18-wheeler by myself accross the county over and over. Many times, I was asked if I was afraid on my own -- I never was, but I was always careful and I never had any problems. The best solution is not to put yourself in a bad situation. If you make yourself a plan, or have some type of "road map" in your head, you won't have any problem. Always expect the unexpected, and most important, always be safe. I am sure you will enjoy your trip and the solitude. Good luck, Dan.

Oh, and come back and let us know how it went!

..[/quote]
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Old 08-16-2008, 05:28 PM
 
Location: London, ON, Canada
156 posts, read 582,450 times
Reputation: 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by tpabes View Post
Hey stotan88, I live in middle america (you might remember me from the Nebraska forum), I don't think you really need to worry to much about safety other than common sense types of things. Lock your car and bring your things into the hotel with you, don't drive tired, etc...

I travel middle america alot, I have to go through it to get anyway. My advice would be to have AAA or some type of roadside assitance in case of a break down in the middle of no where. Also AAA can save you money at hotels and other places. Another good way to save money on hotels is pick up coupon books in gas stations and travel stops, you can find some good deals in there.

As for starting to plan, set a budget first then see how many days you can afford to go. Then plan your route from there. Once you figure out what places you want to go visit then come back on city data and get more information about them.
Thank you so much for the advice!! And yes I do remember you I will definitely make use of everything you said! Oh, and I tried giving you some "rep points" but it said I 'need to spread some reputation around before giving it to tpabes again!" lol. :P

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ynot View Post

First, assuming you'll be driving, be sure you have dependable transportation. Nothing could be worse than breaking down and not knowing where to get help. Second, get yourself a good map. Navigation system is a good idea, but not really necessary. Third, have more money available than you think you'll need. But don't carry a lot with you. A cell phone is a good item to have, though coverage may not be available in many of the rural areas.

Yes, is possible, and being alone will give you a lot of time to think! But don't be too alone, perhaps set up a phone-in system with a relative or good friend -- let someone know where you are and where you're going. It's safe as long a you use common sense. Don't advertise that you're alone. If you're talking about backpacking across America, that may be a different situation. Same rules, but very dependent on changes in weather and such - and much slower .

I drove an 18-wheeler by myself accross the county over and over. Many times, I was asked if I was afraid on my own -- I never was, but I was always careful and I never had any problems. The best solution is not to put yourself in a bad situation. If you make yourself a plan, or have some type of "road map" in your head, you won't have any problem. Always expect the unexpected, and most important, always be safe. I am sure you will enjoy your trip and the solitude. Good luck, Dan.

Oh, and come back and let us know how it went!

..
[/quote]

Excellent information! Thank you so much. You information is really good to know and I will definitely use it when it comes time to go

As well, I was wondering how most road trips are planned. Are they usually very thought-out and with specific destinations in mind? I have really no "specific" place I want to visit, but I have certain areas in mind that may interest me. How difficult is it to find accommodation without reservations beforehand, especially in more remote areas? Or should I plan it out as much as possible?
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Old 08-17-2008, 08:52 PM
 
Location: Sherman Oaks, CA
6,239 posts, read 15,440,564 times
Reputation: 8108
I would think that if you're going to a remote area with only a few towns scattered here and there with no tourist attractions or festivals to lure people (and therefore fill up all available hotel rooms!), you should be fine. I'd only make sure that the town is big enough to have at least one or two hotels, and that you might try to get an idea of how nice or run down the place is. I wouldn't want to drive for six hours, stop at my hotel for the night, and be reminded of Norman Bates!

I also wouldn't mention where your next stay is going to be (too many weirdos out there who might want to follow you and take advantage). In addition, I wouldn't drive at night in unfamiliar territory, because it's too easy to get lost.

Be sure to gas up whenever you have the chance, no matter how expensive it is. GPS is good, but nothing beats a good, old-fashioned map!

Best of luck; it sounds like fun. I went on a road trip from L.A. to Reno, and then from Reno to Salem, Oregon, and then from Salem back to L.A. That was a lot of driving!!!
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Old 08-18-2008, 11:14 AM
 
Location: Bethel, Alaska
21,362 posts, read 33,038,527 times
Reputation: 13765
Go for it. I might be taking a road trip from Alaska to South Carolina in October alone. I've driving down and back from Alaska alone four times and everything was fine. Just remember to bring as much music as you can load into your ipod, or lots of cd's.
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Old 08-18-2008, 01:17 PM
 
Location: London, ON, Canada
156 posts, read 582,450 times
Reputation: 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by SandyCo View Post
I would think that if you're going to a remote area with only a few towns scattered here and there with no tourist attractions or festivals to lure people (and therefore fill up all available hotel rooms!), you should be fine. I'd only make sure that the town is big enough to have at least one or two hotels, and that you might try to get an idea of how nice or run down the place is. I wouldn't want to drive for six hours, stop at my hotel for the night, and be reminded of Norman Bates!

I also wouldn't mention where your next stay is going to be (too many weirdos out there who might want to follow you and take advantage). In addition, I wouldn't drive at night in unfamiliar territory, because it's too easy to get lost.

Be sure to gas up whenever you have the chance, no matter how expensive it is. GPS is good, but nothing beats a good, old-fashioned map!

Best of luck; it sounds like fun. I went on a road trip from L.A. to Reno, and then from Reno to Salem, Oregon, and then from Salem back to L.A. That was a lot of driving!!!
Good point! I will mostly be visiting the places people don't often see or go to, so hotel bookings wouldn't be too much of a problem. I guess I was just thinking of the "what-if", you know?

As much as a good map is very handy, I'd probably bring my father's GPS along with me, just in case. It has gotten me many to many places quickly and easily, and I'd just feel much mroe comfortable with one.

Gas is one thing I'm worried about too. How difficult is it to find gas stations in parts of Middle-America? I hate to sound naive, but does a town of, lets say 1000 most likely have a gas station in it? I know I sound very ignorant about Middle-America, but that is why I want to visit it, because it intrigues me and I want to learn more about the palces people don't often hear about

Thanks so much for the information, I truly appreciate it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by warptman View Post
Go for it. I might be taking a road trip from Alaska to South Carolina in October alone. I've driving down and back from Alaska alone four times and everything was fine. Just remember to bring as much music as you can load into your ipod, or lots of cd's.
That sounds great!! Do you have any advice on how to plan a route for your roadtrips? Or do you just follow the quickest way there and back each time you go?

And lastly, does anyone have any suggestions of interesting places to see in, perhaps, ND, SD, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, etc? Where would be a good place to do some research for something like this?

Thanks as always
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Old 08-18-2008, 01:38 PM
 
Location: NE philadelphia
550 posts, read 1,849,425 times
Reputation: 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by stotan88 View Post
Good point! I will mostly be visiting the places people don't often see or go to, so hotel bookings wouldn't be too much of a problem. I guess I was just thinking of the "what-if", you know?

As much as a good map is very handy, I'd probably bring my father's GPS along with me, just in case. It has gotten me many to many places quickly and easily, and I'd just feel much mroe comfortable with one.

Gas is one thing I'm worried about too. How difficult is it to find gas stations in parts of Middle-America? I hate to sound naive, but does a town of, lets say 1000 most likely have a gas station in it? I know I sound very ignorant about Middle-America, but that is why I want to visit it, because it intrigues me and I want to learn more about the palces people don't often hear about

Thanks so much for the information, I truly appreciate it!



That sounds great!! Do you have any advice on how to plan a route for your roadtrips? Or do you just follow the quickest way there and back each time you go?

And lastly, does anyone have any suggestions of interesting places to see in, perhaps, ND, SD, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, etc? Where would be a good place to do some research for something like this?

Thanks as always
check out the forums of the specific places you want to visit!
since i'm biased, include MI...here is a route you should take...(if you are driving!!!)
drive through ohio south and west to Kentucky-if you have time hit up mammoth cave in Kentucky keep driving west from there through Missouri and then to Kansas and Nebraska. After Nebraska head over to Colorado and do all you want to do there....head north from there to wyoming then onto SD then ND continue on through Minnesota then Northern WI then through the UP see some untouched beauty there! then back down through michigan-being sure to stop at cheboygan (my hometown town of 5,000) then onto London
yes a town of 1,000 will have a gas station, might be more expensive, but like someone said if you see relative cheap gas somewhere fill-up if you know you'll be driving through no-mans land for awhile! and buy a $5 rand mcnally atlas just to help if you decide to change your route...
good luck!
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Old 08-18-2008, 10:10 PM
 
Location: London, ON, Canada
156 posts, read 582,450 times
Reputation: 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by mofromcheboygankalamazoo View Post
check out the forums of the specific places you want to visit!
since i'm biased, include MI...here is a route you should take...(if you are driving!!!)
drive through ohio south and west to Kentucky-if you have time hit up mammoth cave in Kentucky keep driving west from there through Missouri and then to Kansas and Nebraska. After Nebraska head over to Colorado and do all you want to do there....head north from there to wyoming then onto SD then ND continue on through Minnesota then Northern WI then through the UP see some untouched beauty there! then back down through michigan-being sure to stop at cheboygan (my hometown town of 5,000) then onto London
yes a town of 1,000 will have a gas station, might be more expensive, but like someone said if you see relative cheap gas somewhere fill-up if you know you'll be driving through no-mans land for awhile! and buy a $5 rand mcnally atlas just to help if you decide to change your route...
good luck!
Wonderful! That route sounds great! I have already been to the Mammoth Caves, absolutely incredible to say the least.

And you're absolutely right, I should look at the specific state forums in the first place :S lol. I guess maybe I was just hoping this would reach a broader range of people.

Any other tips on how to plan a roadtrip route? I assume that part of a roadtrip is spontaneity; how in depth should I plan it? I could see myself perhaps liking one place a lot and spending time there longer than I first thought, or visa-versa. Should I stick to a strict plan, or just sort of wing it? Any past-experiences form others?
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Old 08-19-2008, 01:55 AM
 
300 posts, read 1,106,994 times
Reputation: 113
Quote:
Originally Posted by stotan88 View Post
Hi all,

For months now I've had an incredible desire to take a roadtrip through Middle America and see those places people don't often see. There are several reasons for why I want to, but the main reason is to just get away from things up here right now. I'm still young, 19, but I just need some time to myself and kind of, I guess, escape my everyday life for a while.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking; it sounds pretty corny, not very thought out, almost overly optimistic. But its something I've been meaning to do for several months now, and I am just not sure of the best way to do it. How do I plan something like this? I want to try and visit the small towns and take the back roads, maybe find some hidden jems, places that other may not have even heard of.

Basically, I'm just wondering a few things; is it possible? It is wise to go alone? I've travelled to the UK and Scotland and backpacked alone earlier this summer, so I'm fairly confident in being on my own, but is it safe? Smart? And if so, how do I even get started? Any tips? Any advice?

Any information, tips, personal experience stories, and suggestions are appreciated. I do not know for how long, or exactly where, but I ahve a few places in mind.

Thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it! Take care,

Dan Goldberg
Dreamer...
I've driven all sorts of places alone and come back to tell the tale. I think the scariest was going down a one-lane wooden bridge in a rental car in the middle of the night over some unnamed lake in the middle of absolute nowhere Quebec to try and get some nice night pictures.

It is a little unnerving to look down at your GPS screen and it says you're in the middle of a lake with no road anywhere in sight.

As for middle-america, I wouldn't plan on going when it's cold. Early fall would be a good time. It's not so hot and humid, and you don't have the risk of sudden bad weather like you do the rest of the year. If you break down, trust me, AAA or not, if it's not snowing sideways at you, it's MUCH BETTER.

Another tip for traveling alone: take a cell phone with you. You don't even have to have a contract for the phone to be useful. You can always dial 911 on a cell phone and get connected to an operator, contract or not.

I usually don't let my gas tank get below 1/2 empty unless I'm positive I'm going to be near a larger city, during normal hours, to fill up.

Carry some (not a lot) of cash for emergencies. Odd things happen. Sometimes you need money in non-plastic form.

Other than that, have fun. Depending on what you want to see/do, sometimes it's fun to just pick a direction for the day, hour, afternoon, etc and just drive that way to see what you find. It's a different experience to travel without expectations, and almost always enjoyable (for me at least).
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