Some Travel Tips We’ve Learned, The Good AND The Bad!
I’ll preface this by saying I’ve always enjoyed traveling. I like having a base somewhere but get antsy quickly if I’m in the same place for too long. How long is “too long” you ask? Well, that’s the subjective part. Sometimes brief day trips are sufficient to satisfy my gypsy urge for a week or two. Other times longer trips are the only thing that works.
Travel success involves many variables and yours won’t be the same as mine. My criteria when I was raising a young family was quite different from my current criteria traveling as part of a retired couple.
Sleeping Requirements Differ In Your 20’s And Your 60’s
My current list includes sleeping in a bed each night as opposed to the tent camping, sleeping on the ground, that we did when the kids were young. Peeing out behind a bush someplace is also OFF the list these days. Pretty much I expect to have a bathroom, preferably a CLEAN one!
Restaurants? Lots Of Options In New Locales
With only the two of us, it’s much less expensive to eat at restaurants than in the days when I was feeding a young family that seemed to eat non-stop!! Checking out a variety of restaurants in our travels is fun and has expanded our dining experiences. Google Maps and Trip Advisor are our “go to” sites for reviews of restaurants when we pull into a new area.
If we are towing the 5th wheel our options for local restaurants become significantly diminished because of the parking issues. Cracker Barrel Restaurants are one chain where we know we can find sufficient parking for the RV. It doesn’t take very many trips towing a 38’ rig before you get pretty good at scouting out places like Cracker Barrel. They advertise large parking spaces and a willingness to allow RV’ers to park in their lots overnight.
Warning Signs Or The Lack Thereof
The amount and variety of warning signs varies widely state to state. We’ve noticed that Washington State has warning signs for everything except your hangnail. Utah, on the other hand, has very few warning signs. Most states that we’ve visited fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.
Actual road and traffic conditions also run the gambit from very good to very bad. Seattle, WA? Wretched traffic issues every day and pretty much every hour of every day. Seattle simply doesn’t have sufficient lanes of travel for the amount of travelers/commuters. Gridlock is the result. Salt Lake City, UT and Phoenix, AZ are two cities that planned their freeways well. They have a sufficient number of lanes to handle the flow nicely. It’s also possible for through traffic to circumvent the main part of the city.
The Wide Variety Of Rest Areas
Rest areas are an amenity that varies widely state to state. Washington State has a sufficient number of state owned/operated rest areas on the major highways. We have always found these to be clean and well supplied. Parking lots are easy to get in/out even when towing our 5th wheel. We have found the same to be true with Oregon State.
Not until we started traveling further south into Utah and Arizona had we ever seen a “picnic table” pull off. These are simply a pull out with a covered picnic table and a garbage can. No bathroom. No amenities of any kind except this picnic table out in the middle of nowhere. Who thought this was a good plan? When I traveled with young children and now as a retired person, when I stop I want a bathroom available.
Some states have “state” rest stops that are run in conjunction with a convenience store/fast food place. That idea may save operation funds for the state? In theory it works fine but it isn’t always the best option for those travelers in large rigs. The parking lots for these “combined” ventures are often not large and RV parking isn’t provided.
Service Stations That Get A Thumbs Up From Us!
Flying J, Pilot and Love service stations we have found to all be excellent. They have sufficient parking for big rigs. Typically it is easy to get the big rigs in and out of their lots. They also top my list because we’ve consistently found that they have well stocked and CLEAN restrooms. That’s a pretty big deal when you are on the road for multiple days.
So there’s our “good” and “bad” for the big THREE (1) sleeping, (2) eating and (3) bathrooms. What are your experiences with these three? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments section below.