Here's how to research the perfect road trip
The United States is opening back up for businesses. You might not want to hop on a plane anytime soon, but you can't kick the feeling that you want to get away. Enter: the road trip.
In a recent interview with Porsche, Stefan Bogner, creative director, Curves magazine, divulged his tips for preparing the perfect road trip as part of the #GetCreativeWithPorsche series. Here are some of Bogner's top tips, paired with insight from the AutomotiveMap team.
Take your time.
It's never too early to start planning, even if you're just looking.
"The most important thing is to take your time," said Bogner. "If you were planning a month-long holiday, you'd take a long time getting it all just right. It's the same with a road trip: preparation is key."
Use a variety of sources to gather information.
Photo courtesy of Porsche AG
Don't just rely on sites like TripAdvisor. Hotels.com, or Yelp to shape your itinerary. Use them as a starting point. Ask your friends and family for recommendations. Read blogs, check out the visitors and convention bureau website, and browse local publications for insights on local flavor.
Brush up on how to read a map.
"I am old-school and I love to study paper maps and guide books," shared Bogner. "Get to grips with reading a map and you'll get a better sense of place and perspective."
If you're someone who gets lost even when looking at the "downtown area" handout hotels give out, perhaps it's time to invest a few hours in honing your skills.
Don't forget to check the weather.
Check out predicted weather when you begin planning and keep an eye on it in the weeks and days leading up to the trip. If you've had a particularly wet spell, some roads may not be passable, nature preserves may be closed, and low-lying areas may be impassible. Consider getting a professional-grade weather app for your phone.
If your road trip includes going off-road (or even on the road less traveled), learn to read basic topographic maps.
Photo courtesy of Porsche AG
Bogner explains: "Look for the green roads, as these are the scenic ones, and pay attention to the contour lines to get an idea of the topography. When you really study a physical map, the brain starts to absorb the information and when you come to drive a route, you'll know much better where you are."
Timing is everything.
"My one timing rule is to avoid school holidays," said Bogner in the interview. "I never go anywhere in July and August. Don't be afraid to ask the locals the best time of year to visit their area, as no one will know the answer better than them. I was once planning a trip to Scotland and thought the summer would be the perfect time to go but a friend advised me to wait until October. I had the most amazing two weeks of sunshine with no rain. In Scotland!"
Time of day is important too. Try for a mid-week visit to a popular museum, late afternoon visit to a park, a morning walk along the waterway to watch the sunrise. Don't be afraid to contact an attraction and ask when their least busy times are and find out when school groups tend to arrive.
Plan for hours and miles.
Bogner says it best, "Have a rough idea of how far you want to drive each day but make sure you give yourself time to enjoy the trip, rather than running a tight schedule and insisting on being in a certain place by a precise time. Savour the scenery and enjoy the driving. If you take your time and you're open to conversations when you fill up with fuel you'll meet interesting people along the way."
Use social media to find out what to expect.
Want to visit a museum or park? Don't just look at the sanitized version that their PR team puts out on social media. Many social media platforms allow users to tag themselves as being at a location. Click on those tags and find out more about what you can expect.
See if a driving tour is offered.
Photo courtesy of Porsche AG
Many localities offer a driving tour of their local attractions, countryside, etc. Want to discover local agriculture? Plan a wine tasting spree? See a series of historical sites? Just want to go for a drive? There is probably a map for that. Local motorcycle enthusiasts often chart their drives on MotorcycleRoads.com, which can be used as a resource as well.
Ask for recommendations once you arrive.
"Local contacts can also suggest their favorite museums (I have discovered some amazing private air museums in America this way) and restaurants," Bogner said. "I am a real foodie so I enjoy researching amazing places to eat."
Be sure to ask locals for restaurant recommendations, and not just he concierge staff at the hotel. When you ask, find out what dishes they recommend. If you do stay in a hotel with a concierge, ask them if there anything you need to know when making a reservation. Sometimes, they have line-skipping tricks up their sleeve.
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