Road Trip

Here's how to research the perfect road trip

Make sure you pick the right vehicle. The one shown here is the one millionth Porsche 911 that was produced.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

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.

Porsche maps display office research

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.

Porsche 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.

Porsche 911 Maria, Texas

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.

Trending News

 
 

The new Tiguan sports an all-new front-end design.

Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Tiguan is an interesting compact SUV with a fun-to-drive personality and plenty of style. After 14 years on sale, the Tiguan is just in its second generation, but VW has given it a significant update for the 2022 model year that brings new tech, updated styling, and a refreshed interior.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The rear has been massaged with new badging and standard LED taillights. Volkswagen

The restyled Tiguan is available in four trim levels: S, SE, and SE R-Line Black. All models get a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, but VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive can be optioned in.

Styling updates are the big story for the 2022 Tiguan. The front end is entirely new and carries design cues from the larger Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport. LED headlights are now standard, and an illuminated light line is available for the SUV's grille. On the rear liftgate, the Tiguan model name lettering also mirrors that of the Atlas, with the name spelled out underneath the VW logo.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Most trims get an 8-inch touchscreen.Volkswagen

Inside, the Tiguan now comes standard with heated seats, while a heated steering wheel and ventilated seats are available. Cloth upholstery is standard, while mid-range trims get leatherette. The top SEL R-Line comes with leather and a perforated leather-wrapped sport steering wheel. Front-wheel drive models come standard with three rows of seating as well, making the Tiguan one of the more family-friendly vehicles in its class.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The top trim gets upscale leather upholstery.Volkswagen

The base Tiguan S comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen running Volkswagen's excellent MIB 2 software, but all others get MIB 3 infotainment software running on a glass-covered 8.0-inch touchscreen. The automaker notes that it's a capacitive touch system, which functions more like a smartphone than other infotainment systems, which sometimes require pressure to register a touch input. All Tiguans get a digital gauge cluster with an 8-inch display, while the top SEL R-Line upgrades to a 10.25-inch configurable gauge cluster that offers full-screen navigation and other views.

Pricing for the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan starts at $25,995 for the base S trim with front-wheel drive. Adding all-wheel drive pushes the prices to $27,495. All Tiguan models will see a $1,195 destination charge tacked on at the bottom line.

Trending News

 
 

Family driving

Can your family live with a convertible?

Convertibles are fun, but can your family handle the size and driving experience?

BMW

Testing convertibles is always great fun, but they sometimes show up when the weather isn't ideal. Here in Maine, our drop-top driving season is fleeting, which can make for a tricky time driving with the top down. This year, however, a 2021 BMW 430i Convertible showed up in early August and I had an entire week of sun to soak up in the open air. I have two children, however, and own a three-row SUV to haul them, their friends, and all the accompanying gear. Squeezing into a convertible is possible and even fun at times, but it got me thinking: Could a convertible be a car we could live with on a daily basis? The answer for me is no, but there's more to the story, and I'm certainly not ruling out a drop-top purchase for my family at some point in the future.

Of course, none of this came as a surprise to me. Last year, I tested the BMW M850i Convertible, and while it was a blast, there was nothing about it that screamed "family car." This BMW is no different, but my younger daughter's shift to a booster seat from a full-size harness car seat made the back-seat fit for both of my kids much easier. Now, it's a little easier to see how the 430i Convertible could be a perfect weekend or summer car for a family that is already set with roomy daily drivers.

Here's how owning a convertible might play out for your family.


2021 BMW 430i Convertible The BMW 430i Convertible is premium, inside and out.BMW

Open-Top Fun – At a Cost

This BMW's price tag lands in the mid-$50,000 range with a few desirable options, which is about right for a premium brand convertible. There are much cheaper options to be had, however, in the Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro. Both cars come in a convertible format and can be found for around half the price of the BMW. There are performance and luxury penalties when moving to the less expensive options, but for most people the draw of a convertible is the open-top experience itself. You don't absolutely need screaming performance or a top-notch interior to get the full convertible experience.

Good in Small Doses

My kids are over the moon about riding in a convertible for a while, and then spend the rest of the time complaining about noise, bugs, and wind. Rolling the side windows up helps, and models with a retractable rear windscreen are even better, but the reality is that some kids are not the best at dealing with outside-the-norm car experiences. More often than not, we'd end up driving for half an hour or so with the top down, a few more minutes with the windows up, and then the rest of the time with the top closed. That's no fun in a small car that feels even smaller with the top up.


2021 BMW 430i Convertible If your kids are like mine, the open-top experience comes with some tradeoffs.BMW

Weather Woes

I get that most of you don't live in Maine like I do, and that your spring, summer, and fall months extend longer throughout the year. You're able to enjoy the open-top driving experience more often than those of us in New England, but there will still be times that driving a convertible is less than enjoyable. If you live in Florida, for instance, how often are you going to want to drive with the top down when it's 90 degrees with 80 percent humidity under the bright sun? Even with the wind in your hair, that will get old. Keep this in mind if you're shopping for a convertible.

Trending News