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USA in a Minivan

presented by Paula Vogler

 

Between 1999 and 2011, Paula Vogler and her family drove to and visited all 50 states in the USA.  This map highlights some of the locations that Paula included in her presentation; they correspond to images in the the “USA in a Minivan” posts.  Paula stressed that there were natural wonders, historic sites, and curiosities wherever she traveled, and that she is eager to discover more.

The tabbed content box lists resources and suggestions that might be useful in planning a trip of your own. Enjoy the photo galleries by enlarging them with the “magnifier” and by following the “link” icons to their posts.

 

  • “Follow your bliss.” Look at maps and read about places before you choose a destination! Armchair traveling helps define your interests.  Once you’ve found a place or event that really excites you, that location becomes the core of your trip.
  • Assess you time. Decide whether or not there is sufficient time to drive the entire route; sometimes a fly/drive combination is preferable.
  • Expand the possibilities. Study those maps closely to discover additional attractions within reasonable driving distance of your major destination.   Remember that a loop route is usually more interesting than repeating the same roads on the return trip.
  • Pace yourself. Don’t spend your whole day in the car and be sure to make exploratory stops along the way.

 

  • “Expert” advice.  Talk to local people as you travel.  Ask them where they like to eat and where they like to go.  What are their favorite places?  While guidebooks often highlight the most famous spots, local people have insiders’ knowledge of their home and its special features.
  • Timing.  If possible, aim for the off season.  Summer, which is the busiest time in many locations, can bring crowds, delays and some uncomfortably hot weather.  What’s more, prices can be improve after the peak season.
  • How to see more.  Take some detours from the main roads:  explore the “blue highways” if you want to see some unusual sights.  Regional distinctions are more apparent when you avoid areas that are saturated with national chain stores.
  • For a change of pace. Listen to an audio book during some portions of the drive. Local libraries lend a wide range of titles for all ages.
  • Mealtimes. Many lodgings now include breakfast. Pack ample snacks and drinks for the road. Try eating at small diners where you are more likely to meet and interact with local people–and more likely to eat fresh, regional specialties.
  • Wildlife viewing. Watch for groups of cars pulled off the side of the road, especially in the National Parks. These drivers have spotted something interesting that, hopefully, you’ll get a chance to see, too!

 

  • National Park Service  for information on national parks, monuments, and historic sites.  Purchase the annual parks pass here.
  • Tourism websites

 

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The 2013 Road Atlas:  United States, Canada and Mexico, Rand McNally

Your primary source for ideas, routes and distances.

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1000 Places to See Before You Die, Patricia Schultz

 

 

   AAA TourBooks:                                                                                                     Major travel guides:

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State tourism guides:

  • AAA membership for discounts on hotels, attractions, car rentals, and other travel-related activities.
  • National Parks Pass $80 annual pass offers unlimited admission to national parks; $10 senior pass (age 62) provides lifetime admission!
  • groupon.com and livingsocial.com for coupons on hotels, restaurants, activities, etc.
  • Rewards cards. Some credit and membership cards offer “rewards” that can be used for free nights in hotels or gift cards for gas, popular restaurants, etc.
  • Avoid airport rental fees. Take a shuttle to your accommodations. Often you can rent a vehicle less expensively from there.