Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Road Trip!

5 days off for The Missus and available vacation time for The Mister meant a vacation was in store. We threw around several ideas - fly to New York, go to D.C., visit family on the coast... but we wanted to go somewhere neither of us had been before. This is how we went on a road trip to Tennessee.

What I wanted from this was relaxation and Chris wanted adventure and relaxation. The original plan was to make stops in Little Rock, AK, Memphis, TN, and Nashville, TN. My favorite part of what actually transpired was that we made it super flexible so things could change easily if we wanted them to. We kept it flexible by not booking any hotel rooms or making any appointments. This is definitely not THE MOST cost effective way to plan a trip, due to the fact that it is usually cheapest to book any trip as far in advance as possible to save the most money, but it kept our trip spontaneous!

We went hiking in Arkansas, visited Beale Street and the Gibson factory in Memphis (and ate some delicious BBQ), then decided we really wanted to go back to Arkansas, but instead visit Hot Springs, we didn't have anything to move around or cancel. Lola came with us so we found pet friendly hotels and locations, and made sure to pack her crate, food, bowls, and toys.

We had an amazing time that was totally us. I learned more about my mine and he learned more about me - and I'm still surprised by this because of just how long we have been together!

Here are our tips to having a fun, memorable road trip:
  • Remember that the amount of planning you put in determines how flexible your schedule can be. Try to pick out 1 or 2 things you DEFINITELY want to see/do and then gear your time around that.
  • If you are crossing state lines, stop at their welcome centers. They usually all have maps and lists of the top attractions to visit while you are there.
  • Always look at the times your desired activities are available to you! I really wanted to take a soak in the baths at Hot Springs, but we were there on a Sunday and they all closed early in the day. Don't make my same mistake!
  • Pack snacks and drinks and entertainment for the drive! But take advantage of the local cuisine.
    • Things you already have at home are best because they will cut down on unneeded expenses.
    • Entertainment can be songs (don't always rely on the radio!), recorded books, lists of random questions to learn more about your travel buddies, stuff for hobbies you may have like knitting, taking photos, drawing, reading... but don't do some of these things if you get car sick like yours truly. We stuck to questions, recaps on our favorite memories, stories from our childhood, and music.
    • A cooler is always a great thing. Pack things you already have that may even go bad while you are gone. If you would rather not pack all perishables that may go bad while you are gone (we didn't pack our cilantro - there was no need for that on our road trip) give them away or throw them away so you do not come home to a stinky kitchen.
  • Never forget cell phone chargers, a charger for your camera, clothes for all sorts of weather situations that you may run in to, and a first aid kit.
    • Things we packed that were specific to where we were going, like hiking for example, are bug spray, sunscreen, fishing poles, a picnic blanket, a travel pillow, hiking shoes, hats, sunglasses, and a ball to play fetch with Lola.

I hope you all are turning over potential road trip destinations in your mind right now. If you would like more details, I am sure I will share them here soon. But specific requests will receive specific responses!! Happy planning.

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