At this time last year I was toiling away in a cubicle in suburban Philadelphia for eight hours a day. The end of our fiscal year (oh, how I don’t miss using phrases like that regularly anymore) was approaching which meant my unused vacation days were going to expire. The thought of wasting precious time off was unthinkable so my friend, who was living in Manhattan at the time, and I decided to take advantage of our new found east coast location and go on a New England road trip over a long weekend. With no set plans except for making it to Bar Harbor, Maine we ended up having a weekend to remember.
Looking to take your own road trip? Here are three things that can make the trip more interesting and less frustrating.
1. If you want to stop somewhere, stop there!
We had a few places in mind that we wanted to stop on the way to and from Maine but when we saw the signs for New Haven, a place we hadn’t considered, on 1-95 we knew we had to check it out. After quickly cutting across 2 lanes of traffic to make the exit, we started on what we thought was the road to Yale’s campus. This proved to be incorrect but because of this mistake we stumbled across a large rummage sale. My friend scored a beautiful antique mirror for her apartment and we were able to ask for directions.
We eventually found Yale, snuck into the Yale Daily News to pretend we were Rory Gilmore, and walked around the empty campus on a beautiful end of summer day.
This unplanned stop became one of the highlights of the trip.
2. Feed the meter.
On our way north we stopped in Portsmouth, New Hampshire for lunch. Ravenous, I haphazardly threw what change I could find in my cup holder into the parking meter and ran toward Portsmouth Brewery to get a table. We sat at the table for a long time, lingering over one of the most delicious veggie burgers I’ve ever had and an almost equally good IPA, not even thinking about the car parked meer feet from the restaurant. After settling the bill and rushing out with stolen pint glasses in our purses, we walked hastily not to the car, but over to a fire truck where we muscled our way through a bunch of five year olds for a picture. Needless to say, when we finally returned to the car the Portsmouth Police Department had left us a little gift.
Lesson not learned, when we stopped in Providence for lunch on the way home we were too preoccupied with not getting soaked by the torrential rains that we neglected to feed the meter.
Throw a few quarters in. The dollar you spend then is a lot better than the fifty you’ll have to spend later.
3. Get an EZ Pass.
Out of all the information in this post, this is probably the most important, especially if you are traveling on the east coast. A large portion of I-95 in the northeast is a toll road. The toll booths, especially on weekends and during holidays, have long backups. Most toll plazas are equipped with more EZ Pass lanes than cash lanes, some in which you don’t have to stop at all, and even when there is a line it moves much faster than the cash booths.
Not only does EZ Pass save time, but also the frustration of having to search for change. If you don’t already have a device, pick one up. They can be found at most rest areas on turnpikes or at gas stations and grocery stores in states where EZ Pass is used. The cost of the pass is minimal and you can set it up so it automatically charges your credit or debit card when your balance is low. This small piece of plastic was a lifesaver on more than one occasion.
Road trips are a great way to explore on your own time. Driving can become boring and tedious, but only a small list of must dos and a lot of patience and flexibility, your road trip will be smooth sailing.
Except maybe on I-95 when approaching toll plazas.