With tons of how-to’s on travel out there, it’s hard to believe you can make a mistake on your adventure, even when it doesn’t require a passport.
But you can, so check out these common ones before you make them yourself.
Sticking to your diet
It’s fattening, loaded with sugar and full of carbs, but you had better eat whatever the locals give you.
No fat-free versions of the cannoli exist at Mike’s Pastries in Boston, a place so famous even Italian tourists stop in for one. Think diet jambalaya is close enough? Think again, and don’t dare ask anyone in the Bayou for the answer.
It seems like a scary risk, eating twice the number of calories you dare give yourself at home. But if you travel the right way, you’ll be surprised at how little it might affect your waistline after all.
Not walking the distance
If you’re not walking at least 5 miles in a day, you’re wasting the experience.
Think Boston, New York, D.C., Yellowstone or the Great Smoky Mountains. Walking the main drags of these places — whether it’s Comm. Ave. in Boston or Cades Cove in the Smokies — uncovers a tremendous amount of cool stuff.
To stand above the clouds on the third-tallest peak in America’s free national park or listen to free blues in Somerville, Massachusetts, you must be willing to walk.
Staying on the main road
Look for the smallest lines on the map and get out there. Don’t be afraid to get lost and wind up walking more than you intended. This is when you’ll stop at the real restaurant out of desperate hunger or actually connect with the locals when you ask for directions.
Be open to the possibilities and avoid ever thinking you wasted your time if the experience isn’t quite what you imagined it might be. After all, it’s your experience, and you won’t find that in a guidebook, which is pretty cool.
Sleeping only in hotels or tents
Break free from the walls you think protect you. Risk a scorpion sting to watch for shooting stars in the Grand Canyon, at least one night. The stars are some of the brightest you’ll see in the Lower 48, so why waste the view by looking at the inside of your tent?
That sting will go away, but you’ll always remember the number of bright lines you counted across the sky.
This works best for one or two people, but if you’re driving across the country, spend at least one night in your car.
It’ll be uncomfortable, but there’s something about figuring out all the nuances of your car — how to position it to block the light in the parking lot, how best to organize all your crap, which seat is the most comfortable — that gives you an intimate feel for a thing you only casually think about when you’re inside it.
Hitting the snooze button
Sunset on I-65. Photo: Courtesy of Beth[/caption] Only the mountains or beaches seem worthy of sunrise views, but experience dawn just once during your road trip and you’ll be amazed.
It’s insane how majestic windmills look with deep orange and yellow glinting off their wings in Texas or how serene the sun can really look in its unwavering red cut across America’s breadbasket. You’ll fall in love with a side of the country few get to know, all because you gave it the time of day.
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