Avoid the Super 8 and Other Travel Tips from the Road

Avoid the Super 8 and Other Travel Tips

When I was 25, I embarked on a five week road trip across the United States. Sometimes I forget it happened and think, “Wait, did I actually do that? Oh yes, yes I did.” After I reflected on my 10,000+ mile experience, I thought I’d share a few travel tips and tales from my trip. I’m not calling them lessons, this isn’t school after all.

I’m launching a new series called Not the 90s in which, you guessed it, I’ll be talking about topics that aren’t the 90s. You’ll see new posts as well as ones from my original blog, Road Darling. That’s where this one comes from today. Originally published on October 4, 2013, it appears here in an edited form.

DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO AVOID THE SUPER 8

One evening I was driving through Blackwell, Oklahoma when my tiredness hit me like a ton of bricks. I decided I had to stop for the night right then. The only affordable option was a Super 8 and after I handed over $42, I began my first stay at a Super 8. Here’s what I wrote in my journal:

1. Bugs on the wall. (Not a cockroach, but I still killed it. RIP.)
2. No water. (Storm)
3. Zenith TV with 30 stations. None of which are Bravo.
4. Sleeping on top of the bed in my sleeping bag.
5. My feet itch from the floors.
6. Is that a spider bite on my leg?

It was like camping. But indoors. In other words, it was terrible. Experience the Super 8 once and then call it a day. Forever.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, BRING AN ATLAS!

Before my trip, whenever I saw maps of the country where there was no cell phone service I thought, “Oh, but I don’t live there so who cares?” However, once I traveled to those areas I realized I couldn’t rely on my phone for everything. Though I started my trip armed with my trusty atlas, I also relied on my phone’s GPS.

While driving through a cell phone service-less area in Arizona, I pulled over to check my atlas. All of a sudden, an SUV rolled up and asked how to get to Salt Lake City, nearly three hours away. I asked them, “Why don’t you just check your atlas?” To which the male driver said, “What’s an atlas?” Don’t let getting lost in Arizona at sundown while looking for Salt Lake City happen to you. Bring your atlas.

START IN THE SOUTH IF YOU CAN

My route landed me in deep South on the last leg of my trip. While I don’t regret that because it all made sense in the end, in retrospect I should have started my trip in the South. Why? Because people are really nice there. They’re genuinely interested in outsiders and will ask questions in a non-threatening manner. The food is good. The weather is good. The people are great. It’s really hard to feel lonely in the South because there’s always someone to talk to.

But really, when all is said and done, just avoid the Super 8 and you’ll be alright.