New state, new map – Road trip tip

When road-tripping, pick up a fresh map every time you enter a new state.

In the United Sates, there are often welcome centers or rest stations that provide free state maps. When on the interstate, take the time to stretch your legs and pick up an official state map.

A state map from the state’s Department of Transportation provides information and details not normally found on your national atlas. State maps can offer facts about driving laws, attractions, and locations — as well as invaluable, detailed city maps (usually on the reverse side). State maps also serve as excellent (free) mementos of your trip.

So remember, new state, new map.

Get to know your co-passengers – Road trip tip

Make the road trip as memorable as the destination itself.

Although car rides with the family can be a great experience, the road trip was designed for great friends to get away and escape everyday life. While traveling with friends, keep the radio off. Try playing a game like, “Top Five Celebrities I Want to Date.” Not only will games like this make the miles pass quicker, you can learn an awful lot about your friends. (Sometimes too much!)

Bonus Tip: Make frequent stops along the way for sightseeing, dinner, etc. This will provide the opportunity for new experiences and encounters.

Road trip tip: Best audio books for a drive

Saturday’s road trip tip–how to stay awake while driving, listed listening to audio books as one technique.

The last audio book I listened to on a road trip (from New York City to Columbus, Ohio along I-80) was David Sedaris’s Live at Carnegie Hall. It isn’t an audio book per se, but a taped performance of Sedaris reading some of his essays. I was awake and laughing–hard.

This weekend, as I was leafing through a magazine (Better Homes and Gardens?) at a friend’s house in Wooster, Ohio, I came across a sidebar-type article on the 7 best audio books for the road. One of them is a fabulous choice because of its lovely language alone.

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the best novels written, in my opinion. The language is lush. Harper Lee , the author is the narrator.

Another author narrated suggesion was E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. This choice reminded me of another option that would appeal to children, but also resonates with adults. White is the narrator as well.

Here’s another one of my choices. The Velveteen Rabbit narrated by Meryl Streep is wonderful, particularly since George Winston’s piano accompaniment is woven in with Streep’s voice.

For another mix of music and narration for children, what about Peter and the Wolf? Here’s a version where David Bowie is the narrator. This one is a great way to brush up on your instrument knowledge.

Road trip tip: How to sleep comfortably in your car

I have slept in a car once on a road trip. When I drove from Odense, Denmark to Paris where people are smiling more than when I was there, my friend and I pulled off of the road somewhere to sleep. We could have been in France. I can’t remember. What I do remember is that it was not comfortable. We were in a Peugeot station wagon, so space wasn’t the problem, but we didn’t have enough bedding and it became light too soon. By the time I finally fell asleep, there I was waking up again.

Yesterday’s video road trip tip was about how to stay awake while driving. This one is about how to sleep comfortably. After watching this video you might think why get a hotel room when there’s a Walmart parking lot? Sleeping in a Walmark parking lot is a budget travel idea for sure. This video has demonstrations and some great ideas. The main idea is to plan to stay in your car.

More road trip gadgets – technology to help prevent traffic tickets

Here at Gadling, we don’t condone, recommend or suggest speeding – in fact, I’m pretty sure every single one of us sticks to the speed limit at least 25% of the time.

So, if you find yourself on a long road trip, and begin to wonder whether the speed limit signs are the law, or merely a recommendation, then you can put technology to work staying safe from tickets.

Nowadays, there are several ways to be caught – the first is of course the old fashioned cop pulling up behind you with lights and siren. Sadly these cops now get help from red light cameras and combined red light/speed cameras.

Thankfully, the US is not as bad as Europe, where cops hide speed cameras in trash cans, trailers or on a tiny tripod in the shoulder.

In this article, you’ll learn about three technologies that could help save some money, especially if you have a bit of a lead foot.

And while I have your attention – don’t forget to check out our lineup of other cool road trip gadgets, and to enter our awesome “Perfect Road Trip” contest where you have a chance at winning an all expenses paid road trip in a new Cadillac SRX.


Trapster is like social networking for speed traps. The Trapster network allows members to receive and report locations of speed traps. Of course, the service takes full advantage of mobile technology by offering access to their database on the iPhone, Blackberry and Android powered devices, as well as Java compatible phones.

The database can even be installed on TomTom and Garmin GPS units, and you can select your own custom coverage area for loading on your device.

Price: free

Escort 9500ix radar detector

The Escort 9500ix takes radar detection to a whole new level. By combining a “regular” radar detector with a GPS receiver and PC upgradeable database, this $499 unit warns of cops with radar or laser, as well as known locations of red light/speed cameras and you can even mark “hot” and “false” spots, which means you won’t get annoying alerts when you pass the automatic doors of the local drugstore.

Before you consider purchasing a radar detector, be sure to read up on your local and state laws, and check whether your insurance company allows them to be used in your car.

Price: $499.95

GPS red light database

Got GPS in your car? If your GPS model allows for user-added point-of-interest databases, then you can often add a list of known red light cameras. Many models allow for warning signals when you get close to some categories, which means you’ll be warned in time to slow down.

In most cases you can just “drag and drop” the speed camera file to your GPS unit, some brands may require a free “POI loader”.

From: Various Internet sites (like GPS-data-team, POI Factory)
Price: Varies per site