Right before my husband and I set off on a 48-state RV honeymoon, I received two tips from a friend who had finished a cross country road trip:
- Buy a membership to a national gym chain so you can always have a hot shower and
- Take U.S. highways, never the interstate.
I quickly acted on the first piece of advice by signing up for Planet Fitness.
But the second tip didn’t seem like such a big deal. I forgot it all too quickly in favor of taking I-10 out of Texas as fast as possible. If the GPS led us down US Highways, as it did through most of Wyoming, we welcomed the well-paved roads and efficient travel.
But soon we found ourselves on I-35, I-90, and every number in between, hurrying on our way across the country.
Finally, after paying nearly $15 when we crossed into New York state, which I now call the “toll road capitol of the world,” we decided we’d had enough of interstates. Here’s why:
1.) Interstates make you drive faster.
Yes, interstates tend to have higher speed limits, but that’s not what I mean.
When you’re driving a rig like mine, which maxes out at 65 mph, it’s difficult to keep up on the interstate.
But we feel like we need to!
Perhaps it’s our subconscious, but there’s something about being on the interstate that makes your foot press a little harder on the pedal.
2.) Interstates are congested.
It seems that no matter what time of day we find ourselves driving, there’s always dense traffic.
Construction zones, speed traps, and too many cars make for an unpleasant driving experience.
Although you can find these conditions on any road, in my extensive travels across most of the U.S. this year, interstates have been the worst culprit.
3.) Interstates promote a mindset of destinations – not journeys.
When you take the interstate, it’s usually because that’s the fastest way to get where you’re going, right?
When you’re RVing, getting somewhere quick usually isn’t a top priority.
As RVers, we naturally embrace the beauty of journeys. We know that from Cleveland to Montpelier, there are about twenty places to visit and see.
We don’t want to make it to Vermont as fast as possible, we want to enjoy the journey there.
Last week I finally set the “avoid toll roads” and “avoid highways” selections on my Garmin GPS. You can do this by going to “settings” on any GPS, or even on Google Maps on your iPhone which we use when our GPS is on the fritz.
Instantly, my GPS told me to make a u-turn in the middle of the highway.
We opted not to take that advice, instead taking the first exit available.
After leaving the highway we coasted along a country road, with the interstate just a mile off in the distance.
It was like sitting down on a park bench in the middle of New York City and watching people speed walk past you.
We found ourselves driving on open roads and through countryside peppered with red barns, pumpkin patches, and colorful leaves.
It was exactly how we had envisioned fall in the northeast – but we only experienced it when we got off the highway!
Our new route added about an hour to our estimated arrival time, but soon we found ourselves driving through tall red trees that broke just enough for us to spot Lake Ontario a half mile from our road.
We took a left to tour the lakeside and uncovered a small RV park on the lake that we just couldn’t pass up.
As a kid from Texas, you don’t squander chances to sleep waterfront.
Sure, interstates will get you to your destination faster, but at what cost? If you’re on a week-long vacation and that’s all the time you have, by all means speed along to Disney World.
But if you want to experience our country with the leisure that RVs allow, slow down with me. Take the back roads.
Take the countryside.
Let’s free ourselves from the race of the interstate and enjoy the journey.
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