For as long as the automobile has been widely available, road trips has become a favorite pastime for millions of North Americans. Thanks to a landscape with abundant natural beauty, thousands of miles of paved roads, and plenty of opportunities for breaks and refreshments, recreational road trips can also be an excellent and relatively low-cost vacation opportunity for seniors in the United States and Canada.
Especially for seniors, many types of travel can be a stressful experience. The compact nature of commercial airliners, combined with security precautions and restrictions regarding baggage, can be limiting for many passengers. Trains offer a comfortable and affordable alternative for travel, but this option doesn’t offer the flexibility of stopping and detouring, either.
Deborah Vahabi, Auto Travel Advisor with the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), told RetirementHomes.com that although road trips offer vacationers a great deal of flexibility about how to plan their outings, driving your own car means you are responsible for making sure it runs smoothly during the trip. She offered these tips for Boomer road trippers before they leave for vacation.
1. Prepare your car before you leave. That includes changing the oil, and testing the battery, fluids and tire pressure.
2. When packing the car, place the largest items in the vehicle first. That helps to ensure that there is room for the most important luggage. After that, fit in the smaller items.
3. Remember to pack emergency items, including a flashlight and batteries, a first aid kit, a cell phone (with charger), maps and/or a GPS.
Road trip veteran Jamie Jensen, who wrote three books on the subject called “Road Trip USA,” told RetirementHomes.com that Baby Boomers may recall road trips from their youth, but things have changed since then.
“There is a lot less "fun" on the road these days, compared to the 1950s and 60s when people were more open to stopping to ride a steam train or roller coaster, or to "See Live Bears" and enjoy a laugh here and there,” he said.
Jensen added that the changing face of road trips doesn’t have to mean less fun for Boomers, though.
“I think that older people probably have more time to enjoy traveling "off the Interstates, to explore the regional differences and savor the better food and conversations you find away from the ‘fast lane,’” he said.
So if you’re a Baby Boomer who has decided on a road trip vacation, the next question is: where should you go?
Last year, Forbes produced their top 10 best road trips in the United States. They are:
1. California’s Pacific Coast Highway
2. Blue Ridge Parkway in Tennessee and North Carolina
3. Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula
4. Pennsylvania and Delaware’s Brandywine Valley
5. Massachusetts’ Cape Cod
6. Oregon’s Columbia River Highway
7. Arizona’s Red Rock Country
8. North Carolina’s Outer Banks
9. Route 66 (between Chicago and Arizona)
10. Montana’s Going-to-the-Sun Road