by AINSLEY LAWRENCE
The world is full of beautiful landscapes and awe-inspiring sites, but few places can match the majesty and variety that Southern states have to offer. From the Hamilton Pool in Texas to the cobblestoned squares in Savannah, Southern states have it all.
You can spend your morning hiking the Shenandoah mountains and your evenings eating sugar toads. Or, if history is your thing, a road trip through the Southern states is a great way to acquaint yourself with haunted penitentiaries and battle sites.
A little planning and preparation go a long way when touring the South. So, here’s a quick guide to taking your next vacation on the road.
Preparing A Road Trip
The idea of a road trip is exciting. You’re in total control of your own itinerary and can make as many pit stops and detours as you want. You don’t have to wait for planes, buses, or trains, and can extend any layover that you’re enjoying for as long as you like.
But the freedom that road trips bring requires you to do some serious planning beforehand. In addition to the basics like budgeting for accommodation and fuel, you’ll need to account for your car or RV’s roadworthiness.
A few weeks before setting out, get your car serviced and schedule any repairs that a garage recommends. You can also improve your car’s fuel efficiency and reduce your vehicle’s carbon footprint by ensuring that your tires are properly inflated, your air filters are fresh, and you use the right variety of oil for your car.
At this time, you can start to plan key destinations and look up potential travel routes. Most folks use their phones to navigate nowadays, but having a physical map is a great backup in case of an emergency. If you love planning, trace out your planned route with a sharpie and make some side notes on potential road conditions and stop-off locations.
As the big day approaches, give some consideration to things like food and water. In all likelihood, you’ll be eating out of restaurants and hotels for most of your trip. However, keeping a batch of granola bars and long-lasting meals is a good way to keep your spirits up while on the road.
Benefits Of Road Tripping
As you get deeper into the planning stage of your road trip, you might start to wonder “why don’t we just fly?” Road tripping can become labor intensive, and it is easy to forget why you wanted to take your Southern vacation on the road in the first place.
There are plenty of benefits to road tripping over other forms of travel. Road tripping is a great way to travel for personal enrichment. You’ll quickly get off the beaten path and can make quick detours to see the local history that you would have missed if you took a plane. You might also meet a few fellow road trippers during your travels, and can swap notes or recommendations along the way.
Road tripping is also a great way to get out of your comfort zone. Taking a plane and checking into a hotel is easy, but nowhere near as rewarding as driving through the Overseas Highway or on the Blue Ridge Parkway. You can always stop off when you want to hike a trail you come across or check out a town that captures your attention — who knows, you may even discover your future hometown.
Folks who embrace road tripping are happier, too. Being outdoors allows you to explore the world and can be a “much-needed escape” from daily stresses and hassles. You can even continue to work remotely while on the road, provided you have a Wi-Fi spot lined up to check in on a semi-regular basis.
Don’t Miss Destinations
Providing a conclusive list of don’t-miss destinations in The South would be impossible — around almost every bend is a quaint town or a hidden hot spring. That said, there are a few destinations that you should put on your list to ensure your road trip feels “complete”.
- Savannah, Ga.: Savannah is best known for its gothic Spanish moss and historic parks. You’ll also find plenty of culture, as the town prides itself on its art markets and architectural history.
- The Great Smoky Mountains, Tenn./N.C.: The Great Smoky Mountains are home to trailheads, wildflowers, and wildlife. You can even explore Appalachian culture by checking into a small town and learning about the folks who have made a life in the mountains.
- Florida Keys, Fla.: the Florida Keys are a string of archipelagos teeming with wildlife and tourist-oriented services. This may be a welcome break if you’re used to being the only tourist in town during your road trip.
Remember that there are also seasonal activities to check out while road tripping in the south. Catching a college football game or picking pumpkins in the fall can boost your trip and make the whole experience that much more special. Be sure to check out the local cuisine, too, as almost every town has a dish that makes it “famous.”
Roadtripping across the Southern states is special. You’ll meet kind-hearted folks and see sights that take your breath away. Just be sure to get your itinerary in order before you hit the road and pack plenty of granola bars. You never know what adventures will come your way once you take to the road.