BT asks: Readers' best RV tips
Some information is simply meant to be passed on from person to person, rather than harvested from aimless internet searches—how to ride a bike, say, or tie a Double Windsor or assemble a perfect pie crust—and in my opinion, that list includes piloting an RV for the first time.
With summer out there on the horizon (albeit still so far off, sadly!), I've been doing some serious RV dreaming. But having grown up in a family that never RV'ed (unless you count tossing a mattress in the back of my dad's cargo van for our annual 16-hour ski-season drive to Colorado, which I don't), I could use some first-person advice from real-world road-masters.
What would you tell a first-timer about to embark on her inaugural RV vacation? I want to hear all your best road-tested tips—the easiest vehicles to operate, the best strategies for plotting a route, your favorite RV campgrounds, the ultimate packing list, smart money-saving tricks, your worst mistakes and your greatest discoveries.
If you have a free minute, post your advice and expertise in the comments—I can't wait to read it (and put it to use)!
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Ask Trip Coach: Motorcycle trips
Some travelers are born to shop. Others seem to have been born to do little else than lie on the beach. And then there are travelers who are born to be wild. If the idea of hopping on a motorcycle and tearing up the pavement gets your blood flowing, an upcoming Trip Coach column is for you. We'll be covering the basics of motorcycle vacations, with loads of helpful info for those interested in riding a hog for an entire road trip, or just for an epic, adrenaline-filled afternoon. To get us started, please send in your questions related to motorcycle vacations right now. You might be wondering: Who, exactly, can rent a motorcycle? What are the requirements? What destinations are best for motorcycle trips? Are there destinations that offer special motorcycle tours and lessons for beginners? Are there services that'll ship a motorcycle across the country, or overseas? What makes sense in terms of gear, luggage, what to pack, and what to leave at home? What are the most common mistakes newbies make when first embarking on a motorcycle trip? Now it's your turn. Please send us all of your questions related to motorcycle vacations, and we'll address the most pressing issues in an upcoming issue of Budget Travel. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: The Best Road Trip in Hawaii Trip Coach: National Parks Road Trip: National Parks (Minus the Crowds)
How do You Prevent Theft on the Road?
While surveying the year's best travel–friendly gear for our holiday gift guide (watch for it here and in the December/January issue!), we came across the BookBook, a compact, combination–wallet–and–iPhone cover styled to look like a weathered leather book. In addition to incorporating clever features such as strategic cutouts for easier charging and headphone access and a bookmark–style ribbon tab that, when tugged, exposes just the iPhone's camera lens, it also might provide just enough camouflage to fool a pickpocket into passing you by. (They've also made versions for the iPad and MacBooks.) That got us thinking about how far we've come since the days when a good old–fashioned money belt was the pinnacle of on–the–road theft protection. A slew of high–tech (and not so high–tech) gizmos have hit the scene in recent years, including Garmin's GTU 10, a card deck-sized GPS tracker you can use to locate lost luggage or a stolen purse, and the new Bluetooth Smart Key Fob from Tumi that sounds an alarm when your mobile phone strays beyond a 30–foot radius. Then there's the Vacation Vault, a portable combination–lock box perfect for protecting your valuables at the beach—or perhaps as an alternative to those not–so–reliable hotel room safes. Of course, not every smart safety idea calls for pulling out the credit card. One of our favorite new tips just appeared in the story "8 Items You Never Pack…But Should:" using a screw–lid travel mug as an under–the–radar hiding place for small valuables—it's certainly not the first place a petty criminal would look for a score. What are your favorite gadgets, habits, and strategies for keeping your stuff safe when you travel? Post your tips in the comments section! MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: Theft From Luggage at Airports and How to Avoid It Luggage Theft: A couple may have stolen nearly 1,000 bags Avoid Identity Theft in Three Surprising Ways
Do High Gas Prices Mean the End of Road Trips?
It was announced this week that the national average for a gallon of gas is $3.57, with analysts projecting $4.25 gallons this summer. Whither the road trip? Californians are already seeing average prices over $4 a gallon, not a good sign for those considering a Route 1 adventure. My mid–size rental car drank up more than $80 worth of gas during a weekend road trip between New York and Boston, and that was only four hours each way. I can't even imagine what it would cost to go cross–country. And it's not just road trips that can be affected—cruise lines like Norwegian reserve the right to add a surcharge to fares (even those already paid in full) if oil costs more than $65 per barrel at the time of sailing. It's currently $105 a barrel. Does sticker shock at the pump have you already thinking about alternatives to summer road trips? Or is the journey worth a few extra bucks? You can always find ways to save. See our tips here. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL One-Tank Escapes for 7 Cities Beautiful Lakeside Drives How to Do America's Most Scenic Drive—Without the Traffic
On Wednesday June 20, blogger Will McGough will set out on a one–of–a–kind road trip, dropping in on four of the winners of Budget Travel’s seventh annual Coolest Small Towns contest. “There’s a common misconception that small towns don’t offer big opportunities,” says McGough, the editor of the blog Wake and Wander. Of course, we couldn’t agree more—BT has long celebrated the charm—and affordability—of America’s coolest towns, and this year more than ever our contest has generated excitement from the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters. McGough’s “Coolest Road Trip” will make stops at four of this year’s 10 winners, including Beaufort, N.C., and Hammondsport, N.Y., which tied for first place back in January, when online voting was so heated that our server temporarily crashed; McGough will also visit Cape May, N.J., and Damascus, Va. The trip will conclude on June 30, with a parade in Hammondsport. A feature story about all 10 of our Coolest Small Towns will appear in the September/October issue of Budget Travel, on newsstands August 28. McGough will make his trip in a car customized for the occasion, bearing logos for Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Towns contest and his own blog, and images of the winning towns. “The teamwork going on among these four towns is exciting,” says McGough. “They’re not saying ‘Look at me!’ they’re saying ‘Look at us!’” As he motors from town to town, McGough will post blogs from the road, sharing his own lists of “coolests”—places to stay, outdoor activities, and keepsakes—along the way. “The average guy can’t always take a week off from work and fly to some far–off destination,” says McGough. “But he can drive to Beaufort, Cape May, Damascus, or Hammondsport for the weekend. And you know what? He’ll have just as much fun.” —Robert Firpo–Cappiello MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: 5 Classic American Drives 8 Ways to Save Big on Summer Travel The Pacific Coast Highway—Without the Traffic