I love an American driving holiday. My experiences are fairly limited but the combination of wide open roads, comfortable hire cars and extraordinary natural beauty make it my favourite kind of holiday, replacing the more relaxing all inclusive choice that suited when the kids were younger. I can’t wait to hit New England in June, sandwiched between first class flights paid for with Avios
It all started with a drive from Washington DC to State College in Pennsylvania to catch a Springsteen gig (Icelanders, he’s The Boss, not your guy). A little over four hours on the road each way, laughing at signs for the “Blue Knob National Park” and my first proper stay in a typical USA motel. I’ve never used the Sleep Inn chain since, but they were great and taught me what the winning formula is. Free parking. Free wifi. Free breakfast. Top this up with free tea and coffee in the lobby and I’m a happy man.
Comfort Inn. Super 8. Days Inn. Holiday Inn Express. The occasional remote lodge hotel. But not Motel 6. That’s just a step too low!
The following year was a brave October day drive out of New York City to the New Jersey Coast as the then Mrs S went in pursuit of Springsteen haunts and lyrics. Even taking a reading from the gypsy on the Asbury Park boardwalk! A great day in unexpectedly balmy weather.
After that, it became the central part of the holiday. Some might stay in the same place for four or five nights. We chose to press on day after day to discover new magic. Best plan is probably somewhere in between!
Phoenix, Arizona was the start point of the first proper touring holiday, mainly because the flights were cheaper than getting to Vegas, LA or San Francisco. Ideally the route would have been done in three weeks. So we crammed it in to an intense but magnificent twelve nights. Grand Canyon (the first view of the South Rim takes jaw dropping to a new level), Route 66, Vegas, Death Valley (wow), Yosemite, Pacific Coast Highway (whales and seals), Hollywood and more.
Learning points being that economy transatlantic flights to the west side of the USA can be hellish and if you’re hiring a car within California, Nevada or Arizona you can return it to any location within those states without having to pay a huge drop off fee. So no need to do a loop. Discovered after booking a loop.
The following year saw a different route focused on Utah’s canyons. Cheap and beautiful business class flights out of Dublin to Vegas, via Philadelphia. A return to Death Valley. Lake Tahoe. The dullest drive ever across northern Nevada. Salt Lake City. The beautiful Canyonlands. Arches National Park. Mesa Verde. Four Corners. Monument Valley (where Forest Gump ended his run). Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon from the North Rim – staying in a canyon view wooden hut. Heaven.
Learning point here was more 2-3 night stops to allow a little break would be good, rather than powering on day after day. But those longer stops need a longer holiday that might not always be possible for the employed!
Last year ignored many of the learning points (except for a three night stop in a frozen Yellowstone cabin) and crammed a loop route into a ridiculously short number of days. But what a route! Rocky Mountains, thermal springs, whitewater rafting, glorious Yellowstone, the Beartooth Pass and a rodeo!
Hopefully I will do at least one more of these trips after New England. Possibly visiting many of the places I’ve already seen before. Three weeks. Driving no more than four hours a day. Making most stops two or three nights. Soaking up the magnificence of everything from the Rocky Mountains westwards.
Everybody should do at least one of these trips in a lifetime.