After departing the California coast for a several-month stint in East Asia and the Middle East, we were confident our cold weather gear would no longer be needed. Shivering temperatures and shin-deep slush in Amman, Jordan proved us wrong. Fortunately, Amman offers my favorite Middle East problem solving solution Ė the souk. A quick shopping trip to the outdoor market area near King Hussein mosque yielded warm socks and sweaters to help get us over the hump. Souk shopping is one of many strategies my husband and I use to help us roll with the punches on road trips. Here are a few more.
When it comes to navigation, we lean towards a hybrid approach which includes both traditional and techie solutions. There are many parts of the world that havenít bothered to coordinate with app developers, so counting on the latest technologies will only get you so far. In addition to smart phone travel apps and your favorite GPS product, road atlases, local maps and MapQuest directions printed in advance should combine to provide you with all of the navigational support you need. When in doubt, call your hosts from the road or roll down your vehicle window and ask for additional directions the old fashioned way.
When problems arise that need a bit more time to solve such as construction detours or last-minute freelance assignments with an immediate turnaround, having access to Wi Fi is critical. If you have access through your wireless communications provider, fantastic. Many companies are stepping up these days with either tethering or traveling hot spot services. T-Mobile and Sprint are two such providers, Virgin Mobile is another.
If cell phone service sucks where you are (Hey, itís been known to happen.), then search out a place to grab a coffee where the business is providing it for free. Panera Bread, Whole Foods, McDonalds and even Dunkiní Donuts offer complimentary internet access, as do a number of shopping malls.
Local tourism offices and information bureaus are a great source of intel when it comes to searching out a great place to stay or have dinner in an unfamiliar place. Even the best researched vacations and business trips can hit a snag. Severe weather, construction delays, vehicle snafus and more have all been known to rear their ugly heads to interfere with my travel plans over the years. Chances are it will happen to you too, eventually. The other cool thing about tourism bureaus is they tend to have brochures on hand that include discount coupons for new visitors. Gotta love a bargain shopping opportunity when it presents itself.
Speaking of bargains, North American thrift stores provide me with an affordable network of establishments within which to shop for things like sweaters, gloves and scarves when weather on the road takes an unexpectedly cold turn. Similarly, I can usually find some sort of luggage there if mine gets lost by the airline. It might not be comparable in price or functionality to what I have lost, but it can get the job done until I have a chance to file the reimbursement paperwork.
I actually rely on these quite a bit. If we are in the middle of a long road trip, itís extremely helpful to be able to find the nearest location of our typical go-to stores for things like Wi Fi, denim replacement, vegan fast food and more when an unplanned detour becomes necessary. We also use these to plan where on the route we can stop for an afternoon email check, and coordinate for fuel-up at the same time.
Do you have a favorite way to roll with the punches on road trips? Share your travel strategies below! We love hearing from you.
Photo Credit: Chovee