Route 66 Road Trip ~ Before I Post Our Journey, Lessons Learned If You Go

HollbrookI shot this iconic Historic Route 66 scene on my smartphone. Larry and I live in LA; we flew to Chicago, rented a car and drove 11 days, 8 states and 2675 miles across our big country to reach end-point Santa Monica, a few miles from home. Some people have this trip on their bucket list; we sure did!

Trip — First three days

Trip — Mid-Point

Trip — Final leg of the journey

Trip — Lessons Learned 

Larry and I have taken a few multi-state road trips. Staying married is one of our goals… a whole lotta togetherness inside a small vehicle can test your {ahem} patience. Two Type-A’s… well, also being control freaks, we have developed SYSTEMS, which really DO help:

  • Do hit a Wal-Mart at the beginning of the drive. We buy a Styrofoam ice chest, case of bottled water, fresh apples. When grumpy, eat an apple. Drink lots of water. PS, we WISH we thought to pick up a can of WD-40. The bathroom door of practically every hotel room squealed; we used hand lotion to silence some.
  • Do carry quality chocolate. I packed a pound of See’s.
  • Don’t skip meals. Get out of the car, stretch your legs, use the bathroom, and TALK to locals. Very fun.
  • Don’t pass up the opportunity to use the facilities. Even if you went 15 minutes ago, if you are walking past a potty, use it. There is no guarantee another chance will show up at the right time. And yes, keep drinking water – so important. Wal-Mart bathrooms. Construction site porta-potties. Carry handy-wipes.


  • Don’t let the gas tank go below half empty. Larry worked in gas stations during high school and college; he has taught me to take this seriously – just keep filling it up, check the tires often, scrub the bugs off the windshield at every stop. Smile
  • Don’t let the sun go down before booking that night’s hotel. We court disaster when tired, hungry, grumpy. Use AAA travel books or hotel apps on a smartphone. Mid-afternoon, while the driver drives, the navigator dials. We used hotel points several times for FREE rooms — in small towns just 10,000 points. Call, don’t walk in their door. You get better rates, sez Larry.
  • Do pack an extension cord with at least four outlets. Plug all chargers nightly in one spot. Pack the wad of tech stuff in one ziplock and you will avoid leaving something behind, like that charger plugged waaaay behind a dresser.
  • Do note operating hours for attractions. It is tricky to time your drive to hit museums on a weekday between 9 and 5, for example. We’d arrive at the wrong time, wrong day, after dark or needed to hit the road too early in the morning. LUCKILY, the gates at the national cemetery in Springfield, IL, where Abraham Lincoln is buried were wide open after sundown. They were refurbishing during the day, yet someone didn’t close the gate and no security. We looked in the dark distance and saw an American flag that was lit, took our chances and zig-zag drove to find Lincoln’s grave. Good porta potty, too. IMG_6201One last point… don’t carry a loaded gun in the car. I love my husband, don’t get me wrong. But BOTH OF US would have been tempted to use it – on the other – at some point on Route 66. The scene, above, of Cadillac Ranch took several U-turns, missed exits, pages from our AAA book FLEW out the car door when we stopped in crazy Texas winds to hoof it to the middle of this field. Whew, no gun – we experienced this treasure up close. (No, we don’t own any guns. Larry once took me to an indoor firing range to shoot pistols at a target. I was an adequate shot.)
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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Worth The Whisk November 12, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Spencer, HOORAY for road trips!

2 Spencer November 12, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Hi Patti&Larry, Sandra & I just finished 2 1/2 months on the road (8000 miles) LA to Indianapolis(visited our young grandchildren) and back. Saw alot of the great national parks (Tetons, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore). I agree, cars travel faster, hotels are more comfortable.

3 Worth The Whisk November 3, 2011 at 9:18 am

The baby rattlers, we saw those. SO ROUTE 66 KITCH. Thanks for the comment!

4 Worth The Whisk November 3, 2011 at 9:18 am

Tori, in all honesty, an RV couldn’t do this trip (yet, some people will surely write a comment that they DID. Too crazy). You would have to find an RV park every night, not possible in so many of those towns. The road is often so messed up and “original,” it would take you a month to drive the distance. Just envisioning how to pull a U-Turn (of which we did a hundred) to photograph that sign or historic sight, wouldn’t work. And one more thing… we came to really appreciate the roomy showers and fresh sheets every night in a new hotel.

5 Tori @ The Shiksa in the Kitchen November 2, 2011 at 6:44 pm

I love this list! Great tips. My family and I did a road trip from Washington DC to Miami Beach. It was one of the greatest trips of my life! The things you see, and the people you meet, stay with you always. I’ll have to try Route 66 next. But I’ll probably rent an RV before I venture that many miles! 😉

6 willene November 2, 2011 at 9:48 am

Glad you and Larry survived, I traveled that road when i was a kid, 7 people crammed in a 1946 chevy, but it was fun at that time, stopping to see the Baby rattlers in a cage! (not snakes) real baby rattlers lol!! I was so disappointed!

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