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The Ultimate Guide to Route 66

Published 30 March 2016

Keyta Hawkins

There are few things in the world better than a road trip. With fuel in your tank, an inner anticipation for adventure and nothing but the open road ahead beckoning you forth to your destination; it’s freedom at its best!

Right at the top of any road trip lover’s bucket list is Route 66, the world’s most famous tarmac which spans 24,000 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica. Also known as the ‘Will Rogers Highway’ or the ‘Mother Road’, Route 66 is one of the best ways to experience the diverse landscapes of the eight states and three time zones that it intersects. The route was decommissioned when they introduced the more efficient Super Highways but to this day it’s still ultra-popular, albeit with travellers and adventurers. 

As exciting as Route 66 can be, it’s not an endeavour to be taken lightly, especially considering it is advised to spare at least two weeks to complete it by car and even longer by motorbike. So buckle up for our ultimate Route 66 tips, guaranteed to prepare you for the ride of your life.  

Keep costs low

24,000 miles of petrol isn’t cheap so, to keep costs low, it’s a good idea to car share. Tell your friends (and maybe even their friends!) that you are planning to do Route 66 and see if anyone else is interested in joining you. You can also check out Tripr and TripAdvisor forums, which are great online platforms for not only getting advice but also for meeting other travellers and arranging trips. Getting a good deal on flights and booking accommodation is also a good way to keep costs to a minimum.

Choose your travel buddies carefully

As cheap and convenient as car sharing can be, it is also essential to carefully choose WHO you want to go with. Being in a confined space with anyone for days on end can be taxing, so make sure that you travel with people you get on with and share the same travel style and ethos with. 

Make a rough plan

It’s a good idea to make a flexible travel plan that factors in how many hours you intend to drive each day, how many miles you plan to cover and which excursions you are hoping to take. You shouldn’t forget to get your kicks when on Route 66, so allow for some time to explore a few of the key hubs en route such as Chicago, Springfield and Oklahoma City, as well as attractions like the McDonald's #1 Store Museum or a baseball game.

Don’t drive too much

It goes without saying that Route 66 involves a lot of driving, so if you are the designated driver, try to pace yourself and if possible, share the driving load with someone else. Many people who take on Route 66 choose to ride for 5-7 hours per day during the daytime so they can enjoy the scenery.   

Choose when to go carefully

The best times to do Route 66 are often thought to be between May and October. Outside of this season, there is a high probability that you will face snow during your journey and many of the on-route attractions or tours are closed. 

Come prepared

Ensure that you bring all of the road trip essentials, including; maps, guides, photo IDs, driver’s licence, passport, first aid kit and a torch.  Entertainment is essential, so bring a stash of CDs and download some new tracks or even audiobooks. Depending on how long you anticipate your journey to be, pack enough clothes accordingly. Lastly, don’t forget to take out travel insurance to cover you in the event of a break down and give your car a once over before setting off to ensure that it’s in full working order and that you won't get caught out by your rental company. Be sure to take photos/videos of your car before you drive it away, so you have a record of any scratches or bumps that were already on the vehicle.

Start planning your very own Route 66 roadtrip with us

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