Saturday, February 26, 2011

Atlantic Coast roadtrip - itinerary planning

The first thing we did once we had decided on doing the roadtrip up/down the Atlantic coast was to figure out the places we wish to visit. Most of the research was done online for interesting places to see and interesting things to do along the Atlantic coast.

We also referenced some travel guide books like the "Road trip USA Atlantic coast" , "United States on the road" & "Lonely Planet USA". During the earlier stages of our trip planning, we had also requested for travel guides to be mailed to us by submitting our requests at some of the official tourism sites of major cities such as Washington DC, Orlando etc. Some of the tourism websites of North Carolina and South Carolina also offer downloadable ebrochures/maps which made our trip planning that much easier.

With all the information gathered, we narrowed down our pit stops to the following places:
- Princeton NJ (1 night)
- Washington DC (5 nights)
- Norfolk VA
- Nags Head NC (2 nights)
- Wilmington NC (1 night)
- Myrtle Beach SC
- Charleston SC (1 night)
- St Augustine FL (2 nights)
- Daytona Beach FL
- Melbourne FL (1 night)
- Miami FL (2 nights)
- Key West FL (2 nights)
- Homestead FL
- Kendall FL (1 night)
- KissimmeeFL (2 nights)
- Cape Canaveral FL (1 night)
- Savannah GA (2 nights)
- Garner NC (1 night)
- Baltimore MD (2 nights)
- Philadelphia PA (3 nights)

As far as possible, we tried to plan our stops in such a way to keep the number of hours of driving to not more than 6 hours each day (we only had 1 driver!). Most of the places where we spent the night were places that we had wanted to explore....but there were 2 stops along the way in Kendall FL and Garner NC which were purely rest stops.

Of course, every roadtrip itinerary should allow for some degree of flexibility in case of bad weather, the driver falling sick, the car breaking down, you have to deviate from your original route or perhaps when you wanna extend your stay 'cos you are having so much fun or when you choose to cut short your trip etc. Always have some backup plans in place so that you won't be at a loss what to do when things crop up. Do budget "extra" days for unforeseen I'm sure your boss won't be too pleased if you don't return to work on time.

And how many nights to spend at each location was decided based on how much we were planning to accomplish at that particular location and the fact that we had wanted to complete the entire roadtrip in 30 days. Once we had decided on all that, we started researching the accommodations at each destination.

We depended a lot on the unbiased hotel reviews at Tripadvisor for all of our hotel selections and I must say the ratings/reviews were all pretty accurate. As we had a car, it was also important that the hotels provide free/cheap parking. AAA membership is useful to have as many hotels offer good discounts for AAA members. We only booked the hotel at the next location the night before our arrival so as to give us more room for deviations. But you can only afford to do so if you are travelling during off-peak seasons when accommodations are plentiful. We generally prefer to book the accommodations online as we are able to research and compare prices. We find that usually the best online rates are much better than walk-in rates.

While planning the itinerary, we would also check the event schedules at the various destinations and would try our very best to time our arrivals to coincide with certain special events. Sometimes, even arriving on a day when the museums are closed later could help maximise your time. Another tip is to avoid arriving in big cities such as Washington DC, Philadelphia, New Jersey, NYC etc on a weekday as that's when the city traffic can get pretty nasty and parking is a pain and super costly. Also, if you want to avoid the crowds at popular tourist attractions such as Disney World or NASA Kennedy Space's much better to arrive on a weekday, non-public holiday or non-school vacation period.

It's also good to note the peak travel seasons when hotels get expensive or fully booked, crowds are everywhere and traffic is crazy......avoid those periods if possible. I think mid-Jan to early Feb seems to be a nice quiet time down at the Carolinas and Florida. But of course it could be cold during jan/feb, depending on weather conditions, if you are looking forward to some sunbathing on the beautiful beaches or frolicking in the waters in the sunshine state.

One very important tool for roadtrips is of course the GPS. Our Tomtom, with lifetime map and traffic updates, is our most trusted and loved friend. We'd use it to plan our route, avoid congestions, estimate the time required for the journey, help avoid tolls and get us on the High Occupancy Vehicle lane when necessary. It's also useful for searching for nearby tourist attractions, malls, gas stations, ATMs etc. We really cannot imagine a roadtrip (or life) without our Tomtom!

Not sure if you have noticed in our above itinerary that we had deliberately skipped Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York for this particular roadtrip as we had covered most of those states already previously. But if you are planning to visit those states as part of your Atlantic coast roadtrip, my personal recommendations are Newport and Providence in Rhode Island; Mystic, New Haven and Hartford in Connecticut; and of course, everyone should visit The Big Apple at least once in his/her lifetime!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Some statistics of our Atlantic Coast roadtrip.....

No. of days taken : 30

No. of states crossed : 14 (including Massachusetts)

Total miles driven : 4,509

No. of hotels stayed in : 17

Average hotel rate paid : USD99.36

No. of lighthouses visited : 6

Amount of $ spent on gas: ~USD400

The long painful process of unpacking........

The 2 things that I hate most about trips are the packing and the unpacking!

I had (as usual!) overpacked for our month-long roadtrip. I managed to do laundry at various stops along the we actually needed far less clothings then I had packed.

We left with a trunk load full of stuffs and we returned with even MORE.

Our loot from the trip.......mostly t-shirts and books...which we are suckers for. Borders won't be in such a sad state if there have been more booklovers like us :P
I had wanted to collect some seashells for my crafts from the various beaches along the way but I did not manage to find any worthy ones. I ended up buying these seashell charms at a museum shop in Philly.
I have been collecting magnets of the different states that we had visited. I bought a whole stack for all of the new states that we've covered in this single roadtrip but now the magnets are missing in action *sob*. I hope I hadn't misplaced them in one of the hotels :(

All the unpacking and doing of laundry is probably gonna take me a couple of days to complete.

My first Zazzle check

The year before last, I had spent all my Zazzle royalty earnings on the numerous items that I bought from

Last year, I managed to sell the following items:

206 Deepest Sympathy Cards
94 Postcards
21 Cards
4 Posters
4 Magnets
3 T-shirts
1 Pair keds shoe
1 Tie

Just received my first paycheck in the mail today. A very itsy-bitsy paycheck but considering the fact that I haven't been active in Zazzle in a long's still good easy $.

We feel your love......

We are back after 30 days on the road........and this BIG bag of stuffs greeted us at the post office today!!! When the postmaster saw me......he asked if I had driven a truck to come pick up the mails :P

What wonderful surprises we got (post-Valentine's Day!) in all the packages.....we are so grateful for your kind thoughts and generosity. Despite the cold that the arctic front brought today, we feel warm and fuzzy from all your love.
I got these CDs just before we left for our month long roadtrip....and they came in very handy indeed. My gal pals (3 x HLs & SX) had seen/heard my very limited chinese music CD collection when they came to visit and decided to help improve my collection tremendously. The love song set that they bought came with 6 discs and 101 songs in total!
The package from festive with the dui-lians and CNY decorations.....and she painstakingly wrapped each and every gift in different cutsy giftwrap...and every item even came with its own "love note". I'm extremely touched indeed........RG too....he loves the murukkus.
And a cutsy package from the cutsy WM!!! Love the unique sanrio CNY decorations and the CNY card that doubles as a table calendar (exactly what I needed but couldn't find over here in the states!!!!). Hello panda and pineapple cookies will be gone in no time I'm pretty sure of that. Rendang sauce I will save for a special occasion.
A lovely and stylish scarf from LX who always have such good taste in fashion. And I love the traditional paper cut rabbit......I'm a rabbit and it's my year.....woohoo!!!
Such a cute fabric carrier from PE and the wine charms will definitely come in very handy for our parties!!
A million thanks for your gifts, love and friendship. They mean so much to us. We love you and we can't wait to see you again soon.