American Nomad Blog
About this blog
American Nomad covers the best of U.S. travel—from vacation deals to festivals, weekend getaways, travel tips, and more. A seasoned traveler and Moon author, Laura is the perfect guide to help discover new gems when traveling domestically.
- A Southern Girl's Wintertime Adventure in Yellowstone
- One Novelist's Odyssey Across America
- Gearing up for a Family Camping Trip
- Mint Juleps and More at Oak Alley Plantation
- Avoiding Identity Theft While on Vacation
- Money-Saving Travel Tips from Nomadic Matt
- Fashion, Fun, and Convenience for the Modern Traveler
- In Search of Irish Museums Across America
- The Inspiring Journey of a Solo Kayaker
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 2
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 1
- Experiencing Yosemite with YExplore
- Two Travel Contests Worth Mentioning
- A Word About the TSA's No-No List
- A Reader's Advice About Airport Security
Tools of the Trade
Believe me, I know I’m lucky. I’ve been traveling across this amazing country since I was a little girl. Over the years, my mother and I took numerous road trips from our home in New Orleans – to places like San Antonio, the Rocky Mountains, Disneyworld, Monticello, the National Mall, and Niagara Falls. For each trip, Mom would plan far in advance, relying on her AAA membership to secure discounted hotel rates and figuring out our routes with complimentary AAA maps and tour books. Since I was underage, her main job was to drive while mine was to navigate our way through unfamiliar towns and cities. In fact, she affectionately called me her “Little Navigator.”
Of course, my husband, Dan, finds this ironic, for as an adult, I’ve been known to get lost more than once – including that time in the woods of southern England – but that’s another story. What I find most interesting nowadays is the fact that Mom and I managed to reach our destinations at all – or better yet, how people made it to places two hundred years ago. With all the available technology – from websites like MapQuest.com to handheld global positioning system (GPS) devices – it’s almost impossible to get lost today.
And yet, people still do. Perhaps because we’ve become too dependent on such navigational tools. Some of us rely so heavily on cell phones equipped with navigational programming that we are genuinely shocked when we turn down a one-way street, but such mistakes do happen. Overall, I’m grateful for these improvements in technology, but I also try to keep my map-reading skills honed, just in case.
When Dan and I are on the road – which is often the case – we make sure to have several navigational tools at our disposal, including a countrywide atlas, specific road maps, relevant guidebooks, a laptop with a wireless card (for looking up online maps if necessary), and a cell phone with detailed navigational technology (including accurate mileage and construction updates). Perhaps it sounds like overkill, but it’s no fun wasting time on the wrong road, facing unexpected construction, or getting lost in a bad neighborhood. So, we happily embrace new-and-improved tools of the trade. At the same time, we understand that a reliance on such technology can be detrimental. After all, even in America, there are still places where cell phones don’t work properly. At such times, I’m grateful that maps and compasses aren’t completely foreign to me - and that I'm comfortable asking for directions, if necessary.
So, what tools do you rely on when you’re on the road?
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below or contact me at laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.