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The Open Road
By Yvonne Liu

I love the feeling of speeding down a highway with beautiful green scenery on both sides. With the radio blasting good "driving" songs, I can cruise for hours on end. Maybe it's my way of relaxing. Or perhaps driving is my "thinking" time. Better yet, it's one way for me to get the restlessness of staying in one place out. Ever read On the Road by Jack Kerouac? It's about some guys who embrace freedom and the open road, crisscrossing from East Coast to West, and back again. While I don't have the luxury to do so just yet, what better way for you to vacation than to explore this vast country we call America by the American way-in the automobile and on the open road.

The first thing you should do before you embark on a trip is to decide where it is you want to go. Have you always wanted to explore the city of Atlanta, Georgia? Want to go hiking through Yosemite National Forest? Thinking about spending a week down in Texas? To help you decide, travel books are a good starting point. Travel books offer a wealth of information for the region you want to visit or even specific cities. You can find out everything from major attractions and events, to dining hot spots and hotel information.

Or, if you are a free spirit just looking for some fun, freedom, and adventure, a good book is The Bad Girl's Guide to the Open Road by Cameron Tuttle. Even if you're not a girl, it's still a great guide to keep in the back seat or glove compartment. Tips such as "essential drive-by dating hand signals," "how to change a flat tire without asking for help," and "how open a beer bottle with your car" just aren't found in the usual handbooks.

Road trips are flexible. You can do it alone or with friends. And if you have family, well, they can come along, too. Just be prepared with the essentials no matter who's in the car with you (or not): maps, water, snacks, good driving music, sunglasses, sunscreen, money, a flashlight, jumper cables (just in case), a camera to record the craziness, and a sense of adventure. Whether you pick up the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World 2000 by Bob Sehlinger or the AAA Guide to the National Parks by Sara Roen, et al, check out Amazon.com for travel books galore. Happy driving!

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