Foutsie’s Top 5 Back Roads Travel Tips

Foutsie’s Top 5 Back Roads Travel Tips, but first a little story:


My wife, our Border Collie-Aussie mix dog and I pile into our altered Dodge Grand Caravan, map in hand, full tank of gas, cooler full of drinks and food, with adventure on our mind! Heading out with a plan to only use two lane highways and smaller roads, including gravel roads, a little back roads travel, to get to our destination.

We take off in a southern direction with a plan to drive until we hit 70 degrees on the van thermometer. We are sick of the cold, cold winter and deep snow! We drive along the old Route 66 enjoying old grain mills, vintage gas stations, and light traffic.

The thermometer is edging up, into the lower sixties, still not warm enough for us.

Route 66
Vintage gas station along Route 66

The 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan we are driving has been altered with a home made wooden platform, raised high enough to fit shallow Rubbermaid bins that hold our clothes, food and survival gear. On top of the platform is 8 inches of memory foam wrapped in a sheet with nice warm blankets to snuggle in. Kash the Dog has his own memory foam bed mattress. We try to stay in campgrounds and even hook up to electric from time to time.

The rear windows have screens on them (custom made by Shelly) so we have good air at night. We also have a small fan that plugs in too!

As we get further south, 351 miles to be exact, the temperature hits 70 degrees and we immediately stop, dance around the van like kooks and celebrate! We then take stock of where we are and look for attractions, nature preserves, adventure spots, and campgrounds. This is where we start exploring! We never have a set destination the first night, it all depends on where we are when it hits 70 degrees!

covered bridge
There are always interesting things on back roads

Foutsie’s Top 5 Back Roads Travel Tips


  1. Try to get the best and most current map for the area you are travelling in. Don’t trust GPS mapping all the time. They are not always correct. If you really want to find even the tiniest, out-of-the-way attractions or oddities, obtain a county map book for the state/states you are travelling to or are staying in. There is a cost for them, but they can help you find really interesting places! One of my favorite ways to find the most interesting places or attractions is to ask someone. Especially older people. They seem to know the best and oldest places to visit. A good place to talk to locals is at the busiest little diner in town. Stay away from fast food joints! Always be kind.
  2. Make sure you have plenty of gasoline in your tank! No fun running out of gas way out in nowheresville! Another thing is to make sure you have a spare tire that has air and know how to use it. You should also have plenty of water, food, dog food, medications, and proper clothing in your vehicle. Think of your vehicle as a survival tool. Just be prepared.
  3. Have an open mind. Be aware of your surroundings. Be alert. Think of your trip as a learning adventure. Take it all in. Lots of places off the beaten path have great history that you would never learn if you were travelling on a main freeway. Many interesting places lead to even more cool spots if you start up a conversation when you run into people. Be genuinely interested and people will be glad to steer you into some of their favorite haunts. I like to bring little “gifts” from our local area to give to people that help us, or just to be kind. It can really help make a friend.
  4. Keep a journal. I take a lot of photos wherever I go. If you or your partner keeps track of the places you visit, and put a name and just a tidbit about the place, it’s much easier to go to the journal and jog the memory when editing or looking at your photos. Plus, you may want to make a return visit and the journal can help you recall where it is and what it was that interested you. We even write names of people we meet, their email address so I can send them a travel photo, and telephone numbers that we think we may need.
  5. Be prepared. A full survival kit is great to have. You could grab it and go if needed, or it has everything you need contained in one unit. That is one option. Here are a few more. It is a good idea to have a stash of money hidden really well somewhere in your vehicle. You could also keep a copy of your drivers license or identification hidden too. Always keep at least one, preferably two or three good working flashlights that are easy to get to. It would be wise to carry some tools, a sharp knife, rope, lighters, matches, blankets, and even a small shovel if you have the room. You never know if you are going to get stuck. Of course, keep your phone charged up and it may even be good to have a backup source of charging for your phone if there was not a way to charge your phone by regular means. Now, this subject is optional. Depends on your thoughts. A weapon of some kind may be a comfort to some, especially if camping out in the boondocks. I prefer carrying a wooden baseball bat. I put a price tag on it in case the authorities wonder if it is a weapon. I collect bats so I can say I just bought it at a yard sale. You have to decide for yourself on this subject.

So there you have just 5 of my personal tips on travelling on back roads and what you may want to have in your vehicle. I am somewhat of a preparedness guy. I like to have the “survival” tools just in case.  The most valuable tool of all is your common sense, knowing, seeing, and being observant.

My wife and I are the happiest and most peaceful when we are on vacation and doing the back roads travel trip, seeing things that most tourist probably would not see. And I take travel photos of it all!

We are still undecided on which back roads we are going to take or where our destination may be for our next trip. We hope to have a different vehicle by then. We are trying to find a nice Honda Odyssey mini van quickly and reasonable, so we can modify it for a comfortable sleeping van.

Happy Trails, and Back Roads Travel

Thomas, Shelly and Kash the Dog

Back roads travel
Bonneville Salt Flats

See our Pinterest travel board.




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