Judging by recent postings on various Route 66
Facebook groups and pages, 2018 will be a very busy year on this storied old highway. People are asking questions and making plans. A few are planning their first odyssey. Others are seasoned “roadies” looking for something that will add a bit of zip to the next Route 66 adventure. The commonality in the threads is a quest for information.
As with any adventure, a primary challenge in preparing for a Route 66 expedition is avoidance of over-planing. Next, simply accept the fact that it is an impossibility to see and do everything in one trip, even if you have several weeks. Route 66 is an ever changing linear community, a theme park that stretches more than 2,000 miles across the heartland.
Yes, it is best if you make reservations for some of the more popular motels, places such as the Munger Moss, Wagon Wheel Motel, Roadrunner Lodge, Motel Safari, and Blue Swallow Motel. Still, as much as possible, avoid being locked into a schedule. The highlight of any Route 66 adventure is having time to visit with the artists, the authors, and the business owners. It is the people that add the magic to a Route 66 trip.
If you purchase just one guide book, make it the EZ 66 Guide by Jerry McClanahan, The book works best if you have a navigator but the book works for solo trips as well. There are some decent apps available, and there are other guide books but purchasing this book is the first step for Route 66 planning. As a bonus, McClanahan is eager to add a signature when you stop by his gallery in Oklahoma, maintains a website where updates are posted, and includes his cell number! Route 66 really is America’s longest small town.
If time allows, build a Route 66 library. Check the reviews for books on websites such as Amazon. Ask questions about books on Facebook Route 66 groups and pages. If you find a reputable, popular, and knowledgeable author, pick up several of their books. If you purchase the books from the author or from a Route 66 business, you are also giving back to the Route 66 community. Also check and see if the author has a Facebook page, a website, or blog. Surprisingly, most will take time to respond to concise inquiries.
If your not from the United States, and feel wary about traveling Route 66 alone, don’t let worry deter you from taking the trip. The Route 66 community is very accommodating, and there are active Route 66 associations in numerous countries willing to lend a hand. There are also some reputable tours companies such as Route 66 Tours in Australia, Gilligan’s Route 66 Tours in New Zealand, and U.S. Bikers in the Netherlands. A key to selecting a tour company is to find one with extensive references, and guides that are familiar with Route 66 as well as a familiarity with the business owners, artists, photographers, and characters.
Avoid myopia. This is crucial if your going to get the best from your Route 66 adventure. Next to flexibility, adding little detours to the trip is very important. Las Vegas, New Mexico, an amazing little community with expansive historic districts and the wonderful 1882 Plaza Hotel, is less than ten miles off the pre 1937 alignment of Route 66 east of Santa Fe. Likewise with adding little extras such as a Promote Kingman neon nights walking tour in the historic business district of Kingman, Arizona led by author Jim Hinckley.
Be selective in your acquisition of souvenirs. Yes, the inlaid buffalo skull would look great over the mantle but what about the cost of getting it home? Buy souvenirs that support local businesses and communities. As an example, The Kingman Life in Kingman, Arizona offers an array of souvenirs that are practical (t-shirts, travel bags, coffee mugs, etc.) and that support local businesses.
One more little tip. At the heart of Route 66’s popularity are the people – the business owners, the travelers, the enthusiasts, the authors, and the passionate eccentrics. A Route 66 adventure centers on friends and friends yet made. Don’t plan your trip as though it is a military campaign. Plan it as though it is a voyage of discovery. Plan it with eager anticipation. Plan it with a focus on making memories, and friendships, instead of seeing how many points of interest you can crowd into the schedule.
See you on the road!