Taking a road trip? Bring a bag of tricks
(CNN) -- When you're car-tripping, you need accoutrements -- and not just the dull, dad-told-you-so stuff. For ideas on a beyond-road-flares road trip kit and other "practical" driving advice, we talked to Doug Kirby, an editor at Roadside America, an online guide to America's offbeat tourist attractions. Here's what he recommends:
1. Flashlight. Never take a road trip without one; You could need it for any number of things, including exploring abandoned attractions, checking out catacombs under religious theme parks and getting a good look at unlit statues at night, Kirby says. Make sure to bring along extra batteries. A hardhat is an optional accessory.
2. A tripod is an absolute essential for those travelers who like to record their adventures for posterity on video. It avoids the shaky-cam effect. As Kirby says, "When you show your vacation chronicle back home, hardly anyone will get dizzy or nauseous!"
3. You gotta have maps. Kirby recommends Rand McNally's annual road map, which is available in a clear plastic cover "to protect it from car floor scuzz and errant beverages."
4. A copy of the New Roadside America and a Mystery Spot Test Kit, Kirby tells us in a fit of shameless self-promotion. The book by Kirby and fellow editors Ken Smith and Mike Wilkins gives info on 800 offbeat tourist attractions. The Spot Test Kit is used for research on oddities across the nation, such as the Oregon Vortex in Gold Hill, Oregon, where tennis balls seem to roll up hill and brooms to stand on end. The kit holds a tape measure, various balls, a stop watch, a magnet, a compass, electrically conductive wire and holy water from the Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, New York. There is also a shower cap and polarized 3-D glasses.
The Roadside America team also pitched in some tips on the crucial road trip topics of food, sleep and tunes.
How do you eat healthy when you're on the road?
You can eat healthy at home, they reply.
"On the road, you should enjoy yourself and eat like crap. Ken, a lawn-eating vegetarian, favors a big, bland breakfast. Doug likes to gulp down coffee and doughnuts at the start of a day, then look for a Taco Bell for lunch. For dinner, Mike always seeks a sumptuous All-U-Can-Eat buffet at a family restaurant."
How do you stay alert when you're driving on long road trips?
"Slap your head against the driver's side window. Honk your horn. Get really close to the back of a tandem truck rig." (Responsibly, of course.)
What's your favorite road trip music?
Actually, it's not music at all. The listening choice of the three roadside editors is local talk radio.
"The crazier the better," they say. "Right wing wackos, or religious shows performing Sunday morning exorcisms on teens who listen to Primus. You get a sense of how wacko other parts of the country are. It makes you feel good about your own hometown!"
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