Why You Should Avoid Motorways on a Road Trip

Avoiding motorways may be the key to your best trip yet

“I am really going to do this?” This is what you may begin to ask yourself when you see your journey time double after choosing to avoid motorways during your road trip. We totally understand you. Choosing to postpone your time of arrival is definitely a crazy idea, considering almost everyone is usually on a never-ending quest to make their preferred means of transportation faster for as long as we can remember. That’s why human beings invented route planners and Satnav to calculate the fastest route to our desired destination, as opposed to the slowest.

Embracing the idea of leaving behind the crowded motorways during your long-distance journey may seem intimidating, but we encourage you to do just that. In this blog post, we will share various reasons you should use Google Maps to avoid motorways on your next road trip.

Prettier Scenery on Smaller Roads

One of the notable advantages of taking alternative routes is the opportunity to enjoy more picturesque scenery. Unlike motorways, which primarily serve the purpose of efficiently transporting people and goods between destinations, smaller roads offer captivating views.

For example, during a recent road trip, I chose to drive along A1A all the way to Jacksonville, revelling in the proximity of the ocean throughout the entire journey. It brings about a sense of tranquillity and reminds me of an interview with a renowned marathon runner who praised the splendid course of the San Diego marathon.

He emphasized that his focus was always on the road ahead, stating that he cannot afford to be distracted by the surrounding scenery. This perspective resonates with the experience of driving on interstates, where one encounters endless stretches of traffic, trucks, and predominantly straight roads designed for efficiency. Settling into cruise control mode, it often feels like time passes by without much change, and before you know it, an hour or even four have gone by.

Avoid paying tolls

Now let's delve into a topic that excites most travellers: money! Money-saving tips are highly sought-after travel hacks. Hence, the primary reason to steer clear of motorways is simple: by avoiding them, you can avoid paying tolls.

campervan motorways

Europe is home to numerous toll roads, and the fees can be substantial, particularly on long-distance journeys. Actively opting out of toll roads can result in significant savings. However, it's not just about avoiding unnecessary expenses. We're all familiar with the anxious scramble for coins or the panic that sets in when your third and final card gets declined, while the line of cars behind you grows longer in the rearview mirror. Now picture the sheer bliss of not having to endure any of that. You don't even have to completely avoid all motorways; many route planners and navigation apps include a built-in option to bypass toll sections.

Serendipitous Discoveries

When embarking on road trips, I have a natural inclination to wander. Instead of sticking to a direct route along A1A, I enjoy meandering through neighbourhoods, stumbling upon serendipitous scenic byways, and exploring intriguing historical landmarks. While it's possible to come across similar discoveries from interstates, it would require prior planning, thus eliminating the element of spontaneity.

While travelling along A1A, I stumbled upon numerous diverging paths that led to mesmerizing views of the intracoastal waterways, captivating nature preserves, and the ever-present proximity of the beach, just a few steps away.

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No need for vignettes

Some countries go to great lengths by requiring the purchase of a vignette for driving on their motorways. Vignettes can be quite expensive, primarily because they are often valid for a considerable period of time. In Europe, Switzerland currently holds the title for being the most expensive when it comes to vignettes, costing 40 Swiss Francs per year. This can be a significant expense, especially if you are just passing through or using the vignette for a short duration.

While obtaining a vignette is typically a relatively straightforward process, it can still be somewhat inconvenient. Border crossings within the European Union often lack prominent signage indicating the transition into a new country, making it easy to forget the requirement of a vignette. To avoid potential fines, you then have to hastily find a place to purchase one and hope that you don't encounter any language barriers along the way. What many travellers fail to realize is that in most countries, vignettes are only necessary for motorways. By avoiding motorways altogether, you can potentially circumvent the need to purchase a vignette.

Friendly People

Among my most cherished road trip routes was the stretch between Tifton, Georgia, and Memphis, Tennessee, passing through Eufaula, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa. What made it truly remarkable was the warm reception from oncoming drivers, individuals relaxing on porches, or those strolling or standing nearby – nearly everyone would offer a friendly wave.

While this particular experience stands out, numerous other country roads, farm roads, and smaller routes provide a similar experience. Whether it's a simple lift of the index finger from the steering wheel or a wholehearted hand wave, such friendliness is a rarity on interstate highways.

Less traffic

Now comes the exciting part, as avoiding motorways offers far more benefits than just saving money. In fact, it's about what you can avoid losing. While traffic congestion can occur on any road, those on non-motorway routes tend to be less exasperating than their motorway counterparts. Firstly, you have the advantage of having more captivating sights than simply staring at the car ahead, the guardrail, or the disappointingly empty hard shoulder. Moreover, you have numerous alternative routes available, providing more escape options than waiting for the next exit, which always seems to be miles away. However, we do recommend avoiding cities and towns during rush hour, as you may still encounter some delays in those areas.

Is travelling by campervan more eco-friendly really?

traffic jam

Quality stopovers

Opting for scenic roads leads to more pleasant and inviting stopovers along your journey. Bid farewell to hurried pit stops at unattractive petrol stations and welcome amazing picnics in majestic scenery. When you steer clear of motorways, taking a stroll in a nearby park becomes a delightful possibility. And let's not forget the added benefit of finding higher quality and fresher food. You'll come across farmers selling their fresh produce by the roadside, bakeries nestled in picturesque village squares, or even have the convenience of a quick supermarket visit. It goes without saying that urgent bathroom breaks will never pose a problem again.

Journey versus destination

This serves as a general reminder to take a moment to appreciate the simple pleasures in life. Fill your road trip with a sense of serenity and relaxation, as highway drives can often be stressful. On smaller roads, instances of road rage are less frequent. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wisely stated, "Life is a journey, not a destination."

Drive with the windows down

Last but not least, driving with the windows down can greatly enhance your experience, especially if you choose to rent a classic VW campervan or a similar model for your holiday. While older campervans may lack air conditioning, rolling down the windows to increase airflow can be a tempting solution. However, it often leads to excessive noise when travelling at higher speeds. By avoiding motorways and adopting a slower pace, you can relish the refreshing breeze while enjoying the bonus of actually being able to hear the music coming from your speakers.

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