Memorial Day is the unofficial kickoff to summer and millions of Americans take a vacation over the holiday weekend primarily by car or recreational vehicle. The Friday before Memorial Day has been declared National Road Trip Day.
Today is National Road Trip Day and I’m celebrating two kinds of road trippers, the tourist and the pilot. Sightseeing tourists like to take their time choosing scenic routes with numerous breaks for exploring, hiking, and photography while pilots are on a mission to get to their destination with as few breaks as possible. However, you like to road trip, be sure to drive safely.
Plan your route with a full tank of fuel, snacks, music, and other travel necessities along your route no matter which kind of road tripper you are.
In case you care, today is also National Cellophane Tape Day, National Grape Popsicle Day, National Cooler Day, and National Don’t Fry Day.
It’s National Road Trip Day: Check out these interesting facts about the Interstate Highway System
The interstate highway system was officially born on June 29, 1956 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act. Eisenhower’s interest in the concept was piqued during his tour of the German autobahn system in World War II when he was Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. Initially, he saw its significance in terms of military logistics. Today, almost everything we use in daily life—food, apparel, furniture, appliances, tools, building materials, medical supplies, you name it—has traveled an interstate highway on its way to a local store.
Here are some interesting facts about the Interstate System, some of which have practical value:
- Even-numbered Interstate highways always travel east/west
- Odd-numbered Interstate highways always travel north/south
- The side of the small sign with the exit number will tell you whether the exit is on the right or left
- On one- or two-digit Interstates, the mile marker numbering begins at the southern or western state line
- If an Interstate originates within a state, the numbering begins from the location where the road begins in the south or west
- The Interstate Highway System stretches 47,622 miles and includes 10 transcontinental routes varying in length from 18 miles to over 3,000 miles
- Longest Interstate: I-90, 3,085 miles (Seattle to Boston)
- Shortest Interstate: I-97, 17 miles (Annapolis to Baltimore, Maryland)
- State with the most Interstate mileage: Texas, 3,232 miles
- State with the most Interstate routes: New York, 29 routes
- Interstate routes across the most states: I-95, 16 states (Florida to Maine)
- Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico use their own interstate system as they are not connected to the rest of the country
It’s National Road Trip Day: Check out the history and significance of the day
Whether it’s to pay tribute to fallen national heroes by visiting war memorials across the country or an excuse to get out of town for a change of scenery, the road trip has been loved by Americans throughout history. From great works of literature inspired by the road to songs that we know and love—road trips mean something to everyone which is why it’s exciting that the road trip has a special day of its own.
National Road Trip Day is the day when families hit the road and find out the wonders that await them on the journey. Road trips are a great way to relax and spend time with your family and friends. In simple terms, a road trip means a journey or trip on the road.
National Road Trip Day became an official holiday in 2019, thanks to Pilot Flying J, the largest travel center operator in North America. They chose the Friday before Memorial Day because of the long weekend ahead and with May being the start of summer it kick-starts the travel season, too. Since travel stories are ingrained into the very history of America with wagon trains heading west in the 1840s and Native Americans exploring the country long before that—it makes sense to observe a day that celebrates travel by road.
Looking back at history, the concept of the road trip was described back in 1888 in Germany. The first recorded road trip across the U.S. began in 1903 with a bet. Someone bet Horatio Nelson Jackson (a physician and automobile pioneer) that he could not travel from San Francisco to New York City in less than 90 days. Accompanied by mechanic Sewall K. Crocker and a dog named Bud, they set off in a 20-horsepower Winston to prove them wrong. Despite numerous mishaps, Jackson and Crocker completed the trip in 63 days.
By the 1930s, the famous Route 66 opened America to cross-country travel. Many began to migrate west while others took to the road for vacations. By the 1950s, America was the world’s largest car manufacturer and nearly 75 percent of American families owned a car which became a symbol of American pop culture.
Road trips became the typical holiday of the American middle classes leading to a boom in drive-ins and roadside motels. Hippies in the ’60s then converted the road trip into a full-blown lifestyle, turning vans and buses into homes on wheels.
It’s National Road Trip Day: Tips for planning a road trip
Everything is in the planning. It can be a lot of fun and relieve a lot of stress along the way.
Use a travel app: Apps are everything, so why not leverage technology to help you plan your route.
Soup up your ride: Check everything out beforehand from wipers to registration papers, leave no stone unturned.
Plot a course: Keep in mind important factors like traffic flow, bathroom stops, and roadblocks/diversions.
Compile a playlist: The majority of travelers say that what you listen to can make or break your trip experience, so prep well.
Stakeout your take-out: While snacks are essential, plan your meals and take-out stops in advance, too.
It’s National Road Trip Day: Take healthy habits on your road trip
So while you’re checking your budget and consulting maps and travel guides, here are some health-related factors to consider.
Stay hydrated, but wisely: Travel with water bottles and a cooler rather than sodas.
Build in breaks: When you’re sitting in the car or RV for hours at a time, blood doesn’t pump as well throughout the body. It’s a good idea to stop every two to three hours just to get up and stretch and walk around to get the blood flowing.
The sun doesn’t shine just at the beach: It’s blasting through the windows. Don’t forget sunscreen and sunglasses while you’re driving.
How to spend National Road Trip Day in 2023?
National Road Trip can be celebrated by planning a quick road trip with family and friends. You can spend the day hitting the road to discover unknown destinations or attractions. You can drive a scenic byway or All-American Road. You can even finish it by watching a road trip movie.
Because the greatest part of a road trip isn’t arriving at your destination. It’s all the wild stuff that happens along the way.
—Emma Chase, Tamed