Route 66: Hints & Tips
Updated: Aug 18, 2019
Over the trip we stayed in a few different types of places that fall into 3 categories:
Famous Route 66 staples, such as the Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, MO
Higher end treats - The Shore in Santa Monica being one and the Hard Rock in Vegas where we had a great suite. The tip for Vegas is going mid week and booking late. A couple of days out, you can tell from any of the big booking sites which hotels have conferences on - and are full or showing rack rates, and those which have availability and in which you can get your rock star suite for a fraction of the cost you would get at the weekend
Chain motels - most people we met did the same thing - you select from a choice of Holiday/Hampton/Comfort Inn on your first night (they tend to all be grouped together), then you keep on using that chain for the rest of the holiday. We settled on the Comfort Inn and found they were great value. Importantly, these also all have laundry facilities, which is very useful when you have limited luggage space.
In the main, I mean road kill. I came across 3 armadillo, 1 skunk and a pet chihuahua (it had a pink collar).
The main wildlife to worry about are dogs. There are loads of country farm dogs and with 2 bikes, I effectively woke them up, then Gaz would get chased by them. When it came to a recommendation in the book to take a side route a few miles to a ghost town, inhabited only by dogs, we looked at each other and agreed, "no, you're alright'.
What to wear
Going through my biking closet, I realised that I didn't have anything appropriate to wear for the trip. I wanted to wear some decent protective clothing, but my leathers would have been too hot and my textiles at the time had no ventilation. I splashed out on an 'Airflow' suit from BMW in a sandy colour. At just shy of £600, this isn't a cheap option, though I have been very pleased with it. This has well vented sections as well as reflecting the heat. Though I did get wet the once - with the heat, I dried off nice and quickly. I did take a pair of Kevlar jeans, but I only wore them the once and felt too hot in them. Gareth did wear his Draggin (Kevlar) jeans and his usual Spada textile jacket (with vents) for the whole trip. Both of us were comfortable and happy to be wearing what we felt was enough protection.
A number of commentators suggest that you invest in a 'cooling vest'. I wouldn't personally bother - when will you wear it again in the UK?! (To be fair, I've only worn my Airflow suit once in the UK(!) - though it has done me proud on our trip to the Balkans and will go overseas again this year).
The best tip I had for heat was from a fellow biker on our last day of the Route. He told me that all Californians know that you should have a bandanna and wet that if you are hot - or wet your t-shirt if really hot. As you travel, the water will feel cool against the skin. He's right. A tip I put into practice about halfway down Santa Monica Boulevard, an hour after we said our goodbyes to our fellow biker.
When to go
Effectively you want to miss winter in Chicago and the summer in the Nevada dessert, which basically means Spring or Autumn/Fall. We lucked out at the beginning of September as it should have been about 5 degrees warmer. The easiest is to look when tour groups go - and use similar dates.
My biggest tip though - is go & do it. This is probably one of the best holidays we have ever had. You will not regret it.