When traveling nationally, a car can often be the most efficient way of getting around. You are able to take short cuts, stop whenever you want and travel at your own pace. Not to mention now queues at the airport, no risk of DVT and no jet lag.
One of the best ways to travel by car in America is using the interstate highway system. Drivers should know a few basic things before planning a trip that involves the interstate highway.
Exit Signs, Mile Markers
Exit signs and mile markers are two important concepts to understand when it comes to Interstate travel. Mile markers are small signs, and usually green or blue in color. They are posted to the right of the highway and on level ground. These mileposts are sometimes very difficult to read, so scan often and very carefully. Mile marker signs indicate the number of miles from a specific starting point – usually the state line.
Exit signs point you to Interstate exits. These exits may connect to other highways, or they may connect to local roads. Most GPS and travel maps available today can tell you where specific exits are located.
Many states feature exit signs that list the various services available at a given exit. If you are hungry or just looking for a place to stop and rest, scan to the right of the highway for large signs that direct to you local shops. Gas stations, lodging and restaurants common services listed on these sorts of exit signs.
State Rest Areas/Welcome Centers
State rest areas are typically located in especially rural areas. They are spaced around an hour apart, or an hour away from a metropolitan area. They offer travelers a restroom, picnic tables and snack machine services.
If there is one stop you make, consider resting at the state welcome center. The state welcome center is generally just a few miles before or after you cross the state line. These rest areas are often much nicer than the other rest areas along the highway. You can also pick up a state map, along with some coupon booklets and tourism brochures.
The state welcome center sometimes provides local experts who know the state well. You will also find tourism information, many coupons for food and lodging, and a little history lesson, as some visitor centers offer special exhibits. There are often water fountains, restrooms and picnic shelters.
You don’t really need a compass while traveling the interstate, but the basic concept of layout is useful to know and understand. Even numbers, like Interstate 64, indicate that you are traveling in an east to west direction or west to east direction. Odd numbers, like Interstate 95, indicate that you are heading either north or south.
In addition, sections of Interstate highway that loop around or through a city are numbered by adding a prefix number to the Interstate. For example, Interstate 675 is a section of Interstate 75 that loops around the city of Saginaw, Michigan.
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