After a trip of this magnitude, we have lessons to share. The lessons learned are categorized below. We hope this serves as a guide to others. (Note, some of these are specific to photographers.)
Lesson 1 – Bring Less
We over packed. The next time I will bring less. For example, I brought things from home that I’ve never touched. If I would have needed them, I could have stopped at a store to purchase them.
I planned for 14 days of clothing. However, most hotels had a self-serve washer and dryer. Next time I’ll bring 10 days of clothes (just in case).
Lesson 2 – Give More Time
30 days to do 2500 miles isn’t enough time. Give more time to your trip. Perhaps one way is to break it in to several small trip. Of course, that would be more costly, but we honestly missed quite a bit. We planned for about 100 miles per day. I think 40 miles per day would have been much better.
Lesson 3 – Have a Back-home Support Person
We had one. It was my wife, Elizabethe. She handled all of our lodging and would text us where we would be staying and the confirmation number.
Lesson 4 – Rent a Car
Don’t take your own car. We put 7500 miles on the rental car. Rent one with unlimited miles. If you have the time, drive to and from on Route 66. If you have the money, drive one way, and fly home.
Lesson 5 – Visit Museums Early
If you plan to visit museums along the way, plan to visit early in the day. Most of them are closed by 5pm (or earlier).
Lesson 6 – USPS Offices Have Shorter Hours
If you need to mail postcards or letters, visit the Post Office between 10 and 11am, or 1 and 2pm. We found most Post Offices closed when we arrived. 11am to 1pm, they were out to lunch. After 2 pm they might be closed for the day. Before 10am, they might not be open yet. As a result, you only have a couple of small windows of time.
We actually found one that wasn’t a Post Office in spite of the building bearing the words, “United States Post Office”. (Location: Beverly Hills, California)
Lesson 7 – Don’t Trust Models
We had arranged for a few models to meet us along the way. In spite of much advanced planning, they flaked. While my professional experience is that most models aren’t professional these days.
So, if you make arrangements to meet a model, don’t be surprised if they flake on you.
Lesson 8 – You Won’t Need Certain Lenses
That’s right, you won’t need certain lenses. You want the widest angle lens you can get without going to a fish eye. My 15-36mm was the lens I used the most. I wish I had my 24-70mm (it was in the shop), however my 50mm came in handy. I brought my long zoom lens (70-300mm) but it proved to be useless for this type of trip.
Leave the long telephotos at home. Bring the wide angle lenses. The wider, the better.
Lesson 9 – Lots of Cards
Bring lots of memory cards. I had enough, but it was close. I shoot 32GB cards and filled about 3-4 cards per day.
Lesson 10 – Lots of Batteries
Bring lots of camera batteries. My battery pack allows for 3 batteries. There were days when I had to swap them all out for recharged ones.
You should also have a 12v charger just in case. This way you can charge them in the car.
Also, don’t forget your charger AND don’t forget to charge your batteries at night. You might want to bring an extra charger or two too.
The most important lesson learned is this – when you venture far from the car, make sure you have spare cards and batteries on you. As a result, if you do not, you’ll kick yourself because you left them in the car. This only happened to me once and I learned my lesson.
Lesson 11 – Don’t Trust Google Maps
That’s right – don’t trust google maps. This lesson learned is a result of relying on Google Maps which ran us in circles because a freeway off ramp was closed. Other times it lead us to empty fields with no hotel for miles. (They guy at the hotel, when we finally got there, said it happens to a lot of people.)
A good way to verify it is to turn the satellite image on so you can see what buildings are in the area. However, the best way is to carry a paper map along with a good Route 66 guide book.
Lesson 12 – Buy It Don’t Bring It
If you can buy it, don’t bring it.
This doesn’t apply to everything – mostly consumables. Don’t bring a lot of snacks from home. You’ll be stopping for gasoline and potty breaks, buy the snacks then.
Bringing too much fills the car and makes the trip less comfortable. As a result you should plan to pickup a snack when you stop for gas. AND, don’t buy too much. Just one item at a time.