After having been to the USA every summer for the past few years now, BFF and I felt pretty confident that we understood how the roads etc worked and were ready to take that next step in terms of our travels. That could mean only one thing...
Our goal was to get from Gladwyne, PA to Winthrop, ME with a stop in Nashua, NH for a couple of days. Simple enough right?
It's a pretty straight line and although the drive was going to be long, we decided to go for it - it would be fun!!
We spent hours researching the best deal on hire cars (which I'm really glad we did because it ended up being pretty cheap!), researching the route, planning our rest stops (and making sure they had Dunkin' Donuts available or at the very least a Starbucks).
But nothing quite prepares you for a road trip. Nevertheless, we packed up our belongings, said our goodbyes, collected our packed lunches (thanks, Sally!) and headed to the Hertz dealership.
Now, my first tip for first time roadtrippers is to make sure you have food and water. Snacks are almost as essential as a good playlist for a roadtrip and we were not in short supply of either for ours. We were armed with Cheetos, Sour Patch Kids, M&Ms, Twizzlers and around 400 songs from the 90s (mostly Britney and Backstreet Boys - don't judge). All set for adventure!
We arrived at the dealership, worked our way through the small mountain of paperwork and were told "we will bring the car around for you!". Next thing we know a bright red Chevrolet Chase was driven to the front door and we were handed the keys. Not the girliest of cars, I'll admit but it was such an American looking car that it just seemed perfect. We named him Cruise (because we were gonna be cruising in him - duh!) and loaded him up. I was 'nominated' to drive first (which ended up being the pattern for the whole ride but whatever).
Now, I drive on the left side of the road in a manual car at home, so being faced with a left-hand drive automatic was a little confusing for the first 5 minutes but we're smart so we figured it out. We slowly crept out of the dealership, onto the main road and drove away...
...And promptly got lost.
Never fear though!! BFF's iPhone is programmed to located the nearest Dunkin' Donuts so with some questionable directions we managed to make our way there and after a whole 7 minutes of driving, we decided it was time for a coffee break.
Bagels ordered, coffee iced, we decided to re-evaluate our map and psych ourselves up for the road ahead. We were feeling pretty good about ourselves at this point. What could be more exciting than a good old-fashioned American road-trip??
Well, we were excited until some kind gentleman approached us and informed us that we had left the boot of the car open in the parking lot. The boot that contained all of our luggage. Shit.
Panic ensued and we ran out to do an inventory. Thankfully for us the road trip Gods were shining on us and nothing was taken, however our luggage was a little soggy from the sudden downpour that had occured whilst we had been merrily sipping our caramel iced lattes.
But we took it as a sign. Luck was on our side that day and it would be smooth sailing from here on out! Better to get the problems out the way early, right?
2 hours and countless wrong turns later, we were still in Pennsylvania. No matter what we tried we could not seem to find the border between PA and New Jersey!! And the more frustrated we got, the worse the drive got. We ended up paying the same toll twice because we had driven in a giant circle and there may or may not have been an incident where I drove on the shoulder rather than the actual road. But in my defence, American roads are not very well labelled!!
I have never been so happy to see "Welcome to New Jersey" in my life! Finally we were out of Pennsylvania! This called for a sugar high and a Spice Girls singalong.
From this point we really got into our stride and made up some of the time we lost earlier on from the PA debacle so we were feeling pretty good about ourselves.
We decided to take a detour around New York City because, as brave as we are, nothing can prepare you for driving through that so we took the long way around and actually ended up seeing some beatiful scenery!
Somewhere in Massachusetts, after a relaxing lunch stop, we had to stop for gas. No big deal, we put gas in all the time at home. What could go wrong?
Well, apparently a lot. From the minute we pulled out of the gas station the car started to feel weird, kind of juddery, but us being us, decided to ignore it. It got worse. And worse. And worse. Until eventually, on a bridge (because obviously disaster strikes exactly when you don't want it to) the engine light came on and we knew we had to pull over. But there is no shoulder on the bridge!! Luckily we managed to get just off the bridge and onto the shoulder before it cut out.
But now what? Two foreign girls stranded on the side of the Mass Pike with phones that didn't work well in the US. This sounds like something out of a horror movie! And while we are on the topic of our dilemma - big shout out to all those drivers who honked and yelled and waved at us as they drove past us. Thanks for your help, assholes.
At this point, I would also like to give a small piece of invaluable advice. When hiring a car ALWAYS take the breakdown cover. Because the one time you decide to be cheap and not shell out for the breakdown cover will be the time it comes back to bite you in the ass.
Eventually we managed to call Hertz and they sent us a tow truck but we also had to call the police and let them know what had happened because, of course, the spot we had broken down in was a no-tow zone so they had to give permission for the truck to tow us from there.
Finally, long story short, we got taken to the Hertz dealership in Springfield, got a new hire car and left $200 poorer and with red faces after finding out it was because we had put diesel in a petrol car...But let's just skip over this part, it isn't one of our finest moments.
We finally got to Nashua about 4 hours behind schedule and went on to get to Maine with very few problems (ok, there was a minor incident with getting lost in the Portland area but whatever) so overall, it was a success. Kind of. But I don't think we will be roadtripping again any time soon...