By Grant Goggans
Whenever you are traveling, it is easy to focus on the destination and overlook all the fun places that you might can stop between home and the object of your journey: the mountains, the beach, the big foodie
festival in the next city. But if we’ve learned anything from our travels, it’s that some of the best eating can be found in the spaces between big cities.
The phrase to remember is “plan ahead.” Remember in the days before
you blogged, when road trips meant you pulled over and got some interstate fast food as quickly as possible while roaring ever onward to your destination. There’s no need to do that anymore.
The first suggestion is to take a few minutes before you leave, looking over your route, and find a better place to stop than the same, over-familiar fast food that’s already available in your neighborhood. Use resources like Urbanspoon
or your fellow food bloggers to find places to eat ahead of time. Don’t think of cheap food as fuel; make your stop a destination. Certainly, you will add a few more minutes to your trip if you sit down and eat instead of using a drive-thru, so just leave a little early, and enjoy a meal at local barbecue joint or a meat and three, and enjoy some vegetables instead of a greasy bag of fries.
With that in mind, keep an eye out for local farms along your route.
Take a few minutes at either a large farm or a small roadside stand, and get a basket of strawberries or blackberries instead of bags of potato chips and candy
from a gas station. A note of caution, however: if your family is anything like mine, you might end up with a back seat full of unintentional jam, preserves, and jelly from some of these farms!
Another thing to remember: throughout our country, there are pockets where you
can find regional specialties that simply are not available anywhere else. If you’re in Memphis, bound for Huntsville and a weekend at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, you’re probably going to use US-72 and pass right through the slugburger region of northeast Mississippi. You’re definitely going to want to stop at Borroum’s Drug Store or the White Trolley Cafe in Corinth and try one of these odd throwback sandwiches.
How about a trip from Charlotte to Atlanta? You can pull off in Greer SC for a plate of hash over rice at Mutt’s, and also stop in Commerce GA for a bowl of chicken mull at Banjo’s. They’re each just a few minutes off the interstate and hardly a detour at all. You’ll get to experience a meal you can’t find at home, and you also get great new content for your blog.
Some of you may be wondering what in the world slugburgers, hash, and mull are. But I also bet that you’re opening Google in another tab to find out, because you love food. Are you ready to get on the road and try them for yourself yet?
On a related note, wherever we go (and we travel a lot!), my family plans ahead for what we call “Baby Mercy Breaks.” Whether it’s just ten minutes to get a few wiggles out or an hour or more of leg-stretching, knowing in advance where we can find a highway rest area, state park, or a children’s museum is incredibly helpful, and keeps everybody in the car sane and happy.
Don’t just use them for quick restroom breaks; plan to stop and get some exercise for a few minutes! This is a good policy whether you’re traveling with young’uns or not. Even if you’re riding solo, a twenty-minute walk will keep you invigorated and awake and ready for the next leg of your journey. Just plan ahead and make the journey as important as the destination!