5 Tips For Driving a Rental Car in the United States

Unlike Europe and Asia where public transit is ubiquitous, travelling to the United States means at some point you may have to drive. In fact, driving is an integral part of the American experience, with every town and municipality flooded with capacious freeways, parking lot deserts, and long stretches of two lane blacktop.

Given the distance between destinations, in some cases it’s the only viable method of transport, making the very idea of an American vacation seem a bit challenging. However, if anything, driving in the United States is remarkably simpler than driving anywhere else in the world.

Following these 5 tips will help make the transition even easier.

1. Preparation

Before you rent your vehicle, make sure to get the proper liability coverage, provided you are not already covered by your existing car or travel insurance. Most rental car companies will offer a damage waiver that protects you in the event of damage or theft. This insurance will cost approximately $10 to $20 per day, depending on the value of the car.

Purchasing a supplemental insurance policy is especially helpful for exotic vehicles such as motorcycles, sports cars, or mobile homes, which may otherwise not be covered by the insurance policy you have at home.

Once you receive your vehicle, be sure to check its condition, including the tyre pressure and the fluid levels. A rental car is like a hotel room, its list of owners long enough to fit a dozen encyclopaedias. By performing a number of cursory checks, you can quickly identify if the car is adequate enough for the journey ahead.

2. Get a Navigation System

Most rental cars in the United States can be equipped with on-board satellite navigation systems to help you reach a destination. Not having to memorise your route will free your mind to concentrate on the dangers of the road. If a satellite navigation system is too expensive, using Google Street View or another online map service will help acquaint you with a route before you travel.

3. Driving on the Right Side of the Road

Like much of Europe, Americans drive on the right side of the road. For someone from the UK, this may feel as unnatural as standing on your head. As a foreigner you may feel the need to stubbornly cling to the left lane, despite it being dangerous and unlawful and quite possibly an act of war. However, in reality there is nothing natural about driving in either the right or left lane. This particular rule of the road is completely arbitrary, and once you overcome the initial awkwardness it should come naturally. Just be sure to stop, look, and take your time at each intersection. One of the more frequent causes of road accidents is a lack of attentiveness.

4. Eliminate Distractions

One of the ways to maintain attentiveness is to proactively eliminate distractions. Turning off the radio will help you maintain focus, and keeping your eye level raised will allow you to better anticipate dangers further down the road.

5. Rules and Regulations

There are far less rules and oversight in America in general, and the roads are no exception. Generally speaking, the standard rules of the road apply in all 50 states. If you feel uncomfortable or are having a difficult time finding a location, it’s proper etiquette for slower vehicles to stay in the right lanes, with faster vehicles on the left. For this reason, cars typically pass on the left as well.

Article by Joanie Claires from CarHire.org. Joanie writes on a wide range of travel topics including car hire ibiza.

Planning your Visit to Philadelphia

Philadelphia is a great place to visit, no matter the time of year. So if you’re heading there for business or pleasure, you should be sure to hit some, if not all, of the following locations. Here is a list of some of the top things to do in Philadelphia to make your trip planning even easier.

The Franklin Institute

Dating back to 1824, The Franklin Institute is a museum dedicated to science and technology. Kids will be in awe at the giant walk-through model of a heart, which has been a museum staple since the 1950s. The Institute is also home to the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial. Be sure to also visit the Fels Planetarium and the IMAX dome theater while you are there!

National Constitution Center

The National Constitution Center is a museum that helps people understand the United States Constitution. Exhibits feature the history of the Constitution and how it has been interpreted over the years. In the Signers’ Hall exhibit, visitors can wander between forty two realistic statues of the signers of the Constitution.

Philadelphia Zoo

The Philadelphia Zoo is known for its ability to breed animals that have been difficult to breed in captivity. The Zoo offers close-up and personal views of several of the world’s most endangered animals in the Rare Animal Conservation Center. Make sure you watch out for the freely roaming peacocks as you tour the zoo!

Adventure Aquarium

This aquarium is home to nearly eight thousand animals and over two million gallons of water tanks. At Adventure Aquarium, visitors can see many species of nautical life, including: penguins, sea turtles, hippopotamuses, and sharks. Visitors can also feed sting rays by hand! The Adventure Aquarium is technically in Camden, New Jersey, but it’s just across the river from Philadelphia so you should take the time to head over and see it.

The Academy of Natural Sciences

Having one of the largest collections of natural history specimens in the United States, visitors will not want to miss The Academy of Natural Sciences. Here, you can learn about dinosaurs and see full skeletal mounts of the reptiles. The Academy also features 37 dioramas depicting North American wildlife.

Phila Trolly Works Tour & The Big Bus Co

This tour is perfect for seeing several of Philadelphia’s landmarks in one day! Open-top tours allow visitors to fully experience the incredible city views without the hassle of driving. Experienced tour guides ensure that you learn random and interesting tidbits about the history of the city.

Eastern State Penitentiary

Designed to resemble a castle, the prison is a unique building that was designed to evoke fear and deter would-be criminals. Al Capone once called a cell home in this prison. Visitors can tour cellblocks, solitary confinement cells, death row and even Capone’s former cell.

Please Touch Museum

Known as one of the best children’s museums in the nation, Please Touch Museum is perfect for those with young ones. This Museum lets children learn through play as they explore exhibits on urban life, flying, cars and rivers.

Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell is a well-loved American landmark. Known for its crack, it hung in the steeple of Independence Hall. This bell has served as the symbol of many causes such as the abolition of slavery, an icon of the Cold War, and of course, American independence.

As you can see, visiting Philadelphia can be a great cultural experience if you know where to go and what to do. It’s best to plan your trip out ahead of time so you can make sure to make the most of your time in the amazing city.

Traveling to Find Antiques

People travel for a number of reasons, which can be group into two categories, business or pleasure.  Typically when traveling for pleasure, people have a certain goal in mind.  Some choose to travel to relax, some to create memories with family without the direct sat tv, and some are traveling to find or discover something.  Often, those looking for something special when traveling are antique collectors who are hoping to find rare items to add to their collections.  Typically people who enjoy antiques like the rich history behind a piece.  When people travel to go antiquing, they look for places that are full of history and unique people.  Here are three places that any antique or history lover should visit in their lifetime, and each of the three places is located in the Southeast. 

If you want to find deep history and a town with vast influences, look no further than Charleston, South Carolina.  Charleston was founded in 1670.  Today, you can still see the Continental, European, and Asian influences all around you.  The influences of King Charles II, the “Merry Monarch,” for which the town was named are still very present as well.  During the 18th and 19th centuries, Charleston’s seaport was of most importance, importing materials and cultures.  In the town and countryside, two major wars were fought, and invasions were commonplace.  Pirates, Indians, and armies frequented the town of Charleston, only adding to its unique influences and past.  Each year Charleston hosts a large antique event that features timeless pieces that any antique enthusiast would be thrilled to add to his or her collection.

Head to the Northwest a ways and you will find another spot rich in treasures and history.  Asheville, North Carolina has had quite the past.  The first settlers came to the area in 1784.  In 1864 the population was 500, and today it is around 85,000.  A Confederate military hub was located in Asheville during the Civil War. Shortly after the Civil War, the now historic Biltmore House began construction.  Still, the Biltmore is the largest privately owned home in the country.  Years later when the economy was booming in the 1920s, Asheville hosted a variety of people from famous authors to presidents.  F. Scott Fitzgerald frequented the town.  Of course, the 1930s brought a time of depression, and Asheville was one of the hardest hit cities of all.  However, today you will find the city bustling.  Still you can witness the history of the town when you are visiting.  For antique lovers, the best antiques can be found in the Biltmore Antique District.  There you will find the Sweeten Creek Antique Mall which hosts 31,000 feet of antiques, and the Antique Tobacco Barn has 70,000 square feet of antiques.  If you are looking for treasures, you will surely find them in Asheville.

Staying in North Carolina, but heading east, the small town of Cameron is a huge antique destination.  It has repeatedly been voted “Best Antique Area in North Carolina” in North Carolina’s Our State Magazine.  The humble beginnings of this tiny town are like that of many of the towns in North Carolina.  It started with the railroad track, and the town was built around it.  Along with the railroad, the town also featured the Fayetteville Plank Road.  In 1875 when the track came through, so did the people to settle in the area.  The most prominent businesses of the time were turpentine distilleries and dewberry farming.  The antique stores found in Cameron are all in the original buildings that were once homes, doctors’ offices, and general stores in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  The antique fairs and festivals are spread throughout the year in Cameron, and often even more vendors come into the town with more selection.

Best Places for Horseback Riding on Vacation

Whether or not you have ever ridden a horse before, there are many places that now offer horseback riding experiences in some of the most beautiful places in America. This list will also be helpful for those who own their own horses and wish to learn of new destinations to trailer and ride at their leisure.

Asheville, North Carolina

Western North Carolina has a plethora of horseback riding experiences that you will cherish and never forget. The year-round, mild weather is perfect for scheduling your vacation whenever is convenient for you and your family, but the fall is the busiest time of the year, attracting millions of tourists to see the blanket of colorful leaves as they travel on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Asheville is home to the Biltmore Estate, the largest, privately owned home in America. You are welcome to trailer in your own horse, or take a guided tour on one of the stable’s horses and ride on the same trails George Vanderbilt rode on in the early 1900’s. Asheville is also close to the Great Smoky Mountains as well as Pisgah National Forest and less than an hour away is DuPont State Forest. DuPont is home to some of the most gorgeous waterfalls, and the trails are very equestrian friendly – offering permanent horse ties at each waterfall lookout as well as hundreds of miles of groomed trails with good footing and unbelievable views. Local stables offer guided tours and horse rentals at most of the national parks including the Smokies and DuPont.

Amelia Island, Florida

You know you’ve thought about it – galloping along the beach, bareback, the salty air blowing through your hair and the sound of hoof beats hitting the ocean water and wet sand. Although you might not be able to gallop along the beach, you can still enjoy an afternoon taking a nice stroll on horseback along one of the only beaches that allows it. Amelia Island is located on the northernmost section of the east coast of Florida and offers some beautiful riding on its white, sandy beaches bordering the cobalt blue ocean. There is a state-endorsed working ranch located on Amelia Island that offers guided rides for all ages.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Not just a place to gamble and stay up all night, but Las Vegas also offers some great horseback riding adventures just outside the neon lights and casinos. Nevada is also famous for its gorges and canyons, and you’ll get a chance to marvel at the beauty first hand. Steep trails along the ridges close you into the canyon while boulders jut out of the sandstone walls and enormous cliffs tower above you. Much of the land appears just as it had to settlers long ago, but atop of many of the ridges, you can view the famous strip, Lake Mead, and on clear days, the Grand Canyon.

Dubois, Wyoming

One of the largest states with one of the smallest populations, Wyoming is surely one of the best places to horseback ride on vacation. Located 50 miles away from Yellowstone National Park, Dubois offers miles of unspoiled terrain with ever changing views and endless opportunities to enjoy nature at its finest. If you have visions of the Old West, Wyoming is certainly the place to go as dude ranches scatter the area and offer visitors a chance to experience the life of a cowboy by participating in cattle round-ups, horseback riding, and living the life of a working rancher.

Vail/Beaver Creek, Colorado

Not just one of the best places in the United States to go skiing, Vail offers some of the best scenery to horseback ride as well. See the Rockies the way they were meant to be seen, from the back of horse! Vail has incredible weather, boasting over 300 days of sunshine, endless ridges and ranges, aspen forests, rolling meadows and open fields – there’s enough variety in terrain to please the most discriminating rider.

Jeff writes on travel topics for the Travel Insurance Blog where people can find information to help them get the best deal, and coverage, on travel insurance.