Having taken more than my fair share of road trips flying by the seat of my pants, a couple of years ago I decided to give The Next Exit a try.
The Next Exit is a complete guide to traveling on interstate highways in the US.
What this guide does is to tell you what is coming up at the Next Exit in the way of food, fuel, lodging, toll roads and an assortment of other useful things. This information is invaluable when planning when to stop to gas up, eat or sleep. Knowing what is coming and when allows for better planning - no getting stuck eating at the local roach coach or filling up at the highest prices because you don’t know how far the next food or fuel stop will be. Also facilities that are RV accessible are printed in red and truck stops are marked with a red @.
I have found The Next Exit most valuable after getting stuck in traffic for hours and needing to stop a lot sooner than scheduled for lodging. By looking up what hotels and motels are coming up I can eliminate the need to stop too soon or end up in a long stretch without any lodging in sight with my eyelids refusing to stay open.
My son will probably tell you that to him, this guide is great on knowing when the good restaurants are coming up. There are places that he likes to eat that are not local and it would be a crime to stop and eat just a handful of exits away from one of these great places.
The guide is broken down in alphabetical order by state, and then in numerical order by highway, making it easy to flip through. I do use colored tabs to mark the pages that I will be using the most for quick and easy access.
The Next Exit is NOT a map. While it does have limited mapping inside the guide, if you need a map for your trip you will need to purchase one separately from this guide.
There is one thing that I would like to see in The Next Exit. Phone numbers! While it would probably be too much to list the phone numbers by exit, a section in the book that has the main number to hotels/motels, stores, etc. would be most useful. What I do is to write the ones that I will be most likely to use in the book myself. There have been times when I wanted to make a call to see when something was open and did not have the number I needed to make the call.
Listing the state emergency and police numbers at the beginning of each section would also be very helpful. I had a situation come up where I needed to report a very large and quickly spreading brush fire, going through 911 on my cell phone took several minutes and transfers to get to the right people who could help. Had I known the local number to the state police department I could have been connected much more quickly.
Since I had such good luck with the 2004 version of The Next Exit, I did upgrade in 2007. Although I could have used the 2004 edition, the guide is not very costly and I wanted to ensure that I had the most updated and accurate information possible for the family road trip.
There is also a downloadable Guide for Palm, a pdf file with Trans Canada Highway information, a chance to win your own Next Exit and more here: http://thenextexit.com/