Time to Hit the Road

At last — sunshine, warm breezes, sparkling blue water. The road beckons. Whether the road that calls you is a highway, a byway, an expanse of ocean or the airways, summer heightens the urge to travel. Faraway places will expand our horizons. A quiet hideaway will bring tranquility. Well, sometimes. Sometimes the trip is disappointing; a traveler just wants to get home as soon as possible.

A brief review of some basic guidelines may help travelers to avoid problems.

>> Check with your carrier about regulations for identification, carry-on items and time needed to board. Things change often these days. Airport security procedures may differ from one location to another.

>> Pack at least one item of clothing for warmth, even if you are headed south. A warm, lightweight turtleneck can go under almost any garment.

>> Take clothing that can be worn several times or rinsed out in a hotel. You will want a little space in your bags for things that you purchase on the trip.

>> Copy your passport number and emergency contact information. Carry the copies in a secure place, separate from the originals.

>> Have medications and optical supplies in your purse or carry-on. A small box of baby wipes, tissues and cough drops can be handy. Many travelers bring a change of clothes and sleepwear in a carry-on, in case the luggage gets lost.

>> Leave your itinerary and a contact number with a relative or friend.

>> For a road trip, start with the car in good shape, the spare tire pumped up and the gas tank full.

>> Carry road maps that you can read; some have such fine print they are useless for people with less than perfect vision.

Remember your road service membership card. If you don’t have road service, consider buying it. One service call will repay the cost.

Beyond the basics, we’ve gathered a few travel tips from seasoned New Hampshire travelers that may help you to have a satisfying journey.

“Know your limits,” says Kathleen Rooney of Keene. Kathleen and her husband, Doug Lowe, loved the adventure of a trip to Peru a few years ago. It was exciting, but physically it was a stretch. “Your limits may be physical or emotional, or simply your own preferences,” she says. She and Doug prefer to see more of a smaller area than “eight cities in 10 days.” They look for trips that offer a balance of structure and freedom.

Rich Crocker, of Plymouth, says, “I think of traveling as a learning adventure. I spend a lot of time getting ready — reading, looking at Internet sites, chatting with people. Then when I take the trip, it feels like the circle has been completed. I experience the real things I have learned about.” Many people choose travel that focuses on a personal interest. Birding, Native American culture, art and Civil War history are examples of the dozens of possibilities for special interest travel.

Nancy Spater, of Concord, is an independent traveler who frequently returns to Provence. She rents a house and a car in a village (a different village each visit) and explores the area in depth. “I enjoy the experience of being involved in the daily life of the area,” she says. Search the Internet for information about rental agents, but if you can, talk to someone who is familiar with your chosen area.

But maybe this isn’t the year for a major excursion. You have too many projects under way. You don’t want to spend the time, the energy or the money. You don’t have to give up travel. Just look closer to home. We live in a region that abounds in possibilities for short trips. From upstate New York, across Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to the Maritime Provinces, there is more than enough to satisfy a traveler.

A few suggestions to pique your interest, places that you might not think of as destinations:

The Champlain Canal, Whitehall, New York. Who knew that Lake Champlain is connected to the Hudson River by a canal with a series of 12 locks? This provides a navigable waterway from the St. Lawrence River to New York City. Whitehall, a small town beside the canal, is just over the Vermont/New York state line, off NY 22. Visit the public park, the Skenesboro Museum and a canal-side café. Phone Lock 12c Marina to reserve space on a narrated boat trip (518) 499-2049. From the western side of New Hampshire, this is an easy day trip.

The Connecticut Lakes, northern New Hampshire (Pittsburg). The Connecticut River begins at a small pond near the U.S./Canadian border. Though it is called Fourth Connecticut Lake, it is the first of five lakes that feed the Connecticut River before it turns south at Stewartstown and becomes the New Hampshire/Vermont border. Access is a one-mile path through the woods, from the U.S. Customs House to the water. The drive (Route 3) from the Customs House to Third, Second, First Connecticut Lake and Lake Francis is scenic and tranquil. Check the Internet or contact N.H. Department of Resources and Economic Development for information on camping, boating and fishing. From the southern part of the state, this is a comfortable two-day excursion.

Lubec, Maine and Campobello Island, New Brunswick. Lubec is the easternmost point in the U.S. Positioned at the southern end of the Bay of Fundy, the tides are impressive. Lubec once was a lively fishing village, boasting 17 sardine canneries. Now all are abandoned. It is slowly rebuilding a more diversified economy. There are good accommodations: three B&Bs, a few restaurants, motels and a campground. Quoddy Head State Park, high on a cliff overlooking the ocean, has ocean-side, wooded and bog hiking trails. Campobello Island and the summer home of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt are just across the International Bridge. Exhibits at the Roosevelt Cottage and the information center provide artifacts, photos and historical documents.

On the way (Route 3 from Augusta) you will cross the new Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory to Bucksport and Route 1. Dramatic is the word for this sweeping bridge, with an observation tower 42 stories high, accessible by elevator. It is the only bridge tower in this country and one of three in the world. If time permits, visit the seaside town of Castine, south of Bucksport. Castine predates the Plymouth Colony and has been occupied by French, Dutch and English forces. It is the home of the Maine Marine Academy. Allow four days and three nights for a leisurely trip with stops along the way in blueberry country. NH