The 6 Best Winter Destinations For Your Next Road Trip

Winter blues got you down? Once the holidays settle and the world is shrouded in snow, it can be hard to muster up the desire to do anything but snuggle inside with a mug of cocoa and watch reruns of The Office.

But, wait. Have you thought about taking a road trip? Yes, we realize Kevin and his vat of chili can seem more enticing than jumping in the car when it’s freezing outside. However, winter might just be the best time to hit the open road, because 1) less tourists means less traffic, and 2) it just might end up being your most majestic road trip yet! We are lucky to live in a beautiful country with seemingly endless scenic drives – many of which are made all-the-more breathtaking by long winter shadows on thick blankets of snow and ice. Honestly, what more could you ask for?

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Now that you’ve gotten your car scraped off, heated seats warmed up, and snow tires at the ready, drive on with confidence into these 6 unique winter wonderlands. We picked our favorite winter road trip destinations so all you have to do is go!

The 6 Best Winter Road Trip Destinations

    Lake Tahoe, Nevada: The ultimate winter destination for snow bunnies, the drive around Lake Tahoe during winter is simply a sight to behold. Start your journey at Incline Village and make your way all the way around the lake’s 27 mile circumference. Be sure to stop off at Sand Harbor to dip a toe into the icy waters (fun fact: the lake never gets cold enough to freeze, but that definitely doesn’t mean it’s warm enough for anything except a Polar Bear plunge). Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the snow-dusted Sierra Nevada mountains reflected in the glassy surface of Lake Tahoe’s crystal clear water.

    Zion National Park, Utah: Zion was Utah’s first national park, and when you experience its endless beauty, you’ll understand why this place is named “Promised Land.” Shorter days mean longer shadows, so be sure to grab your camera for some epic winter desert photography; the white snow looks particularly striking against Zion’s giant stratified rock sculptures.

    White Mountains, New Hampshire: Fancy a twisty-turny scenic mountain drive? Get lost in an idyllic New England winter landscape with a drive in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Make a pit stop in Jackson, NH, where the coffee is hot and the powder plentiful before jumping back on the road and continuing your New England winter journey.

    Glacier National Park, Montana: This 50-mile drive drops scenic view after scenic view and doesn’t care who knows it. Going-to-the-Sun road cuts Glacier National Park in half, and snow-covered forests, icy lakes, and frosted mountaintops surround both sides of the road. You may want to go extra slow for this drive so you don’t miss a single thing (including wildlife)!

    Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming: Making the 52-mile drive along Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone during winter may be one of the most awe-inspiring road trips ever. If you look carefully, you may be able to spot packs of wolves roaming the desolate landscape. Be sure to have your brakes at the ready if a bachelor bison (an older male bison that has left the herd) wanders into your path.

    Badlands, South Dakota: Though the temperature may hover “below the donut” (aka subzero), it will all be worth it to see a light dusting of snow on the impressive rock formations of the South Dakota Badlands. Begin your journey on South Dakota Highway 240 in Wall, SD and be sure to make frequent stops throughout the day at the many scenic lookouts. During this time of year, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone else poking around except park rangers and some bighorn sheep.

If the winter weather forces you to change direction or turn back, always be sure to have a plan B in place. Who knows, the road trip could end up being even more spectacular! Also, it never hurts to have an emergency kit in the car, including: a flashlight with fresh batteries, a blanket, a lighter, snacks, bottled water, gloves, boots, an ice scraper, jumper cables, and a first aid kit.

Us Metromilers love and encourage road trips, which is why we cap your miles at 150/day (250 in New Jersey), so get a quote today and start planning your next winter road trip! And here’s the most important question of all: where should we go first?

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram

10 Things You Need For a Good Road Trip

Road trips can go one of two ways: totally awesome or a total disaster. What started as a fun, spontaneous idea can suddenly take a nosedive if you go into it unprepared. From getting stranded with no data or cell service, to emergency bathroom stops, your road trip can quickly turn from freaking awesome to “I’m freaking out!”.

10 Things You Need For a Good Road Trip

Yes, there was a reason that your parents packed the minivan to the gills (I admit it… you were right about everything, Mom!). It seems the more well-planned road trips tend to go off without a hitch. Us Metromilers love road trips and encourage our customers to take them, which is why we cap your mileage at 250 miles/day (150 miles/day in New Jersey). From having the right snacks, to the right tunes, to arguably the most important thing – planned restroom stops – here are our 10 things you need to make your next road trip your most epic one yet.

    1. Hands-free phone holder: Your phone will most likely be your GPS and source of music, so be sure to invest in a hands-free phone holder to make it safer and easier to navigate. It doesn’t need to be fancy – I bought one in the Target dollar section a couple years ago and it was exactly what I needed and so inexpensive. Side note: the Target dollar section rules.

    2. Downloaded Google maps: Did you know that you can download any map in the world in the Google Maps app? This tip is super important because there will definitely be lapses in cell service and data coverage, and you do not want to be stranded without a map. This past summer, I visited New Zealand and downloaded a map of the entire north island on my phone before arriving (just in case). It ended up coming in handy when we lost data coverage on the remote back roads of the island. Thanks to the pre-downloaded map, we were still able to navigate our way back to town. Also, Google Maps will still give you turn-by-turn directions with the downloaded maps! See how to do it here.

    3. Snacks and drinks: No explanation needed. Make sure everyone in the car gets their favorite kind, and be sure to also have some more substantial snacks (like Kind Bars or Clif Bars) on hand in case anyone gets hangry. Don’t forget the bottled water, too!

    4. Fast Track toll pass: If you don’t already have one of these in your car, you should definitely get one stat. In addition to offering you discounts on tolls, it expedites the toll-paying process and eliminates the need to fumble for loose change, so you can be on your way faster!

    5. First Aid Kit and Magic Tank: You’ll most likely never have to use these two but they’re important to bring anyway as a precaution. Put together a simple first aid kit consisting of bandages, gauze, bottled water, an instant ice pack, a flashlight with fresh batteries, Swiss Army knife, Ibuprofen, Dramamine, a lighter, and rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, and store it in your trunk. Also, Magic Tank is a great thing to have on hand – it’s a non-flammable emergency fuel that can help you make it to a gas station if you’re coasting on fumes.

    6. Car phone charger: This is a necessity and something that you should keep in your car at all times. There is nothing worse than needing to call for help and having a dead phone battery. Without this you will be walking, my friend!

    7. Neck pillow: Long hours in the car means cramped bodies and necks. Make your journey a little more pleasant by bringing a neck pillow so you can snooze in the back when it’s not your turn to drive. This one by Lewis N. Clark is great because it can convert into a lumbar support pillow as well. My back feels better just thinking about it.

    8. Good tunes: This one is up for debate, because it’s guaranteed that everyone in the car will have differing opinions on what constitutes “good” tunes. My road trip rules are that the driver gets to pick the tunes. And when all else fails: headphones.

    9. Toilet paper: Just put a roll in the car. It takes up zero space… and you never know when someone might need it. Ahem.

    10. Small bills and coins: It’s always good to have a bit of cash (small bills) and some coins on hand. From parking meters to issues at the toll booth, you never know when you’re going to need some to help you out in a pinch.

As one final tip: my Dad always told me, “Dress like you’re going to have to walk.” Make sure you wear comfy, weather-appropriate clothing, and reliable footwear.

That’s it! Go forth and conquer your future road trips with these tips. Metromile will be there with you every mile of the way, helping you to optimize your trip by spending less on gas, tracking your mileage, and finding your car (who remembers that Seinfeld episode?). Be sure to get a quote with Metromile today, and let’s get that next road trip on the books!

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram

The Best Road Trips for July Fourth Fireworks

Here at Metromile, some of our favorite summer memories are piling in the car with friends and family and heading out to watch fireworks on Independence Day. Here are some of our favorite places to go on a road trip to catch a fireworks display.

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West Coast

San Diego: One of the top Fourth of July firework shows in America is the Big Bay Boom in San Diego. The show consists of four different fireworks areas on four different barges in the San Diego area. This is the largest firework show in the west coast with more than 500,000 viewers.

San Francisco: Drive over the Golden Gate Bridge to view Sausalito’s firework show on Richardson Bay. Or stay in the city to watch the show from Pier 39, The Embarcadero, or Fort Mason. This show includes 10,000 different effects for over 25 minutes.

Tahoe: Take a road trip to see the amazing sight at Lights on the Lake. The fireworks are visible all over town and around the lake, but the best spots can be found on El Dorado Beach, Nevada Beach, and Timber Cove Marina. We think you’d agree that nothing comes close to the view when you are out on the water watching the show.

Pacific Northwest: Stop by the Seafair Summer Fourth for a wonderful 21-minute display of fireworks on Lake Union in Seattle, WA. They also provide fun music, games, and beer gardens for day celebrations. Why not make a whole day of it?

East Coast

Washington D.C.: Catch a glimpse of one of the best fireworks shows in America at the National Mall. Around 700,000 people travel to the mall to watch the show with the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol in the background. It doesn’t get more patriotic than that!

Philadelphia: Kick off Fourth of July celebrations with an 8 day festival in Wawa Welcome America. The grand finale is a spectacular firework show to end the celebration.

Ocean City: Enjoy the Ocean City Fourth of July Celebration in Ocean City, NJ that starts with a 9 am bike parade and kite flying competition. Before the firework show, enjoy a live music and picnic. Enjoy the show with the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean.

We hope you enjoy celebrating Independence Day with your friends and family. If you mainly use your car for road trips (like to see these epic fireworks) then you could be a great fit for pay-per-mile insurance. To see how much you could save go to www.metromile.com/insurance.

National Bike Month: How to Participate

May is National Bike Month, so we’re exploring ways to make commuting by bike easier and safer. Whether you ride your bike for fun, to get fit, save the environment or get around town, we’ve got recommendations on how to make cycling better for everyone. One way you can celebrate this year is participating in National Bike to Work Day, on May 19th. If this will be your first time biking to work or you’re nervous about jumping back into the saddle, here are a few tips to get you started.

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Plan your route. Google Maps is a good way to find bike friendly streets by selecting the “bicycling” option. Keep in mind that your preferred route by car won’t always be the safest option while riding a bike. If you’ll be taking your bike with you on to public transit, make sure there aren’t any limitations on how many bikes can be accommodated.

Check your bike. If your bike hasn’t had much action lately, double check your tires and brakes. It’s also always a good idea to make sure your chain is well lubricated and free of debris. Take a short ride around the block just to make sure everything is in working order.

Safety first. Before leaving the house, put on your helmet and reflective clothing to help with visibility. Depending on where you live, there may also be legal requirements for a front and back light. Both are especially important when cycling at night. While riding, watch for opening car doors and follow regular traffic laws. Once you reach your destination, be sure to lock your bike securely.

Even if you won’t be able to bike to work this week, drivers can still help make the roads safer for cyclists. While driving, keep these quick tips in mind:

Pass with care. Give bicyclists a 3-foot buffer while passing, and on multi-lane roads, switch lanes to ensure there is plenty of room.

Exit safely. Always double-check for cyclists before opening your door.

Mind your speed. Increased speed can mean the difference between an injury and a fatality. Follow speed limits and use caution while driving near bicyclists.

If you find that you’re biking more often than driving, Metromile’s per-mile car insurance could help you save. Head over to www.metromile.com/insurance to learn more.

Tips for an Enjoyable Walk to Work

The sun is shining and it’s finally starting to warm up outside. A great way to soak up the beautiful weather is to start walking to work. Here are our top tips for an enjoyable walk commute.

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Leave the house early. If this is your first time walking to work, it could take you longer than expected, so give yourself plenty of time to get there. Even if you are a “seasoned walker” it’s better to enjoy the route without feeling rushed.

Prepare for bad weather. Grab your umbrella, rain jacket, or heavier coat if need be. And don’t forget to check your weather apps before heading out the door. Even if it appears to be sunny, there could be a rainstorm looming.

Pop on your headphones. Listen to a fun playlist, audiobook or podcast to start your day off, it’ll make your walk enjoyable. Here are some of our favorites.

Wear the right shoes. It’s important to wear comfortable and supportive walking shoes. If you want, you still can bring your nicer work shoes to change into once you get there.

Try a fitness tracker. It’ll keep you motivated to keep on stepping. You could even start a friendly competition with friends or co-workers. At the end of the day, you can feel accomplished that you beat your friends in their total steps.

Grab a backpack. Ditch your purse or briefcase. A backpack allows you to balance and carry weight easier. You’ll thank yourself later.

Stay hydrated. Fill up your water bottle and keep it handy to rehydrate yourself throughout your walk. You could even pack a snack to munch on along the way.

If you find yourself walking to work more than you are driving, pay-per-mile car insurance could be a great choice for you. Metromile helps low mileage drivers save money on insurance because the bill is based on how much you drive. Learn more and see what your potential savings could be.

6 Ways to Have a Great Road Trip Experience

The following post is from guest writer Gallard Joaquin, a freelance content writer with a background in travel and lifestyle. By traveling the world and writing about his experiences, he enjoys helping others find the most efficient means of travel, wherever their destination.

At almost 3.8 million square miles, the continental United States is a great place to have an epic road trip. With the varied landscapes from the snow-tipped mountains of Colorado to the lush prairies of the Midwest, there are plenty of environments to explore and a variety of things to see. But what’s the best way to have a road trip experience with your family or group of friends? Keep reading to learn about the six best road trip tips.

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1. Aim for Comfort

Despite sitting for a long period of time, road tripping can be exhausting work. It’s important not to wear yourself or your companions out. There are many ways you can accomplish this including never driving for more than eight hours a day, spending the extra dollar for a nicer hotel, taking periodic breaks along the way, and even considering a roomier passenger van rental. You don’t want to look at the road every morning with dread, thinking about your aching back.

2. Take Your Time

Part of the thrill of a good road trip is the journey, not where you ultimately end up. We all have schedules, but vacation isn’t about adhering to them. Several attractions and sights are easily missed if you only focus on the end result of your trip and sometimes these distractions from the road can become the most memorable part of the trip.

3. Have a General Plan

Despite the importance of relaxation, comfort, and exploration, it’s always good to have a plan for your road trip. Where are you going? What do you know you want to do when you get there? What route do you want to take? How much money are you able to spend? These are logistical questions that should always be considered when planning a road trip. A spiral-bound planner can hold all these details for you.

4. Consider Buying a Map

Speaking of planning, a road map can be your best friend on a road trip. We live in an era of amazing technology, like GPS and wi-fi, but these are luxuries you won’t always have as you’re crossing the great expanses of the United States. You don’t want to find yourself lost with no reception and therefore little recourse but to ask for directions.

5. Make Time (and Space) for Eating

You may have heard the term “hangry” before. That’s because it can definitely become a real problem and cause a lot of friction and conflict between your friends and family. You should have little trouble finding places to eat if you plan accordingly, but sometimes that might not be enough. Consider bringing “emergency food” or purchasing some along the way. A cooler filled with fruit, sandwiches and other fresh food can be a solution to this problem before it even comes up.

6. Remember to Plan Your Packing Ahead of Time

What and how you pack for your road trip can depend on a lot of things including where you’re staying, the type of car you’re driving, the length of your trip, and the number of people who are traveling with you. If you don’t plan ahead, you may find yourself with piles of luggage you didn’t realize you were going to have. Make sure you and your family or friends consider these questions before packing your luggage to ensure everything fits and no one has to repack.

Before hitting the open road, plan for a great experience with these great road trip tips. Try them out on your next cross country trip and decide which ones work best for you! Editor’s note: don’t forget that Metromile customers can road trip with ease — we don’t charge for miles driven over 250/day (150 in certain states).

9 Alternative Commute Options

The following is a guest post from Neil Richardson, an advisor for The Zebra, the nation’s largest car insurance comparison marketplace.

For the working masses who commute on a daily basis, private cars (75%) or car pools (9%) are most often the transportation of choice. But for those who can’t or don’t want to travel by car every day, there are plenty of other options for getting where you need to go.

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Bikes

Bicycles are a green, healthy and affordable option, and cities are increasingly becoming more bike-friendly, adding new bike lanes and cracking down on dangerous driver behavior that threatens cyclists. (See the League of American Bicyclists’ state-by-state guide to bicycle laws and ranking of the most bicycle-friendly cities and states.)

Cost? You can find plenty of used bikes on Craigslist for under $100, or for new models, you can expect to pay anything from $200 to $5,000+. The Zebra likes:

1. Cyclotron bike ($1,100-$2,990): Modeled after the one in the movie Tron, this bike has no spokes or tires, is “smart” (connected to an app), and has cool LED wheels with extra storage space.

2. Gi FlyBike ($2,000): This bike was created for commuters. It folds in half for easy storage in seconds, and it can be ridden as a traditional bike or by activating its electric mode, which can give riders a rest for up to 40 miles. The Gi FlyBike also has smartphone charging and is expected to start shipping in March 2017. (more…)

Labor Day Travel Tips

Last year more than 35 million people traveled for Labor Day, trying to squeeze in one final road trip before the end of summer. If you’re planning on hitting the road this weekend, don’t let traffic or frustration get the best of you. Instead, follow these tips and you’ll be at your destination, enjoying a summer BBQ in no time.

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  1. Leave early- If you’re leaving on Friday, try to hit the road before 4 p.m. If you end up caught up or can’t get out of work, delay leaving until 10 p.m. to avoid the rush. Leaving on Thursday or coming back on Sunday or even Tuesday could be better options for skipping traffic if you can afford the extra days.
  2. Know where you’re going- Plan your route and consider alternate routes. Waze is a great way to identify the best routes and understand the worst times to drive. Plus, you’ll get real-time traffic, accident and road maintenance updates.
  3. Get some rest- Driving when you’re tired can be very dangerous and sometimes a roadside stop can be a welcome break from traffic. Use Airbnb or Hotel Tonight to find accommodations along your route. If you’re not looking for an overnight stay, find unique roadside stops with Roadtrippers app.
  4. Keep your eyes on the road- Put your phone in the backseat where you can’t reach it. If you think you’ll still be tempted to reach around, turn off your sound and notifications so you won’t feel the digital pull. Ask passengers to respond to any texts you’re worried about missing anything. Even better, turn your phone off!
  5. Consider a staycation- Staying at home on holiday weekends means you can sleep in, get reservations at restaurants that are usually busy and explore local places you might not have discovered before. Plus, you’ll save some time and money!

If you need road trip inspiration or tips for a successful road trip, Metromile has you covered. If you find yourself mostly using your car for road trips, you could benefit from Metromile pay-per-mile insurance. We even offer a road trip bonus! You won’t be charged for the miles you drive above 250/day (150/day in certain states). Get a free quote here and safe travels!

How Your Commute Could Change… For the Better

The average American spends 52 minutes commuting to and from work every day. One of the main reasons for this prolonged driving time is everyone’s most dreaded driving obstacle: traffic. Think about how many vehicles are on the road with only one or two passengers, all likely going similar routes. If we could create a more efficient way of getting to and from work, therefore reducing the number of cars on the road, we’d probably get there a whole lot faster. Luckily, there are a handful of new services that are attempting just that.

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Try out a “microtransit” service
The phrase “microtransit” isn’t really a “thing” yet, but the idea of a bus meets Uber hybrid is starting to pop up all over the US. Companies like Chariot (San Francisco) and Bridj (Boston, DC, Kansas City) have fleets of shuttle buses that run similar routes to the public bus system but tout more reliable and comfortable rides. Simply open the app, select your desired time and reserve a guaranteed seat. The service isn’t on-demand on like Uber, and you have to choose from one of their predetermined routes, but the price is typically much cheaper (and therefore better for your bank account).

Give the bus another chance
Even if you’ve had a bad experience with public transit in the past, don’t write it off just yet. Public transportation companies are continually improving their services, and in some cities, introducing totally revamped offerings. Throughout the Bay Area, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is currently under construction. These new buses will have dedicated lanes to free them of car traffic, and platforms to ensure seamless boarding. Over on the East Coast, Virginia recently debuted the Metroway system, a similar concept where a new fleet of buses travel in a dedicated lane and breeze by traffic.

Carpool with ease
You don’t need to give up the freedom of driving to work to get there more efficiently. With a carpool service, you can make better use of your car and pick up others going the same way. While the hassle of finding someone who has a similar route and schedule might seem daunting, there is an array of new apps and services that make this easier. From Scoop, which lets you schedule your trip ahead of time, to UberPool, which you can order on-the-go, save money and time by sharing your commute.

If one of these options works well for you and you find you are driving less, or your commute is more traffic than mileage, you could save a ton of money with Metromile’s pay-per-mile insurance offering. Get a quick quote now to see how much you could save!

Must download apps for a last minute road trip

Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner, but if you don’t have plans yet, it’s not too late to plan a getaway. Thanks to technology, hopping in the car for a last minute road trip is no big deal. We’ve gathered a list of the apps you must download before you drive off.

Use Airbnb to find accommodations along your route. You can book directly from your phone and find something in your budget. Whether you are looking to couch surf or rent a beach house, all the options are available for you.

Make your car a smart car with Metromile. With the Metromile app, you can decode check engine lights on the road. If something comes up, you’ll know if you need to hurry in or if you just left your gas cap off.

Find unique roadside stops with Roadtrippers app. You can set a distance off the road you are willing to explore, and the app does the rest. You can also use this to map to your destination or try Waze to keep you alert of traffic, accidents and other roadblocks.

Ear candy: Download the Podcasts app to tune into your favorite podcast on the road. We’ve suggested some of our favorite podcasts here.

Cut costs by finding the cheapest gas through Gas Buddy, which locates gas stations near you and syncs their current gas prices.

If you don’t drive very often during the week, but love to road trip on the weekends, you could save a ton of money on pay-per-mile insurance with Metromile. You won’t be charged for miles you drive over 250/day (150 in certain states), so if you go on a long trip, you’ll actually save big. Get a free quote here.