You can road-trip, or you can road-trip smartly with this guide to essentials.
how to read a road atlas
Buy this year’s edition. The cost is less than buying a handful of maps, and it will have the most current facts on major construction activity. GPS isn’t infallible; you’ll want old-school backup.
Study the legend. The little box of icons at the front of the atlas helps you decipher the maps. Most atlases indicate scenic routes and long-term construction projects. Some even show which rest areas have toilets.
Know your numbers. Two-digit interstates (I-90) are often the most direct routes through cities; three-digit interstates (I-787) circle urban areas. Odd-numbered highways run north to south; even-numbered ones run east-west.
Orient the driver. Highlight your route and keep the map in the passenger’s lap. Turn it to show the direction you’re going. That way, the driver can glance down and take it in.