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I admit: I’m a late adopter. I am a bit old-fashioned and thus, skeptical of technology. I love hard-bound books, hand-written letters and impossibly folded maps. While I realize technology is necessary to make these, it is not inherent in their use. Most embarking on a road trip to new states/cities/the middle of nowhere would find comfort in a GPS system and a British female’s voice telling them what to do, but I wanted to follow the road.

My new BFF - the AAA TripTik

My new BFF - the AAA TripTik

Let me introduce you to my good friend, TripTik. How did we meet? A few weeks before the trip I stopped by AAA to pick up state guide books and learned of the greatest thing known to road tripping – the TripTik (though i-Trips and snacks are close behind). As a AAA member not only do I get free tour books, but apparently a free personalized map of my trip. Side note: No offense, AAA, but the tour books suck. The hotels and restaurants are not helpful – especially on a budget – and there is barely any information on local attractions. The camping book has somewhat complete listings, but the directions couldn’t get you around the block, none the less to obscure campsites.

But, the TripTik is sweet. It is a reporter-style flip book individually hand-created per your route with each page covering a chunk of the highway with mileage marked and icons for exits, rest stops, gas/food/lodging etc. Each page opens to a broader contextual map of the highlighted area. Best part about it is no-folding necessary, which is perfect for a solo pilot sans shotgun. And, of course, for those nostalgic folk like me, it is a great diary of the trip and pit stops.

If you are not a AAA member now, if not for the free towing and unlocking services, the *free* TripTik alone is worth joining!

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26 was a defining and adventurous year for Julie Williams, a Portland, Ore.-based communications consultant.

This blog chronicles Julie's crossing of the quarter-life threshold and coming of age on her solo road trip across seven Western states from Aug.-Sept. 2008.

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