With any family Summer road trip you will without a doubt have a pit stop. I thought it would be fun to compare our typical pit stop choices in USA, Spain, Portugal and Italy. These are typical for our family, so please feel free to share what it is like for you.
USA – Pit Stop
Flashback to 2013:
When driving along the major highways in the USA, there is no shortage of food or service options. It seems the highways are peppered with fast food, service stations and just about anything you can think of. If you aren’t sure what the future of the highways holds, never fear there are billboards everywhere telling you what is coming next. If your child announces it is time for a bio break NOW, not a problem just pull over at the next exit.
Let’s say you decide to stop and fuel up the car along with a quick bio break. You will find a self-serve gas pump outside, and inside you will be in snack heaven. Usually a very large air-conditioned store with what seem to be limitless choices of chips, cookies, candy, hot dogs, self-serve soda machines and much more. This would be the typical service station in the USA. I know I am generalizing here, but you know what I mean. It would not be like this off the beaten path or in a small town USA.
Spain and Portugal – Pit Stop
In these countries, we have found the highways to be lined with nature. It is very rare to see billboards and fast food is practically nonexistent. If you need an urgent pit stop for the kids, it might just need to be on the side of the road. Along the highways you will find a special exit just for service, but not very often. Here you are likely to find one restaurant/cafeteria and a service station.
Outside is sometimes a full service gas pump. Inside the service station, which rarely has AC, you will find a couple of shelves with snacks and candy and a few refrigerators with chilled bottled drinks and many times you can buy a fresh-baked baguette. The one restaurant often services both directions on the highway, so if you are driving on “the other side”, there is usually a pedestrian overpass that allows you to walk to the other side. The food in these restaurants seem to be the same at ever y stop and typically aren’t to our liking. We usually just bring our own snacks in the car. There is often a little coffee bar as well.
Italy – Pit Stop
Ah, Italy! While very similar to Spain and Portugal, but here you will always find incredible coffee! Often with a cute little stand up counter with some serious espresso machines, where you can order coffee and pastries. While I do miss a good Dr. Pepper and a bag of Cheetos, I do love the coffee. Alan and the kids aren’t so thrilled about any of that, but me AH!!!!
For maybe €1 or €1.20 you can grab a fluffy rich cappuccino and you are good to go. It is so delicious and in my eyes, there is no way Starbucks could compete with this. I have to say, that I love it the most in Italy. Oh my goodness is it delicious!
Also in Italy, you will find an assortment of gourmet cheeses, meats, sauces and packaged pasta at the service station. Go figure! There are also fresh made Panini’s and our son is now a big Panini fan too.
What does your pit stop look like?
Highways, Freeways, Motorways
- Autovia = Freeway
- Autopista = Toll highway
- Auto-Estrada = Freeway or Toll highway
- Superstrada = Freeway
- Autostrade = Toll highway
- Tangenziali = Bypass roads around big cities