I have worked in small rural towns for the last few years as I travel around the country. This list are the things I see the most working with tourists of these areas. Hopefully this will help when traveling thru rural areas for less agrivation and stress during vacation.
1. Bring Cash:
Businesses have a charge for every swipe of a credit or debit card. If they are a seasonal business they have a small timeframe to make money for the year and the rates are not any better for those only open seasonally. That is why most places are cash only or have a minimum to use your card.
Not only bring cash but bring small bills. These small seasonal businesses are not a bank. If the last bank you saw was 30 miles ago that means the business has to drive 60 miles round trip for change and other banking needs. So don't expect to break your $100 bill with a candy bar.
2. Top Off Your Gas Tank: In rural areas there isn't gas at every corner. There isn't gas in every town. I have been to places where it is 150 miles to the next gas station. Don't assume. Top off if you are leaving a larger town. It won't hurt to be prepared and you will be thankful when your scenic drive isn't ruined by the worries of running out of gas.
3. Bring An Atlas: A basic atlas should be in every vehicle. GPS is a nice convienence but it is not reliable. GPS on your phone is even less reliable. In rural areas the cell phone coverage can be spotty at best which means the GPS on your phone will be spotty at best. Bring an atlas and have a basic idea of where you are going. Pay attention when you drive, the signs will give you a lot of information if you know the basic route.
4. Be Aware Of Waste: In rural areas there will not be a trash can every time you stop. Rural areas are also not the place to clean out the last 3 weeks of Starbucks cups from the back seat of your car. A lot of rural areas do not have trash pickup and each business has to bring their trash to the dump themselves. If there is trash pickup it may only be once a week and can be pricey. Be courteous and don't make as much waste as you do at home. Conserve and reuse as much as possible. Don't expect to be able to throw things away at your convienence.
5. Bring The Medical Supplies You Need: Remeber in rural areas there will not be a Walgreen/CVS on every corner. The nearest Walmart or big box store may be 60 plus miles away. Even a local pharmacy may be in the next town or two towns over. Be prepared by bringing anything you think you may need from bandaids, pain relievers, medication and other medical needs.
The moral of the story is to be prepared. Don't assume there will be any convienences of the city. Also, don't be upset when there isn't what you need in these areas. They are seasonal and helping you visit their area for a short time. They do their best with limited resources.