Road trips are an awesome way to extend the traveling fun.
You make the schedule, you choose when to stop and best of all: no crying babies, snoring passengers, mysterious smells or any of the other unpleasant things that sometimes come along with planes, trains and buses.
All you have to do is pick a destination, a driving partner or two and you are on your way. (Check out Julie’s post on her adventurous journey driving California’s PCH.)
But not all road trips are created equal. To make the most of your time, you need to have a plan. Here are some tips on how to have the best road trip this summer.
Find yourself a travel partner
A road trip is just better with a partner. Driving alone can be really fun for the first four hours. But, if you are heading far, you might consider finding a friend to go along with you. It will make the long drives a little easier since you can switch off, plus you’ll have someone to talk to.
Just make sure you really like this person because you’ll be trapped together for quite some time! A road trip can be a make or break when it comes to your relationships.
Load up your road trip playlist
What’s a road trip without music?
You’re bound to be driving through some long stretches of corn fields and having some upbeat music will really help keep you energized.
Spotify has a ton of playlists that are perfect for road trips. And, if you’re a paid user, you can download those playlists to listen to offline – a game changer when you’re crossing the rural country and don’t have cell service.
Plus, you can pretend like you are in a movie montage and sing while the wind blows through your hair. Who doesn’t love a good move montage fantasy?
Load up on snacks
I like to keep it healthy but there are times to eat junk food and I believe road trips are among them.
Oreos, Doritos, Cheetos and endless amounts of Mountain Dew all make it into my backseat when I am on a road trip. I usually pack up several sandwiches for some sustenance as well.
While snacking to stay awake and/or past time is not a great idea for every day life, I think it’s pretty justifiable (if not necessary) for a proper road trip.
Have a Backup Plan for Safety
Flat tires, stalled engines, crazy storms and other unexpected things happen on a road trip.
Make sure your cell phone is fully charged and carry some emergency supplies including extra water and blankets in the car.
A membership with AAA wouldn’t hurt either. If you should break down, you want to know you’re prepared. Before taking off, make sure your spare tire is fully ready to go, that you have a car jack on board, and that you know how to change a tire.
Take your time
Give yourself plenty of time to arrive to your destination. You don’t want to be speeding through unfamiliar territory and getting caught in speed traps because you are running late.
If Google maps shows that driving to your destination would take 4 days, plan for 8 or 9. That way, you can make spontaneous stops to weird road-side attractions like big balls of yarns, exotic taxidermy museums or maybe just a fun greasy spoon diner.
Giving yourself enough time also means being able to take downtime when you need it. There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself to drive with a migraine because you have no place to sleep and 6 hours to go until your next destination.
Book accommodation as you go
It’s awesome to have a plan, but sometimes, you need to keep your plans flexible. For example, when the map shows that it takes four hours to get to the next big town — but those four hours are full of windy roads and mountain crossings.
After a few hours of switchbacks you might feel like you need to stop sooner than the town promised. Keep your hotel plans flexible and have your road trip partner book things mid-day, just in case you get too tired to keep going.
Was it intentional? You forgot to include a map or GPS? I like to research ahead of time fun spots to stop along the way.
I think that depends on your style! I, personally, would be forever lost without a GPS but I know not everyone is into super planned out routes!
Agreed, AAA is a must if you’re on an extended trip in the U.S.! And music too. I love junk food but that one depends how long you’re on the road. My trip was 4 months, and if I had taken junk food I would’ve been obese by the time it was over. In that case, bags of apples, nuts, granola bars are a good way to go!
I’ve never used a GPS and I get lost very easily! However, I do all the research before hand. I would also recommend getting the car checked out, oil change, etc before a really long road trip.
Another great thing to include in this (and I don’t blame Rease for not mentioning it) – find ways to entertain kids! A long road trip with kids and no entertainment is a disaster!!
Honestly I have worked with kids a lot (I was a preschool teacher!) and really the best thing you can hope for is that they will sleep. Other than that, each game will keep them occupied for 5-15 minutes, depending on their age. Bring a movie and a portable DVD player!
On our year-long roadtrip in an RV we discovered the beauty of Geico — apparently they’ll come jump your battery for free (if you have coverage through them, obvs). They jumped our RV twice and our Jeep five times (each time in a different city), and we didn’t pay for any of it! 🙂