Whether you’re planning on driving across the country or just a few states away, road trips can be quite the adventure - for better or for worse. Long treks can turn into fun lasting memories if you prepare correctly. To make your next road trip more enjoyable, follow these essential tips below!
Plan your stops
While you are probably most excited for your final destination, don’t forget to enjoy the journey! Oftentimes, road trips give you the opportunity to see places that you had never thought about - and you should take advantage of that opportunity! Research ahead of time to discover the fun attractions, historical sites, and interesting landmarks you might be driving past, and determine which ones you can fit in your schedule! Even if the attraction is a bit of a detour, sometimes it’s worth adding an extra thirty minutes if you can see a noteworthy sight. In addition to unique places, you can also see if any of your family or friends live along your route and plan a meal with them as a stop!
Make a schedule … but be flexible
With your destination in mind, it’s helpful to create a schedule to get an idea of the cities you want to visit, the hours between those cities, and the attractions you may want to make time for. A schedule will help you better estimate the amount of time you will have for exciting detours before you need to arrive at your destination. Always keep in mind that while schedules are helpful, you need to remain flexible with your plans. Even if your research shows that there are only six hours between one city and the next, you need to plan in time for bathroom breaks, food and gasoline stops, and unexpected road conditions such as traffic, rush hour, and accidents. Tune into the local transportation radio stations or use navigation applications, such as Waze, for up-to-date road conditions that may affect your arrival time. Being flexible with your schedule will also allow for some spontaneity along the way!
You’re about to sit in a car for hours at a time: it’s worth spending some time prepping to make that sitting experience semi-enjoyable! Bring a pillow for sleeping and back support - but make sure it’s not oversized, as it may become a hassle to your fellow passengers. Consider wearing layers or bringing a blanket; sometimes the sun is beating heavily on one side of the car but not the other side, making the temperatures drastically different (especially in the middle of winter or summer). Layers or blankets will help ensure that everyone in the small, shared space can enjoy a comfortable temperature. If you’re planning on napping, bring sunglasses or an eye mask to help block unwanted light. Also, consider bringing noise cancelling headphones; even if you’re not planning on listening to music, headphones can help create a quiet environment for resting or reading, especially if there’s music or a movie playing throughout the car.
Pack the essentials
Looking for a way to save money and time? Pack a reusable water bottle (or two!) for each passenger and bring a variety of snacks, especially healthy snacks; you can refill the water bottles for free at every stop and you’ll save money at overpriced gas stations by not buying any food or drinks there! You’ll also save time by not needing to stop every time someone in the car is hungry or thirsty. Consider bringing other potential essential items, such as tissues, napkins, and pain relief medicine, to minimize unnecessary stops and overpriced purchases.
Long road trips mean lots of time. For families with young children, pack various movie choices for the car DVD player or research some fun road trip games to get the whole family involved. Solo travelers might consider utilizing their car’s Bluetooth capabilities and calling a friend - suddenly the road won’t seem quite as long or lonely! Couples may enjoy listening to audiobooks or podcasts to pass the time, perhaps discussing what they’ve learned between chapters or episodes. If things have been too hectic prior to the road trip, the passenger could also spend some time planning while on the road by researching interesting stops and detours along the way or at the final destination.
Peace of mind
Before any long road trip, it’s always a good idea to take your car into the shop for a checkup and oil change. To minimize stress, make sure you bring a phone charger and extra cash in easy-to-reach places. Last but not least, fill up the tank, put on your seatbelts, and settle in for the ride of your life. Drive safely!