School’s out. The weather is warm. The urge to travel is strong in many of us this time of year. Isn’t it about time for a road trip? Gather your friends or family members up, choose your route and your destination, and hit the road. As long as you plan well and take everybody’s needs into consideration, you should have a great trip. Just take a minute to check out these tips before you drive away.
1. Make Sure Your Car is Road Trip Ready
Flat tires, cracked radiator hoses, and malfunctioning windshield wipers don’t add up to successful road trips. Before you and your crew head out, have your vehicle double checked. Replace worn tires and windshield wiper blades, change the oil, and top off your fluids. Then, when you hit the road, make sure you have a good spare in the trunk, and a roadside emergency kit.
2. Pack a Cooler With Everybody’s Favorite Road Snacks
Make no mistake, stopping to eat is a fun part of road tripping. In fact, you should research your route and look for the following:
- Restaurants that specialize in regional cuisine
- Destination restaurants
- Inexpensive but charming local eateries
Those are places that are well worth the time and money you will spend to stop and grab a bite to eat. On the other hand, there will likely be some long stretches of road where your eating choices are nothing or fast food. When this happens, you’re better off pulling off at a rest area and grabbing snacks and drinks out of the cooler. You’ll save time and money, and you’ll eat better food. Here are a few simple snack ideas that travel well.
- Baby carrots and hummus
- String cheese
- Apples oranges and bananas
- Cold cuts bread and condiments
- Bottled waters and juices
- Squirt cheese and crackers
- Yogurts and puddings
- Adult ‘lunchables’ with cheese slices, grapes, whole grain crackers
Don’t forget napkins, plates, and silverware! Also, clean up each time everybody eats, food smells really linger in cars.
3. Plan for Two Hours Per Day of Lost Time
Every good road trip has a good itinerary. Planning ahead and having a loose schedule helps everyone to know what is upcoming, and it ensures that you arrive at each destination on time. Just be sure that your planning is flexible enough to accommodate about two hours each day of lost time. This will come in handy when there is a crisis. You never know when carsickness, car trouble, or just the need to sleep in will crop up. You’ll also be glad you have those extra hours when you run across surprise roadside attractions!
4. Create a Road Trip Blog and Give Friends and Family Regular Updates
Consider starting a blog for sharing photos, videos, and stories about your adventures. The folks back home will love keeping up with your travels. Make sure you keep it fun, interesting, and upbeat. Get creative! Make photo collages, write catchy titles, use an app like Meerkat to broadcast your adventures live, and then share the videos on your blog later on. You’ll have a much easier time recording your experiences throughout your trip than you will try to recap everything once you get home.
5. Take a Few Blue Highways
If you’ve ever read William Least Heat Moon’s famous book ‘Blue Highways’, you know that these are the back roads that connected one place to another before there were interstates. If you want to experience American culture, local attractions, and interact with locals, take a few detours off of the highway and spend some time these blue highways. Just be sure to use a map that shows restaurants, attractions, and areas of interest. Sadly, due ‘progress’ many of these routes only go past industrial parks and strip malls.
6. Bring Along an In-Case-of-Emergency Bag
Don’t let a minor injury or lost wallet ruin your trip. Pack an in case of the emergency bag for the trip. This might include a small first aid kit, photocopies of your ID, insurance card, prescriptions, and car registration. You might want to throw in extra phone chargers, a reloadable debit card with a hundred dollars or so on it, and a cheap prepaid cell phone.
7. Grant Everybody Three Wishes
Let’s be realistic. Nobody is going to be able to do everything that they want. It’s just impossible to fully accommodate everyone and stick to an itinerary. On the other hand, you don’t want to end the trip with anybody feeling slighted. So, before you set off, ask everybody in the group to share their top three wishes. These might include staying in a specific hotel one evening, going to a favorite restaurant, or taking a side trip to do a bit of shopping. Then, make it a priority to grant those three wishes.