There’s nothing that sparks a sense of adventure quite like road travel. From European cross-country adventures to notching up different home states, chasing waves and beautiful beaches, or just looking to discover something delightful on your doorstep, road travel is pure unadulterated freedom when done right. If the idea of a long car journey has you breaking out in hives just thinking about sweaty seats, multiple bathroom breaks, and static radio sounds, then these tips could be just what you need to put a positive spin on the promise of turning wheels. Take a look at how to do road trips right, because as Gloria Steinem says…
“The road is messy in the way that real life is messy. It leads us out of denial and into reality, out of theory and into practice, out of caution and into action, out of statistics and into stories—in short, out of our heads and into our hearts.”
Check Your Vehicle
Whether you are taking your trusty car or renting a campervan, make sure that you check, check, and check again to make sure your wheels are in good working order. If you are heading out on a long trip it makes sense to get a once over from a mechanic and even to invest in an oil change. If not, don’t sweat it – just make sure that your tires are pumped, your water and oil levels are hitting the right marks, and that you have your spare tire and jumper cables ready to join the party.
Make a PlayList
Modern technology is a wonderful thing and there’s no better companion for a road trip than your trusty phone loaded up with playlists and podcasts to keep you entertained. Make playlists to match your every mood – from a lively driving day to summer moods and upbeat tracks for those times when you feel sleepy and need a little pick me up. Podcasts are another great road addition for when you need some audible company.
If there is anything worth investing in prior to a road trip it’s a good roadside rescue service. Nothing will halt that anxiety in its tracks quite like knowing that if your engine decides to splutter and stop, help will be on the way. Seriously, towing is expensive and being in a situation where your car won't start and you are far from home is a level of stress that no one needs.
Mix it Up
Spend some time studying your map and mix up your day so it's not endless highway driving. While it can be tempting to be overly ambitious about your driving ability every day, the last thing you want is to burn out. A good system can be driving a couple of hours, stopping to see something interesting and taking lunch and driving another couple hours, always with the aim to stop mid to late afternoon so you have lots of downtime before hopping back in the drivers seat the next day.
Snacks and Local Food Stops
Endless coffee and service station sugary snacks are a quick route to sugar crashing on your road trip and getting cranky. If you really want to keep your energy levels high and to stay alert and feeling fresh behind the wheel then be sure to pack lots of great snacks. Grazing can be a great way of avoiding that driving zoned out feeling. Pack crackers, cereal bars, fruit, energy-boosting nuts, lots of bottled water, and smoothies. This could also be a great chance to get off the beaten track and check out all those one of a kind roadside dining spots. Part of the allure of a road trip can be to embrace local culture and this all starts with choosing to dine local.
Plan to be Spontaneous
Some people love to plan, others need to fly by their seat – whichever kind of traveler you are, try and keep an open mind and make room for both in your schedule. While having a rough route and daily itinerary will certainly help keep you sane and heading in the right direction, it also helps to leave a little wiggle room for a spontaneous adventure. Sometimes, you may meet people along the road who change your journey, you could find yourself falling hard for a city and wanting to stay another day, or you could find yourself just needing an extra rest day. Having a vague plan, places to stay, but also having some room to play is the best way to balance your road trip.
What are your top tips for a road trip? Share with us in the comments.