I recently went on a road trip. Well, more like I drove back home to my family’s for a vacation. This meant I drove over 1800 miles, one way.
Most people asked me why I didn’t choose to fly, thinking I was nuts for wanting to drive that far. And there were a few reasons. One was that I have a dog that I was bringing with me. He’s a little neurotic on the best day so I couldn’t imaging stuffing him into an airplane for several hours. But I also really love driving. I knew I would be working while I was on this “vacation” so the three day drive from the Southeastern United States to the West Coast region was my own mini vacation. It allowed me to take some time away from distractions and be alone with my thoughts.
So what are my road trip must haves?
Now, you want to be entertained without being distracted. So make sure you choose your passengers carefully. You’ll want to have fun but also not have someone that will create problems along your drive. You’ll also want to create a great playlist for the drive. I like to plan my playlist based on how long the drive is. If I know I’ll be driving for 10 hours one day then I’ll try to make a unique playlist for either the entire drive, or maybe half of it, and only place songs I wouldn’t mind hearing a second time within the same drive on it. If you’re traveling alone, audiobooks can be a huge benefit to the drive. Check your local library to see if they have audiobooks available, or you can purchase them online. I like to test my audiobooks around town first. There have been plenty of times where the narrator is hard to understand or “whisper-talks” making it hard to hear over the road noise.
What’s a road trip without snacks? A commute, that’s what. If you’re trying to eat healthy, putting some time into road trip snacking is vital. You’ll want to buy food in advance and keep a cooler or small bag filled with easy snacking items like granola bars or similar. I also love figuring out where my stops will be along the way for different meals and preplanning the restaurants I’ll stop at. For my three day drive I was able to stop in some major cities and experience local favorites. If you’re a foodie like me, this is one of the funnest parts of planning the trip.
I like to plan my stops at least a week in advance. I know that things happen during drives and I know, based on past experience, that I stop a lot. So I like to make a Plan A and a Plan B for stops. For instance, I’ll try to get to this town by the end of the day, but maybe there was traffic or I stopped too long getting food, or maybe I’ve become tired and need to call it an early night. If this is the case, I like to have a secondary location that isn’t quite as far that I can stop at to stay. Since I travel with my dog, I check out all the hotels and the price points and see which ones allow pets. I also like to check out the town using Google Maps to make sure I feel safe rolling into a hotel late at night.
Car Safety Kit
Make sure your car has a safety kit in it. Check out our post about the 5 things you should keep in your car at all times. If you keep these in your car you’ll be better prepared if something unexpected happens like you end up with a flat or blown tire. I will add to this list to keep your vehicle insurance handy. Many states accept a digital copy of your insurance allowing you to pull it up on your phone if needed, but keep a hard copy in your glove box just in case. You’ll most likely be traveling unfamiliar roads in different states, which puts you at risk for missing a speed limit change or any other accident that might place you and the local highway patrol having a chat.
While my main purpose for road tripping was traveling to see family, most “road trips” are planned to simply enjoy the road, company, and sights. Maybe you’re driving to see the Grand Canyon. What other stops can you make along the way that will be worthwhile? Maybe check out the world’s largest ball of yarn, or cruise by Death Valley, or stop in Amish Country and shop some of their local foods.
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