Road trips offer tons of advantages over flying. You can set a detailed itinerary or go where the spirit calls you. You can extend your trip if time — and your boss — permits without haggling with airlines over change fees. Best of all, you’re in the driver’s seat.
However, a bit of planning ensures a more enjoyable journey. You don’t want to spend your precious vacation looking for a tow truck. What should you do to prepare before you depart? Here are five things to keep in mind on your next road trip.
1. Keeping Clean
If you plan to stay in hotels on your trip, you don’t have too many hygiene worries outside of protecting yourself from infectious diseases by keeping your hand sanitizer handy. Although most indoor locations no longer require masks, it’s still wise to bring a few — why not reduce your chances of getting sick when sharing cramped indoor spaces on your trip?
However, you should inquire about laundry facilities if you plan an extended trek. Luxury hotels may handle this chore for you. Otherwise, you’ll have to find somewhere to clean your socks and undies, especially if you plan an active outdoor excursion — you don’t want all that bacteria lingering close to your skin. Your best bet is to call local laundromats in advance. Some now use loyalty cards instead of coins, which increase safety and convenience but cost more upfront.
If you plan on sleeping rough, you’ll also need to locate a shower. Here’s where a gym membership to a facility with nationwide locations comes in handy — many fitness centers have showers, lockers and saunas. You might consider a day or week pass if you don’t have such an amenity or pay to stay at a KOA or other camping area with such niceties.
2. Tackling Car Trouble
You’re rolling down the road, singing travel tunes with your tribe, when a “clunk, clunk, clunk” interrupts your melody. A flat tire can suck the road trip joy right out of your day.
Roadside assistance is glorious — please invest if you aren’t handy. However, also be aware that help might take hours to arrive in some rural western locations. It’s wise to know how to tackle these common mishaps, especially if you’re traveling solo and find yourself on a dark desert highway at midnight:
- Tire change: Know where your tools are and how to loosen the lug nuts before you apply the jack.
- Dead battery: Carrying jumper cables is a must, as is the know-how to use them.
- Blown fuses: It’s a piece of cake to find and swap out fuses on most models (phew).
- Blown lights: Maybe The Wallflowers can drive it home with one headlight, but in the real world, a dead bulb can net you a ticket and irritate other drivers, even putting you in danger if they rear-end you as you try to turn.
Finally, please ensure you have all the tools you need, including triangles and flares, so you can safely tackle repairs on the road.
3. Feeding the Machine
You need to eat to keep your energy up on a road trip. However, relying on gas station fare means consuming countless empty calories laden with fat, sugar, salt and additives. Is it any wonder you put on weight over your vacation?
Instead, take a different approach. Pack a cache of healthy snacks and use technology to plan the best dining hotspots along your journey. Examples of foods to keep in your car include:
- Whole grain crackers
- Dried fruit
- String cheese
When it’s time for meals, get creative. Do you only have the money and time to stay within your home state? Why not plan your tour around finding the best Asian or vegan eateries in Pennsylvania? You’re sure to get inspired by new recipes and maybe write an article for a local publication about your finds.
4. Taking the Scenic Route
Going on a road trip is a vacation — planning shouldn’t only involve the heavy stuff. Dedicate just as much planning time to consider what makes your heart smile. Apps like Waze might show you the quickest way to get from point A to B but not necessarily the most enjoyable.
Let’s say you want to visit Boston. Why not take a few side trips, exploring other nearby New England historical sites like Salem, Massachusetts? Instead of sticking to the freeway, look for country roads that wind through the spectacular fall scenery, keeping your camera handy on the passenger seat for the unbeatable photo ops.
5. Making the Miles More Enjoyable
Maybe you’re hitting the road to save money on a family vacation. If so, you probably know that “are we there yet” wins first prize in the World’s Most Annoying Question competition.
Beat boredom by seeking out and mastering a few fun road trip games to pass the time. For example, you can have a hilarious time brushing up on your cognitive reframing skills by playing the Fortunate/Unfortunate game. “The Singing Game” may not do a thing for your pounding headache, but it will keep your kiddos engaged if they love playing karaoke at home.
And hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little electronic entertainment. If you don’t have a luxurious ride with rear-seat DVRs, there’s a cheaper solution if you have a cellphone or tablet. For just $12 a month, you can join YouTube Premium and add countless videos to your download list, enabling your kiddos to access them without WiFi. You can even save a couple of your favorite yoga workouts to stretch into serenity when you finally reach your hotel.
Things to Keep in Mind on Your Next Road Trip
If you want to make the most of your next getaway, a little preparation does a lot. What should you do?
Follow this guide of things to keep in mind on your next road trip. You’ll improve your chances of passing the miles with nothing but smiles.
See some more of my travel posts here