My family was big on driving–not flying. My parents claim that trying to put three (happy) kids on a plane was nearly impossible, so hitting the road was our only option. And I’m so grateful. Some of my best memories were made on the road. A successful road trip is all about balancing preparation and spontaneity. Here are 10 road trip tips that made (and still make) my road tripping experiences positive and that may help to enhance your experiences.
10 Road Trip Tips
Know Your Car
I know hardly anything about cars, but over the years I’ve made sure that I know just enough to get by. When it comes to your car, you want to be prepared because you never know what might happen. I suggest knowing how to check your tire pressure, what kind of oil your engine needs, if you need an oil change before your trip, how to check your fluid levels, and the height and width of your vehicle (in case you enter narrow lanes, low bridges, or construction). Also, have some sort of reliable roadside assistance and check up on your spare tire. Again, life can be unpredictable!
Check the Weather
Road tripping can happen rain or shine, but it’s good to know what you’re up against. The weather can affect the ease of your drive and the time it takes to get to your destination. It isn’t fun or safe to drive in pouring rain or vicious winds. If you’re aware of the weather, you can schedule your departure and arrival accordingly.
Clean Your Car
By no means am I a neat freak, but cleaning your car before and during your trip will reduce some chaos. A few wrappers or receipts in your car’s crevices may seem harmless now, but wait until they start overflowing! I can handle some mess, believe me, but if you’re going on a long journey, you will build up some filth (and foul smells). At the very least, keep a trash sack in your car!
I know this seems obvious, but sometimes the simple things slip your mind. Leave on a full tank. If you are driving through a rural area, be sure to re-fuel before gas stations become scarce.
Packing snacks will save you money and unnecessary stops! Some easy foods to manage in motion are spreads (try spreading Nutella or peanut butter on apples, crackers, breads, etc.), cut up veggies stored in Tupperware, munchies (trail mix is a healthier choice), anything individually wrapped, frozen water bottles (these are great because they double as ice), juice boxes, and ginger-snaps (great for carsickness).
Keep Your Essentials Within Your Reach
Keeping your necessities at arm’s length is important–especially if you’re driving. Try taking off your seatbelt and contorting your body WHILE keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road to grab something as simple as a tissue, contact solution, or Tylenol. Talk about stressful!
Listen To Your Body
Trust yourself. If you are too tired to drive, don’t drive! Convincing yourself otherwise is dangerous. Just stop! Who knows? You may find yourself stopped in an interesting, new place! Road trips are not about exhaustion; they are about exhilaration! Do you have someone with you that can drive? Divide the hours before you go.
Music, Music, Music
Nothing is better than an on-route jam session. You’d be surprised how quickly time passes when you roll down the windows and belt your favorite songs. Bring music for you, your kids, and/or your spouse. It’s a great form of bonding and entertainment for your family! And when everyone falls asleep (which is likely) you might want music to keep you company. I suggest bringing CDs, considering satellite radio, or plugging a device into your car (if it’s capable) to avoid annoying static on your radio!
Play Road Games
Family sing-a-longs, the license plate game, scavenger hunts, and guessing games are great ways to distract kids from asking inevitable questions like “How much longer?” or “Are we there yet?” Give your kids a list of sites to look for along the way or animals to look out for. See if they can find an obscure state on a license plate. Trust me, their eyes will be glued to the window (for a little while at least). And before you know it, you’ll have your eyes glued to the window too (if you aren’t driving of course).
MOST IMPORTANTLY: Plan, but don’t overdo it.
It’s great to plan, but leave some empty slots in your agenda. I have seen some of the most beautiful views and met some of the most whimsical people I’ve ever encountered in my life by accident. My best memories were formed in unlikely and unconventional places. Sticking to a strict plan can be stressful. Be flexible. You want to truly enjoy your journey, right? Allow for the unpredictable; it often brings adventure.
Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. Yes, I’m aware of how cliché that just sounded, but what’s wrong with a little cliché every now and again? What are your road tripping techniques? Share your story!