I love the thrill of a road trip. There’s nothing like gassing up the car, hopping in and heading to destinations unknown. For the seasoned road tripper, there can be nerve wracking moments — picture moments worthy of Clark W. Griswold. As someone who traveled 10 states in 10 days last year, here are a few things you can do that will not only save your sanity, but will make the trip more pleasant for everyone.
We define stops in our travel itinerary. It saves time and prevents a lot of hassle. Mainly, my boys fussing about my wanting to check out one more antique store. If we’re traveling during daylight areas, we take time to stop at state run rest areas to stretch our legs and get rid of energy. Otherwise, there are a lot of Starbucks stops. Those are my favorite by far.
Books on Tape/CD
We took a road trip and traveled 10 states in 10 days this past summer. It was tedious at times, but listening to a book on tape helped immensely when there was nothing but corn fields for hundreds of miles. We were able to live the adventures of Harry Potter as a family and it made some of the boring parts exciting.
Soda on the road is a no-no. If you have kids, they will drink it and those planned travel stops will increase ten-fold. (At least it seems that way.) We fill our Sigg bottles and bring them. This way we’re not stuck buying water when traveling and don’t drink as much. Arriving well-hydrated, but not sugared up, can make a world of difference in your trip.
Bring Garbage Bags
Garbage bags are essential. If you’ve ever taken a road trip, or ran errands with a bunch of people, you’ll know how dirty the car can get in a hurry.
If you keep the car cleaned out, it feels roomier and you’ll be more relaxed, as well as enjoy the trip more. Saving time when you get back so there’s no grumbling and complaining about the pigs you associate with is good for your mental health. After all, you don’t want to look at your loved ones as if they’ve grown snouts.
Avoid Rush Hour
Rush hour is a pain in the neck when traveling. Depending on where you are, rush hour can be a brief inconvenience or result in a migraine of epic proportions. When we visit my in-laws in the Washington, DC area, I’m fully aware that rush hour runs 5-9:30am and 3-7:30 pm. That’s a lot of stopped traffic. Timing our trip to arrive at lunchtime or after the evening meal saves headaches keeps us from snapping each others heads off and we arrive still liking each other.
Map It Out
With the advent of smartphones and GPS’s, taking a trip by car and finding your way around has never been easier. However, if you’ve ever been detoured, you’ll quickly find out they either don’t work in rural areas or are wildly inaccurate. When we’re on a roadtrip and haven’t been through an area, we always stop at the Welcome Centers when crossing state lines and pick up a free map. They are a necessity and you won’t be sorry they’re sitting in your door when it’s 10pm, you’re in the middle of Amish country on a two lane road, forty miles from your hotel and you’re mobile phone has no service.
Road trips can be fun if you plan ahead. You’ll arrive tired, happy and still like the people you’re traveling with. What are your favorite road trip tips?