It may be winter now, but one of the seminal experiences of those who live in the United States is the road trip – don’t ask me why, I’m not quite sure – but for those that wish to partake in this great American tradition, there are a few things you are going to seriously want to consider and plan for when road-tripping.
Make Your Car Your Home
For the foreseeable future, your car is going to be your main base. You’ll be eating, sleeping, playing, talking, working and who knows what else in your car. First things first – make sure it is cleaner than it has ever been before you leave and maintain the clean on the road. You won’t realize how disgusting it is sitting in piles of wrappers and food remnants until you do. Bring garbage bags if you have to (and this might be a good call anyway if you’re traveling as more than 2).
You’re also going to want to make sure that your car has had all of it’s regular maintenance done before you leave – oil change, tire rotation and whatever else may need to be done with the mileage that you already have on your car.
And after your car is in tip-top shape, make sure that you are going to be ok if something happens to your car or if you get pulled over – that your insurance and registration cards are current, that you have a clean record on your drivers license, don’t have any outstanding tickets, etc. It could also come in handy to sign up for emergency roadside assistance programs and/or bring an emergency kit with you. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
Don’t plan things down to the minute, or even down to the hour. Have a loose plan so that you’ll be able to get off the highway and enjoy the scenery, or pull off at that diner claiming to have the world’s best po’boys. Leave room for adventure and exploration – but do have some sort of plan, because if you don’t have any kind of plan, you’ll end up trying to cross the GWB at 5PM on a Friday or worse.
Plus, a reality of any kind of road travel is that there will be construction. It happens. Work it into your schedule and be flexible. The best laid plans will occasionally get waylaid by the most amazing scenery, or just a lack of will or desire to continue. Listen to your body. If you can’t continue without two cups of coffee and a shot of Red Bull then don’t force things.
Know Who You’re Traveling With…Well
Whether you’re traveling with your friend, lover or family, know them well – and understand the way that you interact with them. If you’re traveling with a friend that you know will get on your nerves after hour 46, then you might want to consider just flying to whatever destination you’re trying to reach.
You’re also going to want to know where their (and your) weaknesses lie – are you a good navigator, but a horrible planner – are they someone who thinks that cheese-puffs and drive thru are a good meal? Play to each others strengths and weaknesses.
Enjoy the company of whomever you’re traveling with – you’re going to be spending a lot of time with them – random conversations at 2AM when you arrive at your final destination for the night after a long day of travel, you’ll see their habits when they sleep…this person is going to be your bosom buddy. Make sure you know what you’re getting into!
While these are some of the big things to take into consideration when planning a road trip, here are a few other things that should be on your list:
- Bring your own food and water
- Bring music/iPod/satellite radio
- Don’t go through the drive thru all the time
- Drive safely
- Use the toilet whenever you find one (you don’t know when you’ll find another)
- Don’t wait until your gas is at empty to start looking for a gas sation. Aim for 1/4 tank left to start looking.
- Take turns driving
Jade Evans loves travel, but does not envy those who have to follow movers cross country to a new home and deal with car transport. She hopes to travel to Peru on her next trip.