10 Ways to a Smoother Road Trip Experience
No matter where you’re going or whom you’re with, a road trip is a unique travel experience that holds potential for everything from disaster to bliss. Follow these 10 ways to a smoother road trip experience, to make the most of your time on the road!
1. Bring multiple forms of audio entertainment
Sure, you have Spotify and several thousand songs downloaded on your iPhone, but what happens if your phone doesn’t get a signal or your auxiliary cord won’t connect to the speakers? Prepare a backup plan in the form of the timeless mix CD. Make a few playlists that vary in style and mood and keep them on deck in case of a tech malfunction. Tired of music? Download a couple gripping audio books ahead of time and lose yourself in the stories.
2. Use a gas card to save money
Purchase a gas card—the fuel industry’s gift card equivalent—and load it up. Most fuel companies offer rewards programs with their cards, so you can receive discounts on gas or earn credit toward fuel and other vehicle costs if you spend over a certain amount at specified gas stations.
3. Store snacks and drinks in your trunk
Stock a bevy of yummy and accessible food and drink options for when you’re hungry and stuck in traffic or the middle of nowhere. In addition to the classic chips and candy combo, purchase a variety of healthy choices that won’t spoil: think nuts, dried fruits, nutrition bars and cereals. Keep a couple jugs of water in the back and load up on fresh fruit and other perishable items at the occasional pit stop.
4. Bring an actual map
Don’t rely solely on GPS or Google Maps to take you to your destination or guide you out of unfamiliar territory. Bring an actual map with you for situations when you find yourself lost on back roads with no cell service and zero road signs. For a fun visual representation of your exact route, keep a highlighter or marker handy to chart your progress across the map as you drive.
5. Research only a handful of destinations
Don’t research the best attractions, sift through every restaurant review and memorize the fun facts of each destination you plan to visit. Instead, do your due diligence with only a handful of the places you’re eager to explore. That way, when you drive through what looks like an interesting area, you won’t be influenced to stay or go based on your prior Internet scouring—instead, you can let your curiosity take the lead and experience a destination without bias or expectation.
6. Keep cash and coins on hand
Stow some cash and change in a safe place—like a locked glove department—to use in emergency situations. Extra coins and bills will come in handy if you can’t locate an ATM and need to park in metered spaces, pay at cash-only tolls, or avoid the hefty credit card processing fees imposed by certain establishments.
7. Clean your car regularly
Few things will make you resent the hours you spend in your car more than its cluttered, smelly state during a road trip. Prevent the threat of claustrophobia that comes with sitting among piles of sweatshirts, greasy paper fast-food bags and Snickers wrappers by cleaning your car regularly. Make a habit of throwing out trash during every fuel or bathroom stop. Take a couple extra minutes to rearrange your belongings to clear some space for legroom. Fold blankets that aren’t being used, stash board games in the seat pockets and put your pillows in the trunk if you know you won’t be napping.
8. Divide responsibilities among the group
Assign each person traveling in the car a specific road trip responsibility. Designate someone as the navigator, someone as the snack connoisseur, another as the music aficionado, and another as the go-to person to fill up the tank. Don’t forget smaller roles, too: someone to keep the cash organized for paying tolls, someone to stay awake with the driver, someone to scope out the oil levels and tire pressure, someone to double-check that no one leaves their wallets and phones at a rest stop. Though it’s helpful and necessary to share some of the bigger responsibilities like driving, designating each person to a specific duty keeps everyone accountable and ensures that everything gets taken care of.
9. Pull over at viewpoints
When you see the sky fade to soft orange and pink hues, when you catch a glimpse of a deer skittering through the woods, or when you turn the corner to see row upon row of snow-topped mountains, pull the car over. Forget your schedule, find a safe and legal turnout point along the road, stop the car and walk outside to get a better view of the scenery. These spontaneous, curiosity-fueled stops will be some of the most memorable, precious moments of your trip—take advantage.
10. Be flexible
Accept that not all your plans will come to fruition and that things will go awry, whether it’s losing your keys, being forced to take a 3-hour road detour or not being able to find accommodations for the night. Keep an open mind and embrace each challenge and difficulty as an opportunity for adventure. Be flexible with your plans and enjoy whatever the moment brings.
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