The summer is coming to an end and before you say goodbye to the warmth of this season, you want a last hurrah. We get it! There are adventures to be had that doesn't require a plane ticket or lots of money. If you have access to a reliable vehicle, good company, and time then you have all the elements to compose a fun road trip. With that said, here are some tips we accumulated to help you make the best out of your road trip. We combined both practicality and fun for the right setup.
Let’s be realistic, for the next X amount of days, you will be in a small enclosed space - sharing just about every waking (and sleeping) moments with the people on this trip. While you want the best experience possible, you also want to set the practical expectations. There will be unplanned circumstances, people will make mistakes, and disappointments will happen. In light of these human moments, here are some tips that will enrich the road trip experience even when things don’t go as planned.
Road trips are exciting. But not everyone is equipped for it. Find people that you have common interests with and enjoy spending quality time with. Remember, you are going to be in the car with them for a while, be sure this enclosed space is filled with love (or strong like) - then all the other stuff like laughter, joy, and great conversations will come along.
It may seem counterproductive for a car to get serviced before a trip but you to make sure you have a properly functioning car, before taking it on a long drive. Check important functions such as times, lights, windshield wipers, and etc. On the other hand, if you don't want to add a few thousand miles to your car, rent one. Visit websites like Expedia.com and Kayak.com, they have plenty of discount with unlimited miles offers.
We are all thrown off our game when we are not on our regular routine, stimulated by adventure, and just plain excited. So prep for these moments wisely.
Pack lightly. First, for the apparent reason of space. More importantly, leave room to collect goodies to take home.
First, bring a spare key. The last thing you want to do is lose your keys and have to call roadside assistance to create a spare.
If you aren't currently using an app that transfers money to someone (Venmo, Square, Banking transfer), activate one prior to departing. Just in case you lose your wallet, you can easily transfer funds to someone on the trip.
Take a picture of important information and email it to yourself. This is a current habit of mine, anyway. When I get a new medication, prescription, new insurance card, or other important documents that I do not want to carry around, need to know, but hard to remember, or simply need to keep track of I take a picture of it and email it to myself. This way I can always obtain these types of important information wherever, whenever. Just be sure you are accessing your email through a secure place - like a trusted person’s device.
I can't tell you how many traveling horror stories I’ve heard about parking in the wrong place and their car getting towed. Remember, you are a guest in an unfamiliar town. Read the signs, heed their warnings, and respect their laws. It might not make sense to you, but it doesn't matter because they will tow your car anyway.
Now, to the fun stuff!
You can Google or Yelp the best places to eat or visit when you’re in a new town, but the best places are recommendations by the locals. My favorite place to visit is the towns next to the well known bigger cities. I usually start my day at a local momma-pop coffee shop and start a conversation with someone. There's nothing more exciting, to a local, then being able to brag about their town with the most delicious places to eat and interesting places to visit. The cool thing about talking to a local is they usually give you the history and fun-facts that you won’t get through an app. You also get to know the people and experience these places as the locals do. My one mantra is to avoid chain restaurants or places when I travel.
If you want to really explore, the way exploring is meant to be done, then remove the use of devices or at least limit it as much as possible. Devices take away from the present. Play road games, have meaningful conversations, be in the moment. This applies to music too, unless of course, you are having a sing-a-long.
This one is both practical and fun. Everyone can use a little personal space, especially on a road trip. So, plan some time to venture off without one another. Make stops at scenic areas where everyone can enjoy individual activities such as meditating, practicing photography skills, or simply enjoying nature.
Have some targeted destinations to go at the same time stay flexible. Allow the trip to unfold on its own - with some exceptions, of course. For example, if you steer and detour to another place because a local suggested a delicious seafood restaurant about 20 miles off the road, go for it! Or if everyone on the trip danced till dawn at a local bar, then sleep in a little the next day. Pick just a few important things to maintain (must see landmarks and what day to arrive home) but leave room for surprises and time for exploring.