Ah, road trips…a favourite pastime of pretty much anyone who’s ever been on one. There’s nothing like a good ole’ classic road trip to kick back, relax, and create some memories. Guarantee that you have as smooth a trip as possible by following these road trip tips and hacks.
However carefree and blasé you may be on the trip, though, there are still a few dos and don’ts to keep in consideration—these will ensure your experience is top-notch and as seamless as possible!
Pack Lightly—but not too lightly
Packing can be a little tricky when it comes to road tripping. You won’t want to pack too heavily, but you also want to be well-equipped for any adventures you might go on.
You want to make sure you have enough of the right clothing. If you need certain shoes for hiking, for example, or any other outdoor activities that pique your interest, double check that you’ve got them packed before taking off.
Although you’re probably not going on this road trip to make a fashion statement, some people do get into their Instagram posts, which is completely understandable. If that sounds like you, aim for lighter, less bulky outfits like sundresses or rompers.
The general idea is that you want to make sure you have everything you need, but not too much more than that. In addition, you want to be comfortable.
What to Pack
Although you have a car or camper van to keep it all in during your trip, you’ll feel cluttered and uncomfortable if you’ve got too much packed down inside. Here are some essentials you should consider packing as a bonus road trip tip (or a few):
- Bring a reusable water bottle! This will make staying hydrated so much easier (to be mentioned again in a later road trip tip).
- Bring snacks that are easy to eat, healthy, and won’t spoil quickly.
- Bring plenty of socks and undergarments. These are the things you won’t want to be re-wearing if it comes down to that, so pack plenty of them.
- Bring eco-friendly wet wipes that can help you to stay feeling clean and fresh. You might want to consider this for your hands, face, and maybe elsewhere!
- In addition to the last tip, bring a few rolls of toilet paper.
- Don’t forget your toothbrush! You won’t get much enjoyment from the trip if you lose track of your hygiene. Your comfort level will soon start to suffer.
Have a Plan
Everyone is different, yes. Some people like to just sort of go with the flow, and some like to be as prepared as they possibly can, to the Nth degree.
Whichever type of person you are, it’s best to at least meet somewhere in the middle—moderation and all of that. This is even more important because of the global pandemic the world is experiencing right now.
Travelling is notorious for having unexpected things pop up and throw you off your game. It’s all in the fun of it, but sometimes it can be stressful.
What to Plan
You should have a general plan mapped out for a few major things in order to avoid any huge inconveniences happening during your trip:
- Know what you want to do and see, and on which days.
- Find out how far away each destination is from the other.
- In the case that you do need places to stay in each one, call to make reservations ahead of time. You will definitely need some planned out sleeping time.
- As weather can be unpredictable, check the weather for each spot in advance. This will give you ideas on what to pack!
- Check on parking and/or camping sites. Make sure there are sites available and whether they cost money and how much, etc.
- Make sure you are aware of the high crowd areas. You want to still make sure you are staying away from highly populated sites and parks, and you should definitely bring a few masks. Look at the location’s listing under Google to see when the least crowded times to go are.
- Also check on high-traffic areas, so you can avoid driving through them at prime traffic time. That is, unless…you like sitting in bumper to bumper traffic…but to each his or her own!
- Bring plenty of hand sanitizer and vitamin C! This is an important time to keep your health at optimal levels.
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Make a Playlist—Road Trip Tip Essential
You will definitely thank yourself later on when you have pre-planned tunes all ready to go. You certainly won’t want to have to mess around with the radio while you’re driving.
Although it’s an unspoken rule that music is a passenger’s kind of job, the trip will definitely be smoother if you make your playlists in advance!
For road trip tips, you probably want to make sure you download some of your playlists. The reason being, you may drive through some remote areas (getting a little lost is all in the fun, after all!). For that reason, you won’t be able to play radio or use your data to stream music as you normally would.
See the below playlist ideas from my own personal stash if you’re in need of a little inspiration:
Communicate a Plan with Fellow Road Trippers
Why is this important? Well, you’re about to spend a lot more time with other passengers than you would with most people…like ever in life. Therefore, you may want to try and minimize any chance of friction or bumping heads in any way.
One great way to avoid such occurrences is to make sure you’re all on the same page before hitting the road. For example, what is everyone’s pace? Are you all going to be okay with meandering around, or is there a time limit that has to be taken into account? What is everyone’s travelling style?
You will also want to talk to everyone about budget. Budget gaps can mean the difference in your meals, too. Someone on a tighter budget will probably want to pack food to take, so they can save as much money as possible and avoid eating out.
Someone on the other end of the scale will likely be more interested in checking out the local eateries in a town on the itinerary. This is inevitably going to have a huge impact on your experience, and if it isn’t discussed beforehand it can lead to discord.
Ideally, it’s nice to travel with people who happen to have a similar budget to yours, and a similar travel style. That isn’t always possible, though. The best alternative is to at least have an understanding of any differences you might have in advance, so that you can be aware and limit unnecessary surprises.
Carry Some Cash
It’s always a good idea to have at least a bit of cash on you. This is probably one of the most important road trip tips!
As an overall road trip tip to follow, you will want to keep your eyes peeled for some interesting local spots. They often turn out to be some of the best experiences of the trip! Those places also sometimes end up being the ones who don’t take credit card!
You obviously shouldn’t take a ton of cash, but it’s definitely a general road trip tip to abide by to have a little bit of paper handy.
Fill up your Tank Often
Every single time you stop, it’s a good idea to just go ahead and fill up the tank. You really don’t want to end up in a remote area with no signal and no gas in your car.
No signal means you won’t know how far the next gas station is, or even where to find it by using the GPS on your phone. If you’ve got the opportunity, fill ‘er up.
Bring a Phone Charging Bank
You’ll benefit from having a cell phone charging bank, especially if you’re going on hikes and other daytime adventures for hours on end. You’ll probably be taking lots of pictures, and it will inevitably drain your battery.
Trust me, it’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it! That sentence in itself is a pretty good general road trip tip and one of my top road trip hacks to follow.
Maintain Healthy Habits
Unfortunately, it can be really tempting to down a bunch of coffee and to indulge in junk food. When you get tired, you’ll likely start to crave caffeine and sugary foods. It’s a road trip after all, isn’t it? Resist that temptation as much as you possibly can!
It’s okay to have a few treats here and there, but you will eventually start feeling run down if you indulge in unhealthy food too much. Junk food will also only give you a little burst of energy for so long, and then comes the crash.
Water is especially important because it keeps you hydrated, which helps your immune system a lot. On top of supporting your body’s immunity, drinking water will also be helpful when you are putting lots of caffeine into your body.
Caffeine is naturally dehydrating, so you’ll want to make sure you’re making up for any lost hydration in your body. You may need to take quite a few bathroom breaks here and there—but at least you’ll know you’re staying healthy!
Plan Plenty of Breaks and Detours
It’s important to take breaks—not only will you need to rest your body and mind from the drive, but you’ll likely want to stop off and see things along the way!
You should certainly plan detours as well. That’s the whole point of the road trip anyway, isn’t it? Enjoy the journey, not just the destination…something like that.
One thing I want to try one day is a RV road trip. If that is something you are planning, I saw these great tips for how to prepare for a summer RV road trip that you might want to check out.
Document your Trip Somehow
Definitely make sure you have some kind of method of documentation planned out before you hit the road. This is an important road trip tip. Why? After it’s all said and done, you really can’t go back and record anything after the fact!
You can certainly try to remember it all and write it down in a journal or type it up in a blog. If your memory is anything like mine things might get pretty rusty. Once of my best road trip hacks is to add voice or written notes on your phone because after a few days, they all blend together.
Your recount of all the feelings and experiences you’re having in the moment will be way fresher if you’re keeping track of its documentation throughout the journey.
Therefore, you should probably decide ahead of time how you want to do this. Would you rather blog your way through your trip, make videos to compile later on, or instead simply write it all down? Maybe you even like the idea of starting a vlog via your very own Youtube channel. The world is your oyster, really!
Pack a Safety Kit
I know you’re pumped up for your road trip, and it all feels like fun and games (it pretty much is). Nevertheless, you should still prepare for the worst.
That way, should the worst happen, you can handle things accordingly and continue on having a great time. Make sure you adhere to this road trip tip no matter what you do. This can mean the difference in a minor occurrence and a huge problem.
For example, with a safety kit on hand you can properly treat and cover a bad scrape from a hiking fall, allowing it to heal. Without a safety kit, the same wound could become infected. No one wants that!
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Make Sure your Car is in Good Condition
If you don’t know too much about vehicle maintenance, ask someone you know who does. Maybe have them give your car a quick once-over.
Here are a few general road trip tips to keep in mind with regards to your vehicle:
- Check that your oil level is good. Make sure it’s been changed recently.
- Check that all your lights are working. You will need your lights in working order in case you do any nighttime driving!
- Test the breaks and make sure they feel like they’re okay.
- Ensure that the windshield wipers clear the windshield well in case you drive through rain at any point.
- You might want to also check that the heat and/or air conditioning works fine.
- Make sure your engine is in good working order as well. You definitely need your engine if you want to get places!
Keep a Steady Speed
One mistake a lot of people tend to make when they are driving is to accelerate and decelerate a lot. This will end up making you stop for gas more often!
Slow and steady wins the race, as they say. Okay—you don’t have to go slow. Pick a decent speed level that won’t get you into trouble! If your car has the feature, put it into cruise control. This will give your leg muscles a little rest, too. It also makes for a smoother ride.
Lane switching is really the only thing you’ll have left to worry about. Use your best judgment for this. Make sure you stay out of other driver’s ways that are coming up faster. And yes, you will probably need to pass people going slower than you. It’s all a part of the fun, really.
Of all the road trip tips, number one is kind of implied—just stay safe on the road! Keeping a steady speed will help you to do this.
Keep your Expectations in Neutral
Finally, you want to be open-minded and keep expectations in neutral. What does this mean? Well, it means that you shouldn’t have crazy high expectations, or a rigid, tightly wound plan.
That’s almost always a no-no with travelling of any kind (unless you’re not travelling for enjoyment, of course). It doesn’t mean to have low expectations, either. No one likes a doom and gloom, Negative Nancy kind of travelling companion. It simply means…be present. If you only follow one road trip tip, you should make it this one!
Overall, be available in each moment and accept it for what it is. Try to be open to the experience, whatever the experience may be (while staying safe, of course!).
Constantly looking for the amazing stuff to show up will make you susceptible to, ironically enough, miss out on it when it’s actually right in front of you. In fact, it’s probably all around you.
I hope you get to take a road trip soon! These road trip hacks and road trip tips should be helpful. Where to next?