Last year Christmas vacation called for a trip down to Florida to visit family. Although it hasn’t been my first time doing so, it was my first time driving down instead of flying. My mother and I rented a car and took turns driving the 22-hour long trip. With a few needed stops for gas, restrooms, and traffic along the way, the trip took an hour longer than we anticipated. We did not stop to check in at a hotel or motel along the way, as to not add more time to our driving. I recommend doing a road trip with a loved one, as it is a great way to make memories. Here are 10 tips for a road trip!
Prepare– Preparation ahead of time is key. We began to prepare a month in advance, making checklists of what we were going to pack and calendars of what our days might look like. We also researched the toll-free version of our trip because we knew we didn’t want to pay tolls.
Research– A road trip is a great opportunity to see attractions along the way. On our way to Florida, we didn’t stop to see any attractions. Although I had already planned what I wanted to see on our way back home. Like us you may be inclined to get to your destination quickly, but not in a rush to get home. Research national parks, tourists’ attractions, and sites to see before you go on your road trip. Pick the ones you want to see most and research admission prices, opening and closing times and at what point in your trip these attractions appear. Due to my research, on our way back home, we stopped by historical Forsyth Park in Georgia. A free park with willow trees and monuments to Confederate figures.
Take your own food and toiletries– Think of a road trip like you think of a trip to the beach. Freeze water bottles that will preserve fruit, sandwiches and other food for a longer period. Bringing your own food will help you save money and caters to the needs of whoever is in the car. You should also take toilet tissue and kitchen napkins, you never know if you will need them when you stop at restrooms.
Apps– The car we rented was a 2018 Ford Focus, which has iPhone capability and a navigation system. But if your car does not have these download apps like Waze and GasBuddy. Waze navigation gets updated by live users that can tell other app users about traffic, detours and can tell you what time is best to leave based on traffic. GasBuddy tells you which gas stations near you have the lowest price, which are open 24/7 and other amenities you might find at a gas station. You can also select which brand of gas you prefer and which type of gas your car needs. Other apps include HotelTonight for booking last minute hotel rooms and Lonely Planet Guides, which allow you to download city guides including some U.S. cities.
Create a playlist– Create and download a playlist for the road trip. You are likely to lose radio connection as you drive, but if you download a playlist on your phone, you’ll never get bored. The 2018 Ford Focus has Spotify capability which works when you open the app on your phone. I was especially excited about this when we lost the radio or there was nothing I wanted to listen too. Being a night owl allowed me to drive during the night time in silence, but as I began to get tired the music helped keep me awake.
Car battery backup– Whether you are renting or taking your own car prepare the car for possible breakdowns. Be sure to ask the rental service if they provide a spare tire in the car, not all do. Take a portable battery jump starter like the Halo, which allows you to jump-start a car battery without the need of another car or large wires. Make sure the car is clean and smells good to ensure the most comfortable ride possible.
Take breaks– Even if you don’t plan to stop in a hotel along the way make sure to take breaks. Stop in local stores, rest stops or welcome centers to get out of the car and relax. Each time you get gas is also an opportunity to stop and stretch or eat the food you prepared. This is also a great time for the passenger to become the driver and vice versa. As one person drives the other can get rest and recover, which can prepare them if they are to drive again. Being rested and comfortable is part of being safe as you drive, make sure this is a priority.
Blankets/Pillows– Continuing with the priority of comfort, think of bringing blankets and pillows for your road trip. A blanket in the car helps passengers get sleep by not only keeping them warm but blocking out road lights that might wake them up.
Take the toll-free route– We saved money by not having to pay to cross state lines. From New York City or New Jersey to Florida the best option is I-95 south which avoids tolls. This version will probably take you a bit longer, but it’s cheaper! Make sure you research all the possible routes to your destination, free or paid.
Stop in towns to stretch and see the scenery– Taking the toll-free version will take you through towns and you’ll be able to see local shops, street artwork and more as you drive. Driving through towns will give you the opportunity to stop in stores like TJ-Maxx and Home Goods to use the restrooms and stretch your legs. The restrooms in stores are usually cleaner than the gas stations or welcome centers, which is something to keep in mind.
Road trips can be exhausting, but if you prepare and ensure the easiest most comfortable options available it will reward you great memories. What are some tips you would suggest for a road trip?