Road trips, if planned correctly, can be a splendid way of seeing just about any part of any country. Planned incorrectly, both you and the trip can unravel faster than you can say, “Are we there yet?” Since there’s no shortage of road trip checklists on the internet detailing what you should bring, how you should prepare your car beforehand, and even road trip packing lists, this is not going to be one of those articles. I’m solely sharing some tips on how to make your road trip getaway suck a whole lot less.
1. Know who you’re bringing
Although many road trippers take great pains in meticulously detailing what to bring on a road trip, they should be concentrating on who they actually bring instead. The last thing you want is a whiney, back seat driver who needs to pee every 20 minutes. Or a sign reader. You know who they are.
“Oh look — McGillicutty’s Corn Maze!”
“20 miles to Boise!”
“Well lookie there — they have Live Bait!”
PRO TIP: Watch the movie Kalifornia before setting out on your road trip. If any of your road trip mates even vaguely sympathize with the Brad Pitt or Juliette Lewis characters, run for the hills.
2. Know what you want to see
A road trip along America’s Route 66 has been done to death, but Route 69, now there’s a route worth getting out of bed for. Never heard of it? It runs from Arthur Lea, Minnesota through the Heartland all the way to Port Arthur, Texas. Not exactly hotspots for souvenir hunters, but that’s the point — obscure is the stuff road trip dreams are made of.
Although it certainly helps to have a rough plan of your road trip route, leave some wiggle room in there for sites you’ll encounter along the way. Some of those unplanned stops can sometimes be the most memorable.
PRO TIP: The road trip app Greatest Drive suggests connecting road trip itineraries for you along the way. The interface is a little clunky and it takes a while to get used to, but it does offer road trip suggestions for over 160 countries, and works great if you pondering where to head next. The app also integrates with Yelp to give you recommendations for where to eat along the way. Sadly for Android users, this road trip app is currently only available for Apple iOS compatible devices.
3. Know what you’re driving
Jalopies are great, but perhaps not for a multi-day road trip in questionable weather over questionable roads with questionable roadside assistance options. Get your car checked out thoroughly beforehand. Something as seemingly insignificant as low radiator fluid or balding tyres can turn your trip into a tragedy.
PRO TIP: If you plan to get your tyres online at oponeo.co.uk (or even if you don’t), check out their customer guides to learn everything you didn’t know you needed to know about tyre pressure, load index, and what all those markings on your car’s tyres actually mean. There’ll be a quiz after. (Okay I’m kidding about the quiz bit, but still, some good info there.)
What tips would you include on your road trip checklist?
*All vintage black and white photos courtesy of Shutterstock.