There is no shortage of articles online about how to plan and execute a road trip. Some of those articles have great tips and they will be sprinkled in this top 10 list, but others appear to be written by someone who’s never taken a road trip in their life. For example, one article suggested joining a “travel club” before a road trip.
Take it from someone who just took a 2,300 mile drive from Detroit to California. These are the nine most practical tips to survive any road trip. But seriously, who joins a travel club? C’mon man.
When you take your car to the repair shop or dealership, let them know you’re about to take a long drive. Have them change the oil, inspect the tires, top off the fluids and replace the wiper blades if necessary. If you have any doubt your car can’t make the drive, don’t even try. A car that breaks down can ruin your day, but a car that breaks down during your road trip will ruin your vacation. Also, make sure your car’s interior is clean and tidy before the trip.
Get a car charger for your phone
On my drive to California, I had a phone charger with two USB ports very similar to this. Since the majority of the drive was in the middle of nowhere, my phone was constantly searching for service which drained that battery quick. Not to mention, the constant web searching, turn-by-turn navigating and picture taking will also take its toll on the battery. A charger with two USB ports is well worth the money and lets someone else charge their phone, too.
Print off the directions
Luckily you won’t have to worry about your phone running out of juice because you have a charger. Yet, there will be times when your iPhone will steer you in the wrong direction. Referring to a map you printed out will help you avoid driving down the wrong interstate and having to hear you are being re-routed over and over and over and over again by Siri.
Drive with friends
Driving by yourself not only gets lonely, it’s dangerous, especially when you’re in the Rockies and trying to figure out if your directions want you to go Northwest or Northeast. A passenger/friend/co-captain/navigator can share driving duties, cover the cost of gas, DJ the radio and, most importantly, give directions to the driver. They can also pick out the best places to stop for gas or food assuming they have service for web browsing.
Bring a blanket and pillow
There will always be that person who is hot when everyone is cold or cold when everyone is hot. Bringing a blanket or sweatshirt ensures when someone is cold they can wrap up. A pillow is also good to make those car seats a little more comfortable when trying to take a nap. You might also want to consider 17 items to keep in your car, too, minus an old cell phone. Keeping an old cell phone is like joining a travelers club.
No matter where you’re driving, an opportunity to take a candid shot to update your Instagram followers is bound to occur. This is another good reason why you should bring a couple of friends for the ride because driving and taking pictures is sort of dangerous.
Listen to local radio
At some point in the drive, you’ll inevitably exhaust every song on your iPod or phone. The local radio is a place to find the songs you totally forgot existed like “Who’s that lady?” by The Isley Brothers or “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus when she was still known as Hannah Montana. Plus, if you’re a sports fan, you can listen to local sports talk which might come in handy for fantasy football or getting a scouting report on future opponents.
Stay at a decent hotel
You’re already spending a good chunk of change on gas which might make you want to pinch pennies on your hotel. It’s not worth it. When planning the road trip, set a point or two where you’ll be stopping for the night and book a hotel ahead of time. When booking a hotel, try to reserve a room where the business-folks stay. I personally love Hampton Inn. The beds are comfortable, the rooms are always spotless and they have a great breakfast that’s completely free.
Don’t text and drive.
You want to live a healthy and long life. I would imagine the people you’re sharing the road with do as well. Have your passengers/co-captains/navigators do some of the work for you. Let them tell you directions and even more importantly importantly, let them read and respond to your texts.
Written by Max Katsarelas