Last week I road tripped from Kansas City, MO to Rapid City, SD and then back again. In 4 days. Because apparently I’m a crazy lady. I love seeing this amazing country we live in up close and personal. I got to see Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, and a few not so well known sites. But I also spent approximately 20 hours in the car. Let me tell ya: things get weird when you spend that much time by yourself. Luckily for you, I have some helpful tips and tricks to make your road trips a little more enjoyable. So without further ado, here are my top tips for your best road trip.
1. Clean Your Car
I will be the first to admit, my car functions as a catchall most of the time. But when you’re spending that much time in such a small place, you want to be semi-hygienic. So throw out all that random crud that has accumulated in your backseat and vacuum that baby out.
This tip also applies once you’re on the road. Every time you stop, toss those wrappers and empty bottles. You’ll thank me later when your vehicle doesn’t smell like stale french fries from 200 miles ago.
2. Start Early
Have you ever been on the road at 4 am? Do you know who else is on the road at 4 am? No one. It’s exciting to wake up and start exploring while everyone else is still asleep. Plus, there’s really nothing better than watching the sun rise.
3. Make a Mix Tape
Okay, so it doesn’t have to be an actual mix tape. But figure out your music/entertainment situation. I personally love Spotify for making playlists. If you upgrade to premium (first month free!), you can download your playlists before you leave. So no more losing your connection halfway through belting out some Whitney Houston (I promise this has never happened to me). Audio books are also a good option.
4. Bring Snacks
There are only so many gas station options. So save yourself some time, money, and sanity by bringing your own snacks. I like to pack a small cooler with healthier snacks (think pre-cut fruits and veggies, yogurt, nuts).
This is sooooo important! On a long road trip, the first beverage we reach for tends to be coffee, shortly followed by energy drinks. I love coffee as much as the next person, but getting my full 8 glasses of water a day is a necessity. It helps keep me alert, prevents me from overeating (most of the time), and keeps your body running like a well oiled machine. I personally use a Brita Water Bottle so that I can get water any where. Its cheaper than buying disposable bottles all the time and more environmentally friendly.
6. Eat Local
When you do eat out, try something new. What is the point of driving hours away to eat at a chain restaurant that’s available in your home town? It’s just silly. Check out reviews, use apps like Open Table and Urbanspoon, ask locals for their recommendations, just drive around until somewhere catches your eye. One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to visit restaurants that have been on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.
7. Get Off the Beaten Path
Please for the love of bacon and cupcakes, don’t spend all of your drive time on an interstate. Yeah they might get you there a little faster, but you will miss out on so many wonderful hidden gems. Take the scenic route. Take the back roads. Get a little lost. Thank me later.
8. Do All of the Touristy Things
Pro Tip: If it has “World’s Largest” in the title, you must visit. Road trips are the perfect opportunity to drop your cool guy facade and do all of the cheesy touristy things. There are so many small, kitschy museums, attractions, and land marks to see. Take a chance and follow the billboards. In my experience, the wacky places make for better stories than the mainstream attractions.
9. Document All of It
You can never take enough pictures during a road trip. And don’t just break out the camera for the routine pictures. Snap pictures in the car, when you stop to get gas, of random things you see while you’re driving down the road. These are the memories that you want to capture and remember. This is what road trips are really made of.
Have you ever taken a long road trip? What was your favorite memory from it?