The Great American Road Trip is a beloved pastime in my country. However, as my country is also enormous with large areas of unoccupied wide open spaces, it can also be boring. If you’re planning a road trip (in any country!), you might want to follow a few of these tips to make your journey smooth and entertaining.
P.S. I’ve also recently written about road tripping with kids, so make sure to check that post out for some tips if you’re planning on bringing little ones with you.
Make a plan but don’t have a rigid schedule.
I’m sure you probably have some sort of a time limit to your trip (but I’m jealous if you don’t!). You’ll want to plan out where you’re going to be staying each night before you head out again and get an estimate of how much time it will take to drive from place to place. Hopefully you can set driving times of less than 8 hours each day so you’ll have plenty of time to stop on a whim and explore things you see along the way. You never know, the world’s largest ball of twine or some strange roadside wonder might just catch your eye.
Talk to the locals!
They will be able to tell you the best places to grab a bite to eat, if there’s anything you shouldn’t miss out on while you’re in town, and if there are any hidden gems that the tourists just don’t know about.
Get a gas card.
You’ll be buying a lot of gas on your trip, so you might as well take advantage of the points you can earn along the way.
Let people know where you are.
If you’re not posting on social media as you go (as I certainly would be), at least let somebody know your itinerary and where you plan to be each night, and check in with them along the way. Not to be paranoid or anything, but if something does happen to you, it will be helpful to have somebody know where you are.
If you’re passing by a roadside curiosity, make sure you stop!
More on those roadside curiosities: seriously, stop at them. They are hilarious and will make your drive more entertaining and will give you plenty of stories to tell once you return. There’s the “world’s largest” everything, strange museums, historical sites, art projects, etc.
Research stuff to do along the way, but be spontaneous as well! Know if there is anything interesting you want to stop for along your route, but also leave time for spontaneous stops.
Also make sure to follow those strange billboards that always pop up on road trips. You’ll often find some interesting things! There are signs for ‘THE THING?’ all the way through Southern Arizona so you bet I stopped there! The “thing” is a kooky shop with a small museum in the back with some mummies. Cool.
Make a playlist before you go.
You’re going to be spending a lot of time in the car, so you should probably spend some time curating an awesome road trip playlist full of all your favorite songs to belt out at the top of your lungs.
Get some audiobooks, too.
While you’re squaring away your entertainment, you should probably download a few audiobooks as well. Pick something that all the occupants in the car will enjoy and spend your driving time being captivated by a great story.
Bring some cash.
You might not be prepared for when you have to pay a toll somewhere or pay to park. If you keep some cash and coins on hand, it will go a lot smoother when you are surprised by these things.
Bring a spare key to the car.
Better safe than sorry!
Pack light so you’ll be able to collect items along the way.
You’re probably going to see some cool things to buy along the way. Kachina dolls from the Hopi reservation, some cowboy boots in Texas, some amazing whiskey in Tennessee…you want to make sure you have space in your car to actually pack these things!