Traveling via airplane may be faster and possibly more “luxurious” than traveling by car, but I have to admit that there is something special and even sentimental about going on a good ol’ fashioned road trip. There are so many things to see and do along a road trip that you would never be able to when traveling through the sky. I would honestly prefer traveling by car if it were faster to get to farther away destinations, but I guess I’ll just have to wait till teleportation becomes a thing (whenever you’re ready, Elon Musk!).
I’ve definitely had my fair share of road trips. I have done the fun and adventurous road trips with friends, the family road trips, and I have also done the “moving across the country with everything I own in my car and attached trailer” road trip… twice. So, if you’re the spontaneous “Let’s just drive and see what happens!” type, I applaud your carefree spirit, but I do suggest you at least consider a couple of these tips to help better your adventure.
1. Choose a destination and time frame.
Choosing the main destination and a time frame for your trip is crucial. You should choose a destination based not only on your desire, but also the ability to drive to it (aka not across the ocean), and how much time it’ll take to arrive, enjoy, and then get back home. For example, If it takes 7 days to get to Tennessee, but you only have 7 days off to take the trip, you probably shouldn’t go to Tennessee…Hope I didn’t lose anybody there with all that math talk. Consider the amount of time/days it takes to get to your desired location + a couple days for exploring (or more if you can) + the amount of time/days it takes you to get back home and that should equal the amount of days (or time frame) you have for your trip! If you don’t plan a time frame and then map out your drive around that, you may find yourself short on time when arriving to your desired destination or be cut short on time spent sight-seeing along your road trip.
2. Decide on the route.
After choosing your time frame and destination, choosing the route is next. This can be as simple as plugging in the destination’s coordinates on your GPS and holding tight for the long ride. This is great for the traveler who has no intentions of stopping other than for gas and food, and just wants to get to their destination and start exploring as soon as possible. However, if you’re anything like me, you want to choose a route that may or may not be the quickest but could also leave room for some interesting places to check out or sight-seeing nearby. I love to see as many new places and things as I can when I am traveling, and road trips are no exception! One of the best things about road trips is there aren’t really any rules to which route you have to take or stay on and you can create a memorable experience along the way by finding cool things to stop and see near your route. If you want to stop somewhere along your way, see how far away it is from the route you wish to take. You’ll also want to add that into your time frame as well if you’re on a time crunch.
3. Check out a “Roadside Attraction”.
Not saying you have to… but you HAVE to! This is a really fun and really weird thing to do on your road trip that definitely gives a weird yet charming twist to your roadside adventure. When you’ve decided your destination and route, google “weird roadside attractions” and you’ll find a plethora of America’s most odd and bizarre roadside stops to check out. Some are funny and quirky, some are beautiful art pieces, and some are just flat out weird, but all of them are unique and definitely a sight to see. These roadside attractions are spread out all over the U.S. so if there is one nearby your route- don’t miss it!
4. Use Apps.
There are plenty of apps out there now that can help you do almost anything it seems like nowadays (except teleport, but like I said, whenever Elon is ready!). Apps can be helpful resources when wanting to get the most out of your road trip.
For instance, I use the app called “Waze” instead of the average GPS app because it not only shows you the quickest route to your destination, it also notifies you when there has been an accident along your route, if there are cops, cars pulled over to the side to look out for, and even other Waze users on the road with you! Waze makes everything easier when it comes to real-time traffic and accidents so you’re always aware ahead of time.
GasBuddy is an app that allows you to see the gas prices from all of the gas stations near you. When you need gas but would rather spend the extra money on more fun things during your trip, GasBuddy will show you where the cheapest gas is nearest to you. This is great to have during a road trip because of obvious reasons. What do we want? Cheap gas! When do we want it? During the entire road trip! (And preferably the rest of our lives… but definitely during the road trip!)
Rayka is an awesome travel app that is like using the Yelp app but directed more for the younger crowd. I used to use Yelp like crazy whenever I traveled but it wasn’t ever that great at finding the “cool” spots I was looking for. Yelp’s average user is in their 50’s, if that tells you anything. Nothing wrong with that. However, when I’m trying to find a cool bar to get drinks at, or a cute coffee shop to go to, I don’t think Barbara Smith who’s 52 and who’s favorite restaurant is the Olive Garden (no offense to their garlic bread deliciousness), is going to “hook me up” with the kind of places I’m looking for. Thankfully, Rayka has a community of other young people like students and travelers alike, that share their favorite places and top recommendations of places to go, things to see, food and drink, etc.
5. Get your vehicle checked beforehand.
Cue eye roll I know, I know, I sound like your parents but this one is super important especially before any drive that is longer in length than usual. I definitely suggest you make sure your oil and fluids are up to par as well as getting an overall check-up just to be sure you don’t have anything to worry about during the fun times. Think of how shitty it would be to get all excited about a road trip and get stuck on the side of the road along the way, all because of something you could have caught and fixed beforehand. Don’t let this be you!
6. Pack wisely.
Obviously, you’ll need to pack a bag of clothes, toiletries, and what not for any trip. Road trips however, require a bit more thought in what to pack and have with you during a long car ride. Stock up on snacks (preferably of the packaged variety so they don’t go bad), water bottles and/or other beverages, a couple plastic bags for trash, pillows and blankets for a more comfortable ride, portable chargers for your phone, and anything else you think you could bring that will make your drive smoother. Pro tip: If you don’t already have it, invest in a First Aid kit to keep in your car. I think everyone should have one in their car at all times just in case, but especially on a road trip.
7. Bring entertainment.
If you’re bringing friends along for the ride, then you’re already halfway there! To keep things fun and lively while driving for longer periods of time, you’re going to need an epic playlist. What’s a better way to pass the time and mile markers than singing off key to “Fergalicious”!? The answer is nothing, nothing is better. I recommend a nicely balanced mix of music genres, but a throwback playlist is a necessity. Podcasts can also keep things interesting on a long drive. If you’re weird like me and like creepy stuff, listen to The Last Podcast On The Left for some dark humor that will keep you spooked and interested the entire drive (however, not for the faint-hearted). You could also bring a book or two if you’re a daredevil who doesn’t get headaches from reading books during car rides. I envy you!
Overall, plan out what’s necessary but also don’t take it too seriously. Have fun, be safe, and have an adventure! Happy Travels ☺
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Want to hear more from Meg?
Check out her Instagram @x3megatron or her Twitter @megatronx3. Meg Ferrin is a college student pursuing a degree in Sales and Marketing. She is obsessed with traveling- she LOVES to explore new surroundings and try new things. When she's not slaving away at school, she likes to read and write, snuggle with her 2 precious pups, and occasionally grab a couple beers with some friends after a long week of crime fighting and being an absolute gift to the world (it’s exhausting at times). Her friends would probably describe her as EXTREMELY humble, and a “bit of a sarcastic asshole”, but also “has a sparkling personality”. Life’s about balance, right? 😅
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