Having just returned from my very first road trip, I thought I could share some wisdom that I picked up along the 1,500 mile/28 hour way.
1. Staying in Tune – Always get a tune up before any long road trip. Your car may need something you aren’t aware of and you certainly don’t want to learn that in the wrong place at the wrong time.
2. Play It Cool – We bought a Styrofoam cooler and stocked it with soda, espresso, water, and sandwiches. It saved us from spending countless dollars in gas stations and drive-thru restaurants.
3. No Foam Please – If you can, spend a little extra on a durable cooler instead of a Styrofoam cooler. You can put more in a Coleman without the worry of breaking the sides, they are easily drainable via a spout at the bottom, and will not incessantly squeak with every bump in the road.
4. Don’t Get Google-y Eyed – On the way to our destination, we relied on Google Maps to keep us in the right direction. While we did get to where we were going we also hit numerous construction zones and took toll roads that were unnecessary. Do your research beforehand and map your own route.
5. It’s a Gas – Fill up your tank when you aren’t sure when the next gas station is. We tried to always keep the tank above a half tank just in case we hit a long lonely stretch of road. No one wants to hitchhike through upstate New York at 2:00 a.m.
6. Vice-Versa – As much as you may assume that the drivers from whatever state are all crazy, they are just as likely looking at your license plate and thinking the same thing. Keep an eye on what everyone else is doing and drive defensively and with confidence. You are on their turf but that doesn’t make them better drivers.
7. Highway Hypnosis – Driving tired is just as bad as driving under the influence. If you have a fellow road trip traveler, don’t be ashamed to ask them to take over while you rest for a bit. If you are by yourself, find a safe rest area and get some Z’s. There is no reason to get in an accident just because you wanted to save a couple hours.
8. Water Hazards – If you find yourself driving in hazardous weather, turn on your hazard lights and find an exit off the highway to take to wait out the storm. My girlfriend and I were driving in hail in Illinois and pulled off the highway to find funnel clouds forming along the route. It was a good thing we stopped or we could have been severely injured.
9. Celebrate Good Times – Road Trips are supposed to be fun, not just a route from A to B. Make memories, try new foods, take pictures, and collect souvenirs. Do whatever you can to remember those moments of independence and adventure because you never know when you may need to keep someone entertained with tales of your youth.