While road trips are an exciting experience, they also have the potential to go wrong (the movie Vacation, anyone?). I had told myself for years that I would take a road trip across the United States. However, the chance had just never presented itself. So, when my friend found out that she had been offered a job in California, I was the first to volunteer to ride along. After having my first road trip experience, I’m ready to share my advice to make your drive run smoothly.
What to pack
Here’s an idea of some of the items you’ll want to pack to make your long haul in the car as comfortable as possible.
- Caffeine– Whether this is in the form of Red Bull or coffee, caffeine can help you wake up and stay focused while driving when feeling drowsy.
- Snacks– There are many areas where you may not even be able to find a bite to purchase, so maybe sure you bring some along. I recommend something like a granola mix and water bottles.
- Phone car connector– Unless you want to listen to the radio for the entire trip, make sure you bring a phone car connector so that you can play music off of your phone.
- Comfy shoes– There’s no reason to bring anything but comfy shoes on a road trip.
- Sunglasses– Is there anything worse than driving with the sun in your eyes?
- Your camera– You never know when you’ll see a photo worthy landscape along the road!
- A car phone charger or external battery– Your battery won’t last forever.
What to download
Listening to audiobooks is one of the best ways to pass the time while riding in the car. Nonetheless, they can be a bit expensive. If you sign up online for a 30-day free trial of the website Audiobooks.com, you get a free audiobook download of any book in their library! Remember, you have to sign up online first. Then, you can use the app on your phone to download the text of your choice. I used my free book on Bossypants by Tina Fey.
Similar to Audiobooks, Audible also offers a free audiobook download upon registering for a 30-day trial. Between Audiobooks and Audible, they will both have all of the most popular books to download. Nonetheless, it is essential to note that Audible has a more extensive library. So, if you like “niche” books, you may be better off with Audible.
Hotwire is a fantastic booking app that helped me save a ton of money on the road trip. My friend and I booked our hotels while driving (instead of ahead of time) and always had a great experience with this app. The cool thing about hotwire is that it advertises hotels at prices that are cheaper than usual. The only catch is that it does not display the name of the hotel until you book it. When you search for a hotel room, you’ll be told how many stars the hotel is as well as the neighborhood in which it is located. Furthermore, details such as “free breakfast” and other amenities are listed.
We’ve all heard of Yelp, but I can’t express how useful this app is to find great places to eat while driving. Driving from Atlanta to Los Angeles, there was a bit of a dry spell after getting through Dallas. Sometimes we were unsure of when we would see a restaurant next, so we started planning out where we would stop to eat using Yelp. The app was especially helpful in small towns where there were not many options.
Waze is an absolute lifesaver when it comes to avoiding traffic. With this app, you can communicate with other drivers in the same area and alert them to road and traffic conditions. Moreover, if Waze detects bad traffic, it will attempt to reroute you using back roads that many don’t know about.
Podcasts have become quite the rage in recent years due to the smashing success of Serial. Entertaining podcasts include This American Life and Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History.
- Get your car checked before you leave.
- Make sure to refill your gas tank before entering a remote area.
- Stretch each time you get out of the car to prevent pain and tension.
- Anticipate hiccups in your plan and traffic along the road.
- Be open to adding in last-minute stops.
- Make road trip playlists with your favorite upbeat music.