The Art of Roadtrippin’: My Top 10 Road Trip Tips

Iowa Road Trip
Iowa Road Trip

Prepare To Make Your Next Road Trip The Best One EVER

It wasn’t very long ago that the thought of a road trip made me kinda nauseous. Why would anyone want to sit in a car for hours on end… all I could think about was the boredom (dun dun dunnnnn).

My outlook changed about five years ago with a couple trips. My girlfriends and I trekked down to Austin, stopping at a a filling station straight out of the 60s for delicious homemade fried pies. My husband and I made the drive to Denver and spent the whole ride dreaming and connecting. It hit me like a shot of Fireball... road trips actually have a lot to offer.

Whether you are a seasoned road warrior or a newbie, here are 10 tips to make the most of your next road trip:

1. It's about the journey.

  • Before you step foot in that car - get your mind right. This trip is about more than the destination. Take advantage of the scenery, the rest stops, the 'famous' ham sandwiches in the middle of nowhere – some of the best adventures aren’t planned, they are found in places you didn’t know existed. And you may just find that the road trip part of your trip has some of your best memories.

2. Choose your road trip partner wisely.

  • You will be spending a lot of quality time with this person. Be sure you like them. And if you don’t have a choice (ugh, sorry about that!)… pack headphones, a pillow and a magazine to politely hide behind.

3. Think like a mom and prepare. When I was younger, my parents would pack my younger brother and I in the van every spring break and drive  20+ hours to my grandparents in Arizona (#myparentsarebadass). My mom has always been great at thinking through everything we could possibly need and it made the trip that much smoother.

  • Pack the necessities: things like paper towels, Kleenexes and trash bags can go a long way when you’re in the middle of nowhere.
  • Bring things to do, but don’t feel obligated to do them: Some of my favorites are reading, crossword puzzles (fun for the driver and passengers) and perusing cookbooks (because I’m 80).

4. Pack snacks.

  • Be sure to include some healthy options (apples, bananas and trail mix are a good start). While it's awesome to gorge on Bugles and Corn Nuts the whole time (#guilty), you'll feel better if you throw something with nutritional value in there.

5. Bring your own water bottle.

  • Save some $$$, and the earth, by refilling your bottle with water and ice at the gas station. Don’t feel weird  – I've been doing it for years (clunking around in my cycling gear, covered in sweat, no less) and no one has ever made a peep.

6. Turn off your music and listen to the local programming.

  • Different parts of the country feature different radio programs. From grain prices to live garage sales (these are the absolute best! Catch them on the weekends in the Ozarks), you can have a lot of fun, and experience a different way of life, listening to local programming.

7. Don't get lost.

  • Duh, right? But for someone like me, this can’t be stated enough. Plan out your route, print directions, bring a map and program your GPS. The more back-up you have the better, for everyone in the car.

8. Avoid driving more than 8 hours/day.

  • If you are traveling on a budget check out KOA Campgrounds or that state’s camping facilities. Often you can find affordable cabins that provide all of the necessities for much less than a hotel.

9. Get out and stretch, or take a nap.

  • Sitting for too long isn’t good for anyone, so when you stop to use the john or fill your tank, take care of your body too. Do some stretching in the parking lot or take a lap around the truck stop . You may look funny, but you’ll feel better. And if you’re really tired pull over somewhere safe and take a 15-minute cat nap (it will do wonders!).

10. Take a deep breath.

  • You’re trying to remember everything, cramming it all in a car which suddenly seems smaller, attempting to beat rush hour and think: is this really worth it? Take a deep breath and relax. An adventure is waiting and the trip will be better if you accept the things you can’t change.

I'd love to hear how your next trip goes or what tips I'm missing! Stir up an adventure, my friends.