Let’s face it. A long road trip can be both exhilarating and tedious.
No matter what you’re traveling for, there comes a point when driving becomes work.
There’s certainly something to the age-old expression of the journey being more important than the destination but many (if not all) of us are still in a hurry to get there, even if it’s only to get off the freeway and out of the car.
If your idea of a successful road trip (like mine) is getting to your destination quickly, safely and with minimal headaches, here are some dos and don’ts from someone who has spent the better part of the past three years on the highways and byways of America.
Know Your Route
Do plan your route in advance.
Decide whether you’re okay paying tolls or would rather tack on a few extra miles, twists and turns and minutes to save some money and avoidable stops.
If you’re driving across the country and don’t have a rested passenger to pass the wheel off to you’ll want to have some cities and towns in mind to stop each day for rest and recovery. Most major roadways pass through or near big cities so finding an overnight stay at the last minute on a long-haul journey shouldn’t be hard.
If you’re going it alone without a travel advisor, apps like Hotels.com, HotelTonight and even Airbnb should do the trick.
Set Checkpoints and Limits
You may only want to drive a few hours each day and see some cool sites like a bucket list national park along the way or maybe you want to maximize those grueling minutes behind the wheel by burning as many miles as possible.
Either way, do set a checkpoint before you set off. It can be 100 or 1,000 miles, but goal-setting is crucial to a big road trip. Odds are you need to reach your destination eventually so always look to tackle the most mileage on Day 1 to relieve stress and pressure moving forward.
If you’re like me and prefer not to put added strain on your eyes driving in the dark, be sure to get an early start (after sunrise) on each leg of your trip so you can reach your checkpoint with enough time and daylight to settle in for the night.
Don’t forget to gas up on your way in though so you can hit the road bright and early the next morning.
Podcasts and Playlists
It can be tough to go hours without scrolling social media these days but a lengthy road trip demands your eyes stay on the road so having some of your favorite music and podcasts dialed up is a must.
Depending on where your travels take you, you may want to download your favorites and be prepared to play them in offline mode as you would on an airplane in case your connection gets spotty.
Spotify is an excellent jumping off point app-wise if you want to keep your most beloved songs and stimulating podcasts in one convenient place.
Embracing the Moment
Road trips will test your mettle, regardless of whether you’re traveling with young children, have an unfathomably long distance to cover or are crossing state lines solo with no one else to talk to.
If you’re doing it right you’ll do a lot of thinking on your road trip.
I always find it invigorating to think about not only where I’m headed but why I’m traveling and who I’m doing it for if not just for myself.
These quiet moments will stack up as the miles pass and disappear just as quickly so take advantage. Your road trip may feel like work at times but remember that no two paths are the same.
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