4 Tips To Prepare For A Road Trip
Does the idea of packing your bags, throwing them into your car, putting all your troubles behind you, and heading off to a pinpoint marked on a roadmap or entered into a GPS make you dizzy with excitement?
Since you’re in a country that has celebrated road trips as a family tradition, you’re probably not alone in loving road trips. Chances are you’ll find it easy to pack your car with other people who love road trips as much as you do. America is a land where the ideas of the automobile, the love of freedom, and a journey down inexorable roads have commingled into mythopoeia.
Some silly road games remembered from your childhood, karaoke, and deep, philosophical discussions about the absurdity of the human condition and the aberration of the political direction of the country will be more than enough to keep everyone well entertained as you drive past miles off uninhabited lands, interspersed with scattered small towns and the sudden megalopolis rising from the earth like the emerald city in The Wizard of Oz.
If you’re planning on a road trip any time soon, here are four pointers to ground your unparalleled sense of adventure:
1. Don’t forget your paperwork.
Be sure to take all your necessary paperwork—drivers license, any IDs, social security cards, proof of liability auto insurance (or comprehensive if you have it), credit cards, roadside coverage cards, club membership cards, contact names and addresses, miscellaneous notes, brochures, maps, and so on. Most of it will be easy to fit into your wallet, glove compartment, or carry in a digital format. There is no specific list, of course, it just depends on what you need to help manage all possible scenarios on your trip. The last thing you want is to need to deploy some kind of paperwork when you’re hundreds of miles away from home. It doesn’t help if the membership card or license or whatever it is that you need at the moment, is in the top drawer of your dresser or desk.
2. Give yourself plenty of time to get to places.
Although you may have a detailed itinerary, it’s important not to pack everything you want to do too tightly into your schedule. It’s far better to overestimate how long everything will take and how much it will cost, then to aim for precision. The idea of a road trip is not to be productive, efficient, and performance-oriented, but to be spontaneous, adaptive, and playful. Sure, you need to make some plans to avoid driving around in circles, but keep things fluid and open-ended. Who knows, you might want to stay a few extra days at Encintas, California, to catch the waves.
3. Set some fun goals.
It might seem antithetical to talk about goals on a road trip, but these are only to give you a sense of direction and enrich your experience. After all, if you’ll be heading out into Yosemite Valley via Hwy 120 and you haven’t seen your favorite aunt Martha who lives in Groveland for 12 years, it would be a shame to not give her a call before you leave to see if she is available to meet for a cup of coffee.
4. Research the best apps to download into your smartphone.
Besides your map app, there are plenty of nifty apps for road trips that could help you enjoy your adventure more. For instance, you could use an app to keep track of your expenses (Mint), an app for finding the cheapest gas stations (FuelMyRoute), an app for discovering the best places to stop (RoadTrippers), or an app for finding places to eat when you get hungry (Roadfood). It’s a good idea to find an app for what you want to do before you leave so that you can find the quickest, shortest, cheapest way of doing it without much hassle. It might be nice to know the weather ahead or available places to stay before you get to your intended destination rather than leaving everything to chance.
A Few Words of Encouragement
Should you go? After all, it takes time and costs money, and you’ll fall behind on everything you’re doing and you might get lost! Here’s a shot of inspiration for you if you’re hesitating from Elizabeth Berg’s book, The Year of Pleasures, “Now, on this road trip, my mind seemed to uncrinkle, to breathe, to present to itself a cure for a disease it had not, until now, known it had.”