Ah, the roadtrip. Something almost as distinctly American as apple pie, pushy retail employees or asking ” How are you?” without giving a good goddamn. ‘Murica.
For most of you out there in readership- land ( yes, it’s a real place– I think it’s in Iowa) you may dread sitting in a car for an extended period of time. Screw the journey the destination is where it’s at, amIright? But for those people that are gluttons for punishment and adventure, like myself, we find that there is nothing better than a road trip to bring you back together, tear you apart, and bring you together once more. There is possibly more than one round of that depending on how dark and isolated the road is and how long you are on it. Onward my friend, stay strong!
I fell into road-tripping. My father would drive everywhere when I was younger, Maine or Virginia or even occasionally Canada. Flying was never an option and there wasn’t much complaining. In fact, until my junior year of high school I had never set foot on a plane other than a seaplane for a tour of Moosehead Lake. Fast-forward about a decade and my husband, Mitch, disdains air travel. He doesn’t like the germs or the heights or the travel advisories. He is content driving 2-24 hours just to make sure he doesn’t have to fly. So, I am an accidental expert as it were. Lucky you!
If you do find yourself in a situation where you are going to be on the road for extended periods of time there are some things you should know.
I am in a car so often that I have preparedness kits prepackaged and ready to go. You should also do this for seasonal items if you live in a climate that produces natural disasters (read: everyone). Things that are shelf stable to eat ( granola bars, fruit leathers, etc), OTC medications for all occasions, blankets/warm clothes, kitty litter/salt melt, pet bags/food/supplies, jug of water, paper towels, toilet paper, and the list goes on and on. Think of the situations where you may be stuck and think of what you and your family may need in that instance. If you have severe allergies talk to your doctor about getting and epi pen for those moments your adventures don’t go as planned ( IE a bee flying in the window). AAA or a roadside assistance plan that is 24/7 can be invaluable– you don’t know you need it until you need it. As a bonus AAA offers many discounts on lodging and some plans offer free maps- contact your local office for details. My husband and I frequently rent cars and they all come with roadside assistance. It’s a little more expensive to rent but it saves your car wear and tear and gives you a piece of mind.
I know that it may sound like an oxymoron after the “Be Prepared” section but packing light is crucial to being comfortable throughout the trip. Pretty much anywhere you go there will be a laundry service or laundromat. Save yourself the space and the backache!
Plan & Allow Enough Time
Okay, so this one should be a given but here are some things that some people just don’t think of when planning a road trip. Leave yourself enough time and be well rested to ensure that you are alert behind the wheel.All professional truck drivers that I’ve spoken to have told me that they usually drive 300-400 miles a day. Many had a cap placed on them by their company at 400 miles/ 8 hours. Leave plenty of time for gas and potty breaks. For my family, it works best to take a break about every 100 exits ( more or less depending on where travel plazas are located.. If you lookup the route ahead of time you want to take into account that the drive time doesn’t equal the time to get there. For every 4 hours, I add an extra hour. For bigger families or traveling with pets, you may need to add more time. Check out how many miles your tank of gas should get you and be sure to pump gas before you are on empty. Travel can dehydrate you and you are also coming into contact with more germs than usual. Be sure to drink plenty of water ( some cabbies I know say that in the long term it keeps you alert better than coffee!) and although I am not normally a fan of antibacterial hand solutions I make an exception for traveling.
Make the most of your stops. I recommend that everyone get out of the car even if it must be in shifts with the dogs or kids. Stretch, get a water, try to use the rest room, purchase fuel, and walk the pups while you’re stopped. There is nothing worse than leaving the rest stop only to have a passenger have a bathroom emergency 10 exits down the road. It may also be in your best interest to plan out points of interest along the way where you can get out and explore which gives everyone a much needed break. Here are a few great tools:
- Alongways – app that marks points of interest from Point A to B
- Roadtrippers – website similar to Alongways
- Go Pet Friendly Roadtrip Tool – Plots out your course and points out pet-friendly attractions, camping, and more along the route.
- Bring Fido – Hotels & Attractions that are pet-friendly for travel
Hopefully, these tips help you to plan your next roadtrip. There will be upcoming articles that go into more detail about topics we’ve discussed. If you have any questions, suggestions, or additions please feel free to comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for wandering with me.