Editors Note: This is part one of a two-part article on “road trip tips” – be sure to check out Wednesday’s post for the second part, filled with even more great road trip tips!
Recently I took a road trip to Northern California. I now have many travel writing articles to write. It’s ironic that I drove to the East Bay and South Bay of San Francisco because I’m not one for extended road trips. The last one I did was in September 2007 when I drove from Cleveland, OH to Phoenix, AZ. Talk about a grueling but rewarding road trip! I ended up moving to AZ. I flew home, packed up, and shipped my stuff via a Pod; I flew back to AZ. Since I learned a lot from my first road trip and my drive to Northern California, I thought I’d share my thoughts along with some road trip tips. This is Part I.
Many people enjoy road trips because it’s a great way to see your state and or country. Some people plan their trips, others like to ‘fly by the seat of their pants’ and make it a real adventure. Whatever you choose, you may want to consider these road trip tips and tricks before you head out.
Road Trip Tips and Tricks
- Get your vehicle checked out before you begin your trip. It’s a good idea to make sure the tires are in good shape, and that you have a spare tire and jack, the oil is clean, the hoses are intact, you have enough windshield washer solution in the reservoir (and an extra bottle of it), carry extra oil with you, the coolant is clean and filled, you have enough brake fluid, and the battery is good to go;
- Program your GPS and get maps. Programming your GPS to your first destination spot will save you time. However, you may want to purchase a couple of maps and do Google Maps just to be on the safe side. If you’re more of an ‘adventurer road tripper’ then you may forgo Google Maps;
- Know before you go. Get a general idea about your destination(s). You may plan to stop at certain sites, but you may discover new ones that seem more interesting;
- Travel writers be sure to carry pen and paper. I know many writers bring along the notepad or laptop, but a pen and paper is lighter. When I visit places I like to have my pen and paper ready so I can write down some notes. Now, if I’m underground in a cavern, I would choose NOT to bring my notepad or laptop with me. A laptop is too heavy and could break if I lose my footing — the same goes for a notepad!
- Take breaks. If you’re a lone driver (twice for me), it’s essential to give your body a rest. Since you’re doing all of the driving, it’s imperative to stay alert. Stop at the rest stops, get out, and stretch. Walk around the rest area and take your ‘potty’ break! You may choose to take a nap for a half hour or longer;
- When you get gas, take some time to stretch. Just don’t get gas and hop in the car. Take time to clean the windows (bug splatters), check the air pressure in the tires, and walk around to loosen up the muscles.
I hope you enjoyed Part I of ‘Road Trip Tips to Avoid a Bumpy Journey.’ Part II is jammed packed with more road trip tips and tricks. Remember the key to road trips is to go with the flow. As long as you keep an open mind, you’ll have a great time on the road.
What advice do you have to make a road trip more enjoyable?
Great post. Thanks for the tips and trips. Not sure if I’m up for road trips unless someone else goes with me. Couldn’t imagine driving 12 or more hours by myself; would get tired and little lonely.
We tend to do road trips a lot. In Canada, everything is very spread out. Driving from Montreal to Toronto for the weekend is quite a common occurrence. We love road trips. Cold winters cause us to drive to Florida often. I always look forward to the drive, eating fast food, listening to music and checking out the view.
We normally drive together taking turns, but once, I drove to Pitsburg all by my lonesome to see my dad compete in the Senior Olympics! He won by the way:)
We are still map people, we have a fantastic map book that has all of our previous road trips highlighted. So when we go to Florida for example, our route is all mapped out for us.
@ Dave and Deb – Thanks for stopping by! I know how busy you are so I appreciate your taking time to read & comment…..I do enjoy road trips too – and am also a “map person” but I do enjoy using the GPS devices when I rent a car – it’s kind of fun to have something telling me where to go! And I find myself talking to it (sort of – I thank it every time it tells me to make a direction change or whatever…it just seems rude not to)…and congrats to your Dad!
@ SarahQT – I find that listening to audio books really helps pass the time, and that it really is important to take breaks now and then to get some fresh air and stretch your legs.