Want to know some tips to survive a cross-country road trip? Road trips sound wonderfully romantic — the open road and scenic views, the freedom to choose where to go and when to go. The whole experience sounds amazing but in reality, there is a lot of stress that goes along with cross-country vacations in your automobile. Here’s where we can help you prepare to make the most out of your vacation and avoid some of the common stress points.
1. Prepare your automobile.
Whether you are taking your car, minivan or RV on your trip, make sure you check to make sure it is functioning well. Does it need an oil change or any maintenance service? Are your brakes working as they should? Are the tires and spare tire inflated properly? Do you have windshield washer fluid? Consider having a mechanic check your vehicle to make sure everything is functioning properly. Make sure you have an emergency kit with jumper cables available. The effort now will give you peace of mind on the road.
2. Get your paperwork in order.
Make sure your driver’s license, registration, and insurance are all up to date and that you have these documents with you and easily accessible. No one wants the trouble that not having these would cause. Also, pay any traffic or parking tickets. Read up on local laws, for example, cell phone usage laws can differ state to state. In addition, if you aren’t already, become a member of a roadside assistance membership, such as AAA. It will be helpful should you need some help along the way. Consider signing up for a toll pass to be able to travel toll roads with ease.
3. Pack thoughtfully and strategically.
When you pack your bags and your vehicle, make sure you pack only what you need and will use so as not to over pack. You don’t want your vehicle so full that you become a target for theft. At the same time, overpacking makes it very difficult for you to find what you need. It makes sense to take some time to list out what you actually need and to pack them in separate bags that you’ll access while on the road and when you reach your destination. Have a bag in the passenger area that has necessities you’ll need along the way – tissues, wet wipes, sanitizer, paper towels, trash bags, etc. Pack a cooler for snacks and drinks.
4. Synchronize your bathroom and food breaks.
Assuming you won’t be alone on this road trip, make it a rule that when you stop, everyone in the car tries to use the bathroom. Equally helpful is to have everyone get food at the same time. This will reduce the number of stops you’ll need to make.
5. Clean car before and as you go.
As part of preparing your vehicle, start by making sure it’s clean. It will make your experience that much better. Use trash bags and clean your car as you go. Use rest stop trash cans to empty your car.
6. Have activities available.
While a road trip is interesting and fun, there will be lots of time where you will not find it so. Make sure the driver packs some audio options, books on tape, podcasts etc. Gum and crunchy apples also help keep the driver alert. Equally important, the passengers should pack some things to keep occupied. Movies, books, small toys for kids are all good options. Sometimes it’s fun to incorporate learning about the states you visit as you go.
7. Make a general plan.
This one seems obvious but it’s a good idea to do some research and plan out your route and some stops and a general timeline. The key here though is a “general” plan. Don’t over plan. Remember though that a road trip should remain flexible. Some things will happen that are not in your control. Traffic, detours, a tired driver, grumpy passengers, and so many unimaginable scenarios can occur. It’s all part of the experience. Sometimes the unexpected can afford the most enjoyable or memorable piece of it. So use these tips and then let the journey happen. Enjoy your trip!