Top 10 Tips For Long Road Trips
Taking a road trip to your destination is an awesome experience. It gives you that special something that flying, taking the train, or any other type of transportation can’t give you. You get the opportunity to see the beautiful scenery, changes in landscape, and you get to travel at your own pace. But what is a road trip? A road trip is simply a long distance journey or travel on the road by an automobile.
My family has taken many road trips since I was little. We would drive for 2 days down to Florida every year, from New York down to Orlando, and pit stop a many different gas stations and food places on the way. Now that I’m an adult, I’ve taken a couple of long distance road trips myself. I’ve driven 9.5 hours with my best friend from Pennsylvania to South Carolina to Myrtle Beach and I’ve driven 5.5 hours from Pennsylvania to Ohio to visit my best friend. I absolutely love taking road trips because I get to be in the comfort of my own car, travel at the speed I want, make any pit stops, and just have that freedom and flexibility that I can’t get when I’m trying to rush to the airport or to the train station.
These aren’t the longest road trips in the world but they’re also not the quickest. Even driving 2.5 hours from Pennsylvania to New York (a trip I take almost twice a month to visit my family) can be daunting, long, and tiring to someone who isn’t used to the drive.
If you are interested in taking a road trip, and are looking for some tips, then keep reading to see these top 10 tips for long road trips.
1. Get Your Car Checked
This is SUPER important when you are taking a road trip no matter how long or short the trip is. You need to make sure your car, RV, or any other automobile, is in safe and working condition. You also need to ensure your car is able to handle the length of the road trip and the different landscapes (mountains, hills, etc) and weather conditions you’ll encounter.
When I drove down to South Carolina with my best friend the weather was fine up until North Carolina. Then it started to pour on us! Thankfully, I had my car checked and the windshield wipers replaced so we were good to go! That was just an example, but make sure your car is inspected and prepared for the road ahead.
2. Plan Out Your Itinerary
Just like with any other itinerary you may see if you’re flying, taking the train or bus, an itinerary is meant to serve as a schedule, with scheduled times and destinations, for a traveler. It serves as a guide, albeit a tentative one, for travelers so they are aware of the plan ahead and know what to expect from the trip.
It is a good idea to plan out your trip. You can schedule ahead for the day(s) you’ll be on the road so you can make sure you’re traveling to your destination, and that you’ll arrive, on time. Prior to taking your road trip, do a little bit of research to plan out your route. Maybe you’re taking a week long road trip across the country and plan on sight seeing along the way. By planning out your itinerary for the week, you’ll create this schedule and plan to stay on track, reach your desired landmark, and continue on with your trip without delay!
Now, this doesn’t have to be rigid to the “T”. Since you are going on a road trip you do have that flexibility and freedom to change your plans depending on your given situation or whatever occurs while on the road. However, having a plan means that you’ll be better prepared, you’ll have a picture in your mind of what your trip looks like, and what can be expected.
3. Bring Extra Food & Water
It is a good idea to bring some extra food along for the ride. It’s more convenient to have food right by your side, you won’t have to stop constantly for food along the way, and you’ll save some money in the long run. When my friend and I went on our 9.5 hour long road trip to Myrtle Beach we stopped at a WaWa and bought some food and snacks for the trip so we wouldn’t need to spend so much on food or time finding a food spot along the way.
It goes without saying that having extra water on hand is very beneficial. You’re ensuring you’re staying properly hydrated but you’re also ensuring you have something to drink in case you’re unable to get a drink on your road trip.
Sometimes things happen when you’re on the road, and if you’re ever stuck in a situation where you’re unable to get to a store or gas station, at least you’ll have some water on you as a back up. But overall, just having extra water with you while traveling on your road trip is a plus.
4. Wear Comfy Clothes
I’d recommend wearing comfy, loose fitting, clothing so you are comfortable for the duration of your trip. Something like sweatpants, shorts, or leggings would be comfortable for long road trips. Or, if you fancy something else that’s comfy for you, by all means use it!
When you experience a few road trips, or just long travels overall, you’ll find that after a while it can get quite uncomfortable. Especially for road trips, sitting in the same position for hours on end will become very uncomfortable. However, having some comfy clothing will help you with those long road trips!
5. Take Out Extra Cash
Even though credit cards and contactless payments are prevalent almost everywhere now, it is still a good idea to bring extra cash with you. There are some locations that still don’t accept credit cards. Although they’re far and few in between, having some cash on you as a back up could come in handy if the place you stop at doesn’t accept credit cards.
Or, maybe the place you stop at accepts cards, but for some reason your credit card isn’t working. Maybe you forgot to notify your bank of your travels and your card is denies? There are so many “what ifs?”, that it’s better to be on the safe side and bring some extra cash with you for those moments. It doesn’t have to be a large sum. Depending on how long you’re driving, the places you plan on stopping at, I’d say about $100 give or take would be fine. I always take out extra cash when I’m driving 2.5 hours back to New York or I’m driving for a whole day down south.
6. Make Sure You’re Well Rested
If you’re going to be driving on a long road trip you have to make sure you have had plenty of sleep! From experience with my family and driving myself, it is a very tiring thing to do. It’s a great way to travel but you have to be prepared to be on the road for long periods of time, and to stay focused and awake you need plenty of sleep from the night or day before your trip! Driving on a long road trip without the proper amount of sleep will cause you to be more sleepy, unfocused, uncomfortable, and possibly even stressed or irritable. Not to mention it poses a safety risk because you could potentially fall asleep at the wheel.
7. Bring Extra Clothing
Like I said, you never know what could happen while on your road trip. Even under the best of circumstances, no matter how prepared you are or how in good a shape your automobile may be, things can and do happen that are beyond your control. For those instances, and I hope they won’t happen to you, it’s a good idea to bring some extra clothing with you.
If you’re going on a long road trip, and plan on staying at your final destination for a bit, you’ll probably have some clothes on you already for that trip. But, it doesn’t hurt to bring extra clothing with you so you’re not left without clothes. In my car, I have extra leggings, shirts, and socks in a drawstring back pack. I also have extra pajamas and a blanket in case I need them. If something were to happen to the clothes I brought with me specifically for my trip, or I run out of clothing to wear, at least there’s extras to last for a couple of days.
8. Set Your Playlist Beforehand
If you are someone who can drive for hours on a road trip without listening to anything then more power to you! However, if you are someone who needs to listen to music or podcasts while driving, like myself, then set your playlist before you depart on your road trip. Whatever genre you’re into, whatever podcasts you listen to, make sure you have them set and ready for the road!
It makes the trip go by much faster when you have something to listen to or something that entertains you. The longer you drive, the more tired you may become, and having something interesting or upbeat to you will help combat that fatigue and focus on the road. But, if you need to stop and rest, by all means do so!
The most important thing is that you get your entertainment set up before driving off. The worst thing you can do is to start playing with your phone, or car’s screen, trying to find your playlist or podcast while driving. It is very distracting, unsafe, and puts you at a greater risk of getting into a car accident.
Before I go on my road trips, I look on Spotify and layout the podcasts I want to listen to so I know I’ll be entertained while driving and I won’t be distracted trying to find episodes.
9. Check In With Others
Before you leave, when you make a pit stop, or turn in for the night, make sure you are checking in with others and updating them on your progress. I know it sounds like I’m being a mother right now, but it is important to make sure you’re letting those closest to you know that you are safe and healthy. My best friend’s mom, and my mom too, would check in with us regularly during our road trip to South Carolina. They wanted to know which state we were in, where we pit stopped, how much further we were from our destination, and if we were safe and ok.
I know this is something we don’t want to think about, but I want to be completely honest with you. If something were to happen while you’re on your road trip, and I hope this never happens, at least someone in your family or friend network will know your last whereabouts or path towards your destination. Safety first! Even though I’m in my mid twenties, when I am going to visit my family in New York or traveling elsewhere, I always let my mom, boyfriend, and friends know my intended destination, length of stay, progress while traveling, when I leave and when I arrive.
10. Safety Precautions & Backup Plan
Taking the necessary safety precautions, and creating a backup plan or a Plan B, prior to your road trip will aid in making sure you’re safe. As mentioned before, no matter how prepared you are things will happen, it is better to have back up plans and safety precautions.
When I say safety precautions, I mean making sure you have your seatbelt on, mirrors in check, having safety flares, battery charger (I have this in my car), and any other tools needed for safety. On my phone and my Apple Watch I have the Noonlight app. The Noonlight app is an app where you can press and hold a digital button in situations you feel unsafe in. You press and hold the button and emergency help will be sent to your location. You can also set your safety network and contacts as well. I’ve never had to use this thankfully but I have it as a safety precaution.
When I say a back up plan, I am talking about outlining a plan of action for you to take in case something happens to you on the road and you’re unable to get help or continue with your trip. I’d recommend getting AAA as this have been a life saver for my family in the past and me with my car. The American Automobile Association (AAA) is basically a motor club which offers services for its members with travel, attractions, shopping, and automobile help. You can find their website here. If you get a flat tire, your batter or engine is dead, or anything else, you can call AAA or use their app to request assistance. A worker will then drive out to your location to help you. Depending on your situation, they can help you right there or tow your automobile to another location or car shop. You can even find hotels through them.
With or without AAA, it’s best to outline a plan. In your backup plan, include some emergency contacts, maps or another navigation system if your primary one is faulty, other lodging options, a way of getting back home if you’re unable to continue with your road trip, and backup ways of communication if your phone dies. You can tweak it to fit your needs and road trip itinerary, but these are just some things that could go into anyone’s backup plan.