So the end of March rounded off my sixth (maybe seventh, I don’t remember) cross-country roadtrip. There’s something about seeing the country’s landscape subtly (and not so subtly… looking at you, Wyoming) change as you traverse state-to-state. Plus, if you’re a “thinking about work 24/7” person like me, it’s fantastic for taking some time to unplug.
BUT it can get arduous, don’t get fooled by those “driving in a convertible, top down, music up, etc.” cliches. It can be like that sometimes but don’t expect it to be a dream the entire time. But here are my top tips that I’ve gathered over the past 17,868 (give or take) miles to make your drive easier.
1) Water. Pick up a gallon jug or two and refill it when you can. It’s mega dry in your car, especially if you’re driving in cold temps and running the heat. Dehydration makes you cranky and tired.
2) Eat as many greens as you can. It’s shockingly easy to literally go through an entire day (or two!) without eating a single veggie or fruit. So nosh on a salad at any given opportunity and snag some hummus & carrots at the grocery store.
3) Plan as you go (but map out a rough route first). I’ll do a post on this later, but it’s more
4) Have more than one driver. Trust me. Trip 4 was done in a stick-shift car (the one mentioned below, actually) and I don’t know how to drive manual. Sorry, Andrew.
5) Get your car inspected before you go. Nothing like nearly losing a tire on the Chicago freeway. Been there, it’s not fun. You’ll lose hours, potentially miss your hotel booking, blow your budget, and get reaaaaally familiar with the inside of a Les Schwab. Plus, the whole peace of mind thing pays off.
6) Pack light. If the trip is more than one leg (ie: you packed for a month-long stay, flew to your destination, and plan on driving back — pack only for that last leg). Lugging an overstuffed suitcase into your motel room gets old.
7) Don’t drink too much after you’ve arrived at your destination. There’s nothing worse than a hungover 6-hour car ride and those Blowfish thingies only work to a certain extent. And you’ve probably eaten far less than you think you have.
8) Don’t pack a ton of junk food snacks. You’ll feel sick in an hour (you know I’m right). And, actually, don’t pack too many snacks in general — touring random groceries & Walmarts around the country is part of the experience. Nothing gives you a glimpse into the local culture than seeing people going about their day-to-day in a Walmart Supercenter.
9) Take advantage of rest stops. There’s usually a bathroom, water fountain, and a greenspace to take a stroll (sometimes with pretty views). Bonus? If you play Pokemon Go, there’s usually at least three Pokemon around and sometimes a gym. SIDE NOTE: if you have a dog along for the ride that might be susceptible to Parvo (puppies or older dogs), find a different spot to walk ‘em because they’re generally one of the least hygienic and most-trafficked spots for pups.
10) Stock up on entertainment. Download a ton of podcasts (here are some of my faves). Take advantage of that new Netflix thing where you can save entire episodes of The Office for data-free viewing. (Note: do not let driver get too distracted. Obviously.) Pack your Kindle full of new reads. Just because you’re trapped in a car with someone for days at a time, doesn’t mean that you have to constantly converse with them. Don’t. Someone will snap.
(Bonus Tip) Be prepared for all weather. Did not expect to hit hail so bad that we had to pull over in Wyoming, but we did.
Any tips you’d add?
Obviously, this isn’t my last trip, so I’d love some advice from ya’ll as well! Fave podcasts to listen to on a roadtrip? Best snacks? Favorite state you’ve been to? Let me know!