Top 10 Road Trip Tips
Written by: Catalogs.com Editorial Staff
August 5, 2011
Filed Under Vacations
Contributed by Tim Brugger, Catalogs.com Top 10 Guru
Getting ready to hit the road this summer?
In addition to remembering the kids, it’s easy to let some of the little things, and not so little things, get in the way of road trip fun.
With that in mind, here are some friendly tips to make sure your trip is remembered for the fun you had, not the mishaps.
10. Cancel the Paper
Before hitting the road, save yourself a few dollars and limit the chances of undesirables being made aware of your absence by canceling the daily paper. Rather than have it stack up outside on the porch, inviting strangers to investigate why, making one quick call can help you avoid a nasty surprise upon your return.
9. Fluid Check
Similar to #10, this is one of the road trip tips that should be part of the pre-launch phase. Take the time and absorb the possible expense (though it should be minimal) to check your car’s fluids, oil and spark plugs. This can save you a heap of trouble and frustration down the line. If you’re not comfortable doing so and don’t know anyone who is, invest $100 or so for an oil change, top off of fluids and a good once-over. Road trips lose a lot of their appeal when you’re not able to actually stay on the road.
8. Roadside Assistance
Regardless of the precautions taken, cars can and do breakdown. Or maybe a tire blows or you had no idea it was 200 more miles to the nearest gas station and now you’re running on fumes. Joining AAA or some other reliable, nationwide roadside assistance service will put your mind at ease and get you off the side of the road quickly and safely. Your auto insurance likely has an option like this as well; for a few dollars more of course.
7. Have a General Plan
Part of what makes road trips fun is not knowing what you’ll see or who you’ll meet along the way. But having a general idea of the course, destination and time frames will help ensure you don’t cross the line from road trip to aimless meandering (though, there may be something to be said for that too). This should also include the contact information for a few national hotel chains in the area’s you intend on visiting. When it’s time to hit the hay, few things are worse than having to hop off and then back on the highway looking for a good night’s sleep.
Sure you’ll want to pull over and stretch the legs occasionally and check out the local scenery, but who wants to stop every time someone gets the munchies? One of the road trip tips everyone will appreciate is bringing along a few relatively healthy (but too much so, it is a vacation after all) snacks and treats. These will help bide the time and keep the stomach from growling between full-blown, greasy roadside diner meals.
Timing may not be everything, but it can be a road trip life saver if you want to avoid traffic tie ups. Since road trip tips are all about keeping the focus on fun, finding yourself trying to traverse L.A. freeways at 5pm on a weekday afternoon is sure to be a buzz kill of the highest order. You don’t have to be intimately familiar with local traffic patterns, simply give some consideration to when you’re traveling and where. I’ve never been to Key West for example, but I’m pretty sure I’d want to avoid driving that ridiculously long bridge on the Friday before a long, Holiday weekend.
If the kids are coming along, keeping them occupied with a few car-friendly games will help make everyone’s trip more enjoyable. These don’t have to include the entire range of video-oriented, mind melting games that are all the rage. A lot of game manufacturers make mini-versions of popular games for just such an occasion. We still use the teeny Connect Four game originally purchased for a long road trip a few years back.
3. Clean the Car
What? Yeah, we know the car will end up looking like a 16-year old’s bedroom by the time the trip is over. This may seem like a counter-intuitive road trip tip, but there is simply too much time spent in the car on these outings to let it slide. If you start with a dirty car, and don’t address the inside of your rig every couple of days (a simple rest stop garbage sweep will do), you won’t be able to see out the windshield to drive within a week.
2. Hit the Town(s)
While not over planning, take some time to plot out a few small, local communities along the way. And try to catch a few maybe you didn’t plan on. Dropping into a sleepy little cove almost always brings pleasant surprises. The pie at the local diner is the best EVER, and there are people that actually smile and say “how are you?” and are genuinely interested in your response. There are few things better than experiencing real Americana on a road trip.
1. It’s a Vacation
Remember why you’re on the road; to go old school, vacation style. We all know that other drivers can put is in the mood for performing slow, painful torture, but don’t let these folks into your head. Go ahead; let him cut in even though he wants to drive 5 miles below the speed limit. That person in front of you with their blinker on for the past 127.67 miles? So what, it’s their battery. Easily the most important of all road trip tips is to relax and enjoy.