How to Road Trip

Road trips are a tradition in my family and across the nation. As I was slogging through the first 15 minutes of my 6 hour road trip this weekend, I thought about all the preparations that go into it, and the cleverest way to get ready.

1) Check your vehicle. Got a crappy vehicle? Consider renting something for the weekend, rather than risk getting stranded in the middle of nowhere. Weekend rentals are much cheaper than I would have thought, and can be a viable alternative. Taking your own vehicle? Make sure to check the following: get your oil changed if you’re anywhere close to the 3,000 mile mark, fill up the gas tank, and check out your tires. You need to make sure they have enough air, and look good, meaning have enough tread and no nails or bald spots.

2) Think about where you’re going. Will you possibly encounter snow, salt water, sand, hurricanes, deserts? What type of emergency stuff do you need in the car? A box of baking soda is always good, because you can use it for everything from putting out fires, to brushing your teeth, and even throw it on your engine if your battery explodes acid everywhere. In case of snow  bring kitty litter. You can put it under the tires to get traction if you get stuck. In case of sand, bring a small shovel to dig yourself out, and possibly a board or rocks for traction (or just don’t drive in loose soil. I’m looking at you, MOM). In case of salt water or deserts bring a gallon or 2 of water. Rinse the salt water off your car before it damages anything, and use it in case your engine overheats or to stave off dehydration.

3) Know where you’re going. Even if you have some kind of GPS, do not trust it! Mine took me through the back of beyond this weekend, adding an extra 30 minutes of butt-numbness to my trip. Have a map with you in case of emergencies (yes, a paper map), and check out your route on Mapquest or something before you go.

4) De-clutter. Get as much extra crap out of your car as possible. The more you’re hauling around the more gas you’ll use. Packing light also fits in this category. Keep in mind that there may be laundry facilities, if you’re going to stay with friends or family for example, so maybe you can live with only 2 pairs of pants, instead of 17.

5) Stock up. Make sure you have cash (just in case), your insurance info, snacks, drinks, your emergency supplies, and CDs or books on tape, or whatever entertainment you plan for yourself. Always bring more than you think you’ll need, in case one CD is busted, or one of the books on tape is boring. I usually keep a stack of napkins or paper towels in the car also. You never know when you’ll sneeze, spill coffee in your lap, or have nowhere to pee but a bush. I also keep hand sanitizer in my car for various events. I’ve used it for deodorant in an emergency.

6) Things I do to prepare: I make sure the washer fluid is full, and I have a mini-squeegee in the car. Nothing is sadder than driving with a dead butterfly flapping on the windshield for 800 miles. I go to the grocery store and buy a variety of snacks and drinks so I won’t be tempted to buy bad and expensive stuff at gas stations along the way. I keep a sweater in the car all the time, because I get cold easily. I have prepaid roadside assistance on my insurance (only $5 per month) so that I don’t have to worry if my car breaks down. I also make sure my cell is fully charged so I don’t have to walk to find a phone.

7) Organize. Set everything up in the car so that you know where it is. Put snacks and entertainment where you can easily reach them, and pillows and things far away where you don’t need them and they won’t get in your way.

I know there are some people that have never taken a road trip, and I think it is absolutely something everyone should do once. It is so much fun, and a great time to practice for your karaoke. Yay, bucket list!

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September 15, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , . Bucket List.

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