The road trip is an American tradition. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going in the summer or the winter, there are a few things to remember before you hit the open road.
1. Maps: Most road trips involve a destination, so if you know you want to hit certain landmarks on your journey, it helps to have a map. You don’t have to stick to a direct route, but what you should do is have an idea of what you want to do and see before you begin your journey. That way, if you decide to see something a couple of inches away on the map, you can plan for it, rather than try to extend your budget at the lat minute to an extra night of lodging and 500 more miles of gas money.
2. Food: It helps to make sandwiches and snacks part of your daily meals. This cuts down on spending and unneeded calories, which can quickly build up when you’re sitting in a car for six hours a day. Don’t forget bottled water. You’ll need lots to drink on the road.
3. Camera: Take pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. You will remember your road trip forever, but in the imperfect snapshots of your memory. When you have physical reminders of your travels, it helps flush out your memories years later. A journal is also a great way to recount the trip.
4. Book: It helps to have a book or time occupier for those boring stretches of prairie and windswept highway. Make sure everyone in your car who is eligible has their license; chances are you’ll want a rest.
5. Car: Make sure your car has been serviced for oil, tires, fluids, and any other maintenance you may need. Remember, check the spare!
6. Pack lightly: You will want more space in your car rather than less. That said, bring a minimal amount of clothing. Do check the weather, though. You will need warmer clothing for cooler nights in high altitudes.
7. Backup Camera System: Especially if you’re riding in a large car, it can help to have a vehicle backup camera. This will allow you to fit more easily into tight spots in our great cities, and squeeze in between campers at national parks and sites.
8. First Aid: Not only should you have a kit just in case, but you should bring plenty of lip balm, sunscreen, and jumper cables in case your car battery dies.
Most of all, remember to be patient and laugh. Being cooped up in the car for a long time might make you stir crazy, so take breaks when you need to. You shouldn’t be on a tight schedule. Being on the road means you should be prepared to stop and take detours when they arise. Come to think of it, that goes for life off the road, too.