Road trip tips

Thanks to Tynan’s continuing feature on the nomadic life, Gadling’s been receiving an influx of requests on tips for big road trips. Those of us who are not quite as daring as Tynan might want to start with a cross-country trip, for example. There’s much to consider before you embark on such a journey, so it’s important to keep these things in mind:

  • The company: Road trips are not for the faint hearted. If you’ve ever seen “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” or “No Country for Old Men” you’ll know what I mean. If your road trip is longer than a week, choose your company wisely. S/he better like the same music as you, you better have something worth talking about for hours on end. Ultimately, you should determine beforehand whether you can tolerate this person’s antics or not.

  • The car: You’ll definitely want to get your car pimped out thoroughly before the journey. On my most recent 3-week trip from Florida to California, my boyfriend bought an old Chevy van that we called “Vanzilla.” He didn’t tell me at the time, but it cost him only $500. We pushed “Vanzilla” a bit too hard one evening and slept through a freezing cold evening in shopping mall parking lot in Flagstaff, Arizona. The next morning, the radiator blew. Little disasters and problem-solving is part of the package when it comes to road trips, so be prepared!
  • Stuff in the trunk: Little thought has to be put into what to bring. As long as you don’t bring your most valuable stuff, the rest is fair game. Stuff it in the trunk and hit the road! Whatever you forget to bring, you can buy at Walmart or a roadside gas station.
  • The route: If possible, you should have a rough outline of the route you’re taking and the stops you plan on making. GoogleMaps has a great feature where you can drop pins and calculate driving time and distances (click on the “My Maps” tab and then “Create new map”). Most likely you’ll be visiting friends along the way, so make it a point to tell them you’re coming, so they know roughly when to expect you.
  • It’s not all fun and games: The purpose of a road trip is not to drink and drive — at least I hope you’re not endangering other people by thinking the road is such a playground. You don’t want to do anything stupid. My friends got caught somewhere in South Dakota with weed in their car and ended up in the slammer. You can imagine their parents reaction when they got the “Please Save Me” call. Have a great time, but be responsible.
  • R & R: Rest and relaxation is definitely possible when you’re on the road. Take some detours. If you see a strange sign and it makes you curious, follow it. You can also stay clean on the road by utilizing the trucker stops, which have fully functioning hot-water showers. Some are quite clean! If you’re really road trippin’ you must try it. As for the famed roadside motels, you might try one or two, but you might end up preferring the comfort of your reclined seat in the car. You can always pack a tent, too, and just camp it in a rest area if you’re desperate.
  • The memories: My Florida-California Vanzilla trip was designed to be a woman’s version of “Travels with Charley,” as I brought my pug Iris with me. Keep a blog (you can read about our journey HERE), take tons of photos (the photos from this article are also from this trip), and make great memories!

Enjoy your road trip — and let me know if there are any other tips I’ve missed!