I love adventure and I love road trips. The thrill of the open road, wondering what adventures await, and new memories to be made. Whether I’m taking a solo road trip or along with others, road trips mean traveling, which makes me happy. I get to pack the car, prepare a music play list and head out of town.
Lots of things can make for a fun road trip. Often times, it’s the people in the car but then again, solo car trips can be fun too. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind when heading out to the road:
This should be obvious but make certain you have directions to your destination! While most cars or smart phones have GPS, I always confirm on Google maps on my laptop before heading out. I’ve had several instances where my phone’s map directed me differently than Google maps. Also make certain that the physical address of your destination isn’t different than the mailing address or what’s listed as a contact on the website (this has occurred a few times when I’ve traveled to lodging in northern Michigan).
Bring good music. There is nothing better than jamming to good road trip music – fun, energized songs you can sing along to (apologies to those who ride along with me).
Be flexible. I admit that I get excited to reach my destination so sometimes simply want to get in the car and drive. This happens more so when I’m driving alone. But I’m also up for exploring new places so am open to randomly stopping to check out something interesting. When my friend and I drove to Iowa last summer, we decided to stop for lunch at a Michigan beach town, enjoying lunch near the water and wandering a bit to take in the beautiful views and sunshine. It was worth the hour to stretch, relax and explore a new town.
Pack drinks and food. Morning departure times of course require coffee. I also always bring a water bottle,
easy to eat fruit (banana, apple) and granola bar in case I need a snack. If it’s going to be a longer trip and others are with me, I might bring a small cooler or more snacks. Sometimes we just don’t want to stop or depending where you’re headed, there may not be rest stops or many options.
Games. Have you ever played the alphabet game in the car? If not, it’s pretty easy – you look for letters of the alphabet along the road. You can also look for various state license plates or whatever other clever games you create to make the drive fun. My friends and I have created some silly games to help pass the time.
Catch up with friends. I’ve shared some wonderful conversations with friends as we drove miles in the car, from silly and mundane to emotional and open-hearted. It’s a great time to talk without interruptions. If you’re traveling alone, long hours in the car can slip by faster when chatting on the phone. Of course, if you’re driving, be safe while talking on the phone. Use hands free devices whenever possible. And please don’t even think of texting while driving. Seriously, so dangerous.
Enjoy “me” time if you’re solo traveling. I’m a firm believer that we all need downtime by ourselves to reflect on life and appreciate you. Everyone is on the go all the time in our society. I love ‘me’ time on the road to be able to reflect on what’s happening in my life now, where I want to be in a few months and what I need to do to get there. Ok, not all ‘me’ time needs to be so deep but at least learn to enjoy time alone. I feel my stress and life pressure slowly blow off me as I drove along the highway, windows down, hair blowing, sun shining.
While Michigan has invested in upgrading their rest areas, I’m a little weird about stopping alone. The further north you drive, the less people at the stops. So I try to time my breaks near well-populated and busy exits. It’s been 10 years since I’ve eaten at McDonald’s, but there are free bathrooms.
Enjoy your trip. Not every trip will go smoothly. You might take a wrong turn. You might get stuck behind a slow-moving truck (or a stinky garbage truck). You might arrive to your destination later than planned. Take a deep breath and chalk it up to one for the memory book. Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride.
Do you have any favorite preparations for a road trip?