Ah, vacation. The open road, clear skies, and great playlists are all elements of the ideal road trip captured in movies and TV shows. And while we’re not saying this couldn’t be your experience, it’s wise to think ahead. Nobody wants their road trip to turn into an installment of National Lampoon’s Vacation series!
Chances are, you haven’t been on a trip in quite a while due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That makes this an especially exciting time for you and your fellow travelers. You’re bound to make some great memories — especially if your pet is coming along, too. But before you back out of the driveway, consider these three tips for your next big road trip.
First things first: You want to make sure all travelers are as comfy in their seats as possible. After all, they’ll be sitting there for hours on end. Days ahead of your planned trip, do a quick test run. Get everyone in the car who is traveling with you — pets, too! Have everyone adjust their seats and make sure they have enough legroom. This will help you pack the car, as you’ll know where you can stow your stuff without compromising anyone’s comfort.
In addition to comfort, you want to make sure everyone is safe while on the road. Do a complete car safety check a week or two before you plan to leave. This gives you time to have any needed maintenance work done. The car’s battery, brakes, tires, and fluids should all be checked out by a mechanic. Knowing whether or not your road-tripping vehicle has accident tracking technology is beneficial in case of an accident in which you need to verify who was at fault.
Also, don’t forget about the safety of your furry friend. Pet safety is extremely important if Fido or Fluffy is invited as well. Keeping your pet secured in a crate will avoid any potential distractions while also keeping them protected on the road. And although it may make for a good photo, don’t let your pet hang its head out of the window while the car is moving. Dirt and debris from the road can easily get into their eyes, causing irritation.
Raise your hand if you’ve come home from a trip only to realize you didn’t wear 80% of the items in your suitcase. If you’re guilty as charged, then this tip is for you. Especially if you haven’t gone anywhere in some time, it can be beneficial to pack and then reevaluate what you’re bringing. This means you really can leave your packing to the last minute, so plan ahead accordingly!
First, layout everything that you think you want to bring, including clothes, shoes, and necessities like toiletries and medications. Then, really consider whether you need everything you laid out. You’re unlikely to need four pairs of shoes for a one-week trip to the beach. Once you’ve edited your choices, pack smartly by rolling clean clothes and placing them in your desired luggage. Use space-saving tools such as packing cubes to ensure everything has a spot in your bag.
Next, move on to other items like car snacks and beverages. It could be helpful to have one large tote filled with your favorite nonperishable food items. Choose a bag that can hold everything during your ride but also be useful once you arrive at your destination. And if your dog or cat is coming, then you’ll want to pack up their belongings ahead of time, too. As long as your pet’s needs are taken care of, they should be able to travel long distances with you.
One of the worst things that can happen during a road trip is an argument. After all, there isn’t anywhere the combatants can go to let off some steam! Whether you’re traveling with your family or your besties, it’s helpful to make sure everyone is on the same page before you leave. This means you all agree on your route and what day you plan to arrive at your final destination. It also means agreeing on a handful of preferences.
One thing you’ll want to discuss is what driving app to use. We all know that everyone has a preference, but using the same app can help ward off any potential discrepancies (or arguments). You’ll also want to discuss rest stops, including how many you want to take or how often. Of course, you can’t plan them down to the minute due to traffic and other variables, but you can come to a general consensus. Fido may also have a say in this!
Obviously, you want everyone to be happy during the trip, so entertainment is another factor to consider. If you are bringing kids, individual iPads may be necessary to avoid any fighting over viewing options. If you’re relying on music, ask everyone in the car to create their own playlist, then play each in turn. This can be a fun way to learn about each other’s tastes while also allowing everyone to share their faves.
Road trips offer a fantastic opportunity to spend time with your loved ones while also exploring something new. And in pandemic year 3, they’re also a great way to both get out of your comfort zone and stay in it. As the coronavirus continues to rage, they offer a safer — and less cancellation-prone — means of getting from point A to point B.
That said, it’s important to recognize that not everything about your road trip is going to go as planned. Traffic may snarl at the worst time, or a planned pit stop may be closed due to maintenance. Remember, though, as long as you are safe and together, that’s all that matters. Road tripping is about the journey, so embrace all the twists and turns along the way.