Road trips always sound adventurous and exciting, but in reality, if you’re covering a lot ground in a short amount of time, they can get pretty tedious. Add in bad weather, the horrible songs your friend keeps playing, the mountain of trash and random souvenirs you pick up along the way (which inevitably ends up between your legs) and suddenly a road trip becomes a one-way trip to hell.
We've spent countless hours on the road traveling from place to place. We often vlog our time on the road so that others can learn from our mistakes and, hopefully, be entertained :) So we know a thing or two about road tripping!
Whether you're going for a short weekend road trip or planning the Ultimate USA Road Trip, these are the essential tips we've picked up that will make sure you have a fun and awesome drive!
1. Pack a few games
The easiest way to pass the time is to play games! I’m not talking about lame stuff like I-spy or rock, paper, scissors (unless you’re into that!) but ones that are actually fun. When we said goodbye and set off on our adventure, our friends got us some pretty awesome games that so far have provided hours of entertainment.
This game definitely proved to be the biggest crowd pleaser. But be warned, it can be pretty gross and induce quite a bit of laughter :)
We also got a pack of card games with minature playing cards and childhood goodies like old maid and go fish. They really helped to pass the time. But be advised though! The card games are definitely more for passengers. Drivers, keep your eyes on the road!
Phone apps / websites
Don’t want to lug around dice and cards? Not a problem! You can download apps like Family Car Games which has 100 games you can play using only your noggin. You can find tons of trivia questions and brain teasers on the web to keep you both sharp and entertained. These logic puzzles in particular had us stumped for many miles.
2. Podcasts and audiobooks
Never got around to obsessively listening to the Serial podcast? Well, your trip across the country is the perfect time to binge it! If you’re traveling alone or with a group that can actually agree on what to listen to, audiobooks are a great way to keep you focused and entertained. But seriously, even if you’re not going on a road trip, you should listen to Serial anyways!!
Road trips are also for sneaking in books you may not have been able to and/or were too embarrassed to make time for in your non-road trip life. Heck, if you’re going to be in the car for hours, might as well finally figure out what 50 Shades of Grey is all about, am I right ladies??
Unless you’re into mixtapes or burning CDs, Spotify is a must-have for trips. The premium version is only $9.99 which allows you to play whatever songs you want offline and COMMERCIAL FREE!!! So long pesky ads! It’s just you and your fave music. Aaaah sweet serenity.
Okay, so I’ve recommended a lot of things that likely require you to use your phone or laptop, so you might be thinking “sure that all sounds great, but what do you do when your electronics die miss smarty pants?” Well nowadays, if you don’t already have a future-car with outlets and usb ports, you can easily transport your car into the 21st century with adapters. We picked up this little beauty which has both an outlet and usb port that plugs directly into your lighter. It’s been a lifesaver!
This app was recently listed in USA Today’s article 10 Most Essential, Can’t Live Without Apps and for good reason! Unlike Google and Apple maps, Waze relies on other commuters to report problems like temporary road closures, large accidents, heavy traffic, cops parked on the side of the road and it will automatically reroute you if the traffic delays are severe.
In addition to all the helpful crowd-sourced into, it also has a fun gaming component. For example, you can chat with other nearby users (hello love connection?) and gain points by reporting problems and driving through fruit...that sounds weird, but get the app and it’ll all make sense.
Waze has saved us so much money (no more speeding tickets!) and time (trafic alerts FTW!) that it’s become one of the most important elements of our travel arsenal.
6. Limit the liquids (but drink plenty of water)
While sitting in your car for hours at a time might take a toll on your nerves, nothing sends me into a fury like stopping every 30 minutes because your car mates can’t figure out that starting your road trip with a gallon of coffee is a ridiculous idea. Now I’m not saying don’t drink any liquids or skip the caffeine, but you can avoid excessive stops by setting size limits on things like sodas and coffees or just sticking with water instead.
I mean let’s face it, no matter how much caffeine you have, you’re still going to be nodding off in the backseat an hour or two into the drive, so why not do your bladder and car mates a favor and get the 16oz instead of the 32oz!
Okay, so I know I literally just told you to limit the liquids, but seriously, you should always have water in the car! Odds are you’re not listening to my advice and still downing extra high levels of coffee and energy drinks, and not keeping up with your diet, but these can all be recipes for dehydration. Or worse you could get a flat tire, realize you forgot to replace the spare and be stranded for hours in the middle of nowhere until the tow-truck finally arrives.
Either way, do yourself a favor and keep some water handy to keep you feeling good and hydrated all day.
7. Bring snacks
Depending on how many people are in the car, you may not have much extra space for goodies. But when someone inevitably gets hangry and the next exit is 30 miles away, you’ll be so happy you bought that bunch of bananas, or better yet, carrots and hummus, yum!
And while we’re talking about snacks, we can’t stress enough how important it is to grab somewhat healthy treats. Don’t get me wrong, I love munching on chips and candy, but when you’re literally sitting for an entire day with minimal activity, eating fast food, and likely not keeping up with your fruit and veggie intake, your body will thank you for eating peanut butter and an apple instead of a big gulp and a milky way.
8. Stop strategically
Sitting in an uncomfortable seat in a cramped car and only stopping at rest stops really takes a toll on the body both mentally and physically. We’ve learned that a nice way to break up the drive is to find one or two really cool places along your route to stop and take a break. Whether it’s a cool restaurant, coffee shop, or the world’s largest pecan (yes, we stopped here), finding an interesting place to break during the day not only gives you something to look forward to but also gets you up and moving. By using a combination of Yelp and simply googling things like “interesting places along I-95”, we were able to find all kinds of neat restaurants, towns, and activities.
9. Dress comfy!
This is probably a given, but wearing restricting clothing is definitely not the best idea for long days in the car. We’re not saying wear your pjs and slippers the whole time, but maybe wear comfortable leggings instead of tights or a cotton t-shirt instead of a button down. Also, consider bringing a small blanket and pillow. Nothing’s more annoying than silently freezing for hours or waking up to a crick in your neck from sleeping against the window!
10. Stay fresh (all day)
Hygiene is probably not top of mind for most people when they think about car trips, but trust us, staying fresh makes all the difference. When possible, brush your teeth at rest stops, grab some disposable teeth and body wipes to use throughout the day and sprinkle a little dry shampoo in your hair. Even if you don’t mind being a disgusting mess at the end of the day, there are few things more offensive than 8-hour-old coffee breath and dried drool (excuse me while I barf)! Please at least make an effort stay clean for the rest of us!!
There you have it! Our best tips for making sure you have a great road trip and not a 10 hour suckfest.
Enjoyed the tips but not sure where to start with actually planning your trip? Check out this guide on how to plan an unforgettable road trip!
Want even more awesome apps?! Check out these Top 20 Free Travel Apps for Backpackers and travel easier!
Do you have any road trip tips of your own? How about horror stories of road trips gone wrong? We want to hear about it! Leave us a comment below or reach out to us on Twitter.
Until next time, happy road tripping!