Time to hit the road!
- Fill up with gas & ALWAYS check tire pressure the night before leaving: The last thing you need is to be scrambling around the day you leave (does anyone else's stress level shoot up as you're quickly packing the car and doing the final check of your house?) doing these basic chores. This has been drilled into me since I was a small child.
- Make sure to bring lots of fluid! Hydration is crucial for health and wellness, especially when it's hot and sunny. The last thing you need is a traffic jam or flat tire where you're stuck outside in the heat, and have nothing to drink. What would happen if, say, you got stuck in a traffic jam for 7-8 hours. Prepare for the worst, expect the best:)
- Pack lots of snacks! This applies for the same reason as above. If you get stuck for a number of hours (and let's be honest...who wouldn't be grumpy in this situation), you'll be incredibly happy that you packed those extra protein bars or bags of cereal.
- Bring Lunch: There's no reason you need to be stopping for a meal on the way. It's cheaper, and often healthier, to pack lunches (or dinners) and eat at a rest area.
- Stop the car for regular breaks. Our concentration tends to decrease over time, so take little breathers every few hours. I know it gets really frustrating to stop, but is it worth losing 5 minutes every few hours to be healthy? Run in place, do deep breathing, and stretch a little!
- NEVER TRY TO PUSH THROUGH TIREDNESS. No, I don't mean when you're just a little sleepy. If you are really struggling to stay awake, either switch drivers or pull over and rest for 15-20 minutes. It's not worth trying to push through and falling asleep. And coming from someone who has had someone near to them die by being hit by a driver who has fallen asleep, IT IS NOT WORTH THE RISK. Be kind to yourself and others by making smart decisions.
- Don't just rely on gps. I am really bad at following basic directions or a map, which leads to me being completely reliant on the gps. While I think that gps is really wonderful, it can lead to problems. For example, I was driving through downtown Chicago once, and my gps popped up with a message saying "Lost Satellite." Awesome. So I was stuck praying desperately that the satellite would pop up soon. Before leaving, handwrite or print off directions so that you don't get stuck without anything.
- Invest in AAA. I avoided it for awhile, but am SO THANKFUL that I finally jumped on the AAA bandwagon. Not only do they give you a nifty handout for any trip you're going on (with multiple routes, etc...), but they are a great safety net if something where to happen on the road. PLUS, you can get some great discounts. It's totally worth it!
- Add some fun with itunes playlists or books on tape. This is especially helpful on long car trips. Mix it up, and the hours will fly by!
- Wear comfortable clothing. Sure, I love looking cute when I travel, and I'm always a happy camper in heels. But the best way to travel is in comfortable clothing that can be layered (do you ever feel that no matter how high you turn the AC in the summer, if you're sitting in the sun you just can't cool down?). Loose clothing is easier to move in, and will provide the least amount of distraction and the best range of movement while driving.
Now it's your turn! Have you ever had a road trip that has fallen apart? What are your best travel tips?