We’ve all seen the movie. A group of close friends piles into a car together for an iconic carpool across the country filled with sightseeing and memories that will last a lifetime. But unless you’ve done your homework, you might be looking down the turnpike at a Planes, Trains & Automobiles sequel.
If you’re thinking of planning your first road trip, or if you’re an experienced cross-country traveler, these tips will help elevate your experience and hopefully help prevent some unnecessary headaches.
Put together a travel playlist
Whether you’ve got the entire Harry Potter audio-book discography to listen to or a perfect playlist of your favorite songs, you’ll occasionally need something to fill the silence on long drives. If you don’t have time to plan your trip’s soundtrack, Spotify has curated playlists like Classic Road Trip Songs and Songs to Sing in the Car that will keep you entertained on your drive.
Keep cash on hand for tolls
Check ahead of time if the route you’re taking includes toll roads and plan accordingly if you want to avoid them. Google Maps has a feature that will tell you if the route you’re taking includes tolls and lets you select alternate routes. Depending on where you’re driving and what state lines you might be crossing over, it can start to cost a pretty penny. In states like New York, some toll stations don’t accept cards. Make sure you’ve got enough cash on hand to get where you need to go, or you might be taking an alternate route that will set you back a few hours.
Dealing with several different people who all want the temperature set differently can be frustrating. Layers are a major key anytime you’re traveling anywhere. When the AC starts to feel a little chilly, just throw on a sweatshirt. Bring a travel pillow and blankets. Wear slip-on shoes or sandals. Do what you can to get yourself comfortable and let your travel companions do the same.
Be prepared for “sticky and stinky”
There will be unexpected spills and messes. Bring hand sanitizer and napkins to clean up. Bring deodorant and air fresheners. If you’re planning to camp, bring a dry shampoo and wet-wipes to keep yourself clean. No one wants to travel with someone who can’t clean up after themselves, so do what you can to keep yourself and your space free of “sticky and stinky.”
Take the scenic route
The ultimate trip tip for any road warrior: take the scenic route. Plan your stops around landmarks and soak in the sights of the states that you’re driving through. If you’re going to be on the road, you might as well do it with someone you love and see the sights you’re driving through.
A road trip can be an interesting conversation starter or story you tell for the rest of your life. The right amount of preparation can make all the difference in how you remember your trip ten years from now. If you’re making memories, might as well make some good ones.