car on u.s. map for a road trip

The Road Trip Checklist: 7 Things to Remember

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to. – J.R.R. Tolkien

What does freedom feel like to you? For recent graduates, spring breakers, or fortunate victims to wanderlust, this freedom likely manifests itself in the form of a full tank of gas and an open road. Whether you are heading home, to the airport, to the coast, or simply wherever the road takes you, the commencement of any road trip is full of possibilities.

Just like any type of freedom, it comes with a cost. There is a literal cost associated — road trips tend to dip into your wallet, if just for gas alone. You also face several hours in the car alone or, for better or for worse, with a full cab. You need to consider food, lodging, and not to mention you are racing several thousand pounds of machinery through the country which denotes some obvious hazards.

Prepping for your road trip, however, can be a joy. After all, remember, with the freedom of the open road there are innumerable possibilities. How will you equip yourself for such a journey? Here are some things we believe you should absolutely consider when getting ready to hit the road.


healthy snacks on a road trip

Snacks

A robust cache of road trip snacks is invaluable when driving cross-country. Your body is still burning calories just by sitting there, and more so if your playlist is good. Plus, what else is going to keep you awake when the hour is late and the scenery is bland? (Or if your playlist is bad.) You never really need an excuse for snacks, but a road trip is a good one.

Some tips: avoid too much sugar. It tastes delightful and makes you feel great while listening to “Life is a Highway” for the fourteenth time. But you’ll crash hard. Maybe in more ways than one. Caffeine may or may not sustain you; a good alternative is orange juice or green tea.  Try throwing in some healthy snacks like apples or something that will make you work, like sunflower seeds.

listening to a podcast on a road trip

Soundtrack

Depending on your destination, you’re facing a lot of hours just staring straight ahead. Thinking time is criminally underrated, but it is also good to fill the silence.

Assemble a killer road trip playlist with a good mix of your favorite tunes. Get creative and try to explore beyond the hooks of the afore-mentioned “Life is a Highway” or “Surfin’ USA.” Finding songs named after your destination or places you’re traveling through can be fun — then again, your music choice doesn’t have to evoke a place at all. Songs with deeper meanings and plenty of layers engage your mind — rotate these in with more danceable tracks.

You don’t have to limit yourself to music, either. Subscribe to different podcasts that interest you, or rent an audiobook online or from the library. However you can best engage your mind and senses is worth preparing beforehand. Above all, avoid distracting yourself from attentive driving.

hand out the window - road trip

Working vehicle

There’s something thrilling about going by the seat of your pants, just hopping in and handing the reigns over to fate and adventure. But you may find that if you’re too footloose, you could end up stranded on the side of a lonely stretch of highway — you don’t want that much adventure.

Swing by your favorite service center on your way out of town for a last-minute checkup. Get an oil change, top off your fluids, replace wipers, whatever you have to do to ensure a safe journey. Your vehicle will thank you and show you a heartwarming amount of loyalty throughout your road trip.

road trip buddies

Buddy

Some of the best memories you can create are shared memories of a road trip. Inside jokes, stories both intimate and exaggerated, and experiences at that one place with the guy will follow you forever. This is the principle upon which some of the best travel and buddy comedies build: Planes, Trains, and AutomobilesThelma & LouiseDumb and Dumber…in fact, has there been a good travel comedy recently? Shout at me.

Whether you take a friend, a family member, or a perfect stranger, this person or people will undoubtedly make your road trip memorable. That being said, Salt Lake Express generally advises against picking up hitchhikers.

idaho map for a road trip

Map

Yes, I know you usually get your instructions from Siri. And sure, if you’re heading home chances are you already know the way. This one is more of a fun invitation: buy a roadmap from the gas station while you’re filling up and let it be your guide. Not only does it enhance the adventure but it gives you a bigger picture of where you are. You’ll learn more about surrounding areas and maybe even be tempted to take a quick detour to see that thing over there. Plus, when dead zones may strip your phone of its authority, your map will cease to be a novelty and will save the day.

However, it is the digital age, and we recommend you also keep your phone charged and ready to save your bacon. Physical maps don’t update as quickly or often as Google Maps…you should be ready to let technology go to work when you need it.

first aid kit on a road trip

Emergency supplies

As they say, “[stuff] happens” and perhaps, despite all your precautionary measures, you end up stranded or worse (we certainly hope not). You don’t have to plan on it before you head out the door but absolutely plan for it. Again, this undercuts the spontaneity that can be so fun about road trips. But when it comes down to it, you’ll be very glad you thought ahead.

Keep some emergency cash on hand and pack a little extra food and water than you normally would for yourself. Also, and this is just a good rule of thumb, keep a full first aid kit and blankets in your car.

And don’t just pack safely for yourself — it’s good practice to carry extra automotive fluids, a spare tire/jack, and if you’re a super prepper maybe even a gallon of gasoline. The most important thing is that you feel secure when hitting the open road.

open road on a road trip

Games

What was your favorite road trip game to play as a kid? Pumping your arm to make semi drivers honk their horns? I Spy? M.A.S.H.? Mad Libs? Kids are amazing at coming up with fun ways to pass the time, and as an adult, you can too.

Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper if you are the driver and can’t get too distracted. You can entertain yourself (and your passengers) without the luxury of “games”, too; pretend you’re a guest on a talk show host and ask yourself questions or sing about things you pass on the road. It sounds a little crazy right now, but after enough time in the car (and perhaps enough caffeine) it can become very entertaining.


Assuming you have everything else packed, you’re all set to get going. Charge your phone and your camera battery, lock up behind you and let the road trip begin.

 

Guide on What To Pack for Spring Break

Are you heading somewhere warm and sunny for spring break? Or are you going to head up to the mountains and take advantage of the late winter? Either way, we have a spring break packing list for you!

Spring break is a much-needed vacation in the middle of your busy semester. Typically it’s full of fun and adventure with your college friends so that you can make memories and take a much-needed break from school! If you are still looking for somewhere to go check out our blog post about taking a trip from Cedar City to Vegas.

Spring break accessories

Accessories (No matter where you go)

Snacks – You shouldn’t go anywhere without some snacks packed. These would be great for while you travel and when you get there.

Camera – Spring break is all about making memories so be sure to have a way to document them. This could be your phone or if you have a camera, bring it!

Phone charger – I’ll admit that I have forgotten this more than once. Don’t forget to pack your phone charger because nothing is worse than having to borrow someone else’s the whole time.

Sunscreen – We know that you are going lay out and tan. Be smart and pack some sunscreen so you don’t burn. Even if you are going somewhere in the mountains you can burn easily. If there is snow it reflects the UV rays and you will burn. The higher altitude also makes it easier to burn so if you are going out be sure to put some on.

Passport – If you are lucky you will need this. Be sure to remember it and have it somewhere safe when you get there!

Cash – We know that you don’t carry cash anymore with Apple Pay and your cards but you should bring some cash. These make it easy to tip, pay for small items, and are especially helpful when traveling out of the country.

Book – Bring a good book to keep you entertained in those not-so-entertaining moments of the trip. It’s so nice when you’re at the beach or pool or sitting in a cabin.

Headphones – Even though spring break is all about hanging out with your friends be sure to pack some headphones so you can listen to music.

Spring break for warm weather

Warm Weather

Swimsuit – This is a MUST! Most likely if you are headed somewhere warm there will be pools, hot tubs and if you are lucky, the ocean.

Hat – Don’t let your head burn. Too many times this item of clothing is forgotten and trust me, you’ll want it. Bring a hat.

Sunglasses – Everyone needs a pair of sunglasses. Not only are these useful for the warm weather but you can use them as an accessory too.

Shorts – You’re gone for a week so be sure to bring at least 2-3 pairs of shorts. Try to mix it up a little so you have some for every outfit. I would suggest one pair of jean shorts, one pair of black or white shorts and another of your choice.

T-shirt – Bring some t-shirts! You can make these casual shirts look cute with shorts and if you like you could tie a knot on the bottom to add something extra to your t-shirt.

Pants – It’s a good idea to have AT LEAST one pair of pants in case it gets cold in the evening or you are going somewhere nice.

Dresses (for the ladies out there) – Spring break wouldn’t be complete without some cute dresses. Try finding one that’s versatile for both a day out and a night out on the town with your friends. Maxi dresses look especially cute if you are headed somewhere near the beach.

Nice shirt – Bring one or two nice shirts for events or dinner. I would recommend a short-sleeved button-up for the guys or polo and a blouse for the girls.

Sandals – Let’s face it, flip flops can be comfy but there’s something about sandals. Bring both! Don’t forget that spring break usually involves some sort of walking.

Toiletries – Of course bring all necessary toiletries! Try to go through your morning routine to make sure you remember everything. If you are heading somewhere sandy I would also recommend some baby powder. After sitting in the sand throw some baby powder on and rub the sand off. It takes it off super easily and makes it hurt less.

Work out clothes – Bring a pair of work out clothes so you can get your sweat on for a while. It could also be fun to take a class with your friends.

Spring break for cold weather

Cold Weather

Scarf – No matter who you are, a scarf is a good idea. Stay warm and enjoy your break!

Sweats – Bring your favorite pair of sweats.

Pants – You’re going to want a few pairs of pants! Try bringing one nice pair in case you go out or have an event. The other pants can be jeans and if you are going in the snow, bring snow pants.

Long-sleeved shirts – It’s cold so be sure to pack some warm clothes! I would recommend bringing clothes that you can layer if needed. For example, you could have a white long-sleeved shirt and layer with a flannel if needed. Thermals are also a great option to stay warm!

Slippers – If you are going to be around the cabin or hotel and it’s cold outside, it’s so nice to have some slippers.

Jacket – Bring a good jacket with you! Check the weather before you go. If there is snow be sure to bring a winter snow coat. Remember that the higher the altitude the colder it will be and feel. 70 degrees with clouds feels colder than 70 degrees with the sun out.

Games – Bring some card games or your other favorite games for the nights or days where you are just hanging out.

Beanie – This is so important! Having a comfy warm beanie will change the trip for you!

Sunglasses – If you are planning on going outside at all during your trip bring some sunglasses. They are especially helpful in the snow so your eyes don’t get burned.

Boots – Bring a good pair of boots. Not fashion boots, but real boots. Trekking in the snow is so much better with some winter snow boots.

Socks – If you are heading somewhere in the mountains that has snow or is just cold I would recommend some wool socks. If those aren’t your thing at least bring some tall socks or thick socks that will keep you warm.

Toiletries – Of course bring all your needed toiletries! Try to go through your morning routine to make sure you remember everything.

Have fun and enjoy your break from school!