Road trip tips

by Patty Templeton

So you think you can just hop in your car and get the hell outta town? Hold on, Speedracer. Get your head in the game. Here’s a few survival tips on how to make that road trip go smoother:

Stock up on soundsIf music is your game, have playlists made to suit your night, day, or regional driving needs. Example, listening to the Handsome Family during desert driving or listening to Link Wray surf rock while driving lakeside.

Maybe you’re a podcast person? Fine! Get your “Freakonomics” or “Children of Tendu” or “Welcome to Night Vale” on. Whatever you do, don’t forget the charging cord to your phone, iPod, or whatever. In fact, have an extra car charger.

A party of one? Go on a road trip by yourself, if you wanna. Zone out to others and into yourself. But, if you want a travel pal – make sure they don’t suck. Seriously, think about how long you can stand being around them. If it’s 30 minutes for coffee, they aren’t your driving buddy.

Car rulesIf you hit the road with a friend, establish car rules before you leave. Who is driving? Is driving time split? Who pays what for gas? Who can touch the radio? Who picks the music, audiobook, podcasts, or silence? What is max time stretch they are willing to drive? Is there an immediately-throw-garbage-away rule? What about the shoe policy – are shoes off allowed? What about feet on the dashboard? Make rules so you don’t hate each other an hour in.

Plan … kind ofHave a plan of where you want to go and maybe a stop or two on the way, but be open to not slamming pedal to medal to get there. Keep your eye out for cool billboards and attractions on the way. When you reach your destination, don’t forget to ask locals what tourists don’t see but should.

Finding locals Find a dive bar. Boom. Suggestions up the wazoo. If that doesn’t hit your fancy, stop by a diner and ask your waitress or the folks at a table nearby. Then, be open to actually liking these people. Maybe the cool gas station guy will treat your polite, interested ass to the secret pie shack only townies know about.

Don’t rely on your phoneAre all your directions on your phone? That’s nice, but it can also get you stranded in mountains or prairies that don’t have cell reception. Did you screenshot your directions so you think cell service doesn’t matter? Oops, you might have lost your phone cord getting out at the last gas station six hours ago and now your phone is dead in the middle of nowhere. Print out actual maps or buy a map, just in case.

Cash is kingYou got mugged at some hole of a rest stop in the middle of SuckTown on your way to FunTown. Yeah, it blows, but if you stash an emergency fund hidden in your car, you’re at least not SOL. On a less extreme note, cash money is good to have on hand for the toll roads that pop up every dang where.

Spare car keyThere are people who fall on both sides of the fence here. Do you give an extra car key to a friend back home who can mail it to your destination when you lose yours or do you carry the extra car key yourself? Depends on how accident-prone you are.

Check your docs, dudeEveryone thinks they have their insurance card – until they get pulled over for going 3 mph over the speed limit and realize they don’t. Then they aren’t in a wi-fi area to pull the ID cards up on their phone. Make sure your insurance and registration are in the car and not expired.

Bonus: Don’t do a road trip with an expired license. Not only can you get ticketed, you might not be able to get into certain bars or venues without proper ID.

M-effin’ SNACKS!Stockpile snacks before the trip, but be open to finding gas station delights along the way. Bottled water, hard cheese, cut veggies, chips – oh so many glorious chips – whatever your non-perishable preference. Load it up and refuse guilt, this is vacay.

Rental carsDon’t have a car and you’re renting one? Always get the rental insurance. Seriously, it’ll mean a few less margaritas, but you want the insurance. It may sound stupid, but when you wreck the rental because a semi accidentally runs you off the road, that insurance will be a peach.

Patty TempletonDGO Staff Writer

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