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Saturday, May 16, 2020

Taking Your Next Great Road Trip

Non-essential travel is still kind of off the the table right now, but things are changing every single day, so this may or may not be the case come July. As things stand now, experts are suggesting Summer travel that encompasses only essential travel, domestic destinations, and probably doing so in your car. We're doing a decent job flattening the curve, and that doesn't mean we can just go back to normal, since that will create more problems. 

Places like New York are overwhelmed by the amount of Covid patients in their hospitals, with people dying every hour (a few weeks ago, the numbers were one death every 12 seconds, which is just to put things in perspective, because just pretending everything's good now is definitely not the way to go on this). Let's not destroy all the progress we have made by cramming onto planes right when we're getting everything, somewhat, under control.

If you have to get away from the house and want to visit family or just go get yourself a hotel room or vacation rental for a change of scenery, you're probably going to embark on a road trip in the next couple of months. Be it a day trip, weekend getaway to a local National Park, or somewhere off the beaten path, taking all the necessary precautions are still going to be strongly encouraged. You'll want to avoid crowded places, like popular beaches (sorry).

Because you can properly social distance by traveling in your own vehicle, this is going to be a popular method of going anywhere for foreseeable future. So, for those looking forward to getting away, I have some great road trip tips for you.

Don't drive straight through!

The golden rule of road trips is that you stop along the way and stop often. Driving for 4+ hours straight is B O R I N G. Even if you play games or sleep, people will get grumpy, your legs will get stiff and you won't be happy. Plan a route that has stops. While a lot of places won't be open, make sure to do a bit of research to see if there are any cool diners that are doing take-out or have outside seating or are close to a park/rest stop, or neat landmarks/attractions that you can view from outside.

Find everything from gas and rest areas to museums and food on your way by downloading the free app called iExit. Find out what's at every exit along the highway wherever you go.

If you're going with kids, I love having a road trip kit for each of them. These backseat organizers are perfect for littles, teens, and even adults. They have room to hold all their books, electronics, and drinks, but they also don't take up that much spaced, so there's still enough leg room for everyone back there.

Dress comfortably

It is so easy to dress comfortably and still look like a person nowadays with fabrics like jersey, bamboo and rayon. Just because you've been in the car for 10 hours, doesn't mean you have to look like a slob. Not only are these fabrics comfy, but they also resist wrinkles and breathe well, too. If you can't live without your trusty jeans, invest in some nice ones with stretch. I also like to shop PrAna, Columbia, Toad & Co or any activewear section of your favorite store for good looking pieces that are breathable and moisture-wicking.

Bring tunes from home

Don't rely on just the radio, otherwise you'll have times were the only thing you get are Christian and deep country music, if you can pick up anything. I swear there must be radio towers built into the mountains for these stations. If you're a fan of either, you are probably okay, but I still suggest loading up your phone with some good road tunes, podcasts or e-books. That way you have a variety of things to listen to and aren't forced to listen to Jesus Rock in between static if you don't want to. On my solo trip, I listened to Harry Potter as read by Stephen Fry in between bouts of music. Yer a [road trip] wizard!

Plan some entertainment

You'll probably bring electronics, but make sure you bring/plan offline things to do, too. Books, magazines, notebooks and crayons are always good to keep on-hand, as are travel-sized games and things like license plate bingo that everyone can play. Create a binder for your trip that has printable games. If you have small kids, check out this grab bag idea from Glue Sticks Blog. I also like this road trip binder

A paper map is a must

Yes, you have a smarty phone with fancy GPS, but batteries die and not all roads show up on satellites. (Just ask those kids from Cabin in the Woods - "This road isn't even worthy of global positioning.") You never know what might happen, so an old-fashioned map is great for those unforeseen circumstances. If you don’t buy one before you leave home, pick one up at a gas station, convenience store, or rest areas. You can also create a custom travel map on Google maps. I've done this for my last 3 trips, which really helps cut down on paperwork and also Google maps will let me know when I'm close to something on my list.

Bring foods!

Eating out frequently is really going to take a bite out of your budget and totally ruin your diet. It also might not be possible places, so instead of leaving it up to chance, bring a cooler stocked with homemade stuffs – like fried chicken, potato salad and muffins – along with fixings for sandwiches, sides, drinks and snacks to nibble on in between stops. I love to snack when I drive. My bags are always packed with bagels, cream cheese, lunch meat, condiments, chips, etc. I pack like I may not stop anywhere at all, because you never know. You can even bring along a travel coffee maker like this one if you need a good cup and want to save some money over Starbucks. 

Don't forget plates, bowls, cups, napkins, and utensils! I'm a big fan of these multi-use utensil sets and squishy bowls from Humangear. I also throw a selection of zip-top bags, as well as bigger plastic or paper bags for garbage and some wipes for hands and spills.

Have a plan

I know that one of the best parts of road trips is just going and seeing what happens. Well, with the current conditions, you never know what might happen and what may be open or closed. Make sure you have foods for everyone and you make reservations before leaving home, if you can, to ensure you have a place to sleep, or call ahead to make sure campgrounds or RV parks are open for you to stay there. 

Don't forget to get your car ready before you hit the road, so you don't end up stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, because that'll suck. Make sure you also practice road trip safety.

Pack light

Once you've made all the boring and necessary checks on your car, it's time to start packing. Even though I have plenty of room in the trunk (and backseat), I still try to pack light. I don't want to drag a ton of bags in and out of hotels everyday and it's nice to have spare room in your car for any purchases your may make along the way. On my way to Vegas, I kept it to one small carry-on for my clothing, the small cooler you see here and the insulated Trader Joe's bag for other food, goodies and dry items like paper towels. I definitely came back with more than I left with, so that extra space came in handy.

Toss a back-up carry-on bag in your trunk for rounding up purchases in one place, and a few reusable shopping bags for grocery shopping, dirty clothes and other miscellaneous things.

Need more ideas for your trip? Check out my Pinterest Road Trip board for tips that can help you make your trip better. See what the experts at Fodors are saying about 2020 summer travel.

Where are you hoping to travel this summer?

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