Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a week-long wanderer, chances are you’ll be spending some time in the car this summer. If you’re a solo traveler, able to take pit-stops and sightseeing breaks whenever you please, you can probably stop reading here. If not, you might want to put some thought into keeping your traveling companions happy while you’re all cozied up for six-hour stretches in 100 cubic feet of (hopefully) climate-controlled space.
First, the kids. Back in my day, my sisters and I occupied ourselves with 100 Bottles of…er…Pop on the Wall, the License Plate Game and if we were lucky, Mad Libs. We were bored and fought like crazy all the way from New Jersey to North Carolina. Nowadays, there are all kinds of ways kids can keep entertained, but variety is really what will save you from the dreaded “Are we there yet?” For sure, load up on the electronic options. Videos and audio books are great, so is allowing everyone to make a personal music playlist – and take 5-song rotations to ensure fairness. But also be prepared with sing-alongs, scavenger hunts, and prompted conversations (“Would you rather be able to fly or be invisible?”). Also, consider making a pre-travel trip to the dollar store to put together a grab-bag of new stuff that gets strategically doled out during the ride.
Traveling with kids or not, probably the most essential thing to be prepared with is snacks. Remember, salty snacks lead to thirst lead to drinking lead to rest areas. Think grapes over pretzels, trail mix over cold cuts. That said, it’s still important to stay hydrated. Travel cups and tumblers allow you to hit the road with a beverage at the ready. Your Keurig® brewer makes it easy to please everyone: coffee for the pilot, iced tea for the navigator, lemonade or fruit brews for the back-seat drivers. Sometimes though, nothing beats a stop to refuel both your vehicle and passengers, and a little leg-stretching can be a sanity-saver. There are some good apps out there that let you know what amenities are available at upcoming exits.
Finally, keep in mind that the greatest challenge of a road trip is also one of its gifts: extended time together. In today’s reality of jam-packed schedules and the often-antisocial world of social media, an extended car-ride is a chance to reconnect and simply enjoy each other’s company. And looking back years from now, it’s quite possible that the most memorable part of your trip will be the journey.
We’re sure there are tons of great road trip tips out there. What are some of yours?