7 Must Haves For Your Next Big Road Trip

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Road trips can be a ton of fun—but they also can be a bit stressful. Traffic, detours, closures, sickness, and general kiddo meltdowns can force you to toss your best-laid plans out the window. In today’s age, these obstacles have become the norm instead of the unexpected. But never fear! It is possible to have a fabulous and memorable road trip, even when those disasters pop up. Read on to learn seven easy ways to make your next road trip a lot less stressful and a little more blissful!

A Travel Plan

In today’s world, you have to really plan your road trip. Finding a place to sleep when you get there is a thing of the past. Have your trip mapped out, and have lodging reserved in advance, especially if you plan on camping (or be ready to boondock). Also, if you plan on taking advantage of local tourist attractions, you may need to reserve those in advance as well. Many sights in high-traffic tourist areas like Washington D.C. require you to book well in advance of your arrival. So plan ahead to make sure you have a place to stay and that you get to do the activities you really want.

A Backup Plan

Planning ahead is fantastic, but even the best plans can fall apart quickly. You may book the perfect campsite at Lassen Volcanic National Park six months in advance, only to learn three days before you leave that it’s snowed in from a freak July snowstorm (or worse, that it’s closed due to wildfires). It’s tough to plan for situations like these, but having at least some idea of where else you may want to go is a good idea. You can use a push-pin travel map to plan your route and find alternate nearby destinations. Having some kind of backup will save you the stress of panicking when your original plans fall through. 

Amusement

Travel with kids can be the most rewarding experience of your lifetime…until it isn’t. But if you plan ahead, you can minimize the pain of long stretches with young kids, and possibly even find fun things for them to do that don’t involve them being buried in a phone or tablet! 

Travel games have come a long way. Toy manufacturers have finally gotten smart and figured out ways of having age-appropriate games that are designed specifically for car rides. When buying travel games, ensure they have few pieces and are easily contained. For example, Floaty Flight is an excellent game for young kids. No slippery little pieces to land all over the car—just a magnetic game board, 10 magnetic pieces, and two pens. 

And physical games aren’t the only way to keep the kids amused. Even adults like playing traditional travel games like A to Z (find every letter of the alphabet on objects outside your car) or the license plate game (find a license plate from every state… Hawaii is tough!). 

Finally, while the urge to power through long stretches is strong, it’s really better to stop and take regular breaks when traveling long distances. You can plan breaks around local areas of interest, or you can just stop in a pretty place once every few hours. The break will keep you more alert and attentive while you drive, and it will let everyone blow off some steam and be ready for another long stretch of highway. Plus, you may get to see some really wild things!

Food

This one may seem obvious, but keep reading. You know you’re going to want/need some snacks for your road trip. But if you take a little time, you can have pretty great meals that help in multiple ways. Say you’re going from Denver, Colorado to Park City, Utah. It’s an eight-hour trip through some pretty remote places, and the dining options are not the greatest. Yes, you could just stop at a fast food restaurant or pack a bunch of junk food and call it a day. Or, you could get a little creative and call it an adventure instead! Pack some dino-themed food and stop for lunch at the Dinosaur National Monument on the border between Colorado and Utah. You’ll save some money on lunch, have much healthier food options, get to see some really cool stuff, and burn off steam at the halfway point of your trip! 

A Good List Of Recommendations From Your Network

Adventures to new destinations are always great, but finding really fun places to eat and things to do in a new place can be daunting. Restaurants near tourist attractions are usually full of mediocre food and high prices, but it’s hard to find good off-the-beaten-path places. That’s where your friend network comes in. Before you go, ask on social media for recommendations on where to eat and what to see at places you’ll be stopping. It’s likely you know someone who’s either lived there or at least been there, and you can benefit from their insider tips!

The Right Luggage

When you’re on a road trip, you may not think the right luggage is as important as when you’re flying, but it really is. For example, if you’re traveling with kids, things are going to get both messy and gross. Finding ways to help keep kids stay clean and organized is a must. Try using an antimicrobial case for their tablet. Or, pick up a cosmetics travel case to help your toddlers keep their things organized (you can even make it into a travel kit!). And if you’re going to be tent camping, you may want to invest in a good bear-proof food box and rooftop cargo carrier to store all your gear. 

The Right Attitude

Road trips are as much about the journey as the destination—but the journey almost never goes as planned. Having the right mindset will help when things go wrong. When traveling, some of your greatest adventures may just pop up from unexpected obstacles. Learning to go with the flow will let you enjoy your road trip when it goes exactly according to plan, and when you have to get creative. 

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