It doesn’t matter if you are off on a family vacation or just a quick overnighter, the better prepared you are, the more enjoyable your trip will be. Our experience comes from annual road trips and after completing a few of them, we have come up with a list of tips that will add even more fun to the next one. Here is that list:
1 – Set Some Sort Of Route
We like to travel in what is commonly known as ‘circle tours’ and that is the most effective way for us to get to where we are going and eventually end up at home. A circle tour essentially leaves your front door, goes to the destination you are planning on spending time, and winds up back at your front door. We like doing it this way so we can cover more territory in a one-way travel route.
2 – Stop At Roadside Attractions
One of the first rules we put in place when we started traveling was to stop at every single thing we would normally whiz past. While this sort of trip will add hours and sometimes days to a holiday, you get to learn more about where you have stopped and you also fit in several breaks to refresh yourself. Plus, roadside attractions are cool and interesting pieces of history.
3 – Plan To Take Your Time
Our road trips are never short. That is because we stop at all kinds of things along the way. We determined that instead of traveling non-stop to a single destination and spending most of our holiday there, that we would make the trip there the main part of the holiday. By doing this, your holiday will include activities, stops, and more along the way. It has helped us to better appreciate our surroundings.
4 – Carry Some Cash At All Times
If you stop in little towns and roadside cafes or gas stations as we do, you may find that your credit or debit card is not accepted. These are “mom and pop” operations that depend on tourist traffic but may not be completely set up for them when it comes to payment options. Plus, some small towns will not have a bank or an ATM so we always have some cash on hand. It has saved us more than once.
5 – Ask Locals For Information
One of the most valuable tips we have discovered from our vacations is to rely on local residents for information. That can be the guy at the gas station, someone in line at the grocery store, or just someone on the street. By asking these people questions we have found the best places to grab a coffee, dine, stay, and must-see attractions. Some towns have visitor centres with this info but not all do.
6 – Have A Reusable Water Bottle With You
In addition to carrying a cooler full of sandwich fixings, snacks, and drinks, it is always a good idea to pack along a reusable water bottle. The cooler of food comes in handy as we will just pull over on the side of the road or into a parking lot and take a lunch break. When we get to another town we restock so there is always food handy. The water bottle we prefer is the Kool8 which keeps beverages warm or cold for hours.
7 – Take Your Kindle With You
We have found over the years that although it isn’t hard to find a room for the night without having to call ahead and make reservations, it doesn’t always mean there is going to be reliable Cablevision. This is why we are sure to pack Kindles and eReaders to pass the time in a hotel room or on the road waiting for a ferry or road construction. Here is a list of thrilling books to fill the downtime.
8 – Take Your Smartphone
There is a reason why it is called a smartphone. Aside from giving you the ability to make an emergency call, if needed, you can also do some research. Whenever we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, we rely on Google Maps to get us safely on the route we need to be on to reach our next stop. We rarely use foldable road maps, but do carry a lot of tourist guides to find out about places we go.
9 – Be Flexible
Because we look at the road trip part of our holiday as being a big part of the whole idea of getting away somewhere, we try to keep it as relaxed as possible. So if we do encounter road construction or a road closure due to a vehicle accident, it doesn’t throw our plans into a tailspin. By not being in a hurry to get anywhere, we can deal with curveballs and monkey wrenches with ease.
10 – Support Small Business
One of the main things we do when we are on a holiday is to check out the local economy. We try to steer clear of the major chain stores and opt for the smaller, independent entrepreneur. By doing this, we have experienced some very incredible things. Small business operators appreciate your business in ways you will never know. Even if it is just for a coffee and a muffin, they will be glad you stopped in.
11 – Have Your Car Serviced
Although this may be an obvious tip, it still should be on this list. If you have your vehicle looked at by a mechanic at least a week before you take off on your trip, you will know that the vehicle is in good working order. No one wants to break down in the middle of nowhere and spend part of a day waiting for a tow truck. Avoid this from happening by getting your vehicle serviced.
There are many ways to have a great time while traveling. They don’t all revolve around the vehicle or your destination. There are so many things to see and do along the way that you may miss otherwise. Hopefully, the list above has inspired you to try traveling a different way the next time you plan a family vacation or a quick getaway.