BY: SAMANTHA TAPP
Little Miss Sunshine is arguably one of the best road trip movies ever made. It’s funny, entertaining and relatable if you too have a crazy family. As much as you love watching the movie, I’m sure when you go on your own road trip you don’t want to face issues like having your horn break constantly blaring or having dead grandpa wrapped in a sheet in the trunk of the car. Well, you don’t have to.
There’s no way to predict every bump in the road you’ll face, but there are ways to be prepared and make yourself basically a professional road tripper. Living life on the road can be a life-changing experience, one that expands your mind and gives you a new perspective. But, make sure you do it right, so that you can focus on the views passing you by, instead of trying to figure out how to fix your broken down car.
These are the 5 best tips to make you a professional road tripper:
Pack your car like a pro
There’s nothing worse than being in a stuffy car for hours; it feels messy, suffocating and it’s just unenjoyable. So the first step to becoming a pro road tripper is to pack lightly. We’ve all heard this multiple times and we’ve probably all ignored it multiple times. However, for the sake of everyone in the car, pack lightly! To save space while you’re packing, use a duffel bag instead of luggage; it’s more flexible and takes up less room. Pro tip: roll your clothes instead of folding them, it actually works.
When you’re packing your car, use every space strategically. One of the best ways to utilize car space is to invest in an overhead carrier. Make sure to put everything up top that you won’t need while on the road. Knowing all the features of your car is the best way to figure out how to properly pack it like a pro. Is there room underneath the seats to put small bags? Do your seats go down? Are there extra compartments under the floor in the trunk? Check it out. Everyone wants to travel with leg room in a clean car, so the quicker you become a pro packer, the more comfortable your road trip will be.
Make a bed in the back
If you’re travelling in an RV then you have this step covered. If you are road tripping in a regular car, why not still save some money and make a bed in your car? Your biggest expense will be hotels or motels every night if you don’t have a bed and the costs will rack up quickly. There’s so many different experiences while you’re on the road to spend money on that it’s totally worth it to create a little home out of your car and save the cash. This can be done in several ways and it’ll take you from road trip beginner to expert.
The first way is the easiest. Kick it old school and recline your front seats. Add in some blankets and pillows and call it a night. Maybe not the comfiest, but definitely the easiest and the most convenient in terms of space. The second one takes up a bit more space, but is a bit more comfier: put a small blow up mattress on your back seats or in your trunk. Blow it up every night and deflate it every morning, throw some blankets and pillows on and you have a makeshift bed. The third takes up the most space, but if you’re planning on a long-term road trip it’s probably your best option: build your own bed platform. This will take lots of planning and some DIY building skills, but it is the comfiest option. You’ll be lacking any back seat space, but you’ll be well rested and your back will thank you later.
Plan, plan and keep planning
Being the ultimate road tripper isn’t possible without being a pro planner. It’s not even enough to plan your route and where you’ll sleep every night, there’s so much more to it. Of course you don’t want to plan every single detail down to the hour because things will change; some spots you’ll love more than others and sometimes you’ll be so tired or so energetic that you’ll decide you have to stop for the night or you can drive another few hours.
If you need some help planning your exact route and the stops you’ll make consider downloading some travel apps. ‘Roadtrippers’ or ‘OnTheWay’ can help you plan your route along with restaurant, bathroom and tourist attraction stops. Pro tip: plan your route and the main attractions you want to see, but keep it loose; the best part of road tripping is the unexpected.
Make a budget and keep it
Road tripping is generally cheaper than flying, but you need to set a budget because it can get expensive. If you need help there are travel calculator apps, but you can do it yourself if you make sure you’re calculating all of your costs. Factor in gas, lodgings, food, coffee (yes, this is its own category), tourist attractions, costs on the road like road tolls and any shopping you plan on doing.
While you’re budgeting try and find key ways to save on costs. Hotels will rack up quickly, so think about sleeping in the car or checking for cheap hostels or camping spots along your route. Download a gas app to find the cheapest gas on the road. One of the best ways to save money and become a pro road tripper? Food. Buy a cheap cooler and keep cooled food and drinks for easy access. A run to the grocery store will be cheaper than restaurants and it will also be healthier.
Road trips are exhilarating and can be life-changing, but the entire route won’t exactly be exciting. So like any pro road tripper knows, you have to stay entertained. Without any source of entertaining stimulation you can become bored, which leads to tiredness, which leads to someone who shouldn’t be driving.
Bring music: mix tapes, CDs, iPods, Spotify playlists. This is the easiest way to stay entertained and you’ll probably have some form of music acting as your background for the entirety of your trip. To stay a little more engaged and aware try out book tapes or podcasts. Choose a few books you’ve been wanting to read or some podcasts you’ve been meaning to listen to and save them for the road. And of course, road trip games. There’s tons of games you can play on the road and to become a pro road tripper you have to at least play one per road trip.