Crossing a bridge on Road 1 along the south coast of Iceland

Road Trips: Tips for Hitting the Open Road

We have always loved a good road trip–whether it’s cross country or a shorter hop across the pond, we venture off on road trips around the USA quite frequently.  Of course a road trip requires a car, so you have the choice of driving your own or hiring a car for rental if you don’t have one or want to save the mileage on your own car. For cheap car rental, you will want to search around for the best possible price. I always like to book a refundable option and keep checking for cheaper options up until our travel date, but if I find a non-refundable option that is a significantly lower rate, I will go ahead and book it.

Crossing a bridge on Road 1 along the south coast of Iceland

Most of our road trips have been in the United States, throughout the states of Florida and Minnesota (our two homes) or to places such as Chicago, Tennessee, Michigan, Wisconsin, and internationally in Northern Ireland and Iceland. This upcoming year, we are hoping to take many more road tips–at the top of our list are Canada, Colorado and the Southwest, but we aren’t sure which will happen yet as we are still trying to plan out how to best maximize my limited vacation time for the year. Now, onto our top 5 tips for a successful road trip:

1. Make a Soundtrack of Music

Good music is a must in order to pass the time and not go crazy from boredom. We always love creating special playlists for specific trips–it gives you a signature soundtrack for your journey and every time you listen to it after your trip, it will bring you right back to the great memories of your trip. Adding some comedy into the mix or starting up Pandora will both up the entertainment factor a bit as well.

2. Plan in Stops Along the Way

Don’t just plan on a start and end point–to split up the journey and make the entire trip enjoyable, plan fun stops every so often throughout the drive. This not only helps encourage stretch breaks, but it makes the entire journey exciting and not just the final destination itself. Plan a route that lends itself to fun activities and through towns that are of interest to stop in. One of my favorite places to find funny and unique stops is Atlas Obscura. Make a stop at that big ball of yarn and you will be laughing about it for years to come!

3. Pack Snacks and Possibly Meals

Packing snacks is a must for a successful road trip, and bonus points if they are of the healthy variety. If hunger strikes and you happen to be far from civilization or you don’t want to stop, you will be set with an arsenal of snacks at your disposal. This also helps when one person is hungry but your other car mates are not. Also, depending on your budget, you will want to squeeze a few meals into a cooler as well. Sandwiches or the like will save you cash and it can be fun to stop for a picnic at a scenic park or roadside stop along the way.

4. Bring Along Entertainment

Don’t expect to rely solely on conversation and music–everyone needs a little variety once in awhile. Pack books, magazines and your Kindle (don’t forget chargers!) for a reading break and quiet time or even a camera for some “drive-by shootings”. And, if you like games, don’t forget to break out a few along the way as well. Most games such as twenty questions, I spy or the alphabet game don’t even require additional space in your suitcase. For some more creative game options, check out lists like this, thisthis or even try creating one of your own!

5. Don’t have a Strict, Rigid Schedule

Waking up at dawn and driving late into the night is enough to get even the most patient person on edge. Plan in shorter driving days and lots of flexibility into your schedule. Map out a route, but don’t be afraid to create detours, take a little more time than planned or change your plans altogether. Sometimes the best memories are the ones that happen by chance! Also, if something doesn’t go quite as planned because, let’s face it, something will go wrong, try to laugh it off and roll with the punches. Building flexibility into your schedule will allow the little hiccups to remain just that.

Next time you decide to take a road trip–bring an open mind, patience and leave the bad attitude at home. Making a road trip enjoyable is not as difficult as it may seem and we hope your next one is as memorable as ever!