Travel Tips: Part 3

Road trips by car don’t have to be a nightmare if you take the time to properly prepare. A few simple Do’s and Don’ts will make almost any trip enjoyable. Some road trips are taken just for the sheer excitement or to see the sights, but most road trips are taken to save money. Before you begin, you may want to consider MapQuest as a source for online directions. While not always perfect in their directions, they do give step by step sources through each city. Some take road trips because they don’t like to fly. Whatever your reason is, here are a few simple tips to make your trip a real success:

Do stop often. It’s a myth that driving “straight through” gets you there in a quarter of the time. Yes, you may get to your destination a few hours, or even a day sooner, but the driver is such a raving maniac by that point no one wants to spend time with him (or her). Try to decide before the trip how often you will stop so that this is not a source of argument. Stopping every five exits is not practical, but stopping every two hours might be. You don’t have to stop for long; but, park as far from the door of the place as you can so you can get some circulation moving around.

Do have a trash box. Inevitably, there’s going to be trash on a trip. A bag just doesn’t cut it. Bags rip, tip over, get stepped on and dragged out the door. Instead, get a small, sturdy box, line it with a plastic bag and put it behind one of the seats. Just toss the trash in the back and it’s done. No more granola wrappers for days in the car or sticky soda bottles on the floor. It’s a good idea too, to put an air freshener at the bottom of the box even if it’s just a short trip.

Do rotate seats. Guys are notorious for wanting to “man the wheel” the whole trip. If that’s the case with your trip, suggest a driving schedule where the other partner drives for maybe an hour. Rotating seats is an especially important tactic if you are driving with kids. As corny as it sounds – set up a seating schedule. If an adult sits in the back while one of the kids sits up front there’s much less room for arguments to brew, and hey – you might have fun.

Don’t over-pack. The ladies are notorious for this one. Try to keep it to a minimum which leaves more room overall in the car for space to move around. Being crammed in to the back seat of a car for 12 hours just so one can take that “extra suitcase” full of shoes is no fun. There’s sure to be a washing machine where you’re going. And if it’s not okay to wear the same (clean) outfit more than once, then you’re not the type for a road trip to begin with. By all means, pack an inflatable beach ball. If there are kids in the car, let them out to kick the ball around while one of the adults goes in for coffee.

Don’t skip the sights. If you are passing by the largest “ball of twine” in America – stop. You may never see it again, and furthermore, it’s a conversation piece for years to come. You can do an internet search on what may be of interest to all involved before the trip and simply decide which sights to stop for and which sights not to. If there is a discrepancy, there’s always the option to draw straws.

Don’t set the alarm. Time off should be time away from a tight schedule. If you want to wake up early to get a good start, then go to bed early the night before. Setting the alarm only adds to the tension of “having” to get ready. Plan an extra 6 hours in to the trip for such luxury. One exception might be if you end your day close to a metropolitan city and want to miss the next morning’s rush hour traffic. But why not just sleep in and leave after the rush hour traffic?

Many of these tips do add time to your trip, but only a few hours, really. Taking the time to stop often, have fun, and sleep in makes the trip more enjoyable for everyone involved. Stop driving at suppertime and hop in the pool or the nice, relaxing hot tub. Many hotels have gyms or some sort of fitness facility if that’s your thing. Stay that extra 15 minutes at a restaurant and have dessert or walk around a mall for a half an hour. Whatever the reason for your road trip, you have the tools to make it the best one of your life! Have fun!

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