The idea of traveling is exciting! The overall adventure is awesome! It’s the journey that can often feels long, exhausting or even stressful.
Whether you’re in a cramped car with not much leg room, or stuck in the vehicle with no opportunity to stop for snacks or a bathroom break, there’s a whole ream of reasons why road trips can be tiring and uncomfortable. That’s why 57 percent of travelers hit the road feeling “stressed” about where they are going to stop along the way.
I’ve been on more road trips and traveled more miles than I can count, so I’ve tried virtually every trick under the sun in an effort to make the journeys a little more manageable. Some, while effective, are boring and uninspiring (I’m looking at you, Mr. bottled water), while others work well every time. Here’s a quick run-down of my favorite road trip hacks to make every road trip comfortable and–dare I say…enjoyable.
ROAD TRIP HACKS TOPIC #1 – PACK WISELY
Nothing is worse than stopping halfway into a road trip and realizing that your sunglasses are in the bag in the deepest, darkest corner of your trunk, packed beneath a tower of other bags, bedding, food and travel accessories.
Before you leave, take some care to pack your car wisely. First, pack anything that isn’t essential or that you’re unlikely to need on the journey. Leave the essentials like first-aid kit and the snacks at the top of your bags and near the doors where they’re easily accessible in times of need. And of course, make sure those sunglasses are in the glove box or other nearby area to the driver’s seat.
ROAD TRIP HACKS TOPIC #2 – PREPARE YOUR CAR
You should always give your car an all-round check before any journey, but even more so before a long road trip. Check that your fuel tank is full, your tires are pumped, test your brakes and check the oil and other fluids. Don’t forget to check the spare tire for proper inflation, this often goes overlooked. Lastly, don’t forget some wet wipes, you’ll thank me later for this last suggestion.
ROAD TRIP HACKS TOPIC #3 – GET COMFORTABLE
If you’re not the driver, you can afford to use your time on long road trips to sit back, relax and catch up on some sleep. However, getting comfortable is easier said than done. You may have tried travel blankets or those soft U-shaped pillows which are designed to support your neck, but my long search for the ultimate travel pillow led me to cooling pillow. These use a combination of cooling gel and airflow to keep you cool and comfortable for hours at a time. Now, the days of getting hot and sticky in a stuffy vehicle are a thing of the past.
ROAD TRIP HACKS TOPIC #4 – PREPARE AND EMERGENCY KIT
Keep a kit somewhere in the main cabin of your car to help you out in a variety of emergencies. This should be more than just a first aid kit: this is an emergency kit for all aspects of life. You can include everything from painkillers and a bottle of water to a portable phone charger and a flashlight. Don’t forget to include a card with some important phone numbers (including your insurance) and some spare cash to save your skin if you run out of gas. Also consider; some basic tool (screwdrivers, adjustable wrench, pliers, etc), duct tape, flairs, fire starter, jumper cables, straps and maybe some rope.
ROAD TRIP HACKS TOPIC #5 – SAVE DATA
You’d be surprised at how much data can be used up on a long road trip, especially if you use GPS and stream music while you drive. If you can, plan ahead by downloading music to keep you entertained, take screenshots of any important information, familiarize yourself with the route, and even consider taking along a traditional map to help you find your way. One trick while using your GPS is to get the route loaded, but then close the navigation when you have a long stretch to drive. In other words, don’t leave Google Maps running for hours on end if you don’t need it. You can also wait until you stop and use a local WiFi hot spot, many rest stops, stores and hotels now have it available. Not only will this save you from high data fees, but it will also reduce your battery usage. Note: Roaming and 3G (or less) takes a stronger signal strength, so your battery usage will go up. 4G/LTE uses the least amount of battery.
ROAD TRIP HACKS TOPIC #6 – EAT SMART
Long road trips can mean regular eating out, and whether you’re traveling alone or in a group the cost of this adds up very quickly. Being a smart road tripper is all about finding good deals – including on your food. Loads of towns have community kitchen concepts, where you either pay what you can afford or do some cleaning up afterward. You’ll get good meals while keeping costs down, and you’re guaranteed to share a unique experience with some inspirational locals.
ROAD TRIP HACKS TOPIC #7 – SAVE ON LODGING
Traveling on a budget isn’t easy, but did you know that there’s a legitimate way for you to sleep for free? As long as you make them aware of what you’re doing, you can park and sleep in any Walmart parking lot. Sure, sleeping in your car isn’t as comfortable as a luxurious bed, but it’s safe, it’s well-lit, it’s FREE, and it’s legal! Airbnb is also another great option for inexpensive lodging. If you’re dubious about using the app, don’t be. Millions of people are using this service around the world. Be sure the check out the ratings and all the details for the lodging type to make sure it suites your needs.
ROAD TRIP HACKS TOPIC #8 – TAKE REGULAR BREAKS
This is one of my more sensible road trip hacks, but it can be fun as well as serving a purpose. It’s recommended that you stop for at least fifteen minutes for every two hours of driving, but you should include some longer stops if you’re feeling tired. However, you can turn a normal break into an awesome feature of your road trip by using it as an opportunity to explore the area. See the sights; visit a local restaurant; go for a walk; whatever you choose to do, get out of the car, stretch your legs and have an adventure.
ROAD TRIP HACKS TOPIC #9 – ASK THE LOCALS
In any journey, the best way to find your way around is by talking to the locals or see if your trip is on my featured road trips list. The locals will know where to find the cheapest gas, the places that make the best food, and all-round the best ways to see the area. Take their advice, because in my experience you’re likely to find some hidden gems this way. The businesses and establishments which are geared up for the locals rely on repeat custom to secure their reputation and to survive, so you can be pretty sure that you’ll find great quality and an unforgettable experience!
I hope you have found these road trip hacks helpful. If you have any questions or some useful road trip tips yourself, please leave a comment below.
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