About once a month or so, my husband gives a talk out of town on the weekend. Even if he has to work for part of it, these trips give us time together to catch up, to explore new places, and to meet new friends.
If not planned appropriately, however, they can be more expense and hassle than they need to be. Over time, we have learned a few ways to make life easier on the road.
Read on to save yourself both money and stress.
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Before You Go
Make sure your car is in good working order. Have it checked out by your mechanic, or at the least, check the oil in the engine and the air in the tires.
Also, make sure you have any medical emergency information on you in case of an accident. In a far away place amongst strangers is not the time to hope someone knows what you need or your health care wishes.
An Emergency Kit
God forbid you should need it, but if you don’t already have one, make sure you can deal with at least the most common issues that can plague a road trip. To make sure the basics are covered, try this: Lifeline 4330AAA Black AAA Premium Road, 42 Piece Emergency Car Jumper Cables, Flashlight and First Aid Kit
Plan for weather related issues (especially if traveling during extreme cold or heat). This includes having extra clothing handy in case you need to do some walking. It also includes having water and food available, and even a small bucket in case of car sickness or extended traffic jams (think bathroom facilities in a pinch).
“Have We Got Anything to Eat?”
Let’s face it, half the fun of a road trip is the food, but then it’s also a large chunk of the expense. Keep that credit card for souvenirs (like a keychain from each of the 50 states, or a t-shirt with your life’s motto).
Here’s a list of some snacks and useful items for snacking that can make any road trip more convenient and a little lighter on the wallet.
- Trail mix – make sure to put them in individual bags, so no fighting and less spilling
- Chocolate – don’t even leave home without it!
- Napkins – why do we need them? Let me count the ways…
- Wet wipes – because sticky happens
- Fork, knife and spoon; at least one each. Comes in handy when a drive through forgets to give you one. No one wants to turn around, we’re already late.
- Extra straw (either disposable or reusable). Every year, broken straws contribute to the partaking of great angst and spilled sodas. Don’t let it happen to you!
- Bottled water in a small cooler. Have you seen gas station prices on this stuff? Do the environment a favor and use your refillable ones if you can.
- Cheese and crackers
So there you go! From now on, you can beat the system without going mad for munchies! Most of these items can be put into either the cooler or a small basket that makes them easily accessible from the passenger seat.
“You’re Snoring Again!”
The most comfortable car we have ever owned was a Buick Park Avenue. It was made for the road trip! The living room recliner-like heated seats made for the most luxurious ride ever. But alas, our vehicles are now more economical and feel more like vehicles than like living rooms on wheels.
What can be done to make your trip a little easier on the bones?
- An ergonomic steering wheel cover helps the hand fatigue after driving for hours. Also a benefit, it helps regulate the temperature of the steering wheel after sitting in the sun or the cold. Find yours here: Custom Accessories 38451P Black Memory Foam Soft Grip Steering Wheel Cover
- Travel pillow. Whether or not you are taking turns sleeping and driving, the passenger should be able to snooze from time to time. I have tried many u-shaped travel pillows, and none seems to work for me. Yes, I have turned it around, and no, it still didn’t work. I end up with a sore neck and no sleep. So what can be done? My answer is this: Sharper Image Rate 1 Memory Foam Travel Pillow, Black, 15″x 11″ 3 1/2″. It fits right between my head and the frame of the car, while only having to recline slightly. It feels like a regular bed pillow, but with enough firmness to support your head in a more upright position. So much easier to use for a variety of sleeping positions, and works on the armrest for an elbow cushion as well!
- Small blanket. Just to keep the chill off. Studies show (ok, so I asked like two people, but they are SMART people…) keeping the driver awake is more important than whether or not the passenger is chilled. Even your playing field with this soft and cozy blanket: Portable Travel Blanket Airplane Office 4 in 1 Micro Mink Fleece Poncho Blanket Folable with Pocket and Built-in Bag – Great for Airplane Car Train Travel – Ultra Soft and Cozy, Grey
“Are We There Yet?”
It’s not just kids that sometimes get a little bored on the road. Here are some ideas to keep the conversations going and the adventure growing:
Conversation Starter Packs
Road trips are for connecting with others, but sometimes it takes a bit for the conversation to really start flowing. Here’s a great way to get things started. There are a variety of versions to choose from, but this should get your kids to open up: OUR MOMENTS Kids: 100 Thought Provoking Conversation Starters for Great Parent-Child Relationship Building – Fun Car Travel, Road Trip & Home Card Questions Game for Healthy Loving Family Development
Travel trays or Lap Desks
Not gonna lie, I found this while looking for something else, but think it’s one of the best travel things for families since sliced cheese! Buy one or two (or more!), but what a way to keep the kids from getting crumbs everywhere. With these, the stickiness is at least contained: Set of Two Kids Travel Tray for Road Trip Activities/Kids Travel Games Toddler Tray with Travel Busy Bag for Car Seat Airplane Stroller Activities (Two Trays Without Activities)
Download a Good Book
Can’t watch the big city traffic without getting stressed out? Now’s the time to try a new book. Keep peace in the car while fearing for your life by getting yours electronically here: Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans
What’s not to love? Music can make the mood, from calming road rage to keeping us on our toes while driving through endless flatlands. Make sure you have good sing-along tunes downloaded to your phone, burned to a CD (yes, people still do that), or remember the words, because slow data speeds and data gaps happen to us all.
“Hey, Did You Bring the Thing?”
I can’t tell you how much stress has been taken out of our weekend trips just by having an always packed toiletry bag ready to go. No more forgetting contact cases (or the juice), charging cords, or toothbrushes. If you’re anything like me, we were constantly running to the store for these items, and then ended up with a bunch of them at home later. Ugh! Save yourself the agony and expense with one of these for each person.
After trying a variety of them, I found this one to be the most fabulous one of the bunch: Hanging Toiletry Bag, Large Travel Cosmetic Makeup Travel Organizer for Men&Women with Sturdy Hook-Trip Essentials. Mine is pink, but you do you. Plenty of options to choose from. It’s firm enough to stand on the counter, but flexible enough to shove one… more… thing…. in there! Just love this bag.
A Good Selfie Stick
A good selfie stick. This is one of the best tools I have in my purse. I am not a big “Selfie” person, but after about 20 years of having pictures of my husband or my husband and son on vacation, I decided it was about time there was proof we were married and that I was there too. I found a stick that slides easily into my purse, and now is always ready to go.
Many selfie sticks today use Bluetooth technology to click the shutter, but do you really need one more thing to charge while traveling? I don’t. And, for me, it could be a month or more between uses, so trying to keep batteries charged or replaced would make my selfie stick useless at the time you need that perfect pic.
This one not only just plugs in to your headphone jack (make sure your phone has one!), but there is a small mirror on the stick so you can use the higher quality rear-facing camera to get your precious family photos! Especially important if you want to enlarge those pictures later.
If you don’t already have one, or don’t love yours, I suggest: BKMGL Wired Selfie Stick – Cable Control Selfie Sticks,Extendable Handheld Selfie Sticks,for iPhone X / 8 Plus / 8 / Samsung A6 2018 / S9 / Huawei P20 / P10 and All Smartphones.
Be Ready to Enjoy Yourself
So often we start a road trip as a ball of anxiety, expecting things to go wrong. But you know what? They could go right! Physically and mentally prepare for the little emergencies that can happen along the way, but don’t expect them. Plenty of road trips happen every day in which people have meaningful conversations, enjoy time with their loved ones, and make memories that last a lifetime!
Prepare your heart for adventure, and you will find it!
Thanks so much for reading! Come along with me as we journey through the little things that make adulting just a little easier. How? Subscribe below:
Do you have any favorite road trip tips? Comment below.