Ahhh, the open road.
The Great American Adventure
With so many commercial flights available these days, it may seem as though cross-country road trips are a thing of the past. However, this is not the case. Thousands of people jump into their cars for an extended adventurous vacation every year. Some may only travel a few hundred miles en route to see friends and family, but just as many are gathering friends for the road trip of a lifetime.
Road trips offer a unique and unparalleled opportunity to see the backroads and hidden beauties of the country at your own pace. There are few things that are more rewarding than collecting memories and experiences that are well outside of your daily life. If you are preparing for a road trip with your crew, here are a few things to consider before jumping in the car.
Of course there are a plethora of reasons to take a road trip. You may be hitting the roads for a visit to family over the holidays or friends for a wild weekend getaway. Or you may be jumping in the car for an extended vacation or full on adventure. Whatever your reason, there are some serious benefits to getting away from home for a while.
In general, traveling has been linked to numerous mental health benefits. While on a trip, you’re not worrying about work or other obligations; you have the unique opportunity to forget about all your life worries and thrust yourself into full vacation mode. This mental break increases happiness while decreasing stress and even risk of depression.
Furthermore, taking a road trip enables you to build a knowledge of the place you live, experience different ways of life and thinking, and make lasting memories. Who knows, you may even be able to check a few things off the bucket list while out on the road. Traveling gives us a one of a kind ability to grow as a person, things that may change our life outlook altogether.
Where To Go
Perhaps the two most important aspects of planning your road trip is deciding where you want to go and the general things you’d like to accomplish on your journey. Be certain to take into account potential differences in traffic laws and driving styles in different states and cities. Additionally, look out for weather patterns that could make driving more difficult than anticipated and be ready to change routes all together if necessary.
Although it is important to have a rough idea of where you are headed on this road trip, don’t make too strict of a plan. Having a loose plan enables you take advantage of opportunities and random experiences as they come up. Often times these “unplanned adventures” make for the most fun and memorable parts of the trip. A loose plan also helps to account for any unforeseen problems like mechanical issues or road construction.
Some of your “loose plan activities” can involve getting off of the main roads and actually traveling off the beaten path. The most scenic vistas, best food, and most charming small towns are off the main highways where the speed limits might be a little lower and the roads a little curvier. That being said, be sure not to get lost, and have an exit plan to get back onto a main thoroughfare if the beaten path isn’t working for the adventure you’re trying to have.
What To Drive
Another thing to seriously consider during any road trip is the shape and capabilities of the vehicle you are using. Make sure your car is ready for the road by doing things such as checking the engine, tires, and fluids. Clean up the car before you begin and make sure all of the necessary paperwork is in the glovebox in case there are any issues.
Cars can be cramped, especially with all of the passenger’s things stuffed in any available corner, so pack as lightly as possible. If there still isn’t enough space or if your vehicle really doesn’t seem capable of making the trip you have planned, perhaps it is worthwhile to consider a rental for the big trip. Rentals can be customized to match the type of adventure you’re going on which will ensure you’re able to make it without doing a lot of car damage.
If you and your crew are planning an extended holiday with lots of time on the road, it may even be worth considering renting an RV for the trip. Of course, there are a lot of special considerations for people that are new to RV driving, as they are such a large vehicle. But the additional space and ability to sleep, cook, and chill out in an RV can save a lot of money overall and provide a brief reprieve from life on the road.
Road Trip Safety
Finally, as you head out on your road trip, be sure to take special precautions while driving. Driving is the single most dangerous thing that most of us do every single day and it is easy to become complacent. Be a defensive driver and don’t think that just because you are paying attention that other people are too.
On long road trips and after many hours pounding the pavement, it is easy to begin to feel sleepy while driving. If you are traveling with a group, be sure to have clear divisions of labor and swap out drivers frequently so everyone can get some rest. If you are traveling alone, always find a safe place to pull off the road for a quick power nap if you are starting to feel drowsy.
Having a breakdown while on the road sucks, but nothing makes it worse than being stranded in the middle of nowhere without food or water. Always remember to bring snacks and water in the car in case you have a mechanical issue on the road. There aren’t many areas in the U.S. without great cell service these days, but they certainly do exist and it could be a while before help arrives.
Road trips with a crew of good friends can make for some of the most memorable experiences in life and have numerous health benefits. If you are considering a road trip, be sure to have a loose plan of where you are going and what you’d like to do. Find the right vehicle for you and prepare for the unexpected. Adventure is out there!
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