The phrase ‘road trip’ is usually enough to instill fear in the heart of those who hear it, with images of the highway, traffic, and cramped quarters flashing through their heads. While this is technically true in most cases, road trips are still adventures that deserve to be revered. Obviously there’s a fine line between going on a weekend trip and driving 12 hours to go to a family reunion, and between going with a friend or two and your whole family, so here’s how to plan the best road trip possible.
1. Pick a weekend you have nothing to do.
The first part of a successful road trip is to plan it for fun rather than obligation. Pick a day or two where you have no plans at all, leaving the whole trip just for you to go nuts and do whatever you feel like.
2. Grab a road trip buddy.
Talk to a friend or two you wouldn’t mind being stuck in close quarters with for hours on end. Ideally, there are certain characteristics that make a good road trip that one or both of you need to have, including but not limited to good navigational skills, safe driving habits, and the ability to make a kickass road trip playlist. You have to be comfortable with this person; you may need them to read or send a text while you’re driving, or sit in silence for a little while, or have them hear your singing voice while you’re belting it out, or even share a hotel room (depending on your plans). Choose wisely, because the right person can make or break your trip. Road trips can turn friends into best friends, or conversely, friends into enemies.
3. Choose a destination.
As a general road trip rule, plan for the journey, not the destination. Choose one or more destinations that both of you enjoy, taking into account how far away they are and any possible stops on the way. You’ll need to look into any possible admission fees for your destinations, as well as factor in the kind of traffic you’ll encounter en route.
4. Choose the route you’ll take.
Faster is almost never better. Enjoy the trip, and avoid highways. It’s easy to get sick of driving when you’re staring at the interstate, and much easier to enjoy the journey if you’re driving through mountains, or back roads, or along the coast.
5. Plan your snacking.
You’re going to want to bring a few snacks along the way so there’s no need for constant stopping and starting again. A good bet is a dozen donuts, since they’re delicious and will likely last you all day after you grab breakfast.
6. Plan for music.
Plan a road trip playlist, or at least appoint someone not driving as the temporary DJ. Make sure they know what the members of your posse’s musical tastes are so they can incorporate what the likes of the group are and avoid the dislikes in their playlist, to make everyone happy. If you’ve got bluetooth or a tape deck in your car, excellent, you’re all set. Isn’t technology awesome? If not, however, you’ll need to do some planning, as I’ve learned through my experience with my road trip buddy’s car. Bringing a bluetooth speaker or two is never a bad idea, just make sure you plan for battery consumption with backup batteries or power. Not only does good music make the time go by faster, but there’s something belting out the words to a song your friend and you both liked in eighth grade that you forgot you knew the words to that’s incredibly satisfying.
7. Enjoy the ride.
Kick off your shoes, lean back, and relax. This trip is for you. See a museum on the side of the road you think looks cool? Stop and take a look. There’s nothing preventing it. Have fun at your destination, but have just as much fun on the way back. Experience that rare moment wherein you’re seeing something beautiful, and you’re listening to one of your favorite songs, and you’re laughing, and you swear your life could be a movie. Have fun, and enjoy the ride.