There’s more to a great American road trip than driving from Point A to Point B. Actually, there are quite a few things to consider before hitting the road and embarking on a cross-country vacation. These road trip rules will help you get there safely, soundly and sanely.
Rules for Road Trips
1. Fill Up Your Gas Tank
Rocker Jackson Browne toured the world running on empty. You, however, will need a full tank of gasoline (with frequent fill ups) if you want your epic road trip to go the distance.
2. Buy a Good Map or Program Your GPS
If you’re old-fashioned and fearful that an electronic voice inside your handheld device will give you misguided driving directions, look at a map. Sure, you may never get it folded up the right way, but at least you won’t have to worry about being sent on a wild goose chase. If you embrace technology, program your vacation address into your phone or car mounted GPS before you leave home. Then enjoy turn-by-turn driving directions all the way to your final destination.
3. Limit Roadside Attractions
Giant balls of twine, Cadillac graveyards and petrified-wood gas stations are all legitimate reasons to stop your car and gawk, but use your time wisely. If you stop for too many oddities, like 18-foot turtles made from tire rims, you’re going to slow your progress. Of course if you’re set on seeing something totally unique, read the local billboards for directions.
4. Take Lots of Pictures
Whether you snap pictures with your phone or a professional camera, you’ll appreciate capturing all your vacation moments. Take lots of shots and edit or delete your images later. Among the closed eyes and photo-bombing tourists in the background, you’ll have plenty of shots to share with family and friends when you get home.
5. Go with Your Gut
If that little voice inside your head tells you to keep driving when you approach a location that looks uninviting, keep driving—especially at night. Your intuition is usually right, and road trip rules state that safety must always come first. Even if you have to drive a bit farther and spend more money a chain hotel, it will be worth it.
6. Eat at a Local Restaurant
Driving across the country is the perfect time to sit down for a meal at a roadside restaurant. Mom and Pop places are known to serve up tasty dishes for a fraction of the cost of fast food places and chain restaurants. You just might discover the best thing you’ve ever tasted at a local eatery. If you’re looking for recommendations, download the Foodspotting app—it will help you find the best local dishes.
7. Pay Attention to the Truckers
Road trip rules say you should do what the truckers are doing. If they slow down, you should too. They generally know where the highway patrol cars are and steer clear to avoid them. Follow their lead, and the only ticket you’ll need to worry about is the one that gets you into a theme park.
8. Put your MP3 Player on Shuffle
Music can make a long trip go by faster. Load up devices or make a mix tape/cd with tunes from everyone on the trip. As they say, variety is the spice of life, and a good soundtrack with personal favorites will always have a better selection than what the stations on the radio dial are playing.
9. Pack Light
Casual clothes, a warm outfit or two, comfy shoes and something dressy is really all you need. Your goal is to have fun, not a make a fashion statement. Plus, you don’t want to wear yourself out by spending most of your vacation time unpacking—and then realizing it’s time to go home.
10. Don’t Push Yourself
Of all the road trip rules, this is the most important one to follow: Know your limits and call it night when you feel your eyes begin to get heavy. Pull over, check into a hotel/motel and get a restful sleep. The road will be right where you left when you get up in the morning.