Traveling by water or air is great, but the problem is, it can be over really quickly. It’s good for those who want to get to their destination quickly, but if you’ve never tried an old-fashioned road trip, you don’t really know what it’s like to slow travel and spend hours and hours looking at the different sights on the way. It’s something you should experience at least once in your life with your family, friends, or even by yourself.
With the good comes the bad. Since you’ll be spending hours inside a moving vehicle, boredom and some small mishaps are bound to happen. Fortunately, there are plenty of activities you can do even just sitting, but what of those little things? If you want your first or nth road trip to be as comfortable and awesome as ever, take a look at the list of road trip hacks below.
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Road Trip Hacks
1. Med and Car Sickness Kit
You should always have a medical kit in your car regardless if you’re going on a road trip or not. If you are, you should also have supplies ready for car sickness. Even if you or your companions feel like you won’t be car sick for the duration of the ride, it’s best to have the things you need.
For the med kit, you’ll need medicine staples such as healing ointments and those for stomach aches and headaches. For the car-sickness kit, you need to be prepared for the before and after. You’ll need motion-sickness medication, a trash bag, napkins, travel wipes, hydration drinks and light snacks.
2. Caddies for Food Stuff
If you have a lot of food just stuffed in unappetizing grocery bags around the car, display them for everyone to help themselves using shower caddies. Put packs of biscuits, sweets, and even chips in them. You can also store condiments in these caddies if you’re the type of person who can’t go anywhere without Sriracha, ketchup, or mustard.
You can also use the caddies for when you have meals inside the car. That way, it’s less messy and keeps everything secure. You can reuse the caddy for later.
3. Designated Trash Can
You’re on the road, and when you have nothing to do, sometimes it’s just tempting to just eat and finish up a bag of chips or whatever snacks you have. When you have a lot of people in the car, it can get messy very fast. Instead of stopping every time you need to throw something to the nearest bin or let the empty containers go everywhere, get your car a designated trash can.
Tell your guests that, when they’re done with their food or have something to throw away, they should put it in the temporary trash bin. If you’re going on a longer trip, you may need to bring extra bin liners.
Don’t forget to throw away the accumulated trash on a pit stop or when you’re camping out for the night. It may also help to use a bin with a lid to avoid the trash from spilling in case you're on a bumpy road.
4. Use Map App to Remember Parked Car
When you’re on a road trip, there’s bound to be a lot of pit stops if you plan to see many exciting spots along the way. If you’re in an unfamiliar city and find yourself worried about forgetting where you parked, open up your map app, and pin the area where you are. That way, you can just search for it later and the app will lead you straight to it once you’re done with the day’s activities.
5. Take Extra Protection for Your Car
If you’re going off-road and expecting really bumpy roads, chances are you’re driving a more hardy vehicle. Pickup trucks like Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, or Toyota Tacoma may be able to go through branches and debris with no problem, but fender flares can give them extra protection.
6. Pack Reusable Utensils
When you’re excited about the trip, it can be easy to forget about utensils because it becomes the norm to rely on disposable ones for convenience. While that may be true, plastics are bad for the environment, and if you want to do your part, pack reusable utensils and water bottles. Sure, there may be some plastic from packaged items that you can’t help but buy, but at least you made a conscious effort.
7. USB Car Charger
There are car chargers that are multiway, so you can charge multiple devices at once. Remember to frequently check your car battery as well.
8. Apps Are Your Friends
Technology is a good thing, and it’s great that there are so many innovations that come out of it. Take advantage of phone apps on your road trip to make it more pleasant. Depending on what you need, there are apps that range from maps, clean bathrooms, discounts on activities and establishments, free tickets, and many more, so do your research and make the best of what is available.
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9. Dryer Sheets for Freshness
When you have multiple people sitting inside your car for days, it's bound to start smelling less than fresh. And no matter how much you clean your car, it won’t matter.
If you want to keep the freshness of your car for as long as you can, open up a pack of dryer sheets inside your car and leave it there. It will absorb all sorts of odors and will definitely help you a lot especially when the road trip is over.
10. Make a Road-Trip Playlist
When all the excitement has wound down and all talk has ceased, it’s nice to fill the silence with some music. A road-trip playlist is a must-have for music lovers who want to sail through the trip with some mellow beats or upbeat songs.
In order to save up on battery on the most important gadgets, like your smartphone for GPS, get a separate music player, like an iPod or a Walkman. It’s also good to have CDs or even tapes as a backup because, even though they’re old school, they don’t use batteries or data, which may be limited throughout the trip.
On your first road trip, it would be a good idea to switch drivers every now and then. It’s not good to drive fatigued. If you think you’re too tired to drive anymore, switch with one of the passengers, but if no one can drive except you, go to the nearest pit stop and rest. It won’t do you or your passengers any good to drive in that state.
What are your favorite things to do when you are on a road trip? Share your thoughts below.
Author: Jeff Oxford is a digital nomad who occasionally attends auto shows but mostly enjoys visiting new places around the world.