Not too long ago I suggested a few Quirky But Beautiful Road Trip Destinations that you and your family might enjoy now that summer vacation season is officially underway.
Before you get too excited about mapping out your next road trip destination, let’s bring you back to reality for a few minutes.
Road Trips can either be amazing journeys that you remember forever or they can be the thing of nightmares that you’ll never forget (as much as you may want to).
Personally I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum, and I can tell you if you want to have a Zen-like vacation that’s free of stress it all comes down to preparing ahead of time.
So whether you’re hitting the road to visit your family or you’re diving off to experience something new – follow along with these 5 Ways to Survive the Drive and the odds of you having an anxiety free vacation are in your favor.
1. Prepare Your Vehicle Before You Hit The Road
OK, first things first. Your mind and body won’t be in a peaceful state if your vehicle isn’t prepared to handle the rigors of a long road trip.
Before you set out on your journey, make sure your vehicle is in good shape. Check your oil, tire pressure and all the vital fluids. If anything needs to be tuned up or fixed, schedule a service appointment before you head out.
And remember (and I speak from experience on this one), if the check engine light comes on during your trek, stop immediately and get it checked out (R.I.P. ’86 Chrysler Lebaron).
2. A Road Trip Is About The Journey, Not The Destination
The best part of a road trip is appreciating the new landscapes and structures as you drive leisurely drive past them. If you want a true Zen Road Trip, be mindful of the beauty that surrounds you during your trip and take your time getting to your destination.
If you’re know you’ll be on the road for 12 hours or more before arriving, do yourself a favor and don’t rush to get there as quick as you can. Find a quaint little town to stop in along the way and stay the night or listen to your inner-self and go off course to see the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in person.
As far as I’m concerned, making impromptu stops along the way to check out local attractions are a great way to break up the drive and give others a chance to get behind the wheel.
Remember, there’s a reason truck drivers aren’t allowed to drive over 11 hours in a day – it’s just not safe!
Make pit stops as needed and don’t be shy about exploring your surroundings. Whatever you do, don’t forget to enjoy the journey.
3. Plan Family Car Activities
While you and your spouse might be able to drive for hours on end in zen-like silence enjoying the view, your kids aren’t equipped to do the same.
If you’re traveling as a family, make sure your kids have plenty to do while they’re sitting in the car so they don’t get all squirmy and increasingly loud – thus interrupting your peaceful journey down the road.
Whether it’s playing a game, reading or singing along to music, keeping their minds engaged is key. Maybe stop at the dollar store before you leave and pick them up a cheap, new toy that will pique their interests (for 15 minutes or so). Or play the alphabet game with billboards and license plates.
The more the kids have to do, the less they’ll be asking “are we there yet?” and the more likely you’ll arrive at your destination with all your hair intact and in it’s original color.
4. Less is More When Travelling
Avoid the urge to pack everything but the kitchen sink when you take a road trip. Let’s face it, you’re not going to use half of the stuff you pack anyway, so why stress yourself out trying to remember to pack every last widget and gizmo that you own?
Besides – if you realize you left something behind, that’s just an excuse to have a new adventure along the way. You never know what kind of lasting memory can be made.
Some of the fondest memories I have of the road trips of my youth were those where we had to stop at a roadside gas station or convenience store to replace pair of sunglasses that were left at home.
If you can’t be without your worldly possessions, just remember to not pack your trunk or back seat too full – make sure you can see out the back windshield while you’re driving.
And in one last friendly reminder to pack lightly, don’t forget that the heavier your vehicle is the worse fuel economy your vehicle is going to get.
5. Stop Stressful Spending
If there’s one other thing that can make your road trip stressful, it the amount of money you could spend along the way.
Trips can be expensive, especially if you have a big family. If you plan your vacation well in advance, you can start a “vacation fund” and save cash whenever you get the chance.
It’s also more practical to pack your favorite snacks, meals and drinks to take with you so you’ll spend less eating out and you’ll have a quick fix for when you hear your kids complaining about being hungry.
Heck, maybe join a rewards club or two. See which services are on your planned route and get information about their rewards program. You might even get a free night stay or a free tank of gas while you’re away.
No matter where your travels take you this summer, I hope you not only survive the drive, but thoroughly enjoy every last mile.
Do you have any other Zen-like suggestions you’d make when taking a road trip? Share them in the comments section below.