Jave and I have been roadtripping a lot lately. Earlier this year, we traveled locally throughout Southern California to Carlsbad, Goleta, and Palm Desert, and more recently, we roadtripped from L.A. to Sacramento and from southeastern Virginia to Washington, D.C. This past summer, I also roadtripped with my cousin Lauren from Atlanta to Savannah. While I’m still working on becoming a better roadtrip planner, our recent journeys on the road motivated me to put together this brief list of some helpful tips to make your road trip a bit safer and a bit more enjoyable.
Drive in Season
If and when possible, try to plan your road trip during a time of year when the weather is at its finest because there’s nothing that makes a road trip more enjoyable than a scenic drive. During our recent drive from Portsmouth, VA to Washington, D.C., we were surrounded by the gold, red, brown, and green hues of the fall foliage. On the highway, we kept whizzing past postcard-perfect scenery. Occasionally, we were able to pull over and snap a few beautiful photos.
Enjoy Sites along the Way
Although getting to your final destination is the ultimate goal, it’s also nice to enjoy sites along the way. While planning our route to D.C. prior to our road trip, I was sure to do some research to see which other sites and cities of interest we’d pass along the way. Fortunately, Williamsburg, VA was about an hour outside of Portsmouth en route to D.C., so it was a no brainer to stop for a tour of this colonial city that was once the English colony in North America. Our side excursion to Williamsburg felt like a BOGO deal – icing on the cake!
A tool that I frequently use to plan our road trips is Roadtrippers. The Roadtrippers website and iPhone app are especially helpful when trying to determine which sites we want to see en route to our final destination. You can choose your route and pit stops based on your interests including attractions, history, nature, shopping, and scenic drives to name a few.
Eat Well along the Way
One of the best things about road trips is taking time out to eat well along the way. Whether at home or during a road trip, I rely on Yelp for detailed reviews and pictures from fellow Yelpers about where and what we should eat. Thanks to Yelp, we enjoyed a delicious meal en route to Carlsbad at Harbor Fish & Chips in nearby Oceanside.
Another iPhone app I keep on standby is TV Food Maps. Just enter your city/state or zip code, and this app will pull up a list of eateries based on some of your favorite foodie TV shows such as “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives”, “Throwdown with Bobby Flay”, and “Man vs. Food” so that you can actually taste the delicious food that you’ve been drooling over on television.
Don’t Drive Right After Eating
If you’re anything like me, you may feel a bit sluggish after eating. So instead of immediately hopping back on the road after your meal, take a walk or rest a bit so that you don’t start to nod off while driving.
Should you start feeling drowsy while driving, you should absolutely pull off the road wherever it’s safe to do so. Even if you only have time to briefly rest your eyes or to take a 20 minute power nap – do it! That small bit of rest can mean the difference between you getting safely to your destination or getting in a wreck because you drifted off to sleep while driving. Also, be sure to splash some cold water on your face when feeling tired.
But even if you’re not feeling tired, sometimes it’s nice to just take a rest to pause and enjoy the moment, take in the scenery, or stretch your legs with an impromptu strut down your roadside catwalk like I did during our drive along the Oregon coast.
If renting a car, come prepared with both a USB cord and a cigarette lighter adapter. We recently learned this the hard way while driving around Virginia. Jave’s EVO (which he’s since replaced with an iPhone) was out of commission, and my iPhone was on the verge of dying since we’d been using it for calls, music, and navigation. We only came prepared with a USB cord to use in the rental car because we figured that most modern cars have evolved beyond cigarette lighter adapters. Not so. Fortunately, as her final heroic act before dying, Siri was able to navigate us to the closest Verizon store so that we could buy a cigarette lighter adapter. Lesson learned.