Tips for Your Road Trip

Tips for Your Road Trip

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.

I wish that we'd consulted Roadtrippers for our drive back from Sacramento trip so that we could've stopped by Pyramid Lake
I wish that we’d consulted Roadtrippers for our drive back from Sacramento so that we could’ve stopped by Pyramid Lake

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.

Rest Stops

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.

Stay Charged

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.

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What are some of your favorite road trip tips? Please share.

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  • These are all great road trip tips especially for us Southern Californians. I’m a better passenger than driver on road trips though 🙂 I’ve used Roadtripper but need to look up TV Food Map. Thanks for the Harbor Fish & Chips tip. I live in Oceanside and haven’t gone yet.

    • Dana Carmel

      I don’t mind being in the driver’s seat during road trips although it’s nice to sometimes just sit there and watch the scenery pass by. Yes, do try Harbor Fish & Chips. It has a cool vibe and the food is delicious although I think most things are delicious when fried. 😉

  • Now I feel like doing a road trip! The don’t drive after eating is a GREAT tip! definitely something to keep in mind!

    • Dana Carmel

      I always get sleepy when driving for long stretches after eating – without fail! 😉

  • Thank you very much for this wonderful tips, we are not really roadtrip type people but in-case we suddenly decide to, this are some helpful tips.

    • Dana Carmel

      You’re very welcome – I hope they come in handy when you finally do decide to hit the road!

  • As you know Pyramid Lake (Nevada) is right down the road from us, Dana! What a fun post to read because Phoenix and I are total roadtrippers. We just hop in his Jeep and take off and let the day unfold. I like what you shared about all of the little places to stop and see along the way. Being the driver I often forget to do that. My wingman for 10 years always has his head hanging out the window looking for abandoned tennis balls. Those, of course, require an immediate stop 🙂

    • Dana Carmel

      Hey Mike – there’s actually a Pyramid Lake on the edge of Los Angeles County. That’s the one in the pic. It looks beautiful and I wish we could’ve stopped. I hope that on your next road trip you and Phoenix will take the time to enjoy some sites along the way. I’m sure that the Roadtrippers app could help you with that. Thanks for reading, Mike!

  • Hi Dana, great road trip tips. Thanks for sharing about the TV Food Maps app. It should come in very handy as we plan to do more road trips the next few months. We definitely have good eats along the way:)

    • Dana Carmel

      Glad to share the app tips. Wishing you happy and safe roadtripping, Marisol!

  • Out of all the ways you can travel, road trips are my favourite! There’s nothing quite like hitting the open road 🙂

    • Dana Carmel

      I totally agree, Becky! I’d love to take more train trips in the future as well.

  • I’ve gone on a road trip, too, and I agree with eating along the way. We always take a lot of food, just in case we get stranded somewhere and get hungry.

    • Dana Carmel

      We pack snacks, but when we’re ready for a meal, we try to stop at a good restaurant. Eating is such a fun part of road trips! 😉

  • I rarely take road trips but these tips could come in handy one day, especially the one about the cigarette lighter adapter.

    • Dana Carmel

      Yes – being properly charged is crucial!

  • Great tips. I will be getting those apps as i am planning to hit the road soon. You are also beautiful while cat-walking.

    • Dana Carmel

      Safe travels on your upcoming road trip, and thanks for the compliment! 😉

  • Thank you so much for the tip with that app, I’m definitely going to download it today (actually roadtripping to Virginia this weekend, myself!;-) I completely agree with the “eat well along the way”, tip…I like to try to hit local cuisine spots whenever possible…not even necessarily Mom and Pop places, but even fast food chains that only appear in a certain region are fun (Biscuitville in NC, for example…YUM!)

    • Dana Carmel

      Hopefully you’ll find some cool places to stop along the route to Virginia. And I hear you about regional fast food chains although I’ve never tried Biscuitville. I’ll have to look out for it the next time I’m in NC. Have fun on your trip this weekend and be safe!

  • Great tips! I’ll definitely be downloading both of those apps. I’ve been getting into road trips a bit more too, especially the drive from Charleston to Savannah. Very scenic. Thanks for sharing!

    Happy travels 🙂

    • Dana Carmel

      The next time I visit Savannah (there WILL be a next time), I definitely want to make the drive from Savannah to Charleston. I’ve heard great things about Charleston.

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