I am currently planning my next two trips (hints: one goes up a “north shore” and the other goes to 3-5 more parks), and gearing up for my next career which may start in a few months in Louisiana or at the end of the summer in Ohio. In my free time I’ve been rereading my blog and getting emotional about my pictures and memories from this winter. There’s nothing like a sunset over Canyonlands National Park to make you cry! And I’ve also been debating about writing a book full of tips and stories, but have decided to wait on that. I know the next few years of my life will be full of exploring and travel, and I will have much more wisdom to share then. So I’ve decided to share my tips with all of you guys for free instead, yay!
Since traveling and road tripping season is coming up, I am going to give you guys all the advice I can – from packing your bags to spending a day at Yosemite, I’m going to spill all. To kick us off, here are my tips on preparing for a road trip:
1. Get your maps and itineraries ready (and share them!)
Being safe while traveling is all about your preparedness. It is essential to have more than one kind of map to follow. I know most people use an app on their phone (I prefer the Google Maps app, as you can download offline instructions too!), but it’s important to have a print copy available in case something happens to your technology. I always carry an atlas with me (currently just of the US and Canada, but eventually it will be of the world), and also print off my accommodation itineraries as well as a paper copy of the directions my phone will tell me. ALSO if you are traveling solo, give your mom, your BFF, your spouse, somebody who isn’t going on this trip with you (preferably the person you will be checking in with) a copy of your entire trip itinerary.
If you are traveling alone, make sure you let someone know what you’re doing and when you expect to end your day. Then call or text them to let them know when you arrive. Have an emergency plan in place for what they should do if you do not check in, like waiting an hour and calling the local authorities.
2. Pack the right gear
Things you should have in your car for a road trip include:
-Atlas -Car Wipes (for the spills that will happen) -Wet Wipes (for your sticky fingers after you eat the whole bag of Sour Patch kids) -A Basic Tool Kit -Basic Car Care Supplies (like everything needed for changing a tire, an extra quart of oil, windshield washer fluid, sand if you may encounter snow, an emergency road flare/light, etc.) -First Aid Kit -Umbrella or Rain Gear -Snow Gear (if you’re going somewhere they may be snow) and Snow Chains -Extra gallon(s) of Water -Nonperishable Food for Emergencies -Pillow and Blanket (in case you have to sleep in your car in an emergency)
Things you should pack in general:
-Toiletries (when you’re in the small town with one store, you will kick yourself for having to pay $7 for shaving razors instead of bringing the cheap ones you had at home) -Clothes for All Weather -Extra Clothes (especially socks and underwear) -A Good Pair of Walking Shoes -Two Phone Chargers: one being a car charger -Food/Snacks and Water -A Camera (or clear enough space on your phone for lots of pictures) -Extra Sunglasses (because you will scratch or break a pair when you only have one) -Sunscreen/Hat
3. Do Your Research
Know enough about where you’re going or what you’re doing in order to be safe there. If you’re going into the wilderness, know which animals or weather you may encounter and learn how to handle an attack or emergency. If you’re going to a big city, know which neighborhoods are safe and what things are worth seeing. If you’re staying in or driving through the middle of nowhere, know where you can stop for gas and purchase your necessities.
4. Book Where You’re Staying
Before going on my winter of road trips, I didn’t plan ahead for much. I’m a very spontaneous and free-spirited person, and the structure of having to check in somewhere on a certain day in a certain time frame was the opposite of all my soul stands for. BUT, my wallet was very thankful I didn’t have to search for last minute accommodations, and I always had a place to rest my head. (You can find more budget-friendly tips in my previous blog post: https://elisabeththeadventurer.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/how-i-can-afford-to-travel-and-how-you-can-too/) Plus I was able to plan my day around daylight hours, knowing how many hours it would take me to get from one place to another. Now I plan ahead for all my trips, and really enjoy doing so, which leads us to…..
5. Make a Plan (then print it out)
As I said, I never considered myself to be a planner before this trip (many friends and family can attest to that!), but for my personal safety I forced myself to make one for my first road trip. I used this super duper handy website: Furkot.com, where I punched in all of the places I wanted to go, and it literally made the best route between all of them for me! It even told me how long it would take to drive between places, and suggested when I should stop to rest based off of my driving preferences. I got to do the fun part of planning and it did the rest. It was also super easy to customize and organize, and made it so fun that I’ve used the website two more times since then. Then I printed the map and directions out, one copy for myself and one for my check-in contact (my mom). So easy, and so fun.
6. Alert Your Bank/Credit Card Company
Many financial institutions have identity theft protection that alerts you or freezes your cards when they see irregular activity, or charges from a state/country you usually aren’t in. Call your bank, credit union, or credit card company and let them know where you’re traveling and when.
7. Have Extra Money With/Saved
Anything can happen on a trip. A broken bone or fuel line can quickly cost you a couple hundred dollars you weren’t expecting to fork out. Make sure you have at least a couple hundred dollars you don’t plan on spending as an emergency fund so you don’t have to end your trip early because of finances.
Road trips are awesome, and being prepared for anything will help you enjoy your trip to the fullest. Stay tuned or subscribe for more tips!