Not that Kyle and I are expert road trippers or anything, but considering we just finished a month long road trip I would say we have some tips for you!
#1: Make sure that before you leave you have some great options on your iPod and I’m not just talking about an awesome road trip playlist. Think about downloading audio books, podcasts like This American Life and stand up from comedians. We finished listening to Harry Potter books six and seven during our road trip and probably heard thirty This American Life episodes which are fascinating and will give you a multitude of conversation starters for the rest of your life.
#2: Don’t become reliant on your GPS system, especially if it is you iPhone. Our iPhone attempted to take us to some interesting places (not the address we typed in) and often times would direct us to stop the car and proceed on foot to the destination. It also lost us for about seven hours in South Dakota and was determined we were in the ocean in San Fran when we were, in fact, on a bridge. I would suggest having an Atlas as well, great because it in no way requires 4G, four bar, roaming, extended, LTE, whatever the heck cell phones need these days!
3#: Make a pact not to eat fast food and in order to avoid it, try to stock the car with snacks and meals. Actually go to a grocery store before you leave and buy things like bread, PB&J, snack mixes, fruit, veggies, etc. Investing in a collapsible cooler is also not a bad idea, but make sure it’s collapsible because space is key on a road trip and when it’s not full you will want it out of the way.
#4: To help pay for gas it is always an option to post ride-shares on craigslist. This is where you put up where you are leaving from and your destination and see if anyone needs a ride. Just make sure you clarify that you want to split money for gas and be prepared to peel out of the parking lot where you are meeting them if they look at all sketchy!
#5: Try to limit your driving to only five hours a day. Not only is this safer but then each person only has to drive a few hours and you can have enough time to enjoy your destination.
#6: When you see cheap gas stop and fill up. Always. I can’t tell you how many times we would say, oh we are fine, we will just fill up in a bit and then when a bit passes and we stop the gas is ten cents more expensive then the last gas station. Grrrrr.
#7: A road trip is a great time to visit people you rarely get to see. So map out people along the way and connect the dots. Visiting people was the highlight of our trip and we are so thankful to all the people that put us up along the way!
#8: Don’t forget about scenic highways. Just because the iPhone wants to take you the quickest way doesn’t mean there aren’t pretty, two lane, winding roads out there to drive on! This isn’t always the best use of time but if you aren’t in a hurry consider it.
#9: Do not attempt to combine a road trip with a cross country move. This is what Kyle and I did and it can be seriously inhibiting. Not only did we have clothes and food and camping gear in the car for the road trip but we also had about three bins of books, a few nick knacks, extra clothes, a record player and a whole lot of records. This caused our car to be extremely crowded, even with a roof box, and thus easily de-organized. We found ourselves re-organizing and packing every time we stopped. So try to keep it simple.
#10: Along the same lines, before you go on a road trip invest in or build an organizing system. This is something we wished we had done and saw a lot of other people doing. They have built in drawers and boxes with special compartments to house the necessities. We had bins filled with stuff and what you were looking for in the bin was always on the very bottom, causing you to have to empty the bin to get it out.
#11: When I asked Kyle if he had any tips he said find a road trip partner that likes to drive. Ouch. Sounds like someone is a little bitter…
#12: If you don’t have anyone to stop and see and don’t want to stay in a hotel but you need a place to recoup, charge devices, write a blog post, surf the web, do laundry, clean up, etc… consider stopping at a laundry mat. They usually have good wifi, a bathroom, laundry (duh) and places to sit and hang out. The one in Moab is especially nice.
We also have a number of places we would highly recommend all across the country, in fact we had very few bad experiences on our road trip. Here are some of our favorites!
– Wicked Weeds Brewery in Asheville had wonderful food, beer and atmosphere! If you park near there you can walk downtown and explore.
– The New Glarus Brewery in Wisconsin was fantastic. The beer is good, the tasting deal is awesome and the building was spotless.
– Kettle Moraine State Park in Wisconsin was also very nice, a little over priced but it has awesome hiking and mountain biking trails.
– Obviously I can never rave enough about how beautiful Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park is so just go there. We spent one day in Arches and managed to hike most of the trails, but they have a great backcountry permit system that allows you to go wherever you want within the park. Our campsite in Arches had the most amazing view of the Manti La Sal mountains with red rocks in the foreground. Canyonlands is made up of three main districts, Island in the Sky, Needles, and The Maze. The Maze is only really accessible by 4WD but we spent one day in Island and then five in Needles. The reason we spent most of our time in Needles was because they have some longer hiking opportunities and the Ranger suggested we head there to hike. We managed a 10+ mile hike daily and on the last day did a sixteen mile hike out to Druids Arch, through Chesler Park and the Joint and then back along the Needles. I highly suggest that hike to anyone that goes to Needles, it was breath taking.
– And Flagstaff. Pretty much I just suggest to anyone the entire city of Flagstaff, if you want specifics then just email me and I will give you a million suggestions for hikes, places to eat, bars, stores, all sorts of stuff!
All in all Kyle and I had an amazing road trip. We saw some awesome place and got to hang out with our amazing friends and family. However, by the end we were ready to get home, ready to wake up in the morning and realize we didn’t have to leave again. That is a special feeling.