Road tripping is different for everyone, I get that. Some people like to plan things out from top to botton, lunches-bathroom breaks-gas stops-whathaveyous and some people just get in the car and go. Theres the people who need to have a pre approved and vetted playlist at the ready, and then theres the people who switch on the radio and just pick a station to listen to. Some people don’t even listen to music (audio books, news, russian dissertations on eroding social classes, ect ). But when you’re taking a roadtrip, no matter what size, to places you’ve never been to before, there’s a number of general rules/niceties that can apply to everyone. Especially if you’re going with someone you’ve never traveled with before, or this is your first roadtrip.
Always book in advance if you’re going to be making more than 2 hours drive to the destination of the night. It’s always great to have things booked when you set off, instead of trying to do it on the way, or heavens, in the car itself. I know, I know, wheres the adventure, the spontaneity! Mate, that feeling of epic adventure will fade when your dead on your feet and trying to navigate the insanity that is foggy weather or crowded roads that cows frequent.
Pack your essentials in plastic ziplock bags (this goes for both guys and gals btw) or travel bags if you’re fancy like that, especially if you’re traveling with someone else and you’ll be sharing a room with one bathroom. Don’t be that person who takes up all the counter space with their grooming stuff. Both me and Kat were excellent at this and it’s one of the reason we traveled so well together. Secondly, no matter how hard you try, you’re not always going to be able to eat healthy or even eat what is considered real food. It’s a road trip, these things happen. Don’t stress about it, feed yourself with what you can and make up for it later by not getting that extra helping of fries at that one greasy spoon diner…. though really, who am I kidding, I always get that extra helping. Friiiies. Keep hydrated always though, don’t just live off coffee.
When you can, and usually you can, try to pick places to stay that are run by locals. Not only are they at times less expensive than chains, they are usually brimming with charm, unique touches here and there, and even if the owner gets a bit peeved at you for arriving almost at closing time because you got lost in the fog and ended up in some weird island thing in the middle of the bay, they’re usually fantastic for tips about the area. We stayed at Seascape Motel and Cottages in Belfast when we went to Maine, and it was hands down the best place we stayed at during the whole trip, even including our fantastic boutique hotel in NYC. We got a huge cottage to ourselves, with it’s own little parking spot, cozy kitchen, and you can bet we’re going to go back one day and spend a whole week there.
Stay up late, wake up early. Or, stay up as late as you need to, to update blogs and friends, write in your journal about the epic things you did, and try and wake up as early as you can manage. A normal sleeping schedule is not a thing that happens on roadtrips, sometimes you’ll get a great nights rest and others you’ll be running on coffee fumes. Let it happen, don’t get worked up about not getting enough sleep, you can get rest when you’re back home, for now just enjoy your time on the road yeah? Learn to be at least a little bit of a morning person, even before coffee.
Also, don’t unpack ALL your bags when you settle in for the night, even if you’re going to be staying for a few days. You don’t need everything you packed every day, do you? Re-packing is a time stealer, pack efficiently with the clothes you’ll need to change the most (like underwear, sleepwear, shirts) in one bag, and the other clothes (like trousers, jeans, skirts and dresses) in the one with the rest of your things.
And the last bit of advice? If you’re going to travel with someone, make sure it’s someone who is super awesome, wants to see and experience around the same things you do, doesn’t mind that you want to photograph literally everything, christens your rental car Sally and in general is an amazing human being that you can be around 24 hours a day with, in an enclosed space for long periods of time, because in the end, your journey is more than half of the experience, not the destination.