Summer travel season is upon us and that means loading the family truckster and hitting the highway. It’s road trip season.
Personally, I’m not in love with being in a car. I would rather fly than drive, but that doesn’t always happen. I envy people who make road trips look fun. When you see their Facebook posts, they have stopped in the most interesting spots along the way, found fun souvenirs, and are dressed to the nines with perfect hair and makeup. If you were to capture my road trip in photos, it would be me scornfully stopping at a Jimmy John’s, driving as long and as fast as I can without stopping, Mark hovering over my shoulder looking at the speedometer begging me to keep my speed down, all while looking like I stepped out of a hostage situation where I have worn the same clothing and not had access to a shower for three days. It’s not cute.
If you are like me, and the prospect of getting in a car for nine hours is one of your worst nightmares, then I have some tips to help the road trip feel a BIT less excruciating.
- Pack cool snacks. This seems like a no brainer; however, there is a secret to packing snacks on a long road trip. Here it is: Pack snacks that you will get excited about. I always bring “fun drinks” (non-alcoholic) on our road trips. You know the drinks that cost like $3.48 a piece and are a mixture of exotic fruits and fizzy water? Those. We left for a road trip to Chicago and I bought a new kind of cookie we have never tried. Pack things that you will look forward to eating and you don’t normally allow yourself to eat. Mix healthy and savory, but keep it fun.
- Create sing-along playlists. You might use Pandora or Spotify these days, and they are great, but if you make your own playlists on your phone then you will know EVERY song and that is the best. I have playlists like, “90’s,” “Slow Country,” and “Alabama Shakish” on my iPod. Whatever driving mood I am in, I can cue up the perfect playlist and sing along to every, single song (Mark loves when I do this). Also, by downloading songs instead of streaming, you will keep the tunes pumping when you’re heading through the Missouri hills and cell service cuts out. And,for parents out there, you can expose your kids to your favorite 90s music and use this as an opportunity tell them about how this is not the first time flannel shirts have been in style.
- Foam roll. Before traveling, Mark has found foam rolling loosens up the muscles in his neck and back. If you can pack a small foam roller, try hitting those tight muscles before, during, and after a trip to keep yourself loose and ready to go once the wagon pulls into its destination. Being in a car for more than six hours a stretch can wreak havoc on your spinal column and exacerbate sensitive areas. Roll it out and keep on rolling.
- Download podcasts or audiobooks. Start with the podcast S-town, which stands for Shit Town. It’s more like a podcast-audiobook than what many consider a pure podcast. I have recently gotten into podcasts and I am addicted. Podcasts are a nice break from music and you can really get into the stories. When I find a good podcast, I will devour the series while walking the dogs, doing laundry, or re-painting my adirondack chairs. In addition to S-town, check out these podcasts for your next road trip: Convicted, Invisibilia, and Ted Radio Hour.
- Develop a list of conversation starters. There’s nothing like jamming several hot bodies in a rolling tin can and talking politics. To avoid conspiracy theories involving orange politicians and red adversaries, create a list of fun, interesting topics. Stay away from any topic that will get you thrown out of the driver's seat, but talk about things like, upcoming plans, landscaping renovations, goals for the last six months of the year. Select topics that engage long term thinking because important life goals don’t always get addressed during the hustle and bustle of day to day. Also, create a list of offbeat topics that will spark fun conversations. For example, if you could crossbreed one giant African animal and a tiny insect to create the ultimate fighting and nurturing machine, what would you breed, what would it be called, and what would make it destructive and motherly? Or, how about this one: imagine you had a time machine and went back to the year 1874. As soon as you step out of the time machine (phone booth), you start barfing because you’re not used to the putrid smells. In that era, you have really white teeth compared to other people. How do you use advantages such as white teeth and your knowledge of the future to make one million dollars in less than five years?
As you hit the highway this year, plan a travel experience that makes the miles go by in style. Share your summer road trip tips in the comments section or on Facebook.