By CASSIE TOLHURST
With the arrival of summer, students across the country are embarking on road trips to explore natural wonders and new cities. If you’re one of these adventurous humans, how do you make sure your trip will create amazing memories instead of being boring or disastrous?
The answer is preparation.
Here are some tips for what to bring and how to plan for the time of your life.
- Car Maintenance and Supplies
Before putting hundreds of miles on your car, have a mechanic you trust thoroughly inspect it, measure the air pressure in your tires—including the spare— change the oil, test your air conditioner, and investigate any weird little sounds. If you need to have some repairs done, it’s better to find out before you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Safety is paramount, no matter where you’re going or what you’re doing once you get there. In addition to maintaining and repairing your car before your trip, put a well-stocked emergency kit—complete with jumper cables, flashlights, first aid supplies, and so on—in the trunk. You can take several other simple safety precautions as well so your trip is as low-stress as possible and so you can focus on having fun.
- Technology and Internet Access
Unless you want your road trip to also function as a technology fast, you’ll need to connect to the Internet every now and then. You can use LTE data if necessary, but that tactic can get pricey. Instead, connect to Wi-Fi hotspots when possible.
Is your route taking you off the beaten path? Some phone companies, like AT&T, have apps to help you locate nearby hotspots. Having a mobile hotspot is especially helpful in rural areas where free Wi-Fi may be hard to come by, and luckily, there are more product options now than ever before. Along with car-compatible chargers, these key technology upgrades can make all the difference when you need to download new podcasts on the road or fine-tune your cross-country Spotify playlist (here’s a good example to get you started).
- Boredom Busters
Let’s face it: driving can get monotonous. If you want to fight off premature yawning and bond with your passengers, play some car games during your drive. Opt for childhood classics like the License Plate Game or Twenty Questions, or try some that are a bit more obscure. Check out this list from BuzzFeed for ideas—one called Fortunately/Unfortunately sounds pretty amazing.
If games aren’t your thing, try some getting-to-know-you questions instead. You can find lists ranging from easygoing to intensely personal. For the ultimate high-risk, high-reward situation, you can even go with “The 36 Questions That Lead to Love.”
- Snacks and Drinks
You’ll almost certainly need some good snacks along your way; even if you can stop at plenty of convenient places for food, having a supply of snacks can help you cut down on unnecessary stops and reduce your drive time. Some popular options: trail mix, bottled water, string cheese, carrot sticks, grapes, apples, and homemade cookies.
- Travel Funds
It’s exciting to run off impulsively and throw caution to the wind, but a little budgeting in advance can help you stay on track before, during, and after your trip. How much money do you expect to spend? Are you accounting for gas, food, lodging, and the random souvenirs you plan to pick up along the way? Have you checked into fees for any activities you have planned?
Make sure you have cash on hand and that none of your credit or debit cards are about to expire. You may even want to alert your card company about your travel plans so they know you’ll be using your cards out of state.
Whether you plan to explore national parks, wander a bustling city, or reconnect with old friends and family, your road trip can be one to remember. Buckle down and do a little preparation, then set out on the open road for an amazing trip.
Cassie Tolhurst is a recent grad, freelance writer, and a wannabe world traveler. Her passions include the newest tech gadgets, what’s streaming on Netflix, and the latest rides at Disneyland.