There is nothing quite as exhilarating as that feeling of freedom when you head out on the open highway. Some of our best memories can be made on the road, where the endless lanes lead to hours of conversation, cheerful banter or even the communion of silence.
It's here that our relationships can be strengthened or stretched; and take it from someone who has more than 21 different 15 plus hour road trips under her belt, road trips can make or break any relationship.
Here are some tips, tried and true, to keep real life road trips as idyllic and fun as they are in the movies.
1. Pack good snacks.
Things get tense when passengers get hangry. Take some time before you leave to prepare some good snacks and light meals so you are never left hungry, especially when covering long distances without many stops.
Freeze water bottles the night before to use as ice in the cooler, so your food stays fresh and your water stays cold.
2. Split up the driving.
Map out your trip and plan on who will drive each leg of the journey. It's less daunting when you go piece by piece, and time goes faster with shorter distance goals.
I like segmenting the trip into 200 kilometre stretches. It takes about two hours, which isn't too long for the driver and ensures regular bathroom breaks and fuel ups throughout the day. Some people prefer to stop as little as possible, but I find that frequent, shorter stops (think five to 10 minutes) make the day more enjoyable.
Evenly splitting the driving doesn't add much time to the journey and keeps everyone comfortable.
3. Plan your stops.
Spontaneity is great; well-planned spontaneity is better. Heading out with no finalized plan is OK, and sometimes more fun, but you need some degree of planning in advance.
You need to know where gas stations become scarce on your route so you can make sure you have a full tank. I once was traveling through mountains in a diesel truck and we went four hours without filling up because we didn't know the only station serving diesel had been shut down.
Stressors like low fuel add tension to the small space and kill the vibe.
4. Bring boredom busters.
It will take more than good conversation to stay amused for days in a vehicle. If you get carsick reading, bring games designed for the car like puzzles, or come armed with riddles that get everybody thinking. I personally like to pull some beautiful puns and atrocious dad jokes out of my large repertoire, but I am pretty sure I'm the only one amused by them. Sorry, not sorry co-pilots.
5. Have the perfect playlist.
The key ingredient for the perfect road trip is a playlist that keeps you energized and excited. Take a few minutes to put together the songs that have been on replay in your head.
If you don't play “Life is a Highway” by Rascal Flatts, was it really even a road trip?
You will be singing along and jamming with your passengers as the miles roll by. If your playlist runs out, put your shotgun rider on radio duty and find the cool local stations as you pass through town after town.
A road trip can be a blast or be a bore. When we are talking over 15 hours in a confined space, no matter how good the company, things can get uncomfortable.
But when you come prepared and armed with snacks, tunes, and games, you will make great memories and enjoy the ride. Embrace the detours, don't worry about the potholes, and make the journey the best part of your vacation.