Summer is the perfect time for so many of life's pleasures. From beach vacations to pool lounging and barbecues, it's the ideal season to enjoy the outdoors.
Likewise, summer offers the chance to explore new places and hit the open road, thanks to generally favorable traveling conditions weather-wise.
If you're planning a road trip, there are a few rules you should consider to ensure not only your safety, but that you have one hell of an adventure:
1. Select your companions wisely
Choose friends you’re comfortable with and close to. You could end up living out of your car together.
2. Stay hydrated!
Especially when spending lots of time outside, it’s crucial that water is easily accessible.
Road trips are a great opportunity to hike and get exercise outdoors, so it’s important to have plenty of water, sports drinks or even coconut water, if that’s your preference.
Smartphones have made it easier to navigate unfamiliar areas, but it can be easy to end up with zero bars of cell reception when you’re on long, largely uninhabited stretches of highway.
Always have some backup hydration in tow, in case you can’t stop somewhere for beverages.
3. Make time to sleep
Try to get sleep as much as possible; no one likes cranky travel buddies, and no one wants a driver who’s nodding off.
It can be very challenging to get solid sleep on road trips, but it’s imperative to take naps whenever possible and turn in when tired.
4. Have an itinerary
It’s good to approach a road trip with at least an idea or framework for what you’d like to do.
Nothing is more disappointing than realizing on the ride home that you forgot to see or do something and it’s too late.
Have a list of things that are important to do and map out where they are in relation to each other, so you can accomplish things efficiently.
5. Be willing to toss the itinerary in favor of spontaneity
Sometimes, there is nothing better than ditching the plan to do something impulsive.
Whether you’ve made friends who have suggestions for you and invite you somewhere or you simply see something while driving that looks intriguing, always be ready to take advantage of the moment and the unexpected.
6. Research the climate(s)
Know what you’ll need to have with you given the climate and weather forecast.
If road tripping through Arizona, you’ll need drastically different options for the Grand Canyon, as opposed to Scottsdale or Phoenix.
Similarly, California’s coast varies greatly from north to south, and you might be surprised to see the expected coastal temperatures for summer.
Do your research and pack accordingly; purchasing a touristy hoodie out of obligation often feels like a moment of defeat.
7. Take your caravan for a pre-trip checkup
Taking the time to give your travel vehicle of choice a little TLC and having it looked at is a thousand times less annoying than breaking down on the road when you could be far from cell service, a shop or help of any kind.
Vehicle failures have the potential to have devastating consequences beyond inconvenience for passengers and fellow road warriors. Better safe than sorry.
8. No Song Left Behind
It’s easy to end up in a “no man’s land” of radio static when traveling across interstates.
Have tunes on hand both for entertainment and to make the twilight hours of driving more endurable for your caravan captain when the radio waves flatline.
Who doesn’t love a solid road trip playlist as the soundtrack to adventure?
9. Share your travel companions’ contact information
As a matter of precaution and to prepare for a worst-case scenario, make sure your roommates, parents and people close to you have the phone numbers and contact information for the people you are traveling with.
Even something as innocuous as your phone being lost or broken could worry the ones you love if they are unable to reach you for the duration of your trip.
10. Pack light
Make sure you have what you need, but don’t be excessive. If you’re planning on “roughing it,” you can probably leave a hairdryer at home.
It’s good to have a spare phone charger and a secret cash stash in case things go awry, but beyond bringing the bare necessities, you’ll be glad to have just the essentials.
11. Immortalize your memories
Bring journals, cameras and lots of laughter. You’ll want to record the fun adventures you’re having so you can reminisce in a week, year, or decades down the road.
Whether your memory-making weapons of choice include iPads or Polaroid cameras, don’t be afraid to be shutter happy or too shy to document the inside jokes that arise from a life on the road.
Down the line, you’ll be so glad that you did.